Shepard’s Pie Recipe

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One of my husband’s favorite things to eat is Shepard’s Pie. Since it is Friday and he had such a long week at work, I figured he deserved some comfort food. Shepard’s Pie is an English dish but I’m pretty sure my version is straight-up American; being that I use ground beef instead of lamb. It’s a dish that combines meat, veggies, and (my husband’s all-time favorite) MASHED POTATOES! Notice, mashed potatoes was not lumped in with the veggies, in this house it’s a food group of it’s own. Even at our wedding we had a mashed potato bar. To make this savory comfort food you will need:

Shepard’s Pie mixture

  • 1 lb ground beef (I use the leanest I can find)
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 large onion, chopped into tiny pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 paprika
  • Canned veggies (We use corn, carrots, and peas. Also low sodium is ideal)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 1 tablesppon flour

Mashed potatoes

  • 1-2 cups milk
  • 3-4 peeled, washed, and quartered potatoes
  • 1/2-1 stick of butter
  • Sprinkle of salt

Directions:

  1. Brown ground beef in skillet, drain grease, and return to pan.
  2. Add onions and garlic to pan, cook with hamburger until onions are clear. If needed add a little beef broth, to cook onions/garlic.
  3. Add beef broth,ketchup, nutmeg, and paprika. Bring to simmer.
  4. Once bubbling, add in vegetables. MAKE SURE TO DRAIN THEM FIRST!
  5. Let them cook for about 2 minutes.
  6. After the veggies are heated through, add flour and stir. This should give the mixture a thicker consistency. Add flour as needed to get the consistency you want. I like mine to be similar to a runny gravy.
  7. Layer in a casserole dish once done.
  8. Preheat oven to 400°.

It should look something like this before you add it to the casserole dish. (This was before I added flour- if you want it really thick you can add cornstarch)

shepardspie

 

Mashed potatoes and Final Touches:

  1. Boil quartered potatoes 10-15 minutes until tender.
  2. Drain water. Return to where ever you will be doing the “mashing.”
  3. Add in butter, milk, and salt. Mix util nice and creamy.
  4. Add the potatoes on top on the Shepard’s pie mixture.
  5. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika if you feeling fancy.
  6. Bake in oven 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is browned.

That’s it! Dinner is served! This dish is actually pretty easy to make but I have heard of people making it really quick with instant potatoes. Where I come from, there is NO shortcut to potatoes. I am so ashamed for even mentioning the unspeakable-instant potatoes. BUT, whatever floats your boat. I know sometimes even Southern mom’s don’t have time for ALL that. I just know the one thing I can never skip on making homemade is mashed potatoes. A sure way to my man’s heart is through his belly!

What are some of the dishes you make for loved ones? I love finding new tasty dishes.

A Mother’s Day weekend retreat

Mother's Day

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day and what this mom needed more than anything was a BREAK! And I’m not even a little bit scared to admit it. Judge me all you want, being a mom is T-O-U-G-H. Night feedings that seem to be never-ending, diaper changes that feel like wrestling matches, extra laundry, having your day dictated by nap times, suctioning tiny noses that don’t want to be suctioned (so gross, by the way), are just some challenges moms face. On the other hand, I never felt true joy until I held my baby boy in my arms. I thought I had but I was completely wrong. I love him so much and he inspires me to be a better person. I swear something changes when you become a mom, it’s like the whole world shifts, and you finally realize what matters most: FAMILY. Not that I didn’t know it before, it just I would get stressed about things that in the grand scheme of things don’t matter at all.

Unfortunately, my husband and I don’t live close to family so date night kind of died when Landon was born. We probably should find a regular baby sitter, but it’s just so scary to leave your baby with someone you don’t really know. I had a terrible time letting him go to daycare, but the people there are great. The first step is just hard I guess. Soon, I will be adding that to my to-do list.

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Luckily, for Mother’s Day my husband arranged for friends of ours, who have two kids of their own, to watch Landon overnight so we could finally have a night together. It was the first time that we have had a night to ourselves in 11 months! He surprised me by taking me to the Ritz-Carlton for a night. It was just what I needed. From the moment I walked through the door, I just seemed to relax. How could you not with the soft classical music playing and it being so pretty everywhere you looked? I don’t think I have ever seen so many chandeliers in my life. They were everywhere in the lobby, hallways, elevator….

When we got to the lobby they had cute Mother’s Day cookies, lemon and lime infused water, and apples for the guests. There was also bottle water everywhere. The room was every girl’s dream! There was a big fluffy bed, a soaking tub, walk-in shower, a vanity outside the bathroom so I had a perfect place to sit and get all dolled up. I know this may not seem over-the-top amazing to you but when getting to take a shower daily is a luxury, this was phenomenal.

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For dinner we went to Wildfire and treated ourselves to cocktails, calamari, and filet. We didn’t have any room for dessert, but when we got back to our room our turn down service left us chocolates on our bed. I would gotten a picture of that too BUT it was gone before that even crossed my mind. Oh my, I do love chocolate! Which reminds me of how sweet my husband is, he had ordered us chocolate strawberries via room service for when we arrived.

