Friday, May 28, 2010

3 Day Weekend

Are you as excited as I am about a 3 day weekend? 
I love it whenever my husband has more then just Saturday and Sunday off. We always enjoy being together as a family so when holiday's come around we get excited.
I saw this recipe and wanted to share it with you as a thought for the weekend. Appetizers are always a great crowd pleaser while waiting for the main food to be served. I have made a dip similar to this before with taco seasoning added to the sour cream. You could always add it the sour cream in this recipe and I think it would add a little more flavor. You gotta let me know if you try it.
Southwestern Layered Bean Dip
  • 1 16-ounce can fat-free refried beans preferably spicy
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans rinsed
  • 4 scallions sliced
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeƱo slices chopped
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 medium tomato chopped
  • 1 medium avocado chopped
  • 1/4 cup canned sliced black olives (optional)


Combine refried beans, black beans, scallions, salsa, cumin, chili powder and jalapeƱos in a medium bowl. Transfer to a shallow 2-quart microwave-safe dish; sprinkle with cheese.
Microwave on High until the cheese is melted and the beans are hot, 3 to 5 minutes.
Spread sour cream evenly over the hot bean mixture, then scatter with lettuce, tomato, avocado and olives (if using).

On Monday I shared with you a little bit about my sister moving away. Her husband has this amazing opportunity to start a new job in Baton Rough, Louisiana. If you know where I live then you know that it is a long ways away from here. 
So as you can see we will not be seeing each other as often as we do now.
The move has come on pretty quickly and they have been told they will need to move by July.
They have already been in search of a house and have found one! Yay--that is a huge answer to prayer. And from what I hear the place with be perfect for them.
As you can see this is an exciting opportunity for them but still very sad to see them go. I didn't think I would grow up and live so far apart from sisters and family. But we gotta do what we gotta do and I completely understand that you can't always live in the city you grew up in.
So when you think about us say a pray for her and me as we prepare for this big change in mine/hers/ and our boys lives.

Hope you all have a great Memorial Day Weekend!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday Already

As Monday morning rolled around this week I have to be honest--I was dreading the week. I think it was for numerous reasons--that seem so petty now.
Now hear me out--I was not dreading the week with my children or my husband--it was the week in general.I wasn't taking one day at a time but looking at it as a whole. Still-- this isn't something to brag about. I know am being way to honest but there is a point to this.
And you have to admit there has been a week or two in your life that you sorta dreaded. So don't make me sound soooo bad.

Don't take this post as a meltdown or call me a nut case...Because I can assure you I am far from both. 
 It is that I realized early on--thankfully-- that I was being completely selfish. I needed a change of heart and I needed it fast. My priorities needed to change and I needed to just enjoy the time I had with my children and give thanks for all I have been given.

And now, I can't believe it is Thursday. We have had rain everyday at our house but we have made the best of those times. The boys have had a chance to get out and run off some energy and now today, the sun is shining. All those little petty things have gone away and to me nothing is more rewarding then being a stay at home mom/wife. I am so thankful that I was reminded this early on in the week and was able to get my act together with God and my family. It is amazing how we can become so overwhelmed at small and very unimportant things. I refocused my thoughts, my prayers, and thankfully I was brought back to reality that life may not always be fun, we may not always have something planned everyday to go out and do but it will be ok. Cherish those quiet times with the kids and don't be so uptight about the laundry and a clean house.

God had a plan for me this week. It was to get right with him.
Let me share with you real quick about our house--Each week we show our house on an average of 4-6 times. If you didn't know before you know now that we are trying to sell it. Not the best time to sell but we are giving it a shot. This week our house hasn't shown once. Which I honestly feel like it was God giving me a break from having the house perfect everyday. I will kick it in first gear today and get it ready for the weekend but I am thankful for this little break we were given from having to pick up and leave at a moments notice.

