minion mix

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

Well, those lovable little yellow creatures are back again!  Yes, the minions are back with another movie…Despicable Me 3 is coming to theaters this Friday!  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.  I think I like those awkwardly cute and lovable creatures more than my youngest daughter (and she thinks they are pretty cute and funny)!

To celebrate, we made some minion mix…a sweet and salty treat that somewhat resembles those cute creatures.

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

What do you think?  Love those eyeballs, huh?

To make this, you will need…

  • pretzel sticks
  • yellow candy melts (2 packages)
  • candy eyes
  • blue and yellow M&Ms
  • blue and yellow sprinkles

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

First, spread out the pretzel sticks into a single layer on parchment paper.

minion mix | polka pots and picket fences

Then, melt the yellow candy melts.  I do this in the microwave by heating the melts in a bowl for 60 seconds…take out and stir…then heat again for 30 seconds….take out and stir…continue this at 30 second intervals until completely melted.

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

Once melted, pour it over the layer of pretzels.  Decorate with the candy eyes, sprinkles, and M&Ms.  Do this quickly before the melts begin to set.

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

Allow it to solidify (you can place it in the fridge to speed it along, if you wish), and then break it apart into smaller pieces for snacking.

minion mix | polka dots and picket fences

So simple…even a minion could make it!

 

 

college shopping dos and don’ts

college shopping | polka dots and picket fences

college shopping | polka dots and picket fences

A lot of my time last summer was spent getting our oldest daughter ready to go to college.  Audrey had an entire list, organized by categories (she’s a very organized person for someone her age), of items she felt we needed to purchase for her dorm.  Well…never having been through this before (except as an actual college student myself), I wasn’t exactly sure about some of the items.

college shopping | polka dots and picket fences

It’s been a year now since we embarked on our numerous shopping trips, and I thought I’d share some of what I learned along the way…the DOS and DON’TS of college shopping!

college shopping | polka dots and picket fences

  1.  DO purchase the top of the line memory foam mattress topper.  It truly is worth the money!  I mean…have you ever slept on those thin, hard dorm mattresses?
  2. Speaking of bedding, DON’T wait to order your comforter.  Audrey didn’t find out her roommate assignment until mid-July, and by then most of her choices were on backorder.
  3. DO purchase sheets that fit those XL twin mattresses.
  4. DO take advantage of the PACK AND HOLD service offered at Bed Bath & Beyond.  This was a real lifesaver for us, considering how far away she went for college.  It works like this…you visit your local BB&B and choose the items you want.  Those items are set aside at the store of your choice to pick up at a later date.  Our car was already packed so tight with other belongings that it was so nice to not transport everything from Ohio to South Carolina.
  5. DON’T forget to wash the new towels, sheets, washcloths, and blankets before you arrive on campus!
  6. DON’T feel like a safe is necessary.  We were instructed to purchase one, but I discovered that Audrey rarely used it.  However, she didn’t take expensive jewelry or her good camera to college.  She usually had her credit cards and laptop with her.  She attends a small college, and the dorm rooms automatically close and lock when one leaves.  My advice is to use your judgement…you may feel differently, given your own situation.
  7. DO find out what the college provides in each dorm room.  There was a mini fridge and microwave in her room.  However, she had to bring a desk chair and a ladder for the bunkbed.  I know…bringing your own desk chair seemed strange to us, also!
  8. DO coordinate with your roommate items that can be shared.  Audrey brought the Keurig and the rug, and her roommate supplied the curtains.
  9. DON’T forget to stock up on Command hooks!  They will be your best friend, as you find that they serve a lot of purposes and don’t damage those sacred dorm walls.
  10. DO purchase a shower caddy.  A great way to keep all your toiletry items together, as you will most likely be sharing a bathroom.
  11. DO find out the amount of storage space in the dorm room.  This will help you know what to purchase…rolling under bed drawers, containers for shelves, or a storage ottoman are just a few options.
  12. DON’T think you won’t need a fan, even if the dorm is air conditioned.  A small one near your bed is always nice to have on hand.
  13. DO purchase extra lighting.  A desk lamp is essential for those late night study sessions.  A clip-on lamp is great to have for attaching to your bed, in case your late night studying takes place in bed!
  14. A bedrest pillow is so comfortable for late night reading and studying.
  15. Finally, and most importantly, DON’T worry if things don’t go as planned!  We had Audrey’s first dorm room set up and organized before she began orientation.  Yes, I said FIRST because she changed roommates two weeks into the semester…she moved into a different room with a new roommate, so her rug was put in storage and they used her new roommate’s rug.  And that bedding that was on backorder?  It finally arrived in October!  You know what they say about the best laid plans…anyway, it’s better to bring along your flexibility, also.

college shopping | polka dots and picket fences

Getting our oldest ready for college seemed like such a monumental task last summer…I’m so glad we are able to relax a bit this year.  I hope that my DO’s and DON’TS are helpful to anyone going through this process.  My final bit of advice…enjoy that time with your soon-to-be college freshman and happy shopping!

 

strawberry chocolate chip cookies

cookies | polka dots and picket fences

Last week we made our annual trip to the berry farm to pick strawberries.  It was the perfect day to pick berries…dry and sunny, with a slight breeze blowing.  We left the strawberry patch with over 20 pounds of freshly picked berries!

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

I’m sure you can guess what happened once we arrived home with all those berries!

Yes, we did some baking and a little more baking!  There’s nothing like fresh strawberries to bake with…so sweet and juicy.

Today, I’m sharing a yummy recipe for Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies.

cookies | polka dots and picket fences

cookies | polka dots and picket fences

cookies | polka dots and picket fences

If you like a soft cookie, you will love these!  And they combine those sweet strawberries with the flavor of two types of chocolate.  Yes, I said TWO kinds of chocolate…milk chocolate and white chocolate.

cookies | polka dots and picket fences

cookies | polka dots and picket fences

And look how pretty they are…so colorful with all those flavors!

Have I tempted you yet?  The printable recipe is below…so grab it, and get berry picking and baking!

Print

strawberry chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strawberries (cut into small pieces)
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 370 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium size bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla using an electric mixer until combined.

  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each egg.

  5. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Be careful not to overmix.

  6. Using a spatula, stir in the strawberries and chocolate chips until combined.

  7. Using an ice cream scooper, scoop dough into balls about 2 tablespoons each and place onto prepared baking sheet.

  8. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.

  9. Immediately after taking cookies out of the oven, place some additional chocolate chips on top of he cookies. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a wire rack.

tea talk

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

We are now well into the month of June…and if you’re like me, it took those first few weeks to get settled into our summer routine.  You know the one…dashing to morning swim practice, followed by tennis lessons, art camp, and golf clinics.  And THAT was just the first week of summer!

Now that I have that schedule worked out, it’s time to think a bit about relaxing and enjoying a new book for summer…

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

So I asked my friends…

“What is a good book for summer reading?”

  • Name:  Christy
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Toledo,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mom, wife, and corporate executive
  • Number of Children:  two

My book choices are And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer (historical fiction) and How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims.


  • Name:  Wendy
  • Age:  47
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  financial advisor
  • Number of Children:  two

I highly recommend a novel called Early Decision:  Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford.  This is a terrific book for parents of junior high and high school students as it follows several high school students through the college admissions process as they work on their essays and applications with a private counselor.  This fictional novel is based on the author’s 15 years of experience as a college counselor and is much more entertaining than it sounds!


  • Name:  Meredith
  • Age:  40
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  former licensed nursing home administrator…now a household engineer
  • Number of Children:  four

For a self-help, inspiring book, I would say Carry On Warrior…The Power of Embracing your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton.  Also love her Love Warrior book.

For a funny, easy read, I would say What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.


  • Name:  Tammy
  • Age:  49
  • City:  Pauline, South Carolina
  • Occupation:  homemaker
  • Number of Children:  2 daughters, 1 heavenly daughter

My favorites are On Folly Beach by Karen White and Saving Cicadas by Nicole A. Seitz.


  • Name:  Julie
  • Age:  48
  • City: Sylvania,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children:  three

I always recommend this as a great book, even though I read it six years ago…Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.


  • Name:  Jill
  • Age: 47
  • City:  Cincinnati,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  teacher
  • Number of Children:  two

I recommend anything by Elin Hildebrandt!


  • Name:  Lauri
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mother, coach, and retired attorney
  • Number of Children:  two
My summer reading books are a little more boring than your typical summer breezy books, so I can’t wait to see other peoples ideas. Here are the books I have started while getting into summer…
Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck – an amazing book that my sister handed to me and said “read it.’  I’m 61 pages in and she’s right.
Raising a Healthy Happy Eater – a Stage by Stage Guide to Setting Your Child in the Path to Adventurous Eating by Fernando and Potock
Running on Ritalin by Lawrence Diller, The Purpose of Boys by Michael Gurian and Real Boys by William Pollack
Bleak House by Charles Dickens – my husband’s favorite book
The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace is about the world’s most expensive bottle of wine, which is probably the closest to a breezy summer read that I’ll get.

Wow!  So many great ideas for summer reading…I’m not sure I’ll have time to read all the ones that interest me.  We’ll just have to extend summer a few more months!

friday’s favorites

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite things this week…

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{a fun treat on National Donut Day}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{a gorgeous centerpiece}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{berry picking, and then berry baking…lots of berry baking}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{guess where I found this patriotic magnet board…my favorite place, the Target Dollar Spot}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{crisp, new pillows for the gazebo}

Happy weekend!

master bedroom/ bath refresh

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

Well, I got that “itch” again this spring.  No, not poison ivy!  You know the one…that “itch” to refresh a few rooms in our house!  I think it comes from living in the midwest and being cooped up all winter…I just feel the need to make some updates and changes in our home.

The room that received the most attention (and needed it) was our master bedroom and bathroom.  Of course, I forgot to take any BEFORE pictures.  So I’ll just share the AFTER pictures and what we did to the rooms…

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

We’ve had this bedroom furniture for over seventeen years.  While I like the style of the pieces, they needed an update.  So I talked my husband into painting them black.  Not only did he agree to it, he actually did the painting!  I think he’s gotten used to my “spring itches!”  That black paint and the newly painted handles made all the difference.

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

So while he was painting, I was sewing new window treatments for both rooms.  I used a grey geometrical patterned fabric for the bedroom windows, and I decided on a grey and yellow pattern for the bathroom.

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

The bedding needed a refresh, as well.  I decided on a simple white comforter, layered with yellow and grey pillows and throws.  Lots of different textures appeal to the eye!

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite spot in the room has to be the new grey tufted loveseat…a great place to curl up and read a book!  I updated the brass sconces on the wall behind the loveseat by painting them a matt nickel finish.  The new pictures on the wall are fun memories of recent family vacations.

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

Now for the bathroom…

You know how when you move into a new house, you put together a list of things you want to improve or change?  Well, this was on our short list of things to do over eight years ago.  Yes, I said eight years ago AND we finally did it.

Here’s the issue…our bathroom is very open to the master bedroom.  It bothered us at first, but then we just grew used to it…at times.  At other times, I really wanted a bit of privacy.  We finally came up with a solution of how to separate these two rooms, and I just love it!

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

We had sliding farmhouse style doors installed between the two rooms.  They function perfectly, and I love the crisp look of them!  Now I can close the “door” while I take a shower.

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

bedroom refresh | polka dots and picket fences

We didn’t do a total redo…but with these changes and updates, I feel like I’m living in a brand new room!


Room Sources…

  • window treatment fabric…JoAnn Fabric and Crafts
  • curtain rods…Home Decorators Collection
  • yellow euro shams…Pottery Barn
  • grey pompom pillows…Hobby Lobby
  • comforter…Joss & Main
  • grey fur throw…Home Goods
  • yellow throw…Pier One
  • loveseat…Jennifer Grey
  • white pompom pillows…Home Goods
  • bathroom doors…Home Depot
  • bath towels…Pottery Barn

friday’s favorites

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite things this week…

{how pretty is the face mask bar at LUSH}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{pompoms are sort of like polka dots, right…and you know how I feel about polka dots}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{the pesto portobello bowl at Plat 8}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{the butterfly that would not leave my side during a fourth grade field trip to Put in Bay}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{the beginning of outdoor fires and s’mores}

Happy weekend!

triple berry muffins

triple berry muffins | polka dots and picket fences

Well, another school year is over!  Today is the last day of school for my youngest…she is more than ready for it to be over since her sisters are already finished.  My oldest came home from college for the summer the first week of May, and my middle daughter had her final exams last week.  While they are on “summer mode,” Claire is still setting her alarm clock every night.

I always have mixed emotions on this last day of school…happy to have a more relaxed schedule (love those carefree summer days) and see more of them, but also sad to see another year come to a close.  These years of raising my girls are going by in a flash.  Bittersweet, for sure!

Well, enough with the emotional talk…time to talk muffins!

triple berry muffins | polka dots and picket fences

triple berry muffins | polka dots and picket fences

Now that summer is approaching, it is the perfect time to bake these triple berry muffins.  We have a little more time in the mornings to prepare breakfast since we aren’t rushing out the door to school AND all those berries are in season!  A perfect time to try this recipe!

triple berry muffins | polka dots and picket fences

triple berry muffins | polka dots and picket fences

They combine strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries into a flavorful muffin!  These make a great breakfast, an afternoon snack, or a sweet accompaniment to a salad.

triple berry muffins | polka dots and picket fences

triple berry muffins | polka dots and picket fences

And look how pretty they are!

triple berry muffins | polka dots and picket fences

triple berry muffins | polka dots and picket fences

So while you’re printing the recipe for these yummy muffins, I’ll be packing away the backpack and lunch box until school starts again!

Print

Triple Berry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place liners in muffin pan and spray with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Mix until all ingredients are combined.  Set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and brown sugar until combined.  Whisk in the milk, oil, and vanilla extract.

  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix everything together with a wooden spoon.  Avoid over-mixing.  Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no pockets of flour remain.  The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy.

  5. To avoid them from leaking their color, very gently fold in 1 3/4 cups of the berries.

  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin.  Fill them all the way to the top.  Using the leftover berries, press a few into the tops of each muffin.

  7. Bake muffins at 425 degrees for 5 minutes.  Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake for 20-25 minutes.  Tops should be golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.  

  8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.