Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Lot Can Happen in a Year...

One year ago today, Josh and I made one of the most serious commitments in our relationship yet: we decided to build a house.  Hopefully not just a house, but a home.  [And after selling my condo & moving twice, I'd be more than content if this were our FOREVER home!]  One year ago tonight, we "signed our lives away" and put an offer on a lot.  It's fun to think back to the 'headaches' that went into the decision-making... Josh is the one to think things through before making any big decision and not that I rush into things, but once I make up my mind, it's hard to change it.  We surprisingly agreed on everything from siding color to cabinets to flooring and lighting.  Josh has let me put a few more holes in the walls now that we're nearing seven months of calling this place home.  The picture of us below is from a spec home in Cedar Falls a week and a half before the big decision - I was over it & he was still excited/thinking things out.  I'm glad he knew deep down what he wanted because the view from the back of our home is my favorite.

Tomorrow is my step-dad's birthday.  His second birthday he's celebrated in Heaven after he passed away just one year and eight days ago.  I don't know that I could find many words to describe the void I've felt in my life since that day, not having him here to see our home or to help me celebrate getting my MBA among many other things & holidays.  I'm thankful to have had him and his love & support in my life for the years that I did.  I've been relying on this quite a bit - "Tears are prayers too. They travel to God when we can't speak." Psalm 56:8

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Life Lately // January Update

How is January two days from being over, already?!  A lot has happened since my last post but it feels like it was just last week!

If you read my last post you know that Josh & I made a 'deal' with each other to have a Friday night date out for dinner if we cooked at home all week, and I'm proud to announce we did it!  I honestly don't even remember what all we made besides spicy chicken tacos & goulash but we rewarded ourselves with trying out the new Little Bigs on the Hill that Friday night for little bacon cheeseburgers, buffalo fries & sweet potato fries.  Oh, and Blue Moons (on special!) and Bud Lights.  We took a little road trip the next day to Dubuque and of course had to make a pit stop at Five Guys before we left. 

On our way home that Sunday, Josh got a text that our new nephew was here!  It was quite the surprise and we (I) was so excited to get to the hospital that night to visit everyone and meet Liam John!

We also [finally] got our TV stand painted, moved upstairs, & hardware & top installed.  We love it!  I'm still rearranging things on top and how to make the DirecTV box 'fit in' better on the top shelf.

The next week was great because it was a two-day workweek for me with MLK holiday on Monday and vacation Thursday & Friday.  We took off for Des Moines Thursday morning and stopped at Homemakers for a quick [two hour] browse before checking into Hotel Renovo.  If you're planning a trip to Des Moines, check into that hotel - the lobby in itself is absolutely gorgeous!  We used Uber for the first time to make our way downtown to meet Jenelle & Mike at Iowa Taproom before heading to the Wells Fargo Arena for ERIC CHURCH! 

It was an amazing concert - three hours of just Eric - and Josh became such a big fan that he stole my CD and put it in his truck when we got home! ;)  After leaving the hotel, we met Josh's cousin Taylor for lunch at Jethro's, then made our way to Five Guys for milkshakes.  On our way there, we passed The Container Store and Josh willingly[!] pulled into the parking lot.  I was in Heaven that day, that's for sure! 

I'm ready for another month closer to spring, or at least some sunshine.  January was a good month with lots of blessings - the most recent being one of my best friends giving birth to sweet little Bowie Jo last Wednesday.  I went up to visit her and Aimee took me into the nicu to meet her.  They went home yesterday and I can't wait to visit and be able to hold her! 

We're looking forward to another fun trip coming up next week - this time we're heading north!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Meal Prep Sunday // Crockpot Breakfast Bake & Buffalo Chicken Chili

Disclaimer: I am no meal prep pro by any means!  I am, however, pretty proud of myself for having breakfast and dinner done in the crockpot all in one day.  Now, if I could only get in the habit of doing this every week!

I didn't think to take any pictures of the breakfast bake I made in the crockpot, but it is so, SO easy!  And delicious!

2 lbs frozen hash browns
Your choice of meat (I used one package of Jimmy Dean turkey sausage crumbles)
1 doz. eggs
1 bag or 2 cups of shredded cheese (I used Colby jack)
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Onion salt (or 1/2 cup diced onions - whichever you prefer)

1. Beat eggs until well blended (I did this with my KitchenAid mixer to save some time).

2. Beat in milk, garlic powder, salt & pepper.  Set aside.
3. Layer potatoes and season each potato layer with a pinch of salt, pepper and onion salt (or onions).
4. Layer in meat.
5. Top with 1 handful (or cup) of cheese.
6. Repeat the layering 2 more times.
7. Pour egg mixture over layers.  For refrigerated hash browns, cook for 6-7 hours on low.  For frozen hash browns, cook for 7-8 hours on low or until eggs are set.


For dinner, we are having buffalo chicken chili and after trips to two different stores this morning, I forgot the bleu cheese crumbles. :)  The original recipe I have is a stovetop one with diced tomatoes so I did a bit of altering the last few times including throwing it all into the crockpot.

Frozen chicken breast (I generally use 2-3 breasts)
2 cans white or northern beans
32oz chicken broth
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup Frank's buffalo hot sauce
1 tsp minced onion
1 tsp minced garlic
8oz cream cheese
Optional: top with bleu cheese crumbles & tortilla strips

1. Dice vegetables.
2. Place frozen chicken breasts in crockpot and add in chicken broth, minced onion & garlic, beans, celery, carrots and hot sauce.  Place cream cheese on top.
3. Cook on high for 4 hours.
4. Keep lid on and shred chicken breasts with forks & stir in the cream cheese during the last half hour and then turn to low or warm, depending on how long it will be until you eat.

We topped it with tortilla strips and tried shredded mozzarella and gouda cheese.  I think Josh liked the gouda better - he tried both and took gouda to work, I only tried the mozzarella.


I also made a double batch of these granola/energy bites.  SO easy and I filled about 12 snack sized baggies with 3 bites.  I used a cookie scoop today to save my hands from being a mess so they turned out a bit bigger than in the past. 

Breakfasts, lunches and snacks are prepped for the week, dinner ideas are planned, and if we stick to it, we just might reward ourselves with a date night on Friday to finally check out the new Little Bigs on the Hill.  Here's to hoping we really do have willpower to cook at home and can make it through the week!