Sunday, November 5, 2017

Zuppa Toscana Soup Recipe (Copycat Olive Garden)

Now that the weather is changing (we had snow today), we are reverting back to Soup Sunday's at our house. Today I made a copycat recipe from Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana.  So delicious and warms you from the inside out!

Spicy crumbled bacon with potato in rich creamy broth and spinach topped with bacon! YUM!


  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 pound spicy sausage (I use Jimmy Deans)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cups organic chicken stock
  • 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups baby spinach or kale
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
  2. Add Italian sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 12 minutes.
  4. Stir in sausage and spinach until spinach begins to wilt, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in heavy cream until heated through, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with bacon.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Rustic Bread and Rich Creamy Artichoke Dip!

Rustic Bread grilled with olive oil and sea salt and topped with rich creamy artichoke dip! You'll be the hit of the holiday or the big game with this amazing rustic appetizer. You can even make it ahead the day before!

Rustic Bread Recipe:
1 teaspoon star active dry yeast
2 teaspoons of salt
3 cups of flour
1.5 cups of warm water

In a large bowl, whisk some flour, salt and yeast until well mixed. Pour in warm water (about 110 to 115 degrees F, or just slightly warmer than lukewarm) and use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until it forms a wet, sticky and shaggy dough. That’s it! No kneading, no nothing. Just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for at least 8 hours (but no more than around 18 hours)

Preheat covered Dutch oven in 450 degree oven. With floured hands remove dough from bowl turn under into a ball.  I use parchment paper to line the cast iron and place my dough in for easy clean up.  Bake for 30 minutes with the top on, remove top for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan and cool on the counter.

Artichoke Dip:
1 cup of mayonaise
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 can of artichoke hearts
1 teaspoon of minced g

Chop artichoke hearts and mix with mayonnaise, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 min at 375 degrees.

To Serve:

Slice the bread and drizzle olive oil on it.  Place in a skillet on Medium heat and toast the bread, drizzling olive oil on each side.  When toasted sprinkle lightly with sea-salt.  Cut into wedges and serve with dip.

The bread and dip can be made the day before.  Mix the dip and place in the refrigerator and heat when its time for the party.  The bread can also be made the day before, then slice and grill just prior to serving.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fantastic Gift Idea for a Guy!

My husband and I rarely have time for a date.  When we get a free hour we like to visit wineries or breweries and do some tasting together!

I had this US Beer Cap Wall Display from Personal Creations engraved with an adventurous theme and a play on our last name, to keep our bottle caps for a fun keepsake.

I went out to the garage to build and stain this frame adding a chalkboard backing so we could write fun notes to remember our dates together. I am absolutely in love with it and so excited to show my husband! 
It will go great in that home office that I have yet to even start!!

The perfect gift for any beer lover and so simple to make!

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

First Overnight Trip as a Family of FOUR!

We took our first overnight trip with two kids recently. I was filled with anxiety but determined to make the best of it. We actually had a REALLY good time. We went to The Tacoma
s Children's Museum in Tacoma, WA that was outstanding! Then the next day we visited Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. The kids slept well, we got two queen beds and my husband and I each slept with a kid! My daughter was SO confused as to WHY we are all sleeping in the same room!

Liam checking out the city first thing in the morning

Budgie birds on a stick

What's better then jumping on hotel beds?

They really did such a good job that we are taking them for an overnight camping trip this weekend. I have LOST my mind...

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Introducing Our New Little Addition!

My husband just about fell over when I told him on Father's Day that even though we thought we were done, we are in fact, adding one more to the family. Let's just say he may have been a little a hell of a lot relieved when he found out THIS was the new addition!

The kids are THRILLED with the new "baby".  His name is Charles Barkley (husband totally named him) and he has a successful Instagram account HERE that you can see many more adorable photos. Trust me, if you want to smile, follow his account!

He's actually a pretty successful dog model and is the face of several companies already... I mean how can you not!!!??

He is just the sweetest little pup in the world and even though I MUST be outta my MIND to think I can handle one more thing.... I did it anyway.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Motherhood is Tough + a Luxury Watch Giveaway!

