life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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.



What and who are you thankful for this holiday season?

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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

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

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The Dayne & Lisa Cooking Show.

I mentioned in a previous post that I got a new cookbook (EatingWell on a Budget) from my brother for Christmas, and I made my first meal from that when Molly & Doug came over for dinner (crispy chicken tostadas).  I also used a Christmas exchange or a gift card from Chad (it’s all a blur) to buy a Campbell’s Best-Loved Recipes cookbook recently.  So Dayne and I have been diving into new recipes together!  The funny part of it is that Dayne never really cooked before or showed an interest in cooking, but lately he’s been taking on more and more responsibility in the kitchen as we prepare the meals!  It’s been fun for us; it’s almost like taking a cooking class, but free and without a teacher 😛

Last weekend we made Stuffing-Topped Chicken from Eating Well on a Budget.  Turns out the “budget” part isn’t necessarily true unless you’re feeding a family of four or you’re really good at eating leftovers.  This was probably the most difficult recipe I’ve ever followed, and our least favorite part (which Dayne did most of) was trimming the fat off the chicken thighs.  I’d much rather use chicken breasts, but I’m not sure how that would turn out.  Here are a couple of pictures — it LOOKS disgusting, but it was delicious.  The best decision we made was omitting mushrooms and substituting extra onion; the celery and whole wheat bread really added to the taste.

p.s. This was also my first time using the broiler, and for a brief second my oven mitt burst into flames when I went in to get the chicken.  That was exciting.

Then this past Saturday night, we discovered a little gem in the Campbell’s cookbook: Sausage-Stuffed Green Peppers.  Yum!  Dayne has become designated Raw-Meat-Handler, so he got the job of removing the casings from the sausages.  Again, this wasn’t the cheapest dinner to make unless you’re feeding a family of four, and this is not a good “leftovers” meal (I’m still recovering from eating it for lunch today).  It was super-easy, though, and the presentation is pretty.  It’s basically sweet Italian sausage, oregano, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and, obviously, green pepper.  I liked this one a lot; however, Dayne was a bit disappointed with the taste & consistency of the green pepper after it baked in the oven for 40 minutes.

Unfortunately I don’t have any “after” pictures.  But hopefully I’ll have more to come as we try more new recipes!  It’s fun to develop a new hobby together 🙂  And I really should try making some of the more difficult recipes in the cookbooks I already have, so maybe those posts will come soon…

What’s your favorite recipe?