Painting Date Night – At Home!

I have recently gotten into watercolors!

It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, so one day I bought a cheap Melissa & Doug watercolor paint set for kids & a pack of 15 pages of watercolor paper. It was like $11 total. I’ve seen so many blogs for ‘beginner’ watercolor painting that have a huge & expensive list of supplies. Seriously, the kids’ sets work just as well for learning, just get some watercolor paper & paint so you can see what it’s really about.

So several weeks ago after buying my supplies, I…did nothing. I let them sit there for another week or two. I didn’t know where to start. Eventually I started looking up some ‘how to’ videos on YouTube.

One Friday afternoon I came across a video that gave me an idea. #24 on my golden year bucket list was to go on a painting/activity date with my husband. I originally imagined us going out to one of those places where you drink wine & paint following some sort of prompt. But going on a date like that takes a little more planning when you have a toddler (a toddler?!? where has the time gone…) But at home, after Cupcake’s bedtime, with a bottle of wine…

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I decided we could host a private painting date, courtesy of YouTube. It was so easy to set up! My husband poured the wine while I set up the art supplies. We used our laptop to play this how-to video & painted along with the artist. Note: I’m not affiliated with that artist or channel in any way, I am just linking it to give you your own jumping off point for a painting date!

The thing about watercolor is that you have to let the paint dryyyyyyy. I think that is why I haven’t ever attempted watercolor before. Motherhood is making me way more patient than I ever thought I was! But still, watching paint dry is as fun as it sounds. So what did we do between paint coats? We googled ‘married date night questions’ & had a good time sharing answers.

It was such a fun night! My husband isn’t usually the ‘creative’ type, but he enjoyed it, too. We got to have a special date without leaving the house & without spending much money.

We both liked the other person’s painting a little bit more than our own.

I think this is a great date night idea for any couple, but I definitely love that it’s budget friendly! Being a stay at home mom is my dream come true, & I try to creatively show my husband just how much I appreciate the sacrifices we make ❤

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Ash Valentine’s

Focusing on things eternal, together.

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.


 

This service was much needed in light of the recent news that hits home.

Thou the spring of all my comfort,
  More than life to me;
Whom have I on earth beside Thee?
  Whom in heaven but Thee?

Savior, Savior,
  Hear my humble cry…

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Guys, I had pizza on the menu for tonight before even realizing it was National Pizza Day!

Tonight I’m making a buffalo chicken pizza on this homemade pizza dough.

I’m definitely not a pizza dough novice anymore. It might be time to do an updated pizza post soon! Until then, use this recipe to make your own delicious pizza. 🙂

Mrs. Dessert Monster

I experienced some firsts with this recipe: first time using the dough hook on my KitchenAid mixer, first time ever using yeast, & first time using my new pizza & pastry roller!

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My friend Beth has pizza every Friday. I love her life! She almost always makes it from scratch, & after enjoying some of her awesome pizzas myself, I asked for the recipe.

She shared that it’s from one of her favorite cookbooks: Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.

This dough was really easy to make, even for a yeast novice like me. I halved the original – if I messed this up I didn’t want to waste like 5 cups of flour! – & used ‘regular’ flours instead of bread flour. The results were wonderful. The dough calls for honey, but it is not an overly sweet crust, so don’t omit it.

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I had to Google how yeast is supposed to…

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Cocoa Powder Microwave Fudge

Sometimes mami just needs a chocolate fix & there is nothing prepared in the house. That’s where this super easy fudge recipe comes in!

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This is a one bowl recipe – a microwave safe bowl. That’s part of what makes this recipe so amazing – no cooking! You pretty much just dump the ingredients in the bowl, zap it for a few minutes, & stir.

It has only 5 easy ingredients – powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, milk, & butter. I don’t think I could call myself Mrs. Dessert Monster if I didn’t always have these on hand!

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I originally found this recipe on allrecipes & have been using it for years to make this quick, delicious fudge.

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It doesn’t last very long in my house!

Cocoa Powder Microwave Fudge

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Grease a square dish. (8×8 or 9×9, whatever you got!)
  2. Stir together powdered sugar & cocoa powder in a microwave safe bowl. (If desired, sift the powdered sugar. I almost never do this – I don’t really mind little bits of sugar throughout!)
  3. Add milk & butter to the bowl. DON’T mix! Microwave for 2 minutes, until butter is melted.
  4. Add vanilla & stir until smooth. Pour into greased dish. Chill until set & hardened (~30 min in fridge/10 min in freezer) & then cut into squares.

 

Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes

This morning hubby & I made these leftover mashed potato pancakes for brunch – with a twist!

