Monday, September 30, 2013


I am not sure if it is the cooler weather that we are enjoying here in NoVa or maybe it is just the fact that I am feeling better. Either way I have really been in the mood to bake! There is just something about having my house smell of sweet treats baking on a Sunday afternoon. 

But since I am still playing catch-up from last week I knew I needed to bake something simple. So I went with apple dumplings. They might not be the prettiest of desserts but they sure tasted wonderful!

Apple Dumplings

1 refrigerated pie crust (I used Pillsbury)
2 apples, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (you could use less but we just happen to love cinnamon.)
juice from half a lemon

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl add apples, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Stir until apples are evenly covered. Set aside.

Roll out pie crust according to boxes instructions. Cut crust evenly down the middle, giving you two halves. Cut halves evenly down the middle, giving you four halves.

Divide apple mixture evenly among the four pieces of pie crust. Carefully fold the crust up over-itself, pinching the seems as you go. But don't fuss too much - they are dumplings so they don't have to look perfect!

Bake dumplings for 25 -30 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

This is the face of a boy who takes his desserts very seriously! Doesn't L look like he is going to attack his dumpling? 

Friday, September 27, 2013


I know that I took a longer break than I thought I would this week but it was needed! It took me longer to recover than I thought it would but I am so very blessed to have family and friends that are always willing to help out when needed!!!

So without further ado my "5 for Friday"....

{1} Fall

I don't want to jinx things but it feels as if Fall is here to stay in NoVa. And I simply love Fall! Cool enough weather not to be sweating all the time but pleasant enough to be outside and play. And maybe if we get some rain soon our tree will start to turn into bright reds, yellows and oranges, although I do fear that might not happen this year.

Photo: Red maple tree

{2} Layered Looks

Now that the weather is getting cooler I start to think of layered looks. Button-downs and sweaters always make this preppy gal smile. My smile might be bigger if I had Olivia Palermo's wardrobe too. But that is neither here nor there!

Olivia Palermo wearing a Vince poncho in New York

{3} PSL

While spending a week on the sofa surfing the web I could not help but notice how many people simple love Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Many my fellow bloggers really are devoted fans of the PSL and look forward to it every year. But I have a confession to make...I have never tried one. I love Starbucks coffee and make it every morning and sometimes treat myself with one of their skim lattes but never the PSL. Am I really missing out?

Pumpkin Spice Latte

{4} Getting Back In The Kitchen

Not only did I take a week off of blogging but I also took time off in the kitchen too. It was not easy to do but it was so needed. But now that I am on the mend I am in the mood to bake this weekend. Not sure if I should make an apple or pumpkin pie. Life is filled with tough decisions! (Hubby's note- Either way I win!)

Best-Ever Apple Pie

{5} Pampering

Do not get me wrong, I have been beyond pampered by family and friends this week. But since I have to take off all my nail polish this past Monday, I feel like a trip to the local nail salon is in order. I am so in need of a great Fall color!

As always thank you to A. Liz AdventuresCarolina CharmHello! Happiness and The Good Life Blog. Have a wonderful weekend y'all!

Monday, September 23, 2013


Friends I apologize for the lack of posts. It has been nothing but crickets around here but I promise it is all needed.

I needed to have a little medical procedure done today. Everything thing went well today and I will be good as new by the middle of the week. So please forgive me for taking some time off to get all of my families ducks in a row and time to heal.

I promise to be back soon!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ran Out Of Time

It was just one of those days where all I did was run all over town. A lot of very important yet boring things got done but nothing that you would like to hear about.

So I thought I would give you a little sneak peek of our dinning room. I have been happy with how it is coming along. I only wish there were more hours in the day to get everything done!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tradd Street

Even though I have been super busy I still read every night to wind down. I am sure that it is just me but after a super busy day, I need to read about someone else's life and forget mine. I know that I do not read many books that would make my college professors proud but I am ok with reading "fluff" since it helps me sleep night after night!

Recently I had gotten to the end of my nightstand book stack but luckily Goodreads made a spot on suggestion - Karen White's Tradd Street Series. 

According to Goodreads:

Practical Melanie Middleton hates to admit she can see ghosts. But she's going to have to accept it. An old man she recently met has died, leaving her his historic Tradd Street home, complete with housekeeper, dog and a family of ghosts anxious to tell her their secrets.

