Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

I bring you a sweet treat that takes minimal effort for maximum pay off.  Plus there are potato chips involved.  I love all things "chip" and haven't met one I don't like yet!

Start by melting together peanut butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  You can do this over a double boiler too, if you prefer.

While you're chips are melting, start smashing up your chips and peanuts.  I find that a plastic baggie and rolling pin work great, but you can use the back of a spoon too if you're got that handy.  Work to crush up the chips and peanuts, but not pulverize them.  You want some texture to your little nibbles.

Once your chips are melted into a smooth consistency, add in your crunches and mix until everything is well coated. 

Using two spoons, scoop out balls and lay them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Once you've got your mix all layed out, chill until set.  Here's where decks and patios in Minnesota come in handy.  We can enjoy beer on the deck in the summer, and keep beer cool on the deck in winter.  A few minutes outside and we're good to go!

I apologize for the photo looking more like poo than something tasty, but that's the problem with a chocolate blob I suppose!

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Happy Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly and bright and reflect on the little things that bring us so much joy.  One of today's top headlines are the Target card scandal with people's personal information leaked to jerk holes who need to use their knowledge for good and not evil.  Or even better, people outraged by the fact that their packages didn't arrive on time from UPS or FedEx.

Big picture, people!  Think BIG PICTURE!

I snapped a few pictures on Christmas Eve, and left the camera alone on Christmas morning.  I'm starting to regret not capturing those happy faces of wonder, but then I remind myself I got to actually see them with my own eyes - not through a tiny viewfinder.

Santa stopped by in the morning to bring a little early Christmas cheer.  Some were more cheerful about seeing Santa than others!

Avery wanted to help peel the carrots for dinner.  Yes, that little curl on the end is the remnants of what she left after all her "helping."

Olivia's first gift of the evening!  A prized Unicorn!  She immediately named it "Horny" because it has a horn.  Makes sense.  The story gets better when she opened up a small unicorn from Despicable Me and named it "Little Horny."  Oh the laughter and stories we'll get out of this one, for years to come!!

All in all, we had a great couple of days as a family - both close and extended.

Wishing you loads of cheer from my family to yours!

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One Moment

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  {inspired by Soule Mama}

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I especially want to savor this moment because 30 minutes later, she was throwing a shit-fit that would put even the evilest of toddlers to shame.  Merry.  Christmas.


Spicy Sweet Bacon

"No, no more bacon for me" …. said no one ever.

My love of bacon runs deep.
Avery does not like bacon; I have actually wondered if she was switched at birth.
While the salty, crunchy perfection of bacon is amazing and hard to improve upon,
I believe that I have.

I adapted my version from a recipe I found via Pinterest.  I made mine a little sweeter because of the 5-year old taste buds in my house, but she could handle the spice just fine.  With Olivia's love of cooking these days, she's learning to love real flavors and appreciating food that actually had a taste other than mac and cheese.

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees - we're roasting this bacon, my favorite way to cook bacon!  So little mess, it's just crazy.  Tin foil goes a long way for this process, so I highly recommend lining your baking sheet with it.  Also a cool rack is key.  It allows for all the fat to drip, giving you a great texture to the bacon.

Next, mix your spices.  For 6 slices of bacon, I mixed together 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp chill powder and 2 tsp brown sugar.  Next time, I might even swap the chill powder for ground smoked chipotle - super yummy.  I also amped the brown sugar because I wanted to see how crunchy and caramelized it would get.  It was like bacon candy.

Lay out your bacon and roast them for about 7-9 minutes without any seasoning on them.  After 10 minutes, take half your mixture and gently sprinkle seasoning evenly over the each slice.  Clean hands go a long way.

Roast for another 7-9 minutes.  Carefully flip your bacon and season the other side with your remaining mix.  Watch for spatters - bacon grease, while delicious, is not a recommended skin treatment.

Roast for another 8 minutes, or so until bacon has reached desired crispness.

This batch was enjoyed as a morning "snack" where I cut each strip into 4 pieces.  I see a few sandwiches and delicious breakfast sides in our immediate future as well!

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So What Wednesday

Tis the season.
Tis the season to hook up with my girl Shannon one last time in 2013.

