Monday, November 30, 2015

stocking stuffer favorites

This year has been so much fun as our kids have learned to play together and we’ve watched their interests and imaginations soar. They are always so silly and laughing with one another it always cracks us up when they get on a case of the uncontrollable giggles! They love playing with our play kitchen and Kensi is constantly pretending she’s running a diner. She grabs a book of some sort and turns it into a menu so one of us can order food. I found this cute diner bell to add to her kitchen and she is going to have a cow! And I'm going to go insane listening to this thing ding all day long. 'Can I take your order please? *ding* Can I have a snack mama? *ding* would you like to play kitchen Finn? *ding*
 Aside from playing diner with kensi, Finn loves things with wheels, stacking blocks and music. Mike found these small speakers on Black Friday for each of their rooms so we can really turn up the volume for our dance parties that tend to take place frequently. 
It’s so much fun playing with our two crazies, they have the best imaginations so their stocking inspiration is based on their love for pretend play.

I just love the fun flamingo chopsticks this year. It’s great for introducing new cultures in the kitchen and easy for kiddos to grasp. Kensi loves eating with chopsticks whenever we grab sushi or takeout and I know she’s going to enjoy having these to choose from in the drawer. A little reminder, there are still a few Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals going on. Head on over to The Land of Nod to snatch up stocking stuffers while they all ship for a flat rate of $4.95. You may also be able to snag a few gifts marked down 20% as well. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

happy thanksgiving

We want to wish all our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are. We are so thankful for each of you and for keeping me inspired to write and share our delightfully chaotic life through recipes, projects, DIY's and craziness. Thank you. 

Happy Friday Eve and Happy Holidays! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

thanksgiving sweets, ginger-cider cheesecake

Anyone else get lots of food magazines? I have a select few I love and a few I got free from different products we’ve purchased. My favorite magazines are by far the seasonal holiday editions. I tend to buy a few random ones every year, in fact while I was still hanging out in the hospital with Finn last year, my mom brought me 4 or 5 different ones to help pass the time. 
A couple weeks ago I received the latest Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They featured a story on Kimberly Schlapman from a little country group called Little Big Town, you may have heard of her :) She shared some of her family recipes from her grandmother.....seriously guys those are the best ones to keep! We made her Maw Maw’s biscuits this weekend and they were nothing short of amazing. Another recipe I was dying to try (unfortunately not Kimberly’s) was the Ginger Cider Cheesecake.  After I read the ingredients to Mike {that’s what we do at night, read recipes to each other...that’s normal, right?} he said ‘we HAVE to make that for Thanksgiving!’ I completely agree with him, I would love to have this at Thanksgiving, but it is a new recipe so a backup pie in case this was a disaster needs to be ready to go!

I put everything together this morning and it was super simple! There is lots of ginger in this cheesecake, so if you’re not a fan just cut it back. There’s also a tart cranberry cider glaze that goes on top and it is beautiful. But I’m not sure if Kensi will dig it so it’s being left on the side and we can each drizzle our own on tomorrow. I did sneak a fork-full from the outside just so I could taste the ginger snap crust with the cheesecake and this baby did not disappoint! The gingersnap crust is the perfect pairing for the cheesecake. They compliment each other so well! I promise if you love ginger and cheesecake this will steal the spotlight on the dessert table!
I hope you enjoy, Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Ginger-Cider Cheesecake
Hands On Time: 45 min.
Total Time: 5 hr, 15 min.
30 Gingersnaps (7oz) plus more for topping
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter, melted (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. White Sugar
3 - 8oz packages Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Apple Cider
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped Candied Ginger
2 Tbsp. grated Fresh Ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For crust, place the 30 gingersnaps in a food processor; process until fine. Add melted butter and the 1 Tbsp. white sugar, process until combined. Press mixture into bottom and 1-1/2 inches up the side of a 9-inch springform pan; set aside.
For filing, in a large bowl beat cream cheese, the remaining 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar, and flour with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in cider until just combined. Stir in eggs, candied ginger, and fresh ginger. Pour into crust lined pan. Arrange additional gingersnaps over top. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until edges puff and center is nearly set.
Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Use a knife to loosen cheesecake from sides of pan. Cool 30 minutes more. Remove sides of pan. Col completely. Cover. Chill 3 to 4 hours before serving.
To serve, spoon Cranberry Glaze over cheesecake. Sprinkle with fresh sage leaves, if desired. Makes 12 servings.

