Friday, November 28

Hello From Asheville...

It's been a long, but fun day...Ben got home from work at 1230am and we both tossed and turned until 430am. Sara and I woke up and were in Kohl's at 5:05am! We got some great deals and I did finish buying for a few people on my list. We made it to Kohl's, Circuit City, Old Navy, Dick's Sporting Goods, Target, Ulta, Linen's & Things, Panera for breakfast #2 and Walgreen's all before 8am! We were girl's on a mission.

Once home I woke we all showered, my parents picked Sara up for the ECU football game and we loaded the car. Between us, food and the dog's you'd think we were staying here for a week. The drive was great and we made good time. We stopped at Asheville Pizza Company for their pizza buffett and a beer on the way to the cabin.

The pups snuggling on the ride to Asheville.

I'm so glad we driving in the light. Google maps was wrong...a road listed on our directions was called something slightly different...we ended up on a long and windy road with steep cliffs heading towards the Blue Ridge Parkways, but we made it!

Our cabin is's very secluded with a huge wrap around porch, hot tub, flat screen tv which we've been watching movies on HBO all afternoon and gas logs. After a quick powernap and a dip in the hot tub with a glass of wine, we're making appetizers for dinner, enjoying a beer and blogging live from Asheville. I'd recommend the Cabins of Asheville to anyone!!

Living room and kitchen

Cozy Bedroom

Hot Tub and Porch

Our view!

Pepsi in a Mason Jar!

Tomorrow's plan is to sleep in, enjoy coffee on the porch wrapped in a blanket overlooking Pisgah National Forest and make Eggnog French Toast before heading to downtown Asheville.

Thursday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Today has been a busy day full of time with family. I ate till I was stuffed this afternoon and may have a bite or two of dessert for dinner, but I doubt I can fit anything else in. This is a quick post since I've been busy packing for our trip to Asheville and spending the evening with my sister looking through the Black Friday Ads. We'll be up early to start shopping and be done before 8am!! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Today I'm Thankful for:

~All the delicious food that was prepared today: It's incredibly sad to think so many people went without food today and I stuffed myself until I was miserable.

~Being able to spend Thanksgiving with both of my well as my aunt, cousins, siblings, parents, etc...

~Black Friday Ads: I love shopping and looking through the ads is just as fun list from Wednesday:

~Having a few days off from work to enjoy with my family, shopping and Ben

~All of the traditions we've established over the years and all of the memories they will bring us!

~Flannel PJ's: I'm packing them to keep warm in the cozy!

After a round of early shopping...we're off to Asheville. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 25

It's Almost Here...

I've been eating Thanksgiving stuff almost every meal since Sunday and yet I still couldn't be more excited for dinner tomorrow night with my mom and lunch on Thurs with my dad! We had leftovers from the Stafford Thanksgiving last night and this morning I enjoyed my favorite breakfast of vanilla and pumpkin spice granola topped with my homemade cranberry sauce....DELICIOUS!!!

We've got a busy few days ahead of us. Ben is finishing up projects and exams, while finding some time to work a few hours between Thanksgiving dinners. Work is busy for me trying to get Oct. ad-hoc things wrapped up before Nov. close starts on Monday. Nevermind the usual list of laundry, grocery shopping and now packing for our Asheville trip!!

I've been working all week on our itinerary:
Friday-Early Black Friday Shopping with Sara, On the road at 930am to Asheville, Lunch at Asheville Pizza Co, Arrive at our cabin, unload and enjoy the rest of the evening by the fire with appetizers, desserts and wine for dinner.

Saturday-Omelettes, Bacon and Coffee for breakfast, dowtown Asheville for shopping, lunch and beer browsing, a possible trip to the Grove Park in to see the Gingerbread House display, back to the Cabin for a special dinner with dessert and a dip in the Hot Tub.

Sunday-French Toast, Bacon and Mimosas for breakfast, pack up and drive to Boone for lunch at Macado's, Christmas Tree farm to find the perfect tree and drive home.

Just a few more days left in my Gratitude Challenge, but yesterday's and today's list includes:

~Tervis Tumblers: We have several of these and I use one every night. I have to have water on my nightstand and these are prefect for not sweating.

~Family Dinners where everyone brings something: I love helps the hostess so the cooking doesn't fall on them and there are tons of choices!

