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Friday, December 23, 2016

Pretending I'm Martha Stewart!

So, Dan won't be home until in the morning.  And at some point last night he mentioned that he HOPED he would be home on Saturday. I didn't even acknowledge the fact that not being home on Saturday morning was even a remote possibility.  I might have even stuck my fingers in my ears and started singing a "I cannnn'ttttt heeeeaaaarrrrrrr  yooooouuuuuuuu!"

I've been busy this week.  Having the kids at home has been nice even though we haven't really done anything.  Peter mentioned a movie and I had even thought about that but when I checked what was available, I knew there was nothing that all three of us would be happy seeing and we just ended up staying home.

But, we've been making and baking!

We went to Hobby Lobby and bought a bunch of craft stuff:

I would show you what I made but someone that reads this blog regularly (hello mom!) is going to be the recipient of some of the cute things we made with all this stuff. 

We've also been busy baking. Yesterday we made fudge!

It's the super easy kind with just condensed milk, chocolate chips and vanilla.  Next year and I may get wild and make real fudge that requires butter, sugar, eggs, etc.  But then again, I may not!

We also melted chocolate, white chocolate, and caramel and made pretzel rods! 


And finally, we made chocolate chip cookies!

I used my sister-in-law's recipe and it is so good.  The edges are crispy but the insides are chewy.  These are the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  You take the regular Toll House recipe and subtract 1/4 cup of flour and increase both sugars by a 1/4 cup.  And then bake for 10 minutes.  The centers will still look undone but take them out anyway.  They continue baking after you bring them out of the oven.  And this goes for any chocolate chip cookie.  If you wait until they look done until you take them out, they will end up way over done.  And that's my Martha Stewart tip of the day!

And today, I'm getting ready for a little Christmas Eve party we are going to have.  We will go to my brother's church tomorrow night for a Moravian Lovefeast and Candlelight service and then my family and my BFFs family will come back here for appetizers and some Christmas cheer!

I'm trying to get some of the food prepped today so I don't have quite as much to do tomorrow.  Enjoy your final moments of Advent.  Our long awaited guest is almost here.  And I mean Jesus  - not Dan!  :) Although I'm really looking forward to seeing him too!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Melting Potatoes

We are hoping and praying that Dan is able to get on a plane tomorrow morning.  That all hinges on whether or not they are able to complete the third and final plane in the order today.  It is scheduled to be completed today, however, the other two planes both were completed the day after they were scheduled due to various issues. 

If it doesn't get completed today then instead of taking the early flight out tomorrow morning and being home by tomorrow evening, Dan would have to stay on Friday and then take the red-eye home on Friday night arriving Saturday.  Needless to say, the kids and I are praying for a miracle that this final plane is able to be completed today so that Dan can get home!

Today I thought I would share with you this new recipe I tried this week.  Typically when Dan is gone, I don't cook.  However, when your husband is gone for a month, you don't just tell the kids to eat whatever they want for a month. So the other night I picked up a rotisserie chicken -technically that's not cooking but both kids love those. But I did make a new potato dish.  It's called melting potatoes and I saw it somewhere online. 

They were billed as "crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth on the inside" which is exactly how I would describe the Pioneer Woman's Crashed Hot Potatoes which I make frequently and everyone loves.  The main difference being that this recipe looked a little less time consuming.  So I gave it a shot.

And they were good!  Really good!  I will be making these again for Dan whenever he gets home!

The recipe can be found here on

If you decided to try these - please note that the recipe calls for the potatoes to be sliced to an inch thick.  If you look at the pictures posted with the  original recipe, it is clear that the potatoes were sliced  a half inch not an inch.  And that's what I did and they came out perfectly.  I think sometimes people say an inch without realizing exactly how big an inch really is.

And mine really could have used a few extra minutes in the oven but they were still really good!

I hope you give these a try and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The weekend and my new glasses!

We've been busy little bees around here.

