Friday, November 27, 2015

MORE Gift Guides - Drink Enthusiasts, Book Lovers, Foodies, & Gamers

Happy Friday!  Hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day filled with things that make you happy.  We spent ours with our family and ate ourselves into food comas.  Pretty much the perfect day :)  
We finished it off with the obligatory family picture.  Can't you tell how excited they were about it?!

I posted a few gift guides the other day and wanted to follow-up today with a few more specifically geared toward the cocktail enthusiasts, book lovers, foodies, and gamers in your life.  You might even find a few things to add to your lists, too!  Whether you're shopping in your PJ's today or headed out to the stores, I'm hoping these will help you tackle your Christmas to-dos!!!  

First up, a few things for drink enthusiasts.  

1.  Whiskey Ice Balls - these are on Mr. Spouse's Christmas list. He has the Whiskey Wedge and the Whiskey stones, but he really wants this because he loves the idea of a slow melting ice that won't dilute his drink.

2. Barrel Aged Cocktail Kit - this is such a neat concept.  With barrel aged cocktails being a big trend in mixology, this little kit allows for barrel aging on a smaller scale & in the comfort of your own home.

3. Neighborwoods Map Coasters - I love coasters and think this set is the neatest.  Cute, functional, and a great conversation piece.  Lots of different cities available!

4. Cocktail Crate Mixer - spiced old fashioned concentrated syrup...great addition to your in-home bar!

5.Quench Bar10der Ultimate Cocktail Tool  - this is an all-in-one essential bar tool for any cocktail enthusiast.  It includes a bottle opener, channel knife, corkscrew, jigger, knife, muddler, reamer, stirrer, strainer, and zester.

6. Wine Pearls - if you, or any of your wine drinking friends & family, love their wine chilled then make sure you add these wine pearls to their stockings!  

7. City Map Glasses - not just another cocktail glass!  This set is etched with a map of your city...several cities available!!  These would be great paired with the map coasters mentioned above!

8.  Taurus the Bull Bottle Opener - I absolutely love this bottle opener. Not only is it a really neat tool, but it's a great display piece, too!

9. Hot Toddy Diagram Glassware - I know, I know...more glassware.  But these are the neatest, aren't they?!  

10. The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails - goodness I love this book!  It includes cocktail recipes from bartenders all over the world as well as commentary on the latest drink trends.  

11. Rising to the Occasion - I think this is such a great little coffee table book...especially for anyone who has ever given a toast :)  

12.  Flask Funnel - this would be great paired with a personalized flask!!  No more wasted spirits!

Here's a little list of a few things that would be a great addition to any kitchen.  Great stuff for foodies and people who just love to eat in general :)

1. Milk Bottle Measuring Cups - this is on my list.  Love that it goes with my farmhouse can be displayed or stored in parts.  Simple, classy, and functional!

2. The Food Lab Cookbook - I absolutely love this cookbook!  It's a science based approach to cooking...lots of tips, explanations, and techniques for the home cook. Great recipes, too!

3. Condiment Collection - this is a gourmet Mediterranean condiment collection that would be perfect for anyone who loves adding a little something extra to their dishes.  

4. Foodie Dice - this is like playing Russian Roulette with ingredients :) If you want a little shake-up in the kitchen, can't decide what to cook, or want to try something new, just roll the dice and go! 

5. Ebelskivers Cookbook - have you ever had an Ebelskiver?!  If not then you need to SOON.  I was introduced to Ebelskivers years ago by my husband's family and ohmiword.  This is a GREAT cookbook for getting started!!

6.  Nordic Ware Danish Ebelskiver Pan - you can make Ebelskivers without an Ebelskiver pan and this one is awesome!!  Pair it with the Ebelskiver cookbook for a complete gift!

7. Amish Country Popcorn Gift Pack - no other popcorn compares to Amish popcorn.  Mr. Spouse's aunt pops us a batch every time we visit up North and always sends us home with a bag to share with family and friends...and now my family here is hooked, too!!!  THE BEST!!

8. Susie's South 40 Toffee - if you've ever been to the Nutcracker Market in Houston then you're probably familiar with this deliciousness.  If you like toffee, you will DIE over this.  Life changing, for real.  I buy some every year to give as gifts and sadly they never make it to the recipients. #inmybelly

Know someone who loves to read?!  Have any friends who host book clubs in their homes?!  Check out this list for some gift ideas for the bookworms in your life.  

