Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Over the weekend I decided I needed a little crafting day, I invited my girlfriends over to work on a DIY Pinterest inspired project. All of us decided to create a little something for our front doors and we all did something different.With only costing around $30 or less for supplies all of our front doors look more loved than they did before.
You can easily create these fun and pretty door decors for your home too with the help of a hot glue gun and little paint.
White Hydrangea {I used two to make it fuller}

Fabric Flower {S already had from before}
Ribbon to hang

White Hydrangea {used four}

We purchased everything at Hobby Lobby and most of our items were 30%-50% off the listed price, so be sure to catch sales and use a store coupon!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014


An art easel completely makes a playroom. A great addition for kidlits to paint and draw; in my opinion it gives the room an ambiance of creativity. I love the unfinished wood easel from IKEA, especially for $15. You just can't beat that!

We did a little extra work to make the easel super functional. The chalkboard side is pretty cheap. We wanted it to be magnetic in order to add a magnet to hold the paper down, so we painted over the chalkboard with magnetic paint and then painted on top of that layer with chalkboard paint. Not only will it do double duty, but it's also better quality. 
I want our playroom to feel cozy, so I used the same stain I’m using on the play table, Rustoleum's Dark Walnut. I am seriously in love with this color. Once everything was stained I lined the shelf with scrapbook paper until my vinyl comes. You can ModPodge on top of scrapbook paper or you can line it with a fun peel away vinyl from Spoonflower or Target. The perk of using vinyl is once it gets dirty and gross it can just be peeled out and replaced. 
Another project complete! Next thing on the list.....finishing the play table & painting the walls!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


When I'm bored and actually in the mood to cook, I like messing with recipes. Yesterday I found a crockpot recipe for artichoke dip which I love Love LOVE, but it's usually sooooo unhealthy! The original recipe is made with all mayonnaise & cream cheese. It may taste good, I seriously can't handle how much fat is in there. 
I tweaked a full fat recipe and mixed it up with some healthier choices from our fridge. Sometimes when I mess with recipes it turns into an epic FAIL----and that can leave me feeling completely uninspired from creating anything in the kitchen for a few days, luckily this was an epic WIN! {if it wasn't, would I really post a bad recipe?}  :)
If you’re like me and eat a lot of artichokes, buy them from Costco. They are a ridiculous steal and now they carry them marinated in oil or in water. 

makes about 2 cups or serves 8
1 can Artichokes, drained & rinsed & chopped
1/4- 1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/4-1/2 cup Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup White Onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
3/4 cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 tablespoon Real Mayonnaise {don't use Miracle Whip!}
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregeno
1/2 teaspoon Dried Basil
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
Black Pepper to taste 

Toss everything into a small crockpot and mix together. Cook for 1.5 hours on low. Stir after 1 hour. Serve warm with whole grain pita chips or crackers. 

Happy Dipping!


Thursday, March 20, 2014


Like most of the country we too have fluctuated in high and low temperatures each week. When it is nice and warm we make sure to get lots of vitamin D. Kensi and I are home most days just the two of us and our neighbors. We love packing picnics to share on our front stoop. PB&J's have never tasted better than with a toddler. Kensi loves jelly, lots of jelly. 
Another favorite of ours...fruit and veggie skewers. Nothing is easier to get a toddler to eat her healthy foods. 
After we picnic and chat, we put our drawing skills to the test with sidewalk chalk and water painting on the driveway. 

I just love her 'smile' face! 
After burning some energy outside, she usually crashes out in one of three places: her bed, the couch or her baby bouncer. Yep she still likes to bounce in it!
This weekend we plan on getting our hands dirty with planting and gardening. We are also so excited for even warmer weather and for our pool to open up in late April! Kensi will most likely turn into a total water baby. 

Happy Spring! May the warm sunshine fall upon each and every one of you!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Sorry, but today there is no picture to go with this recipe. This was so last minute as it was a very late dinner for Mike and I. We baked some of Trader Joe’s Chicken Enchiladas {which were pretty good}, and some rice. In order to spice our rice up a little bit I added a few spices and some pickled jalapeño.  It tasted just like the Mexican rice you would typically buy in a packet from the store, except here we are skipping all the gross unnecessary additives. 

