Thursday, December 9, 2010

Griffin's Family Storybook

For Christmas, Oliver and I made this family storybook for Griffin. It should be here in a week or so, and I'm terribly excited to see how it turned out!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mocs on the Mind

With cold weather upon us, I have [yet again] discovered that I lack the proper footwear for such a season as winter.  Since moving to the South in 2002, I've made do with cheapo flats and my trusty pair of Birkenstock slip-ons; however, those Birkenstocks have unfortunately become what I like to call "Stinkenstocks" over the years (other Birkenstock owners will be able to identify with me here), and they are officially retired to spare myself and others their unpleasantness.  So, I began the great search for the perfect winter shoes.  Since I only seem to get one pair of cold weather shoes every 5 years, I'm wanting to shoot for the highest quality and durability I can achieve within a reasonable, affordable price range.   After searching and searching for a boot that is casual and everyday, yet attractive, fun and interesting, yet not obnoxious, comfortable and cozy, yet not sloppy looking.  And this is why I've arrived in the land of moccasin boots.

Minnetonka makes moccasins that last forrrrreverrrrr.  Investing in a pair of these pretty ladies is similar, yet not nearly as expensive, as investing in a pair of cowboy boots.  There are a couple other moccasin boot makers that I've looked at, but I'm not sure they are up to par with Minnetonka.  Since I like getting the opinions of my friends and family on things such as paint colors for dressers and names for my pets and children, why not for which boots to go for?  It's a quandary for me....It really is.  I'm so indecisive.  So here are my options [so far].  Let me know what YOU think!  (By the way, I've thrown in a couple that are WAY out of my price range, just for fun :)  They were too great not to include in the mix!

Minnetonka Woodstock

Lassen Noruega

Old Friend Tina

Frye Alex

Minnetonka Calf Hi Suede

Minnetonka Three-in-One Calf Hi

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy 27th, Oliver!

I am married to a great man, and he turns 27 today!  It's such a blessing to have him in my life as my husband, best friend, and father to my child.  There are few things in life that warms my heart more than watching Oliver with Griffin. Oliver, thank you for spending the past 8 years with me.  Thank you for your commitment to and love for our family, your hard work in financially providing while going to college, and your genuine heart.  I know that the Lord has been shaping and preparing you for His calling on your life, but I see you fulfilling that calling step-by-step from the time I met you in YWAM, through college at CIU, and leading up to your future career.  And I'm so glad you're mine :)  xoxoxo, husband.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Meet Meat

Get ready to drool.  These are two of the most delicious meat recipes ever.  I cannot say that they're super healthy, but I can say that they are absolutely perfect for the occasional, hearty, cold winter's day, Sunday dinner.  They both are quite affordable and leave TONS of leftovers, if you don't plan to serve 15 people right off the bat.  Let us proceed with the more healthy of the two...

Delicious Meat Recipe #1:  My Grandma Carol's Italian Beef
5 lb. chuck roast (5 lbs. will make so much Italian beef that a smaller family might need to freeze some b/c they won't be able to eat it fast enough.  I usually get a 3 lb. roast to save our very limited freezer space.  Of course, venison [double yum] can be used in place of beef...and it. is. fantastic.)
1 T. oregano
1 T. garlic salt
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. cayenne pepper (I use less...This would make it VERY spicy.  Also, if you don't have cayenne pepper, you can substitute using some ground red pepper.)
5 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
2 c. water

How simple is that ingredient list?  You may also want to add the buns of your choice.  Of course, the crusty, white hoagie is typically used, but you can use whole wheat of some kind to make it healthier.  Also, you can trim as much fat off the roast as possible to cut down on the fat content...If you're interested in such things.  I am not.  I really dislike handling raw meat, and I don't normally eat a lot of fat....So I splurge with this meal.

So here's what you do:
Put meat in slow cooker whole.  Add spices and water.  Cook on low until very tender (6-8 hrs.).  Take meat out of juice, and shred using 2 forks.  Remove bay leaves from juices/meat.  Return shredded meat to juices and cook 1 hour more.  Serve on crusty buns!

So easy.  Yes, it takes a long time to cook, but it only takes about 5 minutes total of your time in the morning and an hour before you serve it!  This is one of Oliver's favorites....Maybe Oliver's favorite favorite. 

Delicious Meat Recipe #2:  Pioneer Woman's Favorite Meatloaf

The Pioneer Woman is a [hilarious] blogger who is a city girl turned ranch wife with the most mouth-watering recipes I've ever run across.  The reason for this is probably because she doesn't spare the butter, the fat, the sugar, did I say the butter?  Her family runs a cattle ranch and they work....hard.  So, they eat the put-a-little-meat-on-your-bones food that most of us cannot afford to eat.  For each recipe, she posts step-by-step pictures of the process. (She is also a photographer, and a homeschooler [insert sigh of depression as I realize how little I am able to accomplish with my time compared to her, a mother of four])  And she is downright entertaining and funny!

Anyway, instead of posting the actual recipe here, click on this link to see this AMAZING recipe play out, picture by picture, on the Pioneer Woman blog:
This might be Oliver's favorite favorite favorite.  It involves bacon.  You're welcome.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Favorite Things 3

Prior "Favorite Things" posts:  My Favorite Things 1 & My Favorite Things 2

Tervis Tumbler - This thing is fantastic.  What coffee drinkers out there aren't sick of their coffee getting too cold in about 2 minutes?  I mean, it's an epidemic.  How many minutes have we all wasted heating up cold coffee?  (I realize I'm starting to sound like a spokesperson here.)  Here's the deal with the Tervis Tumbler...  It keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.  It's dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe.  It doesn't condensate=no more coasters (not that we use coasters at our house anyway).  (I took this straight from their website):  Tervis tumblers are virtually indestructible. They won’t crack, melt, shatter, or chip.  If, for some reason I cannot imagine, something does go wrong with it, it is guaranteed for life....LIFE, people.  Click here for more product info.  They cost about $13 with the lid, and you can buy them at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Some come with hot lids (the coffee lid type that slides open and closed), but you can also get a "cold" lid with a straw, if you're into straws.  You can get them in SO MANY different designs, it's a bit logos, seasonal, beach, initials, fun designs, etc.  I must say, I have about a bazillion mugs and never use any of them anymore because I always drink my coffee out of my Tervis Tumbler. I save so, so much money because of this woman's blog.  I'm not going to go into all the details of couponing here, as this website can explain it much better than I can.  But, the basic idea is that you buy the Sunday paper for the coupons and Jenny (the blogger) posts amazing lists for each grocery store each week listing the items that are on sale, along with each items corresponding available coupons (as well as WHERE TO GO TO GET THEM....the coupon insert name and date or coupon website).  All you have to do is click on the items you plan to buy at the store and press print for a wonderful printable shopping list.  Then, you take that printed list and go clip or print the corresponding coupons, and VOILA!  You have saved a load of cash.  I'm talking about saving about HALF of your grocery bill between the sales, buy one get one deals, and coupons....and it is so rewarding!

Queen Anne's Lace - Yeah, yeah...It's a weed.  I know.  It's just one of my absolute favorite flowers, along with peonies and poppies.  Maybe it's childhood memories, or maybe it's because Queen Anne's Lace is beautiful.  Now that I'm thinking of my 3 favorite flowers, I think I'll just post pictures of each of them here.

You know, I don't think about flowers enough anymore.  They're good for the soul.

More later...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween, Chicken-style

Fall family picture before we got Griffin all dressed up
Papa and son
Family picture after dressing up our little chicken
Painting on his beak
All dressed!
Could he be more adorable?
I think not.
Griffin and his buds, Owen, Hudson, and Sullivan, all dressed up for Halloween!
The chicken sees the frog.
The chicken meets the frog.
The chicken points and laughs at the frog.  Oliver says this reminds him of some long-lost Aesop's Fable called, "Why Frogs are Intimidated by Chickens."  Hahah.
My little chicken.

Couldn't get him to crack a smile.
Be still my beating heart...
Dancing the chicken dance.
Quite possibly the only good shot of us with our boys :)  It was a tough one to capture.

We had a blast on our first Halloween as parents, and we're looking forward to next year!  All the boys will be walking, talking....and who knows, maybe there will be some more babies!

Why Frogs Feel Insecure Around Chickens...

At our Halloween party, Griffin thought Sullivan looked funny in his frog costume.  So, he proceeded to point at him and laugh.  This whole scene was reminiscent of some long-lost Aesop's Fable entitled something like, "Why Frogs Feel Insecure Around Chickens."

The Chicken Dance

What could be better than dressing your baby up in an adorable, puffy costume and sitting back to watch them in all their cuteness???  Dressing your baby up in an adorable, puffy costume and sitting back to watch them DANCE in all their cuteness :) 
Here is Griffin doing the "chicken dance" (pun intended):

This is Griffin's friend, Sullivan, doing the "frog dance":

Bedtime Sillies

Apparently, the phrase, "What do you want to wear to bed," is hilarious!

Signing Light & Fan

I actually caught Griffin signing "light" for the first time on video!  Wait until the end of the video, which is where he does it for the first time.

Here's our little munchkin signing "fan":

"Hello, Goodbye, Hello, Goodbye"

This may just be the cutest video of all time.  Griffin says, "hi" (which sounds a lot like a screeching pterodactyl), "bye bye" (which sounds more like bah-bah), "mama," "dada," and papa.  Love this boy!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Favorite Things 2

