Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Trolls Trunk or Treat

As my kids get older, it seems like there are more and more Halloween festivities we are attending.   Add in that my sons birthday is the 29th and we are slammed!  I was a little hesitant to add on Trunk or Treat to my plate but I had never done one before so I was excited to participate!  Me and the kids decided on a Trolls theme pretty quickly and after that it was off to the drawing board.  I got on Pinterest to search for some inspiration and ideas and I soon realized that there just wasn't much that I could find.  There were a few good ones but not much information or close ups.  I am always the do-it-yourselfer when it comes to these kinds of things so I wanted to make sure I went all out on this one and document all of it!  So without further ado, here is my Trolls trunk!
I wanted my trunk to be super bright and colorful with some sort of green background to complement the scenery in the movie.  I used 2 plastic tablecloths in different shades of green for the backdrops.  The Trolls Tree was the idea behind my scenery.  I drew the tree out on poster board and painted it using 4 shades of green.  To replicate the highlight and shadows of the tree in the movie, I dabbed the paint on with a sponge and buffed/smoothed it out with a paper towel.   I also wanted to include some significant characters and scenes from the movie so I, of course, had to make Cloud Guy!  The big creepy flowers were great colorful accents to go with the rainbow streams on the sides of the car which made such a statement as you were approaching!
For Cloud Guy, I sketched him out on a piece of white poster board, cut him out and glued cotton stuffing to the poster board with a hot glue gun.  His eyes, mouth, hands and feet are all made with felt that is glued to poster board.  For the arms, I glue a wood skewer to the back to make them a little more firm and not so floppy.
The Trolls sign I also sketched on poster board.  I just took the cover of the movie and replicated the font.  I found the silver glitter paper at Hobby Lobby and glued it to the poster board.  I glued wood skewers to the backs of them and stuck them in a piece of styrofoam (also from Hobby Lobby) to make them stand upright.
The big creepy flowers were also made of felt and poster board.  I had long stems that were attached but the wind was not in my favor this day. :(  And now for the best part....
Poppy!!!  When I decided on the Trolls theme, I knew I HAD to dress up and really go all out!
I made the entire costume and I am so happy with the turn out.  My dress is felt that I sewed together with a straight stitch on the sides and shoulders.  I hot glued all of the accents on.  My head piece is made of pipe cleaners and tulle!
Poppy was such a hit, you guys!  I can't tell you how many pictures I took with kids or with my trunk!  My makeup was my favorite part, even if I did forget to put on my lashes lol.
Me with my sweet girl holding our trophy!  I got 2nd place :)
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Friday, October 26, 2018

White Chicken Chili

I cannot remember where or when I came across this recipe but it was years ago and I have been making it ever since!  I have altered it a few times since finding it and it has evolved into my style of cooking.  The great thing about any chili recipe is that you can add or subtract items to make it the way that you like!  I usually always prefer extra tomatoes and corn in any soup while going easy on the beans.  I make this recipe every year for Halloween and it has become a tradition in our house.  All you really have to do is throw everything in the crockpot which is perfect for how hectic Halloween night can be.  Not to mention, who doesn't crave chili once the Fall weather is in full swing?!
  My husband and sister both love when I make this chili and my husband has actually come to like it more than traditional chili!  The Philadelphia Cream Cheese in really gives it a creamier texture than traditional chili.  It's creamy and cheesy and with a hint of Mexican flavor, this is a savory and unique twist on chili.  I don't love beans that much but I do know that black beans are packed full of benefits so I try to incorporate those into recipes when I can.

Ingredients:
2 Chicken Breasts
1 8oz Package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 can of Rotel
1 can of black beans (Drained & rinsed)
1 can of corn
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 14oz can of chicken broth
1 small onion
1 jalapeno
1 Package of ranch seasoning
Cumin
Mexican Chili Powder

Directions:
Add all cans to the crockpot, draining corn, tomatoes and black beans.  Dice onion and jalapeƱo, adding to the crockpot as well.  Lay chicken breast on top.  Cut Philadelphia Cream Cheese into small cubes and scatter it around the chicken.  Sprinkle the Ranch dressing seasoning all over.  (I actually only used about half of the Ranch packet.)  Season with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.  You can always add more seasoning later!
Cook on low for 4 hours.

After about 3-3.5 hours, remove the chicken and shred it.  I shred mine using 2 forks and it works perfectly.  Once shredded, add it back to the crockpot and stir.  Cook a half and hour to an hour longer depending on chicken.

Serve and top with sour cream and cilantro.  My husband likes to top his with a little shredded cheddar because he's extra like that and still wakes up in great shape after eating double cheese chili. :)
I sometimes serve this over rice and that is super good!

Like this recipe? Pin it below!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Thank Heaven and the Stars for little girls

It's still so surreal to me that I have a little girl.  Growing up with my sister, I always envisioned having girls because that was all I knew.  Then after having 2 boys, I didn't really know what the future held when it came to having another.  When my husband and I found out we were expecting a third, we went ahead and assumed it was another boy and I was actually pretty excited about it.  I will never forget the phone call from the doctor when they called to give me my 12 week screening results...and also the gender.  I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT.  A girl!  We were having a little girl.
She is so much more to us than we could have ever dreamed of.  To say that she completes our family is an understatement.  Now that she is almost 2, I hate to say that it is absolutely flying by and it makes me so sad.  Every single day with her is amazing and there are so many things about these early years that I want to lock in my memory and never forget.  Her little feet, the fountain on the top of her head that was just like mine as a little girl, her blankey and stuffed animals, her nursery, her big blue eyes and cute little smile. 
One of my most cherished keepsakes in Callie's nursery is a custom star map that I have framed above her crib.  GreaterSkies creates the most beautiful maps of the stars that can be personalized with your special date, place and time.  They recently launched their new new Little Stars line that shows the stars and constellation on the day that your child is or will be born!  As soon as I saw the beautiful pink and mulberry colors of the girls print, I knew it would be perfect for a sentimental piece in her nursery!
I love the personalization that we went with for Callie's print!  It means so much to me and really puts into words how we feel for her.  The prints come in 3 color options and you can personalize your print with anything you want.  You also have the option to download your print or have it framed and shipped.  We had ours framed and I can't say enough about the quality!  It is top notch and definitely exceeded my expectations!
You will forever be our brightest shining star, baby girl.

GreaterSkies prints are the perfect keepsake for any important date.  The Little Stars line makes for such a sweet and sentimental piece to have in your own home or would make for a unique personalized baby shower gift!
Here is a better look at my personalized print so that you can see the true color and detail.  The colors are stunning!
If you are interested in your own print, GreaterSkies is offering a 25% discount on any printed or printed and framed maps!  All you need to do is click HERE and enter the code FALL25 at checkout!

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Monday, October 22, 2018

To the Pumpkin Patch we go!

Sundays are usually always a family day for us but during this time of year, when the Fall festivities are in full swing, Sundays are especially fun!  We are normally busy every weekend during the month of October with birthday parties  and activities but we always try to squeeze in a trip to the pumpkin patch!  This year did not disappoint.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday so we let Callie skip her nap (paid for it later) and loaded everyone up in the car and off to the pumpkin patch we went!
We had a tradition going for a few years that we would go to the biggest pumpkin patch around us, Burt's Pumpkin Farm, but with being so busy the past couple years, we haven't made it out there.  I think I was pregnant with Callie the last time we were there!  We found a new patch this year that is much closer to our house and significantly less chaotic.  It was actually pretty perfect. :)
We went to Scottsdale Farms in Milton and it was absolutely beautiful!  Everywhere you looked was decorated with the most festive pumpkins and some of the most gorgeous mums I've ever seen!  Everything was so well thought out and there was so much for the kids to do.  They even had a cute little shop inside where you could get everything from home decor to lunch, coffee and sweets!
They had a cute little area with all kinds of farm animals.  Goats and chickens and GIANT pigs!  They kids were very excited to go and see them only to get pretty nervous once we got up close to them.  Callie kept yelling at them to "GO AWAY" in the most bossiest of tiny voices. :)
Gosh Callie is growing up right before our eyes.  It's incredible to see her learning and developing more and more each day.  We didn't take the stroller and let her walk this time because she always wants to do exactly what the boys are doing.  She was so good and stayed right by us, never once running off.  She kept up with the boys the entire time and it was so cute to watch all of them explore together!
This pumpkin patch had the most beautiful selection of pumpkins that I've ever seen!  All of them were so different and unique.  If I had more time in my life I would have bought a wheel barrow full of them to make a Pinterest-worthy Fall front porch but you know, maybe next year! 

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Why being away from your kids is so important sometimes

There is just something special about having alone time with your spouse.  Since having kids, Loyal and I have done date nights here and there but I can't say that there have been many.  One of the main reasons for this is because we pretty much had our 3 kids back to back.  I am very hands on during the first year and that is mainly due to nursing but also because it's just simply hard for me to leave a baby that is under a year old.  Maybe it's a control thing but I'm also tired during that first year without much energy to spare.  We are the type that really enjoys our family time.  We like weekends with the kids and sometimes it makes it hard to leave them for a night.  Needless to say, my undivided time with my husband has been rather limited the past few years and I find myself missing us and the way we used to be before we had kids.  Don't get me wrong here, I love my kids, love my family and wouldn't trade any of it!  But over the years, I have come to realize how important it is to have balance in your life and in your marriage. 

