Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: Never Once

I can NOT believe 2011 is over. What a year it was!

This time last year, I was beyond ready for 2010 to end. We started 2011 with the hope of a job offer and a big life change for us. It was around New Year's last year when we told our families that we were moving to Texas. We gave our notice at our jobs and buckled up for an adventure.

This time last year, I was scared to death. Scared that Matt would never be happy again. Scared to be by myself (and halfway across the country from my husband!) for nearly three months. Scared to move somewhere new and start all over again. Scared I would never be able to find the grocery store in a new city.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting over the past few days and have struggled to put into words exactly how I felt about 2011. There have been some really big struggles. There have been really happy times and really sad times. Overall, there has just been a lot of change for us. In a way, it has made me a little unsettled about facing a brand new year. What kind of change will we face this year? What ups and downs? What struggles?

As anyone who knows me very well knows, I struggle with putting my thoughts into words sometimes. (And yet there are  several of you out there who faithfully read my ramblings! Not sure if I should say "Thanks" or "I'm sorry"!) I've  sat down to write this several times this week and just couldn't decide which direction to go with my year-end thoughts. I've been far too jumbled.

Tonight in church we sang this song and I completely fell apart. It's like it took all my jumbled thoughts, organized them, then summarized my year perfectly. We had our ups and downs, but through it all, God was faithful!

So as I head into 2012, I know that no matter what may come (good or bad) God is faithful!

Happy New Year, friends!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recap

We had four Christmases this year. That's right, FOUR!

#1: Murphy Christmas
Marty, Cindy, and Jon made the long drive cross-country to spend a few days with us! A few highlights of our time together were going to Babe's Chicken then watching the Christmas lights in Frisco, Penzeys Spices (Cindy's first trip!), and a game called "Words of Wis-dumb" which is not a game for the faint of heart. Or those easily offended. We had many great laughs that night, and learned a lot about each other. I'm still deciding if this was good or bad. :)

#2: "Our" Christmas
Matt and I wanted to have a special time together to open our gifts from each other. We both had a hard time shopping (both lack of time, and wanting to shop for each other together) so we just got a couple things and saved the rest of our money. Or so I thought... This Christmas mainly taught me what a selfish jerk I am, as my darling had secretly been saving his "allowance" money for several months to buy me the one thing I REALLY wanted (a Kindle Fire). With the money he saved, he was able to almost double our budgeted amount for each other. *slaps forehead* "Why didn't I think of that???" Again, he is so much more thoughtful than his dreadful wife.

#3 Stagl Christmas
We travelled to Wichita for this one. Both of us were able to get off work early on Friday so we didn't have to drive late into the night like we usually do. How lovely! Justin and Kari also made the drive so we got to spend Christmas all together at Mom and Dad's. Highlight of this Christmas was definitely Mom and Dad's gift to each other. They've been married nearly 30 years (October 23, 1982) and decided that they were way past due for a wedding ring upgrade. The coolest part was that they were able to very closely match their original ring designs....just bigger and better. I'm thankful for their example of a marriage for us. They've had some rough times, but they haven't made it to 30 years on their own, and I'm so glad to have their godly example.

And finally...

#4 Kihle Family Christmas
This one took place at my Grandmother's house (also in Wichita). Every year for as long as I can remember we have drawn names for our gift exchange. We all gathered Christmas Afternoon to exchange gifts, then have our traditional Norwegian meal: Lefse and Lutefisk (and some Meatballs for those of us who are a little afraid of the Lutefisk). Highlights of this Christmas were the time spent making Lefse together at my Aunt and Uncle's house, and a conversation I had with one of my Cousins.

I sincerely hope that each one of you had a wonderful Christmas season, and that you were able to spent it surrounded by people you love!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I'm sitting in a big overstuffed chair in the living room beside our glistening tree, warming myself by a crackling fire in the fireplace while Christmas songs play softly in the background. The dogs are curled up beside me, seriously cramping my leg space on the ottoman.

Matt walks in to bring me some cookies from the kitchen. He sits down and stretches his hands toward the fire to warm them....

...then looks at me with his head cocked to the side and laughs, "What in the world are you doing? Is this the 'Christmas Yule Log' video on Netflix?" 

Okay, so perhaps I'm a little nutty for "warming" my toes by my TV. But does it really feel like Christmas if you haven't yet had a chance to sit by a crackling fire? I say that it simply does not. So if the only fire I can get is one I've streamed through Netflix, by golly I'll take it! Ahhhh my toes feel warmer already!

