It’s been real 2018…

If I had to choose one word to describe 2018 it would probably be sadness. I’ve never felt as sad as I consistently felt this year. The crazy thing is I have a wonderful life and I know it. So why was this year so hard? I had my sweet baby girl, so really, this should be my best year…and yet, it wasn’t. It was a really long, really sad year.

There’s no need to dive into why I felt the way I felt. Rehashing it all will only reignite the feelings. Instead, I need to focus on what’s to come. As much as I want to say “new year, new me”, I need to be a realist. The extent of the damage is too great. I need to work on rebuilding myself. Instead of leaving the year with a “to be continued…”, I need to close the book. In fact, I need to burn the damn book. Anyone have a lighter? ✌🏼

I won’t be setting resolutions for 2019. I’ve been far to cruel to myself (mentally) this year and frankly, I don’t need that kind of pressure. Instead, I’m just going to try to be a better person and hope that it helps with rebuilding ME. I will try to be kinder to myself and others and if I can work in a couple of workouts, some more veggies, and a few new books, then even better.

As the final hours of the year dwindle down, I want to wish you all a new year filled with health, prosperity, and lots of love. Take a moment to think about what worked this year and what didn’t. This is our chance to carry forward the good and leave behind the bad. I hope everyone has fun tonight and have a drink for me! Not sure this tired momma will make it to midnight. 😴 But if I do, I’ve got two really cute sweethearts to kiss.

Happy New Year! 🍾

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Baby Belle’s Nursery

We finished baby Isabella’s nursery and it was just in time because the little peanut decided to make an early debut! I’m by no means savvy with interior decorating but I’m so happy with how the room came out and wanted to share the finished product with you all. I had the hardest time deciding on a theme for the nursery. I wanted to do something Disney themed but it was just too hard for me to decide whether to focus on one movie, Mickey Mouse himself, a mix, etc. I think I finally gave up and just typed in “modern nursery ideas” into Pinterest and that’s when I saw it – a black & white themed nursery. At first I thought it might be too serious for a baby but then I started thinking about how easy it would be to match things and how newborns can’t even see color at first. I was sold.

From the beginning, my husband and I both agreed that we didn’t want to spend a ton on the nursery. We knew that the baby would only really be in the nursery for sleeping and didn’t see the point in spending hundreds on an actual bedroom set. Instead, we tried to opt for economical and practical and I think we succeeded. Everything in the nursery was purchased from Ikea, Target, Amazon, & Etsy. The only items I would consider a “splurge” would be the pouf from Crate & Kids and the dream catcher.

The walls are a neutral gray – Behr Gentle Rain. We actually have this color downstairs as well and I love it. I thought it would be a good backdrop to the black & white but I guess we could’ve also gone with a brighter color if we really wanted some sort of pop. The book ledges are meant for photos but I saw them used for books on Pinterest and fell in love. They’re quite sturdy if you use wall anchors and they fit a ton of books! We also opted to not get a changing table and got a dresser instead to save space and be able to store more. All of the prints on the wall were from various shops on Etsy. I purchased the digital files and got them printed at Sam’s Club. If your local wholesale store has a photo center, take advantage! It was so cheap to get these printed, especially the 16×20 ones over the crib, compared to getting them printed at Snapfish or Walgreens. And that’s it. Our attempt to create a Pinterest worthy nursery without breaking the bank. I tagged all of the shops below but let me know if I missed anything!

 

XoXo,
K

FALLING BACK INTO IT…

I’m back! OH MY GOODNESS. I’m back and I’m so excited! I don’t even know where to start. Yes, I’ve been gone awhile. Yes, I’m sorry. But the hiatus was all for good reason, I promise. First, I enrolled in two classes for the Summer and severely underestimated the amount of time and effort they would take and then we found out that we’re pregnant (YAY!). So to sum up the past few months: homework + complete exhaustion + life = no blog. Boooooo. 😦 But as I said, I’m back! And I have so much to share with you all (food, baby, decor…we’re doing it all guys!) 🙂

Completely unrelated to pregnancy or school – because momma needs a break – I wanted to share my latest buy from Bath & Body Works! Not sponsored at all. I’m just a sucker for candles. There’s something very calming about the faint glow and they make the house smell amazing. In fact, as I write this, I have a vanilla Ikea candle burning. Yum!

