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!
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