Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sweet Mornings

Most of our mornings look the same around here.  Mr. Spouse is usually up and out the door before anyone else' alarms go off.  He does get to go in a little later some mornings, but it seems like he's gone before we get up most days.  My boys always set their alarm for 6:30 so they can watch TV before I roll out of bed around 7.  Since the boys make their own lunches and take care of all of their personal stuff alone (getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc.), I have plenty of time to make breakfast and get dressed before we head out the door by 8.  Some mornings I have quick breakfasts on hand....cereal, cinnamon rolls, muffins....but some mornings I actually cook. 
I call those my "miracle mornings" :)

I've never been much of a breakfast person myself.  I'd rather have breakfast food for dinner.  Coffee usually holds me over until about 11 when I'm finally ready for lunch.  My boys, on the other hand, love breakfast.  My oldest would eat a steady diet of pancakes, waffles, and cinnamon rolls every morning if we let him and my youngest would prefer cereal, muffins, eggs, and biscuits.  Because I want them to have some sort of sustenance in their bellies before heading to school, I don't mind giving them what they want (for the most part).  It just makes for a happier morning for everyone.  And I really love happy mornings :)

Since it's just me and the boys most mornings, I don't make huge breakfasts...especially since I don't normally eat before 11.  When Mr.Spouse is home however, I try to make something all three of my guys can enjoy.  And if there is anything leftover, Mr. Spouse will take it to work and share with his kids.  It's a win-win.  When I found this recipe, I knew I had to throw it into the rotation.  It has all the makings of a great breakfast...chocolate, croissants, and sugar, OH MY!  
Here's a little bit about our experience with this recipe!

CHOCOLATE CHIP CROISSANT BAKE

1 package (10-13oz) of mini croissants (found in your grocery store bakery area), chopped
2 pkgs. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 C. sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. milk
2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chip morsels


Just in case you're wondering, here are the mini croissants.  I'm honestly shocked these all made it into the baking dish because I could've eaten the entire package.  Alone.  #sadbuttrue




Chop the croissants into small bite-sized pieces and add them to a greased 9x13 baking dish.


In a separate bowl, beat your cream cheese until smooth before adding any of the other ingredients.  And be sure that it's softened (room temperature).  I didn't do this and I wish I would have!!!  After reading some of the comments on the original post, I think this is the step where I went wrong.  You see, I put the cream cheese into the bowl with all the other ingredients and then mixed until everything was combined.  It was softened, but maybe not enough?!  My cream cheese ended up looking more like cottage cheese when it was all said and done.  This didn't affect the taste whatsoever...it was still REALLY good!!!...but the appearance made all three of my boys a little wary.

Once your cream cheese is beat until smooth, add the remaining ingredients (sugar, eggs, vanilla, & milk) until well combined and pour the mixture evenly over the croissants.

See what I mean about the lumpy cream cheese?!?!


I prepped this dish the night before I baked it giving it time to set.  All I had to do was wake up a little earlier on a Friday morning, take it out of the fridge, and pop it in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes and it was ready to go!   That's what I call a pretty sweet morning :)


As you can see, even after baking I had little lumps of cream cheese all over the place.  Again, it didn't affect the taste, just the appearance. 

It was a bit soggy on the bottom which presented a bit of a problem for my texture sensitive 9-year-old, so he abandoned ship pretty quickly.  Bless.  I'm sure I did something wrong...total user error!...because from the looks of the original recipe, it's not supposed to be soggy at all, LOL!


I'm not giving up on this recipe because it has serious potential and it really tastes fantastic!!! I  love the idea of baking this and taking it to potluck brunches and showers.  It would be great if you're entertaining company, too!  I just want to get it right before I share it with a crowd! 

Next time, I'm going to make sure the cream cheese is super softened and I'll be sure to beat it before adding any of the extra ingredients.  I also plan on adding a little cinnamon to the mixture, too. The sogginess??? What could I have done differently?  Less egg?  Less milk?? More croissants??   Not sure!  I need to keep playing with it to figure all that out because I surely don't want a crispy croissant bake, but I don't want it soggy either.  I guess there's only one way to find out!  And I know what my boys will be trying again tomorrow morning :)  Ha!




Friday, September 16, 2016

Game Day Treats

I think I've mentioned it before, but my husband is an athletic trainer at one of the local high schools.  He's been doing this for as long as I've known him and I know I'm a proud wife, but I really must mention that he's SO good at what he does.  Not just his knowledge about injuries and treatment, but he's amazing at building relationships with his student trainers.  We miss him so much during football season when his days and nights are long and we don't see him as often as we'd like, but we know his school kids need him too and we're happy to share him for the season :)

Now that my schedule is a lot more flexible, I've gotten to know a lot of his kids and they are the sweetest.  Such good kids who work hard and deserve to be treated :)  I love surprising his kids with little treats throughout the year.  Nothing crazy fancy or anything like that, but the teacher in me really does love doing cutesy little things especially now that I don't have my own classroom.  
The first official home game of the season called for such treats.  

These would be great for birthday parties or game days, too!  So I wanted to share in case you need a few fun little treat ideas also :)

Making these football treat bags is super simple and just requires a white paint pen, a pair of scissors, brown paper lunch bags, and a little patience.  Just cut off the tops of the bags (it looks even better with jagged edged scissors) and use a white paint pen to draw on the football lacing details.  Simple, right?!  

You can fill the bags with anything, but I filled ours up with some candy, a bag of goldfish with a tag that said, "It's oFISHally football season!", blue gatorade bottles (our team colors are blue and white), and a few little football themed paper goods (napkins and paper straws). 


One year I had some extra time on my hands and even wrapped the gatorade bottles with this great football textured scrapbook paper (I drew the lacing on those, too).  Extra time doesn't seem to be happening very much lately so this year the kids just got the gatorade bottles :)  

As you can see, I also attempted football shaped chocolate rice krispie treats that year, too.  This should be in the "Pinterest Fails" category.  Looks like my 8-year-old tried to decorate those!!!  Ha!


In addition to the treat bags, I made the kids some game day cupcakes this year.  Y'all...these were SO easy!  I went ahead and just used a box mix for the cupcakes, but there's nothing quite like homemade frosting, so I used one of my favorite chocolate buttercream recipes to top these off.  I baked these in green cupcake liners and used a mini closed star cupcake decorating tip for the brown piping.  I used a mini round cupcake decorating tip for the white piping.  They're not the prettiest attempt at cupcake decorating, but not a total fail either :)

All of the paper goods (straws, napkins, coasters) are from Wal Mart.  Right now they have the best game day paper goods!!! I picked up lots of extras for the season in case they stop carrying them.  We love hosting Sunday Funday and these will make for some fun little touches.



If you're looking for a great chocolate buttercream recipe, these two are the absolute BEST!!!  You can't go wrong with either!!!  I used the Two Sisters Crafting recipe for the football cupcakes and it got RAVE reviews!!!










Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What the Teacher Wore

Now that we're in a routine again...and I'm not wearing the same white cotton shorts and tank tops every.single.day....it's time to get a little more intentional about my outfits.  It's been a while, so today I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday.

Lots of fun Target finds in this week's post which means LOTS of great deals!!!  And who doesn't love a great deal?!  I found this sleeveless number at the beginning of the summer for about $10.  I thought it would be perfect for church and conferences and for $10, you can't beat it!  I paired it with these black Ralph Lauren Deirdre wedges I picked up at Dillard's a few years ago for under $40 after season. Topped it all off with my Kendra Scott Alexandra drop earrings.


The dress fit perfectly for being under $10!  And with no end to the heat in sight, I think I'll get lots more wear out of this in the next few weeks.


A night out called for a little something dressier.  I bought this jumper a year & a half ago  from a cute little boutique in Nashville.  For the life of me, I can't remember what the boutique is called.  But I love it!  And I paired it with these Sam Edelman Delilah D'Orsay heels I recently bought at Marshall's for $40!!!!!! 


Probably would've been really cute with a belt, but since I didn't have one I liked, I wore this Courtney Bib Necklace instead and paired that with my Tory Burch Double Wrap Bangle & Rustic Cuff.


Now let's get back to Target.  This was one of my favorite finds this summer!  I got this top for less than $10, too!  It's from the Knox Rose line they have in-store...I really love so many of the Knox Rose pieces I've found there!  

These jeans are a staple.  I've worn them for the last three years and they still fit like new.  It seems like I always try out a lot of different jeans, but I keep coming back to these.  Great quality, great fit, and if you can get them on sale you can usually find them 2-for-1.  LOVE that! 
When I was in Vegas this past summer, I found these Steve Madden Callvin peep toes for less than $70.  They were on clearance and I couldn't grab them fast enough.  I can't find them anymore, but they carry an identical shoe in a different color you can find HERE.  Honestly, I LOVE these shoes and wear them so much more than I thought I would.  They're so comfortable and they go with almost everything I own.


Last up, a Target romper for the win.  I found this one in the Spring and I *think* I paid full price which may have been $20?  I liked it because the shorts are a bit longer than most romper shorts and I love the way they fall.  It's just a good fit!  I found the shoes at Target, too!  I found them on clearance and they're a perfect fit.  I have them in sand, too and wear these all the time. 





