The Importance of Making Time for Play #CadburyHighTea #Spon

Hosting pretend tea parties is an important part of almost every girls adolescence. I believe that it is important to learn to pretend and especially learn how to play at a young age. Playing is a crucial part of life. It not only helps us to learn and develop, but also helps us to feel connected with those around us, to laugh, exercise, and also to relieve stress. So why do we as adults tend to stop “playing” and focus only on daunting tasks such as work, chores and study? Don’t you think that if we spent more time playing we might actually be happier in life? If we included more playtime in our schedules it would probably not only help our mood, but would benefit our children at the same time. 
This last weekend, in the spirit of re-kindling playtime, Raising Dick and Jane hosted a very special tea party. We invited our friends, both children and adults alike, to join us for a summer ice cream high tea. Since the weather was HOT and no body really wanted to be drinking HOT beverages, we decided to serve pink lemonade, tasty snacks and Cadbury ice cream. 
It was a special time. The children immediately took a liking to the tea sets and the hats that we had set out for them. They, without any help from the parents, started imagining themselves in a fancy castle sipping their tea with the Duchess. I even caught a few of the older children teaching the young ones how to hold their pinkies out when sipping their tea. It was darling! The parents were a bit shyer to join in. But of course they were. . like the old children’s movies forewarned, when you grow up you loose you ability to pretend and play. Well, I for one never want to grow up! So I put on my hat, sat down and poured myself a cup of tea. All of the little girls giggled and laughed at the sight of me in my hat sipping my tea, but were more than willing to allow me to join in their fun. 
We all had a fabulous time playing at our tea party and benefiting from the laughter we shared.
 It doesn’t have to be anything special or as extravagant as our high tea, but try and set aside a little bit of playtime with your kids this week. You might be surprised at what a great time you will have. Use this time to bond with them, talk with them and just enjoy them. They wont stay little forever and the skill of play might be lost.
What do you do to create playtime with your kids?
Now, just for giggles. Here’s a candid shot of even the dads getting into the fun. Haha! Shhh….
<3 Dick and Jane  
Disclosure: Our tea party was sponsored by Cadbury and MomSelect. We were provided with a free kit containing tea party supplies, hats and ice cream for our event. All opinions are our own of any said brands. 

Cookin’ from Scratch : Veggie Pesto Pizza

I have decided to start a new series on this blog called Cookin’ from Scratch. Each week I will post a recipe that is made from all basic ingredients because that is how we like to do it around here. We will also host a linky at the bottom of the post so other home cookers can link up their recipes as well. Hey, I love to learn too! 

Today we are going to talk about how to make Veggie Pesto Pizza from scratch. This is a three part recipe, however today we are going to talk about how to put all three together for a final product. I will link you to other homemade recipes when needed. 
Veggie Pesto Pizza
Ingredients: 
Broccoli
Sugar Snap Peas
Baby Bella Mushrooms – Sliced
Feta Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese

Directions: 
1. Start by laying out your pizza dough and preparing it for toppings. 
2. In a large skillet, add a teaspoon of oil (I use Barlean’s Organic Oils Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 16-Ounce Jar). Heat to high. Add broccoli, peas, and mushrooms to skillet and saute. 
3. Once the veggies are cooked, remove them from heat. 
4. Spread your pizza crust with pesto sauce and top with cooked veggies. 
5. Top pizza with mozzarella cheese and feta cheese. 
6. Bake at 375 degrees until cheese is melted. Serve. 
Curious about my awesome green pan shown in the post? 

Its amazing! The pan is called Ozeri Green Earth Textured Ceramic Nonstick Frying Pan. It is one of the world’s first frying pans to achieve non-stick perfection while remaining absolutely free of PTFE, PFOA and other harmful chemicals. I loved it to begin with because of the fun green color (it matched my kitchen). Then once I started learning more about the pan, I loved it even more. Did you know that most conventional pans are made from PTFE? When PTFE is heated to high temperatures it starts to decompose and releases fumes which have been documented to be harmful to small animals and birds and can be harmful to humans as well. Plus, conventional pans use PFOA which the EPA has classified as a “persistent pollutant of the environment”.  The Ozeri Green pan is made from only natural elements derived from nature and when heated to high temps, no pollutants are released into the environment. It is also shown to be more durable and scratch resistant than other non stick pans. 

Ozeri Ceramic Pans are available on Amazon: 
<3 Dick and Jane
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.


Do you have a homemade recipe to share?

Dick and Jane Tour : Mackinac Island, MI #ad

Some of the products featured in this post were provided to us free of charge. 

Summer is all geared up and you haven’t spent any time enjoying it yet? Its time to get out there and have some fun! Raising Dick and Jane has scoped out the best places to visit as a family in the great state of Michigan and were sharing them with you. Our first stop on our Dick and Jane Tour Michigan series is Mackinac Island, MI
If you haven’t yet visited Mackinac Island, MI you are missing out. The kids will love it and the parents will feel like kids again. After all, where else on Earth can you ride bikes all day as your main form of transportation and find a fudge shop on every corner?  These are the things dreams are made of. . . 
Yes, Mackinac Island is a real island. There are no bridges to or from, but getting there is no problem. In fact, getting there is quite fun (and family friendly). All you need to do is look for the Shepler’s Ferry Dock on either the Mackinaw City or St. Ignas main lands. Shepler’s is all about families and goes out of their way to make your transportation to the island memorable. As we entered the ship the kids were given Shepler’s stickers to remember their first boat rides and we were all surprised to receive an up close tour of the under belly of the Mackinaw Bridge during our ride across. This trip ended up being both fun and educational! Plus, the kids loved it!
Getting to meet the Captain and learn to drive the ship
Once we arrived on the island the kids (ok, all of us) were smiling ear to ear at the sights and sounds of the island. From the sound of horse shoes clomping on the pavement to the smell of fresh foods and treats drifting through the air. We were ready to have a great day and getting to see the horses was top on our list. No, we couldn’t pet or touch them. These horses had a job to do. We could, however, take a ride on one of famous Mackinac Islands carriage tours and get a behind the scenes look at the entire island. There is more to the island than just shops and fudge (even though the fudge is worth the trip alone). You may not know that Mackinac Island partially consists of a beautiful nature preserve. The untouched wildlife on this island is breathtaking. From the natural wonder of Arch rock to the trees and crisp blue waters you would think that you’ve found paradise. As you relax on your carriage ride through the preserve and listen to the clop clomp of the horses hooves with the cool lake breeze drifting through your hair try not to fall asleep. . there is more to see yet. 
They even let the kids help drive the carriage!
About half way through the carriage tour the horses will drop you off at a little secret house. Ok, so it is not so secret, but it is worth taking a peek inside. This little house is also known as The Wings of Mackinac. Do you ever wonder what it would feel like to walk into a flower field and have hundreds of butterflies flutter up around you, landing on your shoulders, head and nose? This is probably as close as you are going to get. Inside this little house is a multitude of happy butterflies ready to show you their majestic colors up close. There are benches to sit and rest on and if you are still long enough you may find a brave butterfly will come perch on you. I had one land on my purse (that little butterfly had good taste, love my Miche)! 
After you’ve enjoyed Mackinac Islands natural element, head on over to Fort Mackinac and enjoy learning about the islands historical background. It truly is something different when you step back into the shoes of those that lived and fought there many years ago. The fort is preserved in its natural state and relives the lives of the soldiers and their families with hourly reenactments, songs and activities for the kids. There is also a children’s museum where they can crawl around, touch things, try on clothes and learn a thing or two too. 
By now you have probably worked up quite an appetite and your in luck. Mackinac Island has over 43 restaurant options to choose from. Our number one pick is the Seabiscuit Cafe. The food is amazing and you can order anything from burgers and french fries to the local catch of the day. The kids ordered chicken strips (no big surprise there) and they appeared to be hand battered in fresh bread crumbs. Best of all, they tasted great. I ordered the honey nut chicken salad sandwich with sweet potato fries and the hubby had a fresh whitefish rueben. Everything was delectable. 
After fueling back up with lunch we wanted to ride solo for awhile. You know, take the road less traveled and see what we could find. Like I said before there are only three modes of transportation on the island. . horses, bikes and your feet. We opted for the bikes. Luckily, you don’t have to schlep your bikes across on the ferry (you can if you want to) because the island has bikes ready for you to use! Just hop on over to Mackinac Cycle and choose your ride. Once you are free to roam the island you can either choose to take the hill paths up to enjoy looking at all of the beautifully kept homes or you can take the scenic route along the outer edge of the island and enjoy the view of Lake Huron. We opted for the lake view ride. . its an easier go. 
Once your done with a fun filled day on the island, complete with shopping and eating fudge, you can either spend the night in one of their on island resorts or head back across on the ferry to the main land where you will find several hotels and campsites. Be sure to join us next Friday when we explore things to do in Mackinaw City and over the bridge to St. Ignas! 
If your planning your trip to the island be sure to check in with the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau and let them help guide you into a fun filled vacation. They are there to help you get the most out of your time spent on the island. Oh, and be sure to tell them Raising Dick and Jane sent you!
Did I miss your favorite attraction on the island? Tell us about it!
<3 Dick and Jane
Links: 

