Wednesday, November 30, 2011 could gain weight just by reading this post...

Are you pinning yet? I am sure you are. It seems like everyone I know is at least aware of Pinterest at this point. It really is a wonderful website. Every once in a while, like once a week I go on a pinning frenzy and just find all kinds of projects, recipe, entertaining ideas, cute things...I mean you name it, it's on there. Tonight for dinner I made a recipe that I pinned a while back. It was actually the second time I made it but this time I wanted to share it. It originally came from this blog. It is really good, really super fattening and doesn't have a whole lot of nutritional value.

I mean my goodness, look at those ingredients! If it wasn't for the two vegetables in the picture it would be an artery clogger for sure.

Which, if I am being honest doesn't really concern me all that much. I am not one to not try something if it seems to have a lot of calories, if it looks good and looks like something my family will eat-I will make it. Tonight I decided I would add a little more nutritional value to the dish though by adding broccoli and mushrooms to it. It makes a tremendous amount of food so I make two casserole dishes of it, one with just chicken and one with the veggies added to it.
The other thing that I always do when I have a recipe that just calls for 'cooked chicken' I make sure I pound the chicken and marinate it. For some reason plain, boiled or cooked chicken has always grossed me out. I like my chicken to have a lot of seasoning, I know there probably isn't anything less appetizing than raw chicken but I want you to see how much Italian dressing and seasoning I put on the chicken so here you go-

Other than those two things I followed the recipe. Like I said it makes a lot of food so you could even use this for entertaining. I love when I find recipes that our entertaining worthy!

There they are all ready to go in the oven....

Yum! Don't they look just cheesy and delicious?

Well there you have it. My dinner tonight.

Oh, I forgot to fill you in on my day...(cause I am sure you were I met my friend Heather at Hobby Lobby and we walked around for quite a while, found a few things and then we headed over to my house. It was nice just hanging out with a friend during the week, during the day. I spend so much time by myself during the week that I just love when someone is available to hang out during a weekday. If you haven't ever visited Heather's blog you should go now. She is just as beautiful inside as she is out. She has a darling family and is real creative. Oh and she's a real southern girl. I just love that. She just has the most wonderful southern accent too!

Oh and I am looking for new blogs to read/follow. I need to expand my horizons. If you are here and you have a blog please leave a comment and I will come check you out and follow you. Also if you could leave the name of your favorite blog or two that would be great!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bring on the holidays...we're ready.

I can't believe our 5 day weekend is over. It went so quickly. We had such a nice Thanksgiving in North Carolina with my husband's extended family. It is so awesome to see our kids together and to know that even though we are so far from 'home' we still have family close. This year the holidays are going to be much easier than last year. Our first holiday season last year being 3,000 miles away from family and friends was a little tough.

I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed 'Thanksgiving' food this year. I couldn't wait to come back home and try my hand at cooking it again. It had been a couple years so I was for sure a little rusty, plus, as I said before it's not my favorite meal to cook. Yesterday morning I gathered all my supplies and just had at it.
I decided early on that if I was going to attempt this meal that has been my nemesis for so long I was going to keep it real simple. In the past I have gotten too caught up in whatever the hippest, trendiest recipes are, trying to keep up with the Food Network's chef's...whatever, I am o.v.e.r. that. Now it is time to get down to the nitty bean casserole (recipe from the back of the onions, not the 'new' version by some fancy TV chef), dressing (or stuffing, whatever you wanna call it) without any fancy nuts or fruits or anything, just the simple stuff, fried okra and the turkey. My in-laws were bringing the mashed potatoes and gravy along with the biscuits.

there I am preppin away

Well everything seemed to be going real good. I got the bird on, the house was smelling great (oh and btw for the turkey I consulted and went totally old school) and I was real thrilled with how it was all coming along. My husband brought in the two tons of Christmas decorations that we have hoarded kept for the last 17 years or so and I got my decorating on. (pictures to follow, I need to finish this turkey story first). Five hours later, I had made the two casseroles, my in-laws arrived and it was time to pull ole' Tom out of the oven....oh wait, I forgot to give you this tip, which you may already know about, did you know that the EXACT same size turkey, the EXACT same brand is like half the price if you buy it frozen? I had no idea. Back in California I was always under the impression that we were the Rockefeller's and I bought the expensive 'distel' turkey and ordered it from the expensive grocery story where the real Rockefeller's shopped...well y'all we learned our lesson and this year I bought a $15.00, 16 pound turkey. The same size turkey, also Butterball brand but 'fresh' was $35.00. Shoot y'all I felt like I was extreme couponin' I was looking for the camera crew! Okay, back to the story, so we pull that bird out of the oven and it was real pretty. All brown and fabulous looking and I knew right away that I had finally nailed it. Then I saw it. Red. Red 'juice' coming from that dumb turkey. I was so mad. After five hours and following those directions from the website that darn bird still wasn't cooked. ugh. In stepped my father in law (do you hear the angels singing) and he went at that bird like he was a trained professional. He tore that thing up into pieces and cut out the back bone and 'butterflied' him and put it back in the oven for another hour and...VOILA! we had an amazing dinner. It was just delish!

After dinner was cleaned up my youngest wanted to start making gingerbread houses. This year I was smart and bought the pre-assembled version. What a difference! Getting that roof to stay on is half the battle. This time all we had to do was make it look pretty.

Here we are getting our building on

Here are the houses complete, mine is the one with the white roof, Gianna got all fancy with her roof....showoff.
We had so much fun making these bad boys. I might have to head to the Wal Mart and buy a couple more next week and we can do it again. This time we will do it when Allison is home so she can make one too.

