inspiration

cheesy nacho nests (or, your family’s new favorite side dish).

 

this post is sponsored by Crystal Farms®, but all the #cheeselove is straight from my own heart. make sure to read to the end for how to enter the giveaway!

i’ve finally found the perfect side dish for chili.

not that chili needs a side dish (because it doesn’t, it’s the perfect meal in a bowl), but there are days when you just need a little something…extra to go with that piping hot bowl of deliciousness. look no further, because i’ve figured out what we were all missing.

nacho nests. aka personal mini nachos. they are the perfect size for accompanying a hot bowl of chili (or soup), and also they satisfy your nacho cravings in an acceptably cheesy way. it can’t be just me that has nacho cravings, right? of course not.

i made these nacho nests to go with the chili we planned for dinner, but these would be perfect as an appetizer for a game day party too. you can make as many as you need, they are insanely quick to throw together, and you can customize your toppings or even let everyone top their own nacho nest once they’ve been baked.

being a good minnesota girl, i used wisconsin cheese for this recipe. Crystal Farms® shredded cheese to be exact. crystal farms is one of the largest cheese brands in the country, and is made in lake mills, wi (which is only like four hours from where i live). i sincerely doubt you need more of a reason to want to eat cheese, but just in case you do, you should know that crystal farms products are natural, with very few preservatives, are high in calcium, and are gluten-free.

i used a mexican 4 cheese blend for this recipe, but you can look in the refrigerated dairy section of your local grocery store to find any crystal farms cheese that speaks to you. pepper jack would be amazing on these!

as always, let me know if you make these, and any awesome ideas you have to make them even better!

nacho nests (makes 4 but is easily multiplied)

  • 24-32 tortilla chips
  • 1 C. Crystal Farms® Mexican 4 Cheese Blend shredded cheese (any flavor will work), divided into 4
  • toppings of choice: black beans, jalapeño slices, chopped tomatoes, black olives, etc.

preheat your oven to 400 F. on a rimmed baking sheet, make four piles of 6-8 tortilla chips. sprinkle each pile (or nest) with half of 1/4 C. crystal farms shredded cheese, then top with whatever toppings you’ve chosen. i used black beans, black olives, chopped tomatoes, and jalapeño slices, but you can use whatever you want or have on hand (or let the family choose their own toppings in a nacho nest bar situation). sprinkle the nests with the remaining cheese, then put into the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the toppings are heated through. serve as a side dish for chili or another hearty soup, or as a game day dish to share.

GIVEAWAY!

i know there are a lot of cheese lovers who read this blog, so i hope you’re all excited about this. crystal farms is letting me pick one winner to receive THREE coupons for free crystal farms products. all you have to do to enter is visit the crystal farms website to learn more about the crystal farms cheese products there, then come back here to leave a comment telling me what cheese you would choose and what recipe you would use it in. i’ll pick a winner at random on november 26th. i can’t wait to see all your ideas, because who doesn’t want some free cheese??

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still here, still squawking, still ridiculous.

i know that this blog has turned into a baby book substitute for my poor second-born child (i’m sorry william, i promise i will get you a real baby book like your sister has), and for that i…well, i don’t know what. do i apologize? i don’t think anyone was made that i went MIA. do i feel bad? kind of, but only for myself for not making my creative outlet more of a focus during this crazy time. i guess i feel like i miss the people who i interact with on this blog, and so maybe that’s it. maybe i just say that i’ve missed you all, whoever you are that come here to read my ridiculous squawking about the important and unimportant goings-on in my head.

i really like that this is a place that i can let my weird sense of dry humor show, and where i can update my faraway friends and loved ones, and where i can showcase my love of good old-fashioned home cooking and strong cocktails. and maybe write a heartfelt essay or two along the way that resonates with a few of you. this blog is not a blog like blogs have become over the past three years. and it won’t ever be that kind of a blog. even if or when i get my editorial calendar back on track, it will never be belong in the shiny, curated part of the internet with everyone else’s stylized (although maybe a little homogenous) stuff. and i hope that might be a tiny reason why people still read my blog…because it’s just me. and if you like me for me, what more could i ask for?

i have a recipe post lined up for next week, and somewhere, way down deep inside of me, there is some inspiration that’s starting to bubble up through the sleep deprivation that is part and parcel of being a working mom of two little ones. so while the baby book posts will still be a big part of how this blog is happening, you’ll start to see more of me sprinkled throughout this space. and i hope you’ll be here for all of it.

[that got weirdly deep, and i didn’t think it would. that’s what happens when you give me a beer and let me type without thinking for a few minutes….]

well let’s give a quick update into what’s happening in my life besides the whole child-rearing gig, shall we?

  • marriage is a whole different ballgame when there are two kids involved, but even through all the adjustments and general mayhem, i’m delighted to report that Mister Man and i are still very happily married. and what’s more, we will have been very happily married for five years as of june 1. in honor of this momentous occasion, we’ve decided to take a rather large, rather fun trip to the united kingdom in the fall, and it has been so much fun planning it out together! this will be our first trip to europe together, and my first time back since just after college, and i could not be more excited to take a trip, just my love and i, all the way across the pond. more on that as it comes together!
  • speaking of different ballgames…postpartum bodies are crazy. i won’t get into details, so as not to scare anyone off from having kids, but let’s just say that after baby number two, the snap back isn’t as snappy as it was with baby number one. i was in a big rut of eating ice cream every night, and dangerously close to the “eff it all” mentality, when i luckily was given the opportunity to do some nutrition and fitness coaching with katie over at belle fitness and nutrition. holy wow you guys. firstly, she is basically superwoman. she runs her own business, solo parents THREE children a lot of the time, and still has the best attitude around. secondly, she just gets how to help people fit good nutrition and fitness into their lives where they are. i don’t even have a gym membership, so she gave me some at home workouts, and they truly work (and i feel like i can make time for them, which is saying something). between her workouts and the nutrition program she works with, i’ve lost actual inches from my body in two months. i’m visibly slimming down, and it doesn’t feel like i’ve turned my life upside down to do it. because i wouldn’t have done it if it was too complicated. what i’m trying to say is, she’s amazing. if you’re in the market for a simple way to work good nutrition and fitness into your life, PLEASE check her out.
  • i’m drinking so much coffee these days you guys. like, i’m wondering when it qualifies as a problem. i’m walking a fine line between enjoying my daily coffee(s) and being fully dependent on them. i’m starting to justify the lattes at work by saying they are part of my daily protein intake, but we all know that it’s the espresso that i’m jonesing for. does anyone have experience in breaking a caffeine addiction while being sleep deprived that doesn’t involve actually giving up all caffeine? i’m not really going to do anything about it, but just in case i find myself getting worse…
  • i don’t know if any of you noticed that i have a second instagram now…in the absence of having the energy to write actual blog posts, i’ve been really into instagram and posting little micro-blog posts there. i’m also very into instagram stories. i mostly tell ridiculous stories about things my kids do to me, and every so often i can be pretty funny if you’re into that sort of thing. ANYWAY. if you read this blog, you’re cool and you already know that i’m halfway crunchy and into cooking from scratch, and natural cleaning products, and just generally being as much like laura ingalls as i can be. but my instagram is also a place where a lot of my irl contacts follow me, and i just find that the engagement for the crunchy stuff wasn’t there. i want people who like that sort of thing to be able to choose to see it and enjoy it if they want to. plus, i started posting a lot about essential oils, and i know that can trigger a lot of people because it’s gotten a bit crazy these days (and essential oil people can be a bit nutty if we’re being honest). so it all went into a separate account. all that being said, if you like that sort of thing (natural home and essential oil and simplified living), go ahead and follow me @withloveathome. also, a lot of people have asked so i’ll say it here: i’m not a big seller of essential oils, but i am a big fan of them, so if you ever have questions, or want me to order you some with my discount, or want to order them yourself, please don’t hesitate to ask.
  • i am an AUNTIE!!! our gorgeous niece, grace, arrived on april 21, and i am so excited to be an aunt i could just scream. it’s the weirdest feeling but there is something so cool about seeing your siblings have kids! Amelia is already obsessed with “baby grace”, and she and William are only six months apart, so i cannot wait to see how their relationship grows as they get older. i love my cousins so much, they are some of my best friends to this day, and i hope for the same for my kids.

thanks for being here and for giving me grace and for loving my silliness through it all. i love you all right back.

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inexpensive holiday outfit inspiration.

i’ll admit, i’m feeling a bit lackluster in my holiday style this year. i’ve opted out of buying anything new (waaaaah!) until after i know what christmas brings, but because of my recent closet purges, i haven’t really added anything that i feel exceptionally festive in.

i decided that i’m going to rely on my staple outfits, but i’ll add some festive holiday flair to them with some inexpensive items. think tights, socks, scarves, makeup and jewelry. it’s not exactly a reinvention of the wheel, but i think we all find ourselves in a place where we don’t have the “perfect” outfit and need a way to make what we have work for the occasion.

i honestly get a lot of inspiration for this from my friends. in particular, my friend caitlin is notoriously good at looking perfect for whatever occasion she’s in, whether it’s brunch or a bachelorette party, while hanna (she’s actually a cousin-friend) is amazing at using accessories + jewelry to look amazing ALL THE TIME. every time i’m with either of them, i’m like, alright, i am going to look adorable every day by copying them. it usually lasts for two days until i fall back into my old ways, but every now and again (like during the holidays), i get reinspired and try my best to live up to their awesomeness.

