Kids Gift Ideas: Bubby and Didi’s Suggestions

Since the holiday shopping season is here, I thought I would share with you some gift ideas for kids with a The Adventures of Bubby and Didi theme.

Gifts to inspire creative play do not have to be expensive.
  1. The Adventures of Bubby and Didi by Melissa Gilstrap (of course!)
    • More information about the book is available on a previous post here.
    • I really do think this is a great gift this holiday season since we are all going to be spending more time at home and kids are playing more often with just their siblings.
  2. Adventure Box items
    • The book has a recipe for how kids can make their own Adventure Box but it really is quite simple. All you need are different odds and ends from around the house (toilet paper or paper towel rolls, old t-shirts, old Halloween or dress up outfits, etc).
    • You could also add some fun new items that are inexpensive:
  3. Young, Wild, and Friedman sensory kits
    • My kids have been asking for these kits because a couple of their friends have them. The kits each have a theme (mermaids and reptiles are what my kids asked for). Each kit has three different play doughs and then items that go with the theme so kids can create little scenes. I can see my kids playing at the kitchen counter with these for hours!
  4. Classic Lego Bricks with challenge cards
    • I know Lego kits are all the rage and my son loves these too BUT I’m not the biggest fan. Why? While they are great at teaching kids to follow directions they are not great at encouraging creativity. (Plus, how many kits can you possibly store/display the built items for?) I prefer the occasional kit and then just Classic Lego Bricks that are built, torn apart, and rebuilt again and again. We have large box of Classic Lego Bricks that fits under my son’s bed and we often find him and his sister in the mornings sitting around this box making random things.
    • There are lots of different challenge cards you can find online with different themes. These challenge cards give kids an idea of something to make and then they have to figure out how to create it. During the first round of quarantine, my kids did a 30 day Lego challenge where every day I would send them upstairs with a challenge to do and 30 minutes to an hour later they would come back down with their creations. It is amazing what I can get done in that time!
    • Here are some options for challenge cards. They are easy to find on pinterest (for free) or on Etsy (low cost). You could even create your own as well:

Those are my Bubby and Didi themed suggestions for this year! Some additional ideas from what Beast and I are getting our kids are below.

In our house, we have a gift or two from Santa, stockings, and then gifts from parents. We try really hard not to overdue gifts since we have two sets of grandparents and other people who love on our kids with gifts as well.

Beast and I gift the kids in the following categories:

  • Ornament from Hallmark (series or something special from the year)
    • I write a little note to each kid that stays in their ornament box for them to read each year when they get it out. The note explains why I chose that ornament or why the one in the series is meaningful for this year.
  • Something you want
  • Something you need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read

This year our Santa gifts and some of our other gifts are camping themed since we ordered a Colorado teardrop camper that will be ready in April. We cannot wait for it to be done!!!

For ornaments, Ladybug gets the Brilliant Butterflies series because she is my little garden helper. Bear does not have a series yet so I’ve been picking an ornament for him each year. He’s received a few superheroes and last year was Patrick Mahomes, which he was very excited about. This year, I had to commemorate the Chiefs Superbowl win.

For something you want, my kids are each getting one of the Young, Wild, and Friedman sensory kits discussed above. I’m guessing we’ll be spending more time inside this year so I was happy to purchase these kits that I know will keep them busy!

For something you need, we went with camping blankets that they picked out from Rumpl with their favorite National Park picture. In the new teardrop they will have their own little bunks so we wanted in invest in some blankets that they like, will withstand the wear and tear of camping and match our decor inside.

For something to wear, we are filling needs this year with a new swimsuit set for Bear (in hopes we can actually go on a planned vacation after Christmas) and new boots for Ladybug. I also got some of their winter essentials from as well as some really fun matching pajamas for the whole family (even our dog). We’ll see what Beast thinks about that… Dogs in clothes are not his favorite thing.

That is a summary of what we’ll be gifting the kids this year. I hope that helps spur some ideas for your kids as well.


*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use or purchase myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase an item. In addition, as the author of The Adventures of Bubby and Didi, I also receive compensation for each copy of the book that is purchased.


