Friday, September 30, 2011

Comfort Food

I would categorize the following two recipes simply as comfort food. They are both easy crockpot recipes. I really look forward to the cooler Autumn weather when I can cook up big pots of soup, chili, or stew and have it waiting on me when I get home!

Speaking of, I did that this past weekend with this new recipe from
this post from Thrifty Decor Chick. It was great for a Sunday too. I started up the crockpot before church, then came home from children's choir to have it ready. Zach fixed his famous cornbread to go with it, and it was wonderful!

Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 carrot, chopped ( I used a small can of mushrooms instead)
- 1 box Rice-A-Roni Long Grain & Wild Rice
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup (one stick) butter
- 2 cups (1 pint) Half & Half

Put chicken, broth, water, mushrooms, & wild rice (with seasoning packet) in crockpot & stir. Cook on Low for 8 hours, or on High for 4 hours. Around the 2-hour mark, break apart chicken pieces.

When done, in a small bowl, mix flour with salt & pepper. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. In small amounts, add flour mixture to butter. Stir to create a roux.
(Love that word.) :)

When mixed, slowly add in Half & Half in small amounts. (I poured in really small amounts, all while stirring.) Fully mix- it will be a gravy-like mixture. Then, add roux mixture to crockpot mixture & cook on Low
for 15 minutes.

You may also add more broth to thin soup. (I added about a cup more of broth, and it was perfect.)
It serves about 8 good bowl fulls, I believe. Plenty for both of us for two meals & some to Mom. :)

I took a quick picture of the soup when it was done:

I mixed mine with Zach's cornbread, and it was so good!!

The second recipe, I picked up from a Facebook group called Crock Pot Girls. If you haven't checked out their page yet, you need to! They have tons & tons of crockpot recipes, along with lots of photos, which I love. I tried this one out a couple of weeks ago, and we both loved it! Their name for it was "Manly" Beef Stew, but my version was "Manly" Beef Pasta. It is "manly" because it has no veggies. Who needs healthy carrots & potatoes anyway? :) I am planning on trying out more of their recipes soon. I realize I don't use my crockpot enough!
They are a working girl's best friend, you know!

"Manly" Beef Stew

- 1.5 lb. beef stew tips (This would probably serve 3 good helpings, so use more if needed)
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup (golden mushroom is recommended)
- 1 can cheddar cheese soup
- 1 packet Lipton beefy onion soup mix (I didn't even know the beefy onion mix existed)

Put all ingredients in the lovely crockpot, stir, and cook on low for 8 hours. Serve over rice or pasta.

How much easier can you get?? It is so great to walk into the house at the end of the day and smell this cooking, just knowing you can eat in a few minutes! I used egg noodles, which took no more than 10 minutes to cook, and poured the stew over them, mixing it up. It was delicious!

Hope everyone has a great weekend! It looks like I have a weekend of shopping, football & church, so I'm a happy girl! :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quick Change Artist

The "quick change artist" I'm referring to is my best project friend, spray paint. Just wanted to share some Before & Afters of easy, quick transformations in a matter of minutes,
simply made with spray paint. 

This is the third time I have purchased candlesticks at the thrift store. Why do I always have to get these??
I just can't turn them down if they're in good shape.
These were brassy & looked old-fashioned
when I bought them:

Now, they're an updated, bright silver:

(You can tell I did these forever ago- the "J" on the china cabinet is gone & the rugs have been replaced with new ones.
I like looking back at old pictures & seeing changes.)

These were the ones I used for my "headless horsemen" here:

I still laugh when I look at them. :)

I may hit these with the blue spray paint I had mentioned in my post here. That's the beauty of spray paint- if you don't like it, get tired of it, or just want a change, you can spray it with new!

These napkin rings were bought on one of my very first trips to the thrift store many months ago. They were $1.00 for the set of 6, so I couldn't resist. They are were an ugly mauve,
and some have had blemishes:

I have had the idea for their transformation for a while. I really want to finish them off by painting a silver "J" monogram on each one, but I'm not that good. I am too much of a perfectionist to free-hand letters & I couldn't find the right stencil,
so I will do without for now.

I sanded the heck out of them, most of the ugly pink/mauve paint came off & the blemishes were no more. I then sprayed them all with a golden metallic paint. So easy! These will look great with my gold chargers, especially at Christmas time!

I think they look so much better than the old, darker wooden ones I had before...

Anyway, just a quick post to show my love for spray paint.
Today is Mamaw Ruth's 91st Birthday!! It's her first birthday without my dad in 55 years, so say a little prayer for her today!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Calendar Vinyl

Yet another No-Spend July project that I have just recently wrapped up! Let me tell you, I have had the stuff for this project for a really long time. I think I was honestly just a little nervous to use the vinyl. I was so afraid I wouldn't get it on straight! It did turn out to be a pain in the you-know-what, trying to get it straightened, lined up, all while smoothing out the air bubbles, but I love the way it turned out!

I had ordered a cute little calendar vinyl from a GroopDealz email a long time ago. This is the second time I have ordered something from them, and I love how it works,
not to mention the great deals!

I had the project finished, but then wanted to change it up.
So, I'll do a little something different here and go ahead
and show you the final product...

I love it!!

Starting off, I knew I would have to find something to put the decal on. The instructions that came with the vinyl said it could be placed right on the refrigerator, but I knew how that would end up. We would have a white fridge covered in dry erase marker that I would constantly be cleaning. I always want to try to repurpose something I already have instead of buy something new, if at all possible. (Keep in mind, this began as a No-Spend July project). So, I rummaged around the junk room guest room for something to use and found this little prize:

Haha! This was taken over 8 years ago now, by the way. Ugh, makes me feel old! Needless to say, this hasn't been hung up on a wall in a long time. It came from Zach's old room at his dad's house. Aww. :) I took the photo & glass out, spray painted the frame in black (free, taken from Mom's- also used on the jewelry tray makeover project) and covered the backing with red posterboard ($1 for 2 at the lovely Dollar Tree),
then stuck the vinyl on the cleaned glass. 

Here are the steps:

I removed the glass from the frame first and cleaned it. Then, I spray painted one coat of Krylon Gloss Black on the frame.
One coat was all it took.

Then, I had to find a large enough piece of paper for the backing. I was perusing the Dollar Tree and found posterboard. I wanted it red to give it a little color. I then carefully stuck the vinyl on the glass (easier said than done).

I looked at it, and kept thinking about changing up the background paper. I really wasn't loving the bright red in the area I had planned to hang it up. It's so easy to change up the background too, if I ever want to change it again in the future. Who knows, if I'm feeling really crafty, I could use coordinating scrapbook paper and decorate for all seasons. Ha, big "IF."

I remembered the lovely zebra print paper that I have used on many projects already, including the projects here, here and here. Love that linky tool. :) So, that brings us to finished product once again...

I'm wanting to create a little organizational hub in the laundry room- somewhere to put loose important papers & keep up with important dates. One laundry room wall is completely empty & it's the perfect place, because it is usually only seen by me & Zach. So, my calendar is now waiting to be hung up in our laundry room (ahem, Zach), along with a framed corkboard that I bought probably about a year ago now. Things aren't hung up on the walls in our house very often, as you can tell. :)

Wouldn't these look great hung up on the wall near each other? Maybe soon! :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Roll Tide!!!

I am so happy to say that I have gotten back into my crafting groove after vacation. Maybe that was just what I needed to get out of my rut. Last night, I both started & finished the Bama door hangers for me & Mom that I had mentioned in an earlier post.
It felt so good to paint & get my hot glue gun heated up again.
I hope to keep it up!

I'm so excited about this easy little craft that I'm going to go ahead & post a pic of the finished product first off...

Love! :)

So, I guess I took the easy way out on this project, but Mom & I still like the finished product. I wanted to sketch out the actual script "A" onto burlap or some material like that, but I got lazy.
I found these letters at Hobby Lobby instead:

I also grabbed up some pretty crimson acrylic paint
while there too:

I went to town painting the "A's". This shows after just one coat:

I ended up painting three coats, to give it a richer crimson color.
I used the houndstooth ribbon & bows that we had from one of Dad's gorgeous arrangements. I'm so glad we're getting to use some of the things from his arrangements. I would much rather have them to enjoy than to have thrown them away.

