Thursday, October 23, 2014

WE EAT | {Crock Pot} BBQ Chicken & Cheddar Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

One of my first ever ever ever recipes to be published was one similar to this (HERE).. except the pregnant belly I was toting didn't allow for energy to make a trip to the store to pick up the remaining ingredients I lacked.   

I was 82 weeks pregnant with Parker and Jolie, in a state of disgust over poultry, and as an attempt to 'mix it up' and avoid cereal for dinner for the 11th time that week (because I did, in fact, eat 2-3 dinners a night..) AND of course, for the hubby's sake, I threw the three most simple ingredients I had on hand in the crock pot and figured they would taste semi-delicious.

I figured correct.  To be honest, I didn't miss the other ingredients my original recipe called for- the tang of the tender slow cooked chicken, paired with the sweetness of baked sweet potatoes and cheddar cheese was JUST as delicious and has become my go-to prep for BBQ Chicken ANYthing.   

BBQ Chicken Cheddar Stuffed Sweet Potatoes 
Serves 4
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 large breasts)
1 (16oz) bottle Zesty Italian salad dressing (I use Kraft)
1-2 cups BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's)
4 medium sweet potatoes, skins scrubbed clean 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 

Arrange the chicken breasts in the bottom of your crock pot.  Pour the Italian dressing and the BBQ evenly over top.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours, or until the chicken shreds easily with a fork.  
During the last hour of cooking the chicken, pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Rub the potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and prick them with the tines of a fork. Place them on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet and cook the potatoes for 45 to 60 minutes - until their skin is crispy and sticking one with a fork meets no resistance. (You can also wrap them in foil, but this 'steams' the potatoes and doesn't release the sweetness of the sweet potatoes as well as if they are baked without.   This method offers up deliciously crispy potato skins!  Totally your preference.)
Remove the chicken from the crock pot, and shred or chop.  With a sieve or fine mesh strainer (like this one), strain the cooking liquid into a large measuring cup or bowl.  Place the sauce and the chicken back into the warming crock pot until ready to serve. 
To serve: slice the baked sweet potatoes lengthwise, and gently push the side inward to 'plump' up the insides of the cooked potato.  Place 1/4 of the shredded BBQ chicken into the potato and immediately top with shredded cheddar (the heat of the chicken and potato will melt the cheese pretty quick). Drizzle with the strained BBQ sauce and serve immediately!  

I served these with Grainy Mustard Brussels Sprouts - my all time favorite way to cook Sprouts!    
These little fingers were pleased with dinner - and couldn't help herself to wait 3 more minutes to be served. All up in my frame while trying to capture this yummy meal. What you don't see is the mustard-y palms Miss Parker had from swiping a Brussels Sprout or two before I could get in a shot.  
For serving the little birds, I pulled the skins off the smallest potato and cubed it before sprinkling with cheese, and served the chicken on the side.  I figured that the stuffed potato would turn into a game really quickly at the dinner table, and I wanted them to eat.  Not play. 
We have been working on prayer before our meals, and hold hands together while we pray over dinner.  I cannot help myself but to glance up at these two while we are praying- their sweet sweet smiles and giggles are beyond precious.
'Thank you God for good food..'

Its amazing to me, looking back, on how far we've come with eating and using utensils.  
..but, often our hands are still the easiest.

Parker, use your fork.  Parker, don't touch your sister.  Parker, quit feeding the dog.  
EAT, PARKER.
everything is a game.  
everything.

chess, peease.  mo' chess? 
(cheese, please.  more cheese?)
So.. can anyone take a shot at guessing where she has learned to use her fork for combing rather than eating?
Every meal she does this, and every meal I am picking food out of her hair.


Once again, a crock pot winner in this house.  I love using my crock pot for this time of year - I'm not even sure what I would do without it.
It is by far my favorite kitchen tool EVER.
Three years ago, Jordan bought me this bright and shiny crock pot (HERE) and it is still like new.  Plus you can brown meat in it, so when you are able to remove a step in the 'clean-up' process, I am sold with no questions asked!

Whip up this meal over the weekend - you won't be disappointed AND you probably already have all the ingredients on hand.  
You are already winning.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

99 Faces And I Can't Choose One

My new favorite 'pose' to 'arrange' Parker and Jolie in is perfectly displayed here.  
BUT-  the fete to get them there is getting harder everyday. 

