September 30, 2014

Cream Cheese Banana Bread

Who doesn't enjoy banana bread?
Better yet, banana bread with a cream cheese ribbon?

I swear cream cheese makes everything better.

Anyway, banana bread is one of my favorite things to make. It is good for not only a quick breakfast, but a great snack or dessert. It is also probably my only way to get a serving of fruit.

Sad I know.

This has also been Kevin's favorite version of banana bread.
But sometimes it is hard to make my bread in my house because Kevin uses our bananas in smoothies before they can get ripe enough for me to make bread! (How healthy of him...)

I finally had three ripe bananas and went crazy!
And of course it has bananas in it so this is healthy right!??!



Ingredients:

Bread:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tablespoons of sour cream
1 cup flour
sugar to taste
cinnamon to taste

Cream Cheese Mixture:
8 oz of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon of flour
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 large tomato (chopped)

Directions:

Mix sugar, butter, and eggs. Mix together baking soda into sour cream and then add to mixture. Add in bananas, salt, and flour. Mix it all together.

Divide 1/2 of this mixture into pan. Note to everyone, I can't measure well so my bread never comes out pretty. Check Pinterest for better pictures.

Combine cream cheese mixture ingredients and spread over the mixture in the pan.

Spread remaining banana mixture over cream cheese layer.

Sprinkle the top with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. I don't measure, I go by the color for the cinnamon/sugar ratio. I love a light brown!

Then bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

Notes: If you don't eat the whole loaf, I recommend storing it in the fridge due to the cream cheese. However I prefer it room temperature. I have never gotten sick letting it sit out of the fridge to eat.

Makes 1 loaf or 2 mini loaves.

Adapted from Lil Luna

September 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Mom!

In honor of my mom's birthday yesterday, I have ten, of the many, things she has taught me over the years:

1. There's no such thing as over-decorating your house for a holiday.
2. Never leave the house without your nails painted and earrings in your ears.
3. Invest money into your home. Where you spend your time, where you grow.
4. Never buy cheap paper towels or cheap toilet paper.
5. Monograms and classic lines will never go out of style.
6. I have learned all about logic: "Because I said so, that's why!"
7. I also learned about genetics: "You're just like your father."
8. Always wear sunscreen. Don't forget the sunscreen on your hands!
9. Eat right and exercise.
10. Keep care of your husband. Honor him.

Happy birthday Mom!!
Happy Birthday Quotes For Ur Mom  Birthday Sayings For Mom  Buzzle

Mom,

Another birthday and I wish I was there to celebrate with you. I don't have all the money right now to buy you all the material things I wish I could give to you, so my words will have to be enough. 

I feel closer to you these days than ever before. Some women are reluctant to become like their mothers, but that is all I could ever wish for. You define resilience. You've fought through Hell and back without complaining or giving up. You love so fiercely. You always make an effort to understand the things you don't, and that is what makes a person intelligent. You're so beautiful and if I'm half as pretty as you at your age, Kevin will be a lucky, lucky man. 

You're so sensible and compassionate. I've always admired your conviction.

When you say that you're proud of me, it means more than anything anyone could ever say. I am so incredibly proud to be your daughter and I can't wait to realize more of you in myself as I grow older. 

Thank you for everything you've done for me and our family. I hope I can return the favor in my adult life.

Have such a wonderful day! I love you!

xo Lauren

September 26, 2014

Sisterly Advice

Happy Birthday Tess! On Saturday you turn 23! 
Of course, me as your older sister, I have more wisdom (and more wrinkles but who is counting) and therefore I thought I would give you 23 pieces of advice.

About to get all serious.
Take it or leave it.

one || Do something you love each day. No matter big or small.

two || Keep your sense of humor always.

three || Remember the golden rule.

four || Don't be pushed by your problems. Be lead by your dreams.

five || Sometimes being the bigger person means doing the smallest thing.

six || Don't confuse contentment for settling.

seven || Kill em with kindness.

eight || Wear moisturizer.

nine || You are as strong as you allow yourself to be.

ten || Drink lots of water.

eleven || Don't forget your roots. Literally and figuratively speaking.

twelve || Be your own hero.

thirteen || Sometimes you have to just let it go and see what happens.

fourteen || Find your happy. (At a price that makes you HomeGoods happy)

fifteen || Spend your money where you want it.

sixteen || Text your sister Lauren more often.

seventeen || You always have a home with your parents and your sisters. Many homes.

eighteen || See a doctor annually.

nineteen || You are strong.

twenty || Hard work pays off.

twenty one || You don't know their whole story, be willing to listen.

twenty two || Be who you are, not what the world wants you to be.

twenty three || Enjoy another year!

