Friday, April 30, 2010

We're Back!!!

Life has been rather hectic the last couple of months with school, taking care of Courtney, etc... and I haven't been able to update the blog that much, so here's the latest info. I did officially get into Belmont's Nursing School (YAY!), now I just have to find a way to pay for it. I don't really want to take out student loans since Belmont isn't the cheapest school out there, but we would also have to look at putting Courtney into daycare full-time, which is a whopping $620 a month!  I have considered waiting to finish my last two years at Belmont when Courtney starts kindergarten, which would be in August 2012. Anyway, that is probably what I will do since we wouldn't have to worry about paying $620 of daycare each month. I also like that idea because I would get to spend all my time with Courtney until she starts school.

I have a few recent photos of our visit to the Nashville Zoo that I thought I would share. Courtney loves the zoo and we decided to become members this year. I also love the zoo because after Courtney and I get done walking, she's exhausted and we've both gotten in some exercise. The zoo is also adding a new exhibit of flamingos this summer, which we're really excited about. You can go to their website at www.nashvillezoo.org and check out the latest info. Enjoy the photos!







Courtney loves petting all the animals

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday Courtney!

We still can't believe Courtney is 3 years old today!  Happy Birthday Courtney!!!





Monday, January 18, 2010

New Haircut

Courtney got a new haircut last week and here and some photos. As you can see, it looks so much better and Courtney even likes it too!



Friday, January 15, 2010

New Addiction

So I recently began reading the Sookie Stackhouse  novels by Charlaine Harris and I'm hooked. One of my close friend's sister recommended them, so I decided I would read the first book to see if I enjoyed it or not.  I believe there's eight or nine books in the series, but could be more.  I just finished the first book (Dead Until Dark) last night and getting ready to go buy the second (Living Dead in Dallas) today.  Of course the series is about vampires and has similar qualities as the Twilight series, but has more gory violence/blood and A LOT more steamy romance.  I would give these books a "R" rating and shouldn't be read by children.  The books have been made into a show called True Blood which is on HBO, which is for adults as well.  For my birthday Philip bought me Season 1 on blu-ray and Season 2 should be released next month sometime on blu-ray, but I'm not sure on the date.  Season 3 is in production and will air sometime this summer.  Anyway, if you enjoyed the Twilight series and your an adult, then you might enjoy this series.


Friday, December 11, 2009

New Car

Last night we went and picked up Philip's new car from Beaman Toyota.  Philip is so excited about his new car, so I wanted to post some pictures of it.  We had been looking for several weeks and the dealer was able to trade and get the color (Bayou Blue) Philip wanted.  It's a 2010 Toyota Yaris 5 door hatchback and gets an estimate 29/36 mpg.  Philip's old car (2000 Chevy Cavalier) was on it's last legs with 150,000 miles, and the air conditioner didn't even work.  We didn't want to put anymore money into that car, so we decided it was time for a new one. Toyota is running some GREAT incentives and we got a AWESOME deal on the Yaris.  One of my friends that I went to high school with is the new car sales manager at Beaman, so he helped us out with the price even more.  It was a great buying experience and we recommend Beaman to anyone that looking for a new Toyota.  Beaman's customer service is great ad their was no haggling or confusion.  Philip's new car should be paid off in three years and then my van will be on it's last legs, so I will be needing something then.  I was looking at the 2010 Toyota 4 Runner and the new body style looks awesome!  If Toyota keeps that body style for the next three years, then that might be my next car :)

Toyota Yaris.  Philip's car looks like this except it's blue.


Here is it


It's a lot more roomier than it looks





2010 Toyota 4 Runner...doesn't the new body style look great?

Favorite Christmas Recipes

Cranberry French Toast

Ingredients
  • 1 loaf challah bread
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Directions

Slice challah bread into thick pieces. Combine cream cheese, sugar, fresh cranberries together. Cut a pocket into the bread and stuff cream cheese mixture inside. Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Beat eggs and milk together in a large bowl. Dip stuffed bread into egg mixture, coating both sides. Place bread in pan, heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side.


Creamy Hash Brown Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, plus more for dish
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (10 1/2-ounce) can cream of celery soup
  • 1 (8-ounce) package shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (30-ounce) package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups crushed potato chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a casserole dish.

In a small skillet, melt 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Pour mixture into a large bowl. Add the sour cream, cream of celery soup, cheese, garlic powder, hash browns, and salt and pepper. Combine until well blended.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Top evenly with crushed potato chips and bake for 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.


English Toffee

Ingredients

  • 14 tablespoons (1 stick, plus 6 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Dash salt
  • 1 (6-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips or thin chocolatebars

Directions

Generously butter a cookie sheet.

