Friday, October 31, 2014

October Favorites

I can't believe this is already the last day of October and we are then facing the final two months of the year. Crazy is it not!? I can tell you I have loved a lot of October but in a sense it has gone by so fast that it is like a blur! Between football practice, drill team practice, middle school football games, high school football games, teaching, and keeping all five of us alive it has been a good month!

1. Pumpkin
Yesterday I shared a recipe for Pumpkin Hot Chocolate (my favorite of those is the Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate). I also love these Pumpkin Bars that I make a few times this time of year. Pumpkin just make Autumn feel well.. Autumnish.

2. Boots
Who doesn't love boots this time of year with leggings, sweaters or jeans?!

3. Bath & Body Works' Wallflowers
I have used both "Leaves" and Cinnamon Pumpkin with both ranking right at the same level. They both leave your home smelling like Autumn and neither are really over powering. The Cinnamon Pumpkin is more cinnamon scent than I would say pumpkin.

4. Tide w/ Downy
This has been our favorite go to laundry soap detergent. It cleans really well and smells amazing! I do still use Downy softener along with the detergent.

5. Build your own salad bar
Yes! Our family does enjoy having a "salad" night at least once a month and it is a good meal that gets a week's worth of veggies in (jk) and it is something I can plug in on one of those busy nights where cooking an elaborate meal just ins't feasible.

So there ya have it! My favorite top 5 for the month! What are some products, recipes, items you have been enjoying this month?! Leave a message in the comments and I may pick one of your suggestions to try for November!


This post was not an affiliate or review paid post! All opinions shared were my own and were not a paid review.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate two ways!

Who doesn't love pumpkin this time of year?! And as the temperatures begin to fall, who doesn't love hot chocolate?! I LOVE them both! So, why not combine the two? And the good news? This is one of those "two fer one" kind of posts where if you don't like traditional hot chocolate you can try it using white chocolate! Notice those Oreo's in the back? Yep. If it says "pumpkin spice" we give it a whirl. Sadly I wasn't too impressed. They tasted like regular golden oreos to me.

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

Ingredients (per cup)

2 TBS pumpkin puree
1 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS heavy cream or half & half
1/8 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
8 oz Milk
Whipped topping (or Marshmallows) for topping

In a sauce pan heat the first five ingredients on medium until it begins to get steamy. Whisk several times as it is heating up to make sure all the ingredients combine well. Pour into mug and top with topping.

Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients (per 4 cups)

3 cups milk
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of Salt
4 oz white chocolate
Whipped topping or Marshmallows for topping

In a sauce pan whisk first five ingredients together well and heat on medium until steamy. Turn off heat, and add white chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is melted and combined well. Pour into mugs and top with topping of your choice.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Motivation for your Monday: Sausage, Tortellini and Spinach Soup

I have a recipe to share with you! This soup recipe is one that is loved by my family, especially my  husband who loves spinach.

1 pound of spicy breakfast sausage
2 cans diced Italian tomatoes
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 bag of frozen cheese tortellini
10 oz fresh baby spinach
4 cups chicken broth
Celery Salt and Black Pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, brown sausage. Add tomatoes, sprinkle celery salt and a good amount of black pepper. Allow to simmer on low for about 15 minutes to infuse flavors together. Add in Cream cheese and allow to melt into tomato and sausage mixture. Add in frozen tortellini and spinach. Turn off heat (there will be enough heat in the soup to cook the pasta and wilt the spinach) and allow the soup to sit for about 10 minutes before serving. This is amazing served with garlic toast!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Shake it up Saturday: When your world turns and the seasons hurt

There are many times in our lives when it seems like we go through these seasons, or as some would call lessons of life. The one thing that life doesn't teach you is that not everyone will be happy for you as you grow in your life. Even friends that you have had for years, heck even family will sometimes pull away.

Why is it that when things are going good in your life, people tend to fall to the sidelines? Why is it that when your having troubles everyone is there trying to comfort you, or maybe even encourage you? I am not only seeing this in my own circle of those whom I associate with, but I am seeing it in my daughter's relationships as well. It wasn't until this morning that this connection really came forth coming even though I posted the following two status' on social media yesterday.

This morning as I was running errands I was listening to a podcast and just thinking. Yes at the same time. While driving. Scary I know. Anyway, I feel so blessed to know that when Joel and I moved to Cove, it was God's plan for our family. It's a nice feeling to KNOW with all that you are.... that you are right where God desires you to be. Sadly... not everyone has seemed to happy for us, but that is not our burden to hold. We have met many neighbors that are more than friends now. In fact, they are family.

You can't control the way people treat you....but you can choose to not allow it to continue. This is the lesson of the week folks. There will be a test but it will be a pop quiz. Will you pass or fail?

Amazing to me that God was beginning to work through some things in me this week as I took a break from writing, to reveal to me the one hurdle that is holding me back from moving forward. The simple fact that I do not have but a handful of people (My husband, children, mom and a couple of neighbors and maybe two friends from work) that would actually be happy for me if I was able to be successful in my ventures. Yet, when I struggle ..... there are people all around me. That isn't' necessarily a good thing though. See this is the whisper I heard. "When you are moving up to the next level people feel threatened, scared, and sadly they want to hold you back so you won't leave them behind so they leave you first."

I am TEARS now as I sit in this revelation because I almost did just forget my vision and was allowing their reaction to be the death of that vision and goal. Sad isn't it?! When I thought I had a clear and strong support system I realize that it isn't as large as I once thought, but in the same breath it is pretty darn strong!