~Soup: I eat it almost every day!

~Good smelling candles: Right now I'm obsessed with fall scents and these make the house smell so delicious.

~Black Friday ads early: I'm a planner and I like knowing what's on sale before the ads hit my doorstep on Thursday.

~Doggie shampoo: Freddie is getting a bath tonight with the most yummy smelling dog shampoo...he needs it bad!

Sunday, November 23

Nonstop Weekend...

It's been a Marathon weekend in the Stafford house the past few days. After one of the longest weeks in a while, we've been looking forward to the weekend since probably last Sunday evening. We kicked Friday night off with our usual pizza, but made an extra one and had Chris and Sam over. Of course beer was invloved, tasting a few homebrews and other new microbrews we haven't had yet.

Saturday was really the marathon day. I woke up and ran 6.3 miles in the freezing 23 degree weather. I actually got hot at one point, but the wind kicked back up and I was cold again by the time I finished. It ended up being a great run and I was pretty pleased my Nike + seems to be working again and accurately stating my mileage.

Once home, we started painting the kitchen. It was hardwork and took a few hours longer than we anticipated, but it's done. One more project we can check off the big to-do list. And yes...I have a hand written "House Projects" to-do list.

We had made plans with Tara and Rick to go to the Flying Saucer for dinner and we were literally putting everything back in it's place in the kitchen when they arrived to pick us up. We had so much fun with them and Mike, who also came. Too many funny pictures were taken and several little inside jokes we're started!

Sunday morning we were afford a few hours of laziness before I started cooking sides to take the Stafford's Thanksgiving. We brought Macaroni & Cheese, Pineapple Casserole, Homemade Cranberry Sauce and Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts. There was entirely way too much food and I'm uncomfortably stuffed right now. We even took to-go plates for dessert, which will have to wait for tomorrow. I've also scraped my dinner I had planned for tomorrow since we brought home leftovers. It's always a fun time seeing everyone at once, but it can be a little over stimulating with 25 people...I'm quite enjoying the peace and quiet while I write this!

My catch up grateful list for Friday, Saturday and today:

~Walmart: I've never been a huge fan of Walmart, but lately we've been shopping at the Holly Spring location, which is really nice. I'm always surprised at the total and it's saved us a lot...just in time for Christmas.
~Thankgiving meal: I love turkey, but the sides are the best part...and dessert of course! I'm also lucky that I get 3 seperate Thanksgiving dinners!

~Gas logs on a cold night: They kept me so toasty on Friday night and the ambience of a fire is so nice. Another one of my go-to sites for recipes. I never make anything less than 4 stars and that doesn't have a fair amount of reviews.

~Freddie & Molly: They are so fun together and act like little children

~Yogurt and granola: I'm obsessed with this for breakfast!

~Handbags: Another mild obession!

~Funny pictures with funny new friends

~Friday lunches out: I've always been disciplined in bringing my lunch to work every day, but every now and then I treat myself to lunch out on fun!

~Rechargable Batteries: My digital camera eats AA batteries like candy and these always come in handy...only when I remember to charge them.

Thursday, November 20

A little change...

I figured it was time to change up the view a little bit. Don't you love the new blog look? The last template I found was a pain to update and every page element I had was lost, but these new templates were just a click of the mouse! So expect the changes more often from now on.

Today I'm Grateful for:

~This new website for easy blog template updates: Ok it's probably not new to everyone else, but I just recently found it

~Vera Bradley Planners: My mom and I get new ones every year and I love nothing more than spending an evening putting all the new stickers on the holidays and writing in birthdays. Traditionally, we buy them in Williamsburg at the Yankee Candle Flagship store, but this year they were all out. Once home, my mom went to Merle Norman and got us one each. I missed putting everything together with her this year!

~Ice water: Tonight I'm super thirsty from my 40 minutes on the elliptical and I've downed several glasses of ice cold water. It's so refreshing.

Wednesday, November 19

Road Runner at Heart

Have I mentioned how much I hate the time change and its always dark...which means no more running outside. I don't mind the cold, it's the dark that is keeping me away. So tonight I tried a new gym, which was very nice and literally on my way home from work. I packed my gym bag this morning and stopped in on my way home to pick up my one week pass and get in a workout.

More than likely I'll join, although I don't really want to. I always feel like gyms are ripping me off, except for Planet Fitness where we were members before we moved. But...I figure if I'm really doing the MB Half Marathon in Feb. I must get in some training on the treadmill and a little cross training and weight training wouldn't hurt either.

Tonight for the first time in over 6 months, I stepped foot onto the treadmill...I loathe them! I never thought I'd ever think running outside would be easier. I was super bored, I felt like I was running way too fast over my normal pace, my shins were killing me and I was getting overheated. I guess it'll be ok for short midweek runs, but I know by the weekends I'll be looking forward to my long runs outside!

Today I'm grateful for:

~Running outside: I can't wait for my 6 mile run this Sat. in the fresh air!

~Quiet Days at work

~Scarfs: Sometimes I wear them all day long and it's just enough to keep me warm all day and stylish too!

Tuesday, November 18

Brrring Day

Not only was today cold, but boring! After work I wanted nothing more to come home and jump in my pj's. My mom's pup, Molly, is staying with us while my parents are in Charleston and the beach until Sunday. Having Molly around to play with make Freddie so happy, although I'm sure Molly is annoyed a lot by him.

I'm off to enjoy a cup of tea and then bed...night!

Today I'm grateful for:

~Heat: Laying in bed this morning right after the alarm clock went off I dreaded getting out of the warm bed...hearing the heat come home was the greatest sound!

~Snow: Even if they were just snow flurries, it was fun to see them today and be reminded of the fun upcoming holidays.

~The puppies: They're so cute and love being with each other so much...I love watching the sleep on their beds so close together.

Monday, November 17

Black Friday on a Blah Monday

Today I started thinking about Black Friday and start combing through the many ads that are already listed. Since I'm slightly ahead on gift buying this year, I won't need many things, but I do love the thrill of getting up early and shopping before breakfast is ready.

Last year my sister Sara spent Thanksgiving night with me since Ben was working. We had so much fun watching Hairspary in our pj's and browsing the official Black Friday ads from the paper. We made our plan and were up at 4am ready to go slightly tired, but quickly got some energy from Starbucks after they opened.

Now that we live in Apex, we'll probably hit up the Beaver Creek center with Kohl's, Target, Circuit City (if we're brave), Old Navy, Bath and Body Works and Linen's & Things...and the best part is we're only 5 minutes away!

Only 11 more days until the madness starts.

Today I'm grateful for:

~Naps: I had one yesterday and it was soooo good, I just wish I could take one everyday. But I guess they wouldn't be so special and fun then.

~Lists: I started making a packing list for Asheville, my Christmas list to give out, my Christmas list to buy, my Black Friday shopping list and my general to-do/menu list for the week. What would I do without lists!

~Eye drops: I've been having a little trouble with my eyes being dry and red...they make them feel so good.

Sunday, November 16

Sunday Running....

This afternoon Ben and I ventured out to downtown Raleigh for the Old Reliable 10k. Ben decided not to run and would just watch me this one time. While I was a little lonely at the start line waiting to get going, it sure was nice to have my own cheerleader and personal photographer. The weather was awesome and it was pretty warm in the sun.

I thought I'd have a really good run today and through the first mile, which circled the block and brought you back over the start line, all was good. I was running at my usual pace, but by the time I got to mile 3 I had developed the most horrible side cramp. I tried everything while running to subside it and nothing seemed to work. I ended up stopping 3 times! By mile 3.5 when I turned onto Dixie Trail and saw Anna and Dan cheering for me from their house, I decided to suck it up and keep running no matter what. I was so happy to see them cheering and it was just what I need too keep going. By mile 4.5 I was feeling good again and the cramp was gone. The last 2.7 miles were easy peasy...I was feeling good, had tons of energy and NO PAIN! My final time was around 1:05 and while that was my goal, knowing I could have maybe shaved off a few more minutes was slightly disappointed. But at that point I was just happy to finish considering how I felt halfway through the race. But, I'm so mad I forgot to turn off my Nike +, which was off anyways and recorded 6.8 miles at 1:16, which made my overal pace over 11 minutes per mile. I'm just a stickler like that.

