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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook


The Simple Woman's Daybook
For Today (November 30, 2010)

Outside my window... Sunny and chilly 54 degrees

I am thinking... is it really already December tomorrow? The year has just flown by!

I am thankful for... our friends here in Monterey. I had a great time with them on Thanksgiving and hanging out with the Griffins on Saturday playing Guitar Hero, Nertz, and Taboo.

From the kitchen... Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie. We had extra batter from Thanksgiving and I finally baked the rest last night. Yummmm!

I am wearing... purple top and comfy pants

I am going... nowhere. Just hanging out with my boy at home :)

I am reading... for leisure: none; The Daily Devotional Bible---currently at 1 Samuel and last two chapters of Luke

I am hoping... the maintenance shows up soon to fix our washer drain. Water leaks every where when we washed our laundry and this had happened before. I was told last time that they just need to "snake" something through the drain pipes once in a while to clean them.

I am hearing... Christmas music softly playing.

Around the house... Wii games that Nathaniel just through all over the living room.

One of my favorite things... our Christmas ornaments. We only have maybe 15 ornaments but each have their own special meaning. Considering we have only been married for 2.5 years (and some ornaments are from our dating years) and a family for almost a year of that, I say we're doing pretty well. I hope to have a nice, big "collection" like my mother-in-law's where you can barely see the tree!

Inspired by the church song... this is one of the church songs that I have difficulty hearing/singing without tearing up since we became a military family. Every few weeks, I would ask my husband not to be a hero when the time to deploy comes. And I know that even though he tells me he wont, deep inside he is thinking about the message of this song...

"Oh, Jesus if I die upon a foreign field some day
'Twould be no more than love demands, no less could I repay
'No greater love hath mortal man than for a friend to die'
These are the words He gently spoke to me,
"If just a cup of water I place within your hand
Then just a cup of water is a all that I demand'
But if by death to living they can Thy glory see,
I'll take my cross and follow close to Thee"

A few plans for the rest of the week...
  • Family photo-shoot this weekend

Here is a picture I am sharing... Nathaniel only naps in his bouncer while snugly wrapped in a blanket.



The Paper Mama     Sweet Shot Day  
and then, she {snapped}   

Monday, November 29, 2010

Birthday and Christmas Spirit

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, I can hopefully finally focus at planning Nathaniel's two first birthday parties, preparing for our trip to Indiana in less than(!) three weeks, and the holidays. Dean also has his first DLPT next week so we really have to get through that first before anything else.

Christmas pajamas :)

Being a December baby, I knew a little bit of the birthday spotlight will be taken away from him because of the holidays. And I feel reeeally guilty that no matter how hard I try to focus, I still get sidetracked with all these holiday recipes floating around the web and thinking about affordable gifts to give our families for Christmas.


Because of this, I am even more determined to always celebrate his half-birthdays in June. And hopefully, it will not always be this busy in our household.

Can you believe this little man is turning one
in sixteen days? Wow-zah.


and then, she {snapped}       

Recipe: Pecan Covered Cheese Ball

Thankfully, we had a good and blessed Thanksgiving. We had twelve people over for Thanksgiving and everyone seem to had a good time. All the foods were delicious and we barely had any leftovers. I suspect that if we didn't buy a 23-pounder turkey, we wouldn't have any of that left either :)

Nathaniel enjoying a delicious triple chocolate
pumpkin pie on his first Thanksgiving

I originally made this cheese ball on our first hosted Thanksgiving last year and since Hubby loved it so much, I decided to serve it again this year. It is very easy to make and very versatile since you can use your favorite cheese and nut type/combination or whatever you have on hand.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes

I find that these taste better if made the day before to give the flavors enough time to blend together. For some reason, they are a little bit salty when consumed right away.

Makes 5 tennis ball-sized cheese balls

Ingredients:
  • 2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (1oz) package ranch dressing mix
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Directions:

In a medium size bowl, mash the cream cheese. Add dressing mix and cheese and continue to mix until evenly distributed.

