Monday, November 24, 2014

our lives lately!

Is anyone else as excited for the 3 day work week as I am?  c-a-n-n-o-t w-a-i-t.
I thought I would share what we’ve been up to recently since it has been awhile!

John and I took a mini road trip to Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon to get pictures taken for our Christmas card… The pictures involved a little off roading which John really enjoyed (gotta make it fun for the guys too!).  Here's a sneak peek!

A couple from our First5 Sunday school class invited us to the Phoenix Symphony.  It was fun getting dressed up and going out for the night… they are such a sweet couple, and it was great to spend some time with them!

Scout and John have been busy hunting.  They have been wild quail hunting and going to a hunt club for pheasant and chukar… they are having a blast together, and it is such fun to see Scout do what she was bred to do (not to mention she sleeps for a good two days after she hunts, which I really appreciate!).

The best part of the weekend was our mini Thanksgiving dinner! And the second best part? The leftovers!  Instead of turkey, we ate pheasant (killed the same day by John and Scout... talk about fresh...)!

And I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been having my fair share of holiday Starbucks drinks! The peppermint mocha will forever have my heart!

So in true red cup spirit, I'm teaming up with Heather to give away a $20 Starbucks gift card... who doesn't want some holiday drinks in their life?! Ends Wednesday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Glitter Dipped Candles

I am slowly but surely starting to break out my Christmas d├ęcor, and slowly but surely putting away fall and Thanksgiving items.  Normally, I have a very strict routine of not getting any Christmas items out before Thanksgiving.  In fact, the only Christmas item I will have out beforehand is our tree (which we will cut down and light – but not decorate – the weekend before Thanksgiving). After Thanksgiving dinner is when I get out all of my Christmas decorations for the tree and home… it makes for a fun holiday activity on Thanksgiving when all the guys are watching football! 

Since John and I will be out of town in Seattle this Thanksgiving, I don’t feel as much of a need to honor this tradition – I want everything ready for Christmas by the time we get home (and not to mention, Thanksgiving is so late this year that we will hardly have a month to enjoy everything if I don’t get it out beforehand!).  Along with festive decorations comes baked goodies and DIYs… I love it all!

This past weekend I did my first Christmas DIY for the season. It was easy, inexpensive, and included glitter and festive-scented candles... an all-around DIY win, if you ask me!

What you need:
-Pillar candles
(I bought scented pillar candles at Walmart... the tall were $2.97 and the short were $1.97)
-Painter's tape
-Paint brush
-Mod Podge

How to:
It is quite simple… start by using the painter’s tape and tape your pillar candles where you want the glitter line to be.  I varied the heights of glitter so that they wouldn’t all be uniform (the variations makes them more visually interesting!).  Use a paint brush and cover the lower half of the candle with Mod Podge and sprinkle with glitter.  Allow the glitter to dry (I waited over night to be sure).  Once the candles are dry, give them a good tap or two to remove the extra glitter and then slowly peel off the tape.

Use the tape to clean up any extra glitter, and ta-da! You now have yourself some dressed up holiday candles.  Use as a centerpiece or arrange on a mantle or side table.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pumpkin Pull-apart Bread

Growing up, Thanksgiving dinner has always been served around 2PM-ish… I am not sure why, but this is just the way it’s always been, and John and I have been doing something similar ourselves.  It is kind of an awkward time when you are super hungry, but don’t want to eat too much since you’re about to chow down on some stuffing (anyone with me on this? The best part of Thanksgiving is always the stuffing!). 

Since Thanksgiving is basically a late lunch in our home, breakfast gets a bit neglected because everyone is focused on preparing the main course.  Well, I have solved the problem to all of your Thanksgiving day breakfast dilemmas… Pumpkin Pull-apart Bread!  This festive breakfast looks difficult, but it’s beyond easy, and will fit in perfectly with the festive meal later in the day.

What you need:
- 1 16oz can of biscuits
- 1 tbs of pumpkin pie spice
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 stick of butter

How to:
1.  Break each biscuit into fourths.
2.  In a gallon plastic bag combine 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1 tbs of pumpkin pie spice; put all of the biscuit pieces in the bag and shake until fully covered.
3.  Melt the 1/2 stick of butter and stir in the remaining brown sugar.
4.  Place half of the biscuits in your bread pan and pour half of the butter mixture over them.  Top with the remaining biscuits and then the rest of the butter mixture.
5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until all of the inner biscuits are cooked through.
6.  Once the bread is done baking, pop it out of the pan and top with the pumpkin glaze.

