January 29, 2016

Peanut Butter Pie

Does everyone like peanut butter or is it just me? I think peanut butter in any recipe tastes well. At work the other week, we had a pie contest. Everyone was to make a pie and taste tests would occur to pick the winner.

So here I am after a 13 hour nursing shift thinking about what pie I should make. Mind you, I work the next morning again, so what is a girl to do?

Make the easiest pie in the world. And of course that tastes good, so hello...peanut butter!

Oh and mine had the most votes for favorite, but they gave the prize to second place according to my boss...I have no idea why, but thankfully I didn't put too much effort into this contest.

And I don't know if I'll participate again. If you win, you win right? Maybe I am more competitive than I thought...

Anyway, enjoy this recipe. And hey, Valentine's Day is coming up. This is such an easy recipe I could probably even nudge the hubby to whip this up for us for dessert! You may want to do the same!



Ingredients:

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 container (8 ounces) of Cool Whip
1 graham cracker crust

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and cool whip until smooth.

Spread mixture evenly over crust and store in the fridge.

Then enjoy when cool! You could sprinkle chopped Reese's peanut butter cups on top if you want it to be extra decadent.

January 27, 2016

A Surprise

Well, he did it! Kevin graduated with his masters degree! I am so happy for him. He didn't want to walk or have any big deal made for his graduation. So I respected his decision. It was a very busy holiday season and we celebrated by going out to a fancy pants restaurant. It was nice. He also became a master the day Star Wars came out, which I think he planned. ;-)

Never the less, it has been a month and I feel like now I get my way and we CELEBRATE.
I came up with invitations and invited everyone to a surprise party. This was my first time hosting a surprise party. Thankfully we have such great family and friends that a lot of people made the trip...and BOY was he surprised!

Thank you so much to my great friends and family who kept this a secret and helped me out. This party was really a group effort!

I didn't get a lot of pictures. Enlist someone not you to take some pictures is what I suggest. I wanted to be in the moment...and I was. Just now, with not a lot of pictures. Here are a couple of party details though!




We did a spread of wine, beers, cokes, brats, burgers, salads, nibbles, and desserts. It was pretty great!




Then the next day his family stayed and we all watched the Broncos win!


And now we are ready to watch them win the Super Bowl!


Congrats Kevin!

January 25, 2016

Bedroom Design

After a long hiatus of design stuff here on the blog, I showed you guys my office space. This is a space I would love to redo with some white desks, but I think that won't happen for a while. Now I am back today to share with you the master bedroom.


I have always thought that good spaces take time. Finding all the right pieces for each room, takes time. My master bedroom actually came together very fast. Now while I don't think it is perfect (I already want new bedding) It is a room I love to be in. 

I see a lot of really neutral bedrooms these days. I love them. It makes the bedroom exude calm and sophistication. However, I decided to go another way with the room after finding two beautiful canvases at my local HomeGoods.

I love the statement that a super-bold art makes. I noticed quickly, that there was a problem  I needed to avoid: I was weighting down one side of the room with saturated color. So then you have to incorporate a colored piece like a vase on the other side of the room.


My husband gives me free reign when decorating our home, but thankfully he loves our shared space too! 


What are some of your favorite ways to add color in your design?

January 22, 2016

Not a Productive Week

Some weeks we can really kick some butt. We do everything on our to-do list (and then some). Those are the weeks when we feel like superheroes, like anything is possible, and like we have this whole life thing down to a T.

But then there are the weeks when everything feels like it takes way longer than usual. These are weeks the unexpected comes up and productivity goes completely out of the window. We end the week feeling mad/dumbfounded for not achieving everything we set out to do.

I am currently coming to the end of one of those weeks. This week just wasn’t one of my best. And you know what? They happen. We can’t be superheroes every week...I wish we could.

If you are coming to the end of a not so productive week too, I want to remind us both that it is okay. They happen,. These weeks do not mean that we are not capable of being the best we can be. Just accept this week for what it was and know you will move on next week.

So Monday morning, wake up and give it 100%. We need to promise ourselves that we will not feel like this again a week from now. So I will face next week head on. I will keep my head up and my spirits high.

My secret is to use Sunday to prep. This way I will take the time I need to give Monday a running start and the week will be far more doable.

