Burger Bar Party Ideas

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MakeYourSummer #MADEFORDOERS #CollectiveBias This post contains affiliate links.

One of the best things about summer is all the grilled food, from burgers to kabobs to corn on the cob. I love celebrating special events with barbeques so I thought it would be fun to put together a burger bar with all my family’s favorite burger toppings. It was a great way to spend a summer evening!

Putting the burger bar together was easy. I headed to Kroger and got pre-shaped burger patties from the meat department, buns, and all the burger toppings that I needed and we didn’t already have. I also bought New Kleenex® Wet Wipes Gentle Clean and VIVA® Vantage® Big Roll Paper Towels for all the messes that were sure to happen (because can anyone eat a burger with all the fixings and NOT have everything fall out the bottom of their bun and drip all over their hand?!)


Burger Bar Toppings

The fixings I included were:

  • Cheeses (Cheddar, Provolone, and Colby jack)
  • Bacon
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Pickles
  • Pineapple
  • Coleslaw
  • Creamy Mushroom Sauce
  • Guacamole
  • Dressing (I used Caesar but Blue Cheese & Ranch Dressings would be perfect as well)
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Steak Sauce
  • Fresh Tomato Salsa
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise

Other toppings you could add include onion straws, chipotle mayo, hot sauce, fried green tomatoes, hummus, and more. Maybe even take a poll to see what your guests love on their burgers. That way you can have all their favorites out.

Personally, one of my favorite things is creamy mushroom sauce that a restaurant near me serves on their burgers. It is SO GOOD! I tried to recreate it for my burger bar and, while it’s not exactly the same as the restaurant’s, I thought it was pretty delicious! I love sauteed mushrooms on my steaks and burgers but this sauce is much creamier and more flavorful.

To make the creamy mushroom sauce you need the following:

  • 1/4 cup of Heavy Cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of Worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon of Garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of Butter
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 pound of Mushrooms

To make:

  • Heat butter and garlic on medium heat until garlic is translucent
  • Add mushrooms, Worcestershire and cream (in a pinch, if you don’t have cream because SOMEBODY forgot to buy it at the store {wink-wink}, you can use milk with a little flour to thicken it)
  • Stir everything together and cover for about five minutes, stirring occasionally

This creamy mushroom sauce is best served warm which is why it’s the last thing I added to the table before everyone ate.

And remember when I suggested you buy wet wipes from the store? This is why. I always end up with this deliciousness smothered all over my hand after I’ve eaten (and picked up the stray pieces of mushrooms that fell from my burger!)

Thankfully I had grabbed everything I needed at Kroger. I found the Kleenex Wet Wipes in the facial tissues aisle next to boxes of Kleenex tissues and the VIVA® Vantage Paper Towels on the top shelf in the paper towel aisle.

Setting up the burger bar is almost as fun as watching everyone try to eat the messy burgers lol. The Kleenex Wet Wipes are perfect for the messy hands and faces of adults. I like that they don’t contain any harsh chemicals and they come in small packs so I can easily keep them in my kitchen drawer and purse.

I love burger bars because they are a pretty easy party idea that requires minimal fuss once the party has started so you can enjoy more time with family and friends. Plus, clean up is a breeze when you have the right tools!

Once I picked everything up from the table I just used the VIVA® paper towels to wipe up the drips and spills from the cute checkered picnic tablecloth I had used. One swipe was all it took for the paper towel to pick up drips of sauce, salsa and more! BBQ messes are no match for VIVA®.

Do you love to have barbeques in the summer? If so, have you ever put together a burger bar?

Burger Bar Party IdeasVisit the Social Hub for more unique grilling inspiration and also to enter the #MakeYourSummer Sweepstakes for a chance to win a Kroger gift card or a NASCAR experience!

No Purchase Necessary. The #MakeYourSummer #Sweepstakes begins on June 11, 2018 at 12:00:00 AM ET and ends on July 23, 2018 at 11:59:59 PM ET. There are multiple Entry Periods during the Sweepstakes. Legal residents of the 50 US/DC only, 18+. Void where prohibited. By participating, you agree to the Official Rules at https://makeyoursummerrules.pgtb.me/MRsDsl. All shared entries should include: #MakeYourSummer #Sweepstakes. Ends 7/23/18. See rules at https://makeyoursummerrules.pgtb.me/MRsDsl.

Which Sport Will Be Best For Your Child?

