Monday, October 29, 2012

FABULOUS FINDS: WEE GALLERY


Every time we read with Kensi we go through these black and white animal cards. She studies each picture and coos when we describe each one.
These art cards are meant to spark baby's interest with their lines, patterns and black and white color scheme. The cards are very sturdy and have rounded corners (perfect for babies & toddlers). We love that you can use them as flash cards or even frame them to create a mini art gallery for the little ones!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

CELEBRATING OUR LOVE STORY

Yesterday Mike and I celebrated 10 years since we started dating, for the third time :)
Let me fill you in a little bit...

We first met in grade school, yes...grade school! Mike and his family moved to our town when he was in 4th grade, I was in 3rd. It just so happened that he made friends with my best friend's older brother. We were together often because of our friends, but of course when you're 9 and 10 years old you didn't talk to one another especially when they were in different grades. So we went to school together through 8th grade, never really talking to each other. Our town has a high school, but when Mike was going into his freshman year he transferred to one of the private all boy schools in the city. The following year when I started my freshman year, I transferred to one of the private all girls schools in the city.
High school prom.

It was the spring of my freshman year when I ran into Mike at the movies. He says that when we saw each other he knew there was something, me on the hand, was in awe that a) he actually remembered me and b) was actually talking to me. He was one of those dreamy, cute guys in middle school with the bowl cut....yes I know you know what I'm talking about :)
We started talking on Instant Messenger (remember those days with the dial up internet? Classic right?) There we planned out our first 'group' date since I wasn't allowed to date by myself until I was 16.
We planned it all out. We would meet at the movies with our friends under the stars...(at the theatre there's a shooting star light thing in the concession area)...we were so corny!
Our date night finally came, we met, found a seat in the theatre and of course my heart was pounding. I still remember what we both wore on this date and how I was completely distracted with the fact that I was actually sitting next to this cute guy that so many of my grade school friends would daydream about. It wasn't until much later that I learned how nervous he was about that date. He pulled his 'move' on me...I STILL laugh at his move....he slowly moved his fingers one by one until he touched my hand to hold it. We shared our first kiss at the end of the movie when everyone had left the theatre. Although, I was very young, I had experienced that kind of love for the first time.
It would make everyone sigh "awww" if I were to tell all of you that we stayed together ever since that first date, but then it wouldn't have been interesting. We ended up breaking up....3 weeks later. That's young love for you!


On a hayrack ride at our local pumpkin patch in 2003.

We did date again over the next summer, broke up and then decided to date AGAIN the following October (third time's a charm, right?). I am so thankful for each breakup we had because we were both able to date other people and figure out what we did and didn't want.


Living it up at ISU.




The October that we got back together for the third time, I was a junior and Mike a senior. We have had many ups and downs. We dealt with a high schooler dating a college freshman, losing and making new friends, going to college together, going to college in different states, family loses, vacations, internships, friends with severe illnesses, marriage, moving away from everything we had ever known, being completely broke with eight cents in our checking account, starting completely over, and babies. It has been the ride of my life and I wouldn't change one second of it.



We're engaged!!! I love to have a Christmas themed puzzle out on the table during the season so everyone can work on it here and there. In 2006 Mike chose a gift for me to open on Christmas Eve. He had a puzzle made with some of our pictures over the years. When we were close to the end, Mike had hidden some of the pieces which I didn't know and I actually became upset thinking we got jipped! He then gave me the last few pieces which spelled out "Will You Marry Me?"



College graduation.


Finally married!


Seal Beach, CA


Starting new in Maryland (although this was taken in DC).

NYC with some of our bfs.


Watching the sunRISE while celebrating our two year anniversary at Dewey Beach.


Celebrating one of my best friend's wedding in Nebraska City.


Welcoming our new little family member.

I often refer to Mike as my answered prayer, I would pray every night with my mom to God asking Him to help me find a good husband and man did He deliver!
I love Mike so much it hurts sometimes. He's seen me at my best and my worst, he knows me inside and out. I am and will be forever grateful that God created Mike and sent him to me.
Happy Anniversary babe....I can't wait to see what the next ten bring!


Celebrating as a family of 3 at the pumpkin patch on 10.26.12

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PINTEREST INSPIRED

I spend some time each week searching through Pinterest and other sites and pinning some very neat ideas. Like most pinners out there, I've pinned everything from baby to food to decorating. 