So here is to us all having a good week next week!


Have a good weekend!

January 20, 2016

Overnight Pumpkin French Toast

Growing up, I grew up around a lot of agriculture. I understood that rain was not always really a great thing. Enter this fall when I read that rains in Illinois hurt the canned pumpkin crops and there could be a shortage.

Well, little Lauren stocked up on pumpkin. Then Lauren had more than enough pumpkin. Then Lauren was hungry for breakfast and was hosting family over.

Lauren made overnight pumpkin french toast.
And it was GREAT!

True to my southwest routes, I used bolillo rolls which is a savory Mexican take on French Bread. It was pretty perfect! I am sure you could use any bread you wanted that you can tear into cubes.




Ingredients:

Mixture:
3/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 package of bolillo rolls, cubed

Topping:
1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of butter (cold)
1/4 cup of pecan pieces
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar

Filling:
1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of butter
1/4 cup of pecan pieces
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar

Directions:

Mix ingredients in bowl for mixture. In another bowl, mix ingredients for filling.

Place a layer of bread cubes in a baking dish then pour mixture in. Then pour filling in and agitate slightly to somewhat mix. Cover and place in the fridge overnight or a couple of hours.

Wake up in the morning and make the crumb topping by using your fingers to mix the ingredients into course crumbs. Sprinkle over bread cubes.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


And enjoy an easy, crowd pleasing breakfast!
What is your favorite breakfast to make for company?

January 18, 2016

Jalapeno Chicken Sliders

Oh. My. Gosh.

This weekend was a fun and crazy one and I can't wait to share some details with you. Currently I am needing LOTS of sleep so I will keep this short and sweet.

Part of the reason this weekend was so great was that the BRONCOS WON!

Super Bowl bound baby!! And I have the perfect recipe for Super Bowl Sunday (Or really any day, I am not picky about when I make these.)

The beauty with these is that you can make them as hot or as not hot as you want depending on how many jalapenos you add. For this recipe, I use three and it is NOT very hot.



Ingredients:

2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
3 large jalapeno peppers, diced
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup of sour cream
2 cups of shredded chicken
1 cup of cheddar cheese
slider rolls

Directions:

In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and sautee jalapeno for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic powder and cook for 30 seconds-1 minute.

Reduce to low heat and add cream cheese. Stir until mixed and add sour cream. Then add chicken and shredded cheese. Remove from heat.

Add mixture to rolls and serve!

Who are you cheering for in the playoffs?

January 15, 2016

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Ugh. So I should probably disclose that I am trying to cut my carb intake right now. That being said, I started after Christmas because when I think Christmas, I think cinnamon rolls. And homemade cinnamon rolls are just the best. 

Sure they are a lot of work, but using a bread maker does help. And trust me, once all is said and done and you are eating, it is worth it.

Here is a great and (as easy as it can be) recipe for amazing homemade cinnamon rolls!



Ingredients:

Dough:
1 cup of warm milk (110 degrees)*
2 eggs
1/3 cup of margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons of bread machine/Instant yeast**

Middle Goodness:
1 cup of brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1/3 cup of butter, softened

Frosting:
3 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon of salt


Directions:

Place all your ingredients for dough into the pan of the bread machine. Select the dough cycle and press start.

After the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured surface. Cover it (I use a dishtowel) for 10 minutes. In the mean time, in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Then roll dough into about a 16x21 rectangle. Spread the dough surface with the 1/3 cup of butter and then sprinkle the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture on it.

Roll up the dough and then cut into rolls.***

Place rolls into a lightly greased 9x13 inch pyrex dish and cover again with that dish towel for 30 minutes. Then preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake rolls for about 15 minutes until golden brown. While the rolls are baking, mix together all ingredients for frosting. Spread frosting on warm rolls and serve. It was a lot of work, but it is SO worth it!


Bakers Notes:

Please note that I am not an expert and there are people who know better than me out there, but here is what I have figured out:

*I use an infrared thermometer a lot in my kitchen...

