Caramel Apple Cider Cocktail

I love all-things caramel all-year long.  I do not restrict my caramel-filled treats to the fall, when there are apple orchards and pies and such.  It just so happens that it's Christmas, so there's a tree in the background, but trust me, this is a simple cocktail that will make an appearance just as easily in the summertime!

All too easy, simply pour a chilled bottle of your favorite hard cider with a shot of caramel-flavored vodka in a glass and sip (or slurp) away!  Be warned, the caramel vodka is sweet - and you're basically drinking two cocktails at once, so do so at your own risk (or reward, as the case may be!)

I also made a Fireball Cider cocktail!  Check it out {here}

Fireball Hard Cider Cocktail

Welcome to the season of holiday drinks (like December is somehow different from any other time in the year!)

I recently had the chance to skip picking up Liv from the bus, and having a few drinks with co-workers.  It was a rare, but much needed experience for me!  We do go out to restaurants as a family often, I rarely get to go out on my own.

On this night, I Ordered wine, two others ordered drinks and the fourth... she ordered a cider beer with a shot of Fireball.  Whoa.  It was only a Tuesday.

My first, and only experience, was a couple months ago at a wedding where it was suggested we do shots.  I hadn't done a shot in about 4 years, so this wasn't going to go well.  I coughed and laughed like a freshman in college.  Proud moment when you can't hang like you're 19 anymore.

But anyway, she wasn't ordering the shot to take all on it's own, she mixed it with the cider.  I was intrigued!  And for Christmas, it just so happened that the same instigator of the Fireball Wedding shot gave me my very own bottle to try.  So I did!

The recipe is simple:

1 bottle hard cider (we like Angry Orchard around this house)
1 shot of Fireball, or other cinnamon whiskey of your choice.
Pour both into a glass and drink up!

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

I also tried one with caramel-flavored vodka!  Check it out {here}


losing Facebook friends

Now, don't let the title fool you.
This isn't a post on how to eliminate 50% of your Facebook friends you're not really friends with.
This is me sharing that I'm worried Facebook is going to make me not want to be friends with some of my real friends.

Somewhere between knowing a person enough to want to see picture of their vacations and funny anecdotes about raising kids, I am flooded with tons of things that make me wonder:  why are we even friends?

We live in a world that makes it very easy to share our opinion with the masses.
Hell, of course you know about this.
I write a BLOG.  You're reading it.  It's all about my opinion!
However, you have to seek me out.  (Thank you for that, by the way.)

Facebook, Twitter, all of it...
It's a visual stream of everyone's thoughts.
You don't seek out someone with any major intent.  You're friends.  They show up on your feed.
You read what they think.
Forget status updates; all of the click-bait articles you need to read right now.

Did you see what the government is doing to Jewish pandas?
Or {insert anything about guns and gay people}
Trump.  Don't even get me started.
Politics.  Barf

Did you know that your breasts will fall off if you don't breastfeed?
Your child has a 18% chance of becoming a murderer if they ride in a stroller once they can walk? 
Parenting know-it-alls.  Barf.

Click here to see how you're eating organic foods wrong!
Keep this food in your fridge and you'll be able to levitate.
Food posts (unless it's a 10-second video recipe involving cheese or vodka).  Barf.

Do you love your mom.  Share if yes, Ignore if no.
Shut up you.  I love my mom.  I don't need to share you stupid picture to boost your analytics to prove it.
Click bait.  All of it.

I do however love a good joke.  And Matt Bellassai.
I'll share that shit all day long.

But the BARF things show up on my feed because my friends have liked or shared them.
My people are in to these things.
How can that be?
Now I'm faced with the dilemma:  scroll on and hope that a darling vacation or witty restaurant check-in will eventually show up

The Unfollow makes me sad.
Some of my Facebook friends are done on a whim:  you and I know 4 of the same people, we're probably compatible.
Thank god I'm not into online dating right now; I'd be hopeless.
I have Unfollowed some.
I can't deal with the BARF things.
You're still a good person.  We can hang out and have a drink and shoot the shit.
Because when we do, you don't mention all the BARF.
This is why we're friends in real life.
But on Facebook, we just don't see eye to eye.

As I look at the Unfollow friends I consider, it begs the question:
Should we be friends?
If you think one thing and I really don't, do we really mesh together?
The Unfollow is a safe step.
It's a hope for calmer waters.
But the articles will still be written.
Opinions will remain the same.

For now, the unfollow is safe.
If we're really friends, chances are I'll get to see you in real life and we can both leave all the BARF behind and just be friends.


The Worst Things Pregnant Women Do

When thinking about this topic, I thought Maybe I'd better do some research.  Perhaps the internet is swamped with humorous posts about this topic.

Nope.  Not at all.
It's all:  the worst things to do, say, be around a pregnant person.
Not how the pregnant woman can, in fact, be super annoying.  And while I've worn this crown of fertile "bliss" twice -- make no mistake, pregnant women can be annoying jerks.  Here's some real advice so you don't lose all your friends in the process of making a whole new person for the world.

{there is an I in team}

The first annoying things start where it all happened:  mom and dad.

We are pregnant.
He's not drinking alcohol because my body is growing a person.
We take naps spooning each other softly because my body is growing a person.
And so on and so forth.

Science is real.  Only a woman gets pregnant.
I have one of the most supportive husband/dads out there, but pretty sure it was my rib cage that split open with each kick, my nights that were reduced to 75 minutes (at most!) of sleep a night and my vagina that was torn in half bringing said person into the world.

It's us until it's not.
When I was delivering our first daughter and crying that I couldn't do anymore because it hurt too much, my nurse (who I still love to this day) looked me square in the face and said "Well you have to, because no else can do it for you."  
Sure as shit, she was right.  Aside from a major medical intervention - I was going to have to get this baby out.
We might have both been in the room, but my body was the one that did it.
And I did.  Twice.