To say that my family is involved in youth sports is an understatement. Between my two boys, they currently participate in football, baseball, soccer, basketball, karate, gymnastics, dance, and bowling (which I guess could be considered a sport since I heard it will be in the Olympics soon!). Life is crazy at times but I let the boys participate in what they want to and have seen the many benefits that sports have brought to our family.

While my oldest is the “play everything” type, my youngest has been a lot pickier about what he wanted to do and it took a lot of trial and error to find what he loves and what he can have a successful experience participating in. Lucas struggled with the concepts of football (in his eyes intercepting the ball was cheating), thought the hour long karate class was boring and had too many rules, and didn’t really enjoy the running back and forth involved in a soccer game (which meant he spent the whole hour just wandering around the field). He does however, love the creativity he can express through dance, enjoy showing off his cartwheels at gymnastics and playing all positions on a baseball field (simultaneously lol). Thankfully we found places that can accomodate his special needs and he is thriving (mom brag alert…. he’s headed to the state competion for gymnastics through the Special Olympics!!)

I thought I’d share some of the things we learned while trying to find the perfect fit for him in hopes that it could help another parent find what works for their child without the years or trial and error we went through. Though he’s on the Autism Spectrum which probably led to some of the issues we’ve had, I think most of these things to think about can be considered for kids of all abilities. Here are some things to consider before choosing a sport for your young child to try:

What do they gravitate to during play?

Next time you head outside pay attention to what your child tends to gravitate to. Do they love playing catch? Are they kicking things around? When indoors, what active things are they doing at playtime? Do they like to wrestle with their siblings? Do they love to dance around the house? Do they pretend to be ninjas? These natural tendencies during play can give you a clue to what sport they might enjoy!

Is there anything they are naturally good at?

Sometimes children show talent at a young age for something and I think that’s definitely a sport to consider if they seem to also enjoy it. For example, my nephew and neice’s brother, who is three, was playing a carnival like hockey game this past weekend and he was hitting the ball into the goal more often than most of the children that played the game even though he was the youngest of the group by about four years. One of the adults joked that he might be a future hockey star, and though he was joking, it did seem that he might have some natural talent when it comes to hockey that may be worth exploring.

What sport is a good fit for their personality?

Sometimes a child’s personality or temperament will help guide what would be (and would not be) a good fit for them. Here are some things to ask yourself:

  • Team sport or individual sport? Does the child play well with others or prefer to play on their own? For example, a child who plays well with others might enjoy a team sport like football but someone who prefers to play on their own may like a solo sport like ice skating or golf.
  • In the spotlight or out of it? For example, a child who likes being in the spotlight may love a sport that is performed in front of an active audience like a ball game, but a child who is shy may prefer a sport that is done without a large crowd like swimming where they are in water and tuning out the people in the stands.
  • Follow the rules or create their own? For example, kids who love rules would like karate where their every step is coordinated while kids who want to be creative would probably enjoy dance more.
  • Competitive or not? For example, a child who loves competition may enjoy a team sport that keeps score like lacrosse and a child who gets anxious during competition may enjoy a sport that doesn’t keep score, like gymnastics or karate.

Have you found a sport your child enjoys? I’d love to hear about your children’s favorite sports in the comments below!

New Kitten Gift Basket

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LitterMaidWalnut #LitterMaid #CollectiveBias

Getting our two cats, and becoming a fur mommy, was one of the most memorable moments of the past five years for me. I remember heading to the store before we went to pick up Peaches and Boomer, and being so overwhelmed by all the options and leaving the store with a trunk full of things. I thought it would be fun to put together a little gift basket that would be perfect for someone adopting a kitten so they can focus on the excitement adoption brings, and not all of the “stuff” they need to buy.

Here are the items I put in the gift basket:

Cat Bed

The base of the basket holds a small, soft cat bed. Kittens may be active but they still enjoy napping in a warm, sunny spot and a cat bed is perfect for this purpose.

Toys

I filled a little plastic jar with small toys because I know from experience that cat toys tend to go missing quite easily (though I’m guessing the majority of them lost in our home could probably be found under the couch!)  Kittens have a lot of energy so little balls and other toys will get a lot of use and putting them in a small container makes it easy to give them and then gives the new pet parent something to hold them in.

Grooming Items

I included a pair of nail clippers and a brush in this gift basket. Since both items are small I hung them on the outside of the basket with decorative ribbon. Other grooming items could include cat cleansing wipes or even a lint brush for the new pet parent who will soon discover that black pants and pets don’t mix :)

Litter

Every cat parent knows that litter is a must-have item and while shopping for litter I look for two main features- that it has odor control and it’s clumping litter which makes cleaning the cat box easier. One great brand I discovered recently that has both of these features is LitterMaid® Premium Walnut which is made with natural walnut shells. Not only does it help neutralize tough litter box odors and have powerful clumping that makes clean-up quick and easy, but it’s 99% dust free which I love.

