Thursday, October 30, 2014

Weekend Funsies (Oct 31st - Nov 1st)

Since tomorrow is Halloween, I know what you’re probably doing tomorrow night!  Other than loading up on candy dressed in your best Elsa costume, here are some fun things going on around the area this weekend!

Hillsborough County Fair is going on today – Sunday! Enjoy shows, rides, games, and fair food! For schedule and ticket information: Click Here 

Halloween Spree! The Glazer’s Children’s Museum is offering a safe place to trick-or-treat. Along with trick or treating, there will be a DJ, games, story time, and a costume parade! The fun starts at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow.  Cost is $8.00

Ruskin Seafood Festival! This is the 26th year for this fun filled Seafood Festival! Enjoy many food vendors, arts, boats, live entertainment, a children’s area, and tons more. Festival goes on Saturday and Sunday starting at 10 a.m. Cost is $5.00 for adults. Info Here

Wolfe’s Family Halloween Hayrides! This is the last weekend to enjoy a family friendly hayride through a 13 acre wooded “spooky” trail.  Costumes welcome! Hayrides run from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and cost $5.00 per person. Located at Wolfe's Produce Market on the corner of HWY 301 and Bloomingdale Ave.

Conga Caliente!!! Oh just the name sounds fun! This is an annual celebration of Hispanic culture and arts. There will be lots of food, activities, music, and drinks! The Celebration starts at 11 a.m. on Sunday! Info Here

Fresh Market at Hyde Park Village! This market is getting bigger and bigger, with over 100 vendors! Opens at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Info Here 

Honey Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Last night we finally got some time to carve pumpkins. 

Is carving pumpkins supposed to be enjoyable?! I only say that because every year I get pumped, get all my tools together, and am so excited to carve a pumpkin. Every year I tell myself I'm going to carve something "COOL!" And every year it turns out to be something I wouldn't exactly call enjoyable. 

And why I don't remember that from a year ago, I don't know. I guess it's kind of like child birth...OK no relation but you get my point. 

So, this is how our carving went this year:

Husband came home with the biggest pumpkin he could find! It was quite large! Great start to the evening!

We laid out the newspaper, put the pumpkin in the middle, and gathered up all the carving tools that come in those packets with the carving outline pictures. Then we took a big knife (not the biggest one we had, but up there in ranks) and start to cut a big circle around the stem.

When the circle is almost complete, the big knife snaps in half. Yep, it was made of plastic. Now you're probably thinking, "they have cheap knifes." But that's not the case. Although they may be like 6 years old, they are Calphalon brand. I was always under the impression that Calphalon is a good brand to buy. I think they're even Lifetime idea. But whatever the case, they should not snap in half while carving a pumpkin.

Now, with the top almost completely cut out, Angelo takes his fist and just bashes the top IN the pumpkin. I explain to him that it's not supposed to be inside the he takes a few minutes to wiggle it back out.

Yes! Time to get the hands dirty. I give Sophia the little shovel/scraper to gut the pumpkin. She doesn't want anything to do with it and refuses to put her hands inside. Nelpe just enjoyed looking into the big hole and banging on the outside of the pumpkin a couple times. They both run off to go play on the playground. 
I think the gutting is the most fun part of this whole thing, so I clean out the inside of the pumpkin, get my seeds all laid out on the newspaper, and at this time the girls want to go back inside, it's getting dark out, and we still have to eat dinner. So there the pumpkin stays, on the back porch, uncarved. Hopefully it will get carved by tomorrow!

Well, at least I got the seeds out! I love roasting the seeds! I roasted them this afternoon after letting the seeds dry out overnight on some paper towels. 

Honey Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
What you’ll need:
1-2 cups of pumpkin seeds
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp honey

What you do:
Preheat oven to 325.
Make sure all your pumpkin seeds are washed and without any pumpkin residue.
Lay out pumpkin seeds on paper towel and blot to get all moisture off. (I left my laying out on paper towels over night to dry them out.)
In a skillet, heat up olive oil.
Pour in pumpkin seeds and sauté for about 3 minutes until lightly browned.
Drizzle honey over seeds in the skillet and stir, making sure all seeds are coated.
Transfer the seeds onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and roast for 20-30 minutes. With a spatula, move the seeds around at least once during the cooking time.
When fully cooked (you want them to be crispy), take out of oven, sprinkle with salt, and allow to cool.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

10 Different Way to Decorate a Pumpkin

When I was a kid, I remember carving being the only way to "decorate" pumpkins.
Now there are so many different ways to decorate or carve a pumpkin it's berserk!