Enter Jack Trenholm, a gorgeous writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries. He has reason to believe that diamonds from the Confederate Treasury are hidden in the house. So he turns the charm on with Melanie, only to discover he's the smitten one...
It turns out Jack's search has caught the attention of a malevolent ghost. Now, Jack and Melanie must unravel a mystery of passion, heartbreak and even murder.

I enjoyed The House On Tradd Street so much that I am quickly making my way through the whole series. So much so that I plan to pre-order the fourth book in the series which does not come out until January. (I hate waiting!) This series also has me longing for a trip to Charleston with Hubby. Hubby and I went many years ago for our 5th wedding anniversary and these book have me itching to get back!

Have you read any good series lately?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Doctored Cake Mix

B really only had two requests for her birthday dessert. The first was that all of the children in the cul de sac could come over and have dessert with her. And the second that whatever I baked was topped with cream cheese frosting. Seemed like reasonable requests to me and so I baked up some red velvet cupcakes on Saturday morning.

But here's the thing...I cheated! I didn't make them from scratch. Yes, I know that there a million red velvet recipes out there that are not that hard at all to make but I simply did not have time. B and I had to be to our field hockey game really early because it was picture day. After the game B wanted to have lunch out with the family. Then by the time we got home and showered.... Well you know how it goes! 

And I have to say I feel not guilty since these "doctored" cupcakes from a mix got rave reviews from the kiddos and adults!!!

Doctored Cake-Mix Red Velvet Cupcakes*

1 box of white cake-mix (as always I used Pillsbury)
1 box of non-instant chocolate pudding (do not make the pudding!)
3/4 of a cup buttermilk
1/4 of a cup water
1/3 of a cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
red food coloring, as much as desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins.

Mix the white cake-mix and dry non-instant pudding until combined in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl add the buttermilk, water, oil and eggs. Mix until eggs are well beaten. Pour into the dry mixture and stir until combined. Stir in a few drops of red food dye.

Bake for 25 minutes or until done.  

Allow cupcakes to completely cool then top with your favorite cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!

*If you were to claim that you made these from scratch I would not tell a soul otherwise!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

B-day Details

I think it is safe to say that B had a great birthday! We started the day with her rec field hockey game. Even though the girls were not able to have rec practice due to the weather they still did a nice job. The girls tied 3 to 3. Plus B had two assists and a goal! The only problem with the game is that as a coach I could not take a single picture. I am going to have to teach Hubby how to take game day photos.

After the game we made our way to P.F. Chang's.  B was overjoyed to order an entree sized gluten-free Lemon Chicken. For a skinny gal she can really eat a lot after a game but since she ran all game long I am sure that she needed it.

Later on Saturday night, B unwrapped her gifts. B was kind enough to allow L to help her unwrap gifts. L might have gotten carried away and unwrapped gifts before B was ready! But B just rolled with it and was happy with her birthday goodies.

One of B's birthday wishes was to invite her neighborhood friends over for cupcakes. But in true B style she started up a game of touch football. I had to call the kids over three times before they even thought about the cupcakes. I don't think that I would have to been called more than once for a cupcake!

Once the kids all made it up onto the deck, everyone sang to B. For whatever reason the addition of "cha-cha-cha oh al al" still makes me laugh. And the fact that my little girl had the day that she envisioned made my heart fill with joy! 

Friday, September 13, 2013


My baby girl is turning 11 tomorrow and I am just not ready for her to be that old. When I look at her I still see her as a baby but she keeps telling me that tomorrow she will official be a tween. And let me tell you she has fully embraced being a tween even if I have not. So I thought that I would dedicate this TGIF post to my daughter B.

{1} Birthday Lunch

For all of the kiddos we let them pick what they would like for dinner but this year B has asked for a lunch out rather that a dinner. After her game tomorrow we will head to PF Changs for lunch and I tell you that she already knows what she would like to order - Gluten Free Lemon Chicken. She gets it every single time!

{2} Zella Girl

Zella Girl 'Vinyasa' Hooded Tunic (Little Girls & Big Girls)

B just loves workout clothing, probably since she is always on the go. Plus the most important things to her are field hockey and jogging club. So it came as no surprise that she wanted almost anything from Nordstrom's Zella Girl Line. At times I fear that B will walk down the aisle in work-out attire. 

