The First Snow [And Other Need To Know Info]

Well, it's official - winter finally made its grand debut in Indiana last weekend by dumping over 6 inches of snow on us in one day. As much as I always say I would love to live in Southern California, this whole snow business has a special place in my heart that almost makes me more giddy than a sunny 75 degree day spent on a boat. It's like us Midwesterner's are given a six month excuse to do nothing but wear slippers, drink coffee and lay on the couch. Southern California peeps are expected to do really awesome things twelve months out of every year. Talk about exhausting those poor things, my condolences are with you.

When I woke up last Saturday morning I knew it was going to be one of those winter days I was going to get real dramatic about as I looked out the windows and saw nothing but white....

I did exactly what I knew I needed to do in this moment. 

And there I stayed, forever and ever amen. 

I take that back. Somewhere in between the busyness of doing nothing I decided to peel 5 pounds of potatoes because I wasn't feeling quite old or wife-ish enough. This certainly did the domestic trick.

I get that oceans are pretty and all, but this -- well, it's sometimes breathtaking. Mad props Indiana.

In other, non-bragging winter news, Friday happens to be a day that people shop or so I'm told. In the midst of my decorating for Christmas spree, I also got my hands on these original Language Art pieces [made by my very first boyfriend's mother..awwwwww]. I've had several of their pieces in my house before but some of their new collections are my absolute favorite. In the spirit of sharing good deals, I thought I'd let you know that Language Art is offering free shipping from now until the end of the day Monday. These make for awesome gifts, I know this because my mom walked in my house and said "hey, I want that clock" and then proceeded to take my clock.

The cool thing about this bad boy is that the background is a photograph of the side of an old fishing boat in Alaska, while all of the numbers are photographs [of numbers] taken from places all over the place. 

Below I'm representin' my great state with the HOME sign [this can be hung on the wall or sit in a stand] - the state photo is a photograph of a vintage puzzle piece so that's neat [available in most states].

Last but not least, the cuties of the group - these colorful tiles sitting pretty in their little stand. You can form virtually any word that you want and make for great pieces for desks, tables, or anywhere else you need a word [so everywhere]. 

Get your gift on at Language Art now and scratch those "need to buy for" people off your list. It's a freeing feeling, the singing Elsa doll sitting on my counter tells me so. God bless parents of children who only want singing dolls for Christmas. the end.



Make: Mini Apple Cheesecakes With Salted Caramel Streusel Topping

It all happened a few weeks ago when we were invited over to my parents for dinner. I was instructed that I was in charge of bringing a salad so I did what any normal human would do - I made a taco dip for chips and dessert. Basically the same thing as a salad so whatever. After scouring Pinterest I found the dessert that I knew I had to make. I'm not sure if it was the word apple, or caramel, or perhaps streusel that made me excited [heck after reading those words it could have ended with "pile of bricks" and I'd be sold] but whatever it was, I knew I had to make it. Baking and sweets usually aren't my thing, I prefer wine and beer and things of that nature, but this dessert was a success and one I'm excited to make again. While the list of ingredients looks long and daunting, I promise it's not as hard as it looks. If I can do it, your two year old can do it. This is a perfect fall [or psssst - Thanksgiving treat for all of you last minute planners!] that all age ranges will enjoy. Lets get down to the real reason we're here today - the recipe. 

Mini Apple Cheesecakes with Salted Caramel Streusel Topping


 10 graham cracker sheets, finely crushed
1 2/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1/2 inch cubes

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb granny smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 tsp lemon juice

Salted Caramel Sauce (store bought)


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the crushed graham crackers, sugar and cinnamon. Pour in the melted butter and using a fork, stir until evenly moistened. Divide the mixture between 18 cupcake liners. Press into an even layer and then bake in oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool while making the streusel. 

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add in the diced cold butter and using your fingertips rub the butter into the mixture until it starts to crumble and the butter is no longer visible. Place in the refrigerator while preparing the filling. 

In a bowl, toss the chopped apples with lemon juice and set aside. Just a quick note on the apples - I used about 3 granny smith apples and you want to make sure to have the apples in very small pieces to ensure they cook thoroughly. I used a chopper to get mine small and even. 

