Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Homemade Cheese Grits

Finally a post about grits! ;)  Growing up in the South, I was born and bred on some good ole grits.  All types too - Nassau, cheese, butter, grits a ya-ya, you name it.  I went almost every morning for about 15 years eating cheese grits for breakfast.  They weren't difficult - typically instant grits with American cheese melted in.  But they were always so good.

I've been at home sick today with a sinus infection and "flu like symptoms" (whatever that means - do I have the flu or not?) and I finally gained my appetite back around 12:30 today.  So what did I do?  Decided to make myself cheese grits.  I don't eat them much anymore because the hub-sand grew up on oats, not grits, so he's not a huge fan and they're definitely not the healthiest choice either.  But I am sick and I don't care.

Instead of doing instant grits, I did them the old fashioned way today and cooked them on the stove.  They were very good so I figured I'd share the recipe in case anyone else would like to try.  I adapted it from the Quacker Grits canister.


-1 1/4 cup of water
-1/3 cup of uncooked grits
-dallop of butter
-2 slices of cheese (or try other types like Gouda)
-dash of garlic powder
-tsp of paprika
-sea salt to taste

1.  Bring water to boil.  Add grits.
2.  Reduce heat to med-low and stir for 2 minutes.  Cover and let simmer 12-14 mins.
3.  Once done simmering, add butter and cheese.  Stir until melted.
4.  Add seasonings to taste.

The paprika and garlic powder really made this taste so good and different from the grits I was always used to make.  Definitely a good comfort food for a cold day like today.  And now that I've got my appetite back and can taste again, I'll be making Lily's Chicken for dinner tonight - roasted chicken topped with goat cheese, wilted spinach, artichokes and lemon basil sauce...delish.  Seriously my favorite chicken dish.  I got the inspiration from Bonefish Grille's Lily's Chicken and created my own version at home.  Recipe will be coming soon.  God bless!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful #3 (Final)

Well y'all, Thanksgiving came and went.  I am still exhausted and getting sick - boo!  Hopefully Emergen-C will knock it out.  I went to bed at 7:30 last night and I feel that coming on again tonight.  But first, I needed to finish up my Thankful series.  Here we go!

1.  I am thankful for safe travels for all of my family and friends.  We all made it in one piece!  And drove through rain there and back.  Thank the Lord for watching over us.
2.  I am thankful for my health.
3.  I am thankful for my sweet students.  I have really been blessed this first year of teaching.
4.  I am thankful for a huge pot of chili on the stove waiting on me to dig in.
5.  I am thankful for amazing in-laws.  I hate the word in-laws though.  That's why you'll always see me referring to them as MIL, FIL, and SIL.
6.  I am thankful that my crazy dogter did pretty darn well on her first long car ride and stay in Arkansas.
7.  I am thankful for my grandparents - biological and love related.  My life would not be the same without them.
8.  I am thankful for technology to keep me connected to my friends all over the world.  Although we complain about technology, it can be such an amazing thing.
9.  I am thankful for clean water to drink...and boy do I love it.
10.  And last but certainly not least, I am thankful for another day to live and for this little blog.  I started this almost 3 years ago just to keep in touch with family and friends afar and had no idea I'd get so much love from this blog.  So thank you to all of my followers & supporters - I love y'all.

Here are some pictures from Thanksgiving this year.

My class' turkeys we made before Thanksgiving break.  You may remember them from this post.  We had so much fun!
Here are just a few pictures from Thanksgiving.  Us girls were hard at work in the kitchen.  Everything was so delicious and I likely ate my weight in food.
Me and the hub-sand.

Here's our crazy dog.  We couldn't find her, she wouldn't come when we called.  Do you see her sneaky little self?
Zoom in closer and she's got a huge rock in her mouth.  She is so WEIRD.

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!  I only have 14 work days left in 2011 - AHHH!  Time flies!!  I'm behind on my Christmas decorations, I've got to get started!  Be blessed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Football & Thanksgiving Wishes

If you're reading this, you might recall that we are a house of Hog fans.  My husband might be the biggest Arkansas Razorback fan on the face of this Earth.  And he is totally willing to spend every penny we have if Arkansas makes it to the National Championship game.  That's right, Ar-Kansas just moved up to numero tres!!  Friday's game is HUGE and after the news of a player tragically passing Sunday afternoon, the boys will be bringing it. 

No matter what the outcome, please keep Garrett Uekman's family in your prayers.  He was a sophomore at the university and was found unresponsive and in full cardiac arrest late Sunday morning.  It's crazy to watch a player on the field one day jumping around, so happy just living life and then to hear that his life ended too soon the next day.  You just really never know.  Life is so fragile and we sometimes forget that.  We tend to think we're invincible.

With that in mind, I wish all of you a great Thanksgiving holiday!  Tomorrow is my Friday and I am ecstatic!  I can't wait to spend some time with my MIL and SIL (that's mother-in-law and sister-in-law in case you didn't know).  Well, I can't wait to spend time with the whole family but especially the girls - I love our time together.  We always have SO much fun and I can't wait to see what we get into this year.
 This will likely be our motto.

I'm for sure there will be lots of laughing until we cry, maybe some crying, shopping, cooking, RELAXING and coffee drinking.

Count your blessings!  And safe travels for all of you going out of town! XOXO

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

I'm linking up with Jamie over at This Kind of Love for What I'm Loving Wednesday.

