Saturday, December 5, 2015

Blogmas Day 5: My Christmas Wish List

As odd as it may seem, I don't have much on my Christmas wish list. My husband and I decided earlier this week to buy each other a pass to Busch Gardens since we live about 20 minutes away. I was happy with this idea because my husband isn't the easiest person to buy for. 
I did mention a few things that I wanted to my mom and my cousin, but I'm a pretty easy girl to please when it comes to gift-giving and am basically happy with anything that involves jewelry, cookware, or gift cards!
So here are a few of the things on my wish list for this Christmas! 
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I rarely wear makeup -- but I think that's because my makeup is old and nothing I'm excited for anymore. I figured with a gift card, I can buy some new lip gloss and maybe a pretty eye shadow. 
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I do a ton of cooking, so I've been wanting one of these for a few years. These are nice because they can be used on top of stove as well as in the oven.  I've been warned they get VERY heavy, but I would still like one! 
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I love pearls -- they are so classic. Pair that with this cute bow and I'm thinking all the heart eyes over here. 
Those are just some of the things on my Christmas Wish List. But what's most important is that my family is together on Christmas, that everyone is happy and healthy, and that memories are made. 
What's on your Christmas Wish List?

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Blogmas Day 4: Toddler Friendly Christmas Tree

Yesterday I shared with all of you our Christmas tree.  While it's a beautiful thing, it's so not something we particularly encourage our little Elizabeth to play with. I came across a few ideas on Pinterest and when I saw the felt Christmas tree, I know I found a hit!
What I didn't know is that my mom was more than game for making it for me since I basically don't have a crafty bone in my body. Yes. I'm a non-crafty teacher! HA!
My parents were in Tampa last week for Thanksgiving and she brought down her supply of felt and asked me which colors I wanted the ornaments to be. She had the fantastic idea to trace cookie cutters to make the most adorable ornaments for Elizabeth's tree. Felt sticks to felt, so there's no need for velcro or anything!
One night, while my husband I were on a date, she got right to work and made the tree, traced and cut out the ornaments, and had it ready when we got home!  
We were going to hang it in her playroom at first but then I got the idea to hang it in the kitchen so that when I'm cooking or if we have company over, she would have something to do to keep herself out of trouble (i.e.-- playing with the actual Christmas tree that has hundreds of dollars worth of ornaments).
The felt Christmas tree was hung with command strips that at first worked well, but when our little gets frustrated, she is able to rip the Christmas tree right off the wall. This weekend my husband and I are going to have to figure out a better way to secure it to the wall, but so far she loves it!
Little Elizabeth just turned 15 months and she's actually a little young for it. It's hard for her to grasp that she has to press hard on the felt ornaments to get them to stick, but she does enjoy walking up to it and grabbing the ornaments. I know she'll love it even more next year, so I plan on adding some felt Christmas presents underneath it and my mom wants to get some string to make the "bulbs" look like Christmas lights. See, I told you -- she's crafty! 
I hope you make one of these for your toddler -- they will love it!
We have it hanging in our kitchen next to the pantry!

Look at that little in those jammies playing with the tree!

Note the REAL Christmas tree ornament in her hand... haha!

A little play time after school yesterday afternoon!
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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Blogmas Day 3: Christmas Tree Reveal

I utterly love our Christmas tree. The ornaments are a combination of ornaments passed down to me from my mom, ornaments that my mom and dad purchased for me as I grew up, and ornaments given to me by my husband.  They all tell a story and are very near and dear to my heart.
This year, since we have a toddler, we had to be very strategic with placing ornaments on the tree. Since my parents were in town recently, I enlisted the help of my mom since she's so good at hanging them perfectly. We decided to keep all the toddler-friendly ornaments on the bottom half of the tree in hopes it would keep our little Elizabeth from grabbing the fancy and breakable ones.
That idea worked like a charm didn't it!?!?! 

Here are some photos of our tree and some of my favorite ornaments! :)
Lots of ornaments that all tell a story!

We bought this after we moved into our house!

Flounder from The Little Mermaid.

For our sweet little Elizabeth.

A photo from our wedding.

I love our tree!