{3} The House of Hades

B cannot wait for The House Of Hades to be released! She knows that she will not get this book on her birthday but it was a "must" on her B-day wish list. Secretly - I love Rick Riordan's books and I can't wait to read this book too! Please tell me that I am not the only one!!!

{4} Cra-Z-Loom

I am not sure how I missed this but Cra-Z-Loom is something that all tweens need! Friendship bracelets are so out! It turns out that rubber band bracelets are where it is at now a days. Never mind the fact that the bracelets remind me of too many trips to the orthodontist...that is neither here nor there!

{5} Frosting

I know that Ms. Deen is not very popular right now but I must give credit where credit is due. B simply loves Ms. Deen's cream cheese frosting! B asked that we invite the cul de sac over for dessert tomorrow night. And she did not care at all what kind of cake I baked as long as it was covered in Ms. Deen's frosting. Not going to lie...I am looking forward to eating it too!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Iced Lemon Cake

I was not joking when I said we had more lemons than I knew what to do with! After the kiddos and I made home-made 7up-like soda I still had a lot of freshly squeezed lemon juice left over. So I turned to my collection of Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks.  I have every single cookbook that Ina Garten has ever published since she has never let me down!

Lemon Cake (from the Barefoot Contessa Parties!)


1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperarture
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the syrup:
1/2 freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cups granulated sugar

For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar 
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.*

For the cakes...

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

For the syrup...

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze...

Combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

*Learn from my mistake, you need to use parchment paper. If not you will not be able to get your cakes out of their loaf pans without them falling apart. TRUST ME!

I know that everyone is all into pumpkin lattes and all but it has just been too hot here in NoVa. So this fresh lemon cake really hit the spot. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Always Remember and Never Forget

I am sure that I am like many of you...I will never forget where I was when the first reports of plane crashes started coming on the news 12 years ago. And my heart is heavy with all that was lost on that day.

As a proud American I will pray for all that have lost so much in our continuing fight on terorism. God Bless America!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Daring Greatly

I am the kind of gal that just can't say no. So I am not surprised by all the different "hats" I will be wearing this school year.  I mean how could I say no to the PTO? I enjoy raising money for great causes. How could I not step-up and coach B's field hockey team?  I love field hockey and helping empowering girls to be strong athletes. And do I really need to throw a Launch Party for my R + F business? I can't grow my business if people don't know about it. There just seem to be worthy causes everywhere I turn this Fall.

So I am sure that you can understand that my "to-do" was bringing me down. I was feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. It was as if my coffee mug was mocking me this morning! And self doubt started to creep in....what if my PTO event was a failure? What if I don't raise enough money? What if the girls on the team don't learn anything this season? What if we never win a game and they get discouraged? What if I am not a successful sales consultant? I could feel a sad pity party coming on but it stopped after I re-read a quote from Teddy Roosevelt.....

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Teddy Roosevelt

I am not sure about you but this quote really spoke to me and the pity party ended! From now on I will refer to this crazy busy Fall as the "Fall Of Daring Greatly"!!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Too Many Lemons and Limes

Somehow we ended up with two huge bags of lemons and limes. I needed something to do with them before they all went bad and I had to suffer from a massive case of Catholic guilt. So I did what any good mother would do, I sliced them all up and put my kiddos to work! 

Thank goodness the boys don't see the juicer as "work". To my boys it is just a super cool machine that crushes the inside of citrus. Boys will be boys!!! It might have had something to do with the fact that they knew we would be making homemade 7-Up-like soda with the lemon and lime juice.

Homemade Lemon Lime Soda
Makes three drinks*

Simple syrup (If you have never made it before check out this recipe.)
Freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice
1/2 Liter of club soda or seltzer**

Take three highball glasses and add 2 tablespoons of simple syrup and juices. Stir to combine.

Fill each of the glasses with ice and then top with Club Soda.


*I know that three serving is an odd number for a recipe but I have three children. 
**We have the SodaStream Penguin and we use that for all of our homemade sodas but store bought soda water would work well too.

I am not sure if M was just so happy to have "soda" with dinner for no special reason or if he enjoyed drinking something that he helped make. Either way, I sure do love his smile!!!

Friday, September 6, 2013


We did it! We made it through the first week of school!!! Everyone is a little wiped-out, myself included but everyone had a great week. Let hope next week goes just as well!

