Thursday, December 1, 2016

North Pole Breakfast 2016

About six years ago, our little family started the tradition of welcoming our elf (Elfabet) with a North Pole Breakfast.  Of course, when we first set it all up it was kind of a big deal.  We wanted it to be fun and special for our....wait for it...TWO AND THREE YEAR OLDS.  If you think that's ridiculous, you're right.  Like they could've cared?!  Just a visit from the elf would've been enough.  We set the bar too high right out the gate.  WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!?!?!?!  

However, I will say that this is one of the boys' most favorite traditions.  They LOVE the North Pole Breakfast!  Each year I think to myself, "they won't remember last year". And every year I'm wrong.  Of course they do.  They love it.  For one, it's the only day of the year they get powdered donuts (aka SNOWnuts) for breakfast.  And of course, they LOVE welcoming back Elfabet.  

Let me tell you this.  I will savor every one of these silly traditions for as long as I can because they bring so much joy to the boys.  And my boys are getting older.  My 3rd grader has started asking questions.  "How do we know you're not Santa?"  "Are you sure you don't buy us presents?" "Why do you want our Christmas lists if Santa is the one getting us presents?"  The "magic" is here for such a short time and even though some of these traditions and whatnot are silly, over the top, and competely ridiculous, I'll do it as long as I can because to my boys it's all so magical.  Seeing the magic through their eyes gives me memories I'll never be able to forget...and I love that.  


SO let's talk North Pole breakfast!


It can be as simple or elaborate as you make it.  The elf alone is what makes it so much fun for my boys.   

AND...they get to enjoy SNOWNUTS (white powdered donuts) with hot chocolate and floating glaciers (marshmallows).  The simplest...and most unhealthy...breakfast ever.  And they eat it up.  This year I decided to top it off with Christmas cupcakes because I'm mother-of-the-year (thank you, Hostess).  I wouldn't let them eat them for breakfast, but I told them they could have them as special treats in their lunches.  

I typically get all the "filler" goodies from the dollar spot at Target.


The only thing not from the dollar spot is the pjs, but I did snag them 50% off, so that was a great find!  I also picked up their Elf shirts on sale and they were slightly ecstatic about those.  Elf is their most favorite Christmas movie :)  


And this was my most favorite dollar spot find this season.  Christmas Advent activities!  I thought they'd be disappointed that they didn't get the little chocolate calendars, but they were THRILLED with these!  Both of their countdown books are different, so these were a great find.  And chances are, they'll get the chocolate advent calendars, too because TRADITION ;)



Even our pug was ready for #allthesweets.  This year the boys didn't wait for me to wake up before they started digging in.  That was a *harsh* first.  


And just for giggles,  here's a little stroll back through the North Pole Breakfasts of the past (tear).


Here they are celebrating in a new city, new house.  This was in 2013.  I remember them being so worried that the elf wouldn't be able to find us since we had recently moved.  Bless.


And in 2014....

And last year...


You think I'll be able to get pictures like this when they're home for the holidays from college?!?!?  Because that would be awesome.  


In other holiday news, the house is *almost* decorated. I'm behind this year, but that seems to be the theme of my life right now, so we'll go with it.  

The boys love decorating the tree almost as much as I love redecorating it when they go to bed :)  Hahaha!!!  I only move a few ornaments around because somehow many of them end up hanging from the very same branch :)



 Slowly, but surely, it's all coming together.  



And our sitting room is becoming my most favorite spot to work.  SO cozy when it's decorated for Christmas.  


HAPPY DECEMBER TO YOU AND YOURS!!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Set Your Scales Back

Now that we're winding down from the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving, it's time to wind down the scale as well :)  I don't know about y'all, but I ate my weight in mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, and cheesecake.  Thanksgiving is, hands down, my favorite holiday.  Shocker, right?!  I mean, anything that revolves around food is pretty much my favorite.  Thus bringing me to my one and only Christmas wish....


I mean, SERIOUSLY!!!  

Speaking of Gilmore Girls, have y'all finished watching the revival?  I just finished last night and I LOVED IT!!!  I won't give anything away, but it was so good.  And I'm more than happy with the way it ended :)  

Okay!  Now let's get back to food.  Something Lorelai and Rory would be more than happy to do.  
Instead of spending the next 3 weeks indulging in holiday treats, we're going to get back to our regularly scheduled eating.  Light meals with lots of flavor.  If you're wanting to get back on the same track as me, here's a great recipe to start you off!!