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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Blogmas Day 2: Christmas Song Favorites

Christmas music is one of the things I love most about the holiday season. Normally I have the no-Christmas music before Thanksgiving rule, but ever since I became a mommy, I see no shame in listening to it the second The Holly is back on Sirus XM radio. Christmas music makes me happy for many reasons – I love belting out the songs even though I can’t carry a tune and it is an immediate mood booster. In a bad mood? I swear, pop on a few Christmas tunes and you’ll soon have a smile on your face. 
With that being said, I wanted to share some of my favorite Christmas albums/songs with you. 
Favorite Albums:
Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas (1994)
This was probably one of my first Christmas CDs that I had for my little CD player when I was in 4th grade. I love Mariah Carey (who doesn’t with a voice like that). My favorites on the CD? All I Want for Christmas is You and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

N’SYNC – Home For Christmas (1998)
I love this CD because it brings back my inner teenager. I love a capella music, so their rendition of O Holy Night is beautiful. And naturally, I love Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays too.

Favorite Songs:
Josh Groban – Believe (The Polar Express)
Josh Groban has one of the most beautiful voices ever. I’ve been lucky enough to see him in concert and he is utterly amazing. The song “Believe” is one that I always sing along to while I’m driving the car, baking cookies, or dancing with my sweet little Elizabeth.

Johnny Mathis – It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
I know. It’s an oldie. But it’s probably my favorite Christmas song. I’ve even had it set as the ringtone on my phone. I have awesome memories decorating our Christmas tree as a child listening to this song playing on the stereo.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Canon
This song is set to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, which was the song I walked down the aisle to on the day of our wedding. I’ve always loved Canon in D Major, so this song and Christmas combined is just perfect. Definitely one of the songs I crank up while I’m driving in the car!

With there being so many Christmas songs out there, what are your favorites? As you can see, I’m totally into the old songs and classics!
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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blogmas Day 1: 10 Things I Love About Christmas

I'm a giant kid at heart. I love all holidays and Christmas is no exception to that. There's just so many special things that the holiday season of Christmas brings - family, making memories, holiday baking, and the list goes on and on. It's a pleasure to share my list with you all! 
10 Things I Love About Christmas 

 1. Holiday Baking
Growing up my family did a ton of baking around Christmas. I have such beautiful memories of spending time at my grandma's house making the dough, letting it chill, and then rolling it out. Flour was everywhere but it was something that we did together every year. Even now as an adult, I spend lots of nights and weekends doing baking - cutout cookies, peanut butter blossoms, chocolate chip -- oh this list goes on and on! 

