Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Holiday Spirit's coming around.

The lights are up on the house, and they look... um, okay.  If you ask me in front of my husband I will tell you that they are the most amazing, perfectly hung, (ummm... that's.what.she.said) lights EVER.  A little ego brushing never hurt a marriage, mkay?  I'm just trying to ensure he'll do it again in another 360ish days.

Our Christmas cards are done.  We're not too religious in this house, but I'm never going to pass up an opportunity to whore my beagle out to family and friends.  They can judge up, down, and sideways, but I love it.  They will be mailed later this week.

Now, I will shamelessly whore out my beagle to complete strangers on the internet.  (These are the photos used on our cards):

(the caption for this one reads "Be Merry") bahahaha. 

Here are a few other photos I've taken over the last few days around the house and for Cooper's photo shoot:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Who knew hanging lights sucked this hard?

Growing up, my dad took care of the exterior of the home.  This included mowing, weeding, seeding, pool maintenance, and Christmas light hanging.  He made it look so easy.  Little clips onto your shingles  that hold the light and BAM, your house is lit up like a skyscraper in about an hour.  Easy.  

We started the process of hanging our lights last night.  Being the first year we're in a house, The Husband took measurements and we had everything all mapped out before we even went to the store.  We ran around town yesterday morning to get all of the finishing touches.  I was so excited to help The Husband with one of our first holiday traditions in our home.  Two hours, and a lot of cursing later... this is what we ended up with.

It's (maybe) halfway done.  I just couldn't stand it any more.  This was a solid 2.5 hours of work.

Our house is really freakin' tall and The Husband is incredibly scared of heights.  Getting each one of the lights up was like pulling teeth.  The clips didn't hold correctly, our singles are too thick, male vs. female ends, the ladder being extended, then shortened, then A-framed, then higher A-frame.... uuuuuuugh.  It sucked.  Hard.

We're going to make attempt number two tonight.  Hopefully we can just get this done.
The Husband has already mentioned hiring someone to take care of this next year.  We're just not cut out for this....

 You can see here that we didn't add correctly, and the lights don't go all the way to the edge of the angle.  

 I'm hoping this part will be easier as it's straight... and there are gutters.  

Oh, and just for fun... here's a symbolic photo of our night.  Two fallen lights.  That we just left because climbing the ladder one.more.time. to fix them might have send either one of us over the edge.  

Yay holidays. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The turkey and I have something in common.  We're stuffed.

As I write this blog post, The Husband and my Mother-in-law are doing the dishes and cleaning up the aftermath.  Life is good.

The food was a HUGE success.  I am certainly no Martha... but I put on a pretty dang good act today {if I do say so myself}.  Here is photographic evidence of the deliciousness.

The Turkey in all it's glory.  What a pretty birdie.  

The ingenious contraption The Husband made on "the fly" to keep the turkey nice and warm while it rested.  Yes, those are chip clips.  We improvised.  

Gravy.  (This was a last minute addition to the menu.  I used this recipe, but you need to make this turkey to make it happen)

This is the carrots, celery and onions that were in the bottom of the roasting pan for the turkey.  They were pretty ugly, but had a really nice flavor from all the basting.  

My oven was quite full all morning.  This photo was taken in the last 10 minutes of cooking.  I had slowly added meals in - and was so lucky that they all required the same temperature.  

Sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, walnuts and honey.  This was SO good!

Make Ahead Mashed potatoes.  Had a bit too much salt (for me), but that was my own fault.  The Husband loved them. 

Broccoli Cheese Casserole.  A tradition in my family and just as good every year.  

Yeast Rolls.  Light, flaky, and yummy. 

My plate, moments before I dug in.  

And for desert... Pumpkin Pie.

The aftermath in my kitchen.  I'm so "thankful" for people that volunteer to do the dishes after a big meal.  I'm so tired!

If you are curious about any of the recipe's I used today... see my last post for links.
All photos posted above are from my camera.

The Husband is now asking for me to get up and assist his attempt to climb on the roof to measure the length of lights we will need for decorations.  So much for a nap...  

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Due to some unforeseen family drama (don't y'all just loooooove that?  Especially around the holidays.  (eye roll).  Due to this, The Husband and I are hosting our very first holiday, ever.  

My immediate family all live (in the same city) 4.5 hrs away, The Husband's family all lives about 3.5 hrs away, forcing us to pick between our families for each major holiday.  Several years ago we worked it out to do a Thanksgiving/Christmas swap.  If we traveled to his family for Thanksgiving one year, we went to mine for Christmas - and vise versa the next year.  Which our families we really happy about... but we pretty much hate (only because of the traveling).  We are never home and holidays are full of driving, sleeping on uncomfortable beds, worrying about Cooper touching anything at my mom's house, etc.  Many people suggested we do a "faux" Holiday the weekend before so the events could individually be shared with both families... but that would pretty much wipe out every free second in November/December - so we only celebrate on the actual day, with that family.  

With said drama going down, we offered The Husband's mom to come to our house the weekend before Thanksgiving and we would celebrate with her before we hauled ourselves to my house (which is tomorrow!).  I am going to be responsible for 99% of the cooking and preparing.

I just returned from the (madhouse) grocery store where I promptly spent and entire week's food budget on one meal.  Thanksgiving isn't cheap, y'all.

My Thanksgiving Menu is as follows:

Deviled Eggs
Raw Veggies
Assortments of dips for said raw veggies

Main Course:
(photo from Real Simple)
Recipe In Link

Broccoli Cheese Casserole 
(photo from here, but I do not use their recipe!)
My recipe for Broccoli Cheese Casserole:
Long Grain White Rice (not instant!)
Frozen Broccoli
1 can of Cheese Whiz (not the spray, the can)
1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup

Instructions:  Cook Rice per instructions to serve 8.  Cook Broccoli on stove top per instructions.
Combine Rice, Broccoli and Cheese Whiz.  Mix in large bowl.  Stir in approx 3/4 of the can of cream of mushroom soup.  Pour into a large casserole dish.  You can refrigerate at this time if you want to cook ahead.  Or place into a preheated oven (350 degrees) for around 30 minutes to heat fully and brown the top just a bit.

(Photo and Recipe from link)

(Photo and Recipe from link)

Dinner Rolls
(photo from here)
I buy the frozen rolls that rise over 4-5 hours.  They are so fluffy and taste great.  I would share the brand that I use, but I just realized that I forgot to buy these at the store (arrrrrrrgh)... so I will have to return with that information once I get brave enough to enter the craziness that is HEB.  

Pumpkin Pie
(I use the recipe found here)
(photo from here)

It's going to be a carb-fest and I cannot wait.  
I have already made the pumpkin pie and broccoli cheese casserole, as those things can sit for a night.  I'm even going to do the potatoes before I go to bed.  That will only leave the turkey, veggies, and rolls to complete tomorrow morning.  I'm thinking it's totally manageable and I'm loving the possibilities for make ahead foods!  
Have any suggestions for last-minute additions to the menu?  I'll be sure to return next week with my own photos from our meal!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bathroom Repairs.

This is what is currently in the playroom: 
Yea.  That's a bathtub.  That at one time was in the guest bath.  
But not anymore.

I noticed a small spot in the guest bath around the drain.  It looked like the finish of the tub was peeling up.  I called that handy-dandy home warranty and they came to take a look.
Apparently the porcelain was cracked from the drain being screwed in too tight??

That means they had to rip out a large percentage of the tile surround and the tub.  It made a huge mess.  They have already replaced the tub, but the tile won't be fixed until later this week.  
I'm going to walking through this house with a fine toothed comb before our one year warranty is up!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cold Blooded Killer.

A few weeks ago at about 9pm he "asked" to go outside to potty.  He ran through the backyard at a full sprint and then I saw something in his mouth.
Oh sh!t.  He caught a bunny.  
Cooper was gleaming with pride.  I know it's difficult to imagine a dog looking proud... but you could just tell.  He was pumped and walked with an extra bounce in his step. I tried not to cry and The Husband took care of the rest.  The Husband showered him with praise because he did "what he was born to do".  Ugh, whatever.  I moved on.

...until the next day when it happened again.

After the second death, we invested in chicken wire and wrapped it along the wrought iron part of our fence.  We hoped no more innocent creatures would enter the beast's domain.
For a solid month the chicken wire did it's part.
Armadillos stayed away and the bunnies lived to see another day.

Yesterday he was out in the yard sunbathing.   We were inside doing... who knows what.  Cooper started barking and I assumed it was a deer that passed by, or an animal in the greenbelt.  However, the barking didn't stop.  When I finally went outside and looked over the deck I saw a snake in the flower beds, and Cooper had it cornered up against the house.  ::cue screaming for The Husband::

One Husband and One shovel later... The snake didn't live to tell the tale of the beagle beast.
I'm so thankful Cooper didn't get bit, although after the killing we did some research and discovered it was a Hog Nosed Snake (not venomous).   

Sorry all you snake lovers.  He was hissing at my beagle... and he had to go.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Life in fast forward.

I feel like I'm living life in fast forward these days.  I can't seem to find the minutes to sit down and indulge my blog.  The last post was about Fall decor, and so much has happened since then.  I'm working on a few posts to play catch up over the next few days.  

This is the bush in the front yard that didn't survive the summer.
The coolest part about buying a new home, is that you call the warranty people when your plants die... and they replace them.  For free.  

My fall wreath (that I stole from my sister's wedding decor), and our creepy spider webs.  

$2 worth of webs really gives the effect

Roasted pumpkin seeds.  Nothing screams fall more than these!

Growing up, my family was not big pumpkin carvers.  Not sure why.  My guess is that my mom never trusted any of us with sharp objects.  I found a pattern online and this was my very first pumpkin.  I think it turned out great. 

I had so much fun doing pumpkin #1, The Husband and I attempted a much more advanced pattern.  This took us at least 2.5 hours but I think it's totally adorable.  We are obsessed with our beagle... and clearly, not afraid to show it.  

We were very prepared for trick-or-treaters.  Too bad we only had ONE.  
With our subdivision being almost brand new (within the 'master planned community') we only have a couple houses in the whole area.  Out of those houses, only one family has a child... so that's who stopped by.  The Husband and I have been working on getting this bowl to the bottom.  I anticipate we will have a complete success within the next two weeks. 

Halloween is over... I'm going out on a limb and saying 'BRING ON CHRISTMAS!'.

(No, I didn't forget about Thanksgiving... But I'm so excited about Christmas, I can hardly wait to start decorating!!)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall will come eventually...

So I want to be prepared.

In Texas, we're still holding on at an average of 90 degree highs.  I keep wishing the yellow and brown colors that have blanketed Texas were because has arrived... but sadly, it's just overcooked lawns, trees, and plants.  I'm sad to report there has been a confirmed fatality of a bush in our front yard.  I'll blog about the loss another day.

When you go to the major stores they have had fall supplies out since early September (as I assume most places... it's not still summer).  At first it irked me, as Christmas decor in October does, but I finally decided I would roll with it and hopefully my decor would encourage the weather to change seasons.

Our front door at night.  Note the pumpkin door mat. 

The display nook in the entry way.  I moved some candles off the mantle to help with the Halloween feel of the pumpkin.  I bought several of these pumpkins at Target.  They plug in and there is a small light bulb in the back.  Genius.  

This is the awesome shadow it makes on the opposite wall at night.

Mantle.  The pumpkins are faux and purchased at target.  The cinnamon broom makes my whole house smell like fall and I love that it resembles a witches broom.  The jack-o-lantern on the right is another plug in from Target.  

The fall season makes me want to get my bake on.  These will come in handy.  

Yet another faux pumpkin in the kitchen nook.  

The Husband and I also picked out a super cute bowl for Halloween candy and some fake spiders web to string over our front window and door.  I'm hopeful we'll get trick-or-treaters this year!  Too bad we're still kind of alone in the back of the neighborhood... so I doubt we'll get too many.  However, I will be prepared in the event of a ghost or goblin knocking at my door.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Texas is in an extreme drought.
As in, I can't remember the last time I saw rain.  It's been months.  Droughts bring fire.  

The fires are thankfully, for the most part under control... but there was one about 10 miles from our home.  It was close enough that we sat down at 11pm and decided was what most important and put it in a suitcase.

It's amazing, and humbling, that The Husband and I can have this beautiful home full of wonderful things - but the *real* stuff can just fit into one suitcase.  
Photos from our childhoods and wedding, IDs, Passports, External Hard Drive, my camera, a few home videos, and our insurance/closing documents.  That's all we actually need, although we're surrounded by all this stuff.  
It puts things into perspective... quickly.  

Thankfully, the fires didn't get close enough to be a major concern.  We feel very fortunate.  These photos were taken from our street.  Some, just from right outside the front door.  

This fire (below) is over 33 miles away.  The smoke was intense.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Furniture lay-out for dummies.

We have made some (very) small steps towards a furniture decision.  
We found a couch and chair we really liked at a local store.  It was enough to get us home to tape out the possibilities in the living room.  I am very visual, and I was hoping this would help the husband pull the "trigger" on the purchase.  

large rectangle centered on the back wall = couch
small square near the kitchen = end table
angled square near the back door = chair
rectangle in front of the couch = ottoman
square perpendicular to the ottoman = chair #2

view from the kitchen:

view from the extended entry way:

view from the back door:

 So you can see the space between the furniture and tv:  

After all of that... we decided the couch wasn't for us.  Neither was the chair.  We're still on the hunt for the *perfect* couch... but I'm feeling like we're getting closer as we're getting a clearer idea each time we shop.  

We also decided that the above floor plan didn't work as well as we hoped.  Chair #2 (perpendicular from the ottoman... near the kitchen) made things feel too blocked off.  We decided that if/when we actually purchase chair #2, it will live up against the wall, right next to the tv.  This allows for conversation and creates more space near the kitchen.  Oh, and we also decided that the couch wasn't large enough for our liking.  We will end up with something a bit deeper and longer than what has been taped out on our floors.