Thursday, December 30, 2010

Experiments in Cooking

A few weeks ago I shared with you some recipes that I was planning on trying that week and I promised I would share the recipes and the results with you if they turned out well. I didn't forget, I promise, I just really wanted to do a Christmas theme for last week so it didn't quite fit in. However, here are two of the recipes that we enjoyed.

Southwestern Chicken Bake
what you need
1 pkt. SHAKE 'N BAKE Extra Crispy Seasoned Coating Mix
1 Tbsp. chili powder
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
1 cup KRAFT Mexican Style Finely Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese

make it
HEAT oven to 400ºF.

COMBINE coating mix and chili powder in shaker bag. Use to coat chicken as directed on package. Place in 8-inch square baking dish.

BAKE 20 min.

SPRINKLE with cheese. Bake 10 min. or until chicken is done (165ºF) and cheese is melted.

I served mine with a broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot blend and baked potatoes. It turned out delicious! It had a little bit of a spice to it and was crispy and moist at the same time. And of course I love a good warm baked potato covered in butter with a little bit of salt. (The picture is of Collin's plate he prefers his with cheese.)

The other dinner we made was a delicious baked ziti. It probably could have used a little more salt for my liking but it was good. There wasn't a recipe for it, we just kinda threw some stuff together. I boiled some ziti noodles (we actually used penne because it was what we had in the house) and while the noodles were boiling the ground beef was browning. Once those were done we drained the noodles and put it into an 9 x 13 baking dish. We added the ground beef and stirred it around a bit and then added some cheese (enough to make it gooey) and stirred it around some more. Once the dry ingredients were mixed well I added a jar of Prego Traditional sauce. I covered all the dry ingredients well and then baked it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 350ºF until it was gooey and steamy. We made some buttered toast on the broiler and thoroughly enjoyed our meal!

I was very pleased with these meals and it was actually fun to make them because I had it planned out and knew exactly what I was making and that I had all the ingredients in the house. I will definitely be planning out our meals like that much more often! I haven't lately because of the holidays, but as soon as we're done with leftovers and what not from all the festivities I'll be planning away!

Do you have any fun meals planned coming up? Do you have any good recipes and things you think we should try? Let me know! I definitely want to try new things out!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Day is Fun Day!

Taken by me in March 2009
We had a beautiful snow day on Sunday! It started snowing on Christmas day like I mentioned yesterday but the majority of the snow fell on Sunday. We didn't get too much accumulation, maybe 5 inches or so but it was enough to make the roads bad. Collin and I awoke early Sunday morning to venture out to Target and take advantage of their after-Christmas clearance so we could stock up on items for next year. We got some ribbon, tape, bags, tissue paper, a storage container for all the wrapping supplies and my favorites, silver chargers and stockings! I got two sets of 4 chargers for $5.00 total. I was pretty excited! We didn't have stockings this year so we bought some to have for next year. Mine is like the typical stocking, fuzzy and traditional looking only it's pink... and has pom balls hanging from the place where it hangs. I LOVE it. Collin's is black with a penguin hanging onto the opening. His is really cute, too.

After Target we had church and it looked like we were going to have a very small crowd because by this point the snow was already starting to stick to the roads and become a bit slippery. However, by the end of the service, we had around 70 people but when we started the service there were 30 or so people. Normally we have over 100!  So it was nice to have so many people join us! But we left for home in a hurry once the service was over; the roads were getting bad. And our car was already covered in snow!

The rest of the day we just spent being lazy in our comfy clothes and enjoying being stuck inside together. I even had the curtains open all day so I could watch the snow falling outside and covering the earth in a beautiful shade of white. We watched some Community (I got season one on dvd for Christmas and I really wanted Collin to watch it), we played some Wii, we took a nap, watched some more tv, played Metal Gear Solid a bit (well, Collin played, I watched), and I even got to read for a while when Collin was playing some other video games. At one point during the day we wanted to see how the cats would react to the snow outside. We tried to put them both out on the front stoop but they basically freaked out and ran back inside immediately. We're really not cruel to our kitties, I promise. They usually enjoy being out on the front stoop. Anyway, it was really, really nice just to be lazy and enjoy not going anywhere or really having anything to do. We did end up missing out on the Christmas chili cook-off with my extended family, it was cancelled due to the snow, but I'm glad we all stayed home and were safe! Though I am glad that by Monday the main roads were all clear and we were able to get out and do some stuff, especially celebrate Christmas with Collin's family!

My only regret from this snow is that I didn't get any pictures of it!  I should have just taken a moment or two to snap some shots, but oh well.  I'm sharing some pictures from a much larger snow fall we had in March 2009.  When you have a snow day what do you like to do? Do you enjoy being stuck inside watching the snow fall or does it make you antsy and you want to get out of the house?
Taken by me in March 2009

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

White Christmas!

