Chip Chop Cookies

Ok, you guys. I know I’ve said it before butttt this time, it’s for real. I have found the BEST chocolate chip recipe EVER (thanks, Pinterest). I mean it, I’m never making another chocolate chip cookie recipe ever again. This is BY FAR the best recipe I’ve found (and, just ask my husband, I’ve tried literally hundreds in the last 4 or 5 years).

I am so excited to share it with ya’ll, I can hardly stand it. You need to run to your kitchen and whip these up TONIGHT. They’re that good.

What makes these cookies the “best,” you wonder? Well, they aren’t “cakey,” they are full of chocolate chips, just chewy enough, and they are so buttery!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray..
  • In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.
  • In mixer bowl, beat together the butter and sugars for 2 minutes.
  • Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low speed until mixed in well.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture and mix in until just incorporated. Do not overmix.
  • Add chocolate chips and stir with a wooden spoon, just until incorporated.
  • Scoop small balls of dough onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 8 minutes.
  • Allow cookies to cool on a wire rack (they will become slightly crispy on bottom and chewy in the inside as they cool).

 

I found this recipe on Pinterest and you can see the original here, a great place for baking inspiration, tips, and ideas!

An Easy Weeknight Supper

If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of sitting down at the table for pretty much every meal. There’s something so special about the conversation and unity that happens when we gather around the table and share a meal. I think sometimes, it’s easy to get intimidated by making this a habit because for some reason, we think if we sit down to the table for a meal, it has to be super fancy or elaborate, but that’s just not the case. So, today, I want to share an easy weeknight supper that can bring your family to the table.

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Pickle-brined chicken tenders, garlic butter smashed red potatoes, and a spinach salad. So easy, and really yummy, too.

For the chicken tenders:

I buy  frozen chicken tenderloins at Aldi and just take out however many I need in the morning, place them in a shallow container, and marinate them in (dill) pickle juice all day. Then, when I start dinner, I just drain off the juice and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Then, make an egg wash (one egg, one egg white, salt, and pepper) and after running each tenderloin through the egg wash, coat in a mixture of panko and breadcrumbs (I do about 1 cup of panko and 1 cup of breadcrumbs). You can do this by putting them in a bag and shaking them, or just flip them in the crumb mixture on a plate. Then, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, flip, and bake for an additional 8 minutes so that your chicken is a yummy golden brown. The flavor is amazing (and rumor has it that this is the secret behind the goodness that is Chick-fil-a).

For the potatoes:

Wash however many potatoes you need, then boil in a large pot (covered) for 30 minutes. Then, drain the water, place them on a baking sheet and smash gently with a fork or potato masher. Melt about half a stick of butter, mince some garlic, and throw in some parsley, and just pour over the smashed potatoes. Then, just pop the pan in the oven on broil for about 15 minutes (or until golden brown) and you’ll have the most delicious, flavorful potatoes ever. They’re crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and so buttery! We drizzle ranch dressing on ours and that makes them even better!

I pretty much always have spinach on hand, because I love to put it in my scrambled eggs with sautéed peppers and onions, and it’s great for small side salads. This meal is also great leftover for lunch the next day, and I like to cut up one or two of the chicken tenders and eat on a spinach salad. My friend Lee shared this chicken recipe with me, and the original recipe can be found here.

Hope ya’ll are having a good week! If you have any good suggestions for easy weeknight suppers, I’d love for you to leave them in the comments below!

 

InstaStory Granola Bars

It’s no secret that I have always loved Instagram, and when they added the “story” feature (bye snapchat) it got even better. I love it for so many reasons… whether it be just to see little snippets of my friend’s days, or I follow bloggers who do fun things like “fridge tours” and behind the scenes of home renovation projects and short little devotionals that are so encouraging. It’s just great.

So, sometimes, I ask questions on my InstaStory like “hey Mamas, what are you feeding your toddlers?” or “does anybody have a good storage solution for clothes that your kids have outgrown?” or “what is ya’lls favorite breakfast food? looking for something quick, inexpensive, and something that will keep me full longer” or “send me your sweet potato fries recipes!”

It’s become a really helpful tool for me and I’ve got so many good suggestions and ideas from it. One particular day, as I sat here eating my yogurt and granola for the thousandth day in a row, I decided to ask for breakfast food suggestions. I got a lot of good ideas and still haven’t tried them all, but so far my favorite came from my friend Morgan who is a new Mama to beautiful twin girls!

These homemade peanut butter granola bars are perfect to make on Sunday evening and have every day that week for breakfast. My husband grabs two on his way out the door with a glass of milk and I eat one with coffee as I have my quiet time. They’re easy to make, don’t require a ton of ingredients, and you can make the 9×13 pan go a long way (depending on how you cut them).

