Cold bean & rice veggie salad

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Spring is here…..well sort of. We had a few really nice days here in Wisconsin and now it seems to be hanging in the 40’s to low 50’s with sunshine. I think that it’s still way too chilly to be spring but I’ll take it. We have been outside as much as possible and beyond that it’s been a bit busy over here, so I apologize for the lack of posts. We are getting ready to move and have a baby (any day now!) so there is quite a bit to do if you can imagine .

My “free-time” has been spent packing and still nesting like crazy. Even in these last weeks of pregnancy, with my body aching and so sore, all I want to do is scrub something, anything! Everything that can be washed in the house has been washed. I went through a tub of Oxy Clean in the last couple weeks and an entire can of carpet cleaner (because I was scrubbing my vehicle mats so much, trying to get every little spot out) just to give you an idea. I just can’t stop! My whites are whiter than they have ever been and my rugs look brand new. Also, I just impulsively bought a wet/dry vacuum to better clean the floors with. Well it wasn’t super impulsive because it is the same one we got my sister-in-law for her birthday and she sold me on it. No more getting down on my hands and knees to clean the floor AND getting an even better clean?! Sold. The vacuum should come today and I am already giddy about cleaning my floors. I have been watching You Tube videos of all the infomercials about it, so excited! So if you need something cleaned bring it over, seriously. I am searching for things to clean around the house at this point. And before this post gets any lamer lets move on to this delicious, fresh salad.rice and bean salad

I came up with this concoction after buying a huge bag of mixed beans from Costco and not really wanting to make bean soup like I normally do with them. I threw some things together and then found the recipe for the dressing, which is the best part of the salad. It’s tangy, refreshing, and a tad bit sweet. The longer you let the salad sit in the fridge the more flavor the rice and beans will soak up. And the nice part about this salad is the versatility. You can pretty much toss in whatever veggies, grains, nuts, and cheeses that your little heart desires and it will still turn out great. I am going to make this again soon and add some red cabbage and sliced carrots for a little more crunch. Oh and I didn’t put this in the recipe but I threw mine on top of a bed of mixed greens with a squeeze of lemon over it and it was divine. This makes for a perfect, protein & nutrient- packed, lunch that will last you a good week in the fridge.

Cold bean & rice veggie salad
 

Ingredients
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3-4 cups cooked beans ( I used a variety of pinto, kidney, black, yellow split peas, lima, and lentils) OR 2-3 cans of precooked beans, rinsed
  • 1 bag frozen yellow corn, thawed
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • feta cheese

Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine: cooked rice and beans, corn, onions, tomatoes and cilantro.
  2. In another smaller mixing bowl, whisk together oils, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder, and pepper.
  3. Taste and season accordingly.
  4. Pour dressing mixture over rice and beans and toss to coat.
  5. Store in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving for best results.
  6. Add feta or any other cheese right before serving.

Happy day to you!

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Mini cherry cheesecake bites

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Last week my friend threw a Pinterest/wine tasting party. We all had to make a recipe we had been wanting to try off Pinterest and bring a rare or favorite  bottle of wine for tasting. Since I couldn’t participate in the wine part, I brought my own bottle of alcohol-free merlot, which sort of made me feel like a part of the fun! Boo! I can’t wait to have my first glass of wine after baby and breastfeeding. The food tasting however, I was all about that. I made 2 recipes: the first was a super easy, to-die-for version of salted caramel creme brûlée from Tastefully Simple, and the second were these adorable mini cherry cheesecake bites. I have had my eye on them for a while via Pinterest of course, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to whip them up!

mini cherry cheesecake bites

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easy peasy to throw together, and the finished product looks so fancy. I mean all you really have to do is mix the cheesecake ingredients; beyond that the hardest part is separating all the mini baking liners and spooning a cherry on top of each little piece. So simple! One tip I have is to make sure you bake them long enough…I ended up baking mine a few minutes longer so the wafer became more of a crust and wouldn’t get mushy. 
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Mini cherry cheesecake bites
Author: 
 

Ingredients
  • 2 packages cream cheese (8oz)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Mini aluminum baking cup liners
  • Cherry pie filling

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well combined, stir in vanilla and lemon juice.
  3. Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each mini aluminum baking cup, rounded side down (they won’t lay perfectly flat).
  4. Spoon the batter evenly over the wafers.
  5. Bake for ~15 minutes or until edges appear set; remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Top with cherry pie filling and refrigerate.

One more helpful hint before you go: The vanilla wafers are slightly too large for the mini cup liners so they won’t sit just right. Don’t freak out though, once you start filling the cheesecake mixture on top of them, they will straighten out a bit, trust me. Even if the wafers are a little slanted in the bottom of the liners, you won’t even be able to tell once they are baked and covered with the cherries.

 

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Jack Timothy, 6 year old

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I have a six year old and that sounds so weird. Our oldest son, Jack, turned six last week and I can’t help but feel a little weepy about it. You really can never say “it goes by so fast” too many times, because there are no truer words about parenting ever spoken. Although it does make me weepy to watch my kids grow so fast, I enjoy every single stage of life and each birthday means another exciting year of changes and growing.

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Jack continues to amaze us every day. His love for reading and playing piano make me the proudest mama in the world. I always hoped he would get some of his dad’s patience, and watching him practice and learn piano has shown me that he certainly did. So far though my proudest parenting moments with Jack have been the moments of watching him learn to read. I can’t really explain how incredible it has been. In a matter of months he has gone from struggling to sound words out & reading beginner books, to cruising through chapter books. And the best part is that he really enjoys reading; one good quality that I am happy to say he got from me!

