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!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The cutest little pumpkin!

We went to the pumpkin patch over the weekend and had such a great time together!  The weather was cool and absolutely beautiful.  The perfect day for a family trip!

Hannah really seemed to enjoy it all.  She loves being outside looking at the flowers and pumpkins on our front porch, so she enjoyed all the activities at the pumpkin patch, too!
Here are some pictures of our sweet one:

Petting the baby goats.
Daddy and Hannah on the hayride.

Driving the tractor.  Her PawPaw would be proud!


She loved it!

And I loved watching her take it all in!

I have to say, she's the cutest little "pumpkin" of them all, but maybe I'm a bit partial! :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A list that makes no sense.

My thoughts are jumbled today (probably shouldn't attempt to post, but I am).  I'm not really sure what I want to blog about, so I've decided to make a list.  I like lists...a lot.  They are sort of an obsession of mine.  It's true.  I find great joy in marking items off of a list, so sometimes I will make multiple lists of the same thing.  It's also a bit pathetic, I realize.  But I have things on my mind and questions that I want to ask (if anyone actually reads this blog).  Here goes:

1.  Starting to think about Christmas. 
I love the holidays.  I love giving gifts.  I even love receiving gifts (hey, I'm being honest).  BUT I hate how so much of the holiday activities actually take away from the true meaning of Christmas - the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And since we now have a little family, I really want to make an effort to start traditions that put the emphasis where it belongs. 

I found an article online about simplifying Christmas, and I have decided to put some of the tips into practice.  Examples - Celebrating Advent (I want to find a cute, small Christmas tree and buy/make ornaments that go along with the story of Jesus); Making homemade gifts (Shutterfly has awesome story books that go as great gifts, especially for grandparents or maybe a homemade recipe book for a cook in the family); Holiday gifts/Baking (for friends, neighbors, church family). 
Do you have any ideas, tips, favorite recipes, etc for making Christmas "simple" and focused on Christ?

2.  Christmas List.
Speaking of Christmas, my husband asked me last night what I wanted for Christmas.  I just kind of looked at him and said, "I don't know."  Usually there is something that I can at least say I'd like to have, and I'm sure if I really thought about it, I'd come up with something.  However, I don't just want to add "things" to my life unless they are things that I truly need or that add to the enjoyment of our family/home.  I have always LOVED clothes and shoes, but I realize that I'm pretty much the only person that gets enjoyment out of them, so I'm trying to think of things that can benefit others, too.  Oh wait, did someone say a piano?  Oh yes, I do want one of those. Very. Badly.  However, I don't see that happening any time soon. So, what about you? What is on your Christmas list this year?  Have any ideas for things I can add to mine? :)

3.  Decorating.
My husband and I had some professional pictures taken of Hannah and our family a few weeks after she was born.  We ordered a couple of 8x10's and promptly went to Michael's and bought frames.  10 weeks later, those beautiful pictures are in their beautiful frames and sitting on the beautiful floor. 


Yep, we stink at decorating our walls.  And I'm ashamed to admit I use to want to be an interior decorator.  HA!  That's a joke.  I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday to try to find something to go with the two frames. Who was I kidding?  I couldn't even do that.  I'm HOPING Tom and I can both find something together this weekend.  I'd hate to never get those pictures hung!  Any advice on how to make a collage of frames or other decorative items without making your walls look stupid or overdone?

4.  Recipe Funk.
I am in a recipe funk at the moment.  Anyone else ever experience that?  I think it is due to the weather being so warm (although it looks like its beginning to cool off).  I'm tired of summer dishes, and I'm ready to break out the fall recipes.  I'm also looking for NEW fall/winter recipes.  If you have any favorite websites, cookbooks, or recipes that you'd like to share, please do so!  I'm a sucker for new recipes.  Poor Tom.  He's always the guinea pig.  Never knows what to expect from our kitchen.  Thankfully, he's not a picky eater. :)

5.  Hobby.
I have decided I am in need of a hobby.  Besides reading.  I do love to do that.  And playing the piano.  That has always been a hobby, but since I don't have a piano at my home, it can't be my "go to" hobby.

I need something to do in my spare time (what little that is these days) to keep me going.  You know, when I need a break from the laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.  I'd love to make baking my hobby, but we'd be poor from all the ingredients I'd constantly be buying (not to mention also fat from all of those delicious baked goods).  So, I need a real hobby.  Does anyone have any hobbies that are relatively cheap and easy to do at home?  I'd love to have some ideas of things I could possibly try.

Well, there's a list for you.  We'll see if any of these items ever get "crossed off" or if they just remain out there for me to wander about. 

