Hi, hi, hi! So happy to chat after a few days away for the holiday – I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

We had a wonderful low-key week over here. Between Ben and my parents having a few days off, and Lincoln being off from school, it was one of those weeks when I wasn’t quite sure what day or time it was at any given moment. Lovely!

We visited the Festival of Trees and Lights, I traveled to western Iowa to attend a baby shower for a dear friend, Ben and I had a date night (what’s that?!) and we also ended up hosting Thanksgiving dinner last minute!

Neither of my brothers were able to make it and Ben got a Big Green Egg for his birthday in October, so we just decided to smoke a turkey over here with my parents and served it with all the fixins’. FYI, if you’re on the fence about whether or not an egg is worth the investment – go for it. Everything Ben’s been pulling off this smoker has been beyond delicious. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I don’t even like turkey but the smoked bird he made for Thanksgiving was perfection.

We also got all the Christmas decorations out and up (ask me how that’s going with a 1 year old…) and I’m officially in full-force holiday mode over here. Bring on ALL the Christmas movies, cookies, and carols!

Well I guess all that doesn’t sound low-key, and I pretty much just covered what’s “current” in my life, but I’m feeling recharged after a few days away and am anxious to tell you about some fun recent finds in this edition of Currently!

Lez go…

Time and Place: 10:01am at the kitchen counter. Lincoln’s at school and Cameron’s napping. Guys, I can’t even begin to describe the hot mess that is Cameron’s sleep schedule right now. I am newborn-level tired! He’s experiencing crazy separation anxiety right now which means if he’s not plastered to my side for half the night, he’s (we’re) not sleeping. Send coffee.

Blaring: White Noise Machine. Speaking of sleep, I bought LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machines for the boys’ rooms and they are sooo legit! We’ve always used small floor fans for white noise, which is a much more full sounding noise vs a standard noise machine, but I didn’t love the fact that they were just circulating dry dusty air through their rooms. Already long story short, this noise machine is a beast and covers SO much noise. Love it!

Watching: Christmas movies. It’s not even December yet but as far as I’m concerned once Thanksgiving has come and gone, any and all Christmas movies are fair game. We watched Home Alone Thanksgiving night, and Elf and Trolls Holiday are ready and waiting on the DVR. What are your favorite holiday movies to watch?

Rediscovering: One-Pot Red Beans and Rice. I made this dish a couple nights ago for the first time in awhile and was reminded of how easy and tasty it is. We demolished the entire pot in about 10 minutes. So good!

One Pot Red Beans and Rice is an easy and affordable one pot dish that the entire family will love. Get a taste of the south in under 30 minutes! | iowagirleats.com

Dining: Cedar + Stone. My Mom and I went on our annual pre-Christmas Mall of America shopping trip a few weeks ago! It felt great to resume the tradition, as we skipped last year since Cameron was so young, though it didn’t feel quite as good getting totally lost trying to get from the mall to our hotel – which is also an annual event. I’m telling you, the roads around the MOA were designed to torment.

Anyway, the highlight of the trip was eating dinner at a new restaurant attached to the JW Marriott within the mall – Cedar + Stone. The restaurant uses 80% locally sourced ingredients and nearly the entire menu is gluten-free – they even have a dedicated GF fryer. Bring on the Truffle Fries!! That is to say, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a really long time. My Mom’s short ribs were braised for 12 hours then served over local white cheddar grits, and my rare hanger steak was TO DIE FOR. Our service was excellent too – can’t wait to go back next year. Definitely give them a visit if you find yourself at The Mall!

Craving: Tuscan Chicken Mac and Cheese. Too soon after Thanksgiving to be posting a gooey, cheesy recipe? Didn’t think so.

Using: Norwex Cleaning Paste. Have I shared this magic paste with you before? Even if I have, it’s worth mentioning again. If you have a flat-top stove or places in your house that just get heavily usedyou NEED this cleaning paste. They call it “elbow grease in a jar” and it absolutely lives up to it’s name. I’ve tried every product and trick to get stuck on stuff off my glass stove top and nothing can hold a candle to this paste! It’s pricey but I’ve had a tub for 2 years and have maybe used 1% of it. Purchase a netted rag to go with it too. I can’t seem to find the rag anywhere other then the Norwex website so if you’re a consultant feel free to leave your email in the comments section below for interested buyers. The combination of the paste and rag would be a great holiday gift, btw!

Obsessing: Magnolia Sweatshirt. All my favorite grey sweatshirts have officially been replaced by this Magnolia sweatshirt – it’s the end of an era! This sweatshirt is super squishy and comfortable, and I’m obsessed with the fit. I’m a large and loose sweatshirt lover when I’m hanging out at home, but feel too sloppy wearing them out in public. The cut of sweatshirt is trim but not too tight. Cute AND comfortable.

Using: Barilla Gluten-Free Lasagna Sheets. I came across Barilla’s no-boil GF lasagna sheets at the grocery store thinking there was no chance they’d work, and was thrilled to be wrong. I about cried after taking my first bite of lasagna in over four years – it tasted just like the “real thing”! In a nonstick sprayed 8×8″ baking dish I layered a generous scoop of marinara sauce (locals, I used Gino’s) then layered on the noodles followed by 1/3 of 1 pound ground beef that I’d browned and seasoned with salt and pepper, followed by a generous sprinkle of shredded mozzarella cheese. Repeat the noodles > sauce > beef > cheese layers two more times then cover and bake according to the noodle package directions. GAME CHANGER. I truly never thought I’d be able to eat lasagna again!

Wearing: Dolce Vita Sutton Bootie. I’ve been searching for a pair of casual low boots for a couple years now and finally found a pair I adore via Living in Yellow (<< this girl is going to make me go broke. I want every.single.thing. she posts!) These Dolce Vita Sutton Booties are comfortable, the heel isn’t too high, and they can easily be dressed up or down. Ob.Sessed.

Crafting: Fruit Christmas Tree. Christmas is one holiday that Lincoln and I really get into crafting for. On our list is a Fruit Christmas Tree (trust me your kids/grandkids will go NUTS for this thing!) a handprint Christmas tree for the Grandparents, and salt dough ornaments for the tree using GF flour. What are you and your kids whipping up?

Celebrate the holidays the healthy way with a beautiful, fresh Fruit Christmas Tree. Perfect for parties, potlucks, and Santa! | iowagirleats.com

Making: Fat Bombs. We’re trying to put weight on Lincoln which is tough since he can’t eat dairy – so no full-fat milk, ice cream, cheese, etc – plus he doesn’t love high-fat foods like avocados. Anyway, I made him Fat Bombs from Tasty Yummies and Lincoln thinks they’re peanut butter cups! I used this Cacao Butter and added a big handful of Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels (maybe 1/3 cup?) so they taste like candy, are still low in sugar, and are chock full of good fats. Total win.

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