Friday, December 20, 2013

I {Heart} Italian Food

Italian food is by far my favorite!  I would pretty much eat pasta every day of my life if I could.  My mom has always fixed some great Italian meals growing up.  But, by far, stuffed shells is my favorite meal that my mom has ever fixed.

These stuffed shells and meatballs were, with only a few exceptions, the dishes I requested every time my mom asked me for dinner preferences.  We've eaten this for almost every one of my birthday dinners that I've had at home.  I love it so much!  To me, this meal is perfect.  Just perfect.

It makes a TON of shells and meatballs, so I usually half each recipe.  But this time I made the full batches for a dinner party and still had plenty to freeze for later!  Both the shells and meatballs freeze wonderfully so that you can save some for a super easy meal later.  For the shells, I highly recommend flash freezing them seam side up on a parchment lined cookie sheet before putting them into a freezer bag to store.  They're much more likely to stick together, lose their shape, and cause problems when thawing if you just freeze them right in a bag.

Stuffed Shells
From: My mom (yet again!)
Makes: about 3 dozen shells

Ingredients:
16 ounces jumbo shells (give or take, you're always going to have some break while boiling)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup dried Italian bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup parsley
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 large jar of spaghetti sauce

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Boil shells as directed on the package; drain.
  3. Mix all other ingredients, except sauce, in a large bowl.
  4. Stuff filling into shells and place seam-side down in a greased baking dish.
  5. (Freeze shells at this point if you want to save them for later.)
  6. Spoon sauce generously over shells.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. If desired, sprinkle with more mozzarella cheese and return to oven for 1-2 minutes to melt cheese.

Meatballs
From: My mom
Makes: about 4 dozen

Ingredients: 
1 pound ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage
1/2 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 to 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
  1. Combine eggs, milk, onion, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add enough breadcrumbs to make a ball.
  3. Add meat and mix well.  Beware, the best way to do this is with your hands, but they will get really, really cold!
  4. Roll into 1 inch balls.
  5. Place in a skillet and brown slowly, stirring often.
  6. Drain on paper towels.
  7. (Freeze at this point if saving.)
  8. Place in a greased baking dish and cover with sauce.
  9. Heat in the oven while the stuffed shells are cooking.

Like I said, this meal is divine!  It's perfect with a fresh, green salad and some homemade bread.  Woohoo!  I'm having leftovers for lunch again today, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Through a Different Lens

We all have those days.  The days where, even though moments before we felt the breeze blowing through our hair at the top of the highest mountain peak, we suddenly seem to have sunk to the lowest, darkest, coldest valley of our lives.  Where we can still see the sun shining on the mountain tops, but no matter our efforts, we just can't seem to get back there.  We try; we kick and scream; we claw; we cry; but we're stuck in the valley with no way out thinking there isn't one; there never will be.

Monday, I was truly having a good day.  Writing about good things tends to cheer me up, so the list of little lovelies that could have gone on much longer than it did made me start to feel the sun on my face and wind in my hair.  But then, yesterday, nothing seemed to go right.  I couldn't find any little lovelies to bolster me against the small, menacing problems of the day.  It's as simple as Christmas shopping; I only had/have a few things to finish up and every single one of them fell through.  And so the valley mentality kicked in.  I felt the weight and the shadows of the peaks I cannot get to darkening my spirit.  And all around me, all I could see was the darkness of unmet expectations.

We all have them.  Those small (or big) obstacles in our lives that make the grass look perpetually greener on the other side.  Maybe you thought that by now, you'd have a house and a couple of dogs.  Maybe you thought that your financial struggles would be a thing of the past.  Maybe you thought that you'd both have careers you enjoyed.  Maybe you thought that, finally, your own grass would be looking pretty green.

But it's not.  The expectations you had for your life, though seemingly not out of reach, have not come to fruition.  And at this point, when you pile up all the things in your life that just didn't pan out the way you thought, there really seems to be no way out of this dark and depressing valley.

But that's when you need to stop and look at your life through a different lens.

As hard as it may seem, you have to think about all of the other things that didn't go the way you'd thought they would.  The things that worked out as you'd never dared to hope.  That you never thought that God would actually show you your husband in high school... but it happened.  That life-long, completely (you thought) unattainable dream of living near the beach... that has come true.  That sweet little creature that wormed her way into your heart causing you to pack up and move just to keep her.  That happiness you feel when you and your husband say the exact same thing at the exact same time and you both just know that what you have is right.

And then I think, well, maybe this valley isn't so bad.  I've still got the salt-smelling wind, the sun, and the waves to keep me company.  Maybe the mountains have beauty, but the valleys theirs too.

So maybe, if your valley is looking a little dark and hopeless, you need to try looking through a different lens.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chicken Noodle Soup

Alright!  I made it with the recipe today!  I know, just barely, but it still counts.

