Tuesday, October 23, 2012

easy and yummy

My new favorite last minute dinner is..... meatball sandwiches. Now I prefer to make all of our own meals and eat real food, but there are times that I need something in a flash. So here is my go-to recipe.

Trader Joe's Meatballs (they are frozen and already cooked)
1 jar of Organic Marinara Sauce
Good rolls or sandwich buns
Provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the meatballs and marinara sauce in a pan on stovetop. Cook on low for 20 minutes. Take your buns and remove some of the bread to make a well for the meatballs. Add  meatballs and some sauce to each bun and then cover with provolone cheese. Put on a baking sheet for about 4 minutes. Enjoy!

I can't wait to possibly perfect my own meatball recipe and keep them in the freezer. Until then, I love this substitution.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

new recipe and a cute food lover

This cute kid eats anything. He was excited to help me make stuffed bell peppers. He ate them all up too. Our third born is our little food lover. 

Here is a delicious recipe (you can also find here) for Taco Stuffed Bell Peppers:

Taco Stuffed Peppers

6 medium sweet bell peppers
1 Tbs salt
1/2 C cooked couscous
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 green onions, sliced
1-2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 black pepper, plus more to taste
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
3/4 C Mexican blend cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare peppers by washing, slicing tops off, and removing insides. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Boil whole peppers for about 3-4 minutes, until they begin to soften. Remove from water with tongs and place on paper towels to drain.

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add corn, beans, green onions, taco seasoning, kosher salt, and pepper. Stir until corn and beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Place peppers in a baking dish. Remove skillet from heat and add couscous, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cheese. Stir to combine well and give it a taste. Add additional salt, pepper, and taco seasoning to your liking. Then evenly divide mixture between peppers. Top peppers with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.


Monday, September 3, 2012


It is safe to say that this is one of my favorite photos ever. My husband and my son together. Thank you to our friend Steve at Threaded Films for capturing this moment forever.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

sugar & spice

Head over to my Family and Frills blog at ocfamily.com to see more picture from the Sugar & Spice baby shower I co-hosted!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

talk about lovely

My friend Merisa was featured on Apartment Therapy. I am so in love with her sweet little home. 
Talk about lovely!

For the rest of the Home Tour go here!

Monday, August 27, 2012

time away

A few weeks back I took a whole day off. Not from a job, or a volunteer position, but from my family. It sounds bad, I know, but it's not. It's necessary. I got my tan on at the pool, my nails done, I went to the mall, and I ate dinner by myself. It was a nice way to take a deep breath and let some stress go. It was like a mommy staycation day.

As moms we get so wrapped up in our family life that we forget that we need some time away. Not just a girls night out or a baby shower, but real quiet time. Time to reflect, think, and enjoy. I have an amazing husband who always gives me my own time, but it's still hard to take a whole day off. I think as mom's we have to demand it, plan it, and implement it.

I think a full day off for myself every three or four months will be just enough to keep me refreshed from the craziness of life with three little ones!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

summer moments

We have had a lot of fighting, tears, and timeouts this summer. Three kids 7 and under has proven difficult for me during this time off, but there has been a lot of good too. Some of my favorite moments of summer have been catching my kids playing quietly by themselves... they become so deep in play that they don't even notice their mommy hovering above them taking pictures. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

easiest dessert ever

I made these peanut butter bars for a friend whose only birthday dessert request was that it involved peanut butter cups. So I figured why not make my own! They are pretty darn close, require no baking, and are addicting (and I don't even like peanut butter cups). Go here for the recipe! You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

new obsession

My sister sent me this link for homemade chocolate soft serve. It's the kind that is actually healthy for you. After all, it's made of frozen bananas, milk, vanilla extract, cocoa powder..... and that's it. No sugar, no cream, nothing else. You can follow her recipe, but I usually add more milk and it takes a little bit of love to get it creamy (I have made in Cuisinart and the blender). Maybe a total of 5 minutes. So easy and delicious.

