Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 and Christmas Preview

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

We had a nice and relaxing time. I tried out several new recipes, and here they are to share with you!
Creamy Pumpkin Trifle
Mini Pumpkin Pies
Southern Cornbread Stuffing
Skinny Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Easy Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

We also got almost all of our Christmas decorating done. Just need to put up lights outside.

John and I cut our own tree for the first time. Neither of us had done this before. But after a trip to Lowe's that ended in apathy due to the trees already looking a little dry and the height we wanted being so pricey, we decided to give it a try. The tree farm has been in our city for years, I'd just never been. But when we researched and found out ALL trees are $30, regardless of size, we were curious. So we got there right when they opened. We looked at lots and lots of trees. I was disappointed because the only large full trees were Sand Pines. I've always preferred firs or spruces. I thought a pine would be scrubby and prickly.

Well after much debate, we hacked one down. When we got it home it was about 8 inches too tall for our ceiling! But after a little trimming it fits great and looks great. I'm actually really pleased with it. It has a nice green color. So green it almost looks fake. The long needles are surprisingly soft and once we got it setup, it has not dropped many needles at all. This may be an annual tradition for us!
It was about 9-10 feet tall!

All gussied up

Feathers in the tree! I was so excited to use all the new ornaments I bought on post-Christmas sales last year!

"Our First Christmas" ornament

And here's what I've done around the house so far:

I've already starting getting my Christmas cards out too! I'm on the ball this year!

I have one to share with all of you, but I'm holding off til it's actually December! Lol

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I hope you all have a blessed holiday filled with the ones you love (be they family or friends!) and a grateful heart.

I know I'll be enjoying some much needed or at least very much wanted R&R. I have a few "projects" planned, but one of them is cooking, so I guess it does not really count. I'm contributing four dishes to our feast this year.

My mom continues to be out of town for work. But, her work is fairly close to NYC. Close enough that for Thanksgiving she is taking the train into NYC for the day and going to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! How fun! I've never been to NYC and neither has she.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend Update 11-19-11

Hi all!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! I had a fairly busy but productive one. And just as I sit down to write this post, I realize I don't have much of anything in the way of photos. I don't have my phone and I can't get my Picasa account to do uploads right now. Boo!

I do have this one though!
Aren't these so cute! I've not been posting each week's yard sale finds. But I got the boots for $3! Then I got the flats for $7 at a thrift store. A little pricey for thrift if you ask me (they're just cheap-o Charlotte Russe) but I liked them so much I gave in. Too bad the right one is rubbing my heel :( Gonna have to buy some pads.

Anyway, Friday when I got home it was a whirlwind of activity. The carpet cleaners had arrived and we were unprepared! They were extremely pleasant about it though. They did not mind 4 dogs losing the minds at the sight of visitors and big machines. I also had a friend arrive in the midst of it all. She was just picking up something then ended up staying for awhile. We were scouting out bridesmaids dresses online for her upcoming nuptials! John went to an auction and I stayed behind. I ended up cleaning and intermittently paying attention to Say Yes to the Dress :)
When John got home around nine we ate dinner .

Saturday we only were out YSLing for about 2 hours when it started to rain. So we headed home. I was exceptionally cranky about rising early that day, so I took a nap for my own good and everyone else's. The rest of the day was a blur of activity. I painted the inside of our new backdoor, cleaned more, did laundry, went grocery shopping, put up the indoor Christmas decor (still have tree and outside light to go) and got busy in the kitchen doing prep for Sunday lunch. I did not go to bed til about 1:30 am.

Sunday I had a wonderful time at church. Then my friend and her fiance who is in town visiting came over for lunch. I laid out all my hard work and goodies and we enjoyed a feast!
Then we went out and I did my best to get some engagement photos for them. I had a great time practicing. I wish I could share but first I have to share with the couple! Soon though.
We ended the night by having dinner at a friend's house. After I ate I passed out on their couch. That's the result of staying up til 1:30 am the night before!
I did "make up" a really tasty desert we brought to dinner:
Use skinny taste's recipe for Pumpkin Pie Dip (1/2 batch!), make a spice cake according to mix directions, and 1 tub Cool Whip (I used "Free"). Crumble cake and layer all ingredients. I was a trifle of sorts and a very good way for me to use up all that leftover tip! I sprinkled some Splenda brown sugar mix on the top too. Very tasty!

