Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

This is my favorite Nativity scene in our home. I just love stained glass and the all one piece simplicity of it!

Christmas is just the day after tomorrow! Are you ready to welcome the baby Jesus into your heart and home? Here's an animated explanation of how it may or may not have happened. I'm praying that the birth of a savior doesn't get lost in the shuffle of gifts and cookies and trees this year. May love, peace and joy fill your home this year.
Retooning the Nativity

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Have you met $5 Dinner Mom?

This awesome lady, Erin Chase, even her name is great!, posts recipes on her blog and in her new cookbook that are $5 or less for a family of four. In our house family of four works out to dinner for two plus luch for hubby. I've been reading her blog for about a year and have used several of her recipes and always with good results. I plan on going to meet her at her book signing when she's in San Antonio. It would be great if we could go together! Right now she's giving away 10 copies of her cookbook to people who enter this contest every day for the next 2 weeks. Go an enter. I did and am crossing my fingers that I'm one of the lucky ones! But in case you don't win, you can order a copy here.

An early Little Texas Christmas

We celebrated this weekend! Quite a lot of things actually, a graduation, a wedding, Christmas, and my family being able to spend time together. Brian and I went to Sugar Land this weekend and had a wonderful time. In typical York fashion, we brought the camera but didn't use it much. First because we forgot and then because the battery wasn't charged. Here's how it went.

Friday was an early release day for my kids. I stuck around till about 2:00 entering grades. No one showed me how to use the online grade book to its full potential so I spent quite a lot of time averaging things by hand and by calculator. Teachers had it pretty rough before the advent of computers, huh? Everyone passed except a couple who had to try really really hard to fail. I headed home, loaded up the car and the dogs, some sandwiches and drove into Austin to pick up my love from work. That drive was a little ridiculous because Brian built an Adirondack style love seat for my parents for Christmas. He had already loaded it in the Tahoe before work and tied it in. There was plenty of space for Sandy in the back, but she's kind of a nervous rider and got herself wedged between the bench and the door. There wasn't a whole lot I could do for her while driving along I35 so I mostly tried to reassure here while she whined the whole way and Eddie bounced from the front seat to the back, teasing her, no doubt. Once we picked up the hubs he helped her get situated and we continued on toward Houston. We got there around 8:00 and relaxed for a while and gave my parents the bench (we couldn't exactly hide it all weekend) which they loved. Then we went over to my friend's house for a graduation party for his girlfriend.

This party certainly felt like college throwback to me. Not only because I've been to his house dozens of times and still couldn't remember exactly which one it was (the lights were throwing me off). There were great guy and girlfriends there who I hadn't seen since the wedding and hadn't really hung out with since much longer. One is finally back from Iraq for good. And a couple others have just been really loyal and good friends to me and I haven't always been the best back, neglecting to keep in touch like I should. On top of that, we partied college style, with a keg, jello shots, and beer pong. I thought those days were over for me seeing how most of the parties I've attended recently have guest lists that largely represent the under 1 year set. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves though and got beat at a couple rounds of beer pong.

On Saturday I realized there's a pretty good reason why I don't party like that anymore and spent most of the day running on about 50%. My mom and hubby were compassionate for me though and let me relax and watch movies while they did some shopping, went to lunch and ran errands together. I'm so glad they get along so well. Around the time we had to start getting ready for the wedding I was feeling much better. My whole family got gussied up and we headed to our home parish to attend the wedding of Adam and Melissa. Adam is a long-time friend and the brother of one of my best friends growing up, Elaine. She was house party in my wedding and a bridesmaid in her brothers. Come to find out she and her boyfriend got engaged the day before and we'll be celebrating another wedding next summer. I couldn't be more excited for her. But Saturday night was for her brother and his bride. They were absolutely radiant! The Mass was very special because Fr. Drew (the priest who married Brian and me) knew them so well and had a great message for the couple. The thing I'll remember the most though, is the music. They are both incredibly gifted musically, Adam is a band director, and Melissa is a wonderful singer. Her choir friends, along with two very talented music directors from the church, provided the music for the Mass and it was breathtaking. After the ceremony we headed over the the reception for delicious hors d'oeuvres, cake and Sprite (for me, everyone else had wine and beer). Everyone had a great time! There was tons of dancing and great conversation and we headed home around midnight, very tired.