For a local race, it was a good course and I'd do it again next year. The course was relatively flat and I liked how you circled back through the start/finishe line to see family and friends. Now I start a 12 week training program for the Myrtle Beach half marathon. I'm heading to our gym to sign up for a membership to get in some good runs and workouts during the long winter weeks.

Today I'm thankful for:

~Running tights: So comfy to run in and stay in place!

~Friends and family who cheered me on just when I needed it most!

~The awesome fall weather that made my "good" miles enjoyable.

During my hour running when I wasn't thinking about how bad my cramp was, I was totally coming up with things I was grateful for....I love thinking while running.

Ballet, Bowties and Brews

This has been a pretty fun weekend so far and we've been busy!! Friday after work, we braved the rain and headed to Sanford to see Laura in the Nutcracker. She was a gum drop and a clown this year...and did an awesome job as the littlest clown! Afterwards we had dinner at my parents and stayed chatting with them until 10:30!

We woke up really surprised by the was tricky on Saturday, teasing us all day long. I headed to the grocery store, while Ben did the dreaded chore of taking Freddie to get his nails cut! I told him I'd reward him with a trip to Carolina Brewing Co. in Holly Springs since they were tapping their Winter Porter. We met Chris, Sam & Shane there and I was pretty disappointed in the Winter Porter. It was slightly smokey and just bland, not at all what I'd expect from a Porter.

We walked out of the brewery after a torrential downpour with angry skies, but by the time we got home it was clearing up. I got everything ready for dinner and Tara and Rick showed up with the most awesome selection of beer and an amazing FAT-FREE mexican dip!

I made a fall salad with mixed greens, pears, pomegranate seeds and raspberry vinagrette. I've only had a pomegranate once, but I think they'll become more of a regular in our house. I love how the seeds pop in your mouth. I also made Grilled Chicken and Pesto Farfalle. Technically Ben grilled the chicken and I made everything else. It's a new recipe that got rave reviews and it turned out delicious! I'm so excited there are leftovers.

Once dinner was out of the way, we started our beer tasting. Including the few beers we shared during appetizers and dinner here is our line up:

~ Ben's Cinnamon Oatmeal Stout
~Laqunitas Cappucinno Stout
~Abita Pecan Harvest
~Smuttynose Winter Ale
~Baron's Black Wattle Seed Ale
~Ben's Smoked Vanilla Bean Porter
~Ben's Ginger Ale
~Ben's Blackberry Chocolate Stout
~Weeping Raddish Pumpkin Bock
~Terrapin Side Project III Gamma Ray
~Heavy Weight Lunacy
~Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout
~Dogfish Head Theobrama
~Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra

Ben printed everyone score sheets based on appearance, aroma, taste, drinkability, and overall likeness. All but one or two we really favorites were the Creme Brulee Stout, Terrapin Gamma Ray and Dogfish Raison D'Extra!

In between rounds we snacked on Pumpkin Scones and Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake tarts. I think we all had a great's so nice to not only have new friends, but ones that enjoy our nerdiness love of beer.

This morning, I'm sipping coffee and mentally preparing for my 10k run this afternoon. I'm so happy the sun has decided to make it's appearance and stay out although it's a little chilly...we're enjoying our coffee by the gas logs!

The things I'm grateful for: (Fri and Sat)

~How close we live to family: It's so nice that we can go see our family whenever we want and I love being a part of my little sisters' lives.

~Soup: It was rainy day and I love chicken noodle soup when it's cold and rainy out

~The internet: information is always at your just gotta know where to look

~New friends: No surprise we love entertaining and having new friends to join us is the icing on the cake

~Beer: We're beer snobs!

~Quick & Easy dinners that look gourmet: The pasta was incredibily easy to make and delicious at the same time...perfect for enteraining.

Thursday, November 13

Hard economic times...

Today I safely survived the 3rd round of layoffs in the past 7 months at my company! I feel incredibly lucky to still have my job, but still a little unnerved that my time may be coming. If the market does not turn around there will be more...the financial services industry is suffering big time! And they way things are looking, this is just the beginning of the recession.

By 9am this morning, I lost 2 friends at work to the "workforce reduction." It's pretty sad to say, that at 27 years old, I've been there. I was laid off in May 2007, and while it was for the best, it still hurts. All the unknowns are the worst and I really things turn around for my friends, especially right before the holiday season.