And here they are, in all their Bama glory...

Love that side view!

I hope to post Zach's Disney pics soon!! We took so many really good ones- my favorites are the ones of the beautiful castle & us with the characters we got to meet! As I mentioned in my last post, it was a perfect trip- we got to do everything we wanted to do...except relax. But, it was worth every minute!

And, just to stick with the Alabama theme, I wanted to include a pic that Zach took of us before the first Alabama football game
of this season. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Magical Anniversary Trip

WARNING: Picture Overload :)

Do you want to be treated like royalty on your special occasion (birthday, anniversary, etc.)? Then simply go to Walt Disney World! We had an AWESOME time on our trip! It was our best Disney trip yet. We were able to fit everything in that we wanted to do, and even a few things we had never done before! We got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, and the Disney princesses!! We wore our "Happy Anniversary" pins, which gave us countless shouts of "Happy Anniversary!" everywhere we went, and we even scored a few free things, including yummy desserts!
It was, in one word, MAGICAL!

We went to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party & loved every minute of it! We saw the parade with the headless horseman that actually rode on Main Street on his horse- amazing! We took the candy trails and were handed loads of yummy candy.
We both filled our bags full!

I would have to say my favorite part was getting to meet the characters. I couldn't believe we had never done this before, as many times as we have been, and it was so easy! We waited until the afternoon, I guess when most of the kids had already crashed for the day, so we were only in line (in an air conditioned room) about 10 minutes. We met Mickey & Minnie, which was so fun, Cinderella (my favorite princess!), Belle from Beauty & the Beast (Zach's favorite :) ) and Sleeping Beauty (Aurora, I think it is).
We had met Donald Duck earlier that day.

We also both got to be the "spies" on Star Tours (we had our picture on the screen during the ride)- I couldn't believe we BOTH got picked to do this at two separate times! We were shown on the big screen during the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor comedy routine. This is our second time to be shown on the big screen, which was really neat. We also were called on by a "cast member" (Disney employee) to come up to the front before the Hall of Presidents show. The sweet guy said he had a phone call for us, so we both picked up the phone and listened to Mickey & Minnie wishing us a Happy Anniversary. It was so cute! He then asked us our names and he wrote them out, along with "Happy 3rd Wedding Anniversary" in beautiful calligraphy on a Disney card that said "You will always remember this day at the Magic Kingdom."
I can't wait to frame that!

I wanted to include some of our favorite pics. These were all taken on my phone, but Zach took his camera along, so more awesome pics are on the way. Plus, we really took advantage of our PhotoPass (we get a free photo book included in the package), and those turned out great. We'll post those once we get them! Also, Facebook now has a public link you can use for all photo albums, so if you want to check all of my phone photos out,
here are the two links:

The Fall decorations made me want to go home
& add to mine some more!

Zach's favorite- The Haunted Mansion

Me & my sweetie about to go enjoy our anniversary dinner

Zach got to meet Chip...or Dale

He also learned how to play this thing...

On the Magical Express, about to leave :(

My favorite- Tower of Terror

We LOVE this!

And, you can't forget the yummy food...

Zach's dinner at Fulton's Crab House- Lobster Naragansett

...and mine, Alaskan King crab legs- nothing better!

Crabcake California roll...yum!

One of our FREE desserts from Kona Cafe. We loved this!

Burger with shrimp...yes, please!

Another FREE dessert :)

Courtesy of Pecos Bill...

Yummy Mickey

Sorry so many, but I hope you all enjoyed them! I will try to post the others (especially the ones of us meeting the characters) soon!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Roasted Chicken & Veggies

Just a quick recipe post! We're back from our anniversary trip and still recovering. We had so much fun, and I will post pics soon!
We got to do everything we wanted to do- and more-
so we're very happy!!

I saw this recipe (well, a similar one to this) in my new Real Simple magazine. I get so giddy when I have a new magazine come in the mail. We had our mail piled up from when we were on vacation, so I had three magazines waiting for me
when I got home! It made coming home a little easier. 

