Friday, February 28, 2014

Food Friday: 5 Super Easy & Quick Dinner Ideas

I am always looking for dinner ideas that are quick and easy for those days (most days!) when I don't have a ton of time to spend in the kitchen. Over the years, these have become some of my favorite dinners to whip up in a hurry. 

Apple Chicken Sausage with Grilled Bell Peppers

This is probably the easiest. I mean it. So easy. And so good. It takes one pan and three ingredients (plus any condiments you like). 

Apple chicken sausage (I like Trader Joe's Chicken Sweet Apple Sausages)
Hot dog buns (I like Trader Joe's Multi grain Rolls that come in a four pack)
Red bell pepper

Slice bell peppers. Add a tiny bit of oil or Pam to your pan. Grill peppers until they are as soft as you like. 
Meanwhile, cut sausages in half lengthwise. Once peppers are done, transfer them to a plate and use the same pan to cook the sausages. (They're already cooked, so you really just need to heat them and brown them a little on both sides).
Place two sausage links on a bun, topped with grilled bell peppers and any condiments (I like mine plain with just ketchup).
We usually eat this with a side of fruit or salad.


Shrimp Pasta with Pesto

This one is also so easy, especially if you use store-bought pesto (or any leftover homemade pesto). Plus, shrimp cooks super fast, so boiling the water and cooking the pasta is what takes the longest. This is also one that you can make as much or as little as you like, so I won't include ingredient measurements. 

Shrimp, deviegned and tail off 
Garlic, minced (I use two cloves since we love garlic)
Extra virgin olive oil or butter
Already-made pesto (if you want to make fresh pesto, I love Giada De Laurentiis' pesto in this recipe, but with about half the amount of olive oil)
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally until pasta is al dente. 
While pasta cooks, add a splash or olive oil or about a tablespoon of butter to a pan, add garlic and cook for about a minute. Add shrimp and cook until the shrimp turns pink. 
Once pasta is done, add it to a large bowl. Add the shrimp and stir. Stir in as much pesto as you like, until it covers the shrimp and pasta evenly. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.
(This would also work with chicken) 

Turkey Burgers

Turkey burgers photo bombed by a hungry Alex and Raegan! :)
These burgers are one of my favorites to make. The combo of parsley, red onion and feta cheese is so good in a burger. Plus, it's a little healthier with the ground turkey. A bonus is that this is one of the very few ways we can get Raegan to eat meat! 

1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley,
1/4 cup feta cheese 
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon bread crumbs
Hamburger buns
Burger toppings 

Mix ground turkey with all ingredients through pepper. Form into burger patties. Place patties onto greased pan and cook until the turkey is no longer pink and cooked thoroughly. 
Place a patty (or two) on a bun and top with your favorite veggies and condiments. I like to top my burger with a little mayo, lettuce, tomato and ketchup. 


This is probably on every one's list of quick go-to meals! It's so easy to customize tacos based on what you like or what you have on hand. Here's how we make ours:

1 pound ground turkey
Taco seasoning (I make a big batch of this and use a few spoonfuls)
Water, about 1/2 cup (more or less depending on how much seasoning you like)
Extra sharp cheddar cheese
Sour Cream
Avocado slices

Cook ground turkey until the meat is no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks. Once it's thoroughly cooked, add taco seasoning and water and let it simmer until most water has evaporated. 
Meanwhile, slice veggies and toppings you like, we use lettuce, tomato, cheese, avocado slices, salsa and sour cream.   

Angel hair Pasta with Basil and Feta Cheese

This is a cold pasta salad that is so yummy and so quick. Again, the hardest part is cooking the pasta. The flavors of the red wine vinegar with the feta cheese and tomato is really good.

One Roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup basil, julienned
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
One garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Angel hair pasta (spaghetti also works just as well)

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally until pasta is al dente. 
Meanwhile, add the rest of ingredients into a large bowl and stir until mixed. 
When pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water, then add to the bowl with the tomato mixture. Stir and serve.  

There you go, five super easy and quick dinner ideas! If you have some go-to quick & easy dinners, please share them with us! Both Lindsey and I are always looking for more to try! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Mini House Tour // A Few Favorite Areas of Our Home

Yesterday the house was clean and I had a few minutes to light a candle, read a magazine and relax on the couch with a blanket while Raegan was with her grandma for the day. It was amazing! When the house is clean and toys are put away, I really love our home. In the last six months we have really turned this house into a home and both Alex and I really love how it's looking and feeling. 

