Vegetable chowder and my PERFECT Fall day!

It’s finally been getting colder in my neck of the woods! I absolutely love the fall and winter weather! I love the smell of the rain and wearing hoodies and jeans everywhere! When I get to be home with nothing to do, there is nothing better than cuddling up on the couch and having some nice warm soup while watching the fire burn.

Last weekend I got to thinking; I had the nice fall weather and the smell of the rain, and I was pretty sure I could convince the hubby to get a fire burning, so there was just one thing missing to make this my perfect day…my soup! As always I was scrolling around Pinterest and found this tasty looking vegetable chowder from Lulu the Baker here. Even better, I had all the ingredients on hand!

Looks super yummy! So I got to work. I started by prepping all my ingredients to make my life a little easier.

20121120-122541.jpg Half an onion, chopped, 2 stalks of celery, chopped, 1 cup of carrots, 2 large potatoes, cubed and 4 cloves of garlic. The recipe called for a little less celery than I used, but only because they didn’t like celery as much. I happen to have no problem with extra veggies so in they went. It also called for a little less garlic than I used. Have I mentioned I love garlic?! An all natural healer, and adds tons of flavor! I usually double the amount of garlic in any recipe! And instead of chopping the carrots I grated them.

To start the soup I melted a couple tablespoons of butter then threw in the onion, celery and carrots to soften up a bit.

20121120-122925.jpg After a few minutes of cooking I added the Garlic in and cooked it for a few more minutes.

20121120-123011.jpg Then, I added 4 cups of chicken stock and the potatoes. I then let it simmer for a while until the potatoes became soft. About 15-20 minutes.

20121120-123122.jpgOnce the potatoes became soft I added a milk and flour mix to thicken the soup up. I let it boil for a few minutes before adding in the broccoli. Then simmer again until the broccoli becomes tender.

20121120-123306.jpg Now for the cheese!!! Who doesn’t love cheese?! It makes everything better! Everything! Two cups of grated cheddar cheese and that was that. My chowder was done! It looked, smelled, and most of all, tasted amazing!! I will definitely be making this again. Thanks Lulu the Baker, for topping off my perfect fall day!!


Black matte manicure…with new polish!!

Last week during my weekly trip to Target I stumbled upon (more like hunted every aisle until I found it ) a matte top coat polish! I love getting a new polish every time I make a trip to Target, for less than $2, why not?! A friend of mine had this one and told me she bought it at Target, but I kept forgetting to look every time I went. Finally, I remembered! I was super stoked to get home and try this!

I knew just the look I wanted to try. A beautiful black matte polish manicure, with shiny black tips I came across on Pinterest. The only problem I had was there was no link to the original photo. So, all I had was the picture to go off. Didn’t seem too hard.

Here is the matte top coat. At $1.77, this was a steal! Especially because I can put it on top of ANY color to make it matte, so pretty much I’ve just doubled my polish collection!!

For this weeks nails I used Sinful Colors in black and my regular top coat by O.P.I as a base. I put the clear coat first to prevent the black from staining my nails. Then I put one coat of black. I wanted to do 2 but was worried about putting too many coats and it not drying properly. Then I tried to decide how I wanted to apply the matte and shiny tips. I had 2 options; 1. Place the matte top coat sideways and leave the tip alone which would keep it shiny without applying any more coats of anything or 2. Cover the whole nail with the matte top coat then once it dries add the clear coat to the tips to create the shiny French manicure look.

After careful consideration (and pure laziness) I chose the first option. I just figured the least amount of coats, the better. There is nothing worse than applying too many coats of polish and sitting around for the never ending drying process.

20121119-143354.jpg I think they came out ok. I realize that I definitely need to brush up on my photo skills, but either way you get the picture. Next time I attempt something like this, I will chose option 2. Putting the matte coat on sideways was my first mistake. I don’t even know what I was thinking trying to paint my nails sideways! Then, the line wasn’t straight and I couldn’t really put any more coats of anything on the tips, at the risk of ruining the matte. My nails started to chip pretty quickly and I think it’s because the black tips only had one coat of color and no top coat. Lesson learned. I got quite a few compliments on the matte coat, and I can’t wait to try it a different way next week!

