A tartan holiday

I love Tartan year-round, but there is something about it at Christmastime that I especially adore.

Ralph Lauren "Ricky" Sunglasses

MAC Viva Glam Tartan Gift Set

Tartan Scarf from Topshop

If these wellies can't cheer you up on a rainy day, nothing can!

Ralph Lauren Tartan Pillow Sham


All he wants for Christmas is...

a box!  So a box he shall have.  I LOVE this age.


They're making their lists...and checking it twice.

We began making Christmas lists tonight to send to Santa.  It was quite an entertaining event.

Grace, who is 6, asked if she could put Lucky Charms (yes, the cereal) on her list.  As I am feeling like the worst mom ever for not letting them have sugar-y cereals, my 8 year old, Kellen informs me that his current list is only a prototype.  He will do the real thing another day.  Oh, okay....

And here is our baby making his list by not letting us turn the page away from the trains page.

Tis the season!


I am so blessed.

I love what I get to wake up to everyday.  So thankful for my wonderful family.  


The art of baking a Birthday Cake

Today is my Darling Husband's Birthday and his favorite cake is Carrot Cake, so naturally I wanted to make him the best darn carrot cake ever.  I searched several recipes and settled on a Cooking Light Sheet Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing.  The only thing standing between that delicious cake and our mouths was the small, tiny little fact that we don't have a food processor and I had no clue how to "shred" carrots.  Then along came google and told me that all I need is a box grater, which is one thing this Domestic Diva (cough, cough) has.

I present Darling Husband's Birthday Cake:

And a few little helpers to blow out the candle:


Weekly Product Review: Baby Oil...for shaving

Yes, this may sound weird, but I read about it in a magazine and feel obligated to pass it on.  I can't remember what magazine it was that told me about this useful little tip, but it is well worth knowing and using.

In a nutshell, you just replace your shaving cream or gel or barsoap with baby oil.  You use it just as you would shave gel, but it eliminates the need for shower gel and even lotion after you shower.  The texture and sensation takes a little getting used to, especially if, like myself, you were used to using shave gel that foamed and created a visual barrier between your razor and your skin.  However, the advantages to this outweighed the initial "weirdness".  This technique is especially beneficial in the winter when my skin is dehydrated and flaky.  I usually still use lotion out of habit after getting out of the shower, but on the days that I have skipped it, my legs still feel nourished and hydrated.  And as an added bonus, it leaves just a little bit of an effortless sheen to your legs, which is great in the summer time with shorts and skirts.

I personally use Burt's Bees Apricot Oil, simply because I am trying to use up the little bit we have left over from when Karson was a baby.  But any Johnson's or generic baby oil would work.


Holiday Gift Giving

I love the steady stream of emails that are already rolling in giving suggestions for the perfect gift for everyone on your list.  I enjoy all of the pretty things that come out just for the holidays and I love anything with glitter or special packaging...yes, I am the sucker that falls for that sales ploy.  To be honest I have a hard time not pushing "submit" for myself as I am shopping for the perfect gifts....

Here are a few pretties that have caught my attention:

How cute is this!!  I couldn't help it, I had to order one for myself.  I have been stalking Starbucks since I missed the boat on the summer stock of their cold cups and the cute candy cane lid is an added bonus!

Now, if I could just figure out the perfect gift for the perfect husband...


Weekly Product Review: Bath and Body Works Leaves Candle

This week I am going to review one of my all-time favorite things about fall: Candles!  I love having the warm welcoming scents throughout my home!  I used to burn candles year round and then I had kids and was always scared they would knock one over or I would forget to blow it out and would wake up at 3 am with the smoke detectors going off, so I kind of gave them up for awhile.  But there is something about fall and winter that almost requires a candle :) 

Bath and Body Works are my favorite candles.  I don't usually shop at BBW as I feel their body items are inferior to others that I favor, but their Slatkin & Co. candles are hard to beat. They provide a nice light scent and spread quite a bit.  They also burn evenly so there is no wasting the bottom 1/4 of the wax because the wick has already burned out. 

My favorite scent is Leaves. I can't begin to describe it, but suffice to say that it does not smell like leaves at all, in my opinion.  A couple of friends who have come to my house tell me that it smells like I have been baking all day and there is definitely a spicy warm note in it.  It basically smells like Fall to me.  So think of all the scents associated with fall: pumpkins, baking, caramel, apples and there you have Leaves candle. 

