Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Recap, Part One

I hope that everyone had a fabulous Christmas. Mr. P and I certainly did! We had 3 days of travel, family, food, and fun, and a good time was had by all. I won't post many pictures in this post, but I promise to post pictures in part two.

Christmas Eve morning, we drove down to my parents' house. The weather was horrible-pouring rain with high winds the entire trip, making I-65 a nightmare. I was so glad when we finally made it, and my mother (who kept calling to check on us-good thing I wasn't the one driving!) was even more relieved. We made one stop at Opry Mills Mall, just to wander around for a little while. We were finished with our shopping, but we love to shop for a little while on Christmas Eve. We walked around, ate sugared pecans, and enjoyed the festive atmosphere.

We arrived at my parents' house around noon, and I helped Mom finish the preparations for the Christmas Eve dinner. The menu included many of my favorites including prime rib, green beans, and hash brown casserole. And of course, Mom's best desserts-Toll House pie, Hershey's Chocolate Cake, coconut cake, and an assortment of fudge and cookies. We had a pretty big crowd for dinner that included Mom, Dad, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, aunt and uncle, along with Mr. P and me. My brother is a policeman, and he was on duty Christmas Eve night, but he was able to stop by the house for dinner, and some of his fellow officers also stopped by throughout the night when they were on their dinner break. Mom and Dad have extended this invitation to all of my brother's fellow officers every year since he has been on the force, and it is great to see some of the same guys year after year. Luckily, the citizens were well-behaved and all of the officers were able to finish their meals before getting a call.

Mr. P and I attended the most beautiful church service on Christmas Eve night at a church near my parents' house. This has been a year of change for us with regards to religion, and I have had my moments of doubt about some decisions we have made. Long story short, I was raised Catholic, and had never really fallen away from attending Mass, except for when I was in college. Mr. P was raised Methodist, but began attending Mass with me after we had been married a couple of years, and became a Catholic about 6 years ago. We dutifully attended Mass every Sunday, but in the past couple of years have really struggled with our church and the way things are done, particularly the way people who were not born and raised in that church are treated. Around Easter of this year, we decided to try going to the Methodist church that Mr. P grew up in, and which many of our friends attend. It is such a welcoming church, and we have been very happy there. I feel that Mr. P and I have grown closer to each other spiritually, and I feel that I have grown closer in my relationship to God. Not to mention the tremendous amount of support that we received when Mr. P's dad was sick-so many prayers, visits, phone calls, and food. We were truly touched by everything that people did for us, and although I have tried not to be judgemental or critical of our former church, I know we would not have received the same support. Despite all that, I have struggled to be at peace with my decision to not attend a Catholic church right now-it's just hard to make such a big change after 38 years. Mr. P and I have talked about it, and he has been wonderful in helping me work through this. You're probably sitting there wondering how I went from Christmas festivities to a heavy religion post, but it comes back to the Christmas Eve service we attended. It was an absolutely beautiful candlelight service that truly touched my heart, giving me that much-needed sense of peace that I was doing the right thing.

Sorry this post took a serious turn-it was a little unexpected for me too! Okay, back to the Christmas festivities...

We spent Christmas Eve night at my parents' house, and exchanged Christmas presents on Christmas morning with my family. It was great to just kick back and enjoy each other and have fun opening our gifts. We followed that up with our annual Christmas breakfast, with more of our favorite dishes from Mom-egg casserole, cheese grits, sausage balls, and more.

After breakfast, Mr. P and I drove back home, where we took a few minutes to exchange our gifts to each other. We kept our gifts to each other fairly simple this year, but we had fun exchanging them. We've had years where both of us went overboard on gifts for each other, but I think I enjoyed this year more. Mr. P got me some really thoughtful gifts, but I'll post pics and details in another post.

Christmas with Mr. P's family was also a lot of fun. His sister has four kids, ages 10, 8, 5, and 3, so it was considerably louder than my family's celebration, but it was a lot of fun. Here is a picture of Mr. P and the kids playing Santa:

One of the gifts his sister gave me was the Trivial Pursuit 80's Edition, and one of our nephews got Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, so we played board games on Christmas night and had a blast. We didn't get home until after 11 o'clock, so we were exhausted, and still had one more family gathering the next day.

On Friday, Mr. P and I, along with his parents and his sister's family headed to out of town for the day to celebrate with his uncle's family. More food, more presents, more fun....

Sorry I don't have very many pictures from the family gatherings. I have a bad habit of getting so into the festivities that I forget to take pictures...more pictures in the next recap, I promise!

