Christmas Crafting

The holidays have brought about a few opportunities to get crafty!

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Twine wrapped wine bottles with a holiday flare!
image-4A wooden tree that includes a special scripture for the season.

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This is my most recent piece. It is not finished, but I just had to post it anyways. It still needs touch ups and a final coat of paint.

I always enjoy making these projects and who knows, maybe someday I will finally open that etsy shop. So far it’s just local business with some word of mouth (Thanks mom).

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“Thanksmas”

This year we had to change things up a bit from previous years, and we got together with my in-laws over Thanksgiving for one big crazy holiday bonanza! We combined Thanksgiving and Christmas to make a “Thanksmas” holiday and it was grand. My husband and I road tripped from California  all the way to Indiana and back. It was one of the longest trips we have ever taken, but it was so rewarding and mind-blowing to see more of the country that we claim as our own. We found that God made so many different terrains that make each area of the country unique! Some people called us crazy, but I would suggest it to anyone and everyone! Here are some of the highlights from the trip and the holidays that we were able to celebrate!

Here is our trusty car in Arizona. We drove through California in the wee hours of the morning and no pictures were necessary at that hour 🙂

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Here is my wonderful husband in the painted desert of Arizona.
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And here I am! Day One got us from our home in California all the way to about an hour past Albuquerque, NM. It was a long day, but we saw some amazing scenery!DSCN0546

Day Two we passed through Texas, Oklahoma, and made it all the way to Rolla, MO. This is Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX.DSCN0563

They allow people to bring spray paint and leave their mark on the old Cadillacs. We forgot our spray paint, but someone had left a can on the ground so Brent picked it up and we were able to put our names on a cadillac!

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Day Three we arrived in Wheatfield, IN!! We had a great time with family and we were able to attend church with my husband’s parents. He grew up on a pullet farm so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to go in the building to see the pullets! This little gal is even waving at the camera.20141123_162515

From Indiana we made our way to Iowa for the holiday festivities. We didn’t feel like splitting up from our parents so we just towed our vehicle behind. It was a lovely trip except for the ice and snow flurries. This California girl was having a mild panic attack in the back seat, but we made it safely with only some minor slipping and sliding (I was told that I was overreacting… I was slightly terrified at times).DSCN0585

Our hosts provided us with a puzzle. This family doesn’t really do puzzles well. At all times you could find four to five of us surrounding this coffee table attempting to complete this beast.DSCN0586Thanksgiving day! There was so much delicious food and even more delightful conversation and laughter shared by the whole family. DSCN0591

Here is our family picture! We were able to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even a couple birthdays in a three day period together! DSCN0608

Our lovely hosts! They had to pack us all into their home and they didn’t complain at all. We can be a bit of a loud bunch at times, but there is never a better time spent with each other than when we are all crammed into a small space.DSCN0610

He’s my best friend. At this point we had spent over a week with each other traveling and I couldn’t have been happier with anyone else… ( I know that I’m a sap, and I don’t mind one bit).
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The last night before we all were separating at approximately eleven at night the puzzle was completed! We never thought it would end!

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Apparently Nebraska wasn’t anything to take pictures of since I can’t seem to find any. We did drive past the Case IH headquarters for the sake of saying we had been there, but the next day we drove through western Colorado and it showed off a little bit for us. DSCN0622

Then right before our eyes Colorado showed us more of God’s majestic creation. How this could be accidental I do not know.DSCN0630

We stopped and did some timed pictures by this old bridge in Utah. I am not excellent at operating the timer feature of my camera, but we were able to get a few pictures out of the adventure. Don’t mind me and my sweatpants. I was traveling across the country and decided comfort was much more important than any sort of fashion. Although, I find just about any excuse to live life in my sweatpants.

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Ok, Utah may have been one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The last two pictures were taken at a viewing area off the highway. We plan to visit again soon so that we can see more of the national parks and more of this magnificent landscape. DSCN0662

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We had the trip of a lifetime. We loved the road trip and the adventures we had along the way. We were so blessed to have excellent weather and safe travels. We are thankful for our “Thanksmas” trip and we hope to be able to do it again someday in the future!

Simplicity

Yesterday I went to Costco with my husband after church. What was I thinking?! As we pulled into the parking lot I immediately regretted this decision. It was almost as if we had jumped in time and it was the day before thanksgiving and all of the last minute shoppers had taken over the store. We were out of our league by miles.

We maneuvered our way through the masses and somehow got the few things on our list. We get to the line and our eyes are overwhelmed by the number of people in line. Every register is open and the lines go back into the aisles of merchandise. So we get in a line and settle in for the long haul. I’m busy looking at the mens socks (I know sounds like an enticing experience) and while I’m turned around my husband disappears and comes back up to the cart carrying a beautiful bouquet of fall themed flowers. This is when the whole crazy store just disappeared and it was as simple as a shopping trip with my loving husband.

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It’s the simple things that mean so much in life. As simple as getting some flowers and a kiss after a very exhausting grocery store run. As simple as seeing your family and friends at church on Sunday and getting to enjoy their company even if it is only for a few minutes.

Simplicity is something that is hard to imagine in this age. Even as I type this I have three tabs open on my browser, music playing in the kitchen, lunch warming up on the stove, and my phone is beeping due to its low battery. Life can get over crowded. It can seem like there is always something to finish, something to start, something to clean, and someone to contact.

I need my faith in God. I need prayer. I need love. I need family. I need relationships.

Those are the things that I am trying to focus on this week. I recently read a quote by Tammy Maltby. She challenged her readers to “start simply, but simply start.” We need to begin caring for ourselves and others in a simple life-giving way, but instead of just talking about it we need to start doing it!

Slow-Cooker Southern-Style Chicken and Dirty Rice

New recipe from a new cookbook! I rarely buy cookbooks. I have been given almost all of the ones that I have in the cupboard, but this one just called out to me from the stacks at Costco! It is from America’s Test Kitchen and it is titled, The complete Cooking for Two Cookbook

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This particular recipe is for southern-style chicken and dirty rice. It started with some chopping. I used a big tough knife and set out my monster cutting board and got to work. Unfortunately, I have become a whimp in my onion chopping recently. This particular time I read “chopped fine” next to the onion and my tear ducts decided to begin working overtime. The bell pepper, garlic, and kielbasa sausage were simple after the onion was defeated though! Then I just had to mix in the chili powder and the thyme.

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Once I microwaved that mixture I just put it in the bottom of my crockpot. Threw some rice on top. Then I nestled in the chicken (Doesn’t that just sound cozy) and put that puppy on low for 5 hours or so.

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When I asked my main squeeze about how he liked the recipe he gave it a 6.5/10. I would have to agree. The rice ended up becoming a mushy mess by the time it was done cooking. I feel like if there was a way to cook the rice in the crock pot while the chicken cooked it might become a more appealing dish. It had good taste, but i think the mushy rice took away from the dish texture wise. The recipe says to get store-bought precooked rice but that seems silly.

I think I will have to give it another try. Maybe add some chicken broth in the crockpot with some uncooked rice. Who knows. We’ll just have to see. If anyone has any suggestions please comment below!

Here’s the recipe

Slow-Cooker Southern-Style Chicken and Dirty Rice

4 oz Kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 onion, chopped fine (cue the tears)

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into pieces

2 garlic cloves (I used 3 because you can never have too much garlic)

2 tsp. Chili powder

2 tsp. fresh minced thyme or 1/2 tsp dried

2 cups cooked rice

Salt and pepper

1 lb boneless/skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

2 scallions, sliced thin

1. Lightly spray inside of slow cooker with vegetable oil spray. Microwave kielbasa, onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, and thyme in bowl, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened (about 5 minutes). Transfer to prepared slow cooker. Stir in rice, salt and pepper. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 5 hours on low.

2. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite0size pieces using 2 forks. Gently stir shredded chicken and scallions into slow cooker and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Shaver Lake Chicken

Yummm….

This is a favorite from my childhood. It was this or Lemon Pepper Chicken (definitely a future post) marinaded in a ziploc bag at least once a month. I now make this marinade with about the same frequency. It’s the kind of dish that you can make way ahead of time and freeze for a future date, but I am a person that lives in the moment and rarely makes that smart of a plan. So… I barely remembered to take my chicken out of the freezer the night before so that it could defrost in the fridge overnight. Then I made the marinade in a tupperware in the morning (I am out of ziplocs and I keep forgetting to pick them up at the store). It sat in the fridge marinating throughout the day and then I fired up the barbecue in the evening in order to whip up this delicious meal.

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After eating my husband gave the chicken a rating of a 9. Then he informed me that he was not ready to be a featured critic on the blog. His exact comments were, “It was really good.” and “It tasted good.” He apparently is a very descriptive man.

I served the chicken with green beans that were combined with some stewed tomatoes. They paired well and overall this recipe was a hit!

Recipe for Shaver Lake Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs                                                   3 Tbsp. dijon mustard

1/2 cup brown sugar                                                                                          1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil                                                                                                   1 1/2 Tbsp. lime juice

1/4 cup cider vinegar                                                                                           salt and pepper to taste

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken in a Ziploc bag. Mix well. Add chicken. Marinate for at least two hours. Grill over hot coals. Enjoy!

 
 
 

Fresh Start

60533f0be108d985df849bc4608fb4c3If you have followed my blog in the past (let’s be real, there’s like two of you), you may notice that I have changed things up a bit. I am starting a new chapter in my post-college life. I am taking more time for myself and learning all of the different ways in which God has blessed me. I have been able to learn new skills like cooking, drawing, painting, and other things I never thought I’d be doing.
You might notice the different links on this blog.

  • The Crafts page is going to be the home for my different projects. I have my monthly chalkboard drawings, my wood signs, and other decorations that I am going to post as they are created.
  • The Food page is going to be the home for different recipes that I come across, make, and get reviews from my husband on (those should be interesting).
  • The Living page is where my blog posts will appear. Apparently you can only post onto one page… I’m learning all kinds of new things about blog life.
  • Finally, the Wedding page is where I will post weddings I love, weddings I might be involved with, weddings that I make decorations for, and who knows what else.

I am considering starting an etsy shop for my wedding decorations so look for that coming soon as well! I hope that this blog is enjoyable to anyone who happens upon it.

Madison

Fall-ing in love

I wanted to include a quick update on some of the things I’ve been up to recently in my newlywed and nursing school activities. I have seen God work through my family and friends over the last four months in too many ways to count. I feel so blessed to be living this life right now and I can only imagine what God will continue to do in the future.

I’ve become artsy since becoming a Mrs. These are a few of my projects from the last few months!

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Our guest bathroom medicine cabinet has a surprise chalkboard inside now!

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I also used some chalkboard paint for a little board in the kitchen. We now use it to leave notes for each other in the mornings.

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I got the joy of going wedding dress shopping with one of my best friends. We used little cards to tell her our opinions of the dresses. And she found the one!! Her fiancé is one blessed guy to get to marry her. She is going to be a beautiful bride!

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I used a window pane from our wedding to welcome our house guests. It was fun coming up with a design to use and using the paint pen to make the ideas come to life!

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This last week I made our first front door wreath. It was so great to go shopping with my sister for supplies and then putting it all together.

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This was the project I finished today. A small banner for our fireplace that says “be thankful”. Such a great daily reminder to always be thankful for all of the blessings that we have.

Those were my craft projects. I should be able to post some of my cooking soon! We have been eating some decent and some excellent meals since we’ve been married. I have enjoyed finding new recipes to try and taste testing them with my hungry husband.