Friday, August 30, 2013

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Maxi-mize

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Maxi-mize
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Maxi-mize
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Maxi-mize
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Maxi-mize
necklace/ Target | chambray/ Old Navy (thrifted) | tee/ Target | skirt/ Silver Charm (thrifted) | flats/ Target

This maxi skirt isn't turning out to be as versatile as I'd hoped when I bought it. Maybe it's the combination of hunter green and navy stripes that makes it hard to find colors that go with both? I don't know, but I do know that I haven't been able to style it very many ways. In fact, I've been able to style it exactly two ways so far: this, and the first time I wore it. I wear it fairly often because it is sooo comfortable, but not as often as I thought I might. Any styling suggestions for me? I'm pretty stumped. 

In other news, today is the first day of our four-day weekend, which will culminate in E's birthday on Monday! My baby is turning four *sniff*. Today we're going to the county fair and having dinner with friends, Sunday we're taking her to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, and Monday will be spent opening presents and hanging out as a family (her party isn't until next weekend). Here's to a happy Labor Day weekend to all! See you next week when it's unofficially fall! (Did not mean for that to rhyme.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe

Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe
adapted from here
 This recipe is not your typical "throw ingredients into pot, walk out door" kind of crockpot recipe. It requires preparation of the sauce before you can combine everything in the pot. So while it's perfect for me-- I can prepare the sauce and throw everything together in the morning when I still have the motivation and energy-- it may not be the ideal crockpot recipe for working moms. But it would be perfect on the weekends, when you can prepare it and then go do something fun for a few hours, then come home to an already-cooked dinner!


3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounce) Rotel diced tomatoes and jalapenos
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1 package (10 ounce) frozen corn
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup bell pepper, diced
2 cans (10 ounce) Enchilada sauce
2 whole chicken breasts
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese


1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour; keep stirring until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and add the chicken broth and ½ cup of the milk, a little at a time, stirring to keep smooth. Return to heat. Bring sauce to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens. In a large bowl, whisk together the enchilada sauce and chicken broth mixture . Gradually whisk in remaining milk until smooth. Whisk in taco seasoning until blended. Set aside.

Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe

 2. In a crockpot, combine drained beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. Place the chicken breasts on top of the mixture. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker. Cover; cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. When you are ready to serve, shred chicken (I use two forks; if you have a better method that doesn't involve removing the chicken I'd love to hear it) and give the whole thing a stir.

Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe

  Top with cheese and tortilla chips (like with chili and Fritos).

Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe

Budgeting Bloggers: August Budget

1. Military vest (JCPenny): originally $34/ $15 clearance - $1.50 10% off = $13.50 ($20 saved)
2. Gap Essential V Neck in black and white: originally $19.95 each, 2 for $25 ($14.90 saved)
3. Gap floral shorts: originally $44.95/ $5.97 final sale ($38.98 saved)
4. Caroline G. three stone bubble necklace: free through Facebook offer ($17.99 saved)
5. Liz Claiborne striped shirt (JCPenny): Originally $27/ $12.99 clearance - 1.30 10% off = $11.69 ($15.31 saved)

$56.17 spent + $14.95 shipping from JCP + $6.96 shipping from Caroline G. = $71.12 ($107.67 saved)

So, I went a little over my $50 budget this month, but I'm really really happy with all of my purchases (all have been worn multiple times), and I'm really REALLY happy with how smart I shopped. I mean, I saved over $100 dollars off the original price of everything. How awesome is that?! This whole budgeting thing, and paying attention to what I buy and how much I pay for it, is pretty killer. 

For next month, the only things I already know I want are a leopard scarf and maybe some maroon pants (branching out in my colored pants, plus a totally appropriate color for fall). I already know I'm getting a Target gift card for my birthday, so I should be able to make up for the little bit that I went over this month! Plus I need to get off my butt and to Plato's Closet to sell all the stuff I purged over the last couple months. Things are looking good!

What will be your fall essentials that you'll be shopping for next month?

Linking up with Franish for Budgeting Bloggers!

