Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Easy Peasy Sweet Potato Pie

A few years ago I was feeling very "Martha" like and thought I'd try my hand at making homemade pie.  Knowing my limits, I decided to start simple and found a keeper in this sweet potato pie recipe!  I found this recipe on and I have looked and looked and can no longer find it on that website but, here are the deets:
image from gina's skinny recipes and she's got a skinny version!
You'll need the following:
* 1 pound of sweet potato
* 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter softened
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup milk
* 2 eggs
* 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 9 inch unbaked pie crust

And here's how you'll make it happen:
* Boil sweet potato whole (40-50 minutes or until done).  Run cold water over sweet potato and remove skin.
* Preheat oven to 350 F
* Break apart sweet potato in bowl.  Add butter and mix with mixer.  Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla.
* Beat on medium speed until smooth and pour into unbaked pie crust.
* Bake for 55-60 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.
* Enjoy!

I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Modest Mondays - Online Savings

Welcome back to the 3rd edition of Modest Mondays!!  I've mentioned before that the hubs and I are currently looking to buy our "forever home" in about 3 years and without stashing aside a bunch of cash this won't be possible.  So, I figured I'd share with you where we are putting it while also earning a little more on the money we're setting aside, which naturally makes me smile.

I'll never forget the first time I heard about online savings accounts and the higher interest rates these accounts yield as compared to a traditional savings account at your hometown bank.  I was skeptical of the whole idea - there is comfort in being able to know where you go to find your money rather than a www address.  But, after some research and talking to some co-workers, I pulled the trigger and opened my first account with an online bank (who shall remain nameless - just a weird privacy thing with me but I hope you understand).  I didn't have much to start with but figured that earning 5-10 times the interest I was earning on my traditional savings account was still more than I was getting today.  As the hubs and I have continued to save in order to meet our financial goals and "forever home" goals the difference has really started to add up and in my eyes its free money.  There is a slight sacrifice in convenience as transfers from my online account into my checking account generally take about one business day but with careful planning this has never been an issue.  But, if you want to set-up a portion of your paycheck to deposit directly into this account you can totally do that which, means you never miss the money because you really don't see it (this always helps me:))  As far as risk is concerned, our account is FDIC insured, just as it would be in our primary bank - so no worries there!  Oh...and it too links into my mint account so its all there for me to see our complete financial picture.

I've found some great sites that also talk about the differences between the various financial institutions and the products they offer as well as different ways to save and thought it might be helpful to share those here too:

* Know the Different Types of Financial Institutions - a great synopsis of the options available to you with a little background on the "hows" and "whys" of the products offered

*Online Savings Account - a great summary of ways to rapidly build up your savings account

*Savings Advice - a great blog dedicated to finding ways to help you save

There are tons of great online banks out there offering higher interest savings than traditional banks and this is just ONE super-easy way to earn a little more on your money without really doing anything!!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday...

PhotobucketEver have those moments when nothing...and I mean absolutely nothing seems to be going your way and then you sit back and reflect on life in general and realize that you've got it good?!  It seems to wash away the negativity and bring to light all of the positives.  I love those moments!!

On that note, I'm linking up for another week of Thankful Thursdays with Samantha over at "Adventures with Gwen."  You should head over and link-up to or at least stop by and leave some words of encouragement for Samantha...who spent a night in the ER earlier this week because Gwen was just diagnosed with an inguinal hernia and will have to undergo surgery to have it repaired or risk more issues with the hernia.  Reading stories like hers make me so thankful for the fortune we've been blessed with in regards to Addie's health.  I cannot imagine the thought of Addie undergoing surgery this early in her life yet, I know so many parents are faced with this and other serious conditions. 

I'm also thankful for a safe trip to and from Washington, D.C. earlier this week and my wonderful husband who played single parent while I was gone.

I'm thankful for my amazing parents who were more than willing to take Addie on for a few extra hours while I was away to fit S's work schedule so he didn't have to expend any of his precious vacation time.

I'm thankful for a special birthday celebration shared with my Poppa who turned 86 yesterday.

And to lighten the mood a bit....

I'm thankful for BOGO at Starbucks on their holiday drinks this weekend (well..actually starting today and ending Sunday).  Grab a friend and GO!!!

Again, if you have a minute, please head over and send some well wishes to my friend Samantha!!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another easy one...

