Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Traditions-Christmas Through the Years

There is so much I love about this time of year.  What is there not to love.  The smells.  The lights.  The parties.  I could go on and on.  Some of my very favorite things are small traditions that I have started with my immediate family. 
One of the most sentimental traditions started the year Brandon and I got married...
our Christmas Through The Years book, which contains each year's Christmas card picture.
This is a very special book to me because it showcases the years, the memories and all of the changes we have gone through as a family.  I love looking through the book each and every year around the holidays.

 I look even more forward to adding another card to the book each year.  

Christmas 2006
The year Brandon and I married.  Our first Christmas as a married couple.  Our first Christmas in our first home. 

Christmas 2007
We survived year one of marriage!

Christmas 2008
The year Parker was born.  Parker's first Christmas.  Our first Christmas as a family of three.

Christmas 2009
Parker turned 1.  The Christmas that I understood why having a toddler during the Holidays can be such hard work.

Christmas 2010
The three of us with Nolan on the way!

Christmas 2011
Nolan was born.  Our first Christmas as a family of 4.

Christmas 2012
The Christmas with two "in to everything" children.

Christmas 2013
Our house went on the market.  The year we searched and searched for our new home...and didn't buy one until the next year!

Christmas 2014
Coming soon!

Do you have any special family traditions?  I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tis the season...for soup

Soup season is upon us.

How about a yummy chicken noodle soup to warm you up...and maybe lighten you up too after all of your holiday feasting.

2 tablespoons butter
2 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 celery stalks, small-diced
4 carrots, peeled and small-diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 quarts of chicken stock or broth
3 cups cooked chicken
2 cups egg noodle

The night before you plan to make the soup, boil a whole chicken.  Remove the chicken meat from the bone. Refrigerate meat and broth in two separate containers.  Once the broth from the boiled chicken cools (usually the next day), remove settled fat.
In a large pot over medium heat, heat the butter and oil.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaves.  Saute until the vegetables soften.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir often. 
In a separate pot boil the noodles. (I don't cook the noodles in the broth because I believe it makes it too starchy)
Add the stock/broth to the large pot containing the vegetables (I use the broth I get from boiling my chicken along with a couple large cans of store bought broth) and simmer about 10 minutes.  Add the noodles and serve!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Caramel Apple Poke Cake

Growing up, one of my favorite things to do when shopping at the mall with my parents was get a caramel apple from this shop in one of the fingers of the mall.  They were so big and juicy.  I absolutely loved them.  I'm pretty sure caramel apples are a favorite sweet snack of mine.  So in true "Audra loves caramel apples" fashion, I am going to share with you a caramel apple dessert that I think you'll love too!
I recently took this to a carry in we had at school.  It went over very well...and it's super easy to make.    

Caramel Apple Poke Cake:

15.25 Pillsbury Vanilla Cake Mix
4 Egg Whites
1/2 C Water
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla
21 oz Can Apple Pie Filling
12 oz Caramel Sauce
8 oz Whipped Topping
1 C Toffee Bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9X13 pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and cinnamon.  Mix in the water, vanilla and egg whites until fluffy and fully combined.
Chop up the canned apple filling. (I just put my knife in the opened can and chopped away)
Add the apple filling to the cake mix.
Pour the batter into the greased pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.
Let the cake stand for about 15 minutes after baking .  Poke holes throughout the cake about 1-2 inches apart.  (I used the handle of a wooden spoon)
Warm the caramel sauce. Pour over cake.
Refrigerate overnight.  Before serving, cover with whipped topping and toffee bits.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Our first Slumber Party

Over the weekend we celebrated Parker's 6th birthday with a slumber party on Friday night and our family party during the day Saturday.  

Talk about an exhausting weekend!!  I couldn't believe how late a bunch of 6 year olds could stay up!  For most, it was their very first friend slumber party.  
They had a blast.  
So did we! 

Yes, that's tackle football being played in our playroom!

They thought they were pretty cool stuff camping out in our basement!

I think he classified this as his "Best Birthday Ever!"


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Accessories For Fall

Fall is most definitely my favorite season.  The colors.  The smells. The cool air.  I just love it.  I also love many of the clothing staples that make their presence known in the fall.

What are you're favorite fall wardrobe staples?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I think it's time we catch up

I thought it was about time I eased myself back into the blogging world.  I make no promises...moving into a new (to us) house is a lot of work.  I swear it eats up every ounce of energy and free time that I have.  And as much as I hate to think about's only just begun.  There's just so much we want to do to make this house our home.  I don't even know where to begin sometimes.  I would include some pictures to prove that we have been hard at work but everything is so "halfway" done that I just can't let you in yet.  Soon, I promise!!  
So, with blogging on my mind I made a list of all the ideas I have bouncing around my head.  Lots of ideas and full motivation on my side...I think I'm ready to get my head in the blogging game again!
Until next time-


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blogger Crush

Ok, so with moving on my mind I've been doing lots of thinking about how to organize the next house. Random thoughts: Where's the best place to keep beach towels and swim suits?  Is it better to stock the pantry with food in their original packaging or in nice plastic airtight containers? 
These questions in mind, leads me to my newest blog crush- Jen at  IHeart Organizing.  Seriously, this girl can organize!

Her Pantry

Her Laundry Room (she makes paper towels and cleaning products look so good!)

