Thanksgiving Weekend

For Thanksgiving this year, we headed to Iowa. We have to split our holidays now between Wichita and Fairfield, so this year it was Thanksgiving in Iowa, Christmas in Wichita. We headed north on Wednesday, which also happened to be my dad's birthday! We helped him celebrate with tacos and a cake.  I ordered the cake from my wedding cake baker.  Her cakes are THE BEST and she does such a great job at decorating!  Here's a picture--so perfect for my dad!

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom's side on Thursday, the other with my dad's on Friday evening.  Good food and games with the fam always equals a good time!  The temperature was almost 15 degrees colder in Iowa!  Good thing Kinnick had his cute, little, winter coat! 

We braved the crowds on "Black Friday" and headed to Iowa City with my mom to do a little Christmas shopping.  Craig and I had great luck and even treated ourselves to an early Christmas present--a new, 50-inch tv for our living room!  It was a doorbuster special at Best Buy and we bought it at 3:00 in the afternoon!  (See people, there's no reason to get up at 4a.m. to go shopping!)

We headed back to KC on Saturday, after the embarrassment that was the Iowa game.  What a disappointing season.  I guess I should be glad it's over.  Win or lose, I'll always be a proud hawk fan.  There's always next year!

Sunday consisted of a trip to Nebraska Furniture Mart to find a tv stand for our new tv.  Now that we have a big HD-tv in our living room, we'll hopefully hang out up here more often!  Here are a few pics!
Tomorrow means back to school.  It's always depressing after a holiday break, but easier knowing there's only 3 weeks left before our 2-week long Christmas vacation!!  Bring on the finals!  Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

My Favorite Things

Oprah does it, so why can't I?  Here are some of my favorite things, in no particular order!  Most revolve around food...what can I say, I like to eat!

Starbucks Via - I got suckered into buying this about a month ago during my weekly trip to Starbucks.  There were having a deal - buy a package of Via for $6-something and get a free grande drink!  Of course I'm not going to turn that offer down, when I pay $4 for my drink anyway.  Via is a ready-brew, flavored coffee you simply add to hot water.  I bought the normal drink of choice is a caramel macchiato and it was a great substitute for that!  Super easy and tasty!
Green Giant Steams-in-the-Bag Veggies - I am so non-creative when it comes to side dishes.  We usually have mashed potatoes or Suddenly Salad...both of which get old fast.  I found these in the produce isle next to the bag salad.  You put them in the microwave for two minutes (in the bag!) and they're done!  So easy, SO good!  We especially love the garlic green beans.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control - I love this facewash!  It leaves my face feeling very tingly, refreshed, and clean.  It is also a great exfoliator. 
White Fudge Oreos - One of my favorite things about the holidays!  I love, love, love these!  We've already gone through two boxes this year!!  I'm not even a huge Oreo fan, but something about an oreo covered in white fudge is really good.  I think I've even gotten Craig hooked...  Get them soon - they're only around for the holidays!

Babybel Cheese - I take my lunch to school every day.  (22 minutes just isn't enough to walk to the lunchroom, go through the lunch line, eat, and return the tray.)  These little chunks of cheese are an excellent addition to my lunch!

Tyson White Chicken Salad Lunch Kit - This is a great substitute to the same old, same old PB&J for lunch every day!  The kit comes with chicken, relish, mayo, and crackers.  It's even better if you add dried cranberries. =)  The tuna lunch kits are pretty great, too!
Laughing Cow Cheese - Another good additon to my lunch.  I switch back and forth between Babybel and Laughing Cow (which are actually made by the same company).  These come in little wedges (about 10 per pack) and make for a great cracker spread!  I prefer the Swiss and like it on the generic brand of triscuits. 
Monogrammed Lunch Tote - I gave these cute, monogrammed lunch totes to my bridesmaids, so of course I had to order one for myself too!  You can customize them in almost every color and font.  They are lined with foil-insulation.  I've gotten a lot of compliments on it and it makes carrying my lunch to school way more fun.  Order from for only $15.95 plus shipping.
Social Suppers - I am very lucky...I have a husband that does SO MUCH around our house.  He cleans, remodels, takes out the trash, and does most of the laundry and yardwork.  The least I can do is make dinner.  I'd be lying if I said I love doing it every night.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cooking very much...I just hate having to decide what to eat every single night of the week.  Luckily, some friends introduced me to Social Suppers.  Social Suppers is a local KC business that allows you to prepare meals to take home and freeze.  When you're ready to eat them, you thaw, bake, and serve.  So easy!  They offer full-sized meals that feed 4 to 6 or half-size meals that feed 2 to 3 people.  They change their menu every month so it never gets old!  Yes, it may be slightly more expensive than purchasing the ingredients on your own, but they also offer meals I would never think of creating from scratch.  And it seems when I make a full pan of something from scratch, we end up throwing half of it out because we get sick of eating the leftovers.  This is such a time saver, especially on the nights I'm at dance practice until 6:30.  