Needless to say today has been tense. Tonight I'm being productive in preperation for our busy weekend. My to-do list tonight:

~Unload the dishwasher
~Clean the kitchen and dirty dishes
~Fold the last load and laundry
~Put way all of our clothes
~Set up online bill payments
~Finalize the menu for the dinner party Sat.
~Give Freddie a bath (IF I have time)

So I better get moving....

Today I'm VERY grateful for:

~My job: Sometimes, like last week, my job is stressful and boring, but that fact I still have it today gives me a little bit of security.

~My managers: That they see my talent and intelligence and recognize my hardworking values. This is my go-to site for any recipe for any occassion, mostly because it houses all of the Cooking Light recipes which I love.

Wednesday, November 12

Uneventul day...

It's Wednesday...the week is dragging, so as usual today was pretty uneventful. I'm still not used to the time change and feel exhausted by the time I get home. It didn't help I was freezing all day and just wanted to curl up on the couch with my newest fuzzy throw and the very last of the chili!

So I basically did just that tonight! Very unproductive, but oh well. I'm finally warming up with a big mug of Sleepytime's been a pretty dreamy night. How could it not in my most comfy clothes, fuzzy socks, wrapped up in a fuzzy throw and sitting in Ben's recliner!

My gratitude list for today:

~Socks: I'm not usually a sock wearer unless I have shoes on, but when my toes are like ice I will gladly put them on. I get so many cute pairs for christmas, which make them even more fun to wear.

~Sleepytime Tea: While I'm not sure it actually aids in sleep...probably all in my did warm me up finally!

~Wednesdays: You could look at this day of the week as ONLY Wed, as in, not Friday, but we're halfway through the week and just two more work days...we're especially excited about this weekend which is jammed packed with fun stuff! I love looking at the the glass half full.

I got a few requests for my lasagna recipe. This recipe was adapted from the Bride and Groom's First and Forever Cookbook. My college roommate, Meg gave this to us for an engagement perfect as this recipe has become a favorite of ours. Enjoy!

Classic Lasagna

8 oz ground beef round
8 oz italian sausage links, removed from casings
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 jars (26 oz each) marinara sauce
8 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
12 sheets "No Boil" lasagna noodles
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves torn into small peices
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray.

Combine the ground beef and sausage in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Season with salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook until the meat is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl. Add the marinara sauce to the meat and stir to combine; set aside.

Mix the ricotta cheese, cream cheese and parmesan cheese in a medium bowl. Season with the remaining pepper; set aside.

Cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish with 1 cup of the meat sauce. Arrange a single layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (3 sheets) on top of the sauce. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce evenly on top. Add half of the cheese mixture by spoonfuls evenly over the meat sauce, then scatter half of the basil leaves on top. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce, the remaining cheese mixture and a final layer of lasagna. Spread the remaining meat sauce over the top, and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 11

Happy Veteran's Day

Being that it's Veteran's Day it was a relaxed, short day at work. I didn't have anything have anything I HAD to get done today, but it was nice to have a quiet day in the office to get a few loose ends tied up. I had planned on working until 1 or, that turned into 2, and I finally left at 330!

I was beyond excited to get home with the sun still shining, so I immediately headed out for a short, 3 mile run. Although my Nike + is off now...I ran my usual route of 3.12 miles and it says I ran 2.75, which threw off my pace too. Grrrrr....

Ben left for work and I decided head out shopping. A friend sent me a 25% Friends & Family coupon for World Market and I've been eyeing some chocolate brown velvet drapes. Of course they only have one panel when I needed two. I decided to go ahead and get just one now. I was already out and in the store. But while there I picked up 2 Abita Harvest Pecan beers for our Beer Tasting Dinner Party with Tara & Rick this weekend. I also finally found some cloth napkins and placemats I loved. How precious and it'll will pick up the green, purple, red and yellows in our kitchen.

And wouldn't you know they rang everything up wrong...the girl said she gave me my discount and I was almost ready to head home when I decided to double check...yep...she forgot. So back in the store I went, returned everything and got my discount...25% off was worth it!

Once home, I sat down to awesome leftovers of Lasagna and a side salad. I'm now freezing and think I'll spend the rest of the night curled up on the couch with a cup of tea.