Serves 2
1/2 cup White Rice
1 cup Water
Zest & Juice of one Lime
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
3/4 teaspoon Chili Powder
3-4 Pickled Jalapeños, chopped

Toss everything into a pot, bring to a boil. Once it boils, cover with a lid and turn the heat down to low or warm. The rice should only take about 15 minutes. Serve with warm and top with additional lime juice and cilantro. 


Friday, March 14, 2014


I love trying new pancake recipes, especially with Kensi. Yesterday we made mini pancakes using a small cookie scoop. Kensi didn't even wait for the pancakes to hit the table, she sat on the counter and didn't just dig in, she dipped in.....whipped cream that is. 

Cinnamon- Almond Pancakes
3/4 cup Milk
2 tablespoons White Vinegar
1 cup Flour
2 tablespoons White Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
1 Egg
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
Cooking Spray

Mix milk and vinegar in a small glass or bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, allowing it to sour. If you have Buttermilk you can use that instead and skip this step. 
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon in a mixing bowl. 
Add egg and melted butter into sour milk mixture, along with the vanilla and almond extract; whisk to combine.
Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients, mix until lumps are gone. 
To make mini pancakes use a small cookie scoop. Serve with whipped cream and fresh fruit. 
Makes 4 servings. 

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014


The Hubster and I decided to do the Dave Ramsey challenge about a month ago. I just started reading his Total Money Makeover this week and I’m in awe. Together we always thought ‘yeah, we have debt, but who doesn’t?” Our biggest debt chunk is our student loans, we put a lot of money towards them each and every month. So in order to try and get rid of them faster we put ourselves on a very strict budget. In order to cut costs down on some of our household items I decided to try making my own dishwasher pods, after all I ran out and to be honest I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to make a trip to the store. I am all about using more natural ingredients and I saw this as an opportunity to change out one more harsh cleaner for a greener one.
I read through a few different recipes, one actually adds vinegar to the mixture. I didn’t initally use this one because I thought it’s totally going to foam and be a huge mess! But it has rave reviews, so I tried it in my second batch to determine which one works better. The first batch I made cleans my dishes okay, but the pods took forever to dry out and they kept crumbling apart on me. So today I’m sharing with you what I think is the best recipe between the two....and you know what, it’s the one mixed with vinegar.

Dishwasher Pods 
Recipe courtesy from Family Sponge
2 cups Borax
2 cups Baking/Washing Soda
1/2 cup Kosher Salt
3/4 cup Vinegar
6 drops of Lavender oil
Mix all ingredients into a large bowl. If the mixture doesn’t clump together easily then it’s too dry and you need to add a little more vinegar. Don’t worry, the vinegar will foam, but once you start mixing everything is fine :)
Press the mixture into your ice cube trays and let them sit in a sunny spot for 24 hours.
When you’re ready to use the pods, add one pod to your soap compartment and add two small drops of liquid soap that you would use to rinse your dishes. Don’t add any more than a couple small drops because your dishwasher will overflow with bubbles.

There are a few different reasons why I really like this recipe.
1) Borax helps soften hard water
2) Vinegar helps remove any water stains and cloudiness
3) Lavender adds a wonderful scent
4) The best part about making your own dishwasher detergent is the price per pod. For a little comparison I broke down the price for Cascade and Finish pods {give or take a few cents based on sales}
Cascade.....$0.22 per pod
Finish.....$0.25 per pod
Homemade pods using the recipe above.....$0.03 per pod

WOW....I think I can manage making my own pods from here on out.


Saturday, March 8, 2014


I have been obsessed with all the creative IKEA Hacks online, some things I would have never thought about doing. We took a day trip to Charlotte a few months ago  just to do some IKEA shopping for our playroom. One of our priorities was to purchase a step stool. 
We bought their unfinished BEKVÄM Step Stool. I love how they offer unfinished projects, pure genius for a DIY-ER to make it completely their own. 
I started by using Rustoleum's Weathered Gray stain. Between the coats I applied, I sanded the wood down to ensure a super smooth surface. 
Kensi even helped put the stool together before we finished our last coat of stain. She's already a little DIY girl and I love it! With the final coat of stain and a full day of drying, I began to paint. I chose a metallic nickel to keep it neutral and so it can match her bathroom. I debated adding a light pink into my stripe, I still may do it, but it will be later.