1. Literary Scarves - absolutely love these scarves!  How fun would it be to wear some of your favorite books?!

2. Literary Cufflinks - these are a great accessory for guys who love to read!

3.  Ampersand Cheese Board - great for the girls (or guys) who host book clubs in their homes!

4. BOOKends - absolutely love these BOOKends.  Classy and fun!

5. Personal Library Kit - I love to loan my books, but I'm always terrified I'll never see them again.  This little library kit is the perfect solution for that!

6. Grammar Teacup & Saucer, set of 2 -book lovers and grammarians get excited.  This is a great gift for there/their/they're stockings ;) (see what I did there?!?!)

7. Tequila Mockingbird - aaaahhhh!!!! 65 drink recipes that pay homage to your favorite books and written with lots of wit and "punny" humor.  MUST.HAVE. Especially for book clubs!!!

8. Fingerprint Bookmark - never lose your  EXACT spot again :)  This is definitely more of a stocking stuffer, but would also be the perfect companion to gift with a book :)

9. Library Due Date Card Phone Case - how fun is this phone case?! I know a certain librarian that would LOVE this to pieces!

10. Library Embosser - love this for personalizing/labeling the books in your library...such a great gift for the book lovers in your life!

We're a game loving family!  Whether it be family game night or party games with friends, we love to have fun and games always make things a lot more interesting!  I compiled a list of games we know and love as well as a few we have on our lists!  

1.  Mini Beer Pong - this is a tabletop version of the college classic...perfect for young adults or those who don't want to grow up :)

2. The Ultimate Book of Card Games - this is a great book including over 350 different card games.  Who knew there were that many?!  This would definitely come in handy on game night!

3. Yard Dice - yes!  How fun are these?!  I love life sized games and these dice could be used for anything!  

4. Cards Against Humanity - the box says it all.  If you're easily offended or know someone else who is, this game is NOT what you want.  That to be said, this game is one of our favorites.  HILARIOUS!!!  And terrible.  But  The PERFECT party game!!!

5. Time's Up - this game is a mix of Taboo and Charades and is hilariously FUNNY!!!!

6. Desktop Basketball Game - I really do love tabletop games and this one is perfect for the basketball lovers in your life!

7. 2-in-1 Ladderball/Cornhole - two favorites wrapped into one neat package.  This is so great!  Tailgating or backyard for anything!

8. Backyard Jenga - again with the life sized games, but how fun are these for entertaining?!

9. Pie Face -ohmiword...this one cracks me up!!!  the boys have this on their list after watching countless videos of people playing.  My nephew has this and the whole family LOVES to play!

10. Portable Table Tennis Set - another tabletop game that can be toted around from place to place.  I think all my boys would love this one!

11. Say Anything - this game is similar to Apples to Apples, but better...and funnier...and really easy to explain (no crazy rules!)  Great for parties or family play!!!

If you still need a few more ideas, you can find my gift guides for her, him, kids, and them here!

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

His, Hers, Theirs, & Kids Gift Guides 2015

'Tis the season to GIVE!  Amiright?!  But if you're anything like me, you probably have a hard time shopping for other people.  Not because you don't like to, but because you want to make sure you have the "perfect" gift to give.  I'm pretty sure I overthink every gift I buy.  Totally unnecessary, but I fret over gift-giving nonetheless.  Even if you're not like me, maybe these gift guides will give you some new ideas and maybe you'll find a few things to add to your lists, too!

First up, gifts for HER...errr, US :)

1.  The Pamplona Plaid Scarf - this is the perfect accessory at a perfect price point. 

2.  The Courtney Bib - this is my favorite necklace yet!!!  I love the versatility of this piece and how it can take the simplest of outfits up a few notches.  It comes in silver, black, & hematite, too.

3.  Sephora Favorites Superstars - this is a MUST for any beauty enthusiast!  This box is filled with 7 full size beauty essentials...some of the best mascaras, eyeliners, lipsticks, primers (and MORE!) on the market all in one pretty little box.

4. Colorblock Reversible Cape - I'm all about the capes and ponchos this season and this one is beautiful.  It comes in 3 different colors...the olive is my favorite...and it's 25% off right now!

5.  Vintage Oversized Fringe Boho Bag - this bag is a welcome change from the crossbodies and totes.  I love a good touch of fringe and this bag is darling!

