Chicken Taco Soup

The crock pot is probably one of the most used small kitchen appliances in the condo. It would be first if it weren’t for both my husband’s and my love – and need – for coffee. We use it so much in fact, that this recipe I’m sharing was our crock pot’s last before going into the graveyard. We killed the crock pot. Oops.

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Dinners that cook in the crock are some of my favorites. You come home to a house smelling delicious, you don’t have to worry about what you have to cook after a long day and they are so family friendly. So what can you cook in a crock? The recipes are endless… Google “crock pot” and see for yourself. If you are having a hard time, narrow it down by adding your meat of choice or the word “vegetarian” and boom, dinners for days.

This Chicken Taco Soup is a version of a recipe my mom makes. I don’t use a recipe anymore, just a guideline of what to put in. You can do your chicken breasts, fresh or frozen, they will cook either way in the crock, just be sure to add some time if they are frozen. Add your beans and corn, of course chicken broth (typically one box) and finish it off with your favorite taco seasoning. If you care to spice it up, you can add jalapeños or a can of diced green chilies. When you serve it up, you can add a dollop of sour cream, some sliced avocado and a side of quesadillas. It is sure to be a dinner that will please you and your kiddos. It is simple and flavorful, good on a sunny summer night with a complimentary margarita, or a chilly snow day all the same.

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So, what are you having for dinner? And do you love your crock pot as much as I do? I’d love to hear some of your go-to recipes for your crock pot!

Now that the dinner is ready to go, I’m off to remove the snowballs from Brantley’s paws; he loves snow days! Enjoy what is hopefully the last snow day of the season!

Making the Most of Winter {Homemade Marshmallows}

One of my most amazing friends helped in the planning of my bachelorette party last fall and for the hotel room, she made us treats! The thing that everyone loved the most was the homemade marshmallows. They were so good!

Winter Series Marshmallows

When I started thinking about this winter series and fun activities to do through the colder months, I knew I had to try my had at making marshmallows, so I scoured PInterest for a good recipe, got the ingredients and began!

I followed an awesome recipe by The Urban Poser and she even has a very helpful video tutorial to go along with it so I would definitely recommend linking over for the full recipe and post!

Here’s a peek at my process. Overall I would say it was not only a mangeable project but it was a fun way to spend some time in and hubby was very pleased with the end result. One of the things I liked about this recipe was the use of honey. You can definitely taste the honey flavor coming through instead of a traditional marshmallow flavor, but I like them nonetheless.

The other thing is that I didn’t (and still don’t) have a candy thermometer. To be honest, I’m not much of a baker, and I certainly don’t see myself getting all excited about making candies or chocolates, so for this activity I just used my freshly sanitized meat thermometer. And although it doesn’t go up high enough, I was able to figure out when the boiling honey water concoction was ready to mix in!

The marshmallows came out great! They are a delicious winter treat and perfect to dunk in your cocoa after a snow day! Have you made marshmallows? It was easier than I thought and I can guarantee your family won’t be disappointed!

Making the Most of Winter {Cozy at Home}

Okay so for the past few days I’ve been trying to convince you all to get outside and enjoy the winter scenery, but today, I’m going to share how I keep cozy at home. Afterall, it’s all about keeping things balanced.

Winter Series Snuggles 7

For me, the best cozy day starts in bed and stays in bed. I love to snuggle up under the covers or just lounge on a pile of pillows with my favorite things. For me, the main thing is giving myself permission to put my to-do list on hold and spend some time relaxing. It is so healthy, mentally and emotionally, to give yourself a break every once in a while and just let yourself really turn everything off and relax.

So that is exactly what I did! I pulled over my Vittsjo table from IKEA, with my candles and roses and hunkered down. I spend some time reading, scrolling through Instagram, knitting and most importantly snuggling with Brantley! It was probably the best afternoon I’ve had in a long time and I would seriously recommend it!

The only thing I would change about this afternoon is our bedding. We are seriously in need of bedding and I have been researching what I want to get since that White Sale post a while back. P & I had registered for a bunch of new bedding but we didn’t end up receiving any of the pieces, so we are also debating buying ourselves some of the pieces from our registry with gift card money we received.

But I also recently discovered a little site called Parachute Home that deals with bedding in a way that leaves me quite intrigued. First, they donate a portion of their sales to send insecticide treated bed nets (in partnership with Nothing But Nets) to areas in need in Africa. Secondly, they speak highly about the way they work to bring together simple and good quality sheets.

They design everything in Los Angeles, manufacture in Italy and they dye using a natural process to reduce the impact on the environment – which my sustainable side loves. But mostly they are made to bring incredible sheeting to you at an affordable price. I can really relate to what the founder says about why the business was started. To recreate that Italian hotel sleep experience without blowing your monthly rent on bedding. P and I went to Italy on our honeymoon and I’m telling you, the bedding was insane.

All that said, I really am very picky about my bedding, so I have ordered some swatches to find out if these Parachute Home sheets feel as fabulous as they sound! (And to see which color I would select for our space.) I’m so excited for them to come so I can report back on what I think!

All said and done, whatever bedding you have and whatever your favorite things to do to hunker down with on a chilly day, this is a great way to push the pause button on winter and take some time for you to truly relax this season!

Making the Most of Winter {Take a Hike!}

As I mentioned yesterday, getting outside is a surefire way to kick the winter blues. As long as you make sure you are bundled up, you might be cold, but you shouldn’t freeze! Break out those layers and get outside!

Winter Series Hike 1

The second activity to make the most of winter is to take a hike! Seriously! The winter air is crisp and refreshing and the foliage has all dropped, making for great conditions for soaking up the views without overheating.

