Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Winter Pictures

I love to get pictures taken throughout the year. It's not often that we get a picture of all three of us, and looking nice too, so it's always nice to set aside a day just for that.  This summer we found an amazing new photographer which we LOVE, she gave us such awesome pictures.  She edited them in a day and had them back to us so quick.  Especially great for times like now when I waited to the last minute to get these pictures in hopes there would be snow.  No luck.

She has been so great and gets the best pictures even when Noah's not really cooperating.  *cough*  Like for these.  She even sang his favorite song, Scooby Doo, just to get him to smile. If you live in the Grand Rapids area I highly recommend her.  She's the best. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chalkola Chalk Markers - Activities for Toddlers

I'm always looking for new activities for Noah to do around the house, especially now that it's getting colder outside.  It's always nice to have options for busy hands.  I was lucky enough to try out some new chalk markers this month that were perfect for a fun toddler activity for Noah. Chalkola Markers are super high quality and high pigmented markers.  The first time you use them they have to be shaken up and the "ink" has to be pushed out.  It does take a couple of minutes so you would want to do this ahead of time.  I started the markers during nap time and played with them for a little bit.  It's even fun for parents to draw around with.

We used our large slider door as our drawing surface as you only will want to use them on non porous surfaces.  Glass worked out great. Noah had so much fun trying out all the colors and naming them with me.  We worked on some numbers, and Jeff even drew out some football plays.  Fun for everyone.

These markers are perfect for Noah now but will also be great as he gets older.  They wash up nice with some water and paper towel so you can do it over and over.  The 15mm markers are slightly larger for little hands to grasp but the 6mm pens were perfect for Jeff and I and great for older kids to use to get a little more detailed.

Chalkola Markers also was kind enough to send out coupon codes so you can try them out for a little less cash.  Thanks Chalkola!

15mm markers - 20% off on Amazon with CHK20OFF
6mm markers - 20% off on Amazon with CHALK20A

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Tree Picking

I just want to be very upfront when I show you these pictures. They look like we were all happy, but behind the pictures is a whole different story.  I'm lucky I even snapped these. Lets just start by it was way colder than anticipated and took much more time than we thought.  Noah wanted nothing to do with walking in between the trees and just wanted to have a snack and go home.  Finally we bribed him to walk with us to "look for other people".  He's so insistent on playing with new people and saying hi that every time we heard someone else in the area he ran towards them.  We followed him around hoping to find a good tree.  By the time we found the tree Noah had enough and sat in the tree sled while we cut the tree down.  Lesson learned for next time.  Bring snacks, leave earlier, dress much warmer.

By the way, the tree we got was pretty amazing.

Setting it up was way more fun.  Noah was a great helper.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Last Minute Thanksgiving Meal Menu & Prep Schedule

Do you have your turkey and haven't given a thought to what you're making for the rest of Thanksgiving dinner?  Lucky for you, I spent a couple hours scouring the internet for the best, easiest and yummiest looking recipes and have it all ready for you in one place.


(OVEN -2.5-4hrs)  Turkey:  Cooks quicker than most and has awesome step by step pictures with tips on how to cook your turkey from beginning to end. 

(CROCK POT - 3.5hrs) Creamed Corn: Better than frozen corn warmed up, this is a creamy rich corn recipe.  You can do it in your crock pot and lets you have more room on the stove.  Plus, crock pot recipes are always so easy.  Just put your ingredients in and go work on something else.

(OVEN - 40-45mins)  Stuffing:  This is a do ahead recipe.  Make it the day before and all you have to do it put it in the over after you pull your turkey out while it's resting. Made fresh with no boxed ingredients.

(STOVE - 30mins) Mashed Potatoes:  I don't have a recipe for these because they are so easy.  Put all your potatoes weather it be sweet, white, maybe even some frozen cauliflower into a pan  with water and cook until the potatoes are all cooked through.  Drain water keeping some left over for mixing with the potatoes.  Add lots of butter cream and left over water along with salt and pepper.  Mash and enjoy.

(STOVE - 25mins) Garlic Green Beans: Another super quick fresh dish unlike the original green bean casserole. Less things in the oven makes for a faster meal.

(STOVE - 10 mins) Turkey Broth - quick and easy and you can make it while you wait for the turkey to rest.


