Saturday, July 20, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Yesterday we had the pre-drywall consultation at our house! Exciting!

Well, it doesn't look as exciting as it sounds.

But it was still pretty awesome. It's OUR HOUSE. I arrived at the build site fifteen minutes early just to stare at it, knowing there will be years of memories to be had there.

Also, I stopped at IKEA for the first time yesterday. And all of my dreams came true. Seriously, I probably shouldn't ever go there again or we will have no money left for the down payment. I actually stopped in just to browse because I had never been there before, but then I spotted something I had to have. I've had my eye on this rug for the children's playroom ( It's so cuuuute! ) but couldn't really rationalize the $700 price tag. It's exactly what I want though -- something colorful and playful but not too busy. I'm painting the walls a fun tangerine hue, so I wanted something that had a little orange in the color scheme to accent it. I hadn't found anything as perfect as the balloon rug.

Then I found this:

And it's PERFECT! Do you see the price tag? $39.99. That's a $660 difference and it's just as wonderful (no pesky shipping charges either). I'm so glad I made that stop. It's just one more piece that will make this house a home.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Prom has gone to the dogs

I work at a Pet Resort and do some freelance photography on the side, so when the two jobs happen to coincide, I am delighted! We hosted a Doggie Prom this year for our Day Camp pets and the photos turned out pretty hilarious. Imagine all of these dogs sitting still in their prom attire, posing for the camera. (I'm pretty sure the scenario you just imagined was not at all realistic. It was HARD. WORK.) But in the end, I got some cute shots and the puppy parents were over the moon. I thought I'd share some of those photos here!

You can find the rest of the pictures at my Jennifer Dawn Photography page!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Creamy Ranch Chicken Pasta

Tonight was one of those super lazy dinners nights where I just start grabbing random items out of my pantry, and try to decide what may or may not work. My husband went to see a movie so it was just Willow and me (Liam was content chowing down on some squash). I had two thawed chicken breasts and no time for a crock pot meal, so I decided to throw together this chicken dish on the skillet. It came together pretty good and my daughter asked for seconds (rare. occurrence.)

I did not take pictures of the cooking process because, frankly, looking at raw chicken grosses me out. I was a vegetarian for four years and I still have some issues, apparently. The veins, the stringy fat globs, the slimy texture... just no.

So now that everyone is good and hungry, on to the recipe!

Creamy Ranch Chicken Pasta

4-6 chicken breasts
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
8oz cream cheese
Veggies of your choice (peas and carrots work great)
1lb egg noodles

Cut your chicken into chunks and cook in an oiled skillet. Cook until golden brown, then add your veggies (I admit, I used a bag of frozen veggies this time. Next time I will use fresh!). Stir in packet of ranch dressing mix, along with your cream cheese. Cook until cheese is melted and gooey. Then add your cans of soup and stir until hot and bubbly.

Meanwhile, cook your egg noodles to your liking. I like al dente. Drain noodles, then combine them with your skillet ingredients. Coat noodles in mixture and serve!

This dish would be great with some dinner rolls and a side salad. And it could not be any easier!


Little Willow

I recently changed my blog title to a name that has a lot of meaning to me. It is named after a beautiful Paul McCartney song that I discovered shortly after giving birth to my daughter. Paul McCartney is my all-time favorite artist (we are Beatles fanatics in this household!) and my daughter's name is consequently Willow, so, it was kind of a perfect name for my little space on the web. You can find the lyrics to "Little Willow" here. I used to sing this song to my daughter while rocking her to sleep when she was just a baby.

It's so hard to believe that was three years ago.

Summer, 2011

Sleep, little willow
Peace gonna follow
Time will heal your wounds

First day of summer dance class, 2013

Grow to the heavens
Now and forever
Always came too soon

Monday, June 10, 2013

House Progress

We try to swing by our house once a week. It's amazing the little differences each week makes.

After we drive by sit in front of the lot taking pictures until the workers start giving us dirty looks, I bring the kids over to the neighborhood park. It happens to be on the same street as our home, which is very convenient. We love the park!

It's a surreal feeling knowing that this is the park they will grow up playing at. I have so many fond memories of my own park when I was little and I can't wait to re-create the fun and innocence with my children. I'm looking forward to summer nights on the swings with Willow and basketball games with Liam.

September 30th cannot get here soon enough!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


I've decided to give this blog a fresh, new look. I aim to update this regularly with recipes, DIY ideas/activities, family fun, and adventures in home ownership. Our new house is being built this summer and I can't wait to start designing and decorating (as in, not just staring at Pinterest for hours on end). Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cheesy Beef Enchiladas

Sometimes all it takes to inspire a recipe is one ingredient. That ingredient today was Campbell's Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup. It was sitting in the cabinet, collecting dust, with no recipe to call its own. I scoured the internet but really only found recipes involving soup. (What's up with that?)
I wanted something more hearty than that, so I rummaged through the cabinets and decided on enchiladas. Enchiladas are basically the best food ever. I could eat them everyday. My waist line will prove it.

These enchiladas were super easy to make and you can substitute or add whatever ingredients you want. I have to say, they turned out pretty darn delicious. They were so good that I'm updating this forsaken blog to share the recipe with you.

Jen's Cheesy Beef Enchiladas

1 lb lean ground beef
1 can of Campbell's Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup
1 4oz can of diced green chiles
12 corn tortillas
1 can of red enchilada sauce
1 8oz block of colby cheese
1 8oz block of pepper jack cheese
1 jar of salsa verde
Taco Seasoning
Sour Cream

Cook the ground beef and season to your liking with taco seasoning, salt and pepper. Add the cans of nacho cheese soup and green chiles (drained) and stir together. I added a splash of water so the soup wasn't as condensed. Let simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.

Meanwhile, shred your cheese and put half of it aside. Then coat your tortillas with the enchilada sauce until they are moist. Take your meat mixture and add a scoop of it to each tortilla. Sprinkle on some cheese and roll them up, placing them in a baking dish. Continue until all of the tortillas have been rolled.

Lastly, pour your desired amount of salsa verde over the top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Cook at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Serve with sour cream.

This will be my go-to recipe whenever I'm craving Mexican food. I served it with some homemade Spanish rice and a side of refried beans. Yummers!

(If I had known it would be so good I would have taken more pictures. Sorry.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Willow's Rainbow Elmo Birthday Party!

My daughter, Willow, turned three yesterday and we celebrated at an indoor water park. We rented out a big room with a rainbow play gym and decorated with fun, colorful Elmo decor and food. She had a blast! I can't believe my baby girl is three.

I found these cute number buckets at Michael's!

The cake had a fun rainbow center!!

Happy 3rd birthday, Willow Abigail! You are my heart.

This party was cheap, easy, and super fun to put together! A lot of the items are from The Dollar Tree, including the rainbow candy buckets, the candy, soda pop, coloring books, crayons, and juice boxes. The Elmo party favors/decor were from Party City when I had a 20% off coupon. The wooden letters, rainbow picture frame, lollipops, silverware, crayon cups, and dishes were all items I had on hand already. And the name/food cards were from pieces of scrapbook paper that were on sale at Michael's. I made sure the food was simple, yet creative. I probably only spent $125 total, and that's including the food and original invitations! The only thing I forgot was a tablecloth, as I thought the venue was providing one. Oops! Otherwise, not too shabby.

Photography by Jennifer Dawn Photography
Cake pops by Sweet Treats by Angie
Elmo cake and cupcakes by Elisabetta