Friday, November 30, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day thirty

Yes, folks you read that right. I made it 30 days. Not that I thought I wouldn't have 30 things to be thankful for, but rather I wasn't sure I would be able to actually get around to posting something every day. But with a little help from blogger's post scheduling tool, I made it happen. I thought the best way to close out the month would be to post pictures from our fun-filled Thanksgiving weekend in Aiken.
Thanksgiving with the Kings
 Here's what Bentley thought of all of these people on our house
 ...including dad's palm tree.
I earned my turkey at Thanksgiving with the Opreas by pushing these cuties in the hammock.
Sweet Reese wanted a solo shot.
The day after Thanksgiving we continued with our tradition of tailgate treats and backyard games with both families. Fun times.
Uncle Alan, Dad and Dave
The mom and the mom-in-law(love)
The Carson girls loved playing with their new friend, Kiera (my second cousin). By the end of the afternoon, they asked if they could have a sleepover. I love how quickly kids become best friends...
While the big girls were playing, I followed the little man around and snapped some pics.
I promise he really does have the sweetest smile. Just leave it to Uncle Dustin to bring it out...
Haley got her own photo shoot to document her sweet toothless smile.
Seven going on seventeen..
Miranda with her oldest. I still can't believe she is seven...
This was called operation "tire the kids out before they get in the car for a 4.5 hour drive".
Loved playing with cousin Dustin (who perhaps should start doing some hamstring stretches?)
Even twelve year old Bentley got in on the fun and chewed up the husband's football. Good to see he's still got some spunk left. Bentley- not Dustin.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day twenty eight

Today I am thankful for my parents on their 31st wedding anniversary. Thanks for all you do and here's to many more to come : )

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day twenty seven

I am thankful for the opportunity to sponsor our two precious kiddos overseas and invest in their lives. We pray for James and Umwizerwa and hope that we can make it over there to meet them one day. It warms my heart to know that they will receive Christmas gifts for perhaps the first time ever this year. You can watch this sweet video here. If you would like to sponsor a child this holiday season and every other season throughout the year, please visit the website here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day twenty six

As husband took my car to get an oil change this morning, it reminded me that I am thankful we have two working and fully paid off cars. Such. A. Blessing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day twenty five

Today I am thankful for sweet friends who are great listeners, encouragers, walking buddies, coffee dates, dinner planners and really more like family.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day twenty three

Today, I am so very thankful that both of our families actually enjoy spending time together. Today is sure to include a post-thanksgiving tailgate and plenty of yard games. I am also thankful for all of you black friday shoppers. I am certainly not one, but a big thank you to all of you doorbusters for keeping our economy going.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day twenty two

Well today is the day. The entire month of thankfulness seems to culminate on this one day; however, since I've titled this little series "thirty days of thankful", my type-A feels the need to finish it out. Today I am thankful for the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with both of our families. Two meals in one day is two more than some people get and for that we are grateful. I hope that you all have a very happy thanksgiving however you are celebrating this year. Be sure to thank those deployed overseas and those working in our hospitals who are working to keep us safe and healthy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day twenty one

I am thankful for cheesy holiday commercials that warm my heart and bring tears to my eyes. Here are a few of my all time favorites.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day twenty

Both husband and I have been fighting off some nasty colds for the past week or so. It has been on these evenings that I am thankful for my crock pot, because it allows me to cook warm comfort food with little to no effort. Here is a recipe we had the other night that hit the spot and will now be a winter staple.

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can low fat cream of chicken soup
1 can low fat cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups of frozen carrots and peas (about half a bag)
1 roll refrigerated biscuits

1. Place the chicken and soups in the crock pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

2. Shred the chicken with two forks and mix in the frozen veggies.

3. Tear the biscuit dough into smaller pieces and layer on top of the chicken mixture. You'll actually do this to the raw dough (I know, I was skeptical too, but the next step actually cooks the biscuits into a delightful dumpling-like consistency).

4. Cook on high for an hour and then mix everything together.

Adapted from here. Enjoy!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thity days of thankful: day nineteen

Today I am thankful for medicine. Husband has been sick for the past week and I have been for the past couple days. I'm thankful that we have access to the greatness that is Tylenol cold and Mucinex.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day eighteen

Today I am thankful for the opportunity to go to church. I know there are so many around the world that are not given this freedom and it's not one I ever want to take for granted. You can watch online at

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day seventeen

Today I am simply thankful for a relaxing Saturday at home. These are pretty rare in the fall, so I tend to soak up every minute I can get. I'm also thankful for a husband that has gone with me to see every Twilight movie... I will miss this tradition of waiting in line with teenagers dressed in airbrushed werewolf t-shirts and cougar moms.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day sixteen

I am thankful that we were able to spend time with the Oprea family last weekend at Clemson's homecoming and celebrate the upcoming marriage of Seth and Brittney!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day fifteen

I am thankful for Fall because it allows me to bake all things pumpkin. Here are some recipes I made this past weekend for Clemson homecoming.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles (originally from here)
For the cookies:
 - 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 3/4 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the coating:
- 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Dash of allspice

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree, then beat in the egg and vanilla. 

2. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

3. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until fully incorporated. Cover and chill the dough for at least an hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liner. 

5. Mix the coating ingredients in a small bowl. Scoop equal dough balls and roll into the sugar mixture. Set on cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Dip the bottom of a flat drinking glass into water, then into the sugar mixture and use to slightly flatten the dough balls. Recoat the bottom of the glass in the sugar-spice mixture as needed. 

6. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until baked through. Let cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.  

Makes approx. 3 dozen- the perfect fall tailgate treat! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pound Cake (originally from here)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
*I actually used 1 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice instead of cloves and nutmeg, because I didn't have any and it came out just fine.

1. In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cloves and pudding mix; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.

3. Transfer to a greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serves 12-16.

This would make a great Thanksgiving dessert as well- Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day fourteen

I am thankful that 11 years ago today, there was this cute boy that asked me to be his girlfriend.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day thirteen

I bet you thought I wasn't going to get in a post today. Well, today I am simply thankful to come home after a long day at work to a warm house.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day twelve

I am so very thankful for the place I get to go to work each week and feel like I make a a difference. I know that I've already mentioned Children's, but it deserves some more credit and this also will not be the last time I mention it. I'm thankful for our organization and for the opportunity to serve our patients. I'm humbled each time I walk through the doors.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day eleven

On this Veterans' Day, I am so very thankful for our veterans and active soldiers; although, I feel as though "thankful" does not even accurately describe the immense admiration I have for these brave men and women. They selflessly serve or have served our country at home and overseas and more often than not end up being shuffled around in the politics of today. So today and everyday, thank you for what you do and have done for our freedom.

These are the soldiers standing guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier during hurricane Sandy.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day ten

I am thankful for the opportunity to spend this beautiful Saturday the way I'm pretty sure God intended (kidding, people). But seriously, there is no place I would rather be on a Fall Saturday than Clemson. You see, even the trees around campus love our tigers so much that they sport their orange best in the Fall.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day nine

I am thankful that we get to spend time this weekend with friends and family- specifically, Dustin's younger (despite how they look in the picture!) brother Seth and his sweet fiance, Brittney. We are looking forward to celebrating you both this weekend and even more so to the wedding in January!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day eight

So this post is really a follow up to yesterday's, because I am still so very thankful for our wonderful K-Life leaders. Here are the recipes from Sunday's Thanksgiving dinner. This was my first time ever cooking a Thanksgiving dinner and it turned out pretty darn good if I do say so myself. Everything below will serve approximately 10-12. We actually had 16 people and had plenty of food (I did double the sweet potato souffle), but this will obviously depend on your crowd. If this is your first time cooking a Thanksgiving meal, the recipes below are pretty fool proof.  Here are some helpful Thanksgiving tips to ensure you have a stress-free meal:

1. You can make the casseroles a day or two ahead of time and refridgerate them to save yourself some time on Thanksgiving day. If you do refridgerate ahead of time, add about 20 min onto each cooking time.

2. With the turkey in the crock pot, I was able to fit the stuffing, sweet potato souffle and broccoli casserole all in the oven at the same time. Without having a convection oven, I cooked everything at 350 for about an hour and a half.

3. I would consider myself kind of a health nut when it comes to cooking and working out; but in my opinion, Thanksgiving (and Christmas for that matter) is not the time to substitute low fat options in your dishes (milk, half and half, condensed soup, etc.). Usually, these low fat options change the consistency of the dishes so they don't turn out exactly how they should. If you eat healthy the other 363 days of the year, now is your time for a splurge : )

4. If you're baking rolls (in my case I made some Pillsbury crescent rolls), put them in the oven by themself after you've taken all of your casseroles out. The casseroles will be bubbling hot and this will allow them 8-10 min to cool while you're waiting on your rolls to bake.

Thanksgiving Recipes:

Crockpot Turkey Breast (serves approx. 10-12)
*Instead of a whole turkey, I made a turkey breast in the crock pot and I would highly recommend this if you need to free up some oven space. It also sort of self-bastes, because all of the juices drip from underneath the lid onto the turkey while it's cooking.
- 7lb bone-in turkey breast (thawed completely)
- 1 pkg dry onion soup mix
- 1 sweet onion coursely chopped in large pieces
- 3 carrots peeled and coursely chopped
- 3 celery stalks coursely chopped
- 1 cup of turkey broth

1. Place chopped veggies in the bottom of the crock pot and pour turkey broth over them.

2. Place the turkey breast on top of the veggies. I actually had a few left to stuff into the cavity, so I did that as well.

3. Rub the outside of the turkey with the dry onion soup mix (under the skin too). I also sprinkled dash of poultry seasoning and garlic powder on the turkey (optional).

4. Cook for one hour on high and then 6-7 hours on low. Internal temperature should be atleast 165 when taken with a meat thermometer. When it's finished, you should be able to remove the turkey from the crock pot, place it on your serving platter and slice just like you would a whole turkey. I served it with Trader Joes turkey gravy and it was delish!

