Friday, October 20, 2017

Lovin' Lately



I can't believe how long it has been since I did my last Lovin' Lately post!  I had originally intended to do a post like this about once a month....but that obviously didn't happen!  Well, let's make up for it shall we?  
 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Halloween Home Tour 2017

It's that time again...time to break out all of the skeletons and ghouls and that beautiful black and orange decor!  ha!  While I'm not particularly a fan of black and orange, I do love Halloween.  My boys are taking after me because I was not super motivated to go through all of the tubs and get the decorations out this year, but they insisted...so we did it, and I am happy that they pushed me to do it.  They have fun remembering things from last year and playing with the battery operated spooky things.  I know a lot of people don't bother with Halloween, they just skip straight to fall/Thanksgiving decor.  But, we usually try to put some Halloween things out, so I'll give you a tour of what we have up this year.

Our mantel 


Kitchen table

I like to put out pictures of past Halloweens!  It's fun to look back on what the kids were each year.



Halloween up on top and fall down below ;)  This is the table I painted on my Instagram stories a few months ago.  I love how it turned out!  It was previously a dark wood, so this robin egg blue really helped brighten the space!

And, here's a little fall preview.  I got these velvet pumpkins a few years ago after Thanksgiving when Hobby Lobby had their stuff marked down.  Mine have fake stems, but I have seen a DIY version where people used real pumpkin stems that were dried out.  They would be pretty simple to make!

And that's pretty much it.  Some years we decorate more than others.  I tried to keep the decorations more centralized this year instead of stringing stuff throughout the entire house.  This way we feel like we are in the Halloween spirit without being overwhelmed with stuff.  And, it's less to put away at the end of the month!  #bonus  Happy Halloween!

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Friday, October 13, 2017

Instant Pot Applesauce

It's apple season!  Incase you haven't already noticed.  Apples are abundant everywhere, which also makes them delicious and cheap!  We have made the rounds, frequenting several of the local apple orchards around town, picking up apples at each one.  They just taste SO much better than the apples you can buy at the grocery stores.  So sweet, and juicy!  It's like a totally different food.  When apples are plentiful, we like to make homemade applesauce!   My boys love to eat applesauce, so it's a frequent snack and side dish around here.
Homemade applesauce is made easy in the Instant Pot!  midwesternmama.com

Making it on your own is extremely easy, and the best part about it is you can adjust the ingredients to exactly how your family likes your sauce!  Want it loaded with cinnamon?  Want it a little on the tart side?  Do you prefer a chunky consistency?  You can tailor this basic recipe and find your favorite.

My friend, Katie, gave me an awesome tip...she said she buys the slightly imperfect apples from the orchards to make her applesauce.  They will sell them to you for a highly discounted price, so you can get loads of apples for not a lot of cash!  Genius I tell ya.  I tried that this go round, and honestly, the "imperfect" apples I got were barely even bruised!  They were in great condition, and tasted amazing.

Homemade applesauce is made easy in the Instant Pot!  midwesternmama.com

I love using this apple peeler any time I make things that require slicing apples.  We even use it for snacking on apples because eating apples in spiral shapes is just more fun!  If you don't have one of these, and don't want another kitchen gadget, you can definitely just slice the apples the old fashioned way, but I don't think you would regret pulling the trigger on one of these gizmos.  They are super handy to have around!

Homemade applesauce is made easy in the Instant Pot!  midwesternmama.com

I am sure some people have a strong preference on which variety of apples make the best sauce.  Personally, I am not that picky.  I do prefer a sweeter sauce, so I don't use Granny Smith, but other than that, I just use whatever apples are available, sometimes even mixing and matching varieties.  This particular time I used Golden Delicious.  I asked the lady at the orchard and she recommended them, so I took her word for it!

Homemade applesauce is made easy in the Instant Pot!  midwesternmama.com

Speaking of kitchen gadgets, I am using my Instant Pot for this recipe.  If you don't already have an Instant Pot, I don't know how you function.  Honestly.  It's been such a fabulous device and I can't remember what I did without it!  You can of course cook the apples the old fashioned way, but that will take you a really long time, and you might set off a tantrum from one of your famished kids who are so hungry they could eat their own arms.  To avoid any expensive emergency room bills, you should really just invest in the Instant Pot.  You won't be sorry!

