Monday, December 26, 2011

Bloggie Hiatus

Hi everyone!

Still here. Taking a break as you have figured out to more fully enjoy the 'rents and other family visiting. Also, I'm crazy busy sucking down coffee to keep up with the late night/early morning routine we've got going.

In the meantime, be jealous. We're at the beach for the next few days and I. Can't. Wait. We haven't been to the beach at all for two and a half years! A very sad truth.

And I heard there's a Starbucks near the condo... Oh yeah!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Fun, Take 2

So our house exploded with Christmas decorations this year, and my sweet, darling hubby went all Buddy the Elf crazy the other night while I was at work.

This is the first year we've not put up outside Christmas lights, and we kept going back and forth about whether or not to do it. He came home from work determined to be sweet and do them for me. But then, he told me, he came inside thinking how sad it is that unless you're outside, you can't see them really. So he decided to put them all over the INSIDE of the apartment!

These pics don't do them justice at all, but they're GORGEOUS! With the other lights off, it's still bright enough to see to do anything, but they create a very soft, romantic feel. Just lovely. I'm half tempted to leave them up year-round.

Aren't they so pretty?

And just to better explain why Scout needs so much therapy...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Fun

A little Christmas funny for you, courtesy of last week's SNL....

What fun have you been having this season?

We've been busy but in all the best ways! This year we've been reading the Christmas story in The Message version of the Bible. I always love rereading the history but especially the older I get. I always get something different out of it, based on where I am in life at that moment.

Tonight before our beloved family descends upon us, CC and I are doing our Christmas gift-giving. I'm a little nervous about not having ANYTHING to open on Christmas Day itself, but I think this is best for us this particular year. Can't wait for family to get here though!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Road Trip

"Over the river and through the woods, to my brother's house we went...
The car knows the way to carry us there, through bright and wintry snooooowwwww!"

Hmm, no snow. Not even close. 60s and 70s actually.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas... just like the ones I've never known...."

Yep, never had a white Christmas. Sob.

Anyway, yesterday we drove three hours away to where my brother now lives with his wifey. We stayed for lunch and spent two hours with them, then drove three hours home. Made for quite the day! I of course had full intentions of getting lots of great photos, but alas, completely forgot and got nada!

They have a lovely home and I very much enjoyed seeing it, but it was beyond wonderful to be with Gabriel and Carolyn in person. We haven't gotten to see them much and it was so fun! It was wonderful to catch up and be with them!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pinterest Party!

Traditionally in the past, for years I hosted a cookie exchange before Christmas. The past few years have been too crazy to do it but I was really hoping again this year to pull it off. With a twist. I invited ten ladies (had to limit it) to come exchange cookies and make crafts. The plan was you could either gift away what you made or keep it for yourself. The problem came in that I only had two ladies RSVP with a yes (crazy time of year) and they were skittish about having to make bazillion dozens of cookies. So the cookie exchange was nixed in favor of what turned out to be my first Pinterest party! I totally admit to stealing the "Crafts and Crap" name from Emily. I thought it was hilarious and hope she'll forgive me.

I got some Pinterest-inspired Stovetop Potpourri going so the apartment smelled amazing...

I had no orange, just a lemon, but it still worked. The problem is the site linked to Pinterest says you can use it for the whole month. Not true. The scent died after about a week and a half. And it looked disgusting (although the site warns you about that).

I made Kim's Brie. Which was. AMAZING. I didn't use craisins, I used leftover homemade cranberry sauce. Yeah, I think I maybe licked the pan when everyone left. I'm not admitting to that though.

We made bath salts and Christmas magnets...

And teased my coworker, Larry (yes a man), about being invited and not coming and how we were going to bombard him with Christmas gifts of bath salts. We made lavender, apple, and sugar cookie scented salts. Very easy. Super fun. The lavender will most definitely be given away as I hate the scent of lavender. But all in all a very fun evening. I've had many requests for the next Pinterest party and ideas are already cooking!

While I think, I keep relaxing with my new Christmas mug from the hubby.

Ain't he a sweetie?!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Catch-up

I don't know about you, but I often get these grandiose ideas for blog posts... photos I want to share, spiritual thoughts I want to share, questions I want to ask you, and on and on and on... and then, life gets in the way. I forget all that I had to talk about or ask about. Photos get lost or forgotten. Etcetera etcetera etcetera.

So in light of that and not being able to remember hardly ANY of what I want to blog about, here's a super long Christmas catch-up that shares with you what we've been up to!

We got our Christmas cards sent out last week- yay! One more thing crossed off our list!

Scout's been in the Christmas spirit... a new stocking from Daddy and her 'Elf-sized' tshirt!

Surely we can afford to get me this for Christmas, right, CC?

Sorry, wiping the drool away! More Scout- she got a new coat, but we might take it back. It's not working out so well but doesn't it make her adorable?!

Christmas parties mean fun green nails (called 'Emerald City')! I just love them! Ignore the super dry hands and horrible nails, just wanted you to see the fun color. I read a tip for subtle shine in a magazine and tried it out. Paint one coat of color, one coat of glitter, then top with another coat of color. I love it! The glitter doesn't spread everywhere and it's shiny without being obvious.

I attempted to make sea salt chocolate caramel candy (from the Food Network magazine, ripped off from Ina Garten) this week. What a disappointment. The process tasted delicious and I had visions of the pretzel crack from earlier this year being available in candy form.

Looks great, right? I stirred this puppy for over an hour (literally!) to get it up to the right temperature. I think I hate CC's thermometer because I don't think it's accurate.

In the end (after all that work!), I ended up with a hard caramel BRICK that couldn't be cut with even our sharpest knife! (or the other knives we tried)

So sad. We went with homemade fudge for gifts instead. And they turned out well. Yay!

Working for a church (err, for Jesus) during the Christmas season is definitely fun but a lot of hours and hard work. A busy busy time for sure! Still trying to find the time to update you all about the accidental Pinterest party we had. Hoping I can get that out soon!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

It Figures...

This, coming after yesterday's post...

Hubby needed an oil change so here we sit at the Just Tires waiting. Only he needs new tires and a new battery. After last week when I needed a new battery.

I think it's interesting timing with paying off that debt, don't you? God knew it would happen but it still makes me laugh at the timing of it all.

Friday, December 02, 2011

I Heart Dave Ramsey!

Today is a very special day. Why, you ask? Because today has been a L-O-N-G time coming. Are you on the edge of your seat wondering and dying to know what I'm talking about? Okay, I'll go ahead and share.

Today, December 02, 2011, is the day we FINALLY pay off the biggest debt we've ever had in our ten years of marriage (and before, if we're counting). The only thing we owe that's bigger is our student loans. Eight or so years ago, we thought we were being smart by consolidating ALL our current debt into one gigantor line of credit. (For those of you wondering, Dave Ramsey would've called us dumb for doing this.) We thought we'd have it paid off in six years (or less), but life happened and stupid decision-making happened and that didn't happen (you follow?).

So today, we are making our FINAL payment. Taking it down to ZERO. Praise God! He's pretty amazing, isn't He? This will leave us with student loans and two other much smaller debts to still pay off, before we can shout from the rooftops that we're debt-free. But it's coming and it's much closer than it used to be. Again, all glory to God!

What's really amazing is we're paying it off early. We're paying it off earlier than even our early plan. It's being taken care of in December, our worst month, financially, with Christmas and all. God is so amazing!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

November PinterTesting!

Happy Merry December!

Linking up with Jessica for this month's PinterTest Kitchen...

In our house this month, we did a couple of PinterTests... we all use Pinterest (admit it, people think you've started a cult. No? just me then.) to pin five gagillion million things that we MUST have, buy, make, eat, or do. But do you actually go back and get, buy, make, eat, or do any of them? Fortunately, I do. Not many compared to all the pins I have, but several.

Here are the two I'm linking up with today.

GROUT REFRESH! Supposedly the best way to restore grout between tiles to pretty, newness. So Hubby and I tested it. And it works! Basically, you're using the stuff to 'paint' the grout, which is why it works. It was only about $10 and since it was our first time, it did take a while. We spent about four hours on the project total (including cleaning ahead of time, waiting, cleaning after). I will say I was ridiculously sore for about 4 or 5 days after being on my hands and knees for that many hours. Pretty painful. But totally worth it!

As you can see above, our grout was pretty grody (apartment living)-- a year and a half's worth of grime ground down into the grout. The second photo from the left is the process during, and the last two show the pretty and clean afters. Such a major improvement!

Then, this Monday was our last day off for Thanksgiving vacation. We decided to use our
nifty new super-cheap-accidental-Black-Friday-doorbuster-deal of a crockpot to make Hawaiian Barbeque Chicken. Three ingredients + Crockpot = Easy, right? Well actually, yes.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, crushed pineapple, and hawaiian-style bbq sauce from Target. Cook on low for 6 hours, eat the yumminess. Those are almost literally the directions.

Here's where our problem was. Our new crockpot is programmable- on high, for four or six hours. On low, for eight or ten hours. The directions said LOW for SIX hours. What to do? We put it on low for 8 hours. What would you have done? Well, I think it would've been yummy but ours turned out overcooked. Poor chicken.

Here's the final product!

This unappetizing photo brought to you by my hungry self...

We also had rice and broccoli so it was a healthier, more meatless meal than it looks in the moment. Hubby said it needed more salt to add flavor. I'm not sure I agree with that part, but the overdone chicken certainly didn't help. Not sure if we'd try it again or what. The idea of mixing chicken and a sauce and letting it cook all day is extremely appealing. Maybe we'll try a variation....

This weekend I'm sort of hosting a Pinterest party, so I'll keep you posted on how that goes...