Thursday, January 30, 2014

This Little Light of Mine

Our dark winter days call for soft candle light.  I have a drawer in my kitchen that is filled with votive candles.  I must have bought a bag of 50 at some point thinking that I needed them and didn't because now I have a ton.  Covering these plain tea lights with patterned tape takes just a matter of minutes.  Perfect-cute and easy!  Bundle them in a clear bag and they make a perfect little gift for a girlfriend for Valentine's Day. 

 Hope you all are staying warm!  brrrrrr…...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Like Chocolate

Trapped inside with four kids in the dead of winter will make you try crazy things.  School was out once again, and today we had Chocolate Spa Day at our house.  With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I found it necessary to celebrate the month of chocolate and slather it all over our faces.  You know if the fanciest spas offer chocolate services, then we too can indulge in this special treat!  For the kids-pure chocolate bliss and for me a skin treatment that left me with silky smooth skin.  Check out our Chocolate Spa Day, featuring the chocolate facial and then go give yourself one!

Chocolate Facial 
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon coconut oil-melted

Mix honey, melted coconut oil and yogurt in a small bowl.  Slowly add cocoa powder and sugar and continue to stir well.  Spread on a clean face using a small brush.  Let sit 15 minutes and then rinse with warm water.

Your face will LOVE you!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Club

This winter has been relentless.  We are enjoying our 3rd day off of school this month due to the extreme cold temperatures and we just got word that we are off again tomorrow.  We are taking pajama day to the extreme!  We did spend the weekend going from hockey practice to batting practice to dance shows and evenings with friends.  But we are in today and nothing says cozy like a hot cup of tea, a warm blanket and a great book.  

Now that the kids are getting older, I find myself wanting to read again and by that I mean a book without large print and pictures.  I have spent most of my time as a mom reading to and for my kids and not for myself.  My relaxing time was spent watching mindless TV trash, which isn't so bad when your exhausted.:) I have resolved to read more and I'm making a shift from book club member who doesn't read, to book club member who reads every page!  

Our club is 11 moms and we all live in the same hood.  Our kids go to school together and we've known each other for years.  Some moms are what I would describe as super readers, they are very knowledgeable in the literary world and read a book a week. Then there are those who are occasional readers and pick up a book every once in a while.  And then there is me who hasn't read a book for pleasure since 4th grade when I read "Are You There God? , It's Me Margaret."-Ha!   

Our reading styles are so very different, but our friendships make it work.  Our book club gives us a literary excuse to get together.  We have one night every other month-we discuss the book, share our life stories and have some cocktails or a fine glass of wine.
I'm excited when I say that I've read the last 2 book selections and I've started the 3rd.  We've even downloaded the Goodreads App on our phones.  It's an app that will record my reading preferences and the reading habits of my friends-it allows us to rate, review and discuss the books on our lists with millions of other users.-all the cool kids are usin' it.  

I've discovered in the last few months that I can get lost in a book even if it's only momentarily. My girlfriends and book club are transforming me into a well read person-one book at a time.  Yay!

I'd love to hear about your favorite reads and ideas for our next book club pick.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been searching a long time for chocolate chip perfection.  Some days we make cookies and they turn out too crispy.  Some days the batter magically flattens out on the sheet and they turn out like pancakes.  I follow the recipe on the Toll House bag but yet never really know what I'm going to get when they come out of the oven.  I know that each person has their own personal preference-thin and crispy, thick and chewy, well done, crumbly, or doughy in the middle.  Personally, I like thick cookies that are a bit chewy.  I think I have found the perfect recipe that delivers every time.  

 Chocolate Chip Cookie Perfection
1 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 bag chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.  Combine butter and sugars in a Kitchen Aid mixer and beat until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat again until well combined.  In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Gradually beat in the dry ingredients until well mixed.  With a rubber spatula stir in chocolate chips.  Roll the cookie dough into inch sized balls. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  I must say very seriously, Don’t Over Bake These! They should look like they need another minute in the oven when you pull them out. Golden and still soft in the middle.  I love this recipe and I mean it when I say it never fails.  So my little Will-a-Monster and I are making chocolate chip-ies today.

