Oct 2, 2015

11th Anniversary Confessions

I confess....
Today is my 11th wedding anniversary and yet I'm feeling very crabby today.

I confess....
Normally on my anniversary I'm all gooey eyed and happy but today just crabbiness.

I confess....
I think it's because we aren't going out tonight for the first time ever. Ever. And 5 of our 11 anniversaries involved staying away from our kids or taking a vacation.

Last year we were in Myrtle Beach

I confess....
Why aren't we going out? Because all our amazing superstar babysitters are unavailable on Fridays in the fall due to football. Lesson learned, you need a babysitter who isn't a football player or cheerleader or you can kiss Friday nights goodbye in the Fall.

I confess....
I don't know how to snap out of my crabby mood.

I confess....
We are going away next month on a marriage retreat with our church but that feels like a million years away today.

I confess....
I'm pretty sure I just need to stop whining and get over myself and try to enjoy the day.

What are you confessing today?

Sep 29, 2015

7 Ways to Avoid a #PinterestFail when Picking Recipes

Anyone else here spends hours on Pinterest pinning recipes that you never actually make? We've all been there, in fact it's such a phenomenon that most bloggers like myself have a board for recipes we've actually made from Pinterest. 

Trying recipes on Pinterest of course leads to Pinterest fails. We've all been there. The picture looks amazing and you get hungry just looking at it. But then you make the meal and it either went horribly wrong or it was just OK and you'll never make it again.

I've had many over the years and I've learned from my mistakes. I'm much better at looking at recipes and knowing if it will be a hit or miss with my family.

1. Does the picture match the ingredients?
I was burned bad by a recipe that looked so good. It was a spicy sausage pasta so how could it possibly go wrong? Well it went way wrong. Beyond wrong! So bad that no one would eat it. Just the smell alone made me want to toss the meal without trying it. I went back and realized that the pasta the blogger claimed to be using in the pasta was different from the picture. There were other ingredients missing as well. Obviously she used a picture from another recipe, which was confirmed for me about a year later when I found the original recipe.

Next time you see a picture that looks amazing check out the ingredients. Do they match up? If not chance are you're not actually looking at a photo from that blogger. This is done often in copycat recipes, they photograph the real meal and then give their take on the recipe. I never trust those recipes, if you have a true copycat recipe on your hands you would photograph what you made not the restaurant.

2. Does the recipe match your taste buds?
I cannot tell you how many times I've clicked on a recipe and then saw the ingredients and knew I wouldn't like it. Great food photographers can make almost any dish look amazing. You'll never love a recipe if you don't like the ingredients. I know it sounds like a no brainer but it isn't.

For example I am not a fan of condensed soup, cream cheese, or sour cream. I can eat one of these if they are not the star of a dish. One of the three is OK but two are more is a no go. I cannot tell you how many recipes I see that use all three, casseroles and Crock Pot recipes being the biggest offenders. I know I will hate this meal no matter how great the picture looks. Skip any recipe that has ingredients you don't love.

3. Can you modify the ingredients?
I just said you shouldn't make anything if you don't love the ingredients.
Can you modify the ingredients to your taste? I saw a soup recipe that used ground chicken which I thought was really strange. I made it using chicken thighs that I shredded and it was amazing. A simple swap but without the swap I'm confident we wouldn't have liked it. When it comes to vegetables and fruits I look at recipes the same way. A pasta salad with olives? Nope my kids and husband won't eat olives so I swap them out for something else like red bell peppers.

4. Omit an ingredient
Why people like a crunchy topping on a pasta is beyond me. Adding sliced almonds on a pasta or bread crumbs on mac and cheese just ruins it for me. Just my personal preference that's all. When I see an ingredient that I don't like I just leave it out.

I'm known for eliminating or drastically reducing the amount of vinegar in asian cooking. I don't like vinegar but I understand that it severs a purpose in the dish. I just cut it down or omit it all together if the recipe calls for a small amount.

5. Check out the comments
Some blogs don't generate tons of comments. Most readers are mobile these and don't take the time to comment. However you want to see if anyone has made the recipe and came back and commented on the post or the pin. Ignore comments like "looks good." Of course it looks good that's why you click on it in the first place, you want real feedback. Plus when people modify recipes they will often leave how they modified it in the comments. You'll also see questions on how to make it too which is helpful when a recipe is vague.

6. Follow food bloggers you love. 
When I find a few recipes from the same blogger that I love I check out their other recipes and follow their boards on Pinterest. You already know you like their cooking style and that their recipes work which is 99% of the battle.

