Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Harry Potter Book Club Ideas

This post is part of an ongoing Summer Reading for Kids series. Click HERE to find ideas for reading activities, reading lists, and reading incentives...and keep checking back for more!

Some easy and fun ideas for hosting a Harry Potter book club discussion. #overstuffedlife
It's the end of July, and that means it's time to celebrate our favorite Boy Who Lived. It's Harry Potter's birthday! I'm joining in again this year with Raegun Ramblings and her amazing Happy Harry Potter blog series. The incredible ideas other bloggers are coming up with are blowing my mind, and I'm humbled to add my own ideas into the mix today.

One of our favorite things to do at our house during the summer is read. And the best thing about reading is sharing books with others. A few years ago, we began hosting kids' book clubs. My girls choose their favorite book of the moment and invite their friends to read it and then they have a fun party all about that book. Not only are kids' book clubs a great way to get your kids reading, they are a great excuse to throw an awesome party!

So far, we haven't done a Harry Potter book club. But I came up with some fun ideas for the future Harry Potter book club that we definitely will have someday soon.

Homemade Butter Beer

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Super Simple Cheetah Birthday Party Ideas

Cheetah birthday party ideas: Great ideas for cheetah themed invitations, party decorations, cake, party favors, and fun cheetah games to play. #overstuffedlife
Today my cheetah-obsessed Sophia turned 9 years old. It pretty much goes without saying that we threw her a cheetah themed birthday party! I am not a big fan of throwing super intricate birthday parties. I was an awesome birthday party mom for one year a few years ago, and ever since then, I have been pretty low-key. The great thing about the cheetah party I threw today is that it looks like I spent a ton of time on it, but I didn't (insert evil laugh here)! With the help of online shopping, my older girls, and a few easy ideas, Sophia had an amazing cheetah themed birthday party with minimal effort on my part. Just the kind of birthday party I like.

(At the very end of the post you will find links to all of the supplies I used and downloads to the things I created myself. Enjoy!)

Cheetah Birthday Party Invitation

I whipped up this cute cheetah print birthday invite in Photoshop and printed it out on white card stock.

Friday, July 17, 2015

5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog

Five important life lessons that my dog understands better than I do. #overstuffedlife

In March of 2012, we finally got a dog.  Even though I grew up with dogs, having a dog as an adult has been an entirely different experience. First of all, I got to name her.

I'm an opera singer, and Puccini is my favorite opera composer. My bathroom is decorated in vintage Puccini opera posters, I could listen to Puccini all day, and my favorite arias to sing are written by Puccini. I always thought it would be so fun to name a dog Puccini. Not only would it be an homage to my favorite composer, it would be a cute play on words: Pooch-ini.

When we got our little schnoodle puppy, it was obvious that her name needed to be Pooch. I mean, just look at that adorable puppy photo! She is the epitome of the word pooch. Puccini was the perfect name for her. This was solidified for me a week or so later when I took her on her very first walk down by the waterfront. Two people passing by us both said "Hi Pooch!" to her, and I knew we had chosen the right name for her.

I loved this video put out by IAMS™ dog food. Have you seen it? It shows a dog named Duck, how he got his name, and the special relationship he has with his boy. It brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.

I probably cry because I love my own dog so much, and I treasure the relationship she has with my family. Puccini has truly become a member of our household and has taught me more than a few things about life. If I could live a little more like a dog, I think I'd be doing pretty darn well. She understands the important things in life a lot better than I do, that's for sure!

5 Life Lessons I Learned From my Dog

1. If you need a hug, ask for it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bedroom Redo: How to Create a Peaceful Haven

Bedroom Redo: How to create a peaceful haven. 6 important things to remember when turning your bedroom into your own private sanctuary. #overstuffedlife
About a month ago, I finally redid our bedroom. I honestly had no idea how much of a non-peaceful haven it was until I finished up with the bedroom makeover. The end result is just so much better that I wonder what made me wait so long to finish it!

Before I show you the metamorphosis, I must confess that I am terrible about remembering to take before photos when I do these projects. I am not really a DIY or even a home decor blogger, so I just dive right into a project and only remember to grab photos halfway through. Someday I'll learn!

I dug through some recent photos and came up with this one from a few months ago when I was recovering from shoulder surgery and The Maestro had pneumonia. What a fun time that was! But, you can at least get an idea of the old wall color, bedding, sheer curtains, and a small glimpse of the wall decor.