I mentioned before that we had alot of Christmas decor. I think we have so much because our house in California had a much bigger downstairs than this house so when we bought that house I added to my Christmas collection by quite a bit. I love all of it. I have gotten rid of some stuff over the years but the stuff I have left I just love. Here are a few pictures of our two trees and all the other random stuff around the house.
I love these cookie jars
The main tree
A close up of some of the ornaments on the main tree

The kitchen tree.

He is one of my very favorite pieces. I just love him.
So in case you haven't noticed, I kind of have a theme. Snowmen. I have tried to venture away from the theme a little bit lately but I have been collecting them for quite a while so they have accumulated. My main tree has the snowman theme going but the kitchen tree is lime green and red. I am not the kind of mom who puts handmade ornaments on my tree. I know this isn't really all that nice, I know that I sound a little "Mommy Dearest" but do.not.mess.with.the.decor. for reals. I am totally aware of my neurotic tendencies and have no problem admitting it. I have kept the stuff my kids make, I just don't put them on the trees. Whatever. Don't judge.

Well I hope you have enjoyed the little peek into my home. I am looking forward to sharing the rest of our holiday season with you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

It is the night before Thanksgiving and I don't have one thing that I need to do. What a good feeling. I just love it when we are lucky enough to be invited to someone else's house for Thanksgiving. It is a meal that I do not really enjoy cooking all that much. I love to cook but for some reason the traditional Thanksgiving meal is not fun for me.
Tomorrow we will be driving to North Carolina (about two hours from us) to Chris's cousin's house. We had them at our house last month for a family birthday party and they had us for Easter. It is just great getting to spend time with part of Chris's family that we lived so far from for so many years. His cousin Sue has 5 kids and when her kids and our kids get together it is just as fun as can be.

For the last 24 days I have been posting one thing I am thankful for every day on facebook. I think I could do this for at least another month and not run out of things. I still haven't even gotten to my kids and husband yet! I think with everything we have been through in the last two years I realize now more than ever how many things I have to be thankful for.
Right now I am super thankful that the kids get a 5 day weekend. Woo hoo! Shoot, that means no driving! So happy about that.

I have been real busy lately making and listing new items on my etsy site. Here are a few of the clipboards I have made-
I just love the way these came out. I am loving the papers I have found online lately. I also listed a new sign and about 11 other signs. I have been busy! If you haven't been over to my etsy store, here it is.

Well I need to get busy go get back on Pinterest and facebook since I don't have any cooking, baking or cleaning to worry about. Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Monday, November 14, 2011

"We were on a break"

The famous line from 'Friends' uttered time an time again from Ross Geller as he kept defending himself to Rachel Green have been ringing in my head tonight about this blog. I just had to break up with it for a while, and even now I am not sure if we are back together for good. I am here now and I am writing and that is all that matters, right?

I had to sit down and write tonight because today is my one year anniversary from when I left the only state I had ever lived in, California. I didn't leave by myself of course, my whole family left. My husband, my two girls and me. Took a leap of faith and packed everything we owned and moved all the way to Virginia. I remember at the time I kept looking at maps of the US and thinking ' that is so far'. I didn't know how I would do being that far from all my friends and family. I will be honest, in the beginning it was just awful. There were times when it was good, days when we would wake up and think 'ok, we can make this work' but most days were just downright depressing. We left California because we had virtually lost everything we owned. We were the epitome of victims of the recession. We needed a new start and we figured we might as well try VA. Turns out Virginia might be for lovers, but it ain't for us. We are not Virginians. The good news is we left there and high tailed it down south to South Carolina. Well y'all who knew I was such a southerner at heart. This place is just wonderful. This is not to say that living here has solved our problems, that we are back on the financial fast track...we're not. But what this move has done for us has been so much better than that. It has brought us so close. We are so connected as a family. When you move somewhere new it takes a while to make friends, not just for the kids but for us adults consequently we have spent all of our time together, as a family. It has been priceless. Everything we have been through has been humbling, and at times humiliating but it has made us a strong family. Stronger than we ever knew we could be.

Some days I wake up and miss California so bad I can taste it. For 41 years it was all I knew. I was and still am a very proud California girl. It's a beautiful state, it's full of promise, glitz, glamour and all the things you see on TV. It is a great place to grow up. It is a liberal state where you are taught to be politically correct so as not to offend anyone, you are taught tolerance of others that are different than you and people work very hard to maintain  their chosen lifestyle. All of those things can be wonderful. All of those things made me who I am. Both of my parents were born and raised in California. My roots run deep. I will never bad mouth the state where I am from, it's a part of me. I will say that living in the south has given me so many new perspectives. Here people are honest and tell you like it is, yet somehow they are still warm and friendly and manage not to be offensive (that's why they add things like 'bless your heart' or 'darlin' after everything they say, it just sounds nicer) They stand up for what they believe in, not worrying about who it may offend. They are steadfast in their beliefs and this is the bible belt. They believe in God and his will. They do for each other at every chance they get. They are proud to be southern, even if that means being poked fun at times. They aren't worried about what kind of car they drive or what kind of handbag they carry. Their door is always open and they will welcome you with open arms. This isn't 'home', California will always be home. But this? Well it's the best place for us right now. It is exactly what we needed and it is where I want to finish raising my kids. I want them to have a little bit of California and a little bit of South Carolina. I want them to have the best of both worlds and I do believe they are getting just that.

This post is a little heavier than I usually write on this blog, it's more of a 'so they will always remember' post but it was just how I was feeling tonight. I will get back to regularly scheduled programming next time. I will start blogging again and sharing my southern life, after all it IS what inspires me.

 Thanks for reading y'all.