Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 {At the Beach}

This year for Thanksgiving we started a new tradition.... Turkey day (or week) at the beach! :)


Pretty cool tradition, right? The Tuesday before Thanksgiving we loaded up the car and the kiddos and headed due East to Panama City Beach, Florida. We were joined by Jason's family members from Ohio and North Carolina for one big get together in warm, sunny, sandy PCB. 

I now invite you to sit back and prepare to be photo-bombed. :)

I love this picnic table. Someday I will recreate it!

We spent A LOT of time in the sand. Our boys couldn't get enough of it. We flew kites, played bocce ball, dug holes, tossed around the football and dodged in and out of the water in bare feet. Heaven.

Jason's Mom was an ultra-planner and prepared everything we needed to have our own Thanksgiving feast at the beach house. It was delicious! And, yes, those are Grandma's red macaronis. Yum!

Jason's parents really wanted to celebrate Christmas a family, since we won't be going to Ohio this year for the holiday. So they brought down a little tree and even decorated it! We had our own small Christmas while we were there. The boys just loved it. :)

Aidan loved the playdoh set that he got as a gift.

And the sunsets... oh how beautiful they were! The sun seemed to set so quickly though, so you really had to be ready with your camera or you'd miss it. I've never seen such beautiful colors! :)


So there we have it. A wonderful family vacation at the beach. We can't wait to do it again next year! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Handmade Gift Exchange {What I Made} and an Announcement!

Hello friends. It's been awhile, huh?

Did you enjoy your Thanksgiving? Our  little family certainly did. We took almost a week off, disconnected from the outside world and reconnected with our family at a beachfront home in Florida for the holiday. It was awesome. (More about our trip tomorrow!)

I feel like I've been so incredibly busy. The holidays tend to turn us into mad women, rushing around decorating, gift buying and just trying to get it all done. Am I right?

This year, I decided to add to the chaos and I joined in on the Handmade Gift Exchange that Linda at Craftaholics Anonymous hosts twice a year. And I'm so glad I did!

How does it work? Well, you sign up and then get paired up with another crafty gal. You two chat a bit, discover what the other one likes and then you create a personal, handmade gift for your craft exchange buddy.

Here's what I made for my buddy this time around.

 In case you can't tell, it's a Christmas-themed, monogram wreath to display on her front door, or anywhere  else in her home. Do you like it?

I love the little leaves, berries and bells cluster that I added. Such a fun touch! :)

 To make your own you'll need:
* Yarn
* Hot glue gun
* Any little extra accessories you'd like to add
* Time and PATIENCE!

These wreaths definitely take time to come out  right... and you need patience to get the yarn to stay just right on the ends of the letters. But, it's definitely worth it for the final product! :)

I mailed this out a few days ago, so it should be arriving soon. I'm so excited to see what my buddy made for me! :)

I guess I should also add, that I will be opening my own Etsy Shop this January!! It's been in the works for about 3 months now and I'm super excited to share my craft with you. I'll be selling yarn wreaths, yarn monograms and monogram yarn wreaths (like the one above). I'll be sure to share more info as my opening gets closer! :)

Have you ever participated in a Craft Exchange? Interested in signing up for one? Linda hosts one twice a year. Be sure to sign up for her next one! :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On Being Thankful

I will be the first to tell you that I am not the most religious of people. But, ever since I stumbled upon this quote, it has changed my nightly prayer routine immensely.

Every night I thank God for Jason, Aidan and Connor. For our health, our home, family, friends, Jason's job and for not needing anything. And for blessing me with all that I have. I am truly lucky and I know it.

What would you have if this were to come true tomorrow morning? What do you thank your God for?

Just something to think about on this, the eve of our Thanksgiving Day. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Purpose and Laughter

One of the purposes for rearranging our master bedroom was to have more open space. A place where the kids can play while I'm getting ready in the morning, a spot to lie on the floor to read a book, or just another space to go to have some quiet time while the other sibling is napping.

