Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Soup with Maple Bacon

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Soup with Maple Bacon

sweet potato soup
Photo Credit: Real Food & Ice Cream

Fall is coming… I repeat, FALL IS COMING!  Soup is one of my favorite things to make because it’s easy, filling, and makes great leftovers.  When the autumn air starts rolling in this recipe is a must have.  I found this recipe over at Real Food & Ice Cream.  Check out the original recipe here!  I made a few changes to the original to make things a little quicker and easier on a weeknight.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped (I use frozen diced onion to speed up the process a bit and… NO CHOPPING!)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

Directions

  1. Since bacon will be served with this soup, make bacon prior to serving by pan frying or microwaving the desired amount of bacon.
  2. Put the sweet potatoes, onion, chicken broth, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in the slow-cooker. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, until the sweet potatoes are soft.
  3. Add the milk to the slow-cooker and puree until smooth using an immersion blender, set aside on warm. Alternatively, blend in batches in a blender.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls (about 1-1/2 cups each) and top with maple syrup and crumbled bacon.

 

An Ode to the Automobile: A Mom’s Permanent Residence and Sanctuary

An Ode to the Automobile: A Mom’s Permanent Residence and Sanctuary

As a kid my mom drove me EVERYWHERE.  And, sometimes nowhere… we liked music and if a good song was on (i.e. Sk8r Boi, Bye Bye Bye, anything by Nelly…), why on earth would we pull into the driveway to interrupt it???  Until now I never realized how many hours my mom probably spent chauffeuring us around as kids.

As my oldest has been in preschool a little over a year now I feel like all I do is haul tiny tushes somewhere.  He’s four.  Why do I feel like I’m running around like a crazy person when he’s only four?!  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to take him to and from preschool, to grandma’s while I work, to soccer, to tee ball, to church activities, but dang.  Four.  Years.  Old.  What will this be like when he’s… I don’t know 14?

I dropped him off at preschool one day, pulled into our driveway and into our garage, and sat there for a moment in the silence (other than the sound of raspberries our youngest had been blowing continually the entire way home) and looked around my car.  I had a real life smell the roses moment.

I realized how much rushing I do every day.  I rush to get our youngest up and fed, rush to get them both dressed and ready, rush to get our oldest to school or to my parents’ house while I’m at work, rush to a sport, rush to church, or rush to wherever we happen to be going, but what do I do while we’re IN the car?  I remember having conversations with my parents in the car, listening to music, and sometimes just driving around just because.  I take the little things for granted most of the time like actually being able to afford a car to rush around in.  My car is dirty, dusty, has more Cheerios crushed on the floor and stored in the booster seat than I can count, has extra diapers, wipes, and formula stored in front of the carseat, a giant stroller taking up the whole cargo space, lawn chairs for soccer or tee ball taking up the remaining space of the cargo, a soccer ball, some snacks in the seat back, and more than likely a Starbucks straw wrapper or two somewhere in the front.

I looked around at the dust, clutter, and the sweet little baby in the back seat and thought to myself about how lucky I really am.  We have a car.  We have extra diapers, formula, and wipes to keep in the car.  We have a stroller and chairs to clutter up the cargo area.  Heck, we have a cargo area.  We live in a community where we can safely take our child to play soccer and tee ball and to an amazing, loving church.

In my messy, dusty car I realized how little I thank God for the simple things and look around and soak it all in.  Sometimes it’s great to appreciate the fact that we have things to be messy or days to be hectic.  So moms, enjoy your messy car sanctuary.  It’s proof that you drive your kids to and from activities they love, to and from families that love them, and to and from making memories together-even if it’s messy and chaotic.  Rock that messy car, momma.  It shows you love your family and spend time with them.  Time goes too fast-embrace it.

By the way… the day after I wrote this my husband cleaned out the ENTIRE car.  How’d he know?!  I must’ve been sending out dirty car vibes 😉

Free Bathroom Printables!

Free Bathroom Printables!

A newly remodeled bathroom calls for new wall art.  So, naturally I headed on over to Pinterest for some inspiration.  I found the quirkiest sayings in a great vintage font-perfect!  I went with these two, but there were so many cute ones to choose from!

