Thursday, December 31

Prayer Request

I can't sleep...although the details are still out, we received an email from our renter's this evening that pretty much sounds like they are bailing. 

I am frustrated and confused and stressed. 

As we figure out this nightmare situation and try to find new renters or possibly sell our house (worst case scenario), I keep reminding myself (like every two minutes) of one thing:  In all of our changes these past several months, He has not left us high and dry through any of this.  DH found a new job, we found renters (temporary as though it seems), we found a new place to call home, we have settled in, DH is liking his new job, Peanut seems to be adjusting just fine, I am not clinically depressed like I thought I would be...(okay, the last one is entirely a joke).  But, in all seriousness, every step of the way, He has reaffirmed the decisions we have made.  

He has been faithful in providing the means.  Now I need to be faithful. 

Wednesday, December 30

The Last Decade

One of my bloggy friends did this, and boy, does it really get you thinking!  It's crazy how much my life has changed in the last ten years. 


Living at home, going to community college
Should have been at a university by then, but was still at community college b/c I was working on my third major at the time
Turned 21 and had about three months of "clubbing days" and then I felt very convicted and decided I was done
Went to Hawaii for the first time with my friend S
Changed my major for the last time


Started at the local university
LOVED my new and last major--I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and finally had a projected graduation date.
Watched in horror as my country was attacked by terrorists
Contemplated applying to an internship program at our state's legislature
Which I finally did, and I was accepted


Worked for a senator in my state's legislature for the legislative session.
It was my first time living away from home.
Moved out from my parent's nest into my first apartment. I was 23.
My mom threw a surprise housewarming party for me after she helped decorate my apartment.  Let's just say it's pretty easy to pull the wool over my eyes.
Went to a Christmas open house at my mom's best friend's gift shop that would change the course of my life. :)
Was set up on a blind date with the future Mr. DH


Rang in the new year with then boyfriend/now husband at my sisters
Graduated from college after six L-O-N-G years (I don't know who was more excited, me or my parents)
Was a bridesmaid for my dear friend S
Became a Stampin Up "demonstrator"
Became engaged right before Thanksgiving, after just 11 months of dating
Celebrated my first official Christmas with DH (who was my fiance at the time)


Planned our wedding and survived
Got married and went to Victoria for our honeymoon
Shared a tiny apartment with DH, it was cramped but there were still many special memories
Welcomed our first niece into the world
Shared my first Christmas without my family, visiting DH's family out of state


Bought our first home
Swore I would never move again.  Heh.
Said goodbye to my aunt after a long battle with cancer
DH graduated from college and started a new career
Moved into management at the bank
Welcomed our second niece into the world


DH started working in a new office, one he enjoyed much more than the last
Welcomed my cousin's little girl into the world
DH and I replaced all the molding and doors in our home, a home improvement project I surely thought would NEVER end (but it did, and I loved the results)
Said goodbye to my mom's best friend, a very special woman, who I would have liked to call my aunt


Had some "battles" with a subordinate at work and changed locations for the last time--it was the best change of my life (management is hard when you want everybody to like you!) (and always remember EVERYTHING happens for a reason)
DH and I started making changes that would allow us to start a family, the most significant--buying a family sized new to us vehicle


Announced that DH and I were expecting
Found out that the Peanut was a girl Peanut.  :)
Completed a kitchen remodel (okay, I really just watched because of my delicate condition) that included new applicances, refinished cabinets, new counter tops and backsplash, and new flooring that was completed just weeks before the Peanut arrived (I do not deal well with home improvement projects)
Attended a beautiful baby shower given by my dear friend A
Welcomed our little Peanut into the world (Boy is that ever strange when you can start answering "yes" to the question, "Are you a parent?")
Made the decision to quit my job in order to stay at home with the Peanut full time
Starting reading blogs thanks to my dear friend S (which really made naptime fly by)
DH's boss retires and a new boss took over.  We never realized what kind of changes this would bring.


Loved growing into my role as mommy
Watched the Peanut make many, many firsts
Struggled to make ends meet as we lived on one income, but rejoiced, knowing we made the right decision
As circumstances because extremely difficult at DH's work, he started looking at other alternatives
Due to the state of the economy, DH considers going to back his old place of employment, but after months of waiting there are still no jobs in our area.
Started my own blog
DH interviews for a job far from our home town, is offered the position, and accepts
We find renters to rent our home to and start packing our belongings
Made the big move across state
Appreciated family more than ever as time with them is so very limited
Celebrated our first Christmas in SmallTown

What changes have you celebrated (or mourned in some cases) in the last decade?