Ingredients:

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  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 cups rice crispy cereal
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • a pinch of salt
  • as many chocolate chips (for topping) as your little heart desires

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Instructions:

  • In a large pot, bring the honey to a boil and boil for one minute.
  • Remove from heat, add a pinch of salt, and stir in peanut butter until smooth and creamy.
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  • Spoon mixture into a 9×13 pan (don’t forget to spray it) and sprinkle chocolate chips on top, without pressing into the pan at all.fullsizeoutput_189b
  • Wash your hands and hold your hands under cold water for a minute, then press your mixture firmly into the pan (this keeps the mixture from sticking to your hands).fullsizeoutput_189cfullsizeoutput_189d
  • Allow to “set” for a few hours before cutting.fullsizeoutput_18a0

Enjoy!

Thanks for the recipe, Morgan!

Little Pink Dress

There’s nothing better than an easy, comfortable dress that you can just throw on. You know, the kind you can wear with dressy wedges, simple sandals, or even a little pair of keds?

Your “go-to” dress. Your “effortlessly put together” dress. Your dress that’s appropriate whether you’re at the park with the kiddos, running errands, or out to dinner.

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If you’re looking for a dress that fits this description, look no further, because I’ve found it!

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I first discovered PinkBlush when I was expecting and instantly fell in love with their beautiful maternity clothes. You may remember this post (from when I was VERY pregnant). But, they offer much, much more than just maternity clothes! Their wide range of styles and sizes, excellent quality, and fast, free shipping make PinkBlush stand out as one of my favorite companies.

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If you sign up (click here to create an account) you will receive coupons frequently through your email, and believe me, there’s always a good sale going on at PinkBlush!

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This dress also comes in black, navy, and lavender and is the softest material. The criss cross neckline is so fun and really kicks it up a notch from your basic tshirt dress, and my favorite part? It has pockets! Ahhh!

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There are so many pretty things on their website right now. This dress would be perfect for dancing the night away at summer weddings, this dress would be so cute at the beach, and this dress is another super comfortable everyday dress (that I might just have to add to my cart).

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This dress was provided to me by the PinkBlush Style Ambassador program, but as always, all opinions are my own. 

Letters to Landon: ONE!

My little Landon,

I’ve been to some really beautiful places in my 24 years of life. I’ve seen the snow-capped Swiss Alps, watched the sun go down over Florence, hiked to the top of Mount Vesuvius, and swam in the waters off the Amalfi Coast. I’ve fallen in love with the changing of the leaves in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I’ve snorkeled in Jamaica, and I’ve prayed on the beaches of Haiti. But you, my dear, really do surpass them all. When I looked into your sweet face for the first time one year ago today, my heart was wrecked forever.

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It’s hard to put into words exactly what this past year has been like. When I think about the fears your Daddy and I have had to face and the uncertainty we’ve had to walk through, I’m reminded, once again of our Savior’s unwavering protection and provision. I have learned so much in this process of becoming your Mama (and have so, so much more to learn). Jesus has redeemed parts of my brokenness that I never thought was possible. Just saying the word “Daddy” out loud used to feel like a knife cutting right through me, even when I did my best job pretending that it didn’t, and now? Seeing the way your Daddy loves you has healed that wound in my heart, replaced my hurt with gratitude, and allowed me to see just a glimpse of our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness. This year has been a year of hard changes, big sacrifices, and growth. There have been tears and frustrations, times that we’ve lost sight of how immensely blessed we are, and times that I’ve felt I will never be enough. But, oh my goodness, sweet boy… the joy you’ve brought outweighs it all. You light up a room. You giggle all the time. You wake up smiling every day. Your sweet voice plays over and over in my mind, even when you’re asleep. There is nothing I cherish more than spending every day with you. Learning more about you, watching you discover new things, and praying for you is the delight of a lifetime.

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At my second ultrasound, they discovered that you had a calcium deposit on your heart. That led to many more ultrasounds and tests and I was really unsure of what it would mean for your development and health. Then, right after you were born, you wouldn’t cry like you were supposed to and they rushed you to the NICU to get your lungs cleared, leaving me there panicked, just wanting to hold you and know you were okay. To a lot of people, those are just small things that, in the scheme of things (compared to what some families have had to go through) seem really trivial. But, for me, they were huge, scary things… things that made me totally and completely surrender myself and your little life to Jesus. You see, as selfish as I am as your Mama, you don’t belong to me. You belong to Jesus. Him entrusting you to me to nurture and raise up in a home where you’re pointed towards Jesus and a love for Him is cultivated from an early age is my greatest honor. But, you’re His, sweet boy. Never, ever forget that.

