By the way, I do plan to participate in this blogging challenge, too! Go to Teaching in Heels or A Step Into My Life for more!!!

I'm out!

I really meant to do a better job of blogging something with substance this week, but it just didn't happen. I still have Christmas wrap-up, a recipe and other things that I plan to post, but I've been soaking up all the family/friends time, cleaning and getting ready for our NYE party and taking care of my sickling so there just hasn't been time. 
I hope to be back in action next week to recap Christmas AND New Years. Until then, I wish you all a fabulous end to 2010 and beginning to 2011 :)


What I'm Loving

I can't believe it's already Wednesday! The week has just flown by. 

{1} I'm LOVING that we had a great Christmas! Jim LOVED the toolboxes (his big gifts) and I got my sunglasses, so we were all happy!

{2} I'm LOVING even more that Christmas isn't quite over for me yet! My sister-in-law is from Texas and they alternate where they are on Christmas Day every year. So today, we're having an immediate family celebration. 

{3} I'm LOVING that the flu bug has left our house! J started feeling pretty puny Christmas afternoon and woke up throwing up that night :( He had a fever off and on all day Sunday, and it hit about 103 that night. Thankfully he's feeling much better and at work today.

{4} I'm LOVING that we got some Christmas snow! In fact, we got home just after midnight from our Christmas Eve festivities, so we played with Hanky Poo. He loves his mommy :)

{5} I'm LOVING that I only have one more day of work this week!

{6} I'm LOVING that we get to spend some quality time with friends this weekend as we're having a New Year's Eve party at the house.

{7} I'm LOVING all the after-Christmas sales. I purchased a bag full of stuff for less than $10 at Wally World today and have my eye on a few things if they are still available when it goes to 75 percent off. 

{8} Of course, I'm loving my sweet man. But since I posted a picture of us up a little higher, I'll spare another one. 

Hmmm .... I think that's it for today. Happy Wednesday. 


Top Two Tuesday

I've been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish in 2011 lately, so this TTT comes at the perfect time!

{1} To be a better me. This means being healthier (food choices and working out), more positive, nicer (quit that talking behind others' backs!) and anything that makes me someone I would admire, respect and look up to. I really need to work on not getting caught up on what others think of me, and learning that, when they may not treat me as well as I think they should, to turn the other cheek and walk away instead of talking back. I also need to learn how to better let go - and, in some instances, just cut people out of my life!

{2} Be better at handling money. Sometimes, I feel like I'm great three weeks out of the month, then splurge the last week. I think I do a good job of saving, but I really need to figure out how to budget gifts and some splurge funds for myself into the budget. In terms of our budget as a couple, I want to see if there is any fat to be trimmed. Also, we aim to have our lawn mower paid off during the free interest period (by March - yikes!) and also have the shed we recently purchased paid off during its free interest period, which ends in November. Actually, I'd love to just have them both paid off as soon as we have the money!

I can't wait to read everyone else's lists! I think seeing what others plan to do really makes me examine my own life and question whether there is room for improvement. 


A quick note ...

Hoping everyone had a fabulous Christmas!
I'm back at work and swamped today. Plus J is home in bed with the flu so I've been crazy busy trying to get him healthy, etc. 
However, we had a great Christmas and Santa was very good to us! I still get to exchange gifts with my family on Wednesday, and spend time with my little ham of a niece. 
I'll be back soon, I hope, to recap our holiday. Not that I'm sure anyone cares too much, but I want it for documentation purposes. 
For now, I'll leave with this picture. (Yup, those are our new pajamas.) 
Because a chunk of words without pictures can just be boring :)


Merry Christmas!

I'm stuck at work for a few hours today and literally waiting for our last thing to do, so I wanted to pop in and wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

And finally, here are the pictures of our Christmas decor this year. I do have a few things scattered in the kitchen and main bathroom, but this is the gist of it :) And since I'm in a rush, I'm not going to take the time to crop/edit any of these images. Sorry!
Overview of the Living Room. Yes, Married to Rock is on the TV :)

Sofa table at the front entryway. To the left is our card holder, and on the table is my nativity and a couple things of my grandma's. Those are my $2 stockings I got made at a craft fair!!!
Snowflake Jake!

Snowman table ... with Jake in the background!
TV table - I got the "books" at a yard sale for 25 cents each
My nativity from Dirty Santa one year, music box that was my grandma's, and a smaller nativity given to me by my other grandma. 
Closeup of the tree. Which now is overflowing with gifts. 

tree in the dark

My boys by the basement tree
Our little family


What I'm Loving

There is a lot to love today, so let's just cut to the chase :)

{1} I'm LOVING that Christmas is in THREE DAYS!!! I can't wait to rip into my presents - J always outdoes himself and surprises me and I'm sure he'll do the same this year.