So Mr. P and I have spent today recovering from all of our travels and festivities. We slept in, enjoyed a late breakfast, and other than straightening up the house, we relaxed most of the day. It has been unusually warm today, in the 70's, but very windy. We have a band of thunderstorms due to come through tonight. I'm keeping an eye on the radar right now, because thunderstorms make me nervous!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

In the chaos of my final Christmas preparations, I have neglected my wonderful blog friends! Mr. P and I hosted a family Christmas celebration at our house on Sunday, which kept us super busy all weekend. I had to work on Monday, and yesterday was spent doing last minute Christmas tasks. Mr. P's sister and her family have been in town since Sunday, so we've been spending time with them at my in-law's house. I do apologize and I promise to be more diligent once Christmas is over. I'm hoping to have lots of blogging/reading time next week.

Mr. P and I are heading south to my parents' house in a little while to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my family. We will have a Christmas Eve dinner at my parents' house tonight with my brothers' family and some of my mother's family. Tomorrow morning, we will exchange gifts with my parents and my brother's family and have a Christmas breakfast, which includes my mom's cheese grits-yum!

Mr. P and I will head back north after breakfast, and after a quick stop at home, we will spend the rest of the day with Mr. P's parents and his sister's family. On Friday, we will head out of town again (but just for the day) with Mr. P's parents and his sister's family to have one more Christmas celebration with more of Mr. P's family.

Christmas always seems like such a whirlwind time for us, and sometimes it seems like we don't have time to even catch our breath between family gatherings! That said, I would rather have too many things to juggle than to have nothing to go to. Mr. P and I are both blessed with great families, and we are truly thankful to have such wonderful parents, siblings, and family members in our lives.

I wanted to take a minute to tell my blog friends how thankful I am that I discovered this little blog world this year. I count all of you as my friends (although it's hard to explain to a non-blog person!) and as I'm reflecting on my blessings in the past year, you all are definitely on the list.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Santa Claus came early to the Putter household and gave me a much-needed snow day! I didn't sleep late, but I did laze around in bed and catch up on some shows I had taped on the DVR. Sitting in bed with a cup of coffee, admiring the snow outside, and watching a favorite show is a fantastic way to start the day.

When I finally emerged from the bedroom, I did a few (very few!) household chores, then sat down with more coffee to catch up on my blogs. I've missed my nightly reading so much! Don't worry, I haven't been a total sloth this morning; Miss Sunny has kept me busy. She likes the snow, but then she gets cold and wants to come back inside. So I've been up and down the stairs letting her in and out all morning. She's outside barking at this very moment, even though I just let her out about 5 minutes ago. She's such a drama queen-if I don't let her in soon, she'll resort to high-pitched barks and howling

My mother in law called a few minutes ago about hosting a Christmas gathering for some of Mr. P's family. When Mr. P's dad became ill during Thanksgiving, we offered to host instead of Mr. P's parents and the last date I heard was the Saturday after Christmas. MIL called last night and asked if we would be able to host it this Sunday. I would rather do it this Sunday so that we can have a more relaxing weekend after Christmas, so I don't mind changing the date, but wow, it doesn't give me much time to plan, especially since I don't get out of school until Friday. At least I'll have today to think of options for the menu. A Belle and Her Beau posted a couple of recipes on her blog the other day that I want to try, so that's two options right there. Isn't the blog world grand?? My once-a-month house cleaners are scheduled to come tomorrow, so that's better timing for the party too. I guess all signs point that this weekend would be best!

Speaking of recipes, I found this great recipe blog this morning, appropriately called Blogger's Recipes. You might want to check it out.

Other tasks for the day:

-Finish Christmas cards for the staff. We mailed our Christmas cards out this weekend, but the school staff always exchanges cards on the last day. We have almost 100 staff members, so this is quite a big chore.
-Wrap presents
-School paperwork (oh so fun)
-Straighten up my office (it's truly embarrassing at this point)

Well, Sunny's barks and whines are reaching unbelievably pitiful proportions, so I'd better go let her in. Have a great day!

Edited to add: Mr. P arrived home at 12:00, bringing groceries and this:

So we've enjoyed a cozy afternoon in front of the fire after all!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Decorations

So I finally had time to finish up my Christmas decorations and take some pictures of them. Every year, I think about doing a theme tree, but I love all of our ornaments so much. Some of them are from my parents' tree, others have been gifts from friends and students, while others are what Mr. P and I have collected through the years.

I found this stocking hanger last year in an after-Christmas sale. I love the polka-dots, and you can open up the top of the gift and put a small gift inside. I've made sure that Mr. P knows about that little feature : )

This little chubby Santa stands at the front door to greet visitors.

And here are a few of my favorite ornaments.

I took dance for many years, and I taught dance in high school and college. This ornament was given to me by one of my students several years ago.

Of course, I have to have an orange and white ornament on the tree. Mr. P (the big Kentucky fan) has to make a comment each year as I'm putting it on the tree.

And I love my little plaid teacher ornament.

More pictures of decorations to come later this week!
On Saturday, we drove to Lexington to see our niece, Cassie, dance in The Nutcracker. She is in kindergarten, so she was one of the youngest ones. She's such a cutie and she did a great job! I had such a great time watching the performance. It brought back memories of my dancing days!