On Friday, after a day of Christmas parties and #GivingTuesday celebrations at school, the kids came home, hung out with friends and relaxed.  Then we headed to Christo's in Lexington for dinner with my parents.  If you are local and love a good Buffalo wing, you need to get to Christo's.  They have the best ones ever.  Ronnie's in Clemmons is second but for the best wing its always Christo's.  And then of course, my dad makes fabulous wings on the grill but y'all can't get just pull up to his front door and request an order.  I probably could, but you guys can't.  :)

I got the Christmas cards done on Saturday, Peter helped my brother with some work and Sarah and I ran errands and had lunch at Subway. 

Sunday was  a very busy day.  After Mass, we had lunch at my parent's house and then Sarah and I headed to the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem to see the University of North Carolina School of the Arts perform the Nutcracker!  Sarah and I had never been so we were excited.
 Here we all are! I like how Jennifer and I are a little blurry in the background! 

And here is a shot of just the girls!

It was a really good show and I'm so glad we went!  However, getting out of the parking deck was a nightmare.  It took us ONE HOUR!!!  And I'm not even exaggerating!  We happened to be one of the last people out of the deck.  It was so frustrating!!!  We barely made it to drop of Sarah and Cheyanne at their Girl Scout Christmas party.  After we dropped them off, Jennifer and I went to dinner.  It was nice to catch up with her.  I've been so busy with things at school and trying to get everything done for Christmas that I haven't had lunch with her in a month!  That's too long!  Hopefully January will be a little more calm!

Yesterday I went to pick up my glasses and here is the mug shot I took of myself this morning.

I need to go back today to get them adjusted.  The stem on the left side is digging into my ear and the stem on the right side is a little high.  And that's because my ears are uneven but I'm hoping they can make them a little more comfortable. 

Regardless, I am just so excited to be able to  see. A lot of people warned me that I would hate them or have trouble getting used to them.  But I quickly adjusted.  I think it's because I had to wear my reading glasses with my contacts for the last month and could not see a darn thing up close or mid-range without them.  Now I'm not cussing under my breath while searching for my reading glasses so I can read a label or something on the computer.

Have a happy Tuesday, everyone!  I will be trying to wrap up the last of my present wrapping and then will need to start thinking about cleaning and cooking to be ready for Christmas!!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Dan and my list....

Dan will not be arriving home tomorrow morning as planned.  Instead, he is now currently scheduled to come home on December 23rd.  And y'all, I am praying that he actually does make it home for Christmas.  If he doesn't, the kids will be devastated. So, I'm praying that he will be home on the 23rd and that he will at least get to stay home 4 or 5 nights.  Although, most likely he will have to go back right after Christmas. 

In the meantime, I've been trying to remind my kids to think about our blessings and not Daddy being gone so I thought I would put down a few of them right here. So, here they are.

Things I Am Thankful For

1.  We are all healthy.  And I don't just mean that we are free from sniffles or the stomach bug, but that we are not fighting a major disease or a catastrophic illness.

2.  Daddy has a job - and a good one at that.  Even though this project isn't going well, Daddy is still gainfully employed and we have all that we need and actually so much more.

3.  My kids attend a great school.  It's a small school and it's not perfect (no school is) but it's perfect for us.  The teachers have high expectations for the kids and they usually rise to meet them.  Kindness, generosity, helpfulness and a very strong work ethic are not just taught but modeled at our school on a daily basis.  

4.  We have a house (with a really great new kitchen!) and it is filled with everything we need and most of everything we want.

5.  My parents are right next door and love to take my kids to school when Dan's not home.  And they would do anything for us.

6.  My brother is nearby and would also do anything for us.

7.  In addition to family, we have friends who love us as well and would do anything for us.

8.  We have our Catholic faith which is just so beautiful. Every season is so perfectly thought out and full of meaning and always seems to come just when you need it. Advent is a season of waiting for Jesus but this season has a different element of waiting for us - waiting for Daddy to come home! 

9.  Diversions - we have lots to do to keep us busy.  Basketball, scouts, and church are keeping us busy these days.  But we also have dinners out with friends and family, parties to attend, and shows to see.  We may be missing Dan but we have things to do to keep our mind off of it.