Today I'm grateful for:

~Coupons: I rarely buy anything for full price and sometimes coupons come at just the right time.

~New Friends: I am so excited to host our newest friends, Tara & Rick on Sat. We all share a love for beer and they couldn't be a more fun couple to hang out with.

~Our Veterans: Both sides of my family have military background and I have 2 cousins who are currently serving in Iraq...many thanks for all their hardwork!

Monday, November 10

Just Another Manic Monday...

It wasn't too manic was good. It's a pretty relaxed week, considering everything that happened last week and tomorrow is Veteran's Day, which is a partial-staff day. I plan on working most of the day in my jeans and I'll get an extra vacation day for later!

Tonight for dinner we enjoyed Beef Stroganoff with sauteed peppers and salads. The Beef Stroganoff recipe came from the latest Cooking Light, however I could have sworn I've made this before and felt the same way about the recipe. It was missing something...kind of bland. Next time, I'll add a can of cream of mushroom soup to everything and make it more creamy.

After dinner, I was craving something sweet and found some peanut butter cookie mix in our pantry, but I really wanted chocolate with them. I mixed in M&M's, the tiniest amount of chocolate chips and some marshmallows (those were Ben's addition). Wow...peanut-buttery, chocolately, gooey-ness!

Today I'm grateful for:

~Funny license plates: This morning going to work I saw 2 license plates that got my attention. "STFU&DRV" was on an SUV and there was a Charger weaving in and out of traffic...who is in THAT much of a hurry to get to work. His plate said "YEAH, HEMI" So funny he thought he was so cool! It started my Monday off pretty good.

~Clean clothes: I did 5 loads of laundry yesterday. I love nothing more than having all of our clothes clean and smelling so fresh.

~Sweaters: It was freezing this morning when I left for work and I loved being cozied up in one of my newest sweaters from Banana.

Sunday, November 9

It's Almost Done...

Another project is almost complete. We finished painting the living room today and other than finding dark brown curtains and a rod, we're practicaly done. Eventually we'll add crown moulding, but first we need to finishing painting the rest of our rooms downstairs and let our checking account recover from all the Lowe's purchases in the past few months!

We started our day off with a bang...we ran 6.25 miles! It was so long, we needed a map to keep track of all of our turns through the neighborhoods and I found a great site...Google Pedometer. It's similar to MapMyRun, but allows you to print out your map with the distance and elevations. I ran one loop twice...the second time around I thought things looked familar and finally found my way. So, I tweaked my route again and my 6th mile came faster than I thought. It was a great run and I feel good for the 10k next Sunday. I finished today in 1:04:32 with an average pace of 10:14/mile and I burned almost 800 calories!! In just 6 months I've shaved off over 10 minutes on my 10k....yeah I'm feeling pretty awesome!

Other than running and painting we've been pretty lazy today. Watching football, cleaning up the house a little and working through the massive pile of laundry. One day I'll learn to do laundry on a regular basis...doing 3 weeks at a time is not fun!

Pictures of our almost complete living room: We're also getting rid of the large entertainment soon as we can sell it on Craigslist! I love how it all came out. Ben definitely pushed me out of comfort zone with brighter colors and I'm so glad we took the plunge with the colors we chose.

Today I'm grateful for:

~Ben: being my running partner, helping me keep my pace and keeping me going through those tough hills.

~Our decor: I love decorating and I'm so thankful we have the means to make our home exactly how we want it.

~Popcorn: We had a bag for the perfect afternoon filling and easy. My dad makes a huge bowl almost every weekend for an afternoon snack, so a great memory!

Saturday, November 8


It's only Sat. night and it's been a super busy weekend! Finally the week is over and hopefully next week at work will go a little smoother as things begin to settle down.

Friday after work, I was successful in convincing Ben we should paint the living room this weekend. So we headed to Lowe's to pick paint colors and then TGI Fridays for dinner. We headed to bed early so we'd be up early to get started.

We choose a Martha Stewart color, Spiney Sea Urchin (bright green) for the main living room picked goldy-yellow called Delightful Moon. It blended so well with our countertops, as well as the other decor we already have.