Pumpkin glaze
What you need:
- 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
-  2 tsp of milk
- 1/4 tsp of vanilla
- 2 tbs of pumpkin
- 1 tbs of melted butter
- pinch of cinnamon 

How to:
Simply mix together all of the ingredients and pour over the hot bread!
Save a little bit for extra dipping... you will be happy you did!

And let’s not forget to mention how great these re-heat in the microwave for an early Black Friday breakfast.  I made my recipe in a bread pan, but if you’re making breakfast for a larger crowd, it’s just as easy to double the recipe and use a bundt pan.

Our pumpkin flavored everything season is coming to an end... so get it while you can!

Looking for ideas to dress up your Thanksgiving table? Check out these six easy tips!

Now it’s your turn! Link up your Thanksgiving-related post… and don’t forget to see what everyone else is sharing too!

Holiday Linkup
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Holiday Linkup"><img src="" width="250" height="250" alt="Holiday Linkup" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One-pot Chicken Tortellini

This is one of those “it ain’t pretty, but it tastes great” meals.  
Since it is oh so yummy and it can be made in a crock pot (aka, it is super-duper easy), it’s easy to look past the aesthetic.

This is a perfect fall weather supper!

 **Ignore my reflection in the spoon... I try my best, haha

What you need:
- 1 (19oz) bag of tortellini
- 1 lb of cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie)
- 1 bag of fresh spinach
- 1 block of cream cheese
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 1 can of diced tomatoes, drained

How to:
Combine all of your ingredients in a crock pot (or on the stove top) and heat until everything is combined.  Top with chives and serve immediately.  We like adding Triscuits for a bit of a crunch.

If you leave the tortellini in the crock pot while you're at work, it will absorb all the chicken stock; so if you like your tortellini firmer, add them to the pot 30-60 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Quick Weekend Recap in Pictures

Happy Monday! Here's a quick recap of our weekend in pictures.

Saturday morning John and Scout went quail hunting and got their first wild Gambel's quail! 
Whoop, whoop! Go team, go!

They then came home and cleaned the bird together in our kitchen sink... yes, I know - not ideal.  John cooked the quail for lunch, and it actually tasted okay (however, John would tell you that it tasted amazing).  Scout is trying to get in on all the action!

After our "first" lunch (a few bites of quail), we headed to a Mexican restaurant called The Mission.  The guac... to die for! I swear, I would order that for my meal and be totally satisfied.

John's dad and step-mom are coming to visit us in less than a month, and John has made it his mission to try as many Mexican restaurants as possible in preparation for their arrival to show them the best place in town (and as you can imagine, there are quite a few good ones in Arizona).

After lunch I got my hair cut and colored! And I feel alivveeee again! (Picture above is pre-cut and color.)  I know I keep talking about the "lob" (long bob), but I'm just not quite ready to go there yet.  I'm thinking that it might be a really great new hairstyle for 2015.  We will see...

We closed the weekend with a beautiful sunset walk in the McDowell mountains.  The Arizona landscape is something else, and sure is beautiful!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Five on Friday

Happy Friday! 
Does anyone else have a hard time believing it is less than three weeks until Thanksgiving... what in the world?! Where has the year gone?  
As usual, I'm linking up with Christina, Darci, Natasha, and April for Five on Friday!

I'm a little bit obsessed over my new return address stamp purchased on Etsy from Angeliqueink.  

If you missed Wednesday's post, you can check out this stamp and other ideas on how to dress up your Christmas cards this year.

My Bible study just finished the new Beth Moore Children of the Day study, and it was absolutely fabulous.  Highly recommend!

If you love Beth Moore, then you are sure to love this study – normally I finish about 70% of each week’s homework, but this study was so great that I finished everything (this may not seem like a big deal, but it just speaks to how great it was).

Okay, I did it.  I deactivated my Facebook.  Does anyone else hate Facebook like I do?! I'm not sure how long I will last, but so far it feels great!  

Instagram is my jam, and so for now, I'm good only using that.  You can follow me on Instagram here.

One of my coworkers invited me to run with her at lunch.  The weather has been pretty nice here (in the low 80s) so we've been going to a community college track nearby and running bleachers.

I wouldn't call it fun, but it's nice to get out of work in the middle of the day, get some fresh air and move around a bit.  I feel better coming home from work and vegging when I know that I already exercised for the day.