10.  And last but not least, I would like to put something really silly on this list.  This Is Us and Fixer Upper.  I have been able to watch all 10 episodes of This Is Us while Dan has been gone and y'all, if you aren't watching that show you really should be.  It's all kinds of good!  And, you know my love for Chip and Joanna.  It's nice to be able to watch as much shiplap and demo day as my heart desires on Tuesday nights. 

I have so much to be thankful for, how can I be bitter that Dan isn't here with us right now?  Because, ultimately, this program will be over and he will get to come home and life will resume as normal. 

Have a great weekend everybody!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

This, that and the other....

Y'all!  I'm behind in life so this is going to be fast!

This weekend was very nice.  On Saturday I met three of my oldest friends at a local winery for lunch and to catch up.  Mom and Dad took the kids to Peter's basketball game so I could enjoy myself!

It was so great to catch up with these ladies!

Me, Kristi (college friend that I met in 1987), Christie (friend from work that I met in 1995), Tanya (friend that I met in Junior High is 1982! and was later my college roommate and also worked at the same place Christie and I worked).

It's always nice to spend time with them and we have vowed to get together sooner.  They all live in Charlotte and we used to meet once a month for dinner and then I had to go and move and our twice a year meetings have dwindled to once a year and this time over a year had passed.  We can't let that happen again!

On Saturday evening, Sarah and I made this delicious cake:

It's basically a southern birthday cake - Southern White Almond cake with Southern Buttercream Frosting.  It was really good.  I think if we made it one more time it would perfect!  There are a few minor changes/updates we need to make and then I think we will have the recipe for all of our future birthday cakes!

On Sunday we went to Mass, had lunch at my parent's house (and ate the delicious cake) and then I came home and made our Christmas card.  Hopefully I will be able to get them out before Christmas! 

Yesterday was errands and PTO work, basketball practice and Girl Scouts and today I am going to attempt to finish the last of my Christmas shopping or at least try to get the bulk of it completed.  And tonight Peter has a basketball game. 

Last night at Girl Scouts, a paint your own masterpiece place brought the canvas and all the supplies and the girls painted away!  Sarah was frustrated that she wasn't getting her math assingment to work out and wanted to stay home from GS to try to get it right.  However ,she had already been working on it for 2 1/2 hours and I knew she just needed to go in this morning to talk to her teacher.  So I forced her to go paint and to relax.

And she had a great time and this is her masterpiece:

I think it looks great!!! 

And speaking of great.  A fellow PTO mom gave all the board members a bottle of Cranberry Prosecco  and had tied a sweet little package of Trader Joe's mistletoe to it.  It made a very festive gift!   Thank you, Dana!

Now if I could just get my husband home!  ;)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Tree decorating, Christmas pageant, $118k - just the usual Christmas happenings.

It's been a busy week y'all!  Lots of school activities, PTO work, Christmas shopping, etc.  You know - the usual December craziness.

But first, before I delve into all the highlights, a quick Dan update.  Apparently his boss said "We need to try to get you home for a few days."  So, NEXT Saturday (not tomorrow, but NEXT Saturday) he is scheduled to be home after taking the red-eye Friday night. 

That means, he will arrive home on the 17th.  But I'm not sure when he leaves again.  Will he be home two days and head back to Seattle for a few days and then come back for a couple days for Christmas and then head back?  Or will he be home for a week and go back after Christmas?

Dan's not sure yet.  Although he feels like unfortunately it will be the former and not the later.  :(

But again, I'm thankful he has a job, thankful he's healthy, but most of all - I'm thankful the kids are old enough to give themselves a bath and put themselves to bed!  :)  But seriously though, if you could keep Can in your prayers I would appreciate it.  He is working 12 hour days (including weekends) and I know he's worn out.

On Sunday the kids and I headed to one of the local Christmas tree lots to pick out the perfect tree.  My brother went with us because there was no way I was getting a tree home and in the house without some manpower.

Since we always take a picture in front of the tree when we cut it fresh from the mountains, I thought we needed to continue the tradition even if though were at the tree lot...