Put butter, sugar, and water in a heavy pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a bubbling boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove spoon from pan, and cook to a very brittle stage (300 degrees to 310 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Or, make a cold water test: candy will separate into hard, brittle threads when dropped in cold water. Remove from heat and add nuts to mixture. Add vanilla and salt. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread to 1/4-inch thickness. Cool slightly, top with chocolate chips or chocolate bars, and spread as it melts. Cool completely and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.


Dummy Fudge

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans (any type of nut will work)

Directions

Butter a 9 by 9-inch baking dish

Melt chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and condensed milk in double boiler on medium heat. Once smooth remove from heat. Add vanilla and nuts. Scoop into baking dish and chill in refrigerator until set for approximately 10 minutes.


Corn Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.


Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 cups cooked cut green beans
  • 2 2/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions

Directions

Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 1 1/3 cups onions in a 3-quart casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.

Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

Tips:

Use 2 bags (16 to 20 ounces each) frozen green beans, 4 packages (9 ounces each) frozen green beans, 4 cans (about 16 ounces each) green beans or about 3 pounds fresh green beans for this recipe.

To add crunch, add 1/2 cup sliced almonds to the onion topping.

For bacon lovers, add 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, to the bean mixture.

To add a festive touch, add 1/2 cup chopped red pepper with the soup.

For cheese lovers, stir in 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese with the soup. Omit the soy sauce. Sprinkle with an additional 1/2 cup cheddar cheese when adding the remaining onions.

For Golden Green Bean Casserole, substitute Campbell's® Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup for the Cream of Mushroom Soup. Omit the soy sauce. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped red pepper with the green beans.


Maple-Roasted Turkey with sage, Smoked Bacon, and Corn bread Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1 loaf cornbread, cubed (about 6 cups)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (12 to 14 pound) fresh turkey
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 8 strips smoked bacon
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and remove the top rack.

Combine the butter and sage in a mixing bowl, mash with a fork or spoon until the sage is well incorporated and the butter has flecks of green in it; season with salt and pepper.

In a saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the sage butter, add the onions, cook and stir for 15 minutes until soft and golden. Remove from heat. Put the cornbread in a large mixing bowl and scrape the sauteed onion mixture on top. Add the egg, heavy cream, and just enough chicken stock to moisten the stuffing without making it soggy (about 1/2 cup.) Toss well to combine, season with salt and pepper.

Remove the neck and gizzards from the inside of the turkey and discard. Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, pat dry. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the breast and legs, and slip pieces of the sage butter underneath; massaging it in as you go. Fill the bird with the cornbread stuffing without packing too tightly; cook the remaining stuffing separately in a buttered baking dish. Truss the turkey; place it on a rack in a large roasting pan, and put into the oven.

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and hot water to thin the glaze out a bit; use this to baste the turkey every 30 minutes. The turkey should take about 3 hours to cook (i.e. 15 to 20 minutes per pound.) If the legs or breast brown too quickly, cover with foil. About 2 hours into cooking, shingle the strips of bacon oven the turkey breast to cover; continue to roast and baste for another hour or so. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F (the thigh juices will also run clear when pricked with a knife.) Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes before carving, so the juices can settle back into the meat.

Skim off the excess fat from the pan drippings with a spoon and place the roasting pan over 2 burners set on medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up brown bits stuck to bottom of pan. Whisk the flour into the drippings, stirring as it thickens to prevent lumps. Add the remaining chicken stock and bring to a simmer; season with salt and pepper and hit it with a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Simmer for 5 minutes and then strain to remove any particles. Serve the gravy with the maple-roasted turkey and cornbread stuffing.


Decorated for Christmas

Our house is officially decorated for Christmas!  Check out the photos below. 


We changed out the bows on our wreaths this year.  Instead of solid red, their red and white striped like candy canes.  Our blow up got knocked over with all the strong wind we had on Wednesday, so it's not working at the current moment, but when we get it fixed, I'll post a photo of it as well.


We didn't decorate the stair railing last year, so I thought I would try to put something on it this year.  My mom is the "bow queen", so she made the bow for me out of extra wide ribbon I got at Christmas Village.




Our Willow Tree nativity scene.  I got several pieces from Philip's parents last year for Christmas and Philip surprised me last week with the remaining ones I didn't have. :)
Our front door wreath that I made last year.  I'm still very proud of it.



New Christmas dish towels that Philip got for me from Cracker Barrel.  Aren't they cute?

Gingerbread House

This year we've started a Christmas tradition at our house.  Every year when Christmas time comes around, we plan to decorate a ginger bread house and display it for the holidays.  I never did decorate a ginger bread house growing up, so I thought this would be something fun to start with Courtney.  This year we all had fun contributing, especially Courtney since she enjoyed eating the frosting.  We are very proud of how our first ginger bread house turned out and Courtney still talks about the icing.  Enjoy!

Getting started


"Come on Mommy and fix the house."




Courtney was more interested in the icing than decorating the ginger bread house


The finished product



Didn't it turn out cute?!?!?!