Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Eve!

A few photos below from "Christmas by Candlelight" service at our church this evening.

It sure was beautiful!
Before we entered the sanctuary
From the balcony, Luke conducts the Christmas carols 
Love this shot of my favorite sandal and my little man's shoe.
But this is my favorite shot of all.  My two sweethearts on Christmas Eve!

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  - Luke 2:10-11

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Korean Beef/Turkey

Since learning of this amazingly easy recipe a few weeks ago, my husband and I have indulged in this savory Korean meal at least once a week.


Because it's yummy.

Pretty healthy.


And takes less than 15 minutes to get on the table.

Although the title reads Korean Beef, I substitute with turkey instead.

Just my personal preference.

I'm sure beef is just as tasty.

Korean Beef/Turkey     *Printable Recipe*
(adapted from Lizzy Writes)
1 lb ground turkey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp crushed red peppers
1/4 cup cooked quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch green onions, diced

Heat large skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil and sesame oil.  Saute garlic.  Brown ground turkey and drain.  Add quinoa, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt, pepper, and red peppers.  Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.  Top with green onions.  Serve over white or brown rice.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crock Pot Red Beans & Rice

Yesterday I stumbled upon an easy crock pot red beans and rice recipe.

My husband loves red beans and rice.

And I love easy recipes.

This dish only took me five minutes to throw together in the crock pot.

Seven hours to cook.

And two minutes for my husband to scarf down this deeee.....licious bowl.


Crock Pot Red Beans & Rice        *Printable Recipe*
(adapted from Little Magnolia Kitchen)

1 lb red beans
7 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can chicken broth
1-1/2 lb turkey kielbasa sausage
1-1/2 Tbsp creole seasoning (Tony Chacheres)

Combine all ingredients into crock pot.  Cook on high for seven hours.  Serve with white or brown rice.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Easy Pasta

A few months ago, I mentioned that I have a picky eater at home.

He's three and very strong-willed.

I point out strong-willed because this kid would rather go on a hunger strike for days than eat most of the food I attempt to introduce.

However, there's one meal I discovered that's a sure thing in filling his little belly called Chicken Pasta in Tomato Cream Sauce.

He loves that dish!

Another dish that he loves and one that I can now add to his list of 'sure thing' meals is called Easy Pasta.

It's super duper easy to make.  

He even helps me throw everything together, which makes it fun.

And when it's all done, he dances around the kitchen waiting patiently for it to cool off.


 Easy Pasta
1 cup uncooked pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small slab of butter
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp cooked quinoa
1/2 cup firm tofu
1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Boil pasta in water with chicken boullion cube until cooked.  Drain and set aside.  Saute garlic in olive oil and butter.  Add mashed tofu (I squeeze the tofu in my hand to mash it up while adding to the pan).  Add cooked quinoa.  Saute for about 2 minutes.  Add cooked pasta and parmesan cheese.  Mix well.

Friday, November 30, 2012


A few of my favorites this holiday season.

Love this book!

It takes less than a couple hours to read.

The title is self explanatory.

The Christmas song below is from my favorite Oregon band, Kutless.

The lyrics are simply beautiful.

They sing about something that tugs at my heart every Christmas.

"Have we lost the reason why we celebrate each year?"

And finally, a classic.....  A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The part when Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas.

Straight from the bible.

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 
- Luke 2:8-14

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hope For The Home Front

I recently finished an amazing book that I stumbled upon at my post library titled Hope for the Home Front:  God's Timeless Encouragement for Today's Military Wife by Marshele Carter Waddell.

I cried through this book and even re-read several chapters.

Such a well written book that so eloquently weaves God's word into the struggles of military spouses.

I highly recommend this wonderfully comforting book to ALL of the wives serving in the military.

It helps put this crazy military life into perspective and truly provides encouragement to those who serve alongside their active duty spouse.

Apparently the book has a new cover.  While searching the internet for an image to post, I discovered this....

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  - Matthew 28:30

To share a sweet photo of my husband and our son...
During an evening walk on post, we stopped for the playing of To The Colors.
(I love this photo!)

To The Colors is played every evening, and every soldier salutes the flag
no matter where they are on post.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Potty Training

Other than sleepless nights during the first few months of parenthood, potty training has certainly been one of the most frustrating rights of passage thus far.

I gawk in amazement at parents walking around with potty trained kids.

The endurance.

The patience.

The stamina.

How in the world did they survive?

They're all champions in my eyes.

Potty training sucks.

It took us two grueling months, several breakdowns (by me), and two sticker boards until our son finally put on 'big boy' underwear.

Obviously the little man is a pirate fan
Praise Jesus!

