Friday, March 27, 2015

Date Night Challenge


It's true, I'll be the first to admit it. I read every single one of those "Mistakes You're Making That Could Ruin Your Relationship" posts I see on Facebook. Not because I'm super worried I'm making mistakes, but because my marriage is the absolute most important thing in the world to me. There is so much nonsense out there telling us that relationships aren't important, or that marriage should be easy, or that divorce is for anyone and everyone. Call me a hopeless romantic but I'm not buying it. And judging by the fact that "Date Ideas" are some of our most sought after posts, you aren't either!


Whether your married, engaged, or in a casual relationship dating is soo soo important. That's why we decided to start doing our Date Night Challenge! Every Friday we are going to issue a challenge. Their will be three challenges in varying levels. Level 1: Crush, level 2: Love, Level 3: Devoted. You can complete the one that fits your relationship best, or complete all three for the ultimate date experience!



A good date needs four things: 1. You feel attractive, 2. You find your date attractive, 3. both people feel a strong emotion, and 4. You leave with something that reminds you of the date. Our goal is to help you bring more of these elements into your regular dating routine, and get you out of your comfort zone so that you can continually build your relationship.

So... It's a Friday, why not give our Date Night Challenge a try!




-- T  H  I  S     W  E  E  K  '  S     C  H  A  L  L  E  N  G  E --





March 20: This week's date night challenge is to bring back your childhood.

Crush: Eat at your favorite childhood restaurant.
Love: Play a game you loved as a kid like battle ship or hopscotch.
Devoted: Get out and go somewhere you loved as a kid like an arcade or Chuckie Cheese!




-- P  R  E  V  I  O  U  S    C  H  A  L  L  E  N  G  E  S --




March 20: This week's date night challenge is to get wet!! Or at least out on some water.
Crush: Hit the dollar store and pick out some mini squirt guns and have a squirt gun fight.
Love: Have dinner out by a lake at sunset!
Devoted: Rent a canoe (they are only like $20 bucks!) and paddle around the lake! Bonus if you "fall in".


March 13: When we first got married we decided to try long boarding and it was so fun to learn together! Don't get stuck in a rut doing the same things over and over, this date night challenge is to try something new!
Crush: Go somewhere neither of you have been before for dinner. Bonus points if it's foreign!
Love: Buy a new board game that you've never played and make a night of it!
Devoted: Take a homeless person to dinner and get to know them! Unless of course you've done that... then you can play it safe and take someone you don't know well yet, like another couple, a cousin, a sibling, or a grandparent.


March 6: This date night challenge is to make it sports themed in honor of March Madness!

Crush: Get out moving and play a sport together.
Love: Get ready for March Madness (or any other up coming sports event you like) and read up on some players and teams. It'll make the season a lot more fun for both of you!
Devoted: Buy tickets to a game or at least some swag to deck out in while you cheer on your teams! 


February 27: Do something out of the ordinary and surprise your significant other!
Crush: Send them some flowers or candy, who doesn't get excited about that!
Love: Be waiting for them at their work and whisk them away to a fun-filled night!
Devoted: Buy tickets to a sports game, play, movie or whatever their into and don't tell them where you're going until you get there!!


February 19: Kick the winter blues away and do something that reminds you of summer!
Crush: Go for a walk outside in the fresh air. (Hand in hand of course!!)
Love: Cold or not, pull out the BBQ and do some grilling.
Devoted: Never mind how white you are, put on your swim suit and hit the pool! If you have kids bring them along, or find a hot tub for you and your hubby to sneak away to ;)



February 6: This challenge was inspired by the fact that yesterday my husband and I actually worked out because we stole each other's phones and wouldn't give them back until we both worked out. It was kind of sad how motivating it was, but at least it'll get results right?? This week's challenge is no electronics!!

Crush: Turn off your cell phone and actually give your significant other your full attention the whole night. 
Love: Turn off all electronic media! That includes TV's, radios, phones, etc.
Devoted: Kick it even more old school and turn off ALL electronics included the lights! Candlelight is sooo romantic!




January 30: My husband and I like to keep it simple on Valentine's Day and avoid the crowds by going extravagant early, so your challenge is to get the romance started early by dressing it up!

Crush: Wear nice clothes (that means skirt and tie!) on your date. 
Love: Go a little fancier on dinner. This doesn't have to mean the La Caille or Chef's Table, but it could! There are also quite a few decent priced fancier restaurants you could try, like La Jolla Groves.
Devoted: Get caught up in a slow dance! Bonus points if there's a live band, but nothing says romance more than turning on your favorite love song and swaying back and forth under a street light.



