Archive for November 2017

Thanksgiving Morning

November 28, 2017

We had the most wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope you did too! We made the rounds to see everyone and to enjoy some delicious food, and are feeling so blessed. The day always seems so busy, rushing from house to house, and little man almost always misses his nap and gets off schedule. The last few years we've settled into a Thanksgiving morning routine that allows us to relax together as a family before the rush of the day. 

We always start the day by warming up the oven and putting in a big batch of cinnamon rolls while we wait for the parade. A cinnamon roll breakfast on the holidays is a tradition I grew up with and I love passing it down to Jacob. Jacob almost always wakes up before the parade has started, so getting our cinnamon rolls ready helps fill the time. Once they're done we layer on the icing as thick as we can and enjoy! Some years I make them from scratch, THIS recipe is a favorite, but this year I went the lazy route and picked up a tube from Trader Joes. 

Once breakfast was done and it was time for the parade to start I whipped up some icing and we assembled Jacob's Gingerbread Turkey while we watched the parade. I don't know who decided that gingerbread isn't just for Christmas, but we're not mad about it. Jacob stuck two blue candies on the icing eyes I had piped and said "look! Jacob eyes!" Love that he gave him baby blues just like his!

 After the parade Jacob spent some time Facetiming with family out of state before we reluctantly got dressed to begin our busy day. Those precious few hours relaxing together in the morning are so refreshing and really help relax us before heading out. 

The rest of our day was filled with family, fun, and way too much food. One golden retriever got into the turkey, and one little boy ate his weight in pie. A day well spent. As sad as we are to see November come to an end, we are BEYOND excited for all the holiday fun that is to come!!

Riding in Cars with Kids: 4 Road Trip Essentials

November 21, 2017


We seem to have reached that milestone age group where our little guy, who used to fall asleep easily in the car.... no longer does. We started to notice it when we turned him forward facing, and it's only progressed with time. The soft white noise and swaying of the car no longer lulls him right to sleep, only to be woken when we arrive at our destination. Now he watches the world go by with his big, blue, eyes, and often demands to be entertained. 

We take quite a few car trips, both long and short, and we always try to be well prepared with ways to keep him a happy kid. Car trips can be stressful even with the most agreeable child, but throw a whiny one into the mix and it's a nightmare. I find that taking ten minutes to pack a few extra things helps me feel more prepared and less frazzled. Here's what we bring when we hit the road!

1. Snacks and more Snacks. The fastest way to make our guy fussy is to let him get even the slightest bit hungry. I like to pack a gallon ziploc full of snacks so that he has plenty of choices. Fresh fruit, cheese, crackers, yogurt pouches, and Happy Kid Fruit and Oat bars are some of our go to choices. Happy Kid Fruit and Oat bars are made with no added sugar, colors, or preservatives and are gluten free. By keeping our snacks on the healthier side we avoid a sugar rush that is inevitably followed by an epic meltdown. Don't forget a water bottle too, preferably a leak-proof one!

2. Lovey or Blanket. Just in case he does end up tired enough to fall asleep, having his blankie on hand makes him more comfortable and more likely to doze off. 

3. Fresh Tunes. We like to listen to spotify or make a cd before we leave with songs that the whole family will enjoy. Movie soundtracks are often a favorite. 

4. Games. We make sure our Ipad mini is charged up before we leave so that Jacob has a smorgasboard of games to choose from. But we also keep a list of fun games in the car that don't require electronics. Some of our favorites are: I-spy, I'm going on a picnic, and searching for letters or numbers. 

What are your go-to items for keeping Happy Kids in the car? We get our Happy Kid Fruit and Oat bars at Babies'r'Us, but you can also find them at Buy Buy Baby,,, Sprouts, and Shoprite. For a $1 off coupon, click HERE!

Cozy Winter Favorites

November 20, 2017

I'm not sure there is any word in the English language that has stronger imagery for me than the word cozy. Don't you just immediately think of being curled up by a fire with a soft blanket, a big mug of hot chocolate, and a good book while snow falls softly outside? I only get maybe two days of cozy weather here in Florida, and then I have to get my fix in Michigan. Here are a few of my favorite winter items, perfectly for snuggling!


I wear the sweatshirt (the softest!), pajama pants and slippers ALL the time, even when it's not chilly, and I love hot cocoa from my  city mug in the morning. The candle, hat, & socks are all on my Christmas list! What's on yours? 

Ham & Cheese Hashbrown Nests

November 17, 2017

I'm a big fan of simple, easy dinners, and this recipe is just that. It requires minimal ingredients, including Simply Potato® shredded hashbrowns which cut out a good chunk of prep work. They are fresh, not frozen so you don't have to add extra thawing time. The recipe comes together quickly and doesn't have a long cook time which makes it perfect for busy mornings or hectic school nights.

Here's how you make it! 

Ham & Cheese Hashbrown Nests 

3 cups Simply Potato® shredded hashbrowns
2 cups shredded cheddar (or other cheese)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Thin sliced ham (deli is fine)
4 eggs 

1. Set the oven to 425
2. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray
3. In a bowl mix the hashbrowns, olive oil, 1 cup cheese, salt and pepper. 
4. Press the hashbrowns down into the muffin tins, making sure to pack it against the sides and bottom and leaving a well in the middle. 
5. Bake for approx. 15 minutes until the hashbrowns are set. 
6. Layer ham and cheese into the middle of the hashbrowns, then add one egg on top. You can pour the egg in as is, or scramble it first if you prefer. I found one egg to be enough for about 3 nests. 
7. Return the pan to the oven for approx. 15 minutes, or until the eggs are set. 
8. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Slide a knife around the edges of each nest to loosen it, then remove from pan gently. 

