Friday, March 23, 2012

Santa Fe Chicken Fajita Soup

While I know the warmer temps of spring are now upon us, I had this delish soup recipe just sitting in my documents begging to be shared with the world. This Santa Fe Chicken Fajita Soup became an instant favorite of mine and my families. It was the perfect comfort food to keep warm with in the winter… but there’s no rule against cooking some up in the spring! :)

Santa Fe Chicken Fajita Soup -


(Recipe found @

I found this lovely soup on Pinterest and made it for dinner on a chilly evening last month. It was so easy and quick to whip up, full of flavor, and made the house smell yummy! With chunks of grilled chicken, green pepper, red onion, two types of cheeses, plus fajita seasoning for an extra punch; you have a pot of creamy, cheesy chicken soup with a Mexican twist! Top it off with some avocado and tortilla strips and devour! :)

2 packages Tyson's Grilled/Ready chicken breasts
30oz of chicken broth
1 small green pepper
1 large red onion
16oz package of Velvetta Cheese
1 package Taco Bell Fajita Seasoning Mix
1 package of cream cheese

First, dice up your green pepper and red onion. Toss those in a skillet with some olive oil. Turn the heat on high to caramelize. Add a couple dashes of garlic powder for flavor.

In the meantime, cube up the Velvetta and soften the cream cheese.

When the onions/peppers are done, add the Velvetta, cream cheese, and chicken broth to the pan. Make sure to turn the heat down to medium-low or the cheese will burn just as fast as it melts

Once your mixture is smooth, add the Tyson's chicken {cubed} and the fajita seasoning. Mix thoroughly and allow to simmer. Then enjoy! (Serves 4-5)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Feature on the band, Icon For Hire


New Tooth & Nail band, Icon For Hire, has recently stolen my heart with their head-banging worthy rock riffs and bold, honest lyrics. Seriously, I think I’m hooked! For one thing, I’m always in support of female fronted rock acts because I feel like they are so few and far between; and then when they make music that isn’t afraid to speak some truth, now that’s a band I can get behind. And that description totally sums up these Illinois natives, Ariel (vocals), Shawn Jump (guitar),  Josh Kincheloe (bass), and Adam Kronshagen (drums).

I had heard their first single “Make A Move” and really liked it; but it was a music video I saw late one night when I was watching TVU that really caught my attention. It was for a song, called “Get Well”, which is their newest single off their debut album “Scripted”.


I found this song so impactful with it’s honest & vulnerable lyrics about not wanting to stay in a place of depression and pity parties; but instead making the decision to heal and move on.

“I meant it when I said I wanna get well, I wanna get well. Are the rest of you so content stay where you are but it hurts like hell? And I'm sure it's fun at first, test your pulse and check your vitals. If it's only a game you lost me. I quit it with the suicidal recital.”

The message of this song totally got to my heart and I feel like it’s something we all need to hear and be reminded of. It’s easy to get into a place of being comfortable in your pain.. accepting that’s just how it is. Sometimes even romanticizing the pain instead of trying to overcome it. Over time, you learn to cope but never seek healing. And coping and healing are not the same thing.

In an interview with New Release Tuesday, Ariel said she wrote it as a wakeup call to herself after realizing that all her and her friends from high school had in common anymore was how much they used to hate life. She talked about how they would get together when they were younger and talk about how bad everything was; and she was finally ready to move beyond that, “So, it’s kind of me saying, “Let’s grow up.” I want to be healthy. I want to be happy.”

Ariel’s strong rock vocals and the band’s tight musicianship make the song that much more hard hitting. It’s a song with a message and Icon for Hire is definitely a band with a message. Do yourself a favor and check out their music! :)

And one last thing I would be totally remiss not mention is that in addition to lead singer duties; Ariel also has an awesome Etsy shop wear she sells her handmade tutus, wrist cuffs, ect. Actually, she takes her sewing machine on the road with her, sets up shop at their merch table, and sews the tutus right on sight! How awesome is that? I personally love her style, the whole band’s style actually (c’mon how awesome is Shawn’s mohawk?), so if you want some rockin’ fashion, check Ariel’s shop! :)

For more info on Icon For Hire -

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring To Do List

Spring is finally in the air, spring is springing, if you will. And even though I actually really enjoyed winter this year, I am more than ready to welcome spring with open arms as it’s one of my very favorite seasons. Everything just feels so new and fresh, the days are longer, and the air is crisp.

