The Importance of Being Reese

15 Messy Summer Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #allEssentials #CollectiveBias

As parents it's easy to forget how much fun getting messy once was. When we see our younguins playing in mud, our first instinct is typically to try to intervene. But we shouldn't. Sure you might catch a few side-eyes from the Sanctimommies at the playground, but studies have consistently shown that playing in dirt has many health and psychological benefits. In fact, a recent study revealed that certain types of  bacteria commonly found in soil activates the neurons in your brain that produce serotonin, the mood regulator of the body.

So, let your kids get messy! It's literally good for their health. It took me a while to build up the courage to just allow Little J to have good, dirty fun, but now that I've backed off a bit, I'm finding that I'm enjoying making messy memories with her. Besides, now that I've switched to using all® Fresh Clean Essentials, I can finally kick back and enjoy watching Little J make get messy without fretting about how hard I'm going to have to scrub to remove those mud/ and or paint stains. all® Fresh Clean Essentials provides a powerful clean without the typical harshness found in other detergents.

Since Little J has sensitive skin, finding sulfate free detergents has always been a bit of a struggle, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all® Fresh Clean Essentials is sulfate free and still provides a powerful, deep down clean without removing the color from her clothing. In mommy terms, that means winning!

So if you're looking for some fun (and messy) ways to helps your little ones beat the indoor blues, check out my list below and make sure you've got your all® Fresh Clean Essentials at the ready to handle the mess!

Paint Rocks
This is one of Little J's favorite pastimes and involves very little supplies. Basically, all you'll need is a round rock or two, paint, paintbrushes, and a colorful imagination.
  1. Select your rock. 
  2. Lay out your paint
  3. Hand the paintbrush to your toddler
  4. Step back
  5. And let the fun commence.
  6. If you're feeling extra bold, put some paint in a bottle with 1/2 cup of water and let them spray paint their rocks.

  1. When your toddler is done, take the rocks and place in a warm and sunny location for at least 2 hours to allow rocks to dry. 
  2. Decloth toddler and toss contaminated clothing into washer along with detergent
  3. Read and follow instructions on your bottle of all® Fresh Clean Essentials
  4. Admire your toddlers handy artwork and bring rocks to your office to showcase how talented your little one is!

Melt Crayons in the Sun
Be sure to stop by and visit the lovely Crystal of Growing a Jeweled Rose for a full tutorial for this awesomely fun sunny day project!
Be sure to stop by and visit the lovely Tara of We Got Real for a full tutorial for this creative and messy outdoor project!
Be sure to stop by and visit the lovely Kim of Roadkill Rescue for a full tutorial for this wet and wild project!
Be sure to stop by and visit the lovely Jenn of Clean and Scentsible for the full tutorial for this awesome outdoor natural scavenger hunt tutorial and printable!
Be sure to stop by and visit for the full tutorial for this awesome outdoor natural scavenger hunt tutorial and printable!
Be sure to stop by and visit the lovely Crystal of Growing a Jeweled Rose for a full tutorial for this awesome nighttime project!
Be sure to stop by and visit the lovely Amy of Learning and Exploring Through Play for a full tutorial for this awesome nighttime project!

Be sure to stop by and visit Kids Activity Blog for the tutorial on how to make these messy and colorful paint bombs!
Check out B-Inspired Mama for the lowdown on this ooey gooey, delicious pie.

You'll want to check out this simple and amazing project-- Erupting Ice Chalk by Allison of Learn Play Imagine.
Stop by and visit Growing a Jeweled Rose AGAIN for this super easy outdoor craft for your toddlers and preschoolers! 
No blender, no problem! Go visit Lorie of Reading Confetti for a super cool tutorial on how to create a Blender Free Slushie
Talk about saving the best for last. Don't walk, run to Momfluential to check out this amazingly awesome tutorial for a Kiddie Car Wash!

These are just a few idea to get you started, but the possibilities are endless! If you're planning on getting messy with your kiddos this season, be sure to head to the Love Your Laundry Hub to check out all® Fresh Clean Essentials and see what everyone else is talking about!

5 Homemade Mosquito Repellents

Mosquitoes suck, literally. And in case you’re a mosquito magneto, you probably are tired of having itchy, bumpy skin. You can be prone to bites due to a combination of light, heat, scent, and humidity. Different mosquito species — such as the ones which carry Malaria or Zika — prefer sweat and bacteria. Others get attracted to carbon dioxide and specific hand odors. Whichever species of mosquito you encounter, you can protect yourself without the use of a DEET-based mosquito repellent. Before you grab that DEET-based chemical repellent, consider using a natural option instead. This is because DEETs can cause health and environmental problems.

Heavy exposure to DEET is linked to headache, memory loss, muscle and joint pain, weakness, fatigue, tremors and shortness of breath in humans and is especially toxic to children. There’s no need to suffer long term and serious health consequences to keep pesky mosquitoes away. Choose a natural alternative that is proven to be as effective as DEET or in some instances, MORE effective than DEET. If you want to ward off the mosquitoes without relying on chemicals, the following are some more natural mosquito repellent options.

 Lemon Eucalyptus Oil 

Used since the 1940s, this is one of the more well known natural repellents. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has approved eucalyptus oil as an effective repellent for mosquitoes. It contains high levels of a compound known as citronellal, which gives it its lemony flavor and aroma that bugs find so unpleasant. A recent study revealed that a mixture of 32% lemon eucalyptus oil gave more than 95% protection against mosquitoes for up to 3 hours. You can create your own mixture using one-part lemon eucalyptus oil to 10-parts sunflower oil or witch hazel.


You probably know that lavender is a beautiful purple flowering plant with a calming, soothing scent. But, did you know that it’s a natural mosquito repellent as well? Crushed lavender flowers produce oil and fragrance that smells great. It is commonly used and effective to repel mosquitoes. Lavender also has antiseptic and analgesic qualities. This means that besides preventing mosquito bites, it soothes and calms the skin. You can grow it outside in your garden or flower bed, or indoors near a sunny window to keep the bugs away. Crush the flowers and apply the lavender oil to bite sensitive areas of the body, like your ankles and arms. On the other hand, drop some oil on a clean cloth and then rub it onto the skin.


Your feline friends will be glad to know that herb catnip is a great mosquito deterrent! Actually, in a 2010 study by Iowa State University, researchers discovered that the essential oil found in the catnip is up to 10-times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. Another study found that the oil can repel mosquitoes effectively for 2 to 3 hours. Catnip a very easy plant to grow, and if you’ve cats in the house, they’ll surely be happy to have it around. It can be used similarly to lemon eucalyptus oil; crushed and rubbed onto the skin.

Black pepper (Piper nigrum)

New research a scientific study shows that an extract (the research used an alcohol extract but the essential oil from black pepper would probably work too) of black pepper is highly effective in repelling mosquitoes.

Soybean Oil 

Research cited in The New-England Journal of Medicine has found that repellents from soybean oil are just as effective as mosquito repellents as DEET-containing repellents. Based on research by the University of Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, soybean based products can offer longer lasting protection from mosquitoes compared to citronella-based products, which is a more common ingredient in repellents for mosquitoes. Soy oil is cheap and easy to find, making it an excellent alternative. Plus, it’s an excellent body moisturizer. Besides soybean oil, you can also add a bit of lemongrass oil to your homemade mixture. This combination has been proved to guard against multiple mosquito species.

It's quite easy to make your own natural repellent. These natural products effectively repel mosquitoes, but they will require more frequent reapplication (no less than every 2 hours) and higher concentrations compared to DEET. Owing to the differences between species of mosquitoes, products which contain multiple repellents tend to be more highly effective than those containing only a single ingredient. As you can see, natural mosquito repellents tend to be volatile plant oils.

Do you have a chemical free solution for keeping the mosquitoes away? Feel free to sound off in the comment section below.

Until next time,

Things I'm Loving Lately: March 2016

Whew, it's been a a whirlwind of a year! If you follow me on Instagram, by now you likely know my family and I have relocated back the the Queen City. (Sorry Raleigh, it was fun, but Charlotte is home.) Last summer, amidst the craziness, I took a promotion at work that made it difficult for me to post as consistently as I had been when I first started blogging. So while I may not be a full-time blogger, I have no plans of leaving my space anytime soon. Just in case you were wondering.

It's been a long time since I've done a Things I'm Loving Lately post, so brace yourselves, I've been loving a lot of things lately!

Okay, so it's not so much a things as it is a feeling, but I've been lusting to wander somewhere lately. And if you saw my recent post, you know that place is Iceland.

The Color Run
We've already run it twice, but it's heading our way soon and I'm hoping we'll be in shape before it gets here. Granted I don't participate in 5k's to compete, but I still like to be fit enough that I can run without stopping or passing out. And after this past winter, it's going to take a month or so to get me anywhere close to being in shape for this run.

