Monday, December 20, 2010

An Early Christmas Present!!!

I received an early Christmas present from Tom last night.  

A piano ornament...

And then he said, "The real one is being delivered tomorrow!"
AHHH!!!!  I was speechless, ecstatic, overwhelmed and so VERY thankful!!!
My husband is so good to me.  He knows that I love the piano and have really missed having one to play.  So, he purchased one that we had viewed at a piano store here in Little Rock.  He bought it back before Thanksgiving.  Apparently, most of my family knew that he had gotten it for me.  I had NO clue!  I was totally surprised!!!!  And I'm still in a little bit of shock even though it is sitting right in front of me!! It is absolutely beautiful!  I love it and I can't wait to make music on it for many, MANY years to come!

Here it is.  I'd say she is a real beauty! :)

Please don't ask what I got him.  It doesn't even begin to come close to something as wonderful as a piano! Not that we are in a comparison game or anything, but really, how do I beat this? ha!

I will say that the one gift I let him open early last night was a pair of black dress shoes.  Um, yes, that's right. 


He was excited.  After all, He did need them badly.

I will always remember this Christmas...

The year Tom got me a beautiful piano...and I gave him a pair of dress shoes.  ha!
(at least I have a few more gifts for him under the tree that he might enjoy...)

Thank you, Tom Stevens, for my beautiful piano!  I love it so much, but I love you so much MORE!  You are the best!!!

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Things in the Stevens' household are busy, busy, busy right now.  Ever since we got home from Thanksgiving in Mena, I feel like it has been nonstop busyness.

~ Doctor Appointments
~ Dentist Appointments
~ Meetings for Work
~ Continuing Education Classes
~ Shopping for last minute gifts
~ Christmas Card-Making
~ and Baking, Baking, Baking...

But I am NOT complaining.  I'm enjoying all the activities with my sweet little family.  And Hannah has been so good!  I can't believe she will be FIVE months old on the 23rd.  People are always telling me to enjoy every minute because before I know it she will be "leaving me."  I hate that.  Can't she just stay this way forever and always be mommy and daddy's little girl?  Okay, I guess not.  Thankfully, I do have this time with her and can see her grow and change with each new day.

I realized just how blessed I am to be able to stay home with her last week...
I dropped Hannah off at my aunt's house for a few hours so I could go to a meeting/class at my former office.  I cried sobbed the whole way there.  Seriously!  It was so hard to leave my little girl even though I totally trust my aunt.  The whole experience made me appreciate Tom and what he does for us all the more!!!  I have a wonderful the best husband in the world! :)

This past weekend, my brother-in-law, Tim, and his fiance, Michelle, came to visit from Bentonville. We celebrated our Christmas together with a yummy lunch (my first Christmas dinner to make/bake all by myself.  turned out pretty well, too) and an exchange of gifts.  We really enjoyed spending time with them and are so thankful they live close!

And here are a few pictures...
I'm going to make another "special" post in just a moment with something exciting!!! :)

She found Daddy's wallet!  :)

We've made these cinnamon rolls twice (with the third time coming up this week). They are so good!  You can find the recipe at the Pioneer Woman's Website.

I love her so much!

She was intrigued by the ripping of wrapping paper.

But even more into the gift inside!

Michelle & Tim - they are getting married in April! YEAH!

A Happy Girl!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stevens Family Christmas Card

With Love Chartreuse Christmas Card
Make a statement with Shutterfly Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

4 Months Old!

Hannah Claire turned 4 months old on November 23!  I can't believe she is already that old!  Time has gone by so fast.  She had her checkup this past Tuesday.  She now weighs 15 lbs 1 oz and is 23 3/4 inches long.  The doctor said she is doing great and growing so well.  Yeah!

She is so much fun these days.  I'm really, really loving spending every day with her.  She laughs, coos, smiles and plays all the time.  I love watching her grow and change.  I do miss her newborn days, but I am also really enjoying this stage. 

She loves her Jumperoo from Grandpa & Grandma Stevens!

Aunt Emily stopped in for a visit on her way home from college.  

With her Great Gee Gee on Thanksgiving Day.

