Friday, September 19, 2014

Best. Day. Ever. and T-shirt Giveaway!

Best. Day. Ever.

What does that mean to you?  Well I'll tell you what it means to me.  As a busy mom with 3 young kids, it's rare to have a whole best day.  There are good moments and bad moments every day.  Actually I've been trying to focus on the small great moments with my young kids.  

It's really easy for me to think - oh when Kami is 4 she'll be much easier to handle, when Nate sleeps through the night I'll start a morning routine, when the kids are all in school I'll have time to craft, etc.  The future always looks better right?

But my kids are 3, 2, and 6 months now.  I need to focus on the now and the great things that are happening in our lives now.

I was recently challenged take pictures of what the Best Day Ever means to me.  This awesome t-shirt came from Elevate Promo.  It's a great website where you can design your own t-shirts and accessories!  Make sure you check it out!
And you can win one of your own t-shirts below so make sure to enter!
So with this Best. Day. Ever. t-shirt, I decided to take pictures of moments throughout the day that are the best!  Here's what I got.

We went to a Chalk the Block Festival and rode on a carousel ride.  My girls love the carousel!


And then there's potty training.  Best and worst day ever.  Best when it's over and you don't have to change diapers anymore.  Worst during the whole process before that.  We tried potty training Clo for a week and didn't make much progress.  We decided to start again in a few months.  :-)


When I don't have to cook dinner and when I can try new food!


These other pictures I wasn't wearing my shirt, but still great moments I wanted to share.
Sweet smiles from my kids.  This boy just makes my day so much brighter!  He's such a happy kid!


Kami is really getting into doing hair.  She definitely believes the more the merrier when it comes to bows and headbands and clips.  And that they are not only for girls.  :-)


Playing dress up and letting Kami decide what I should wear.


Another waffle one?  Um yes!  I love waffles and I love baked apples.  So eating Caramel Apple Waffles for dinner is always the best day ever.


Enter the giveaway below for your own Best. Day. Ever. T-shirt!








Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace Book Review

If you are looking for a role model or a great example of someone who does amazing things, I have one for you - Noelle Pikus Pace.  You might recognize her name.  She won a silver medal at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia in the sport of Skeleton.

I don't think I even knew what skeleton was before this last Olympics.  Skeleton is where someone rides face first on a sled down an icy track.  The racer can get up to speeds of 90 mph!  Sounds pretty scary right?  I think so.  But not for Noelle.  As a woman who loved sports growing up she went from track and field to bobsledding to skeleton. 



Focused is a book written by Noelle Pikus Pace about 10 lessons she's learned throughout her career as an athlete and in life in general.  Some of my favorite chapters are "Can I Sit Here" about becoming someone who makes the effort to be a real friend, "A Model of Perfection" about a photo shoot that didn't go as planned (I love how real she is about this!), and "A Well Balanced Life" about good, better, and best activities in your life.

She shares stories about things that happened to her in her life and how she overcame, persevered, and became a champion not just as an athlete, but as a person.  And let me tell you why she is super woman - she was in a bobsled accident before the 2006 Olympics preventing her from going, she has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, two children, and competed in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics along with tons of competitions in between.  After reading this book, I thought, how does she do all of this?  And she seems like a super happy, well rounded person.  If she can do it, I can do my busy and crazy schedule too.  Her story inspired me.  And I know it will inspire you too!

I love how this book is also filled with great quotes and scriptures that are highlighted throughout the chapters.  Noelle is very real and shows you what she did to work on things in her life and how we can too.  We may not be Olympic athletes, but the lessons she learned are life lessons that are good for everyone to learn.

You can find Focused at Deseret Book.




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Squash & Zucchini Pasta Salad



This is a super easy recipe that my husband loves!  My kids love it too because it's a pasta dish and they always love pasta.  This is a recipe that Alan's mom made when they were kids and now we've adopted into our dinner recipes too.