In a mixing bowl use an electric mixer on medium-low speed to cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the eggs one at a time then blend in the sour cream and vanilla. 

Assembly time! 

Divide the cheesecake batter evenly among the 18 cups and pour over the crust. Divide the apples evenly over the cheesecake layer then finish by sprinkling the streusel over the tops. Bake in over for around 25 minutes and cool at room temp for around 30 minutes. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 3 hours. 
Before serving, drizzle all cheesecakes with salted caramel topping. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor! 

Recipe Inspired By: Cooking Classy

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving stuffing your face with all sorts of goodness while having awkward conversations with those you love the most :)



5 Quick [And Chemical Free] Ways To A Cleaner Home!

If you know me at all personally and have been to my house, you may say that I am a little anal when it comes to the cleanliness of my home. This was proven just last week as I had a house full of women over along with a few small children - the kids were doing what they do best [eating cookies on the couch] and as I saw crumbs falling everywhere, I quickly got out the vacuum and started sweeping while everybody else was trying to enjoy one another's company. I think they laughed at the fact [and maybe thought I was an idiot] that I was vacuuming while they were there trying to chat however, ain't nobody got time for a couch full of crumbs. Unfortunately this cleaning incident has happened smack dab in the middle of one too many hosting occasions. #sorrynotsorry.

I'm pretty sure my husband doesn't know if he should love this character trait about me or despise it terribly. He often tries to remind me that "it's okay, we can live in the house.." to which I quickly remind him "well that's fine, just live cleanly in this house so please, use this paper towel immediately to wipe up that coffee ring you just left on the counter.." Really, I am a peach to live with.

While I am very particular about having a clean home, I am also very particular on not spending a massive amount of time or chemicals to get my house this way. In fact, the only place that chemicals are used in our house are in the bathroom where toilets and showers are involved because yikes, I know what happens on toilets and in showers and kill that shaz immediately. Besides that however, no dust sprays, no window cleaners, no wood floor cleaner, no nothin'. Today I thought it'd be fun to show you how I clean up the most frustrating areas of my house in no time at all.

1. Lets start with the most time consuming area of the house, the floors. While I love our hardwood floors, the dark wood loves to show every.single.thing all.of.the.time. Because of this, I find myself sweeping constantly [because Lord knows we can't have one piece of dust floating around in a corner ;)]. Just recently I was introduced to the Hoover Cordless Vacuum and OH.MY.WORD. this thing is life changing and yes, I know I am seriously adulting right now over it. I wish I could appropriately confess my love for this piece of cleaning technology in this one blog post but I just don't think my words will ever do it justice. You guys, it's cordless. You know what this means right? No plugging in anything. No dragging anything behind you. No getting that freaking cord stuck under the bar stool tipping it over denting your lovely hardwood floors. The better part to this story? It is made for both hard surface floors and carpet, meaning I can cover every square inch of my house without having to change what I am using. It's the most genius invention I've ever experienced.

I am using the Hoover Air Cordless Lift Upright Vacuum in our house and well, I haven't even told you one of the coolest parts about it yet [building the suspense, you know]. The Lift part of the name you ask? Let me tell you -- you can lift the canister right out of the base of this thing and then carry it all around your house (or shoot to your car or to your boat or to wherever you may need to) and suck some things up. Being the couch sweeper that I am, this is perfect for being able to easily do just that. 

A few other things to note about this bad boy - the Hoover Cordless Vacuums are powered by LithiumLife batteries which have double the capacity of a standard lithium Ion battery which means it will run much longer [I have cleaned my entire house several times before needing a charge] and at a much higher power.

The Hoover cordless line currently has 4 different cordless cleaners - 3 are vacuums and one is a hard floor wet cleaner, all of which use the same battery meaning you can interchange between products. 

So you're asking - does it really clean up floors well? Why yes, yes it does. The windtunnel 3 technology uses three channels of suction to lift and remove dirt quickly and easily. There is a button you push depending on what type of floors you are on which will change the roll of the brush. My favorite part? It is so flexible, it clearly was in gymnastics as a child. I can get this baby under nearly everything and it turns on a dime. 