My only complaint is that they don't have more products in this scent...a hand soap would be fabulous (are you listening BBW???).  But I do like that it is seasonal because I always look forward to seeing it hit shelves in early September!  I stocked up a month or so ago when the 3-wicks were 2/$20 and have already gone through 2 candles.  I think I may be purchasing more before the season is over!


I Believe there are Angels Among Us

     This post is a little different than most-okay or any-of my posts, but it is something that has been on my mind all day, so I thought it appropriate to post.
     Last night, I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful friends for a quick coffee/pastry date.  While we were talking, we got on the topic of how quickly things can happen and life can change in an instant.  Not long after getting home, the kids were finishing dinner and I was starting the dishes.  My husband brought our baby over to wash his hands and didn't realize that the dishwasher was down.  Before he could react, he tripped over the dishwasher, knocking the bottom tray completely out and then tripping over that before going head first into our cabinets, and then landing on top of our baby.  I saw everything and it was bad.  I was ready to call 911 as I thought for sure we were in serious trouble.  Karson immediately started crying and Matt was obviously shaken up.  I picked Karson up, expecting for there to be a lot of blood and not wanting to think about what else.  But miraculously, I saw nothing......nothing!
     Still, as a sit here writing it today, I can hardly believe it.  He cried for less than a minute and walked back over to the dishwasher, pointed to it and said, "Da Da, Whoa Whoa" (Dada Nono).  It took both Matt and I quite awhile to recover, but it was a not-so-gentle reminder of how quickly life can change.  I am so thankful that we have our Karson here with us today and just as ornery as he was yesterday, but I also can't help but think of those parents who aren't as lucky when these freak accidents happen.
     This morning, on our way home from grocery shopping, I had yet another reminder of how precious life is.  There was a story on K-Love about a little boy who was in a terrible car accident with his dad and he literally died for a little while, but against all odds, came back.  You can see his story here.  His parents wrote a book about it that I can't wait to pick it up, especially after seeing that angels really do exist and they were here last night protecting my Karson.


Weekly Product Review: Method Granite Cleaner

I apologize for missing the weekly product review last week; the sickies hit our house via the Birthday Girl, so I spent most of Thursday morning at the doctors and waiting for prescriptions and playing nurse.

This week,  I am breaking out of the mold of my previous beauty product reviews and I am going to review one of my favorite household cleaners.  

I love almost everything I have tried from Method and this one is at the top of my list!  First of all, it smells delicious and that is a huge thing for me.  Smells seem to be a trigger for my migraines, so I can't handle strong, heady smells which a lot of cleaning products have.  This has such a fresh, clean kitchen smell that I find myself using it just because I want my kitchen to smell nice.  I am not good at describing smells, so I won't embarras myself and try to, but trust me, it smells divine!

Now on to what it does....Darling Husband and I were set on granite counter tops when we built our home.  Of the billions of decisions we had to make, that one was a no-brainer.  However, I wasn't aware of the strenuous cleaning process that one has to go to to get sparkling granite countertops.  Basically it is a 3-step process if you want them to be perfect.  However, for day-to-day when they don't have to be perfect, this cleaner makes them look close to perfect for a short period without the three steps.  So a few sprays and go over it with a Microfiber cloth and you are set!

I am also loving Method's All-Purpose Cleaner in Pink Grapefruit.  I have used this to clean numerous Surfaces (including our stainless steel appliances) and it does a great job!  It doesn't get our granite as clean as the Granite Cleaner, but if you don't have granite countertops, it may be a great purchase! 

I have found that Target has the biggest selection of Method Products--though I have seen a smaller section at drugstores and grocery stores.   


I forgot about you: Hello Terrible Twos...

How could I have forgotten about the oh-so-wonderful time in a child's life appropriately called the "Terrible Twos".  Not too unexpectedly, my 20-month-old has decided that he is ready for this stage of life, much to mommy's dismay.  I forgot how exhausting this stage is...

Here is how we spent today...

Karson decided he needed a little sugar...on the end table???  Quite proud of himself, isn't he...