It has been sleeting for a couple of hours now, and they have already cancelled school for tomorrow. Yippee! I love a snow day!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

School Funny

Note from a student yesterday-

"Dear Ms. Pink, you are the best vice priceable [sic] ."

That's why I love my job : )

I'm putting the final touches on my Christmas decorations and then I'll post some pics of my favorite things.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Happy Weekend, Y'all!

Hello lovely bloggers! Can you tell that I'm enjoying the weekend?

I had a great day yesterday. I had a morning meeting yesterday in my home county, so I arranged to take a 1/2 personal day to do some Christmas shopping after the meeting. That way, I didn't have to make an hour drive back to school, only to get back for just a few hours, plus it saved me an hour's drive back home. I went to lunch with my former boss, and we spent some time catching up on things. She is such a great lady. We ate at Rafferty's which is one of my favorite restaurants.

After lunch, I did a little bit of shopping. I had hoped to get more accomplished but I just enjoyed wandering around in the stores. I went to Michael's, Kirklands, TJ Maxx, and Barnes and Noble. I topped the afternoon off with a trip to Starbucks for an eggnog latte and a shortbread cookie. I picked up a few stocking stuffers, and I found these cute placemats at TJ Maxx. I've been looking for some new Christmas placemats and these are perfect.

Last night, we went over to our friends D and R's house for a little get-together. We all brought snacks/appetizers and played cards. I tried a new recipe out for a chicken cheeseball and it was delicious. Here is the recipe, but I forgot to take a pic of it.

Chicken Cheeseball

2 packages cream cheese, softened

1 5-ounce can chicken breast

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix

Chopped pecans

Mix cream cheese, chicken, and ranch dressing mix together. Form into a ball and roll in chopped pecans. I think it might taste better if you use a fresh or frozen chicken breast that has been cooked and chopped, but I was in a hurry and didn't have time for that. I'll probably try it the next time that I make this.

Mr. P and I are spending the day inside, decorating the house and getting the Christmas tree put up. The fireplace is on, there's Christmas movies and Harry Potter on TV, and there's even a few snowflakes floating down outside. So cozy!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Meme

I've seen this meme on several blogs, so I thought I'd post it too.

  1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, with big, pretty ribbons and bows.
  2. Tree--Real or Artificial? Artificial, so that we can put it up after Thanksgiving
  3. When do you put Christmas tree up? Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, but with FIL in the hospital this year, we will put it up this weekend.
  4. When do you take the tree down? January 2
  5. Like eggnog? Love it. I love to pour some in one of my special Christmas glasses or mugs and then curl up on the couch, sip eggnog, and admire the Christmas tree.
  6. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes... several.
  7. Favorite gift received as a child? My dollhouse when I was seven years old. Three stories, designed and built by my dad and uncle. My mom and my aunt used carpet and wallpaper remnants to decorate it for me. I still have the dollhouse, and hopefully I'll have a little girl to play with it one day.
  8. Hardest person to buy for? My brother.
  9. Easiest person to buy for? My niece Katie
  10. Worst Christmas gift? I really can't think of one right now. I had a Secret Santa one year who was terrible, so I guess that would be it.
  11. Mail or email a Christmas card? Mail, of course.
  12. Favorite Christmas movie? Oh, I love Christmas movies! My favorite Christmas classic would have to be White Christmas, but I also like Santa Clause 2 and A Christmas Story.
  13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Not nearly as soon as I wish I would!
  14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Once, but I was desperate for a gift and didn't have time to go get one. And it was still a really good gift!
  15. Favorite food to eat on Christmas? Mom's Cheese Grits on Christmas morning, along with her breakfast casserole and sausage balls.
  16. Lights on tree? White lights and lots of them!
  17. Favorite Christmas Song? O Holy Night and Tennessee Christmas
  18. Travel during Christmas or Stay home? We go to my parents' house in Tennesse on Christmas Eve for dinner and church, spend the night, have presents and Christmas breakfast, then travel back home and spend the rest of the day with Mr. P's family.
  19. Can you name Santa's reindeer's? Why, of course! Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph.
  20. Angel or Star on Tree top? Angel
  21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning
  22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? When people forget what Christmas is really all about.
  23. Favorite ornament? The one that Mr. P and I bought together for our first Christmas. (I'm planning on posting a pic when I get my tree decorated.)
  24. What do you want for Christmas this year? Honestly, there is nothing that I really want. I just want to spend time with Mr. P and my family.

I've really enjoyed reading these on other people's blogs, so I tag anyone who hasn't done this yet!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tiring Tuesday with a Recipe

It was one of those days today. Nothing terrible really happened, just lots of little irritating things. But I ended the day on a good note-Mr. P and I rode home together, stopped and picked up take-out pasta on the way home, and there is enough left over for tomorrow night too. 2 nights without having to worry about cooking is enough to put me back in a good mood!

