Friday, June 29, 2012

Week in Pictures, playing with boxes & a winner!

It's Friday at last! That means closer to moving time for us. Our house is full of boxes and a whole lot of nothing else since it's all been packed away. Our move date has been pushed back due to unforeseen delays, but we're excited to get this show on the road. In the meantime, we're trying to eat all of the food in our house and as you can tell by the bottom left photo, that means dinners that consist of graham crackers, apples, and peanut butter some days. Good thing peanut butter is one of my favorite foods :)

Connor is loving having all of the boxes around though. We literally played with a box for 20 minutes a couple of nights ago. Why do we even buy this kid toys anyway? I've never seen him have so much fun. I just had to share a video with you (first time uploading a video, so hopefully it works):


video

I love this boy, he's so entertaining.

Another highlight of my week was when I received the beautiful hand painted bag in the collage above from Lucy at Craftberry Bush! She's so talented, I wish I could paint like her. Or paint at all for that matter. It's so pretty I kind of don't want to use it because I'm afraid I'll get it dirty or something :)

Well enough about me, it's time to announce the winner of the Quick Guide Giveaway! After plugging all entries into Random.org, the lucky winner is:

#7, Jessica who said: "I would love to know more about how to get back in shape and be a good wife/life balance once a baby comes."

 Congrats Jessica! I hope you enjoy your Quick Guide! An email has been sent to the winner.

Remember, even if you didn't win, Lianne is selling her book in paperback or PDF form on her website for only $7.95. 

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Red, White and Blueberry Trifle

With the 4th of July only 6 days away, I thought I'd share one of my favorite 4th of July treats with you. I shared here on my blog 2 years ago, but I thought it'd be good to share it again since many of you probably haven't read about it yet, and because it's just an amazing dessert :)  


What is a trifle, you ask? It's basically a fancy word for a layered dessert full of yummy things like cheesecake pudding, cake and chocolate. Ever since I started bringing this dessert to my friends' parties, they never let me leave without giving them the recipe. Keep reading to learn how to make one too!

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I don't know about you, but my favorite thing about the 4th of July (aside from the fireworks) is the food. The 4th is a great excuse to dust off the grill, cut up a giant watermelon, and enjoy time with friends and family between bites of traditional BBQ food.


A few years back, a friend of mine brought a delicious trifle to a BBQ that was unforgettable. I had never had trifle before, but after one bite I was hooked. She gave me the recipe (which is surprisingly simple!) and I've probably made this for friends and family more times than any other dessert since then.


Traditionally, a trifle consists of layers sponge cake with brandy or rum and custard and whipped cream, but there are tons of different variations to this dessert. This particular version has no alcohol in it. The fresh strawberries and blueberries, along with the whipped cream, make this dessert surprisingly refreshing.

Ingredients:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 small packages of Jello brand instant cheesecake pudding
  • 1 large container of fresh strawberries
  • 1 small container of fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup of Cool Whip whipped cream, softened
  • 1 package of white chocolate chips
*Note: If you're making this for a party, make it a few hours ahead rather than overnight. The juices from the strawberries tend to soak the cake somewhat, so this dessert is best served right away.

Recipe:
Prepare cake mix according to package and let cool. (You will only need 1 of the prepared cakes, so only make 1/2 of the box if you want, or you can do what my husband and I do and make both so you can frost and eat the other cake later :) While your cake is cooling, prepare both boxes of pudding according to the directions on the box. Set aside 2/3 cup of pudding to be used for the topping later.

Rinse blueberries and strawberries, then cut up strawberries into slices and coat with sugar if desired.

Cut up cake into bite-sized pieces and layer 1/2 of the pieces in the bottom of a trifle dish or other large glass dish. Layer all of the pudding on top (except your reserve), followed by 1/2 bag of white chocolate chips, 1/2 of the blueberries, 1/2 of the strawberries, and lastly the remaining cake cubes.

Combine the reserved cheesecake pudding with the 1 cup Cool Whip and mix well. Pour mixture over top. Use the remaining fruit and white chocolate chips to decorate the top of the trifle (or just toss them on top, no one will mind, they'll be too busy eating :)

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quick Guide Giveaway

***This giveaway is now closed***


When my daughter was born 3 years ago, I lay in my hospital bed holding my new little baby with a swarm of questions buzzing through my head. How often do I change her? What do I do if she's fussy and won't calm down? What if she gets a fever? It was exhausting trying to figure out all of the "what if's" while functioning on very little sleep. As a new mom, I wanted to be the best one I could, but I still had so much to learn. 

Three years and two kids later, I can say I made it through babyhood and can answer most baby questions like a seasoned vet. But I venture to say most new mom's feel just as I did - excited but a little scared and full of a lot of questions. Luckily for all of us, Lianne, a mother of four, answered all of those questions for us an compiled them in a postcard-sized booklet for easy reference. 

Lianne's Quick Guide booklet is a comprehensive guide for parents of children ages 0-6 months old. It covers all of the basics from newborn care to basic development questions and everything in between. The booklet is small, so it's easy to pack in a hospital bag or purse, and would make a great gift for any new parent (I sure wish I had one when I had my daughter!)

Lianne has offered to give away one of her quick guides to one of my readers (even all of my wonderful international readers :) so that you can keep it for your own reference, or maybe gift it to a friend (hello baby shower!)

To enter, just do one (or both) of the following:
1. Tell me why you would like a Quick Guide
2. Give me one question or subject that you would like to know more about

Please make sure you leave your email address in your comment if it's not linked to your profile so I can contact you if you win! The giveaway will be opened until midnight on June 28th CST, and the winner will be announced here the next day.

And, even if you don't win, Lianne is selling her book in paperback or PDF form on her website for only $7.95, so go grab a copy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Knotted suede bracelets


I don't usually like to wear bracelets. I have skinny little wrists, so I can never seem to find one that fits just right. The bracelet usually ends up dangling loosely from my wrist as I write, and my handwriting already looks like a 3rd grade boy's, so I don't really need something that might make it even worse.

Despite my reservations, I was browsing the craft section recently on a trip to Wally World, and I spotted some suede cording that was just screaming to be made into bracelets. I'm in love with all of the pretty friendship bracelets and layering bracelets I've been seeing everywhere, so I grabbed some cording and beads and came up with these great knotted bracelets that get even ME to love wearing multiple bracelets all the time.


First to determine the length you need, wrap the cording loosely around your wrist. You need a length that is a little over 4 times your wrist size (it may seem big, but you'll be folding the cord in half and making lots of knots so if you're in doubt, make it too long so you have more to work with.) I have skinny little wrists, and my total length was 36 inches.


If you have small beads, you may want to snip the ends of your cording to make it easier to thread your beads on. Next, fold your cord in half and tie an overhand knot at the end to make a loop for the closure. Finally, thread your first bead on and tie a knot a little bit below the bead. Thread another bead on the side opposite where you strung the first bead and tie another knot. Repeat. Tie a knot at the end of the bracelet to finish.


Now you have a pretty knotted bracelet! You can buy all sorts of different colored suede cording and beads. I made a black and tan one, they go with everything :)

 
Layer them or wear one by itself, they're cute either way!


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Friday, June 22, 2012

Week in Pictures

It's Friday, friends, time for another relaxing weekend....but not for me! I'm totally fine with it though because WE'RE PACKING! That's right, we finally got an offer on our house and we're making the big move to PA. We've been waiting for this day since February, and it's finally happening. We'll be close to family for once, and away from the concrete jungle here in Tennessee. We're so excited (and exhausted from packing!) so I will probably be taking a backseat to blogging here soon so we can get everything packed up and finalize everything on our house.

In the meantime, we're enjoying our remaining time here in Tennessee while we can. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A weird favorite

Do you have a favorite food that's a little strange? I've always loved eating strawberry shortcake with milk. It's something my mom got me hooked on when I was little, and to this day I have to have my shortcake drenched in milk. It may sound like a strange combination, but the milk just cuts through all of the sugary whipped cream and tart berries and makes the dessert almost refreshing. You almost forget you're eating dessert.


The whole thing gets even better if you make your own whipped cream to smother everything in.

What? Homemade whipped cream? Oh yes.

When we got married, my husband insisted on making homemade whipped cream instead of buying the canned stuff. For some reason, I had never thought to make whipped cream from scratch before. It's funny how there are some things we've all just grown up buying our whole lives and never stopped to think, "Hey, I bet I could make that." If you've never tried making whipped cream before, it's totally worth it, especially if you have gourmet vanilla like the kind we got in Cozumel on our honeymoon 4 years ago. Mmm...

Once I cover my shortcake in homemade whipped cream, next comes the milk....

Then of course, you have to get the perfect spoonful with a bit of strawberry, shortcake, milk and whipped cream all in one bite.

Connor sensed there was food someone wasn't sharing with him and toddled over to see what was up. I think I may have another convert judging by his whipped cream-covered mouth.


What about you? Is there an odd food or food combination like my milk and shortcake that's a favorite of yours?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Garlic Roasted Asparagus


My husband is a man who knows what he likes. When we first got married, I tried making him the meals that I grew up on. The problem is that most of those meals involved mushrooms, which happen to be the number one food on his "foods that make me gag" list.

I once made salmon patties, which is a food that my mom has made for my brother and I since we were young. After 3 bites, Patrick declared that the sandwiches were made of pure evil and wouldn't go near them again. He was sick for two days after that, which he still blames on the salmon patties.