Also, don't forget about my giveaway! It could totally help you next month for your budget!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Ready For Fall

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Ready For Fall
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Ready For Fall
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Ready For Fall
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Ready For Fall
Necklace/ Caroline G. | Sweater/ Gap (gifted forever ago) | cargo pants/ Post Exchange | flats/ Target

I love the colors in this outfit. I love coral with purple, purple with olive, and coral with olive, so it was a no-brainer to use all three in one outfit. Sorry for wearing a sweater, as I know it's still hothothot where some of you live, but it's definitely cooling off here in the bay! Then of course I added my leopard flats for that extra oomph (because you know I can't put together an outfit without at least some pattern). Can you tell I'm ready for fall?

And if you haven't yet, make sure to check out my guest post on My New Favorite Outfit for a little bit more about me and my style, and also a giveaway!

Linking up with Fashion & Beauty Finds for Keeping It Casual Wednesday!

Butter Garlic Pizza Crust Recipe

Butter Garlic Pizza Crust Recipe
adapted from here

As you may know, we're pizza fans around here. I've been having a lot of fun trying to mix up the pizza every week so that it doesn't get old (even though I don't think pizza could ever get old). I've mixed up the toppings and the sauces, so I decided it was time to mix up the crust as well. I may never make it the old way again, the butter and garlic is soooo delicious. Like whoa.

1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 pkg active dry yeast
2 to 3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh, finely chopped)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt 


1) Mix the water and sugar. Pour in the yeast and give it a stir. Let it sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate.

2) In a bowl (I used my stand mixer bowl) combine the flours, salt and oregano (I used fresh simply because I actually had it in the house for once). Pour in the yeast mixture and oil. Stir until a dough ball forms (I used my dough hook attachment). Knead for 5-6 minutes, until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. At this point, my dough was still way too sticky, so I ended up adding almost another whole cup of flour (1/4 cup at a time until I reached the correct consistency). Place in a bowl with a little olive oil, turning to coat, cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Butter Garlic Pizza Crust Recipe
Butter Garlic Pizza Crust Recipe

  3) Punch dough down. Place on a pizza pan that has been lightly brushed with olive oil. Melt the butter and stir in the garlic salt. Brush the entire crust with the garlic butter mixture. I also sprinkled it with the remaining oregano because I chopped a little more than I needed for the crust (you could, again, also use dried). 

Butter Garlic Pizza Crust Recipe

4) Bake at 450°F for 5 minutes. Brush with any remaining garlic butter and add your sauce, cheese and toppings. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Butter Garlic Pizza Crust Recipe

The toppings this time were tomatoes and bacon, plus mushrooms on his side because he's weird and likes to eat fungus. Can you see the butter oozing out from under the cheese? Yeah. Not the healthiest way to eat pizza, but damn if it's not tasty.

Oh hey! Before you go, you might want to skip on over to My New Favorite Outfit today. You may or may not find a guest post and a giveaway!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Book Review: The Zookeeper's Wife

Let me start off by saying that I made a New Year's resolution to read at least one book per month this year. This book was supposed to be June's book... which I ended up finishing about a week ago. So it took me June, July, and part of August to get through--not the easiest read. Don't get me wrong, the story is fascinating, and tells a part of history of which I had no previous knowledge; it's just the way it was written was a little hard to follow.

The Zookeeper's Wife is the story of the director of the Warsaw Zoo, Jan Zabinski, and his wife, Antonina. It recounts their lives as they struggle through WWII era Poland, while also helping 300 friends, neighbors, and strangers escape the clutches of the invading Nazis. After the zoo is bombed during the blitzkrieg as the Germans invaded Poland, they use the zoo, their house, and its grounds as a safe haven for anyone needing one until they could get things in order and escape the country, or move to the next safe house. 

It is told mostly from the perspective of Antonina, frequently referencing her personal diary, and also using others' memoirs, photographs, and other historical documents for reference. This allows us to view the war in a way we (or at least I) never have before: through the eyes of one distinct set of people (the Zabinski family) as they make their way through it. There are times when the author focuses solely on Antonina's accounts, her fears, her actions, that the book reads almost like a historical fiction. This is when the book is easiest to read. Reading about everything that happens to the family, the dangers Jan, Antonina, and their son face (both individually and together), left me desperately following along to find out what would happen next.

And then the author interjects. This is why the book was so hard to get into. I'm not saying that what she was interjecting had no place in the book, because the facts and historical frame that she offers to the story of the Zabinskis is important and interesting in its own right. It's the way it was done. I sometimes found myself confused and lost as to what was happening and what we were talking about. Sometimes the interjections had nothing to do with what was going on in the previous paragraph. It was really difficult to follow along with for that reason.

That being said, I still recommend the book. It is unique in the fact that it recounts the courage of one family, helping hundreds of Jews at the risk of their lives and everything they loved. A story which I am sad that I had never heard before. And there are a lot of other historical facts in the book not relating to the Zabinskis that I also previously did not know. All in all, I learned a lot and found most of it fascinating. But if you do read it, you've been warned-- the author is kind of like a squirrel with caffeine in how much she jumps around.

Do you think you would read this book? And do you have any recommendations you want to share with me? I'm always looking to add books to my reading list!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Homesick

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Homesick
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Homesick
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Homesick
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Homesick

Apologies for the late post and boring outfit today, guys, but today is the day I took my baby sister back to the airport. Having her here was like having a little slice of home, and it made me both incredibly happy and incredibly homesick. Now that she's gone, all that's left is homesick.

I am immensely grateful that I got to spend her birthday with her, and that she was able to come for a week and a half, and that we had so much fun together, but her absence now has thrown into even sharper contrast how badly I want to go back to Nebraska. Sure, I grew up in Kansas, and most of my family still lives there. But for four years I lived in Nebraska and it wormed its way into my heart and just fit so snug-ly in the part of it that is designated for "home." Not a day goes by that we don't wish we were back there already.

Fortunately, we're a little over halfway through our time out here, so for now I will continue to take advantage of the pros of being here. Even on the days where I lose sight of them, like today.

Sorry for being a debby downer, I hope you all are having a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Layer Cake

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Layer Cake

 This is the cake I made for my sister's birthday. She is a HUGE peanut butter/chocolate fan, so I scoured the internet for a fun cake that incorporated those two ingredients (there were a LOT to choose from) and settled on this one because c'mon, who doesn't want cookie dough with their cake and frosting? I barely made any changes to it, so this is less an adaptation than a copy, but I wanted to share my results with you all anyway. 


  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup canola oil
Eggless Peanut Butter Cookie Dough
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
Double Chocolate Frosting
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray two 9 inch cake pans with cooking spray.

2. Heat the milk in a microwave safe bowl until hot, about 45-60 seconds. Remove and add chocolate chips. Let sit for 1 minute then stir to melt.

3. In a stand mixer, mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt and baking soda to combine. Slowly add the eggs, sour cream, oil and melted chocolate mixture until combined. Divide batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for about 40 minutes (recipe says 30, mine needed 40), or until baked through. Remove and let cool. Remove cakes from pans.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Layer Cake
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Layer Cake

 4. To prepare cookie dough, beat butter and peanut butter until creamy and smooth. Add sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, flour and milk, mixing until thick and cookie dough consistency.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Layer Cake

5. To prepare frosting, beat butter until creamy. Slowly add powdered sugar and cocoa until thick. Beat in melted chocolate. Stack one cake on top of a cake plate, and top with peanut butter cookie dough layer. Top with second cake and frost entire cake. (Since my cakes rose more than the original recipe's cakes did, I had to shave a thin layer off the top of the bottom cake in order for the top layer to sit flat on top of it and the dough.)

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Layer Cake
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Layer Cake
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Layer Cake

And voila! This cake is a bit labor intensive, so I would save it for a special occasion. BUT the cookie dough part is easy and perfect for just making a bowl of and eating straight. Eggless cookie dough is awesome like that.

Anyway, happy birthday to you, little sister!

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Layer Cake

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Speechless

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Speechless
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Speechless
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Speechless
our corgi Bandit joins in on the fun

I don't have many words for you today. But I do have an outfit, so that counts for something! Right?

I wore this on Monday to take my sister and E to the aquarium. Then we tried to go to my favorite cupcake shop but they had sold out of cupcakes for the day. Maybe that's why I'm short on words today, I'm still mourning the cupcake I didn't get to eat. 

Man, guys, sorry I'm so boring today. Hope you all have a happy Hump Day, and I promise I'll be back tomorrow with more interesting words!

Linking up with Fashion & Beauty Finds for Keeping It Casual Wednesday!