The A Team is officially back in the Queen City, and we're loving every minute of it. Granted, there are a few things about Cary that we'll miss, namely our proximity to Earthfare, the Kids Marble Museum and Full Steam Brewery, but we get Imaginon, 7th Street Market, the Discovery Place, White Water Center, Freedom Park, Carowinds, and the Old Mecklenburg Brewery, so it's not a bad trade.

Yes, I know several people have gotten sick from eating at Chipotle recently, but I'm fairly certain several million people have died from eating McDonalds and Burger King, so for now, I'll just continue to satiate my unhealthy obsession with chicken bowls and burritos from Chipotle.

Green Smoothies + Smoothie Bowls
They're back! If you've been a longtime follower, you know I have a bit of a slight obsession with smoothies and juice. Last summer I had a few health issues that ultimately led me down the "screw this, I'm going to do/ eat what I want" path. While it was fun, it probably wasn't the best thing health wise. These past few weeks I've had to examine, and reexamine my diet, and get myself back on track.

For clarification purposes, I do not diet. Ever. It's a trap. I've not met one person who has managed to successfully lose weight and keep it off doing the Atkins or whatever flavor of the week diet is popular. And don't even get me started on Shakeology or It Wraps. My weight loss regimen is as follows. Find something I enjoy that gets me active. Do it often. Stop eating so much junk. Eat greens like it's no bodies business. Incorporate tons of green smoothies and juice into my daily diet. Enjoy life. Nothing crazy.

Ripped Jeans
I rediscovered my love for ripped jeans back in December. I've pretty much been obsessed with them ever since.

The National White Water Center
Eons ago, well before Little J made her appearance, while Mr. A and I were still in the "will they, won't they" phase of our friendship, we journeyed up to Charlotte to visit The White Water Center. And had an insanely wonderful time. We always talked about going back, but then never did, so this year I've resolved will be the year of the White Water Center revival. If you live nearby Charlotte, it's one of the the best places to seek a bit of adventure within this gorgeous city. You can go white water rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, zip-lining, the list is endless and perfect for people who love adventure-- within reason. Like myself :) Needless to say, this year we're probably going to end up with an annual pass.

So that' what I'm loving in March! What have you been loving lately? Feel free to drop a link below!

Until next time,

Crispy Baked Veggie Wontons

simple and quick veggie wontons the whole family will love

At the end of 2015, I made a goal to myself to start cooking more. Mr. A and I had found ourselves in a restaurant rut. My 20 hour a week job has morphed into a 50 hour a week job, my blog still needs love, and Mr. A has two jobs. Needless to say, cooking has taken the back-burner. It's so much easier to pick up a takeout menu, or stop by Chipotle, than it is to cook a meal with a four year old wrapped around your leg and work and laundry piling up. So instead of cooking elaborate meals, I've rebooted my relationship with simple, easy to cook meals, like these Veggie Wontons.

3 months into the new year and Veggie Wontons are still one of my favorite recipes of the year, so far. They're incredibly simple to make, but they are impressive to look at (and eat) once you're done. Plus they look like you actually spent a bit of time working on them ::Spoiler Alert: they only take about 15 minutes::

Still, one of the best things about these Wontons is that you can fill it with whatever you want. For this recipe, chose to only use veggies, but if you're in a carnivorous mood, you can fill it with chicken, steak, even shrimp. The possibilities are endless.

Now let's get down to the reason you're here!


Wonton wrappers
Cream cheese
Finely chopped peppers
Finely chopped broccoli
Mozzarella cheese


Start by preheating your oven to 350"f.

Now grab your wonton wrappers and spread a little cream cheese in the middle of them. Add a pinch of each veggie and sprinkle a little cheese. You will want to make sure not to over do it. They won't stay closed.

Baked wontons cooked to crispy perfection with a few simple ingredients

Bring two corners in and then press the middle in. Gently place on your baking pan and fold up the top of the triangles edge.. For me this helps it hold.Then once you are done making them, place in oven for about 5-10 minutes, until the wontons are golden.

Try not to forget or your tips burn. Take out and let cool. Serve them up with a bowl of Pineapple Jasmine Fried Rice, or use them as appetizers with a side of ranch or salsa.

Easy to prepare and make veggie wontons that look and taste amazing

As always, if you enjoyed this recipe, please feel free to Retweet on Twitter to share with friends, or Re-pin on Pinterest to save for later!

Until next time!