Pinterest, has failed us again. We no longer get away with buying one pumpkin to carve. We have to buy one to paint, one to stick stickers on, one to wrap up like a mummy, one to melt crayons on, one to pour glitter on, one to wrap in lace, one to write "Happy Fall or Happy Halloween!" on, one to glue buttons on, and last but not to simply carve.

Here are my favorite ways to dress up our beloved pumpkins!

1. The Glitter Pumpkins

Photo Source

2. The Painted Pumpkins

3. The Mummy Pumpkin

4. The Monogrammed Pumpkins

5. The Character Pumpkins

6. The Crayon Drip Pumpkins 

7. The Sports Themed Pumpkins 
Go Buckeyes! ;)

8. The Black and White Pumpkins

9. The Food Pumpkins

10. The Carved Pumpkins!!

Some of these took some serious talent!! Bravo to people who can pull some of these off, it's definitely no easy task!! I'm more of a "give the kids some paint and let them have at it" or just simply carve a jack-o-lantern face in the pumpkin. But I love to "Ooo and Ahh" over all these amazing pumpkin creations!!


Halloween Candy is ruining me

Hey guys! Happy Hump Day!

It's officially the middle of the week and only 2 days away from Halloween, which means this Saturday is officially November! The holidays are about to be in full swing! Are you ready?! No? Me neither…

This is the time of year that usually means eating like complete crap, and I'll have to admit that I've been eating WAY too much candy/sugar these past few weeks. With Halloween candy exploding out of the grocery store aisles, I've been buying bags of my favorite Halloween candy: M&Ms, Reese's, and KitKats. 


1. Because it’s Halloween and I feel like it’s a must…even though I have no intention of actually using this candy for the purpose of Halloween. The candy is actually already all gone, sorry trick-or -treaters.

2. Because they’re on sale. But are they really? Why are bags of candy so dang expensive?!

3. Because the Reese’s are shaped like pumpkins. And pumpkin everything!!!

Since this candy has all come and gone in my life, I've been feeling a lot more sluggish and my running game has been less than mediocre. I've been VERY unmotivated to get any type of workouts in. The only reason I’m even still running is because the hubs still wants to go running so I've just been kind of tagging along.  

Candy…You’re really messing up my life!

I've decided that starting November 1st, I’m going to go on a sugar detox for a week. And only a week because Nelp’s 1st birthday is on November 8th and I will be eating candy corns (it’s a must). A week doesn't seem like much, but trust is. Especially during this time of year. ;)

Have you been indulging a little too much with Halloween candy? What is your favorite kind of candy? Are you feeling like it’s currently ruining your life? LOL 

Tonight, we’re finally going to carve some pumpkins!!! We've painted some and stuck stickers on some, but always have to have a carved one in the bunch!

Have a great Wednesday night!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bean & Corn Chili

Last night was another chili for dinner. I'm testing out different chili recipes for the Chili Bar I'm putting together for Nelp's 1st birthday party. I think I've found the two I'll be making and this one is a winner!! I picked this one because it had all things that Nelpe and Sophia enjoy; beans, corn, ground turkey, and topped with avocado. They couldn't get enough! 

What you’ll need:
2 tbsp butter
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 lb ground turkey
2 (15 oz) cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can of Fire Roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15 oz) can of corn, undrained
1 (4 oz) can of diced green chiles, undrained
1  (16 oz) jar of Salsa Verde (green kind)
1 ½ tsp chili powder

What you do:
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.
Throw in chopped onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add ground turkey and cook fully until browned.
Add black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, corn, green chilies, and salsa.
Add chili powder
Bring to boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for minimum 15 minutes. I let mine simmer for about an hour.
Serve into bowls and top with your favorite toppings.


Farm Day

Aaaaand it's Tuesday! It feels like it's been such a long week so far, and's only Tuesday.