Pancetta Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

Pancetta Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

Last night I was going to make bruschetta chicken. But then I realized that it was pretty much the same thing as the bruschetta salmon, and that wasn't really blog-worthy. So I challenged myself to come up with something different, and this is that something.

Fortunately, a friend got me a meat tenderizer over the weekend (after I made an offhand comment that I still didn't have one... how sweet), so I just pounded out the chicken breasts, stuffed them with spinach and parmesan, and wrapped them in some leftover pancetta. Bam.


4 thin sliced chicken breasts
8 cups spinach
1/2 cup shredded parmesan (give or take)
4 slices pancetta (or bacon)
salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 375°. Saute the spinach.

Pancetta Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

2. Put the chicken breasts in a sheet of plastic wrap and pound out until about 1/2 inch thick. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place spinach and parmesan on top, then roll the chicken breast up.

Pancetta Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

3. Place in baking pan and wrap with slices of pancetta (or bacon). At this point I would normally secure the wraps with toothpicks, but alas, I had none. It worked out okay in the end, but if you have toothpicks, I'd use them.

Pancetta Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

4. Bake for 35 minutes and enjoy!

Pancetta Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

I'd almost finished eating before I remembered to take a picture of what it looks like inside. How pretty is that? 

This was a huge crowd pleaser. Even my very picky little sister enjoyed it (and said I should make it a regular thing)! If I didn't have this blog, I never would have made this dish. How's that for a great hobby

Hope everybody is having a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Why Blogging Is The Perfect Hobby For Stay-At-Home Moms

Why Blogging Is The Perfect Hobby For Stay-At-Home Moms 
In the few months I have been blogging, I have fallen in love with it. Before, I was depressed about being so far away from everyone I loved, not having any friends or really any reason to leave the house, no adult interaction other than with my husband, nothing to do in the quiet of the night after everyone else was in bed. I needed a hobby. I settled on blogging, and I'm so glad I did. I feel better about myself, I've discovered that I actually have knowledge that is worth sharing on the internet, I'm more experimental with clothes and food, and I'm even more deliberate about how I spend my time, both alone and with my family. I've made new friendships, and have learned so much. I never thought blogging would have such a positive impact on my life, but I'm so glad it has. 

But you don't just have to take my word for it! I asked three other stay-at-home mom bloggers what they thought about blogging, and they were kind enough to share their answers with me:

Becky and Mandy of The Mommy Trilogy, and Autumn of Pretty & Mine

1) Has your image of yourself improved since starting your blog?

I don’t think my image of myself has improved as we have only been blogging for a few months.  I will say I have given myself permission to make myself more of a priority, though because of the blog.  I find time to work out and shop all in the name of “research” for the blog. ;)
This is a difficult question for me since I found out I was pregnant within the same time frame as starting the blog, and my self image is typically not great the more pregnant I get! The blog has encouraged me to make an effort in my appearance, even on days I'd rather be wearing sweats, if only because I know there will be pictures taken that may end up on the blog. ;) It's also introduced me to other pregnant bloggers and how stylish they can be, which also encourages me to put forth effort when it comes to my image. 

I would definitely say that my image of myself has improved since I started blogging regularly. I struggle a lot with insecurity, and my blog was a way for me to just put myself out there, the real me, and challenge myself to just be confident in who I really am. And you know what? So far people have responded incredibly positively, even going so far as to tell me that I'm inspiring! Very hard for me to believe, but definitely a confidence booster! 

2) How much time do you spend on yourself now vs. before your blog?

I don’t know if I spend more time on myself, but I don’t feel as guilty about it now as I did before!

As far as time on myself, I feel that the blog hasn't increased this much...I've always made a point to allow time to do my hair/makeup in the mornings because we are on the go so much and I feel much better about myself when I do. I've also always loved to shop and that is often my "me" time on the weekends when The Hubs can be home with the boys (I like to shop a few hours during nap time, he likes to nap on the weekends with them so its a win-win). However, just time spent blogging and reading other blogs, which could be classified as time spent on myself, has increased, and I find myself doing this many weekdays while the boys are napping when I'd typically be cleaning or doing laundry in the past! 

