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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Cards

Whoa it's been too long. I feel like Im a broken record, always saying that when I haven't posted in a while. The holidays creep up on ya, and then suddenly it's the new year and things/events start to all get jumbled together. You forget what day it is and can't remember if you've eaten lunch and then suddenly its going to be Christmas again...you pickin' up what I'm layin' down?! Sometimes time just get's the best of us and I'm okay with that. Sometimes I want time to slow down and then sometimes I wish it would speed up. It's like a vicious indecisive cycle. But in the meantime...since it's a day away from December...have you ordered your Christmas cards yet?!?!

I had Brooke Schultz take our family pictures, before it got super cold and while my kids could run around bare foot and happy. That is when I wanted someone to capture my family. We are all just happier when its warm and golden outside. I loved her and would recommend her to anyone...she is so talented and down to earth. A real gem. She got pictures of my girls that I will cherish forever and you really just can't put a price on that.

So, back to cards...I ordered mine a while ago because I wanted to get them out right after Thanksgiving (since we moved and all) because I wanted people to have my new address. Well I ordered mine from Tiny Prints and I was BEYOND excited to get them in the mail and BEYOND surprised at how beautiful of a job they did printing them. Right now they are having a huge cyber sale with 50% off (so if you haven't ordered yours; NOW would be a super good time to do it...I mean it isn't even December yet...you're way ahead of the game!)

Here are a few of my favorite's...I am totally diggin' the natural kind of rustic, warm pallette for the holidays. It's just classic.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

DIY: kids **no mess** painting craft

This was honestly one of my favorite crafts to do with my kids and ironically enough one of their favorites too! I loved it because it was cheap, easy and NO MESS! They loved it because they still got to use paint, and then watch as their artwork took shape and magically turned in to something unexpected and beautiful.

We have about fifty of these laying around and hanging up in our house...and I am totally okay with it.

WHAT YOU NEED:
-cd paper sleeves (I just ordered mine on amazon)
-paint colors (mine are from ikea...they are bright and there are a lot of different colors)
-glue stick

all you do is take your cd sleeve, squeeze whatever colors you want into them...glue the sleeve shut and let your kids move the paint around using their finger. They can watch the colors swirl and transform through the clear part. Lay flat and let dry.

***also...sometimes if they kids put TOO much paint it will get soggy on the back; which is why once they were finished I glued another piece of paper to the back. I think next time I might glue two cd sleeves together so that you can see the clear all the way through and then hang them on my window seal. Might be pretty nifty.



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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

MUDROOM (my DO's and DON'Ts)

So when we originally built our home we had no idea what we were in for... the time, the effort, the money the energy. I feel like you never will find someone who will say "oh yes, there is absolutely NOTHING I would change about my home" after they build. The reason is, is because once you're in your home and you actually are living in it, you realize that there was or wasn't a need for certain things.

So with that said, the mudroom was a big thing for me and I had a limited amount of space to work with so I needed to make the best of what I had. Here were a few things I knew I wanted:
1. closed lockers to hide all the "stuff"...I went with the philosophy out of sight out of mind
2. a bench to sit on to put on your shoes
3. three hooks inside (one for bag packs, one for a coat and one for misc. like an umbrella or purse, etc.)
4. open space below
5. four lockers (even number just sit better with me) ha.

now that I have lived here for almost six months...and we are approaching the winter season I am so glad I went with the closed door lockers. However, here are a few things I wish I would have done:
1. drawer for shoes (i know above I said I didn't want an open space but to have some sort enclosed space for shoes is better then nothing...)
2. an extra hook inside (you cant have enough hooks)
3. a larger sitting space
4. long skinny locker for long hanging jackets
5. A super durable flooring (like brick)
6. a drain for wet clothes and boots

So with all that said, I got baskets for the bottom for my shoes which has made ALL the difference with organization AND I put wallpaper in that room to make it kind of POP and add an element of fun because I mean if any room should be fun and playful it should be the mudroom, right?!

I decided to use WALLPOPS peel and stick nuwallpaper and I LOVE it. The best part is when I get sick of it I can just peel it right off! I can't believe what a difference a little element of wallpaper does for a small space like this! I'm kind of obsessed.

