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).*