Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell 2012

I can't believe it's the last day of 2012. Two hours from now it will be a new year. Another 12 months of experiences, chances, opportunities, memories, laughter, frustration, love, dog slobber, new recipes, hugs, kisses, school, and so much more.

I am so grateful for the past year. It was full of so many new things for me, so many good experiences, moments, and memories I will treasure. Lots of moments of growth, and opportunities to give of my time, my heart, my home, and to feel so blessed in return. One year ago I was on day 2 of hospital bed rest with twin girls at just 28 weeks of pregnancy. Kenneth was in transit to Afghanistan and I was terrified and anxious about what the coming months would hold for me and the babies I was carrying. I worried for their parents, I worried for my home and my son who I couldn't be there for. Thankfully I was able to return home and carried them for another month and a half before delivery but that entire pregnancy was very eventful compared to my previous ones and a new learning experience for me. I learned to ask for help, to rely on the kindness of strangers, and to be so very blessed by all the help that was offered and given during that time. Kenneth was gone most of the year, he returned home this past October and we are so thankful we had the chance to share the Holidays with him this year! He has a brand new job opportunity which will keep him home starting in another week and I am hoping it goes well and he will enjoy it. He hasn't had a "regular" at home job in YEARS so this is a big change for all of us.

Kent is now 14 years old, and growing like a weed. He's grown at least 3 inches this past year, and continues to mature and develop into a young man day by day. It is such a challenge and an honor to be his mother. I love him so much, and love watching him grow, and struggle with his struggles and yearn to be able to wave a magic wand and make these years easier for him. I know it's something each of us has to go through and deal with, learning to mature and develop and grow. I just never realized how much my heart would be invested in each up and down that he goes through, wanting nothing but his happiness and to see him learn to love himself even a little as much as I love him.

We have been blessed to work with Rotts N Pups Rescue for another year and have had the pleasure of fostering numerous puppies and dogs over this past year. It has been a fabulous experience. Kenneth and Kent get burned out on it every now and then, but I would have the house full to overflowing with foster dogs if it were up to just me! I love them all so much and love being a part of helping them find their very own forever homes. I love having puppies around to snuggle with and play with and then send them off to their homes, keeping my fingers crossed for an occasional update or picture. We're currently fostering Miss Maddy who is a WONDERFUL rottie! I adore her and know she'll find a wonderful home in no time. Anyone would be SO lucky to have this beautiful girl!!

I quit my job of 8 years in May and started to college for the first time in June, another huge "first" for me! I have wanted to pursue my college education for so long and am SO ecstatic I am finally getting that opportunity. I am done with 2 semesters so far and am looking forward to starting number 3 in a little over a week! I can't wait to get through all the pre-requisites and be able to apply to the nursing program and start making progress on the core classes. I am so thankful for each day I am there. I get stressed out over assignments, and due dates, and tests, but I love all of it!

We have also been volunteering once a week at McKenna Horse Therapy Farm near our home, another great organization I'm so thankful we have had the chance to work with. I discovered them through a class requirement about 6 months ago and have completely fallen in love with the horses and what they do at McKenna. We get to spend a couple hours a week there helping feed the horses and bring them in on Friday evenings and I love it. It's really fun to do it all together as a family and I love coming home smelling like horses! :)

It has been a really good year, I am thankful for my family and friends and will hold the memories I've made this year close to my heart. I know 2013 is going to be another amazing year, and can't wait to see all that it will hold!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tuna & Noodles

This is a super easy, fast, and yummy comfort food dish! We don't get to enjoy it very often but we all love this one. It's great for a quick dinner or a weekend lunch.

This is one of the recipes from my mother in law, given to me and my hubby on our wedding day in a now very beat up little recipe booklet. I love all the recipes I've collected over the years, the ones from that book, the one from my first real cook book, and many I've found on allrecipes.com so I finally created our own family recipe book and printed it to make it easier for us to locate our family favorites, and hopefully one day I can pass them on to my son when he finds his future wife! :)


Tuna and Noodles

Ingredients
1 can tuna, drained
1 cup milk, approximately
1 can green peas, drained
1 can mushrooms, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3-4 cups (dry) egg noodles

Directions
  1. Boil water and cook noodles until tender. Drain.
  2. Simultaneously, in a medium to large saucepan combine the soup, milk, and cheese. When cheese is melted, add tuna, mushrooms, and peas. Heat until sauce is warm.
  3. Gently stir in noodles and serve.




Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our last two foster puppies!

I usually love to post tons of pictures as soon as we have a new foster baby to share - but for whatever reason the past couple weeks have been really crazy for me. We were gone to Kenneth's parents home for 4 days for Christmas (which was wonderful) and have been on the go it feels like the entire break! All three of us being home all day has made the days feel even busier at times than it did when I was in school. There are always errands to run, things to get done around the house, etc. I feel like I'm on "catch up" mode all the time!

I wanted to share a couple pictures though of the last two foster dogs we were lucky enough to have. Rocky we found at the animal shelter where he was picked up as a stray and had been there for weeks with no one giving him any attention at all, according to the officers at the shelter which really surprised us because he is a GORGEOUS boy! He did have some issues with our other dogs and we chose to keep them separate. He seemed to be very over stimulated by other dogs and wanted to sniff them constantly, get on top of them, and just generally aggravate them. Our dogs were either very irritated by him or scared of him, so we just rotated them all around between the house and the yard and tried to make sure everyone got their fair share of attention each day!

