Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Year in Review (2008 edition.)...

The fact that 2008 is coming to a close leaves me with mixed feelings. In many ways I feel like many things were accomplished and happened that were positive; but, in other ways I feel like there are many things that I did not accomplish that I had really hoped to do.

2008 started out in a semi-stressful yet hopeful situation. I have had a problem with blood-clotting in the past and an ongoing problem with ovarian cyst. My DH and I spent the first few days of 2008 at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville seeing specialists. We left Mayo not really finding out any new information about my conditions. However, I am glad that I didn't find out any bad news. So, right from the beginning God reminded me to count my many blessings.

This year, God is continuing to teach me patience. Ever since a couple of months after my miscarriage we have been trying to get pregnant. My doctor talked to my husband and I about starting Clomid last February. However, I had two rather large ovarian cyst one after another and my doctor decided that I couldn't begin the medicine. In August, my doctor decided to allow me to begin taking Clomid for 6 months since I hadn't had any cysts in several months. So far I have been taking the Clomid for four months. We are just praying that the medicine will work for the next two months and that my cysts will stay away. Hopefully, our prayer for a little one will be answered in 2009. I just need to rest in God's timing and the peace He gives my anxious heart.

In May, I completed my Bachelors degree in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science. It took me a year longer to complete due to my miscarriage. However, I did finally complete it and I have the paper to prove it. Praise the Lord I am finally finished!

This summer my DH spent most of his time studying for his comprehensive exams. However, he was very diligent about spending quality time with me on a regular basis. One thing we did over the summer was take ballroom dancing classes at the local community college. We had so much fun and we learned a lot. We learned the Foxtrot, West Coast Swing, the Cha-Cha, the Waltz (my personal favorite), and the Rumba. Hopefully we will get to take the more advanced class this spring.

This fall I also had the opportunity to take an introduction to photography class at the local community college. I learned a lot of information and as I put what I learned into practice I can see improvement in my photos.

This past September my DH completed and passed his doctoral comprehensive exams with distinction. (Please pardon my bragging on my DH, I am just too proud of him.) My DH also submitted a couple of job applications. One job that he applied for was at the university that he is currently at. The other job that he applied for was in Chicago. My DH was offered the job where he currently works and we accepted it in November. While living in Chicago could be fun, I am southern girl at heart and the closer to our families the better. So needless to say, I am very happy that we will stay put in Texas for at least a year and a half longer. This job will also hopefully help my DH get a job in the southeastern U.S. in the next few years. God has shown Himself more than capable to handle my DH and I's plans by opening up doors that we didn't even know were there. It is amazing how God does that!

The presidential election this November was a really big deal this year. I contributed my vote and the outcome is known. Now I hope that you will join me in prayer for the new president and keep in mind that God is sovereign over everything (including the setting up of kings and leaders). God has given me peace about resting in His control of the political systems of the world. A song from Sunday School comes to mind, "He's got the whole world in His hands, He's got the whole world in His hands..."

Within a week of arriving home from our trip to Florida for Thanksgiving, Jackson joined our crew of dogs. While we still aren't sure if he is staying or not, he did make the trip to Florida with us and seems to fit in just fine. We just keep asking ourselves "Do we really need to have FOUR dogs? FOUR DOGS???" I am sure that you will find out the answer to that question in the months ahead.

This past year I got to visit my family a whole lot more than I did the previous year. My sister came for a visit in March, my in-laws came for a visit in May, I went to the Deeper Still conference with the mom and sister in June, my parents came out for a visit in early August, I was a bridesmaid in a Florida friend's wedding in September, we traveled home to be with family for Thanksgiving, and a little over two weeks later traveled back to Florida for Christmas. See I told you it was often. I am so blessed that God allowed me such wonderful opportunities to spend time with my family this past year. Hopefully I won't be too spoiled for next year.

This year also afforded me with some time to read books I wanted to read. In the past, I always had some sort of reading to do for class. However, since college is now behind me, required reading is also a thing of the past. I broke a personal record for the amount of non-required books I read in a year. I look forward to reading many more books in the year to come.

Books from 2008:
Quiet Strength
What Jane Austin Taught Me About Love and Romance
Wuthering Heights

Redeeming Love (finally finished it after 2 years)

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God
Creative Home Organizer

Okay, so enough summary for the time being. I am curious what happened to you in 2008. I would love to know something God showed you this past year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

These Days after Christmas...

Hi everyone! I hope that your Christmas was wonderful. I had a delightful Christmas Eve and Christmas. My DH and I have made our journey to Florida (with all FOUR of our dogs) and are enjoying the time we are getting to spend with our families.

On Tuesday night, my DH, my family (my dad, my mom, my sister, and my gram), and I went to a Christmas concert. It was very nice to sit and listen to all of the music. The concert is held in an old church and the acoustics in the building are wonderful. We had such a great time.

On Wednesday, we had Christmas Eve at my parents' house. We had a Christmas dinner "Southern Style" which consisted of ham, collard greens, cornbread, and sweet potatoes. After dinner we exchanged gifts and then ate birthday cake in celebration of Jesus.

