Sunday, November 28, 2010

it's the most wonderful time of the year!

This past week of vacation has been exactly what I wanted it to be.  Prior to Thanksgiving festivities, I lounged around the house, cleaned up, decorated for Christmas, cleaned up some more, tackled laundry, washed my car, and quite frankly, was pretty lazy!  This, coming from a girl who very rarely just sits around and watches television.  As I finished decorating each room, I also cleaned each room from top to bottom.  I love knowing that my house is clean & decorated :) and yes, I am slightly OCD.  There is just something about having a decorated house to keep me focused on the real reason of the season.  Some of your decorations make my house look pitiful, but I will still give you a glimpse of what I have done..

Ever since I graduated in 2006, I get the newest NCSU Christmas ornament as a gift from my mom.  They are all glass and fairly heavy, so I thought I would just place them in my guest bedroom this year with this amazing canvas I have.  I found the canvas for a steal of $5 at a local boutique last year, and have kept it propped up ever since.  I really didn't need it but I couldn't pass it up for such a good deal.  I always look forward to the new ornament, and can't wait to see the one for 2010.

This Nativity set is very special to me, as it came all the way from Israel!  Not to mention that it is beautiful, and was hand-made.  My mom went to the Holy Land in April of this year, and brought back all kinds of goodies, including this.

This Christmas Dish is one thing I couldn't pass up when I saw it a few weeks ago.  I love the way it defines Christmas!

These Christmas flutes were a gift and I usually place them on my red buffet.

I splurged and ordered personalized gift labels from and I think this is what I am most excited about when giving gifts this year!!

And finally, THE TREE...

These past 10 days away from work have flown by.  I am hoping this full work week will go smooth, and maybe I will still be able to keep this blog updated for all of you!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving with The Andrews'

I have been looking forward to my nap for over 4 hours now, but before I lay down on my nice, comfy, leather couch, I figured I would surprise a few people and do a post from today.  I have so many blessings to be thankful for, it would be impossible for me to name them all.  One thing in particular, is Joseph's family.  They are amazing, funny, kind, faithful, loving, energetic, hard-working, generous, loyal, and did I mention funny?  Since I am an only child, I never had fun family memories so I always enjoy getting together with his family since he is one of three children.  His sister, Ashley, aka, The Heath Bunch, and I have become best of friends, and I truly cherish the connection that she and I have.  Not trying to get sappy here, sorry!  Ever since Ashley got a Canon Rebel for her birthday in September, we act like professional photographers trying to capture every moment that happens.  I swear those cameras can be addicting.  Joseph really does act like a professional when he has it, and I must say, he captured some pretty good pictures today.  As I am typing, my eyelids are getting heavy, so I'll leave this post short but with lots of pictures from the first half of my day.

Upon arrival

Beautiful mama & daughter

 A little wine will do the trick.

Grandmother & Mallory doing some learning!

How cute is this little nugget!?  Their cousin, Ingrid, and her son, Dawson, joined us for dinner & he was such a happy camper.

Poor Jason, he has been working nights for almost 2 months and he supposedly was having a hard time staying awake today.  Magically, he managed to wake up when the food was ready!

 Joseph thinks he is strong or something.  He broke his mom's rib when he pulled this trick in high school.  No, really, he did!  Ashley is scared. 

Let me introduce you to Miss Mallory Grace!  I could eat her up with a spoon.  She is the highlight of my life.  I love her beautiful self to pieces!

Aeromatics inside the turkey cavity...

Joseph thought he was Alton Brown off the food network, his inspiration for today's delicious bird.

My mom joined us today and it warmed my soul.  They didn't have to invite her, but they did.  And I love them so much more for that.

Just goofing off with the turkey's neck...and Mrs. Emily's!!
Ashley & I posing with the table full of goodness we slaved over..

Meanwhile, these guys claim to be the cooks...
I think the pictures above give you a good idea of all the wonderful food we had, only to be followed with numerous desserts.  My dessert of choice was this pretty dish below, Mrs. Emily's Cran-Apple Crunch & it was great!

As if that wasn't enough food and fellowship for one person, we still had to visit my step-dad's family this afternoon.  Joseph was like a grizzly bear trying to wake him from his nap at his parents, but we finally arrived to my grandma's after everyone had eaten.  I did not mind because honestly, I was miserable from eating so much the first time.  We were able to visit with everyone and still managed to eat a slice of my aunt's delicious 12 layer chocolate cake, and her carrot cake.  Our duties are over now and it's time to relax.  Writing about my day has made me even more tired, so I'm going to rest my eyes now  :)  My Christmas Tree is lit up, football is on tv, Joseph is on one couch, and I'm on the other.  This is my favorite part of Thanksgiving!!

I hope you & yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving day.  In everything you do, give Thanks!

Monday, November 22, 2010

green bean casserole

Since Thanksgiving is this week, I wanted to share one of my absolute favorite recipes with you.  Granted, you may hear me talk about a lot of 'favorites' regarding food, but there is no denying the fact that I love food, love cooking, and love eating!  This is a recipe that has been passed down in my mom's family for years, and I've never had a green bean casserole that tasted so good.  Ours is simply cheesy goodness, and will put yours (made with only cream of mushroom soup) to shame.  No offense, but if you ever try this one, I think you will agree!

Smith Family Green Bean Casserole

2 cans green beans, drained
1 can cream of mushroom
1 8 oz cream cheese
1 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 large can of french onions

Mix all of the ingredients together, leaving about half of the french onions for topping.  Place in casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Place the rest of the french onions on as a topping, and bake again for about 10 minutes, "or until golden brown".  Don't you just love that saying on 95% of all recipes  :)  Anytime I've ever introduced this dish to people outside of my family, they have always asked for the recipe.  In fact, it's on my mind today because Traci asked for it earlier.  If you decide to try it, I don't think any of you will be disappointed, unless you're counting calories.  But, who does that at Thanksgiving anyway??

Believe it or not, we did not have this dish yesterday with my mom's family.  I never complained about missing it, because the rest of the food made up for it.  BUT, have no fear, Joseph's family has so graciously invited my mom to their Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, and this is what she will be bringing.  I can't wait to get a heaping serving on my plate, and to share the goodness with them!  Me, on the other hand, I will be bringing a Sweet Potato Casserole.  I haven't made that since college, so I hope it will be just as good as I remember!  Happy Baking!

why am i still awake?

I can't even stay awake this late on the weekends, but for some reason I am still wide awake.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I have this whole week off work, and probably nothing to do with the fact I feel like I need to keep adding a new post for all the random facts that pop into my head!

Today, we celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom's family.  When we get together, there are more kids than there are adults.  OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating, but I know the numbers are close either way.  It was such a beautiful day with 70 degree temperatures and the bright sun shining.  After we finished eating, all of the adults sat outside watching the kids play, riding bikes, drawing on the sidewalk, throwing the football, and snacking some more.  My mom's family is loud.  My mom's family likes to bring bourbon slushies to family functions.  My mom's family can cook good.  Yes, what you're thinking is right, the adults sat and drank bourbon slushies and telling stories, while the kids ran around all over the place.  I wouldn't trade it any other way.  Family is so important to me, and I treasure the few times that we can all get together.  For the most part, we all live in Eastern NC, with the exception of 5 others in Florida.  However, for years, we have always gotten together the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday before Christmas.  It has been that way ever since I can remember.  It makes it easy, so we always know what to plan for, and it doesn't interrupt our plans for the actual holiday later during the week.  This is everyone minus our Florida family!

Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday.  It may have something to do with the fact that I love to eat, but I truly enjoy when everyone gets together for food and fellowship.  It's not about gifts and who got the best present, but it's about being thankful for the life we live and enjoying each other's company.  To me, Thanksgiving is the time to think about what God has given us, and how we can help others in the Christmas season that is quickly approaching.  I always enjoy making my gift lists for loved ones and finding the perfect gift to give.  Speaking of.....ahem!  If you are reading this & think you may be on my Christmas list, now is the time to give me some of your wishlist items.  I just might get started on my Christmas shopping tomorrow, but only if I know what you want  :)


practice makes perfect, so they say

When Joseph called earlier to tell me goodnight and I told him that I had just published my first blog post, he of course asked me what it was about.  I just laughed.  I honestly never answered because I think it's pretty bland at this point & I'm sure he, like most of you, will think I'm crazy.  Oh well, I look forward to the day I wake up and my blog is complete with a nice layout, good pictures, and witty, funny posts; but until then, I will just keep you up to date about what I've been doing.

Summer is by far my favorite season, but my favorite part of fall is football.  Even though I was a cheerleader for 4 years, I never understood football until I attended my first game at NCSU.  I went to as many home games I could get tickets to during my 6 years in Raleigh.  Obviously, I went to a lot while I was a student, but since graduation and moving back to Kinston, the chances are slim that I can get tickets or that I don't already have plans on a gameday.  This year, I've been able to get tickets to both the NCSU @ ECU game and the NCSU @ UNC games this year.  Even though the Pirates sent the Pack back home with a tough loss, the Pack pulled it off this past Saturday at UNC, and both games were so much fun!  I labsolutely love being there in person because, let's face it, if I have to watch it on television, I will start cleaning up the house, or end up going shopping.  If you want me to watch a sport, you better make sure I am physically there to see it in person!!  Of course, I believe that no tailgating compares to Wolfpack Tailgating at Carter Finley, but I always enjoy the good memories that are made during those beautiful Saturdays in the fall, no matter where the game is.  It's usually a rare occasion that my two bestest friends from college (Laura Helen & Traci) and I can get together, but we were blessed to all go to the ECU game together.  There is never a dull moment with us three, despite our loss that day!

Obviously, the second picture is a few years old but these pictures are so similar I just couldn't resist not posting both.  The second picture is from a sorority function they dragged me to attend after I graduated & was working 'in the real world'.  We met in the fall of 2004 and have been inseparable ever since.  It was also great to run into one of my past roommates, Katie Zawadzki Crews, yesterday at Carolina.  I haven't been able to see her since she got married, and she was able to meet Joseph.  We were quite impressed with her husband's boss' setup, and we had a great time tailgating with Katie & Charlie.  It was so good to see you!!


Joseph was not happy after yesterday's game, since he is a Carolina fan, but we still had a great time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

i can't believe i'm actually doing this.

After two years of stalking some of my close (and not so close) friends' blogs, as well as random strangers, I have caved in and created my own. I really can't believe I'm doing this. I don't know what I will write about because the only people who will be reading this blog will probably already know what I am up to. Or maybe they won't. I'll start with this random thought on how I decided on my starter template for the page. It looked like the view out of a car windshield, and I felt that it was fitting for me at this time in my life! Sad, but true. Being a foster care social worker, I have to visit the kids on my caseload at least once a month, and with 15 kids currently, I am on the road a lot! It is nothing for me to travel for 4 hours of an 8 hour day. Work for me has been busier than I ever thought it could be the past few months. I've done a lot of praying at my desk, and I've held back some tears, because I honestly don't know how people expect one person to do so much. Sometimes the tears fall anyway. I have come up with a great response when friends ask me, "Do you still like what you do?" Recently, I have started answering with, "I love my job and what I do, it's just the management that is stressful." I think this is with any job, but believe me, I AM SO THANKFUL TO HAVE A JOB. The world is such a crazy place, but my fabulous friends and family keep me sane! I will end with just a couple pictures.

"she get it from her mama"

The Heath Bunch, aka, my blogging inspiration!

Hopefully I will be back sooner, rather than later, for more posts on what goes on in my busy life!