Cranberry Glaze
In a small saucepan combine 1 cup apple cider, 1 cup fresh cranberries, and 1/4 cup white sugar. Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar, reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, 25 minutes or until syrupy, Cool and serve.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

thanksgiving menu

I'm so pumped for thanksgiving this week. This is the first year I actually feel I have a grip on it because I prepped everything. Starting Monday, I peeled and cut all the potatoes and let them sit in a bath of salted water in the fridge overnight. This morning I boiled them off and assembled everything. The ham and turkey have been thawed and the turkey is cozy in the fridge with a dry brine. All the veggies are chopped and ready to go for the other dishes. I'm such a procrastinator, this is just crazy!
The last two thanksgivings have been duds for us. I don't know what our deal was, maybe it was because we weren't with our AZ fam because we can usually rock it out when we celebrate Thanksgiving together, but everything was just blah. My attempt to fix it for this year started weeks ago and I scraped everything we've done in the past and trying all new recipes. It may sound a bit risky, but I'm confident in what I've chosen for our fam. Here's our menu for tomorrow, we kept it simple and classic.

| Potatoes | Cornbread Dressing | Rosemary Dinner Rolls | Ginger-Cider Cheesecake |

The herb butter is sooooo good. We’re following my sis and brother in law this year for their turkey recipe and they had the bright idea of using this butter for the turkey {rub it under the skin and all the nooks and crannies}. We first had this last Christmas when my brother in law made it and served in on top of steaks. Ridiculous! We’ve added it to mashed potatoes and green beans. It’s so divine it can literally go on anything.

Herb Butter
8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, 1 stick at room temperature
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs; parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and basil
1 Shallot, minced fine as dust
1-1/2 teaspoons Cracked Black Pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar

Place butter in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or whisk until light and creamy. Beat in the herbs, shallot, cracked pepper and vinegar. 
Place mixed butter onto plastic wrap and roll into a log. Place in refrigerator until firm. Slice and serve.

Once I was done prepping today, Mike came home early. The kiddos were so excited to see him and even more excited our weekend begins tomorrow with daddy. Before the sun went down we all spent some time outside. It was so chilly and called for hats and coats. Finn loves to take his hat off any chance he gets and Kensi loves to by his second mom and put it back on. Such a bunch of goof balls. Love them to pieces!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Eve here....eek! I'm so excited and so thankful!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

the sweetest holiday

I love making, baking and creating especially this time of the year. The sweet warm smell of cinnamon always sends me over and I can't help but indulge in sweets. I'm so excited this year because I love trying and sharing new recipes and projects so why not share them with all of our readers. Get ready for some yummy, scrumptious desserts coming each week from our cozy kitchen to yours, along with fun and easy projects to help make a great Christmas!
Earlier this week Kensi asked to make Christmas cookies, but since I didn't have the dough made yet we agreed to make a decadent chocolate brownie cake. Kensi thought it was pretty cool to make a brownie because she has a plush dog named Brownie. So during the entire time baking she was talking up a storm about how much Brownie was going to love his brownie. The mind of a three year old, I love it! 
So we decided to call this recipe Kensi's Brownie Cake. It's very simple and fool-proof to put together. It has a fudge like texture that's perfect when paired with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream. I really love that the recipe can fit anyone's chocolate preference. If you like it sweeter use a milk chocolate or if you love dark chocolate go for a chocolate that has a higher cocoa content. Personally, we are dark chocolate kind of people so semi sweet chocolate chips works great for our little fam! 

Kensi's Brownie Cake
 1/2 cup Unsalted Buttwr, room temperature 
1 cup White Sugar
2 large Eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/8 teaspoon Salt
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
5 oz Semisweet Chocolate Chips
Powdered Sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch cake pan with foil. Use a pastry brush and lightly butter the foil. 
In an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again until blended. Add the salt and 1/4 cup of flour, beat well. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in two batches, beating after each addition. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is combined. 
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler set over simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool just slightly. Add the chocolate Ito the batter and mix well pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing out the top. 
Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack. Once cooled remove cake from pan and dish with powdered sugar. Slice into wedges for serving. 

Wishing everyone a sweet Friday Eve!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

hello thirty

Yesterday I turned 30! I can hardly believe  I kissed my twenties adios last night, but I did it proudly. My dear little family has spoiled me all week long and made yesterday the cherry on top. We spent the morning hitting Dixie for breakfast and doing small little family fun things like riding the train at the mall, hit a few of my favorite local shops, grabbed some delicious sweets and devoured sushi for dinner. Not to mention some how between all that we took Finn to get another haircut and the girl BUTCHERED IT! She cut all her cute bangs straight off! And I mean straight across his forehead. Mike says he looks like Moe from The Three Stooges! SMH. It's so bad, I can only pray for a miracle to happen and make his hair quickly grow out somewhat for his birthday in a few weeks. Luckily, we got this cute pick before the butchering took place. Until then it's getting styled every day. 

Regardless of the awful hair cut, the Hubster surprised me with the sweetest video he made with all my family and close friends sending their birthday wishes from all across the country. Mike wanted me to listen to the video at dinner, but within ten seconds I could feel the tears building and knew there was no way I could control myself so I waited until we got into the car. It blew me away. I was shaking and bawling and laughing. I was so overwhelmed with how much love was being sent to me in that moment. Living away from so many incredible people is so hard to do each day and I often forget how deep that love really is, but last night I was reminded and I'm so thankful. 
So as many cling on to their twenties, I'm dancing into my thirties with so much love, happiness, laughter and hope for I know this decade is going to kick my twenties' ass! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Earlier this year I became super frustrated with my Pinterest boards just trying to fish through all the pins to find some of my favorite recipes. Honestly, a lot of the recipes on Pinterest I have found are either hit or miss and trying to remember if that one recipe was a winner or just flat out sucked was a pain in the neck because I always forgot to delete bad pins. I had the bright idea of creating a made board to put all my favorite tried recipes. It’s helped tremendously especially if the hubster goes to find one, he at least knows exactly where to go. So today I’m sharing a fun fall menu with only recipes from my made board.
I found the chicken skillet recipe awhile ago and finally made it, this is  one of the best chicken dishes we have ever tried, ever. The recipe calls for wine, I didn’t have it and substituted half beer half chicken stock and it was divine. The cauliflower garlic rice is just as amazing and could be a meal all on it’s own, but I love serving a starch with the chicken skillet and this mixes up the normal rice or mashed potatoes. Every meal needs some sort of veggie and we love anything green and roasted. Right now we’re all about roasted broccoli with olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. This recipe for green beans is delicious, but don’t fret about getting fresh’s not the season for them so head over to your freezer aisle and grab a bag. I like to keep a huge bag from Costco in our freezer and it works every time, my only suggestion is cooking them a little longer since they are going in frozen and don’t thaw them! You’ll have a soppy wet mushy mess!!!! 
Lastly, dessert. Fall screams anything and everything pumpkin, apple or cranberry so for this menu I had to share something that fit. I found this pumpkin cobbler recipe last year and it’s a twist on pumpkin pie. The custard filling is creamy and smooth while the crust brings just a little bit of a crunch. Top it off with a scoop of ice cream or fresh whipped cream and you’ll be heaven. 
Okay, confession time. I was so excited to make this pumpkin cobbler recipe I couldn't wait until dessert tonight so I made it for brunch. Which actually totally worked out because this is so yummy you can serve for breakfast, lunch, dinner or you know that 2 am late night snack. If you’re not a fan of pumpkin, but still want something sweet and easy, check out the Easy Apple Croissants ... another gem. 

Happy Wednesday and Enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2015

white is my new black

Over the weekend we filled Finn’s dresser and arranged his room. Mike so badly wants to take Finn’s dresser for our room so we’re now on the hunt for another dresser to flip. I was also able to paint Kensi’s room, something that I’ve been meaning to do since we began transitioning her room into her big girl room about a year and half ago. I don’t know why, but her room is so hard for me to design. I’m not sure if it’s all the little trinkets she likes to hold onto or the layout of her room, but it’s a struggle. 

Back to the paint part, the room was originally Sherwin Williams Functional Gray and I decided to paint her ceiling pink. Once the ceiling was painted if brought out the green in the gray so it had to go. I decided to go light and bright with white. Sherwin Williams Elder White. It definitely brightens up the room and it’s soft enough to still show the trim work. It has made a world of a difference and I’ll working my way into Finn’s room as well and then I’ll head into the master bedroom.  My arms are already sore from just one bedroom, I hate to think about how sore they’re going to be once I’m done. Yikes!

Friday, November 6, 2015

his first masterpiece

We’ve been cooped up in the house literally all week. One car is on the fritz and it’s been raining, so not being able to really drive or go outside has made us all a little crazy. Kensi and Finn have been playing non-stop which is great, but Kensi is really into pretending to fly on an airplane to visit grandmas and grandpas and then we have to go pick people up and fly to Disney World. But it doesn’t stop there, we also pretend we’re going on rides and swim and eat and meet the characters. She seriously has our trip planned down to every small detail once we go. But let me just give you the sprinkle to top off all this awesome pretend play....she insists on having a packed suitcase AND it has to go everywhere with us. The other night once Mike came home from work we ran a couple of errands and the suitcase had to come with US! Of course our dog Stella was flipping out because she thought we were leaving her and all that jazz. But she sure is cute pulling a suitcase behind her wherever we go.

