life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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Post-Thanksgiving Pajama Day.

That’s what I have deemed today. It’s Sunday – Dayne’s and my fourth consecutive day off from work – and the first day in a loooooooong time that we don’t have any reason to leave the house. It’s a balmy 60°F, so our windows are open, I’ve got the slow-cooker rockin’, and there’s some gingerbread cookie dough in the refrigerator waiting to be baked.

The gingerbread cookie dough I made this morning, mixed by my AWESOME FANTASTIC brand new KitchenAid 6-speed hand mixer - courtesy of one Miss Erica Jones!

Our Crockpot (that I've been afraid of using for over 3 months) working hard making its first ever dinner entrée: apricot-glazed pork tenderloin -- thanks Doug & Molly!

We are all decorated for Christmas! I have a habit of deeming things “family traditions” since we got married – starting with apple picking & baking, then pumpkin carving, and now Black Friday Christmas-Tree-Getting and Decorating Extravaganza. Dayne loves it, in case you’re wondering.

We’ve got our Christmas tree and brand-new Willow Tree nativity scene (thanks John & Marcia!):

Our gingerbread house (completed yesterday):

Our reindeer bowl (credit to Maribeth & Jason from Christmas 2010!) and our tealight church (along with a ga-ba-zillion holiday candles spread everywhere throughout our living space):

Our mini JOY nativity that I found at Hallmark last Christmas, along with two light-up glittery Christmas trees (also compliments of Maribeth & Jason Christmas 2010):

Our dining room is also Christmas-ified:

And of course I’ve got our front door & outdoor ledge decorated, too:

And who can forget Christmas stockings?! We don’t have a mantle but I tried to be creative:

The star in the middle was a homemade Christmas gift from my mother-in-law last Christmas. It's made of sheet music!

And one of my favorite touches… our first Christmas ornament:

This week, I plan on spreading my unending Christmas cheer to my desk at work. Dayne’s happy I have somewhere to take all the decorations that didn’t quite fit in our apartment.

I’m just delighted and thankful to be with Dayne at the very start of this amazing adventure of establishing our own family. Dayne’s not much of a traditionalist, but I have some very warm memories revolving around the holidays with my family, and I can’t wait to create our own memories between the two of us and with our children in the future.

I’m thankful for all the things I do & don’t take for granted on any given day. I’m thankful that Dayne & I had three delicious Thanksgiving meals lovingly prepared for us by our families this year, and we have more food & fellowship to look forward to at Christmastime. I’m thankful that my family was able to throw a surprise 90th birthday party for my beautiful great-aunt Louise last weekend, and for all that it taught me about not being afraid of aging:

Who has time for fear when you're having this much fun?

On this Post-Thanksgiving Pajama Day, I’m thankful for life and God and love and meaning. I’m thankful that when things are hard, at least it’s never boring – and when things are great, it’s preparing you for when things are hard. I’m thankful to be in a great place in my life, even with its inherent difficulties and learning experiences.

I’m thankful that when I’m stressed, Dayne tells me to just take one thing at a time. And when I’m in Christmas cheer mode, Dayne just lets me do what I want to do 🙂 And even though he wasn’t much for decorating, I’m thankful Dayne enjoyed hiking around for a Christmas tree with me, sawing it down, dragging it, strapping it to our Rav4’s roof, and driving it home.

Victorious.

Love.

What and who are you thankful for this holiday season?

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What to do with leftover apples?

MAKE MORE APPLE STUFF!

Last year, when we were still only dating, Dayne and I apple-picked our faces off and came home with waaaaay too many apples — and ambitious as I was (trying to impress Dayne, I guess), I started baking straight-away and made apple pie, apple crisp, and applesauce. All in one day. We forced everyone who came over to my apartment that week to eat our apple baked goods. I believe we still threw away an entire bag of apples at the end of Apple Week 2010, and vowed to never eat apples again.

This year, we completely forgot the horrific experience and headed straight back to Highland Orchards to do it all over again. What can we say? We’re stupid.

This time, as you’ll recall, it was too crowded to actually go out into the fields, so we apple-picked a little basket of Jonagolds (our favorite from last year) straight from the bin:

I actually made Dayne put an apple back and act like he was "picking" an apple for this shot. I'm a fun wife.

I let the apples sit for a few days before I got around to making apple crisp. It was delicious, but it was not enough to absorb our Apple Collection of 2011.

This is the only photo I got of our apple crisp. It didn't last long on a plate.

So while I was busy enjoying my sinus infection, I realized I had to do something with the rest of the apples that kept glaring at me from the corner of our kitchen counter. I thought about making applesauce, but we would never eat it – we’ve got two half-eaten jars of Musselman’s and Mott’s or whatever they are in the fridge.

So I posted on facebook asking what to do with the leftover apples (facebook comments are where I get all my good ideas) and my wedding coordinator, of all people, responded that I should look for a chicken and sauteéd apples recipe online. I found one from Real Simple and got to work. It surprisingly didn’t require anything special – just chicken breasts, onion, apple, garlic, thyme, apple cider, and dijon mustard – all of which I had “in-house”, which is always a plus when you’re running a fever.

I honestly did not expect this to be good. But I was desperate.

You just let it simmer together into this gross-looking mess.

It looks like vomit. This is the un-prettiest picture.

Automatic 10 point bonus if the husband likes it!

Unfortunately, the broccoli was awful, but the chicken was fantastic!

It was delicious! And easy. So delicious and easy, in fact, that I added it to our roster (yes, I have an Excel spreadsheet of dinner options that I use to meal plan).

Today, I still had two apples leftover. Then I found this little gem at the grocery store:

That's right! It's WHOLE WHEAT pancake mix.

My husband can tell you that I will go for anything that says “whole wheat” or “whole grain”. It’s healthy!

Would you believe that on the back of that box, there was a recipe for apple muffins?! Soooo, guess what I made?

They’re sooooo yummy. They taste more like cinnamon than apple, so they’re not too overwhelming after a week of apple crisp followed by apple chicken two nights in a row.

Now, I have 1 apple left… I think that bugger might be going in the trash.


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Our Firsts, Part 1.

For us, this season is a season of firsts. Our first apartment. Our first autumn as a married couple. Our first weekend getaway (see previous entry about our trip to the Poconos). Our first time cooking with butternut squash. Dayne’s first pair of glasses. Our first family traditions: apple picking & baking, pumpkin carving & seed roasting, and more to come with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas on the way. And if the next ten days go well, we will be moving into our first house before winter.

It’s very, very exciting to be jumping into and experiencing all these things together. Being in this season of life with Dayne makes me incredibly happy; it feels like we’re constantly looking up and forward. I love that – it keeps life intriguing!

That being said, I’m also learning to slow down and appreciate life’s tiny moments. If you know me personally, you know that I don’t really slow down; I am quite possibly one of the most impatient people on the face of this earth. BUT it’s something I have to learn!

Here are some pictures from our first family apple picking & pumpkin carving this past weekend!

^^Dayne picking apples from the bin. It was
way too crowded to go out into the fields
because the weather was so perfect, so we
just bought a basket of apples. No shame
here!

A basket of Janagolds – perfect for apple
crisp & applesauce! Coming soon 🙂