December 22, 2011

pumpkin cream tarts with candied cranberries

last weekend we had our friend christmas get together
and I was bringing a couple of different food items and a dessert

I really had an urge to do something different
and I believe I found a wonderful, wonderful recipe
I was beyond excited to make tarts
out of all the desserts I've made over the years I had never tried tarts
and besides I wanted something other than a chocolate dessert:)

So during my late night internet search a couple of weeks ago
I found the winning recipe I wanted to try

pumpkin cream tarts with candied cranberries
courtesy of country living

I thought I'd share the recipe with you all because I loved them so much

making the tarts was definitely more fun for me

 I felt a little like I was "creating" more in the kitchen
rather than going through ..."my routine of baking"

I did take pictures as I knew I wanted to get back to blogging
plus I am such a visual person with recipes
I love to see pictures of what I'm making
and thought you may appreciate them as well

As a side note before I get started
most of my ingredients came from trader joe's
I know...
I go on and on about Trader Joe's
but I really believe that 1/2 the time the ingredients from there make all the difference
especially their ginger snaps
so throughout the recipe...I'll make note of which ingredients I think are best from there

step one
make the tart shells

one of my favorite parts about making the tarts are the beautiful tart tins
and how pretty they looked stacked together
I know...not part of my recipe {smile}

Preheat your over to 350
Combine the gingersnaps cookies crumbs {3 cups} with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a large bowl...yes that much butter:)
so the gingersnaps are literally the best from Trader Joe's...I purchased the ones in the circular clear container because there was more in the container than the ones in the bag
I love their cinnamon as well
and absolutely love, love, love trader joe's butter....I like how their sticks are quartered size or you can use their awesome irish butter...make sure it's unsalted butter:)

Cover the bottoms and sides of eight 3 1/2-inch tartlet pans with removable bottoms with the crumb mixture. Transfer the tartlet shells to a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely.

They will look this color

step two

Make the cranberry topping: Bring 2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the fresh cranberries {1 cup} and cook until they just begin to soften. Remove cranberries with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and set aside.
Reserve cranberry syrup for another use.

I did use cranberries from trader joe's as well
and I added just a bit of orange juice to them as I cooked them

I couldn't help myself that I filled almost two ball jars up with the cranberry syrup
the color looked amazingly beautiful
and the syrup will be perfect for the pancakes I will make Christmas morning
or even for ice cream
***also when I made this recipe I doubled the recipe in order to make around 16 tarts so that's why I had so much syrup***

step three

Make the filling:
Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside.

Place the milk {1/2 cup and yes I always stress milk is a must in my opinion} in a small bowl, sprinkle the unflavored gelatin {1 teaspoon} over it, and set aside.

Combine the pumpkin purée {1 cup}, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons brandy, 1 1/3 Tablespoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, and 4 large egg yolks in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble and a thermometer reads 140 degrees F.

***again trader joe's has the best pumpkin puree...and talking with the check out person she told me that their pumpkin is fabulous for dog's coats...
so I've been adding a little to my sweet cadence's dish at night too***

Stir in the milk mixture, cook for 1 more minute, transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, and place over the prepared ice bath.

Stir occasionally, until cool — about 10 minutes.
Okay since I doubled the recipe it was taking longer than 10 minutes for me...I set it in the ice bath for about a 1/2 hour and it still wasn't cool so I resorted to the freezer for about 15 minutes 
 I was in a time crunch because the tarts still had to set for 6+ hours when finished

I got a little ahead of myself and started filling the tarts with the pumpkin mix after it was cooled and it looked like this

BUT...the recipe wanted me to fold the whipped cream I made into the chilled pumpkin mixture and THEN fill the prepared shells
so I literally had to scoop this mix out of 20 shells back into a bowl

and then I followed the directions which it said:

Fold the whipped cream into the chilled pumpkin mixture, fill the prepared shells, and smooth the tops.
GOT IT NOW!!! {smile}

so to make the whip need 1 cup of heavy cream whipped to soft peaks
I love to use my mixer because I can turn the setting on high and let it go
just to let you know
I added about 1 to 2 teaspoons {I can't remember how much} of my vanilla bean paste that I get from william sonoma... I love vanilla bean paste of vanilla extract because it looks prettier with the little flakes of the vanilla bean ~ love, love

pretty pretty!!!
but you have to do it quick or people like my husband keep trying my whip cream

Chill for 6 hours+ or overnight.

