Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Monday: Back and Better Than Ever...Or Something Like That

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope y'all had as beautiful of a day today and yesterday as we did -- it sure has made me even more ready for spring!

Here is our menu for the week:

Monday: Panko Chicken with mozzarella melted on top, served on fettuccine noodles with marinara -- the lazy (wo)man's Chicken Parmesan. It is pretty darn quick and really delicious! I will say, however, that my hands and feet already feel a bit swollen, and I think it is a combination of how hot it got in my house today (the afternoon sun really can heat this place up which is a good thing in the winter but not so great when it is warm outside) and the high amount of sodium in our dinner tonight. My bad.

Tuesday: These frozen breaded chicken things stuffed with brie and apples (I think -- is this right, Mags -- I didn't get them yet!) that Margaret keeps raving over that you can get at Publix. My week is really crazy and I am getting home late most nights this week, so we are doing quick and easy. The kids will probably eat hot dogs.

Wednesday: Baked Chicken with Dijon and Lime and a steamed veggie.

Thursday: Crock-pot BBQ*

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: I will be at a wedding, Brad will be at a conference, the kids will be with their YaYa.

Sunday: We will probably go to evening church, so we will grab something on the way home.

*Crock-pot BBQ
*I got this recipe from a girl name Carter in a recipe exchange. I have tried it before, and it is really good. (Have you ever noticed that I say "really good" and "really delicious" a lot on Menu Monday -- I guess that is better than saying that what I cook is super disgusting...)

1 3-4 lb pork loin
salt and pepper
2T sugar
2 cups cider vinegar

Salt and pepper all sides of the pork loin, and place in crock-pot. Sprinkle with sugar and pour vinegar on top. Cover with lid and cook on low for 10 hours. Do not remove lid for 10 hours! After 10 hours have passed, scrape off layer of fat from top, if any. Shred meat. Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce (although we like it as is) on buns.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


My oldest, my firstborn, my sweet Ty turned eight today.

Eight years ago today, Brad and I looked like babies, and there we were having a baby. Tyler came into our world at 2:02 pm on February 27, 2003, weighing in at 9 lbs -- and we thought she was just perfect. We acted like we knew what we were doing, but we had no clue. And here we are, eight years later, still learning as we go.

Lucky for us we got a very easy-going, sweet baby who has turned into an easy-going, sweet child. I could not ask for a better daughter (although I lucked out with her sister, too)! Happy Birthday to my sweet T-Bird!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Three-Year-Old Prayers

Every morning on the way to school the kids and I say a prayer for our day. I have started letting the kids add in their own prayers to my usual one, and I love to hear what they have to say. Gibson can come up with some really wacky things to add to our prayers, but I love to hear what he is going to pray for next!

For instance, the other morning he prayed "Lord, please help Aunt Caroline to get bigger."

Now, Aunt Caroline is my Aunt Caroline, and I am pretty sure she has done all the getting big she is going to do as far as height -- so that means the only getting big that she can do is growing out. I am not too sure she would really want the Lord to help her with that! (However, when I texted her to tell her about Gibson's prayer, she did tell me that she was going to run right out and get a milkshake!)

This morning Gibson prayed "God, please help Jesus to behave!"

I guess it is a father's job to keep his son in line, but I am sure this Father and Son don't qualify. Maybe he should have thought about getting God to help him behave!!

The other morning Gibson told me that he had had a bad dream that he had forgotten to pray for his GranGran (my grandfather) and the rest of his family, so he woke up in the middle of the night to say his prayers. I thought that was the sweetest thing I had ever heard!

He might not say prayers that make the most sense, but I am thankful that Gibson is learning at such a young age to have a relationship with the Lord and to go to Him in prayer. Heck, half of the stuff that Gibson says to me doesn't make any sense, so I wouldn't expect him to make complete sense in his prayer life yet -- but God knows what is in his heart, and that is all that matters.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Twins Turn Two!

First, I am really doing great on this whole picture thing on the old blog this week, don't you think?!?!?!

Second, my niece and nephew, Harper and Taylor, turned two last week, and we celebrated with a little party on Saturday. Hunter lucked out with some beautiful weather for the twins' party. She put out all of our kids' Power Wheels (we have about a used car lot full), some balls, bubbles, and two of our tractors for the kids to climb on. Everyone had a ball!

Tyler got an early birthday present from her Godmother during the party...

The Birthday Boy really enjoyed his cupcake (which the kids got into before we sang Happy Birthday) and his sunglasses -- he wore them the entire party:

The pretty Birthday Girl. She always looks at me like she has never seen me before in her life:

Whitt really wants his very own John Deere Power Wheels, okay, Mags?