6.  Pave Sputnik Ear Jackets - I absolutely LOVE ear jackets and these are one of my favorite pairs! 

7.  Crystal Mason Ring - this ring is a great addition to any accessory collection.  It's simple and stunning all in the same breath! 

8.  V. Frass Plaid Ruana Poncho - again with the poncho/cape, but I LOVE this one and it's a great price, too!  This is similar to the one from WalMart I posted about last month (sold out last time I checked, but I heard they're getting more!)

9. Polka Dot Lounge Pants - I absolutely LOVE these!  They're on my list and I'm hoping to open them up this holiday season :)  I have a hard time buying lounge/sleepwear, slippers, & robes for myself and I love adding these types of things to my Christmas lists because I know I won't buy them for myself!

10. Kendra Scott Logan Stud Earrings - I love these studs.  Perfect for any outfit!

11. DKNY Soho Round Watch - such a welcome change from the bulky gold watches on the market.  This one is also on my list (hint, hint Mr. Spouse).  

12. Gold Antler Ring Dish - this is the cutest little ring dish at a great price!  Would make a great gift and/or stocking stuffer.

13. Rifle Paper Co. 17 Month Birch Floral Planner - the simpler the planner, the better.  And the fact that it's beautiful is a bonus :)  I love small and slender planners because they're easy to tote around if I need to and this one is a great price!

14. Tory Burch Perfume - if you're looking for a new fragrance I'd love to point you toward this one!  I've been wearing it for a couple of years and LOVE it.  And I'm in need of a refill!

15. Buffalo Plaid Henley PJ's - this is my favorite style PJ to wear and I love the VS version!  (Tops and bottoms sold separately)

16. UGG Dakota Slippers - again, not something I'd buy for myself even though I know I'd live in them at home!  These are on my list, too!  

17.  Little Book of Lettering & Brush Pen - If you're interested in learning how to hand letter, or know someone who is, I hear this is the book you want!  I would suggest pairing this with the Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens (my favorite!!!) and a spiral bound sketch book for practice :)

Now let's move on to a few gifts for the men in your life...

1.  Harry's Winston Set - I've seen rave reviews about this particular shave set and I know this is something the guys I love would adore.  You can also personalize/engrave the handle of the razor!

2.  iPad TV Stand - I love this vintage looking iPad TV stand and know a couple of guys who would love it as much as I do :)  A throwback to our childhood!

3.  Phone Case - this is a great phone case with lots of different style options.  Rugged and polished...I know my husband will love it!

4.  Bespoke Post Subscription Boxes - I'm a huge fan of subscription boxes and this site has the neatest!!! Lots of different options for the types of boxes your guy can receive.

5.  Philips Norelco Beard Trimmer 9100 with Laser Guide - this is the perfect gadget for the guy who  likes to keep his facial hair precisely trimmed and groomed.  

6.  Eddie Bauer Men's Quilted Pullover - this is such a great looking piece and something my husband would LOVE.  Love that the texture is different than what he normally wears, but the style is the same.

7.  Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow - we're huge Apatow fans at this house.  We love to laugh and this book will definitely keep your guy laughing!!  A great gift or stocking stuffer!

8. UGG Flip Mitt Convertible Gloves - the absolute PERFECT gloves/mitts for any man!!!

9. The Buckshot Pro - this is the neatest gadget!!!!  It's a Mr. Spouse MUST HAVE!  It's an all-in-one wireless speaker, camplight, power bank, flashlight, strobe light!!!  How cool is that?!

10. Timex Men's Expedition Field Chrono Bracelet Watch - nice watches don't always have to be fancy and expensive.  I love this one.

11. Heritor Automatic HR 1101 Thomson Mens Watch - goodness I love this watch.  I love that it's different than the standard gold/silver bands, but the face is what really sold me!

12. Timex Weekender Stainless Steel Watch with Interchangable Band - again with the different band.  I love the band paired with the darker face.  Such a great piece! 

13.  Huckberry EDC Kit with Key - This is the coolest everyday carry keyring!!!  Perfect for any guy!


These gifts are perfect for guys AND gals and they'd even make for great couple gifts as well :)

1.  Q & A A Day - this is such a neat concept.  A 2 person journal with prompts to get you and your special someone sharing and comparing.  And what a neat keepsake to look back at through the years!

2.  ULO - have y'all seen this?!  It's a surveillance camera perfect for any home and right now it's being sold through a kickstarter campaign.  We would LOVE this in our home!