{2} I'm LOVING all these cute Christmas cards! I have to admit I didn't do cards this year because I was just too lazy and time sorta got away from me, but I am committed to doing one next year. I guess since we don't have kids, I think it's kinda pointless -- who wants to just see pictures of Jim and Chelle?

{3} I'm LOVING my goodies from my sock swap exchange partner, Amanda! These are so cute! A big thanks to Olivia for putting this together! And if you have a minute, say a quick prayer for Olivia, who was just put in a medically-induced coma.

{4} I'm LOVING that this project is in the Top Ten! If it holds through the 31st, it will receive $25K in funding! I know this little girl's grandpa and their family has been pushing for votes for about six months, so I totally hope it makes it through. If you have a minute, add your votes by Facebook and/or text as well!

{5} I'm LOVING all the family gatherings that are planned for this weekend. I am truly blessed.

{6} I'm LOVING how festive our house looks. Over the weekend, J and I got the $2 yard sale tree put up in the basement and I LOVE it. Which reminds me I still haven't posted pictures ... I'll try and get on that tonight.

{7} I'm LOVING all of my new blogger friends! I learn so much from y'all.

{8} As always, I'm loving this man :)


Top Two Tuesday

I've never participated in TTT before, but I've seen a lot of my bloggie friends do so and figured why not! Plus, I love today's theme :)

*Favorite Christmas memories*

{1} This is a favorite story in my family. When I was a kid my grandma put whiskey on my gums when I was teething. (Yes, I grew up in the sticks.) Well, I loved the taste so much that it became customary that I ran to the whiskey cabinet EVERY time we went to her house for a little taste. I guess I went a little overboard because one year when we were at Church, Santa stopped in and stole the whiskey. Bad Santa. That was the end of my whiskey days - for awhile at least. (Please don't judge me, my parents or grandma for this!)

{2} Last Christmas! It was mine and J's first Christmas in our new house and we were just so grateful to have a home of our own and start having real holiday traditions! We are fortunate to usually spend Christmas with just the two of us, so we get to sleep in, have breakfast, then open and play with our gifts. We also had J's family over to celebrate the day after last year, and we look forward to continuing that tradition as well!


A question ...

Hi friends!
I'm having a baking day with a friend tomorrow and trying to finish up all my holiday baking so next week I can really soak up the holidays! Although I have a ton of recipes, I'm wondering if I'm missing out on anything.
So .... comment with any ideas you have. Or, you can just shoot me an email!
Thanks ladies!


What I'm Loving

First and foremost, I'm LOVING that there are only 10 days until Christmas. Tomorrow, it will be single digits!

I'm LOVING how all the wrapped gifts look so pretty under the tree. Yes, wrapping is so much more time consuming, but just better. I love ripping into a wrapped gift :)

Crappy phone quality :(
I'm LOVING that I have today off work. Not only am I going to do some baking, I'm going to finish up the wrapping and holiday decorating, I hope. 

I'm also LOVING that I'm finally going to get to watch The Blind Side today. I bought it when Amazon had it on sale for $3.99 a few weeks ago, so I figure I can do that while decorating cookies or making oreo balls. 

I'm LOVING that a good friend and I are getting together to do even more baking on Saturday!

I'm LOVING that our work girls' Christmas party is tomorrow! I missed last year's because I had kidney stones, so I'm excited to make it this year, especially since it's a bistro I've never been to before. 

And of course, I'm LOVING this guy :) Romantic moment of the week: I saw something I liked when we were in StL a couple months ago and mentioned it would be a good gift. Of course, that store isn't here. After a couple nights of searching and searching on the Web for it, he told me. I pulled it up after a little searching (since I remembered the name) and he just whipped out his debit card and told me to get it. I think I'm a pretty lucky gal :)


Christmas questions

I've seen this on a couple of blogs and decided to fill it out today :)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Definitely wrapping paper. Yes, it's work, but so much more fun to rip into. And, it looks pretty pretty under the tree!

2. Real tree or Artificial? I've never had a real one. I'd like to, some year.

3. When do you put up the tree? Weekend after Thanksgiving-first weekend of December. The sooner, the better for me!

4. When do you take the tree down? Depends. I was raised Catholic, so I argue the Christmas season technically isn't over until Epiphany, which is Jan. 6. I try to get it down by J's birthday, which is Jan. 9.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yup

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My parents were boring and gave us clothes and stuff like that. But I still have a lot of the timeless gifts like board games, etc.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My parents. They are so simple and can afford to buy anything they want.

