January 28, 2011

Winter Fun: Hair Fixer

A friend of mine gave me her old "beauty salon" set that came with a play hair dryer, comb, brush, make-up and nail polish.  Then I found a barber set at Target and we were all set!   Hair Fixer was born!    We each get to sit in front of Ava while she "cuts our hair to make it long" and sprays it with A LOT of water.  Then she combs and cuts (fake scissors from the barber set!), combs some more.  Then it is time for our facial shave.  Next up is nails and make-up.  You must leave her salon with a bow, male or female.  No exceptions.

These two kits have given us hours of fun and at hardly any cost!  Try it, it really makes a day indoors a little easier to take!

Feeling Felt

I'm not sure why I am so drawn to felt lately.  But you can do amazing things with felt and it needs no ironing, no hemming, and it really holds up to little fingers well.

I like to get my kids a few things for Valentine's Day, and I'm going with a felt gift.  Blake really loves to play in our play kitchen and loves playing with the felt board at Wee Scholars.  Ava is all about imaginative play and babies.  Here are a few things I'm thinking of getting...

All of these can be found on Etsy with a simple search of "felt".  Pretty cute stuff, right? If you are interested in an item, just click on the description below the photo. 

**All photos from the Etsy seller listed in the link.

January 27, 2011

Run, Don't Walk

Run, don't walk to your grocery (or ice cream shop) and get peanut butter and chocolate twister ice cream made by Hudsonville!

I am hooked on this ice cream. Seriously, it is so good, it is like a drug.  I talked about it this morning with a girlfriend and then I had it on  my mind the rest of the day.  It is so creamy, then you add it the fudge and the frozen peanut butter...yum, yum, yum.  I mean just look at it.

Another plus is that it is a Michigan company and so my money stays here, in state.  They also use cream and milk from local farms.  Great, right?  The sad news is that it is only sold in Michigan and parts of Illinois and Ohio. 

It's dreamy.  Creamy dreamy.  Peanut buttery, dreamy, creamy goodness. Convinced yet?  If you aren't lucky enough to live in this area, then what is your favorite ice cream?  

Your welcome in advance.  :)

I wasn't paid in any way for this post, it's just a true love of this ice cream.

Crock-Pot Thursday: Pulled Pork

I love a good pulled pork sandwich.  Where I grew up  there were 3 really great places all in my town where I could get one at any time.  Here in Michigan, I know a few places, but nothing really close.  So, I went searching for one that was easy.  Well, I found it here.

The first time I made it my parents had just driven 9 hours to come and visit us. I wanted something that everyone would like (my Dad is very picky) and that was easy.  It was a HUGE hit. My Dad even went back for seconds!

1-2 lb. pork tenderloin (or similar)
1-12 fl. oz. root beer (I read to get the cheapest possible, so I do)
1 bottle BBQ  sauce. We like Sweet Baby Rays.
Hamburger Buns

Place the pork in the slow cooker.  Pour root bear over the pork.  Cook on low for 6-7 hours until pork shreds easily.  Drain.  Add as much BBQ sauce as you like.  Keep in mind that you can always add more on your sandwich.


January 26, 2011

EmersonMade, First Spring

EmersonMade just released their first pieces of spring line.  Oh, I'm in love.

The pieces look so effortless, but so put together at the same time.  Tailored, but comfortable.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces:

 Is this belt not perfect?  I love the single clasp. Perfect for those outfits where you really want to tuck in your shirt, but the top of the skirt just doesn't cooperate.  Find it here (although it was sold out last time I looked).
 Isn't this a great dress?  Perfect for going out with the kiddos or with the hubby on a summer day.  So versatile.  You know me and a navy dress...Find it here.
 Pleats, stripes, and seersucker.  Need I say more?  Find it here.

I must say that this skirt is a little short for me, but since I'm short, I figure it will be long enough.  I love, love, love the scalloped edge.  Adds that  little extra to a black skirt.  Find it here.

Almost all the looks are styled with these shoes:
They aren't for sale on the site and no mention is made.  Does anyone know where I can get my hands on a pair?

Of course, you can't do an EmersonMade. post without one of these:

The Dahlia Ballet Set, which I am currently coveting.  Find it here.

What do you think?  Have you ever bought anything from EmersonMade?  What did you think of the quality?