You can raise a baby together, make a family together, but when push comes to shove (kinda a pun intended because c'mon...) it's all on you sister.  His not drinking a beer at night isn't going to affect the baby.
It may affect your mood because you're pissed you can't join in, but that's an entirely different subject.
That's not to say: Don't include dad.  Please do.  Kids seem so much happier with a dad who's around.
I'm only speaking very, very specifically about their gestation and the sanity of those around you.

{complain, complain, complain}

This isn't something that all mothers-to-be do, but a lot participate in (at least a little bit.)

Your feet hurt,
your gut hurts,
your hair hurts.

You complain, and the rest of the world thinks:
(men) Don't know, don't care
(women)  You don't even KNOW how much life hurts

You are uncomfortable, and a bit tired, it's true.  Mothers look at mothers-to-be and think:  This is the easy part.  Some will probably even tell you that; and then you'll laugh them off and say you don't know me and my pain.

One of the worst things about being pregnant is you don't know what you don't know.  And everyone else knows this, but you.

You don't know how tired you'll be.  Tired, sure - but you have no idea what that level of tired will feel like.  Truth time - it will feel like you want to die.  You may actually die, but your child's cries bring you back to life in a jarring, miraculous, painful way.

You don't know how frustrated you will be when your baby will not stop crying/eat/go to sleep/poop on a regular basis/stop being a jerk.  Early on, because you are a still rational human being, you will operate under the assumption that this baby is a rational human.  Wrong.  This creature is a completely, self-absorbed asshole who doesn't know what they want or when they want it.  Sooner or later, you will lose your ability to function as a rational human.  The baby will remain a completely, self-absorbed asshole.

You don't know that you'll want to murder your partner.  The plot may not manifest itself in a highly sophisticated fashion, but never the less, it will be in place.  They will piss you off, probably exaggerated by said exhaustion and frustration of asshole creature, and unknowingly they have then made themselves the closest target.  Heaven help them.

{become a worry wart}

Our mothers and grandmothers had plenty to worry about - like scurvy and drought.  With the internet, we have Candy Crush and Facebook to entertain us during those midnight feedings.
Unfortunately, with the internet, we have 1,546,889 other things to worry about.  The worst thing a pregnant woman does is makes those worries those of everyone else.

No plastic.
BPA-free only.
Free range.
No high-fructose corn syrup.
No red meat.
No food coloring.
Non-dairy-fed dairy.
Nothing spelled with the letters used in "hypocrite"

C'mon.  There are hundreds of scary things out there you can try to avoid.  But really, there are an infinite scary things out there you can't.

It's only natural for you to want to protect your kids.  The "mama bear" is literally an instinct you can't deny.  Fun, right?

Do your best, but don't go crazy.  Also, take into some consideration that sometimes, life hands you a raw deal.  And while it is easy for me to say, being that I have two relatively healthy children, I like to think that I've been lucky.
There's no amount of diet, drugs or essential oils that would alter that path.
That's not to say I'm against any family from making those changes for themselves.  The whole topic of this post is to talk abut the worst things you can do and one of those things is to try to change me.

I'm good over here with my plastic-y toys and my red meat.
I like dairy - I don't care where it comes from so long as it's cold and not spoiled.
I enjoy sugar.  All kinds.
You do you.  I'll do me.


When you're pregnant, especially for the first time, you feel this enormous, overwhelming sense of responsibility.  Or at least you should - you're growing a person for Christ Sake!

Make no mistake, it is a big deal.
Being a parent is always a bid deal.
But know you will make mistakes.  You need allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes.
Others will make mistakes.  You need to not care, because they're not yours to own.

Oh!  But here's the best part.  Motherhood will be terrible horrible a bit of effort but now you know it will be for everyone.
You have a common bond.
For those jackasses who lie and say "Not me," simply skip past them in your list for good friends.
Being a mother is hard work.
Being a good mother is always the goal, but sometimes the bronze is good enough.  Sometimes even making it to "regionals" is enough.
You need other women who think the same.
Avoid all people are "tsk tsk."  Look for those "atta girls" and keep them close.
That's the best thing pregnant women can do.


Beer Cheese Dip

I love dips.  This is a well-known fact about me.

I've made several.  Check them out {here}

My most-recent favorite is this beer-cheese dip.  The beer is minimal, which means we basically have a full can leftover each time I make it, which has been as frequent as our need for a gallon of milk in the house.  But it's delicious.  Especially with these zippy ranch pretzels.

And after some research on Pinterest, I determined that the beer is really a thinning-agent to the cream cheese.  If you are a non-beer person, I'm sure you could use water or milk.

Gather up:

2 8-oz bricks of cream cheese, softened
1/2 c beer of your choosing
1 packet dry ranch seasoning
1 tsp ground red pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choosing - go nuts!)

The true secret to this dip is in the very first step.  Very soft, very whipped cream cheese.  You don't want to have to dig through something to eat it.  Whip that cream cheese for a long time - 5 minutes at a minimum.  The more air, the softer it is, and the easier it will be to eat after sitting in the fridge.

Once it's good and whipped, mix in your ranch packet and ground red pepper.  Then, slowly mix in your cheese.  You don't need to shred it again on high or anything.

Then you're done!  It's good to eat now, but I'm a fan of letting any dip I make merry and chill for a few hours in the fridge before diving in.  It take a huge amount of restraint on my part, and yes, I am a hero to some for this.

Perfect snack.  Anytime.  Enjoy!

Zippy Ranch Pretzels

It's been awhile since I've blogged about food.

It has not been that long since I've thought about it, however.  I have made many yummy things and thought I should share this with the world and then I find a new Netflix show to binge, or decide I'd actually like to try to sleep for 8 hours in a row (bahahahaha) and it didn't happen.

These however will trump Netflix and sleep, combined.  But not wine.  Mama needs some typing fuel.
I made these once.  And then when that batch ran out, I made a second.  And then a third.  And so on.  Let's not make this about our snacking habits.

Oh, and these pretzels also "come with" a dip.  And because that dip recipe makes way more than once batch of these pretzels, we get on a vicious merry-go-round of catch up.  Again, let's not judge, shall we.

