M & J Monday

 God never made an ugly landscape.
 All that shines is beautiful,
so long as it's wild.
~John Muir
Happy Monday!


The Best PB Cookies

Last week brought us rain, lots and lots of rain. We busted out the rain gear several times, but we were also inside far more than we are typically used to. That left us time to flex our baking muscles on more than one occasion.

We stuck to the simple: rice krispy treats.
We stuck to the classics: chocolate chip cookies.
And we tried something brand new (to us): peanut butter cookies.
I'm no peanut butter cookie expert, but I have to say, these are hands down the best I've ever tasted. These cookies are perfect parts sweet and salty, with a slightly crunchy exterior and the softest and chewiest interior. Pair a few of these with a glass of cold milk and it's basically the best way to end a cold, rainy day.

Bonus points for being so dang easy to make. Marcus was hands-on from start to finish while making these. And, every single ingredient is a pantry staple, which meant we didn't have to make any frantic rain-soaked trips to the grocery store.

Did I mention they're delicious?
The Best Peanut Butter Cookies
Yields approximately 2 dozen cookies
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
sugar for sprinkling atop cookies - optional 

Preheat oven to 350°F, line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda.
In a stand mixer, beat peanut butter, butter, and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla.
Gradually add in the flour mixture on low speed. 
Stir until dough forms.
Scoop about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough and drop rounded balls on to prepped baking sheet.
Leave space for cookies to spread.
Sprinkle with sugar if so desired. 
Bake for 12 minutes, or until edges just start to brown, and remove from oven. 
Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. 
Can be stored in an air tight container for up to 5 days. 


M & J Monday

I'm singing in the rain/ Just singing in the rain
What glorious feelin'/ I'm happy again
I'm lauging at clouds/ So dark up above
The sun's in my heart/ And I'm ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase/ Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain/ I've a smile on my face
I walk down the lane/ With a happy refrain
Just singin'
Singin' in the rain
Dancin in the rain
Gene Kelly
Singing in the Rain
Happy Monday!


The Year of Color {White} Edition

When first debating what to do with this month's prompt of 'white,' I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. I knew the kids would be involved (I am a mom blogger after all), and I knew there would likely be a photo of them wearing white. It wasn't until a bit later that I decided to jump in the photo with them. That idea then morphed into a goal: get in the color prompt photo with the kids each month. So often I'm behind the camera, and rarely do I step out in front of it. The Year of Color is the perfect opportunity to get color coordinated and in some pictures with my kids. May it also be noted that this will also push me to step out of my yoga pants at least once a month.

If nothing else is accomplished for the rest of this link-up, at least the kids will have a few photos of the three of us together.
I knew I couldn't stop with just a photo of us wearing white. The prompt quickly grew into much more...

On Fridays Marcus doesn't have school. And, each Friday Julia is able to take a solid nap in her own crib (no car naps on Fridays!). During naptime Marcus and I are often looking for fun, quiet things to do while the littlest sleeps. In brainstorming ideas, I decided I would focus on each color prompt while making the most of that one-on-one time with Marcus.

Over the course of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning we read a book, did an experiment, made a craft, and whipped up a snack all centered around the color white. Each activity only lasted a handful of minutes, which was just right for a four-year old. Honest talk: I'm not sure I'll be this ambitious each month, but I'm really liking where this link-up is heading for us.
January :: White

We actually didn't have time to fit this book in Friday afternoon. But first thing Saturday morning we cracked it open. I attempted to have Julia sit in on this, but as evident by the photos, that didn't go as planned. Regardless, Marcus and I enjoyed a little snuggle session while reading about one of our favorite groovy cats.

Erupting Snow
Since we don't get snow, and Marcus has been asking to go to the snow for months, I figured we could bring the snow to us. Marcus was really hesitant of the texture of the snow, but I thought it was awesome. It felt very much like snow, and was physically cool to the touch thanks to the shaving cream! We made a few snowmen, gave it a good splat on the counter a few times, and then set to work making it "erupt" with vinegar. Marcus hated the smell of the vinegar, but loved watching the transformation from "snow" to the "snow explosion."
To make:
1 box baking soda
1 can shaving cream
1 cup vinegar
Large mixing bowl
Large spatula

Pour entire box of baking soda into the mixing bowl.
Add approximately 1/2 - 3/4 can of shaving cream to baking soda.
Mix until baking soda is fully incorporated with shaving cream.
Play with snow until ready to make it erupt.

