Thursday, January 31, 2013

Some Like It Hot...

Their food that is! I know I do. Last night's dinner, Chipotle Mac and Cheese, had the perfect amount of spice and really hit the spot. I just love the smoky hot flavor of the canned chipotles in adobo sauce that are used in this recipe.

Here is the recipe:

Chipotle Mac and Cheese
Serves: 12 (freezes well)
Source: Aunt Kathy--thanks for the recipe!

1 16 oz. package elbow macaroni
3 c. whole milk
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. minced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced (I love using my garlic press--so easy!)
3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, finely chopped (Mexican food aisle)
6 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp paprika
2 c. shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 c. shredded monterey jack cheese


Cook the pasta in lightly salted water until al dente, about 8-9 minutes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Spray a 9x12 baking dish with cooking spray and put macaroni in the bottom of the dish. Put milk in a saucepan and heat over low-medium heat until hot but not boiling.

In another pan (I used my macaroni pot to save a dish that would have to be washed) melt the butter. Cook onions, garlic, and chipotles until onions are translucent. Whisk in flour 1 tbsp at a time and let cook for about 3 minutes, whisking constantly (it is super important to cook your roux, otherwise your mac and cheese will taste like raw flour). Whisk in hot milk about 1/2 c. at a time. Stir in paprika and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the mixture to a simmer (do not boil), whisking constantly until sauce is thickened.Whisk in the cheeses about 1/2 c. at a time and stir until sauce is smooth, thick, and creamy.

Pour the sauce over the macaroni in the baking dish and gently stir to combine. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes until bubbling and macaroni has absorbed some of the sauce. Uncover and bake 10-15 more minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

We served this mac and cheese as our main dish and had steamed veggies on the side. Although the mac and cheese was not part of our healthy eating plan, it was really delicious. Plus life is all about balance right? It's not like I eat whole milk mac and cheese every day! I decided to make this recipe because I had some leftover canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce from this spicy bean burrito recipe and I didn't want them to go to waste. By the way the spicy bean burritos are quite healthy and delicious--definitely check them out too!

P.S. Shhhh...nobody tell my pretty little red plates that they are not so good for photographing food. Their feelings would be hurt.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Randomness

Well it's been a little quiet around here lately. I go through phases where I feel like I have lots of great ideas and things to share, and then times like now, where I feel like I don't really have anything majorly awesome to share, so I sit here quietly instead.

Well friends, I am not being a wallflower anymore. This is the start of Tuesday Randomness...not to be confused with the "weekend update" posts floating around blog land. Knowing myself, it may not stay "Tuesday" randomness...we might have Thursday or Sunday randomness instead one week. Let's just see what happens!

So here are some of my recent thoughts and experiences, that don't deserve their own post, but maybe together they will be worth a read. :)

Fair warning: You will not walk away from this post with a fabulous new recipe, a super cute DIY project, fashion inspiration, or anything else worth pinning {any other Pinterest addicts here?!}. So, here goes...

Friday evening hubby and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and it was seriously the most delicious thing I have eaten in awhile. So not healthy and so worth it. We shared wings in 3 different sauces: medium, spicy garlic, and asian zing. We also ordered fried pickles. Even hubby liked them, which is really random and surprising, but it made me a happy girl.

Hmmm...I can't really focus right now because I started watching last night's episode of Vanderpump Rules on dvr. I really didn't mean to get sucked into this show but it just happened...

Ok, I'm back. Monday was fabulous because it was a teacher work day AND we had a 2 hour delay. Not necessarily ideal when you have the whole day to actually accomplish things in your classroom (this NEVER happens), but am I going to turn down the chance to have a few extra hours to sleep in and a relaxing morning? NO.

Then, Monday evening I had a blate (blogger date) with Samantha from Designer in Teal. We went to get some frozen yogurt at Sweet Frog. It was so fun to get to know her better and enjoy some yummy yogurt. I had the most delish flavor...toasted marshmallow! My go to toppings at Sweet Frog are the fresh fruit, shredded coconut, mini chocolate chips, and marshmallow drizzle {ok, ok my cup is the bigger one...don't judge}.

