Momma Told Me: January 2016

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Vegan Samoa Cookies- Vegan Girl Scout Copycat Recipe

Make these Girl Scout Cookie favorites- Vegan style! Vegan Samoa Cookies Recipe
Momma Told Me: That's the way the cookie crumbles.

Last week was a dreary one here in my part of Southern California. I feel bad for complaining, partly because it's in the 70s and sunny outside now and, because a great portion of my friends and family were covered in over a foot of snow. You see, I love the rain, but it's those grey days in between I can't tolerate. They make for terrible photography days for me, and I honestly feel motivated to do little more than crawl back in bed with a book and read the afternoon away.
Make these Girl Scout Cookie favorites- Vegan style! Vegan Samoa Cookies Recipe
I digress, so there I was on day 3 of grey afternoons when I decided to dabble once again with Vegan baking. The week before the Girl Scouts had turned up at our bowling league peddling their wares and the entire alley was flooded with people eating straight out of the box with no regard for New Year's Resolutions. Not that I judge- I so sorely wished I was one of them, but my self control weighed out. Every year I buy at least 1 of every Girl scout cookie variety under the premise it's for a 'good cause' all the while hoping there will simply be a donation box I can contribute to next year. As it turns out you CAN easily donate to your local girl scout chapter ONLINE- so this year, I have! You can also use the new Digital Cookie platform to order cookies online and have them delivered to a family member or charity organization by mail or in person from a Girl Scout themself!
So there I was, mulling over the fact I was so clearly Girl Scout Cookie-less, on a dreary weekday, inspired to make something vegan when it hit me- Vegan Samoa Cookies. Somoas are the perfect cookie to Vegan-ize with a shortbread base, plenty of coconut and a chocolate drizzle that easily translates to dairy free. In fact, this recipe only has 9 ingredients, and anyone with shortbread experience can master these in not time.
Of course, if you've never made shortbread before, you may want to avoid making your first time with a Vegan formula. Shortbread is notoriously temperamental for over-baking/blackening on the bottom, and requires a bit of patience when making cutouts. In this case you can add a little extra Earth Balance (vegan butter) but the Coconut Flour will still tend to want to fight you unless the dough is kept perfectly chilled. In my case it also didn't help that I didn't have a small circle cookie cutter the right size for the center punch out- so I spent extra time trying to pry dough from my 'O' Bento cutter every other cookie.
When I served these I kept getting asked how I made a Vegan caramel- with the wide variety of Vegan items originally based off animal byproducts I always have to chuckle when I'm asked how I made something Vegan. You can literally make anything in Vegan imitation form. This caramel is actually made almost identical to dairy based caramel, but with Vegan butter substitute and Coconut Cashew milk instead. The color and consistency is near perfection- the only difference is that it seems to harden more over time, and should never be served from the refrigerator.
Make these Girl Scout Cookie favorites- Vegan style! Vegan Samoa Cookies Recipe
So, feel free to grab the recipe below and give it a try- you certainly won't regret it. I served these to otherwise 'ordinary' non-Vegan consumers at the alley last week and had multiple requests for the recipe. Just note not to bake them on foil (use parchment or silicone liners) or you will likely crisp the shortbread. Imagine how impressed your family and friends will be when you tell them you made your own Girl Scout imitations, and they're entirely animal byproduct free! Now, tell me, what Girl Scout cookie would you love to try in Vegan form the most? I just might share a recipe!

What Daughter Says: Shortbread may be a frustrating cookie to work with, but these Vegan Samoa Cookies are completely worth it!


Make these Girl Scout Cookie favorites- Vegan style! Vegan Samoa Cookies Recipe
Vegan Samoa Cookies
***Click here for printable Vegan Samoa Cookies Recipe

D.I.Y Slow Feeder Pet Bowl + Raw Boost Mixers

This post is sponsored by Instinct® and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Instinct® Raw Boost® Mixers but our Blog only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Instinct is not responsible for the content of this article.
D.I.Y Slow Feeder solution for pets, Use nubbed chew toys as a feeder 'puzzle.'-  Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers feature protein rich RAW ingredients you can mix in to your pet's everyday food for an ancestral diet boost they crave and need. Pick up a sample pack in 1 of 4 delicious varieties at PetSmart today and #MixItUp. AD
Momma Told Me: Chew your food, please!

Nora turns 4 in just a few months (where does the time go?) and she still has as much enthusiasm and energy as she did when she was a puppy. Some might think I'm exaggerating, but she truly has more energy than any dog I've ever met, and shows no signs of slowing down. While we joke she's our little rocket dog, it seems everything she does has to be done at full speed- this includes eating. Most of my childhood dogs would remove their kibble piece by piece and eat it outside their bowl. I always considered this odd, then I met Nora- who inhales her food with such tenacity she sounds like a hog at feeding time stuffing her mouth with 4 or 5 pieces at once. If a piece happens to 'land' on the floor because her mouth is too small (heaven forbid) it is sucked up without a single chew and swallowed.
We've tried a lot of techniques to slow her eating down- Other than it being quite embarrassing having your child eat like a caveman in front of company, we're most concerned about the hazard of choking and the discomfort of improper digestion. Much like humans animals that speed eat often take in a lot more air when they eat which can lead to great tummy troubles. So, on a recent trip to PetSmart we went on a mission to help discourage these habits. As part of the continuing effort to improve her diet, in line with an ancestral inspired one, we picked up Nature's Variety® Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers. Raw Boost Mixers are raw protein based bites made from premium meats, added to your dog's everyday meal.
Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers feature protein rich RAW ingredients you can mix in to your pet's everyday food for an ancestral diet boost they crave and need. Pick up a sample pack in 1 of 4 delicious varieties at PetSmart today and #MixItUp. AD
Nature's Variety® Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers come in tempting varieties such as beef, chicken, turkey and lamb, with a special cat range featuring rabbit. You can pick up a trial size bag for just $1.99 at your local PetSmart- which so happened to be several servings for a small dog such as Nora. In addition to encouraging natural energy and health through raw protein packed natural ingredients, Nature's Variety® Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers also act as a special treat to dress up your pet's everyday meal.
Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers feature protein rich RAW ingredients you can mix in to your pet's everyday food for an ancestral diet boost they crave and need. Pick up a sample pack in 1 of 4 delicious varieties at PetSmart today and #MixItUp. AD
Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers feature protein rich RAW ingredients you can mix in to your pet's everyday food for an ancestral diet boost they crave and need. Pick up a sample pack in 1 of 4 delicious varieties at PetSmart today and #MixItUp. AD
These freeze dried bits of real protein not only offer a different texture among traditional kibble, but stand out as an elevated flavor. For us, this means Nora actually is spending more time eating her food- Sure, sometimes she's hunting for her Nature's Variety® Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers first, before finishing her meal- but it is actually slowing feeding time down. Any bit helps! She actually knows the sound of her Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers bag, and does a little spin in anticipation at meal time now!
Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers feature protein rich RAW ingredients you can mix in to your pet's everyday food for an ancestral diet boost they crave and need. Pick up a sample pack in 1 of 4 delicious varieties at PetSmart today and #MixItUp. AD
While we were at PetSmart we also invested in a little DIY slow feeding hack. First we invested in a brand new bowl almost 5 times the size of her traditional food bowl. We wanted something wide enough for her to fit her head in, and deep enough for 'kick up' in the feeding process. I also HAD to have this hot pink bow because, Pink. Next we stopped by the toy aisle, which is everyone's favorite. We got a little distracted by the Toys R' Us pet toy collection at PetSmart, but soon regrouped and found a few nubbed chew balls and a bone that would work perfectly for our feeding 'puzzle.'
Nature's Variety Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers feature protein rich RAW ingredients you can mix in to your pet's everyday food for an ancestral diet boost they crave and need. Pick up a sample pack in 1 of 4 delicious varieties at PetSmart today and #MixItUp. ADNature's Variety Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers feature protein rich RAW ingredients you can mix in to your pet's everyday food for an ancestral diet boost they crave and need. Pick up a sample pack in 1 of 4 delicious varieties at PetSmart today and #MixItUp. AD
The main idea is to give your dog as many obstacles to their food as possible to not only engage their mind and hunting instinct, but to slow down the 'inhaling' tendencies and prolong feeding time. There are several 'slow feeder' bowls on the market that are quite pricey, and not too cute. We've tried them and all of the small feeders don't work, while the larger ones are much too big. By using a deep, oversized, feeding bowl for Nora I could control the height and shapes of the feeding 'puzzle.' The chew toys are also easy to clean- they can be soaked in warm water with a little vinegar, or even tossed in the dishwasher with no soap.
I have to say Nora is still quite the rocket dog wherever she goes- she zips up our stairs faster and faster everyday- I think it's a game. Wearing this dog out takes multiple other dogs or several humans. This is one thing I hope to see for man many more years to come- which is why we feed an ancestral based diet to fuel her adventures and help support an active lifestyle. I do have one warning though, once you try Nature's Variety® Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers your pup will never let you go back! Do you have a pet or child who tends to eat too fast? How do you help encourage healthy digestion through slower eating?