I haven't shared photos of our living room since this post before we put the hardwood floors in and I'm not ready to share the whole room just yet (!) (we're still waiting on some art pieces and I'll be making some pillows) but here are some areas of the house that currently make me smile, especially when they're clean, until Hurricane Raegan comes through. ;)

This is Raegan's creative area with her Ikea chalkboard table and some of her artwork on display. We have a little Picasso on our hands! ;)

Our (huge) cat being lazy on our new Turkish kilim rug.

I am in love with these monkey prints. They're so fun!

A desk my grandpa made and guitars on the wall. :)

A bunch of my favorite cookbooks.

 Our master bedroom. I am loving the colors and patterns going on in here. I can't wait to work on this room. Plus there's just something about a made bed. I think I'm more productive on mornings when I make the bed!

 Hope you liked this mini tour of our house. I will be sharing more soon!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Favorite Board Books

Both Raegan and Jena love books (I'm sure Jayden will too in a few months!) and Lindsey & I especially like board books since it's pretty impossible for them to tear the pages out. They're the perfect size to stuff in your diaper bag for an emergency distraction, and most are just the right length to (most of the time) keep our girls' tiny attention spans until the end.

Raegan's board book collection keeps growing & growing, but she still has her go-to favorites that she always pulls out of the bookshelf and brings to us. 

Here are a few of our favorites:

Haiku Baby is one I bought on a whim off Amazon and Raegan loves it. There's a tiny bird on each page that she points out and I love that it gives her an intro to seasons and weather. 

Alice in Wonderland is a BabyLit book that we love! It tells the story mostly through it's pretty illustrations and one word at a time. It's fun because then you can tell the story in your own words. The Cinderella board book is the same concept, with few words telling the classic fairy tale. 

The Sesame Street Beginnings books where a gift from my aunt and immediately Raegan loved them. Plus they're educational and I think really helped Raegan learn some of her body parts, like nose and fingers super fast.

You Are My Cupcake was one of the first books I bought Raegan. It's a sweet book with cute little nicknames for your little one. This is always Jena's go-to book when she's at our house. She likes to pretend to pick off the sprinkles and put them in her mouth! Now she happily has her own copy at home! :)
Both Lindsey & I have some of the Sandra Boynton board books. They're funny and teach the kiddos something. Win win. 

Goodnight Moon is a classic that I'm sure many of you have. It has also become a favorite of Raegan's, she hands it to me and says "nigh" (night). So cute! She's also obsessed with kitties so she points out the kitties every time. 

My First Colors is one of Jena's favorites and it's a super helpful book to help kiddos learn colors. Each page shows small photos of items, all the same color. 

Wynken Blynken And Nod is one neither Lindsey or I had heard of, but one of Lindsey's friends said it was a favorite. And now it's also one of Jena's favorites!

What are some of your favorite board books?
We also shared some of our favorite children's books growing up. You can check them out here

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Baby Bump: 13 Weeks with Baby #2

So I have decided to jump on this baby bump post bandwagon and share my cravings, symptoms & all the fun things that come along with being pregnant! ;) I took weekly bump photos when I was pregnant with Raegan, so I plan on continuing again with this baby. I think it will also be fun to compare my bumps!

Baby #2 is due in early September and the two kiddos will be about 22 months apart. With Ragean, we didn’t find out the sex, so we were completely surprised when I gave birth to a little girl, since all bets were on a boy. We had boy and girl names picked out & I decorated the nursery in a gender neutral modern safari theme. We will find out the sex this time & I am already so anxious to find out if Raegan will have a little sister or brother!

13 weeks & craving Cheetos!

How far along: 13 weeks 
Baby’s estimated arrival: Early September, in about 27 weeks!
Wearing: My regular clothes still fit, although I’ve been wearing mostly looser shirts since I’m at the phase where people probably wonder if I’m pregnant or if I’ve just scarfed down too many cookies. My little bump is most likely a combination of both right now ;)
Craving: Special K cereal, strawberries and really healthy things like Doritos & Cheetos, chocolate chip pancakes and pad Thai
Symptoms: Feeling pretty good! The first few weeks I found out I was pregnant, I was exhausted and going to bed around 8:30! I’m happy to have some energy back & even happier that I have yet to have any nausea (knock on wood!). I have been having some congestion at night, which has been the worst part of this pregnancy so far.
Favorite moment: We got to see baby and hear the heartbeat a couple weeks ago, which is always awesome and reassuring. He/she was super wiggly and gave us a little wave! I think he/she was woken up by big sister’s screams when the nurse started touching my belly. We have a protective little monkey on our hands! ;)
Belly button: In!
Wedding ring: On!
How is dad feeling? Alex is super excited about baby #2 but I don’t think it has officially hit him yet that we’re about seven months away from meeting this little person. He was the same way with R and I think once he starts feeling baby kicks, he’ll get even more excited!

