Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Great Gummy Incident of 2012

Sorry for a 2nd post today, but I already had the recipes scheduled and I must tell a Mommy fail that happened this morning.  Y'all I was horrified, I mean HORRIFIED at how I took my kid to school today.  It all started when I went in his room at 7:05, already 10 minutes behind and he jumped up holding two fists out saying "gummies".  The last thing we did before bed last night was to take his singulair and vitamin gummies. Well, apparently someone didn't eat his gummies and was planning to save them until later...IN HIS HANDS!  During the night they melted and were all over his hands, face, and HAIR!  This is the kid with the hair of a 10 year old that I can never get to do anything in the morning anyway, WITH GUMMIES IN HIS HAIR!  I didn't have time to give him a bath or wash his hair, so he went to school with matted gummies in his hair.  I was dying every time we passed someone in the hallway and I totally apologized to his teacher immediately at the way my child looked.  Don't judge, you know it happens to all of us sometimes.  :-)
This isn't a good picture, but it was the best I could do after he ran from me and my brush.  While we are on the subject of toddler hair, anyone have any good tips on how to style a little boys hair in the morning?  I need to tame this kid's hair in a bad way, but I'm not ready for him to have a "big boy" cut. :-)

Holiday Recipes: Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli Casseroles

I wanted to share a couple of our favorite holiday staples with you that are two dishes that I make for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

Sweet Potato Casserole (compliments of my good friend and coworker Kim a couple of years ago)

2-40oz canned yams, drained and rinsed
 (I made a double recipe, so there is extra in the picture)
1 cup sugar

1 stick of butter

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/3 cup half and half

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans

I put the drained yams, sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs in a mixer and mix together.  Add half and half, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, gently mix until well blended.  Pour into a greased 9x13 cake pan.  To make the topping mix brown sugar, flour, and melted butter in a small bowl, add pecans.  Cover with topping by just sprinkling the mixture over the potatoes like show in the picture below.  Bake on 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

 Broccoli Casserole (a favorite of our family and one my mom has made as long as I can remember)
2 bunches of broccoli (I've started using 2-3 bags of steamer broccoli florets)
3 cups cheddar cheese
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 sleeve of ritz or town house crackers

Steam broccoli, pour into a greased casserole dish.  In a medium saucepan heat soup and cheese over medium heat until warm and melted and mix together.  I use a little milk to keep it from being so thick and easier to pour.  Pour sauce over broccoli and cover with crushed crackers.  Bake on 400 for 30-40 minutes until warm and bubbly throughout.  (I do not have a picture of this finished, I completely forgot to take one, but it is SO GOOD you will not regret making it!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Things

*This post is not in anyway sponsored or compensated by any of the products mentioned. It is 100% my honest opinion.

It's that time of year again, time to make those Christmas lists and figure out what in this world to buy your friends and family. I always struggle when making my list of what to give those I love, especially my bosses and my parents. I've been wanting to do this list for a couple of years and decided to go ahead and make a list of all the thing I love in an attempt to help those of you struggling to make your gift lists.   Again, this list is purely my opinion and I have in no way been compensated for this review.

1. A bottle of wine, liquor, or coffee.  I tend to not spend a lot of money on my wine and I stick to buying it at my local grocery store. However, I do drink a lot of it, so I have to he cost efficient. :-) My current favorite is the Cupcake brand Cabernet. It is only about $10/bottle and I think it's pretty tasty.
For those that have a Keurig, maybe a box of Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks k-cups. I'm currently drinking DD Peppermint Mocha and it is FABULOUS!  You could always do DD or Starbucks gift cards for teachers and neighbors and even take it an extra step and package them in a cute coffee mug...

2. Tervis, coffee mug, or novelty wine glass or bottle stopper.   In the past 6 months I have found myself using Tervis tumblers for everything (coffee, water, cokes, even beer).   I start out in the morning with coffee, clean it and use it the rest of the day for water.   It is easy to transport to and from my office which is a good little walk.
The past few year my mom has been giving me wine bottle stoppers in my stocking and I've got quite a fun little collection. I love switching them out for the seasons and they are fun to add to a bottle to sit out on my counter.

3. A nice planner. Ok, we all know what a spastic, type A planner I am, but I simply cannot use the calendar function on my iPhone. I HAVE to use a pen and paper (well, either a Pilot G2 pen or Sharpie pen only. Ha!).  Last year I got a great deal on an Erin Condren life planner, but since she isn't going to be running any specials anytime soon, I think this cheap momma is going to be looking elsewhere this year.  I have found some great deals on similar planners on etsy.

4. Pandora charm bracelet. This isn't necessarily a cheap gift, but it is perfect for wives, mothers, adult daughters, and sisters. I had one on my list and my boys surprised me with it a little early. I love that it allows for an easy gift from here on out because the recipient can make a wish list online and it takes a lot of the guesswork out of what to buy next year.  They have a great deal on a bracelet, 2 clips, and a charm in a gift set.

5. Mother's rings and necklaces. The 1st Christmas after Nicholas was born, Michael gave me a necklace with his name and birthstone.
Last year I got a stackable ring with the same plus his date of birth.  I actually wear it daily along with my wedding set.  I get several compliments a week on it!

6. iTunes gift cards.  Any gift cards would make a great gift, but in this day and age, iTunes are awesome!  There is so much you can do with them; songs, movies, apps, etc.

7. Camera lens.  I am in love right now with my additional lens for my camera.  I am still learning and playing with my camera (I've only had it 2 years! Ha!), but I am loving the pictures my f/1.8, 50mm lens takes.  I got this one for Christmas last year and it is fabulous!   I recommend it for anyone looking to take good pictures, but not wanting to pay a fortune for a lens.

8. Britta Beads. We all know that I am obsessed with these beads and I am loving giving them as gifts lately.  I wear my orange and purple beads all the time!  I actually have a couple of more colors on my Christmas list myself. :-)

9. Outlet shopping. Ok, so this isn't actually a gift, but for those of you on a budget and wanting to buy nice things without spending a fortune, I recommend outlet shopping.  I went to a local outlet Thursday night after we finished up Thanksgiving and I bought several good gifts for under $300 (see the next two items).

10. Wristlet to carry instead of a big purse. If you have a Coach outlet nearby check out their wristlets. I was able to get a few for gifts for only $30!  Score for those lucky ladies!!!  (Sorry, no picture!  I don't want to spoil the surprise. :-)

11. Cashmere sweaters and fun scarves.  I not only found outrageous deals at Coach, but found gorgeous cashmere sweaters for $39 at Ann Taylor outlet.  These things are to die for!!!  I actually bought one and my mom bought another to give me at Christmas!  My other obsession this fall has been my ever so fun green sequined scarf.  I got it at NY & Company back in the early Fall to wear to my dad's games and now I wear it all the time.  Pretty sure this combo will be my go to Christmas outfit this year.

12.  Scentsy.  I have been using Scentsy products for about two years and I am hooked.  They are so much better and safer than traditional candles, especially with a nosy, busy toddler in the house.  I love that there is not an open flame and the wax is cool to touch and doesn't burn if you touch it...don't ask how I know! :-)  I have several friends that sell it, so I never run out!

I think that is enough for this year.  Hope I gave you some decent ideas for the ladies on your list.  This was fun for me, so I may be back later with a toddler list and a man list if y'all think you want one, let me know if you would be interested.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Deck The Halls With Glitter, Blue Hued Lights and TVs

It is officially the most wonderful time of the year!!! Since I didn't go to the mall of Friday like usual, I was able to get my house decorated a little earlier than normal. I had Michael and his dad get everything out of the attic on Thursday, so I would be able to get started ASAP on Friday. I slept until almost 9:00 and then Nicholas and I got started decorating the tree in the playroom. I am planning a post later in the season with details and special ornaments from each tree, but for now here is a sneak peek of each tree.

The main tree in the living room is the one I call "the big tree". It is my pride and joy of the Christmas holiday.  It is full of red, green, gold, and brown glitter ornaments, Barbies, Scarlet O'Hara, and Hallmark ornaments.  It wasn't quite finished yet when I took this and I still need to have a bow made and straighten up the topper, but you get the idea.
Nicholas has LOVED going and looking at all of Momma's glitter ornaments.  I took this one last night and I think it is a really cool picture.

