I know Starbucks has moved on to Christmas and red cups and controversy and pumpkin spiced anything seems pretty last month, but I really wanted to feature this easy dessert for Thanksgiving because it’s such a perfect fit and a bit of a break from the traditional Thanksgiving dessert options.

I found a recipe for homemade cream horns on Pinterest and we are big fans of cream horns at our house.  I was disappointed to discover that you need molds, essentially, to make your own cream horns from scratch and I was absolutely unwillling to buy a set (even though they can be found on Amazon for about $4) and I was unwilling to wait for them to be delivered.  There had to be a solution and google came though, as always. To replicate the horn molds, you only need to wrap sugar cones with tin foil and sugar cones are available just about every place, including my small town grocery store.

Traditional cream horns tend to have a more traditional filling, but I was feeling a little saucy and decided to make up a batch of my favorite cake icing and add some pumpkin spice to it, to make it a little more festive. The results were delicious and I’m actually considering whipping up a batch for Thanksgiving.  The frosting recipe is pretty big, so you could make at least 18 cream horns, but you’d need another box of puff pastry for that to work.  Instead of making more, we just enjoyed the leftover pumpkin spice whipped cream cream cheese frosting straight from the mixer bowl.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Horns
Serves: 12
  • 1 box of sugar cones
  • 1 box of puff pastry,thawed
  • cooking spray
  • 1 egg, whipped
  • sugar
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • ⅔c white sugar
  • 1.5c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 tsp pumpkin spice
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Wrap each sugar cone with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray
  3. Lay out puff pastry sheet on a flat surface and cut into six equal strips.
  4. Starting at the tip of the sugar cone, wrap around the cone, making sure to overlap each layer slightly.
  5. Lay on a parchment paper and gentely wash each cone with the beaten egg. Don't be too generous, as you don't want to add much moisture into the mix. Sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. While the horns bake, mix whipping cream in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  8. Mix softened cream cheese, vanilla, sugar and pumpkin spice until smooth. Gently fold in whipped cream. Chill until ready to use.
  9. One cream horns are finished, remove from cones and place on a cooling rack. Allow them to cool to room temperature before filling. When you're ready to fill, fill an incing bag with the frosting and use a large tip to pipe the horns full.
  10. We ate ours immediately, but you will need to refrigerate them if you don't plan on eating them as soon as you fill them.


The end of November to the end of December is officially my favorite time of year.  Oh, I like summer.  And October.  And don’t even get me started on Fall. But, yes, I’m one of those “Christmas People” that people bitch about on Facebook starting sometimes around Halloween. I cannot wait for Christmas.  I love everything about it. I love the trees and the lights and the presents and the cookies and the “very special episodes” of my favorite shows.  I work hard to wring every single bit of fun out of the Christmas season.

But, this week I’m talking about Thanksgiving.

First, if this is your first year making a turkey, I want to reassure you that they’re really not difficult at all to make.  They’re big.  They’re (sometimes) expensive. But, they’re not difficult.

Next, I want to take about this great little sweet potato casserole recipe that is super easy and inexpensive to make and tastes delicious.  It happens to be a “knock off” recipe from a sweet potato casserole featured at a famous steak house.  I’ve never been to know whether or not that’s true, but  I can say this buttery, nutty sweet casserole is a great addition to Thanksgiving dinner.

Yes, that’s a crust made from brown sugar and pecans.

Sweet Potato Casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
  • 1 can of sweet potatoes
  • .5 stick of butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅔c sugar
  • crust:
  • ⅔ c brown sugar
  • ¼c flour
  • ½ c chopped pecan
  • .5 stick of melted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Butter a casserole dish
  3. Dump drained sweet potatoes, eggs, butter, sugar and vanilla into a mixing bowl and mix until smooth.
  4. Pour into buttered casserole dish.
  5. Mix together melted butter, brown sugar, flour and pecans.
  6. Spread over top of sweet potatoes
  7. Bake for 30 minutes

This is one of those dishes that can be plopped into the oven with other items and cook at their temperature.  If you’re cooking at a higher temperature watch to be sure it doesn’t burn and reduce the cooking time.  This is a great, sweet dish to add to the more savory Thanksgiving offerings and if you’re looking for a budget conscious side dish, this is a great choice.


Things get a little spendy this time of year.  Anyone else?  We’re traveling for Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping, paying for our March Disney trip.  Last week, Auntie Awesome took the girls for the last sleepover of 2015 and even though it was tempting to plan a big night out, Big Daddy and I did something different and it was fantastic.


I love cooking with Big Daddy.  It’s something that makes holidays and weekend mornings so much fun.  We’re good in the kitchen, together.  He chops and I saute.  He washes up while I tend roux.  It’s a good partnership and a good reminder of how well we can work together.  Marriage is about ebbing and flowing and sometimes you need those reminders that being together and working as a team feels good. I had some doubts going into it.  Big Daddy and I had some issues to work out and I was worried that this whole idea would bomb, but in the end it’s one of the best dates we’ve ever had.



There was something just right about sitting at our table, discussing the things that had been hanging over us.  There was something powerful about being to solve our problems at home.  Oh, we do it all the time.  Doesn’t everyone?  Compromises are reached through the shower curtain, or face to face with your head on pillows.  Sometimes they’re found red faced and angry and sometimes they’re found in peaceful moments when the kids are asleep and you have a minute to listen to yourself think. I’m looking forward to more nights like this in 2016.

Big Daddy dropped off  the girls and I made an appetizer to snack on while we cooked dinner.  We’ve had bacon wrapped cream cheese stuffed jalapenos other places, but besides my hands burning for a bit, they were really simple and super delicious. Next time, I’ll wear gloves.

Grilled Chicken with Chorizo Rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tube of Chorizo (we use the Mexican style "loose" sausage. They come in a pack of two "tubes" and one was sufficient for this recipe and about half of what the original called for)
  • 4 tsp tomato paste (the concentrated, in the tube stuff)
  • 2 c cooked white rice
  • 1 c thawed frozen peas
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • herbs de provance
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Cook onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garic and the chorizo, breaking up the sausage as it cooks. Add the rice, tomato paste and peas and and warm under low heat.
  2. Preheat your grill.
  3. Sprinkle chicken things, generously, with herbs de provance. Grill 5 minutes per side.
  4. Serve and enjoy





satcOriginally Aired: On HBO Currently Available: Amazon Prime and HBO on Demand Dates Aired: 1998-2004 Seasons/Episodes: 6 Seasons/94 plus two feature length movies Starring/Where do you know him/her from: Sarah Jessica Parker/Sarah in Hocus Pocus and Janey Green in Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Kim Cattrell/Davina Jackson  on Sensitive Skin, Kristin Davis/ Miss Spider from Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch, Cynthia Nixon/ Eleanor Roosevelt in Warm Springs, Rebecca in The Big C, Chris Noth/ Peter Florrick on The Good Wife and J.P. Morgan on Titanic: Blood and Steel and Detective Mike Logan on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, David Eigenberg/Christoper Herrman on both Chicago Fire and Chicago PD. Family Friendly? NO.  Dear God, no.

Spoilers Ahead!