Here are a few before and afters...



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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Did someone say CAKE?!

You all know how I feel about cake...actually about any dessert that has a chocolate frosting is a favorite in my book and this cake was no exception to the rule. It was pretty delicious, not too sweet which is kind of nice when you're feeling like something on the "lighter" side. For some reason when it's hot outside, people tend to not want anything super rich, you know?! THis dessert was perfect because it was just the right amount of frosting vs. cake (good ratio). :-)

Anyways my sweet friend Courtney from Cake by Courtney sent me this book and I have about every page dog eared because I want to make EVERY.SINGLE.RECIPE!

So this was my first cake attempt using the Boston Cream Pie recipe out of Tessa Huff's Layered book; except I tweaked it just a tinge according to what I know my taste buds prefer (this usually results in doubling the frosting and adding more salt, I know, just the super healthy tweaks **enter guilty face**)

So here is the recipe with a few alterations (and seriously people, go buy this book...if anything else, you can make one cake a year for a special occasion and it would be worth it!) My Boston Cream Pie didn't turn out NEARLY as beautiful as hers, but I mean ya live and learn right?!

***all these pics were taken with my iphone while I was baking...not the best, but I wanted to show you a few steps...in case you weren't sure if what was happening was what SHOULD be happening...like for example, I've never made custard from scratch before, so I didn't know if I was doing it right (super clumpy at first) but then it gets smooth so just rest assured! 
^^^ The custard...first time using a REAL vanilla bean and oh my gosh...game changer! ^^^
 ^^^I took the cake to a little get together, to see one of my besties that was visiting from San Diego...gosh how I miss her. 
^^^ I need to figure out how to get rid of those powdered sugar clumps...but either way, 
it still tasted good^^^

BOSTON CREAM CAKE 
(Tessa calls it a pie, but I call it a cake...)
...also, the things in red is my twist to her recipe not bc I feel like I could make a better cake but just because I know what I like, and some changes were simply because I had to improvise.

VANILLA PASTRY CREAM:
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 large egg yolks (I used 4 b/c I ran out of eggs)
6 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS unsalted butter, diced (I used salted)

BUTTERMILK CAKE
nonstick cooking spray
3 cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (I used almost 1 tsp)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp. (I used salted)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (I didn't have any of this, so I just used pure vanilla extract)
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

SILKY CHOCOLATE ICING
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 TBS light corn syrup
1 cup chopped semi sweet chocolate 
1/8 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

vanilla pastry cream: 
1. in medium saucepan, heat vanilla bean pod and seeds and milk together over medium low heat. Bring slowly to simmer, while constantly stirring so it doesn't burn. Remove from heat and discard pod.
2. Meanwhile, whisk sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch in a bowl.
3. Temper the milk into the egg mixture, by adding little bits of the milk to the egg mixture. Put all back in saucepan and cook over low heat. Continually whisk until it's thick and starts to bubble...mine was a little chunky at first but the faster you stir the clumps disappear. Transfer to a bowl and lay plastic rap directly on top of it so it doesn't get a skin layer on top...(I didn't do this and regretted it). Then put in fridge at least 2 hours (I did it for about six) 

buttermilk cake:
1. preheat oven to 350. grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans and set aside. (I used 9 inch)
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. set aside.
3. beat butter for about 2-3 minutes (if you have a mixer, use the paddle attachment). Then add sugar, until butter is nice and fluffy. scrape down sides of bowl.
4. turn mixer on low and add vanilla, eggs and yolks, one at a time. stop mixer and scrape sides.
5. turn mixer on low and add flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the buttermilk (ending with flour). mix until well combined.
6. divide batter in half for each pan and bake for about 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack before removing from pan. 

assembling cake:
once pastry cream is cooled and thickened, whisk to loosen. You could transfer to a pastry bag but I attempted that and it kind of was a disaster...so I just used a cake knife. Once cakes cooled, level them (cut the tops evenly so so it all lays flat). Place the bottom layer on stand, then the pastry cream on top and then lay the second layer (top side down) on top of the pastry cream.

chocolate icing:
place cream, syrup, and chocolate in saucepan over low heat until milk starts to steam. Remove from heat and stir until chocolate is melted. Stir in vanilla and salt then whisk in the powdered sugar...frost the JUSt the top of the cake immediately. It'll drizzle down the sides and your mouth will start to water and thats when you know your job is done! :-)



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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rainbow Grilled Cheese

 Well hello there! I have been on a little blogging hiatus for the last few months...with the baby being born (I will post all about that soon!) and moving and everything in between I figured a break from posting would be a smart thing for my sanity's sake haha.