3.  Moscow Mule Carry-On Cocktail Kit - his and hers carry-on cocktail kits for holiday travel?!  Yes, please!  Especially when it's a Moscow Mule :)

4.  Yeti Tumblers - yes, they're pricey.  But they are worth EVERY penny.  We started with the Yeti cooler about 4 years ago and then had to have the tumblers shortly thereafter.  We have the 20 and 30 oz. tumblers (I prefer the 20 oz. and Adam likes the 30 oz.) and we also have several koozies.  You can even get them dipped if you're not a fan of the stainless steel :)

5. Smartphone Projector - perfect for a couple gift!

6.  Wifi Crockpot - not just a woman's gift by any stretch of the means.  When my husband sees me pull this out, he knows he's in for a treat.  Dinner is guaranteed :)  This would be great for your mom/grandma/dad or anyone else who loves their meals in a slow cooker.

7. Wire 3-Tier Glass Drying Rack - if you know a couple who loves their morning coffee or tea, this would be a great gift to give them.  I LOVE sits right next to our Keurig and displays our favorite mugs.  

8.  Mirrored Boostcase - this is a great gift for him OR her.  It's a phone case with an attachable battery sleeve.  These are so great for people on-the-go or friends/family who travel.  

I tried to keep this list gender neutral, but I'm way more familiar with boys than I am with girls so this list might not work for all kids, but maybe it'll give you a few new ideas if you don't know what to get for the little sweeties in your life.  

1. Placemat Doodle Pads - great for home or taking with you when you go out to eat.  If you have kids, you know that it can sometimes be a struggle to keep them calm and occupied when you're dining out.  My kids love to doodle and these little color me placemats are perfect to keep them busy in between bites.

2.  VTech Kidizoom Action Cam - ohmiword.  My boys would LOVE this.  It's like a GoPro for kids!!!  How cool is that?! It comes in purple, too :)

3.  Qixels - these design cubes can be used to create characters and action figures and they fuse together using only water!!  Gotta love easy clean-up!

4. Lego Minecraft Crafting Box - We have lots of girls and boys in our neighborhood who come over to play Minecraft with the boys and they'd LOVE extending their play with this lego set!!!

5.  Construction Plate & Utensils - I know that this is something geared more toward the boys, but how fun is this?!  You know about my struggles with a picky eater.  You think this would help?!

6. View Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack - the View Master has upgraded since we were kids.  This works with a smartphone and an app and brings 3D viewing to a whole new level!

7. Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty - this isn't your average putty.  This is putty with magnetic properties and it comes in lots of different colors! A great gift or stocking stuffer!

8. Little Live Pets Clever Keet - I know a little lady who recently got this for her birthday and is obsessed. It's an interactive parakeet who mimics you when you talk to it. It's vocabulary grows the more it's talked to and there's no parakeet mess to clean up ;)

9. Can You Imagine Air Power Ultraglow Soccer Disk - this is an indoor/outdoor soccer disk that floats on air and glides over any surface.  There's a barrier of foam around the edge so that it won't damage furniture if the kids play with it inside.  Can you say rainy day/snow day fun?!

10.  Ozobot - from a teacher's point of view, this is an amazing tool for your kids to have!  It's a tiny programmable robot that introduces kids to the basics of coding and programming.  Great for boys AND girls. 


Hopefully these are just in time for your Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping.  

I'll be back early Friday to post 4 more gift guides geared toward the gamers, foodies, cocktail enthusiasts, and book lovers!!  

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Simple Sprinkle

Happy Monday!  Are y'all ready for Thanksgiving?! Or are you making last minute preparations and trips to the grocery store like me?!  I'm not hosting Thanksgiving at my house, but I can tell you I'll wait 'til the 9th hour to head to the grocery store and grab everything I need for my dinner contributions and then I'll be saying all sorts of unkind words about the insanity that is the market the day before a holiday.  Whew.  

In other news, this is my current view...

The boys have the week off, my baby niece arrives in the morning, and I'm going to stuff my face FULL on Thursday.  You could say I'm JOLLY as all get out :)

The house is officially decorated and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Since we spend quite a bit of time out of town over the holidays I love to decorate early so we have lots of time to enjoy it all.  Last year at this time I was hosting Christmas Week here on the blog.  I posted some of my favorite Christmas traditions, some Elf on the Shelf Ideas, Christmas decor, and a little Gift Guide.  Since my mind is focused on my new niece (arriving tomorrow morning!!!!) and Thanksgiving festivities, I'm going to hold off on Christmas Week and wait until Monday, 11/30, to start.  Here's how we'll kick off the holiday season...