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I found all of these adorable printables from The Mountain View Cottage.  I chose these two and printed them in a dark grey color to compliment the grey in the vintage frames.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Check out the rest of The Mountain View Cottage for more awesome printables!

Newborn Shadowbox DIY

Newborn Shadowbox DIY

Every newborn has the adorable little hospital hat, their tiny little footprints, tiny little hospital bracelets, and the ever popular hospital newborn photos.  I always want to save every memory, but feel horrible shoving them in a box never to be seen.  Well, of course Pinterest had a solution for that.  I saw several versions of newborn shadowboxes, but most of them looked fairly large, bulky, and contained A LOT of newborn memories.  I wanted something to simply hold a tiny newborn hat (my boys both had two for some reason…), their hospital bracelets, and their little footprints.  One thing I noticed that I loved was some posts on Pinterest contained little framed newborn photos.  So cute!  I attempted my own, so here they are!

I used 8″x8″ shadowboxes, scrapbook paper for a background, 2″x2″ frames for the tiny newborn photos, and tiny clothespins to hold their hats and hospital bracelets.  It took me no longer than 5 minutes to make each of them, but now we get to enjoy their hospital keepsakes.

While I’m at it, I have to give a shout out to my friend Nancy for her awesome cross-stitch that makes an appearance in this one.  She does AMAZING work-thanks for such a great memory from my office baby shower, Nancy!

The Louis Vuitton Pipe Dream: A Posh Authenticate Review

The Louis Vuitton Pipe Dream: A Posh Authenticate Review

You guys.  I have looked at every LV bag that has ever made an appearance on Poshmark. For weeks.  I have wanted a Louis Vuitton bag for as long as I can remember and I was OBSESSED.  So. Many.  Great.  Bags.  As I looked through all of the listings I dreamed of having one and the ones that stood out the most to me were the 90s Alma bags.  This is how I remember Louis Vuitton growing up.  Classic little structured bags with great leather details in a convenient size that can be carried daintily in the crook of your arm.  But we’re talking hundreds of dollars for TWENTY YEAR OLD BAGS.  Come again?

I also love the LV Neverfull.  A classic tote that you can carry… well, anything in.  Downside to the Neverfull?  They go for nearly $800 in a fairly close to destroyed state.  Yeah… not happening.  Practically speaking Neverfulls are usually beat to heck because of their thin leather straps.  I don’t have a great experience with thin leather straps-they are used, abused, and destroyed.

So, back to the Alma.  I watched, waited, watched some more, researched, and oohed and ahed at every new Alma that was listed.  Most of the ones that were in a price range I was willing to pay were nearly destroyed.  Until one came along that was a little out of my price range, but the listing title began with “Last Call”.  Hmmmm… could this one be obtainable?  Surely it has a giant stain, doesn’t come with its lock and key, or isn’t authentic… right?

Wrong.  It was in amazing condition, the LV date code checked out (see my post about LV date codes!), there was no staining, no wear other than slight rubbing on the corners of the bag, the vachetta leather handles were in amazing condition, the canvas looked like new, and the inside was spotless.  It even had its lock and one key.  My wallet had hoped otherwise, but this bag was 21 years old and looked like it was made last year.  Ugggghhhhhh.  I asked the seller a few questions and after answering my (probably insanely annoying) questions, she posted her phone number and said to feel free to text or call her about the bag.

I looked at the phone number and recognized the area code.  This bag was located somewhere in my state.  Holla.  So, I did what any creeper would do and sent her a text with a few questions about the bag and asked if she was located in my state.  It’s a Louis Vuitton, guys… I had to.  It turned out that she was located a few hours north of me and is from my state.  Score!  She gave me her bottom price and details of the bag.

You can’t mess with serendipity.  It’s bad ju-ju, guys, so I had to buy the bag.

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The bag is absolutely amazing.  It is in what I would consider immaculate condition-age not even being considered.  There are no scratches, no wear other than minor rubbing on some corners, the vachetta is in amazing condition with no watermarks, staining, or scratches, and the brass is even in great condition for the age of the bag.  The handles look like they’ve never even been used other than the natural honey patina with no signs of wear or rubbing.  Sorry you can’t see the handles-I immediately wrapped those suckers as soon as the bag arrived… sweaty hands have no mercy on LV leather.

