Friday, November 30, 2012

Parade, Penguins & Parties

Dear Penguins: Thanks for coming to my office and decorating for Christmas. I love seeing all of your cute faces, and you did such a great job! Feel free to invite a few more of your friends to come before the season is over. We always welcome more penguins around these parts.

Dear December: I'm so glad you'll be here tomorrow! I'm already in the Christmas spirit, but you really kick it off for everyone else who's been waiting around  for an engraved invitation. And tomorrow we're going to the Festival of Lights downtown, so that will make two lighting festivals for us this year! But this one has a parade!

Also, I've made an awesome activity calendar for Jeff and I for the month, and I can't wait to do some of these fun Christmas activities with him! And I wrote them all down on this little calendar that I picked because I knew how much he would like the cute little robots :) (You can find more cute stuff on their website.) Even if we aren't able to do every single thing, every single day, at least we have plenty of options to choose from on the days where we do want a Christmas activity!

Dear Fingernails: I'm sorry I've neglected you and you've been completely naked basically all week. I promise we'll make up for it and do something cute this weekend. And if I do something "fancy" enough, that will make nail art design #10 of 10 before my 25th birthday! And then that will be another goal I get to cross off :) Maybe a Christmas theme to kick off December? As if I'm not already Christmasy enough right now...

Dear Family: I'm so excited to decorate the Christmas tree on Sunday afternoon! And put up the rest of our decorations all around the house as well, of course. Get ready for my peppy spirit and some Christmas tunes while we do everything, because you can bet I'll be all over that.

Dear Boyfriend: Thanks for taking me to Japanica, where our chef was talented enough to breath fire out of his mouth after cooking our meal for us. Awesomeness I tell you. And the food wasn't so bad either.

Dear BFBC Youth: We're having another ugly sweater Christmas party on Sunday night, and I'm sooo looking forward to it! Last year's was so much fun, and we saw some truly ugly sweaters. So make plans to attend again, and please show up in the most hideous Christmas sweater you can get your little hands on! I'm going to be wearing one myself, and I promise we'll have a great time!

Sooo does anyone else notice how much I mentioned Christmas in all these letters? I'd say I'm a tad bit excited, but that's probably a huge understatement. I'm thrilled!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Powderpuff Days

Here are a few pictures from homecoming week my senior year of high school. From dress-up days, to spirit day on Friday, and then a few from the football game with friends. Our tiny little Christian school didn't have a dance then, so that's really all there is. I did however get to go to a homecoming dance with a friend from church at another school, and that was a lot of fun!

And this is installment number six of all my high school posts. In case you'd like to look at those if you missed them, here are all the other links! One, Two, Three, Four and Five.

Wacky tacky day year year homecoming week. Not sure why I thought that pose was cute or necessary.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Proper Place

Here is my next set of 25 random lists I'm writing before my 25th birthday. These two are my Favorite Albums & CD's and 5 Reasons to Stop NOT Cleaning My Room... And back HERE is the first two lists from a few weeks ago. I've had fun with this so far, and I'm looking forward to writing more of these lists in the next couple of months! Tomorrow marks exactly two months until my 25th birthday, by the way :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Proud of My Cooking

Today I want to share a couple quick easy recipes that I made last week during my Thanksgiving break. Seriously people, these are so yummy, and so easy. Just the way I like things :) I won't lie about this, I'm Proud of My Cooking, and I highly recommend both of these recipes. So grab a pen and paper to make some notes, because you're going to want to give these guys a try...

First up, I made Twice-Baked Cauliflower

2 heads of cauliflower
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese
8 pieces of bacon
1 handful of fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Prep cauliflower to cook, removing all leaves and what-not, and roughly chopping
Bring water to boil, throw cauliflower in, and cook until soft
While cauliflower is boiling, fry bacon in skillet, then place on paper towel to drain/dry/cool
After cauliflower is soft, drain and transfer to large mixing bowl
Using potato masher, mash up all cauliflower
Once it's decently mashed, add in sour cream, cream cheese & Parmesan cheese, and mix thoroughly
Crumble bacon, and add in 3/4 of it to the mix
Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray, and scoop the mixture into dish, flattening out
Sprinkle all of the cheddar cheese on top, and the remaining bacon crumbles
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until cheese is completely melty and bubbly
Eat and enjoy!

So technically it's not actually twice-baked, but it is at least twice-cooked. And let me tell you folks - this tastes EXACTLY like loaded, baked mashed potatoes. And this stuff is delicious. We took it for Thanksgiving lunch with my dad's side of the family, and we fooled some of them into thinking it actually was mashed potatoes, rather than cauliflower. Even the pickiest eater of the bunch tried it, and she loved it! I can't wait to make this again, so that I get to eat more of it myself next time, because it was just that good.

And if you're watching your figure, just make the cheeses and sour cream the low fat or fat free versions to make this a little healthier. It's already almost carb-free (with the exception of a minimal amount from the cheeses), so this is a good low-carb option! Seriously, don't be scared of the cauliflower - just try it. And let me know how you like it too :)

And then next was Bacon-wrapped Lil' Smokies

1 pack of Lil Smokies sausages
The rest of your bacon pack from the first recipe up there ;) but uncooked and cut into thirds
1 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
Once your bacon slices are cut into thirds, wrap each smokie in the bacon, and place in baking dish, seam side down
Make as many as you please....
Melt 1 stick of butter, and stir in 1 cup of brown sugar until it's completely mixed
Pour the whole mixture over the top of the bacon-wrapped smokies
Bake for 30 minutes

After doing this it seemed like there was too much of the butter/sugar mixture during the baking process, so after about thirty minutes, I poured off quite a bit of the liquid, then put the dish back in the oven, for about 5-10 minutes, but under the broiler setting this time, just to crisp it up a bit. And these tiny meats turned out delicious!

Apparently a lot of people already make these pretty regularly, because when I brought them to the football-watching party, they were thrilled to see them because they knew how good they would be. I myself had never heard of them, or eaten them, but after trying one, I loved them too! I also heard a tip that if you're making them for a big party, skewer each one with a toothpick, and bake them like that so they're ready to grab-n-go after baking!

And then after putting this last dish together, I ran out of bacon, but still had some smokies left, so I threw the rest of them in a pot with some barbecue sauce and some more brown sugar, and just let them hang out in there until it was time to leave. So simple, and yet so yummy as well.

And here's a picture of me in my apron again, just because it's so darn cute, and I like this picture a lot :) And I was in fact wearing it the whole time I was cooking last week!

So, give both of these recipes a try. For real peeps. Because who doesn't love delicious food, that's made with easy-to-do recipes?! I know I sure do! Honestly, I tend to gravitate towards what looks the easiest or the most doable. Because even though I do love to cook, I still consider myself a "novice" and am still prone to silly mistakes or minor issues. So the easier, the better in my book! I need things that are close to fool-proof, and these recipes definitely fit the bill on that front. Hope you like them as much as I did!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Post-Thanksgiving Update

It feels like it's been forever since I've written a proper blog post, because Wednesday's post was a scheduled post with a yummy recipe, Thursday's post was scheduled too (and it was just a ton of pictures anyways), and then Friday I quickly wrote a few simple letters. So really, it's been about a week since I wrote a real post, and that just seems strange! And I missed it, and I'm glad to be "back" of course :)

So, since I've last written, here are a few things that have happened...

I was in charge of Thanksgiving dinner at our house, because my mom's elbow isn't healed from surgery
But I loved doing all of the cooking and decorating!
And I wore my super cute apron the whole time too :)
Painted my nails garnet & glittery gold to support my Noles
I did end up leaving the house a bit on Friday from some shopping, but not too much
Bought three new Christmas albums, each of which was only $5! (Perry Como, Colbie Caillat & Straight No Chaser)
Also did some much easier, online shopping on Friday, and got great deals
Had dinner with one of my besties, Sara on Friday night
Missed my boyfriend a whole bunch while he was out of town
Continued eating way too much food, even after Thanksgiving itself was long gone
Made some delicious appetizers for a football-watching party
Sadly watched my Seminoles lose to the stupid Gators :(
Did a lot of hanging out with my parents
Went to lunch with some awesome friends after church on Sunday
Finally got out my box of winter clothes with sweaters, scarves, gloves, boots and jackets! 
Went to an amazing night of worship at Awaken at my church
And finally welcomed Jeff home after missing him while he was gone for six days!

My dad took this when I wasn't ready, but it turned out pretty cute still :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Picasa Is Annoying Me

Dear Thanksgiving: You were delicious, and I thank you so much for providing such yummy things for my family and I to chow down on. Yum! (I'm too lazy to import and edit pictures right now, so I'll have to share some Thanksgiving pictures one day next week, maybe...see next letter...)

My sister Megan and I on Thanksgiving, with me still wearing my cute apron :)

Dear Blogger/Picasa Web Albums: You kinda suck. You say I've reached my 1 GB of free storage and won't let me upload any more pictures, at least not the "regular" way. Now I have to figure out what to do in order to add more pictures the rest of my bloggy life... super annoying. Pay for extra Google storage? Or circumvent the system and start using Photobucket? I don't know yet...

Dear Boyfriend: I hope you're having a great vacation up in West Virginia and North Carolina, but I really super miss you. I can't wait until you get home on Sunday night!

