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Easy and Delicious Cheesecake Recipe!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hi!  Hope you had a great Monday!  So- are you in charge of dessert for Easter?  If you are- I have a super yummy and EASY recipe to share with you today!  

I love, love, love to bake!  I make a lot of cakes, cookies, pies, and brownies.  One dessert I don't make often is cheesecake! I never feel like it turns out good and I am always disappointed that my efforts yielded something less than edible!  I just picked up a springform pan at Wal Mart...it is by Wilton and it was only $6.88!!  I checked online and they do not have them online :(  This one is not the exact one I got- but it looks really nice and is only $15!  

So anyway...I got my springform pan and I needed to bake a dessert to share with some friends...so I decided I was going to give making a cheesecake another try!  I used a really, really simple recipe and it turned out delicious! I also made my own graham cracker crust which I think make a huge difference.  

First, for the crust....here is the recipe I used!

Easy Cheesecake Recipe

2 packages (8 oz) softened cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat!)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs 

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix softened cream cheese with sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to incorporate.  Pour into graham cracker crust and bake for 40 minutes or until the center is just set.  Cool for at least 3 hours.  
The recipe source can be found here.

I would definitely say this cheesecake is on the creamier side...it is not as dense as a New York Style cheesecake.  It is almost a hybrid between the texture of a "no-bake" cheesecake and a traditional cheesecake.  

I gave this cheesecake to friends as a "thank you" for them watching our kids while we went out to celebrate our anniversary.  I wanted to make it extra special, so I made a simple fruit sauce to pour on top of the cheesecake.  I just took some frozen blueberries and strawberries, about 1/2 cup of water and a big, heaping spoon of strawberry preserves.  In a small sauce pan over medium heat, I let everything cook down and thicken.  It took about 10 minutes and it was ready!  So easy and it definitely added that something special to cheesecake!

Do you have a favorite cheesecake recipe? If so- PLEASE share it with me!  
I would love to try it!
Hope you have a wonderful day! :)


Favorite Things- Nail Polish!

Monday, March 30, 2015

I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for their Favorite Things Party! 


Today it is all about Nail Polish!  I just started taking care of my nails at the start of this year.  It was a personal New Year's goal for me to keep my nails filed and painted.  I grew up watching my mom painting her nails every Saturday night for church on Sunday morning.  Her nails always looked (and still do) so pretty!  I always keep my toenails painted in the summer months, but I have NEVER painted my nails (except for my wedding)! 
So- at 34 years old- I am finally painting my nails and I am really enjoying it!  

Here are a few products I am loving and using regularly!

My mom uses this top coat and it works great!  I am ALL ABOUT the quick dry top coats and this one definitely does a great job of drying fast!  It is a little on the thicker side and I prefer my top coat to go on a tad bit thinner...does that make any sense?!? :)



This is the top coat I am currently using...I really like how shiny it makes my nails look and it helps extend the "life" of my nails for several days.  I do wish it would dry quicker though! It is a great price at under $7!

I want to get this top coat next- it has awesome ratings and under $10!
I have found the two brands of nail polish that I really like are OPI and Essie.
I currently have this Essie polish on my toenails and fingernails...it is called Mod Squad!

The other color I use regularly is Essie's Lacquered Up 
and it is a really, pretty classic red color!

How fun are these colors? You can get this mini 4 pack on Nordstrom's website! Such pretty Spring colors and I think that aqua color would be so fresh for the summer too!  The Easter Bunny might have to drop this off for me! :)

What are some of your favorite nail polishes?  Any brands/colors I need to try?

I hope you have a wonderful day!!  Let's make it a great week!





5 on Friday- Wedding Anniversary Edition!

Friday, March 27, 2015

It is FRIDAY! YAY!

My husband and I are celebrating our 7 year wedding anniversary this Sunday, so I thought it would be fun share 5 "Favorites" from our wedding! We had a destination wedding and got married in San Diego. We made a whole weekend out of it and everyone stayed at the same hotel right on the Pacific Ocean!  We even had a 5K "Love on the Run" race on the morning of our wedding!  I made shirts for everyone and we all had breakfast together after the race.  Then everyone parted ways to get ready for the wedding.  It was such an AWESOME weekend...definitely one of the best moments of our lives!

