Freshening Up — Office Nook Redo

Happy New Year! Welcome to the month of purging and organizing. I mean, you almost can’t avoid it as all of the stores have the  containers to make this easy for you on sale. In your face. So it just feels like you are ‘supposed’ to do it. Plus after months of shopping, cooking, decorating etc it just feels like the thing to do. That and working out but seriously. lets stay on task. I’m much better at organizing and purging my home them I am my diet and workout routines.

We have a little built in space that is honestly not used a whole lot. I tend to do all of my blogging and crafting in the kitchen cause I like to be where the action is. The office nook is at the top of our stairs and I feel a bit confined but it was built into our builder grade home so I like to utilize it the best I can. It currently houses kids craft stuff and all of our files are there as well. I added a few pretty yet functional boxes to dress up the space and hold craft supplies in a much prettier way. I also have a giant chalkboard for little bits of inspiration. Instead of standard pencil holders I bought some fun glass containers. By clicking on the photos below, you can see a larger version. For some reason I can’t get them to view bigger directly in this post without making them look like a stretched out pair of socks. Sad but true.

beforeandafterSources:

Chalkboard Boxes // Kirklands
Black Floral and Blue Fabric & Canvas Boxes // HomeGoods
Hobnail Jars {holding pencils} // Joann’s
Chalkboard Jars {large} // HomeGoods
Chalkboard Jars {small} // Kirklands
Chalkboard // My own creation
Metal Basket // HomeGoods
Chair // My own, covered in Fabric from Joann’s
Inspire Letters // Joann’s and Hobby Lobby, painted by me.
Curtain // Created by me using part of an old Ikea curtain
Printable // Someone is Happy  … at Somewhat Simple
Bulletin Board Frame // Marshalls
Instagram Prints // Social Prints Studio

Here are a few detailed photos of the finished project:

nookI hope you enjoy the space and are inspired to create your own bit of pretty within your own home.

New Year — New Goals

I prefer to call them goals and not resolutions. Resolutions seems so predictable and are often {OK, almost always} broken. I’m also trying to come up with my word of the year. I was torn between two but starting this post gave me the clarity that I needed to settle on one. The two I love  are ‘breathe’ and ‘focus’. I love them both but I have chosen breathe as my 2014 word. I might have to repeat it to myself a million times but hopefully I can get it to stick.  Both apply to my main goal of being more present and less stressed. If I can remind myself to just breathe in stressful situations then the focus comes. Or so I have been reminded by some of my super smart Facebook friends ;)

I’m playing over at Pinterest {and this is where focus or the lack of comes into play} and I found this great list of goals. I think it’s a great way to assess goals and by writing typing them out, I can maybe be a bit more accountable. I love this quote that I found on Pinterest. Little things are much more achievable and can still make us feel like we succeeded.

Focus

I also found this list over at Run Lucas Run. I think we will wrap up our Winter Break tomorrow as a family by having a yummy dinner and then we can each fill out these lists. There are actually two lists to download, one is for grownups and the other for kids. The kids version is so much more simple. Lucky kids.

2014I’m getting a jump start on mine to share with you.

A BAD HABIT I’M GOING TO BREAK: Getting so worked up about things that really aren’t worth it.
A NEW SKILL I’D LIKE TO LEARN: Canning 
A PERSON I HOPE TO BE MORE LIKE: This is a loaded question, there are so many people that inspire me.
A GOOD DEED I’M GOING TO DO: Dedicate more time to Hands 4 Hope
A PLACE I’D LIKE TO VISIT: The Oregon/Washington Coast.
A BOOK I’D LIKE TO READ: Fly Away by Kristen Hannah
A LETTER I’M GOING TO WRITE: Be more consistent in the letters I write to my boys.
A NEW FOOD I’D LIKE TO TRY: Eggplant — it kinda freaks me out.
I’M GOING TO BE BETTER AT: Using my time wisely/Gardening more/Being patient/Exercising and eating better  for my mental and physical health {not aiming for perfection but being better}/spending less and saving more/blog more

There you have it. My 2014 goals. Do you set goals or resolutions? I’d love to hear them and how you stick to them as well.

Cheers to a New Year. I hope 2014 is a good one for you!

 

 

Thanksgiving 2013 Menu

Thanksgiving-Autumn-Leaves

Happy Fall Y’all! A fellow blogger and friend of mine shared her Thanksgiving menu and I thought, “what a great idea”. So I am being a bit of a copy cat. Hopefully flattery will get me everywhere ;) Charene’s blog is Copper Lantern Cooking. I actually found her a few years back when she had a local cupcake business and was generous enough to donate to a fundraiser at my kids school. We have since become Facebook friends and recipe sharers. I love social media for just these type of friendships. I get to meet people that I otherwise would not and share fun things like well, food!

So let me preface by saying that I have a pretty straight forward, stick to the classics type of family. However, I like to mix it up so I’ve added a few things with flair.

Appetizers

  • Salami, cheese and crackers – we grew up with this on hand at every family function. My dad is adding deer salami which I do not like so I asked for regular ol’ salami for me.
  • Black olives – you know, for wearing on your fingers.
  • Deviled eggs — another dad specialty

Main Course

Desert

My dad is in charge of deserts. I am the queen of baking in my house but for Thanksgiving, I appreciate the pies that show up in my kitchen. We get various versions of apple pie from Apple Hill, a banana cream pie from Buttercream Bakery and the pumpkin pies are from Costco. Trust me, I make it up with the loads of cookies that I crank out throughout the rest of the holiday season. Oh, I’ll take a little credit cause I do make homemade whipped cream for the pies. Homemade. No canned or Cool Whip {yes, I know some people love it but I have to make the real stuff, I’ve even added a little bourbon for a kick.}

Do you host or travel for Thanksgiving? Do you have a standard menu or do you serve things unique? I’d love to hear about your families favorite recipes.

However you spend Thanksgiving, I wish you a happy one. Count your blessings everyday.

Fall Entertaining

Sometimes I just want to jump into a magazine that features the perfect tablescape. Tonight I was inspired by this amazing photo on Joss & Main.

The+Fall+Harvest

I love this table over at Bird’s Party. The sprinkles of gold confetti are a fun addition to an already whimsical table.

thanksgiving-fall-tablescape-ideasClassy in the City shared this simple yet inviting table for 4.

Fall2 I love this photo on LampsPlus page. I think the whole property just works for that rustic feel that I adore.

Fall3I love how Sew Fine a Seam incorporated some blue into her table. I love adding blue into my holiday color scheme. Light blue, robins egg blue, soft aqua. It’s a soothing color and adds a fun pop to any decor.

fall-tablescape-3-620x1014The Happier Homemaker kept it simple with whites and a burst of green. I love the addition of the initial as a table marker {I have a slight obsession with initials}.

autumn-tablescapeSo there you have it, a few of my favorite fall tablescapes although I have a confession, I grew up spending holidays with my dad, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. so we all ended up eating wherever we found a seat and this involved paper plates and plastic utensils but guess what? It was the best and even though we didn’t have fancy place settings, there wasn’t a lack of blessings and things to be thankful for. Still, I do love pretty table.

 

French Breakfast Puffs

These might be one of my most favorite recipes of all time. I don’t think you can go wrong with something coated in dripping butter and then rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Tell me if I am wrong! I saw The Pioneer Woman whipping these up on her TV show a few weeks back and immediately made them for our breakfast for dinner that same night. They were irresistible and gone in a flash. I’m pretty sure I drooled as I waited for the rest of our dinner to finish cooking.  I made these ham breakfast cups to go with the muffins. It was one of the best breakfast for dinners I have ever had.

French Breakfast Puffs

Photo Source

French Breakfast Puffs

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2/3 cups Shortening (Crisco)
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1-1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 sticks Butter

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.

In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a different bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening. Then add eggs and mix again. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.

Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

These are amazing fresh from the oven and just as great the next day {I’ve tried both — don’t judge! ;)}

Cinnamon & Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Cookies

Heeeeelllllo Fall! So it’s that season {yeah yeah yeah .. I’m so redundant in expressing my love of Fall, sorry if it gets annoying but I just can not help myself} for baking. Today I had three goals, #1 – Bake with pumpkin, #2 – make some goodies for our schools Fall Festival Cake Walk tomorrow and #3 – Appease my neighbor who has been relentless in reminding me that I have not made anything pumpkin for him yet. So I went to my recipe book Pinterest and found these goodies which were over at Keep it Sweet Deserts. I whipped them up and of course had my delivery boy run them to the neighbors house which resulted in a text telling me that it was a keeper. Oh whew! ;) Then I bagged them up for the cake fight. Oh yes, prior to these two things my taste tester and I sampled the goods and yes, this recipe is a keeper.

IMG_2163

 

Cinnamon & Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Cookies

Yield: Makes 5 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie seasoning
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Cooking Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and pumpkin pie seasoning; set aside
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla; beat in pumpkin until well-combined
  5. Stir in dry ingredients just until combined
  6. Stir in chocolate and cinnamon chips
  7. Use a cookie dough scoop or tablespoon to place cookie dough mounds (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 inch apart
  8. Bake 9-11 minutes or until cookies are puffed up and no longer wet
  9. Allow cookies to cool on cooling rack before serving

What We Teach Our Children.

