Thursday, August 30, 2018

Favorite Home Finds Under $25

We all know about Spring Cleaning but did you also know there's such a thing for Fall!? As temperatures get cooler and the days get shorter, open up those windows, dust those neglected baseboards, and toss out those items you've been keeping for way too long. And just in case you're looking to add a few new things for the new season, I've got 10 of my favorite home finds and they're all under $25!

Note: This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on the link and purchase the item I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Two Days in Des Moines (Our Jr. Olympics Experience)

When Ben first told us he wanted to do track we though, why not? He likes to run and has lots of endless energy so it seemed like the perfect fit. If you would have told us that he would end up qualifying for the Junior Olympics I would have called you a liar :) His team practiced three days a week from April-August in freezing temperatures, wind and rain, and scorching heat. Even if he hadn't made it as far as he did, we are all proud of the hard work and effort he put into this sport. 

After Ben qualified at districts and then state, we knew we would be headed to Des Moines. Junior Olympic events were spread throughout the week and consisted of almost every sport you could imagine. Ben qualified for one event (1500 meter) which meant he only competed one day and luckily it was the first one that day. We made the 4 hour drive the day before which gave us time to explore the city, check in for his event, and get a good night's rest before his run.

We made it into Des Moines around lunch time and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Fuzzy's before walking across the street to check out the Science Center of Iowa. Although it was a little smaller than we expected, it was still worth the visit. We were also looking forward to The IMax Theater, but it was closed during our visit due to damage from recent storms.

One of the kids' favorite thing was the airplane making/launching station. And when your dad is an engineer, you can bet your airplane will go far :)

After leaving the science center we checked into our hotel, the Hilton Des Moines Downtown. The hotel was fantastic and within walking distance to the river and downtown. They also have a complimentary shuttle which can drop you off and pick you up. The weather was beautiful so we walked to dinner and then took the shuttle back to the hotel. We ate at the Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Company but I wouldn't eat there again. 

After a short rest at the hotel, my brother-in-law and niece joined us for a walk by the river and we saw the most beautiful sunset. 

The next morning we all woke up feeling excited and nervous. Before leaving for Des Moines, Ben and I had looked over the heat list and seed times for the other runners. He knew he wouldn't place in his event, but he set a goal to try as hard as he could and get a new personal record.

The best part of the entire experience was when he crossed the finish line and saw that he had beaten his previous best time by 3 seconds. He raised his fists in the air and cheered for himself because he was proud of himself. And of course that made me cry. 

After countless hugs, kisses, and a $60 Jr. Olympics sweatshirt (insert eye roll), we celebrated with breakfast at Waveland Cafe which I highly recommend. We we're so hungry and the food was so good it was gone before I could take a picture. 

We let the boys have a quick swim back at the hotel before checking out and heading home. We left Des Moines with full bellies, great memories, and hearts bursting with pride.  
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Fresh & Sweet Strawberry Ice Cream

From Cortney and Co

Well it only took me two years, but I finally used my KitchenAide Ice Cream Maker. I don't know why I was so intimated by it, but if I would have known how easy it was, I would have used it a long time ago. Speaking of easy, this recipe couldn't be more simple and I promise you will be shocked by the quality of the ice cream. Everyone in my house agreed it was way better than anything you can buy at the store. 

What You Need:

For the strawberry puree 
-1 pint of strawberries 
-2 tbsps honey 
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 tsp fresh lemon juice 

For the ice cream base 
-1/2 cup half & half
-1 cup heavy whipping cream
-1 tsp vanilla 

What To Do:

1. Wash the strawberries, remove the stems, and hull the inside. I find the easiest way to do this is to poke a straw directly through the middle of the strawberry and pull out the hull.
2. Chop the strawberries into very fine pieces and place them in a large bowl. 
3. Add the honey, sugar, and lemon juice to the berries then give it a good stir. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This gives the strawberries a chance to get all juicy. 
4. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and smash any larger pieces with a fork. I don't like mine too mashed as I like the taste of strawberry chunks in the ice cream.
5. Add the half & half, cream, and vanilla to the strawberry puree and mix well.
5. Follow the directions on the ice cream maker and mix for 10-20 minutes (this will depend on your model).
6. Once the ice cream is fully churned, remove from the bowl and serve immediately. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Weekend Recap

This weekend was the perfect mix of all the things. Family time, relaxation, and lots of productivity. We spent Friday night at the pool followed by a visit to our favorite snow cone place. Pool + snow cones has been our regular Friday night routine all Summer and I'm definitely feeling sad that it's coming to an end. 

We all slept in Saturday morning and the boys played together so peacefully that I was able to actually sit, relax, and finish a book. If you love Bravo or any of the Real Housewives shows, you'll love this book. 

Saturday afternoon I took my niece shopping for some back to school clothes followed by a visit to the nail salon. She got a little mani/pedi and I chose OPI's gel polish in Mod About You. I've gotten this color a couple of times now and it's the perfect bubblegum pink.