PS  All photos from EmersonMade.

Cabin Fever

Around here it has been cabin fever central.  Running, jumping, arguing, crying, whining, and general angst has lead to a crazy, crazy house these past few weeks.  

Michigan winters are long, and cold.  Very cold.  It's no secret I don't do well with Michigan winters.  Maybe it is because I didn't grow up here but I just can't handle it.  

Today though, today was different.  Not only did it get above 30 degrees for a few hours, but it also wasn't snowing or windy! That meant we got to walk around the neighborhood!

Maybe you are saying "big deal" right now, but believe me, this was a huge deal. And just what the doctor ordered!

And you will notice, we didn't even wear snow pants!  

Tomorrow, I'm hoping for a peak of the sun and another walk.  Oh, a girl can dream, right?!

January 25, 2011

Meet Punky Brewster

My daughter is becoming quite the independent fashionista.  Since early October she has been begging me to let her pick out her own outfits.  I'll be honest, it took me a little while to give her some control.  '

I love picking out her outfits and fixing her hair.  I'm actually quite jealous of many pieces in her wardrobe.  Anyway, I finally gave in on the days when we are just hanging out or meeting friends for play dates at their houses.

Here is a sample of her choices:

She's big into layering.  Her favorite is leggings with a skirt, but she isn't opposed to wearing a v-neck with a crew neck under it.

What about you?  Do you micromanage your littles wardrobe or do you let them be free birds?

Outfit Ideas: Spring Wedding

Soon those wedding invitations will be coming in the mail for those early Spring weddings. Here is one idea for you.

I don't like wearing black to weddings, so I usually steer clear of it.  I also steer clear of the wedding colors.  You don't want to seem that you are part of the wedding party if you aren't.  If it is still a little chilly you could always through a shrug or a pashmina.

January 24, 2011

Recipe: Pizza Dough

My parents bought me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for Christmas last year and it came with a little cookbook.  I decided to try out the pizza dough recipe and I haven't looked back!

I always cook our pizza on a pizza stone.  I got ours from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I love it. It makes the crust crispy, which I love.

Pre-Heat Oven to 450 degrees F.


1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (between 110-115 degrees)
1/2 t. salt
2 t. olive oil
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warmed bowl in warmed bowl.  Wait until yeast is bubbly.  Mine usually takes around 5-8 minutes.

Add in salt, olive oil, and 2 1/2 c. of all purpose flour.  Attach bowl and dough hook and beat at speed 2 for 1 minute.

Continue on speed 2.  Add in remaining flour 1/2 c. at a time until dough clings to dough hook and cleans side of the bowl.  Sometimes I need to add a few drops of warmed water to make the dough get to this stage.  Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes more.

Place in greased bowl and turning to grease top.

Cover with clean towel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Punch down dough.  Roll out dough on flour covered surface until you reach your desired size and thickness.

Sprinkle warmed pizza stone with corn meal.  Roll out dough on warmed pizza stone.  Cover with you desired toppings.

While I clean up the kitchen, the kids play with the extra dough.

Then, 18-20 minutes later, out comes the hot pizza!

Let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

Weekend Update

It was COLD this weekend in Michigan!  I was hoping to get outside for a walk or something but it never seemed to get above 24 degrees all weekend!

On Friday we stayed home and played games, watched TV, did laundry.  I was the luckiest because I got to clean the basement playroom.  Please,  no hateful messages, I know you are jell.  Don't hate.  ;)

On Saturday it was time to birthday party!  Before we left for the party we found some time to play a board game or two.

Then it was time to party! This sweet girl turned 1 and she really enjoyed her cake!

It was a fun party and so nice to celebrate the healthy first year of a good friend.

After the party we came home and stayed cozy and warm on a cold, cold Michigan night.

On Sunday, I was surprised with a breakfast in bed made by my hubby and delivered by my daughter.

Then it was time for some girl time.  Ava and I headed out to get her a new winter coat, pick out carpet for the master bedroom, and eat lunch "out".

After some girl time, we headed home to cheer on our Bears!  

We enjoyed some Chili while listening to my husband scream "WHOOOOOOOOOOO BEARS!"  Sadly the Bears lost.  :(

How was your weekend?