Parker: BYE!  (overtly waving her arm in the air and trotting through the yard towards the furthest corner away from me.
Me: PARKER - come here.  pleeeaaase.
Parker: nope!! (shaking her head as hard as she can)

The moment I come towards her she runs away faster and squeals in delight.
Half the time this is the game we play for about 11 minutes until I give up and let them run all banshee-esque through the yard.  
Jolie.  Sweet spirited and well-behaved Jolie will do whatever I ask about 94% of the time. 
She lays there and watches Parker in confusion, waiting patiently for Mom to hurry up and take the photo(s).
My neighbors probably think I've lost my mind.
Hey girls, if you lay down right here and I'll give you..
..we can watch..
..I'll take you.. 
 Mostly, it doesn't matter what I say.
On this day, I confess, there was a bit-o-bribery.  The bribe of all bribes.  At 22 months, candy always does the trick.  Well, until it doesn't.   
3 mini Starburst candies.
Please no judgement.
I web-beg of you.

These gleeful babes make my day.  
Wait.  Take that back.
My Every day.










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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beauty Favorites | The Lady

I get asked pretty often to share my beauty routine, and pretty often I get embarrassed to share because I really don't feel like there is much to it.  I don't use special anything on my face.  Grocery store quality is where its at for me.. and really all I have time for.  I DO however take pride in the products I use on my hair.  But I get the added bonus of being great friends with two ladies whom work in the 'hair care' field.  

If I do ever get up enough nerve to sit in front of a camera to record my hair do-ing skilllz, you'll be the first to know.

Until then, I will share my all time favorite hair products..along with a little extra to make your day full, and because I am ALWAYS on the search for new beauty products to try out, so this kind of post is right up my entertainment alley.  Hopefully yours, too!


|HAIR|
If you take just one thing away from this post, know that this stuff is incredible. I am a 'night shower' person, and spray this at the root of my hair after towel drying and then let it air dry.  This is for when I curl my hair the next morning.  If I am blow drying it straight, I douse my roots right before blow drying and it makes a huge huge difference in the volume and is not sticky at all whatsoever. No other volumizing product has ever come close to what I get when I use this.  Plus it doesn't leave my hair heavy. It's the best.  Just trust me.
Perks of having your bestest friends be so in tune to the 'hair world'.  KMS is a product I was introduced to by my hair dresser friend, Angela.  Guts and KMS is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Complimentary.  When I had lighter coloring in my hair, I used baby powder to absorb the oil in my 2 (or three..or four..) day old hair, but now that I've gone to the dark side, this has been amazing and not overly 'gunk-y' after a couple uses.  Plus, I use it to revamp all-day hair before an evening out to re-volumize my limp locks.  You wont be disappointed. 
It's a 10 Miracle Silk Smoothing Balm
The greatest of all great for taming those fly-aways.  I have had the same bottle for months and I'm not even close to running out.  I have really thick hair, and it doesn't take much of this balm to smooth the frizz.  I apply to my towel dried hair before I would use Guts 10 and follow the same steps for styling as I mentioned above.

Runner Up
Aquage Uplifting Foam
I learned about this product from Kate's blog, and really love it!  I use it when I can conveniently get my hands on it.  I often will use this in combination with the Guts 10..but also think it is perfectly effective for volume control alone.  I will say that it doesn't let me get as far in between washes as the Guts 10 does. 
GHD Straightener
I've used many-a-straightener in my day, and this is by far the very best I've ever used.  I was sold on it about 4 years ago, and the same one is still going strong and is as hot as ever!  I love, love, love this guy. 
Kenra Hair Spray
I talked about my love for Kenra before, but really.  This is my favorite hair spray.  It doesn't weigh my hair down and isn't sticky at all and since I was introduced to it by a sweet friend, I haven't bought any other brand of hairspray.  I don't see that changing for, well ... ever? Yes, everI've been using it for 3 years and until the rest of my life. There are several different 'levels' of hold, but go big or go home, ladies (and gents?).  Kenra 25 is the most important for Texas hair.  

|FACE|
Benefit 'It's Potent' Eye Cream
I have pretty dark under-eye circles and have been wearing 'eye cream' since I was a freshman in high school.  That's 15 years of running the gamut of experimenting with creams.  Back then I was a Clinique girl, so I stuck with what I knew, and the eye cream cycle spiraled out of control from there.  About two years ago I stumbled upon this product during one of my (rather dangerous) trips to Ulta and I've never looked back.  Those dark puffy eyes are no more.
'Say YES to Grapefruit' CC Cream
I totally wish I knew that this product would change my skin life once and for all when I picked it up off the shelf or else I would have graced a fantastic before and after picture for you to see.  Everything breaks me out.  Everything.  Why I thought a tinted moisturizer would do anything for me is beyond me, but I'm glad I tossed it in my cart at Target one fine day.  I've done the BB creams before with little result, but this CC cream rocked my world. 

