To Make / Grilled Cheese

 
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     Good morning! Last week, I was craving an adultified grilled cheese. Enter: pears + brie! After deciding I needed a grilled cheese in my life, I was searching for seasonal fruits that aren't citrus (I'm currently chipping away at a giant bag of blood oranges - smoothie recipe coming next week!), and realized pears are in season. Score! They're the apple of winter, and go so well with cheese and a little honey. A sweet and creamy perfection! Get the recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- a few slices of brie

- a few slices of fresh pear

- 2 slices of bread of choice (I used sourdough!)

- a drizzle of honey

- mayo

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Directions:

1. Heat a greased skillet on medium, then spread mayo on your bread on the sides that will be grilled. Place your first piece of bread in the skillet, mayo side down, and top with your cheese and pears. Drizzle with honey, and place second piece of bread on top. 

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2. Cover with your skillet lid (this will contain the steam and help the cheese melt faster) and let grill until the cheese is melted. Then flip and let grill for 1-2 minutes, until bread is golden brown. 

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3. Slice and serve with your favorite chips/pretzels!

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Enjoy! 

Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday! I'll be back next week with that yummy citrus smoothie!

To Recap / January

 
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     Good Morning! I'm taking a break from recipes this week to share my recap of January, as it's coming to a close shortly. It's been a surprisingly fun but hectic month, with all of the changes that come with a new year. Personally, it's been great (other than all of the things that are due at the start of a new year) - but for friends, it's already been a challenging year. So helping them navigate new beginnings is one of the things we've been dealing with. Luckily, everyone is still in positive spirits, and the weather is turning mild after a short 3 weeks of winter (so far), which always improves moods!

      We got over an inch of snow for the first time in the past 3 years, so that was really exciting for Bailey and Brett (I prefer to enjoy the beauty of snow from our screened in porch). That was two weeks ago - last weekend, temps were in the 60's, and will be again today and tomorrow, so snow that sticks isn't really a viable option at the moment. I can't really complain though, because last weekend, spending the whole time pretty much outside was ideal, and I can't wait to do it again this weekend!

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      This month, I also shared a bit about the Half Baked Harvest cookbook, and how awesome it is. I've been cooking up a storm with this guy, and I can't wait to share even more adaptations of the recipes throughout the year!

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       I'm not 100% sure why, but this color palette at my BFF Cat's house was really screaming winter at me. My best guess is because the blue reminds me a lot of the movie Frozen, which Bailey has been falling in love with (which means I get to belt out 'Let it Go' with her 24/7)!

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     I also shared my winter glow tonic recipe! This warming turmeric latte was so comforting on the 0 degree days we were having. 

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     Bailey and I did a really fun craft last weekend, inspired by the paper cutouts of Matisse! This is the first collaging activity we've done, and Bailey is a big fan of (safe) scissors. One caveat though: she's left handed for the most part, but I haven't acquired left-handed scissors yet (didn't know they were even a thing?!), and if we plan on doing this again (which I do!), then mama needs to get those darn scissors stat! Parenthood has a constant learning curve, and this is a good example of that.

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      On a more Nutella note, I made this challah to assist in the comfort process that winter calls for! Still over here dipping mine in more Nutella, because can't stop won't stop. 

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      We found a cleared soccer field/open field in a forest on the West side of Columbia, and I fell in love with it. It was empty and secluded, the perfect place for Bailey and Luna to run around unleashed (literally for Luna and figuratively for Bailey :)), and for me to wander around and take pretty winter photos. 

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      Finally, my little bubble-catcher. We're resurrecting our outdoor play things, and bubbles were first on the agenda! Bailey is always on the move, so capturing even a remotely non-blurry image of her when playing is a feat. Also: cheetah-print sweatpants. Just another item of clothing that only a toddler can pull-off!

     Thanks for recapping the month with me! I'll be back next week with a seasonal take on grilled cheese (which no, I'll never stop experimenting with). Have a great weekend!

To Celebrate / The First Day of Winter

 
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     Good moring! Today is the first day of the winter solstice, and hopefully it will bring some actual winter weather that lasts, because I've about had it with this back and forth weather. One week, temps are in the 60's, and the next, they're in the 30's! I don't mind if it's cold, I just want it to pick a side! Anywho, to ring in this beautifully barren season, I've rounded up a few tips for making the most of shorter days (tonight's the longest night of the year!). See below for more!

Winter Survival 101:

- Get outside during daylight hours as much as you can! Sunlight is extremely helpful to avoid being saddened by the lack of day and the abundance of night. 

- Adopt the hygge (pronounced hue-guh) way of life. It's the Danish concept of coziness and togetherness, technology free. Apparently, hygge is one of the reasons Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest places in the world! And ya, they have wayyyy worse winters than we do, so I think we could all learn a thing or two. 