It's hard to see in this photo, but I feel like I'm showing way more than I did with Raegan. The photo on the left is me at 15 weeks with Raegan (we didn't start taking weekly bump photos until then). 

I may not post weekly bump updates on here, but will on Instagram if you want to follow along!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Food Friday: Caprese Pizza

One of my all time favorite pizza recipes is this Caprese Pizza. It's light yet filling and is really easy to make!


Here's What You Need:

1 Boboli Thin Crust Pizza
3 roma tomatoes
grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 large cloves of garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place thawed pizza crust on a baking sheet. Slice tomatoes and place on top of the crust. Cover with as much or as little cheese as you want. I usually use pre-grated mozzarella to save time. Bake pizza until cheese is melted, usually 8-10 minutes. While the pizza is baking, julienne the basil and set aside. In a small bowl mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and minced garlic together with a spoon. When the pizza is done, sprinkle the basil over the cheese and spoon oil mixture evenly over the top. Cut and enjoy!

I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine. Let my know what you think!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

10 Spring Home Decor Accessories Under $30

Even though it doesn't feel like spring just yet, it's not too early to bring some spring decor into your home! Lindsey & I searched around for some fun spring-like accessories, and the best part is that everything is under $30! It is possible to switch around your decor every once in a while even on a budget. 

We didn't plan for all of the items to coordinate, but don't they all look great together? I would snatch up all of these in a heartbeat if I could! My favorites are #3 — a rug from Urban Outfitters that I've been eyeballing for a while now, #2 — cute little birds from West Elm, and #7 — a mint throw from Land's End (did you know they sell home decor?!)

Here's a closer look at everything:

[via Cost Plus World Market]
1. Marie Kitchen Towel from Cost Plus World Market // $5.99 // A new kitchen towel is a really inexpensive way to switch things up in your kitchen. Plus it's useful and cute!

[via West Elm]
2. Seedpod Birds from West Elm (flamingo & guinea hen shown) // $9 // Lindsey found these little guys, just a few inches tall, that would be so fun on a shelf, near indoor plants or in a shadow box on the wall. There are four other birds as well including an ostrich and stork.

[via Urban Outfitters]
3. Right Angles Woven Rug from Urban Outfitters // $24 // You might see this rug pop up in photos of my home very soon! I've been thinking of buying this for our entryway to add some color to our home. This would also work in a kitchen or near a back door. 

[via Target]
4. Threshold Peony Pillow in purple from Target // $18.74 // Switching out pillows on your couch, chairs and floor pillows is one of my favorite ways to spruce up a space. Just be adding or swapping out a couple pillows can make a huge different in a room. 

[via Target]
5. Threshold Wood Inlay Frame from Target // $11.99 // Frames are also an easy and inexpensive way to change out decor every once in a while. I like how neutral this one is, it would go with almost any decor style. 

[via Urban Outfitters]
6. Hartland Brooklyn Pineapple Card from Urban Outfitters // $5.25 // This greeting card would look fun framed and propped on a shelf or hung on a wall. Plus pineapples just scream vacation and warmer weather to me, so why not add it to your house?!

[via Land's End]
7. Woven Lattice Thrown in evermint from Land's End // $29.50 // This is the most expensive thing on our roundup, but I thought it was too good to pass up. I love the mint color, especially for springtime. A throw is also a fairly inexpensive way to add color and change to a room. Plus it also comes in handy when you have windows open, a cool breeze blowing in and could use a little warmth, or for cozying up while you enjoy a cocktail on the patio! ;)

[via Target]
8. Threshold Dot Decorative Pillow from Target // $18.74 // I really like the pink dots with the colored trim on these pillows. 
[via Anthropologie]
9. Mini Capri Blue Candle in volcano from Anthropologie // $12 // This is hands down my absolute favorite scented candle. It's a mix of citrus and tropical scents that makes me feel like I'm in Hawaii. For me, this is a splurge candle, but I love it. A little tip — if you have a Scentsy, you can scrape the extra wax that's left after the candle has burned down into your Scentsy & the smell fills the room! It's a great way to use that extra wax instead of tossing it out. 
[via West Elm]
10. Hive Vases, Wide, Short in mint from West Elm // $24 // Lindsey found these and I love the honeycomb pattern. Would be pretty filled with flowers or on its own on a shelf or table. 

Would you add any of these to your home? Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Random Loves: Our Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, but as we all know it can be time consuming! Here are some helpful gadgets that help me and Lauren in the kitchen.