So far, it's been a wonderful use of space. It's purpose is being used every single day. And this makes me happy. :)


I want our home to comfortable and inviting. I want it to feel lived in. And I do not want our children to think that any area is off limits. I feel as if we are well on our way to making our bedroom not only child-friendly, but family friendly.


Once my vision is complete, I see us having movie night with our little guys snuggled up with us on soft cushions, sharing popcorn and laughing at a Disney film. I see them bringing in their legos and trucks and playing on the floor, without fear of getting in Mommy's way. These thoughts and visions bring a smile to my face. :)

Before we literally had no extra space and I found myself constantly getting irritated when the kids would want to play while I was getting stuff done in our bedroom. It always felt as if I was scolding them for wandering into the bedroom, usually just because they wanted to be near me. And it made me sad and frustrated. 


But now? Well, now things are looking up! :)

Connor and I have been making great use of the bedroom while Aidan is napping. Since my two boys rarely nap together these days, I find it's easier to hide away in our room so that the other one can sleep uninterrupted. I'm always in a constant fear of making too much noise while we're in the living room and having the sleeping child wake up unrested and irritable.

So, now on an almost daily basis we go into our new "fun spot" and play. We laugh, we run and we enjoy each other's company without worrying about making too much noise. It's wonderful. :)

One of Connor's favorite games to play is peekaboo with our bathroom door. He closes it and then pulls it open, peeks his little head around and let's out a loud belly laugh. His smile melts my heart. This boy is going to be trouble!
I'm still amazed at what a little bit of furniture rearranging has done for our home life. I don't feel as stressed out about not having a play room for the boys. I'm happy that we are able to play to our hearts content and laugh together as loud as we'd like without fear of waking up a sleeping child. And it's so much easier for me to get ready in the mornings. I'm not constantly peaking my head out the door to make sure they're getting into trouble while I'm not looking.


Do you feel that your rooms are serving their purpose? Are you using them to their fullest extent? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Grandma Ginny's Red Macaronis {Recipe}

Don't you love Grandma's cooking? There's really nothing else like it. :)

Jason's Grandma is known for her cooking. At Christmas times she bakes DOZENS of cookies, both sugar and anise flavored. Jason is a sucker for her anise cookies and she sends them down to Houston for us every year. :) She also makes a recipe that we Norris' affectionately call, Red Macaronis.

They are AMAZING. Out of this world. Grandma makes them as a side dish for all of the major holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, every year.  But, ever since I was given the recipe by Jason's aunt, I've been making it as an actual meal for our family from time to time. The boys LOVE it... and anything that my two toddlers will eat is a golden recipe at our house. :)

Today, I'm sharing it with you! Just a warning though, this is in no way a healthy dish. Want proof? Here are the 5 ingredients you need to make your own red macaronis:

Yep, velveeta, macaroni, tomato juice, butter and sugar. I don't think this would  make Dr. Oz proud! But, just wait until you taste these bad boys. It's worth it to break the "healthy eating" rules and indulge in this delicious dish every once and awhile. :)

And now for the how-to. :)

Grandma Ginny's Red Macaronis

1 pound of elbow macaroni, cooked
16 oz. Velveeta, cut into cubes
1 can tomato juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick of butter, cut into cubes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Pour half of macaroni into casserole dish. Top with half of cheese, tomato juice, sugar and butter. Cover with other half of macaroni and add remaining ingredients on top.
3. Bake uncovered for 50-55 minutes.

If making in crockpot, set crock pot to high and follow step 2 to layer ingredients. Cook for 1 hour. Stir, then turn crockpot on low and cook for additional 30-45 minutes.

You can find a printable version of this recipe here.

I'd  love to know if you decided to make this dish. It would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving table on Thursday. :)

What is your favorite dish that your Grandma makes?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Young House Love Book Signing {Houston 2012}

Yesterday was an awesome day. Like, one of the most awesome days I've had in a LONG time!

Other than my wedding day, of course. Which can never really be topped.