2. Christmas Music
Now I'm not talking about the odd songs like "Dominic the Donkey" and "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas". I'm talking about the classics by Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, and Burl Ives. Sure, these songs were written before I was born, but they are the songs that my family and I listened to putting up the Christmas tree, driving around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights, and so much more. Don't get me wrong, I utterly love the 'NSync Christmas album, but there's just something extra special about "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Jingle Bell Rock" (The Bobby Helms version, not Alvin and the Chipmunks). 
3. Buying Gifts for Family and Friends
I honestly enjoy buying Christmas presents for my family and friends. Whether it's something little like a gift card to Starbucks or a beautiful shirt and sweater, I enjoy thinking of what the recipient would enjoy receiving on Christmas morning. Gifts don't have to break the bank (especially when your on a teacher budget), but it's really the thought that counts - it truly is better to give than to receive in my eyes. 
4. Hallmark Christmas Movies
Oh I'm just utterly obsessed. From mid-November until New Years Day, I'm practically glued to the couch watching these heartwarming stories. In fact, I DVR the majority of them and watch on the weekends when I have a little bit of spare time. What's amazing right now is that every Saturday and Sunday, a new movie premieres! I just love sitting on the couch with the tree lights on, snuggled with a blanket, watching the Hallmark channel! 
5. Christmas Decorations
We have a small house and growing up, I lived in a small house as well. But during the holidays, there's no stopping us with decorating -- the Christmas tree, Christmas lights, special scented candles, etc. Having Christmas decorations around the house makes it seem magical and it honestly brings such memories -- I may live 1200 miles away from my parents but my house has a ton of decorations for the holidays that we had out when I was a child! Each piece that is displayed in my house has a memory and tells a story. 
6. Christmas Ornaments
Prior to me moving to Florida, my mom started an ornament collection for me. She bought me ornaments every year and kept them in a safe box so that when I decorated my first Christmas tree in my first apartment in Florida, I had enough ornaments to fill the tree. What's special about these ornaments is that they bring back memories and remind me of the Christmases I had as a child. I have already started this tradition for our little one in hopes that by the time she has her very own Christmas tree in her first apartment, she has a beautiful tree just like I did. Even my husband and I exchange ornaments every year and I cherish these gifts more than any other gift I receive each year. 
7. Holiday Drinks at Starbucks
I know. I'm basic. I love Starbucks as much as everyone else. Peppermint Mocha and the Caramel Brulee Latte are two of my favorites. What do I love right that goes along with these tasty holiday beverages? The red cup! Whether it's last year's decorated cup or the simply stated red cup this year, it just brings a smile to my face and a happy feeling in my tummy! 
8. Wrapping Presents
I love wrapping presents. I think it's because growing up, my parents and I had a tradition of wrapping presents together in the living room, watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I don't just wrap the gifts with paper, I strategically plan what paper I'll be using for each person and make sure the packages include a tag with their names and ribbons that match the paper. Sure, I get paper cuts every now and again, but it's the special memories I have of these moments with my parents that put a smile on my face as I'm wrapping gifts for my family and friends. 
9. Classic Christmas Movies
Home Alone. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. A Christmas Story. All of my favorites. All are watched numerous times over the holiday season. I basically know all of the lines to Home Alone, but I feel it's absolutely necessary to watch every year. There are some great Christmas movies these days, but I feel nothing will ever come close to the "classics" of people my age. And I know, the "real" classics include "It's a Wonderful Life", "Miracle on 34th Street", and "A Christmas Carol". Those movies just aren't my thing and that's perfectly fine! 
10. Family Traditions and Making Memories
Okay, so maybe this is technically two but I'm rolling it into one. Growing up, we celebrated Christmas Eve at my aunt's house every year. We went to 4pm mass and then had Christmas Eve dinner. We munched on food all night, opened gifts, and waited for Santa to drive by in the local firetruck, passing out candy canes. Christmas morning, we ate breakfast around the coffee table, slowly opening presents and enjoying hot cocoa and cinnamon rolls. Christmas dinner was at my uncle's house and it was exactly the same menu every year and I still love it. My husband and I (and our little) live in Florida which is 1200 miles away from the rest of my family, but we try our hardest to fly home to spend Christmas with my parents. Although we did have to spend a few Christmas mornings here in Tampa, I made sure to follow the same Christmas morning tradition -- right down to watching the Disney parade. Making memories and keeping family traditions is so important to me because I feel I have such beautiful memories of the Christmas season. 
So what are some of the things you love about Christmas?
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Blogmas 2015

I really need a personal assistant so I can get back to blogging. I have so many ideas to blog about, I just can't seem to find the time. Maybe that's just the excuse I keep on telling myself.  
Anyways, a few days ago, I was on Instagram and I came across the "Blogmas" tags. After scrolling through lots of blogs and Pinterest, I realized that I immediately wanted to jump on that idea! I love Christmas as much as more than a child, so to hear that I can spend almost the entire month of December blogging about it, makes me all giddy inside.
Over the next 25 days, I will be sharing some of my Christmas favorites with you -- movies, music, recipes, decor ideas, traditions and more. As a mama to a toddler (and a baby on the way), it's my job to make this time of year simply magical, even though she's only 15 months. Memories need to be made even from an early age. Elizabeth might not remember them, but my husband and I will, so we'll be able to share pictures with her and tell her stories from when she was a toddler. 

Some of my blogging topics include:
Favorite Christmas Songs               Holiday Cocktails               Christmas Shopping Tips
Cookie Recipes               Christmas Tree Reveal               Christmas Candy

And of course, lots more! :)   

Enjoy what's left of your Sunday and be sure to stop back to check out the ideas I'll be sharing! 

In the meantime, check out our little Elizabeth as she adores our Christmas tree...


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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Confidence and Faith as a Mama

Clearly I'm doing a fantastic job coming back off my blogging hiatus and scheduling posts. Good grief! :) I swear I don't intentionally not blog, but life is just whipping by lately and I'm trying to soak up all the moments I can. 
Speaking of moments. 
I've had a few moments lately where my heart was bursting with love more than usual...
One was last week. My husband was attempting to put Elizabeth to bed (and he has great success doing so - in fact, he's in charge of bedtime routines including bath time and bottle). Well, baby girl just wasn't feeling it and instantly calmed down when I asked my husband to let me see if I can get her to calm down. Well, to my surprise, she was loving the mommy time. I admit, she's 100% daddy's girl. If both of us are in the room, 99.9% of the time, she's staring at daddy. Honestly, sometimes it breaks my heart. But this night, when all she wanted was me, my heart was so warm, so full. Once she was in her groove with drinking her milk, she stared into my eyes, pulled my head towards hers and held on to me until she fell asleep. I nearly burst into tears because it was one of those moments where time just stopped. I was quickly reminded of holding a newborn in my arms, having her look up at me with those beautiful eyes, and just having complete faith in me as a mama that I knew what I was doing. 
Did I know what I was doing?
Heck no. 
But you know what. Our sweet girl has turned out perfectly. More than perfect if you ask me. So as she laid there sleeping, I closed my eyes and reminded myself that although at times I second guess myself, I do have a pretty good handle on this motherhood thing. It's a learning curve. I've said that since day 1. Never once did I say I knew what I was doing. Never once did I have full confidence that I was a good mama. Never once did I think that I had the right answers. But what I did have was the ability to simply do the best I can do. 

And you know what? 
Our sweet baby girl is perfect in our eyes. She's always happy, always smiling, just a burst of sunshine all the time. She's smart and sassy. She loves her parents.
Too many times I hear of moms second guessing themselves, seeking guidance from other mommy friends (I always turn to my mommy friends for advice and I'm so thankful I have so many who are mama's), and afraid to make decisions because they aren't sure if it's the right one. Well, in the almost 14 months I've been a mama, the majority of my decisions have been the right one. It's not that there's anything wrong with second guessing ourselves. I just think that, and I for one admit I'm this way, I rely on seeking opinions before thinking the situation through and realizing that as a mama, I do know what to do. 
Last night, our sweet girl threw up during dinner (and I mean everything in her little body came up) and had a fever. This was the first time she had ever thrown up and I wasn't sure what to do. So I texted multiple mommy friends, called the pediatrician, texted my cousin, and called my mom. 
And guess what?
Every single person gave me different advice. 
So whose advice did I take? Well, bits and pieces of everyone's because everyone I asked was either a mama or a medical professional, so I trusted what they said.
Keep her home they said. 
Send her to school they said.
Let her sleep they said. 
Check her temp they said. 
It's almost like I had gotten too much advice by the end of the evening and I went to bed with my head spinning on what to do. 
So when I woke up at 2:30 with a stirring baby girl, I got up and checked her temp. I gave her Pedialyte, and I cuddled her until she fell asleep. 
And then I put my teacher hat on real quick. I thought to myself: "How many times do I get frustrated when a child throws up and the school nurse sends them back to the classroom?". Too many to count. I then thought to myself - "Okay, so pretend Elizabeth is at school and she's eating lunch. All of a sudden she starts throwing up and all she wants is mommy". Would I be there? No. I would have been at school. Decision made. I kept her home.
Did she throw up because she's sick? Who knows.
Did she throw up because I fed her too quickly so she could get to feeding herself the veggie and fruit pouch that she saw that I failed miserably at hiding? Probably.
But as a mama, it's my first job to be there for my sweet girl.
Did I miss a day at work? Yep.
Am I behind on a ton of work? Yep.
Did I have to reschedule my observation for this Thursday because now I wouldn't be ready? Sigh, yes. 
But staying at home with Elizabeth today was worth it.
She woke up this afternoon mid-nap crying. Crying hysterically. Crying so hard she was almost having a difficult time breathing. I held her in my arms. I whispered in her ear how much I love her. How much dada loves her. And that mama is here for her. As she fell asleep, I breathed a sigh of relief that I made the right decision to keep her home. 
So mama's out there who are second guessing yourselves: 
Have confidence.
 Have faith.
 Know that what you're doing is the right thing for your sweet baby. Your toddler. Your child.
Know that you have everything you need to be the best mama in the world. God wouldn't have made you a mama if he didn't think you could handle it. 
I know that this is easier said than done, especially in a moment when all you want is clarity and advice from other mama's. Mama's who you know are great. Mama's who you know do a beautiful job raising their baby. Mama's who you always turn to. 
Just remember that you too are a mama. And that you're just as good a mama as they are! :)
And to my mama friends out there - THANK YOU for being the #1 voices I turn to. I can't say how thankful I am to have so many mama friends who have nailed this mama thing. 
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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Update on Life Lately

