Staying Stylish in Suburbia

Foodie Friday - Apple Dumplings

Friday, November 22, 2013

I love dumplings! Even the word dumpling sounds delicious to me. Go ahead. I dare you to say dumpling without feeling all warm and cozy. You know what else I love though? Biscuits! There is nothing like a warm buttery biscuit to make my mouth water. So when I saw this super easy recipe that combines two of my favs I had to give it a try. Lets just say I'm really, really happy I did!


1-2 Apples
1 lemon (optional)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 biscuits (canned or made from scratch)
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg

How it's done

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Slice apples vertically into 8 slices each
Squeeze lemon into a bowl and toss apples in it (optional.)

In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup water, 3/4 cup of the sugar, butter and the vanilla. Bring sugar to boil over medium heat.

Separate each biscuit into two layers. Wrap biscuit layer around apple slice, stretching to ensure that it overlaps enough to seal the apple inside. You can go around it with a fork if you like. 
Place slices in casserole dish. Pour hot sugar mix over biscuits. Mix the rest of the sugar with the cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle over the top. Bake until golden brown. Aprox 35 minutes. 

Serve alone or with vanilla ice-cream. 

Fresh out of the oven

 A dumpling eating a dumpling

Bon appetite everyone!  Have a happy weekend! xoxo

Tips for the Road-tripping Family

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On the road again...

This coming Saturday we are hitting the road to make the 8 hour drive back home to where my husband and I both grew up. Our three year old has done the trip with us before but it will be the first time that our almost four month old will be along for the ride. It's times like these, heading home for the holidays with two little ones in the back seat, that I simultaneously feel the most blessed and at the same time the most like...who am I? How am I this grown up person with a family of my own? It's both amazing and kind of surreal. It's also be a bit daunting to set off down the road with what can feel like two ticking time bombs. When will the toddler decide to have a tantrum? When will the baby start crying because she needs to be changed?

Like I said we've done this trip a time or two before and I've found that having the right gear along can lesson anxiety and chances for major mishaps. If you were to ask my husband he'd probably tell you that I tend to over-pack. The more options the better I always say. On the other hand while road-tripping with the kids there are a few essentials that we definitely agree we cannot do without. I thought I'd share them on the blog today. Keep in mind these are young family specific, although, many of the items would be useful on any kind of road trip.

The essentials

Family Road Trip Essentials

Most of this is self explanatory but...


You've Just got to have it. Hopefully you've put some thought into it and made a travel playlist but I don't care if your using a boom box from the 1980's or singing your heart out to the pop country station on the FM radio. A road trip is nothing without a soundtrack to go along with it. Also, if you have little kids you might want to brush up on your sing along repertoire.


Unless you want to wind up eating a whole lot of gas station junk food I'd suggest you pack some healthy snacks and bring your water bottles (sippy cups) along too. An abundance of bathroom breaks in inevitable with small kids so you may as well stay hydrated. 


There's nothing worse than driving into the sun and realizing you forgot your sunglasses at home.


I can't read in the car because it makes me sick but our Kindle has been a saving grace when it comes to traveling with our toddler. She can watch movies on it or play games. Hours of educational entertainment at her finger tips. 

Map App

I really don't know how I lived without a navigator for so long. Stay on track and avoid fighting about directions. If you don't have one on your phone make the investment. I'm telling you it's so worth it. 

Travel Pillow

Whoever isn't in the drivers seat will inevitably start to nod off at some point in the trip. Don't arrive at your destination with a crick in your neck. Plan ahead and pack a pillow.


Clearly I'm all about documenting my family and snapping pics but seriously one day your going to look back on these little holiday road trips and be so grateful for the photos. 

Diaper bag

See the image below for further details on this one.

Diaper bag

  1. Hand sanitizer because gas station germs are gross.
  2. Burp cloths for spit up but also any other kind of spill.
  3. Diapers and lots of them!
  4. Nursing cover. Unless you are bottle feeding or prepared to whip out your boobs in front of everyone in which case more power to ya!
  5. Change of clothes for the kiddos in case of accidents. 
  6. Diaper cream (self explanatory) 
  7. Wipes because they are handy in so many situations.
  8. Bib because it's nice to avoid having all your toddlers clothes completely covered in stains
SIDE NOTE: I usually combine my diaper bag and purse. Less bags means less to keep up with. It also means that my wallet, keys, iPhone, and chap stick are added to the mix. You also might want to consider bringing along a changing pad. I don't bother with one because they take up so much space but they can be useful at times. Plastic Ziploc bags are also super useful for dirty diapers.

A few more tip when traveling with little companions:

  • TIMING: Although as adults we tend to want to drive straight through, only stopping for quick bathroom breaks. When you have littles with you it's important to give them time to get out of the car and really burn off some energy. So when I say that we have an 8 hour trip ahead of us that is factoring in up to two extra hours for stops. My mother-in law can do the same trip in 6 hours but we will stop for lunch and have at least a couple run-around and stretch breaks as well. 

  • BATHROOM: If you have a kid or multiple kids in diapers, I suggest doing diaper changes at fast-food restaurants rather than gas stations. They almost always have changing tables where as gas stations are hit or miss. If they are potty training you might want to consider bringing along a portable potty. 

  • PLAY: If they are old enough give the kiddos a few things to play with. Stickers are great! You can also go to the dollar store and buy a couple new cheap trinkets. The newness will keep them interested at least for a while. 

  • SLEEP: Let them sleep! Try to take advantage of nap time on the road by not stopping if you can help it. Also keep in mind that while on vacation it's super important to keep things familiar for your kids when it comes to bedtime. If they have a special stuffed animal or blanket then bring it along. If they fall asleep to a sound machine or particular song or you always read them the same goodnight book then bring that along too. It will help them feel more secure in a new setting.

And there ya have it folks! I hope this has been a helpful post. I'd love to hear any of your tried and true travel tips as well. What have you found helpful when traveling with kids? Happy trails everyone and stay safe out there. xoxo

P.S. If you like what you've read here be sure to "like" my Facebook page to keep up with all my future posts.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

There are certain things in life that we have to do even though we dread them. Whatever it is, a trip to the dentist, a visit from family or a public speaking engagement. These things can provoke anything from mild apprehension to full on panic. I was talking to one of my best friends about this the other day. I was feeling anxious about an event I had coming up and was wondering how I might calm my fears. She asked if I knew about the permasmile trick. Apparently when she and her husband have something that they have to do that they are less than psyched about, they gear themselves up by practicing their best and brightest "permasmiles."

At first I thought she meant that they went around the event with big fake grins plastered on their faces. Creepy! But it's actually on the car ride over that they make it a point to grin ear to ear. According to her, the act of smiling alone can trick your brain into feeling good, allowing the dread to dissolve so that you actually have a better time at whatever event you have to attend.

I looked into this and apparently it's a real thing called facial feedback hypothesis. The idea being that our facial expressions have an effect on our emotions. So just as a good experience can make you smile, sometimes it's the smile that makes the experience good.

I tried it out and it really did seem to help. Of course what really helps the most is picturing this smile. Wherever I am and whatever I'm doing. This is my real happy place!

What do you think about the idea behind the permasmile? I have to say I'm pretty sold on it now.  Give it a try the next time your have to do something that you dread. Try it out with a friend or your partner. If nothing else their goofy grin is bound to make you giggle.

Image source

Wish list

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My oldest daughter was born in December. Yep. That means she's one of those kids who, instead of having it spread out throughout the year, gets a whole bunch of loot all around the same time. My husband and I have always been conscious about what she plays with, meaning that we try to veer away from loading her down with a bunch of junk just for the sake of giving her stuff. Instead I pay close attention to what she really likes and what holds her interest. For her birthday and Christmas presents this year I have compiled a list . It is both for my husband and I to reference and (as requested by them) for her grandparents to look over. I decided to share it on the blog today because who knows, maybe some of you have a toddler in your life that might also like a few of these goodies.

Looking over this list it strikes me what a broad range of interests these items represent. If what she loves at three years old is any indication of who she will become then I think I have a pretty well rounded kid on my hands. At this point she could become a doctor or architect who plays in a band, dabbles in photography, loves cooking for dinner parties and goes fly fishing on the weekends. Sounds like a good life to me!

If you like what you see here don't forget to "like" my Facebook page to keep updated on my future posts. Thanks for stopping by! xoxo

Wish list ELC Sing Along Star Microphone, Pink: Toys & Games

The Sing Along Star Microphone makes singing fantastic fun. Your child can hear their voice amplified, enjoy backing music and also see cool lights flash as they sing to their heart's content. At the end of the show, the pink Sing Along Star Microphone adds clapping and cheering. Your child can use the microphone's extending stand to sing along while playing an instrument with their hands, or making extravagant hand actions. They can also take the Sing Along Star Microphone off the stand to dance while they sing.
KidKraft Vintage Kitchen in Blue
Bon App├ętit! Our Vintage Kitchen in Blue lets kids pretend they are cooking big feasts for the whole family. Features include doors that open and close and oven knobs that click and turn.

Let's Go Fishing Game- Magnetic Fishing Playset with 10 Fish, 1 Shark...
Bring home the fun of fishing with Janod's Let's Go Fishing game. Designed in France, this great set consists of 11 different colored wooden fish and 2 wooden fishing rods with magnets at the end. The fish can be caught by getting the magnetic fishing rod close enough to the fish's mouth.

Playskool Showcam 2-in-1 Digital Camera and Projector
Give your kids a way to add fun animations, stories and sounds to the pictures they take with the Showcam Digital Camera and Projector! With more than 50 silly effects to choose from, this 2-in-1 camera and projector lets them snap pics and customize them! With the flip of a switch they can project their pictures too. The buttons, controls and grips are all kid-sized for easy use, and the editing functions are built in so they don't need software. It's easy to save, print and email pictures if you have a USB cable! Get your little ones creating digitally with the Showcam Digital Camera and Projector! 

Maxim Designed by You Dollhouse with Furniture
Why change just the design of your room when you can change the design of your entire house? This fun new spin on the traditional doll house allows you to reconfigure the structure of the doll house by simply moving one room at a time. All sections rest in place by a set of built in grooves, making all of your configurations stable. The house also comes fully furnished with over 30 accesories, including two poseable figures.Made of sturdy hardwood, paint is non-toxic and kid safe. 

Melissa & Doug Doctor Costume Deluxe Role Play Set with Medical Play...
The doctor will see you now. With this set your little doctor will be fully equipped with a lab coat and facemask , a stethoscope with sound effects, a reflex hammer, an ear scope, a syringe, and a name tag for personalizing. 

DIY gold gilded leaf garland

Monday, November 18, 2013

One of my favorite things about having a mantel are the little touches you can add or subtract from season to season. This autumn I went for simple leaf garland, adding a bit of bling with gold and white painted designs. Here is the result...

Materials Needed

All you need for this simple project is the following
  • A variety of fallen autumn leaves (I collected mine in the back yard)
  • Gold metallic spray-paint 
  • White acrylic paint (optional)
  • White acrylic paint pen (I used Craft smart from Michael's)
  • Twine
  • Hot glue gun

How it's done

  • Collect a variety of fallen leaves. 
  • Measure the length of the mantle you are hanging them from and cut a piece of twine to fit it.
  •  Next figure out the order you want the leaves to go in. You can do this by laying them out on the ground in even spaces along the twine. 
  • Then take the twine away and put the leaves on a tarp or some sort of plastic or paper ground cover to spray them with the gold spray paint. (For the white leaf I painted it with the acrylic white paint (2 coats) and then spray painted the tip gold.)
  •  Next, let them dry. (It only takes a few minutes.) 
  • Then add whatever design you want to by drawing over the gold with the white acrylic paint pen. Just make sure you don't press too hard or you'll break the leaf. 
  • Finally you'll want to add a dot of glue on the back of each leaf, gently attaching it to the twine in the decided order.

The final garland

So what do you think? Is this something you might try? Of course if you don't like the gold and white you could always go for a different color scheme. If you like what you see here don't forget to "like" my Facebook page to keep updated on my future posts. Thanks for stopping by! xoxo

The My Oh My Pumpkin Pie Shandy

Friday, November 15, 2013

I'm usually a wine drinker but there's something about autumn that makes me crave a good beer. One of my favorites lately is Blue Moon's seasonal brew, Harvest Pumpkin Ale. I love it on its own but it's also delicious in a cocktail that I'm calling the, My Oh My Pumpkin Pie Shandy! 

All you need to mix the drink is Pinnacle whipped vodka (or vanilla vodka), pumpkin beer of any kind along with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to rim the glass. Here's how it's done... Happy sipping everyone! xoxo





More Seasonal Beers to try

Autumn Brews

1 Sierra Nevada Tumbler
2- Breckenridge Autumn Ale
3- Maple Pecan Ale
4- Blue Moon Pumpkin Harvest
5- Imperial Pumpkin Ale

An ode to the kitchen table

Thursday, November 14, 2013

In our family we make it a point to come together at the table for dinner at the end of each day. It is one of my favorite times, a chance to slow down and reconnect. Some of my best memories are at the table, bustling around the kitchen, chopping vegetables and chatting with family and friends. Of course I can also remember arguing and crying around it too. Which only goes to show how all encompassing a simple table can be. It is at the heart of the home, a safe and central place to experience so many aspects of life. Now a days Esmae is becoming more involved in our dinner conversations. She picks up on certain words and tries to expand on them in her serious toddler talk. It's pretty much the cutest thing ever.
Chalkboard Art - Kitchen Chalkboard Art - Dining Room Art - Kitchen Print - 11x14 Print - Hand Lettering
With Thanksgiving coming up, a holiday centered around the table, I thought it would be nice to do a post in honor of that particular space. And what better way to do so than with poem that speaks to the table in all its complexities. Joy Harjo's, Perhaps the World Ends Here, can be found (along with many other wonderful poems) in a collection of poetry all about food called, The Hungry Ear. The editor of the book, Kevin Young states that much like the best foods, the best poetry is also made from scratch. I couldn't agree more. I hope you all enjoy your time around the table this year and into the next. I leave you with this poem! xoxo

Perhaps the world ends here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Muted with just a bit of bright

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This week it got really cold all of a sudden. The trees became more bare and the autumn blue sky turned a gloomy gray. Winter is nigh! As the weather turns bleak it can be easy to want to match your clothes to the muted tones around you. It makes sense. In the bright summertime we dress with more color and tend to tone it down again in the cooler months. But just because it's blah outside doesn't mean we can't perk things up with a few bright accessories. In this case a neon scarf and fuchsia lipstick did just the trick.


A similar look

Muted with Neon

Sweater pullover


Lightweight Scarf | Banana Republic