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DOUBLE CHOCOLATE Sea Salt Hot Cocoa
2
Traveling with a Happy Toes.. and a Mad Xanadu
3
What I Love: Cookies & Cream Popcorn!
4
Cheesy Vegetable Soup
5
Vanilla Whoopie Pies With Marshmallow Cream Filling
6
Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting
7
Fudgy Milk Chocolate Donuts With Peanut Butter Frosting
8
Our Holiday Cards, Cat Pillow, Snowman Shower Curtain and More.. How to Make Customize Gifts!
9
What I LOVE: My Carhartt Full Swing , A Work Jacket Actually Made For Women!
10
Time To Decorate For The Holidays… And Dance!
11
Winter Is Coming…. I Need My Tea Hot! + Travel Mug Giveaway!
12
What I LOVE for Holiday Gifts: Metallics, Robots and Donuts
13
New Adventure… We bought land in Upstate NY! And this is how we closed on it.
14
Making Birthday Boxes for Kids Who Need Them
15
Escape The Room, anyone else try it?
16
Meet Wobbert, My Cats New Best Friend – And I’m giving away 2 to your cats!
17
Celebrating Thanksgiving With The Chew
18
Avocado Sailboats Filled With Mexican Corn Salad
19
Cheddar Cheese Scalloped Potatoes and Broccoli
20
Mexican Cheddar Cheese Dip

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE Sea Salt Hot Cocoa

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE Sea Salt Hot Cocoa! This is our favorite homemade hot chocolate recipe, it’s so rich and creamy! It’s easy and quick to make!  It’s  I love adding a sprinkle of sea salt on top to help balance out the double chocolate! This drink is for chocolate lovers!

“Woah”.
“Woah”.

That’s probably going to be your reaction when you take a sip of this Double Chocolate Sea Salt Hot Cocoa. 

With the holidays right around the corner (exciting!) the weather is changing here. I grew up in Pennsylvania where Christmas was usually blistery and covered in snow.  In NYC, I can’t recall many white Christmas days in the last 10 years, but I can feel the weather changing.  This week I’m already whipping my gloves out of my bag 2 minutes into my walk to work.  By the time I make my way home later in the day there’s one thing I want when I walk in the door.  Ok, 2 things, because first I want cat hugs.  That’s hot chocolate.  I want one nice mug of hot chocolate that will warm my hands and belly up.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE Sea Salt Hot Cocoa! This is our favorite homemade hot chocolate recipe, it's so rich and creamy! It's easy and quick to make!  It's  I love adding a sprinkle of sea salt on top to help balance out the double chocolate! This drink is for chocolate lovers!

I love the combo of chocolate + sea salt, so this recipe is giving you that sweet and salty taste.  Just a sprinkle of sea salt on top helps balance out the double chocolate.  Throw some marshmallows and holiday sprinkles on top and you’ll have your new favorite Winter drink.

Double Chocolate Sea Salt Hot Cocoa is a rich and creamy hot chocolate recipe! Just a sprinkle of sea salt on top helps balance out the double chocolate. Chocolate Lovers, this recipe is for you!
Enjoy!

Add your milk, cocoa powder and sugars into a saucepan.
Double Chocolate Sea Salt Hot Cocoa is a rich and creamy hot chocolate recipe! Just a sprinkle of sea salt on top helps balance out the double chocolate. Chocolate Lovers, this recipe is for you!

Whisk it over medium high heat until the sugars are dissolved.  Add your milk and yummy chocolate chips.
Double Chocolate Sea Salt Hot Cocoa is a rich and creamy hot chocolate recipe! Just a sprinkle of sea salt on top helps balance out the double chocolate. Chocolate Lovers, this recipe is for you!

Double Chocolate Sea Salt Hot Cocoa is a rich and creamy hot chocolate recipe! Just a sprinkle of sea salt on top helps balance out the double chocolate. Chocolate Lovers, this recipe is for you!

Once the chocolate is completely melted then pour into 2 mugs.  Sprinkle a little pinch of sea salt on top of each.
Double Chocolate Sea Salt Hot Cocoa is a rich and creamy hot chocolate recipe! Just a sprinkle of sea salt on top helps balance out the double chocolate. Chocolate Lovers, this recipe is for you!