In front of my Mom's tree on Christmas Eve
We had a GREAT first married Christmas together! It was such a fun day. We actually had two days of Christmas, one on Christmas with my family and one yesterday with Collin's family! It snowed on Christmas Day. This was the first white Christmas I think we've had in several years. And if my memory serves me correctly, we've only ever had 3 or so my whole life. It was pretty neat. Granted it didn't start snowing until around 4 or so and the majority of the snow fell on Sunday, but it still snowed and stuck to the ground on Christmas. It was beautiful! And Sunday was a glorious snow day!

Anyway... I just want to share some pictures with you from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I didn't take any from last night's Christmas celebration with Collin's family, though his dad got some really great shots. I may ask him for some of them. =)

Us with Collin's parents at my parent's on Christmas Eve
Opening the first present of the morning!
My first present: Mary Kay "Thinking of You" perfume
Collin with his new wallet
My cookie cutters!
My reaction to seeing a Victoria's Secret gift card.  =)
Collin's new hoodie.
Shadow investigating the presents
Stank investigating the presents
My parent's tree before we opened all the presents

Excited about the morning.

This is my dad's cat, Jake with my dad.  Jake is in LOVE with my dad.  Here he's looking at him with adoration and purring up a storm.  It was so cute.  He sat with my dad for a good majority of the morning, too!
Collin's new ukelele!
My new hat

We got lots of great gifts from both sets of parents! But the best part of the whole celebration was not the presents rather it was the time we were able to spend together with our families. We love all the time we spend with them and so it was really nice to enjoy lots of it. And Collin's brothers are visiting this week and so it was great to see and spend time with them last night!

I hope you all had as great of a Christmas celebration as we did! I hope it was spent with those you love and that you just enjoyed every minute of it!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 1 Day

*This week I'm going to do a countdown to Christmas of sorts. I'll share just a few things relating to Christmas each day this week to get us all into the holiday spirit!*

Found here

I said on Wednesday that I had more I wanted to say about presents and being a symbolism for love. It all started around 2000 years ago...

Luke 2 (NLT)

(Joseph was on his way to Bethlehem for a census decreed by Caesar) 5 He took with him Mary, his fianc'e, who was obviously pregnant by this time. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn. 8 That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10 but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11 The Savior -- yes, the Messiah, the Lord -- has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!" 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others -- the armies of heaven -- praising God: 14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors. " 15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, 19 but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.

Found here
Jesus was a gift to us. He was a gift to all mankind because God loved us. God loved us so much that he sent his only son to die on a cross to save us (John 3:16). This selfless gift of love made it so we can go to Heaven with just a simple phrase of "I believe." All we have to do is believe and love God with our whole being. I believe that Jesus Christ died on a cross for me, I believe that God loves me and wants me to have eternal life with Him. How incredible is that!? A sweet little baby boy came to earth, lived a human life, suffered just like us, and then died on a cross to prevent us from separation from His Father, OUR Father. That is the most amazing gift, the best gift I have ever received. And it's all a gift of love. We didn't (and don't) deserve the sacrifice God and Jesus made for us. Humanity is quite simply put, wretched, but that's what makes the gift so incredible. We don't deserve it yet God loves us so much anyway he was willing to give up everything to save us, everything to draw us closer to Him. True love does not get any greater than this.

Remember this Christmas the true reason we celebrate. It's not about the decorations, the gifts under the tree, the food, Santa or anything like that. It's all about the little baby born in a manger to a virgin and a carpenter. Remember and be thankful. Celebrate with JOY this year knowing that God loves you so much He would give us the best present ever!

Merry Christmas!!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 2 Days

*This week I'm going to do a countdown to Christmas of sorts. I'll share just a few things relating to Christmas each day this week to get us all into the holiday spirit!*

Taken by me

Isn't there just something so beautiful about a Christmas tree? I had a good time decorating ours this year. After all, it is our first Christmas married so this is our first tree! The Sunday after Thanksgiving we turned on some Christmas tunes, Collin sat on the couch unwrapping and handing me ornaments and I placed them on the tree. I invited Collin to put some on himself but he said he'd rather me do the job. But I didn't mind. I always liked helping my mom decorate the tree at home growing up. Her trees are always so pretty and classy.