Yum!!!  Chocolate chip goodness.  I would love to hear how you like your cookies.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wide Awake

I can't tell you the last time hubsy and I slept in.  It's been years and years and years-seriously so long I can't even begin to remember when.  We dream about the morning when we roll over and look at the clock and it's 830 and the house is quiet. -It's just seems impossible to have all four roosters sleeping past 7.  Well it happened this past weekend.our dream.  We rolled over and it was 830!!!  Glory Be!  Our children were quiet and we were completely rested!  What a way to start the day.  I was seriously giddy and for a moment thought to myself. today is the day I won't need my eye concealer. Ha-that would be a real dream!  I do have a very basic everyday eye make-up routine.  I don't try too hard but feel like as I'm getting older I need help to achieve the non-surgical wide-awake look.-Chime in Katy Perry!  These are my favorite basics for just that-minimal everyday eyes for tired moms.
So I begin by using Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream for eyes and place it all over underneath both eyes-this is my exhausted eraser, magic on a brush.  Next I use Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Shadow in mushroom and I use that as my liner and base shadow-multipurpose love.  I then use Urban Decay Shadow in twice baked and apply it to the lid only.  I finish by using Clinique High Impact Mascara in black on both upper and lower lashes.  My goal is to look refreshed and well rested despite the years of sleepless nights.
Click here to find all of the products.

I would love to hear about your "magic" eye products.

Monday, January 20, 2014


This winter we've had no shortage of snow.  Although, when we're stuck inside these 3-D paper snowflakes are fun for the older kids to make while the young ones enjoy the traditional folding and cutting.  Sometimes it's necessary for the older kids to spend an afternoon away from the ipads and ipods and kick it "old school"-makin' crafts.  So we grab some paper and let it snow.

Materials for 3-D Paper Snowflakes
6 sheets of square paper
Tape or glue gun 

For each snowflake you will need 6 square sheets of paper.  

These 3-D snowflakes were just the beginning of some major snowflake making.  
Who knew folding and cutting could be so much fun???  I mean, they were so serious and the level of concentration was off the charts.  

My "flakes" loved making their own flakes!
I'd love to hear what you are doing inside on snowy days.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Need A Pick Me Up

Some days I wake up and need a bit of a pick-me-up.  My green tea isn't gettin' it done-not because I was out partyin' late night (those nights are few and far between) but I just need an energy boost that will get me going.  Some days it's hard to get motivated to organize closets and wipe baseboards.  Do ya hear me?  Also, with winter crashing down on us it's important to stay active and be healthy so those-gasp…..germs don't find us! I feel that it's important to keep our immunity up-none of us want to bite the dust especially with all that cleanin' that needs to get done:)
I am definitely the mom that likes a great drink!  And I don't mean a margarita at 9a. -Tee Hee
So we're making green smoothies in the kitchen today-ones that don't taste like grass.  Yummy ones that taste great and are good for you too.  The best combination!!!
I'm thinking seasonal produce works best for this one and you can't taste the spinach.-Yay for all those who don't like to drink your salad.  Also, check out this fruity water detox  to stay hydrated.

Greatest Green Smoothie
1 large pear
1 large mango
2 clementines
juice from one lime
2 cups spinach
1 cup ice

Put all ingredients in blender and blend on high until smooth.

D-lish and green!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Milk...It's Not Just For Drinkin'

This time of year when the temperatures are below freezing my skin becomes dry like the Sahara.  I love the spa splurge but when there's no time for an appointment-create a sense of luxury in your own shower.  Don't think that's possible????-try this body scrub..

Nourishing Milk and Honey Body Scrub
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups raw oatmeal
1/4 cup honey
1tablespoon olive oil

Whip up a scrub for your next shower.  Every mom needs a little pampering this time of year.  Simple ingredients and fantastic body exfoliating results! It will leave your dry,winter skin feeling soft and smooth.  Mix the ingredients together in a bowl until they form a thick paste. Apply the mixture onto clean skin and massage for a few minutes with your fingers. Rinse the scrub with warm water and a washcloth and pat dry. Apply your favorite body lotion.

These few ingredients are pure and readily available.  Milk contains high levels of vitamins A, D, E, which is why dairy products are fantastic anti-inflammatories.  The oatmeal is soothing on rough skin.  The honey is naturally antibacterial and full of antioxidants.  The olive oil acts as a moisturizer and leaves skin feeling hydrated and healthy.  Looks good enough to eat too-HA!!!

Enjoy your in-home spa with this perfect natural body scrub!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Great Start

It's so important to start the day off right with a healthy breakfast.  One of our family favorites during the school week when we are short on time is what we like to call Yogi and Granola.  It takes 1 minute to prepare, the kids love it and it's super healthy as well.  

Yogurt and Granola 
Great Start Breakfast

Favorite Granola Cereal-ours is Vanilla and Almond
Favorite Vanilla Yogurt-ours is Chobani Vanilla Blended Greek Yogurt 
Favorite Fruit Topping-ours is fresh raspberries

Other options 
any vanilla yogurt (doesn't have to be Greek)
fresh blueberries
fresh strawberries
fresh peaches
fresh pineapple

Begin by choosing your favorite vanilla yogurt.  Add granola cereal and top with fresh fruit. Voila!  
Super fast and a perfect healthy way to start the day.