Nicholas has a fun tree in his playroom he gets to enjoy while he plays. He helped decorate it and that makes me happy. :/). He also screams "CHRISTMAS TREE!" Every time he sees a tree. My mama heart is just too happy this year!!! Haha!

I started putting one in our room about 3 years ago. I just love the peaceful lights while I'm watching TV and getting ready for bed.

Today was the fun part. Michael hung lights all around our house. I bought these lights 3 years ago on clearance when I was pregnant. Michael wanted LED lights and to me white lights are white lights. Well apparently not in LED. There are warm white and cool white. PSA...if you what them to look like regular lights and be WHITE, get warm. I got cool not knowing there was even a difference and we have lights with a blue hue. I can't use my lights on my garland so I just gave into the spirit and put colored lights around my door...totally against my taste, but it is for the toddler who loves lights, so I guess I'll do whatever. :-)  My husband on a ladder and literally hanging on the roof was not this trauma nurse's idea of a good time, but it sure does look good, even if it is blue.  :-)  So without further delay, here is our blue light winter wonderland.   (we do have a string out above the garage and front door. Replacing those next weekend)

 I would show you a picture of my mantle which I am in love with how I decorated it this year, but our old TV bit the dust last week and the new one is currently sitting on the mantle and the decorations had to be removed until the bracket can be picked up from the shop the old one officially died at.  :-)  Good news is that we now have an awesome TV with 3D!  Last night Michael and I watched the Jim Carrey Christmas Carol in 3D.  Now, that was awesome!  Nothing like flying through 1840s London with a ghost!  Haha!

I am so excited over Christmas this year and all the fun activities we have planned.   We are going to have a very fun, memorable Christmas and I can't wait to blog it all and show you what we have planned!  The 1st activity will be going to see Santa...we will see how that goes next weekend!

Elfie The Elf Is Here!

About 3 weeks ago I ran across the Elf On The Shelf movie at Target and certain toddler has been OBSESSED! He watches the movie once a day, we've read the book about 50 times, and I've even had to get him more "elf books". This kid LOVES elves!

Well, I knew he would be here soon, but I wasn't sure when he would come, but Elfie the Elf is here!!! He came to our house for the 1st time this season yesterday morning. He surprised our family with cinnamon rolls, an elf plate, and a note reminding Nicholas the "rules" of being good and not touching him.

This morning I heard "ELF! ELF!" over the monitor several times. Last night he came back and he brought a night light and Elf On The Shelf pjs for Nicholas! He was actually riding on one of the cars on his lamp when I went in to get Nicholas. That Elfie sure is a funny little elf!

Now, is the Elf working his magic at our house to keep the toddler behaving? Well, one could say possibly. Twice last week I had to pull the "your elf is watching" card. It worked both times. Not sure if it will work all the time, but it's a good start.

Yes, we do Santa, yes, our elf brings gifts, but we make a point to teach Nicholas the true meaning of Christmas.  Nicholas knows that Christmas is all about being Jesus' birthday and not about Santa and elves, this is just a fun bonus.  Does the Elf come to your house?  Do you have any awesome toddler Elf On The Shelf ideas you would like to share?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Memories 2012

Our family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I love Christmas, but Thanksgiving is most definitely my most favorite holiday. I love that it is a day to reflect on all we have to be thankful for, see all of our family in one day, tons of yummy food, and it's the start of the holiday season. I think it is so important over the next few years for Nicholas to understand the meaning behind Thanksgiving and Christmas. We made sure to let him know several times Thursday that it was about family, being thankful, and not parades and shopping (even though we did enjoy both). We had a lot to be thankful for this year as The Lord has blessed us immeasurably over the past year.

We started our day with the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade while mommy and daddy cooked lunch. Nicholas watched last year, but I think he really enjoyed it this year. He laid on our bed and watched for 2 hours.  (please ignore his "cheese" face)  :-)

I die over the cuteness of his outfit. I had trouble getting a good picture, but this one is just Nicholas being Nicholas! :-)

For lunch I put another shirt over his turkey shirt so he wouldn't ruin it before our 2nd stop. I'm glad I did! He did get cranberries and sweet potatoes all over his pants, so we did had a pants change before round 2. Haha!

