About Me

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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Round-Up

I confess - I've needed to blog for about 2 months now & I haven't touched the thing. Such a failure on my part, especially when the last thing I posted was about how I was going to post more often. Talk about irony. Tomorrow starts a new year, so maybe among other things I'll actually follow through & post a little more often than I have this year. I have had a wonderful holiday season & I hope you have also! I thought I'd post a few pictures from my Thanksgiving & Christmas in the lovely state of Virginia...so, here we go!

I was able to spend my Thanksgiving holidays with my family in Virginia; I was there from early Wednesday morning until late Sunday evening - 5 great days! It is strange how as a child, you take for granted that your family is with you daily (sometimes as a teenager you wish they would just disappear) but as you get older & end up spread out, you realize that times like Thanksgiving & Christmas, when your family is all together...you realize how precious those moments really are. But enough sappiness for now - we had a great time cooking, watching movies, exploring Front Royal & the surrounding areas (new territory for me), visiting with old friends, eating plenty of good food & do a monument dash on my last afternoon in DC. I discovered that I am seriously missing out on some awesome things that they have in VA that MS just hasn't quite gotten to - The Alamo Drafthouse is basically the best place to see a movie, ever. The Sharp Shopper is just a grocery store, but it has some pretty neat things & great deal; it's not Wegmans...but it is pretty great. The Puppy Cottage is awesome & I wanted to adopt every dog in the store. They were having a sale, $100 off any dog...I still don't understand why we couldn't have bought that little dog...

I was pretty bummed to have to leave VA after those 5 great days, but knowing I'd be back in less than a month made it a little easier. So here are just a couple moments from my Thanksgiving jaunt to VA!

Home Sweet Home - the stoop of 105 Spoon Square

My lovely bedroom, my Mom did such an awesome job decorating it.

Lindsey & I on the back lawn of Mount Vernon - the Potomac in the background & DC just around the river bend.

A "Charlie Brown" tree lot in Front Royal. I was in love.

Monument Dash Part 1: Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, WWII Memorial & MLK Jr. Memorial

Monument Dash Part 2: Washington Monument, Iwo Jima, Lincoln Memorial & Korean War Memorial

Monument Dash Part 3: Pacific War Veterans Memorial, Air Force Memorial, Pentagon Memorial & FDR Memorial

I came home for about three and a half weeks, which were filled with busy days at work & holiday merriment when the work day ended. I went to a cookie swap, where I loaded up up on enough sugar to fuel me through the weeks before Christmas. My friend Lisa came to visit & we searched for Christmas gifts in & around Meridian. I had a great time with the rest of the members of the church staff at the annual Christmas party; who knew that a game of Battle of the Sexes would get so heated with members of the church staff? We are a competitive bunch, no doubt.  I took numerous pictures of my decorated house - it was the 2nd Christmas for me in my little home in Collinsville & even though I didn't play host to anyone or have any parties, I still decorated it up just perfectly!

The haul from the annual cookie swap - can you say sugar rush?

Searching for gifts & decor in the Winter Wonderland of Little Acre...ha-ha!

My Christmas tree - love it!

On December 21st, I happily found myself winging my way back to the lovely state of VA! I was in VA for 5 days again but somehow these 5 days seemed shorter. I have come to find it is very true what they say about time flying when you are having fun - because these days absolutely flew by! I was able to visit my parent's new church home where everyone was so kind & welcoming; we even went Christmas caroling, which was so much fun! I don't know why we don't do that anymore these days. There was more movie watching, cooking & eating delicious things...but the most wonderful thing of all? I had my very first WHITE CHRISTMAS! There is just something so magical about watching the movie "White Christmas" & knowing that as you hear Bing sing those familiar words, all you have to do is open your front door to see that the world has been transformed into a Winter Wonderland. It was amazing. I am beyond blessed & being able to spend Christmas day with my family was just one of the many blessings that I am able to count. And if you get the reference I'm making, you're awesome. Just sayin...

The warm glow of home...in the snow!

No longer dreaming of a White Christmas...it is a reality!

The mountains on Saturday morning...before the snow arrived on Monday.

So excited to be standing in the middle of the beginning of the snowfall.

One of my Christmas gifts - y'all better get ready for some good ol Cajun cooking pictures, I've got my eye on the red beans & rice recipe.

So - there you have it. A short little recap of my time in Virginia this holiday season. Obviously, I could have made this post pages in length because I was able to experience so much & make so many amazing memories in the few days that I was in VA. I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store for me, I've already got a trip to Colorado Springs planned for February & a trip to California planned for late March, so the traveler in me is sated until then. I've made my resolution for this new year to change my life. I'm not sure what kind of changes that will entail, but I'm ready for a change or two - and I'll try to keep the blog updated as things unfold! Happy New Year & best wishes for 2013!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weekend Recap!

I'm trying to think of ways to bulk up my blog so that I post a little more often. I guess I tend to think that I just don't lead that exciting of a life, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe what is dull to me might be thrilling to someone else. I think my parents think my life is thrilling; I know my Mom loves reading this blog. This one will be mostly just pictures, but that's fine with you guys, right?