No one could ever have prepared me for how tough it is being a mother.  For the sleepless nights of worrying, the anxiety of every decision, the heartbreak of watching your baby sick with a fever. The amount of research that goes into every decision from which toy or bike to get them to what school or daycare would be best for them.  The antics of a boy (no matter the age) that give you gray hair every other minute of the day.  Or the emotional cycles of a 3 and 4 year old girl that I can only assume is a learning experiment for puberty or their first heartbreak.

And you know what else no one could have prepared me for?  The love.  The absolute heart wrenching, hurricane force love that you feel for them.  The feeling of being wrapped so tightly in their arms for that good morning greeting, the laughter of playing hide and seek, the giggles of giving them a bath and jumping on the bed naked afterward, the sleepy murmurs of love spoken as they finally drift off to sleep.

Time is something that we never seem to have enough of.
The days are long but the years are short. 
That quote sure meant a whole lot more the day I became a mother!

I've partnered once again with JORD watches to give away a beautiful watch for Mothers Day to one of my readers. A reminder that time moves so quickly.  Enjoy every second of it. Enter to win HERE and remember that EVERYONE gets a $25 gift certificate just for entering. Enter by 5/14/17!  (All gift codes will expire 7/31/17)

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Check out the women's watches here and you might as well get a jump on father's day and see the men's watches here. My husband is a financial planner and LOVES his watch because its so lightweight that he doesn't even know he's wearing it and let's face it, its a GORGEOUS conversation piece. Shipping is REALLY fast and they even offer FREE engraving!

Luxury Wooden Watch

Monday, May 1, 2017

Dry Falls in Washington State

This is called Dry Falls. It was once the largest waterfall in the world. It was fives times wider then Niagara and ten times the flow of all the current rivers in the world combined!! It is an awesome site to see if you are ever in Washington state!

After we visited dry falls we went on to see Lenore caves. This is where I truly learned to never follow my husband when we are hiking. The first time we went hiking with our daughter as a baby, we went to Mt Rainier. My husband told me to take a trail that was straight up. We saw NO ONE on this trail and about half way I realized we were on a game trail that went over the mountain instead of around. I could have killed him!

Fast forward to our first hike since our son has been born. I let him lead coming back from the caves. My feet were so unstable so I just continued to look at the ground. All of a sudden I realize we are on a ten inch ledge of river rock with a sheer drop off. At that moment my son starts swinging in the backpack and I have a complete panic attack. I manage to get back but I was shaking so bad and had a hard time stabilizing my breathing at which point I told my husband he is NEVER leading again!

This is the parking lot.  We made it back in one piece!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Easter Dessert with the BEST Butter Cream Frosting Recipe Ever!

Are you looking for an easy dessert for Easter?  Well I have the perfect cupcake and buttercream frosting recipe for you.  And because I'm a busy mom, I used a box mix for the cupcakes (Sssshhh, don't tell on me!)


The best buttercream frosting EVER:

2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 teaspoon of milk
3.5 cups of powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt

Cream together for 3 to 5 minutes until fluffy.

I've been a bit busy lately and haven't been posting much. I've really been trying to improve on my photography and work every day to take pictures and get better.  Here is what I was up to this week.

And if you have any tips on a teething baby with 2 molars coming in that screams ALOT, I'm all ears.

Hugs and Kisses

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

DIY Valentines Hair Ties

I've been working on my daughter's dance school's Valentines this week.  I created a little card and then made hair ties to add to them.  If you don't know about these hair ties, you are missing out!!  If you have purchased them in a store then I have some big news for you.  You can make them for pennies.  Just buy the elastic bands and make them yourself.  SO incredibly easy and so cheap!


Here is the link for my printable
so you can make your own at home! Just print them on heavy cardstock. 

You'll want to buy Fold Over Elastic at JoAnn's, Amazon or Etsy.  You buy it for a yard for under $3!!  Measure 8-9 inches, fold in half and tie the end. (I measure about 7 inches for little girls hair.) DONE. Valentine Hair Tie Cards.  I told you it was easy!

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Is There Such a Thing as Perfect Timing?

At the end of this post is a JORD Wood Watch Giveaway! Don't miss it, everyone is a winner!

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I was married when I was 25 years old. It was one of those relationships that I knew something wasn't quite right. He would have mood swings and isolate himself, not really communicating at all. Three years into the marriage I went to church one Sunday and there was a guest speaker. After the service he began to pray over people and minister to them. My dad pushed me forward and I started to weep. I was desperate and I was hungry to hear from the Lord. You know what happens when you are desperate? God shows up.