If y'all are planning on doing some shopping this week, I'll be back with a few gift guides on Wednesday.  I think this is the first year I have lots of gifts already purchased.  The women in my families are all taken care of and Mr. Spouse will tackle all the men.  We haven't started shopping for the boys yet, but that won't take long.  We like to go by this gift rule:  something you want...something you need...something to play with...something to read.  Plus a few stocking stuffers and a traditional Christmas Eve gift from mom and dad.  Our families always do so much for the kids so Santa only delivers a few things.  Nothing crazy!  

In honor of my sister who is currently in her last few hours of pregnancy, I wanted to share with you the shower I helped host for her at the beginning of the month.  The theme was "Sprinkled with Love" because we were really just giving her a "sprinkle" and not a full blown invite everyone kind of baby shower.  She already has one little man so she didn't need anything huge, but since she's having a girl this go-round we did want to sprinkle her with a few girly things she doesn't have already :)

As you can see, the decor was super simple.  Her sprinkle was a week after Halloween and I didn't have time to decorate for Christmas, so I took down all the Halloween, kept all the white pumpkins out, and then strung together the pennants for baby Olivia's banner and hung it from the mantle. 
You can't really tell from the picture, but in the middle of the mantle is a set of 4 candle holders (from the Dollar Tree) filled with sprinkles and a tea light.  Couldn't have been easier!!!

Hobby Lobby carries the wooden pennants by letter.  I think they come in black and white, too.  They're $2 per pennant, but only a dollar if you wait 'til they're marked half off.  #winning

This is the table you see when you walk in the front door and we kept that as simple as possible.  I did a little chalk art and then set out a couple more sprinkle filled candle holders with tea lights.

Speaking of "sprinkle", here's what we did for the statement decor.  I made those very sad looking tissue paper clouds and the raindrops (using a pack of assorted pink cardstock).  I hung the clouds using fishing wire and did the same for the raindrops, too.  I wish I would've gotten a picture of the table completely decked out with food and whatnot, but this is as good as it gets.

I tried to mimic the same feel in the kitchen next to the drink station using balloons (for clouds) and those same raindrops.  I just taped the balloons and strands of raindrops to the curtain rod.  I'm not ashamed to tell you that there's still a rogue strand hanging from the curtain rod 3 weeks later.  #lazy

You might be able to see a chalkboard display in the picture above.  Here's how that looked up close

I just strung a few pieces of jute around the chalkboard and then attached mini clothespins to it.  I found those little kraft envelopes at Hobby Lobby and then cut the white pieces of cardstock to fit.  I set out a little pitcher of pens and labeled all of the envelopes with baby Olivia's name.  The idea behind this display was to have each of the guests write a little love note to Olivia...maybe a favorite scripture, a piece of advice, or whatever they wanted.  Then they put their notes in the kraft envelopes and hung them on the chalkboard using the clothespins.  After everyone had a chance to write a note to Olivia, my sister chose one note off the board, read it aloud, and then that guest got to take home a door prize (a chalkboard with the verse, "every good and perfect gift is from above" and a $5 Starbuck's gift card).  I wanted all the envelopes to have matching handwriting so that it would be fair :)

Speaking of gifts, here's what we gave to our guests....

These darling little test tubes full of "sprinkles" :)  We tried to find bath confetti, but dear was an exercise in futility.  I couldn't find any anywhere.  Even Amazon failed me.  Instead we used the chiclets gum for the sprinkles and it was a perfect fit.  And let's be real...there probably wouldn't have been many party guests who would actually put the bath confetti to good use, so I think the gum was a great substitute!

Last but not least, we decorated my little buffet with a "Ready to POP!" bar.   I found the cutest little confetti sprinkled goody bags at Hobby Lobby and set those out so that our guests could fill their bags with whatever they wanted....popcorn with sprinkles, blow pops, ring pops, and bubble gum. 
This was a hit with the kids (are you surprised?! Ha!)

The shower/sprinkle was at 1 in the afternoon, so we served a light lunch and drinks.  Here's how the menu panned out...