Thank the Lord that I won't be sending him off to Kindergarden with a set of diapers in a couple years.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Moringa Tea

Today I spent the morning catching up on my bible study on the book of Luke.

It's such a wonderful book on discipleship, and I'm thankful that I have a great group of ladies to study with at my new church.

Here's a photo that I took of my little study session.

I wanted to share this photo because I want to talk about one of my recent finds - Moringa Tea.

Originally from India, Moringa is known as the "miracle tree" that offers a list of health benefits, such as... proper digestion, enhanced circulatory system, lower sugar levels, controlled blood pressure, reduced swelling, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I learned of this amazing tea while watching The View a few days ago.

Ordered it through Amazon and have been hooked since it arrived in the mail.

My husband & I love it and have been sleeping like babies since (one of the many benefits).

Here's a link with more info if you're interested in learning more:  click here

It sure was a great excuse to unpack my french press stored in the back of my cabinet.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day!

These signs made me smile.

It reminded me of a privilege that I'm entitled to as an American.

It tells me that the election ads will soon be over....yippeee!

And that I need to brush up on my Spanish now that I'm back in Texas.

Just some thoughts rolling around in my head on this important day ...

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Halloween at our house was super exciting this year.

There were a ton of families parading through our neighborhood.

The costumes were creative, and the yards were exceptionally spooky.

The weather was unbelievably perfect.

My son had a blast. husband was here to share it with us!

Our little spiderman out trick or treating

Spiderman and his Dad passing out candy

My attempt at decorating for the occasion

Our spider pumpkin

It's really cool in the dark

My sweet husband's attempt at capturing a picture of us.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sausage Balls

Several years ago, my husband and I attended a Halloween party thrown by our friends in Virginia.

Here's what we looked like back then.
He was "The Dude" and I was the "Special Lady Friend".
(from The Big Lebowski movie)
He won Best Costume at the Party!
At the party, the hostess served an amazing spread of appetizers.  Among them were Sausage Balls which was our favorite.

This appetizer had a neat story...

While her husband was deployed to Iraq, she would make these, vacuum seal them, and include them in his care packages.  He shared them with a couple guys in his unit.  By the end of their tour in the Middle East, his entire unit looked forward to her care packages.  She couldn't send them fast enough!

I found a recipe that is similar to hers, made a small change, and voila...

They're very-very-very easy to make and perfect to serve or bring to a large gathering.

You may need to double the recipe though, because you can't eat just one.

By the way, I had to rush through this photo shoot because my husband slowly started sneaking a few off the plate.


Sausage Balls    *Printable Recipe*
1 lb Jimmy Dean Hot sausage, uncooked
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups Bisquick
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400F.  Mix all ingredients until well combined (I use my hands).  Roll into 1-in balls.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until brown.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Mommy's Lesson

When I announced my first pregnancy back in 2008, I received tons of advice from people willing to share their wisdom on parenthood.

Solicited and unsolicited.

I discovered that there are a lot of women out there who are willing to share their best practices on raising children.

What I should do and what I shouldn't do.

Most of the advice has been good and I've even adhered to some of them.

But I've learned that every child is different, and every parent is different.

What works for one doesn't always work for another.

I admit that I'm not an expert in child-rearing and have had zero experience.

I mean....I didn't even have younger siblings to help raise.

My past experience was pretty much focused on myself and my career.

And my son certainly wasn't born with instructions.

I confess that I've made plenty of parenting mistakes these past three years, such as letting him play with water guns, resulting in getting reprimanded at his preschool and sunday school.

Also, letting him sleep with a pacifier leaving him with a slight open bite that apparently is troublesome for his pediatric dentist.

And allowing him to watch more than two hours of TV each day, causing his pediatrician to wrinkle her nose at me in judgement.

Mistakes, yeah sure.  I guess.

At least that's what I've been told by the "experts".

But my big question is, "who makes up all of these rules and why?"

Does allowing him to pretend to play cops and robbers breathe hate into his sweet little heart?

Is an open bite so terribly hideous that others would deny his friendship in the future?

Will TV cause him to have poor judgement as he grows older?

Does research after research tell us all of these things to be true in toddlers whose parents allow such things?

I can honestly say that there was a time when I cared about all of this.

What I'm suppose to do and what I'm not suppose to do as a parent.

In fact, even up until last night I cared.

Until it hit me when my husband walked down the stairs after putting our son to bed.

He described our son's evening prayer like this... (a song in the Frere Jacques melody).

"God our Father
God our Father
We thank You
We thank You
For our many blessings
For our many blessings

My revelation ...

None of these worldy things matter.

We are raising our son to have a good heart....... A heart for Jesus!