I'm serious.... make it today. Immediately. Right now. Or as soon as your bananas are frozen.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I never imagined that summer time would equal less blogging time- but it does. My hands and feet have been busy with three little ones all day, every day. It's hard to catch up. But I guess it's totally worth it because in a snap of a finger we will be back to routines, being divided in our days, and a more structured life.... so I am learning to enjoy our carefree days together. It's bliss.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

another mix and match recipe

Here is another mix and match recipe. My hubby wanted a homemade chocolate peanut butter ice cream pie for his birthday. So I mixed and matched recipes to make it perfect!

(sorry for the super lame picture....we ate it so fast I forgot to take a better one)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie 
original recipes from here and here.

1 box Oreo Cookies
6 tbsp melted butter
2 cups half and half
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 bottle hot microwavable hot fudge
1 pack of Reese Peanut Butter Cups


1. Finely crush about 25 Oreos in a food processor. Mix with melted butter and spread in the bottom of a 9" round pan for the crust. Freeze.

2. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, combine the half and half, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt; whisk. Heat the mixture until it comes to a full boil. Continue to whisk. When the mixture starts to foam remove it from the heat and add the peanut butter, whisking to blend thoroughly. Refrigerate the mixture until it is completely chilled. Finish by following the directions on your ice cream maker.

3. Scoop the ice cream on the frozen crust. Drizzle hot fudge on top. Crush remaining Oreos and cut the Peanut Butter Cups into pieces and sprinkle on top.


Monday, July 16, 2012

New recipe

Lately I have been mixing recipes together.... it's kind of a new thing for me. After all, I'm not a skilled cook. But I have been really trying to keep everything homemade, and that means substituting for canned or processed foods in one recipe with something from another. So far so good and I have made two different dishes doing this, which means I kind of have my own recipe to share! Now that's a first.

(image from myrecipes.com)

Chili Hash Brown Bake
Original recipes from here and here.
(Substituted can of sloppy joe sauce and can of chili with beans for the real thing)

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
1 cup ketchup
4 tsp brown sugar
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 (15 oz) can chili beans
1/2  (30 oz) package frozen shredded hash browns (about 4 cups)
2 cups shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper; drain off liquids.

2. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, and chili beans; mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Spoon chili mixture into lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish or 10-oz ramekins. Top with frozen hash browns.

4. Bake, covered, at 425 degrees for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 10 more minutes or until browned and crisp. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Note: Our chili beans were a little hard so next time we will make sure they simmer a little bit, after reading reviews when I added the cheese I mixed the cheese with the hash browns, and next time we are going to try grating our own potatoes instead of using frozen hash browns at all!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

a favorite blog post... mother's must read

This is one of my favorite blog posts... ever. I just love Lil Blue Boo. This post is all sorts of awesome.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

sad cowboy

I like to call this image "The Saddest Little Cowboy in Town." We were in a parade on 4th of July and little man was mad at me for trying to take his bucket of candy to give to kids on the parade route. That was its intended purpose after all. But he wasn't having it. While this little crying tantrum, which included throwing other things out of the wagon, may have stressed some moms out.... I felt the need to catch it on camera so I could smile over it forever. I just love him to pieces, tears and all. And the best part was when he covered his face. It's hard being a two and a half year old.

Friday, June 29, 2012

real food

I'm really proud of how far I have come in feeding my family Real Food and yet finding a balance in our life with birthday parties and eating out. I have been busy cooking and baking as much as I can, using only real ingredients. I even made my own Bisquick instead of buying the box for a homemade peach cobbler (and I saved money since I already had everything at home). It's not easy to cook and bake like this, and there are missteps along the way, but it's totally 100% worth it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

i scream you scream we all scream

When we got married we registered for an ice cream maker. Doesn't everyone? But we never used it and it ended up departing in a garage sale a couple of years ago. (Note to self: don't sell things that you might want to use someday!) Now that I am totally into making everything from scratch, I had to borrow this beauty from my parent's house.