Just last night I went a little crazy (with EXCITEMENT) over Christmas decor ideas! Now as much as I love fall, I LOVE CHRISTMAS EVEN MORE! This is by far my favorite time of the year. Notice I said Christmas, not necessarily winter :) I love the snow but only through the New Year and then I'm definitely ready for spring to come moving in.

My latest pins that I'm dying to cook, try and/or make are right here for you...

FALL THEMED...


So this isn't the picture that I want to show you, but this is a video of double duty pumpkins on the website. On Rachael Ray they carved out a pumpkin, screwed in a spout, filled it with beer (you could fill it up with cider or something else) and they turned it into a Pumpkin Keg! How GENIUS is this??? I may be able to convince the Hubster to try this out with me this weekend as we carve pumpkins and what not. LOVE it!


We are totally making this, this weekend!
1)We absolutely devour puppy chow every. time. we. make. it.
2)Who doesn't love Halloween themed recipes?

Pumpkin Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup

This is a tried and true recipe. Absolutely delicious...I was literally finishing the syrup off my plate and my husband's. The syrup is also great on baked apples and ice cream....can you tell I like it just a little bit?


AROUND THE HOUSE....

Dear Lillie

I''ve been following the inspiring blog of Dear Lillie for the last several weeks and they make and sell the most adorable oversized ruler growth chart I think I've ever seen....EVER. I am dying to put this up for Kensi. I love that it's a solid piece of art and can be moved from place to place. How many times have you been measured or you have measured your own kiddos on the wall and then when you have to move, you're torn because you can't take the wall with you!
Now I'm pretty good at making things myself and I may give it a whirl. However...if you're not super artsy-craftsy then visit their site....it will be well worth your time!


I've also been really into wreathes lately. I made the black tulle one that was on the Fall Decorating post, and I'm interested in making another one out of burlap. I came across this one on Pinterest and it's basically a copycat of the cream colored one that's sold at Target for $40. It seems pretty time consuming, but I think it would be a lot of fun to make, plus you can choose whatever color you want.
The link itself won't open for me, but at least the picture shows you each step. I attach each little spiral flower to a styrofoam ring with hot glue.


Entry Way Bench

I'm all about making furniture (that will hold up) at a fraction of the price of what I'd pay at an expensive store. I love this entry way bench to say the least. You could always make the legs longer and turn it into an entryway table too.


CHRISTMAS...
Ah yes, the most wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL time of the year!

Chalkboard Wrapping

This year, I'm forgetting the printed wrapping paper and going simple. Check out these adorable wrapping paper alternatives for Christmas and every other time you need to wrap a gift!



I have always loved the simplicity of decorating with red during Christmas and this living room is so beautiful. Small touches of red make this room so cozy and perfect for this special time of year.
Also, the "Merry Christmas" art above the fireplace is framed single letters and framed group letters to spell out the phrase.



Everyone is aware that chalkboards are everywhere and they're taking every playroom and kitchen by storm!
Chalkboards are very functional and can literally be made in any size. There are dozens of ways to use chalkboards in your home....an entire painted wall to one that's framed.


I could seriously list picture after picture that I've pinned. These are only a few of my favorites up to this point and I'm sure I'll continue to pin even more for Christmas.


Monday, October 22, 2012

SPOOKY CUTE @ 4 MONTHS



Age: 4 Months
Weight: 13 lbs 10 oz
Height: 25 inches long
Firsts: Giggling!!! 
Events: Applejack Festival
Travel: None
Foods: First taste of rice cereal on her 4 month birthday.
Favorite Toys: Sophie the Giraffe, Mimi
Favorite Thing to Do: Chew on her fingers and grabbing her toes.
Sitting Up: Trying SO hard to sit up, but keeps falling over.
Rolling Over: Yes, from back to tummy and now tummy to back.
Crawling: Nope
Walking: Nope
Smiling: Yes
Talking: Cooing and making lots of her own noises!
If talking, what words: No
Sleeping Through the Night: Not while she's going through her 4 month growth spurt!


While we were taking her 4 month picture we captured a few of the most adorable moments! 

She kept trying to sit up on her own and of course falling forward. Mike was constantly repositioning her and I just LOVE her face in this picture of her looking up at her daddy!


