Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So much stuff, and a fair amount of time

Yes, my blog friends, I had 5 glorious days off for Thanksgiving! It was fabulous!
We cooked, ate, decorated, shopped, had coffee with friends, worshipped, camped, and enjoyed even more time with great people. I have to admit that I have spent today pursuing other Internet interests- catching up on my blog reading, FB, budgeting and paying bills. I did not leave enough time for a real post :(
But- I have lots of pictures and things to share- tomorrow!

A big congrats to a fellow blogger, who welcomed her first child even sooner than expected- check out her blog
here. Congrats Ashley and Nathan!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


My 5-day weekend starts in T- 7 hours. So excited! tonight will be food prep, tomorrow up early for cooking, then a big fat lunch then decorating a tree for grandma then dessert and games with friends. So although tomorrow will probably be too busy to feel like a vacation, Friday, it's on! I don't think I plan on getting out to the stores on black Friday this year. But I do plan on relaxing, decorating our house for Christmas and possibly camping (weather permitting). Anyway- Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I will be thankful

Today I am thankful for:

1- The saving grace of Jesus Christ. It is from Him that all my other blessings come.
2- My wonderful husband and the blessing of being married. It is the greatest gift I have ever received, by far.
3- My family both far and near, new and old. Now I'm blessed with even more people to call this :)
4- My job- When so many do not have one, I am blessed to have one that I like and that is fulfilling. I have good hours and it's usually not stressful. I meet a lot of unique people and am privy to some interesting situations. And at times I can be the bright spot in someone's day or help them to understand some very confusing things.
5- My church- Even though there have been many changes throughout the years, I still don't feel like any other place is "home."
6- My friends- Many have come and gone through the years, and the amount may dwindle as I get older, but I'm blessed to always have some girlfriends to lean on and talk to. It's also fun getting to make friends with other couples now.
7- My dogs- Even though my first one passed away this year, the Lord appointed 2 new canines into our lives that we really get a lot of joy from. Frustration at times too, but they are truly our "substitute" children for now.
8- Blogging- I have really enjoyed my foray into this new world. Keeping up with the lives of random strangers and old friends and acquaintances has brought me satisfaction, tears and smiles.
9- Dave Ramsey- We are faithfully working the plan and will be debt free soon. Cannot wait for this! If not for him I would have likely been "normal" my whole life.
10- eBay- So very useful and profitable to us for both buying and selling.

Now, you write one too. This is especially useful when thinking about all the stress or possibly even depression during the holidays.
Wishing you a peaceful enjoyable time with friends or family this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend Fun

So I feel like my blog is getting boring again. But what to do?

This weekend was long and fun! Mainly because it started at 12:01 am Friday with a trip to see the latest Harry Potter with a long-time friend and the hubby. It was just as good as all the others have been! Unfortunately we didn't see any kids dressed in character :(
I put in 5 hours at work that day, had a little nap, then darling husband and I went to dinner at a new-ish local place, the Five Sisters Blues Cafe. John got a $20 gift certificate for $10 through Groupon. It was nice, good atmosphere, good soul/Southern food. John had down-home turkey and dressing with cheese grits and black-eyed peas. I had ribs with same said grits and pineapple slaw. It was perty good. John LOVED it :)
Then we met up with 4 friends and walked around the last Gallery Night for this year. There weren't any special themes for this one, but we enjoyed seeing bizarre overpriced art items while listening to wanna-be's lend their voice to the open air, mostly fouling it. Lol. Not all the performers were bad. We even trekked all the way down to the pier to enjoy the nippy sea air, talk and oogle at the mega-boats and yachts and dream.

Saturday we went yard-sailing again. Mom tagged along. It was an average sort-of day. Nothing hugely special. John bought 4 Furby's. Apparently they still sell on eBay. Weird. I got a new pair of black round-toe  slingback heels for $1 (Old Navy brand) that I really like. And a pair of Nike Shocks for $2. And a Seminoles hat for $1. John got an Adidas long-sleeved Clima365 pullover. But we still had a nice time. Got a lot of small random things. Then after a nice, much-needed 2 hour nap, I high-tailed it out of the house with the kiddos to catch the last bit of daylight at the dog park. They did pretty good. There were a lot of big dogs this time so they didn't have anyone to play with really. But they did run a round with a Vizsla a little bit. Saturday night I made dinner and then did a late-night run to WalMart to prepare for Thanksgiving. Thankfully it was pretty empty there, YAY!