I am hoping that "borrow" will turn into "keep" because I love having it. Can I just say that nothing compares to homemade ice cream, it is so good and so ridiculously easy. I love that I can make a healthy ice cream substitute or go for the real deal. Either way even though it may cost a little more, you cannot put a price on getting all of the preservatives and unnatural ingredients out. Real is best!

Monday, June 25, 2012


We are on week 3 of summer and we are having so much fun!

Although to be honest, I am not calling this particular ride "fun." In fact I was keenly aware that we were practically hanging on by a wire and so I kept telling the kids, "don't move" because I was so freaked out. Luckily they couldn't entirely sense my fear and I was able to avert their own little panic attacks (mostly because I was afraid their crying would rock the little cart we were in). I might scale back the fun a little bit when it comes to adventurous rides that require heights and wires.

Nonetheless, summer is turning out way better than expected. The perks far outweigh the fact that I have all three kids with no break.

Summer IS lovely 

Sunday, June 24, 2012


I made this Carrot Banana Bread because it was the only carrot bread recipe I could find that used ingredients I already had at home. I wasn't expecting much from it but it was SO good. It was moist and delicious. This will be a staple in our home. Everyone loved it.

And just a side note, I didn't have enough vegetable oil so I read that you can use natural applesauce (which I had) to make up what you are missing and it worked perfectly! I think next time I will just use the applesauce.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

it worked

Dawn + Vinegar = clean
(as seen all over Pinterest)

Just scrubbed my whole shower/tub and it totally worked! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

i like her

I'm not going to lie, I have a little celebrity crush on Emma Stone.  I have liked her since Easy A and my crush is continuing with this adorable article about her. I think the best way that I can put it is that I don't really like celebrities anymore. I don't like their drama, their entitlement, their extravagance, and their tacky ways. And I think it has changed even more as my kids get older. I just want my kids to have good role models and that's hard to find in Hollywood. Yes, you can find them, but it's not easy. And so I put Emma Stone on my list of celebrities who seem like someone I would want to be friends with, and I hope it stays that way. She is adorable!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Last week someone (I can't remember who, but you should take credit if it was you) told me that you can get a Neopolitan shake at In-N-Out Burger, it's part of the secret menu which I thought I knew all about. Apparently I missed this amazing item. Anyhow I had to have one so I ordered it for Friday night dinner out. I was good and waited until we finished our burgers to devour it, so that's why it's a little melty.... but it was so good!

Oh, and if you want to read an awesome blog post about the secret menu at In-N-Out you should go here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

for the teacher

Today was my son's last day of school, but I know for many of our friends and neighbors there is still one week left. For Teacher Appreciation week I did a bunch of teacher gifts that would work great for last minute end of year gift ideas.
Just wanted to share!

(almost all of my ideas were inspired or copied from Pinterest!)

An apple for the teacher

You're a bloom above the rest pencils 

I designed the notecards

Personalized tote bag

Mason jar filled with her favorite treats

I made a book with pictures of all the students holding
a sign with a word that makes them think of their teacher.

And I decorated her door for the class!

SO fun.

Monday, June 11, 2012

father's day

Check out my Father's Day gift post over at my Family & Frills blog at OC Family.

coming back

I know I went missing for a bit... but I was trying to get life organized. It's not easy. I needed to get some rest, let go of some work commitments, write a little less, and run a lot more. And that's just what I did. But now I am back, hopefully with a little more balance and a lot more to blog about. There are so many lovely things going on right now. 

Thanks for coming back.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Friends are the best. 
I've decided that the very best part of birthdays is spending quality time with them. 
In the hustle and bustle of busy life, it's the perfect reason to get together. 

On Monday, my friends surprised me with a sweet set up at the park for an impromptu play date. 
They sure can whip something up quick! 
Treats, breakfast, tea, flowers, and lots of talking. 

