Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Economy Meals: Chicken Two Ways

     I hope that everyone had a very merry Christmas and holiday season. My family was blessed with a wonderful, if exhausting, holiday. Now that the hustle and bustle (and expense) of the holiday season is over I've been turning to some easy, cheap, and comforting dishes to cook. Since it's pretty inexpensive to buy a whole chicken, I like to keep one on hand in my freezer chest. Whole chickens are a great way to stretch your dollar, as you can often make one bird go for two meals. Here are two recipes using one chicken: Roasted Chicken and Potatoes & Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. Last night I roasted a chicken for dinner, and tonight I'm making the soup.

Roasted Chicken and Schmaltzy Potatoes
Ingredients:
  • 1 whole chicken, thawed with packet removed from the inside
  • 4 large red potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Weber Cajun seasoning
  • roasting pan
     Remove your chicken from its wrapper and pat dry. Place in a roasting pan. Let it sit in your fridge for about an hour to allow the skin time to dry. About 45 mins before you plan to pop it in the oven remove it from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature. You don't want to cook a cold, soggy chicken. You won't get yummy crisp skin that way. Always dry your bird and allow it to come somewhat to room temperature.
     While your chicken is sitting, thinly slice your red potatoes and put them into a large bowl. Lightly toss them in olive oil, and then add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until you're about to put your chicken in the oven. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
     Once your oven is ready to go it's time to remove your bird from the roasting pan and set on a plate or cutting board. Take your seasoned red potatoes and layer them on the bottom of the pan in order to cover just the surface area that your chicken takes up. Think of it like a bed of potatoes for your chicken. You only want to put the potatoes where the chicken will be, but it's okay if the potatoes peek out from under the bird. It doesn't have to be exact. 
     Next, place your chicken on top of its bed of potatoes. Lightly drizzle your chicken with olive oil and rub it in all over the bird. Next, sprinkle some of the Weber Cajun seasoning all over the bird, and rub that in also. Do this to taste; you may also add additional salt and pepper to taste. 
     Place your uncovered roasting pan in the oven and let it roast for three hours at 300 degrees. Low and slow cooking will give you a beautifully roasted bird. When the three hours is up, remove your pan from the oven and allow the chicken to rest for at least five minutes before you check it with a meat thermometer to ensure it's done. Carve up your chicken, and serve it with the potatoes that cooked underneath your bird. They will have slowly roasted and soaked up all that amazing schmaltz from your chicken. Trust me, it's delicious. If you want more tips on roasting chickens check out this Bon Appetit article.

Now, this is important. After your family has enjoyed its wonderful roast chicken dinner, save any leftover chicken AND the carcass. DO NOT throw away the bones and/or skin and meat left on them. They will be used in your second day recipe, which could be:

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients:
  • leftover roasted chicken and carcass
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced thinly
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • olive oil
  • 3 chicken bullion cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • noodles of choice (I usually use egg noodles)
  • 12 cups of water
  • salt & pepper to taste
     In a large soup pot or dutch oven heat 2-3 tbs olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in your diced veggies and cook until they become tender, adding garlic in the last 2-3 mins. Do not add the garlic when you add the carrots, celery, and onion to avoid scorching your garlic. After your garlic has been in your pot for a few minutes add your water, bay leaves, and your leftover chicken & carcass. Bring to a boil, and once you've reached a boil reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
     After the two hours has elapsed, remove your chicken carcass & bay leaves from the pot and turn off heat. Once your carcass has cooled, pick it clean. Return your meat to your soup pot and discard all bones, cartilage, and skin along with your used bay leaves. Add your bullion cubes and salt & pepper to your soup and bring to a boil. 
     Once your soup is boiling add in your noodles. I don't specify an amount because I know some people like lots of noodles and some people do not. Add in how every many noodles of whatever type you desire and cook them for as long as it says on the package directions. Alternatively, you could reduce your heat to a simmer and cook your noodles for about half an hour, or until done. Once your noodles are cooked your soup is ready to enjoy. Add a nice side salad and some crusty French bread or biscuits to make this a warming, homey meal.