I've been volunteering at Sophia's school yesterday and today and its rather exhausting, so much going on! 

Today was Farm Day where the kids get dressed up in their finest farming attire and go classroom to classroom doing different things "on the farm". There have all kinds of stuff for them to do like gardening, petting farm, milking cows (fake ones), sheering sheep (again, fake), and playing around on hay. The kids have the time of their lives and look so cute doing so!

And that's how you do Farm Day at school!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Sweet Potato Kale Soup

Soup is a major part of Fall. Once that cooler weather comes rolling in, I get the itch to make soup. A couple weeks ago I posted a Sweet Potato chili (which is amazing and you must make it!!) and last week I made another soup with sweet potatoes. I don't know what it is about sweet potatoes, they're delicious and don't ever need to be left out of a soup! Let that be a tip to every cook in the world! :) 

This soup is one of my favorite and super easy to make! Sophia and Nelps even eat it! Score! Packed with kale and sweet potatoes, it should be renamed Super Food Soup!

Sweet Potato Kale Soup

What you’ll need:
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
4 Chicken sausage links, sliced into ½ inch pieces
5 cups chopped Kale
4 cups chicken broth

What you do:
In a large pot, heat EVOO over medium high heat.
Add in chicken sausage and stir around a couple minutes until browned.
Add in sweet potato and onion. Sauté until onion softens (about 5 minutes)
Stir in garlic. Sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
Add in chopped kale and chicken broth.
Bring to boil and then turn down heat to simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes  - 1 hour.
Season with salt & pepper as desired.


Weekend Recap

Hey!! Happy Monday!! How was everyone's weekend?

Ours was filled with lots of playing outside, scary fun activities, family photos, and of course lots of eating!

Friday after work we spent most of the evening playing outside and eating pizza. I think this is what most our Fridays look like: Playgrounds and pizza. Love it.
Saturday after doing fun  housework and getting stuff together for a garage sale (our 1st!) coming up, we went to ZooBoo at Lowry Park Zoo. I'm writing a review on this today so look for that. (FYI: Not really kid friendly in my opinion.)

Sunday was family photo day! These are always a hit or miss since we have 2 kids who want to do totally opposite things at any given time. Nelpe was crawling/walking everywhere and Sophia just wanted to dance around and walk on the curbs like they were tight ropes. I really hope our photog got some good ones before Nelpe tore off her bow and refused to have it on. I'm sure she did since shes an amazing photography! Can't wait to see them.

After photos we made our way to a local coffee shop, Buddy Brew, to hang out before picking my parents up from the airport.

After picking up my parents, we headed to The Pub at International Mall to have lunch. 

It was a pretty packed Sunday and by 4 p.m. I was exhausted and just want to lay on the couch...but a mom's job is NEVER done, so off to the grocery store I went to get some necessities for the week.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend as well!!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

10 Halloween Must Haves

This year Halloween has consumed the whole month of October. It's slowly become one of those holidays that is celebrated all month long. We went to Halloween events last weekend for goodness sake! Am I supposed to buy 4 different costumes for each kid or just let them wear the same one every weekend?? Good thing we have plenty of princess dresses and other dress up clothes to use as costumes. I'm not one to buy more than one costume a year. It just seems over excessive and unnecessary, ALTHOUGH the costumes do get used all year round in our house. Heck, Sophia was just dressed up in her pirate costume we bought TWO years ago for Gasparilla. Money well spent.

Halloween is more than just about costumes though. You can't just stick on a costume and call it a day. You have to create the mood and get into the spirit a little bit! Or're choice! ;)

10 Halloween Must Haves

1. Kid Costumes - for those who have kids. Goodness these are cute!

2. Adult Costumes - feeling festive?!

3. Non Costumes - for the lazy or those seeking comfort over award winning

4. Pumpkins - There are so many different ways to decorate a pumpkin! (Look for a post early next week!)

5. Music - Thriller never gets old. You should probably go ahead and learn the dance too

6. Beer - Pumpkin Beer to be exact. Gotta get it while it's here!

7. Food - Get off Pinterest and just order some pizza (never fails), or just totally ignore me and spend hours making these.

