Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Girls night!

Let me begin by saying how thankful I am for the wonderful ladies in my life!  I have been very blessed with some fun, sweet, chocolate-loving girlfriends from church.  Our young couples Sunday School class tries to have some socials throughout the year as a whole group, but the ladies in the class try to do a girls night once every month or so.  With the holidays we haven't had one in a while, but last night was the big night!  So fun!

My friend, Becky, hosted us and made some delicious chili.  We added some shredded cheddar, sour cream, and Fritos to make it even better!  Mmmm.  Our theme for last night...chocolate.  Yum!  Becky served us a great smore-like treat.  I had to share.  I don't have pics, but basically what she did was...
Got some cinnamon/sugar graham crackers and broke them into the little rectangles.  Then she placed them on a cookie sheet and put a regular sized marshmallow on top.  She turned the oven on broil and actually left the oven door cracked so she could keep an eye on how cooked they were getting.  Then, once they were a little brown, she took them out and placed one little rectangle of plain Hershey's chocolate on top.  It melted just a little bit.  They were SO GOOD!  The cinnamon graham crackers really made the difference.  It reminded me of a Pioneer Woman episode (Food Network on Sat. mornings) in which her kids had a camp out.  PW brought smore things out to the site for them, except she tweaked them a little.  If I recall correctly, she did some with chocolate graham crackers, marshmallows, and peppermint patties.  She did another variation with regular graham crackers, peanut butter, marshmallows, and reece cups.  Yum!  I think I'll have to try that!

We had lots of other chocolate goodies, too!  Oreos, chocolate covered pretzels, a huge bowl of cut up chocolate bars of many kinds, and more.  I left last night feeling like I was going to bust!  We not only eat at these fun little gatherings....we also watch a movie!  We try to make it a non-sad, girly movie.  Our pick last night....The Count of Monte Cristo!  Here's a little video that summarizes the movie...the music is a little intense, but I thought it was good overall!  Jim Caviesel...so good!

I can't wait til the next girls night! Blessings!

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Good cake" is delish!

A sweet lady in our church (Mrs. Peacock) baked us a pound-type cake a few weeks ago.  It was so good I shared it with a few family members and they raved about it.  Soon after I asked Mrs. Peacock if I could have the recipe...because I really wanted to be able to make it sometime and share it with others.  Yesterday she had it for me and I was SO excited!  What else could I do but share it on my blog!  I hope all of you enjoy this wonderfully delicious and moist cake!  The recipe is surprisingly easy, too. It honestly tastes homemade! 

"Good Cake" recipe
from Mrs. Joyce Peacock
1 box Butter Pecan cake mix (sift)--prepare according to directions on box
add: 1 can creamy coconut icing
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix well and bake in Bundt pan approx. 45 min (at temp on box)

Isn't that easy?!  I haven't made it yet, but it's definitely going to be on my list of things to bake soon.  Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Top Ten Cravings

It's been a while since I've done a baby update.  I feel like I'm viewing life in terms of what's on the schedule for the week...I guess to help the time go by.  There have been many times throughout this pregnancy that I've felt like this has been my hardest one yet...and then other times I feel like it's been my best.  Tomorrow will begin week 34...and I honestly can't believe I have about 5 more weeks to go!  Lord, help me have endurance!  I have gained (well, so far) the least amount of weight with this one, but I feel like each week my tummy is getting bigger and bigger.  I've had a lot of pelvis shifting issues this time around, which has been a little draining and painful.  I've also been busy with homeschooling, keeping up with a now 3 and 5 year old, and trying to keep my house from looking like a total wreck.  Not to mention trying to coupon, save money at the grocery store each week, and cook meals at home as opposed to eating out.  Whew.  Yes, I'm tired.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love seeing my sweet girl grow and learn.  She is such a joy.  I know she's going to be a big help to me when the baby comes.  Isaac is full of personality and is saying so many things and expressing his thoughts so well.  He's also showed interests in music, coloring, and is a whiz at putting puzzles together.  I can't imagine how it's going to be when the little guy gets here. : )  Chaos.  Wonderful chaos.