And then towards the end she got a case of the sneezes and we snapped a picture of her mid-sneeze....so stinkin' cute!




Friday, October 19, 2012

FALL DECORATING


I love decorating for fall and Halloween (I love decorating for Christmas even more, but we'll get to that later). This year is a little different because I don't get to decorate our own house; I am so blessed to be staying with my parents, but having to decorate so much more space has been a little challenging...especially when mixing decor styles. My mom and I are very different. I am looking forward to next year when we will hopefully have our own house and I can work in a whole display of black & white pumpkins, black crows and spider webs.


I told all of you on my Fall Favorites post that I bought three apothecary vases/jars from Michaels and filled them with candy. I was so excited to finally put our peanut M&M's and mix the peanuts into our Corn Candy the other day because we have so many peanut allergies in our fam, I had to wait until after we celebrated birthdays. I really like  love these jars and I have soooooo many ideas of what to do with them!



Framed Halloween word print. This was found on Pinterest. I think I have it saved under my Fall/Winter or Halloween board along with a few other prints.




I scored the star pumpkins at Marshalls and TJ Max for less than $20 each. They have a light bulb inside that make them absolutely adorable when the sun goes down.


 I made a burlap 'Happy Fall' banner entirely of fabric and since I had some burlap leftover, I cut it into strips and wrapped it around some mason jars to hold tea lights. Simple and very cute.


When in doubt, place mini pumpkins and candles anywhere and everywhere! They can be lined up, clustered or can even fill a vase. These are also great if you want to add a different color to your decor. You can spray paint them or use a spray glue and dust with glitter...super cute!

 


I made this tulle wreath and it was so much fun! I made some extra flower clips (red & purple) so I could swap out colors after halloween and shift to fall. (Here, it's hanging on our fridge so I could get the best picture, it's hanging on our door now).



 This year I was finally able to get some hay bales and fun pumpkins! Perfect for some family fall photos.
I think these pumpkins are by far my favorite decoration this year. We had a really bad drought here in the midwest which made the white and Cinderella pumpkins harder to grow and for that matter even harder to find this October. I did find these however at a local grocery store (Kroger brand) and I may or may not have received some very interesting looks from people as I was practically crawling through the pile of pumpkins trying to find the most interesting ones in the bunch.




As for other outdoor decorations, we live on an acreage and don't get any trick-or-treaters :( I actually still have never handed candy out and I can't wait for that Halloween to come! We have so many beautifully colored trees that we don't really need to add other decorations or it would take away from all the natural beauty, although it would be fun to have some spiders or bats hanging from the tree branches.
 
We will post about all of our Halloween events we plan on attending in the next week and you can see baby girl's super cute costumes!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

PUMPKIN HARVEST MUFFINS

My sister from Arizona always makes the best muffins and coffee cakes. She recently emailed me this Pumpkin muffin recipe that she got from the Jillian Michaels website and they are SOOOOOOOOO tasty---they're super moist because of the honey! My sister swaps out all purpose flour for whole wheat flour which she said makes it a little more grainy. She also adds in some wheat germ. 
Like all the recipes we make, we usually only use Penzy's spices because they have so much more flavor and this recipe is no exception. It's suppose to make 12 servings, but if you're anything like me...then it will only serve 4 because I eat so many of them! 




Pumpkin Harvest Muffins

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup honey
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin, packed solidly
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

Preparation
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter until light; beat in honey, egg & pumpkin. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing until just blended; stir in walnuts.
Spoon into 12 greased or paper-lined 2-1/2 inch muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 servings


**You could also throw some chocolates chips in with them, just toss your chocolate chips in a little bit of flour first then stir them into the batter with the walnuts. The flour will keep the chips from falling to the bottom of the muffins.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

FABULOUS FINDS: IKEA FRUIT & VEGGIE BASKETS



We found these adorable fruit and veggie baskets at IKEA when we were in Minnesota. They are so cute and very soft and a total steal for $7.99. As of now, these are some of Kensi's favorite toys. They are all made of 100% Polyester fabric and everything is machine washable, which is huge with a baby in the house. I can't tell you how many times she's spit up on her grapes :) 
These are great for those little baby hands as well, they're very easy to grab and pick up. Her favorite fruits from the basket at the moment are the grapes and watermelon. And from the veggie basket, it's got to be the lettuce and mushrooms. She usually has these toys out all day and often will fall asleep with them all spewed about on the floor. Just the other day she was using the watermelon as a pillow and had her arm safely snuggled inside the veggie basket!



