Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What's Up Wednesday V3

Happy Wednesday friends! It's time for What's Up Wednesday where I provide answers to particular prompts that range from what we are eating to what I'm reading to our weekend plans. I love this take on a currently style post. So what's been going on in Casa de Cox this month.


What we are eating this week...
Last Friday I made a huge batch of corn chowder and we had it for 3 straight days. It's so good that you don't even mind that you are having the same thing for dinner the entire weekend. The ease of the dish is right up my alley and I like that there are plenty of leftovers for additional meals. I made breakfast for dinner on Monday and last night we had BBQ chicken sandwiches. I see a lot of crock pot meals in my future.



What I'm reminiscing about...
About how fast this year has gone and all the fun our family has in store for it in 2017. We have 3 different trips planned and milestones to meet and well, life in 2017 is looking to be pretty fantastic. One of the biggest highlights we will get to encounter is that this time next year we will no longer have car payments. Both of our cars will be paid off, in full, by the end of November 2017. Oh and I can't forget to mention we will have big birthdays in 2017 - 40, 35 and 5! 



What I'm loving...
My Christmas decorations. I love the glow of a Christmas tree in a dim room. I ended up decorating our home November 12th which is early, even for me! But having all the work behind me and being able to see our home decked for the holidays is simply the best. I know understand why some people leave their trees up all year long. It's just so cozy and welcoming! 



What we've been up to...
All things Christmas. We've decked the halls, I've done a bit of shopping and this week I started on the wrapping. Am I the only one who dislikes wrapping? I just wish presents could come wrapped without a charge for the service. I am trying to wrap as I get gifts so I'm not spending an entire day wrapping presents. To motivate me I bought cute bows and for the first time in ages string for curling ribbon. 



What I'm dreading...
The cold and snow that's surely coming our way. While I prefer cooler weather to hot, the idea of getting out and about with Connor in such yucky weather is less than desirable. It doesn't bother me to drive in snow but I don't like the mess it makes and brings with it when we come and go. It's safe to say I'll be looking forward to March 20 -- the first day of Spring! Although this little guy can't wait to build a snowman. 



What I'm working on...
I am attempting to get my life in order. Between the back to back busy months and not feeling like myself thanks to my bum leg, I haven't been on my A-game at home. I finally feel like I've got my mojo back and have been tackling projects and doing housework on a more regular basis. Laundry really suffered and I finally finished that this week and it feels so good to have one less thing on my to do list.



What I'm excited about... 
Hosting Christmas Eve at our home this year. Due to some scheduling hiccups we are having Christmas with my parents, brothers and niece and nephew at my house on the 24th. This will be the first year I've hosted and I'm totally geeked to be doing so. Mostly because a) we don't have to travel and b) I got a new tree that I'm obsessed with. 



What I'm watching/reading...
I am struggling with reading lately but I am slowly moving through "The Trouble with the Truth". I picked it because it's a shorter read (204 pages) but I am only a quarter of the way through. At this rate, I'm never going to get to my 25 books in 2016 goal. Connor and I have been reading together "The Briefcase of Juris P. Prudence". This is the first chapter book we've tackled. We usually read 5-7 pages a night. Connor is doing really well with remember what we read the day before. The book shares the story of an 11 year old lawyer who has her own law firm and works to make laws fair for children. It's a fun story with a lot of life lessons mixed in. 



What I'm listening to...
JJ Heller's "Unto Us" album. I love the mix of traditional Christmas songs with one that JJ wrote herself. It's not your typical Christmas album but has quickly become a favorite of mine. 



What I'm wearing...
Lots of layers. I am not a fan of coats. I just feel really restricted in them and don't like driving while wearing one so I've been bundling up. Sweaters, jackets and scarves have made their way out of the back of my closet finally, although yesterday it was in the mid 60's. I just ordered some new pieces from Old Navy and I'm eager to add them to the rotation. Also? I would rock this sweater like it's my JOB!


What I'm doing this weekend...
On Saturday we have date night with 3 other couples at a local vineyard and then Sunday we are going to see The Polar Express at a theater in my hometown with friends. My Mom is always in town and we are going to celebrate her birthday.  



What I'm looking forward to next month...
Christmas... of course! The holidays usually bring with it a hustle and bustle but for us, we will have a break from school, MOPS and swimming so we will get to spend a bit more time at home. While we enjoy all those responsibilities, it's nice when you are always one the go. Although this two will miss each other over the holiday break. 



What else is new...
Not a whole lot. With the holiday approaching I've been trying to stay ahead of the game. Our weekends are full of family fun and we are trying to fit in time with friends that aren't nearby. Life is busy and I often wonder how families with more than one child does it all. I feel like I would be a walking hot mess if I had another human being to factor in. Heck, if I'm being honest, I'm a hot mess now and it's just the 3 of us. 




Happy Hump Day, friends! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Holiday Traditions | Christmas Movie Bucket List

With December right around the corner, I thought today would be the perfect time to share with you a list of must watch Christmas movies. As a family we have movie night weekly but during the holidays we try to watch a few more of the classics plus a handful of kid friendly ones that get Connor in the Christmas spirit. Nothing says cozy like a night in with the family, watching a holiday movie while your tree lights up the room. Here are 20 family friendly (and Connor approved) movies plus a chance to snag a movie night bundle for your family this holiday! 







Thanks to my love of family movie nights and Christmas I have a fabulous giveaway for you this morning! I want to treat one lucky family to a movie night on us. I've picked 2 movies from the list above, added in some popcorn and candy and have the perfect movie night in package ready to be mailed out. Enter for your chance to win by following the Rafflecopter below. Winner will be picked Friday!





Monday, November 28, 2016

November's Must Make Dishes: Baking with Brown Sugar

'Tis the season for holiday gatherings and time spent around the dining room table. The holidays can be stressful, especially when hosting and in charge of the menu but making food for the masses doesn't have to be. Today I want to share with you 2 new to us recipes. Both are made with basic ingredients but give you tasty dishes to share with family and friends. First up is a Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Smokies appetizer followed by a Pineapple Upside Down Sheet Cake.


James loves this dish. Not only does it make a great appetizer but we've also had it for dinner with a couple of sides. My favorite part of the recipe is that thanks to the sugar you get a sweet glaze. It's so tasty and gives you a bit of sweet with your dinner. This dish is super simple and is ready in less than an hour. The bulk of that time the smokies are baking. Here is the ingredients and directions. 

Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Smokies

Ingredients
1 pound of bacon
1 pack of little smokies
1 cup of brown sugar


Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bacon in half, cutting the entire slab at once. Wrap one piece of bacon around one sausage, securing the wrap with a toothpick. Repeat the process until you've used all the bacon strips. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of each smokie. Bake for 40-45 minutes on a baking sheet. Serve immediately or keep warm in a crock-pot. 



Next I want to share with you my Dad's favorite cake, Pineapple Upside Down Cake. When I asked him what he wanted me to bring to Thanksgiving this was on the top of his list. I've never made this cake before but after some help from Google I was able to put together my first attempt fairly simple. James even said it was a perfect first attempt. 


Pineapple Upside Down Sheet Cake

Ingredients
1/4 cup of melted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 can (20 oz) pineapple slices in juice, drained, juices reserved
1 jar (6 oz) maraschino cherries without stems, drained
1 box of yellow cake mix (plus eggs and oil called for on cake box)


Directions
Heat oven to 325 degrees for a 13x9 inch non-stick pan. Add melted butter to button of pan, coating it completely. Top with brown sugar, covering the melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices on brown sugar. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice and arrange remaining cherries around slices. When mixing the cake batter use 1 cup of pineapple juice in place of the 1 cup of water called for on box instructions. Mix completely and pour batter over pineapple and cherries. Back for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately run knife around side of pan to loosen cake. Place heatproof serving plate or dish (I used a second baking pan), turning plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake for 5 minutes so brown sugar can drizzle over cake. Cool for 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold, storing covered in the fridge. 



It wasn't till I put together this post that I realized I had 2 recipes with one common ingredient: brown sugar. It's safe to say I'm drawn to sweeter dishes. I've been trying new recipes and have loved the tasty results. Give this a try and I promise you will love them as much as we do. 

Be sure to visit Whitney, Katie and Whitney to see what meals they made this month for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These girls always provide me with some fresh ideas for mealtime with my family.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday Favorites: Turkey, Bling and Gilmore Girls

Happy Friday, friends! It just occured to me that this is the last Friday of November. This month has flown by. I just hope December moves at a bit of a slower pace. I'm not ready for a new year just yet! With so much going on, I wanted to hope on today and share a Friday Favorite post. I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving. We dined out for the first time ever and I have to admit, no cooking and no clean-up was kind of nice. Here is the highlights of our week with a bit of random mixed in. 


{ONE}


I'm pretty sure everyone in America woke up to more leftover turkey then they know what to do with. My Mom sent me home with a ton last weekend so on Wednesday, I put it to use in a tasty casserole for us to have for dinner. There are so many ways to use leftover turkey but I promise you this is one of the best. It earns bonus points for using leftover gravy, too. Here is the full recipe to get those leftovers put to use this holiday! In addition to this recipe, I plan to make this Turkey Stuffing Bake, too. 

{TWO}


Speaking of Thanksgiving food and leftovers I've been having some stomach issues lately. I'm not sure it's because of the bigger than usual meals we've been having or the sweets we can't so no to but I've needed the help of a probiotic. I know, I know! Bathroom talk but I can't be the only one. And with Christmas right around the corner and the holiday foods everywhere we turn, you, too, may find yourself in need of a little help. I've been using Dr. Mercola’s Complete Probiotic Powder Packets* each morning and for the first time in weeks my stomach is feeling good and lighter than ever. Each packet contain 10 strains of bacteria, including super-strain lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1, and promote an optimal environment for the growth of “gut-friendly” bacteria. I am loving the results and plan to add the probiotic to my morning routine from here on out. 

{THREE}


Thanks to the colder weather we've been "enjoying" here in Ohio, I've been layering more. And I don't mean with scarves (although that's been happening, too!) I find that I am more likely to wear more jewelry when it's cooler outside. One of my newwest pieces has become an instant favorite. I love my Happiness Boutique arrow bangle bracelet. It's light and just perfect for layering with other pieces. I have my eyes on a few other bracelets, too. I guess I would say bracelets are my things. Here are a two others I wouldn't mind having: Silver Toned Statement Bracelet with Crystal Stone and Knot Cuff Bracelet Silver. If you see something on their site you like, be sure to user promo code WIFEMOMMYME to save 10% through January 12th! 

{FOUR}


Oh and how could I forget this!! Today I am going to a Gilmore Girls watch party and I am so friggin' excited. The host is a friend I met through MOPS and she is the biggest GG fan I know. We have all our food planned out -- pizza, egg rolls, pop tarts, cake. You know? The must enjoy Gilmore favorites. For those of you wondering I have high hopes Rory ends up with Logan but at the same time I want her to be this adult who has life together and doesn't "need a man". I guess we will find out later this afternoon, won't we?

{FIVE}


On Tuesday I had my stictches removed. The aftermath of my fall isn't pretty. I won't share a photo because it's pretty gross. I may once the puncture heals. I am fairly certain I am going to have a pretty knarly scar. I am going to get and use ScarAway gel once it heals completely. For those of you who have used a scar cream/gel before, do you have one that you love and worked well? While my scar will be on my shin, I would really like to reduce the apperance of it the best I can. 

We have a really low-key weekend planned which I am more than okay with! We've been pretty busy lately and it's nice to not have to be anywhere. The only things on our to do list is 1) see Trolls and b) go to church. Simple enough, right? In case you missed our other posts from this week, here they are:







Hope you all had a great week and your weekend is just as amazing! Happy weekend, friends! 

*I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com), May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Let's Give Thanks

With Thanksgiving tomorrow I wanted to take a moment and share what our family is thankful for this year. Overall 2016 has been a pretty amazing year. As always life can be messy but when looking at the last 11 months, I can honestly say our family has been blessed more than stressed. Here is our simple list of things we are thankful for this Thanksgiving.


JAMES
1 -- Christ
2 -- You and Connor
3 -- My Family
4 -- My Work Team
5 -- Living a Blessed Life

STEPHANIE
1 -- Days spent with just James and Connor. I love the adventures we've been having as a family. 
2 -- Nights when Connor sleeps in his own bed. 
3 -- Having a home church we really love and feel welcomed at. 
4 -- My girlfriends, near and far, and all the love and support they shower me with. 
5 -- In the last year my relationship with Christ has grown so much and I'll forever be grateful for His love. 

CONNOR
1 -- I am thankful for my friends at school. 
2 -- My toys are my favorite thing to play with. 
3 -- My cousin Will and Jordan (this is the second time he has mentioned them by name; he must really like these guys!). 
4 -- Mr. Tyler is a really nice swimmer and I like having him at the pool with me. 
5 -- I am thankful for when my iPad is charged at 100% (me too buddy). 

Obviously Connor and I are a bit more chatty than James! But really... each of us are very blessed with such a wonderful life. We wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Holiday Home Tour Announcement {2016}

Raise your hand if you've already decorated for Christmas? Yeah... me too! We decorated on the 12th. I have my reasons in decorating early and don't feel one bit sorry for them. First up, I don't think 4 short weeks is enough time to enjoy our decorations and the "feeling" of Christmas. Secondly, our weekends are full of activities so the 12th was the only day I could tackle it. So as I type this post, I'm sitting just feet away from a lit Christmas tree and my heart couldn't be any happier.

Not only do I love sharing our home with others during the holidays but I love seeing how other families decorate for the season. I love seeing what others do to make the most of such a festive season. I have found some really great decorating ideas thanks to blog posts, Facebook shares and Instagram photos. Not to mention I love seeing the inside of other peoples homes #nosey. 

It turns out I am not the only one! Myself, Sarah from Foxy’s Domestic Side, Beth from Our Pretty Little Girls, Carrie from Curly Crafty Mom and Lindsay from Lindsay's Sweet World are hosting a Holiday Home Tour link up. It’s really as simple as it sounds. Take pictures of your home decorated for the holiday season, write a blog post allowing us to enjoy your holiday decorations. The link up opens in two weeks, Monday December 6th, and will stay open through December 24th.


So start decorating and grab our button below and meet us back here next month as we celebrate all things Christmas was our Holiday Home Tour. I can't wait to celebrate with you, friends! See you December 6th!


Monday, November 21, 2016

{HOW TO} At Home Gel Manicure

I've always envied girls with good natural nails and even more so those who rock flawless manicures. My nails aren't naturally strong nor have I ever been one with long nails; they just don't grow that way! But as I've gotten older I've put my time and effort into my nail game. At home manicures have been my "new thing". Instead of spending $30 at the salon for a gel manicure, I treat myself to one from the comfort of home.


I often do my nails at night while watching TV. It's just about the only time I'm still enough. In 5 steps and 25 minutes I go from naked nails to a nice manicure that doesn't break the bank. I use the following products and have a 10 day wear challenge shown below.

Step #1
Shape your nails to your length preference and push back your cuticles with an orange stick. Wash and dry your hands, giving attention to your nails making sure they are nice and clean.

Step #2
Using Orly Color Care Polish Bond coat each nail with the liquid bond. This is my favorite base coat. Not only does it dry quickly but it keeps nails from chipping. A base coat is a must. I didn't always use one because of dry time but this brand removes the need to wait for dry nails and keeps the polish "bonded" to my nails.

Step #3
Paint your nails with your polish of choice. I usually apply 2 coats. I am obsessed with Essie polishes and now only use them. I used to wear just OPI but I've discovered that Essie goes on smoother, is less likely to chip and I just love the colors available. What you see in the photo above and in my Day 1 and 10 photos is Essie's Now and Zen Polish. This is a new color in their 2016 collection. It's a fun blueish gray color.

Step #4
Once I've painted all 10 nails I top with Essie Gel Setter Top Coat. This and the base coat mentioned above is what made me a fan of home manicures. This gel coat goes on smoothly and dries in no time. I don't have time to wait for my nails to dry and smudges set me off. The best part? No fancy lamp or light needed. Your nails dry within seconds. Additionally this gel coat does not have to used with gel polish for it to set. It works with basic polishes as well.

Step #5
My hands and nails get really dry thanks to being in water often. Between giving Connor a bath to bathing myself to doing dishes and cleaning to just normal hand washing, I feel as if my hands and nails are just drier than usually. To combat that I use Nuxe Multi-purpose Dry Oil for Face, Body and Hair. I apply it once my nails are completely dry and rub it into my cuticles. I actually received this oil in my Ispy bag. It's a big pricey ($29) so when I run out, I'll buy something more affordable for every day use.

Unlike the gel set you would have applied at a nail salon this polish can be removed easily with regular fingernail polish remover. Your nails are completely damage free.


While some may think that's a lot of chipping for 10 days, I am perfectly okay with doing my nails again at day 10. At this point this polish had been through the ringer: 6 baths for Connor, 10 showers for myself, 9 sinks full of dirty dishes, cleaning the house 2 times which included mopping and access to harsh cleaning chemicals and finally approximately 175 hand-washings.

My nail polish collection has grown over the last year. I am a fan of colors that can be worn year around. I typically pick one seasonal color and wear it till I run out and then pick up a new color the next season. For example I picked up the Now and Zen polish this Fall for today's $10 at Target purchase. Here is my complete Essie collection.



This collection of polishes will last me a while. It seems like a lot of polishes and it is but thanks to clearance deals at Target and and clearance prices paired with coupons at Ulta, I only paid full price for 3 of these plus my top coat. 

Are you a fan of polish like me? What's your favorite color? Mine are Mademoiseele, In Stitches and Cabana Boy.