Things I’m Loving Lately

Watch my video review of this month’s favorites!

**Click on any item name to shop for it!**

Plastic Mason Jar Lids

No more rusty metal lids and rings! Just screw on the clean, white cap and get shakin!  I cannot tell you what a wonderful difference these have made in my mason jar usage.  Everything from shaking up my protein drinks to making my 6-Ingredient Homemade Ranch Dressing has become more pleasant with these lids :)

The Liturgist Podcast Women and Black and White: Racism in America Episodes

This podcast in general is great.  It has challenged and expanded my thinking more than anything has in a long time. The episodes on Women and Racism in particular were life-changing for me.  They are intelligent, thought-provoking, emotional, and compelling.  Take a listen and let me know what you think.

NYX Butter Gloss in Creme Brulee

I’ve tried a LOTTT of lipgloss in my day.  This one remains my favorite.  It glides on smooth, isn’t sticky, is the perfect pinky nude shade, and can be worn alone or beautifully layered over any lipstick for a soft and natural shine.

Instant Pot

After lots of buzz in the online food community, I decided to take the plunge and order an Instant Pot on Cyber Monday (Walmart had a great deal) and I’m really happy I did!  This thing is a power house.  I’ve used it to make a pot roast in 1 hour (vs. 8 in a slow cooker), dried beans in 55 minutes (no pre-soaking!), absolutely delicious Loaded Baked Potato Soup, hard boiled eggs that are perfectly cooked and easy to peel, steamed sweet potatoes in 15 min, bone broth in 120 min (vs 24 hours!), and on and on.  It also functions as a rice cooker and a slow cooker.  I’m a huge fan and it has made my dinner game so much stronger!

L’Oreal Root Cover Up

Y’all, my gray hairs are getting out of control! I count my blessings that I have my health and a full head of hair.  I’m not so thrilled about how gray I’m getting, but early graying (pre-30’s!) runs in my family so I was bound to be affected.  This spray is a life saver!  I have managed to only see my Michigan hairdresser even though I live in MD, so I’m going much longer between appointments.  Right now I’m over 3 months from my last hair appointment and my grays are fierce! A few shots of this spray along my part and my temples, and I look 10 years younger!

Sistema Lunch Cube

I’m not a huge fan of plastic storage containers (we use glass Pyrex containers for most food storage) but I’m in love with these lunch cubes!  Grace takes lunch to school most days and Andy packs lunch for work.  We were going through a lot of plastic sandwich baggies and it make me cringe to throw them away every day.  Plus, it can be hard to neatly stuff a big sandwich into those little suckers! I grabbed one of these cubes at TJMaxx and it’s been more convenient than I could have imagined! Plus, it’s reusable! I fill the large section with a sandwich or sometimes beans and a couple cheese sticks, then I fill one smaller section with a veggie and the other with fruit. BOOM! Lunch is served :)

Field To Cup

You’ve probably heard of monthly subscription boxes like Birchbox or Ipsy Glam Bag…for a monthly fee they send you samples of beauty items to try out.  Well, Field to Cup is a tea subscription box!  Only instead of little beauty samples, they send you a BUNCH of amazing, high-quality tea to enjoy each month.

Field to Cup reached out to me to see if I wanted to try one of their monthly boxes and I jumped at the opportunity.  I’m on a health and weight-loss journey right now and as such, I’ve totally nixed my night time snacking.  I still get the urge to indulge in something after the kids go to bed and I’m enjoying time to myself, and I’ve been using hot tea to satisfy that urge! It’s a healthy low or no calorie way to treat myself and it’s been working.

My usual teas come from the grocery store and they are good, but I’ll admit they are a far cry from premium teas.  Have you ever sampled tea from a Teavana store at the mall?? OMG it’s so rich and vibrant tasting compared to grocery store tea bags!  Tea from Teavana also comes with a hefty pricetag, so I’ve only purchased it once.

Field to Cup teas are absolutely delicious and, I think, a better value than teas from specialty shops like Teavana.  Two of my favorites were the Roobios Belgian Kiss and Champagne Toast Fruit tea (below from left to right)

Just by looking at them you can tell they are superior quality!  If you’re a tea lover and you want to expand your horizons or take your tea game up a notch, check out Field to Cup and try out a monthly box!!