Hope you are all looking forward to Thanksgiving! I know I am!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weekend Update 11-12-11

After 5 glorious days in the wilderness, without phone service, I am back to reality.

John is always glad to get back into a routine and work, but I maintain my stance that I could live on eternal vacation and be perfectly happy.

I didn't take many photos of our trip, but suffice it to say a lot of time was spent doing nothing. And that does not make for interesting photography subject matter. But it does make for a relaxing time.

Every day went like this: Wake up, eat breakfast, lounge around, maybe take a walk, help in the kitchen a little, read, take a nap, converse with friends, shower, eat dinner, have church service, eat more food, talk more and get ready for bed. Only two exceptions to this- one day we all played softball (or stick ball in this case) and one night we built a bonfire to gather round.

We also spent all five days in a tent. Most people sissied out and brought campers or RV's. But not us! We are too poor for that! Lol. We surprisingly fared well even in 28 degree lows where we would awake to frost/ice on our tent. When you've got 2 sleeping bags and two heavy blankets, each other for snuggling and one of you (me) gets increasingly hotter the longer you sleep, you can make it just fine. The only tough part was that even with our egg crates, the ground was pretty solid. The last 2 nights we borrowed a foam pad and that made things much much more enjoyable.
The dirt road leading into camp

Our little postage-stamp sized tent. Our queen air mattress doesn't fit in it!
One thing we did more than enough of was eat. Oh my word, the amount and types of food that was prepared! It was like eating in Paula Deen's kitchen for 5 days. Unfortunately I gained 3 pounds :( We are back to healthy eating this week for sure! A 5 day butter/grease/sugar fest tasted good, but it does not feel good. Just some of the food- lasagna, meatballs, spaghetti, nachos with homemade chips, homemade corn muffins and sourdough bread, fried chicken, macaroni, scalloped potatoes, collards, coleslaw, potato salad, brisket, pulled pork, homemade rolls, corn, peas and beans, rice, queso, black beans and of course daily breakfast of grits, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, cereal and sometimes oatmeal. Then the desserts, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, smores with homemade graham crackers and marshmallows, cheesecake, German chocolate cake, carrot cake, chocolate cake with buttercream, vanilla pudding, key lime trifle, homemade doughnuts, store bought donuts, and lots of leftover Halloween candy. It was RIDICULOUS! All very tasty, and I think I need their grit recipe, but so so fattening!

Anyway, it's sad I'm such a fatty that I devoted a large paragraph to food. Moving on.

We also had church service each night. Despite the rock hard pews and frigid temps, God met us each time. I am so surprised at where God has led us to. I never thought I would get anything from singing hymns a Capella or just with a piano, listening to "screaming" preaching or listening to anyone who wanted to share get up a sing a song, talented or not. BUT- I am truly learning that God moves because of the heart and intent of his people, no matter the location, music or attire. I have felt His presence in my little white church worshiping to a beautiful gospel trio just as much as I did singing the latest Jesus Culture or Hillsong music with a full band in a large sanctuary. And I so much enjoy getting to know my Pastor so well and feeling comfortable around him.

If you think about it, pray for me. Pray that I would be content with my place and pace in life right now. I have so much to be thankful for. But there is one goal I've wanted my whole life and I've yet to attain it. In camp our Pastor encouraged us to begin believing God for something, really asking for and praying for it. So that's what I'm gonna do. But I'm so impatient. It can't be done without His help and blessing, so I'm going to have to wait on His time for sure. But I pray it will be soon!

A few photos:
Mr K, our Pastor and John gathered around the wood-burning stove. Which they bought this year praise God!

I just love railroad tracks for some reason

The "young folks" took a walk in the woods

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What we've been eating lately!

Ok for awhile I've been trying all kinds of new recipes. All but a few have been a big hit, and even those that weren't a hit were still good!

Maybe you are looking for some new (healthy!) dishes to try! Read along and you can choose a recipe you know has been tested by two fairly picky eaters :)

And if you want to know where I find my recipes, all are exclusively from: This lady is wonderful and so beautiful too! She's definitely one of those ladies I'd love to look just like if I could. Her insides are pretty too! She loves Jesus and often shares about him on her blog. All her recipes are healthy and delicious! She does a lot of great creative things with desserts. Most of the recipes I've tried were not sweets, since they were for dinner.

My newest go-to is My great friend introduced me to her! She has a TON of recipes in every meal genre :) You can even choose recipes based on the amount of Weight Watchers points. There are several new recipes a week and she's been doing it for quite a while so there's a large database to choose from!

So here's what I've tried so far from Dashing Dish:
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Icing
Pretzel Crusted Honey Mustard Chicken Strips
those were sooo good. You can even subsitute Agave nectar for the honey and it tastes just as great!
Ten Minute Taco Salad
Chicken Enchilada Pockets
I recommend going a little easier on the salsa/taco sauce. It can easily overhwelm the cheese flavor.
Greek-Style Feta Burgers 
OMG- so so good!

And from Skinny Taste:
Pumpkin Butter
I would make a 1/2 recipe- it makes a ton and you only use a little at a time
Chicken Cordon Bleu 
But good luck getting the chicken to make a complete seal around the stuffing! Was delicious anyway!
Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili
Was not so much a fan of this
Sesame Encrusted Baked Chicken Tenders
Kale and Potato Soup with Turkey Sausage
Kinda like Zuppa Toscana!
Potato Leek Soup
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Do not fear this gourd! It was super yummy!
Turkey and Black Bean Enchiladas
Pumpkin Pie Dip
I would make a 1/2 recipe of this too. Original recipe serves about 20-30.

Now get to cookin!!!!!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Weekend" update 11-05-11

I can't believe November is already here!
I'm really looking forward to Christmas decorating this year, and maybe in about 3 weeks I'll start!

We had a really great weekend filled with lots of "friend" time.
FRIDAY night we went out to dinner with our Sunday School class (the 20's group) and our pastor and his wife. We got to know a new couple better and enjoyed lots of conversation and laughs. It was kind of like our old young adults group, which I've really missed.

Then SATURDAY we did yard sale. I got some pretty good stuff for me and for a friend. I didn't photograph it yet though. Will try to get to that. My favorite finds were 2 new dresses for $2 each and a great new pair of boots for $3.
That evening we were invited over to watch the Bama/LSU game at a couple's house from our class. It was really great to start making relationships with people our age in our church. Neither one of us root for either team, but our friends are big Crimson Tide fans (as is most of our church) so we sported their colors. Don't tell my dad's side of the family. I was born in Baton Rouge and they are all die hard Tiger fans!
Got my hat for a quarter that day at a yard sale! :)
SUNDAY afternoon we had a couple of our good friends over for some card games. They just told us this week they are expecting a baby in May! How exciting! We shared much conversation and food! We introduced them to the Pizazz Pizza Oven and they brought over homemade cookie dough.

Just before they got there I took this down from our dining room:
That's right, I hung a fly paper in our dining room. Soooo hillbilly. But I was sick of the flies!

Well, I'd put it out the back porch. We put the dogs out in the backyard while we ran to the store to grab frozen pizzas. When we returned, I found the fly stick out in the yard covered in grass. And I found George's butt and leg covered in industrial strength adhesive and sod. Oh my, the trouble that dog can find! Even after a thorough scrubbing, his bum is still sticky. He's free of sod, but now has carpet fiber and anything else he comes across stuck to him. Not really sure what we are going to do. Can you put Goo Gone on a dog? Lol. I guess if we can't get it all off we'll wait it out, or shave him a bit.

The dogs are also excited for Christmas because they all get to wear these:
Can't you tell she loves it?

Happy Monday and start of a three day workweek for me!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Our October 31st...

Consisted of exactly one set of trick-or-treaters. So now there's 2 bags worth of lollipops in our house. But I'll be fine. I purposely bought candy I don't like. Lol.

So since it was low-key, I decided to make the dogs festive. They loved it. Sorta. Here's the proof: