Friday, April 26, 2013

Influenster Sugar & Spice Box




I've been wanting to share these awesome products with you since the middle of March but my blogging hiatus, travel, birthdays and just general busyness has kept me from getting to the computer.  I find that balance blog and home and can be tricky and I always like error on the side of spending more family time!

The good thing about this is it's given me a chance to try out these great products!

My favorite item in this box has to the the Vaseline Spray & Go lotion.  At first I was a little confused at lotion in a spray bottle but one use and I was hooked!  My favorite thing about this is you can travel with it without worrying about it spilling or getting all over your luggage!  To apply simply spray it on and rub it in!  The only advice I have is to spray it everywhere you plan to use it and then rub.  I found the nozzle a little hard to press once I had lotion on my hands.  The smell is great and it is light and very moisturizing.  This is a must have for traveling!


My boys favorite item was the BelVita breakfast bars.  I got one bit and then they were clamoring for the rest of it.  I didn't even get a picture of them eating they made such quick work of it!  I shy away from these types of things because I don't eat grains but I loved the taste and it is low in calories which I like if I am going to indulge in something grainy and yummy!  This is a great product for adults and kids.

I'm a black coffee drinker but occasionally like to have a sweetened cup.  The Nectresse sweetener is perfect for that.  I found one packet to be more than enough for a cup of coffee that wasn't overpowering and didn't taste artificial.  Nectresse is an all natural sweetener which I like since we try to avoid sugar in our house.  I'll definitely be using this again when I treat myself!

Another travel item you need to snatch up is the Dickinson's Oil Controlling Towelettes.  I have to admit I was very skeptical about trying these.  I don't know about you but both of my Doctor's had me use witch hazel to help recover from childbirth.  It's very soothing but has a distinct smell.  I thought the smell might be a turnoff but I was pleasantly surprised!  The smell wasn't overwhelming at all!!  My favorite thing about these is that they are individually wrapped.  Perfect for taking to the gym, keeping a couple in your diaper bag or even traveling.  I love these!

Last but not least was a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash from Colgate.  These are all apart of their 360 Optic line.  This is my favorite toothbrush I've had in a long time.  I feel like it reaches all my teeth well and I love the tongue scrubber on the back.  The toothpaste is a whitening toothpaste and although I am probably ruining it with all my coffee drinking after a month of use I feel like I can see a difference.  I've used the mouthwash a couple of times but I found it to be very spicy for my taste!  I couldn't use it for the entire recommended time.  It didn't taste bad, just strong.

I hope this will help you find some new products that you'll be able to use!  I will definitely be using the lotion and the facial towelettes from now on!!

Thanks to Influenster for giving me the chance to try and share these great products!!  Opinions are all my own and I wasn't compensated to do this review.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Asparagus--April Vegu-cation


I am so excited to be posting today!  In an effort to eat more veggies I'm participating in a blog circle with other food lovers!  Each month we'll feature a new veggie and hopefully help you find some new and yummy recipes in the process!!

This month the vegetable was asparagus.  We like asparagus at our house and usually I just roast it in the oven with a little bit of olive oil and sea salt.  But I wanted to try something different.  I've made a couple of roasted veggie soups lately and I decided to give it a try with this ingredient as well.  I think I might want to tweak the recipe a bit but I really enjoyed this soup.  I would definitely make it again which is usually my test for whether or not to share a recipe!

Asparagus & Spinach Soup

1 bunch of asparagus
1 onion sliced
sea salt
4 cups of broth
2 cups of water
1 8 oz package of spinach
3 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste

This is a quick and easy recipe!  To start, trim your asparagus.  If you've never worked with it before, you'll want to cut off the white part at the base.  Leave the funny looking top part, it's yummy.  After you've trimmed it set it on a cookie sheet.  Cover it with the sliced onion and drizzle it all with olive oil and a little bit of sea salt.  Roast at 450 for about 5-7 minutes.

While the veggies are roasting combine your stock, water, spinach, lemon juice and red pepper flakes in a dutch oven or large pot.  If you do not like spice start with a smaller amount of red pepper flakes.  You can always add more later.

Transfer your onions and asparagus to the pot.  Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 20 minutes with the lid on. Make sure you do leave the lid on.  Otherwise your soup with evaporate away!

If you have an immersion blender the next part is easy.  Just blend the soup in the pot!  I do not have one though so I blended mine in batches in the blender.  Be careful doing this.  If your soup is too hot it will spew out the top of your blender.  I've read this before and I didn't believe it and I was wrong.  Ha!  

Transfer your blended soup back to the pot.  Add heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste.  If you are like me you might like a stronger lemon taste and you could add an additional tablespoon of lemon at this point as well.  Just remember to taste as you go!  Simmer for 10-15 minutes and you are finished!!