Because my sister lacks in the girliness department, I always try to get Harper something very girly for each holiday. This birthday it was a tutu and some bows:

After everyone left, Sanders used the opportunity to get in some tickle time with Granddaddy -- or really, she got him to tickle her. I always hated to be held down and tickled (which is my dad's specialty), but she begs for it:

And then he did another one of his tricks -- he stuck his dirty sock in Sanders' face. I'm just glad it's my kids getting it now and not me -- although he will hold me down and torture me every once in a while. It's all fun and games around here:

I can't believe that the twins are two already, and this weekend we will be celebrating Tyler's eighth birthday -- where has the time gone?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Home Building: Pictures of Progress

I had a request to show y'all some pictures of how the house is going, but first let me warn you: I do not have a wide angle lens, and so all of my pictures are only snippets of the big picture. In fact, I have hesitated to put the pictures up here before now because it is really hard to tell what you are seeing.

Our house is down a long, wooded driveway, and once you get to the end, there is a small clearing where the house sits. Brad and I differ in opinion about how big the clearing should be -- he wants more of a wooded site, and I want more of a yard. So far he is winning because he is the one taking out trees. But, that is part of the reason that I can't get a really good picture -- I can't get back far enough to get the whole house in a shot (and I don't have the right lens).


Beginning of January, 2011:

They dug the trenches for the footers (I am not even sure if I am using proper terminology -- I am just learning all this house-building lingo!):

January 21, 2011:

Duke came out with us to see what was happening out in the woods:

They poured the concrete! As you can see, they also have rebar sticking up all over the place -- there is usually rebar in foundation, I believe, but we have a ton of rebar. Our foundation is not going anywhere, thanks to our building inspectors...

February 21, 2011:

They have been working on the brick part of our foundation for a while now, but I finally got around to taking pictures yesterday. This is looking at the kids "wing" from the courtyard/carport side of the house. Our house is a backward shaped L so this would be on the inside of the L:

This is taken standing in the same spot, but looking more towards the main part of the house. This view is toward the kids' den, dining room, and guest room:

This is taken just a little farther than the last picture -- more towards the dining room, guest room, and living room:

That forklift is in my kitchen. Tyler is standing in front of the little back stoop, and directly behind that will be the laundry room. This picture is still taken from the carport/courtyard side:

This is the view of the kitchen from the other side of the house, the yard side (the long side of the L). You can sort of tell from the picture, but that concrete wall is the foundation for what is going to be a curve in our kitchen wall. It will be glass and will lead out to the back porch. It is one of my favorite parts of the house:

This is a view of the master bedroom & bath (that little bump-out on the far left is my closet!!!!) from the carport/courtyard side:

And this is a too-close view of my bedroom from the yard side -- and of course, two little posing girls:

I couldn't get any pictures from the viewpoint of the front of the house yesterday because I would have been looking directly into the sun.

So, that is where we stand right now. I feel like all of the cold, rainy weather we have had this winter has really held us back, but these warmer days should hopefully really get the ball rolling.

I will also make 2 observations about the brick wall foundation:

1. I would not have chosen a solid brick wall. (I tried to find a picture of something that was more along the lines of what I had in mind, but I couldn't find anything tonight -- but I didn't look all that hard.) We didn't have much choice in the foundation; we wanted brick covering the concrete pillars and then something like lattice brickwork in between, but that was a no-go with our building inspector. He said that would let in too much moisture -- which is interesting because I am from the coast and everyone has foundations with some sort of board or lattice in between the brick or stucco pillars. So, we get what we get. I am just hoping it won't stand out quite so much when it's all said and done.

2. I wanted more of a white-washed brick, but I was told the one that I chose was "too white" and we would need a special mortar that would, of course, cost more. So, Brad picked this one. We will see what it looks like later on and may ending up doing some whitewash on it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Monday's On A Break

I am taking a little break from Menu Monday this week because the only new thing that I am cooking is Oven Chicken Risotto. I actually cooked that tonight, and it was really, really good. I had made it a long time ago, when it was actually in Southern Living, and then I promptly forgot about it until Margaret mentioned it.

But, I will share with you my accidental recipe for chocolate-covered strawberries. This is not scientific -- no specific amounts of anything -- but I have to say that my strawberries turned out delicious. And it was mostly thanks to my sister, Hunter.

Anyway, I started with some pretty strawberries. In fact, I was pretty impressed that they looked that good this early. I washed them and laid them out on paper towels to dry.