 Whoop, whoop! As I'm sure you all know, the Starbucks holiday drinks are back.  But maybe you haven't heard that next week (November 12-16) is buy one, get one!
And if you don't have a pal to share with, buy a tall, and get a tall free! Both for you! :) :) 


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Adventuring and Flat Tires

In yesterday’s weekend recap I briefly mentioned that during our drive to the Grand Canyon, Hannah and I were the unfortunate recipients of a flat tire.  For some reason, Hannah and I can’t seem to be together without some sort of unnecessary car issue happening (last year we hit two coyotes while driving to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico).  It was quite funny and terribly expensive all at the same time.

Anyway, we had just begun driving up the switchbacks which start in Oak Creek Canyon and lead into Flagstaff, and I accidentally went off the curb a bit, and when I drove back onto the road the wheel frame was bent on the curb and caused a flat tire.  It started humming pretty loudly, so we knew something was wrong and we pulled over to check it out.

Not surprisingly, it was flat, and after further inspection we determined that we probably wouldn’t be able to change it ourselves.  I called John right away and he started making calls to AAA and tire shops in the area to come help us out, but we were hoping we could get back on the road without too much of a delay... Ideally, someone would pull over to help us, but no one was stopping.  We figured we needed to look more distressed to get people to stop, so we got out of the car, pulled out the spare tire, and pretended like we were reading the owner’s manual.

Very shortly after that, a couple on their way to the airport stopped and changed the tire for us (they said we looked like their daughters… whatever works, I guess!).  It was all going well, until we discovered that the spare tire didn’t have enough air in it.  They put the tire on anyway and went on their way.

Not long after, another couple stopped to assist.  They had a small air pump that they used to try and blow up the tire.  It took a while to work, and while we were waiting another guy drove up and basically just stood around and supervised the situation… he hugged the tire, told us about his kids (who apparently we also look like…), and really just seemed like he wanted to hang out.

And people kept coming… I swear, once one stops, six or seven stop!  Another man rolled down his window, and we just waved him on – it was getting overwhelming!

Finally, the little pump started smoking and basically died, but I got a call from John saying that someone from a tire shop was on their way to help us.  While we were waiting for them to get there, another person drove by and said that he worked at a tire store and would fix the tire for us (unfortunately, my rim was bent so I couldn’t take him up on it), so instead he used this large compressor that he had hanging around in his car (what?) to blow up the tire.

After he left, we decided we should probably wait for the real tire people to get there before we went on our way just to make sure everything was okay… Finally he arrived and gave us the a-okay, and we were off and running!  Thankfully, the spare tire was full size and looked identical to the other tires, so we didn’t look like freaks driving into the Grand Canyon with a terrible donut on the car.  Apparently it really does takes a village.

Anyway, I say all of this because as great as your destination may be, the real adventure is in getting there.  This reminded me of a Lord of the Rings quote that was in my most recent Beth Moore study (Children of the Day).

Gandalf the wizard says to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins: "I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone."

Bilbo Baggins replies: "I should think so - in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!"

In the movie The Hobbit, a disgruntled Gandalf speaks: "You've been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me; when did doilies and your mother's dishes become so important to you? I remember a young hobbit who always was running off in search of elves and woods, who would stay out late, and come home after dark, trailing mud and twigs and fireflies. A young hobbit who would have liked nothing better than to find out what was beyond the borders of the Shire. The world is not in your books and maps; it's out there"

Yes, yes, yes! 

And while I may not be all adventure (because, after all, I love me some dishes and doilies too), I certainly appreciate (or at least have come to appreciae) running off in search of elves (none to be found ...yet) and woods, staying out late, and coming home after dark, trailing mud and twigs and fireflies.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The weekend I wish didn't have to end!

 My heart is so full after this weekend!  Hannah flew in from Michigan on Thursday, and left to head back home early this morning - I am so sad to see her leave! I am already planning our next trip... she will be leaving for the World Race in July, so time is limited, and I am insistent on seeing her one last time before she is out of the country for 11 months!

Here are some photos from our weekend together exploring Scottsdale, Sedona, and the Grand Canyon... And other than a flat tire (more on this story tomorrow...), I couldn't have asked for a better weekend!

Dinner (and Halloween people watching) at Citizen Public House

Enjoying opening day of the Starbucks holiday drinks... Getting our peppermint mocha on!

The beautiful red rocks of Sedona

Apple cider in Oak Creek Canyon

Enjoying the Grand Canyon - I don't think I could ever get sick of these views

Mather Point - just in time for the sun to start setting

Lunch at the Original Chop Shop after some shopping

Blow outs at Drybar

Dinner with John at Olive and Ivy

And while we were off adventuring, John was busy fly fishing the Colorado River at Lees Ferry
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