Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Shepherd's Pie Recipe

One of my favorite meals is Shepherd's Pie. I used to get it at this little Irish pub in town, but they closed and I was left to make my own. I looked up many recipes and try a bunch of them. I took pieces from the ones I liked and made my own and I thought I would share it with you all. This is husband and toddler approved.


Serves 4 - 6
Shepherd's Pie Recipe


1 pound ground beef or ground lamb
1 large onion
1 cup vegetables (I used chopped carrots and peas)
2 - 1 1/2 lbs red potatoes (about 4 medium ones)
6 tbl butter
1 cup beef broth
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
pepper, garlic powder, onion salt, salt and paprika (or your favorite seasonings)

Shepherd's Pie Ingredients


1. Peel and chop your potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Boil your potatoes in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).
3. While your potatoes are cooking, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet.
4. Cook your onions and carrots for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add your peas in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Take your veggies out, put in a bowl and cover with foil.
Shepherd's Pie veggie mix

5. Add your ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain your fat (important) and add in your seasonings. I just eyeball it to my liking.
6. Add your veggies back into the meat. Add in Worcesterchire sauce, half a cup of beef broth and stir. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes.
Shepherd's Pie meat and veggie mix

7. While the mixture is cooking, make a flour paste of 1/2 tablespoon flour and 1/8 cup cold water).
Flour paste

8. Add an additional 1/2 cup of beef broth and make a well in the center of your beef and veggie mixture. Add in your flour paste and mix it all together. Let it simmer for a few minutes to cook out the paste and make more of a gravy like texture.
9. Mash your potatoes and add in about 4 tablespoons of butter, some milk (not necessary) and season to taste with salt and pepper.
10. Place meat and veggie mixture into a pan (I recommend an 8 x 8 foil pan for less clean-up). Spread it out evenly and top with mashed potatoes. Spread your potatoes out evenly. You can use a fork to make some peaks or just leave it smooth. Sprinkle with paprika.
Shepherd's Pie meat and veggie mix
Shepherd's Pie

11. Cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Broil for the last few minutes to get a gold brown topping.
Shepherd's Pie

12. Serve and enjoy!
Shepherd's Pie

It may not plate beautifully, but it is so flavorful and delicious.
Shepherd's Pie Recipe
Monday, January 30, 2017


So there isn't much to say about this weekend. We laid low and tried to see if my children's colds were progressing. Spoiler: they are.

Saturday morning we went to breakfast and then went to Target. We needed to get some summery clothes for our Mexico trip and Lindsay said they had the best toddler bathing suits. She was right. We got the girls each a new suit and I can't wait to scoop up more of them. We took a walk around the block to get some energy out from the girls and then put them down for their naps.

After naps, we took another walk, but this time the girls were in their wagon all bundled up. After a walk, we gathered everything up and headed to my sisters house for dinner. Way back in September, they had a housewarming party. Well the girls were super cranky and we didn't get to stay for very long. It was a total bummer because they smoked a ton of ribs and had lots of yummy food there. Well we finally made up for missing most of their party and went over to their house Saturday evening for a rib feast. They smoked ribs, made roasted red potatoes and asparagus. The girls dined on mac n cheese.

We had so much food. Seriously, I couldn't stop eating the ribs. Sooooooo good. We drank some wine and chased the girls around. They were getting into everything, but had the best time.

We came home, put the girls to bed, at 8 pm which hasn't happened in a long time. We watched some shows and headed to bed early. But the girls had other ideas. Their coughs got worse and they were up all night. Sutton's cough was the worse out of the two and Avery was super concerned for her sister. So anytime Sutton would have coughing fits, Avery would cry out for us to check on her sister. This went on ALL night. We maybe slept 2 hours and that is being generous.

Sunday we had breakfast with my in-laws and brought the girls home to relax. My in-laws came over to spend some time with the girls and to check on their well being. I ran to the grocery store and to the children's store to get another paci that my kids can't live without. We are so close to weaning them from the paci (they never have it at daycare), but just haven't pulled the trigger yet. Ugh.

The girls took a short nap and we cuddled on the couch watching The Break Up (on tv so it wasn't too bad). Soon it was time for dinner and bath time for the girls. After baths, we hung out for awhile before doing a breathing treatment and putting the girls to bed. There was a lot of coughing from them, but not nearly as bad as the night before.
mommy and daughter
Post nap snuggles are the best

I made Rory and I dinner while he packed. Yes, Rory is out of town for work and I am single mommying it this week and I am super nervous with how the girls colds are progressing. Ugh. Not a good time for Rory to go on a trip.

We started to watch the last episode of Parenthood, but the internet kept messing up and wouldn't stream. So we watched the season finale of The Affair and went to bed shortly after.

The first part of the night, the girls were up a lot, but then they slept very well after.

But this momma is tired and hoping their colds don't get worse. We may have a pediatrician appointment in our near future. Lord help me.

Hope you all have a good start to your week!

I am linking up with Biana from B Loved Boston.
Friday, January 27, 2017

Valentine's Day Gift Guide

I can't believe we are almost through January. January has had its ups and downs, and I am happy to (almost) welcome in a new month. February brings in the Super Bowl (Go Falcons!), my sisters birthday, Valentine's Day, my parents anniversary and my trip back east. I am so looking forward to a fresh start and hopefully no sickness this month.

For Friday favorites, I thought I would share some great Valentine's gifts for her. Obviously these are things that I would LOVE to have in my closet or in my life. AKA send this to my husband.

Valentine's Day Gift Guide for her

One | Two | Three | Four
Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine

One. The heart sweatshirt is currently sold out, but I hope they restock or someone else carries them. Anyone know if another store does? I need this sweatshirt.

Two. I love everything pineapple and with my vacation coming up in 49 days, this iphone case would be so cute. Plus I won't be getting a new phone until the next one comes out which is about the time when I usually want a new case. Win win.

Three. I love racer back lace bralettes. They pair under so many things and are just so comfy (if you find the right ones). This one gets good reviews and has the front clasps.

Four. I love this Love cuff. It would be perfect for work or date night.

Five. I love socks and love themed socks. I would wear these all year long.

Six. How cute are these arrow and red heart earrings. Did you notice the top was an arrow?

Seven. This necklace spins and you read Love. Simple, dainty and cute.

Eight. I am not a huge red fan, but these shoes are so cute. Not sure how much use I would get out of them, but I love the sparkle heart!

Nine. I was in Target the other day and I saw Essie Gel Polish. I was intrigued since I used to get gel nails. I saw this color and I wanted to buy it so badly. But you need the Top Coat as well, so I said I would wait. Have any of you tried Essie's gel polish? What do you think of it?

I hope you all have a great weekend!!

I am linking up with April, A Little Bit of Everything, Karli, Meet @ the Barre and Cup of Tea.
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Confessional Thursday

It's Thursday which means it is time for another round of confessions. Grab the button, confess, and come back here to link up.

grab button for Sparkles and Lattes
<div class="sparkles-and-lattes-button" style="width: 250px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow"> <img src="" alt="Sparkles and Lattes" width="250" height="250" /> </a> </div>


/ that after being so far behind on my blog posts, I sat down yesterday and finished up a lot of draft posts and created a few new ones. It felt so good to focus on my blog and get ahead a little bit.

/ that I still haven't looked into a new blog design. I really want a new one, but the thought of either designing it myself or installing a pre-made one makes me cringe. It is so much work and then you have to add in a bunch of analytics and things like that. #sonotfun

/ that one of my least favorite things to do (top three) is to clean puke out of a car seat. You have to take everything apart (the car seat cover and free up your belts and buckles so they are easier to "hand" clean). I have had to do this twice in one week. Two different car seats in two different cars. One was milk puke and the other was chicken and "snack" puke. The smell was awful and it is no fun pulling chunks of food out of crevices. I don't wish that upon anyone. I would rather clean up the puke in the bed, carpet or anywhere. So nasty.
puke in the car seat
Poor sweet Avery

/ that I have also changed a bunch of nasty diapers in the last week. The stomach bug hit our house hard. Please NO MORE sickness in our house for the distant future.

/ that even though I am ahead on my blog posts, I am so far behind on my commenting. I promise you I am reading them and responding to them, but I just have to do it between working because when I am at home, I am tending to sick and/or crazy toddlers.

/ that I was not prepared for the terrible twos. With twins, it isn't twice the terrible, it is about twenty times the terrible. They will gang up on you. I may have cried a few times in the last couple days due to my kids being mean to me.

/ that between my surgery and my kids being sick, I have used soooo many sick days this month. Every time I build them up, something happens and bam, I am back down to just over a week of sick leave. Ugh.

/ that I may have a few online shopping carts full of Spring and Summer clothes for Mexico...for myself and my kids. Treat yourself.

/ that every morning that we get coffee, we go to my favorite place which happens to have an ice cream shop that just opened next to it. A rolled ice cream. I want and need this in my life. Good thing we go to coffee before they open or I would want it daily.
Rolled Mountain Creamery
Does this look like heaven?

/ that I hate being negative on this little space of mine, but sometimes life is full of crap or puke and I just want to real about it all. 

And that's about all for my weekly confessions. Tomorrow I have some Valentine favorites, so be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cravings - Vegetable Tortilla Stew Recipe

You know how I keep talking up the Cravings cookbook? It's because everything I have tried is seriously sooooo good. The spicy Italian sausage meatloaf, the chicken lettuce wraps and the vegetable tortilla stew. I am slowly making my way through the cookbook and I have nothing but good things to say about far.

I want to share the Vegetable Tortilla Stew with you all. Don't worry. I am giving all the credit to Chrissy. It is just too good not to share. Plus if you like this, you would love the whole cookbook.

I will mention that I did not make the tortilla strips. Her recipe calls for it, but I just didn't have the time nor did I want a pan of oil frying near children. I bought Fresh Gourmet Tortilla Strips Lightly Salted instead and they were very tasty.


from Cravings Cookbook by Chrissy Teigen

Serves 6 to 8


2 TBL vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 large jalapeno, finely diced including the seeds
2 TBL minced garlic
2 TBL chili powder
1 TBL ground cumin
1/2 TSP cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 15 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
2 15 oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked rice

Optional: avocado, cheddar or cotija cheese and tortilla strips
Vegetable Tortilla Stew Ingredients


1. In a stock/soup pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add in the onions, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for about 10 minutes. You want the onions to become translucent.
Vegetable Tortilla Stew Ingredients
Vegetable Tortilla Stew Ingredients

2. Add chili powder, cumin, cayenne, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and garlic. Cook for about two minutes until it becomes fragrant.
Vegetable Tortilla Stew Ingredients

3. Add in your petite diced tomatoes, black beans and chicken broth. Stir and bring to a boil.
Vegetable Tortilla Stew Ingredients

4. Reduce your heat to a low simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Add in your cooked rice and simmer for another 15 minutes.

6. Serve and add your avocado, cheese and tortilla strips. Enjoy!
Vegetable Tortilla Stew by Chrissy Teigen

It's healthy-ish (minus the cheese) and so flavorful.
Chrissy Teigen's Cravings Vegetable Tortilla Stew

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sick Day Part Two

I was going to go home last night and finish two different posts I had in my drafts, but then sickness struck again and now Avery has the stomach bug. She threw up in the car on the way home (you may have seen it on IG) and now we are at home nursing little miss back to normal.

Sutton has the stomach bug last Thursday and has slowly been recovering since then. I think she may be done. Fingers crossed. So now to let Aves get better.

So the point of this post is to basically say I will be back tomorrow with a recipe and hopefully a child that feels better.

Feel free to send wine to Rory and I. We could use it. Ha.
Monday, January 23, 2017

A Snowy and Cranky Weekend

My weekend sort of started on Thursday. We were driving into work and Sutton threw up in the car. We thought maybe it was just a gagging reaction, but were not sure. We turned around to head home and clean and her car seat up, but she threw up again right as we were pulling in the driveway.

We spent the next hour cleaning her and the car up and were not sure what was going on. But once she started complaining that her tummy hurt, we knew we were staying home for the day. My poor Sutton has had some sort of stomach bug off and on every since then.

So Thursday we stayed at home. Rory ran out to grab some coffee and coffee cake and I held down the fort with the little ones. Avery was full of energy and running around at a mile a minute and Sutton was pretty mellow. We didn't do much other than cuddle and watch a lot of Parenthood.
Sick toddler with the stomach bug
Sick, but still wanted to take selfies.
Be Happy cup of tea
Nap time view

I cooked the stuffed shells with a Caesar salad and wine. We spent the evening binging more Parenthood before calling it a night.

Friday Sutton seemed to be in good spirits and better, so we took the girls to daycare and worked. The drive in was crazy due to the storm overnight, but we made it in and no issues at daycare.

I left work early, well earlier than I was supposed to due to a holiday work week. I got my hair done and it felt so nice. My hairstylist was super happy with how my hair grew out. She said this cut was meant for me and she loves how thick and healthy my hair feels. She did a microtrim and color and I was feeling fresh and new. And since Rory and the girls were still at work and daycare, I went and had myself a late lunch at Wine and Cheese Board, one of my favorite lunch spots. I got the usual trio: petite grilled cheese, salad with fruits and nuts and the soup of the day which was vegetable and meatball. Everything was so good.
Wine and Cheese Board Trio Plate

Once I got home, I took Walter for a quick walk since the weather was coming back in. We got in a 30 minute walk right before it started raining which turned into snow.

Friday evening we had salads for dinner and settled in for more Parenthood.

Saturday morning, Rory headed off to go snowboarding (insert jealous emoji here) and my mother-in-law came over to help watch the girls. Around 10 am, I headed out to go to Target by myself, which never happens and to grab some dog food for Walter. While I was out, Rory called me saying he was headed down for the mountain and asked if I wanted to meet up for lunch. Why yes I do. We went to a cafe at the bottom of the mountain where I had another salad but this time with a mimosa.

Rory headed home to relieve his mom of babysitting duties and I headed to Lululemon in search of a sports bra, but didn't have great luck there. Total bummer.

Once I got home, my parents were already at my house to help me watch the girls. Remember the surgery I had a couple weeks ago? Well I can't pick up my girls for 3 1/2 weeks, so anytime Rory wants to go out, someone has to come help me out. It is hard, but we are almost through it.

My parents and I played with the girls a lot during the Nevada basketball game. Nevada lost which was the first loss of the season at home. #sucks

After Rory got home, we all chatted a bit before my parents headed out for dinner. We fed the girls, ordered a pizza and settled in for more Parenthood. I seriously love Parenthood and we are slowly making our way through each season. It is one of my favorite shows, most definitely.

Sunday morning we woke up to some snow and another 14 inches predicted to hit us. Well the predictions were wrong and it was just cloudy and gloomy out until 4 pm when it started to snow again.

We were stuck inside most of the day. Sutton was having stomach issues again and everyone was getting stir crazy. The only time I left was to go to the grocery store. I was supposed to go to my friends going away party, but I had two crazy, cranky and moody toddlers running around the house. I felt too guilty leaving them with Rory when they were a handful. I am not putting this lightly, they were terrors last night and it was just too much to leave a sick Sutton and a crazy Avery with their dad alone. So hopefully I can see my friend before he heads to England.