What Daughter Says: Sometimes life is too delicious to remember to chew.






This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Nature's Variety. The opinions and text are all mine. Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

D.I.Y Robot Chocolate Box + Valentine's Gift Basket Idea #HSYMessageOfLove

The following D.I.Y Robot Chocolate Box and Valentine's Day Basket content has been sponsored by the Hershey Company. All photos contained below are copyright Momma Told Me Blog 2016.
Share Valentine's Day with the youngest members of your family- Make a Nerd Love gift basket for the tween in your life, or a DIY Robot Chocolate Box filled with Hershey's candy favorites. #HSYMessageOfLove #Sponsored
Momma Told Me: I love you.

As we grow up the holidays seem to become less and less glamorous. When we're young every holiday is a chance to be showered with gifts, consume delicious treats, and take a day (or entire break) to recreate and relax. When I became an adult so much of the holiday magic had gone away. I was now expected to buy my own gifts, plan my own parties, and spend my own money. I thought for sure I would never look towards a holiday with quite the same anticipation and excitement again. Then children came into my life and I grew up.
Spoiling nieces and nephews, and the littles at the daycare, is not the only thing about holidays which brings me renewed joy- but it's certainly one of them. It is amazing how children can give you a fresh perspective; how a child turns the attention and needs away from yourself to them- and you don't mind one bit. In fact, you actually kind of like it.
Watching my family grow, becoming an Aunt- growing my circle of friends who I call and consider my family as well, has been the final stage in embracing holidays as an adult. Sure, Valentine's Day, and even Mother's Day are 'corporate' holidays fueled by the sale of gifts and sweets- but it IS fun to have an excuse to celebrate those you love. And what is more important about a holiday like Valentine's Day than the people you celebrate it with? February 14th is much more than an excuse to grab a date night with the hubby, or a chance for star-crossed lovers to get engaged, it's a day to spread a little love to everyone who brightens your life- Especially kids.
This year I'll be making little baskets for all of the daycare kids (look for that coming in the next few weeks,) but today I wanted to share something special I made with my 13 year old niece, Sabrina, in mind. Gifting to tweens and teens can seem impossible. 13 is a tough age between wanting to be doted on and treated like a superstar, to complete rebellion and looking down on 'kid' things. We're lucky Sabrina still falls on the 'cool' side of 13- and that is extra fun for me! She's an energetic, self professed nerd, who loves kitschy things that express her own style. So I set out to make her a one of a kind Robot Chocolate Box and Nerd Love Gift Basket.
The first thing I did was gather some leftover crafting (plastic) test tubes, my favorite robot silicone candy mold, and a daily pill organizer from the dollar store. My test tubes were filled with delicious Hershey's candies like Good N' Plenty. I filled my robot candy mold with melted Hershey's Milk Chocolate pips (that's the official name for a square of chocolate!) And then I converted my colorful pill organizer to a cute periodic table inspired candy case that could even double as a fun (and delicious) study aid.