- Look for silver-linings. This applies to all seasons, as they all come with their pitfalls, but winter seems to be the hardest for most. Yes, it's cold, but #1: it's temporary! Winter won't last forever - this isn't Narnia or Game of Thrones. #2: The freezing weather gives you opportunities to do things that you don't get to do when it's warm, like wear the thickest and softest sweater you own, or drink hot cocoa in front of a roaring fire place! We can't change the weather, so it's best to try and make the most of it. 

- Turn it into a party! I'm hosting a hygge party this winter, because I just can't stop myself from cozy themes that include glogg. After New Years, and until Valentine's Day, there's not a celebratory holiday, so hosting this party in January will hopefully give everyone something to look forward to!

- If all else fails, retreat. This is a last resort, because money and time, but if you have the means and just can't stand temperatures below 40, take a week off and go to the desert or a beach! No shame in that game. 

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun Christmas! We'll be back next week with a lighter brunch recipe for when you're done feasting the weekend away!

For a Craft with Bailey

 

      Hi there! A couple of weeks ago, I adapted my winter wall hanging DIY, and crafted a small version for Bailey! It hangs as a mobile in her room at the moment, and she loves watching the felt diamonds sway. Take a look below to get the how to! 

Materials: 

- felt + scissors

- a small branch or dowel rod

- string + twine

Directions: 

1. Cut out your felt shapes, and spear  them at the top to create a hole for the string. 

2. String them on embroidery thread, and knot to secure them.  

3. Knot your strings onto your branch, and trim excess. 

4. Attach your twine and hang. Enjoy! 

To Make a Wall Hanging / Winter

 

     Hi there! Today's project is a super fun seasonal wall hanging DIY! I was loving the look of wall hangings with natural elements (like branches) that I had been seeing on Pinterest, so I decided to craft one of my own. Check out how below!

Materials:

- a smallish branch

- air-dry clay

- white paint + glaze

- twine

- a pencil

Directions:

1. Roll out a golf ball sized piece of clay, and trace out a diamond shape into it using a pencil. Remove excess, and poke a hole through the top part of the diamond to create a place for the twine to go through. Repeat until you have 5 shapes cut out, as shown above.

2. Let dry overnight, then paint and glaze, if you wish!

3. String onto the branch, in an alternating pattern. Double knot everything here!e

4. Attach twine to your branch for hanging, and enjoy!

To Make a Scrub

 

      Hi there! Winter means dry skin, and one of the best remedies for that is exfoliation. Coffee has an excellent amount of grit and nutrients for the skin, the most beneficial being circulatory stimulation. The caffeine of the coffee is absorbed into the skin, and literally speeds up the cells and blood flow. Not to mention that coffee also has great anti-inflammatory properties. Get the how-to for this coffee scrub below!

Materials:

- 1/2 cup of ground coffee

- 1/2 cup of brown sugar

- 1 tbs. of coconut oil

- 1 tbs. of olive oil

Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients together.

2. Store in an airtight container, and enjoy!

To Welcome Winter!

 
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     Good morning! It's the first day of the winter solstice! I know it's not as exciting as the start of the summer solstice, but sometimes in life you have to make things fun just to get through them, and winter falls under that category. Today, I wanted to share a few ideas to ring in winter and get people (+ toddlers!) excited for the months to come.

Tips for Welcoming Winter:

- make a ton of hot cocoa and curl up with a classic winter-ish book (i.e. anything Dickens, Little Women, Wuthering Heights)

- have a craft session, focusing on a seasonal craft, with your little one. Bailey and I made something last weekend, coming to the blog soon!

- if you've gotten some snow, get out and enjoy it! Make a snowman and go tobogganing! Trust me it's fun. 

- drive around and look at Christmas Lights. We do this on Christmas Eve, but it's a great way to add some sparkle to winter.

- make some soup! There's nothing like a warm batch of soup when it's frigid out. Look out for a yummy Cauliflower edition soon!

- take a moment and reflect on what the start of winter means for you. For me, it means the start of a new year, and I'm a sucker for new and fresh opportunities. You could say I'm excited for this season!

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

For an Adventure / Christmas Tree Shopping

 

      Good morning! Just wanted to share our photos from picking out the Christmas tree today! Kristen took a few of these, like the one above, and I just love them. We didn't send out a Christmas Card this year, but if we did, the one above would be perfect!

     The tree farm is always so pretty. Sometimes, I wish it would snow when we go, because there's nothing prettier than a tree farm blanketed in snow. However, I'm aware of the driving difficulties of snow, so I'm only half sad it didn't happen.

      Bailey's quite the little rascal when we go to places like this. I think she gets the sense that it's a fairly safe place for her to run around, so she tries, but there are tree stumps everywhere. She gets wary of those darn things pretty quickly!

     The barn here is just too cool! If I had to live in a barn or on a farm with one, this would be ideal.

     Seeing stacks of logs everywhere during the winter is the best. It reminds me of ours at my home in Arkansas, where my sisters and I used to spot frogs, lizards, and even a baby bunny one rare time.

      This is probably my favorite picture. Bailey only sat here for about five seconds, but it was long enough for Kristen to snap Mommy and Me photo gold.

     I may or may not have taken a few souvenirs from the farm. Small pine branches make the cutest decorations around the house, and happen to smell amazing too!

     Brett's parents picked out a huge 8ft. tree for their house, and Bailey was pretty entertained watching her grandpa and dada cut it down and haul it to the truck.

      It's their tradition to have Brett do a lot of the work, but at this point, I don't think he minds so much. He's always the person who likes having a job to do.

     That's all folks! I'm so happy I get to continue this tradition that my dad passed down to me with Bailey. She really loves it, hopefully just as much as I do. Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

For a Bucket List / Winter

 

      Good morning! I'm sharing my winter bucket list with you all today, so here goes!  

Bucket List / Winter: 

1. Go sledding (if the snow we've been getting would stick!). 

2. Make soup. I have a cauliflower version planned that will be on the blog next month! 

3. Explore in the snow! If the roads permit, I want to tek over to one of Columbus's nature spots and explore it blanketed in snow.

4. Bake Christmas cookies. We are doing Christmas morning at our own house this year, with just us three, so I want to start my own family traditions, like baking cookies for Santa, with Bailey this year! 

5. Pick out a Christmas tree. We already accomplished this! Woo!

6. Purchase a Christmas record. Also already accomplished! You can bet it's been spinning constantly since said purchasing. 

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun weekend! 

To Talk About Winter Skin

 

     Hey there! Now that winter's in full swing, I figured it would be appropriate to share my favorite beauty products that get me through this drying time. Disclaimer: I have pale, sensitive, and combination skin. Some of these products might not work for you if you have more acne prone or oily skin, but the concepts are all still the same. The main goal of my winter skincare regime is to keep my skin from getting too dry without being too oily either. It's all about balance.

     Rule #1: Always, always, always take your makeup off at night. My issue with leaving it on is that it makes my skin more oily in the morning, which is the opposite of what I want. I use Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water to cleanse and remove makeup at night, and it has done wonders for my skin. The French know what they're doing in regards to skincare. Rule #2: Try and moisturize twice a day, once at morning and once at night. I typically use two different moisturizers that serve different purposes. The ones that work best for me are Embryollise Lait Creme Concentrate in the morning and Garnier Nutritioniste Moisture Rescue Refresher Gel-Cream at night. The Embryolisse is famous for its awesome smoothing qualities, and it's perfect for moisturizing before I put my makeup on. Garnier's gel moisturizer is great to put on before bed because the gel is oil-free and keeps my skin clean overnight. Rule #3 (last one!): Keep a face spray with you at all times to keep your skin refreshed throughout the day. If you have sensitive skin like I do, try my favorite Mario Badescu Rose Water Spray. You won't be able to stop spritzing your face a couple of times a day. If I'm feeling stressed, I spay my face and feel instantly better. Rose water is so calming, it's addictive.

     Bonus: Do a couple of masks every now and then, and also exfoliate at least once a week. Scrubs are vital to getting rid of dead skin, which can build up and cause acne, oil, and basically all of the things you don't want to happen to your face. A mask is like food for your skin, they are usually packed with nutrients to benefit all aspects of skincare. Also, always have hand cream on your person in the winter. Just do it, seriously. No one likes dry hands.

To Talk About Winter's with a Baby.

 

     Hi readers! Today, I thought I'd do a short post on how I entertain my toddler, Bailey, during those months where it's just too cold to go to the park. Disclaimer: while none of these tips include letting her watch T.V. and movies, I do let her watch some Spongebob Squarepants at some point during the day out of necessity for some mommy reading time.

Keeping a Toddler Happy - Winter Edition:

  • Find a class or activity group that gets them out of the house. Bailey and I go to a Little Gymers playtime on Fridays at our local ARC. It only costs $2 total and it keeps her from going stir crazy.
  • Have plenty of washable markers and non-toxic crayons and paint around with some extra big sheets of paper. I've never met a child who doesn't love smothering their hands in paint and wiping it off on paper.
  • Play some music! Bailey loves to dance her little heart out at anytime of the day. Any song with a good beat and she's there.
  • Get out something they can climb on or into (if you have the room). Bailey's grandparents repurposed a turtle shaped sandbox from Brett's youth into a ball pit for Bailey's Christmas present last year! She loves getting to push all of the balls out.
  • Keep all of their books out and on hand. Bailey will sit there and look at each and every one.
  • If all else fails, play in the bath for awhile! This is always my go-to if Bailey is grumpy and not wanting to do much of anything. All I have to say is "bath?" and she runs to her bathroom, ready to hop in!