Enjoy this Double Chocolate Sea Salt Hot Cocoa and stay warm!
Double Chocolate Sea Salt Hot Cocoa is a rich and creamy hot chocolate recipe! Just a sprinkle of sea salt on top helps balance out the double chocolate. Chocolate Lovers, this recipe is for you!

Double Chocolate Sea Salt Hot Cocoa is a rich and creamy hot chocolate recipe! Just a sprinkle of sea salt on top helps balance out the double chocolate. Chocolate Lovers, this recipe is for you!

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DOUBLE CHOCOLATE Sea Salt Hot Cocoa! This is our favorite homemade hot chocolate recipe, it's so rich and creamy! It's easy and quick to make!  It's  I love adding a sprinkle of sea salt on top to help balance out the double chocolate! This drink is for chocolate lovers!

 

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Double Chocolate Sea Salt Hot Cocoa

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE Sea Salt Hot Cocoa! This is our favorite homemade hot chocolate recipe, it's so rich and creamy! It's easy and quick to make!  It's  I love adding a sprinkle of sea salt on top to help balance out the double chocolate! This drink is for chocolate lovers!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • marshmallows and sprinkles optional, but awesome

Instructions

  1. In small saucepan whisk together 1 cup milk, cocoa powder and sugars until they are dissolved over medium high heat.
  2. Add the remaining 1 cup milk and chocolate chips. Keep stirring until the chocolate chips are melted. Run a spoon on the bottom of the saucepan and see if any chocolate comes up. If it does, keep stirring until melted.
  3. Pour into 2 cups and sprinkle a nice sized pinch of sea salt on top of each one.
  4. Add marshmallows and sprinkles!

Recipe Notes

Servings: 2

 Linked at the Weekend Potluck party!

Traveling with a Happy Toes.. and a Mad Xanadu

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Feliway® for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Last, last weekend we went back to Pennsylvania we went back to visit my family.  This is my annual pilgrimage to Pennsylvania where Dad feeds us calories to last us a month, while I poke around in picture books and share memories of where I grew up with Matthew.  Since my Dad hasn’t been up to NYC in a while that means he hasn’t seen his favorite Meowza girl, Xanadu.   My dad has a sweet relationship with Xanadu and Xanadu loves being spoiled by him.  Since he was missing her, we decided to take Xanadu back to Pennsylvania with us. She’s done this road trip before so we figured she’d be fine again.  We also took Toes because my Dad hasn’t met her yet and she’s a awesome girl.

Not to tell you the outcome of the story this quick but Xanadu didn’t like her road trip.  Actually she really hated it.  She didn’t like any part of it, except when we left my Dad’s a day early to come back to NYC because of how sad Xanadu was.   Something upset her during this road trip and she didn’t take well to the car ride there, or his house.  On the flip side, on the car ride back to NYC she was purring and kissing me like a baby, so maybe Xanadu just used her Siamese powers to get what she wanted and tricked us all.   This was on the trip to Pennsylvania….. and these were her subtle meows.

 

A video posted by Pamela Reed (@pamelaz) on


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What I Love: Cookies & Cream Popcorn!


In the What I LOVE series, I’m sharing current things that I love.  Maybe it’s a new restaurant, maybe it’s a new cookie, maybe it’s a new cat toy, maybe it’s… anything!

Remember Savage Garden? Remember their lyrics:

I want to stand with you on a mountain. / I want to bathe with you in the sea. / I want to lay like this forever. / Until the sky falls down on me

Yeah, well that’s how I feel about all the popcorn from Pop Works & Company right now, especially the Cookies & Cream.   It’s really good and I mean reaaaaaaaaaaaalllly good.  It’s so good we’re basically tackling each other to get the few pieces left in the bag.  There’s side eyes being shot at one another when someone says they finished the bag without you knowing it.  This popcorn is popped just right and seasoned with all the sweetness you need.    

Pop Works Popcorn_4

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Cheesy Vegetable Soup

If you’re looking for a Winter soup that will warm you up then look no further – this Cheesy Vegetable Soup is it!