8. Shoes - If you're going trick or treating, you'll need a good pair of shoes and who doesn't want a pair of orange Nikes? Freshly Picked moccasins are always a must for the kids.

9. Movies - You don't have to be scared out of your mind for it to be a good Halloween movie! (I hate scary movies) Hocus Pocus & The Addams Family are great for the whole family!

10. Ice Hand - last but certainly not least! If you're having people over you absolutely must put an ice hand in your punch. Consider your party/gathering a total fail if you don't. ;)


Weekend Funsies (Oct 23rd - 26th)

Happy Thursday! 

It’s the last weekend in October (whaaaat?!) and there are events on top of events this weekend!! I mean, so many! How do you choose?! The struggles….Well, whatever it is you choose, I'm sure it will be a blast! 

1. The Tampa Theatre is haunted!! (Is it really?!)  The Tampa Theatre presents A Nightmare on Franklin Street Series!  For the rest of the month, you can go watch scary movies, take ghost tours, and listen spooky story telling!! Info Here

2. John’s Pass 33rd Annual Seafood Fest!! This event runs all weekend, kicking off Friday with a Halloween Block Party and adult costume contest.  There will be Children’s costume contest on Saturday and a Jimmy Buffett tribute on Sunday. Of course there will be tons of seafood to feed all the hungry mouths all weekend! InfoHere

3. Brickworld Tampa. This will be a heavenly event for Lego lovers!! Legos are taking over the Florida State Fairgrounds! Admission is $10 in advance or $11 at the door (3 and younger are free). There will be many activities for kids including building areas and fighting robots. Info Here 

4. HydroHarvest Farms 9th Annal BOOFEST is on Saturday! Games, food, crafts, pumpkins, and everything there is to make a great fall festival! Admission is free!  Info Here. 

5. Fall Festival & Concerts for a Cause! Saturday from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. there will be live music, costume contest, hay rides, and a pumpkin patch over in Fishhawk/Lithia!  It’s FREE but please bring a non-perishable food item to help area families who are in need and to support Feeding America Tampa Bay! Info Here 

6. Trick or Treat Street! Located at Riverview High School, local churches, businesses and organizations team up to provide kids a safe place to trick or treat! There will be many many booths with games, candy, and toys! Info Here.

7. Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival! This is the last weekend to go check it out! It’s a must! Info Here 

8. GuppyWeen!! Go to the Florida Aquarium on Sunday to trick-or-treat from tank-to-tank! Entertainment and Treats for the whole family! Kids in costume get in for $5! Info Here 

9. Trick-or-Treat at Ikea?! Sunday, Ikea is opening its showroom for all kids (12 years and under)  in costume to safely Trick or Treat! They also get a free Kids meal! Info Here 

10. Cinderella is in town! Where are my glass slippers?! The Tony award-winning Broadway musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, hit the Straz stage this week. The best part is that you can be a Fairy Godmother! Bring a gently used prom, cocktail, or evening dress to donate to girls in need.  Info Here 

Crock Pot Garlic Tomato Chicken

Hey you guys!!! Raise your hand if you love the crock pot! {Raises hand}

The crock pot is one of my favorite inventions ever and makes life relatively easy when I use it. 

This crock pot chicken recipe was a new one for me. When I first started putting together the ingredients, I had a "garlic honey" chicken in mind. But when it was done cooking and we ate it, it tasted and looked more like a "garlic tomato" chicken to me. I think the ketchup over powered the honey, so the word honey got an elbow to the ribs and kicked out of the name. 

The hubs LOVED the sauce and basically drenched his entire plate with it. While this wasn't mind blowing good, it was good! And I'm always down to try new ways to cook chicken...right?!

Crock Pot Garlic Tomato Chicken
What you’ll need:
2 chicken breasts (cut length wise to make 4 chicken filets)
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)

What you do:
Wash and cut chicken breasts length wise to make 4 chicken filets.
Place chicken in crock pot
Mix together rest of ingredients in small bowl.
Pour over chicken and cover with lid.
Cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
Serve over quinoa or rice.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Hey ya'll!! How's your Wednesday going? Its 3 p.m. and I'm just now sitting down to work. It's been a busy day to say the least, but a productive one!