Then we decided we needed a bit more sugar and helped ourselves to Big Sissy's HOT PINK Birthday cake.  I think he knew he was in trouble at this point. 

But it's kind of hard to stay mad when he gives me these smiles. 


Holiday Tea Yumminess!

I love having a warm cup of tea in the afternoon or before I go to bed and I am always looking for a new delicious tea.  A couple of weeks ago I had a craving for pumpkin tea but I couldn't find it in any of my local stores, though I know it exists.  Yesterday, I was doing my grocery shopping for Gracie's Birthday Party and I happened across these delicious looking flavors:

They also had a place on the shelf for these flavors, but either they were out of stock of hadn't arrived yet.  I am anxious to try them as well!!

Do you have a favorite winter tea?  


Happy Halloween

Darling Husband and I look forward to Halloween all year because we get to eat all the candy that our littles forget about by November 2nd!

Here are my spooky creatures at their school Halloween Party, which was a very important day in my "Mommy Book"...I actually got to attend and help with their parties this year!!

We have a Candy Corn Fairy on the left and Harry Potter on the right.  
Karson is in the middle keeping everything under control :)

I hope everyone has a happy (and safe) day!  


How the times have changed...

Call me old-fashioned, but I still appreciate the days of books where you actually had to turn the pages. 

But who needs those, when we can read books on daddy's iPhone?  


It's the little things...

that make life such a blessing.  My little princess (aka: my Gracie Belle) turns 6 years old today!  To celebrate her birthday and my mom's October birthday earlier in the month, we had a girl's day out and went for pedicures.  Gracie loved every second of our Girl's Day.   And of course, being the birthday girl, got a mani and a pedi :)

Happy Birthday Gracie!  Thank you for blessing our lives for the past 6 years. 


Quality not Quantity

So I have come to the time in my life where less is more.  I am a stay-at-home mom, so I no longer need an extensive wardrobe of dress pants and cardigans, yet I still like to look nice.  After cleaning out Darling Husband and I's closet this summer and then beginning the daunting task of selling the kids' outgrown clothes on ebay..I came to the realization that we have too. much. crap. 

With that, I decided that I will begin buying a few classic pieces each season, knowing that may cost more, but will also hold up much better for longer.  I am really going to try to stop buying too much at places like Forever 21 as they don't seem to last much longer than a season in most cases.  Not only will I wear my clothes more often because I will have less, but I won't have to return nearly as much.  Those of you that know me know how I love to shop online but end up returning half of what I buy due to it fitting wrong or looking different, blah, blah, blah...  Well, I am happy to let you know that those times are no more.  I will still continue to browse online (duh!), but will actually wait until I can try on and purchase items in-store. 

Without further ado, these are the few pieces that I hope to add to my wardrobe this fall/winter:

A few cozy sweaters in fall colors:

Ann Taylor Loft

Ann Taylor Loft

So, what is on your fall wishlist?


Weekly Product Review: Sonia Kashuk Blending Sponge

I know I just did another Sonia Kashuk review last week, but I can't not tell you guys about this cool little sponge thingy.  It is called the blending sponge and is made by Sonia Kashuk, which to my knowledge can only be purchased at Target.  Let me just tell you that you. need. this!

It is a knockoff of a more expensive sponge called the Beauty Blender.  I have not tried the actual Beauty Blender but I see no need to as this works perfectly for me. 

Now many of you are probably asking, 'What is wrong with using my finger or my makeup sponge that comes in a pack of 8 for like $1'?  Well, nothing is wrong with that as that is what I have done as well.  I have 2-3 foundation brushes that I bought because of the hype and yeah, they are fine, but I always just go back to using my fingers to apply foundation.  Well, friends, I think that time of my life is done.  This magnificent little beauty tool is my new best friend. 

So, this is what you do: You put the little "thingy" under running water and then squeeze it out a bit so it is damp.  Then you put a pump of foundation (I use NARS Sheer Glow) on your sponge and dab it around your face.  There is no rubbing, no tugging, no fierce blending that makes your face look like you just spent hours on the beach.  You just lightly dab around your face and this beautiful little tool does the blending work for you.  You are left with a soft, natural look instead of a caked on "my face doesn't match my neck" look.   You may be wondering, like I was, why it has such an odd shape.  Well, let me just tell you...the small end is for concealer!  I LOVE a 2-in-1 beauty tool!  So once your foundation is on and perfect, you turn it around and repeat the steps to put your concealer on.  And again, you are left with a soft natural finish!