Since we had already been to Mass, we spent Sunday as a family day. It was long overdue and very fun. Even though I see my parents pretty often, it is almost always way too short, only one night or two, and driven by an agenda or outside goals. That's why it was so nice to have this whole day all to ourselves. We started out with a dog walk. I'm sure we were a sight, four adults and three dogs (including their dog, Maggie) trapsing all over the neighborhood and beyond. After that we cleaned up and went to the movies. I hadn't been to a matinee in a very long time, this one started at 10:20. We saw The Blind Side and absolutely loved it! Brian and I had tried to see it a couple times previously but it was sold out each time. I'm convinced that the only reason it didn't do better with the critics was political reasons. Everyone I know that has seen it enjoyed it so much! My dad is a pretty huge Sandra Bullock fan anyway and about 10 minutes into the movie when she hadn't shown up yet he whispered too loudly, "I thought this was a Sandra Bullock film, where's Sandra?" We laughed. There's really something to be said for going to the movie early. All four of us went for only $20, we easily found great seats and we still had a whole day when we got out! Once we got back home we spent some time outside and enjoyed the incredible weather we were having. I'm very sorry to all of you caught in that awful blizzard. The weather here is delightful and I plan to go outside after I finish this story.

We got our supper started and then opened gifts. Brian and I gave my parents the bench, of course, and also matching travel coffee cups, they're very particular about them. My mom got a Vera Bradley lunch kit that she had asked for and my dad got a leather wallet. Brian and I received 2 place settings of our wedding china, a board game Like Minds, a puzzle that has sailboats on it, and a very hefty check. I also got a pair of jeans and the most beautiful handmade Hungarian table linens and apron I've ever seen with little green flowers embroidered on them and scalloped edge. Brian also got some kakhis that he asked for, some very handsome cologne, a new Guy Harvey t-shirt (I'm going to try to sneak away one of his worn out old ones) and a Jack Russell Terrier calendar. We felt very blessed and very spoiled. I'll make a separate post about how Brian and I will do gifts for each other.

My dad also opened a gift from my Aunt Nancy (she drew his name). It was bocce so we all went into the greenbelt behind our house to play. I had never played this game until September at my Aunt Cindy's house in New York. It was so fun! You can pretty much have as many or as few players as you want and anyone can do it. I have absolutely no athletic ability whatsoever and I even made a few great shots. Now we have a set, my parents do, and one other member of my family is getting one for Christmas. You throw a small ball out onto the field (ours was a pretty rough terrain this time but it made it even more fun). Then players on two teams take turns throwing larger balls to get them as close as they can to the small one. You can knock each other out of place but whichever team is closest to the small ball after they've all been thrown gets points for that round. That's the jist of it but look it up to really learn to play. You'll love it! When we were done with that we finished preparing supper and ate. It was delicious! We had prime rib (way too much), mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, the salad I posted about yesterday, and wine. As a family, we're not real big on dessert, but that's fine because we wouldn't have had room for it anyway. We did have ice cream with root beer topping (not the same as a float) much later while we were playing our new board game.

We left Monday morning, there's not a whole lot to say about that. I will miss seeing my parents on Christmas. It stinks that my dad has to work, but having spent this relaxed and family-centered weekend with them, I feel much better about it. I hope that you get to spend such quality time with the ones you love this week. I'll say it again, but have a Merry little Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

It seems silly to even post this week about a menu plan seeing as though I'll only be making dinner one night, but in the interest of starting a good habit and also sharing a couple recipes with you, here is our plan for the week.
Monday-Christmas social with the Young Adults group. We're headed to the Pruitts' house. I'm bringing this chocolate cake (with a pretty red glaze and red and green sugar crystals added) and these sausage and cheese balls appetizers. I made a big batch of them on Friday for our school party they were a big hit. I froze half before baking and will be bringing them tonight.
Tuesday-Shrimp and sugar snap peas over pasta these will be made slightly less healthy due to the fact that I'm trying to clean out the freezer and pantry rather than go shopping so I'll be using ramen noodles (without the seasonings), canned shrimp (clearance plus a coupon $.30), and frozen sugar snap peas). Salad and oranges to go with.
Wednesday-Dinner at Brian's parents' new house in Austin. I'm bringing this salad that I made on Thanksgiving and this cranberry pie.
Thursday- We're headed to the Valley to visit my family (except my parents) for Christmas. My uncles are taking us out to Texas Road House for dinner that night.
Friday- Christmas day on South Padre Island! I'm bringing Waldorf Salad and maybe something else if I think of it.

OK, now that I've written it all out, I don't feel the least bit guilty about the amount of cooking I'm doing. What are your plans for the week?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Have you signed up for free food from Whataburger yet? They're doing a 12 days of Christmas thing and there are just a few days left. I've been getting the emails the whole time but deleting them like they're junk and not coupons for free stuff I'd pay money for. I got a free Justaburger coupon justnow and will use it tomorrow. I don't plan to waste it anymore!
Get signed up here.

I love the College Station Whatabuger. It tries to fit in. Anything that orange would have a hard time making it without the effort. A maroon stripe and a block ATM will get you far in Aggieland.

Weekend recap, oh about 4 days late

As you know I headed into Sugar Land, my hometown, on Saturday. I got there early in the day so there was plenty of time for momma and me to hang out. We had lunch at Potbelly's where they had a girl on a guitar singing Christmas and other songs. I hadn't expected live music at the sandwich shop but it was nice. Then we did some shopping at Pottery Barn (new throw pillows and ornaments), Macy's (where we got cute Christmas shirts for $7!), Williams-Sonoma (attachments for my Kitchen aid), The Texas Store (more ornaments), and Coldwater Creek.

My mom bought me a pair of jeans at Coldwater Creek that are the same as what she wears. She swears by them, how well the fit, the perfect amount of stretch, etc. She and I are shaped totally differently but she insisted that I try them on. I really do think they fit great. They're the City jeans if you want to go check them out. I'm having a little mental block over the fact that it's Coldwater Creek though. Aren't I too young to wear that brand? Sure, they have adorable stuff, but I feel like I need to be at least 10 years older before I wear anything besides their jewelry. Am I right or should I get over it?

After shopping we ran some other errands and finished off at the nail salon for pedicures. I love the color I got! I'd tell you all what color it is, but I forgot. It was OPI. Anyone recognize that?
I talked a little bit about Erin Rachel in my post on Saturday. We grew up together doing ballet and swim team, and it was her shower that I went into town for. She's getting married on 1-23. I'm excited to be there! Here we are at my wedding. She did my makeup and did a great job, but I was in desperate need of touching up after dancing like crazy.
And my mom with all the Fickman kids.
Saturday evening we went over to Erin and Jared's house to meet up with her, her mom (one of my mom's very best friends) and a couple of her mom's other friends. It was a fun girls' night in with a semi-trad Hanukkah meal, lots of wine and wedding planning. Did you know that jelly donuts are tradition for Hanukkah? I didn't, but ate one all the same. Erin has three dogs and a cat, but Kirby, a Jack Russell like Eddie only wire-haired, was my favorite! Isn't he cute?