Iced Tea


Aunt Gina's chicken salad served with crackers and croissants

Fruit Salad
Chips and Spinach Dip

Cupcakes with Sprinkles
Donuts with Sprinkles
Sprinkle Cookies

Hard to believe that I'll be holding that sweet little sack of sugar by this time tomorrow!!!!  My heart is full!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

3 Out of 4 Approve This Dinner

One of my favorite meals to cook this time of year...and clear through soup.  ANY kind of soup will do.  I'm grateful I have a husband who loves this fare as much as I do and requests it often.  My boys?!  Notsomuch.  I decided I was tired of being a short order cook and I recently told them if I cooked it, they'd have to eat it.  Whatever dad and I are having for dinner, they'll be eating, too. If they don't eat, they go to bed without food.  This is no problem for my youngest.  He'll try anything and 9 times out of 10 he loves it all.  His favorite?!  Venison.  

My oldest is a completely different story.  Our kids don't come with instruction booklets as much as I wish they did.  I wish there were some way I could definitively tell if I'm screwing them up for life (I'm certain they're doomed thanks to my parenting skills...or lack thereof).   For now it's all just a guessing game  :)  All that to be said, we catered to our oldest's every like/dislike when he was just a toddler and we're paying for it all these years later. don't like that ham & cheese sandwich I meticulously prepared for you with crust cut off and the ham & cheese layered just perfectly?!  No problem.  Here's your processed mac & cheese.  In just a short matter of time, he turned into the pickiest little eater who is terrified of trying new foods. Like hyperventilating and crying kind of picky.  TOTALLY OUR FAULT!!!!  Dangit!!!!!

When I'm cooking dinner I typically make a main course for myself & Mr. Spouse and then make something entirely different for the boys so I can continue to cater to the food preferences of my oldest (cue all the eye rolls...I'm definitely one of those moms).   Sometimes the battle just isn't worth it.  When we were growing up and didn't like what mom made for dinner we had the option of eating a bowl of cereal instead.  I'd be happy to offer up that same option to LJ, but he doesn't like cereal either.  He does eat veggies with every meal...typically green beans, broccoli, or peas.  He loves fruit (any variety) like nobody's business.  And he would live off of yogurt and crackers if I let him.  When it comes to my cooking, he is much more reluctant to eat.  

He tells me that certain textures freak him this soup....or any soup for that matter.  He just can't take it!  Bums me out because I feel like he'd love it if he'd just try it!!  I'd love to tell you that this soup is so amazing my entire family devoured it in one sitting, but our one little reluctant eater refused to take a bite.  He sure did have a big breakfast the next morning though.  While he may not have been as excited about this meal as I was hoping, I can tell you that the rest of us LOVED it to pieces!!!  3 out of 4 most definitely approve this dinner and we definitely consumed the entire pot in one sitting.  #sorrynotsorry


2 C. dry egg noodles
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 1/2 TBSP. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 raw carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans of chicken broth
3 TBSP. chopped parsley
salt & pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
1/4 C. butter
1/4 C. + 2 TBSP. all purpose flour
2 1/2 C. milk
1/3 C. heavy cream

Let me just start by saying that my soup is on the creamy/chunky not-so-brothy side because I WAY overdid it on the egg noodles.  I think I doubled the amount it called for...whoops!  Still amazing, just thicker than normal :)

That to be said, start by cooking the egg noodles first according to package directions...only the amount required unless you want yours to be thick and chunky like mine.  When ready, remove from heat and drain.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onions, celery, and carrots.  We left the celery out because I didn't have any on hand.  Saute for about 4-5 minutes, add garlic, and saute for another minute or so.

Now toss in the chicken broth, parsley, and bay leaves.  Stir to combine ingredients, take a little taste, and add the salt and pepper as desired.  

Add chicken and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook until the chicken is heated/cooked through (no more pink!!)

In a separate saucepan, heat butter until melted.  Add flour and whisk constantly until the mixture is a little on the thick side (about 2 minutes-ish).  Now add the milk and continue to whisk until the lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth.

Add the heavy cream to the mixture in the separate saucepan and bring to a boil.  Be sure to continue to whisk while the the mixture comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and add to the soup/broth mixture in your large pot.  

Now toss in the cooked egg noodles to the soup/milk mixture and stir to combine.