(Boomer just had to get in a photo. I think some of the toys had catnip so he jumped up and was sniffing around. Sorry Boomer, this gift basket is NOT for you!)

Picture Frame

A picture frame is a sweet idea to include because then the recepient of the basket can display a photo of themselves with their fur baby. When I got my first pet, a kitten named Boots, in 1989 we took a picture of our family all together with him and it’s still one of my favorite pictures to date.

Odor Eliminator Spray

Odor eliminating spray is great for the cat bed, the couch, or anywhere else the cats sleep on a regular basis. Coupled with the LitterMaid® Premium Walnut that neutralizes odors in the cat box, their house will stay smelling fresh and welcoming to guests.

LitterMaid® Premium Walnut is now exclusively available at Walmart and can be found in the cat litter aisle.

You can also add cat food and/or treats, a collar, a cat box, pet food dishes and more to your basket! What would you put in a gift basket to give a friend who was adopting a new cat?

Realistic Cleaning Tips For Busy Parents

Thanks to Unelko Corporation for sponsoring this post.

Out of all the things that I have to do as a mom, cleaning definitely tops the list of my least favorite tasks (with listening to my kids whine as a close second lol). Nevertheless, cleaning is something that must be done so today I’m sharing some of my top cleaning tips for busy parents. The best part? These are all realistic! I’m not giving you a list of 20 things you need to clean in a day or expecting you to make cleaning your house a full-time job. After all, we all have errands to run, kids to love on, and a few dozen shows we’d love to binge watch. Whether you are in the season of motherhood known as the toddler years, your kids are finally back in school after the flu ravaged your home, or you just can’t seem to keep your house tidy even on the best of days, read on for cleaning tips that will work for you!

The room-by-room cleaning method

We are going to start with one task that will work on even the messiest of homes- pick a room that is the easiest to clean up (or parents of littles may want to start with a room the kids don’t frequent often) and tackle that room at naptime, after the kids go to sleep, or (if you have older kids) on the weekend when they can help. (BTW- the entry of your home can totally count as a “room” here!) Personally, I have found this is the best way to clean because you can actually see the progress which creates momentum, unlike cleaning a little bit here and there throughout your home and then an hour later it looks exactly the same. This motivates me to not only keep it clean but makes it easier to tidy up.

When doing this room-by-room cleaning method I start by moving stuff that belongs elsewhere. I don’t put it away but instead just drop and run back to the room I was working on (because we all know that story about the mouse who wanted a cookie and ended up doing a million other things….) Those who have a large home may want to just gather up anything that doesn’t belong into a laundry basket so you aren’t running around and wasting time. I put away and tidy things up and then sweep or vacuum and clean surfaces. I don’t organize drawers. I don’t pull everything out of the closet and start an organizing project. I pick up and tidy what can be seen and save the projects for another time. After all, I just want my house to be presentable should someone stop by. Once I’ve gone through the above and done this for all rooms, I mop the floors. This may take a few days but then you can start my next steps with a semi-clean home.

Create a cleaning plan that works for your schedule

I found a daily/weekly/monthly schedule works best for me and suggest that you create a cleaning plan that works for your schedule. I have a short daily list that consists of two 15 minute pickup times (one in the morning after my kids have gone to school but before I start my work day and one in the evening) and some basic bare-minimum cleaning. I have a weekly list that are things I don’t need to do daily but at least want to do once during the week, along with larger deep cleaning tasks and organizing projects I have on a monthly list. Some days I’ll get one or two weekly or monthly tasks done, other days I just get the daily basic tasks completed and then there are the days when I’m trying to meet work deadlines or am too busy to even enjoy my coffee and nothing gets done. It happens to us all and honestly, if your kids are fed and happy, just call the day a win and realize that tomorrow is a new day to try again!

