Ready, Set, GO!

Life around the Holidays is busy, that isn’t news to anyone. But after the Holidays my work took over my life. I attended conferences, spent some time away from home and had a few weeks where I was working 10 hour days, every day. I was writing a grant application to continue the program I currently am running. The grant gives our program $135,000 to run a quality program for our little ones. Towards the end of writing this competitive grant, my boss’ boss told us we couldn’t apply.

So… in saying all that.. because of work being so busy my life was put on hold. We didn’t see much of our friends and family, working on the nursery was put on hold, updating the blog was paused as well. I had a four day weekend last weekend where I made that time about me. I caught up with friends and work around the house. This weekend we are visiting my family. I feel refreshed. I’m ready to get back to preparing for our little one, sharing our life with our blog readers, spending quiet evenings with my husband and catching up with family and friends. So here is to surprise ending that resulted in a recharged me!

The last two months have been crazy but we did our best to squeeze in some fun as well! Here is a glimpse at what we did during January!

January started as January always starts. Celebrating the end of one year and beginning of another. Our good buddy, Lance, was able to join us for the second year in a row! We enjoyed a chill night at our place. We went out at midnight and popped poppers, hugged and did our yearly tradition of burning the things we want to start the new year without.
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After half a dozen pictures, not one turned out…
IMG_3628This one is my favorite!

For as long as I can remember my family has always taken a few minutes at the start of the New Year to write down things we want to start the New Year without, bad memories from the best year, etc. We then burn them to signify leaving the things behind.
IMG_3622 A week or so later, Lance was back! We had dinner with his parents and then Lance stayed the night again. We were able to drive him to the airport as he headed back to grad school in Florida.

While he was here, we tried out a new Kinnect game we got.

It got intense!
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I think I was doing the long jump here.. not sure..

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The boys racing and jumping hurdles!

IMG_3663I love these boys!

We didn’t get a chance to celebrate the holidays with our church pals so instead we got together for brunch after the holiday chaos had passed.

Ben and I made fruit kabobs to add to our brunch!

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They were quite yummy and cute too!

Ben acquired this from his parent’s house.

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His great-great grandpa made it in 1870!

A different post will show you what Ben did with it!

Ben spent an evening out with some buddies, I spent the evening in bed relaxing!

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These were my friends for the evening! Caramel cookie crunch gelato and hot chocolate!

We got together with some of Ben’s co-workers and their families one evening. Ben brewed with his buddy, Matt, and the rest of us spent some time socializing and playing with Matt’s two little girls.

Matt’s wife is due a month after I am so I made a chocolately dessert perfect for two pregos!

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I made a chocolate cake, poked holes in it using a straw, poured chocolate pudding over it and then crushed up Oreos on top. It sat in the fridge for a few hours before we dug into the gooey chocolately deliciousness!

IMG_3721I have spent some time deep cleaning different areas of our home. I had a to do list all written one morning but that to do list was thrown out the window when I opened the pantry one morning and saw this….
IMG_3725MOUSE POOP!
A mouse had somehow gotten into our pantry and chewed into two bags of flour and a handful of other items. I spent quite a bit of time inspecting everything and getting rid of anything the mouse had snacked on. EW! Thankfully we haven’t seen anything since this photo was taken and the trap we set is still empty!

The end of January was spent in Kalamazoo celebrating my future sister-in-law’s birthday! We “surprised” her by decorating the apartment. 
IMG_3738Justin didn’t know where the tape was so he used a stapler to attach streamers to the wall.
IMG_3740The party supplies!
IMG_3745We had a few moments to spare and we snapped a few pictures!

SURPRISE!
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Happy 22nd Birthday Tia!

IMG_3755Justin picked out this yummy Heath Ice Cream cake from Dairy Queen and we also went out to dinner to celebrate with the birthday girl!

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Making: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Every three weeks Ben and I attend a bible study with a couple people from our church. At every gathering someone makes a dessert. I love this tradition. I get something super tasty every few weeks and I occasionally get to try a new recipe! 


In May I made Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies. They were very sweet (even for my sweet tooth) so I’m not sure how often I will be making them but I was happy to at least try the recipe!


I got the recipe from Recipe Girl here



Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

COOKIE DOUGH (EGG FREE!):
3/4 cup salted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chips (for topping)

Directions:

1. Prepare the brownies: I just used a box of brownies but Recipe Girl makes her own. 
2. Prepare the cookie dough: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to combine butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Mix in milk and vanilla. Mix in flour just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Spread cookie dough over the cooled brownies. Refrigerate until the dough is quite firm. It’s okay to speed up the process and place it in the freezer too. The firmer the dough, the easier it will be to cut into neat squares. Use a sharp knife to cut the brownies. You may need to wipe the knife off with a paper towel in between cuts since the fudgy brownies and cookie dough will tend to stick to the knife a bit. These brownies are best to serve placed inside cupcake papers and served with a fork.
4. If you’d like to add chocolate drizzle on top, melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Scoop the melted chocolate into a zip baggie and snip off the corner. Squeeze the bag to drizzle the chocolate on top of each brownie. 
Enjoy!

Making: Camo Cupcakes

I wanted to make something fun for my brother’s birthday. What says Justin more than CAMO CUPCAKES!! I got the idea from here on Pinterest. 


They were super easy to make and I foresee myself going through the same process in the future with fun color combinations! (Please forgive me for the bad photos towards the end, my brother came early and I was RUSHING to get the cupcakes baked and put away before he noticed!)

Make the cupcake batter and divide it into thirds.
(Note: I only used half of the cake batter, the other half was used to make a separate cake)


Make three camo colors; I made dark green, bright green and brown. 
Add blue and yellow to make green. I added extra green dye to one cup to make a vibrant green. For the brown I mixed a ton of food colorings together. 

Starting with one color add in about a tablespoon into the cupcake liner. Then add the second color. Then the third. The batter separates as you add each color leaving the cupcakes looking like this. 

 Then take a butter knife and swirl around the colors. 

Done! 

I wanted the guests to see the camo so I didn’t frost the cupcakes. I dyed vanilla frosting bright green and let the guest frost their own. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dessert

I mentioned a while back about adding some Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects on the blog and look forward to sharing some of those with you. I also want to include some of the recipes I am making or have made in the past.


Here is a dessert I made while Justin and Tia were visiting.


Since it was over 100 degrees most of the week I wanted something that was cool and didn’t include heat (microwave, stove or oven!). 


I knew the recipe book I got from Grandma Kathy for Christmas would be perfect.


Simple Desserts Made Special with Cool Whip


Chocolate Peanut Butter Desserts


2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup thawed Cool Whip
2 cups cold milk
1 package (4-serving size) Jello-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding and Pie Filling

All the goodies I used for this recipe.

Four Ingredients! Perfect!

Mix 2 tablespoons milk and peanut butter in small bowl. 

Stir in whipped topping. 

Pour 2 cups milk into large bowl. Add pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes.

Spoon pudding and whipped topping mixture alternately.
I used Pampered Chef bowls because they had lids!

Refrigerate one hour or until ready to serve.
Garnish with additional whipped topping. 

Delicious!
It was chocolatey and peanut buttery.. perfect!