Post Thanksgiving Day Wrap Up

As you may know I have a pretty big family. I’m the 7th of 8 kids, were all adults now, most of us are married and have kids of our own. So when we all get together it’s pretty loud and a little chaotic, but in the best possible way. Being number 7 the large group of people and chaos is all I’ve ever known, and I’ve always known that eventually that group would makes it’s way into my house for some event. This year it was Thanksgiving!

I have to admit I was a little bit stressed out hosting my big family for Thanksgiving. Not because I didn’t think they would fit in my house or because I was worried about that many people being over. But because I have NEVER cooked a turkey before! And all of the sudden the rookie was being called in to start at the Super bowl! When my sister in law hosted Thanksgiving for the first time my mom still made the turkey and brought it with her, but this year she just didn’t have the energy to do it. She gave me detailed instructions and my dad gave me his electric roasting oven to cook it in, but I was pretty sure I was going to ruin it!

Plus my hubby found earlier this year that he has a lot of food allergies, and one of them is turkey! So I knew that I needed to do something else for him. We decided on a ham and while we were deciding what kind of recipe to use for it we found a whole bunch of fun new dishes that we thought we would like to try. So I still gave out all the usual food assignments (rolls, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, Jello, sweet potatoes, green salad and a veggie tray, and of course pies) to my siblings and decided to add in a few extra dishes myself.

So I got up so early the sun hadn’t even thought of coming up yet and quickly discovered there was nothing I could do yet because my fridge was too full to make anything else! After a few hours of inventing things to do with myself and checking and rechecking that my house was ready, I finally got started.

Following my mom’s instructions I gave the turkey a very thorough butter massage and stuffed it with the stuffing that I made at her house the day before. Dropped it into the roaster and got started with everything else. First up was this awesome recipe that we found for Slow Cooker Cinnamon and Sugar- Glazed Carrots. That was easy enough as the first step to cooking those is put carrots in the slow cooker with some butter and cook for 4 hours. When they are done cooking you add the glaze and they turned out amazing!

Next up was this recipe for Italian Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Potatoes. As I already had someone bringing mashed potatoes I didn’t make a ton of these, which turned out to be a mistake because they were a big hit! I used golden potatoes which are a little smaller and washing, peeling and cutting those were what actually took me the longest. Since they only take an hour to cook though I was able to get them all ready and just set aside until I was ready to put them in the oven.

Next came the ham. I just bought a ham at Costco, which comes with a glaze packet to use. But we decided to set that aside and instead use this Baked Ham with Pineapple Brown Sugar Glaze. The glaze took a lot longer to cook me a lot longer than the recipe said (I’m sure because I was super distracted and probably didn’t follow the directions to the letter). But once it was ready to go onto the ham, man did it smell delicious! I got the ham glazed and put in to the oven and discovered I actually had a little while still left.

 

So I decided to frost some sugar cookies that I had made the day before with this delicious Pumpkin Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. I was still frosting those when one of my brothers arrived and accused me of trying to sneak vegetables in to the dessert! I was innocent this time, but eventually I think I am going to give that a try just to mess with him!

After everything was just about ready and almost my entire family had arrived, I discovered that I had forgotten to make the gravy! Luckily we still had a little while for the turkey to finish and I was able to get it made and ready just in time! And the turkey turned out perfectly.

Just to top off our amazing dinner, I made a special dessert for my cute hubby and my awesome Daddy. They are both big fans of Banana Cream pie, but there aren’t a lot of other fans in our family, so they don’t get any very often. Knowing how much they like it though I found this tasty recipe for The Best Banana Pudding Ever according to the blog that posted it. 😉 I have to admit that it is pretty darn delicious and I’m not usually a fan of Banana Cream!

I am lucky my mom is such a good cook and spent so many years teaching me how to be one as well, even if I was reluctant on occasion. Thanksgiving turned out great and I loved having my house filled to the brim with this amazing family of mine!

How did your Thanksgiving turn out? I would love to see any recipes you used that I could add to next years menu!

Lots of Love

Tawna

 

This entry was posted in Recipes.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Every holiday seems to have a whole variety of traditions depending on your family and now with Pinterest every mom has more holiday ideas than they have time or patience to put in to practice. So my plan is to take my favorite ones from my family and add to them with little touches from the hubby’s family and any thing I can’t resist from Pinterest. (Which is sadly a lot!)

For Halloween, my mom has always made homemade chili, homemade breadsticks and pumpkin cookies with buttercream frosting and chocolate chips. It’s a huge hit with most of my siblings. But being the “picky” kid I didn’t really love all those things. My brother has taken over the Halloween chili making, which is just fine with me. The cookies are more where I shine anyway. I like my mom’s pumpkin cookies but they are super pumpkiny (that’s a word, right?) so I can really only manage one before I am pumpkined (also a word?) out.

pumpkin-cream-cheese-frosting

So I got the idea to make just regular sugar cookies and have a pumpkin frosting instead. I felt that the best way to achieve that would be to mix it with a cream cheese frosting. My cream cheese frosting recipe is pretty straight forward and I originally thought that just adding a small can of pumpkin to the frosting would work fine. Luckily for me (and my frosting!), I am not the first person to think that pumpkin cream cheese frosting sounded delicious and there were a few recipes I could compare mine to before I added that whole can of pumpkin!

pumpkin-cream-cheese-frosting-decorating

After comparing recipes with a few others I was able to make a few adjustments and I think I came up with a pretty great one that is great for Halloween, Thanksgiving or any fall event that has you craving the pumpkin goodness!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

8 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)

1/2 C butter (softened)

4 1/2 C powdered sugar

1/4 C canned pumpkin

1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions

Beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy.

Add pumpkin and cinnamon until well blended.

Add powdered sugar slowly until desired consistency.

(I used the whole 4 1/2 cups when spreading on cookies, but only 4 cups when piping with cake decorating kit.)

Candy Making for Days

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Follow your passion”. I had heard it about a million times, and every time it was followed up with confusion and desperation. What was my passion? How are you supposed to follow your passion if you have no idea what it is? Follow that phrase up with “write what you know” or “do what you are good at” and I was a puddle of confusion!

I’ve followed plenty of things I thought that I could be good at, but they just weren’t it. When it finally came to me, it seemed completely ridiculous that I had never realized it before.

My grandma and my mom started teaching me to bake and make candy before I can even remember. It was so much apart of my childhood, teen and even adult life that it didn’t occur to me that this beautiful art and skill that I had been learning my whole life was something special. Not only was it special, it was something that I love doing! I loved making caking candy with my mom, grandma and sister and loved baking even by myself.

I got my sister on board and we have been making candy around the clock ever since. Working through a few set backs I have LOVED every second of it. The two of us working together, even going up to my mom’s to work with my mom and Grandma a few times, all leading up to a great taste testing party to help us perfect our craft and start our business. I am so excited about the direction that we are heading in and I can’t wait to share our candy with the world!

 

Life is a Journey

My goal with my blog has always been to take you on a journey with me. Life has so many twists and turns and can take us in so many directions, that a lot of times we can forget which direction we are traveling. I haven’t always been the best at sharing when my journey is taking me in a direction that I can’t understand, or when things aren’t going the way that I planned. That happens a lot, and I end up getting large gaps of times when I don’t post anything at all, and sadly that means that no one can benefit from any knowledge I gain through those unplanned turns in life.

The last couple of year have had a lot of them. After having my adorable boys and having my dream of being a mother come true, I realized that being a Mom wasn’t the only thing I had in me to give. I love being a mother and it has gotten more and more rewarding as they have grown. I also love a lot of other things and have a lot of skills that I know that I can share with the world, writing being just one of them. In the first year of my blog I did a lot of crafty things and shared a few recipes, and while I enjoyed them all I struggled to figure out what direction I really wanted to go. I was also on a path to losing weight and getting healthier and a lot of the recipes that I was making were not a part of that plan. So after finding Beachbody and deciding to become a health and fitness coach I just couldn’t justify a lot of those activities. But what I discovered after that was what really surprised me, I wasn’t happy cutting those things out of my life. I felt that I was in a constant battle with myself over the things that I wanted to do compared to the things that I should do.

The problem with that is that we have this one life and it is meant to be lived fully and to truly enjoy it! So if you are in a constant fight with yourself you really aren’t living up to that potential that you have. It has taken a LOT of self reflection and more than a few tears while I have really tried to figure out what it is that I want to make of my life in addition to being a mom. I think I have finally figured some of it out and I feel really excited about the direction that I am choosing to go in now.