In my line of work (stay at home, homeschooling, mom), “me time” is hard to come by. But that's the great thing about blogging as a hobby. It can be done here and there, any time you have a few minutes. You don't need to get out a bunch of supplies, just to have to put them right back away because the baby woke up from his nap early. It's great to be able to just take a few minute break to myself throughout the day, to snap a few photos, edit, brainstorm, write... Before blogging I never took time for myself, because it seemed like anything I would do would just be too complicated. I've found the perfect hobby to fit into my lifestyle!

3) What's the best thing to come out of blogging for you so far?

Connecting with new people all around the country...and getting out of my comfort zone with my style--think pattern mixing!  
I agree with Becky-definitely connecting with new people, especially connecting with others who make you feel you are "not alone" whether that be as a mom, trying to lose that last 10 pounds, finding a style, or just keeping up with life in general.
It has given me an opportunity to rediscover my creative side! I haven't had a creative outlet for years, and was feeling like I had completely lost it. It has been so much fun to stir up the creativity within me!

I feel like I should also say, almost every time a read a blogger interview, their answer to this question has something to do with the relationships they have built and the wonderful blogging community. And I'm hopeful that soon I will feel the same way. I just haven't been around long enough! ;-)
4) Would you recommend blogging as an outlet for other SAHMs?

Absolutely!  I think if I would’ve started a blog when we first moved five years ago, and I decided to quit teaching and stay at home, I would’ve had an easier time finding interaction even via technology versus real life is better than NONE when you are stuck in a house with twin one year olds! 

Again, I agree with Bec! Especially with a traveling husband, blogging definitely gives me an outlet for adult interaction and a way to connect with other moms for advice, or even just to vent frustrations and/or celebrate small victories in parenting!

Obviously, the answer is absolutely yes! Be who you are, share your life with others, have fun!

Thanks, ladies! Not every hobby is for everyone, but I really think that blogging has a large number of benefits for stay-at-home moms who are looking for something to do in their free time (or for  a reason to create more "me time") that will positively impact their life.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Sister Style!


As you may know, my sister is currently in town visiting. Well, my sister and I just so happen to have the same pair of booties, and she just so happened to bring them with her, so for today's outfit post we're having a sister style, where we each styled our booties!

I played dress up and wore something I wouldn't normally wear because, what else would you do with your sister? We had a lot of fun doing this, as you can see:

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tortellini "Soup" Recipe

tortellini soup recipe

 I don't know why I have such a hard time naming my recipes. This recipe is soupier than a normal pasta dish, but not as soupy as a traditional soup, therefore "soup" is in quotation marks. Just go with it. A rose by any other name is still delicious.


1 pkg tortellini (I used Buitoni chicken and proschiutto)
1 pkg frozen yellow squash
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 jar spaghetti sauce (I used roasted garlic)


1. Prepare tortellini and squash according to package directions. Drain each of them and combine in the pot you boiled the tortellini in.
2. Add the can of diced tomatoes (juice included) and the half jar spaghetti sauce. Simmer until everything is warm. Serve with garlic bread to soak up the liquid (my favorite part). 

That's it! I don't know if this even really counts as a recipe, but it was quite tasty, if I do say so myself, and very fall-y too (noticing a theme this week?). Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Closet Amnesia

Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Closet Amnesia
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Closet Amnesia
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Closet Amnesia
Stay-At-Home Mom Style: Closet Amnesia

Everything on my top half today is new. I spent the rest of August's budget on this tee, vest and necklace, and since I got them in the mail last week I've worn them almost non-stop. 

The funny thing about getting new clothes is, I suffer a bit of "closet amnesia" for about a week where I forget everything else in my wardrobe and ONLY want to wear the newest item(s). Is it just me? 

On another note, I've been hunting for a military vest off and on for about a year now. I finally found this one on JC Penny's website, and loved everything about it except the rhinestones or whatever on one pocket. Not my style, so I dismissed it and kept looking. 

I then stumbled across it again a couple weeks ago, on clearance, and it occurred to me... I have a seam ripper, I could just take those puppies off and it'll be perfect! I'm a little ashamed I didn't think of that the first time, but I'm also glad I waited because I got it for a much better price. 

Vest: JC Penny (still on clearance!)
Shirt: JC Penny (also still on clearance)
Necklace: Caroline G. (got it free from an offer on facebook, they appear to be sold out now)
Jeans: Target
Flats: Wal-Mart

Linking up with Keeping It Casual on Fashion and Beauty Finds!

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