Monday, December 28

A Merry Little Christmas

I've said it before and I'll say it again--it always goes by way. too. fast.  I can't believe that Christmas is over and a new decade is almost upon us.  We had such a good time though...we spent Christmas Eve at home enjoying time with just our family.  We had our traditional clam chowder for dinner and then DH and Peanut gave me a gift he insisted that I open.  It was an iTunes card to purchase the Third Day and Chris Tomlin Christmas albums I've had my eye for some time.  That was very special.  We were also able to talk to DH's parents on the web cam.  It was a nice quiet evening, although I did miss our usual tradition of spending Christmas Eve with my mom's family. 

We were able to sleep in on Christmas morning.  I figure we better take advantage of that while we can!  Peanut is a slow riser in the morning, much like someone else I know.  (That would be me in case you weren't aware.)  Not really a "morning" person or bright and perky like DH or my sister or my friend S.  Hmph.

Peanut just sat there holding her stocking for several minutes.  She was still trying to wake up and figure out what to do with that big sock.

She quickly got the hang of it though and was soon tearing the paper off each of the gifts.  Whether they were for her or not.  :)

She loves mommy's purse and all the treasures in there, so she got one of her very own this Christmas.  Complete with her own money, mirror, keys, and lipstick.

My parents and sister drove to our new home bright and early Christmas morning and they arrived shortly after I had put Peanut down for her nap.  Although very tired, she was extremely excited to see her Grandma, Grandpa and Auntie.  As were DH and I.

Peanut The Little Buddy wasted no time snuggling up to her Skipper. 

Peanut had a mountain of gifts to open, which brought back memories (at least for my parents) of my sister's first Christmas', where she was the only grandchild for three sets of Grandparent's to spoil indulge. 
Although Peanut is not the first on DH's side, she is the first on my side and has the toy and clothes collection to prove it. 

Peanut had lots of love to give her Grandma and Auntie.  She was very generous with her kisses as well.  Playing with her Auntie was especially fun.

I was able to show my family the Christmas town.  Peanut liked (at least for a moment) having on Mommy's hat before we left.   


All of us adults enjoyed evenings playing the Nintendo Wii trying to advance to the next level on Super Mario Bros. and snacking on lots of homemade goodies

Peanut also loved her music lesson from Grandpa on her new xylophone while we were playing the Wii.   She knew though that Grandpa had been engrossed in his book, so she was trying to hand it back to him. 

The best was just appreciating each others company.  In fact, I had such a good time, I forgot to get family pictures of all of us together.  :(   As you can see though, there is no shortage of pictures of the Peanut. She does change each and every day, so I was glad to have those memories. 

Although I am extremely sad it is all over, I am thankful for the time that we all shared together.  Now just 362 days to go. 

Sunday, December 27

Menu Plan Monday

We had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you did as well.  We'll be having lots of leftovers this'll be kinda nice, as I will be able to spend more time with my family.   Also, I have some new recipes I am trying this week, so I am a little bit excited!

Sunday-Lasagna, Garlic Bread, Steamed Broccoli

Monday-Leftovers from the weekend

Tuesday-Sizzling Beef and Scallions (from this months Rachael Ray magazine-not on the site yet)


Thursday-French Onion Mac & Cheese

Friday-Chicken & Broccoli with Couscous (from this months Rachael Ray magazine-also not on the site yet)

Saturday-Baked Potato Bar

Saturday, December 26

Homemade Gift

I apologize that I couldn't post this prior to Christmas, however I have family that reads this blog and I didn't want to ruin the surprise.  First, let me just say that this shadow box was not my idea.  My husband's cousin made one last year for her mom, and I just thought it was the neatest thing and knew I had to make one for my mom.

And it really isn't that hard.  With places like Costco and Wal*Mart you can print your pictures for next to nothing and if you watch the ads at the craft stores, you can get the shadow boxes at a discounted price.  I got this one at Jo Ann's for half off last June.  (It definitely helps to plan ahead!) I got just one sheet of scrapbook paper and I had the rest of the papers, embellishments, and ribbon in my stash of goodies.


It is awfully sweet, don't you think?

Another Tasty Treat--Almond Roca

I liked the Peppermint Bark I made, but I truly LOVE this.  Again, I apologize for the delay of this post, being after the holidays, but this was a surprise for some family.  My mom's best friend, who is no longer with us, used to make homemade Almond Roca.  It is such a treat and fairly easy to make, but unfortunately I was never able to get the recipe from her. Once again though, the internet is such a handy place and I combined a couple recipes together to come up with this one.

Almond Roca

2/3 cup slivered almonds

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water

12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
4 Tbs. cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup finely chopped pecans (traditional roca uses walnuts)

As I did with the peppermint bark, I used the Silpat baking mats (see the "I Recommend" on the right) to do this, which makes this SO easy, but if you don't have those, you can wrap foil around a cookie sheet and butter it up really well.  That works too.

Sprinkle the almonds over the prepared baking sheet and set aside.  Bring your butter, sugar, water to a boil in a heavy metal pan and stir constantly until the temperature reaches 310 degrees.  Quickly pour over the almonds and spread in an even layer.  This will firm up rather quickly, however you may also place the baking sheet in the fridge to speed up the process.

While the toffee mixture is setting, melt the chocolate chips and cream in a double boiler.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour over the toffee mixture and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the pecans over the chocolate and gently press into chocolate.  Let set until firm.  Once hardened, break into chunks and store in an air tight container in a cool place.  Again, I thought the fridge might be a little too cool and damp for an extended period, so I am just storing ours in our basement.

Enjoy!  Now I just might have to hide this from myself.....

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Kerrygold.

Thursday, December 24

From Our Home to Yours

(Image courtesy of

Just wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas.  Have a blessed weekend reflecting of the awesome gift given to each one of us.  Merry, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21

Red Beans and Rice with Ground Beef

In all my efforts to be creative (heh) in menu planning, I have forgotten about many of my stand-bys I used to make when coming home from a long day at the bank.  I've been making this since about the time we got married.  We really like it and I always have the ingredients on hand.  Plus, it is really versatile as substituting things out is easy.  I used to call it Poor Man's Jambalaya, but then I realized it's not really like jambalaya at all.  So Red Beans and Rice with Ground Beef it is.  :)

3/4-1 pound ground beef
2/3 c. diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced (or if your feeling super lazy like I was, use garlic salt and omit the salt below)

1 1/2 Tbs. chili powder
2 dashes cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 can kidney beans, drained (I've also used black or chili beans)

4 cups cooked rice

I have also put in cubed kielbasa sausage and a can of diced tomatoes, both of which are really good too.  I just didn't have either on hand tonight.

Add rice to rice cooker and prepare according to manufacturer directions.

Brown up the ground beef and diced onion.  Drain off the excess fat.

Add the minced garlic (or garlic salt) and other seasonings along with beans.  Once the rice is cooked, add to your beef and beans mixture.  (You would also add your kielbasa and/or tomatoes at the time as well.)  Mix thoroughly and heat through.  Serve with sliced green onions and Chipotle Tabasco, which is DH's absolute favorite.  (He parted ways with the original Tabasco long ago.)

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, December 20

Christmas Treat

I finally did it.  I made Peppermint Bark this year.  I've been wanting to try to make it for several years now and just never have attempted it.  However, after walking through the grocery store, seeing these (which are absolutely tasty, just a little expensive) and the peppermint bark tubs at Costco, combined with a more limited budget than I have had in years past, it was the catalyst I needed.  I scoured the internet and some of my cookbooks and melded several recipes together to come up with one I like.  And it turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself.  The only thing I would do different next time, is to crush the peppermint up a little more than I did this time. 

Peppermint Bark

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 tsp. peppermint extract
4 Tbs. cream

12 oz. white chocolate chips

6 oz. peppermint red/white striped candies, crushed (crushed candy canes will work too)

I use the Silpat baking mats (see the "I Recommend" on the left) to do this, which makes this SO easy, but if you don't have those, you can wrap foil around a cookie sheet and butter it up really well.  That works too.

Heat your chocolate chips, peppermint extract, and cream in a double boiler and stir until smooth.  Spread in an even layer on the Silpat or foil. Chill in the refridgerator while preparing the white chips.