So be prepared for some new directions, and some familiar directions. I still love healthy eating and believe that daily exercise is critical for our well being, so I am still going to be sharing health tips and running online support groups to help with health and fitness. I also have been blessed with an amazing mother and grandmother who taught me (and continue to teach) an abundance of amazing skills in the kitchen and that is my happy place, so homemade cookies, candies, treats and delicious food will be coming back in to my life as well, because life is about balance.

I’m excited for the directions that I am headed in and I can’t wait to share this next part of my journey with you!

Lots of Love

Tawna

Salsa Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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I love cooking! But when it comes to deciding what to make, that’s where I struggle!

So I have a few go to recipes that I love to pull out when I can’t think of something or I just need something quick, like this recipe for Salsa Chicken.

It is so easy!

Salsa Chicken

*2 chicken breasts, chopped
          ~ or 2 cans of chicken (if you are really in a hurry)
*1 cup of salsa

Sautee in frying pan until cooked through.

So easy, right?!

I serve it with salad usually, but you could make it in to tacos or burritos or anyway you like.

I also love to have it with 2 Tbsp of Sabra Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and RW Garcia 3 Seed Sweet Potato Crackers. Both of which I found at Costco.
(This is not a sponsored post,  I just like sharing when I find really delicious things!)

I find all those flavors just compliment each other so well, and it makes a quick and easy meal. 

Enjoy!

Why you should marry a GEEK

When I was a young teenager, I got some advice from a family friend.

“You should marry a geek.”

At the time it didn’t seem that relevant to me, as I hadn’t even started dating yet. But as I discovered much later, her advice not only helped to shape the qualities I looked for in my now hubby, it also shaped the qualities I wanted to develop in myself and pass on to my children.

You see, she went on to explain that she had just had a conversation with her own heartbroken “geek” son, after he had been turned down for a date with a girl because she said that he was a geek. While consoling him she was able to see quite clearly that the qualities that made him geeky were actually the things that would eventually make him an amazing husband and father.

Here is the list that she gave to him and then later shared with me.

Geeks are smart.

They never back down from a problem they don’t know the answer to. They use their intelligence to work out a solution.

They are hard working.

They are open to millions of possibilities, and even multiple answers to the same question.

While it may not always be obvious, they are surprisingly strong. Emotionally, mentally and even physically.

Often times, having been picked on themselves at some point, they are incredibly compassionate and loving.

Steve rogers

(Just ask Cap.)

They are incredibly loyal to the people they feel understand them.

They are passionate about the subjects that interest them.

lego fight 2

They aren’t afraid to be different.

Death Star Cake

 

They have skills other people need.

They have incredible confidence in those skills and in themselves in return.

They know how important support is, so they give support freely to those they love.

They usually have the best hearts.

Just in case all those things weren’t enough, chances are pretty high that they’ll make a lot of money! 😀 (While she said this half-jokingly, it is usually true. If you look in the media and see these young hot women marrying old rich men, they were usually geeks of some kind who made a ton of money when they were younger!)

 

Little did I know, that same year I met the “geek” who became my friend, then my confidant, and eventually my amazing husband. He has every one of these qualities and has passed them on to our 2 sons as well. Between the 3 of them, they increase my own geeky knowledge everyday (Star Wars and comic book characters may as well actually live in our house for how often we talk about them!)

DarthVader

They also help to strengthen those qualities in me as well.

So now I am firm believer that given the choice, you should always choose the geek!  

Chewy

Ray of Light

Some days are hard for no other reason than that they are hard. Sometimes there are perfectly legitimate reasons for them to be hard: our hormones have decided to have an anti feminist rally, our children have suddenly decided that everything you say is completely wrong and they would rather scream like a fire engine parked at your dinner table rather than eat one bite of the sandwich that they asked for 2 minutes earlier, you couldn’t stop reading your increasingly exciting new novel until 2 in the morning (who am I kidding, it was 10.) and now you can’t seem to keep your eyes open while your toddler tells you about the rock he found for the 13th time, until of course said toddler pries your eyes open with his tiny muddy fingers.

Those hard days can be dark, lonely, confusing and extremely frustrating, as you look out across the darkness and can’t seem to see what direction you are headed. It can feel so tempting just to sit down and stop fighting against the darkness that seems to pull us deeper and deeper into our downward spiral of mommy rage and self-focused negativity.

Those are also the days that bring on the most glorious sunrises, if we can catch that first glimpse of light and hold on to it. The tiny “I love you, mommy” whispered from the back seat of the car by an almost asleep child, the gentle hand on your shoulder of a stranger who tells you everything is going to be OK when they see you struggling in the grocery store, the perfect song that comes on the radio just before you were about to turn it off, the muddy toddler who curls up in your lap and takes a nap with you because he knows that together you can take on any challenge – even an afternoon nap.