Dad carving the turkey at Nana & Gee Gee's on Thanksgiving.

The Onlookers...beginning to drool! ha!

Another favorite gift from Grandpa & Grandma Stevens.  She loves to chew on the feet.

Nana & her girls. (L to R: Ashton, Nana, Allie, Me, Emily, Hannah, & Madison)

Thanksgiving with Hannah's Great Grandparents (Nana & Gee Gee).

And all the guys being goofy (L to R: Tom, My Dad, Adam, Marcus, & Gee Gee)

We had a great thanksgiving weekend in Mena with my family. 
We surprised my family by showing up on Wednesday night.   My mom screamed when she saw us.  She was so excited! :)  We spent Thanksgiving Day at my Dad's parents' house.  We enjoyed lots of yummy food and some great laughs together. 

That night we went to my Uncle Lamar and Aunt Becky's house to visit with my mom's side of the family.  We had Thanksgiving dinner with that side of the family on Saturday, too.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures after Thanksgiving Day.  :( 

It was a great weekend to just spend laughing, playing games, talking, playing with Hannah, and making/eating lots of food.  We are so blessed to have such great families.  We just wish we didn't live so far away from Tom's family.  We look forward to seeing all of them again in April when Tom's brother gets married!  yeah!

I can't believe December is here!  Christmas is just around the corner.  I'm looking forward to more family time and the celebration of the birth of our precious Savior!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some Yummy Recipes & a Shopping Trip

Helping Mommy cook.  She loves to watch!

Sleepy Girl.

Well, I don't have much to blog about this week, so I thought I'd share a couple of yummy recipes that we enjoyed the last few days.  Unfortunately for you, I didn't get any pictures.  So sorry.  I have to get better at that.

Baked Potato Soup (Semi-low fat, too)!
4-5 Potatoes, baked, peeled, and cubed
1/2 cup Flour
4 cups Skim Milk
1 cup Half-and-Half
1 cup Broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Dash of garlic powder
1 cup Reduced-Fat or Fat-Free Sour Cream
1/2 cup Green Onions, chopped
4-6 Bacon Slices, cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pierce potatoes and bake for 45 minutes to one hour or until tender.  Let cool.  Peel potatoes and cube.
Place flour in soup pot; gradually add milk stirring with wire whisk.  Add half-and-half and broth.  Cook over medium heat until thick and bubble (about 8 minutes).
Add potatoes and use a potato masher to break up the cubes (depending on how chunky you like your soup).  Add 3/4 cup of cheese, salt, pepper, and dash of garlic powder.
Remove from heat.  Stir in sour cream, green onions, and bacon.  Cook over low heat for 10 minutes.  Do not boil.

Makes 6-8 servings.

I also added chopped, cooked broccoli to get another veggie in there.  YUM!

I served this soup with cheese stuffed croissants.  It made a delicious meal on a cold, rainy night.


Pumpkin Cake (Semi-Low Fat, too)!
1 Tbsp. Flour
3/4 cup Egg Substitute
1/3 cup Sugar (or less)
1/3 cup Applesauce (unsweetened)
1 can Pumpkin
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (I added a little more)
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon (or more)
1 package Yellow Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1/3+ cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Cream Cheese Frosting, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 or a bundt pan.  Dust pan with 1 Tbsp of Flour.
Place egg substitute, sugar, applesauce and pumpkin in a large bowl.  Beat on high for one minute.  Add spices and cake mix gradually.  Beat on high for two minutes.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack for 10-20 minutes.  If using a bundt pan, remove from cake pan and cool on wire rack.  Let cake cool completely before frosting.

