Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back on 2009

I am going to TRY and pick just one thing from each month of 2009 that stands out. Let's see if I can do it.

John had his last first day of school!
Last First Day February
We celebrated Valentine's Day with homemade pizza and chocolate fondue. I really think we will do that again this year!

Fondue March
I went to visit my BFF Beth in North Carolina and really can't wait to see her again!!
I participated in Baylor's 2nd Relay for Life with my office.
Relay for Life John took his comprehensive oral exams and PASSED! It was such a stressful week!
Studying May - Don't ask me to keep this list short. A lot happened. A lot of GOOD STUFF!
John was ordained at our church in Hamilton. Such an incredible service.
John's Ordination We went to College Station to see my brother's band play. He is an amazing drummer!
Mark's Show John graduated with a Master of Divinity from Truett Seminary and a Master of Music from Baylor. It was a long 4 years!
Truett Graduation John took me "camping" for a thank you for supporting him through school. It was an amazing weekend!
Austin Weekend My sister also graduated from Baylor!
Whit's Graduation Brunch We went to Austin and got to visit our sweet friends The Eppers!
Isabelle June
John had his tonsils taken out. So not fun!
Surgery I got my MacBook Pro!
I'm a Mac. July
We made the announcement to our work and church that we would be moving to Victoria.
Moving I went all Apple and got my iPhone!
John and I celebrated 4 years of marriage!
We moved from Waco to Victoria.
Moving Out Our sweet friends The Broaddus' were our first house guests!
Games After only a VERY short time of looking for a job, I got a job that I love! It is challenging work but I love it!

My sister and her husband came to visit!
The Boiling Pot John's mom and sister came for a visit!
3D And my mom came for to visit. We had lots of guests in September!
John did his part to Keep Victoria Beautiful!
takin out the trash We had a weekend full of visiting friends all over the place!
Isabelle's First Birthday We went back to Baylor for Homecoming!
Homecoming 2009 November
We pulled a very fun prank on a co-worker of John's.
Stapler in Jello Our sweet friends Candace and Maddox came to visit.
Maddox December
John forgot me.
We had snow in Victoria!
Snow! We celebrated our first Christmas in Victoria!

A lot has happened this year and I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for us in 2010!

I pray that you all have a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Ps: Can you believe 10 years ago we were freaking out about Y2K?!?!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

i would.. to share lots of photos and stories about our wonderful Christmas.

My favorite series of photos of John opening a present I gave him that he was so surprised to open. It was PERFECT! But I can't.

I really would love to share them. However I am having serious issues with Flickr right now and can't seem to get my photos to upload and I seriously don't even want to uploading them with Blogger's format.

So, in the meantime I will tell you that it was fabulous. We spent a few days with John's mom and sister here in Victoria. It was our first time to host Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and all those festivities at our house. It was so fun!

Then we spent a few days up in the Dallas area visiting my family.

So it looks like Christmas posts will spill over into the New Year. But that just means we get to spread Christmas out even more.

I hope you all had a blessed Christmas with your family and friends.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Christmas Card
our 2009 Christmas card.

Merry Christmas friends! I pray that each of you has a wonderful day filled with family and friends as you celebrate the birth of our Lord. I love you all!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

almost time!

Happy Christmas Eve!

The food is {pretty much} done.

We are on our way to a Christmas Eve lunch with friends.

I got a mani/pedi this morning.

John's mom is coming this afternoon.

John's sister is coming tonight.

LOTS of yummy Christmas treats have been made.


are you?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

Peppermint Marshmallows
I have been wanting to try homemade marshmallows for a few years now but never have for some reason. Because this year is my first time to host Christmas I am going all out making all kinds of sweet treats!

These are definitely going to be a tradition now. They are EASY and so fabulous. You do have to be very careful though working with the boiling sugar but just like making any's so worth it.

Peppermint Marshmallows
I decided to add something extra and make these peppermint marshmallows. They are so wonderful as they melt into homemade hot chocolate. Yum! I also added some red food coloring when I added the extracts and that was a mistake...they turned pink. I am going to make these again and add the food coloring once they are in the pan and swirl it in then.

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows
adapted from Alton Brown

3 packets unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice water, divided
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 crushed candy canes
few drops of red food coloring (optional)

You will also need:
stand mixer
9 x 13" pan
non stick spray

Place the contents of the gelatin packets into the bowl of a stand mixer. (Use a stand mixer if you have it because the mixture will have to go on high speed for about 12 minutes.) Add 1/2 cup of the ice water.

Stir gently to combine and then set that bowl aside.

In a small saucepan combine: remaining 1/2 cup water, corn syrup, granulated sugar, and salt. Stir mixture to combine and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then clip a candy thermometer onto the pan.