**Instant/Bread Machine Yeast seems easier for me to use. It is a finer granule than Active Dry Yeast and therefore you do not need water to activate/proof it. You can just mix Instant/Bread Machine Yeast with your dry ingredients. Since I am learning through a bread machine to bake, I chose to learn the Instant Yeast game. I don't ever use active dry yeast because I am not fancy enough to taste differences and figure knowing how to use it makes all my recipes easier. I guess if a recipe I used called for active dry yeast for a good reason, I would use it.

***This made about 12 rolls. To cut, I used dental floss. Works great!!



Adapted from here.


Anyone know how to make yummy carb-less cinnamon rolls?
I would like some this morning....

January 13, 2016

Untraditional Weekends

For me as a nurse, I don't always get weekends off. My weekend may be a Wednesday and a Thursday or a Monday and a Friday. This gives me a fair bit of time off by myself. A lot of the time I find myself just staying in the house, being lazy, not really accomplishing anything. I found that this was not the best way to spend my time. Since this self realization, I have been going out and doing and enjoying MY weekends.




And Arizona in the winter is a pretty great place to explore!
I have also started using these days to work out and meal plan. Here is to a great rest of the year having fun on my days off! Let me also just say that I am so happy not to be a night nurse...because that is hard to plan and schedule days off productively!


How do you spend your days off?
Do you have an unconventional schedule?

January 11, 2016

Pork Tenderloin

So for Christmas this year I told you that I had two Christmases both not on Christmas.  For my parents I decided to make an easy peasy pork tenderloin. Why so easy you ask? Well because it really takes no time at all. 

As I made my tenderloin this year, I realized that I didn't know much of what to do. I have all my meaty knowledge from my dad. Mind you, he is a man of very little words but thankfully it was a Christmas dinner that he was at, so I asked him what I should do. He said "make it Italian." Okay dad...

Then it hit me. Garlic and Rosemary.

And then I also realized. Boy, I really like putting garlic and rosemary on a lot of my big dishes.
For example my Thanksgiving Turkey.
My Garlic Roasted Prime Rib (switched rosemary for thyme)

But anyway another lesson I learned from my dad is how to get the smell of garlic off of your hands. There are many ways out there, using coffee, using salt and lemon, using mouthwash, using baking soda, but the way I learned from my dad is stainless steel! You rub your fingers on something made of stainless steal. I like using a spoon. Helps to better get into the nooks and crannies of my hands.

Anyway, life lesson solved, here is the recipe for an easy any yummy pork dish. How yummy you ask? Well, my mom doesn't read my blog and wanted this recipe. I told her I would put it on the blog. She replied: text me when you do.

So there you have it folks, a mama approved recipe.
Oh and my dad...he asked for the leftovers.

Ingredients:

1 large pork tenderloin
3 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Directions:

Mix together garlic, salt, rosemary, pepper, and olive oil in a bowl. Slather over the pork tenderloin and wrap (see my wrap technique here for no drips!) After it is wrapped, place in the fridge until ready to cook (4-6 hours if possible)

Take tenderloin out of the fridge and cut into 1 inch pieces. Heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and pan fry tenderloin about 3-5 minutes on each side.

Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy stuffing your face!


Now being the "great" blogger I am, I did not take a picture of my tenderloin. Oops?! Could have sworn that I did! Since I can't have a post without pictures, here are some pictures from my Christmas.





January 8, 2016

How to Eat Less Chocolate

This year, one of my goals is to lose weight. It seems like that is a goal on everyone's mind around this time of year. I personally never keep it. This year, I am determined to make it the year of me and succeed in what I want.


Chocolate is my downfall. Everyone around me knows it. Heck, if you read this blog, I am sure you know it. I flat out love chocolate. That is a problem for me. I used to justify eating lots of chocolate by saying that it wasn't as bad as other people's bad habits...(ie. smoking can give you cancer etc...) But this year I am taking a different approach to chocolate. I am not cutting it out. I don't think I ever could, but I am treating it as a treat.

I know it is addictive to me. I know that if I tell myself I can't indulge, I will want it even more and become that true addict hiding a massive addiction of 50 reeses wrappers in my closet. I don't want to be that girl.

So therefore, my attitude will be one of willpower and healthy living. I will turn chocolate from a habit into a treat. That was what it is supposed to be all along. Say I stayed on my workout routine for 2 weeks straight? A peppermint patty may be what I have. I had a bad day and all I can think about is chocolate? Fine, I get one piece and that is it. 