January 23: The idea for this challenge was inspired by the fact that my husband is out of town and little Cooper is going to be subbing in. This week's challenge is to bring someone else along!

Crush: Bring your kids and show them how to treat the opposite gender on a date! 
Love: Bring a younger brother, sister, or neighbor and show them what dating is all about! Don't forget to ask them about their secret crushes ;)
Devoted: Bring along your grandparents! They'll love a night out and telling you all about how dating was different back in their day!


January 15: Getting out and having fun doesn't need to be pricey or extravagant. Dress it down and go casual tonight!

Crush: Wear sweats and watch a movie.  
Love: Hit up your favorite fast food restaurant. Not the drive in though, you've got to dine in!
Devoted: Make dinner with some friends and play some board games! 

January 9: Laughing together is a huge part of growing closer! Make sure that happens on tonights date!

Crush: Make a conscious effort to get your special someone laughing tonight!  
Love: Take some time and research some funny youtube videos, then pop some popcorn and get ready to laugh! (Here are some good places to start! Clean Youtube VideosStudio C)
Devoted: Actually go to a comedy club or see a comedian perform! (I know where we're going, Comedy Sportz!!)

January 2: Nothing says "love" more than giving. With the Christmas spirit still looming in the air, start the New Year off with a little service for others.
Crush: Use this list of Random Acts of Kindness and do a few for others. 
Love: Plan your date around service for your significant other. (i.e. Take them somewhere you don't like but they adore, Take them shopping for something they've been eying, or clean the garage out together!) 
Devoted: While you're out at dinner, count your blessings and anonymously buy someone else's meal for them!

We want to hear from you! 



Remember how I'm a hopeless romantic? After you complete a challenge share with us what you did! Did something funny happen? Did you learn something you didn't know about your significant other? Did he say something that would make any girl swoon? Send us a message and/or a picture on our Facebook wall so we can share it!


Need some date ideas?? Check these out!








Dacee & Tyson - Logan, Utah Wedding Video

I had never been to the Brigham City Temple until I shot this wedding. It is so adorable! I would highly recommend visiting it. Because it is a smaller temple, it wasn't rushed or over crowded with other brides so Jeremy, their photographer, and I really got to focus on Dacee and Tyson's families. Don't be fooled by the bright sunlight though, it was absolutely freezing!! I always feel so bad for my bride's in their dresses when it is that cold, but Dacee luckily had a super cute cape to keep her warm, not to mention a handsome new hubby ;)! Ps. If you want to know how to turn a church into a cozy cabin slash palace for your wedding then you have to see their reception!




I loved working with Jeremy Jensen Photography! He did such a good job at capturing all the little details! If you're looking for a photographer who won't miss a thing check him out!








Visit amberlewisvideography.blogspot.com for more!

Need more wedding ideas? Check these out!




Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cake

chocolate peanut butter brownie cake

 

It’s a girls night out and I am headed to my sister's house for dinner! My two sisters, our Mom and I are going to spend some time together catching up and hanging out.

I dreamt about this dessert I wanted to create, yes I am not ashamed to admit that I dream about food :-), and I thought that it would the perfect dessert for girls night!

A decedent, rich, moist six layer chocolate peanut butter brownie cake with different peanut butter and chocolate fillings, chopped Reese's peanut butter cups, showered with chocolate ganache and drizzled with peanut butter! What a sweet dream! It took me two days to complete the cakes, I prepped everything one day and I assemble it on the second. It was worth the prep! I am just a little obsessed with the peanut butter and chocolate combination!