Sunday- I sat next to John this Sunday! Because I sat up on the platform behind the computer monitors with him. We had an abbreviated (no sermon) Thanksgiving service. Came home, made lunch, watched way too many episodes of 24, then got a wild hair and went out and bought our Christmas tree!!! Our first tree together :) It's sitting in a bucket all tied up still, soaking for 24-hrs, as directed. I can't wait to put it in the stand and let all the branches bloom.

I swear he was happy- he just hates being forced to pose :)

Louis at Lowe's said this was the first time anyone asked him to take their pic with their tree :) But he was a good sport. And yes, it was 70 degrees, so a green t-shirt and maroon cami is as festive as we got :)

Our middle seat passenger on the way home :)

Speaking of 24- man- this show is heart-pounding! I've never seen any, so John has us watching season 1 through Netflix, with all inappropriate-ness filtered by our ClearPlay, tuvm! We are 8 hours in. I can't believe it takes an entire season to get through 1 day/story. I am used to having to watch 1- 3 episodes to figure out the ending. Anyway, it still is really good, if a bit too gruesome at times.

A little eBay update- the pair of Toms I got for $2- sold for $28! And best yet- the Louis shoes I bought for $1, after re-listing from a non-paying-bidder problem, sold for $66. That's $20 more than they sold for the first time! Wahoo!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Love to get Christmas Cards!!!!

And I bet many of you do too!

My mom and I have sent out photo Christmas Cards for a few years now. The self-timer on my camera has been invaluable! My favorite cards to receive either have photos printed on them or in them. I just love to see how everyone is growing or changing! And if you throw in a newsletter, many kudos to you! I love those too but don't always take the time to write, edit and publish those.
This year I was thinking that John and I would forgo the cards in order to save money. I was kinda sad cause this would be our first Christmas as a married couple with 2 new doggies, and I'd love to share a greeting and photo with everyone!
But then I found out about this! 50 free cards for bloggers!

These are 2 I really like. I like ones that remind friends and family the reason for Christmas: Christ !

Shutterfly also has lots of other great photo products! I made a great photo calendar for John and I's first year of marriage using photos of us and putting a line from 1st Corinthians each month along with important dates. You could make one too! Like these:


Hold the phone!!!! The card above is soooooo me! I may get it. Reminds me such much of our wedding invitations and colors! I do LOVE monograms! Head here to pick up your cards!

Early Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Recipes for low cal alfredo, pasta bake and skillet taters

Alfredo Sauce

2 Tbsp light butter or margarine
2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour (any flour really)
2 cups fat free milk or soy milk
1 Tbsp garlic powder (more or less to your taste)
8 oz shredded (not grated) Parmesan cheese

Over med-high heat make a roux with the flour and butter. Don't brown. Add 2 cups milk and whisk until smooth. After heated through, add 2 additional cups of milk. Heath through. Add Parmesan and garlic, stirring with a spatula to keep from sticking to bottom of pot. I takes a while for the mixture to thicken. I raised the heat on mine to a low boil/ high simmer for a few min then reduced it to med-low and just let it go for awhile. I also added salt and pepper to taste. 200 calories per 1/2 cup of sauce.

I used that sauce to make this:

That's just regular spaghetti I had on hand. I sauteed chicken breast on the stove top with garlic salt, pepper and a little soy sauce. Then I added in thawed sweat peas with the chicken until they were heated through. I have to admit, it was good. I'm having those leftover for dinner tonight :)

Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Pasta Bake
Very quick and easy!
1 9 oz package frozen creamed spinach (thawed)
1 14 oz (standard size) can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained (I also crumbled mine further to avoid chunks)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
8oz of a short pasta (I used penne but an even shorter one is recommended)
I used WW penne but didn't like it.

Set oven to broil. Boil pasta until tender, drain. Add in all remaining ingredients (but only 1 cup mozzarella) and stir to combine. Place in a shallow boiler-proof (I used a Pyrex glass casserole dish). Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place under broiler until cheese is golden and browning in spots.
IMO- this needs more cheese or like some evap milk or heavy cream or FF sour cream or something. It tasted a bit too healthy to me :) Needed to be a bit creamier.

