Wednesday, May 09, 2012

15 months

Where is this year going? Really. The weeks are flying by and my baby is growing into a full blown little girl! She's so funny, has the best personality and gives her Daddy and I more joy than we could ever imagine.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

SO Powerful!

I'm on a mission... to raise my daughter to STILL want to be the President of the United States at 15. If not the President, something worth dignity and respect and contributes to changing the world. What an eye opener. Life is not about lipstick, highlights and skinny jeans.

Miss Representation Extended Trailer

Friday, December 02, 2011

Everyone Wants Christmas To Be Meaningful...

Cyber Monday! I was so excited to be able to shop, shop, shop from the comforts of my own home. I've never really understood the Black Friday madness, especially because I never really see any "deals" I can't live without, but Cyber Monday? - I'm all about it. I actually found a few good deals on Amazon and bought a $40 voucher to Red Envelope, which I was VERY excited about!

While crossing off items on my Christmas to-do list and browsing Facebook, I came across a video my sister posted a few days ago on her wall. So I watched it. About half way through I was in tears... '

Everyone Wants Christmas To Be Meaningful

This entire week I kept thinking about what I love about Christmas, my favorite memories and how I want Macie to understand that this is a celebration of Christ's birth, not a special day to get a bunch of Wii games... Don't get me wrong. I love presents. Especially the giving part; really. But the fact that if everyone just pitched in a little bit could solve the world's clean water shortage??? - Its just mind boggling to me.

My sister and brother in law's church is taking this challenge. They are a small church, located in a rural part of Southeast Michigan. Many of their members are unemployed due to the economy and are struggling financially, but they have taken the challenge to purchase just ONE less gift this Christmas season. They are then encouraging the congregation to use that money towards a water filter. One water filter that will last a family for 23-30 years is $50. 

If they can do it, can't we all? In a world of people pepper spraying each other to get a discounted X-box (disgusting!), I can't even imagine what it would feel like to not have clean water...  

If you are interested in donating - ANY amount is appreciated and will make a difference in the lives of many.
You can send a check to Memphis Free Methodist Church Make the check out to the church with "Advent Conspiracy" in the memo line.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Christmas is coming!!

So much to catch up on, I haven't blogged in forever! I can't believe it. Where has fall gone? Or, summer for that matter... The time is passing so fast I can barely keep up! I'm watching my little girl grow bigger and learn to do new things every day. Its so bittersweet! I'm trying to focus on how fun she is and how proud I am of her, rather than my inside sobbing that she is getting TOO big TOO fast! 9 months old already and she's crawling up stairs and walking FAST if you hold her hands. Pretty soon she'll be walking on her own.

I'm so excited to experience Christmas with our little family this year! While Christmas shopping online, I came across RedEnvelope. LOVE that site! So many adorable, personalized gifts. Isn't the Handprint Canvas Kit SO cute?!? I saw this on Pinterest awhile back and wanted to do it then, so I'm so happy I found it on RedEnvelope. Go visit RedEnvelope. You will definitely find something (or many things) you will love!

This Sunday, Joey, M and I are going for a family mini shoot for Christmas pictures. I hope they turn out well! We don't have many pictures together since one of us is always behind the camera, so I am very excited. Can't wait to create our Christmas cards! I love being a Creative Memories consultant. Not only do I get an amazing discount on my favorite hobby, I get the opportunity to create unique mementos for my friends and family. This is the Christmas card I just created for my sister.

Its a 5x7 flat card. The paper its printed on is super thick, professional quality. LOVE IT! AND, they are 20% off right now! Anyone want me to make their cards?!? I will post mine after I make it. Our's is going to be an accordion card. So excited! :)

Before Christmas, comes Thanksgiving... I'm very excited to celebrate Thanksgiving this year as well because I have SO MUCH to be thankful about this year! My family from St. Louis is coming in town to celebrate the holiday. I can't wait to meet my cousin Ryan's daughter, baby Ava. Joey's parents may come in to celebrate with us as well. We are VERY excited about that! I know Joey misses them very much and it would be amazing for him, and for Macie to get to spend the holiday with her Grammy and Pops!

Anyone going shopping on Black Friday? I have never done this... but am considering it this year! A lot of stores are opening up Thanksgiving night at midnight rather than early the next morning. I know a lot of people are upset about that, but I'm actually kind of excited, and its the reason I MAY go out shopping this year. I would MUCH rather stay up late, than wake up early. We will see... Some of the "sales" I have seen don't seem to be that great.

To catch up a little bit, a few weeks ago we went to Traverse City to celebrate our 2 year anniversary. We brought Macie along as well. We had a fantastic time visiting all of the wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula. I didn't realize how amazingly beautiful that area is! We can't wait to go back and make it an adults only trip next time ;) Here are some pics from our trip.

 2 years of marriage already and 6 years together. I feel I'm going to go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow, married 30 years, with our babies all grown. I'm trying to enjoy EVERY second with my loves and not take for granted every day we have together. So often, we don't pay attention as life is passing us by... its never been more evident than now that I'm a Mommy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

SUPER healthy, SUPER yummy!!

This is a GREAT recipe that I will use many, many times for years to come. I love recipes that replace oil with applesauce without losing moisture or flavor, and this is definitely one of those. If you don't want ANY sugar in them, leave off the streusel topping, but I was feeling naughty... and with only 2 Tbsp of brown sugar in the entire recipe, SO worth it!

