Apr 22, 2014

And We're Off!!

It's hard to believe that by the time many of you read this post, we'll be in Paris!  For the next two weeks, we'll be in Europe to explore a few countries and visit some dear friends who live in Germany and will be serving as our resident tour guides.  It's like a dream come true!

I look forward to sharing our travel photos and details with you upon our return, but in the mean time check out some of the places we're planning to visit while we're there.

Paris, France...

Brussels, Belgium...

Bruges, Belgium...

Dusseldorf, Germany...

Aachen, Germany...

Amsterdam, Netherlands...

Dublin, Ireland...

Wicklow Mountains National Park, Ireland...

We're a little excited to say the least!  This should be the trip of a lifetime and we're so very blessed to get to do this as a family.  

There will be a few posts while I'm gone, but I'll be back to share more with you soon.  Until then...

Apr 17, 2014

Easy Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

I found this recipe for Chicken Pot Pie in an AllRecipes.com mailer/advertisement, and it had me at "pot pie".  To be honest, I've never met a pot pie that I didn't love.  I had never tried making my own mainly because there are so many good pre-made pot pie options like Marie Calendar's frozen pot pies, Costco's "handmade" refrigerated pot pies, etc.  To be super honest, pot pies just always seemed to be too tedious to make at home.  Until now... (enter angels singing a heavenly chorus)


This is so good, you could totally make it for guests and get a standing ovation (if you have guests like that...)

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 unbaked frozen pie crusts, placed in refrigerator overnight to defrost (or you can make your own crust if you're hard core)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In large saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery.  Add warm water to cover and boil for 10-15 min (until chicken cooked through).  Remove from heat, drain, and set aside. (Note: I prepared this the day before and just refrigerated it until the next day to save some prep time)

3. In same saucepan, over medium heat, cook onion in butter until soft and translucent.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed.  Then slowly stir in chicken broth and milk - alternating liquids until their both all in.  Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring very frequently, until thick.  Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Place 1 pie crust in a pie plate (I kept my bottom crust in the foil pie pan that it came in, but placed that inside a glass pie plate to prevent overflow) and spoon chicken mixture from step 2 into it.  Then pour hot broth mixture from step 3 over the filling.  Cover with second pie crust, inverted on top of the pie.  Seal crust edges by pressing down around the pie with your fingers.  (You may cut away any extra crust, but I piled my pie high with filling so the entire second pie crust was needed)

5. Make several small slits in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.  Place pie plate on baking sheet to prevent overflow, then bake in preheated oven for 30-35 min or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.


6. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Slice in and enjoy!


 Never looks as pretty as I'd like it to on the plate, but dang it tastes so good!


Let me know what you think of this recipe if you decide to give it a whirl.  It definitely deserves the 5-star review it has from AllRecipes.com.  It seems to be pretty fail-safe too.  (knock on wood for next time...)

Apr 15, 2014

Splurge vs. Save: Pretty Plates Edition

For those of you serving an Easter meal this weekend, how about some pretty springtime plates to wow your guests?  I've seen the trend of dipped plates all over the place this season, and I can't help but love their simple but graphic and colorful look.

splurge  |  save

Wouldn't they be beautiful paired with white dishes and serving pieces?  If you go for the "save" version make sure to find a Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupon online or laying around...they even take expired ones!!

Apr 11, 2014

Ever Have One of Those Days?

(Free Printable via here!)

Well, instead of blogging during my little one's nap today, I took a nap with her.  Not my plan, but we both totally needed it...she was exhausted from skipping a nap yesterday and I was exhausted from dealing with a tired toddler. What can I say?  The nap was a win-win situation!

Hope you all have a happy weekend!  We'll be enjoying some spring sunshine and warmer temps FINALLY...I hope.

Apr 9, 2014

Have Sticker Will Travel

The other day while browsing the aisles of our local craft store, I came upon a HUGE travel-themed scrapbook sticker that was on mega sale and couldn't resist.  The sticker - a clear puffy heart with colorful cut-outs representing European countries - was simply perfect to represent our travels this year. 

Typically, I don't recommend working backwards with design (i.e. finding a small detail/accessory and determining how to incorporate an entire design around it) but in this case I simply had to figure out a way to display this sticker. Here's what I ended up with:


I grabbed a square frame (also on clearance at the same store), a piece of white card stock, scissors, and a thin Sharpie...

Traced a small pencil line around where the paper would fit into the frame, so I'd have a guide for my lettering...and then wrote all the countries we'd be visiting this year.


I erased the pencil line, placed it in the frame, and voila!  A cute little way to remember all the international places we were traveling to in 2014.


I put the frame in our little girl's room since the colors were perfect for in there.  It's a fun reminder of the trips we have to look forward to this year and after we've gone on the trips, it will serve as a memento to remind us of our travels.

Here's what caught my eye in the sticker for each of the countries we'll visit:
France - Eiffel Tower
Germany - Stein
Belgium - We'll pretend the pretzel is a waffle :)
Netherlands - Tulip, Windmill
Ireland - Four Leaf Clover
Spain - Red Bull, Soccer Ball

England (Telephone Booth, Big Ben, Red Bus) and Italy (Vespa, Leaning Tower of Pisa) are also represented in the sticker but since we've traveled there in the past, I figured it was legit for them to be displayed too.

Ever find something that spoke to you in a craft store?  What did you create with it?

