Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February Foodie Pen Pals

It's my second month at foodie pen pals & it's so fun to receive an amazing variety of snacks and foodie items in the mail. 

      Jen at http://myinnerhealthy.com/ spoiled me this month!
             Thank you Jen for  the delicious variety of  sweet treats.

Caramel Apple & Cherry Cola- Oh My! Dad loved these
Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies lasted a few hours in our house

The Candy Jar...dark chocolate coated peanut butter and marshmallow was my favorite.
Too bad NJ is so far away.

I must have this recipe! It was divine on toast.

Some details about Foodie Pen Pals in case you’re interested in participating yourself:
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your pen pal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your pen pal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your pen pal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Pen Pals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your pen pal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.-Foodie Pen Pals is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!
If you’re interested in participating for March, please send  an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
-WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so you get on the right list!
You must submit your information by March 4th as pairings will be emailed on March 5th!

Vegetarian Fried Potatoes & Broccolli

Q: Why do potatoes make good detectives?
                        A: Because they keep their eyes peeled.

Hi friends, I'm feeling a little quirky this morning~ ha!   Today's post pays homage to the wonderful potato.  It is versatile, affordable & can be really nourishing when it's paired with other healthy veggies. This meal is perfect for lunch, dinner or even breakfast!

  • 3 medium sized leftover baked potatoes
  • 2 cups broccolli crowns and stems, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/3 cup water

Place the onion, garlic, vegetable oil & spices in a frying pan on medium heat for 5 minutes.  Next,add potatoes and pan fry for 10 minutes. Last, add all parts of the broccolli.  Add 1/3 cup water and cover the frying pan to allow the broccolli to steam, approximately 10 minutes (stir a few times during the 10 minutes).

Serve ketchup and/or salsa on the side for dipping.

Friday, February 24, 2012

SeaWorld & Aquatica: Theme Park Reviews

I've been writing about our recent vacation to Orlando, Florida.  There were so many incredible opportunities for family fun. Today I'm sharing our opinions and experiences at two theme parks, close in proximity, and owned by the same company; SeaWorld & Aquatica.

Our Aquatica pass allowed us to visit an unlimited amount of days within a 14 day period.  As it turned out, it was our kids *favorite* theme park.  It even beat out Disney World.  We had 2 days left on passes at Disney World and they chose to skip the 2 days to enjoy Aquatica. Here's a quick list of what we "liked" & "disliked":


  1. Australian theme
  2. No crowds & no lines! Front row parking!
  3. Dolphin plunge: 2 enclosed clear tube slides that twist and turn through the dolphin lagoon- literally!
  4. Dolphin Exhibit
  5. Fish Grotto
  6. Sandy beaches 
  7. Wave pools
  8. Taumata Racer: racing head first down a steep hill
  9. Walk about Waters-floating along a lazy river..no tubes allowed
  10. Loggerhead Lane- lazy river with tubes, passing by the colorful world of tropical fish 
  11. Omaka Rocka: speeding down flumes & into massive tunnels
  12. Dousing buckets, slides, spraying water, fountains & more amazing slides!
  13. Gift shop with fair prices...I had a swimsuit malfunction and purchased a replacement at an o.k price.
  14. Many life guards throughout the park, along the lazy rivers and at the beaches
  15. Photographers at the bottom of many rides. We purchased some great photos ($15.00 each)
  16. Tropical birds


  1. $4.00 towel rentals (Bring your own!)
  2. Asked us to either throw away or return our packed sandwiches to our car (we were able to pack in fruit and snacks only)
Here's the link to the Aquatica site:

SeaWorld gets a special shout out for a few different reasons.  First, we were able to visit SeaWorld thanks to Hero's Salute.  If you serve in the military here is the link: http://www.herosalute.com/  The process was fast and easy.  We printed an authorization form at home.  Upon arrival at the park we presented the authorization and they verified our military identification & printed our tickets.  A big thank-you to SeaWorld...the only major theme park that provides military families admission to their park once a year.

     Second, SeaWorld offered a host of  unexpected thrill rides for the guys! They loved all the rides at this park and said they were unlike any other rides they had been on. 

Here's what we "liked" & "disliked":


  1. Hero Salute!  
  2. Manta inspired roller coaster
  3. Kraken- a floorless roller coaster and one of the fastest in Orlando
  4. Journey to Atlantis- water coaster
  5. Shamu's Happy Harbor: lots of tyke rides...we shared some laughs on the lil rides!
  6. Gorgeous flamingo's
  7. Wild Arctic helicopter ride and frozen wonderland to see beluga whales, polar bears and walruses
  8. Shamu Rocks show!  
  9. Turtle Point
  10. Seaside Village; variety of restaurants and cafe's with treats.  
A true "turtle", bigger than the palm of my hand! Tasty!!

  1. The Skytower was closed due to high winds
  2. Penguin Encounter was closed due to renovation, a big disappointment for our penguin fan.
Here's the link to the SeaWorld site:

Have you been to Aquatica or SeaWorld? What did you like best? 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

                  If you can't resist chocolate chip cookie dough
                                  then these are for *you*! 

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (milk or soy milk)
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 14 oz of almond bark to coat (or chocolate candy coating)
  • Red hots to decorate

Using an electric mixer, add butter, sugar and brown sugar.  Mix completely.  Add milk & vanilla. Mix. Add flour, baking soda & salt. Mix.  Add chocolate chips.

Place a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and refrigerate for about an hour.

Remove dough from fridge & form into balls using a cookie scoop.  Roll balls in the palm of your hands to create a round truffle.  If you have a larger cookie scoop (like me) you can create large truffles or you can cut your truffle in half for a smaller portion. ( My photo above shows the smaller size truffle). Place the truffles on waxed paper and freeze for about 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until it's completely melted. Using a fork, dip truffle into coating then place back on waxed paper.  If you are using almond bark it will dry in less than 10 minutes, place in an airtight container in the fridge.

* Recipe Source: Lindsay at Loveandoliveoil.com
(My modifications are to use almond milk & red hots)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chocolate Pretzels with Pretty Sprinkles

              A tasty & easy-to-make treat. Fun for little hands 
                                 to help dip-n-sprinkle.

  • 3 cups pretzels
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or almond bark
  • 2 different kinds of sprinkles

Begin with one type of chocolate. Melt chips in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds then stir.  Repeat. Work fairly quickly to dip the pretzels in chocolate before it hardens.  Place the pretzels on waxed paper.  Once you have about 10 pretzels completed, add sprinkles.  Try not to wait too long before adding the sprinkles...they'll stick only if the chocolate is still melted.  Melt the second type of chocolate & repeat steps above.  Add contrasting chocolate drizzles with the extra chocolate.  You'll probably need to re-melt the chocolate.

Once dried place chocolate dipped pretzels in an air tight container or in baggies.


What treats do you like to make with your kids?


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Discovery Cove: Theme Park Review

Part 3 of our Orlando vacation review.

Discovery Cove is a magical place that accepts just 1,000 visitors per day.  If swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with thousands of fish and manta rays, drifting along the tropical currents of a lazy river with waterfalls, aviaries and caves is your idea of a great day then read on!

The Discovery Cove & Aquatica experiences, in our 10 days of Orlando park hopping, were by far the overall  favorites of our family.


  • Swimming with dolphins, a powerful experience to connect with a dolphin and witness firsthand how intelligent our mammal friends really are!

  • Explorer's Aviary, a natural environment to feed fresh fruit to our feathered friends and enjoy a snuggle with Captain Sparrow!

  • Wind Away River, a lazy river unlike any other. Explore caves, waterfalls, float through an aviary and see gorgeous tropical birds.  
  • Serenity Bay, an 80 degree beach/poolside experience to enjoy the tropical weather and relax.

  • The Grand Reef, an exciting place to swim and snorkel among sting rays and tropical fish of all kinds. All snorkel gear & sea life safe sunscreen is provided by Discovery Cove.

This all-inclusive experience included a breakfast buffet, lunch buffet, unlimited snacks and beverages & a 14 day pass to one of the following parks:  Busch Gardens, Sea World, or Aquatica.  We chose Aquatica and I will write this week about that experience. 

We opted for the additional "dolphin swim" experience and the total per person was $199.  This is the lowest rate I could find and appeared lower than other months due to our off-season travel dates.  I searched for coupon codes and couldn't find any current offers. We were fortunate to have just over 500 visitors, we really felt the lack of crowds enhanced this experience.

Admission also included a family photo that is taken at the beginning of the day. We also opted to purchase the photo disc of all photos taken which cost over $100. We have many family photos taken on the lazy river at the waterfalls, in the aviary and dolphin swim that aren't in the blog.  The only disappointment was that the family photo taken at the beginning of the day is not provided on the disc and they do not keep soft copies of it to purchase.

The food was hearty and choices were plentiful including whole fresh fruit. I wouldn't classify the dining as "gourmet" but it was a step above other buffets we have experienced.

To summarize, this experience was one of two that our kids asked about going back. After spending the day here we weren't surprised to that learn that Disney is no longer one of our kids favorite places.  

* In the side bar of my blog you'll notice that I state that all photos that are on my site I have take and are mine.  This post is the exception. Due to the nature of swimming with dolphins, we purchased the photo disc from Discovery Cove, I do own the pictures shown here, I just did not take them myself. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bear Hugs

Who couldn't use a bear hug, right?

These cuties are heading to the armory this weekend as a fundraiser that supports the Army FRG (Family Readiness Group).

They would be perfect for:

  • Valentine's gifts
  • A get well care package
  • A "just because"
  • Birthday party favors
  • Bake sale

How to:

Air pop or oil pop the popcorn and add salt.  Add a handful of popcorn, 5 cinnamon bears and about 9 Teddy Grahams in each baggie.  Tie with 2 different ribbons.  Attach super cute tag. 

*Thank you to Angela for the great tag templates- her website is amazing!

Yield: 29 baggies

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Seatac Parking & Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake in Orlando, Florida

The big day of travel to Orlando, Florida for our 10 day vacation. I'll share a review of the long term airport parking in Seattle & resort photos/review tips of the resort in Orlando.

We parked at America's Best Value Airport Parking located at 20620 International Blvd. Seattle.  It was a few miles from the airport, offered a shuttle service and cost $3.99 per day.  Taxes & fees included, our bill was $51.69.  We'd park there again.

The resort was spectacular! Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake, 4.5 star resort, exceeded our expectations.  

Here's a quick list of our "likes" & dislikes":


  • So much to do!
  • Over 1,250 acres of amenities
  • Movie theater
  • 7 pools, including slides & a lazy river
  • 4 tennis courts
  • 2 full size basketball courts
  • Tether ball
  • Lake side beaches with water sport rentals
  • Arcades
  • Kids club.  Offers childcare and/or craft making.  We painted a super cute piggy bank
  • 9 restaurants/bars
  • Grocery store
  • Free shuttle service within the resort. *This was handy when the guys spent the day at Universal Studios...they took the car & we were able to stay at the resort and explore the 7 pools and slides.
  • Kitchens in all condos
  • Washer and Dryers (not coin operated- yay!)
  • Alligator presentation which allowed us to hold an alligator!
  • Beautiful grounds
  • Pool side games with prizes
  • Fitness Center
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Use our room key to charge any items onsite
  • Close proximity to theme parks


  • $7.00 resort fee per day
  • Timeshare salespeople calling every day 
  • $20 credit given at the time of check-in once you meet with a time share salesperson for a few minutes.  The $20 credit is only redeemable for tickets and attractions offsite (the fine print wasn't clear on the credit). The ticket prices are higher than fair market value. 
  • Pay .50 cents per minute in the business center for use of the desktop computers and $1.00 per page to print.
  • No deck or patio at our condo unit
  • No BBQ 
  • $9.00 per tube per day at the lazy river
In summary, it was the kind of resort that catered to nearly every whim.  Despite the timeshare sales people and random fees, we look forward to staying here again.