So in honor of this lovely new season, I was inspired to make a little list of things that I want to do this spring. Hope you enjoy! :)

Make Gradient Cake -

gradient cake

So #1 on the list is a smidge ambitious, and makes me a little nervous seeing as how I’ve never worked with fondant before. Heck, I’m barely learning how to pipe frosting correctly. But I cannot resist the urge to make this amazing Gradient Cake. I fell head over heels in love with it when I saw the lovely video of Ashley from the blog, Not Without Salt, making it months ago now. I seriously think I replayed the video at least 50 times, I was enthralled. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic lol, but I found it really magical and have longed to try my hand at it ever since.

Now, I have heard people say that working with fondant can be somewhat frustrating … so I have no illusions that it won’t try my patience a little. But I am determined. Ashley must be a pro because she makes it look so simple and seamless. Somehow have a feeling it won’t be exactly like that when I make it. ;)

And is this cake, with it’s colors of white and pink, not perfect for a spring party? If there was ever a season for it, it’s this one! :)

Learn How To Use Espresso Machine -

pink espresso machine


Isn’t this pink espresso machine to die for?! Sadly, my espresso machine is not near as fancy (but it’s the dream), it’s fairly basic… and okay, technically, it’s my sister’s lol. But hey, while it’s still living in my kitchen cabinet and she has no interest in using it, I’m calling it mine. ;) She got it for Christmas a few years ago and we named it… Pierre, I think lol. We used it once or twice, got frustrated with it, and haven’t touched it since. And it’s a shame, if you ask me. So I intend to rectify that and start learning how to use it properly.

I’ve been really into making fancy homemade coffee drinks lately and I’ve been using the Starbucks Via packets to make them. It’ll be nice to brew my own espresso shots for my homemade Salted Caramel Mochas (Oh yes, recipe to come, my friends!).

Learn To Sew -



I never thought I’d care to learn how to sew, actually never really thought I’d have the patience lol. But lately seeing all the cute projects on Pinterest that require sewing, it’s convincing me to finally pick up a needle and thread and get to work. For instance, these adorable plush owls are calling my name!



I have a small obsession with all things owl and really want to make one of these cuties. Don’t know if they’d be too hard for a beginner but maybe with a little sewing knowledge and some patience it’ll be doable.

Kinda nervous about trying my hand at it, but really, I don’t need to be some super sewing diva; just knowledgeable enough to be able to sew an owl and I’m happy! That’s the goal. :) 

Work On New Craft Projects -

So I have a confession to make, lately I have become what I never thought I would be… I’ve become crazy, obsessed crafter girl. Seriously, it’s starting to get a smidge out of hand… where I’m starting to look at random objects and thinking “Hmm, wonder how I could use this for crafting” lol. Yes, I think I need help. ;)

It’s been a really great way to relax, get my mind off things, and be creative. I’m actually planning to post a blog soon with photos of all the little projects I’ve done thus far. There are so many more projects that I want to do… it makes a little giddy just thinking about the possibilities! Here are three projects that I plan to tackle next!


DIY Song Lyric Wall Art


Spring Wreath DIY


DIY Fabric Chandelier

Start Taking More Photos -



… and get better at taking photos. I’ve never been much of a picture taker, my sister was the photographer in our family and was notorious for always having a camera in her hand. But when I started blogging a few years ago I started wanting to take photos of all the recipes I posted. But I was pretty bad at it, so I started using other people photos (always giving the credit of course) majority of the time. But that just feels so impersonal, you know? If it’s my blog I want the content to be mostly mine.

Over the years I think I’ve gotten a little bit better at taking pictures but I still have so much to learn. Again, not looking to be super photographer girl but just be able take good photos for my blog. So I want to start taking more photos of my recipes, crafts, and just everyday life. And also reading more about photography, learning little tips and tricks.

This post, “How to take your best pictures ever” by Violet of the blog, Blythe Ponytail Parades, has some really awesome tips on photography. She also has some great blogging tips, here!

Make Macarons -

pink macaroons


Okay, so some of the things on this list are a little ambitious, are they not? lol Yes, I plan to attempt and hopefully master the intimidating yet oh so lovely macaron! Am a little afraid of them, I must admit, as they seem quite temperamental. You know, they have to have “feet” and all. But I’m up for the challenge! I really want to make both the pink macarons above (they’re so pretty!) and the yummy looking chocolate ones below!



