Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday

It's November: A time to remember what we are most thankful for, or at least it's the month we choose to ponder our blessings just a little more...
I love this image from The Graphics Fairy.

So in honor of that, here's my list not necessarily in this order:

1. Jesus... I can't bear to put Him anywhere else.
2. My man- he's the love of my life!
3. Austin - You
4. Braaten - guys
5. Melanie - are
6. Grant - the
7. Cooper - best!
8. My Church, Victory Life
9. Coffee in the morning, it's oh so good.
10. Running - it keeps me sane, I'm more fit than I was, and is hard, but fun.
11. My sisters and brother. I don't see them enough.
12. My girlfriends- you are each so very special and you know who you are.
13. Our home- it's warm, cozy, and inviting.
14. Being blessed to be a stay at home mama.
15. Christmas music
16. Books! I love to read a good book.
17. Cake - especially chocolate.
18. Clothes
19. My husband's job
20. Snuggling on the couch with Shawn.
21. Kisses from my children
22. Family laughter around the dinner table.
23. My kitty cats.
24. Charlie, our dog, though he is very naughty.
25. My pastors- such godly men.
26. Life-long friendships.
27. Great lunches with my girlfriends.
28. Homeschooling
29. Taking photos to capture everyday life.
30. Good health.

Wow! There is so much more I could add to this list. I guess it's a reminder to stay thankful daily and not just during one time of the year for 30 days.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HodgePodge - the Christmasy Kind :)

Four hodgepodges til Christmas in case you were wondering.

1.  With that being said I think I need to dive right in to some Christmas related questions, don't you? Which do you prefer-pretty gift wrap with a bow or a pretty gift bag with/without a bow?  What percentage of your holiday gifts are currently (as in right this very minute) wrapped in some form or fashion?

     ** I love a beautifully wrapped gift, but I don't have the time to do every single one that way so I choose to do a hodgepodge, no pun intended, of various types of gift wrapping. I do love a nice gift bag for the sheer convenience of it. My friend, Ginger, wraps every gift with such beauty that I don't want to even open the gift. She has beautiful style and I have picked up a few tips from her. ;) **

2.  What is one item on your Christmas list this year?

     ** My hubby and I have decided to pick a few things out that we would like as a shared gift. He wanted to get a camera lens for me, but I didn't think that wasn't fair since I am not the only one who will use it. It seems more like a family gift or a necessity if you will. I suppose the lens will be a shared gift. He had an idea of getting a gift certificate to a B & B. Sounds dreamy. **

3.  What makes a home?

     ** I think what makes a home is the love that is shared within its walls. My family is my home; Shawn and our 5 blessings. Home is the place you long to be when you've been away from it for awhile, the place that feels safe and cozy and filled with love. **

4.  Motown founder Berry Gordy celebrates his birthday on Hodgepodge Day-November 28th. Are you a fan of the Motown sound?  If so, who's your favorite Motown artist and/or song? Here's a list in case you're stuck.

     ** I'm definitely a fan. I grew up in Hoboken, a melting pot of people of just about every kind. In that type of place you find different styles and tastes. I listened to all kinds of music, but Motown was one that was prevalent in our home. I would have to pick Mercy, Mercy Me by Marvin Gaye. I was surprised not see Luther Vandross who is one of my all time favorites. I remember hearing, "Never Too Much" and a whole host of other songs by him and 'til this day whenever I hear him I think of my brother, Bobby. He has gone to be with the Lord, and I can just see him dancing to Luther, Donna Summers, and the Jackson Five. He later got into hard rock and punk rock. Some of the albums and songs going through my head now are Aqualung by Jethro Tull and any song by the B-52's. But that wasn't a part of this question. :) **

5.  Red or green-which one is more prevalent in your closet?

     ** Probably red... I love the deep red, kind of a scarlet red, but I also love some of the lighter greens. **

6.  True or false-bacon makes it better? If you answered true, what's your favorite dish made with bacon?

     ** TRUE!! For Thanksgiving I felt the need to make Brussels sprouts, which my husband is not a big fan of. I insisted on making them because my mom always did and sometimes carrying on certain traditions is a must. I found this recipe that is to. die. for.! Shawn said, "As long as they taste like this, you can make them whenever you want."

7.  Share a favorite holiday memory.

     ** I can't help but think of my mom especially at this time of year and remember how much she loved Christmas.  My dad would go out and buy the tree from a street corner in a fenced lot or put together the white artificial one we had for a time. The album would be spinning on the record player we had of all the classic Christmas songs. I can just see her singing every word of "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt. I knew every lyric, but at the time, I didn't completely understand them. I do now. Ha! We all decorated the tree and there were a mountain of presents for us seven kids and then some. We didn't have a lot of money, but Christmas never felt like it. **

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

     ** Maybe someone can help me here... Yesterday when I was trying to put pictures up on the post before this one, I ran out of space on Picasa Web Albums to add anymore pictures. What in the world?!! I thought I could keep on adding and adding and now I see there is a monthly fee to add space. No thank you! I went back and deleted pictures that I've put on my blog in the past, and there are many, but they are also sitting in iPhoto. Any help would be appreciated. :-) **

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bountiful Blessings

 For the past 6 or 7 years, Shawn and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our home. Shawn's parents, my brother and sister-in-law (Tim & Jill), and their children, my brother-in-law, Scott, and his two kids, my cousin, Marcus, his daughter, Storm, and my nieces and nephew also come if they can make it.
This year we had 20 plus our 7. We had loads of food, fun, and family time that we look forward to every year.

I get nostalgic each year when it's time to make the candied yams, which was one of my dad's favorites to make, and my mom's yummy stuffing. Shawn brines the turkey the night before and takes full charge over the bird from start to finish. He and Braaten typically make the cranberry bread, but this year Bray did it solo because the Hubs was doing all kinds of other stuff in preparation for our gathering. Melanie made her whole cranberry sauce and the cheesecake. My girls have mad cooking skills! I made the mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, onion, and garlic, cauliflower with a cheese sauce, pumpkin rolls, chocolate cream pie, and a layered jello dessert. My MIL brought her famous pumpkin pie made with butternut squash in place of the pumpkin (mind you, it tastes almost exactly the same), and deviled eggs. Jill brought the green bean casserole, corn which I burned upon reheating, and lots of rolls. Scott brought M & M's and soda. He gets off easy every year because it's just, well, easier. :) People were eating M & M's like they were going out of style. 

A bit of a sour puss, wouldn't ya say? Well, it's understandable. This was the first year Austin wasn't able to be home for Thanksgiving. The restaurant needed all of their bussers with no exception aside from quitting, I guess. He actually had a great attitude about it all, but posed grumpily for me. 

Ah, yes, that's more like it! Smile for your mama. 

As has been customary for the past few years, Jill asked us to take family photos. 
There's Natalie, Bradley, Nicole, Will, Trent, and Anthony. 
They're quite a handsome crew.

Shawn, his mom, Jill, Taylor, Andrew, Marcus, and I all took a leisurely stroll trying to walk off a small portion of the gazillion calories we consumed. On our journey we picked up some road apples as Leona calls them for me to decorate my basement with. I've been tempted to do that before, but never have. Apparently they keep spiders at bay.

My mother-in-law wants a copy of this picture which is the view outside our kitchen window in the back of the house. We took a shot of it before taking pictures of Jill's family. Ask, and you shall receive, Leona. :)

I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving like we did.

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's the little things...

It doesn't take much to make the twins happy. They're fairly easy to please. I love that about them. There is so much that I love about these young fellows.

*They make me laugh- one day my girlfriend and I were shoe shopping. The boys each took one of those teeny tiny foot hose they provide and put them on their heads. They were calling themselves 'lunch ladies'. Now that's funny! I don't care who ya are.

*They kiss me good morning everyday without fail.

*They greet each day with extreme joyful, enthusiasm. I wish I always did that.

*They are incredibly helpful.

*They are very handsome and make their mama proud.

*They surprise me with breakfast or lunch on occasion. They might even concoct a smoothie that contains pudding in it and let you know the ingredients after you sucked it down.

*They create some mean Lego creations. I love their wild imaginations.

*They do some not-so-fun chores without complaining. Most times.

*They help take care of Jack, my friend's 4 year old boy. I love that little guy, too.

Grant and Cooper have been asking me for these "Zoo Pals" for awhile now. They are plates with animal faces on them. They were really excited after they saw them. I love how they appreciate the little things.