Forts, Movies, & Popcorn


Forts, movies, and popcorn... they kind of go hand-in-hand, wouldn't you say?  Movies are more fun to watch and popcorn is more fun to eat when you do it inside of a fort (at least for a toddler.. but who says it can't be fun for an adult too?).  Now that I've gone from working 5 days a week to 3 days a week - a perfect schedule for this pregnant lady - I get to spend more time playing with my girl.  And I'll take all the one-on-one time I can get with her before baby #2 come along. 

For our fort, we used the tent frame that my husband built for my daughter not too long ago.. but hey, you don't have to be fancy like that.  Get your kid and have them help you drag a couple chairs out to the living room.. drape some extra blankets or sheets over the tops, and plop some pillows on the floor!  It makes some great rainy day.. or just lazy day.. fun!  There tends to be a lot of lazy days going on around this house, since my energy is completely dwindling the closer I get to my due date.

After you get your movie ready to go on the TV, you absolutely cannot forget the popcorn!  We love Pop Secret microwave popcorn.. my go-to is either the movie theater butter or the kettle corn.  This particular day I was feelin' more in a movie theater butter kind of mood.  Who needs to actually go to a movie theater for the popcorn?  Not us!  My child would probably eat a whole bag of it herself if I let her.

What are your favorite things to do with your kiddos on a rainy and/or lazy day?  Do you have any other favorite fort-building-snacks besides Pop Secret popcorn?  I suggest you go visit Pop Secret's Facebook page for a $1 off coupon and stock up on some for those days you might just get all crazy and bust out a fort in the middle of your living room.  ;)

This post is sponsored by Pop Secret.  All opinions and forts are my own.  ;)

33 Week Update {pregnancy}


The end is in sight... almost.  Just 7 weeks left until my due date.. hopefully 5 weeks left until we meet this little man (which is when Clara made her appearance, at 38 weeks) for the sake of my always-in-pain body.  That and I'm just completely anxious to see his sweet face..

What will he look like?  Will I get a kid that has dark hair like me?  Or will he look more like Clara?  I still find it kind of hard to believe I'm having a boy.. it hasn't quite 'hit me' yet.

And although my body feels ready, I'm totally unprepared.  This second time around I've been a slacker.  We were totally ready for Clara by this time.. but no where near it with little guy.  The nursery is still very much 'under construction'.. I need to find a good bassinet that fits on my side of the bed.. I need to find a good car seat (recommendations, anyone?).. I must admit, I've been procrastinating.. and now I'm a bit overwhelmed.  But it'll get there.  But the biggest thing is - he has no name!  We only have a couple names on a list that are kind of just... eh... to us right now.  But maybe once we meet him, one of them will pop out to us.  We've hardly thought about it, because it's been very frustrating for me.  Picking a good name is a big deal, I think. 

I've gained 25 pounds so far, and although that's not much.. I'm feeling pretty frumpy these days with this big ol' belly.  Some of my maternity clothes don't even fit right anymore and I'm to the point where I just plan on wearing what I've got until this guy decides to come out.  No more maternity clothes for this gal - I want to save my money for a new wardrobe after baby.  So if you see me wearing the same shirt a couple times a week.. that's why.. and I'm ok with that.

Clara is starting to become a little impatient, I think (me too, kid).. she keeps wondering when baby brother will be here.  And although I keep saying.. just another month or so.. she doesn't quite get it.  But soon enough it'll be like Crazy Town USA around here, and I'm really praying she will adjust well.

Homemade Bagels {recipe}


I was kind of intimidated at the thought of making my own bagels.  It just seemed like a lot of work, and easy to screw up.  But I am so glad that I did it.  I can honestly say that I will never go back to store bought.  The taste is so fresh, and they freeze very well!  And while they do take a little bit of time, it's not really hard work.  While my bagels don't look totally perfect, I assure you they taste fabulous.. and I was pretty darn proud of myself.  Now if you have some extra time this weekend, I suggest you roll up your sleeves and give these a try!  And don't let the lengthy directions scare you off!

Homemade Bagels
recipe from Annie's Eats

For the sponge:
  • 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 4 cups bread flour
  •  2 1/2 cups water, room temperature
For the dough:
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp honey or brown sugar
To finish:
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • cornmeal, for dusting
  • toppings of your choice (cinnamon-sugar, cheese, seeds, or everything topping)
  •  Everything Topping - combine 4 tsp each of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried minced garlic, dried minced onion, and 2 tsp salt

For the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a medium bowl.  Add the water, stirring until it forms a smooth, sticky batter.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until it becomes very foamy and bubbly.  It should get nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

To make the dough, in the same bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir.  Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and honey (or brown sugar). Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.

Knead dough for about 6 minutes with the dough hook.  The dough should be firm, but still pliable and smooth.  If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading.  If it seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required.  Should be satiny and pliable but not tacky. Immediately divide the dough into 4 1/2 ounce pieces (recipe should make about 12 bagels).  Form the pieces into rolls.  Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for 20 minutes.

Line two sheet pans with parchment and mist with spray oil.  Shape bagels by pushing a hole through the center and stretching out the hole to 2.5 inches.  Place each one 2 inches apart on the pan.  Mist bagels with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Check to see if they are ready to be refrigerated by using the float test.  Fill a small bowl with room temp/cool water.  Test one bagel by putting it into the water and if it floats within 10 seconds then they are ready for the fridge.  If it does not float, return to the pan and continue to let them set at room temp for 20 more minutes or until it passes the float test.

The following day (or when you're ready to bake them), preheat oven to 500 F.  Bring large pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda.  Have a slotted spoon nearby and your toppings ready.  Remove bagels from the fridge and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as will fit (should float within 10 seconds).  After 1 minute, flip them over and boil another minute.  if you like chewy bagels, you can boil 2 minutes per side instead.

While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment lined sheet pans with cornmeal.  If you are topping the bagels, do it as soon as they come out of the water.  When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the middle shelves in the over and bake 5 minutes, then rotate the pans.  After rotating, lower the oven to 450 F and continue baking about 5 minutes or until bagels are light golden brown.  Remove the pans from oven and let bagels cool on rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy their amazingness!

Christmas Vacation 2014 Recap


We had a wonderful time visiting my parents and family for Christmas.  Christmas Eve we got together with my brother and his family to hang out, open gifts, and enjoy dinner.. my mama made lasagna.. and of course it was delicious.. and dessert was her always loved chocolate pie.  Clara and her cousin decorated Christmas cookies.  They definitely enjoyed each others company!

On Christmas we woke up about 8am (the perfect amount of sleeping in for me these days, since I normally wake at 5:30am).. Clara crawled into bed with us, and I asked her if she wanted to go wake up Nana and Papa so we could see if our stockings were filled.  In her sweetest voice she said, "No, I'm just a little sleepy."  And so we cuddled some more.  But it didn't take her much longer after that to decide to get up and snoop around the tree.

I had so much fun watching her open the gifts she received, and seeing the joy on her face while she discovered what was under all the wrapping paper!  One of the gifts we bought for her, was a toddler board game.. called the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game.. and I'm pretty sure it ended up being one of her favorite things.  After all of our morning excitement, we headed out to GG's house (my grandma).. for some more family fun.

I always enjoy going back to visit my parents and even though we don't live super close to them.. I sure am thankful we live as close as we do.. the closest we've lived to them in 6 years.  It was definitely a nice, laid back vacation... minus Clara getting sick the last two days, but it's inevitable when we travel up there when it's so much more dry and cold.

Christmas Vacation Pt 1


This year for Christmas we were able to head up north to visit my family.  It's been about 2 years since we've been up here for Christmastime, we try to get with them every other year if we can.  The drive is about 11 hours, and it's the closest we've lived to them so we try to take advantage of it while we can!

I was especially excited this year because they're able to see my baby bump - they didn't get to see me pregnant in person with Clara at all since we were living in Korea at the time.  So being closer the second time around is a nice treat!

I didn't bring my laptop with on the trip, because I just wanted to relax - but thought I'd do a quick update (and I'll update more when we return home!).  But Clara is enjoying being spoiled by Nana and Papa and visiting her cousins.. there's been lots of food, relaxing, Christmas music and cookie decorating.. it's nice to be back!  I've been posting to Instagram a bit, so you can follow me there if you'd like!

My mama & I sippin' on some Starbucks (decaf for me, of course)!
Clara making Christmas cookies with her cousin!
I hope you all enjoy the rest of your Christmas week!!  Merry Christmas!

Everyday Cinnamon Rolls {recipe}


This cinnamon roll recipe is hands down a favorite in our family.  They're fairly easy and they turn out great every time.  They're so good, I can't even get a picture before they start getting eaten (as you can see).. but hey, I'll take that as a compliment!  I love cinnamon rolls all year long, but really there's just something about a sweet, warm roll with a hot cup of coffee when it's chilly outside.  It just kind of gives me the warm & fuzzies!

We had these for breakfast on Thanksgiving, and they would be yummy for a Christmas morning treat also.. or an any time treat.  My husband has to have cinnamon rolls as a dessert on the days that we have chili for dinner.  I'm not quite sure why, but it's what he always requests!  Ain't nobody complaining around here.. well except baby my OB Doctor who tells me I need to slow my roll.. but I just don't think he understands how good these are.  ;)

So if you decide one day you're going to up and make cinnamon rolls, look no further.. you need to make these ones!

Cinnamon Rolls
Source - Our Best Bites

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 Tbs butter, cut into chunks
  • 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package instant or ‘rapid rise’ yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 2 T melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 Tbs milk

For the Dough-- Place milk and 4 tbsp butter in a a bowl and microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. Butter should be at least partially melted; stir and set aside. In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, yeast, white sugar, and salt. When milk mixture has cooled to warm, add it to the flour mixture along with the egg while the beater, with paddle attachment, is running.  Beat about 1 min.  Switch to dough hook and add remaining flour only until dough just lifts from side of the bowl. It should be soft and a little sticky. Continue to let the dough knead for 5 minutes. If you are not using a stand mixer, turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes by hand. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and let rest for about 10 minutes.

For the Filling--  Mix softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in small bowl.

For Assembly-- Roll dough into a 12 x 14 inch rectangle. Spread filling over the dough. Roll up from the longer side of the rectangle and pinch edges closed.  Score the roll into 12 equal pieces and then cut into rolls. Place in a 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover pan with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes (I like to turn on the stove and just leave it sit on top of that). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  When rolls have finished rising, bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool a little then spread with icing. Makes 12 rolls.