Shape the mixture into a ball (about the size of a tennis ball). Roll the ball in the chopped pecans.

Refrigerate in a tight seal container until ready to serve.

Cheese options: Colby, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, etc.
Nuts options: Walnut, Pistachio, etc.

I hope you had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving, too!

Ni Hao Y'all  
MellowYellowMondayBadge

Friday, November 26, 2010

7 Days of Thanks: Day 7

Day 7: Freewill and the people who maintains that freedom to choose

I am thankful that God gave us the freewill to choose what we want to do. Instead of being like slaves, he gave us the option to choose to serve Him. And even if we fall off the narrow path, we could always go back to Him if we so choose and He will accept us with open arms. I am also thankful for the military service members that fight to keep that freedom. I am the first to admit that I probably took for granted what these people do and sacrifice just so we could be safe and do what we want without the fear of negative repercussion. And now that I personally know what those sacrifices entail, I know I was a fool for only now being truly thankful to them.

Thanksgiving with Airmen, Marines, Sailors, & Soldiers (+family)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

7 Days of Thanks: Day 6

Day 6: Two Working Vehicles

I am thankful that my husband and I each have our own vehicles. We've had them for more than four years and they're not the nicest vehicles out there but they don't give us problems and they get us from point A to point B. Nowadays, it is not really necessary for us to have two vehicles since I don't work anymore but it's good to know that Nathaniel and I can go wherever we want if we feel like it. It is also good to have that extra vehicle ready in case of an emergency. I am itching for a new vehicle (one that has more room for Nathaniel and his future siblings) but for now, I am content and grateful we have two working vehicles.

February 2007
Oh, how I both miss and NOT looking forward to snow next month in Indiana :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

7 Days of Thanks: Day 5

Day 5: Internet

This might seem silly to be thankful about but the internet allows us to stay connected and up-to-date with our family and friends especially since we are thousands upon thousands of miles apart. It indulges my addiction to cooking and baking and helps us save a few bucks with the deals found here, here, here, and here. I'm able to access this video within seconds whenever Nathaniel gets cranky and needs it to lift his mood up. I know my husband is thankful for the internet too because it means he can play this, although it has been months if not more than a year since he had really sat down and played this game. Internet sure does make our lives just a little bit easier.

Christmas 2009 present from Hubby

The Simple Woman's Daybook


The Simple Woman's Daybook
For Today (November 23, 2010)

Outside my window... Rainy and cold 54 degrees

I am thinking... what a great idea it was to buy our Thanksgiving groceries last night. The Commissary is normally close on Mondays so a lot of people did not know they were open yesterday to give people extra time to go grocery shopping :)

I am thankful for... the base for giving us $50 commissary voucher. We used that money to buy food for Thanksgiving and in turn we're paying in forward by feeding eleven people (who would normally just eat at the chow hall).

From the kitchen... freshly made cheese balls---all ready for Thursday!

I am wearing... my white-water rafting shirt from West Virginia, pjs

I am going... to Michaels to look at cookie cutters

I am re-reading... Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I am hoping... for no food mishaps!

I am hearing... The rain and wind outside

Around the house In the fridge... a 23 lbs turkey

One of my favorite things... cooking :)

Inspired by the church song... 
"Do you know my Jesus?
Do you know my friend?
Have you heard He loves you?
And that He will abide till the end?"

A few plans for the rest of the week...
  • Bake the pies tonight
  • Start a few of the side dishes on Wednesday
  • Thanksgiving! (& shopping?)
  • Four day weekend with Hubby and a "mandatory fun" with his platoon on Sunday afternoon

Here is a picture I am sharing... 11.22.10 Nathaniel was eating ginger snap cookies and Daddy leaned over for a kiss. But Dean got this instead...
They make my heart so happy :)



Monday, November 22, 2010

7 Days of Thanks: Day 4

Day 4: Military Benefits---Housing and Health Insurance

I am grateful that even though military pay is close to pittance, we at least never have to worry about making sure we have enough to pay our house and utilities and to keep our medical insurance. Especially in this economy where families are losing their homes because of the inability to make the payments, mortgage is one less thing we have to worry about. And God-forbid one of us gets in an accident or get really, really sick, we at least do not have to debate about seeking medical help because of the fear of medical bills.


My calla lilies are finally blooming!

Silhouette Machine Giveaway

Silhouette Machine Giveaway

I would love, love, LOVE to win this giveaway! Think of all the creative and wonderful things I could do. And I would be so grateful if I win this giveaway because I can take my son's first birthday party next month to a whole new level!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

7 Days of Thanks: Day 3

Day 3: Church and Fellowship

Being in the military means friends are always coming and going and one of the many benefits of being a member of Church of Christ is you make/have instant friends. We have been here in California for a little over a year and we finally found a church that welcomes and makes us feel like our Church in Indiana. We first attended a different congregation for eight months but it never felt quite at home. The people were nice but even after several months, we still felt like newcomers. We visited different locations and finally placed membership with the congregation in Marina. I really love the fellowship and also happy that the preacher's wife has a baby (youngest of three) who is older than Nathaniel by just a little over a month. I enjoy coming to the weekly ladies class and getting to know everyone while growing deeper with Christ. For a long while, I struggled with only having acquaintances here in our military lifestyle because I can't find anyone that share our beliefs (and I don't mean just spiritual) and/or are in the same walks of life (junior enlisted, new mother, not a teenager, etc.). Being part of the Church allows me to have sincere friends that also help keep our family in the straight and narrow path.


  September 2009
My baby shower with ladies from our Church in Indiana

Saturday, November 20, 2010

7 Days of Thanks: Day 1 & 2

I am a day behind but I am joining a fellow mama/blogger with her 7 Days of Thanks. Hannah is encouraging us to blog everyday for seven days about something or someone we are thankful for. I hesitated at first because it seems like quite a commitment but then it hit me: coming up with ONLY seven things to be thankful for should not be such a difficult task---after all, I consider myself one blessed woman. And so, here are my Day 1 and Day 2 of 7 Days of Thanks.


Day 1: My own Family

I am thankful for my husband who is not only my life-partner but also my best friend. He knows how to comfort me and how to push my buttons. He provides for us, leads us, and tries to always put us as his top priority, which could be challenging when one is serving in the military. Dean is by no means perfect but he gives his all to be the best husband to me and father to our child.

May 16, 2008
by Kevin Monahan Photography

I am also thankful for my little boy. It has been such a blessing to be Nathaniel's earthly parent and being given the opportunity to raise a good person. He is not always easy to take care of (he can be very high maintenance sometimes!) but I take comfort in knowing that God has trusted me with Nathaniel knowing full well that I am capable of raising a God-fearing child.


November 2010

Day 2: Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

I still look at my nurse and mommy friends and feel a little pang of jealousy that they are able to do both. I want to be a good mother and a good nurse. I want to raise my son and save a life. I want to do both. And then I realize that my job/role as a stay-at-home mother is not a right but a privilege. Not every mother can afford to stay at home full time and serve their husband and raise their children. And so even though we don't have very much money due to being a one-income family (from a military income even!), I trust that I am exactly where God wants me to be. I am trying to be grateful about being a SAHM 100% of every. single. day.---not 97% like most days.

These two are the best and worst bosses ever! :P

 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook


The Simple Woman's Daybook
For Today (November 16, 2010)

Outside my window... Sunny 55 degrees

I am thinking... I need to finalize our Thanksgiving menu and start the grocery shopping list.

I am thankful for... my marriage. Today is our half-year wedding anniversary: 2.5 years and counting!