That got way more serious than I intended it to.
I guess I have always been the serious one and Tess the funny one.
Whatever. Happy Birthday Tess! 

September 24, 2014

The Classic Margarita

There is really only one margarita recipe you need.
And here it is.

And you can try it in an attempt to hang onto summer as much as possible.
Or to celebrate Mexican Independence Day (which was Sept 16, not May 5, contrary to popular belief.)

Anyway, in the southwest, we do a margarita year round.
On the patio.
With chips and guacamole.
Especially when you get to look at a sunset like this:

My husband makes these best.
You can use gold or silver tequila with this recipe. That is the great part about this one.
I prefer to use silver if it is strained and gold if it is frozen.

Enjoy!


September 23, 2014

Frito Pie

Frito pie is the perfect weeknight quick and easy meal. You can use leftover chili from a warm football weekend, or buy some canned chili. Either way, it is a quick assembling of three ingredients that make for a super delicious meal!

You start with a layer of Fritos chips on the bottom of a dish (I actually use my pie dish) and then you layer on the chili and a mixture of cheeses. I like to use a blend of mostly cheddar cheese for the flavor and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese for the melty (I don't think melty is a word but eh...), stringy goodness.


Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Remove from the oven and serve with a perfect dollop of sour cream! Yum!

How simple is that?!? I know there are a ton of recipes with two ingredients. Maybe I will start a new trend of recipes made with three ingredients. My mom always told me in design you do things in odd numbers....like three and five. It just looks better. 

I crown thee food designer. #threeingredients #nomeasurements

Maybe I shouldn't blog when I am tired. Things just got weird.
Also pictures are bad.

Goodnight!

September 22, 2014

A Note About Starting College...

My youngest sister is now in her first year of college. I feel so nostalgic, but it is so fast how that happened!
Now as the older sister, I am obligated to give her some advice whether she wants it or not.
This pretty much applies to any first year college student.

Here goes...

Never skip a class two days in a row, that’s all it takes.

Go on spring break. Convince mom you are not going to die, tell dad there will be adults there. I guess mom and dad have eased up since me...

Put in an effort to make it to every home football game; you only get 4 years to experience the student section, after that you’re just a regular old fan. I know the team sucks but it is still an experience.

It’s always better to sleep a few hours and blow off a chapter then pull an all-nighter and be brain dead when you take the test.

Expect the walk to class to be a haul. Prepare accordingly.

Keep a picture of your family in your room.

You’re absolutely going to gain some weight. Dorm food, cheap liquor and 12 hour Netflix binges have a tendency to do that, don’t be surprised.

Don’t pose with booze. Everyone knows your drinking, it’s college.

Know how to properly ignore the people handing out flyers. A fake phone call usually does the trick.

Don’t get a false sense of security on campus at night, bad things can still happen.

Don’t be the reason your group does poorly on a project. Pull your weight plus a little extra.

Turn your cell phone on silent before every class.

Start behaving like an adult. This means making your own appointments, taking yourself to the doctor, emailing people in a professional manner, it takes practice so start now.

Take pictures of everything.

When you get in trouble and have to call your parents, be brave and just call me or Tess instead.

Keep up with your room key. They’re expensive when you lose them and you are already paying enough to go to school.

Be kind always. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle. Also, people are just plain crazy.

Keep your phone charged.

People are going to be better than you, smarter than you, faster than you, funnier than you, and better looking than you. Work harder.

Acting like you “don’t care” is not cool anymore, start giving a shit.

Make goals for the day, week, month, year, and entire college career. It’ll help when you get lost along the way.

Just go ahead and order the pizza. You deserve it.


What other advice do you have for someone starting college?

September 19, 2014

Flank Steak

If anything runs in my blood, it is red meat. 
My dad instilled that into my sisters and I from the beginning.
Nights grilling out were pinnacle to our summer.

Dad always made sure the recipes were as simple as possible. It was the cut and the time on the grill that had to be precise. I think I knew how to make an edible steak at age ten but to this day I still can't sew.

You win some, you lose some I guess...

