Creamy Queso with a Kick!

Creamy Queso with a Kick!

12 oz evaporated milk (one can)
1/2 pound American cheese, cut into small cubes (you might need to find this behind the deli counter)
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz shredded sharp white cheddar
2 T canned jalapeños (or add more to give it a little extra kick!)
1/2 t chili powder (if you want it a bit smokier, add in chipotle chili powder instead)
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
Sliced jalapeño & fresh cilantro for garnish

1. Slowly heat evaporated milk over low/medium heat in a medium sauce pan.
2. Once milk is simmering, reduce heat to low, being careful not to let the milk boil or burn.
3. Whisk continually while adding in the cheese a little bit at a time, allowing it to melt before adding more.
4. Once the cheese is completely melted, add in spices and jalapeños 

Then top with sliced jalapeños, cilantro, and a salsa of your choosing!!


Thoughts for the New Year

When you go through really tough stuff, loss, extreme sadness or grief, you feel like the pain is never going to stop. You can’t imagine a day where it won’t hurt.

But then... after what seems like forever, you start to forget a little bit how raw and hard it all felt. Either because something else has finally filled that void up, or because time, and day to day life have happened and numbed some of it out.

I think that’s “Time’s job”.
To help soften the pain of the past, and also to remind you that today is all you may have, and to REALLY cherish it.

I remember feeling so inadequate as a young mother.
Overwhelmed, isolated, tired, sometimes empty and yet still happy at the same time.
Now as a newly single Momma of pre-teens, I feel even more scared and unsure - but find that my “emotional happiness cup of motherhood” is overflowing in this season of my life. It’s filled to the top and bursting at the seams.

I tap into that feeling over and over again when I am struggling with the anger of my divorce or the debilitating fear of not knowing what my future will bring, now that I’m on my own.
I don’t think the irony of these two polar opposite feelings crossing paths at the same time in this moment of my life... actually has anything to do with irony at all.
I truly believe that God has a plan for each of us, and that he wants us to be REALLY happy - even when ESPECIALLY when times feel impossible, hopeless or too hard.

I don’t KNOW much of anything (especially about God or religion) - I’ll admit that. But I DO know THIS with every fiber of my being, because I feel it to my core... God wants us to win.
He wants us to find happiness through life’s sometimes uncontrollable circumstances and outcomes.
He wants us to WANT help, so he can give it - but sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom (emotionally, spiritually, physically or mentally) to finally call on him for comfort.

I don’t think I’ve prayed harder in my entire life, than I have this last month.
For people I don’t even know, for members of my social media family here, everyday life friends, for my own family, for myself... and the list goes on.

My heart has been hurt and mended more than a few times in my 36 years here on earth... but after my separation, I honestly never thought I would be able to pick up the catastrophic mess that was left around me.

...turns out, I was wrong.

And over the last couple years, the more I step back and look in at it... I think I’ve decided that that’s what life is totally all about.
Seeing what we do with the pieces of our heart and life, that break and scatter.
Figuring out how to rearrange the mess, into something... ANYTHING that makes us feel remotely whole again.
There’s no time limit on that kind of work.
And I want to tell you (and maybe this is more for just myself) that IT’S OKAY to take it slow.
Don’t let anyone rush you, especially yourself.
Bottling and burying only work for so long before you can’t dig any deeper or push things down any further.
If new resolutions are being made tonight, simply to cover up others that are still lingering and begging for attention... I say look inward and try again.
Not because you failed, but because you refuse to stop fighting for yourself.
You’re stronger than you think.
You deserve more peace.
Life’s momentary circumstances don’t define you.
Give yourself some grace.
You’re doing SO good.
You ARE enough.
And there’s no rush.
Life really IS about the journey - and sometimes you just need to stop and FEEL it all, to properly start to HEAL it all.
Happy New Year you guys - it’s gonna be a good one.💗


Tween Girl Gift Guide

You asked, so I delivered - The Ultimate Tween Girl Gift Guide! 
I know that not all tween girls are going to be into the same stuff, so I tried adding lots of different kinds of things that my kids already have, want for Christmas or that their friends love!
Hopefully you can get some good ideas off of the things I have listed here, and snag some great gifts for the tween girl in your life. Happy Shopping!