It was a pretty late night but Sunday we went to Mass at my parents' church, St. Laurence. The church has recently been renovated and it is absolutely stunning! It was the 3rd Sunday in Advent, Gaudette Sunday, which is all about hope and joy. The choir is fantastic there but they didn't sing Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel which I posted about yesterday. I miss the choir when we are in New Braunfels. After Mass we went out for a Mexican lunch and after that it was on to the shower. Three girls from my high school are Erin's bridesmaids and helped throw the shower. We were never close but it was neat to see them again anyway. It was held at the Houston National Golf Club which was very pretty and we had a fun time. How great is that cake?

the Erins and our moms at the shower. Jeez I look huge!
After the shower it was time to pack back up, load up the dogs and head home. Very fun weekend but way too short.

Moving on to hunting, so stop reading if you need to.

Brian had a good weekend too hunting with his dad and friends. At one point he called and told me that one of the hunting party had shot the best buck of his life but they were having a really hard time tracking him. He asked me to pray to St. Anthony that they'd find him. I said no way and started praying to St. Francis that the deer would be ok. It looks like my prayers were more powerful because when they sent dogs after him to find the deer the dogs came back a little beat up. Apparently the guy had barely grazed the buck and he was strong enough to give the dogs a fight. He'll heal and be just fine! A doe was less lucky. And my wish did not come true. I now have about 40 lbs of processed venison in our new deep freeze. I've never cooked venison before and I don't really want to. Any suggestions on how to disguise it?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday Daybook


Outside my window... cold, cloudy and sad

I am thinking... I went a little too easy on these students, letting them use a page of notes on their final. They're making much higher grades than I expected

I am thankful for... my car. Even if it does give me a chance to lock the keys inside like I did this morning.

I am wearing... green matchstick cords, black chunky turtleneck sweater, black patent flats, and a long heart pendant

I am remembering... finals back when I was in high school. I don't remember being allowed to exempt as many tests as these kids are

I am going... out to lunch. I'm thinking Pho.

I am currently reading... The Shack on loan from Allie. I must be last to hop on this bandwagon. Have you read it?

I am hoping... the red light camera was malfunctioning that day.

On my mind... Christmas cards. I love getting them! I hope there are a couple waiting in the mailbox now.

Noticing that... I have much better hair days when it's cold out. It looks great today!

Pondering these words...

Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,

Who ordered all things mightily;

To us the path of knowledge show,

and teach us in her ways to go.

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might,

Who to your tribes on Sinai's height

In ancient times gave holy law,

In cloud and majesty and awe.

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem,

From ev'ry foe deliver them

That trust your mighty pow'r to save;

Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.

Oh, come, O Key of David, come,

And open wide our heav'nly home;

Make safe the way that leads on high,

And close the path to misery.

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,

And cheer us by your drawing nigh,

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

And death's dark shadows put to flight.

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind

In one the hearts of all mankind;

Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,

And be yourself our King of Peace.

From the kitchen... Balsalmic chicken with broccoli and apples for tonight. I think it's going to be good! Also, some Christmas treats for gifts.

Around the house... lots of picking up needing to be done. I'll have to get that done before I start making a mess of the kitchen again.

One of my favorite things... seeing how happy my dogs are when I get home!

From my picture journal...
I want that

picture found here

More Simple Woman's Daybooks can be found here

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Comments are fixed!

You can talk back now, if you'd like. I'd love to hear who's reading!

25 Things

I still plan on posting about this weekend, but I want to be home where my pictures are when I do. Today is the start of finals here and all the kids are studying. The ones who aren't studying are watching House (and supposedly writing down medical terms they've learned here). So here is something to fill the time and let you know I don't plan on abandoning this project even if I can't figure out how to make my comments work. I took it from Carmen at Mom to the Screaming Masses.

1. Name someone with the same birthday as you. John Fogerty, Rudy Giuliani
2. Where was your first kiss? In my parents' backyard
3. Have you ever seriously vandalized someone else’s property? no but I sat in the car while it was done. I'm really sorry about that.
4. Have you ever hit someone of the opposite sex? only once that I meant it
5. Have you ever sung in front of a large number of people? as a child I sang in the choir
6. What’s the first thing you notice about your preferred sex? height, clothes.
7. What really turns you off? Guys who do their best to look like girls.
8. What do you order at Starbucks? A Misto with skim milk. I usually add a flavor syrup but choose a different one each time
9. What is your biggest mistake? There are probably worse things but right now I'm lamenting my decision to get a masters in health education. It's useless and I wish I had gone on to nursing school instead.
10. Have you ever hurt yourself on purpose? yes. I used to jump off my swing set and hope to break an arm. I thought casts were the coolest. I got hurt, but still haven't broken anything.
11. Say something totally random about yourself. I am really excellent at tying bows.
12. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity? Someone told me I look like Jessica Alba. He was either crazy or lying.
13. Do you still watch kiddie movies or TV shows? I like kiddie movies. TV shows for kids suck these days.
14. Did you have braces? I did. They put them on for about 6 months to try to fix my crossbite but it wasn't working so they took them off again.
15. Are you comfortable with your height? I am.
16. What is the most romantic thing someone of the preferred sex has done for you? My husband promised in front of God and all our family and friends to love me and care for me forever. What could be better?
17. When do you know it’s love? when you want the best for that person even if it's not what they want and even if it's not what's best for you.
18. Do you speak any other languages? some Spanish. I wish I'd practiced what I learned in high school more.
19. Have you ever been to tanning salon? yes, a couple of times over the years.
20. Have you ever ridden in a limo? Yes.
21. What’s something that really annoys you? when people pop popcorn in public. I love popcorn, but either it burns and stinks up the whole place or doesn't burn and smells up the whole place anyway.
22. What’s something you really like? bacon.
23. Can you dance? YES. I love to dance.
24. Have you ever been rushed by an ambulance into the emergency room? nope.
Tag 5 people!
Allie at My Dreams Coming True
Karl at Remember When
Jen at Love is the Sweetest Thing
Danielle Lenz
Lorrie at The Macy Report

Monday, December 14, 2009

Comments help

I changed my layout to this basic one to see if that would help the problem of comments not working. Try to comment. Does it work for you?

Menu Plan Monday

Monday- Bible Study at the Kubalas'
Tuesday- Slow Cooker Brisket with roasted new potatoes and cole slaw
Wednesday- Balsamic Chicken and onions with broccoli and cooked cinnamon apples
Thursday- BBQ sandwiches made with leftover brisket and sweet potato fries
Friday- Egg salad sandwiches and portable fruit to go. We're on our way out of town again and will eat on the road.

Easy cooking week, right? Especially considering that I have early release Wednesday through Friday. I'll be using the afternoons to do some baking and candy making for gifts though. I haven't decided what all I'll be making but will post pictures if it turns out well.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I might be in trouble...

On my way home from Sugar Land this evening I ran a red light. The dogs had just gotten settled in. The light turned yellow. I didn't want to stop quickly and set them back to whining again. I thought I could make it. It turned red and then I saw that there was a camera at the intersection. Too late.

Will I get a ticket in the mail? How much? Can anything else happen?

Just to soothe my conscience, it was a highway, no pedestrians or animals or oncoming traffic. If the camera hadn't been there I wouldn't be worried at all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Weekends away

This time last week Brian and I were at our good friends' house, Allie and Karl. Allie has been my best friend since middle school and was my beautiful bridesmaid this summer. We had been promising to come visit for months and just weren't able to make it happen until then. We had so much fun with them it really made me wish we had gotten together a couple more times since the wedding. We loved seeing their pretty house all decorated for Christmas, eating at a couple of great restaurants, doing some local shopping and visiting the Ice exhibit. Mostly though, we just loved seeing them! I would write more details about our time together, but Allie already did a wonderful job right here and since they are the only two likely to be reading this, I'll just add some pictures to her story.
Here's out hosts for the weekend at Cuba Libre in Dallas. that place was so good!

And the four of us waiting to go in to see Ice at the Gaylord Texan.

All bundled up in the parkas they gave us to wear

The sculptures were incredible, and it's all made out of ice!

The ice slide was lots of fun!

And the nativity scene, beautiful!
I absolutely recommend that you go if you get the chance!

I wish I had taken pictures of the other stuff we did last weekend! But I'll put the rest of what I do have on Facebook.
Now this weekend we're headed out again, this time in opposite directions. Brian left last night for the deer lease with his pop. They brought over a deep freeze for us yesterday and I was really excited, but please say a prayer that it's not instantly full of deer meat before I even get to stick a casserole in there.
I'm leaving in a few minutes for Sugar Land for a wedding shower for my friend Erin and to hang out with my parents. Erin and I were great friends when we were little kids but probably have more in common now than ever before. We were referred to as Erin Rachel and Erin Cecelia for our first several years being that our moms were best friends and chose matching names for their daughters. It'll be great to see her this weekend and attend her wedding in January. I'll write details when I get back.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Movies

My absolute number one favorite Christmas movie, my favorite movie year-round, is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I watch it on Thanksgiving every year and three or four more times before Christmas. It's my mom's favorite movie too and we quote it to each other a random intervals. She says Beverly D'Angelo's character is a model of a good and patient wife. If you haven't seen it yet, do. It's better than the other National Lampoon movies.
There are plenty of other great ones this time of year that I love including It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (the original one), and a new favorite after our trip to Ice last weekend How the Grinch Stole Christmas. A few weeks ago I loaded up our Netflix queue with old and new Christmas movies to really get us in the spirit. Right now I have Three Godfathers with John Wayne and The Juggler of Notre Dame. They are both supposed to be older, less well-known movies that do a good job of capturing the true meaning of Christmas (the birth of a savior, not warm fuzzies). However, after a garage sale mishap in which Brian sold our working DVD player for $6 and a malfunctioning of his X-Box, I have no way of viewing these without cuddling up with cocoa around the computer screen. That really screams Christmas romance, no? Maybe a new DVD player will appear under the tree. What's your favorite Christmas movie? Will you be partaking of the annual TBS Christmas Story marathon? I'm ashamed to admit I watched that 6 times in a 24 hour period one year in high school. This is the reason it no longer appears on my favorites list.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Because I need one more way to waste my time

I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog for well over a year now. My holdup was that I mostly read blogs of really great writers, fabulous people who have lots to say, and are almost famous. I'm not. But with the encouragement of some good friends who are pretty fabulous themselves, I'm motivated to try to add something to the blogosphere rather than just soaking it in as I have for the past 5 years or so.
What you'll find here is a real girl. Hi, it's me Erin. I am a proud Catholic trying to grow in my faith. I am newly married to the one that was made for me. We live in the neatest town in the best state in the greatest country on Earth. I enjoy cooking and reading and trying to craft. I love preppy style but struggle with materialism. I often doubt my abilities, particularly in finding a real job. But I am blessed by the wonderful people in my life, my friends and family. These are the things I'll be writing about because these are the things I know.
You'll also find my husband here, Brian, the love of my life. We got married on the 4th of July this year and had the best time at our wedding and on our honeymoon, and I'll probably talk about that. He is really the best guy, smart, handsome, always loving and considerate and treats me so much better than I deserve. He hunts and fishes and builds furniture and things for us. We sail and camp and try to learn as much as we can.
We come from really great families who taught us so much and support us through everything. Though we hope to add to it soon, our little nest holds just us and our two dogs. Sandy is a 7 year old yellow lab and Eddie is a Jack Russell Terrier. We think he's about 5 (he's adopted).
So thank you for stopping by our little Texas love nest. Hopefully we'll get to know some new friends here and the old ones might have a better idea of what's going on in our little nest. Please comment and let me know you're here. While I plan to write for myself, I would love to know I'm not writing only for myself! Welcome!