SALMON WITH LEMON CREAM SAUCE

1 TBSP. olive oil
Cajun seasoning, optional
3 TBSP. lemon juice
1/4 C. chicken broth
2/3 C. heavy whipping cream
1 TBSP. canola oil
Sea Salt & Pepper
1 1/2 LBS. salmon fillets
Green onions, to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 400.

Lightly brush both sides of salmon with olive oil.  Season both sides with cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's).  If cajun seasoning isn't your thing, just season with sea salt and pepper.  Obviously the cajun seasoning will be a little spicier and pack a bit more flavor, so choose as you wish!  I also squeezed half a lemon over the top of the salmon before cooking.  

Cook for 12-15 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.

While salmon is cooking, prep the lemon cream sauce.

In a small saucepan, add lemon juice, broth, and heavy whipping cream.  Heat on medium high and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove lid and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes on high heat to reduce the sauce.

Pour sauce over cooked salmon (to taste) and top with chopped green onions.  Squeeze a little fresh lemon over the fillet to top it all off. 



We eat salmon at least 2-3 times a week so I'm always on the hunt for news ways to cook it.  We'll definitely be trying this again!  The sauce was the perfect compliment to the seasoned salmon and made for such a delicious meal.  






Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gift Guides & Stocking Stuffers (101 Gift Ideas for the Holidays)

I always appreciate suggestions and ideas when I'm stuck and trying to finish up my Christmas shopping.  And if you're anything like me, you probably get "stuck" more often than not.  So I went ahead and made a few gift guides to help with that.  With all the Black Friday deals still in effect and Cyber Monday coming up, I thought we could all use a little inspiration and a few extra ideas.  

Happy shopping!



Let's start with stocking stuffers for the special men in your life.

1. Beer Soap - What man doesn't like the smell of beer?  And if you like it too, your special guy can smell like barley and hops everytime he gets in the shower.

2. Drumstick Pencils - If they're going to make those awful tapping sounds, we might as well help them look the part.

3. Gentlemen's Hardware Lip Balm - Any man can carry around chapstick, but a real man knows that lip balm is really where it's at.

4.  Leather Buckle Key Fob - For the detail oriented guys

5.  Man Can Candles - These Man Can candles...or MANDLES, as I like to call them...are the perfect accessory for any guy's digs. They come in a variety of manly scents so you're sure to find at least one your guy will love.  I mean, ANYTHING is better than the scent of dirty socks, right?!

6. The Bartender's Knife - Every guy needs a great knife and this one is great for making all of his cocktail dreams come true.

7. - Bourbon Empire - A great book all about the past, present, and future of the world's finest spirit (or so my husband would say).

8.  Bourbon Soaked Toothpicks -  I know this sounds crazy, but trust me on this one.  Found these at my new favorite store for my husband and these toothpicks are one of their top sellers.   Bought some for him at Nutcracker Market and couldn't wait 'til Christmas to gift them.  He LOVES them!

9. Scentbird Cologne of the Month - If your guy is eager to try new scents, this is the perfect stocking stuffer.  Only $14.95 per month to have a new travel-sized scent delivered to your door and you can cancel your membership ANY time thus making this a wonderful little stocking stuffer.

10. Whiskey Shave Soap - Making men around the world smell irresistible even when they shave.





1.  UGG 'Ascot' Suede Slipper - these slippers are amazingly comfy & warm...not to mention good looking, too.  

2.  Wooden Beer Caddy with Bottle Opener - I love this crate.  And it would be perfect filled with a variety of beer bottles or your guy's favorite beer.  And if you're gifting this to someone underage, soda bottles would be the perfect fit.

3.  Bluetooth Waterproof Floating Speaker -  this is a great waterproof, bluetooth speaker.  It can float in the pool and your guy can even bring it into the shower if that's his kind of thing.

4.  Amazon Echo -  this item is #1 on my husband's list.  The Echo is a voice activated wireless device that can control pretty much everything.  It would be number 1 on my list too if I could get it to control my husband's ability to clean the dishes ;)  If you want one, grab it now!  It's on sale and won't be in stock until December 6th.  Hurry!

5.  Tartan Scarf - great accessory at a great price point.

6. North Face eTip Gloves - Mr. Spouse loves all things North Face and these gloves are also on his list this year...love the eTip functionality.

7.  The North Face Aconagua Down Vest - y'all.  I love this one.  And it's such a GREAT price right now.

8.  Jerkygram - if you know a guy who loves jerky (and I honestly haven't met one who doesn't), a Jerkygram Man Crate is definitely the way to go.  SO many different options available that you're sure to find one perfect for your brother/dad/friend/husband/grandpa or even yourself :)

9.  J. Crew Twill Pajama Set - we gift each other new PJ's every year and this is the set I'll be gifting my husband.  I snagged them on sale and you can, too. They're 40% off right now.