Dear Black Friday: I'm still at home in my PJ's, and I think I might actually stay here all day. I'm not sure that I want to brave the craziness. Maybe tomorrow we'll do some shopping, maybe... I am however doing some online shopping right now, so that may win out over actually getting dressed and all that nonsense.

Dear Florida State: Tomorrow afternoon is the FSU vs. UF game, and WE BETTER WIN!! Let's do this Noles!

Dear Sore Throat: Get the heck outta here!! I'm sooo over it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Party Like It's 2005

Here's another installment of my walk down memory lane! This was our New Year's Eve celebration during our senior year of high school. We all went out to our friend Brian's house, and we just hung around the bonfire and enjoyed some Welch's sparkling grape juice at midnight :)

For past walks down memory lane, visit them here, here, here and here.

Click "Read More" to see all the pictures below...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I've shared this post before on my friend Hallie's blog, but I'm posting it here today, since it's Thanksgiving week, and pumpkin cupcakes would be delicious during Thanksgiving :)

This is a recipe for homemade pumpkin cupcakes as well as homemade cream cheese frosting! This is Jeff's Granny's recipe, so it's a tried-and-true winner. And let me be really honest here -  both the cupcakes and the frosting are super delicious. So get ready, because I'm sure you're going to want to try this out for yourself! And don't let their simple appearance in the photograph below mislead you - there's all sorts of yummy in there!

Here's the cupcake ingredients and directions first...

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 can pumpkin
2 cups AP (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit)
Whip eggs and sugar together first
Add oil and whip again
Slowly add in flour a little bit at a time (I do about 1/2 cup at a time)
Once mixed, add in all other ingredients (pumpkin, baking soda & powder, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg)
Mix everything together until smooth and creamy, with very few lumps
Use an ice cream scoop to put batter into lined cupcake tins
Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean
(This recipe makes at least 24 cupcakes, so it will need to be baked in separate batches.)

While the cupcakes are in the oven baking, you can make the cream cheese frosting, and leave it sitting out to stay room temperature until time to use it. So here's the frosting ingredients and directions...

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whip together butter and cream cheese until thoroughly mixed
Add in confectioner's sugar a little bit at a time again (same way as flour for cupcakes) about 1/2 cup at a time
Mix until smooth and creamy, add in vanilla, and mix again
Top cupcakes with frosting with whatever method you may choose, although I just did it with a knife!

So listen ladies (and gentlemen?), make these sometime in the next few weeks/months while pumpkin-everything is still all the rage. Take them to a party or a dinner or share them with friends, and let them rave over your moist, yummy pumpkin cupcakes! I guarantee you won't be disappointed with these!

Hope y'all are having a great day, and a great Thanksgiving week!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

Good morning my bloggy friends! (Or afternoon/evening depending on when you actually read this...) Today I'd like to focus a little bit on Thanksgiving, since it is this very week after all! I just wanted to share a few things I am thankful for in my life, and then share a challenge at the end as well...

Photo found via Google images

The Bible tells us that we should give thanks in all things! (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  Sounds like a tricky thing to do, but it's something we really should work on each and every day, not just once a year for a special holiday. 1 Chronicles 16:34 says, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever." Isn't that great? That God's love endures, forever?! That alone is enough want to make you thank God all day long, right...?!

And then there are also some great Psalms about thankfulness as well:
Psalm 69:30 -- I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 95:2 -- Let us come before him with Thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
Psalm 100:4 -- Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, gives thanks to him and praise his name.

Photo found via Google images

I am thankful for:
A wonderful, loving family
My super sweet boyfriend
An amazing Savior who died for me and forgave my sins
Living in the Sunshine state
A church family to call "home"
Being called to youth ministry, and getting to work with the youth in my church
My education
Being healthy enough to ride bikes!
Being surrounded by a great group of friends
This amazing life God has granted me with

These are only ten things that I am thankful for. But let's be honest here people, because there about a million more that we can each name in our own lives. My challenge to you however, is to recognize these things every day, not just on one day each year! So, write down at least ten things you're thankful for, make it pretty, and hang it somewhere you'll see it every day.{ I'm going to put mine on my bathroom mirror.} And then make sure you actually read over it every day, and thank God that he has provided a multitude of blessings in each of our lives!

And finally, I just want to share the doxology with you today, because even though it's not specifically a "Thanksgiving hymn," it's still very fitting when talking about gratitude and thankfulness...

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise him all creatures here below,
Praise him above ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen."

And Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Palm Trees Wrapped in Christmas Lights

First up, let's talk about how cute my new layout and color scheme is. But more importantly, the cuteness of my header picture up there now! I am in love with it :) I think it's gonna stay for a while, but I'll probably change the pictures out occasionally as we go along!

And next, we can talk about today's installment of Mani Monday (which I haven't done in a while...), but this is my super duper easy Thanksgiving-themed mani! Just a simple turkey face on my thumb nail of my left hand, and then some polka dots on the thumb of my right hand, (which I forgot to take a picture of...). So simple, and oh-so-cute!

And now moving on to my weekend recap... 

This past weekend, Jeff and I drove over to St. Augustine, to spend some time with my bestest friends! A few weeks ago I heard my friend Nicole and her husband (from Pensacola now) were going to be there this weekend too, I decided we also had to go and make it a little reunion for us! 

We ate lots of yummy food, did a little shopping in downtown, visited a unique gourmet popcorn shop, counted down at the Nights of Lights celebration, played Catch Phrase with all my friends, and then ate some more yummy food before coming back home on Sunday. We took it easy and relaxed and just hung out all weekend, and we all had a great time together. From here on out today, I'll just let the pretty pictures speak for themselves! :)

(Click on the "Read More" below to see more pictures, and the end of the post!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pen & Paper

Remember my cute little notebook from last week that I bought just for blog doodling? Well, here's my next project with it! I have a list of 25 lists (who makes a list of lists I ask you? This crazy girl does...) that I'm going to doodle and write and make pretty, and share them with y'all up until I turn 25, in just a little over two months!

So, here's the list of lists... I won't be doing these in the order they're written, rather just whenever I choose to write that specific one. And I have no posting schedule for these either, so who knows when they'll actually show up on the ol' bloggy-blog. My goal is simply to do them all before my birthday! I'm just using Pen & Paper, and making some cute lists :)

So that's that. Not really much else to this "series," but it's just something fun for me to do with a cute notebook and some Sharpe pens. Because who doesn't love Sharpie pens, am I right?! Also, I once again apologize for the blurry quality of my iPhone pictures. Looks like this is one of those projects I'll have to bust out the real camera for...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Prizes Flooding My Mailbox

Dear Friday: Hooray!!! So glad you're here :) And after only 3 days of work this week? That's just great.

Dear St. Augustine: We're comin' for ya today after work, and we're so excited! Can't wait for the annual Nights of Lights festival tomorrow night! Haven't been back for it since I graduated, and I'm so glad I get to go back this year, and that Jeff gets to come too!

Dear Friends in St. Augustine: Thank you for letting us stay with you while we're there. And more importantly, get ready to have some fun this weekend while we're (almost) all back together again!

Dear Living in YellowThere are Prizes Flooding My Mailbox, and it's so dang exciting! Thanks for hosting an awesome giveaway, and providing this lucky winner with lots of fun things! {One of which is my new post-footer-signature-thing down there from Chealsea!}

Dear Boyfriend: I'm so excited for another road trip with you this weekend! I didn't make us any road trip questions this time though, but I'm sure we can still entertain ourselves in the car :)

Dear Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup: You were delicious at my work luncheon, and I'm so glad I found the recipe! I will be making you again on Monday night for my family, and I'm pretty sure they'll love you too.

Dear Thanksgiving: Holy moly where did you come from? That certainly was quick...

Dear Bloggy Friends: Thanks for reading and commenting on my posts! I love comments, but what blogger doesn't?! I love making new friends, so don't be too shy to say hello if you're new!

Happy Weekend everyone!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Plane Ride Numero Uno

And here goes walk down memory lane numero quatro! These are fun for me, so I hope they are for y'all too, since I've done quite a few already! If you need to catch up you can find my past posts about cheerleading, prom and Jr/Sr, and senior girl presentation. Check those out too! :)

This was our senior trip out to Winter Park, Colorado. And guys, this was a BIG deal for me. Why? It was a couple of my big *firsts* in my life. My first time on an airplane! And my first time seeing snow! (I have apparently seen it when I was about 1 or 2 years old, but that doesn't count, OK?!) And then with that, it was my first time skiing and snowmobiling as well! 

There's a picture below of the first time I actually touched the snow. We were rebels and sneaked out of the Denver airport even though our chaperones told us not to, just to go physically touch the snow! It was also my friend Kristen's first time touching snow as well. So look out for that picture towards the end :)

These are the guys from the tattoo show "Miami Ink!" I used to be obsessed with it, so I was pumped
when I saw them in the Atlanta airport! But too embarrassed, so a friend asked them about the picture for me :)

This silly girl wore her ski boots to the park the second day, and forgot other
shoes. So she had to be carried back to the bus at the end of the day :)

Our school was small - and this was almost our entire senior class... :)

First time touching snow in my life!

Practicing our Spice Girls moves...

Spice Girls in action again...

So there are some of the good ones from our trip to Winter Park, Colorado! It's always so much fun reliving some of the better days of high school :)