Thursday, October 2, 2014

Good Friends and Good Food at Outback

When I got pregnant with K, everyone warned me that it would be a huge change for me quitting my job and becoming a stay-at-home mom because of the isolation you feel when you are just with your kids, not with adults, all day. For the first six months or so, I was happily content to stay at home and just enjoy everything being a mom had to offer. And then it hit. The feeling that everyone else talked about, the need to be around other adults, the need to talk to other people, and the need to get out of the house. 

It's a good thing we live right around the corner from a ton of stores and restaurants. Right around six months, I made myself promise we would leave the house at least once each day so that I could have some human interaction. While I may not have kept that promise, I do like to get out and meet with friends (mine or K's) as much as possible. Earlier this week I had the chance to meet up with an old friend, Reagan, and her niece Katie for lunch at Outback Steakhouse.


It's amazing what a small world it is. Reagan and I went to the same high school, grew up in the same circles, and went to church together back in the day. And now she lives just about ten minutes away and 10 years later we go to the same church congregation again. She has a little boy that's just about a year older than K so we hang out often. And Katie has been staying with Reagan and has been helping out watching kids in the area while she's here.


The only problem with lunch was trying to figure out what we wanted to order. We of course started with the bacon cheese fries because that's just a must on any visit to Outback. Picking out our lunches was a little more difficult because the lunch menu has tons of choices including some great combos for great prices. I'm a sucker for coconut shrimp so I decided to get that with a baked potato. Katie went the traditional route and got steak, and Reagan was a little more difficult and finally decided on the fish tacos. And the wild berry lemonade that I ordered was a great way to wash down the shrimp, yum!


Lunch was fantastic, and it was great to just get out of the house and talk to other people about real things, not how to say the word dog. There's a limit on the number of trips to the grocery store that you can take in one week just to get a little adult interaction. It was so nice to catch up with Reagan and Katie and to talk about how our families are doing, how we met our husbands (since we kind of skipped that 10 year period), and what we've been doing for the past 10 years. It's seriously amazing how when I sit down and talk to people I've known for years, it just seems right. No pretenses, no starting from scratch, just right. 


While there is no job I would rather have than being a stay-at-home mom, I have to admit that it was really nice to sit down and talk about adult things over lunch. I'm so excited that Outback now has lunch because it's literally minutes from our house, and I can always use some good cheese fries and good company. And our love of cheese fries and friends doesn't mean we love our kids any less, we all just need a real conversation every once in a while. 


Find out if your local Outback is open for lunch so you can plan a fun lunch date. Then come back and tell me if the coconut shrimp and cheese fries are as good as I said. 

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

$250 Pottery Barn Gift Card Giveaway

Today I am so excited to be celebrating one of my good blogging friend's 8th, yes 8th, blogiversaries! She's seriously been blogging forever. To celebrate, we are giving one of our lucky readers a $250 gift card to Pottery Barn! They have the most incredible selection, and I know you can find something you like with that chunk of change. Good luck!


Thanks to these awesome blogs for sponsoring this giveaway. 


Now go enter! Giveaway open to residents with a US mailing address only. Giveaway ends on Thursday, October 9th at 11:59 PM PST. 

Giveaway Details and Fine Print:
Giveaway begins 10/1/14 and ends 10/9/14 at 11:59 p.m EST. Giveaway is open to US residents only. Winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter and winning entries will be verified before winner is notified. If winning entry is not complete, prize will be voided and another winner will be chosen. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond and claim their prize before a new winner is chosen. Winner will have to provide a valid email address, which will be kept confidential in order to claim their prize. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram are not in ANY way involved with this giveaway and are hereby released of any responsibility or liability.

                                                        
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Easy Mini Chocolate Sweet Rolls Recipe

Last year I made the yummiest mini pumpkin cinnamon rolls ever and this year I knew I wanted to try the recipe out again, this time with chocolate. If you like chocolate, then you will absolutely love these mini chocolate sweet rolls. Even my husband, who isn't a big chocolate fan, ate six.

Mini chocolate sweet rolls made in under 20 minutes from playpartypin.com

You probably know by now from my mini calzones, breakfast rolls, and egg and sausage muffins that I love using refrigerated crescent rolls as a shortcut to making delicious baked goods. Well, these are no exception. I do make homemade rolls and cinnamon rolls from scratch every so often but not this weekend. And seriously, if the pre-made stuff tastes so good, I say why not use it? 

Mini chocolate sweet rolls made in under 20 minutes from playpartypin.com

I'll make a confession. I was originally going to make apple pie cinnamon rolls because it's fall and all, but I really don't love warm apples all that much. And I knew my husband wouldn't love these because they're full of chocolately goodness, and I kind of wanted to have them all week long. Well, between my husband and me, they didn't last more than an hour. Oh well. Good thing they only took like 20 minutes to make, so I can whip up another batch this week just for me.

Now I know you want to see how I made these babies. Seriously, so easy!

Start by melting your chocolate! You can do it however you'd like, but I melt my chocolate in the microwave. Once melted, mix with cream cheese and sugar to create your filling.



Lay out the crescent rolls, cover with chocolate mixture, and roll into a log.





Now comes the fun part. Use dental floss to cut the log into 1/2 inch sized rolls. If you don't have dental floss, you should get some now or so says my dentist. This is a trick my mom taught me, and it works like a charm. Just wrap the dental floss around the roll and pull together, slicing through the dough perfectly. Put those perfectly sliced rolls into a mini muffin tin. 

Mini chocolate sweet rolls made in under 20 minutes from playpartypin.com

Mini chocolate sweet rolls made in under 20 minutes from playpartypin.com

And bake for just about 10 minutes. Then cover with chocolate frosting and devour quickly or else you'll have to share. 

Mini chocolate sweet rolls made in under 20 minutes from playpartypin.com

Mini chocolate sweet rolls made in under 20 minutes from playpartypin.com

Mini chocolate sweet rolls made in under 20 minutes from playpartypin.com

Mini chocolate sweet rolls made in under 20 minutes from playpartypin.com

Mini chocolate sweet rolls made in under 20 minutes from playpartypin.com

Mini Chocolate Sweet Rolls Recipe

(Print this recipe)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can refrigerated crescent rolls (8 count) 
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened 
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar 
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Prepare your mini muffin tin by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. 
  2. Melt 1/2 cup of your chocolate chips in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds. Stir then continue in increments of 15 seconds, stirring each time, until the chocolate chips are completely melted. 
  3. Mix the softened cream cheese, melted chocolate chips, and sugar in a mixing bowl until well combined. 
  4. Open your can of crescent rolls and lay out in one large rectangle. Make sure to pinch together all of the "seams." 
  5. Spread the chocolate mixture on top of the rolls, leaving about 1/2 inch empty all the way around the rectangle. 
  6. Starting on the long side, roll the dough tightly from one side to the other, forming a "log" of dough. 
  7. Using a piece of dental floss, cut 1/2 inch rolls by wrapping the dental floss around the log and pulling it tightly to "cut" the dough. 
  8. As you cut the rolls, place each in a separate spot in the prepared muffin tin. 
  9. Bake the rolls for approximately 10 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden brown and the dough is cooked. 
  10. While the rolls bake, melt the remaining chocolate chips. Mix with powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla to create the glaze. If you'd like it to be thinner, add more milk.  
  11. Once the rolls are cooked, remove from the muffin tins and allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack or piece of parchment paper. 
  12. Frost cinnamon rolls while still warm but not hot. 
  13. Enjoy! 

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Brave and Beautiful

This post is supposed to be about how I'm brave and beautiful, how I am going to stop trying so hard and how I know that I'm beautiful regardless of if I'm wearing makeup or not. I've had such a hard time writing this post because I love the message of Colbie Caillat's new song Try, but I can't get on board with it. Hang with me here. I can't get on board because for the past 18 months I've stopped trying. And I've lost myself and so many parts of my life in the process.

This week I had a major breakdown and all I could come up with for why was because I'm so overwhelmed with everything I have to do, but the problem is that I'm not doing any of it. I keep telling my husband that I'm doing my best and doing everything that I can, but I'm not. I'm not trying.

It all started with K's birth. I brought home the nightgowns from the hospital to sleep (and walk around in), and I realized that I could take naps all day long and no one could blame me because I had a newborn. And I didn't work out or put on makeup because no one expected me to. I had a baby and that's all that mattered; no one would judge a new mom for wearing sweats out of the house.