Even though I'm tired of the heat, I'm not sure I'm quite ready for full on booties and scarves just yet.  That will come all too soon and I'll be wishing on the warm weather once again :)  



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Last of the Groceries

The last of the groceries.  We've all been there.  That time of the week when we're down to the bare bones in the fridge and pantry and because we're trying to stretch the very last of what we have to avoid a trip to the grocery store and delay the inevitable, we start improvising with what we have on hand.  That was me last night.  I forgot that I had scheduled my grocery pick-up for Tuesday morning instead of Monday morning, so I got to use the last things standing in the fridge.  My boys NEVER enjoy when this happens and always remind me to go to the grocery store as I drop them off each morning.  Bless their hearts ;)

I ended up finding a recipe that required the use of pretty much everything I had left on-hand.  Score.  It was a pretty tasty little meal and my kids now have a new dinner they'll actually eat. I could definitely see these doubling as a fun little appetizer on game day, too!

PARMESAN CHICKEN ROLL-UPS

1 lb. chicken tenderloins OR 2 chicken breasts sliced into thin strips
2 TBSP. butter OR olive oil
1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 C. mayonnaise
1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese (to taste)
salt & pepper, to taste
garlic salt,or powder for sprinkling

Now, remember when I told you that my CF card is kaput so I can't use my camera?!  Well...I got a new card, but now I can't find my charger, hahahaha!!!  SO, iphone pics it is.  
Boom.

First up, start by seasoning your chicken with a little salt and pepper.  Add the butter or olive oil to the pan and heat on medium high.  I used butter because I was all out of olive oil.  

Now add the chicken and cook until heated through and no longer pink.  

Mix together the parmesan cheese and mayonnaise and coat evenly over the chicken.  I just kept my chicken in the pan, turned off the heat, added the mayo/parm mixture, and stirred until well coated.  


Nice and gooey.  Tasty, too.  Honestly, we could've eaten it just like this with a side of veggies or something, but I needed to use those crescent rolls before they expired.   We don't use those very often unless we're making sopapilla cheesecake.   I bought a can of them not too long ago to use in a dessert recipe for a get-together, but the gathering was cancelled and so sat the crescents.  I don't like anything to go to waste, so I'm glad I was able to find this recipe and put them to good use!!!

I digress.

Now go ahead and roll up your chicken inside of the crescent dough   Place your chicken on the long side of the crescent and roll.  Sweet and simple.  Place in a baking dish, brush with a teensy bit of melted butter and sprinkle with a little extra parmesan and garlic powder if you so desire.
I sprinkled a little dash of oregano on top as well.


Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until golden.


  I had a jar of marinara sauce I needed to use as well, so we heated that up and dipped the roll-ups as we ate.  The boys aren't really big dippers at all (except for Grant.  He will eat ketchup with EVERYTHING).  So they went ahead and tried it sauceless at first.  Then they decided to dip and ohmiword....they loved it!!!!


Winner, winner parmesan chicken dinner :)

We served these little roll-ups with steamed broccoli and that made for a pretty quick and easy meal.  Needless to say, the boys will be thrilled when they get home this afternoon to discover I went to the grocery store.  They're definitely kids who love their staple dinners, but they were more than happy to try this little number for a change!



Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kroger Click List

I'm going to share something that isn't new to probably anyone but myself.  In typical fashion, I'm the last to find out about things, so it shouldn't be shocking that I'm the last person to find out about and take advantage of such a gem.  

I'm talking about Kroger Click List.
Like pretty much every other mom in the world, I absolutely detest the grocery store.  I mean, I've been to some great ones here and there where grocery shopping was an experience, but the week-to-week chore of driving to the store, shopping, and then coming home to unload is by far my least favorite domestic duty.  Okay, well laundry ranks right up there too, but you know what I mean ;)  
So I wanted to share this with anyone else who's been thinking of trying out this service or for anyone who's never heard of it and has no idea what it is.


Yes, it's REALLY that easy!!!!!  

I started taking advantage of this service back in the summer when the boys were home.  If you have little ones, or even big kids at home for that matter, you know what a beating it can be to take them to the grocery store.  I always carry a list with me, but when the boys are in tow I end up with about 5-10 "extra" things I never intended on buying in the first place while hearing, "are we almost done???" from the minute we walk in the door until we check out.  Oh bless them.  Makes a not-so-fun experience even less enjoyable.

