Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Year In Review

There is goes another year in the books. The older I get the faster time flies by. I am really honestly ready for this year to close and I so look forward to what 2018 has to bring. But before I comment on 2018 here are all my favorite memories to look back on in 2017!

Blue Ox Music Festival

We just had so much dang fun at this festival.  We try to try a new music festival each year and this one was a true blast. I look forward to the ones we will go to in 2018!

Master Bath Renovation

This was the most grueling project we have ever tackled. It was blood, sweat and for sure some tears. I really like how everything turned out and it was worth it. We learned a lot and will apply it all on future projects. We may have another one planned for this year. Stay tuned!

HEALTHY Mac & Cheese

I mean I had to talk about it. This heavenly delight has become a bit of a staple in my recipe rotation. It is delicious and you know I had to mention it here in the recap!

Ancestry DNA Results!

I found out my heritage this year. I mean that is pretty awesome and note worthy!

Minnesota State Fair

Recap.... I ate all the things.

Our Family Booyah
I may have shared some family secrets this year. I look forward to learning the whole process and being part of doing this very soon. Maybe this year from my mom and dad.
We love traveling I feel like that is no secret. This year we went out to Colorado and visited Ryan's brother while taking in the sites. It was a really awesome and thrilling trip. We have even more big travels planned for 2018!

 UnitedHealthcare Service Heros
I got really the coolest and most humbling award at work this year. In 2018 I get to go to Disney World for a really amazing work trip.

Cookie Exchange
Always a blast and so fun this years Cookie Exchange was one for the history books. We still have a
ton of cookies from this. I love traditions.

In reflection I was really blessed this year. With all the negativity in the world it was nice to reflect on all the good things that happened in the past year. Things I did not directly mention is that my father is still in remission from his cancer (whoot whoot) and my super funny Grandpa Jupe is still kicking in even after being treated for bladder cancer. We have to see the good in the world it really makes life better.

Now what does 2018 look like for me?
We have our first music festival booked for the year we are going to Summer Camp Festival this year just booked it. We plan on renovating our upstairs bathroom/laundry room in the spring. We are going to Wisconsin Dells with some friends in Feb. I look forward to Disney World with Service Heros in March. Ryan and I celebrate our 15 year anniversary this year and want to go on a big trip. More on that too! Really this year is the year of doing. I want to find some great work/life balance. Let's make 2018 the best year yet!

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Until next year~
XoXo Emily

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Cobb Salad

What a classic. Is it sad I had no idea what actually went into this salad though? Ryan asked me to make this salad for Christmas with his family and I seriously had to research it a bit. I mean I have ordered it and others have made it for me but I have never really made it. Well we did this year and it was a big hit. The salad can vary with who is making it but the standards are usually ham and hard boiled eggs. Here is my version. You can serve with whatever dressing you like. I have also included some holiday highlights below as well. I hope your family and you had a lovely holiday season.

What you need~
6 hard boiled eggs
1 cup of diced ham
1/4 cup diced cheese
1/2 cup tomatoes
1/2 a cucumber diced
1/4 cup diced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced onion
6 cups of mixed greens

Dice everything up and serve chilled. I served with two types of dressing ranch and raspberry walnut dressing.

Here are some holiday pictures:

Pug sweater with a pug.

Family photo. Not pictured grumpy Stella. 

Buddy resting after eating his weight in sausage. 

Tom and Jerry's.

Luna hanging out with Tucker.

Don't worry he did not steal anything

Great-grandpa and Tucker.
Once again I hope you had a wonderful holiday.
Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, December 18, 2017

Cookie Exchange 2017

I mean cookies how is that ever a bad thing?
We all have holiday traditions and my annual cookie exchange is one of my favorite ones. It is a simple idea I started years ago. Each person brings a dozen cookies for each guest to pass. This year we had 7 of us passing so that is 7 dozen cookies. It seems a bit insane to bake that much but you in turn get 7 dozen cookies in return of different varieties. My mom and I also bake sugar cookies for everyone to frost and decorate the day of the exchange. We always bake way too many sugar cookies but it is worth it. Most of the time everyone leaves with like 10 dozen cookies. We drink coffee, eat lunch and have some good chats. It makes you really feel good to be able to spend time with people you have not seen in a while and catch up. Here are some high lights of the day.

They all look so amazing.

So many cookies in the end. 

I took pictures of all the cat ones because I love them.

I call this cat evil Stella.

This was one Liz did looks just like her cat.

Sandwich fix'ins.

All set up and ready.

Before we made our fun mess.

Don't worry we had a side of veggies with all the cookies.

Ready to be frosted. 

Fat tabby cats.

Cat cut outs. Love the new cookie cutter. 
 I just love this time of year. Everything is full of cheer and spending time with family and friends is so fun. Need to keep this up more of the year.  I hope you get to enjoy some holiday treats this year just don't go to crazy stay within moderation.

Until next time~
XoXo Emiy

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Strawberry Pretzel/Pecan Salad

Creamy yet tart I love the little bit crunch in this as well. Is it a dessert or is it a salad? I literally don't care it is so tasty. I first had this at a holiday gathering years ago and knew I had to recreate it again at some point. This was made for a food day at work. To say it was a hit it is an understatement. Everyone loves it anytime I see it anywhere. It does take a bit of prep work but in the end it is totally worth it.

What you need~
2 1/5 cups chopped pretzels
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter melted
8 ounces (1 block) of room temperature cream cheese
1 container of thawed cool whip
1 tsp of vanilla
3 cups diced strawberry

Prep everything:
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Take your crushed pretzels and pecans place them on a sheet pan. Melt your butter and slowly mix in the brown sugar. Pour this mixture over the pretzel and pecans on the pan. Toss the mixture well. Place in oven for 7 minutes. Set aside to cool and harden.

Dice the strawberries set aside.

Put the cream cheese in the stand mixer. Whip the cream cheese mixture till fluffy. Add the vanilla and continue to beat. Fold in the cool whip. Set aside till you are ready to serve.

To serve:
Mix in the strawberries and half of the pretzel/pecan mixture in the cool whip mixture to serve. Leave some topping on the side for people to add more later.

Before baking. mmm,


Creamy but yet great texture. 
This is a solid choice to make for a side dish or dessert. Really a great dish to share or to just eat all of it on your own too. Up to you.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, December 11, 2017

S'more Cookies

Ooey and gooey these are rich and decadent. I made these for our cookie exchange which means I had to make 7 dozen. Which is a big tax to take on to bake them all. I followed a recipe on a site ( really closely.


  • 2 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, very finely crushed (see post for more on this)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 2 sheets graham crackers, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and both sugars; beat on medium-speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add in the flour mixture. Be sure not to over beat here! Turn mixer off. Using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, fold in chocolate chips, marshmallows, and graham crackers.
3. Roll 3 tablespoon sized portions of dough between your palms to form a ball (they should be big; almost a 1/4 cup), then place on prepared sheet (make sure to leave 2" between each cookie for inevitable spreading). Continue this process until all the dough has been rolled. Place baking sheets in preheated oven, one at a time, and bake for 11 to 12 minutes, or until golden at the edges but still soft in the middle. Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire wrack to cool completely.
Dough mix.

Action shot!

Flour mix.

It's go time!


So many cookies!

It was hard to not eat them all.
I hope you are able to do some of your yearly Holiday traditions like I am doing this year. It is always the best time of the year. I hope they are a big hit during the exchange. I am excited to see what everyone else makes this year. I also have to bake all the sugar cookies with my mom this weekend. So much baking I love it!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

UnitedHealthcare Service Heros


I never ever ever post about work. But I was just way too excited to not share this news. We have a program called Service Heros where your peers nominate you to win a trip to Disney World each year. This trip includes dinners, meeting leadership and so many other cool things. Only a small amount of people each year are selected and it is a huge honor to be selected. I hope you see where I am going with this. I was selected this year. It was a total surprise and everyone did a good job surprising me at my desk today. I am so blessed to work with all these awesome people and them not only nominating me but picking me is a dream.

Here are some pictures courtesy of Jena Vogel that they took today surprising me. March cannot come soon enough!

Dawn (Our site director) and I.

I cried like the whole time.

Trying to collect myself. :)

I would have hugged everyone if they let me.

This is the exact moment they rounded my desk and surprised me. Instant tears.



My award hanging out with my Minnie Mouse. She has a cool Mickey balloon on her arm.

How cute right? I also got a beach towel, cute Mickey bag and some shampoo goodies.
I just feel so incredibly honored. Okay I gotta go before I cry again.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily