Favorite Things

I love…

I love that we’ve had a couple cooler mornings recently, reminding me that fall is right around the corner. I love fall.

I love when I head to the ‘expensive’ nearby grocery store for two quick things and they both happen to be on sale.

I love a random, unexpected note of encouragement/text from my husband.

I love when my kids use great manners without any prompting. “Yes ma’am, mom. I’ll do it.”

I love when I go to check on the kids and find that Brooks has snuck into bed with his brother and is tucked under his arm.

I love my husband with two days of facial hair – a solid 5 o’clock shadow.

I love freshly showered little boys snuggled with mom and dad in the big bed reading a bedtime story.

I love a great date night. Recipe = fun + humor + hot date + good food

I love when I come downstairs to find a clean kitchen.  (Thanks Dishes Fairy!)

I love the excitement on my kids face when we do something extra special and you can tell they feel on top of the world.

I love the drive home after an especially great day at work.

I love car trips with my husband.

I love that my kids live so close to their cousins and family that we get to do extended family activities so often.

What do you love?

Repost: Recipe – Mile High Rocky Road Marshmallow Bars

This week I’m taking a blogging break. Instead of posting any new things, I went back into my archives and found a few of my favorite past posts.  Things I think are worth posting twice.  

This is one of my most often requested recipes. Especially during the holidays because I make them for teacher gifts, neighbors and holiday parties we attend.  So in case you haven’t had enough in the holiday treat department or you’re looking for something delicious to make tonight for your New Years Eve party, here you go!

know every woman has in her arsenal a “go-to” appetizer or dessert that you can whip up with 5 ingredients or less and know it will be a hit at the party!  This is one of those recipes for me.

When I worked in the mortgage finance world, they passed out desk calendars each January.  One year, the calendar had a recipe of the month on each page and I adapted one of those monthly recipes to come up with these rocky road marshmallow bars.

One day, I made them as directed but I wasn’t in love with the flavor.  Their recipe had butterscotch chips, which I replaced with peanut butter chips and I also changed some of the ratios to fit my taste.

The Mile High Rocky Road Marshmallow Bars

choc marsh bars

1 pk choc chips (I like to use milk chocolate but if you like another kind, try them out!)
1 pk PB chips – the peanut butter version of choc chips (the original recipe calls for butterscotch chips but I changed it, you may want to try the original way)
About a half cup of chunky peanut butter (I use one to two heaping spoonful’s)
About half to three-quarters cup of peanuts (I use honey roasted)
1 ½ bags of mini marshmallows

Put two types of chips and PB in large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on 60% power for 90 seconds. Stir.  Microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring in between until chips are completely melted and incorporated.  Stir in peanuts and marshmallows and mix until the chocolate covers everything.  Pour out into foil lined 9×13 dish.  Refrigerate until chocolate hardens (I usually do it overnight but it probably only takes an hour or two to set). Then cut into small bars – they are rich so I usually do 1.5″x1.5″ squares.

I prefer to serve them cold where the chocolate is a little harder and crunchy, offsetting the soft marshmallows.  I’ve also had some people tell me they like them better sitting out – when the chocolate and marshmallows are more soft and gooey.

With thanksgiving

If you know me well, you may know that one of my top 5 verses is Philippians 4:6-8. I tend to be a pessimist, a worrier, an overthinker and this verse just speaks to me.  Lately, I’ve been honing in on two words of verse 6.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

WITH THANKSGIVING – what a great reminder.

I know that when I’m stressed or worried, I need to bring it to God. To pray and ask Him to calm my heart. To ask for what I want.  To lay it out before Him. But too often, I overlook the “with thanksgiving” part.  The part that tells me that when I’m bringing my requests, I need to also bring my thanks.