Hope you're having a great Thursday!  The weekend is almost here (and we have no plans but to just enjoy our family time)! Whoa!

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Jesus.

Hannah and I are in a sweet routine.  By "sweet" I mean because after she gets up and eats, I get my shower while she plays happily in her moses basket.  Then its my breakfast while she and I play with her piano or read books.  Usually an hour and a half to two hours after she has gotten up, she goes back down for a nap.  And then the "sweet" part happens:

I get my quiet time with Jesus.  
Just the two of us.  
Me and my Savior.  
It's SWEET!  

The sun is just starting to shine through the windows; the coffee is in my favorite mug; the candle is burning and filling the house with the smell of fall spices; and my favorite chair is calling my name.  Its the most important time of day to me, and I look forward to it from the moment I first wake. 

Yesterday was especially sweet.  And come to find out, my hubby had been praying for me during that exact moment at his small group Bible study.  Double Sweetness!

Why was it especially sweet?  Well, I'll tell you...
How often do you really think about Jesus's name?  I honestly admit, I don't do it near enough.  But yesterday, He got my attention.  I was so in awe of just His name and all that it means and stands for.  So in awe that I do something else that I don't do often enough.  I got down on my knees. Lliterally.  I worshiped him in the stillness of that moment.  I was humbled.  I was thankful.  I was restored.

The words to several different songs flowed through my mind. 

"Your name is a strong and mighty tower; a shelter like no other; let the nations sing it louder because nothing has the power to save but your name." JESUS.

"Give me strength for another day.  May you be glorified in all I do and say.  There is healing, comfort, joy and tender mercies in your name." JESUS.

"Your name is great and greatly to be praised.  You're my King and I draw near to you this morning.  You are my purest place." JESUS.

"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb." JESUS.

How sweet is His name!  I hope that you make time to recognize the power, the wander, the glory in His name.  And then don't just stop there, dive deeper into WHO He is and all that He has done for us. 

Mmm..Sweetness like no other.

This weekend:
My family (Dad, Mom, Brother Adam & his wife Ashton, Brother Marcus, Sister Allie & Sister Madison) are all coming to visit! Yay!  We haven't had them all here since Hannah was born (she will be 3 months on Saturday)!  We will miss you, Emily!
We're planning to celebrate Madison's 7th birthday together and possibly go to a pumpkin patch if the weather is nice.  I can't wait to just be together as a family!  Love them!

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend in Review

We had an enjoyable weekend here at home.  I've been trying to get Hannah on a better schedule, so after some hard work this weekend, I'm feeling much more refreshed (and encouraged)!  She is doing GREAT!
Here's how the rest of our weekend went:

Phone call to my mom.  Received advice & encouragement.  Love her.
Flowers from my hubby!  Love him, too!
Milkshakes for dinner.
Breakfast date at IHOP.
Football Games. (low-light of the weekend). Hogs & Cornhuskers lost. Boo!
Grilled out on our new Traeger Grill. YUM!
Movie #2.
More Yardwork.
Amazing Race & Kettle Corn Popcorn.
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies.  A new favorite. With Milk, of course.
And plenty of resting.  Hannah is sleeping through the night again!

So that's the weekend in review.  And today, Hannah and I have been playing and reading her books.  She took a long nap this morning while I went to Kohl's and found some steals (spent $43 on 11 items for a total savings of $165)!  We cleaned the house this afternoon and are now waiting for daddy to get home from work before we head to our small group. So it was a good weekend and a wonderful start to the new week.  

Hope everyone else had a great weekend/Monday!

She is stylin'!!!  Going shopping with mommy!

 Enjoying the beautiful weather.

Flowers from Tom!

Sweet Moments with Daddy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Special Visit & A Mohawk!

We had a special visit yesterday morning from my sweet Aunt Joanna.

She was in town for market and stopped by to see us.  She came bearing gifts, too!  She brought Hannah a cute little mirror with animals to hang in her crib, and she brought me a bracelet that Hannah can use as a teether. What a great idea! Here's a photo of it:

And the Mohawk? Well, Hannah's hairdo is beginning to look more and more like a stylish mohawk!  ha!  She has been losing some hair on the sides of her head, but still has a good amount right on top.  Here's a couple of pictures of the little cutie.

She is stylin'.