Cotton Ball Snowflakes
By far, the easiest 'craft,' and probably a favorite of Marcus' (at least for now).
The first snowflake we made I helped draw a snowflake on the paper, and Marcus traced the lines with glue and added cotton balls atop the glue. That was basically the extent of the craft, easy-peasy; just the way I like to craft.
After the first snowflake I let Marcus go to town and do everything 100 percent on his own. The following snowflakes made by Marcus appeared to be more like blizzards. It was all insanely simple, but Marcus loved it because apparently kids love gluing things? This was the first time he'd ever used school glue, so that was extra fun to him. A week out from the original project and he is still making cotton ball blizzards.
To make:
Colored construction paper
Cotton balls
School glue
The Best Rice Krispy Treats
After all the white Marcus decided the finished treats needed a little sprucing up. Naturally the best way to do that was dump a ton of blue sprinkles on top.
This little activity excited me the most. Growing up I remember my dad making Rice Krispy Treats regularly. It's been years since I've had this simple and delicious snack. In the kitchen Marcus helped as much as possible. And, conveniently, Julia woke from her nap just in time to help do a little taste testing. Both kiddos have done a stellar job helping to make these white inspired treats disappear.
To make:
4 Tbsp butter
8 cups mini marshmallows, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp milk
6 cups rice krispies

Melt butter in large pot over low heat.
Once butter is melted add vanilla and 6 cups marshmallows.
When marshmallows are melted, add milk and remaining 2 cups of marshmallows. Just before marshmallows are fully melted (you want the mix kind of clumpy), add rice krispies.
Mix until rice krispies are evenly covered with marshmallow mix.
Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan.
Lightly spread treats evenly throughout pan. Don't press too hard, as treats will become very hard if pressed together too much.
Allow to cool fully before cutting and serving.

Whew. That wraps up all things white for January. How did white inspire you? Be sure to drop your link below!

Next month's link up is Friday, February 17, and the color prompt is pink. That should be easy, right?! I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Cheers to the weekend!


Fix #11

It's time to play another round of Wanna Be a Fashion Blogger! (But, maybe not really. I do love me some yoga pants too much to actually want to be a fashion blogger...) I put in a request for Raquel to style me for my eleventh fix. Lucky for me, I got her again! California is finally receiving its version of winter weather so I requested long, comfy, cozy, cable knit sweaters, and a pair of black distressed skinny jeans.
Per the norm (which is why I LOVE Raquel), my Pinterest board was scoured, my notes for what I was looking for were thoughtfully applied to this fix.
Let's jump right into the goods.

Market & Sprcue || Lawford Knit Top
Pistola || Ivana Distressed Skinny Jean
Lawford Knit Top : When I pulled it out of the box I was drawn to the tabs (no shock there), the bit of leather detail and the neck, and - of course - the black and white stripes. However, the shirt was quite thin, and overall, I was just kind of meh about it. For the price I knew I couldn't justify keeping it.

Verdict || Returned

Ivana Distressed Skinny Jeans : I was so excited to see these in my fix! But then I put them on and immediately had doubts. The holes at the thigh - yikes. I'm good with the distressing at the knees, but that high up on the pant? Eek. And, the bottom of the jeans didn't taper as much as I would have liked. There was a subtantial gap where I would have much preferred the jeans more fitted. I felt these did nothing for me, and Scott's comment that, "They look so 90s," officially sealed the deal and sent these into the return bag.

Verdict || Returned

Amour Vert || Rosee Cable Front Cardigan
Rosee Cable Front Cardigan : The color! The length! The heavy knit! Yep. I promptly put this on and wore it for two days straight. This cardigan pairs perfectly with any staple tee, leggings, or skinnies. You will find me living in this for the next few months as the cooler temps stick around.

Verdict || Kept

Laila Jayde || Bowie Solid Dolman Sleeve Top

Bowie Solid Dolman Sleeve Top : Confession time. I'm not a huge fan of Dolmans. I know so many ladies who are, but I just can't jump on board. I think they look fabulous on about everyone, except me. I kind of feel like the top makes me look... frumpy? I'm not sure whit it is... maybe it's because I feel like I have bat wings if my arms leave my sides? But, I can live without a dolman in my closet. I did love the color of this top, as well as the knit, but more often than not, a Dolman in my fix is going to be returned, and that was the case with this one.

Verdict || Returned

Market & Spruce || Liz Textured Sweater
Liz Textured Sweater : Everything about this sweater had me all goggly-eyed. The knit detail was perfect. You can't see it in this photo, but there is a subtle blue within the knitting that I just loved. The back is longer than the front, the sleeves were nice and long, the creamy color had me swooning, and it was SO soft. BUT. The "v" detail at the neck was off center. Every time I looked in the mirror the sweater looked like it was on crooked. I felt like would have been constantly adjusting the top of the sweater, which compensated how the bottom laid. I wanted to keep this in the worst way, but the manufacture flaw had me packing this one up. I have requested it again for my next fix, with hopes that it's available and made without the flaw.

Verdict || Returned

So, a 1/5, but not a bust. And, I'm not at all disappointed. It was fun to finally check out a few warm, cozy pieces, find a couple things that I love, and retain a solid keeper.

