Sunday, December 17, 2017

Smores Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love to bake on Sunday afternoons. And sometimes I'll let Caroline skip her nap to help me whip up some treats. Today we made Smores Chocolate Chip Cookies. And then we ate them all...while Thomas napped. Straight out of the oven these mini treats are sooooo warm and ooooeyy gooooey. It's hard to stop at just 4. Okay, 5. But they are mini that's like 2 regular sized cookies, right?
Smores Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
15 marshmallows, cut in half lengthwise
30 chocolate pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease two mini muffin pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until creamy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg then add the vanilla. Add the graham cracker crumbs then gradually beat in the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips.
  4. Divide the dough among 30 mini cups (roughly 1 1/4 inch balls). Bake 10 minutes. Immediately press a marshmallow half into each cup.
  5. Preheat the broiler. Broil the marshmallows until they are puffed and toasted (you may need to rotate your pans if your broiler doesn't heat evenly). Immediately top with a chocolate piece. Let cool completely before removing from the pans.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Five on Friday!

Only ONE more Friday until Christmas!!! Can you believe it?!
one. Last weekend we had our friends Sara and Wyn over for a game night. We played our faaaaavorite game -- The Game of...THINGS! We've owned this game for years and used to play it a lot when we hosted regular game nights before kids. It is SO fun and hilarious. And the more people playing the more fun the game is.
two. I recently snagged a new work dress! The fit is so flattering, the material is really high quality and it's comfortable -- which is important because I drive a LOT for work and like to be comfortable when I travel. Another travel perk? I've worn this dress twice this week in different cities! Oh, and it's on sale right now too!
three. On Tuesday McKinsey hosted her annual gift exchange! There were 18 girls in attendance this year and lots of good gifts.The candles are always the most fought over gifts...and they were again this year. I brought a Volcano candle (stolen 3x!) and left with a Benefit Cosmetics Set (stolen 2x!)!! You can read about how our exchange works here and previous gift exchanges: 2016 | 2015 | 2013
four. We got a little snow last weekend!!! Caroline was SOOOOOO excited. And we were too. It's always a huge deal in Charlotte when we get some flurries. 
Cowl-Neck Sweater (on sale) | Leggings (on sale) | Sueded Booties (on sale)
five. Tom Tom had an eye doctor appointment yesterday! He is obsessed with his Superman Cape right now and insisted on wearing it to his appointment, and to breakfast, and to school yesterday. Although Thomas didn't tolerate the dilating, pressure check, alignment exam or eye exam portions of the visit we got a great report from Dr. D! Now that he is talking a lot more we were able to do an eye chart exam which was really incredible. We started with ginormous pictures of animals on the screen and went all the way down to a size smaller than the palm of my hand. We are so grateful and blessed for such amazing progress.
Happy weekend, friends!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Around the House!

Our halls are decked for our first Christmas in our new home!
Let's start with my favorite part of our house -- our staircase garland! As I mentioned on Instagram, this project was truly a labor of love that was worth every hour (about 13 total), 3 trips to Trader Joes, 2 craft store runs and one fight with my husband. But like I said -- worth it. Matt and I are so in love with the garland and he gets equal credit for staying up till midnight (twice) holding garland for me in just the right spots (no wait, a little to the left, nooooo I said LEFT, no sorry, I meant right. Now up tiny bit. More. More. More! Perfect.) while I tied one million twigs together.
We decorated about 20 feet of banister using 4 fresh white pine garlands, 5 bunches of mixed eucalyptus, 4 bunches of silver dollar eucalyptus and 24 yards of ribbon. All of the greenery was purchased at Trader Joes.
Once the garland was finally finished I stood back to admire our work with tears streaming down my face. I was just so overwhelmed with gratitude for our home. We've worked so ridiculously hard this year to make it our own and I truly feel so blessed that it is ours.  I still can't believe it when I pull into the driveway at times. It's been such a dream come true for us.
I had always dreamed of having a fireplace one day in our home. And now we have one! If I'm home, you can bet we have a fire going.
We did have a few sad moments while unpacking the Christmas boxes. There were several reminders of Charlie. His stocking took my breath away when I unexpectedly stumbled upon it as I was flipping through the stack. And then came the ornaments. Every year my mom has a family ornament made for us and Charlie has always been included. We miss him dearly and Caroline still asks when he's going to come back because she misses him so much.
Every year I frame our Christmas card and it has brought me SO much joy to see them add up over the years. I absolutely loving walking past this table in our house.
Previous Christmas Cards 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 coming soon!

This year Matt, Thomas and I decided to get a live flocked tree! You know who was adamantly opposed to it? Caroline. After a strong "But I don't want snow on my Christmas tree!" meltdown we compromised and let her pick out a mini tree without snow for the play room. Everyone was happy.
 Ta-da! 100% decorated by Thomas & Caroline. But mostly Caroline.
 Handmade gingerbread man...also by Caroline.
And now for our tree!
Gosh I love this tree so much. It is so unlike me to not top this tree off with a massive bow. However, when I saw this Moravian Star Tree Topper I knew we had to have it. Matt is from Winston-Salem so I knew he'd love it so much.
Previous Christmas Trees: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 20132012 | 2011


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ever since we hosted a crock pot party in my kitchen I have been wanting to upgrade our crock pot. The pot I own is suuuuuuper old and after seeing all of the features of the 5 much newer crock pots I realized I've been missing out! Tell me about your crock pot. Do you love it? Should I put it on my Christmas list?

OK, on to another delicious crock pot soup...
Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
Adapted from Baked by Rachel

1.5 lbs chicken breast
15 oz can sweet whole corn kernels, drained
15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Avocado, diced
Tortilla strips


1. In your slow cooker, add first 8 ingredients. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

2. Prior to serving, remove chicken breasts and shred (by hand or stand mixer). Return shredded seasoned chicken to slow cooker bowl. Stir gently.

3. Serve with a generous helping of shredded cheese, avocado and seasoned tortilla strips.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Coffee Talk

If we were having a cup of coffee I would want to chat about...

How to get exactly what you want for Christmas (or your birthday, or Mother's Day, or Valentine's day, or any time!). I was recently listening to a podcast on this topic and loved it so much that I had to share it with y'all because...tis the season for gifts! Sometimes we wives can create expectations in our head for a certain gift or a favor that we really, really, really want and hope our husbands will magically gift or do for us.

Examples: I hope he makes dinner reservations at my favorite restaurant for my birthday -- and invites our friends. Or I hope he gets me a spa day for Mother's Day because dang, doesn't he know I'm tired? Or I wish he would volunteer to clean the kitchen because I just busted my tail cooking. Or I hope he tackles bath time because I've run out of patience tonight. Or I wish he would bring me flowers and whisk me away for our anniversary weekend. etc. etc. etc.

If there is something in particular that you really want, your odds for getting it go up tremendously if you simply ASK FOR IT. If that feels too direct for you or you prefer the element of surprise, maybe you opt for a more subtle route and dog ear a few catalogs around the house. Or maybe you're the kind of person who will be happy regardless of the gift, even if you get a toaster. For the rest of us, I'm definitely not advising you to march up to your husband and demand a particular gift, but if you do have something in mind that you want you can subtly say "In case you're looking for an idea for me for Christmas, I'd really love..." Oftentimes we think the people around us should just know what we want, but your husband can't read your mind no matter how long y'all have been together. So this Christmas make it easy for him. Send him the link to that purse you've been swooning over and tell him which color you love. Or mention that you'd love a weekend away together for an upcoming special occasion. He may even appreciate the direction so he doesn't have to guess what you want.

I know. I know. Some of you are thinking exactly what my girlfriends always say too when this conversation comes up..."yeah, but Matt is always surprising you with thoughtful gifts and favors." And it is true. He is insanely good at surprises or picking up on what I like. But you know what? A lot of times I tell him what I would love to have or do for that special occasion. Heck, I ordered some of my Christmas gifts for Matt to wrap and give me!

One last but super important thing -- be careful not to tie meaning to whether or not you get what you ask for! Your husband loves you.

Christmas music. I can't get enough of the Pentatonix Christmas station. It's so so so good.

Christmas cookie recipes. Tell me your favorite cookie recipe! Two years ago I made an amazing Graham Cracker Toffee and last year I made Saltine Cracker Toffee -- both are amazing. However this year I want to whip up some new treats, so share your favorite Christmas cookie recipe with me!

Find previous coffee dates here!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Caroline's 1st Nutcracker

Last week Caroline and I went to see the Nutcracker! All day long she told every person who would listen that she was going to see the Coconut.
I'm pretty sure I'm still on a mama high from the experience. Before I even met Matt I dreamed of the precious mama moments I would have with my future children. This was one of them. Hands down, this was my absolute favorite thing I've ever done with Caroline and I will never ever forget the magic of the night -- and I don't think she will either.
We were invited to attend Charlotte Ballet's Media Night performance, the night before the grand opening, so the theater was completely empty with the exception of a few photographers and guests. Preceding the performance we attended a cocktail reception where mommy grabbed some bubbly and we filled our plates with mini sandwiches and hors d'oeuvres before settling in to our seats.
When the ushers opened the doors they directed us to the main floor. Level one. Front row. I still cannot believe this happened. I've never attended a Nutcracker performance where the dancers looked larger than the size of an ant from my balcony seat. And here we were front row -- an experience I had never imagined I would have with my little girl because let's be honest, I would never pay for a front row ticket for a 3 year old. Not only could we see the facial expressions of the dancers and every detail of the set, our seats looked right into the orchestra. We could even hear every word of the conductor. It. was. unreal. 
I was confident that after a full day of school and a 7 pm performance (her bedtime), that Caroline would make it about 20 minutes before she either passed out or got bored. Nope. At intermission I asked her if she was ready to go home and she looked offended. She was so infatuated with the performance that we decided to stay through Act 2 -- but not before loading up on the special intermission treats!
Peanutcracker ice cream for Caroline & boozy hot chocolate for mama.
At the end of the performance the theater passed out cookies as favors while Caroline passed out in my arms. It was the perfect night with my baby girl.

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