Here's a great winter recipe from my mother!  Wonderfully, it was actually a little cool outside when I made this last Thursday!
I have gotten several compliments on how good this is.  I think that's because it's a creamier soup.  By no means watery.  It's nice and thick and delicious!

Here are a few of the things I love about this recipe.  It's so quick and easy!  It doesn't take any weird ingredients; I usually have everything in the house needed to make it.  You can also add some veggies if you like things like carrots, onion, or celery in your soup.   You could even use all whole foods to make it if you wanted by making your own cream of chicken soup, noodles, etc.  It's just so easy!!!
Chicken Noodle Soup
From: My Mom
Servings: 6-8ish depending on how big of a bowl you serve out
Note: The soup pictured was actually made with shredded turkey, so that's why it looks pink.

Ingredients:
1 quart water
3 1/4 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup sour cream
Parsley

Directions:
  1. Bring water and bouillon to a boil in a large sauce pan.
  2. Add noodles, and cook for 10 minutes.  Do not drain.
  3. Add soup and chicken; stir and heat through.
  4. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream.
  5. Sprinkle with parsley.  Salt and pepper to taste.
That's it!  You have a great dinner on the table.  I know it's simple, but I also just love serving this with cool buttered bread.  The contrast of the cool bread and butter with the hot soup is so yummy!  Enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Little Bits of Random {Lundi Little Lovelies}

I couldn't really think of a cute title for today's post because it really is just random.  Several randoms strung together.  So, no catchy title...

Since I did not get around to blogging on Thursday... or Friday... or Saturday... I have quite a few little lovelies to share!  I may save a few for later this week, but we'll just have to see as I go along.

(Also, I still have a recipe all ready to go, but I haven't taken any photos yet, so I'm waiting on that.  Hopefully tomorrow... though that's what I said last Wednesday...)

Little Lovely #1:  I made this on Thursday and Friday.  
 
Just a simple skirt with some a-dor-able aqua/teal linen.  It turned out pretty well; there's just one part that looks a little funny, so I'll probably go back and fix it a bit.  It also needs some more time under the iron, which makes sense since this fabric's been in my stash for... ahem... several years.  It's pretty fun when something I sew comes out well because usually I get in a hurry and take shortcuts so that things don't turn out as well as they should.  I'm pretty impatient when it comes to sewing.

Little Lovely #2:  I sat around yesterday afternoon between Christmas parties and made these.
I've made paper snowflakes each year since we've moved to Florida.  Sometimes Thomas helps me, and sometimes (aka. yesterday) he sits on the floor and plays Call of Duty while I make them.  :)
It's just something silly and fun I enjoy doing.  Since I took this photo last night, I've actually made a few more!  Fun fun!

Little Lovely #3:  Our Christmas boxes from my parents arrived today!  Yay!!!!!  So our Christmas tree has more presents under it, a few new ornaments (presents we got to open early), our stockings are hung, and the nativity scene is displayed (albeit on the dvd case since we don't have anywhere better).
This nativity scene is really special to me, because it was a gift from one of my aunts when I was really young.  She painted all of the figurines herself.  And since then, it was my job each year to set it up when it was time to decorate for Christmas.  My mom surprised me by sending it with our gifts.  So this is the first year (in about 20 years) that it won't be displayed in my parents house, but in my own.  Aww!  It's a little sentimental to me if you can't tell.

Little Lovely #4:  Christmas is on the 10 Day Forecast!!!  Woohoo!!!  And there's only 7 days left until my in-laws get here!  I can't believe it's coming so fast!  I need to finish my shopping!  Yikes!  (Wow, there are so many exclamation points in this post!  And there's another one)

Also, I got to go have lunch with Thomas today!  So that brightens up any day!  All in all, this Monday is going pretty darn well!  And it's a nice mellow day after the crazy Christmas party weekend!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What the Fox Do {Sunday Fun Day}

Thomas and I were just talking about that strange video "What the Fox Say" this morning, so when I just went to write the title to the following post, that's what popped in my head.  That is in no means a push for you to go watch the video unless you want to waste 3-4 minutes of your life.  (Yes, unfortunately, I've seen it.)

Anyway, here's what this post is really about... It is actually about foxes.  But not about what noises they make.  The following video is a clip from the recent Discovery Channel special called "North America".  You know, one of those nature shows that features tons of amazing nature footage and voice-over narration by someone with a great reading voice (in this case Tom Selleck).

Moving on... this clip is about a fox that lives in a wintry landscape and how it hunts to stay alive.  Now, normally when they show animals hunting, I automatically change the channel, but this clip is not graphic.  There is only a little squeaking from a poor little animal, but that's it.  And this fox is just so dang cool and adorable that I just love it!

