October 16, 2016

Meals out of $1 loaf of French bread

My love for French bread goes way back. Back to when I was in high school, and I would (no joke!) stop at Albertson's on my way home from school and buy a loaf of fresh hot French bread and eat it on the drive home. Literally, sat it on the passengers seat, tore off big ol chunks of it, and ate all the squishy soft bread until it was basically hollowed out.

Yep. Obviously, I was one of the cool kids...

These days, I still buy a loaf pretty much every time I go to the store, but my kids won't let me eat all myself. haha

I'm all about stretching a buck. Here's ten ways to make dinner with a loaf of $1 French bread.

French Toast
Shrimp Po'Boys
Deli Subs
French Bread Pizza
Chicken Stuffed French Bread
Meatball Subs
Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches
Fiesta Taco Bread
Sloppy Joe French Bread Pizza
Pioneer Woman's Olive Bread

Of course, French bread is a fantastic way to stretch a meal as well. It goes with pasta dishes, soups, comfort food, etc. Did I miss anything? Comment and let me know!
/thehowtomom @thehowtomom /kylieharris @thehowtomom +kylieharris bloglovin' rss feed thehowtomom@gmail.com Image Map

September 29, 2015

Must-haves for shoulder-length hair

A few months ago I made a drastic change and cut off about a foot of hair!
Eeek! Last pic with long hair!

Donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths

On the way home from the salon, in LOVE with my new cut!

I absolutely absolutely love it! I feel so much more polished and ...lighter somehow. And I'm thrilled to report that my ponytails now stay poofy withOUT having to use this tip or this tip. Yay!

It did did take awhile to get the hang of styling it though. After having long hair for like 4 years, it was a whole new ballpark. My amazing stylist suggested four products for my hair type and cut, and I politely thanked her for the advice, but didn't buy any of them, thinking that I already had stuff that would work.


After about 2 weeks of floofy weird hair that wouldn't curl right, I swallowed my pride and ordered the four products:
(Amazon affiliate links for convenience)

1. Simply Smooth Magic Potion conditioner
2. Alterna Bamboo Kendi Dry Oil Mist
3. Redken Clear Moisture Shampoo
4. BaByliss 1 inch curling iron

Total game changers. I have a LOT of very fine hair (thick but fine) with some poodle-y waves in the back. That conditioner is MIRACULOUS. I ditched the no-poo a couple years ago, because it wasn't working on my color treated hair. But I still only wash my hair once or twice a week. That conditioner is theeeee best conditioner I have ever used. And I've used a LOT of conditioners. It detangles but leaves zero ZERO residue. It smells amazing, and leaves my hair shiny and not even a smidge weighed down.  I highly recommend it.  If you haven't noticed... ha.

Those four things finally helped me achieve the glossy piecey bouncy hair I wanted! And combined with the Small Things Blog's videos on curling shoulder length hair, I was finally able to get the wavy look I was going for. (Note, she uses a 1 1/14 Babyliss iron, but I like the 1 inch) The trick, I've found is to curl the hair into ringlets, by keeping the curling iron vertical. Then when you're done curling and you basically feel like Shirley Temple, spray with the dry oil and run your fingers through it to break up the curls. Voila!

/thehowtomom @thehowtomom /kylieharris @thehowtomom +kylieharris bloglovin' rss feed thehowtomom@gmail.com Image Map

November 19, 2014

VTech InnoTab MAX Review and Giveaway!

I was provided with an InnoTab MAX from VTech for review, but as always, all opinions are my own.

We've got no shortage of tablets in this house (four!), and my girls love them for movies and games and video calls to relatives. But I'm always a little worried that they're going to stumble across something they shouldn't online, or make some crazy in-app purchase somehow.

So when VTech approached me and asked if I'd like to try out their InnoTab MAX, I jumped at the chance. I love the idea of having a tablet just for kids.
What I love:

Right out of the box, I was able to quickly set up the profiles, one for each kid and one parental profile. As soon as I was done, the girls snatched it away and started playing all on their own! They love the included Art Studio and the cute Toca Boca Pet Vet app. I like that there are plenty of pre-loaded apps, so I don't have to spend an arm and a leg to put enough apps on it to keep them interested.

Its nice to be able to let them play, without worrying that they'll stumble on something inappropriate online, or make any crazy purchases (you know what I'm talking about! Sneaky apps!).

They love having their own profiles, and its easy enough for my 3 year old to switch back and forth. The parent control panel is accessible only with my password, which is comforting.

The attached stylus is great. The girls feel very grown up using it, and I like that they get to practice fine motor skills when using games to trace letters, instead of just using their finger. Its actually real practice for writing!

I also like that its durable and easy to prop up. No flimsy covers or delicate screens. There are grippers on some of the edges, which makes it easier to keep stable.

The apps do a good job of reminding kids what they can do next. If they're drawing in the Art Studio, it will prompt them where they can change to paintbrush or how to start over. The prompting keeps kids engaged.

Paige (3.5 yrs) playing the Toca Boca Pet Vet app, her fav!

