Sunday, December 30, 2012

Apple Dumplings

(Photo from
Did you procrastinate planning your New Year's Eve like I did? Don't get me wrong it's a day before and I know who is coming and NOW know what is on the menu but I did my typical "well I want to try something different" and bought all these ingredients for a recipe I have never tried. Brave right?! or stupid, whichever you choose to see it.
However I did take one step of sanity and preparation and tried a small batch of my dessert tonight! Yay for me! And I'm so glad I did because now I can have this TWICE! These are Apple Dumplings from Pioneer Woman and you will NOT be disappointed! They are DIVINE! they are similar to apple cobbler or apple turnovers with warm gooey syrup and melting vanilla ice cream beside it!
This is right up my alley and maybe it will be for you too. So if you are still looking for ideas, try this one. Please.
And since this recipe belongs to Ree Drummond I'll simply leave the link for you to go get the recipe:
Click HERE for recipe! (Or click her photo above)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: Full Disclosure

A handsome FBI Special Agent gentleman meets a beautiful confident woman that knows how to tell a story. And he's a good listener! She first appears as a local small town cop - you know the kind - where she comprises the whole staff! However she walks down the hall and casually says hello to a U.S. Marshall, happens to be the Midwest Homicide Investigator and, what?! she knows the previous Vice not just knows but is a close friend!??! Who is she? Who is Ann Silver? That is certainly what Paul wants to know ever since she captivated his attention. There are surprises popping up constantly with this one but she doesn't just have surprises, she has secrets.
This book is an amazing read and one that provides a great twist and crazy turn of events! It really leaves you wondering and asking out loud - who is she??!
In case you didn't figure out by now, I highly recommend this book as a great read! Not only will your curiosity be held but it intertwines Christ so easily into it that it just makes it all the more sweet. If you are like me and FINALLY have a little time off this holiday season, give this Dee Henderson new release a try. I doubt you'll regret it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A few good Christmas blog posts I've stumbled across...

I was supposed to be taking family photos for some friends of mine today but plans got changed so I'm home with no schedule planned. I particularly like days like that! Christmas cheer is everywhere and I myself will be crafting and baking today because it sounds like the perfect way to start December don't you think? I accidentally gathered some awesome and cute ideas and thought I would share them with you. Because let's face it we all love a little fellow blog love.

1. Cookies - it had to be first on my list! These are White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod. I know I share a lot of recipes from them but my goodness they just HAVE so many good ones! Plus it combines my two absolute favorites: peppermint and white chocolate! Just click here for a direct link.

2. Chalkboard Art - These chalkboard creations are SO chic and they are free to print or download (for personal use only). I love black and white stuff so I'm definitely printing these and either framing them or decoupaging them onto canvas??? Hmmm....what to do with them?

3. Crazy Christmas Tree - Okay this one is slightly weird and a little off the norm of what I post but this is really cool! Had to share it, click here for link.

4. Children's Advent Calender - This simplistic printable looks like a lot of fun for kids and adults alike and will help keep your focus on what is really important this holiday season! Click here for link.

That's all for now I've been staring at my #1 COOKIES and I'm really craving those peppermint ones so I think I will go make some. Yes, right now! See you after my sweet tooth is satisfied!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcake

The combination of those three things: chocolate, caramel and salt just can't be beat! They are delicious - and ever since I tasted the best cupcake from a little cupcake shop in Arkansas called Fat-Bottomed Cupcake Girls, I have been craving this cupcake. So when the kids and I got up on our first day off this week and sat and watched two Cupcake Wars back to back it was inevitable. We had to bake some!

I got so many comments over my cupcake on Facebook that I had to post the recipe and of course I figure if I have to post it why not here on my blog?! So here it is. Now the only thing I will say is I am actually not a huge chocolate fan so I use a homemade chocolate cake recipe for the cake part so if you are a die-hard chocolate fan go ahead and just use the box mix. However, substitute the water with buttermilk and add an extra egg - you will never do it the box way again!

If you do want to try this recipe though here it is:

Chocolate Cupcakes
(Adapted from "Hello Cupcake" by Karen Tack)

1 3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 TBLS) unsalted butter, softened (I used regular butter & it worked fine)
1 Cup of brown sugar
3-4 Tbls. sugar
2 large eggs
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted (I actually used mini chocolate chips)
1 Cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffly, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the melted chocolate. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating just until belended. Stir in the vanilla.