Garlic Press: Lauren and I cook with a lot of garlic, so when my garlic press bit the dust I had to resort to the kitchen knife and a cutting board, which was fine, but time consuming. So when asked what I wanted for Christmas, my number one item was a garlic press! I have to admit that garlic minced with a knife does produce a stronger flavor, however when you are trying to get dinner on the table while the kids are in the next room screaming, time is of the essence, so this gadget is a must! If you want a stronger garlic flavor just use more garlic. I always use more garlic than the recipe calls for anyway! When you do look for a garlic press make sure it's not plastic. I have a Calphalon and I love it.

Mesh Strainer: There were times when I wished I had a mesh strainer, so when I decided to make this Merk's Coffee Cake for Jena's birthday party it was the perfect excuse to buy one. It's nothing special, but it comes in handy when you want to sift flour or strain small pasta or grains. Lauren uses hers mostly for rinsing quinoa.

Pan Scraper: By no means do I consider myself to be a germ freak, but growing up my mom used the kitchen sponge for EVERYTHING! And to say the least I became a little grossed out, so much so that she would chase me around with it and threaten (jokingly) to put it in my bed while I was sleeping! She loved messing with me! Anyways, a few years back while visiting my in-laws I noticed a flat brown thing near the sink, naturally I asked what the heck it was. When my mother-in-law, Lori, told me it was a pan scraper I thought it was the coolest thing ever. So when I found two of them in my stocking last Christmas I was super excited! I LOVE that I can scrape off left-over bits of food without having to muck up my dish brush or sponge. (One of my pet-peeves is when food gets stuck in the dish brush.) It also has different radiuses on each corner to accommodate different types of pots and pans. So if you have a bit of a "sponge-phobia" or just need a quicker way to get stuck-on food off (rather than soaking),  I would highly recommend a pan scraper!

Apple Slicer: All I have to say about this is, if you like apples or you have kids, this gadget is a must have. It saves time and is easy to use! Lauren and I both have one and we use it on a regular basis.

Cake Tester: Lauren registered for this silly little gadget when she got married and is so glad she did. Because she loves to bake, it definitely comes in handy. Now that I have a little more time to cook and bake I will be asking for this handy gadget next Christmas. Like many people I use a toothpick or a wooden skewer, which is a bit annoying, because if you have to keep testing, you end up going though quite a few of them.

Let us know what your favorite kitchen gadgets are!

Monday, February 17, 2014

5 Tips for Decorating Your Walls

One thing that can be hard when decorating your home is to figure out how to dress up your walls. If you have no idea where to even start, what you want, think you can’t afford a bunch of art or all of the above, hopefully these tips will be helpful! These tips always come in handy for me! :)

Personal Photos

This is probably the obvious choice when people start thinking about wall decor, but you can get creative on how you frame them, with different size or color frames, photo spacing and matting. 

One of my favorite things in our house is our gallery wall with photos from our wedding, goofy photos with Raegan and vacation photos. It's fun to look at and remember those fun times!

Here are a couple more ideas on how to style a gallery wall:
[via decorpad]
[via Pinterest]

Personal & Meaningful

Choose something meaningful & fun. I have plans for a collage of vintage monkey prints in our house. Monkeys are special to us, Raegan's nickname is monkey, and who doesn’t love monkeys?! I also have a poem from my mom framed, which I love. 

Here are a couple more ideas, like using a favorite recipe or vintage photos and art:

Love the idea of a framed family recipe in the kitchen [via sweetwaterscrapbook's etsy shop]
[via J.E.N.]

Get Creative

Use things that aren’t typically thought of as “art.” If you are an avid bike rider, hang up one of your bikes. In our house, we have Alex’s guitars hung on the wall. You can also use floating shelves to showcase some of your favorite items & books. 

Here are a few more creative ideas, like hanging surfboards, baskets or your favorite patterned fabric: 

Surf board used as art [Via]
Baskets as art [via]

framed fabric [via Better Homes & Gardens]

Horizontal mirrors [via Houzz]

Eye Catching

We have a red Love print by Made By Girl that is something that caught my eye a couple years ago. I love that it is simple, adds a pop of color to the wall & is fun. If a piece of art catches your eye, consider buying it. Art is something that doesn’t necessarily have to coordinate with your decor, but it’s easy to make it look like it belongs. Bring in a pillow or blanket with some of the same colors in your art to tie it all together. 

[art via September Wren Etsy shop]

Make Something

My favorite piece of art in our house is a finger painting made by Raegan when she was about 6 months old. It hangs in our entryway & is a fun pop of color. Plus we get a ton of comments on it. Here’s how we made ours

Here are a couple other DIY art projects for your walls:

Finger painting [via Be Up & Doing blog]
DIY chevron art [via House Tweaking]

Do you have any other tips for choosing your wall decor?