Top each tartlet with a spoonful of the candied cranberries and serve cold.
I personally thought it was pretty to drizzle a little bit of the cranberry syrup I had in the ball jars on the tarts after topping them with the cranberries:)

the recipe says it yields 8 tarts...
but I found it was probably more like 10 tarts
as I got 20 tarts from doubling the recipe

I hope you all enjoy
I'm actually going to be making more this weekend
just one batch this time:)
since Madison and Hayley weren't able to try one
plus I wanted to make some for my parents too

Happy Baking and Happy Holidays
Merry Christmas!

December 19, 2011


I probably have lost most of you by now...

Last night I actually did a quick blog visit looking for something on my blog
I wanted to find
and then I also found a post that i did 2 years ago this month of a video
when my youngest was 1 1/2
and I cried

that age is so sweet and I just miss it
even though I love the ages both of my girls are at right now too
it was just a reminder of how time just flies by
often before you want it to

I really miss posting on my blog
yes, I've said this before
but I really realized it more than ever last night

I miss reading my friend's blogs
I miss the connections I made with all of you
I miss many of things

but I just had to take a break from writing
I just needed to live life for my family

some things are hard to say...

this past year has been wonderful for so many of things
but it also has been an extremely difficult year for my family too
that's hard to say

not just my immediate family
but also in my extended family
 and if I would have written
it would have been painful for me

that's why I stepped away
and of course because lack of time as well
I've really been off the wall busy with my family, kiddos, my business, etc.
I just couldn't make my blog a priority
 I chose to focus on other things
and I am happy with that decision

I wanted to look at my life and still appreciate the wonderful blessings
that I have no matter what
because I have so many blessings
that I'm just so thankful for

I want to get back on track with sharing...

so as most of you know
Christmas is in my top 3 holidays of the year
the giving and celebrating family/friends is my favorite part of the year
and it also means that I have guaranteed time that my hubby is in town too:)

we have already had some wonderful christmas celebrations
a couple of weekends ago with my in-laws
this past weekend was Christmas with our friends
and i made pumpkin candied cranberry tarts
yes, I made tarts for the very first time
I loved it!
and I'm still pretty darn excited about it
although, it took me forever
I may just be going through a tart phase now
they are just so cute and pretty

obviously, I'm sidetracked with my tarts now
which I do plan on sharing the recipe because I loved it

both of the celebrations were wonderful

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays
it has been that way since I was a child
my sister and I always, always loved it

Miracle on 34th Street
and we would watch it almost on a daily basis
yes, I've talked about that movie a lot on this blog in the past
my sis and i would watch it so much when we were younger
that I think my parents had to buy us 2 vhs tapes:)
we would literally wear this movie out:)
yes, "I believe"
and that only makes sense if you have watched the movie

as I was going through my blog last night
I was reminded of my favorite quote in my very favorite Christmas movie
Miracle on 34th Street
I thought I would share it once again

 I took some Christmas photos of the girls yesterday afternoon
it was a blast
we had lots of fun
silly faces
dance moves to celebrate at the end of our little session
we all celebrated
the girls were great
actually fabulous
and wonderful
{that's because they were bribed with freezy ice pops}
we don't know how to get through a photo session without bribing in our family
just so you know...I am not above bribing to get photos :)

i almost put this picture on my virtual christmas card just to be reminded of all the silly things the girls and I do together

hopefully you will love this quote as much as I do
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

"Someday you are going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn't work, and when you do, don't overlook those lovely intangibles. You'll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile."

and I found that quote true so much of this past year
hold on to those intangibles

Thank you everyone for your patience
and thank you to my fabulous friends that over the past couple of months kept asking me when I was coming back with my blog
it was just nice to hear your sweet words to me
it didn't go unnoticed

Happy Holidays!!!

"Whatever is good,
whatever brings you joy...
May it be yours during
this magical season and the
throughout the coming year."