Is it bad that I already have my eye on a wood kitchen for Kensi?? I am dying to go back to IKEA and  get their Breakfast set, Salmon set and Dessert set....although, those sets have some smaller pieces, I may have to wait until Little Miss is a little bigger, big enough to use the kitchen at least ;) 



Monday, October 8, 2012

SOUP'S ON!


If by any chance at all you needed yet another reason to love fall (and winter for that matter) is soup. Every year when we would come home for Christmas, my family would do a 'Soup Night'. Each family is to bring a pot of soup, preferably a different soup than someone else, label your bowl and dive in ladle after ladle. We absolutely love Soup Night because you have such a variety of soups to eat and it's so good and cozy!

This past Saturday we celebrated this quarter's family birthdays (yes we are now on a quarterly basis because there are so many of us.....9 kids + spouses and 30 grandkids), cheered on the Huskers as they played Ohio State and had a soup night. 

We usually make our Million Dollar Soup a.k.a. Lobster & Crab Bisque or Italian Wedding soup. However, on Saturday we were really missing Maryland and made Maryland Crab soup (more or less vegetable soup with crab and Old Bay seasonsing) and it brought us straight back to Beef 'N Buns 'N Paradise in Frederick, MD. 

Soup Nights are perfect for a little twist on a traditional pot-luck or even a small gathering of friends. 

Here's what else was on the menu from Saturday....

Maryland Crab 
Sweet Potato & Sausage
Chicken Tortilla
White Chicken Chili
Thai Mushroom

We also had lots of wine and cheese and antipasto platters with marinated artichokes, prosciutto, salami, mushrooms and olives (another one of my favs...although we were missing dolmades--stuffed grape leaves---huge weakness of mine).  I wish I would have taken a picture of the antipasto platter, it was so pretty....much more pretty than our pathetic looking cheese platter we threw together :)

Happy Souping!

MY MOM'S CHILI



1 lb. ground beef
1 15 oz can tomato sauce (Hunts)
1 15oz Hormel Chili w/out beans
1 15oz can dark red kidney beans w/ liquid
1 15oz can chili beans w/ sauce & liquid
½ cup chopped onion
1 -4oz can diced green chilies OR 1 can Rotel tomatoes w/ peppers
¼ diced celery (1 stalk)
1 16oz can Canned Tomatoes (petite diced)
1 ½ teaspoons Cumin
1½ Tablespoon Chili powdered
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 chopped jalapeƱo (optional)

Cook hamburger, drain off fat. Throw everything into CrockPot keep on low OR put everything in pot on stove and cook for 30-60 minutes.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

FALL FAVORITES

Almost everyone LOOOOOOOVES fall, right? I know we do and The Hubster told me since I never got around to making our Spring favorites (more or less for him) I should compile our favorite fall items for this year. So here we go...mama, papa & baby girl!



Neon Animal Print Scarf | Burlap | Apothecary Vases | Floral Lace Tights | Hunter Violet Boots | White Pumpkins

I recently purchased three apothecary vases from Michael's using 40% OFF coupons and right now they are filled with Halloween colored candy: Candy Corn (my fav!)
As for the burlap.....sooooo many crafting projects that it can be used for....banners, candle wraps & table runners...oh my!






Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins | Pint Tumbler | TwelveSouth BookBook | BOSS Wool Scarf | Wild Hog Pumpkin Ale

The BookBook is seriously awesome. My hubby absolutely LOVES it and has been complimented on it quite a bit. The one pictured above fits the iPhone 4/4S, however the new BookBook for the iPhone5 should be available next month.
P.S. This Pumpkin Ale is probably the best and I mean THE BEST pumpkin beer we have ever tried...EVER!





The adorable apple hat was purchased from Gap in the middle of summer and I don't think it's available any more (at least it's no longer offered online). Once I saw it, I had to have it for all the cozy fall activities we had planned.

Hoping everyone has a great weekend....we are planning a Spooky Friday Night Movie Night this week...EEEKKKK....CAN'T WAIT!!!!! Happy Friday Eve!!! 


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