Wish me luck! And if any of you reading this have successfully made macarons and have any tips for a beginner like me, please share! :)

Have a Picnic -



I haven’t been on a picnic in ages! But the thought of one, especially like this whimsical & lovely one in the photo below, makes me smile. And spring is the perfect time for a picnic!

It’s the perfect time to pack a picnic basket with goodies, spread out a gingham blanket, eat sandwiches, drink lemonade out of mason jars and maybe have some macarons for dessert. :)  All while talking and laughing with good friends, enjoying the lovely spring weather.

How about it? You bring the sandwiches and I’ll bring the macarons? ;) 



Hope you’ve enjoyed my little list of spring “to dos”! Will report back about my progress… especially about the Gradient Cake and macarons. Though I’m warning you, results could be disastrous; but I will post anyhow. Because really, either way, it’ll still be entertaining,  right? ;)

Anything you're looking forward to doing this spring?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spa Day: Citrus Salt Body Scrub & Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub

Hey lovelies! Today we are talking homemade beauty treatments! Sound good, ladies? I thought so! We are bringing a little bit of the spa into our kitchen and making a sweet smelling body scrub and hand scrub. After making a couple homemade brown sugar scrubs in the summer, I had been wanting to experiment with other recipes. There are so many different variations you can make with just a few simple ingredients. They smell so lovely and make your skin super soft! Enjoy them as a mid-week spa retreat or give them away to a friend as they would make great gifts!

Citrus Salt Body Scrub –

(Recipe found @

This citrusy salt scrub is the perfect beauty treatment to refresh your winter worn skin and make it ready for warmer weather. It even smells like spring/summer with the fruity aroma of the lemon, grapefruit, and orange zest, and just a little lemon extract. This is the first salt scrub I’ve ever made and I think I like better than the sugar scrubs; the salt is a little bit more abrasive and it seems to make a better exfoliant. The oil in it acts as a moisturizer and leaves your skin feeling so silky and smooth.

1 1/2 cups of kosher salt
2 Tbs. lemon, grapefruit or orange zest (I did a combo of all three)
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 small glass jar or other container

Fill your jar with the kosher salt (a 48 oz. box of kosher salt makes enough for 4 jars of scrub) and sprinkle citrus zest on top. Using the long, blunt end of a wooden spoon (or mortar and pestle if you’ve got one) distribute the zest throughout the salt evenly by stirring the dry ingredients together. Next pour the oil first into a measuring cup. Stir the lemon extract into the oil. Now pour half of the oil mixture into your jar and stir with small spoon to combine well. Pour the rest of the oil into the jar and mix well. Stir before each use.

Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub -

(Recipe adapted from @

This lemony sugar hand scrub is great therapy for chapped, dry hands. The sugar acts as a gentle exfoliant and the olive oil restores the moisture. The lemon juice and rind gives your hands a fresh and clean scent.

2 1/2 cups sugar
2-3 tbs. lemon rind
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tbs. lemon juice or scented essential oil

Begin by stirring lemon rind into sugar, then spoon into jar. Stir in olive oil; mix well until gritty paste forms. Add in lemon juice or essential oil. This mixture will make enough to fill a 12oz. Mason Jar. Stir before each use.

I’m really loving of these scrubs, they were both fun, easy, and maybe just a little messy to whip up. The only downside is the rind in them does leave the shower/sink a bit of a mess. Feel free to leave out the rind and just use the juice or extract. Also, if you feel so inclined, you can print out these lovely little labels that I used for my jars. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Feature on the duo, Jenny & Tyler


Seems impossible to hear the music of Jenny and Tyler Somers and not be instantly drawn in by their beautiful harmonies and meaningful songs. While these two have been around for a while now, I just recently found their lovely tunes, and they have quickly become one of my favorite new musical discoveries.

This folk-rock husband and wife duo started making beautiful music together when they met in the fall of 2004 at the University of Delaware. A random meeting on a bus to church eventually led them to leading worship together and spending their down time playing and writing songs. Obviously making a great team on and off stage, the two were soon married and pursuing music full time in Nashville.

