Friday, December 31, 2010

A Look Back at 2010

So, I wasn’t going to write a review of the year.  I don’t know why.  I guess I thought it was kinda cliché or something.  But this morning as I have been catching up on all my blog-reading, EVERYONE is doing it. And I’ve really enjoyed reading about everyone’s high and low moments of 2010 and I like knowing what goals others are working toward.  So that brings me to this post I’m about to write.  Since there are only 7 hours left in 2010, I better get on it quick.  So these are some of the moments/hours/days/experiences I most remember about this year.  Many of these are things that weren’t in my blog, because I didn’t start my blog until August of 2010.

Our “baby” turned two years old!  WOW!  Where does the time go?  It seems like just a few months a go she was this tiny little baby.  And now she’s running all over the place, speaking in complete sentences and ordering her own food at restaurants (yes, she really does this!)  We actually celebrated together since her first birthday party was cancelled due to snow.  Our birthdays are only 5 days apart.

You know, with the recession, we’ve all been hearing about the rate of people without jobs and how many people have been affected.  Well, Ryan and I were like everyone else.  We thought, “Wow.  This is terrible.”  But we weren’t personally affected, so it didn’t really impact is.  Until March of this year, that is.  My husband’s school district decided to eliminate several positions from their payroll.  And his job as Assistant Principal was one of them.  Fortunately, there was a P.E. job for him (that’s what he taught before going into administration).  However, his job that he loved and had worked so hard for was gone.  And so was about 1/3 of our income.  It hit us pretty hard.  However, he’s handled it so well—much better than I could have.  We’ve had to learn how to budget—I mean REALLY budget.  For the first time, we’ve really had to think about wants vs.. needs.  But I think it’s made us both stronger. 

July was an incredible month—I received my Zumba Instructor License! 

I was so excited to go to the Instructor workshop… and then I realized how much I still had to learn!  I spent the rest of the summer choreographing and practicing so that hopefully one day i would have my own class.  And then it happened!  I am teaching 2 classes a week now.  

Also in July… I got to watch my sister get married!  It was such a special day and she was a beautiful bride!  She and her new husband David are now settled into their house and doing great.

I started working a a new school… sort of.  My school, Harold C. Johnson Middle School closed in order to be renovated into an elementary school.  I am now working at York Intermediate School with 5th and 6th grade students.  I miss so many of my colleagues that moved to other schools, but I love all the new colleagues I have met. 

I started this blog in August.  I have been so inspired by many other bloggers.  I had no idea so many of you were out there!  Check out my Blog roll for some of my favorites.  This blog has helped me to try new foods, learn new techniques, and meet people from all over the world! 

I hosted a dinner party featuring pomegranates and created recipes such as Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins and Breakfast Cups!

Finally, my family said goodbye to our special dog, Rosie, on Christmas Eve.  We got Rosie when I was in college.  She was such a sweet and special dog.  She was really my mom’s fourth child, because she was there when all of us moved out and my mom retired.  We will all miss her so much. 

So there you have it….  There have been some highs and some lows this year, but it’s all been a learning experience.  There has been a lot of laughter and tears this year—sometimes both at the same time.  I am ready to see what 2011 has in store. I hope you’ll stay with me for the ride.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another Review: Kashi Toasted Berry Crumble Cereal

I am a member of Vocal Point.  Have you heard of it?  If not, it’s awesome.  If you fit the “profile” of person they are looking for, they will send you free products from time to time and ask you to give feedback.  There’s not much I like better than free gifts in my mailbox!  Last week, I opened the mailbox to find a sample of this Kashi Cereal.  I decided to make it my pre-workout snack today. 


P.S. – I made that bowl with my own two hands! :)



I basically love everything Kashi makes.  I really liked this cereal.  It kept its “crunch” the whole time and has yummy berries mixed in.  It was really delicious!