For this round, I made the tough, yet-wise parent decision to not fight Avery on taking a "short rest" and let her help me.  You will see as the photos progress that she was in fact, tired.  None the less, the pretzels were made, and then immediately consumed.

Gather up:
1 lb bag of pretzels (I use twists for their dippable-strength, but I'm sure sticks would work great too)
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1/4 c oil (vegetable or canola)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground red pepper (here's where you get your zip!)

Preheat your oven to it's lowest, warm setting.  Mine is gas, but the lowest temp on the dial is 200 degrees, so I go with that.

Combining all of your dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  If it's one you can pour  from easily, even better.  That steps comes in a bit.  Whisk a bit to combine everything.

Add in the oil and whisk well to combine.  No dry chunks.

See.  Sleepy eyes, I mean, really?  But she wanted to whisk, so I allowed the tired-demon inside her to stay hidden and let her whisk.  And then I did it myself to make sure it was done... well, better than a sleepy 4-year old.

Then comes the fun part.  Pour your bag of pretzels into a gallon-sized ziplock bag and shake.  If you don't have a bag, you can spread your pretzels out and pour over and toss to coat.  But, trust me, the bag shaking is way more fun.

Because I am a cooker, not a cleaner, I always line my baking sheets with foil.  For a batch this size, I use my two large jelly-roll pans and split the bag event between the two.  You want the pretzels to be in a somewhat even layer, but don't get too OCD about having them flat and not touching.  Unless you have nothing else to do, in which case, email me.  I have a list of about 279 other things you could be doing with your time.

Bake at 200 degrees for about an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.  You want the oil to dry out, but not burn your pretzels, so keep an eye on them.

While I was sliding my sheet pans into the oven, I turned around to this.  Remember.  She's not tired.

Once they're all dried out and wonderful, you'll still have to let them cool before diving in.  Store them in an air-tight container for... well, to be honest, ours haven't really every lasted more than week due to eating, not spoiling, so i'm not sure.

Probably a week or two.  That seems fair.



A lot has happened in the last week, not only for me, but for the world.  Major events, like those in Paris, or even minor ones in our own cities, often put things into perspective.  My frustrations over dirty dishes seem petty in the grand scheme of things.   I am praying for the day when our children only read about these things in history books, and never have to witness hatred first-hand.

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis.  It's the book for my wine book club.  I also have The Martian checked out from the library, so I need to get crackin' on that one too!

{listening to} 
Cold, fall rain hitting my window, and DVR.  Right now, I'm catching up on The Good Wife.  I love "Denny" and always will.

I really need to get our "toy room" situation in order for Christmas hits.  These kids have SO MUCH STUFF.  A good purge would make me very, very happy.  Same goes for the girls' closet.  I've been hanging on to baby blankets ... for what?  Some stuff is sentimental, but I need to pack that away for good and give the rest away!

Candles.  They've become my latest home obsession.  I light one every afternoon and leave them on til after the girls go to bed.  It gives me a (sometimes false) sense that I've got a clean enough house to have a spot to have a lit candle.

Zippy Ranch Pretzels and Beer Cheese Dip.  Recipes coming soon.  Such a yummy snack, I eat a little (or a lot) just about every day for the past 2 weeks!
Avery would give up her paci for good one of these days.  She wants to, but it's too hard.  And I don't have the strength to fight her night after night over it.

In the past few days, I've been layering skinnies with scarves and my puffy vest.  Soon enough I'll have to swap things out for a down jacket and snow boots, so I've got to rock the "fall" as long as I can!

My wine tasting weekend.  The weather was gorgeous, we hit up some "local" spots without the kids and just got to be adults for a change.  On the flip side, I am not in love with "Movember."  Too scratchy.  Ick.

A new home.  Just a little more space, another bedroom would be fantastic.  Some day.
More sleep.  The past week or so I've been "newborn" tired.  Staying up late because the kids have sucked so much of the daylight hours - and I love most of it.  But I need to wind down, and then it gets late, and then they're up early.  I'm to the point of laughter or tears at any given moment.

I've found a new link up for my (somewhat sporadic) currently posts!  Check out siddathornton for more!



Do you ever look around and compare yourself to others?

Of course you do!!!

You're human!  You're a feeling, vulnerable, most-likely exhausted, slightly sticky person.

I am going to attempt this month to have gratitude in each day.  Not only for my own sanity, but that of my family.  I am trying to not turn into a walking version of a fortune cookie here, but a friend of mine made this phrase her Facebook cover photo:

Gratitude is what happens when what we have is Enough.

Wow, right? And so true. I'll be the first to admit that I am guilty of the constant comparison, even when I don't want to.

So, this feeling lent itself to my next FREE printable for blog fans!  {Grab the first one here}

I've designed these darling reminders, and you can have them.  For free!  Take your pick, and you can have either a PDF or JPG version of one or all of them!

And this goes without saying, but no selling or distributing these with my consent, got it?  Be cool man.

Enjoy dear friends.  Be happy.  Be You.


So What Wednesday

It's back!  I was so pumped when I saw Shannon mention she's got this post on her docket for the week.  Wednesdays are my favorite - not only because of Matt Bellassai and Whine About It, but also because I get to do my own whining (and wine-drinking) with you fine people.

So make sure you all head over to Shannon and see what she's got going on this week too!

This week (or the relative past few weeks for that matter) I'm saying SO WHAT:

  • The last time I dusted my house when I put the Halloween decorations out.  That was four weeks ago.  And it will probably happen again around Christmas, and then the take-down.  And maybe once in the summer when the sun hits a surface just right and I can see that Avery has written her name 7 times in the dust.
  • I like the new Adele song, but I don't think it's her best work.  Maybe the rest of the album will blow me out of the water.  However, being a super fan I will sing it at the top of my lungs in the car. Make no mistake, I have already pre-ordered if from iTunes.
  • I am already sick of political campaigns and we don't even have names on the ticket yet.  Barf.
  • Likewise, if Trump is elected, Nate, the girls and I will be moving to Europe. Immediately.  I feel like we won't be the only ones.
  • I am a firm believer in celebrating one holiday before moving on to the the next.  It pains me a great deal to be working in reds and greens for my Etsy shop, but hey - you gotta give the people what they want!
  • Friday mornings, I have been bringing Avery to the library in the morning under the pretense that she can find new books and play with the toys there.  Real reason - so I can read my OWN book in a somewhat adult setting and not have to stop to:  help get a snack, wipe someone else's ass or breakup a sister-fist-fight.
What are you saying SO WHAT to this week?