I say it was a similar recipe, because I tweaked it a little bit. I tried it out last night, and we both LOVED it! It is so incredibly simple, and it's basically a one-pan meal, so that's always nice.

Roasted Chicken & Veggies
  • Chicken pieces (I used chicken breasts)
  • Veggies (I used potatoes, onion & mushrooms. Other options could be carrots, broccoli, peppers, etc.)
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic (I used minced garlic)
  • Thyme (I used just enough to lightly sprinkle all over)
  • Salt & pepper
All you do is spray the baking/roasting pan (I used aluminum foil- less staining), then set the chicken & veggies all around. Coat evenly with olive oil, sprinkle garlic & thyme, then salt & pepper to taste. Lightly toss.

Cook at 425 for about 35-45 minutes, until chicken is done & veggies are tender. You only toss one time while cooking. I waited until the 20 minute mark, and it worked perfectly.

And, I couldn't leave out pictures. It makes it more interesting. Sorry, more phone photos:

It was so easy and incredibly yummy!! I am so excited that I now have a new recipe to add to the "rotation." I've never been a big chicken fan (I would take beef or fish over it any day), but this makes it so tender & flavorful. Let me know if you try it out!

So, other than that, that's about it for an update since we've just gotten back. I don't think we've totally caught up on our sleep yet, so we're not getting much done around the house. I did come home to a clean house though (thanks to me busting my you-know-what right before we left), so it's not that bad. We're just looking forward to the next trip now! Oh...and Roll Tide!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Our 3 Year Anniversary

We are headed to Disney SOON!! I can't tell you how excited I am- to spend time with Zach, to enjoy some time off, and to be at our favorite place on Earth! There are no worries when we go to Disney. It's awesome! The fun, the food, and the quality time- nothing better! September is a wonderful time to go, too. The weather is cooler than in the Summer months, and the crowds are so much smaller. I hope to have some fun posts and pics when we get back. We are picture-taking fools when we go on trips!
Anyway, on to the mushy stuff :) ...

I can't believe tomorrow we will celebrate our THREE Year Anniversary!! Zach's sister gave me the idea for my post. She posted on her blog recently about their anniversary (7 years!), and wrote a little bit about their wedding day. I haven't really revisited that on here before, so I am taking the opportunity
to do that now. Hope you enjoy!
And if you get bored, just skip down to the pictures.


Our first date was on February 8, 2002. We enjoyed the last part of his Senior year together, and went to two proms together (his Senior year and my Senior year). That part of our relationship was long-distance during the week, when Zach went to BSC in 2002 and I was a Senior in high school,
but he came home every weekend. :)

Fast forward to December 31, 2007. We went to Disney for a little vacation. I didn't think too much into it, because we had traveled together some already. We went to Florida for New Year's every year to visit his mom, and had been to Disney
a couple of times before.

I kept thinking the entire trip that maybe, just maybe, it would happen. Then, when it did, I couldn't believe it! It was New Year's Eve (Magic Kingdom was a little crowded, to say the least), and it had rained some that day. But, it was still beautiful. Their slogan that year, seen all around us, was "Where Dreams Come True." How true!! Cinderella Castle was covered in sheets of twinkling lights from Christmas, and the fireworks show for New Year's was out of this world. Near the end of it, with both of us standing in front of the castle, Zach asked me,
"Will you spend the rest of your life with me?" :)

We were married on September 13, 2008, at Canyon Ridge Club in Rising Fawn, GA. Zach had actually picked out the place, and I couldn't have been more in love with the location for our wedding and reception.

Our wedding day was as close to perfect as you can get in my book. The weather was breezy but warm. Everything came together, just as it should be. I didn't even feel nervous like I thought I would. We were surrounded by our family & friends, and it was simply sweet.

Right in the midst of our engagement & wedding planning, we had just left our old church. It was the church that I had grown up in, and where I had always attended, even in the womb. We knew we hadn't wanted our wedding held there anyway, but felt like we didn't want the wedding held at our new church either. We had both thought about an outdoor wedding. So, he mentions Canyon Ridge, we go check it out one Saturday afternoon, and we were hooked. (It did take a little persuading of my mom,
but she quickly fell in love with it too.)