P & I opted to take Brantley with us on our hike. A lot of trails, parks and beaches that aren’t pet friendly will allow dogs off season, so it’s the perfect time to get your pup’s energy out too!

We searched and found a trail up near the George Washington Bridge that was stated to have incredible views of the city. However, the day that we opted to hike it was insanely overcast with freezing rain. But it was all planned out so we made it happen, and even though I think we really were chilled to the bone when we hopped back in the car, we felt great! We got to check out a new trail, run down Brantley’s energy and really had a good time.

This is an activity that is completely family friendly, though I would recommend going on a day when it isn’t freezing raining. I think this could be really fun in the winter whether it is clear or snowing.

Are you an outdoorsy person? What is your favorite time of year to hike? I dare you to try it this winter and see what you think! If we could make the most of a hike in freezing rain, you can at least put it on your list 🙂

Making the Most of Winter {Downtown}

One of the easiest things you can do to kill those winter blues is get outside and soak up how pretty winter can make everything.

Winter Series, Walk Downtown 1

I suggest exploring your local downtown, whether it involves skyscrapers or little boutiques, everyone is inevitably within 30 minutes of some variation of downtown. (Cue Petula Clark’s “Downtown.”)

I made P get all bundled up with me and walk around downtown Jersey City. We explored the Newport area, where they have a beautiful waterfront walkway spanning from Jersey City to Hoboken. It is fun to take in the views of the local area, and you get a chance to see your downtown in a new light.

After wandering around the waterfront trail, it began to get a bit darker out and we headed over to the Grove Street area to check out some shops and restaurants.

Many of the shops are not pictured because I was having fun just soaking in JC at night in the winter (swoon), but I did capture a few of the places and had a bite to eat as well.

What is your local city center? Is it more urban or suburban? Have you ever tried to appreciate its beauty in the winter? I strongly recommend checking it out. From my experience, everything is a bit more sparkly. There is just something about ducking into a little shop or restaurant to get away from the cold that is so perfect.

I hope you all get bundled up in your winter gear and go check it out with your family!

Some favorite JC spots that are not pictured:

Kanibal Home

JC Made

Two Stix & A String

E Tittlemouse & Co

Word

Downtown Yogurt

Taqueria

Left Bank Burger Bar

WHOS Gluten Free

Mod Cup Coffee

Making the Most of Winter

Hey, it’s wintertime! I have heard so many people saying things like, “it is so cold out,” or “I’m ready for summer,” or any number of other choice words for this season, so I wanted to shed a little light… Last week the groundhog said we only have 6 more weeks of winter, let’s make the most of it!

Winter Series Graphic

I think what bogs us down about winter is the weather, especially if you live in a climate where it has been snowing or freezing rain – or just plain freezing – for so long. It is gray and dreary out; it gets dark so early, and it is just so damned cold! But on the bright side, in six months, we will likely all be complaining about how hot it is.

I’ve put together a list of five fun activities to make it through these last six weeks of winter in a happier fashion – with less complaining and more fun. These activities are fun for everyone, so I hope you enjoy following along this week while we gear up for a fabulous winter!

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This week, we are going to explore the joy of a wintery walk in your local downtown neighborhood, take a winter hike, make our own marshmallows for the inevitable hot cocoa that we will be in need of when we come in from playing in the snow, and finally we will discuss the major benefits of taking a snow day from work and staying cozied up inside, preferably not leaving your PJs all day.

I hope you are excited to follow along with our winter fun!

White On White Inspo

We were forcasted for an epic blizzard Monday night into Tuesday and although we got far less snow than they anticipated, I would much rather be over prepared and bundled up at home, than the alternative.

The park around the corner fully blanketed in snow.

Around our place, we still did get somewhere between 8-10″ in total and it was beautiful. We had a lovely day at home, got the place cleaned up, rearranged some furniture and worked on a few projects that I can’t wait to share with you later.

The pristine white snow that welcomed us Tuesday for our morning dog walk was so beautiful that I started thinking about white interiors. The white-on-white trend is far from new and far from over. I’ve put together a handful of {mostly} white spaces to give you some inspiration. This is particularly useful for renters who aren’t allowed to paint, homeowners that are afraid of color, or if you just love the white look.

A classic all-white kitchen gives a fresh and clean feeling.

This all-white living room gives a cozy feeling with layered textures and details to add interest.

This minimalist nook feels a little sparse, but the addition of the firewood, flowers and faux furs help to cozy it up.

This white vignette is so chic with brass details, peonies and  accessories, I love how it pops off the black wall.

I love a good organizational space and this all white shelving feels super neat and orderly. The pops of pink and the gallery wall are a perfect dose of color.

Do you have any spaces that are predominately decorated with all white? Are you a fan of the look, or do you prefer a bit more color?

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Motivation Monday {Love, Flowers & Sunshine}

Here in the New York Metro area we are gearing up for Snowmageddon 2015. There are currently light flurries blowing around outside like someone is shaking up the snow globe. But over the next few hours and overnight, it is expected to come down hard. We should be waking up to around 18 inches give or take… offices will be closed and a state of emergency has already been declared.

So in honor of this frigid nor’easter night we are leading into, I thought I would share a favorite quote that is a little bit more sunshine-y.

To be able to sprout love like flowers, to grow a garden in your mind is such a beautiful image. The thought of it just brings a smile to my face.

To me, there is a beautiful image of positive energy here. To be positive, kind, open, and to think that by offering a smile you can spread a bit of sunshine on someone else’s day? I just love that, and I hope that no matter how cold and snowy these next few days are for everyone, you feel the warmth and love of those around you.