Homeade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Cold, creamy, homeade vanilla bean ice cream. Are you drooling yet? This past weekend was a special one and this homeade vanilla bean ice cream recipe was my husband’s Sunday request. It’s delicious and super easy!


  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon Pure vanilla extract


  1. Combine whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar in a medium size saucepan.
  2. Cut a slit the length of your vanilla bean. Scrape the seeds of bean and add that to the saucepan.
  3. Over medium heat and stirring frequently, heat until sugar is dissolved. There will be no grittiness left between your fingers.
  4. Turn off heat and strain mixture into a bowl.
  5. Cover with saran wrap. Make sure you allow the saran wrap to touch the surface of the ice cream mixture. It cuts down on the film that builds on the top of the ice cream mixture.
  6. Refrigerate until cooled.
  7. Place in your ice cream machine. I use the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker.
  8. I let it run for 25-30 minutes.
  9. You can either eat immediately or let it firm up in the freezer before eating.

The vanilla bean flavor is so delicious we prefer to not ruin it with a bunch of toppings. On this occasion we just added fresh blueberries.

Take Bigs word for it, it’s delicious!

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Recipe.

How To Host a Fondue Party

I love Fondue! Five years ago my husband and I ate fondue in Switzerland. Ever since, I thought it would be fun to host a fondue party. One of the best things about fondue is you can have everything prepped before hand. When guests arrive all you have to do is get your fondue on! I’m going to show you how easy it is to make and host your own fondue party. I literally came up with this idea and threw it together that day.

Fondue Party Ingredients for six people

Cheese Fondue

  • 2 1/4 cups of Chardonnay
  • 1 lb. Gruyere Cheese, shredded
  • 1 lb. Swiss Cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tsp. Dry ground mustard
  • Kirschwasser (cherry flavored brandy)
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 4Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice


  • 4 Filet Mignons cubed (to prepare steak later: worcestershire, salt, pepper, olive oil)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Green seedless grapes
  • Baby Carrots
  • Mushrooms (bought sliced, saves time)
  • 2 Baguettes cubed

Things to do before guests arrive:

  1. Get all your ingredients and supplies out and ready.
  2. Prepare two trays with your dippers, excluding steak. Keep cold dippers covered and sealed in the refrigerator.
  3. Shred cheese ahead of time and keep sealed in refrigerator until ready to melt it.
  4. Cube baguettes and store in Ziploc.
  5. Cube your steak and store in refrigerator until ready.

Note: I used two platters for cold dippers, two platters for cubed bread, and two bowls for the steak. That way you could have dippers on each side of fondue pot so everyone could have easy access.

We chose to have our party outside because it was a beautiful day and the children could play in the yard while we socialized.

Decorating Your Table: This was my table before:

This was mid way through.

What I Used To Decorate Table:

  1. I used heavy weight, neutral color, matte finish wrapping paper that I had on hand to cover the table. This is pretty much like brown craft paper.  I did this for two reasons: First, when people dripped and dropped it wouldn’t matter. Second, I could poke a hole in the paper for my cord to go through for my electric fondue maker. 
  2. I had to overlap the paper to cover the table. I taped sides and ends to the underneath of table with scotch tape.
  3. I chose to use ribbon to cover seams where I overlapped the paper. I attached each end of ribbon underneath with scotch tape.
  4. I dressed up the table with metallic brown chargers.
  5. The napkins I used came with a fabric napkin ring. I tucked a fondue fork into each napkin ring. Everyone liked that little touch. I could have also used ribbon or raffia to tie around the napkin to hold the fondue fork.

Guests Have Arrived, Time To Start Fondue:

  1. Roll steak in Worcestershire sauce to cover and season with salt and pepper. In a pan with olive oil, cook to desired doneness.
  2. Peel garlic and cut in half. Rub the halves of garlic on the bottom and sides of fondue pot.
  3. Add wine to pot and set heat at 4 or 4.5. Bring to a simmer only. If it starts to boil, turn heat down a little.
  4. Once wine is simmering, reduce temperature to 3.5. Add cheese 1/4 cup at a time and stir with a silicone whisk. After each addition stir until fully melted and repeat. I stir continuously the whole time so the cheese gets smooth.
  5. Once all cheese is added, stir in dry mustard, lemon juice, and Kirsch until combined and smooth.

Cheese fondue has to be monitored as you eat it. I keep the whisk close by and stir it every once in awhile. If it starts to get a little thick on you, add a little more of the Kirsch and stir to combine. As you eat the cheese down you may have to adjust both the temperature and the addition of Kirsch. 

Our friends kept saying how much they loved this fondue party! So have some fun and get your fondue on!

Woot Woot! I was Featured for this Fondue Party! Thanks so much!

Old School Blogging-The Crazy Five Edition

A fellow blogger, whom I hold in very high regard, tagged me in Old School Blogging-The Crazy Five Addition! Thank you Alison of Writing, Wishing!  I have my wine ready so here we go.

Alison is Co-Hosting Old School Blogging with Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life if you want to link up!

This month, we’re talking Five Things.

Five Things I Have a Passion For

  1. Travel
  2. My Blog
  3. Reading
  4. Photography
  5. Baking

Five Things I Would Like to do Before I Die

  1. Travel to more countries.
  2. Have a vacation home in another country. It’s a dream I know.
  3. Learn to play piano.
  4. Take voice lessons.
  5. Get Lasik (I’m blind as a bat)

Five Things I Say A Lot

  1. Are you kidding me?
  2. Stop it!
  3. C’mon!
  4. Seriously?
  5. I love you!

Five Books And/ Or Magazines I Have Read Lately

  1. Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More and Argue Less As Your Family Grows – I bought this because I felt like my marriage needed it but I haven’t had the time to read it, lol!
  2. Toxic In-Laws: Loving Strategies for Protecting Your Marriage – This is a serious problem for me. I’ve read this book three times over and took notes!
  3. The Thief Taker: A Novel – Great mystery.
  4. ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income – I can’t say enough how helpful this book has been along my blog journey.
  5. I Brake for Yard Sales: And Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions, and the Occasional Dumpster – I love anything that can be found for cheap and re-done.

Five Favorite Movies (Maybe You’ve Seen Them Five Times?)

  1. Love Actually – Not a movie to watch in front of the children but I still love it.
  2. Crazy, Stupid, Love – The comedic fight in the back yard is the best part. Ryan Gosling naked…need I say more!
  3. Die Hard – I’ve seen all of them many times over. I have a crush on Bruce Willis…go ahead and laugh!
  4. Under the Tuscan Sun – This is a dream of mine to buy a villa someday in France or Italy …a girl can dream right?
  5. Baby Mama – When I need a laugh, this movie does it for me!

Five Places I Would Love To Travel To

  1. Scotland
  2. Ireland
  3. I would love to travel back to Italy!
  4. I would love to travel back to France!
  5. I would love to travel back to Switzerland!

My husband and I had a goal of backpacking through Europe before kids. We backpacked for two weeks with only lodging plans the first three nights and the last three nights. The days in between we went to the train station and picked where we wanted to go on a daily basis. It was the best time I’ve ever had!

Eiffel Tower in Paris France on Bastille Day
Lucerne, Switzerland
Venice, Italy
Cinque Terre, Italy

 Five People I Invite To Do This Meme

  1. Tracie at Phenomenal Mama
  2. Natalie at From Corporate To Domestic
  3. Michelle at A Dish Of Daily Life
  4. Dana at Kiss My List
  5. Kate at Another Clean Slate

Dana, forgive me for not doing your list yet…it takes more thinking, lol!

NOTE: This post does contain affiliate links.

Banana Espresso Chocolate Muffins

These muffins are easy, fast, and absolutely mouthwatering delicious! See how quickly it will take you to devour all twelve.