From the kitchen... homemade hummus and pita bread

I am wearing... Red blouse, shorts

I am going... to Goodwill to see if they have decent pie glass plates. I only have one and I'm making 2-3 pies for Thanksgiving.

I am reading... for leisure: none; The Daily Devotional Bible---currently at Ruth and Luke (plus Psalms & Proverbs of course)

I am hoping/praying... my cousin in the Philippines is starting to feel better. He was admitted in the hospital yesterday and we're still waiting to hear how he is doing now :(

I am hearing... Nathaniel is starting to get cranky. It is only 9:40am but he is already nearing the I-need-a-nap stage. We are still trying to adjust with the time change due to DST *sigh*

Around the house... an early Christmas present from Hubby: Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer!!!

One of my favorite things... discounts and deals.

Inspired by the church song...
"I have found a friend in Jesus, He's ev'rything to me,
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole:
In sorrow He's my comfort, in trouble He's my stay;
He tells me ev'ry care on Him to roll;
He's the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul!"

A few plans for the rest of the week... other than normal church activities/events tonight, Wednesday night and on Sunday, I have a Girl's Nite In with a few Marine spouses on Friday night

Here is a picture I am sharing... 11.14.10 I love his little chubby baby fingers :)


Eleven Months Old

Nathaniel is 11 months old today!

The little one knows how to clap, wave hi and goodbye, and give high five. He says buh-ba (bye) while waving and even attempts to say high five (haa-pa). It sounds a little like high five and he only makes this sound whenever we ask for it. Nathaniel still uses his modified crab-walk to move around but we know he can crawl properly because he will do so whenever he is on bed or carpet. He is also able to stand on his own for a few seconds so we're hoping he will take his first steps soon. Nathaniel is becoming more and more of a Daddy's boy and often cries while knocking on the door whenever Dean leaves.



I can't believe this is his last month as an infant! Time sure does fly fast.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

235th USMC Ball

It has been a great four-day weekend with the family. The Marine Corps ball was last Wednesday and we took advantage of the free meal for veterans on Thursday with a couple of other service members. We started and finished the last season of House (it has been in our DVR for over a year!) and we even went to see Megamind in theaters. I am very sad to see this mini-vacation end but we only have this full week before we have another 96 because of Thanksgiving. Yay!

Anyway, here are few pictures from the Ball...


The Devil Dog in his sexy dress blues and his adorable Devil Pup


Ceremony
There wasn't a sitting arrangement this year so we chose a table where we could actually see what's happening!


We left shortly after dinner and saying hi to everybody.
Nathaniel stayed at home with two lovely female Airmen and they all seem to have had a good time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Recipe: Homemade Protein Bars & a 235th Birthday!

Today is the United States Marine Corps' 235th birthday! My Marine and I will be attending our second ball tonight and I'm excited to see everyone all dressed up. I am also very happy about the long weekend ahead of us.

Since we all know staying fit is one of the top priorities of Marines, I'm sharing the recipe for the protein bars I often make for my husband. They are delicious and pack full of nutrients without the nasty preservatives and chemicals. It is so easy to make and will keep in the freezer for months.




Makes 12 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup oats
  • 4 scoops of chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup dry nonfat milk
  • 1 cup total of your choice of dried fruits and nuts (I use whatever dried fruits & nuts package is on sale at the time)
  • 5 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions:

Mix all ingredients until everything is incorporated (it will be very sticky!). Spoon into a square pan lined with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for two hours or until firm. Cut and individually wrap with plastic wrap. Store in the freezer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recipe: Filipino Fried Rice

My grandmother often used leftover rice we had for dinner by cooking fried rice for breakfast the next day. Growing up, it was one of my favorite breakfast dishes but since it is usually just me and the little one for breakfast, I tweaked this recipe so it could be more substantial, nutritious, and fit for dinner that the whole family can enjoy.


Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (12oz) Hickory Smoke Spam, cubed
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2-3 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3 cups cooked rice (preferably a day old)
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (optional)

Directions:

Sautee onions and Spam in vegetable oil. When onions are soft and translucent, add garlic and cook for a couple minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk together. Pour mixture into the wok/pot and stir constinously until eggs are cooked.

Add rice, vegetables, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Continue to cook until rice and vegetables are hot.

Entertainment for the Neighbors

I have always wondered what our neighbors see and think when they look through our windows. Well, now I know!









Photos by Hubby

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nathaniel's Best Friend


Nathaniel loves our four and half year old Miniature Pinscher Riley. They chase each other all day and Nathaniel learned that he can bribe Riley to come near him by giving her food. I remember bringing Nathaniel home from the hospital and crying because I was afraid that our dog will attack him because Riley has never been around babies before. But she is very gentle with Nathaniel and I am actually afraid of Nathaniel hurting the poor little dog.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Christmas Cards & A Special Shutterfly Offer!

Christmas is still (or is it only?) seven weeks away with Thanksgiving smack right in the middle but I am already thinking about our Christmas cards for this year. This will be our third year and I am very excited about picking one this year because I can take my time to select and design a family Christmas card. Unlike last year, I was too busy being nine months pregnant, then taking care of a newborn and learning how to be a new mother to really enjoy Christmas. What a shame really since it's my favorite holiday!

This year, we will be purchasing our cards from Shutterfly. I have purchased several products from their site before (photobooks, cards, prints, etc.) and have been pleased every time with the quality of their product. I love that they guarantee that if you are not happy with your order, they will either replace it or give you a full refund---but this is an option that I still have yet to take advantage of. They offer many different kinds of holiday or Christmas cards and ones that can be personalized with your own photos this year and it is so difficult to choose our favorite. For now, we have narrowed it down to three:

Full of Love
Simply yet very elegant. I love the light opacity of the "banner" in front of the picture.

Who doesn't love snow especially on Christmas?

French Vintage
This card does not look very festive but I love the old-fashion feel of it!

I have been offered 50 free cards for this post but every statement is from me and it's honest. Find out how you can get your own free personalized holiday cards here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Recipe: Pumpkin Bread

I was never really a fan of pumpkin bread but it is one of my husband's favorites so I surprised him with this after being away at work for two days a couple weeks ago. Well, this is now also one of my favorite bread! It is so delicious and moist and the spices sing harmoniously in your taste buds. It reminds of Starbucks' pumpkin bread but even better because it doesn't have any preservatives and you get an entire loaf for the price of their one slice.

Makes 2 - 9x5 inch loaf pans (or 3 - 7x3 inch loaf pans)

Ingredients:
  • 1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree (or fresh)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9x5 (or three 7x3 inch) loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.

Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.


Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

I added 1 cup of chocolate chips in my second loaf pan to make
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Sing and Be Happy

Sing and Be Happy is one of my favorite church songs and I absolutely love singing it with my husband. It really is one of those songs that lifts your heart especially on long days like today.

If the skies above you are gray, You are feeling so blue,
If your cares and burdens seem great all the whole day through,
There's a silver lining that shines in the heavenly land,
Look by faith and see it my friend, Trust in His promises grand.


(Chorus)
Sing and you'll be happy today, Press along to the goal,
Trust in Him who leadeth the way, He is keeping your soul,
Let the world know where you belong, Look to Jesus and pray,
Lift your voice and praise Him in song, Sing and Be Happy Today!


Often we are troubled and tried, Sick with sorrow and pain,
There are others living in sin blest with earthly gain,
Take new courage we cannot tell what the morrow may bring,
When the dark clouds vanish away then your heart truly can sing.


Oft we fail the see the rainbow up in heaven's fair sky,
When it seems the fortunes of earth frown and pass us by,
There are things we know that are worth more than silver and gold,
If we hope and trust Him each day, We shall have pleasure untold.
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