Summary: Like every other 20 or 30 something woman in the late 90s/early aughts, I watched this show when it was “new”.  I didn’t have HBO, but that didn’t stop me from stalking the DVDs at the library.  For a lot of us, Sex and the City was our favorite guilty pleasure.  For someone like me, a young 20 something in the midwest, I liked seeing this representation of how the other half could live.  And, there was something reassuring about being seen by a threat by these four women just because my age started with a 2. Now, a decade later and the age the SATC foursome was during the show, I think I come at it with a different perspective.  Ten years ago, Carrie Bradshaw was a bastion.  I mean, I thought she wore some really questionable clothes, but she seems to have it all even if she did struggle to find a relationship.She had this great apartment.  She dated amazing men.  She knew all these wonderful, quirky people.  She always had someone to out to dinner with or to go out to drinks with or go shopping with.  Her girlfriends were always available and up for anything. SHe had this great job that paid amazingly well and while she talked about how full her credit cards were, she always had money for five hundred dollar shoes. But, a thirty something me sees the foursome differently.  Samantha buries her inadequacies and vulnerabilities in sex.  Miranda is pretty much miserable (and not funny miserable, but I wouldn’t want to date her either miserable) and she’s sometimes legitimately mean to others including her friends.  Charlotte is obsessed with marriage and kind of gets what she deserves in the disaster that was Trey McDougel and Carrie is a big mess.  She is a commitment-phobe.  She cheats.  She’s a prude except when it suits her not to be.  She’s actively judgey towards Samantha.  She’s upset when Aiden wants her to pay for her part of the apartment they intended to share after she breaks it off.   In my re-watching, Carrie comes off as being almost actively unlikable. Two full length movies were made after the ending of the series to give fans more closure, but I don’t think I’ll be watching either of those.  First, you’re supposed to believe that the girls got their happily ever afters.  Charlotte has a happy marriage and a baby on the way, Miranda has finally accepted how good of a life she is Brooklyn with Steve and Brady (though hopefully she and Steve don’t married because Brady Brady is an awful name), Samantha and Smith have committed to each other as have Carrie and Big (John).  I watched the first movie and thought it was pretty bad and can’t bring myself to watch the second.


Favorite  Character: I’ve always considered myself a Charlotte and I think that’s true now.  My opinions and impressions of Charlotte didn’t change  with my re-watching of the this series.  Of course, my opinions of Sam didn’t change either, but either way, I don’t know if I can call Charlotte my favorite character or if I even have one. I think the foursome’s flaws were revealed in much larger scale during my 30-something rewatch of my 20-something must watch. As an older woman (well, older than I was.  39 ins’t old!),I feel like I’m calling them on more BS than I did when I was younger.   So, in the end?  No favorite.  Maybe Mr. Big.  I still love Mr. Big. MrBig

Least Favorite Character: I really dislike Sam Jones. In fact, not even her softening during her cancer story line redeems her for me.


Biggest Pet Peeve: Carrie’s writing style.  Yes, I know this is Carrie’s telling of the story and we’re getting things through Carrie’s filter, but the little vignettes of Carrie writing her column all sounded so much the same, that I had to wonder–could I mimic Carrie’s writing style without even watching the show?  How is this woman a professional writer if she literally uses the exact same sentence every. single. column.  And she wrote a book?  Oh, hell no. Imagine that chapter upon chapter.  I couldn’t help but wonder–will chapter three sound just like chapter four?

How Many Stars **1/2— totally fluffy rite of passage.


This summer, Big Daddy and I celebrated sixteen years of marriage.  Sixteen years is no joke.   Oh, it’s not fifty years or anything like that (which is no joke either), but every year we manage feels like we’ve beat some sort of odds.  It feels good.  It feels like we’ve managed to do something. We’ve made it decade and two decades are easily in our sights.

Last year, we were lucky enough to get a few days to go away for our fifteenth anniversary.  It was magical and Auntie Jay asked the girls back for a repeat this summer.  We talked to Grandpa and Nana and they were on board for some girlie time as well, so Big Daddy and I scheduled a TEN DAY CHILD FREE VACATION.

Read that again, friends. And then read it again.

We knew where we wanted to go.  One of our very best friends moved to California in 2009 and we’d only been able to see him a few times since.  We tried to make it to the west coast during our short trip last year, but we couldn’t justify the pricing.  This time, we had time on our side and booked an awesome ten day west coast vacation.

We left the girls in Wisconsin on Monday, but don’t feel too badly for them…

We spent a whirlwind few hours in Illinois before checking into a hotel that was very close to the airport for our very earling morning flight (I think it was at 6 am and we had to be up and out of the hotel by 4am, which kind of stunk because we didn’t even get to sleep until midnight).

We arrived fairly early in Nevada (+1 state). While this really was a California trip, it was a lot cheaper for us to fly into Las Vegas and drive to California, so that’s what we did.  After renting a convertible, of course.   Big Daddy knows how to make a lady happy.  We stopped for lunch and then pointed the car west. We visited Red Rock Canyon.  I was feeling a little ishy, so we didn’t  do any of the hiking trials, but we did do the auto tour.  It was beautiful and I’m looking forward to returning and being able to do a little hiking.

And then, we made a little mistake.  I got greedy.  I figured with a little extra driving, we could see Death Valley AND Yosemite on the same drive.  And, yes, it’s possible, but I forgot to figure in that we’d been up since 2 am local time and a 12 hour drive was just too much.  We did it, but we didn’t enjoy it.  The bright side?  I don’t need to see Death Vally EVER again.

The bad news is, I think I would have loved Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, but it was so darn late and we were so tired, there was just no enjoyment there.  We collapsed, again, in Sacramento for another quick night’s sleep before meeting up with our friend and his girlfriend.

California was what I expected and again something I didn’t.  We drove from Sacramento to San Diego during the course of our eight days in the state.   I saw the devastation of the drought first hand and it’s every bit as bad as you can imagine.   I sampled LA traffic and it’s as terrible as you can imagine.

I saw the Sea Lions!

I saw the Golden Gate Bridge!

I walked so long down the beach that my cell phone went into roaming because it had picked up a cell tower in Mexico (and then we turned back).

I went to Disneyland!

It was an amazing trip. I’m planning one back for all five of us in 2017.

As I write this, it’s too dark to take a picture, but this week the leaves on our hold out tree have turned brown and the tree is on its way to bare.  We’re moving towards late November and most of the trees have shed their leaves now.  This is the time of year where I usually proclaim that it might as well snow to cover up the dead and brown.  However, we’ve been enjoying an extra long Indian Summer and we might actually need to mow the grass again soon if we don’t start getting some heavy frost.

But, it’s nice to take advantage of the warmer weather to hang up a few Christmas lights in preparation of the coming season (both Christmas and cold) which is what we did over the weekend.  We have a few, final touches to add in the coming weeks, but our display will be simple this year and I’m looking forward to it.

We are down to our last couple honeycrisp apples.  If we had more, I’d have made the apple pie filling for today’s featured recipe from scratch, but it seems a shame to waste it on pie filling, so I’ll eat one this week dipped in peanut butter (which seems like a fitting way to honor the last honeycrisp apple of the season).  We ate 2 bushels of honeycrisp apples this season.  We can get them a little later into the year, but they’re just not as good.

But, enough about honeycrsip.   This is an easy weekend dessert you can call on to use up the last of your apple supplies or just to add a little something special to the end of another fall day.

Author: adapted from Spend with Pennies
  • flour tortillas
  • .5c sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • frying oil
  • apple pie filling
  • whipped cream
  1. Using a round cookie cutter, cut tortillas into smaller circles. I bent my cutter oblong and got tw out of the medium sized tortilla
  2. Mix cinnamon sugar in a bowl and set aside
  3. Pour 1 inch of oil into a heavy skillet for frying. Test the heat of the oil by tossing in a smal piece of tortilla. It should bubble and float the tortilla around the skillet. Place the tortilla into the skillet and allow to cook for 15-30 seconds. Flip it over and using a butter knife and fork, fold the tortilla in half to make a small taco shell
  4. Fry about thirty seconds a side until golden brown. Remove from the oil, blot quickly and dip it into the cinnamon and sugar while still hot
  5. Fill with apple pie filling and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy

So, the recipe itself is pretty simple, but the folding and timing of the taco shells take a little finesse. My first two, I over cooked and couldn’t fold them when I flipped them. It’s better to err on the side of under cooking the first side and then flipping to allow it to fold.


Also, I allowed my first few to drain completely on a towel and it didn’t allow the sugar to adhere.  I left the rest a little more “damp” from the hot oil and it cinnamon sugar stuck much better.

According to the origina recipe, these will keep for days, but I’m not sure about that.  I think the texture of the “tacos” would degrade and that they’re better eaten fresh.  They’re also a little messy, but worth it.
Monday  Chicken Spinach Pasta Bake

Tuesday  Chicken Faitas

Wednesday  Slow Cooker Greek Chicken Pitas

Thursday  Spaghetti

Friday  Pizza night



When Littlebit was small, Johnson & Johnson made this great product called vapobath.  It was baby bath, but had some menthol or something in it and it was a great addition to a stuffy baby’s bath.  For some reason, you can’t buy this product in the US anymore (but UK folks, it’s a great product and I’d recommend it).  Since the girls didn’t like baths as little ones, I’d dump a couple of cap fulls onto the floor of the shower and hold them until their noses opened up.

I’ve been seeing these pins for Vaprozing Shower Cubes on Pinterest for a while. I’m not going to link to any specific post. I followed several links and the recipe and process is the same and I don’t want to hold someone responsible for my fail.  Most recipes call for baby Vicks, but I bought regular and maybe that made the difference?  Perhaps there’s something in regular strength Vicks that doesn’t work in the superscribed circumstances. I did google to see if it made a difference no one said that it would, so there’s that.

Anyhow, I didn’t have an ice cube tray and opted to make mine in a muffin tin.  It was hard to work with, really sticky and lumpy.  The blog I followed suggested you could pour it in, but I used exactly the amount of water suggested and mine never processed past paste consistency.

And, even though mine was never wet enough to pour, allowing them to dry overnight didn’t net me dry cubes in the morning.  They were still sticky to the touch, so I let them dry another 10 hours.  When it was time to remove them from the tins, well, they didn’t go down without a fight.

But, I’m not one to let something ugly deter me.  I can use them ugly and decided to take an afternoon shower to give them a try and this is where it gets really disappointing.  I fired up the shower, got it nice and steamy, dropped my vaporizing shower cubes onto the floor and got in, ready to be assaulted by a lovely, vicks-y steam.


Seriously, nothing.  I moved them around a little bit, trying to get them into a better position.  Honestly, there is more Vicks in the air as I write this in the dining room (and my failed shower cubes rest on the kitchen counter next door) than there was at any point in my shower.  I took several broken pieces into the bathroom with me and when one wasn’t working, I dumped in two more.  Still nothing.  The only thing that ever smelled like Vicks were the bottom of my feet after I tried stirring the cube bits around.

But, I got a second shower so score?

I really wanted these to work, but in the end, save your time and your Vicks.


Littlebit and Baby Bee are two years, 10 months and 2 weeks apart and through them, Big Daddy and I have become HUGE advocates of having your children close together.  Parenting two children that are close in age is a far more pleasant experience than trying to find ways to bridge a six and a half year age gap.  When people ask us about age gaps, we always say smaller is better and if we knew then what we know now, the Princess would only be older than Littlebit by 2 to 3 years.

But, hindsight is 20/20 and having a big kid AND little kids really isn’t terrible, it’s just not as easy as it could be. There’s a big chasm between 15 and 9, and not just in years, but in interests and schedules.

One great benefit to closely spaced siblings of the same gender is hand-me-downs.  I didn’t save many of the Princess’s big kid clothes because I knew they’d be pretty out of date 6+years later, but with just a few short years between Littlebit growing out of something and Baby Bee growing into something, I  began to amass quite a collection of hand-me-downs.

At first, this was great.  I rarely had to buy blue jeans or leggings for Baby Bee.  When it came time to retire outgrown nighties from Baby Bee’s drawer there were always a few from Littlebit waiting in the wings.  As a sentimental sort, tugging a well loved nightie over Baby Bee’s head made me happy.  It was like a visit from an old friend.

Every season I cull the girls’ clothes.  Everything is inspected for size and stains and then is sorted into one of four categories; thrown out, stored for Baby Bee, stored in the sentimental box or passed on to friends and family.  This usually takes all day.  Seriously.

So, this spring I began the task of sorting the clothes. The rubbermaid totes came down and I began pulling out clothes in Baby Bee’s new size  out of the boxes.  I greeted some old friends again, but as I began loading them into Baby Bee’s drawers and onto hangers I realized something.