So, today we've been taping, painting, cleaning...such a long day and it always takes longer than you plan. I never got my run in, which means I'm running 6 miles tomorrow without any other training this past week. After we got cleaned up from painting, we headed to my mom's for Alex, birthday dinner. He will be 20 on Monday and requested my homemade lasagna for dinner!

Tomorrow is another busy day:
~Run 6 miles
~Paint accent wall
~Get 2 tires fixed
~Sam's to buy special beers for our beer tasting dinner party next Satuday

Since Friday was so gratitude list includes:

~Jeans: I get to wear them every Friday and it's so easy to pick out a shirt. Plus, they are so comfy!

~Paint colors: Looking at the array of colors gets some excited. I love looking at the paint swatches even when I don't need to pick out any colors.

~Getting in bed at 10pm on a Friday: By the end of the week I'm exhausted and keeping on my schedule helps me to get the weekend off to a great start.

Today I'm grateful for:

~Birthdays: In honor of Alex's birthday, I love getting together with family and friends for any celebration.

~Our House: Ben and I have enjoyed being homeowners and making a house into a home. We're slowly checking off the to-do's to make it personal to our tastes and how we always thought our home would be.

~Photos: As I putting everything back in it's place I got a chance to take more than just a glance at the pictures we display...such happy memories from our wedding, travels, and family events over the past several years.

Thursday, November 6

It's Almost Friday...

Finally this crazy week is almost over. I can not wait for tomorrow evening...a relaxing night at home, making homemade pizza and enjoying some new beers. Our little tradition.

Today was a crazy crazy wacky day at work. The next few weeks should be pretty interesting. But, on a good note...Ben finally got some new anitbiotics that will hopefully clear out his sinus infection. He had a little reaction to the first round. I'm ready to work on the house this weekend and need him to be well and motivated.

And yes...for the 4th night in a row I cam home for a glass of wine and sleep!

Today I'm grateful for:

~Hoodies: These are so comfy and the perfect ending to a long day after work for lounging around.

~Dropping Gas Prices: The one good thing about the economy in the Ben and I have switched cars, which is saving us so much money.

~Sense of Humor: Some days, a sense of humor gets you through the day!

Wednesday, November 5 guessed it....

Work, Dinner, Wine, Sleep...and Blog!

Another long day at work and home in the pitch black. But, I'm enjoying my leftovers from Sono...Pan-seared Sea Bass, rice, steamed broccoli and a big glass of wine. Maybe some pumpkin ice cream later! Delicious.

Two more crazy days of work and then the weekend. My deadline runs from the first business day of the month to the 5th. Sometimes it falls over the weekend and if need be, it gives me 2 extra days, which is nice. But, it's also nice to be DONE on Fridays! I can't wait until this Friday...we have a nice relaxing weekend ahead of us.

One of my friends, Meredith, requested the recipe for my White Bean Chicken Chili. It's delicious and we add extra spice since we enjoy it hotter. This go-round was a little soupy, but that's all the more reason to make extra corn muffins to soak up the liquid. Enjoy!

White Bean Chicken Chili

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 tbsp flour
3 cups chopped chicken breast
3 (15 ounce) cans white beans
1 can corn; drained
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Sour cream

Add everything to the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream.

Oh...I finally hit 100 miles on my Nike + this past Sunday! In just 4 months, I've run 102 miles and earned a certificate from Nike. And I'm in 2nd place in my challenge with some friends for the most miles ran between Labor Day and Thanksgiving! Which reminds me I need to sign up for my gym membership now there is no more daylight for evening runs.

Tonight I'm grateful for:

~My financial and analytical knowledge: To the outside world what I do for a living is a foreign language. Many of you have no idea...and the fact month after month I put my skills to test and problem solve breaks in our systems and adjusts exposure (lost you there didn't I?)seems like second nature to me. But this month, I've had several issues that I've really had to put my thinking cap on and pull everything I've learned in the past several year. It's a good sense of accomplishment to solve these problems and fix the issue.

~Nike +: Ben gave me this for my birthday in June and it has inspired me to keep running every week...such a nifty little gadget. And who knew I could run 100 miles in 4 months!

~Blogging: I love sharing little tid-bits of my life and many things I've grateful for!

Tuesday, November 4

I Spoke Too Soon!

