Christmas Name Cards: Free Download!

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It’s almost Christmas! Yikes! I feel like I am scrambling to get things done, but at the same time…nothing is getting accomplished!! The girls have this whole week before Christmas off of school and I have been spoiled with them both in full time school and having those hours to check things off my to-do list. Plus, they seem extra cranky and messy lately (sigh). Mom life am I right?!

But I realized that with Christmas just a few days away, I better start thinking of my table setting! Given how this week is going I thought I should keep things super simple and not try and reinvent the wheel. So I whipped these place cards up to go with the glitter Christmas party crackers I found from Meri Meri (click here for free download. And there is an editable field to type your guests names!). Black, white and gold this year! And maybe a bit of greenery thrown in there 🙂 I also felt it appropriate to have the “peace, love and joy” theme this year. 2016 seemed to be more crazy and emotional in the world than usual and we could all use some Christmas joy and magic to make the world a little brighter for 2017. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. Much love to you all!

Random Pretty Things for the Holidays

I posted this picture yesterday on Instagram and promised the sources and/or links. These are just a few things I have around the house that make me smile when I look at them. Some of them are no longer available, but they can be used as inspiration or be on the hunt for something similar.

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  1. Necklace: from Madewell. Here is a similar one. You can’t go wrong with any of their jewelry!
  2. Chinese Scissors: I found these beauties as an early Christmas gift to myself 🙂 from Amazon
  3. Felt Mistletoe: Mine is from West Elm years ago, but click here is a similar one
  4. Polar Bear: Again this bear is from West Elm a while ago, but Restoration Hardware has some really cute ones this year.
  5. Trees: These are from Target Dollar Spot
  6. Yarn: Again from the Target Dollar Spot. I swing through that section every time I go to Target. You can always find some sort of gem in there!
  7. Brass Pomegranate…Target again folks. There are so many perfect little decorative accessories every season. I heart that store waaaaay too much!
  8. Gold Mini Picture Frame: Paper Source. Who’d a thunk, but they have some really cute accessories for the home and office. And some great gifts!

Lazy Vegetable Pesto Soup

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This is by far my favorite vegetable soup. I usually think they can be bland and boring. So one day I had a little bit of pesto left over and decided to at it in…can’t hurt I thought. And wow, just that little bit elevated the flavor to a new level!

Here’s my other secret for us lazy…err I prefer to use the term “busy”…people. Pick up some pre chopped Mirepoix (onion, carrots and celery). It seriously cuts down on chopping time and is inexpensive. Trader Joe’s carries it in a 14.5 ounce container and all the work is done for you. It’s the perfect amount for a pot of soup – I’m telling you folks, I use this almost every time for soups now. Also to cut down on time, Trader Joe’s fresh Genova Pesto tastes almost like home made. This soup comes together in no time when you only have to chop a few things! And it’s so comforting on a chilly winter day.

Lazy Vegetable Pesto Alphabet Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 14.5 oz pre chopped Mirepoix
  • 1-2 small chopped zucchini 1/4″ cubes
  • 2 32oz vegetable stock
  • 1-2 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 3.5 oz fresh basil pesto
  • 1 cup alphabet past or your favorite mini pasta
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add Mirepoix and chopped zucchini to saute for 5-8 minutes until soft. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add spinach, parsley, pesto and pasta. Simmer for 15-20 minutes (until pasta is cooked). Salt and pepper to taste.

It’s as easy as that! In about 30 minutes start to finish you have a healthy, cozy and yummy meal 🙂

 

Land Rover Christmas Gift Tags…Did I say Free?!

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Happy Monday everyone. I hope your weekend was relaxing and fun filled. OUrs was all over the board. A snow day, sledding, a trip to the doctors (the little had an ear infection 🙁 ), decorating cookies, house chores, christmas parties, and some desperate bonding with our new bird who doesn’t seem to like me as much as I like her (sniff sniff).

As promised from last week, I pulled together another gift tag for the more rugged folk in your lives. And it’s free! Just click here, print and trim. Easy peasy. Just two more weeks till Christmas…gotta get crackin’. Hope your week is festive!

Xo, Jessica

Hazelnut Chocolate Shortbread Christmas Cookies

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I’m failing my early New Year’s resolution already 🙁 I vowed I would only make one Christmas cookie this year since they don’t get eaten like they used to (this low sugar thing, blah, blah, blah). I let me girls pick what kind they wanted and of course they wanted cut-out sugar cookies with all the bells and whistles of frosting and sprinkles (insert heavy sigh here). I resolved myself to say that was ok. But I should know myself better after 39 years of this. Lying in bed the other night, I was thinking about my Nana’s shortbread that I loved as a kid and haven’t made in several years. Then I thought how much I love Nutella…errrr… chocolate hazelnut butter. Hello! A marriage made in heaven I say.