I say all this to say, I am not perfect, I have flaws, I make plenty of mistakes in my childrearing, and I'm not always right (which I will admit.) But I have a loving and gracious God who was patient with me and guided me as the necessary changes took place.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
       - Philippians 4: 4-7


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Creative Office

Most of us don't have a room dedicated solely to a home office. Or at least I should say "We Don't Anymore". You know--as the the little ones come along rooms and space get turned into "other" spaces. In spite of our limitations, we still want our homes to be attractive, personal and inspiring. So, if we are short on space and want to keep our expenses low, how do we manage to have a well-organized office and still have our homes look great? In doing some photo research, I came across a few photos of some clever home office organization ideas I thought I’d pass along for inspiration.
Desks can be expensive, but you can make your own to suit your needs. My own personal desk is actually two file cabinets with a desktop for a surface.
Like this one below 
(Picture from Potterybarn-Desk from Potterybarn)
I find that works well for me, and is definitely something you could make on a budget. Even old ugly file cabinets can be spray painted to give them a fresh look. Another suggestion is to buy or find table legs to attach to an old door. Or, use an old table fixed up with a new paint color. Instantly personalized desks!
 Like this one
(Better Homes and Garden)
Similarly, you can take several old file cabinets and give them new life with paint and new knobs. Instant credenza! Or, find an old dresser and give it a fun new paint job. Dressers are perfect for extra storage just about anywhere, including your home office! Frame a white board with wood to create your own custom message area.
With a little color coordination and creative storage containers, you can store office supplies right out in the open in just about any room of the house. You can cover storage boxes or even shoe boxes with paper to coordinate to your decor. Baskets also work well to corral papers and supplies.
Or, use tables with skirts or curtains that coordinate with your decor to help hide some of the clutter. Find wasted places under counters, shelves, or tables to claim some space for storage. Perfect “creative concealments!”
In small quarters, you can utilize any corner to hide some supplies! A skirted table in a dining room can hide file cabinets or shelving, and a coffee table can be topped with cushions to create both a charming seat and a place to stash supplies. You can also organize a closet to contain your home office needs.

Finally, I wanted to share an adorable space I found. This was the ladies personal and functional office in a little nook next to a laundry room. She infused the space with her own personality, including a pretty accent wall in spring green and storage boxes and baskets that complete her look. She packed a lot of punch and usefulness in what could’ve ended up as wasted corner.Very cute!

photos: Pottery Barn

Visit here for more of my post on decor. Visit here for more of my post on organization.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memorial Day

As I started to feel better yesterday and this morning, food began to sneak its way back into my mind. Since I am feeling better I thought what a better topic then food for Memorial Day? My thoughts started racing with ideas but I wanted to keep it simple and budget friendly. After thinking about what recipes I could use I had to think--reality Krysten--reality...What are people really going to eat?
Well I know people will cook out, have some side dishes, and of course dessert.
Simple enough.
These are easy and tasty dishes that your family will really enjoy.
Stuffed Turkey Burger
Fruit Salad Delight
Apple Almond Salad
Frosted Fudge Brownies

Stuffed Turkey Burger
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
1 cup chopped onions and bell peppers(1/2 cup each)
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Mix ingredient in bowl. Add olive oil as desired to hold together and keep moist. Turkey tend to try out when cooked so the olive oil will help. Divide turkey mixture into 8 equal round sized burgers. Cook until done on grill or in stove. Approx. 5 minutes each side

Fruit Salad Delight
1 lg. can pineapple chunks or tidbits, undrained
1 lg. can mandarin oranges, drained
1 lg. can peach pie filling
1 lg. pkg. (about 12 oz) frozen strawberries, thawed
2 lg. bananas

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate. Add bananas right before serving to reduce browning. You can add any leftover fruit from the week that needs to be used to this as well. Chopped nuts can be added if desired. This salad will keep in the frig up to a week.

Apple Almond Salad
4 cups romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sizes pieces
1/4 cup diced dried apricots or white raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
4 green scallion onions, sliced

1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice

In a large bowl mix together romaine, onions, apricots, almonds, and apple. In a small bowl mix dressing ingredients until well blended. Drizzle over salad when ready to serve.

Fudge Frosted Brownies
1/2 cup Plus 2 tbsp butter
6 tbsp cocoa
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 all purpose flour

In medium saucepan, melt butter and add cocoa. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Blend in eggs one at a time and add vanilla. Stir in flour and mix well. Spread into an 8x8x2 greased pan. Bake at 350 for 25-27 minutes.

1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cocoa
1 cup confectionery sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecan(optional)

Melt butter and add cocoa. Mix in sugar and add enough milk to make mixture creamy, beginning with 1 tbsp milk. Increase milk by 1 tsp at the time. Add pecans if desired and spread over cooled brownies. When completely cooled-slice into squares.


Monday, May 24, 2010

{Good Morning Monday}

Where to begin... I am sad to say that I can barely remember most of my weekend due to the fact that I spent it in a fog. See, this past weekend I ended up with a sinus cold that was not fun. You all have had one a time or two so you understand what it is like to be a mom and be sick. It doesn't work for us, does it? 
This morning I am still trying to get over it but as for today I am actually aware of whats going on around me.

I am usually not the one to get sick, actually I never get sick. Until this past weekend... 
But my sweet husband was such a trooper and helped out tremendously.

I don't have much to write about this morning other then I am thankful for the Lord's timing on everything. Sometimes we don't understand why things happen when they do.
God is in complete control and he has a reason for EVERYTHING

I will quickly share a brief part of what I am talking about and then fill you in later this week.
My middle sister, Brittany, is moving away with her husband and boys. We are sad to see them go but I know the Lord has a special plan for them.
As of now they will be leaving the beginning of July. This doesn't give us long to spend the weeks letting our boys play while I help her pack. 
I know the Lord will make me strong for her during this time. 
Please say a prayer for us (and her) when you think about it!
I am excited for her family to have this opportunity and even though their will be tears as they leave they will be happy tears.Not happy to see her go, but happy for them...And they are excited about this so I am happy for that as well.
I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for them as they begin this next phase of there life.

As for now--Have a great Monday


Friday, May 21, 2010

Pumpkin with Cream Cheese Whoopie Pie

One last post on Whoopie Pies....

Inside the book is all these recipes for how to make the "cake part" of the Whoopie Pie.
As well as all the creams....Which as you can see, once you get the hang of it then you could make any flavor/kind you wanted.

My pick for today's recipe is-- Pumpkin Whoopie Pie with Cream Cheese Filling
These would be cute with little bows around them, served at a party. They would also be great in a little goody bag. 

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 f. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt, onto a sheet of waxed paper.
In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the brown sugar and butter on low speed  until just combined. Add the pumpkin, then the egg, beating well. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
Add the flour mixture and beat on low until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Using a small ice-cream scoop or 2 tablespoon scoop, drop about 2 tablespoons of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.
Bake one sheet at a time for about 15 minutes each, or until the cakes begin to crack an are firm to the touch. Let the cakes cool on the sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
Makes about 30 four inch cakes

Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups (one 16 ounce box) confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed. Add the sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium, beat until cream and smooth, about 4 minutes.

Add in between the cooled cakes and enjoy!

(Recipes by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell. Pictures by Antonis Achilleos)


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chocolate Buttercream Whoopie Pie

You might remember this picture from yesterday. 
(Taken by: Antonis Achilleos)
This will probably be most peoples first choice so I thought it would be a perfect start to the recipe collection for Whoopie Pies.

Classic Chocolate Whoopie
(The Cake)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening, and brown sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes. 
Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and 1/2 cup milk and beat until completely combined. 
Using a spoon, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the pies spring back when pressed gently. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Makes about 48 two-inch cakes.

(Chocolate Butter-Cream-the filling)
1 1/2 cups confection sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and butter, starting on low and increasing to medium speed until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt, and beat on high until smooth, about 3 minutes.

(Recipe and pictures by Sarah Billingsley, Amy Treadwell, and Antonis Achilleos- Whoopie Pies)


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making Whoopie

So you know I am not really going to talk about making whoopie?? I'm gonna talk about making Whoopie Pies. 
There is a BIG difference. 
But these will put a bounce in your step, put a smile on your face, and a song in your heart. 

About a week and a half ago I mentioned that I bought this book on my trip to Cape Cod.
I had never heard of Whoopie Pies until I saw this book and started researching them more. 
So now you ask--Whoopie Pies -- Is it a cake? Is it a cookie? 
It is a deliciously soft and sweet cream-filled snack that is the shape of a cookie but cake light in taste.
 The Internet is abuzz with recipes and stories of whoopie pie folklore, while customers everywhere are descending on bakeries in droves demanding these delectable treats. 
There is a new trend brewing in desserts that will be making its way to bakeries, weddings and event tables this next year. I'm calling it now--You heard it here first--

This adorable book—the only cookbook devoted entirely to whoopie pies—features more than 40 mix-and-match recipes. With a puffy cover as soft as cake, plenty of color photos and hand-drawn illustrations, dozens of DIY decorating instructions, fun facts and baking tips, Whoopie Pies will make a welcome addition to any baker's bookshelf.

