Thursday, November 26, 2009

Top 10 things I'm thankful for as a newlywed

10. Having someone with whom to start and end the day together.

9. The opportunity to cook for someone and try out new recipes as much as I want.  It's harder to do that as a single person (difficult to cook for just one person).

8. The growth of your family (in-laws and, God-willing, future children).

7. Always having a date to bring to special occasions.

6. Public displays of affection

5. Making our house a home

4. The intimacy of sharing and growing in our faith and holiness

3. The excitement we share in having children someday


(With our niece Violet)

2. Always having a dance partner

1. My loving husband, the one God intended me for, Mark Crowley.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wedding pictures put in album ... check!

Last night, I finished putting all of our engagement, bridal and wedding pictures in albums!  Wooooo!  Organization is a beautiful thing.  Truly.  We were so blessed to have a wonderful photographer (Leah Muse with Whitney Lee Photography), and it warms my heart like nothing else in this world to go back and look at the captured moments from the time of our preparation for marriage up to the wedding day itself.  My mother always said that the one thing you'd want to not skimp on when planning a wedding would be photography, and, boy, was she right.  I ordered copies of my favorite photos with friends from the wedding day, so chances are some pictures are coming to a mailbox near you in the very near future!

My Thanksgiving meal contributions

Tomorrow Mark and I will be headed to the Crowley parents' home for Thanksgiving meal.  Three o'clock with Rich, Judy, David, Veronica and Violet.  Katie and Paul are off to Katie's sister's home to celebrate with just-arrived Skylar!

I've just been asked to bring my traditional sweet potatoes (Mom's recipe) but have decided to contribute another side and a dessert.  Here's what I'm making:

-- Mom's Sweet Potatoes
3 large cans sweet potatoes
1 small can crushed or tidbit pineapples (I prefer chunks)
1 stick margarine or butter, melted (I prefer unsalted butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups miniature marshmallows
Drain sweet potatoes and place in large tupperware bowl.  Add pineapples, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and melted butter. Mix in bowl well.  Place half of the mixture in a glass baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Add one cup of marshmallows, then add remaining potato mixture. Heat in microwave oven for five minutes. Add one cup of marshmallows to top of the potatoes and heat in oven on broiler for three to five minutes to toast the marshmallows.  Serve. 

-- Green bean and rice mixture from River Road Recipes II: A Second Helping.  It's a cookbook I grew up on and one that my Aunt Maureen was kind enough to gift me for one of my bridal showers this past spring!  I don't have the book in front of me, so I can't type out the recipe right now, but maybe if I remember later, I'll post it.  I've never made this particular recipe, but it sounded good and I wanted to try contributing perhaps a new food tradition to this familial meal.

Lastly, I'm bringing
-- Mom's Derby Pie

1.5 c pecan halves
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup karo syrup
6 Tablesoons flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup margarine, melted
6 oz. semi- sweet chocolate morsels
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 unbaked 9" pie crust (I bought a deep dish pie crust this year as I've had too much liquid in the past)
1 cup whipped topping
1 shot bourbon (optional)
Combine sugar, flour and karo syrup. Add remaining ingredients {except whipped topping} and pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 324 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Serve with whipped topping. Enjoy!

Last year I also made the pie (pictured above) for Thanksgiving at the Crowleys and initially failed to include the pecans!  It's difficult to make a chocolate pecan pie without the pecans.  I blame my sister, though, as the copy of the recipe I had was one she had written down and she didn't write down the pecans.  Her excuse was that it was obvious and assumed that one would include pecans when baking the pie.  I went shopping straight from the ingredients list, though!  Ha.  I was sure to buy pecans last night at the store when I went on my shopping trip.

What are you making?  Share your recipes!

Thanksgiving Table Setting Tips

Though I'm not hosting Thanksgiving lunch tomorrow, I love to have folks over for dinner and appreciate these tips offered by the Posts (Emily Post's family). I get a little high of some kind when it comes to etiquette practices and putting the best foot forward!

Thanksgiving Table Setting Tips: "
By Anna Post
Table setting
The holidays are a time when we gather around the table--a table we sometimes have questions about how to set. Check out all the details about how to set a table at The Emily Post Institute website.

A few other table setting tips:
  • Only set out utensils you plan on having your guests use (no soup, no soup spoon)
  • Clear away anything from the table you won't need for dessert, such as salt and pepper
  • When passing food, offer left, then pass right (it's okay to take a roll for yourself before handing off the basket!)
Being a very organized child, I loved getting to set the table for Thanksgiving each year when I was little. It was exciting to pull out the little-used coffee spoons, dessert forks, and butter knives and assign them each their own spot on the table. I still enjoy this an adult, though more for the artistry of creating a welcoming table than the novelty of using specialty utensils.

