diy michael phelps, nicole & boomer costume

Looking for a super easy, super fabulous, super 2016 Halloween costume???? Well you can call off the search. I, and one kick-butt (willing) couple, are proud to present Michael Phelps, his fiancé Nicole and Boomer Phelps.

Gosh I love Halloween.

DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer Costumes

Here is what you are going to need:

Michael Phelps:



  • baby doll (unless you have a real baby)
  • white onesie
  • navy track pants
  • white duct tape (to wrap around the next item you need – the domes)
  • styrofoam domes (Cover domes in tape, hot glue to each side of baby’s head. Do not do this on a real baby. You can either purchase white headphones and attach star stickers or purchase the real Boomer headphones here.)
  • black ribbon (Band for headphones. Hot glue to the inside of each dome.)
  • star stickers (To attach to headphones and baby wrap.)
  • 1.5 yards of red stretchy fabric, cut in half lengthwise and attached by sewing or hot glue on one end of each piece together, making one lone length of fabric. (This is for the baby wrap. Learn how to tie wrap here. Attach white stars to front after wrapped. If using a real baby please use an actual -safe- baby wrap.)


Of course it helps to have killer looks and personality like these two:
DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer CostumesGame face. Nailed it.
DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer Costumes Kelly is actually blonde. (A smoking’ hot one.) Can you believe how much she looks like Nicole??!!DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer Costumes What Olympic dreams are made of!DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer CostumesLucky for me, Kelly and Adam brought along their wonderful children. Who also happen to have eager participation type attitudes. (My favorite kind of people.) I can’t get over these four. They are so awesome!

DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer Costumes DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer CostumesFamily goals!

DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer CostumesAnd of course we can’t forget Boomer…the most laid back baby I have ever photographed.

DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer CostumesA HUGE THANK YOU to Adam, Kelly, Sofia and Sam! I knew you guys would rock this out but I had no idea you’d make my Halloween costume dreams come true!!!! Thank you for being so freaking fantastic! A million times THANK YOU!

Alright you guys, the Halloween posts have begun! Don’t forget I want to see YOUR take on Halloween. Whether it’s decor or costumes, tag #ppjhalloween on any and all social media. You have no idea how happy it makes me to see your posts! So keep the coming! Cheers to Halloween! EEK!!!

Brandy J





DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer Costumes
Posted in costumes, diy, halloween, holidays | Tagged | 2 Comments

overnight peach french toast

Baked Peach French ToastI am not one to ignore the good stuff to move on to other good stuff. There will be no decking the halls before Thanksgiving, (nor Halloween – I know some of you do that…you crazy people) and there will be no pumpkin latte sipping in 80º weather. Call me old fashioned but I like to savor what’s good now, and enjoy what’s good for the later….later.

So, no pumpkin french toast today. But I do have a peach version that is pretty darn fantastic. (Even if you’re sitting in your house eating pumpkin donuts, sipping on apple cider and contemplating where to put the tree….)

Baked Peach French Toast Baked Peach French ToastJettie is getting so good at this syrup pouring gig it is difficult to post just one. She used to stick her finger in everything I shot and complain about having to wait to eat it. Now of course her brother fills that role…at least I’ve got Jettie as a sound assistant now though. [Until she starts asking for income, then on my own again.]

Baked Peach French Toast
Baked Peach French ToastJust a couple of siblings eating french toast for dinner on a weekday. We do this a lot when Sticky works late or is out of town. It’s so much easier to get through dinner solo when I feed them something that makes them squeal. May not be the healthiest but sometimes sanity comes before the offsprings’ health, am I right?! [insert worst mom ever]

Baked Peach French ToastI know the title says “overnight” but you can totally make this and throw it in the oven right away. The flavors will not be as melded together but it’s bread, peaches and sugar…there is no going wrong there. I do highly recommend using the freshest peaches you can find. There is nothing like the taste of a peach in the prime of it’s season…that’s right, put down the pumpkin and pick up the peaches.


