Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Break 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 has come and gone in the blink of an eye. We spent MUCH time with family and food everywhere we turned.

Thursday morning, we headed to Jamestown, which is a little over an hour away from our home. We had lunch at Stephen's grandmother's house with his mom's side of the family. 

Stephen's brother, Evan is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army National Guard. He's been gone for quite a while to attend the next round of Officers' training courses. He flew home Wednesday afternoon, and flew back on Sunday morning. It was so good to have the little punk home for a few days. He and his girlfriend, Ashley found their spots on Granny's couch after lunch.

Evan had found the game Pie Face online and several people played it after lunch. Stephen's poor grandma, she got it EVERY TIME. Such a hilarious game to play with family.

I love our Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve lunches in Jamestown. Fancy china and glasses included!

I also love sharing the holidays with this fella.

Stephen's uncle Ben brought his new son, Clay to lunch. He was the star of the show for the day!! So sweet!

The whole fam. Love these people.

After Jamestown, we made our way to Sparta to have an early dinner with my mom's side of the family. Normally, we have Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas morning at my grandparents, but the time has come for us to relocate to my aunt's house. My grandparents house isn't getting any bigger and our family is only getting larger. Which is the best kind of problem to have, but bittersweet that our tradition has finally changed. As long as we're together, location shouldn't matter. 

Little Arabelle wasn't feeling her normal spunky self, but is still a cutie. 

My mom's family is NOTORIOUS for our desserts (or should I say our sweet tooth). We always have enough food for a small country. It's crazy. This year, our desserts took up the entire length of the bar.

My cousins are HUGE Black Friday shoppers. I am not. They can have it. After we eat, it's customary to spread the Black Friday ads all over the table and pass them around while they make their gameplan for the next morning.

Like I said, some of them are hardcore excited about deals...

My uncle Stanley is the youngest of the siblings, AND he's also quite the clown. My grandmother has a great sense of humor as well. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

The little kids were all over the house in different areas playing different games. I found Colin and Lorelei playing Bingo by themselves. Because when you're 5 and 6, you stick together.

We wrapped up Thursday going to Stephen's parents house and visiting briefly with some of the Stafford side of the family for a few minutes before they all headed out for some late-night shopping in Nashville. After being gone from home over 12 hours that day, Stephen and I headed home to sleep off our food comas. It was glorious. 

Friday morning, we got all dressed up and headed to meet the Staffords for a family photo shoot. Can't wait to see how they all turn out!

After photos, I decorated the outside of our house and cleaned up a little inside. We had plans for the afternoon and night with our nephews which included Riley's birthday movie and restaurant pick. 

He chose to see The Peanuts Movie. Look, I think the Peanuts are cute. The picture and colors were BEAUTIFUL. But for Stephen and I, the movie was soooo calming and peaceful. So calming and peaceful that we both dozed off a couple of times. HA. Overall it was really cute, had some funny parts, and taught a good story. 

After the movie, Riley chose to eat dinner at IHOP. These boys LOVE breakfast so this was right up their alley! Also, Riley saw a commercial for the pumpkin waffles and had to try them.

The boy loves all things pumpkin!! Be still my heart. 

Back at home, the boys took turns playing different games. I noticed Riley holding his tongue out when the game he was playing got intense. Bless.

Later that night, they picked a movie on Netflix to watch. Colin typically sits with Stephen on one couch, and Riley will sit with me on the other. I looked over at one point during the movie and saw Colin snuggled up on Stephen and just dissolved into a puddle of mush right in that moment.

Before the movie was over, we snacked on warm cookies and milk. I don't know if they have these "bedtime snacks" at home, but when they're at our house, you better believe I say yes when Colin asks if it's time for "bedtime snacks"!

Saturday morning, per usual, I found Riley sleeping normal on a pillow and poor Colin half way down the bed, head pressed into the wall. I don't know.

Three men in the house means three different kinds of pancakes. Pumpkin, Chocolate Chip and Blueberry!

Typically, the Saturday night after Thanksgiving, we're with my dad's side of the family, but with it being Evan's last night home, we opted to have dinner and play cards with Stephen's parents, Evan and Ashley. We played cards for almost three hours, before we were all about to fall asleep at the table.

We wrapped up our Thanksgiving Break by making cookies Sunday night for our Ladies Church Party coming up on Tuesday. And yes, he's crushing candy canes with a hammer. Hey, it worked!

And we folded three loads of laundry while watching the season's first showing of my personal favorite, Christmas Vacation. He won't admit it, but Stephen likes to watch it with me every year because I basically quote the entire movie and laugh EVERY TIME like I've never seen it before. He humors me. For that, I'm thankful.

It's always nice to have some time off of work, but it's even nicer to be able to spend that time with so many family members. This is truly my favorite time of the year!! 

Coming up tomorrow, our Christmas Home Tour! 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

But Before the Holidays...

I have a few holiday themed posts planned for this week, so before those go live I wanted to check in to share just a few little things that have happened lately that I want to remember years down the road. 

After all, that's what this little blog is for anyway. 

One day at work a couple weeks ago, I had had a rather stressful week and had spent that particular day in meetings all morning. When I got back to my office right before lunch, I had a message I had a delivery at the front desk. The "Just Because" kind of flowers will always be the best kind of flowers!

One weeknight, Colin came home with Stephen for a little bit because Riley had gotten to go the high school basketball game and poor little brother was pretty bummed. Stephen saved the day by having the new Star Wars game on hand.

Riley and Colin (and Stephen) are pretty excited about the new moving coming out in a few weeks, so the game was right up their alley.

