Friday, June 27, 2014

Star Spangled Cookie Sandwiches

I came across these on Pinterest and just had to make them! The 4th of July is already coming up NEXT weekend - wow Summer is flying by! We are having a BBQ with some friends over, so I thought I would test run these cookies out. They are delicious, easy to make, and you can snack on the left over frosting and cake pieces!

Kyle and I have also joined Team Red, White & Blue, a non-profit organization that connects the lives of veteran's through physical and social activities. We have a 5k race tomorrow with the team where we hope to bring more awareness and recruit more members at our team table. Kyle and I have also volunteered to be on the Colorado Springs staff, he is the Hiking Leader and I am the Social Director - I get to plan get togethers! We really like how we can get involved and include our entire family. I will post pictures of us running as a family wearing "the Eagle" (Kyle will be pushing the boys in the stroller!). We encourage those who are prior or current Active Duty to reach out to your Team RWB's in your local area, they are nationwide and sponsor great events that you can be apart of.

Also, Team RWB is being sponsored by Bandaid, Jell-O, and Kraft Marshmallows. A portion of the proceeds goes towards Team RWB and other Veteran Organizations. So go out and get some "Star-Mallows" for the 4th of July!

Support Team RWB!

Star Spangled Cookie Sandwiches

- 1 box red velvet cake mix
- 1 box blue velvet cake mix, I used a lemon cake mix and 1 tsp. of blue food coloring to make blue
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a bowl, mix your red velvet cake mix, 1 egg, 1/3 cup milk, and 1/4 cup vegetable oil together. Batter should be sort of thick. Spread your batter on a parchment paper lined baking sheet to be about 1/2 inch thick. Bake for 12 minutes.
3. In a separate bowl, mix your blue velvet cake (or yellow cake with food coloring), 1 egg, 1/3 cup milk, and 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Spread your batter on a parchment paper lined baking sheet to be about 1/2 inch thick. Bake for 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
4. Let your cookie sheets cool completely and using a star shaped cookie cutter, cut 14-15 stars out.
5. Make your frosting and just frost a red star and place a blue star on top.

- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp. vanilla

1. Beat all ingredients together.

 Blue and Red Batters

 Batters spread out on parchment paper

 Baked Batters


 Star Spangled Cookie Sandwich

Sooooo good!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Crockpot Beer Chicken

I've been really wanting to try "Beer Can Chicken" on the grill, but since my husband works the grill and doesn't get home until late, I decided to make my own tipsy chicken in the crockpot! The chicken is super moist and delicious, although I think it will have less of a vinegar-y taste if you use an Amber beer, I used a Pale Ale. My chicken was 3.5 lbs and took about 3.5 hours to cook on HIGH.

Crockpot Beer Chicken

- 3.5-4 lb. whole chicken
- butter
- beer
- 1 cup of water
- BBQ rub, I used one by McCormick Grill Mates
- 1 lemon cut into 4 slices

1. Wash your chicken well and dry it with paper towels.
2. Rub butter all over your chicken.
3. Place lemon slices on the bottom of your crockpot and put chicken on top. Smear BBQ rub all over your chicken.
4. Pour beer and water. Make sure the liquid is touching your chicken, if not, add more water.
5. Cook on HIGH for 3.5-4 hours.

Grill Mates Memphis Pit BBQ Rub and beer

 Chicken on bed of lemon slices with BBQ rub

 Chicken in beer/water bath

 Cooked chicken after 3.5 hours

Tipsy Chicken


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Steve's Chocolate PB2 Muffins

We have a close friend who was in an accident about six weeks ago. We go and visit him every weekend to see how much progress he has made, and I must say his recovery is remarkable. We were pleased to find out that he can now eat real food and loves chocolate peanut butter muffins - so I made some for him tonight! We are constantly thinking about Steve and his family and will continue to support them in any way we can. "Team Steve Strong."

Steve's Chocolate PB2 Muffins

- 1 2/3 cup flour plus 1 tbsp.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. butter, softened
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2/3 cup skim milk
- 1/2 cup PB2
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan, (this recipe made 17 muffins). 
2. Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, PB2, and butter until clumpy.
3. Add wet ingredients: applesauce, vanilla, eggs, and skim milk.
4. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Fill muffin liners 2/3 full and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

DIY Cabinet Staining

Phase 1: My husband and I have been wanting to update our kitchen for a few years now, and since he's in town this summer - we are doing it! It took six days for us to remove all our cabinets and sand paper them with two kinds of sand paper (120 grit and 220 grit), use a wood conditioner, stain the cabinets (we stained ours twice), and seal the stain with Polyurethane. Don't forget allowing the wood to dry at least 4 hours in between stains and the Polyurethane. I'm sure we could have done this process quicker if we didn't have to worry about little hands touching the base of the cabinetry throughout the day. So much of our work was spent at night during bedtime. But we got it done and are so pleased with the results!