Last week Bath & Body Works had a sale on the Leaves 3 wick candles – $10.95 each. And being that as of the first of August I was already day dreaming about Fall and how I want to decorate, I thought it was totally necessary to stock up on some fall scents. They also had some of the single wick candles mix & match 2 for $16. There were some “fallsy” (totally a word) scents and I thought it couldn’t hurt to try them too. All four with the 20% off promo code I found plus shipping brought my total to $38.49, about 9.62 per candle. Not bad, but probably not the best deal I could’ve gotten. I’ve seen steeper sales but as I mentioned, I was already dreaming of Fall and felt that I would die if I didn’t buy these. And let’s be real, I will totally buy more when/if there’s another sale (sorry hubby).

So. What did I wind up with? I got two of the 3 wick candles in Leaves, one single wick in Cinnamon Spiced Vanilla, and one single wick in Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin. I have yet to light them so I can’t comment on the throw just yet. One, I need to finish the Ikea candle I’m halfway through and two, I feel like I need to wait until we get just a *little* closer to September to avoid any crazy looks from visiting friends and family. But for any of you considering picking up some fall scents for yourselves, here are my thoughts:

Leaves – Smells like straight up fall. I lurve it. The cold scent is super strong and even with it just on the table next to me with the lid on I can still faintly smell it. You’re supposed to smell crisp red apple, golden nectar, and warm clove spice. I definitely smell the clove and the apple is very subtle, but the sweetness is there. I don’t know what nectar smells like so I’m not much help there. Overall, it definitely smells like the crisp leaves of a fall day. 10/10 would buy again.

The single wick candles were smaller than I expected but that’s my fault. I never read the dimensions on anything. I’ve also never purchased any of the Bath & Body Works candles made with essential oils so I’m interested to see how they burn & how strong the throw is on these.

Cinnamon Spiced Vanilla – The cold scent on this one is also very strong but I’m not confident it’ll smell as strong when lit (I hope I’m wrong). Sometimes when I open this candle the first thing I smell is the vanilla and other times the cinnamon is stronger. Overall, I would say it’s a great balance. You’re supposed to smell ground cinnamon, sugar crystals, and vanilla bean. I’d say they nailed it. I have high hopes for this little guy.

Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin – This one definitely smells sweeter than the Cinnamon Spiced Vanilla but not in a bad way. It’s not an overpowering sweet…just like a stronger punch from the cinnamon. While this one also smells great cold, it’s definitely more subtle than the other two. You’re supposed to smell warm cinnamon, fresh ground clove, and vanilla cream. I’m not sure where the pumpkin comes into play here but I still love the scent. If you don’t like the smell of cinnamon this isn’t for you.

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I am so excited to light these bad boys. I would definitely buy the two single wick scents in three wick next time. They all smell fantastic! If any of you have tried out some of the other fall scents let me know how you liked them. I bought these online and did not get to smell them first so I had to go based off of the fragrance description and reviews. Risky…but I’m really glad they’re all winners. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for some deals and let you all know if anything good comes up and hopefully you all will let me know if you see something first!

♥,
K

National Empanada Day

Good morning, friends. Happy Sunday! Hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend so far. If you’re wondering what to do this Sunday Funday I’ve got one word for ya – empanadas. Today is National Empanada Day and I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to share my family’s empanada recipe. 🙂

If you’re wondering what an empanada is – I got you. An empanada is a stuffed pastry that is normally baked or fried. They’re basically delicious little pockets of meat, cheese, corn, chicken, etc. stuffed and fried (or baked) to golden brown perfection. You’ve probably seen or heard of these at least once in your life. They go by different names depending on where you’re from or who’s making them. The most common names I’ve heard them go by are beef turnovers, beef patties, empanadas, and pastelillos.

Honestly, I don’t think there’s a wrong way to make these. You can customize the stuffing to your family’s taste. I’m going to share how I traditionally make beef empanadas at home but feel free to leave out, add, or change it up how you’d like. I fry mine because I would fry everything if I could, but you can also choose to bake yours. Just place the empanadas on parchment-lined baking sheets, brush the tops with an egg wash (avoid the edges) and bake at 400° until golden brown (probably about 30-40 minutes). Also, just a heads up, because I learned this watching my mother in the kitchen, I don’t have exact measurements. I’ll give my best estimate of what I think should go in but please, season to your taste. I promise it’ll be fantastic.