for the sake of this post, i’m going to take one dress and show how with a few changes to little things, you can have multiple outfits to wear to holiday events (which, if you’re anything like me, you have plenty of).

scarf + tights + hair

add tights, a scarf and a cute updo to any simple dress for a simple holiday outfit.

scarf: CAbi | dress: stitchfix | tights: target | shoes: macys (old, similar here) | makeup favorites: here

easy-holiday-outfit

easy-holiday-outfit

my original plan for this look was to wear my cranberry tights, because cranberry is festive and also you know i love it. but then i realized my cranberry tights had a HUGE run in them (please tell me that happened when i got home from wherever i wore them last, amen.) and had to improvise. i like how the purple tights turned out! they’re not too flashy for those of you who don’t like that sort of thing, but they add a fun, unexpected pop of color in a not too obvious holiday way. a topknot is always a good idea when going for the holiday vibe (and also when you were out at the last party too late and decided that washing your hair was overrated).

shoes + jewelry

holiday-outfit-idea

necklace: CAbi | shoes: banana republic (old, similar here)

holiday-outfit-idea

holiday-outfit-idea

you can’t go wrong with leopard shoes. that’s a fact. they’re basically a neutral, and yet they scream, LOOK AT HOW GREAT AND FUN I AM! tell me, where is the downside? i paired these with the same purple tights as before, but you could wear black tights, grey tights, any tights with these, or go bare-legged if you live in a climate suitable for that sort of craziness. and i’m not usually a statement necklace sort of gal, but if any occasion calls for some glitz around your neck parts, it’s a holiday party.

makeup + jewelry

holiday-outfit-and-makeup

makeup favorites: here | eyeshadow + bronzer: urban decay naked on the run palette (unavailable) | lips: revlon (similar here) | necklace: target (old)

holiday-outfit-and-makeup

holiday-outfit-and-makeup

i love a bold lip any old time of year. give me orange lips in the summer, berry lips in the fall, and fuschia lips ALWAYS. but never is there a more fitting time for a classic red lip than the christmas holiday. it’s color appropriate, it’s fun, and it goes with everything. paired with some brown + slightly sparkly eyes, it’s classic without being boring. the palette i used for the eyes is unavailable, but use any matte light/dark browns with some brown/gold shimmer and you’ll match it easily. i went for a colorful necklace here to complement my lips and because my dress is so neutral, but it would be so cool to get something big and shiny and neutral to wear with something more colorful or festive.

hope you liked these ideas and that they gave you a bit of inspiration for this week. let me know if you’re like me and constantly looking for last-minute holiday outfits. what are your tips + tricks for making it work without going online shopping crazy?

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gift guides for everyone.

alrighty, buckle up people. i’m going to be coming at you with a lot of information in this here blog post. i thought about doing a series of gift guides for this holiday season, but then i was like, no! i have too many blog posts i want to write, and you can find awesome gift guides elsewhere on the internet (i even shared some at the end of this post). but i still love sharing gift ideas, so i decided to do it all in one post.

will this be too long? maybe. will you guys enjoy it? hopefully!

gift guides for everyone

gifts for the guys:

men are so hard to buy for! or maybe that’s just me. i have THE hardest time thinking of gifts for guys, especially my husband! i literally start thinking of what to get him for Christmas around august. if your guy (friend, boyfriend, brother, husband, whatever) is anything like mine, gifts they can use to make things are always a hit (like tools, books, or cooking/drink accessories), as well as gifts that are practical with a hint of fun. what guy willingly buys fun boxers for himself? and you know those ratty boxers aren’t going to last much longer…

gift ideas for guys, they're always so hard to buy for. tools, cocktail accessories and more ideas.

shown: dewalt drill $89, back to basics book $12, boxers $6, sphere ice cube mold $8, carryon cocktail kit $19

gifts for the gals:

i myself love to get consumable gifts (as well as give consumable gifts). i tend to gift things to the girls in my life that i would also love. partly because i love to share things i love with other people, and partly because i think that universally, most of us like to be pampered. and if we don’t like it, well, we need it in our life. self-care is important! so hand creams, bath salts, makeup, even clothes that i wouldn’t normally buy for myself are all good bets in my book. (here’s my gift guide for her from last year too…still good!)

gift guide for the gals in your life. easy pampering ideas from smartwool socks to makeup kits to bath salts.

