Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014: Hopes, Wishes, and Wants

Hey Y'all!
OMGSH! 2014 is only days away! It is absolutely crazy.
I love fresh starts. I have always loved the beginning of new semesters, starting a new job, and turning over a new leaf on my birthday. This of course means that I love New Years.
 In high school I used to make long list of New Year's resolutions with things like "lose weight, make all A's, make new friends or have the best summer ever." Lame I know and completely useless.

In college I still made those list, but I started to try and be a little more practical, so the list sounded more like "lose 10 pounds, actually do all reading assignments, stop watching so much TV." Still lame, but better.

Now I don't make New Year's Resolution list. I have figured out if I want to change something, to just change it. An example: I was chubby for a long time and every year I wanted to lose weight and I would try to eat better, cut out sweets, eat less, but I never actually stuck to it. So when I finally decided that it was time for me to be serious I didn't wait until January to roll around. I started Weight Watchers in June. And now (a few years later) I have lost my weight and kept it off.

After trying for many years to have list of New Year's Resolutions I have realized its kinda silly, at least for me. I have found that I don't need to make a bunch of changes in my life just because everyone else is.

So I do not have plans for any resolutions that I want to make, but that doesn't mean I don't have hopes, wishes, and wants that I would like to see in the new year.

Here are my New Year's Hopes, Wishes, and Wants:

For Ken and I to find the prefect house to rent.

Maybe get a new puppy
(Ken wants a German Shepard, I want an English Bulldog)

To Travel

To get a Promotion
(who wouldn't like a promotion?)

Do you make New Year Resolutions? What are you looking forward to in 2014?


Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Favorites!

Hey Y'all! 
2013 is nearly over, can you believe it? 
This year has honestly flown by, faster than I think any year before it. 
I think it might be because it was my first "grown up" year and by that I mean that I was no long in college and I worked full time the whole year.
It was a year of ups and downs that started out pretty rough, but overall a great year that is ending on a good note. 
2013 started off with two deaths in my family, which caused a lot of grief and self reflection. I think death just does that. This was not my first time to deal with the loss of family members but I think that no matter how many funerals you attend or how many deaths you grieve, each one is unique and comes with new emotions. 
Even though that was a rough start to my year, it did get better from there. Here are some of my favorite moments from 2013:
Teaching Ken to fish and spending more time on the water.
Going to Rodeo to see The Zac Brown Band and Alan Jackson
 My 23rd birthday was spent at the Moody Gardens Aquarium, one of my most favorite places in the world
I started a new job at an amazing hotel that has beautiful events!
My 13 year old (14 in January!) dog, April, made it through surgery that she needed to remove a lump.

Ken and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary in the Hill Country at a winery.
My favorite baby turned 1!

One of my oldest friends got married and had a beautiful wedding!
Ken and I went on a cruise with my mom and it was a blast!
We made three stops on the cruise and in Roatan Island I was able to hold and play with monkeys.
And in Cozumel we swam with dolphins. 
I had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ken and I celebrated with my mom, dad, stepmom, my brother and a family friend. It was great to have everyone together. Plus my turkey came out very nice! 
Lastly, Christmas. It was delightful. I spent time with family, stuffed my face, and received amazing gifts that made me feel super spoiled! 

2013 was filled with great memories and I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store. I will making a post soon about my hopes, wishes, and wants for the New Year. Until then, what are your favorite 2013 memories?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Blues

(one of the very few pictures I took Christmas Day)
Hey Y'all!
Well Christmas has come and gone faster than I ever believed possible.
This is my first grown up Christmas.
Last year I graduated college 4 days before Christmas and had barely started working, before that I was in college and had a whole month off for the holidays.
This year, since I didn't take any extra time off, I am back at work the very next day. *sigh*
Christmas was wonderful though. We spent Christmas Eve at my dads with some of my stepmother's family eating lasagna and opening presents. And then we spent Christmas Day with my mom opening presents, playing the Wii I got for Ken, cooking, eating, and watching movies. It was perfect.
I always feel a little sad after Christmas no matter what. Every year I get awesome presents, spend time with family and stuff my face - but I always feel a little blue the next day. Is it just me?
Thankfully I have much to look forward too. (that always helps the blues pass) Ken and I will be going out for a date night this weekend and New Year's is just around the corner! We will be attending a party at a friends house, where I will be dressed in sequence and sipping champagne.
How was your Christmas? Looking forward to New Year's?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Hey Y'all!

This is a super simple, but very yummy recipe! It is warm and filling, so it is perfect for a cold night.