In fact, I already have an instruction manual on child-rearing.

It's the Holy Bible.

A scripture from the Bible that comes to mind is:  "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." - Proverbs 22:6

And another:  "For where your treasure is, your heart will be also."  - Luke 12:34

My job as his parent is to raise him to have a heart for Jesus.

To treasure Jesus and His sacrifice for the world.

To bear good fruit with his servant's heart.

And to shine his light into the darkness so others can see the glory of the risen King.

I know I'll continue to make mistakes by the world's standards, but I know that with God's help and constant direction I'm confident that we'll be on the right path.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."  
Romans 12:2

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup

During the past couple of weeks, my husband and I have been indulging at our local Panera Bread for coffees and lunch.

We enjoy that place.

The atmosphere is cozy.

The people are relaxed.

And the food is just terrific.

I also love to sit and watch all of the business meetings taking place during lunch time.

Their conversations are interesting.  

Oh yeah, I listen.

I know it's terrible and my husband is just appalled, but I find them entertaining.

The sales pitches.  The interviews.  The contractors.  The book clubs.

It's all very interesting to me.

I figure that if their conversations are private, they wouldn't have them in a public restaurant.


I love Panera's broccoli and cheddar soup.

I found a recipe that resembles the one that I've been noshing on these past couple of weeks.

Except, skip the bread bowl.  

Eat more soup!
Here's the link to the recipe:  click here.

*UPDATE*:  I don't puree my soups because I love to chew on all the veggies, but if you're a puree-er go for it.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cheesy Broccoli Rice

If you love cheese, you're going to absolutely LOVE this dish!

I found an amazing recipe on Pinterest.

Made a few changes to suit our taste.


Oooooey ..... gooooooey .... cheesy goodness!

Here's a closer look on my plate ...

Nom ..... Nom .... Nom .....!

My husband and I loved this so much, I made it again the following week.

Except this time, I threw in more broccoli, added several carrots, and some leftover chicken breast.

Comfort food at its finest, my friends.  Enjoy!

Cheesy Broccoli Rice           *Printable Recipe*

2 Tbsps butter
2 Tbsps olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
 1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 tsps dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cube chicken boullion cube (I use Knorr brand)
2-3 cups cooked brown rice
2 broccoli crowns, steamed

Grease a 9x13-in casserole pan.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat; add olive oil, garlic and saute until fragrant.  Whisk in flour and cook 3-4 minutes, whisking constantly.  Slowly whisk in milk, mustard, boullion cube, and season with salt & pepper.  Bring to a simmer 4 minutes, whisking occasionally.  Add cheeses; stir until mostly melted; remove from heat.  Stir in rice and steamed broccoli florets, pour into casserole pan.  Bake 30 minutes until bubbly and lightly golden on top.  Allow to set 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Helloooo......Gift Cards!

Recently, my husband and I sat down to establish a budget for ourselves.

I don't know why it took us so long.

We've been married five years now for goodness gracious.


We discussed some financial goals.

We talked about life after the military.

We fantasized about retirement.

And ... we met with our financial planner.

We're finally cleaning house and buckling down on the $$.

One joyful discovery in our financial planning was all of the wonderful rewards points that we've earned with a credit card that we've been using for gas.

Helloooo......rewards points!

We cashed some points in for a few gift cards.

Yipppity - Dippppity.....they arrived today.  We love gift cards!

Obviously, we love eating out too.  ;)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Little Czech Bakery

There's a tiny little bakery in a small town outside of Waco, Texas where most traveling on Hwy I-35 make it a point to stop.

I used to frequent this place during my college years many years ago.

Many ... many... years ago.  


It was an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny place back then.

But boy oh boy, it's a major operation now.


Because of these delightfully decadent little beauties.

This was my warm berry kolache all wrapped up and sitting on the dashboard.

Like an old friend who never ages, these haven't changed one bit!

Still a little piece of heaven baked to perfection.

And a sweet indulgence that makes traveling on I-35 bearable.

In addition to these scrumptious kolaches, the bakery offers some unbelievable rolls filled with various sausages, cheeses, and all sorts of yummy stuff.  

If you're ever on I-35 driving by Waco, TX, look out for the Little Czech Bakery on the side of the highway, but be careful in the parking lot.  It's super busy now-a-days.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Steak & Whiskey

The day after my husband arrived, we were blessed with a date night opportunity.  Parents Night Out at our church.


Finally, just the two of us.

Finishing our sentences without toddler interruptions.

Enjoying our meal, taking our time, and tasting our food.

We took these "date nights" for granted before having our little one.

Lemme tell ya, we certainly cherish them now.