Alright… enough about my dream bag… on to the real reason for this post: Posh AuthenticatePoshmark offers a service to authenticate luxury items purchased for a certain amount and offers free shipping on these items.  Once an offer is accepted for a luxury item the seller ships the item to Poshmark for authentication by a luxury expert.  The authenticity of your item is guaranteed once authenticated, packaged, and shipped to you free of charge.  It’s a pretty streamlined process that didn’t add a lot of extra shipping time and I was happy to receive a professionally authenticated item.  The bag was packaged with care and a card of authenticity with the expert’s name was included in the box.

If you’re considering buying a luxury item on Poshmark I highly recommend it!  The process was simple (no action on your part!) and the program seems to be streamlined and professional.  You receive an authentic item at no extra cost to you with free shipping.  Cherry on the top 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

No details needed for this on.  Yum.  Just yum.  I found this recipe from A ‘lil Country Sugar-check out the original recipe here!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Ranch dressing (I like to use Buttermilk Ranch, but traditional Ranch and Blue Cheese work well!)
  • 1/2 cup Buffalo sauce (I love Sweet Baby Ray’s)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2-10 oz cans chicken
  • Tortilla chips, celery, or carrots (for serving)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Mix all ingredients in an oven safe baking dish.
  3. Heat in oven 15-20 minutes or until warmed throughout.
  4. Stir and serve with tortilla chips, celery, or carrots.
Louis Vuitton Date Code Authenticity Guide

Louis Vuitton Date Code Authenticity Guide

Louis Vuitton handbags are beautiful (and expensive!) and some of the most replicated bags out there.  So how do you know your bag is authentic?  Well, there are a few things that are a dead giveaway: stitching color/quality, monogram imperfections, bright red embossing on handles or leather edges (this one is fairly common and oh so easy to spot… pay attention, guys!), and the ever famous date code.  I’ll be talking about date codes and how to spot the real deal in this post.  There are many great sites dedicated to authenticating LV bag authenticity using the date code.  All of the info in this post comes straight from CoutureUSA and their detailed info on date codes in their A Quick Guide to Authentic Louis Vuitton Date Codes.

No Date Code?  May Be an Authentic VINTAGE LV Bag!

Louis Vuitton bags did not have date codes prior to 1982.  This makes it very difficult to authenticate older vintage bag.

Three to Four Digit Date Codes

Three to four digit date codes were used between 1982 to the mid 1980s.  The first two digits indicates the year while the last digit(s) indicate the the month the bag was made.

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Photo Credit: CoutureUSA

This date code represents a bag made in March of 1985.

Three to Four Digits and Two Letters

The mid to late 1980s saw a change in the Louis Vuitton date code to mark the location of factories of manufacturing.  Like the previous date codes, the first two numbers indicate the year and the next one to two numbers indicate the month of manufacturing.  The two letters represent the manufacturing location.

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Photo Credit: CoutureUSA

This date code marks a bag manufactured in April 1987 in France.

There are several factory codes that could be used on Louis Vuitton items for factories located in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, United States of America, and there is also a code for Re-Line Items (DK).

Louis Vuitton Date Code Factory Abbreviations

FactoryCode
Photo Credit: CoutureUSA

Some bags, like my Alma, have the manufacturing location stamped outside the bag as well.  This is a great way to authenticate your bag if your model uses an outer stamp as well.

In this case, the bag was manufactured in France (VI) and the outer stamp matches the manufacturing location in the date code stamp.

Two Letters Followed by Four Digits

The date code changed the numbering system to two letters representing the factory followed by the date between early 1990 and 2006.  The date portion of the code was also rearranged with the first and third number representing the date and second and fourth numbers representing the year.

The date code in my Alma pictured above displays a factory location of France (VI) and a bag manufactured in May 1997.

Two Letters Followed by Four Digits (Revised)

Although the date codes appear in the same format beginning in 2007, the date portion of the system was revised.  The month the item was manufactured changed to the week an item was manufactured, but still appears in the first and third position of the date portion of the date code.

LV2006datecode
Photo Credit: CoutureUSA

This date code displays a bag made in France the 20th week of 2015.

And there you have it! Happy LV Bag shopping 😉