Friday, December 16, 2016

My $50 Ulta Haul

When you combine $50 in Christmas money and a 20% off your entire purchase coupon, magic can happen. My Nana sent our family $50 each for Christmas (thank you again Nana!). I spent most of the morning shopping on Ulta.com and I finally found what I wanted to get. Ulta products were buy 2 get 2 free, so I felt like I did pretty well making my $50 go the distance. Here's my Ulta haul:



I scored 1 pack of Biore charcoal strips, an Ulta blush brush, an Ulta highlighting brush, a dual-ended Ulta contouring/strobing brush, an Ulta concealer palette, and the Ulta Brilliantly Beautiful Color Essential collection in bronze. All for $50 and free shipping! This girl cannot wait to play around with my new makeup. I've never contoured in my life, and I've decided to try and see how I do now that I have my new brushes. Hopefully it isn't too ghastly, and if it is I'm sure the kids won't care. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I hope that everyone is kicking off their holiday season in style. Whichever holiday you celebrate, I wish you a happy holiday. In my house we're in the Advent season in anticipation for Christmas. We spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my in-laws, and my kids had a blast. As a military family, we don't get to see our extended family nearly as much as we would like to. Due to this separation it's doubly as sweet and exciting when we do get to see them. We capped off our visit with family with a trip to Branson, MO to ride the Polar Express. It was a wonderful experience for the whole family and my kids were thrilled. It was a bit costly, but I'm so glad we went.
                           
My mother-in-law took us to the square in downtown Fayetteville for Lights on the Square. There were food vendors and pony/camel (?)/carriage rides. Ever seen a Christmas Camel? We have. Liam called the ponies Christmas donkeys. 

                         

On the Polar Express we were read the book, given hot cocoa and cookies (after a very snappy dance number), were hailed by characters from the book, got a ride through a Festival of Lights, and to top it all off Santa himself came aboard to give everyone a Christmas bell. 

Today we're hoping to finish putting up decorations in the house, and as soon as I get a tree skirt our Christmas tree will be complete. So from my family to yours, we're wishing you a merry Christmas.





Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cyber Monday Magic!

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


Get an early start on Cyber Monday today with ModCloth. Everything on their site is 30%! Just think about that: 30% off a stunning holiday party dress; gifts for everyone on your list; not to mention the shoes *drool*. Hurry over to ModCloth this Sunday through Wednesday and use the code CYBER16 to score 30% off your entire purchase, and as always all domestic orders get free shipping! So don't forget: EVERYTHING is 30% off at ModCloth during the Cyber Monday event (ends 11/30 at 9 AM EST) when you use code CYBER16. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

What I'm Digging This Week: The All Beauty & Skincare Edition

This week I'd like to share some of the beauty products and skincare that I've been into lately. Just so you know, I don't get any monetary compensation for promoting these products. I just enjoy these products so much I'd like to share them with you. Some of my friends sell these products, so if I can help them earn business through my honest reviews all the better!

 Mary Kay Timewise Microdermabrasion Plus Set



I like microdermabrasion, but I can't use anything with microbeads in it. My pores are so incredibly large the little beads can get stuck in my skin and cause all kinds of blemishes. I love this set because a) it doesn't have microbeads; b) it came with a pore minimizer, which nicely blurs my pores and makes them look smaller (it can't actually make pores smaller, because you're stuck with the skin God gave ya); c) it sloughs off dead skin without being too harsh. I've had some microdermabrasion be really rough, and it felt like I wasn't just taking off dead skin cells, I was taking off a layer or two of my face. I use the "refine" microdermabrasion about twice a week, and I use the pore minimizer after, or underneath my makeup. 

Mary Kay Timewise Firming Eye Cream


I LOVE this eye cream. L.O.V.E. It's thick and creamy, and when I lightly dab it on my under-eye area it glides on really smoothly. It hydrates and helps with my under-eye mom bags. I've also noticed that my dark circles aren't as noticeable any more. While I don't have to worry about crows feet and wrinkles just yet, this cream is also supposed to be great for dealing with these signs of aging. I use this cream every night before bed, and sometimes in the morning too if I've had a particularly rough night. This cream has now become a permanent part of my beauty routine. If you'd like to try it you can find this and many more amazing skincare products here

Tyra Beauty What Lipstick? in "Younger Man"


This lipstick is now my #2 go to shade for Fall. I got it as part of a silent auction prize and am so glad I did. Tyra Beauty is relatively new, and my friend over at the Geek and Glam blog became a "Beautytainer" (what they call their consultants). So now I've got a hook up. This is a matte lipstick in a nude rose color; it's great by itself but you can easily take your look up a notch in the glam department if you add some lip gloss on top of it. I like this What Lipstick? because it glides on really smoothly and has staying power, even if I forget lip primer. If you want to get some for yourself you can find the link to this product here

Tyra Beauty Instant Gratification Mask


This face mask was also part of my silent auction prize. I was really excited to pop this mask on, grab a good book, and have a nice long soak in the tub while the mask did it's thing. It's only an eight minute mask but it leaves your skin feeling totally refreshed. I usually like to use face masks at night once a week when I'm relaxing before bed, but this mask is one I'd actually recommend that you use in the morning or before going out. It brightens and evens skin tone, and who doesn't want to do that before they go out to face the world?








Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Things I'm Digging This Week

Happy October everyone! This is my favorite month and we have been knee deep in Halloween decorations, pumpkin patches, and scary movies/shows. I decided to take a break and show you some of the things I've been digging this week: fall edition! Everything I'm going to share with you this week is either related to Halloween or Autumn somehow.

A Touch of Evil

 A few months ago my bestie and I were walking around our local game store when we saw some of the expansions for A Touch of Evil. Unfortunately the store didn't (and never seems to) have the original game in stock, so my husband ordered it from Amazon for me as an anniversary present. I know, I'm such a lucky nerd girl. I love Last Night on Earth, which is also made by Flying Frog Productions, so I had really high hopes for this game, and so far I haven't been disappointed. It's really fun, especially this close to Halloween. Some time in the near future I'll post a game review with more pictures and information.

Ipsy October Glam Bag

I am in LOVE with this bag. It is absolutely adorable, wonderful for the spooky mood I'm in all October, and it is the perfect size to be my makeup bag that lives in my purse. Honestly, I think this month I was more excited about getting the glam bag than I was about the products inside it. 

Bare Minerals Pop of Passion Lip Oil-Balm


A while back I posted about how much I loved this balm in "Peach Passion". It is seriously my go-to shade for spring and summer. Now that autumn is upon us, I wanted to find a deeper shade that didn't wash me out. I decided to try the "Rose Passion" shade the last time I was at Ulta and I'm so glad I did. Now I have a new favorite lip-balm for autumn and winter. I like it because it glides on like a lip butter and has a sheer color, so it is perfect for day time and can easily be added to for a more bold night lip color.

The Exorcist on FOX

THIS SHOW! If you're looking for a great and creepy show to watch this October in preparation for Halloween this is the show for you. I've seen the original movie (and the sequels/prequel) and I've also read the book, so I was concerned with how Fox would sustain the action and scary atmosphere. I quickly learned after episodes two and three that there will be no problem whatsoever with an extended creep-factor. I highly recommend it. Even my husband thought it was creepy, and that is really saying something because he usually doesn't like scary movies/shows and almost never gets creeped out by one.  





Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mary Kay Makeover

     Who doesn't love a new makeup look? This lucky girl has the hookup! I have a few friends who are independent sales consultants for various makeup brands, and today I decided to try one of the new "Makeup Artist Looks" from Mary Kay. A good friend of mine, Stephanie, became a Mary Kay consultant a few months ago and as I perused her website I found a few looks I thought I'd like to try. I fell in love with their "Red Alert" look, and decided that this red lipped classic would pair wonderfully well with a sweater and boots ensemble and knew it had to be mine.
     Luckily enough for me, I already had a few of the MK products needed to complete the look from a party a while back and only had to buy the makeup I was missing from Stephanie. This look includes the following Mary Kay products: MK Mineral Eye color in "Spun Silk" and "Espresso", MK Eyeliner in "Black", MK Mineral Cheek Color in "Strawberry Cream", MK Lip Liner in "Red", and MK Lipstick in "Red".
     The only thing that the look on the Mary Kay site said to do that I chose not to do was winged eyeliner. I can't make eyeliner wings to save my life, so I didn't even try this time. So, without further ado here is my completed look:
   

I thought it ended up looking pretty good. Since I'm so pale (like Casper the friendly ghost pale) a red lip really REALLY stands out on me. If you liked this look or wanted to see some of the other makeup artist inspired looks or play with their virtual makeover app check out Stephanie's Mary Kay website. Have fun!

     


Monday, October 3, 2016

Free Gift From ModCloth!

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

Hurry over to ModCloth before this deal slips through your fingers! On all purchases over $150+ you can get a FREE travel case with a set of lush makeup brushes & a mirror. ModCloth has all their beauty and style bases covered on this one. And, to top it off, the travel case is super cute. These free gifts are only available while supplies last, so make sure you head over to ModCloth and get one while you can! 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Motherhood and Stockholm Syndrome: What DOES the Fox Say?

     It all started one day at school. My son was in P.E. when his teacher made the fateful decision to let the kids dance all period. It wasn't the dancing that was going to create a ripple effect in my life, however: it was his choice of song. He played "What Does The Fox Say?" by Ylvis for a room full of five-year-olds. That bastard.
   