1 serving of Chobani Vanilla Yogurt 120 calories
1/4 cup Vanilla Almond Granola 120 calories
1/2 cup Fresh Raspberries 30 calories
Total= 270 Calories

So try it for breakfast or make it for an afterschool treat!
I would love to hear about your favorite healthy starts.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Workout Wear

Working out is always much more fun when you have some new gear-that's what I tell myself!  
It took me a long time to figure out what I liked to workout in. When I first started years and years ago I felt as though there weren't many options so it was a cotton t-shirt and basic running shorts.  But now exercise wear is one of my favorite things to shop for.  I like to chose things that are multipurpose.  I am drawn to tanks and leggings that I can wear on a long run as well as spin, yoga and barbell.  I like gear that breathes and is able to manage sweat.  I buy new kicks every six months or so and typically like the feel of Asics and Nike.  I love the weightlessness of my Nike air max shoes and how supportive they feel on longer runs.  I have chosen some of my favorite looks that are great for the gym during these cold winter months but will be just as great for hitting the trails come spring time. Nordstrom has a great selection. Check em out-anything to get healthy right??!!
So tell me what you think. Do you have any favorite looks for sweatin' it out?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Skinny Hot Chocolate

Hitting the gym again doesn't mean that we can't indulge in a little winter yum, especially when it's skinny winter yum!  This incredible hot chocolate made with chocolate almond milk is so belly warming good and 1/2 the calories of the regular stuff.  Most importantly it doesn't taste like it is! Did you know that cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times those found in green tea.  I’ve made this delightful drink a little skinnier by replacing whole milk with chocolate almond milk.  So go ahead and ditch the water and tasteless packet and make this instead…after all, it’s good for your health.  Go get your favorite mug or check out these!
If you want to jazz it up a bit check out these homemade marshmallows. (which are not skinny)

Skinny Hot Chocolate
2 cups chocolate almond milk
1Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan add the milk, cocoa, and vanilla.  Mix together and heat over medium heat.  Stir often until hot.  Add nonfat whipped cream and a bit of chocolate shavings if desired.
*Makes 2 servings

It's still cold outside with plenty of days to come in and enjoy this.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Blast of Winter Workout

Today was the first day back to school for the kids and the first day back to the gym for me.
With everything that has been going on around here in the last month I have not been the dedicated gym rat that I once was.  We have been baking waaaaaay too many sweets-our oven has had the workout! So fun of course, but not good for the waistline.  And whoops, those skinny jeans are entirely too skinny!  So it's time to saddle up-I mean lace up those running shoes and hit the treadmill.  I find that I enjoy running 3 or 4 days a week and training with weights 1 or 2 days and taking 2 days off.  For me, that's a good balance and I won't get burned out doing the same thing every day.  Health and wellness has become the true motivator for me-well and the leather leggings of course!!!! So it's a new year and my leather leggings are hanging in the closet-time to hit the gym!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Snow Days

Brrr… it's been so cold the last several days.  Yowzas CO-HOLD!!!!  The kids had an extended winter break and we embraced the time that we had together indoors by playing games, watching movies, baking cookies, and bringing the outside in.  No need for hats, mittens and scarves when these snowflake sugar cookies make it look like it's snowing inside too!

Easy Sugar Cookie Recipe
2 sticks unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour

In your Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter and sugar.  Add egg, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and flour.  On slow, stir together ingredients just until combined.  Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick between 2 pieces of parchment paper and let it rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.  Cut shapes and bake in 350 degree oven for 6-8 minutes or until the edges begin to turn light brown. Remove and cool on baking rack.

Royal Icing 
3 egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar

In the Kitchen Aid fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until almost frothy.  Add in the powdered sugar and whisk on slow until smooth.  You may need to add more or less powdered sugar or water to achieve desired thickness.  Microwave for approx 40 seconds until the icing is hot to the touch-this will kill any bacteria in the egg white.  For sugar cookies, you want the icing to be thin enough that it will fall back on itself and smooth itself out, but not too thin so it will run off of the cookie.

These snowflake cookies are a huge hit on a snowy day.

Too cold to be out so we brought the snow inside.  We use mixing bowls, cups of various sizes, spoons, dinosaurs, race cars, Big Bird and of course Elmo to make our snow more fun.

So sad to see our break come to an end. Tomorrow they will be back to school.  Although, we will always remember that the 2014 Polar Vortex meant that we got to stay in our pjs all day and play with snow inside. We snuggled with fuzzy blankets and watched movies and popped popcorn. We made hot chocolate with candy toppings. We did puzzles and played games. We baked brownies and made cookies. These are the moments that we remember for a lifetime. Moments that go much too fast but are forever etched in our minds.

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