Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Where the heck have I been?!

Oh my goodness...where have I been?!!  It has been crazy town here at my house for the past 2 years!  Can you believe I haven't posted in almost 2 years?  Yikes!

So to catch everyone the 2 years since I have written, my 6 month old is almost 2 1/2, my now 5 year old (almost 6) started Kindergarten last week, and we've renovated almost every aspect of our home to a livable condition!  So we've been extremely busy and though I haven't been blogging, I have done a lot of cooking, and cleaning up from cooking, and then cooking again.  Some days I feel like I'm in the kitchen 100% of the time until the girls go to bed, either cooking a meal or cleaning up a meal, and then immediately prepping to cook for the next one!

My post today will be brief, but I wanted to share with you something that I have recently discovered in the past 6-8 months.  Young Living Essential Oils!!  If you are familiar with them or currently use them, you already know how amazing they are!  My youngest daughter had severely irritated skin.  It was so bad she was scratching until she bled.  I had to find a solution and one that was better than the doctor's idea of steroid creams.  My daughter wasn't 2 yet and the thought of putting a steroid cream on her just didn't sit right with me. 

So I searched around Pinterest (it's like Google for crafty people, right?!) and found a DIY cream recipe of coconut oil and lavender essential oil.  I had no idea what that was, but was definitely interested since it was all natural and seemed like a good option for my little girl.  So I found some lavender oil, whipped it up, and BAM! her scratching stopped.  Literally...we had gone from weeks and weeks of scratching and bleeding, to not touching it ever again.  I couldn't believe it!  And I was sold!

A friend of mine told me about Young Living brand of oils...100% therapeutic grade, they own their own farms, and have the highest standards.  I signed up for the starter kit which has 12 oils, a diffuser, and connections to many oily support groups/information.

Since getting the starter kit, oils have changed. my. life.  Seriously.  I have never been so excited about something (especially something so natural, small, and simple) in my life!  The oils have helped us with mood swings (me), anxiety (my oldest daughter...thunderstorms.  *sigh*), rashes, allergies, upset tummies, burns, bug bites...I could go on and on.  We continue to see benefits daily from the use of our oils and I fall in love with them more every day!  Truly, God has given us the gift of these plants.  To help us heal, enjoy our lives, and to be thankful for his many blessings.  Even if you don't believe in God, I truly feel that these oils are a gift and should be used for our benefit!

If you are ever interested in signing up for a starter kit or getting more info, please feel free to contact me!  The starter kit comes with 12 oils and a's an incredible value!  PLUS you get membership/wholesale prices!!

Just click this link:

If you wish to purchase the premium starter kit through me, please enter:

Member ID: 1784661
Enroller ID: 1784661

I promise to get back to blogging about cooking!  Right after I clean up this mess from lunch....


Monday, December 17, 2012

Southern Living's Icebox Dinner Rolls

Forget the ham, who cares about the sweet potatoes, and, I'm sorry, but your failed attempt at a jello mold does not impress me.  But rolls...oh yeah.  I'm all about the bread during the holidays!! My cousin and I are in charge of rolls and a vegetable this year for Christmas dinner.  So, I decided to bring my Pan-roasted Corn and these wonderful rolls! 
Recently my mom has been giving me her magazines when she is finished reading them.  So I have been filling my time browsing through Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, and Southern Living magazines.  It's nice to get some new ideas and to have an easy read during naptime or right before I go to bed. 
I came across this recipe for Icebox Dinner Rolls in the Christmas edition of Southern Living.  The picture they had for the rolls made them look so buttery and delicious!  The dough actually has to sit in the fridge for 8-12 hours so it's a great make-ahead recipe.
The recipe calls for 6 Tbsp. of vegetable shortening.  If you have ever tried to measure it out, it can be pretty messy and a pain to have to clean up.  So I have this pretty neat tool that makes the job much easier.

Just slide the yellow portion down to the desired measurement and fill with the shortening.  Then you simply push the yellow plunger up and it pushes the shortening out.  Piece of cake!  That gets mixed with some hot water and sugar until it dissolves.

See how easy that is to fill?  Shortening also makes great hand cream if you can't find your Avon Deep Moisturizer or if you find yourself elbow deep in vegetable shortening.  I plead the fifth to both of those...
You then mix some yeast in some warm water until it's bubbly.

Put all of those ingredients together and add some salt and flour.
Mix until smooth.

Then cover and place in the fridge.  I had to show a picture of my funny bowl covers...they look like shower caps!! 
 Let it sit overnight or 8-24 hours. 
It's a good thing the dough didn't need my immediate attention...someone decided to be cranky (she's teething) and fall asleep on me right when I needed to get dinner started!  Babies always know when you are trying to be productive...

(Put your baby down before continuing on to the next steps...)
Take the dough out of the fridge, knead until smooth (about 1 minute), and divided into little balls. 
 Place 3 balls into greased muffin tins, as shown, and brush with some melted butter.  Cover and let rise for 30-45 minutes in a warm place.

Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 400 degree oven and brush with a little more melted butter (because why not?).