Well hello there! 
Talk about a blogging hiatus - my last post was back on August 10th! I never intended to stop blogging for almost two months but when life happens and things get crazy, the priority of blogging just went out the window!
Life lately has been everything but calm, cool, and normal. Without me getting into writing the world's longest post on where I've been the past two months, let me give you a cliffnotes' version of it! 
Early August is when I returned back to work after a glorious two months of summer vacation. Prior to starting pre-planning, I had my 6-mo check up at the dermatologist and I ended up having two moles removed and biopsied. One came back completely normal but the other one, which just so happened to be on the bottom of my toe, came back precancerous. Let me tell you - having one on the bottom of your toe removed is painful. It sucks. And then to find out it's precancerous and more has to be removed. Plus it ended up almost infected, so I was driving back and forth to the dermatologist and wobbling around trying to keep the pressure off of my toe. After about 5 weeks, everything healed and I will be having more tissue removed in April.
April you say? Why such a long wait? 
Well, in-between dermatologist appointments, faculty meetings, and setting up my office/classroom, I learned that my husband and I are expecting our second baby! This baby was completely planned, but we were rather shocked with how quickly it happened. It took us seven months to conceive our daughter Elizabeth, so when we decided to being trying for a second, we figured it would take at least a few months. Nope! :) I think God knew how much we wanted a second baby right away, so we were very excited to find out we were expecting! We had a few hiccups early along - my HcG levels were really low, so I was actually sent to the hospital because my doctor thought I might be having a miscarriage, but after determining that I ovulated much later in my cycle and going through multiple rounds of repeat HcG panels, it was confirmed that we are indeed pregnant! 
We are due April 11th and I'm so excited for a spring baby! Plus this means that I won't be pregnant during the hot summer like I was last time! We had our 12-week checkup this past Friday and everything looks great! I was hoping for a cute ultrasound photo but baby bunny (baby #2's nickname) is actually laying on his or her tummy, so the picture looks quite odd! But, from what I read, it's perfectly normal for baby to be in this position since they have so much space to move around. We heard baby's heartbeat, which at the time was 148 and he or she even had the hiccups! My next OB appointment is October 26th, which will just be a routine appointment. My anatomy scan will be in November but we won't be finding out the gender - we want to be surprised! 
Oh yes, and in-between that exciting news, our daughter Elizabeth celebrated her first birthday! 
 Talk about an exciting, hectic, and wild couple of months! 
I'll be back sometime this week with a post about her birthday and will be sharing some of her first birthday photoshoot, but I wanted to just share with you all why I've been absent from the blogging world! 
It's actually 2am right now and I'm up with a horrible case of heartburn and we don't have anything in the house for me to take. Whoops. So basically I'm just sitting at the computer because when I lay down, I'm pretty sure I'm dying. I'll eventually do a first-trimester recap, but wow guys - no two pregnancies are the same. I barely felt pregnant with Elizabeth until almost the middle of the second trimester and with this sweet baby, I've had every pregnancy symptom and then some! Maybe baby bunny is a boy!?!?! Who knows! :) All I know is, we are very excited! 
Enjoy your Sunday and I'll be back soon with another update! 
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Monday, August 10, 2015

