Whimsical Wednesday - "Fall door Decor"

Hello Dolls!  I think everyone is absolutely done with this heat.  I love the carefree days of summer, but I'm ready for fall.  I want to ride bikes with my kids, play ball at the park, and enjoy soups and stews and pumpkin bread.  In observance of the upcoming season, and the new month I came up with these beautiful fall doors.  I love decorating for the fall and adding a bit of comfort and warmth to my front door.  Enjoy these photos, and I hope they inspire you to add some fall love to your entryway.
 XOXO!  Make it a great one! - B

All images Via Here and Here


Back in action, and a delish recipie to boot! Tasteful Tuesday - "Baked Manicotti"

Yes I know.  Two weeks since I last posted.  I have an excuse though I promise (even though I think excuses are weak)... My last semester of school started and It has been a transition getting my schedule, the hubs, and my mommy schedule to work in sync. On top of that I battled a horrific summer cold, Capt. Character had croup, and our nebulizer breathing machine was on around the clock until he felt better.  Yowzer it has been a busy few weeks.  Things are settled, everyone is happy and healthy now and I am thrilled to be back to daily blogging and inspiring.  Now on to the good stuff! Fall is coming!!! Oh boy oh boy I can hardly wait to bust out the fall decor, and layer my fall wardrobe.  I picked up some killer boots the other day that I can't wait to wear!  Oh and did anyone catch the Pioneer Woman's debut show on food network?  Loved it!  Even my hubby sat and watched it!  I just can't believe it is already two days until September!  Soccer starts this week for us, and between school, sports, Mr. Happy pants Birthday and the holidays, I know this fall will whizz by.  I plan on doing a lot of fun things these next few moths that I will just have to blog about!  Sorry for that randomness, here is the recipe for the day:  drum roll please.......
It's a baked pasta, need I say more?  We adore this dish in our house, and eat it often, especially when the hubby's friends are coming over or the missionaries.  Enjoy!  I also have a spinach version from pampered chef that is out of this world, that I will post in the near future!  XOXO Loves, enjoy your day!


Baked Manicotti (from Mel's kitchen cafe)
Tomato Sauce1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (in juice)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
Cheese Filling and Pasta3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil 16 no-boil lasagna noodles , I like barilla brand
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs; set aside.
To assemble, pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.
Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Using soup spoon, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. (You should be able to fit 8 manicotti in each row, allowing all 16 to fit in the dish). Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.
Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Bake until cheese is browned and bubbly, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

The manicotti can be prepared right up until the baking step then covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.(great if your about to have a baby)!
****(If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.


Tasteful Tuesday - "Snack Time"

Happy Tuesday all you Beauties!  As a spin off to my post yesterday on Momma Monday, I am sharing with you today...Homemade snacks that you will approve of for your little ones (who am I kidding, and your big ones, I LOVE these snacks too)!  I hope you enjoy these cook free snacks that will feel your kiddos up with goodness, and will make them smile too. 

Bag O' Teddies:
  • 1  single-serving-size bag  bear-shape graham snack cookies or animal crackers
  • 1/4  cup  vanilla or fruit-flavor low-fat yogurt*
  • 1/4  cup  sliced fresh fruit or berries (strawberries, mandarin orange segments, blueberries, bananas)
1. Use scissors to cut open bag of cookies along one of the short ends. Spoon yogurt over cookies in bag. Top with fruit. Serve from the bag with a spoon. Makes 1 serving.
3. *Note: If desired, use vanilla or chocolate low-fat pudding instead of yogurt.  (Our fav is graham or chocolate bears, with strawberry Greek yogurt and bananas or sliced strawberries).

Carrot Crinkle Fries: **We eat these when we grill burgers too.  YUM!
  • 1  pound  carrots
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
Directions 1. Slice carrots into 1/2-inch-wide sticks using a crinkle cutter. Toss with olive oil, dried thyme, and salt. Bake at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft, on a parchment paper–lined pan.

Fruit Kabobs:
  • 4    cantaloupe or honeydew melon slices
  • 2  oz.  reduced-fat cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese slices
  • 4    fresh blackberries
  • 4    whole fresh strawberries
1. Use 1- to 1-1/2-inch cookie cutters cutter to cut shapes out of cantaloupe and honeydew slices and cheese. Thread fruit and cheese onto 4 small skewers. (CUT OFF SHARP ENDS!) Place in a flat storage container and chill until serving time (or up to 24 hours). Serves 2.