*First of all – Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas to everyone! I want to wish you and your family a happy and relaxing Christmas.  I’m virtually sending you a gift wrapped hug and hot chocolate! *

This soup has it all – tons of vegetables, tons of flavor and lots of creamy cheesiness!  When I made this and saw people were going back for seconds (and thirds!) then I knew this soup was a hit.  While spooning a cheesy taste into their mouth and muttering “This soup is really good!” then I knew I had to post this recipe!

Vegetable soups are usually thought of more broth based, but I love cheesy vegetables.   I was able to use our frozen garden green beans and carrots in this recipe.  It’s the best feeling when you can use your Summer veggies on cold Winter days!  For this recipe I’m using frozen green beans, frozen corn and fresh carrots and potatoes, but you can throw whatever frozen vegetables you want into this.  Frozen broccoli, cauliflower, California blend, carrots or peas would all taste great!  If possible, don’t skip the potatoes! It gives the soup a heartiness that will fill you up.  

If you're looking for a Winter soup that will warm you up then look no further - this Cheesy Vegetable Soup is it!

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Vanilla Whoopie Pies With Marshmallow Cream Filling

Vanilla Whoopie Pies With Marshmallow Cream Filling. These whoopie pies taste like cake with creamy marshmallow filling inside. These taste just like the whoopie pies you buy at the Amish market!

Whoopie pies were a big thing growing up.  We would head to the auction market every Sunday.  Sometimes it would be one nearby, sometimes we’d head to the Amish Market in Lancaster.  It didn’t matter where we went because whoopie pies would always end up in our basket. Now with a whoopie pie craving happening but no whoopie pie seen at my local grocer I headed to the kitchen.

I’ve made chocolate whoopie pies and pumpkin whoopie pies in the past but I never made vanilla ones.  Vanilla cake is one of my favorite treats so these pies have a cake like texture as they are very soft.  And the filling. AND THE FILLING.  The filling is incredible.  Marshmallow was always the filling for homemade whoopie pies at the market so I went classic with this recipe and kept the marshmallow cream that made me fall in love with them 25 years ago.   The cream filling is now a kitchen favorite and I probably ate 5 (or 10) spoonfuls of it while making these pies.  Because of the marshmallow, the filling is light and fluffy, perfect to go with the soft pies. 

Vanilla Whoopie Pies With Marshmallow Cream Filling. These whoopie pies taste like cake with creamy marshmallow filling inside. These taste just like the whoopie pies you buy at the Amish market!

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Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting

Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

The title of this recipe was a combination of Matthew’s “scrumptious” description and my “DA BOMB” peanut butter frosting because people love it a lot.   Also the phrase DA BOMB isn’t used as much anymore and I think we should bring it back.  Occasionally, not all the time, let’s not get crazy.

Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

Chocolate cookies aren’t appreciated enough in my opinion.  Usually when you hear chocolate in a cookie you automatically think of chocolate chip cookies, but how about straight up chocolate cookies?  Chocolate cookies are a thing of beauty when you bake them and they get that cracked texture on top.  Now throw on some frosting (that’s right) on top and you have your new favorite cookie.   The holiday season is all about comfort food and cookies are on the top of this list.  Who else receives cookies as gifts from their mother, aunt or sister?  It’s the best! This year I decided I’m going to make cookies and chocolates as gifts to family and friends.   There’s something real special about handing a nicely wrapped tin of cookies that still smell like they came straight from the oven to people you love.   

It’s almost as good as unwrapping a Goblin for Christmas.  Almost.
Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

If you guys can’t tell I’m obsessed with peanut butter frosting right now so I asked why do cupcakes and donuts get to have all the fun? Cookies need decadent frosting too!  I’m sure noone will disagree with this… right?

Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

This might be the best cookie dough I’ve made.  I kept telling myself  “You need to eat dinner tonight, don’t eat anymore!”.  But I did..
Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

You’ll want to roll these into tablespoon sized balls (pictured to left).  Then gently press down with a spoon (not pictured).  And then when they come out of the oven they’ll be perfect (pictured to right).
Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

I just love how crinkly these look on top when they come out of the oven.  When they are finished baking, they’ll be soft, but don’t worry, give them 15 minutes to cool and they’ll harden up.
Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

Now you can totally just use this recipe to just make chocolate cookies.  Throw some powdered sugar on top and you’re done. 