Spaghetti squash

Every week me and the kids take a trip to story time at the local Barnes and Nobles. This gets us out of the house for a bit, and gives me a chance to hit up the farmers market around the corner afterwards. I love taking the kids to the farmers market and letting them help me pick what we should buy in hopes that they’ll eat more fruits and veggies.

This past week I came across spaghetti squash! Although I’ve seen this numerous times on Pinterest, I’ve always bit a intimidated to try it. Replace my carbs with squash? Why on earth would I want to do that? Turns out carbs are the enemy! Lol Well I decided to finally take the plunge, and for only $2, what did I have to lose? So off I went on my merry little way, ready to tackle the infamous spaghetti squash!

Of course, first thing I did was hit up Pinterest for some recipes on how to cook this bad boy! I decided I would try and make chicken Parmesan with spaghetti squash and I found the perfect recipe here at Modern Alternative Mama. I grabbed my squash and got to work.

20121115-132522.jpg The recipe stated it would be hard to cut in half and boy was she right! I think my arm was actually sore from cutting this. Pathetic, I know. It took a few minutes but I got finally got it cut.

20121115-132659.jpg Then, with the advice of a friend I took all the seeds out like a cantaloupe. Then I cooked it. I did 350 degrees for an hour on a cookie sheet. I laid it on a bed of water, which I assume helps it steam. When it was done I let it cool and took a fork to it to make the “spaghetti”. From all the pictures and recipes I have always came across, I was under the impression that it was going to be long and stringy, like spaghetti. Although it was very stringy it reminded me more of grains rather than noodles. My daughter actually thought it was rice.


While the squash was cooking I went ahead and make my chicken Parmesan. A simple basic recipe I just threw together myself. I coated the chicken with egg and breadcrumbs, which I then fried up (So healthy, I know but hey, baby steps right?). Once the chicken pieces were cooked, I laid them on a cookie sheet topped with grated mozzarella and put them in the over for a few minutes until the cheese was melted.

20121115-134052.jpgAnd here, is the finish product!!

In the end I actually ended up liking the spaghetti squash. It had a bit of crunch and added a little bit of sweetness to the dish, but pretty much took on the flavor of the red sauce. All in all, great recipe and a great way for me to get back into my healthy eating habits!

French braid

I love to braid my daughters hair. She has a full head of thick, beautiful, brown hair. She on the other hand, hates for me to do her hair. 😦 “Ponytail, please” is every mornings usual request. If she forgets ill try to start a braid before she notices and its too late to stop because “I’ve already started”.

A quick and easy braid I always go for is the classic French braid. It keeps all her hair out of her face and, for the most part, stays in place throughout the day. And it’s quick! Like 3 minutes quick! And when she’s rushin out the door 6 minutes before school starts, (we live 3 minutes away) it’s perfect.

The only problem I come across every time is the same bump that I create on the top of her head. Something about the hair placement really bugs me and I will literally do it over 3 times until I just send her on her way Because really? Who’s gonna notice?

But I notice!! Which is why I was ecstatic (too much?) when I found this pin here at Beauty Tutorials on Pinterest. It features Lauren Conrad who I love. I especially love her blog The Beauty Department.

Anyway it starts the classic French braid with a tiny ponytail with the middle center hair.

20121113-195017.jpg I did it here on my daughters head. You can see the layers upon layers of hair she has. It took me a minute to figure out how thick to make it.

Then I braided it like I would any other. This really helped with the bump that used to bug me so much which was a huge plus!

20121113-195218.jpg here’s the finished product. It looks really crooked to me! Lol and I realized the ponytail up top was way to thick! I definetly like this method, it’s just gonna take some trial and error to get it down juuust how I like it! Another amazing pin!

Mexican pizza…it’s what’s for dinner.

Pinterest recipes never seem to fail me. Every once in a while I get stuck in a dinner rut and get tired of making the same things over and over. Enter: Pinterest. One of my favorite recipes I discovered through Pinterest is the skinny version of Taco Bells Mexican Pizza.

I came across this recipe here at Menu Musing and let me tell you, this is amazing! Doesn’t taste “skinny” at all, has tons of flavor and is very filling. So filling in fact, my hubby cant even finish a whole one!

First thing I did to start making these was to broil my flour tortillas and set them aside.

Next I added chicken stock to a can of no fat refried beans to thin them out and make them more spreadable.

Then I added all the seasonings along with a Taco Bell seasoning packet and cooked the ground turkey.

While it was cooking I prepped the rest of my ingredients to get ready for assembly!

20121113-135934.jpg Once everything was done, I assembled them. On one tortilla, I covered the bottom with the ground turkey and red salsa. On another tortilla, I spread the refried beans and then sandwiched the two tortillas together. Then, I put green salsa on the top covered with cheese, tomato, green onion and olives. Baked them for 10 minutes and they were ready!!!

20121113-140014.jpg Looks delish right?! Oh , believe me it was! Although I didn’t follow the recipe exactly I used what I had on hand, as I usually do, and it still came out great! Enjoy!

Rainbow rice sensory bin

Running a daycare may sound like an easy job, but believe me, it’s no easy task. Although I try my hardest to keep the kids on a set schedule, I’m only one person and sometimes I have to take time out to clean up after an activity or make lunch. For this, we have a few different free play times during the day. The kids can get pretty bored with the same toys week after week so I make an effort to switch things around every few weeks.

One area the kids love and is easily changed is the sensory area. I have a small mirror, a light table, and then there is the rainbow rice sensory bin which I can say, without a doubt, is their favorite. There’s really not much to a sensory bin and keeps kids seriously entertained. The kids sit around filling and emptying cups into other containers, pretending theyre making food or pretending their digging things up all from this simple bin of colored rice! This can easily be changed by adding different toys to match a weekly theme or holiday.

I learned how to color rice from Artful Homemaking here. It was pretty easy. I bought a big 10 lb bag of rice (which ended up being waaay too much) seperated it into 5 different bowls and died it using alcohol, food coloring and a few drops of water. I let it dry overnight and threw it all together in a big plastic bin from Target. I added in all kinds of different things to keep the kids busy;empty and cleaned bottles, spoons, cups, measuring cups etc. I also love to change the things in the bin according to holidays. We just had a really cute one for Halloween that the kids really enjoyed.

Although I keep this outside in the garage/playroom, I do occasionally bring it in the house if we have kids visiting or my daughter has a friend over from school. Most kids never played with something like a sensory bin, so it’s a treat!

Here’s a peak at what ours looks like

20121112-194342.jpgwe also have some alphabet magnets just for fun! And chance I get to throw some learning and letter recognition I’m all in!

Weekly manicure

One thing I love is to get my nail inspiration from Pinterest! And although I have never drawn shoes on my nails or little animals, I love the simple addition of a glittered accent nail. I usually change my color every Thursday or Friday to get ready for the weekend. By Sunday they’ve usually chipped, but it doesn’t matter to me what they look like during the week anyway!
I got my inspiration this week from here at I absolutely LOVE the way these nails look and knew I had the colors to do my own version.

20121108-164304.jpg For this I used Sinful Colors “black on black” and a gold glitter I got in a holiday pack from Old Navy last Christmas by Tip Toe. I topped it off with O.P.I top coat. Although my gold was not the same, I still love the way it came out!

20121108-164526.jpg Hubby called them “sexy”, the bestie called them “edgy”, and here I was thinking they looked elegant! Lol until next week…