Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Don't drink the Kool-Aid!

Clean your dishwasher with it! 

I spent most of Saturday "Fall Cleaning."There were a few things I just hadn't had time to in a long time or ever for that matter! 

Our dishwasher was looking pretty gunky and I finally decided I had to clean it and we were spending the day around the house watching football anyway. I googled and came up with some interesting ways to clean it! The first thing I found was to use Kool-Aid! Can you believe that? I have only ever drank Kool-Aid maybe a handful of times because that was never allowed at our house growing up. The amount of sugar is insane, so now I understand where my mom was coming from! But that aside, I trust Real Simple. They have yet to steer me wrong, so I figured I'd try this method. It seemed to work well. It definitely cleaned up a few areas and made the dishwasher smell fresh. It didn't smell badly before, but now it has a fresh lemon scent when I open it. 

Before I tried the Kool-Aid method, I spent 30 minutes scrubbing certain extra gunky areas with a toothbrush. I used baking soda and water paste that was ever so simple to make. I think that was a key factor in the cleaning process too. Then I removed the silverware baskets and the lid/wine glass holders (I don't know what these are called, but they came with the dishwasher and I use them to hold wine glasses upright and for sippy cup lids. I soaked those in a HOT water, baking soda and vinegar combo. It was random but seemed to work. I also scrubbed certain gunky areas of all 6 items as well. While those were soaking, I poured two cups of vinegar into the dishwasher and then I ran it on a antibacterial setting. Then right after that was finished, I started a regular dish load (empty) and used the Kool-Aid! I am amazed by this process and think the Kool-Aid will be a new monthly or bi-monthly procedure to keep everything clean and fresh! Happy Wednesday friends! If your dishwasher needs cleaning, try this method! :)


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Zucchini Lasagna

Hooray for the weekend! This has been a weekend full of catching up around the house, cleaning, baking, cooking and all being under the same roof at the same time which is a rare occasion unfortunately. It has been so nice and much needed. I made a delicious dinner Saturday night that I just had to tell you all about! Zucchini lasagna! It was delicious. Very time consuming with making the sauce, etc! I was reminded again why I can't seem to get dinners like this on the table during the week since my kiddos require most of my attention and my hubs is away. I don't think this would be great to make in advance mainly because of the watery factor of zucchini squash. Even after salting and grilling and blotting each piece, it is still very watery when/after cooking, so I am not sure this is a great make ahead meal. Though I am planning to attempt to freeze it, thaw and then bake it...but again it may be a problem with zucchini being a watery veggie. Will keep you posted! It was delicious and will definitely be in my meal rotation from now on (at least on the weekends!). I served a crusty sourdough bread with it and a simple lemony arugula salad with shaved parmesean. Really a light and yummy meal. Italian food can be light if you don't use actual pasta! This recipe is from one of my favorite meal websites Skinny Taste. This site has become a huge meal resource for me since I have been on this working out/watching what I eat regime. I love it and she uses a ton of zucchini which is one of my favorite veggies to cook and eat! She has amazing meals on there! Love it!

Another post to come on how I cleaned my dishwasher. I am fascinated by the method that I used!  It's the little things! :) Happy Sunday! I am off to spend some time with the fam and then off to celebrate a sweet friend's birthday with margs and shopping! 


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Busy Bees

Well, it's officially "fall." It's still 85 plus degrees here, with awful humidity, so I'm still thinking summer at this point. School started back last week, so we have been even more busy around here, as if that was even possible! This weekend was the first weekend in a long time that we had absolutely nothing going on. It was so nice to just sit and relax and enjoy each other. It came at a great time too because college football is here! Woohoo! While we relaxed a lot, I also worked quite a bit. I had taken a small break from taking orders...just needed some time off. I am now back in full swing and took this weekend as an opportunity to make some things for the little presidents. They get left in the dust a lot when I am swamped with orders, so I am trying to get a few things finished for them asap. :)

This sweet little shirt is for the little prez to wear when she watches the Texas Longhorns play. 
Hook 'em Horns! I love how it turned out. It will have a matching pair of shorts/pants, as soon as I get some more free time. :) Big brother has a shirt on the way as well!