Or you can take them to the next level and add peanut butter frosting on top.  OH LA LA LA.
Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

This peanut butter frosting has become a staple in my recipe book.  I’ve also learned how easy it is to make my own powdered sugar from making this frosting so often. All you do is take 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cornstarch, put in the blender and blend until it has a powdered sugar consistency.  It’s so easy!
Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

If I have chocolate wafers in my baking cabinet, I’ll throw one on top of each cookie.  
Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

Hope you guys enjoy these cookies!
Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting
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For the cookies
  1. 1/2 cup softened butter
  2. 2 tablespoons milk
  3. 1/2 cup white sugar
  4. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 1/2 cups flour
  8. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For the frosting
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar (I make my own, instructions in Notes below)
  2. 1/4 cup peanut butter
  3. 2 tablespoon milk
Optional
  1. Chocolate Wafers
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or use silicone baking sheets.
  2. In a large bowl mix butter, milk and sugars together with hand mixer. Add egg and vanilla and continue mixing.
  3. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda and mix until you have a nice cookie dough consistency.
  4. Roll up tablespoons of cookie dough and drop onto cookie sheet. Use a spoon to lightly press down each cookie.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will be soft when they come out of the oven, but don't worry, they will harden up.
  6. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from cookie sheet.
For the frosting
  1. Add powdered sugar, peanut butter and milk in a bowl and use a hand mixer until it forms into a nice frosting.
Cookie time
  1. Spread generous amount of frosting on each cookie.
  2. Add chocolate wafer on top of each cookie.
Notes
  1. Makes 24 cookies.
  2. To make your own powdered sugar, mix 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a blender until it is powdered.
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/

 Scrumptious Chocolate Cookies With DA BOMB Peanut Butter Frosting.  The most popular cookie that friends and families ask me to make! Recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

Fudgy Milk Chocolate Donuts With Peanut Butter Frosting

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SendHallmark  #CollectiveBias

Donuts + Holidays = that card. Don’t you agree?

I have a thing for donuts.  Ever since I was a little girl I loved heading to the local bakery to get a freshly made vanilla frosted donut with sprinkles.  On mornings when I was lucky, Mom would take us to Dunkin Donuts where I’d get a blueberry frosted donut.  Now, grown up (sorta) and living in NYC, I’m exposed to some of the best donuts in the world.  I have a confession. When I’m out by myself in a new neighborhood I will open Yelp and type in “donuts” to see if there’s any new spots nearby that I haven’t visited.    Just a few blocks away from me is the dangerously delicious DOUGH.  DOUGH is the best NYC donut spot.  No arguments allowed,  they are the best!  They are these pillowy soft donuts with the best icing.  They taste light but you know you just ate a whole meals worth of calories.  It’s worth it.    When I’m home and craving a sweet, or need to bring a dessert to a party, I usually grab my handy donut pan and get to work. Sometimes I’m feeling vanilla, other times chocolate, and maybe I’m feeling crazy so I add some tea or berries to make a new flavor.   If you don’t have a donut pan, buy one, it will be a life changing moment when you make donuts for the first time.

That’s how these Fudgy Milk Chocolate Donuts With Peanut Butter Frosting happened. I needed donuts.

Fudgy Milk Chocolate Donuts With Peanut Butter Frosting. These donuts are easy to make and will satisfy your chocolate loving sweet tooth. On top is the most delicious peanut butter frosting!

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Our Holiday Cards, Cat Pillow, Snowman Shower Curtain and More.. How to Make Customize Gifts!

We try to make as many things as we can.  Matthew is a handy man so that means our dinner table, bed, living room tables and more were all made by him.  On our walls are photos we’ve made or illustrations we’ve commissioned artists to do.   Even my favorite sweatshirt has sweet Goblin’s face on it.

Goblin Sweatshirt

When it comes to the holidays for gifts and decor I’m all about customizing as much as I can.  I hand stamp the wrapping paper.  I made the gift tags. For our greeting cards, we always like to personalize them as much as we can to make them stand out and cause the recipient a smile.

For this year’s cards I decided to try to dress Goblin and Xanadu up… and you can see it went great.  So instead of scrapping the idea, why not use the failed photos for a laugh?
Custom Printed Christmas Gifts_1
Custom Printed Christmas Gifts_4

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What I LOVE: My Carhartt Full Swing , A Work Jacket Actually Made For Women!