Skillet Potatoes
This is not so much a recipe but rather a method for cooking potatoes that we really enjoy

Bake potato of choice in the microwave (pierce with a fork first) until just a little underdone (needs to be able to hold it's shape when cut). We use Yukon golds or butter golds for everything! And I usually cook for about 4 min, for starters. If potatoes are still hard when squeezed, cook more. They should be firm but not hard. Cut potatoes into large bites (like quartered for small potatoes, may need to cut into more pieces for larger ones) but I try to have a piece of skin on each section. Heat iron skillet on stove to medium-high heat. Add enough canola oil to make a layer in the skillet about 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep. Enough to pan-fry the potatoes. They should sizzle when placed in pan. Put in pan in a single layer. Turn as each side sitting in the oil becomes dark golden brown. Season with salt and pepper (or whatever you want. I like a little garlic salt)
Anyway, they don't take nearly as long to cook this way (about 10 min) and are not as unhealthy as deep-fried ones. The outsides are just a little crispy and the insides are soft and tasty. We love em!

What I did this weekend

What a great one!
We all but finished the table! Three chairs still need a second coat, but that will come later. Plus I've already dinged it in some places where somehow the paint wasn't totally dry, even after 24+ hours. But here's the steps:


So that's what we did (and be we I mean me and my mom) Friday. Then hubby grilled and the 3 of us had gouda-topped burgers, skillet taters (so delish!) and raw baby carrots with spicy dip.

Saturday was fabulous! We had VIP seats to the airshow. Our town is very fortunate to be home to the Navy's precision flying team- the Blue Angels. There are 2 dedicated shows in our town each year for them, summer and fall. John won seats to their Homecoming Airshow, held on the Navy base right by our house. I've seen them lots of times, but it was so great from the VIP area. We were basically right at show center, and the parachuters landed like only 30ft in front of us. I'm so sad my camera is dead. Right now we are down to only what the phones will capture. Anyway, it was a warm sunny day and we got free food and drinks. And slight sunburns. Only in Florida!
That's the Blues parked on the right. The plane on the left was stunt airman John Goulian. He's quite a daredevil!

In the VIP section. The sun was beating on us.

The Naval Air Station Pensacola "Chalet" we got to sit in

Crazy sunburn- my shirt had a keyhole opening in the back, lol.
Saturday night we drove a friend to the airport, tried to watch Netflix but it was down, and played a little Mario Party 8 on Wii. It's pretty boring with only 2 people :)

Sunday we had another lunch guest, one of my good friends and bridesmaid, Hayley. I made a spinach/artichoke pasta recipe from Real Simple mag. I didn't like it. But they did, so that's good. I did love the grilled kielbasa. Oh it was yummy! Sunday after it was all cleaned up, John and I napped for about an hour. That was nice. The rest of the evening was very lazy for moi. Surfing the net, watching Netflix, running to the gas station for a pint of ice cream, lol, and staying up waaaaay too late reading a book. Which explains my lack of motivation to get up today. That and that I always feel like that Monday mornings!

Next post I'll share some recipes. Ttfn!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vets Day Craft

So today my mom and I bit the bullet that I have been avoiding for nearly a year. It wasn't at all as bad as I thought it would be.
I was really fortunate that my mom gave me just about all of the furniture for our living and dining rooms. Including an oak dining table that seats up to six. We've had this table a little more than 15 years in our family. It has served us well, but the finish has seen better days. It's also starting to look a bit dated and more country than my current scheme, which is a more modern black and white with touches of yellow.
I love the results of painting, but hate doing it. Today mom and I took the table on. Tomorrow we finish it off.
But there's already enough change to appreciate the finished product:

 After. Will post more when completely done

And I made a yummy dinner after all that!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weekend Update 11-06-10

Wow, this 3 days of the work week have been busy! I have been spending a lot of time out of the office working from the laptop. I have been too busy to even blog!