ONE
Our church.  So...I did all of our wedding planning on the internet and over the phone.  We did not see our church or our reception venue until we arrived for the wedding.  I just figured it would all be fine...I just wanted to get married :)  Anyway...we went to have our meeting with the priest who was marrying us and I was so nervous and excited to see the church where we were getting married!!  We pulled up and I was SO HAPPY!  We got married at Saint Agnes Catholic Church in Point Loma, CA and it is the most beautifully, quaint Spanish mission style church.  It was almost exactly what I had envisioned and I couldn't believe how perfect it was when we went to tour the inside of it!!


We got married the week after Easter, so the church still had their Easter flowers up on the Altar.  We brought some artificial arrangements just to tie in our wedding colors and we put white, tulle bows on the pews.  We didn't do any other decorating and it was just perfect.  The inside of the church is gorgeous and I loved the simplicity of using the beautiful church as our main "backdrop."

 TWO
My dress.  Oh I just LOVED my dress!  I had a very specific idea in my head of what I wanted my wedding dress to look like.  I also knew I was NOT willing to spend a lot of money on it.  You are probably not going to believe this...but I got my wedding dress off of EBAY!! For $100!  :)  I made sure to get a dress a size bigger than my dress size just so I could have it altered to fit me perfectly.  I also had satin, spaghetti straps added to it.  My alterations cost $250- so the total for my dress was $350 :)  I also found my veil on Ebay for $15 and got my shoes at Payless for $20.  I absolutely LOVED everything about my wedding ensemble (and really liked the fact I had more money to spend on the open bar!) HA!

The back of my dress had beaded buttons and a sprinkling of beads.  It also had beautiful box pleats, which I thought were different, traditional and so PRETTY!

THREE
My wedding bouquet.  One of the first magazine pictures I added to my wedding binder (I got married before Pinterest :) was a picture of a HUGE hydrangea bouquet.  My wedding colors were hydrangea green, white and accents of hydrangea purple.  While I tried to keep the flower arrangement centerpieces for our reception budget friendly, I totally splurged on my wedding bouquet and I am SO glad I did!  When it got delivered to the church, I did a little happy dance and clapped like a giddy school girl.  It was EXACTLY what I envisioned and I just felt so much like a bride carrying it!


FOUR
Our cake.  So like I already mentioned, I did all of my planning from Austin, Texas.  We did not go out to San Diego prior to the wedding.  So when it came time to find a bakery for our wedding cake I just crossed my fingers and asked a friend of my brother's who had gotten married in San Diego a few months prior who they used for their wedding cake.  Again, we just ended up getting so lucky!! Our cake was ABSOLUTELY delicious and SO beautiful!  I sent the bakery a picture of what I wanted our cake to look like and they totally created my vision perfectly!  We added the hydrangea flower accents once the cake had been delivered to the reception venue.  Our top layer was white cake with fresh strawberries and a cream cheese filling, our 2nd layer was white cake with lemon and raspberry filling layers and our bottom layer was chocolate and vanilla marble cake with a fudge layer.  It was all iced in the most dreamy butter cream icing.  I may or may not have eaten the majority of the top of our wedding cake once we got back to the hotel from our reception..... ;)  It was THAT good!


FIVE
The people. We had 45 guests at our wedding.  From the beginning of our wedding planning, Aaron and I were both on the same page about wanting a small, intimate wedding.  We did not have a wedding party....we really just wanted it to be about US.  The people who  were at our wedding were our closest family and friends- and we were so honored they chose to spend a weekend with us, celebrating our marriage.  We had the best weekend together...hanging out at the hotel, having bonfires right on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and we danced the night away at our reception. SO thankful for all the special people who shared in our day with us!