So I guess it was one of the most awesomest days ever except for that time I got married to my soul mate! :)

Last night I went to the Young House Love book signing with my lovely friend, Lydia. We arrived at West Elm around 5pm, about an hour before it started. On the way we stopped off at Starbucks for a Peppermint Mocha (me) and a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (her). It was just the beginning of our fabulous evening! :)


If you are from Houston, then you know that the Highland Village area is a parking/driving nightmare. We lucked out and got a spot DIRECTLY in front of the the store. What are the odds? From then, we just knew we were in for a good night. We walked right  up to the store and realized that was no line at all outside. From reading other bloggers experiences, like Chelsea from 221 who waited 4 hours in line to see them in Chicago, I was expecting a line wrapped around the building and down the block.

Not so here in busy Houston, where the book signing was scheduled for 6pm. I walked into West Elm to find the restroom (too much peppermint mocha + nerves= potty break) and saw that there was a decent line inside the store. Luckily Lydia had grabbed a spot in line for us outside and by the time I got back, there were all ready over 50 people behind us. We were just in the nick of time! :)

While waiting we made friends with two pregnant women behind us and talked about all things baby and Mommy-related. It's always nice to have good line buddies. Because, let's face it, bad line buddies suck. Soon it was time for the cookies and hot cocoa to be passed out. Lydia snagged the last house and I was able to get the last heart. See? Good evening. Our line buddies were stuck with plain, undecorated gingerbread cookies. Definitely not as cool.


Once 6 o'clock rolled around the line started to move and before we knew it we were inside of the store. It was all dress up for Christmas and I wanted to buy everything inside. I don't think Jason would've been too pleased with that. Luckily for him, I was not on a shopping mission, but instead on a book signing mission. :)


After about 45 minutes of waiting inside we were up to the very front of the line. John and Sherry were in our vision and Lydia and I were both nervous. What would we say to them? Should we act all cool? Should we cry? Hmm... Decisions, decisions.

And then, the coolest thing ever happened! A local bakery made this awesome cake for John's birthday and the staff at West Elm decided it was time to sing to him. While we were right there at the front of the line! I was able to video tape the whole thing. Hurrah!

Here it is:

 The cake was seriously awesome. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a good picture of it. But, here's a picture that Sherry took and posted on their instagram. And here's my picture of Sherry taking a picture of the cake. Ha!

 John and Sherry are such a normal couple. That's what I really love about them. They're  not stuck-up or snobby, they're just goofy like Jason and I. We'd definitely be BFFs if we lived near each other. (Does that sound stalkerish? It's not my intention, I swear!)

Before we knew it if was our turn... We walked up to their table where John and Sherry were waiting with big smiles on their faces. And here's how our conversation went:

John & Sherry: Hey guys, how's it going?
Me & Lydia: *speechless for a few seconds*
Me: Oh, well, we were just talking about kegels.

(Sidenote: I had to desperately pee again while we were in line but was afraid of leaving in case I missed anything. And I would've missed the happy birthday singing if I had gotten out of line. So then I started talking to our line buddies about how your kegels are never the same once you have kids and I was afraid that if I laughed/sneezed too hard I'd pee my pants)
Lydia: *nervous laughter*
John: What are kegels?
Sherry: They're vagina exercises, honey.

Yea... that happened. Awesome. 
Then one of the West Elm employees brought over a tape measure from John's cake that was all decorated with fondant, but it was also actually a piece of cake, too. The tape measure said "John 31" on it, since it was his 31st birthday. So then we discussed how it could be confused with John 3:16 and how he kind of had his own bible verse and whatnot.
It was funny and weird and they made both of us feel immediately relaxed. Then we had our obligatory photo taken with them and it was over.

Afterward, Lydia and I browsed West Elm and then headed a few doors down to Anthropologie. It was buzzing with activity and there was fancy food laid out on all of the tables. We asked around and found out that we had just missed a fashion show. But what we didn't miss was the free champagne that they were passing out. Score! 

After deciding if we should drop some serious cash, (we decided NOT) we dropped into P.F. Chang's for a delicious dinner.

See? Perfect night :)

I'm so glad that I got to meet John and Sherry, discuss vagina exercises and have them sign my copy of their book. 
What'd YOU do last night?
Happy Friday, folks. :)


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