With Kroger Click List you just order your groceries online & reserve a pick-up date and time.  The lovely Kroger employees do the actual shopping for you.  All you do is pull into the Click List parking spot, notify them you've arrived (with a phone call), and they bring out your groceries and load them for you,too!  AMAZING.  Before loading your groceries, they go over your order to let you know if anything was out of stock or if they had to make any substitutions.  For example, I ordered a carton of blackberries one week and they were out of stock, so they substituted the organic blackberries for me and price matched my original order.  Kind of amazingly fantastic.  They've substituted a few things that I didn't want before (I ordered pepperoni pizza and they subbed 3-meat, but the boys only eat pepperoni so that was a no-go), so they simply remove the items from your cart and change the total bill to reflect the change.  



One thing I absolutely LOVE about the online shopping is that every time I use my Kroger card, my purchase information is saved.  This makes shopping so much faster!!  When I log-in to my account, my previous purchases show up.  There are staples we get every week, so this is such a time-saver....no searching! Milk, bread, pico (ha!), yogurt for the boys, coffee for mom and dad...you know, all the important stuff :)  Here's what my cart looks like....


I start meal planning for the following week a week ahead of time.  As I'm figuring out what we'll be eating, I just log-in to my account and add the needed ingredients to my cart then adjust it as needed when it comes time to checkout.  The sale page feature is one of my favorites.  I'll take a price break wherever I can get one.



Speaking of price breaks, if you use coupons when you shop those can still be applied when paying at pick-up.  Nothing is paid for online.  All payment is taken care of when you arrive just in case there are changes to your order.  

The only downside to using this service is that I haven't been able to find my family's most requested item online when shopping...Kroger store-baked tortillas.  My boys are tortilla spoiled.  These are seriously the BEST tortillas.  OH the first world horror that ensues when I bring home a different kind.   I can find every other tortilla they carry, but this one is not sold online...I have to go in and grab them.  I'm sure the Kroger shoppers would pick them up for me when I got there if I asked them, but it's just as easy for me to go in and grab them real quick.  Kind of defeats the whole purpose of shopping this way, I know.  But y'all...no other tortilla is comparable.  Totally worth the walk-in.



There's a $4.95 fee to use this service, but you get your first three pick-ups free!  And let me be honest.  I'd pay twice that for the convenience.  Honestly.  When I shop online I feel like I'm saving money because I'm not as likely to make impulse purchases. I tend to do that A LOT when I'm shopping, so the $4.95 is worth it to me :)   

I don't think every Kroger offers this service, so you'd want to check for yourself if your local store participates.  Some of my friends in different in different places tell me that Vons also does this (they even deliver to your house!!!),  some HEB stores participate, Safeway, Wal Mart, Whole Foods, and a few others.  It's definitely worth a shot to investigate and see whether or not you have a grocery store around you that offers something like this.  It would've been AMAZING to have had a service like this when my boys were babies.  As a new mom, I would've spent every penny taking advantage of that!!!!  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Home Tour Tuesday - The Mudroom/Laundry Room Edition

Hey there!

As usual, I've taken a long hiatus from the blog so I could fully enjoy spending summer with the family.  It was a busy one, for sure!  We were out of town the majority of our summer break, so I just didn't feel like updating here.  Not that anyone is reading anyway, hahaha.  Now we're two weeks into the school year and our day-to-day routine is back in full swing, so I figured I'd pop back in and start blogging again.  We'll see how long I can keep up!  So let's dive right back into the swing of things with a little Home Tour Tuesday, shall we?!  You'll have to ignore the shoddy quality of these pics.  My CF card was damaged back at the beginning of the summer and I just haven't been motivated to replace it, so these crummy iPhone pics will have to do :)  


I've been dying to redo our laundry room since we moved in four years ago.  The space is SOOOO very tiny and narrow.  And it's pretty much the space where everyone enters the house. It was full of huge built in cabinets above the washing machine/dryer as well as cabinets and a countertop space to the side of the washing machine and dryer.  It really made the entire space feel so closed in.  I wish I had "before" pics to show you!  

My brother is AMAZINGLY gifted when it comes to building and carpentry, so I commissioned him to give the laundry room a makeover.  We left for our annual two week trip to Indiana & Michigan, so he moved in while we were away to house-sit and build the laundry room of my dreams.  He got to the house and texted me asking me what I wanted the built-ins to look like and I sent him a few pictures to try and explain my vision..."I like these lockers", "These are the hooks I have in mind", "Love the backing on this unit", "These cubbies are perfect", etc.  After a few back and forth texts, he sketched out my vision, sent it to me for approval, and got to work.  Here's what he came up with...



YES!!!!!  EXACTLY WHAT I HAD IN MIND!!!!!  And all designed through a series of texts, lol.