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Ladies, I think I’ve got a keeper. We followed up our amazing night with room service for breakfast, which didn’t disappoint. Then we packed up our stuff to go pick up my little cutie pie. It was an amazing weekend and I was very pleased with our stay at the Ritz.

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P.S. Some of the pictures would have been better, but I didn’t want to look like a creeper or someone who had never been in a hotel before.

Book Review: Shadow Falls Series (must read)

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I just read the Shadow Falls series and I LOVED it! It consists of 5 books: Born at Midnight, Awake at Dawn, Taken at Dusk, Whispers at Moonrise, and Chosen at Nigthfall.  I may be growing up but I still love young adult fiction. This series reminds me of what would happen if you put Harry Potter and Twilight into a blender and mixed it up. It has super naturals, magic, and a love story. The series is about a girl who learns that she may be more than just your average human. It all begins when she starts seeing a stranger that no one else can see. This forces her mother to put her into therapy which somehow leads her to attending the summer camp, Shadow Falls, for troubled teens. However, upon discovering she may not be human, she is left not knowing what she is or where she belongs.

Shadow Falls Book 3 and 4

The journey of self-discovery that, Kylie Galen, goes through is incredibly honest and captivating. There is a love triangle with a charming fae and buff werewolf, but it does not consume the whole story line. The young lady finds herself in some scary confrontations with evil (evil vampires, evil spirits, even evil animals) where she must find the courage to fight for her life and the lives of others.

Chosen at Night Fall

The tone of this series is very relatable to anyone who reads it. It makes you think of how important friendship is. I must admit that the ending was a little too well wrapped up for me, but it does not change the fact that I will read the series again. Among the super naturals that belong to this series are werewolves, faes, witches, shape shifters, and some other super natural that is truly unique.

When reading this series be prepared to read all 5 books at once. I know I could not wait to see where the next book would take Ms. Galen, in her adventure of becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Overall, I think it is a must read series if you like young adult fiction. What did y’all think of the series? What books do you recommend?

Go-to Shops for the bargin shopper

go-to-shops

I love to go shopping any chance I get. I also try to be very reasonable when I shop. You do not have to spend a million dollars to look like a million bucks! I will admit I occasionally splurge, but not often. When I do, it has to be for a piece that I completely fall in love with. Like head-over-feet, wear-every-chance-I-get in love. Here are stores I frequent whenever I get a chance. They seem to cover the basics of what I seem to need without breaking the bank. When I have a chance I’ll go over my splurge stores.

My favorite stores for MYSELF (in no particular order):

Always has the current trends. Their clothes are playful and fun. I love the Gap. I really miss their musical commercials. I will never forget the They call me mellow yellow… one.

Highly recommend for the trends that you know you won’t wear forever. This place makes it easy to buy pieces to keep with the trends but not break the bank.

My go to for office attire. AND they have mark-downs all the time!

I love everything in this store. I LOVE IT. They have the most polished sophisticated looks that I can’t get enough of. I especially love their outlet stores.

Another of my favorites. Enough said.

Money saver and usually good for going out attire.

If you’re an Angel, you know they have the best coupons. Who doesn’t love getting free underwear WITHOUT having to but anything!

Has a little bit of everything. I actually find A LOT of the stuff for my husband here.

I cruise through there women’s stuff anytime I get a chance. I’m always having to go here for something anyway, so occasionally (or frequently) I get a new scarf, or tank, or pj, set out of it.

Department.Store.Warehouse. Best idea ever!

Who can get enough of this store? Color coordinated and full of jewelry, hand bags, and shoes. It’s accessory heaven.

This is my go to place for summer stuff. I don’t care if I’m the oldest person in the store, they have the cutest denim shorts and skirts for cheap.

Good for everything, need I say more?

Dillards has amazing shoe sales at the end of each season!

Ok I actually love JC Penney. However, all of the stores are not created equal. The one at Fair Oaks Mall is fabulous. I find dresses for special occasions here all the time for barely anything. It’s a HUGE money saver without sacrificing style.

Again not all stores are created equal. The Lynchburg, Virginia, Belk is how those from my quaint hometown can still line their closets with cute clothes.

How to make Oreo Balls

What you need:

  • 1 pack of Oreos
  • 8oz of cream cheese
  • melting chocolate (for dipping- can use white or milk chocolate)
  • parchment paper

Oreo balls are so good and they are really easy to make. They use minimal ingredients: Oreos, cream cheese, and chocolate. My husband and I even made them as our wedding favors!  We made a little bride and groom set.  For that we had to use sticks because of the way we had to dip the “grooms” to make tuxes.

  1. Crush a pack of Oreos in a food processor and mix with 8 ounces of softened cream cheese.
    NOTE: This was a picture taken when I was making a bigger batch, that used 2 packs of Oreos and 2 packs of cream cheese.oreoballs
  2. Form mixture into balls and place on cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  3. After balls are hard, dip in white chocolate bark and allow to harden. I usually stick them back in the fridge to harden.  They will harden on their own after about 5 minutes (without cooling them).
  4. Once the white chocolate has set, use a sandwich bag with a small corner cut to drizzle milk chocolate (chocolate bark) on the balls.
  5. Eat after milk chocolate has set up. They are delicious!