4. Fill the paper liners 2/3 full with the batter and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the baking pan, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool compltely.


1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 stick (8 tbls.) unsalted butter, softened (again I used real butter)
1 box (16 oz, more or less as desired) powdered sugar
2-3 Tbls. Milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Heavy Whipping Cream
Caramel Sauce

1. Combine the cream cheese and the butter in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until luight and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

2. Gradually add the powdered sugar and 2 tbls of the milk and beat until smooth. Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and the remaining 1 tbls. milk if the mixture is too thick.

3. Pour about a cup or two (I made this part up so sorry I didn't measure) of heavy whipping cream into a seperate medium bowl. (Depending on how your frosting came out decide upon amount of whipped cream you would like to add, mine came out very runny and not stiff like frosting so I added quite a bit of whipped cream. However if yours is already fairly stiff and holding form you may only want to add a little.) Beat cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar to desired sweetness and beat until stiff peaks form. Add in vanilla extract and beat just until combined. then pour the whipping cream into cream cheese mixture and gently fold it in.

4. Spoon frosting into a ziploc bag and seal. Cut 1/4 hole at corner of bag and begin piping frosting onto cupcakes.

5. Then gently chop pretzels and sprinkle pieces on top of each cupcake. Drizzle caramel sauce over entire cupcake and finish with a dash of sea salt on top - just a little! And indulge!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Bulletin Board

This is a simple Thanksgiving bulletin board idea and can easily be adapted for older kids. Make each child write a sentence strip of a quote or poem - or write about the indians or pilgrims - or what they are thankful for....the list goes on and on. Make it what you want but hopefully this basic idea will help inspire you!

Thanksgiving Placemat Craft: Indian Corn

Every year our teachers make place mats for our school wide Thanksgiving Feast! Last year took a lot of work as I had the toddlers make a TON of yellow, red and brown dots to make Indian Corn. I was determined to find an easier place mat for young toddlers this year. I accomplished my task!! Check out what I found:
This is one of the place mats we made this year. The outside are simple pattern sponge rollers you can find at most teacher or craft stores. I did 2 or 3 each of the different patterns. One was polka dots, one was a plain stripe and so on. Some I did all four sides and some just the outsides. It's up to you!

The main part of it is the kids hand print. You can trace their hand and cut it out or you can capture the actual hand print as I did by painting their hands yellow and making a hand print on a plain white piece of paper. Then cut out around their hand print. Next take a hole punch to some dark and light brown paper and glue sporadically onto their cutout hand. I free handed the simple corn stalk out of green paper and the banner out of yellow. I even outlined the yellow banner myself with a sharpie marker. Then I personalized with their name and the year.
SO SIMPLE yet so pretty and a great keepsake for years to come! Make sure and laminate or the food will ruin them!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Football Party w/ a Chic Twist

My dad loves college football! Mix that with being out of the country for the past three months and he was a bit deprived of his lazy game day Saturdays! So for his birthday we gave him just that! We got the idea straight from a "Better Home and Garden" Magazine.
Start by painting white lines on butcher paper that you've covered your table with. Measure them out, you need 11 I believe in all.

Next carefully paint your best football numbers! They don't have to be perfect, the goal is rustic.

Roll down some brown paper bags (you can add in white bags for variety) and add your best snacks!

Wrap up your gifts with remaining butcher paper and raffia.

Don't forget every one's bets on the games that day! Our winners won a candy bar.

Bring it all together and voila! Or should I say TOUCHDOWN!

Best part? Guests can make a huge mess and you just fold it all up in the paper afterwards and throw away!

My dad is from Ohio so the Ohio State game was kind of a big deal that day :)

Need a meal idea that's simple and easy to entertain with - chili bowl! Perfect for chilly days filled with football and cheering. Just set out all the fixin's and it's a relaxed buffet style meal.

Easy, yes. cheap, yes. So chic, YES! But still cool enough for the man (or little guy) in your life!