If I keep eating chocolate regularly and not like I outlined above, then it is not a treat anymore. It is a regular habit. Treats are meant to be treats and not habits. This goes the same for other "bad habits." Having pizza shouldn't be a regular occurrence for a healthy, balanced diet. If you like alcohol, a glass every night is a routine not a treat. 

Bottom line to this post taking away some really yummy things out of your routine: Treat yourself. With the true meaning of treat.

Chocolate, you can stay. Just in a limited capacity.


What is your favorite unhealthy treat?
How do you curb your sweet tooth?

January 6, 2016

Garlic Roasted Prime Rib and Creamy Mashed Potatoes

So for Christmas this year I told you that I had two Christmases both not on Christmas. For my in-laws I made a great prime rib. Basically the most perfect dish to serve for your Christmas dinner.

Now it can be scary to do a roast like this. It is an expensive cut of meat so the thought of ruining it is reason to avoid it, but I have a great way to take that fear away. Think of this page as a chef holding your hand in the kitchen. Note, this is for a medium rare roast.


Exact directions are below in one easy place. I am not a fan of some food blogs that have instructions a million miles of page long. I don't like having to scroll for ages when my hands are in the thick of it. I want to know what to do and when to do it as concisely has possible. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (about) 4.5 pound boneless rib roast
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:

Prepare the roast the night before by mixing minced garlic, olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and thyme.

Place plastic wrap down in a cross. One piece vertically and one horizontally. Place your roast in the middle and slather the whole roast with garlic mixture. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight (or as long as you can if you can't prep the day before.

One hour before roasting, take the roast out of the fridge and unwrap. This helps the roast get to room temperature. After one hour, place roast in roasting pan and roast!

Preheat the oven to 450. Roast the meat for 15-20 minutes and then reduce the temp to 325 and continue roasting for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

I would recommend using a meat thermometer to make sure that the internal temperature of the meat is 120-125. Your roast will go about 10 degrees above that sitting on the counter because it is still roasting inside with all that heat. So let it sit for about 15 minutes after. Then enjoy.



_________________________________________________________________________________



Oh and because I like you guys, here is a bonus recipe. I served this with my creamy mashed potatoes that are always a hit!




Ingredients:

2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of butter

Directions:

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender but still firm. Then drain.

Melt together in a saucepan the milk and butter. Beat potatoes adding milk and butter mixture until smooth. Add some salt and pepper as needed. Adapted from here.



What "fancy" food do you like cooking?



January 4, 2016

2015 Year in Review

Well guys, there goes another year! For me this one was fast and slow, good and bittersweet, productive and not productive all at the same time!

Here goes my annual what happened post. You can see others too!:
2012 and 2012 again...(beginning blogger there!)
2013
2014

And now for a 2015 recap!


January- I started by making some goals for this year. I would say I completed 6 of them. Sadly winning a fantasy football league did not happen again this year. January started my year out not so great. I tore my ACL, MCL, and LCL in my left knee


February- I tried to remain positive with my limited abilities and discussed some things I don't like.


March- I went to Vail to hang with my husband when he wasn't skiing. Right after I went and had my ACL surgically repaired. Not a lot of blogging happened here in the beginning of the year. I really just wasn't able to do much so there wasn't a lot for me to write. I wrote about that here. Not the best time of my life...


April- I spent most of my time balancing work and blogging and doing physical therapy. Easter was a quiet celebration alone, but nice. I felt good about getting dressed again!


May- I took a trip to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. So much fun! This was my first real walking done on the new ACL. It held up pretty well! I also celebrated year three being married to my awesome husband! We did a big road trip through part of the south and it was so much fun. Recaps are here:
Greenville {here}
Blue Ridge Parkway {here
Virginia/Outer Banks {here}
Charleston {here}
Savannah {here}
Snapchat Round Up {here}

June- I started to try and lightly work out and gain back muscle and strength lost in my leg. This would eventually this year lead me to join a gym and incorporate some swimming into the mix. I also celebrated my blog's 3rd blogiversary and my birthday! I also started a new job!