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When I said earlier that there were times during this last year when I felt that I will never be enough, I mean in little tiny ways, and also in big, important ways. Did I hold you enough? Did I hold you to much? Did I make your rice cereal too thick? Are you ruined forever because I give you apple juice? Is it my fault that you got pink eye that one time? Do I wash your hands enough? Do I wash my hands enough? Am I teaching you enough? What am I doing that I shouldn’t be doing? What am I not doing that I should be doing? The what-if’s, the not-sure’s, the I-worry-about’s… they would completely consume me if it wasn’t for my Father’s promises. You see, without Him, I really can’t do this. I can’t be a good Mama to you at all. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” That’s exactly how being your Mama is. Praying everyday that He’ll give me the wisdom, the grace, and the strength to be a good Mama is what gets me through. And His mercies are new every morning.

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I never, ever want to forget the little quirks about you that I’ve fallen deeply in love with this year. The way you cross your ankles. The way your white-blonde hair flips out in little curls behind your ears. The way your blue eyes sparkle. The way you look just like my Paw. The way you get so excited when you see food (especially Krispy Kreme doughnuts) and airplanes and say “ooohh oohh oohhhh!” The way you look taking a bath in our kitchen sink with the morning light streaming through the window. The way you turn and look at me over your shoulder with that mischievous grin on your face when you discover something new. The way you reach up and tug on the belt of my robe in the mornings while I make my coffee. The way you take my face in your fat little hands. The way it sounds when you say “Mama.”

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I could go on forever, but there would never be enough words to describe the insurmountable joy that being your Mama has brought me. Your Daddy and I love you so much, Landon. Happy First Birthday!

I’ll love you forever, and always more than the day before.

Love,

Mama

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*Photos by the one and only Meredith Fields

Landon’s 1st Birthday Party

Yesterday, we celebrated Landon’s 1st birthday with (almost) all of our family and friends and it was the sweetest, most special day. When we first started planning, we considered having his party at the park, but we ended up being so thankful that we didn’t do that because it rained almost all day. The party was travel and adventure themed, just like his nursery, and there were maps, globes, hot air balloons, airplanes, suitcases, and sailboats everywhere! There was all kinds of food (thank you to my aunt Rhonda for making the delicious punch and little sausage party pizzas, my Mother-in-law for the chicken nuggets, fruit and dip, and chips and dip, Sherry for the cannolis, my friend Meredith for helping me make the cake pops, and to my Momma for the amazing cake).

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Landon had so much fun opening presents (although I think he liked the wrapping paper and boxes just as much as he liked the presents) and he ate until his little heart was content. He was so funny during the cake smash, he eventually just stuck his whole face into the cake! He was absolutely worn out by the end of the afternoon, and was asleep in the car before we even made it out of the parking lot!

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It was a fun day that we’ll remember forever! Thank you so much to everyone who came to help us celebrate. We are so thankful that our sweet boy is so loved by so many!

Letters to Landon: Mother’s Day

My little Landon,

We are getting ready to celebrate Mother’s Day! I would say it’s my first Mother’s Day, but I believe life begins at conception, and so we celebrated my first Mother’s Day last year, when you were still inside my belly. Last year, your Daddy gave me a beautiful Bible and I had your footprints stamped over the passage in 1 Samuel that says, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him” right after you were born.

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It’s funny to me that last year, as I celebrated Mother’s Day, I thought I knew what it was going to be like to be your Mom. I knew I would love you, I already did. I knew I would pray for you, I had been praying for you long before I even found out that we were expecting or I knew you were a boy. I knew I would do everything in my power to protect you and nurture you, but I didn’t realize I’m not capable of that at all without Jesus.

No one could have ever prepared me for what it’s like to be your Momma and there are so many things that I realize about my own Momma and the way she loves me now that I have you. It’s the honor of a lifetime to have carried you, to watch you grow, and you shepherd your little heart. You have a smile that lights up a room, a sweet, gentle spirit, and you are developing a sense of humor and mischief that just blesses my Mama heart!

There aren’t enough words to say how thankful I am that God chose me to be your Mom.

I’ll love you forever, and always more than the day before.

Love,

Momma

 

Lipsense

I had been hearing about Lipsense for quite a while when Alex from Lipstick and Grace reached out to me, and I was so excited to give it a try. Lipsense is a long lasting lip color that doesn’t budge! Its water-proof, kiss-proof, smudge-proof and comes in over 36 shades! Much like Younique or Mary Kay, it’s sold by consultants who are happy to help you find the right match for your skin tone.

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It’s perfect for Mamas because you don’t have to worry about leaving kissy marks all over those squishy cheeks and you only have to apply once a day!

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Alex has a Facebook group that you can join to see all the colors available. She does videos from time to time demonstrating tips and tricks for application and showing the colors in “real life,” and she also does fun giveaways!

I had a really hard time choosing a color, so I just told her the three I liked best and she chose for me. Sometimes, you just have to trust the experts’ opinion! I ended up with a pink color called “Kiss For a Cause” and I think it’s perfect for Spring and Summer. There’s a color called Mulled Wine that I have my eye on for Fall, though!

