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Veggie Filled Shepherd’s Pie

One of my favorite dishes is a good shepherd’s pie, but I generally like to tweak the recipes to fit more my tastes and style. Hope y’all enjoy!

You’ll Need:

  • 1 pound ground turkey (if you want to go full vegetarian, this can be cut out, but I like using a lean white meat in mine)
  • 1 bag baby carrots
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 squash, sliced
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth, low or no sodium.
  • Garlic to taste
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • Mashed potatoes

To Prepare:

  • Brown your turkey in a large pan.
  • Add carrots and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables and broth, and cook on medium heat for another 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  • Add garlic and turmeric, and transfer into a baking dish.
  • Add prepared mashed potatoes to top, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown on the top.
  • Enjoy!

This is super quick and easy to make, absolutely loaded with delicious veggies, and a touch of turmeric that won’t affect the taste for some anti-inflammatory properties.

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A Not-So Traditional Christmas

When I was younger, Christmas always held such excitement to me. I loved everything about the season, not just the presents. The first weekend after Thanksgiving was always the time we’d decorate, and we all had assigned roles in decorating the inside and outside of the house. I was usually in charge of handing my dad light clips while he climbed the ladder to the roof of the house while my mom and brother set up other decorations. Soon after that, my mom would start baking a million cookies, my brother and I would start searching for our gifts, and the holidays were officially upon us.

As we age, traditions change, as is inevitable. For me, Christmas got a little smaller. I still go see my dad’s side of the family on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas day it’s usually just me and my mom or the three of us when my brother joins us. My mom and I still bake cookies together because that’s a tradition we enjoy doing. We give them out to friends, neighbors, coworkers, and of course have a stash when my brother comes home for Christmas, even though he’ll say he doesn’t want to eat any. After we open the stockings and gifts, we’ll likely go to Christmas mass, then have some lunch, and go see a movie (this year it looks like it’ll be Little Women). The movie thing is only a few years old, when I was younger Christmas was all about playing with new toys we received. One year my brother and I got an air hockey table, that was a loud Christmas for my parents I’m sure. For some, these may not really seem like a traditional Christmas, while to others, some of these traditions are how they celebrate as well.

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Here’s the thing I’m learning about Christmas as we grow up. What is a “traditional Christmas” to one is completely different to someone else. Traditions can change, sometimes in ways that cause growing pains, other times in ways that make you wonder why you didn’t change them sooner. For some people, Christmas happens a week before the actual day. For others, it happens a week after the actual day. What makes it a traditional Christmas is that everyone is gathering together. Christmas is a time for family and friends to gather together, reflect on the year, look forward to the upcoming year, and most importantly, create memories together.

Whether you celebrate by going to the beach or building a snowman or having a Christmas movie marathon, your Christmas is traditional to you. If your family is not the kind to gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols, that’s ok, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a traditional Christmas, it just means your traditions look a little different. As long as you are with people you love, whether your family by birth or family by choice, that’s the most important part.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I hope no matter how you’re celebrating this year, that you’re surrounded by love and laughter.

Let Go of the Perfect Christmas

As a society, we’ve pretty much had it drilled into us that we should have the perfect Christmas. The perfect tree, the perfect decorations, cookies, etc., y’all can see where I’m going with this. We all feel so much pressure at the holidays to have the perfect holidays and the perfect family photos, and really, it’s the little moments that aren’t perfect that make it so much better. Trying to be perfect can be draining, so it’s time to let go of the perfect Christmas that you see in magazines and Instagram.

So let go of the perfect Christmas and start enjoying the moments you have together. Don’t be stressing about having the house perfectly cleaned and decorated for your guests, because that’s not the important part. The important part is the time spent and the memories made together. Go look at Christmas lights or go out and try a restaurant’s holiday drinks together to celebrate the season. Enjoy the slightly crispy cookies that came out of the oven after a few minutes too long. Enjoy celebrating early or late, because you were able to get the time together, and really, the day isn’t important. Don’t stress about the party you’re throwing being “just right” because family and friends care about spending time together, not if the appetizers look like Grinch or reindeer.

