a fancy fourth birthday

Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul's fancy fourth birthday Soul’s main birthday request was a “make-up” party, so earlier in the day, she got her mini spa treatment (done by mommy), and so for her birthday dinner, she got to get even more dolled up. I gave her a touch of blush (barely touched her cheek), she kissed my lipstick lips for lipstick, and I curled her hair. I was totally imagining doing this again for her for a school dance, which I hope doesn’t come too soon. She completed her fancy look with her special, fancy dress. The moment I saw this dress from the FabKids holiday collection, I knew we needed that for her “fancy” dinner! Plus, I saw this sparkly shift and this jeweled out top and skirt, and that would totally put all the girls in the fancy mood! Glow even got glammed up in her vintage velvet dress and gold shoes. Soul was absolutely giddy about the whole dressing up process. I think that about fulfilled her make-up party wishes.

Of course, we didn’t want her to be dressed up with no place to go, so we semi-transformed our dining area into a little “fancy” dining area just for them. Ben even dressed up to play the part of the “butler.” The girls were loving that idea! They all came downstairs dressed up in their party garb, and we had them wait in line, so the “butler” could escort them to the table. It was so cute! One by one, Ben took their hand, led them to their seat, pulled it out, and once they sat, he scooted them in, and kissed their hand. Oh those girls were giggling each time he did it!

He took their drink orders and we even had sparkling juice (and water) for the occasion. This is a water only house, so having juice was a big deal. They loved getting fancy glasses and True even led them in a toast. Seriously, these girls are so freakin’ cute to watch (and yes, I know I’m totally biased). For appetizers, they were served “fancy” cheese and crackers and some chocolate covered strawberries, and for the main course, I made each of them their own mini pizza. They were loving how Ben was serving them and how they were able to order things. We closed the dinner with a birthday song and a double decker chocolate cake for our birthday girl. Everyone had a slice or two, and then we put on some music and had ourselves a tiny dance party (it lasted about 10 minutes).

We were all tired by the end of the evening, and Ben and I kept hugging our birthday girl. I say we pretty much made the birthday girl’s wishes come true. Can’t you tell by her adorable little grin?! Now, her request for next year is a princess party at a hotel! I’ll have to figure out how to translate that into something, but you never know, she may change her mind, so I have some time.

We love our Soulie. She has such a special, sweet and fiery spirit. Thank you Lord for giving for giving her 4 years thus far and we’re praying for many more to come! Love you lots our little Soul! 

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the tall taper candle was moved once they all sat down, but we did leave the low little one. The girls never touched it (we told them not to and they obeyed) and Ben was nearby the whole time. If we didn’t think they could handle it, it wouldn’t have been there.


a little something for everyone

uncommongoods Are you done with your Christmas shopping? I think I’m pretty much done. I have a couple more things to figure out, but I think we’re mostly all set. I think we will be wrapping presents by this week’s end. Here’s a little roundup of some things that I’m loving over at Uncommon Goods

For him
1. walnut bookend lamp. I finally got Ben’s books organized on the shelf and they could definitely use these book ends!
2. heart of gold. I would give this to him with a sweet little note. That guy of mine really has a heart of gold!
3. bubble alarm clock. This would look super cool by his side of the bed.
4. bio fuel lotion. He loves a good lotion. A side story: I have super dry, rough hands, so one of Ben’s first gifts for me when we started dating was a bottle of Kiehls lotion. I give him such a hard time about it because he gave it to me in a Neiman Marcus bag because he bought it there, but you can imagine that my mind was giddy with the idea of something pretty and fancy inside. Nope! It was just lotion. Though it was indeed fancy lotion! And it really did make my hands softer!

For her
5. handstitched Guatemalan pillow. I’m a sucker for pretty pillows!
6. stacking ring. I love the mix of metals! I’m definitely a ring gal; it’s my favorite type of jewelry.
7. cheese knife and slicer. I need this for our monthly girls’ cheese and w(h)ine night.
8. kantha blanket. I’ve always loved the gorgeous patterns on these blankets.

For the kids
9. build your city. My girls would flip for this. This is where they would have all their My Little Ponies live!
10. fox pillow. My Glow is obsessed with animals. She would definitely give this pillow some lovin’.
11. playon crayon. Things for creating are just always a must in their Christmas stockings!
12. balloon modeling kit. I think my kiddos would love this (but we’d have to be careful around Glow). This would definitely keep them captivated for a whole afternoon (and then some!).

Are you done with your Christmas shopping or are you a last minute shopper?

This post is in collaboration with Uncommon Goods. Check out some of the other beautifully curated gift guides from Uncommon Goods here. Thank you friends for your continuous support of this space! 


our soul turns four

Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soul turns 4 Soulie had been waiting patiently for her birthday to finally come around. About 6 months ago, she requested to have a make-up filled birthday! Before we got started on that part though, she had her traditional birthday breakfast in bed. She was awake bright and early (I was still cooking downstairs) and she made a special spot for her in our bed, awaiting to be showered with song and her special meal.

The big girls were super excited to give her that big stash of gifts pictured above. They are all things they made her and have been working on for days!  We came into the room singing “Happy Birthday,” while carrying her tray full of goodies, the big girls had a stack of presents in their arms, Ben videotaping Soul’s excitement, and Glow eyeing the breakfast on the tray. Soul’s moment had finally arrived and she was basking in all the love and attention.

The first thing she wanted to do was open presents. She opened the two Ben and I got her first; we got her some cute cat ballet flats from Old Navy (she doesn’t want to get them dirty so she doesn’t want to wear them out of the house) and we got her this wooden make-up set. Oh my goodness. From that moment, that make-up set has been stuck to her like glue. You will often see her pretending to put nail polish, blush, and lipstick! Ben is a bit uncomfortable with her obsession with makeup, but what can you do?! This is just one really girly girl! Then she proceeded to open the presents from her sisters (there are a lot!) and they are all the cutest things ever. They made her more “make-up” gifts! I think all their gifts and creativity deserve its own post. They take such pride in creating the perfect things for each other. I didn’t even know what they had made until Soul was opening them up!