It helps that I really trust his vision and know he does amazing work, so I knew whatever he did would be perfect.  And I was right.  His craftsmanship opened up that room so much and makes the space feel so much bigger than it actually is.  See...it's pretty narrow....






While I know the most logical thing to do with all the cubbies above the lockers would be to fill them with laundry room type stuff, I opted to decorate them instead since this is such a high traffic area.  I wanted to cozy it up just a bit even though it technically doesn't make a lot of sense.  I could careless about all that.  I keep all of my laundry detergents, dryer sheets, etc. in the drawers beneath my washer and dryer as well as in a box inside the bottom cubby.  Works perfectly.


My brother decided to break up the continuity of the cubbies on top by adding a shelf to make it a little more visually appealing.  LOVED that idea and it's even better seeing it in person.  I'm pretty sure his vision was better than mine.


Since we enter the house through the laundry room, I asked for a little shelf where I could safely store all of our junk...a little basket for our sunglasses and keys works great and nothing gets lost anymore.  Can I get an AMEN?!


The little turquoise can holds the dog food. We'd keep it outside, but the possums and racoons always flip off the lid and leave a giant mess on our back porch.  GROSS.



We're going to add a trim piece to the bottom of the cubbies to polish it all off and I plan on buying some wire & burlap lined baskets to replace the gray & white.  Those are temporary until I can find something I really love.  The last cubby closest to the wall is currently holding shoes.  It looks super sloppy with them all thrown in the way they are right now, so I'm anxious to find baskets really SOON!! Ha!


The metal buckets are from Wal Mart and I keep those inside each locker to collect backpack "junk".  As you can see, only two weeks into the school year and the boys were loading up their backpacks with things they didn't need.  I remind them to check their backpacks in the morning and take out anything they don't need.  They place all of the "junk" inside the buckets and then empty the buckets in their rooms when they get home in the afternoons.


The other thing I really wanted for each locker were these hooks.  Mr. Spouse and I both agreed we wanted more than one per section, so we decided on three and we're so glad we did!  By the end of the day, each hook is full.  Backpacks, lunch kits, and hoodies (it gets cold in their classrooms).



I absolutely LOVE that everything finally has it's own space in that little room.
It's cleaner and (shockingly) bigger and I couldn't be happier!!!  Now I don't dread hearing the back door open when people come over to visit.  It's an inviting little room that I absolutely adore and am SO happy my brother was able to make my mudroom/laundry room dreams a reality!

If you want to take a little tour through some other rooms in the house, you can check out these posts from the past year.  After looking through them, I think they need updated.  SO much has changed in this short little year!!!








Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Salmon & Asparagus

Our weeknight dinners have been pretty sparse the last few weeks.  Between Mr. Spouse being in the playoffs and after school obligations with the kids, cooking from a "recipe" just didn't seem very appealing.  We try to eat as clean as possible, so I try to steer away from adding too many processed ingredients to our weekly meals. That's not to say I don't cook those types of meal from time to time, but for the most part we try to keep it pretty simple these days.  When we go out to eat, well that's a whole different story ;) 

 Lean meats, fish, veggies, and fruits are usually what fill my shopping cart. Typically our weeknights have been going something like this... Steaks and veggies, Fish and veggies, Turkey Taco Salads, and Chicken & veggies.  NOT very adventurous lately!!  I love finding new ways to cook my staples, so when I found this Salmon recipe I had to try it immediately!!!  Start to finish, a total of maybe 20-25 minutes?!?!  And the best part?!  It's an all-in-one-pan kind of meal!!!

CAJUN SALMON & ASPARAGUS

1 salmon fillet
2 tsp. cajun/creole seasonings (I used Tony Chachere's)
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 lemon, zested & juiced
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Mix together all seasonings in a small bowl.  For the cajun seasoning, my most favorite is Tony Chachere's.  We seriously put it on everything!  Such great flavor!  


Cover a cookie sheet with foil and place the salmon on top.  Brush the olive oil over both sides of the salmon and cover with the spice mixture.  Now zest the lemon and sprinkle over the top of the seasoning and squeeze with lemon juice as well.



Arrange your asparagus next to the salmon and slightly drizzle with a little olive oil. You can either season with sea salt & pepper or sprinkle with a little bit of that cajun seasoning.  We opted for a mixture of both.


Bake at 475 for 10-12 minutes & remove salmon from the pan if cooked. I cooked my asparagus for another 5-7 minutes (texture issues) and that was that!!!!  


I can't tell you how amazing this was!!!!

It's already on the menu (again) for tomorrow night's meal :)  If you like salmon, you'll LOVE this one!!