Birthday Weekend Squared

This Friday was Loren’s birthday! And we were sure to celebrate quite properly. This year I decided to go a little different route with his gift and went with small gifts every hour on the minute he was born. So, since he was born at 11:34 pm, I started the gifts at 11:34 am, and he got a little something every hour until 11:34 pm. The gifts ranged from cards to coupons to candy to dinner to a movie, etc. It was so much fun to come up with everything and I think he liked it a little. 😉 

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Dinner at On the Border. Currently a favorite!

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Movie time before dessert.
Saturday afternoon, Loren’s parents, sisters, nieces and nephew came for a celebration dinner. It was the first time we’ve had that many people over to our little apartment, and it was a blast! These pictures below don’t even touch on all the activity we had going on. 

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These cuties came to surprise him!

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Finally blowing out some candles.

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He is much loved by all. 🙂

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The new proud owner of a full-fledged tool kit.
Once again, I wish I had gotten more/better pictures of this event and everyone that was there. Loren was delighted to be surrounded by his loving family. 🙂
I’m so glad you were born 23 years ago, Loren! Let’s celebrate 100 more together!
Also, my little (big) brother got married this weekend over in Germany! So happy for him and his sweet new wife. Just wish we could have been there. Congratulations you guys and welcome to the family, Marianne! 

Yeah THAT Greenville

Loren’s spring break was well spent with a trip down to see family and friends in South Carolina. I took Thursday and Friday off work, and we headed down Thursday morning hoping to make it in time for dinner. Needless to say, we got down a bit later than planned after some unexpected car iusses, but we made it safely, and are grateful for that. We spent most of our time trying out new food places, drinking coffee, and catching up with family and friends. It was so good to see everyone!!!

Here is our weekend in pictures and captions:

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Excited about another roadtrip together!

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Look, mom, two hands!

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Our alternator died. We got towed.

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Waiting for the car to get repaired. They were so quick!

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Tupelo Honey lunch date with these girls. I’ve missed them so much!!

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Scenic downtown Greenville.

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Due South coffee…

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…with Joanna and Jeffrey.

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Loren’s Cincy sisters happened to be visiting Joanna with the nieces the same weekend and we all had brunch together at Tandem. AMAZING crepes.

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These faces…

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…cutest ever.

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Beautiful sisters! I picked a good family to marry into. 😉

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Swinging the girls before dinner at Aunt Cheryl & Uncle Scott’s.
There are more pictures with other people I wish I had gotten, but we were so glad to see everyone that we did.
Thanks for a great visit, Greenville! Until next time.

Springshine Weekend

This weekend was seriously one of the best that I’ve had in a while. Loren has spring break this week, so we got to do quite a bit together!
Here is our weekend in random snapshots:
Friday night, after your typical Kroger run for ice cream (Butterfinger!!!)  and a bell pepper, we just hung out at home and recovered from a hectic week.
I’d been looking forward to Saturday morning all week because…brunch and window shopping date! We tried out a local diner and it was pretty good. As we were paying for our food, the cashier told us we were both so tall and that we must stop growing. We’ll get right on that, sir.  After dining, we hopped on over to Kirkland’s to check out some stuff for my sister. They have so many neat frames and paintings and decorations. Made me want to go buy a house and start decorating.
Saturday night we had Matt and Katie over for dinner and a competitive game of Clue (well, Matt and Katie were pretty competitive;)). Lots of funny stories and laughs for sure! After they left, we may or may not have finished off the ice cream.
Sunday was my first time back at church in three weeks. It was such a blessing to worship with everyone again! And such a strong and convicting message on fear from Pastor Pete. When we got home the weather was perfect, and we kept the windows open all day to let the breeze and sunshine in. We took our first spring evening walk and caught some of the sunset before coming home and making dinner. And then as we were just about to go to bed…there was a major fridge spill…so we had a fun time cleaning that up before hitting the sack.
Loren has been so busy with school, and it was so good to just be able to forget everything and just talk and fully reconnect this weekend. Refreshed and pumped for this new week!

How was your weekend?

Friday Faves: March 13

1. Personalized Photo Map I found on Pinterest. I’ve been wanting to get a map and put push pins on the states we’ve visited together, but this is way better and more creative!
2. This green tea with lemon, ginseng and honey has been getting me through this cold-ridden week.
3.  SUNSHINE!!!! And open apartment and car windows!!!
4. This elegant necklace. I love that coral color.
5. Shopping List app – since we recently got smartphones (more on this later), I decided to go paperless with the grocery shopping list. It’s worked pretty well so far!

Happy Friday and have an incredible sunshiny weekend!

Tissues. Lots of Tissues.