So I made my own Nutella from my Blendtec cookbook. Super easy by the way. Then I set about making the shortbread yesterday. As you can see by my little post-it note, that’s all I have of my Nana’s recipe. I have no idea where it came from, but my dad grew up with them, my mom made them for my brother and I as kids and now I make them. It’s a super simple recipe with few ingredients. I think it’s the simplicity that I like. Or maybe it’s the memories I hold on to of my Nana who passed when I was young. Or maybe it’s the brown sugar, buttery, flakiness of the cookies that I love. I’m guessing it’s the whole package 🙂

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Without further ado here is the recipe for the chocolate nut butter and shortbread:

Chocolate Hazelnut butter: recipe from Blendtec

Ingredients:

  • 2   cups toasted hazelnuts
  • 12   cup coconut oil, melted
  • 12   cup cocoa powder
  • 1   tsp vanilla extract
  • 1   cup powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Add coconut oil and hazelnuts to FourSide or WildSide+ jar and secure lid (If making in Twister jar, decrease ingredients by half). Blend on a low speed for 15 seconds and then increase to a high speed for 35 seconds (until blended time reads 50 seconds).
  2. Stir mixture towards center of jar, then secure lid.
  3. Blend on a medium speed for 50 seconds. Stir, secure lid, and repeat this cycle two more times.
  4. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar to jar and secure lid. Blend on a medium speed for 50 seconds.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving or spreading on shortbread cookies.

*Note: To toast hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350°F. Spread hazelnuts on shallow baking sheet and toast in oven until skins darken, approximately 8-10 minutes. To ensure even toasting, stir the hazelnuts after 4-5 minutes in oven, then finish toasting. Wrap the cooled hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub towel back and forth to remove most of the hazelnut skins.

Nana’s Shortbread Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 cups white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions: Makes Approx. 30-40 individual cookies (15-20 sandwich cookies)

  1. Heat oven to 325°
  2. In a standing mixer, mix on medium low all ingredients until dough just comes together, but be careful not to over mix or over handle the dough!! Form dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Roll out dough to approx. 3/8 inch thick. Cut circles using a 1.5″ circle cookie cutter. *I used a 2″ in the picture above, but personally they would be better smaller and would get more cookies!
  4. Bake on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat liner for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. Keep an eye on them the last few minutes. The bottoms should be just lightly browned.
  5. Once cooled, spread one cookie with chocolate hazelnut butter and place another on top. Store in fridge or freezer. Enjoy!

Christmas / Holiday Gift Tag Freebie

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I’m popping in twice in one day! It’s a record for me since I rarely get more than an hour or two to sit at my computer. But today, I was able to create some holiday gift tags for you to print out. Maybe I have birds on my mind because we just added a new little parakeet to our family or maybe it’s because this world feels like it could use some Peace on Earth.

Without getting too deep, I hope that during this special time of year, no matter what your faith or beliefs are, that we can all have some moments of peace in the world. A moment where we can wake up, turn the news on and not have to sensor it from our children.

I hope your holiday season is filled with peace, love and joy! Click here for the free printable gift tags.  You get 12 per page and can print as many as you need. And I’ve got an idea for a landrover one for those more rugged folk in your life so check back next week for another freebie 🙂

Avocado Toast with Pomegranates

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Hey y’all…I’m not from the south, but it’s such a warm and friendly opening, that it’s fun to use every now and then. Ok – back to my purpose here 🙂 I posted this beautiful pic last week on Instagram. I was craving some avocado toast, which by now, is familiar to most everyone who enjoys themselves some avocado. I do love a simple and straight forward avocado on toast sprinkled with salt and pepper and then drizzled with some olive oil. However, on this particular day, I was craving some comfort food for lunch with a bit of punch at the end. As luck would have it, I had some pomegranates to use up. Just sprinkle some on top and you have yourself an elevated avocado toast in no time at all. And it’s festive for the season. They would be great little appetizers at your next holiday party too! Just make mini versions 🙂

There really is no need for a recipe posted here, but just in case…Toast some good bread (I used Como bread, but a seeded wholegrain would be delish as well). Thinly slice some ripe avocado for your toast. Drizzle with good olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and pomegranates. And the next most important step is to take a huge bite (if in the company of one’s own) and enjoy comforting yumminess of this fabulous combo!

Christmas Kids Lunch/Love Notes: Freebie!!

lunch-notes_xmas img_6957Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend filled with loads of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, family and holiday decorating! We certainly did and what an effort it is. Every year I tell myself it’s too much, but then throughout the year I forget and get excited to do it all over again…who’s with me?!

I digress…the point of this post is to offer you some free printable Christmas themed lunch notes for your kiddos lunches this season. Why not keep the lunches festive and the cheer going while they are away at school? I came up with these cuties yesterday and my girls are getting their first ones in their lunches today. I am especially fond of the santa jolly one 🙂 I hope you enjoy! There are more general themed ones for the rest of the year in my Etsy Shop (see tab on home page). Enjoy this magical time of year and I’ll see you soon with some more holiday posts. Oh, and click here for the free downloadable PDF.

Vegetarian Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas

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Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a good weekend full of fun and relaxation. I got to do a little cooking since soccer season is over and I have to say, it’s been nice to slow down a tad. For some comfort food on a rainy evening last week, I made these enchiladas that I’ve made for years that are always a hit with a crowd, but I’ve never written the recipe down. I FINALLY did this time and am here to share it with you. They are pretty simple, but the various steps adds some time. But if you do a few prep steps throughout the day or ahead of time, they are not too bad and so worth it! You can even make the filling and sauce the day before. And they make a big batch so usually freeze the smaller pan I have left for a quick meal full of healthful goodness for later on.

Feel free to play with the filling ingredients to your liking. You could add corn, red pepper, hot jalapeños, more beans, etc. For the tortillas, the enchiladas are of course super yummy with fluffy white tortillas. I’ve tried using organic whole wheat tortillas, but they simply aren’t as yummy. I prefer to use 100% wholesome ingredients, but sometimes the flavor and texture isn’t worth the substitute. I know these have a few too many ingredients, but to compromise, I have used the Mission Carb Smart wheat tortillas and they work just as well as fluffy white ones. Whatever you choose, make sure they are soft and bendable so they don’t crack while assembling.

Here’s the recipe…

Vegetarian Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas:

Makes 12-13

Heat oven to 350 F. and cook brown rice according to package directions (usually 40 minutes). While rice is simmering, prepare the following.

Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil or corn oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
  • 1.5-3 tablespoons chili powder (depending on your desired heat level)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cans tomato sauce (8 ounces each) + 1 cup water

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and sugar; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce and 1 cup water. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened about 8 minutes. Set aside.

*You can strain the sauce for a smoother texture, but I like it a little chunky and truthfully I don’t even notice the onions after it’s baked.

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Filling:

  • 1 cup uncooked rice (follow package cooking directions)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup diced crimini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 8oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 – 4oz can diced mild jalapeños, drained
  • 8oz grated light sharp cheddar cheese or mexican blend (about 2 cups)
  • Salt (approx. 1.5-2 tsp) and pepper (approx. .5 tsp) to taste
  • 12 – 13 fajita size tortillas

Saute zucchini and mushrooms over medium heat until softened about 5-10 min. Add zucchini and mushroom mixture to a large bowl with all of the cooked rice, jalapeños, cilantro, beans, salt, pepper and 1.5 cup cheese cheese.

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Assembly:

In a 9×13 lasagna pan, spread 3 ladles full of sauce to the bottom. Add a half cup of rice mixture in each tortilla. Place folded tortilla fold side down in pan. I can usually only get about 8 enchiladas in a pan so I add the remaining to a 8×8 square pan (with a bit of sauce on the bottom as well) and freeze for later if I don’t need them. Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle remaining cheese (you can add more if you like) over the enchiladas. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 F. until the tortilla edges are lightly browned. Cool for approximately 10 minutes before serving. You can top enchiladas with sour cream, cilantro, avocado, etc.

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Autumn Mood Board

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This is my absolute favorite time of the year. I love crisp autumn weather, cozy layers of sweaters and boots, sipping coffee by the fire while under a fuzzy blanket and the anticipation of the holidays. If I could take a snap shot of what makes me happy, this mood board wraps it all in one little present for me. Some of these goodies I already have in my home and some of them I am hoping Santa will bring me 🙂 I hope you enjoy! Below are the links to the items as well as the recipe (one of my faves!) for the pumpkin donuts. Some of the items are no longer available, but the link will direct you to the site they were from for similar items.

  1. Mug
  2. Donut Recipe
  3. Porcelain & Gold Serving Spoons
  4. Wood/Gold 12″ Whisk
  5. White Horse Framed Print 
  6. Round Rough Edge Serve Platter
  7. Brass Candle Sticks
  8. Plaid Blanket
  9. Cable Knit Pillow
  10. Dried Rye Wreath