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Honeypig: A dining experience to remember

Korean grill

Sides

I have never had Korean BBQ but thanks to Groupon I decided to try it.
I was not brave enough to go by myself so I had my twin sister go with me.
I had seen pictures on yelp so I knew it was very different then the BBQ I grew up with-those mouth-watering pulled pork sandwiches with homemade coleslaw.  Korean BBQ consists of putting seasoned chicken, beef, pork, octopus, etc. on a heated grill-like thing that is it the middle of your table.  It is served with several different sides.
Rice, salad, fish cakes, and other items that were tasty (but I have no clue what they were).  You also get some sort of egg dish for your table to share.  We decided since we had a groupon that we would get a mix of food and take the leftovers home.  We got dumplings, as an appetizer, which were delicious.  However, with the amount of food you get an appetizer plus your entree equals a food coma.

Asian dumplings

Meats on grill
Our entrees were boneless ribs and spicy chicken.  As your food cooks, people will come by and turn in over and cut it up. This was actually fascinating to me.  For the chicken they used what looked like salad tongs and the sharpest scissors ever made to cut it up.
It was so much different than using a knife and so much more effective.  I think I will be doing this in the future. I also was overwhelmed at how kind the staff was.  It was a great experience and I will be back.  Next time I won’t feel so lost.  I didn’t know how I was supposed to eat anything or what some things were, but I feel like we did an ok job of not seeming completely clueless.  I am a little ashamed that apparently my chopstick skills are so bad they brought me a fork. Honeypig, I will be back.  Another perk, this place is open 24 hours.  My partying days are mostly behind me but this would be a great spot to hit after a long night out.

How to color your hair at home

Today, I am getting highlights which got me thinking about my hair color obsession. Full color, highlights, lowlights-I’ve done it all.  I have also had some scary occurrences (which all happened at a salon). One was so bad it took 7 hours and multiple salons to get my hair close to livable again. I have even been brave enough to color at home. I’m a big fan on using semi-permanent hair color to get that slightly darker look for the winter months.
If you are brave enough to do your hair at home, here are some pointers I learned along the way:

  1. Use semi-permanent hair color.This way you can see how much you like it before you color your hair permanently. If you don’t like the color you get with semi-permanent, you can use clarifying shampoo to wash it out. My favorite is Clairol’s Natural Instincts collection.
  2. Get help.  I always recruit my husband -who-hates-it- but I give him the whole this is saving us money speech. This will help to not make a huge mess and to make sure all parts of your hair are covered.
  3. Apply moisturizer or lotion to your face and neck before you start.This prevents color from staining these areas.
  4. Protect your clothes, by NOT wearing any.DOES A ROBE COUNT? You are going to have to get in the shower after your color is applied or wash your hair in a sink.
    I have found the easiest way to do this is to use an old cap-n-gown (they zip up and down so no having to pull anything over your head). Just upzip when you are ready to rinse your hair in the shower.
  5. Use a drop cloth or color your hair in an area that you aren’t afraid if you drop some dye. Hair dye stains if you don’t wipe it away quickly. I have used an old bed skirt as a drop cloth if you don’t have one handy.
  6. If you have long, full hair, you are going to need more than 1 box. I suggest buying 3 boxes of hair color. Save your receipt, if you don’t use them all you can return the extra boxes.
  7. Do not use the color touch up that some kits come with (to use a week after coloring). It’s NOT the same color as your hair dye! It’s usually a toner that adds red tones to your hair, which may not be the look you are going for. Once red is in your hair it is very difficult to get out.
  8. If you are going lighter than your current hair color, go to a salon.Seriously, don’t try to go blonde by yourself. You do not want to have pumpkin hair or to damage it!

You Know You’re a Mom When

You know you're a mom when

  • You can’t read Love You Forever by Robert Munsch without crying-and I mean REALLY crying. (I couldn’t do this when pregnant either)

    I’ll love you forever,

    I’ll like you for always,

    As long as I’m living

    my baby you’ll be.

  • The date of the next Disney movie release is a BIG deal.
  • Your brain turns to mush, more times then you’ll ever admit. What happens to it during pregnancy? There is no way I was this forgetful before baby! To do lists and grocery lists are now a must.
  • Earrings have to be much more practical, unless you like having your ears pulled liked a horse’s reigns.
  • You can speed: Eat, Clean, Shower, Pee, etc.
  • You spend more time looking at diaper bags than purses.
  • Shopping for shoes, comfort starts being a priority.
  • Even innocent things like pillows can scare you silly. Who knows when my little one will sleep with a pillow, maybe when he is 5?
  • Sitting in silence for 5 minutes is like a mini vacation.
  • You cannot go into a Babies R Us without spending $200 (you went there for a sippy cup).
  • Waking up at 8am feels like Christmas morning.