Our tree this year is mostly a hodge podge collection of ornaments, but I like it that way. Some are from my grandmother that she used to always put on her tree, some are ones my mom didn't want anymore that she offered to me, some are ones I've gotten as gifts over the years, some are ones I've bought within the past year knowing I'd need to have ornaments of my own and one was a gift from Collin's parents, a ornament for our first Christmas together. It's a beautiful glittery sunflower with a little lady bug on it. Our tree is mostly a collection of things from people who love us. It's nice to look at the tree and think about the people who made it possible for us. Even our tree itself is a gift of love. A friend of ours had the tree that she had been decorating for the past few years as a second tree for her house but decided she was done with it and only wanted to decorate one tree this year. She graciously offered it to us. We were so extremely grateful. And both the angel atop our tree and our tree skirt were gifts of love. It's so wonderful to be surrounded by so much love from our friends and family. I can't wait to be able to put the tree up each year and be reminded of how much we're loved.

Taken by me
Do you enjoy decorating your tree? Do you put it up right after Thanksgiving or do you wait until just before Christmas? Growing up we used to go to the tree farm and buy a live one but about 5 or so years ago my mom bought a pre-lit artificial one. Do you get a live tree each year or do you put up an artificial one? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 3 Days

*This week I'm going to do a countdown to Christmas of sorts. I'll share just a few things relating to Christmas each day this week to get us all into the holiday spirit!*

 photo tumblr_mfdrzg8yau1qgea4oo1_500_large.jpg
Found here

As a kid growing up my sister and I couldn't wait to wake up on Christmas morning and open gifts! It was so exciting to run into the living room and see what Santa had brought us. My parent's had a rule though (the older we got the more enforced it was) that we weren't allowed to wake them up before a certain time. I think that was pretty good for their sanity. Christmas morning must be terribly long and tiring for a parent. Anyway... my parents continued the tradition of not putting out the "Santa" gifts until after my sister and I went to bed on Christmas Eve. As a teenager I remember not wanting to see the tree and all the presents under it until it was time to actually open the gifts (I love surprises). I would lay in bed reading until it was time to wake my parents up and if I had to go to the bathroom I would purposefully not look at the tree. I'm actually still like that today. Christmas morning has always been relaxed and nice in my house, for as far back as I can remember anyway. Once my dad finally got up we would all sit in the living room and take turns opening presents. To me that's the best. I really enjoy seeing what everyone else has gotten and their reactions and what not so it's not enjoyable to me when the presents are all being opened at once. I want to see the joy on everyone's faces! Is anyone else like this? I do enjoy getting gifts, I'm not gonna lie, but giving is so much better!

This year Christmas morning is going to be different. Good, but different! It's a year of starting new traditions, and new memories with our families. This is the first Christmas my sister and I are married. I'm excited to wake up Christmas morning at my house, just me and Collin and the cats. We'll open our presents to each other, get ready and head on over to my parent's house where Kaity and Tim will meet us and we'll open my family's presents. We'll open them one by one each getting excited for the others in the goodies they've received. Then we'll have a delicious brunch (I say delicious not because I know what's being made but simply because my mom is an awesome cook!) But you know what, it's really not about the presents at all. The day is so special because we're all together and we're all showing each other that we love them and appreciate them. The gifts are just a simple way of doing so.

So this Christmas I hope you are able to spend it with your loved ones, showing them you love and appreciate them. And even if that doesn't involve presents, there are many ways to let someone know you love them. The presents are just a nice bit of symbolism.


(I have more I want to say about presents and being a symbolism for love but I'm going to share more about that on Friday... stay tuned!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 4 Days

*This week I'm going to do a countdown to Christmas of sorts. I'll share just a few things relating to Christmas each day this week to get us all into the holiday spirit!*

Today I'm going to tell you about some of my favorite Christmas music. It's one of the things I love most about this season! But yet again, I love music so anything involving awesome "new" (meaning I have not listened to them in 11 months so they feel new) music is great in my book!

First off, I'm going to start with my ultimate favorite Christmas song. The orchestral version of Sleigh Ride. This song is SO much fun and it's so much better than the worded version. I enjoy the ones with words but this is the best. There's so much depth to it and the parts are fun and intricate. It even has a horse whinny at the end. =) Have a listen, here. This version is by the Boston Pops Orchestra but I also have the London Symphony Orchestra's version and it's just as good. It just all depends on the interpretations of the conductor.

Arthur Fiedler: Boston Pops Orchestra - Sleigh Ride .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

On another note, I've heard this song live, in July. =) Our local college, St. Mary's College of Maryland, hosts a summer concert series called the River Concert Series and the Chesapeake Orchestra plays with guest artists each week. At their very last concert in 2009 the conductor, Jeffrey Silberschlag, announced at the end that they had one more piece for us and since they wouldn't see us until next summer they wanted to wish us a Merry Christmas as well. And then they started to play Sleigh Ride. I just about keeled over from excitement!