This has been a LONG time coming. I have been wanting to make monogrammed wine/liquor totes for awhile now and again, I just haven't had time. These are the perfect host/hostess gift. A mongrammed tote filled with alcohol of some sort?! You can't go wrong! I have a feeling these are going to be a hot item!

Here is the finished product! This one has a leopard print pocket that you could add something special for the host...a wine stopper, bottle opener, etc! This turned out so cute. Seriously the perfect gift with a bottle of wine/liquor inside! I am so excited for the Christmas themed totes too. I have them all planned out! Expect lots of leopard, burlap and tartan plaid! :) There will most likely be a couple fall related totes as well! LOVE these!!!!!!

These pockets are so awesome!!! I am obsessed with them and thought adding a monogram was perfection.

I already have more of these in the works for my little guy. The possibilities are endless! He may only wear monogrammed pocket tees from now on! Ha! Loving this look! 
I plan to make myself a few tees too! :)

I was burning the midnight oil Saturday night working on all of this stuff, so Teddy was so excited and surprised when I showed him his shirt the next morning! 

He had to model it immediately. Love him.

Little miss R has been in desperate need of more bibs, so I hammered out a couple cute ones for her. Hoping to get a few more made this week. Teething is non-stop around here and the drool is insane...these bibs come in handy!

This is an order for place-mats and napkins. My son's school requires the kids to use place-mats each day for their lunch, so I make his and a friend ordered a set for her son. The picture is awful, but you get the idea. They turned out so cute. Random funny, Teddy said to me "oh, I really like the belly button fabric!" Belly button fabric being the polka dots! Haha! He is too funny!

Here are Teddy's sets. He picked the main fabrics and I picked coordinating fabric for the napkins. I actually need to make him one more so we have one for each day of school. As you can see, I haven't monogrammed Teddy's yet! At some point I will get to it! ;)

Pretty productive weekend here! Love that! Hope you all had a great weekend and have a happy Monday!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Backyard Baby-Q

Wow! This summer has flown by. I say that a lot, but really it has flown by. I can't believe school is about to start back up. It is crazy! It has been a whirlwind the past much to catch up on! First things first! I threw a "Backyard Baby-Q" for a good friend of mine, a couple weeks ago. We could not be more excited about this precious pink bundle she has on the way...this baby is a true miracle. When I found out she was prego, I knew that I had to host her shower and immediately the wheels were spinning in my head and I came up with the "Backyard Baby-Q" theme. I LOVE how it turned out. In true, Ashley fashion, I put a lot into the minor details, but those details are one of my favorite parts of this party. 

I started out with the theme of making everything mini. This was so much fun and really adorable. I used a lot of mason jars. Everything tastes better in a mason jar. Really. It's true! Try it!

There are a ton of details and pictures in this post! Enjoy!

These mini mac and cheese jars were a HUGE hit. I always use this recipe when I make homemade mac and cheese and it is always a favorite! I always add breadcrumbs on can add whatever kind you want, I add plain, Italian style, really whatever I first see when I open the cabinet! I typically use gluten free pasta and you can't tell a difference between that and regular pasta! All of the guests raved about this part of the meal. Love that!

Mini pulled pork sliders. These were to die for! They were so good! I used this recipe. As my hubs always says "You can't go wrong with a recipe from Uncle Bill!" A lot of our favorite recipes are Williams Sonoma recipes. I served the pork on King's Hawaiian Rolls. These rolls are always delish!

Don't you wish you could reach into the computer and grab one of these babies? I do! 

Here is my plate. The coleslaw was served in mini masons too. I loved how cute and "mini" it all looked. We served kettle chips too. Everything was so yummy. My mouth is watering going through pictures to write this post! Ha! 