On Sunday we cleaned out our entire garage and it took us all day. We moved every single thing out, cleaned the floor, wiped down and organized all the shelves, and donated or threw away several car loads full of stuff. Although we were hot and exhausted, it feels so good to finally have it done and everything put away.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Linking up with Biana for Weekending. 
Friday, August 17, 2018

5 on Friday

Happy Friday! This week has seemed extra long so I'm excited for a weekend at home and squeezing in as many trips to the pool as we can before Labor Day.


I finally used my KitchenAid Ice Cream Mixer and I don't know what took me so long. Actually, I do. The last time we used it J was in charge and the ice cream was just a big soupy mess and never froze. This time I took the lead and we ended up with the most delicious, fresh strawberry ice cream we've ever had. Now that I know how to work the attachments (and the necessary recipe ingredients) the possibilities are endless! 


Ben and I went to a Charlie Puth concert recently and I couldn't believe how much actual talent the guy has. And despite being several years my junior, he's pretty dang cute. This was Ben's first concert and he was a little worried that he would be the only boy in a sea of teenage girls. I'm happy to report there were quite a few guys in the audience...cheering and singing right alongside the girls :)


The nearest Lush store is an hour and half away so I like to stock up when I'm there. I took a late bath the other night and used the Cheer Up Buttercup bomb. Bath bombs are a dime a dozen these days, but the Lush ones make your skin feel so smooth and they smell heavenly!


My friend Karen got me hooked on the My Favorite Murder Podcast and I can't stop listening to it. The podcast is a "true crime comedy podcast" and nothing like typical crime podcasts which is important to know before diving in. The hosts, Karen and Georgia, are comedians and I find myself laughing out loud more than I'd like to admit. Anyone else a murderino? 


This week was back to school and it's been an adjustment getting into the school routine again. Ben started the 4th grade on Tuesday followed by Jack's first day of Kindergarten on Thursday. Even though they both go to the same school, kindergartners start a few days later to give the big kids a chance to get settled before the little ones arrive. As usual, Ben was a pro and Jack handled it much better than I expected with not a single tear or cling to me at all. I also did surprisingly well and only teared up once which was a relief considering I thought I might ugly cry. 

***I'm sure many of you have heard, but April at Smidge of This, and one of the hosts of  the 5 on Friday linkup, recently learned that her daughter Charlotte has Luekodystrophy, a rare, incurable, and terminal disease. April also learned that Charlotte is not a candidate for any kind of treatment. In order to document sweet Charlotte's journey, April created this Instagram page and is determined to make Charlotte's life filled with as much joy as possible. My hearts breaks for this momma. Please keep this family in your thoughts and prays as they navigate this journey they never imagined. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Easy Oven Roasted Green Beans

Easy Oven Roasted Green Beans

If I would have known that we could have fresh, crispy, flavorful green beans in about 15 minutes I would have made these a long time ago. These green beans taste way better than anything from a can and I make the kids jump in and help by snapping the ends while I work on the rest of dinner. 

What You Need:

-1 pound fresh green beans (washed, ends snapped)
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-pepper (to taste)
-2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

What To Do:

1. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees.
2. In a large bowl, toss the green beans in olive oil.
3. Add garlic powder and pepper and toss the beans again.
4. Place green beans in a single layer on a baking pan (line with foil for easy clean up). Bake for 7-10 minutes then flip beans and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cheese. Serve hot.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Life Update + Weekend Recap

Hello and happy August! Things have been pretty quiet over here on the blog. I've been soaking in all things Summer and also doing some behind the scenes work on the blog so new posts were put on hold for a bit. Although it was a nice little break, I'm excited to be back with an update on what we've been up to. 

Between using the gym and our visits to the pool, we're definitely getting our money's worth from the HOA fees we have to pay. While at the pool we had a visit from this little guy who must have gotten turned around. 

I stopped using my curling iron awhile ago and have been using a straightener to curl my hair. It's taken a little bit of practice but I'm pretty pleased with the final look.

My best friend's dad passed away unexpectedly the week after the fourth of July. Her kids came over to play a few times while they were in town and it was controlled chaos of the best kind:)  It's so special watching our kids grow up together. 

I talked about searching for painted rocks earlier this summer and Jack is still just as obsessed with finding and hiding them. We went over to his friend Clark's house and painted some of our own to hide. I looked up some ideas on Pinterest because I have literally zero artistic ability. 

Gorgeous Summer sunsets. 

Every Summer we set the tent up in the living room for the boys "camp" and make S'Mores. It's something they look forward to every year and it saves me from having to sleep outside with bugs. 

Slowly but surely our garden's been producing vegetables including one nice big green pepper. I know a lot of you are probably laughing at our little garden, but this is pretty good for us. 

And that brings us to this past weekend which technically started on Wednesday with a trip to Des Moines, Iowa. If you've been following me on Instagram you know that Ben made it to the Jr. Olympics for track where he ran the 1500m. It's still crazy to me that he actually made it and we are so freaking proud of him. Full post coming later this week!

On Friday Ben and I went to Six Flags in St. Louis and I managed to not throw up after riding 4 back to back spinning rides. I'd call that a success. 

And like the fools that we are, we braved Target on tax free weekend, the week before school starts, to get school supplies. While we made it out alive, it wasn't my best idea. 

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Linking up with Biana for Weekending.