But we are back in action and I wanted to share this fun colorful grilled cheese recipe that my mother in law did with my kids when she was visiting! 

I loved watching them mix the colors, and make their sandwiches. They gobbled them right up. 

Ingredients:
bread of choice
butter
shredded mozzarella
food coloring

directions:
butter one side of each slice of bread. Divide your cheese into separate bowls depending on how many colors you want to use...and then dye each bowl of cheese a different color. Warm up your pan and lay once slice of bread butter side down and lay each cheese color in a line (to make a rainbow so to say)...then put the other bread slice on top, butter side up. Flip over once the bread starts browning.
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Thursday, March 31, 2016

I thought it was PUPPS

I debated on whether or not I should share this... simply because, well, it isn't pretty and it's just flat out unattractive and gross.

My first two pregnancies were, dare I say, easy.

You see, I never got morning sickness, didn't get stretch marks or varicose veins, I slept well, never felt sore or uncomfortable...I actually didn't feel much different then when I wasn't pregnant. I know, it isn't fair. I know, I hate myself even just typing this because there are those whose pregnancies are one of the hardest things they have ever gone through (my sister in law is one of those people and my gosh I would never wish that on anyone!)

HOWEVER, this third pregnancy of mine has been completely opposite of all those things. Sickness took a harsh toll the first trimester, those dreaded varicose veins made their debut in all the wrong places during the second trimester, sleepless nights and waddling from unwanted pressure has become an every day occurence, and the weight was packed on quickly which caused many-a-stretch marks.


Needless to say, this time around has made me realize so many things about myself. I've learned to sympathize with those who struggle with pregnancy. I have learned to put my trust in that higher power, knowing that things will get better. I have learned to rely on true, meaningful prayer when times get unbearable and there isn't anything else you can do but pray with all your heart and soul.

I know that sometimes those who have difficult pregnancies keep it to themselves because they don't want those who have never been pregnant, or who have a difficult time getting pregnant, to accuse them of being ungrateful. I think that is silly.

It's not being ungrateful, it's just for some people pregnancy is so very, very hard. If anything going through nine months of some amazingly difficult things has caused me to reflect on just how lucky I am, and just how fortunate I am to have a body that can do something so amazing as this.
^^^this was a pic I took at about 26 weeks...see, not pretty...not pretty at all^^^

With that said, I will spare you all the details but there is one thing I wanted to talk about and that is something called PUPPP also known as Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy; which is a chronic hives-like rash that strikes some women during pregnancy.

I started getting this itchy rash on my arms around 20 weeks and progressively got worse until it covered my entire stomach, chest and back. It gradually moved down to my legs and feet.  The itchiness was almost unbearable. Sleep was almost impossible and feeling comfortable while doing anything was non existent. I would itch all the time, and I'd wake up to find blood spots all over my sheets (TMI?!). Let's just say I was going slightly insane.


I sought help from many doctors. I tried about every over the counter anti-itching cream you can imagine. I researched day and night what to do and how to get rid of this crazy rash that was putting me into a state of desperation. 


Finally, at around week 32 I went to a dermatologist who told me that there is no such thing as PUPPP because there is no remedy for that and he said there is ALWAYS a remedy for everything! That was like music to my ears...I thought OH my gosh maybe there IS HOPE! He then prescribed me Clobetasol cream and it helped so much! The itching lessened and eventually it slowly started going away. It was like a miracle. I cannot even tell you how grateful I was to find relief. 


So for those who think they have this rash called "PUPPP" there IS HOPE and there IS light at the end of the tunnel and I hope and pray that maybe this post helps you! 


I also put together a list of things that helped the itching temporarily...
1. Peppermint oil (I would mix this with #2 and rub it all over to cool my skin and relieve the itching)
2. Gold Bond anti-itch lotion was the best I could find out of all the anti itching creams
3. Grandpas Tar soap worked great b/c it dried my skin out and eventhough it smelt like bacon I found it helped a bit with the constant itch
4. I would freeze these ice packs and have them ready during the night for temporary relief. Things that were cold would reduce the inflammation and itch. 
5. Benadryll was my favorite thing towards the end because it would knock me out at least for a little so I could sleep, and YES it is safe to take while pregnant!
6. Clobetasol cream was a life changer for me  which you can only get from a doctor
7. Downy free and gently detergent and softener. This was a HUGE factor in my detergent, deodorant, shampoo, soap, lotion, etc. Buy products that are free from all scent!After I did that I noticed the rash gradually go away. 
Lastly, know that it does eventually go away and try NOT to itch it like crazy because it was like adding fuel to the fire when I would just scratch! I know that doesn't help to hear when you're in the thick of it but I promise it does!  

So there you have it...all you ever wanted to know and didn't want to know about my itchy escapade! Hopefully it helps someone out there! xoxoxo
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter White Chocolate Popcorn

I know Easter has come and gone, but I needed to post this because everyone needs this in their life! It's simple, and delicious and I love the colors!

All you need is:
-popcorn kernels
-Ghirardelli white chocolate morsels
-1 TBS vegetable oil
-m&m's (in this case I got the Easter colored ones)
-a little salt to sprinkle at the end

directions: pop about six to seven cups of popcorn. set aside. melt your morsels over the stove on low and add vegetable oil to keep it from clumping. Stir consistently until it's all melted and then pour over your popcorn. Carefully toss it all together to make sure each one is coated with chocolate (because wouldn't that be a bummer to eat one that didn't have chocolate lol). Then add your m&m's (I used the whole bag) and lay on a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Before it hardens, make sure you sprinkle the top with a little sea salt to give it that "sweet and salty" thing that everyone loves...or is that just me?!

Once it's cooled and hardened, break it up and put it in a bowl for people to munch on. It was an Easter hit at my house!






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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Popcorn adds the perfect punch (or should I say crunch?!)

I know I throw the word love out there like it's nothin' but I do LOVE soup...just like I love a lot of things. But, then again this blog is all about things I love so it just makes sense that this little recipe should be shared (not sure you can call it a recipe but still)

For my second day of Poppin' fun, I like to use popcorn in place of croutons because they're easier to chew and they have a certain crunch that croutons just don't have.

I like to put it in my salads and my soups. Currently I am really loving (yes, yes, loving) the simply balanced soups that are straight from the container. The tomato one is delicious as well as this one which is the butternut squash (I just add a few spices to it like salt, pepper and a little garlic salt...sometimes I'll throw in a little sour cream if I'm feeling really crazy).



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Monday, March 21, 2016

Popcorn Popping

So, ironically, about nine months ago I started having this daily craving for popcorn. I blame the pregnancy. However, in reality I love popcorn whether Im pregnant or not.

But, since it was the first day of spring yesterday, and there are blossoms that are finally showing up on the trees (which always makes me think of that primary song my kids love to sing Popcorn Popping)...and since I literally feel like I am going to POP if this baby doesn't make her debut soon...it just seemed fitting to do a few posts of my favorite POPCORN recipes!

This very simple and quick go-to is when I'm craving something sweet and salty (I guess that is going to be like most of the posts because what's popcorn without a little sweetness?!)

PEANUT BUTTER POPCORN CRISPIES:
2 TBS. butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 bag 10 oz. mini marshmallows
1/4 tsp. salt
***melt over stove until smooth, take off heat and fold in:
8 cups of plain popcorn
1/2 cup semi sweet
***pour in 9x13 greased pan and let cool for about 15 minutes

So there ya have it. We like to just go at it with forks like ravenous cave people :-)
^^^ a little marshmallow mishap ^^^
^^^ my lil' baker in the making ^^^



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