Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hey there, 2015!

Our little family is back from NY after an extremely GREAT time! Traveling home last night was a bit of a nightmare, but we're home and cozy...and that's all that matters. Daddy had to go to work this morning, and Ella and I were up and out super early to get ready for our New Year's celebration with some very special peeps later tonight. I'm still decompressing from the chaos of traveling, but I'll be back very soon to share a few highlights from this past week. 

2014 was a wonderful year for us, full of so many memories of our sweet growing girl! I can't wait to see what's next in 2015! Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

X-Mas in NY

I'm psyched! The Babes, Hubs and I are New York bound for Christmas. Last year we didn't go so we're long overdue for a holiday visit! They say there's "no place like home for the holidays" and although I believe this to be true AND I'm super excited about this visit...Florida is feeling more and more like home so I'm not sure how much longer the saying will apply for (It's been over 5 years)! Besides that...there's no denying that I'm a New Yorker at heart! I'm truly excited for Ella to have a NY Christmas this year and to be with ALL of our family! It's going to be a jam-packed, fun-filled visit and I know she will have a blast with all of her grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and cousins! I counted 16 little(ish) cousins! Whoa baby, she's going to be in her glory! 

First we need to get there. You know me, I'm slightly nervous about the plane ride. This time I'm not equipped with goodie bags for our flight neighbors in case she freaks out the whole way there. Ain't nobody got time for that! Something had to give and that was it! Wish us luck! Ella isn't the best at sitting on laps but she will just have to deal. I've got stickers, crayons, movies, books and the we should be okay! 

I'm not sure how much blogging I'll do while I'm there. I'll take it day by day and see how it goes but not counting on it just in case it's craziness! We will be home on the 30th and then we have a special visit with Mal, DLW and Collins! So much to look forward to! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and cherish every moment spent with loved ones because that's exactly what we're doing! YaY! Be back soon! 
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Rediscovery of Chai

I'm just a tad late hopping on the chai tea bandwagon, I know. My mom made me try it years ago and I remember thinking it was just "okay" and never having it again. What was wrong with me!? This stuff is phenomenal! I've spent just about every night these last three weeks curled up on my couch with a cup of chai. Don't even ask what made me buy the chai tea concentrate from Oregon Chai one day while perusing the aisles of Fresh Market, but I'm glad I did! I've since branched out and tried the one by Tazo which is also amazing but just a lot sweeter. Strangely, I think I like the Oregon Chai better but they are both delish. 

My new obsession has inspired me to seek out other ways in which I can enjoy chai...
1. Chai Pear Scones - These are a little adventurous for me, but would probably be worth it. 
2. Chai Tea Snow Buddies - I'm already a lover of muddy buddies, it stands to reason that these would be a fave too. 
3. Chai Tea Mix - What a cute gift idea...maybe next year!
4. Homemade Vanilla Chai Tea Latte - Making this as soon as I run out of concentrate.
5. DIY Chai Spice - I already have all of the ingredients to make this, so why not!?

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

What's cooking this week?

Don't you just love when you can have a lazy weekend after an incredibly busy week? The best part  is that I don't even have to go back to work on Monday. In fact, I'm off until January 5th! Pretty sweet, I know! I'm more than thankful to have a bit of time at home to decompress from the chaos at work, spent some quality time with my girl and get ready for our big Christmas trip to New York! I'll be cooking up some deliciousness and Hubs is breaking in the new BBQ before we leave!
Tonight: Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Hash (finishing up what's in the freezer)
Monday: Chicken Fajitas
Tuesday: Vegetable Soup and Steak for Hubs

There's nothing too interesting to report on the home front besides watching loads of Christmas movies and playing with Ella's new toys. (*If you have Netflix, don't waste your time watching "Happy Christmas...super lame.) The Christmas shopping is done and now we can relax! Our little sweetie is battling yet another yucky diaper rash. She seems to get them every three weeks or so. We've tried basically ALL of the store bought creams and the Nystatin doesn't seem to be doing the trick this time. My poor girl's little tushy! Any ideas for alternative remedies are appreciated! 
I hope you're all having a nice, relaxing weekend too!

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Jelly Button Time

It wouldn't be the Christmas season without making my Grandmother's yummy cookies. I've made these every single year since she passed away back in 2007. This was the first time I made them by using my KitchenAid mixer and WOW, it was so much easier and cleaner! It was also the first time making them in my new kitchen! 