With all the craziness of getting ready for Christmas, I totally forgot to give you the recipe for the almonds I made for Thanksgiving. They were a big hit with the fam! My uncle from Colorado asked if he could take the rest of them with him for a road snack so I'm thinking that's a good sign. He also said that the way they had been roasted gave them "kind of a really nice smokey flavor." That totally cracked me up! Remember?

Here's the recipe:
2 C. whole almonds (skins on)
1/4 C. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Honey
2 Tbsp. Water
2 tsp. Oil

Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet or in a cake pan and place into a COLD oven. Bake on 350 for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside.

Thoroughly mix sugar and salt in a small bowl. Stir together the honey, water, and oil in a medium size pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the almonds and continue to cook and stir until all the liquid is absorbed by the almonds (about 5 minutes). Immediately transfer to a large bowl and sprinkle with the sugar/salt mixture, then spread on wax paper to cool.

Mmm...that's making me hungry.

But if you'll excuse me, I need to go add another log onto my fire. ( know, press replay)

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Can I just go ahead and say that Christmas has absolutely crept up on me this year??

In a conversation with my mom the other night, I said "Inside my head I'm an organized, domestic, lovely person, but in reality...I'm a lazy slob!" Sad, isn't it? This totally sums up all my "holiday" planning this year. I had such great ideas for fun things to do from before Thanksgiving until New Year's. And now here it is December 14 and I'm sitting here thinking "Gee, maybe I should make some cookies or something." Needless to say, I haven't been nearly as productive as I was hoping!

We did actually manage to find the time to make several Christmas gifts this year! (yes you read that right) I haven't made anyone a Christmas gift since It's SO FUN!!

That has a lot to do with my lack of writing. After everyone has opened their gifts I'll have a few fun crafty ideas to share with you!

Anyway, nothing really exciting to share with you. I just wanted to take an opportunity to say Merry Christmas!! Enjoy the season but please don't forget the reason behind it!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Thank you Google for letting me borrow this image!
Who doesn't love this time of year? I mean really, with so many different gatherings and yummy foods or treats to eat, what's not to love?

I am also thrilled beyond belief that I will be spending my first Thanksgiving in EIGHT YEARS with my extended family in Wichita. Can. NOT. Wait!

In honor of this big occasion, I decided to spend a little time making a couple treats to share with everyone while we're there. You know, to prove my "adulthood." ...or something like that.

So I decided to make some candied almonds and candied pecans. The almond recipe came from a friend and co-worker of mine in NC. Let me tell you, they are delicious! The pecan recipe came from....what else? Pinterest of course!

Because I lack the ability to do just one thing at a time, I decided that I could successfully cook both recipes simultaneously. You know, throw the almonds into the oven to begin roasting while I start putting pecan ingredients in my crock pot, then work my way back and forth until both recipes are completed.

I've always been amazed at my mother's ability to cook twelve billion things for a meal at the same time, and have everything done at exactly the right time and cooked to perfection. Sometimes I like to pretend I am as awesome as she is.

***Side note: I took photos all throughout this process to make sure everything was documented. However, when I downloaded them onto my computer, this is what they look like:

SIGH. Technology is NOT my friend lately! ***

Anyway, the almonds went into a cold oven (set on 350 for 12-15 ish minutes)

I had turned my crock pot on high about 15 minutes early so it was already hot, then put in an entire stick of butter and mixed it with 1 lb halved pecans.

Back to the oven.....which was smoking! Matt started running around our tiny apartment opening windows and fanning the smoke detector. Then I remembered accidentally dripping grease in the bottom of the oven a few nights back, and suggest that he just disconnects the smoke detector so the grease can just burn off. My plan has changed and I'm now cooking "smokey candied almonds" Fabulous.

Back to the crock pot to stir in 1/2 Cup of powdered sugar.

Back to the oven to stir the smokey almonds.

Crock pot.


You get the idea.

Surprisingly in the end, both recipes turned out great!

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I sincerely hope you can all enjoy each moment you spend with friends and family over the next few days. What are you thankful for this year?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thoughts from a heap

I think we have finally been in our new apartment long enough that we’re ready to start dealing with all the junk. You know, the “crap heap” as we so affectionately call it. Let me give you some advice: If you ever move cross-country, sell everything before you leave. EVERYTHING. You can buy new clothes when you get to where you’re going, I promise. We were advised to sell some things before we left but just couldn’t let go of all the things we most certainly would “need.” So instead, we paid to get it all here then….well….we sold it. Two love seats, one sofa, a very large desk, a table saw, lawn mower, two end tables and one coffee table. You know, small stuff that was cheap and easy to get here (insert sarcastic font).

Once we cleared out all the extra furniture, I found box after box full of “keepsakes.” I am extremely sentimental, and have a tendency to hang onto everything that reminds me of someone or something special.

When I was a kid, my mom used to occasionally lock herself in my room with a box and clean everything out. I’ve never had the ability to determine what is truly a keepsake and what is not. I would be so sad because she threw out my “treasures” when really she was doing me a favor.

I digress…

I spent a few evenings and went through each and every note and card that I’ve kept for all these years. And as I read the notes, I felt so many different emotions.

I laughed at the gossipy notes and cards from highschool…the ones filled with weekend plans, silly chatter and the occasional “so-and-so totally has a crush on you!”

All the birthday cards, graduation cards, and “just because” cards made me feel warm and fuzzy because I have been so blessed in life with family and life-long friends who love me and have always wanted the best for me.

But then I cried. A lot.

I cried because of friendships which have grown apart over time. Because of friendships which weren’t allowed to even grow to a real depth, because life just kind of got in the way. I stopped and thought about it for a while and it kind of makes sense. I left Kansas after highschool, spent the better part of four years in Florida with friends from all over the country. Then moved to North Carolina for three years and was just settling into some really good friendships when we found out we were moving to Texas. I cried because we haven’t found our Texas friends yet, and I had to be completely honest with myself.….I’m kind of lonely.  

But you know, we never really appreciate the sun until we’ve had a few cloudy days, right? I guess sometimes it takes being uncomfortable to regroup and focus on what really matters.

This whole year has been the most stretching and growing time I’ve ever experienced. Parts of it have been total mountain top experiences, and parts of it have been scary and lonely. It’s a process. I’m at a point of looking back and reflecting, but I’m ready to start looking forward and anticipating what is to come. I’m discovering who I really am; as a woman, as a wife, and most importantly as a child of God.

I’ll be just fine.

Can you believe I got all that from a crap heap? ; )


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crafty or crazy?

Recently, I have been thinking about doing something. I mean REALLY thinking about it for a long time. I guess you could say I finally decided to stop weighing everyone else's pros and cons and try it for myself. "What could this be" you ask?

Homemade laundry soap (aka "washing powders" if you're in the South) 

Did you cringe like I did the first time I heard of someone making it? Sounds a little crazy right? Granted, if it works and I really like it, this could save a LOT of money in the next several months. Couldn't hurt to try.

Oh, and I took pictures of the process because in all the blogs I've read about homemade laundry soap, not one of them had pictures and I am a VERY picture-oriented person. I might have tried this sooner if I just would have had some pictures to look at! 

First, the ingredients. Total cost for these three items was approximately $9.00 (I should get two batches out of the bar of soap, and probably 5-8 batches out of the Borax and Washing Soda.) Recipe calls for 2 cups of grated Fels-Naptha soap, 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda, and you use 2 Tbsp per full load of laundry.

I cut the Fels-Naptha soap into chunks so it would be easier to grate

And used my handy dandy cheese grater because I always seem to lose a nail or a chunk of skin when I try grate something by hand. No bueno.

It kind of looks like cheese. And it took a pretty long time to grate so I took breaks every once in a while.

This picture has nothing to do with the soap, and everything to do with our dinner. We bought a "double pack" of baby back ribs to grill for dinner and this is a picture of Matt discovering what the second set of ribs looks like. He is feeling a little jipped. I thought it was hilarious!

Okay, back to the soap. I took another break from grating to measure out 1 cup of washing soda. (this is NOT the same as baking soda).

Then I measured 1 cup of Borax.

And finally finished grating 2 cups of cheese er, soap.

Then mix everything together. I used a fork to help break down some of the bigger pieces of soap from the grater. I suppose a finer grater would be better, but it all melts the same, and as long as you get it mixed together really good, I really don't see what the difference would be.

Just happened to have an empty canister so I'm keeping the soap in there.

I just put the first load of laundry using this soap into the dryer. They definitely didn't smell perfume-y when I pulled them out of the wash, but smelled clean. I'll be interested to see what we think once they're out of the dryer!

All in all, this was really easy and fun. As long as it cleans my clothes as well as the major laundry brands, I think I'll keep it up for a while! Let me know if you try it and what you think!

Oh, then I made 2-ingredient lemon bars, and they nearly exploded in the oven. I have the worst luck with Pinterest recipes....


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Something heavenly

It's time for healing, time to move on,
it's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time to make right what has been wrong;
it's time to find my way to where I belong

There's a wave that's crashing over me, and all I can do is surrender
Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos, but somehow there's peace
And it's hard to surrender to what I can't see, but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone, time to begin again, re-evaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow Your will or just climbing aimlessly over these hills?
So show me what it is You want from me
I give everything - I surrender

Time to face up, clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out that I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to release all my held back tears

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos, but I believe ...
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life, something heavenly

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos, but now I can see
This is something bigger than me
Larger than life
Something heavenly, something heavenly

Time to face up, clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
~Sanctus Real


Sunday, October 16, 2011


"Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2 ESV

I have an app on my phone called Daily Bible. It puts a new Bible verse on my home screen every day. I've found its a really good way for me to keep meditating on Scripture daily. I can't help but see it every time I pick up my phone.

Galatians 6:2 was my daily verse earlier this week, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I've had a couple really big burdens on my heart for the last couple weeks, and at times it has been really difficult to stay focused on the faithfulness of God, and of the things I know to be truth.

However, the verse didn't make me think even more about my burdens. It made me realize how wrapped up I get in my burdens, and how often I overlook the burdens others are carrying. My heart hurts for my burdens....but if I'm honest with myself, I have to stop and ask myself how bad my heart truly hurts for yours. Can anyone relate?

I read the verse, and immediately countless people were brought to mind who are dealing with some really heavy, scary, or painful burdens. It's so easy to get bogged down when life throws you curve balls. But how much easier is it when you know you're not alone? I want to be the kind of person you know will always be there for you when you're having a tough time. 

 I will bear your burden.


Monday, October 10, 2011

The day I almost got kicked out of college.

I consider myself to be a good girl to the core. A rule follower. But I almost got kicked out of college my Sophomore year. *GASP*

I don’t tell this story very often, because unless you understand the college I went to, you won’t understand the story. But since it was specifically requested, and because it really is funny now (it wasn’t at the time, believe me!) I will write it for your reading pleasure.

Let me begin by saying that I do not and WILL NOT badmouth the college I went to. No, I don’t agree with the way everything is done there, but like everything else in life, you have to take the bad with the good, and make the most out of every opportunity you’re given. Also, there is no doubt in my mind that God called me to go there, and although I sometimes wonder why I couldn’t have gone to a “normal” school, I really can’t complain because I met my husband there, and that alone is a lot to be thankful for!

Speaking of meeting my husband, he actually has a lot to do with me almost getting kicked out.

Go figure.   :)

Matt and I started dating near the beginning of my Sophomore year at PCC. That fall, a group of our friends got a bunch of people together to go out to dinner for someone’s birthday. If you’re not familiar with PCC rules, in order to leave campus in a “mixed” group (ie guys and girls together), we had to get a chaperone. Being off campus in a mixed group sans chaperone got you an immediate dismissal. Traditionally, the chaperone will arrange to meet you/pick you up on campus, drive to wherever you want to go, spend that meal with you, then take you back and drop you off. Easy enough, right?

I don't really remember all the fine details about this event. All I knew was that the chaperones had told us they weren’t coming to campus to get us, they would just meet us at the restaurant on the beach. None of the girls had cars, so we got into odd numbered “mixed” groups (odd numbers so it would be clear we were being “good” on our way to meet the chaperones) and drove to the restaurant. The chaps arrived right about the time we did, so we went in and enjoyed a lovely dinner away from the chaos of the campus dining hall. When we got ready to leave, the  chaps walked us out into the parking lot and said, “Okay, tell us who rode in which cars.” So we did, and they said “Great! You guys go straight back to campus and have a good night!” and then they left.