Littlebit and Baby Bee are very different people.  That’s not news, of course.  They share a lot of similar interests and a lot of complimentary interests (they are very Jack Sprat and his wife) but they’re very very different.  As I pulled out size 5 outfits for Baby Bee, I realized that many of the clothes weren’t going to work.  The super girlie, bright colored clothes that Littlebit loves to wear just doesn’t match Baby Bee’s personality.  They fit her, but they didn’t fit her.

This week, I sat down in front of the huge bin of clothes I was saving for Baby Bee and looked at it all with a critical eye.  I carefully laid aside at least 1/4 of it that I couldn’t put on Baby Bee, because they just weren’t who she is.

You now, Baby Bee doesn’t care a lot about what she wears.  She wants it to be comfy (leggings are bettering than jeans), layered (yes, you can wear pants under a skirt), red and having cats on it is a bonus, but putting her in sparkly, ruffly pink clothes that Littlebit has outgrown feels like the wrong thing to do and respecting her style feels like a way to respect her.

Tree Update:

Everything else is just about bare, but our little tree soldiers on and become more lovely with each passing day.

I think I’ve been cooking from The Pioneer Woman Cooks since she began blogging about cooking.  I’m not totally sure that I’ve been adding her meals to our repertoire since 2007, but it’s been a long time.  Actually, it was her “how to make cinnamon rolls in bulk for gifts” post that really drew me in.  People have complaints about Ree, of course, and I’ll admit that not all of her recipes have been five star at our house, but she usually presents recipes that families will like and her Perfect Pot Roast is no exception.

Big Daddy and I don’t go to church.  It’s a long, complicated thing and I don’t want to get into why, because that’s not my point.  My point is, back when families did go to church, Mom would throw a slow cooked meal into the oven and the family would head out together, returning to a lovely, slow cooked, home made lunch.  Something about that tradition still rings true for us. Sunday is a day for slow cooking.  It’s a day to toss the ingredients in the oven and let it warm the house while we watch hockey or football, play video games or watch a movie, play outside or snuggle in with a book.  These slow cooked meals never require much work and they’re not ingredient heavy, but they taste delicious after a day of smelling them throughout the house.

We tossed this roast together before heading out to a concert at the high school and when we returned, it was ready to eat.  We held off for long enough to make mashed potatoes.  It was tender and delicious.  The recipe says to not worry about it if you don’t have wine available, but I’m going to disagree.  If you don’t have a bottle of wine, hold off until you have it.  The wine adds a distinctive taste to the dish and I don’t think it would be as good without it.

Perfect Pot Roast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
  • 3-5 pound chuck roast
  • 2 onions
  • 5-6 whole carrots
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2-3 c beef broth
  • rosemary
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
  2. In a dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil
  3. Peel onions, cut in half and place into the hot oil. Let cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until brown. Remove onions from the heat once brown
  4. Trim carrot ends and slice into 1-2 inch pieces
  5. Place into the hot oil and toss for 2-3 minutes until some browning starts to show. Remove carrots from the pot.
  6. Season roast with salt and pepper and seer on all sides in the hot oil.
  7. Remove roast from pan and use one cup of wine to deglaze the pan. Once deglazed, return the roast to the pot. Pour in 2-3 cups of broth or until the roast is half covered. Tuck onions and carrots along the size and add several sprigs or 1 tsp of dry rosemary
  8. Cook 3 hours for a 3 pound roast or 4 hours for a 4-5 pound roast.



Hey! Chuck Roast was on sale at our local store this week, so I picked up and tossed in an extra roast with our Sunday dinner to help us prepare for the week.

Monday Brinner!  Roast beef hash, eggs and corn muffins

Tuesday Beef pot pie–This is my go to pot pie recipe. Yes, I know it’s for chicken. Replace the chicken with beef and the chicken broth with beef broth and it works perfectly

Wednesday Roast Beef Stroganoff

Thursday Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.  It’s kind of cheating, becaue it will be canned soup, but sometimes you need a break and an easy meal

Friday Holding out hope for a date night, but if not, pizza for everyone!