8. Easiest person to buy for? Jim. I pretty much can just walk into Sears and be safe.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Snail mail. But I've decided not to send them out this year.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A sweater that my sister gave me. The sweater wasn't bad, but she got it off my mom, who bought the shirt while we were shopping together.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Hands down.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I try to do it through the year.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Just dirty Santa ones

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Mashed potatoes with kettle beef and gravy! My grandma made this for every holiday and now my uncle, who does our family Christmas, keeps the tradition going! Oh, and my aunt makes THE BEST sugar cookies!

16. Lights on the tree (colored or clear)? Clear, definitely.

17. Favorite Christmas song? All of them. But I love the Church-y ones, like O Holy Night, Silent Night, etc.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Yes. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and of course, Rudolph!

20. Angel, star or ribbon on top of tree? Angel :)

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning. But this year, we're going to start doing Christmas Eve pajamas. 

22. Favorite children's Christmas song? I Want A Hippopotomus For Christmas

23. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? All the scrooges who won't get in the holiday spirit. Blech.

24. Favorite ornament theme or color? Silver and red :) I plan to hit the after-Christmas sales this year and get a small tree and some black and gold ornaments so I can have a Mizzou tree next year, though. 

25. Turkey or ham on Christmas day? Neither. Kettle beef and gravy!

26. What do you want for Christmas this year? To win the lottery :) Haha, just sunglasses

27. Does anyone in your family dress up as Santa? No.

28. Age you discovered who Santa was? I don't really remember.

29. Eggnog, hot chocolate, or apple cider? All of the above

30. Traditional colors (red and green) or other colors? Red, green, silver and gold! Blue can be very pretty too!

31. Do you have any Christmas decorations on your roof? No :(

32. How does Santa get into your house? Chimney or magic key? Since we don't have kids, he meets me to drop off items :)

33. Do you prefer gifts or gift cards? Gifts, unless the cards are to be used toward a larger purchase.

34. Favorite children's Christmas Cartoon? Rudolph/Frosty


Weekend wrap-up

Whew, what a weekend!

I've been wanting to see the movie Tangled, so we bundled up and went to the show. We loved it! Of course, having horses ourselves made it a bit funnier, but it was a great movie, even for a couple of "grown ups" without kids. 

Here we be, ready for the show!

Since I had to work Saturday morning, we headed home early, where J watched TV and I slept on the couch :)

Went to work, and it was raining cats and dogs by the time I left! I ended up going home to nap and clean up the kitchen, then we went up to Cape. On Cyber Monday, I purchased some gifts for Jimmy from Sears, and one (a floor jack) was delivered when he was home in the original packaging. Well, last weekend when we cleaned out the garage I decided to let him dig into it a month early (it's a birthday present) and we found one part was bent, so we took it to the store for an exchange. While there, we made a couple more purchases, and I think I can finally say I'm done with J's Christmas shopping. From there, we went to Hobby Lobby, aka Heaven on Earth, to pick up a couple other items I needed to buy, and ate at BGs. BEST potato skins, hands down — served with a ton of cheese. I think I gained a pound just thinking of them :) 

We woke up to SNOW! They were forecasting flurries, but our meteorologists are always wrong, so I thought nothing of it. It was very windy, but beautiful. 
The horses weren't too thrilled though, and were bucking and being silly. I snapped a few pics during the morning feeding.


Our little snowdog :)

The rest of the day, we just chilled, watching movies and wrapping presents. I made some yummy baked potato soup ...

And I also did some crafting/projects I've needed an extra set of hands for. First up was attaching the ribbon for my niece's hairbow holder :)

And then we finally found a use from the seashells from our beach trip a year and a half ago. I took this old frame I was about to throw away, we used the hot glue gun to attach the shells and some sand and stuck in a picture from the trip. Right now it's in the main bathroom, which is done in a beach-y theme. 

And of course, we wrapped up our Sunday night with The Amazing Race, as usual. I REALLY wanted Jill and Thomas to win, but Nat and Kat (the winners) were my second pick, so I'm cool with that. 

How was your weekend?


Mmmmm, pickles!

Yesterday, I offered to take my friend's little boy home with me for a couple of hours while she got her hair did. P is a very active 2-year-old, so she quickly obliged :)

I say this every time, but he really is at my favorite age now! P loves pickles, especially the ones my mom and I can, so he ate quite a few! I hate that the lighting is so bad in that picture :( We also had M&Ms, green beans, poppyseed chicken and more. 

P is at the age where he LOVES to help, so he went outside with us to feed Doc and "Mama Horse" (and Jax too.) P even carried the bucket and dumped in the feed! 

