Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A few of my favorite things...

First off, in full disclosure, I am totally ripping off my good friend over at My Lovely Chaos for the idea on this post. Hope you don't mind! ;) I've gotten some really amazing product recommendations from her including my new all time favorite household cleaner- Method All-Purpose Cleanser. I seriously love this stuff! Not that anyone actually needs a reason to go to Target, but I'll make trips specifically to get this. The Pink Grapefruit smells so nice, I would wear it if it was healthy!

This will probably be the one and only time I do this, since I tend to not be very brand loyal...I'm always positive that there is something better out there, but here are a few things that I've decided are worth sticking with. (And if you would please hum the tune to "These are a few of my favorite things" from the Sound of Music, that would be great. ;)

KIDS TOYS:

Playmobil: These are seriously the coolest toys ever. My husband grew up playing with them, and I've been completely hooked since Sam got his first set. They do have tons of tiny pieces (which is part of the fun), so they're not  for very young kids, but even Annaleigh loves these.  I also think they're one of the few toys that grow with kids, meaning Sam will still be playing with his for years. (Btw, Toys R Us is the only physical store that I know of that sales them.)They have everything, so they're perfect for girls or boys. If you don't believe me you can look here: http://playmobil-toys.net/ 
Melissa and Doug Magnetic Dolls:
Like paper dolls without the tears and cutting out!
Alex Bath Stickers:
I bought these over a year ago for $12 at Target. At 1.5 years Annaleigh liked sticking them to the tub walls, and Sam, now 5, likes making awesome cities. The bag they come in is super convinient for storage.


FOOD & DRINK:

Maxwell House International Cafe Hazelnut Iced Latte: I love iced coffee...it's probably my biggest food related weakness. I'm still working on finding a good homemade version that I love, but for now this is my favorite ice coffee mix. I've probably tried every brand and every flavor, and now, this is the only one I'll buy. They run around $2.70 for a box of six, so it's not totally economical, but it's cheaper than buying at Starbucks or even McDonalds.




Blue Bunny Chocolate Lovers Triple Chocolate Cake: I'm going to go ahead and assume that the name says it all. ;)


Simply Asia Ginger Teryaki Stir-Fry Sauce: With chicken and over white rice, this is almost as good as eating out.


Presto Poplight Hot Air Popper:  I'm a popcorn fanatic. This costs about $20, and is cheaper in the long run than buying bagged popcorn, plus it doesn't use butter or oil to cook the popcorn. If I'm calorie counting, I spritz it with a little butter flavored Pan and sprinkle with popcorn salt, otherwise they also movie theater oil that's really tasty.



Haha, well, I had a few other things, but this is taking forever, so I'm going to be lazy and call it quits for today!




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The new guy

Long story short: we got a new puppy.

Now the long story:

The logical smart side of Joel and I said that we should probably wait a few years to get another dog. Obviously we didn't listen to ourselves. For a while we've talked about what our second dog would be. We had two really bad experiences with rescue dogs (probably in main part because our kids are so young) so we knew for sure we wanted to start with a puppy. After our experience with Hailey we also knew that we never wanted the breed or size to be an issue again. So small, but not too small, and one known for being really good with people and kids. So after a lot of research that's how we ended up choosing a mini-schnauzer.  We've never actually owned one or even known one before. (A bonus we found out after choosing is that they hardly shed!).
I personally think the all white ones are the cutest, they just happen to be kind of rare, and because of this are usually the most expensive.  We found a breeder who didn't price on color so the one we got was cheaper than most, and was also only two hours away, which was closer than the others we found. We were planning on waiting to get him on Christmas, but basically, we would have to drive down there to put a deposit then again to pick him up, and the guy said he wouldn't hold him without a deposit, so  I drove out the very next day to get him to save ourselves a second four hour trip.
The kids had no clue, so we made a treasure hunt for Sam, with the final clue being him sitting in a basket in the garage. They were so suprised!

Now we just need to work on a name and potty-training!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Non-stop

I have pretty much been non-stop crying the last three days. We've come to the conclusion that Hailey has to find a new home (this conclusion based on the fact that she's not allowed to move onto base with us). Joel has finally stopped asking me why I'm crying every time I randomly burst into tears. Hailey has always been kind of a hyper-active dummy (the trainer we were working with told us that she's high-strung and high-energy for a GS, and GS's tend to be high-energy, high-strung dogs) but even so she's always been my baby. It's really upsetting not knowing where she'll end up or how her future owners will take care of her. Ack, I really love my baby girl, but short of sending her to a $2,500 doggy bootcamp, there is really nothing we can do now. :(

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rich Chip

 I thought today I'd share my very favorite cake box mix cake out there with you. This cake is amazing...so amazing that I only make it when we're having company over or I have to bring a dessert to an event. It's so good, I don't actually want the whole thing sitting in my fridge tempting me. I think part of the reason it's so good is that the person who first made this cake sat down and thought of all the ways to add calories to a cake mix. The cake iteself is so good though that I don't add frosting (although sometimes I sprinkle on powder sugar), so maybe in the end the calories even themselves out. ;) I do plan on one day trying the recipe with a Devil's Food mix instead of a yellow cake...I'm sure that would be amazing. I took a picture of mine (how do you like my new Walmart plates?) but trust me, it tastes better than it looks!


So here's the recipe and the link to the website it's from!

Vanilla Rich Chip Cake


Ingredients:
1 package (18 1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
1 package (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
1 tablespoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup miniature chocolate chips 


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed just to moisten. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes.

2. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.

3. Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack. Cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar or drizzle with Vanilla Butter Glaze (recipe follows), if desired.



Tips:
Test Kitchen Tip: To prevent chocolate chips from sinking to bottom of pan, reserve 1 tablespoon of the dry cake mix. Toss chocolate chips in dry cake mix before stirring into the batter.

Vanilla Butter Glaze: Mix 3 tablespoons butter, melted, 2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons water and 1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract until smooth. Let stand 3 minutes or until thickened. Makes 1 cup.




Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Weekend away and baby bumps

Well, the weekend was a lot of fun! The only problem was that I actually messed up the location a little, so we weren't close to Savannah, which sadly meant no all you can eat Paula Deen fried foods. :/ The hotel was nice, but it was a little chilly, and the place I chose was a little too up-scale in a way. It was a little lacking in character, but the beach was close and we were alone! It even worked out really nicely with daylight savings-we actually got to sleep in that extra hour!! I think next time we'll stay close to home...haha, oh I forgot, I told Joel that we were going to fly a grandma over for our 10th anniversary and go somewhere tropical. But other than that we'll try not to spend so much time in the car.
I loved the Spanish moss

In other news, I am officially pronouncing Annaleigh POTTY TRAINED. Exciting, and definitely in time, which is nice. Let's see...I'm also quickly passing from looking like I ate to much to looking like I'm pregnant. With my first, I kinda just looked fat for the longest time, so I appreciate actually looking pregnant...although depending on what I wear, most people would still not say anything at this point.
Here's me right at the start of the pregnancy, and then again at 11.5 weeks, so I'm even bigger by now (that was almost a month ago!)
 They are my last non-maternity jeans I can fit...I just can never wash them again. ;)

And this is a little random, but it really is crazy to me...between those two pictures, I actually weighed a pound less in the second. How in the world is that possible? I don't know. I can't figure it out. Joel thinks I'm making things up.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Seven!

Eeeep!! I am so excited!!! It's Joel and my 7th anniversary this weekend, and as part of his gift, I'm kidnapping him and taking him on a suprise overnight trip to Savannah. Best of all?? No kids!! Honestly, I am very impressed with myself for not spilling the beans. I am an AWFUL secret keeper. I had to make one clandestine phone call and when he asked me who it was I started to  laugh hysterically. It's bad. :P I eventually told him that I was asking Michael to come over Saturday morning to babysit, so we could go to breakfast together. I am pretty sure I have pulled it off though, mostly because we  have several things planned to do this weekend, so it's actually not the best weekend to be running off. I love it. I didn't get all the details planned out until yesterday, but my last minuteness actually paid off, because I got a really nice hotel at a great price ($80 after tax!). Gotta love hotwire!



Here's a picture from the hotel. I know their pictures are always way nicer than the reality, but the beach is very close, and that's all I want! (Although it's only going to be in the high 60's so too  chilly for swimming) We always go as budget friendly as possible (without the possibility of getting bedbugs) so Joel will probably freak out at first when he sees we're right next to the ocean. When we visited Charleston $80 got us 35 minutes away from the beach.:) It took me forever to decide whether to go three hours south to the beach or three hours north to the mountains, but the beach won me over. I decided mountains would be a fun change for the kids if we decide to do that later. Now all I have left to do is make a few hard decisions, like "do we go to Paula Deen's all you can eat buffet, or not?"

**And babe, if by some freak chance you decide to start reading my blog, you better act suprised!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat?

After a lot of debate on my part, we decided to let the kids go trick or treating on Halloween this year (well, technically, they went Friday). I know it's not something that most people would spend any time debating, but since Joel and I were never allowed to celebrate Halloween, it was a little tricky for us. I understand why many Christians choose to have nothing to do with the holiday (random side note, when I was little, my dad-then a police officer- was attacked when he tried to break up a group of Satan worshipers doing some ritual). Growing up, I understood why we didn't, but lets face it, there's really nothing more fun than dressing up and getting free candy, so every year was a little disappointing. :P  So anyways, long story short we let the kids go this year, with the understanding that we don't "do" the creepy parts of Halloween (ie, witches, demons, ghosts), sort of like churches have harvest festivals. I don't know if that makes sense, but at least in my mind, it's all very reasonable;) and the kids had tons of fun. Here are a few pictures of my cuties :)
Sam, one of the Transformers
Annaleigh, a princess fairy
my favorite picture!! I was telling Sam to act strong and Allie jumped in with this. So cute!


 
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