TURKEY - Anywhere 4-6 hrs before dinner depending on cooking time.
Turkey should be defrosted and room temperature early morning. Prep turkey first, this should take about 20 minutes.  You can even do it the night before and put it in the fridge, just take it out about an hour before you plan on putting it in the oven to come to room temp.
CREAMED CORN - about 4hrs before dinner
Prep is super easy. Open items and dump in and then just wait.
MASHED POTATOES - 1.5 hrs before dinner
STUFFING -  if prep night before 40-45 min before dinner or about 1.5 hrs before dinner in not prepped
GREEN BEANS - Prep after cream corn, start cooking 25 mins before dinner.
TURKEY BROTH - Start about 10-15 minutes after turkey comes out 

And there you go.  No planning for you.  No worries if you haven't given a thought to Thanksgiving dinner because I did it for you.  All you need to do is pick up your groceries (except the turkey, that's a do ahead) and start cooking! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Cheese Souffle Recipe

A souffle has been on my list of must try recipes for a long time. I love the dessert souffles and I still really want to make one but what I really needed was a new good dinner recipe, so we made it savory instead. Souffles are so perfect when you have a bare fridge because the base is all common pantry ingredients and you can put whatever add ins you want in, making them perfect for using up leftovers. For my left over add ins we had frozen peas, bacon bits and onion.  There are endless options; bacon chicken, cheese and broccoli & pulled pork and bbq sauce just to name a couple.

This recipe can be made in individual ramekins or one large one.  You can either use a one and a half quart ramekin or about 6-7 mini ones depending on how many add ins are in the base batter.

2 T parmesan Cheese
1 C milk
2.5 T unsalted Butter
3 T butter
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t salt
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1C of your favorite shredded cheese
About 1-1.5 of left over items
(I used peas, bacon bits and extra parmesan cheese)

1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter the ramekins and dust with parmesan cheese. On the bottom as well as on the sides so the parmesan cheese sticks to all sides of the ramekins.

2. Warm milk in a pan over medium heat mixing often so the milk doesn't burn. In a larger sauce pan melt the rest of the butter. Add flour to the butter and mix.  Wait about two to three minutes until mixture bubbles and the flour loses the raw taste.

3. Remove from heat and slowly add the warm milk while mixing until it becomes thick.   Add paprika and salt. Add egg yolks one at a time while mixing.  Let cool slightly.  At this point you could transfer the mixture and put in the freezer to cool down faster while you get the other part ready.

4. Using a mixer, mix the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Mix in your cheese with a spatula being careful not to deflate the egg whites.

5. Slowly add the egg whites to the egg yoke mixture with a spatula.  Add your mix ins.

6. Divide evenly in your ramekins.  Be careful not to overfill. If needed use extra ramekins. Place in the oven and immediately lower temperature to 375 degrees. Cook for about 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown and only slightly jiggly in the center.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sunset Walks with Noah

I'm really loving these long walks with Noah.  He gets to burn some energy and I get to snap some pictures in the pretty sun.  It's a bummer it gets so dark at night, but for us, it's just before dinner time so it's perfect for our afternoon walks.  We've really been enjoying heading down to the mulch nursery.  There are so many trucks and dirt and rocks everywhere.  Perfect for Noah to run around after everyone goes home to the day.

Of course, Noah wanted nothing to do with taking pictures, but we made it work.  We couldn't resist the awesome sunset.
By the time the sun was almost down Noah was pretty tired and ready to go home.  It's tough walking around with those little legs.  I had to carry him home half way back.  I'll take the snuggles though.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Snapshots of our Week

Last week we did our final landscaping project of the year now that it's supposed to get super cold. We still have some work to do like adding a border and planting a final tree but we did most of the hard work already. We planted some roses and some tall grass up front by our driveway, and while Jeff and I took turns shoveling a million pounds of dirt and carrying them to the front, Noah helped up stomp down the pile and dig holes for the plants. He even asked to help, went in the garage to get his own bucket and filled it up with dirt to dump on the pile.  What a nice day though it was to get some work done outside.

And while Jeff went back to work, Noah and I spent the last warm day of the season out for a walk exploring our neighborhood.  We found a mulch and dirt nursery with lots of trucks, so after they all went home for the day we wondered in and took pictures with all the different trucks. Every time, I would call out the names of the trucks and I don't know them all that well but Noah is very proficient so he would say, "no mama, that's a ..." He's already smarter than me.