And that's it! What I love most about this dish is that you can customize it to your own tastes. Other deli meats can easily be swapped out for the ham, and you can use pretty much any cheese you prefer. Pepper Jack would be great for those looking for more of a kick, or even a creamy gouda. 

You can find Simply Potatoes at your grocery store in the refrigerated breakfast section. Mine was near the eggs, sausage, and bacon. And you can click HERE for even more recipes! 

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes

November 14, 2017

The Cheesecake Factory has always been one of my favorite restaurants. I can remember eating there for the first time in downtown Chicago with a friend, amazed and overwhelmed at all the choices. After I moved to Florida I had one right near my house and it became our go-to restaurant. It's the perfect choice for date night, family nights, and we always go with out of town guests. In the early years of our marriage it wasn't uncommon to find us at home on the couch with a movie and a bag of to-go cheesecake that we had picked up after work. 

And now, Cheesecake Factory has made it even easier to have their signature dessert at home with their Cheesecake Factory At Home Cheesecake Mixes. We tried them out this weekend, and they do not disappoint! I think we were all a little skeptical that they would taste like the real thing, but they are 100% legit. These are so easy to make and are perfect for parties, book clubs, holiday dinners, and of course, Netflix nights at home! We used the Strawberry mix to make mini cheesecakes and I loved the result. I tend to think most things are cuter in mini size, but it also means each person can have their own, and there's no slice cutting involved! 

I mixed up the crust and the filling according to the directions on the Strawberry Premium Cheesecake box, but split the crust and then the filling into a muffin pan instead of a cake pan. I had enough to make about 9 mini cheesecakes. Once they were cool I removed them from the pan, drizzled some of the strawberry topping on, and then garnished with my favorite homemade whipped cream and strawberry slices. To make the whipped cream simply whip 1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream with 8 tablespoons of powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of nonfat dry instant milk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until it's fluffy and holds it's shape. Then dump it into a piping bag to swirl on top. 

I'm already dreaming up a salted caramel chocolate version for Thanksgiving dinner! Which flavor would you make first? 

Nancy's Breakfast Casserole

November 6, 2017

It's about that time of year.... the time when we start thinking about the holidays, cozy recipes, and entertaining loved ones. This breakfast casserole is a family favorite, perfect for slow (or hectic!) holiday mornings. I can be prepped the night before, then just throw it in the oven in the morning, and spend the extra time with your family. My Aunt Nancy wants you to know that she did not come up with this recipe herself. It was given to her by a coworker many years ago, but everyone in our family calls it Nancy's casserole, so I do too. It's been passed down through many a bridal shower and is just perfect for cool fall or snowy winter mornings. We'll be curling up with a big slice while we watch the Macy's Day parade!

Here's what you need: 
2 packs of Immaculate Baking Company Organic Crescent Rolls
1 lb. pork sausage (I like maple!)
4-5 tsp. fresh minced garlic
2 eggs
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
2. Press one crescent pack flat into a casserole pan
3. Cook Sausage and Garlic until browned, drain. 
4. Mix Sausage and garlic with two eggs, and cheese. 
5. Spread over crescent rolls in the pan
6. Roll second can of crescent rolls over mix & seal edges
7. Melt butter and pour over top crescents
8. Bake 22 minutes, until golden and soft


Right now you can get $1 off Immaculate Baking Company products, just click here for the coupon! Their mission to create wholesome baking products (with some organic and gluten free options) ensure your holiday food is good for ALL your party guests! 

Halloween 2017

November 2, 2017

Whew. I can not believe the whirlwind that is October is already over. I'm starting to pack away all the Halloween things, but I'm not quite ready for Christmas. Maybe I'll leave out a few pumpkins, and a turkey or two. Halloween is Jacob's jam... he was so sad last November 1st when he realized it was all over, so this year we tried to make it last as long as possible. We started with a little decorating in Early October, then quickly hit the ground running with one event after another. 

We hit up the pumpkin patch where we admired the pumpkins and drowned ourselves in apple cider donuts. We left empty handed, but it's always fun to make memories there. We don't buy our pumpkins until the night before Halloween because they'll rot in the southern heat otherwise. 

We went to a Halloween event at our local historical village where kids can trick or treat, make crafts, and ride some rides which is always a huge hit with Jacob. He wore his Beast costume which we had gotten for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, where we had planned to visit before Hurricane Irma hit. 

We also went to his preschool for their trunk or treat event, and his buddy Tinkerbelle came along with us. They made the cutest little pair, following each other around all night and practicing saying "Trick or Treat"

The weekend before Halloween my parents flew in and we drove up to Orlando for a fun filled weekend. I plan to give this trip it's own blog post, but one of the things we did was Brick-or-Treat at Legoland, which was tons of fun.

Mischief night we always order a pizza, carve our pumpkin, and watch The Great Pumpkin. We couldn't find the Great Pumpkin on TV, so we settled for Spookley with our pizza instead. Jacob picked out a robot design for his pumpkin, but wasn't much interested in helping with it. He'd take a few scoops and then hand off the spoon to someone else.

And last but not least, the main event. Halloween started off with a party at preschool that Jacob took his grandparents to, and after a long nap we fueled up with some dinner and headed out in search of candy. Trick or Treating itself was somewhat comical. Jacob walked to about two houses before deciding that he was done walking. He demanded (with screams and tears) to be pulled in the wagon the rest of the night while he waved around his glow stick sword and rifled through his candy bucket. These are the days. Am I right? I know someday he'll be too old, and then I'll be sad.

And just a few more picture of the cutest Neverland residents ever.

Until next year...