Last weekend was a profitable YSLing time!
And my crock pot earned it's keep this past week/weekend.
I made a batch of chili, a batch of chicken taco soup (a hit with the hubs!) and Sunday I made the quintessential crock pot dish- Pot Roast with Vegetables. I made this version. It was yummy! But if you add more veggies, add more broth, steak sauce and seasonings! We had two very good friends of ours over for Sunday lunch and enjoyed much great conversation and they introduced us to a new game that I enjoyed: Ticket to Ride. We played the Europe edition. I am now purposing to have guests to Sunday lunch more often. John and I can think of about 4 or 5 Sunday's worth of guests we'd like to catch up with or get to know better.

Saturday even though it was like 40 degrees when we woke, we decided to go ahead and get our butts out to YSL. We've heard the deals are better in the winter cause not as many people want to get out. But there are still a decent amount of places to go, because some sellers really want to avoid being out in the blistering Florida heat tending their sale for hours. I had a good time. I think I spent about $25 total. Saturday afternoon and evening we did some house chores, a little grocery shopping for Sunday and watched MI 1. I had only seen 3, and since 4 comes out soon hubs thought I should see 1 and 2. I thought the plot line was pretty good and enjoyed it.

 I splurged on this Kathy van Zeeland purse. $10. A little steep for YSL, but I really wanted it. The black fabric has the crown logo woven into it also. The polka-dot scarf with black fringe was 50 cents. The earrings were 25 cents each pair. The diamond flower looking studs are my fave. Real Austrian crystal!

I got 3 tops for a $1.50 each. The one on the left is my favorite. It's from Target originally. Then- the cream pea-style coat on the right, $3 people! I LOVE it! Great condition and from Old Navy.

The dogs got new beds- 2 for $1! But the stinkers have been bunking with us since it's been cold. Spoiled!

This week's resale finds. Toms in great condition, size 10, $2. Coach neck scarf, 25 cents, Costa del Mar sunglasses cases, $1 each. Not yet listed, so we shall see!
The pair of Louis Vuitton shoes I got for $1- they sold for $45! Then the stinkin' bidder didn't pay. I hate that! We have a second chance offer going out to the next-highest bidder. If they take it they'll go for $44.

Then Friday, we had church. It was sooo cold that night! But I did enjoy the chance to wear my skinny jeans, boots and a scarf!
The hubby and I back in the TV room where he lives during church, lol :) My how I love this man!

My sweet momma bought me these lovelies!
So that was the weekend, in reverse : ) 

aaaaaand- sweet hubby is working on paring down the pile of for-sale items that were pretty much taking over our office. This makes me so happy! All the really large items are gone thank goodness! The room still looks a bit like a war zone, but at least an end is in sight! : ) From now on we buy small things : )

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crazay fall weather

So in the area I live in the weather this time of year can be highly volatile. This week was just such! Monday and Tuesday were temperate, average, albeit still to warm. Like 80's. Then yesterday someone opened the flood gates and we had wind, TONS of rain, a lot of lightning and thunder. Then the temps began to drop. Then it rained more this morning and got more windy. Now the sun has come out and it's in the 70's. But it's supposed to be down to the 40's tonight and down the the upper 30's tomorrow night and stay pretty cool all weekend.

In this part of the state- there definitely comes a time when you can put away you "winter clothes" but there is never a time to put away you summer ones. On Christmas you could need a sweater, or you might need a t-shirt.
Ah, life in the South.

I know this is boring, but at this exact moment I can't think of anything else to blog about. Work is good, life is good, God is great. Lol. But in the morning John and I both get our paramedical exams for insurance. I am sure John would appreciate your prayers since he HATES needles :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I want YOU!

To go vote! John and I went together.
He was thrilled to get up earlier than normal ;)

I've been known to coordinate my outfits to John's or for "occasions" even if they're not special. Two years ago for the presidential election I wore a navy dress, red cardigan and pearls. This year I made the theme a little more subtle. I also selected John's clothes to be in shades of blue, lol, and to be a little more dressed up than he usually is for work :)
Denim skirt, white hoodie, maroon cami, red velvet wedges, pearl studs n bracelet

Anyway- we want YOU! to go vote!

Monday, November 1, 2010

PS from the Tampa weekend

Just got a few more pics from this weekend I have to share:

From the wedding Saturday- this is the bouquet I made for the bride. Florals were done by the bride, bridesmaid and myself. But I got the honor of making the most important one :) I thought it turned out very nice :)
Professional pic to make it look fab!
Sunday we went shooting and hubby took these:

I'm a pretty decent shot- beware! : )
And now I'm throwing in some random pics of the kids
Ernie's pig expression. Too funny.

