Whoopie Pies from Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread Mix

We had our family pictures on Sunday, after the 20 minutes of chaos trying to get 3 kids to somewhat smile or look like they liked each other, we went over to Trader Joe’s for a dash more of craziness. Thankfully this time only the middle child was interested in pushing the tiny cart, countless heels were spared having just one kid on the loose!

I really enjoy Trader Joe’s… I still find it hard to shop and never know what to try, that’s where my mother-in-law comes to the rescue. Trader Joe’s should pay her to walk around the store as a shopper and talk up products. 99% of the things I bring home are her recommendations.  One thing that I wait for each fall is the Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix. I am not above telling you that I use box mixes from time to time… I picked up 2 boxes of my beloved pumpkin bread mix and went straight home to whip up whoopie pies.

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To make these fabulous little snacks, I followed the directions on the box and used my whoopie pie pan that is on lone from my mom. I found that baking them at 8 minutes was the perfect length of time. Once they were out of the oven and cooled, I whipped up some Cream Cheese Frosting {my favorite frosting, hands down}.

Here’s the recipe to the Cream Cheese Frosting that I use:

4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick of butter, softened

2 cups of powdered sugar

In a mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese. add the powdered sugar and mix on low for 3 minutes.

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My kids LOVED these and my hubby did, too! I think they are perfect to make if you’re needing something for cake walks, fall festivals, packaged up cute for a hostess gift or just because it’s fall. Not only do they taste wonderful, your home will smell wonderful, too!

nicole

Fall House Tour

it has come, the start of my most favorite time of year. even though we have only had a tease of fall like weather here in Georgia, which makes decorating with pumpkins when it’s in the 80′s outside sort of difficult. I really don’t like putting out my corn stalks in my tank top and flip flops, who knows what sort of bugs and spiders are going to be crawling all over you. but oh well… it’s fall, no matter how hot it is outside!

I, along with a million other people, count down the days that Starbucks starts offering the PSL. Freshen up my scarves, break out the boots and make plans to visit the local pumpkin patches. Picking apples, baking pumpkin bread and dusting off all of our seasonal decor just puts me in the best mood!!

I thought I would share what our house looks like this fall… my oldest son isn’t really into sweet Halloween, he has moved on to scary-bloody stuff {which I can’t handle}. I’m not a big decorator for Halloween… I prefer to put up just fall so that I can keep it up longer than 32 days. I’m one of those that puts Halloween up on October 1st and it is down November 1st. So our home is full of a mixture of both halloween and fall. Hope you enjoy!

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This is the first year I have actually used corn stalks. I’ve wanted to do something with them for forever… I found these at a local nursery, but I have seen them at Lowes, too.

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I LOVE this gathering basket. It is lined with plastic so that I can put fresh flowers in it.

Now for the inside…

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our entry

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This is my favorite wreath. My dad and I picked this baby up from Scott’s a couple of years ago. It usually hangs on our front door, but due to it being delicate, I decided to make it the focal point once you walk into our house.

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Just a little something on the kitchen counter

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The Pumpkin Pecan Waffles candle from Bath and Body Works is my favorite fall scent from them.

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This is our spooky mantel

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I decorate with mostly greys, creams, and black. You won’t find a whole lot of  ‘color’ around here. Maybe just a splash or 2. I have black paper bats cut out and strung on twine hanging from the antlers to the candelabra. I took picture frames that we weren’t using and put book pages and drew a spider. There is a black boa in the stick candle holder… trying to make it look like crow feathers. I found this cute shaped dried gourd at a local shop, perfect for my splash of color.

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our baby wouldn’t leave the witch legs alone when they were hanging out of a dresser, so they were moved to the mantel.

That it what our house looks like this fall/halloween :) Happy Fall!

nicole

Finally… a laundry room reveal

it’s been a long time coming, but i’ve finally taken pictures of our laundry room make over.  i have a love hate relationship with my laundry room. it’s tiny, that’s really my biggest complaint. i dream of a large mudroom with a place to fold and hang clothes, a sink to wash dirt out of baseball pants, and an ironing/steaming center so that i don’t have to set up my ironing board in the kitchen. but i just don’t have the space for those things… and trust me, i have doodled and blown walls out in my mind to get me the laundry room of my dreams. it’s just not possible.

since it is used everyday and it’s off my kitchen, i thought if i can’t fix the layout and usefulness, i might as well make it cute. if you know anything about me, know that i LOVE stripes. especially black and white stripes. just while writing this post, i see 6 different areas in my home that have black and white stripes {one day i will take you on a tour of my home to show you my love affair with stripes}. the art above my sofa, the rug in my family room, throw pillows on my front porch, the rug at my front door, the throw pillows at my kitchen table. it only made sense to have my laundry room have black and cream stripes, too.