Phase 2: We have already ordered, paid for, and had our kitchen professionally measured for new granite counter tops! They should be ready for installation within two weeks! We also picked out a new sink and faucet for our new kitchen - the Delta Ashton faucet.

Phase 3: We have purchased 200 white subway tiles (it shouldn't take that many) to put up our own backsplash once the granite countertops are installed. We will be doing this ourselves and will most likely rent a tile cutting tool from Lowe's. I will include a step-by-step process for that once we do it. We also want to add hardware handles to the cabinets with a stainless steel or brushed nickel finish.

Phase 1: Staining Cabinets


- sand paper, 120 medium grit and 220 fine grit
- stain sponge
- gloves
- paint brushes
- paint thinner (to remove Polyurethane from your paint brush)
- Wood Conditioner (pre-stain)
- Stain, we used MinWax brand in color Provincial #211
- paper towels
- cover to protect your work area
- painter's tape

1. Wash all cabinets with soap and water.
2. Remove cabinet you are working on and place in a spot to sandpaper (we placed a protection cover in our garage to work on). Sandpaper cabinet with 120 sandpaper, and then go over with 220 sandpaper. Wipe away dust with damp paper towel.
3. Apply your Wood Conditioner with a paint brush and allow to soak into the wood for at least 5 minutes and wipe away with a damp paper towel.
4. Apply your stain thinly with stain sponge or clean rag. Be sure to wear gloves, as the stain will dye your hands. (Follow instruction for stain, as ours required us to go over the stain with a damp paper towel 5-15 minutes after application).
5. Allow stain to dry according to stain instructions.
6. Apply more coats of stain as needed to get desired shade.
7. When you are done staining and cabinet is dry, seal your stain with Polyurethane using a paintbrush.
8. Allow to dry according to Polyurethane instructions.
9. * Repeat on the other side of your cabinet. (We did not stain the insides of our cabinets because the stain difference was not very significant. But if we had stained them darker or white, they would look pretty funny not staining the insides as well.)
10. **When staining your stand still cabinetry that you can't remove, be sure to protect your walls and appliances with painter's tape.
11. Reattach your cabinetry!

 Sand paper cabinet with 120 grit and 220 grit sand paper

 Apply Wood Conditioner (pre-stain) with paintbrush, wipe away with damp paper towel after 5 min

 MinWax Stain: Provincial

 Applying stain with gloves and stain sponge (Make sure to mix your stain before each application!)

Left: 1 coat stain, Right: 2 coats of stain

Apply Polyurethane with a paintbrush to seal your stain. (Use paint thinner to clean your brush because it will dry sticky/goopy onto your paintbrush and ruin it.)

 Our kitchen was a disaster...

 Protect your wall/appliances with painters tape!

Visible change in stain from the old wood on the left, and new stain on the right!

Kitchen complete (minus island)

 LOVE it!

 Kyle sandpapering the island

Island complete!

Top: Before stain, Bottom: After stain


Friday, June 20, 2014

Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake

I haven't made a casserole type meal in a while, and this was easy and super delicious! What an easy meal! I also made a side of cornbread to go with it.

Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake

- 8 oz. rigatoni, cooked according to package
- 3 cups of cooked chicken, cubed
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1 can Italian style diced tomatoes
- 1 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 8 oz. chive and onion cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place olive oil and onions in a large baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.
2. While the onions are baking, combine chicken, diced tomatoes, spinach, cream cheese, salt, pepper together in a large bowl.
3. Add onions to mixture.
4. Add noodles to casserole dish, and place chicken mixture on top.
5. Sprinkle cheese on top of everything.
6. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Bake additional 10 minutes uncovered or until casserole bubbles.

Chicken/spinach mixture

Casserole evolution: noodles, chicken mixture, cheese on top, baked casserole

Dig in!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

DIY 4th of July Wreath and Mason Jars

Good morning! I have been crafting again and prepping for 4th of July festivities! (Yes, I know it's June!) I have for you a cute 4th of July wreath where I used burlap ribbon and twine to tie it together from Walmart. I also made some American Flag Mason Jars that are a perfect Summertime lantern centerpiece when you light candles in them.


- metal wreath form
- twine/pipe cleaners
- burlap ribbon

1. Tie burlap ribbon with twine loosely around your wreath frame.
2. Add more burlap ribbon to create a contrast.
3. Make a bow and tie that on there!

Burlap Wreath

American Flag Mason Jars

- 2 Mason Jars
- Acrylic Paint
- sponge brush
- painter's tape
- stickers
- sandpaper
- tea lights

1. Place stickers of your choice all over jars, so when removed the light from a candle shines through.
2. Paint your jars with white acrylic paint, or Mason Jar glass paint. Allow to dry.
3. Cut stripes/stars out of painter's tape and place on your jars.
4. Paint your jars again with red or blue. Allow to dry completely.
5. Remove painters tape and stickers. 
6. Distress paint with sand paper.
7. Light candles inside your jars.

Steps to paint Mason Jars

 Finished Jars

Lantern Centerpieces!

I even made one using chalkboard paint instead of white paint


Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Running Journey

I love to run. I love that I can run by myself at the gym with my kiddos in child care. I love that my husband supports me and will watch the boys on the weekend so I can run by myself. I love that my husband will throw the boys in the stroller and run with me (while pushing the boys).

My journey to run more and train started this past January. My goal was to build up to running TEN consecutive miles and run the Garden of the Gods 10-miler. Now this is not just any 10 mile run, it is extremely hilly with hills that progress for up to 1.5 miles of your race. You gain in altitude and being here in CO where we are already a mile in the sky, is a big deal. So I gave myself the goal of wanting to complete the race in 90 minutes, or a 9 minute mile pace. This past Sunday was the race and there are a LOT of amazing runners here in CO and I finished in 90 minutes - I could not be more proud of myself!

I will tell you that I have also lost all that baby weight, and it took me a good year to do so. I also have healthier eating habits, have more energy, and feel like a stronger mom for my boys. I did not use supplements, body wraps, or pay for any type of workout regimen other than my gym membership. I was self motivated and did what was conducive around my busy schedule as a stay at home mom. My goal was to work up to running 10 miles every week (not in one day but within 7 days). Some weeks I could accomplish this goal, some weeks I only had time to make it to 6-7 miles. Last month I proceeded my goal of 40 miles that month to 50.7 miles! No way I could have run that much back in January!

I am extremely proud of where I am mentally with being able to run long distances and look forward to running a half marathon this Summer and joining a Women's Running Group this Fall. My husband and I also recently joined Team Red, White, Blue and look forward to 'wearing the Eagle' in upcoming events with that team. Nothing motivates me more than being surrounded by those who love to run and push themselves!

On to the numbers... My goal was to be a size 4 and to weigh in the 130s again (pregnancy weight before Palmer was 135 lbs, and I gained 40 lbs.). I am happy to say that I am now a size 4 and weigh 137 lbs. It took a lot of hard work and sweat to get where I am today. Of course I would like to be a little more toned in the baby belly area and thighs, but I will get there. I am extremely pleased and look forward to continuing my running journey!

 Mile 6 of the Garden of the Gods 10-mile

Headed into the finish line! (with a cramp... ouch!)

With my little dudes!


 Family picture at the Color Me Rad Run


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Father's Day Gift DIY

What to buy the dad in your life who has everything?! I saw a few cute picture ideas on Pinterest and decided to have the boys color a poster for their daddy and me take a picture of them being cute in front of it... Did I mention how hard it is to take a picture of two moving targets??? So my picture turned out a little blurry in the end, but I'll take it! Props to those out there who photograph children!

We used a piece of butcher paper and markers and I bought a frame for $5. I just had the picture printed at Walmart to fit a 5" x 7" frame. My youngest son ate the tip of a few markers... next time I'll use crayons. We will probably head out to the mountains to go camping as a family. Enjoy your Father's Day this Sunday!

Busy with their project

Palmer eating markers and Kinley coloring

The Sign


 Framed picture for Daddy!


Monday, June 9, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Wraps

Since we've been re-doing our kitchen, I have been trying to make 'easy' dinners so I don't add too much more to the mess. I made these last week, but left some chicken without the buffalo sauce for the kids to eat (since it's a little spicy). You can also add romaine lettuce on your wraps instead of the broccoli slaw. If you are not a huge blue cheese fan you can eat your wraps with just the buffalo sauce or add some Ranch dressing instead! My boys loved dipping their chicken in the Ranch.

Ingredients Buffalo Chicken Wraps

- 2 chicken breasts baked and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/4 cup hot sauce
- 1 cup broccoli slaw
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
- 6-8 tortillas

1. Saute broccoli slaw and celery in a pan with olive oil for about 5 minutes.
2. Mix chicken and hot sauce together.
3. To make wraps, place broccoli slaw mix, chicken, and blue cheese dressing in a tortilla.

Ingredients Blue Cheese Dressing

- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp. mayo
- 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

1. Mix all ingredients together and place in refrigerator to keep cool until ready to serve.


 Blue Cheese Dressing

 Broccoli slaw and celery

 Buffalo Chicken Wrap Fixings

Buffalo Chicken Wraps