I've had some interesting cravings this time around...so I thought I'd tell you about them : ).
Top Ten Pregnancy Cravings...baby #3
1. ice...I craved this with Sophie, too, but I don't think it was this bad!  My favorite ice:
Flaky ice from NuWay.  It's awesome.  The perfect consistency.  Goes great with one of their chili dogs, too.  I think I could eat 2 or 3 of them if I let myself (no, I haven't...yet).  Sonic and Zaxby's ice is a close second (their ice is very similar).  I can get a cup of ice water for 25 cents in the Zaxby's drive-thru, but if you buy something I think they'll give it to you for free.  Mmmm.  When I can't get one from one of these places, I've opted for just putting a bottle of water into the freezer.  I do this about 2 or 3 times a day.  If you leave it in for about 2-3 hours...it's just right.  : )  I really crave it at night, which is not good because then I end up having to go to the bathroom all through the night.  Worth it?  Um, yes.  I think.
2.  Salad...I've never craved this during pregnancy before.  I guess it's a good craving to have if you're not piling on the dressing.  My favorite way to fix it right now is just some lettuce, a little shredded cheese, a few croutons, chopped celery if available, and a combo of some ranch dressing and a little balsalmic vinegar dressing.  But I'm not limited to that.  I like the spinach/strawberry salad with walnuts...yum!  I also like Ceasar salad.  Ok...it's all good.
3.  Nuts...I think this is probably another "good" craving done in moderation.  My favs are walnuts.  So good!  I also like pecans, too.  Almonds...preferably without the shells.  Peanuts.  Cashews....
4.  Ice cream...ok...enough with the healthy cravings.  You know I had to want me some ice cream.  It's so good.  Especially when you put some in a glass and pour a little milk over it.  Squish it up with a spoon and it makes this kind of icy-type chunks in there.  Oh my word.  Putting a little magic shell and/or some whipped cream on top just makes it even better.  Which leads me to my next craving...
5.  Cherries....yes, the kind in the jar with the red juice that I'm sure it totally awful for you.  I ate about half a jar one day. 
*Dairy Queen had a choco cherry love blizzard the other day for Valentine's.  It may still be there.  It's ice cream, chocolate magic shell-like pieces with cherries and cherry juice.  My stars!  It was SOO good!*

6.  Chocolate....I don't know if I could count this as a craving because I pretty much like it year-round...preggo or not.  Cadberry eggs are starting to show up in the stores...mmmm.
7.  Cheesy stuff...I don't really know how else to describe it.  Rich, cheesy things, such as this chicken enchilada dip that a friend made for a party I went to.  It had cream cheese and shredded cheese in it.  Cream cheese is so good!
8.  Candy.  This is rough.  I could eat and eat and eat candy.  I like it sweet, sour, pretty much any way.  Sour patch kids, laffy taffy, air heads, tootsie rolls...and the list goes on.  I must stop stealing my kids' candy.
9.  Lemony stuff...lemon is just a great flavor.  Raspberry lemonade, lemon bars...a little sweet and a little sour.  Perfect combo.
10.  Spaghetti...this has been a mild craving, but I think I could pretty much have spaghetti any day of the week.  It's always a good go-to dish. 

This list definitely does not cover all of my food loving this time around.  Food, after that first trimester, has tasted better than ever!   Please keep my in your prayers as we finish out these last weeks and prepare for our new baby boy! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Treats