I looked up some recipes on and tried to find the easiest one I could for making chocolate-covered strawberries. The one I found said to melt chocolate chips according to the package directions and dip in the strawberries.

I can totally do that!

So I got some chocolate chips...

And I started melting away according to package directions. However, my chocolate chips were semi-sweet (these were in the pantry), and I started to wonder if they would be too bitter on the strawberries. So, once the chocolate was nice and melted, I added a little bit of vanilla.

And the chocolate immediately hardened.

I started to panic, so I called my sister to see if she knew what to do. She told me to add milk, and then she told me about a trick that she learned watching Barefoot Contessa -- adding coffee grounds to chocolate will make the chocolate flavor really pop.

I took Hunter's advice on both counts, and I ended up with creamy, delicious melted chocolate:

That was when the real fun started because I could start dipping -- and tasting! I thought I had wax paper but didn't, so I had to make do with aluminum foil and some of my chocolate stuck, but the strawberries otherwise turned out beautifully:

And the best part is that they tasted fabulous! This is a really easy dessert, and they look great -- I think I am going to make them again for Tyler's birthday tea this weekend.

The only drawback was that I made these on Valentines Day, and my Valentine doesn't like strawberries (there is something wrong with him), so I pretty much ate all of the strawberries myself. Just call me Miss Piggy...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Noodle Wars

Friday was a beautiful day, and my kids were out of school for Winter Break (but it felt more like Spring Break -- it was 79!), so we stopped by to play with our besties, Grayson, Emma Claire, and Whitt. What ensued was a noodle war in their backyard, so Margaret and I popped some Bud Limes at 2 pm (don't judge -- it was vacation) and took pictures. It was a great day!

Everybody stop for a photo op!

But just for a second...

Pretty girls always love to take time out to pose:

...even if it's just to make a silly face!

Don't get in Tyler's way...
The great news is after beating each other in the yard all afternoon the kids were worn out. Now we just can't wait to do it again -- hurry up spring!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Life On A Budget

I know I have mentioned once or a million times that we are building a house.

Or, I say we are building a house. Mostly, we just have a big dirt pile.

Okay, okay. We are actually working on foundation right now. But, oh. my. gosh. It is definitely not going fast enough for my impatient self. Thankfully the rain has held off for a couple of days, so at least they have been able to be out there working some.

But back to my point...

Because we are building a house, Brad has me on a very strict budget. I am the one who takes care of the finances in our house. I pay the bills, I handle the money, I deposit the paychecks. So, up until now, I have pretty much had free reign of the money, too. I have been able to, you know, sneak in a couple more purchases than I would if, say, Brad were looking at the finances all the time. Shame on me, maybe, but it's true.

And now Brad has all this interest in how much money we have and how much money we are saving. And, yes, I know that he should -- and I should, too. And I do. But living on a budget is not the most fun. Especially because there isn't that much room in our budget for new clothes.

All of the trunk shows that I love to frequent have come and gone without me this year. I have to avert my eyes when I walk by all of the stores that I love. I have to actually just look when I do my internet shopping.

However, luckily for me, I got a gift certificate to J.Crew for Christmas, so I got to pick out some cute new stuff recently. I got their minnie pants, and after a lot of mailing back and forth, I finally found a good fit (has anyone else tried these and had this problem?):

I also got a cute black and off-white striped boatneck sweater that I can't find a picture of online, so they must already be sold out -- very popular choice, I guess!

Then, I was recently reading a new-to-me blog, Glamorous Newlywed, and I was looking at one of her What To Wear posts and found these jeans from American Eagle (although imagine in a darker wash and a little less distressed -- those must also be sold out):

I thought these were really cute, and even though we are on a strict budget, I thought I could swing them since they were on sale. (Actually I ordered a couple of pairs since I had never ordered anything from American Eagle before and didn't know how their sizes ran -- and that way I spent enough to get free shipping (I will be sending some back)! So, see, I am saving money!!)

Anyway, I love my new jeans. I wore them to work the other day, and I knew I would get a comment about them. I was just waiting...

Sure enough, my dad said "Christie! Your pants have holes in them! They aren't going to rip anymore are they? I would hate for you to be naked!" And then when he realized that I actually liked my jeans distressed like that he said "Please tell me that you didn't buy your pants to look like that!"

Have I ever mentioned that my dad is the king of fashion?

So, the moral of this long, all-over-the-place story is that this whole budget thing is taking some getting used to for me. But I'm learning -- kicking and screaming. In case you're counting, that's two lessons that this whole home building thing is teaching me -- kicking and screaming -- patience and budgeting.

I wonder what else I will learn?
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