Is your mouth watering yet? 
Do you want to know how to make these?
Follow me tomorrow and I will share with you some mix-match recipes.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Free LIVE Classes

Last year I had the opportunity to take some online photography classes as well as a photography class from Open Light Studio's. It kept me busy for a few hours a week last year while living in Savannah.The boys were obviously younger --Ethan took a nap still-- and Tucker was about 4 months old so he was still sleeping alot and not that mobile. It was easy to take these classes during the afternoon and work on the assignment throughout the rest of the week. 

When I started these classes my goal was to better myself with my new DSLR camera. Now remember--I knew nothing except how to use my point and shoot camera and how to use my DSLR in Auto. I am still a long way off from where I would like to be but these classes helped me get a jump start and I learned so much. I am happy to say that I keep my camera off Auto now.
Open Light Studios was great to work with as well and served as a great hands on teacher for me. After all, I am a visual learner and it beat grabbing a book and reading through it. 
The books I bought completely confused me-- believe me-- I tried-- to understand them.
I'm now convinced you can't learn everything through a class book.

This year Creative Tech is offering another class called-Basics of Digital Photography-
It is a 10 week class and can be free to you if you are able to watch the course LIVE or you can pay to own the classes. If you pay for them you would save them to your hard drive and watch them in your free time. They are also yours to keep forever. 
For those of you who are interested just follow this link.

This site also offers other classes on Photoshop, Aperture, Watercolor, Lightroom 3, etc. throughout the year. Check their calendar for the classes going on now.

I would highly recommended this Digital Photography class for those of you who are starting out. Learning the basics first will save you lots of confusion later. 
If you have any questions comment or email me. I will be happy to answer them for you.

Here is the main link one more time.


Monday, May 17, 2010

{Good Morning Monday}

Well it is a rainy wet Monday in Florida. Looks like it is going to rain all day. 
It was kinda funny when I went into my oldest sons room this morning he kinda wined to me, "Mommy, look out the window, it's raining and now I can't play in my pool today. I wanted to play in my pool today." I simply told him we could still have fun in the house playing with games, coloring, playing with dinosaurs, etc. He said, "ok." 
I guess that answer made him happy and he wasn't worried about not being able to swim anymore. 
What simple things make them happy, right?

So this past weekend was great. We did have some change of plans on Friday but they ended up working out great. My two boys spent Friday and all day Saturday with their Grandpa and Granny (Gus' parents.) Granny came to get them about 4 on Friday and they were gone until Saturday around 8 pm. So Gus and I were able to get a nice little break and spend more time then we had expected together on Saturday.

Friday nights dinner was great but who doesn't enjoy a meal from Maggiano's every now and then? Gus did surprise me with his choice on dinner and we ended up sharing the Riggatoni "D" pasta dish with the Zucchini appetizer. It was excellent. We enjoyed our friends that were able to come and had a wonderful time all together. Afterwards the boys went to Dicks Sporting Goods and the girls headed to Kilwin's and Yoga-berry for dessert. Yummo!
Yes, even after all that food I managed to save room for dessert. I always do!

We decided not to see the movie because we would have had to see a really late showing and we were not up for that. I would rather watch it in the comfort of our home anyway. So as for now we will wait. If anyone saw it this past weekend comment and let me know how it was. It is the Robin Hood movie that I mentioned in my Thursday and Friday post.

Saturday Gus and I got to sleep in. Waahoo...
Although he still had to do the yard and I had to get the house ready for a showing all before noon we didn't stay in bed as late as we wanted but it was still nice. I don't think we can really sleep in anyways, our bodies have gotten so accustomed to getting up by a certain time the we practically fight our body to go back to sleep. After working in the house and yard we got ready and ended up at Biscotti's for lunch. After lunch we spent the afternoon running errands and ended home in just enough time for me to change and head out to my girls night. 
I am sure Gus was excited about his relaxing evening ahead and although it didn't turn out just like he had planned he still managed to enjoy his evening.

The girls night out was lots of fun. I think we can all say we had a wonderful fun filled evening. We did end up at the The Columbia for dinner and then at Kilwin's for dessert. I know, I did some serious damage with my sweets this weekend but it was all worth it. 
If you haven't guessed I had a candied apple. Which I will only eat from Kilwin's. Mine was a caramel white chocolate cinnamon dipped apple. Yummy goodness...

Sunday was church and then Sunday afternoon we had another house showing. The third one for the weekend. Which is actually a low number for us but hey--at least people are looking.
During that showing we went for a walk on the trail and swam in our neighborhood pool afterwards to cool off. We ended the night grilling out and enjoyed watching our boys play together before bed.

Wooo.... What a weekend. We did stay busy but it was so much fun! 
Hope you had a great weekend as well. If you get the chance, share with us what you did. I love to read all your comments! Have a great Monday and if you live near me, stay dry.


Friday, May 14, 2010

A Special Day

Happy Birthday to My Husband........
Today he is 31. He makes me so proud. I sound like a mom but honestly I am his #1 fan.
Yesterday I told you we were heading to dinner tonight and we are. We have reservations at Maggiano's and I already know what he is going to order, the Pesto Pasta dish. Although he may surprise me and have something else due to the fact that last night I cooked him his birthday dinner request. Ribs (taken from our Prime Rib on Sunday), pesto pasta (completely homemade), and veggies. Let me just tell you, I am no griller. I will leave that to him from now on.  The meat was chard (I felt so bad) it just cooked faster then I thought. So Sorry!
He also wants to see the new Robin Hood Movie, which is coming out today. Can you say...PACKED...Yup, I am pretty sure it is going to be packed. So I may have to take him in a few weeks. You know--once the crowd dies down--I'll let you know on Monday what the final decisions was.

I am more in love with him today then when we got married. I didn't think it was possible. How can someone love someone more then when they get married? But they can. The longer your together, the more stuff you go through together, the deeper your love grows. I know this sounds mushy and all but it's the truth. I do think he is a wonderful Father and amazing Husband. What can I say?
Happy Birthday Gus!
I Love you!

Happy Birthday Daddy....This is the card Ethan made Gus last night. He gave it to him with our early family birthday dinner. 


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Got Plans?

Do you have any big plans this weekend, or are you just staying around the house? Share what your most looking forward to about this weekend.

I guess if I ask a question I should respond to it occasionally, huh? 
My Weekend Ahead
Friday-Tomorrow- is my husbands birthday. He will be 31.  I know--it's been a year since he was "over the hill." We are planning a dinner with some friends on Friday night and then enjoying the early part of Saturday as a family. Probably swimming in the pool or doing something active. With having boys you must be outside everyday if possible. I think it is in there blood. So the plan is to wear them out so they will be really good for Gus on Saturday evening.

 What am I doing on Saturday and why am I leaving the kids and hubs??
Well a few weeks back some of the girls in my Sunday School class decided that the class needed to have a girls night out. Who doesn't need one of these, right? So they planned and schemed on how we could all leave our children with the hubby's and they have done a great job. Although we will have to repay them with a guys night out here in a few weeks. I think sometime around Father's Day. How fitting, right? Well even the men need some manly time. 
I am looking forward to the afternoon and evening with the girls.
As of now the plan is to head down to St. Augustine from about 4:30-11 and I think we are eating at the Columbia Restaurant. After that I am not sure what the plan is but I know we will have an enjoyable time. 
Now if you know me, you know I am not going to leave my poor husband to fend for himself completely. I am planning on leaving him with a somewhat ready dinner. If you have boys you know that they love to eat and that they are always hungry, so the only way to make sure they eat well is to cook it myself. Actually that's not entirely true though for my husband. He loves to cook and is pretty good at it, if I might say so myself.  Although he may insist on adding a personal touch to it by making the meat or something himself. I guess the boys can bond out by the grill. Isn't that where they always congregate anyway?
Now that I am just rambling on I should probably end this post for now. I'm sure each of you have some kind of plan for the weekend, even if it is working around the house. Have fun and enjoy....

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