Can I tell you how annoying it’s been trying to work find clothes for working on the land that actually fits me?  We went to a outfitter store a few weeks ago to buy work clothes and the store should have been called “Made for Men”  Matthew had no problem finding overalls, jacket, boots and everything else. Their women’s section had dresses, scarves, exercise pants and cashmere sweaters.  Ok, that’s real fair. 

They had no women’s overalls.
They had 2 jackets.
They had 3 pairs of women’s boots while Matthew had 2 walls filled.
I had to try on men’s jackets and overalls which weighed 10 pounds.  How was I going to swing my ax with this extra weight?  Ok maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.  Maybe there will be no ax swinging in the near future, but how was I suppose to move with this extra 20 pounds on me?  

So I became frustrated and didn’t buy anything.  

I threw Matthew’s overalls on at home, sauntering around like weighed down zombie, mumbling how nice he had it in life.     

I have no shame in saying this. Not only do I want work clothes that fit me, I want them to be pretty too. Yeah, take that.  Give me purple.  Give me blue. Give me pink.  Let me match my nails to my overalls.   It’s like they’re saying that if you want to work hard then you need to dress like a man.  Whatever.  I have an ax.  

When I was seeing darkness finally there was light! There she was, my Carhartt Full Swing Sandstone Winn Jacket! It was nice looking.  It was light.  It actually fit my body correctly.  It wasn’t going to make me sink to the bottom if I fell into a pond.  I was in love.

carhartt coat review

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Time To Decorate For The Holidays… And Dance!

Yesterday I begged Matthew to climb up the ladder and get all the Christmas containers down from the loft.  I’m not good on a ladder so I leave the dangerous chores to him. After passing each one down to me I dragged them to the other side of the room.  Then I coughed because goodness, it’s crazy how dusty this place can get in one year! Cleaning up For The Holidays

The lids came off the containers, the snowmen were released from their plastic homes and then Mariah Carey came on Spotify.  And then I danced.  And then the cats stared at me as they usually do when Mom is one of her dance moods.  Check out that flip dance move on Bofinkles.  Also apologies to my neighbors but this song is on replay for the next 24 days. 

 

A video posted by Pamela Reed (@pamelaz) on

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Winter Is Coming…. I Need My Tea Hot! + Travel Mug Giveaway!

Tracking Pixel
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Contigo®.  It’s how I stay warm!

This weekend we were Upstate (have you heard about our new adventure?) working hard.  On Sunday morning we were on the land bright and early and it was 27 degrees.  I saw ice on the land.  I shivered and shook as I dove into my work clothes.   Then I immediately grabbed my cup of tea that I made 30 minutes before at the motel.   I knew this would warm me up over the next few hours.

No matter if it’s cold or hot outside I always start my morning off with tea.  During the Winter it’s a hot cup of Oolong.  During the Summer it’s a cold cup of Green Jasmine.   When I walk to work in the Winter I carry my tea in my hands just in case I need a quick drink to warm me up while waiting for the Walk sign.  It helps a lot!

Contigo_1

So with a Pumpkin bagel in one hand and Contigo®’s Travel Mug in another, I was ready to get dirty and work all day long.
Contigo_6

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What I LOVE for Holiday Gifts: Metallics, Robots and Donuts

In the What I LOVE series, I’m sharing current things that I love.  Maybe it’s cats, maybe it’s a new restaurant, maybe it’s a new cookie, maybe it’s… anything!

So it’s finally the rush to the Holidays.  Have you begun shopping yet? I haven’t, but I will begin soon.  I’m not a Black Friday shopper because usually I’m too impatient and too picky. What I love is finding that special gift for a friend or loved one that fits them perfectly.  You know that friend who is obsessed with donuts (that’s me!) then why not get her a donut clutch handbag so she can never be too far from her beloved sweets?

When I was flipping through the pages of Marie Claire I started to get some ideas for my fashion forward and sweet tooth friends.  I love browsing magazines for ideas but I usually don’t love those price tags that come with it.  You know it’s not going to be good when the price says “Price upon request”.  So below are some of my favorite trends without those giant price tags.