7. Know your limits. 
During the week I'm all about fast and easy meals. I don't have the time or the patience to cook for more than 45 minutes and even that is a stretch most night. I'm more of a 30 minute meal kind of mom during the week. I also know I'm never going to want to cook a recipe that has 45 ingredients or uses every pot and pan in the house.

So know your limits. If you can't make a roux or if makes you sweat just thinking about it, then making gumbo from scratch might not be a good choice for you. If you know you don't have the time to reduce a sauce by half and that you'll end of skipping that step which changes the recipe completely that is not the recipe for you. It's all about knowing your limits and choosing wisely.

I'd love to tell you that if you follow these 7 tips you'll never have a Pinterest fail again. But we all know that will never happen. These 7 ideas will help you pick recipes that are more to your taste which ups the odds that you'll like it.

Do you have any tips when it comes to picking recipes on Pinterest?

Sep 24, 2015

Breakfast Pizza Recipe

I am an avid meal planner and brinner makes the rotation often. It's a huge win for mommy since everyone loves breakfast in my family so there are no complaints at dinner. I don't know about you but there are days when I just need a peaceful dinner without any pleading from me to eat.

All moms of picky eaters know what I'm talking about. Besides I'm not much of a breakfast eater even though I love breakfast foods. I don't like eating anything heavy in the morning, I'm much more of a green smoothie person. Which makes brinner a great option for all the breakfast casseroles I love.

Or this breakfast pizza.

This recipe came about because I planned to make pizza for dinner but I forgot that I used the past of my pepperoni and there were no veggies in the house. And there was no way I was going to the store with 3 kids at 5pm.

Desperation is the mother of invention right?

So this family favorite was born one night when I was too lazy to go to the store. It's a versatile recipes, you can use any breakfast protein, cheese or add veggies. My husband likes it when I use bacon and sausage as the protein and add some bell peppers and onions. I sometimes get really fancy and add sauteed garlic and spinach to the ricotta cheese mixture.

It's really a recipe that you can just use what you have on hand. Which makes it the perfect pantry meal. I always have pizza dough in my freezer to pull out for a quick meal.

And some nights scream use disposable plates and skip dishes!


1 pizza dough
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 pkg Johnsonville breakfast sausage links***
5 large eggs
1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out pizza dough and place on a greased cookie sheet.
2. Bake dough for 10 minutes and allow the crust to cool for a minute before topping it.
3. Meanwhile place 7 sausage links in a food processor and pulse until it's crumbled. Add to a skillet and cook over medium heat until cooked through.

4. Combine ricotta cheese and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. In a large skillet scramble the eggs until they are almost done but still wet. The eggs will finish cooking in the oven and you don't want them to dry out.
6. Spread the ricotta cheese mixture over the pizza crust.
7. Add 1 cup of cheese.
8. Add the eggs and the sausage.
9. Top with remaining cheese. This will keep the eggs from getting too dry.
10. Bake the pizza for an additional 6-7 minutes until your pizza dough is cooked through.

Serve and enjoy!

***I bought several packages of Johnsonville sausage on sale so I used those in place of ground sausage. Feel free to use whatever sausage you want. I also browned the remaining 5 links for us to have on the side. My kids love sausage so I wanted some for the side too.

Sep 23, 2015

Benefits of Living in a Small House

I love the look on someone's face when they learn we live in a small house. Not one of those tiny houses you see on Pinterest that don't offer any personal space, this introvert would die. Just a tiny house in today's standards. A fact that is very obvious to me when I see a friend post that they are selling their 3,500 square foot house since their family of 4 has outgrown it. True story, and I almost peed myself laughing over the absurdity over that post.

My family of 5 live in a 1,100 square foot house.

Yes it's a small house. Yes we love our home. No we don't want something bigger, well most days at least.

You see there are some wonderful aspects of living in a small house.

My home is extremely organized. Now a large part of why my home is organized is that I have a seriously OCD husband who has a compulsive need to have things clean. But when you live in a small house you have to stay organized or you'll drown in clutter. With limited closets and no garage (seriously I don't know what NC has against garages) we have to purge the house often.

Yes when you live in a small space you're forced to get rid of stuff. New toys are coming with the birthday season and Christmas? Time to donate the stuff the kids no longer play with to make more room. You won't find clothes in my kids closets that are two sizes too small. We don't have that kind of space to waste. Of course this is what my house looks like during the changing of the season when I have to bring down clothes from the attic and switch everything out.

Actually this picture is pretty tame, it gets much worse. 

We are creative at creating spaces. One weird thing about my house is that we have a large living room and a tiny kitchen. You would think all the rooms would be small in a small house but our living room is very large, almost twice the size of our living room in our Vegas house which was larger.