This is the original post to the Jelly Button recipe that I shared 2 years ago.... CLICK HERE! Ella was sleeping when I made a big batch the other night but next year that little lady will be my helper! This is one of my most favorite Christmas traditions and hopefully it will be hers too!

Now that I'm in baking mode I've found a bunch of recipes that I'd love to make, but no one to make them for. Hubs and I could only eat so many cookies (honestly I hardly eat any...not really one for baked goods strangely)! Perhaps I could make some to bring to New York, I'm just trying to minimize the amount of stuff we need to pack. These candy cane cookies are so cute though, surely I can find a spot for them in our suitcase! This is a Laura Vitale recipe, the video make them look SO easy! If I make them I'll let you all know. What's your favorite Christmas cookie recipe?!
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Disney Fanatic in the Making

As promised, here's a little recap of Ella's first time experiencing the Disney magic. It was an incredibly fun day! Hubs and I went back and forth as to whether or not our now family of three was ready to start up again with season passes. We understand that she's so little that she won't really remember it, but WE will! I'll try my very best to document it all so she could look back at all the fun times. Basically, why wait?!

The thing about The Magic Kingdom is that by the time you actually get there, it's like you've already ridden two rides....the tram and the monorail or ferry. It' a whole production. This is the ONLY negative thing I could ever say about the MK. I'm working on learning to enjoy the journey but I'd rather just park my card and be there already! Baby Girl seemed to have a blast taking it all in...tram, ferry, whatever....she loved it all!

The beauty of living so close and being able to just come and go as you please is that you don't have to rush there first thing in the morning, and you don't feel pressured to stay all day just to get your money's worth. We got there at about 1:00 and stayed until about 6:00...just enough, especially for our little Disney rookie! We were able to do the carousel, The Little Mermaid ride, the Tea Cups, and the Dumbo ride. The new way they do the fastpass with the Disney app is just amazing! We've since gotten our magic bands....phenomenal! They are complimentary for passholders -you have to order them so we didn't have them for this first visit. As you can see, we all had the best day! Ella Rose was in her glory and of course so were Hubs and I. We can't wait for many more trips to come!
*This was from over a month ago. We've since been to Epcot (also a blast) and if all goes according to plan...we'll be hitting up Hollywood Studios tonight to see the lights before our blackout dates kick in on our passes!
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Monday, December 15, 2014

What's cooking this week?

Happy Monday, indeed! Today is Ella's 15 month checkup and I took the entire day off. Besides the fact that I'm 99% sure she is getting a shot of some sort today, I'm super excited about the day! For starters, it's amazing I just HAPPEN to be off considering my voice is hardly back yet. Somehow that worked out. It's as if I were meant to be home today. Weird, but I'll take it. Last night it started to come back, I felt human again! I'll never EVER take my voice for granted again! Anyway here's what's on the menu...
Tuesday: Crock-Pot Turkey Veggie Chili
Wednesday: Pomodoro Tilapia 
Thursday: Pulled Pork and Cauliflower Garlic Breadsticks

My little sweets and I are due for some Mamma/Ella time! Last week was ROUGH on so many levels. Baby and I just need a day for us. I may even turn my work e-mail least until nap time. The plan is to spend all day on the floor playing with her and all of her new toys. She's been growing so fast and looking like such a big girl to me lately. I'm absolutely loving this printable for her room. Looking at it reminds me to slow down and enjoy every single second. They all keep telling me she won't be little forever. As soon as i find the perfect frame, this beauty will probably go on the same wall as her crib. Love it!
{printable via}
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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Santa's First Visit

There's an awesome holiday weekend in progress over here. It's almost perfect too....who knew that losing your voice would be so frustrating? It's not like I imagined it would be a walk in the park but this has been a whole level of annoying that I never thought possible. My family is up from South Florida for Christmas (Part 1) and not being able to communicate with everyone has definitely put a bit of damper on our celebration for me. On Friday night when they arrived my voice was ridiculously raspy. Saturday morning I woke up and it was completely gone. So far this morning it doesn't seem to be much better so who knows how long this will last. Thankfully I took the day off tomorrow to take Ella to her 15 month checkup. Isn't it funny how sometimes things like that work out. I can't even imagine how much work I would be able to get accomplished without a voice. Now let's hope it's back by Tuesday!

Yesterday morning we woke up to see what Santa brought our little lady. Boy, was he good to her!?! Look at her go!
It was a nice day of staying home and playing with all Ella's new toys. A dollhouse, shopping cart, rocker, mega blocks, baby crib and more..she's totally overwhelmed, in a good way of course! I'm pretty sure we were all into it more than or at least as much as she was. My cousin Kristen made fake breakfast for everyone (quite the spread) before we all had real breakfast. Obviously the kitchen set is a BIG hit! Hubs and I did extensive research on kitchen sets and play food before making final decisions. Worth it!
How adorable is this "Owl-ivia" rocker?! Hey Aunt Donna....I think she likes it! 

Stephen took a ride to Home Depot with Uncle John and picked up our new BBQ (house/X-mas gift from Uncle John and Aunt Laura, OMG). Expect some grilling to be in the upcoming meal plans! Tis' the season still down here! After nap time for both Ella and I, we went out to dinner at one of my favorite Italian restaurants. I communicated via text, but there was SO much I wanted to say and how thankful I am for our family, and what a beautiful day it was. Love them all so much! In 10 days we will be doing it all over again in New York! In the meantime, let's hope my voice comes back soon because I can hardly wait to ask my baby girl how she likes her kitchen set!!! From the looks of it though, I'd say she is very grateful. 
Stephen and I are pretty adamant about establishing our own traditions here in our new home. This was a great way to start! We're so thankful that Aunt Laura, Uncle John, Kristen and Nikki were able to be a part of Santa's very first visit! There will also be a lot of thanking to do when we see everyone in NY soon! There were quite a few large boxes under the tree yesterday morning we obviously wouldn't be able to travel back with! You're all so good to our sweet girl! Now back to Christmas Part 1 and a big cup of tea! 
*Sunday meal planning fail....expect that tomorrow instead!
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Ella's Must-Have Toys

What child doesn't love their toys, am I right?! Ella is one lucky little lady to have such a huge collection of fun toys from so many special people in her life! I figured now would be a great time to share ten of her favorites. All of these make regular appearances, no matter how buried some get she is always uncovering them and I'm finding these scattered across the floor at the end of the day.
Ella's Must-Have Toys

1. Big Block Sing Song DVD - If you've ever tuned into Disney Junior, you've had these catchy tunes  stuck in your head. The videos are hilarious, we started watching marathons of them on YouTube when she was only a few months old. Now season one is on DVD! Our Ella's favorites are "Peek-a-Boo", "Big Feet" and "Eat". Hubs and I still can't get over the fact that she now sings and dances to them!
2. Melissa and Doug Take-Along Shape Sorter - My mom got this for Ella at a cute little toy shop while we were in Savannah, Georgia over the summer. She used to like hearing the sound of the shapes inside and enjoyed dumping them out. Now she can fit some of the shapes in herself!
3. Baby Einstein "Let's Look" Book - We somehow acquired a big and a little version of this same book. I like to bring the little one with us in the diaper bag when we're on the go. Between reading this book, and watching Baby Noah (Baby Einstein DVD, also on YouTube) she learned her animals and animal sounds. 
4. Little People Ariel's Castle - Ella had a mermaid theme for her first birthday, so of course this was the perfect gift. She especially loves Flounder and opening and closing the clam shell. 
5. Melissa and Doug Safari Chunky Puzzle - I love this chunky puzzle, we have the shape one as well. This also helped Ella learn her animals, she always favored the "po-po" (hippo).
6. Caterpillar Tunnel - My cousin Jen got this for Ella's first birthday. Let's just say I trip over it on a regular basis. 
7. Stack and Roll Cups - These are stacking bowls, nesting bowls, and they even fit together so you can roll them. Right now I'm using them to help work on colors. 
8. Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Magical Musical Mirror - My dad is so proud that he picked this out for her on a whim LAST Christmas. This thing has been such a hit at so many phases of her development. When she was a little lump I'd just plop her in front of it and she would stare in the mirror, then she started pulling herself up on it (made me nervous), now she carries it all over the place. The pieces are perfect for teething, and she uses the comb to pretend to comb not only her hair, but mine, it's the sweetest. This is a big hit, even still!
9. Little People Nativity - Grandma and Grandpa Sko outdid themselves on this one! They gave it to Ella when we saw them in September but we put it aside so we could open it special for the holidays. Well, it's open and it's the number one toy as far as Ella is concerned right now. It's absolutely adorable and I'm so excited to have this be one of our Christmas traditions. I could see us taking this out for many years to come!
10. LeapFrog Picnic Basket - This was a birthday gift from Aunt Sharyn, Uncle Kevin and Justin. Picnics are a daily occurrence in our living room. Now Ella taps the fork on the plate and says "mum, mum, mum"! 