Life After I Dew

Tis the season for a lot of So What moments:

  • I have started flagging cooking magazines for ideas for blog posts.  I am not a foodie blogger, but I do like to cook, so it all works out.
  • After seeing Frozen one time, the girls immediately started singing along to "Let it Go."  And being a good mom, I immediate downloaded it to listen to in the car.  Nate's thrilled.
  • I did not buy Liv a Christmas dress this year.  She will be performing at her dance party in a pair of black leggings and pink and black houndstooth printed tunic.  Her days of tulle and poof are over.
  • In that same breath, Avery will be wearing hand-me-downs.  Or whatever outfit that does not include pajamas.  We're going through one of those phases.
  • Despite a fantastic gifts Pinterest board, I have 2 more days to get Liv's teacher a present.  Damn my best intensions.
  • I am trying to justify having my nails done one last time before Christmas over paying for date night.  #badwife  #makeupforitwithkissingtime
  • I am so excited for Tim Gunn's new show coming in January.  He's the main reason I tolerate Sofia the First.
  • I was hoping for a bigger reaction from Avery about Santa this year.  {This} will have to do.
  • Even with all the babies I've snuggled in the past few months, I'm still good with two.  I've had doubts, but then realize that I don't want my baby sleeping in a drawer, so my friends' babies will do just fine.
One week until Christmas.  In whatever way you may hold this season in your heart, do it with joy and love and peace.

And probably some wine, because let's be fair to ourselves, shall we?


The Gifted Man

Have you seen this advertising genius from Dollar Shave Club?  I love it.  I am tempted to buy into purely on the cleverness and humor in the ad.  Not to mention it's a super good deal and something easy to sign the hubs up for - the man who is super hard to shop for!

The Dollar Shave Club recently posted this to {their blog}

I think it's pretty obvious to say that he'd rather get a leather jacket over just about anything.  Duh.

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One Moment.

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  {inspired by Soule Mama}

{Photo Credit:  Crystal Hedberg Photography}

If you have your own moment you'd like to share, please leave a comment with a link so that we can embrace the little things that pass too quickly.

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Zebra Boobs (aka Zoobs)

I'm sure I've said this before, but I am not a baker.  I will bake cookies and the occasional cupcake for birthdays, but I am not a sweet tooth by any means.  That doesn't mean that the rest of my family follows my taste buds and because my life's work is to please them (ha!) I will make sweet treats to make them happy.

Christmas brings about a whole flood of cookies.  Way too many than one home could ever need, but thankfully there are friends and co-workers to share with!  And I especially love treats that require no baking.  Zebra Boobs fit the bill.  I'm sure these snacks have a more family friendly title, but we call them Zoobs around the house.

Simple, salty-sweet treats that take 15 minutes to make.  The might not even last that long once they're made!

Start by preheating your oven to 200 degrees (or as low as it will go) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  I've never made them without parchment, and I'm sure it could be done, but I have a feeling it will be more mess than it's worth.  The roll is well worth the time saving in cleaning and mess!

Settle in with your bag of Hugs and start unwrapping (I use the classic white chocolate, but you could use the new candy cane or other flavor - go nuts!)  Lay out circle pretzels in a single layer and set a Hug into each one.  Don't worry if the Hug doesn't sit super flush, they'll melt and snuggle right in to their new pretzel home.

Slide your pointy Zoobs into the oven and keep a close eye on them.  You only want them to start to soften, not liquify - this process will maybe take 5 minutes, tops.

When your Zoobs are soft, quickly drop a M&M into the point and gently press down.  Once every Zoob has a MMipple, slide your whole tray into the fridge to chill until set.  I would say that you could also use the great outdoors as your giant chiller, but when I made this batch, the high was ZERO here in Minnesota and I didn't want frostbitten Zoobs.  No one wants that.

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Regressing and Frustrated

Full disclosure, I'm going to talk a lot about poop in this one.  

This summer, we happily purchased our last pack of diapers.  Avery was showing signs of being interested and I was VERY interested in not shelling out $30 a week in diapers.  We initially moved to Pull-Ups, because they worked very well in training Olivia.  Avery, however, was more stubborn that we gave her credit for.  The Pull-Ups felt like a diaper, so while she would use the potty, there wasn't the typical "don't feel the wet yuck" incentive for her.  A simple switch to thick, cotton training pants and Avery was golden.  A few stickers and M&Ms, but rewards weren't a huge incentive.  Just being able to "do it mine self" was plenty good for her.  Accidents because fewer and further between and life was great.

Well, almost.  She still wasn't really interested in pooping in the potty.  After rewards, bribes, downright begging and constant loads of laundry, we just ignored it, and then it happened - she pooped in the potty.  All on her own!  The house erupted with joy, and again, we continued on a path of fewer and fewer accidents.

And again, we hit a road block - and I use the word "block" very literally.
Avery got more and more anxious about pooping, so she'd poop less and less, making it more painful when she would.  Vicious cycle.  Lots of tears and stress.
We started using a softener.
Still pooped her pants.
We resorted to a laxative and knew it was only a matter of moments before something was going to happen.  IT was going to happen.
And it did.
In her pants.  After sitting with her in the bathroom, offering a paci, a movie, cookies, a pony, anything… she still waited until lights were out at bedtime and pooped her pants.

Saving grace - hard poops are easier to clean up after.  Gross, but I need to find some silver lining.