Specifics from VTech about the InnoTab MAX (ages 3-9 MSRP $109.99):
  • VTech’s 4th generation kids’ learning tablet features its fastest processor yet with up to six times the processing power of previous generation and a 7” high-resolution multi-touch screen display
  • InnoTab MAX features an enhanced 2nd generation version of Premium VTech Kid Connect™, at no additional charge, allowing children and parents to exchange voice and text messages, photos, drawings and fun stickers in real time between the tablet and a smartphone
  • InnoTab MAX offers the best of both learning worlds with access to more than 650 educator-endorsed, age and stage appropriate learning titles as well as carefully cultivated educational Android apps that can be purchased and downloaded through VTech’s Learning Lodge® app store
  • The tablet comes with 15 onboard apps including Premium VTech® Kid Connect, My Magic Beanstalk, Movie Maker, Art Studio, Wonder Cam Max, E-Reader with Story Dictionary and more
  • InnoTab MAX also comes with one free Toca Boca app and two additional free apps that can be downloaded from the Learning Lodge
  • Other InnoTab MAX features include a built-in rechargeable Lithium battery and kid-safe Wi-Fi so kids can explore appropriate online games, videos and websites that have been pre-selected by VTech
  • Parental controls allow parents to manage their child’s apps, web access and tablet time, as well as view a progress log
You can also check out these videos from VTech to get an in-depth look at the InnoTab MAX.

To purchase a VTech InnoTab MAX for your family, visit the VTech store here, or you can connect with them on Twitter or Facebook.

Giveaway Time!!!!!

One lucky reader will receive an Innotab MAX, valued at $109.99!

Giveaway is open to US residents who are at least 18 years old. Void where prohibited by law. No Purchase Necessary. Giveaway ends November 22, 2014 at 11:59pm EST. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

/thehowtomom @thehowtomom /kylieharris @thehowtomom +kylieharris bloglovin' rss feed thehowtomom@gmail.com Image Map

September 25, 2014

Quiet bags - for church, appointments, car rides, etc.

Back in my early parenting days, I used to pack a massive bag to church. I had an extra outfit for the baby, at least a dozen baby toys, books, snacks, diapers, formula, the works. Even when my daughter got a bit older, I still packed a way-too-big bag. Toys, coloring books, multiple snacks, etc. I began to realize that the constant stream of toys and snacks just contributed to her antsy-ness. She had learned that church was a time to make mommy go through her bag of tricks! Not quite what I had in mind for church.

My husband suggested that we go bag-free and see if that helped. But I knew that wasn't practical. I still needed to bring diapers and tissues, and a couple necessities. But he was on to something. We needed to train the girls to be happy with less entertainment.

So I made a small tote bag (about the size of a coloring book), and told Leah it was our special strawberry church bag. And we seriously simplified what we brought to church. It took a couple of weeks of child-torture, but after awhile they adjusted to having less. And they were more quiet and more behaved. For the most part.

So these are some suggestions for what to put in a simple quiet bag. I would suggest bringing 2-3 of these items per week. And maybe a book or two.

2 Color Water Timer - these are mesmerizing, even for adults. My mom still keeps a keychain sized version of this and passes it to fussy babies in church.

Melissa and Doug Water Wow Coloring Book - these books are an awesome non-messy option for little ones who want to color. The marker just uses water, and when the pages dry, the colors disappear, ready for next time! Melissa and Doug make a few different kinds of these, some educational, some for girls and some for boys.

Lacing Cards - Eeboo makes beautiful lacing cards in lots of different themes. Even if little ones aren't coordinated enough to lace them up, they'll certainly enjoy un-lacing them!

Neon Dot Stckers (garage sale dots) - toddlers love stickers, and these are a cheap option, perfect for chubby fingers! You can also draw a quick bunch of circles on a piece of paper for them to practice placing the stickers inside.

Magnetic Tin Scene - my kids love these magnetic tins. We have the house one and the transportation one. They love to put all the magnets on and then take them off again.

Tangle Jr - did you ever play with one of these in a museum gift shop?! Perfect little fidget toy for older kids who are learning to listen, but need to keep their hands busy.

Imagine Ink coloring pad - another awesome no-mess coloring idea. These books come in lots of different characters, and the colors are bright and fun. This is my favorite brand by far!

Crayola Pip Squeaks (skinnies) - these little markers are perfect for throwing in a little zip bag. They take up less room than full sized markers. And, of course, they're washable. Perfect!

Magic Loops - another gift shop fidget toy find! These twist into lots of fun shapes.

Magnetic Storybook - these are another great magnet toy/book option! This brand has a few different themes as well, and the little case up top is perfect for holding all the pieces

Steno Notepad - this is our favorite size notebook for church.

Occasionally we throw in a sticker book or coloring book as well. I've wanted to make some of those laminated file folder games, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Anything I missed? And I know, there are probably lots of opinions out there, as far as what is "church appropriate" and what is not, and that's totally fine. I've seen families that let their kids bring matchbox cars and Ninja Turtles, and other families only allow one pencil and a small notebook for drawing. To each his own! At the end of the day, we're all just trying to keep our kids quiet at church so we can maybe listen a bit!

/thehowtomom @thehowtomom /kylieharris @thehowtomom +kylieharris bloglovin' rss feed thehowtomom@gmail.com Image Map