The next time I make this I think I will also add a can of artichoke hearts.  I love lemon and artichoke and I love lemon and asparagus and I think the combination would be great.  I tried it with different cheeses (because I love to top soup with cheese) but didn't really find one that meshed with the taste.  Any ideas?

Now it's time for you to circle around to the other bloggers to see what they've cooked up!

Start here with Trisha at Eat Your Beets!!




WIWW--The "I Love My Hot Rollers" Version

Welcome back to another version of "look at my outfits in horrible lighting". Next week's goal--move the mirror. Geez!

So...after doing this for a few weeks I have realized the following.

1. 90% of my closet is from the Loft
2. I always dress the same
3. I think I might have a "style" and I like it
4. I need a hair makeover

Those may seem like funny things to realize but hey, that's ok!

I've realize I dress predictably. I don't think it's boring because how boring can neon yellow shoes be? However most of my outfits are similar. I need to learn to mix it up a bit.

This week I went out to find clothes for the baby. Instead my Instagram friends helped me pick out these mint-ish green pants. The vote was unanimous so there you have it. The chambray shirt was a no go--too short. But I was proud of myself for stepping out of my t-shirt and cardigan (my daily uniform) rut and trying something different.

Also pictured below...
Navy Striped Sweater--Loft
Red Cords--Loft
Silver shoes--Nine West

Mint Pants--TJ Maxx
Chambray Shirt--TJ Maxx
Awesome Hair Day--my hot rollers

Grey Cardigan, Neon Striped T, Boyfrirnd Jeans--Loft

And the the running shorts. They finally fit again after having baby 2. The big question is should I start using them again?!







Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How To Make Modeling Chocolate

A few years ago a friend and I took the cake decorating class at Michael's.  I have to admit that I thought I would be WAY better at cake decorating.  I found it to be challenging and somewhat frustrating.  I consider myself artistic and so I thought it would be like painting but just on a cake.  Not so much.  

Then another friend introduced me to the world of modeling chocolate.  And all of the sudden I love decorating.  If you can make it with playdoh, you can make it with modeling chocolate.  The taste however is far superior!

What You'll Need

4 Tbsp corn syrup
7 oz of white chocolate chips
I bought these at Michael's.  I'm sure you can get them at most craft stores.  And if you can't find them you could use white chocolate chips.  You do want to make sure you have 7 oz though.  I don't have a scale so I figured it out by making piles of chips.  Basically you need about 77 of these nickel sized chips.

That's it!  

Start out by making sure you have the right amount of chips.  Put them in a microwaveable bowl.  You can use a double boiler to melt the chocolate but I find if you are careful you can do it in the microwave.  I melt mine 15-20 seconds at a time.



After each turn in the microwave take the chocolate out and stir.  Don't overcook!



When the chocolate is finished add the corn syrup.  It will pool on the top and the more you mix it the harder it will be.  Keep mixing until your mixture resembles a ball.  


You'll know it is finished when all of the chocolate comes up from the sides of the bowls.  I used a white bowl so you can see how all of the chocolate clumps together.  Make sure the corn syrup is mixed in the whole way and then stop mixing.


Put your chocolate in a plastic bag and let it sit overnight.  I placed mine flat like this but next time I'll leave it in a ball.  The edges got too dry.


You can use the colors that are available or you can mix your own.  I made the grey colors by mixing white, black and blue.  Just make sure you put the correct number of chips in.



After you've let your chocolate sit overnight take it out of the bag.  Now you can mold it into whatever you want!  If it becomes too hot it will get hard to work with and won't want to stick.  If that happens just pop it into the refridgerator for a bit and it will harden up again.  You can also store any extra in the freezer.

This is easy to mold and tastes MUCH better than fondant.  You can roll it out thin and cover a cake or use it to make figures.

Here are the cupcakes and smash cakes I made for each of the boy's first birthday



The large airplane is made from rice krispie treat and then covered in the modeling chocolate.


The whale and the yellow decorative balls are modeling chocolate.  Those were the first thing my little one went for!


Airplane Cupcakes


These are the airplanes that are on the cupcakes



Blues Whales



This is a great way to make great looking cupcakes at home!  






Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday's Miscellany

Linking up with my friend Carissa today!


It has been a whirlwind of a month for us and it's not over yet!  Everything has been fun but we have been so busy!  I'm trying to be more organized in my cooking and preparation so that life isn't as hectic when we are busy.  This is an easy 2 ingredient crockpot recipe that we added to the mix recently!


Green Tacos

1 can of green salsa of your choice
chicken

That's it!  Pour the salsa over the chicken and let your crockpot do it's magic.  I used 4 chicken breasts and 1 jar of salsa and it was enough for 2 or 3 meals.  Depending on the size of the jar you could probably only use half for 4 pieces.  This is one that you really can't mess up so just experiment!  I think it would be delicious with red salsa as well!