July- Kevin and I celebrated 10 years of being together (starting at dating) and took a trip to San Diego where we got engaged. I also started blogging consistantly and shared what I did to get me out of my blogging lull and wrote a "you be you" style post.

August- I tried to get organized and shared some thoughts. I wrote about the stress of life and needing to find the time to focus on ourselves. This is something I think wives, mothers, and nurses all need to read ;-) I also ranted on how all blogs sometimes are all alike.


September- I found myself back in physical therapy to help my scoliosis and lordosis. I talked about me realizing that Arizona is my home and reminisced about a room of memories. I also gave you all my girl code and of course went GOLD for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.


October- Biggest highlight was going to my first Denver Broncos game! I also shared some parental wisdom and of course shared some pumpkin recipes here and here and here.


November- I shared my travel planning tips. Oh and we took another fabulous trip to Napa/Sonoma and Muir Woods! We also celebrated our second annual Friendsgiving and spend Thanksgiving/Kevin and my sister's birthday with our families YAY for not having to work!  I shared some things I am thankful for.


December- Star Wars came out and we had a Star Wars Party, Kevin graduated with his masters degree, and I learned to de-stress the season. I shared some tips for hosting a big meal and Kevin and I hosted our families for Christmas. I worked the actual day, but I was lucky to be able to have off the days around Christmas to spend with my family.


As for the year to come, here are some of the things I would like to resolve for:

1. Lose 20 pounds.
2. Win my Fantasy Football League (this has been a resolution for many years now...)
3. Travel to a foreign country.
4. Take better photos.
5. Re-do my backyard.
6. Have a happy and healthy year with my family.


What are your favorite memories of 2015?
What resolutions (if any) did you make this year?

January 1, 2016

Splurge or Save: Part 2

Happy New Year everyone!

I am at work today, and while everyone is resolving and organizing for a new year, I wanted to post a list of areas I like to save my money. Saving money year after year, is always a priority. I don't feel like I save in a restrictive way, but a way that will give me a good future and foundation to build a life I want on.

I wrote here ten things I would splurge on. Trust me, there are more than ten, but there are just some things I will not pay for. Here are ten things that I would always save my money on:



Painting: 
I can paint my own indoor and outdoor projects thanks to my mother! Sure, it is slower, but painters cost a lot of money! I painted my whole house!

Cable TV:
I showed you here how I cut cable out of my life. Trust me, you don't need it and think of all the other things you could spend that money on!

Groceries:
Now let me preface this, I buy quality groceries, I just don't pay full price. I never got into couponing, but I price match at Wal-Mart and use online retail coupons when possible. Plus Wal-Mart has a Savings Catcher. This is not an ad for Wal-Mart, but if they want it to be call me up ;)

Handyman Jobs: 
Thankfully Kevin is a really great handyman plus we have blogs and YouTube if we need to learn things. Now that doesn't mean there aren't limitations. We do know when to call for a professionals.

Cell Phones: 
If I don't need a new cell phone, I don't want it. I would prefer to save my money there. I also don't have much data on my phone plan, so using my phone a lot doesn't happen. I feel this keeps me a little more in the moment too.

Clothes: 
Clearly, not a fashion blogger here, but when I do go shopping, I never pay full price for fabulous! Thanks Marshalls! (Once again, not an ad, but I would love it to be!)

Cars: 
I will never pay full price and buy a new car. It is a depreciating asset. I can go onto Craig's List (Thankfully it works in my part of the country) and buy a nice used car!

Fast Food: 
Jeez, some people just spend a lot of money grabbing a quick burger or a quick Starbucks. I just can't do it. Prepare for something slightly gross, but I think of it as poop money. I get nothing out of my money. I will spend less and eat healthier if I go my own meals and planning.

Pictures: 
This may change when we have kids, but for pictures of me and my husband, I don't use a professional photographer. I tried one for my wedding and it was one of the most disappointing things ever...so I am a little put off right now. I need to learn to use my DSLR better anyway...

Gift Wrapping: 
I like to get all of that only when there is an extreme sale and think of creative cute ways to package things instead of spending money on paper that gets ripped or thrown away.

I asked my husband on what else I don't like to spend money on for this post. He said "things I want" haha jokingly....I hope. Haha!


What are some things you don't like to pay for?

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