I Am Not A Parent.

Bold title, right?  Catch your attention?  Good.

Because I mean it.  And, no don't mean that I've gone screaming into the wilderness, abandoning my children to fend for themselves.  Or not today anyway.

I am obviously someone's mother.  Two people actually.  These two, clinging-monkey-like creatures that can only use the names "Mom" or "MOOOOOOOOOMMMM!!!" when they need something.  "No, no darlings.  Let's not bother Dad's game of Candy Crush.  What can my fifth arm do for you at this surely very urgent moment during my dinner preparation?  Oh, your sister is looking at you?  With both eyes?  At the same time?  Well, I think we should all sit down and talk about feelings in a rational matter."

I am not a mother.  I am not a parent.  I am not even a wife.
I am a person who happens to be a mother, a parent, a wife.
I am just me.  I have needs.  I go nuts.  I cry.  I laugh.  I have insecurities (tons).  I have doubts (even more.)

And what's more is I am a person who doesn't feel like apologizing for being me:

I will teach my children to turn on Disney Jr. and watch a show so I can get another 30 minutes of sleep.  Mostly in part because they have interrupted my sleep on at least two, if not three times during the night.  I'm constantly tired because of you little monkeys.  I already want to take a nap tomorrow is on constant replay when I wake up each morning.

I will make "a game" of having the girls bring me a Diet Coke from the fridge because I Just. Sat. Down.  And again, I'm tired because of them!

I will sit on our second couch, separate from the hubs because I just need a little space to feel my own skin not being pushed up against another person (read: those clinging-monkey-like creatures.)  Granted, I will also move to his side of the living room for the exact opposite reason.  Without warning or reason.

I will drink during the week.  It doesn't even have to be someone's birthday.  If I'm feeling extra lazy, I'll go for the wine - you know because of the multiple bottles required to make a vodka tonic and then there's the lime cutting.  A quick pop (or in my case, tapping of boxed wine) is so much easier.

I will turn a certain shade of jealous green browsing Instagram and various style bloggers with their cute chambray shirts, skinny pants and booties.  I'll even buy replicate outfits and then still go out in a hoodie and Toms.  But I will put on lipstick.  I'm not a hobo for goodness sake.

I will get regular bikini waxes.  For me.  I will do so with no intention of Nate even seeing it, let alone anything else.  It's something I do for me.  To feel - nice I guess.  But I guess it does help for those times I do want to play wife, instead of just Liz.  {More on the subject}

I will not over-schedule my children.  Now, I know this seems like me being a parent in this one, but I assure you it is purely selfish.  They will learn to fend for themselves and explore the power of imagination without me hovering over every activity, whether it be in or outside of this house.  I do not wish to be the constant source of entertainment for my kids, nor do I want to play taxi driver.  "Mama's got her stories to watch - go play with the one of 10,000 toy-like items in the house.  Or that toilet paper tube.  But just make sure you're quiet, and it lasts for at least 26 minutes.  In a row." 

Here comes that fortune-cookie tone again:  I'm learning to embrace the fact that I can't fill up anyone else if I'm empty.  I need to know this fact, and demand this in my world.

Being honest with Nate about my needs is extremely important (and vice versa - dudes need to be just people too.)  The children are too little, too selfish still to know the difference.  They can't help that they're jerks sometimes; this is where having that support to "tap out" is critical.  Recognizing this in our marriage has been extremely important.  It makes us better, so when we do come to the table as "mom", "husband" or "personal chef" we can do so with a smile because we want to be in that hat, not because we're forced to be.


thankful new ventures

According to L on Etsy has evolved over the years.  Started out with headbands, then a few wine glasses masquerading as coffee mugs - banners and the likes.

I am very excited to share that my newest creative itch to scratch has taken my digital.  Who knew?!

I will be offering VERY adorable and affordable printable in my shop!  Here's the slick part - most of them are already designed and ready to go.  You click "buy" and an email with the high-resolution files comes right to you, ready to print at home (or at Costco or Target for pennies!)

What's even better is I'm designing custom prints, so you can start checking off that Christmas list...

I mean, how cute is this modern "family tree?"
For those of you trying to decode - it's not NAEO.  It's Nathan, Elizabeth, Olivia and Avery.  Cute, right?

So this isn't just a shameless plug for my latest endevor.  Well, not entirely.

I designed a perfect, seasonally appropriate print and it's yours!  For free!!  Just for being a fan of mine.  I am thankful everytime I hear that little ding on my phone for a comment, or like or God willing, a purchase a creation of mine.  I love creating things that people enjoy in their own lives, an this is just a new extension of that!

So... what can you get for free today, you ask?!  This 8x10 JPG or PDF, ready for framing, perfect your Thanksgiving mantle-scape that you've carefully pinned and have been planning for months.  OR - the first addition to your best-of-intensions Thanksgiving mantle.  Either one works for me.

Get the JPG here
Get the PDF here

Now this goes without saying, this is for personal use.  No selling this beauty, unless you plan to send me a case of Diet Coke, wine or a check - capish?

And, what's even more, I'm going to give you guys a special sale that I won't advertise anywhere else!  It's your basic buy one, get one.  Buy 1, Get 1 Free.  Buy 10, Get 10 Free (remember, I do have customize options, so all of those aunts, grandmas and the like can get their little loves in a neat little frame that doesn't involve any finger paint or the deadly aftermath that will surely ensue.)

Another creative outlet where I can watch Netflix and drink wine at the same time.
It's tough, I swear.



Summer is over.   The leaves are falling (however ours still seem to be clinging to the branches, so you know we'll end up raking in the snow!)  Halloween is almost here - and then it can leave because I hate candy corn.

Here's what else I've been up to...

