Monday, October 31, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

Happy Happy Halloween! I hope everyone has their costumes ready! Ellie has picked her own costume out this year, and has been talking about it for over a month now! I'll be sure to post pictures after the festivities tonight!

I am excited to feature Ashley today, because she is sharing an awesome Halloween recipe. Ashley blogs over at a sweet little blog called, Adventures of Newlyweds. Ashley and her sweet hubby get to travel the country for his job, and they have had so many adventures along the way.

Ashley wanted to share a joke with all of you to get you in the Halloween spirit. So hear it is!

Q: What did the ghost say to the bee?
A: Boobee.  Get it??! BOOBIE! 

Ha ha ha, she's funny right? You should definitely head over to her blog to meet her and thank her for the awesome Halloween joke (oh, and also for this recipe cause it's a good one!) She actually got this recipe from her sister-in-law who is a fabulous baker. They sound like the perfect treat to wind up the day with (if you aren't too full from all the Halloween candy!)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil (or half oil, half applesauce for a healthier alternative)
4 eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup milk
1 3/4 cup pumpkin (not the pie filling!)
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick baking spray. In a mixing bowl, beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Blend thoroughly. In a separate bowl. sift flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gradually add egg mixture to the dry mixture. Blend thoroughly. Fold in half the milk and half o f the pumpkin. Repeat. Spoon the mix evenly into the pan (about 2/3 full). Bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean. 

(Image credit Ashley)

Ummmm, yes please! They look so good! Much better than Halloween candy. You gotta try these out! And don't forget to head over the Ashley's blog and say hello.

And stay tuned for pictures of Ellie in her ridiculously cute Halloween costume!

Friday, October 28, 2011

- missing in action -

I've been a bit "mia" lately because I have been busy planning for this:

I edited out my address and my phone number, hence the big ugly blank spots...

 I absolutely love planning parties, and it's even more fun and rewarding to do when it's for your own little one!

It's crunch time now...the party is in a week! So if you don't hear from me next week, it's because I am knee deep in party decorations and cupcake baking....even though what I should be doing is getting back into my work out routine, getting my actual work done at the office, and maybe doing some of the laundry that is piling up. But those things just aren't as fun...and Ellie only turns 2 once right? (I think that's going to be my excuse every year...I seriously love planning her parties!)

I leave you with a picture of our recent pumpkin patch trip. It's almost Halloween! Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

- a little public service announcement -

I know that as a parent, we can't wrap our little ones in bubble wrap and try to protect them from every thing that might hurt them. I know that accidents happen, no matter how cautious you are as a parent. But I also think there are some proactive things that parents can do to prevent some major accidents. Even the accidents that you don't think would EVER happen in your house.

Now that I have a toddler, I have been aware how important it is to strap your furniture to the walls. But up until now, we had not actually done it. You always say you will, and then just never get around to it.

A week ago, I read this post. Please take the time to read it. It's a scary story about a little girl who climbed on a dresser to try to get a toy. Her mom had left her alone for less than 30 seconds...that's right, it happened that fast..the dresser fell on her head, and the poor little girl was pinned under it. She had major head trauma and needed surgery to correct the damage that was done to her head and her brain. It's a scary thought...that something like that can happen that fast.

(Image credit
When I told Matt about the story, he didn't even have to read the story...he just took one look at the pictures of the little girl post-surgery, and told me he would strap everything to the wall immediately. One week later, we have a safer house (and yes, also a lot more holes in the walls, but that's okay! We'll deal with that when we move or when our kids have grown up).

We used these straps, and they seemed easy enough to install. And they are definitely secure! 