1 1/2 cup white, whole wheat flour
3/4 cup Stevia in the Raw
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (I use organic)
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk (I used buttermilk – YUM!)
4 apples – peeled, cored and chopped

Streusel Topping
1 cup uncooked regular oats
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan or liners with baking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, Stevia, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix applesauce, egg and milk. Stir the wet mixture into the flour mixture by hand until just blended. Fold in the apples. Spoon the dough into the prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Spread evenly over the muffin batter. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. 

Adapted from All Recipes

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Best Pot Roast EVER - A Joey Approved Recipe

So, I cannot take much credit for this recipe. Very rarely do I follow a recipe to a "t", but this one came pretty close. Thank you Pioneer Woman!

For those of you that are familiar with my husband, you know what he eats is very limited. If it was his choice, his entire diet would consist of five things: chicken wings, fried chicken, ice cream, beef (any kind) and beer. However, since I don't want him dropping dead in the next 10 years, I've tried to slowly expand his pallet to include the occasional vegetable. This is, a most definitely, Joey-Approved Recipe :)

Below is her recipe, and in bold are my changes. Enjoy!

1 whole Chuck Roast (She says to use 4-5 pounds minimum, but I used 3 pounds, which would NICELY feed 3+ people) 
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 whole Onions
6 whole Carrots (Up To 8 Carrots)
Salt To Taste
Pepper To Taste
1 cup Red Wine (You Can Use Beef Broth Instead, but I used wine)
2 cups To 3 Cups Beef Stock (I didn't have any, so I used chicken stock!)
3 sprigs Fresh Thyme, or more to taste (I used dried)
3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary, or more to taste (I used dried)

First and foremost, choose a nicely marbled piece of meat.  This will enhance the flavor of your pot roast like nothing else.  Generously salt and pepper your chuck roast. (I did this, and I did this generously. It was not enough. So, salt the heck out of it! And, when you are done, salt it again.)  Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or you can do a butter/olive oil split).  Cut two onions in half and cut 6 to 8 carrots into 2-inch slices (you can peel them, but you don’t have to).  When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions, browning them on one side and then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.  Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so. If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pan.  Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over.  Remove the roast to a plate.  With the burner still on high, use either red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that wonderful flavor up.  When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups depending on the size of the roast).  Add in the onion and the carrots, as well as 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.  Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast).  For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours.

When you are finished, you will get this yummy deliciousness…

I even separated the beef from the carrots and onions for Joey so he wouldn't be bombarded by too many vegetables at once. It was much appreciated :P

Gavin and Leroy were very sad I wouldn't give them any... It was TOO GOOD to give up! Look at poor, starved Leroy licking his lips!!

*Next time, I'm going to add celery and potatoes. You can also make AMAZING gravy from the remaining drippings. Just add a tiny bit of cornstarch to a tiny bit of drippings, stir, stir, stir until incorporated, then slowly add remaining drippings in a little at a time over low to medium heat. YUM! 

I did not make gravy this time. After draining my drippings using a colander, I poured them into a bowl, covered and placed them in my fridge. After a few hours the fat separated to the top. I scraped it off and saved that yummy stock for future roasts, soups, etc. It keeps great in the freezer and tastes SO MUCH better than the stuff in the can :)

My Favorite Things - October Edition

1. You know how people say when you have a child, you immediately cannot remember what your life was like beforehand? How everything has changed wonderfully, for the better? Well, I agree. However, I would also apply this statement to my recent purchase of the iPhone 4S. I will admit, I didn't "get" why everyone was so gaga over a phone. I'm not one that is super techy, or even cares that much about it really... but, this phone seriously rocks. I can call, text, shop, take pictures, manage my life, etc. If you're current phone plan is up soon, I HIGHLY recommend getting an iPhone. But, if its not, wait because paying $500+ for a phone makes my head hurt. We were lucky to purchase ours when our plan was up, with a few rebates, on sale. Makes this phone even more awesome to me ;)

2. Almost every, single fall Yankee Candle scent. I'm seriously obsessed. They smell SO GOOD! My new favorites are Pumpkin Buttercream, Apple Cider, Autumn Wreath, Spiced Pumpkin & Red Apple Wreath. I'm usually really sensitive to smells. I easily get headaches from the oil burners, certain perfumes, etc. but, Yankee candles always smell super yummy to me without being too strong. YUM!

3. I've been on a cooking, baking, baby food making kick lately. Everyone says how great it is when you make your own baby food - AGREED! Not only is it much healthier for your baby, but SO much cheaper and, in my opinion, SO much easier than leaving your house, getting in your car, driving to the store, buying jars of baby food, going through check-out, then driving back home... There are hundreds of different food processors, baby bullets, baby steamers, baby food mills, but all I use is the Cuisinart Hand Blender and some ice cube trays. Making Macie's food takes less time than making food for Joey and I. I make a few batches of whatever I'd like to make once every few weeks, grind it up a bit with my hand blender, stick it in some ice cube trays, pop them out frozen into Ziploc freezer bags and I'm finished.

4. The Pampered Chef - Anything and Everything. I love their cookie sheets, muffin tins and bread pans, but I REALLY love all of their cookware toolskitchenware.You're going to pay a few $$ more than you would at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but everything lasts for years versus months and works SO much better. Have a party! Get it all for free!

5. Kroger - Mainly for their ever-increasing, kick-butt, organic selection and their $1 beer and wine specials. Self-explanatory! Oh, and I just found this cool link on their website on how to host a wine tasting party. How fun!!

6. Pinterest - If you haven't discovered this lovely website full of awesome ideas, do so. Its a procrastinators dream :)