On Christmas morning, my DH and I drove over to his parents' house in order to be there for breakfast. We spent the day visiting with family and watching our nephews play with their new Wii.

Things have been very laid back around here. I went after Christmas shopping yesterday at Target and bought wrapping paper for next Christmas. We have just been hanging out with family, relaxing, and reading. I am currently reading A Marriage Without Regrets by Kay Arthur. I am only in the fifth chapter, but I am enjoying it immensely. I will have to let you know what I think about the book when I finish it.

So, what are you up to these days after the Christmas rush?

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Homemade Christmas...

The week of Christmas is here. How exciting! I just love this time of year.

The two children that I watch are very special to me and for Christmas I wanted to give them something special. For A. I made a skirt. She likes long skirts that "spin out like a ballerina when I spin." I found this really cute baby corduroy with flower paisleys and little glitter flowers on it. When I gave it to A., she really liked it and I was happy about that.
For J., I had a very hard time figuring out what to do for him. It is hard to come up with a gift for a 19 month old. He is fascinated by my DH and I's dogs and has been walking around for several months. I found in a book this little dog, "Pull Along Patch", made out of plywood. My DH cut him out for me and I painted him. J. really like him and before he left was pulling around his new little dog.
I am not sure that I will be around much before Christmas; but I hope that your days are filled with much joy and laughter.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Southwestern Crawfish Corn Chowder...

This evening I made some chowder for dinner. I got this recipe from my mom and grandmother. It is really delicious. I served it with French bread. I halfed the recipe and it fed my DH and I with a container and a half leftover. I am not sure how this chowder freezes, but I am going to give it a try with my leftovers to see. I hope you enjoy!

Southwestern Crawfish Corn Chowder

1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (7 oz.) can salsa verde*
1 small onion, chopped
3 green onions, chopped (including green parts)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups half-and-half
2 tomatoes, diced
2 (15 oz.) cans cream-style corn
2 (11 oz.) cans Mexican corn
2 (10.75 oz.) cans cream of potato soup
2 cups chicken broth
3 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (16 oz.) packages crawfish tail meat
Garnish: chopped fresh chives

In a large stockpot, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to make a light roux.

Add salsa, onions, and garlic. Cook until onions are wilted, stirring constantly. Add half-and-half, tomatoes, corn, soup, and stock. Add thyme, salt, seasoning, pepper, and cayenne. Stir to blend. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add crawfish and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped chives, if desired.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

*Salsa verde is a green salsa, typically made from tomatillos, green chilies, and cilantro. It is available in the Hispanic foods section of most groceries.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Meme...

~Christmas Faves~

Fresh tree or fake tree?
Fake because the lights are already in it.

I have one that is a little duck that is to commemorate my little baby that is in heaven now.

Christmas song?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel - I belt this song and O Holy Night out when I am alone at home around Christmastime.

We read Luke 2 on Christmas Eve.
We decorate the tree together with ornaments from years gone by.
We buy an ornament that represents that year for each person in the family.
Going to look at Christmas lights.

Favorite gift as a child?
My doll, Christy, who I still have packed away in a box in my laundry.

Christmas meal?
One with family.

Cranberry Rugelach

Place to be?
With my family.

Picking a favorite is hard, one of my faves was when I was 7 or 8 and we went to Albania to spend Christmas with my Dad (he was overseas doing some mission work for 6 months).

Christmas movie?
White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, Serendipity and Narnia (which my DH and I watched last night while wrapping gifts)

Let me know if you are playing along.
I'm interested in your favorites, too.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Loaves, Loaves Everywhere...

Hello friends! It is the end of Friday already and the weekend is here. Do you have a bunch of stuff to do this weekend?

Well, I finished the bread loaves for my DH's co-workers and they have been delivered. I wound up staying up all night baking bread. I ran into a major problem because I only had three loaf pans and I needed them for two different recipes. I wound up going to the grocery at midnight and buying a couple of cheapo pans just to make the whole process bearable.

My DH helped me layout a timetable and kneading dough. All in all I made 24 loaves of bread. I apparently killed the yeast in 4 of my oatmeal loaves and they were better suited for self-defense projectiles than eating. Those 4 loaves found their way to the trash can in short order.

I made 8 loaves of Banana Nut Bread, 8 loaves of Vermont Oatmeal Honey-Maple Bread, and 8 loaves of French Bread. I had hoped to make fabric bread bags to give them in but time got away from me so ribbon and saran wrap had to do. All in all, I was pleased with the way the gifts turned out though.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Australia (The Movie)...

On Saturday night my DH took me on a date. We had dinner and then went to see Australia. I have wanted to see it since I saw the preview for it. I am a very big fan of period films because of the costumes and I am intrigued by the clothing in the early 20th century. The fact that the story involves WWII (which I am very interested in) made the movie a must-see for me.

I don't want to spoil the story for anyone wanting to see the movie, so I will try not to spill too much of the plot. I must admit that from the previews I saw, I expected the story to be little different than it was. I thought that it would show more about the impact WWII had on Australia and less about a particular child of aborigines descent. The part of the story about the cattle drive is very intriguing and really gets you cheering for them. The story is neat and entertaining, just different than I expected.