If you're in the need for some organization I suggest you browse her blog for a while.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Zucchini Lasagna

If your garden is anything like our garden then you have cucumbers and zucchinis coming out of your ears.  I hate that so much of it goes to waste each summer because we can never use them fast enough.  We can only eat so much zucchini bread, zucchini saute and cucumber salad.  This summer I made it a goal to experiment with these foods.  
Experiment number 1-Zucchini Lasagna!

You can go about this two different ways.  You can follow your own lasagna recipe substituting zucchini slices for your noodles or you can follow my recipe. (Mine turned out pretty awesome..)

What You'll Need:
  • 1 lb turkey burger (we only use turkey burger but you can substitute ground beef)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil 
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8" thick
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta
  • 16 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese 
  • 1 large egg


Cook the turkey burger (or ground beef if you prefer).  When finished, remove from skillet.  Saute chopped onion and garlic (2-3 minutes).  Add meat back into skillet along with crushed tomato, basil, salt and pepper.  Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.  While sauce simmers, slice zucchini in approx, 1/8" slices. Lay sliced zucchini on baking sheet and  broil for a few minutes.  (keep an eye on them so they don't burn).  You may want to pat dry your broiled zucchini to remove excess water.  In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, egg and 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese.  

When sauce has finished simmering it's time to assemble your lasagna.  You will repeat this pattern until ingredients are gone.  I was able to get 2 layers in my large baking dish. (save a little sauce for the top)  First sauce, then zucchini, followed by ricotta cheese mixture and then a light sprinkle of mozzarella .   Repeat one more time then top with remaining sauce, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.  Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover the dish then bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

I was nervous that it was going to be runny because of the zucchini, but it wasn't.  It had a really great taste, too.  (not too vegetable-ey) 

I can't wait to try out more garden infused recipes.  I've got a few cucumber sides coming your way soon!
Do you have a yummy zucchini or cucumber recipe to share?  I'd love to hear about it!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

BLT Salad with Corn, Avocado and Feta Cheese

Talk about a delicious and refreshing salad. 
 Some of my very favorite things mixed together in one dish. I have 3 words for you.  

Bacon.  Avocado.  Feta. 

It doesn't get much better than that.  

What you'll need:
sweet corn
feta cheese

Cook the bacon.  Chop up ingredients.  Throw it together in a bowl.  Cover with your favorite dressing or lightly toss with 1 tbsp oil, squeeze of lime juice, salt and pepper.

You just can't beat a fresh salad!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What I Wore Wednesday

There was a whole lot of Red, White and Blue wearing this past week.  If you're going to buy a cool American Flag scarf you better plan to wear it as much as possible during the holiday!  
Bad news-my scarf is sold out.  I bet if you check back in with Single Thread next 4th of July they'll have something similar!

    Tank- Similar   Skirt-(they no longer carry my denim pencil skirt, but here's a similar one)

Tank   Skirt (mine was purchased at a local boutique years's a similar one.  It comes in lots of colors too!)

Tank   Jeans- (similar)


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Taco Tuesday-Mexican Pizza

Needing something a little different for next week's Taco Tuesday?  How about some Mexican Pizza?!?  Here's my low calorie version.

What you'll need:
Tortilla Shells (I use whole wheat)
EVOO (or whatever oil you like to use)
1 can Refried Beans
1 lb Hamburger (I use turkey burger)
1 packet Taco Seasoning
Taco Cheese
Taco Sauce
Green Onion
Black Olives

Optional: Sour cream or Guacamole as a side

Lightly coat the tortilla shells with oil.  Broil 2-3 minutes on each side.  Keep your eye on them.  As you can see from my picture I burnt a corner of my tortilla shells.

Cook the hamburger/turkey burger and season with taco seasoning as normal.

Lay broiled tortilla shells out.  You will need 2 per Mexican Pizza.

Cover the bottom tortilla shell with Salsa, Meat and Cheese.

Spread refried beans on the top tortilla.  When covered flip it over on top of the bottom tortilla so bean covered side touches the cheese on the bottom tortilla.

Spread Salsa and Cheese on top.  Drizzle the Taco Sauce.  Sprinkle Green Onion, Black Olives and Tomato on top.  

Bake until Cheese is melted.  

Chow Down!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Weekend Recap

Our official weekend started on Thursday since Brandon was off on Friday in observance of the Fourth of July Holiday.  It was the most beautiful July weather I can ever remember having.  A nice cool breeze made it so comfortable to sit outside.

The kids enjoyed lots of playing. 

Brandon worked in the garden while grilling.  I prepped some Sangria to enjoy over the weekend.  Then we enjoyed a nice shrimp meal outside on the patio with a fire. 

It was a wonderful start to the weekend!

Friday kicked off with Brandon playing 18 holes with some friends.  The kids and I lounged around for a while then hit up the local city pool.  Parker has been begging me to take him so I thought today was as good a day as any.

In the evening we enjoyed an amazing firework show.

I'm talking tons of boom, fizzle and AWWW set with musical accompaniment.  
Saturday afternoon we enjoyed some friend time at a birthday party!  Happy 3rd Birthday Carter!  

Sunday was the perfect end to the weekend with a little golf in the morning

and a barbecue with friends in the afternoon.
It's always so nice to catch up with friends while the kids run and play.

Such a fun weekend.
With so much activity I'm sure there will be a whole lot of this happening this week...

I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend!