I'll be spending the day with John's family and then we're leaving tomorrow morning to go to Ft. Worth to be with my family. No black Friday shopping for us! Hope everyone has a great day and I'll be back Monday!
I was THAT person and decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving even arrived... I just couldn't control the urges anymore and I decorated over the weekend! This was the first year I truly decorated. I didn't even have my first tree until 2 years ago in my apartment and last year moved that tree to John's house. Now it's our house and even though it's still the same tree, I changed our "theme." I used red, lime green and silver for our tree and tried to stick with that theme through the house too. Here are some pictures of all of our decorations!
I loved this buttom picture frame and it was perfect for our NYC Christmas picture from last year!
End table in the living room
Tree candle holder, Texas Tech snowman, and reindeer from the Nutcracker Market on the speaker next to the TV.
Center piece for the coffee table
The book shelf right when you walk in the door.
We have no fireplace/mantle so I had to make do with our stockings. I still need to get our stockings monogrammed. And aren't those cat stockings the cutest??
Up close pictures of the tree...
I bought all of the ornaments at Garden Ridge, Kohls and Target (except the few I got at the Nutcracker Market.) I bought the ribbon I used as garland and to make the green bows at Garden Ridge as well. I also found that a very easy and cheap way to decorate for Christmas is to fill up glass jars you already have with the ball ornaments. I bought big boxes of the ornaments in my color scheme and used them to fill up 3 glass jars I already had (the one on the coffee table, the large apothecary jar and the jar where the stockings are all in pictures above.) John and I will be in and out of town through December so I'm glad I got my decorations up early so I can enjoy them as long as possible! Now, let's just hope my tree remains standing through the new year and no cats decide to climb it! :)
John and I wanted to make beef tips for dinner one night so we started looking for good recipes for the slow cooker. We don't like mushrooms and most recipes called for actual mushrooms or cream of mushroom soup. We mixed a couple of different recipes that we found and came up with this... Ingredients: 1-2 lbs of beef tips 1 can of french onion soup 1 can of cream of celery soup 1/2 can of beef broth (you can use the whole can if you want a little extra gravy at the end) egg noodles
Directions: Put the beef tips and all the soups in the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. When it's ready cook the egg noodles as usual and serve.
This is one of mine and John's favorite meals now! The meat turns out so tender and it's EASY!
I talked here about how John and I made some sugar/cinnamon almonds on Halloween in the crock pot and I forgot I never wrote a post on it. He got the idea and recipe from this blog and decided to make them. We first had these type of almonds from a street vendor in NYC and have gradually started seeing them places like in the mall. These ones we made at home were just as good (maybe better) and will something good for holiday get togethers!
1 1/2 cups sugar (try not to freak out on me)
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups whole raw almonds
aluminum foil or parchment paper
Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Spray the stoneware well with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set this bowl aside.
In a larger mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla extract. Pour the almonds into this bowl and stir well to coat. Add your cinnamon mixture to the top of the nuts and toss with spoons to fully coat (too many nuts to do the plastic bag toss---you'd have to do batches).
Put the almonds into the slow cooker and cover. Cook on high for 2 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes or so to keep the almonds on the side of the crock from getting too crispy.
When the nuts are all hot and toasty, let them cool fully on a length of foil or parchment paper. When fully cool, store in an air-tight container.
Well, I've talked about our love for Costco in multiple blog posts, but this weeks trip was just icing on the cake! We went in for our "regulars" and came out with way too much. We usually go there for our Coke Zeros, cat litter, bottled water, steaks, and snacks. Well this week I came out with a new jacket, a new pair of sweat pants, a shirt, and plenty of other stuff we really didn't need to buy in bulk. Really, who needs 400 paper plates or 16 rolls of paper towels? You just can't pass it up when you know it's a good deal though! Haha I don't have any pictures but I picked up a new Michael Kors RED peacoat for $49.99, a pair of DKNY sweat pants for $19.99 and a super cute thermal long sleeve tee with the infamous ruffles on the chest for $14.99. John got an adidas pull over as well.
(Mine looks very similar to this Michael Kors one seen on Overstock.com)
And Christmas stuff! I will be going back once I put my Christmas stuff up at the house. I didn't want to over do it today because I wasn't exactly sure what all I needed , but they have everything! Wrapping paper, gift boxes and gift sets, ornaments, wreaths, decorations, great gifts, and etc etc etc, I could go on and on! 400 sheets of tissue paper for $5. Yes please! So, if any of you live near a Costco, you should check it out! The membership is only $50 for the year and I really think it's worth it. You can take a tour of it before you decide too. It has been well worth it for us!
