Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Fives

It's Friday, already? In some ways this week went by fast, but the days themselves were slow (if that makes any sense, probably not). Here are some of the things I've enjoyed throughout the week that have gotten me to another weekend!

1. Call me a 16 year old girl, but Tay Swift's 1989 album has been blaring in my car all week. Usually I've got an alternative radio station on, playing some indie/alt rock, but this week I went full-blown T-Swfit. No joke, I think I've listened to Style at least 30 times.

2. The Funny or Die Weather App Because who doesn't need a little sarcasm/life advice while they get the local weather forecast?

3. Speaking of weather, the biggest mid-week pick-me-up happened when Kansas decided to be 75 degrees outside, for one whole day. Nate and I took advantage of the 24 hours of beautiful weather by taking the pigs pugs out for a long walk. Now it's 40 degrees outside with a chance of snow this weekend. Oh mid-west weather, why must you be such a tease?

4. The Better Homes and Garden's email list. 99% of my emails I throw in the trash bin without even bothering to open them up, but I always open up my BHG email. This week included some fun DIY V-Day crafts. Since I love me a good crafting day, I bought all the stuff to make these painted mason jars. Fingers crossed they turn out so I have a good excuse to get some fresh flowers!

5. Salon days. My hair stylist is the best, so the days I make the trek to visit my hair stylist are always my fave. All week I've been looking forward to my appointment tomorrow in which I'll come in feeling like a grungy root-showing monster and come out feeling like a million bucks.

Headless photo necessary since I had yet to be beautified
Happy weekend!


Monday, January 26, 2015

The most over-due Baby Shower Recap

One of the most major life events that occurred this past year (that I haven't documented yet) was my sweet sister-in-law and her husband bringing our nephew into this world. Christmas 2013 they broke the news to the family, and I think the first words out of my mouth after offering congratulations was "dibs on throwing your baby shower!"

This was my first experience throwing a baby-shower, and I enjoyed every moment of planning it. Once they found out she was having a little boy, I gathered up all the inspiration I could find for boy-themed showers. After thumbing through some good ideas on Pintrest, I settled on a mustache themed shower with grey-chevron (one of the colors/patterns in his nursery) and blue colors.

The shower was going to be a big event with 40+ people on the guest list, so I did as much work beforehand as possible. This included putting together a diaper cake, sewing some grey-chevron table runners together, making a sweet banner and getting all the supplies.

Crafts I did before the shower:

This banner was the easiest to make, and was $10 worth of materials vs. $30-$50 for banners I saw on Etsy.

Hard to tell, but these were supposed to be bow-tie shaped

Mustache straws were a must!

Bought this off of Etsy - so cute!

Since the shower was slated for the spring, we took a chance on the Kansas weather and decided to host it outdoors. Luckily, the weather was perfect (albeit a little windy) the day of and we were able to set up a tent with tables and chairs in my backyard. Everything went off without a hitch and it was a great afternoon of getting to celebrate my SIL and my future nephew.

Went with fresh flowers from the Farmer's market for table centerpieces

Vanilla and buttercream cupcakes

Glitter cake pops - not my best work, but pretty enough considering all the work to be done!

Lemon cupcakes 
One of the only pictures of me for the day - had a chance to take a quick photo with my SIL's BFF

The best picture I got of the table put together. Those balloons did NOT want to stay upright!

Fun blue punch

One last shot of all the yummy desserts!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Recipe Review

Well hello there!

Since last making my New Year's Resolutions I've been off to a good start. Every month I'm planning to do a recap of where I am in the list.

One of these goals included trying new recipes.

I've admitted it before and I will again - I loathe cooking. If I could just come home every night and have a healthy, yummy dinner prepared for me, I totally would. I hear there's a way to have that done, but it requires something called a "Personal Chef." Turns out hiring someone to cook you dinner every night doesn't lend itself to being inexpensive, so it's off to the interwebs I go for some easy meal ideas.

A lot of the time I search Pintrest for recipes. After stumbling across 10-15 pins this time around, I found one for Skinnytaste Baked Chicken Parmesean. One of my must-haves when finding a dish to cook is that it have minimal weird/costly ingredients (you lose me when there's 20+ items required), and that it sounds/looks yummy. Check, check and check.