I really do like to cook when I have time, especially around the holidays. I thought I would post a quick and easy recipe that you can take to a holiday party. I also like to make things that are a little more time-consuming, but this is a great recipe for a last minute get-together because it only has 2 ingredients,and I usually have both of them on hand. Plus, it looks festive, tastes great, and is super-easy to make...who could ask for anything more? Here is the recipe, complete with pictures.
Funny thing about these pictures...I was making this at my brother and sister-in-law's house a few weeks ago, and I knew that I wanted to post this recipe sometime. So I was trying to take pictures of the process without telling them why because no one in my family knows about my blog. I think that they think I'm a little crazy now!

Italian Cream Cheese Bars

1 6-ounce package cream cheese
1 envelope Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix

The ingredients:

Cut the block of cream cheese in half lengthwise (it will look like two sticks of butter)

Sprinkle the dry dressing mix out on a paper plate, and spread it out.

Roll the two sticks of cream cheese in the dry mixture, making sure that all sides are covered.

Place the sticks on a platter and surround with your favorite crackers.

(I had doubled the recipe for this party, so that is why there are 4 sticks instead of two.)

I have had so many people ask for the recipe and they are always shocked at how easy it is. Give it a try!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Recap

Well, it's nice to finally be back in the blogging world-I have missed it! I hope that everyone had a good Thanksgiving. It's been a crazy week for us, but things seem like they are finally settling down, of course Christmas is just around the corner, so I'm sure it won't be quiet around here for long. Let me give you a recap of everything.

Father-in-law-My father-in-law is doing much better, in fact, he was able to come home today. Thankfully, it was his gallbladder, along with some kidney stones that had given him an infection. He had his gallbladder taken out yesterday, and his infection is getting better. We were so worried that it was going to be something more serious, so we are quite relieved.

Thanksgiving-Our usual plans for Thanksgiving are to go to Tennessee on Thursday, have dinner with my family, spend the night, and come back on Friday afternoon to have dinner at my in-laws house with Mr. P's parents, his sister, and her family. Of course, the whole dinner with the in-laws was out, but Mr. P and I did go down to Tennessee and eat with my family, but we drove back Thursday night instead of staying overnight. I enjoyed seeing my family, and Mom's cooking was wonderful, as always. In addition to turkey and dressing, we had green beans, corn, dumplings, mashed potatoes (can you say carb-fest??), cranberry salad w/poppyseed dressing, broccoli casserole, rolls, and ginger tea. Not to mention all of the desserts! Mom packed up a lot of leftovers and sent them back with us, so we have eaten well all weekend. I wish we could have spent more time with my family, but both of us wanted to get back to check on Mr. P's dad.

Christmas-Can you believe the Christmas season is finally here?? Even though I haven't had time to finish my decorating, I'm already getting in the spirit. Last night, I was in the community parade for the school. It's a night parade, with lights on the floats. It was cold, but that kind of made it fun. There were lots of kids from the school along the parade route, so it was fun to wave and throw candy at them.

Back to school tomorrow...I could really use another day off, but since I've had 5 straight days, I really don't need to complain do I? I'll get back to my regular posting this week...I have some recipes and some purchases that I need to post pictures of, so I have lots of topics to cover.

The weather forecast is calling for light snow/sleet overnight and through tomorrow. Is it too much to hope for a snow day? Oh, the things I could do if I had a snow day! Mr. P says the roads are too warm...he can be such a party pooper sometimes : )

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yes, I am still around...

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I am still here, we just have a lot going right now. I was sick last week, and even into part of this week with a nasty sinus infection. I even took a sick day on Monday, which is something I rarely do. I was feeling better and back at school yesterday, but then last night my father in law ended up sick and in the emergency room. He is still in the hospital, and we still aren't sure of what is going on with him. His blood pressure was extremely low (like 69/27 at one point), and he is having abdominal pains. They ran a lot of tests today, and more tests are scheduled for Friday, and he remains in CCU because his blood pressure continues to be low. Mr. P is such a strong guy, but he's not taking things well. He's terribly worried about his dad, and so am I. Please keep him in your prayers.

Has anyone heard from Hopsy over at Monograms and Manicures? I heard about the terrible attacks in India, and I know that her father and possibly her mother are over there right now. Her family is certainly in my prayers.

Mr. P and I are going to collapse on the couch and watch Top Chef. We are both exhausted!

I wish you all a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If You're Planning A Trip to Nashville...

Mr. P and I will be going to Nashville this weekend to visit my family. It's going to be a busy weekend, jam-packed with activities. Between planning this weekend, and watching the CMA's on TV right now, I have Nashville on my mind, so I thought I would blog about some of my favorite places.