Safari Snacks: A fun twist on Ants on a Log
  • 1/2  of an 8-ounce package  reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
  • 1/2  cup  creamy peanut butter
  • 2  to 3 tablespoons  milk
  • 2  teaspoons  honey
  •   Celery sticks, animal crackers, and/or assorted dippers such as peeled jicama sticks, carrot sticks, apple wedges, pear wedges, or graham cracker sticks
Directions 1. For dip, in a small mixing bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in peanut butter, milk, and honey until well combined and smooth. If desired, chill before serving.
2. To serve, spread dip in celery sticks and garnish with animal crackers and cut-up fresh fruit. Or, serve with assorted dippers. Makes twenty 1-tablespoon servings (1-1/4 cups).


Momma Monday - "Mom approved on the go Snacks"

It's Monday!  Did anybody Else's weekend just fly by?  Wow!  Here is to another week.   So now that school is back in session I wanted to share  two of our favorite on the go snacks that mom actually approves of. I'm talking snacks that are full of goodness that get us through busy school days.  The first one is Kids Cliff Bars.  My boys devour these bars of wholesome nutrition, and I am left feeling satisfied they are getting protein, vitamins and organic grains in their little bodies.   Their favorite is the Chocolate Brownie and the Chocolate Chip.  Costco sells them in bulk (LOVE Costco) and I pack them everyday in the boys backpack.  They are loaded with fiber, have a chocolate gooey taste and they are all natural.  Need I say more?  Plus they are Delish!  My hubs even eats them before he hits the gym for a quick energy boost!  Secondly The Go squeeze applesauce packs (also at Costco) are a lifesaver!  I have these stashed in the kids lunch everyday, and I even tote at least 3 at a time in my purse (aka my lifeline).  These are squeezable fun in a pouch that needs no spoon!  Again these are all natural applesauce packs that have no added or refined sugar, no artificial anything, and they are chalk full of vitamin C, A and fiber.  They count as a fruit serving and are the most convenient snack around!  Now my on the go snack of choice was introduced to me from my bff.  The Luna bar.   Oh My.  The lemon zest flavor is too die for.  They are made especially for women with folic acid, calcium, fiber, and all the vitamins we need.  They are high in protein and low in calories.  I also stash these in my car and purse and eat them everyday between meals.  They are great for prego mamma's as well, being high in folic acid.  Mommas need energy too during the school year!!!  On another note I picked up some adorable pirate themed lunch containers in the dollar section at target.  They are so cute, and I also scored some cupcake holders shaped as a cupcake.  I packed the boys cupcakes in their lunch for dessert the second day of school in these just so I could use them!  I adore cute lunch containers and it just seems to make the kiddos lunch a little more fun.  One last thing... Please always include a note in your kiddos backpack, on their snack, or in their lunch.  Pottery Barn kids has the cutest premade notes with riddles on them that kids can share with their friends at lunch.  Genius!  Enjoy your Monday Loves! 


Mr. HappyPants

Captain Character


Fashion Foward Friday - "Aztec Prints"

It's Friday!  My boys have survived the first week of school and they love it!  Phew!  What a sigh of relief.  I majorly broke down when I sent them off the first day, I miss my boys so much when they are gone.  Those kiddos are my life!  To keep me busy while they are away at school I have been swooning over the new Aztec prints that are everywhere for the fall.  I love the hippie vibe they send off, and I really am enjoying the print on a tunic style.  Pair this with leggings and cognac knee boots for the fall and you have yourself a winning combo!  Enjoy your day Loves!  I know I will be tonight as we head to the DBacks game with my hubby, kiddos, and the hubs friend.  Don't worry, I'll eat a churro and hot dog for you. 




The Beauty Bag Thursday - "Natural Beauty through feel good Endorphines"

Good day!  So I have a question... Do you ever notice how beauty radiates on an individuals face when they are doing something they have a passion for?  Well my humble observation is that when someone is doing something they enjoy bliss sets in and creeps the corners of the mouth upward.  This immediately tightens the skin, creates a smile and a sparkle in the eye.   It's the truth.  I think that is why motherhood is so beautiful on most women.  We have purpose when raising and tending to kids, therefore a rundown, tired momma even has a glow.  This is also true when doing something physical.  A bike ride can immediately create windblown, natural waves and send a rush of endorphins to the brain.  Running through a Field of flowers sends color to the cheeks and lightens the soul.  Being fit and active however, is not always easy.  Especially when your a mom and have many other hats too wear daily.  So if doing activities that make you joyful create inner beauty that shines outward, and being active also creates a healthy glow, why not do both, at the same time!  I say get active with your kiddos and play soccer or a game of tag. Or how about dance in the kitchen with your babes or your hubby. Laughing with a girlfriend while doing errands is a feel good and active time as well.   Endorphins are released when we are happy, and moving  (you know the feel good natural drug your brain releases).  I constantly have my ear buds in my ears while I'm moving around the house dancing.  I sing, shake my booty and move around while I unload groceries, clean, put away laundry, or even cook dinner.  If the kiddos are home I put our jams on the speakers and they join in!  It's fun, gets everyone laughing (mostly at my expense, but I don't care) and it burns calories at the same time.  That great hormone will be released and those endorphins will replace bad hormones like cortisol which is released by stress and lack of sleep and is stored in your belly as FAT.  Get up and move ladies and do something you LOVE!   Sounds easy enough right? well it is!!!!  A few months ago I took  a modern dance class to challenge myself.  I cursed under my breath every Monday and Wednesday as i drove to meet Miss Cherie and her tights.  Oh man was she tough, but I honestly was in the best shape of my life while dancing to her constant commands "relive', plie', leap!, floor fall, Point!" It was unrelenting for an hour but always left me happier then I woke up.  Got get your groove on you beautiful ladies and enjoy a more toned version of you. Not only will your soul be happy, that happiness will shine through as beauty, and make your heart healthy too, now that is natural beauty at it's purest form, and that is definitely priceless.  Make today a great one Dolls!


Whimsical Wednesday - "Baking Beauties"

I adore cute little kitchen accessories.  There is something about using a beautiful pink spatula, or cute measuring cups that make baking and cooking all the more fun and enjoyable.  I am swooning over these amazingly adorable measuring spoons.  I must purchase the anthropology set ASAP!  I don't know about you, but these would make a great stocking stuffer.  I would also love to give these as a gift tied with twine or pretty ribbon to a stack of handwritten favorite recipes on cards to a new bride, or for a friends birthday.  Enjoy your Wednesday ladies!  Oh and PS, I made the smores bars for the boys for after school today and they are YUMMY!!!!  Let's just say my lunch was chocolate, marshmallow cream, and graham crackers. 
XOXO - Happy Wednesday Dolls!
West Elm


Mod Cloth

Anthro (on my list of NEEDS)

VIA (farmstand)


I'm Back! Tasteful Tuesday - "Smore's Bars"

Hello Ladies!  I am back from a much need MIA "stay-cation" with my Hubby and sweet little kiddos.  We enjoyed going to sun splash, getting school shopping done, having a pizza making night, making homemade cinnamon rolls (that was a huge mess, but so yummy and so fun), and enjoying basketball games in the backyard and family movie nights snuggled on the couch.  We went out to eat at some of our fav places and Loved every minute of our relaxed time home.  We even finally finished our two day monopoly game. Anyways, My boys are starting school tomorrow and I have so many mixed emotions.  I adore having my babes home all day.  I miss them terrible when they are away and my fav time of the school year is when it's pick up time.  On the positive note I'm excited for the boys to learn and play with friends and succeed.  I want to have something delish for them when they get home on the first day so this is what I'm making.  We fancy smores at our home and these look so divine.  I'll let you know how they turn out.  In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying your week and will enjoy these gooey smore goodness!  XOXO


Smore Cookie Bars - The Sisters Cafe

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (I used Hershey's)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.
  3. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick. Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars.


The Beauty Bag Thursday - "Beautiful Blessings"

Hello Loves! So for the Beauty Bag Thursday I have a different approach today.  Many products from the Beauty land can help us achieve our personal best.  I mean lets be honest, without my Chi iron I would look like a frizzy ball poodle, and without my Tarte eyebrow pencil well... My eyebrows would be a tad scary.  My Clarasonic Skin brush keeps my face dry skin free, and I couldn't live without my Bare Minerals.  Yes the Beauty world does indeed help us look our best... However so does remembering our blessings, giving service, being generous and nurturing to others and doing what makes us happy. When we remember those around us and show love and gratitude that spiritual goodness shines through.  Out inward souls really do create that outward beauty.  So, For the next few days I will be enjoying my blessings (that are my children and Husband) and spending every second with them playing and giving them my time.  The Hubs took the rest of the week off and we are going to have some quality family time.  So blogging world I will resume blogging on Monday, and until then I will be thriving in the time I have with my loves, and enjoying the beauty they bring to my life and soul.  Enjoy you weekend and be grateful for your blessings.


Whimsical Wednesday - "DIY CakeStand"

Happy Wednesday darlings!  I have a confession.  I am IN LOVE with something else besides my hubby.  It is cake stands.  Oh how I love a stunning pedestal cake stand.  I am always thinking of creative ways to use these lovely culinary display pieces in other ways besides to perch cake upon.  I really am enamored with them.  The other day I came across this idea from the Rachel ray show featuring budget friendly party planning.  Get ready ladies it's brilliant... a DIY cake stand made from a plate and candlestick!  Yes, really, it's that simple and it looks amazing. 

I love the white clean plate with the pop of color on the stand.