Just follow the recipe below, but instead of serving with sour cream & bacon, serve them each with a fried egg. We made 4 big pancakes (instead of 6) with this recipe.

Delicious!

Mrs. Dessert Monster

I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was wonderful!

My husband & I hosted for the very first time, & thankfully everything went off without a hitch! The food was delicious & the company was awesome.

One of the best parts about hosting is that we have all the leftovers!

We had all of the traditional sides; stuffing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes ,etc. I used this recipe for Crockpot Mashed Potatoes & they came out amazing! Everybody loved them, but there’s only so much mashed potato you can eat in one sitting. Especially when there are so many other yummy foods! Needless to say we have a considerable amount of mashed potatoes left.

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When I was younger my dad used to make potato pancakes with the leftover mashed potatoes from big family dinners. This morning I introduced my husband to this novel idea.

It’s very simple – mix in some cheese to your…

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Hello 2018, The Year Of Openness!

Happy New Year to all!

And Happy Blogaversary to me! 3 years! It has been a great 3 years indeed.

If you’re a fan of The Middle on ABC, you’ll remember that Sue Heck always themes her years. As does Crystal from Money Saving Mom! I’ve never tried it before, but looking back on 2017 one word definitely comes to mind:

Change.

A LOT changed in 2017 for me. Here’s a list:

It might not seem like a whole lot written out, but it sure feels like a lot.

I’m not complaining! 2017 was a great year. But my ‘year of change’ was not intentional.

Neither was my coming up with a theme for 2018. I didn’t set out to do it – it just happened! Divine intervention, as I say.

My theme for 2018 is openness.

OPENNESS

I want to make a conscious effort to be more open. I want to raise my arms in worship without hesitating. I want to talk to strangers & make new friends without holding back. And most of all, I want to be open to childlike joy. I want to be open to making messes. I want to be open to new ways of doing things.

I want to be open to being led by the Spirit of God.

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Romans 8:14

God has done great things for my family in 2017. He can do even more in my life, and yours, in 2018 as long as we cling to Him.

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Homemade Christmas Gifts

Merry Christmas!

In my house, Christmas doesn’t truly end until Three Kings Day.

Granted, it’s not quite as magical anymore after the 25th. Also, Cupcake’s birthday is before Three Kings Day, so we do want to pause Christmas & give her her own special day. BUT STILL – Three Kings Day marks the “official” end of Christmas around here. (Also, it really is the end of the 12 Days of Christmas!)

One of my Golden Year Bucket List things was to hand-make most of my Christmas gifts. I can now officially cross that off my list!

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Here are the gifts I made for my dear family:

Snockerdoodles

These cookies were gifted to my brother. I used this recipe to make a cakey crackle cookie (say that 3x fast!) with a whiskey kick!

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Baby ‘Print Ornaments

The grandparents (plus Auntie Tina) received ornaments made from Cupcake’s handprint or footprint. I also helped my niece make some to give as her gifts!

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Inspired by these Pinterest posts.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I really wanted to give a jar gift to my sister-in-law & when I saw the taco seasoning on this post I knew that was it! I deviated from the original recipe a bit & I think it came out great! My favorite part is the decorations on the jar.

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Fruit Cake Biscotti

These fruit cake biscotti turned out even better than I could have imagined! I tweaked this recipe a bit & the results were fantastic. I feel inspired to make more biscotti!

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Did you make any of your Christmas gifts?

 

Cranberry Bliss Bar Ice Cream

Every single year at Christmas time I look forward to Cranberry Bliss Bars coming back at Starbucks. This year, I somehow got the idea to turn my beloved bliss bar into an ice cream flavor.

Call it divine intervention.

Cranberry Bliss Bar Ice Cream - Mrs. Dessert Monster

This ice cream recipe captures all of the essence of the Starbucks bar, but in a creamy frozen treat.

I didn’t want to just throw a cranberry bliss bar into some vanilla ice cream. I really thought about how to make this ice cream blissfully special.

A cranberry bliss bar is essentially a blondie with cream cheese icing, white chocolate, & dried cranberries. There’s an almost hidden citrus-y component to them – orange zest. I wanted my ice cream to encompass all of these wonderful flavors.

Cranberry Bliss Bar Ice Cream - Mrs. Dessert Monster

My cranberry bliss bar ice cream is a cream cheese ice cream with dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, orange marmalade, & Biscoff cookies.

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I love Biscoff cookies! I just learned that this is what a speculoos cookie is! I totally get the Trader Joe’s speculoos hype now.

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Cupcake loves them, too.

Biscoff/speculoos cookies are the perfect way to represent the blondie without having to make a blondie. I left them in large-ish chunks & they get wonderfully soft in the ice cream.

Cranberry Bliss Bar Ice Cream - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I like a lot of stuff in my ice cream. If you’re not a huge fan of lots of bits in your ice cream, just cut the amounts listed below for the mix ins in half. The cream cheese ice cream alone is SO GOOD. I’m quite proud of myself for it!

This Christmas treat came out even better than I could have imagined.

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Bonus picture of the baby watching the ice cream machine.

Cranberry Bliss Bar Ice Cream

Makes 1 quart 

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup dried canberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 8 Biscoff cookies
  • 2 tbsp orange marmalade
  1. Using the whisk attachment, whip the softened cream cheese until smooth.
  2. While the cream cheese is whipping, soak the dried cranberries in water.
  3. Add sugar & a pinch of salt to the cream cheese & continue to whip.
  4. Add lime juice, heavy cream, & milk. Mix until smooth.
  5. Pour cream cheese mix into ice cream maker. Churn for 20 minutes. Transfer ice cream to a freezer safe container.
  6. Strain the cranberries & add them to the ice cream along with white chocolate chips. Break up Biscoff cookies & add to ice cream. Swirl mix ins throughout. Finally, stir in orange marmalade.
  7. Freeze for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. If ice cream is too hard to serve, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes before scooping.

 

 

 

Crockpot Dulce De Leche

I’ve seen several Pinterest posts about the ‘hack’ of making dulce de leche from a can of condensed milk. I always kind of chuckle to myself, because my family has been doing that for generations! I have vivid memories of my mom boiling cans of condensed milk either in the pressure cooker, or just a regular pot on the stove top. Over the years, canned dulce de leche became more readily available & we haven’t had to boil leche condensada in a while.

Until this week.

I made a dulce de leche Pumpkin Pie (along with dulce de leche whipped cream) for Thanksgiving, so naturally I needed some dulce de leche! I was kind of shocked that it was $3.50/can at my local grocery store. I needed 2 cans – $7! I mean, it’s not gonna break the bank, but since I no longer bring in the income I used to, I see it my job to save money where I can. And I noticed that condensed milk was only $1.29/can.  So for less than the cost of ONE can of dulce de leche, I could make 2.

I called my mom for guidance & she told me to Google it. Seriously, Mami?!? She did eventually give me some instructions, but she encouraged me to look it up anyway in case there was a better way. So I did, & saw this post for doing it in the crockpot.

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I’ve written before about how I’ve really come to love my crockpot. I’m constantly impressed at just how versatile it is. The impression I had of slow cookers growing up was that it was a gringo thing that made mushy food. But here I was making dulce de leche!

A lot of the non-crockpot recipes to make dulce de leche involve keeping a close eye on your cans so that the water level stays high enough to cover them. With crockpot, that’s way less of an issue. I checked on mine every couple hours & it was almost unchanged the whole time. After 8 hours, I turned off the crockpot & opened the lid to let it cool a bit before taking the cans out of the water. I then waited until the next morning to open the cans – partially to make sure they were cool, but mostly because I wasn’t going to make the pie until then.

The dulce de leche was beautiful!

This method of making it is perfect for me. I didn’t have to watch a boiling pot on my stove for hours while also wrangling a baby! If I see dulce de leche in stores for a good price, will I buy it? Probably. But when I have some time to spare & some condensed milk, I will turn to my trusty crockpot!

Pie recipe, whipped cream recipe, turkey assembly instructions

Crockpot Dulce De Leche

Makes 2 cans

  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
  • crockpot
  • water
  1. Peel the labels off of the cans of sweetened condensed milk. Place the cans on their side inside the crockpot.
  2. Fill the crockpot with water, covering the cans by about an inch. Periodically check to make sure there is always water completely covering the cans. Add more if necessary.
  3. Cook the cans in the crockpot for 8 hours on the low setting. Once done, let the cans cool completely before opening. ***There is risk of explosion if you open a hot can!

     

 

 

‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Housewarming Gift

When we first bought our house, our friends Beth & David gave us the housewarming gift made famous by ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’.

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Last summer our dear friends moved away & now they have a home of their own in Delaware. I wanted to be able to give them the same great housewarming gift, but the distance forced me to get creative.

I decided to make them a canvas wall hanging.

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I printed the text on some pretty craft paper, painted the elements (& the edge of the canvas) with acrylic paint, outlined them in permanent marker, & sprayed the whole thing with an acrylic sealer.

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It was a fun project! It took me several days – probably would’ve only taken me 2 or 3 in my pre-baby days, haha.

Once Beth & David were settled in their new home, I shipped it off to them.

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Though I miss them dearly, I am so happy for their new adventure.

Can’t wait to visit them in January – wish us warm-blooded Floridians luck!