Make it Monday: Southwest Chicken Soup

I may live in Florida where it's 90+ degrees every day from April until October, but I absolutely love my crock pot. The possibilities are just endless with dinners you can make in a crock pot, so I always have great success when making up a recipe on a whim.
Over the weekend I was at Publix picking up soup and subs for dinner for my husband and I. Once I grabbed the terrible-for-you baked potato soup from the pot, I decided I wanted to make a healthier soup for dinner on Saturday. 
I walked up and down the aisles, just grabbing things that I thought would make a good "southwest" and "spicy" soup. Love me some spice! After walking around the store for a while, I knew I had everything I needed. When I got home, my husband was super excited about my idea. 
When late-morning rolled around on Saturday, I decided to start my newest recipe in the kitchen. I gathered all of the ingredients I purchased on Friday night and got chopping. This recipe is so easy-peasy and can easily be done any day of the week! It's even possible to pull this off before heading to work (well maybe if you don't have an almost-toddler at home who started school today). Insert frowny face emojis. 
Anyways, the recipe is delicious and I think you should check it out! 
Oh, quick tip: for less spice, just use a mild salsa! 
 Man is it waaaaay more fun to take food pictures
 with a nice DSLR camera!
Southwest Chicken Soup
1 pound chicken breasts (or cutlets)
1 bag frozen corn (I used Publix Organic Greenwise)
1 16oz jar of salsa (I used ChiChi's Medium)
1 can low-sodium black beans (I used Publix Organic Greenwise)
1 can Rotel no-salt added diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 28oz carton unsalted chicken cooking stock
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 white onion, diced 
black pepper
1. Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Makes for a much easier time washing! 
2. Chop red pepper and onion.
3. Combine all ingredients into a separate bowl. Stir, stir, stir! 
4. Place chicken breast into bottom of crock pot.
5. Carefully pour liquid over chicken. Sprinkle generously with black pepper and add a splash of salt. 
6. Cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 6-8.
7. With slotted spoon, remove chicken and shred on separate plate. Toss back into crock pot and stir. 
You can easily serve this with tortilla chips, top with shredded cheese and sour cream and maybe even some chives. We just had the soup with a side salad and it was delicious!
Let me know how you like it! 

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Favorites

Why hello weekend and good-bye ridiculously crazy week! 
Even if you're not in Tampa, I'm sure you heard about the insane amount of rain that fell Monday from about 5:30am and legit didn't stop until about 12:15pm. My neighborhood, which is north of the city of Tampa received about 8 inches of rain. 5 days later, or street is STILL flooded. My husband was actually at the airport waiting to get on a plane to Puerto Rico but it was delayed around six hours. I'm glad the rain eventually stopped but it was a SCARY, SCARY storm.
We also had our master shower retiled this week so JB and I were stuck at home for THREE days. Talk about going stir crazy!
But either way, it's Friday which means it's time for Friday Favorites!
1. My new camera
At the end of last summer, right before we had Elizabeth, I sold my Canon DSLR camera. With going on maternity leave, we needed the extra money and plus I never used it. While now that JB is almost walking, I can't ever get a good shot of her with my iPhone camera. I went to one of my most favorite electronic websites, I knew I'd find a good deal and boy-oh-boy did I! It came with everything I need to get started with taking better photographs! I've been trying to practice with the different settings but the lighting in our house is awful. So, hopefully this weekend I'll be able to take some good shots of Elizabeth with my new toy! 

2. Baby/Toddler Clothes
Although a little part of me gets sad when we have to pack up her clothes because our munchkin has grown, the level of cuteness in the clothes I come across is just out-of-control. This past weekend mama went on a back-to-school shopping spree for Elizabeth. I got SUCH good deals that I will be sharing on a special weekend post! But to keep you satisfied until then, just look at these adorable clothes!!! I scored MAJOR at Kohl's, Old Navy, and Children's Place. 

3. Our New Master Bathroom Shower
Oye. We had some issues this spring in our master bathroom and it led to a complete renovation. This week the tiles finally got replaced and I absolutely LOVE it. It's gorgeous! It took the contractor TWO full days to do it and wow did he do a phenomenal job! This weekend my husband and I will be picking out a vanity and painting! And by that I mean that I will point and say "yeah, I want THAT vanity" and "here's the paint color I chose". But my husband gets me and we're totally on the same page. 

4. Our Pretty Little Kitty
Face it. Cats are known for only wanting attention when THEY crave it. Mia is no exception to that. However, given that we have a very curious almost-toddler chasing her around the house, Mia has surrendered to Elizabeth. Mia just lays there for the most part and just lets Elizabeth touch her fur. Except today when Elizabeth grabbed her fur with a pretty good grip. Mia quickly ran out of the room but not before I was able to snap this adorable picture. 

I hope you all have a great weekend and have enjoyed reading about my Friday favorites! Now get out there and enjoy your weekend!!!

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Unfair Fear

As I was scrolling through my IG and FB feeds this morning, an alert from a local news station popped up on my phone. The subject line mentioned something about a movie theater shooting in Tennessee. My heart dropped. 
Why does this keep happening?
What is wrong with the people in our world?
Where have we, as a society, gone wrong?
Over the weekend my husband and I went on a date. We decided on dinner and a movie. Before we even got to the theater, I felt scared. Scared that something would happen. That there would me someone in the audience that had a gun and wanted to cause harm. Once we were inside, I asked my husband if we could sit at the very top (we never sit that high up) because I didn't want anyone behind me. Of course he agreed and we sat in the back row, right in the middle. 
As people entered the theater, I couldn't help but be cautious. Most people were with a significant other and there weren't any children in the theater because it was a movie not appropriate for them (we saw Vacation).
Right as the previews were about to start, a young man sat down about 6 seats from Shaun, in our row. I began to become worried. My first thoughts were "Why is a young man here alone? What if he has a gun? What if something happens?" Luckily my fears were eased when, who I believe to be his parents, sat down next to him.
Then it happened again. An older man sat down a few seats from me. He was by himself. I could feel myself tensing up again. Rest assured though, his significant other soon joined him and I felt a little better. 
I don't think this fear is fair. All of these stories about movie theater shootings are scary. They are upsetting. They make me feel like going out into public, whether it's a movie theater, a shopping mall, or a Target, is dangerous. That awful acts of violence are going to occur at any given moment.
Why do people feel such an immense amount of anger that they want to open fire and injure or kill? 
Why are innocent people targeted because someone is angry at the world?
Why, as a society, do these events keep occuring?
Between this and the stories about the violence at military offices, how are we as a society supposed to feel safe? How are we supposed to teach our children about treating others with kindness? With love? With compassion?
All of these incidents are causing unfair fear. Fear in mothers like myself who can't imagine exposing my daughter to the evil in people. Fear in families who don't leave the house because they are terrified something awful is going to happen. 
Back in June, I wrote a similar post after the massacre at the South Carolina church and both of these posts just break my heart.  

As a society, we have to be more kind.
We have to be more caring.
Showing good instead of evil.
Taking care of each other, not tearing people down. 
Maybe it starts with holding the door for the person behind you. 
Or not judging someone by their way of living. 
Maybe it starts with smiling at someone and not ignoring them.
Maybe it starts with realizing that it's up to us to make this country safer for our children. 
 We have to teach them right from wrong and good from bad. 

We don't have to get along with everyone, but this unfair fear I feel right now is an awful feeling. 

As a society, what can we do to help these troubled individuals? How can we stop these horrific acts of violence?
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Monday, August 3, 2015

Make it Monday: French Toast for Two

I don't know why, but lately I've been craving French Toast! It started when my parents arrived in Tampa last week but we never got around to making it for breakfast. So during a trip to Whole Foods on Friday with my dad, I bought a loaf of Brioche bread since I've heard it makes the best french toast. I knew I wouldn't be making it until Sunday morning and so I let the bread just sit on the counter (never use fresh bread for french toast!) until I was ready to make it.
Sunday morning I stumbled out of bed and immediately turned on the  Keurig coffee maker. My tummy was grumbling so I told my husband I was getting right to making breakfast. Since it's just my husband and I, I decided to whip together a smaller batch. Elizabeth is eating "regular" foods now, but I know brioche bread isn't the healthiest thing, so she wasn't offered any. Mean mama, I know. She was perfectly content with her yogurt and cheerios!
This recipe is so quick and easy and there aren't any leftovers (I'm not sure how good french toast is as leftovers... anyone ever give it a try? I suppose you could reheat in the toaster oven). 
So, grab a pen and paper, write down these ingredients and go grocery shopping! You won't regret making this recipe!
French Toast for Two
2 eggs
1 cup skim milk (I'm sure you could do almond milk instead)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar mixture
6 slices brioche bread, sliced thick 
2-3 tablespoons butter (I used Brumel and Brown yogurt butter) 
powdered sugar for dusting, if desired

1. In shallow bowl, whisk two eggs together and then add 1 cup skim milk. Stir to combine.
2. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar mixture (you can find this in the baking aisle at your local grocery store).
3. Whisk all ingredients together and make sure the cinnamon sugar is distributed evenly.
4. Preheat pan on medium heat and add about a tablespoon of butter, letting it melt and coat pan.
5. Place one piece of bread in egg mixture letting it soak in all the deliciousness. Carefully flip bread to coat the other side.
6. Place drenched piece of brioche bread onto hot pan. Repeat step 5 until pan is full of yummy bread.
7. Carefully watch bread and when it looks done to your liking, flip over to cook other side. Add a little bit more butter to your pan as your cooking. 
8. Drizzle with some syrup (and powdered sugar if desired) and enjoy! 

Next time I make this, I think I would serve with some fresh raspberries and blueberries and maybe even a blueberry syrup. 
What do you top your french toast with? Syrup? Fresh fruit? Whipped cream? Share your favorites! 
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Make it Monday: Guiltless Banana Walnut Muffins

Yesterday morning, I slowly stepped on the scale for my weekly weigh-in. To my happy surprise, I was down a little bit less than a pound. Woot woot. I don't know the last time I was 137, so I gleefully did a happy dance. 7 more pounds to go until my goal! :)

I plan on being really careful with eating this week. My parents are in town which means I'll probably be able to spend a lot of time at the gym this week and I'm very happy about that. 

One of the things I struggle with is breakfast. I'm a cereal-kind-of-girl, but lately I'm in a cereal rut. I've been searching out for other breakfast ideas that are quick, easy, and most importantly, healthy. I came across a recipe for muffins I made a few years ago and I plan on making them this week.

Tip: The uglier the banana, the better! :)

Guileless Banana Walnut Muffins (Makes 12)
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg (I suppose you could use 2 egg whites instead to make it even healthier)
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
chopped walnuts, optional

1. Mash bananas in a bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, stir, and then sit aside.
2. In another bowl, add your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Stir and then set aside.
3. In another bowl, add your bananas, applesauce, vanilla, egg, and sugar.  Beat with an electric mixer until it's all blended.
4. Add your flour mixture to the banana mixture and blend on low for about 30 seconds until well blended.
5. Pour mixture into muffin tin (I used paper baking cups) and sprinkle a few chopped walnuts over each muffin and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean!

I'll probably hold off on the walnuts on a muffin or two, that way Elizabeth can have a few bites and I won't have to worry about her being exposed to nuts.  

If you're not a fan of walnuts, add in some craisins, raisins, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate chips (because dark chocolate is healthy, right!??!), etc... The possibilities are endless! 
 Now the goal is to have just one, right?

Enjoy! :)
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Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Favorites

This was *such* a quick week! No surprise to me though - the last couple of weeks of summer vacation always seem to fly by. I have two more weeks of vacation before heading back to work to kick off the 2015-2016 school year. Until then, I'm on a mission to really enjoy what's left of summer! 

Last week I featured some of Elizabeth's favorites. I hope you all checked out those books and bought them for your little ones! They really are great!

This week I'm focusing on my summer favorites! 

1. Peach Green Tea Lemonade
All ingredients (including that cute summer cup) are from Target. I'd say it was about $7 or $8 total.

If you follow me on IG, you saw my copycat version of Starbucks delicious Peach Green Tea Lemonade. It's so delicious. Don't get me wrong. I love going to Starbucks and I still have a freebie awaiting me, but almost $4 for a refreshing drink adds up fast when you repeat several times a week. Basically you just need the Peach Green Tea concentrate (I use Tazo's version), some lemonade (Simply Balanced from Target), filtered water, and some ice cubes! I did equal parts of the concentrate and lemonade, added several splashes of water, and poured over ice! So tasty! So refreshing! So summer-y! 

2. Loft Elephant Shorts
I don't remember the cost! Sorry! 

Who knew that wearing animals was cool this summer. In late May I picked up this pair of shorts and I fell in love. My husband thought I was a bit odd, but with the right solid color t-shirt, it's the perfect summer look! 

3. Kate Spade Watch
$166.90, Nordstrom

Normally I don't shop at Nordstrom. Clearly I need to change my view on that! Somehow though, I'm on their mailing list and last weekend I received an e-mail about their Anniversary Sale. I quickly spotted a watch that I absolutely fell in love with. I had to have it. So, I batted my eyelashes and busted out the lower lip (cute puppy face style) and looked at my husband. Boy I sure am lucky because on Saturday afternoon, he agreed that he would buy it as an early anniversary present. (We celebrated three years this past Tuesday). I LOVE it. I pretty much stare at it all day. 

So those are some of my favorites for today! What are your Friday favorites?
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