Finally, today was amazing because we had a high of 74 degrees here. The first amazing part of this was that my kids were able to get outside for recess for the first time in TWO WEEKS. Any teachers here? If so you understand how serious this recess situation was getting. Then I got to sneak out of work early {leave early coupon for getting my report cards done ahead of time...go me!} and I came home and sat on the deck and read for an hour. It was lovely. Its amazing how a little warmth and sunshine can affect you. It was like a happy breath of fresh air.

This evening I went to watch hubby's dodgeball game. I wanted to support him but I also surprisingly got into the game. I am totally not into sports, but it was so fun to see what I think of as a simple childhood game get super intense. Hubby's team won (yay!) and they played so well. Adult dodgeball is serious business!

Well that is the end of Tuesday Randomness. May the rest of your week be random and wonderful!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Comfy Cozy

It's another snowy evening here and hubby and I went out to an early dinner and then came home to snuggle in. The first thing I did after getting home {of course} was change into "my comfies". Putting on my comfies is usually my first order of business when I get home...even if it is the middle of the afternoon. I just can't help it. I absolutely love being comfy and cozy. Seriously, when I was putting on my flannel pants and hooded sweatshirt tonight I was ridiculously happy. Ridiculously. 

A lot of my comfies consist of pj type clothes, including hand me downs from my hubby. I know this does not sound very attractive and cute, but they feel glorious. Anyway, I am trying to expand my comfy wardrobe with more lounge wear, which would definitely be a more appropriate option for the middle of the day or the afternoon.

To try and get some lounge wear ideas I decided to visit Polyvore. This was my first time on the site and I can tell it's going to be addicting and lots of fun! I named my first creation "stylish snuggles" since that is what I had on my mind. I am loving flowy tops with leggings right now, not only because they work well with the baby bump, but because it is a super cute and comfy look with out being sloppy. The red bow slippers add a fun girly kick to the outfit. So what do you all think? Are you in to lounge wear? You can find me on Polyvore @atshirtandpearls if you want to follow along with my other creations. Happy weekend!

Stylish Snuggles

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Baked Apple Oatmeal "Muffins"

One kind of unfortunate symptom I am having from pregnancy is not sleeping well. I am pretty restless during most nights, and every morning on this amazing long weekend I have woken up early. Don't get me wrong I am not complaining. Overall I feel amazing and am having such a positive experience. If a little tossing and turning is included, oh well. But anyway, the point is I took advantage of being up at 7am (gasp) this morning to make some delicious baked apple oatmeal muffins. 

They were very dense yet super moist, which made them more like the consistency of baked oatmeal than a regular muffin. Many of the traditional ingredients were substituted for healthier alternatives, creating a reduced fat and calorie muffin. Now I wouldn't say that this muffin is necessarily health food, but it is definitely a healthier option. 

Baked Apple Oatmeal Muffins

makes approximately 12-15 muffins, recipe adapted from Fearless Homemaker


1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
OOPS here is where I see I was supposed to add 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda. That didn't happen. I guess another symptom I am having is pregnancy brain, seriously I am a scattered hot mess most of the time these days...Hmm well omit the baking soda if you want baked oatmeal cups like I made, add the baking soda and I bet you will get a fluffy yummy muffin. Oh my...
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg white
1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup (not the pancake syrup you have in your pantry)
1 apple (variety of your choice--I used Fuji) diced

1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare your muffin tin by filling with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl combine the first 7 (dry) ingredients and use a fork to combine. In a second smaller bowl combine the next 4 (wet) ingredients. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add diced apple and mix in. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full (or all the way if you want to try my crazy method of no baking powder because they won't rise).

In a separate bowl combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of the muffins. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Here is what I ended up with:

I was so sad to realize when I was in the middle of this post that I left out one of the most important ingredients. Although, I have to say they still turned out pretty well. More like oatmeal less like muffin. Next time I will add the baking soda though because I bet they will be even more delish as a fluffy muffin. 

If you give this recipe a try let me know how it turns out! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Butter Me Up

Happy Saturday friends! This morning as I was getting ready, and slathering on one of my favorite beauty products, I realized I better share it with you all so you are not missing out. This fabulous little product is Shea Cashmere Body Cream from the True Blue Spa line at Bath and Body Works.