The perfect birthday.

Girlfriends make my world go round.

P.S. If your friend has a birthday, I HIGHLY recommend doing something like this. I loved the surprise of seeing the table!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

i made it

My first ever attempt at homemade pizza. Made the wheat dough myself too. It was pretty good; I just have some tweaks for next time. 

I think I shared that we are eating "real food" here in our home. I have been cooking up a storm. I use my blender and Cuisinart pretty much every day. I like to say that we eat like my grandparents probably grew up eating. We eat dairy, meats, fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. We just cut out as much processed food as possible and instead of buying treats, I make them. I try not to buy any snacks that have over 5 ingredients on the label, but I do keep whole-wheat goldfish in the house so the kids feel like they still have a snack they had before. We do smoothies pretty much every night with dinner. I pack them with so many good fruits, veggies, and healthy add-ins like wheat germ and flax seed. It's amazing how much you can cram into a blender. My kids know there are spinach, carrots, and lots of other stuff in their smoothie and they love it. 

It has been amazing to see the change in our family. I am down 7 pounds in less then 4 weeks and my kids are making really great strides in their food choices. We were out at a coffee shop last week and my son picked the fruit and cheese platter over all of the baked goods in the display. I was shocked. And, yes I do let them eat treats outside of the home, but I really limit the amount and they are okay with it. You have to learn to say no more often, but say yes at the right times. We went to an Angel's game and I let them have hot dogs and dessert. I want to have a good balance. But in general all meals and lunches are pretty darn healthy as far as real food goes. It's not low fat, it's just home cooked. I'm loving it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

yummy dinner

I can't believe I haven't shared this recipe yet! It's a favorite in our house. It's called Scooter's Spaghetti and it's easy and delicious. I love to do all of the prep work ahead of time and then just throw it in the oven at dinnertime. I also make mine with whole wheat spaghetti and my own homemade spaghetti sauce filled with veggies and spinach to make it even healthier. I have made it with ground beef or ground chicken and both were equally good. And we only add on the fried onions if we feel like being naughty. Easy peasy!

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 pound ground beef
1 large can spaghetti sauce (26.5 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/3 cup chopped onions
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons milk
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
French Fried Onions (small can)

1. Cook spaghetti according to directions on the package. Cook to al dente, drain and set aside.
2. Brown ground beef. Drain excess grease. Add spaghetti sauce to skillet and heat.
3. Combine onions, peppers and butter in small glass bowl. Cover and microwave 4 minutes on HIGH until soft.
4. Add cream cheese and milk to vegetables and stir well. (If cream cheese is not soft, nuke it for 20-30 seconds to make it easy to spread.)
5. Using a 10 x 6 dish, assemble in the following order:
6. Thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish.
7. Spaghetti
8. Cream cheese/vegetable mixture
9. Spaghetti sauce
10. Parmesan Cheese (amount subject to your own taste)
11. French Fried Onions (added during last 5 minutes of cooking)
12. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with French Fried onion and continue baking 5 more minutes. (This is the secret ingredient–don’t let them burn.)

Make this ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze without the French Fried onions. Don’t forget to add them 5 minutes before casserole is finished cooking.

Monday, April 30, 2012

dear environment..... i do love you

Something has changed at our house.... Mark and I gave up a major vice. Paper towels. We used paper towels like it was nobody's business and I was keenly aware that we overindulged in the paper towel department. I started feeling guilty so in honor of Earth Day we went cold turkey. Do you see these white towels? We now use them for everything, and I mean everything. I think Mark was a little scared at first, but it's totally working out and I have had only one or two withdrawals. I'm feeling pretty good about our change and I know it's saving us some money at the same time. This is an easy peasy lemon squeezy change.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


We are eating "real food" over at our house. I have made a huge push to cut out highly processed foods and sugars. Go here to read more about my inspiration on my Family and Frills blog at ocfamily.com.