We watched football all day even know the games were super boring. Seriously boring. But at least we know who is going to the Super Bowl and who I am rooting for. Go Falcons!!!

I was supposed to have dinner out at the going away party, so I had to make due and break out the frozen potstickers for a quick and simple dinner for Rory and I. Glamorous right?!

We watched more Parenthood while the snow kept falling and falling.

We woke to about 6 to 7 inches and had to shovel at 5 am. We were told to come in a little late and take our time on the roads, so we did that.

Now we are at work and the girls are at daycare.

How was your weekend?

I am linking up with Biana from B Loved Boston.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Confessional Thursday

It's Thursday which means it is time for Confessional Thursday. Many of you ladies said you love having the link up, so we will keep it. Grab the button, confess and come back here to link up.

grab button for Sparkles and Lattes
<div class="sparkles-and-lattes-button" style="width: 250px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow"> <img src="" alt="Sparkles and Lattes" width="250" height="250" /> </a> </div>


/ that people who order complex or "high maintenance" drinks at coffee shops bug me. I don't mind it at Starbucks because I see and hear it so much, but if you are at a local shop and you order a high maintenance drink I will give you the stink eye. Needless to say, my husband got the stink eye a couple times from me this weekend. He ordered a "high maintenance" drink from the local coffee shop and they forgot to make his order. Then when they realized it, they took forever to make it because someone had never heard of it. Ugh.

/ that I am making it a priority to schedule at least one date night a month. Last year we got lazy towards the end of the year, but we have already had two date nights this year! Reconnecting with my husband and getting back to the basics is what it is about. It is the foundation of your relationship.

/ that I love and hate this age in the toddler stage. I love it because my girls are starting to talk up a storm, but hate it because sometimes they still don't know how to articulate something to us, so they get frustrated and cry/kick/scream. I wish they could tell me what they wanted instead of throwing a fit. #momproblems

/ that I got this post done early which is saying a lot since I haven't been on top of my posting game lately. I blame January and the New Year.

/ that I am really jealous of my husband getting to snowboard while I can't. I know it was my decision to have this surgery and I have to wait it out. But why did mother nature decide to dump all her white stuff this month instead of next month or the month after. January is usually drier and seasonally warmer. Ugh. Jealousy is ugly, but I have it right now.

/ that I got really mad at my husband last week cream. Yep. I never eat dessert, ok I rarely eat dessert and I wanted ice cream. I told him I was going to have some that night and he went and took basically the last of it leaving a partial scoop. I buy him ice cream all the time and he eats it all the time. When I say I am going to have it once in about three months (or more), lay off the ice cream. So glad I got that out. Ha.

/ that I fell into a rabbit hole of weight loss surgery IGs and so much more. So crazy to see transformations and how hard it was lose the weight. I was intrigued by them and now I just can't stop. It came up in my explorer and once I clicked one, it led to so many others.

/ that I was blog reading and saw cupcakes and now I can't get cupcakes out of my head. And I am too lazy to bake some tonight. Ha.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January Currently

I had a totally different post in mind for today, but I didn't get all the photos taken for it, so that will have to wait for another day (soon). So in the meantime, I am going to do a January Currently.

What We are Eating This Week

Monday - Date night sushi
Tuesday - Vegetable Tortilla Stew (from my Cravings cookbook)
Wednesday - Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
Thursday - Stuffed Shells with a Caesar Salad
Friday - Slow Cooker Ribs with a BBQ Sauce from Kansas City, Rice and a Salad
Saturday - Some Sort of Take-out
Sunday - Dinner at The Depot for our friends going away party

What I am Reminiscing About

Seeing my best friend for the first time since June.
When we left for date night and Avery said, Bye Guys. She loves saying Hey Guys when she walks into a room.
The amazing sushi we had on Monday. Seriously this new place was soooooo good.
College days and the impending move of one of my best guy friends.

What We Have Been Up To

Going on date nights, being snowed in from three massive storms, having surgery, celebrating my girls turning 2 and cooking in my new kitchen!

What I am Dreading

This next snow storm heading our way this weekend. It means another weekend inside which means stir crazy toddlers. I love the snow, but keep it in the mountains and not on the valley floor.

What I am Working On

I have a posts coming your way featuring the cutest custom print for my twin girls. I searched for sister and twin quotes and customized it to my liking and to my girls. I can't wait to get it framed and put up in their room. I am in love and it is in pink and gold....the theme of my girls room. Stay tuned.

What I am Excited About

Let's see, I am excited about: seeing Matt before he moves overseas, hearing the new words my girls are learning everyday and getting my hair done on Friday.

What I am Watching/Reading

The Bachelor and let me just say that I love all the drama. Corrine is such a B. I am watching The Affair, but this season is just sort of weird. I can't stand Helen anymore. I hope it turns around for the better. Grey's is back this week and I am excited. Last season sucked, but this season is better. I just can't stop watching it. Been watching since season 1. Still making our way through Parenthood and loving it.

I am reading What Shew Knew (it's on sale for $1.99) and so far it is good. I am almost half way through the book.

What I am Listening To

Nothing new really. Just the same old stations on Pandora.