Exciting news: Children’s Book Published!

More information and an excerpt at

I’ve hinted before that I had a bit of a side writing project going on and just this week I was able share exactly what that was. I published a children’s book called The Adventures of Bubby and Didi. It is based on my kids, Bear and Ladybug as I call them in this space, and I could not be more excited to have it out in the world!

This book has been written for a couple of years. I have read it to my kids off and on and occasionally sent it to random publishers to see if anyone was interested in it. During the spring quarantine of 2020 I decided to get more serious about getting it published. I used my Fridays off to begin working with Archway Publishing, the self-publishing arm of Simon and Schuster, and six months later the book has been published.

The book is all about how two siblings use a cardboard box full of odds and ends to have creative playtimes at home. I do not think the timing could be any better since we’re all staying at home a bit more these days, siblings are playmates even more than before, and the cooler fall/winter weather is arriving making indoor play more frequent. I really hope this book can be used by families to help inspire creative playtimes for their kids during the craziness of 2020 and beyond.

More details about where you can find the book and the story are below.

Happy reading!



The Adventures of Bubby and Didi

Published October 21, 2020 by Archway Publishing

More information and an excerpt at

Available now at:

*Authors receive a higher percentage of the purchase price when a book is ordered directly from the publisher instead of a retailer like Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Details about the book:

Bubby and Didi are not just brother and sister. They’re best friends, too! Together, they use an “Adventure Box,” filled with odds and ends to help them go on adventures throughout the day——with their dog, Charlie, of course.

One moment, Bubby and Didi are superheroes stopping the bad guy. The next moment, they’re chefs whipping up tasty treats for their biggest fan: Charlie. Their Adventure Box lets them travel to far-off places in their imaginations, like the jungle and even space.

At the end of the day, it’s time to rest, but Bubby and Didi aren’t finished having fun yet. Now, it’s time to read books, and those books give them ideas for tomorrow’s playtime!

Follow @bubbyanddidi on Instagram for updates about the book.

Sunday Supper: Sourdough toasts with ricotta, honey, and pistachios

If you read my last post you already know I picked up sourdough baking during quarantine. Very original, I know. Well, I also picked up making homemade ricotta. A friend and colleague of mine shared her recipe with me and said she had been working on it in quarantine so it sounded like something I should try as well. And it doubled as an eLearning science lesson.

You can make your own sourdough and ricotta or you can buy the store bought versions. I will say that I do love how creamy homemade ricotta is instead of the slightly grainy texture of store bought. BUT, both would work here. If you are going to make your own homemade sourdough (recipe here) and ricotta (recipe here), there are lots of recipes online. I would suggest making those the day before and then assembling this appetizer to have on hand while you make a Sunday Supper. This recipe goes best with a Johnnyswim Live From The Backyard or Songs with Strangers episode on and a glass of wine in your hand.


  • Sourdough bread or baguette cut into slices
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • Honey
  • 1 cup crushed pistachios


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Slice bread and place on cookie sheet
  3. Bake bread for 10 minutes
  4. While bread bakes, put pistachios is a plastic baggie
  5. Crush pistachios with the back of a ladle or meat tenderizer
  6. Take bread out of oven and spread as much ricotta as you’d like on each piece of bread
  7. Drizzle each slice with honey
  8. Sprinkle pistachios on each piece
  9. Enjoy the creamy, salty, chewy deliciousness
  10. If the kids are not super excited about the ricotta, skip the ricotta and just top with honey +/- the nuts

This is a favorite in our house. I can barely get one piece assembled before someone is grabbing it off the plate. I hope you will enjoy it too!

Happy cooking!


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From the garden: Roasted tomato appetizer

One of the hobbies I picked up during quarantine was baking sourdough. Like so many other people, it seemed like a good skill to develop when I had more time on my hands. Baking two loaves a week meant that I had to figure out how to use all that bread so this appetizer has become something of a regular at our house. This time of year the garden is spilling over with tomatoes of all sizes and basil. Add a little garlic, olive oil, and balsamic reduction and you’ve got yourself something quite delicious. This recipe goes best with a little Leon Bridges on Spotify and a glass of wine.