Making our home clean again.  For some reason, the summer always gives way to doing things outside instead of cleaning inside.  We had piles of towels and swim bag items living in our dining room all summer.  Why pack them away when they'll just be used again in another day?  Operation:  Keep Surfaces Clean is in full effect.

I hate the pick-up line at the girls' schools.  People, pull up.  Don't leave your car - move 10 feet and use the parking lot.  You're not special - you are literally like every other person here picking up a child.

Wednesday has become my favorite day on Facebook, because of Matt Bellassai and Whine About It.  If you haven't seen any of his videos, stop what you're doing and go watch them!  Or at least finish reading up here and THEN go watch them!

I also really dislike all the "new" fall TV this year.  The cheese factor of these shows is just too intense.  And I really love cheese.  I mean, I watch The Real Housewives and Below Deck for Christ's Sake!

Over the summer, Nate and I had a few couple's counseling sessions.  I share this only because I feel that people who do go to, and need counseling, should definitely get it.  Our lives and marriage was far from perfect, and we're still not in any position to write a book on the subject, but in my honest I'm hoping to remove some stigma.

I am experiencing (very slight) Mom Guilt over not volunteering for any of Liv's class parties this year.  I mean, I "stay home" - isn't this what I should be doing?  But then I think of how loud and crazy a 25-minute lunch can be among a few of them in the lunch room.  I'm out.

Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Just because I feel every is doing it.
Wait, I hate coffee.  Where's the Diet Coke?

I've also been thinking I need to post a few new tutorials here.  Crafts?  Food?  Drinks - obviously!  Stay tuned for more fun this fall friends!

Oh, and few cute photos from our summer, just because, why not?


Mango Habanaero Marinade

When Nate and I got our first grill, we couldn't wait use in on hot summer days.  This marinade has been around for quite a few years, and kind of feel off our radar when the littles came around and we didn't exactly have all day to marinate something and spend time grilling for hours.

I had forgotten how great this marinade freezes and really how quickly it can be used on shrimp, pork and chicken.  It makes a bunch (three cups!), easily enough for two rounds of food, if not three depending on how thick your chicken or pork might be.

And don't be scared with the word:  habanero.  It adds heat, but with added sweetness from coconut and mango, not to mention you cook it down a bit, you're not exactly eating raw peppers.  I recently fed it to adults and kiddos alike, and the kiddos wanted more - the adults MAY have been extra hungry and greedy.  Next time I'll make more!

I failed to photograph any of the marinade in the making mostly because it's a pile of orange goo with pieces of shaved coconut.  Not exactly the stuff food blogger dream about photographing!

But I did snap my gorgeous shrimp on the grill.

I took a pound of uncooked, deveined shrimp, and peeled the shells and tails off.  I split my marinade in half and froze the rest (about 1.5 cups)  If you are a fan of peel and eat shrimp, this step is optional.  The marinade would get trapped in the shell on the shrimp and be delicious too, but an extra step in eating that I wanted to avoid with the kiddos.

Grill the shrimps on a foil-lined grill (easier clean-up) for only a few minutes on each side.  The marinade is yummy, but even on rubber, it's not that great.

Gobble as quickly as you can.

Want to know how you make this at home??  I thought you'd never ask!

Gather up:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped mango (1 small bag of frozen mango, or 2 fresh)
  • 1 habanero pepper (remove seeds and fibers to lessen the spice)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp rum (dark, spiced, whatever you've got)
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (I used red Tabasco)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh-grated ginger root (you can use ground, but the fresh stuff is just too yummy to pass up!)
  • 1/4 c flaked coconut
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 c coconut milk (canned, use the juice, not the white creamy part on top)
  • 1-2 lime, zested and juiced (depending on how juicy they are)
  • large chunk cilantro chopped
  1. Puree mango, habanero, garlic, rum and hot sauce until smooth
  2. Add puree to small sauce pot and add in ginger, coconut, coriander, cumin and bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Keep an eye that it doesn't burn - you've got a lot of sugar in that pot!
  4. Remove puree from heat and let cool.
  5. Once cooled, stir in coconut milk, lime zest and juice and cilantro.
Now you have your marinade!
We have also used this sauce as a shrimp dipping sauce!  So good!

Marinade times:
Shrimp:  2-4 hours
Chicken or pork:  4-6 hours, or overnight

Freeze any leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 3 months.



The impending end of the school-year and another page in the calendar turning over causes a little mommy-sentimental moment to bubble to the surface.

When my girls were infants, I wished they would just sleep through the night in their own crib, and not need to be rocked.  And rocked.  And rocked.  Now my cold, empty arms just miss that tiny, sweet weight in them (yet my slept-through-the-night self rejoices!)  This has also turned me into an unapologetic baby hog, snuggling any baby who's mother will allow it.

During that first year, we loved the new words that kept coming and coming, and now we have those days where it's like "Can you just be quiet already!?"  All too soon, I'll have daughters who gab only to friends behind closed doors, and I'll miss those heavily-detailed recounts of every moment of recess.

Even the naps.  This has always been a double-edged sword in our home.  They need to sleep.  I got to nap too.  It was the best part of my day where we got to be home and quiet and I couldn't run the vacuum for fear of waking them.  Truth time:  that was all a lie.  My girls have always slept like the dead if they were tired enough.  I could vacuum their pillows during nap time and I doubt they'd notice.

I painfully, and regretfully, admit that I have wished these little moments away.

Avery had a spell recently when she'd only nap with me.  If you follow me on Instagram (and you should!) you'd see a string of fly-catcher snaps with green paci dangling from her lips.  I'm sure she'll love those later.  Anyway...  She would stall and make noise for 30, 40, 90 minutes.  Picking my battles, I would let her cuddle on my chest and within mere minutes, she'd be snoozing away.   We could lay like that for hours - housework be damned.  And, because noise was not an issue, I still got to watch Bravo and The Food Network!

That time together was amazing.  I'd kiss her little head.  Take in deep breaths of her hair, smelling of a mix of fruit snacks, dirt and play dough.  Using my fingers to trace of ears and cheeks, willing myself to remember each little line - storing those gems for later moments to find peace when I wanted to throw myself from the roof.

