Fair Trade Friday - Spring Picks

It's almost Spring, everyone!  I'm so excited to welcome warmer temperatures and sunny days.  I'm ready to start breaking out some of my dresses and skirts, and blinding the world with my sun-deprived legs in the process!  I'm especially ready to start enjoying our backyard again, and letting the girls soak in the fresh air and birdsongs that can be enjoyed out there!

In honor of this new season that is fast approaching, I thought I'd share a few fair trade accessories from companies I've already shared that I'm currently crushing on for Spring.

I LOVE this necklace from Mata Traders!  It's a beautiful statement piece, and it would pair so well with all the lighter colors I'm sure we'll start seeing as the temperatures begin to rise.  It would take a simple white button-down and cotton skirt to a whole other level!  Kinda like these:

In honor of Valentine's day (which has already come and gone), Sseko Designs introduced a new collection of straps for their sandals, along with a new tie that's just adorable.  This collection also includes a pair of gold straps, for just a touch of shimmer.  I just love the little pop of red paired with the floral pattern on these sandals.  They would match this necklace perfectly:

This necklace is also from Mata Traders, and I am officially in L-O-V-E, love!

I also absolutely adore this scarf.  The color and pattern are beautiful, and I always admire JOYN's handiwork in their products.  JOYN's products are not available online, but you can always check the list on their website to see if there's a store near you that carries their accessories.

What accessories are currently on your Spring wishlist?

OOTD - Cozy

I wore this a week ago for a girls' night, when it was actually pretty nice out.  Unlike today.  It's currently 36 degrees and rainy, and, oh yeah, it was hailing earlier.  This outfit seems a little more suited for today: a fuzzy warm scarf, comfy sweater, and a nice comfy skirt that can serve as a blanket for my legs.  All this needs is a giant cup of tea, and I'll be ready to settle in for a nice day of rainy day un-productiveness.  Do I smell an X-Files marathon coming on?

Outfit Details:
Sweater: Target, $5 (clearance)
Skirt: DIY'ed with fabric I had
Scarf: gifted
Necklace: JC  Penney, $4 (clearance)
Shoes: gifted
Ring: Charlotte Russe, $4

Grand Total: $13

What's your favorite rainy day activity?

Adventures in Applesauce

Well, the weathermen were right this time.  They promised snow (and possibly an apocalyptic-esque ice storm overnight), and this is what I get to see out my kitchen window:

In honor of this blustery day, I thought I'd share an adventure with you today; an adventure in cooking!   Let's face it, I'm not the greatest cook, and a lot of what I'm learning while feeding my family is a product of trial and error.  Like the time I tried making applesauce from scratch.

So, I ran across this recipe on Pinterest for yummy fruity applesauce, made from scratch.   They sounded amazing, and being a fan of applesauce, especially on waffles (don't knock it 'til you've tried it.  Seriously!), I thought I'd give it a try.

First step, I queued my best impression of Will Ferrell doing an impression of Harry Caray that I could.  And yes, I do talk to myself when I'm cooking.  Kinda like a crazy person.

"Hey, what's your favorite fruit?   Mine's the apple!  Always has been.  I like it 'cause it's the king of the fruits."

So, I assembled my ingredients.  I was originally going to make strawberry applesauce, but when I went to Wal-Mart, they were out of strawberries (this was obviously waaay before Valentine's Day!).  So, I grabbed some raspberries, and some lovely gala apples, for some sweetness.

I also made myself a nice cup of Chai Tea.  Stash actually makes a good one, it's delicious with a little bit of milk and sugar!

Next, I made sure my girlies were occupied.  iPods and swings were made for occasions like this!

Next, I sliced up my apples, put them in a pot, and added the raspberries and some water.  I didn't measure, but there was probably about two cups of water.  I brought all that to a boil, then turned it down to a simmer and let it cook for about 20 minutes.

By now, the house smells amazing.  The fruit is all cooked and lovely looking, until I see my mistake.  I should have peeled the apples!  I also used a little too much water, in my opinion.  It doesn't seem like a huge deal, but it did take a few tries for me to figure out how to get this pot o' stuff looking like applesauce.

First, I tried using a strainer and a spoon.  Not the best strategy.  All this did was strain all the juice out of the fruit.

 Next in the list of failed attempts was a larger strainer and a potato masher.  Both were unsuccessful.

FINALLY, I figured it out!  If I wanted appleSAUCE, I needed to use something to blend together all the ingredients.  Something like, oh I don't know, a BLENDER? 

This finally did the trick, and I was able to enjoy a lovely bowl, complete with raspberry seeds of course, of my homemade raspberry applesauce.  Yay me.

I just had to ignore the sink full of dirty dishes that I had made!

What's your favorite cooking 'failure/nearly a success' story?  Please comment and share!

OOTD - All Dolled Up

Guess who's got a hot date tonight?  That's right, this girl!  (excuse the hair, it's a bit windy today!)

My hubby surprised me this afternoon by calling me and informing me that he had set up a babysitter (thank you, in-laws!) and is taking me out to dinner. I love any excuse to wear a dress!  We hadn't made any plans so far, since the "Oh, crap, it's valentine's and I have to buy you something awesome today or else you'll be mad at me for a month" mentality is not something I want fostered in our marriage.  If it's a heartfelt gesture (on any day of the year), awesome!  If it's just because it's an obligation, this girl don't want none o' that!  *snaps three times in the air*   Mmmm-hmmmm, homie don't play that.

Outfit Details:
Dress: gifted
Sweater: Sears, $3 (clearance)
Boots: Plato's Closet resale, $18
Tights: JC Penney, $6
Necklace: $1 Jewelry Store
Earrings: DIY'd from beads at Dark Star Visuals, $8

Grand Total: $36

OOTD - Reality

Small confession: I didn't actually wear this outfit today.  It may have actually been last week that I took these pictures.  But, considering I have no where to go today, and nothing to do (other than taking care of kiddos, of course!), my outfit actually looks a little more like this:

Honesty is always the best policy, right?

Outfit Details:
Pink top: thrifted, $3.50
Blazer: thrifted, $4
Jeans: Wal-Mart, $20
Shoes: gifted
Necklace: eBay, $5

Grand Total: $32.50

Semi-Famous Apple Dumplings

You guys?  You're going to want this recipe.  Just trust me on this one.

They're easy.

There's only six ingredients.

And they're DELICIOUS!  Seriously, these apple dumplings have replaced birthday cake at most of our family celebrations. I mean, I love me some cake, but these are just so much better!

Let's get started.  First, preheat the oven. (You can scroll to the end for the full recipe, if you want to skip all my super awesome pictures....)

Next, assemble your ingredients.  You'll have butter, sugar, cinnamon, an apple, crescent rolls, and a super secret, ESSENTIAL ingredient.  Seriously, you won't want to skip this one.

What is that ingredient, you ask?

Yes, that's right.  That wonderful concoction also known as Mountain Dew.  Now, you probably won't need a bottle this size, I just like to get enough so I can drink whatever's left.  And yes, a sugar coma is my goal.

Next, you'll melt your butter on low heat in a small saucepan.

While that's melting, you'll slice and peel your apple.  You'll want 8 slices.

By now, your butter should be nice and melted.  Add your sugar and cinnamon to the saucepan and stir.

Now, roll up your apples into your crescent rolls and place them in an 8x8 pan.

Now, the really fun part: your dumplings are about to go swimming.  Cover those puppies in your melted butter mixture, and add the Dew.  A lot of it.  Don't be shy.

Now it's time for that amazing chemical reaction known as "baking."  Stick 'em in the oven, turn on your timer, and take fuzzy pictures of your family as they all excitedly wait for these to be ready to eat (that last step  is NOT optional!).

Seriously, these faces tell you how excited they are!


"Only one more year 'til I can eat them too!"
... okay, maybe not that face....
When the time is up, get them out of the oven, wait a few minutes for them to cool (or seconds, if you're impatient like me), and serve them up!

*initiate worst Schwarzenegger impression:*  "Make them.  Make them noooow!"

(Edit: there will be a lot of ooey gooey buttery saucey goodness on the bottom of the pan.  Be sure to spoon that over the dumplings when you serve them for full deliciousness!)


Amazing Crack-a-lackin' Best Ever Apple Dumplings (makes 8):

1 Large Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
1/4 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 small can (7.5 oz) Mountain Dew

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
*Begin melting butter on low heat in a small saucepan.
*Peel and core your apple, cut into 8 slices.  Roll each slice into crescent roll dough, starting at the large end, pinch to seal, and place in 8x8 pan.
*Add sugar and cinnamon to the melted butter in the saucepan.  Pour over the dumplings.
*Pour the ENTIRE can of Mountain Dew over dumplings.
*Bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.