This was a delicious cake after the Baked Potato Soup.  It's got no oil, which is a huge plus, but is still quite moist due to the pumpkin!  I loved the addition of chocolate chips (add as little or as much as you like).  Tom said this cake had a lot of flavors all packed into one.  I guess it's kinda true - pumpkin, cinnamon, chocolate, cream cheese, etc.  Just a few of my favorite things!  ha! :)


Italian Chicken Sandwiches - I got this recipe from a cookbook of a family that I grew up going to church with - The Grosse Family Heirlooms Cookbook.  There are so many great cooks in that family! :)

1 package "Hoagie" Buns
2 Tbsp. Oil
3 Chicken Breasts, thinly sliced
1 package Italian Salad Dressing Mix (dry)
1 small Onion, sliced thin
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, sliced thin
2-4 Bacon Slices, cooked (optional)
Mozzarella Cheese (sliced or shredded)

Slice chicken breasts and put in small bowl.  Pour dry dressing mix over chicken and stir to coat.  Allow to sit for a few minutes as you prepare other ingredients.  In 2 Tbsp. of oil cook seasoned chicken until no longer pink.  Add onions and green peppers. Saute until onions begin to turn clear and peppers are soft but not wilted.  Remove from heat.  Toast or grill hoagie rolls (butter the insides and broil for a minute or until toasted).  Pile on the chicken mixture, bacon and cheese.  Return to oven and broil until cheese is melted.
Makes 4-6 sandwiches depending on size of bread.

These are YUMMY!  They remind me of Charley's Subs.  I first experienced this restaurant on the Branson Landing with some of my best friends in college.  We loved that place.

We like these sandwiches served with some Baked Lay's Chips and either a fruit salad or a cucumber and tomato salad.  Trust me, you will LOVE these tasty, toasty easy-to-make sandwiches!


Tonight we're either going to have a Spinach & Cheese Quiche with a Banana & Strawberry Salad and fresh muffins/biscuits or Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts, Broccoli, and Crescents. 


Now for my shopping trip.  I went to Walgreen's this morning.  I spent $26.88 on $70 worth of items.  That's a $43 savings.  I was pretty proud of myself.  I didn't get to spend as much time on my trip as I would have liked (I had a sleepy baby in my cart), but I was pleased with my results.  Here's what I got:

2 DiGiorno Supreme Pizzas
4 bags of Holiday Style M&M's - regular $3.50 each.  I got for $1 a piece.
1 box of Ritz Munchables Pretzel Crackers
1 box of Reduced Fat Wheat Thins
1 jar of Skippy Peanut Butter
1 25-count Freezer Ziplock bags
1 120-count Sandwich Ziplock bags
1 Aluminum Foil
1 Colgate Toothpaste - I got for free with my coupon.
1 Pantene Pro-V Shampoo
1 Pantene Pro-V Conditioner
1 Garnier Fructis Shampoo
2 Jars of Comet Disinfecting Cleaner
1 bottle of Joy Dish Soap

Pretty good deal!  My husband was proud...he said I was "awesome."  :)


And finally, a prayer request:

I am currently working with my former employer on a proposal for a part time bookkeeping and light tax preparation job.  The great thing about this opportunity is that I can work FROM HOME!  I also can determine the amount of hours that I think I want to work.  I am thrilled with this possible situation.  Please pray for everything to work out to benefit both parties.  I do not want to take on too much work, but I do believe that this opportunity would help to keep my mind sharp and occupied this winter.  I am so thankful for such a great company that sees potential in me and in my work ethic!  I'm hoping to get something started by the beginning of the year.  I'll keep you updated, but please pray that I will trust God with whatever the outcome of the situation.  Thanks!

Hope you all have a great weekend! Thanksgiving is almost here!  I'm so excited for some family time!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shutterfly Christmas Cards

I LOVE sending and receiving Christmas cards, but my favorites have got to be the ones designed by Shutterfly.  I've used their website in the past for cards and wall calendars.  I have always been pleased with the selection, price, and quality of their products.  So if you are looking for a website to pick your own Christmas cards, I'd suggest this one!  Plus, if you have a blog (and you blog about the website and its products), you can receive 50 free prints!  WHOA!  Can you guess why I might be doing this? :)

Here are a few of the Christmas card designs that I like right now.  I'm planning to pick one after we take some family pictures at Thanksgiving. 

Option 1
Option 2
Option 3
Option 4

Here is a link to the Wall Calendars.
I've made these before and love them!  I've also made the photo books for family members!  I've done two for my mom of our past family vacations, and I've done some for grandparents from our wedding.  They always get rave reviews from anyone who sees them!