It's also a perfect dish if you grow your own squash and zucchini and need to use it up or if you have a Farmer's Market nearby with fresh vegetables!





Ingredients

2 chicken breasts cooked and chopped
2 zucchini
2 squash
1 package penne rigate pasta (16oz)
Italian Salad Dressing

Directions

1. Cook your chicken whichever way you like it - boiled, crock pot, oven, etc.  
2. Once the chicken is cooked, cut it into bite size pieces.
3. Cook your pasta as directed on the package.
4. While the pasta is cooking, cut your zucchini and squash into slices.  Steam the vegetables.  We have a microwave steamer that I put in the microwave for 7 minutes.
5. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, place it in a large bowl.  Add the chicken and vegetables.
6. Then pour Italian salad dressing over the pasta and mix.  Add the amount to your own liking.  I prefer less dressing while my husband likes more.  Start with about 1/4 a bottle and keep adding until it's to your liking.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Caramel Apple Waffles



September is National Waffle month and along with a bunch of other bloggers we are having a Foodie Extravaganza all about Waffles! You can see all of the delicious recipes at the end of this post. #FoodieExtravaganza

Caramel.  Apple.  Waffles.

YUM!

We had this for dinner the other night.  It's also a great dessert.  When you get a bit of cinnamon waffle with warm baked apple topped with sweet vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce - AMAZING!



Ok here's how you make this deliciousness!

There are three things you need to make:

Baked Apples
Caramel Sauce
Waffles

Baked Apples

Ingredients:

4 apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup boiling water

Directions:

1. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Wash and core the apples.
3. Mix the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
4. Place the apples in a pan that can be sealed with a tight lid.
5. Fill the cores of the apples with the sugar mixture.
6. Place 1 Tbsp of butter on the top of each apple.
7. Pour 1/3 cup of boiling water in the bottom of the pan.  
8. Put the lid on the pan and put it in the oven for 45 minutes.

Caramel Syrup

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp light Karo syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions:

1. Place all the ingredients in a large pot (it can bubble over a small one).
2. Bring to a boil and stir constantly.
3. Boil for 3-4 minutes still stirring constantly.
4. You'll know when it's done when the syrup starts to turn a light brown.  Don't overcook!  The syrup will continue to cook when you take it off the heat.  It's better to under cook it then overcook it because it hardens on the ice cream if overcooked.
5. Take it off the heat.

Cinnamon Waffles

Ingredients:

2 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

1. Prepare the waffle mix as directed on the Bisquick box.
2. Add 1 tsp cinnamon.
3. Bake the batter in a waffle maker.


After you've made the apples, the caramel syrup, and the waffles, place a waffle on a plate, place cut pieces of the baked apple on top, place one scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the apples, then drizzle with the caramel sauce.  
And enjoy!  You are going to love this!

And now for some other great sweet and savory waffle recipes!


Welcome to the Foodie Extravaganza!
foodieextravaganza 300

We are a group of bloggers who love to blog about food! And each month we all incorporate one main ingredient into a recipe. This month the ingredient is waffles. We hope you all enjoy the delicious ways we made our waffles and be sure to come to see what next month’s new ingredient is. If you would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you!

Make sure to check out these great recipes from our group! 

14 Delicious Waffle Recipes

14 Delicious Waffle Recipes



Cinnamon Swirl Waffles from Summer Scraps

Caramel Apple Waffles from We Like to Learn as we Go

Cheddar and Jalapeno Waffles from Rhubarb and Honey

Sweet Potato Waffles from Sew You Think You Can Cook


4 Ingredient Spiced Pumpkin Waffles from Keep It Simple Sweetie

Lasagna Waffles from Love in the Kitchen

Pumpkin Pie Waffles from Eazy Peazy Mealz

Oat Sourdough Waffles from Passion Kneaded

Waffle Crusted Apple Pie Parfait from The Freshman Cook


Savory Bacon and Veggie Waffles from Fearlessly Creative Mammas

Bacon and Cheese Waffles from Housewife Eclectic

Maple Bacon Waffles from Ashlee Marie

Loaded Baked Potato Waffles from Food Lust People Love

Enjoy!


