Friday, December 16, 2011

{High Five Friday!}

It's Friday again! I can hardly believe how fast the time is flying by. I'm linking up with The Small Things Blog and From My Grey Desk for High Five Friday! It's really simple, you just share your top 5 things that happened this week. Here goes...

1. I got my Fall semester grades back! Two B's and one A! I am so proud of myself! Going back to college was a real challenge for me, and now I feel I have the confidence to pull it off!

2. There are so many things I love about Christmas, one of them is receiving Christmas cards!

I have some beautiful friends and family!

3. My December Birchbox came in the mail yesterday! 

More details on this beauty later...

4. New places and old friends. My bestie Tina drove in from San Marcos last night and we went to visit my old friend Candice at her OH! Fox Vintage pop-up shop at Madewell. (Did you get all that?) If you watched 2 Broke Girls on Monday night you know what a pop-up shop is. (Although, Candice had her's legally.) If you're still lost, I'll try to explain it for you. Candice has some amazing vintage pieces and stores like Madewell invite her to set up a shop inside their shop, "pop-up shop". It was a great event and their was champagne... do I need to say more? Afterwards Tina and I went to Gloria's. It was our second time there and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves cold margaritas and good Mexican food. 

5. New Year's Eve! Not that I'm trying to skip over Christmas, but I am so excited to be actually going to a real live NYE party in Austin this year! It's going to be a great night with friends! Now if I could find that perfect dress!

What are your top 5 things from this week?


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

{Tasty Tuesday: Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan}

Hey y'all! It's that time again for Tasty Tuesday! I thought I would share with you something we love at my house ... Chicken Parmesan. This recipe is from the Evil Shenanigans blog. The best part is there is no frying your chicken in a pan, everything goes in the oven! So simple!

Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan  Serves 2
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 egg white
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup tomato sauce, plus extra for coating the pasta
4 ounces uncooked pasta, any shape (she uses cheese tortellini - a nice change from spaghetti)
Heat the oven to 450 F and spray a foil lined baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/2″ thick.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl whisk the egg white until frothy.  In a second bowl add the panko bread crumbs and season with salt.  Dredge the chicken first in the egg white, letting the excess drip off, then coat in the panko mixture.  Let the chicken sit for ten minutes at room temperature so the crust can set.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the chicken reads an internal temperature of 155 F.  Remove the chicken from  he oven and spread the tomato sauce on the top.  Next, add the cheeses.

Then, return to the oven for ten minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown and the chicken reads an internal temperature of at least 160 F.  Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest five minutes before serving.  While the chicken bakes cook the pasta according to the package directions. 

Serve with pasta! Enjoy! 


Monday, December 12, 2011

{Weekend Recap}

My mom and my sisters came to Austin this past weekend for some shopping and girl time! It was such a fun weekend, I feel like I need another weekend to relax!

Friday night, in traditional Simonson woman style we ate Mexcian food. Lots of chips and salsa and margarita's! Then we headed over to the theater to see New Year's Eve.

We all enjoyed the movie but agreed that Valentine's Day was better. 

Saturday we hit the Round Rock outlet mall for some serious Christmas shopping and found some great deals! We even met Santa Claus! 

My girls left Sunday morning, but it was so great to spend some quality girl time with them!

Sunday evening MJ and I visited Hyde Park Baptist Church for their annual Christmas Musical. They had a full choir, orchestra and a beautiful chapel. Our friend Whitney was one of the narrators and it was so fun to watch her up on stage! :) 

I hope you had a great weekend too!


Friday, December 9, 2011

{High Five Friday!}

My most favorite day of the week is... Friday! This week I'm linking up with the From My Grey Desk blog and Pursuing Dreams blog for High Five Friday! It's so easy, just list your 5 favorite things from this past week! Here goes:

1. Finals are OVER! 

2. The New Girl. Have you seen this show? Hilarious!

3. My Private Jet. My new favorite color by OPI. of course. 

Pinned here.

Pinned here.
4. I'm feeling like I need a sparkly dress in my life. Here are some inspirations found on Pinterest

5. My mom and sisters are coming to Austin today! Just a weekend full of mexican food and shopping! 

What are your five favorite things from this week? 


