Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year...New Calendar!

It's a Christmas tradition that every year I make a Photoshopped calendar for my husband for the New Year.  It started 8 years ago on our first Christmas together and it always my favorite gift to watch him open on Christmas morning. 

From shows that we binge watched over the past new and old movies...we become our favorite characters (to love and hate) of the past year. 

I cloned myself for Orphan Black...

 Became Vice President of the United States in VEEP... 

Brian took over Washington D.C. too in House of Cards

He solved impossible crimes with the help of Sherlock...

Saved the world as Spiderman...

 And the planet in Interstellar...
We traveled back in time in Bull Durham... 
 And switched sports but stayed Kevin Costner in Draft Day...
 And last, but certainly not least, I have to do one laugh out loud funny photoshop for the year.  This was it.

Mission accomplished
Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Cookies

This Christmas was a little different for my family.  With my husband recovering from surgery we weren't able to travel far to see family so we all decided to meet up in Williamsburg for lunch.

From Charlottesville, Ashland, Warsaw and Fredericksburg and Virginia Beach we came together for the afternoon. 

Typically I love to bake the week leading up to Christmas for our family gathering- putting together fun foods like the Christmas tree made out of grapes I did last year.

With our shortened visit I still wanted to make something special for each family member to take with them so I made these Peppermint patty stuffed Ritz crackers covered in chocolate!  So easy and yet so good!

Just stuff a peppermint patty between two Ritz crackers and microwave for 7 more! Trust me. Press the crackers down lightly being careful not to break the peppermint patty.  Melt chocolate almond bark and dip the cracker combo in.  Set it on parchment paper to cool.  I added a few Andes crushed peppermint chips on top for decoration.

Next up Nilla Wafer "Cake Bites"

Nilla wafers stuffed with jam and topped with white chocolate and sprinkles!  So cute!! Recipe found here

My sister and I not only look a like...we also have the same sweet tooth so I knew she would like these M&M cookies.

Soft, chewy pudding cookies with TWO kinds of chocolate chips and M&Ms...what's not to like?!  Follow the recipe here  It calls for white chocolate chips but since I was out I just used 1/2 milk chocolate and 1/2 semi sweet.  You can't go wrong with more chocolate! 

From my home to yours...Merry Christmas and here's to an even sweeter 2015! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Peppermint Sugar Scrub

Along with my Mason Jar Hot Chocolate mugs I wanted to do something for my mother-in-law and that a real word?  If not, I just made it up :) 

I already made this crockpot candy for my new friend Carol and it made so much that I saved some for gifts for the in-laws.

I wanted to do something else that was sweet...but with a twist.  

Peppermint Sugar Body Scrub
This was SO quick and easy to make and smells wonderful!

2 cups granulated white sugar
1/3 cup LIGHT olive oil 
1/8 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

and just for fun I added in a few drops of essential peppermint oil that I had.

I divided up the sugar into two bowls and added a few drops of red food coloring into one until I got the color just right.

My hands felt so soft after making this I may have to make some for myself!

Take time during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to relax and enjoy! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

French Vanilla Hot Chocolate

Leading up to Christmas it's always a rush to finish up all of my shopping.

I try to get a head start but always end up behind. One thing I have to save time for is a few DIY gifts.

Last year I made everyone this mason jar granola  But this year I decided to go a little sweeter with homemade Hot Chocolate in a mason jar 

  • 6 cups Nonfat Dry Powdered Milk
  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 8 oz. French Vanilla Flavor Non-Dairy Powdered Coffee Creamer
  • 2 cups Nesquick
  • One 6 oz. box Instant French Vanilla Pudding Mix
    Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and divide into jars.

    A simple gift tag with a few instructions on the back finish it up. 
And a few stickers to add some more holiday cheer! 
There's nothing like a mug of hot chocolate to warm your heart this holiday season! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sweet Strangers

Sometimes God brings you just what you need...this week that was a stranger named Carol. 

On Wednesday I took my husband to the ER in excruciating pain. We got there around 1:30 and for the next 4 hours he was in the worst pain of his life and nothing the doctors or nurses did could help. The CT scan didn't show anything wrong.  Finally at around 6pm the surgeon came and said "We don't know what's going on but his pain level is so high we know it's something. He needs exploratory surgery."  They explained they would do a Laparoscopy and if that didn't show anything they would open him up and keep searching.  She told me they didn't know what they would find or how long it would be.   

I was alone, scared and crying in the waiting room when a woman said, "You're not sitting by yourself over come sit with us."   Carol and her brother sat and talked with me until the doctors came and told me the surgery went fine and he would be ok. 

He had an adhesion on his small intestine that was wrapping itself around his bowel.  If we had waiting until the morning to do the surgery, the bowel would have died.

I have never been so scared before.   My husband's parents were on their way from North Carolina but in the meantime I would have sat there alone if had not been for Carol- my Christmas angel. 

As a small thank you I met up with Carol today and brought her some of my crockpot candy.  
1 16oz jar of unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1 16oz  jar of salted dry roasted peanuts
1 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 12 oz bag of Reese's peanut butter chips
1lb package of white chocolate candy bark.

Layer the ingredients in the crock pot starting with the nuts and finishing with the white chocolate.  Cook on low for an hour and then stir.  Let cook for about another hour before scooping onto either parchment paper or into muffin liners.

I wanted something cute to put the treats in so I upcycled a container of nuts.  
I wrapped some Christmas paper around it and it was the perfect size

 I can never thank Carol enough.  Her small act of kindness meant so much to me!

You never know what each day is going to bring.  My husband said when he woke up that morning he was just thinking about going to work- not that he would end up in the worst pain of his life.

I didn't know I would be alone and scared when a stranger would step in and comfort me...but I'm so grateful she did.

My husband is home now.  He's in some pain from his incision sites but no where near what he went through Tuesday!  We are both just so grateful that the doctors knew to go in to look even if they didn't know what to look for.  I believe God lead them there just like he led Carol to me that night. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ugly Christmas Sweater DIY project

Christmas is almost here!! 

That time of year that I spend WAY too much time on Pinterest finding ideas for Christmas that I don't have enough time to make.  

This weekend I looked for a quick project that I could actually finish. I already had some Christmas sweater remnants from my DIY leg warmers project  so I decided to make something out of the rest of it.

This is what I came up with

I took the sweater and wrapped it around an 8x10 canvas.  I still had more sweater parts left so I took a trip to Goodwill where I found the vase. 

I found another white Christmas sweater and couldn't resist having a pair.

One thing I am NOT crafty with...ribbons.  So don't look close- those are just plain ol plastic bows stuck on top.  Maybe next Christmas I'll tackle making my own bows.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hearty White Bean Vegetable Soup

This weekend was a whirlwind!  I took a trip to Memphis to visit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  

It was an inspiring trip and I'm never ceased to be amazed at what they do there! We toured the research lab and spoke to a doctor who is working on finding links between ALS and childhood cancer using fruit flies!  When we asked "why fruit flies?"  She said that we share the same basic DNA. Of course, our DNA differed enough though to give us hands and them wings to fly.  I feel a little gypped.

It is a truly wonderful place though.  Aside from the research being done and the live saving treatments, they work hard to make every child there feel "normal."  From the bright colorful murals on the wall, to the "make your cupcake station" in the cafeteria, to holding proms and graduations they treat EVERY need.

From St. Jude I headed home and geared up for the VBSPCA Walk for the Animals where I met "Socks" a 12 year old Pomeranian who was surrendered to the shelter after her elderly owner could no longer care for her. She has been through a lot...including loosing an eye...but she is the sweetest most loving dog! I could have held her all day!  Learn more about Sox here

A photo posted by Stephanie Taylor (@973stephanie) on

It was an emotionally fulfilling weekend and by Sunday night I was ready to relax and enjoy some comfort food :) That's where this soup came in...Hearty White Bean Vegetable Soup. 

Easy to prepare and just what I needed!  Here's the recipe

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Laundry Room Fun

Is it just me or did this past Labor Day weekend feel hotter than all of August combined?  My husband and I hibernated all weekend watching Orphan Black.  

I'm not into Sci-Fi or anything scary...basically I'm a wuss...and yet somehow I am now addicted to this show!

I had to take a break at one point though and be productive so I started to organize our laundry room.  Something I don't think has been done since we moved into our house!  I came across this on Pinterest and set out to make my own version

When I told my husband about this project he said "No, it should say Money Laundering"  Clearly he has watched WAY too much Breaking Bad
I've never seen an episode (again, I'm usually a wuss) but I admitted, it was a great idea.  We found a piece of poplar wood at Home Depot for $5.  I fell in love with the green down the front of it.  I planned to upcycle an old jar but I had to splurge on a $4 green mason jar to match.

I felt like it was missing something though...that's where all the pennies I found discarded in the laundry room came in

I lined them all up and started super gluing right at the kitchen table.  BIG mistake.  I ended up getting super glue on the table which took off the veneer in one spot!  UGH!  Any suggestions on how to cover this up?

I am happy with how the project turned out...even if I'll have a permanent reminder of it on my kitchen table.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Adventures in staycations

My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary this year and decided to stay home and enjoy our first ever staycation. We figured we live at the beach, why not enjoy it?!

So we acted like tourists all week and if anyone asked where we were from instead of saying "oh we're local" we decided to be from Alaska :)  Hey- at least it explained the pale skin! 

Our adventure really started with a Dolphin Kayak Tour at the oceanfront.  It's so cool seeing the dolphins swimming all around you

The dolphins probably look even cooler now wearing the sunglasses we lost in the ocean.  On our way back in our kayak caught a wave flipping us over!  The kayak landed on my head knocking me under the water...did I mention I don't know how to swim?!  I've never loved my life jacket more.

Next up...we decided to try out the Adventure Park.  

This look says it all...what did I get myself into???
 It took me about an hour to complete the junior course... the junior one!!!
and when I got to the end there was only one way to go...down.  My husband...being a gentleman...jumped first.  Which we quickly realized meant I was left alone on the platform!   I stood on on top for what felt like another hour trying to get up the nerve to jump.  In reality, it was about 10 minutes.  Finally an eight year old and her Grandma joined me on the platform.  The little girl tried to encourage me to jump but when that didn't work Grandma pushed me off!!!  (Thanks Nana- I needed that!)
We kept it a little more low key the rest of our staycation.  Enjoying a little beach time
and taking our kayak out to Rudees Inlet
We took a tour of the Norfolk harbor
 and watched the sunset over the water

We checked out some old restaurant favs and a few new spots like Charlie's Cafe in Norfolk, Freemason Abbey, Tradewinds and for dessert...Doumar's! 

It was a great week and the best part... 

we don't have to travel far to do it all again :)