Reach for the stars with these cutting-edge items with a futuristic bent.
I am so in love with that dress along with the clear bag that I’m seeing hearts in my own eyes.  Maybe Matthew is reading this…. Hello lovely!  Oh and that Robot bag, I can’t stand how cute it is.
FUTURE FASHION
White Dress /  White Bag / Clear Bag /Robot Purse / Sunglasses

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New Adventure… We bought land in Upstate NY! And this is how we closed on it.

I’ve been so excited to tell you…. we bought land!

Did you notice the new menu category up above called “P+M Upstate Adventure“? Well if not I’m here to tell you about it! Our new adventure we’ll be starting is the journey of starting a once in a while getaway in Upstate New York. This is somewhere we’ll escape the hustle and bustle of NY, where we can expand our garden and eventually build a small home and maybe even a pond!  We won’t be leaving NYC, this will be a place we run away to maybe 30 days out of the year,  some place to call our own for the first time.  

We’ve lived in a big city since we were 18 years old and sometimes you grow tired of all the rules and not being to do what you want.  Plus there’s the issue of space, does anyone know of 7 acres of open land we can buy in Brooklyn? Unfortunately Prospect Park won’t sell us any.  We have the garden on the rooftop and that’s  awesome (and we’ll be keeping it) but in the past years our building has gotten stricter and in reality any day they could tell us we can’t garden on the roof anymore and it would be gone.  So we set out to see if we could purchase land that we would be able to do all sorts of things with that we wouldn’t be able to in the city.   

I will be posting every step of the journey, from buying the land (below) to building to figuring out how the heck we’re going to build things and make it all work.    We will be trying to do everything ourselves, but thankfully Matthew is Mr. Handy Man!  We are first time land owners so this will be full of ups and downs. I hope you enjoy the ride and I hope if you’re visiting the page for the first time and are in the same situation you’ll find some helpful info.
I’m excited!

What we wanted:
-At least 5 acres
-A section of open meadows
-About 3 hours max drive from NYC
-In budget
-In the Catskills
-Amazing View

The dream:
A large garden full of fruits and vegetables
Fruit trees along with pine trees
A modern shipping container home with deck with full view of Catskills
A pond
A place for friends to stay when visiting
A basketball court (I can dream!)
Lots of animals (I can dream!)

I think it was in late August that we seriously started to think about buying property.  We’ve always tossed it around but not seriously because at the time we couldn’t afford it.  Plus it seemed far fetched.. we could own land? This is something that many people own all over the world but living in a city often erases that possibility from your mind.    We looked at our finances, figured out our max budget, named our wishlist, drew a map of where we’d want to settle and then started to look at endless listings of land online.   

Buying Land Upstate

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Making Birthday Boxes for Kids Who Need Them

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Create the Good for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

I think it’s fitting that before Thanksgiving this is a post saying thanks and helping out others. I found out about the Birthday Gift Project from looking on the Create the Good website.  The website allows you to enter your zip code and gives you ways to give back to your Community from searching in your area, in your state or doing work from home. Honestly, I haven’t done much charity work in person.  It makes me feel like an awful person. I always look at those people who volunteer 2 times a week with such envy.  I’ve always wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter but I know deep down inside I wouldn’t be strong enough. Maybe you can handle that, or maybe you’re good at talking to seniors, or maybe you’d do great at a phone bank for getting food donations, or maybe you’d be great at helping make a kid smile at a distance or providing a school a new dictionary. 

The Birthday Giving Project is designed to give kids a birthday party that their families might not be able to afford. These boxes go to children in need, including a large amount going to kids in battered women shelters. The idea is to put in the box party supplies for them to celebrate a small party as well as a little gift to make them smile. Then you wrap it up and send it to the Charity who forwards it to the kid who has a birthday soon. You will help these families by providing a small “party in a box” for a child in need and at the same time gives children with “more” the opportunity to learn empathy in a concrete way by helping another child.

As soon as I heard about this opportunity I went out on the same day and got my box supplies ready. I mixed and matched the party supplies to try to make it as colorful and festive as possible.  A little goes a long way here and everything counts.  If you can only buy $10 worth the supplies, that’s totally amazing and you’re awesome.  If you can buy $25 worth of supplies and gifts, you’re equally amazing. 

Now time to get the birthday box together!  