1. BFF Q&A's; A Journal - This is SO cute! Perfect for sisters or best friends! There are questions on each page with cues to draw or write back to each other with your thoughts and feelings.
2. Colorful Super Soft Fluffy Slime - My girls are STILL obsessed with slime, so this seemed perfectly appropriate! Lots of colors and 
3. Jumbo Panda Squishy Toy - I'll be honest, I don't get it. That being said, Aubrielle is OBSESSED with them. These squishy little toys are all the rage, and she can't get enough of them. This time she specifically asked for a panda. lol. (shrug)
4. Animal Cable Bites - My girls asked for these a few months ago. I had NO idea what they were talking about. I finally found them a few and they're pretty dang cute. Plus they help keep their phone cords from bending and then fraying over time. Cute stocking stuffer eh?
5. Bopit Handheld Game - The girls play this with their cousins for HOURS when at my Mom and Dad's house. It's hilarious to watch them try to beat each other on leveling up. Plus it's an interactive game, which I love!
6. Clear Jewelry Holder - Matches any room decor and holds up to 30 necklaces/bracelets, plus it has a little tray for earrings and rings!
7. Sound Activated Disco Ball Party Light Pack - These are just freakin' fun! The remote makes changing the lighting effects easy, and you'll be surprised with how much effect these two little lights give off in a large space. Awesome for dance parties, birthdays, etc!
8. Vegan, Essential Oil, Natural, Fizzy Bath Bombs - organic, luxury bath bombs with shea and cocoa butter to help soften your skin. These are also great, because they don't leave gross residue in the tub afterwards.
9. Hey Girl Hey Mini Dish - Our signature saying on a cute ceramic dish! Great for jewelry or a drop zone for spare change.
10. Five Crowns Score Sheet Book - Must-have partner for the Five Crowns card game that I promise your kids are going to fall in love with!
11. Five Crowns Card Game - A super easy to learn, rummy style-type card game for ages 8+. It's really addicting and fun to play! 
12. Ultimate Slime DIY Recipe Book - If your kids are into the slime tutorials so they can make their own?... this book is awesome!
13. Galaxy Putty Slime - Just some cool lookin' slime that will be perfect inside stockings this year!
14. Pura Vida Bracelets - Waterproof, colorful and can be sized to fit any wrist. There are TONS of options to choose from!
15. Dohm Sound Machine - We have one in each of our rooms. They're the best, most soothing sound machines. They drown out everything and don't collect dust like a fan would. If you have a baby or toddler, this is also the magical machine that will keep them sleeping longer, PROMISE!
16. DOSS Touch Wireless Bluetooth V4.0 Portable Speaker - The perfect wireless, portable speaker with over 10,000 reviews on Amazon and an almost 5-star rating! Great for setting in the bathroom while getting ready each morning! 
17. Bathpack Detangling Brush (Use code "houseofsmiths" for free shipping over $10) - The best $5 you'll ever spend on your hair. It's bristles are longer and closer together than a Wet Brush, and the bottom plastic cushion doesn't collapse as easily - which means it's great for thick hair too!    
18. Chameleon Deluxe Marker Set - The twins asked for this as part of their "big present" this year. They're both REALLY into drawing and coloring, and they've seen these Chameleon markers everywhere and are dying to get their hands on them. 
19. Brooklyn & Bailey Scrunchies (Use code "HOS10" for 10% off!)- In their hair, on their wrists... scrunchies are the old school, hot, new trend for tweens. We have every color, and they're a MUST HAVE accessory for my girlies! These scrunchies also come apart so you can choose to wear them plain or with the cute little bunny ear bow feature!
20. Brooklyn & Bailey Girl Next Door Mascara (Use code "HOS10" for 10% off!)- My girls swear by this mascara. They LOVE it, and it definitely lengthens their natural lash! Plus it lasts quite a while before I have to buy more.