Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Break Day 1: Mommy Needs a Drink

Today marks Day 1 of Liam's Christmas break. It's really warm outside, but I can't take them out to play because it's raining. Plan B was to go to the base community center and library this morning, but it was closed. So now we're back at home until after lunch when we will try the community center again. Being stuck in the house wouldn't be too bad if my husband wasn't working nights this week. He has to sleep during the day, which means I have to attempt to keep the earsplitting noise that issues from my children to a minimum. Which is really, really hard. Especially since Owen screeches if Liam even *looks* at him the wrong way. Where's the wine?

Okay, I'm done whining. Let's get to the really important thing.......

STAR WARS!! My husband and I went to go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens last Friday and it was *fantastic*. It was so good I think my husband cried a little. After all the hype and the torturous buildup we were both worried we might feel a little let down when we finally saw it, but it was so phenomenal. I know I definitely don't have any complaints. I'm just bummed we have to wait so long for the next film. I just hope people can try not to be giant a-holes and spoil the movie for everyone else. I was in IF and some jerks in the Trade Chat channel (which I have forgotten how to turn off....) were posting spoilers. FOR SHAME. Have some class, people. Go back to talking about boobs and twink guilds in Trade Chat like everyone else.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I've Done A Bad, Bad Thing....

     I reactivated my World of Warcraft account. I blame my husband, and I blame social media! If I didn't have constant trailers for the new Warcraft movie popping up in my feed and my husband pushing Warcraft: The Last Guardian into my hands to read, I highly doubt I would have heard the siren call to play again. But, alas, I did. And if I'm going down, I'm taking my husband with me! (He reactivated his account too....)
      I used to play all.the.time. My husband and I would spend hours playing WoW before we had kids, through Wrath of the Litch King (my personal favorite expansion). He went to basic training and I had our first son shortly after Cataclysm came out, and that's when we stopped playing. Breastfeeding and DPS are difficult to do simultaneously, let me tell you. We played for a very short time after Mists of Pandaria, but honestly we didn't like that expansion at all. I think I'm the only chick in the WoW world who didn't like the giant pandas. So far I'm into Warlords of Draenor, though. I love the new garrison feature and am having a lot of fun building it up and gaining followers. Right now I'm just into playing the game for the story line and am avoiding raiding or anything that involves playing for more than an hour at a time. I usually only play when the kids are asleep, so it limits my activities.
     So, if you're ever on the Malfurion server and you're bored look me up. My mains name is Wynnter.



God, I'm such a nerd.


But you're never weird on the internet....almost....right? Felicia Day said it, so it must be true.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Betrayal at House on the Hill Review


     It's table top game review time! Last year my husband watched the TableTop episode where they played Betrayal at House on the Hill and he was instantly sold. He wanted to play it so much that as soon as the 2nd edition of the game stocked at The Game Store he immediately went out and bought it. It took me a while before I liked it as much as he does, but it definitely is a fun game. I'm usually a lot slower to warm up to new games, especially ones that have so many rules and more than one book of instructions. That being said, by the second or third time we played I was on board. The thing that I like most about this game is the replay factor. Betrayal at House on the Hill can be played over and over again and the game will be different every time.
   
     Once you have your ground floor foyer in place as well as your basement and upstairs landing tiles, you can begin. Everyone chooses an avatar and game play begins with the avatar who's birthday most closely matches the date of the day you play. Each avatar has traits (speed, might, sanity, and knowledge) that can increase or decrease depending on the decisions you make in the game. Players take turns drawing tiles, exploring and expanding your house. 
     Some rooms have an "event" symbol in them, which means whoever draws that tile pulls an event card and does whatever the card says. And example of an event could be "Possession: A shadow separates from the wall. As you stand in shock, the shadow surrounds you and chills you to the core. *You must choose any one trait and attempt a roll for that trait* 4+ You resist the shadow's corruption. Gain 1 in a trait of your chose. 0-3 The Shadow drains you energy. The chosen trait drops to its lowest value. (It doesn't drop to the skull.) If that trait is already at its lowest value, lower a different trait to its lowest value.


     Other rooms have an "omen" symbol in them, which means whoever draws that tile pulls an omen card and does whatever the card says.  An example of an omen could be "Mask: A somber mask to hide your intentions. *Once during your turn, you can attempt a Sanity roll to use the Mask.* 4+ you can put on or take off the mask. If you put on the mask gain 2 Knowledge but lose 2 Sanity. If you take off the Mask gain 2 Sanity but lose two Knowledge. 0-3 You can't use the Mask this turn."  After every omen card is read a "Haunt roll" occurs. If you win the Haunt roll you get to keep the omen card and use the item/person on the card to help you during the Haunt. The first person to fail the Haunt roll is revealed to be the traitor, and the Haunt begins!
     After the traitor is revealed players use the Traitor's Tome to determine which scenario is going to take place. Which scenario takes place depends on the room the traitor was in when they drew the omen card and the specific omen card that was drawn. For example if the traitor was revealed in the Dining Room with the Mask omen card you would play scenario #42. The traitor would take the Traitor's Tome and go into another room to read the scenario, while the heroes read the corresponding scenario in the Secrets of Survival handbook.
In our game my husband, Danielle, and I were the heroes and Ben was the traitor. I always knew he was shifty....
     
     Once everyone reconvenes the Haunt begins. The traitor will follow the rules in their book to try to achieve their twisted ends while the Heroes try to thwart them and survive the night with the guidance of the Secrets of Survival handbook. I'm pleased to say that in our last game the Heroes emerged victorious. Woohoo!

I would definitely recommend this game: it's fun, you won't play the same game twice, and it's really creative. It's a great addition to anyones gaming library. 





Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Amazing Black Friday Deals at ModCloth!



*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.*

Good news for all you Black Friday shoppers! ModCloth is having a truly spectacular sale that will feature new and classic favorites at up to 40% off! I'm a big fan of ModCloth because they have a huge selection and I can always find something that I love. Anyone who is looking for a cute vintage look without breaking the bank should look no further. I put together a look from ModCloth that I would personally love to have (hint hint, husband). If you know me you are already aware of my intense love for boots and sweaters. A cute classic blouse paired with a drapey cardigan and some knee-high boots and I'm a blissfully happy girl.


ModCloth
So, if you plan on scoring some great deals on Black Friday head on over to ModCloth. The sale will be running from 11/25/2015 at 12pm (eastern time) to 3pm (eastern time) on 11/29/2015. I hope you enjoy! 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Liam and the Genie

     Every night stories are part of our bedtime ritual. I read Owen a book or two and then put him to bed first. Next, Liam and I read two books and he gets into bed. Before I kiss him goodnight he always asks for me to tell him a story. Sometimes I tell him fairy tales, sometimes I make stories completely up, and those stories always feature a little boy named "Liam". When I tell "Liam stories" he's always the main character and I let Liam fill in blanks in the story so he's part of the narrative. I figured that this was a cute thing to do at bedtime; a ritual that he'd remember when he was older and look back upon happily. Last night, however, Liam said something during our story time that made my heart melt. Here's how it went:

Me: Once upon a time there was a little boy named Liam who was traveling through the desert. One day Liam saw a golden lamp in the sand. He picked it up, rubbed it and what do you think popped out?
Liam: A genie!
Me: That's right, a genie. The genie said "Master, I will grant you three wishes. What is your command?" So what did Liam wish for?
Liam: I would wish for a family!
Me: Okay. The genie said "Your wish is my command" and poof! There was a mommy and a daddy and a little brother to be Liam's family. The genie said "What is your second wish, master?" So what did Liam wish for?
Liam: I wish for a bed!
Me: The genie said "Your wish is my command" and poof! There was a giant comfy bed that the whole family could sleep in. They all laid down and took a nice long nap on their new bed. When they woke up the genie said "What is your third and final wish, master?" So what did Liam wish for?
Liam: A house with all our stuff!
Me: The genie said "Your wish is my command" and poof! Liam and his family and their new bed were transported here, to Arkansas, on our very street, where they found a house just for them! They moved into the house and lived there happily ever after. The End.

     We hugged and kissed and I wished him a good night's sleep. A little while later I related the story to my husband, and he said that it was very cute. I agreed, and then it hit me. Liam could have made up anything he wanted. He could have wished for anything in the whole world. I totally expected his wishes to be something like "I wish for a million pieces of candy" or something in that general direction. But, he didn't. Liam basically said that if he could wish for anything in the world, he would wish to have exactly what he has already. He wished for a family to love him, a warm bed to sleep in, and a house to call home. He has everything he would wish for, and the knowledge that my baby is completely content with what he has, with his life, made me so happy. I was inspired by my four year old, and as this holiday season approaches I hope we all can take a leaf out of his book. Now is a time for reflection on the past year and contemplation of all the blessings we have to be thankful for.

     I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to top that at bedtime tonight, but I'm sure together we can both think of something.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Things I'm Digging This Week

Hey there, everyone. I hope that you all had a good week. Here are a few things I've been lately:

The Blue Book of Fairy Tales

This Little Golden Book captured my attention as soon as I saw it due to the beautiful artwork. I adore fairy tales, but fairy tales with captivating artwork brings this Little Golden Book to the next level. This is one of the books that I think I enjoy more than my kids do. There are three stories in this book &  here is some artwork from each story: 
Rapunzel

Beauty and the Beast

Toads and Diamonds

Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Translucent Powder

I'm generally a bareMinerals girl, but sometimes I frankly can't afford it. Since I was low on funds and couldn't get the mineral veil compact that I wanted in order to get rid of on-the-go shininess, I thought I'd try a drug store brand and see how it held up. So far I have to say I'm pretty pleased. I'd still like to eventually get the mineral veil compact but this will do in the mean time. I use this when I'm out of the house and get a little shiny. I have sensitive skin and so far I haven't had any problem with this clogging my pores. 

bareMinerals Pop of Passion Lip Oil Balm

I've had my eye on this lip balm for a while and I finally got it! I was a little more excited than I should have been, I think, because my husband was giving me really weird looks as I ripped the balm out of the box in the car so I could put it on as soon as we left the store. I got the "peach passion" shade, which I adore. During the day I like to wear a neutral lip shade with a little pop of color; nothing too bright or gaudy. This balm has just enough color for my taste, and I'm so happy I finally got it.

Glade Holiday Candles

It's that time of year! I love warm and cozy scented holiday candles, and this year I decided to try "cashmere woods" as my pre-Christmas scent. It doesn't scream "SANTA IS COMING" but it hints that he may soon be on his way. After Thanksgiving I'll break out my pine tree scented Glade candles and make my house smell like we just stepped through the wardrobe and into a Narnia worthy winter wonderland! 








Friday, November 20, 2015

Bacon Spinach and Mushroom Flat Bread Recipe

The other day I was trying to figure out what to do with some garlic naan bread that I had in my freezer, and I decided to try and throw together some flat bread. I had never tried to make flat bread as an entree before, so I was a little worried. I didn't have any gooey cheese or a sauce to put on there to moisten the bread a bit, but I found that adding a little olive oil helped a lot (I love olive oil though). So, here is what I came up with. Feel free to change things up to reflect your own tastes, or even to elevate it a bit. If you try something out that you love please let me know how it turned out!

Bacon Spinach and Mushroom Flat Bread
 Ingredients:

  • 1 package of garlic naan bread
  • 1/2 bag of baby spinach
  • feta cheese
  • 4-5 mini portobello mushrooms without stems, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 of a large onion, sliced
  • 4 slices of center cut bacon
  • minced garlic* (optional, depending on how much garlic you like. Remember the naan is already seasoned with garlic, so don't over do it)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Directions:
  • Prepare your naan bread per the package instructions, but shave off a minute or two of the cooking time. (If you over cook your naan your flat bread will get super crunchy and difficult to eat.) Set aside.
  • Dice your bacon and brown it until crispy in a cast iron skillet. Remove from pan when browned and set aside to drain. Drain off most of the rendered bacon fat.
Please don't judge me because of my stained burners

  • In the same pan saute your mushrooms and onions until caramelized (add minced garlic now if you choose to do so). Remove from heat and add your spinach, stirring until your spinach is wilted. 

  • Generously brush your naan with EVOO, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly spread your vegetables over naan, and then sprinkle bacon crumbles over that. Top with a healthy sprinkle of feta cheese and drizzle with a little bit more EVOO (if desired). 
  • Bake for 5 minutes or so at 350* just to re-heat everything and voila, you're done. 
  • Garnish with some kalmata olives or Spanish olives and serve with grapes or a light tomato salad. 







Friday, November 13, 2015

Adventures in Applesauce

Sunday morning was spent in a haze of productivity and contentment. I had a clean kitchen, my morning coffee had been savored, and I had a boatload of apples. I felt the pull of my canner, and knew it was time to make some applesauce. It took a few hours and 14 apples, but I did it. Let me just say that I may need to invest in an apple peeler/corer because hand peeling, coring, and chopping 14 apples takes quite a bit of time. I didn't really mind though because I got to listen to music and pass apple chunks off to my youngest son, who apparently will only eat apples if I need them for something else. Here are a few pictures I snapped while I wasn't elbow deep in applesauce.









Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Star Munchkin Review

Yes. YES. I did it, I *finally* got Star Munchkin from The Game Store last week. Last Saturday my husband and I invited over the besties for a night of rum and tabletop gaming. I've wanted this Munchkin expansion ever since I discovered its existence, which was when my husband got Zombie Munchkin. I never realized how many expansions they have for that game! I think next on our list will be Steampunk Munchkin...but I digress. Time for the Star Munchkin review!

     So, first off I have to say that as huge Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Gallactica, etc. fans we really enjoyed all the nods to our favorite shows and movies found in the cards. 


My favorite card was the "Sidekick: Red Shirt" which can sacrifice itself for you if needed, but whenever you win a combat you roll to see if he gets excited and sacrifices himself anyway. My bestie over at Geek and Glam said her favorite card was the "Symbiotic Partner" card because it resembled a dalek, and she's a major Dr. Who fan.
     Game play was just like regular Munchkin. You can be different "races" like Cyborg, Feline, Mutant, etc. and you can be different "classes" like Gadgeteer, Bounty Hunter, Trader, etc. One variation to the original game in this version was the Sidekick cards. Unfortunately, I lost my rogue sidekick card attempting to steal the Bananafanafofaser (WHICH WAS RIGHTFULLY MINE) from Mr Geek, my bestie's husband. But don't worry, I totally stabbed him in the back and got my revenge. Plus, it doesn't hurt that I won the game *insert evil laughter*. Aside from the Red Shirt and Rogue sidekicks, there were also Androids, Loud Hairy Aliens, Faithful Robots, Beautiful Assistants, and Whiz Kids.
My husband, upon realizing his complete and total defeat at the hands of yours truly

Overall, it took us about an hour and half to play one game of Star Munchkin, but that may have been because we had five kids running around the house and we had to pause every so often to keep the gorilla warfare in my living room under control. Gaming with kids can result in some very long, drawn out games, so I though an hour and a half for a whole game was pretty good. Everyone had a lot of fun stabbing everyone else in the back, and we will definitely be getting the expansion decks . Methinks they would be a great stocking stuffer *cough* HUSBAND PAY ATTENTION *cough*. Thank you again, Steve Jackson Games, for another great night of tabletop gaming fun. 




Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Success With Cooking Light

     When my family went home to Virginia last June to visit my parents and (most of) my little brothers my mom gave me some cooking magazines that she didn't want any more. My mom knows that I horde cookbooks, so I guess she figured I could always use a little more clutter. I mean, who doesn't need more clutter in their life?
     Little did I know that one of the magazines she had given me was going to be a goldmine. She gave me the "Best-Ever Recipe Makeovers" edition of Cooking Light magazine and I have yet to try a recipe from this edition that I haven't liked.

      And it's not just me. My husband has loved everything I've made, and I've even had rave reviews from my friends for one of the side dishes I made for them. One of my very picky children even liked the crispy chicken nugget recipe that I made. So far I've made the following recipes with rave results: Cheesy Potato Soup, 30-Minute Filet Beef Bourguignonne with Mashed Potatoes, Savory Pan-Fried Chicken with Hot Sauce and Stewed Collards, Chicken Nuggets, Mongolian Beef, Cheddar Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Shallots, and Crispy Topped Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower Gratin. One of the things I really enjoyed about the magazine was that along with seriously cutting the fat content in some classically fattening dishes, Cooking Light also provided nutritional information for each recipe so I knew exactly how many grams of fat/fiber/protein/carbs along with the caloric count for all the recipes.
     The recipe that I was completely shocked was a success was the Brussels sprout and cauliflower gratin. I've been conditioned since childhood to gag at the mere mention of Brussels sprouts, but the picture of the dish in the magazine looked so tasty, I thought maybe I could stand to give the tiny cabbages another try. I made this side dish with a roasted chicken and schmaltzy potatoes one Sunday when some friends came over for dinner. Not only did I not gag when I ate this dish, I (and everyone else, actually) got seconds! The Brussels sprouts weren't soggy, smushy, and they didn't even taste like sweaty old socks. Since I enjoyed this recipe so much, I decided to include it here, in case you'd like to try something from Cooking Light before purchasing an issue. So, without further ado:

Crispy Topped Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower Gratin
Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 lb)
  • 4 cups trimmed quartered Brussels sprouts (about 1 3/4 lbs)
  • 1.1 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 2/3 cup half & half
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • cooking spray
  • 2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)


Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Cook cauliflower florets and Brussels sprouts in boiling water 2 mins, drain.
  • Weigh or lightly  spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine milk, and next 4 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a bowl; stir well with a wisk.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon to pan, cook 3 minutes or until bacon begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add onion and garlic; cook 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Stir in milk mixture; bring to a simmer. Cook 5 mins or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Spoon vegetable mixture into a 11x7 inch broiler-safe baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover dish with foil coated with cooking spray and bake at 375 for 20 mins or until bubbly. Remove dish to oven.
  • Preheat broiler to high.
  • Remove foil from dish. Combine cheese and panko; sprinkle evenly over vegetables. Broil 5 inches from heat for 4 mins or until browned. Let strand 5 mins before serving 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Just Call Me Half-Pint

   
      Cooling temperatures and a well timed episode of "Little House on the Prairie" rekindled my desire can. I really enjoy canning preserves at home (I know, I know. I'm a NERD, but don't act surprised. It's in the title of the blog, people). It may seem like a lot of work, and unnecessary when you consider the amount of canned goods at grocery stores, however I like it. I like it because a) I control what goes into the food my family is going to eat, b) I can customize what we can based on our tastes, c) any type of perceived self-sufficiency makes me feel happy and accomplished, and d) I feel like it brings me one step closer to being the prairie girl my eight-year-old self wanted to be when I first read "Little House on the Prairie". I wanted to BE Laura Ingalls Wilder.
     Little House rant aside, I've started canning again. I only have a hot water bath canner so I can only can foods that have high acidity. For low acidity foods I'd need a pressure canner and since those intimidate me I haven't gotten one yet. Canning uses fresh, seasonal ingredients so I've mostly been working with apples this autumn. I put up a batch of apple butter, and this weekend I'll be canning some applesauce. My apple butter was a big success, and my kids love applesauce so I'm not worried about it all getting eaten before it goes bad. In fact, I may need to do two batches of applesauce due to the rate my kids go through it.
     If you're interested in canning, homesteading, or just have a general DIY attitude toward life, you should check out a blog I read, Small Measure. Ashley English (who wrote my favorite canning book, pictured above) is a homesteader and author. She's written books on home preserving, making your own diary products, bee keeping, keeping chickens, etc. I've got a few of her books on my Amazon wish list, so if you're looking for a new blog to read or are interested in canning/homesteading give her blog or books a try. *Just so you know, I am in no way affiliated with Ashley English or her blog, I just like it so much I thought I'd give her some free publicity).*

Friday, October 23, 2015

Things I'm Digging This Week

Here are a few things I'm digging this week:

My new Harry Potter box set:
My husband got me this box set for our 8th wedding anniversary, which was earlier this month. I was really excited to have the books with the new artwork. This was such a perfect gift because a) I LOVE to read, and b) I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I grew up with the series, and am very emotionally attached. I ugly cry every time I re-read the ends of Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince, and throughout the entire Deathly Hallows book. 

Munchkin:
I love this game! It's not new to us, we've been playing Munchkin for a few years now, but we played it for the first time in a while last weekend and had such a fun time. Munchkin is a "kick-in the door" game where you have to fight monsters to progress in level and win, while also collecting treasure items to use or wear. Oh, and you're also supposed to screw-over as many of your opponents as possible. The cards are hilarious, and the game has a ton of expansions so the replay value is good (we have the original and zombie munchkin expansion). I can't wait to get the next expansion that I've had my eye on for a while: Star Munchkin. 

Delectable Hand Cream:
I got this hand cream in my October Ipsy bag, and it's my favorite item this month by far. It may be my new favorite hand cream in general. It smells..well....delectable. The scent I got was coconut and cream, and I absolutely adore it. And, just in case my best friend Haley is reading this.......no I did not taste it. I still think you're a horrible b*tch for that time you convienced me to taste that Jessica Simpson Dessert body butter from Bath and Bodyworks in the mall when we were in high school. That crap did NOT taste like sugar cookies and I still haven't forgiven you for that. But I totally would have done the same thing to you given the chance, so I still love you. 

Owen's Tie Guy Diaper:
Isn't it cute!! I pre-ordered this bad boy back in July, and just got it yesterday. It's a cloth diaper from Nicki's Diapers , specifically a one-sized pocket diaper. Buying from Nicki's is fun because they have a huge selection and their store brand is simply fantastic. Also, every time someone buys a Nicki's brand diaper Nicki's Diapers donates a diaper to an organization that assists people in diaper need called Giving Diapers, Giving Hope. This non-profit organization helps provide free cloth diapers to families in need, because let's face it: disposable diapers can get very expensive. So whenever I get a Nicki's diaper I feel good knowing that I'm also helping contribute to GDGH. 




Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award


Recently I was nominated by DarkenCoul for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers award. She, like myself, is a newbie blogger just trying to make it on the mean streets of the Internet. If you get a chance check out her blog, A Nightshade Dreamer. The award is for new and upcoming bloggers out there and it's purpose is to connect new bloggers and help grow your audience. The rules are simple, you must a) thank the person who nominated you and post a link back to their blog, b) nominate 7 bloggers for the award, c) answer the 10 questions posed to you, d) come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer, and e) display the award on your blog.

These are my responses to the questions posed to my by DarkenCoul:

1. What is your best childhood memory? 
I don't know exactly why this memory sticks out so strongly for me, but here we go. When I was little my mother was a single parent. She was a nurse and she worked all kind of crazy, long hours. A lot of the time the only chance she had to get housework done was either really late at night or early in the morning, or in other words while my brother and I were asleep. Some mornings I would wake up early, while it was still dark, to the smell of blueberry muffins baking. I'd hear the muffled sounds of my mother doing dishes or cleaning the floors while the muffins she baked for our breakfast would be in the oven. I'd sneak down the stairs, breathing deeply (b/c muffins, hello?), and I'd watch her. Now sometimes when I can't sleep I get up and do laundry, and bake blueberry muffins for my tinys. 

2. If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?
I would have to say I'd keep my wedding rings, my e-reader, my favorite coffee mug, my photo albums, and the outfits my sons came home from the hospital in. 

3. What is a moment in your life that you believe truly defines you?
Easy: the moment I became a mother. The very moment my son was born it was like the world shifted for me. I am a stay-at-home mom, so motherhood is literally my job right now. It is what drives me crazy, and what motivates me to be the best mom that I can be every day. 

4. If you could spend a day in the body of someone else and live their life for 24 hours, who would it be and why?
Uhm..........I guess the Queen of England. Here's why: a) I've always wanted a corgi, b) I'd get to try on all the crown jewels, c) I would have access to secret places tourists can't go and I'm nosey so you know I'd be checking them all out. Especially the Tower. 

5. If you had to live without one of your five senses, which would you give up and why?
If I HAD to give up one I guess it would be my hearing. I couldn't willingly give up sight b/c if I couldn't read I would go crazy. And before you think "just listen to audio books" let me stop you. They are NOT the same. I wouldn't want to give up taste either because good food is part of what makes life worth living. I need smell to taste food, so that would need to stay too, and I would want to keep touch b/c without it I'd feel numb or nothing all the time and that would be miserable.

6. If you could live in a book/TV/movie universe what would it be?
If I could live in book universe I'd probably choose the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series universe because of the sheer number of possibilities. In Anita's universe the monsters are real, so there are vampires, wereanimals, trolls, fairies, mermaids, etc. Creatures of myth and legend are not only in existence and acknowledged by the general public, but some of them even have legal rights. I love fairy tales and mythology so a world where they are real would be extremely interesting for me. 

7. What animal best represents you?
I'd have to say penguins. I love penguins, and I've always felt like if I would have been born as an animal, it would have been as a penguin.

8. If you could change one law, what would it be?
Jeeze........a tough one. I'm going to skip the obvious ones/most controversial ones that most people would choose because I'm not in the mood to get my soapbox out of storage. Instead, I'm going to choose a law I'd change at the state level, because it's a state issue and not a federal one. If I could change a law, I would allow certified nurse midwives to become licensed and practice in the state of Arkansas. Coming from a state that allows CNM's (Virginia) and moving to a state that only allows lay-midwives I was frustrated and dismayed. When I had my second son I was forced to have an OB because CNM's aren't allowed to practice in Arkansas. There is nothing wrong with OBs, but I wanted to have a midwife. I think that midwifery is over-due to make a major comeback in the US.

9. What's your silliest story?
One time I legitimately tackled my boyfriend (now he's my husband).I think I was 16 when this happened. What had happened was....I had gone to the store to get my husband's friend a danish for his birthday (it was his friends favorite) and I decided to grab a 6 pack of energy drinks. My friend and I promptly sat down and drank all of them, consecutively. We went a little bugnuts. We were running all over the place, screaming, carrying on; basically being crazy teenagers. My boyfriend's car pulled up to my house and he and his friend got out of the car (if I had been paying attention I would have realized that his dad, *my future father-in-law*, was driving and watching as we spazzed out in my front yard). I saw my boyfriend, screamed his name, and then tackled him. He.went.down. I then stood up, yelled "WE GOT YOU A DANISH", and threw the danish at my boyfriend's friend. The rest of the night is a blur. My boyfriend left though, bruised and confused. He still married me in the end though, so it worked out in the end. 

10. If there was one skill you could magically be a master of, what would it be?
*sigh* Math. I can't math. Everyone in my family makes fun of me because I'm so bad at math. If it's not basic addition and subtraction I'm probably not any good at it. No matter how hard I try I just can't understand it. When my husband uses small words and speaks very slowly in an attempt to teach me how to do algebra or trigonometry it's like he's speaking in tongues. I'd like to be able to master math so that I can finally get my family off of my back, plain and simple.

My nominees are:
Caffeinated Change
The Rambling Post
Once A Runner...
Mabe, With Love
Little and Loving It
Mama By Fire

My questions for my nominees are:
1. How did you meet your significant other?
2. If you could pick up and move to any foreign country, which one would you choose and why?
3. What is your best memory from high school?
4. What inspired you to start blogging?
5. What was your favorite childhood cartoon?
6. If you literally had to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, who's shoes would you choose?
7. What's your favorite scary movie? (I couldn't help myself, lol)
8. Who was your favorite teacher, and why?
9. What is your favorite show to binge watch on Netflix?
10. Of the three Deathly Hallows (the elder wand, the resurrection stone, or the cloak of invisibility), which one would you choose to keep and why?  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fantastic Autumnal Recipes

Autumn is my all-time favorite season. I love everything about it. Cool nights, brisk breezes, the smell of burn piles, pumpkin patches, trick or treating, scary movies, apple butter, sweaters, boots; there is nothing about autumn that I don't like. I particularly enjoy fall cooking. There's something about the stick-to-your ribs, hearty, home style meals that reappear on our fall menus that make me want to enjoy them while snuggled up with a good book.
I wanted to take the opportunity on the first day of October to share some fantastic pumpkin recipes with you.  Pumpkin: it's not just for pie, ya'll. The first recipe that I'm going to share is one I got from my bestie over at the Geek and Glam blog for Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili
Ingredients:
  • 1 tbs EVOO
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans (15 oz) black beans, rinsed
  • 1 lb ground meat (your choice, but ground beef and ground turkey work well)
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin, or 15 oz fresh pureed cooked pumpkin
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Directions:
  • Heat oil in large pan. Brown ground meat, and drain. Transfer to a slow cooker.
  • Add all other ingredients, mixing well. Cook on low for 5 hours, or on high for 3.
  • When done serve with desired toppings, and warm crusty bread. 


The second recipe that I wanted to share is one I came up with myself. I had roasted and pureed 2 pumpkins (I saved some for pie, some for chili and I had about 1 cup leftover). I also had some apple butter leftover that I canned last Fall, and needed to use. So, voila! I came up with a recipe for Pumpkin & Apple Butter muffins. They've been a huge success at my house, and I hope you enjoy them too!

Pumpkin & Apple Butter Muffins

Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz pureed pumpkin
  • 4 oz apple butter


Directions:
  • Pre-heat your oven to 375 and grease/place muffin cups into your muffin pan.
  • Cream your butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl. In another medium sized bowl mix together your flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.
  • Add your eggs and vanilla extract to your creamed butter and sugar and mix well. Add your pumpkin and apple butter to your wet ingredients, and mix.
  • Add half of your dry ingredients to your wet, and mix until blended. Add in the second half of your dry ingredients and mix until well blended. 
  • Spoon your mixture into your muffin tin. This recipe can yeild either 12 large muffins (what I chose to do) or 24 regular sized muffins.
  • Bake at 375 for 20 min or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

What Do You DO All Day?

     This past week has been insanely busy. Monday was spent running errands, getting craft supplies for a fundraiser at Michael's, prepping my items to consign at the Duck Duck Goose children's consignment event in Little Rock, and then driving them to Little Rock and checking them in. When I got home I started making my fundraiser items (flower pens). Tuesday Owen and I went grocery shopping, to the Rhea Lana's consignment event, and to the gym. Wednesday we went to Duck Duck Goose to shop for the bulk of the kids fall and winter clothes as well as a few toys and one home decor item that I was extremely excited about. (It is a painting that retailed for $59.99 at Kirkland's and I got it for $15.00!!)

     Thursday I babysat my friend's son, started cleaning my house for an upcoming visit from my mother-in-law, and drove to Maumelle to bring dinner to an ill church member. On the way home we stopped by Michael's for more craft supplies to make the flower pens (I wanted to make some Halloween themed pens). On Friday my mother-in-law and her sister came to visit for Grandparent's Day at my son's school. I was frantically cleaning right up until they called to tell me they were at the gate. We went to the luncheon at Liam's school and then came home to visit until my husband got off of work. My father-in-law works with a wonderful lady who crochets beautiful hats and booties for the babies born at the hospital where they work. She was kind enough to crochet both of my boys matching Minion hats for the winter, and my mother-in-law brought them to us.
(I cannot tell you how absolutely sweet this gesture was. I don't think I've even met this lady, and she's made us 4 adorable hats over the years. I hope the next time we visit my in-laws I can meet her and give her a big hug!)

     After my mother-in-law and her sister left to drive home we went to Rhea Lana's to get a few more consignment items (at half price!) and then went to the BX to pick up a birthday gift for a friend of Liam. We came home, had dinner, and I passed out for the night shortly after the kids fell asleep. Today we had a going away party for a co-worker of my husband, and tomorrow we have church, a birthday party to go to, and I have a meeting to work on the school fundraiser. 
     It may not seem like a crazy busy week to you, but it was to me. If you add in cooking, picking up and dropping off Liam at school and Nathan at work, and regular cleaning I felt like I had a jam-packed schedule this week. So, the next time you ask a stay-at-home mom what she does all day, rethink your question. Because I can promise you something we don't have time for is stupid questions. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

What Am I Going to Write About?

The past week has been a rough one. Last week Liam and I caught a tummy bug that he bounced right back from. I don't bounce as well these days, apparently. It took me a little longer to come back from than I would have liked. Being sick when you're a parent really really stinks. Responsibilities and all that jazz. Thankfully my husband was off of work for the long Labor Day weekend, and he left me in peace to be nauseous by myself and kept the kids occupied.

A friend of mine who has her own blog has asked me to guest write a post for her while she's out of town. I agreed and then sort of panicked. I have absolutely no idea what to talk about. The only other blog I've ever guest posted on is a cloth diapering blog that I like to read, and those posts are centered around cloth diapering or parenting. Her blog is mostly about her life (duh), geeky subjects, and girlie stuff. If anyone actually reads this and has any topic ideas they'd like to put forth I'd be more than glad to see them. Otherwise, I might end up pulling a topic out of a hat.

Now, I must venture forth and wake the dragon early from his nap. I have a parental advisory board meeting at my son's pre-k and Owen is coming with. Pray for me.