It all started out with a biscotti to compliment my latte early this a.m. Joyful. I love biscotti. I love anything I can dip into my morning coffee. 

I used to make biscotti all the time, and then they just fell off the face of earth...OR I had a 2nd baby and life changed and I just never went back to making them like I used to. ;) 

But on Friday, I told ya'll I was going to be doing some baking and I stuck to my word! I made these delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscotti!!! I took this recipe from The Gunny Sack, and changed it a tad bit. I had to open another can of pumpkin for these, so be expecting some MORE pumpkin recipes to finish this can up! Oh bummer...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscotti

What you’ll need:
2 eggs
¾  cup granulated sugar
½  cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½  tsp baking powder
½  tsp baking soda
½  tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

What you do:
PreHeat oven to 350.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until thick.
Beat in pumpkin puree, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice.
Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Divide the dough in half.  Using some extra flour with your hands (because it's sticky!), form each half into a log shape on the baking sheet and flatten with hands until it measures about 10 inches by 3 inches.
Make sure the two logs are a couple inches away from each other on baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Take logs out of oven to cool for 10 minutes and turn oven heat down to 300.
Move logs to a cutting surface and cut logs into ¾ in slices.
Lay slices on baking sheet, cut side down, and bake for another 20 minutes, until crisp.
Let biscotti cool for 5 minutes, and then move to wire rack or other plate to cool.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkin French Toast

Good Mornin'! 
How's your Tuesday going so far? 
Feels a little like Monday over here because Sophia didn't have school yesterday. So I'm just getting into the routines of the work week.

Here are some Tuesday Thoughts for ya...

You know what I find a little odd? That "at home" peaceful feeling you get at random moments. It could be from a song, food, place, anything. 

This past Sunday we went to a fall festival at a church we used to call our “home church”. When I was walking through the festival, I thought about how much at home I felt. It’s where the hubs and I first started attending together about 10 years ago, it’s where my parents still attend,  it’s where we were baptized together, and it’s where we said our last goodbyes to my brother-in-law.

You see, ever since we moved further away we started attending different churches in search of “the one” to call home again. It’s been almost about 4 years and while we like other churches, the one we seemed to like the best is the furthest away. Go figure. So, I feel like we’re still in that “in-between” phase and just need to buckle down and make a decision. Sometimes its good to go back to the place you call home and sometimes its good to make change and form new relationships.

You know what else feels like home to me? French Toast ;) It’s just one of those good ol’ old fashion breakfast foods that makes me smile. Yes, food makes me smile.

I made this Pumpkin French Toast the other day and it was delicious. The hubs, an anti-pumpkin kind of guy, even enjoyed it!

Pumpkin French Toast 
What you’ll need:
6 pieces of whole wheat or any type of sandwich bread
3 eggs
½ cup almond milk
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
¾ cup pumpkin puree
(Butter, Powdered sugar, and maple syrup for serving)

What you do:
In a bowl,  whisk together eggs, milk, pumpkin spice, and pumpkin puree until smooth.
Dip each side of piece of bread and place on a hot, greased skillet.
Flip after 1 – 2 minutes.
Repeat with each piece of bread.
Serve with butter, powdered sugar, and maple syrup.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday!! How was everyone's weekend?

Ours was FILLED with Fall festivals, Halloween events, and beautiful weather!

We played outside a lot this weekend. The weather was just too good not too! This is the scenery on our running path. :) 

Saturday night we went to The Mommy Spot's Halloween Family Fun Night! Since the girl's Halloween costumes haven't arrived yet, I dressed them up in costumes we already had. Sophia was Cinderella and Nelps was Snow White. They had a blast! The event was at The Playgrounds of Tampa, an indoor bounce house place with an adult coffee lounge area. 

We came home and played with all the goodies Sophia got in the swag bags while the hubs watched the FSU football game. 

Sunday, we went to a birthday party for a little man turning 9 years old at a dear friend's house. They have a massive playground in their backyard. 

Sunday night, we stopped by our church's Fall Festival. They had games, food, bounce houses, and candy galore!!

Fun filled, yet exhausting weekend! So many fall events this month and beautiful weather, it's impossible to stay inside the house!

Hope you had a great weekend too!