What you may not know about me is that I used to have a cupcake business. Of course, this was before babies. I tried many different cupcake recipes before developing my own. This banana espresso chocolate chip muffin recipe I found along the way from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking I never adjusted this recipe because why mess with perfection!


  • 1 1/2 cup mashed bananas (about 4 very ripe bananas, I put mine in a small food processor)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 stick melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I only use Nestle)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees:

  • Start with mashing your bananas in your food processor and melt your butter to have it ready.
  • In a medium bowl mix together both sugars, egg, melted butter, milk, and banana. I usually just stir this with a rubber scraper.
  • In another bowl whisk together your dry ingredients. Flour, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder.
  • Make a well in your dry ingredients to pour your wet ingredients into. Stir until just combined.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.

  • Use an ice cream scoop to scoop batter into a pre-greased muffin tin.

  • Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes in muffin tin and remove muffins to a cooling rack.
  • Yummy!!!

TIP: I never cool my cupcakes and muffins 100% before storing. I have found that if they are still a tad warm (I mean a tad), and store them in an airtight container they stay super moist.  DO NOT store your cupcakes or muffins in the fridge, I find that it dries them out.

Flooding, Urgent Care, and sharks…oh my!

So our much needed vacation was…well…a trip to remember. My husband thought traveling on a plane with two young kids would be a nightmare so he decided a 14 hour drive to the beach was a good idea! What do you think? Are you laughing already? Our trip felt more like a comedy of errors. You name it, we had it.

It was a record 13″ rainfall our first night at the beach. The waves were crashing under our house. I felt like we were going to be washed away into the ocean. I have never begged God to make it stop so many times…he had other things to do apparently because it led to coastal flooding and this Momma needing a Valium! We were flooded into our house for the first few days. No big deal right, family bonding time. In a way it was kind of nice. Things didn’t look up just yet.

The third day we could finally get out, hooray! Except it was still cold, rainy, and windy. No beach time. That’s good because Urgent Care would be our next field trip. You may not know that Lil, my seven month old has asthma. Many calls back and forth to her pediatrician. Two prescriptions, breathing treatments, and an Urgent Care visit may get us to the fourth or fifth day of our trip.

I won’t drag this out. In a nutshell…28 total hours of driving, two of ten days of good weather, coastal flooding, Urgent Care, and sharks oh my.

It was so relaxing (sarcasm)!

Alas, we did have those little cherished moments that surprise you when everything else seems to be going wrong. The awe, wonder, and excitement of a child experiencing things for the first time.

These are some of our more cherished moments.

Our first day of no rain that we could enjoy the beach. After this, Bigs went into a warm tub of water to get rid of his blue lips because it was so cold and windy.

Bigs was amazed by the bubbles.

Admiring the cool crabs.

Catching and eating cool crab! Yum!

Little did we know Bigs hat was foreshadowing. We really were swimming with the sharks in ankle deep water!

Husband caught said shark. He may not look very big but those teeth look plenty sharp to me!

The classic sibling photo at the beach. Lil had enough at this point. She was no longer amused!

My sweet babies!

Sun, Sand, and Water…Not exactly

This is our first vacation as a family of four. We have desperately needed time away to decompress and reconnect. We chose the closest beach we could reach in a day’s drive. Our brilliant plan was to drive through the night so the children could sleep peacefully in their carseats. Ha, when you have kids nothing is ever that simple.

We made it out of town right at the kid’s bedtime. For the two of us to do anything on time is a miracle. Going good so far, just as planned…not quite. We made it about fifteen minutes down the road before pulling off the highway to feed Lil. Only ten minutes of crying and both kids are asleep.

We made it out of town right at the kid’s bedtime. For the two of us to do anything on time is a miracle. Going good so far, just as planned…not quite. We made it about fifteen minutes down the road before pulling off the highway to feed Lil. Only ten minutes of crying and both kids are asleep.