1. The Puffy Muffin
First, I have to talk about one of my favorite places to eat in Nashville, The Puffy Muffin. It's located in Brentwood, in the HG Hills Shopping Center. My cousin is the chief operating officer and his wife is in charge of the bakery. She makes the most beautiful cakes...she even made a cake for Elton John once. How cool is that? The restaurant and bakery are both fantastic. Some of my favorite items are the chicken tortilla soup, amaretto chicken, cranberry salad with poppyseed dressing, and the ginger tea. And of course the cupcakes from the bakery are delicious.

2. Hot Pink
Right next door to the Puffy Muffin is a great little store called Hot Pink. (I was so disappointed to discover that they didn't have a website, because I would have loved to post a link here.) Great stationary, monogrammed items, and unique gifts. The last time that I was in there, I bought these cute notecards:

And they have the cutest pink toile bags that they put your purchases in.

3. Shopping

I couldn't list one specific shopping area because there are so many to choose from, so I'll just give you some highlights.

Mall at Green Hills-Dillard's, Macy's, Gap, Sephora, Ann Taylor & Ann Taylor Loft, J. Crew, Pottery Barn & Pottery Barn Kids, Williams-Sonoma, Coach, The Cheesecake Factory, and Tiffany & Co. Need I say more??

Opry Mills-A little more touristy than Green Hills, but still a great mall. Lots of stores and restaurants to choose from, and a huge Bass Pro Shop which is great if your husband has to tag along. It will keep him occupied for quite a while so that you can shop in peace!

Prime Outlets in Lebanon-It's a little ways outside the city, but well worth the drive if you're looking for a bargain.

4. Gaylord Opryland Hotel-Another one that's a little bit touristy, but well worth a visit. Beautiful gardens and conservatories on the inside and it's absolutely beautiful during the Christmas season.

5. Mom and Dad's House-Sorry no link to a website here, just lots of good times and good food : )

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Recap

Well, it has been a quiet weekend in the Putter household, but those are the best kind, aren't they? I worked late on a report on Friday, so I didn't get home until almost 8:00. Mr. P had brought take-out from our favorite Chinese restaurant home, and it was so nice to eat in and relax for the rest of the night.

Other than church, Sunday School, and lunch out with some friends, it has been a gloriously quiet Sunday. We lit the fireplace for the first time this season, and the great room has been so cozy and comfortable today.

By request here is the recipe for the Green Chile Burritos that I made last week.

Green Chile Burritos

1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
8 6-inch flour tortillas
1/2 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
1 cup (4 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can (4 1/2 ounces) chopped green chiles

Spread refried beans over tortillas. Top each with beef and 2 tablespoons of cheese. Fold ends and sides over filling and roll up; place seam side down in a greased 13 X 9 inch baking pan.

Sprinkle with chiles and remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through.

I used lean ground beef, whole wheat tortillas, fat free refried beans and reduced fat cheese to make it healthier, and I put a small amount of sour cream and some salsa on them when I served them.

I hope that everyone else had a good weekend too!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Positively Positive Post

Tonight's post is about things that made me happy today-namely, my date with Mr. P, an new monogrammed item, and a new recipe!

Mr. P and I weren't able to go out and celebrate our anniversary on Monday, so we decided to celebrate it last night. We went to see the movie Fireproof, and what a great movie it was! If you haven't heard about the movie, it is produced by the church that produced the movie Facing the Giants. Kirk Cameron stars in Fireproof as a fireman trying to save his marriage, and it has a powerful message about love and marriage. It was a great choice for an anniversary date, and I highly recommend seeing it.

New monogrammed item alert! I bought this toile tote at an education conference a few years ago, and I've been using it as my school bag since the spring. I love the black and white lining inside, and it has a lot of pockets and compartments to hold all my stuff.

Recently, I've been thinking about getting it monogrammed. We have a lady who does all of the embroidering and monogramming for our school spirit items, and she happened to come into school this morning. I showed her my bag and asked her about monogramming it, and she said she would be glad to do it. So I emptied my bag, gave it to her, and told her there was no rush in getting it back to me. Imagine my surprise when she brought it back to me this afternoon! Here is the finished product:

I thought she did a great job on it, and I am thrilled with it.

I was browsing through my cookbooks on Saturday and came across a cookbook that I had bought last year and promptly forgotten about.

As I looked through the cookbook, I realized that there were several great looking recipes that I wanted to try. So I've decided to try one new recipe a week, and tonight's recipe was Green Chile Burritos. It turned out great! It was really quick and easy to put together too, so that made it even better. I'll keep you posted on the new recipe each week.

Have a great evening everyone!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy (Belated) Halloween

Hello dear bloggers! I hope that each of you had a happy and safe Halloween weekend. Mr. P and I had a rather quiet one. We both worked late, so we met for a late dinner at a restaurant on the river. We love this restaurant, and it will be closing for the winter very soon, so we decided to eat there one last time for the year. After dinner, Mr. P went home because he had to work on Saturday, and I went to visit some friends. We live so far out, and our house is pretty far off the road, therefore we rarely get any trick or treaters. So for the past several years, we've celebrated Halloween at our friends M and R's house. Mr. P hated to miss the festivities, but he had to be up by 5:00 am on Saturday, so I went by myself this year.

On Saturday, we went over to D and R's house to watch the UK-Mississippi State game. They eked out a win, thankfully. As far as my dear Volunteers, I have no words. This has been a terrible season, and I'll just be glad when it is over. Maybe we'll have a better basketball season, although football is my first love.

Despite my woes over Tennesse and the close game that the Wildcats had, we had a great time watching the UK game. R had made chili, and everyone else brought accompaniments to the chili. I brought Touchdown Taco Dip, a recipe that I found from Pampered Chef several years ago. Here is the recipe:

Touchdown Taco Dip

1 9-ounce can bean dip
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup tomato, seeded and diced
2 green onions, with tops, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pitted ripe olives, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
Additional sour cream (optional)
Tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread bean dip over bottom of a small baking dish. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, taco seasoning mix, and garlic; mix well.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over bean dip. Top with shredded cheese and bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Sprinkle tomato, onions, olives, and cilantro over dip. Garnish with additional sour cream, if desired. Serve with tortilla chips.

I substituted the taco seasoning mix for the Mexican seasoning mix from The Pepper Palace.

The dip was a big hit at the party, and I wished that I had doubled the recipe. If you are making it for more than a few people, I would definitely recommend making it in a larger baking dish and doubling the recipe.

I have the next two days off from school-woohoo! Tomorrow is FDEA day, and of course Tuesday is election day. I am definitely looking forward to my time off.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Back Home

Quick post tonight-I got home yesterday afternoon and spent the evening getting the house ready for my house cleaners to come today. Does anyone else do this? Mr. P can't understand why I have to clean the house before they come each month. But I'm telling you, we were so busy this month, I simply could not keep up with the clutter control and I'm usually pretty picky about that. I would have been so embarrassed if they had seen my house before I got it ready for them!

Back at school today with lots of things to catch up on. I worked late and rode home with Mr. P because he worked late too. So that means I'll be at school early in the morning, and I'll hopefully get home earlier tomorrow afternoon.

Working late=takeout tonight. We picked up pasta on the way home, and there is enough left over for tomorrow night. No cooking and very little clean up 2 nights in a row-yeah!

The secretary from the school I used to teach at emailed me today. Her son and her best friend's daughter were in my class when I taught 3rd grade, and they were in my class again the year that I moved up to 5th grade. Both were great kids and I loved having them in class both years. They are now sophomores in high school (yikes, I'm gettin' old!) and they are going on a retreat for teens/young adults this weekend with their church. Part of the experience is receiving letters from friends and family, and she asked me if I would be interested in writing a letter for each of them. I was so touched that she thought of me, and I'm so glad to be able to tell them what great kids they are and how proud I am of them. I participated in a similar retreat program in high school and I remember receiving letters from my parents and other family and friends-it was a special experience.

Unfortunately, riding with Mr. P means that I have to be up by 4:45 in the morning, so I'm signing off and going to bed! Sorry for the random, boring thoughts tonight-I promise to write a more exciting entry tomorrow!

Have a great night!

Monday, October 27, 2008

I could get used to this

Hello everyone! I'm posting from my hotel room, where I am all tucked in for the night.

The presentation sessions went well today. I used to be an assessment specialist and presenting to large groups was a regular part of my job, but it had been over a year since I had done a presentation of this caliber. Luckily, it all came back to me and the presentation went great. I was partnered with my former boss, who is a great, classy lady that I had the privilege of working closely with for two years. She was integral in helping me develop leadership skills, and encouraged me in my quest to become a school-level administrator. I have really enjoyed spending time with her today because we used to make such a good team.

Well, I'm going to read a few blogs and then head to bed. I didn't sleep well last night because I was so nervous about everything today. Hopefully, I'll sleep better tonight!

Off to Louisville

I'm headed out of town to present at a state conference. I'm nervous about my presentation and I still haven't packed, so I'm a little stressed right now! Will try to post from the hotel tonight...

Have a great day everyone!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Drive-by Posting

Hello all! Hope that you are having a great weekend. We are having our Fall Festival at school today, so it is a work day for me. We were at school late last night getting things ready, and I have to be back at school in a couple of hours. No relaxing Saturday for me today, but it should be a good time. It's our school's main fundraiser for the year and a big community event, so I'm looking forward to it.

My sweet, sweet husband got up this morning and made me chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Oh. my. goodness. They were wonderful! He is such a sweetheart-sometimes I think that I don't deserve such a great guy. He certainly puts up with a lot with me!!