As many of you know my job revolves around a monthly schedule...they come and go and next thing I know it's the next month. Quarter end closes are the worst and now that the "worst" is over from last month, I thought this month end would be lighter volume, less breaks, and mainly everything would work. I guess I spoke to soon....Murphy's Law!

Nothing seemed to work today...if it wasn't one thing, it was another...slow systems, unexplained breaks, system feed name it happened. After another 11 hour day and working through lunch I drove home in the dark (again) and wet roads. Nevermind I have an eye infection and my vision is so bad my glasses need updating...AGAIN!

But once home, I enjoyed a big bowl of White Bean Chicken Chili from the crockpot, a corn muffin that Ben made before he left for work, and a big glass of Sauvigon Blanc! I see a trend, food, wine, sleep!

Today I'm grateful for:

~Crockpots: It's an amazing feeling to walk in the door after an 11 hour work day to house filled with good smells and dinner basically on the table! Good thing I got my act together with our meal planning this week.

~Contacts: Without them I don't know how I'd be able to see clearly...just waiting on my eyes to stabilize so I can get LASIK.

~Rain: While I hate it while walking to the car, driving home in's done wonders for our new little grass seedlings. And it saves Ben 30 minutes from watering it every day!

Now, I'm heading towards the couch to finish my glass of wine and watch the Election coverage, although I'm sure it'll be a disappointment. Happy Election Night!

Monday, November 3

I'm running out of time...

I absolutely-positively hate the time change! Sunday I will admit it was nice to get an extra hour or house chores in. We didn't sleep 630am I was wide awake. So we got up early, I made some delicious Pecan Pumpkin Dessert Squares. I've had some Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter from Williams Sonoma in the pantry since last year.

Pecan Pumpkin Dessert Squares

1 package yellow cake mix; set aside one cup
½ cup butter, melted
3 eggs, large
1 jar of Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° F. Divide yellow cake mix, placing all but one cup in a mixing bowl. Stir the melted butter and one egg into the cake mix. Press the mixture into the bottom of a greased 9" × 13" pan. Mix the jar of Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter with two eggs and milk. Pour this result over the cake mix. Stir the reserved cup of cake mix with the flour, sugar, softened butter, and cinnamon. Mix together until crumbly. Sprinkle over top of the pumpkin layer. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Cut into "2 squares. Serves 24.

Once cleaned up in the kitchen, I got the rest of the house spic and span! At 3pm we decided to go on a 5.5 mile run. It definitely was not the best...we ended up on a very busy road without a sidewalk. Plus, I was dehydrated and left with no energy. I really needed some Carb blocks to keep up my energy.

We ended a night with dinner at Ben's parents house. Ben's mom, Susan, made an amazing mexican chicken casserole that was her sister's recipe. We also enjoyed Harrison's (our 4 year old nephew) amazing Greek dip with homemade pita chip for an appetizer. I hadn't seen the Stafford's in many months, so it was great to see most of the family then. I'm not sure where the past 3 months have gone!

Sunday's Gratitude List:

~Food: I love food and cooking and how it brings people together.

~Sidewalks and neighborhoods: We live in a wonderful area with so many neighborhoods to run in...I almost took it for granted until I had to dodge a few cars on a busy street and rolled my ankle one too many times in the ditches while running.

~Fresh air: The fall brings mild days and better quality air. I love when the summer haze is gone and it's so easy to breathe!

Now...a little catch up! The time change as gotten me all of whack. I feel like it's almost midnight. Month end started at work and I usually work late. I rushed home at a 6pm and it was pitch black outside. I'm so sad my evening runs outside are over until spring. After a whirlwind trip to the grocery store and back...I'm pleased to say we only spent $58 for a week's worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners...all homecooked meals!

I've been slack in my cooking lately and I'm so sick of all the frozen and pre-prepared dinners we've been eating. Even though we didn't eat until 845pm...I was so much happier sitting down at a candlelight table eating fresh sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli and our favorite crunchy baked chicken. Definitely worth all that hard work!

Today I'm grateful for:

~Fresh veggies: They've been missing from my diet and my body is craving them now. The freshest veggies only need a little seasoning and are so sweet and delicious.

~Wine: I love coming home to a nice glass of wine with dinner. It makes it feel special, even if it is a week night.

~Daylight savings: I hate it being so dark...I get so depressed during winter and wish we had daylight savings time all year long!