I had so much fun with the details. Mom helped me a lot on those- not that Zach didn't help any, he just wanted me to make the decisions on the little things. He knew that's what I liked to do. Our wedding planner, Linda Troxtel and her friend Kayrn, were absolute life savers! I cannot tell you how happy I was that we decided to hire a planner. I know they handled a lot of stress that would have otherwise been all on me. Our caterer was Slade Carden (who now owns his own store, Tiger Lily), and it was absolutely wonderful! We picked out exactly what we wanted- shrimp cocktail, chicken fingers, a mashed potato bar with goodies (yum!), etc.- and it was all so good! The three of these awesome people collaborated on our flowers and decorating also, which was an added bonus.
They are some of the most talented people on the planet!

Everything seemed to just start off without a hitch. The ceremony was short & sweet, just as we wanted it to be. I remember at one point, standing there with Zach, and I felt the breeze blowing.
It was perfect.
That's the only word I can use to describe the entire day.

Our best friends, Shad & Carrie Smith, were a big part of our day. Shad was our officiant (our current pastor, Dr. Pat McFadden, said our prayer at the end of the ceremony), and Carrie sang "I Will Be Here" for us. Beautiful! Our wedding party was a great mix of family & close friends, and either one of us couldn't have asked for better help & support from them.

Our photographer was patient, creative & talented. I am planning on purchasing a CD of all of our prints soon. I cannot wait! Our first dance was to "Steady As We Go," by Dave Matthews Band (who else, coming from Zach?), and we both played a mix of songs from our iPods at the reception.

The only thing I can say I regret about our wedding is that we didn't invite more people. We really limited ourselves because of the limited seating, but we realized later on that we should have invited everyone anyway. We were so touched by all the people that traveled far (many from out-of-state)
to share in our day with us.

I can only remember just a few snapshots from the day, as it is with most brides. We didn't get to eat much at the reception, but my sweet Mom and planners packed us some goodies for the road. We popped shrimp all the way to the hotel in Atlanta,
until we were absolutely stuffed.

I do remember getting really upset when I had to tell Dad "bye," right before we left. Little did I know...
Isn't it weird how you notice little things like that along the way?...

We stayed at the Renaissance hotel in Atlanta, with the airport at our balcony door. We left bright & early the next morning for St. Thomas. Our honeymoon was also a fairy tale.
What more could you ask for??

It is unbelievable to think that we have been together for 9 years! Every one has been absolutely wonderful! We have had difficult times and good times, as all couples do. He has been with me through the happiest times in my life, and the most difficult time I have ever been through and ever hope to go through. We have survived the death of my dad, the death of his grandfather, but we also rejoiced together at the births of two nieces, and the beginnings of so many new friendships. We are enjoying our time together so much right now, and we love to travel & have time away together every chance we get. We love our two dogs like children, and they fill our lives with so much fun & laughter. We look forward to having a little family someday, and hope to be the best Christian examples as parents we can be. I am excited to have a little part of me and a little part of him to fill our lives with even more love & joy.

Now, for the fun! :) (Sorry so many- it is impossible for me to narrow these down!)

This is one of my favorite pics of us of all time. This was at our wedding rehearsal.

The details were wonderful!

All coming together!
My handsome husband

 The happiest bride on Earth

Seeing each other for the first time on our wedding day!

Love this one!

This pose was my idea! :)

My sweet family, now incomplete

Zach's family, now my family too!

Our wedding party. Love this cute pose!

The kiss!

Our gorgeous, yummy cake

About to leave

Some honeymoon shots...

Our first day there

The view from our balcony

Zach & an iguana...they were everywhere!

The view of our pool from our balcony

Me & my sweetie on the beach

Downtown St. Thomas

Eating out

So glad we took a lot of photos of us!

My favorite!

I was so tan back then! Ugh...

On the ferry, about to go to downtown St. Thomas

This rainbow was in the sky our last morning there. I had totally forgotten about it until I saw this.

It was so fun to look through these pictures again!
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