I am kind of a beauty product junkie and tend to collect tons of beauty products that admittedly don't always get used up. But, this is one product that I use all the way up and then buy more of. It is that amazing. It is very thick and creamy like a body butter but it does not leave any greasy residue behind. It leaves my skin so soft and it smells delish! On the BBW website they describe the scent as "an addictive blend of sweet Tahitian vanilla, whipped shea and golden amber." 

It is a little pricey at $17.50, but if you have ever been into Bath and Body Works you know that they are always having some kind of special deal. Right now this product is listed on their website as buy 2 get 1 one free. If you get a deal like this make sure you test it out before telling friends and family that you have more body cream than you know what to do with and letting them call dibs. After you try it I think you may just want to save all of the containers for yourself, especially if you are like me and are starting to get flaky dry winter skin!  

Happy pampering! 

*this post is all my own opinion and was not solicited by Bath and Body Works

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blog Bling

If you are a regular here you may have noticed a few new accessories on the sidebar of my blog. I like to call them my blog bling.

The first is the 20 Something Bloggers button. This is a great blogger resource for getting new ideas, meeting other bloggers, and learning some tips and tricks. If you are a blogger I definitely encourage you to check it out and join!

My second new bling is the Shabby Apple button. Shabby Apple was something I had seen on a few blogs but had never really checked out. A few weeks ago I got an email from Shabby Apple asking me if I would like to be an affiliate for them, which basically means share their awesome online store with my readers and get a few perks along the way. After checking out their stuff {and seeing that they have super cute maternity and baby stuff} I decided to go for it. Although I felt pretty excited to be personally contacted by them, any blogger can join (ie. I'm not really that special...) so check out their affiliate program here.

Shabby Apple is known for their retro feel and they have super cute dresses, skirts, tops, swim wear, accessories, and even home decor stuff! They have some fun vintagey type items like slips, brooches, and aprons. Some styles that I am loving right now are:



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Power Breakfast

I generally eat pretty healthy (although I did just finish some chick fil-a---nuggets and salad, so not too bad!) but now that I am preggo I am trying to be even more conscious. It makes me feel good to know that I am giving my baby the best vitamins and nutrients that I can.

Breakfast is always a hard meal of the day for me to plan. I need something quick and easy because I am always running late (no matter how early I get up--I can always seem to waste my time in the morning) and I don't want anything that is going to be too heavy. That being said I try and have some kind of protein to help me stay full.

This week I decided to try something new, which I have named my power breakfast, for the good clean protein and energy it provides.

My power breakfast consists of wilted spinach with scrambled egg whites and one slice of Ezekiel bread (this is an awesome company--I love their products and mission. Check.them.out) with olive oil butter spread. It's actually really delicious...I promise! 

Here is how I make it:

In my pan I warm some butter flavored grapeseed oil (I order this from WildTree) and I add a handful of spinach. Once the spinach is mostly wilted I pour in some of the liquid egg whites. Make sure you look for a brand that is 100% all natural egg whites. Some brands have other fillers and yucky stuff in them. Add salt and pepper to taste and scramble the egg whites mixing them into the wilted spinach. While this is cooking I toast a slice of Ezekiel bread which I top with Olivio. I have this with a glass of calcium added orange juice. I don't drink milk (except this insane new craving of a childhood favorite--steamed vanilla milk--this is what I have been spending my Christmas Starbucks gift cards on...strange.) so I have been trying to get lots of calcium in other ways.

Side note: I started buying Olivio because I felt like it was a good alternative to other low fat butter spreads since it is made with olive oil. However, when you look at the packaging you see that it is actually still 60% vegetable oils. I am thinking I am going to switch to regular butter. I would rather have the full fat and calories in moderation than hydrogenated artificial ingredients, plus regular butter is  so delish!

So what do you think? Would you be willing to give power breakfast a try? It is super quick and probably takes a total of 5 minutes to make. What do you enjoy for breakfast?

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Few of Your Favorite Things

This Christmas hubby and I kept things pretty simple, and for my sister in-law we put together a gift bag with a few of her favorite things. I got this awesome idea from my friend Crissy who found it via Pinterest. She designed the graphics for the labels and I went in and edited the text to fit the gifts I was giving.