I didn't do a whole lot this weekend, the prerequisite(s) of watching movies (the Money Pit) on Friday night, sleeping late on Saturday morning, cleaning house on Saturday, watching more movies on Saturday night (Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)...that about rounded out my weekend. Except there was still Sunday. Sunday morning was chaotic at best, but Sunday afternoon I went with my friend Hope to some of Meridian's little shops which were all having their Christmas open houses. Yep - on November 3rd. Let's start back at Sunday morning though...

Sweet little faces make the chaos alright....

I love cuddling sweet babies on Sunday morning.

Sunday afternoon, like I said...was spent at the Christmas open houses. See all the wonderful pictures...I also included a few snaps of the awesome things I bought. :) Because who doesn't love sharing their awesome finds? Hope y'all enjoy the pics & have a great week! Next weekend is only 4 days away...

Owls & Sock Monkeys....so cute!

Um - can we say delicious?

Do you see the little teeny garden - it was so cute!

All the trees at Little Acre

The wall of Christmas tree decor - I love it.

Traditional red & green!

So beautiful - I was in heaven!

A little petit four & some delicious punch!

Oh my goodness - cutest little reindeer planter ever! Can't wait to see this on my porch!
Cute necklace that I got on sale at Southern Accents!

Some additions to my tree decor - can't wait to try them out!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Feeling Cheesy

It is the middle of the week & I just finished lapping up a delicious bowl of beef stew - that stuff is definitely a cold(ish) weather staple for me. I had two new recipes that I thought I'd share - both involving one of my favorite things - cheese! Hence the title of the post. I've just recently discovered this blog: http://bellsandkilts.blogspot.com/ which is really worth checking out. This girl makes up stuff all the time with whatever she has in her cabinets & for the most part, it all seems to turn out looking pretty delicious. I read her blog every once in a while at the office & it has made my mouth water on more than one occasion. That being said, on to the cheesy recipes! :)

Three Cheese Spaghetti

OK - so I totally intended to make homemade mac & cheese last night, but I discovered I only had a handful of bow tie pasta or q box of spaghetti. I wanted pasta & I figured cheese sauce would taste good on noodles regardless of how they are shaped - so I just started tossing things into the pot!

Spaghetti noodles, broken into small(ish) pieces
Milk (approx 2 cups...not totally sure b/c I poured at random - you can eyeball it.)
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
3/4 cup pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. butter
minced onion - just eyeball this as well
dash of pepper - seriously, not much...

Cook noodles & drain

Melt butter in saucepan, adding in onions & swirl it all around good! Gradually add milk & cheese at intervals. Keep a good whisking of the sauce going because since this is all milk based, it will burn really quick. The sauce should start to thicken after about 5-10 minutes of cooking. I also added in just a dash of pepper for a little extra spice.

Mix together sauce & noodles, pour into baking dish & top with shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes at 325. It will come out bubbly & delicious!

Mixing all the goodness together - this pic is blurry but there is a slight bubbling - that is a good thing!

Add the noodles into the cheesy sauce...it is smelling so good!

Ready to go into the oven....

And fresh out of the oven - all melty, bubbly & delicious!

Yum! Yum! Time to eat up!

If you are a fan of cheese - you would really like this recipe because it is essentially spaghetti with cheese sauce as opposed to marinara sauce. And it is baked. I loved it & I'm glad I've got some leftovers for later in the week. I just went with what I had laying around & it turned out to be pretty good! Now - on to the other cheesiness.

Four Cheese & Bacon Chowder

1 bag four cheese blend (you can choose any type, I used Sargentos Four State Cheddar, which is where I got this recipe)
3-4 slices bacon
minced onions
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp. all purpose flour

Cook the bacon in soup pot until crisp, remove bacon with a fork & set aside for later. Cook onions in bacon drippings. Add in a bit of pepper.

Add flour & gradually add in milk & chicken broth, whisking slowly to form a rue. You don't want to let your flour get too lumpy, so gradually add the milk & chicken broth so that you are keeping the mixture creamy.

Add about a cup of cheese mix, gradually. The original recipe calls for almost 2 cups of cheese, but I didn't really want the cheese taste to be overwhelming, so I didn't use as much. It's your call how much you actually add. Remember that this should cook on about medium heat - you don't want it to burn & stick to the bottom but a few bubbles are a good thing. Just keep giving it a stir/whisk ever so often for about 20 minutes.

Tear your bacon into pieces & add back into the soup. Cook for about 5 minutes more & then ladle it up! You should have a thick, creamy & filling soup. It doesn't taste too cheesy, nor does it taste too bacon-y, what it does taste is absolutely yummy!

Ingredients at the ready....

You gotta love crispy bacon - that means something is going to be good!

Whisking - very important so that things don't get too lumpy!

In goes the cheese...very delicious!

Add in that crispy bacon....

Yeah - this stuff is delicious!

