Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Deceptively Delicious Mac & Cheese

I know I promised to start putting some of these AWESOME recipes on my blog and just got an email from a friend with a "Mac & Cheese" lovin' son so I made this tonight for dinner, here is Jessica Seinfeld's Version with my revisions....

Kraft Mac & Cheese, follow instructions on box :o)

Add in:

1/2 cup of yellow squash puree ( one good size yellow squash, sliced and steamed till soft then puree in food processor or Magic Bullet - love this thing!)

1/2 cup of pureed Can White Beans

Top with Mild Shredded Cheddar Cheese!

Make some whole wheat toast and slice it into sticks around the bowl and wha-la!

Big hit in this house! My son is also picky, Lord help me! This is a new experience since Adrianna ate anything and everything at his age!!!!!!

I've also done this with 1/2 cup of sweet potato puree, ground chicken breast left over from the previous night, or 1/2 cup of cauliflower puree.

YOU CAN GET CREATIVE! Give it a try!

A Princess Party ! (of course)

I have about one week left to prepare for my little princess's 5TH BIRTHDAY! I cannot believe she's going to be five in a week! Time goes by so fast, even more so when you have two instead of just one, that's for sure. I asked Adrianna what she wanted to do for her party and she of course said she wanted a Disney Princess party. There have been many variations on the exact "theme" over the last couple months but I've decided to keep it simple. Decorate the living room like a ballroom, have the breakfast area decorated with tulle, tons of pink and purple and balloons! I took a bunch of pictures from our Disney trip of her with each of the princesses and uploaded them to Walmart and had a 16x20 collage poster done for $12 and it came out GREAT! Her closest friends (girlfriends) are coming over dressed up as their favorite princess and well the rest hasn't been fully ironed out yet. I know we'll be playing a "Kiss the Frog Prince" game blindfolded trying to put the lips sticker on the frog but that's all I have set in stone right now. There will be royal music playing in the background, a backsplash for each princess to have her photo taken with the royal princess which I'll print and use with my thank you cards, and CHRIS AND I ARE DRESSING UP TOO! Yup, the King and Queen of course! :) It's going to be a ball! Literally....LOL

I have pictures of her from each of her parties that will be framed around the table, I may make a canvas or two for the occassion and give them as gifts (not sure about timing for that one though), and whatever else my fairytale mind can come up with. I LOVE LOVE LOVE having a little girl! And I really am looking equally forward to Christopher's upcoming Elmo 2nd Birthday party too in April, I promise.

Now back to reality, I'M WAS STRESSED THIS MORNING! :) I love party planning, I love creating my own invitations, I'd love to bake my own cake (but I'm not!), and I love to be busy! But this morning when I woke up I was stressed! So instead of dwelling on it, I made my chore list, my bill list, my extracurricular list and spent the ENTIRE day all in our pj's rearranging Adrianna's room. Gotta love personalities like mine! To de-stress I have to have a task at hand, a physical task and now I LOVE the way her room looks, have the house clean, kids fed, we just came back from a walk and I get to blog while they watch Sesame Street. I did NOT think my day was going to turn out like this because my attitude was CRAP when I woke up that's for sure.

But you really are the one who can change your entire day. Focus outward and all the "junk" that was bothering you inside just disappears. We had an incredible Church meeting last night and that's one of the things we talked a ton about, just giving yourself, like Jesus did. When I pour out, I am filled right back up. I'm amazed at how that happens, and I've seen it happen now time and time again so I just hope to get better about letting go of that selfishness we all have! I know it takes time and I look so forward to the future, especially with where we are going as a church! Our Preview Party will be at the end of March and everything else that's coming after that is just INCREDIBLE! I cannot wait and I get so excited to be witness to seeing God work, not just on me, my husband and children, but in the lives of all the people we are connected with. We really are living a community life, no doubt about that!

I am blessed,
beyond measure . . .

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Empty Pot ?!?!?!?!?

OH NO! My coffee pot was brewing away BUT nothing was dripping into the pot!!!! Gina without a coffee pot is like, well, let's just say it's NOT GOOD! Chris tried everything to get it working, googled a ton and tried it all, but it's just not working! The poor thing was just overworked and was unable to give any more. :)

As I sat this morning with my instant coffee (Thank God for that backup!), I was thinking about giving. My coffee pot gave every single day, sometimes two or three times a day. BUT, since we downsized our bills to try to fit into a better budget and got rid of the water softener, well I never cleaned it out. I didn't freshen it up with some vinegar, remove the hard water and minerals or anything! My coffee was tasting very acidic this past week, trying to tell me to CLEAN IT, take care of it, but I didn't hear! If you nurture and take care of something, put IN, then you will of course get something out in return, even something as trivial and simple to some as coffee. I related this to friendships, marriage and family.