But you guys, it didn't stop there.

Last week I wore my sweats to my birthday dinner. I talked about running every day and didn't run a single time. And I swore that I would make dinner at least once, and we ate at Chipotle, Applebee's, and TGIFridays instead.

In the past 18 months my life has fallen apart, and it all started the moment I stopped trying.

So my message is this, you don't have to try so hard but you do have to try. Life doesn't just happen, dinner doesn't just get made, houses don't just stay clean, you don't just lose weight, and you aren't just automatically happy. Those things only happen if you put effort into them. You have to try.


I put on makeup and blow dried my hair last week for the first time in over a month. I actually had to go pull my blow dryer out of my suitcase from our trip to Kansas in August. And you know what? That was the most productive day I've had in a really long time because when I actually get ready for the day, it makes me want to do other things like run so my cute clothes actually fit. And clean my house so I can have people over without feeling embarrassed. And go meet with friends because I feel comfortable with the way I look.

I get it. I understand we can't try too hard. We can't make ours live dependent on how other people want us to be. But you have to figure out who you want to be, and you can't let go of that person. And you can't stop trying to become that person every single day. If you feel great wearing makeup and having your nails done, do it and feel great. If you run because it makes you feel incredible, do it. Don't do it because someone else expects you to or because you don't think you're good enough unless you're skinny. Do it because it makes you love you, because I'm telling you, when you lose that love for yourself, it's really hard to get back. I should know.

This video from Robbins Creative is amazing and empowering and full of beautiful women taking off their makeup and going natural. These women are brave and beautiful. I am not. Not yet at least. But I'm working on it, and each day I'm working on it a little more. I'm trying. For real this time.



I am Brave and Beautiful is a beauty movement that is sweeping the globe. Colbie Caillat started it with her recent song and video called "Try."  My blogging friends Megan of Brassy Apple and Cobi from Peace from 6 Pieces wanted to push this movement along and invited women from all over the globe to share what they looked like without makeup and to write a post about what it meant to them to stop trying so hard. Colbie's song says, "Take your makeup off. Let your hair down. Look into the mirror at yourself. Do you like you?" 

That line in Colbie's song hit me hard because as part of this challenge Megan asked us to take a photo of ourselves without makeup and post it on our blogs as part of today's post. I'm going to be honest, my husband took photos of me yesterday and when I looked at them, like looking in the mirror, I didn't like me. There's a reason you don't see photos of me on my blog very often; it's because I don't like what I look like right now, both on the inside and out. This post was supposed to be about putting it all out there and being ourselves, well this is me. With makeup and without. Can you guess which picture I like more? You'll probably guess correctly but not for the reason you may think. 


I don't like the picture of myself on the left more because I'm wearing makeup and my hair is done; I like it more because I like the person I was eight years ago more than the person I am now. That person was spiritually, physically, and mentally fit. Makeup doesn't change who I am, I do. Unlike Colbie Caillat's song that says, "You don't have to change a single thing," I have a lot to change and that change starts with trying. While others may need to or are okay with trying less, I need to try more, and from now on, I'm going to "go with determination to try a little harder to be a little better," every single day, even if that just means switching out my sweats for jeans before I leave the house. 


I've joined 120 other blogging women from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, ages, shapes, and sizes who are sharing what it means to them to be brave and beautiful! You can join in this movement even if you don't have a blog by sharing what you look like without makeup on and what brave and beautiful means to you. Just tag your photo with #IamBraveAndBeautiful on Instagram and search the hashtag to see who else has joined in. If you want, you can also tag it with #ColbieTry to help Colbie Caillat see what she has started. 

#colbietry #iambraveandbeautiful

Don't stop here. Get clicking around - this is a blog hop! Below are more brave and beautiful women bearing more than their natural beauty. They each have a little bit of their heart to share with you. Some get very personal. Some share stories. For some this was very hard to do yet they gathered their courage and did it anyway. We hope as you click around you will feel the importance and empowering effect of it and hope that it encourages you in some way.

