Thanksgiving 2012

This year it seems to be a tradition to make a public proclamation for what you are thankful for.  I think this is a wonderful idea because I love “counting my blessings” and hope that my family can as well.
This year I was thankful that we were able to stay home for thanksgiving.  Leading up to the big holiday I was sad that my brother and sister got to spend it with my family without us while we stayed here at home with J’s family.  However, after getting to spend 4 days at home with no major plans, I am so thankful for being home.  Since I came back to work last year after my maternity leave I haven’t had a lot of extra time to take off that wasn’t for a trip to see my family or staying home sick.   This weekend we had 4 full days to spend in a clean house with a happy healthy family.  It was great for my soul that needed a break.

Speaking of which, I am trying to be thankful for our home.  There is so much we want to change and improve but for the most part I really do love our place and am very thankful that we are able to have such a nice home at such a young age.  We have a great room that is full of a nice rug for our baby to play on, a desk to store our family memories and pictures, and kitchen that is truly the heart of our home.
I hope you and your family had a great restful thanksgiving!

Happy Halloween 2012

What a fun day yesterday with DJ and trick or treating!  She is walking really well now and is actually starting to try to run.

We went over to my sister in laws house after work and fed the kids some pizza.  After getting everyone into their costumes, we took a group photo! Ok, getting 7 kids plus a teenager to pose doesn’t work well, at least we got a nice family one!

And then we were off!  The older kids were running and DJ didn’t know what to do.   As quickly as I could we ran to the first house.  I set her down in the grass a bit closer to the door and she just stood there!

At least it was nice I could snap one more picture!  I had to scoop her up and run up to the door and she got to drop a piece of candy in her bucket!

We had such a fun Halloween with our little Pumpkin!

Thanksgiving Weekend 2010 and Black Friday Shopping

J and I had a wonderful thanksgiving dinner with at his sister’s house.  His parents were also there along with 4 out of the 7 nieces and nephews.  It was a gorgeous day so the kids and adults were able to spend lots of time outside playing horse shoes after eating dinner.  While we were over there, J’s sister and I started talking about her dSLR camera and some of the options available now.  I mentioned that it was a purchase I had been thinking about for a while.

We made it home by 4 pm and were able to relax and eat a light dinner.  J and I discussed the camera options and did some more research on what was available.  I knew I wanted to go with Canon because that is what J’s sisters use and we could share lenses.  I was willing to go with an older model because I am new to the photography thing and am not planning on using the camera for anything more than personal purposes.  However, as I did more research that evening, I found the new Canon T series introduced High Def video to the cameras.  Adding the video camera feature was something I was very interested in.  I felt like we could really use this feature down the road when children are around.  That narrowed my choices to the T1i and the T2i.  Ideally I would have been happy with the T1i, but the T2i was on sale with a package deal for Black Friday.  The same store that had the T2i on sale, also had the PlayStation 3 with the new Move package available.  J had been waiting for a PS3 for a while now and this seemed as good as time as any to pick one up.

Still undecided, we had agreed to run to Toys R Us that evening to pick up some great deals for friends and family.  The #1 big item on our list was a $300 Little Tykes play house on sale 50%.  When we showed up at 9 pm (an hour before the store opened), there were over 400 people in line in front of us.   We were notified that the store was only going to allow 50 people in every 2 minutes (to allow them to disperse into the store) until they reached capacity of 400.  Of course, we were right over 400 so we had to wait a few extra minutes for a small group of people to exit the store before they would allow us in.  When we got inside it was a mad dash to find the play house tickets.  Luckily there were plenty left.  J got in line and I spent some time gathering the other items on our list.

We wrapped up at TRU by 11:30, went home to drop of our stuff, and then went out to meet up with some friends at a local bar.  It was great to go out and see some friends on Thanksgiving and it kept us awake before we had to be back in line for the store opening at 4 am!  We wanted to make sure we got these big ticket items so as soon as the bar closed, we went back and got in line (roughly 2:30 am).  This time we had our chairs and snacks and drinks to keep us awake!

By 4:30 am we had the camera bundle and the PS3 system in hand and were headed home for bed!  It was quite a Thanksgiving Day for us!  Here is what our couch looked like the next morning!

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I am also happy because we had plenty of time later in the weekend to put up Christmas lights!

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Thanksgiving 2010 with Modern Printable Decor

This past weekend J and I went to visit my parents for an early thanksgiving dinner. It was the first time we had been to visit since the wedding and it was great to relax and not work on wedding plans every second of the weekend.

We had a very casual dinner on Saturday afternoon but we still wanted to make it special so I printed out some of the decorations that were posted on Hostess with the Mostess as part of Operation Give Thanks.

Here is what we came up with for our dinner table.

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We used a white table cloth, and a green/yellow runner that my mom had from a couple of years ago. She has multi-colored fiesta plates, so I just picked out the orange green and yellow plates for us to use. A large orange candle served as a simple centerpiece.

I printed out the cute place cards and hand wrote our names on them. Place cards are always a holiday tradition in our house so I was happy to incorporate these. Sometimes we write what we are thankful for on the back and my mom saves them.