Aside from all our pretend play this week, Finn is just in complete destroy mode. I mean there is a trail of where he has been and I can’t keep up with him. He just goes from one cabinet to a drawer to a basket to Stella’s food to who knows what! So to help calm everyone down for a bit we decided to paint. Finn has not yet experienced paint so we {Kensi and I} thought today would be a good day. And it went really well for about 15 seconds....then he ate the paint and flipped out because of the taste but continued to put his hands covered in more paint in his mouth. It was a 15 second success and a 2 minutes disaster. However, we did get his first little painting masterpiece which was a win for the day! Now I need a glass of wine, or two. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

paint, stain and hardware

It always takes us awhile to get projects done around our house for two reasons: 1) making up my mind and 2) budget. Finn's room still isn't finished mostly because we've been waiting on his dresser. The one we bought in January from a consignment store. If you don’t remember click on the link below the photo to see. The coloring had a lot of orange in it and the hardware was just bad. Once we got it in the garage and sanded/stripped everything away there was beautiful detail work in the drawers and top. It took a few trial runs to figure out exactly what we wanted to do with it once we stripped the whole thing down. We initially wanted to paint it and my parents who love antiques nearly died. Luckily for them, after I painted a couple of the big drawers I didn't like it and neither did Mike, so we went back to stripping. We figured out staining would be the best way to show it’s true beauty and found a beautiful special walnut color. Because we have a round sander it was difficult getting into the corners unless we did it by hand, but it actually left behind this really pretty worn look that we both fell in love with.
Then it was time for hardware. I wanted something modern, but our hardware was two different widths 2.5 and 4 inches. Did you know 4 inch hardware isn't carried in most stores? This threw another wrench into our project. We ended up finding a killer deal on some sleek and simple hardware that brought the whole dresser together. 
Once we hauled it upstairs I could finally put everything together! We still need to paint which will hopefully be a project for this weekend and then we can share his finished room!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

escape to neverland

If you follow us on Instagram I shared each of our costumes leading up to Halloween. These costumes were so much fun to make and we had a blast living in Neverland for the day! 
Our costumes were semi-homemade. As I mentioned in an earlier post Kensi's was the most complicated and took the most sewing. See how I made her mermaid costume here
Finn’s lost boy costume started with some cozy jams I found at Burt's Bees Baby. They have the softest jams for littles, no joke. I paired them with a vest I made from felt and added fringe trim and a feather along with an expensive hat. Using two types of faux fur I made two fox ears and hand-stitched them to the top of the hat; along with a tail that can’t be seen in this photo which I safety pinned to the back of his pants. A pair of moccasins and some makeup finished his look and although I'm biased....he really is the cutest lost boy that ever was.
For Mike's Peter Pan we did look for green tights but they were much harder to find than we originally thought and he was relieved nonetheless. I ended up finding his green dress shirt on clearance at Target and paired them with a pair of khakis (rolled up) and some brown shoes. I completed his outfit with a brown version of the Pan hat and added a feather. 

My costume was very simple as well. I found my dress on clearance at Francesca's Boutique and paired it with Minnetonka Fringe Boots. My sash is made from the same felt I used for Finn's vest and Mike's hat. My headpiece started as an elastic embellished headband. I removed the embellishments I didn’t want and swapped them for a few small flowers. I also added feathers to the back by layering them and some turquoise ribbon to hang down the sides. 
All the pieces we bought for our costumes were purchased with the intention of doing double duty. I hate buying something that will only be used once so we made sure I would wear my dress again along with Mike's shirt and Finn's jams. These costumes were so much fun to put together, I can hardly wait for next fact, Saturday night was I was laying in bed I was brainstorming themes. Mike knows I’m crazy, but that’s okay!

We spent Halloween morning trying to convince Kensi in eating as much healthy food as possible knowing the evening was going to be filled with lots of sweets. It was like two broken records going at our house with Kensi constantly asking if she could have a piece of candy and Mike and me saying no. So in order to get out of the house we opted to do a fun trick or treat at Whole Foods where they were handing out healthy food like popcorn and cheese sticks. This was actually a ton of fun and we'll definitely go back again next year!
This year we were really excited to throw our own small Halloween party with close friends. We required everyone to come in costume which made the night even more fun. I think my favorite was when our friend Jen came dressed as bacon! It was so cute and funny, we just loved it!
We kept everything very simple and made meatball sandwiches, mummy cheese pizzas on bagels and  had cupcakes and cookies for dessert. All of our friends brought either an appetizer or dessert to share and it was downright heavenly! 
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