Clean up is a breeze and oh friends, you need to ask for the Hoover Air Cordless Lift Upright Vacuum for Christmas like yesterday. End of story.

2. Next up, the most commonly ignored thing to clean [or at least in my house] - windows. My mom is a window nazi, she cleans hers several times a week, both inside and out. I prefer to stick to the twice a year routine. Because I am trying to do better about this, I have found a way to do it quickly and easily. All I use is water [no smelly vinegar or funky other items] and a microfiber cloth. I get that microfiber cloth wet, swirl in circles and then dry it off with a polishing cloth - toss em' both in the washing machine when I'm done and wa-la, clean windows! I can now wash windows in a matter of minutes and the fact that it's just with water, perfection!

3. The problem area, microwave. This is a tip I learned from a friend and it's this - to clean the inside of your microwave, simply microwave a cup full of water for a minute or two to steam the inside. Once you have done this, simply take a rag and wipe. All of that hard crusty stuck on pizza sauce will come off in one swipe making your job easy as can be. And bonus! You didn't have to spray any chemicals that would later get cooked in with your food!

4. The nitty gritty, grout. Just recently I learned what a difference a little lemon oil can make on this problem area. All you need is a few drops [feel free to dilute with some water] and start scrubbing. Our grout has never looked more white after we get some lemon oil on it. As an added plus, your floors will have never smelled better either! The good news is you can go ahead and lick em' - it's all natural! Go ahead, I won't tell anybody.

5. Dust here, dust there, dust everywhere. Again, I turn to microfiber to make all of my easy cleaning dreams come true. No sprays are necessary as the fibers trap and capture the dust particles leaving them non-existent in your home. Simply wipe the microfiber [can either be a cloth or wand like pictured below] over all areas and dust be gone! No more sticky residue left all over your side tables and cute vases.

And there we have 5 cleaning hacks that are worth your time [or lack thereof]! What's one cleaning tip/trick you have? I'd love to hear it below! 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.



Create The Good

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Create the Good for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

As if there wasn't reason enough to love the Holidays, the one thing that pulls on my heartstrings the most is when I take note of all the good that is done around this time of the year. While it can often be the most selfish and materialistic time of the year, it can also be the most selfless and genuine time of the year. When I heard about the 25 Days, 25 Ways to Give campaign which encourages you to do at least one positive action each day to help someone else, it made my heart swell with happiness that yes - this is what the Holiday season is all about.

I don't know if life has felt heavy at all to you over the past couple of weeks, but it certainly has around here. I've found myself in conversation after conversation about how messy this world feels. Fortunately, there is still hope that good exists, I know only because if you pay attention - you see it often.

If you have been around this blog for a length of time, you may remember in years past [here and here] that I have hosted a clothes drive at a local high school kids organization. I'd go through my closets, ask my friends to do the same - and then set-up shop for an evening to allow girls who may not have the opportunity to receive clothing often to come shop.... for free!

It never failed I would leave that place in tears after watching the genuine excitement and gratitude from those girls. Because I started to feel an age gap between the clothes I was wearing now in my almost 30 state compared to what young girls wanted to receive, I decided to do things a little different this year by inviting personal friends over to shop my closet. While I did collect money for the items, it has been decided that the money is going to be spent on purchasing gifts for families in need this Christmas season. Everybody deserves to feel loved, regardless of the time of the year and if this is a small way that I can let a few people know that they are cared about and cherished, I say lets do it.

If you are also looking for a way to give back, Create the Good has compiled a challenge of 25 different ways to do so throughout a 25 day period. Ranging from items like give a meal to the homeless, hold the door open for someone, to post an inspirational quote on social media. I love that you don't have to spend countless amounts of money or energy to put a little good back into the world. With just a little extra effort and love you can make a big impact in small ways. Create the Good is also an awesome resource to find local ways that you can serve your community - one of my favorite ways to do this is to volunteer at a local homeless shelter to serve food around the holidays.