Ok, here you go.  Watch this awesome clip.
Wow!  That is just so cool!  I just love that God made an animal, that's been around for-like-ever, that uses physics, math, etc. that we humans just discovered in recent years.  It's just amazing how intricate God is.  How creative He is when He creates not only us, but all living things.  And He likes when we stop to awe in how awesome He is and give him credit for his amazing work!  Does it get more interesting than things like this?!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Looking More Like Christmas {Wednesday Wins}

(And by looking more like Christmas, I mean inside our apartment.  It is a tad harder to channel Christmas vibes outside of our home because it's over 80 degrees everyday.  Not that I'm complaining... especially when the high in Missouri was 25 the other day.  Yikes!)  Anyway...

Woohoo!  It is Wednesday.  And Wednesday is one of my favorite days right now.  It means trivia night at Buffalo Wild Wings.  And I look forward to it every week!

And this week... with the help of some good friends... we won second place!  Woohoo!!!  Yay!  The winning $30 part was pretty awesome, but we also just had a really good time, and we felt like we played a really good game, win or lose.  So, that's exciting!
Also, I put the first present under the tree today!!!  I've wrapped several others, but some were mailed back to Missouri, and others are just still hiding around the apartment.  

I'm also excited that I'm getting pretty close to finishing my Christmas shopping.  I just have a few more things to get!  I was hoping to finish tomorrow, but I'm not sure if that will happen or not.  We'll see tomorrow I guess!

I'm hoping to have another dinner recipe to blog tomorrow or Friday.  And then I'm sure I will blog about some of my Christmas baking... which really means my mom's Christmas baking (since I make all the things I grew up on).

We also have a lot of Christmas parties in the next few days!  One on Saturday, Two on Sunday, and one on Tuesday.  Wow!  Busy, busy fun times!

I can't believe Christmas is only two weeks away!  Getting excited!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Music {Sunday Fun Day}

Thomas doesn't really like Christmas music.  So, it's a limited commodity in our home.  I'm also stuck on the same Christmas music that I've listened to for years.  Not much gets added to my holiday playlist.   My favorites include: Amy Grant Christmas (from like forever ago), Point of Grace's Christmas cd (also from years ago), and an odd assortment of Christmas carols in French.  Yes, I actually listen to French music in my free time.

Anyway, I just could not pass up this Christmas season without sharing one of my favorite Christmas songs.  It also happens to be a mash-up of a bunch of different songs, so it's definitely worth listening to.

This has been around for years, but I can't help listening to it over and over each Christmas because it's so hilarious!

Say hello to "Straight No Chaser", a guys a capella group.  Besides being really extremely talented, this song is absolutely hilarious.  They have tons of other songs around the internet, so if you like them, there's plenty more to enjoy!
LOVE it!  Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

Hey hey!!!  A new recipe!  It's been so long!

Anyways, this here is my mom's chicken pot pie recipe.  It's super easy to make and only has to bake for about 10 minutes!  

The photos you see are just a little different than the recipe.  I decided to make a smaller version because we really just don't need that many leftovers.  Usually, my mom just puts the crust on top of the dish, but for this one, I decided to line the pie pan with crust and a little bit on top too.   However, I really didn't love the crust to filling ratio.  Overall, I prefer just having the crust on top, but you can always change it up to make it your own.

I also made this one with turkey left over from Thanksgiving instead of chicken!  It's just so versatile!  Lol.
Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted from: My Momma

Ingredients:
+/- 10 oz. frozen mixed vegetables (I use a package that has carrots, corn, green beans, and peas in it.)
1/2 cup chopped onion (I usually omit this.)
1/4 cup margarine
1/3 cup flour
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups water
3/4 cup milk
1 Pie crust  *recipe below

Directions:
  1. Cook the vegetables in salted water.  Drain and set aside.
  2. While vegetables are cooking, melt margarine in a large sauce pan.
  3. Cook onion in the butter.
  4. Add flour, salt, sage, and pepper into sauce pan and stir to combine.
  5. Pour in the milk, water, bouillon cubes, and stir until thick.
  6. Add drained vegetables and chicken; stir to combine.
  7. Pour into a 7x11 or 9x9 casserole dish.
  8. Cover with pie crust, and cut off the edges.
  9. Bake at 450 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until crust starts to look dry and browns just slightly.
Pie Crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup hard Crisco
3-4 tablespoons water
  1. Stir together flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cut in Crisco until crumbly.
  3. Add water.  Start with 3 tablespoons and then add more as needed until the dough comes together.
  4. Roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface.
I hope you enjoy!  This is a regular at my house, and the leftovers are delicious too!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Scarves Galore!

So!  I've been in a scarf making frenzy!  I figured I couldn't really start another one without taking some photos of the one I finished last week.  So, here are the pics!
 
I put a color effect on these and it actually helped to show the color a little better.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the warp by itself.  It was so colorful!  Then it has a blue-ish weft so that overall, it's blue with splashes of color.

And here's the one I warped up yesterday.  I started weaving on it this afternoon, and I'm liking it so far.  I mixed it up with all solid colors and the materials: silk, bamboo, and a little cotton.  The weft is just the plain light pink to bring it all together.  So far, I'm liking it!
These photos look just a little orange-y but I couldn't find an effect that would show the true colors once it was already warped.
Anyway, back to weaving now!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Guess what?! I'm Back!

Which is funny, considering that I didn't go anywhere!  

So I just got busy the past week.  Tons of cooking and eating for Thanksgiving made me a little short on time to blog!  I loved every minute of it, and I guess I was just too busy enjoying myself to stop and take the time to document it right then.

But, now Thanksgiving is over.  And December is here.  Which means: Christmas time!!!  (I thoroughly believe that Christmas time should not begin until after Thanksgiving is over, so I've just started celebrating!)

That being said, I've done quite a lot in the first four days of December!  I've started my Christmas shopping, Thomas and I got our tree up and the house decorated!  I've already wrapped several presents!  And I'm planning a mini Christmas party for my Life Group girls!

We got a new (bigger) couch earlier this year, so we had to find a new place to put the Christmas tree.  Turns out that we didn't have many options if we didn't want to have to hop over it to walk around the house!  (Our new couch is a lot bigger than our old one... which is exactly why we love it!)
I also hung some icicle lights and ornaments over the sliding door out to the porch because I just love icicle lights!  We have more lights, but I just can't think of anything good to do with them... maybe I'll get more creative as the season continues!
Lolo is pretty good with the tree (we put one up every year).  But so far, she has enjoyed tunneling under the tree skirt and knocking off the ornaments she can reach.
I'm interested in seeing how she does with presents under it this year.  Since we usually travel back to Missouri for Christmas, we don't have many presents under the tree.  Also, Thomas and I are horrible about waiting to open our presents all at one time (we've never been at our own house to open them Christmas morning, so we plan to do it early anyway.), but usually Thomas caves so badly and pleads with me to open my presents as soon as he buys them.

This year, however, I am INSISTING that we wait until Christmas to open them!!!  (We're staying in Florida, so this is our very first Christmas in 5 1/2 years of marriage (and 8 1/2 years as a couple) that we are able to open our presents from each other on Christmas!)  I am ok with opening some presents on Christmas Eve night, but we are at least getting that far!  I am going to stay strong this year!  I WILL NOT CAVE!!!

I have yet to bust out the Christmas music (we always decorate the tree while watching a movie instead of with music), and I haven't baked any holiday goodies either.  I'm also trying to think of some new Christmas traditions we could start since we'll have our first Christmas at home.  More to come on that later though...

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Feeling Accomplished {Wednesday Wins}

Well, I have been feeling accomplished the past few days.  But, accomplishment does not come without its frustrations either.

First Win:  I finished another scarf already!  I wove it so fast that I didn't even take a picture of the warp for a sneak peek.  I really should have though.  The warp by itself was just mesmerizing.  It made me think of peacocks and circuses.  The colors are so vivid and lively.

Win #2:  I am reading a book that was actually written for adults!  It's true, I'm generally much more enraptured by the endless possibilities of teen fiction.  It seems that adult readers just won't stand for such outlandish and unthinkable things like magic powers, imaginary worlds, talking animals, and heap loads of daring rule-breaking.  However, right now I am reading a book that was written for an adult audience!  Wow!  This is also where the frustration comes in... a lot of the book is set in the early 1900s, and that's exactly how it reads.  The phrasing and diction are a challenge to follow sometimes.  In a section I read just today, the author went on for the long half of a paragraph about the behavior of electrons, and the subject of the book has nothing to do with science!  It is very rambling, winding, and descriptive, but I'm enjoying it nonetheless.  It's an impossible love story at heart, and I'm a sucker for that kind of thing.

Third Win:  Thanksgiving is tomorrow (and Friday, for me), and I can't wait!  I love Thanksgiving!  I wish it was not followed by Black Friday, but I just decide to act like Black Friday doesn't exist.  Yay!  A holiday that is purely for stopping to think about all the wonderful things we have in life is just wonderful!

Last one:  The weather today is just to die for!  All the windows in the house are open, and it's a beautiful, sunny, breezy 74 degrees!  Love it!

Woohoo!  Yay for wins!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I am my Father's Daughter

To be completely fair, I have a lot of both of my parents in me.  Even my father couldn't tell my mom and I apart on the phone when I lived at home because our voices sounded so similar.  I love to cook and bake (though I was a late bloomer in this area), which comes directly from my mother.  My mom and I get along so well.  But a lot of the way my brain works comes from my dad.  He's a very analytical, straight-forward, logical, always-has-a-plan type of person.  I have a bit of a crazy, unbalanced, artistic side in me, but mostly, I have my father's over-prepared brain.  (We're also both corny nerds, but that's beside the point!)

Thus, when I was preparing to cook my very first complete Thanksgiving meal last year, I had the plan to cook the exact replica of what my mom cooks, but I planned it in a way that, I think, would have made my dad smile with pride.   