January 21, 2011

Winter Fun: UNO

When I was growing up I used to love going down to my Grandparents' house and playing Uno.  My Grandma used to call it "you-know" which I thought about passing on to my kids, but I didn't.

My daughter got the Handy Manny version for her 3rd birthday and she really loved it.  After awhile she got more games and it found it's way to the back of the closet.

A few months ago we pulled out the Memory game and started to play with both the kids.  Blake was immediately hooked. He loves playing games.  His favorite right now though is UNO.  This version is great for preschool-K because it has colors, pictures, and numbers. It grows with them.

He tries very hard to only pass out 5 cards, but we are still working on that aspect.  We also keep the cards on the floor, face up to make it easier for all of us.  Blake has already figured out that if he doesn't have a color, he can match the picture. He also understands "Wild" with a little prompting.

The game costs around 5 bucks and you can find it a the major chain stores.  Try it out.

What other games do you/have you played with the preschooler in your life?

Have a great weekend!

The Walking Dead

img:  AMC

When I was home visiting family at Christmas, my brother introduced me to the AMC show The Walking Dead. I'll be honest, at first, I had no interest. None.  I watched about 10 minutes and that was enough.

Then, we got home and saw that they were replaying the first season. So, we DVRed it and after watching 1/2 of the first episode I was hooked.  It is a gory and a little hard to watch at times, but overall, the plot is good and it moves along well.  I'm still not sure what causing the dead to turn into Geeks or how some got away and others didn't...maybe the second season?  Don't turn into a LOST on me and make me guess for 3 years before I get some real answers, well sort of answers.  I guess I could look it up, but I'd rather wait and see.

The only bad thing is that the first season was only 6 episodes long! I checked to see when the next season was starting....October 2011.  What the heck?!

If you are looking for a good show to watch and don't mind waiting almost a year to see the next season, check it out.

January 20, 2011

Blog Buttons-Tutorial

You know when you go to a blog and you see those little cute blog buttons on the side?  Well yesterday I set out to add a link to my Twitter on the side of the blog and stumbled upon this blog,  Oikology101.

Her directions for making a button are so easy!  If I can do it, trust me, you can do it.  You have to have Picasa, which is free, and possibly a Photobucket account.

Anyway, follow the directions here is you want a button of your own.  Button directions.

Thanks Oikology!

Crock-Pot Thursday: Black Bean Soup

I've been making this soup for about 8 years now.  It seems like every winter we make this over and over until we are sick of it. Then, when winter comes around the next year, we can't wait to eat it again.

It is from Southern Living, November 1998 issue.

2-15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2-4.5 oz. can chopped green chilies
1-14 oz. can stewed tomatoes (or Mexican stewed tomatoes)
1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1-11 oz. can whole-kernel corn, drained
4 green onions, sliced (I omit this)
2 to 3 T. chili powder (I use 3)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot.
Cover and cook on High for 5-6 hours.

It is so delicious.  Perfect for a cold winter night.  I try to serve it with dinner rolls or warmed french bread.  Yum!

January 19, 2011


Wishing I was on the Disney Dream cruise ship today.  Isn't she beautiful.

Mark my words,  one day I will take a Disney cruise!  Once my son is out of diapers and we can vacation diaper free, I'm going to start working on my husband.  The thought of keeping him out of the pools right now is just too cruel.

Have you been on a Disney cruise? What did you think?

Want more info on the Dream?  Check here, here, and here.

Currently Reading

I was lucky enough to get a  Kindle for Christmas from my husband and my children.  I was so excited because last year I had to decide between a new camera or a kindle.  I chose the camera.

My newest book on the Kindle is The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir.

First let me say that I am 100% Tudorphile.  I love all things to do with Tudor England, not just the King and his ladies.  With that being said, I'm, of course, engrossed in this book.

Alison Weir presents the material in a reader friendly format which I enjoy since I do my reading at night after the kids are in bed and the house is picked up.  Which equals brain dead.  I would suggest looking at a map of Tudor England. It makes it a little easier to follow along and not get lost in all the movement of the court.  I also like to look at the castles mentioned, you can do so here.  Also, you can find Queen Anne's home, Hever Castle, here.

I'm only 1/4 of the way through, so I'll share a proper review when I finish the book.  So far, the book has confirmed to me that Katherine of Aragon had to fight almost her entire time in England.  It seems that Henry did love her for much longer than I had previously thought and seemed to only fall out of love with her when Anne came into the picture which was also around the same time that she could no longer produce that much anticipated male heir for Henry Rex.  Oh the drama that was Henry VIII reign!

Interested in more Henry VIII info?  Check here, here, and here.  Also, if you get BBC America, they are running all the seasons of The Tudors right now.  Trust me, each season is better than the last!  It's also on Netflix if you are a subscriber.  Remember though that the show rooted in fact has A LOT of fiction, so use it as a jumping off point.

What are you reading?  Any suggestions to add to my reading list?  My goal is to read 12 books or one per month and I'm looking to step out of my usual history/mystery cycle.

January 18, 2011

Rainy Gray Day...Keeping it Real

Do you ever read blogs and think, man, that is the perfect life.  Always wearing the right outfit, cooking the right food, and doing special and great things with their children?  I do.  I'll be honest, some days it really brings me down.  So, when I thought about doing this blog I knew that I would need to keep it real.

I do cook, bake, and craft a lot with my kids.  I think it is fun and I enjoy seeing them express their creative side.  But, on days like today when it is 36 degrees, raining, and my house is a mess I have to put the Mommy guilt in the closet and get some work done.

So, today my son is watching this in the living room:

My daughter is watching this in her room on the DVD player:

And I'm doing this:

Such is life, just keeping it real.

Outfit Ideas: Everyday Casual

Do you have a go-to outfit?  One that you can put on and feel not only comfortable, but put together?  I have a few that I always seem to go to for different occasions like play dates, shopping, or running errands.  This is one that I would feel comfortable doing all those things in and still not feel "frumpy".

I love wearing navy and red together. I think it's such a classic combination.  For jewelry I always look to Etsy to find great handmade things at great prices.  I'm obsessed with spirals right now so these two pieces by  Spirals and Spice are perfect.

Of course my go-to stores of J.Crew and Gap make up the rest of the outfit.  The shoes are Crocs.  I know some people immediately write off Crocs, but they make so many different styles now and they are so comfortable.  Definitely worth a look!

Jeans, Gap; Top, J.Crew; Earrings & Ring, Spirals and Spice; Flats, Crocs; Purse, Fossil

Do you have a "go-to" outfit for certain occasions?  Care to share it?

January 17, 2011

Recipe: Italian Meatloaf

I tried out a new recipe this past weekend, Italian Style Meatloaf, and thought I would share it with you all. It came from allrecipes which is where I usually find my new recipes. I actually went to look for an old favorite but discovered this one.  This one would work for a work night or a weekend. For a work night I would suggest mixing it up the night before and placing it in the fridge overnight.

1.5 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cups dry bread crumbs (I used Italian, that's all I had)
1/4 c. ketchup
1 t. Italian Seasonings
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
1 t.  garlic salt
Pepper to taste
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1.5 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl mix together all ingredients.  I used my hands to make sure everything was mixed really well.   Press into a 9X5 in. loaf pan.  Cover loosely with foil.

Bake for one hour in preheated oven or until internal temp is 160 degrees F.

My Review:
Using this recipe it took 1.5 hours to get to the internal temperature of 160 degrees.  Next time I plan to cut the recipe in half and bake in mini loaf pans.  I also put it under the broiler a few minutes to form a really crunchy top, which I like.

The meat loaf tasted really good! The seasoning listed were perfect and we didn't add any seasoning once it was on the table.  

Did the kids eat it?
One of the kids ate it. My daughter liked it and ate about half of what we gave her. We told her it was like "a cheeseburger" and that was enough for her to try it.  

My son did not try it, so I don't know if he liked it or not.  He is very picky and it drives me insane.

Overall, we really liked this recipe and I will add it into our rotation. It's a great meal for a cold night!

Weekend Update

How was your weekend?

It was cold here, and with cold weather comes sickness.  Each of us has some level of cold/sinus/headache illness that we seem to keep passing back and forth, so it was a pretty low key weekend for us.

We played in the snow...deep snow.

Played some board games.

Rocked out on the Barbie guitar.

Cheered for Da BEARS!

Went to a birthday party and bowled for the first time!

I also did some sewing, laundry, and cleaning. The usual for a weekend.  I also tried out a new recipe, I'll post about it later today.
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