Garlic Powder
Steak Seasoning
Meat Tenderizer
Black Pepper
Fresh Rosemary 
Fresh Sage
Beef Bouillon Cube
Beef Stock
Olive Oil

1. Season meat with all spices, except the fresh rosemary and sage
2. Place 2 tablespoons of butter and a 1/4 cup of olive oil in a skillet that is on medium high

3.  Sear the out side of the roast to a nice brown color (this will help keep the juices in the meat while it slow cooks)

4. Add rosemary, sage, red potatoes, carrots and onion to a crock pot with the roast.

5. Pour in 1 small box of beef broth, 1 bouillon cup, and then fill the crock pot the rest of the way with water

6. Turn the crock pot on high for about 30 minuets for it to warm up and then leave in on medium for about 4-6 hours. The meat and vegetables with be very tender.

7. Enjoy!

I also made a gravy out of the juices in the crock pot by pouring the juice into a small pot and adding a little flour and cornstarch. Mix the flour and cornstarch in a small cup of water then pour the mixture into the pot with the juices. Stir continuously on high until the sauce thickens. 


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Currently Craving: Christmas Gifts

Hey Y'all!
As I have said in previous post, I love gifts. So here are some of my wish list items.
Essie Nail Polish
This Necklace
 I just think its cute and simple and could go with so much.
 My family normally asks me for wish list every year but they also tend to get my items not on my list, so I can't wait to see what they surprise me with!
To not get sick!
Everyone in my office is getting sick and even Ken is sick! So I really, really (fingers crossed!) hope I don't catch anything!
What is on your list?

Top 5: Christmas

Hey Y'all!
Merry (almost) Christmas!! We are only 12 days away! Can you believe it?! Here are my favorite things about Christmas:
Christmas Movies:
The Grinch is probably my number 1 favorite Christmas movie, but that's really hard to say since I love so many. They are the best way to put you in the Christmas mood!
Hot Chocolate:
I will be honest will y'all, I love gifts. I really do, I won't lie. But I also love giving them. I love picking the best gift for people that I think they will love.
Christmas Tree and Decorations:
I set up my tree right after Thanksgiving! One year I actually set it up on Thanksgiving night. This year I did it the weekend after and I love how it makes the whole house feel warm and Christmas-y!
Christmas Treats:
One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to bake Christmas goodies for friends, co-workers, and family. I actually will be doing this tonight and bringing a plate to work tomorrow. Mine will be no where near as detailed as the above picture, but aren't those so cute!
What do you love about Christmas?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Love is...

...Sharing food.
I know, weird. But really though. Just listen.
Ken and I are both pretty selfish. Its horrible, but honest. Everything is mine and I don't like share and its kinda of the same for him. We like our stuff and space, especially when it comes to food.

(This is us)
So one way I know we love each other is when we do share.
We like Chick-Fil-A. I get the 8 count nuggets and he gets the 12 count value sized. When I finish my 8, I always want at least one more. So there is Ken to the rescue, who tends to give me one or two. It makes me happy. I don't have to order the 12 count and feel guilty about it, but I get my extra nugget and all seems right in the world.
The longer we have have been married the more we do this. It has just become part of who we are. When we go out to eat I give him extra french fries, or if I order a salad I always take a bite of his burger or other yummy item he has picked. I say "just one bite," but I normally take two. At home I share my zero calorie Gatorade's with him (even the grape, which is my absolute favorite) and my yummy oatmeal raisin granola bars.
I am constantly learning about marriage and what it is to love someone. One of the most important things is that love isn't the mushy emotionally stuff, it is the every day little things. Like laughing in the car when running errands or sharing our food.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review: Girls in White Dresses

Hey Y'all!
Time for another book review.
This is a story about 20-somethings and their life expereices as they grow older. The book focuses on three main girls - Lauren, Isabella, and Mary, but there are also other chapters about friends of theirs.
When the novel starts the girls are fresh out of college and move to big cities, like New York and Chicago. They are just fumbling around trying to find jobs and boyfriends. Each chapter is like its own mini story. It will focus on a certain boyfriend of theirs and why the relationship did or didn't last. Or it will show a job they have and some of their experiences there. As the girls get older the stories change a little bit, instead of dealing with low paying, crappy jobs or short-term boyfriends, they start dealing with mothers of long-term boyfriends and their friends turning into bridezillas. The last part of the book the girls are reaching thrity and they are now dealing with mother-in-laws, pregnancy and divorces.
The stories are honest, funny, and a little sad. I could relate to many of the girls problems and feelings, and the ones that I personally couldn't relate to I thought of many friends that were similar to the other girls in the book.
If you are a 20-something fumbling through life I certainly believe you will relate to at least one story in here.
Have any of you read it? If so what do you think?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ways to Give this Holiday Season

Hey Y'all!
I will be very honest with you, I love presents! Gifts are my top love language and so I love Christmas. This also means I love to give gifts. I spend so much time looking for the perfect gifts for people and making sure they will love them.
Even though gift giving and getting makes me giddy this time of year, I like to look for ways to give.

