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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

heading back to N.C...

We're packing our bags & loading the car to head back to N.C. today after spending the last 6 wonderful days at home with family & friends.

I can't lie...we're not looking forward to the drive, but we are looking forward to getting back to our house & putting away our Christmas decorations & unpacking our Christmas gifts (more on that later).

I have to go back to work Wednesday night...booooo.

Well, off to do some more packing & then lots of driving.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

4 days...wow!

Only 4 days until Christmas...I can't believe it.

We'll be headed to GA Tuesday night after I get off work. We're so looking forward to being home with our families for a whole week!

I have 2 more presents to wrap & then a lot of packing to do...

We made chocolate chip cookie mix in mason jars yesterday to add to a few gift baskets we made. They were so easy & turned out really cute. Next time we make some, I want to try making soup mixes!

Well, time for a quick nap & then getting ready for Catherine's party...can't wait!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I have a new obsession with aprons.

I'd love to one day make my own...one day when I have a sewing machine!

Until then, I've fallen in love with these I found on Etsy (Hollie, I'm totally addicted).
Maybe I'll have to order myself one after Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2 weeks & counting...

I can't believe Christmas is only 2 weeks away!

All week long I've been doing things to "get ready" for Christmas...making & sending Christmas cards, buying & wrapping presents, baking Christmas goodies...
What does "getting ready" for Christmas mean anyway?

I know that it is far more than sending cards, buying gifts, & baking sweet treats. It's far too easy to fall into the whirlwind of these fun, but often time-consuming & stressful "tasks" and forget the reason for the Christmas season.

With Christmas only 2 weeks away & many of my Christmas "tasks" complete, I'm hoping to sit back and truly enjoy the real meaning of Christmas.

I hope you can do the same!

delicious treats

This past Monday night was our ladies' Bible Study Christmas potluck dinner.

We had quite a spread of delicious holiday snacks to enjoy.
Here are the recipes for wassail (my favorite holiday drink!) & a warm broccoli dip (I'd never made it before, but it was awesome)...
Holiday Wassail
3 sticks cinnamon (3-inch pieces)
2 tsp. ground cloves
8 cups water
1 cup of frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate
1 cup of frozen raspberry juice concentrate
1 cup of frozen apple juice concentrate
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of lemon juice
Orange slices
In a 3 ½ to 5-quart crock pot, combine all ingredients except orange slices. Cover and cook on high heat for 2-3 hours or on low heat for 5-6 hours. Float orange slices in crock pot during the last hour of cooking.
Yield: 12-15 servings

Zesty Hot Holiday Broccoli Dip

1 cup MIRACLE WHIP Light Dressing
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed, well drained
1 jar (2 oz.) diced pimientos, drained
1/2 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine first 4 ingredients and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Spread into 1-qt. baking dish or 9-inch pie plate. Bake 20 to 25 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese; bake 5 min. or until cheese is melted. Serve with crackers.

Here are two shots of our dining room all decorated for the evening of fun...

After we indulged in the delicious treats, we played a white elephant gift exchange game & after having many gifts 'stolen' from me, I ended up with an adorable, cozy 3-piece pajama set. I do love pajamas!

I think everyone had a great time!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Our home for the holidays...

Our beautiful tree, 900 lights & all!

Our fun Christmas count-down calendar, complete with an Andes mint candy behind each door!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas festivities..

Christmas is fast approaching...only 17 days!!!

Saturday night Chris & I went to the Carolina Ballet's performace of the the Nutcracker & this afternoon we went to hear Handel's Messiah performed at the fabulous Duke Chapel (what an awesome place for a concert!). Both were great performances & we had a great time!

Tomorrow night is my 1st Christmas party. It'll be the only Christmas party I'm hosting this year, so I'm super excited. My Bible Study ladies are always such fun guests & I can't wait for all of the great food & fun we'll have. I'll have to share recipes for the delicious treats I'm making too!

We got our first Christmas card of the season (from Chris' grandmother) on Thursday, the same day I started making our Christmas cards. I'm hoping to have them all finished by Tuesday & in the mail. I love sending & receiving Christmas cards!!!

I love Christmas!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving recap & Christmas countdown

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving in GA with our famililes.
We have so many things to be thankful for, not just at Thanksgiving but every single day!

On to Christmas...the inside of the house is decorated & we're hopefully going to get our outside lights up this weekend. I can't wait to set up the 2 4-foot lighted trees in urns I bought (both for $24!!!) on Black Friday. I'm going to sit one on each side of our door. My wreath should be finished this weekend too so I can't wait to see how it looks on the front door.