Starbucks Oatmeal  - I don't get it often, because it's not the cheapest of breakfasts.  But on occasion, or when we're out of breakfast food at home, I'll spluge.  I'm not sure why, but it tastes so much better than when I make oatmeal at home (I've tried instand AND real oats).  I think it's the package of dried fruit and nuts they give you.  Yum!
Uggs - If you don't have a pair of Uggs, I highly recommend them.  They are so comfortable and so warm!!  They look great with jeans, sweatpants, skirts, dresses, leggings, everything!  I bought a my first pair two years ago and still wear them every day!  Yes they are expensive, but SO WORTH IT!  I'm hoping for a second (knit) pair for Christmas. =)

Tis the Season

This weekend was a busy one!  Saturday morning I headed to school at 6:00 a.m. for our annual Cheer & Dance Festival (a competition we host every November).  Despite the earlier-than-normal start to the day, it was a HUGE success.  The Silver Stars performed a total of four team routines and got Division I ratings on three of the four.  In addition, we got the award for "Best Technique" which is pretty big!  The girls bring solos, duets, and small ensembles to compete with as well...many Division I ratings there too!  I recorded our team routines, but of course can't get them to upload.  I'll keep trying!

Saturday night I decided we needed to take a picture for our Christmas cards.  Quite the challenge to set the timer AND get a dog to look at the camera when the picture snaps.  I think we took about 20 total, and ended up with a few good shots.  Here are a few of the "bloopers". =)

 Whatcha doing Daddy?
 Maybe Mommy wants some kisses.

 Wait-what's that over there?
 I see a bone they're trying to bribe me with.  Yum yum!
 Oh fine, I guess I'll look at the camera.

We also decided it was time to put our Christmas tree up!  Like I said before, we both LOVE Christmastime!  Yes, we realize that it's not yet Thanksgiving...but why go to all the work of decorating, only to take it down less than four weeks later?!  After digging our old tree out of the basement, we decided to splurge on a new one.  Last year, we used a hand-me-down from Craig's mom--which was great--but this year we wanted one a little nicer.  We found a great, $250, 7.5 foot tree at Target...and even got it on sale for $175...not too shabby!  We had a lot of fun decorating Saturday night while listening to some Christmas tunes and drinking a bottle of wine.

 Me in the Christmas tree box.

 Finished product!
  Stockings are hung!

Feels Like Winter

Maybe it was the dreary, cloudy day.  Maybe it was the fact that I wore a coat for only the second time this year.  Maybe it's the snowflakes that are hung along the light posts on Shawnee-Mission Parkway, or the fact that it's dark by 5:30!  Whatever it is, it feels like winter!!  Ready or not, it's headed this way.  I think they're even talking snowflakes on Monday!  Though I despise cold weather,  I can deal with it for awhile.  It definitely adds to the whole "Holiday Spirit".  I'm ready for the holidays, ready to Christmas shop, and definitely ready for SNOW DAYS!!  Such a great time of the year!

Here are a couple of fun videos!  These crack me up EVERY year!  The holiday season is not complete until you Elf Yourself!

Video #1
Video #2

Goodbye Halloween, Hello Christmas!

It's official--all of our Halloween decorations are down, which means one thing...the Christmas decorations are coming up!  I LOVE Christmas season!  It's true--I've already been listening to Christmas music for an entire week and got really excited when Starbucks switched to their holiday cups last week.  Tonight at 8:30, we were bored and decided to put our first tree up!  (I'm lucky to have a husband who enjoys the Christmas season as much as I do!)  It's not our "main" tree; rather it's a smaller, sports-themed tree for our basement.  Still a Christmas tree though complete with Iowa and KU lights! 

In other news, our main-floor bathroom is coming along well!  Craig got the tiling done this weekend and we ordered a vanity towards the end of last week.  Here's a picture of what it will look like, except we're getting a vessel sink for it and the counter top will be different.  We're hoping it's here soon!

Creole Corn Chowder

I got this recipe from a co-worker and tried it for the first time last night.  We loved it!!  At the top, it reads, "Some recipes are passed down through family, but some are passed through good friends."  Perfect for posting here!

1 cup finely diced bacon (I used one package; turkey bacon as a healthier option)
1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 cup finely diced ham
2 cups corn
1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato juice (I used Bloody Mary mix - it's all we had!)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup milk
1/8 cup flour
1/8 cup oil (I used olive oil)
1 cup cream (I used half & half)

Saute bacon in large pan until crisp.  (I cut it into small pieces before frying.)  Add onion and bell peppers; cook until limp.  Add ham, corn, tomatoes, tomato juice, and seasonings.  Simmer 30 minutes.  Bring milk to boil in saucepan.  Make a roux with the flour and oil in another saucepan.  Add roux to corn mixture and mix well.  Add milk.  Simmer 15 to 20 minutes.  (I did not simmer this long - I'm too impatient!)  When ready to serve, add cream (or half & half) and cook until hot.  Serves 5 to 6 people...AND makes for great leftovers!

Note: I had to add lots more milk and half & half because I wanted mine more "soupy".  It's pretty chunky otherwise.  Enjoy! =)
Sauteing the bacon, onion, and peppers
After adding the corn, ham, tomatoes, and tomato juice
Finished product - DELISH!