A lot of people were asking about the cake balls I made last weekend so I decided to do a post on it. I am no expert on making cake balls. In fact, I really don't like anything about making them except the fun part of eating them afterwards. :-P but, when John's mom asked me to make them for a jewelry party she was having, of course I said yes! This time around I decided to make strawberry cake balls with strawberry icing and vanilla almond bark and rainbow chip cake with rainbow chip vanilla icing with vanilla almond bark. First you just bake the cake according to the box directions. Once the cake is baked, you let it cool enough for you to crumble it up and mix the coordinating icing in it. I like to do this when the cake is still warm so the icing melts easier. After it's crumbled, the best thing to do is put it in the refrigerator and let it cool because the balls roll out easier when cool. After it's cooled, you roll out balls of the cake batter/icing mix. I like to cool them again after they are rolled. The cooler they are the better they stay together when you dip them in the bark. I used just plain HEB brand vanilla almond bark and melted a little at a time in the microwave to dip the balls. This is the hardest part for me and I have not perfected it. I use a spoon and drown them in the bark and pull them out and plop them on a pan. Yup those are my awesome culinary skills! :) I've heard of some people using sticks to dip them and serving like lollipops and some people using forks and some people using an egg separator thing. Those things didn't work for me.
As you can see, mine don't turn out very pretty. I added pink sprinkles to my strawberry ones to differentiate the 2 flavors. That covered up some of the imperfections! No matter what they look like, they always taste oh-so-good! I was so glad that they all got eaten at the party, because taking them home would not have been good for me and John!
So, I've lived in Houston for 5 years and have heard about the Nutcracker Market over and over again and I honestly thought they sold a bunch of nutcrackers out of Reliant Center. After seeing what Sarah picked up out there, I realized I HAD to go. Sunday John was an amazingly good sport while I drug him out to to Reliant Park for 4 hours of non stop Christmas shopping! Here are some things I picked up...
Kitty cat ornaments
A metal cat stand I plan on sitting next to our TV stand
A metal reindeer (I picked up 3 of these)
A Texas Tech snow man (Cotton is checking him out...)
our stockings! I need to get them monogrammed
And more ornaments (these are really sparkly!)
My favorite purchase of the day!
I picked up another ornament from this same vendor for my mom which is super cute but I don't want to ruin the surprise in case she is reading this ;)
If you are in Houston, you have to check out the Nutcracker Market. I could have spent the whole day in there and spent ALOT more money in there, but luckily I had a boy with me that controlled my spending a little bit! :)
Today I'm linking up with Taylor for Top 2 Tuesday!
My top 2 favorite jobs...
Ok, I don't think I have truly ever loved "working" but these 2 jobs I had did make working a whole lot easier!
1. A nanny - I was a nanny for 2 precious little boys, Doger and Cooper, from 2003-2005 when I left for nursing school. They were 3 and 5 when I started watching them and they were such good little boys. It started with me just watching them a few days a week during the summer and then once school started back up I picked them up from school 3 days a week. I would watch them on the weekends some too. Mom and dad paid me well and they were awesome about me taking them places like Chick-fill-a for dinner or my house to swim in the summer. (I can't believe I don't have any pictures of them!)
2. The YMCA - I started working at YMCA at the front desk when I was 17. I stayed there until I was 21 and moved to Houston. I worked at 3 different YMCA's during that time but worked the front desk at all 3. Pay wasn't great, but it was easy and I got to study and do homework during the slow times. I worked this job in the evenings after I was done watching the boys and on the weekends.
Hmmm, it's really funny that my 2 favorite jobs were the ones that had nothing to do with my career... Interesting!
I went in to Bath and Body Works last weekend just to pick up some new body wash (I love their Christmas scents!) I started smelling the candles and noticed they had a huge sale going on their fall decorative candles. I picked up these fall candles at 50%. Even when the candle on the inside is burned out, I can continue to use them with my fall decorations.
They also had their small candles on sale for $5 so I picked up 2 of those as well. And when my mom came to visit this weekend, look what she happened to bring me...
More candles as a Happy Halloween/Late Birthday present!
These candles smell amazing in the house and put off a much stronger scent than any other candle I've ever lit in my house. I guess you really do get what you pay for! The large candles run about $20, but I really do think that they are worth it after burning these smaller ones. If you've never gotten one of these candles, go do it, now! :)
Saturday morning my mom and her husband came to Houston for a visit! We spent the day visiting and Tim helped us with some house issues that we needed fixed. Saturday night was senior night for John's sister at her highschool football game. She's in the band and all the seniors in band got to walk through their big Cougar Head. She was so excited!
Katie and John's parents coming out of the cougar head! Katie has on the big green hat
I thought this was very creative for a Halloween game!
Self Portraits during the game... My mom is in cosmetology school and she did my hair for me Saturday. I wish I could make it look that good every day!
After halftime, we took my mom and Tim to Yardhouse in City Centre since that's something they can't get in Ft. Worth. John's parents met us there and it was great to get to have dinner with both families! :)
Waiting for our table at Yardhouse
The weather was absolutely amazing on Saturday! I got to wear some of my new fall clothes I had been anxiously awaiting to pull out of my closet finally!
Sunday was a pretty uneventful Halloween for us. Neither one of us are in to dressing up or really celebrating so we spent the day watching football, buying groceries, cooking homemade pizza for dinner and making some sugar/cinnamon almonds in the crock pot. (A post to come on those later!) We had a few trick or treaters, but not near enough to get rid of all of our candy. I think we're going to have to take it to work or throw it away so we don't keep eating it!
And please keep John and his family in your thoughts/prayers this week. Their 12 year old poodle, Bailey, passed away this weekend. He was a big part of their family.