That said, the only down side is that it was 5 points (Weight Watchers) for just the dry cereal.  And we’re not talking about a huge portion.  This was mainly due to the carbs. 

I want to say that I think ALL cereals are dangerous foods.  The portions we typically eat are double what the box indicates—and lots of times cereal has loads of sugar. 

So… in a magic world, where cereal is low in points and sugar, I would totally buy this cereal because it was delicious!  But in my reality, I probably SHOULDN’T buy it.  Because I’d eat the whole box in like 2 days.

A Review: Mixing Bowls from CSN

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I would soon be doing a review for CSN(Click here to read my announcement about this.)  I have to admit, I had never heard of CSN until I was contacted by Sean Ryan, who asked me to do a review of one of their products on my blog.  Wow-- I had the hardest time deciding what to review because this company sells EVERYTHING!

I started off looking at bags.  Then I looked at sports equipment.  I almost bought a yoga mat.  But in the end, I decided on a pair of mixing bowls.  I was looking for something that was durable and great for mixing (obviously) but also decorative, so that it could be used for serving or entertaining. 

Take a look at these beautiful bowls that arrived on Tuesday:







Not only are these bowls beautiful, but the cost was great!  The medium bowl cost about $16 and the large bowl cost $18.  Not bad.  There were all kinds of kitchen gadgets and goodies to choose from.  I think I might have to go back and buy the small bowl, so I will have the set of 3!

I would definitely shop with CSN again.  They have free shipping on many items, and they sell a lot of name-brand merchandise.  It was a very user-friendly website to order from, too. 

Take a look at the site and see what you think!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Park, Comfort Food, and "Black Swan"

Today was our first official day of the vacation where we were home with no plans whatsoever.  It was so nice to be able to plan out the day as we went!  We started with a little trip to the park, so Sadie could practice riding her bike.  As it turns out, she was more interested in the slides and playground equipment!  LOL!  Next time we'll have to take her somewhere to JUST ride.

I was able to go to Zumba with Katie, which I have been missing basically the entire month of December!  She was actually subbing for another teacher tonight.  Before I left, I halfway prepared "Old Fashioned Beef Pot Pie."  While I was at Zumba, Ryan finished it up for me and had it ready when I got home. 

This recipe is from my favorite cookbook, The One Dish Bible.  If you are into casseroles and one-pot dishes, then you would love this book.  Usually I have cookbooks that I have made 3-4 things out of, and then I set it aside.  This is the cookbook I come back to over and over again for simple weeknight (and sometimes weekend) dinners.  There are a TON of slow-cooker meals in this book!

The Pot Pie turned out great!  Perfect for a winter day!

Here's the recipe if you are interested (Sorry... was too lazy to type it up tonight!)

Then, I headed to the movie theater to meet my friend Kati.  We saw Black Swan.  Have you seen it?  The trailers really intrigued me.  Here's a peek at the trailer:

It was pretty intense and twisted, but very cool.  It reminded me SO much of The Flowers in the Attic series.  Did you read those books when you were in junior high?  I was so into anything V.C. Andrews wrote back then.  Everything was always really twisted and dark, sort of like this movie.

Have you seen any good movies lately?  What should I see next?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post-Christmas Blues…

Today, Ryan and I (along with some help from my parents) packed up all of the Christmas toys, gifts, clothes, and goodies and headed back to our house in Rock Hill.  It’s always a little depressing when we get to this point in the Christmas vacation.  I call it the Post-Christmas Blues.  There is so much excitement leading up to Christmas, and then it seems like it is gone in a flash.  It will be nice to get home and just relax and enjoy not having anywhere to go or to be, but it is always sad to say goodbye to all of the family.  I think I have a feeling like, “What do I do now???”

As soon as we got home, the first thing I did was put away all my new dishes—a Christmas gift from my parents!  When we completed our wedding registry 10 years ago, we registered for colorful blue and yellow dishes.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably seen them.  But I’ve been feeling like I wanted to go with all-white dishes.  I wish I could say we had some kind of creative dinner on the plates tonight, but this is what we had! 