Sausage Cornbread Stuffing (serves approx. 10-12)
*I cheated and bought Trader Joes boxed stuffing mix and it was so yummy!
- 1 box cornbread stuffing mix (or you can make your own, fancy pants)
- 1 package uncooked ground sausage (I used maple flavored)
- 1 sweet onion chopped
- 3 celery stalks chopped
- water as called for on the stuffing mix of your choice (I actually used turkey broth instead to give it some more flavor)

1. Cook sausage in a pan according to package directions and set aside.

2. Saute the celery and onion for about 5 minutes in the same pan as you cooked the sausage, because it gives it some great flavor. Set aside with the sausage once finished.

3. In a separate pot, prepare stuffing mix according to package directions for "oven casserole". I also mixed in a small handful of freshly chopped sage (optional). Here is where you can really customize this however you'd like by adding chopped nuts, cranberries, chestnuts or whatever sounds good!

4. Combine the sausage/onion/celery mixture with the stuffing into one large greased casserole dish and bake covered at 350 for 25 min. Uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 to brown the top.

Sweet Potato Souffle (serves approx. 10-12)
2 cups mashed yams (2 large cans)
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 eggs
¾ stick of butter softened
1 cup whole milk
½ tsp cinnamon

¾ cup crushed corn flakes
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup brown sugar
¾ of stick melted butter
handful of mini marshmallows (optional)

1. Mix all of the souffle ingredients together with an electric mixer on low/med until mostly smooth (not too much, because you don't want it too liquidy).

2. Spread souffle mixture into ungreased baking dish.

3. Combine all ingredients for topping and sprinkle on top of souffle.

4. Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 min. Sprinkle the marshmallows on for the last 3-4 min.

Broccoli Casserole (serves approx 10-12)
2 pkgs frozen chopped broccoli florets (cooked/drained)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 eggs (fork scrambled, uncooked)
¾ cup mayo
1 medium onion (chopped)
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
1 can of fried onions

1. Saute your onion in a pan with a dash of EVOO to soften them up a bit (about 5 min)

2. In a large bowl, combine cooked broccoli, soup, eggs, mayo, onion and cheese until everything is well coated.

3. Pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 350 covered for 25 min. Uncover, pour the fried onions on top and bake an additional 10 min.

Perfect Mashed Potatoes (serves approx. 10-12)
3 lb bag of Russett potatoes or you can use Yukon gold too
1 cup of half and half
1/2 cup of plain Philadelphia cooking cream
butter, salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel potatoes and place in a large pot with enough water so that all are covered. Sprinkle in a few shakes of salt to the water before boiling. You can chop the potatoes if you'd like, but I didn't and they came out just fine.

2. Bring water and potatoes to a boil and cook for 20-25 min after the water has reached a rolling boil. They are done when you stick a fork in them and they slide off fairly easily.

3. Drain potatoes and return to pot.

4. Mash with a potato masher (or you can use a potato ricer if you have one).

5. Once roughly mashed, mix in the half and half and philly cooking cream. Next, I whisked them by hand, because they were smooth enough to do so. An electric mixer will generally give you more "lumps".

6. Season to taste with butter, salt and pepper. Serve immediately- yum!

Cranberries (this recipe was previously posted here)

If you combine all of the above, your Thanksgiving food table will look something like this. I wasn't able to take pictures of each dish, because the food was ready and we had a hungry crowd! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day seven

I am so very thankful for our fabulous K-Life leaders. They give so much of their time and energy to the ministry and it has been a privilege to watch how the Lord has used them to grow the ministry over the past four years. We had our first K-Life Thanksgiving at our house on Sunday night and I cooked up a thanksgiving meal with all of the fixin's. Recipes to follow...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day six

I am thankful that our Heavenly Father is ultimately in charge and that no matter who wins the election- that fact stays the same. I am thankful that God is not a democrat or a republican. He is pro-us and longs to meet us where we're at. He does not bring up our missteps or remind us where we fall short. He is for us and desires for us to draw near to Him. I'm thankful that we're still one nation under God...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day five

I am so thankful for this beautiful time of year. I am going to soak up the cool weather and gorgeous leaves while I can, because I know they won't be around for long. They will quickly be replaced by much colder temps and empty trees...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day four

I am so very thankful for my church. This body of believers has an incredible impact on our community and I am blessed to be a part of it. Each and every program they offer has a specific purpose- to make the name of Jesus known, express His love for us and to do it in a way that draws people not to our church- but to our Father. I am not only thankful for my church, but for the opportunity to Be the Church in our community. You can watch Sunday services online at and learn how to Be Rich here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day three

I am thankful that I love my job so much that I will run a 5K on a Saturday morning to support Children's and Camp Independence. I am very blessed to have the schedule I now have and actually love what I do. I am also thankful that for the first time in about two years, I feel healthy enough to run a 5K. I made it in 33:15 and that is just fine by me. The husband was out of town, or else he would've been running with me.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thirty days of thankful: day two

I am thankful for my wonderful husband who helps me so much. He cleans bathrooms, unloads the dishwasher, folds laundry, does the yard work... and carries my luggage through the streets of Boston.

PS. Notice the guy walking in front of us with the grey jacket on. That's the Olympic warm-up/podium jacket that the athletes were wearing in London this summer. I have no idea who he was, but kind of wish I asked him now...