chocolate peanut butter brownie cake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cake
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
by Cathy McInnes
Ingredients
  • Ingredients to make the cakes and brownies according to the package for 9 inch cakes.
  • 1-16.5 ounce yellow cake mix
  • 1-16.5 ounce devils food cake mix
  • 1-18.3 ounce box of brownie mix
  • 1 3/4 cups-creamy peanut butter-divided
  • 8 ounces cream cheese-softened
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 1/3 cups of heavy cream-divided
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1-6.8 ounce box of instant vanilla pudding
  • 1-6.8 ounce box of instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk-divided
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup chocolate chips/chocolate candy melts
  • 10 Reese's peanut butter cups-chopped
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350F
In three separate bowls mix together the ingredients for the vanilla cake, chocolate cake, and brownie.
To the vanilla cake batter stir in 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter.
In two greased 9 inch cake pans pour 2 cups of cake batter each pan. Bake until top is golden brown. Cool. If using the same cake pans for the other layers, remove cake from pan and set aside. If you are going to be assembling the cake later in the the same day or the next day, place cake in airtight container and refrigerate.
In two greased 9 inch cake pans pour 2 cups of chocolate cake batter each pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in top of cake comes out clean. Cool. Repeat direction from above.
In two greased 9 inch cake pans pour 1 1/2 cups brownie batter each pan. Bake until toothpick interested in top has just a little brownie sticking to it. Cool.
While all this great baking is happening, let's make the yummy fillings.
In a large bowl whip together the vanilla pudding mix, 3/4 cup whole milk, and one cup of heavy cream. Fold in 1/4 cup peanut butter. Set aside. The filling should be very thick.
In another large bowl whip together the chocolate pudding, 3/4 cups whole milk, and one cup of heavy cream. Set aside.
In another large bowl whip together 8 ounce cream cheese, 1 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar.
In another large bowl whip together 2 cups of heavy cream and 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar. Whip until it becomes thick whipped cream. Fold into the peanut butter cream cheese mixture.
On the stove in a small pot melt together 1 cup chocolate chips, or candy melts, 1/3 cup heavy cream, and 1/3 cup light corn syrup. Stir until it becomes thick chocolate.
 
Whew!

Let's assemble this awesome cake:
On a cake plate place one brownie.
Spread half of the chocolate pudding filling on top.
Place a chocolate cake on top.
Spread half the peanut butter cheesecake filling on top. Spread 4 chopped Reese's peanut butter cups evenly.
Place a vanilla peanut butter cake on top.
Spread the vanilla peanut butter pie filling on top.
Place a brownie cake on top.
Spread the other half of the chocolate pudding filling on top.
Place a chocolate cake on top.
Spread the other half of the peanut butter cheesecake filling on top. Spread 4 chopped Reese's peanut butter cups evenly.
Place a vanilla peanut butter cake on top.
Pour the chocolate ganache over top the whole cake.
In a bowl melt 1/4 cup peanut butter, place in a ziploc bag, snip the corner and drizzle over chocolate ganache. Top with 2 chopped Reese's peanut butter cups.
If this cake starts to sway, take a skewer a place in right down the middle of the cake.
Place in fridge until ganache has hardened-about 20 minutes!
Enjoy this decadent sweet treat!
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chocolate peanut butter brownie cake

Here are more Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Recipes:

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easter Quick Treats

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SnackPackMixins #CollectiveBias

snack pack7

I’m getting so excited for Easter! It seems like the perfect time for bright and colorful treats! My kids love Snack Packs and love when I put them in their lunches. Every time I go shopping at Walmart, I try to pick up a 4 pack. I was in a creative mood the other day and decided to try some easy and quick ideas that sure to please your family and friends! The first one is a carrot poking out of the ground.

snack pack3

My kids love when I make mud cups out of the Snack pack pudding.

 Instructions:

  • I put Oreos into the blender until the cookies were crumbs. Sprinkle them over the top of your pudding cup.
  • Place the large marshmallows onto sticks, so it’s easy to dip.
  • Pour your candy melts into a microwave safe bowl. Cook in 30 second intervals and stirring in between, until the candy melts are melted completely.
  • Dip marshmallows into chocolate. Hold over bowl to let drip and then place them into something that can hold them upright. I put holes into a box.
  • I found edible Easter Candy grass for the top of the carrot.

snack pack4

snack pack10

What’s Easter without the Easter bunny? The next idea has the bunny poking out of the grass.

Instructions:

  • Pop some Orville Redenbacher popcorn and then pour into a plastic bag.
  • Sprinkle in some food coloring and toss until the popcorn is colored.
  • Take a large marshmallow and cut it on a angle. Dip the sticky side into sprinkles to make the inner part of the ear.
  • Stick a toothpick in the bottom of the ear. Sprinkle popcorn on top of the Snack pack pudding cup.
  • Stick the ears into the popcorn.
  • The sweet and savory makes a yummy combination.

snack pack5

A fun way to serve your cute cups, are in a little pot.  You simply rip pieces of paper and modge podge them to the pot. It just makes it a little bit more festive! I even have a  Walmart coupon for you, so you can try these ideas, click on coupon. I love finding new ideas and would love to hear from you. What is your favorite thing about Easter? Don’t be shy, let me know!

snack pack2

 

 

 

snack pack

10 BEST Mess Free Toddler Activities



My one-year-old Cooper is a busy body and I am constantly looking for new activities that will hold his attention for longer than a few seconds so I can actually get a few things done. Here are some of my favorite mess free ones!

