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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 39

It's Thankful Thursday so let's go...

1.  My sweet husband.  He had to come home from a long day of work and the immediately went to the basement to fix a clog in the heat pump which was causing water to leak all of the basement floor.

2. And then after fixing the clog in the pump, we had to rescue a hummingbird that was trapped in our garage.  Poor dumb bird kept flying up and into the ceiling instead of out the giant open garage door.  It had been in there at least three hours. After failed attempts at making a "net" out of a table cloth and two broom sticks, we found success with a giant dust broom and thankfully after 30 minutes of trying were able to get the bird out of the garage.  And THEN, at 8:30, my sweet tired husband was able to sit down and relax.

3. I had lunch with my bestie yesterday.

4. I've been slowly marking things off my to-do list.  This week I knocked out a couple more closets. Well, not knocked them out but cleaned them out.  It's always a good feeling to open a closet door and be able to find what you are looking for.

5.  Sarah's Girl Scout troop is having a yard sale this weekend and that was the main driver in the two closets being cleaned out.  :)   I love her troop and am very thankful for them - yard sale or not!

6. Homecoming is over and a good time was had by all.

7.  I'm slowly learning to use my Instant Pot.

8.  Fall TV!  Yes, I 'm thankful that the new shows are starting up.

9.Selfies with my sweetie.

10. Dinner time.  We always try to have dinner together every night. I love this time together. There's usually laughter, arguing, complaining, discussions on who did what at school, and more.  Even though cooking is not my forte, I am always thankful when we are all gathered around the table together.

12. A sweet friend and her husband who towed our old undriveable car to the scrap yard for us.  They went above and beyond with their offer to help us.  I'm so lucky and thankful to have such good friends!

11.  Ebates and cash back! Every time I shop online, I check Ebates first to see if I can order through them.  It's simple - I have a link in my toolbar that usually pops up when I'm in an online store asking me if I want to activate a code. Of course I do.  I just bought some shirts online for my brother and I'm getting $8 back from Ebates.  EIGHT DOLLARS - not eight points.  Actual dollars.

They mail me a check at the end of every month.  If you haven't already signed up with Ebates do it now with my code and I get some extra cash back.  The holiday season will be here before you know it so why don't you get into the habit of using Ebates now to maximize your cash back!  Who among us is not thankful for cash?!

What are you guys thankful for this week?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

My initial thoughts on the Instant Pot.

My parents got me an Instant Pot for my birthday.  I was very excited to receive it but  I have to admit, I was a little intimidated. 

I started out by boiling some eggs.  The pot wheezed and steamed and I was paranoid the entire time that the lid was going to shoot off and leave a hole in the ceiling.  They turned out fine except one cracked and the lid stayed on the pot and I felt a little better.

I boiled more eggs a couple of days after that and everything was find and dandy. They were perfect.  And other than the speed with which you can boil the eggs, the other fabulous benefit is that the Instant Pot eggs are so easy to peel.  You can literally peel them with one hand! 

Dan has been eating low carb since spring and loves deviled eggs.  Whenever I would make them in a regular pot of boiling water, I would get so frustrated because it took me FOREVER to get them peeled.  And in my frustration, I would end up losing some of the whites or large chunks would be missing.  They were some homely looking deviled eggs. That problem has disappeared with the Instant Pot.

Last night Ifinally tried a real recipe and it was fabulous!   Carne Asada Street Tacos from Happy Mothering. 

This picture is from her blog (obviously) because we were too busy eating them to be snapping pictures!

The meat was sooooo delicious and tender.  Everyone scarfed them up.  I served them with creama (sour cream mixed with lime juice and a little salt), avocado slices, and pico de gallo that I purchased pre-made from Aldi.  On the side we had Mexi-Corn (corn kernels that I sauteed in olive oil and then I add mayonnaise, salt, pepper, lime juice, and chili powder.  It tastes almost as good as the Mexican Street Corn Dan and I had on our honeymoon.) and Spanish rice. 

So good!  I will definitely be making this again! 

