Saturday, December 13, 2014

Old Factory Candle Sets {Hand-Poured, Soy Candles}

This fall I was given the opportunity to try out some new candles. These Old Factory candles are hand-poured, made of soy and smell great!

There are many fun scents to choose from but being that it was fall, I chose the Fall Harvest set. They all smelled great, and right on point with their name! The cranberry especially smelled so good!

These candles smell great, burn for hours, and I love that they are made from more natural ingredients. They burn much cleaner than other candles, and I would definitely recommend them for your home!

 If you are interested in trying these candles, you can get them in your own home with just a few clicks on Amazon.

At $25 for the set I think it's a little pricey, but the quality and smell is great so I believe it's worth it!

Disclosure: I was given a set of candles for review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving Weekend 2014 {In Pictures}

Our Thanksgiving Weekend 2014 recap, mostly in picture form!..

Wednesday morning Kaydin had no school so that meant I also had no work. We stayed home and started on the Thanksgiving food preparations. But first we braved the falling snow for a bagel and eggnog latte.

In the morning we popped in The Boxcar Children movie. I read these books when I was a kid and loved them. About a year ago one of my co-workers graciously gave me her collection of the books. I was happy Kaydin loved the movie so much and was interested in reading the series, too!

More prep!

Finding out that the turkey smoker, aka my brother, Josh, can't come last minute because of work means that I pull a turkey out of the freezer at 9:00 pm Wednesday to get it thawed for cooking Friday morning. Thursday afternoon it was all thawed and I used an injector to shoot it up with a saltwater mi with liquid smoke. It all turned out well though! Not as good as the one he made last year, but pretty acceptable for my first time cooking a turkey, and on the fly not knowing what the heck I was doing.

Thanksgiving breakfast consisted of Crockpot Breakfast Casserole from Iowa Girl Eats, a little chocolate almond mix mixed with plain (straight chocolate milk is just too chocolately for me, never liked it), and the Thanksgiving paper filled to the max with all the shopping ads.

This year since we had no family dinner planned for the day of Thanksgiving, we signed up to serve at the homeless shelter. It was a great experience that I hope to be involved in again in the years to come. A big thank you to Sam and his team from Tacopacolypse for for preparing both meals for the day. (Sam is the bearded man in the background. Super cool guy! Look for him on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives later this season.)

More food prep for our Thanksgiving lunch for Friday.

Turkey pancakes for a quick snack Thanksgiving evening. She made em all by herself!

Kaydin got to do a little Thanksgiving shopping of her own this year. We tried tracking down the 52" bear she found in the Walgreens. After checking two stores and calling three more she settled for this 45" inch guy to add to her collection.

After an early morning of Black Friday shopping with Mom and Dad at Menards, Fleet Farm, and Wal-Mart we headed back home to have breakfast and finish making our lunch.

My first turkey!

Have to have a separate plate for the sweets so they don't touch the savory. :)

The rest of Friday was spent saying goodbye to Mom and Dad, cleaning the kitchen, washing dishes, sledding on the small hills and sidewalks around the house, walking the dogs and watching movies.

Saturday afternoon took us downtown for Disney on Ice. For the last several years it's been a Thanksgiving weekend staple.

After Disney on Ice we hit up Zombie Burger for a cheeseburger and fries. I chose one that included guacamole. So good!

After eating we had some time to kill before the skating rink opened so Kaydin suggested we stroll through the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. She had been there on a field trip before and was excited to show me around.

I had never been skating before and it was a first for Kaydin, too. A perfect evening with warm temps made it the perfect evening to try it out. I only fell twice...after being pulled down by Kaydin Baby falling in front of me and she fell too many times to count. But she did get the hang of it and did pretty well.

We had a new visitor show up at the house this weekend! An elf named Chica! She has been busy playing with Kaydin's stuffed animals, delivering new PJ's, and getting into the marshmallows. It's been fun to wake up every morning and see where she'll be next!

Sunday was spent packing away the fall decor, putting up the Christmas tree and other decorations and not getting out of pajamas all day. It was a great weekend that left me wanting just one more day to hang out, get stuff done and have fun with my family.

Now on to Christmas and other holiday happenings!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fabletics workout gear

I'm sure most of you have heard of Fabletics. Or at least seen their ads online. It's a workout clothing company founded by Kate Hudson. And they have tons of cute styles!

Plus, when you sign up you get your first outfit for a discounted rate. I signed up after I learned a little more about Fabletics from Ashley at Blend last summer. I ordered my first outfit and LOVED the leggings. It took me months to even try them on but they are awesome! Wish I wouldn't have waited so long. So comfy and they stay put. They're not one of those pairs that slips down and you're constantly pulling them up.

When Fabletics reached out to me recently to pick out an outfit from the new month's collection I was super excited! I jumped on the chance to get another pair of the Solar leggings. My current sports bras are getting a little worn so this was the perfect time to try a new brand. Super comfy and supportive!