Can't believe it's only 22 days until Christmas...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I don't want to...

...go to bed! It's 10 p.m. & I should go to bed, but I'd rather stay up & finish tidying things up around here (& writing more on my blog).

But, I have to work for the next 3 days, so I should head to bed.
3 more days & then we're headed to GA for Thanksgiving...can't wait!
Good night!

Friday, November 21, 2008

good day

It's been a good day & here's why...
  • I got up early & got some errands accomplished.
  • I found the perfect piece of carrot cake for Dad's birthday at Foster's Market this a.m.
  • I had a peppermint mocha from Starbuck's...I love the holiday coffees!
  • Mom & Dad stopped by on their way to Washington, N.C.
  • Mom & Dad took me to lunch at one of my faves, Elmo's Diner.
  • I had an afternoon nap under my favorite down throw.
  • I had a date with Harry Potter this afternoon & now I am just 200 pages shy of finishing the 7th book!...then I'm going to start The Shack.
  • I'm about to snuggle up with Chris, my down throw, & some hot apple cider!

We're decorating our house for Christmas tomorrow...can't wait!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I can't believe...

it snowed today! We had snow flurries off & on this morning. Nothing stuck to the ground, but it was pretty to watch the snowflakes fall from the sky. I couldn't get any pictures because I was at work :-(.

It's crazy that our 1st snow this year has come before Thanksgiving.

It's just another sign that winter is getting ready to set in & that Thanksgiving & Christmas are nearly here...yeah!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

Since high school, I have contributed to the Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child project.

Chris & I went shopping today to fill our shoebox with gifts for a boy between the ages of 4-9. We have no idea where our box will be going, but we know it will go to some child who will need some extra Christmas cheer.

This year we're enclosing a card with our address in hopes that the little boy that receives our box will write to us so we can know who & where he is.

For me, this little project epitomizes the spirit of Christmas giving & ushers in the Christmas feeling around our home!

Check out the website for more info on how you can help.

I can't wait...

for Thanksgiving! It's now less than 2 weeks away...yummy!

for Black Friday shopping! It's been 3 years since my mom, sisters & I have gotten to go together, so this year will be super exciting.

for Christmas!!! We're going to get down out Christmas decorations next weekend & start decorating so when we come back from GA after Thanksgiving everything will be all Christmas-feeling!

for the craft fair tomorrow at the Raleigh Farmer's Market! I'm going after church with some friends of mine. I'm hoping to find some great Christmas gifts.

to climb into my nice cozy bed with my husband & get a good night's sleep...good night!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Halloween pictures at last

I finally loaded the Halloween pictures onto our computer.

We didn't get many pictures on Halloween night & they were taken in Chris' lab so they're not the best, but atleast it captures us in costume...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thanksgiving season...

in honor of Thanksgiving being a few weeks away, I found this new background from The Cutest Blog on the Block. It's a bit busy, but it'll be cute for a short while.

I love the Thanksgiving season. It gives me such an opportunity to begin to look back on each year and reflect on all of the blessings, joys, and struggles I've encountered over the last year.

I also love Thanksgiving because it mean's Christmas is just around the corner too...I can't wait!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

history in the making...

Such history is being made right now...although the N.C. polls are about to close, voters on the West coast still have hours to cast their votes & make their voices heard.

I feel so blessed to live in a country where we can make our voices heard & vote without fear.

We soon will find out who will become our 44th president of the United States...God bless the U.S.A.

Monday, November 3, 2008

sweater weather...

Today was definitely sweater weather...my favorite time of the year!

It was also a perfect day to enjoy some coffee. I met a friend for coffee this afternoon at the most adorable independently-owned coffee shop, Hammock's. Thanks, Catherine, for introducing me to such a sweet place...I love local restaurants and coffee shops!

I'm making a rubbed pork tenderloin, baked sweet potatoes, & fresh green beans for dinner...yummy!

I'm off from work until Friday with the exception of continuing ed classes tomorrow from 8-4. I'm so enjoying my time off...

fun website...

I recently discovered this great website...Goodreads!

It is a free site that allows you to open "bookshelves" with books you have read, are reading, or want to read.

You can see what other people are reading and how they rate certain books. You can also invite your friends to join so you can share opinions about books and find great new reads!

You can also upload your "bookshelf" onto a website or a blog.

How fun!...check it out.

Friday, October 31, 2008

cute cookies

Look at these most adorable ghost cookies...
I made some yesterday for the bake sale at work today.

This picture is from Kraftfoods.com because the pictures I took didn't do the little things justice!
They're cute & incredibly easy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween fun...

I'm looking forward to Halloween tomorrow.

I've had to work on Halloween for the last 2 years so I'm happy to be off this year!

We'll be spending our evening in Chapel Hill with tens of thousands of other crazy adults in costumes. I've never had the "Franklin Street Halloween experience" so I feel the need to do it one time & this is it!

I've already told Chris though that next year I want to host a Halloween party at our house.

Pictures of Chris as Indiana Jones & me as Wilma Flinstone to come!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

how cute is this???

Over the weekend Chris & I attended wedding festivities for a friend of ours. We had the opportunity to spend time with a lot of our friends & enjoy lots (&I mean lots) of delicious food!

At the wedding on Sunday, while I was in line getting some food, Chris took baby Cady so Chad & Mandy could eat some lunch.

I wish you could see the look on her face in the picture too. They both were too cute.

P.S.-The wedding was termed a "hat party" so all guests wore a hat, hence Chris' Indiana Jones hat & Cady's baby beret!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

surprise...I'm home!!!

I was awakened at 2:30 p.m. from my eractic daytime sleep after working Tuesday night to the door bell.

Unless I am expecting someone I typically don't answer the door when I'm sleeping during the day because a) I'm trying to sleep, b) I usually look horrible, c) I typically don't want to talk to whoever is there.

So the doorbell rang & rang again so I'm working my way to the door (meanwhile, Sadie is flipping out).

I took 1 step into the living room & there, looking through our picture window, was my wonderful husband with a big smile on his face.

I was so elated to see him that it took me a few minutes to even ask him why he was home. Turns out, a transformer blew somewhere on campus shutting off power to his lab. He couldn't get much work done with no power, so he came home.

It was the nicest surprise!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bible study & bean soup saga

I have been a member of a women's Bible study through church for almost 3 years now.
It's been such a good way for me to meet new ladies & fellowship with them.
When I joined our Bible study, we were having anywhere from 4-8 ladies each week.
Over the last year, we've had nights with just 2 or 3 of us.
Over the last month we have been blessed to see as many as 12 ladies at our Monday night studies!
It truly is a blessing!

Now...on to the bean soup saga...
I have been in the mood for bean soup (random, I know).
While grocery shopping a few weeks ago I found a bag of 16 bean soup mix & then bought some little soup noodles to add to it.
Chris & I decided we wanted it for dinner on Monday night.
Monday morning I soaked the beans & then started cooking Monday at noon.
The beans & water took up maybe a 1/4 of my big soup pot to start with.
I cooked & cooked & cooked them until they finally seemed to get more tender.
I added the pasta about 5 as the beans seemed to be near reaching optimum tenderness.
By this point, my soup pot is about 1/2 full with beans, water & pasta.

What we ended up with was 1 nearly overflowing soup pot of bean soup with too tender pasta & not tender enough beans.
I was so frustrated with how what was supposed to be a simple meal had turned out to be so difficult.
I asked Chris twice if I was a bad cook...lucky for both of us he said no!
All we could do was laugh.
There's a ton of soup left to eat!
Luckily the entire meal cost less than $4 so I won't feel bad having to throw some out when we grow tired of eating it.

Who knew bean soup could be so challenging???

101st post...

I just realized that my butterfly picture post was my 100th post on my blog!

This makes 101!!!

I love blogging.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Sadie & I ventured to our little local Northgate Park this morning to enjoy the beautiful day.

There is a huge butterfly bush there...the biggest I've ever seen. There were indeed butterflies hanging out close by & I snapped several pictures.

Monday, October 6, 2008

love it!

I am in love with this coffee table from Pottery Barn.
I love everything at Pottery Barn, but this is exactly what I've been looking for.
It's $299 there, so I'm hoping to find something just like it cheaper somewhere else.
It's definitely simple, but sometimes simple is what you need.

I love it!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

falling leaves...

A sure sign that fall is here!

I love everything about fall.

I love the colors of the leaves,
the crispness in the air,
and the cool mornings & evenings.

It's truly my favorite time of the year!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A must read...

"Time is all you have.

And you may find one day that you have less than you think."
-Randy Pausch
The Last Lecture

This is my favorite line from The Last Lecture which I finished reading this weekend.

The lecture & book are such open, honest accounts from a man who knows he has so little time yet wants to make the most of it.

It has certainly made me think a bit more about how I'm spending & enjoying each minute of each day.
It's a must read!

"date night"

Chris came home about 4:00 on Friday, which is soooo early for him to be home unless we're headed out of town.

It was a nice surprise especially since I had seen so little of him this week because I was working nights.