Ellie isn't even that adventurous of a toddler. She doesn't climb on tons of things, and she can be pretty scared and timid. She's definitely not fearless and doesn't explore many areas of our house without us. But I would never, ever forgive myself if I took my eyes off of her for a minute and something like this happened to her (and let's just be honest, it's totally unrealistic to think you will always have your eye on your child at all times). And imagine if something like this happened to your child and it was completely preventable, with one $5.00 package of safety brackets and a half an hour of your time. Seriously you guys, please do this! Don't assume that something like this won't happen to your child or that your furniture is heavy enough and will never tip over. You never know what could happen in 30 seconds. I know so many people with toddlers that say they are going to get around to doing this, and just never do. And odds are, nothing will happen to their children. But you never know! People use seat belts, and car seats everyday to protect their straps are really no different. It's just another strap that ensures your child's safety.

I actually have an extra package of these that we didn't end up needing. I am going to offer them to anyone who is interested in trying them out, as long as you promise that they actually get put to use, and not just thrown in a drawer with the intentions of installing them "some day".  Just shoot me an email or leave me a comment and I will mail my extra package out to the first interested reader who wants to make their house just a little safer for their little ones!

And a big thank you to my hubby for making this a priority and getting these installed on our furniture! Our dressers and tables are not even close to budging anymore.

Monday, October 24, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

Hello, hello all of you lovely readers! Welcome to the beginning of the week and Happy Monday!

We had a wonderful family weekend, complete with the pumpkin patch, the apple orchard, amazing BBQ, and fresh apple pie! It was great! 

Today I am happy to be featuring Marissa, from Momma Rake. Marissa has two beautiful little girls and a wonderful husband. She is also uber talented and sells the cutest things on Etsy. Her blog is filled with posts inspired by her love of faith, family, food, and fashion with fun little tutorials and recipes along the way. Her DIY tutorials look so easy, even for a "non crafty" person like me! You will always find something on her blog that will inspire you and make you smile.

(Image credit Marissa)
(Image credit Marissa)

Easy Beef Stroganoff
1 lb. ground beef
1 large bag egg noodles
1 tsp. minced onion (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped onion)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. seasoned salt (such as Lawry's)
1 8 oz. package button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook ground beef, mushrooms, minced onion, garlic powder, seasoned salt over medium high heat until meat is cooked. Drain off the fat and return to burner. Add soup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and cook over medium heat until bubbly. Serve over pasta.
(Image credit Marissa)

Thank you Marissa! It looks so good!

Friday, October 21, 2011

- my name -

My name: Kyna
For anyone who has been's pronounced {Kee - na}. It's Irish Gaelic. And no, I am not Irish...not a drop of Irish in me...but my parents liked the name, and so it was decided...Kyna it is!

I struggled with it as a kid. I was an extremely shy child. So having a unique name didn't exactly help bring me out of my shell. No one could ever spell it right, or pronounce it right. However, for the record, now that I am older, I really like love my name, and I am so glad it's so unique and different...although, I'm not gonna lie...when we named Ellie, I wanted to make sure we chose a name that was easy to pronounce and spell. Because going through elementary school with an un-prounaceable name is just hard!

- it's time to welcome fall -

Happy Fall!

I've been so busy mourning the disappearance of summer, that I haven't given fall a proper hello! So, hello fall, and welcome! I think I am now ready to embrace you! We are headed out this weekend for a whole bunch of official fall activities. We're hitting up the pumpkin patch (Ellie's second time this season already, as you can tell from the picture above), apple picking, and maybe some chili and hot apple pie! And then, of course, football! Because what would fall be without our weekend ritual of watching football?

I hope everyone enjoys this wonderful fall weekend! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

- words -

 After watching this video about 100 times because it made my heart melt so much, I started thinking about the power of words. How these simple words out of my toddler's mouth can make my heart laugh and sing...and oppositely, how hurt and stung I have felt by angry, mean words that have been directed towards me in the past. This also made me think about how I might have hurt other people in the past with the words that have escaped my lips. Words do so much more than people usually realize.

Please think about the power your words have before saying things in anger or haste. Words are so, so powerful. Loving words can make you so happy...they can absolutely make your day! While hurtful words can simply crush your soul.

The world would be a better place with a lot fewer hurtful words and a lot more simple, loving, caring words like Ellie's!