So now what?
After watching her cry for an hour, I was almost brought to tears myself knowing that she was in pain and incredible distressed by the situation.  As much as my mommy-self wants to help, Avery needs to do this all on her own.  This is something that I absolutely cannot do for her.

Obviously, something is making her anxious.
But how do I reason with a 2-year old to find out her fears?
The answer to every question is: NO.  Even when it's a yes.
     "Do you want to have this cookie?"
     "No." *grabs cookie*

Do we go back to Pull-Ups knowing he's just going to poop her pants anyway?
Stop encouraging the potty all together and just leave in a constant state of carpet cleaning and laundry detergent?
The simple answer is yes.
But then my heart breaks a little that we'll slide backwards instead of moving forward.
I am allowing myself a few pity-party moments to wonder if I'm doing enough as a mom.  It's my right as a parent to question a little, right?

Big picture, this certainly isn't going to cause any major life failures in the future.  The rational-me knows everything will work out fine (just like the sleepless newborn nights or even Liv's thumb sucking.)

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Reindeer Food

If you're looking for a craft that's going to keep the little busy for awhile.... this isn't one of them.  I wish there was more to it, but it really it quite simple.

However, that being said, the magic that happens when you're making food for Santa's magical reindeer, and even better yet, sprinkling it out in the yard on Christmas Eve... the joy of a child at Christmas... it's fun to be amongst some believers.

The project is as simple as oatmeal, glitter, a ziplock or treat bag and a little shaking.

Like I said, I wish this took more effort and time (at least a 30 shower and blow dry!) but it really doesn't!

Mix as much of each as you'd like and let them go nuts with the dumping and mixing.

I guess you could say, the true fun came with the shaking.  Who can blame her?

There is some fun to be had with coloring the poem that you can attach to your reindeer food.  I had printed a bunch of these out for play group children, and originally disappointed that I forgot to change my color settings.  Turns out, this was not a fail.  I was forgetting one of the cardinal rules of littles:  they love to color.  It could be an old shopping list, a torn catalogue - a few markers and a paper is all they need to stay really busy, even if only to get through the shower (you'll survive with wet, air-dried hair.)

I got the poem {here}  Great printable - save your ink and go for the black and white on this version!

Merry Christmas!
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One Moment

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  {inspired by Soule Mama}

If you have your own moment you'd like to share, please leave a comment with a link so that we can embrace the little things that pass too quickly.

And even though it's "one moment" I just have to share the few moments leading up to the one I want to remember...

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Princess Aren't All Bad

I've seen a lot of Facebook and Blog posts about "here's some real women to look up to" or "how Disney is misleading our daughters."

Certainly, some of Walt's earlier 1940s and 50s work may have missed the mark on modern women (but to be fair, the modern woman didn't exist yet) I don't think the Princesses that I've grown up with have led me down a path to being a damsel in distress.

Yes, their hair is amazing.
Yes, they're beautiful.
Yes, they talk to animals.
Most protagonists fit that bill in literature.
Maybe not the animal part, but protagonists are heroes for a reason.

And while beauty is not always an eminent factor in someone being "good," I cannot ignore the fact that our culture likes beauty.  EVERY culture does.  Animals have bright colors to attract a mate, some are attracted to the beauty in the eyes.  To ignore this is unrealistic.
Certainly, some pressures are unnecessarily applied, but that's another conversation.
And yes, I may not shower or "dress up" 4 of the 7 days in a week, but I can not care what other think while still caring about myself and having a little self-respect.

But I digress.
The modern princess isn't something to shame our daughter away from.
These young women are smart, strong, witty.  There may be a man in the story, but that dude isn't the lead character.  He's not the end game, just a point along the journey.  Maybe even the catalyst to realizing something needs to change, but chances are, you Mommy Dearest, have your own prince in your life too.  It's not a bad thing to want a partner that you can have with you to face life's challenges.

Look at Belle.  Book-smart, loyal to her family and didn't want to be a little housewife.  She loved a Beast who no one could love.  And she was actually the one who did the rescuing.  Even Ariel wanted something more than her life was destined to be.  She wasn't happy with the way things just are.  She explored, pushed boundaries, disobeyed her father (this I can agree to disagree with!) but she wasn't ready to settle.  And she also did some of her own Prince rescuing of her own.

Mulan wasn't willing to accept the fact that she had to do certain things because she was a girl.  She fought as a solider and saved an entire nation - forget the prince business.  Tiana or Merida weren't trying to be girly-girls either.  You can admire Julia Child and Katniss for their balls - these cartoons have the same guff.  They all wanted to play with the boys, and did better than the boys when they did.