Use Invisible Shield® cleaning products because they work well and minimize future cleaning time

If you are spending time cleaning you want to use products that work well and make cleaning easy. I love the line of Invisible Shield® products that shield and protects glass and other surfaces because not only do they work, but they minimize cleaning time in the future by protecting against re-soiling and stains without all the harsh chemicals. When you go back to clean the second time, you’ll notice far less soiling, dust and spotting and how effortless it is to go over the surface. The Invisible Shield® Marble & Granite Cleaner and Protector even leaves a lustrous shine that will last longer than any other Marble or Granite cleaner! Their products also prevent corrosion around water areas such as faucets, sinks, shower doors, wall tile, and tubs, extending the life of hard surfaces & fixtures. Anything that protects our home investement and lets us spend less time cleaning the shower and more time cuddling on the couch with the kids is a must-have if you ask me!

While all the products are amazing, my favorites in the line are the Invisible Shield® Water Spot & Stain Remover and the Invisible Shield® Protective Glass & Surface Coating that let me tackle one of the most difficult and time consuming areas to clean- the bathroom- with ease. They specifically help with the shower, removing stains and protecting the build up from coming back. Just look at the difference below and it only took minutes to clean! Plus, the protective glass & surface coating saves valuable time because it reduces the need to squeegee and keeps glass cleaner longer.

I love the brighter appearance that cleaning with these products give all my surfaces because shiny glass, counters, and more make my house look cleaner, even when there are toys strewn about the floor as my kids play!

Keep a list of quick tasks you can do when you have a few minutes

When you are a busy parent you need to utilize every second of the day to the best of your ability. So often I’d find myself checking my phone or just standing around as I waited on hold or for the water to boil or any of the other times I’d find myself with a few minutes. I suggest making a list of quick tasks you can do in 3-5 minutes of time so when you find yourself with a few extra minutes you can complete something on the list. Things like cleaning a mirror, wiping down the baseboards in a room, or throwing a load of laundry in the washer can all be done in minutes. Five minutes may not seem like a lot of time to get something done but if you had just 10 minutes a day to do a quick task or two, you’d have about 60 hours of “extra” cleaning time each year!

Ask for help

As much as we think we can do it all, we can’t. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner or kids for help with cleaning. I know it often seems like there is so much to do around the house and we get frustrated when they can pass up that stuff on the step waiting to go upstairs or the overflowing trash can, but sometimes our family members just need us to be clear about what we need from them. They aren’t mind readers after all! Start by giving them specific tasks or asking them to do something on a daily or weekly basis to take some of the cleaning responsibilities off your to-do list.

You can purchase the Invisible Shield products on Amazon and they even have bundles like the Household Spray Cleaner Combo (which includes the Invisible Shield Glass & Surface Cleaner & Stainless Shine and Marble and Granite) and the Glass Essentials Combo (which includes the Invisible Shield Glass & Surface cleaner, Water Spot & Stain Remover, and Protective Glass & Surface Coating).

Do you have any cleaning tips to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below but before you go, enter the giveaway to win some of these amazing products yourself!

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Mommy To “Bee” Gift Basket

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NatureMadePrenatalDHA #CollectiveBias

I think that one of life’s greatest blessings is children so it’s no wonder that pregnancy is celebrated like it is in our culture. From baby showers to gifts, moms to be are often overwhelmed with love from their friends and family. I created a cute little “Mommy to Bee” gift basket that is perfect to give as a gift to someone who is expecting. What you include can depend on the mom that’s receiving the gift basket but I included some necessities that I used when I was pregnant with my own boys.

Essentials I added into my gift basket:

  • Nature Made Prenatal Multi + 200 mg DHA Vitamins from Sam’s Club- because a healthy mom equals a healthy baby
  • Peppermints – relieve dry mouth and freshen breath (especially needed during the 1st trimester)
  • Decorated journal – to document the pregnancy
  • Mom mug – for tea or coffee
  • Nail polish – to brighten those toes before she can’t see them anymore
  • Stretch mark lotion – to help prevent stretch marks
  • Chocolate – does this need an explanation?
  • Tin with lip balm in it – for dry, chapped lips

Other ideas include:

  • Gingerale and crackers – for queasy stomachs
  • Pickles – a commonly craved food during pregnancy
  • A coupon for a month’s worth of maid service – mom will be busy with the baby and will need help around the home
  • Pregnancy book – to refer to when she has questions in the middle of the night
  • “Mom to be” holiday ornament – a cute item to add if you are giving this around the holidays

Before I added the things to my gift basket I decorated the outside of it with letters that say “mommy to” and then I added a large bee shape to make it “mommy to bee”. I added bows to the sides of the container to make it even cuter (I just can’t resist big bows and if the baby is a girl they can be used as hair ties when she gets older). Once you’re done decorating the outside you can add some crinkle paper and tissue paper inside the basket as a base for all the goodies if you’d like.