Since it was pretty cold, I grabbed a hat for P and this was the first one I found. He kept it on all night :) 

And, just for fun, a picture of P and his Auntie Chelle :)


A recipe: Meatloaf

After I posted about our leftover meatloaf yesterday, I had a couple people ask for the recipe. I figured I would just post it here for everyone!

What you'll need:
2 eggs
2/3 c. dried bread crumbs (you can also just tear up bread)
3/4 c. milk
1/4 cup onion (optional)
2 T. parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sage, basil or oregano
1.5 lbs. ground beef

Make it:
Combine all ingredients and shape into a loaf. We like catsup, so I typically squirt some in before I shape or on top of the loaf so it can bake in, but that's your call. Back at 350 degrees for one hour.
Meanwhile, mix 1/4 c. catsup, 2 T. brown sugar and 1 tsp. dry mustard. Spread on top of the loaf and bake an additional 10 minutes. 

Enjoy! This typically lasts two to three meals in our house!


What I'm Loving

I'm linking up with Jamie again this week! Check out her blog to read more!

{1} I'm LOVING that I finally have the Christmas tree up! There are still boxes and decorations scattered in my living room, but having the tree up along makes me feel festive. Pictures still coming!

{2} I'm LOVING that tonight is leftover meatloaf night! I love meatloaf, but it's so much better when reheated!

{3} I'm LOVING that, after taking a break from working out for a couple of weeks, I got back on board yesterday, and have already worked out today. Jackie, my abs are killing me!

{4} I'm LOVING that I get a haircut today! It's been three long months and I'm ready to lose some of this thickness!

{5} I'm LOVING that J and I got to see some Christmas lights last night. We came into town for an errand then decided to just grab some hot chocolate and peruse the neighborhoods. So much fun! Now I want lights on our house, even though we live in BFE.

{6} I'm LOVING that the Amazing Race finale is on Sunday!

{7} As always, I'm loving this sweet man :)


Weekend wrap-up

Yes, it is Tuesday, but I was off work on Monday, so technically it was a three-day weekend. Although a very busy one!

I left work early and went to help my mom get all of the holiday treats we made for Saturday's sale packaged. We weigh everything to keep it consistent, so I took over the weighing and putting it in the packages while Mom tied pretty bows on everything. One of my mom's friends came over to the house because she couldn't make it on Saturday and bought over $70 of stuff AND made another order for next week! We then set up and once I got home, I pretty much ignored the dishes and kitchen mess and crashed — I was on my feet far too long that day!

I was up bright and early and went to my hometown for the sale. We had a pretty busy day, chatted with great people, made some fun purchases and ate really good chili and a delicious chocolate chip pecan pie. (I've got to get my hands on that recipe!) We did have some leftovers, but I left mine with Mom because she always has people call after the sale to buy items. Anything else that is leftover I'll use to assemble some of the trays of yummies I take to people over the holidays :) Once we got everything loaded, I rushed home and we went to a four-year-olds birthday party and stopped at BK :) We planned to go see Tangled, but I was tired and it was cold, so we went home, picked up around the house some and then J and I played pool, darts and ping pong in the basement. Why go out when you have all that fun downstairs?

We got a well-deserved late morning in bed. I made some breakfast and we bundled up to head out into the garage to get it cleaned up. It was so messy I didn't even take before pictures. We moved a lot of the stuff into our shed, which was delivered on Saturday morning! J still has to build a ramp so we can store the lawn mower in there and lots of shelves and other organizing tools are needed, but we have it and a covered place to store all the hay for the horses! I hope to do some painting and other fun stuff in the garage this spring when it warms up again! We had to run into town that night for lunch meat and it was kinda late, so instead of making my yummy meatloaf, we decided to push that off and got some KFC instead, and chowed down while watching The Amazing Race. I SO want Jill and Thomas to win. They have been my favorite since day one. I'd be OK with any of the teams, but I find Brook SOOOOO annoying. 

After I got J off to work, I went back to bed until about 10 and then caught up on facebook, email and blogger until about noon, while finishing up the mountain of laundry I started on Sunday. Then, I tackled the kitchen, which was a huge mess from all of my baking and candy making last week. Once I got everything cleaned up and mopped, I dug all of the Christmas decor out of the basement. It is mostly set up upstairs, but there are still a few stragglers. I'm hoping to finish that up tonight and hopefully get some presents wrapped and under the tree! The basement decorations can wait until the weekend!


12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge - Days 12-14

1. I am a horrible weekend blogger! I have been on once all weekend because life was crazy busy! So there are three days in one, again.