Like I said, I love sending and receiving Christmas cards!  So if you are making any this year, I'd love to get one of your family! :)  I like to display them in our home through the end of the year.  I use them as a reminder to pray for the families, too!

Happy Card-making! :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A little bit of cinnamon and a new toy!

So, I LOVE cinnamon.  Seriously.  It's just such a great spice.  You can add it to so many things and enjoy its never-ending yumminess! My favorites are definitely "sweet" baked goods (see previous posts for recipes I have made recently with cinnamon). 

This past weekend, my husband allowed me to switch up our typical whole wheat buttermilk pancakes by adding some cinnamon to them.  However, I didn't just add a teaspoon to the batter.  Oh no, I made Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes!  They were yummy, but a tad bit sweet (even for me).  I ended up adding a bit of peanut butter on top of my pancakes to cut down on the overload of sugar.  Tom loved them though! :)

Here's the recipe for the cinnamon swirl:

1 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1-2 Tbsp. Milk (may need to add more to thin the mixture)
 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Flour

 Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Transfer to a small ziploc bag with a slit in the corner.  Right after you spread your pancake batter on the griddle, swirl some cinnamon mixture into each.  Then just cook your pancakes like normal.  And tada, you'll get this:
Just a little tip - I'd go easy on the syrup you add to your pancakes, and I might even add a Tbsp. or two of peanut butter if you don't want to have a sugar attack later in the morning!  However, if you are like my husband, you will slather on that syrup and enjoy your pancakes with a smile! :)

I got a new toy this weekend!  

We finally bought a new vacuum!!!  We've needed one for a while, but I wanted to be sure we got the best we could find at a decent price.  I was pretty sure I had decided on a Shark Navigator.  They retail for around $160.  We decided to wait until November to make the purchase since we had spent a pretty penny on some landscaping in October. 

Good thing we decided to wait because just a week or so ago I received a 20% off coupon for Bed, Bath and Beyond.  SWEET!  So, we headed there on Saturday morning and purchased a pretty purple Shark Navigator.  Needless to say, I'm in love with it!  I've already vacuumed every day since we got it! :)  The amount of dirt this thing picks up is amazing (and a bit disgusting).  So, if you are looking for a new vacuum any time soon, I highly recommend this one! 

Oh, I have another recipe for you!  Almost forgot! :)

Monday nights we have our small group class, and this week it was our turn to host.  I decided to make Slow-Cooked BBQ Pork Sandwiches.  It was a first for me, and it turned out great! 

Kroger was having a meat sale, so I got 8.5 lbs of pork shoulder for a little over $8!!!  A $23 savings!  And all the Wonder Bread buns were on sale for $1 per 8 pack. (This was a sweet little deal since our "small" group has about 24 people at any given time).  Anyway, here's the recipe (obviously it makes a lot, but you can do the same with less meat and less of all the other ingredients, but the leftovers are great):

8 lbs. of Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt.  (I used 8.5 lbs of Bone-in because that's what the store had).
2 Medium Onions, Chopped
2+ Cans of Beef Broth
2-3 Bottles of BBQ Sauce
24 Hamburger Buns

Spray a 6 quart Slow Cooker and place chopped onions in first.  After removing the fat from the pork, cut into thirds (or however you need to in order to fit it in the slow cooker).  Add enough Beef Broth to cover.  Simmer on low for 8 to 10 hours or until pork is tender.  Take pork out and shred with two forks.  Drain liquid from the slow cooker.  Place pork back into slow cooker and add BBQ sauce.  I then put the pork in the fridge over night, but you could serve after you rewarm the pork. 
The next day, I pulled the pork out of the fridge and cooked on low for another couple of hours.  Then an hour before the group meeting, I put the pork in a 13x9 and baked in the oven (mixing it occasionally) for 1 hour.  This browned the meat up a bit and made it a little more smokey.  Serve on buns with extra BBQ sauce. 

It was a huge hit, and Tom and I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch AND dinner last night! :)

Hope you're having a GREAT Wednesday!