The next day, I was going about my normal busy schedule, and stopped to check my mailbox after lunch. My heart nearly came out of my body when I saw a small green slip of paper with MY name and ID number on it. These green slips of paper, “call slips” as they are called, are almost always a VERY BAD THING. But since I couldn’t think of anything I had done wrong, I tried to not worry about it, and just showed up in the Student Life office at my appointed time. I brought some notes to study, because I had a quiz in my next class. Long story short, I found out that the chaps had gone to Student Life to inform them that we drove to the restaurant in odd-numbered mixed groups without a chaperone. I was so confused. “But we did exactly  what the chaperone TOLD us to do! And they knew we all drove together like that, and didn’t say a word about it!” I thought to myself. The lady in Student Life told me that I would be shadowed by a floor leader until Student Life could meet to discuss whether we would be allowed to stay or not. “Shadowing” is also a VERY BAD THING, and I am one of the only people I know of who has been shadowed and lived to tell about it. While you are being shadowed, you are not allowed to speak with anyone on campus other than the floor leader who is shadowing you, and you are only allowed to call home to speak with your parents. Aside from the time we spent in a shelter for Hurricane Ivan, that night while I was being shadowed was the longest of my college years! I was passed around from floor leader to floor leader. I cried and cried, wondering how I (a girl who NEVER got in trouble) was probably going to be sent home the next day. What would my parents say??

Long story short, when I went back to Student Life the next morning, I was told that since I was completely honest with them about everything, and since the chaperones should have done things differently, that I  would be allowed to stay at school, given 50 demerits (less than half of what this type of “offense” normally would be worth), and socialed for two weeks. (Socialed=can’t speak to anyone of the opposite sex except a teacher).

I think the moral of this story is that even good girls can get in trouble, so you might as well be a bad girl.  Nevermind, there really isn't a moral to this story. It's just one of those stories that makes me laugh when I think about when Matt and I started dating.

The end.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Grand Slam and a Hot Dog Stand

This is not my photo. I borrowed it from Google images.

I'm really curious about who, exactly, determined that baseball is the "all-American" sport? I'm sure there is history behind this of which I am simply unaware. But seriously....someone please enlighten me! I don't hate baseball, I'm just not it's biggest fan.

Matt and I were given tickets to the Texas Rangers game last night. We were pretty excited to go. But because we have both become so insanely cheap er, frugal (thank you for that, Mr. Dave Ramsey) we were probably mostly excited about the game when we found out that Wednesday nights are "Doller Hot Dog Night." WooHoo!! A baseball game AND cheap food? We are so. there.

I even ate two hot dogs because seriously, you just can't beat that price.

We found our seats and settled in for the start of the game. I had decided early on that I was going to pay really close attention and not miss a thing in this game. Usually, I'm the girl at the game who is just chatting away until everyone starts cheering and clapping, then I'm in a confused state wondering, "What happened? What did I miss??"

Yes. THAT girl. But this time was definitely going to be different. I was determined!

The players all took their places out on the field and the first pitch was made.

"Hey Matt, what color are we?"

"We're the ones wearing the shirts that say "TEXAS" on them."

I squinted my eyes to try read their shirts. "I can't read the shirts. Are we white or gray?"


By the second inning I was really tired of trying to pay attention to the game. Why do all those "vendor" people (you know, the ones running around yelling "ice cold beer" or "peanuts" or "cotton candy") have to wear such neon shirts and yell so loud? Like that's not distracting.

I briefly re-gained my concentration and paid attention throughout the third inning (might have been the fourth or fifth....but who's counting?) when we got several runs followed by a grand slam. I will admit that  inning was very exciting. There is something really cool about watching all different kinds of people cheering and high-fiving each other. If baseball was always that exciting, I'd love it!

Speaking of all the different kinds of people, my oh my the people you see at a baseball favorite was the little white-haired grandma with a drum who would stand up and beat the drum in time to the music. She was hilarious!

Come to think of it, maybe I really do like baseball games after all. Sure, I might not go for the game but does that really matter?

People watching is a sport, too.


Monday, August 1, 2011


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

I remember the day Matt told me he was frustrated enough with his job that he would pack everything up that very minute and move somewhere else for a better opportunity. It kind of made my head spin a little. I hate change, and moving somewhere else would definitely be a big change. For as long as Matt and I have been together, we'd always planned to live in North Carolina."But what about everything we have here? What about your family? What about our friends? What about our house? What about our church? What about MY job?" To which he responded with something about every door being closed and feeling like he was against a brick wall. Honestly, I had a really hard time listening over the multitude of questions in my head.

For the next several months, he kept applying to jobs in and around Charlotte, then eventually started looking in Winston, Greensboro, even as far away as Raleigh and other big cities outside of North Carolina. Nothing.