The only con I see with the Fabletics service is combating my memory for either skipping your order for the month or picking out some new gear. See, once you sign up as a member you get a chance monthly to order a new outfit. You do have the option to skip months though if you don't want to place an order. But if you don't hit the skip button on your account by the 5th of each month, you will automatically get a credit. Which works for me, then I just have an excuse to order some new duds! The cranberry pullover and some new sweats were a perfect choice and like nothing I already had in my closet!

Give Fabletics a try if you are in the market for some new workout gear or comfy clothes. So many options, great quality, and really comfortable stuff!

Disclosure: I was given the opportunity to choose an outfit for free to try out. All opinions are my own. The link provided is my referral link.

Have you tried Fabletics yet?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pear, Blue Cheese & Honey Crostini

By now, I'm sure all of you have your Thanksgiving menus set. Although, I have just one more idea for you to add to your appetizer spread! This pear, blue cheese and honey crostini is easy, elegant, and most importantly delicious!

Pear and blue cheese is one of my favorite combinations. Those two ingredients on a salad menu plus pecans or walnut and I'm sold. Another way to get my fix of the combo is with this crostini! 

I made this for a snack a couple weekends ago when I realized I needed to use up my bounty of Trader Joe's pears that was crowding my countertop. As if there weren't already a hundred reasons to love Trader Joe's, they have bags of organic pears for cheap this time of year!

 Anyway, for me this was the perfect snack. For you, this could be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving spread. A no-cook, low ingredient option that your whole family will love!

 Pear, Blue Cheese and Honey Crostini

1 pear, sliced in small pieces
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 baguette, sliced and toasted
honey, for drizzling

1. Slice and toast baguette in a 400 degree oven for about 5-7 minutes or until toasted.
2. Add blue cheese and pear to baguette slices.
3. Drizzle with honey.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Creamy {No-Cream} Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Pie Crust Pieces

It's been really cold in Iowa the last week. Really cold. And as of this past weekend, we now have some snow to add to the mix. Little early if you ask me, but since we can't control the weather, we make meals to match it! :)

This chicken pot pie soup is the perfect meal to make while watching the snow fall in front of the fireplace. Warm, comforting soup with lots a nutritious vegetables thrown in.

I first got the idea for this soup from this post on Pinterest. We don't keep milk on hand very often (just almond milk) so I couldn't follow this exact recipe, but I loved her idea of the pie crust on top! I wanted to create a version not using milk or cream to turn it into a recipe using only items I already had in our kitchen. Turning instead to flour as a thickener, I threw some ingredients together and ended up with my own delicious no-cream version of a pot pie soup.

I pulled some homegrown veggies (plus some Trader Joe's celery) out of the fridge to chop up before sauteing them in some butter.

I didn't have the best carrot harvest this year, but these little knubs worked perfectly to throw into a simmering soup. Plus, I have some giving friends that shared their garden goodies with me this summer, too!

This soup is very forgiving in that you can add almost any veggie  you have on hand into your soup. Potatoes, parsnips, peas, green beans, chard, a couple small beets, all pair great with the staple soup veggies, carrots, onions, and celery.

Once you have your veggies chopped, throw them into a pot with some melted butter to soften. After they've had a little time to cook, add some flour to make your thickener base.

A few more ingredients, some time on the stove to thicken and come together and you have the perfect bowl of warmth and comfort with lots of good-for-you-ingredients in this mix!

Take your soup to the next level by adding some pie crust pieces! This is my favorite part of chicken pot pie so it couldn't be left out! Just roll out your dough, cut in 1-2 inch strips and brown in the oven for a few minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Pie Crust Pieces

1 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped and thick stems removed
1 cup celery
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat. I like the nuttiness and texture it adds)
3 chicken thighs, cooked in small crockpot and shredded
3/4 cup drippings and broth from chicken
5 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tbsp garlic powder (or fresh chopped garlic)
few tbsp fresh herbs such as thyme, basil, oregano (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pie crust, rolled out and sliced in 1-2 inch strips

1. Cook your chicken in a small crockpot on low for 6 hours the day before. Store the chicken in the fridge and save the broth and drippings that collected.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degree. Chop all veggies.
3. Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add chopped veggies and cook for about 10 minutes.
4. Add flour slowly, whisking the whole time to create a roux.
5. Slowly add the water and stir constantly. Also add the chicken, drippings, garlic powder, and bouillon cubes. Season with salt and pepper
6. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and keep at a simmer, cooking for about 30 minutes until veggies are tender and soup has thickened. Stir occasionally.
7. While the soup is simmering, roll out dough and cut into 1-2 inch strips and lay on a cookie sheet. Bake pie crust pie pieces for about 12 minutes or until golden.
8. Add herbs to the soup, if desired.
8. Ladle soup into bowls and top with pie crust pieces.

Note: Obviously, you don't have to cook your chicken in the crockpot like I did. But that helped cut down on hands-on time needed the night of. You could also poach your chicken and use that broth in place of the water and chicken bouillon.