 1. Cards for Hospitalized Kids
Last year I read about this organization and decided it was something I wanted to be a part of, so I made about 10 holiday style cards and sent them out. It is super easy but also meaningful since most of the kids they give the cards to do not get to go home for the holidays. This year a group at my church wanted to do something for the holidays and I mentioned this, so now we will be doing it as a group this weekend.

2. Donate Clothes/Blankets to Shelters
Another easy but extremely helpful way to give for the holidays is to donate the sweaters, pants, blankets and other warm clothing that you don't use anymore to your local shelters since it gets cold this time of year. (Plus this is a great way to clean out your closet!)

3. Sing/Visit/Play with patients at your Local Hospital
This is something that my church group is also doing this year. We are planning to visit a local hospital together - Sing Carols, Visit with patients and play with the children.

4. Give Toys or Gifts to Local Shelters or Orphanages
The last way I plan to give this season is by buying a few toys and giving them to a shelter for women and children. Ken and I look forward to buying a barbies, action figures, or play dough - and items like batteries or tooth brushes for the shelters regular needs.


Christmas Bucket List

Happy December Y'all!
Now that I have given you oh so many Thanksgiving posts and we are all getting tired of turkey I figured it was time to move on to Christmas!
(Updated 12/12) Christmas Bucket List:
Decorate the house and put up the tree
Make New Holiday Recipes
Holiday Cookies
Warm Pot Roast (Recipe coming soon!)
Bacon and Bourbon Stuffing
Twice Baked Potatoes
Pancetta & Parmesan Brussels Sprouts
Make and send out Christmas Cards
Ice Skate
Go look at Christmas Lights
Watch as many Christmas movies and TV episodes as time with allow
Drink Hot Chocolate
See a Christmas Play
Sit at the Bonfire
Make cards for children in the hospital
UPDATE: I didn't finish everything on my list, but I got most of it down, so I still feel accomplished! :)
That is what is on my list for this December, what about you?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turkey Pot Pie

Hey Y'all!

One of my favorite things to make with left over turkey is turkey pot pie. It is very easy and can be changed to fit different styles or to just use what is in the pantry. For a long time I though that pot pies were overwhelming,  but after making a few I realized they are super simple!

Turkey Pot Pie

3-4 Table Spoon Butter
1/2 Cup Chopped Carrots
3/4 Cup of Frozen Peas
3/4 Can of Green Beans
3 Cups of Chopped Turkey (or Chicken)
2 Pie Crust
3 Cups of Water
1 Chicken Bouillon Cube 
Healthy Splash of White Wine
1/4 Cup Flour
1 Egg
Fresh Rosemary
Fresh Sage
Fresh Pepper

1. Place butter in pan on medium heat
2. Add Vegetables, Stir for 1-3 minutes 

3. Add Turkey, Stir until fully mixed

4. Add Flour, Stir until Turkey and Vegetables are sticky with flour

5. Add Water, Wine, and Chicken Bouillon Cube
Stir everything and let liquid thicken

6. Chop spices (I used one sprig of Rosemary - remove stem)

(And three Sage Leaves - remove stems)

7. Add Spices to pan, Fresh Spices and Jar Spices, and stir (For the jar spices, I just sprinkle a heathy amount all over the pan and stir them in)

8. Unroll Crust, place one on the bottom of pie dish

9. Poke small holes in dough for ventilation 

10. Pour in filling 

11. Place second pie crust on top and pinch the edges of the top and bottom crusts together

12. Shape the edges of the crust, I use a fork (neat and simple)

13. Use a egg wash on the top crust, also make slits in the top for ventilation 

14. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes (to help make the crust not burn, place foil over the pot pie for the first half)

15. Enjoy!

A few other notes:

-Pot Pie can be made a million and one ways. If you aren't making this after a holiday, use chicken. I used white meat, but if you like dark - use that! If you don't eat meat - use potatoes! If you don't like peas, add celery. This recipe can be mixed and matched to fit what you like most!

-The spices are used are almost all the same that I used to make the Thanksgiving Turkey (I wanted to keep the favors similar since I was using that turkey), but you can use whatever spices fit your taste. 

-Lastly, this really is a perfect meal to make after the holidays. I had peas, carrots, turkey, fresh spices, and wine all left over, so all I had to buy was the pie crust and a can of green beans! Plus it is the kind of meal that can be taken as lunch the next day and of course, it is so yummy!