The sugar mixture needs to remain on a simmer and come to a temperature of 245 degrees F. It may take 20 minutes or so, so keep an eye on the temp.

After the mixture reaches 245 degrees, remove from heat. This is where you need to be very careful; while your mixer runs on low speed, you need to slowly pour the sugar mixture into the bowl with the gelatin.

After you add the entire sugar mixture to the gelatin turn the beater speed up to med-high. Continue to whip for 12-15 minutes, adding the vanilla and peppermint in the last few minutes of beating.

Immediately put your sticky pan and utensils from the sugar mixture into very hot, soapy water. The quicker you get it soaking the quicker the sticky stuff will come off!

While the marshmallow is whipping prepare your pan. Combine the cornstarch and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Spray a 9 x 13" pan with non stick spray and coat the bottom and sides with the cornstarch mixture. Tap excess out and save it.

When your marshmallows are done beating the mixture should be thick and white and luke warm and look like that marshmallow fluff from a jar. But it's so much better!

Grab a spatula and scrape the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan. The stuff is sticky so don't worry about getting every last gooey drop because you won't! Immediately put the dirty dish in the sink with hot soapy water.

I found a lot of tips that said to spray my spatula with non-stick spray. This works so well. Once the marshmallow mixture is all in the pan you'll need to spread it out. Spray the back of a large spoon with non-stick spray and spread it that way. It will be kind of lumpy, but just keep spraying and patting and get it as smooth as you can.

Now, crush the candy canes in a plastic ziploc baggy and then sprinkle over the top. Sort of pat the crushed candy canes down a little so they stick to the marshmallows.

Let the pan sit at room temperature for several (5 or 6) hours or overnight.

When they're ready to cut dust your surface with the cornstarch powdered sugar mixture and just pull the marshmallowy sheet out of the pan. It should pop right out.

At this point you could use cookie cutters if you want some cute little shapes. If you do use cookie cutters, you can use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the scraps into mini marshmallows so you don't waste any.

Or, if you're like me, grab a pizza cutter and cut the marshmallow into cubes. It helps to dust your cutting implement with the cornstarch-sugar mixture. Especially after it gets sticky stuff on it.

Once they are cut, dust each marshmallow lightly with the remaining cornstarch mixture. This makes them easy to handle and keeps them from sticking together.

After cutting you'll want to keep these in an air tight container or they will dry out just like store-bought ones do. They'll be good for a couple of weeks if stored well.


I've been working on this post for a couple days now. It's hard to write and it is not one of my normal silly posts about what is going on in our non-exciting lives. I pray that what I say can be somewhat comforting to those who read it.

Something has been heavy on my heart the past few days. Christmas is a time of hope and peace. Hope is something that we all need; some more than others. And peace, we need peace.

I read so many blogs. Probably too many. I spend so much of my time reading and praying over blogs of people I do not know. (my husband really makes fun of me for this.) A blog written by a husband who lost his wife to breast cancer very shortly after their first daughter was born. Blogs written my mothers who have lost their children. Blogs written by women who long to be mothers. I obviously do not have any children yet, but these blogs tug at my heartstrings daily.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
1 John 3:1

I am praying for peace and hope this season for so many. Firsts are hard. First birthdays, first Christmas. First Thanksgiving. First Mother's Day, first Father's Day. First anniversary of knowing/finding out the news. So many firsts and they are all so difficult.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Christ came to bring hope and healing to the suffering. At times I question this in my own life. I have so many questions that I still do not have answers to. But I know that Jesus has me. He has never left me even though I ask, "Why?" And I ask it a lot. My husband has said this before and it brings me so much comfort..God is big enough for my questions.

The steps of the godly are directed by the LORD. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.
Psalms 37:23-2

I have found so much comfort this week in this song. It was a song that we used in our Christmas pageant this year and it is so powerful.

Merry Christmas sweet friends. I pray that you will find peace and hope during this Christmas.

I love you all!

Monday, December 21, 2009

the pickle


One of my favorite traditions growing up centered around a pickle ornament. After we would decorate the tree my mom would hide this ornament deep within the branches of the tree and my brother, sister and I would race to try and find it. As we grew up the gift for the winner turned from candy or socks to a Starbucks gift card. It was fabulous. Fortunately, I was VERY good at finding the pickle and found it every year. Then John and I got married and he ALWAYS finds the ornament now. Whitney and Mark really don't like that.

I haven't decided if we are going to continue the tradition this year. I really would love to, but our tree isn't very big so there aren't very many places I could put it. Also, our tree isn't too full.

I do know that I can't wait until I can hide the ornament for our children {someday}. For now, the pickle hangs on our tree with all of our other ornaments.


Honeybun Cake

Honeybun Cake

Raise your hand if you like to eat leftover cake for breakfast? Come know you do!

My mom made this cake all the time growing up. It's breakfast but tastes like you are eating dessert. Perfect!

Honeybun Cake
Lady's Recipe

1 yellow cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup canola oil
4 eggs

1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons milk

Combine cake mix, sugar, buttermilk and oil in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 inch pan.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the cake and swirl into batter.
Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

Once the cake is done, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk and drizzle over the cake.

This is the very best served warm straight out of the oven!!

Check out the recipe below..I've got lots of recipes coming out this week!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

Lady made this soup many times growing up. It was definitely a favorite in our family and now this is probably one of John's all time favorite soup recipes. He loves it and will request it anytime I ask him what soup he wants. And it couldn't be easier!

This soup is so creamy and perfect for a cold wintery night. Curl up with a bowl of this and your sweetie and you will be nice and warm! It is so comforting and wonderful!

Make will be wonderful and easy before Christmas or fabulous after!

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder
Lady's Recipe

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup hot water
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups half and half
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1 (16 oz) can cream corn
2 cups frozen corn
2 (4 oz) cans chopped green chilies, undrained
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. In a dutch oven, brown chicken, onion and garlic in butter until chicken is no longer pink. Dissolve bouillon in hot water, add to pan along with cumin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add half and half, cheese, corn, chilies and Tabasco. Cook and stir over low heat until the cheese is melted.

Serve immediately with tomatoes and cilantro on top!

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's official!


I am officially off work for 2 weeks people!!

And I am beyond excited to bake, watch Christmas movies, stay up late and sleep in, snuggle with my hubby, cook and get ready for Christmas!

The best part...ALL of my gifts are bought and wrapped and under the tree. Yep. I'm all done!

Tomorrow I am getting up semi early, heading to the grocery store before the rush and getting lots of Christmas baking done! Can't wait!!

I'm also finalizing my menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

AND.....I'm going to be posting some new stuff over at Lindsay's Kitchen. I promise!

Happy weekend friends and happy Christmas break!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

makin' me happy

I am just about finished Christmas shopping..YAY!

Christmas is a week from TOMORROW!!

This will be our first time to host Christmas at our house. I am beyond excited and can't wait to start cooking next week.

Tomorrow is my last day of work for 2 weeks! I cannot wait to spend LOTS of time baking cooking and getting ready for Christmas!

I have already been to 4 Christmas parties and have 2 more coming up. So fun!

I still have to wrap all my presents..that will be done tomorrow night.

My sweet little student that I mentor made me a cinnamon smelly good thingy and I love it! It is making my kitchen smell amazing!

I finished addressing, stuffing and stamping our MANY Christmas cards and they are in the mail today! (I will post the picture after they are received so I don't spoil the surprise!)

Lotsa things are makin' me happy today!

Love you friends!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Tour of Homes 2009!

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester
Thanks for stopping by! Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, or cider, or wassail, or Dr Pepper and enjoy our Christmas decorations!

I really wish I could have everyone over to my home for a Christmas Blog Friends Party but this will have to work for now!

Our Christmas tree. We bought this after our first married Thanksgiving and it was the perfect size for our apartment when we lived in Waco. I love the skinner size.
Our Christmas tree skirt is from Africa. We bought it at Amani Ya Juu and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!
Of course, we have a couple more Baylor ornaments, but this is my favorite! my mom got me this when I was still an undergrad. Sic 'em Christmas!
Another sweet ornament from Amani in Africa.
I had this made for our First Christmas ornament.
Love monagrams...this is from Pottery Barn a couple years ago.
Another Africa ornament.
This is from our vacation to Upstate NY summer 2008.
Our chili pepper Santa from Santa Fe. This was from our summer 2006 trip.
John makes fun of this but I love it! My mom gave me this sweet ornament this year. It's so old...
It still has the sticker on the back that says, "Made in Western Germany."
Tabletop Christmas tree
I would love more Christmas pillows..I love them!
Sweet snowman candle. I also love this Christmas has old fashioned jingle bells and little gingerbread men in there!
I LOVE nativities! I have a few that I wasn't able to put out this year due to lack of space, but I have my favorites...
We got this one in Santa Fe. It is made out of driftwood.
My mom gave me this one from her collection this year.
This one is from Africa.
Another one from Africa...hand carved!
This is up all year, but it's my Madonna and Child Sid Dickens tile.
Southern Living Christmas...LOTS of good yummy recipes!
Cute little fat snowman and a container to hold all of our Christmas cards. I love going to the mailbox everyday and opening Christmas cards!!
Sweet little gingerbread boy and girl in my kitchen.

Thank you so much for stopping by! Leave a comment that you were here so I can come by and visit your blog!

Love you all friends and Merry Christmas!!!
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