Saturday, December 3, 2011

{Beer and breakfast?}

Not always the smartest idea. However, I can tell you this recipe is delicious! The Newcastle's caramel malt brings a new dimension to this classic morning treat.  MJ found this recipe a couple weeks back. I was a little skeptical to say the least but if there is one thing he's good at it is making breakfast. So, he whipped up some of these pancakes this morning. 

Newcastle Brown Pancakes

finished product. i apologize for the mess on the table. 
What You'll Need:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Newcastle Brown Ale
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (if you don't have brown, white sugar works too)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons soft or melted butter
  • Dash of salt

Using a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon and baking soda.

Add in the Newcastle, egg and butter and stir enough to blend ingredients– without over mixing.

Heat your skillet and coat with butter or cooking oil, then simply cook like you would for any other pancakes.

Looking good...

This recipe makes plenty for two, but you can easily double the ingredients for four, or otherwise alter for serving size. Enjoy! 

mike + sam

Sunday, November 20, 2011

{My First Birchbox!}

My November Birchbox came this week! I was so excited when I saw the pink box laying on the kitchen table because I was not expecting it for a couple more weeks. For those of you who don't know what Birchbox is, it is basically a gift box that comes to your door each month with 4-5 personalized beauty samples for only $10! I learned about Birchbox from Kate with The Small Things Blog. She also inspired me to chop off my hair! Anyways, here is what came inside my box this month:

  1. Atelier Cologne - smells like, vanilla and amber and woodsy - very autumn! MJ approves! 
  2. Borghese | Fango Active Mud Mask - can't wait to try this mask! 
  3. LaRocca Skincare | Champagne & Shimmer Supreme Creme - put some on my hands. Left them really soft and slightly shimmery. Would look great on your chest or arms for a night out! 
  4. Zoya | Nail Polish in Izzy - can't wait to try this color. I'm waiting for a Christmas or NYE party! 
  5. Coasters from Two Paper Dolls - aren't they cute? They have all sorts of designs on their website
I can't wait for next month's Birchbox! 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

{approach problems with a light touch}

"Jesus Calling" Daily Devotional by
November 15th

Approach problems with a light touch. When your mind moves toward a problem area, you tend to focus on that situation so intensely that you lose sight of Me. You pit yourself against the difficulty as if you had to conquer it immediately. Your mind gears up for battle, and your body becomes tense and anxious. Unless you achieve total victory, you feel defeated.

There is a better way. When a problem starts to overshadow your thoughts, bring this matter to Me. Talk with Me about it and look at it in the Light of My Presence. This puts some much-needed space between you and your concern, enabling you to see from My perspective. You will be surprised at the results. Sometimes you may even laugh at yourself for being so serious about something so insignificant.

You will always face trouble in this life. But more importantly, you will always have Me with you, helping you to handle whatever you encounter. Approach problems with a light touch by viewing them in My revealing Light.

PSALM 89:15; JOHN 16:33

Anxiety about problems or situations? Yep. 

Worried about events that haven't even happened yet? Yep, that's me again.

Lord, help me to bring my problems to you, to see situations in your Light. 


Friday, September 30, 2011

{We Conquered the Coast!}

Last Friday Michael and I took off work and headed down to Corpus Christi for the 2011 Conquer the Coast bike ride and a little get away. We ate some sea food, stuck our toes in the sand, saw some dolphins, and had a great time!

View from our hotel room of the marina

Mmm crab! 

Michael and his co-worker Patrick at the finish line

So proud of him! 70 miles! 

Dolphin show at the Texas State Aquarium. So fun! 

mike + sam

Monday, September 19, 2011

{Tasty Tuesday: Asian-style Tilapia Packets}

One of our most favorite and easiest things to make!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Serves: 4

What You'll Need:

  • 4 Tilapia fillets {1 to 1 1/2 pounds}
  • 4 sheets heavy duty aluminum foil, 12x18 sheets
  • 1 bag {10 oz} fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Central Market Organics Soy Ginger Sauce {or other Asian dressing}


  1. Heat oven to 450 F
  2. Divide fish into 4 portions. Place 1 portion in the center of each foil piece; season with salt and pepper. Place spinach, mushrooms, and onions {evenly divided} over each packet. Season again with salt and pepper. 
  3. Bring up edges of foil; then drizzle 2-Tbsp sauce over each packet. 
  4. Double fold tops and then ends of foil to seal. Place packets on baking sheet.
  5. Bake 12-15 minutes. Open packets carefully {steam will escape}. Serve immediately with brown or white rice. 

Enjoy! We hope you make this part of YOUR tasty Tuesday!

mike + sam

Friday, August 26, 2011

{Latest Obsession: Hummus}

While I have some extra time on my hands this morning I thought I would share our latest obsession... hummus! Here is a great recipe I found in a Weight Watchers magazine. We make it at least once a week, enjoy!

picture courtesy of
Tuscan White Bean Hummus
Points Plus Value: 2
Yields: 10 servings
Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons

What You'll Need:

  • 1 (15.5 oz) can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Pinch of salt and pepper


Combine all ingredients in a food processor; process until blended. Serve with fresh vegetables or baked pita chips.

What's your latest obsession?

mike + sam

{Weekend Update: Babies and more Babies}

I want to share with you a weekend update before another weekend happens! This week has just flown by. I started my new routine of going to school Monday-Thursday in the mornings and then going to work until 5-5:30. It's been a busy schedule but having the chance to go back to school and the support from my husband, family and friends makes it all worth while. Thanks guys!

Last Friday morning I took off early to meet some long lost friends and their new additions at our favorite place, Olive Garden. It had literally been 5 years since us girls got together. Before husbands and definitely before babies. It was great to catch up and get some baby love from their precious kids.

Very serious Nash
This is Mr. Nash Whittan Jackson. He is Robin and Blake Jackson's precious little boy.

Me and Jo
This is super cute Miss Jolie Renee Stevenson. Or as most call her Jo or JoJo! She is Kristin and Sean Stevenson's little miss!

After a more than filling lunch at Olive Garden I headed over to see my favorite two year old, Olivia Faye. If you have read my other posts you'll know who Olivia is. If you haven't, you should, haha. She is the most energetic little girl I have ever met and just absolutely crazy and precious. Here is a recent video I took of Olivia and her Mom and Dad. They might have done some brainwashing...

Then, on Saturday morning I got to be a part of a baby shower for my good friend Jennifer and her soon to arrive little miss Ella. She got so many cute gifts and I can't wait to see Miss Ella wear them around town. When you're ready to come out girlfriend... we're waiting! Here are a few pictures from the shower.

Molly, Myself, and Leeann. Love you girls! 

Jenn (with Ella), Myself, and Vanessa (with Caden). We can't wait to meet you both! 

All my lovely "Woodlands" girls! Miss you! 

mike + sam

Thursday, August 11, 2011

{Slow Cooker: Chicken Tacos}

I usually work late on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Either at the office or out showing property. So, coming home and making a meal has been um, not existent on those days. Then, I saw this recipe and remembered I have a slow cooker! PTL!

Recipe and Photo courtesy of via Pinterest

What you'll need:
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 (12 oz.) jar of your favorite salsa
  • 1 small can green chilies, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed 
  • Tortillas
Toppings we used:
  • 1 avocado, sliced 
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour Cream {low fat}
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato 
  1. Place chicken in the bowl of your slow cooker. Top with salsa, chopped green chilies, cumin, onion, and garlic. Cover and set on low. Cook for 8 hours.
  2. Remove chicken from pot, shred, and return to juices. {When I opened the lid the chicken had literally fallen apart on its own. I just stirred and voila!} 
  3. Spoon chicken into tortillas, with whatever toppings your family likes. Or use the meat to make burritos, tostadas, or as filling for enchiladas.
  4. Enjoy! 
I just might cut this recipe in half next time for just the two of us. But, we do have some good leftovers :)

What slow cooker recipe have you made lately? 

mike + sam

{Inspiration: Fall}

Today, I am loving lots of things on Pinterest! Especially all things FALL! I wish it would just hurry up and get here! I want cooler weather and new boots! Is that too much to ask? :)
In case you don't know what Pinterest is, it's a site that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use "pinboards" to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, organize their favorite recipes..., etc. Here are some of my favorite fall pins: 



Eats & Treats

What great things have you found on Pinterest lately? Don't have a Pinterest account? Leave me a comment with your email and I can send you an invite!

mike + sam

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

{tasty tuesday: roasted salsa}

If you know me I have made and eaten A LOT of salsa. This is indeed the BEST salsa I have ever made, EVER, and it's so easy!