10. Skybuds - if you're looking for one "big gift", this is the one.  These are wireless earbuds with great quality sound.  The battery life lasts for about four hours before recharging. Just make sure that you're gifting them to someone who doesn't lose small things very easily :)

11.  J Crew Abingdon Weekender Bag - if you love a travelin' man, he might love this bag.  It's a heavy duty waxed cotton canvas bag with extra reinforcements on the straps.  Great feature, great look, and right now it's a great price.

12.  Google Chromecast Audio - for only $25 right now, this little device can turn any of the speakers in your home into wireless speakers for streaming music.  Great gift or stocking stuffer.

13.  Portable Camping Hammock - a portable hammock.  Honestly.  Need I say more?!

14.  UGG Leighton Chukka Boot - this is the gift my husband doesn't know he wants.

15.  Leather Valet Tray - This leather valet tray is great for holding small accessories and it's from my favorite man store here in town.




1.  Niven Morgan Gold  Body Lotion - if you're looking for a lotion that smells all kinds of amazing and leaves your hands & body feeling silky smooth, look no further.  I was introduced to this last February by my best friend and I've been obsessed ever since.

2.  Knit Eye Mask - this is adorable and would be great paired with a robe, slippers, and a comfy set of PJ's, but it's great all on it's own and stuffed into a stocking as well :)

3.  Cozy Socks - cozy socks always make for a great stocking stuffer and they're even better when they're as cute as these.  You can grab them half off right now, too.  Lots of different styles from which to choose.

4.  Curl Boss Lash Essentials - this limited edition holiday eyelash curler is adorable & the mascara is great for a little holiday lash lengthning drama.

5.  The Makeup Eraser - I'm convinced that every girl needs one of these.  This removes all of your makeup with WATER ONLY.  It's completely reusable and good for about 1,000 washes.  The gift that keeps on giving :)

6.  Sugar Lip Crush Set - this is my FAVORITE.  Leaves you with a little color and A LOT of silkiness.  My lips are always SO soft when I wear this.  My personal favorite is Poppy, but they're all so amazing,

7.  Stuff Every Cook Should Know - this is another little something I think every girl should own.  I love this little book.   Great for seasoned domestic goddesses and newly independent college girls alike.

8.  Lilly Pulitzer Travel Umbrella - I don't always like bright and colorful patterns, but when I do, they're on an umbrella.  Makes the gloomiest of days pretty cheerful :)

9.  Plaid Infinity Scarf - perfect accessory at a great price.

10.  USB Leather Tassel Keychain + Charging Cord - okay, okay.  This is yet ANOTHER accessory every girl (who is always on her phone) needs :)  Just clip it on your purse and charge your device wherever you go.

11.  Nickel + Suede Leather Earrings - I absolutely LOVE these statement earrings.  Lightweight (because they're leather) and cute.  These have become my go-to earrings.  And there are so many amazing patterns and colors available.  (I wear the medium size)

12.  Flavor Infuser Water Bottle -  If you know someone who loves flavor infused water like I do, this bottle  is a must.


1.  Kendra Scott Elisa Pendant Necklace (Abalone) - I have a couple of these necklaces, but I don't have it in Abalone yet and right now it's my most favorite "color" :)  

2.  Kate Spade One in a Million Initial Pendant Necklace - I love initialed jewelry pieces and this one is great for layering.  It's also 40% off right now, so grab it before the price goes back up.

3.  Ray Ban Erika Classic Sunglasses - these are my most FAVORITE pair of sunglasses I own!  I have a pair of Ray Ban aviators that I really like, but I don't wear them near as often as I wear these. These are just the perfect style and fit.  And just like the name suggests,this style is CLASSIC.

4.  Oversized Sweater - this is the sweater of the season, I swear.  I have this and LOVE it.  It's the perfect oversized fit and is comfy as all get out.  Looks great with skinny jeans and over-the-knee boots, but it's also perfect with leggings and Ugg style boots, too.  I'm anxious to wear it more often when the weather gets colder.