Six.
This guy. Can't really fully explain how grateful I am for him.
3 years of full time school and work, 4 years of medical school,
 3 states and 4 different houses....

SO many laughs....
7 years of choosing each other...even when it was (and sometimes is) really hard...
FOUR beautiful babies in the last 7 years...

Being married to Aaron is an absolute gift.  SO thankful he is my husband.

Happy 7 years Babe...I will be by your side...always and forever.


I am linking up with DarciApril, Natasha and Christina for Five on Friday!

I am also linking up with Andrea and Erika for their Friday Favorites Link Up!

Also, joining Karli for her, Oh Hey Friday Link Up!


Random Thursday Ramblings....

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Well....I have no idea how it is Thursday already!?!  We just got back from visiting my parents yesterday...whenever I am out of our "regular" routine I literally lose track of the days!  It's kind of nice to check out every once and awhile :)

Sooo...our time at my parents' house went a little differently than we planned.  My oldest daughter got extremely sick Sunday night (threw up multiple times) and continued to be sick and have a fever for a full 48 hours.  I have never seen her that sick before :(  She did not get out of bed for 2 days straight minus to use the bathroom and take a bath at night.  We all felt so horrible for her!!  And the whole time she was sick, my mom and I were waiting on pins and needles to see if another one of my kids was going to get sick.  She finally started feeling a little bit better today but still is not 100% herself.  We just keep saying prayers she gets better and that the rest of my kids stay healthy!  So far, so good!
And on top of my daughter being sick, it got super cold and rainy.  What an awesome spring break! HA!  But despite the crappy weather and my daughter having a horrible stomach bug- it was so nice to be "home" for a couple of days.  My parents are so hospitable and are so great about embracing the crazy that comes with taking care of my crew.  They never flinch when a huge mess is made or if someone has a screaming fit.  They are pretty much the best and I am just really thankful for them!

Totally switching gears here...but I am thinking about getting something like this to wear this summer when I am running around with my kids.  I have seen other moms wear them and I think they look so cute!  I definitely have a little junk in my trunk...so I am wondering if this is something I could pull off?  I probably will order it and give it a try- can't beat Nordstrom's free shipping and returns!

Doesn't this recipe look delicious? What a great way to use leftovers from a pork roast!  Or you can use this recipe to make ahead oven roasted pork.  I love cooking a large piece of meat and then being able to use it in multiple meals!

I saw these sandals mentioned on another blog about a week or so ago and I just LOVE them! I own multiple pairs of Reef flip flops and they are SO comfortable- but I have heard equally great things about Havianas!  I may just have to try them out! :)

Sooo...I don't know about you- but right around 4 pm- I am dragging a little bit.  Usually I have a cup of coffee...but now that it is getting warmer- I am not always in the mood for a hot cup of coffee.  I found this at Meijer and it was love at first sip :)  I add one packet of stevia and a couple splashes of chocolate soy milk to the coffee with a few ice cubes and it is seriously perfection in a cup.  It doesn't take much to make me happy :)  

How has your week been going?? Anything to fun to share?
Hope you have a wonderful day!





Two All Time Favorite Recipes!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you are having a great week!
Today I am participating in Andrea's Recipe Club!

Today I am going to share two recipes that my mom made all while I was growing up.  She has passed them down to my sister and I and they are now staple recipes in our kitchens! Don't moms have the best recipes?!?

The first recipe I am sharing is our recipe for banana bread/muffins.  I know everyone has their favorite way to make it....but I really do think this is the best recipe I have found!  My kids and husband love these muffins and I usually always have some on hand in the freezer for easy breakfasts or an after school snack!  

These muffins would also be lovely to serve at an Easter Brunch!




The second recipe I am sharing is for Gooey Butter Cake.  I know in other parts of the country it is called something different...whatever you call it- it is DOWNRIGHT delicious!  This is such a great dessert because it is best served at room temperature after it has cooled for several hours.  It would be great at your Easter brunch or dinner! You could make it the night before and not have to worry about dessert in the midst of other preparations you have to make on Easter.  