August 15, 2011

first day

well it has been so long
i almost forgot my password to my blog

really...I did

and I miss blogging

and checking in on my blog friends

I've been a bad one back to you all this summer
but it really has been a great summer
with my focus going into family and business

 i was so inspired today by my little girl going to kindergarten
it may have just given me what i needed to start writing on the blog again:)


today was Madison's first day of kindergarten
and Hayley and I struggled during the day and in the morning

but Hayley and I stuck together for Madison
missed her
but had a great day ourselves:)

i had to drop some more paperwork at her school today
and we caught a quick glimpse of madison at lunch time

she was laughing and smiling...
just what I wanted to see

 Hayley and i walked out of her school
and she turns to me and says

"but mama...I just wanted to give her a hug'
I replied

"I too"
as we both had a little cry back to the car again

then i had to make her smile for both of our sake:)

As Madison came home
Hayley gave her sis a big hug that melted my heart
Hayley said to Madison
"I really wanted to give you a hug today"
it just melted me

{waiting at the bus stop down the street}

I'm a proud mama today
of both of my little girls

Madison's kindergarten teacher sent home this lovely poem
I thought I'd share with you all
it brought tears all over again
but so true

First Day of School
Author Unknown

She started school this morning,
and she seemed so very small.
As I walked there beside her
In the Kindergarten hall.

And as she took her place beside
the others in the class,
I realized how all too soon
Those first few years can pass.

Remembering, I saw her as
She first learned how to walk.
The words that we alone made out
When she began to talk.

This little girl so much absorbed
In learning how to write.
It seems as though she must have grown
To girlhood overnight.

My eyes were blurred by hastily
I brushed the tears away
Lest by some word or sign of mine
I mar her first big day

Oh how I longed to stay with her
And keep her by the hand
To lead her through the places
That she couldn't understand.

And something closely kin to fear
Was mingled with my pride.
I knew she would no longer be
A baby by my side.

But she must have her chance to live,
To work her problems out,
The privilege to grow and learn
What life is all about.

And I must share my little girl
With friends and work and play;
She's not a baby anymore ~
She's in Kindergarten today.

June 21, 2011

summer wishes

 summer wishes...

about a month ago trying to fall asleep
i started thinking about summer wishes for the girls and I
{not excluding Bobby...but you all know he travels a lot by now}
so it's just mainly us

I started thinking...and dreaming

what i wanted out of summer
what would be good for the girls
what would be good for our family

and i came up with a few summer wishes...

summer wish #1

traveling more...
we all love to travel and since we are all going in all different directions
with different schedules
it has been on my heart to travel together

i was hoping for a trip for Bobby and I...just us
as well as a trip with all four of us

we hardly have much family time together with him home only a day and a half a week
and we all need some fun time together
time to relax and just go with the flow
our schedules are so jam packed each week
that we all need to take time away
where we don't have to plan
and can just wake up and figure it out each day for a week

ironically this summer wish is coming true
next post i'll tell you about the road trip Bobby and I took together
{it was absolutely the most relaxing trip we've had}

next month
with Bobby's rewards of traveling
the girls and i are going to tag along with him for a little over a week
to Cali
{we've never been to Cali so we are super excited about that}
and this project he is working on is so close to the beach
and you know our fondness for the beach
so we are super excited

and with what i do
i earned a trip to Atlantis in August
I still am in disbelief about how this all fell right into place
traveling more with my family has been on my heart for so long
and i'm so excited to have made it happen this summer

summer wish #2 

to continue to enjoy the small moments with the girls

right now...they are putting on a fashion show for me
in my high heels

 Madison just lined up my shoes for me because
she said and I quote
"your closet was a mess mama"

geez I have a hard time staying organized lately
I used to be organized
but now I call myself an organized disorganized person right now

and it is 9:30 in the evening and yes the girls are still up
i'm a morning girl so if they sleep in a bit later in the morning
happy dance for me
because that means an extra glass of coffee and more stuff I can get done before they wake up

small moment for the day
some of our blueberries are ripe
and the girls looooved being able to pick them
right from our yard

summer wish #3

to take deep breathes
many of them when i need them

summer wish #4

when I'm not working
to have a lot of fun with my family and friends
endless days at the pool

summer wish #5

to finally organize and clean out our closets
they are driving me crazy

summer wish #6

to find days where i use and cook with every single one of my herbs in one day
i swear it's the little things with me

i was doing a happy dance one evening when i realized
all in one day

i used my chives, parsley, cilantro, oregano, basil, and thyme
all fresh right off my front porch
{not all in one meal mind you}
but it was fun
and the roasted cauliflower with thyme on it was fabulous by the way

summer wish #7

to enjoy lunches a couple times during the month with friends
 it is an absolute necessity especially when I'm so blessed with the friends that I have

they are a treasure to me

lunches with my mom
we don't get to do much fun things together since my parents are always helping watch the girls when i have work
so it would be nice to enjoy lunch and dinner with them more often

summer wish #8

going to see the kids movies with the girls that come out this summer
we all love going to the movies and just don't do it enough

summer wish #9

being able to give all that I can with work and those i'm training right now
there is nothing that makes you feel better than to help others meet their goals
and become successful themselves