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 we had just a standard flush mount builder-grade ugly light in here. we came across this cute vintage blown glass light fixture on a date night. it’s small, so it doesn’t get in the way of the Ikea cabinets we put up. plus, it puts a really pretty pattern on the ceiling when it’s on :)

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we had just a wire shelf above the washer and dryer. we took that down and hung these cabinets. My grandmother came over and did a load of laundry… she somehow helped me burn up the washing machine. The dryer is still kicking along… in the meantime, we have an unmatched set.

The cabinet doors are frosted, obviously you can see everything we store. On the right side, you’ll notice that I keep everything organized in black storage cubes from Walmart. Each one holds different things. I have one for rags, another one for the iron, starch and other ironing needs, there is one for light bulbs and of course a miscellaneous catch all cube.

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we hung this MDF trim board around the room to break up the wall, give it a decorative look, and to allow us to hang hooks on the wall for the laundry baskets, pool bag, and whatever else I don’t want sitting on the floor.

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we keep our shoes in here, too. that eliminates the “where are my shoes???”

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that’s our laundry room! It’s small, but it makes me happy.

nicole

lamb lollipops with old neighbors… and her ‘must haves’ when welcoming guests

you know those people who can whip up a good meal just opening up the pantry? they don’t measure anything, they don’t follow a recipe, they just create. we have the privilege of knowing someone who cooks just that way… it’s wonderful to watch her cook and dance around the kitchen pulling pots, opening jars, pouring wine… however it’s a little disheartening when you want the recipe for the dinner she made and dropped off at your house for no reason at all.

i wish i could say that we’ve known Kathy and her charming husband, Pete, for a long time, but truth be told they lived across the street from us for 2 years…. the entire first year and a half we only knew their names and would wave while checking the mail. finding out that Pete is an editor of a large hunting publication and my husbands affinity to hunting and the great outdoors sprang a friendship that should’ve started from the moment they moved in. after just 6 short months of brewing a friendship, Pete and Kathy moved to a new city. Not to far from here, but it’s not across the street. it’s been 4 months since they moved and we finally made it over to their house for dinner.

she is an entertainer. the ultimate hostess. when i think of someone who has deeply affected my desire to learn more about cooking and entertaining, she is one of the firsts. having dinner with them is so much fun… it’s rare that both husbands and wives get along… especially when there is a pretty good age difference between us {they are as old as our parents, which makes it even more fun!}. Chris and Pete chat about fishing trips and fall hunting plans while Kathy and I chat about olive bruschetta and paint colors. more than an entertainer and hostess, Kathy is brazen and bold. She is loud and fiery… the traits that i hope to grow between now and 60 :)

less about Kathy and Pete and more about what she served for dinner…

we started with roasted figs, scored into quarters and shoved with herbed goat cheese and prosciutto.  kathy3

this isn’t exactly the same recipe for the figs, but sounds yummy!

Kathy is very good at creating meals Sandra Lee style. for our second appetizer, she had taken already made tomato focaccia from the local grocery and topped it with goat cheese, and fresh basil. she baked it and then drizzled a balsamic  glaze over top. de.lish.

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i was fine just having those 2 things as my dinner… but that was just the beginning. for dinner, she made these lamb lollipops that were out of this world. i have to admit that lamb isn’t one of my most favorite dinner choices, but hers were grilled and a perfect medium rare. for the side, she melted butter and garlic, tossed in lima beans, parsley and cherry tomatoes. it was so fresh… perfect for summer. here is a link to a similar salad.