>>Important info! Blog hops often have glitches the first day. If the link has an ERROR, simply click on the HOME button for each site or google the blog name next to the link and you should see their brave and beautiful post there. Links will be updated as soon as possible.
women sharing their natural beauty - no makeup

women with our makeup on and what makes them beautiful

women from around the world share their face with no makeup on - BrassyApple.com
Mommy bloggers share their face without makeup and what makes then beautiful

Natural beauty untouched photos

raw natural beauty - join the movement

beauty and bravery - women wearing no makeup - Brassyapple.com


Ready in join in? Snap, hashtag and share! Use the hashtags #IAmBraveAndBeautiful and #ColbieTry and tag @BrassyApple and @Peacefrom6Pieces! Then go follow our bravery and beauty Pinterest board for more inspiration. 

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Paw Patrol Halloween Costume Tutorial

Okay I have a confession to make, I love Halloween but hate dressing up. Hate it. Halloween costumes with kids is way more fun, and this year I made my first attempt at making K a Halloween costume, this DIY Paw Patrol Halloween costume.  And I'm joining 88 other bloggers in a fun Halloween costume hop with Jamie from Creating Really Awesome Free Things to give you all sorts of great DIY Halloween costume ideas!

Love this DIY Paw Patrol Halloween costume from playpartypin.com, such a clever way to make the ears and tail

Before you get all mad because I promised you a Paw Patrol costume then gave you a costume without ears, there are ears, I promise. K was just not being cooperative when it came to the ears, so they're missing from the photos. But you guys, I have the trick to making the best pointy ears ever so you have to keep reading to see how I made them. And let me tell you, they are really cute on the hat, but you'll have to take my word for it. For now, you're just going to get lots of cute pictures of K in a hat with no ears or no hat at all. Have I mentioned how fun it is trying to take photos of a toddler?

Love this DIY Paw Patrol Halloween costume from playpartypin.com, such a clever way to make the ears and tail

There are two things that K loves right now - dogs and his car. When I decided to try and make K a homemade costume this year, I knew it needed to include those two things. He also loves Paw Patrol, and it combines those two things so it was pretty much a no-brainer. And his car is blue, so I had to make him Chase of course. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, maybe you should just skip to the bottom of this post for 88+ incredible homemade costume ideas! I mean just look at the talent of these bloggers.


Okay so back to my costume. Another reason I chose it was because this was my first attempt at making a costume, and I knew it would be easy. Seriously, so easy. If I didn't suck at sewing, it would've taken me less than an hour to make the entire thing. That's easy enough that you could do it  the night before Halloween and still feel like supermom for doing everything you do AND making a homemade costume.

Okay, now let's talk about how I made it.

Supplies: 

  • 1/8 yard fur or faux fur
  • 1 wire hanger
  • 1 sheet white iron on vinyl
  • 1 sheet yellow iron vinyl
  • 1 sheet gray or silver iron on vinyl 
  • 2 inches elastic 
  • 1 brown button (try to match the fur color)
  • Dark blue shirt and matching pants with belt loops 
  • Police hat 
  • Wire cutter 
  • Brown thread 
  • Small piece of pillow/quilt stuffing 
  • Sewing machine (or you can hand sew with needle + thread) 
  • Silhouette CAMEO (or scissors) 
  • Hot glue gun 
  • Car (optional) 

Instructions: 

Step 1 - The first thing you're going to do is cut your hanger. You're going to want to cut off the triangles at the two ends of the hanger (for the ears) and then one long straight piece from the bottom of the hanger. The hanger is going to be the trick I talked about earlier! Once you've cut your hanger, measure the size of your ears by putting the pieces of hanger onto the fur. 



Step 2 - Cut around each of your wire "ears" twice (for a total of 4 ear pieces), making sure to leave about an inch on the outside of the wire where you'll sew them together. Do the same thing with the long straight piece; put it on the fur and cut about an inch to either side and an inch on the top and the bottom. 


Step 3 - Sew your ears together by putting right sides of two of the ears together and sewing along the two long edges. You'll want to leave the bottom edge of the triangle open to stuff it later. Once both of your ears are sewn, do the same thing with the long tail piece. Turn it inside out, put the right sides together, and sew along the outsides of the tail leaving the bottom section open to stuff. 


Step 4 - Once both ears and the tail are sewn, flip them both right side out. If you need to, you can use a pencil to help flip the long tail right side out. Once flipped, place the wire hanger on the inside of each of the ears and sew along the bottom of the ear to close it completely around the wire. Repeat with both ears. 