Tea Discovery Monthly Subscription

Secret Ingredient Chicken Drumsticks

We had these secret ingredient chicken drumsticks for dinner tonight and I realized this recipe has been a family favorite for over a year, but I’ve never taken the time to post it here on the blog!

I hesitate to even call it a “recipe” since there isn’t any measuring, but I’ll be happy to have all the seasonings listed here for quick reference :)

Like many of you, we eat a LOT of chicken…mostly chicken breasts since they are lean and versatile.  Periodically I grow so bored of all my chicken breast recipes.  Can you feel me on that??

This recipe is the perfect remedy for that!  Plus, it’s very budget friendly (Costco carries organic chicken drumsticks for a fraction of their organic chicken breast counterpart – AND – you can get a pack of 8 “natural” chicken drumsticks for under $3.  That’s a fantastic bargain!

The key to these delicious drumsticks is the secret ingredient….CINNAMON!


Ok, I know it sounds weird, but you have to trust me on this!  It adds a dimension of flavor that is surprisingly wonderful.  These drumsticks are juicy, tender, savory, packed full of flavor, and a little bit spicy if you add a little cayenne pepper (optional but recommended!).

They roast in the oven for an hour which isn’t exactly a quick dinner, but trust me…it’s SO EASY.  You prep them in about 5 minutes and flip them all over halfway through the bake time, but the rest of the magic can take place while you cuddle up on the couch or unwind from a long work day.

Another awesome feature is that these are Whole30 Approved!  I’m gearing up to do a Whole30 in January, and recipes like this make following the program guidelines so much tastier :)

Ok, enough chit chat…here’s the “recipe”


Secret Ingredient Chicken Drumsticks
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 drumsticks
  • Chicken Drumsticks (I used a pack of 8, but you can make as many as you like!)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper (optional but recommended!)
  1. Preheat oven to 400*
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
  3. Lay drumsticks out on the baking sheet in an even layer making sure to have some space between each one (if making a large batch, use 2 pans rather than overcrowding a single pan)
  4. Drizzle the top of each drumstick with a little olive oil (approx ½ teaspoon per leg if I had to guess)
  5. Sprinkle the top of each drumstick FIRST with salt
  6. Then sprinkle each of the following (don't go overboard but don't be shy either):
  7. pepper
  8. garlic powder
  9. cinnamon
  10. paprika
  11. cayenne pepper (go easy on this unless you like things HOT)
  12. Turn each drumstick over onto the opposite side and repeat steps 4-10.
  13. Place baking sheet on the middle rack of your preheated oven and set a timer for 30 minutes.
  14. When 30 minutes have passed, remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip every drumstick over.
  15. Set the timer for another 30 minutes.
  16. When the timer rings again, remove drumsticks from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Here’s a vlog showing what I did!

Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Y’all, I bought an Instant Pot on Cyber Monday after hearing lots of buzz about them all over the blog world! Just the other day I used it to make a delicious batch of Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup, but let me tell you a little back story…

On Cyber Monday, Walmart was selling the Instant Pot for $69 which is $30 cheaper than the normal price, so I pulled the trigger and ordered one.

My slow cooker is 13 years old and the glass lid recently cracked.  I wanted to just replace the lid, but it would have cost almost the same price as a new slow cooker!  This meant I would be in the market for a new crock pot – OR – pressure cooker as the case may be :)

What is an Instant Pot, you might ask?

It’s basically a slow cooker/crockpot, rice maker, pressure cooker all-in-one miracle machine.

My curiosity was piqued early on when I saw Instant Pot recipes floating around the internet.  HOWEVER, when the pot was actually delivered to my door, I kind of panicked and let it sit in my foyer for over a week…maybe 2!

I was too lazy to figure out a new contraption, and I was a little intimidated by the hefty instruction manual and plethora of buttons and settings.

I guess I’d hoped it would be as simple as turning it on and pushing a button.

Turns out it’s not too much more complicated than that!!

Don’t let the complicated user manual overwhelm you.  I’m going to walk you through a quick and EASY recipe that will have you rocking out that Instant Pot with gusto!

Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup!