We got Nala about a week or two before Rocky went to his new home (right before Christmas!) She was an ADORABLE puppy who we all totally fell in love with. She was so playful, super smart, and a very happy little girl. She cracked me up constantly and I loved my puppy snuggles with her. She learned "sit" while she was with us and though of course we had the normal puppy clean ups with her, she was such a great little girl and I loved the time we got to have her in our home! I was thrilled when she got to go home, not long after Christmas, but miss her too. Of course, we already have a new foster "baby" (if you can call an 83 lb rottweiler a baby! :D ) so that always helps with missing ones who have been adopted and gone home! 

Here are some super cute pics of Miss Nala Bear Bunny Puppy! 




Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We had a WONDERFUL four days at Kenneth's parents home at Walnut Mountain. They live up at the top of the mountain with a spectacular view and in a cozy log cabin and it is a perfect getaway for some R&R. We get to sleep in the "Africa Room" down in the basement which is dark and cozy and I sleep so GOOD in there! I love it!! :)

There were some wonderful moments, and I took a TON of pictures! Here are a few I wanted to share.

Great Family Photo with the view of the mountains behind! My sister in law April with her husband David, my other sister in law Maggie, Kenneth's parents, me and Kenneth and Kent!
Of course we had to take at least one silly one too!
The beautiful tree surrounded by lots of goodies!!
Kent and Phoebe playing Basset 500 around the coffee table!
"Cousin" Snuggles! :)
Had to share at least one picture of the fantabulous "leg lamp" and Kenneth in his natural habitat on his tablet. :)
Kenneth and Phoebe sharing a moment...
Ken and Kenneth assembling one of Kent's Christmas presents!
I just love this one of Ken! 
Kenneth is now prepared in case of Zombie Apocalypse.
One of my super cute presents from my hubby!

Sporting my Christmas "loot"!
And just because Phoebe is adorable and a perfect way to end the pictures! :)
It was a WONDERFUL Christmas. We had a great time sharing a few days with Kenneth's family and I am thankful for our time with them. Lots of good time to relax, time to work on a Christmas puzzle, family games, and lots of great meals together. It was perfect! MERRY CHRISTMAS to all!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Acapulco Delight

This is one of the recipes that was in the homemade recipe notebook from my mother-in-law, Donna, given to me and Kenneth at our wedding 14 1/2 years ago! This is actually the first time I've made it, it's amazing, but there are still a few recipes in there that I haven't tried out.

It's a pretty simple recipe, very filling, you can tweak to your preferences pretty easily and it makes a big pan of food!

The biggest change I would make in the future is omitting the sour cream layer and maybe adding a thin layer of queso instead. I'm not a big fan of the way sour cream comes out after being baked in dishes like this. It changes the texture a lot, and I think I'd rather add a dollop of sour cream on the plate next to the baked dish next time. I'd also add a little more taco seasoning to the meat to make sure the dish doesn't come out bland since the only real strong flavor comes from the meat.


Acapulco Delight (from Donna)
Serves 10

Ingredients
2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 can mushrooms, drained (optional)
1 12-oz jar salsa
1 pkg dry taco seasoning (more to taste)
1 large can refried beans (or use 1 can pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed well)
1 pint sour cream
1 can sliced olives (optional)
6-10 corn tortillas
Grated cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet with the diced onion. Cook about 15 minutes, or until no longer pink. Drain.
  2. Add taco seasoning, mushrooms, and salsa to ground beef; let simmer. Spread half of meat mixture on bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Add tortillas to cover and sprinkle generously with cheddar cheese. Add more tortillas to cover cheese. Spread on the beans, then sour cream. Cover generously with olives. Add more tortillas. Cover with remaining meat sauce, and finish with more cheese. 
  3. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Monday, December 03, 2012

Delicious Fall Pear Crisp

A month or so ago I received a bunch of pear's in my bi-weekly Farmer's Market Basket. I'm really the only one that eats them and they are only ripe for such a brief period of time that I ended up slicing them and putting them in the freezer until I could figure out a good use for them.

We got a few more pears in last week's basket and I was trying to think of what I could do with those and was browsing through a cookbook I haven't had the chance to use yet and found a Homestead Pear Crisp Recipe. I'm so glad I found it!! It was SO good!! The topping is like slightly crunchy and really tasty granola, and the filling was tender and perfectly seasoned and thickened with the add-ins. I had drained off quite a bit of the liquid from the pears and wish I hadn't so there would have been more bubbly "sauce" under the topping.

To get the pears ready, I boiled a large pan of water and put the frozen pears in skin-side down for about 30 seconds each and then peeled the skins right off of them. Definitely a little messy, but very easy way to remove the skins from frozen fruits!


Ingredients

Crisp:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 peeled Bartlett pears, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 pounds)
Cooking spray

Topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
1 cup regular oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces


Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To prepare crisp, combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Spray a 9x13 baking dish lightly with cooking spray and pour pear mix into it, press gently to make an even layer.
  3. To prepare topping, combine flour, oats, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle flour mixture over the pear mixture evenly. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until topping is golden and fruit is tender. 
  4. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or enjoy after it cools. Delicious either way!