Oh yes, I made a spreadsheet.

Let's say I based it on the fact that I had never cooked such an intricate meal with a number of dishes that graced the double digits that all needed to be ready at the same time to be packed in the car to take to a friend's house to eat the meal.  That truly was the reason behind the spreadsheet, but it turns out that the spreadsheet itself gave me so much satisfaction that I decided to one-up it this year.  (Of course, I typed it up and saved it on my computer for future use.)

So, this year, when I decided to invite some friends over on Black Friday just so that I could have the pleasure of cooking this wonderful meal again, I pulled out that lovely spreadsheet.  And edited it.  And decided that it wasn't quite detailed enough.  Oh no, a time schedule of exactly what I'm supposed to be doing during half hour increments for the whole morning leading up to eating time was not enough for me!  This year... I added the dishes I will use for each portion of the process.  (Are you laughing at me yet?!  If not, we might be kindred spirits.)

When my husband laughs at me for this (which he already has and will continue to do so), I always add some feeble excuse like, "Well, if I don't plan out all the bowls and things, I'll end up running out and won't have a dish to serve _______ in!"  (In my defense, I do have a limited number of serving dishes and a tiny kitchen.)  But since that never convinces him that I'm anything other than crazy, I just shrug and say, "Well, I am my father's daughter!"

Now, only because I am shameless and actually quite proud of this lovely spreadsheet, I have included a picture for your viewing enjoyment below!  The only problem I had with it this year was shrinking it down enough so that it would fit on one page!  And as you can see in the corners, it is already hanging on the fridge eagerly awaiting Friday morning at 10:30 am when I will walk into a spotless kitchen, lace up my apron, and wreak an organized havoc!
Happy {crazy} Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday #3: The "Basics"

*I got this ready yesterday, but I forgot to post it, so here you go!

This Thursday, I am thankful for the things that I consider to be basics in my life.  And I am even more thankful for them when I think about the fact that there are many people in this word who don't have any of these things.
  • A wonderful home!
  • Delicious and nutritious food to eat every day.
  • Air conditioning!!!
  • Clothes that I (most days) like to wear.
  • A kitty that's adorable!
  • Hobbies that I enjoy.
  • Books to read and the fact that I can read.
Obviously, there are just a few things!

 *Friday Update: Something I'm not thankful for: falling up the stairs with too many groceries so that I have knees the size of grapefruits!  Yep, I fell up the stairs today with about 9 million groceries in my hands and a metal pan clattering all over the landing, and now I don't want to move.  (Sarcastic) Awesome! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Scarves=My Fave Accessory {Wednesday Wins}

 
Welp, I finally took this baby off the loom, got it all finished up and ready to go, and.....  I don't love it.  Lol.  Not surprisingly, this happens sometimes.  Usually when I try to push out of my comfort zone and use different colors/materials that I normally wouldn't gravitate towards.

I DO like the way the pattern turned out.  I like how scrunchy and thin it is.  It looks a little messy and lived-in, and I like that about it.  I always love the way this yarn feels too.  How could you go wrong with 100% silk?!

The thing I don't like about it is mainly the color.  I chose these colors, if you remember, because they were like a less ukky version of fall colors.  As it turns out, I just still don't love it.  I'm more of a vivid, vibrant, pop color kind of girl when it comes to my scarves.  This one just isn't quite as bright as the ones I normally tend towards.  (It doesn't help that fall is my least favorite season.  I'm a summer girl, and I like summer colors.)

Also, it doesn't help that it started raining today before I could take the photos.  So the lighting was all wonky.  I was able to edit them up a bit, but I never really feel like photos show the true colors anyway.

So, you're probably thinking, how is this a win?  True, I don't love the scarf, and it will probably go in the closet with the other scarves that I'm not crazy about and therefore hardly ever wear, but it is just such a sense of accomplishment to finish something tangible.  Something that took hours to complete and was frustrating.  And one of the best parts of weaving, for me, is getting to pick out the next one and warp it onto the loom, watching the colors come together!  (Speaking of that, I already warped up another one last night!  I'll take some photos when the lighting is better, a.k.a. when it's not raining.)  So, finishing it is a win, even if the scarf itself isn't.

One last thing, (not to be a saleswoman or anything) if you ever like a scarf I've made or want one made-to-order, I'd love to weave one for you if you're willing to cover the cost of the yarn.  Just as an example, this scarf is made of really nice quality yarn (and of course it's my fave) and it cost me about $15 to make (so this one's up for grabs if you like it; like I said I'll probably never wear it!).  So, just let me know if you ever want one!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Funny Story {Lundi Little Lovelies}

So, nothing major today... Just a mild Monday.  It certainly has not been a bad day; it's really been pretty good.  But, still, nothing major has happened.  So here are a few little lovelies.