As we shift our focus away from us and more onto others, I challenge you to sign up for the Create the Good 25 Days, 25 Ways to Give campaign and start tackling the list to do an act of good for somebody else every day for 25 days straight. I know I have personally challenged myself to do the same and I can't wait to see the impact that it has - not just on others lives but my own. I've always believed that the quickest way to turn your attitude around is to go out and serve others. Beautiful things happen when you open your world beyond yourself.

Currently, the Create the Good program is offering a unique and fun giveaway to those who sign up for the challenge - 25 winners will be selected to win a $100 gift card and one winner will take the grand prize of a trip to Smuggler's Notch Resort in Vermont. Once you sign up, you may start creating the good at anytime during your 25 days. Do this challenge, not because of the fact that you may win something out of it, but because what you are about to do matters. I can't wait to rally together and get out there and start doing good - if you are committing to the challenge I would love to hear so in the comments below! 
Visit Sponsors Site



An Activity You Must Do With Your Friends - Goodwill Date

It all started when I received a random text from a girlfriend (hey Carolyn!) the other week: "Goodwill date on 11/13 - a restaurant for dinner is still to be determined!" I was utterly confused but didn't ask any questions. I proceeded to text my husband and inform him that a few girlfriends and I were apparently going out to dinner and shopping at Goodwill for a random night out...his response "for once I won't have to be concerned about your spending!" A week or so passed and I received another text, this time a huge group text "22 of us are confirmed for our Goodwill date! You have $10 to spend on your partner, dinner will be at ____, see you in your outfits then!" And then I got it. This wasn't a dinner and shopping trip with girlfriends, this was a grab your spouse, head to Goodwill, shop for one another and buy the most ridiculous things you can find and then show up in public for a dinner out in your outfits with 20 others! Perfection.

And so that's what we did - Shawn and I made our way to the nearest Goodwill store, he ventured off to the women's section and I made my way to the men's (although sticking to the women's section for him sounded a little more exciting) and stuck to our limit of $10 each. Thankfully we shopped on a 30% off day stretching our dollars even further. He found the most flattering shoulder to ankle dress for myself, a flower and star adorned belt, women's shooting visor, a nice patch of fur to stick in my pocket, the prettiest purse which had a baby girl angel staring up at me and one shinguard to top it all off. You never know when you are going to need that extra protection ya know?

I decided on a delightful combination of furry pajama pants with a mock turtleneck, Hugh Hefner velour robe and a fancy remote control tie. Lets just say it was hard to keep my hands off that man that evening.......

We then met up with the group at a nice dining establishment [Lucchese's if you are local] dressed in our get-up and had a few rules for inside the restaurant - we couldn't act as if we were dressed weird nor could we use the restroom that was closest to us. Oh no, we had to use the restrooms that were on the other end of the building meaning we would have to walk past the bar and through the restaurant to make sure all eyes could delight in our beautiful outfits. Fortunately the visor provided some nice shade over my face making it a little easier to hide. 

It was such a fun and ridiculous night that I highly encourage you to do this with your friends. I'm trying to think if I have ever laughed more from just looking around a dining table and no, I never had. Between the onesies, 80's space suit, Zach Morris sweater, Christmas cardigans, pleated pants and an oil tycoon blazer - we were looking good - real good.

Just for a quick recap of how it works, here you go:

Get to planning - it's the perfect winter activity because lets be real, what else is there to do when it's negative 13 and dark come 4:30 pm? Happy Goodwill dating. 



Dear Santa, All I Want For Christmas Is...

There's no denying that Christmas is right around the corner and as much as I try to not get into the "stuff" of Christmas, it's hard to not get sucked into the ooooh's and ahhh's of the years hottest items. Fortunately I was able to test some of the years hot commodities in the latest Acorn Box which is like giving a box of candy to a four year old. I am the four year old in this equation and the candy is these five items below that you, yes you, must now either add to your Christmas wish list or buy for somebody on yours. Being that I am a kitchen junkie [is there really a better room in the house?] this month's box sent my cooking [errrrr, eating] heart into a fluttering state. Lets get this party started [psssst - make sure to get to the end where you can enter to win ALL of these goodies!]...

So kids, whether you believe it or not I have never owned a blender [that worked], a juicer, a mixer or anything with a switch that makes the most daunting of tasks fun and so easy it's stupid. That is until now with this incredible piece of machinery, also known as the Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ Blender

Aside from being beautiful, slim [which is perfect for storing inside a cabinet], and ultra modern - this blender is like one of those Olympic athletes that you just don't believe is really that good, because how? But they are and so is this. This blender takes the guesswork out of making your favorite juices, dips [hummus anyone?] and other delicious items with its auto-IQ technology which sets the appropriate time and counts down for you on its digital display timer. You simply fill one of your cups [either 18 oz or 24 oz] with your ingredients [whole fruits and veggies are perfect], turn it on and let it use its auto IQ technology to deliver you the perfect consistency of juice in the matter of seconds. Unscrew your cup from the base, screw on the lid and you are good to go for the day! The cleanup is incredibly easy [literally, next to none] and well, have I said that I loved this yet? Truly the blender of the year. If you have been wanting to give juicing a try, look no further. Here's what I put in mine...

Jam Packed Juice: 
1 Handful Spinach
2 Bananas
1 Mango
1 Pear
1 Apple
1 Handful Rasperries

The juice was delicious [I mean that 110%] and I am already dreaming up new recipes to try in this amazing blender. You can find this at both Walmart and Walmart.com.

2. Signature Tea Company 

Now that we've covered juice, we should cover tea- winter's way of telling us that we are loved :) A couple of things concerning this tea, the packaging. I'm a sucker for a shiny gold lid. I'm even more of a sucker for a shiny gold lid with heavenly tasting tea packed inside. This Signature Tea Co. is found at Walmart and has several different great tasting, soothing flavors. I sampled the Organic Chamomile, Peppermint [my favorite], Antioxidant Green Tea and Jasmine Tea. 

This is a great stocking stuffer idea or a great item to have on hand at all times for Christmas company!

3. Sharpie Extreme Marker Set 

Sharpies, who doesn't love these bad boys? They are like America's favorite past time, or at least mine. The great thing about these Sharpies you ask? They are fade resistant which means they can withhold UV rays, snow, rain, mud, etc and can be used on a variety of materials such as wood, plastic, glass, and so on. Because I love to keep track of our meals, I've been labeling our Hello Fresh meals with the day of the week we are going to eat it so we remember which meat we need to grab out of the freezer that morning [a hard thing to remember, believe me...ooops, no thawed meat - going out to eat it is!] however this has helped. 

The organized side of my heart is just so happy right now. These Extreme Fade Resistant Sharpie markers can be found at Walmart, Target, Office Depot and Office Max.

4.  Rubbermaid 5-cup Premier Food Storage

Because we try to eat a lot at home during the week which you can see from above, that means we also have a lot of leftovers. I am a huge food storage person as the container has to keep the items not just fresh but also nice looking [who wants their food in ugly containers?!] and it needs to hold a lot, because well because I eat a lot. These Rubbermaid 5-cup containers meet all of these qualifications. Rather than gifting your present in a boring box that gets thrown away, put it in these pretty containers that they can then use for whatever their heart desires in the future!

You know what comes alongside the Holidays right? Hosting. When I realized that this knife set came with a sandwich spreader, paring knife, tomato knife and utility knife I was all sorts of excited because OH MY GOSH I AM AN ADULT NOW. I didn't know a tomato knife was a thing but it is and now I'm going cut tomatoes all day long because I can. Oh the freedom! These knives are the real deal. And by that I mean sharp. I tested the paring knife on the lemon and slice, right through the thing like butter. I felt very ninja like.

The sandwich spreader works great with dips so we found out when shoving our face full of hummus.

Have a chef in your family? You can now scratch their Christmas gift off your list. You're welcome. You can find this great Chicago Cutlery Knife Set at Walmart.

And now for the best part of all, you [yes! you!] have the chance to win this month's Acorn Box which means you will receive all of the 5 items below, lucky you! All you have to do to enter is click here! Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Acorn Influence, but all opinions are 100% my own.