I will admit, Rupunzel may have been the most naive of the modern princesses - who can blame her with a sheltered life.  Perhaps her tale isn't for our girls, but for us as parents.  We should let our kids roll around in the grass and get dirty, go outside and play in the yard without being on a leash.  We don't need to fret a few skinned knees.  Hell, our parents grew up without seat belts in cars, I think our kids, even in today's world are going to end up OK.

When I was 7 or 8, I flew down a hill on my bike, flipped over the handlebars and ended up with gaping gash on my left knee, bloody and filled with gravel.  I still have a scar.  Maybe I shouldn't have gone down that hill.  Maybe I shouldn't have been going so fast.  Did it hurt?  Yes.  Did I cry?  Yes.  Did I learn that I shouldn't go that fast, that I'll bounce back, that my life won't end with one bike-enduced wipe-out?  Absolutely.

Did I survive?  Yes.

These princesses wear dresses and break out into song.  There's always some insurmountable obstacle to overcome at the last moment.  Certain dramatic licensing is always taken in storytelling.  If your kids know that birds aren't really going to come and clean the house, I don't think you need to worry about them pining for a prince on a white horse.  Worry more about romantic comedies - those screwed up my teens and early twenties more than Disney ever could!

Look a little deeper and don't judge their tales too superficially.  I was once a mom, who, five years ago, was determined that my daughter wouldn't be that girl all in pink.  Good luck with that.  But I also have a daughter who likes to learn, and play, and love and has no interest in slowing down.  Even if she's wearing pink.  Focus on the good of these tales and young women rather than the nitty, picky things you don't.  Chances are, you'll have a little one who will idolize a princess - make sure they're doing it for the right reason.

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Apple Pie Sangria

Tis the season for holiday gatherings, and let's face it, sometimes a little (or a lot) of alcohol to cope with all of the hustle and bustle!  This sangria recipe is super easy and borderline dangerous when it comes to taste and drinkability (just ask the moms in my playgroup!)

Yes, we've had wine during a playgroup.  The kids played nice, the moms chatted, life was great.  You're welcome to join the Cool Kids anytime!

You'll want a decent sized pitcher for this mix and optimally time to soak some fruit for a bit, but being that the first time I was making this, I was driving to a child's play group, I didn't really feel like commuting at 10 AM with an open container, so you can certainly add fruit at time of service too!

  • 1 honeycrisp apple (or other firm, tart apple), chopped
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 1 orange sliced for juice squeezing, or cute garnish
  • 1 bottle of chilled Pino Grigio
  • 1 cup vanilla vodka (or plain is fine too if that's what you've got on hand)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice
Chop your fruit and set aside.  You can soak for a few hours ahead of time in your mix of wine, vodka and juice if you've got the time.  At time of service, mix together your liquids, fruit, sugar and apple pie spice until the sugar is well dissolved.  The apple pie spice doesn't exactly dissolve, but that's OK.  Just stir before serving your second round!  Pour into your glass of choice and serve over ice.

Super yummy version of Mommy's Apple Juice!


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Banner Winner & Sale Continues!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win their very own banner!

Time to announce the big winner..........

Brendecia B!!

But don't feel bad if you didn't win, you can still snap up your very own banner.  I'm extending my Black Friday deal for the rest of the week to my blog readers.  Simply shop According to L, pick out your favorites and save 20% on everything (yep, not only banners, but accessories too!)
***use SANTA at checkout***

Want even more??

Mention this post at checkout and you'll get free shipping too!  (Credit to be given following transaction)

I've added some new Christmas styles, so now is definitely the time to grab yours while you can!

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Snow & Jingle Bell Wreath

Bringing back a favorite from last year!  This wreath is so simple and so sweet, it's too easy to not have one hanging on your door!

I love having a wreath on my front door.  I love them so much, that I actually have 6 wreath boxes tucked away, most stacked with two or three wreaths in a single box.  It's an easy update to your curb appeal.  Plus, with Pinterest, finding new inspiration is easier than ever.  If you want to see what I'm considering next, check out my board {here.}

This design came at the inspiration of one I saw while shopping in Target.  The balls were rolled cotton - fairly labor intensive to recreate.

What could I use instead?  Something that will be cute, but easy on my time and wallet?  What most women have on hand in their bathroom cupboard?
Cotton balls of course!

I used a wreath form I had snagged from the dollar section at Target this fall, and spray painted it white (in case there was a gap in cotton or bell.)  The bells were compliments of our local dollar store - a pack of nine bells for a buck.  Two of those covered my 9" wreath form.

Heat up that glue gun and start working in sections.  At first, I tried to dab glue on each puff, but really, it was easier to smear a section (maybe 2" at a time) and stick the balls and bells to the wreath itself.  There's no pattern, just a lovely randomness that appeals to me.

I may go back and make another that's a little larger to fill more of our door, and move this mini one to the mantle.  But I'm really pleased with how this one turned out!

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