We had the Ledford family over for lunch. Michael got up at 5:30 and started smoking our turkey and a pork loin. I made dressing, broccoli casserole, sweet potato casserole, corn, cranberry sauce, and green beans. It was so good that I barely could eat anything at our next stop.

I used my Nana's dishes and a few of her accessories along with our everyday glasses and my fine silver.  I think it all looked good on my table and buffet.
It hasn't been Thanksgiving over the past 6-7 years since this glass turkey got retired. I brought him out of retirement this year and I hope N loves him as much as I have over the years. :-)

After we got the house cleaned up, the boys took quick naps and then off to Gigi and Pawpaw's house we went for dinner with my family. By that point we were full and exhausted, so I didn't really take any pictures, which I regret. My Nana and Nicholas had a great time together as usual and he loves her so much. I just can't tell you how much this sweet boy has brightened all of our lives over the last 2 years. This is an example of how our evening went with a certain tired toddler and why there aren't any pictures... Haha!

Here he is after his bath and insisting that he "walk Beez" (walk Beasley).  Poor Beasley kept looking at us like please help me!  

 After we stuffed ourselves some more, we got home and the boys went to bed while Gigi and I took the new mommy mobile for a little mini trip. We went down to the outlet mall about 30 miles away. I am SO glad we did that this year rather than fight Black Friday at the mall, with a cranky toddler. We got there at 9:30 and shopped until 1:55. I got some awesome deals on my holiday soaps at Bath and Body, Ralph Lauren for Michael, some Gap for us, Gymboree for N, Coach for a couple of gifts, and the deal of the night was probably the cashmere Ann Taylor sweater for $39!!! I got everyone on my list knocked out except for a few photo gifts I've got to order. My mom is usually struggling at this point, but got about half of her list knocked out too! It was sooooo worth it and has probably become a new tradition. I have a ton more cargo room in the new car and it was FULL when we left!  That was a sign that we did well! :-)

That sums up our crazy Thanksgiving. It was definitely a wonderful day and we have so much to be thankful for. God has been so good to us this year!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day of Thankfulness

Since today is Thanksgiving, I wanted to finish my 21 Days of Thankfulness with a post to summarize the things I have been most thankful for this year.  I wish I had done a better job of daily posts, but it is just too hard to find the time.  However, lets just be honest. I completely stink at blogging. I knew not to commit myself to a daily post, but I did give it a good try for the 1st couple of weeks.  :-)

I just want to say that on the day where we are supposed to look at all of our many blessings and give thanks, I feel overwhelmed with how very blessed I am.  God has given me a nice warm home, a good job, a wonderful husband that I love more than anything, a precious child that I never imagined could bring such joy and love into our home, parents that do more for me than I could ever do for them, friends that have been my friends for almost all of my life, and a wonderful extended family.  I am a very lucky girl and I took time this morning while drinking my coffee to say a prayer of thanksgiving for those things.

I found a lot of comfort in this scripture when I was in some pretty dark days following our fire and 2nd miscarriage.  I thought of it this morning and I think it is a great way to end my 21 Days of Thankfulness.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Themed Brain Dump

Since thanksgiving is just a few hours away here is my latest brain dump... the thanksgiving edition.

1. Oh my word!!!! I forgot how time consuming and messy a pumpkin roll is to make! That thing can trash a kitchen faster than anything else on my cooking list! However it sure is good to eat, so it's worth it! I made this on Sunday, froze it, and just it got out of the freezer today. I'll slice it in the morning and put it on a platter.

2. I tore my house apart, but FINALLY found my sweet potato recipe my sweet friend Kim gave me a couple of years ago. It was a huge hit at both of our thanksgivings last year, so I made 2 pans again this year, one for each meal. It is my second favorite Thanksgiving dish behind my Nana's dressing recipe.

3. My own personal grill master is going to be getting up around 5:00 am to start smoking our turkey and apparently a pork loin (no clue why he thought we needed that!).  I'll be fast asleep, so hope he has fun with that. :-)

4. I found these cute little place mats on Saturday when I bought the ones for the dining room table. I thought they were perfect for the kiddie table. I may have even bought some more plastic ones for Christmas and some more for the winter to put at our table for daily use. My cousin Koko sold me on that idea and I love it! She is a veteran boy mom and 1st grade teacher so she is a genius on all things wild and messy boy!

5. Who out there also LOVES Black Friday shopping? My mom and I decided to do a little change up to our usual routine this year so we didn't have to take a certain toddler with us. We are going to leave around 8:30 Thursday night and head down to an outlet mall about 30 minutes from my house to be there when they open at 9 and hope to be home by 1 am. That way all we will need to do the next day is Hobby Lobby and maybe Target. Much better than fighting the mall with a cranky toddler.  The other awesome thing is that as of this morning this brand new car is parked in my driveway and I'll get to drive it there.  Goodbye unreliable Nissan, hello shiny new Explorer!

6. I'm a little sad because I feel like this is the last year I'll be able to put Nicholas in smocking (only t-shirts, no longalls at this point). Don't worry though, we have stocked up on holiday smocking and appliqu├ęs. :-) He will be styling some tomorrow and during the Christmas season.  I saw this picture of him the other day from last year.  I can't believe how much he has grown up!!!

7.  I always use my corning ware and formal china for Thanksgiving, but this year I've decided to make it  a little more simple.  I'm using the dishes Nana gave me and foil pans.  I will use the serving dishes for my cranberry sauce, corn, and turkey, but my casseroles have all gone in foil pans.  No shame here, just easy clean up! 

8. I made this banner last year and I try to remember this everyday, not just on Thanksgiving.

Hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving and weekend!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

One Busy Weekend Wrap-up

It has been a busy, crazy, and eventful weekend here at the Ledford household.  We are hosting Thanksgiving for the Ledford family on Thursday, so I've been busting it all weekend to get everything ready.  It all started on Friday night with the annual trip to the grocery store to buy everything for Thanksgiving dinner.  I used all sales and coupons and came out of there with a full Thanksgiving dinner, meals for a week, a case of beer, and bottle of wine for $140!!! WOOHOO!

Saturday I had planned to pick up my mom around 8:30 and head out for some Christmas shopping while Michael and Nicholas had a boys day out.  Wellllllll, as my luck would have it my car wouldn't start and was dead as it could be.  After Michael getting stranded in it twice yesterday, we have decided it is definitely on borrowed time with us.  It has been nothing but trouble lately.  Not sure when, but pretty sure the Mommy-mobile is on it's way out.  Enough is enough!!!

My mom and I did go out and I got some super cute new Fall place mats at Bed Bath and Beyond.  I am LOVING how it all looks on my table.
My sweet boy ended up having to go to Hobby Lobby with us after the second time they got stranded, so I looked in the backseat on the way home and couldn't help but just stare at him when we got home. He looks so sweet when he is asleep. :-)

After we got all of the car mess straightened out (we hope!), Michael and I left Nicholas for the night with his Gigi and Pawpaw  and we went to finish up our Santa shopping and have a nice quiet dinner just the two of us!  We never go anywhere without Nicholas and it was nice to have a date night just the two of us for a change.  We went to Big River which is one of our most favorite local restaurants.  One of my favorite beers is their winter nip and I was excited to get one! 
We also tried an appetizer off the winter menu, because well, nothing says Happy Holidays quite like a plate of fish tacos.  :-)
When we got home the surprises for the day just kept coming, but luckily this was a happy surprise!  Apparently my boys had been to the local Pandora store lately and picked this up for me!!! 
I really think I have the best husband in the world that after he spent literally all day with my craptastic car, humored me with Santa shopping at a busy Toys R Us, then still gave me a "just because" gift.  I sure do LOVE him! :-)

After we got Nicholas this morning we came home and Michael got busy doing some last minute things to get the house ready for Thanksgiving while I did some baking.  I looked around our living room last week and almost passed out at how nasty our rug had gotten, so I borrowed a carpet cleaner and Michael cleaned our rug.  It looks so much better!!! (this is in the garage, but it's amazing what a little shampoo can do!)  
This is the mess in my kitchen right now.  AHHHH!!!!  At least the pumpkin roll is finished and in the freezer!
The baby is still taking a long nap, so I'm going to finish cleaning up my mess and then maybe I can watch a little Hallmark before dinner.  This week is traditionally one of my busiest weeks at work, but I'm just working tomorrow and Tuesday, then I'm off for 5 days!  I can't wait!