Note: This recipe makes a lot so I cut the recipe in half for the 2 of us.

What you'll need:
  • 16 full-size tomatoes {I used 8 roma tomatoes}
  • 2-3 yellow onions {I used 1 1/2}
  • 20-25 serrano peppers, remove caps {I used 12 and left 3 with seeds in. Leave in more if you like it HOT}
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic {I used 5-6 cloves)
  • 1-2 Tbsp of salt {I used 1 Tbsp}
  • 1-2 bunches of cilantro {I used one big handful of one bunch}
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees
  2. Halve the tomatoes and onions and lay cut side up on a cookie sheet along with the peppers and garlic
  3. Roast until the onions are nice and translucent, tomatoes are soft and peppers have a nice char on them, about 20-25 minutes
  4. Let it all cool a bit {I waited about 20 minutes - which was hard to do}
  5. Run through the food processor with salt and cilantro {I had to do this in two batches}
  6. Stir it all together and enjoy!
recipe and photo courtesy of 

mike + sam

Sunday, August 7, 2011

{Foodie: Torchy's Tacos}

I like to think of myself as an amateur foodie and love to try any place new. In the process we get explore the surrounding areas like Austin, Cedar Park, and Round Rock. Our latest foodie adventure took us to Torchy's Tacos in central Austin. Torchy's had been recommended to us by several people and it did not disappoint!

As we arrived the line was literally out the door! We took this as a good sign, joined the line, and browsed the menu. Michael landed on the "Democrat" with shredded beef barbacoa topped with fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, onions, and wedge of lime {$3.75}. I chose the "Trailer Park" with fried chicken, green chilies, pico de gallo and poblano sauce {$3.25}. I also chose to make my taco "trashy" and added queso. 

We chose a table on the inviting patio surround by a bamboo "wall" and necessary ceiling fans. We also ordered chips and the salsa "Roja" which practically came in a soup bowl {$3.50}. They must know we like a lot of salsa and bottomless chips! Our tacos came out juicy, moist, and flavorful, piled high with our respective toppings and two corn tortillas, {flour is also an option}. 

We had eaten most of the salsa by this point :)
The food was great, the staff friendly and atmosphere casual. We will definitely be returning to Torchy's Tacos soon!

What new places have you tried lately?

mike + sam

{DIY: Nightstand}

I am finally catching up with the blog...again. I have lots of new DIY projects, restaurants, and recipes to share with you soon!

So, I have been searching and searching for inspiration for our guest bedroom and finally found it  - yellow, white, red and teal!
Jaipur collection by Echo at Bed, Bath & Beyond

The one piece I already had was my nightstand that was part of my childhood furniture. So off to Lowe's I went in search of spray paint! Enjoy the before and after pictures and a big thanks to my amazing husband!


MJ hard at work

All painted

All dry

What we did: 
  1. Remove all hardware
  2. Sand it down with high grit sand paper to remove any paint {MJ got to buy an orbital sander}
  3. Sand it again with a finer grit sand paper
  4. Tape off and hit with spray paint {we did 2 coats of high gloss Exotic Sea Glass by Valspar}
  5. Let dry overnight and add the hardware back on
I hope this inspires you to re-vamp a piece in your house!

mike + sam

Monday, March 14, 2011

Olivia is TWO!

Last weekend MJ and I traveled back to The Woodlands to celebrate Olivia's birthday. For those of you who don't know, Olivia's proud parents are Steven and Judy DePrang. Michael, Steven and Judy met in ninth grade art class and have been friends ever since. Then, in 2003 Michael helped me get a job at The Woodlands Recreation Center where Judy also worked. They truly are some of our best friends. We were in each other's weddings, at Olivia's birth ... you get the drift :)  

a couple years ago at Goose's Acre

MJ and Olivia (4 months old)

Here are some pictures from the birthday party, 3/4/2011.

Beautiful cake Judy made

Getting ready to blow out her candles
Such a cutie! 

Judy and Olivia

Uncle Philip and Olivia
Judy always does a fabulous job with any kind of get together and this party for 50 + people was no exception. She had to at the last minute change the venue from Northshore Park to HER house because of the weather, but no problem! Needless to say, it was a great party with YUMMY food. Happy Birthday Olivia! Your parents love you so much and so do we!

mike + sam