Homemade applesauce is made easy in the Instant Pot!  midwesternmama.com

Ingredients:
8-10 medium size apples (about 3 pounds), peeled and sliced
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
honey to taste (optional)

Instructions:
Place peeled/sliced apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, and salt in the Instant Pot.  Cover and turn the dial to "seal".  Choose the manual mode for 5 minutes.  The apple peeler makes fairly thin slices, so if you are slicing your own apples, you may need to add a couple of extra minutes to the cook time.  Once it is finished cooking, let the pressure release naturally.  This should take about 15 minutes.  With an immersion blender, blend the apples until they are the desired consistency.  You could also use a potato masher, for a chunkier consistency.  I have also put them into a blender and had great results.  So many options, but I have found the immersion blender to be the easiest...one less pot to clean!  Taste and add honey or additional spices if desired.

Homemade applesauce is made easy in the Instant Pot!  midwesternmama.com

Keep applesauce sealed in the refrigerator and it should keep for about a week or two.

So, now the big question...do you favor your applesauce hot or cold?

Print Recipe HERE

Homemade applesauce is made easy in the Instant Pot!  midwesternmama.com

Homemade applesauce is made easy in the Instant Pot!  midwesternmama.com





 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Friday, October 6, 2017

H&M Try on Session

Hey there guys!  Where in the heck did the week go?  It's so strange how some weeks seem to draaaaaag on and on and then other weeks go POOF and are gone in the blink of an eye!  I have been meaning to get this post up for over a week now, but things have just been busy around here... I'm sure you know the feeling.  Halloween is coming up, and I am getting excited!  I love Halloween and I usually end up making costumes for one or both of my boys...so it's fun, but also pretty busy.  Then, we've had after school activities, sports, school projects, and fundraisers to cram into our already tight schedule!  I need a couple of extra hours in the day.


Back to the point of this post...I had to return some things at H&M last week, so I took the opportunity to try a few things on while I was there.  I feel like it's hit or miss with H&M, and their sizing is off sometimes...so I always prefer to try things on in person vs ordering online whenever possible.  They had some really cute things out for fall, so I wanted to share what I found with you guys and give you the scoop on sizing, etc. The lighting in the dressing room was awful, so just do your best to imagine them in good lighting ;)  Oh, and if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the post, I will link all of the items I was able to find online for you!


Y'all know my love for this orange color this fall!  I just had to try this cut little sweater on!  It would be great for layering over a chambray shirt or a long sleeve striped tee.  A little stripey peek a boo from the sleeves and the bottom would be so cute!  I tried on an xs and it was plenty roomy, so depending on how oversized you want it to fit, I would either go with your normal size, or even size down.


I loved this stripe top with the ruffle detail on the sleeves!  It was super comfy and is basically just a dressed up t-shirt!  It also came in blue and red.  I'm wearing a small.


Hunter green is a super popular color this season and is actually a really great neutral!  I loved this oversized sweater.  It had a turtleneck, but wasn't too tight around my neck.  Now, unfortunately I couldn't find it online, which is really freaking annoying H&M!  Come on!  I debated if I should post it, but I decided to incase they do end up putting it online in the near future (fingers crossed!)

Another green option is this loose-knit sweater.  I own this in a medium and I love it.  It's not a cozy warm sweater, but a great transitional piece and also really great for layering!  The medium is pretty slouchy on me, and allows me to wear it off the shoulder, but if you want it to fit more tailored, I would order true to size.


I thought this distressed shirt was fun!  They didn't have a small in store, so I tried on an xs and while it fit, I would have preferred a small to give me more room and maybe come down further in the back.


This pretty little lace top caught my eye, and while short sleeve season is almost behind us, this is the kind of layering piece you can wear for multiple seasons.  Throw it on under a blazer or cardigan for fall, and then you can wear it alone in the spring and summer to show off that pretty lace detail!  It came in blush pink, ivory, and black.  And, it also comes in maternity sizes!  I am wearing a 6, which is true to size.


This was just a classic black cardigan, but I liked the ribbed texture and it was a great length!  It would be perfect to pair with the lace top I just mentioned!  I tried on the xs/s, and it was plenty roomy, so order true to size or possibly size down if you are between sizes.