So after all these years, I have used by baseline steak knowledge and have tried many creative avenues. Flank Steak is the only one where the marinade is ALMOST more crucial than the grill time. 

Flank steak obviously isn't the best cut of steak (haha funny article about that here), but another pearl of knowledge my dad gave us girls: Waste not, want not.



Ingredients:

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 cup soy sauce
lime juice
cilantro to taste
2 tsp brown sugar
2 lbs flank steak
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients in bowl until smooth. Place flank steak into ziplock bag and add all the mixed marinade.

Let marinade sit for at least 4 hours in the fridge or overnight if possible.

Take steak out and dispose of left over marinade.

Grill for 1-3 minutes each side.

Serve and enjoy immediately! Pair with a beautiful bottle of red wine and you my friends have yourself an evening!!

September 18, 2014

Striking the Balance

I have written a lot about balance here and here on the good ol blog.
Right now. I am truly happy. 

I think I am almost at the right amount of balance for my life right now. I have a job I love, a steady and decent paycheck, stimulating hobbies, a social life, and my husband.


My job is one I never thought I would have before. It is more of the same of what I was doing before, but much harder. I love what I do, I love helping people, I love connecting people to resources. I am so thankful for my position. I have had to adjust to a position in which I put in overtime every week; with an increased volume of crisis situations, it has really taken a toll on my wellness. I am slowly working on that. It took a while for me to adjust since when I first started, I would get home and be so tired, feel like it's already night time and just get ready for bed. No blogging, no social times. I felt like I need to spend as much time possible winding down and re-energizing for the next day.

Will balance ever be totally achieved? Probably not, but happiness, that can be achieved.


We all owe ourselves happiness. You know what else I owe myself? Brunch with the girls. Going out for drinks after work. Date night. Just because I leave work when it's dark outside doesn't mean I can't go play for a few hours and enjoy the company of good friends. Kevin sees me in scrubs or PJs all the time. I want to get all dressed up and go out to dinner! So I have to find a way to fit that in. Right now I am doing a better job of that and I couldn't be happier!


Do you have any master time management tips? 
What are you focusing on to contribute to your happiness?


September 17, 2014

Dear Annoying People,

I have been pretty happy go lucky these past couple of posts.
 Here comes the cynical side of Lauren for ya!

Dear Annoying Drivers of the world, Just a few tips to make life easier on the rest of us:

If you have your blinker on, turn it off once it’s fulfilled its purpose. We get that you might turn again eventually, but for now you're all set.

On that note, turn right on red. I think you will try it and it will be liberating.
seriously, some people just should not drive
via

Light snow or rain in the Southwest region of the United States, does not equal death, if you happen to drive on the "snow" at a normal speed rate you may actually get somewhere in a timely manner and probably will do so safely.

Right lane= slow drivers. Left lane= faster drivers. SIMPLE.


Dear Annoying Pedestrians of the world, Just a few tips to make life easier on the rest of us:

This is really going to blow your mind, but when I am going to cross the street and have already pushed the button to cross, there is no need to push it again fellow pedestrian. Shocking, I know.

Why are you walking so closely behind me? Just why? Just DON'T. 


Dear Annoying People of the world, Just a few tips to make life easier on the rest of us:

I thought people stopped asking this, but then I went grocery shopping on Sunday...
.
via

When you’re done microwaving something, go ahead and press “clear.” CLEAR. I don’t need to see how much time you didn't use. (cough cough KEVIN)

Along these same lines, guys, please put the toilet seat down. Just do it. Don’t explain to us how annoying it is. You know what is annoying? Cleaning your pee off the toilet...


Can we have just one day on Facebook without inspirational quotes? Just one day without having to read about why today is going to be such a great day because we have been given the power to lift ourselves up and blah blah blah.
SO TRUE
via
Sorry that your blatant attention-seeking facebook status didn't receive a single comment.
via
If you would like to show me your amazing new tattoo, please do not be offended when I judge what you have deemed amazing enough to put on your body. No offense to tattoos, but some are way cooler than others.
haha Idk why I found this so funny lol
via

Unfortunately, this list could go on too long today so I’ll stop now. Now go have a wonderful day because today is a new day full of new opportunities and life is short and possibilities are endless and sunshine and sprinkles and cupcakes and cake.