I don't often request for my teenage daughter to read my blog because she hear's Mom's thoughts all the time and she would mostly either say "I already know that" or give a classic eye roll. This time however, I am going to have her sit down and read this for herself when she gets home from drill team practice. Why? Because she too is facing one of these same seasons in her life ~ where she is growing in an amazing pace to become such a beautiful young woman inside and out and there have been people she thought were her friends either speak ill of her or treat her down right ugly. The thing is... I know without a shadow of a doubt that it is because she has grown, she does have vision for her life, and above that... she is learning to NOT need their support and encouragement to reach those goals. This girl is always teaching me something. I think that is why God allows us to become parents ~ so we can learn things we never would have learned without them.

So.. for my own benefit let me share MY vision with you once again.

Thrive Camp: I see thrive camp being in 25 venues in a year ~ bringing strength to women to live their life the way God intended it to be and taking a stand to simply stop JUST surviving! I see homes being transformed into the safe havens they should be because of this change in the way they look at their lives and embrace each day as the gift it was intended. I see marriages restored. I see children being raised in ways that bring out their God given gifts and talents with a vision of their own from early young ages.

The Ladies of Cotton Lake: I already have planned 4 books in this series with ONE already published. This series is derived to give a spin on the principles of Thrive Camp in lives of four women who came together by accident but now cant' imagine being separated. Together they face things like health issues, pregnancy both adult and teenage, career struggles and victories, ministry leadership as well as everyday relationships such as marriage, friendship, etc.

One Pretty Little Box: I also see this blog growing to thousands upon thousands of regular readers and Facebook Fans  who are touched by the hand of God in my life ~ and encouraged and inspired by the things I post. Not because of who I am ... but because who I am in Christ!

So, there you have it. In the midst of a broken heart and tears I found revelation that sometimes God calls us to do things that are not understood by others. I also NOW understand the statement from Terri Savelle Foy that we must be careful who we spend our time with as that is what we become. I am an encourager, but if I am surrounded by those who want others NOT to thrive in their lives, it's not going to work well. I thank God for removing those from my life who do not support growth, thriving, and strength that He has given me. Yes, I realize that is a strong statement but I am sure Noah had a few of those statements of his own. Even Jesus upset some who once called him friends when HE began to stand for the vision that God gave Him. I am not saying I am a god or Jesus but I am saying that I am no longer going to turn my back on the vision he clearly gave me to hold onto people who would rather see me fail than succeed.


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Smokey Cheddar Chicken Speghetti Casserole

Yes, my friends it's time for another experiment in the kitchen!! My family has been really good about allowing me to play and create as I go with their taste buds at risk! Lately, though.. these experiments have been pretty good. Most of them are repeats with a few more personal tweaks. This casserole however is one that I will most likely leave as is (for now). I used what I had on hand, but if I had gone shopping for the ingredients, I would add parsley flakes or fresh chopped parsley.

When I added black pepper on top before baking... I didn't do it picture worthy!
2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 Envelope of Zesty Italian Seasoning
6 oz of Smoked Cheddar grated
1/2 cup of milk
2/3 pkg cooked speghetti (or noodle of your choice)
garlic salt & Pepper to taste
Chopped parsley (not pictured but will add next time) or flakes for color

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain. In hot pot add in both cream soups, envelope of Italian Seasoning, cheese and milk. Allow to cook on medium low until cheese is melted. Add in chicken and pasta. Stir well to coat pasta. Add in garlic salt and pper to taste. Turn into a casserole dish and bake covered with foil in a 350* oven for about 20 minutes or until warmed through.

I served this with a fresh loaf of bread and some steamed broccoli.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wow!! Target is rocking already!

Wow! The deals are already starting! Do you do any online shopping for Christmas? Do you happen to shop at Target? RIGHT now for a limited time they are offering ** FREE SHIPPING  **on your entire order! FREE! That is how I like to do my shopping! Often I have found that there are more deals, better selections, and online only offers that come from ordering online. The last couple of years I have done the majority of my Christmas shopping this way ~ because it comes in discreet boxes and no one knows what's inside them, which means I can order and not worry about the surprise being ruined by poorly hidden gifts. When I saw this deal come through my email ... I KNEW you would want to take advantage of it!

** CLICK that "FREE SHIPPING" link to get your deal!!**


The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. (Target)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tempt my Tummy Tuesday: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cheesecake Bars

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cheesecake Bars

Believe it or not, lately I have not made near the desserts I usually do. Over the summer I played with a few parfaits, but baking wasn't really what I desired to do. But it's Autumn now, and I LOVE baking in the Autumn season!

Sunday, I played a bit in the kitchen and though I have made a few variances of this kind of bar, I wanted to experiment a bit! So, if you like Oatmeal Cookies, chocolate chips, and cheesecake... you are in for a REAL treat!

Cookie Base Ingredients
3 cups oats
1 3/4 cup All purpose Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 sticks butter softened
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 bag of chocolate chip chunks

Cheesecake Ingredients
2 packages of Cream Cheese (8oz each) softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 bag of chocolate chip chunks

Mix cookie dough together by hand (leave the chocolate chunks to be folded at end so they do not get broken into tiny pieces.). (I did not do the dry/wet separate but instead incorporated the whole mess into one lump of dough!) Bar cookies have a tendency to be a bit less picky. In a separate bowl, mix in cheesecake ingredients leaving out the chocolate chunks. Once cheesecake mixture is smooth fold in chocolate chunks. In a 13x9 pan spread 1/2 of cookie dough into bottom smooshing with your hands to get it flat and smooth along the bottom. Bake in a 350* oven for 10 minutes and remove. Top with cheese cake batter and spread over dough almost to the edges. Bit by bit sprinkle on the remaining cookie dough on top until cheesecake is mostly covered. Bake in a 350* oven for 35 minutes or until really golden brown on top! Allow to cool at least 4 hours, but it is best to chill overnight!


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