Is it too late in the week to write about our past weekend? Oh well, here goes anyway. I spent a lot of bonding time with a box of tissues. From Friday till…well, we are still bonding, even if it’s not as much. After experiencing some pretty intense jaw pain throughout Thursday evening and after a restless and pain interrupted sleep that night, Loren took me to the doctor Friday morning and we were told that I was having TMJ issues/a bacterial virus and that the jaw pain would go away in 3-5 days (it has since then subsided). The cold I was developing would also just naturally run its course as colds tend to do.
I’m so thankful for Loren taking me to the dr, picking up meds, tissues and smoothies and everything else he did.  Love that guy!
Some highlights of the weekend:

A good friend of ours came to town and stayed with us Friday night and it was so much fun catching up with him. Come back soon, Crawford!

SUNSHINE!!! Sunday it was finally sunny and a little warmer. Starting to feel like spring!
Have you stayed healthy this winter? What are some of your tricks to not getting sick?

Crisp Living: Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken

We love chicken around here. There’s so much you can do with it! Normally, I buy one whole 5-6 lb. chicken at Aldi for us to eat throughout the week. And here is how I prepare my whole chicken in the crock pot:
Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:
1 5-6 lb. whole chicken
3 tsp steak seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder

1. Place 4 small aluminum foil balls in the bottom of the crockpot. This makes the chicken easier to remove later.

2. Remove any insides and rinse well with cold water. Carefully place inside the crockpot and season inside and out.
3. Cook chicken on high for 4 to 4 1/2 hours.
4.  Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for about 20 minutes before carving/deboning.
Once the chicken has cooled off, I tear off the thighs before deboning the rest. That way, I can serve one meal of chicken thighs and shred the rest for soup, pasta & rice dishes, chicken quesadillas,  etc.
Last time I roasted a whole chicken, I kept the bones and decided to try my hand at chicken stock. It turned out pretty well! Another way to save money by not having to buy chicken broth!

Chicken Stock:

Ingredients:
chicken bones
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalk celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups water

1.  Throw everything in the crockpot and cook on low for 24 hours.

2. Let cool, then strain through a sieve into a large pot and discard the solids.

3. Distribute the liquid between 3 2-quarts jars and either refrigerate (2-3 days) or freeze.

And that’s it! What is something you make in your slow cooker to save money?

March Recipes

February went down pretty well in the try-a-new-recipe department. I successfully  made everything on my list except the strawberry cake. Maybe I will make it through all of these this month, though.
(click on the picture for the full & original recipe)
Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce
These look so good and fresh and ready for spring. And I am ready for spring!

Chili and Cornbread Skillet
While I am ready for spring, we are still in the middle of winter here. So a warm cozy recipe it is!

Crispy Smashed Potatoes
I love potatoes and am always looking for more creative ways to prepare them.

Raspberry Oatmeal Cookies
We like to eat oatmeal for breakfast, and this might be a nice alternative.

What are some recipes you want to try this month?

More Snow. And Waffles.

I haven’t been very active on here this past week. Which you may have noticed, but most likely not. I blame this absence on the snow that I am seemingly buried under, even if the last snow storm didn’t come till Saturday night. And I’m not really buried under it. Anyway, Thursday night after work I headed over to my sister’s house for a few hours. Sister and nephew time was exactly what I needed! Such a rejuvenating time. Sisters are the best and I wish we could all live very close together.
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Can’t get enough nephew snuggles. 🙂
Friday night, we had a little date night and finally saw the next Hunger Games movie. I’ve been waiting for forever for it to come to our cheap theater.

Saturday, I spent some major bonding time with my kitchen. I’ve made a lot of banana bread since the age of 12 (somehow this became my specialty around then), but this weekend I discovered the most incredible recipe. Moist, not too banany flavored, just sweet enough…do yourself a favor and check out the recipe here. Then go make some. And never look further for a banana bread recipe. I actually made banana muffins this time, as they are easier to pack for breakfast/lunches.

Sunday morning we woke up to our already white world covered in several inches of new snow, with giant flakes still steadily falling. Church was canceled, so we spent some extra time under the warm covers before we got up and listened to a sermon from our church that we missed a couple of weeks ago. And of course we had waffles for breakfast. 🙂
Eventually some time in the afternoon, we ventured outside to give our white world a closer look. Oh, and to drop off the rent check. We’re big adventurers over here, let me tell you!
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Dutifully depositing that rent.
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Loren was disappointed he couldn’t go for a swim.
For lunch, and for the first time ever, I made tomato soup. I’m not a huge fan of tomato soup, but this was pretty good and Loren liked it, so that’s all that matters. 🙂

What did you so this weekend? Did you get snow? And who’s ready for spring?