December 8, 2014

recipe: nutella hot chocolate

I think my husband is on to something.  He has had some serious cravings for a good glass of hot chocolate (I do too...but I think that chocolate is a constant craving), so I decided to go on the hunt for the PERFECT hot chocolate recipe.  The packets just don't do it for us...so please let me introduce you to the best hot chocolate recipe I have found to date.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

You heard me. Nutella. The hazelnut chocolatey goodness from sweet heaven above.  
As I was scrolling through one of my favorite blogs (A Beautiful Mess), I stumbled upon their recipe for Nutella Hot Chocolate and decided that it was definitely worth spending my evening cooking over the stovetop in my cute little apron. Some may say I was looking like a southern domesticated housewife, others may disagree with that statement. It's almost Christmas...so just use your imagination and pretend with me for a second.

I started using this recipe and determined that it definitely wasn't enough for the two of us, so I doubled it.  Below is the original recipe:

1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup Nutella
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of sea salt
whipped cream

Warm milk on stove-top (don't let it boil, just warm slowly). Once warm, add your Nutella and whisk it in until completely dissolved. Add cinnamon and salt, garnish with LOTS of whipped cream. Enjoy!

A big thank-you goes out to A Beautiful Mess for an awesome recipe that makes for a very happy husband.  I am finally starting to get a hang of this cooking thing. Read about my other successes and failures in the kitchen here.

December 5, 2014

the tale of a 12' christmas tree.

Marriage can be an interesting thing...especially when it comes to the holiday season.  Who goes where, who does what...it can be a hot sticky mess.  Thankfully, our biggest disagreement this season was which type of live Christmas tree was the best. Peyton thought it was a white pine, but I quickly reminded him that a fresh North Carolina Fraser Fir was the ONLY way to go. After all, my friend Olivia has a great choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm that I have visited for the past three years.  It only made sense that we get a Fraser Fir!

So Peyton kindly obliged (with the bribery of endless cheese curds from Ashe County Cheese) and we started our trek up the North Carolina mountains. We saw some snow, stopped at a few local destinations, got the holy cheese curds, then started our way to Olivia's farm.
After chit-chatting, catching up with her family, and wandering around the farms looking for the best tree possible...we finally settled on this beauty.

A 13ft. tall x 9ft wide tree.  (pardon the blurry photo...it was cold. it was getting dark. and oh crap. we forgot the nice camera, let's take some quick pictures on our phone.) After the photograph of the year was taken, we quickly gathered the Twin Pines Nursery crew of five and began cutting this thirty year old tree. The chainsaw went through halfway...then stopped. Dear Lord... help us all. 
So we went to the opposite side and began sawing again. It finally came crashing to the ground and at that point I realized that tree was ours.

We were going to have to take that tree home and put it up in our house. 
Yep. That's what my face looked like the entire four hour ride home. I wanted a tall tree, Peyton wanted a fat tree. We both got what we wanted. We compromised...that's what we are supposed to do in a marriage...right?

At the sacrifice of getting a 12ft North Carolina Fraser Fir Christmas tree...ABSOLUTELY.

I digress. 

After some trimming and sticking the trunk in a washtub full of water until we figured out what we were going to do, we managed to get our tree in the house with just three people. Surprisingly, it stood on it's own and was a sturdy little Christmas tree. We have yet to decorate it with our ornaments, but here it is for now.  Such a sweet little beauty.

P.S. Does anyone else struggle taking great pictures of their Christmas tree?!?

December 1, 2014

travels| the western USA

I was about to recap our Thanksgiving weekend...then I realized that I completely missed writing about our trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. So, let's play a little catch up.

Peyton and I both travel for work, but definitely him more so than I. Every once in a while I get the chance to jump on a plane and travel with him to one of his speaking engagements or SkillsUSA trips.  A couple of weeks ago, Peyton was given the opportunity to speak outside of Las Vegas to a group of SkillsUSA students.  It was one of the first times I have been able to watch him speak, so it made for a great time. We got to cross three states off our list (one of them unintentionally...more on that later).

We arrived a little early to do some sight seeing and one of the major items on our bucket list was a picture in front of this sign.  Earlier this year I traveled to Las Vegas for work and didn't look for or take a picture in front of this sign, just so I could have it with my husband. Thankfully, while the polar vortex was visiting North Carolina...we enjoyed the wonderful warm weather and sunshine that Las Vegas offers.
While we were there, one of his good friends recommended that we go see the Ethel M Cactus Garden Lighting and it ended up being one of the most beautiful things we saw our entire trip. Prior to our visit, we had no idea what Ethel M Chocolate Factory was...but we ended up learning that Ethel M Chocolates are a the "fancy" chocolates of the Mars Company.  They have a beautiful cactus garden outside of their factory to help draw people in and at Christmas they decorate the entire garden in Christmas lights.  I would have never guessed that people actually decorate those prickly things.
After Peyton's speaking engagement, we saw a couple major US sights. We were able to see the Hoover Dam, Route 66, the Grand Canyon, and even CALIFORNIA! California definitely wasn't planned, but on our way back to Vegas we got singing in the car and completely missed our exit for a major highway that led to Vegas. So...as we were singing and dancing, we both saw the sign that said "Welcome to California" and about died.  Our first concern was how far away we were from Vegas since we had a flight to catch that evening.  Thankfully, we had plenty of time to spare!
As expected, the Grand Canyon was absolutely beautiful.  It was freezing cold...but it was beautiful.  We stayed in the Canyon which was a real treat and woke up early both mornings to see the sunrise.  The grand Canyon has always been on my bucket list and I am so glad that I got to see it with my best friend. 
So far, we have been North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, and California. Only forty two more to go!