Things got more discouraging for him at work. He became more and more discouraged as a person, and we were completely miserable. It's a really helpless feeling as a wife to watch your husband go through that. It was the most challenging and lonely time I've ever experienced.

But slowly, without us really noticing at first, our hearts were starting to change. Things started happening that, although they didn't make sense at the time, changed the way we looked at all the situations we had previously been concerned about. We heard about a couple of potential job openings in other places, so we decided to put our house on the market right after New Year's, so we would be free to go at any time to any place God might lead.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We closed the sale on our house last Friday, July 29, 2011. Both of us signed the papers from our own offices at our new jobs in Dallas, Texas. I've tried and tried to put down on paper the way I felt at that moment, and I just can't do it. The last year of my life has been one huge lesson in faith. A lesson in "trust in the Lord with all your heart." A lesson in "do not depend on your own understanding." For months we tried to do it on our own. I couldn't for the life of me understand why Matt's job was as miserable as it was. I couldn't understand why our house took nearly 8 months to sell.

But then we decided to "let go and let God" and things started happening.

We prayed and prayed for a career opportunity for Matt, and God allowed Matt to be chosen for an awesome job in Texas.

We cried over having so many bills to pay with just one income, and God miraculously provided a job for me so quickly that I never even missed a paycheck.

We started trying to be better stewards of the things we have been blessed with, and God multiplied our money in ways we could never have imagined.

We tightened our belts, and God tightened our marriage.

We stopped trusting our plans and God showed us exactly which steps to take.

There is no better place in the world than the center of where God wants us. We just have to trust Him.
This has not been an easy lesson. Change is always a little hard in one way or another, even when you know for sure you are where you're supposed to be. There were so many times I couldn't see beyond the discomfort of a particular situation, in order to see what the big picture was. It's kind of the proverbial "I can't see the forest for all the trees" scenario.

But just keep seeking Him, and "He will show you which path to take."

Thank you Jesus!


Thursday, July 14, 2011


I have been excited for dinner tonight since I left for work around 7:30 a.m. Why? you may ask. Because we are having my world famous BBQ Chicken Pizza.

You have to understand, I'm pretty much a cheese and pepperoni only kind of girl when it comes to pizza. The very thought of chicken on a pizza is usually quite disgusting to me. But this recipe is something I created for Matt, who enjoyed a similar pizza at this restaurant we used to go to in Charlotte. I kept trying to copy the restaurant version until I mastered it (SUPER easy!), and now we are both in LOVE with it! (It's also pretty low-calorie as long as you watch the kind of BBQ sauce and crust you use!)

Want the recipe?

First here's your shopping list:
3-4 Chicken Breasts, cooked and shredded. (See Crockpot Chicken idea!)
1 Red Onion (small) sliced thin
1 SMALL Bunch Fresh Cilantro chopped finely
2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese
1 Pizza Crust-I usually use the Pillsbury kind in the can because it's super good and quick!
BBQ Sauce-I ususally use Sweet Baby Rays because it's the best! (not very low-calorie however)

1. Preheat your oven. Grease your pizza pan or cookie sheet and prepare your pizza crust. I'm assuming everyone knows how to do these things. :)
2. Cover the crust with the BBQ sauce. Again, assuming we're all good here.
3. Layer the chicken, onion and cilantro like normal pizza toppings. Cover with Mozzarella. (I also usually do a thin "swirl" of BBQ sauce on top of everything, to make it look pretty.)
4. Bake according to your pizza crust baking directions. Enjoy!

You have to PROMISE ME that if you try it you let me know what you think! It's okay to tell me if you don't like it. I'll know you clearly didn't make it right... ;) Kidding, of course!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sewing Fail.

As I mentioned in my last post, I got a sewing machine for my birthday! I have been SO excited to get all crafty and create beautiful things with it. I talked to a friend of mine who recently started sewing as well, and she told me about her very first project: an adorable duffle bag! So I thought to myself, "I have to have one!!"

On Sunday, I drove over to Joann's to find the pattern and pick out some cute fabric for my new duffle bag. I could already picture in my mind what it would look like. This was so exciting!

I confidently walked over to the table with the catalogs of patterns and flipped through the pages until I found the one I wanted. It was even cuter in the picture than what I had imagined! My mind was racing with thoughts like, "Everyone is going to love my new bag...maybe I could sew them for Christmas presents! Or-even better-I could sell them and make a fortune!" Can't you just hear my mind squealing with excitement???

By this point, I was flipping through the stacks of patterns in the drawer (aren't you impressed I even knew how to locate a pattern?). And finally, there it was in my hands, the pattern I'd been looking for!

Okay, here goes Fail #1:

 The pattern cost $18.95.


It's not that $18.95 is really that much money. I just have a really hard time paying $18.95 for TISSUE PAPER! Guess I needed a reality check about how much sewing costs. I thought it was supposed to be a cheaper alternative to buying things?
I talked myself into getting over the cost of the pattern and turned it over to figure out how much material I would need.

And that was Fail #2:

 Did anyone ever tell you they write the pattern description and instructions in Greek? Seriously! I stood there a good 15 minutes studying it and I couldn't make heads or tails.

Needless to say, I stuffed my pride into the drawer with the pattern and left the store empty handed.

Well, that's not completely true. I picked up a "Learn to Sew With Joann!" brochure on my way out...


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Being Myself

I will admit, I am somewhat EXTREMELY insecure. Recently I had an idea for a business I'd like to start someday, and wouldn't you know a girl I know started a business doing the same thing a couple weeks ago! Naturally my reaction wasn't "Great! Maybe I can pick her brain about what has worked and what hasn't." Instead my reaction was "I'm sure she's better at it than I would have been anyway. I guess it's not even worth my time to try."

Well hello Ms. Pessimistic Pants!

I am just so afraid of people thinking that what I do or say (or write!) is dumb.

Does anyone else do this, or is it just me? I get so excited about something, only to become my own biggest enemy. I suppose this is my biggest weakness as a person. Insecurity.

During the last couple of months, I've been doing some serious soul searching. I've always looked at girls who have natural, obvious talents, and wished I could be more like them. No one has ever specifically told me that I would be really good at cooking, or crafting, or decorating, or sewing, or baking, or etc. etc. etc. I've always assumed that if I had these talents, surely someone would tell me, right?

The truth of the matter is, I've never even tried to figure out what my own talents are. I've always been so worried about what people will think if they found out that I messed up, or did something poorly, or (heaven forbid) cooked something nasty. I mean, wouldn't you laugh at me???

Truthfully, we probably have all the same struggles. What are you insecure about?

I'm so tired of being this way, I think I'm ready to just dive right in and figure out who I am! I already know that (if I may say so) I am a pretty good cook most of the time. I also have recently started crafting some cards and small gifts and am thoroughly enjoying that! My newest adventure started with my birthday present from Matt: a sewing machine!

This will be a new adventure for me: Sharing with you my trials and failures through the world of blogging. But you know what? I'm just going to learn how to be myself and how to be okay with myself. So that means you have to be okay with me too!

I read this quote from E.E. Cummings today: "To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest human battle ever and to never stop fighting."

I'm fighting the fight to be myself. And if I fail at something, it will just give us all something to laugh at, right?


Thursday, June 16, 2011

I scream, you scream, we all scream for......CHICKEN??

Okay, I have one more recipe to try out (tonight) before I post my first weekly meal plan! I found a couple really great recipes this week...hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I did!

Since I'm not ready to post the entire thing yet, I thought I'd just tell you about the MOST AMAZING WAY EVER that I have discovered to cook chicken. I'm telling you, it's fabulous!

Lots of recipes I use call for chicken, which you have to cook before you can even start on the rest of the recipe. I have always wished there was a buying pre-cooked meat! Instead, I have started doing this:

In the morning before I leave for work, I put about 5-6 FROZEN chicken breasts into my crockpot, season lightly with salt, pepper, garlic powder (just a sprinkle), and depending on what I'm using the chicken for, maybe some minced onions. (minced instead of fresh, because fresh onions will turn to slime by the end of the day. Believe me, I've tried it...NOT good!) Then I pour about 1/2 cup of water in, put the lid on, and cook on LOW until I get home from work.

**The first time I tried this, I didn't put water in the bottom and the chicken was like leather when I got home. Ick. Apparently the water is VERY important!**

When I get home, I pull the chicken out with some tongs and use a fork to shred it (takes about 10 seconds because the chicken is SO tender and juicy!) Have you ever bought a rotissere chicken from the grocery store? That is the only way I can describe the tenderness and juciness of this chicken. It's great!