I was putting together a box for a girl, aged 6-10. Colorful party supplies plus pretty cool Animal glasses.  Making Birthday Boxes for Kids Who Need Them

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Escape The Room, anyone else try it?

Have you heard of Escape The Room adventures? They’re getting popular in big cities. The basis is that you get locked in a room for usually an hour (sometimes more) and you have to figure out a bunch of different puzzles for the door to unlock win the mission. The room isn’t scary at all, it’s usually Detective or Space themed. The puzzles aren’t easy and they take alot of brain power and team work. They also make you work quick. Weirdly enough it’s a good stress reliever because while you’re in the room, you think of nothing else. It’s like this escape into another dimension. It’s awesome.

This was us after our first Escape The Room experience, look at how excited we still are.  Also that camera flashed totally didn’t work with my shirt… ooops!
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With the holidays coming up you might be thinking about what to get your boy. There’s video games, new gadgets, the never ending pairs of socks and the other usual items on a male’s Christmas list. But you know what I think is some of the best gifts? Experiences. For example, last year for Christmas, the last gift I opened was tickets to see Aladdin, the Broadway musical, in just a few days. It was a present where we got to get dressed up for, go to a new place, enjoy a few hours together and then chat about it after. Right now I am all about date nights. I’ve been trying to set something up for once every two weeks as it’s really easy to fall into a routine with home life. Over the past few weeks I took Matthew to Escape The Room and then a few days ago we went to see the Ghost In The Shell movie (only in theaters for 3 days) and ate at Malaysian restuarant that we never tried. Oh and then we got cake truffles from Milk Bar which always makes me think “How can something be so delicious?”.

One night when Matthew got home I gave him a piece of paper with a smile. With a raised eyebrow he opened it up.
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Meet Wobbert, My Cats New Best Friend – And I’m giving away 2 to your cats!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Friskies for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Wobbert brings all the boys to the yard.. and the girls… and the yard is my house.. and Wobbert has treats in his belly.. and this isn’t exactly a Kelis song but the beginning of this post was too good for me to pass up. La la-la la la.

You guys, Wobbert.  Life is all about Wobbert right now.

Remember when Tickle Me Elmo was huge and your parents stood in line for 8 hours for you so you didn’t cry on Christmas morning? I feel like if your cats find out about Wobbert, it’s going to be like that. This is honestly one of our cats favorite toys ever. How much does Toes, FiFi Bofinkles, Goblin, Brother and Xanadu love him?  I made a video so you can see.

Here were the first impressions:
Toes – a master at food in general.  Took her only a few minutes and she was throwing it down and eating up those treats.
Bofinkles – thought she could headbutt Wobbert down but eventually she got it.  She really likes eating the ears.
Goblin – rather confused by this all, didn’t really like anyone watching him,  but gave it a try. Brother, Xanadu – they were sleepy, so they were upset that Mom was dragging them out of their bed to try Wobbert.

After first impressions though it was all love. 

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Celebrating Thanksgiving With The Chew

Thanksgiving is just a few days away… are you excited?  Are you prepared?  Do you have the menu ready to go? So many questions, I know. The holidays are fun but sometimes stressful so I hope this recipe filled Holiday post will help you with some last minute decisions.
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Avocado Sailboats Filled With Mexican Corn Salad

Tracking PixelThese Avocado Sailboats Filled With Mexican Corn Salad is a fun recipe that is perfect for parties!

Avocado, you beautiful thing.  Want to know a surprising fact? I had my first avocado in my 20’s.  As a kid we would never have them in the house and I never tasted guacamole.  Then I slowly started to eat them as a sliced topping on my favorite tortilla soup.  Now today, I’m licking clean (TMI?) the guacamole bowl.    So yeah, I love you avocado, I’m sorry it took me so long to realize this.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner I’m starting to think about parties.  I love a good potluck where all your friends gather together and bring all types of food to enjoy.   So I got to thinking about avocados…what could I do besides the usual guacamole?  And what I could do fun with them?  Then one afternoon it hit me, Avocado Sailboats!  And even better they’re filled with my favorite Mexican Corn Salad.

These are simple to make.  You can easily make a few dozen of these Avocado Sailboats in less than 15 minutes.  I love that they’re full of fresh ingredients unlike some other fried finger foods that might make its way to the table.    I hope you give these a try!