5.0 from 1 reviews
Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Recipe type: Main Dish/Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 32oz chicken stock (I used a box, but you can use homemade)
  • 6 cups (approximately) peeled and diced yukon gold potatoes (about 1 inch cubes)
  • salt and pepper to taste (just shake a little of both in!)
  • ¾ - 1 cup cream cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and then chopped
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  1. Plug in Instant Pot and press the "Sauté" button
  2. Wait a few seconds for a beeping sound letting you know the pot is heating up
  3. Add tablespoon of butter and stir with a wooden spoon until it's melted
  4. Add diced onion and sauté until slightly soft, stirring occasionally
  5. Add minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, stirring consistently (don't let it burn!)
  6. Add chicken stock to deglaze any brown bits from the bottom of the pan (use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot while you stir everything together)
  7. Add diced potatoes and press the "Cancel" button
  8. Securely place the lid onto the pot and twist it into place (it will make a little musical tone when you do this correctly)
  9. Set valve on top of the lid to "Sealing" in the center position (Not venting on either side)
  10. Press the "Manual" button and set the time to 25 minutes (I think it automatically loads 25 minutes onto the timer)
  11. Wait several seconds for the pot to start (you will hear a series of beeps when it does)
  12. The pot will take a few minutes to come up to pressure. You'll know it has achieved pressure when the 25 minute timer starts ticking down.
  13. One the 25 minutes are up, use an oven mitt or silicone mitt (provided with the pot) to CAREFULLY move the lid's valve to "Venting"
  14. Steam will immediately shoot out of the valve (steer clear!)
  15. When the steam has stopped and quieted, use an oven mitt or silicone mitt to open the pot and set the lid aside.
  16. Unplug the Instant Pot and use an immersion blender to carefully blend the brothy cooked potato mixture (leave some chunks in tact) You could probably achieve similar results with an old fashioned potato masher if you don't have an immersion blender.
  17. Add cream cheese to the pot and stir until it melts and fully combines with the soup.
  18. Add diced bacon pieces (you may want to reserve some bacon crumbles for topping) and stir to combine
  19. You can add additional salt and pepper if needed (be careful taking a taste's HOT!)
  20. Serve topped with sharp cheddar cheese, green onions and bacon crumbles (if desired).
  21. Enjoy!

***Subbing in ghee for the butter and full-fat coconut milk for the cream cheese would make this recipe Whole30 compliant!  Of course read your bacon labels and skip the cheese too….

I vlogged the making of this soup, check out this video for some footage of the process!!

2016 Halloweekend!


Last week was Halloween and we ended up having a fun-filled weekend!! Parties and events over 3 days…the kids were thrilled :)

Avery came home from school on Friday with a pink nose and cute little whiskers.  Gosh, I love this sweet girl.



I was happy the kids got to wear their costumes more than once, but by Halloween evening it seemed like some of the novelty had worn off because they had fully suited up twice already. Ha!

Here they are on Saturday afternoon before we went to the first event: a party on base with other military friends.


Grace was a fast cheetah and Avery was Princess Belle.  They both had full costumes on and faces of makeup.


Drew was a fire fighter, complete with ash streaks on his face.  I swear, I could have gobbled him up in this costume!


I had to get a shot of Andy with all three of them on our pretty leafy lawn.


I took a bunch of Insta story clips the night of the party on base, but I forgot to take pics or save any of the video clips to share here! Boo.

I do have this cute selfie of Andy and I :)


And I snapped a picture of Andy and Drew kicking a ball around the field.  Drew was cracking up as he ran after Andy.  What a precious moment they shared…

The party was really well done.  There were tons of Pinterest worthy halloween snacks everywhere, people brought appetizers and desserts, food was catered by Panera and Chick-Fil-A, and the kids could run on the field, play on the playscape, paint paper mache pumpkins, bob for apples, jump in the bounce house and take a swing at the giant pumpkin pinata!  I think this party was the highlight of the weekend for our kids.


It was a great turnout!  We’re tucked in the middle a little to the left.

On Sunday afternoon our church had trunk-or-treating and a fall festival with a hayride, bounce house, hot dog lunch and lots of room for the kids to run and play.

I was so proud of all 3 kids!  They were very polite at each trunk, only taking on piece of candy and always saying thank you :)



Andy and the girls were walking the prayer maze, but Drew was enthralled with the festival events down the hill. Lol


Be still my beating heart.

Sunday night we chilled out at home and ate a “snacky dinner” after Andy and the kids raked up some of our MANY leaves.


If you follow me on Instagram you know I’ve recently fallen in love with Aldi. Our budget was getting uncomfortably tight and I needed to trim some fat.  Our grocery bill had gotten super high and my obsession with organic food was starting to become unrealistic in this season of life.  I discovered an Aldi about 25 minutes away and the first time I went, I bought a week’s worth of groceries for HALF what I normally pay!  I almost fell over at the checkout counter.

Anyway…I digress.

This fun platter was an assortment of things I had on hand (chicken spinach sausages from Costco), pickles and hot mustard from the fridge, a Panera baguette leftover from Saturday night’s party, and apples, aged white cheddar, and jarred pesto from Aldi!  We all had fun talking and eating and the kids enjoy getting to choose what they want to eat, rather than me plating it up for them.  I’d like to see these platters become a weekend tradition :)

Monday both girls wore their costumes to school and they each had a parade with their classmates.  Here’s princess Belle who is now missing her underskirt, all makeup, and her wand. LOL



I wanted to get a video of her “parading” but when she walked my way she had a GIANT booger hanging from her lip and she was flicking it around with the tip of her tongue.  Ah, three year olds!


Here’s her class posing for a picture.  She was very excited her teachers dressed up like “Thing 1” and “Kevin the minion”.  I’m glad she wasn’t bothered by the other Belle whose costume was incredible!  At three they haven’t usually fallen too far into the comparison trap which is awesome.

Grace’s school parade had a huge turnout!  The littles and I walked up to school to get a glimpse of Grace and we were really excited when we spotted her :)

Monday night we trick-or-treated around our neighborhood with Grace’s friend from school and her parents.  It was a lot of fun and really helped us enjoy our first Halloween away from our Michigan friends.


It was our first Halloween in years that we weren’t freezing and/or soaked with rain!!  I was thankful for milder temps and 3 children who had a wonderful time collecting buckets full of candy for me to secretly eat after they went to bed.  Ha!

All in all it was a great weekend and everyone had fun.

Video Killed The Radio Star

Or Insta-stories killed the blogger!

Yikes.  I have been prettttty quiet around here these days.

YET….I’m chronicling my daily life more than ever over on Instagram.

I’ve been having leaving video clips of our day-to-day activities over there.  They’re only 10 second clips and they disappear after 24 hours and they’ve been a fantastic way for me to connect with friends and family back home and also new friends that I’ve gotten to know through their videos.

The bummer for me is that nothing is permanently captured :(  The clips are fun and silly and a wonderful peek into my children’s lives at this stage but POOF! After a day they are gone.

When I share pictures and stories of the kids here, I get to come back and re-visit the stories and phases again and again, even years later.

This poses a dilemma for me!

This blog is so special to me.  It’s been the avenue to so much creativity, so many friendships, conferences, opportunities and just plain awesomeness in my life.

I feel like I’m abandoning it when I leave it vacant and outdated.  I still love cooking and sharing recipes and exploring my faith and stories about our life adventure and yet I cannot seem to bring myself to drag out the laptop and pluck any of it out.

I don’t want to regret my lack of posting and documenting our life.  I’m gonna have to be more intentional if I want to keep this space alive.

I’m still actively following a ton of blogs and I love when they post updates and I get so bummed out when they go quiet.

Creative outlets are my jam.  Lately I get super antsy if I’m not working on something.  I’ve been painting and baking and crafting a little each day and it’s so very good for me.  This blog scratches a big creative itch for me too.  I can’t forget that and I can’t forget how much I love being able to go back and see where we’ve been.

I keep trying to figure out a way to combine my love for the video chronicling and the blog writing.  If I was a techy person with programming and coding skills I would totally be creating an app or program that captured insta-stories for easy uploading on YouTube.  That is a service I would PAY to use.  Then all my insta story vidoes could be saved permanently on YouTube and even shared here on the blog from time to time.

The only thing I’ve been able to think of so far is saving some of my favorite insta story clips to my phone and uploading them to YouTube.  It’s a tedious task, but I’ll share a few favorite clips here.  Maybe it’ll sway you over to Instagram to follow along there :)  Or better yet…get you over to Instagram to share your own stories so I can see all of YOU!  That would be like Christmas morning for me.  Seriously.

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