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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014! (& 2 desserts you can't live without)


So, Easter has come & gone and in less than week, it'll be my little lady's 6th birthday.  That's insane... 6?!?!?

Anyway, let's focus on Easter for a moment and go through a little recap.  I'm kind of in denial about my big girl turning another year older.

We typically have celebrated Easter with my MIL's side of the family and this year was no different.  Well, of course it was very different in that it was our first Easter without my MIL.  The first everything without her is really tough.  She would have gotten the kiddos' Easter baskets and given us Easter gifts too - she was over the top loving with everything she did and spoiled us to pieces.  I don't miss the stuff, but I miss her so very much.  We carried on and did our best to have a fun Easter and celebrate the loving family we do have and I think we did a pretty good job.  My FIL's side of the family joined us this year so we were ALL together and I think we all much preferred it that way!

I didn't capture as many photos as I normally do, but I got a few good ones.

We were at our house Easter morning and the kiddos happily dug into their baskets around 7am.  They were so READY to see what the Easter Bunny brought.



They were pretty tickled with their bunny ears, candy, bubbles, and little loveys.  I love how easy to please they are at this stage and how much JOY they have over the littlest things.  

We headed out to my grandfather-in-law's pretty early - that's where all of our family festivities take place.

In addition to EATING lots and lots of delicious food, we did some egg hunting...



followed by the annual treasure hunt put together by my Aunt Paula.  It is super cool.  She hides clues all over the property and the kiddos (the middle/high school aged ones along with the littles) ride in a decorated golf cart clue by clue.  Once they complete the treasure hunt, they get goody bags.  It's a blast!

treasure hunt in progress
And, Easter wouldn't be Easter with our family without dessert.  Too much dessert.  Wait, that's not a thing.  I don't believe in too much dessert!

I made these beauties:


Left: key lime pie

Right: Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle

Wanna know how to make 'em?  It's so easy, it's ridiculous.  I can even tell you RIGHT NOW!

Key Lime Pie

Ingredients: ready made graham cracker pie crust, 2 cans sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup key lime juice, zest of key lime or regular lime, 4 egg yolks.

Directions: combine all ingredients listed after pie crust -- pour into pie crust -- bake at 375 for 20-25 min. until set.  Refrigerate overnight.  Yum.  Garnish with whipped cream before serving.

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle

Ingredients: chocolate pudding (prepare via an insant packet), brownie cubes (pie or make from mix), peanut butter mousse (whip together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 cup pb, 80z whipped cream cheese, and a few tbsp milk), cool whip, chopped mini pb cups

Directions:  Layer it up!  Mine went like this: brownie cubes, pb mousse, chocolate pudding, crushed pb cups, cool whip - repeat -- end with cool whip layer and sprinkle chopped pb cups over top.  Refrigerate several hours before serving.  Oh my YUMMMMMMMM

If you celebrate the holiday, I hope you and yours had a Happy Easter as well!

- Amber

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Haircuts!


Keeping with the theme of the increasingly warm weather (although it's going to be below freezing tonight?? Stop toying with me, Mother Nature...), I took the kiddos to get new spring hair styles this past Sunday.  My sweet little niece Imogene (and her Mom) was also in attendance.  Audrey has been growing her hair like Rapunzel for months and months and months.  But.. it doesn't look like Rapunzel's.  Her hair is long... and stringy.. and tangly..and horribly difficult to manage.  She HATES to have it brushed... she HATES to have it up in any way, so it was just getting long and pointless really.  I don't know how, but I finally managed her to LET IT GO (I've watched Frozen too many times) and get a cut.  I'm so very happy she agreed.  For the little dudester, the plan was to go shorter on the sides... like super shaved short, but not lose a TON of length on top.  Sadly, I think she took off a little too much on top - I want more moppy curls, but everyone else seems to love it and the good news, as with any haircut, is that it grows back!

So... Audrey BEFORE


Jameson BEFORE


and....

drum roll please...

ALL 3 KIDDOS AFTER




Love it!!!

How sweet are those 3 loves?  That's my sis-in-law walking in front of them pushing my OTHER niece, Caroline, in the stroller.  At 4 months, she's a little too young for a haircut.  She may be joining them next year though ;)

I'm inspired to chop my locks, too - maybe an upcoming post will feature MY spring/summer cut.

- Amber

Monday, April 14, 2014

15 Minute Simple Spring Suppers

Guys! The weather here in Maryland is finally beautiful and spring-like (for now), so lately, I've been embracing that.  Nice weather means more time outside in the evenings, more time for walks, and more bubble blowing.  For me, it also means less time in the kitchen, because we want to get outside as soon as possible!

Enter my simple spring supper ideas.

I've made both of these in the past week and you should too!

First up... Easy flatbread & pasta salad

This is so easy, I feel it is silly for me to give you a recipe, but here goes.

Ingredients:
flatbread (I bought a literal 'flatbread' in my bakery section, but naan or pitas would work, too)
cheese (we used mozzarella)
tomatoes
basil

Add any veggies you like really - bell peppers, mushrooms, whatever!

To make:
-drizzle flatbread with olive oil
- arrange with ingredients on top
- crack some black pepper over top
- bake at 350 until bubbly on top (10 minutes max)



I served this flatbread alongside my famous pasta salad.  It's a simple recipe, but I'm pretty addicted to it.

My pasta salad = tri-color veggie rotini pasta, 1/4 cup light italian dressing, cup of crumbled reduced fat feta, 1/2 cup chopped green pepper, 1/2 cup chopped orange pepper, 1/2 cup diced tomato, 1/4 cup chopped green onion - mix - season with salt and pepper


I didn't have green onions the last few times I made it and it was still scrumptious.

Next up... BLTA SANDWICHES.  You know what BLTs are, of course, but the A IS FOR AVOCADO

I won't explain how to make a BLT as it is self-explanatory.  I served ours up on toasted ciabatta bread with olive oil mayo and AVOCADO - lots of it.  Oh my goodness, so yum.  Oh yeah, and more pasta salad.  This time, I made the pasta salad with farfalle instead of tri-color rotini because I was feeling wild (and was out of rotini).




I hope these recipes (if you want to call them that!) help you with your spring menu planning.  In fact, these meal ideas are perfect for nights when you have no plan at all and very little time... 

Try them and let me know what you think :)

- Amber

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Super Fun Weekend


For me, weekends are *always* cherished.  Sleeping in past 6:00am, time with the family, wearing jammies until 10:00am if we want... it's the good life!

This past weekend was even more cherished than most and was filled with fun, goodness, happiness, and family.  All of my favorite things!

Here's a little recap and I'll start with Friday, since that's when the fun really began!

Friday

work work work, but THEN, Friday evening, I went out with 5 of my book club gals to see Divergent in theaters.  We had JUST read the book, so it was perfect timing.  We all enjoyed it, so if you've read the book, you probably will too.  Of course, there were little changes that annoyed us, but overall, really well done.  The character Four/Tobias is not bad on the eyes also ;)

Saturday

A big super fun, packed day from beginning to end!  It began with dropping Audrey off at her dress rehearsal for her big musical - 101 Dalmatians! - After that, I came home, collected my hubby and son and we headed back to get ready to watch our girl in action.  She played Poodle #3 AND a dalmatian puppy.  She loved telling everyone she was TWO characters.  A bunch of family and friends came to support Audrey which absolutely tickled her!!!  It was a blast.

Here's our gal after the performance with some of her gifts :)


After the performance, we all went out to lunch - 10 adults and 4 kids!  We had Mexican - Audrey's choice.  It was an awesome time.

Then, my gal left with her Mimi and GG for a sleepover at their horse farm.  Everybody else headed out and meanwhile, my brother and sister-in-law stayed to hang out and spend the night with the hubby, Jameson, and I.

After lunch, my sis-in-law stayed out to go shopping for spring clothes while hubby and my bro took Jameson home for a nap.  Please read that sentence again.  Yes, it was as awesome as it sounded!!!

My sis-in-law, Juliet, and I had a blast!  Old Navy was having mega deals, so we spent a lot of time there, before picking up milkshakes at Coldstone to rewards ourselves for spending so much all that hard work!

Here's one of the cute tops I picked up - I'm wearing it today!


Sunday

Sunday was busy, busy, busy.  I went to a brunch in the morning with my early career psychologists' group (really fun and not nearly as dorky as it sounds!), then headed to PA to pick up my darling girl from her Mimi's house.

Sunday evening was pretty chill - hubby and I watched the much anticipated Game of Thrones premiere and were not disappointed!

Monday

Spilling into Monday... Audrey stayed home sick with a stomach bug and I stayed home to take care of her.  I sometimes have a hard time adjusting my day when things go unplanned like that, but it was nice to have extra time with her.

By evening, she was feeling much better and she and Jameson had a royal ball together, complete with classical music and dancing.  They are too much ridiculousness.

Who needs pants when you've got dancing this classy?!



So, my heart is feeling pretty full and my life is feeling blessed.  I don't even care about the mounds of laundry that never got done or the dishes in the sink... and that's saying something!

- Amber

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Is it really almost April?!




Time is flying by... don't I always say that?  I know I do, but you know it's true!  Where does the time go?  I don't have time for the kind of blogging I'd like to do, but I thought I'd at least pop on for a little "hi" post.  At least 2 posts a month would be nice, though once a week would be even better.  A girl can dream...

Speaking of this blog... the name doesn't make sense much anymore, does it?

That reminds me - I have news for you.