Friday, August 29, 2014

Girls Who Choose God Book Review

I recently had the opportunity to read Girls Who Choose God - Stories of Courageous Women From the Bible by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding.  This book has 11 stories with beautiful illustrations of women who made righteous decisions starting with Eve and ending with Mary Magdelene.



For Family Home Evening, we sat down with the kids and read the first story about Eve.  Each story briefly describes who the women were and a choice they had to make.  Then the story continues with what the woman chose to do and what happened.  The story concludes with an application question of a time when you had to make a similar choice.

My daughters loved this!  I love how the stories are short so my girls were able to sit and listen to the whole thing (3 and 2 year olds).  The application question is also great for children who are little older.  We helped our 3 year old think of times when she made good choices.

After we read about Eve and looked at the pictures, the girls wanted to read another! After we read the second story about Miriam, we looked at the rest of the pictures and I told them who each of the women were.  This was the best FHE we've had so far complete with songs, prayer, a lesson without fighting, closing prayer, and treats!  Coincidence that this book created a great atmosphere?  Maybe.  But it was awesome.

I think this is a great book for young girls to learn about righteous women in the Bible.  It's simple enough for young children to understand and then the question allows kids a little bit older to think about the story as well.

This is a great book for FHE lessons or for young girls to read on their own to learn about righteous women and how to be like them.  This is definitely a book you'll want in your family library.  You can find Girls Who Choose God at Deseret Book!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Best Bread Machine Wheat Bread!



My kids are growing.  Which also means they eat more food.  A few months ago we started eating more than 1 loaf of bread a week.  We don't buy the most expensive bread or the cheapest bread, but adding an extra loaf each weeks adds up on the monthly grocery bill.

I have always loved homemade bread and my mom recently gave me her bread machine.  I was super excited about that!  I love it!  So I decided to start making our bread instead of buying it.  And the bread machine does most of the work for you!  I don't let it bake the bread all the way, just because we think it tastes better.  But that is always an option too.




I tried a few different recipes and came across one that was absolutely delicious!  She doesn't use a bread machine and uses double the measurements to make two loaves.  You can check out One Sweet Appetite for directions without a bread machine.

So here's the bread I make every week!  We even use it for sandwiches.

Ingredients

1 cup warm water
1/8 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 TBSP active dry yeast

Directions

1. Place all the ingredients in the bread machine in the order they are listed.  It's important to put the yeast in last on top of the flour!
2. Turn on the bread machine to the dough cycle.  
3. After the dough timer goes off (mine is 1 hr 40 mins), take out the dough.  Shape it into a loaf and place it in a greased loaf pan
4. Let the dough rise to your desired height.  Some people let it just peak over the top of the pan.  But for sandwich bread I let it rise well over the pan so it's nice and tall.


5. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 mins.

And enjoy!  
I made some for my in-laws for both of their birthdays and they loved it!  I know you will too!

Monday, August 11, 2014

29 Bloggers Round Robin Instagram Giveaway!

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to let you know that I have an Instagram giveaway going on right now.  And it's not just a prize from me...  
There are 29 bloggers!!!

Each with a different prize in the giveaway.

It's really easy to enter.  All you have to do is head on over to Instagram.  Start with my giveaway post for a $25 Starbucks gift card!  Just follow me on Instagram and then comment on the Instagram giveaway post the answer to my question (What's your favorite thing about Fall?).


Then click on the next Instagram giveaway at the bottom of my post - @xolaurenandjane - to get to the next giveaway.  Just keep clicking through and following and commenting and entering!  You can enter each giveaway for a chance to win each prize!

Here are some of the prizes that we're giving away.

Lots of Target Gift Cards!




And lots of Amazon Gift Cards!


So get on Instagram and start following and commenting!  You could be a lucky winner!