Heat your white chocolate chips in the double boiler until smooth and then spread evenly on top of the chocolate layer, being as careful as possible to not mix your layers of chocolate together.  Of the many recipes I scoured, many suggested not waiting until the chocolate layer was completely hard, as often times the layers will separate when breaking the bark into chunks.  While the white chocolate is still warm sprinkle the crushed peppermint evenly over the white chocolate.  I gently pressed the peppermint into the bark with the back of spoon so it would not all come off when it cooled.  Chill in the refrigerator until cold and firm (I left it in the refrigerator for several hours).  Once completely cool, break into chunks and store in an air tight container in a cool place--I thought the fridge might be a little too cool and damp for an extended period, so I am just storing ours in our basement. 

The basement also keeps it out of sight, out of mind for the DH as well.   Have to save some for the holidays.

Please come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.

Menu Plan Monday

In just five days I get to see my family!  I am praying that they have good weather, so they a normal and safe drive to see us.  I am very excited and DH has his days off this week before Christmas so I can get some baking done.  It's going to be very fun week.

Sunday-Quick Chick and Noodle Soup--(this is so yummy and I have some homemade stock to use up)

Monday-Red Beans and Rice w/ ground beef (a recipe of my own making I have been preparing since we've been married-will post later this week)

Tuesday-Leftovers (trying to keep the fridge empty before the weekend)

Wednesday-Pork Fried Rice

Christmas Eve-Clam Chowder and Homemade Rolls (even though I won't be with all of my family, I'm sticking with tradition)

Christmas Day-Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Horseradish Carrots (these are so yum-will post soon), Green Salad, Homemade Dinner Rolls

Saturday-Pizza with Homemade Crust and Homemade Sauce and Green Salad

Friday, December 18

I've Been Waiting For This

I am so sad as I write this.  I have complained about mentioned this to any that will listen.  I have been so impatient and now I am wondering why was I in such a hurry?  The Peanut doesn't want me to rock her to sleep any more.  Our normal routine was for her and I to brush her teeth and then I turn out the light, and rock her (in my grandma's rocking chair) to sleep.  Once she was good and asleep, I would lay her down.

For the last three (!) nights I have attempted to rock her and she is just entirely restless and so I have been lying her in the crib (she used to scream and cry if I did this before she was asleep, but now she doesn't even put up a fight) and rub her back and she goes right to sleep.  :(  I know we raise our children to be independent and I completely support that, but this is just another way she is growing up so fast! 

The reason I was in such a hurry is because I had read all these books that say if you have to rock your child to sleep or if they can't sooth themselves to sleep all sorts of fire and damnation will come upon you.  No, of course it wasn't that extreme, but I just knew that I was going down this road of her being ten years old and still having to be rocked to sleep.  (I always worry the most extreme of any potential circumstance.) 

Of course, I still have to rub her back, but I am sure that is just a matter of time before I won't even have to do that. 

Wasn't it just yesterday, she looked like this?

Sniff, sniff.  Sigh.

Wednesday, December 16

Snow Day

After the Peanut had her nap yesterday, we were able to take her outside to "play" in the snow.  It all worked out so well too, because the snow came on Monday night and DH had Tuesday off, so we got to spend the day together as a family!

AND I was so excited because I had bought the Peanut some snow boots on clearance last year.  They were so cute and they were regular $19.99 and I got them on sale for $4.99.  My friend and her little girl (who is almost a year older than Peanut) were with us and I judged by her daughter's size on what size of shoe to get Peanut.  And they even fit!   So that was just too cool!

So without further ado:

We had to get her all bundled up...reminds me of this scene in a A Christmas Story...

She was not a fan of the "mittens" which had no thumbs, so they were more like little nub covers.

Daddy and Peanut
She wasn't quite sure what to think of it at first...
...but was more confident with Daddy right there.
The snow is so much more powdery here...not as wet as it is in HomeTown.
She got a little braver with each minute.
And then started to inspect "all that white stuff"...  (name that movie)
Aww so sweet.....
Hard to believe this was a year ago...
(A little makeup on my part wouldn't hurt either!)

Tuesday, December 15


It snowed and snowed last night...much different from our first flurry or the snow we had up in the hills surrounding us a few weeks ago.  I am guessing we had around 5 to 6 inches last night?  I'll let the pictures tell the rest...

The forecast predicts a little more today and then it will warm up tomorrow.  :(  I hope it stays for a while. 


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