Friday, August 28, 2015

My Ulta Haul

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the girliest of girls. I never have been, really. I'd rather spend a quiet evening home than going out, I choose my clothes for comfort not trendiness, I like being outdoors (if I have have SPF 5000) and I'd rather my husband give me books over jewelry. That being said, I LOVE makeup. When I was a kid I had my little set of Tinkerbell play makeup, as a tween I had a caboodle full of drugstore makeup and nail polish from Claire's, and now my favorite place to shop (other than the Game Store or Barnes & Noble) is Ulta. My mother is also not a girly girl, so she couldn't really teach me how to apply products any more complicated than base and mascara (but she taught me a lot of other nifty stuff *LOVE YOU MOM*). So, for the past several months beauty channels on YouTube have been my friends. I STILL can't apply liquid eyeliner properly. Some things never change.
 I've gotten into prestige brands in the past few years, but every once in a while I like to get a drugstore brand or Ulta store brand product to try it and see how I like it. Some of the time the store brand is just as effective as a prestige brand, and it costs a lot less. Plus, trying new brands and new products can be really fun. Last weekend I had my hair done at the Ulta salon, and grabbed a few new things to try (I can never walk out of that place without buying something, much to husbands chagrin). Here's a look at my Ulta Haul:
  • Ulta Fabulous Face Cream Foundation: I am usually a Bare Minerals girl, but I thought I'd give this a try. I definitely wouldn't use this every day, because I have sensitive and acne prone skin. However, on a day I needed fuller coverage or if I was going out for a date I would use this. I think on a day to day basis I'm going to stick with my Bare Minerals. 
  • Ulta Super Blender Sponge: I grabbed this because I didn't have one, it's as simple as that. I don't use liquid or cream foundation very often so I never needed one before now. I used it with my new Ulta cream base and I liked it. 
  • Batiste Dry Shampoo: I've been searching for a good dry shampoo that doesn't make my hair look oilier than when I started, and I think I finally found it. As a bonus Batiste is about half the cost of the other dry shampoos I've tried. It smells pretty good, but the scent is definitely strong.
  • Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara: Not going to lie, I bought this mascara because of its name. I just had to try it. While I would NOT say it was better than sex, it was a pretty great mascara. I was recently disappointed with the Bare Minerals Lash Dominating Volumizing Mascara and was about to go back to my Ulta brand mascara that I like when this little tube of awesome caught my eye. I recommend it. 
  • Ulta Makeup Setting Spray: Before I bought and tried this spray I had never used a makeup setting spray before. Honestly, I didn't notice much of a difference. I'll try it again on a really hot day and see if it helps keep the makeup from melting off of my face. I hope it helps. It sucks to go through all the effort of applying makeup just to end up looking like a sad melty clown. 


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

First Day of School!



A major milestone in my life, and the life of my son, was reached last Monday. The first day of pre-school. Liam met this particular milestone with excitement, nervousness, and pride. He is a big boy now, after all. I met this milestone with trepidation, fear, and pride as well. That big boy is my baby, after all. Monday was his first day of school, and the first time I have ever left him in an all-day kind of facility. Other than the church nursery we've never left our kids anywhere for more than a few hours unless they were with family.

 My husband took the day off from work so he could be there for Liam and for me. He was just as affected by Liam's first day of school, he just didn't show it as much. I'm the emotional one, most of the time extremely emotional. However, I was really proud of myself this time. I held it together for my baby; I smiled and encouraged him in every way I knew how so that he would anticipate school with delight instead of dread. If he saw me looking panicked at the thought of leaving him, or sad because I was going to miss him all day, it would rain all over his parade. So, I waited until we got home to cry.

Liam's first day went really well. He had a great time, made a new friend, and is excited to go back. My first day went pretty well too. After I dried up the tears I got to enjoy spending time with my second son, my little wildman. I'm thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with Owen. He keeps me on my toes, believe me. So there, emotional experience documented. 

On a lighter note I got another guest blog post published! (yaaaaaaay). Here's a link to the blog post if you'd like to check it out. It's on a cloth diapering blog that I love. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Things I'm Digging This Week

Hello! This week has been made up of a flurry of small activities. I've been cleaning a lot, cooking a lot, and trying to mentally prepare for Liam's first day of pre-school. He's excited and I'm a wreck, but we won't get into that now. I'm sure an emotional, weepy blog post about how hard his first day of school was for me will be in forecast soon. Here's what I've been digging this week:

My Son's R2D2 Backpack

Liam chose this backpack for himself, with no coercion from my husband or myself. We went to Kohl's on the tax free weekend armed with my coupon, and got this backpack for only $14.99! If you push the yellow button on top it makes R2D2 sounds. Guess how many times that button has been push since we got it? Guess. You'll never be able to get it because it has happened so many times I've lost count. However, he's so happy with it I don't mind. (Oh, and I have no idea why he goes all "Miley Cyrus" every time we take a picture of him now, but that boy will not keep his tongue in his mouth!)

Descent: Journeys In the Dark (second edition)

My husband, our two friends, and I played Descent this past Monday. It was the first time my husband and I had ever played. I chose to play as Widow Tarha (as a necromancer) and I had a lot of fun. After I got over how many pieces this game has (omg so many pieces) and my friend's husband explained the gameplay to us, we jumped right in and had a good time. Now my husband wants to buy a copy for ourselves, but Descent is going to have to get in line. We have a game wish list as long as I am tall. 

Jamberry Nail Wraps

As usual, when it comes to anything new I am really late to the game. I almost always end up getting into something after it's been out for so long that no one seems to be excited about it anymore but me. My friend hosted a Jamberry party on Facebook, so I took a look around and participated in some of the party games. I was talking to my bestie about the wraps and she offered to let me try some that she had (I'm a firm believer in "try before you buy"). I put them on last night and I really like them. They're really cute and not too difficult to apply. Of course, the true test will be how they hold up to the rigors of mommyhood. I need to do some dishes, clean some stuff, change some diapers, and see how the wraps do. If they don't peel off or disintegrate completely then I'll be the newest passenger on the Jamberry train. Toot toot!