When we moved into this house the (tiny) master bedroom was really the least offensive room in the house as far as paint color and carpeting. I mean, compared to Bria and Chloe's bedroom and Sophia's bedroom, it was downright gorgeous.

And that is why it took me almost six years to do anything about it.

The Maestro went to conduct an orchestra in China in May. He was gone for nearly two weeks, I was finished working for the semester, and the girls were still in school. It was a perfect time to redo the bedroom to surprise my husband, so I got to work!

How I Turned My Bedroom Into a Peaceful Haven

1. I found bedding that I loved

Saturday, July 11, 2015

How I Know I Married A Musician: Part 12

Right now I'm working on another blog post—I'm finally getting around to posting photos of my bedroom redo. While I was taking photos of the bedroom, I noticed The Maestro's stack of books and it made me giggle.

While it isn't something funny he said, it's still pure evidence of the hard core musician, orchestra conductor, and Wagner aficionado that is my husband.

I present to you the books that are on The Maestro's side of the bed:

Friday, July 10, 2015

Coconut Chicken Curry

If you like curry, you will LOVE this coconut chicken curry recipe made with coconut yogurt. It is so good! #overstuffedlife

I'm not a huge fan of cooking, you all know that. That's why I am so lucky to have The Maestro. Not only does he absolutely love to cook amazing dinners, he also loves to experiment and come up with new and exciting recipes! This coconut chicken curry recipe was a huge hit at our house, and he just made it all up! Love that man.

While shopping at Walmart, The Maestro came across this coconut flavored Yoplait® greek yogurt and thought it would work really well with a chicken curry. He bought three containers of it, plus a few other ingredients, and came home to find out how well his idea would work.

(Hint: It worked amazingly well—but I already told you that.)

Want to make it yourself? This recipe will feed about ten people, or you can do what we do and spread it over two nights. For some reason, curry is always better the second day. Also, The Maestro does like his curry to be a little on the hot side, and the kids all love it hot, too. If you're not a fan of heat, you can halve the curry in the recipe. Finally, as with all recipes I share, it's 100% gluten-free.

The Maestro's Coconut Chicken Curry


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Important Lesson Hiding in Inside Out

There is an important lesson hiding in Inside Out--a lesson that will help you be a better parent. #overstuffedlife

The Maestro and I took the girls to see Inside Out as soon as it was out in the theatres. Sophia actually saw it twice in one day because she was invited to go with a friend, and we went a couple hours afterward on a whim.

Because Sophia had already seen it, she sometimes couldn't help warning me about things coming up or telling me she knew she was going to cry at certain parts. Luckily, she was sitting at the end of the row, right next to me, and I didn't mind. Her sisters may have let their anger and disgust emotions come out a little bit if they had heard her whispers. They are definitely not fans of movie spoilers!

(And if you are not a fan of movie spoilers, either, you may not want to read further until you've seen the movie. I'll try not to spoil anything big, though.)

Monday, July 06, 2015

Perfectly Moist Yogurt Banana Bread

Looking for wholesome snack solutions for summer? Try this yogurt banana bread recipe--it is perfectly moist and so good! #overstuffedlife
Today I'm sharing one of my favorite banana bread recipes of all time. I especially love to have it on hand for easy summer snacks, but banana bread is great any time of year!

I love summer, don't get me wrong, but there are a few things about summer that frustrate me, and one of them is the snacking situation. I don't know how it works at your house, but when my girls are out of school and home for the summer they want to eat everything in sight. I don't think they're really hungrier--instead I think they just don't have every minute of their lives scheduled the way they do when they're in school and the kitchen is easily accessible. My grocery bill doubles (okay, maybe it doesn't exactly double, but it sure feels like it!), the kitchen is always a mess, and the fridge gets opened every 8.3 seconds on the dot.

I did come up with a nice solution last year, and that has definitely helped, but another thing that has helped is making sure I have good, wholesome snacks on hand that will fill them up. Besides fruit and veggies, I try to make a few healthy and homemade things each week so we don't have to turn to pre-made or packaged foods very often.

This perfectly moist yogurt banana bread is one of our favorite recipes, and the secret ingredient is yogurt. Yogurt is another summer staple, so we usually have quite a bit of Yoplait® yogurt on hand. It's always on the list for our weekly shopping trip to WalMart. This particular recipe uses Yoplait® Original Vanilla Yogurt. I bought a 2lb carton of it, but you would have enough yogurt for one batch of bread if you purchased the single serving size, too.

Perfectly Moist Yogurt Banana Bread