As you could imagine, our living room is completely over-run (as it should be with a one year old)! It's crazy to think what it will look like over the next few weeks! Thank you so much to you all in advance! Someday I'll do a post on living room organization - if I ever figure out a system that works! 
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Sunday, December 7, 2014

What's cooking this week?

There's SO much to do today, I'm glad we're all up nice and early! After running out to a few stores yesterday, I decided that the rest of my Christmas shopping will be done online. One thing I'm not into is battling the crowds and traffic...ugh. No thank you! Hopefully I could complete the rest of my online shopping today, it's already the 7th!?! First, let's figure out what's for dinner!
Tonight: Sunday Sauce
Tuesday: Pasta Fagioli (Olive Garden Copycat)
Wednesday: Grilled Lime Chicken with Black Bean Sauce
Thursday: Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Last night was my work Christmas party which was a blast. How is it that I have no photos? That is seriously unlike me, oopsie! What happens at the work Christmas party stays at the work Christmas party I guess! Our friends Lindsey and Kevin came over to watch Ella. It was so nice for Stephen and I to get out for a few hours! It felt strange in the car when it was just us. Obviously we don't get out much. 

Today will just be a snuggly day at home. Christmas music and movies...all that fun stuff! There's nothing like a Sunday Sauce Sunday - especially one in December! Maybe I'll get that going around noon so I could smell it all day! First, coffee and then playtime with my little love! 
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ella's Evolution of Dance {Part 1 of ?}

This kid has got some serious moves (sounding like a typical mom, I know). I say it all the time, the music moves her. I thought it would be fun to look back and see how Ella's dance moves have been evolving over the months. A dance class is in the very near future! My girl needs some tap shoes! I even saved my favorite ballet skirt JUST in case someday I had a daughter. Ohhh, so many memories! I danced for 15 years and it was such an incredible part of my life, I can't wait for Ella to have similar memories. That's if she likes it of course, but so far I'd say it's looking good that we have a little dancer on our hands! Yes, it's the same song in the last three videos! There's something about that song "Hideaway" by Kiesza. It's definitely her jam! I'm sure there will be more posts like this in the future, so enjoy part one!

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014


This is how it all went down on Saturday.... I watched a 2 minute tutorial on how to make a burlap wreath, next thing I know I'm booking it to Joann's for materials. Forty bucks later, I'm back home with the brilliant plan to make not one, but TWO wreaths. In the time it took for me to watch Christmas Vacation I was able to complete one large wreath for inside above my media console and another regular sized (?) one for our front door. 
I'm not going to even try to call this a tutorial. There isn't much to explain, I wasn't joking when I said it was just a two minute video that explains all you need to know. 

Click HERE for the video. 

I used an 18-inch and a 24-inch wire wreath frame, which took 3 roles of burlap (I believe each role had 10 yards). The flowers are just weaved into the wire frame. I was going to attempt some hot glue gun action, but I'm glad I left well enough alone. The plan is to maybe swap the flowers out and recycle these wreaths for another holiday or maybe just turn them into something "everyday". I'm going burlap crazy up in here. Fun fact, burlap does in fact smell also makes a mess so lay out a blanket and don't wear your good leggings! Use the hashtag #burlapsmellsweird if you make one so I can see! Let me know if you have questions, I feel like I'm not being specific enough!
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Monday, December 1, 2014

Attention Teacher Friends!

While you're all scouring the internet for Cyber Monday deals, I've got a good one for all of my teacher friends! Teachers Pay Teachers is running a sale and extending it through tomorrow night! 

My dear friend Lisa has an amazing shop, check it out if you're in the market for Middle School Math, Algebra 1 or Geometry lessons and a collection of the most creative foldables EVER. Kids love them, they tell me all the time! Be sure to follow her on Instagram too!

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