Update on my autumn decorations. I wasn't happy with the gourds in the bride's bowl. I thought that it still looked a little plain. So I played around with some things and ended up adding more gourds and putting an autumn vine around the vase. Here are the before and after pictures.



Much better, don't you think?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Weekend Update/Shopping Finds

Whew! I'm finally getting a chance to slow down a little bit this week. School has been so busy, but I got a bit of a break today. I had to attend a meeting in another district, which was closer to my house than school. So I got to sleep a little later, had a much shorter commute to work, and I was home by 4:00. What a treat!

We had a great time with my family over the weekend. We weren't able to leave until Saturday morning, so it was a short trip, but we still managed to squeeze a lot of activities in.
I had a lunch & shopping date with Mom, Katie, and my sister in law on Saturday. We went in several of the stores, but there were still some that we didn't have time to go into. I was happy to see that they had a TJ Maxx, but I didn't find as much as I would have liked to there. Just when I was beginning to think that my TJ trip was going to be a bust, I found these shoes for $25:

These are Rockports, which surprised me, because I never thought about that company making dressy shoes. I always think of the heavy work-type shoes when I think of Rockport. But you know how you can find the most random things at TJ Maxx! The shoes have a rubber sole, which makes them perfect for school, but they still look dressy. I've worn them twice this week and my feet have not hurt yet. I also picked up some trouser socks, and a few little items for stocking stuffers at Christmas.

We went to Old Navy, where I finally found the pink and green argyle sweater that I've been looking for...but they only had it in a small. I was so disappointed! This was the third Old Navy that I had looked for that sweater in, and the first one that actually had it. Old Navy sweaters tend to run small on me, so I really hesitate to order it online. But I may go ahead and do the online thing, since no stores in my area seem to carry it! I was also on the hunt for some trouser jeans, but I couldn't find any at Old Navy to suit me.

I had a gift card for Kohl's, so we decided to head over there after leaving Providence. I had been disappointed at my lack of finds at Providence, so I was hoping that Kohl's would work out better for me...and indeed it did! They were having a great sale. Here are my finds:

I fell in love with this jacket.

And I finally found some trouser jeans that worked for me. These will be perfect for school on Fridays.

I also found a sweater and a bubble-sleeve t-shirt. I've never been a fan of the mock-layer sweaters, mainly because they never seem to be comfortable on me. But I thought this one was so pretty with the black and white print, and when I tried it on, I was pleasantly surprised that it was very comfortable.

I also picked up some jeans and a golf shirt for Mr. P. In the process of my shopping finds, I earned $20 in Kohl's cash, which is basically a gift certificate. So I went to my local store today and used the Kohl's cash towards the purchase of these shoes:

I think that I can safely say that I have not lost my shopping gene, don't you think? I couldn't have picked a better weekend to shop because I will be presenting at a state conference in next week, and I was wanting some new clothes to wear. Packing for the conference won't be nearly as stressful now.

We had dinner at Mom and Dad's house Saturday night, followed by cake and presents. Mr. P made Mom a coconut cake because that is her favorite kind, and then we picked up a white w/buttercream icing cake at a local bakery.

We had brunch on Sunday at the Opryland Hotel with the whole family and had a great time. The Opryland Hotel is beautiful. If you are traveling to Nashville, I highly recommend staying there. Mr. P and I stayed there during the Christmas season a few years ago, and it was wonderful.

All in all, it was a great weekend!
I have missed reading everyone else's blogs, so I am off to catch up on my reading!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

In Defiance of Mother Nature

Is fall ever going to arrive? We've had a couple of cool days here and there, but overall our fall has been h-o-t and I couldn't be more unhappy about it! The highs have been in the 80's here this can I wear my cute fall clothes in this heat? So, hot weather or not, I was determined to wear a "fall" outfit to church. Part of the problem is that I received some very cute fall clothes for my birthday and I am dying to wear them. So I inventoried the closet and tried to come up with a reasonable outfit, while still wearing at least one piece of my new clothes. Here is what I came up with:

This is not the best photo, but it's the best I could do. The RL shawl-necked sweater vest was a birthday gift. I found a gray, brown, and green plaid skirt that looked great with the vest and paired it with a cream-colored shirt.

I also put up a few autumn decorations around the house yesterday. Now I love decorating the house at Christmas, but I usually don't do much for fall. However, all of you crafty bloggers have inspired me to put forth a little more effort.
My dining room table:

The bowl is the bride's bowl that has been in my dad's family for years. I inherited it from my grandmother after she passed away a few years ago, and it was kept in storage until Mr. P and I moved into our new house. It sits on the dining room table and I usually try to work it into my holiday decorations because I can't bear to put it up. I put grass and painted eggs in it at Easter, and last year I put red and green ball ornaments in it at Christmas. I found some bags of gourds and I thought they would look pretty in it. I may move the candlesticks to the mantle and put some other candlesticks out.