Then, she stopped.  It came without warning, and I didn't even realize it happened until it was too late to go back.  No more kissed head.  No more hair sniffing.  No more face-drawing memory exercises while she dreamed and drooled.  I blinked and it was gone.

the last time
But rather than wallow in my loss, I will find some joy.  Thank goodness I am addicted to social media and have this blog.  I have a place to capture tiny memories that might not ever make the "A" roll in her wedding slide show, but they will always make me smile.

Especially on those "jump off the roof" days, am I right?!

I will make an effort to celebrate the little memories and not worry so much about the bigs.


Summer Activity Printables

The school year is winding down which means that I will have my children in my home constantly.

It's something I am both excited for and dreading.

Sunny days are easy.  We can play outside, or go to the pool.  Simple.
Not so sunny days, or nights, that's where we need ideas.

I took some inspiration from Pinterest and created some super simple printable worksheets to fill out with my girls.

Olivia is old enough that she can print her own, and I'll help Avery with some of her own 4-year-old ideas.  I see some fun markers in our future to jazz these lists up!

Click to print blank lists for:

outdoor activities
quiet time activities
acts of kindness
bucket list

Happy Summer everyone!

For personal use only please.


Pomegranate Pear Martini

This post talks about two of my favorite things:  summery drinks and summery love.

In a few weeks, the hubs and I will celebrate eight years of marriage.  I'll give you time to get all your well-wishes and cards in the mail.

During the cocktail hour of our reception, we (my parents) hosted the bar and passed appetizers, and among the beer and wine flowing from the bartenders, we also had a signature drink:  a pomegranate and pear martini.  For those who were there, I'm sure you'll remember people rushing the waiters carrying trays of them - and then the group of friends who made towers from their empties.  None broke, I promise!

I wish I had a darling antidote to go along with this, but at the time, I really liked martinis and we had pink and green as our colors.  They matched my decor, and tasted yummy, so I was sold.

Walking down memory lane, we decided to recreate the mix.  And because it was eight years ago and we didn't really have a recipe, but told our hotel caterer what we wanted, it took some trial and error to get it right.  Or right enough.  Taste testing cocktails.  Tough business I'm in here, right?

Keep in mind, this is a summer drink, but also a martini.  Read martinis = heavy on the booze.  If there are no objections, we'll continue

Gather up:

martini shaker
martini glass(es)
plenty of ice
pear vodka
pomegranate juice
lemon-lime soda, or soda water will do too

After much trial and error (but error isn't right, because those got consumed too!) we came to this ratio.  Keep in mind that this is based on an 8 oz martini glass.  If yours are smaller, watch when you pour or your glass will overflow.  Math seems unfair when there's drinking involved, but at least it's not as critical as when you're baking.

1.5 oz vodka to 2.5 oz juice (we doubled this)  Fill your shaker 1/2 full with ice and add liquids.  Cover and shake well, maybe 10 seconds or so, and pour into chilled glass.

Ha.  Chilled glass.  I'm just glass we have clean glass wear when I want to use it!  But it sounds fancy, right?  We're all about fancy here.

Fill to the brim with lemon-lime soda or soda water.

Garnish with pear slice or pomegranate seeds.  They make them look so pretty, but not required.  Again, fancy, but I'm not interested in eating a fruit salad.

We made virgin cocktails for the kiddos during our taste testing with a cup of lemon-lime soda and a splash of pomegranate juice, just like a kiddie cocktail.  And no, we didn't give them martini glasses, but if I had plastic ones I would've been tempted!

Cheers friends!


MORE Things You Should Know If We're Going to be BFF

The recap on the other things you should know about me if we're going to be BFF.

My home is not ever going to look like those in Pinterest.  Not for lack of trying, but most of our living space is where natural light goes to die and I just hate dusting and cannot avoid the clutter.

We have DVR, Netflix, Prime Instant Video.  I am addicted to binge watching shows, and make no apologies.  If you are looking for good shows to binge, or just watch like a normal person, a little a time, let me know!  I've made lists!!

I keep a journal of blogging ideas next to my bed.

I hate to floss.  

I have a very odd respect for fictional villains.  I admire authors who can write such a complex character.  For example:  Hannibal is a freak, serial killer cannibal, however he's so smart and charming.  

I am the youngest of six kids, however I am an only child from my parents' marriage.  From my siblings,  I have five nephews and four nieces, with only being older than seven of them:  one nephew is a year older than I am, and I am only weeks older than a second.

When my mother's side of the family gets together, we're like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, except we're German, not Greek, so there's no lamb on a spit in the yard.  But there is beer pong.  Lots of it.

I always knew I wanted to be a mom.  I had no idea it would be this hard, or that I would have so many doubts about my skill level or ability.  Like constantly doubt my skill level.

I hate coffee.  I don't even like coffee-flavored things.  I drink Diet Coke in the morning (and afternoon) for my caffeine jumpstart.

While we're on flavors, I only like mint as a breath freshener.  No thank you to the mint-flavored chocolate, ice cream, or otherwise.

I have had braces twice in my life and one side of my mouth is still jacked up.  For this reason, I prefer to stand on left side of a picture.

I only use my iron for my banners and almost four-years later from the original post, I still don't know how to fold a fitted sheet.

Even though I work part-time, I still feel the loneliness and pressures of being a stay-at-home mom.  I get to wear both stressful hats, how awesome is that?!


Wax Your Junk

Fair warning, Mom and Dad - do not tune into this one.  If you are squeamish, you probably can skip this too.  

I was trying to think of some clever play on words to title this post, but really, it comes down to brutal honesty.  We're going to talk about bikini waxing today - specifically Brazilian bikini waxing.  That's the kind where they don't just take in the sides, they take the whole kit and caboodle (minus a little flair if you'd like to leave some.)

If you are curious about how to become a pro-waxing client, please, read on dear friend.  I promise to be honest, yet funny and make you as comfortable as I possibly can, so that the next time you lay half naked in front of a perfect (and professional) stranger you'll just stare at the ceiling and not imagine what your junk looks like at that particular moment in time.