Quite possibly my favorite thing about the shower! Pies in mason jars! These were seriously amazing. They are my new go to dessert for new moms, new neighbors, you name it! These might be a part of my Christmas gifts for friends and neighbors too (added to the cinnamon rolls that we give out). I am keeping batches in the freezer too for unexpected dinner company! These are AWESOME! After googling, I realized I was not such a genius and lots of others have made pies in mason jars which is great because I found some useful tips and advice! :) I used this recipe for the crust (their butter only recipe. Crisco grosses me out.) but used taller jars. They have a great explanation about the freezing method too. This saved oodles of time the weekend of the shower! A couple friends and I made these pies a week prior to the shower. They were then frozen and we baked them the morning of. It worked great! We used a random mixture of apples and blueberries, sugar and a bit of flour for the filling(it did not come from the above site). The crumb topping was made of brown sugar, gluten free oats, flour and butter. 

We topped them with vanilla ice cream and OMG they were even better. The pies were still warm from the oven and the ice cream melted into them. Heaven in a jar!

They looked so adorable on the tray as we delivered them to each guest! Seriously loved these cute pies! Did I mention that yet?! 

This is the drink table. I loved how it turned out. I kept it simple with Mojitos, Fauxjitos (for the prego) and water with oranges, lemons and mint. Mojitos are our signature drink at our house. We make them a lot and they are always a crowd fav! My hubs is the real "Mojito Master,"so I learned how to make them from him.

We usually make the mojitos ahead of time and put them in mason jars when we have a party or take them to a party. My poor hubs has spent too many parties slaving away making these delicious concoctions, so this is a great step to alleviate any stress mid party. All the guests have to do is shake up the drink, take off the lid, add a straw and tada, they are set!

I put a vintage golf ball basket on the ground near the drink table for guests to throw their lids. It worked fabulously! 

 Here is I am with the mommy-to-be! 

 I had a cute little message on my pantry doors. I am loving having the chalkboard on them. More to come on how I did that project and all the great uses I have for these doors now!

Next up are the tables. I loved how they turned out too! The black chargers underneath the plates are painted with chalkboard paint. Such a fun idea! I know I will use these again and again! Basic white table cloths are covered with a burlap topper. I just bought yardage of burlap and this worked great!

Each place setting had silverware wrapped with twine and an "eat" tag, along with some flower seeds to grow your own. I thought these were a fun and easy favor! The checkered napkins I used are these amazing things! Have you seen these? Napkins on a roll! They are awesome and reusable! Woohoo!

One more close up of the place settings. I didn't give myself a favor. :)

Here is a close up of the favors before I put them on the place settings, they each had a sweet hang tag that said "grow."

The tables.

Sunflowers in huge mason jars were the perfect centerpieces! Sunflowers are such pretty and happy flowers! I love them and they are so perfect for a "Backyard Baby-Q!"

 And last but not least, we had a sweet book that my friend made for everyone to sign and give messages to the mommy and her precious baby girl. We also went together and gave her a gift certificate towards her newborn photo session. :) 

I so enjoyed this shower! It turned out to be a beautiful day and it was so much fun to prepare such a special day for such a special friend. Happy Monday friends!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

What's been going on!

Wow! Can you believe we are halfway through July already?! I am shocked, but, as you can tell by my lack of posting, we have been living and really enjoying life! The little presidents have kept me extremely busy, especially now that the little miss is on the move! We have had so much fun lately. Here are a few things we have been up to!

We have done lots of swimming! They both love this little pool! Best $30 I have spent lately!

My baby girl turned ONE! I can't even believe it has been a year! They always say it flies by, but with the second child, it flies by even faster, which I didn't think was even possible!

 Little miss took her first unassisted steps on July 4th! She is progressively taking more steps each day...but hey, crawling is her fastest mode of getting places, so she may stick with that for awhile longer, which is fine by me! 

She got a stroller for her birthday and spends a lot of her time pushing her dolly around. 
 We are definitely blessed with two kids who LOVE the water! I really love to watch them in the water. They both enjoy it so much! Little miss got her first taste of the ocean this weekend! She loved it, despite how cold the water was! I was surprised because the pool she takes swimming lessons in is so warm, but she takes after her brother and seems to love the water despite the temperature! 

Trying to keep up with brother...her favorite pastime. :)

Of course after all the swimming, everyone needed some snacks!

