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

image

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

What sisters do

Well I am off to my first ever blog conference! I am totally freaking out! I am really excited and super nervous! When I get back I will tell you all about it! In the meantime, I am really excited to introduce you to my big sister, Taralyn! I have mentioned before that I have a LOT of siblings (7, to be exact!), but I only have one sister. We haven’t always gotten along but we have always tried to support each other. Even though sometimes our support of each other isn’t exactly what you would expect. Once again we are supporting each other here on this blog. I have been wanting to add another person to contribute new, fun ideas and she jumped at the chance. So here she is to tell you a little more about herself and the fun things that she has in store.

Hi, Where to start? Since Tawna has told you a little about our family growing up, there is no need to start at the beginning.

I just turned 35, I just celebrated 15 years of marriage, and I have 2 fantastic kids.  My little Peanut- who currently wants to be a pop star and ballerina, is 9, and my Monkey is a wild 7 year old boy.

Family hwl

I ran an in home daycare for 2 years. I love to crochet, cook, make candy, read, eat, and spend time with my family. I enjoy the outdoors, camping, walking, and sometimes bike riding. I want to learn to sew. I know the basics, and as a teenager I took a sewing class and made part of a dress. I am trying to teach myself, with a little bit of help from my long distance mother in law and from my own Mom. I LOVE wood painting, and have recently begun some new projects I can’t wait to share with you.

Shelves and Blankets

I am a co-leader to my daughter’s girl scout troop and currently work full time. Being a busy mom, I am always trying out new ways to keep our house organized, clean and running smoothly. Believe me I have found a lot of ways that don’t work. Like most women the scale is my worst enemy and my treadmill is something that I have very passionate and mixed feelings about. I would like to SOMEDAY run a half or maybe even a full marathon- But right now I can’t even run a mile. (I have always heard you should Dream big) I can’t wait to share my journey and my projects with all of you, and I would love to hear your comments and suggestions for future projects.

Taralyn

Spring time planting

I know for a lot of my friends that live farther East, there is still a lot of snow on the ground and torturing your dreams of spring time (I’m very sorry about that!), but here is Utah spring has sprung! I am so excited about it! I LOVE the spring(Except for my terrible seasonal allergies that plague my life)!

Springtimeindisney

This spring my hubby and I decided we needed to have a lovely outside oasis for us to escape to after we came home from work. Now some of you may know that my back yard, if you can call it that, is about the size of a postage stamp! So I wasn’t really sure how to get the beautiful spring time flowers that I wanted. So after some serious looking around, we decided that we should hang some flower boxes on our back fence and add some hanging baskets to our . It turned out wonderfully!

We went to Home Depot to pick out our planters and started gathering a bunch of flowers that stood out to us. Now my word of caution when picking out flowers is, it is SO important to know the area that you are going to be planting them. How much sun will it receive everyday? That is the biggest problem that we have in our little yard. Our yard is southern facing and there is next to zero shade. So our flowers and plants get the sun ALL DAY! From sun up to sun down they are in the sun (and so is our house!), so we have to pick out plants that are full sun plants. Even then some plants can’t survive through the hot summer.

Garden

We got some Miracle Grow potting soil to put in all our planters and got started planting.

planting

When taking a plant out of it’s pot that it comes in, it’s important to break up the root ball a bit so that they can start to grow in their new home.

planting2

Most plants come with care instructions to let you know how i of a whole that it needs and how often to water it. As long as you follow those guidelines, your new plant should start to grow. Now I am not claiming to have a green thumb, because honestly, most of the plants I have had in the house have died! So I am really hoping that our beautiful back yard oasis stays alive and looking beautiful!

barrel  pink flower Desert flowers

How is your spring going? Are you planting new things around the yard or just enjoying the flowers you see when you drive down the street?

Lots of Love,

Tawna

Vacation Inspiration

This last month I was really lucky to have the opportunity to go on a cruise with my husband and my in-laws to the Caribbean. We went to five different islands and each one of them were so unique and beautiful! I was humbled and inspired by each one of them and the people that I met there. I have never traveled out of the country before and I really haven’t done that much traveling even around the country. So I have to admit that I have definitely been in a bubble. It’s easy to get in your daily routine and not really think too much about the people outside of your immediate area and feel disconnected from the poverty that you hear about or see on the news.

HookedwithLovecuise2

Our first island that we went to was St Croix, it is a US Virgin island and I had no idea what to expect. The hubby and I got off the ship early to walk around and see what the port was like. Our first impression was that the island was beautiful! We were stunned. The gorgeous blue water, and white sandy beach.

Hookedwithlovecruise

Right behind the beach was a beautiful little town with old historic buildings and an old military fort from the 1700’s. Quite a few of the locals had set up tables filled with jewelry and clothing they were selling. Hubby and I walked down a little path next to the ocean and watched little crabs scurry off the sidewalks and back into the water.

Hookedwithlovecrabs

We were fascinated by the buildings that are all old and many have historic plaques on the front telling the stories of the buildings and all the history that they were apart of.

hookedwithlovehouse

I could go on and on about the things that we saw (like a 300 year old cannon that was rusting on the shore line!),

Hookedwithlovecannon

or the beautiful plants that we learned about, or over all how beautiful the island was. Believe it or not, this wasn’t even my favorite of the five islands that we went to, but it was where I got my first glimpse into a different life and received my first piece of humble pie for the trip, and received my first dose of inspiration to be a better person.

We hired a taxi driver named Gwendolyn, who was a native to St. Croix, to give us a tour of the island. Even though it is the biggest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the population has dropped considerably in the last few years. They used to have a large aluminum factory, that was put out of business due to a law suit. They had the second largest oil refinery in the country that was recently shut down putting thousands of people out of work and leaving a good portion of the island looking like a ghost town. Most of the people there live in small homes, many of which are very run down. They live a much simpler, slower paced life than most people I know. And everyone I met was happy. Sometimes outrageously happy! I am certain that everyone has bad days no matter where they live, but I didn’t meet one person who wasn’t happy to see us.