Cast of Characters:

  • 1 pkg. of Goya Empanada Discs (frozen aisle – hispanic section) – there are recipes out there to make the dough but these are just as delicious and quicker
  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • Adobo (all purpose seasoning) – it’s basically seasoning salt so I would say salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Sofrito – you may not have this laying around – it’s traditionally a blended mixture of cilantro, recao (culantro), onions, green peppers, garlic, and tomatoes – I make mine but there are pre-made jars available in your local grocery store. If you can’t find it or just want to stick with what you have at home, it’s truly about seasoning – just sub in what you have!
  • 1 packet of Sazon
  • Diced Pimentos – to taste
  • 1 Potato
  • Oil for frying

Optional Add-Ins:

  • Green Olives
  • Tomato Sauce (I use half a can)
  • Red Chili Flakes (we like our spicy)

Remember that your empanada discs should be defrosted so they’re pliable and easy to work with. This will not work with frozen discs. I keep mine in the fridge until I’m ready to stuff. If you leave them out too long they’ll get too sticky.

So, first thing’s first, brown zee meat. Normally while I have the meat browning, I peel and chop my potato into cubes (the bigger the cubes, the longer it will take for them to cook through). I also halve my olives. You’re welcome to add them whole, I just prefer smaller bites.

Once the meat is browned, drain the grease and return pan to medium heat. If you have the sofrito mixture, this is where I add it and let the meat saute in it a little (kind of like you’re trying to saute the onions/garlic/peppers that are in there to bring out the flavor). Once it becomes aromatic – I’d say about 2-3 minutes – you can add in the rest of your ingredients and stir it up! At this point, your meat mixture should kind of look like this:

Now is when I lower the heat to the lowest possible setting, put the lid on, and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes. How long you let it cook will depend on how big you cut your potatoes and how long it takes for them to cook through. Once your potatoes are cooked through, remove from heat and let it cool for a minute.

Now, we stuff. My assembly line goes as follows: pot of meat mixture & spoon, cutting board to lay and stuff discs, plate to lay stuffed discs. Ready? Let’s go! There’s a plastic square in between each disc to keep them from sticking to each other. I actually re-use these on my plate to lay the empanada on to also keep them from sticking to each other (you’ll see in the picture). So, I take the disc and lay it on my cutting board and spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of the meat mixture into the center.

A couple of things to note here: How much you stuff it is up to you, I like mine meaty BUT you have to remember that it needs to fit in the center so you can close and crimp the sides easily and the more stuffed they are, the harder it’ll be to get an even fry – not a big deal if you’re baking – but since I fry, I normally to have spoon some oil over it to get all the edges that wouldn’t touch since mine are so fat.

Once the meat mixture is in, you’ll fold it over to create a little half moon pocket. I seal the edges with my fingers so it’ll lay closed. Then, I fully seal the edges by crimping it with a fork (see below). Move your completed patty to the plate and on to the next one! The Goya package includes 10 discs. I normally stuff all 10 but only cook up about half and freeze the other half for another day! These freeze beautifully and are super easy to re-heat. Just pull out of the freezer, defrost, and fry those bad boys up! If you’re worried about them sticking, just wrap each one in some parchment paper before throwing them into a ziplock freezer bag.

Now we’re ready to fry! We’re so close I can almost taste it! Pour the oil into your frying pan and bring to medium heat. While the pan is heating up, grab a plate and line with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Carefully drop in your little meat pockets and smell the deliciousness you’ve created. Be sure to watch these! Depending on how hot your oil is these fry up fast and can go from golden brown to burnt real quick. Once you see the bottom is starting to look golden, flip them over! Once both sides are beautifully golden brown, use some tongs to remove and place onto your lined plate. Continue with the next batch and so on and so forth. At the end, you’ll have these beautiful little guys.

They will be HOT so give them a minute. I know it’s hard. Resist. I believe in you.

These can be served as a side to your lunch or dinner but I eat these as is. Just give me an empanada and an ice cold Coke and I’m a happy girl. My hubby likes to drench his in hot sauce. Some people dip theirs in chimichurri. If you have picky eaters, my mom used to stuff these with cheddar cheese (kind of like a Spanish grilled cheese) or some days she’d do pepperoni, marinara, and mozzarella. Ya’ll, pizza empanadas are LEGIT. That’s what’s so amazing about these things, you can customize them however you like and they’ll be delicious no matter what. Now, go and celebrate the deliciousness that is National Empanada Day. If you try these for yourself, please report back! I want to hear about all the different variations you guys make so I can get some ideas for next time.

♥,
K

I’m still here!

Hello friends! Long time no speak. Oh my word, life has been crazy. Like, so crazy that I’m pooped and ready for bed by like 8 p.m. (sad, right!?) The intent to jump on here and share is always there but then I climb into bed and I’m OUT.

Can we take a minute to talk about how March is already over? Where did the month even go? Normally we host Easter dinner but this year my mother-in-law invited us over to their house for dinner and I’m not even mad about it. She’s a great cook, we get homemade waffles & ice cream for dessert and there’s no mess in my kitchen. YES PLEASE. Easter was huge in my house growing up. We’d attend Sunday Mass and then have an egg hunt and get huge baskets filled with all kinds of toys and goodies. It’s different now as an adult when you actually understand the importance of Easter Sunday but I love the idea of balance and celebrating both the meaning of Easter and sprinkling in some Easter Bunny fun.

I can’t wait to make some kick-ass baskets when we have kids. Until then, I’ve decided to make a basket for my in-laws. So far I’ve got some trail mix in there, a bottle of wine, and chocolate eggs. I plan on baking some cookies on Saturday and wrapping them up so they get a mix of a little sweet, a little salty, and a lot of love! I found this cookie recipe over at Averie Cooks and I think it’s perfect because she uses the pastel M&M’s that are out right now and they’re just so cute! They’re going to look adorable in the basket. I can’t wait. Not going to lie, I’ll probably make 2 batches because the husband will lose it if I make his parents cookies and leave him nothing…plus I love me some late night cookies too. Link to the recipe is posted below if you’re interested. I’ll probably add some semi-sweet chocolate chips to go along with the M&M’s because you can never have too much chocolate in my opinion.

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Soft and Chewy M&Ms Cookies

Tomorrow is the hubby’s birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOO! We’re going to have dinner over at City Walk and then see Chris D’Elia at the Hard Rock. I also hope to stop into the Voodoo Doughnut that just opened there. I’m nervous though because I read some comments that there was a 45 minute wait and as much as I love donuts, I just don’t know if I love them enough to wait 45 minutes. Sidenote: I never know if it’s donut or doughnut? It’s kind of like gray and grey for me? Anyway, if we happen to get in, I’ll take all the pictures and post a review asap. Have you guys ever had their donuts? Worth it?

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend and if you celebrate, Happy Easter! Talk soon!

XoXo,
K

Sweater Weather

Hi all! It’s a rainy day here in Orlando which always makes me want to stay home in pj’s and read or binge watch TV. It’s also great weather to snuggle or sleep. Basically, it’s great to do anything except be at work. Anytime it rains or there’s a cold front I absolutely love to make a soup or chili or any type of comfort food. Although it’s not really cold in Orlando right now, I’ve heard it’s still pretty cold for my friends up in the Northeast and with the impending third Nor’easter, I thought I’d share one of my favorite comfort food recipes!

Today’s forecast called for 90% chance of rain so I took advantage and left my favorite Mississippi Roast in the slow cooker. Oh slow cooker, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. I love how easy you make dinner for me. I love walking through the door and smelling the deliciousness you’ve been cooking all day. I especially love the little to no clean up. If you’re nervous about leaving an appliance on all day with no one home, you’re not alone. I was also nervous at first, but if you ensure the appliance is on a stable surface and there’s room for any steam that might be created to escape, I think you’re OK.

Also, we were gifted this Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker for our wedding and it has seriously changed the game. The option to use it manually (if you’re home and watching it) or set a cooking time makes a huge difference. I no longer worry about not being home in exactly 8 hours because I know the slow cooker will automatically switch to “keep warm” once the cook time is completed. And while we’re talking about game changers, have you tried the Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners? I normally grab a box whenever I visit Publix but I recently found them on Amazon and I think it comes out more economical through there. These make clean up so easy! Everything cooks and stays inside the liner. Once it’s cooled down, I pick it up and dump it in the trash (or down the drain first if there’s a lot of liquid). But that’s it! Then I just have to rinse the actual crock pot. No more soaking or scrubbing. YAAAAASSSS!

Any-who, the whole point of this was to share this delicious recipe I found and have been making forever. Tonight, I’m pairing it with potato salad since it’s rainy but still very warm here, but this would also be delicious on top of some mashed potatoes, rice, or even on a sandwich! Did I mention there’s only 8 ingredients? So easy! I got the recipe off Pinterest but Kudos goes to Brandie @ The Country Cook. Link to recipe here. Let me know how you all like it!

XoXo,
K

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