Ultimately, I think enjoying each others' company is the most important focus of the day, but a well-set table certainly does make a lovely backdrop. It also shows guests that the occasion, and their presence, is special enough to warrant some effort.

That being said, Emily Post once said something to the effect of, "I really don't care what fork you use," to which I would only add, "I just hope you use one if gravy is involved."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stress-less Dinner Tip: Set the Table the Night Before

As someone who loves to entertain, this is something I've found saves me time and panic (From one of my favorite blogs, "Apartment Therapy") ...

Stress-less Dinner Tip: Set the Table the Night Before: "Here's a tip from our own experience in throwing many dinner parties and holiday meals. If you are able to, set the table the night before! Here's why we like to do it.

Read the full post at The Kitchn

Gardening woes

My thumb is not green.  Up to this point in my life, it's been more of a grey-ish black.  So moving into our home this year that was a short sale and vacant for nine months then piling a summer drought on top of it is not faring well with my yardwork skills. 

When we moved in, our yard was pretty dead since no one had been taking care of it for almost a year.  Turns out that our house is also one of the very few on our street that has Bermuda grass as opposed to the St. Augustine grass everyone around us has that grows abundantly and beautifully.  Apparently Bermuda grass does not like neglect nor droughts.

Since we've owned the house now about nine months ourselves, we've spent most of our yardwork labor on just cleaning up the yard.  We cannot seem to get past the weeds, overgrown plants, dead spots and now clovers that seem to have taken over our front yard.  I'm trying to not get disheartened about the whole learning process that seems to be yardwork and gardening, but every time I go out to try to beautify our yard, I spend all of my time weeding.  I feel that all I've done in the last nine months might as well have been nothing because I can't get past all of the weeds!  We have so much more to do outside of weeding, but it seems we'll never have a chance to get to that point because we can't seem to lessen the amount of weeds we have.

It wouldn't be a huge deal if all the houses around us didn't have immaculate yards.  Alas, they do!  We're not even trying to keep up with them; we're just trying to have a cleaned-up yard.

We're so grateful to have had some friends, Lauri and Ed Check, come over to the house and walk around with me to give me some tips.  I really have no idea what I'm doing sometimes, so they provided a lot of direction.  I definitely need to invest in a "Gardening for Dummies" book or gardening classes -- something.

We did do one fun thing Sunday -- plant a sago palm in a pretty planter on our front porch.  I love sago palms!  I actually just love palms in general, and we're hoping to plant a regular palm tree in our backyard when we have to pull up one dead tree that's already there.  We already had one sago palm in the backyard -- the prettiest plant or landscaping piece we have right now!  I really wanted one in the front yard, but there was nowhere to really plant it at this time, so we headed up to Lowe's and found a nice little planter.  Thanks to Mark, it's already by our front door to greet visitors!

Here are some photos of the yard we had taken to first show the Checks what it looked like before they came over.

Ugh, this one is the bain of my yardwork.  It's so overgrown and it's hardly been touched.  I'm scared to get back there.

I'm trying to keep my chin up and not compare ourselves to our neighbors tooooo much.  Part of me would rather just pay someone to clean it all up then we can just maintain it.  Alas, my husband feels much more satisfaction from accomplishing the work ourselves.  Hm.

Baby steps, right?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy birthday to my hubby!

Happy birthday to my fabulous husband!  He's witty, funny, charming, handsome, faithful, faith-filled, loving, strong, handy, smart, a leader and even romantic when he wants to be.

I, of course, can't leave out his twin brother, Paul, as it's his birthday, too. ;-)

They are two great guys whose lives my sister Katie (Paul's wife) and I celebrate today!  

Thanks for making me your wife, honey, so that today, of all days, I can thank God for bringing you into this world -- most especially, at the same time that I'm here.

Theme: Wife-hood

It all started with a Facebook status post ...

"Jennifer ... would like to start a blog but wants it to have a purpose. What do you think I could focus on that would be interesting? Young adult ministry? The adventures of being a new wife and setting up home? Ministry in general? Etc.?"

Most everyone who responded agreed that a theme on the ministry of being a wife, home life and setting up home was what they wanted to read.

I'm excited about the different directions in which I can take a blog themed on the topic of being a newlywed, its trials and tribulations, adventures and inspirations! So I won't run out of topics for a while, I've made up myself a little list of the different posts I can make. As I mentioned before, I appreciate blogs that have a purpose, so I hope this medium achieves that and isn't just a group of ramblings. Feel free to send me topic suggestions!

So, here we go ...
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