No more binkys in my house!!!  That's right - big boy Jameson gave them up.  It was easy peasy too.  We didn't even have to do the whole Binky Fairy thing, like we did with Audrey.

Binkertation = binkys + dissertation and man, I don't have EITHER of those anymore.  How strange and wonderful!  The lack of dissertation is obviously the most exciting part.

Help me re-name this blog, will you?  All suggestions welcome!!  I'll probably have to change my domain name, too, blah, but it's time for change!

New beginnings is what Spring is all about.  It REALLY doesn't feel like it here (high of 35 degrees!!! today), but it IS in fact Spring.  Does it feel like it where you are?  I really like winter (really!), but even I'm done with it, so you know that's bad.  It actually snowed yesterday.  The madness!

What a rambling post, my friends, but that's all I've got time for today.  I'm here!  I'm more active on my facebook page, so don't forget to follow there, too :)  I've been doing well keeping up with my OOTD posts - now I just need to do a consolidated one here.  Maybe next time!

I can't sign off without an adorable kiddo picture, and there is no shortage of those, so here's one for the road :)



- Amber

Monday, March 3, 2014

Birthday Weekend Celebration




Well, guys, in one more year, I'll have to update my side bar profile to say "a working mama in her early thirties..."  Yup, this past weekend, I turned 29, my official last year of my twenties.  Luckily, my hubby, who shares a birthday with me, is always there to make me feel better about my age, as he is 6 years older.  I always tell him, no matter what age I turn, he'll be older and so I'll always feel young.  Score!  Truth be told I love birthdays, I love celebrating, and I haven't had a birthday yet that has caused me to panic.  I don't think 30 will be a big deal either, but ask me next year ;)

Our actual birthday was Saturday and it was an awesome day!  Super low key and just what I needed.

In no particular order, I got a 30 min. massage, got a mani and pedi (courtesy of my sister-in-law, Katie!), shopped for  some new clothes, enjoyed a yummy Starbucks treat (the sinful white chocolate mocha, one of the most caloric items on the menu), ordered Chinese take out for dinner, and blew out the candles on my Cheesecake Factory cheesecake.  Oh, AND caught up on some trashy tv.  The hubby participated in some of those activities with me, but since it is OUR birthday and we had some different things we wanted to do, we pretty much let each other do our thing.  The Mr. hung out with my little bro, who came down to visit us.  Everyone was happy. win. win. win.

my little bro with my little man <3



On Sunday, the birthday celebrating continued.  My bro stayed over at our place Saturday night, so after picking up Audrey from a sleepover, we went to brunch at a cute local restaurant near our neighborhood.  One of the perks of this place?  PLAY AREA!  Seriously, it's the best.  We sat at the table, enjoying our food and chatting, while the kids played and were within sight.  Why doesn't every restaurant do that?  It's amazing... 

It's rare for my brother to make a 'normal' face


If this past weekend is any indication, 29 is looking to be a great year for me!

Cheers!

- Amber

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Job Interviewing & Life in General


Well, hello there.  Haven't seen you in awhile, blog reader.  Here I am!  It was my goal to get in at least one more post before the month is out... so, with that in mind, I rock! A whole 6 days left in the month and then it's March.  And my birthday! (3/1)
 
So, the past few week have kept me very busy and I have to say, I'm feeling some relief.
I had a super intense job interview this past Thursday (which was postponed from the previous Thursday due to ANOTHER big snow storm!).  The interview was for an assistant professor position at a local university, which meant ALL day interviewing, an observed teaching demonstration, giving a research talk, lunch with students, more interviewing....
 
just typing it out makes me exhausted all over again!
 
The good news... I think I nailed the interview and looked the part, too.
 

 
The not so good news... is that even if I'm offered the position, I don't plan on accepting.
 
After weighing the pros/cons, it doesn't seem like a good fit for me, the right balance of responsibilities, or the kind of position that fits in with meeting the needs of my family.
 
There are some more concerns, but I won't go into them here!
 
More good news is that the interview really boosted my confidence...
...in my research
...in my teaching abilities
...in the strength of my clinical training and abilities
...in my interviewing skills
 
and for that, I don't have one bit of regret about interviewing in the first place!
 
There are other options on the horizon, so I'm confident it will all work out.
 
My current post-doctoral position goes until September so plenty of time to figure out what the next step in my emerging career will be.  Although I must admit, it is a little strange knowing that they've already *filled* my position for the next post doc.  That's the strange world of psychology, though!
 
So, really, that's most of what has kept me away these past few weeks.
 
Job interviewing, my full-time job, teaching on Monday evenings now, and juggling the usual family responsibilities... well, all of that is pretty much owning me right now!
 
The kiddos continue to be both horribly challenging and amazingly incredible.  That's parenting, yeah?
 


 
Until next time, friends...
 
Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!
 
I'll be back soon (whatever that means) ;)
 
 
- Amber