Get Pin-Spired #13

Happy Friday, friends!
Can you believe tomorrow is March 1st?!?!?
Boots & Jeans season is almost over (sad face)
I can't think of anything I love more than wearing boots & jeans!
Here are 3 of my Pin-Spired outfits for the month!

Pin #1
Army Green Cargo Pants, Maroon Stripe Shirt & Boots:

 My recreation:
Shirt * Pants * Boots * Necklace (Stella & Dot) 
 I had everything in my closet, but would have never put this combo together!
Maroon & Army Green pants? Who knew?
Loved it!

Pin #2 
Maroon Cords, Stripe shirt & boots

 I saw this pin & realized I had everything for the outfit (exept the leather jacket) I LOVE how it turned out. One of my new favorite outfits!
My recreation:
 Shirt * Tank * Maroon Cords * Boots * Stella & Dot Necklace
I seriously wear these boots 3-4 times a week!!
LOVE them!!

Pin #3
California Love!

Instead of Toms, I wore converse, although I am loving those red Toms!
 (And I wore jeans instead of shorts)

This is the perfect weekend outfit and perfect to wear to Kate's softball games this Spring! 
If you are new to my blog, thanks for stopping by!
Feel free to follow along! 
You can find me on Bloglovin or Facebook.
If you have outfits to link up, feel free to grab a button to add to your post.
Can't see what you link up!

The linky will be open until next Friday March 6th
Your link will show up on my blog, Sheaffer's blog & Shay's blog.
My favorite part about linky parties is checking out other people who have linked up! 
Go find some new blogs & leave them a comment letting them know you stopped by...and get Pin-Spired by the outfits other people linked up!
Today is the LAST day to enter my $1,000 Target Gift Card Giveaway! Enter {HERE}
I also have a $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway {HERE}
a $100 Panera Bread Gift Card Giveaway {HERE}
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!


Slow Cooker Corn Chowder {with Bacon + Potatoes}

Wintertime means Soup time.
We haven't had much of a winter this year here in California.
It has been in the high 60's & 70's since Christmas and we are in a drought.
But, yesterday it rained!
And, it is going to rain for the next few days, so I made a big batch of this soup.
I love it & I think you will too!
Here is what you need:
  •  1 bag of frozen corn
  •  1 can of creamed corn
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1-2 celery stalks
  • 1 jalepeno
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 red potatoes
  • 1/2 diced onion 
  • 3 cups milk (I use non fat or low fat)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Hormel Real Bacon Pieces
This soup is super simple to make because all you do is dice up your veggies & then put almost all the ingredients in your Slow Cooker!
Dice all your Red Pepper:
 Dump all that in your crock pot:
All those veggies are so pretty!
Then, I dump in my bag of frozen corn and can of cream corn
Add your 3 cups of milk along with Salt & Pepper to taste.
Then, stir it all together.
Cook in your crock pot on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
Right before you are about to serve it, turn off your crock pot, remove the lid and stir in 2 cups of Cheddar Cheese (you don't want the cheese to boil/overcook, that is why I put it in at the end.) Save a some extra cheese for you to use when you garnish each bowl of soup.

When you are ready to serve, sprinkle on some cheese on top & then add a good heaping of Hormel Real Bacon Pieces.
 Seriously. SO good. 
(Sometimes I even add additional bacon pieces to the crock pot about 30 min before I am serving the soup. It adds a really nice flavor to this soup!)
This is definitely a healthier & lighter Corn Chowder soup.
Delicious & Easy to Make!

SO, SO, SO good!


See you back here tomorrow for Pin-Spired!

Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger

Disclosure: This post was written as part of my participation in the
Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger Program. While Hormel Foods
provides me material and necessary resources to complete various
activities, the thoughts and statements in this post are my own.


Panera Bread Favorites + A $100 Panera Gift Card Giveaway!