We also used the paper napkin rings to put together the silverware.

I printed out a few drink labels and stuck one on the water pitcher. There were some really cute yellow lemons floating in the water but you can’t see them in this picture!

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I printed these cute little signs and taped them to a matching toothpick. They were double sided so they could be seen from both sides of the table!

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My dad made homemade rolls and they deserved a cute little sign of their own!
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Last but not least was the wonderful turkey my dad also made!

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It was a wonderful weekend with my family and I can’t wait for Thursday when we get to do it all over again with J’s family!

Holiday Plans

I am so sad we won’t be hosting thanksgiving dinner at our house this year. We chose not to invite everyone over because 8 adults and 7 not so little kids would just be tight in our house. The kids need room to run around and activities to do. We just aren’t set up as a kid friendly house right now.

If I were to be able to host Thanksgiving, there is no doubt I would be using these bad boys. Printable thanksgiving party decor. The suite includes menu cards, kids stuff, place cards, etc. All in some great green and orange designs. I’m so sad.

However, this will be our first Christmas in our new house. We are thinking of hosting J’s family over for Christmas dinner and the family gift exchange. The kids always get enough gifts during the family gift exchange that it keeps them busy for a few hours. This would give us (ok really, me) the perfect opportunity to use some free printable Christmas decor!

I have already scouted out some of the great gift tags etc that West Elm has posted. Who knew they posted cool stuff like this on their website. I can’t wait to start planning a menu and everything else! Merry Christmas!

What a week….

Oh my goodness, we have had quite a week here so I apologize for not posting at all.  From Tuesday through Friday this week we were watching my 2 nephews (ages 7 and 8) and my niece (age 4) and their dog at their house.  Their parents both had to go to a work event out of town so J and I agreed to watch the kids.  Actually J said all week, “why did you get us into this” so I don’t think he really agreed to it until I told him!

The kids were great.  We are very fortunate to live down the street from them so we are often around for dinner time and bedtime.  We know their routine and their rules and we have babysat before.  This week was a little bit different because J was really busy with school and work.

Tuesday around 2 pm, the clinic called.  One of the kids was sick.  J had to go to school that evening so I took the afternoon off work.  I was home with the kids from about 3 pm until 7:30 pm when J got home from school.  That meant unpacking from school, cooking dinner, packing lunches for the next day, entertaining kids, and getting baths going.  By the time J got home it was basically bedtime which luckily he was able to help with and we were able to enjoy a quiet evening.

Wednesday, J had to work and he left early around 5 am.  I got up around 6 am and got the kids up around 6:30.  By 7:15 somehow we were all dressed and out the door.  We had to drop Mason (our dog), back at home, feed him and get the kids to school.  Actually everything went really smooth but still tough by yourself shuffling three kids and two dogs between two houses trying to get to school and work.  That afternoon J got off of work early and he was able to get the kids and meet me at their house.  Since Thursday was veterans day and the kids had off, we took them to Pizza Hut for dinner.  They were really good at dinner and actually quite enjoyable.  That evening we watched a bit of a movie and got to bed.

Thursday as I mentioned was veterans day so me and the kids had off from school.  J unfortunately had to work again and left before the kids got up.  The kids had some homework due the next day so we spent from 8 am – 9:30 am working on homework.  Again, they were all great and finished their work.  By 10 am we were out to grandmas house (J’s parents) and J finished up work and met us out there.  We had a really nice afternoon, the kids were tired were fighting but all in good fun.  By 3 pm we got the kids home (thankfully J was there because I wasn’t feeling so hot).  We ate a really early dinner and spent another hour sitting at the table working on homework.

Friday once again J had to work early so I got the kids up and out of the house (I was getting the hang of doing it myself now) and we were ready with plenty of time.  Work was rough on Friday.  I had several meetings, several deadlines and another lunch meeting with some out of town guests.

So like I said it was a VERY busy week.  Today J had to work again and I am working on some chores now that we are finally back in the house.  Hopefully I will make it to the grocery store soon because there are some awesome deals out there this week!

I am also looking for some great thanksgiving recipes that I can make with some of my stockpiled food (pasta/rice/etc).  If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

New Orleans

This past week I was lucky to travel on another work trip to a location I had never been before. J has been here before but I hadn’t. I still wish we could have gone together but he had to stay home with school and work.

The meeting took place at the Hotel Monteleon. It was about a block off of Bourbon Street on a much quieter side street with lots of antique shops. The hotel was beautiful and is known for its moving carousel bar in the lobby. We arrived around 3 pm with some time to explore and the hotel was perfectly located for walking around.

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One of the first places I walked with one of my co-workers was Cafe du Monde. Since it was a Monday afternoon, we easily got a table and enjoyed some beignets and some hot chocolate.

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It was amazing how simple and small the restaurant was. The wait staff simple went down a cafeteria style line and gathered the food to be served.

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I really enjoyed walking around New Orleans. It was a very easy city to navigate and during the day I felt very safe. I ventured into some of the shops on canal street and enjoyed the scenery there.

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After a long day of meetings, I was also really lucky to enjoy a wonderful dinner hosted by the event at Broussards. It was a wonderful restaurant and we enjoyed many of the dishes shared at the table.

Here are some pictures from the restaurants website:

Broussards New Orleans Restaurant French Quarter Bourbon street

Broussards New Orleans Restaurant

New Orleans, Broussards, Restaurant

Here are some of the dishes we tried at the table:

Hot Appetizers:
FLASH-FRIED CALAMARI
In a Creole tomato & olive relish with freshly ground black pepper

CRABMEAT BROUSSARD
Crabmeat Baked in Artichoke-Brie Béchamel, Surrounded by Herbsaint Spinach

ESCARGOT PERSILLADE
Baked Burgundy snail and shitake mushrooms in garlic parsley butter, with a hint of Herbsaint demi glace, set in a Phillo cup shell

Soups:
TRIO OF SOUPS
Demi-Tasse of Shrimp Bisque, Gumbo and Turtle Soup

My entree was a special of the evening but it was a Salmon with crab meat and cous cous.

For desert we tried the following:
Crepes Broussard
Crepes Rolled with a Cream Cheese, Brandy Pecan Stuffing and Served in a Strawberry Sauce

Bananas Foster
Bananas Sauteed in Rum, Brown Sugar, Butter and Cinnamon. Served over Vanilla Ice Cream.

Cranberry Almond & Raisin Diplomat Pudding
Served with Bananas Foster Sauce

It was a wonderful trip!

Happy Halloween 2010

It has already been a wonderful Halloween weekend!

We had a party to go to so I made these REALLY easy meringue ghosts. I was really surprised how easy they were and how many people liked them.

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I was really happy to use my mix master again! I had never done piping before so I was pretty happy with how they turned out. For the eyes I used mini chocolate chips. This worked pretty well except I needed to push them in a little bit harder so they would stick better.

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Luckily I started making these around 2 pm for a 6 pm party because they took an hour in the oven and then another 45 minutes or so to finish up with the door propped open. They probably could have used a full 2 hours in the oven because they were still a bit sticky on the inside.

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By the time we left the party there were only 2 left! I can’t wait to make christmas trees and/or snowmen for christmas.

After that party, our good friends came over and we got dressed up and went out for a little bit. We almost won the costume contest too!

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Happily, the night ended with a trip to Whataburger!

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Happy Halloween!!

Weekend Paddle Board

This past weekend we had beautiful weather. It was awesome to have a bit of warm weather to have one final day out in the sun.

J’s two best friends had recently purchased paddle boards and invited us to take them out on the river. There was a group of 5 of us that went. Two people were on the paddle boards and three in the small boat. It was a long trip so this was great to provide some rest after paddling for a while! The guys took turns and all did really well.

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We stopped a few times at various rope strings that were along the river and the guys had fun jumping into the water.

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The guys also got bored and were trying out different tricks on the board:

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Finally I got the courage to try it out. Although it was warm out, the water was really cold and I was nervous about falling in and being cold the rest of the trip. We stopped at a dock so I could get on the board. After a few seconds I had my balance and was paddling on my way. It really was awesome. It took a lot of strength to actually get momentum going and strength to keep your balance on the board. I am happy to say that I was the ONLY person not to fall in the water that day!

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I doubt J and I would ever purchase these boards because we don’t really have a lot of great places to use them but they certainly would be fun to rent or borrow for an afternoon!

Fall Decorating 2010

Fall is almost here! Even though afternoons still almost reach 100 degrees, there is less humidity, a certain amount of crispness in the air, and its football season!

So as part of wanting to have a “grown up” style house, I wanted to decorate this fall. I would like to stay away from the Halloween decorations. I have some halloween stuff but I can only stand looking at it for about 2 weeks.

My new favorite store is Kirklands. With a $10 coupon last week I went in for some fall decor for our mantel. We recently got rid of our teal leather couch so we can finally bring in some other colors!! I went with an “orange” theme because I’ve never really used that color. I think it compliments the brick, the wood, and the brass of the fireplace. Here is what I came up with:

Fall 2010 Decorations

The orange orchids on the top left were $18.  I love that they bring in a great fall orange color but can maybe be used throughout the year.  The glass star is actually a votive holder and was a wedding present (from Pier 1).  I could never find a good place for it around the house so this seems like a good use for it.

The right side of the mantel is a bit of a hodge podge.  The hurricane vases with leaves painted on them were a bit of a splurge at $18 because they are really only usable for fall.  I never really light candles but love the look they give so I always go with cheap ones that I can just change out as needed.  The best part of this is the framed leaves.  This is simply an extra frame I had laying around and I took three leaves and taped them to piece of ivory card stock (left over from wedding projects!) and inserted in the frame.  The statue was another wedding gift that seems to fit nicely in a lot of different decor.

Lastly, I was given flowers for finishing a project at work and they are the perfect addition to the hearth.  I replanted into a plastic terra cotta colored pot that I had laying around the garage.

Fall Flowers

The only thing I would like to change would be a nice vertical mirror with a wreath hanging over it.  We’ll see if I can find something for cheap!!

Total budget:  $50