The big brick sign in the background adds an extra special touch, don't cha think??

Then the kids and I decorated the tree and we took all the usual cheesy tree-decorating photos.

We even set the timer to take one of the three of us...

And here's a picture of our house with the lights and wreaths.

On Tuesday night we had the school's Christmas pageant.

Here are a couple of phone snaps from the evening:

And at the end of the pageant, the school revealed the final results of our Giving Tuesday campaign.  Not sure if I mentioned that here or not but a donor told the school that if we could raise $25,000 on Giving Tuesday, he would give the school an additional $50,000!!!

And we raised (including the $50k match) a whopping $118,000!!!!  That is HUGE for our little school.  Here I am with the Principal, the Director of Advancement and the other PTO board members!   

So now the PTO has been busy getting tee shirts printed for every student to wear next Friday which is going to be called Mercy Pride Day.  And we are also planning a special lunch - free Chick-Fil-A for everyone and an afternoon of movies on the big screen.  The big kids will get to watch Elf and the little kids will watch Santa Buddies. 

I need to get back to my online shopping! Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Might as well blog...

Dan is still in Seattle so I figured since I had nothing else to do, I might as well blog.  Lucky you!

Dan is supposed to come home on Friday.  However, he said he wouldn't be surprised if he had to stay until Christmas.  Or if he came home this weekend, he would end up working the whole time and then have to fly bacl next week.  I'm hoping he comes home even if he's busy working here and even if he has to go back on Monday. It is not turning out to be a very merry Christmas so having him for even a few days is better than nothing.

This week has been a busy one!  Monday night we had Boy Scouts Court of Honor.  Peter received an advancement and two badges.  It was a potluck.  I always take the easiest meatballs in the world and they always get eaten. In fact, I made 100, and they were all eaten.  And if you've never made the world's easiest meatballs let me share the recipe.

Take a jar of grape jelly and dump it in a bowl and microwave it for a minute or two until it liquefies.  Then add a bottle of chili sauce and stir.  Then put a bag or two of frozen meatballs into your crock pot, pour the liquid mixture over the top, and cook on high for 2 hours.  So easy.  So yum!

Tuesday was Giving Tuesday and our school was participating.  We have a donor that said they would give us $50,000 dollars if we could raise $25,000. We had 50 hours to do it. We are announcing the results at the school Christmas pageant on Tuesday night! 

Peter had a basketball game on Tuesday evening. I worked on PTO things at the school for the better part of Wednesday.  On Thursday I helped out with the 8th grades biggest fundraiser - Santa's Workshop.

Parents send in money and the 8th grade sells items that have been donated to the elementary school kids and helps them wrap the gifts so that they can have presents for their family members that are a surprise on Christmas morning.  This is the biggest fundraiser for the 8th grade trip to Washington, DC.

I worked with 3 other mothers on Thursday sorting and pricing all the items that are going in to the sell.    We were all a little overwhelmed by the amount of work in front of us but we had a good time and we got it all done!

On Friday, I went to Mass and Adoration and then had another PTO meeting. After that, I ran a bunch of errands and then it was time to get the kids.

Today we had to drive to Burlington for a basketball game.  Peter had a good game and I think he was very proud of how he played today. (I know I was!)  Peter's not exactly what you would call a natural athlete and sports really isn't his thing, so any time he has a good game, we are all excited!

Here are a few shots I took with my cell phone:

Peter got the pass and turned and took a shot!

See the ball up there heading to the basket??

Swoosh! Good job, Peter!

And here is a little arrangement I put together this evening.

I wanted a red, green, and white arrangement but the grocery store didn't have any prearranged bouquets.  So I got some red carnations, some green hydrangeas (there were only two of those and they don't show up very well in this picture), and some white daisies.  When I got home I snipped some branches from our boxwood bushes and voila -  a sort of Christmas-y looking arrangement!

Tomorrow we are getting our tree.  My biggest worry is the lights.  Dan always does those so I'm going to be winging it this year.  Fingers crossed I can do a decent job!

And now we are all caught up!  Have a great what's left of the weekend!