We needed extra storage and reading space in the kitchen. So we turned the kitchen table and put it up against the wall to create enough space for a bookcase. Which we turned on it's side and topped with a patio couch cushion for a reading spot. Originally I thought this would be my special reading space, but there's always a kid on it.

We can clean the house in under an hour. Two summers ago I decided my kids' free ride at home was over. I spent the summer training them to do chores around the house like vacuuming and cleaning their bathrooms.


Now with the help of my 3 kids I can get the entire house cleaned in 1 hour. It takes 45 minutes if Brett's home. This is the best perk to living in a small house.

My kids play outside more. My kids are outside all the time. Since they can't spread out too much inside they go outside more. Plus I have a tendency to send them outside when they're bickering so I don't have to hear it. Being outside usually ends whatever argument they're having.

Yeah, they look like this often. 

Lower bills. Of course the cost of a smaller house is less but our monthly bills are lower too. It doesn't take much to heat or cool a one story 1,100 square foot house. Just don't look at my December power bill. My husband's Christmas lights display delivers the biggest power bill of the year to my door every January.

We do more as a family now. In Las Vegas we had more space and didn't feel the need to get the kids out of the house all the time. Now when the weekend hits we are looking for something to do to get us out of the house. I like that we are making more memories as a family.

Do you live in a small or large house? What do you think the perks are to your house size?

Sep 21, 2015

Fall Allergy Survival Tips from MinuteClinic

It's that wonderful time of year when the weather gets cooler and the leaves start changing colors. Ah fall, I love this season. But one thing about fall that I could live without is my seasonal allergies. Typically people associate seasonal allergies with spring, but there are more allergens in the fall. 

Nothing ruins the season changing quite like sneezing, coughing, and itchy, watery eyes. Thankfully there are ways to treat your allergies. I'm writing this post on behalf of MinuteClinic in exchange for a promotional item, all opinions are mine. 

Growing up I didn't have any allergies. Even after moving to a new city, I didn't have allergies. It wasn't until I was in my late 20's that I developed allergies. Only I had no clue that I had allergies, I thought I was getting sick from teaching. It wasn't until I went to my doctor after months of being miserable that I got the diagnosis. Did you know that an estimated 35 million American suffer from allergies and don't know it just like I did?

How can you tell the difference between a cold and allergies?

The main difference between a cold and allergies is that a cold is caused by a viral infection while allergy symptoms are caused by your body’s own immune system’s attempt to fight off an allergen.

  • Typically a cold lasts between 7-10 days. If your symptoms last longer than 10 days it's probably allergies. 
  • If you start sniffling and coughing at the same time year after year, and your symptoms come on suddenly, it may be allergies.
  • If you have a cough, it’s probably a cold. Most people with a cold will have a cough, but not everyone with allergies will have this symptom.
  • If you’re aching all over, it’s probably a cold, not allergies. Aches and pains are not symptoms of allergies.
  • Itchy eyes are a common symptom of allergies but RARELY occur with the common cold!
  • If you have a fever, it’s not allergies! A fever is sometimes present with a cold, but will never occur with allergies.

How can I protect my family and myself?

The best way to treat allergies is to avoid the allergen. Sadly this means spending more time indoors and not opening the windows to let the air in. While I love the feeling of having all the windows in my house open in the fall, I know it lets the allergens in my house. Keeping the windows closed will help while your allergies are flaring up. 

Fall is also the time of year when we start snuggling under blankets that have been stored away all summer. Make sure you wash your blankets before using them to get rid of dust mites. Clean and change air filters every three months to reduce the amount of dirt, debris, and allergens that you come in contact with everyday.

Allergy symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Nasal saline, decongestants and over the counter or prescription antihistamines may help relieve symptoms as well. At MinuteClinic, their nurse practitioners and physicians assistants can recommend the right over-the-counter medications and write prescriptions when medically appropriate. If you’re diagnosed with allergies, medication may help relieve your symptoms. 

Personally, I know I get through the allergy season better if I start taking my allergy medicine before my allergies start. I watch the pollen count online to see when I need to start my medicine. 

Don't let seasonal allergies get you down. Visit your local MinuteClinic for allergy relief. 

Sep 17, 2015

The ABC's of Me - Old School Blogging

I'm linking up today with Old School Blogging. Sometimes it's just fun to get back to my old way of blogging. Here are the ABC's of me.

A- Age: 36
B- Biggest Fear: Losing my husband. I have very vivid dreams about this and it always takes me a few days to shake the fear. 