PhotobucketAs I always say...I'm a recipe girl and an easy recipe girl at that.  I get stressed when multiple things are going on in the kitchen at once and although I'm trying to learn to better manage the whole cooking process I tend to stick to easy recipes whenever possible.  So, when Lis and I decided we would surprise the husbands with an appetizer dinner...I say "surprise" because we knew this wouldn't be their first choice but we were really craving an all appetizer dinner.

So...I decided I'd attempt sausage balls and luckily the end result was a good one.

Here's what I used:
this is what it should look like after being mixed

* 1 lb of mild pork sausage (hot sausage would be great for a spicier option)
* 1 cup of Bisquick
* 1 cup of cheddar cheese

And here's what I did:

* Preheat oven to 375 F
* Mix all of the ingredients with your hands until well mixed.  This is key!!
* Form into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet
* Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown
* Serve and enjoy!!

These were a big hit and make quite a bit...which was perfect for the 4 of us!!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Modest Mondays....Mint love

overview and iPhone app
*I have not been paid or incentivized in any way for this post.  The thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own* I'm back for Round 2 of Modest Mondays and thought it might be helpful to divulge a little more about my love/hate relationship with a fun little website known as

I LOVE it because its keeps everything (checking, savings, retirement, credit cards, home value, investments, etc.) in one place, gives me a quick snapshot of our financial situation, allows me to budget and set goals that it will track, gives me all sorts of money-saving ideas, its FREE, reminds me when I have bills due, and because I'm a huge dork - I must admit that it really excites me that I can create cool graphs (because I'm a visual learner) about our financial situation.

I HATE it because when I go over budget in any category I get a nice little email letting me know that I have exceeded my budget.  Talk about a spoiler...or if account balances get low - it reminds you of that too.  Oh...and see it tracks the value of my home and with falling market prices...the news isn't always so good.  
graph love
Seriously though...this little site makes me smile.  I usually check it once a day to make sure all of my financial transactions are properly categorized and lining up in the correct budget line and to see what our net worth is.  It is an Intuit product and claims to have the same security as online baking - I'm no IT expert so don't hold me to that but from everything I've read it seems that they mean what they say.  I've read some reviews that claimed they were slow to respond with problems but when I had a problem with my bank's balance not refreshing they fixed it in a few hours.  

To set everything up it took about 4 hours and it took me a couple weeks to figure out all of the cool things it can do.  It's just really nice to have one place that I always have access to (as well as the hubs) that keeps everything financial together....and did I mention this is FREE!  Oh...and a free app for the iPhone is a plus in my book too.

So there you have it...a quick and dirty of mint.  And if you're looking for something like this or currently paying a monthly fee for something like this...head on over and at least see what they have to offer.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

we have a winner...

PhotobucketAs promised, I selected the Tiny Prints winner this morning!!  I used to select my winner and with 21 comments, it generated 14!

Congratulations to Ashley at "Artificially Fertile Myrtle" I can only imagine the cuteness of her christmas cards with her awesome photography skills and her beautiful twins!!!  THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone that entered!!

Ashely - I'll send you an e-mail with the contact at Tiny Prints and instructions on how to order your 50 free gift cards.

And seriously...I have been nothing but 100% satisfied with every single order I've made through Tiny Prints.  I love their stuff and their quality is amazing, especially given the price.  So if you haven't already, head over to their site and find something cute for you and yours!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

13 month highlights

I know I'm late but I wanted to share Addie's 13 month highlights. Thanks to Pinterest and some fellow bloggers I've found some inspiration for change for Addie's monthly updates. I ended up using the collage feature in Picnik to create this but my blog friend Laura, over at "My Thoughts Uninterrupted" posted a wonderful tutorial on how to create these using Word too!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Thursdays


I'm back for week 2 of the "Thankful Thursday" link-up, which is being hosted by my good bloggy friend Samanatha over at "Adventures with Gwen."  You should definitely take a few minutes and write down all that you have to be thankful for and head over and link up and share your list!

I'm thankful for an evening full of Addie-tude to remind me of what a persistent, determined, and strong-willed little girl we have on our hands.  I can only hope that as she gets older she will always stand strong for what she believes in. 

I'm thankful for Addie's complete dislike and total disrespect for my laptop.  Its a reminder to me that memories aren't made with my nose stuck in a computer but rather on the floor playing with her alphabet blocks.

I'm thankful for Addie's desire to share everything...even if its food she's already chewed.  It melts my heart to see her want to share with you everything she has.  I can only hope that she will always find more joy in giving than receiving.

I'm SO thankful for such a healthy, happy, and beautiful baby girl....she is the light of my life and I still can't believe how lucky I am to be her momma.