These Avocado Sailboats Filled With Mexican Corn Salad is a fun recipe that is perfect for parties!

These Avocado Sailboats Filled With Mexican Corn Salad is a fun recipe that is perfect for parties!


You’ll need 12 avocados which will make 24 sailboats.  If you want to scale it up or down, then do the math accordingly.  Or you can just follow the recipe exactly and if you have leftover salsa eat it with a spoon, it’s that good.
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Cheddar Cheese Scalloped Potatoes and Broccoli

Cheddar Cheese Scalloped Potatoes with Broccoli and Cream of Mushroom Soup is a easy and quick recipe that is loaded with flavor!   My family declares this homemade cheesy dish the best casserole I make!  Warm up to this baked classic meal sometime soon!
 

We’ll be having our first Friendsgiving this Friday and I’m so excited to see friends and eat all their yummy casseroles, vegetable dishes and dessert.  I’m also pretty excited to share this Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Cream of Mushroom Soup and Broccoli Casserole with them!

To me holidays are all about side dishes.  As my first year as a Vegetarian during the holidays it’s going to be a culinary adventure but that’s ok, side dishes are always my favorite.  In the past turkey has been good, but those potatoes, green beans, stuffing, rolls and pumpkin pie… load me up!  I made this casserole with the thought of doing a in between of a mac and cheese and mashed potatoes. It’s creamy, it’s cheesy and even better it uses my favorite Cream of Mushroom soup and a bunch of broccoli.  Have you guys noticed my love of broccoli in recipes? I can’t help it. I see broccoli hearts in my eyes.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes and Broccoli with Cream of Mushroom Soup. These scalloped potatoes are light on the cheese and use a creamy cream of mushroom mixture. They will be a hit at the next holiday dinner!

Instead of using all that milk and a bunch of cheese this recipe is calling for a Family Size can of  Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup.  You probably already have a can in your pantry for other favorite Thanksgiving side dishes but did you know it makes one heck of a potato dish too?   This is one of my favorite Condensed soups to have on hand because it’s flavorful and saves me a bunch of time when I’m making multiple dishes at once.

You’ll want to slice up 2.5 pounds of potatoes. I throw these into my food processor and they’re done within a minute. I always think it’s magic.  Then you’ll want to cut up a head of broccoli.  Use the reference photo below to the left to see the size of the broccoli cut up, each piece should be small.
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes and Broccoli with Cream of Mushroom Soup. These scalloped potatoes are light on the cheese and use a creamy cream of mushroom mixture. They will be a hit at the next holiday dinner!

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Mexican Cheddar Cheese Dip

EASY MEXICAN Cheddar Cheese Dip made with 1 bag of shredded cheese, milk and other simple ingredients.  This delicious dip can be served with tortilla chips, crackers, vegetables or on top of nachos! It’s always the hit of the party!

Cheese.

You either love it or you love it.   Have you ever met a person who doesn’t love it? Once I met a person who doesn’t like pizza and I ran away from them.

Cheese dip is one of those things that I love, no matter what time of the year or where I’m at.  You’ll find cheese dips at pot lucks, friends dinner parties or fancy art openings.  No matter what the event, you’ll find me at the snacks table swimming in that cheese sauce (not literally, the bowl isn’t big enough).    

EASY MEXICAN Cheddar Cheese Dip made with 1 bag of shredded cheese, milk and other simple ingredients.  This delicious dip can be served with tortilla chips, crackers, vegetables or on top of nachos! It's always the hit of the party!

Recently my husband asked if I could stop including cheese in some of our dinners.  I looked at him and said “What type of monster are you?”. To satisfy him I added some broccoli along with the cheese.  See, I can compromise.

With a craving for a cheesy snack during a movie night I threw this together in minutes and served it with various foods to dip.  You have your typical tortilla chips and crackers but you also have your vegetables for those wanting a fresh option.  Because nothing says delicious more than a piece of cauliflower smothered in cheese, right?

EASY MEXICAN Cheddar Cheese Dip made with 1 bag of shredded cheese, milk and other simple ingredients.  This delicious dip can be served with tortilla chips, crackers, vegetables or on top of nachos! It's always the hit of the party!

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