I have several different types of fresh fruit in my fridge right now!  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I just love fruit, and I love variety.  I've caught some good sales in the past few days, so I have different fruits to choose from when I want a snack.  In fact, I'm eating an apple from the huge bag I bought the other day, and it is a-maz-ing!  Seriously, it's like eating apple cider it's so sweet!

Guess what came off the loom today?!  Yep, the latest scarf!  Woohoo!  I literally just pulled it off and walked away, so photos will come later this week.

Thomas and I are having date night tonight!  We're going out to dinner, and though we've discussed where to go for about 20 minutes already today, we still don't know where we're going!  

Not a little lovely, but a funny story...  I woke up with a shot of adrenaline this morning.  I was slowly resuming consciousness while hearing weird noises.  I was thinking that Lo was probably digging around in the closet (as she does every so often).  But then I shot up out of bed when she started (cat) screaming!  (Like a high pitched gurgle-y meow)  Freaking out, I started to untangle myself out of bed when I saw the bottom two drawers of the dresser open, looking over, there was Lo, sitting next to them shaking herself out.  So she managed to get herself stuck in the bottom drawer, then pulled the one on top of that out on top of her so that she had to squeeze out a tiny 2 inch space to get out.  Yeah.  Not the nicest way to wake up in the morning!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Three Sneak Peeks

Ok, so maybe I don't have any funny stories to tell today or anything.  But I do have a light-hearted, not-so-sappy post!  So there's a change!

Two of these sneak peeks are of my own making.  One is very much not, but possibly the coolest of the three.  (Shocker, right?!  I have nothing to do with the coolest thing I have to share today!)

#1:  Here's a much over due sneak peek of my current scarf project.  The photo's not great, but you get the idea.  This scarf is a first for me.  The weave you see is called "Leno Lace", and it can be really cool, but it is also a big fat pain in the butt!  So it's coming along.  Mainly, though, I just can't wait to finish it so I can see what it looks like off the loom.  I can't really tell if I'm going to like it yet.  Anyway... moving on!

#2:  I just pulled a batch of these babies out of the oven.  Mmmm!  I haven't ever made these, but they're a staple at my parents' house during the holidays.  And I just so happened to buy a ginormous bag of Reese's on clearance after Halloween, so these were the perfect thing to make for Life Group tomorrow.  You can find this recipe on basically every recipe website there is.  Just type in something like Reese's cookies and you'll find a billion of them (and they're all basically the same).

#3:  Alright, here's the coolest sneak peek of the day.  Guess what?!  It's a movie trailer!  (Another shocker there!)  So, last night Thomas was trying to tell me about a movie coming out about Noah (yes, the one from the Bible) starring Russell Crowe.  But I was in a not-great mood at the moment and kind of blew him off (sorry honey).  But, a little later, I got on my favorite website ever and a trailer was right there on the front page (the source of Thomas' info), so of course, I watched it.  And WOW!  I am stoked for this movie now!  Talk about capturing the epic proportions of the story!  Wow!  You have to watch it.  Seriously, you have two minutes to be awed!

Woah!  Right?!  Well, that's all.  Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday #2 - People Edition

So, this week, for Thankful Thursday, I want to focus on some of the people in my life.  And please note that it would take for-e-ver to list everyone I'm thankful for, so don't get all huffy if I don't mention you or someone.  Know that I'm thankful for a lot more than I can take time to list.

I am most thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ.  Without Him in my life, forgiving me, loving me, leading me, saving me, I would have nothing.  Without the Lord, I wouldn't have anyone or anything to be thankful for.

I am truly and wonderfully blessed that God gave Thomas to me.  We are best friends (which means that many days I want to throw him out the window just as much as kiss him), and I am honored that God chose me to get to take care of him and love him for the rest of our lives.  (And Thomas, I better get rewarded for saying such nice things about you so publicly!  Lol)

I am so thankful for my family.  To have grown up in a godly home is a blessing that so many do not have, and I am so glad to have the parents I have.  And now that I'm not a stubborn teenager anymore (mostly), I can say that with a sincere heart. 

Since we have moved to Florida, God has placed us in a wonderful church!  And through that church we have received so many blessings.  We have friends that truly sharpen us just as we have the honor of sharpening them.  It is a joy to have people to live life with.

There are so many people who have poured into me and helped to shape me into the person I am today.  And I am thankful for each and every one of them.  It would take entirely too long to list everyone by name, and I don't want to do so because I would inevitably forget someone.  But the list ranges from friends, friends' parents, teachers, youth pastors, pastors, friends' friends, parents' friends, family.  So many people have taken the time to invest in me, and I am so thankful to be so blessed.

Ok... was that sappy enough for you?!  Somehow, I struggle with writing a sincere post that doesn't sound so rehearsed and sappy.  Oh well though, this is the best I got!  I'll have to come up with a not-sappy post for tomorrow or Saturday... now I just need something funny to happen to me so I'll have something to write about!  Lol.  Not likely!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ranch Chicken Pockets {Wednesday Wins}

Ok... so I've felt so bad that I haven't blogged any recipes in a while that I thought you should get two in a row!  Also, today's recipe really is a win!  Every time I tell Thomas that we're having these chicken pockets for dinner, he just about drools.  We love them so much, and they're incredibly easy!  Lots of times, I stir up the filling earlier in the day or even the night before so that it's super quick to just toss everything together at dinner time!  We usually eat these with a green veggie for a simple and delicious meal!