There were no shortage of delicious Hershey's Valentine's edition treats to fill my special Nerd Love basket with- I stuffed the bottom with Hershey's Milk Chocolate Hearts Filled with Caramel, Hershey's Kisses Hugs, Hershey's Assorted Miniatures and more. As sweet as kids are, I wanted to make sure I didn't fill my basket with nothing but sugar, so I added in some other nerdy delights such as Hexbug miniature robots, smelly markers, a Wind Up Robot craft kit, flavored lip balms and more. Then I moved on to the star of my gift basket- my Robot Chocolate Box.
Share Valentine's Day with the youngest members of your family- Make a Nerd Love gift basket for the tween in your life, or a DIY Robot Chocolate Box filled with Hershey's candy favorites. #HSYMessageOfLove #Sponsored
What's the best part about Valentine's Day sweets? The excitement of opening up a heart shaped chocolate box and exploring the assortment of treats inside! I wanted to bring the fun and excitement of a traditional box of chocolates to my Nerd Love theme in a fun layered container full of surprised and treats- so I re-purposed a few plastic organization containers with a lot of BLING. At the beginning of the new year organization products are on sale everywhere, especially the local craft store, where I bought my robot body (a bead organizer cube,) head (a desk supply organizer,) and feet for just under $7 total. While I was there I also spent about $12 on some glitter scrap booking sheets and sticker rhinestone sheets. Googly eyes, pipe cleaners, felt, and crafting glue I already had on hand at home.
Share Valentine's Day with the youngest members of your family- Make a Nerd Love gift basket for the tween in your life, or a DIY Robot Chocolate Box filled with Hershey's candy favorites. #HSYMessageOfLove #Sponsored
There's really no wrong way to make a Robot Chocolate Box- the more compartments to hide sweets and surprises in, the better- and the 'blinging' process was wonderfully therapeutic! For those who don't have the patience to hand set rhinestones, you can buy sheets of these sparklies very cheap in the scrap booking aisle, and there are even cloth like 'sparkle' crafting sheets you can wrap your containers with to add maximum sparkle with minimum effort.
Share Valentine's Day with the youngest members of your family- Make a Nerd Love gift basket for the tween in your life, or a DIY Robot Chocolate Box filled with Hershey's candy favorites. #HSYMessageOfLove #Sponsored
Once I'd decorated my robot, complete with a 1.45oz Solid Milk Chocolate Hershey's Kiss atop his head, it was time to fill him with magical things! His head, being the largest compartment/container, was filled with pink, purple, and blue Hershey's Kisses Conversation Candies- special Hershey's Kisses with fun messages printed on the bottom. His body was 3 layers of 6 compartments each, and I filled those with wind up toys and delicious Valentine's Hershey's candies such as Kit Kat candies, York Peppermint Patties, Reese's Hearts, Jolly Ranchers and more. I even filled his little feet with special Jolly Ranchers FaveReds flavors!
Share Valentine's Day with the youngest members of your family- Make a Nerd Love gift basket for the tween in your life, or a DIY Robot Chocolate Box filled with Hershey's candy favorites. #HSYMessageOfLove #Sponsored
I am in love with how my Valentine's Gift Basket and Robot Chocolate Box turned out and can't wait for them to pop up Valentine's Day morning- I know my robot creation will be a welcome guest on our breakfast nook for the coming months as his many treats are enjoyed in moderation. The basket- I'm sure it will disappear to Sabrina's room and never be seen again! I still have several Valentine's Day idea to share with you, so be sure to stay tuned for more fun and simple DIY projects and recipes to celebrate with your friends, family, and kiddos. For more information, including recipes, visit CelebrateWithHersheys.com. Now, tell me, who do you treat on Valentine's Day?

What Daughter Says: Share Valentine's Day with your kids and help spread the love this February 14th.


A bead organizer and a lot of bling makes for one adorable Valentine's Day gift box! Share Valentine's Day with the youngest members of your family- Make a Nerd Love gift basket for the tween in your life, or a DIY Robot Chocolate Box filled with Hershey's candy favorites. #HSYMessageOfLove #Sponsored

Where do all the Legos go? To the land of Pley, of course! Rent building blocks today!

We received a Pley service trial in hopes we would share our honest experiences here. Regardless, all opinions are genuine- all photos are copyright Momma Told Me Blog 2016.
Rent building block sets from popular brands like K'Nex and Lego for a low monthly fee and help reduce carbon emissions while saving money with Pley! AD
Momma Told Me: I'm not going to pay for something you're just going to lose.

From the very beginning we are driven to create- we stack blocks simply to knock them down, then we imagine our childhood bedroom is a dragon's lair, and the floor hot lava. Creativity is a basic instinct, but the ability to compose and create with the satisfaction of completion is priceless to a growing young mind. When I was a little girl, and even a tween, I'd spend hours in my room happily occupied with my building block sets. Coordination, problem solving, cognition, creativity, and sense of accomplishment are all fostered when a child begins snapping building blocks together. You can even count on the benefit of reading skills and teamwork if block sets and siblings/friends are involved.
Rent building block sets from popular brands like K'Nex and Lego for a low monthly fee and help reduce carbon emissions while saving money with Pley! AD
Every set of building blocks I owned growing up was second hand. Momma refused to invest money in something with such tiny pieces that would inevitably get lost after just one or two times of being built. I remember when Jurassic Park came out there was a raptor play set I asked for every day to no avail. Of course, by that Summer I had moved on to an entirely new obsession and my building block demands had changed. Let's face it, building block sets, such as Legos, are pricey and often only meant to supplement a larger collection of base Legos and characters. And most of the pieces are never assembled the same again, after initial use.
Rent building block sets from popular brands like K'Nex and Lego for a low monthly fee and help reduce carbon emissions while saving money with Pley! AD
So, when we heard about Pley, the block rental service, I was excited. Pley has over 300 unique building sets in their current catalog, and for one low monthly price you can rent them. Don't worry, the sets are sanitized before being sent back out! In fact, Pley is not only a budget friendly solution for the modern parent (the average parent saves $800 a year by renting building sets), but an Eco-friendly one too. Believe it or not, one single rental saves 10lbs of CO2 emissions or more, and the average account will rent 2-3 sets in a month! Plans start as low as $19.99/month when you commit to a 6 months membership, or $24.99 for a month to month membership.
Rent building block sets from popular brands like K'Nex and Lego for a low monthly fee and help reduce carbon emissions while saving money with Pley! AD
While, at this time, you an only have one toy/set out at a time, you can have multiple accounts with multiple email addresses to ensure every child in your home gets a set appropriate for their interests or skill level. The way Pley works is through a 2 step process- 1.) Fill your Pley List with up to 10 of your favorite sets from the Pley catalog, then 2.) Select the set you'd like to receive next from the available sets shown during your delivery window. I recommend an adult always helps with the online account end as we had a bit of confusion over this part of the process.

The Pley system, at this time, will always choose a set to send you based only our chosen difficulty level and interests. At first we were logging in, browsing our day's selections, and  choosing a replacement, then logging out. We planned on logging back in the next day and checking for any different selection availability, and figured the system would ship our selection from the day prior if we didn't make it on. As it turns out you must tell the Pley system to send your set at the time you choose it or you will receive whatever set the system had defaulted to before.
Rent building block sets from popular brands like K'Nex and Lego for a low monthly fee and help reduce carbon emissions while saving money with Pley! AD
That minor confusion aside the Pley rental service has worked beautifully for us. Our first shipment included a nice Pley 'dump box,' sticker poster, sticker, building brick bracelet band, and extremely cool 'block removal' tool. Following shipments arrived in plastic mailer bags. The blocks themselves are always presented with the instruction/assembly manual in a sturdy red mesh zipper bag with the set name, pieces, and theme printed on a sewn on tag. Should you ever discover a piece is lost upon arrival, or find you've misplaced a piece during play simply logon to your Pley portal and report it.
Rent building block sets from popular brands like K'Nex and Lego for a low monthly fee and help reduce carbon emissions while saving money with Pley! AD
Pley has a very large range of building sets for all ages from advanced K'Nex sets to simpler DUPLO sets and of course branded Lego sets such as LEGO movie and Star Wars. There are even mini figure sets you can rent to enhance the creativity and fun of your existing creations. While Pley is about building the set or creation rented, the sets are, for the most part, intended to be played with as an add on or enhancement to your child's existing collection.
Rent building block sets from popular brands like K'Nex and Lego for a low monthly fee and help reduce carbon emissions while saving money with Pley! AD
Once your child has conquered the last block, or grown bored with their rental, they can place all of the pieces back in the red mesh bag and seal it securely in the postage paid shipping bag. Toss it in any USPS postal box, or drop it off at the post office, and you will receive notice that Pley has been informed and your next rental is open within a day or so. The turnaround really is great, and I love that we can track both the return process and the next set. I do, however wonder what Pley does with the broken/missing a piece sets? We think it would be really cool to pay a little extra to get a surprise bundle of random blocks we could keep each month but it would also be neat if they donated them! You can learn more and sign up for Pley here! Have you ever rented toys before? Would you consider renting building sets for your kids?

What Daughter Says: Building blocks come and go- stop wasting money and start renting your building sets while reducing CO2 emissions with Pley.