I tried my best to keep this gift for mom and not add any baby items in it. It was a hard thing to do because there is tons of adorable baby stuff out there! Keep in mind that as the months go by and the mom has the baby she probably won’t get much for herself (#MomLife) so you want to make this about her as much as possible.

What you add will depend on the mom you are giving it to, but I think the prenatal vitamins are must-haves in the basket because a healthy mom equals a healthy baby. Nature Made Prenatal Multi + 200 mg DHA Vitamins provides essential vitamins and minerals (before and during pregnancy) including Folic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Iodine, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D3†. It also provides 200 mg DHA which may help support fetal brain and eye development † and Folic Acid which is an important B Vitamin for Women of Childbearing Age and Pregnant Women because it plays a critical role in the proper development of the baby’s nervous system.†

Nature Made Prenatal Multi + 200 mg DHA Vitamins, made from carefully selected ingredients under strict manufacturing processes, are available in an easy-to-swallow softgel and can be purchased from Sam’s Club. They contain No Synthetic Dyes, No Yeast or Starch, No Artificial Flavors, are Gluten Free and have clinically proven absorption of Folic Acid and Iron.

What would you include in your “mom to bee” gift basket? I’d love to hear what you think are the essentials for newly pregnant mamas!

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Why Camping Trips Make Some Of The Best Family Vacations

I love taking mini-vacations with my family and I’ve shared before about how much we enjoy camping. There’s just something about being in nature, away from most of our technology, that creates the perfect atmosphere for quality family time making great memories together. I wanted to share why I believe that camping trips make some of the best family vacations, whether you visit a campsite across the country or just camp overnight in the next town over.

Camping creates the most uninterrupted family time together. When we are at home we are all going different directions, between work, school, sports and activities. When we are camping though, we spend most of our time together. Camping trips mean your family is with each other from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep (and even then you stay together sleeping in the same tent or cabin!)

Everyone pitches in and gets the work done on the campsite. Whether it’s pitching the tent, building the campfire, or making dinner, everyone’s help is needed to get the job done. Often at home we don’t spend time doing all of the daily chores together but it’s nice to work as a team to make things run smoothly.

Camping trips are made for relaxing. For the most part, camping is a pretty unscheduled vacation. There are no places you need to be early in the morning and no dinner reservations to keep. Most of the time camping is spent just sitting around the campfire- what could be more relaxing than that?

Families get a break from electronics while camping. Nowadays most families, including our’s, are addicted to their technology. Camping is a pretty unplugged vacation with no tv, no video games and limited cell reception and wi-fi. We bring our phones along but try to limit use to the early mornings (when the boys wake up before the sun!) and then a little bit in the evenings while the kids are waiting for dinner to cook on the campfire or grill. It’s a change for the boys but they don’t seem to mind that much because they are too busy playing or roasting marshmallows for s’mores.

Kids can have more independence at a campground than they might get otherwise. Since many campgrounds are fairly small, kids can get a sense of independence while still being under the watchful eyes of their parents. I was able to let my boys go to the playground and walk around with other kids while watching them from my chair at our campsite. This made my boys feel like “big kids” but still gave me comfort knowing where they were and what they were doing.

Campgrounds are a great way for kids to meet different types of people, practice their social skills and make new friends. Since families tend to stay at campgrounds for at least a couple days (and sometimes even a week or more) children can develop friendships with kids that come from different states and backgrounds than they do. This last time we went camping, Lucas- who typically has a harder time making new friends- quickly became friends with a girl about his age and he spent a lot of time playing with her. They got along so well that the second he woke up in the morning he was standing at our cabin door waiting to see when she woke up so he could go play with her. It was the cutest thing to watch and I loved seeing the friendship they had formed in less than a day.

Camping gets kids outside. I’ll be honest- my kids don’t spend nearly as much time outside as they should (and most of the time they are outside is spent dong structured activities like sports). Camping is a great way to get kids outside playing and leads to a lot of spontaneous fun. We love bringing balls, toy rockets, and other things that they can play with.

Campgrounds often offer a lot of free fun. Once you pay for the campsite rental most everything else is free. We’ve enjoyed hayrides, flashlight candy hunts, face painting, swimming in the pool, a jumpy, mini-golf, a playground and more! It’s nice not having to pay for every little thing we want to do and it ends up being a fairly cheap vacation.

Have you ever gone camping with your family? I’d love to hear about your favorite camping memories in the comments below! (P.S.- Don’t love the idea of tent camping? I’ve discovered camping cabins and I’m in love!)