The restaurant we visited was a little teeny-tiny place in downtown San Antonio named Josephine St.  They have these big neon signs on their windows that read "Steak & Whiskey".

Two of my husband's favorite things.

Here's a photo of my husband enjoying a glass of whiskey right before his yummy steak arrived.

Here's a photo of me with a glass of their homemade sangria.  It was quite tasty :)

Friday, October 5, 2012


Praise God my husband is back home!

It's been seven weeks since he left for South Carolina.

A lot has happened in those seven weeks and we sure missed him.

Here are a few photos I snapped at the airport last night.
me and the boy waiting at baggage claim
big big big HUGS
helping dad with luggage
ready to go home!
with my loves

Sunday, September 23, 2012


It's Fall in Texas Ya'll!

I decided to do something fun and take my little man to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens to see the Dinosaur exhibit.

Here are a few snapshots of the day.
The little guy was so excited about seeing dinosaurs around the gardens.  He had his map and was on a mission to find them all.

Brides everywhere!  There were brides all over the gardens.  When we'd run into one, the toddler would scream......"Look Mom, it's a bootiful princess!".

Also, there were photographers everywhere.  They were shooting landscapes, flowers, and families.

After we found all the dinosaurs there were to find, the little guy enjoyed playing in the gardens.

He had a great time!

We ended our visit with lunch at the Garden's Bistro.

My plate was incredible.

It was a delicious crepe filled with grilled chicken, brie, and spinach.  Nom - Nom - Nom!
It was a great morning with my little man celebrating the start of my most favorite time of year in Texas........ Autumn.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Heaven is For Real

Last Sunday at bible study, my new friend, Jaime, recommended that I read a book called Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo.

She wanted to minister to me and help me with some issues that I have with our recent loss.

Although I've been feeling great lately, there are days when I don't ... and Sunday was one of those days.

I picked up the book at our military library yesterday morning and finished it within four hours.

It was absolutely fantastic!

I loved every page in the book.

It arrested my attention and I devoured every - single - word.

My spirit needed that book.

My heart needed that book.

It felt like ONE BIG HUG from my Heavenly Father for four hours.

You know the kind of hug you get where you're completely vulnerable and your guard is down?  Gasping for air because it's hard to breathe through all the tears.  Comforted by the peace of the embrace that you don't ever want to let go?

I'm reminded that God loves me.  He understands my pain.  Not because he loves me as my Almighty Father, but because he too lost His son......for me.

It's such a wonderful book that speaks to me.

It's my world and my eternity as I believe it to be as a Christian.

I recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is in need of comfort.

I can't wait to see my friend, Jaime, on Sunday and give her the biggest hug that I can give.

I'm so thankful!

"And he said:  "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 18:3

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chicken Pasta in Tomato Cream Sauce

I have a picky little eater in our house.

Here he is...

My little pirate.

Unlike most pirates, this one is super selective.  (I'm guessing that pirates eat least that's what I tell this one)

My husband and I both love food.


So we don't understand picky.  How did this happen?

It's so tough cooking for a toddler who only wants to eat grapes.

But, thankfully I found the secret recipe ...

Chicken Pasta in Tomato Cream Sauce.

Praise God for this dish!  He eats it every time and doesn't complain one bit.  

The sauce is unbelievably delish, by the way.

In fact, I make the sauce separately sometimes.  I keep a batch in the fridge and mix it with pasta in a pinch.  It's a lifesaver when the little man is screaming and crying and pulling on my leg in the kitchen while I'm trying to get his lunch or dinner plate together.

He's 3.

I'm praying this phase will be over soon.

Anyway, did I tell you this dish was super yummy?

I stole this recipe from my sister, who stole it from her neighbor.

It's definitely a keeper.

And.... I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't finish their plate.

So here it is.  Enjoy!

Chicken Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce   *Printable Recipe*
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Montreal Steak seasoning
1/2 lb penne pasta
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
1/2 cube chicken boullion cube (knorr brand)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup fat-free cream
salt & pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh basil, chiffonaded

Rinse chicken breasts in cold water.  Layer between sheets of wax paper and pound to even thickness.  Season both sides with Montreal Steak seasoning.  In large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Add chicken breasts and cook 5 mins each side.  Set chicken aside to cool. 

In large pot, boil water with 1 Tbsp salt.  Add pasta and boil according to package directions.  

Heat 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender, but do not let the garlic turn brown (about 3-5 mins).  Add water and 1/2 chicken boullion cube to the pan and allow to reduce by half.  Once the water has reduced, stir in tomato sauce.  Add the heavy cream and stir well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Turn heat to low.  Add parsley and basil to sauce and mix well.

Slice chicken.  Mix cooked pasta, chicken, and sauce. 
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