Monday, October 17, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

So, I not only survived the weekend away from my baby, but I really enjoyed the break and had a great time! It was nice to get away with just the hubby and enjoy some toddler free time...although, I'm not going to sugar coat it, I missed her like CRAZY! However, I am now definitely recharged and ready to take on this upcoming crazy week! We had some great food, watched a few awesome live bands, and slept in on both Saturday and Sunday morning! It was definitely a great weekend!

So, now, back to the week ahead of us. The most exciting thing about this week is that it is FINALLY time for me to feature one of the most amazing momma bloggers I know. Meet Melanie from Happy Jax . Melanie might be one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever met through my blog. This girl is absolutely filled with positivity and always has a smile on her face! Her blog just radiates happiness all the time! Not to mention how gorgeous she is, both inside and out. I don't even remember how we stumbled upon each other's blogs, but we've been great blogger friends ever since! I would love so much to meet this sweetie in person and have a glass of wine with her!

(Image credit Melanie)

And please look how cute her son, Jax, is. He has a million dollar smile that just lights up the room!

(Image credit Melanie)

 Melanie is a stay at home momma that loves taking care of her three year old boy. She recently fell in love w/ photography, & even though she doesn't have a fancy camera (yet) she doesn't let that stop her from pretending she's a pro! (her pictures are really great! Super creative composition!) Her family is her everything and she loves capturing their crazy, normal, everyday life with her lil camera! Melanie is truly one of the friendliest people ever and her blog makes me smile every time I go visit it. I guarantee you won't regret getting to know this momma! She's one of those people that make you feel more complete once you get to know her! I truly mean that....I adore this girl!

Homemade Mozzarella Cheesy Sticks
1 package (8 ounces) string cheese
2 & 1/4 cups original Bisquick
2/3 cups milk
1 can of marinara sauce for dipping (heated) OR if your feeling extra saucy ranch is yummy!
1 tablespoon butter (melted)
1/3 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix together baking mix & milk until a soft dough forms. Place dough on hard flat surface sprinkled w/ baking mix powder. Gently roll in the baking mix, coating the dough w/ a bit of the powder. Roll formed dough into a large ball shape (Knead for about 10 seconds). Roll out w/ rolling pin (you want it to be about 1/4 inch thick). Cut into 8 rectangle shapes (about 6x2 rectangles). Roll each piece of dough around each piece of string cheese pinching the ends together. Place seam side down on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8-12 minutes @ 450 or until golden brown. Brush w/ melted butter & garlic powder before removing from baking sheet.
(An excellent add on idea is to also wrap some turkey or ham lunch meat around the string cheese, before rolling in the dough!)
(Image credit Melanie)

Yummy yum yum! Those sound delicious! A great side dish to some warm homemade soup, or chili. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us Melanie! And all of  you lovely readers, please take a minute to visit Melanie's blog, Happy Jax and get to know her and her charming family!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

- a weekend away -

Big, big weekend for me. I'm excited and really nervous all at the same's my first time away from Ellie this weekend! Yep, in almost 2 years, I have never been away from her for more than 8 hours or so. It's not that I've never wanted to spend a night away from her. It just hasn't really happened until now. Every time we talked about planning a weekend away, something always came up. Matt has been on a few trips since she was born, but I have never spent a night away from her, let alone a whole weekend! So, needless to say, even though I know we are going to have a lot of fun, these 3 days and 2 nights away from my sweet girl might be a little rough for me! She has been so amazing lately, and I just know I am going to miss her so much. Wish me luck my lovely friends! I'll be back Monday morning to report how things went (I know she will do just fine...she's spending the weekend with her amazing Lola, who she loves to's me that I'm worried about!)

(Image credit Nina S)

I'll miss you sweet girl!

(Oh, btw, I FINALLY got around to adding my Facebook and Twitter buttons to my sidebar! Feel free to follow me that way if that's your thing!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

- happy birthday Brayden -

Today is Ellie's best friend's 2nd birthday!