This is so vintage looking yet elegant.  LOVE

Pie plates are brilliant for this idea

You will need:
  • Gorilla glue or other strong glue
  • plate
  • candlestick or Goblet
  • Spray Paint
Now simply Paint the parts of your cake stand you want to paint.  Let dry completely. Now apply a large amount of gorilla glue to the top of the candlestick and place in the middle of a turned over plate.  Place a heavy book on top to help the pieces adhere and let dry 24 hrs. Voila!  An inexpensive, one of a kind, vintage looking cake stand. You could even go all out and get pretty with Ribbon, a Monogram letter, or even make it tiered.  The possibilities are endless.  I plan on making a three tiered beauty for my kitchen island.  Just make sure you always hand wash your cake stands.
 Enjoy Pretty ladies, and have a perfect day!
The goblet adds a unique weighted base.  Perfect!


Tasteful Tuesday - "Eggplant Parmesan"

Hello dolls!  I hope this Tuesday finds you well.  Before I dive into Tasteful Tuesday's recipe I have a random question... Do you adore Elton John?  Seriously, yesterday the boys and I were driving in the car and Piano man came on.  I couldn't help but be in awe over the piano solo part (I used to teach piano lessons so I LOVE the piano)  I have all his albums and could listen to him all day long.  My all time fav is Tiny Dancer... BEST SONG EVER!!! Okay, I digress but please comment out of my own curiosity if you are indeed an Elton fan.  On to the Yummy stuff... It's Italian and it includes cheese and crusty breadcrumbs, need I say more?  Eggplant Parmesan is a fav dish of mine.  I LOVE eggplant for many reasons but one is it is meat free which means it's cost effective and its so healthy being it is a dark veggie.  (Well it's actually a fruit because it has seeds!  Lucky you, you learned something new today).  Anyway, I cook Monday through Thursday, and Sunday at our house.  Friday is usually pizza or out to eat with the kids and Saturday is usually date night.  So, during the week I always do a meat free dish.  This one is a winner at our house and even my picky boys love this dinner.  I find my eggplants at sprouts for inexpensive, and I think they taste the best as well.  I hope you enjoy this dish and can include it in your dinner rotation. 
Have a terrific Tuesday you lovely ladies!!!

Eggplant Parmesan:
  • 2 eggplants (more if your cooking for more than 6)
  • 3 eggs whisked
  • 1/2 cup of Italian style bread crumbs
  • 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of Italian seasonings
  • Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup shredded or less if you prefer)
  • Spaghetti sauce (I like Bertolli because it's natural and I can buy it in bulk at Costco)
  1. Peel the skin of the eggplant, cut into 1 inch thick round slices.
  2. Sprinkle salt all over eggplant and let sit in a colander over a bowl for 15 minutes. (Eggplant retains a lot of water, and this helps the eggplant from turning mushy in the oven as the salt draws out the moisture).  Pat dry with paper towels and assemble in a single layer on a tinfoil lined cookie sheet.
  3. Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes or until tender.  (Basically this roasts the eggplant..DELISH!
  4. Mix garlic with beaten eggs and Italian seasoning.  Dip eggplant in egg mixture, then dip in breadcrumbs coating thoroughly. 
  5. Place a little marinara on the bottom of a sprayed baking dish.  Place a layer of coated eggplant, then sauce, then cheese.  Repeat layers until eggplant is used.
  6. Bake for 20 more minutes at a reduced temperature of 350 until heated through and cheese is melted and divine.
*** I serve this over whole wheat spaghetti, steamed broccoli, and french bread for "mopping" up the crumb topping and sauce.  MMMMM!


Momma Monday - "Let your Kids be Kids"

Happy Monday my fellow Mommys!  I came across this Article (click for article) the other day and I really took it to heart.  Play time for kids equals learning.  When kids get to be themselves they are given the opportunity to enjoy "their" world not moms or dads, or friends.  It is important to let kiddos have down time to be themselves and play and explore, especially during the school year when schedules and studying can be very tiresome.  I really enjoyed this reading and I hope you do too.  On another note, I also came across this great recipe.  This is perfect for a quick breakfast with a side of whole wheat toast or a bran muffin.  This would be again be great for the lunchbox with a side of turkey on whole wheat crackers and would also be fabulous for an after school snack with a side of graham crackers.  Enjoy your day Loves!

Fresh Fruit with Orange Yogurt Dunk:
This recipe ups the fun factor when it comes to eating fruit, and adds a little calcium and protein to boot.


  • 1/3 cup low-fat Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh fruit, cut into cubes


  • Combine the yogurt, vanilla, maple syrup and orange juice in a small bowl and stir well. Serve with fresh fruit on the side.

Makes 2 Servings