The next thing I'm going to share with you is an album. My favorite Christmas music album is MercyMe's "The Christmas Sessions". This album is full of wonderful songs that just bring a smile to my face. It has some traditional hymns that are made contemporary, some fun traditional carols/songs and some heart warming originals. I definitely listen to this one often throughout Christmas time. My favorites from the album are Winter Wonderland, Silent Night, and Joseph's Lullaby. I highly recommend picking up this album if you haven't already.

And one last thing I want to share is any and all of Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas albums. If you don't know, Mannheim Steamroller is produced by Chip Davis and the music is contemporized produced versions of classic Christmas songs. Even if you don't realize I'm sure you've heard their music in a store. The music is extremely popular and it wouldn't be Christmas to me without listening to it. It's one of those things that we listened to while growing up and it really interested me in produced (and instrumental) music at a young age. I remember one time having the album playing and I was sitting on the couch and there were sleigh bells that sounded in the left speaker and then slowly moved into the right speaker to sound as if a sleigh had ridden through my living room. It was incredible to my 11 year old self. Here's a song sampling the music.

Mannheim Steamroller - Joy to the World .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

So what's your favorite Christmas music? I have TONS more that I love and enjoy listening to, but these are just my favorites or else this would be an INCREDIBLY long post. Please share with me some stuff you think I should check out in the comments!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 5 Days

*This week I'm going to do a countdown to Christmas of sorts. I'll share just a few things relating to Christmas each day this week to get us all into the holiday spirit!*

Friday night Collin and I went to Bubby Knott's farm (a Christmas tradition of sorts) with Jim and got to look around the shops and at all the animals. He even has llamas and alpacas! Plus of course we got to see the amazing light show. If you don't know, Bubby Knott's farm has a light display every year and for the past few it's been set to music like you may have seen online.

That's an actual video from 2008 of the farm. The quality isn't great but it can give you an idea. It's fun though because you drive through and tune your radio to a lower frequency FM station and you can watch the two main houses dance in time to the songs playing on your radio.

At church on Sunday our youth group presented a really good drama about sharing the story of Christ's birth. It reminded me that the story is something BIG. Something to share and not just keep to myself and talk with amongst other Christians. It's something that needs to be spread far and wide with everyone who will listen. If you really think about it, it's an amazing story! I'm going to share another video that a friend posted on facebook because I thought it was a powerful way of sharing the Christmas story in a way that relates to our day and age.

Isn't that just incredible? And it really puts into perspective the struggles and emotions Mary and Joseph were going through. Could you imagine being either of them? Mary excited to be the mother of the Son of God but yet scared of what may face her in the future and then poor Joseph having to make the decision to stay with Mary or leave her because she is having a child who isn't his. But of course the angel speaks to him and tells him it will all be okay and that it's God's Son. Incredible!

Are you getting excited and ready for Christmas? I know I sure am! It's so close and I can't wait for all the festivities!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Favorites - week 2

Today the things I'm sharing with you are just a few entertainment type things that I love. 

First off we have MysteryGuitarMan who has become quite popular on youtube.  I love how creative he is with his videos.  And they all have to do with music in some way or another.  I love that, quite simply because I love music!  Every once in a while he'll post a video that I'm not super thrilled over, but the majority I really enjoy and they're all so creative!  Check him out and let me know what you think.

Second is one of my favorite tv shows.  Burn Notice.  The season 4 finale was last night and it was AMAZING.  I've been watching this show since it first started back in 2007 and I can't get enough.  I have all the seasons on dvd so far (I'll get 4 when it comes out) and I even got Collin into it.  It's a show about an unjustly burned spy and his struggle trying to get back into the counter-intelligence world.  There's a great core cast of characters that I adore (each week I say at least once "I love Fiona!!"  or "ahhh Sam is so awesome!", etc.) and each week they take a "job" to help someone out with a problem.  But they use all their spy skills, lots of explosives, and they actually explain how/why they do things.  It's fantastic and last night's finale was no exception.  It was packed with action, explosives, romance, suspense, drama, etc.  Ahhh I wish the season wasn't over so I didn't have to wait until summer to watch again.  =/  But anyway, I highly recommend you watch Burn Notice if you don't already.