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The “Starter Collection,” which is a color, glossy gloss, and remover is the best place to start. Then, you can add other colors to your collection! Lipsense also makes a Matte Gloss, which I would love to try!

You can do as many layers as you like to achieve the color you like best. The instructions say to do three layers of color, letting each layer dry for at least 15 seconds between applications, but I have found that one or two layers of “Kiss For a Cause” looks best on me, especially for just day to day wear. Here’s an example I found on her facebook page that shows a few different colors with layers of different shades:

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Because I have to be totally honest, I will say that it took me several times to get the application process downpat. It’s harder than I thought to just swipe on in the car… instead, it requires my complete attention and focus. I am thankful for the remover, though! When they say this stuff doesn’t budge, they aren’t kidding!

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Because the product is in such high demand right now, the best way to shop is directly from her facebook page – that’s where she shows what is currently in stock. There are instructions for how to order pinned at the top of the page. If you have any questions, she’s happy to help you, just email her at Alex.lipstickandgrace@gmail.com and be sure to find her on instagram: @lipstick.and.grace!

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My Lipsense “Starter Collection” was gifted to me c/o Lipstick + Grace, but all opinions are my own, as always.

Overnight Oats

About a year ago, I randomly went on an overnight oats recipe pinning spree, and then I made a bunch of great recipes forgot all about it. Anyone else ever do that? I think I’m the world’s worst for having great intentions to make all these amazing Pinterest recipes, only to get busy with a million other things and forget to even try them!

Well, a few weeks ago, my sister-in-law asked me if I had ever heard about overnight oats and the rest, they say, is history. There are literally thousands of recipes for different variations of overnight oats, but today I’m going to share our favorite: brown sugar cinnamon (yum!).

Now, before I share this recipe, I need to address all skeptics. Yes, you eat this cold. Yes, it’s kind of weird to eat oatmeal cold. BUT I promise, it’s delicious. I am personally not even a huge fan of (regular hot) oatmeal, but this is just totally different. Because it’s made the night before and “rests” in the refrigerator all night, the texture is more like a pudding; creamy, but with a little bit of chewiness to it. Is chewiness even a word? And the flavor? It’s literally like a party in your mouth! So, just try it, okay?

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of overnight (old fashioned) oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 (heaping) teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

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Instructions:

For this recipe, you need two pint sized mason jars. Start by putting one cup of oats in each jar.

Next, pour one cup of milk in each jar over the oats. Then, add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to each jar.

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Secure lid tightly and shake.

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In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and maple syrup (or honey).

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Divide this mixture and spoon into jars.

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Stir, then secure lid tightly and shake one last time.

Place in the refrigerator overnight (at least 6-8 hours) and enjoy the next morning!

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Caswell Beach Retreat 2017

Our ladies beach retreat is a weekend that I look forward to all year. Each and every year, without fail, it’s always a special time of fellowship, worship, and rest. Caswell is truly a dream for “getting away,” tucked away between Oak Island and Southport, surrounded by the Creator’s canvas. There’s something so soothing about being by the ocean.

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This trip was a big milestone for me because it’s the first time I’ve ever been away from Landon overnight! It’s crazy to think that he’s never even spent the night at my Mom’s house once in the past 11 months, but since I’m still breastfeeding, we just haven’t tried it. He did great, took his bottles like a champ (thank God for frozen breastmilk, amiright Mamas?!), and had a fun time being spoiled absolutely rotten by my in-laws!

We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather from the time we arrived on Friday until we packed up to come back home on Sunday. It was sunny and breezy and ideal for shorts and sweatshirts (my FAVE)! We stayed in a new house this year and all fell in love with it. It was closer to the water (the houses in Fort Caswell are set up in kind of an oval shape on a peninsula surrounded by water) and we left the windows open at night so we could fall asleep to the crashing of the waves and wake up to the seagulls… ahhh!

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The theme of this year’s retreat was “Lavender Spa” and we studied the Psalms together. There was a white sheet hung on the wall where we each added words or phrases at different times throughout the weekend, leaving us with a beautiful visual reminder of Jesus’ faithfulness and abounding love. The most meaningful and profound exercise for me was when we got eyeliner pencils and wrote a lie that we have believed about ourselves at some point in our lives on the palm of our hands. Then, we talked about how Satan tries to make us believe those lies, but if we fill our spirits with Truth and cling to Jesus and His Word, we know that those lies have been washed away. We got a wipe and cleaned our palms completely, leaving no trace of the lie that once hindered our ability to live fully for Him, and then each took turns going up to the sheet on the wall and wrote the Truth that took the place of that lie. To see “unworthy” replaced by “I am His daughter and He will never leave me” was powerful.

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We ate good food, laughed until late into the night, and spent time investing in sweet, sweet friendships. These girls are all so precious to me! Already looking forward to next year!

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