5.  Olivia Burton Big Dial Mesh Strap Watch (38 mm) - this watch is high on my list this year.  I don't buy myself expensive watches because I just don't wear watches very often at all (isn't that what your phone is for?!?!?), but I fell in love with this one and am hoping Santa brings it my way this year :)  

6.  Vintage Women's Backpack - this might be one of my favorite things to carry EVER.   I love this backpack and always get so many compliments when I wear it.   I've been asked about this a lot recently after wearing it to Colorado.  It's the perfect size and it looks great.  It's really sturdy and can carry quite a bit without looking bulky.  I love carrying my DSLR in it when I'm on trips.  It's just all around the perfect backpack.  And it's such a great price, too (less than $30!!!!)

7.  Tocca Florence Perfume - this is, hands down, my absolute FAVORITE scent.  It's light, but stays on all day.  I went through this so quickly and now I need some replinishment.  If you're looking for a new scent, let this one be it.

8.  LuMee Illuminated Cell Phone Case - if you're looking to up your selfie game and give yourself a beautiful "glow" without the use of a filter, your phone needs this case.  Move over, Kim Kardashian.

9.  Kendra Scott Tessa Stud Earrings (Abalone) - again with the abalone, but seriously...such a perfect stud to wear with pretty much everything.

10. Vince Camuto Peera Cutout Bootie - these are my most FAVORITE booties!  I wear them with everything and they're so comfy.  And cute, too.  I have the gray pair and I personally think they go with everything, but they carry them in black and nude, too.   And I'm DYING over the current price.  
11.  Stella and Dot Quinn Cuff - love this bracelet for layering.

12.  White Knit Hat with Pom - this is the cutest cold weather accessory, isn't it!?

13.  Buffalo Plaid Pajamas - Dear Target...thank you for your Black Friday sale on these.  It was so great, I picked up the matching sets for the boys, too.

14.  Martha Stewart Basketweave Pom Pom Throw - this throw just SCREAMS cozy to me.  Not just that, but perfect to put on "display" too...a blanket ladder, draped over the arm of your couch, in a basket by the fireplace...just the perfect throw.

15.  Thalia Crossbody Bag - okay, y'all.  This is my current everyday purse and I love it.  It's a little bit on the bigger side, but not crazy bulky.  Fits everything I need and can be dressed up or worn casually. I absolutely LOVE it.  And it's available in black, too.

16.  TOMS Slippers - can you tell I have a thing for buffalo plaid?  If it's TOMS, it's comfy.  And who doesn't love cozy?!  Especially in a pair of slippers.

17.  Eat Like a Gilmore Cookbook - I LOVE cookbooks and this one is a MUST have...especially if you're a fan of Lorelai and Rory and all things Stars Hollow :)  But let's be real.  What we all really want for Christmas is the metabolism of the Gilmore Girls, amIright?!?!



1.  Emoji Uno - they don't have their own phones, but my boys are really into all things emoji right now.  Uno is one of their favorite games, so this version  will be making an appearance in the stockings this year.

2.  Whiffer Sniffers Scented Backpack Clips - these are the cutest backpack accessories...great for girls and boys alike.  They're scented plush backpack clips that are available in a variety of designs and scents.  This takes scratch n' sniff to a whole new level ;)

3.  Orbeez Color Pack - these water beads grow 100-300 times their original size when soaked in water and are so much fun for creating designs and fun games.  

4.  Mobi the Numeric Tile Game - this is a great game for helping kids to improve their numeracy skills or reinforcing their love of numbers if math is their "thing".  Mobi is great to play at home or in the classroom!

5.  Mini Monsters Scented Markers - in keeping with the scratch n' sniff theme, these mini monster markers are perfect for creative kids.

6.  Spider & Monster Dental Floss - how cute are these?!  Making flossing fun again for reluctant flossers everywhere.  I might need Santa to toss some in my stocking, too ;)

7. Creatibles DIY Erasers - moldable clay for making erasers.  I absolutely LOVE this set.

8.  Color by Number Emoji Pop-Art - again with the emojis, but emojis and markers together?!  I see nothing but a recipe for (quiet) fun ;)




1.  Kid Chef Cookbook -  such an AWESOME cookbook for little chefs.    So much more than just recipes...lots of teaching in this cookbook, too.  If you have a budding culinary kid you're looking to buy for, grab this cookbook and pair it with an apron and a chef's hat.  It's a MUST.

2.  Super Spirograph - here's a little bit of nostalgia to wrap up in a bow.  The spirograph on crack.  

3.  Fashion Plates Super Star Deluxe Kit - okay, so I don't have any girls of my own nor do I have any girls to buy for, so please someone grab this set for your little girl and let me know when you do.  My inner 12-year-old wants this for myself.  Why didn't I keep mine?!!?!