One of my favorite places to eat is Panera Bread.
I was so excited when a Panera Bread opened up a few minutes from our house last year.
Our girls were excited also because it has one of their favorite things...
 Cinnamon Crunch Bagels.
Have you had this bagel before? It is topped with cinnamon and sugar. Yum.
This is one of my all-time favorite bagels (same with my girls)
Bagels are their love language. They eat bagels 3-4 times a week. 
I owe this to the fact that when I was pregnant bagels were one of the only things I could keep down.
My girls love to go get bagels as a special treat, like after church or after school.
When I have 1 on 1 time with my girls, chances are we will end up going to get a bagel.
Kate ready to chow down on a Cinnamon Crunch Bagel.
Panera Bread has more than just bagels... they have delicious sandwiches & salads, too!
 Kevin's favorite is the Chipotle Chicken Panini.
It is one of Panera's Panini Sandwiches. It is delicious.
It has applewood-smoked bacon, smoked cheddar cheese, tomatoes and ancho-chipotle spread grilled on French Bread.
I always steal a bite or 2 or 3 of it ;)

Panera Bread also has a great variety of salads. I love their Thai Chicken Salad.

Panera customers seem to almost always have a menu favorite.  Something tried and true they go back to over and over again. While there’s usually something new to try on the Panera menu each season, this season Panera is celebrating the things their customers have loved through the years.   
So, what’s your Panera favorite?  
Here’s how to participate in Panera Favorites for a chance to win some fun prizes: 
  1.  Vote for your Favorite at Panerabread.com {MyPanera members get a chance to win their Favorite free for a year!}
  2. Celebrate your favorite by creating a custom ‘Ode to your Fave’ video on: www.Panerabread.com
  3. Check out Panera's weekly social media challenges and share images of your favorites using #PaneraFaves on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a chance to win weekly Panera gift card giveaways
            The five menu items Panera will feature in the Favorites voting campaign are:     
The Fuji Apple Chicken Salad,  Mac & Cheese, Broccoli Cheddar Soup,
 Cinnamon Crunch Bagel and Bacon Turkey Bravo Sandwich.
You can access the Panera Favorites site to vote:  

Find Panera here:
Would you like to win a $100 Panera Bread Gift Card?
You have a chance to do that right now!
Just answer the following question:
"Which Panera Bread menu item is your favorite?"
Leave a comment letting me know for a chance to win!
Sweepstakes Rules: 
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 2/26/2014-3/30/2014.
Be sure to visit the Panera Bread brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Avocado Smoothie

Do not let the title of this post scare you.
Yes, this is a a Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Avocado Smoothie.
This is one of the yummiest smoothies out there.
I started making this for my girls as a way to get more protein in their diets.
My girls aren't the best eaters. 
They don't eat a lot of protein (they are carb junkies like me!)
And, most nights after they were in bed, they would come downstairs saying that they were hungry.
I think it's because they weren't getting enough protein throughout the day.
But, this smoothie is packed full of protein. 
I lie to my children and tell them this is a Chocolate Milkshake :)
I have one for lunch at least once a week when I am on the go and it totally fills me up!
 Here is what you need:
-8 ounces of Chocolate Almond Milk
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 small container of Greek Yogurt (plain or vanilla...I use non fat)
- 1 Tablespoon of Skippy Natural Peanut Butter
- 1 Teaspoon of Honey
- 1 cup of crushed ice

Dump everything in your blender and blend it up!
That's it!
So easy!
It has a very creamy texture.
And, you can't taste the avocado.
**Sometimes when I make this smoothie, I will even throw in a few handfuls of Spinach/Kale and you can't taste that either!***
If you are looking for a healthy smoothie that packs a lot of flavor and protein, this is the smoothie for you!
It would be great to have for breakfast, lunch or a snack!

A few fun reminders!
 I have a few more giveaways going on right now, so be sure and check them out!
$1,000 TargetCard Giveaway {HERE}
$100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway {HERE}


Not-So-Manic Monday

When I was 8 years old,  I remember getting my first "boom box" and cassette tape for Christmas.
The tape I got was the Bangles "Different Light" tape.
Ahhh....gotta love the Bangles.
The first song on the tape was "Manic Monday"
I would sing it all the time.
Also on that tape was "Walk like an Egyptian"
And now those songs will be stuck in your head all day.
You're welcome ;)

As I got older, I realized how true that song can be.
Mondays are manic. Most Mondays, I do wish it was Sunday.
(Cause that's my Fun-Day)

After having kids, I have realized that Manic Mondays are not good for me.
I do not like starting my week un-organized and manic.
I prefer to have a "Not-so-Manic-Monday"
I thought I would share some tips of things I do every Sunday night to ensure that our Monday (and our week for that matter) get started on the right foot.

1.  Meal Plan for the Week
Every Sunday afternoon I meal plan for the week. I LOVE meal planning our dinners for the week. I go through our fridge/freezer/pantry and make a list of things I need to get at the store. I go grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon. That way, Kevin is home to watch the kids and I don't have to drag all 3 kids to the grocery store. Because let me tell you...dragging 3 kids to the grocery store is not fun!
I can't tell you how much I love meal planning...it truly makes my weeknight dinners go so smoothly. That 4-6 time in the afternoons is SO crazy for us. Trying to get homework done, running the girls to activities, etc. Knowing that I have a plan for dinner is a lifesaver.
2. Early dinner, bath, books & bedtime for the kids.
Before we had kids I had a "vision" of how fun it would be to do Sunday night dinners with extended family. All of us from both sides of the family getting together for a Sunday Night Dinner (like how they do in Parenthood and other TV shows)
But, I have realized, for this season in our life, having a Sunday night dinner with grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings & cousins is just not going to happen when my kids are young. Our kids need to start off their week well rested, which means early dinner (with just the 5 of us), baths, books & in bed before 7:30.
Kevin and I both realized years ago that we like to keep our Sunday nights free of any plans so that we can just focus on getting everything organized for the week ahead. As our kids are older, then maybe we can implement Sunday Dinners with the Extended Family, but for now we don't do them.

3. Have Monday night's dinner prepped on Sunday night
On Sunday afternoon, I not only prep the meal we are having that night, but I also try and prep the meal we are having on Monday night. About 90% of our Monday night meals are Crock Pot meals. On Sunday afternoon's I will dump all the ingredients into the crock pot, put it in the fridge so that on Monday morning, I just pull it out of the fridge and pop the crock pot into the heating unit.
Tonight we are having my Slow Cooker Ribs (Recipe HERE). SO good!
Another meal I do a majority of the time on Monday nights is my Chicken Tortilla Casserole (Recipe HERE) because you make it the night before and on Monday afternoon, I just have to pop it into the oven.
You can check out my family friendly & easy Recipes in the Recipe Box tab {HERE}
Another note about meal planning:
Every Wednesday night we host our Small Group Bible Study at our house at 7, so Wednesday nights are a little nutty because we have to get our house picked up, kids feed and put to bed by 7, so I always make sure our Wednesday night dinner is a leftover meal, so that I don't have to make dinner on Wednesday night, we just have leftovers. It's usually Monday's dinner that we have leftover on Wednesday.

4. Pick out outfits for the next day (kids AND yourself!)
Every Sunday night, the girls and I check the weather for the week. We then pick out what they will be wearing the next day. We have a rule with our kids....they pick out their outfit the night before and they CANNOT change their mind in the morning. We set out their outfits, socks, shoes & headbands (and jackets if necessary) so that when they get up in the morning, they can get dressed right away and so there isn't a scramble in the morning searching for things.
What they pick out the night before is what they are wearing. Mornings are chaotic trying to get out the door, so no outfit changes.
Every work night I also layout my outfit/shoes/jewelry so that I am not trying to figure it out in the morning!
And, every Sunday night I also paint my nails so that my nails are fresh for the week!

Here are some lyrics from the song Manic Monday:
"Have to catch an early train
Got to be to work by nine
And if I had an airoplane
I still couldn't make it on time
'Cause it takes me so long
Just to figure out what I'm gonna wear"

Seriously, I think that part of the song was ingrained in my brain because I have been picking out my outfits the night before since I was in 5th grade :) Always makes my morning easier!
5. Make Lunches
Every school night, I make lunches for the girls and keep them in the fridge. This way, in the morning, I just have to take their lunch boxes & put them right into their backpacks!
Again, this is something I started doing when I was in middle school and my mom made me make my own lunches, I would make them the night before! That habit has stuck with me!
I also get Luke's food prepped/organized/set out for when he goes to my moms or mother in law's in the mornings.

6. Check Backpacks
Every school night, I also go through their backpacks. Sunday nights, I check through their folders, see if any paper work is due for me to turn in, see if there is anything that needs to be turned in (Fieldtrip forms, etc) On Sunday nights,  I also get their library books gathered up & put back in their backpacks so they can turn them in.
After I have checked backpacks, I set out their backpacks at the kitchen table so that after they eat breakfast, they can grab their backpack and be ready to head out the door.
7. Make Coffee for the next morning
We have an automatic timer on our coffee maker, so every night Kevin makes coffee and we have it set to brew in the morning. Again, mornings are chaotic trying to get everyone out the door to work  & school, so we prep the night before to make life a bit easier.

8.  House picked up, dishes done, Laundry done & put away
If my house is picked up on Sunday nights, then I feel like my week is going to go so much smoother. Having 3 kids and being a working mom, the weekdays are chaotic and I don't get to clean up things and organize them much during the week. I like to start my Monday morning with a clean house. If my house doesn't get picked up on Sunday night, then it won't get picked up all week. Not having a picked up house makes me feel stressed out. I feel much more peaceful when my house is picked up.
Every night we go to bed with an empty kitchen sink. Both Kevin and I agree that there is nothing worse than waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes. Yuck! We get things cleaned up before we go to bed.
In a perfect world, I would also be totally caught up on laundry and have it all put away, but the reality is that doesn't happen every Sunday night...Right now as I type this, I have clean laundry in the dryer that needs to be folded & put away, but that will wait until tomorrow. You have to give yourself grace :)

9. Take a look at your schedule for the week & touch base with your spouse about the week ahead 
Look at your calendar and see what you have going on during the week. 
Any week night meetings or things not in your normal weekly routine?
Any playdates, activities, appointments scheduled?
Make a list of things you need to get done.
I LOVE making to-do lists and write one almost everyday.
It helps me stay organized and not forget things.

10. Go to bed early & make sure alarm(s) are set!
Do you know what Sunday night dread is? My friend (who I teach with) and I made up this term about 10 years ago. We would call/text each other on Sunday nights and complain that we couldn't fall asleep. I stay up extra late on Friday & Saturday nights so when Sunday night rolls around, my body is used to staying up a little bit later and I have a hard time falling asleep. And, then my mind starts thinking about all the things I need to get done that week,  that I have to get up early on Monday morning and worried that I will sleep through my alarm. All that is what Sunday night dread is made of. Not being able to fall asleep and then worrying that you won't wake up on time Monday morning. Anyone else have Sunday night dread?
I try to go to bed earlier on Sunday nights and of course I make sure I have my alarms set so that I don't oversleep.
My advice is to try and get to bed earlier on Sunday nights so that you start off your week well rested. Nothing is harder than starting off your week exhausted. It is so hard to catch up on sleep during the week!

So, there you have it. My Top 10 Tips for starting your week off right so that you don't have a Manic Monday!

What things to you do to start Monday off on the right foot?
I would love to hear more tips or things that work for your family!

Happy (Not-so-Manic) Monday to you!


A 30th Birthday Party {Heart Theme}

Thank you SO much for all your kind comments, thoughts & prayers about my Dad's surgery..
We are so thankful he is doing so well and I praise God everyday for watching over my Dad!

My younger sister Rebecca turned 30 a week before Valentine's Day.
Growing up, she had a lot of heart themed birthdays because there are so many Valentine decorations out! It is actually such a cute theme! Who doesn't love hearts?
For her 30th birthday we had a family party to celebrate her turning the big 3-0.
It was low key since she is 6 months pregnant and it was a few days before my dad's surgery, so it was a really nice time celebrating her (and my dad!)

All the adults in our family went to a local steakhouse for dinner to celebrate Rebecca.
Me & My sisters:
They had personalized menus for Rebecca!
In case you didn't know... Lemon Drops are my favorite...so are kid free dinners!
 After dinner we headed back to our house for the party...which was lots of desserts!

 You know me...I love a dessert table (and any excuse to decorate for a party!)
Recipe for the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies {HERE
 Tulips are my favorite. I LOVE them!
  I love my family. The original 5 :)
 Blowing out her birthday candles!
We don't have normal cake for birthdays in our family....we almost always have Oreo Mud Pie Ice Cream Cake! Recipe {HERE}

I loved throwing a party with a heart theme...so fun and easy!
You can find so many cute decorations/food/candy that go with this theme in February.
If you have a February birthday or need to throw a party in February, I highly suggest a heart party/Valentine themed party!

Happy Birthday, Beck! Can't believe my baby sister is THIRTY!

A few reminders!

Our next  Pin-Spired will be next Friday, February 28th
 Link up with me, Sheaffer and Shay and show us your Pinterest Inspired oufits!
And, I have a few giveaways going on right now, so be sure and check them out!

$1,000 TargetCard Giveaway {HERE}
$100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway {HERE}

Happy Thursday....It's almost the weekend! 


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