As Gwendolyn drove us around telling us about her island, and her experiences growing up there, (She used to eat turtle eggs that she gathered off the beach, until they became an endangered species!) I was in awe of the knowledge that she had to share with us. She told us about so many plants that grow on the island that if made into tea or used for medicines helped with nearly every illness, which inspired me to try a healthier view toward eating and natural medicines.

Hookedwithlovetree

She also told us that despite the fact that she had lived on the island her whole life and very rarely traveled for fun, she volunteers with the American Red Cross and they had sent her to many different locations to help others when in need. While it probably doesn’t seem like that big of a sacrifice to her, it struck me as amazing! Here I was living a much more lavish lifestyle than she had in her entire life and she was giving of herself on a regular basis to people who needed help. What was I doing to help other people? Other than contributing to the economy of the island of St. Criox, not a whole lot!

Even though that was the first day of our trip and we saw many more things and met many more people, who all inspired me. Her experiences with the Red Cross stuck out to me more than most. As soon as we got back to our home sweet home I started looking into volunteer opportunities around my neck of the woods. I don’t want to be in my bubble unaware of the world any longer, and I definitely feel it is time for me to give back.

I would love to hear what sort of things you do to give back. Do you volunteer? Do you donate to charity?

hookedwithlovebesthubby

Lots of Love , Tawna

 

Super Woman

I want to introduce you to the most important woman in my life, my Mom.

My mom Hookedwithlove

Her name is Cheryl. She is the oldest of four kids and grew up surrounded by family. She lived on the same property as her grandparents, so her many aunts, uncles and cousins were around all the time. She loved having a huge family and wanted to have 12 kids of her own.

She met my dad when she was in high school and they fell and love and got married while they were very young. Lots of people tell you these days that getting married young is a mistake, but her Grandpa told her that he thought she was doing it right. By getting married young they got to grow and change together. While she didn’t end up having 12 kids, her and my dad did bring 8 bundles of joy into the world. She had five boys in a row before getting a little girl. By that time no one believed she would ever get a girl and actually thought my dad was joking when he said my sister had been born. They took a little break after they had her and waited almost six years before I surprised them. A couple years later they gave me a little brother to play with and decided that 8 was enough!

my family hookedwithlove

Even when I was a little girl I knew that she was amazing for raising six boys and two girls! She is very soft spoken and even though she never really yelled we definitely knew when we were in trouble! Her mother taught her so much and she in turn taught me. She taught me to cook, bake, make candy, crochet, cross stitch (all the crafty things that I know how to do came from her), how to be a good wife and an even better mother. I have always looked up to her and admired her for her strength and love that she gives to everyone. Even though I gave her plenty of trouble, I’m sure, she has always been one of my best friends.

My mom and me hookedwithlove      My parents and I at Disneyland hookedwithlove

Her and my dad have been married for 47 years and are still completely in love.

Dad and Mom hookedwithlove     parents in disneyland hookedwithlove     My Parents hookedwithlove

She loves her grandchildren and you can usually finding her snuggling, playing, dancing or listening intently to one of them.

mom and granddaughter hookedwithlove     My mom and my son hookedwithlove

This summer she was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer called LeioMyoSarcoma. Now my mom is a very healthy woman and we never suspected that anything like this could be happening to her! She was having some minor pains and went to the doctor with a completely different idea of what could be wrong. What was even more surprising was the fact that by the time we had any indication that there was cancer growing inside of her, it was already at stage IV! Now I didn’t know for sure what exactly that meant, so i had to look it up. There are only five stages of cancer, and they name them 0-4. So by the time it is in stage four, it means that it has already spread to different parts of the body and is the most advanced form of cancer.

She had to gather her eight children and her five children in law to tell us all about this diagnosis. I know that it was one of the hardest moments for her, and definitely one of the worst for me too. If you’ve never been in the situation of having a loved one go through this you may not realize all that goes in to it. In our case, her primary care doctor found “masses” in her liver and told her that she thought it was cancer. We didn’t really have any other information than that. Hearing your mother say that she has cancer, sort of feels like being run over by bus. Everything in your world changes immediately! Then there is the waiting… it felt like it took a year to find out everything, even though it was really only a little over a week. She had to have several tests and meet new doctors to be able to tell us what those tests meant. Finally we had everything. It was definitely cancer. Extremely rare cancer and it had already spread to her liver and lungs. The doctor told her and my dad what her options were when it came to treating it and they brought it to us to help decide what to do.

 As a family we decided to fight for her life! It has been the hardest summer of all our lives! She is amazing and continues to inspire me everyday! While I try to do anything that I can to help her down this very rough road, there is not that much I can do to make it easier.

My sister and I decided to put one of the skills that she taught us to use to help her out. We started crocheting hats

il_570xN.492863981_2qq9 il_570xN.492863925_puta il_570xN.492863581_ruvo

il_570xN.492809780_31qp il_570xN.492809650_75la

and selling them in my Etsy store to raise money to help pay for the numerous and expensive medical bills that come with fighting cancer.

My brothers also felt the need to help out in some way and started making survival bracelets to raise money as well.

Inspired by our need to help and wanting to do something to join our efforts, my very dear friend started making beaded bracelets to add to the cause. All of them can be found in my Etsy shop.

I have never prayed harder for a miracle than I have this summer. I’ll keep praying and making hats in the hopes that they will help her even a little bit.

I hope that you have enjoyed meeting my amazing mother and hope you will stop by my store to take a look and maybe find something that you like. Thank you for your support.

Lots of Love

Tawna