Friday, October 31, 2014

Our Halloween Decorations

Today is Halloween... which is my second favorite holiday of the year (only behind Thanksgiving). When I was a kid, it was undoubtedly my favorite... because candy. And costumes. I just love everything about it.

This year, my husband and I are hosting a Halloween party at our home. We're excited because we never really got to celebrate Halloween together while he was at the Academy because it always fell on a week day... so he couldn't leave base, and I had to teach the following morning.

Well, it's on a Friday this year, and we are STOKED!

That's what we have so far for tonight! I am going to be busy today finishing my costume, making orange jell-o shots, a big punch bowl of orange martini, and setting up the snack area! I can't wait for trick-or-treaters early this evening and for friends to come over after that!

Also, my husband and I have the nerdiest costumes ever... I am going as Miss Frizzle (from the Magic School Bus), and he is going to be Bill Nye the Science Guy! 
  • What are your Halloween plans?
  • Do you like the dress up for Halloween?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oatmeal Pumpkin Cream Pies: A Recipe

Recently, I needed to make a dish to take to a recipe club event, and the theme was "fall favorites". I LOVE everything pumpkin, and I knew this would be the perfect time to make the Oatmeal Pumpkin Cream Pies I had pinned on my Pinterest desserts board. The recipe comes from Sally's Baking Addiction, and it was a big hit. I'm even considering making these again for Thanksgiving when my family visits. 



• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
• 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 large egg
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 2/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
• 1 cup all-purpose flour


• 4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
• 1/4 cup pumpkin purée
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
• 2 - 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (to thicken)
• salt, to taste



1. With a mixer, cream butter and sugars until smooth.
2. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix well.
3. Slowly stir in the baking soda, cinnamon, oats, and flour.
4. Mix together until just combined.
5. Chill the dough for at least one hour in the fridge. 
6. Preheat the oven to 325º. 
7. Roll 2 tsp of dough into a ball, and place on cookie sheet.
8. Bake for 9 minutes. Let cool for one minute before moving to a wire cooling rack. 
*I had to bake mine for about 15 minutes for them to be at the right consistency for me, but that may just be my oven or preference. 


1. With a mixer, mix the cream cheese, butter, pumpkin purée, and spices on medium speed until creamy.
2. Add powdered sugar, and continue mixing.
3. If frosting is not thick enough (mine was definitely NOT thick enough), add flour, a little bit at a time.
4. Add salt to cut the sweetness, if desired.
5. Spread a generous amount of frosting on the bottom of one cookie, and sandwich it with another cookie, until all cookies are gone. 

*Cookies stay fresh for up to five days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

  • What is your favorite "fall" food?
  • Are you on the pumpkin bandwagon this year?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Honeymoon Series: Rome, Italy

Over the summer, my husband and I went on our honeymoon shortly after our wedding. We visited many cool places, and you can read about all of that in this post. I'm going to be chronicling each stop on our amazing trip. Today's post will feature our favorite photos from our first stop: Rome, Italy.

(I will update the links below once all posts have been written and published.)

STOP 1 | STOP 2 | STOP 3 | STOP 4 | STOP 5 | STOP 6 | STOP 7 | STOP 8 | STOP 9

We flew to Rome from a friend's wedding in Pennsylvania with a stop in Toronto for 12 hours in the middle. It was my first international flight, and I was SO nervous. No, it wasn't fun. Yes, I hate flying. No, I didn't sleep despite the flight being overnight. Landing in Rome, however, was SO worth it! We had delicious food, saw so many historical places, and had a really good time.

In all, we spent four days in Rome before moving on to our next destination. It was 100ºF (hot, hot, hot!), but we experienced some amazing sights. I'm so thankful for my husband - he planned our entire honeymoon on his own and did a perfect job!

  • Have you ever been to Rome?
  • What is your favorite thing to do there?

Friday, October 24, 2014

30 Before 30 Update

I made a list when I turned 25 (over two years ago) of things I want to accomplish before I turn 30. I have a little under three years to go. I have achieved some of my goals, but I do still have a long way to go for some. What do you think?

PS - I did mean to post this on or near my 27th birthday. That was over three months ago now... in July. Oops.

completed = green
in progress = yellow
not there yet = red

1. Get Married (accomplished on 05/30/2014)
2. Travel to Europe (We went to Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, France, and Germany on our honeymoon!)
3. Get something published somewhere
4. Take a photography class
5. Finish writing a second novel (will be writing for NaNoWriMo this November!)
6. Skydive
7. Paint walls inside a house
8. Travel to South America
9. Sell *more* items on Etsy (sold 267 as of 10/23/2014)
10. See a movie alone in a theater (saw The Book Thief in Denver on 11/23/13)
11. Have a baby
12. Run a marathon  (completed the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon 26.2 miles on April 27, 2014)
13. Learn how to sew (simple things)
14. Host a Christmas dinner for more than three people
15. Travel to Africa
16. Create a cookbook of my favorite recipes (I am in the middle of putting this together - finally!)
17. Visit 10 states I haven’t been to (working on it: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Alaska, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia)
18. Travel to Australia or New Zealand
19. Start learning German
20. Go out to dinner (at a real restaurant) alone
21. Swim with fish (terrified)
22. Cook dinner for Dan every night for a month - no eating out!
23. Pay for a stranger’s meal
24. Participate in a Bible study with other women
25. Go on (another) hot air balloon flight
26. Ski a “blue” run (accomplished on "Heavenly Daze" at Steamboat Springs on 12/16/13)
27. Adopt a dog - We took in Dan's childhood dog, Smudge, on 10/12/14 and love him to pieces!
28. Travel somewhere alone
29. Teach in a state other than Colorado
30. Live in (at least) three different states (two down: moved from Colorado to Ohio on 07/17/14)

I have accomplished seven tasks, am in the middle of four tasks, and have an overwhelming 19 to get started on! Eek!
  • Do you have a 30 Before 30 list or something similar?
  • What's on your "bucket" list? 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review: A Stolen Life

I currently have several book reviews on my old blog. I want to get rid of completely (since it's been nearly two years since I've used it), but many of my links are still to that blog. To transition completely away, I am going to be re-sharing some of my book reviews here once or twice a week. If you love reading, this is for you! If not... I'm sorry, and I promise to keep the words "book review" in all of the titles so you know!