     I hope these tips help if you're stuck on what to do all day with you child! On top of these activities, I still try to get her outside for at least 15 minutes each day. Bundled of course! I find that it does wonders for her mood, if she's been inside for the last 4 hours.

 

To Dress the Baby for Winter

     Hi guys! It being freezing cold out, I thought I would share a little checklist of winter wear items that are must haves once the temps drop. You've gotta keep your little cutie warm! Some of these items are obvious, like a coat and socks. Duh. Some are just things that I personally like to have around, and that Bailey loves. Check out the list below!

Winter Items for Baby:

1. A warm coat with a hood. The hood is very useful if your child won't allow a hat (we've all been there).

2. Socks. Even inside with the heat on, feet still get cold. Especially the little ones!

3. A jumpsuit/romper situation. I love our floral one, specifically because it prevents little tummies and backs from peaking out and getting chilly.

4. Sleepers. The sleepers are a godsend when it comes to PJ's for Bailey. They retain so much body heat, I don't need to worry if she gets cold during the night.

5. A cardigan, or really any layering piece you can put over a top and under the coat. We also use thin sweater hoodies that zip, all for extra warmth!

6. Boots. Essential for keeping the ankles warm! Ones with good tread are extra important for a walker exploring the snow for the first time.

Bonus: A ton of blankets! We have a few, and now that Bailey is starting to allow them, I'm tempted to get more.

To Make a Bucket List (Update!)

 

     Hi readers! I just wanted to do a little update today on my bucket list. I am happy to report that I've already completed almost everything on the list! The drinking a ton of hot chocolate task is still being completed, of course. The only thing that I am still waiting to do is to go sledding. It hasn't snowed for real here, yet, and I am actually wishing for snow! That's really never happened before. I usually am ambivalent towards snow, but the warm weather we've been experiencing has put a damper on my holiday spirit. Mostly, I just really think Bailey would love snow, so I am just waiting for her to get to experience that. For now though, I guess I'll bide my time with more fun gift wrapping and hot cocoa until we get some real winter action around here.

     I've definitely already improved my gift wrapping skills. Basically, I used to put no effort into gift presentation, but I've gotten past that with this gift box DIY!

     I'm very much in love with my mini wreath garland I made. It was pretty simple and would look cute any time of the year. It may or may not be featured on the blog soon. I just really love to look at it.

     As you can see, I'm very into the hot cocoa. It's nice and easy to make in the afternoon if I don't feel like coffee. Salted Caramel Mocha is my favorite. :) Happy Holidays!

Weekly Moodboard, #4

     This week's mood board is all about creative and seasonal inspiration. Now that it's freezing outside, I find myself constantly searching inside for something to do. This is most likely because it is very hard to find any joy in doing anything outdoors. It will be better when it's dry and cold, but lately, here in Missouri, it's been cold AND raining for days at a time. I really don't mind the cold as long as it's a dry cold. Like I said, this drives me inside and I get cabin fever quickly, but looking at images like these makes it so much easier to stay inspired.

     To start, the beautiful weaving's of Jeannie Helzer need no explanation as to why they are inspiring. Especially with the beautiful warm colors woven into the neutrals. They definitely make me want to take up weaving this winter. The beautiful fire photograph includes the warm seasonal colors, as well as some nostalgia, since fires and bonfires are synonymous with winter around here. I also can't get over ankle boots right now, and those burgundy crushed velvet ones are killing me. I always find inspo from fashion. Architecture too, can be very inspiring, and the black store front in the top right is oddly inviting. Winter hikes and mornings in bed are also on the winter agenda. I'm starting to realize I plan my life around what I'm inspired by, and I don't see one single problem with that. Have a good weekend, all!

To Create a Bucket List

  

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     I'm so excited for today's post! I love making bucket lists and goal lists. Any list really. It's the only way I stay organized and actually reach those goals. Bucket lists are a little bit more fun than your everyday list though. They help you to participate in life, not just getting your tasks done. My bucket lists don't even really involve tasks, they are just fun things I'd like to do. Mine are more for keeping me inspired than anything else. If I'm ever bored, I just look at the list and see what I can cross off that day! I plan on making these seasonal posts, posted at the start of every season, so expect another one of these in March. For now though, peruse the list and see if there's anything you'd like to do this winter!

Winter Bucket List 2015:

1. Drink lots of hot cocoa (obviously this takes priority).

2. Improve upon my gift-wrapping skills.

3. Watch White Christmas at least once (it's my favorite Christmas movie).

4. Make a wreath or two.

5. Listen to lots of moody holiday music.

6. Stop being a chicken, and go sledding.

     There ya go, short and sweet! I like to keep things simple around here. Happy winter!