Apr 7, 2014

Gluten + Dairy Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Ok friends, here's another really super tasty gluten and dairy free recipe that is sure to remind you of the Girl Scout Peanut Butter Patty cookies (you know the delicious peanut butter cookie covered in chocolate??).  I found the recipe for Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches on one of my favorite recipe websites - Texanerin Baking.  She's got great recipes, so make sure to check her out!


Up front I'll go ahead and toss out the fact that my sister loved these and said they didn't taste "healthy" or "gluten free" at all.  Without further ado, here's my barely adjusted version of Erin's recipe.

Ingredients:
For cookies...
1 1/4 cup crunchy unsalted almond butter, very well-stirred so it's not too oily coming out of the jar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted

For filling...
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions:
1. Mix all the cookie ingredients, except for melted chocolate, in a large bowl.

2. Once combined, add melted chocolate and stir until well mixed.

3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour - this will keep your dough from seeming too oily and sticky to work with.

4. While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and prepare the filling.

5. Mix the filling ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.  You can place this in the refrigerator too, just make sure to remove it a while before you place it between the cookies because it does harden a good bit.


6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll your refrigerated dough into small balls, about 3/4" in diameter, and place them 1 1/2" apart.


7. Bake for 4-6 minutes.  4 minutes for fudge-y cookies and 6 minutes for a less doughy cookie.  (Both versions tasted great to me.)  Then remove cookies from oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet.

 (4 min fudge-y batch)

(6 min less doughy batch)

8. Once the cookies are cool, make the sandwiches by placing a small amount of filling between two cookies then press them gently together.  Then serve and enjoy!


These didn't last a night in our house (with guests) but Erin says they can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.  I dare you!!

(FYI - There are far prettier pictures and more recipe details on Erin's Texanerin Baking blog.)

Apr 3, 2014

Wood Paneling Gone Right?

Never thought I'd say it, but golly-gee-wow this Austin, TX house that I spotted on Houzz the other day has some beautiful wood paneling!


The paneling is "shiplap" to be exact.  Somehow, when compared to dated wood paneling, turning the boards horizontally and painting them a fresh and modern white makes them sing.



This stained shiplap that creates a feature wall in the kitchen is original to the bungalow.  Oh how wonderful to tear down walls and see that staring you in the face! (that is, if you have wonderful vision like the Clayton&Little Architects and homeowners did...)


Isn't it a gorgeous home?  I'm ready to move in with all that natural light, those character-filled archways, and that jaw-dropping cool kitchen!  You can see more pictures of the beautiful abode {here}.  It's got some amazing features throughout, so do check it out.

What do you think of this sort of wood paneling?  Wood you do it?!? (ha, couldn't help but throw that pun in there...)

Apr 1, 2014

Paper Flag Garland

This week I've been getting ready to host a baby shower for my sweet friend, Melissa.  I was able to check one item off the shower prep to-do list today - a Paper Flag Garland that will provide some color for the shower and then look pretty darn cute in the nursery too!


This project is quite easy, doesn't take too much time, and can be made in all sorts of fun shapes (think circles, triangles, rectangles, etc.)!  Here's how to do it...

Materials:
Paper or card stock in a variety of colors/patterns
Ruler
Pencil
Scissors
Thread
Sewing Machine

Instructions:
1. To prepare your paper for a garland with little flag shapes, cut your paper into 3"x3" squares.  If you use scrapbook paper (as I did here), simply measure out the paper into 16 squares.  Use a ruler and pencil to mark lines on the paper, then cut them out.


2. Fold each square into a triangle along the diagonal.


(if you use a thicker card stock, cut the triangle instead of folding the triangle from the square)


3. Snip off one corner about an inch in from the point...


4. Then the other corner about an inch in from the other point.


5. Use this flag as a guide to cut the others - much easier than eye-balling each one.


6. Repeat until you have stacks of little flag shapes in all your colors/patterns.


7. At this point, you can lay them out in a specific pattern (or you can wing it and not stick to a pattern...either looks cute).


8. Now sew them together along the top flat edge, leaving about a 1/4" clearance from the edge.  I left about a 1/4" to 1/2" between each flag.


There you have it!  In no time you'll have an adorable handmade paper flag banner to hang and enjoy.



If you like this paper flag garland, be sure to check out our triangle confetti garlands {here} and {here}.  And, if you'd like your own custom garland, I'd be happy to make one for you.  Email me at inspiredwhims@gmail.com for more info.  Have a happy week!

Mar 28, 2014

Happy Easter Printable + Pastels

The other day I got down to business during art time with my toddler and decided to share the results with you, just in case you wanted to join us and have a Happy Easter print for your fridge!

I'm totally teasing, it's no masterpiece but it's a little bit cute and reminds us to celebrate the joy of Easter all the same:


To print: just right click, save to your desktop, and print.  Or, if you'd like me to send you the high resolution jpeg, just shoot me an email (inspiredwhims@gmail.com) and I'll send it to you asap.

Hope you enjoy!  Easter is late this year, so you'll get to keep it up for a couple weeks.  He is risen indeed!

Now, on to pastels.  It's sort of funny...I'm not a pastel-loving girl at all.  Except, for during Eastertime.  Not certain why that is.  Perhaps a saturated color addict like me still needs to ease into color again after a long white winter.

Here are a few pretty pastels that I've pinned on Pinterest.  After all, even pastels deserve a little love now and again!












From these inspiration photos, my favorite pastels are the mini pink fridge, the bouquet of flowers, and the light yellow medallions in that last room!  How about you?  Do you like pastels?  Which pastel colors are you most drawn too??
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