      From that day forward my son wants to listen to this song as much as he possibly can. I can honestly say that his obsession with this song was the first thing he's ever liked or done that made me feel old simply because I cannot comprehend why he loves it so much. It's an annoying, weird song. Well, now is about the time I tell you the tale of how I began to identify with my captor and can sing along to this song with my son like a pro. 
     Sometimes, as a parent (especially a stay-at-home parent because you're with your kids all the time) you find yourself being bombarded by a kids TV show or song on a 24/7 basis. My son wanted to listen to "What Does the Fox Say" in the car, at home, he sang it in the tub, I think I even heard him say "the seal goes ow ow ow" in his sleep one time. When you find yourself listening to the Frozen soundtrack for the 100,000,000 time, or watching Doc McStuffins like it's a TWD marathon parents like me basically go through the five stages of grief.
     First: denial. No, absolutely not. There is no way he can possibly want to listen to that song AGAIN. I can't take one more verse. Should I pretend like I didn't hear him, or tell him YouTube is broken? "Oops, sorry son. You listened to this song so many times you broke the internet."
     Second: anger. I HATE YLVIS. Those dumb bastards wrote this song knowing knowing it was basically musical crack for kids. WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT? Do they have kids? By the old gods and the new I hope their kids get addicted to The Wiggles and they have to listen to the "Fruit Salad" song one hundred times a day until they die. 
     Third: bargaining. Please. Not again. Don't make mommy listen to this song again. If you don't make mommy listen to this song again I'll get you an ice cream cone. Heck, you can have a pint of ice cream. No? No ice cream? Okay, that's cool man. Whatcha want? I've got candy. No? Do you want some money? I'LL GIVE YOU MONEY. Just don't make me listen to that song again. Would you consider wearing headphones? Oh they hurt your ears? Well this song hurts mommy's ears and her feelings. 
     Fourth: depression. I'm never going to feel joy again. It's so cold. Ylvis has over 624,000,000 views on Youtube and I think at least 1,000,000 of them were my son. Why? Why me? He even wants to be a fox for Halloween so he can terrorize other people with this song. I'd cry but that well ran dry a long time ago. 
     And finally, fifth: acceptance. You know, I guess it's kind of catchy. They even have some scat at the end there, now that brings me back to my own 90's childhood. Can we listen to "What Does the Fox Say?" again? HECK YES. In fact, I think it's time for a DANCE PARTY. You be the guy who sings in the beginning and I'll be the guy who sings the second verse. Daddy can make the animal sounds. LET'S ROCK THIS JOINT!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Painted Fox Home Buy More/Save More Sale!

                                           
Photo by Patty @1greenacreslane found at www.paintedfoxhome.com

Don't miss out! The Painted Fox Home is having their store-wide buy more save more sale. Autumn has just begun, so there is no better time than the present to update your home with rustic farmhouse decor. Just click on this link to start shopping before these amazing deals disappear. And don't forget; every item ships free!

Monday, September 19, 2016

It's A.....


IT'S A BOY!

Big, surprise, since we already have two boys. Well, get ready for #3. We haven't decided on a name yet, we're still playing around with a few options to see what fits. We're just so happy that so far the little guy looks healthy. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Oregon Trail Table Top Game Review


     
     That's right '90's kids! Your favorite neon green 8-bit computer lab game from elementary school is now a table top card game! As a huge fan of the neon version we played at school and the reanimated version that we had on CD-ROM at home I know that I had to have the card version. When I first discovered that Target had just stocked Oregon Trail on it's shelves I immediately went and bought a copy. Just like the computer game, the card game is HARD. You most likely will not make it to Oregon and dying of dysentery is a distinct possibility. Or a snake bite. Or starvation. Or exposure.
     So far my husband, our two friends, and ,myself have played nine games and we STILL haven't made it to Oregon. Even though we lose supplies fording rivers, die quite frequently, and are always in need of a new wagon axle, we still have a lot of fun playing.
     Just like the computer game, the goal of the card game is to get from Missouri to Oregon. If at least one member of your wagon party survives, everyone wins. There are trail cards, supply cards, and calamity cards. Each player is dealt trail and supply cards, and you only draw calamity cards if you are directed to by the trail card you play on your turn. There are ten rounds of the game, each round consisting of laying down five trail cards from point a (Missouri) to point b (Oregon). Once you have five cards down you stack them up and begin your new set of five right in front of the first stack. By the end of the game (if you don't all die horribly) you will have ten stacks leading from Missouri to Oregon and your team wins the game. I think the closest we've ever gotten is to set nine.

Calamity cards are only drawn when directed on a trail card. Only the player of the card draws a calamity card. Calamities can range from illness, snake bites, injuries, broken wagon parts, etc.

Supply cards remedy calamity cards. You draw supply cards before you set out from Oregon and you can get new cards if you play a Town or Fort card. Players may use their supply cards to help other teammates. Supply cards that are not in hand make up the "store". 

     I recommend this game, it's fun and has the nostalgia factor going for it. Maybe one day, somehow, my wagon party and I will finally make it to Oregon. 




Thursday, July 28, 2016

It's Been A Long 5 1/2 Weeks...

     At the end of last June my husband left to go TDY in Mississippi. He was going back to tech school to retrain for a different job in the USAF. While I was excited for him and his new career prospects, I was a little daunted at the thought of five and a half weeks alone with my two boys. Now, before you launch into the "five and a half weeks is nothing to a military spouse! Try a year long deployment and then talk to me! Wuss!" tirade let me just say: I know. Five and a half weeks isn't that long. It's not long at all. However, to a pregnant woman with two small children who had never experienced a spouse going TDY or on a deployment, five and half weeks can be overwhelming. And it was a long five and half weeks. We had baby issues (everything ended up being okay), car troubles (again, our van "Kevin" is fine), and we traveled home to Virginia to visit family. My kids were troopers and they dealt amazingly well with my husband being gone. From time to time though, I still felt overwhelmed. Then I would feel guilty for feeling overwhelmed when so many other military spouses deal with so much worse. In the end, I decided that it was okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes. I did my best while he was gone, and boy am I glad he's back. Now things can get back to normal, or as normal as things around here ever are. I hope to write more soon. Right now it's time to put my feet up and hopefully convince my husband to rub them.

Monday, June 13, 2016

It Wasn't You, It Was Me

     The last two months have been so crazy that I completely dropped the ball and haven't written at all. First we had my husbands and my son, Liam's, birthdays. I tried to make Liam's party as easy on myself as I could (because I get completely stressed out when planning events) and despite my best efforts I still ended up a hot mess. The important thing that I cling to was that I was better than I was last year. At least a little.
     Next we had the end of Liam's school year and his pre-school graduation. It was adorable and emotional and incredibly bitter-sweet. Now I have to readjust to having my little 5 year-old ball of energy home all day. He's already eating us out of house and home. Apparently growing boys need Goldfish, pb&apple butter sandwiches, chips, and diced pears asap.
                   
     Immediately after school was over we all drove to visit my in-laws for Memorial Day weekend. We decided to bring our nephew back with us for a visit for about 2.5 weeks so he and our boys could enjoy each others company. The kids had a great time, but again, it made life a little more stressful.
     Now my husband is getting ready to go back to tech school for five weeks, and I'm trying to mentally prepare for his five week absence. As a military spouse I know that five weeks is nothing compared to what it could be, and I'm not trying to whine. It's just the first time since he went to basic training in 2011 that we've been apart longer than two weeks. So, it'll be an adjustment. I have lots of things planned to keep the kids occupied so they don't dwell on Daddy's trip.
     Hmmmmmm, what else has been going on that's added stress into the daily mix? Oh yeah. We found out on Memorial Day that we're expecting baby Gray #3! We're very excited about the news and can't wait to find out if we'll be blessed with a little girl (please please please) or another handsome little boy.
   So there you have it, that's what's been keeping me away from the keyboard. It wasn't you, it was me.

Friday, April 29, 2016

What's In My Make Up Bag?- Spring

As I was transitioning my winter essentials from my makeup bag to make room for my new spring favorites I thought it might be fun to do a blog post about what's in my bag. My bag is a small one, and I don't carry around a ton of stuff with me, but I DO change out what is in it seasonally. Right now I'm using an adorable bag that I got from Ipsy that fits perfectly into my purse. So without further ado, here's what's in my makeup bag:


  • bareMinerals Mineral Veil compact: No matter what foundation I use, I know I can always use my mineral veil for touch-ups. It's translucent and works well with everything. It's always in my bag, regardless of the season. 
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil: I have this pencil in "ozone" which is basically clear. I keep it in my makeup bag because it can work with any lipstick color I choose. So, no matter what color I use, I know that if I need to reapply this lip pencil will come in handy. 
  • Covergirl Lip Perfection Gloss Balm: This is a recent drug store purchase that I got on a whim to try. I like it a lot, especially since it's sheer. I'm uncomfortable with bright lip colors, and I'm trying to venture out of my neutral comfort zone. This lip balm is perfect because it's a pop of color without being overwhelming. The shade is #217. 
  • Calvin Klein Endless Euphoria Rollerball: This is my new fragrance. I've been trying to find something to replace the old one I've been using since I was 18 (Curious) and I finally found it in Endless Euphoria. I keep a rollerball in my purse so I can use it any time I want. I usually put it on before I leave the house but I like to have it on hand. 
  • bareMinerals Pop of Passion Lip Balm: I always keep this in my makeup bag because I use it a lot. It's my standard go-to day time lip color. I absolutely love it because it glides on like a lip butter, the color lasts, and it's a little sheer. The shade I use is Peach Passion. 
  • Jersey Shore Sun Mongongo Lip Conditioner: I use this like chap stick or a lip primer. I got it in an Ipsy bag a while ago and have it on hand in spring/summer months.
  • Gardener's Hand Healer: This is a great travel sized moisturizer. I wash my hands quite a bit, so I like to keep some kind of moisturizer in my bag. I got this sample from Ipsy and it's a pretty good moisturizer. 



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Time for J.O.Y and Petit Jean State Park

This past weekend I spent my time at Camp Mitchell on Petit Jean mountain. Camp Mitchell is an Episcopal camp where there is a lodge, chapel, cabins, farm, etc. Many events are held at Camp Mitchell from weddings to summer camp, but the event I was there for was Time For J.O.Y. Last year I was a retreatant at Time for J.O.Y. and I had such a moving experience I decided that I wanted to come back as a volunteer to work this year. I met a bunch of really wonderful ladies, reconnected with a few of the amazing ladies I met last year, and spent the weekend in one of the most beautiful and spiritual places that I've ever been. Last year I didn't get a chance to go on the hike to Cedar Falls in Petit Jean State Park, and this year I made sure to go. For anyone who lives in Arkansas: you need to make time for a visit. It's gorgeous. There is also a lodge (the Mather Lodge) if you want to grab a bite to eat before you leave. Here are just a few pictures I took from the Overlook Trail:

 

The two pictures below are the view from Grace Lodge at Camp Mitchell:



I hope that one say soon my husband and I can go back to Petit Jean State Park and go on the hike down to the falls. I think that scenic hike followed by lunch or dinner at the Mather Lodge would make a lovely date.

On a side (and completely unrelated note) I'm really excited that I got a guest blog post published yesterday. If you'd like to check it out you can find it here on my favorite cloth diaper blog, The Cloth Diaper Whisperer.



Friday, April 1, 2016

Things I'm Digging This Week

This week has been all about the baseball. My eldest son started playing tee ball and had his first team practice on Tuesday (go Astros!). He had a great time playing with his teammates and I had a difficult time corralling my youngest son who ninja vanished every time I tried to watch Liam play. He also got past me once and got onto the field and I had to chase him down. Everyone thought it was really funny. I was less than amused. I told Owen that he should cooperate a little more at Liam's next practice. Then we laughed and laughed because we both know that's not going to happen. Ah, good times.
Anywho, here are a few (of the non-baseball related) things I've been digging this week:

Fitbit HR Charge
My mom got me a Fitbit HR Charge for my birthday and I love it. It tracks your steps, heart rate, floors climbed, calories burned, sleep patterns and can even act as a caller ID when linked with your cell phone. The Fitbit app allows you to track your food and water intake, set fitness and sleep goals and participate in challenges with your friends. My husband liked mine so much he *had* to go out and get one for himself.

Benefit Roller Lash Mascara
I got a mini Benefit Roller Lash mascara as my free Ulta Rewards member birthday gift (just another reason that I love Ulta). I've used this mascara 3-4 times since I got it and I'm already a big fan. A huge factor that affects my judgment on a mascara is the wand. If the wand basically looks like a pipe cleaner I have a horrible time applying the mascara and end up tossing it. The formula could be great but if I can't get it on properly then I won't use the mascara. I like this wand because it's silicon and doesn't get blobs of mascara on it. It's also curved to help get maximum curl on your lashes. I give it 5 stars. 

bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream
This cream has taken the #1 spot in my foundation collection. I.Love.It. It's sort of like a BB cream in that it has a little color, broad spectrum SPF 30, and marine botanicals to really jump start your moisturizing routine. You can have pretty sheer coverage, but if you want to you can build it up a bit. I've worn it by itself, and I've also set it with my regular bareMinerals foundation. I've been using it since my birthday last month and I've noticed a marked difference in my skin, so I recommend this product to anyone who needs a little more moisture without overdoing it. 

"A Touch of Stardust" by Kate Alcott
This novel was one of my most recent great Barnes & Noble bargain section find. Last month I read "How to Be an American Housewife" (which was phenomenal) and this month I'm diving into Alcott's novel. It's set during the filming of Gone with the Wind, and the main character gets fired by David O. Selznick and becomes Carol Lombard's assistant. The novel mirrors the romance and Rhett and Scarlet on screen and the true life romance of Carol Lombard and Clark Gable, all while the main character pursues her dream of becoming a screen writer. I'm several chapters in and so far I've really enjoyed it.  







Saturday, March 19, 2016

Garvan Gardens and My Ulta Birthday Haul

Hello everyone! Yesterday I celebrated my 29th birthday. I had a fantastic day celebrating with my family. My husband took me on a picnic to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs and later in the evening we all went out to dinner as a family at one of my favorite restaurants and I got to go shopping at Ulta.
               