I am very pleased how it turned out. Kensi loves using it to wash her hands play in the water. 
This project was fun and simple, a cute way to add color and a little character in your home. 


Thursday, March 6, 2014


Trish and I are constantly swapping recipes. She has three boys, well four including her Hubster, to feed and it's not always easy to get everyone's approval for a recipe. But one they all love is Trish's pasta alfredo. This is lower cal dish uses milk and half & half instead of heavy cream. Don't worry though, the sauce is still creamy and feels indulgent without the extra calories and fat. Try it, we know you'll love it. 

Creamy Alfredo Sauce
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
1 cup Milk 
1 cup Half & Half 
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
A pinch of Nutmeg {we like to grate fresh}
One package of Cheese Tortellini or Pasta of your choice
3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

In a sauce pan, combine butter, milk, half & half, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 4 minutes. 
Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta and Parmesan cheese in a serving bowl. 
Makes 6 servings. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


My favorite part of spring is lent. I really enjoy the 40 day season of Easter and the meaning of new life and beginnings. Growing up we always had to give something up for lent, it was always such a challenge. Giving something up that you loved or a bad habit. I remember giving up pop, candy you know the things kids loved. Yes, like many kids I even tried to give up homework...why wasn’t that allowed??? One year I gave up my worst habit...cracking my knuckles. That was a huge blessing because it actually worked! I also love the modernized tradition of a fish fry, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg and building an Easter basket. Last year I created a baby basket guide and this year we’re conquering one for toddlers. 
Many of the ideas I posted last year can definitely be carried over year after year, but here are some of my favorite products for a little basket.

J.CREW NECKLACE - Kensi is all about dressing up. She loves everything from wearing my jewelry and heels to hats and sunglasses. I love finding fun & pretty accessories for her, she just lights up!
TWIGCREATIVE - I first came across this Etsy shop while reading the Oh Joy! Blog. Fun, simple and imaginative toys are what we are all about.
FLOWER SEED BOMBS - Easter is late this year and running very close to May Day. Instead of doing a full Easter basket and a May Day basket, I’m combining the two with fun springtime items. We love to garden and plan to have Kensi help planting this year and Seed Bombs are such a fun way to get littles excited. You can purchase some from Etsy or you can make your own....Swing by in the next couple weeks and we’ll have our easy DIY version for you!
FRESHLY PICKED MOCCASINS - I bought our first pair last year around this time and absolutely loved them! On days when I’m desperate for shoes, Kensi can still fit her feet inside but not for much longer. I’m head over heels in love with all their color and fabric options....they have something for everybody.
BURT’S BEES DRESS - Not many people realize Burt’s Bees carries a clothing line for kids. Sometimes you can find a few items at Target or Whole Foods but if you really want a good selection just visit their website here. You won’t be disappointed with their clothes and your babies will love how soft they are.
ISH by PETER H. REYNOLDS - Reynolds has several great books on the shelf, mostly about being yourself, learning it’s okay not being perfect and understanding the many forms of art. He includes beautiful illustrations too. A great author to fill your bookshelves and playrooms. 

GARDEN GLOVES & TOOL SET - This is a great set to get the littles excited about helping outside and becoming familiar with gardening. They will have a blast digging, scraping and scooping dirt!
CHICKEN CLICKER - A fun festive toy for spring. Although like The Land of Nod says, the chicken clucks not clicks, littles will still have fun clicking the chicken on Easter day.
J.CREW SUNGLASSES - A great accessory to gear up for days of sunshine and heat. Boys will love wearing sunglasses just as much as girls. 
HAVE YOU SEEN BY DRAGON? by STEVE LIGHT - I adore the illustrations in this book beyond words. It is a perfect book for boys {and girls}. They’ll have so much fun finding the dragon in each picture as he travels through the city.
HUNTER RAIN BOOTS - I cannot wait to purchase a pair for Kensi, we wear our boots all year round and love to pair them with everything under the clouds and even the sun. 

Thank you to our readers for pinning our Easter basket ideas from last year, you’ve made it one of our most popular posts! 

Check out our other Easter baskets!

We wish you a Happy Lenten Season and hope you find time to explore the meaning of Easter and can find your new beginning in the season of spring!


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