2. I am SO enjoyed this blog challenge. I've gotten a ton of new ideas and met some great people :)

Alright, on to the catch-up:

Day 12: Show us your decorations.

Sadly, there isn't much. I spent all of last week making yummy food for the big arts and crafts bazaar and had no time to decorate. I snapped these pictures of my decor this morning:

The stockings were actually purchased at the fair (4 bucks each --- can you believe it?!?!), while the poinsettias were 99 cents at Lowes during Black Friday weekend, and Mickey is the JC Penney Black Friday doorbuster gift.
I am off work today and plan to get a lot of my decorations up after I finish the moutain of laundry that has accumulated :)  I'll post pictures in the next week or so, I'm sure.

Day 13: Cookie recipe

I don't make complicated cookies. Seriously. At Christmastime, I do the Pillbury ones from the huge container at Sam's, and one of J's co-workers has requested No-Bakes the past couple of years.

However, my aunt makes THE BEST sugar cookies. I could eat these all day every day. She actually began making them before she married my uncle -- I joke the cookies are what convinced us she was alright :) Sadly, I don't have her recipe, but I should probably work on getting it ...

Day 14: Oprah's Favorite Things --- the items I would want if I were in the audience

1 - An iPad
2 - A new vehicle
3 - Money to pay off my  bills (which isn't too terribly much if you exclude the mortgage.)

And now I'm all caught up! I hope you check back to see my Christmas decorations later this week!


12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge: Day 11

Day 11 = New Year's Resolutions! 

I love this one! I make lots of resolutions every year. I am not successful at them all, but no one is perfect, right?

1. Be the healthiest me possible. Whether it's baked not fried, exercising or anything else. 
2. Pay off our lawn mower and shed during the interest-free period.
3. Have at least one date night every month. Even if it's just appetizers and a movie at home.
4. Make a budget and stick to it. 
5. Do a better job of eating all the leftovers, and cleaning out the freezer.
6. Make the bed daily.
7. Grow a garden and preserve lots of the produce.
8. Wash the dishes every night.
9. Don't let junk pile up in my car.
10. Focus more on what I think of myself than others' opinions.
11. Make a habit of organizing/mopping the basement at least once a month.
12. Simplify as much as possible. Get rid of things I don't use. And don't buy things I don't really need. 


12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge: Day 10

Today's blog challenge is all about our favorite Christmas songs. 

I love them all. Seriously.

The other night, the Country Christmas Concert (or whatever it was called) was on ABC and I loved it. I just start singing along with all of them. It SO gets me in the holiday spirit. 

I really love O Holy Night, especially Carrie's version. 

Santa Baby is another favorite.

And I'm a hick, so of course I love Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer!

By the way, I had a blast reading through all the recipes yesterday and tried TWO of the peppermint bark recipes last night. Awesome job, ladies! 


What I'm Loving

{1} First and foremost, I'm LOVING that it's Hump Day. 'Nuff said.

{2} I'm LOVING the quality time I got to spend with family and friends last week. I got a lot of pictures, but have been too busy to download them. Whoops. 

{3} I'm LOVING all the baking that's been going on at my house :) 

{4} I'm LOVING that our shed is scheduled to be delivered this weekend. 

{5} I'm LOVING that Christmas shows are beginning on TV. We watched the lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree last night. Just beautiful. 

{6} Although I hate the cold, I'm LOVING that December is here and I can begin putting up Christmas decorations. When I get the time, that is. 

{7} I'm LOVING all the items of my sweet grandmother's that I got last week. Several items were set aside for the grandchildren to pick from, and I love everything I brought home. My curio is really starting to fill up :)

{8} I'm LOVING that I watched SATC2 yesterday while dipping red velvet cake balls. I saw it in theaters but was so happy to watch it again :)

Happy Wednesday, y'all!

12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge: Day 9

Day 9 comes at the perfect time, because I took off work yesterday to do some baking in preparation for a craft and food bazaar this weekend that my mom always participates in. None of these photos are mine, and I don't have the recipes on hand -- but they can be found via Google or by emailing me :)

I'm really excited about this day and can't wait to see other recipes!

I made ...

Red Velvet Cake Balls

Inside-out oreos (also called oreo bon bons)


Dipped pretzels

... As well as thin mints and pecan pie muffins! Late this week, if I get the time, I plan to make cake pops and homemade bread. I've also made buckeyes in the past -- they are delicious, but a lot of work.

In other recipes, a holiday staple for me is mashed potatoes with roast beef and gravy (prepared by my uncle!) and cheesy hashbrown casserole that I always make. Here is the hashbrown recipe I use, except I usually omit the onions and the cornflakes.