Around 6 a.m. the babies started to stir and show their disapproval. Our McDonalds pit stop for food and diaper changes turned into a two hour camp out. We were off to a great start! Between broken changing tables, 4 diaper changes, pumping in the car, two very tired parents, and all while crammed in to the front seat. The highlight for me was probably the two different guys hanging out in the McD’s parking lot while I’m trying to pump. Trust me gentleman you do not want to see these udders attached to a pump. It is not a pretty sight…I’m not sure nipples were meant to stretch that far. Also, if I have to hear my husband sing “Express Yourself” one more time while I’m pumping there will be a throw down!

Just when we thought the trip couldn’t get any awful/funnier we stopped for lunch. We realize Lil has had a twenty wipe blowout diaper. My husband encouraged me to place the diaper under the car so it would not stink up the vehicle until we were finished with lunch. If anyone saw me do this, I swear we threw the diaper in the trash later.

Between Bigs crying, throwing his food, and Lil pulling honey mustard into my lap, great times were had by all! Sorry Ruby Tuesday staff for the disaster we left in our wake. Now on to Walmart for food and supplies. Ten minutes into our shopping excursion, the fire alarm goes off. This isn’t any normal fire alarm. It is the loudest screeching we’ve ever heard! We had to cover the kids ears. Well isn’t this just perfect. I mean the trip has already been so relaxing let’s throw a fire alarm in. You’d think the staff knew how to shut it off…and you thought wrong. So while waiting for the security company to shut the fire alarm off the four of us had to hang out on the front stoop of Walmart. Really, how hard can it be.

Finally, we get to the office where we pick up our house key! Still raining by the way. The owners explain to us about coastal flooding. Sure, why not, throw in some thunderstorms and coastal flooding.

It had rained all day and they anticipated the thunderstorm through the night would cause some flooding issues. Ok, well let’s just say in a nutshell that I have never been more terrified of a thunderstorm in my life. Not just any thunderstorm…the heavens opened up and let us know they were extremely pissed off. I thought we were going to float away into the ocean.

We may not be able to get out for awhile with the record 13 inches of rain in 24 hours.

So, this is the start to our relaxing beach getaway. Come on man!

Wallpaper Backed Bookcase

I have always wanted to apply wallpaper to the back of a bookcase. To be honest, I’ve always been afraid to do it. Not anymore! While my husband was gone for two weeks, I enlisted my handy out of town father to help me finish up some projects. We did a mini redo on this wall in my formal living room. First, I painted the wall behind the fireplace Sandpiper by Martha Stewart. Second, we installed these new sconces that I love from Restoration Hardware Baby. Finally, we tackled the wallpaper project.

I originally bought this wallpaper for Bigs’ nursery.  When I received the map wallpaper from Pottery Barn I realized it was a lot bigger than anticipated. I thought it was going to be one more thing that sat around.

Lightbulb! Our front living room has never been finished since we moved in over four years ago. Our whole house has been a renovation project. So, since I love maps and traveling, I thought why not put the wallpaper up in the back of the bookcases.

So, are you ready? I would highly suggest having help. You could use the extra pair of hands and the moral support so you don’t chicken out! Why not drink some liquid courage while you are at it.


  1. Tupperware bin – large enough to hold enough water to submerge your wallpaper to moisten the glue.
  2. Another container to hold water – this is to wipe down any extra glue that you have.
  3. Wallpaper brush – to smooth out wallpaper once attached so you don’t get any bubbles. I looked everywhere  for one and located it at Sherwin Williams.
  4. Plastic putty knife (wallpaper smoother) – use to hold edges tightly while cutting excess paper with utility knife.
  5. Small retractable utility knife – use this to cut excess wallpaper.
  6. Scissors – to cut wallpaper down closer to size if needed.
  7. Measuring tape – measure, measure, and re measure!
  8. Sponge or towel – dampen this to wipe down excess glue (I didn’t have a sponge so I used a towel)

Note: I didn’t use any sizing as per map wallpaper instructions. Every wallpaper has different application instructions, follow yours.