I am on the verge of teenage-hood in  my house.  My oldest is 10 going on 13. The little one is 8. They keep me on my toes. The 10 year old is working on his delivery. By this I mean he thinks everything is funny but I don’t always agree. So we are constantly discussing what is and isn’t appropriate. It exhausts me. He loves to chime in on adult conversations and he also has super good ears. So he hears everything. This. Is. Challenging. I have to give him the freedom to express himself and hold conversations with grown ups but I also need to teach him what conversations are appropriate for him to be a part of. So these are really small life lessons I am working on everyday. He is a good kid but they are all learning, right? Everything is a life lesson in my opinion.

I know that academics are important but for me, I’d really rather my child grow up being kind because that will get you far in life! Building relationships, engaging and caring about others. These are imperative life skills. Yes, good academics will help you as well but it’s all of the other things in life that will help you along even more. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be humble. Be aware. Be mindful. Be playful. Most of all, be an example of who your child should and could be. Be hopeful that you help shape them into compassionate do-gooders that will inspire others. Help shape them so that they will put good energy into a sometimes messy world.

Kids

Photo source unknown

I’ll leave you with this poem was on the web today. For the article that goes with it, click here.

We read it in the papers and hear on the air; 
Of killing and stealing and crime everywhere. 
We sigh and we say as we notice the trend, 
this young generation…where will it end?

But can we be sure that it’s their fault alone?
These kids who do things that we don’t condone;
Who was it shaping their first twenty years?
And who made the world they enjoy with their peers? 

Are we less guilty, who place in their way.
Too many things that lead them astray?
Too many credit cards, too much idle time;
Too many movies of passion and crime. 

Too many books not fit to be read,
Too many damaging things they hear said.
Too many children encouraged to roam,
Too many parents who won’t stay at home. 

Kids don’t make the movies, they don’t write the books.
They don’t make the video games with gangsters and crooks.
They don’t make the liquor, they don’t run the bars,
They don’t change the laws, they don’t make the cars. 

They don’t make the drugs, that muddle the brain;
That’s all done by older folks…eager for gain.
Those self-absorbed teens, oh how we condemn,
The flaws of our nation and blame it on them. 

But rather than fixing blame, let’s fix the cause,
Let’s look in the mirror and conclude as we pause;
That in so many cases — it’s sad but it’s true –
The title “Delinquent” fits older folks too. 

There is a great article that goes along with this. Please visit Tim Elmore’s site at http://growingleaders.com/blog/kids-products-world-created/

Little Pieces of Fall

I know, I go on and on and on about how I heart Fall. I even have a hashtag for it on Instagram. #iheartfall. For real. I’m literally sitting here eating apple crisp while apple coffee cake bakes in the oven. At 10pm. #issues. I know I am not alone so I’ve compiled some of my favorite Fall things to share here with you. Your welcome and happy Fall ya’ll.

Fall collage 1

Felt leaves at 5 Orange Potatoes

Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints at Pass the Sushi

Sweater Pumpkin at Confessions of a Plate Addict

Heart Shaped Leaves at The Berry

Fall Collage 2Cider Spiced Donut Holes at Honeybear Lane

Free Fall printable at I Should Be Mopping the Floor

Spicy Pumpkin Soup at A Spicy Perspective

Chevron Wreath at Crafty Texas Girls

Last year I shared all of these yummy pumpkin recipes and these free printables. Is Fall your favorite season or are you all about the hot summer days?

 

 

 

 

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I love Fall and one of my most favorite parts of this season is the food. Pumpkin and apple everything? Yes please! I also love crock-pot meals for the convenience. With a little bit of prep you can have this yummy soup simmering for dinner. Serve with a fresh loaf of french bread and a side salad and viola, dinner is served!

Soup

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups half and half (I used fat-free half and half)
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup diced celery

Directions:

Combine broth, water, carrots, celery, chicken and rice (along with seasoning packet) in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours. Take out chicken and shred with two forks and then add back into slow cooker. In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour mixture by tablespoon to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Stir cream mixture into slow cooker and then let cook on low for 15 more minutes.

Easy Peach Cobbler

Do you want a swoon worthy, super easy and delicious peach cobbler recipe? Well look no further. I whipped up this goodness served a la mode on Sunday for a BBQ and it was gone. No leftovers to be had which was a little sad. Lesson learned, next time I will make two. ;)

Peach Cobbler recipe from My Recipes

Peach Cobbler

Photo Source

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups fresh peaches, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional) a must!

Preparation

  1. Melt butter in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).
  3. Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.
  4. Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm or cool.

This was a crowd pleaser and made my house smell delicious. I think it will become my go to recipe for late summer entertaining. Do you have an easy desert recipe that you like to repeat?