Well, I guess that is about all for now. Just wanted to share these recipes real quick with everyone - even if everyone is only about 4 of you. I've got to get some other stuff done before I can settle in to watch "Happy Endings" in a little while. Hope everyone has a good Tuesday night!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Autumn Update

Somehow the month of October has almost completely come & gone - I mean, November will be here next week! I always manage to be amazed at how time passes; there are days when I feel like this year has lasted for quite a long time but more often than not I am absolutely amazed at how quickly this year has passed. I look at my desk calendar at the office & remember in January when I first set it up, it seemed so thick & offered a look at the months yet to come. Now it is so thin & serves a reminder of how quickly this year has flown by. Like I said, I occasionally feel like the year has passed slowly...but that is very occasionally.

This post is going to be picture heavy - I've come to realize that a lot of my posts are picture heavy, but I like to share pics to go along with what I'm typing, not to mention I know of at least one person that lives far, far away from me & might enjoy the pictures more than others. :) Yes Nickolee, I'm talking about you. Of course, I guess my parents & Lindsey like the pictures too. Enough said on that though.

I am so blessed with such wonderful friends, that is just the truth. I was able to spend my birthday weekend with two of those sweet friends - Lisa & Kristen. I stayed with Lisa & she really just rolled out the welcome mat for me. She cooked some delicious taco soup for supper on Friday night; we just sat around watching TV & chatting, a great way to chill out after a long week.

Birthday morning - a wee bit overcast...

Silly me - I thought I'd enjoy a nice cup of morning coffee on the porch of Lisa' apartment on Saturday, but it was actually pretty breezy out & the wind blowing off the lake was slightly chillier than I was ready for at 7 in the morning, so I just sipped my brew on the couch. I decided that I'd love some birthday breakfast, so we headed out to Cracker Barrel for some good food. I also got to meet a friend of Lisa's who so sweetly bought my birthday breakfast - talk about the kindness of strangers! Shopping is always important when you have birthday money, so I made a few purchases before we had the ever important GiGi's cupcake to celebrate my turning another year older. Lisa & I met up with Kristen at Biaggi's for supper; absolutely delicious as always & sweet Lisa so kindly bought my birthday supper. I'm telling you guys, I couldn't ask for better friends if I tried. Thank you Lisa & Kristen for helping my celebrate 28! Love you guys! :)

Birthday Cupcakes for the road - they were all pretty delicious!

Kristen & I after supper - love this pic!

Birthday goodies! :)

Lisa & I after supper - yay for great friends!

So glad to call you both my friends!

Birthday dinner...and presents!

I was able to have Monday off for my birthday, but since I can't ever just be chill...I ended up doing some decorating for Halloween, cleaning & sprucing up some things & basically not being relaxed. I find that I'm becoming more like my Momma every day; I just can't sit still if I think of something that needs to be taken care of. My Momma is pretty great though, so there are much worse fates than turning into my Mother. ;)

My "creepy" porch...

I love my Autumn Snoopy - such an awesome birthday gift!

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere...

Also, how much do I love Tango? I don't know if you guys have iPhones or even have any clue what Tango is. I know my family does because we use it on a regular basis. It has been one of the best apps I've ever downloaded onto my phone. I just can't ever really get the whole Face Time thing on my phone to work out so well, but Tango always works & works great! My family & I use it routinely; it has allowed Lindsey & I to take "tours" of my parent's new townhouse, for me to show off the way(s) I have rearranged the furniture so that I can get votes of approval (or not) & it also lets my Mom "talk" to her grand dog, who usually just stares at the screen looking very confused. Ha-ha. Lindsey & I also have some pretty epic conversations, as evidenced by the photos below...

Something must be funny....

I mean, confused much?

Autumn also brings crazy weather here in good ol' Mississippi. It can be 65 one day & 90 the next, I know - insane. When the weather can't make up its mind, neither can your body. So...I joined the ranks of the sniffy, sneezy, coughy & achy (hey - 3 more & I'd have named my own 7 dwarfs!) to battle my yearly cold. Blessedly, I think I actually caught this one early & only had one day of feeling a lot like poop. Thank goodness for Halls & chicken noodle soup!

The weapons in my arsenal...

Oh noodle soup - how I love thee.

A wonderful surprise in the midst of my cold? Why that would be a package of goodies straight from the island(s) of Aloha. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my parents?

Aloha! This was the most awesome package ever!!

Last but certainly not least, I got down to carving myself a pumpkin last Saturday. I decided to go outside the box this year & carve something a little different. I painted my pumpkin white to begin with because I wanted to carve my pumpkin to look like Jack Skellington - from "A Nightmare before Christmas". I think I did pretty good on this one, although I've been told by several people that it actually looks really creepy. I wasn't really going for that, but I guess creepy is fine too. I just love the way it turned out. Watson wasn't so sure at first, but now most nights you can find him sitting on the stoop next the grinning gourd, both of them just keeping watch over the yard!

Before it was all lit up....

And after...hehehe. I think it looks pretty good!

Well, I suppose that is all for now. Like I said, cannot believe that October has almost come & gone. I'll try to post again soon - I've got a great Bacon Cheese Chowder recipe to share & I'm going to be participating in our church's Trunk or Treat on Halloween, so that should make for some great pictures & good eats. I'm going to take Watson in his skull & crossbones sweater, so maybe I can get a pirate ship vibe going? We'll see... Can't wait to see what November has in store!