The speaker walked by and stopped in front of me. He told me to stop my crying that God had a plan. I was going to have 3 beautiful children and I was going to be so happy that I wouldn't be able to contain myself. Well I stopped crying! And I turned to my dad and said... Well, I think he delivered that message to the wrong person. You see, I had no intention of ever having children with my husband. When I realized the issues he had, I went into mourning. I mourned the fact that I would never be a mother, I would never bring a child into that destruction. I never gave up hope, but I mourned it none the less.

7 years later. 7 years. Seems like a really long time doesn't it? We had just celebrated our 10 year anniversary. My husband was addicted to video games and we hardly ever spoke. He was addicted to many other things during the course of our marriage but the final thing was the games. He would spend at least 20 hours a day playing, never sleeping at night, never taking a shower and rarely getting out of his clothes. He would call in sick to work to play. One night he flew into a rage and destroyed our house. He put holes in the walls, broke the tile, every glass he could find, even broke the kitchen sink. If you've ever dealt with video game addiction, it is extremely intense. Science shows that your brain looks the same as if you were on heroin. You're willing to lose everything to play one more raid. He moved out and we were in counseling. I was still hanging on to my marriage and I had the best counselor. She knew this relationship was not good for me. She asked me, what will it take for you to leave? I told her that I couldn't leave, I had made a promise and I couldn't break it. She said why don't we pray about that. She asked God to help make the decision for me. My husband walked in the door, sat down in the counseling office and told me he wanted a divorce. He didn't want to have to choose between the video games and our marriage, so he chose the games. Through my complete anguish, I thanked God that I did not have to live with that guilt that the decision was made for me and I could begin to heal.

I took a year and really focused on making myself happy and I did. I felt so happy that I really did not see myself getting married again. I didn't date anyone. I met my husband as friends. We did things in groups of people as friends. Neither one of us was looking for a relationship beyond friendship. I suppose God had other plans...

One day he asked me if I would consider having children. I told him about the Pastor who had spoken over me. Fast forward another year and we were leaving on the plane to our destination wedding. Would you believe who was a passenger on our plane? The Pastor that spoke over me 10 years before. He knew my husband and his family. I could not believe it!

We were married and conceived our daughter on our wedding night. 3 years later we had our son on our Anniversary. My family started and was completed on the same day.  You see, when God gives a miracle... he leaves no doubt. We have our family and its beautiful. (I wasn't going to add this but I figured someone may notice. We did end up conceiving 3 beautiful children but we lost one of them. I have no doubt I will hold my baby again one day).

God's timing isn't always our timing.  But if you walk with him, he is always faithful to give you what he promised you.

I'm giving my husband this watch on the 6th year Anniversary of the day he walked into my life as a reminder that God's timing is indeed PERFECT.

JORD Conway Wood Watch Giveaway Valentines Gift for Him

I've teamed up with Jord Wood Watches to offer YOU an exclusive giveaway.  Enter here to win a $100 gift code from JORD Wood Watches! What's even better?  EVERYONE is a winner with a $25 dollar off code!!  These one of a kind luxury wood watches are amazing.  They come beautifully gift boxed and they have watches for him and for her so make sure to check them out! They make a wonderful Valentines gift! (The contest will close 2/5 at 11:59pm. Both the $100 and the $25 codes will expire on 4/30/2017.)  

Luxury Wooden Watch

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Italian Stuffed Mushroom Recipe

Appetizer Italian Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms Elegant

I made this recipe recently and just threw together some items that I had in the fridge. As my dad (who was visiting) said, its a keeper!  The best stuffed mushrooms you will ever make!  And it's so quick and easy.


  • White button mushrooms 24 oz
  • 1/2 a pound of hot Italian sausage like Jimmy Dean
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz of cream cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup of diced onions (minced dried onions work too)
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic

Wipe your mushrooms with a damp cloth and remove the stem by rocking it back and forth so it comes out clean and makes a bowl!
Brown your sausage and drain.
Add onions and garlic to the pan until translucent
Mix your cream cheese and egg yolk with the parmesean cheese, then add the cooked sausage and mix thoroughly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Smear a spoon full onto the mushroom.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes!

These Italian sausage stuffed mushrooms have flavor that explode in your mouth, so good!

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