Our schedule has been very hectic lately. MacKay has been traveling for work for over a week and I leave in the morning for Boston. While my patience has run thin over the past couple of days, I’m constantly reminded of how amazing life really is. The kids always keep me on my toes and the second that I feel like I am getting angry at them for not listening, a second later they are making me laugh with a joke or a funny face.

Last night I had all three kids in bed with me. All three of them woke up at 3am ready for the day and asking for breakfast. While I wanted to kick and scream that we had four more hours of sleep until our alarm clock went off, I got up and looked at the three of them cuddled up next to me. Despite being tired, life was pretty good.

That’s what makes me happy.

Now tell me something good. Something that’s made you happy. It can be big, it can be small, just something that has put a smile on your face. You can participate by sharing a photo on Wednesday with the hashtag #WhyImHappyWednesday and tagging me @laurenjimeson or feel free to write it in the comments below. I do read them all and am happy to reply back on your good news! You can also join in the conversation on my Facebook page!

Photo by Charlie Juliet Photography for our Minted Holiday Session.

img_1440

Believe it or not, it’s already time to start holiday shopping for your loved ones. If you’re anything like me you like to get it done as early as possible so that you can enjoy the holiday season without the stress of what to get everyone.

Being surrounded by so many lovely ladies, I have a lot of beauty lovers in my life. My sister is and has always been my go-to when it comes to beauty. There has been more than one occasion when I’ll be in the Sephora and texting her photos of different lipsticks, eyeshadows, brushes, and blushes. I always consult with her before I buy anything.

Last weekend, I was visiting my sister in the city and we stopped by the JCPenney at the Manhattan Mall to check off some of the gifts on our list. As soon as I walked into the store, these gift sets caught my eye. They have many of my favorite products packed in a gorgeous bag and for a great price. And only available at the Sephora Inside JCPenney.

img_1441

This Sephora Favorites Make Up Must-Haves bag is filled with all of the essentials you’ll need. Whether it’s a night out with the girls or just a day out with the kids, this bag has everything you need to make it a great one. The bag includes a beautyblender pro, BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Press in Opal, Buxom Lash Mascara in Blackest Black, Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper, NARS Cosmetics Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella, and Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Mushroom.

img_1442

The Sephora Favorites The Tempting Ten Bag is a beauty sampler that will give you bold brows, long lasting lips, tousled tresses, cheery cheeks, and more. It’s packed with Sephora’s top-selling favorites and includes four full-size products. Inside the bag you will receive Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Medium Brown, the original beautyblender, Bumble and bumble Surf Spray, Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara in Excessive Black, Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, Sephora Collection Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, Smashbox Cosmetics Always on Liquid Lipstick in Stepping Out, Stila Cosmetics Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Intense Black, Tarte Amazonian clay 12-hour blush in prim, and Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray.

img_1444

And now there’s a lip kit that can help you transform your lips for any occasion. The Sephora Favorites Lip Temptations Lip Sampler is everything lipstick lovers need. The set includes Bite Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayon in Aubergine, Kat Von D Beauty Studded Kiss Lipstick in Mercy, KNOW Cosmetics No Bleeding Lips Secret Lip Liner, NARS Cosmetics Lipstick in Jungle Red, Sephora Collection Rouge Cream #49 Belly-Dancing, and Urban Decay VICE Lipstick.

These kits are so good, that it’s hard for me to part and give them away because I love what’s inside so much! And that’s why I’ve already added them to my wish-list for the holidays.

Beauty gift-sets make the perfect gift not only for those who love beauty, but also for those that never take the time out for themselves. It’s always nice to have get a little pampered for the holidays.

sincerelylaurenaldi-7248

There’s something that I’ve come to dread since becoming a working mom of three and that’s cooking dinner. I feel that I’ve lost my creativity when it comes to cooking and something that I used to look forward to, I now despise.

Maybe it’s because two out of the three children are incredibly picky eaters or maybe because by the end of the day I am just wiped out, but either way, I’ve found myself ordering food for us rather than spending the time in the kitchen. I try not to make it a habit of eating out all of the time, so on the nights that I do cook, I want it to be quick, easy, and something that the kids will actually enjoy.

Our evenings are pretty packed, between after school activities, homework, and preparing for the next day, I have 45 minutes total to get dinner cooked and the kids fed. Any dish that is a one-pot dish and packed with nutrients is always a winner in our house.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to visit an ALDI store for the first time. Not only was I surprised at the low prices, but I also loved the wide-variety of ALDI brands. Not only are these brands sold at a lower cost than national brands (Switching to ALDI-exclusive brands saves you up to 50%* over national brands on the things you buy the most,) but they are made of the same, or even higher, quality than those brands as. And knowing that ALDI stands behind their products makes me even more confident to shop in their store. All of their products are backed by their Double Guarantee. If for any reason you are not 100% satisfied with any product, ALDI will gladly replace the product AND refund your money. That’s a guarantee of a company that stands behind their customers and their products.

With the help of the recipes on ALDI’s site, I was able to get all of the ingredients I needed for two quick weeknight meals that were delicious. If you’re always looking for meals that the entire family will enjoy, take a look at these recipes.

sincerelylaurenaldi-7683

Creamy Pasta with Broccoli and Chick Peas

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 pound Priano Short Cut Pasta
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Iodized Salt (divided)
  • 1 pound broccoli crowns, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 tablespoons Carlini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Crushed Red Pepper, plus additional to taste
  • 15.5 ounces Dakota’s Pride Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)
  • 1/2 cup Happy Farms Preferred Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Priano Shredded Parmesan Cheese, plus additional to taste
  • Stonemill Essentials Ground Black Pepper to taste

What To Do: 

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, asking 1 tablespoon of salt to boiling water. During the last two minutes of cook time, add the broccoli. Before draining, remove 1 cup of cooking water; reserve. Drain pasta and broccoli.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and crushed red pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chick peas and cook until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the ricotta and parmesan cheese with 3 tablespoons of reserved cooking water. Add more water by the tablespoon, as necessary, to create a creamy sauce.
  4. Return the skillet with chick peas to the stove over medium heat. Add the fusilli and broccoli. Fold in the cheese mixture, stirring gently. Add more reserved water to loosen the mixture, as needed.
  5. Serve with additional parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper and black pepper, to taste.

sincerelylaurenaldi-7409

sincerelylaurenaldi-7415

sincerelylaurenaldi-7452

sincerelylaurenaldi-7470

sincerelylaurenaldi-7524

sincerelylaurenaldi-7575

sincerelylaurenaldi-7692

 

sincerelylaurenaldi-7659

Quick and Easy Chicken and Dumplings

What You’ll Need: 

  • Carlini Cooking Spray
  • 1 1/2 cups of Kirkwood Grilled Chicken Strips, chopped
  • 2 10.5-ounce cans Fit & Active Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 14.5 ounces Happy Harvest Cut Green Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 ounces Happy Harvest Sliced Carrots, drained and rinsed
  • 15.25 ounces Happy Harvest Whole Kernel Corn, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 ounces Happy Harvest Whole Potatoes, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Ground Black Pepper
  • 16 ounces Bake House Creations Jumbo Flaky Biscuits

What To Do: 

  1. Preheat oven to 450˚. Coat a 13×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, mushroom soup, green beans, carrots, corn, potatoes and pepper.
  3. Cut biscuits into quarters.
  4. Pour mushroom soup mixture into prepared pan, and top with cut biscuits.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with foil, return to oven for a additional 13 minutes. Serve immediately.

sincerelylaurenaldi-7261

sincerelylaurenaldi-7273

sincerelylaurenaldi-7297

sincerelylaurenaldi-7313

sincerelylaurenaldi-7355

sincerelylaurenaldi-7498

sincerelylaurenaldi-7507

sincerelylaurenaldi-7660

All photos taken by Ana of AnaPhoto