Loyal and I had a very unique start to our marriage.  Less than 6 months after we got married, his job sent him to Dallas, TX and I stayed in Atlanta to finish my last year of college.  Spending a year apart definitely wasn't ideal but in the end it made us so strong and so much closer than ever before.  I moved to Dallas the day after I graduated college and that summer was a true "honeymoon phase" for us.  We went on dates several times a week, I went to work with him often and we pretty much spent all of our time together! Some of fondest memories are from our time in Dallas and ones that I will always miss.  I got pregnant right at the end of that summer and our life changed forever, in the best way.  Bringing a baby into our lives was the best decision we could have ever made.  Our little family is everything to us.  Every minute, every day and every weekend are memories that we are making together as a family.  We have all become so close-knit and truly love spending all of our time together.  But even though I see my husband every day, I was not prepared for how much I would miss him and having him to myself.  

While having babies and watching your children grow up is absolutely amazing, it is also one of the hardest things I have ever done.  By the end of most days, I am exhausted, grouchy, irritable and just slap worn out.  Motherhood can be so rewarding yet so challenging at the same time.  I think I can speak for most moms when I say that we all want, need and deserve a break every once and a while.  How one spends their much needed break comes down to personal preference but I most definitely like to spend my time away from my kids with my husband.  Getting out of the house and spending one on one time with Loyal is the perfect way for me to recharge.  It honestly takes me right back to those days before we had kids when life was so carefree.  Now that our kids are all out of the baby phase, we are trying to incorporate more date nights into our routine.  This is our way of pouring into each other and into our marriage.  It is important for me to fill that cup often and in return it keeps the flame lit!   Date nights give us anticipation that we look forward to and leave us on a high after it's over.  Our time together, undivided and completely focused on one another, is so cherished and necessary in our marriage.  It gives us a chance to miss the kids and we always come home feeling refreshed and so happy to see them!

I once read somewhere that putting your spouse before your kids is one of the best things you can do for your children.  I remember reading a bunch of backlash to this theory but I stood behind it 100%.  In my option, marriage is the root of our family.  It is what brought our children into this world and what we will have left when they grow up and move away.  I have seen a lot of people pour everything they have into their children, often neglecting their marriage in return.  Unfortunately, this can drive a couple apart rather quickly.  We have to remember that we are the first example our children will see of love, marriage, respect for each other, partnerships and relationships all around.  I remind myself of this often because I want their example of marriage to be one that is full of love for each other.  Actions resonate so much deeper than words and I want my kids to learn how to love from the love that they see between Loyal and I.  Children can sense tension and while it is natural and totally normal to have disagreements from time to time, love and happiness should always be prevail.  



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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pancakes

If there are two things that my husband loves, it's chocolate and pumpkin spice.  Every time fall rolls around he is requesting any and everything pumpkin!  I can't tell you how many times I've heard the story about the chocolate chip pumpkin spice pancakes he used to eat when he lived in California.  It was some little breakfast spot in Santa Monica, I believe, that he used to go to and apparently they had these phenomenal chocolate chip pumpkin pancakes on the menu year round so naturally, he has talked about them ever since.  (If you know my husband, you are rolling your eyes right now because you know he is the king of telling the same story over and over again, haha!)
Today is my husbands birthday and while he always requests a Great American Cookie Cake for his birthday, we celebrated over the weekend so that we could include more of his favorite things!  First up were these delicious Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pancakes.  With just the right amount of pumpkin and a touch of chocolate, these were a home run to kick off his birthday weekend!
I'm not sure what the deal was with our syrup this time but it took more than one try to get this darn pour shot.  I don't know if I'll ever get it as good as this one!

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
5 tbsp butter

Directions:
Combine and mix all dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, melt butter and add all wet ingredients.  Pour wet mixture into dry ingredient bowl and mix, being careful to not over mix.  In a well greased pan, pour batter into small to medium sized circles and cook over medium heat.  Once bubbles begin to form on the top of the uncooked side of the pancake, flip and cook for another couple minutes.  

I found with these pancakes that they take a little bit longer to cook and they came out best if you let them sit for a few minutes after removing from the heat.

We tried this recipe a few times, with Clove Spice and without.  We felt that it overpowered the pumpkin flavor and preferred it without.  Feel free to add that in if that's your thing!  I also like mine with chopped pecans. :)
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