Happy Thursday!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Tiny Prints giveaway....

PhotobucketIf you read my post here about my undying love for Tiny Prints than you already know how much I adore Tiny Prints.  BUT, here's an opportunity for you to love them too!!  Tiny Prints has graciously offered up 50 FREE christmas cards to one of my readers.

Here's what you need to do to enter:

1. Head over to Tiny Prints and check out all of their amazing holiday card designs.
2. Leave me a comment letting me know which one you would choose.

AND, Tiny Prints is also hosting a wonderful event TODAY and TODAY ONLY to have a personalized card mailed to your child from santa!!!  Yep, they are tight with the big man in the red suit and have arranged to have him send a personal card to your precious little one for FREE...which should make everyone happy!!  Head over to their facebook page to get on the "nice list" and sign up for your free card from santa.

I'll be picking a winner Saturday morning so please leave your e-mail address if it's not already tied to your profile so I can get in touch with you if you win!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Uh's a vlog

Ok..I've done first vlog.  Just for fun I started with the accent vlog and I'm not quite sure what to think or whether or not I'll do more of these but here it is.  And warning...its almost 4 minutes long!!

And in case you missed what I are the words:
Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

And the questions I answered:
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you use to change the TV channel?

Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Modest Mondays....

There's been a lot of talk around my house as of late about where we're going and when we'll pull the trigger on our "forever home"...some days I feel like our 1,400 square foot home is closing in around us and with baby #2 talk slowly starting I know its only a matter of time before we need something bigger and I want to be prepared.

All that being said, the hubs and I have historically done very well with cutting costs and getting by on little in a pinch.  When we have goals and budgets you wouldn't recognize us compared to the impulsive and reckless spenders we become without those important things.

The past year has without doubt been one of our more impulsive and reckless years and neither of us are happy...see, money doesn't buy hapiness!!  So, what better to help than getting back to the basics and re-instituting a budget aligned with that ever-important "forever home" goal!!  I'm hoping to pass along some of our money saving tips and struggles but first thought I'd start with some budgeting basics that seem to work best for us!!

And as always, remember free advice is worth the price you pay....I'm certainly no expert in this arena, despite my accounting background, so please keep in mind these opinions are my own:)

1.  Set a reasonable budget - In other words, "don't set yourself up to fail."  Set a realistic budget that allows for unexpected doctor's co-pays, a night out to dinner, increases in gas prices, a new shirt, or maybe just a little Starbucks to make your morning.  Creating a budget that is so tight that you don't have any extra available can leave you with a bitter taste and be reason enough to abandon budgeting altogether.

2.  Get buy-in from all parties involved - I think its safe to say that in most homes, one person is primarily responsible for all of the finance stuff.  So, while that person has the most insight into whats coming in and going out, it doesnt mean that all other interested parties shouldn't have a say and agree to what is going to be spent where.  The hubs and I discuss our monthly budget as well as any extra or unusual things we know that need be included.  We are aware of our "extra" spend that is available and work together to stay within that.  It can lead to those dreaded "do you really need that" conversations but helps hold us both accountable and keep impulse spending in check.

3.  Align your budget with some long and short-term financial goals - It's much easier to do anything if you know there's a prize at the end...even if that prize is paying off credit card debt (for which you really already have the prizes).  We set quarterly, annual, and three-year goals (thanks to the "forever home" conversation) which helps us stay focused on the task at hand.  We found that only having long-term goals resulted in us always saying "we'll catch up with our savings goal next month"...and then we said the same thing the next month - cue the big fat "womp, womp."  We also like our short-term goals because nothing feels better than striking it off the list!  Long-term goals can be a bit harder to set because most of us don't know how much we'll be making or what things will be costing a few years from now but with some conservative estimates you can set some broad goals!

4.  Find a tool that keeps you accountable - We just recently started using Mint (I'm hoping to post more on that later) and its been great at tracking our spending compared to our budget as well as measuring our success in meeting our goals.  Prior to that, we used Excel spreadsheets to track everything and I loved those things...actually still using them as a back-up but they require regular updating and tracking by you...which can be quite a bit more time consuming.

5.  Simplify your life - Figure out what's worthy of being in your budget and what's not.  As of late, the hubs and I have spent some time studying where our money is going and eliminating those that we don't use or no longer find value in...for example, the newspaper.  Most days it sits on our driveway as the hubs and I catch up on the news via the internet.  Seems a little silly to be forking over $14 a month just to take-up space in our recycler!

I'm hoping to make a weekly go of these kinds of posts and share our struggles and cost-cutting measures.  There is nothing easy about the financial part of life...some days I look out back just to make sure I didn't miss a money tree in my backyard (and then remember I live in a money pit so those ideas dont reconcile)!

I'd love for you guys to share your budgeting tips or struggles and if you're at all interested in guest posting here about what does and doesn't work for you when it comes to living modestly, let me know - I'd love to have different perspectives!!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursdays...

I'm linking up this Thursday with one of my very first bloggy friends, Samantha over at "Adventures with Gwen" to share a few of the things I am SO very thankful for...fitting and festive for the holiday season ahead...

This week I'm sharing my thanks for the small and obscure things that happen that brighten my day...

I'm so thankful for my wonderful neighbor that pulls our trash can and recycler from the street back up to our house on trash day...

I'm so thankful for Starbuck's hot's divine...and only $10.49 at Sams for the three box variety pack...

I'm so thankful for my wonderful husband that made me a grilled cheese and tomato soup on a chilly night...

I'm so thankful for "Up all Night's" humor about baby gym classes...

Care to share what you're thankful for this week...head over to Samantha's blog and link-up each Thursday in November...


Wednesday, November 2, 2011


PhotobucketSo thanks to a little inspiration and motivation from Young House Love's Pinterest challenge...I decided to actually try to re-create one of the crafts I had so enthusiastically pinned on Pinterest last week!  While I wont be entering their Pinterest little craft was just a start and doesn't hold a stick to all of the craftiness they and all those that enter have...I did want to share this fun little piece of Crayola wax artwork that I made for Addie's room.

SO, first I started with a few important items:
* Box of 48 Crayola crayons
* 11x14 canvas
* Double sided scotch tape glue gun
* Hairdryer
* Scrap paper for the mess

And here's the play-by-play of how it all went down:

I started by laying out my canvas and attempting to lay down the double sided tape on the canvas to adhere the crayons too.  Except...the tape wouldn't stick to the canvas so I scratched that idea and decided that a hot glue gun should do the trick.  While the glue gun heated up, I laid out all of the crayons and arranged them in the ROY G BIV order and threw out any weird crayon colors as well as the browns, blacks, and whites.  I ordered them up and one by one glued them to the canvas keeping them as straight as possible.
Next, I laid out some scrap paper and propped up the canvas against the wall.  I turned the hair dryer on full power at high heat and held over a section of crayons at a time until they started to melt (maybe 2-3 minutes per section).  Let this be your warning that the crayon wax flies everywhere if you aren't careful.  I also learned quickly that you can control the direction the wax flows by simply shifting the direction and location of your hair dryer.  And then ta-da - I was done.  The wax dries super fast and within minutes I had a fun piece of work worth hanging....well, maybe.

It's been awhile since I've posted much that was crafty, tasty, funny...or maybe even informative for that matter BUT...I think this counts. So, I'm linking up with Amanda's Weekend Bloggy Reading party to showcase my little DIY artwork.
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Have I told you how much I LOVE Tiny Prints...

If I haven't told you lately, I should have.  I've been hooked on Tiny Prints since the day I received my "Save the Date" cards in the mail for my wedding.  I used Tiny Prints' wedding invitation company, Wedding Paper Divas and was awed and impressed with their selection, ease of ordering, and most importantly quality.  So, using them for all of the other important moments in our life was a no-brainer.

Which brings me to the subject of Christmas cards...and y'all it's November, which means Christmas is less than 2 months away and its time to get working on Christmas cards.  I've entrusted Tiny Prints with our Christmas cards for the past 2 years and have been 100% satisfied.  So, onto my fun finds for the current year...we are still working on getting "the family pic," which will likely lead to my choice.





I also highly recommend their matching labels to add another special touch to your coveted holiday greetings.  Last year I ordered labels that actually had a picture in the ornament and was uber impressed with how clearly it came out...despite being small.  I too figured it was a MUCH cheaper route than the customized picture postage stamps.  

We also started a new tradition last year of ordering from Tiny Prints a glossy easel of each years' Christmas Card.  My plan is to display these around the house as a fun memento of Christmas' past.  And with that said..I suppose I should share what our Christmas cards have looked like the past two years...

2009 card and an example of the easel 

2010 card
Happy Christmas card shopping!!

**In the interest of full disclosure - In exchange for this post, Tiny Prints has offered me up some free Christmas cards but that has in NO way influenced my thoughts and opinions expressed above.  I have always been 100% satisfied with the quality of their products!**