This is one of my favorite new things in my makeup regime and I am sad to admit that I have looked at this thing at least a hundred times at Target and passed right on by thinking to myself "I feel sorry for the sucker that spends $10 on a sponge thingy when they can go two aisles down and buy a pack of 8 for $1".  Don't I feel like a fool.  So anyway, I have eaten my words and I am loving this!  


Weekly Product Review: Sonia Kashuk Remove Eye-makeup Remover

I think I have literally tried every makeup remover out there.  I used to be faithful to Pond's Bare and Repair--it was gentle and had "good-for-your-skin" ingredients...I loved it.  And then they discontinued it.  Since then I have been on a search to find something as good as it was and I have tried high end (Lancome), mid-end (MAC) and drugstore (Neutrogena) and while some were good, none of them were good enough to repurchase. 

But then I found Sonia Kashuk's Remove!  I really, really like this stuff!  It comes in a 4 oz. container and it is one that you have to shake to mix the oil and water.  It feels like nothing going on and it doesn't sting!  Let me repeat, IT DOESN'T STING!!!   That right there is enough to make me repurchase if it takes off any makeup at all.  I wear contacts, so I have to have something gentle and this is definitely gentle...but somehow they figured out how to take makeup off at the same time!  It takes all of my eye makeup off very easily  Retails for $10. 

So friends, this might be a repurchase in my future!  For now this is what I am loving and the pretty purple color is a little bonus!  Plus, it's easy to get as I am at Target 2-3 times a week...shhh. 

I hope this helps you if you are looking for a good makeup remover!


Dinner in a Pumpkin

I love pumpkins...I make something with pumpkin in it once a week during fall so I am always looking for new recipes that include pumpkin.

I found this recipe this summer on one of the blogs that I follow and I could not wait for fall to arrive to try it!  As soon as pumpkins hit the stores and the weather cooled off enough, I tried it!  It was a hit with Darling Husband and I, but the kiddos weren't as keen, so I plan to make a few small changes to make it more enticing to them next time.  It is definitely a hearty recipe and I will probably wait until it is downright cold outside to make it again.

A couple of recommendations:
If When I try it again, I will probably do individual sugar pumpkins and make them each a little different.  For example, I love mushrooms and Hubby does not, so I will probably add mushrooms to mine and I want to try the water chestnuts idea as well. 
I will only make 2 cups of rice to add.  Four cups was way too much and I found that it was mostly rice, whereas I would have liked more meat. 

Overall, it was a very easy recipe--the hardest part was cleaning out the pumpkin :)  I can't wait to try more from the same blog---some of them looked DELICIOUS!

Here are a few pics of how mine turned out:

Getting ready to go in the oven

 My boys waiting for it to get done.

Happy Cooking!


Maybelline Falsies Mascara Review

This week I will be reviewing my current favorite mascara.  I admit, I tried it purely because the tube was pretty.  Purple is my favorite color and I like the pretty blue writing.  As you will soon find out about me, I am a sucker for packaging.  Well, lucky for me, this time the product lived up to the pretty package :)

I picked it up in Blackest Black at Target for about $6.  I don't like to spend a lot on mascara because it has to be replaced so often, so most of my mascaras come from the drugstore.  The first time I used it, I didn't love it, but this was due to user error more than the product itself.  I quickly found out that you have to use a light hand when applying, because it can look too thick and clunky if you don't.  This may be a positive aspect to some, but for my everyday "mommy" errands, I like to look a bit more natural.  When applied with a light hand, it separates and lengthens lashes beautifully and even adds some natural volume.  I usually use two light coats and the result is perfectly polished "stand-out" lashes.  For a night out, I think I could definitely use a heavier application to get the "Falsies" look, but I would be a little more careful to actually keep the mascara on my lashes and not my eyelids. 

Overall, this product is a win and unless I hear about a new mascara that guarantees something that I have to have, I will be repurchasing.   For now, it is a staple in my everyday makeup routine. 


Weekly Product Review: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

This is a new product from one of my favorite makeup companies: MAC.  I have always loved MAC for their eyeshadows, which have amazing staying power and an unending color selection.  However, I have never been wowed by their foundations and concealers.  I have tried them and they were alright, but not something that I repurchased. However, I have been on a hunt for the perfect concealer for my undereye darkness.  My circles have nothing to do with how much sleep I get or don't get as they are there regardless.  I guess I am just genetically lucky...

I have tried numerous concealers, from high end to drugstore, that have promised the world but I have yet to find one that actually delivers.  I received an email that MAC was coming out with a new line of foundations, concealers and lipsticks called Pro Longwear.  I was intrigued by it and began doing some research about the products, mainly the concealers.  I read many great reviews about it from lucky ladies who were able to get the products before they were released.  As soon as I could, I made it to the MAC store to try it.  I was matched to shade NW20 (the same as what I usually wear in MAC) and was very happy with what I saw when I looked in the mirror.  I decided to purchase it, but my hopes weren't set very high as many times, I get home and it looks totally different.  I have now been using this for about a week and I am pretty happy with it.  Of all the concealers that I have tried, I think this covers the best.  I also appreciate that it doesn't oxidize, crease, or get cakey over the course of the day.  These features alone make it better than the others I have tried.  It also comes with a built-in pump, which I like, once I learned that I don't need to push it all the way down to get the amount of product that I need.

One thing that I don't love about this new product is that it comes in a glass bottle.  With an 18-month old on the loose around my house, nothing is safe and for some reason my makeup is one of his favorite places to play.   

It will take quite awhile to use up this whole container, and it's a good thing because it cost $17.50 for .3 oz. but if it keeps me looking fresh, I will be repurchasing when I run out.


First Product Review--Kirkland Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner

This is going to be the first post in a weekly segment that I am going to start doing.  Each week I will review a new "product".  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am kind of a product junkie.  I will be first in line to try something that guarantees anything.  This isn't just beauty products, but also kitchen products, cleaning, etc.  So I figured I might as well put it to good use and let other people know about the things that I have tried. 

Without further ado, I picked up this shampoo and conditioner after a rave review from a member on a fashion board that I belong to (fashionism.org).  It is supposed to be a dupe for Pureology Nanoworks, which is a bit over my budget, so I have never tried to compare.  When I first picked it up at Costco, I was a bit skeptical as my hair is very fine, so I was concerned that the moisturizing ingredients may weigh it down.  I figured if it didn't work for me, I would just use it on Grace's hair as it is not nearly as picky.  I couldn't wait to get home a try it and I have to say that it is as amazing as the reviews!  I instantly felt a difference in my hair, just in combing through it after my shower.  I usually have to use some sort of detangling spray because I have naturally wavy/tangly hair.  Well this time, the comb glided right through my locks and I knew instantly that this was something great.  I didn't use any styling products because I wanted to see what it was like on my bare locks.  It was so soft and frizz-free and actually laid quite nicely.  I didn't even have to use my flat iron!  It is also sulfate-free which is a bonus for my already damaged/color-treated hair.  The best part though, is that the shampoo and conditioner LITERS!! cost me $16 total.  So not only is this stuff amazing for your hair, but it doesn't hurt your pocketbook either!  

I will be repurchasing another set of the shampoo and conditioner just in case Costco decides to discontinue it (as has occurred many times with many things I grew to love).  You do have to have a Costco membership, and honestly after using this stuff, it might just be reason enough to keep our membership, though I think the organic eggs and hormone-free milk that we buy there is reason enough. 

In short, these new products are amazing and if you are like me and like to try new things that promise great results, you must run out and buy this immediately!


Falling for Fall

Today, well tonight at 10:06 PM actually, is the first day of my favorite season!  

I anticipate fall all year long and it never lasts long enough when it finally arrives.  So I start my own "fall" a little earlier every year.  I love everything about the season: pumpkins, candles, leaves, the colors, Halloween, Thanksgiving, baking, I could go on forever...

Fall baking- already in full-swing this year at our house

My first apple pie of the season!

Fall Candles

Picking out pumpkins, which we did last night:

And last but never least, the weather!  Fall weather is perfect for chunky sweaters and new boots!