I'm certainly ready for a great summer
and to make a conscious effort to making all my summer wishes become reality

and thank you again for all your input with the photos from last post...
I am definitely going to be using your suggestions and top picks for my next order for business cards

June 4, 2011

i'm back:)

I know, I know

it's been almost a month since I have probably visited you
or even written on my blog

but a couple of things before I begin...

thank you
all of you that so kindly reminded me to get with it
and come back
and get back to normal
and do a stinkin' post

and write again

i'll be honest though
it's just been a little rough for me with a few things
and these past three months
{this is where I take a deep breathe}

have been the roughest
when things like that happen
I stop writing
because you don't need to hear it all

the verse that has lifted my spirits this past month

"Cast all your care upon Him; for He cares for you"
I Peter 5:7

and then I have focused on many many great things in my life
and I tell you what
even though these past months have been difficult

they have also been so very wonderful
I have close family and friends that are always there for me
my business has been very exciting

and this past month I finished earning my business incentive trip
 I'm going to Atlantis in August
{happy dance}
{happy dance}
{happy dance again}

so just so I honestly have been focusing on those good things
depositing into those
{not that this blog isn't good}

but I had to get away from a few things to really focus on some other things
I'm thankful for an amazing business, family,
amazing friends that live here and afar

friends threw the absolute best suprise weekend for me for my birthday
all you {my blog readers] have meant the world to me
and that's why I felt so badly about being away

the reason why it has taken so long to get back into sharing our life
is because I wondered...

 if it was too late to continue this blog
by being away so long
if i lost you all...
so i have a few things to share
of what good things we have been up too...
wonderful, fun times with friends and family
Madison graduated preschool
I cried, of course
because i was excited for her
but it always makes me feel like time goes by waaaaay too fast already
we are enjoying pool time
well just three days of it so far
 it's summertime
and this is my happy time during summer
I'm so happy that my hydrangeas are about to start blooming
and the rest of my flowers are filling out
 I do have something to ask your help with
 I would really love from you is your help and/or opinion
my friend is a fantastic photographer
and i needed to update my business pictures for
my business website
business cards
and any other marketing i needed pictures for
so she put together a fantastic business package for me
I wanted to do colorful
outdoor pics
to liven up my look and to also go with what i do
out of the pictures she took
i chose some of them to use on my blog
and some for my business
we also snuck in a family picture or two because we haven't had one in a bit
so what i would love, love your help with
is helping me decide
what photos should i use for my business website?
what are your favorites for my business cards?
I would love outside feedback
I like to have a couple of different business cards
using different pictures
so please choose your top 2 or 3 for business cards
so if you would be willing to choose your top three
i would be so appreciative:)
And by the way
Kristen was fabulously fabulously patient with me
if you know me well
you know i get nervous with photos
especially by myself
if i'm in a picture with family, friends, etc.
i'm okay
because I'm not the only one
i really struggled at times
and Kristen couldn't have done a better job of helping me through that
and being patient with me
If you live within an hour or so of me
and need family photos or business photos
I would definitely consider Kristen
so just to show you our family photos first
because of course that was the easier part for me
and yes...
 I really did wear color in these photos
no gray or brown:)












I think Kristen did a wonderful job
so her information is already on my sidebar
but click here to visit her website

if you are interested in her business packages just shoot her an e-mail
via her website

thanks in advance for your help

next time i'll share with you a few of my summer wishes
for my fam and I

May 10, 2011

hayley's room redo

I'm a little belated in showing this
two months late perhaps

of Hayley's room redo

and I still don't feel like I'm ready to show the changes we made to her bedroom
her room really is pretty much done for now
except maybe some small changes here and there

okay the small change I'm hoping for sometime
is eventually adding white beadboard
when we can
and when Bobby is actually in town
{and willing to do it}

but for now...
her room is "done"
thankfully I downloaded Hayley's room pictures a couple of weeks ago
 I forgot my camera in Bobby's car when he was out of town
so i haven't taken pictures for weeks!!!
 however, I do have a little post of Hayley's room
after the redo
it'll be nice to have documented this down the road

but...I wish...
I wish...