What a great Valentine's Day!  This week has been a busy one, but filled with fun and good things.  I started on Sunday night making these delish strawberry oatmeal bars...courtesy of Pioneer Woman!  I saw the recipe on a recent episode of her show on Food Network.  Using strawberry preserves for the filling made me wonder how good it was going to be.  Why did I wonder?!  These are great!  Here's the recipe:
Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
1 3/4 sticks salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 ten-twelve oz jar of strawberry preserves (I used a 12 oz jar)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 9x13 in rectangular pan.  Mix together butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Press half the oat mixture into prepared pan.  Spread with strawberry preserves.  Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly.  Bake until light brown, 30 to 40 min.  Let cool completely then cut into squares.  YUM!
 Monday at school we got some pink, purple, and red paint and made valentines.  We used stencils and heart shaped cookie cutters to make some designs.  The girls did a great job and we made lots of cards! 
 Today we made Valentine cookies, using an easy cookie recipe that I got off of Tamera Alexander's blog. 
 Here's the recipe:
Cake Mix Cookies
1 box of cake mix (I used the butter yellow...but you can use any kind)
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
*Mix these ingredients together and then you can add...
2 cups of whatever...chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, M&M's, etc (we did Valentine colored M&Ms...and they were good!)
You can also add desired amount of nuts...pecans, walnuts, etc.
*I mixed the first set of ingredients with a mixer, then I just used a spoon to stir in the m&m's so they wouldn't break up
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop cookie dough onto greased cookie sheet (be sure to grease it good...I forgot on the first two batches and they stuck a good bit and crumbled some...I greased for the third batch, but not enough and they still stuck some).  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  You can store cookie dough up to 10 days in the fridge.
 We took our cookies and homemade Valentines to a homeschool party this afternoon.  It was so much fun!  We had lots of good snacks, activities, and fellowship.  One of the moms who planned it had some math activities for kids of all ages.  Sophie did a heart candy bar graph.  She had a cup full of candy and put it on her paper to the corresponding color.  When she finished we took one color at a time, took the candy off, and she colored the amount of boxes that equaled the amount of candy.  I thought it was a great idea!  Another mom also had a science activity in which the kids mixed boiling water with borax and put it into a glass jar.  Then they twisted a pipe cleaner into a heart and attached it with a string to a pencil.  The pencil rested on top of the jar and the pipe cleaner hung down into the hot mixture, without touching the bottom or sides.  After a few hours, crystals covered the heart and some sides of the jar.  The kids also attached a Bible verse to the front of it.
 Isaac had fun playing with balls and putting the pool table balls into the pockets.  There was also a drum set in the room that he visited several times.  I think he might be a music lover!
 Sophie and her good friend.  You can see one of the jars in the background on the stove : ).
 A special treat for me from my beloved husband was some beautiful flowers!  I love surprises (as I've said before!) and this afternoon we had a ring from our doorbell with a delivery.  I really think my guy is awesome.
 And this is another reason I think he's so awesome.  He not only got me flowers, but he gave our little girl a beautiful flower of her own with a sweet card.  Her little face lit up.  What a blessing it was to me to see the love she felt from and for her Daddy.
 Little man wasn't neglected!  Daddy got him a cute Georgia Bulldogs bear.  It's adorable and Isaac was so excited about it.
What a blessing today was.  I feel loved every day by my family, but having a day like this is special.  We finished off the evening by sharing a Sonic blast : ).  I got my ice cream...and more!
Love and blessings~Stacey

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Love Story~

Valentine's Day is coming up soon so my mind is on love : ).  The hubby and I did our Valentine's and first date anniversary date the other night and I feel like I've already started celebrating.  For me, Valentine's Day is not about what kind of treats I can get from my hubby, even though I love flowers and all that kind of stuff.  This year especially, I am thinking a lot more about how my love for him has grown...so much deeper than it was even when we were first married.  I give God the credit for that.  He's taken these two independent, selfish people and taught us what true love is really about.  It's pretty great. 
I saw these fun questions on a friend's blog and I thought I'd answer them too...just to give you some history of us.  I changed some of the questions a little, so it's not exactly like the original.
1.  How long have you and your husband been together?  Our first date was January 13, 2004.  It was a blind date and we were together from there on out : ).
2.  How did you meet?  (What is your love story?)  As I said, we met on a blind date.  We were set up by my mom and Joe's cousin, who taught with Mom.  I was about to return from the mission field and Mom was trying to help me meet "a nice guy".  Joe and I eventually agreed on a phone call, just to connect on a ministry basis, and by the end of our two hour conversation we agreed to meet.  We both admit to having kind of low expectations...but were open to whatever God wanted to do.  We took it slow at first, just going out once every couple of weeks.  We kept spending some good quality time together and talked on the phone, and by May we had to make a decision whether to take a big step or keep our relationship long distance for another year.
3. How long have you been married?  We have been married for over 7 years now!  October 16, 2004 was our wedding day...and it was an amazing day!
4. Where did you get married at?  Big or small wedding?  We married in my home church.  Everything went so smoothly.  I felt like it was a good sized wedding...I would say about 200.  Maybe a little less.
5. Do you have any nicknames that you call each other?  Do share!  We usually call each other babe or baby.