In regards to questionable material, I know that there was at least one use of a foul word and there is a rather short intimate scene. (I am not sure what all it contained because my DH and I didn't pay attention during that scene.) There are several sexual innuendos and crass talk. There is also the appearance of an ongoing intimate relationship between the two main characters who are not married. Australia is rated PG-13 for some violence, a scene of sensuality, and brief strong language.

All in all, I enjoyed watching it but probably won't watch it again, mainly because of the storyline and length of the movie.

If you have seen Australia I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It Smells Like Icing...

Hey everybody! I hope that you had a great weekend and that your Monday is off to a great start. My DH and I had a nice weekend, but I am sad that it is already over.

This week I made a few cakes for a small wedding reception and I was very happy with the way they turned out. I spent most of Saturday making icing and decorating the cakes. The lady that I made them for was very happy with the job that I did. As my DH and I were driving to her house, I just knew (with a cake caddy being held between my feet and a cake dome in my lap) that we were going to have a wreck and there would be no cakes. Thank the Lord my thoughts aren't always correct.

This is the vanilla cake with fresh raspberry filling.

This is the chocolate cake with fresh raspberry filling.

My DH and I spent the afternoon rearranging the office (dog's room) so that we could fit another crate into the room. My DH likes the way the room looks now and all of the dogs seem content with the new set up.

I finished reading the book Youniquely Woman and I cant wait to share with you some of the things I learned.

I hope that you have a great day!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Foster Dog and Such...

Hi everyone! I hope that your week has been going well. Mine has been very busy but productive.

I have managed to decorate everything for Christmas (except outside which I am doing this afternoon) and have caught up on laundry from our trip.

Yesterday my DH and I found a stray dog in our neighborhood. Since we already have three dogs, keeping him is out of the question for us. However, we couldn't convince ourselves to send him to a shelter that isn't "no-kill" since he isn't a puppy. So we are looking for a home for him and trying to find his owners. Until one of those things is accomplished, he is our foster dog. We have named him Jackson for the time being; but hopefully he will have a home of his very own soon. If you are wanting a dog and live anywhere in eastern Texas, you are more than welcome to have him, if you are interested email me.

You could say that my house is really going to the dogs being that my DH and I are outnumbered 2 to 1. Now I'm off to go vacuum.

Have a blessed day!

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Greetings...

December is here and with it the end of 2008. How can that be??? I am not sure but 2009 is very close at hand. So what all do you have going on this month?

I love Christmas time so very much. I have many fond memories of Christmas when I was young. One of my favorite is a birthday party for Jesus my mom did with my sister and I. It is so wonderful to celebrate the birth of my Savior this month. Without Him, I don't what my life would look like.

So what all is happening with me this month? Well, I'll tell you. Since I was gone from my house for more than two weeks, I have a great deal of cleaning and laundry to do. I managed to get my suitcase unpacked and get most of the other traveling stuff put away.

This week I hope to put away all of my fall decorations and decorate the house for Christmas. I am not doing a lot of decorating this year. Just the tree and the front porch.

My DH and I will be traveling to Florida for Christmas. It will be so fun to see our families again. I do believe that I will be spoiled after this.

I have a ton of stuff to do before we leave. I am making all of my DH's co-workers homemade bread for Christmas. I have counted 15 people so far, so I will be lost in my kitchen among rising loaves of bread at some point this month. I am sewing cloth bags to make them festive. I will have to share some pictures of the finished results.

I am also sewing a skirt for the little girl that I watch. I need to have it finished within the next week or so because I won't see them after that.

So that sums up my month pretty well. I tried to spare you the tedious details. I hope that you don't get too busy to enjoy the sights around you and some time of relaxation sitting next to the Christmas tree.

"For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord." ~Luke 2:11

November Reminiscence...

Hello everyone! I hope that all of you had a fabulous Thanksgiving.

November is gone and my how quickly it went.

The presidential election has been over with for about a month. So, I am just continuing to pray for Barack Obama and the country. I hope that you will join me in this effort.

My DH and I did get to take our day trip. We went to get our car serviced and got to eat at Cheesecake Factory. It was sooooo very yummy!

We had a great Thanksgiving in Florida. It was so wonderful to see everyone and get to share this time of year with them. I went to Florida about a week before we had originally planned and enjoyed the extra time I got to spend with my family. My DH drove to Florida the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We celebrated both my DH's and my Dad's birthday on Sunday and then my DH and I drove to his parents. My DH and I celebrated Thanksgiving twice (on Thursday with my in-laws and on Saturday with my family) and it was delightful. We drove back yesterday and traffic was AWFUL. But we arrive back at our humble abode safely so I will not complain anymore.

The verse that sums up November for me is Psalms 19:14. For the last few weeks I have felt a heaviness in my heart and I am just praying that God would use it to bring me closer to Him.

"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation
of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD,
my strength, and my Redeemer."

~Psalm 19:14