Third is one my favorite bands, David Crowder Band.  The band has been around for a while and I've actually always really liked their music but it was just in the past 3 years or so that I REALLY got to liking them.  I really started to like them as a band and follow them personally and not just their music.  However, I also started to appreciate their music for how intricate it really is.  They use sooo many processed sounds and computer loops and tracks and what not that their music is so incredible!  I've seen them in concert a few times but most recently was a year ago when they were on their Church Music tour for their newest album.  This concert was incredible!  They were actually able to recreate the album almost perfectly because they had so many computers and synthesizers and equipment on stage.  The best part was that on the album the drummer Bwack recorded a lot of songs twice playing different things each time.  The drum parts are so full but they can't be played by one drummer at once.  So in order to have the whole drum part live Bwack actually created a robot drummer named Steve who was programmed and played with them on tour.  INCREDIBLE.  So yeah... in addition to them being amazing live, their recorded music is just amazing.  If you've never listened to them or only to just a few of their songs, pick up "Church Music" or "A Collision".  Those are my two favorites and I think they'd be good for someone just beginning to listen to them.  Some of their stuff is different, but it's very cutting edge and intricate.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

So there ya have it.  Some things I'm loving right now.  What are your "Friday Favorites"?  I'd love to know!  I'm always looking to expand my horizons on anything.


*Images found on google*

Thursday, December 16, 2010


 photo spring-pring-ring-ing-ng-ggg_large.jpg
Found here

It's snowing!!  It's snowing!!  It's so beautiful outside right now.  It started snowing about 9:30 or so and the earth is already covered so beautifully!  It's accumulating pretty quickly and it's supposed to continue snowing into this evening.  From what I've heard, around 4:00 or so it's going to turn into a wintery mix.  Those are the worst though because that's when you get ice.  I don't like ice.  =/  Anyway.. for now I will stare out my window at the beautiful snow and wish I was outside playing in it.  Though it's much too cold to be outside.  It's only 25 degrees out right now!  And the temperature is going to continue to drop this evening which will really create some ice!  Well, that's what they make scarves, gloves, coats, and boots for!  At least bundling up helps some in the cold.  The only thing I'm concerned about is praise team practice tonight.  I'm concerned that it will be cancelled because of the impending road conditions.  It makes sense that it might be because of ice and snow on the road, but I love practice.  Well, we'll see.  If you're getting snow I hope you are able to enjoy its beauty and that it doesn't create any issues with plans you may have!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wake Up, Little Cindy

 photo tumblr_l0bnqaICmc1qa7wgdo1_400_large.jpg
Found here

I have a confession.  Mornings are hard.  Granted, once I'm up and moving about I'm fine, but actually waking up and getting out of bed is hard.  And it's not an every day thing.  It's only on days when I have to get up before 7:30.  If it's after 7:30 I'm good to go.  But the big problem is, I have to be at work at 7 so every week day my alarm is set before 6.  This does not bode well for me, especially since the sun isn't even up yet!  I think there should be a rule that you mustn't rise before the sun.  =) 

Anyway... this not waking up easy thing isn't good.  Especially when you have a husband who jumps out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off.  The nice thing about our alarm clock is we have an iHome so we don't (always) have to listen to annoying beeping.  Unless we forget to put one of our iPods on we wake up to music.  But it doesn't matter to me.  If it's too early the music won't get me excited to get up.  But back to what I was saying, it really bothers Collin that he gets up with the alarm and I linger in bed when he doesn't have to be at work until 10 (most days, some days he has to be there at 7).  So I've promised him that I would do better, that I would get out of bed right away instead of being lazy.

This morning I succeeded.  The music went off; I had purposefully picked an upbeat song that I knew would excite and energize me.  After the song was over I got out of bed and went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth.  I then went downstairs and did a little bit of exercising and then headed upstairs to shower.  I got dressed and ready for work.  You would think that by getting up earlier than I ever do I would be in great shape time-wise for getting to work.  WRONG.  I was running a HALF HOUR behind.  How did that even happen!?  I don't know but it almost doesn't seem to be beneficial to get up early if I'm gonna be even later than I am when I lay in bed until 6:20.  No no... that's not true, it is good to get up on time but I just don't understand how I could run so late this morning.  Irony is such a weird thing.  Maybe like Collin said I should pick my clothes out the night before, but how will I know what I will feel like wearing the next day?  Some days I don't even know what I feel like wearing for that day, much less the next!

Anyway... do any of you have any tips on how to make getting up any easier in the morning?  I did succeed today and I must admit I was quite giggly and energetic, maybe it was the music (thanks Taio Cruz!) or maybe it was Collin rubbing my back during the music, but it was kinda fun being happy at 5:45 in the morning.  lol  I just want to know how to be happy every morning at 5:45.  =)  I think Collin would like "happy-morning Cindy" much better than "grumpy-morning Cindy".

*sigh* Changing habits is HARD.  At least this is a good habit to change to.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Domesticated, Much?