In my version, I used what I had on hand, which was plain (not Italian seasoned) bread crumbs and regular shredded mozzarella. I also dipped the chicken in egg white to get the bread crumb mixture on there a little better instead of using butter, and then I spritzed it with olive oil before baking. Oh, and in the future I will spray the pan before baking (the underside of the chicken stuck to the parchment paper so I wasn't able to flip halfway through cooking).

I'm definitely not a food photographer, but I think it looks pretty good!

I served this with a light Cesar salad kit and some veggies. It was a delish meal with lots of flavor and was easy to put together. It will definitely be a repeat dish in our home as it even got the husband seal of approval.

1 new recipe down, 5 more to go! If you have an easy and healthy go-to recipe, please share!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Annual Christmas Cookie Baking Day

Every year for the past 3 years, my galpal Jenny and I (check her awesome blog) have a marathon baking day for Christmas. We come up with a handful of recipes and put our baking skills together (hers being more refined than mine) to create trays upon trays of treats for our friends and family.

Better Homes and Gardens is where we've gotten the majority of our recipes from years past that have proven to be winners. If you're into holiday baking/crafting, they have a 100 Days of Holidays e-mail newsletter that I highly recommend signing up for.

The recipes we tackled this year:

Cherry Almond Ornament Cookies - Super easy to make and a personal favorite, these taste like a sugar cookie with a cherry twist. I substitute the candied cherries in the dough with maraschino cherries that I put through the food processor. Piping on the cream cheese frosting is also the easiest (and prettiest) way to go.

Christmas Cookie Bark - This one was an easy (and tasty) addition to this year's lineup. The biggest tip I'd have is to keep your sprinkles handy as soon as you start pouring the almond bark/chocolate over your mix. The chocolate will cool fast and you'll want to make sure you're not scrambling at the last minute to dump half a tub of sprinkles on your chocolate just for it to fall off. I may or may not be speaking from experience...

Chocolaty Caramel Thumbprints - These require a little more TLC than most run-of-the-mill cookies, but they're worth it. The chewy caramel and crunchy pecans add a whole other level of texture to this delicious cookie. A great modification of this recipe would be to sprinkle a little sea salt on top of the caramel.

Sugar cookies. These beauties I cannot take credit for as Jenny had the patience and skill to craft them while I was working on other recipes. These can be made with any sugar cookie and royal icing recipe (to see the one Jenny used read about it here). They were the prettiest addition to our plates, and delicious to boot.

Chocolate Crinkle Kiss Cookies - These ones were fairly simple, delicious chocolate cookies with a festive kiss on top. Ours were a little melt-y due to our cookies being too warm when we put the kiss on top, but could be easily prevented by sticking the cookies in the fridge while they're still warm.

Overall all the recipes were a success, with the Cherry Cookies and the Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints ranking as my personal faves. I'm already looking forward to making some new (and old) recipes for next year!


15 Things For 2015

Yes. That's right. I'm jumping on the New Year's Resolution bandwagon. Truth be told, I'm not really one for making resolutions (or keeping them for that matter), but it doesn't hurt to have goals, right? I tried to come up with a list of attainable things I want to accomplish for his year, while leaving out (most) of the stereotypical resolutions.

  1. Try 6 new recipes that aren't desserts (and post the review/recipe on here). This may sound simple, but while I love baking I loathe cooking.
  2. Read 5 new books. I'm currently ready Amy Poehler's Yes Please, but since I'm less than halfway done with it, I'll count it as my first one.
  3. Try something that takes me out of my comfort zone.
  4. Take pictures for at least 4 family functions.
  5. Hang pictures of family/friends on the walls (this sounds simple, but our home has had nearly bare walls...for almost 2 years)
  6. Send a birthday card in the mail to 3 friends/family members.
  7. Do an act of kindness.
  8. Visit 3 places I've never been before. 
  9. Follow a clean eating or whole 30 plan for a week (hopefully longer, but baby steps, right?)
  10. Work back up to running a 5k again, straight through. Since the half-marathon we did 2 years ago (yeesh, time flies) I took a hiatus from running, and have never quite gotten back in the groove. Better late than never, right?
  11. Blog at least 24 times. Truth be told I suck at this, but maybe 2015 will be the year to be more consistent!
  12. Clean out/organize all of the closets in our house. 
  13. Surprise my husband in some way.
  14. Do a house project.
  15. Go visit a friend that lives in another state. Settling in a college town means that the majority of our friends over the years have moved, and seeing them is long overdue.  

So there's my list! It's a tall order, but all achievable as well. Here's to 2015 being the best year yet!