C- Current Time: 3:09 on Thursday
D- Drink you last had: Diet Dr. Pepper
E- Easiest Person To Talk to: My Dad
F- Favorite Song: Currently it's "Brother." It puts me in a great mood and my kids rock out to it too. 
G- Grossest Memory: I woke up to the alarm clock and rolled over to kick my husband out of bed because I'm a loving wife like that. And then I felt it. Something was crawling on my cheek, right to my mouth. It was a cockroach! A nasty, disgusting, prickly legged cockroach.  On my face! My face!
 I'm still traumatized by the incident. It took me about a week to sleep again. Even after the bug guy came out and bombed the house (a total normal response BTW) I was still freaked out. 
H- Hometown: Houston, TX - Born and raised. Although I lived in Vegas the longest at 19.5 years.  
I- In love with: Brett, wine, cheese, and books. I'm still the nerd who loves a trip to the library more than the mall. 
J- Jealous Of: The woman who has the job I was supposed to have this year. She doesn't even want it which makes it even harder. 
K- Killed Someone? Only in mind in Body Combat. It's very satisfying mentally kicking the crap out of someone during body combat. I've never even so much as slapped someone in real life. 
L- Longest Relationship: sarcasm - we've been together far longer than my husband and I. 

M- Middle Name: Michelle. I've always liked my name, but hate that all three of my names have to spelled since there are different spellings. 
N- Number of Siblings: Two.  I'm in the middle, I have a sister four years older than me and a brother 5 years younger. Pretty sure my parents are crazy! 
O- One Wish: A nanny. I don't care that my kids are in school full time, I still would like some help occasionally. Especially in the mornings when everyone has to be out the door by 7:45 including a fully dressed, ready to teach mommy. My husband leaves the house at 5am so I'm on my own. 
P- Person who you last called: My brother. Now that we live across the country from each other we actually talk on the phone. I don't like to talk on the phone, text me please.  
Q- Question you’re always asked: "Are they twins?" Yes they're twins. Why else would I have two 5 years olds? Or two Kindergartners? Or two kids that look the same age and who call me mom so you know they're both mine.

R- Reason to smile:  Tomorrow is date night. We aren't going anywhere we do date night at home. It works for us. I have 20 ideas on date nights at home if you're interested. 

S- Song you last sang: “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere" Hey I teach preschool, I'm occasionally cooler than that. 
T- Time you woke up: 6:30 - It's the first time I had to be up this early since June and also the first time Molly slept past 6:30. Figures. 
U- Underwear Color: pink and lacy - and yeas I had to check. See when I woke up for why. 
V- Vacation Destination: Italy. I'd like to drink and eat my way through the country. 
W- Worst Habit: Tuning people out. I can look right at you and not hear a word. I have to take notes in church just to stay focused otherwise I will zone out and not come back until we are singing or the congregation laughs. 
X- X-rays you’ve had: teeth and foot. 
Y- Your favorite food: Cheeseburgers and sushi. I realize that together they sound weird but when I'm stressed I want a cheeseburger and sushi is my favorite meal to eat out.  
Z- Zodiac Sign: Capricorn. Although I think it's all hogwash. 

Sep 16, 2015

A Football Family

In our house football is more than a sport, it's what we watch on Sunday, and Monday, and Thursday, and sometimes Friday. My husband and I both draw the line at college football even though yes we do attend our neighbor's high school football games.

Baby's First Pro Football Game

Opening day in our house is a huge Sunday. Now that we live on the East Coast church no longer interferes with our football plans. I'm not going to lie, it's kinda nice. Right until the night game rolls around which ends way, way past my bedtime.

Every year we have a party to celebrate the beginning of a new football season. This year it was a neighborhood thing which was great. Everyone just came and went on their own and for once I didn't feel pressured to entertain the women who don't like football, they just went home when they got bored.

Now Brett's team is the Buccaneers and they suck so we don't ever watch them. This native Houstonian roots for the Texans and loudly. Here's my daughter explaining the rules to watching football.

 I just love that video! She looked so confused as to what could possibly be the third rule.

My kids don't watch the whole game. They usually lose interest by half time and go play in their rooms. So if you ask them the best part of football is the food.

This year we had the usual queso, salsa, wings, and pizza. But we had these adorable chocolate covered strawberries from Shari's Berries. This was my son's face when he was asked to share a bite of his strawberry. Yeah he didn't share, this kid never shares food.

My husband who also doesn't like to share chocolate loved them as well. Everyone loved them, they were the hit of the party. After all, who wouldn't like a chocolate covered strawberry that looks like a football? 

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