Thoughts? Did I send back the right ones??

Have you jumped on the Stitch Fix train? No?! Let's remedy that!

For $20 a box, a personal stylist will send some fun, cute clothes right to your door. If you love what you receive, the $20 style fee is then applied to your total. Don't love anything? The $20 is about what it would cost you in gas if you had gone to and from the mall. Toss in the mandatory Starbucks you grab while shopping at said mall, and you've easily spent $20. Not to mention, you get to have a little fashion show in the comfort of your own home (it is so awesome to be able pull pieces from your closet and jewelry box to see if they'll go well with a Stitch Fix item). Wins all around, if you ask me.

Give it a go! Stitch Fix is easily one of the most fun things I've done for myself, and each time I see a box at my door my day is made!
Click here to get started on your profile (pssst, making a profile is free - you aren't charged a styling fee until you receive your fix).


M & J Monday

And this, our life exempt from the public haunt,
finds tongues in trees,
books in running brooks,
sermons in stones,
and good in everything.
One touch of nature
makes the whole world kin.

-William Shakespeare
Happy Friday!


The Year of Color Link-Up (an announcement) Edition

2017 has started off relatively slow, and quiet on the blog front. Aside from wrapping up the holidays there hasn't been a whole lot of notable and, in my opinion, post-worthy things going on around these parts. I try not to post just to post, or put together a half-hearted post.

Luckily for me - and you - I've joined up with some talented, inspirational, fabulous ladies who will hopefully give the push to do something a little different, and perhaps spark a blog post or two.

Justine, Stefanie, Whitney and myself are hosting the Year of Color Link up. To sum it up, the third Friday of each month we ask you to join us in show casing just one color. The color isn't limited to any one thing. Perhaps an outfit, a recipe, a craft, or a book is the inspiration, anything goes! I have a few ideas in mind for each month, and can't wait to share!

The calendar looks something like this:
January 20 - white
February 17 - pink
March 17 - green
April 21 - pastels
May 19 - yellow
June 16 - purple
I'm pretty excited about this challenge and hope you are too! I can't wait to see how each color inspires everyone!

Happy Friday!


Julia || 17 Months

I feel like month 17 has brought us to a nice, sweet spot with Julia. For the most part, she's a pretty easy little lady (as long as she gets what she wants), and life is pretty good. Let's forego any other fluffy pleasantries and cliché phrases (another month really has gone by, and it really did fly!), and just jump right into a few highlights of the little lady.
Height: last I measured, she was 32ish inches (very precise).
Weight: meh, I'd say probably 21ish pounds - her cheeks are nice and chubby, so I'm going off of that.
Teeth: Three canines have popped through, with the fourth thisclose to breaking the surface, so I'm going to round up and say 16. And let me say that the canines have been exactly zero fun the past few weeks. 
Marcus' toys.
Being held right after waking up in the mornings and after naps.
Dancing. She will dance to any music or beat.
Having shoes on her feet.
Being outside.
Leaves. Rocks. Sticks. Hence the stick in every.single.picture.
Being pushed in her tricycle.
Her baby dolls; it's the sweetest sight when she totes those around and plants kisses on them.
Climbing on everything.
Cheese - the food, not the phrase for photo taking.
Any snack.
Mac and cheese. All day, every day.
Marcus, when he's touching her toys.
Being told, "no."
Being held when she wants to run wild.
Cooperating for pictures. It's a workout with this one to get just one picture that isn't a blurry mess.
Diaper changes (when does this battle end?).
Our lab, Drake, when he gets too close while she's eating a snack.
There still aren't a ton of words in Julia's vocabulary, but a few notable new ones:
Bubble - "bubba"
Baby - "day-dee"
Cheese - "eeeese"
No - "nah" (complete with a head shake)
More - "mah"
Milk - "mil"
Water - "ah-wah" (sounds so much like the Spanish word for water, "agua")
Grandma - "Mawmaw"
I also have to note that to Julia all birds say "quack."
She also loves to make this gruffff sound when she's playing around, she thinks it's hilarious when we copy her.
Other notables:
After naps and waking in the morning, when I pick Julia up she rests her head on my shoulder, wraps her arms around me, squeezes tight, and lightly pats my back. I hope she does this forever and ever.

I'm not taking too much stock in this, but a few times this month Julia has let me know when her diaper has been dirty. She's pointed to her diaper and said, "poooooh." There's not potty training in our sights, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed with the few times this has happened.

We're currently flip-flopping from two-naps-a-day to one-nap-a-day. This transition period isn't my favorite, but I have high hopes that once a nap is cut we'll be able to sleep in past 5am.
I love you, little lady. You are something else: equal parts sweet, and sassy, and spunky, and naughty (oh so naughty), and feisty, and fun, and simply a joy.
To month 17 I say, "Cheers!" I can't wait to see what this next month has in store for us.