Runner Up
'Say YES to Carrots' Night Cream
Uncented and gentle for my sensitive skin.  Not overly heavy to clog my pores, and always makes my skin super soft in the morning.

|MAKEUP|
If a six dollar mascara could solve the world's problems.. this would be it.  Period.  Of all the questions, comments, and requests I get - What mascara do you use? is the number one. I've used every last mascara brand, both designer and drugstore brands alike, but The Falsies is my fav.  I apply 3-4 coats, allowing for dry time in between.  This is my most time consuming part of my makeup routine, which makes the rest of my routine pretty simple.   
MAC Paint Pot | Painterly
My mother in law knows the way to my heart and always sticks to the best and most special for my Christmas stocking - including introducing me to the MAC Paint Pot several Christmas' ago.  She explained that rather than using it as an actual 'shadow', use this as more of a base to help hold your shadow in place.  Never again have I had any lines or creases in my shadow.  THE best beauty tip I have ever gotten.  I also put it under my eyes as a 'concealer' of those dark under circles, and to hold the shadow I usually line under my eyes.  In 4 years I have used TWO of these pain pots.  yes, just two.  Make the splurge.  Its worth it. 
Rimmel London Chubby Eyeshadow Stick | White
My favorite highlighter.  I pencil this under my eyes (after a swipe of the pain pot), and then brush over it to blend. 
CARGO Liquid Foundation
This is another product I've used everything under the sun with.  I came across this CARGO brand when I was searching for something (anything) to save me from the drips that were left in my bottle of concealer at home.  The gal at the makeup counter told me this is what they use when they do make-up for special events.. sold me right there.  And I love it.  Never heavy, and the only foundation that doesn't clog my pores.  I've recently come to learn that it is sold online only in most places, but isn't stopping me from continuing to use.  One pouch lasted me almost a year (which tells you how little you actually need to use for coverage.  I apply just about a pea or dime size amount with a foundation brush (my favorite is the MAC Foundation Brush).

Runner Up
MAC Small Angle Brush
I use my tiny angle brush every day.  I do not wear eye liner, so I use this all the time for lining eye shadows on my lid and under my bottom lashes.

|BODY|
Aveda Foot Relief 
If I had to choose one (JUST one) part of my body that I am most self conscious about, it would be my feet. I have terrible feet.  I mean, bad.  Really.  They aren't stinky (phew!) but they don't sweat.. so in turn I have the most dry feet of anyone on the planet.  I used to think it was because I was an athlete.. but my ballin' days are long gone (I played basketball from the age of five through high school) and then became a runner, and then had babies (and am no longer an athlete or a runner).  And my feet are still the same.  They crack.  They bleed.  They hurt. The summer sandal weather causes me nothing but stress.  Not enough pedicures in the world could save me from the disaster that are my feet.  Until I randomly received a sample of Aveda Foot Relief.  Changed my life in less than a week.  If I happen to run out and leave any time lapse in between I can tell a major difference.  I live by this stuff.. and tell everyone about my 'baby soft feet' when I walk into the store to re-stock my stash.  
Dove 'Nutrium Moisture Shea Butter' Deodorant
There is nothing worse than the smell of powdery stick deodorant.  I cannot stand it, but Dove (all around) is my favorite.  I have been please with all their 'scents' and options for deodorant, but the shea butter is by far my favorite- and really controls those 'sweaty' situations.  (Side note: Jordan uses the Dove for men deodorant, and LOVES it.) 
Rodan Fields Essentials Foaming Sunless Tan
I used to be a lover of all tanning beds.  Looking back at old pictures of me.. enter emoji with the largest eyes everrrr.. I overdid it a bit and thought I really looked good. In my much wiser days that are the present I have opted to use the sunless varieties over the damaging beds.  Again, I've tried a bazillion, but LOVE this one.  It goes on easily and evenly (the foam is amazing for keeping things even) and doesn't smell like a tanning lotion.  Most self-tanner is unsafe for use during pregnancy, but I reached out to my friend and consultant, Brittany Laws, and she did confirm that this is safe to use during if you are carrying a baby.  I will say, as a disclaimer, to bring this product with you to let your OB check it out if you are preggo and decide to try it out.