After my first shaky attempt at making hard boiled eggs, I watched quite a few YouTube videos on getting to know your Instant Pot.  I found that very helpful.  I've a visual person so being able to see someone using the pot and explaining it as they went along was beneficial.

So if you are new to the Instant Pot world, I recommend watching some YouTube videos first.  Then trying something very simple like hard boiled eggs and then trying this Carne Asada taco recipe.

And a little FYI...It does take some time for the cooker to come up to pressure so factor that in when you are making a recipe.  If a recipe calls for cook time of 10 minutes and a  natural pressure release time of 15 minutes, your total time will not be 25 minutes.

It will take the cooker some time to come to pressure.  It's kind of like the time it takes the oven to preheat.  The quantity of liquid and the temperature of the contents in the pot will determining the amount of time required to reach the right pressure for cooking. With the carne asada I cooked last night, it probably took the pot about 8 to 10 minutes to reach pressure and then start cooking.

Do you have an Instant Pot?  If so, what are some of your favorite recipes? Please share!

Monday, September 24, 2018

HOCO 2018 Pictures!

This weekend went by in a blur!

We attended the football game on Friday night and our team won by a landslide. (Honestly, it would have been better if the game was closer.  Winning by a large margin just means you feel bad about winning and you feel equally  bad for the other team.)

On Saturday, Sarah got up early (for her) and her bestie Cheyanne came over to do her nails.  Cheyanne did a great job on Sarah's toenails and fingernails.  In fact, she did such a great job that I am considering hiring her myself! 

Sarah curled her hair by herself because I've got no skills and also applied her own make up because I've got no skills and before we knew it, it was time to pick up her date and head to the botanical gardens for pictures.

There were about 30 kids in the group Sarah was going with so pictures were kind of chaotic.  We waited for everyone to get there and many of the parents were meeting each other for the first time.  I only knew two of the other kids in this group so there was a lot of handshaking and being introduced to people whose names I've already forgotten.

Then the kids broke off into pairs so parents could capture the exchanging of flowers and then after that was done, we had to do group pictures.  None of my pictures are that great.  There was one dad there that is a semi-professional photographer but I don't know him and I didn't get a chance to talk to him so I don't even know his name to stalk his facebook page.  Oh well.  I guess the pictures I took will have to do.

After pictures, the kids went to dinner and then then dance.  Sarah texted me at the end of the night that she had a great time and by the sounds of it yesterday, her first homecoming dance was a success!

On Sunday we drove to Greensboro and picked her up from her sleepover and headed to church and then lunch. (Dan and I said that we have been to Greensboro more in the last week than we have in the last 10 years!)  And then I came home and took a nap, watched the Panthers game, and then the Patriots game and just like that it's Monday again!

Here are some of the pictures we took of my sweet Sarah, her friend Oscar, and the rest of her HOCO 2018 crew!

Friday, September 21, 2018

It's the big weekend!

This is the weekend!  The homecoming game is tonight! We are playing Christ the King from Huntersville. 

There will be food trucks in the parking lot before the game, a band will be playing, and there will be a middle school mash-up.  (The area Catholic middle school kids are invited to come to the game for free and there will be a rock climbing wall, games, etc. for them to play so they can mingle and get to know one another and hopefully decide that they want to come to Bishop.)

And then, of course, the homecoming dance is tomorrow night.

Sarah's friend, Oscar, whom she has known since she started at Our Lady of Mercy in 2nd grade asked her a couple of weeks ago to go to the dance with him.  And that started all the crazy.  Almost immediately upon the start of school, the freshman class started talking about the dance and once there were some "couples" friends began forming groups to go to dinner together before the dance.

And then the group chats were set up so that everyone can keep up with the planning and what's going on with the group.  Sarah said there are THIRTY FIVE people in her group.  Y'all, I'm not going to lie - that makes my head spin. 4 weeks ago she didn't even know these people and now 35 of them are going to the dinner together before the dance.

Sarah has kept me abreast with what's going on in the group chat and I'm a wee bit nervous.  They have decided to meet at a botanical garden in Greensboro for pictures before dinner. (I'm certain that every other group will be there too taking pictures.) They chose a place for dinner but because of the size of the reservation (um, 35!) they ultimately decided to change to a different restaurant.  I'm hoping this one can actually handle a reservation that big.  The other place sounded like they were discouraging the group. 

There have been two girls in charge of this and I'm hoping and praying their moms have been helping them as well.  I don't know any of the people in Sarah's group (other than Oscar and another friend from OLM, Jorge) and thus don't know any of the moms so I'm just hoping that everything is going to go as planned. 

Sarah assures me that we just have to get her to the garden for pictures and then to the restaurant and that several other parents have agreed to drive (35!) kids to the dance.  (I will be making sure this is the case before I leave her at the restaurant.) AND - there's a sleepover after the dance with some of her new friends so I need to meet that mom and confirm that they will in fact be picking up the sleepover girls from the dance and taking them to the sleepover.  AND - that means Sunday morning we will need to pick Sarah up from this house in Greensboro before Mass and most likely go to mass in Greensboro since we won't make it back to Holy Family in time.  (This is when being Protestant and not going to church every Sunday would come in handy!)  😁

I'm sure you all have heard about promposals where a guy (at a minimum) makes a clever sign and brings it to school to ask a girl to the prom.  I've read about more extravagant promposals but thankfully those don't seem to be a thing here.

Apparently all the guys in Sarah's group asked the girls in person or some over a text and after the girls said yes gave them a sign.  According to Sarah one of her new friends volunteered to make all the signs for the guys.  They just needed to tell her what they wanted the sign to say and then she got to work. (What a nice girl!)

Oscar gave Sarah this sign and it's the cutest thing:

It says:  "Flowers are the second prettiest thing.  Can I take the first to HOCO?"

And he gave her a bouquet of red roses.  Aren't they cute couple?!  Sarah assures me that they are just friends but I don't know....

We've got a busy weekend planned.  I'm hoping for no rain and no problems with
pictures/dinner/dance/sleepover/mass.  And that Sarah has a great time!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 38

Thankful Thursday - let's go!

1. Very thankful the hurricane did little to no damage here and just left us with a lot of rain.  I continue to pray for those on the coast of N.C. that weren't so lucky.

2. I'm very thankful that we found a dress and matching shoes for the dance this weekend.  Sarah's super excited.  I'm just a little nervous that her heels are going to be a little too high,.  They are chunky though so hopefully she can walk without falling.  She's been practicing! 

3. My bestie (who I'm always thankful for!) gifted me with a Target gift card AND a Starbucks gift card AND flowers on my birthday.  She knows me too well!

4.  Look at the gorgeous Hearth and Hand (thanks Jojo and Jennifer!) pitcher that I got at Target on CLEARANCE for half off!!!  (And check out the bush clippings I put inside of it.)  Thankful for clearance merch and FREE greenery!

5.  Tomorrow is officially fall so I guess I'll start decorating.Feels like everyone else has been drinking pumpkin spice lattes and decorating for fall since August.   Thankfully the weather has been warm and sunny here (my favorite) except for the rainy hurricane weather and it just didn't seem right to start bringing out all the orange and yellow yet.  So, maybe this weekend...

6. So many people in the state are without power due to the storm so it's a great reminder to be thankful for something that I take for granted all the time.

7. Early morning rainbows!  Peter spotted this one the other morning before leaving for school!  I love a good rainbow.

8.  Porch time with my parents.  Last night, we had no activities, Dan was home from work at a reasonable time(before 7), dinner was done at a reasonable time (before 7:30), and we sat on the front porch with my parents.  Rocking chairs make me happy and so does spending time with the old folks! 😊  Just kidding mom - you guys aren't old - just OLDER than me!  💙

9. I'm thankful for sugar free mocha syrup at Starbucks.  Now I can get a cup of coffee (the Casi Ceilo is so good) with a couple of pumps of the syrup and heavy cream and have a low carb, cheap drink from Starbucks!  

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The rest of the weekend....

Last Saturday, I sent Dan and Peter and Peter's friend Colton out into the hurricane to Greensboro.  (Why do we seem to be spending so much time there lately?) And when I say "the hurricane" I really mean "some wind and some rain". 

Back in the spring or early summer, Peter bought tickets to see Wintersun in concert.  If you aren't familiar with Wintersun, they are a heavy metal band from Finland.  Have I mentioned Peter's interesting taste in music?  Well, it's interesting.

My husband agreed to take him and I had been praying since the minute that we bought those tickets that Dan would be in town so I would not have to go.  I think Dan was praying equally as hard that something would come up and I would have to go instead.  Hmmmmmm....I guess we know who's go more pull with the Big Guy!  (Only kidding.)

Anyway, Dan made it home from Switzerland, the storm wasn't as bad as predicted and the show went on as scheduled and I got to sit home on the couch in my pjs while Dan texted me a couple of pictures:

I immediately texted this picture to my friend Jennifer with the urgent question, "Why do our babies look like grown men????"

 This is Peter in his element.  He had a great time (not sure Colton had as much fun be he was a good sport!) and I'm sure he's saving his pennies for the next concert.  You would be surprised how frequently these obscure heavy metal bands from other countries go on tour....

Sunday morning found us at church and then we all went out to eat to celebrate our birthaversary  Then we went back to my parent's house for cake and gifts. 

Who are these old people??? 

My parents gave me an Instant Pot!

My brother being goofy!

He just can't help himself!

 My parents and my babies!

 And then just like that it was Monday again!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dress shopping!

When I last left you, Hurricane Florence was threatening the coast of North Carolina and forecasters were promising that she was heading our way.

We had been hearing about the heavy winds and rains all of last week and everyone around here was freaking out.  Please note, we are four hours from the coast but they were predicting that it was coming and we needed to be ready.

So everyone headed to the store to buy water, milk, bread and from the looks of the grocery store shelves -  all the canned meat.  And we waited and nothing happened but they kept saying it was coming. Schools were cancelled and every one was hunkered down waiting for the storm. And we continued to wait.

I was worried about Dan making it home from Switzerland based on all the earlier forecasts but he made it home on time with no problems.  In fact, thanks to everyone cancelling and changing their plans, the plane only had 8 people on it.  

The coast got hit hard and then Florence decided to turn south and our predictions for high winds and rains lessened but we were still waiting.  All this to say, it started raining with high winds on Saturday and continued to rain all day on Sunday.  Thankfully, in the area around our house, there was some flooding near rivers and streams but nothing horrible.  We never lost power and other than a few branches down in my parents yard, no trees around us were lost. 

As a precaution, the kids are on a two hour delay today but hopefully we will be back to our regularly scheduled life by this afternoon.  The sky is starting to clear this morning and I'm actually hoping we get a little sun.

I am very, very thankful that our area was spared from what they were calling for. I am continuing to pray for all of those on the coast who lost loved ones and whose homes and towns were flooded.

The kids were out of school on Friday because they were predicting the rain would be pummeling us at that point.  It was overcast and windy but there was very little rain so Sarah and I headed to Greensboro to shop for her dress.  We had already been to the mall in Winston-Salem and tried on at least 20 or more dresses but for one reason or another, none of them was THE ONE!

We  went to the same department stores in Greensboro but they had some different styles and also they had sizes in dresses she had seen in Winston but didn't have her size in.  Round two went much better!  At one point we had three dresses in the dressing room that we both loved and she could actually see herself wearing.


It was a miracle.

She was having trouble deciding so I told her which one I liked best (although I really liked all three of them and would have been happy with them all) and she agreed.  And we bought that dress and went to the food court to celebrate with some lunch!

Then we realized that the dress we chose needed new shoes so that started another round of shopping. We eventually ended back up in Winston, hit several shoe stores and then headed back to the mall there and finally found a pair that worked with the dress, wasn't too expensive, and didn't have a heel that was too high.

We left the house at 9:30 on Friday morning.  We arrived back home at 4:45.  But I'm not complaining because we got a dress AND shoes AND the hurricane had not come through as expected.  It was a good day.

I would show you a picture of her dress but I'm going to wait until next Monday.when I post pictures from the dance.  In the meantime, here are the two that did not make the cut...

 Sarah loved the high/low part of this dress and I really did too.  But what I did not love was the fact that the top "pulled" a little where the flowers were sewn in.  It might be hard to see in this picture but it didn't lay flat.  That annoyed me so for that reason, we nixed it.

I absolutely LOVED this dress on her.  In fact, this was one we found in Winston but they didn't have her size and we were specifically looking for it in Greensboro.  We were so happy to find it BUT - this dress did not have any padding in the top which meant she was going to have to wear a bra with it.  It dipped low in the back and we were worried that we wouldn't be able to find the right bra to wear with it and she definitely didn't want to go without one and she hates a strapless bra - and let's be honest, don't we all??  So, for that reason alone, I told here we should say no to this dress and that led us to her final choice. 

It's got a little bling and it fits her nicely and she looks so pretty in it!  And she's so excited about homecoming this weekend and according to the weather forecasters, it should be sunny and warm....although, they have been wrong before! :)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 37

It's Thursday so I thought I better bust out my thankful list!

1.  It's my birthday!  Happy 49 years of life to me!  I was emailing my oldest friend this morning and mentoned that I still feel 21 so I'm always shocked when I look in the mirror and wonder who the old, wrinkley, pudgey face string back at me is!

2. Dan's birthday was yesterday.  Very thankful for him and so glad that he's still around - especially considering that he is ancient at the rip old age of 52!  :)

3.  Speaking of Dan, he's been in Switzerland this week but he should be home tonight.  I'm praying that he gets home before all of the rain we are expecting arrives.

4.  Speaking of rain and Hurricane Florence, I am very thankful that she has been downgrading and is moving more south of us.  We should still get a lot of high winds and rain but not nearly as bad as they were predicting earlier in the week. I'm still praying though for a miracle and that she will stall and vanish.  That would be a miracle and if it does happen, you heard it here first! 

5.  Thankful for a little elf that held on to and delivered my birthday card from Dan.  It was waiting on me when I came down to make my coffee at oh dark thirty this morning.

6. I spent 4 hours yesterday with my girl shopping for a dress to wear to the homecoming dance.  Even though we were not successful (she tried on at least 25 dresses) but I still  enjoyed spending time with her and I'm hoping that the rain isn't so bad that we can try another mall in another town this weekend.   (I was hoping that shopping for a homecoming dress with absolutely no restrictions would be easier than shopping for a dress for a dance at a conservative Catholic middle school.  It was not.)

7.  I'm thankful that I still have a week until she needs the dress.  (This is me trying to be positive!)

8.  Mani/pedi's.  I'm always thankful for a fresh one and I treated myself to one this morning in honor of my birthday!

9. Schedule changes.  Even though he missed the cutoff by one day - I'm very thankful for an administration that let him make a much needed schedule change.  Whew!  Alllllllllll the praise hands!

10. In advance of Hurricane Florence, school is cancelled tomorrow!  And while I'm not excited about all the wind and rain, I am thankful the kids can sleep in and catch up on homework and maybe if it's not to bad a little dress shopping!

And that's just a few of the many things I'm thankful for this week.  What are you thankful for?

Monday, September 10, 2018

18 years? How about some queso and some tacos?

Dan and I celebrated our 18th Anniversary yesterday!  I honestly can't believe it's been 18 years.  It feels like we just got married but it also feels like we've always been married!

 Here's a couple of pictures from our big day...

And here's what we look like now...

Sarah insisted on taking these pictures before we went to dinner.  I'm glad she did because aren't we cute?  :)

We had a really nice dinner.  I spent a couple of days trying to figure out where I wanted to go and ultimately decided that I did not want anything fancy.  I just wanted to spend some time with Dan and I wanted to enjoy some good food.

So, we headed to The Porch and indulged in some of their delicious chirizo queso.  It was so good.  I also had a pinapple margarita because what else are you going to have with Tex-Mex?

Isn't it a good thing Sarah took pictures of us before we left?  Otherwise, this is all we would have!  :)

I got crispy pork belly tacos and they were so good.  In fact, I wish I had a plate of them right now!

After dinner we headed to The Quiet Pint for a quiet pint!  Ha!  And then we headed home like the wild party animals we are not.

It was a great evening and I'm looking forward to doing it again soon.  I'm always impressed with people that have monthly scheduled date nights dinners out without the kids.  We probably should go more regularly.  I might need to put that on my to-do list to make sure it happens!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 36

It's Thankful Thursday and here's a little list of just a few of the things I'm thankful for...

1.  Warm September weather.

2. Carolina blue skies with fluffy clouds.

3. Sugar-free mocha syrup at Starbucks.  (A couple of pumps and some heavy cream makes a delicious low carb coffee drink!)

4. The nice pop of red these gerber daisies bring to my kitchen.

5. The beautiful sunrises I see when I'm grabbing the morning newspaper for Dan.

6. Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel Seasoning on an avocado. Delicious!  Dan likes it on his eggs.

7. Bumping into a friend at swim practice and talking for the entire hour! 

8.  Wings!  My parents grilled a ton of them and we ate them on Labor Day.  We had some leftover and I enjoyed them for lunch today.  (This should count as two thankfuls because I love good leftovers for lunch!)

9. Spending a long weekend with my favorite people.

10. Looking forward to date night this weekend with Dan to celebrate our anniversary and birthdays!  He hates it when I call it date night so let me rephrase that - Looking forward to eating dinner and spending time alone with Dan to celebrate!

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Another weekend update....

On Friday, the kids had field day.  I know, most other schools do field day at the end of the year, but our school does it early.  And I actually like it.  It promotes bonding within the grades (the  grades compete against each other) and it's another day early in the year where the Freshman can spend more time getting to know each other.

Both Peter and Sarah had a great time and I enjoyed looking for updates and video on Facebook and Instagram.  And, they were both extra happy that they had early dismissal at 1:00!  Field day for the win! It was a great way to kick off the long weekend.

Friday night was a home football game so we all went to that.  I enjoyed catching up with some of the other parents and the kids had fun cheering on their team.  Plus, we got a victory so that made it even better! 

And I guess all that field day bonding really worked because Sarah spent much of the rest of the weekend explaining to me who asked who (whom?) to the Homecoming Dance and who said yes, who said no, and who retracted their invites and caused all sorts of upheaval.

This is such a change from last year, when I never got a word about anything out of Peter.  Now I'm getting a lot of information (about people who I don't know and I don't know the difference between  Emily, Erin. Evelyn, and Emma  yet so mom needs to get with the program!) and I can't keep up!

On Saturday, the boys mowed the yard and Sarah and I did laundry and other exciting things around the house and then we grilled out for dinner.  Dan and I also picked a bunch of Thai chili's from the garden and Dan proceeded to string them all up so we can dry them and then crush them up.

On Sunday, we went to Mass, lunch at my parent's house and then Dan and I went shopping. Dan has lost a ton of weight since the beginning of spring by following a low carb diet and he needed some new shorts.  We headed to Kohl's a got him several items from the clearance rack. We then headed to Trader Joe's and he got me the prettiest red gerbera  daisies!

On Monday, we headed to Greensboro and had lunch at Hops Burger Bar (excellent hamburgers!) and then visited the Bog Garden.  It's a park with 7 acres of wetlands with raised walking trails.  It was a really nice walk/hike and then we headed to Dairy Queen for some Blizzards!

My parents grilled a ton of wings and gave us a bunch and we devoured them for dinner and then just like that, it's Tuesday!   Sarah starts swimming tonight so she is very excited!  Her classes  are at a different Y (much closer to our house) and that has me excited!  I always used to dread the drive to the other location. 

And now it's time to start checking things off of the giant to-do list that I created last week.  Just getting everything down on paper felt good so I am hoping that actually crossing some items off will feel even better!