Quarantine hobby: Baking sourdough


  • 3 large tomatoes cut in large chunks on a mix of large and cherry tomatoes
    • Keep cherry tomatoes whole
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Balsamic reduction
  • Handful of chopped fresh basil
    • Chiffonade the basil if you want to get fancy with it
  • Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
  • Homemade or store bought sourdough cut into slices and halved
    • A french baguette would also work well


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice bread and place on sheet tray
  3. Rub one side bread with a garlic clove
  4. Wash tomatoes and cut in large chunks (if large)
  5. Slice garlic cloves
  6. Add tomatoes and garlic to an oven safe pan
  7. Add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
  8. Stir mixture so every bit of tomatoes are coated with olive oil and garlic is spread out
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes
  10. Change oven setting to broil
  11. Broil for 5-10 minutes until tomatoes are blistered
  12. Let cool 5 minutes
  13. While tomatoes are cooling, switch oven back to bake at 400 and toast bread for 5 minutes
  14. Top tomato mixture with a drizzle of balsamic reduction, basil, and the optional crumbled goat cheese
  15. Dip the warm bread right into the pan to soak up the olive oil goodness and make sure to get some of everything in every bite.

We love this appetizer when we’re having a lighter dinner or having a nice slow night. I just love everyone gathered around the kitchen island kids usually sitting on the island around a yummy, warm dish. We usually top half of this with the crumbled goat cheese so the kids can avoid that if they so choose.

Since we’re supposed to have a super early freeze this next week, I will likely be making this a time or two to use up my tomatoes and basil.

I hope you enjoy!

Happy cooking!

Quarantine Meal Plan: 5 Easy Meals & Tips

The last couple of weeks have been surreal to say the least. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are now trying to work from home while homeschooling our kids. We’re all cooking a lot more simply because we have to so I wanted to share 5 of my work night meals and a few tips to help make dinners easier during this situation. Finally, there is also a grocery list to make all of these meals at the end.


  1. Meal plan: Make a plan so you only have to go to the grocery store once a week. We’re trying really hard to do this just to limit our potential exposures. My guide for how I meal plan is here.
  2. Make double batches: If you’re getting tired of all the cooking, make double batches of anything you can. Then you get two meals out of one cooking effort. You can then:
    • Save the second batch for another meal that week
    • Use the leftovers for lunch the next day
    • Freeze the second batch for another meal later on
  3. Eat fresh: There are many items unavailable at groceries store right now but fresh produce has been well stocked. Finding fresh products is easier and has also helped us feel good during the day. We also have our freezer stocked with meats, veggies, and fruit just in case we don’t want to get out for several days but still want to eat healthy items instead of non-perishable items.
  4. Cook your way through a cookbook: Open up that cookbook you’ve been meaning to cook out of for awhile. Add a couple of different dishes to your meal plan each week and try something new. My friend starting doing this and I thought it was a brilliant way to mix things up. We’re both cooking through The Defined Dish by Alex Snodgrass, which I highly recommend.

The Plan: The 5 meals listed below are lined up for the work week. You could have leftovers/carryout Saturday and something from your favorite cook book Sunday to fill your plan.

Monday: Lemon Pepper Salmon with Roasted Broccoli

If I have fish in my meal plan, I like to make it at the beginning of the week so we’re enjoying it as fresh as possible.

Tuesday: Go-To Taco Meat

You can use different meats or different tortillas/lettuce wraps to mix this up each week.

Wednesday: Crock Pot Chicken Salads

You can turn crock pot chicken into many different meals. I give you the possible variations (from salads to tacos) in the recipe.

Thursday: Go-To Pasta Sauce

This recipe sneaks lots of different veggies into the meat sauce you are used to.

Friday: Grilled Chicken with Rainbow Veggies

Soak up some fresh air and sunshine while you make this easy dinner. If the weather isn’t good for grilling, switch to a oven roasted chicken and veggies instead (400 degrees for ~30 minutes.)

Grocery List:

This list has all the items for these 5 meals for 4 servings each meal. Add your lunch, breakfast, and other staples and you’ll be ready to go for your grocery trip. Make sure you have olive oil, salt, pepper, and butter on hand.