What I am Wearing

I bought a few more sweaters this weekend at the Gap sale and I am super excited to wear them. They were all under $20 each with free shipping. I couldn't pass it up. I wore my new Pearl and Monroe sweater this weekend and it is so comfy. So in love with it.
Pearl and Monroe Lace up Sweater

What I am Doing This Weekend

We have a going away party, getting my hair done and probably staying in the rest of it with the impending massive snow storm headed our way.

What I am Looking Forward to Next Month

Next month brings my travel to Mississippi and Louisiana for work. It also brings my sisters birthday and Valentine's Day. We never went big for Valentine's Day, but now with children, we use it as an excuse for date night. But we usually go near Valentine's Day, not on it.

What Else is New

I have a countdown for vacation and we are at 58 days. I can't wait. I am walking at the gym (until I am cleared to work out again) and getting in shape to wear a bikini again. I am also scoping out bathing suits for my girls. So many stores have Spring and Summer stuff out already. It's only January. But I need to shop for some stuff for Mexico, so I will take it.

Not much else going on in the Butler household.

Don't forget to link up tomorrow for Confessional Thursday!

I am linking up with Jenn.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Another weekend in the books and a long one at that. We were pretty busy even though we didn't have much planned.

I worked on Friday while Rory went snowboarding. To say that I was jealous is an understatement. The only redeeming part was the mountain had low visibility so it wasn't an epic day, but still a great day. Or so I heard. I did see the lines were insane and something I am glad I missed.
Mt Rose Ski Resort

Friday afternoon we hung out with the girls and then I headed off at 5 pm to happy hour with Stacey. We hadn't caught up in awhile and it was so nice to have one on one time with one of my favorite ladies.

Saturday morning we hit up breakfast and lazied around the house most of the day. We did manage to do some cleaning. And take selfies.
twin selfies

Sunday morning we hit up breakfast again and then went to the mall to burn off some energy. The girls were getting a bit stir crazy being inside so much with all this crazy cold weather, so an outing was needed. We walked around the mall a bit, but mostly hung out at the play area. The girls were very shy at first, but opened up after 5 minutes and had the best time playing with the other kids there.
Walter the chiweenie

We soon headed home and put the girls down for a late nap. After the girls woke up, we played some more, did some reading and were just being goofy. At 4:30, my sister came over to watch the girls, so Rory and I could head out for a happy hour dinner to see Nathalie. She was only in town for a few days as it was a birthday gift from her husband. So thank you Nick for sending Nathalie our way. We had wine, many appetizers and the best conversation. Rory headed home at 7 so he could relieve my sister of babysitting duties, but I stayed until 9 pm.

Monday morning we made breakfast at home, did some cleaning and then headed out again. Cabin fever was at a high for the girls, so we decided to run some errands. We had things to return to Home Depot and Lowes from our renovation, so we did those and picked up a few things from Lowes. We were hungry for some lunch, so we hit up bbq. I was beyond stuffed after lunch, so we headed home for some naps, but not before stopping to get a Starbucks pick me up.

The girls napped and I headed to the grocery store to stock our near empty fridge. Then I took Walter for a walk. This was huge for me since I haven't been able to workout or go on walks since surgery, but now I can. I got home from the walk and not much later the girls woke up and wanted to go for a walk. So we bundled up and headed out again. It was the first time we had sunshine in over a week.

We got back in time to do a few things and then my in-laws headed over to hang out with the girls. Rory and I went to West Elm to cash in our rewards for some pillows, a dish for our soaps, sponges and things around the the sink. We also picked up a wine candle.

Then we headed out for sushi. I haven't had sushi in FOREVER and we tried a new place. It was really good. Like amazing. We were able to catch up and have a date night. So worth it. Then we snuck over to the outlets to look for some basketball shoes and anything else that peaked our interest. We got home at 7:30 and the girls were fast asleep. We watched some HGTV and then settled in for the Bachelor. Rory fell asleep midway through. I watched the whole thing and wow. So.Much.Drama.
Hinoki Sushi
Chef's special. Almost too pretty to eat.

And that was our weekend. How was yours?
Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Favorites

It's Friday and we have another long weekend ahead. Cue the happy dance.

I think we might have a break in rain/snow/sleet for a couple days and I am hoping we can get out for a few walks or just get out. The girls were so cooped up last weekend, it was rough on everyone.

But let's get down to Friday Favorites and Happenings.

ONE. My best friend is coming into town tomorrow and I couldn't be more excited. I am hoping to be healed enough to go out with her and others tomorrow night, but time will tell. Otherwise, we will have to meet up for brunch or happy hour. I am just too excited to see her. She is the one we were supposed to visit in Oklahoma back in October before our flight got cancelled. It is also her birthday weekend!!!

TWO. So I got a lot of interest in questions on chemical peels. While I have only experienced a few of them, I am a believer in them. When I get a facial and chemical peel, my esthetician puts a solution on my face. (Each time is a different concentrate. And no he does not get close to my eyes, so you don't have to worry about them burning your eyes.) He uses either a cotton round or sponge and applies it all over my face. He lets it sit there for about 2 to 3 minutes and then he carefully wipes it all off and then uses a hot towel to get the rest of it off. He then usually puts on a masque and lets that sit there for 10 minutes. He always finishes up with a heavy moisturizer and tells me to keep my face moisturized for several days.