Brandy J



overnight peach french toast
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 9
  • ½ day old baguette (the whole thing if it's small), torn into large bite size pieces (or any heartier bread)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½c milk
  • ¼c granulated sugar
  • ½tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1½tsp vanilla
  • 2c diced fresh peaches (peeled)
  • 1tbsp cinnamon
  • 1tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼c chopped pecans
  1. Grease a 9X9 baking dish with butter. Place bread tightly in dish.
  2. Beat eggs in a large bowl and then add milk, 2tbsp of the sugar, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add half of this mixture over the bread, pressing the bread with a spoon to make sure it soaks up all the goodness.
  3. Place all of the peaches on top of the bread and pour remaining egg mixture over. Mix remaining sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the peaches. Cover and place in fridge overnight. (or simply preheat the oven when you begin recipe and bake right away - the flavors do meld more overnight but it is not crucial if you are in a rush.)
  4. Preheat the oven 400ºF. Take the dish out of the fridge and allow to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. Dot with the butter and evenly distribute the pecans on top. Cover with foil and place in the oven on the middle rack and turn down temp to 350ºF. Bake for 25 minutes, uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 or until the top begins to brown. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Baked Peach French Toast
Posted in breakfast, brunch, recipes, something sweet | Tagged | Leave a comment

and then there’s kindergarten

When we dropped Jettie off at preschool last year I can remember feel anxious but not so much sad. There was no intense desire to sit in the parking lot and cry. (Which of course made me feel like a bad mom because aren’t we all suppose to react the same exact way and sob with every milestone, beg for our babies back, and rethink the decision to support our husband being snipped, otherwise we are evil and crazy and unfit mothers???!!!! ……uuuuuggggghhh! Breathing….rant over. Sorry about that.)

Last May though, they threw a graduation cap on my kids head and said “She’s off to Kindergarten!” I thought I was having a heart attack. All I could think was please, please, please, never ever end summer 2016.

But it did, and today was the day she officially walked back through that doorway as a Kindergartner. I spent a lot of time over the summer dreading this morning, wishing it away. Yet somehow it came and felt good, almost easy and most definitely right. She walked in a lot excited, a little nervous and with those eyebrows cautiously up – it’s her body language for when she knows something is going to be awesome. It’s one of my favorite things that she does.

You guys, we could not be more proud of our slightly weird (and I mean that in a very good way), out of this world special and incredibly sensitive, artistic human we created. Milestones most definitely can put lumps in the throat but they bring way more joy to the heart. I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet that I get to witness all of hers.


We had to get Bingham in a couple. He had his 1st day at a new sitter, that’s exciting stuff for a 2 year old!

kindergarten_blog_2 kindergarten_blog_4(This post was sponsored by Mickey Mouse….no, but really, I did not intentionally do that.)

[Jettie picked out her shirt and skirt from Zara, shoes are Nike and jacket is Old Navy. Bing is wearing last year’s clearance Old Navy Mickey shirt (linked to a different one) and the rest from H&M boys.]

Happy 1st days to all the parents! Whether you are holding back the tears, letting them fall like Niagra or popping the champagne the moment you step back in the house…on some level I get you. We are in this together after all.


Brandy J





Posted in Kids, kids style, personal, the rammels | Tagged | Leave a comment

chicago style

The plan this Spring was to visit a quaint town up North and spend a quiet weekend on Michigan Lake. Well, per usual, our plans changed.

Our first problem was in the fact that better planners than us had the same plan…which meant there was little left to book by the time we started looking (and of course what was left was big $$$$$). Secondly, I wasn’t feeling the lake scene by mid-summer. Not that lakes aren’t fab – they 100% are, I wish I was sitting by one right this second in fact. But I was needing some city scene so we opted for a weekend in Chicago.

Was it perfect? We had a bullheaded, ornery 2 year old with us. Sooooo the answer there would be no. But it was very much just what our family needed. (Admittedly, for how much chaos Bing caused, I have to give him credit in that he spurred just as many smiles.)

chicago_12 days before we left I had an adjustment at the chiropractor. We were discussing the weekend and he filled me in on a little tip about how they roll into Chicago. Usually we drive all the way and pay a crazy amount of money to park. (I mean crazy. The total usually ends up being another night at your hotel room.) Thanks do Dr Foster, we parked FOR FREE  (say what???!!!) at the Dune Park Station and took the train into Chi-town for less than $35 round trip. The kids thought it was awesome, there was no traffic to deal with and NO CAR. Even better, our stop was literally a 5 minute walk to the Shedd Aquarium and a less than 10 minute walk to our hotel. This was by far the saving grace of our trip.

chicago_2 chicago_3This trip was for all of us but really it was for Jettie. She is our wanderlust child. Always talking about places we read in books or she sees on tv. (Oh I get it sweet girl.) There is a great deal of guilt inside of me that we do not travel as often as I’d like…but if I get hung up on that then I am focusing on what we don’t have instead of what we do. And that’s pretty lame. So for this getaway I told myself to relax, enjoy and simply let her lead they way. Again, it was not pure perfection, but her cup was filled to the brim from spending the weekend in the city with her favorite people. (Maybe it was perfect.)

chicago_4 chicago_5And then there’s this guy. His cup is always filled, overflowing in fact.