We woke up this morning to a frosty lawn and lots of fog over the lake.  It was so pretty so I went outside to take a picture but reality hit.  It's gonna be winter out and its already really cold.   We strapped on our hats and winter coats and headed outside for some playtime.  And while I was freezing all while running around, Noah couldn't stand to keep his coat on as it's all too hot as he ripped it off and demanded to play outside in short sleeves in forty degree weather. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Weekend with Noah

This weekend to us was much like any other weekend.  One of us parents working and the other at home with Noah.  Since I was home with Noah and not super into Halloween we didn't really have any special plans. Grandma and Grandpa came down for the day so we hung out and played with Noah and at night we went to the mall and out to dinner.  Noah insisted it was a date but I had to explain that if four people go out together then we would have to call it a double date.  "dabble date?!"

Grandma brought some new toys to play so we made lots of forts in the basement.  Noah decided to take out all his "baebees" out of his room for the weekend so they camped out in the living room and the stair landing most of the weekend while Noah lined them up carefully and demanded we take "pitures".  If you don't follow me on Instagram, you can do that here at @ccristinat I got a pretty funny video of Noah knocking down the towers we made with grandmas new toys.

And in true toddler fashion, on Saturday, Noah refused to wear any other color than red and ended up with the weirdest outfit ever...and I'm sure this is just the beginning.  He also wouldn't stop wearing his glasses but I didn't mind because they are the cutest ever.

We ended out weekend enjoying the nice fifty degree weather, going on a walk and enjoying the sunset.  Noah wasn't all that impressed.  He was just worried about the geese and the swans making sure they didn't come on our beach.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pumpkin Piking & Apple Eating

I know we still have two weeks until Halloween but with our busy schedule I'm very proud of ourselves for already making it out for some pumpkins.  Noah was pretty excited to go pick them out, that is until we got them and wanted nothing to do with them.  I had to bribe him with promises of chocolate chips to get any pictures.  He was pretty content though picking out apples and sitting in the cart so Jeff and I picked out the pumpkins and he hung out eating. Typical.

Next on our list; pumpkin carving.  
Who wants to take bets on how long I'll keep finding pumpkin seeds around the house. Christmas?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Favorites

I've been searching for a while now for some casual tennis shoes to wear to work.  I don't need to dress up and I like to be as comfortable as possible but I also like to look presentable in my loose "uniform".  I'm not a huge fan of the traditional Toms, I never got into them and thought they were kind of weird. Somehow though I ended up on their website and noticed they had some really cool shoes that were not the traditional Toms.  I eventually decided to get these and they are so perfect and comfortable. Some other favorites were these Nepal Boots , these cute booties (who knew they had heels!), and these simple flats that come in so many colors.   They look really good quality and I've already added some on my Christmas list.

Jasmine, from Organic Skin Media contacted me to try some new products from their Lady Soma collections and I went with a couple of different products, but the one that I loved the most was the 'Restore & Condition' set.  Last time I went to my hair dresser she used a clarifying shampoo by Pureology that I loved.  It left my hair feeling so clean and I've been looking for something similar since then.  I've been using Pantene for years now and as much as I love it, it just doesn't do what a clarifying shampoo would.  This Lady Soma shampoo left my hair just as clean as the way more expensive Pureology.  I would definitely recommend.

Last weekend Noah and I made some home made pasta for dinner.  Home made is so different from the stuff you buy at the store and I can only imagine how much better for you.  It's just flour and eggs so it can't be that bad for you, right?  This pasta tastes amazing and although it kind of takes some effort to make, the end result is all that matters.  We used a basic pasta recipe but I later found this sun-dried tomato recipe and this prosciutto lemon pasta that will be next on our to-cook list.

As much as I love fall weather, I don't really decorate the house much for the season but I'm super excited to get the house decorated for Christmas this year.   We plan on having a real tree and maybe even more than one so I have lots of thinking to do about what I want to do.  I love the idea of having the tree in a basket and the more pictures I see the more I love it.  This one is so perfect for our house; slightly white washed. It also doesn't hurt there's a little piggy under the tree.  For my next diy project though I'm looking at this simple wreath that would look so good in the kitchen.

Finally, one quick video to end your week.  I cried like a little baby.  

Happy Weekend!