Harvest Sunset 3 column

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Forward to 2012

Today was a beautiful last day of 2011. It was sunny and 74 degrees!! Not at all like the chilly weather we've had but it was a welcome change. I made sure to get out and enjoy the sunshine a little and took a walk around the neighborhood. It won't last long though, it's supposed to be only in the 50's tomorrow!

I spent the day doing various things, restocking our fridge and pantry for one. We had nothing after being on vacation! We started taking down the tree decorations and then I did some general planning for the upcoming months.

I had hoped to post more today about some goals I have for 2012 but I haven't quite gotten them all down on paper. I promise this week I will post those! I really hope that blogging about my 2012 goals will help me stay accountable and get them accomplished. I've been inspired lately by several bloggers on the web to tackle some projects I've been putting off, on top of preparing for this baby!! I definitely have my work cut out for me and it will be a very busy next few months!!

I can't wait to dive right in and see what 2012 has in store for me!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Merry Christmas Pictures, Images and Photos

God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth; the all of Christmas, which is Christ.
Wilda English

Have a beautiful, blessed day!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Fun

It’s been a busy week preparing for the holidays!! We will be traveling this year to my in-laws who live out of state. With 2 kids and being pregnant, it has been interesting trying to get all packed up, gifts wrapped and figure out how to handle Santa and family gifts with the girls while going out of town. We decided we would only bring a few gifts with us for the girls to give to them at their grandparents and the rest we would save for when we got home. I had to explain to my 5 yr old that Santa would come to our house while we are gone and when we got home all of her gifts would be waiting for her. I was a little worried because our nieces and nephews will all be there Christmas morning, opening gifts from family and also getting their Santa gifts. You know how kids are and they want what the other ones have!! I’m pretty sure this will be the last yr we travel over Christmas. Once there are 3 kids, it’s too much trouble to plan for, not to mention too expensive!!

In the midst of this week’s craziness, we did manage to make time for some holiday cookie baking!!

Keira and I made gingerbread cookies using gingerbread men and candy cane cookie cutters. She had a blast putting facing and buttons on her gingerbread men with raisins and M&M’s.

They turned out pretty good; I didn’t use a special recipe. Just good ol’ Betty Crocker!!! My husband isn’t a big fan of gingerbread and I’m a chocolate chip cookie kind of girl so we also made some delicious chocolate chip cookies using the Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Chips. SO YUMMY!!! (Sorry no pictures) The recipe made a ton so we shared some with our neighbors and are bringing the rest to my mom’s tonight for our family Christmas there.

I'm looking forward to our Christmas weekend with family. It's going to be chaotic but I know it will all be worth it. Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pregnancy Update

My pregnancy has been moving along smoothly so far, I am currently at 22 weeks. Time just seems to be flying by!! We had an ultrasound a few weeks ago & everything was looking good, except they were having a hard time getting a good look at the baby's heart. They scheduled me for another sonogram this Wednesday and I'm praying for a healthy baby!!!

Since this is my 3rd pregnancy and I knew the gender of the girls, I had decided early on that I wanted this one to be a surprise. My husband however, had other ideas!! He wanted to know from the get-go and I was having a hard time convincing him to wait. Of course it was easier to say I'm going to wait when it was too early to tell anyway!! My reasoning was, we already had 2 girls and were hoping for a boy, so why not wait and if it turned out to be a boy, we would be overly excited on the day of his birth! And if was a girl, we wouldn't really be dissapointed because we would be so happy to meet our precious child!! I know it sounds sad to even bring up the word dissapointment, but honestly I may have been just a tad for maybe 2.5 seconds if I had found out in a sonogram.

During my sono the nurse said the cord was in between the baby's legs so she couldn't see the "parts". I looked at Kevin and said "See, it's a sign we aren't supposed to find out the gender!" But even then I couldn't stop myself from looking and trying to figure it out. The heartbeat was 139, which the old wive's tale says boys generally have lower heart rates than girls. My girls were always in the 150-160's, so at this point I'm thinking "boy". The Dr came in and was asking a few questions & told us the nurse can work her magic and get a better look at the baby if we wanted her to. Curiosity was taking hold!! AND, I gave in :) She proceeded to tell me she is very certain it is a boy and pointed out what she could see. We were thrilled!!! I'm still a bit apprehensive though and waiting for a 2nd look to confirm.

I thought my 5 yr old would love to see the baby so we decided we will bring the girls with us tomorrow. Can't wait!!! Praying tonight that our precious little one is healthy as can be.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Starting Our "Elf on the Shelf" Tradition

Well, it's finally happened, our Elf on the Shelf
Elf has arrived!! Better late than never right?? I first heard about this last year, but didn't know much about the whole idea. This year, it seems most families I know have their own Elf at their house and now that my girls are 5 and 2, I thought it was time we join in!!!

Keira informed me in early December that there was an Elf at her school in the classroom and how he moved every night to a new location. I said "Oh sounds like we need one of those, we'll have to go buy one." To which her response was "Um no mom, you don't buy him, he just shows up!!" DUH. She was so excited about it, I knew we had to get one. I procrastinated at first after seeing the $30 price tag, I thought that was a lot for a small little elf figure and a book. But once I realized that, A)There was no getting it on sale, and B) How much fun other families were having with the elf, I figured it was time to get on board!!

On Monday of this week while I was at work, I told my hubby we have to get one today!! He had to go to several stores before purchasing ours at Barnes & Noble. At home he found a fun spot for him to hang out and be spotted somewhat easily, atop our tv which is mounted over the fireplace. After picking up Keira from school, he hinted around for her to be on the lookout for something new. The second she spotted him, he said she was beyond excited!! She even had tears in her eyes, sweet girl! I am sad I missed that :(

That night we read the story aloud and she decided to name him "Frisbee". A little odd I know, but the book gives examples of names for the Elf in the story and one was "Fisbee" so she thought Frisbee was better :)

Here he is this morning, hanging out on some upper cabinets.

If you don't know the basics about this whole phenomenon, here are the highlights: The "Elf" appears at your home at the beginning of December (or whenever you get one!) and he watches over the children. Every night he flies back to Santa Claus to report on your child's behavior, good or bad. He has magic powers but these powers are lost if he is touched. He returns to a new location in the house and the children have a lot of fun seeing who can be the first to find him every morning. On Christmas Eve, the Elf flies back to be with Santa until next year. This is where it is worth the $30, you can use him over and over!

The hope is that knowing the Elf is watching over them, your children will behave for fear of Santa hearing a bad report. It's only been a few days but we are having a lot of fun with him so far, and the girls definitely respond to the threat of Frisbee telling Santa!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

My totally favorite pasta-A Jamie Oliver recipe

I am in love with this pasta dish and have been since I first saw it made on an Oprah segment. Just reading the ingredients list many people are a bit skeptical. However the first time I made this, my husband and I LOVED it!! I've also made it for family/friends and had good results.

The recipe name is Jools' Favorite Saturday Afternoon Pasta. Jools is Jamie Oliver's wife. This is definitely a recipe we use a lot around here. The link is to the original posting of it on Oprah's website several years ago. There is something about the perfect blend of cinnamon, red onion, basil and lemon flavors and fresh parmesan that give it a TON of flavor while also remaining light and refreshing. We use whole wheat pasta and sometimes have a hard time finding rigatoni so we use penne and it's delicious!! Otherwise we pretty much follow the recipe exactly.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm very excited that my church announced a new Women's Bible Study starting in January! It is a Beth Moore study entitled James: Mercy Triumphs. It is an in depth study of the Book of James, who was Jesus' brother. You can purchase a workbook throught your church usually or at many national Christian book retailers. The study includes a a workbook, videos and discussion time. You can read more about the topics covered here.

As I mentioned, we are starting in January & meeting every Wednesday which is perfect for me since it is my only day with both of the girls in school!! I am looking forward to growing in my faith and learning a lot through this study. And I have a friend joining me!!

I know that Beth Moore is very popular and I am WAY behind in that I have never done one of her Bible studies. I have truly been missing out!! If your church is doing a simliar study, I'd love to hear!! I will be back every week after our study to report what I have learned and hopefully hear some thoughts back from you. :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tasty & Lean Turkey Chili

With the weather changing and the temperatures dropping, chili is one of my favorite stand by recipes to make every Fall & Winter. As a healthier alternative, my family and I started making chili using ground turkey instead of ground beef. We usually buy the Jenni O brand Lean, which is 93% lean and only 7% fat. I used to use the McCormick's chili season packet, but decided to look for a recipe using individual spices and then we could tweak it to our liking. I found this recipe a few years ago at Allrecipes.com and it is definitely a keeper!

Here are my ingredients, minus the onion, garlic and turkey, which were already in the pot :)

I followed most of the recipe, however we like extra beans (can you believe it, my kiddos eat beans! hooray!)so we had 2 cans instead of one and also added a small can of tomato sauce. I had pinto beans on hand instead of kidney beans and I think they work just fine. To offset the added ingredients, I also added a tad more chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. We like it a bit spicy!

Simmering long enough is definitely the secret to getting the best flavor. The recipe calls for 30 minutes to simmer but even a little longer is better.

I used my new Le Crueset which I am in love with and it turned out fabulous! Add a little shredded cheddar cheese on top and a side of cornbread and you are set!! Best of all there are plenty of leftovers for another meal or you can portion some out to freeze for a later date. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Money Saving Mom's Budget book- A Must Have!

I've been a reader of the Money Saving Mom blog probably since 2008. She has a wealth of knowledge she shares on everything from budgeting, cooking, couponing, saving & paying cash for items, living well on less, freezer cooking and more. All while raising and homeschooling 3 children. Now, she has a new book coming out this January compiling years of experience on all of these topics. It is called The Money Saving Mom's Budget and is now available for Pre-order on Amazon.

Hurry and get yours today! And don't forget to check our her blog, if you are not already a reader and let me know what you think!!

My not so secret, SECRET.

I have been away more than I planned, but I do have a very good reason! It seems my body has been taken over by a small human, baby #3!!!

Here he/she is at 11.5 weeks.  They still couldn't hear a heartbeat with the doppler so I had another internal sonogram.  Saw a strong 160 bpm! Baby was apparently napping, I would have been worried at the lack of movement if I hadn't seen the heartbeat. Dr said they were resting, and then they had a big hiccup and their whole body shook!!  Very cute :)   It's amazing to see how well developed they already are so early on. You can see the legs outstretched and the torso and left arm. The right arm and head were more visible in person than in this photo. Here they sort of blend in with the uterus wall.

My husband and I had been on the fence about whether or not we wanted to go for a third child. It was quite an adjustment for us going from one to two children, but we eventually got the hang of it. And I just had a feeling that somehow my little family was not yet complete. In July we decided to "see what happens" and what do you know, the first month we were very blessed and a little shocked to find out another baby was on its way!!! With 2 little girls, we are both hoping for a healthy boy this time. Although another girl will fit in just fine!

My due date is April 22, 2012. I'm very excited to have an April baby! Maybe he/she will even have an Easter birthday every 5 yrs, we'll see. My other kids birthdays are May & June, so it will be a busy time every year. They will all be a month shy of 3 years apart. Perfect spacing to me!

I am currently 17 weeks 5 days. My sonogram is scheduled for next Wed at 7:30am. Why so early, I do not know. Hoping that means we will be first and not waiting. This time around I really wanted to wait and not find out the baby's gender. I feel like it would make for a great surprise and be fun to do something different, especially since this should be our last child. My husband however now has a different idea and wants to know. I'm hoping we can come to an agreement before next week. My agreement :) So far most people I have told just can't believe I'm not going to find out, I even have a few friends being a little pushy on the subject. Which in fact makes me even more determined to wait! The way I see it is we have all the essentials, and if it's a girl, we won't need a thing. If it is indeed a boy, we would need clothes and boy bedding. But we use a bassinet the first couple months so the bedding can wait. I'm sure I can get a few boy outfits to have on hand, and besides, that's what grandma's are for!!! I know the second that baby arrives, both grandmothers will run out to shop!!

I will definitely post next week on the sonogram results. Praying for a healthy, developing baby!!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yippie I found it!!

As I posted last week, I was planning a trip back to Home Goods to get my lovely Le Crueset pot, a late birthday present to myself and early Christmas from the hubby. After more than a week, I was surprised to see 2 left!!

As with most items from a store like HomeGoods/Marshalls, this one was labeled "Seconds" meaning it had a few flaws compared to the ones they would sell at full price from another retail store. I carefully looked the two pots over, the red one had a few imperfections in the enamel on the outside. But I couldn't find anything wrong with this one!!

Last night I used it for the first time to make Chicken & Dumplings, the cheaters way. I had a soup mix that contained all the spices and only had to add the water, chicken, veggies, and make the dumplings. It turned out quite well for being so easy!!! Of course home made is so much better but this momma needed something quick!

I forgot to take the picture until we had already spooned some out, hence the half full pot :) I promise to do better next time.

I have a feeling I will get a lot of good use out of this pot in the next few months. Already bought my ingredients for Taco Soup! Recipe to come!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Look what I found at Home Goods!

On a random trip to Home Goods the other day I was returning a lamp and of course had to wander the aisles looking for any fun finds. Their stock changes frequently and there are often one of a kind items that you have to snatch up when you see them. Those of you that have been to a Home Goods store know what I'm talking about!

I recently started looking for some new pots and heard about Le Creuset, a quality cast iron cookware brand that has been around for decades. They are quite expensive, so when I happened to see this beauty I was thrilled!!! However I was a little confused because the label on the pot did not tell you its size, say 4 qt etc and I am not a good judge by looking. This looked to be the medium sized French Oven in a beautiful burnt orange color. The price said $159.99, compare to $240.00. Sounds like a good deal to me!!

But, I wanted to make sure of the size and check the prices online to compare. And I felt a little guilty buying a pot for myself that I had intended to ask hubby for for Christmas. Yes, I left the store with out it. May have been a big mistake!! Once I got home I regretted not snatching it up. Afterall, it can be an early Christmas present that will get much more use starting now, with Fall coming and soups and chili on the menu! I'm going back this afternoon hoping they have at least one left. We will see!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Deal of the Day: PB Kids Games in a Bag

I came across this sale today while shopping online at Pottery Barn Kids. It's a great gift idea or perfect for keeping your kids occupied while traveling, or really anywhere.

Pottery Barn Kids Games in a Bag are currently on clearance for $5.99 with free shipping making it an even sweeter deal. They have Mouse Bowling, Dominoes, Memory and Tic Tac Toe.

I think I'm going to get a few for my girls and neices!! Check out their sales and clearance for more deals!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Operation Kindergarten

It has been a busy week here in our household!! My oldest daughter Keira started Kindergarten!
I'm happy to say the first day went off without a hitch. We picked out the perfect outfit the day before, packed her lunch, and made sure to get her in bed by 8pm. She is not a morning person and is used to sleeping in until at least 8am, especially over the summer. I woke her at 7am and as soon as those little eyes popped open, she had a huge smile on her face!

I made her promise to humor me and please let me take as many pictures as I wanted of her on the first day. She usually moans & groans anytime I whip out the camera (or my phone in this case-I apologize for some blurriness). But this day she happily obliged which made for a less stressed momma.

I admit there were several times I thought the tears were going to come a'flowing, but I held them in, not wanting to freak out my poor girl.

Here are a few pictures from her first day.

My sassy girl

On our way-she couldn't get there fast enough!

Outside her classroom
Ready to start the day!

When she got home, I asked how her day was. Her response "Good. I didn't have to go to the principal's office!" Well thank you Jesus! The funny thing is she is usually on her best behavior with others so there was never any worry about this on my part. I think when she learned the expected behavior for her class and the consequences, she was a little worried about ever having to go to that scary principal's office!!

Now let's hope it stays this way all year :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm back, and hopefully to STAY!!

After a long blogging hiatus, I'm back!! I hadn't planned on being away for so long, but life just got too busy. We moved into our new home last July and with a new house and 2 kiddos to take care of, blogging just took a back seat. I've been wanting to sit down and write for months now and with my Virgo personality, if I couldn't sit down and write something and make it perfect, then I better just not write at all. I'm working on that though :) Hoping my new laptop will come in handy. On my ancient computer it took forever to write one post and I was confined to my desktop computer. Seriously y'all, my computer is 10 yrs old!!! Now I have finally caught up with technology!!

Life has been good to us in our household and I'm hoping to share some of our adventures, and, lets be real here, misadventures! I love reading other blogs and taking a peek into others' lives. Whether it's through raising kids, homemaking, decorating, or growing in my relationship with God, I can't wait to read your stories and share mine as well.
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