Here we go.

{she doesn't care}
The first, and probably the most important things to remember when you enter that little white room is she doesn't care what you look like.  She's see a lot of crotch and yours is no different.  My favorite esthetician (the professional title for a person who deal with waxing vag, among other skin care needs) told me once:  Unless it's got jewels on it, I'm not even looking at your body.  I'm looking at the hair and trying to take it all out because that's what you're paying me to do.  And she doesn't care about how "hairy" you are either.  You're in her room because you want it removed, obviously there's got to be something there to remove.  

{get comfortable}
Make yourself a little more comfortable before the service:  pop some Advil, go to the bathroom one more time (just in case), use a baby wipe if you'd like, and leave your socks on!  The last one is silly, but serious.  The last thing you want to do is be shivering cold, and shivering from the adrenaline rushing through your body during your first time.  If you're wondering about proper protocol or judgement from your esthetician, refer to previous paragraph.

{distract yourself}
This isn't your first time.  Certainly, you've been to the doctor and in the same position.  Naked, though modestly covered, legs spread and someone is talking looking around down there, while talking to you about your weekend.  This is good.  Small talk is your friend in the situation.  Not only does it allow you to make friends with your new best friend down there, but it's a wonderful distraction from the pain.  Hello - she is ripping hair from one of your more sensitive parts.  It's gonna hurt.  Take all the distraction you can get.  Chewing gum, or even a sucker is fantastic, trust me.  If you're wondering about proper protocol or judgement from your esthetician, refer to previous paragraph.

{help out}
I don't mean grab the wax pot and take over, but move your body so that she can do her job.  Laying with your legs slightly parted because of embarrassment isn't helping anyone.  The best position I've found is "the frog."  Put your feet together and bend your knees.  Yes, I know:  Super exposed.  Super embarrassing, in fact.  Refer to that first paragraph again.  Also, pulling up ever so slightly on your lower belly to keep that area taught is also helpful (unless you have a 6-pack, in which case I kind of hate you, but love your body, but whatever.)

{keep at it}
Your first time will be painful.  And then you'll be tempted to take that razor around the 2-3 week mark and take care of the regrowth.  Put that razor down and wait.  Waxing stubble is terrible.  Try to get on a schedule for every 4-6 weeks.  The longer you let the hair grow, the more painful it is to yank out, but if you go too often, there's nothing to the wax to grab.  A happy medium can be found.  The best part is the more often you go, the easier it becomes.  I've been at this for almost three years, and my time on the bed is about 15 minutes, max.  And I hardly flinch anymore.  Give me a break, she's ripping hair from my body, I'm not a robot!

Some of the perks...

Awesome sex.  (Sorry for the honestly, but it's true.)
Happy husband.  (Refer to first reason.)
No fear of those pesky little "peekers" during swim suit season.
Doing something for yourself.  
Having a little secret, all for yourself (and the hubs too I suppose.)

Hopefully you're a little braver and are willing to give this a go!  Power through the first couple of times - don't give up, and you'll be glad you stuck with it.

Get it.  Stuck with it.  Wax.  It's funny.  *boo*


random thoughts

I had a wonderful Mother's Day.  Right up until Avery lost her shit over having to brush her teeth before bed.  All the nice just went right down the drain, so to speak.

Whenever I see a thin woman, I remind myself she is very, very hungry.  May not be 100% accurate, but it makes me feel good.

I am re-reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn because I can't wait for the new movie to be released (and all of the other books I want to read have a wait at the library.)

I claimed I didn't plant any flowers over the weekend because the flower boxes on our deck need to be reinforced.  Really, it's because I'm a little lazy and know that I'll end up killing them in the 90 degree heat of summer.

I am starting to work more from home because summer construction blows.  I shouldn't need to sit in my car for 60 minutes to do creative design work that I can do from my living room with Netflix.   Hard pass.  Thankfully, my team is cool and they get it.

I made the mistake of Googling "Netflix" Original shows.  I now have no life, and will be on the couch if you need me.

My house has the constant, lingering smell of acrylic paint right now, thanks to these darling Mason Jars.  (Want one?  Or 10?  Blog exclusive coupon code:  BLOGBUDDY will save you 25% at checkout!)

I am hosting my book club tonight and am dreading the thought that it won't be nice enough to sit outside.  I would prefer to clean as little as possible before these women come to my house.

{Warning:  Southern Charm on Bravo! reference} I am the only one who is a little mad at Cameron for marrying someone other than Shep.  I'm sure her husband is a darling man, but I really like the chemistry between those two.

Liv:  I put extra butter on your toast.
Avery:  Thanks, sis.  Is that because you love me?
Liv:  You got that right, sis.


Things I Have Given Up On

I can remember thinking about my life, once Olivia would be born, and thinking being confident that I knew it all.  I knew what kind of mother I wanted to be and felt sure that I would be that person for all 18-years, and beyond.  My life would change, but only in wonderful, magical ways as my heart was swelling like my belly (and feet).  All of the good things that I loved before children would stay the same, and all the drama that I didn't care for would be washed away with the love of this little person.

I'd seen the kind of parent I didn't want to be.  I knew what worked and what didn't in my own life.  I read books on parenting.  I was ready.


As the parent of an infant, your life flips 75 times a day.  You ride real high, making is easy to fall really low, and fast.  But those babies, they grow.  You learn a little and life goes on.  Then, maybe you add a second or third kid because apparently humans are intelligent enough to make fire, but so dumb they can't remember how much teething and potty-training sucks.

But life goes on.  Your best intensions with #1 shifts with #2, and God help if there's anymore beyond that.  {remember this one, a personal favorite of mine}

Liv is now 6 (and a half, thank you very much) and Avery is 4.  I have learned to be way more flexible, not only day to day, but moment to moment.  And please don't confuse my "flexibility" with ability to control my tendency to scream like a lunatic to get another to listen to me.  But I have learned to let some of those glowing pre-baby thoughts and accept more reasonable, and still lovely ones.

