Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fa La La La La

Can I just say how incredibly hard it is to take a picture of a Christmas tree? Or is it just me? I took about 10 pictures in a row and all of them were blurry.

These are the ones that actually turned out:

 Me thinks I need a new camera.

As you can see, our color scheme is quite colorful. I bought these Christmas decorations before I even went house hunting because I bought them after Christmas when they were all on clearance. I got some amazing deals and I really do like all the colors. I'm generally a blue and green kind of girl, but these colors are really fun too.

As far as other decorations go, I have also added some ornaments to our bookshelf.

And I added this framed snowflake.

Sooo... not much decorating, but I'm enjoying what little we do have. I love having the tree lit up at night. If only I could take some better pictures of it. Does anyone have any tree photographing tips? =)

Monday, November 28, 2011


I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving! I'm still eating leftovers over here.

Me and my mom have cooked Thanksgiving dinner each year since my grandmother passed away. I love the time I get to spend in the kitchen with my mom cooking. We pick dishes we're going to make and form a menu from that.

My mom always handles the meat. =) Thanks Mom!

This year our menu was:

Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Carrots
Green Bean Casserole
Turnip Greens
Chicken Casserole
Vegetable Casserole
Red Velvet Cake

We pretty much make the same things every year (tradition!) and we have our system down pretty well now of what time we cook which things. We ended up finishing 1 minute before our scheduled time to eat.

It was so fun seeing everybody and hanging out while enjoying some tasty food (if I do say so myself). I also got to dance the night away with my baby cousin in Just Dance 3. I'm so thankful for my family and friends.

How was your Thanksgiving? =)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Command Central

After painting my laundry room/pantry and re-organizing the pantry area a few weeks ago, my next goal was to create a "command central" where I can hang coats/keys when I come home. My first step toward the command central was the cork board I created. Here's the full setup as it stands now.

Here's how it looks from the kitchen.

I added a hook for me to hang my aprons as well as key hooks and a coat hanger. Both the key hooks and the coat hanger came from Target (love).

I added a calendar for my forgetful self. I have things going on all the time and I always feel like I'm forgetting something so hopefully this will remedy that situation! I also added an adorable organizer (from Target) that I put my meal plan in.

I'm loving the new function added to our laundry room. =)

I'm also loving that I saw a double rainbow today! Check it out. And if you haven't seen this video yet, you are missing out.

What else have I accomplished? Well, I made my grandmother's red velvet cake for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. Here's the cake and part of the huge mess I made while making it.

I may have a messy kitchen, but at least I have a place to hang my purse and keys now, right? It's all about perspective.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Full Weekend

On Friday, McKenna and I left to attend a retreat with our church's youth group. I lead a group of girl's and every year the whole youth group goes to Chi Alpha which is where we spend time hearing speakers, worshiping, growing closer in small groups and hanging out. McKenna and I also went last year and had a wonderful time so we were looking forward to doing it again this year.

We arrived around 7:30 pm and everyone split up to figure out where they were going to stay for the weekend (an important choice of course). After that I got the first picture of the weekend.

Oh McKenna... If only you knew then how little sleep you would actually get over the weekend...

I'm not really sure about this next picture.

This was where I kept my stuff. I can't say where I slept because I didn't sleep too much (what do you expect on a trip with teenagers?).

The common area was pretty amazing. We had lots of space and places to sit and of course game consoles. 

We had a Kinect and played lots of Dance Central - love that game! I'm a sucker for pretty much any of the dance games.

How cool are the lights in this next picture? Love the industrial look.

I loved these shadow boxes with the shirts.

After our initial session we were all able to go and hang out in the huge gym. Yep the church had an amazing gym with a second floor track.

We also had root beer floats and as many chips as you could eat. So healthy, right? 

There was also a pool table, air hockey table, foosball and another thing that I couldn't figure out. The air hockey table was homemade - how cool is that?! I want a DIY air hockey table.

This was the stage for our sessions.  I loved that there was a disco ball hanging from the ceiling.

On Saturday McKenna and I had to leave for a while to go to Thanksgiving dinner with our mom's side of the family. My grandfather is the oldest of 8 children so the family is huge.

Yes, I wore converse to our family's Thanksgiving dinner. No, I was not the most under-dressed person there.

When we returned from the dinner, the other kids were having nachos. So even though I had already eaten, of course I ate some nachos! McKenna couldn't find a regular plate so we gave her a plate shaped like a stop sign so of course McKenna let her artistic side take over:

And in closing, take a look at this:

That lovely lady was just outside the main room.

McKenna and I had such a fun time and it was wonderful to share the weekend with a great group of kids.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pan-Fried Potatoes

I love mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, baked potatoes.... Pretty much any kind of potato, haha. But the other day I wanted to try something new - pan-fried potatoes. I had a bag of cute, little gold potatoes and cut them in half to pan-fry.

I heated up 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then tossed in the potatoes, letting them brown without stirring for about 10 minutes.

Then I just used tongs to flip them over and let them brown up some more.

After they were cooked through I added basil and a little salt and pepper.

I had these with carrots and green bean casserole (how Thanksgiving-y, right?)

I thoroughly enjoyed these potatoes (just like any other potato dish, but still). This weekend I'm heading off to a youth retreat so I'll get to spend some more time with my awesome sister McKenna, woo-hoo!

What are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kitchen Jewelry

This past weekend I finally got around to buying some hardware for the kitchen cabinets. I've lived in this house for a year and a half now, so why did it take me so long? I really don't know... Indecision? Laziness? Whatever the reason I have finally defeated it because there is now hardware on the cabinets! Woo-hoo!

Here is the kitchen before:

And now after all the handles were put on:

I bought both kinds of pulls from Target and they were pretty inexpensive, but exactly what I was looking for. Love that! 

Yes, I could have removed those receipts from the fridge for the pictures, but they are my "trophies" so I leave them so I can admire them when I walk by.

You can also see how under-decorated the kitchen is (under-decorated? Well, that's now a word in my dictionary). Actually, let's just call it minimalist - that sounds better. =)

I love how much more polished the kitchen feels just by adding one little touch.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fake Grilled Cheese

Growing up my sister and I spent a ton of time at our grandparent's house and my grandma would cook and bake for us all the time. I took it for granted as a kid, but once I got into college I really appreciated it. The university I went to required those of us who lived on campus to buy a meal plan that was pretty expensive and to use up all the money I had to eat in the cafeteria almost every day. After eating in there for about 2 weeks I was cafeteria'd-out.

Every weekend that I got a chance I would drive the hour away to my grandparent's house and spend the weekend with them. Of course during these weekends my grandma would cook for me and sometimes for a snack she would make me her "grilled cheese" sandwiches that we always had growing up.

As an ode to my nanny (what we all called her), I made fake grilled cheese this weekend. I call it fake grilled cheese because it's baked instead of grilled in a pan on the stove. They are so easy to make and cook pretty quickly.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and spread a little butter on one side of each piece of bread. Put your cheese on one piece of bread and then put another piece on top.

Bake for about 3 minutes and then flip. Cook for 2-3 minutes more and then you're done!

Both sides should be golden brown and you have a crispy, non-greasy "grilled" cheese sandwich.

One of my to-dos this weekend was to make soup. I made a double batch of the same tomato-basil soup we served at our Halloween party so that we'd have extra for throughout the week and we had some yesterday with our "grilled" cheese sandwiches.

Thanks grandma for another go-to recipe!

Another exciting thing that happened this weekend was that McKenna's soccer team placed first in their division today! I know in sports it's not all about winning, but that is quite an accomplishment and her team played really well and had great sportsmanship. =) I'm a proud sister.

Friday, November 11, 2011


In lieu of coherent sentences, here are some randoms (randoms = whatever thoughts are in my head).

* I might potentially be getting a new dishwasher soon. That sound you heard was me screaming from happiness as our current one is absolutely, utterly horrible.
* I wish there was an Ikea 5 minutes from my house.

* Even though it's chilly outside, I would still like some of these homemade ice cream sandwiches.

* I want to live in this house.

Meanwhile, I have lots of things I want to accomplish over the weekend:

- Make soup
- Put stuff on Craigslist
- Christmas Shopping
- Prepare for youth retreat next weekend
- Laundry, lots of laundry

How was that for a brain dump? The main thing I want to accomplish this weekend is to finish my Christmas shopping. I've talked a bit about my grandmother on here (my mom's mom) and her awesomeness. When I was growing up, she would always do her Christmas shopping in September and October and be finished by November. I try to do the same thing, but I'm usually still shopping in November (I certainly am this year), but I want to finish up this weekend.

Do you have a lot of to-do's for the weekend? Any Christmas shopping going down?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


This past weekend, for the first time I made homemade snickerdoodle cookies. I mean, who doesn't love snickerdoodles? I found the recipe on Betty Crocker's website and they did not disappoint.


1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pre-heat oven to 400ºF. 

Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, shortening and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. 

Now for the fun part! Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

I thought the cookies looked so cute waiting to go in the oven. =)

Bake 8 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

This recipe was so easy to follow and the cookies turned out to be really tasty. The recipe makes 4 dozen so there are plenty of cookies to go around. I brought some to work for my co-workers and I to snack on.

In other news I've been seeing a lot of this pretty face lately.

I love getting to spend time with my sweet little sister. I am feeling very blessed these days.