Here are the things that went into the gift:

A quote about books: A good book
"A chick flick for our favorite chickadee": A chick flick (Water for Elephants)
"For your mistle toes": Fuzzy socks with a nail polish tucked inside
"We love you a latte": Hand knit coffee cozy with Starbucks gift card tucked inside
"Eat drink and be merry": Sparkling French berry lemonade

Everything was put into the brown paper gift bag with a tag that said "these are a few of your favorite things". I found the bag at Target but it came with purple ribbon handles, so I changed out the ribbon for the red polka dot (thanks again Crissy for your idea!). The ribbon handles were tied together with some string twine.

Although this was a Christmas gift you could really give it for any occasion, just change up the color scheme and some of the sayings. The only rule is that when you give the gift you have to sing: "brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of your favorite things..." Any Sound of Music fans out there? I'm not, but I do know that much. I also know that Austria is amazing and beautiful and I would like a second home there. That is really the only alluring thing to me about that musical. I hope that's not too harsh--I am just not a fan of musicals. 

But anyway...hope you like the gift idea! What would you include in one of these gift bags? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

I have had the itch for awhile to redecorate our master bedroom. After we finally got my poor husband a dresser for the bedroom (his dresser used to be in the guest room because it was too big to fit in our room), the room felt so crowded with furniture, and the dark bedding and curtains that we had (brown, cream, and red) were not helping the situation at all. Don't get me wrong, the things were pretty on their own, but paired with a lot of furniture in a little room it was way too heavy. It just felt so suffocating, and not serene and relaxing like a master bedroom should be.

I really wanted to go to an all white bedroom to help open up the space and add that lightness and brightness that I was looking for. I changed out the dark bed cover for a white matelasse cover and I added a white duvet cover to an existing down comforter that we had. I keep the down comforter folded at the end of the bed which gives the bed a plush inviting look (we pull it up at night to stay nice and cozy).

I traded out the dark valences for long sheer textured panels. Had I been able to find the panels in a longer length I would have moved my curtain rod to right below the ceiling, which is a fabulous trick for making windows seem even larger and rooms even bigger and more open. But, even as it is the windows look so much bigger and more open, and these curtains make a huge impact on the room. Part of this is because I have the rod extending several inches beyond the window on each side. This makes the window look wider than it is.

My lamps were replaced with clear seeded glass lamps and a textured white drum shade that mimics the texture on the curtains. There is nothing like a white lamp shade to add lightness and brightness to a room!

The walls are still empty until I find something I like, but until then I really don't mind. I am so enjoying the fresh clean feeling of the room and I don't want to clutter it up with too much stuff.

The matelasse shams are monogrammed with our initials. I love how southern and classic a monogram is, and the tan thread against the white sham continues the crisp monochromatic color scheme.

Here is a little better look at our new lamps. 

Now is when I get to thank my amazing parents because my mom knew my vision for our bedroom, and as hubby and I's together gift for Christmas they got us the bedding and lamps. Thank you, thank you!

What do you all think of the new bedroom look? I loooooove it! We have a small slipper chair in the corner of our bedroom and sometimes I like to just sit in there and read because it is so relaxing! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Blogger Meet-Up Recap and a Coupon!

This week I attended my first blogger meet up with Virginia Bloggers! I was excited to meet some bloggy friends in person that I had already gotten to know in the bloggy world, and to meet some new bloggers as well. The event was held at Kitchen Thyme and it was a cooking demonstration (and tasting!) led by Chef Tammy of The Green Kitchen (she is fabulous--so fun and really need to check her out). The evening was sponsored by Relay Foods and they provided all of the {fresh, local, delicious} produce and recipes for our vegetarian meal. Relay Foods gave us a special to share with our readers too (they're so generous!), but you have to read all of the way to the bottom to get it. No, stop right there, you may not just scroll through all of my thoughts and ramblings to get to the deal. Patience, patience...

While I am not a vegetarian, hubby and I don't eat a ton of meat. Honestly, the reason is not for health or animal rights, but because it just doesn't always taste that great to us. We often struggle with thinking of meal ideas for the week, so I was excited to get some new meatless recipe ideas.

Side note: every weekend we make a meal plan for the week (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one or two healthy snacks) and we do all of the shopping for the week. This has saved us a lot of money and calories because we buy only what we need, and our grocery shopping does not include random impulse buys that do not fit into our weekly menu. This also means that our pantry and fridge are not very full, so when a snack attack hits you are kind of SOL...but I guess that's the point.

Here is a rundown of what we sampled (links take you to the recipes):

Kale chips: Totally delicious. Hubby and I have actually been wanting to make these and this was all the encouragement I needed. On the to-do list! Chef Tammy's suggestion was to cook them low and slow to get the best crisp, 250 degrees for 2-3 hours.

ABC juice: This is pretty cool if you are into juicing. Relay Foods sells juicing kits and in the bag are all of the produce items you need to make the recipe. The one we had was apple, beet, and carrot (abc). I have to be honest I was not in love with this. I am still curious about juicing and would be open to try other recipes, but I am just not a veggie juice kind of girl. I really like beets pickled or roasted in a salad or as a side dish, but drinking them pureed is another thing. This is just my opinion though and several other ladies really enjoyed it. 

Carrot Pineapple Muffins: I loved the freshness of the carrot and pineapple. I have been really into pineapple lately, so this definitely hit the spot. The muffin had a healthier taste (not the sweetness you get with sugary refined white flour muffins) but it was still very delicious. I think these muffins would make an awesome breakfast!

Mustard Greens with Creamy Mustard Sauce: Oh yummy. We eat a fair amount of greens in our house but have not tried mustard greens. We eat a lot of kale and also use spinach and collards occasionally. When I first heard that the sauce was a mustard cream sauce I thought, oh great this is not a recipe I can take home because hubby does not like mustard at all, but I was so surprised with how light the sauce was. The mustard did not particularly stand out to me, it just tasted like a delicious sauce. It was super light and not heavy or thick tasting at all. The mustard greens do have a slightly bitter taste, but it was a nice contrast to the creamy sauce. 

Lentil, Olive, and Mushroom Veggie Burgers: These were amazing...possibly my favorite part of the meal. This was another recipe that I wasn't sure about using at home because hubby is not an olive fan (they are one of my favorite things and the olive bar at the grocery store is like my Mecca) but once again the ingredient worked to balance and create a really nice flavor, and there was not a strong olive taste to the burgers. The burgers were served with a salad of lettuce, kale, cilantro, radishes, avocado, and a delicious homemade vinaigrette. 

The event was fabulous and I was so happy that I attended. Everyone was so nice and it was super motivating to be with such a fabulous group of bloggers. It definitely gave me the push I needed to get back into my blog and continue to grow with it. I want to grow up to be some of these girls!

Here I am with my bloggy friend Samantha of Designer in Teal:

And here is our awesome group of bloggers:

Photo via Brittany of Eating Bird Food
And what you have been waiting for...use the code "VABLOG" for $25 off of a $50 purchase at Relay Foods. This special is for first time customers only. Enjoy! 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

An Announcement

Well I think I am finally ready to come back to the blogging world. Being a teacher, I have had the amazing pleasure of having the last 2 weeks off for Christmas and New Year's. It definitely came at the right time, and I was in desperate need of some rest and relaxation. This means I also have taken a 2 week break from my job as a Scentsy Family Independent Consultant and from the blog. It has been so amazing to have no commitments that I need to worry about. I spent a lot of time hanging out with my hubby (he is a teacher too so we had an awesome break together) and we traveled to spend time with both of our families. My plan is to have a Christmas recap post up before the end of January. We'll see how I do...

Until then I thought I would share a quick Christmas post by revealing the Christmas card that we sent out to our family this year:

Yep, that's my handsome hubby! Oh, and we're expecting! I am 16 weeks, so in just a month we find out if baby to be is a boy or girl. So exciting! We had the picture printed as a postcard and sent it off to extended family as our way of announcing.

The inspiration for this picture came from here and the photo was taken by Dory of The Doyle Dispatch.

Hope ya'll had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's!