We have enjoyed using our Lego Land passes! This little guy loves the water slides!

I'm so lucky to have a handyman living in my machine had a malfunction a few weeks ago and this little cutie tried to fix it!

We have enjoyed some dinners out, just the four of us! 

Done some kissing. :)

And had our first taste of ice cream! 

 Life is good. Hope you are all having a happy summer, my friends! 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Best Day

I have been thinking a lot about the words of Taylor Swift's song, "The Best Day" lately. My sister introduced to me to it when Teddy and I were visiting her a few weeks ago and it's so powerful to me. Here are the lyrics...

The Best Day -Taylor Swift

"I'm five years old, it's getting cold, I've got my big coat on
I hear your laugh and look up smiling at you, I run and run
Past the pumpkin patch and the tractor rides, look now, the sky is gold
I hug your legs and fall asleep on the way home

I don't know why all the trees change in the fall
But I know you're not scared of anything at all
Don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away
But I know I had the best day with you today

I'm thirteen now and don't know how my friends could be so mean
I come home crying and you hold me tight and grab the keys
And we drive and drive until we found a town far enough away
And we talk and window shop 'til I've forgotten all their names

I don't know who I'm gonna talk to now at school
But I know I'm laughing on the car ride home with you
Don't know how long it's gonna take to feel okay
But I know I had the best day with you today

I have an excellent father, his strength is making me stronger
God smiles on my little brother, inside and out, he's better than I am
I grew up in a pretty house and I had space to run
And I had the best days with you

There is a video I found from back when I was three
You set up a paint set in the kitchen and you're talking to me
It's the age of princesses and pirate ships and the seven dwarfs
And Daddy's smart and you're the prettiest lady in the whole wide world

And now I know why the all the trees change in the fall
I know you were on my side even when I was wrong
And I love you for giving me your eyes
For staying back and watching me shine
And I didn't know if you knew, so I'm takin' this chance to say
That I had the best day with you today"

This song has really stuck with me lately and really anytime I listen to the song I tear up and sometimes just cry. It just reminds me that kids don't even care what you are doing, just as long as you are together, they can have the best day. I think really this goes for everyone. It's so easy to let all of life's stresses and being busy get in the way. Family days are the days that count and really the days all of us will remember most. I can almost guarantee I won't be thinking about the week that I was swamped with work, ten years from now, but I will remember these great days where everyone was happy and the day was just the best. Sunday (and really this whole past weekend for that matter) was the best day and it reminded me of the song. We don't get out a ton as a family for long periods of time, due to the prez's nap schedules. She's really not great at on the go napping (meaning she refuses to sleep), so I try to steer clear of things that will interfere with nap time...otherwise we all pay the price later that day and have decided it's just not worth it. As she gets closer to one, I know we will drop the morning nap at some point in the next few months, so I'm not too stressed over it. Just a stage of life. :) 

This past Sunday, one of my best friends' daughter was baptized. The service began right when nap time would normally begin, but this is something we just could not miss. We are family to each other. So, we headed out early Sunday morning, dressed up (which was so rare we all get dressed up these days) and ready for a long day away from home. It was just such a great day. We had a couple minor hiccups along the way, but nothing awful. I had to pick Reagan up from the church nursery because her "stranger danger" was in full force, but I actually figured that would happen. Also, she only slept maybe 40 minutes the whole day. But, she still so happy and content that we didn't even notice. She enjoyed the day as much as we all did. 

Teddy had an amazing time. Being the only kid under 7 that day, besides the babies, I still knew he'd have a great time. He played and played with good friends of ours', who really enjoyed their time with him. It is such a special thing to see lifelong friends enjoy your kids and your kids enjoy them. He is such a happy kid and was totally in his element. He actually didn't want to go home and asked a few times this week, if he could go back. :) He loves when we are all together as a family and so do I.  The hubs and I were laying in bed that night looked at each other and both said "it was such a good day!" It was a day I will always remember and it's not like it was much different than any other day (we have lots of good days like this), but it just sticks out in my mind and I love that I'll always have it as a precious memory. :)

Happy Wednesday friends!