Ranch Chicken Pockets
Adapted from: Will Cook for Smiles
Makes: 8 pockets

Ingredients:
1 can of crescent rolls (8 rolls)
1-2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mix
3-5 ounces cream cheese
1/4 shredded cheese (I use cheddar)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the chicken, ranch seasoning, cream cheese, and shredded cheese.  (To make sure I'm really happy with the consistency and taste, I start with the smaller amounts listed (about) and taste and add more if I want to tweak it.  We really like the creaminess, so I may add a little extra cream cheese.)
  3. Spread the crescent roll dough out and separate into 8 individual rolls.  Spoon chicken mixture onto each roll, then seal each roll completely.  (They may not look very pretty, but make sure they're sealed.)
  4. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the rolls start to brown nicely.
  5. Eat and enjoy!
This meal is so simple and quick.   I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vanilla Madeleines

 I've loved the French language since I started taking classes in high school.  I very quickly learned that I also loved a lot of French foods and culture too!  And these madeleines are a French food that I just absolutely adore.  They are a delicious, light and sweet treat that will not kill your calorie count.
 The only thing that makes these difficult is that you have to have the special madeleine pans to make them.  Yes, technically you could bake these in whoopie pans or something of the like, but you really miss out on their beautiful shape.
 These lovely treats are dusted in powdered sugar for just a little extra sweet-ness.  My favorite way to eat them is dipped in a steaming cup of hot cocoa or coffee.  Since they're so light and fluffy, they just soak the liquid right up and melt in your mouth!  To die for!
 If you're in the market for madeleine pans, they can be found online at places like Bed, Bath, and Beyond (depending on where you live, your local store might even have them).  You can also find them at specialty kitchen shops a lot of times.  There are trays with several different sizes of molds.  And there are also trays made of both metal and silicone.  I have silicone pans, and I like that you don't have to grease them, but they sometimes collapse a little bit and make a mess in the oven.  So, really, it's up to you which pans you decide to buy.
Vanilla Madeleines
Adapted from: 101 Cookbooks
Makes 2-3 dozen regular madeleines

Ingredients:
1 1/2 sticks butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
a pinch of salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar

Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  If using metal molds, grease with butter or cooking spray.  (This part isn't necessary if you have silicone molds.)
  2. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium high heat until it turns brown and gives off a nutty aroma.  It should take about 15-20 minutes.  Strain the butter using a paper towel over a small bowl.  Allow the butter to cool while you stir up the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Whisk the eggs and salt in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until the eggs double or triple in volume.  
  4. Continue mixing on a high speed and add the sugar.  Mix for about two minutes.
  5. Fold in the vanilla.
  6. Fold in the flour.
  7. Fold in cooled butter.  Stir as little as possible.
  8. Use a tablespoon (a cookie scoop works really well) to spoon the batter into the molds.  Fill each mold about 2/3 of the way full.
  9. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
  10. Unmold immediately onto cooling racks and then dust with powdered sugar.
These madeleines are fluffy and delicious!  I hope you enjoy!

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Beth Moore Girls Weekend {Lundi Little Lovelies}

This is definitely NOT one of those Mondays.  The ones where I'm depressed and just feeling off.  Today, I am so thankful for this Monday.  Mainly because I need a mellow day to relax and catch up and process the past few days.

This weekend, I had the absolutely fabulous opportunity to attend a Beth Moore conference in Daytona with a big group of women from church.  And I have been so incredibly blessed by God, Beth, the worship team, and the lovely ladies who went on the trip.  Frankly, I was a little nervous to go.  I'm so shy.  I also don't have children.  I didn't even know the names of several of the women who were going.  I was afraid of not enjoying myself because I so often don't fit in.  But, I was wrong.  The wonderful, godly women who went included me, and the Lord spoke to me so much that I simply cannot look back on the trip with regret.  I know I was meant to go, as was each of the other women who went.

I so greatly enjoyed getting to know them better.  One of the wonderful things about the trip was that there was a lot of "unplanned" time where we could all just gather around and talk, share, pray, laugh, and cry.  And I think I'm right in saying that we all walked away from the weekend changed in some way.  