I must say, for not being one who likes to cook I sure am excited about my meals for this week!  Last Friday I planned out meals and went to the store and bought the few things I needed and can't wait to cook them all!  And let me reemphasize... I do NOT like to cook.  I much prefer when Collin makes the meals, but more often than not I need to come up with something because he works later than me on most days.  I think maybe my main problem with not liking to cook is not having a plan.  I go to start dinner and I don't know what to make and it takes me 15 minutes just to decide and then I open up a box of Hamburger Helper or I make grilled cheese and soup because I'm so frustrated with not knowing what to make.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE soup and grilled cheese for a meal, it's easy and delicious, but it's almost a cop out.  I think planning is good for me.  Knowing what I have in the house and what I am going to make with all that is important for me to get excited about making dinner.

Found here

So this week I've got some good meals (one already eaten) up my sleeve.  Last night I made a Pampered Chef recipe called a Taco Ring.  It was really delicious.  Definitely something we'll be making again.  And it was quite easy, too!  You can find the recipe here:  I actually used the Pampered Chef Main Dishes cookbook that we got for a wedding gift but that's the same recipe.  The hardest part was browning the ground beef, which goes to show you it's not hard to make at all.  I didn't take pictures quite simply because I forgot, but I'll take some pictures of the rest of my meals.

The meals I'll be preparing the rest of the week are:
Tonight: Southwestern Chicken Bake served with baked potatoes, and a broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot blend.
Thursday: Baked ziti
Friday: Homemade Spinach and Pepperoni Pizza.

I'm excited to see how they all turn out and I'll be sure to keep you all posted.  If they're good I'll share the recipes!

I'm always eager to find new recipes and dishes to try, what's a good, new (or tried and true favorite) recipe that you've had recently?


Monday, December 13, 2010

The End of the Week

This weekend was a bit of a fun one.  I wasn't home very much, which was a little sad, but it was still a good weekend.  I got to go to Waldorf twice this weekend, to very different stores both trips though.  On Friday Collin and I headed up after work and he got fitted for his tux for the wedding he's in on New Year's.  Afterwards we wandered into hhgregg since neither of us had been in one and were curious about the inside.  I immediately began longing for a place of my own where I can buy the appliances I want.  They had the most gorgeous front loading washer and dryer set, in red none-the-less.  We looked at tvs and stereo systems for a bit and then headed over to the kitchen section and I yet again longed to buy new appliances.  I found my dream oven.  It's a dual oven but one of them is much smaller than a regular oven and is much more energy efficient.  You can basically cook just like you would in a larger one but it heats up much faster and since it's so small it uses less heat!  Oh man.  I was in love.  After we left hhgregg we headed to Bed, Bath, and Beyond where I continued to yearn for a bigger kitchen to put all the awesome gadgets, appliances, and place settings I saw in.  One day I'll be able to have my dream kitchen and I can not wait until that day.

On Saturday I headed back up the road to Waldorf with my mom and we went to the Christmas Tree Store and that place was awesome!  I had so much fun just looking at everything they had in there.  Before we went Mom had told me it was much more than just Christmas stuff and boy was she right!  This place was awesome!  I did buy only Christmas things but their selection of non-Christmas items is incredible!  After there we headed over to the mall where we each completed some Christmas shopping and got free Toll House cookies!  There was some lady in the middle of the mall who worked for Toll House that had a tiny oven and was baking the cookies right there!  I actually had two, one on my way up the escalator and another on our way out of Kohl's.  =)  Chocolate chip cookies are amazing and when they're free they're even better! 

 photo tumblr_lc91wrNJUP1qdazhzo1_500_large.jpg
similar to my dream kitchen found here

Later that evening Collin and I had our friend Jim over and we had a rousing night of gaming.  We started the evening off with Mouse Trap where much to our dismay we realized we were missing one of the marbles (we ended up rigging it with a battery dropping onto the see saw part) and not all the pieces were made very well so it was kinda a rig to get it to work properly.  I guess that's what happens when you buy it at a yard sale.  After Mouse Trap, which Jim won, we started a game of Risk.  I had only played Risk once before this and I was 12.  I did not remember anything about the game so Collin and Jim explained to me.  I actually ending up really enjoying it (until I started losing and then I got grumpy).  Right off the bat I took over the continent of Australia and had most of Asia actually, too.  And at one point I did own all of Asia, but that was a very short lived victory as Collin came and invaded me from Alaska.  I was not amused.  But yeah, it was a really fun game and even though we didn't finish it (it got too late) Collin was deemed the winner and the underdog.  At one point Collin had 9 countries and only one army on each, but then he came back and took over South and North America, some of Asia and some of Africa.  And on his last turn before we ended he took one territory from Australia from me.  I ended up getting second place over all which was cool.  So yeah, it was fun game!