{bedtime routine}
Bath, book, bed.  Plus lotion, gently massaged into their soft skin, cooing over their sweet post-bath smell.  Now I'm lucky if I get them in the shower to hose them off, and chase their legs around to smear some lotion on before they pull on jammies.  TV is also part of their bedtime routine.  And even though we try to get them in bed at the same time, when they actually fall asleep remains a mystery.  They can be in bed at 8 PM, but I can still be shouting "GO TO SLEEP" well past 9.  Mama wants to watch Game of Thrones in peace, show some respect!

{clean countertops}
If I really try, I can get things cleared off and all the papers in their proper home.  Then, just as quickly, the school day is done and backpacks are dumped and math worksheets, spelling tests and those darling art projects (that will soon find a garbage can because I cannot possible keep everything they create).  I can't keep up.  I try, but I really only make an effort if A.  We have company, or B.  I get mad over the clutter, blow-up and then quietly start throwing everything away.

{a private bedroom}
Your room is your sanctuary.  No doubt, bed always made with lovely, soft, white, down comforter, and even matching night stands.  Lucky you, Mr. Rockefeller.  In my house, my room is just another room for the girls stuff to trickle in to.  We find books, headbands, and even half-eaten snacks in there constantly.   Our only saving grace is one day the girls will be too embarrassed that they might see their father naked to actually stay out.  Fingers crossed.

Just kidding.  I hated doing this before I had kids.  I just use them as an excuse now.  It's my right as a parent to be able to play the "kid fault" card when I see fit.

{having the best/smartest/cutest kid}
Having my girls at the same time as some of my girl friends, I couldn't help but compare.  Is she rolling yet?  Cutting teeth?  Oh, she hasn't tried that solid food yet, do you think she should?  Entering school and sports is awesome.  I see the my kids are really awesome at some things, and really pretty crappy at others.  And that's OK.  Not everyone can be perfect at everything.  I hate to watch them struggle (I can be a good mom if I want to be) but I do recognize that struggles build character and prepare for the reality of life. 


Bacon Corn Griddle Cakes

I have a budding 6-year old chef in my house.  It's nice that she's so eager to learn and help but I'm a terrible teacher in the kitchen.  I'm so worried she'll burn or cut herself, I have a hard time letter her doing things without helicoptering over her by the stove.

In the search for things that we can do together, and where she can take over more of an actual "cooking" role, rather than assembling cold ingredients into a sandwich or salad, I found pancakes are great.  Sure, the griddle gets hot, but the long spatula keeps her little hands safe from burns.

Plus, this is a breakfast dinner that has two things I love most in life:  bacon and cheese.

I know, right?

Gather up your ingredients:

8 slices bacon
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow or white onion
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 cup corn (thawed if frozen, drained if canned, cooked if fresh)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese cheese
maple syrup, for serving

Start by cooking your bacon until starting to brown.  Then add in your onion and cook both until the bacon is crisp and onion is soft.  Remove from pan with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. 

In a large bowl, mix your pancake batter.  Whisk together flour, green onion, baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper.  Mix in the egg, milk and oil until just combined.  Stir in corn and cheese.  Now you're ready to cook!

Heat your griddle or pan to a medium-high heat.  You want a nice crust on your pancake, but not to cook them so fast that the middle is still raw.  There's lots of stuff in these cakes - you need them all to melt together!  I use bacon fat as my oil on the pan, but you could use another oil or spray of your liking.  Oil is critical to getting a good color!

Working in 1/4 cup spoonfuls, drop cakes onto your griddle and let brown and flip, just like your normal, boring 'ole pancake.  They won't bubble like your typical morning fare, so watch for browsing on the edges.

When all is done, you'll have about 8 pancakes, which for my family was no where near enough for a meal on it's own.  Add in eggs, maybe some hash browns, sausage or more bacon.  Oh, and maybe some fruit.  Something healthy to round it out.

But please don't skimp on the maple syrup.

 {adapted from Recipe Girl}


DIY Painted Tote Bag {and giveaway}

This tote bag is the perfect project for an afternoon.  I can say that in all honesty, because I did it with two great gals.  And some wine.  And a little help of Disney and chicken nuggets to help the kiddos over the hump so we could finish everything!

If crafting (or cutting vinyl) isn't your thing, have no fear - these adorable totes can still be yours!  I have a few styles listed on my Etsy shop, with more coming soon!  Oh!  And there's a giveaway at the end of this post! Lots of fun here today!

Okay!  One with the tutorial!

Gather up some supplies:
  • Canvas bag of your choosing.  If you're handy enough to sew one, be my guest.  I am not THAT crafty, so I bought mine at JoAnn Fabrics.
  • Fabric or multi-purpose acrylic paint - make sure that it says it can be used on fabric without a textile medium (or you'll need that too!)
  • Foam brushes and paint pallet (aka paper plate)
  • Vinyl cut with your choice of pattern.  I have a Cricut, so this was easy for me.  You could also design with scissors and painters tape.  Or even a store-bought stencil, just tape down securely so paint doesn't leak beneath it.
  • Glass of wine (kidding, but not really)

Using a foam brush and a little bit of paint, start dabbing in whatever pattern, random or otherwise you'd like. 

I went for random, starting with a few colors here and there, and moving on to the next, going back at the end to fill in the gaps, trying to not have colors touch, but that was my style.  

Wait about 20 minutes in-between coats;  I used two coats of the solid colors and three for the glitter. Once you're satisfied with coverage, let your paint dry at least an hour before peeling off your vinyl.  Take care and wait if there are an big, not-quite dry globs that might gather on the vinyl, you don't want that to smear on your bag when you're peeling it off!

 When you're done, you'll have a super darling bag that will be great for so many things!

Oh, and I made one in "hearts" too!

So now here's the giveaway I promised!  One tote of your choice to the winner!  Contest ends on Thursday, April 30 12 AM CST.  Good luck!  And remember, dry those tears if you don't win - I may have a super sweet deal announced when I announce the winner so you can still get your bag - or six!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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