               

I was pretty excited about my #ultahaul this time around. Armed with a few coupons and some birthday money from my mom (thanks again, Mom!) I went in to get a few things I needed and a few things I didn't *need*. Here's what I got:
  • 2 Simple Makeup Remover Wipes (BOGO 50% off) plus a $2 off coupon
  • 1 box Biore strips ($1 off coupon)
  • 1 travel sized Living Proof Dry Shampoo
  • 1 Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Gel Cream
  • 1 Bare Minerals Smoothing Face Brush
  • 1 free sample of Bare Minerals 5 in 1 Cream Eye Shadow
  • 1 free Benefit Roller Lash Mini Mascara (Ulta Platinum Birthday Gift)
I only spent $80 and I got 2.25x ulta points since I'm platinum AND it's my birthday month. I was pretty happy with my haul, and my husband was just happy that I was happy. I can't wait to try out the Complexion Rescue cream later today. All in all, I had a fabulous birthday.



Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Spring Dress Sale at ModCloth

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

Daylight savings time is about to end, and nothing will help you "spring" forward quite like a darling new dress from ModCloth. Right now ModCloth is having a fantastic sale: you can get 20% off all dress orders of $100+ with coupon code FROLIC20! So head over to ModCloth and add something fun and flirty to your wardrobe, but hurry! This sale ends Saturday 3/12/2016!


Monday, February 29, 2016

Okay, February...Be Done Now

     Happy Leap Day! Things have been crazy around here this month, so much so that February has gone by in a complete blur. My husband completed ALS and graduated, and my baby Owen turned 2 (!!!). My in-laws came to visit, our van broke down, and to cap off such a crazy month both of my boys woke up this morning with a horrible stomach bug. I'm kind of glad that February is the shortest month of the year, because I don't think I could take much more of this. Some of this month's events have been great ones: our visit with the in-laws, Owen's birthday, and my husband's graduation. Great, but stressful for someone like me who gets horrible "host" anxiety. Really, other than the vomit-capades this morning the only "bad" or difficult event was our van's transmission dying. So March, if you could just be a chill and relaxing month that'd be great. No vomit or catastrophic mechanical failures please!
     Starting today I'm renewing my focus on my writing. I love this blog, and I want to make it into something better. I hope to help it grow and become truly reflective of myself as I am. Being a military spouse can be lonely and isolating, and this blog was created so that I could feel like I had someone to talk to when I felt alone. So thank you, anyone and everyone who reads my blog. Comments, and even page views, let me know that in some way I'm being heard. Thank you for being there and listening while I shovel emotional crap.

     Okay, enough with the heavy. This past weekend I crossed a line. A big one. A big, nerdy line. I played a Dungeons & Dragons board game with my husband and our friends. And I even posted about it on Instagram (no denying it now).
My archer facing Shimmergloom, the lamest dragon in the history of dragons. I mean...come on....Shimmergloom?

I remember sitting on my dad's lap when I was a little girl and blowing on his D20 for good luck when he played D&D with his friends. I've never played "real" D&D on paper, and I think that this board game may be the closest thing to it I can manage. That being said, it was fun. We slayed the dragon, and I only died once (which is good for me). This nerd girl just got a little bit nerdier, if that's even possible. 


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Things I'm Digging This Week

     This week has been jam packed with busywork for everyone. My husband is in his second to last week of Airman Leadership School so he's prepping for tests and whatnot, Liam is gearing up for his school Valentine's Day party, Owen is being Owen as the date of his second birthday gets closer and closer, and I am trying to keep up with everything else. I managed to make Liam's Valentine's Day party box (to put all his Valentine's cards in), do a seemingly endless pile of laundry, and tonight Liam and I have to address all of his cards for his classmates. We've all been so busy that everyone in my house has been going to bed before 10pm. Everyone. Last night around 9:15 I was begging to go to sleep.
     So now I'd like to slow down, sip my cup of coffee, and let you know about a few of the things that I've been digging this week:

 Almond Breeze Reduced Sugar Almond Milk

I absolutely love this almond milk. It's not as overwhelmingly sweet as the regular vanilla almond milk, and it has a really delicious flavor. It's mellow enough that I can put it in cereal and still enjoy it. I use it in the morning in my breakfast shake, and if I get a craving for something sweet at night before bed I can drink a little bit of this and be (pretty much) satisfied. I mean, it's not cheesecake or anything, but it IS a much healthier option. I've been enjoying it in conjunction with the second thing I've been digging this week...

Slimfast

I was recently told by my doctor that I needed to lose weight. I had been doing really well after I had Owen, but since he stopped breastfeeding my magical metabolism disappeared and I've put some weight back on. Not a ton, but enough. I decided that I'd try a meal replacement shake for breakfast to see if a) it helped and b) I could drink it without gagging. So far, so good. The regular vanilla Slimfast was a no go. It was so sweet it tasted like I was drinking vanilla birthday cake. The "high protein" version has waaaaay less sugar and only slightly tastes like cake. I'm on week two of my Slimfast for breakfast routine and I'm actually doing pretty well. I put my almond milk, Slimfast mix, ice, and a banana into the blender and voila: breakfast. 

Downton Abbey Season 6

I jumped for joy when we got season 6 of my favorite PBS show in the mail. Literally. I think I may have spooked the mailman. Anywho, my husband and I just finished episode four and we're going to watch episode five tonight. I absolutely love this show, and I'm so sad that it's ending. We've been watching an episode a night so we don't burn through the whole season too quickly. I don't want to post any spoilers, but let's just say that in episode three something that I've been wanting to happen since season one has finally happened and I may or may not have teared up a little when it did. So cute! 

Remington T-Studio Luxe Conical Wand

I got my hair done last weekend and decided that since I'm *trying* to grow it out I should buy a curling wand so I can learn how to achieve the beachy curls that I've always loved but never been able to achieve. This wand came with a pouch to store it in and a glove to protect yourself from burns (*note* the glove protects your hand, but you can still burn your head, ears, and face.....don't ask....). The good news is the wand is pretty easy to use and I got my hair to curl. The bad news is I looked more like a poodle who had gotten into a fight (and lost) than a woman with effortlessly beautiful curled hair. I guess I need to practice. A lot. 

My Son, the Amazing Hulk

Liam decided that it would be rad to swipe a magic marker, hide under his blanket during nap time, and color himself green. His face doesn't look very green in the picture because it had already been washed repeatedly when his teacher realized what he had done. Liam did his face, ears, hands, and stomach/chest. When asked why he colored himself green his answer was, "I don't know". So, there you have it. I'm digging his Hulk vibe, though I've discouraged him from doing this again. I also now make a disclaimer when he watches the Avengers Assemble cartoon that he isn't allowed to color himself like Iron Man or Captain America either unless the whole family can get involved. Methinks we may have to be the Avengers as a family Halloween costume this year......hmmmm.....





Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Immediate Reading List-2016

I love to read. Love it. I'm always reading a book; fantasy, historical fiction, drama, horror, sci-fi, the classics....I love it all. As soon as I finish one, I pick up another. Sometimes I read multiple books at a time. My mother encouraged me to read at every opportunity as a child, never saying no to new books, and as a result I have a reading list several miles long. Here is a glimpse at my immediate reading list. It would take days for me to relate my entire reading list (and ain't nobody got time for that), so this list comprises of the top five books on the agenda this year:
                                   

                                        

Mansfield Park: I've been trying to work my way through all of Austen's novels for a while now. All I have left are Mansfield Park and Emma. Pride and Prejudice has been my favorite so far, and it was also the first one that I read. I tried reading Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice when I was much much younger (starting around the 6th grade I decided I needed to read more "grown-up" books) but I just couldn't get a good mental image of what was going on and couldn't follow the books. Plus, they were boring. As an adult though, I enjoy Jane Austen's work very much.

The Maid: I found The Maid by Kimberly Cutter in a used book store (2nd and Charles) when I last went home for a visit. It's an historical novel about Joan of Arc. I've never read anything by Cutter before, but as I perused the first chapter I got the impression that I would enjoy her writing style and the manner in which she presents Joan.

Fight Club: I've been wanting to read Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk ever since I saw the movie. It's as simple as that. I liked the movie a lot, and 99.99% of the time the book is always better than the movie. So if I liked the movie, I'll love the book.

1776: I like to read to educate and exercise my mind as much as I enjoy reading to entertain my brain. I started 1776 last year and never got around to finishing it (which tends to happen every once in a while when reading multiple books). This year I intend to finish what I started. 1776 by David McCullough covers the entire year of 1776 from the perspective of the colonial and British armies. McCullough doesn't focus solely on the upper echelons, but includes the stories of redcoats and average every day people who made up the colonial army. Obviously, George Washington features largely in 1776 and I have found that (in what I have read so far) the book is really interesting.

Pioneer Girl: Pioneer Girl is the annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I absolutely adored the Little House series when I was a kid and wanted to be a pioneer girl with all my little heart. I got a kick out of how Wilder described average every day tasks on the prairie, such as making butter or butchering a pig, with such detail. As an adult I realize that Wilder fictionalized her life story to make it more interesting to young readers (something her daughter had a problem with as a journalist.....) so I wanted to read a more accurate account of her life. Reading Wilder's autobiography accompanied by the notes from the editor has been very interesting. I'm only a few chapters in, but I can already tell that I'm going to thoroughly enjoy this book.