Disclosure: Raising Dick and Jane was provided with free admission to experience many of the above stated attractions. All opinions of these attractions are our own. 

Baked Spaghetti Squash Salad {Recipe}

This summer we decided to plant spaghetti squash in our garden. This is great, because I really enjoy eating it. It is super easy to cook and tastes great a multitude of ways. Today I am going to share with you one of the easiest ways to prepare spaghetti squash and the way we eat it in our home most frequently. 
Baked Spaghetti Squash Salad
Ingredients: 

Spaghetti Squash
Broccoli
Zucchini
Yellow Squash
Salt & Pepper
(You can also substitute other veggies such as brussel sprouts, peppers, ect.)
Directions: 
1.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2.Cut the spaghetti squash in half long ways and using a spoon scrap out the “guts” and seeds. Discard the guts and seeds.

3.Sprinkle a baking sheet with oil and place the squash on a baking sheet, cut side down. 
If you are using brussel sprouts in your dish you can add these to the baking sheet as well surrounding the squash.

4.Bake for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender.

5.Remove spaghetti squash from the oven and allow to cool.

6.While the spaghetti squash is cooling, chop remaining vegetables and add to skillet over med high heat. Saute vegetables until tender and slightly browned.

7.Once spaghetti squash is cooled, using a fork remove the cooked squash from the shell and place in a bowl. Add sauteed vegetables and salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy. 
We tend to use this dish as a side dish for hamburgers, chicken or steak. Spaghetti squash has so many more uses and since we are growing an abundance of them in our gardens we will be sharing more recipes with you on all of the versatile ways to prepare spaghetti squash coming soon. 
Whats your favorite way to prepare your spaghetti squash? Let us know in the comments.