Runner Up
Footlogix Foot Mousse
In my pre-Aveda Foot Relief days I found this to be the greatest defense against keeping the cracked heels at bay, but didn't give me the 'soft' feet I wanted.


+bonus+ 
|NAILS|
What you can't see are my nails in this picture.  I do my nails- OFTEN.  When I can splurge and get them done in the salon I go for the gel mani every time because it lasts and lasts (and lasts), but when I can't (and don't have time - story of my life), I do them myself.  Which is fine because I have a severe addiction to polish.  Yep.  A mother-lover of color. A few requirements for when I do my nails.
1.)  I do them at night right before I go to sleep.  That way I don't have a real chance to smudge them.
Which brings me to number 2.)   
Quick dry polish. I wake up with smooth and flawless nails 98% of the time. Love it. Need it. Get it.
I honestly have no idea of this polish's working power.  I've used it and had my nails chip the very next day (grrr..) and also used it and had zero chips for a week.  It is for those week long self-mani's that keeps me coming back to use this.  

As far as the POLISH goes.. I love them all.  Designer and drugstore.  Although, as of late, I am finding the designer brand AT the grocery store, which makes for an interesting explanation to the hubby when he glances over the receipt.  
 Transitioning to Fall is my favorite time of year because I am naturally drawn to those warmer brown and gold undertones that typically show themselves well during these later months.  I am one of those that enjoys (like, really enjoys) pairing her polish with her outfit, and especially when I've spent money on a mani or pedi, that following week I will be wearing something to coordinate with the polish I chose.
I'm always a lighter choice on the toes and a dark on the fingers.  Mainly because I switch my finger polish SO much, I can have more fun with the bold brighter, shades and my toes get few polish changes in between, and so, to avoid the clash, I stay pretty neutral.  PLUS- the fact that I absolutely hate my feet causes less care and more intention to stuff them in a boot.  This is the best time of year for that.

Julep has offered up this super fun Polish Style Shift for making that transition, and hello- its genius!  
I am actually wearing Claudette as we speak- and I LOVE it.  I recently made a small wardrobe purchase due to an influx in gift card monies around my birthday time- you may have seen something like this on The Gram (@masseya)

With the newest purchase of polish in mind (I know..weirdo..) here is what I picked out!
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

So there it is.  My favorite beauty products (and then some..) 
I am always on the look out for new things to try - do you have a favorite beauty product you absolutely swear by?  Please share!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Patch Kids | 2014

In trying to sound festive in the most non-cliché way..we went to the Pumpkin Patch last week. 
..and, you guessed it, picked out a pumpkin. 

Walking into the Patch, a flood of memories hit my ever loving heart of a mother and swallowed it whole.  Do you remember the last time we were here?
We were bald.  
Wearing leg warmers and a onesie.
Leg warmers and onesies that I have since boxed up and stored in the attic because they don't fit anymore. 
Walking was our newest trick and we had just turned 10 months old.
  
Here we are.  A year, (almost) to the day, later.
Who are you. 
You stop growing right now.
This very minute.


..and you too, little missy.
After seeing their reaction to the rows upon rows of pumpkins..
..the bounce houses..
..the hay bales..
..and most of all, the way cool, super huge tractor touring the patch.
I knew this trip wasn't going to actually be about choosing a pumpkin for our porch.
But they entertained the idea well enough.
Pumpkin Huntin' is serious business.  It was way to much fun watching them walk/run through the rows together.

With rows upon rows of open (gated) field, what else is there to do?
How about a fair game.
Lets race.  Get on your mark.  
Jolie starts off strong- a true burst of energy that leaves Parker behind
..until the blasted rock/step/branch/grass? that never was.
In true competitor fashion, there is no time to waist when you have the chance to W.I.N.


No hard feelings.
After all the reindeer games (in October), the pumpkin pickin' was complete. 
With the great Pumpkin selection behind us, we opted for a few photo attempts of just us girls.
fail.
Waving as all the cars came through. 
fail.
At first glance, this might seem like a fail. But Jolie looks like she's stepped out of a commercial for Paul Mitchell, and Parker really just smiles like that.
But, no she doesn't.
66.6% of us are looking.  
Non-Fail.   
Watching these two change over the course of a year really doesn't hit home until we step into a situation exactly the same as last year.  This year they really did take part in the pumpkin selection.  Played in the fields, the hay, and around the Disney character maze of wood figurines.  
Loving every minute of it.
Growing and transforming right before my very eyes.
I'm so excited for these family traditions to continue.

..but only if they stay small enough to fit in my lap forever. 

headwrap: sweet t designs
tee: target


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