All the girls did get to have the French toasts I made for everyone, but then we had to hurry up and skedaddle and send the big girls off to school. Soulie got to be queen for the day, and pretty much what she wanted to do, we did. I gave her a little spa treatment with a hand and foot massage and scrub, then proceeded to do her nails. Ben doesn’t allow the girls to wear nail polish at this age (it’s his preference), so it was a big deal that she got to do it for her birthday. It was one of her requests, so for her birthday, he obliged. She was loving that manicure and pedicure time! Afterwards, she relaxed in bed and watched her favorite show.

Before the big girls came home, I took Soul on a special froyo date and we had some sweet one on one time. It’s so special to be able to share some quiet moments with her one on one. It’s hard when you’re in the middle because she’s always had to share me. She is definitely the feisty one, but she’s still got a whole lot of sweet in her too, so I’m glad that we got to do a little celebrating of her that day.

Her birthday celebrating continued into the evening, filled with more girlishness and Soulie celebrating…


family meals: week 55

family meals family meals Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizza. It’s one of my go-to pizzas. It’s absolutely delicious (and easy!). o is my go-to recipe for whole wheat crust.

family meals Vietnamese Chicken Pho. I was sick and wanting some pho badly. I made a big pot full that I think I’ve had this 4 days in a row. Our stove went out and I couldn’t boil water for the noodles, so I ended up just having to use fresh udon noodles as a substitute, it’s not the same, but it did the job.

Week 12/9 – 12/13
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Crab cakes
Wednesday: Ben’s birthday dinner
Thursday: Black Bean Soup
Friday: Sushi/pizza night

It’s been cold and soups (and spicy things) are all I’ve been craving. If you have a yummy, spicy soup to share, please do!


oatmeal pecan pie

oatmeal pecan pie Oatmeal Pecan Pie
lightened up, but still delicious

Ingredients for the pie crust (adapted from this recipe):
1 1/4 cups flour
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
4 – 6 tbsp ice water, may need more or less depending on the consistency of the dough
oatmeal pecan pie Ingredients for the pie filling:
1 cup mixed sugar: 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup Splenda, 1/3 cup erythritol* OR 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup Splenda
1/2 cup Light Log Cabin pancake syrup
1 tbsp light molasses (use 2 tbsp if using 1/2 sugar & 1/2 Splenda mixture)
2/3 cup quick oats
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped pecans

*Erythritol is a granulated sugar substitute available at health stores.

To make the pie crust 
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor and mix thoroughly. Slowly add in butter by pulsing. Add a tbsp of water a little bit at a time, pulsing between each addition. Pinch mixture together, if it sticks together, the dough is ready.

2. Pour out dough onto a clean work surface and lightly knead together. It may take a bit of work to get all the pieces together. Form the dough into a ball and wrap with a plastic wrap. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour (I threw mine in the freezer for 30 minutes).

3. On a clean, floured surface, roll out the ball of dough until 1/4″ thick and about a 14″ circle. Place pie tin upside down on the dough and cut out a circle approximately 1″ – 1 1/2″ wider than the circumference of the pie tin.

4. Lightly coat the pie tin with flour (or butter) to help prevent crust from sticking. Place the dough into the tin and gently press down until it is resting on the bottom and sides of the tin. Cut away any excess dough, and using a fork, press it all around to crimp the pie edges. I’m not an expert pie crust fluter (would that even be the right term?!), but it did the job, and this was a homemade pie after all!

If you aren’t up for making pie crust, you could also use a 9 inch unbaked, ready-made pie crust, and it comes out just as delicious.
oatmeal pecan pie Putting together the pie
5. Preheat the oven to 450°.

6. Combine all the pie filling ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Once it is completely combined, pour the filling into the unbaked pie crust.

7. Place in the hot oven, and immediately lower heat to 325°, and bake for about 55-60 minutes or until the center is set. I find determining when a pecan pie is done to be slightly tricky. You want the center to be jiggly and no longer runny. Give the pie a little tap, and if the center jiggles, take it out, and the pie will continue setting outside of the oven. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
oatmeal pecan pie oatmeal pecan pie This recipe was made by Ben’s co-worker, Julianne, who is a registered dietitian, so this is her version of a sort of “healthier” pecan pie (this recipe was another one she shared with me). She had brought some pie to work, and he came home with a slice for me. Actually, all that he left me was a sliver. Once I had the little sliver, I knew I wanted the recipe. I love all things sweet, so it’s not hard for me to find a new dessert to love.

I know some people are hesitant about Splenda, but it’s just another thing to have in moderation. Just like with most things anyway, right? Ben will share it as an option for some of his patients (he’s a dietitian), because for some people with diabetes, who still need to satisfy their sweet tooth craving, it’s a good alternative. I usually don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners, but in this pie, I can’t taste it. Obviously, if you’re anti-artificial sweetener, then just use 1 cup of sugar for the recipe.

Nutritional information per 1/12th slice: Calories, 200; Fat: 10g; Cholesterol, 60mg; Sodium, 210mg; Protein, 3g; Carbohydrate, 24g; Fiber 1g; Sugars, 15g. Calories may vary slightly between pre-made and homemade crust.

Obviously, you still don’t want to eat the whole pie! But imagine what a regular pecan pie might be like! Lightened up or not, something like pecan pie is still a sometimes food, but I’ll never object to having it on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I have another ball of pie dough sitting in the freezer, so this pie may be getting made again soon.



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