HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE MRS.

Wishing you the happiest of Thanksgivings, the yummiest of meals, and the thriftiest of Black Fridays!

XOXO
-Mrs.

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Thanksgiving Themed Appetizers

Most of us have our Thanksgiving day menus pre-planned with the traditional annual line up of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie etc., but when preparing appetizers there is a little more freedom for creativity.  Here are a couple of ideas for some festive … Continue reading

Baby on the way and so thankful!

If you are friends with me on Facebook or our blog’s Facebook you might have heard WE’RE PREGNANT! Yay!

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Matt and I could not be MORE excited or MORE grateful for this gift on the way!

Pregnancy details thus far:

Due date: May 8, 2014

How far along: I’ll be 17 weeks on Thanksgiving

Sickness: YES! I was sick the whole first trimester. I had morning sickness, mainly in the morning but felt nauseated the WHOLE DAY. I was also extremely tired. I only went home from work twice but I really struggled the whole way through. I had moments  towards the end of the first trimester that I was really functional (aka cooked like crazy and picked up the house) but to be honest with you I was pretty down and out for most of it. Around week 13/14 I started feeling better. I still need an extra nap now and then and sometimes I eat something the baby didn’t like but it’s VERY different from the first trimester.

Gender: We find out the gender December 9! Hopefully the baby corporates. We don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, just praying for a healthy baby!

Showing: Yes! Or at least I think I am. See the bump in my stomach from the pictures? Well it’s usually not there. My jeans started to get uncomfortable to button at 10 weeks and by 13 weeks I didn’t even try to button them anymore. All other clothes pretty much still fit except if I wear a pencil skirt to work I may not zip it up all the way 🙂 I did get some maternity jeans with Lindsay a few weeks ago and they have been WONDERFUL but sweat pants are still my favorite right now.

Cravings: Nothing crazy but mostly stuff I loved before… ice cream, burgers, bread and cheese, fruit, water, smoothies, french fries. Some healthy, some not so healthy. Finding the right balance has been confusing to me. Mentally it’s so strange to be good with gaining weight but not gain too much weight. Still figuring that one out!

Telling people: We first told our parents at 8 weeks after our first appointment. It happen to be right before my birthday so I wrapped the ultrasound photos up in a box and told them this was the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten and I wanted them to open and see it. All four of their reactions were different and priceless! It was a special moment to me. After our 12 weeks appointment we started to tell all of our other family members and close friends. After my 16 week appointment (yesterday) we decided to share on social media and with YOU!

Movement: Yes! I wasn’t sure what I was feeling at first and it’s very delicate but it’s the most gentle little taps. It’s so sweet and I try to pay attention every time it happens. I can’t wait for Matt to be able to feel a real kick in the coming weeks.

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These photos were taken by my very talented friend, Kati Mallory of Kati Mallory Photo & Design. We did a quick, fun shoot. Their are a few other pictures but I’m saving those for our Christmas card. Stay tuned and Happy Thanksgiving!

Pinterest Pass or Fail: Baked Zucchini Chips

This sounds and looks like the best and most healthy chip replacement idea out there. What better than a veggie that tastes like the thing we actually want – real potato chips – to dip into hummus and salsa and the like?

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Green veggies are basically free if you’re calorie counting – so this idea was a must-Pin when I spotted it on Pinterest the other day.

Recipe:
Thinly slice 2 medium zucchini
Spread out onto a baking sheet
Brush with olive oil
Bake until crispy brown at 350-degrees
Sprinkle with sea salt
Enjoy!

Sounds easy enough, right?
Well, see for yourself how it turned out when I gave this healthy recipe a try:

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Cash loves to join me in the kitchen.

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And then this happened…

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What the heck?
Definitely a FAIL.
Maybe I tried to bake too many at once?
Maybe since I sprinkled the oil and didn’t brush it, it made the slices to heavy to crisp up?
I know it wasn’t that I baked too long b/c I checked them constantly and they were soggy up until they burned, dissolved or, well, stayed soggy.

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Verdict: FAIL

If you know what I did wrong, please comment below and let me know!

FOUND THIS PIN AFTER THE FACT…
Sounds like a better way to do it, but I’ll have to try another day.

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DIY Flavored Coffee Creamer

I love flavored coffee, especially this time of year, and my favorite is anything with chocolate, the richer the better. For my morning cup of Joe, I stick to organic half and half or natural creamers, because most brands like Coffee-mate and International Delight are made with mono or di-glycerides or hydrogentated oils, aka trans fats. Surprisingly, it is easy enough (and cheap) to make your own coffee creamer, all you have to do is heat up half and half and add whatever sweeteners and flavors you like. Here is what I used:

3 1/2 cups of half and half

6 Tbl hot cocoa mix (made with real chocolate)

3 Tbl sugar

1 tsp bourbon vanilla

You could also add cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel, almond or hazelnut extracts, or whatever your heart desires.

Pour half and half into a pan and slowly heat up. Be sure to get a reseal-able half and half container for easier storage when you are done.

Add chocolate, sugar, and vanilla. Mmmm chocolate.

Whisk together, remove from heat and let cool.

Use a funnel to pour your creamer back into the original container. Give it a quick shake before using.

“Stay”cation…what is it?

outside waterfall cabinWe always need a vacation. Whether you’re a stay at home mother, work a full time job, or just got back from your vacation! I can’t tell you how many times I return from a trip, and am ready to hit the road once more, after the laundry is piled up from a week of fun, and I’m preparing for Monday.

A few people consider a “staycation” as taking a week off of work, and seeing the sights around town, but at night returning to sleep at their home. However personally, I consider a “staycation” as getting OUT of the house, staying in a hotel, motel, cottage or cabin…just so long as its still within a couple hours of home. On my “staycations”, I don’t want the distractions and duties that come along with my homebase. I physically have to leave the premise and not return at the end of the day, in order to welcome that fully relaxed state that occurs with “vacation”.

Earlier in the year I wrote a list of goals to try and accomplish for 2013, and while I won’t complete all, I was able to check #8 off. My #8 was to purchase a groupon getaway, for my husband and I to escape for the weekend. I found a site called “yelp“, which is similar to groupon’s deals, and purchased a one night $95 coupon that was good for $125 at the Anderson Creek Cabins located in Glen Rose, TX. We booked two nights: Friday & Saturday, applied the coupon, & were able to pay a little less than $300 lodging for the whole weekend!

I would recommend this refuge of accommodation for couples, families, or those not into “roughing it aka camping in tents”. We had all the amenities that are present with a normal hotel, except we were away from the hustle and bustle of city life., oh, AND we had a full sized kitchen.

The pleasant innkeepers of the quaint cabins provide: pancake mix, syrup, popcorn, starbucks tea, & coffee in each cabin, and then cut firewood which could be picked up any time throughout the day at a designated wood pile, for an enjoyable cozy campfire at night. Propane grills are provided on the deck of each cabin for grilling, and the spacing of the four cabins, is far enough from each, that you cannot hear or even see your neighbor “campers”!

We stayed in the “Waterfall Cabin”, which when provided with a decent amount of rainfall, produces a waterfall that can be viewed from your personal deck. Unfortunately, as we’ve been in a bit of a drought, there was just a lovely view of the rock face sans water.

If you enjoy hiking, nature, or have children who like dinosaurs, Dinosaur Valley State Park is less than five minutes from the Anderson Creek Cabins. The hikes are easy, not even intermediate, unless of course you are going to “get primitive” and decide to hike the path less traveled.dinodino printusAn amazing dessert place in downtown Glen Rose called, “Pie Peddlers“, creates homemade cream & fruit pies, so if you have a sweet tooth, make sure to try a slice of blackberry pie and key lime pie. It was delicious and so worth it!!pie peddlerspie

Next time you are interested in a inexpensive getaway for the weekend, check groupon or yelp, because you just might be packing your bags sooner than you realize! Have fun friend & share your finds!

Pinterest Pass or Fail: Buffalo Cauliflower Recipe

I love this vegetarian recipe blog, The Curvy Carrot. Seems my favorite pins for creative veggie recipes are always coming from this site. And this post is about one in particular … Buffalo Cauliflower.

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As you know, I’m pregnant, and about every other month so far, I crave the pungent, mouth-watering flavor of buffalo sauce. I fed my craving wings the first week I was preggo on vacay in Destin … so good! Then, a few weeks later, I got a hankering for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos  and a delectable buffalo chicken sandwich at a local place here in Little Rock. Twenty-one weeks in (this is a belated post, as I’m at 25 weeks now) …  buffalo was calling my name again. However, for the sake of not feeding this baby any more unhealthy snacks … well … fewer unhealthy snacks … I hopped onto Pinterest  and searched “healthy buffalo recipes” … and I found this one for Buffalo Cauliflower.

I modified it, of course … because I didn’t have everything in the house, and it turned out to be a PASS.

Here’s how I made my version:

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I didn’t have enough flour, so I used corn bread mix instead. Worked out OK, but I do wonder what the flour version would’ve been like.

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Toss the cauliflower into the mixture. Spread out onto a baking sheet and bake.

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Mix up the sauce while the cauliflower bakes.

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Toss the cauliflower in the sauce mixture and bake some more.

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THE END RESULT

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Although they were good, you really can’t eat all that many of them. I should count that as a good thing, something to make these an even healthier snack. I would make them again, but I’d use more buffalo sauce, I’d make homemade ranch to go with, and I’d use flour instead of the corn bread mix. Still…

Verdit: Pass.

 

UPDATE! the painting progression…

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So its only been four months since we moved into our new home, even though it feels like a year. Working ourselves a little too hard every weekend… we had/have a goal to get every room painted (we’ll see), crown molding and … Continue reading

Painting the Nursery: DIY Striped Wall Before & After

Not much to explain with this post, but I thought I’d show you what I’ve been up to since my last “nesting update” … we relocated the guest room furniture and decor in the now nursery to another room. Then, … Continue reading

Recipe: The Best Taco Soup You’ll Ever Eat (A Family Recipe)

On a rainy day last week, I came home from work craving something cozy to curl up on the couch with and nosh.

A hearty, flavorful soup was just the ticket. Even my husband requested soup when I offered up that or spaghetti as menu options for the evening.

With his blessing, I immediately grabbed my go-to cold- and/or rainy-night comfort food recipe: my stepmom’s famous taco soup.

It’s something she made for us while growing up, probably on nights when she needed something easy and quick for us all. The word “easy” belies the flavor of the dish. Because whatever it lacks in culinary high-brow ingredients and complex cooking techniques, it makes up for in sheer deliciousness and quick stove-to-table eats. And isn’t that all that matters when it comes to food for our bellies?

It’s hard to trust a random blogger when they promise something to be the “best” or even “delicious,” but I insist it is the truth for this taco soup. If it helps convince you, my hubby, who usually just eats what I give him and rarely comments on anything unless he doesn’t like it, actually emphatically said … “This soup is excellent.” And he helped himself to seconds. That’s an A+ for me (er, my stepmom), and I know it.

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe (with my modifications) for your future comfort on a rainy or chilly night this fall and winter:

1. REVIEW THE RECIPE.
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My Substitues: Instead of 2 cans of pinto beans, I use 1 can of black beans b/c Michael and I aren’t huge bean fans; instead of 1 can of water, I use 2 (making sure to drain the corn and beans though instead) b/c I prefer the soup to have more broth but don’t want so much bean flavor; I tried it with a fresh, diced jalapeño this time but it wasn’t needed, in fact it made it too spicy; and I’ve made it with turkey meat before and it was just as yummilicious!

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2. CHOP. DICE. COOK.

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3. ADD GROUND BEEF (OR TURKEY). BROWN.

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4. ADD SEASONING PACKETS. MIX.

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5. TRANSFER TO POT.

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6. ADD CANNED ITEMS (DRAIN CORN & BEANS).

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7. ADD 1 – 2 CANS OF WATER (BASED ON DESIRED BROTH-INESS). STIR WELL.

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8. SIMMER 30 MINUTES (15-20 MINUTES ON MED-LOW IS FINE IF YOU’RE IN A HURRY).

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9. ENJOY!

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My Toppings: Fritos. Shredded cheese.

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My Husband’s Toppings: None.