Your skin may peel or flake a bit, but that is part of the natural process. No you shouldn't look like Samantha did in Sex and the City.

Chemical peels help lighten sun damaged skin, wrinkles, reduce fine lines, treat acne and help make your skin look fresh and glowy.

THREE. I am wanting to buy all the cozy sweaters I can get my hands on. I bought one this week from Pearl and Monroe, the lace up tan sweater. And I have had my eye on three different ones on Mindy Mae's Market, but they are ALL sold out in my size. I did snag a long sleeve from there though. I blame it on the snow, but really, I just love being all cozy. I usually change into my cozy lounge pants and a sweater every evening when we get home. Home body much.

So I am searching for cozy sweaters. Send me the links to your favorites.

FOUR. The snow gods must have heard me because we got out of work early yesterday. It may have only been an hour and a half early, but it makes the drive home so much easier.

FIVE. Thank you all for your concern on my surgery. It wasn't a big surgery and I am healing and I hope to talk about it in the near future, but know that I am ok.

I am linking up with April, A Little Bit of Everything, Karli, Meet @ the Barre and Cup of Tea.
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Confessional Thursday

Wow I am late to posting today. I blame it on the snow. The massive amounts that keep dropping with no end in sight. My favorite mountain got 25 inches of snow between yesterday and this morning. Wow. Just wow. That about 12 feet of snow from this storm.

Anyways grab the button and link up below.

grab button for Sparkles and Lattes
<div class="sparkles-and-lattes-button" style="width: 250px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow"> <img src="" alt="Sparkles and Lattes" width="250" height="250" /> </a> </div>


/ that I am hating the snow. I always want it to snow, but when it snows in the valley and I have to commute to work in it, I hate it. I fear others driving in the snow, not really myself. People don't take precautions and speed and end up hitting someone else or in a ditch. I have kids in my car, so stay far far away from me.

/ that I had a surgery last week and it ended up being a lot more recovery than I thought it would be. Still recovering and have a long way to go.

/ that I was rooting for Clemson in the Championship game and I am soooo happy they won. I don't have any beef with either team, but I don't want Alabama to win. Nope. Not again.

/ that I am loving all the NFL playoff games. Super Bowl will be here before we know it.

/ that with all the snow comes snowboarding, but not when they close the resorts down and the roads to the resorts because too much snow. #avalanche
Kirkwood Ski Resort

/ that I miss doing Confession posts and I am not sure anyone else wants to do them anymore. Do you?

/ that I am hoping for a early let out because it won't stop snowing. At least 4 inches and counting. Can't stop, won't stop.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Things I Have Learned from Renovating My House

Renovating our kitchen has been a blessing, but also a curse. I thought things would go smoothly, but we had several bumps through our renovation. Some were minor and others changed the entire look and feel of our kitchen. But in the end, I am so glad we did it.

We did learn a lot through this process that I wanted to share with you. And so I can look back on this should we renovate another room. I am looking at you bathroom.

ONE. You will fight with your spouse.
You will fight over the design decisions, how you can't move around in a room because there is crap everywhere and even when things take longer than you told they were.

It is a hard process and one that I was told could make or break a couple. I have known people to divorce over stuff like this. And let me tell you, I got mad at my husband a few times over design decisions that were made without me that totally changed the look and feel of the kitchen.

You just have to remember to communicate and that this is only temporary. Hard, but temporary.

TWO. Things take longer than planned.
When we got quoted on our renovation, we were told it would take 3 weeks for the kitchen to be finished. We were excited about this and planned our months ahead according to that. We had planned for Walter to be at my in-laws house the entire time, how many nights to eat at my in-laws, when we were eating out and how to survive during the renovation with just a microwave and fridge (that resided in our dining room).

But things took way longer than that. It took about 5 weeks with my contractor and then we had to have our cabinets refinished later. We knew this was going to happen, but we thought we would have our kitchen back to sort of normal by 3 weeks out. Nope. Not only did our renovation take longer with our contractor, the cabinet people messed up their first measurement which meant they have been back twice since they refinished our cabinets.

By the time it is ALL finished it will be 11 to 12 weeks since we started. Ouch.

THREE. Check your appliances when they are delivered for damage.

I warned my contractor and my husband about this. I read many blogs about renovations and learned a few things. My husband didn't listen to me and we paid the price. Well almost. You see, we ordered our range, refrigerator, dishwasher and range hood online.

We were so worried about the delivery of our range since it was coming from New Jersey/New York. And one of the only appliances that wasn't damaged was our range. It was in perfect shape and we checked it out once it was delivered. The ones that my husband didn't check were the ones we ordered from Lowes which was the dishwasher and fridge. I checked the fridge out the day after it was delivered and saw that it was damaged. There was damage on the back near the power supply and on the front near the logo. I called Lowes and they ordered a new one to be sent out.

The dishwasher sat in our garage and my husband said he would make sure it was fine. He never did and there was a huge dent on the top left area and the dishwasher wouldn't close properly. We didn't find this out until the day they were going to install it. Nope. We had to order a new one and it took a long time to get in.

So check your appliances.

FOUR. Check your contracts for the names of items.