shown: athleta en route dress $69 (on sale now!), clinique ‘whole lotta chubby’ set $25, san francisco bath salt company detox soak $10, smartwool socks $20, l’occitane almond delights $16

gifts for the kids:

in our house, we decided that until the kids were a little older, we would do the “something they want/something they need/something to wear/something to read” gift plan. so this year Amelia will be getting a couple little stocking stuffers like crayons and socks, and her gifts will have cost under $50 total. she will enjoy the things she’s getting, but because she is so young, doesn’t need us to buy her crazy gifts…plus, she has grandparents that love to do that. 🙂 the great thing is that there are so many great toys out there, you can spend as little or as much as you want to stay within your budget.

gift guide for young kids. a mix of useful and fun gifts are perfect for young kids while still being fun.

shown: pottery barn backpack (i got mine on sale) $29.50, Christmas socks $2, the story of Christmas book $7, toy cleaning kit (Amelia loves to “help” clean) $26, cozy outfit $20

gifts for the parents:

if your parents are anything like mine, you know they deserve more than you could ever buy them. you also know that they probably have a lot of stuff already, making them extremely difficult to buy for. so go for the stuff that means a lot: tickets to an event that means a lot to you both. a day out together. or create something nostalgic like a photo book to show them how much you care about your time together. lotion for mom and a good bottle of scotch for dad can’t hurt either.

gift guide for parents. what to get the people who gave you everything and have everything? make some memories, and pamper them.

shown: theatre tickets (source) $60, glenlivet scotch $52, shutterfly photo book (source) $variable, l’occitane hand cream $50,

i hope that this provided a bit of inspiration as you finish shopping for those hard to shop for people in your life. i myself devour holiday gift guides during this time of year. you never know when you’re going to stumble on that perfect, genius idea you didn’t know you needed. here are a couple of my favorites i’ve already seen pop up around the internets if you need even more inspiration.

all that’s glittered (for girls & for giving back)

cup of jo (for men)

dash of serendipity (for under $30)

merry shopping!

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how to find your personal style (part three).

if you missed my first post or my second post on this topic, i highly recommend taking a moment to go back and read them. it will give you all the background you need so you won’t be lost as we jump into part three of this series. make sure to save or pin these posts so you can come back to them if you decide to use these tips down the road!

how-to-find-your-personal-style

okay, so by now you’ve hopefully cleaned out your closet, identified your personal style themes and given your style a name. high five, amazing job, does it feel wonderful? hopefully! now your ready for the last step, filling the gaps and living your damn life.

not everyone will need to fill gaps. you might have started with enough clothing or had a good enough grip on your style to get rid of just enough to have a solid wardrobe. i was almost there, but did find some gaps here and there that needed to be filled (and still need to be filled, if we’re being honest). you might find that once you went through your dresses, you were left with a handful you love, which makes you want to wear more dresses like that, but you need to invest in a few to round out your collection. in my case, for work and everday dresses, i love jersey knits with tailored waists and swingy skirts, as well as shirtdresses with belts. but i only have one or two of each of these. i could stand to pick up a couple more in black, gray, or green (hell, maybe a nice blush color too).

edited wardrobe dress wishlist

you might also find that you’re fine with jeans, but your shorts collection could use a little boost. i realized that while i am totally set with my tank tops, short sleeve shirts and sweatshirts, i’m woefully lacking in simple, long-sleeved shirts. this is a problem where i live, and i’m not sure how i didn’t realize this sooner? question mark? once you fill your style gaps, all you have to do is remember what you’ve learned and go out into the world & look gorgeous.

edited wardrobe wishlist 2

how to find your personal style

(filling gaps AND looking gorgeous)

  1. identify gaps in your wardrobe. are there any items that you know you love, but you’re starting out with only one or two pieces? when you look at your wardrobe, is there anything you’re outright missing like long-sleeved shirts, blazers, or shorts? once you see what you’re missing, make a list of the key pieces you want to add to your wardrobe. [insert photo collages of key pieces for wardrobes; tops/bottoms/dresses]
  2. fill the gaps in your wardrobe. don’t feel like you have to do this all at once. in fact, anytime you add pieces to your wardrobe, it should be a well thought out process, and you should take the time you need to do it right. don’t buy a piece just because it’s the right color, or has the right length of sleeves. anything that you buy should be something you love, because otherwise you’re going to have to repeat step one of this process over and over again. now that you know your style inside and out, you can tell what you love and what you’ll wear, so make your choices accordingly.
  3. look gorgeous. this is self-explanatory. now that you know what clothes make you feel good, getting dressed everyday isn’t going to be a chore because you know you’ll love anything you put on. and when getting dressed isn’t a stressful process, you’re going to be happier and more confident in your own skin and your personal style.

i hope that these tips have been helpful for you. i know that my mornings are so much easier now that i’ve gone through this exercise, and easy morning make me really happy. hopefully you find the same to be true. also, if you ever want help naming your style, please let me know because i live for that stuff!

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