<3 Dick and Jane

I’m “Stuck On You” Summer {Review and Giveaway} Sponsored

Right now in Michigan we are only beginning to feel the heat of summer, yet the stores all around us are already starting to stock the “back to school” supplies. Is it that time already? It is getting close… All I know is that I am going to hold on to the last two months of freedom as tightly as I can. Can you tell that I don’t really love the school year? Aghh. . truly, I loathe it. 
During the school year everything seems so much more complicated. The alarm once again has to be set, lunches have to be packed, supplies need to be bought and individually labeled, homework has to be done, schedules have to be kept and now I’m driving here and there. . and here and there. Whew, I’m tired just thinking about it. 
Are you like me? Do you wish summer could last forever? What if I told you that I’ve found an online company that helps un-complicate some of the “back to school” chaos? I have. . and not only does this company help alleviate a portion of the chaos, it is oh-so darling too!
Everyone, meet Stuck On You. I am totally smitten with this company! I’ll show you why. . 
Check out what I got for the kids for “back to school” supplies.
Everything is tailored to their favorite icon and personalized! I have heard many parents talking online about how they have already received their kids school supplies lists and it states that every individual marker and colored pencil needs to be labeled with their name. Uggh. Talk about headache! With Stuck On You, the work is already done for you! Yep. . each colored pencil, market, ruler, pencil sharpener and scissor is printed with your child name. Yeah!
Like everything to match or coordinate? Me too! I loved finding that I could order a backpack, lunch pail, supplies, labels and more all in one place and have everything coordinate using Stuck On You. Yes, I am slightly OCD. .or CDO. . 🙂 Either way, my kids are ready to be styling this year at school and yours can too! 
You know how it goes. . today is Try it Tuesday and today not just one, but FOUR of you are going to win a $25 voucher to use at Stuck On You! Aren’t you excited? Lets get you entered!
A huge Thank You to Stuck on You for Sponsoring this giveaway and post! They also provided me with free product in order to facilitate my review (how awesome are they!) All thoughts in this post are my own and written by me. Sponsors photos used with permission.

<3 Dick and Jane

Keep the Learning Alive : Reading Kingdom {Review} #ad

Some products featured in this post were provided to us free of charge. 
When school ended my daughter cried. She didn’t want the homework and assignments to end. Even now, while the sun is shining and we are busy playing in it, she will ask me to put together some homework sheets for her once its time to relax. She craves learning! I know that this behavior may not last forever, so while she is excited about learning I want give her the tools she needs. 
My daughter may be the exception to the rule. I know that most kids aren’t begging for homework during their summer break. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t keep learning! What if learning was fun? Sort of like a rainy day activity on the computer to keep them busy? 
I recently had the pleasure of testing out a new online computer game called Reading Kingdom. This award winning software is geared towards helping kids 4-10 learn to read and write at a 3rd grade level. It was perfect for my little Jane and she loved it.

The program is designed to allow kids to use it all on their own. All you need to do is sign them up for an account and the program will walk them through the rest. I sat for awhile and watched Jane use the Reading Kingdom game just to make sure she didn’t need my help. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly she picked up on skills like typing, spelling and reading. It was her first time using the software and she looked like an old pro. The best part of the service was that after she was done I could go in and review her progress report. This way I could see what she needs to work on and what she was excelling in without hovering over her and making her nervous.

A preview of one of the screens during the game. 
From what I saw during my time “hovering” is that this game looks fun. It was full of moving characters, a cute little owl and lots of praise for a job well done. So if your kids are like mine, or even if their not, give Reading Kingdom a try this summer. It may help those boring rainy days go by a little bit smoother.. . .

Try Reading Kingdom for free for 30 days

What are your kids favorite “rainy day activities”? Leave a comment and join the in the discussion. 

<3 Dick and Jane

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Baby Crib Garden Trellis {Re Purposed Link Party}

I am sure by now you all know how much I love to re purpose items. There isn’t anything I will toss out before trying to find a new use for it. Do you remember my crib/desk makeover? When we completed that project I had one railing left over and I have been storing it in my garage ever since. Thankfully I didn’t throw it out, because today I really came in handy!
During a kids program with our local county parks my kids were given the opportunity to start some vine peas from seeds. We started them in little paper cups and they quickly began to root. Luckily, we still had some space in our Children’s Garden for the two more plants. Soon after transplanting the little pea plants they started looking for somewhere to vine. Viola, a purpose for my remaining crib rail!
I didn’t need to do anything to the re purposed trellis, just place it in the ground and secure it into place. The little pea plants have already grasped on and we are looking forward to watching them grow. 
Crib Rail Trellis
Do you have any clever re purpose projects? Link them up below!

Be sure to link back to the party for a chance to be featured in next weeks party. 
By linking up you agree to allow Raising Dick and Jane to use your photos with a link to your post on our blog. 

Also: 
– Comment on the hosting blog post
– Follow the Hosts
Thrifty Treasures
Raising Dick and Jane
<3 Dick and Jane

Gourmet Chocolate Chip Cookie Milkshakes {Recipe} #spon

This post has been sponsored by International Delight and IZEA media. 
Sponsored by International Delight
Its milkshake time! Every now and then, probably more often than we should, the kids and I make milkshakes before we go to bed. It is somewhat of a ritual or bonding experience for us. We are always looking for new milkshake flavors to invent and find ourselves throwing all kinds of strange ingredients into our blender to hopefully find something that will knock our socks off. Today, when my daughter brought home fresh baked chocolate chip cookies that she helped to bake during her day spent with grandma, I had an idea.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Milkshakes
Ingredients: 
Vanilla Ice Cream
Milk
{Secret Ingredient} International Delight – Cookie Sundae 
Chocolate Chip Cookies to garnish
Directions: 
Fill your blender 3/4 of the way full with vanilla ice cream
Pour milk in the blender until half way full
Add 1-2 Tablespoons of International Delight and blend. 
Serve. . yumm!
With International Delight the milkshake options are endless! Whatever your favorite flavor is, add it. Milkshakes will never be the same. 
What’s Your ID? International Delight is looking for their most passionate flavor fans. Put your ID on the map to enter to win a Magical Trip, play games and discover more unexpected delight. Share your ID flavor at http://whatsyourid.com
Enjoy!
<3 Dick and Jane 
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

To the Top of the Swing Set : A Mamas Guide to Letting Go #ad

Some of the products featured in this post were provided to me free of charge. 

Wait! What? You want to climb up that ladder? But your too little. . . . as soon as the words fell from my lips I knew I shouldn’t have said it. All to often I find myself holding my kids back because of my own fears. Yes. . they may fall, but what if they don’t. How could I keep that feeling of self gratification and pride from them? Learning to climb that ridiculously tall ladder is a great learning opportunity, one that they need to experience.  So how do I learn to let go?

I recently read a wonderful book that I wanted to share with you titled A Christian Mama’s Guide : To the Grade School Years. The book felt like it was written just for me! I laughed as I looked into the writers’ mirror of words and felt calmed by her words of advice on how to handle letting go. The book is written by two mothers, one of which is a school director and the other is a helicopter mom (like me!). With school starting up again in a few months (especially those sending their kids off to school for the first time) I recommend starting on this book now. The book talks about many common fears parents may have when they get ready to send their children off to school and ways to prepare yourself and your kids for the big transition. I know many of you may home-school your kids too. . it doesn’t matter. This book will have something for you as well!

book, review

I only have one book, but I’m willing to share. Anyone want to read it? 
Enter your email address below and I will randomly choose one reader to send my book to. Its yours to keep, share or do with as you please. Simply enter your email address and click “enter”. 
<3 Dick and Jane

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this book from BookSneeze.com in order to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own. Post includes affiliate links. 

Lavender Wand Tutorial

I was very thankful this year to have my lavender come in and produce flowers. Lavender has always been a difficult herb for me to grow, not sure why. So now that I have got my chance to make these lavender wands, I am taking it!

What is a lavender wand? I believe the craft dates back quite a ways. Lavender wands are made to be used like a natural sachet or air freshener. The flowers will dry out and stay put inside the wand due to the weaving technique used with the ribbon. You can then hang them around your home and just give them a little shake when you need a lift of fragrance. 
They are quite easy to make you will just need:
Lavender Flowers with long stems
Ribbon
How to make a lavender wand: 
1. Cut the lavender 
2. Clean the stems removing any extra flowers or leaves along the way
3. Bunch the flowers together matching all the stems to the same length
4. Tie a knot around the stems directly below the flowers heads
5. Bend the stems downward to encase the flowers within them
6. Begin weaving the ribbon through the stems, keeping the flower heads in the center
7. Go over then under each stem working your way all the way around
8. Once you reach the end, wrap the ribbon a few times around and tie to secure. 
Now hang the wand in your home and enjoy!
<3 Dick and Jane