Learn to Rest

This past week I was down with some sort of illness, and I had to do one of the worst things in my mind: rest. I am very much a go go go type of person, and having any kind of downtime can be very difficult for me, especially when I’m sick. This time of year is horrible too since it’s so busy with baking and cleaning and decorating, so I definitely was not feeling like resting. However, my body had a different idea, as I could barely stay awake the first day thanks to a nasty fever. The next day was all about learning to rest so I could move on from the illness.

For those who prefer to constantly be on the move, learning to rest can be pretty difficult, but it’s something we all need to do. Our bodies will tell us when we need to rest, we’ll feel more fatigued or start lacking energy, and when we hit that point, we need to start listening to our bodies and take the downtime. I wasn’t able to bake cookies or do much around the house, but I was able to watch several cheesy Netflix Christmas movies, keeping the Christmas spirit alive, even if I was struggling to stay awake some moments. Whether you prefer to read a book or relax and watch tv when sick, it’s definitely important to allow your body the time to do so, and maybe even schedule some in before you get sick.

While you’re resting, especially while sick, don’t forget the immunity tea, chicken noodle soup, and lots of water. This is cold and flu season, so we all need our immune systems to be on guard, and if your body is telling you to slow down, listen to it! I am so glad I took a couple of days off work to rest and get over whatever I had rather than trying to push through and extending it for more time. Because sadly, that’s the reality of pushing through when you’re sick: you make the sickness last longer.

Clean as You Go

One of the biggest tips a top chef will give you while working in the kitchen is to clean as you go. A messy kitchen is not a sign of a good chef, even while preparing a delicious meal, so if you find yourself surrounded by dirty dishes and ingredients strewn about, you may want to change your method. Clean as you go and you won’t dread doing the dishes after dinner.

Russian Tea Cakes

These are one of my favorite cookies to make, and they’re so simple!

You’ll Need:

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 cup softened unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 teaspoon salt

To Prepare:

  • Heat oven to 325.
  • Combine first three ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients until dough holds together.
  • Shape into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly browned on the bottom.
  • Remove from cookie sheet immediately and roll in confectioner’s sugar.
  • Wait 15 minutes to cool, then put a light coating of confectioner’s sugar on top.

These are super simple and delicious!

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Decor Finishing Touches

*This is a sponsored post

I think it’s safe to say from my previous posts and my love of HGTV shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, that I have been bitten by the interior design bug. In fact, this is something I’ve been passionate about since I was in high school, when we were first told to design a room of our choosing. We not only drew up the blueprints, but also put together all the paint colors, finishes, and the furniture too, of course.

Since then, while I haven’t done anything professionally, I do find home décor a very serious thing, and there are many different pieces I put together for décor finishing touches. After all, we all have different tastes and styles, but there are some things that are universal options for finishing a look, and available in a variety of colors/patterns/fabrics to meet any style.

  • A good rug can really pull a room together. I use rugs in my bedroom, bathroom, and even a few placed throughout the home in different areas. Some prefer a super fluffy rug for their feet to touch first thing each morning, while others prefer something sleek and minimal, something that reminds them of a hotel they stayed at and loved. For me, I prefer a bit more of a fluffy rug in my bedroom, but prefer something more sleek and refined for the rest of the home. I even have an outdoor rug that will go under my outdoor table when I complete my backyard redesign. This is why I love Ottomanson. This website has it all! Whether you are searching for a fun patterned rug for under your bed or a runner rug to welcome people into your beautiful home, they have something for everyone. If you’re designing the hotel bathroom/spa of your dreams, they have a runner rug that will lead you into your paradise. The best part is that you won’t break the bank! They’re also pet-friendly! This is a must in my household.This company has been around for over 10 years now, and they just keep creating stunning, affordable rugs, among other things, that look beautiful in your home. And if you need help, don’t worry, they have great customer service that would be happy to assist you with completing your order or even ordering more pieces for your home.
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  • The right pillow can really bring a room together. Maybe you’re tying in different furniture pieces or even decorating for a holiday theme. Christmas is right around the corner, so you know I’ve pulled out some holiday pillows to add to the room. I’ve found that without them, the chairs don’t seem to fit quite right, but when I match pillows with my Christmas tree skirt, everything gets pulled together beautifully and I have a Christmas living room that I adore spending time in. The same goes for rooms all year long. A pillow can show your personality, as well as tie in different themes all into one. Not to mention, a bed, chair or couch just looks plain without a good throw pillow.
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  • I know, you probably didn’t even think of this as a finishing décor piece. Whether decking the halls for the holidays or just preparing the staged table for dinner, a tablecloth is a necessity. If you’re looking to get one-stop shopping check out the options from Ottomanson. These tablecloths come in a variety of prints and styles so you can find the perfect fit for your tastes and for your kitchen. Whether you prefer to have a kitchen full of sunflowers or a more natural tone, they’ve got you covered.
  • The right candle can complete a room. From bringing in a fresh scent or matching the seasonal tone, a candle is the perfect option to complete a room. Those who know me will tell you I am a total candle fiend. I always seem to find an excuse to buy candles and can always think of reasons why I need more. I have them in my bathroom, bedroom, even in my office near my laptop. Having a lit candle is soothing to me, not to mention, it smells amazing. I shop from a variety of places for my candles and usually purchase ones that match the season, so right now my candles are all Christmas themed, and I couldn’t be happier.

These décor finishing touches can take your room from nice to stunning. And the best part is it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. I’m big on decorating but on a budget, and it’s important to me that my house looks nice without necessarily making me go broke. These are some of the ways I can bring everything together nicely.

Pace Yourself on Holiday Treats

The holidays are officially here and I know one of the biggest downsides, and biggest upsides, is that it’s cookie season. I am an avid baker, and I love trying new recipes out, which means I also looove eating cookies. Unfortunately, that’s not the best choice when it comes to healthy eating, so this means falling back on my favorite thing. Moderation.

Everything in moderation is my standard for things. I don’t overindulge, but I also don’t restrict myself to where I won’t have a piece of chocolate cake if I want it. However, I do have to exercise a bit more self control during Christmas cookie times because those are so delicious. Just make sure to pace yourself. Set yourself a limit and enjoy only a few a day, and make sure you have other healthy snacks in there too. There’s no harm in helping yourself to an extra cookie or two if you can balance it out.

One thing I like to do is pick and choose where my sugar comes from. If I go to Starbucks that day, I avoid the extra sugars elsewhere like in desserts, because I know that White Chocolate Mocha or Peppermint Mocha I love so much is loaded with sugar. However, if I’ve been having unsweetened herbal tea and water, then there is no reason for me to refuse the dessert menu or not help myself to a couple of cookies from the tray.

Another option is to lower the sugar count in your cookies. There are so many recipes out there and it’s easy to do. Another thing I like to do is increase the flour while decreasing the sugar. You get fluffier cookies, and the sweetness really doesn’t change.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for pacing yourself during the holidays? Drop them below, I’d love to read them!

Enjoy the Little Moments

The holidays are an absolutely insane time of year, and it can be overwhelming to run from the parties to the decorating to baking cookies. But the best way to handle things is to enjoy the little moments. Enjoy the moment where you and your family are just sitting quietly, all together around the Christmas tree. Enjoy the moments where you accidentally burned some cookies and are laughing about it after. Those are the moments you’ll hold onto for years to come.

Add Flour to Your Cookie Recipes

This is an old family trick so instead of a recipe, I’m going to let you all in on my family’s secret to amazing Christmas cookies. Add extra flour. Yes, it really is that simple. We all see those amazing bakery style cookies that are fluffy, but ours never quite seem to hit that mark when we follow basic recipes, at least in my experience. The trick is to add an extra 1 cup of flour to your recipe. Don’t alter it in any other way with anything else, and yes, it’ll give your arms a bit more of a workout, but it’ll also give you fluffier cookies.

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