Any recipes that you have that I need to try??
Hope you have a great day!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes....

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How about a little girl talk for today?

Ahhhh...the joy of being pregnant and all the changes that come along with it!!  So...when I was pregnant with my 4th baby I had some pretty funky changes happen to the pigmentation of my skin....with the biggest area being my upper lip.  UM. YEAH.  It looked considerably darker than the rest of my face and I was so self conscious about it!!  The term for it is melasma.  But, since I knew it was totally pregnancy related- I just did my best not to freak out about it.  And then when I had my squishy, chubby, adorable baby James...I decided my dark upper lip was totally worth the end product- HA! :)

Well...now that I am almost 9 months post-partum, the darkened skin has faded considerably- THANK GOODNESS.  But guess what has happened now??? 
The hair on my upper lip has gotten considerably darker and much more noticeable. UGH.  Every time I would ask my sweet husband if I needed to take care of my "situation" he would kindly say- "Babe- you don't have a mustache." OMG. Seriously?!? HA!
Anyway...it just really started to bother me, so I headed off to Ulta in search of an at home waxing product that I could easily use, that was not overly expensive and that took care of my "issue." 
I cornered a really sweet sales associate and she totally counseled me on several different options.  It was so nice to talk to someone who could refer me a good product but who also didn't make me feel like a weirdo! :)  
After a good 10 minute heart to heart, I left Ulta with these


I have used the wax strips twice and I am so happy with the results!  You warm the strips by just rubbing them in your hand to activate the wax...which is so convenient and nice not to have a mess!  All of my unwanted hair was removed with a swift pull of the wax strip and my skin was minimally irritated. The box of 24 strips (which can be cut to different sizes) is $12.99- but I used a $3.50 off coupon- so for $11 I will be able to wax multiple times versus paying $11 at a salon for just one visit.  If you are looking for an at home waxing product- this line has several different options and I would definitely recommend giving them a try!

Now your turn...any changes you have seen since being pregnant/postpartum?  How have you taken care of them?  Any great products you would recommend??

Hope you are having a great week!!

Some of Our Favorite Restaurants!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hi! Happy Monday! How was your weekend?  We had a great one!  We arrived at my parents' house Saturday morning and have been having so much fun!
I am going to skip my normal "Menu Plan Monday" post this week because we are out of town and I didn't need to plan a menu for the majority of the week! YAY!  

Instead, I thought I would share some of our favorite restaurants from the cities we have lived in over the past 10 years!  I am HUGE fan of the show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" and I would say those are the places my husband and I typically gravitate towards when we go out to eat.  We love to support local restaurants, pretty casual (but SUPER yummy) food and the funkier the joint- the better!  

Hodad's is located in San Diego, in the Ocean Beach neighborhood.  I lived in San Diego for a summer, my brother lives there and we got married there- so it is definitely one of our favorite cities!  Hodad's is a burger place, it is right by the ocean and it is SO fun.  Their burgers are HUGE and their onion rings are SO FREAKIN good.  They have a VW bus in the restaurant and you can sit in there and eat if you want!  It is super casual and has a very "Ocean Beach" vibe.  In my opinion- this is a must try place if you are in San Diego....grab a burger, some onion rings and a cocktail...then afterwards go for a walk on the beach. PERFECT evening in my book!



Aaron is a born and raised Texan :)  He grew up in Houston, but spent 7 years living in Austin going to college and then working.  That is where we met :)  You can read about our story here! One of our absolute favorite spots in Austin is 219 West.  It was our "go-to" date night spot!  They have an awesome happy hour...including all of their "American Tapas" half price.  The food is fancy casual (does that make sense at all?!?) and the vibe is super chill and very cool.  It is downtown, but very accessible to the Town Lake trail if you wanted to go for a walk after dinner.  Or you could just stay downtown and go check out some other fun bars in the area :)  Either way- I would totally recommend checking out 219 West if you are in Austin!  Totally wish I could be transported there right now for a date night with my hubby!

Chuy's is another one of our favorites.  There are Chuy's all over Texas, some in Arkansas, there is even one 10 minutes away from our house here in the Indianapolis suburbs!!  But the ORIGINAL Chuy's is in Austin.  While all the Chuy's are decorated really funky and are very eclectic....they lack the charm and grit the original location has :)  With that being said, the brand new Chuy's by our house serves the same DELICIOUS food they are serving at the original location in Austin.  The food is Tex Mex and it is SO DARN GOOD.  Ever since leaving Texas, we have not been able to find really good Tex Mex....I about died when we spotted the Chuy's here in Indianapolis!!!  It is definitely hands down one of our favorite places to eat...it is so fun...the food is ALWAYS good and it has a great atmosphere that is very forgiving of loud, rambunctious, precious young children :)


We lived in a Cleveland suburb for 4 1/2 years while my husband was attending medical school.  Shortly after we moved there, we asked a friend for a recommendation for lunch for our 2 year wedding anniversary and she demanded we go to Melt Bar and Grill. OH MY.  This place is AWESOME!  The whole menu revolves around grilled sandwiches.  They are huge and delicious and they have the craziest combinations.  My favorite item on the menu?  Their homemade ranch dressing.  It is SO good.  I may or may not have had my husband buy it for me in numerous containers when I was pregnant with our 3rd and 4th baby :)  There are several locations in the Cleveland area, with the original location being in the super cute neighborhood of Lakewood.  True to form for us...this place is really funky and a ton of fun!  You MUST go here if you are in the Cleveland area and looking for a great place to eat!!


Just recently, my husband and I went on our first date since we had our little James and we went to Bubba's 33.  There are a couple other locations of this restaurant in North Carolina, Albuquerque and a couple locations opening up in Texas soon.  The claim to fame for Bubba's is their burger that is made with 33% bacon.  Um. YEAH.  It is a darn good burger.  I am not even a huge meat eater and I couldn't stop taking bites of my husband's burger!  We ordered their onion rings as a side to share and I have to say they were the best onions rings I have ever had.  The batter was super light, they were very crispy and the onions were cooked perfectly.  The atmosphere is very casual- but really fun.  A lot of people were there watching sports and it seemed like a great place to go for happy hour or with a big group.  If you live in the Indianapolis area- you should totally check out Bubba's!


So that is my short list of fun, funky, casual restaurants we have really loved. One of the things my husband and I want to do once our kids get a little older and we are able to travel more is go and visit places featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.  Three of my favorite things to do- explore new cities, hang with my husband and EAT :)  

Now your turn- what are some of your all time favorite restaurants?  
Any reading from the Indianapolis area that has any suggestions of places we need to try??




5 on Friday!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday is here and we are excited!!  I hope you have had a great week and a wonderful weekend ahead of you!!

I am linking up again with DarciApril and Natasha for Five on Friday!


I am also linking up with Andrea and Erika for their Friday Favorites Link Up!


ONE
I decorated around our house for Easter and I am loving our cheerful shelves! 
My girls especially love the sparkly bunnies :)

TWO
Since the weather has gotten warmer we have been going on a lot of walks and runs.  We push our youngest daughter and baby boy in our BOB Revolution Duallie Stroller- it seriously is such an awesome stroller!  It turns so easily and pushes so smoothly!  It is a big investment- but if you are looking for a great double stroller- I would definitely check out the BOB!


THREE
We had so much fun celebrating Saint Patrick's Day! The girls loved the treats I made them- green (white chocolate flavored) pretzels and green, rainbow chips cookies.  We had green pancakes, green yogurt and green milk for dinner.  Pretty sure we met our yearly quota of artificial food coloring! HA!  

FOUR
I was SO SO sad when Parenthood ended. SO SAD.  I absolutely loved that show.  Anyway...my husband and I took about a year break from watching Grey's Anatomy, but for the past couple weeks we have been watching it again.  I am totally back into it!  I definitely miss Christina not being on the show anymore...but totally dying to know what is going to happen next week between Meredith and Derek!