God moved powerfully through the worship, Beth's speaking, and through our time with each other.  Though I cannot fully explain how God spoke to me in a way that will speak to you, I'd like to share some of the things that Beth said that moved me.
  • "Jesus knew firsthand what it was like to be a man." -  Now, I know that when Jesus came to this earth, he was fully God and fully man.  But I have never thought about it to the point that Beth explained.  Jesus took his 100% God-ness and put it into the confines of a human body.  Beth thought about the fact that God never sleeps.  So, it may have annoyed Jesus that his human form got tired and had to sleep.  He surely got sores on his feet from walking miles in his sandals.  He got hungry.  He probably had a cold at some time in his life.  And Beth focused on Mark 7:34 where is says that Jesus groaned.  He knows the limitations and the afflictions of our human forms, and he longs for us to experience our heavenly forms that have no imperfections.  Wow!
  • She also spoke on a verse that has long been dear to me.  Isaiah 40:11 says, "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."  (NIV, Italics added)  Oh how I just love that God gathers me in his arms and carries me close to his heart.  I so dearly need to be loved and cared for in such a tender way by my Savior.
  • Beth's last point was that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God in heaven until he comes back to bring all the saints home.  Amen!  I have read the accounts of Christ's ascension into heaven many times, however, I have failed to picture the scene in my mind.  "After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God."  (Mark 16:19, NIV)  Just as he had proclaimed right before his crucifixion (Mark 14:62), men witnessed him being raised into heaven and sitting down beside his Father!  Wow!  And there he remains until the day no one knows except the Father, when God will turn his head to his son and say "Go get her!"  (Paraphrased from Beth Moore)  Hallelujah!
I was so tremendously blessed through Beth's teaching of the Word.  I am so thankful to her that she is daily obedient to the call that God has placed on her life.  And I am also thankful for the wonderful group of women that He has placed me in.  They are Godly influences on my life, and I am glad to be counted among them.

And we finished up the weekend with a life group party.  What a great way to keep the fun going!  We played True Colors, and I have not laughed so hard in ages!  I am so glad that God has given us such a wonderful group of friends!

This, indeed, is a happy, happy Monday!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday #1

Well, it is already about a week into November!  Wow!  It's amazing to look back and see how much has changed in 2013 so far.  Sometimes I look back and think about how quickly it has gone.  And yet it feels like it's been forever too!  (I know, so cliche!)

For the month of Thanksgiving, a lot of people post one thing they're thankful for on Facebook each day.  I think it's a lovely idea, however, I've decided to adapt it so I can blog about the things I'm thankful for rather than post them on Facebook.  So, this month I decided that I am going to write a "Thankful Thursday" post each week with a few things I'm thankful for!
  1. I am honestly so thankful for Thanksgiving.  It's one of my favorite holidays for several reasons.  If I had to choose one holiday to label as "the most selfless", it would definitely be Thanksgiving.  It's all about reminding yourself of how good you have it, even though we don't deserve all these blessings.  And it's about family.  There's really no other agenda than to sit around the table sharing stories, laughing, helping each other, playing games.  And food.  (Of course I would love the holiday that is all about food!)
  2. I am thankful that the Lord has caused one of my dearest dreams to come true.  I live in Florida, mere single-digit miles from the beach.  Wow!  God has caused my two biggest dreams in life to come true so early, and I can't thank Him enough.  His generosity blows me away.  What's the other big dream, you ask? Well, not to be overly sappy, but it's Thomas.  Since before I was a teenager, I prayed that God wouldn't give me the opportunity to date a bunch of boys who weren't the one.  I just wanted my husband.  And God answered that prayer enormously!  In fact, I was so focused on waiting for my husband that he had to work pretty hard to make me pay much attention to him in the first place.  But, once he and God got me to pay attention, I knew he was the one less than two months after we started dating.  God gave me so exactly what I wanted that I wasn't even really looking for it yet!  He answered faster than I would have ever even thought to ask for!  I am ever so thankful for my God!
  3. I'm thankful that tonight is the last football game of the regular season for the high school I work with.  Though the team made the play-offs, this is the last regular game the band is going to.  (I don't know if we'll go to the play-off games or not, but we'll see.)  I'm thankful that the band only has to stay to half time so that I can come home earlier than usual!
  4. I am excited and thankful that I get to hang out with some girl friends this weekend and see Beth Moore speak at a conference!  I haven't had a "girls weekend" since before Thomas and I got married over 5 years ago, and I am so incredibly excited!  And Beth Moore's Beloved Disciple study has touched me so much over the past few months, so I just want to bask in that as long as possible, and seeing her speak live seems like a great way to do that!  I am so thankful that she is obedient to the call God places on her life.
  5. Ooh!  I'm thankful that Thomas and I got 3rd place in trivia last night!  Woohoo!  (I know this one is silly!)  But it's just so fun to find something new to do together that isn't expensive.  We have a lot of the same interests and hobbies, but we don't always get to enjoy some of them because we're on a budget, of course.  So this (almost) free activity is so much fun for us, and it helps that we're a good team!
Well, I've got to get going for that football game tonight, so I'm going to stop there!  I hope you stop and take a moment to think of some things you're thankful for.  If you'd like, feel free to comment with them; it's always wonderful to rejoice in each other's blessings!