Muffin Tin Meal: Fruit, Cheese and Bread Snack

Just a little fruit, cheese and bread plate for the kids. Join me every Monday for Muffin Tin Monday. When I started to put this together one afternoon last week for the kids I realized I was piling their plate with ho-hum foods. Cut it up and pop it in a muffin tin and instantly it looks more appetizing! It's an easy simple idea that will have your toddler or preschooler begging you for a muffin tin meal.

Christmas With The First Ladies

Growing up, my mother took great care in decorating our home for Christmas. She would spend days creating a veritable winter wonderland in our home. Every surface was adorned with holiday trimmings. From blankets of billowy white tulle and garland wrapped in white lights to vignettes with wise men and our vintage lighted carolers, my mom made sure Christmas was a magical time for us children. I only hope as my children grow I can create these same kind of unforgettable Christmas memories. I was always amazed at how she made decorations come alive and almost dance through out the house. When I was a girl, I used to just sit in our living room with all the lights off but the soft glow of the tree. 

(My mom's Holiday table this year)

That magic of the Christmas holiday that my mom created for us is the same holiday spirit that the first ladies of the United States create in their own home during their husband's presidential term.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I poured over Colleen Christian Burke's newest book "Christmas With The First Ladies". I snuggled up by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand and read about how the wives of America's president's from Kennedy to Obama created themes around the White House holiday decorations that both reflected their personal style and honored our Country's current political, cultural, and economical climate. 

(My sister-in-law sitting near me pouring over the book too!)

Each first lady took great care when imagining the year's theme for the Christmas decorations.
For example, First Lady Betty Ford's theme centered around the hard economic climate of the mid1970's. Her theme in 1974 was "A Patchwork Christmas", showcasing hundreds of handmade ornaments. While still ultimately costly (although today $1600 doesn't seem like that much for the White House), the money came directly from Mrs' Ford's own residence housekeeping budget.

In 2001(months after the 9/11 attacks), First Lady Laura Bush's theme "Home For the Holidays" with white, gold and silver was no seen by many visitors. Mrs. Bush recalls that the White House during that time "had the quality of stillness after a snow. Almost no one was allowed in to see the decorations." The final year Mrs' Bush would spearhead the White House Christmas decorations, she chose (at the request of many letters from the American people) a "Red, White and Blue" Christmas. She reused decorations from previous years, not unlike many Americans that year. That year, 27 Christmas trees were decorated. Can you imagine?

(White House Christmas 2004)

Author Burke had the unique honor of being granted access to the White House historical files with regards to  the holiday and was able to weave together a compelling portrait of each First Lady's experience in the White House during Christmastime. She was also a decorator for the White House in 2008. In the book she recalls "As I worked with bows, bunting, and ornaments, I was ever aware of the historical importance of the rooms in which I stood."

The book is filled with delightfully nostalgic photos and recreations of signature recipes and crafts from each of the first ladies such as Hilary Clinton's Chocolate Chip Cookies or Nancy's Reagan's Monkey Bread (below, with an updated twist in a muffin tin).

(Nancy Reagan's Monkeybread Recipe)

Interested in finding more books like Christmas With The First Ladies? You can interact with Publisher Insight Editions on Twitter and Facebook.

A bit about the publisher: "INSIGHT EDITIONS is an illustrated book publisher focused on creating superlative books on photography, music, and popular culture. Lavishly produced and visually stimulating, every volume from Insight is dedicated to the skillful interplay of word and image. The books produced are unique works that combine the highest quality print production values with the time-honored traditions of publishing and rich subject matter. Elegant and informative, books from Insight showcase the best of art and photography in exquisite presentations of the bookmaker's craft."

*This is a sponsored post. And is advertorial in nature like when an athlete endorses deodorant only much classier. My opinions are my own and I loved reading this book. You can read my full disclosure policy here.  All photos in this post are copyrighted. 

I have been especially anticipating Christmas this year. I am readily excited to create and share in those unique-to-us holiday memories. Do you have a favorite recipe or decoration that makes the season exrtra magical?

Muffin Tin Monday

Welcome to Muffin Tin Monday! It's time for the weekly muffin tin meal photo link up. To read more about Muffin Tin Monday and Muffin Tin Meals, be sure to read the FAQ page. Muffin Tin Meals are a creative way to serve food to toddlers, preschoolers and kids. Have a "picky eater"? Why not give Muffin Tin Meals a try? 

We had a fantastic week spent with my family. We had so much fun, I'm pretty sure I need a vacation from my vacation! Here's are Muffin Tin Meal for this week:

In this tin: Leaf shaped bread, a dollop of pumkin butter (mmmm....), 
apples, bananas, green peppers, carrot sticks.

Here's the spread my mom offered over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Lots of healthy choices.

Now it's your turn!

No Need For The Sunday Paper

Here are a few wonderful links I have come across this week. Hope you enjoy!

Katie's Nesting Spot: Celebrate gratitude all year long with this DIY dry erase board dedicated to thankfulness

Sugar Jones: Quiche Your Leftovers Goodbye.  Still have leftovers? Love this recipe even if you don't.

Simple Mom: The easiest Christmas Advent Calendar ever. Seriously.

Muffin Tin Monday: Pilgrim Voyage Theme

Welcome to Muffin Tin Monday. Thankgiving is almost here! It's one of my favorite American holidays. I thought we would celebrate this week with a Pilgrim Boat Craft added into this week's  Muffin Tin Meal. I made little Mayflower boat food holders and they rested perfectly on top of the muffin tin. I might post a boat craft tutorial later today, So, be on the look out.:)

 In This tin: Ham on wheat sandwiches (back row), green bell peppers, carrot sticks, a smidge of ranch dressing in a bamboo cup, banana slices

They loved it! The played pilgrim battle (an obvious loose interpretation of historical events) with the boats and each other across the table.

Alright, It's your turn to share what you made for Muffin Tin Monday! Don't forget to add a link back to so others can see what everyone made for Muffin Tin Monday

GMC Trade Secrets

Being a blogger has it's blessings. I have been able to partner with some pretty wonderful people, brands, and organizations. GMC is one of those great partnerships. Back in August I participated in a wonderful farm-to-table project where we donated supplies to local school to start their own gardens. Last night I had the privilege of chatting with Carter Oosterhouse and Eric Stromer of HGTV fame.

Carter, Eric, and Sam Tablot have partnered with GMC to bring you GMC Trade Secrets; a website dedicated to showcasing simple DIY and how to videos on cooking, home decor, and home improvement. I have really enjoyed browsing through the videos. Being an advocate for the farmer's market, I loved this video from Sam on tips for shopping at outdoor farmer's markets.

And Carter shared with me that half the videos were filmed at his Traverse City, Michigan home a week before his wedding! Carter also shared with me about his non-profit organization Carter's Kids. They build playgrounds across the country for communities in need.

Here's a great video from Carter on making your own mason jar citronella candles. I never knew how easy it is!

GMC generously allowed me to test drive the 2011 GMC Yukon Denali Hybrid while travelling to Los Angeles. .  It was so nice to get chance to test drive the car in an everyday setting. Before travelling to L.A. I took the car on a few errands. While learning to maneuver the largeness of the Yukon was a challenge, the ride was incredible. I could barely tell it was on! The in-dash navigation system and hands free calling Bluetooth technology in the steering wheel made my hour plus drive to Los Angeles a breeze!

If you've long thought of GMC as a truck company, I challenge you to take a test drive and see for yourself how GMC is making their trucks, SUV's and crossovers for all lifestyles, not just truck lovers.

*Disclosure: I was given a car to test-drive for 24 hours, dinner and a hotel stay for 1 night. I was not expected to write a blog post and was not paid to share about GMC. My opinions are my own. I genuinely enjoy GMC cars.

The Gift of Giving

The Holiday Season is a magical time filled with wonder, anticipation, and giving. My favorite part about the Christmas holiday is the giving. I love to give. I am not sure whether it's seeing the look on the receiver's face or the treasure of knowing they love what I picked out for them, but I relish in giving gifts on Christmas
I love receiving gifts too because I know someone took the time to get me something special. Like the year I got a little brown teddy bear that I loved so much the fur got all matted and his arm came off. Or the year I got this doll.

So this year, when browsing Red Envelope's unique holiday gifts, I happened upon the sweetest of dolls that you can personalize and I knew just who to get it for: That special little someone who would adore receiving it just as much as I would love giving it.

I am also giving the priceless gift of family togetherness this Holiday season. We have been using this family conversation starter pack for years and it has brought us such wonderful talks at the family dinner table! This would also make a great Thanksgiving host gift or fun table activity for extended families who don't get to spend much time together.

Family Conversation Starters
Red Envelope has gifts for everyone on your list this year. Gifts that are unique, personalized and are sure to be treasured. I amost bought the Night Before Christmas Kit It was so hard to choose! This kit comes with a mug for hot cocoa, a plate for cookies, the story of Twas' the Night before Christmas and even a little note card to leave for Santa.
Night Before Christmas Kit

One of the wonderful things about Red Envelope is that I can choose the exact day I want it to arrive! So if I wanted my gift to arrive on the 4th day of Hanukkah for my niece, I could make that happen. Or if I wanted to show my gratitude at Thanksgiving for my extended family, I can get expedited shipping.

Whether filled with lots of family or those precious few who make a difference in your life, I hope your Holiday season is filled with lots of gift giving, homemade or purchased. 

*Disclosure: I was given a gift card to Red Envelope this holiday season so that I could tell you from experience how awesome they are. My opinions are my own. 

Muffin Tin Monday

 Happy Muffin Tin Monday! I was going to get all crazy with the food cutters and bust out a fall-ish Muffin Tin Meal and then the weather turned ah-mazing! November in Southern California never gets boring. One minute it's pouring rain (yes, it does rain here) and the next, you are staring at the gorgeous sunshine. You just can't stay inside. You just can't! 

So the kids enjoyed a simple muffin tin snack. 

Orange slices, carrots, pretzels and chocolate chips.

Yesterday morning, I posted an interesting article on the MTM facebook page about the safety concerns surrounding silicone bakeware. If you have a moment, it is definitely worth the read.

Decoding Food Labels

I'm over at today with a recap of Tuesday's twitter party. We talked about deciphering those crazy food labels and become educated about what we feed our families.

I encourage you to join in the conversation and become a voice for change. The weekly chat on Twitter is every Tuesday. For updates follow @FoodRevTeam on Twitter.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution #FoodRevParty Tuesdays on Twitter

I am excited to share with you that I will be hosting a "twitter party" at 7PM PST/10PM EST tonight in just a few short hours on for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. The team at Food Revolution gathers on twitter to talk about the Food Rev Campaign and creating a healthier future for our children. You can stand up with Jamie and join the thousands of people across the world who want to see better food in schools and to teach children how to make healthy choices about food on their own.

If you have a twitter account, you can follow along and join in the chat starting at 7PM PST by searching the hashtag #FoodRevParty.

This is also Flavored Milk Action Week.

Muffin Tin Monday -Fall Back, Ack!

Welcome to Muffin Tin Monday! The world famous blog link up that features reader submitted muffin tin meals made by moms for kids. Have a "picky" toddler, preschooler, or older kid? Try serving their next meal in a muffin tin. You might be surprised at this simple mealtime food presentation is enough to get them curious about their food and willing to give it a try.

In this tin: peach yogurt with sprinkles (a family favorite), cheese circles, cherry tomatoes (not touched -but I tried), animal crackers, leaf shaped apples 
I completely forgot about the time change here in the US, I had to photograph this week's MTM in the dark. The time change has me all in a funk. This was actually what we had for a snack at 5pm! We had to have "2nd dinner" about an hour later. oh well!

Muffin Tin Lunch

Muffin Tin Meals are a creative yet simple way to serve lunch food to kids. Change up the lunchtime blahs. Revamp that sandwich. Surprise your preschooler and entice your toddler. Think outside the box. Looking for ideas? Check out the MTM theme and idea page

In this muffin tin meal: Watermelon, steak bites, organic cucumber, organic vanilla yogurt with a dash of sprinkles, organic baby carrot sticks, triangle of laughing cow cheese (center).

*Join in the fun, every Monday at

Toasted Garlic Lime Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

We are enjoying the post-Halloween calm. How about you? I discovered when my son was in preschool that he loves toasted pumpkin seeds! This is a wonderful Halloween or Fall after school snack. If you love roasted toasted pumpkin seeds then you will enjoy this tangy twist on a classic holiday treat.

Toasted garlic and lime pumpkin seeds are easy to make with this simple recipe:

You'll Need: 
1-1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds (rinsed and dried)
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp garlic salt or garlic powder
pepper to taste

Rinsing and Drying Pumpkin Seeds:
  • Scoop out your pumpkin seeds from inside the pumpkin, separating them fom the gooey insides. Place seeds in a colander. 
  • Rinse the seeds until all the pumpkin "goo" is off. 
  • Spread them over a flat baking sheet to dry over night.

Short on drying time? I hear a blow dryer works well.

  • Once dry, put pumpkin seeds in a mixing bowl. 
  • Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small bowl or glass pyrex 2 cup measuring cup
  • Mix melted butter, lime juice, garlic salt and pepper. 
  • Pour over pumpkin seeds, toss to coat all the seeds
  • Spread the garlic-lime coated seeds on a foil lined baking sheet.

  •  Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes plus, or until golden brown. *Oven heats vary, so watch your seeds closely. (I prob could have left mine in longer, I just couldn't wait to try them!)

  • Once out of the oven, add a dash of garlic salt for a little extra garlic-y flavor.
  • Serve and enjoy!
For kids who don't like the tangy flavor of garlic-lime, try these toasted cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds.

Replace above ingredients with:
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar

Sprinkle with sugar once out of the oven.

See recipe inspiration here:

Do you like roasted pumpkin seeds? Have a favorite recipe to share? Leave a comment!