{1} Football

Last night was the official start of the NFL football season and Hubby could not be happier. He is a die-hard Redskins fan and he is doing his best to make sure his children are too. I can't even count the number of times my kiddos shouted-out "No Pressure...No Diamonds!"

{2} Panera Salad Dressing

While I was Target shopping for all the needed back-to-school supplies I saw that they had started selling Panera's salad dressing. I have really been loving the Fuji Apple dressing. It might not be as good as having Panera make a salad for me but it is pretty close!

{3} Lunch Dates

L started allergy shots three weeks ago and he is doing great. He is such a brave boy - not a single tear! So this week I decided to treat him to lunch at Moe's. It was so nice to have a little one on one time with L. And I just loved listening to all of his reasons for why it was ok that he was double-dipping his chips. Too funny!

{4} Call Me Coach

Some how I have become the head coach of B's field hockey team. I am still not sure how that happened but I am rolling with it. And I am using this new "job" as a reason to do some shopping! I want to look cute yet stay warm at our late night practices. What do you think of this hoodie?

{5} Cheers!

I have to say that I am so looking forward to cuddling on the sofa with Hubby and an adult beverage tonight. Surviving the first week back is worthy of a cocktail if you as me!

Picture of Cosmopolitan Recipe

I hope you all have a great weekend!!!!

Thanks to A. Liz AventuresCarolina CharmThe Good Life Blog and Hello! Happiness for hosting this Friday's link-up.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fiesta Food

My kiddos simply love anything Tex-Mex. I really feel like I could serve them tacos every night of the week and I would never hear a single complaint. So I should not have been surprised when we were planning for our "last party of summer" that they wanted to go with a Mexican fiesta theme.  And since it meant that I could serve the adults margaritas, I said yes!

The party started off with chips and guacamole, made by one of my besties J.  I will have to find out her secret since it was loved by every single person at our party, young and old. For dinner, Hubby grilled some marinated steaks for carne asada.  I heard that it was yummy (Hubby's note- It was!) but I never got any so I will have to make it again soon. I also served enchiladas. I used Skinny Taste's chicken enchilada recipe. I know that this recipe is pinned everywhere on Pinterest, but have you tried it yet? This recipe is unreal!!! It is always a big hit with my family and it did not disappoint at our party.

Apps and dinner were super yummy but dessert was unreal! Bestie A was kind enough to bake for the adults and boy were we in for a treat. A baked up margarita-cupcakes from Annie's Eats. How could they not have been great they were made with tequila? They were just the most perfect end to our last Fiesta of Summer!

Is it just me or does tequila make everything better!?!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Day!

I am not going to lie to you, I was really worried about how our first morning back was going to go. Our bus route was changed this year and that means that I will have to wake the kiddos up even earlier this year. And since two out of the three of my kiddos are not easy to wake I feared the worst!

Luckily all three did well on the their first morning. I think the hardest part of their morning was trying to get one group photo. You would have thought I asking for blood! I would love for someone to teach me how to get a simple photo with all three children smiling and looking at the camera!!!! (No really I need your help! Before I know it I will be taking pics for a Christmas card and I really need it to go better than it did last year.)

It took forever for the children from our bus stop to get on the bus. I lost count at 25! It was a wonderful reminder of how lucky we are to be raising our kiddos in a neighborhood filled with young children!!!

I am not sure L was as touched as I was at the bus stop. But I guess one should not ask too much of four, almost five, year old boy, right?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

It is so hard to believe that Summer is really over. I think that I am in denial! It just went by too fast!!! So this weekend we made the most of it! 

We had a bunch of friends over for a "Last Summer Fiesta" on Saturday. I am not sure about you and your friends but it is not that easy to see each other over the Summer since everyone vacations at different times so it was great to finally all come to together and catch up. Of course my kiddos really took the theme to heart and asked for a pinata. Nothing say "fiesta" like a pinata!!!

We ate well all weekend long. Pizza on Friday, enchilada and carne asada on Saturday, "appetizer night" on Sunday and grilled pork chops with basil and garlic rub on Monday. Diet starts on Tuesday, right?

And one of the biggest highlights of the weekend was that the Weather Man was wrong! The bad weather that we were told would ruin our Labor Day Weekend never came. Sure there were some clouds but not enough to stop us from enjoying one last sunset at the pool.

I am really counting down the days to Summer 2014!
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