We decided to turn our Friday night into a "date night". We ran to Target for a few things, picked up a pizza on our way home, and watched The Departed (Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson). It was a great movie althought it was fairly violent. Hey, it managed to keep me awake running on 3 hours of sleep, so it was definitely good.

We enjoyed our "date night"!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

2 years...

It's hard to believe that on Tuesday it will have been 2 years since we closed on our house. It's been such a fast 2 years!

We've made a lot of changes, and hope to have time to make some more changes to our house.

Here are some before & after shots...

Living room...
Hallway bathroom...
Bedroom, now office...
Guest bedroom...
Family room, now dining room (you can only see part of it)... Kitchen...
Dining room, now den...Master bedroom...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My cedar chest

This is my new cedar chest...

For now it's at the end of our bed.

I'm loving it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The best of the Northwest...

A few of our favorite pictures from our Northwest trip...

Mt. RanierChris & I in front of Mt. Ranier.
Me inside Elliot Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA. We were there for more than an hour! Although it isn't as big as Powell's Bookstore (Portland, OR) which is the world's largest bookstore, I actually enjoyed Elliot Bay better. It's still bigger & better than any bookstore we have around here.
Sign outside of Pike Place Market (such an awesome place!).
Sea lions we saw floating on a buoy in Seattle's harbor. They were fighting here & the little one got thrown off :-(.
Seattle's skyline from the harbor
Cannon Beach, OR
Not the greatest of pictures, but it will always remind us of the frigid water temperatures (no swimming for us!)

Mt. Hood & Mirror Lake, OR

Columbia River Gorge, OR

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"I hope you've had a good day"...

for whatever reason when I'm home in the evenings, I've taken to watching bits & pieces of the 6:30 Nightly News with Brian Williams.

Over the past few nights, I've noticed that I love how he ends each broadcast with:

"I hope you've had a good day"...

It makes me smile!

back on the east coast...

Well, we're back on the east coast after a wonderful vacation.
We're still recovering & geting back to our normal routines.
It's great to go on vacation, but it's always nice to come home again too!
I am so pleased to come home to fall-like weather too.
Fall is my favorite time of the year for so many reasons!
I was in such a fall-like mood Wednesday that I cooked beef stew in the crock-pot & baked cinnamon apples for dinner...yummy!
I'm planning to post some pictures & recap the highlights of our trip this weekend, so come back to check it all out.
Good night!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pacific Northwest bound

We fly out to Portland in less than 48 hours...I'm so excited!!!

Here are some possible souvenirs to bring home that I'll be keeping an eye out for while we're gone:

1) I won't be bringing it home, but you better believe that I'll be having a cup of coffee at the 1st ever, original Starbucks! What should I have...hmmm?

2) Oregon has more than it's fair share of vineyards & wineries...a bottle of Oregon red wine would be a nice souvenir!

3) Powell's City of Books-the largest bookstore in the world is in Portland...I'll definitely be there (probably with a Starbuck's cup in hand!). I'll probably have to buy a book there just to say I did!

4) I have a new interest in pottery. Several stores in & around Portland have pottery made from the ash of Mt. St. Helens...how neat!

5) We'll definitely be hitting up Pike's Market while we're in Seattle. They apparently have great local crafts so who know's what awesome treasures we'll find there!

6) There is a lot of Native American history in the Pacific Northwest. We'd like to pick up another handmade totem pole replica to add to the one we bought in Alaska.

7) And best of all...I plan to take hundreds of pictures to capture all of the amazing thing we see. Pictures are the best souvenirs of all.

Pacific Northwest, here we come...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

apples galore

Chris picked nearly all of the apples from our apple tree on Monday. It seems that there are about 30 lbs. of them thus far! We knew we had to do something with the ones he picked before we leave for Portland this-coming Tuesday. So, today we made 14 jars of delicious apple jelly. It was a lot of work, but it will be worth it!
On other random notes:

-We got almost 5 inches of rain from tropical storm Hanna in about an 8 hour time span!

-About 3 or 4 weeks ago I treated feet & my back to a pair of these Dansko clogs to wear to work. I cannot tell you the amazing difference it has made throughout the day. They were well worth $105!
-My parents wanted to buy me a cedar chest for my 25th birthday. It's something I've wanted for a long time. To make things easier as far as delivery with the distance we are from home, they gave me $ to pick one out. I went yesterday & ordered this beautiful chest. I can hardly wait to pick it up when we get back home from vacation!
-We leave for Portland Tuesday at 6 p.m. We're so looking forward to it!

-Last week I bought Randy Pausch's book, The Last Lecture. It's so inspiring. I think everyone should read it!

Think that's all for now. I'm off to continue the packing process!