When we had our contract given to us, we looked it over, made a few changes and signed it. But what we didn't see was a change in the name of our counter top. This caused a huge mess. My husband agreed to a better stone at a better price without checking with me. I was never sent samples or told that our counters were changing.

My husband thought it was a better tiered quartz than the original one because our counters came in different qualities. He thought we were getting a better quality of the same stone for a better price. Nope. We got a better stone with a similar look and it wasn't what I wanted. I would have paid more for what I wanted.

FIVE. Find out shipping times before settling on an item.

I was completely sold on a specific color of subway tile. I built my whole kitchen off my subway tile and counters. And then when my contractor went to order the item, it was 5 weeks out. And this was after we had our tile floors already in.

I had to go to the tile store for the hundredth time and pick a new color. I wanted the original one, but settled on one that was close to it with a week and a half ship date.

Luckily, my contractor made some calls and pushed the vendor to get my original subway tile color after the counter top fiasco. But always find out ship times before deciding on the item you want.

SIX. It will cost you more than you think.

Simple. I did research for my local area and thought we were have leftover money to go to other stuff around our house. Nope. Every last cent was used on my kitchen. Kitchen renovations will cost you $30,000 to $50,000 for a mid-range kitchen renovation.

SEVEN. Be prepared to change materials.

I had a vision of slate tile floors and wanted just that. But after talking to my contractor and the tile guys at every store I visited (about five of them and more than once), they said it wasn't a good stone for the kitchen. Since the kitchen is frequented, things can drop and the slate will chip off in areas. And then you can cut your feet on that newly cut area.

It is a great stone for bathrooms and when you don't have children, but it isn't that great for kitchens with kids. So I had to change my mind and the search was on for a new tile that I liked. It took me awhile to find the right one, but I LOVE my kitchen floors.

EIGHT. Never do renovations with young children because it will cause your life to be displaced so much.

I didn't think we would be out so much when it came to renovating with children, but your life is turned upside down. You will likely lose your dining room because it will be full of kitchen stuff. This means that you won't have a place for your children to eat, a place to cook for your children or a place to do your dishes. We also had to block off that area from our kids who want to roam the house and play everywhere.

NINE. Be prepared for many phone calls with your contractor, stores carrying appliances and stores for availability and best price.

We had phone calls daily with our contractor. Sometimes multiple times a day. It gets very time consuming. Plus I had to make phone calls for the best pricing around town on certain items that we purchased. And let's not forget the many phone calls I had with Lowes over my damaged appliances.

TEN. Every detail needs to be written down and followed up on. Your contract will forget things with many projects at once.

You need to write down everything for yourself and your contractor. You also need to follow up on everything that you talked about with your contractor so he does not forget anything. You don't want to forget the names of the things you picked out. Also take pictures of things you want so you can send them to your contractor for when he purchases things for you.

ELEVEN. Thoroughly review your contract.

This sounds simple, but seriously review your contract.

TWELVE. You may get sick and your children will hit their terrible twos. Oh wait that's just me.

But in the end you will love it!
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Lazy Weekend

Please excuse my absence yesterday as we had a rain day. Yes, a rain day. We had massive snowstorms all last week which turned into rain and back to snow. Our mountains got so much moisture that our river filled up quickly and we experienced a lot of flooding throughout Northern Nevada. 

Since we had so much water, they closed most schools, state offices, daycares and other businesses. This meant another day at home. The girls have had bad cabin fever and I am sure they are glad to be at daycare today for playtime.

We took it pretty easy all weekend since we couldn't go out.

My weekend started Thursday night where I got a massage and facial. It was glorious...other than the chemical peel. I have had three chemical peels over the last year and they have really helped with my aging face. Twins = wrinkles. 
Massage table

After my appointment, I picked up pizza from our favorite place and came home to a nice fire. We watched some tv shows and headed to bed early.

Friday we took the girls to their two year check-up. They did beautifully on all of their tests. Sutton is 34 3/4 inches and 27 1/2 pounds. Avery is 34 1/4 inches and 27 1/2 pounds. Both girls are in the 50th - 75th percentile in height and weight. 

Friday afternoon we lazied around the house with a fire and too much tv.
twin dad
Twins drinking out of big girl cups
 Sutton is obsessed with my water bottle I got from a bachelorette party two years ago.
toddler eats
 Avery couldn't get enough of the pickled asparagus.
animal knit hats
 They wanted to wear their new animal hats all day long.
animal knit hats

Saturday morning, Rory went snowboarding and my mother-in-law and I watched the girls. We played, watched some tv, hung out by the fire all day and stayed inside. We also lite some old sparklers from our wedding so the girls could see them....and to keep them entertained for a while before bedtime.

Sunday morning we headed out to breakfast and then hung out all day in our pjs. Another stormy and icy day.
identical twin
Since we got the call Sunday evening about no work or school, we decided to head up to my in-laws house Monday after breakfast. The girls played a bunch and had a change of scenery which was welcome. 

We didn't do much else that day other than eat dinner, do some laundry, give the girls a bath and watch the Alabama vs. Clemson game and The Bachelor.

How was your weekend?
Friday, January 6, 2017

Friday's Random

This week has been pretty good to me. It was a short week which is always great and it is the start of a new year. Kind of like wearing a cozy sweater for the first time. Feels so amazing.