Step 5 - Wrap the long tail piece of wire in stuffing, stuff the tail with the stuffing (and wire), then sew the bottom of the tail shut. By adding the wire, you're giving a stiffness to both the ears and the tail to make them more realistic. This is especially perfect if you want to bend the tail slightly since the wire hanger will bend and stay that way, which wouldn't be the case if you'd used just the fur and stuffing. 





Step 6 - Sew one side of the piece of elastic to the end of the tail. And then cut a small slit, a little smaller than your button, on the other side of the elastic. This is how you'll attach the tail to the pants. 


Step 7 - Sew a button on to the back of the tail. This is where better sewing skills would come in handy. I'll admit it, I've never sewn a button on using a machine so I did it by hand. Once the button is on, you can attach the tail to the back of the pants by looping the elastic through the belt loop and fastening it by popping the button into the slit you cut into the elastic earlier. 



Love this DIY Paw Patrol Halloween costume from playpartypin.com, such a clever way to make the ears and tail

Step 8 - Hot glue the bottom of your ears to the top of your hat so they'll stand up. This is where pictures would come in handy so sorry for not having any!

Step 9 - Cut out shapes for the shirt and hat on your Silhouette CAMEO using this free downloadable Silhouette cut file I created. Iron them on once cut out. Or if you don't have a Silhouette, you could easily cut them by hand. I just did a shield, star, paw print, and little arrows to go on the sleeves. And don't make the same mistake I did, the stars go below the arrows on the sleeves (pointing up), not above. 



And that's it! I hope that made sense. I honestly think that the tutorial probably made it sound harder than it really is, so I hope you get it and can make a super cute Paw Patrol costume for dog-loving kids too! 

Love this DIY Paw Patrol Halloween costume from playpartypin.com, such a clever way to make the ears and tail

Love this DIY Paw Patrol Halloween costume from playpartypin.com, such a clever way to make the ears and tail

Okay, now let's talk about all of those other incredibly talented bloggers and their DIY Halloween costumes. Everything from kids to adults to pets and even a trunk or treat idea. These ideas are phenomenal, and I know I'll be using at least one of these next year because you know I'm not making anything else this year. One homemade costume a year is my max. You can click on the links below each of these collages to get step by step tutorials on how to make each of these costumes. Awesome right? And don't forget to follow the handmade costumes Pinterest board for even more great ideas.

88+ Handmade Halloween costumes at Creating Really Awesome Free Things 


101+ Handmade Halloween costumes at Creating Really Awesome Free Things

88+ Handmade Halloween costumes at ReallyAwesomeCostumes.com 61. Wildstyle Costume from the Lego Movie 62. Fred and Wilma Couples Costume 63. Viking Family Costumes 64. DIY Cruella de Vil Costume for a child 65. Disney Frozen Olaf Halloween Treat Bucket 66. How to Make a Minecraft Steve Head 67. DIY Harry Potter Costume 68. DIY Duck Dynasty Costumes 69. No Sew Cupcake Baker Halloween Costume 70. DIY Skunk Mask 71. Ghostbusters Proton Pack DIY 72. Frozen Anna Costume Tutorial 73. Candy Corn Costume 74. Paw Patrol Halloween Costume 75. No Sew Toothless Dragon Costume 76. DIY Robot Costume 77. Wonder Woman Costume 78. Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Costume 79. Thrifted Gentleman Spy DIY Halloween Costume 80. DIY Boy Garden Gnome Costume 81. Group Costume: Bob Ross, Happy Tree, & Squirrel 82. DIY Blues Brothers Costumes 83. Snow White Costume 84. Peacock Princess Costume 85. Scarecrow Costume 86. Easy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Costume 87. Handmade Teddy Bear Costume 88. Princess Elsa and the Spy Kid 89. DIY Baby Koala costume

What handmade costume ideas did you love the most?! Be sure to click over to get the costume instructions, pin the costume, and let them know you love it! Also, follow the Handmade Halloween Costume board on Pinterest!

  Follow Jamie Dorobek {C.R.A.F.T.}'s board “Handmade Halloween Costumes” on Pinterest.
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