7 Day Photo Challenge Results

Now I remember why I don't do photo challenges. Because I am the absent minded professor who always FORGETS!! So join me and laugh at yourself for something today, remind yourself you ARE HUMAN, and enjoy my lousy three photos I DID manage to take.
Day 1 : Lego

Day 2: Cup

 Day 4: Pencil
Now let me explain...the pictures not my constant failed attempts at photo challenges! I refuse to explain myself for that. Day 1 was a piece of cake - my son has TONS of Lego's. He is a bit obsessed with them right now so it's the only one I could have fun with!
Day 2 was a normal rough day of battling toddlers among the minefield of Day School. This sad cup of coffee seemed liked a Pumpkin Spice Latte to me on a TIRED day!
Day 4 is sadly a shelf at my work. No the Easter coffee cup isn't mine, it was there when I moved in and posting this photo may finally motivate me to make the space more "mine". Which means cuter and way more organized! And believe it or not that orange ball thing is a pair of toddler keep these things on hand as a toddler teacher because you just never know what will happen!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

7 Day Photo Challenge

So I readily admit I've tried the "Year in Photos" I think twice and I just can't keep up with it, as fun as it is at the time! But last month I was blog hopping and found this really cool photo challenge someone did that looked so fun that I couldn't resist trying it! Of course for my sake and sanity instead of doing it for a month (like she did on her blog) I'm only going to do one week. And it seemed fitting to start today because well, it's the first day here in Texas where everyone actually needed to wear a coat - all day - not just in the morning! So it feels fresh and cool and wonderful outside and I'm about to whip up hot cocoa for my kids who've been playing outside enjoying this weather and I'm also stuck on the computer for awhile editing photos.

So here is how it works:
 I'm going to come up with a crazy random list of words and each day I have to take a picture of that word or an interpretation of it! Such as if I put flower it could be a picture of a real flower or a flower on a teacup or even my daughter who is like my little flower! You see? No real rules except that it must SOMEHOW relate to the word! I'm excited and I hope you will join me but even if not I'll entertain myself for a week!

Here is my (when I say "my" I mean my husband and kid's list because I would think ahead and try to cheat by what I knew we were doing that day, lol) random list:

Sunday: Lego
Monday: Cup
Tuesday: Speaker
Wednesday: Pencil
Thursday: Cube
Friday: Work
Saturday: Leaf

I'm going to post this list on my fridge and take a photo of each "inspiration word" that day. I'll post them all next weekend! Let's see if I can do it! If you participate and want to leave a link to your blog post in the comments section - I'd love to come check out your photos!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quotes Worth Pausing For

"The object of our faith is more important than the sincerity of our belief. The man who thinks he is right but is not sure may be far better off then the one who is "sure" but is absolutely wrong."

"The more we know of the Bible, the more faith we have, and the more correctly we know the Bible, the more effective our faith."

"A woman once heard someone compliment her great faith. "I have not great faith," she responded, "I have a little faith in a great God.""

"Christian theology evolves out of an experience that is based on God's Word, and that is successfully reinforced by its correspondence to the realities of this world."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pumpkin Smoothie

The first day of Fall was yesterday!! I'm so excited to break out the scarves and sweaters and Pioneer Woman came through for me with a delicious pumpkiny goodness treat to try! It tastes like a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte minus the latte! It is super yummy and the crushed cinnamon cracker topping is a must! If you like pumpkin or smoothies, or both then you need to go try this right now.

Here's the recipe (taken straight from Pioneer Woman's blog):


1 Can Pumpkin Pie Filling
3 Cups Whole Milk (I did 1 1/2 C. Milk & 1 1/2 C. of Half & Half)
1/2 C. Vanilla Yogurt
Few Dashes of Cinnamon
Cinnamon Graham Crackers (crushed)

Ahead of time place pumpkin pie filling into a freezer safe container and place in the freezer for a few hours or until frozen solid. When it's frozen combine first four ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the smoothie into pretty glasses and top them off with some crumbled crackers.

Makes: About 8 Servings

Note: If you are like me and make your pumpkin pies with the Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin just add the sugar and spices to the pumpkin puree and you are good to go. DO NOT add the milk or eggs.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

So I am addicted to two particular food blogs and I'm sure if you read this blog enough you already know who they are: Pioneer Woman and Two Peas and Their Pod.
Well Two Peas and Their Pod posted this amazingly delicious recipe awhile back and when I saw it I knew it would make a great after school treat! So I rounded up my cooking posse (my kids) and we dove right in!