Monday, August 3, 2015

The TIE Fighter and the Tattoo

Last weekend, in a fit of madness, I agreed to play Star Wars Trivial Pursuit with my husband a.k.a the biggest Star Wars fan on the planet. I knew I had absolutely no hope whatsoever of winning. I played because a) it made my husband happy and if you're married you're supposed to do things for your spouse that make them happy yada yada yada and b) it helps me practice in case we play this game with friends, so I don't look ignorant.
While we were playing, this happened....

Me: How many triangular pieces make up a solar panel on the wing of a TIE fighter *may not be the exact wording of the question, but the number of panels was the important part*
Nate: Six!!
Me....................where is Nicaragua?
Nate..........................................................................shut up.

I couldn't help but laugh out loud. It was too funny that he knew the number of triangular sections on a solar panel on a TIE fighter, but wasn't sure where an actual country was. The amount of Star Wars knowledge inside my husbands head is astounding, nay scary. I would argue that random Star Wars knowledge may be taking up the space where actual facts could live, but I know better. My husband would accuse me of being part of the rebel alliance, I would roll my eyes, he would start quoting Darth Vader or Darth Sideous at me, and the whole game night would have gotten completely out of hand.

On another nerdy note, I took my husband on Friday to get his very first tattoo, which was Star Wars themed of course. He got the Galactic Imperial symbol on his left upper arm, and it looks really good.

He's already planning his next tattoo. I told him that tattoos were addictive, but he didn't believe me. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Post-vacation Pudge

We got back from our vacation to Virginia to visit family last week. It didn't take me long to notice that I'd gained some weight on our trip, which frankly wasn't very surprising given my discovery and subsequent delight in the Cheesecake Factory. Three words people: Banana. Cream. Cheesecake. Enough said.
Now that we're settled back in and getting back into the swing of things I've been working up the steam to get back into my fitness routine. Most of my motivation stems from the fact that some of my pants are no longer comfortable to wear, which honestly is motivation enough. Also, Owen thinks it's not only hilarious but also amusing as hell to pull up my shirt and pinch my stomach fat. Not cool, little dude, not cool at all. Since we've been home I've been focusing on cooking light meals and I've found inspiration in an issue of Cooking Light that my mother gave me. However, the recipe that I'm going to include below is inspired not from a magazine, but from a friend. My friend Danielle over at Geeks and Glam made a sort of hash once that I thought would be great as a veggie cake. So, without further ado here is my recipe for Veggie Cakes, which are a great summer side.

Veggie Cakes

Ingredients:
  • 1 zucchini (shredded)
  • 1 yellow summer squash (shredded)
  • 3-4 green onion (diced)
  • 2 carrots (shredded)
  • olive oil
  • egg
  • flour
  • dried rosemary, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder




Directions:

1. Shred your zucchini, squash, and carrots. Dice your green onion. Use paper towels or dish cloths to press your shredded veggies as much as possible in order to dry them. You want them as dry as possible or else your cakes won't crisp up and will be soggy. 
2. Once your veggies are dry put them into a medium to large bowl and mix in your egg, 1/2-1 tsp of garlic powder, 1/2-1 tsp onion powder, 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle in 1-2 tbs of flour and mix well. *All spices should be added to taste. If you want more or less of something go with what you like.*
3. Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a non-stick pan. Form balls out of your veggie mixture (make them a little bigger than a golf ball) and place them in your pan one at a time making sure to leave room in between each patty. Once they're down press them a little to form your cake.
4. Let your cakes cook until the bottom edges look golden brown and then flip them over to brown on the other side. When they look sufficiently golden for you, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. I also put a towel on top to soak up any residual oil. 

Here are what mine looked like in the end. They didn't end up quite as crispy as I wanted them because I didn't get my veggies dry enough. Use my cakes as a cautionary example!

These little guys are great as a side dish and reheat in a skillet or the oven very well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That



I have been so busy that I haven't been able to make time for writing. My family and I took a trip home to Virginia to visit my mom, dad, and brothers. We took a break in Memphis, TN to go to the zoo there. It was uh-mazing. The kids had a wonderful time. Nate and I loved it, and the only thing that would have made the visit better would have been if we could have fed/petted/rode the giraffes there.

Since our arrival in VA we've been visiting friends, shopping, having family time, and watching baseball games. All three of my youngest brothers play baseball so we've been watching them, but we've also gone to a Potomac Nationals game in Woodbridge. 

We went to a cookout/pool party on Independence Day, and had a blast. Yesterday my mother, brother Jackson, my two sons, and I went on a day trip to Amherst, VA to visit my Nana and her wonderful husband Cal on their farm. The kids had an awesome time running around and playing with the animals. My Nana and Cal have cows, chickens, horses, an awesome donkey named General Mosby, and dogs. Jack, Liam, and Owen rode one of their horses, Peach. 

Tomorrow we're heading up to the National Zoo with a friend of mine and her kids. I'm excited because my husband and I haven't been there since we were kids, and I know Liam and Owen will love it. On Friday my sister from another mister, Haley, my mom and I are going to a place similar to Painting with a Twist where we can paint and drink wine, so that's going to be spectacular. Next week before we head home Nathan and I are going to have a day to ourselves and we're going to D.C. to check out some museums and memorials that Nathan didn't get to see when we lived here. We head home on Wednesday. So far we've had a really fun time, and I am totally and completely exhausted.