Ernie and mom happy and chillin

As soon as I get up, the dogs jump up to cuddle with dad

Eby clearly loves her costume

The faces of misery

Ernie loves his too

My handsome husband

Ernie's da man- full of testosterone!

Don't worry- I keep it waxed : )

What I did this weekend (w/more Recipes)

I need to get some more pics to do Part 2. Oh the bummers of not having your own camera.
Got em ladies and gents! See end of post

But Friday and Saturday included a lot of cooking. I've been getting quite a bit of satisfaction lately out of trying new recipes. This weekend I made hummus (the 5-minute one referenced here). Forgot to take a pic. I wasn't a huge fan of the texture. A little too thick. But that may be because I used a stick blender. Maybe it would be better with the tahini.
I also made Chicken Enchiladas Verde, but we did not like the topping (neither one of us are fans of cilantro) so we used sour cream and salsa.
The filling

I used 3 of these since I only had 7 flour tortillas

The topping we didn't eat :)
Down and dirty recipe for these:
2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken (can use a rotisserie one, boil it, grill it, whatever)
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
1/2 cup diced green onion
10 flour tortillas or wraps (just need to be flexible)
1/2 Tbsp of fat free half and half per tortilla (so like 5 Tbsp)
1 cup tomatillos, diced
1 cup fresh cilantro, diced
1 cup fat free sour cream
(I would do it the easy way and use 1 cup sour cream and 1 or 2 cans of salsa verde [green salsa]. The small cans are sold in the ethnic section of most supermarkets)

Fill each tortilla with a rounded 1/3 cup scoop of the chicken/onion/cheese mix. Sprinkle 1/2 Tbsp of FF half and half over it. Roll up and place seam side down in a greased dish. Bake at 375 for 20 min or until slightly browned and filling is melting and thoroughly heated. Top with the sauce once out of the oven. Makes 10.

Then we carved this- our first one together! John said we could have a girly one! :)
We carved it on the tile floor in front of this- our first one of this season
Then we did this with the seeds:
The bottom half is spicy- top half is salted with a hint of garlic
Hubby had never had them before and thankfully liked them :) In our experience- 20 min at 350 gives a good roast. But I checked them every 5 min after 10 had elapsed to make sure they didn't burn.

Then Saturday was more cooking. We had a get-together to go to that night. So I made this:
2 cans of crescent rolls flattened out to 12"w by 15" length. Cuts 1.5" apart and 3" deep towards the center

Take each strip and twist once as you fold it in to the middle

Fold up ends

Can you tell my oven bakes a little un-evenly? But it tasted fabulous!
Chicken Broccoli Braid
4 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (I boiled mine)
1 cup chopped broccoli (floret part only)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup mayo
1 Tbsp dill weed (or 2 Tbsp dill seasoning mix)
I chopped it all up in a food processor and made the filling 1 day in advance
Mix well in a bowl
Also need 3 egg whites and salt
Roll out 2 cans crescent rolls to 12x15 on foil or a baking stone. (Transfer to a baking sheet if just using foil)
Perform the cuts as pictured above (width of uncut area should be about 6 inches) and lay mix down the center. Fold cuts toward center, twisting once to make a faux braid. Brush with egg whites and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Can be served warm or cool. This is so tasty, if there are more than 4 people you may wanna make 2 :)

Then I made a "just add" mix of apple-cinnamon muffins for the new neighbors. They haven't been home when we are to give them out just yet :(
This is where I took the broccoli braid-
The couple in the middle- the wife is a long-time friend of mine. They just got married in July and this was the first get-together in their new house!
Sunday evening was our Fall Festival at church. Mom and I manned our "trunk" while John had to work :(
He was still at church but occupied with other obligations. Thank goodness for mom. Could not have handled 2 dogs and a bunch of little kids wanting candy. Mom took a pic of all of us I've yet to see. I will post these once I get them. They are now posted below
Overall it was a fun time. Can't wait to see what I whip up this weekend! :) I'm recipe obsessed!

Our trunk

Prisoner Eby

Sheriff Ernie

She loves kids

Wacky tacky country girl

The fam