Today's review will be about A Stolen Life: a Memoir by Jaycee Dugard.

Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped from her street while walking to catch the school bus in South Lake Tahoe, California in June of 1991. Most people have heard of this because they were alive when it happened or became interested when she was found in August of 2009. Her story made headlines for months, and she was interviewed on many television shows about her 18 years of captivity, living alone in a small room in the backyard of her captor's house. 

After adjusting to the real world again, Jaycee decided to share her very personal story with the world in order to get her feelings out and to let everyone know that Phillip Garrido and his wife, Nancy, kidnapped her. Before this, I read the book Room by Emma Donoghue. After finishing it, I searched for it online, and many people made direct comparisons of that book to Dugard's book of her own life. After having read both of them, I agree. I am sure that the premise of Room was built upon Jaycee Dugard's story. If that raises awareness for what happened to her, then so be it. 

A Stolen Life is definitely not the best written book I have ever read. There are grammatical mistakes throughout that would have bugged me had I not realized Jaycee missed most of her academic life. It was candid and REAL, and the things she went through were horrific. I will not rate this book on a star system simply because I feel like that would be rating her experiences, and that feels wrong. I will say this, though: until I read this book, I was sheltered and naive. I knew things like this happened, but I didn't think about them. Not really. But now I am aware, and I will always be watching for other children out there who may have been abducted from their homes. 
  • Did you follow the Jaycee Dugard story?
  • Have you read her book or Room?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blog Makeover: New Name and New Look

You may have noticed by now that my blog has a new name and a new look! I'm very excited to show it off this morning!

I decided a few months ago that I wanted to call my blog Come Fly with Us. It's fitting because my handsome husband is a pilot, so airplanes are everything around here. For the record, he is a civilian pilot right now, but he competed on the Air Force Academy flying team for three and a half years. He will be attending pilot training through the Air Force as soon as he finishes his Master's degree! 

I worked with Kelsey at Kreated by Kelsey for this design. She is the one I bought my previous blog design from as well, and I really liked her! She communicates excellently, so I knew I wanted to go with her again. I found one of her pre-made templates that I really liked, and I asked her for permission to change a few things up on my own... so I made a header, a post signature, a blog button, and an about me graphic to spruce things up just how I wanted them! 

I also updated all of the pages at the top of the blog... so if you're feeling bored or want to learn more about me, feel free to check those out! The "about us" page was a MESS, and the "wedding" page was SO outdated... but they look great (in my opinion) now! 

The next step is buying my own domain. I need to figure out how I want to go about that, and I'm open to suggestions. Who did you purchase through?

While we're at it, please feel free to follow me on the following social media. I've never directly posted mine on here before. I will follow you back!

  • What do you think about my new design?
  • Do you like changing things up once in a while on your blog?
  • Do you make your own designs or pay someone to do it for you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cookie Candy Brownies {Recipe}

A couple years ago, I made a delicious treat to share with my students, and they loved them so much. I posted this recipe on my old blog (that I do NOT use anymore), and I want to transfer everything over to this current platform. 

This recipe sure did go over well with a group of ravenous eighth graders at an after school Halloween party way back in 2012. I have since made them a few more times, and they are ALWAYS a big hit!

For lack of a batter name, I just call them the "Cookie Candy Brownies" because, well, they're made of cookies, candy, and brownies... clever, huh? 

(The full recipe will be posted at the END of this blog post!) 

Basically, you create the bottom with chocolate chip cookie dough, then add a piece of candy, and cover that with brownie batter before baking. It's simple, but it was still time consuming because of all the steps and the amount that I made. If you make just one batch, though, it won't take too long - AND you can always use the rolls of pre-made cookie dough and just cut off enough to fill the bottom of each cupcake liner instead of making your own dough!


1. Make cookie dough. (Directions for MY cookie dough are found below if you want to use that, but feel free to use the pre-made rolls in the refrigerated section of your grocery store - that works well too.)

2. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners. *This step is a MUST because I tried them without liners, and I had to scoop them out with a spoon, and they were AWFUL looking!

3. Smoosh cookie dough as flat as possible into the cupcake liners.

4. Cut Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in half (or whatever candy bar you prefer - the beauty of this recipe is that you can EASILY customize it however you like!)

5. Place one half of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup on top of cookie dough in each cupcake liner.

6. Make brownie batter according to box mix.

7. Pour brownie batter over cookie dough and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. *Make sure you cover the entire thing for best results.

8. Bake for 18-20 minutes on 350º. 

ENJOY! :) 

Cookie Dough Recipe
·       1 cup butter, softened
·       3/4 cup packed brown sugar
·       1/4 cup white sugar
·       1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
·       2 eggs
·       1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·       2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
·       1 teaspoon baking soda
·       2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add pudding mix, eggs and vanilla. Combine flour and baking soda; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips.