Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tree Trimming...

This year the girls and I put up the tree on Sunday Morning while Brad was out for a ride.  The tree itself had been up for a few days but we had yet to trim it. It was a hoot watching these two pick out the ornaments to hang. We had a system going, I would get them out of the boxes, lay them on the ottoman and the girls would choose which one they wanted to hang, and by hang, I mean, cover the bottom half of the tree.  At least this year we didn't have multiple ornaments hanging from the same branch like in years past.

 And then it came time to pose for a photo....and the madness started....

Are they 4 and 2 years old OR 14 and 12 years old?

Just look at all of that attitude...we are in for it. I am planning to do a Five on Friday post about my Five Favorite Ornaments this Friday so I will save the detailed photos for that post, but here is the finished product after I moved a few around to give the bottom branches some relief. You will notice its still a little bottom heavy, but I am a-okay with that, the girls did it, and I wanted to leave it that way as much as I could.

Brad always takes a wonderful photo of the tree on Christmas Eve with the lights on, just after Santa has come, so I can't wait to see what the photo will look like this year.

Wordy Wednesday: 10 Prayers to Carry You Through...

Courtesy of my peeps at Good Housekeeping, I thought I would share with you a feature I read in the most recent issue...

1 - Give me Simplicity - If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is "thank you", it will be enough. - Meister Eckhart

2 -  Give me Open Eyes - "For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, For love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

3 - Give me a Break! - "God, grant me the power to out of this shower" - Monica Sheeham from Prayers for All Occasions

4 - Give me Warmth  - "For All Warm Things" by Marjorie Holmes from Home Me Up a Little Longer, Lord.  What I took away from this prayer was that not only does a home and fireplace keep you warm, but the warmth of smiles and the warm greetings you can receive and bestow on the ones you care for, and even strangers are all about  the warmth of the Holidays.

5 - Give me Mindfulness - a prayer for living slowly "God help us to live slowly, To move simply, To look softly, To allow emptiness, To let the heart create for us.  Amen" Michael Leunig from When I Talk to You

6 - Give me Joy - a don't take it all so seriously prayer - "Give me a sense of humor, Lord, and also things to laugh about.  Give us the grace to take a joke against ourselves, And to see the funny side of the things we do.  Save us from annoyance, bad temper, resentfulness against our friends.  Hlep us to laugh even in the face of trouble.  Fill our minds with the love of Jesus; for his name's sake" A.G. Bullivant -

7 - Give me Faith - a prayer for control freaks - "If you put your whole trust in God, as you ought, He most certainly will give you sustenance, as He doth the birds' they come out hungry in the morning but return full to their nests. " the prophet Muhammad
*I have to admit, I am a control freak but this one didn't really hit home like I would have liked, perhaps a comparison to anything other than birds and it might have hit the mark, but I loathe birds, I am terrified they will peck my eyes out.

8 - Give me Perseverance - a prayer that's inspired everyone from Mother Teresa to Martina McBride - heck, I read this at a school assembly my junior year in high school.

"People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.  Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.  Do good anyway. 
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.  Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.  Do good anyway.
Honest and frankness make you vulnerable.  Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be show down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.  Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.  Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.  Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.  Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.  Give the world the best you have anyway.  - Kent M. Keith, Ed.D. 

9 - Give me Optimism - a prayer for the ability to choose the sunny side of the street - "Whatsoever things are true, Whatsoever things are honest, Whatsoever things are just, Whatsoever things are pure, Whatsoever things are lovely, Whatsoever things are of good report; If there be any virtue, And if there be any praise, Think on these things.  - Philippians 4:8, the Bible, King James Version

10 - Give me the Grace of Silent Night - a prayer for our dearest unspoken dreams and desires "I still think that the prayer without words is the best" - C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Good Girl" Bed

Don't mind the summery pink horse PJ's she is rocking, it has been 75 here lately....
It was time, time to kick the crib to the curb and move this little lady to her "good girl" bed (that is what she calls it, we call it her "big girl" bed, but she is fairly stuck on "good girl" bed, so we let it fly.)
BEFORE: February 2009
I adored her crib bedding...

I was pretty darn excited about the timing of it, I love the holidays and all things decorating for them, so to be able to switch her over AND get to use her Holiday Bedding was just a double bonus for me. We have been debating the switch for quite some time, we thought about doing it right when we got back from the beach, but we just didn't think it was the right time, we didn't think she would stay in it, so we gave it some more time and then after a few weeks of terrible sleep and a few conversations with Dr. S we decided to take the plunge, and just give in. We had tried a few of the other things Dr. S suggested and this was one of the last ones. So when the girls left for Brad's Parents house last Sunday we decided that depending on how she did sleeping down there, we would make the move over the long weekend.

Brad picked me up Tuesday Night and we stopped at good ol' Big not laugh and do not knock it until you try it. We snagged a bomb diggity Serta Pillow Top that makes my back sing a sweet song for several hundred dollars less than had we procured it from a mattress warehouse-type place. I was thrilled with the deal and Brian and Brad picked it up on Saturday, so Saturday Night was the first night in the "good girl" bed.

I bet you are chomping at the bit, wondering how it went....well, lets just say it went far better than I anticipated it would. She stayed in the bed, slept until close to 7:30am (knocking on wood, this child usually graces us with her cranky presence around 5:30am) and was a happy camper.  Everyone that came in the house had to make a trip upstairs to see her "good girl" bed. It was adorable to see her showing something off, for something to be about her, with her being the youngest, its usually Olivia doing the show & tell.

Sunday Nap went well...but last two nights she has freaked. Bi-Polar Avery reared her ugly (yet cute) head, and she was terrified of her room and her bed again and didn't want to stay in it. So I "night-night side" her for a little while, we got a few books, she flopped around from headboard to foot board, and then finally she settled and fell asleep at the foot board on top of the covers - whatever floats her boat. And Monday morning she met me in the hallway around 6:30am and appeared a bit confused, and this morning she came into our is so strange to see the door open and a little face poke around the door, Olivia has never come into our room, leave it to Avery!

Our little one is growing was sad packing away the crib bedding and folding up the bedding accessories that I can now pass along to friends who are starting the journey into motherhood. Sniff Sniff...

I am already looking forward to pulling out her new big girl bedding. I have had it for a few years and while I don't love it, I really like it, and for now it will suit her just fine.  We are in talks about one day soon giving the girls the option of sharing a room (of course, I just re-did Olivia's room) so until we make a final call on that one I won't be changing anything in Avery's room.

Home Tour Tuesday: Kitchen

Kitchen 2005
Everyone always says that you should love your kitchen, that families gather in their kitchens, and while I agree that is often times very true, I happen to want to love most of my house, so optimizing the kitchen hasn't been a priority for us, and that could be because we are pretty happy with it the way it is, outside of some cosmetic changes, we think it suits us just fine.

Kitchen 2005
If I had to do it over again, I probably would have gone with white cabinets, but I still haven't the foggiest idea what I would have done for the counter tops. I struggle with clutter on the counter near the phone. We drop the mail there, notes get left there and piles of clutter just reproduce there. It is also our designated charging area for our phones and iPads, and that isn't idea, because the cords just drive me bonkers. Heck, maybe we need one of those charging station thingies...but here you have it. Our kitchen from 2005 and our kitchen today....not a lot of material changes, but a few small ones.

*There isn't as much stuff displayed on top of the cabinets - and frankly until I figure out how to actually display things for beauty instead of for storage purposes I would like to redo the entire top of cabinet strategy.
*Christmas decorations are up in these photos and we have a lobster rug by the sink

*There is vinyl art to the right of the fridge and a bench from my parents house has been refinished and is now storage for the girls dress up clothes.
*We now have two leather counter stools - while they are technically in the morning room, you can see the tops of them in this photo, with the very bright, can't wait for it to no longer be red, red walls of the morning room.  For the record, the flash blew it out and distorted all the colors, it really isn't that bright.
*The menu chalkboard now hangs on the pantry door (the pantry is almost done, just need a few more supplies from Ikea, so I am waiting for Brad to make his next trip to NoVA)

I'll tell you what...that pot rack is a saving grace! Our cabinets, while we have quite a few of them, they are just not designed to be all that functional, and I can't imagine where we would store all the pots and pans if they weren't hanging from our ceiling.  It's funny though, when Brad gets up in the mornings and makes his way to the bathroom, the pans clank and announce that he is now awake and in the bathroom. HA!.

And you'll see that I did some cleaning up around the phone area to minimize the charging mess, but picture this with a Blackberry and iPhone plugged in and charging. And notice my super cute Erin Condren weekly planner keeping us organized and on top of things - LOVE IT. If you recall from the things I would like to do differently you would recall a bright white kitchen and yes, that is a dream of mine, but to be honest, our kitchen does the job and I happen to fancy it just a smidgen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Menu Monday: Gooey Butter Cake

My girl Paula did it again, this recipe is fan-tastic!!! And it is VERY easy to make. I plan to whip one up on Friday for the Tacky Sweater Party on Saturday. You can find this recipe on Paula Deen's Website here.  And there are several variations of this goodness, chocolate, toffee and pumpkin are a few I would love to try.

Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 40 min
Difficulty: Easy


1 18 1/4-ounce package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 16-ounce box powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together.
4. Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well. Spread over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.

Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Five on Friday: Favorite Christmas Presents

My First Christmas - 1979

Growing up I have amazing Christmas Memories, some involve our family traditions and others involve Christmas Morning and the presents that I was blessed with. So I thought it would be fun to share my Five Favorite Christmas Presents of all time...

1) My First Cabbage Patch Kid - Gayla Selda - she is the one with the red hair.  My Gramps scoured the entire Eastern Seaboard to procure this puppy, and he ended up cutting a deal with one of his customers in NYC to bring her home to me. (this photo cracks me up, but it was the only one I had of the Cabbage Patch so I thought it would be fitting to share, take a gander at those window treatments - BARF, but my Mom was looking pretty fine showing us her etchings...and notice my Dad's pocket protector, lord almighty... for the record, the other two are named Robina Loraine and Raphael)

2) My first Mac - my parents hid this and asked me to grab a trash bag out of the front closet to help clean up from all the other presents. I am so surprised to find the boxes hidden under a blanket, I just froze, started clicking my heels together and saying "There is No Place Like Home"...I think I was 16 Years Old.

3) My own personal phone line - this was another good story. My Parents casually grabbed the cordless phone from my room and placed it next to my chair on Christmas Morning, said that it would just be easier to have a phone near me so when my friends called, I wouldn't have to get  up.  Well fast forward to an hour or so later, the phone rings, and its my Dad...he is calling from the bedroom on our home phone and I was so confused, how was he calling my phone from his phone, they were the same phone line...but NOPE. My Parents had given me my own personal phone number and phone line for Christmas - it was a great present and I am sure it was a fantastic relief for them too.

4) Calendar - every year I looked forward to seeing which calendar I would get, and I have to admit, it is still one of my favorite presents to this day. I have now convinced my Mom to let me open the calendar early, since I can easily pick it out of the pile and once I know one is in the pile I have to open it and start writing all important dates in it - I have a small problem. HA!.

4) Barbie Camper - this one is a doozie. My Gramps gave this to me as well, but my Dad will never forget the hours he spent putting it together and adhering each and every sticker, he was up until the wees hours of Christmas Morning just getting this thing ready for me.

This photo doesn't do it justice - I loved this thing
5) Vanity Set - I got a vanity set probably when I was in 5th or 6th grade, and I had it in my room until I went to college. I used to sit at it and get ready every single morning, it was a perfect gift for the age I was, and it was super useful.

 I hope that my children have great memories. I wish I had all the Christmas Morning photos here to share with you, just looking at them bring back the magical feeling of Christmas.

Thankful Thursday: Week 3

A little late since we spent the day showing our thanks and enjoying our quality family time with Brad's family in good ol' Southern Virginia, but better late than never! We spent a few days of week 3 apart so we weren't as diligent about tracking our thankfuls, but this is what I captured from my little beauties once I was reunited with them on Wednesday.

Olivia - Thanksgiving 2011 - 4 Years Old

Friday November 18th
Olivia - I am thankful for our home office, it makes Mommy happy
Avery - I am thankful for my toys
Brad - I am thankful that my job allows me to travel & while traveling catch up with friends and spend time with family
Leigh - I am thankful for pizza, it is the PERFECT meal to make with your family, it is simple, easy and everyone loves it. Homemade, frozen, delivery or pick up, I just love it all.

Saturday November 19th
Olivia - I am thankful for my toys
Avery - I am thankful for my Hot Potato Game
Brad - I am thankful for weekends at home to get projects done
Leigh - I am thankful for neighbors who have become some of our closest friends on the planet

Sunday November 20th
Olivia - I am thankful for my Green OBX t-shirt (lord help us)
Avery - I am thankful for puzzles (seeing a trend here?)
Brad - I am thankful that my Parents can help me out with the girls while I work and give Leigh a break.
Leigh - I am thankful for peace and quiet - and having the house to myself for the first time in 4 years.

Avery - Thanksgiving 2011 - 2 Years Old
Monday November 21st
Olivia - I am thankful for Bina & PawPaw and getting to stay at their house
Avery - I am thankful for Dora
Brad - I am thankful for our house and the neighborhood that we live in

Leigh - I am thankful for my in-laws who adore my children and are willing to watch them to give Brad and I a break.

Tuesday November 22nd
Olivia - I am thankful for all the toys at Bina & PawPaw's house
Avery - I am thankful for Dora Fruit Snacks
Brad - I am thankful that we made it through another year and I am looking forward to a great holiday season with my family.
Leigh - I am thankful for the man at Four Paws who loves Riley, he always makes me feel less guilty when I have to drop him off for a "visit"

Wednesday November 23rd
Olivia - I am thankful for stickers
Avery - I am thankful for Boots the Monkey (the trend continues)
Brad - I am thankful that Wayne & James made it home and were able to say goodbye to their Mom
Leigh - I am thankful for safe travels for the Craig boys, they made it home and were able to spend a few hours with their Mom before she became an angel (Please pray for the Craig family, Kathy's battle with cancer ended quietly on Wednesday November 23rd)

Thursday November 24th - Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Olivia - I am thankful for coloring books & crayons (she is learning from her sister)
Avery - I am thankful for Santa Claus
Brad - I am thankful to have a few days off

Leigh - I am thankful that Brad has a sister, that she has children and that those children are now cousins to my beauties.  I love my cousins, loved getting together with them growing up, and it is important to me that the girls have memories with their cousins.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wordy Wednesday: My Wish

Olivia - 10 Months Old

I can imagine that I have shared my love for Rascal Flatts with ya'll on more than one occasion, but in light of some parenting challenges we have been faced with recently I thought that it would be prudent to share one of my favorite songs with you. It is rare that I listen to this song without a lump forming in my throat, even thinking the lyrics of this song chokes me up. I so badly want so many things for my beauties, but the lyrics of this song sum my wishes up quite well....

I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window,
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,

But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, and more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

Avery - 1 Year Old
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

This is my wish
I hope you know somebody loves you
May all your dreams stay big

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Monday: Bubble Garlic Loaf

I love me some Garlic Bread, I could eat my weight in Garlic Bread, I can't stop myself, I just eat and eat and eat it, and this loaf actually just enables that behavior because I just pick another bubble off and down the hatch it goes, its just THAT good.

1 frozen loaf of white bread (you can buy it in packages of 3-4 loaves, just take 1 out to thaw)
1/2 stick of margarine - melted
1 Tablespoon Parsley Flakes
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Salt


1) Thaw the dough, but not to the point where its sticky and super soft, you want it to still have its shape so its easy to cut up. 
1a) Grease loaf pan or if you are doing a double batch the bundt pan works wonderfully.

2) Melt butter in microwave - add dry ingredients and mix together in same bowl

3) Cut up dough into 1 inch pieces and dunk in the butter mixture and layer in pan

4) Cover pan with towel and let rise for 1 hour
4a) Pre-Heat Oven to 350

5) Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (I had to bake longer than that, but I made a double batch)

I had to steal this photo from since I forgot to snap a shot of the finished product, but I have to say, I think my finished product was better looking than this one.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Before & After: Let There Be Light

Inspiration: Pottery Barn Kids...
I have been hunting for a smaller lamp for Olivia's room since I re-did a lamp for her wrong several months ago and it turned out all wrong, it was FAR too large for her dresser and was just the wrong shade of blue, not at all what I had been hoping for, and then the lamp shade I made turned out to be too hot of a pink and not watermelon-ie enough, just wrong.

Project: Let There Be Light

So two weekends ago I picked up a small lamp base at Goodwill, primed it and sprayed it, and began work on the lamp shade I had in my head, very simple, almost Pottery Barn Kids like, but for a fraction of the price, of course.

Lamp Base #3 - BEFORE
Well, I sprayed the lamp base, made the shade and then sat down to put them together only to realize that the shade and the lamp base were just not compatible, the shade attached to the top of those arm thingys, but the lamp base didn't have those arm again, all wrong. My excitement deflated quickly.  I had to find another lamp base that would work with the shade.

I love the detail...

So I procured lamp base #3 at The Goodwill for $8.25, the most expensive of the 3, I should add...not my finest moment, but probably my favorite base of the three I had already redone.

Color of Choice: KRYLON Watermelon
 And so once the base was cleaned and sprayed I married it with the lonely shade and ta-da, finally the perfect lamp Olivia's dresser has been waiting for.  I really like it! The spray job isn't perfect, it was tough to get a clean coat around the embellishments, but I did my best and I really love the color and I think the shade compliments the base well.

Forgive the horrible lighting, I wanted to snap a photo so bad, and it was already dark, so I had to use the flash.
And you happen to get a sneak peek at Olivia's new wall color as well, so now you know how the walls look.  I can't wait to reveal her finished room, I happen to love it and I just hope she does for many years to come.  I just swapped in her PBK Christmas Bedding for the season, so I probably won't reveal her entire room until I switch it back to her everyday bedding since that is what the room decor is centered around, but I might just show a few of the projects I have been working on to make her room special.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

6 A's of Good Parenting

I get a daily Family First email and sometimes the topics hit home...this one in particular hit home like a ton of oh man I have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do. 

Parenting is all about relating. The better our relationship with our children, the better are our chances at effective parenting. Youth expert, Josh McDowell, believes there are six factors that play into good parenting. He calls them the 6 A’s.
1. Affirmation - this one is hard for me, I always want to control the situation or fix it, downplay it so that they don't think its a big deal if something doesn't go there way, but really what they need from me is affirmation. "When we affirm a child’s feelings it gives them a sense of authenticity...Even when we don’t agree with our children, we can still affirm their feelings and them as individuals."

2. Acceptance - there are times when this one is easier than others, but at the end of the day this one is all about loving them for who they are, and making sure they are secure in our acceptance. "When you give unconditional acceptance you give a child a sense of security...Our love and affection should not be based on grades, behavior or achievements"

3. Appreciation - "When we express appreciation it gives a child a sense of significance...the more we “catch” our children doing things right, and we express our appreciation, the more motivated they will be to behave better." I can speak first hand to this one, when I say THANK YOU or tell the girls how much it means to me that they told the truth or did something the first time I asked they grin from ear to ear.

4. Availability - "When we are available to our children it gives them a sense of importance...So when our kids come to us, our response should be to stop, drop and listen. Stop what we’re doing, drop to our knees, and listen to them, hug them, play with them" - I am ashamed to admit that I have a lot of work to do on this one.  I have a hard time unplugging sometimes, I will come home still be dealing with an email and have trouble putting it aside until after they are in bed.  I need them to know just how important they are to me, and I never want them to feel like they are second to anything in my life.

5. Affection - "When we show our children affection it gives them a sense of lovability." I can actually pat myself on the back for this one, I am all over those little buggers.  Not a single day goes by that I don't plant a wet one on them several times a day. I can't get enough snuggles!

6. Accountability - "When we hold children accountable it gives them a sense of responsibility and self-control. Children need the disciplines of responsibility and self-control to function successfully in life. As parents, we must create rules and boundaries for our children. Once those guidelines are set, we must be consistent in enforcing them" I am batting about .350 in this category. Sometimes I feel like I am full of rules and too strict, other times, when I am exhausted or feeling worn down I tend to give in and roll over...this one needs some work too and based on some recent conversations around Avery's behavior this might be the first area to focus on.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five on Friday: Thanksgiving Recipes

I love Thanksgiving Food, and I have favorites from all the different locations in which I have spent Thanksgiving over the years, so I thought I would share my Five Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes/Recipes.

1) Blueberry Goodness - frankly I have no idea what this dish is actually called, I made the Blueberry Goodness up, but its Blueberry and its Good, so no one could die the accuracy of the name.  This is a dish that I first had at Pattie Jo's house (she is my Mom's BFF and my second Mom), and while I haven't had the guts to take the recipe for a spin, I might just have to give it a try this year since the girls seem to be big fans of jello and sour cream and cream cheese.

2) Stuffing (aka Dressing) - this one varies greatly from home to home, some put oysters in it, some include fruit, my favorite is another one from the Pattie Jo Thanksgiving Playbook, my Mom does it justice, its simply divine and I can't get enough... 

1 large bowl of dried white bread cubes (1.5 loaves)
Saute 1 Stick of Margarine with 3 Stalks of Chopped Celery, 2 small Onions chopped
Salt & Pepper
Pour Butter, Celery & Onion mixture over bread cubes
Add 1-2 T of Poultry Seasoning to Bread, Butter, Celery & Onion Mixture
Add 1 Quart Boiling Water and mix together well (don't always need full quart, use judgement so that the bread is moist)
Bake in casserole dish @ 350 for 30 minutes (or can stuff in Turkey, but that grosses me out, so I don't do that)

3) Sweet Potato Casserole - this one is from Brad's Mom. I hadn't really dabbled in Sweet Potato goodness prior to moving to the "south" and I hadn't baked with Sweet Potatoes until just a year or so ago when I gave this casserole a whirl, it was easy-peasy and delicious.

3 Cups Sweet Potatoes
1 c. Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. butter flavoring
1/2 stk margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. evaporated milk

Mix all ingredients together...

Topping: 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/2 c. coconut, 2 T melted margarine, 2 T flour, 1/2 chopped pecans (optional)

Melt margarine and add other ingredients - it will be crumbly. Put on top of potato mixture. Bake @ 350 for 45-60 minutes.

4) Pumpkin Cheesecake - this one I procure from Costco, BUT I dug up a recipe that looks fantastic and I might just break down and give it a try one of these days. Heck, I could eat pumpkin flavored masterpieces every month of the year.

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
  3. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.
5) Homemade Rolls - this is another Pattie Jo recipe. These balls of yeasty goodness are #1 in my book, nothing compares to these little warm balls of heaven. I will update this post with the recipe as soon as I receive it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday Week 3

Here you have week 3 of documenting our thankfuls...

Friday November 11th: 
Olivia - I am thankful that the leaves are changing colors
Avery - I am thankful that Riley has toys
Brad - I am thankful that I don't drive a Honeywagon anymore (I made that up, he forgot one on Friday, so I am putting that one in there for him)
Leigh - I am thankful that I have a 9-5 job and get to spend the evenings and the weekends with my family

Saturday November 12th:  
Olivia - I am thankful for camping trips with my Daddy
Avery - I am thankful for my Sister
Brad - I am thankful for date nights
Leigh - I am thankful for a babysitter who loves our girls and who our girls love to hang out with

Sunday November 13th: 
Olivia - I am thankful we got lots of Pumpkins
Avery - I am thankful for LaLa's socks (I think she might be starting to lose it)
Brad - I am thankful for leftover pizza & toaster ovens
Leigh - I am thankful for Crock Pot's and the delicious meals they are capable of producing

Monday November 14th: 
Olivia - I am thankful for Ms. Leslie (her teacher)
Avery - I am thankful for Ms. Susan (her teacher)
Brad -I am thankful that Riley watches over the house while I am gone
Leigh - I am thankful for the miracle of life and the happiness it brings to people's lives

Tuesday November 15th: 
Olivia -I am thankful today is my Daddy's Birthday and we get to go to a Restaurant for dinner
Avery - I am thankful for chicken
Brad - I am thankful that people remembered my birthday (I didn't have the heard to tell him that FB tells people its his birthday - hahaah, kidding, he knew that)
Leigh - I am thankful that my Mother-in-Law decided to have a second child - Happy Birthday Brad.

Wednesday November 16th - 
Olivia - I am thankful for dessert
Avery - I am thankful for animals in my crib
Brad - I am thankful that my wife keeps our children alive while I am traveling (I phrased this for him)
Leigh - I am thankful for The Elf on the Shelf - I can't wait to break it out.

Thursday November 17th - 
Olivia- I am thankful that I get to go to my Bina's house soon
Avery -I am thankful for my kitty shirt
Brad - I am thankful for heat
Leigh -I am thankful that Dora taught Olivia all about the Naughty List, now if only Avery would connect the dots.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordy Wednesday: Blah

Linus van Pelt: What are you going to do on Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown?

Charlie Brown: My mother and Dad, and Sally and I are all going to my grandmother's for dinner.

Sally Brown: Why don't you come along, Linus? We can hold hands under the table.

Linus van Pelt: Blah.

Charlie Brown humor cracks me up, so in the spirit of Thanksgiving and my pal Charlie Brown I thought I would share a quote from the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special. Growing up Thanksgiving was never a huge deal, we didn't have big plans as a family and didn't have any Thanksgiving traditions, but since Brad and I have been together we have celebrated Thanksgiving with his family and every year after eating we all sit around and go through the Black Friday Ads and talk about what the kiddos are going to get from Santa.  I imagine one day in the future we will be hosting Thanksgiving at our house and part of me is excited for that day and the other part of me is sad, I like traditions and I am not always a fan of traditions changing...but that is how the cookie crumbles. I am looking forward to sharing my favorite Thanksgiving Recipes with ya'll on Friday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Hubs

 Our Wedding Day - May 2005

Today marks the birthday of the handsome gentleman that I share my life with...I can't imagine our days without him, the girls and I are very lucky to have him as the leader of our pack.

Brad & Riley - June 2005

There are so many things that we love about Brad, but if I had to list the top 9, since we have been together for 9 years, they would be: 

1) When we first started dating long distance, he and I were on the telephone, and his Mom called (call waiting) and he told me he had to go, that he would call me back, he chose his Mom over me and I have loved him for it for all these years. 

2) He is passionate - whether it be about his hobbies, his work or his family, he is passionate.

3) He smells great - when I curl my head in his shoulder (aka my pocket) I just love the way he smells...let's face it ladies, some boys are smelly. 

Brad & Olivia - July 2007

4) He is a wonderful father to the girls, and being a dad to two little girls isn't always easy, not all men are up for the challenge, but he is, and he rises to the challenge every single day. 

5) He is traditional, he still opens doors for me, helps me put on my coat, he is a real gentleman in the traditional sense of the word, and he doesn't let me walk near traffic, he always moves me to the safer side of him - love that. 

6) He is affectionate - he loves to snuggle, he loves to smooch on the girls and is a great hugger

 Brad & Avery - February 2009
7) He isn't afraid to say "I love you", he says it to his Grandma when they are on the phone, he never misses a chance to say it to his Parents and he never tucks the girls in at night without those three special words...

8) He is kind and willing to help a neighbor or friend whenever they need a helping hand 

9) He wants to be a good person, he works hard to do the right thing each and every day and is true to the values his family raised him with.

I can't tell you about his present just yet since he won't open it until he gets home tonight, but the girls and I are hoping he loves it.  We are going to dinner tonight, just the four of us, and Brad and celebrated as a couple last Saturday night with dinner & a movie and then this weekend we will celebrate his special day with our friends.  Happy Birthday to a wonderful husband, son, brother, friend, father and uncle. We love you!

Home Tour Tuesday will be back next week with a tour of our Kitchen...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Monday: Pumpkin Roll

In keeping with all things Pumpkin for another week I thought I would share with you a recipe I have been dying to try. And don't be fooled by the photo above, I snapped it this morning of the Pumpkin Roll I procured at The Walmart on my way into the office since I had failed to whip something up for our Office Potluck (no shame in my game). I am thinking I will give this recipe a try either this weekend or just before heading to Bassett for Thanksgiving...I could eat my weight in all things Pumpkin & Cream Cheese...

1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

1.PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle towel with powdered sugar.
2.COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
3.BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.
4.BEAT cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.