4.  ShaBOOM Board Game - this is a "who can do it first?" game that's perfect for the whole family.  Love games like these.

5.  VTech Kidzoom Smart Watch - how awesome is this?!  Lots of colors for both boys and girls. This watch would be a GREAT gift.  Pictures, games, it has it all.    And designed specifically for kids. Pretty awesome.

6.  Air Hogs Helix Race Drone - this is something that's on the boy's lists, but I don't know much about it.  However, it looks & sounds pretty cool.

7.  Surprise Ride STEM boxes - Aaahhh!!!  All the heart eyes for this product.   Pre-planned activities that teach while being fun and hands-on at the same time.  These subscription boxes include two hands-on activities, a book, a snack, and extras.  AMAZING, y'all. Seriously amazing.  Anything to get kids away from those dang handheld devices, right?!  But seriously, this is genius.  

8.  IDO3D Vertical Pen Set - this isn't on the boys' lists, but they're getting it because they will LOVE it.  These pens are the perfect tool for creating 3D art and can be used to draw straight into the air.  How cool is that?!  I seriously can't wait for them to get this because they will be SO excited.

9.  Bloxels - my youngest has declared he wants to be a video game designer when he grows up.  Well, bless his heart.  He can start with this set.  This is the perfect intro for him.  Hands-on video game development on both a physical and digital platform...and it was created with kids in mind.

10.  EzyRoller Classic Ride On - how fun is this sit down scooter?!!?!

11.  Brynx Balancing Game - this is a winner!  A fun balancing game perfect for the whole family or just a few players.  My boys are going to eat this one up.

12.  Crayola Emoji Maker - like I said before, my boys are going through an emoji phase at the moment and I know they'd love this.  Art and emjois...two of their favorites.



1.  His & Hers Coffee Mugs - these make me LOL!  Love a little laughter and head nodding with our morning cup of coffee :)

2.  My Family Cookbook - there's nothing better than a sentimental gift and this one is a MUST.  Perfect for storing family recipes and passing them on for generations to come.

3.  Scrabble Inspired Wall Art - y'all...these letter tiles are so awesome.  I have these hanging in our media/game room and everyone LOVES them.  This is a PERFECT family gift to give (and receive).  Such a unique touch to any room...absolutely LOVE the personalization.  

4.  Striped Tassel Throw Blanket - oh, sweet Nate Berkus.  You've done it again.  This blanket is everything.  

5.  Calamari 2.0 USB Cable - perfect accessory for the family with multiple devices.  An all-in-one charging system.  Lord knows we need this.  We have no less than 5 cords plugged in at any given time and I'd sure love this one to clear up the space!

6.  Polaroid Mobile Printer - a printer that prints directly from your phone.  Yes, please!

7.  Alli Pictures Personalized Family Illustrations - this is my FAVORITE!  Send in a picture of the grandkids and Alli will illustrate it. These couldn't be cuter.  An absolute perfect keepsake for any parent or grandparent...or anyone else you can think of.  I know my mom and mother-in-law would love one of all the grandkids together.  I'm going to have them framed, too. So excited about this one.




1.  Thermal Travel Mug - carry your coffee in style.

2.  Coffee Cargo Subscription - if you have a Keurig, or know someone who does, this is the gift that keeps on giving.  K-cups sent right to your door...different flavors and brands shipped to you each month.  I would LOVE something like this.

3. Mug Warmer - this mug warmer is perfect for the home or the office/classroom.  Just plug it in and set your coffee on top.  No more cold coffee.  Can I get an amen?!

4.  Hot Sox Coffee Socks - how fun are these for the coffee lovers in your life?!

5.  Coffee Duster & Stencil Set - Now you too can create those frothy designs atop your cup of coffee/cappuccino in the comfort of your own home.

6.  But First, Coffee - Slouchy Sweatshirt - everyone loves a slouchy shirt, but one that proclaims your affinity for coffee?!  Well that's a no-brainer.

7.  Saipua Coffee Mint Soap - bring the aroma of coffee into your bathroom with this coffee scented mint soap.  Taking your love of java to a whole new level.

8.  The Coffee Towel - this tea coffee towel is the perfect accessory to any coffee bar.

9.  The Curious Barista's Guide to Coffee - LOVE this little book.  The ultimate guide to the history, science, and community of coffee.