I took most of last week off with just two posts, but I was back at it this week.

ONE. I was looking over my blog the last couple days and realized how much has changed in the last couple years. I had 241 posts last year. Up from 148 the previous year. I really focused on my blog last year and I am happy with the results.

I also want to revamp my blog again. It is time for a new design, just like the new year. I think I unveiled a new design around the beginning of 2016.

Definitely a blogger resolution is to update my blog with a new design.

TWO. I was having dinner with my husband, sister-in-law and brother-in-law last week and my SIL asked what our New Year's resolutions were off the top of our head. The first and only thing that came to mind was to become more adventurous with the food I make. Try new recipes that might be out of my comfort zone and out of the box.

So please send me your recipes.

I recently made my first thing out of the Cravings cookbook and it was phenomenal. I can't wait to tackle more recipes from it. There are a few Thai inspired dishes that are calling my name. I will let you know how they turn out.
Cravings cookbooks

THREE. Today I am at the pediatrician taking my sweet baby girls in for their two year old appointments. I still can't believe they are two! Did you read my sweet tribute to them for their birthday?

Tip of the day: call your doctor ahead of time and get them to email you the Stages and Ages sheets that you always fill out at the doctor's office. It saves me a ton of time, hello twins, and allows me to focus on the appointment rather than scribbling to get everything down while they do their check-ups.

Any guesses on their weight and height? We measured the girls two days after their birthday and they are going to be tall girls. But I can't wait for the official results.

FOUR. Did you see my kitchen reveal yesterday? I have been waiting to post my kitchen reveal for what seems like forever. I am so happy with the results. Next week I have a post about the things I learned from doing a renovation. It's a good one. You won't want to miss it.

I am linking up with April, A Little Bit of Everything, Karli, Meet @ the Barre and Cup of Tea.
Thursday, January 5, 2017

Kitchen Remodel Reveal

I am finally ready to reveal our kitchen. This has been a labor of love and a complete pain in the butt. But I am so happy with the results (a few things need to be fixed) and I am loving my new kitchen.

If you remember, this is what my kitchen looked like before...old, outdated and boring.
old kitchen
 Linoleum floors, dated cabinets, old stovetop
old kitchen
old kitchen
 Old double oven (only the bottom worked)
old kitchen

And this was during the demo.
demoing a kitchen
demoing a kitchen
demoing a kitchen
Where the double oven used to be

And now I present to you the (almost) finished product.
renovated kitchen, gray and white
We used some leftover counter top to make a Nevada cheeseboard/cutting board and a soap dish. We still have a lot of leftover counter top that we haven't decided what to use it for. The cabinets have been refaced with new hardware.

renovated kitchen, gray and white
 New counter tops that are quartz with a marble look to them.

renovated kitchen, gray and white
We had to raise our cabinet over the stove due to the space between the stove and the cabinet. It needed to be at least 22 -24 inches for proper ventilation and ours was not. They moved the cabinet up, we installed the new range hood and added the back splash feature. The oven is Samsung and it is gas with both regular and convection settings.

renovated kitchen, gray and white
 We installed Emser Explorer Series Paris tile which brings in all the colors together.

renovated kitchen, gray and white
It is hard to see, but we used some counter top as the window's ledge. We installed a Bosche dishwasher and a farm house sink.

renovated kitchen, gray and white farmhouse sink
renovated kitchen, gray and white
 We added pendant lights with Edison bulbs in them. This also shows a more close-up of the counter tops.

renovated kitchen, gray and white
renovated kitchen, gray and white
 We added tile on the other side of the breakfast bar for a place to house our chairs. Before they sat on carpet and it got really dirty under them.

renovated kitchen, gray and white
 We whitewashed the brick wall, painted inside the indoors bbq and laid a piece of the counter top inside of it. This is where our microwave sits which we plan to get a new one.

renovated kitchen, gray and white indoor bbq
renovated kitchen, gray and white
 We got a new refrigerator due to ours being old and small. We would have liked to cut out more brick to get a bigger fridge, but it was too costly and would require new support beams. All appliances are stainless steel.

renovated kitchen, gray and white cabinet
 We took out our double oven and turned it into a cabinet. We painted the inside black and our contractor added in a cabinet backing and brackets. We used leftover counter tops for the shelving as well.

renovated kitchen, gray and white Emser Paris Tile
 New Tile

renovated kitchen, gray and white lifted cabinets
 The lifted cabinet

renovated kitchen, gray and white, gray subway tile
 I wanted gray subway tile as my back splash. I searched for the perfect color to match everything and the tile was back ordered for 5 weeks. My contractor contacted the vendor and after many talks, they expedited it and I got the suede gray tile I had dreamed of. Seriously one of my favorite things about this kitchen. It has a Snow White tile grout with it.

renovated kitchen, gray and white, mudroom
 We used to have extra cabinets that we removed to make this part pantry, part mudroom. I painted the wall a light gray and we got the bench from West Elm. I still am looking for a coat rack or wood to make one myself.

renovated kitchen, gray and white, pendant lights
Pendant Lights

And there you have it. My kitchen is pretty much complete and now to move onto the next project....the bathroom.