Friday, October 17, 2014

The Luscious List

I've been wanting to write, but so much has gone on in my life the past few months. Sometimes (like this morning) it's a good diversion. I was up early (4:45 to be exact!) and took a fitness class at 5:45. So I am up drinking another cup of coffee. My uncle passed away this week and it's devastating. I wish I could take the pain away from my Aunt and cousins. I wish I could give them strength. The only thing I can do is be there for them and to support and love them. This quote reminds me of my uncle. He was one to make someone feel important. He asked questions about my life and my children and listened and was genuinely interested. This quote has so much truth to it.

On another note, a diversion... I saw these boots in my email and totally love them. 

I haven't bought anything at Express in a long time, but I went on their website the other night and found a lot of great things. And, they always have great sales and promotions.
Especially love the back on this top:

I love this wooden monogram ornament. It might even look cute included in a gallery wall. I'm already thinking holiday gifts!! This website is a good one for inexpensive and unique gifts and stocking stuffers. 

If you aren't already using Ebates sign up HERE! You earn cash back just by clicking through Ebates before being directed to your shopping website. I've earned at least $50 so far and there are no loopholes. Plus, you can go on their website to see which sites are having sales and how much you will get in cash back.

I just saw this recipe on Pinterest this morning and plan to make it for the girls since we have an abundance of bananas in our kitchen. I'm the only one in our family who doesn't like bananas and I want to get rid of them soon since the kitchen is starting to smell like them. Which probably means they are the perfect ripeness for these muffins.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Weekend Recap

I haven't done one of these recaps in a while and I've been absent from blogging the past few weeks (more on that in another post). We had a great family day today, which is just what we needed. My husband has been working a ton and some days the girls don't even get to see him. Today we went apple picking at Solebury Orchards. This is our second year there and we love it. There were still a ton of apples left to pick and they have the best apple cider donuts. I posted about our trip there last fall here. What a difference a year makes- Summer was only 4 months old then so I carried her in the Ergo. This year she was picking apples, too. The girls had a blast filling their bags. Ellie even climbed a ladder with Nick to get to the top of the tree where the best apples were.

Now I have to make a list of recipes to make with the apples. They are delicious on their own, but I'm also thinking of an apple crisp and baked apples.

We started out our weekend with a movie date on Friday night. Nick and I went to see Gone Girl. I had read the book, and I liked the movie. Nick liked it, too. I do think the book was better, as it almost always is. We haven't been to the movies in years. We had planned to grab dinner afterwards, but Summer had gotten up so we headed home. Of course, the one night we go out she wakes up even though she sleeps through the night now. We were happy to see her though, and she said "I love you" for the first time! I was headed up to bed with her and Nick said, "Goodnight Summer. I love you." And she replied, "I oh you." The sweetest!! 

Saturday morning I ran out to pick up Starbucks coffee, diapers, and go to the post office. I got my coffee and had just gotten to the post office to mail a couple packages when my husband called in a panic to say that Ellie burnt her chest on the hot pan while making pancakes. He sent me a picture and it was blistering, which I knew meant a trip to the ER. I rushed home and we packed the girls in the car. Ellie had a second degree burn. So sad! She did great though and was very brave. It was a quick visit and she got it bandaged (as you can see in the pictures above). My husband was obviously distraught, but it's a reminder for the future and a lesson learned. Our kids cannot be near the stove, especially while cooking! We do have the safety knobs on the oven already. Ellie likes to get on her stool and watch, but I will hold her then, and really that's not a good idea either. He had to go to work so the girls and I ended up at my parents for the rest of the afternoon. It was nice to hang out and relax with them and the girls love playing at their house. 

Hope everyone had a great weekend! 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Luscious List

I haven't done one of these in a while and I haven't been posting as much as I have in the past as we settle into a routine with Ellie starting school. She is going 2 days a week. I signed Summer up for a Library story time and we are thinking about the Little Gym. Ellie is doing ballet and the other mornings are for playground visits or outings (zoo, children's museum, music class, play dates). I also started a part-time job in which I work from home on my computer. It's an ideal job for me as a stay at home Mom and I really enjoy it. It's with a reputable company and everything is done on my home computer. No phone calls, which is wonderful since it's almost impossible to talk on the phone these days with the girls (even with my friends). I recently finished three weeks of training and now I am on more of my own schedule.

The girls and I went to the Elmwood Zoo yesterday and fed the giraffes. We did this last summer, too. I love giraffes- they are such cute animals and I love that the girls can feed them themselves. We met friends here so the girls had fun running around with them (and nice for me to catch up with a friend).

I'm sure you've seen Christmas being advertised already in stores and catalogs. I saw these knit stockings at Pottery Barn Kids and they reminded me of mine as a child. We all had knit stockings just like these and it makes me want to replace our current ones!

I'm obsessed with these hot pink Ikat pillows. I really want new ones for the couch in our front room. We currently just have these from Pier 1, which I love because they are so soft, but I want a few more. The pink may be too bright, but I love the pattern. 

I've been seeing so many dessert recipes on Pinterest. I have to wait for a party to make one so we don't eat it all. They are dangerous, especially the no-bake ones like this one. Anything with peanut butter I'm in. 

I know I just mentioned Christmas, but back to Halloween and Fall. If you saw on Instagram I stocked up on the pumpkin cereal bars at Trader Joe's that sold out so quickly last year. Stocked up meaning I bought five boxes. After eating one I decided I wasn't that hooked on them and ended up returning three boxes. The woman at the cash register was shocked I was returning the ever so popular pumpkin bar. Instead I bought a box of the pumpkin waffles after trying a sample (with ice cream). The girls don't like them, but I do. I definitely recommend them with ice cream or without.

The girls and I are headed to watch their cousins' soccer games, then while Summer is napping Ellie and I are going to decorate the house for Halloween. The girls put the decals on the windows this week and it's very festive. Then, we will have to make a plan for dinner since my husband left at 7:30 this morning and won't be home till 10 tonight. Dinner = take out. Tomorrow my friend is having an Arbonne party in the afternoon and I'm hoping to get some errands done alone since my husband is off from work. Nothing too exciting, but it's going to be a beautiful weekend in the 80s here. Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shopping: Toy Storage

Toy Storage

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

We are in the market for more toy storage. I feel like we have so many toys and so little storage space. We already have one Ikea shelving unit, but we may need to add another. I love the 3 Sprouts baskets. We currently have the pink elephant holding some of the girls' stuffed animals. We definitely need something else to contain all of them. I love the small clear containers (#4) to hold tiny pieces and what I call "chokable items." Another box I also really like is this, which is on wheels and can be stacked. We currently have the pink one and I'd like to buy a few more. They hold so much stuff. I recently just donated some toys the girls don't play with anymore, as well as a few stuffed animals I knew they could part with. I also like to rotate toys. I will put a bunch of toys in the back part of our basement (out of view) and rotate them back in every few months. This helps with toy overload and it can be exciting to have a "new" toy to play with. All of their toys are primarily in the playroom and in our great room. I was hoping once the playroom was finished all of the toys would be in there, but they slowly have made their way upstairs. Big baskets work well in our great room (Home Goods purchases) and I'm shopping for a storage ottoman. I really don't keep many toys in their bedrooms. I brought up a small dollhouse that the girls will play with while we are getting ready in the morning. Other than that, it's just books and a few stuffed animals (they are everywhere!). 

I know I'm not the only one in which toys drive me crazy when they are scattered everywhere. I hope these storage options provide you with some sanity relief, too!

* some items contain affiliate links

Monday, September 22, 2014

Recipe: Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon + Sugar Topping

This pumpkin recipe is my favorite and I make them often throughout the fall and winter seasons. I will bring them to Thanksgiving dinner so my family can take them home and enjoy the next morning. I recommend eating them right out of the oven or warming them in the microwave and enjoying with a mug of coffee or tea. Last week I had one with vanilla ice cream and it was amazing. They are also great snacks for toddlers. I love the cinnamon and sugar topping. If you love pumpkin you will love these.

Pumpkin Muffins
1 dozen

1 1/2 cup flour (I usually use at least 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned pumpkin (15 oz can)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cup sugar (I usually only use 1 cup) + 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees (oven rack in middle)
2) Whisk flour and baking powder in a small bowl
3) Whisk pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cup sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Then, whisk in flour mixture until just combined
4) Stir together cinnamon and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl
5) Divide batter into cups (3/4 full)
6) Sprinkle tops with cinnamon and sugar mixture
7) Cook for 25-30 minutes (puffed and golden brown)
8) Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack

This is also a great recipe to involve your kids. Ellie loves helping me bake the muffins. I do the measuring and she does the pouring, mixing, and sprinkling.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ellie's First Day of Pre-School + Other Updates

Ellie started pre-school (and her first time at school ever) last week. I knew eventually she would love it if she were timid at first. She said to me, "I don't want to go to school by myself, Mommy. I want to stay with you because I love you." Of course, it made me a little sad, but I had confidence that she would adjust well. We had talked about it all summer and even more so the few weeks leading up to it. I kept telling her that I would drop her off and pick her up everyday. The first day was orientation and the class was split and each group went to school for an hour with a parent. My mother in law stayed with Summer so I could have that one on one time with Ellie. We met her teachers and saw her classroom. She met some of the kids in her class and played with the cool, new toys (a big dollhouse and dress-up!).

The second day she went to school for an hour alone with the same group of kids and the third day was a full day with all of her class (12 kids total). I really liked the transition into a full day and I love that it's a small class. I also love her two teachers. So far it has been great. The first day she was alone she was first to arrive and Summer and I gave her a kiss and hug and she was all smiles as she sat down to play with Play Doh. And, all smiles as we picked her up. She has been excited on school days (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and talks about it on non-school days. I'm so happy she loves it and that she didn't shed a tear (that would have meant I would have shed lots of tears).

 Confidently walking into her classroom. She looks so small here!

Last Thursday I think Summer had the hardest adjustment after dropping Ellie off at school. She had quite a few meltdowns and I think she missed her big sister. We did a few errands, then went to the Library (one that we had never been to before) and she had a blast. There was a great kids area with lots of toys to play with. I checked out some books for the girls and signed Summer up for a Thursday storytime starting this week. On Tuesday we are trying out a class at the Little Gym and if it works with our schedule I will sign her up. It's nice to have one on one time with Summer. After school we have been playing at the playground for a while before heading home for lunch and Summer's nap. I thought I would never say this again, but Ellie has been napping, too! I cannot tell you how wonderful it was last week to have both girls napping at the same time! Quiet time for myself during the day? It's been happening and I love it.

Ellie also started her first ballet class last week. If you follow me on Instagram you have seen the pictures and video I'm sure. Oh my gosh, it's just total cuteness. A group of little girls in ballet outfits. Half of the class is tap and half, ballet. It's a small class and the teacher is great. Ellie is the youngest, but fit in well and she loved it. Last week was an open door for parents to watch, but the rest of the class will not be until their recital at the Holidays. I can't wait for that!

Ellie is in the black leotard and pink tights. I took entirely too many photos on my iPhone before realizing I could take video. I got a couple really cute videos that I watch over and over.

We are finally settling in to a routine with school and classes. I'm back to making dinners during the week (no more lazy summer dinners or eating at the pool). I've been hooked on my new favorite comfort meal and I even dusted off my Crock Pot and used that last week to make our favorite Chicken Tacos. Ellie and I also made our first batch of pumpkin muffins of the season. How cute is this little apron I got on eBay? Ellie was so excited when I gave it to her. She had been wearing one of mine, obviously a little big. She loves helping me in the kitchen. And, it's our quality time while Summer is napping.

Next on my list is to go through the girls' clothes and rotate their clothes for fall. I am starting to create a fall checklist with fun things to look forward to with the girls. Apple picking, of course, and our second annual pumpkin painting party in October are a couple things I am excited about. What is on your fall list?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Delicious Meatloaf Recipe

Growing up I never liked meatloaf, but I do now and this recipe is delicious! My Dad made it for a family dinner last winter and I finally made it myself. The prep time isn't long and I even had Ellie help me pour in the ingredients. Side note: she then went to play and I heard her pretending to shop for "the ingredients to cook dinner." I love her pretend playing! So back to the recipe- the meatloaf cooks in the oven for an hour and if you really want an easy dinner (me, for sure) you can buy roasted potatoes from Whole Foods and heat in the microwave. I also bought fresh broccoli and steamed it. I only put barbeque sauce on half of the meatloaf in case the girls didn't like it. And, as predicted, Ellie thought it was too spicy. I cut into the middle to make sure it was completely cooked before serving.

Best Meatloaf Recipe

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 chopped onion (I used sweet onion)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup barbeque sauce (I use Trader Joe's Bold & Smokey)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2. Mix all the ingredients except the barbecue sauce together, then spread the meatloaf mixture onto an ungreased loaf pan. I did this once and it did not cook all the way through in my oven. This time I molded it into the shape of a long loaf onto a cookie sheet. It came out perfectly.

3. Spoon barbeque sauce on top of the meatloaf and bake, uncovered, for an hour.