To have a successful marriage, you have to give. By giving and submitting, you will receive in abundance. In family, if you give and give, you KNOW it'll come right back around when you are in need and there are no weird feelings about asking. And with friendships, new friendships, long term friendships, pretty much any type at whatever level it may be at, you have to GIVE. I've had friendships that were deep instantly, fun and loving, but saw the results of what happens when all you do is give not asking for anything in return, but feeling sort of empty and drained with nothing left to pour out when the other person doesn't reciprocate and pour back into the friendship.

So I guess my thought of the day is to just make sure you are "pouring in" as much as you can to your marriage, your family and your friends if you want those relationships to grow and be as healthy and happy as possible!

Nothing worse than setting the "Pot" out at the curb with the garbage on Trash Day!
Very sad day....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Living a "Community Life"

Boy is this month FLYING BY! January always seems to though. Between putting away all the Christmas decorations, sorting old toys and new toys, cleaning out and replacing clothes in the closets, my birthday, Chris's birthday, planning Adrianna's party at the beginning of February. . . then of course now add in things like my sister moving to Texas, my niece's baptism, weekly church leadership meetings, our weekly ladies only night at Starbucks to discuss our Bible readings, mom's group activities, an upcoming Marriage Weekend hosted by our Pastor Kyle, and one of the real biggies, preparing for our Resonate Community Preview Party on March 28th!!!! WOW! Our days and nights along with our weekends are quite busy, to say the least, but it's "GOOD BUSY".

We spend about 2-3 nights a week hanging out either eating dinner, dessert, or just having coffee with different friends, we have storytime at the Library once a week, a playdate usually once a week, and the rest of the time it's just Chris and I with the kids! We hang out with his brothers and my sister on the weekends or at least every other weekend and I really feel like THIS is what living is. Some moments seem overwhelming, I'm not going to lie about that, but I DO tend to put alot on my plate since I love to be busy! That is why I have Chris, to put me in check on Sunday nights when I show him the following week's menu and plans with other people and if it's too much or too busy, he lets me know, that's for sure. He is so funny! He isn't one to go ahead and say, "Hey, let's invite this one or that one over tonight" but whenever I do, he is always happy afterwards. He's grown very comfortable with having our lives fuller and our schedules busier and actually misses it when people aren't around, out of town, or sick. He has even become much better at bringing up church stuff, talking about "connecting with other people" and stuff like that without ME initiating the conversation, THAT'S HUGE! We are part of a community now, it's small but has grown ALOT in the past year. Slow growth, but steady and strong. That is what Chris likes and I'm really learning to appreciate that pace a little bit more now too. We do have a rule that events, and other people do come secondary to our children and each other. We have to make sure we are nurtured before we can get out there and reach other people.

I've seen first hand that Church planting isn't for everyone and that we have to be very good at our time management, keeping our priorities in the correct order,and not being afraid to have a rough week where we just need some quiet time, we are human after all! But when you are able to reflect a year later and see the change in the people around you as well as experience your own personal growth then it seems TOTALLY worth it! The missed tv shows, the load of laundry that didn't get done, and the other countless chores or small things that I can't even think of now that seemed probably bigger at the time we first got involved in our church plant don't even matter now so that's even more reassuring that we are on the correct path. . . we are truly living our lives the way we always wanted to.

Lots of good stuff to talk about and share in the upcoming months. Spring this year is going to be FULL of growth in all areas of our life. :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Go Big Blue!"

There is nothing like hearing your 2 year old nephew cheering on his daddy's team saying "Go Big Blue" while wearing a mini Giants Jersey...SO CUTE! All of my friends KNOW I'm not an avid football fan and can totally take it or leave it. Now put me with a group of fans cheering on their team and I can totally jump on board! I am full of passion and if I am around people exuding it as well, I'm home!

Today was Chris's 41st Birthday and we had a GREAT day! I made a huge breakfast, everyone but me slept in until 8:30 and I made a Chocolate Cherry layer cake with homemade buttercream frosting, it was divine! To top Chris's special day, the Giants won!!! They're going to the Superbowl baby!!! That's all he kept saying, well screaming, LOL! Unbelievable!