These pink shoes were SO cute!  They fit true to size and are pretty comfy!  I have been stalking them online, but I can't seem to find the pink color.  I linked the similar black ones, but hopefully they will post the pink option soon!


Can you tell I was into the pink accessories?  The tennis shoes were super cute on!  They were also true to size.

Also, I didn't get a picture of these while I had them on, but I wanted to try these $10 jeans!  They didn't have my size in the store, so I ordered them online.  I actually had to size up 2 times because they were super tight.  I'll let you know what I think about them after I have a chance to wear them a few times.  I have high hopes...but they are only $10, so who knows.

Annnnnnnnd, that's a wrap!  I hope that was somewhat helpful if you have been eyeing any of those things but weren't sure what size to get!  We are off to some fall festivals this weekend, and I think I am going to wear my green loose knit sweater because the weather is a little on the warm side.  I hope you all have a great weekend!

You can SHOP THE LOOKS below!



**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  If you click on them, I may receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay, but it does help me maintain my blog.  Thank you for your support!
 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Thursday, September 28, 2017

DIY Topiary

I have been following Cotton Stem on Instagram for a while and she has some really cute, but easily duplicatable,  ideas on home decor.  One of the things I immediately loved were her DIY topiaries!  They were so cute, brightened up the space with the light green stems, and just seemed so whimsical.  So, being the crafty person that I am, I immediately went to Hobby Lobby and proceeded to attempt my own topiaries.  Here are her original directions for reference.


 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Camping in Comfort

Hey friends!  I hope you all had a great weekend!  We went camping with the family this past weekend and it was a lot of fun.  That’s one perk of living on a large chunk of land…you can decide to camp at a moments notice, when the weather is nice and you have supplies to make s’mores!



I am admittedly not the most outdoorsy person.  I do enjoy outdoor activities, but roughing it is not exactly my cup of tea.  However, the boys LOVE camping, and I LOVE to be with them, so I wasn’t going to miss out on seeing them have a blast out there in the woods.  And, because this experience wasn’t nearly as bad as I was anticipating, I wanted to share some of the things that made this camping trip fun!

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Friday, September 22, 2017

Loft Try On Sesh 40% off!

Hey there!  I talked about this yesterday on Instagram, but here are all of the pics from my Loft try on session. As much as I love to look at the models, sometimes I feel like it helps me to see clothes on real bodies.  So, here ya go!  There are so many cute things.


If you have Loft Cash, the sales person told me that they have extended the expiration date to 9/24 AND they are allowing you to use the Loft Cash WITH the 40% off!  You can get some amazing deals right now!

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chase's 8th Birthday: Minecraft


For years people have been telling me that Chase would LOVE Minecraft.  And for years I had no idea what in the heck Minecraft was.  This past summer, we ended up getting a kindle prior to a long road trip, and I figured I might as well download this so-called amazing app for him.  Well...that was the start of an extremely intense love affair between Chase and Minecraft!  To say this boy is obsessed would be an understatement.  So, there was really no better theme for his party this year!

We usually do the boys' birthday parties at home, but this year Chase wanted to have his party at a local indoor waterpark.  So, we grabbed our swimming suits and broke tradition.  You may be thinking I was super upset having to give up control of his party planning, but it really was fine.  It was actually great!  I do enjoy planning their birthday parties, but I was still able to incorporate some of the crafty party things I enjoy doing with this party...and the best part was that it wasn't at my house, so the cleanup was minimal!  #canigetanamen

Because it wasn't at my house, I didn't go crazy with Pinterest-worthy Minecraft party ideas, but I did try to make it special for Chase, and he was happy with how it turned out.  And that's all that matters!

This is US before the party!

It's been tradition that I try to make a shirt for the birthday boy to correspond with the theme of the party.  This year's shirt was probably the easiest yet!  Chase is wearing his shirt in the picture above.   Green shirt, black paint, done!  Click HERE for instructions on how I make the custom shirts and to see shirts from years past.  

Party tablescape:








Our kids ask for this party punch at every single birthday.  The color changes to correspond with the theme, but it's always a must at our parties!  To get the recipe for the punch, click HERE.