Hookedwithlove ray of light

If this message happens to find you on one of those dark days, know that is was meant to find you for a reason. It is the first ray of light reaching out to touch you so that you can see that glorious sunrise. You are not alone. It’s a new dawn, and everything is going to be OK.

Lots of Love,

Tawna

Clean Oatmeal Banana Bread

Clean Oatmeal Banana Bread

This Sh*t is Bananas… B A N A N A S

I seriously LOVE bananas.  I will admit, though, that I am a little picky. I only want to eat them when they are a little bit green. Once they start getting too ripe I don’t want them anymore, until they are over ripe and then they are perfect for banana bread and I love them again!

My mom has always made the BEST banana bread. It’s the kind of bread that I dream about, especially in the fall! This year, trying to be healthier on a day to day basis I decided I was going to try to find a recipe that was a little healthier.

Of course I turned to Pinterest, and found TONS of recipes that all looked amazing! So I picked a few and decided to just start trying some!

This one from Body Rock was one of my favorites! I had to look up some measurement conversions, and I adjusted a couple of things… which could be why it didn’t look anything like hers did, but it sure tasted delicious!

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup of mashed RIPE bananas or 3 bananas

3 eggs

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp pink Himalayan salt

3 Tbsp cinnamon

3 cups oats

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mash the ripe bananas in a large bowl
  3. Add in eggs and oil, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Add in oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, continuously mixing.
  5. Pour into a bread loaf pan, greased with coconut oil
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Banana Bread Slice

Most other baked goods recipes that I have tried there is rarely more than a teaspoon or 2 of cinnamon so when this one called for 3 tablespoons, I was pretty surprised and a little worried that I had read it wrong! But it was super tasty! I served it hot (or even reheated for a few seconds) and it was really great! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

 

Game Changer

In my last post I was talking about how I started my blogging journey and my weight loss journey at the same time. I had a little success in both and let fear stop me dead in my tracks! A blog that I liked following started a month long challenge to lose 10 pounds, so in an effort to get that area of my life under control I decided to go for it. I weighed myself, took my measurements, took before pictures and wrote everything down on a poster board in my closet.

06012014 hwl

Next to that I wrote down the goal of losing 10 pounds and what weight that would be. My hubby being so supportive decided he would start exercising with me. He found some Insanity workouts and decided he would start with those. Since I was WAY more out of shape then him I decided I would start with something MUCH less intense. I found some 10 minute trainers and committed to doing 2 of them per day.

10_min_trainer_logo

I was trying, which was far more than I had done in the past but I wasn’t really seeing a lot of results. Mike’s fitness was improving a lot faster than mine was. Talk about frustrating! I know that he has a faster metabolism than I do, and he was doing a lot more in his workouts and frankly was putting in more effort than I was… but that did not stop me from being irrationally angry at him when I was standing on the scale seeing the same number over and over again! Didn’t this scale know that it was supposed to go down every time I stepped on it! Even if I only stepped on it 4 minutes ago…. it’s magically supposed to be working because I thought about losing weight! That’s all it takes right, RIGHT?! Damn you scale!

Needless to say I wasn’t making much sense or progress! Somehow Mike didn’t run away from my craziness, and managed to convince me that I should step it up in the workout department and try something harder. So I started doing a couple workouts from Chalene Johnson’s Turbo Fire.

turbo fire

She was not my cup of tea! She had so much energy and pep and kept yelling at me to give it my all and then give a little more. Even though I was almost in tears from working harder than ever and jumping around my living room like a crazy person, she just kept yelling at me to keep going! I wanted to throw my shoes at the TV! But rather than give up, AGAIN, I decided that I just had to keep going.

One day I was on Facebook, killing time, and a post appeared in my time line (that to this day, I cannot explain!) from this cute girl, that I didn’t know and had no friends in common with, about being a health and fitness coach. She was talking about this group she was starting explaining what she did as a coach, and it totally got my attention. Maybe I needed a coach! Someone that could help me figure out what I needed to do and point me in the right direction of what would work for me. So I sent her a message…and a beautiful thing happened! I made one of the best friends that I could ask for and received an answer to every prayer that I was asking! She started coaching me and we started the Insanity program full out.

Insanity state of mind

Oh My Gosh! What was I thinking?! This was SO HARD! I thought I was actually dying! I didn’t even make it through the fitness test without feeling like I had already failed and this was the craziest thing I had ever done! But there was Mike encouraging me, cheering me on from the kitchen while he was making dinner for our kids. How could I give up now?

The 2 months that followed were indeed Insane! We made no excuses for ourselves and worked out every single day, even saying no to social engagements and working out on my birthday. And do you know what happened? I lost NO weight! What the crap?! The good news, my body was completely different!

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My shape and changed, I had toned, I had lost tons of inches! But there was that stupid scale taunting me! Why haven’t I broken that thing yet?

Luckily my coach had the answer…

Shakeology

Shakeology to the rescue! I started drinking that and my body suddenly realized what had been missing! By the end of the program I was 10 pounds and 8 inches overall down! It was a miracle!!! I felt amazing and decided I had to share that amazingness all over the place…

birthday dress hookedwithlove

Enter Beachbody coaching! Game Changer!

Where it started

I have had my blog for about three years now. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone! I was a stay at home mommy and nanny. I was very over weight and unhappy. I loved my life, my hubby and kids, even my “extra” kids but I was very unhappy with myself. I never took time to take care of myself, I ate terribly and ended up feeding my family terribly too. My kiddos LOVE Mac and Cheese, and I let them eat it ALL the time. I had a very strange skewed view of what it meant to be a stay at home mom. (And I’m not even sure where most of the ideas came from!) In order to make myself feel more useful I baked cookies a LOT! It was very delicious, but not at all healthy.

before pic

In an effort to use my mind a little more often, use the writing skills that I had learned in the little bit of college that I did and finally get a little healthier, I decided to start my blog. I signed up for Weight Watchers and wrote my first blog post. All about how I was going to take control of that area of my life and how I just knew that the weight was just going to MELT away!

That’s not what happened!

I stuck with my points for a few months and did lose some weight, but I hadn’t really changed what I was eating, just the amount. I did pay closer attention to what I was eating and when. So if i ate 3 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies for breakfast than I knew I had to be much more conservative the rest of the day. At least it was a starting point. I did eat a lot of salad, which I really did enjoy. I particularly loved all the toppings to make the salad that much better. Barbeque Chicken Salads with black beans, corn, tortilla chips, sun flower seeds, chicken, barbeque sauce and ranch dressing. Somewhere under all that was some lettuce – though how there was room after all that I don’t know! As well as many other varieties of salads all covered in toppings and doused in ranch. I did switch to fat free ranch to try to save myself some points. Because I was eating a salad I automatically assumed I was eating healthy and then would be frustrated if I didn’t lose any weight that day.

Even though I clearly had so much to learn about eating healthy, it did work a little bit. I lost about 20 pounds. It was a very good place for me to start learning about how to pay attention to what I was eating and keeping track of all the things that I wanted to eat through out the entire day.

family 2012

I gained some weight back and lost some again. I yo yo-ed like that for a while. Eventually losing close to 40 lbs. But it seemed like I could never break that 40 pound mark. And although I had lost an impressive amount already, I didn’t feel any better because to me my body still looked the same. I still had the same rolls and flabby skin. Even when my pants were too big I still had a muffin top, my post baby belly still looked pouchy, and despite the weight loss my boobs were still the same size! (I know that doesn’t seem like a problem to some people, but it REALLY was for me!)

belly

I kept writing my blog, but after that first post about joining weight watchers, I didn’t write about my weight loss again. I couldn’t talk about something that I felt I was failing at, even though I was clearly losing weight. I turned my blog into somewhere that I wrote about crafts, recipes and of course my kiddos. And I started following all kinds of blogs of that variety for inspiration. Then I decided to take a leap of faith and went to a blogging conference, where there were tons of bloggers and so many amazing inspiring stories. It truly was a great experience, that I let paralyze me from fear. I almost immediately stopped blogging. I had such huge ideas and vision for what I could make my blog, but lacked the confidence and faith in myself to put the work into making that happen. I kept watching other bloggers, reading their blogs getting little pieces of inspiration along the way.

One of those blogs did a June fitness challenge, and I thought once again here was one part of my life that I could control. So I decided that I would participate. I took all my measurements and weighed myself and wrote it all down on a poster board in my closet. I started out on June 1st doing a 10 minute trainer everyday…

 

…. Stay tuned for the rest of this story…