Here are a few more pictures:

I love the little Harvest Girl, as I call her. A friend gave her to me for my birthday a few years ago and I think she's adorable.

We're off to a birthday party for our friends' twin two-year olds. It should be a good time!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hangin' in There for my Vols

Not a good day for football in my household, Kentucky lost to South Carolina and Tennessee lost to Georgia. I figured that the Vols wouldn't pull it out today, given the way the season has gone so far. No hard feelings against all you Georgia girls, though : ) We thought the Wildcats had a chance against the Gamecocks, unfortunately that wasn't the case. I still proudly wore my orange today because I'm hanging in there for my Volunteers!

The in-laws hosted the church's annual hayride and bonfire tonight, which meant that we sort-of hosted it too. Mr. P was up early this morning getting the hay bales on the wagons, setting up the wood for the fire, hauling picnic tables down to the area by the big pond, and doing various other chores. He was closely supervised by Sunny, as you can see from this picture:

And apparently watching others work makes her so tired that she can't even hold her head up...

My camera battery died right when we got back from the hayride, so I don't have any pictures of the bonfire, but here are a few pictures that I managed to get.
Loading up the wagons

Mr. P driving one of the tractors.

Sunny followed along for a while...

but she got tired so she jumped up on the wagon with us. She kept wanting to jump on and off the wagon and it was making me so nervous. Finally my sweet father-in-law put her in the cab of his truck, which was pulling the other wagon. She looked so cute sitting up there beside him. She certainly knew how to trick us into getting her a sweet ride! I tried to get a picture of her sitting up beside him, but I was at a weird angle, so this is the best I could do.

You can only see her back because she's leaning towards the window to stick her head out. Most of the time, she was sitting up, looking out the windshield. It was so cute!

It didn't really feel like hayride/bonfire weather today-it was in the 80's, but once the sun went down, the fire felt good and everyone had a good time. I really regret that I don't have any pictures from the bonfire. The area where we had it is one of my favorite places on the farm. There's a huge pond, with a dock and a large cleared area around it.
Busy day tomorrow-church, followed by a birthday party in the afternoon. Hope that everyone else is having a great weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Lovely Relaxing Day

Today was one of those days that I have very few of...a day with absolutely nothing to do. Of course I found plenty of things to do around here, but I never left the house. It was wonderful. I slept in, well if you can call it that. I slept until 7:30, but when you normally get up no later than 5:00, it's a luxury to sleep until 7:30. I relaxed over coffee while I caught up with some shows that I had on the DVR. I caught up on all of my blogs, discovered several new blogs, and watched the Sex and the City movie at the same time. I did do some housework (but not much!), read the October issue of Southern Living, and made a pot of chili for dinner. I also made the queso dip recipe from the Pepper Palace. It was so simple, yet it was delicious. 6 ounces of cream cheese, 8 ounces of Velveeta, and 1 tablespoon of this:

So yummy! I also used this seasoning in the chili and it really added some great flavor.

Since I didn't do anything very blog-worthy today, I'll show pics of what I bought when K and I were shopping yesterday. We went to the mall and hit Old Navy, Macy's, Forever 21, Victoria's Secret, Steve and Barry's, It's Sew You, and The Gap, before heading over to TJ Maxx. Mr. P and I have been trying to be more frugal lately, so I've had myself on a shopping freeze except for necessities. But with birthday money in my pocket, I was ready to buy! However, can you believe I only bought a few hair accessories? What is wrong with me? Have I involuntarily put myself on a permanent shopping freeze? Oh, say it isn't so! Actually, I think that K and I were so busy chatting and catching up on things that I didn't really focus on my shopping. We mainly just wandered around and talked. Let's hope that's the case anyway-a life without shopping sounds awfully sad to me.

Now I don't usually go into Forever 21. I guess I figure that I'm too far from 21 to ever think of myself as "forever 21"-hee hee. K wanted to go in, so I went with her and I was pleasantly surprised to find some really cute hair accessories at great prices. Here are my finds:

A two-pack of headbands-one plain black and one black and white plaid for $2.80. K picked out a similar pack, but one of her headbands was an animal print.

Another two-pack of headbands-two black headbands with a small bow for $1.50. Since they were both exactly alike, K and I split the pack.

A four-pack of hair clips for $1.80. Aren't the polka-dotted ones cute? So that's six headbands and four hair clips for less than $10.00. What a bargain! They had some other headbands with larger bows and feathers that would be great if you are going for a Blair Waldorf look. They were cute too.

Believe it or not, I have nothing scheduled for tomorrow either, but I do think I'll venture out of the house. My friend Lori B is working at a little boutique tomorrow, so I think I'll go visit her at the store. If there's a store that will convince me to get back in the shopping habit, it's the one she works at. They have such cute stuff in there.
I'll let ya know tomorrow if my shopping gene kicks back in!