I tried a new recipe for dessert last night.  I found similar ones online, and thought I'd try it out since we had all of the ingredients.  I modified mine a bit, but it's super easy and quick to make.  It's a good fall cake AND its low in fat!  :)  Well, unless you add cream cheese frosting like I did.  :)

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
 Spice Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines because it was on sale for $1 at Kroger plus I had a coupon! Score)
1 can Pumpkin (I didn't have a whole can due to using some in another recipe, so I added some applesauce)
2 eggs (I used 2/3 cup of egg beaters - this will make the cake a bit denser, but it's still delish)
1 container Cream Cheese Frosting (again, I used Duncan Hines due to my coupon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 8x8's or one 13x9 pan.  Mix cake mix, pumpkin and eggs at medium speed until blended then mix on high for two minutes.  Spread into pans.  Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on pan size) or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack.  Then remove cake from pans to cool completely on the wire rack.

Mix cream cheese frosting and cinnamon (to taste).  Place cake on serving dish and frost (I used two 8x8 pans so I stacked the cakes and placed a thin layer of frosting in between them).  

Enjoy with a glass of milk or cup of coffee!

Let me know if you have any favorite fall recipes!  I'm always looking for new recipes to try.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Favorite Things

Who doesn't love enjoying their favorite things?  At our house, Tom and I aren't picky about many things.  If you asked us our "favorites" we might say we don't have them.  Well, not many.  But there are a few things that we are particularly enjoying as of late.  I thought I'd share them here.

1.  Hannah's sweet smile.  She always makes us smile.  Even at 5:30 in the morning when we're both a bit to groggy to totally enjoy the wake-up call.
2.  Seattle's Best Coffee. Yum.  Tom and I both really enjoy coffee.  Black. Nothing added.  We both enjoy our coffee in the morning.  Tom as he drives to work & me as I enjoy some breakfast and my quite time.  Speaking of breakfast...

3.  Sour Cream Coffee Cake.  I blogged about this yesterday, but yes, I like it so much I'm going to include it again today.  With the recipe (from Southern Living Christmas Cookbook).

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Cooking Spray for Bundt pan
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (toasted if you like)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
14 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz) package 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 (16 oz) container light or fat free sour cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. fat free or skim milk

Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Combine pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon, set aside.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Beat butter, cream cheese, and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Add egg, and beat until blended.  Add egg substitute and vanilla, beating until blended.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beating at low speed just until blended, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Beat on high 1 minute.
Pour one-third of batter mix into prepared pan. Sprinkle batter with half of pecan mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining one-third batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.  Run a knife around edges to loosen sides. Gently turn cake out onto a rack. Cool 1 hour. Transfer to a serving plate. 
Whisk together powdered sugar and milk.  Drizzle over cake. 
Yield: 10 to 12 servings

4.  Amazing Race.  We always enjoy vegging Sunday night and watching this fun show.  What makes the vegging complete?  Kettle Corn Popcorn.  Two bags, please.

5.  Morning Walks.  Ever since Hannah was about a week and a half, I have enjoyed morning walks towith her in her stroller (thanks to her Nana and PawPaw - My parents).  We usually go 3 to 4 times a week.  We both love it.  Especially when the mornings are cool.

6.  Hannah's book: Peek-a-boo! Love You I picked this little book up at Wal-Mart one day.  Hannah loves it.  She always smile when we pull it out to read.  And now that she is becoming more vocal, she tries to read it to us, too.  So cute.

7.  Parmesan Crusted Tilapia.  We've made this several times over the last few months and love it.  Simple but delicious.

8.  Our new Traeger Grill.  Tom's parents gave us our Christmas present over the weekend since they were here.  We tried it out Saturday night by grilling chicken pieces.  Yum-O!  Wowzers!  This stuff was good.  I don't normally cook or eat chicken with bones in it.  Maybe its the "lady" in me, but I've never been fond of picking meat off bones.  So I was a bit hesitant at first, but by the time I took the 3rd bite of chicken and realized how delicious it was...I was chewing that meat off the bones!  Probably not the prettiest site and definitely not the cleanest fingers after I finished, but totally worth it.

9.  Video Camera.  My parents got us a video camera for Christmas last year (even without knowing that we were expecting a baby).  It was perfect timing.  I love being able to record all of Hannah's milestones.  She's such a sweetie.

10.  Natural Peanut Butter.  Okay, so maybe this one is just mine. :)  My mother-in-law and I went to Whole Foods a couple of weekends ago and discovered that they have a machine that grinds peanuts into peanut butter for you.  Um, Hello!  If you haven't ever tried this, I think you should.  No oils, no preservatives, just good ole natural peanuts.  And I must say, I think I have eaten some of this peanut butter just about every day since then.  Yep!  (I tend to go through periods of time where I like a particular food and eat it a I'm guessing that's the REAL reason, but it is good).  I've enjoyed it on whole wheat buttermilk pancakes on Saturday, Banana and honey sandwiches for a quick lunch during the week, Kashi whole grain crackers or Apple slices for a snack.  Yummy stuff and good for you, too!  Its super filling and keeps you full for a long time!