I love Colin's expressions in these pics. He was just SO into the game, never sitting down.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, our house exploded with Christmas decor! I'm glad to report that everything is up, in it's place and empty containers and boxes taken back to our storage unit until January 1.

I have a post planned for later this week specifically on Christmas Ornaments and some of the stories behind them. For now, I'll share these two. Every year, we celebrate "Thanksmas" with a group of friends and we each bring an ornament for a Dirty Santa Swap. These are ornaments that Stephen has come home with the past couple of years. I just have no words. (However secretly I think the skunk is kinda cute.)

Unfortunately, Stephen LOVES these ornaments. It's a fight each year about their positioning on the tree. I opt to put them towards the back, he wants them front and center. We compromise to one of the sides and call it a day.

Ornaments for DAYS!

A few days before Thanksgiving, I headed up our annual Christmas decorating at the hospital. Monday ended up being a bust of a day, but Tuesday and Wednesday we managed to get our acts together and got the job done.

The outside lights....

 along with the rooftop tree that some of our guys worked on for days, was supposed to be lit tonight (Sunday) but with the rain ALL DAY LONG, I doubt it's going to happen.  Can't wait to see the finished product.

Hopefully sometime this week, I'll be able to get some pictures of our finished products. With our patient registration waiting area being in our Lobby area, I'm not taking any chances taking photos with potential patients in them. I prefer keeping maintaining my employment. haha. 

Coming up this week, we're recapping Thanksgiving Break, sharing our Christmas Home Tour and some other holiday inspired goodies!! 


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Jack Daniel's Fudge Pie

It's Thanksgiving Eve which means kitchens around the country will be pushing out their most famous pies over the next few days! There is a major soft spot in my heart for a great piece of pie!

The pie that everyone knows me for making is my Jack Daniel's Fudge Pie. Really, I shouldn't claim it as "my" pie. It's not my recipe, nor do I even tweak it from the original recipe. The original recipe, as you will see below is called "Miss Mary's Fudge Pie". This is served everyday at Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House Restaurant.

It's great year-round, but it's perfect for the holiday season!!

A quick disclaimer & side story, we are not drinkers, and this bottle of Jack Daniels is the only alcohol in our house. In fact, this same bottle has been in my freezer for probably 5 or 6 years now. I've taken this pie to many church pot-lucks and just referred to it as "Fudge Pie". HA. The few people that know the secret ingredient think it's hilarious that the preacher's daughter brought the boozed-up pie. This pie has brought much laughter through the years. Also, for some reason, I've always had a strange fascination with the Jack Daniels brand and history, mostly because it's Tennessee history, other than that I have NO clue why.

If you ever have the chance, take a day to visit Lynchburg, TN, the JD Distillery, all the shops around the town sqaure, and grab a meal at Miss Mary Bobo's. It all makes for the perfect little day-trip!

Here's what you'll need:

Graham Cracker Pie Crust
1/2 Stick of Butter (Melted)
3 TBS Cocoa Powder
2 Eggs (Beaten)
1 1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Evaporated Milk
1 TBS Jack Daniel's Whiskey
Whipped Cream for topping (optional)

Again, because I don't claim this as my own, here's the recipe I use straight from the book! SO EASY!

Ready to bake!!!

The only tip I will add, is that typically, it takes longer than the suggested 30-35 minutes bake time. In fact, I usually let it bake around 45 minutes, turn the oven off, and let it set for a while in the warm oven. It's all trial and error, and how firm you want the pie to set.

And, if you don't have a 6-year old bottle of whiskey in your freezer, you can just leave it out and add in some vanilla instead. It'll still taste great!

The Graham Cracker Crust is not the traditional crust for a fudge pie, and that coupled with the small amount of whiskey, adds a great candied effect to the pie. It's sweet, gooey, and just a little tacky...everything the perfect Fudge Pie should be!!

Head on over to Andrea's blog for some other great recipes for the holidays!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Faves: 9th Birthdays & Christmas Photo Sneaks

I'm linking up today with some of my favorites for my Friday Favorites!!

One |

Earlier this week, we got our pictures back that we had made about a month ago. They were all so good that it was hard to pick this year's Christmas Card winner, but we chose one, and now I'm patiently waiting for our card order to come in!! After our cards go out, I'll post more from our afternoon with Matt, but for now, here's one sneak peek.

Two |

My oldest nephew, Riley, turned 9 on Monday. He had a sleepover party over the weekend, and apparently Stephen and I are still cool enough to come to his friends' only parties. Ha. Those boys had a BLAST!

Monday night, the family had dinner together and then celebrated with presents and more cake!

Can't believe he's already 9!!

Three |

This is old news, but Eric Church released a surprise new album a couple weeks ago, and naturally I can't get enough. He does no wrong. My days are spent in my office jamming out to a mix of Christmas music and Eric Church. I could die a happy girl.

Four |

My only request so far for Christmas has been a new Erin Condren Life Planner, because dang it, I got SUCKED IN this year. I have LUUUUURRRRVED my planner this year, and can't wait to start fresh with a new one for 2016!

I narrowed it down between the sequins design and the honeycomb design. I ended up going with the honeycomb and changing out the color. I can't wait to see how it turned out!! (Actually, it came in the mail yesterday, but I promised Stephen he could wrap it and save it for Christmas since technically, it was a present from him.)

Five |

It's the weekend before Thanksgiving...which means it's Christmas decorating weekend!! I SO look forward to this weekend each year. Nothing but comfy clothes all weekend, Christmas cheer in our home, and (hopefully if I can persuade the Mr.) a Christmas movie or two!!


Be sure to check in with Andrea, Erika & Narci for everyone else's Friday Favorites!!

Happy Weekending!