  • Salmon (1.5-2 lbs)
  • Ground beef (1 lb)
  • Ground turkey (1 lb)
  • Chicken breasts (6-8 pieces)
  • Broccoli crowns (3)
  • Carrots (2 lbs)
  • Red pepper (3)
  • White onion (2)
  • Red onion
  • Zucchini (2)
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Salad mix
  • Croutons
  • Lemon
  • Pineapple (or container of fresh prepped pineapple)
  • Diced green chiles (4 oz can)
  • Fire roasted diced tomatoes (14 oz can)
  • Black beans (14 oz can)
  • Lemon pepper seasoning
  • Barbecue chicken rub
  • Taco seasoning packet
  • Taco shells
  • Spanish rice mix
  • Box of your favorite pasta
  • Jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Bottle of your favorite salad dressing
  • Chicken broth (2 cups)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream (small container)

I hope this is helpful during these crazy times!

Happy cooking and stay well!

Work Night Dinner: Lemon Pepper Salmon and Roasted Broccoli

If you ask my son, Bear, what his favorite food is he will typically say salmon. And he means it. Whenever I make salmon he will eat at least a half pound by himself (at age 6). I can’t imagine how much he will eat as a teenager! If I ever ask what he would like for dinner while I’m meal planning, he’ll request salmon. So, we eat salmon at least 3-4 times a month.

Bear eating his massive piece of salmon.

Ladybug can do a number on salmon as well, hence why we have to buy 2 lbs of salmon for our family of four!

Ladybug eats her fair share too.

I sometimes hear from friends that they do not like fish but that they especially do not like salmon. I think in most cases that means they do not like poorly cooked fish and salmon is often very, very poorly cooked. Typically, it is way overdone which makes it taste fishy. Properly cooked salmon does not have that overly fishy taste. Moral of the story: Don’t overcook salmon and you may actually like it (or love it)!

Today I am sharing the way I cook salmon most often. This recipe is great for when you want to have a light, healthy dinner that is made quickly on one pan. If you wanted a heartier meal, you could add some roasted potatoes as well.


  • 1.5 to 2 lbs fresh salmon
  • Lemon pepper or other seasoning mix
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • substitute with olive oil or ghee to make Whole30 compliant
  • 3-4 slices of fresh lemon
  • 3 crowns broccoli
  • Olive
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Open up a bottle of rosé and pour yourself a glass
  3. Put down a layer of foil to cover half of a large baking tray
  4. Place the salmon skin side down on the foil
  5. Sprinkle a nice layer of lemon pepper or other seasoning mix directly on the salmon
  6. Cut pads of butter and lemon slices
  7. Arrange butter and lemon slices on top of salmon
  8. Place another layer of foil on top of the salmon
  9. Roll the edges of the foil together to create a packet around the salmon
  10. Cut florets of broccoli off the broccoli crowns
  1. Place broccoli on the other half of the pan
  2. Drizzle broccoli with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and lemon pepper or other seasoning mix
  3. Place pan in oven for 30 minutes
    • 30 minutes will give you salmon that is cooked just all the way through. If you like more of a medium rare cook, reduce the time to 20-25 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, open foil packet and slice salmon
    • The salmon should be moist and tender, not firm.
  5. Use a turner/flipper to slide between the salmon and skin so you can serve it skinless
  6. Add broccoli to the plate and serve

And just like that, a healthy dinner is done and on the table!

Happy cooking!


Colorado Gardening Timeline and Tips

I started gardening in Colorado the summer of 2008 when we bought our first house. It came with raised beds that had sprinklers and I quickly over-planted and over-watered. Each year has been a bit better than the last mainly thanks to the many classes offered at Tagawa Gardens, my favorite garden center, and making sure to utilize plants and seeds that grow well in our high altitude climate.

I highly recommend the High Altitude Bucket from Seeds Trust. I have been using seeds from this bucket for several years now so the $64 investment has been well worth it.

Probably the biggest thing I have learned over the years is that you cannot just do it all on Mother’s Day (as many people recommend) and think everything will work out. Mother’s Day is perfect for about 1/3 of what you will plant but too early for another 1/3 and too late for another 1/3. It is best to spread everything out from March to June and plant when it is ideal for that individual vegetable.

Here is my Colorado gardening timeline, tips, and some of my favorite resources learned from over 10 years of amateur gardening experience.

March 1:

  • Clean up your beds
  • Add a good mix of garden soil, compost, and composted manure (do not use fresh manure because it will burn your plants)
  • Cover the beds with plastic sheeting so the soil will start to get warm
  • Read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver to get inspired and excited about gardening season.

March 17: St. Patrick’s Day

  • Uncover cool crop bed
  • Sow peas, snap peas, or snow peas directly in your garden (old American tradition that brings good luck to your garden)
  • Also sow kale, radish, and spinach seeds directly in your garden.
  • Start seeds for warmer weather crops (tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, green beans, herbs, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, etc) inside
    • I like to make mini greenhouses with egg crates, seed starting mix, labeled popsicle sticks and gallon sized plastic bags. You can buy lights to help things get started but I have had success simply placing my mini greenhouses in windowsills on south-facing windows.

April 1: April Fool’s Day

  • Plant seedlings of cool crops in garden (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts etc)
  • Plant bare roots of asparagus
  • Sow beet, carrot, celery, and lettuce seeds directly in your garden

Some green beans and other vegetables waiting to be planted outside.

Mother’s Day:

  • Uncover warm crop bed
  • Plant green bean and herb seedlings
  • Sow additional green bean and pea seeds
  • Plant additional cool crop seedlings and sow second round of seeds
  • Take pictures with family by garden and celebrate what feels like the real start to gardening season!
Mother’s Day 2017

June 1:

  • Plant tomato, cucumber, zucchini, other squash, melon, eggplant and pepper seedlings or plants purchased from garden center
    • Do not feel like you are cheating if you purchase plants!
Garden caprese is for sure one of my favorite things to make.

Perennial plants I highly recommend:

  • Asparagus (ask for bare root variety recommendation at local garden center)
  • Blackberries: Triple Crown
    • This is a variety recommended by the CSU Master Gardener Program. It does not produce suckers and does not have thorns. The berries are huge and sweet. I have two of these plants now and plan on adding more due to how well they are producing and how much fun it is to see my kids enjoy eating straight from the vines.
  • Grafted fruit trees:
    • Fruit salad or multi-variety apple trees are a great option for small gardens. These trees are self-pollinating so you do not need multiple trees to achieve pollination, which is necessary for fruit to grow. It is worth going to a quality garden center and spending a bit more on your tree to make sure you get every variety that is advertised and varieties that will grow well in your climate.
    • Your garden center will likely advise you to pick 100% of the flowers off the first year, 75% the second year, 50% the third year and 25% the fourth year. While that is hard to do when you really want to see fruit growing on your tree, it will help the tree to put down good roots and grow strong branches that will not break under the weight of the heavy fruit.


  • Keep trying! Gardening in Colorado is a little hard. Sometimes it feels like a bit of an experiment each year. Our summers can be very different year-to-year so if something doesn’t work well one year, ask your local garden center for advice and try again. If something works really well, write down what you did (when and how you planted, etc) so you can do it the same next year.
  • Consult the CSU Extension Yard & Garden resources regularly
    • They have lots of advice, how-tos, etc. I always consult this before making a perennial purchase in order to make sure it is a variety that will do well in Colorado.
  • Hold your seedlings and plants carefully by the leaves, not the stem
    • I probably crushed the stem of a 100 fragile plants before I learned this one and then the plants would promptly die after I planted them outside.
  • Let the ground around your plants dry between waterings
    • Watering too much can cause lots of problems including bug infestations that are hard to control.
  • Plant a flower or butterfly garden near your vegetable garden
    • This will encourage bees to visit your garden and pollinate your vegetables.

I will make sure to add things as I learn them but this is what I have for now.

Happy gardening!

Kid Gift Idea: Lemonade/Cocoa Stand

Bear and Ladybug had been asking us to have a lemonade stand all summer last year and unfortunately, we just never got around to it. When Christmas rolled around, we thought they would still be excited to have a lemonade stand even if it was a few months late.

I built the stand in our entryway in one afternoon.

I started pinterest searching and found lots of different plans. The plan we went with is here: Fantabulosity Lemonade Stand. Building this took one trip to Home Depot and one afternoon of time. It was built entirely my yours truly with some simple power tool use. I did make a few small changes to the plan:

  1. Only one crate is flipped to the front. I did this in order to provide more storage in the back.
  2. I put the rods for the sign on the inside of the crates, not the outside. This was to clean up the outside edge of the stand and make sure little bodies wouldn’t bump into the rough edges of the rods.
  3. I used a drill and sturdy screws in addition to hammering in small nails. This was just to make sure it would last, especially since we were planning to have it live in their playroom when not in use outside.
We celebrated our family Christmas a little early since we were traveling over the holiday. They ran first to the stand and were most excited about that gift.

And the result…. Very happy kids who happily sold hot cocoa and homemade cinnamon rolls to our neighbors on a December Saturday morning. I posted on our neighborhood facebook page that the kids were out and what they were selling. I also put a cup with some quarters at the corner just in case someone didn’t have cash but still wanted to come by. The kids had a lot of fun and were excited to count the money they earned and put it in their banks. They are looking forward to having a lemonade stand this summer already.

They had a lot of fun!

When the stand is not in use in front of our house, we have it in their playroom where they use it as a grocery store and restaurant.

They have used it to sell groceries, cookies, meals, toys, and all sorts of things.

I thought I would share this now in case anyone was looking for Easter or birthday ideas for their kids.

Have a great day!

My Recommendations for Kid Ski Gear: and Epic Mountain Gear

Beast and me in 2012

Before kids, Beast and I used to get 20+ ski days in a year. With little kids it is a lot harder to get up the hill so we have been rather impatiently waiting for Ladybug and Bear to be old enough to start skiing. We did a single ski lesson for them in 2019 at Keystone Resort. It was fine but very expensive. Each time we spied on them, Ladybug was sitting and eating snow so we were’t so sure that we were getting what we paid for. This year, we signed them up for a 4-week Kids Club session at Arapahoe Basin. Bear is in Kids Club and Ladybug is in Little Kids Club. I have been really impressed with their progress and how much they are enjoying lessons! The cost is also much more reasonable. In addition, Arapahoe Basin has been our go-to ski resort since we were in college. (At one point we were known by name by one of the bartenders and had our own mugs each year behind the bar.) The food, drinks, and coffee are all very good too (including the raw bar on Sundays) so it is an overall win for everyone!

At the drop off each week it has become pretty clear that many parents struggle with finding the right ski gear for kids so I thought I would share the items we have found (after some trial and error) that work extremely well.

My two main pieces of advice:

  1. Do not overdress the kids. I can still remember the ski instructors I had as a kid getting frustrated when kids were overdressed. If kids get overheated and then sweaty it is really hard to keep them warm the rest of the day. It goes better if you focus on keeping the core warm and everything else covered.
  2. Let the kids pick out their gear as much as possible. It is a lot easier to get all of that on them when they like the colors/patterns. A few of the things my kids picked out do not exactly match or were not exactly what I would have picked but they happily put them on which makes my life easier.

Gear: All purchased at Epic Mountain Gear

  • Skis and boots: Epic Mountain Gear has a fabulous program for kids called their Junior Trade Program. We bought used gear at a reasonable price as part of their Christmas present and then will get to trade it in towards new gear when the kids need longer skis/bigger boots.
  • Helmets: Giro kids ski helmets purchased at Epic Mountain Gear.
  • Goggles: Giro kids ski goggles purchased at Epic Mountain Gear.
  • Head/neck covering: Turtle Fur Lightweight Ninja Balaclava purchased at Epic Mountain Gear.
    • I’m sure you’re asking, “What is a balaclava?” Just the absolute, most perfect item to go under a helmet without being too bulky and cover the neck/chin without being too hot. They come in a ton of fun patterns and my kids really enjoyed picking out exactly the pattern they wanted. I liked the kids’ so much that I wound up buying an adult sized balaclava myself and now I will not ski without it.

Clothes: Mainly from

I love because the clothes are soft, tag-less, and the kids love picking out their favorite colors. The clothes mix and match very well and are very good quality, which means I can easily pass them down from one kid to the next. Also, I feel like they are just touch longer in all the right places so the clothes last just a bit longer than average. Get 20% off your order with promo code PRIMARYMELISSAG71 or here.

  • Base layer pants: PJ Pant (Cozy Sweatpants would work too)
  • Base layer top: Long Sleeve PJ Top
  • Socks: Burton Kids Weekend Midweight Sock purchased at Epic Mountain Gear
  • Vest: Lightweight Puffer Vest
  • Jackets: Lightweight Puffer Jacket
    • I strongly recommend this lightweight jacket instead of a bigger, bulkier jacket. It has the right amount of warmth and is thin enough that the kids can easily move around in it.
  • Ski pants: Hand-me-downs or VarageSale/Facebook Marketplace finds.
    • This is a great item to look for used because you can find deals that are in great shape or barely worn. I like the overall/bib style for little kids so they don’t get snow up their back when they are rolling around in the snow.
  • Gloves: Chakka Snow Blakka Snow Mittens purchased on
    • The extra long sleeve on these keeps snow off the wrists. My kids leave these on better compared to other mittens.

We have used this set up many times now and it has worked very, very well. We have not heard any complaints from the kids about being too cold or too hot and they have happily skied even in really cold weather with lots of snow coming down.

Again, you can get 20% off your order at the following ways:

  2. Follow this link:

I hope this helps you put together cozy ski outfits for your little ones!

Happy skiing!


Skiing while the kids are in Kids Club. That is my balaclava.

Mama G’s Crock Pot Chili and Green Chile Cornbread

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. The air is cooler, the leaves are changing and hopefully my Kansas City Chiefs and CU Buffs are doing well on the field. Plus there are all the things I love to cook this season.

Chili is definitely something we have at least a few times a month October through the end of winter. This recipe is a blend of my mom’s recipe that I grew up on plus some additions that give it a Colorado touch (i.e. diced green chile peppers).

The final product


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 red peppers, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 package chili seasoning (Williams seasoning is my favorite but it isn’t available in Colorado. Here is hoping I now have a few packets in my stocking when we go back to Kansas City for Christmas!)
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 30 oz can of chili beans
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 4 oz cans diced green chile peppers or 4-8 oz of fresh roasted peppers (I would use the hot version if cooking for adults and the mild version if cooking for kids.)
All easy to find ingredients.

Optional add-ins:

  • 1 lb ground pork (I like to add an extra pound of meat when I am serving a crowd)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (This is a great way to sneak some additional veggies in.)


  • Sour cream
  • Diced green onions/scallions
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Saltine crackers


  1. Brown meat(s)
  2. While meat is browning, chop vegetables
  3. Drain fat off of meat(s) if needed
  4. Add chili seasoning to drained meat and cook for a couple of minutes
  5. If the bottom of the pan gets crusty, add a little water or beer if you have a can open to deglaze the pan (You want all the seasoning making it into the crock pot, not sticking to the pan.)
  6. Scrape meat and seasoning into crock pot
  7. Add all vegetables to crock pot
  8. Add all canned items to crock pot
  9. Stir
  10. Cook on low for 8 hours
  11. Serve with toppings in bowls for people to add what they like

And yes, I know my crock pot is hideous. See my crock pot chicken recipe for the explanation of why I keep it around.

Serving suggestion:

I like to have cornbread with my chili. My favorite brand is Krusteaz and their Honey Cornbread and Muffin mix is very, very good.

Definitely my favorite cornbread mix.

I typically mix the box following their directions and spoon out a couple of muffins worth into a muffin pan (these will be for the kids). Then I add a can or fresh green chiles to the mix and spoon out the rest of the batter into the muffin pan (these are for the adults). For those at high altitude, make sure to follow the high altitude instructions of adding a bit more milk and flour.

Now add some football and a cool night and you have a perfect fall evening meal!

Happy cooking!