We had no set itinerary except that we were going to vista the aquarium upon arrival. This is how Sticky and I have always traveled and it just works for us. (I will list places/things/eateries that we ended up seeing below.)

My thought was I’d shoot gobs of gorgeous Chicago images with my “big girl camera” but that didn’t happen (which is why there is this mismatched collection of images). I did however go to town with the phones, of course. (Hence the obnoxious collage below.)
chicago_7 chicago_8

Things of note that made the trip more, shall I say, memorable.

  • We discovered our stroller had a blown tire once we got to the train station. We found a bike store with just the right size replacement, thankfully, but we had to get to Chicago, do the aquarium, then hotel first. If you have ever pushed a stroller with a blown tire you will understand the fun in that.
  • Bingham did not fall asleep till after 10:30 the first night. Woke up at 4AM with his shoes in hand ready to leave. Getting to him lay down was not an option so we went the iPad route. That worked for about 10 minutes and then onto to body slamming in bed it was. (We are at about 4:30AM now.) He worked up a grumble during that activity…and it was a big one. The diaper and pj pants were no match for it and we ended up with poo smeared all over our bed. All before 5AM. We kept looking at each other and laughing because what else are you going to do? (Sleep if you’re Jettie apparently.)
  • On the last night, we decided to take the kids for a bite and then back to the hotel for chill time. Bing did not want to ride in the stroller after dinner (you know, since it had been fixed and all). Instead I carried him which was not all that bad until I felt the wetness on my arm. A blowout again. Twice in 24 hours. He was wearing white shorts too of course. (See 2nd to the last row, all the way to the right image.) Way to vacation big guy!


Thank goodness for cute kids, fun cities, beer at lunch and my husband because I know I could not have done that weekend solo. Believe it or not I am ready to do it again!

How we got there:

South Shore Line

Where we stayed:

Hilton Downtown Chicago

Where we visited:

Shedd Aquarium

Buckingham Fountain/Grant Park

Where we Ate (all kid friendly):



Flacos Tacos

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap (all good but THIS was a fave)

Sugar Bliss

Where we shopped:

Chicago Bicycle Company

Zara (Michigan Ave – Jettie picked our her 1st day of Kindergarten outfit here)


Brandy J

Posted in adventure, personal, the rammels, travel | Tagged | Leave a comment

blueberry margaritas

blueberry margaritasTypically we bring home blueberries and the kids suck them down so fast we have to hide a stash for planned recipes. This year, for some odd reason, the kids are all “meh” over the blueberries. (Peaches are their thang now apparently.) Of course this change of tune is fine by us, seeing how we never had the opportunity to make margaritas out of the blues.

There is one problem though. We are going to need more blueberries….for more blueberry margaritas. Holy crap these guys are good!

blueberry margaritas blueberry margaritasCan we talk about the color? They say you eat with your eyes first, or in this case drink, and if eyes could talk I believe they would be saying “YUM!”. The blueberries blend into this most beautiful shade with that pop of green from the lime wedge making it a real showstopper. This may be one of the prettiest cocktails yet!

blueberry margaritasAs fancy as this margarita looks I swear it is as easy as they come to whip up. All you need are the ingredients and the ability to blend. You can do this in less than 5 minutes – no problem. May take you 10 minutes when you’re on your 3rd batch but that’s understandable. (And no one will notice if they are on their 3rd batch as well.)


Brandy J


blueberry margaritas
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 2cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ½cup silver tequila
  • ¼cup triple sec or orange liquor
  • ½cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2tbsp simple syrup or honey (more to taste)
  • lime wedges, blueberries for garnish (optional)
  • salt for rimming (optional)
  1. Place blueberries, tequila, liquor, lime juice and preferred sweetener in a blender and puree on high until smooth. Taste and add more sweetener if necessary.
  2. Fill 2 glasses with ice. (If you like salt...take a lime wedge and run it along top edge of glass. Dip in salt then fill the glasses with ice.) Divide margarita evenly among glasses and garnish with lie wedges and blueberries if desired. Cheers!

blueberry margaritas


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