10.  Cinnamon Latte Espresso Beans - ohmiword.  I LOVE espresso beans.  This cinnamon latte version is heavenly.

11.  Sugar Coffee Sugar Scrub - there's just something about the aroma of coffee, isn't there?!  This scrub is made with coconut oil and infused with Arabica coffee beans.  Exfoliates and stimulates simultaneously and is the perfect addition to anyone's beauty routine (not just coffee lovers ;)

12.  My Cup Runneth Over - this is one of my most favorite coffee mugs.  Every coffee lover needs a good mug!



1.  Knock Knock Couch Guest Book  - this is such a clever gift that any hostess would love to have on hand.  

2.  Coral Liquid Hand Soap & Lotion Set - I personally think soap and lotion sets are great gifts to bring to a hostess, but they're also great for hostesses to have on hand when entertaining.

3.  Treat, Drink, & Be Merry Coaster Set - Every hostess needs a good set of coasters and these are amazing.

4.  Oven-to-Table Entertaining Platter - I absolutely LOVE this platter.   It can be heated or chilled to keep your food at the perfect temperature while entertaining.

5.  Red Wine Stain Remover - Yes, this works.  Don't ask how I know.  But I can tell you that every hostess needs a bottle (or five) of this in her arsenal.

6.  Gold Rimmed Textured Glass Pitcher - This is the perfect gift to bring to your hostess and the perfect pitcher to use while entertaining.

7.  Bottle Opener - A beautifully interesting bottle opener always makes for a great gift and conversation piece.

8.  Linen Tea Towel - I seriously need something like this in my kitchen because I'm forever searching for them online when I cook.

HAPPY SHOPPING!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Friendsgiving Printables, Food, Drinks, & Decor

Don't you just love this time of the year?!  The food, the friends, family...and did I mention food?!  We hosted our first annual Friendsgiving on Sunday and had the best time, so I wanted to pop-in real quick and share some ideas that can easily be used on Thanksgiving Day or even your own Friendsgiving!  So let's cut right to the chase because if you're anything like me, you're probably running a million miles a minute trying to get the house...and the food!!!!...ready for Thursday's festivities.  


I wanted the adult table to be festive and simple.  I bought a roll of kraft paper and ran it down the center (cheap and easy!) and then created a tablescape using white candles, tapered candles for a little heigth, and faux hydrangeas, pumpkins, and greenery.  Turned out so much better than I could've expected and it was SO simple and easy to do!  



I also set out these great little utensil pockets for a fun little touch.  I printed them on Kraft paper (you can find this at Hobby Lobby or Michaels) and then just assembled using scissors and tape.  SUPER SIMPLE.  I stuffed the pockets with a napkin, a faux leaf (snagged a bag at Hobby Lobby for less than a dollar!), and fork & spoon.  Done and done!  


Next up, kids table.  Okay.  So I know this is kind of ridiculous, but whatever.  I enjoy stuff like this.  I guess it's the teacher in me :)  I wanted our first annual Friendsgiving to be just as fun and special for the kids as it would be for us.  


I decorated the table with my blanket scarves.  Easy to just throw in the wash if they got dirty.


I found a packet of Thanksgiving place mats for the kids...they're all these different coloring pages and they were absolutely perfect for keeping the kids busy while everyone was eating.  The plates went on top of the placemats and I placed a couple of buckets of crayons on the table, too.  I found some cute turkey plates at Hobby Lobby (80% off!!!) and covered each with a napkin.  Then I placed a sugar cone filled with two bags of fruit snacks on eat plate.  Little CONEcopias, haha.  The kids LOVED them!  


The paper bag turkey legs were ridiculously easy to put together too.  Not only did they add a fun touch to the table, but they were a great little party favor for the kids.  They loved tearing them open!  I filled them with leftover Halloween candy :)  I needed it OUT of my house!  


I covered the juice boxes with brown construction paper (I just measured the width by placing the box on top of the paper...remove the straw!) and adhered a beak, a pair of googly eyes, and some colorful paper feathers.  My boys were obsessed.  


I found a little packet of seasonal paper strips for chain making (Michaels) and my boys loved putting together the paper chains the night before and then adding them to the table.  They were so proud of their contribution to the table decor. 



Speaking of kids, we knew they'd be anxious to eat while everything was finishing cooking, so we had the guys hide little paper turkeys outside and the kids had to go around and find all eight before they could come inside to eat.  The guys did an AMAZING job of hiding them because it took the kids FOREVER to find all 8!  Hahaha!!!  PERFECT!!  I found this darling idea from The Dating Divas.  Head on over to their blog to download for your Thanksgiving festivities!


Now let's talk food and drink...the real reason we were so excited for Friendsgiving!  Two Thanksgiving dinners in one week?!  YES, please!!!!

I wanted a seasonal appetizer to set out before our feast (in addition to several others!) so I made these roasted cranberry crostinis.  Verdict?!  Pretty tasty.  They were REALLY tart, so I didn't enjoy them as much as I thought I would, but they did get rave reviews from a couple of our friends. Bonus?!  They were REALLY EASY to make and the best part is that they can be prepared several days ahead.  

ROASTED CRANBERRY CROSTINIS

1 baguette (sliced into 1/2" thick slices)
12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
2 whole oranges
1/3 C. granulated sugar
Whipped cream cheese, to taste

Here's what you'll do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and slice the baguette into 1/2" thick slices.  Place the sliced on a baking sheet and cook in oven for about 10-12 minutes (or until they're crispy enough for your liking).

In a separate bowl, toss in cranberries, the juice of one orange, and sugar.  Stir to coat.  When cranberries are coated, place the mixture on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and transfer to oven.  Roast cranberries for about 25-30 minutes, remove from heat, and set aside.

Spread the whipped cream cheese over the baguette slices and top with the roasted cranberries.  I let mine cool overnight in the fridge.  When I was ready to assemble, I removed them from the fridge and topped evenly over the cream cheese baguette slices.

Zest the other orange over each crostini and serve!  

Again, they were pretty tasty..just a little too tart for my taste palate...but good nonetheless! A really easy treat to serve this time of the year.



 I really wanted green beans to make an appearance, but instead of the traditional green bean casserole, I opted for something a little different.  Brown sugar and bacon green beans. OHMIWORD.  Delish!


BROWN SUGAR & BACON GREEN BEANS

2 lbs. fresh green beans, ends trimmed
6-8 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled (or more if you love bacon :)
2/3 C. light brown sugar
2 TBSP. dijon mustard
1 TBSP.  minced garlic
Salt & peper, to taste

Here's what you'll do:

Cook beans in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Boil until beans are tender and easily pierced with a fork.  Remove from heat, drain, and rinse with cold water.

In a large skillet, cook bacon for 6-8 minutes and add in brown sugar, mustard, and garlic.  Stir to combine.

Toss the green beans into the skillet and mix to coat.  Cook for an additional 6-8 minutes or until the beans are thoroughly coated in the bacon/garlic/mustard/sugar mixture.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  

Y'all.  These were DELICIOUS.  If you like green beans and bacon, I think you'll LOVE these.  There was a definite sweetness (thanks to the sugar) to the side dish, but amazing nonetheless.  Why have I not had these before?!?!  They'll definitely be making an appearance again!!!


 Last, but not least, I really wanted to serve a seasonal cocktail.  When I found this one from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, I knew I found a winner!

CRANBERRY CIDER COCKTAIL

1 C. fresh cranberries
1/3 C. water
1/2 C. white sugar
4 C. apple cider - all we could find was the Tree Top brand
2 C. Ginger Ale
2 TBSP.  fresh lemon juice
2 C. cranberry juice -we used Ocean Spray
Vodka - to taste :)

This is actually a recipe for a simple punch (sans alcohol) and can be served to the whole family as is.  If you're wanting a cocktail, we added vodka, but I can also see this being really good with rum, too.

Here's what you'll do:
Combine the cranberries and water in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the cranberries pop open/split.  Remove from heat when split and stir in the sugar.

Allow the cranberry/sugar mixture to cool to room temperature.  We placed it in the fridge to speed up the process.  Once cooled, transfer the cranberries to a 2 qt. pitcher.  Stir in apple cider, cranberry juice, ginger ale, and fresh lemon juice.  Mix until combined and serve over ice.

You can add the alcohol to each drink individually OR you can mix it in before serving.  We opted to mix it in because we knew this would be an adult drink only.  I honestly don't know how much we used, but no one was falling on the floor and no one got sick, so I'm thinking it wasn't anything crazy ;)  However, it was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!!!  We will DEFINITELY be serving this one again.  One of our dear friends said that it's her new favorite drink.  Winner!!!  I think it would be GREAT with muddled mint, too!!  


Okay, so I think that's it!  Hopefully you'll be able to incorporate some of these ideas and recipes into your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving festivities, too!  


Gobby 'til you wobble, y'all!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Colorado Part 1 - Denver

We recently visited Colorado for an extended weekend of exploring and adventure.  Mr. Spouse had a bye week and we needed to get out of town.  So we checked the kids out of school early and headed for Colorado.  Colorado is...by far...our favorite place pretty much ever.  I never imagined I could love a place like I love Colorado, but I do!  And so do our boys!!  Saying this out loud scares my mom...I think she's waiting for us to tell her we're moving to the mountains.  Trust me when I say we've given it serious thought :)

We spent the first night in Denver because our flight got in late.  SO glad we did that.  The weather was perfect, so we walked down to Larimer Street, shopped at our favorite store (Overland!), and grabbed a late dinner.

WHERE TO STAY


We were only there for a night, but we loved everything about our stay...especially the customer service.   The customer service was out of this world!   Upon checking in, the concierge gave the boys beanie babies.  Nice touch.  Definitely started their trip off the right way.  The room was perfect and we stayed on the top floor.  We had the best view of the city.  

WHAT TO SEE
If you only have a few hours in town, be sure to stroll down Larimer Square.  The boys thought the hanging lights over the street were "sooooo cooooool".  Lots of cute restaurants and boutique stores...so not a ton to do for the kids, but they loved taking it all in.  



SUGAR FIX
If you have the kids with you...or if you really love candy...be sure to stop by Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop (on Larimer St.).  This was definitely one of the boy's favorite memories and we loved it, too.  SO.MUCH.CANDY!  And the neatest sodas to boot.  They carried a lot of old school candies and treats and Mr. Spouse and I had the best time taking a little trip down memory lane just looking at everything.  Most of their inventory was really unique.  This will be a must stop next time we visit, too.


Can you tell how excited he was?!



WHERE TO EAT
We knew we wanted something we wouldn't be able to have back home, so we walked until our feet were screaming at us and just happened upon Lucky Pie Pizza & Taphouse.


The weather was perfect, so we opted for a seat on the patio.  Great choice.  Service was amazing and so was the food.  

WHAT TO ORDER
If you love cocktails, I HIGHLY recommend the Cucumber Cooler.  AMAZiNG.  And went down a little too easy, lol.



Mr. Spouse and I started with a salad and an appetizer for the table.

The Hail Ceasar salad was good, but if you're not a fan of anchovies, choose a different salad.  I personally enjoyed it, but little anchovies were sprinkled throughout the dish giving it a really strong flavor.  That to be said, I ate the whole thing.  


We all LOVED the cheese curds.  Crisp and tasty....kind of melt-in-your-mouth gooiness.  Not a bad way to start our weekend of indulgence.



And for dinner?! A plain and simple pepperoni pizza.  Y'all...it was DELICIOUS.  There wasn't a slice left when it was all said and done.



IF YOU'RE A BREAKFAST PERSON...
One of the big reasons we stayed in Denver for the night was so that we could visit Snooze again.  We loved it so much last year and wanted our drive to Breck to start the same way this year.  And we knew the kids would love it just as much.  Once again, it did NOT disappoint! 


One of the boys' favorite features was the sidewalk cornhole available for them to play.  We only waited for about 15 minutes for our table, but this was a great way for them to pass the time while we waited.  Not to mention the fact that it prevented morning meltdowns :)



WHAT TO ORDER
The flight of pancakes.  Hands down.  The pancakes are to-die-for.  And if that's a little too "sweet" for your palate, be sure to order a side of hash browns, too.  I'm convinced they have the best :) 
From left to right...Smashing Pumpkin, Pineapple Upside Down, & Blueberry Lemon Struesel.  


While we waited for our meal, our server sent us a Smashing Pumpkin pancake for the table to enjoy.  So nice of her and let me tell you that we enjoyed it a little too much.  I couldn't come close to finishing my flight.The boys got chocolate chip pancakes and swore up and down they were the best pancakes of their life.  Hahaha.


And this is how we started our day :)  The Cosmonaut (iced) is my drink of choice.   Mr. Spouse started with an Mmm Mmm Mimosa. Delish.



Snooze finally opened up a place here in Houston, so the next time we're in town, we're heading to The Denver Biscuit Co.  We had so many friends and other people suggest we stop there for breakfast this last time.  The only reason we didn't was because we had talked up Snooze so much to the boys that they were not too excited with the proposed change in breakfast venue :)

OBVIOUSLY there's a TON more to do in Denver and a lot more "kid friendly" things to see and experience that we didn't even come close to tackling.  We were there for less than 24 hours and it was a great, quick stay.  This summer we plan on heading back and taking the kids to the Denver Zoo and we'd love to hit up Union Station while we're there, too.  SO much to do, so little time!!  

Tomorrow we're talking all things Breckenridge, Golden Springs, and a few fun places in between :)