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the company and the food was just perfect.

nicole

heidi’s 1st birthday… the Pie Party

i can’t believe our sweet baby girl has turned one! we are so blessed to be the parents of such a determined, independent, smart and spunky girl. she already has her big brothers {and her daddy} wrapped.

it all started when we brought her home from the hospital. i started calling her different nicknames like ‘sister’ and ‘oh, girly’ {really original, huh?}. i eventually blurted out ‘Heidi Cakes’ during one of her diaper changes, which i was quickly corrected by her 3 year old brother that she was NOT a Heidi-Cake, but a Heidi Pie. That was it, a nickname was born. Throughout her entire first year she was rarely called just Heidi… the boys even introduce her to people as Heidi Pie. so when planning her first birthday, it was only fitting to have a Pie Party. And what a Pie Party we had!

we invited the usual… our parents, aunts, uncles, and close friends. we thought it would be so much fun to get the party goers involved, so we asked that everyone bring a homemade pie for a pie contest we would be having. i was so surprised that everyone got into this, BIG TIME! We had trash talkers, crust extraordinaires, pie baking newbies, veterans and even a couple that brought store-bought pies and switched them over into pretty pie plates thinking that they wouldn’t be found out, they were totally caught :)

to capture this party, we had Anna from Anna Hughes Photography come and get every detail.

the pie competition had 3 categories: 1} prettiest 2} tastiest 3} most original

to cut the sweet we had buckets filled with personal sized vanilla ice cream.

we took the party one step further and had different pizza pies. Sit back and get ready for 1,000 photos of Heidi’s Pie Party.

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Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

nicole

my inner ina

we were at the beach last week enjoying our last vacation of the summer. it never fails, while i’m away from home, i always come back really inspired to tackle projects, rearrange rooms in my house, and mostly… meal plan. my enthusiasm usually fades the moment i walk in the door and am faced with unpacking, starting laundry, a pantry and refrigerator completely empty. this time was different…  i decided that i wanted to start cooking ina garten recipes, mainly to learn her techniques and feed my family really delicious meals. my grandmother is here for the week so i thought it would be perfect timing to welcome her with my first ina recipe… Garlic and Lemon Roast Chicken.

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this chicken was so delicious that i went out today and picked up another one to take to a friend and her family for dinner. she just had surgery and who wouldn’t love a good comfort meal? I paired our dinners up with ina’s green bean gremolata  and the mashed potatoes that i make for every holiday, my make ahead mashed potatoes.

the left over chicken went into tonights chicken enchiladas. i love when dinner works out that way! let me know if you try the recipe! you’ll be so glad you did!

nicole

the BEST blueberry cobbler… ever.

 

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After a weekend full of baseball, I NEEDED to have a good dinner… we were a little over having ballpark hotdogs {even though they taste better at the ballpark for some reason}. I whipped up the Pioneer Woman’s hamburgers, which were delicious, and the Best blueberry cobbler… ever. I’m not that original with adjectives that describe my food… I’m pretty sure it always starts out as the Best or the Greatest . Nonetheless, you will want to make this warm summer dessert and you’ll be so glad you did. Top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I’m not sure it gets much better than that. [Read more...]

sweet georgia peach basil mojitos… delish!

last weekend we had dinner with some dear friends at one of favorite restaurants. milton’s is a quaint establishment set up in a 150 year-old farmhouse in the heart of crabapple/milton. many of the fresh ingredients they use come from the 1 acre garden they have out back. how awesome is that?

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the southern food with a modern flare is sure to not disappoint… but beyond the homemade pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes, a certain peach libation caught our attention. and oh. my. goodness! it was a georgia summer all caught up in a mason jar. it was just too good to not try to make one of these at home… so, after many attempts, i do believe i have the second best georgia peach basil mojito.

  peach basil mojito

This is for 1 drink:

1 peach

1 shot of white rum. I used Myers

1 lime

1 tbls. sugar

3 basil leaves

Peel and coarsely chop the peach. Using a cheesecloth or sieve, create a peach puree. Set aside. In your glass, place a tablespoon of sugar, 3 basil leaves and 1/2 tsp of lime rind and 1 tbsp of lime juice. Muddle the ingredients together. Add the peach puree and rum. mix together and serve over ice.

have guests coming to visit? Welcome them with this drink and I’m pretty sure they may never leave.

happy summer!

nicole

my husbands favorite dinner… croque monsieur

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have you ever seen the movie It’s Complicated? that movie happens to be our favorite movie! i always get inspired to cook, dream about my ‘next’ kitchen, how i’d like to have my garden, and possibly a bakery {the last idea would never happen, but if i did have a bakery, it would totally be like the one in the movie}. if you’re familiar with the movie, then you must remember the part where she whips up these amazing sandwiches called Croque-Monsieurs. [Read more...]

Tips on how to decorate your kitchen

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There is no other space used more than a kitchen. It’s often overlooked as a space to decorate… until now! [Read more...]

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