Brayden is an amazing little boy, and I absolutely adore both him and his mom (and of course his dad)... Ellie adores them too, which means they are keepers!

Happy Happy Birthday sweet boy! We LOVE you kiddo!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

- crayon mischief -

Nothing beats coming back into the living room (after leaving for less than a minute), to find that your toddler has colored all over your laptop! Yup, all over! All over the screen, the keyboard, every bit of it was covered in crayon (a lovely shade of blue I might add!) I didn't even think about snapping a picture of her artwork to share with all of you, as I was in the middle of having a minor major heart attack...until I started wiping it off and remembered that she had luckily pulled the bag of washable crayons out of her art cabinet to color with instead of the box of non washable crayons. Her artwork wiped away with ease, and all was quickly back to normal in our household (after a stern but calm talk with the little toddler). I know this won't be the last time that I find her "artwork" where it shouldn't be...which is why that box of non washable crayons magically "disappeared" last night and might not ever return.

I mean, who needs non washable crayons anyway?

And who can stay mad at this little one?
(well, it helps that her artwork washed away so easily! I might be singing a different tune if I was typing on a Crayola stained laptop right now!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

Hello, hello, and Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fabulously delightful weekend! We celebrated Ellie's best friend, Brayden's, birthday. It was so much fun! I can't believe he is two! That means Ellie is not far behind!

Today I would like to introduce you to the super sweet, totally cute Genevieve, from Life on the Terrace. Genevieve has a 14 month old son named Parker, and a husband named Lucas. She is a stay at home mom and she started her blog when she was first pregnant with Parker. Now she updates it with a lot of photos of what is going on in their life and her experiences as a new mom. She is quite a talented photographer and I always love seeing the new pictures she posts! Genevieve's blog is definitely a daily read for me!

(Image credit Genevieve)

Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup 
-Adapted from A Dash of Sass Blog & Cooking Light-
12 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage (or you can use sweet for a more mild flavor)
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed or stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon Italian blend spices
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a large saucepan or high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the pan. Add green peppers and onion. Saute until soft. Add minced garlic and quickly saute. Be careful to continue stirring to avoid burning the garlic. Remove sausage casing and tear sausage into small pieces. Add sausage to pepper and onion mixture. Cook until browned and crumbled, approximately 5 to 8 minutes. Add beans and tomatoes. Add spices. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until thoroughly warmed and thickened.
(Image credit Genevieve)

I am LOVING all of the yummy fall recipes lately. Perfect football food. Thanks Genevieve! I hope everyone takes a trip over to her blog to say hi to her and meet her darling family!

Friday, October 7, 2011

- dreaming of a vacation -

I'm dreaming of spending a week here...

Matt and I used to travel all the time...all over the world. We absolutely love traveling, and we always swore we would continue traveling even after having kids. I would love to book a vacation for the three of us very soon. (God knows we need a vacation!) And I know financially we definitely could swing it. But then, I second guess myself...are we being stupid spending that much money on a week long vacation? Should that money go into savings instead? It was much easier to say "let's go for it" when we were younger and didn't have as many responsibilities.

But now, I'm torn...

A part of me says "Just do it!"  Life is about experiencing things, and enjoying things. We have the money, so why not? Ellie would love the trip, and she really is a good toddler to travel with. It definitely would not be a nightmare to bring her along. But then a part of me says we should be our money...sock it away for the future.

What to do, what to do?? Oh, it's so tempting!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

- random thoughts of the evening -

Some of you may love these random posts...nothing but rambling thoughts, no rhyme or reason. Some of you may hate them...nothing but rambling thoughts, no rhyme or reason. But whichever the case is for you, this is all I got for you tonight. I don't have any deep, poignant thoughts. No heart warming moments to share...just rambling thoughts, no rhyme or reason...

- I am seriously loving Courtney over at The Mommy Matters. I have loved her blog since the first day I found it, but lately I have really been inspired by her raw, honest blogging style.