Delicious, right?  I know...because bread is the most important part of the meal!
My husband and I have family that live in Bethel, Connecticut and they know families that have been affected by the horrible events in Newtown.  I'm unsure of how to react or grieve to these unspeakable acts.  It's shocking and gut wrenching as a wife and mother.  I've linked up with The Better Half in support of Sandy Hook.   They're donating $1 for each person that links up with them.  Check out their link to find out how you can help support the victims in Newtown, CT.
Southern Living's Icebox Dinner Rolls
Makes: 1 1/2 dozen
1 cup boiling water
6 Tbsp. shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted and divided
1. Pour boiling water over shortening and next 2 ingredients in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, and stir until shortening melts and sugar and salt are completely dissolved.  Let stand 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine yeast and warm water in a 1-cup liquid measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
3. Add yeast mixture and egg to shortening mixture; beat at low speed until combined.  Gradually add flour, beating at low speed 2 to 3 minutes or until flour is blended and dough is soft and smooth.
4. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.
5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 1 minute).  Gently shape dough into 60 (1-inch) balls; place 3 dough balls in each cup of 2 lightly greased 12-cup muffin pans.  Brush rolls with half of melted butter.
6. Cover pans with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place, 30 to 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake rolls for 8 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Brush with remaining melted butter. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New home and family room makeover

So homeownership has been a kick in the fix-it pants in the 3 months we have lived in our new home!  We knew there would be plenty of work to be done, but little did we realize just how big or just how urgent they would be!

When we first moved into our first house in September, we were ready to tackle a few cosmetic challenges and were excited to finally be able to put our design stamp on the place we live instead of living with the choices of our landlords.  (Landlords affectionately known as: Baby Blue Franco and One-Coat Berard).  Our first fix-it project was to repair the pantry closet that for some reason had been removed and poorly replaced with a built-in.  The built-in was never completed and the pantry was just some random shelves hung on the unfinished side of the built-in.  I wish I had a picture, but will save that for when we actually rebuild the pantry. (Hopefully this winter!!) 

After being in the home for only 2 days there was a torrential downpour.  We noticed water in the basement and leaking under the patio door in the family room.  After consulting with numerous professionals we did a temporary fix for the water issue in the basement (driveway needs to be removed, lowered, and re-graded).  Needless to say, it's going to be an expensive fix that we can't afford to do at this immediate time but we plan to add a garage on in the future, so the issue will be taken care of then.  The water in the family room then took priority. 

We already had plans to remove the panelling (shed siding...*sigh*, yes, shed siding) that went around the perimeter of the room, repair the patio door, paint, and replace the carpet. It's amazing how everything happened because after Superstorm Sandy, we realized that we needed a new patio door to effectively repair the water leakage

Before with panelling, old carpet, and mantel:

Old patio door that leaked and corner cabinet that is now removed:
So we started working on the walls and found this:
If you have never seen termite damage, that's what it looks like.  Talk about taking the wind out of your sails.  Just when we thought we couldn't find anything else, we found that.  At least nothing was active and it was a relatively easy fix.  Just a bunch of drywall compound to cover and smooth it.  Only one small piece of drywall needed to be replaced from behind the original fireplace surround, but nothing unmanageable...thank goodness!!
So now that we had that taken care of, we could finally get to the fun part...painting!  Many of you, I'm sure, hate to paint.  But after all we had been through to get to that point, I was so happy to slather on a coat of paint!
And what a big change!!  We chose Martha Stewart's Sharkey Gray.  It's a nice neutral color with a hint of brown, so it really goes well with all of our current furniture and I can add any accent colors I would like!
We added a new mantel surround, a few Christmas decorations, and I couldn't be happier with the outcome!

What do you think?!  I can't wait to work on our next project...fixing the pantry (finally), and new flooring for the foyer and kitchen!
A BIG thanks to One Project Closer for their advice, encouragement, and nail gun!  The mantel surround would not have happened without you!  Love you guys!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Homemade Thin Mints!!

Okay, so these cookies combine three things that I love.  Chocolate, chocolate, and well, chocolate. When I first saw this recipe I thought, "Oh no.  Not another thing to dip into chocolate."  I am one of those people that sees a recipe that involves dipping something into chocolate, gets excited, tries it out, and then immediately regrets it.  First because it involves heating chocolate to an insanely high temperature, getting your fingers covered in the stuff, and then finding and cleaning up chocolate fingerprints the rest of the day.

While my fingers did get some-what chocolately, it wasn't until afterwards while I was munching on these delightful little treats.  I must say, this couldn't be simpler.  I mean, four ingredients...who doesn't love that?!

Do you like how I snuck the oranges into the background of the picture?  Thought it was a bit more visually pleasing.  Hope I didn't throw you off!  Anyway!!  Basically, this recipe makes about one full sleeve of Ritz Crackers.  Wait?  Did I say Ritz?  That is right my friends.  These are made with Ritz crackers and you DON'T EVEN KNOW IT!!  Unfortunately, one sleeve means these won't last long.  I would have made more but I ran out of chocolate chips.  Either way, I will be making more of these since my daughter thinks they are all to be saved for Santa.  If only she knew Santa likes to sneak cookies early...