After much trial and error, we found a middle ground with garlic. We put garlic in most of our dishes, and asparagus is one of our favorites. Many of you probably have a dislike for asparagus because you may have been force-fed it as a child. I challenge you to give it another try! Asparagus is actually not a very scary vegetable at all. It has many numerous health benefits, and it also has great flavor, especially when paired with garlic and cheese.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese.


FIRST // preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, wash your asparagus and cut the tough ends of the off.

NEXT // place your asparagus on a cookie sheet in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil. Next, sprinkle with salt, pepper and generous amounts of minced garlic. Toss to coat.

LAST // sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and cook for 11 minutes.
 

Roasted asparagus has become a favorite at our house, I hope you enjoy this recipe as well!

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Waffles for dinner


Because sometimes when Daddy's gone, you just don't want to cook :)

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wire wrapped gemstone tutorial


As I mentioned yesterday, we just got back from a relaxing vacation to Asheville, NC. While we were there, we also visited the town of Chimney Rock, which happens to have some of the cutest shops with killer deals, including these amazing new moccasins that I've been trying to wear with every outfit I own. One of my favorite parts was gem mining, where we got a big bucket full of sand and gems that we sifted through to find our treasures. We were total tourists, but it was a blast. Especially when we came back with bags full of these:


Of course, I couldn't just let these pretty gems just sit around, so I thought I'd show you a quick tutorial on how to turn rough (uncut, unpolished) gems into great little charms for necklaces or bracelets. Please keep in mind that I've never done this before and I'm sure there's a much better technique, but it worked for me! Also, this works best with gems that have rough edges to catch the beading wire on.

Supplies:
  • Rough gems
  • 20 gauge (or more) beading wire
  • Round nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Jump ring
  • Jewelry glue (optional)

Start by placing the end of the silver beading wire on the middle of the back of your gem. Begin carefully and slowly wrapping the wire around your gem, making sure to overlap the end of your beading wire. Once you feel like you've secured the gem properly, cut the end of your wire roughly 1 1/2 inches from your gem with wire cutters. Twist your wire up through your last row, and use your round nose pliers to create a loop. Snip extra. Finish by adding a jump ring. If you want to be extra careful, dab a few drops of jewelry glue where the wire meets the gemstone.


You could leave your charm by itself, or add other embellishments like feathers or beads. Have fun turning your treasures into jewelry!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Asheville, NC vacation


We're back from our crazy awesome trip to Asheville, NC and man is it hard to get back to real life! We had such a great time hanging out with family for a week, it was just so nice to get away from all the stress of "real life" for awhile and enjoy the gorgeous mountains (which Memphis is sadly lacking.) 

Our trip started out pretty rocky when our GPS misguided us up a VERY windy mountain, which caused both of my kids to get carsick (one in the car, which is my very least favorite thing in the world btw.) After we slowly made our way back down the mountain and finally got there, it was nothing but r&r as we settled into the lake house for a week. We did a lot of shopping, pontoon boating, and LOTS of hot tub time. Consequently I've decided I need a hot tub in the very near future (husband, if you're reading this take notes.) Nothing major, just a nice big hot tub. With cup holders for my wine, because hot tubbing becomes super classy with wine.
Of all the things we did all week though, my favorite thing was the gem mining. It gave us all instant gratification - you buy a bucket full of sand with gems buried in it and sift the sand out so you always get gems in your bucket - and it was SO much fun for all of us, me included! You just dump shovels full of sand into the little sifter thingy (there has to be an official title for it, but there you go) and just sift all the sand out until you find your treasures. Connor even got into the fun, but we had to rescue several of the rocks from being eaten. We got a lot of great gems, and I plan on posting a tutorial soon on how to make jewelry out of some of the gems we found!

All in all it was a pretty great week but it went by way too fast. I guess vacations are like that though, aren't they?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Week in Pictures and A Winner!

1. Happy birthday to my husband! 2. A little weekend crafting 3. MIB ice cream at Baskin Robbins 
4. Enjoying some ice cream 5. Haley's new froggy friend 6. Yummy donuts

Happy Friday everyone! I hope everyone's week has been wonderful, and that your weekend is even better. As you can see from my pictures, we did a lot of eating this week! My parents were in town, so that's my excuse :) We balanced all the fruits and veggies we bought from the farmers market with a lot of junk food. The kids got spoiled, and so did we. My husband also celebrated his birthday yesterday, which was a great excuse to get a double decker cookie cake. And yes, it was as good as it looks :)

So now onto the winner of the Designed Beginnings wall decal giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered, I wish I could give a decal to each of you :) After plugging all the entries into Random.org, the winner is.....


Lucky number 4, Jackie!

Congrats to the winner, an email has been sent. I will be taking a little time off this week to spend time with family. See you all in a week or so!

P.S. Happy National Donut Day!

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