So what can you do with it? Here are just a couple ideas:

* Use for ANY recipe that needs cooked chicken.
* Put on a bun or flatbread for an alternative to lunchmeat.
* Chicken salad.
* BBQ Chicken Pizza (*recipe to come!*)

Keep an eye out for a meal plan in the next couple days!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meal Plans. UGH

I absolutely love being a wife. In fact, I really hope that some day in the near future, I can quit working and just be a full time wife/stay at home mom! (We are still negotiating how NEAR the "near future" is...)

So for now, with both of us working full time, it is a real struggle to plan and prepare for meals all week long. Call me lazy, but I don't necessarily want to spend my entire evening going to the grocery store, then cooking and cleaning up a huge gourmet meal. I really REALLY love to cook, but there are plenty of other things I love to do as well.

I've learned that organization is key (go figure!) and I always do better if I sit down on the weekend and make a meal plan, write my grocery list (organized by section because I HATE to backtrack in the store) and head out for my weekly trip.

I love to follow weekly meal plans, like what you can find online (occasionally) or published in a magazine. The only problem is that I don't want to have to pay for the plans (since I'm also trying to keep the grocery budget as small as possible)so I figured, "Why don't I just make my own?" And better yet, maybe I could start putting my meal plans up on here or on Facebook just in case they might be helpful for someone else who has the same struggle??

So that's the plan. Stay tuned to see if it actually happens!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Has it really been 3 years?

Today is our THIRD anniversary! So hard to believe that it has really been that long since I walked down that aisle to my (very) teary-eyed husband-to-be! We have had some amazing times together. I can't wait for the next 70 years!


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Workin' 9 to 5...

Just a quick note today, got lots to do!

The new job is going GREAT so far! Definitely less stressful than my other job, but I certainly miss everyone there a lot. It's going to be a little interesting to try learn a completely new industry, but I'm really ready for a big change like this!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Well, we made it to Texas! We spent a crazy week trying to pack up the house and get everything loaded onto the moving truck, then said our final "See you later!"s (it's never "Goodbye"!) and started driving.

Matt drove the 25-ish foot truck, and I followed him in my car with the dogs. All in all, it was a really smooth trip. The dogs rode very well in their "car seats" we made by nesting the top and bottom halves of their travel crates, and setting them in the back seat. Oscar gave me a heart attack a couple times when he woke up from a nap, saw his own reflection in the window, and gave (himself) a friendly ferocious barking-greeting. Uff da.

I did such a good job for months holding everything (and myself) together with all the stress of this move. Something really weird happened when we drove across the TX state line and I literally fell apart! I don't think it had all really sunk in before that point. It just became so real, and I was SO RELIEVED that Matt and I were going to be back together that I just cried and cried.....and cried. I'm sure Matt was very happy he was in the truck and got to miss this whole breakdown. Not that I blame him, I mean I was a little embarrassed for myself! ;)

I am slowly but surely getting the apartment put together. It's a little more difficult than I expected to fit an 1800 sq. ft. house into an 850 sq. ft. apartment, but we're making it work! The only complaint that I have is that the dogs LUCY misses her yard. But all in good time, we'll be back in a house with a yard and she can chase squirrels to her heart's content again!

The biggest news right now is that I start my new job TOMORROW!! I never could have imagined that I'd find something this quickly. God has been so faithful throughout this entire process...The timing worked out so perfectly, that I'll never even miss getting a pay check. WOW GOD!

Guess I better get back at it, I'm guessing these boxes aren't going to unpack themselves...


Friday, April 1, 2011

Catching up...and starting over!

Wow. It's been a year since my last post. Entry? ... Not really sure what to call it.

So we're dealing with some pretty big changes from a year ago! It's now 14 days until the end of tax season 2010, which is probably more exciting to me than anyone else in the world. It's my LAST ONE!!

We're moving to TEXAS! Crazy huh? I can hardly believe it myself. This is something we have talked and dreamed about for months, and it's finally really happening. So far, 2011 has been an insane year with lots of big changes for us. Matt got a job offer with the TX company the first week in January, rented a moving truck, and drove out to start work the last week in January. I felt very strongly about finishing out this tax season with my job (the reason behind that decision is a whole separate story!). So I have been holding down the fort in Charlotte, trying to sell the house, trying to keep my sanity through a tax season which has kicked my tail, trying to find a new job, trying to convince myself that I'm stronger than I feel. It's been a definite growing experience!

I'm going to try to keep this up a little more regularly. I'll probably have lots to talk about in the next few months!