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We let Jack have big birthday parties the last two years in a row, so this year we kept it simple. Plus as much as I love throwing kids parties, there was no way I had the energy this year. Jack had a half-day of school on his birthday, which he thought was so cool, and then my friend Katie took him and his friend Hudson out to lunch, and back to their house for the day to play. Then there was a giant chocolate cake, presents, and most of all family time, which is all a birthday really needs in my book.

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Happy birthday Jack, mom and dad are so proud to call you our son. You bring us incredible joy. We can’t wait to see what the “6 year old” chapter of your life brings.

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Our space // bedroom

bedroomOur bedroom was the last room in the house that we decorated. Until about a year ago it was just a hodge podge of mismatched furniture and random décor. It never really bothered me too much though because I just love the coziness of our bedroom. Letting it go undecorated for a few years never really mattered to me. It is the perfect place to read a book in the afternoon when the kids nap, because of the great light, and the best space to pile in for family movies. It was time we gave the space a little loving though.  bedroom (8)bedroom (3) bedroom (7)The walls are a really subtle mint color, which I wanted to keep, and I knew I wanted to use navy for sure. The coral just kind of happened. The first thing I searched for was the perfect comforter. I found it at West Elm and it really is perfect; hand stamped, reversible, and light as a feather just the way we like our comforters. Unfortunately about a month ago, Liam painted his fingernails with red nail polish on our bed and dumped the rest of the bottle out on the comforter. If you look close you can see the spot. That was a rough day. I kept telling myself that it was only a “thing” and I shouldn’t be upset about it, plus I did leave the red nail polish laying out. But still! I searched for SO long for that darn bedding! We have tried everything and that stain isn’t coming out and of course they don’t make the bedding anymore. Anyway, a new comforter is on its way and Liam still walks the earth a free man. bedroom (2) bedroom (4) bedroom (5) bedroom (12)bedroom (17) bedroom (16) bedroom (15)bedroom (14)  add bedroom (1) add bedroom (2)

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Most other things in our bedroom are thrifted, although there are a few new items. I am sure you will notice that seems to be a theme in my decorating style: mixing old with new. One of my hobbies is searching through thrift stores and in the past few years I have been slowly trying to incorporate all my treasures into our space. However, I am also really drawn to the bold patterns of modern designs which is where the “new” comes in. I couldn’t be happier with the way our bedroom turned out and it was way fun to collect all the pieces that brought it all together. My favorite vintage item in our room is the wooden Pepsi crate that I keep all my make-up organized in on my vanity. My dad actually found this one for me, he is where I get my love for treasure hunting from, and it’s in really great condition. I love the way this crate turns the feel of my feminine vanity, a little more rustic.

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Before I forget, Ralph really wants me to mention the perfectly hung t.v. in our bedroom. He also wants you to know that I thought hanging a t.v. this size in our tiny bedroom was a horrible idea, but in time I began to love where the t.v was and even the size. As you can see it’s on a slanted wall, so when you lay down to watch a movie the angle is perfect and you don’t strain your neck at all. Once again, Ralph knows best. Seriously. bedroom (1)

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Twitter birds & ugly, happy cries

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This past weekend my friends threw the most touching, surprise, baby party for me and it was more perfect than I could have ever imagined. I can’t really even describe the emotions I felt when I walked in the room and saw them all there. I had absolutely no idea and I honestly didn’t know what the surprise was at first! I thought it was maybe an early birthday get together to try and throw me off (my birthday is in August)? Seeing all these women that I love dearly, together, out celebrating our 4th little baby and I, just made me the happiest girl in the world. The girls put so much work into all the little details of the party, which I think is what made me break down the most. These girls are the busiest people I know, with kids of their own and they did all of this for me. It’s so easy for me to “lose myself” in motherhood and consume myself with only the needs/wants of my children, that sometimes I forget how important it is to celebrate yourself. I am the first to admit I am terrible at taking care of myself sometimes and my friends know that. Well you all know how to make a girl feel special and so loved!

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The theme was Twitter. If you know our family, Twitter has played an important role in our life in the past couple years–one reason being that Ralph works for Twitter. We all had #hashtag nametags by our chairs, cute Twitter birds everywhere, and even our own special hashtag for the night (#howmanymoreholz). I loved it! There was the prettiest little cake that you ever did see(chocolate with sea salt caramel), mini cookbooks by each spot with all my recipes and photos in them, pictures of my baby bump all over the place, the cutest party games, thoughtful gifts, hand sewn table runners, and unbeatable company. It was so obvious that every detail was meant to reflect everything that I love.

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I still just can’t believe they all pulled this off without me knowing. I am the queen of being nosy and always knowing what’s going on. Just last weekend we had a surprise party for my sister-in-law’s birthday and I told my friends, “Nobody would EVER be able to surprise me”. Little did I know, huh?! I only wish I would have had some make-up on or styled my hair a bit! I almost came in yoga pants and tennis shoes because the plan was just to meet my 2 friends for dinner, yikes!

twitter baby party (12)twitter baby party (2) twitter baby party (3) twitter baby party (1) twitter baby party (5)twitter baby party (10)twitter baby party (13) twitter baby party (19) twitter baby party (16)Thank you so much to Emily & Theresa for putting this together and all your hard work, you 2 are the most thoughtful women I know. And thanks to everyone that could make it, some of my friends came from Madison and Milwaukee straight from work just to be there. This is truly a night I will remember for the rest of my life. My present to you was the ugliest, happy, cry you will ever see me cry! I usually only pull that cry out for my newborn babies, so you should feel pretttty special!

(special thanks to my mother-in-law for capturing this moment on video)

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