Publix - (pronounced "PUB-licks" for any northern readers)  After grocery shopping predominately at dreaded, soul-sucking, customer-abusing Walmart for years and years, my first visit to Publix was an absolute Disney movie.  I had just moved to South Carolina from Florida, and I noticed the produce Walmart provided was typically rotten.  So, I made a stop at the Publix down the street to get my produce.  Imagine my surprise when I not only was spared abuse by the employees, but was served and helped and treated with respect!  Imagine my delight when I floated down the aisles with a smooth-gliding, quiet cart, quickly and easily found all the products I was looking for because they were so well-organized and intuitively placed, and did not have to wait in a 20 minute line upon checkout.  In fact, a sweet lady opened up an aisle for me when she saw I was pulling in behind another customer.  AMAZING!  Then, wonder upon wonders!, a kind lad pushed my cart out to my car and unloaded my groceries and did not expect a tip!  Since I started couponing, Publix is less expensive than Walmart, and I've switched over to Publix for good.
My Great Aunt Shirley's Over Easy Egg Trick - Get ready to be amazed.  So, I eat 2 eggs and toast every single morning (a habit I got into whist pregnant), and I like my eggs over medium or medium-well.  If anyone has ever tried to make eggs AND keep the yolk intact, they know that it is a nightmare.  If the yolk gets broken, breakfast is half ruined!  And for me, the yolk typically gets broken when I go to flip the eggs over.  WELL...This summer, my Great Aunt Shirley shared with me a trick she has used for years and years to make the perfect eggs.  Steam them!  Here's how it works:  First, spray your skillet with cooking spray and turn the burner on medium heat.  Second, crack your eggs into the pan.  Third, add a bit of water (1t-1T), salt and pepper.  Fourth, cover and let cook until the yolk clouds over.  Fifth, slide eggs onto your plate and enjoy!  Seriously, this makes the best eggs ever!
Barefoot Moscato - I love sweet wine.  This might be my absolute favorite.
 Our Fire Pit - There's just something about a fire...  It isn't unusual for us to have a fire 5 nights a week when the weather is cool enough.  Friends sitting around a fire is definitely superior to friends sitting around with no fire.  Our fire pit looks a lot like this:
 Reese's S'mores - Enough said.
If you missed the post explaining these "Favorite Things" posts, click here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Favorite Things

"raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens..."
The Sound of Music=great movie.  I love everything about it, the songs, the storyline, the characters, the setting, etc. etc.  We were able to visit Salzburg, Austria, the setting of The Sound of Music as well as the real life home of the actual von Trapp family, on our Study Tour to Western Europe a couple years ago, and we saw where some of the scenes were shot!  So fun. 
(Here is a picture of us Sound of Music fans in Salzburg, posing right where Maria and the children danced!)

However, we did not see the location of the scene where Maria and the children sing my favorite Sound of Music song:  "My Favorite Things."
This song in combination with my tendency to feel very passionately about the things I like prompted me to begin an indefinite series of posts concerning my favorite things!  There is no particular order or organization of any kind to this ongoing list (unless otherwise specified in future posts, of course). 

Target unscented baby wipes - They are fantastic and so, so much better than any other brand I've tried.

World Market unfiltered apple juice - Unbelievably good.
Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Soap - Oh. My.  Goodness.  This is the best body wash (which also doubles for shaving "cream") ever.  It is invigorating and smells heavenly.  Oliver and I both use it (because it isn't a super feminine or super masculine smell) and LOVE it.  There's no need to buy two body washes and two shaving creams....That's 4 products in 1!
Boots No7 High Shine Lip Gloss, Flirt - The perfect shade (for all seasons), the perfect transparency, the perfect texture.  I got this on super clearance at CVS once (less than $1.00), and I LOVE IT!
Camelbak Water Bottle - It's BPA free, has a straw system (no more trying to walk, run, and bike whilst tipping your head back for a drink), comes in great colors, leak-proof (can throw in your purse/diaper bag and go), helps me to drink the amount of water I need to, and is environmentally friendly!
The boy is awake!  More later!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

This past Sunday, our little family ignored the fact that it was 80+ degrees and went out to the pumpkin patch.  I have such fond memories of pumpkin patches, tree farms, apple orchards, and the like from when I was a child, and I get all sentimental about sharing these experiences with my boy from here on out.  What a blessing! 
Of course, we had to get the traditional hay bale with the surrounding pumpkins shot:
We got SO THIRSTY (did I mention it was 80+ degrees?!), and Oliver let Griffin taste his Diet Mt. Dew:
We also got to meet a tractor named Oliver!  hahah:
Griffin got to try his hand at farming:
They also had a petting zoo, which was so much fun!  They had a couple deer, and this particular one treated our limbs like salt licks:
Griffin and his new friend, the deer:
Watching the hay ride tractor drive by:
They had quite the set-up for the goats in the petting zoo, and this one kept getting in head-butting fights with the others:
Peering over the edge:
This petting zoo had a few animals that probably shouldn't be included in any petting zoo....geese and an emu?!  Really?  We did absolutely no "petting" of these biters:
10 months old, and more wonderful than ever!
It was quite a challenge to get this shot:
And the separate holes thing was next to impossible:
My boys:
Our family all ready for Fall.  No, we did not buy a $25 pumpkin there.  We went to a stand down the street from this pumpkin patch and got a great big pumpkin and a little pumpkin for $7 :)
Checking out the strange looking new veggie:
He like the stems:
A couple videos of the petting zoo portion of our pumpkin patch experience:

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