6. Name three things you love most about your honey.  First and foremost...I love that he loves the Lord.  It affects every aspect of our marriage and makes our relationship stronger.  I also love that he is incredibly patient.  I need that because I struggle with patience.  Another thing I love about him is that he loves to travel and is adventurous.  We've got so many great memories already of traveling and going places together.  I doesn't hurt that he has a great sense of direction : ).
7.  Tell us how he proposed.  Well, I knew that he was going to propose some time, but I thought it was going to be later than it actually was.  So he surprised me.  I love surprises! : )  It's kind of funny, though.  He proposed on the same day as our town's Relay for Life, so I was already down for the weekend.  He had gotten me a t-shirt for the Relay and when I walked in to his house, he said, "I got you something."  I looked over and didn't even see the ring box...I just saw the t-shirt sitting on the couch!  I said, "Oh, thanks!"  He said, "No, I got you something else." (or something like that)  I looked around and STILL didn't see the ring box!  lol  Finally he got up and got it and of course I got very excited.  He opened it and I was all giddy!  Then I said, "Are you going to ask me?"  Needless to say, he asked and said a big YES! : )
8. Tell us one thing you would like to do with your hubby one day... if you could do anything or go anywhere.  Well, most of the things I'd like to do with my hubby involve travel.  We both love it.  It's hard to narrow it down to one place, but one thing we've talked about for years is one day getting Eurail passes and traveling up the rail line, stopping at amazing places along the way.  Joe did a version of this when he was single and had fun.  I'd like to do it, but I'd like to stop at a few places along the way and stay at some kind of hotel every so often!  Joe just slept on the train : ). 
9.  Tell us what you plan on doing this Valentine's Day.  On the actual day, we plan on having a normal day and then going to get a Sonic blast or blizzard at Dairy Queen.  There's a story behind this.  On several of our Valentine's Day dates, this is what we've done...mainly since having kids. With our first two, at this point in the year we had brand new babies and couldn't really go out.  So we would go to Sonic, get the special Valentine's Day blast, and sit in the car and eat it together.  This year, we had a date last Thursday night and we went to eat at our first date spot and went to a movie at the $2 theater.  It was fun.  I kind of feel like I get two dates this year ; ).
 10.  Are you asking for anything this Valentine's Day?  Not really.  Just my ice cream : ).  We've done different things on Valentine's Day as far as gifts go, and I've loved each surprise.  But even if I don't get anything, just time together is enough for me!
11.  Give us one piece of advice of keeping a relationship strong and full of love.  It's hard to say one thing, but the most important part of a successful marriage is keeping Christ at the center of it.  Without Christ, we would be living for ourselves, our needs and our wants...and all without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  That's the root of the advice...so many other things branch off of that.

I can't express how much I love my husband and my children...how thankful I am for them.  The Bible talks about when two people get married, the two become one.  Not just physically, but in every way.  It took some time, but I can now say that I truly feel my husband is the other part of myself.  He's my closest friend and confidante, the one who sees my weaknesses and loves me still, he's patient through my emotions, and keeps me guessing all the time.  Like I said...I love surprises : ).
Happy Valentine's Day, my love!  May we have many more to come!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Changing things up

I guess I'm in this weird nesting/home project phase.  I know what it's like to have a newborn in the house, therefore I know how little things will get done.  I'm anticipating being grateful just to keep up laundry and basic cleaning for a while after the baby comes.  I guess I should also say that several of these little projects involve my recruiting unsuspecting friends and family to come help.  For this last little project, I basically watched while my friend, Jennifer, did most of the work.  I must give credit where credit is due.  Thanks, Jen!  She did it much better than I would.  I don't have the patience to measure and make sure everything is centered...which usually means when I do something like that it's off center or sloping down, etc.  You get the picture.  
I have mentioned my beautiful Thailand quilt that my friend made for me.  She suggested that since the fabrics were not 100% cotton, which is ideal for quilting, that I should use it as a wall hanging or something like that so I wouldn't need to wash it much.  If I were to wash it a lot, she said the fabrics could start to unravel.  My mind started thinking...wall hanging.  It's amazing how perfect the colors of the quilt match my living room.  That was completely unplanned when I picked out fabric during my last months in Thailand. 
When I went to Ikea last week, one thing I was looking for was a curtain rod.  I found one...for $7.99!  I was excited about that.  And it matched the other I had on the other side of the room.  As I said, Jennifer helped me measure so that the rod would be centered and everything (and even brought tools!) and in less than 20 minutes we had the quilt hanging!  I love it! 
 We had to make some adjustments, though, to other parts of the room because I had a large picture hanging above the couch.  I thought that this picture (a print by Andrew Wyath...love his work!) would look good on the mantle.  We had an old family portrait there and it was time to update.  This turned out great to me.  I love the size of the framed print and how the flowers and candles go with it so well.
I've got about 7 more weeks until the baby comes, so who knows how many other projects I'll come up with!  Friends and family...you are warned : ). 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ikea fun

I was SO excited that I was able to go with my mom...and kiddos...to Ikea in Atlanta.  We typically take a trip up there once a year to do a little shopping before Christmas, but we didn't make it in 2011.  It kind of worked out well, though, because I found out that Melanie Dickerson...author, writing mentor, and just a neat person...was going to be in Atlanta for a few days and had time to meet up!
 What a great time we had!  I was also able to meet her friend, Suzy, who is a writer as well.  I was so encouraged by talking with them.  They both gave me some great advice and encouraged me to keep moving forward with my writing.  It gave me some good things to think about.  We were also able to have lunch together and enjoy some good fellowship.  Overall a great time!
I had some shopping goals for our trip, too.  One of the big things I was looking for was some way to store wipes and diapers above the changing pad we have in the boys' room.  I was thinking baskets or some kind of shelf or something.  I wasn't really sure.  We saw these big plastic storage things that were cheap (because, yeah, I was thinking cheap, too) but looked too deep and would be ackward to try to pull things out of.  After lunch we looked around the kids section and what do you know...I saw this nifty little pocket thing that just happened to be the same colors as the boys' room!  Yes!  And guess how much....a mere $3.99.  I nailed it up today and it's pretty much perfect.  Just what I needed!  Don't look too close.  No, I'm not that great at nailing.  I don't measure or center anything, I just go to town.  Oh, well.  It's up there.
 A few other things I found...a set of three knives that were less than $5 and a pack of kid proofers for the fridge...because somebody keeps opening the refridgerator door...all the time.  Yes, it's driving me crazy.  No, it's not my husband.  It's the other guy in the house.  I hope this works and isn't too hard for the grown-ups to get into.
 A few other things I got included this cute little strawberry stuffed toy and a set of circus finger puppets for a 3 year old birthday party gift.  I knew I could find something unique at a great price at Ikea.
 I had to get a close-up of these finger puppets.  I thought they were adorable!  The circus tent is a cardboard thing and then you've got the little character puppets, including a horse. 
It was a great day at Ikea, but I must confess I was worn out last night when we got back and today!  I can tell that I don't have the stamina I used to!  Well, it's about 8 weeks until our little one arrives, so I guess I've got a good reason to feel tired.  I'm just thankful that we were able to have a little getaway and meet some new friends!