I would have taken a before picture for you all too
I just got so consumed with getting it done before her birthday
I forgot all about taking the before picture
we had an old dresser in her room that i so happily put on Craig's list
it is not one I even want to refinish
look at
or really see again
it was a pain to clean
{that's why I say that}
she had a toddler bed in her room too
and some shelves
just not really put together after we changed her nursery to toddler
so how I approached Hayley's room redo...
i wanted it to feel like her own

she had been asking since early January that she wanted a "big girl bed" just like Madison
she was telling everyone...
my parents
Bobby and I
probably anyone who would listen:)
she is our talker in the family
non-stop talker as a matter of fact
that sometimes Madison even asks her to please be quiet for even a minute

 I thought her room redo would be the perfect birthday present from us
she gets so much from others
that I wanted to do something practical from us

and I was right because
she now loves to play in her room
and sometimes the peace in quiet when she is in there is worth it to me as a "mom"
whose husband is out of town pretty much every week

but i guess I "should say"
more importantly... I wanted it to feel like it was her space
actually I wanted some personal space a little bit too
just being honest here
since she had talked about wanting her big girl room to my parents
they said they had a bed I could refinish
so I did
and my parents wanted to get all of Hayley's bedding for her for her birthday
because they were on board with me
and once they get an idea in there head to help
there is no stopping them
that's just the way my parents are
i love them:)

I refinished a bed and dresser
at no cost
already had the paint...just had to make the time
I also shopped around our own house to find a side table from Madison's room
{Madison now has a different side table as her birthday present in April}
and the display table under her shelves
used to be in our loft area that had our second tv and dvd player on

it is definitely much prettier in Hayley's room than in the loft

Bobby and I only purchased curtains and her new chandelier
which was actually refurbished...
not expensive at all
very similiar to the one in madison's room and our room

I wanted to share with you all that i shopped around my own house
because 'room redos" can be done
without spending any money or very little money

i'm by no means a decorating pro
but I have learned to shop my own home first before buying anything

since my first thought isn't always to buy something new
{unless i have a piece stuck in my head that I know I don't have}
I'll just wait until the time is right or until I come across what I'm looking for

with Hayley's room we wanted to keep her walls "the yellow" we painted her nursery
she loves yellow
and the color fits her...
since she is a sunshine girl
so we found some pretty white bedding to compliment her and her wall color
 I wanted her yellow walls to stand out rather than blend in

I asked Madison if I could take her pillow from her room for Hayley's
only because it wasn't going to fit Madison's new bedding anymore that she got for her birthday

she was so sweet and didn't even think about it when she said yes
I just explained she would have a new one very soon herself

I'm sure you are done with my rambling so I'll just get on to the pictures
it is so bright and vibrant for Hayley
it makes me smile every time i walk in her room
and she does too
...sometimes she even makes her own bed in the morning
well I guess that lasted about a month
but it was nice while it lasted:)
and to me any 3-year-old willingly making their bed is pretty good for anytime it lasts

yes I probably should have cleaned her frog container before I showed you pictures

when i was little I got two dolls from my Grandpa and Grandma M
 I gave one to each of the girls
and this one has always fit Hayley and her room

hayley's snuggly duckling sign from her Tangled birthday party I hung above her closet

and for Hayley's artwork because i never seem to have enough space on my
refrigerator...I thought I'd start hanging it in their room
so you can see I do actually have a fridge in my kitchen:)

and because Hayley is our dragonfly I had made her a dragonfly
when i was still pregnant with her
and it goes perfectly with her room now

white eyelet curtains with dragonfly clips on them

a picture of Hayley I took in our neighborhood last early spring
and a baby one of her
the shells in the jar are from our first family trip to the beach:)

and this bird cage was from my kitchen
hayley had asked for one just like Madison had
so it finally dawned on me to gift Hayley with this one

and that's it for the little walk through

two months a little late in showing you all
but i finally have it put together
if the pictures are edited a little funny
it's because my computer has a new screen and the lightening is really off on it to me