FIVE
My two oldest daughters are on Spring Break all of next week and we are soo excited!  We will be going on a little trip to my parents' house and then spending the second half of the week just hanging out at home.  It is going to be so nice to have a break from the early morning school routine and to just have an open schedule!  My girls have asked "can we go to the store to spend our $1 Papa gave us?" and "Can we please please please go to Chick Fil A?"  
I think we can make both of those things happen :)

Happy Friday!!

Random Thoughts on a Thursday

Thursday, March 19, 2015

We are sooo close to the weekend!  Almost there!  How has your week been going?  


Have you heard of this blog?  Totally obsessed with her beautiful photography, healthy, delicious and EASY recipes.  Seriously- you could spend hours looking through all of her recipes!!

How cute is this romper?? It is so versatile and could be worn in the Fall and Winter with a cardigan and tights underneath it..Spring and Summer- just on it's own!  If you have a friend who is having a baby girl- you need to get this for her!!

Am I the only one who has just had the biggest shift in my mood since the sun has been shining more and the temperatures have been warmer??!?  I am so much more motivated to get stuff done around the house, I have had such easier time eating healthy and have been able to stay much more patient in the midst of crazy kid chaos.  That's it.  I am moving to Hawaii :)

I have a confession: my 7 year wedding anniversary is at the end of this month and do you want to know where my gorgeous wedding dress is located??  In a TRASH BAG.  Still NOT cleaned.  Missing several beautiful beaded buttons.  In a moving box in the back of my closet.  I just can't bring myself to spend the $$$ I know it is going to cost to clean it!!  So...in the trash bag in the moving box in the closet it stays :)  I will just look at my wedding album if I need a wedding dress fix!

My kids and I are going to spend a few days at my parents' house for Spring Break...my girls are crazy excited because Baba and Papa (my parents) are their favorite people in the whole entire world...and I am excited because I get to watch HGTV & Food Network as well as get a break from cleaning up the kitchen after meal time.  It is a win-win for all of us! HA!  Seriously though- there is just something about "going home."  I just love it :)

Can you believe how fast this year is already flying by??  I am making a conscientious effort to truly savor every moment...the good, the not so pretty and everything in between.  I don't want to miss any of it!

Makeup Basics I am Loving

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

About 8 years ago, my sister started selling Avon.  I placed an order to support her new little business, but ended up falling in love with Avon's products.  She has since stopped selling Avon, but I  have continued to order several beauty basics from them on a regular basis!
Also- Avon is always having sales and promotions on their products- I never buy anything unless it is on sale!  

(P.S. this post is NOT sponsored by Avon :)  I just wanted to share with you my personal experience of using their products because I really do think they are great!)

This is my favorite mascara.  Hands down.  It makes my lashes super full and thick.  I have used a lot of other mascaras and always come back to this one! Right now it is on sale for $4.99!! Such a steal!
I am loving this blush!  This is a new purchase for me and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, since it is a cream based blush versus the traditional powder blush I am used to using.  I am so glad I ordered it because I love it!  It is SO light, the color is so pretty and it blends really well.  If you are thinking about trying a cream blush...I would highly recommend giving this one a try!  
 This pressed powder is great!  It provides very nice coverage- but doesn't look cakey at all.  I have used A LOT of pressed powders in my many years of makeup wearing and I prefer this one over all of the top brands you can find at Target or Walmart.

Hands down- this chapstick is my absolute favorite.  I order several at a time and I have them all over my house and several in my van :)  I can't STAND feeling like my lips are chapped...but I also hate feeling like I have goop all over them.  Kind of high maintenance, aren't I?!  But seriously- this chapstick has a very light, pleasant smell, glides on so smooth and really moisturizes your lips.  These are also nice to give as a little gift!   I like to send a friend, my mom or sister a "thinking of you" note and include one of these chapsticks and a cute pair of earrings- what a fun little package! 
 You should definitely order a couple of these!!

Have you ever ordered any products from Avon?  
Do you have any favorites to recommend?  
 
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