LOL.  Little Caesar’s had a buy one get one free coupon.  You really can’t beat 2 pizzas for $5.55.  Just to make myself feel less guilty healthify it up, I did make a salad to go with it!


By the way, you’re going to hear more about this bowl.  Stay tuned!




So, on that note… WOW, do I need to hit the gym.  I think it was several months back, but a leader at my Weight Watchers Meeting showed us this cartoon.


“Merry Thanksgivoween!”  Her point in showing us this cartoon was that this is the time of year (October-December) when people pretty much give up and have an eating free-for-all.  (Oh yeah, and get too busy to exercise!)  Well, I didn’t completely give up, but I am feeling like I really need to get back into my routine.  

I refuse to say “I’m going on a diet.”  I am convinced that “diets” don’t work.  You have to make a lifestyle change.  No 6-week or 10-week program is going to change you forever.  YOU have to be the one to do it yourself. 

I also think that I need to do better this year about trying to change it up.  I have a good friend who loves Spin classes, but she says that is ALL she likes at the gym.  I’ve gotten into a routine of doing Zumba only, too.  I LOVE Zumba, so I am not complaining, but I think I need to do a better job cross-training. 

I’m not making New year’s Resolutions, because I think they have a habit of getting broken.  This is more of a promise to myself.  How about you?  Anyone making resolutions or promises this January?  Please leave a comment and let me know what you’re going to be working on/towards this year.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Waffles to Order and Fun in the Snow!

This morning, Poppy gave us a special treat… homemade waffles!  One of my dad’s Christmas gifts was a new waffle maker.  He was excited to try it out for the fam this morning.  He had a bag of Waffle House waffle mix.  I didn’t know that you could buy the waffle batter at Waffle House restaurants!  I have been to Waffle House several times but have never ordered a waffle!  These waffles were absolutely delicious—very fluffy!




Zoe and Baylee enjoyed playing in the snow, too!


Sister Pic


Family pic






Adrienne’s mini-snowman


Leenie and Poppy




Meredith was playing with Sadie in the playhouse!


Have Yourself a Souper Little Christmas…

Merry Christmas!  I hope that all of you that celebrate Christmas had a great one!  This year was so much fun because Sadie was old enough to look forward to Santa’s visit.  When I get a chance, I will have to post a video of her coming into the room and seeing her Santa gifts for the first time.  

We had a very busy Christmas morning. 

Sadie’s requested item was a unicorn pillow pet.  She was delighted that Santa remembered!  She also enjoyed opening her presents from us and going through her stocking!  She was also excited about her new tricycle (pink with ladybugs—so cute!) and her Beauty and the Beast DVD. 







Then it was on to Ryan’s parents’ house where we had lunch and lots more gifts to open!  Sadie loved seeing her cousins and “helping” everyone open their presents!







Then we got back in the car and headed to our final Christmas destination… Leenie and Poppy’s house!  Sadie enjoyed the ride.  She snuggled with Uni and watched Beauty and the Beast, another gift from Santa.  The coolest thing about our drive was the SNOW!  Can you believe it?  A white christmas in South Carolina! 




My mom decided a couple of years ago that she would stop doing the huge traditional meal for Christmas.  Instead, we have a variety of soups, which is perfect for cold (snowy) Christmas nights!  This year, there were three varieties:

Potato Soup with Bacon, Cheese, and Sour Cream



Taco Soup with Cheese, Tortilla Chips, and Sour Cream



and Turkey Noodle with Veggies




We ate until we were stuffed… but not too stuffed for some of this delicious Italian Creme Cake!



More pics to come… and the video, too!  Hope all of you had a restful holiday! 

As I type this, Poppy (my dad) is preparing to make us “Waffle House Waffles” for breakfast with his new waffle maker.  YUMMO!