1. Water Painting: Have your toddler paint on construction paper with water for a mess free "water color" picture!

2. Magnets: Gather any and every type of magnet and let them go! They will love pulling them apart and putting them back together.

3. Egg Carton Sorter: Save an egg carton and put interesting, choke free objects in it. As they get older you can help them sort the objects into like categories.

4. Paint in Ziploc: Put colored paint in a ziploc bag and secure it to their high chair or a table. Let them "finger paint" away!

5. Texture Balloons: Fill some balloons with sand, salt, cornstarch, marbles, Play Dough, rice, and gel. Be sure they are tied tight and then let your child experience the way each one feels.

6. Foam Ball n' Straws: Stick a bunch of bendy straws in a foam ball from the craft store.

7. Velcro Sticks: Stick Velcro pieces to each side of many popsicle sticks and show them how to stick and pull them apart.

8. Glow Sticks: Get some glow sticks from the dollar store, dim the lights, and let them run-a-muck!

9. Music on the Phone: Turn on some music on your phone and let them carry it around.

10. Jewelry Box: Gather all your old jewelry, or any you wouldn't mind getting chewed on, and let your kid feel all the textures. Show them how to put on and take off bracelets.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

10 Christ Centered Easter Traditions



I remember as a kid hearing adults talk about how "commercialism is taking over Holidays" and "Religion is getting forgotten". I always thought they were just jealous that they didn't get to do the activities like hunt for easter eggs or open as many presents. Now that I have a child of my own though, I completely understand where they were coming from.

My mom did a great job trying to keep Christ the main part of Easter as well as Christmas, but it's pretty hard to do when it seems that there are so many other holiday traditions being advertised that you need to keep up with! I wanted to share a few as well as list them for myself so that as my kids grow older I can do my best to keep the true meaning of Easter alive and strong.



1. Christ Centered Easter Egg Hunt: My mom did this for us as kids so I was excited to see that Jessica posted one on the blog a few years back. It's a great way to have fun while remembering that there is more to Easter than an Easter Bunny.



2. Decorate with photos of Christ: If a photo says a thousand words, why not add a few extra photos of Christ to your home around easter to invite in the spirit. There are so many beautiful paintings depicting the miraculous moment of the resurrection that can easily remind to pause and think about the true meaning of Easter.



3. Resurrection Rolls: These are a really fun (and tasty) activity that kids of any age will enjoy! They are rolls that you place a marshmallow inside and while it cooks, the marshmallow disappears leaving an empty space symbolizing the empty tomb.



4. Saturday Eggs, Sunday Service: Hunting for Easter Eggs is a really fun tradition, but if you feel it is keeping you from centering Easter around Christ, try telling the Easter Bunny to come on Saturday, so that you can keep Sunday open for worship of the Savior.



5. View Easter Related Videos: The LDS Church has released some remarkable Bible videos about the savior and has a whole playlist on YouTube devoted to Easter. You could watch them all at once or one a day leading up to Easter Sunday.



6. Egg Someone "He Is Risen" style: This is a great activity for kids, and a great way to share the meaning behind Easter with others. Click here for the free printable from fabnfree.com!



7. Read about how the Easter egg tradition came to be: I always thought that eggs and the Easter bunny were just made up one day by companies trying to make money off the Holiday. It turns out that's not true at all!



8. Create a Mini Easter Garden: I got this idea from the Happy Home Fairy, and besides the fact that this is just too dang cute, it also would be a great way to spend sometime reflecting about the true meaning of Easter while feeling productive. They say that sifting through dirt is very relaxing and therapeutic. I can't think of a better way to slow your schedule down a little bit and find time to focus on Christ.



9. Christ Centered Basket: This is another awesome idea from the Happy Home Fairy! It is similar to what my mom does at Christmas. She adds a new Christ centered Christmas book to a basket each year that she sets out at Christmas time, and I totally want to do this for Easter!


10. Actually read the scriptures: The link I've provided is to an article that is great for young kids (and even adults) that explains the verses, then provides a link to actually read it straight from the Bible. I think it would be fun to lay out on a porch swing or have a bonfire to enjoy the lovely spring weather while reading the Easter story.

For more ideas check out this fabulous article from the Ensign! It has some really great ideas and stories you can share with your family!

Can't get enough? Check out these fabulous posts!