Yesterday after church I had a bridal shower to go to and it was fun!  We played some fun games and the bride got lots of great gifts!  I enjoyed being there and supporting Bev in her upcoming marriage.  I'm so excited for her and Chris!  Afterwards Collin and I went over to his parent's house and spent the evening with them.  We had a nice time and I had a nice chat with his mom for a while while the guys were out getting us dinner.  We watched a bit of Jingle All the Way and that movie is so funny.

So yes, I'd say it was quite a good weekend!  I didn't get the baking done like I wanted to but I'll do it this week sometime, I'm sure!  What did you do this weekend?  Anything fun and exciting?  Share it with me in the comments!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Favorites - week 1

I'm gonna start doing Friday Favorites on here!  I'll post a few things each Friday that I'm currently loving.

  • This video cracks me up!

  • These ornaments
    Found here
    are amazing and I want to make them!


  • I want to have Wall Art, like these in my home...

  • Found in a "Housewares-Bedroom" search on etsy.


    What's some of the stuff you're loving right now?


    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Snail Mail Makes My Heart Happy!

    I absolutely love to get mail.  One of my favorite things is to stop by the mailbox everyday on my way home from work and see what lovelies are waiting for me.  Unfortunately most days it's junk: pre-approved credit cards they want you to sign up for, coupons for places I don't shop, the RedPlum flyer, etc.  But occassionally there's that one piece of *real* mail hiding in that stack of junk.  It's that little piece that keeps me so excited for checking the mail!

    This time of year makes my heart especially happy because we get Christmas cards!  With this being our first year of married life and our first year of living on our own we're getting Christmas cards addressed just to us!  It's not address to my parents with my sister and I as an addition.  It's for Collin and Cindy Pastorius!  I LOVE it!  We receieved our first one yesterday and boy was I excited!  I can't wait to get more in the mail as the month continues and Christmas gets closer.

    Since I like to receive cards so much I also thoroughly enjoy sending cards as well.  If getting a card in the mail brings me so much joy it is bound to bring joy to others and I want to share that!  And as I said, it's our first Christmas on our own so we get to pick out our own cards (an awesome first!) and I love to put my personality into it.  I was disappointed because I wasn't sure I'd be able to buy Christmas cards this year (the cost does add up, after all) but I heard about this wonderful promotion through Shutterfly for bloggers and couldn't have been happier to be selected to participate!  Shutterfly is offering 50 FREE cards to bloggers and all you have to do is sign up here, but hurry the registration deadline is tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 10!  

    I took a look at the cards they offer in their 2010 holiday collection and there's so many wonderful cards to choose from!  It will be quite difficult to make a decision but I'd like to share with you a few of my favorites!
    So there you have a few of my favorites!  That's just 5 of the hundreds I could choose from!  If you haven't picked your Christmas cards yet I'd encourage you to look into using Shutterfly!  Even if you can't take advantage of their blogger promotion they're having a good special on their cards.  I can't wait to send my cards out to our friends and family!

    Which card do you like the best?  I think I have my top pick but I want to see what you guys think!  Let me know in the comments.


    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    A chill in the air

    found here
    December has started off quite chilly.  I'm not a fan of the really bitter cold temperatures.  I like to wear sweaters and scarves, but when it's so cold outside that wearing a sweater, scarf, my pea coat and leather gloves is not enough, it is too cold!  I'm such a wimp with cold temperatures.  I don't breathe well and I feel like I just can't do anything.  I'm hoping for a nice respite sometime soon.  We'll see though.  If it's anything like last winter it's going to be a brutal one.  We've already had a few heavy frosts.  It makes it so difficult to get to work on time when you open up the front door and your car is covered in a layer of ice.  I've gotten better about checking out the window when I come downstairs to see if I need to warm my car up beforehand though. 

    Not everything about the cold is so bad though.  There are some pluses!  For instance, it's so pretty outside when there is frost covering the earth.  Everything just sparkles and it's magnificent!  Also, when it's really cold outside the sun just seems to be brighter and more brilliant and I love that!  For instance, today the sun is beautiful and so bright; it makes me quite happy!  Also, with the cold comes wrapping up in blankets and getting cozy on the couch with Collin.  I love cozy evenings on the couch together!  And for those of you who enjoy hot beverages I'm sure a plus is hot tea/coffee/hot chocolate.  So yes, the cold is not all bad, but I do not want it to last for long.  By the end of this month I'll be wishing for spring to arrive!

    What are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the cold?  I'd love to hear them in the comments!


    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Surprise Coupons

    Yesterday I left work about a half hour early because I wasn't feeling so good. My head and neck were killing me and my eyes were sore and puffy. All I wanted to do was crawl into my bed and take a nap. Never does my bed feel so good as it does when I don't feel good. Anyway... I don't know that I actually fell asleep by the time Collin got home but I had rested my eyes anyway for a little bit. Collin had picked up the mail on his way home and came into the room and plopped it all down onto the bed. This was a huge pile of mail (we hadn't been to the mailbox since either last Tuesday or Wednesday, I can't remember).

    Anyway... contained within the mail were two very exciting coupons for me! One was a $5.00 Hallmark rewards coupon which now brings my Hallmark rewards coupon total to $10.00! I LOVE Hallmark and I can't wait to spend those coupons on some cards for people! It's one of my very favorite things to do. Go to Hallmark, spend over an hour picking out the perfect cards, then mailing them to my friends and family just to make them smile. =) It makes me immensely sad that I don't have the funds to keep up with that hobby right now. So you can imagine my joy when I saw that Hallmark coupon! The second coupon I had was a Victoria's Secret Happy Birthday coupon! They sent me a $10 coupon to spend anytime through January 2011! This also makes me immensely happy because I love that store! They have the CUTEST clothes and I've been eyeing a few sweaters lately and this will help me to actually be able to get one. Hopefully I'll get some gift cards for Christmas as well that will make my out of pocket costs even less. But anyway... I wanted to share with you what I'd like to get with my coupon!

    Do you have a wish list of clothes (or anything) you'd like to buy? Do you ever get surprise coupons in the mail? Aren't they the greatest!? Tell me about them in the comments!


    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Weekend Recap

    My weekend was a blast!  I had so much fun with my girls.  Like I thought, we laughed so hard many times!  We shared youtube video favorites and Alicia showed me this one. 
    I don't think that I'd heard this song before but you all probably have, she said it was a really popular song this summer but I don't listen to the radio (I am obsessed with my iPod) so I don't know new music unless someone shares it with me, pretty much.  But yeah... this song has been stuck in my head ALL weekend.  But it is quite catchy and it's definitely something I'll be listening to a lot for a while.

    Some of my highlights from this weekend include
    •  Playing Imaginiff.
      • Imaginiff _________ were a Beatle which one would he/she be?
        • George
        • Paul
        • John
        • Ringo
        • Volkswagen
        • Dung
      • And dear Amy, after we had all answered asked, "I didn't know there was a Beatle named Volkswagen.  What did he do?  Background vocals?"  And she was totally serious.  We just busted out laughing!  Oh man. 
    • Marcell the Shell With Shoes On
    • Visiting Messiah and seeing the different changes they've made to it since graduation and mourning the demolition of the old schoolhouse.

    • Sadie (Mary Lee's dog) attacking her leash while it was still attached to her collar.

    • Seeing SNOW!  Even though it was just tiny flakes that didn't stick.

    • Snuggling with Collin and watching a movie on Saturday once we were both home.

    • A good worship service yesterday at church and a successful first meeting for ASP afterwards.

    • Spending the day at my parent's house catching up with them and helping Mom decorate the house for Christmas.

    • Watching Desperate Housewives.

    • Anyway... all in all it was a great weekend! Waking up was really hard this morning though because it was so cold in the house and my bed was so cozy! Does anyone else have that problem? I did not want to get out of bed! I hope you all had great weekends yourselves! Leave me a comment and let me know what you did. I'd love to hear how you spent your weekend!


    Friday, December 3, 2010

    Roadtrips and Girlfriends

    Amy and I at Spring Fling 2006
    Alicia, Mary Lee and I at Christmas Tradition 2007

    Today I get to drive to Pennsylvania to spend the night with some of my girlfriends from college!  I'm so excited to see my girls again.  I miss them all so very much and I hate that we live so far apart.  The last time I saw Alicia and Mary Lee was at my wedding in April and I last saw Amy in July.  It will be so wonderful to just spend some time together.  Who knows what we'll do, but I can guarantee there will be lots of laughter!  Boy do these girls know how to laugh!  We always had the best times together in college and we spent so much time together it's hard not being able to see them all the time.  Even though I graduated almost 3 years ago (this month!) it's still the thing I miss most about college: seeing my friends whenever I wanted.  And I'm really glad that Amy doesn't live *too* far from me and that she's sorta on the way.  I'm going to pick her up and then we'll drive the last 2 hours together!  Fortunately it's only a little more than a 3 hour drive, so it's not bad, I just don't like to do long trips by myself anymore.  When I was in college I had no problem driving to and from Messiah by myself but now it seems like I drive for more than an hour alone and I get so drowsy!

    Anyway... I look forward to catching up, laughing, playing games, watching moveis, and whatever else we choose to do.  I hope you all have a great weekend!  Hopefully yours is filled with getting to see people you love and lots of laughter!


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