* * *

One of the hardest things about military life is living far away from family.  Seeing extended family becomes even more difficult when you combine the distance and a baby!  This cutie was named for his late Grandpa so it was imperative that we visited my sweet Grandma!  We traveled from Seattle to the Pittsburgh area and back in 4 days.  I got to spend time with my parents, childhood friends, sweet sorority sisters and of course my Grandma.  I'm so thankful we had the opportunity to do this!  This is 4 generations right here.  I think I'm looking more and more like my Dad and the Littlest Guy looks more and more like his!

* * *

To add to the excitement of the month we are celebrating one year with our sweet little man.  I can not believe he is already that old.  It seems like time went much quicker with him than with my first.  I like to tell him #slowyourgrow


* * *

I don't consider myself particularly crafty.  I'm artsy but not crafty.  I wish I were crafty.  Thankfully cupcake art it more artsy than crafty.  (How many times can I saw those two words in one post?)

My dear friend Allison taught me all about modeling chocolate.  It's your new best friend.  Anything you can do with playdoh you can do with modeling chocolate.  And you can eat it too!


These little guys were easy to make and taste great too!  I'll have tutorial up later this week on how to make things out of modeling chocolate!

* * *



These are my favorite sippy cups.  They are small, easy to use and plain.  I'm not really into characters and such so these were perfect for our house.  And suddenly they don't make them anymore.  Grr!!!  If I ever see them I'm going to buy like 300 so I'm set for the rest of my life.  If YOU see them will you please buy them for me?  I'll love you forever!!

* * *

Speaking of buying things....someone needs to have a talk with all of the children's clothing store buyers.  We've had shorts out for MONTHS here in the PNW and it is still COLD!!  This happened to me last year and I should've been more prepared but my kids are ready to move up a size but they need to move up in cold weather clothes not in warm weather.  Maybe next year I'll learn!

Hope your Monday is fabulous!!!



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Let Him Eat Cake


I almost didn't make a smash cake but I'm so glad I did!  I was happy with how this turned out since I haven't decorated a cake in over two years!  I made the whale and the yellow balls out of modeling chocolate and the rest is homemade buttercream.  Reed went straight for everything yellow on the cake.


He isn't quite sure what is going on yet.  You can't see it but his little outfit had whales on it.


Chowing down on the yellow balls.  


Desperately trying to get the yellow party hat off of the whale.  Clearly the chocolate was distracting because it took him awhile to get to the actual cake.


This picture cracks me up.  It looks like Reed is saying...Mama...what is my brother doing...why is he in the background being so crazy when I'm just trying to enjoy my messy cake.  The Little Guy wanted to eat this cake SO badly!  


Cake makes him happy!

But Why is All The Cake Gone?



Just had to share this funny shot before I go to bed!  We had a wonderful day celebrating this little man and he didn't disappoint in the cake eating.  Surprise surprise...I mean, no one in this family likes sweets.  *read sarcasm here*

We had a perfect day surrounded by friends and even had a little bit of sunshine.  I'll be posting more pictures of his cake as well as a modeling chocolate tutorial.  If you follow me on instagram (storybook_reality) you've seen the little whales that I made for his cake and cupcakes.  They are super easy and fun to make!

I can't believe my baby is one already!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tulip Festival Family Pictures


Daffodils are one of my favorites


I couldn't get him to look at me no matter how hard I tried


My 3 men


There they are again!


Little Guy on the "hayride"


Little Guy hiding out in the tuips


This was the best family shot we got.  


But this one is a keeper!


Already a pro walking in his little shoes


Loving on Daddy


Can anyone tell me what the children are doing on the back of this machine?  It was the strangest thing!


Can you spot the bird's next?


My sweet Littlest Guy


Both of my buddies

We had such a wonderful time!  Hopefully we will get to take Peter's parents when they come to visit next week!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Right Way To Fail

If you are going to have a baking fail this is a good one to have.  Why?

A. I now have to clean my oven.  Probably...no definitely needed to be done.

B. Yum!  There was so much crispy angel cake yumminess sticking to my oven and we couldn't let it go to waste!

C. Lots of laughter.  Cause laughter is good medicine.  And so is cake.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

WIWW--Throwback Version

I continue to fail to take high quality pictures of my outfits. However I have actually gotten dressed everyday this week so that counts for something right?!?

Repeat offenders this week include my fabulous neon yellow shoes from Nine West and my Everyday Icing necklace. Clearly I can't get enough of these.

My pink pants are from TJ Maxx and the leopard print shirt is LOFT. I can't decide if I love this outfit or if it is too over the top. What do you think?

My purple tunic-ish top is from Ross and the brown leggings are from Walmart.

And oh wait what is this fabulous picture?!?! Yeah, I found that gem at my Grandma's house last week. Clearly I was destined to become a fashion maven. I mean look at that fabulous grosgrain belt and those shorts that are big enough to fit some 9 feet tall. I was one fashionable middle schooler!!

I think my new goal will be to include a picture like this each week!

**linking up with The Pleated Poppy









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