- Speaking of blogs that I love, I am going to start a "blogging spotlight" over on my sidebar (an idea that I am borrowing from the lovely {shutter}mama)...featuring one of my favorite bloggers every two weeks. Keep a look out for that coming soon!

- I am intensely craving pizza right now. I don't know why...I'm not actually that hungry. I cooked a very healthy, filling meal for dinner, but for some reason, I am seriously craving some pizza. Like a big slice of NY style pizza...yum!

- Can someone please tell me why my child is growing like a weed right now? The funny thing is, she is still a tiny kid for her age, but I feel like she is outgrowing so many of her clothes right now! She was in a size 4 shoe for two weeks...yes, that's right, only two weeks! Some of the size 4 shoes I had for her she didn't even wear! I feel like she has been so small since she was born and now she is trying to catch up to the other kids her age! Total growth spurt means more shopping for clothes for her (fun), which means spending more money (not fun).

- Did anyone else watch the long drawn out Apple iPhone announcement today? Yes, I am a nerd for watching it. But I work in a major Mac office, and things like that excite my co-workers, so we had it streaming into our office. The new "personal assistant" coming out on the iPhone 4S looks promising! Everything else was just kind of "ho-hum" in my opinion.

- Birthdays, birthdays,'s almost Ellie's birthday and the party planning is in full swing. But before Ellie's birthday, we have 2 other birthdays to celebrate, and we have already celebrated 3 birthdays since Sept 1....and, after Ellie's birthday, 2 more to celebrate, all friends and family! Holy cow, fall is the season for birthdays around here.

- I need to start staying up later (I say this at 11:22 p.m. as I am still up, writing this post). Seriously though, I have so many things I want to get done, and I don't seem to have any time to do it all! But seriously how do you night owls stay up until the wee hours of the morning? I know a lot of people say that's when the get the most done...when the house is quiet and everyone has gone to bed, but geez, I'm dead tired and it's not even midnight! And yet, I could think of at least 5 things I could accomplish if I just stayed up a couple hours later tonight...yeah, that's not gonna happen...not tonight.

And because posts are just boring without pictures, here are a couple of none other than my darling little girl (who doesn't seem fit into any of her clothes that are hanging in her closet right now!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

Happy Monday friends! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Can you believe that it is October already?? CRAZY! 

I have the cutest blogger here today to share another yummy recipe with you! Meet Lindsay, the girl behind the blog, Lee La La  .
(Image credit Lindsay)
Lindsay has the cutest daughter with the most adorable name. Meet Landyn.
(Image credit Lindsay)
Lindsay is also a very talented crafter. She has her own Etsy shop that you should really check out. I would absolutely die for this wrap bracelet and could totally see it being a daily wear for me!

Lindsay was over the moon excited to be contributing a recipe for me today because as a momma, she knows how important it is to have QUICK and EASY recipes on hand at all times! (Amen to that!) She also knows how easy it is to get into a cooking slump where you end up cooking the same recipes over and over. That's why sharing recipes is so great! Today, Lindsay is sharing a quick and easy recipe that is always a hit with her family. Have you ever tried Paula Deen's Taco Soup? A friend of Lindsay's recently introduced her to it, and she's been hooked ever since! She could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (This must be a really good recipe! )

Taco Soup
2 lbs ground turkey
2 cups diced onions
2 cans pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can kernel corn, drained
1 can Mexican style stewed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomatoes with chile's
2 (4 1/2 oz) cans of diced green chile's
1 can black olives, drained and diced
1/2 cup green olives, drained and diced
1 package of taco seasoning mix
1 package ranch salad dressing mix

 Brown the ground turkey and onions in a skillet.Transfer the browned turkey to a crock pot. Add the rest of your ingredients (above) into crock pot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Garnish with Frito's, sour cream, and grated cheese.

(Image credit Lindsay)

Thank you so much Lindsay. It sounds like the perfect fall recipe!

Lindsay LOVES meeting new friends, so stop on by her blog and say hello!

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