Their first album, “A Prelude” released in 2007, but it was a song off their 2010 release, “Faint Not”, that instantly captured my heart. I stumbled upon the captivating “Song For You” one night a few months ago and was brought to tears by the beautiful lyrics. Yes, I may be a little emotional but a good song with meaning just never ceases to get to me. With their soaring harmonies, acoustic guitars, and layers of piano in the background; the song expresses God’s relentless pursuit after our hearts, “I have done for you everything, my love. Hear my song for you. I will not hold my tongue. Open your heart for I have loved you from the start.”  I love how they sing these lyrics with so much feeling and passion, you can tell they really believe what they’re singing about. Not only is this song such a stand out gem but the music video is equally as beautiful and moving. The actress in the video is actually Jenny’s sister, who did a great job at bringing this song to life.

Other songs you should check out are the thoughtful “Faint Not”, which probably has one of my favorite lyrics they’ve written, “Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, let me pardon. Where there is darkness, let the Light come”. And we can’t forget the quirky “One Eyed Cat”. Yes, you read that right (if you weren’t sold on this duo’s music yet I hope that title just did it for you ;)) It’s a cute and funny ode to their relationship and the little sacrifices they’ve made for each other… including Jenny giving up her one eyed cat. The beginning of the song has Tyler singing, “You gave up your one eyed cat, still makes you sad, but I’m allergic.” This tune is sure to make you smile.

In January their song, “As Long as Our Hearts are Beating”, garnered some attention when it was featured on an episode of ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars”. An unexpected placement that has allowed for a wider audience to discover their music. Hopefully this is just the beginning of people sitting up and taking notice of all beauty that this duo’s songs have to offer.

It’s always so interesting to see two musicians who make even more beautiful music together than they could own their own. While both individuals are so talented, together, Jenny and Tyler create something so special, music that takes you on their journey with them. To quote Jenny, “If it weren’t for Tyler, I’d probably be writing cheesy country songs and he’d be a virtual Jack Johnson impersonator.”

To hear Jenny & Tyler’s music you can go to their Facebook (link below) and download a free live album or you can head on over to NoiseTrade and download the whole “Faint Not” album plus three new tacks. They have also recorded a song called, “The Sound of Silence” to benefit the International Justice Mission, which combats modern day slavery. To find out how to purchase that song and more go to their website. And be on the look out for their new album. “Open Your Doors” to be released on April 3rd.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Copy Cat Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha

I think I've ranted before about my complete & utter frustration with the fact that I live in a small town that deprives me of a Starbucks. The closest one is a whole hour away! I know, tragic, right? So I don't get my coffee fix as often as I would like. Which is probably a blessing in disguise really as I'm sure it could become an addiction... and I'm still trying to get off the Dr. Pepper...don't need to add a coffee addiction. ;) But I recently found this recipe for one of my favorite Starbucks drinks, White Chocolate Mocha, and am in love with all its copy cat flavor! And with the chilly weather we've had lately, who wouldn't want to curl up with a warm mug of this yummy coffee and watch a movie, like Breaking Dawn, perhaps? ... Oh yeah, sure, … me neither. ;)

Copy Cat Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha -

(Recipe found @

I made a couple mugs of this White Chocolate Mocha for my mom and I last week and let's just say, we both pretty much inhaled it! I've already made it twice and it definitely won't be the last. And I love that it only takes a few ingredients that you probably already have lying around your kitchen. It's also so simple & fun to whip up! Just melt the white chocolate with the milk and fill a mug half way with it, fill the rest with coffee, top with whipped cream, cinnamon & white chocolate shavings, and drink up! How simple is that? Since I don't have a coffee maker, I used the Starbucks Via packets (which I love & buy often) and it does the trick!


This mocha is smooth & super creamy and I love that you get the perfect white chocolate to coffee ratio. If you need a coffee fix, I hope you’ll try this coffee copy cat! :)

2/3 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons white chocolate chips
Freshly brewed coffee (strong) to fill mugs or shot of espresso
Whipped cream

Desired garnishes:
cinnamon or white chocolate shavings

Add milk and chocolate chips to saucepan or double boiler and heat until chips are melted and milk is hot. Meanwhile make coffee or espresso. Pour half of milk mixture in coffee mug and fill rest of mug with coffee saving enough room for a dollop of whipped cream. If desired, garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon, or chocolate shavings. Makes enough for 2 small mugs.