While I know this dinner is approved by only 3 out of 4 family members I can guarantee to you that the three of us who loved it are spot on in our critique of this meal :)  It was AMAZING!!  I always love a good chicken noodle soup, but making it creamy made it that much better...even if I did add too many egg noodles.   With the cooler months ahead you'll definitely want this recipe in your arsenal of comfort's SOUPer!!!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What the Teacher Wore Wednesday

I had to pull a little disappearing act this past week because conference season has started. When I'm prepping for travel I have to scale back on everything else so that I can focus on my presentations and packing all.this.STUFF!!!!

 Last week was especially crazy because I was also getting ready to host a baby shower for my sister. We had the shower on Saturday and then I left for Indiana on Sunday.  Whirlwind!!!

I'll be traveling again next week so I may go underground again, but I'm a lot less stressed now that the first one is over.  Speaking of stressed, I had my very first anxiety attack last week.  I'm a pretty laid back person...probably too laid back...and I don't get stressed easily.  I guess I was more stressed than I thought!  That was the scariest thing!  Bless those of you who suffer from anxiety/panic attacks...I wouldn't wish that on anyone!

I'm linking up today with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday.  Nothing special, but now that conference season has started I'm actually getting dressed :)  

I hosted my sister's baby shower last Saturday and it was really warm outside, so I threw on my favorite dress and some wedges.  Halfway through the shower the rain blew in and it cooled off considerably outside, so I ran in the room and changed into boots and threw on a sweater.  Wedges were clearly a bad choice.  In other news, I'm SO excited to welcome my new niece in a few short weeks.  #allthepink

This dress couldn't be more comfortable...and cute.  It's great paired with wedges, but I thought it was perfect with boots, too.  Some of the reviews on the dress say that it sits in an awkward place on the torso and it's too loose on the top, but I don't think so at all.  I have a really short torso, so maybe that's why it works for me?!  

Military Shirt Dress:  American Eagle
Cardigan:  Hazel & Olive (I can't find this color, but here it is in burgundy and here it is in teal)

We headed over to mom & dad's for Sunday Funday the next afternoon.  She made my favorite...shrimp scampi over pasta.  The boys insisted on bringing Bean Boozled so the whole family could play.  Let me just say that lawn clippings aren't terrible, but Adam almost passed out from the skunk spray.  Never laughed harder!!!!   It was a little chilly on Sunday...and by chilly I mean 70 it made sense for my Texas blood to wear a cardigan and jeans.  PLUS, I was going to be traveling that night and I didn't want to change.  I'm always cold when I fly and I knew I'd need a sweater!  

When I travel for conferences I always carry 1-2 big suitcases full of presentation materials and check those, then I like to carry on my laptop and projector.  I'm too scared to pack those away.  I take my favorite laptop crossbody which nicely fits my 15.5 in" laptop, several cords, and my notebooks and I also carry on an oversized purse that holds my projector and makeup bag.  I carry on my makeup in case my luggage gets lost...presenting with no makeup would most definitely scare away all of the participants :)  These bags are the perfect size and really easy to carry and they both fit underneath the seat without being squished!!!

If you're looking for another cardigan to add to your collection, this one is cute and comfy.  Target's outerwear is on point this season!!!  This really was the perfect traveling outfit.  So comfy!

Cardigan:  Target  
White tee: Target
Purse: Neiman Marcus Last Call (here it is in black)

When I present I like to be comfy, but still professional and cute.  I have my go-to presentation outfits and because I was racing around like a mad woman on Sunday, I just grabbed what was easy without having to give it too much thought.  This is an outfit I wear quite frequently.  I'm standing on my feet and talking for 5 hours out of the day, so I don't want anything too crazy...and the rooms start out warm and end up pretty chilly by the end of the day, so I need coziness and comfort.  Plus, it was pretty darn cold in Indiana the last couple of days (cold for this Texas girl, anyway).

Tunic: local boutique a few years ago
Leggings: Hazel & Olive

On my second day of sessions, I'm all about what's easy and comfortable.  I fly back home as soon as my last session is over, so I don't want to wear dresses those days since I'll be on a plane...I get too cold!  I typically change into flats so I can scoot through security without falling down as I try to remove my boots (speaking from experience.  #noshame)  An oversized piko, leggings, and poncho fits the bill perfectly.  It was like wearing pajamas and a blanket to work ;)  And let me just tell you that I think my Walmart poncho is my favorite find of the season!  I LOVE this thing!!!