Anyway, I'm not going to go all "Giants Lovin', Football Fanin' it up" or anything like that because again, that's not me. BUT, there is something SO exciting and intense about those last 2 minutes of a football game, especially when they go into OT that just kept me on the edge of the couch. I wanted to jump up and down with Chris and I DON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND football totally! LOL

What did get me though was after the game, listening to the players talk about how they made it, below 4 degrees and all! How strong of a team and how much heart they have as a group, underdog or not, they made it! They made it because they love each other, they believe in each other, they support each other. There is nothing better than being part of a team that you believe in, that you trust to have your back, a team that helps push and drive you. I was so able to relate to those players during the 10 minutes of the post game wrapup. It is so good to be part of something so big. I feel the same way about MY team, my group of friends and family. One of the players said, "We threw our heart over the wall and well, we just knew if we did that our bodies would follow". How true is that! How true it is that if you just have faith, it will indefinitely happen! Maybe not game 2 or 6 or 10 (or however many games there are, remember I don't follow football,LOL) but IT CAN HAPPEN AND DOES HAPPEN! The coach said something like keep us on the road! I'm assuming they won more games when they weren't at home? Not sure, but anyway I realized that it is SO true that when you get out of your comfort zone, that is when you excel the most!


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

FINALLY, an Orange Santa group photo..

Sorry it's taken so long! This past month and a half has been nuts! Here is a group shot of some of the volunteers with our church, our community, the Police Dept. and the Fire Dept. The outpoor of generosity from our community was simply amazing! We were able to help over 70 families and over 200 children here in Hutto have a very Merry Christmas. I still get the chills as I type this and reflect on those last couple of weeks before Christmas. It all came and went so fast!

We raised money through 2 main fundraisers. One was Olde Tyme Christmas in Hutto which is where we set up a booth for photos with Santa and had volunteers that are involved with Resonate as well as 5-6 students from Hutto High School too. It was freezing and I was completely amazed with those teenagers and their sweet little hearts! We also partnered with McDonald's and did photos with Santa there too! We created and sent out flyers to all the schools in Hutto announcing the event and had a terrific turnout! Once again, the willingness to be part of this and help from the volunteers, McDonalds employees and managers was just GREAT! We also set up donation jars at local restaurants, stores, and businesses, and had teams of volunteers calling and visiting local businesses picking up donations too. It was a hard year for many people, but they still were able to give somehow . . . again, totally amazing! Our team also split up sharing the responsiblity of picking up at the different drop off locations, refreshing Orange Santa applications at the schools and never mind the shopping for gifts, all day and night wrapping, baking treats, ordering pizzas . . . the outpoor was so WONDERFUL! People volunteered that aren't members of Resonate but just wanted to invest and be part of such a great community event. It was so refreshing, and almost like a dream come true for me, the whole experience.

I didn't grow up in a family that was involved in our schools and community. I had friends whose parents were like that and always promised myself that when I became a wife and mother, that would be me. I would be part of a community, make my children proud to have a mom that knows what's going on around us, a mom that has a presence in the schools and community events, and a mom that can set an example of giving outside of just your family.

And to put it simply, Resonate has provided the avenue to help me make that happen.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Happy Brain

So I was watching 20/20 last night titled, The Pursuit of Happiness. I've thought about how to blog about it because it was totally amazing to watch. Do I talk about how I've been stressed and how it was CRAZY that we just happened to click it on right after it had started and IT WAS SO WHAT I NEEDED? Do I talk about the Science of Happiness and how cool it is to see the brain respond while wearing a skull cap containing 128 sensors and discovering how your parents and your childhood have SO MUCH to do with your happiness physiologically as an adult? Talk about Antidepressants and how they don't make you happier, but just decrease negative emotion? OR, do I talk about "Intentional Happiness"? Well, I think you know what I'm choosing to write about! LOL

What caught my attention the most was a phrase that "People can indeed force themselves to be truly happier" Scientists have studies and said that "50 percent of our happiness -- or unhappiness -- can be traced to our genes. Adding the 40 percent that we can control with our daily thoughts and actions still leaves about 10 percent unaccounted for. This remaining 10 percent is related to our life circumstances, such as where we live, how much money we have, our marital status, and how we look. " It amazed me to watch the stories of people who won the lottery, got extreme makeovers and STILL went back into the same mode they were in before those fortunate circumstances.