Okay, there's our list of 10 favorites we are enjoying right now.

Hope everyone is having a great Tuesday!

PS - I made a new panini sandwich for our lunch Sunday. It was so good that I had another today so I thought I'd share in case anyone out there is a panini lover like me! :)  Here's the recipe:

Ashley's Turkey Pesto Panini
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
Mayo (made with olive oil)
Prepared Pesto
Dijon Mustard
Turkey slices
Gouda Cheese - sliced
Tomato slices
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Strips
Romaine lettuce (or spinach)

Spread mayo on one slice of bread.  Spread a small amount of prepared pesto on top of mayo.  Layer Roasted Bell Pepper, Cheese, Turkey, Tomato.  Spread Dijon Mustard on the other slice of bread and place on top of sandwich.  Place in a Panini maker or George Foreman Grill.  When sandwich is done (cheese slightly melted), Add the lettuce.  Cut in half and enjoy.  I like mine with either apple slices or when I want to really indulge - Lay's Baked Cheetos.  Yumminess!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Long time coming...

Well, this blog has been in the "works" for a long time.  I love reading the blogs of others (its like a guilty pleasure...maybe because I like to read the blogs while enjoying a sweet treat.).  I have wanted to create my own blog for a few months now, but with the birth of my daughter in July I have hardly found any time to just sit and actually get it done.  Today has proven to be different.  Although, to be honest, I should be taking a nap while my sweet girl is snoozing (she got up at 4:45 am).  I'll probably regret this later.  Oh well.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to be blogging about.  Probably just things that interest me, what I'm learning, what's happening in our lives, etc.  It may not be that interesting, but I think writing can be a sort of outlet for me (I've always enjoyed keeping a journal and cataloging all the details of my life).  So here goes nothin'...

Fall is finally here; however, I'm still waiting for that fall-like weather to arrive and stay for a while.  Here in Arkansas, we have set a record for the most days over 90 degrees ever!  EVER!  I like summer, but that heat has got to go.  We have had enough.  Besides,  I can't really enjoy my sweaters, fall cooking/baking, fall decorating, etc while the temperatures keep screaming "SUMMER!"  I'm so ready to be enjoying the crisp cool air that fall brings.  Not to mention all those yummy goodies that tend to come around this time of year.  Yum!  Like this beautiful Sour Cream Coffee Cake I made recently...

Tom and I hosted his parents (all the way from Idaho) at our home for the past two weekends.  They have spent the rest of their time at his brothers in Northwest Arkansas.  We loved having them here and finally introducing them to our little Hannah.  Its their first granddaughter, so she definitely received some lovin'.  I've always enjoyed being a "hostess" to friends and family, so I loved cooking, baking and cleaning (yes, even cleaning) in preparation for their visits.  I made some yummy stuff while they were here, but my favorite was a Sour Cream Coffee Cake (pictured above) out of the Southern Living Christmas Cookbook (I actually got the cookbook for Christmas last year from Tom's parents. love it).  Makes a scrumptious breakfast with a good cup of black coffee...but I'm not gonna lie, I also ate a second piece for a sweet dessert later in the day. :)  Tom and I love breakfast breads, muffins, coffee cakes, so we enjoyed the leftovers for a few days, too.

Hannah is now 2 1/2 months old.  She is growing more and more every day.  We're loving watching her develop her own sweet personality.  She always wakes up so happy.  She makes every day so worth it...even when she does wake me up way too early.
Tom is working hard at his job as a financial analyst.  He is so good to us, and I will always be thankful for the opportunity I have to stay home with Hannah because he works so hard. Thanks, babe!  You're the best!

Here are a few pictures to enjoy of our time with family over the past two weekends.  And in two more weekends, my family will be here visiting! Yeah!

Love that little girl's smile.  :)

And lastly -

I have decided that I want to learn how to save money by being a better shopper (coupons, sales, clearance items, etc).  I've never had to worry too much about money, but I want to be a good steward with what we have and spend wisely.  So if any of you have ideas, tips, websites, etc that you use, feel free to share!  I am a lover of shopping, so this may prove to be hard, but its something I want to do for our family.  Besides, it might be kinda fun for the "accountant" side of me.  :)

PS - I haven't looked into how to make my blog look pretty yet.  Not a lot of time for that, but I would appreciate any help!