It's basically chocolate chip cookie dough, then melted caramel and cream poured on top with the other half of the cookie dough on top of the caramel sauce. You sprinkle salt on top of the caramel if you prefer the salted caramel taste.

Look what sinfulness it turns into!!

And it is SO simple!
Here is the link so you can make it for your kids too. Or just you and your husband. Or just you - but it may require hiding.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gobza - the latest and GREATEST coupon deals EVER!!

OK, have you heard of...
If you are a coupon junkie you will not want to miss this one!! Seriously! This is a brand new company that just launched and is similar to Groupon and such but ALSO allows you to make money back (on top of the incredible coupon deals)!! My husband and I signed up and I really am impressed with the deals!
Here are some examples of offers that are on Gobza right now:
1. $20 off a $40 purchase at Ray's Grill. Buy this coupon for $2. You just saved $18!!
2. For a $10 coupon you can get $125 dollars off eyelash extensions worth $200!
3. You can get a buy one get one free haircut for a $1.25 coupon.
4. Buy a $30 coupon to get $500 off a new A/C System!! Yes $500!!
I mean seriously cool! Anyways if you want to check out more just click here for a quick video. If you want to know ALL about Gobza watch this video, a little longer but SO helpful! 
And then if you are just as sold as I am on these great deals (not to mention the extra money back in my pocket when my friends use Gobza) then just follow this link to sign up yourself:
My GobzaLink™:
It's your personal invitation from me to you - so you can't say you didn't know!!

COUSCOUS - it is on a need to know basis!

Here is for everyone out there looking for something new to try! It is called COUSCOUS!!
My mom would make this all the time when I was a kid and it was one of my absolute favorite things in the world! So naturally I make it for my babies and this is one of those that gets a jumping up and down yelling YAY!! kind of reaction out of them. I am not exaggerating as I know I often do - but not this time. I am for reals! They love this stuff. And I am SHOCKED at the volume of people that have never heard of it! So I decided we must change that. The Near East brand is the kind I prefer and I only like the Original.
Add lots of butter and some salt and it is perfection! It cooks just like rice, very simple easy and quick and tastes similar to a rice. It's delicious, you will not regret it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Silent Sunday

See this gun? I shot it.

It's a Savage 110BA .338 Lapua Mag. This gun holds the record for the longest confirmed kill at 2200 yards. I shot the target at 500 yards away.
It was awesome.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Easy to Make Kid Chore Charts

I must first of all give credit where credit is due and also brag on my sister-in-law who is the amazingly talented person behind my babies beautiful and fun chore charts!
She found the instructions for this chore chart off a blog, which no, she couldn't remember or I would have a link for you! However it is pretty basic - just takes some time and your own spin of creativity.

It starts with a simple wood board, which I believe you can find at Hobby Lobby. You then pick whatever scrapbook paper you want to be the design of your board. You need 2 12x12 to fit the width. Line the papers up to match exactly at the edges and then cut to fit 2/3 of the top of the board and glue down. Next have a solid colored paper that pairs well with your design paper and do the same to cover the bottom 1/3. Next paint a small piece of trim, any kind, any width you prefer and then using wood glue and clamps, glue the strip down the line of the connecting papers. Once dry, measure equal widths apart for your screw holes to go and at each point screw in a small hook. You may need to drill a smaller hole to start your screw, however the board is not thick so make sure you have control of the drill because you do not want to go all the way through!!

The last part is to go to your local hardware store and pick up 8 paint chips (those little cards that show you the color of the paint) again in a coordinating shade and when you get home find the cutest pictures on the Internet you can find and type the chore name above the picture, print out and glue onto your paint chips. Punch a hole in the top of the paint chip and hang on the small hooks. Oh and if you are so talented like my sister-in-law you can free hand the child's name (or buy scrapbook letters if it would avoid a panic attack at this point) and you can even add some stickers for embellishment (the 3-D raised ones look best I think - you know the ones with the foam sticker back).
I went a step further and attached pretty matching ribbon to the back to hang them up with! (Sorry that part isn't pictured here) 
You start the day with the chores showing and as they complete each chore the child flips it over to reveal their theme scrapbook paper (which I realized I forgot to mention that step...glue the same decorative scrapbook paper that is on the top of your board onto the back of the paint chips.) Okay NOW flip them over! Isn't that pretty?! The 2nd picture shows a completed chore chart and the 1st and last photos are how they look at the beginning of a new day.
You may even include weekend chores or every other day chores because the beauty is whatever chips are turned over your child knows they must do that day! They are fabulous and my kids think it's fun to turn their cards over, it gives them that sense of accomplishment.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Candy Ice-Cream Pops

So because it's Labor Day Weekend and the kids feel like they already need a break from school because they are SO not used to the rigid schedule anymore...I think you should make these super yummy Ice-Cream Candy Pops! You can find the original recipe right HERE at Pioneer Woman.
You need candy. And then go get more. I started with M & M's - crushed them up a bit.

Moved on to bigger and better Oreo cookies.

And saved the best for last - my FAVORITE - Reese's!! Chop Chop.

Toss a good spoonful into 5 oz kitchen Dixie cups.

Then take remaining candy and blend it with your ice cream. Yes you are making your own little blizzards! Fill the cups up to the top and add a Popsicle stick. Stick in the freezer and try to keep your patience!

Delicious and the entire recipe is kid friendly!! I made these with my kids as summer came to a close but these are screaming to be featured at a Labor Day Bash! Have a safe and fun holiday weekend!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Farm Animal Pancakes

A couple years ago my grandmother-in-law bought me this Nordic Ware Farm Animal Pancake Griddle. It is fabulous and the kids get SO excited when I say I'm going to make the farm pancakes! I mean I am a serious pancake eater. My mom used to make them when I was sick. Maybe this is why I love them so much since they were my comfort food. Or she made them because I loved them so much. Hmm...egg or chicken, which came first? We shall never know. 

Although we technically DO know about the egg and chicken thing because God created all the animals first THEN gave the command to multiply, thus the egg. But how me telling you about a cool pancake griddle turned into the Creation story has me befuddled. So with no further ado I give you no other than, ha, a chicken!

Just wanted to share in case you are a pancake lover like me, or if you are needing a gift idea for someone who loves to bake, or cook, or just loves breakfast! Either way you can find it right HERE.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Travel Blog

These are my beautiful parents. They are living a dream! They both retired a year ago from long time Education Careers in the Public School Systems. I'm so proud of them. They worked so hard for so long and now that they are retired what are they doing? They are selling their house and travelling! A month or two here, a week or two there, wherever they want to go.

So where have they gone so far? Germany, Australia, Ireland and currently they are touring small towns in Italy! I mean who would NOT want to do this?! Now to be honest two of those trips were before retirement but they needed some practice and they were still recent trips! Oh I forgot to mention Bulgaria and India is in their near future!

Want to follow their journey since you can't take them yourself? At least not yet, right? Hop on over to Refired Roamings to see where they go next!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cheesy Olive Bread

 So if you have ever read this blog before you already know I am a big Pioneer Woman fan! Just yesterday I made one of her pasta dishes and just to make the calories go way beyond control I made her Cheesy Olive Bread to go with it! (click link for recipe)
 However my husband is allergic to onions so I RARELY cook with them and I'm NOT a fan of green olives. They make me want to puke. I'm sorry for the visual but seriously, yuck. So if you are the same in either of those categories I HIGHLY recommend my substitutions! Instead of green onions I chopped up banana peppers and instead of green olives I went with good old tomatoes! The crunchy tangy one was substituted with a crunchy and tangy one and the moist one had a moist substitute so it turned out FANTASTIC!! I LOVED it!

Can you tell?? 

Oh and when you read Pioneer Woman's recipe in her cookbook she encourages you to try some of the mixture on a cracker first. Okay let me just say the next time I make this it will be piled in a bowl with crackers around it. Forget the bread!

I really did like it better as a cracker spread but that is not to take away from the bread and it's yummyness! 

Plus it's almost football season (as I am WELL aware since I'm married to the Fantasy Nut) so the more cheesy recipes the better! 

P.S. In case you are married to a similar Fantasy Football nut - you can refer them to my husband's very own blog: The PPR Guys. They will think you are a fantastic wife who cares so much! :)