Homemade Thin Mints
Ritz crackers
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 tsp. peppermint extract
Place all ingredients in a microwave-safe container and microwave on High until melted.
Stir until smooth, adding additional oil if necessary to thin out the mixture.
Place Ritz top side down into chocolate, slightly submerge, then flip over using a fork.
Carefully dunk the bottom side of the cracker into the chocolate then lift out using the fork.  Lightly shake the fork back and forth to remove excess chocolate. (If at any point the chocolate starts to thicken, simply re-heat in the microwave!)
Place on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet.  Once sheet is full, place in freezer to harden.  Store in an air-tight container in the freezer.

I'm linking up this week!  Check out these amazing blogs:


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm back with so many things to be thankful for this year...

So goodness gracious, it has been way too long since I have sat down and took the time to write about my cooking.  (I almost stopped that sentence at "sat down"...)  Life has been crazy, to say the least these past five months.  After the birth of my second daughter, Nora, I got wrapped up in caring for her, getting my 4 year old off to preschool, buying our first house, and moving.  I wouldn't wish that kind of stress on my worst enemy!!  Needless to say, Thanksgiving is this Thursday and I am thankful for so many things this past year.

Many of my friends have been posting daily something they are thankful for...I am not that dedicated, but would like to share a few of mine for the past year:

1. The healthy pregnancy, delivery, and birth of our second beautiful daughter, Nora.
2. A home, that may have many issues for us to tackle, but a comfortable one (that will get even more comfortable with new carpet next week!!) that provides a roof over our heads
3. A smart, energetic, funny, and sweet 4 year old who keeps me on my toes and is the best big sister Nora could have asked for and more!
4. A husband who has a good job and works hard on our new house even after a long day of work in the office.
5. My Lord and Savior, who has gotten me through and given me peace after 6 months or so of dealing with major life issues and post-partum struggles.  Without him, my life would be empty and meaningless.  He is my rock to lean on, my quiet place, my hope, and my salvation.

Now on to the food!!  I found this recipe about 2 years ago when my husband and I wandered into a Williams-Sonoma store.  If you have never been in a Williams-Sonoma, you will find great cooking tools, linens, gadgets, and gizmos!  I love that store, but feel they are a bit pricey.  But the day we walked in, they had a cooking lesson going on and were making these delicious Pecan Pumpkin Dessert Squares.  The catch?  You had to purchase and use their Pecan Pumpkin Butter that cost $18.  "Piffle!!", I said quietly to myself. (I hope.)  When I got home, I looked up pumpkin butter recipes online, found one that I liked, and whipped up my own recipe.  So technically this recipe is from Williams Sonoma, but I have adapted it so you can make it at home for a much better price!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and whether you been daily sharing what you are thankful for this month or just spending a little extra time this week, be sure to enjoy all of your blessings, big and small!

Pecan Pumpkin Dessert Squares

1 package yellow cake mix, divided
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 recipe pumpkin butter (recipe below)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
2 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. cinnamon

Make the pumpkin butter and set aside to cool:

Pumpkin Butter
1- 15oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan, stir well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 15-30 minutes until thick.

Preheat oven to 350.  Set aside 1 cup of cake mix for later use.

Combine remaining cake mix, melted butter, and one egg.  Mix well and press mixture into the bottom of a 9 X 13" pan.

In another bowl, combine the pumpkin butter, chopped pecans, two eggs, and milk.  Mix well and evenly pour mixture over cake layer in pan.

Stir the remaining 1 cup of cake mix, flour, sugar, softened butter, and cinnamon together until crumbly.  Sprinkle over the top of the pumpkin layer in pan.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool slightly before cutting to serve.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Welcome Nora!

So lately I haven't been worrying too much about meals and blogging...and this is why:

Isn't she adorable?  She's our wonderful new addition to our family!

Nora Ruth
Born: June 7th
6 lbs 13 oz
19 1/4"

We just love her to bits!

And so does her big sister :)


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pan-Roasted Corn

I recently came across this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, My Blessed Life, and it has seriously changed the way I look at corn!  I've always loved the occasional corn on the cob slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt during the summertime, but didn't really do much else with plain frozen corn besides nuke it in the microwave.  This recipe has changed all that!

By the way, can you see our awesome new kitchen table in the background?  I just love the rich brown color and I ordered some chairs today, appropriately colored "Buttercream" to go with it!  I can't wait to share our building story (yes, my husband built the table)!!

Anyway, back to the corn!  This recipe adds some richness, depth, and a little heat to those juicy little kernels and makes an absolute melt-in-your mouth side dish!

Pan-Roasted Corn

2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups corn, fresh or frozen
pinch to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large saute pan or cast iron skillet and add butter.  Once the butter melts, add onion.  Cook until softened and add garlic.  Cook 1-2 minutes, then add corn.  Stirring occasionally, allow corn to cook until pan is "dry" and the corn kernels start to brown.  Remove from heat, adding cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.  Stir and serve!

One more picture because it's just that good!!

Sometimes I party with these amazing people:


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