As I watched this episode, all I could think about was our Church and our group of friends. I've realized that what I was watching, I am also living! Happiness IS intentional, you DO have to think it to BE it. You have to be intentional with your thoughts and your actions. But MOST importantly, you need COMMUNITY, you need people who are like you, people you can share life with and relate to, people who make you feel like it's okay to be you and you will still be loved. If you give the love, you will receive it. If you exude happiness, you will receive happiness. It's contagious, especially happiness and love . . . we all want it, we all crave it and it feels so good to receive it that you can't help but feel compelled to give it! Now saying all of this and reading the Bible, I can't help but to see ALL THE PARALLELS to Christ's message! I never would have been able to connect those dots a year ago but now it's almost reinforcing for me and makes me believe it more. It's easy to be depressed, it's easy to sit back and feel sorry for yourself, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by financial struggle, family struggles, lost friendships, broken hearts and hurt feelings. Sure that's all easy and I think that is when Satan attacks. I don't like to think like that and I hear people refer to the enemy all the time and although I don't necessarily talk like that or use the same lingo, I had a conversation with Chris asking if he believes that is true. Does he believe that Satan can sway your mind and your decision making and for some reason he made me feel okay with believing that. I don't like to think about something that I cannot see having control over anything I do or think. I feel like I should be responsible for all of my thoughts and actions and I do believe that I am. But, I do also believe that when you aren't intentionally trying to be strong, positive and happy then you are vulnerable to the attack on your spirit, express it anyway you'd like, you still feel like you're losing and you're weak. I know now that God doesn't make you feel weak, when you are walking in the Spirit, feeling positive, loving and happy, there is NO ROOM for negativity.

After watching last night's episode, I am determined to focus more on that and appreciate the friends I have that always put a smile on their faces, even if it's forced at times, because those smiles are contagious and I know I NEED them so I'm sure those around me need them from me too. I know I'm a strong person, loving and friendly and when I feel like this, THIS IS FULFILLMENT!

Thanks 20/20 for putting a scientific spin on happiness, put that together with spiritual happiness, now that is one heck of a life to live! :)

Monday, January 7, 2008

The End of a LOOOONNNNNNGGG Birthday Weekend!

Tonight officially has ended my 4 DAY, yes I said "4" Day BIRTHDAY WEEKEND! That was definitely a first for me! Friday night was my girls only slumber party, Saturday night was a quiet and delicious dinner with Chris, Sunday was spent having cake and wine with my family and in-laws , and tonight was "FRIED TURKEY" with our friends Brandon and Cindy. Before I go off on a rant, OH MY GOSH!!!!! I NEVER had turkey that tasted THAT GOOD!!!! Wow, you've just gotta try it, wow!!!! Cindy even went out of her way to not have any extra carbs, made double veggies and skipped dessert, gotta love her. :)

This is the first time in a LONG time that I felt like my birthday lasted forever!!! Well, it really did last for a LONG time and I was spoiled by everyone! I was even put to sleep last night (my actual birthday) by my sister's Deluxe Pedicure, uh "heaven"! Adrianna woke up this morning sad saying, "It's not your birthday anymore mommy?" Is there any cake left? She was so cute yesterday and so proud to come home with Pink Roses and the cake mix for the cake that she and daddy made for me. I went out shopping with my sister for a few hours, Bed Bath & Beyond and Bath & Bodyworks with only $.97 of my money spent, LOVE those gift cards! When I got home, the house smelled of chocolate cake and Adrianna ran up to me with her homemade card, all the writing done on her own, she was SO PROUD and so was I of course. I spent this morning thinking of how lucky I am to have the people I have in my life that one year ago, I did not. Tomorrow is one of our Leadership Meetings for Resonate and I must say that I'm very excited to be jumping back into Church activities, LTG's, Community Events, etc. after the crazy holiday season. My small ladies group will be beginning the book of James this week and I can't wait.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Yes, that's friends are throwing me a "SLUMBER PARTY" for mommies only!! NO KIDS ALLOWED, LOL!

I can't believe they arranged this for tomorrow night to celebrate my birthday! We will be snacking, sipping on Strawberry Bellinis, watching Chick Flicks, maybe doing a little Dance Revolution, painting our nails and anything else our hearts desire!

I CAN'T WAIT!!!! We are all showing up at Erika's in our pj's ready to gab, snack and be goofy! The Daddy's are flying solo tomorrow night. Erika is even making Kyle and Kylie go out for a sleepover away from the house for the night, LOL!

I feel like a teenager instead of a "Thirty-Something" year old woman . . . it's GREAT and you know I'm laughing as I type this. Tomorrow is the start of a birthday weekend for me. Saturday will be dinner with my husband and Sunday will be spent having cake with the family, since that's my actual birthday. How lucky am I to have a "Birthday Weekend"?!?!?!

On an entirely different note, I am going to start blogging next week about some amazing recipes I am experimenting with for the kids from Jessica Seinfeld's book "Deceptively Delicious" and they are WORKING! The kids still get served their side of whatever veggie we are eating but little do they know their mac & cheese has pureed cauliflower and sweet potato in there too! HA! I haven't pureed this many veggies since Adrianna was born! Lord knows I didn't make babyfood for baby number 2. He hated pureed food anyway, little stinker. He's my picky one unfortunately!!! My Magic Bullet from Santa is hard at work this week and I will start of by saying it's a MUST HAVE!!! LOVE IT!