PS: I forgot to bring the sugar with me to the water park, and you know what?  The punch was just as good without it!  It was plenty sweet with the sprite and lemonade concentrate, so if you want to skip the sugar, go for it!  Lord knows the kids get enough of it anyway!

Party food!  We served just a few little munchies for the kids.
Bricks: watermelon
Torches: Cheetos
Creeper Eggs: green grapes

Twizzlers cut in half and then wrapped with TNT papers.
I purchased this set of Minecraft place cards and tags, which I used for the food labels and thank you notes. 

Chase requests the same round chocolate cake every year for his birthday.  A Costco recently opened close to our house, and I had been hearing a lot of great things about their All American Chocolate Cake.  I talked it over with Chase, and he decided he wanted to try it...so that meant I was off the hook!  It came with some fancy icing on the top, which I smoothed out by using a butter knife dipped in warm water.  I also had to pick some of the chocolate shavings off of the sides so the fondant squares would stick.  But, considering I didn't have to make a cake from scratch, it was easy peasy!


Ok, for the squares, I purchased two shades of green fondant from Hobby Lobby.  I rolled them out on a sheet of wax paper with a rolling pin and then used a cookie cutter (also purchased from Hobby Lobby) to make the squares.  I wrapped them in wax paper, stored them in a baggie, and then refrigerated them until I was ready to apply them to the cake.

When it was time to put them on the cake, I used a butter knife with a small amount of warm water to barely moisten the chocolate frosting, then stuck the fondant squares on.  They stayed put overnight and also the entire time we were in the extremely humid indoor water park!


Party favors:  I ordered test tubes and filled them with coordinating colors of M&M's.  After finding some free clip art for creeper faces and flames, I had them printed and then taped them to the tubes.  The white box is filled with floral foam and then covered with black beans.

Sorting M&M's was a fun activity for the boys! 


The birthday boy having some fun!

His invitation was purchased from etsy

And that's EIGHT!  Happy Birthday to my sweet baby, who's not a baby anymore!  I can't wait to see what this year brings for you.  Kiss kiss

Related Posts:
Chase's 1st Birthday: Cowboys
Chase's 2nd birthday: Cord party
Chase's 3rd birthday: Bugs
Chase's 4th birthday: Fireman
Chase's 5th birthday: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Chase's 6th birthday: Radioactive
Chase's 7th birthday: Mad Scientist

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  Clicking on them may result in a small commission to me.  This does not affect the price you pay, but does help me maintain my blog, so thank you!




 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Friday, September 15, 2017

Crazy for Camo

Camoflauge is not just for the hunters anymore!  Camo has been a hot trend in fashion for the past couple of years, but it's becoming even more mainstream this season.  You can get anything your little heart desires in a camo print.  I rounded up some of my favorite camouflage finds and down below I will show you a few different ways to style them so you don't look like you just stumbled out of the woods.  ;)


SHOP THESE ITEMS HERE:



Styling camo is actually pretty easy.  It's surprisingly neutral and goes with more than you may originally think!


Stripes and camo are always a win!  I love this longer tunic style tee with the camo vest or jacket over it.  You could front tuck, or tie it in a knot.  Style with some skinny jeans and booties, and you are all set!




The camo jacket can be added to so many different outfits.  I love it with this super cute ruffle hem dress!  Casual but still super cute.


These tunics are one of my favorite things in my closet.  I have several colors and they are so versatile and would look great under a camo vest, leggings, and tall boots.


Camo utility pants are cute with a solid color top (the above tunic would work again...see-so versatile!).  I love the idea of a more feminine top paired with the rugged look of the camouflage pants.  Try a lace blouse, ruffles, or something with embroidery.


A camo dress is super comfy and simple to wear under a denim jacket, or a twill utility jacket.  Even a cozy cardigan would be cute over the top!  Add a fun necklace or a scarf and some booties or sneakers to complete the outfit.

So, what's your opinion on camouflage?  Yay or nay?  I am loving it, although a little goes a long way.  There's only so much camo a girl can wear, so choose your pieces wisely and then have fun experimenting with them to find your own personal style!

You can shop the entire post here:

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay but it does help me maintain my blog!  So, thank you for your support!

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Back to Top