Thanks to Him for bringing me through past trials.
Thanks to Him for the great life I live and the fact that my worries are minimal compared to so many others.
Thanks to Him for closing doors and opening them. For giving us a set direction in what our life should be.
Thanks for so many blessings and the ability to be surrounded by an infinite number of positive and awesome things.
Thanks for answering our prayers, even if they weren’t the answer we were hoping for.
Thanks for speaking to me. For allowing me to have a close relationship with Him when I am the least deserving of Him and His presence.
Thanks for the people who are in our life and help us walk through the good and the bad.

Yes, I am so very good at bringing my requests. But I’m not very good at remembering the thanks.  Especially as we dig into this time of year – my absolute favorite – I’m going to make a concerted effort to give more thanks. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to have requests, it means that I’m going to order my prayer and give thanks for everything before I load Him down with my struggles and worries.

Yes, this is the perfect time for me to focus on thanksgiving.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Modeling Agency Rejects

It’s hard shopping for my parents. Well, it’s hard to shop for anyone in my family – period.  We have everything we need and more. We are all so abundantly, overly, crazily blessed.

So each time a birthday rolls around, I try to rack my brain for something that they’d love and won’t just collect dust on a shelf or in the garage.  This year, I gave my mom the gift of photography for her birthday. It’s been over two years since we had a family picture taken – and since then Isla and Laylin were added to the family (It was just before Isla was born).

Our original date was in September and (luckily/unluckily) my sisters kids got sick and we had to cancel.  When rescheduled for Nov and it worked out perfectly because the fall colors are AWESOME in these pictures. We’d never have gotten them if we did our original date. #thankfulforastomachbug?!

If you don’t want to see a bajillion pics of my fam and extended fam, close your eyes now!! If you want to see adorable, quirky, crazy people and the challenge of getting 14 people to look in the same direction, at the same time, with all eyes open then, by all means, proceed:

The 6 serious cousins

fam1 fam2 fam3 fam4 fam5

Yes, these are my people.

fam6 fam7

And we aren’t normal.

fam8 fam9

fam10

Gigi and Papa’s pride and joy. Yes they love these grandbabies a million times more than they love me and my siblings. Totally understandable.

fam11 fam12

Me and my favorite boys.

fam13 fam14 fam15 fam16 fam17

Frameworthy.

fam18 fam19 fam20

Definitely my favorite of the bunch.  Being a part of this family is seriously amazing.

fam21

And no, there were no modeling contracts offered after this photoshoot. I guess we aren’t TOP MODEL material, but we’ll keep working on it!

Pictures by Monica from MRS Photography. Yes, she is outstanding.

Our House-iversary

We’ve officially been in our house for one year!  Yay!

There are so many great things about our place that make how we operate and our family life so much better and organized.  The fact that we aren’t cramped for storage space and that we have an extra guest room and dedicated office space has also been so wonderful!

To mark this occasion, I’ll share the three things I love most and the three things I don’t like about our house.

LOVES:
1. Garage space. I absolutely LOVE that we can park both of our cars in the garage.  No more scraping the windows for a little morning ice or driving with my head just below the wheel so I can peek out of a frosted winter windshield.  Plus it’s always nice and comfy to get in the car, no cold seats!!  Bonus is that we also have lots of extra garage space for storing tools, lawn stuff, bikes and more!

2. Our nook.  We have a entry way with little built-in cubbies that I just love.  It’s a great organizational area for our kids to keep their bookbags, some shoes, their school papers and more.  I know that as our kids get older, it will be used even more (sports bag, school projects, etc.). I just LOVE having this extra storage space.

nook

3. The playroom.  In our old house, our living area was toy central.  We kept boxes of toys on the stair landing and there were always millions of plastic pieces and stuffed creatures strewn across the place.  Now we have a dedicated play area and it is amazing.  We might get a truck or two downstairs, but generally, most of the toys stay upstairs in a big ol’ room that is perfect for making huge train tracks, playing a game of indoor basketball or snuggling in the kids tent.  Such a fun space!

WISHES:
1. I really don’t love our sink. I know big whoop – a sink. And obviously not a reason to pass on a house, but I can’t stand double bowl sinks – which is what we have.  I really want a big one bowl sink so that I can clean my pots and cookie sheets easily without all the water runoff over the counter!  (I def think this will be a future upgrade for the kitchen!)

2. A different front door set up. Yes, I love that our front door has lots of glass panels that let light into our foyer, but when you are out there with all the windows, you can easily look inside and see our entire upstairs hallway.  Not the best when I am running down it naked to the hall closet because I forgot to get a towel before my shower.

3. Our flooring.  I love for one consistent flooring throughout the main level and we have two (used to have three but took care of that this weekend – bye bye office carpet!). Tile and a vinyl wood flooring that I don’t like. It’s a very light washed looking wood – and I’d much rather have a tan or cherry colored floor palette.  Here is the color:

floor

flooring
(In action:  Living room – pic from before we moved in)

I also like just one type of flooring instead of the tile/wood combo that goes throughout the first floor, but the wood flooring product  is super expensive so we won’t be adding anymore than just the office.

Again, nothing really major – definitely #firstworldproblems.  There are a million things I love about the house and only a handful I don’t like.

So happy house-iversary!  It took a while but I love that our house really feels like home now!

The best anniversary gift

This year, my husband gave/is giving me the best anniversary gift ever!  Granted, it was something specific that I asked for. But he’s following through with it.

One specific positive affirmation a day – every day – for the next year.

And you might think – oh, that’s easy, she didn’t ask for jewelry or shoes, just a positive affirmation a day. And for some husbands, this would be the easiest.

But for us, this is big.  My husband would LOVE to just buy me something and be done with it. I prefer gifts that are acts of service or words of affirmation – those are definitely my love languages.  For Dean, this is not his natural way to show love so he’s having to speak in my language… for a whole year! His love language is gifts so buying (and getting) things is his favorite!

The kicker is he has to write it down for me with the date so I can keep all the notes and relive the affirmations over and over again. In this season of life where there is a lot fighting for my focus – two attention-starved boys (it’s just that stage), a busy husband, a full-time job, a never ending project list on the house – sometimes I need reminders that I am doing a good job in the different areas of life and I appreciate the little, specific affirmations.

These aren’t just – You look nice. or You cooked a good dinner.

Some of the ones I’ve received are:
“I love the way you take time to read bible stories to the kids.”
“I’m proud of the way you have been running and training even with a cold.”
“I like the new color palette you picked for the house.”  (He originally wasn’t on board with my color choice!)
“You are doing a great job staying on top of your bible study.”

All the presents in the world can’t compare to the time and thoughtfulness that he has been putting into this. (And he’ll tell you – it takes a lot of time to do these 😉 )  It’s definitely the BEST anniversary gift I’ve ever received!

It’s Fall…

This fall, we have lots of plans for our family.

– A trip to the pumpkin patch (of course!) but also looking at a trip to go apple picking in the mountains.  We’ve never gone apple picking before!

– A weekend away as our family of four to either the beach or the mountains.  Just a couple days to hang together and enjoy Team Dean.

– Planting tulips.  Tulips are my favorite flower.  This fall, I’m going to work with my special garden helpers to plant a small patch of tulips out front.  I know they’ll be my favorite thing this spring!

– Baking with my sous chefs.  I’ve recently started “cooking class” with my kids.  This is where they like to be my audience while I make special dishes – I usually add some flair and a French/European accent.  Other times, they get right in there and are my super assistants – mixing and sprinkling and stirring.  Fall is my favorite time of the year for trying new recipes and heating up the kitchen.

– Coffee/Tea/Donut dates.  With the mornings getting cooler, I can guarantee we’ll be hitting up the Dunkin several Saturday mornings for a family date.

– A football party.  I’m sure at least one weekend we’ll invite over people over for a game day – food, football, family, friends. (3 of my favorite F’s – guess which one isn’t!?)

Yes, our fall is bound to be full of family time and fun experiences.