Leggings: Target

As much as I hate being away from the kids, I have to say that I love spending time with adults.  Not to mention the time I get to spend alone for just a few short hours.  I don't make the time to read when I'm home because there's so much around here that needs to be done and I suffer from serious self-inflicted guilt.  If I'm home, I feel like I should either be working or cleaning/cooking.  When the boys are home, I'm spending time with them.  I was SO excited to dive into this book on my trip.  This has been on my reading list since it was released and I'm SO happy I finally had the time to read it!  I've loved Jen Hatmaker and her writing since forever and this book was probably the best thing I've read in a long time!  The flight from Houston to Indy is about 2 hours & 40 minutes either way...I started it on the way there and finished it on the way back.  Quick read and so entertaining and uplifting.  I was sitting on the plane and laughing/snorting out loud and then 5 seconds later I'd be in tears.  #allthefeels  

When I fly out on Sunday, I'll start reading this book.  Several of the girls in my bible study suggested it and couldn't say enough good things about it.  Can't wait!!!  

I'll be back tomorrow with some baby "sprinkle" ideas!  We had so much fun at my sister's :)  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Leftover Candy= Decadent Dessert

It's the Monday after Halloween weekend and I am still suffering from a candy hangover.  And lack of sleep.  My groggy disposition today was worth it.  Even through the pouring rain, we still managed to enjoy our fun-filled Halloween weekend like crazy.

I went to a costume party with some friends on Friday night while Mr. Spouse was working one of his last football games of the season.  Since we weren't going together, I went as a wind-up baby doll.  I had everything on hand so it was cheap and easy!  My boys were extremely creeped out and refused to give me hugs and kisses as I was leaving.  

We had our friends and family over Saturday night for a little trick-or-treating and Halloween party fun.  I made my traditional pot of chicken tortilla soup....

...and Mr. Spouse dressed up the trailer with hay bales and Halloween lights to take us all trick-or-treating.  Like I said before, it rained like crazy, but that didn't stop us.  We took the umbrellas and rain boots and made the best of it.  There was nothing stopping the kids from getting their holiday candy fix.  When we got home from our hay ride we had a few trick-or-treaters still stopping by, so my oldest insisted on handing out the candy while the grown-ups played :)  He was giving out huge handfuls and when he reached the bottom of the stash he started giving out his own candy.  He has the sweetest, most giving little heart.

My mom dressed up this year and her black lips and black hair scared the pieces out of my nephew.  And while we're talking about my nephew, let me just tell you that his costume was nothing short of amazing.  He went as Marty McFly riding a hoverboard and dad went as Doc.  The boys went as a ninja and police officer and I decided to change into something a little more kid friendly so I went as a deer :)  Mr. Spouse was going to dress up as a hunter, but had a last minute costume change and dressed as one of his friends which made us all laugh more than it should have.  Hilarious.

I also made sure to grab a Count Frappula frappucino before Starbuck's stopped serving it after Halloween.  I'm pretty sure I drank all of my calories..and then some.. that day :)  

Speaking of calories, this cake is definitely not lacking in them.  But that's a good thing because the caloric intake is definitely worth it.  I served this candy topped dessert in honor of the sweet holiday and there wasn't a crumb left in the pan by the end of the night.  This was a frightfully delightful dessert and a new family...and friend...favorite.  And ridiculously easy to make, too.   If you have any leftover Reese's hangin' around, you NEED to make this asap!  


1 box chocolate cake mix 
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 C. creamy peanut butter
12 oz. Cool Whip, divided
12 oz. hot fudge, divided
8-10 Reese's peanut butter cups, crumbled

To prep this decadent dessert, you'll need to bake your cake according to the directions on the box. Bake in a 9x13 baking dish.  When it's baked and ready, remove from oven and immediately poke all over with a fork.

While the cake is still warm, heat up the hot fudge in the microwave and pour about 3/4  over the poked cake so that it all soaks in.

Set aside for about 20-25 minutes and allow cake to cool.  

In a large bowl, mix together the softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk.  

Now add the peanut butter and mix until combined.

And finally, add half of the cool whip and mix until smooth.

Now spread the peanut butter mixture on top of the cake.  

Top with the remainder of the Cool Whip and hot fudge and crumble the Reese's peanut butter cups on top of that to finish it all off.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

This was one of the most decadent desserts my taste buds have ever enjoyed.  It was the perfect combination of chocolate, peanut butter, and everything else :)  Like I said earlier, this was worth every little calorie I consumed and there wasn't a bite left in the pan when the night came to an end.  The perfect addition to our holiday buffet.  Can't wait to serve this again!