September 16, 2014

My Favorite Things About Amazon

If I haven't made it clear here, I love Amazon. It really is one of my favorite places to go online and shop. My husband is an even bigger fan. There are a couple of great programs that Amazon that you should be trying! The best part is signing up with all of these or one of these will get you free shipping!



Amazon Student
Try a free Trial here! With your yearly subscription you also get one free Kindle book rental per month, access to movies and TV episodes, music streaming, and the best thing is FREE TWO DAY SHIPPING! Yeah! All you need is your valid .edu email address. You can also save on school necessities for the first six months!

Amazon Prime
All of the perks of Amazon Student for those of us who are not longer students! Start your Free Trial Now!  
Amazon Mom
Amazon Mom is free and you get the same free shipping with deals and subscriptions for diapers and wipes and such. All those things you mommas out there need.

Registries
Weddings and babies alike are all ready for you to register for your needs there! I did one for my wedding and one day my baby will get the same!

Shop Amazon - Create an Amazon Wedding Registry
Shop Amazon - Create an Amazon Baby Registry

Amazon Smile
This is my newest and most favorite one so far. You can support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop. Shopping and giving back. Two of the best things to do! Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to your organization of your choice. There are a lot of organizations to choose from! Some of my faves:

The Ronald McDonald House (which ever is close/local to you)
Pulmonary Hypertension
Leukemia Lymphoma Society


This house was critical to my family during a very hard time and to many other families during hard times. An amazing charity!

Do you use any or have used any of these great services Amazon offers?

September 15, 2014

Life is More Than a Weekend

What has Lauren been up to you ask?
She has been kept busy.


She finally got to hang out with her friend Brittany.
She finally got to go shopping.
She unfortunately kept eating...bleh this weight!
She went to TWO baby showers.
She worked a lot but at least it rained while she was at work.


She rode her brand new bike.
She enjoyed the Broncos going 2-0.
She continues to play Fantasy Football.
She finally got a much needed haircut.
She got a pedicure.


That is all on this front. Where is this year going?! 
I swear it will be Christmas before we know it!

September 12, 2014

How to be Awesome at Fantasy Football

I plan to be super awesome this year at fantasy football this year.
Just saying.
Do you want to be the winner in your league this year?
Is this your first time playing in a league?
Does anyone watch The League? ;-)

Well here is the guide for all of that!

Learn all of the rules to your league. Are there unlimited trades? Are there rules associated with trades? How many of the different positions can you have? How are ties dealt with? Do you have a salary cap? (If you answered yes to the salary cap, then get out of that league! haha!)

Be creative is all I can say. My friends never fail to come up with some pretty awesome names. In my league, at the end of the season, the winner's name goes on the trophy. It better be a name you are proud of. (Note you can technically change it as often as you would like.)

Don't just draft your team and let it sit. There is nothing worse than playing someone who has bye players or hurt players in. Make it competitive and fun! The more you check in through the season the more all in good fun trash talk you can partake in!

Even if you have money riding on it, it is a game! So enjoy! Laugh during the ups and downs! It is all in good fun! My husband as I mentioned earlier, gave my team an F. I came up with two theme songs:






What are some of your tips for an awesome fantasy football season?


September 11, 2014

Today we Remember

We gather again to remember again the fateful day where many Americans left us. 
Most of us still remember where we were that Tuesday morning when the sky was blue and the TV came on to alert us of a terrorist attack. 

There is a lot going on in the world right now and personally I think that a lot of insanity is going on politically. But never the less, I hope we remember what truly counts as a nation. Never Forget became the mantra after September 11, 2001 and I hope Americans remember that each and everyday. 
We'll always remember...

Remember what you saw that was good and not bad. 
We saw people come together to help rebuild.
We became more aware of differences but at the same time committed to understanding each other.
We saw a renewed sense of patriotism and commitment to democracy.
We saw people survive, thrive, focus on the future, doing small everyday acts that were heroic without expecting a thank you...

All of these are things we need to carry on with and not just on September 11. Never Forget should not be a mantra we only use on September 11 when the calender says Patriots Day. Coming together and surrounding each other with love, kindness, goodwill, and patriotism are crucial in this time.

In the name of Never Forget and all it represents September is a month were I remember the time where people came together for me and my family. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. When my sister was 5 she was diagnosed with ALL and life turned around for my family. My parents and sister and especially my sister who was diagnosed. The strength, determination, kindness, and love that we brought together to fight and people helped bring to us showed what it means to be an American in a way. We are so lucky to be Americans. I am proud to be an American. 
september childhood cancer awareness month quotes - Google Search

Today I Never Forget.


September 10, 2014

Bell Pepper Nachos

So like I mentioned last Tuesday I have been trying eat healthier. Lower carb options are when I see some weight loss. 

So the other day I was craving some nachos. I mean we are entering football season guys! Nachos are pretty much the food of football Gods. But I wanted to do it without the carbs. Enter bell peppers!

I have a lot of spices in this recipe but you can also use taco seasoning to substitute all of them. 
I also use ground beef, but you could use the same spices and use chicken too!

So many options for these nachos!

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cups of hamburger meat
1 cup of salsa
1 pound of mini or chopped bell peppers
1/2 large tomato (chopped) (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro (optional)
1 1/2 cups of cheese (I use a blend of mozzarella and cheddar) (Not optional!)

Directions:

Heat a non stick skillet and brown your hamburger meat and add garlic, onion, crushed red pepper, oregano, and cumin. Drain and remove from heat and add in salsa.

Place your cut peppers as flat as possible and arrange close together in a single layer in a pyrex dish.

Spoon the hamburger mixture evenly over the peppers and top with cheese. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and add cilantro, tomatoes, or whatever you want...green onions, black beans, etc...the list goes on!!

Then enjoy! You won't miss the taste or carbs of those damn chips! (Well a little but I promise, this is pretty damn good!)

September 9, 2014

My Guy Doesn't Understand Blogging

I talked about Fantasy Football yesterday. That is very much something my husband loves and understands. There are many people out there though that do not understand fantasy football at all. It happens. But even after years blogging, I realized my husband doesn't understand blogging. 

Here is what he doesn't understand. (Note. He is a very smart, handsome, amazing man.)
And what probably other men including yours may not understand....

Blogging is a hobby. A time-consuming, deep hobby
I started this blog when I was without job. Kevin then recommended that I get a hobby. I told him I have my blog. He didn't get it. I don't think that is what he had in mind....

Blogging means more time on the computer
Yes, I will be on the computer a lot more than I was in the past. But unlike when I was just aimlessly Facebook stalking, blogging consists of a lot of writing, reading, responding, and interacting. More than 50% of blogging is interacting with your readers and reading/commenting on the blogs you follow.

Blogging = more pictures
Everyone knows that the quality of the blog post is directly related to the number of quality pictures in said blog post, right? :-) So when I ask Kevin to take a picture of me doing something, he had to learn not to question. Just smile and say "okay honey". Although to be fair, I kinda gave up on him taking pictures of me. They are never good...Oh and pretend like you don't notice when I take pictures of my food. Oh and don't ask me "are you going to blog about this?" Because yes, yes I am.

Yes, we really are friends with people we don't know 
One thing Kevin can't seem to get through his mind is, no, it's not weird that we sit around all day and read about the lives of people we don't know. The blogging community is the one place where I can open up about anything my heart desires and my blog friends will be there.

I will say, Kevin is so much better now about understanding blogging than he was when I first started. Either that, or he's just learned to keep his mouth shut about it. But it has taken some adjusting (on both of our parts) as to when I'm on the computer and when I'm not...because we both believe quality time with each other is important.

What are some things your boyfriend/husband doesn't understand about blogging and all that it entails?

September 8, 2014

Fantasy Football, Football Fantasy

My husband is the commissioner in both of my fantasy leagues (One family league, one friends league) and I am sad to say sleeping with him gets me nothing....

Heck after we drafted in our friends league, he used "metrics" to come up with our draft report card.
He gave me an F!

And when he says he doesn't want an ottoman in our house, that is because first place gets a really freaking sweet trophy (Remind me to show you guys a picture of it when I win!) and last place gets the ugliest (who knows where it has been) ottoman.

He used his same metrics in our family league. I was the bottom there too.
I am on a mission to prove him wrong!

Anyway, with the opening weekend behind us, I am okay to say that I am in a super tight race. I of course would rather be far ahead of my opponent...but sometimes that doesn't happen...DENVER.

Boy that game gave me some anxiety!  Hopefully like Denver after tonight's games I WIN.
I'll leave you with the fantasy football rap that takes the cake!


Are you playing fantasy football?
How many leagues are you in?
How is the season outlook for you?

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