We had a total of six map panels. After measuring, we knew each bookcase would take two and a half panels. We would lose one whole panel of the map. The problem for me was whether to lose the panel on the left or right. After much deliberation, I preferred to keep the right panel because we have actually travelled to some of those islands and that was more important to me than the design in the bottom left hand corner.


  1. Measure, measure, and measure again.
  2. Roll panel loosely, pattern size in and submerge in water 30-45 seconds.
  3. Upon removing wet wallpaper, make sure all glue has gotten moist. We then opened panel back up and folded top and bottom in to middle, glue side in. This just helps you get the wallpaper to position.
  4. We started with the bottom of the panel and worked up on the bookcase.
  5. Smooth out any bubbles with wallpaper brush. Work the brush in all directions. Tap wallpaper into corners and top with brush.
  6. Use putty knife to hold wallpaper tightly in place on edges and cut excess with utility knife.
  7. Use a damp sponge or towel to lightly remove glue from wallpaper front. Be careful not to shift your paper.

I would liked to have had pictures of every step but with a defiant toddler taking a nap we were under the gun to get it finished!

Repeat process for each panel, making sure they all stay aligned!

I did it! I’m so proud that this is a project I wanted to do and went for it. I love this wall makeover!

For further design inspiration this is what the living room looked like when we bought our house over four years ago. Before moving in we installed hardwoods and painted the walls a khaki color. After moving in, I then painted the oak bookcases and fireplace Westhighland White. Now, I finally switched out the sconces and added the map wallpaper. Amazing that it’s the same room! I hope you’ve enjoyed and I hope I’ve given you some inspiration! If there’s a project you’ve been wanting to tackle, go for it!

Living Room Before we moved in and worked our magic: YUCK!

ABC’s of Blogging

This was a lot of fun. I’ve been seeing this going around and I’m glad I participated. Elaine and Jennifer are hosting this month. So here it goes.

A. Attached or Single?Attached. We’ve been married for almost seven years. We met on a blind date and it was love at first sight.

B. Best Friend? I would like to think my husband. I also have a childhood best friend that I feel probably knows me more than anyone.  That’s an important person to have.

C. Cake or pie? Cake, if I make it. I love baking. I used to have a cupcake business (before babies).

D. Day of choice? My days all blur together anymore so I don’t really have one. Lol, I usually never know what day it is.

E. Essential Item? Lipgloss, I feel instantly better when I have it on. Although, I would say for me it would also be my contacts because I am blind as a bat.

F. Favorite Color? To wear, probably pink or yellow. When I was little I hated pink. I wouldn’t let my Mum put me in it because it was to girly. I love it now. I also like wearing yellow because it’s a happy color.

G. Gummy bears or worm? Yeah, not really a fan of either. If you twisted my arm to eat one, I’d eat whichever was sour.

H. Hometown? Not where I am now.:)

I. Favorite Indulgence? A long soak in a hot bath with scented epsom salt and a glass of red wine while listening to Mumford and Sons. I don’t get enough of those moments.

J. January or July? Hands down July, January is to cold.

K. Kid? A boy and a girl that are 13 months apart. My oldest is 2 months from two.  Oh boy, that’s scary!

L. Life isn’t complete without? My babies and husband. I couldn’t live without the joy of traveling to far off places either.

M. Marriage date? *

N. Number of brothers/sisters? *

O. Oranges or Apples? Apples, Honeycrisp are my favorite but they’re hard to find.

P. Phobias? Hmmm, elevators freak me out. Not big on caves or being in water that I can’t see the bottom.

Q. Quotes? “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Thoreau

R. Reasons to smile? My children, my husband, travel, and being healthy.

S. Season of choice? I love when everything comes alive in the Spring. I also love when leaves turn and they are falling to the ground in Fall. I love the crunch beneath my feet.

T. Tag 5 People. Dana, Jodi, Steffany, Stephanie, Keryn

U. Unknown fact about me? I got whooping cough right after our honeymoon. I was in bed or on the couch for three months. It was the worst experience.

V. Vegetable? My new favorite vegetable is parsnips. I make a killer parsnip puree.

W. Worst habit? Being hard on myself!

X. Xray or Ultrasound? Ultrasound is probably better for you. All the ultrasounds I’ve had were for good things.

Y. Your favorite food? Give it to me European style with a platter of assorted meats, cheeses, tomatoes, and fresh baked bread…and a bottle of wine. I’m in heaven.

Z. Zodiac sign? Gemini

If you want to participate just copy the questions onto your blog and go for it. Make sure you link up with Elaine or Jennifer.

Shredded Beef Tacos

These shredded beef tacos are mouthwatering good! My husband drank the drippings and my 21 month old cleaned his plate. This is a great recipe to throw in the crockpot and not worry about it. Spend some time with your kids and assemble tacos when ready.


  • Chuck Roast
  • 2 bottles of Angry Orchard Beer
  • Medium Yellow Onion chopped
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, peeled and sliced in fourths
  • 1 Tbsp. Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Chili Powder
  • Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper
  • Olive Oil for searing
  • Crockpot and dutch oven


  1. Cut enough slits in roast for your garlic slices. Then push sliced garlic into slits.
  2. Liberally season both sides of roast with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat olive oil at medium – high heat in heavy bottom pan or dutch oven. I put enough olive oil into pan so that it covers the bottom.
  4. Sear roast on all sides and then remove to crockpot. Pour one bottle of Angry Orchard beer into the crockpot with roast.
  5. Pour the other bottle of Angry Orchard beer into pan. Scrape all the brown goodness off the bottom of your pan.
  6. Add chopped onions, cumin, brown sugar, and chili powder.
  7. Stir and let cook down for about 10 minutes or until mixture starts to thicken.
  8. Remove from heat and add to crockpot.
  9. If pushed for time set crockpot on high for 6 hours, which is what I did. If you have the time I’d go low and slow.
  10. When finished, remove roast to a bowl and shred it with a fork. Add the juice. We do this so you can assemble tacos at your table.

We also use La Tiara Authentic Mexican taco shells. They are thin taco shells so assemble one at a time (with meat on top) so they don’t get soggy. We really prefer the flavor of those taco shells but you can use any. Use a fork to pull meat out of bowl as well to keep tacos from getting soggy.

We added sour cream, shredded colby jack cheese, cilantro, and home-ade guacamole to complete our tacos. We usually add salsa but didn’t do that with these. The flavor is just to good on their own!

Liberally salt with kosher salt and ground pepper. Put slits in meat for the garlic.

Get a good sear on all sides of meat.

Add Angry Orchard beer to pot after you’ve removed the meat to crockpot. Scrape the brown off the bottom.

Cook down the beer, onions, and spices until thickened. Doesn’t it look delicious?

The roast is sufficiently drunk now. Time to shred the meat.


Sibling Love

Two babies so close together can be difficult. Fortunately, I don’t know any different. There are days when I wonder if I can drag myself through. Every inch of my body and brain is just tired and beat up. We all have those days as mothers, where you feel like you have been thoroughly put through the ringer in every way.

On this day, Bigs was extremely grumpy. He was being very jealous of Lil and making sure I knew about it by screaming, throwing things, and generally just trying my patience.

Really?!? Is it going to be like this all day. This is one of those days where I could have run down the street crying.

Then… something amazing happened…

A moment between the kids I hadn’t seen before. Bigs walked over to his sister and sat beside her to watch Thomas. What happened next brought tears to my eyes. It’s like they had this moment of him telling her he’d always protect her and she knew it to be true. In this moment, my heart felt overwhelmed with love for my little babies. Seeing the interaction and tenderness between the two of them is just incomparable. It’s nothing we taught them, just the natural compassion in there sweet little hearts.

My big brother!

Thank you! Thank you for allowing me to have these blessings in my life every day! Moments like this make all the hard stuff disappear.