Here's some stuff I am loving right now...

I get almost a whole week off for Thanksgiving.  I can't wait.

And I'm making these adorable turkey cookies with my class next week.

I adore big sweaters, tights and boots - so comfy AND cute.

I'm also loving this saying.  It's SO true!  I see people complain and worry so much.  I admit, I have been guilty of this as well.  Stop and think, have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it?

Mmmm another good one.  I love the life God has blessed me with.

I'm also loving my sunless tanning lotion.  This girl's getting pale and I've sworn off tanning beds.  Thank goodness for Clarins & St. Tropez!

I saw this outfit on Pinterest, loved it but knew I couldn't afford that pricey striped shirt.  Low and behold on one of my random Target trips, I came across one that looks almost exactly like this for $9.00.  Hello clearance section!!!  Now my outfit is complete - already had everything else :)

And last but not least, I'll leave you with one more thing I love.

Let that sink in.

Be blessed! XOXO

Monday, November 14, 2011

Random Thoughts

I don't know about y'all but it was hard to get going this morning!  A 3 day weekend spoils me.  And boy oh boy I can't wait for my 5 day weekend next week!  That's right, Thanksgiving is right around the corner!

Random Thought #1 - As I've gotten older, I've decided that Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday.  Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, but it's so commercialized now and we get away from the true meaning of it.  Thanksgiving is pressure free - no gifts to be bought, no house to lavishly decorate inside and out, and you get to spend time with family and friends stuffing yourself, shopping, and just hanging out.  It is such a relaxing holiday for me.  And it deserves it's day!  I don't mean to be all "Bah, humbug!" about Christmas, because trust me - I'm not.  I just think folks need to chill out a little bit.  Christmas decorations have been out since July!  It's ridiculous how much marketing is amped up for Christmas.  Just my spill, had to let that out.  I refuse to decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

Random Thought # 2 - I really want some creamy chicken enchiladas for dinner tonight but I'm having blackened fish and veggies instead.  It's nothing but lean proteins and complex carbs for me this week.  I always do this to myself - come cooler weather, I crave hearty food and always end up losing all of my muscles and then gaining it back in "insulation".  I justify it by saying I need a little insulation for the cooler months, but then I am so mad at myself come March.  So here's to eating good this week so I can indulge next week and not feel guilty!  It doesn't help that I've eaten probably half of a pan of brownies I made Friday night.  Oy!  The downside of loving to cook and bake...but Rosie and I went on a 2 mile jog tonight and I came home and worked out after.  Just gotta stick with it!

Random Thought # 3 - I was an advocate for P90X but this girl does not have that kind of time anymore.  So what do I do?  I get ideas from Pinterest of course!  Tonight I did this workout and it kicked my bootay.

Random Thought # 4 - Who's going to see the new Twilight movie Friday night?  Wish I could say for sure but that depends on Bob's work schedule.  But I really can't wait for Hunger Games!

Random Thought # 5 - I finished Nicholas Sparks' Safe Haven this weekend. Go grab you a copy.  It was a great book!  I'm such a fan of his.  I've read everything he's put out, but I've been a little behind.  It's an easy read and so suspenseful...I couldn't put it down.

Source: via Carrie on Pinterest

Last Random Thought # 6 - If you are in a relationship or plan on being in a relationship, go buy The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  Ah-mazing book.  Hubs and I have been reading it together and it has been eye opening.  I think everyone should be required to read it before marriage.  

Hope the rest of your week is lovely! XO

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankful #2

1.  I am thankful for family members that live close by.  I had my mom and her sisters over this afternoon for lunch and it just made my heart happy to see them and laugh with them.
2.  I am thankful for my wonderful sister-in-laws, all three of them.  I love them all so much.  They are not only family, but some of the best friends I have. We have made some great memories and I look forward to many, many more to come.  I am so blessed to call them my sisters.
3.  I am thankful for the girl I have called my best friend since I was 4 years old.  I was listening to my favorite radio station yesterday (KLOVE) and Nichole Nordeman and Amy Grant's new song came on.  It's called "I'm With You".  Listen to it if you have a minute...beautiful.

Anyways, I started to cry as it made me think about Lindsey and how much she and our friendship mean to me.  She has been there with me through it all: hiding under tables in preschool so we didn't have to leave each other to staying up late at night talking about our love interests to holding each other when those love interests weren't so interested anymore.  And there are millions of stories in-between - 21 years of friendship.

We've been through the good and the bad.  As long as I live, I will never forget the day I called her and cried to her that my previous engagement had ended abruptly.  She lived in Italy at the time and had 2 babies.  She was on a plane to the U.S. in less than a week.  She dropped EVERYTHING for me.  She traveled halfway across the world to help her friend pick up the broken pieces of her life and move on.  She helped me move into my little apartment and start my life on my own.  I had no idea what I was doing, but she helped me hold it together when I really wanted to fall apart.  And she was the one that, after I started putting the pieces back together, told me that that guy she had just met (Jared - my husband) looked at me different - like he really cared about what I had to say.  I thought she was crazy.  A year and a half later, she flew back across the world to be my Matron of Honor at my wedding.  No words can ever express how thankful I am for her.
4.  I am thankful to live in a free country where I have the resources to do what I want to do.  I can go to church because I am allowed that choice.  I can read as many books as I want because I was provided an education. 
5.  I am thankful for the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to fight for our freedom.  How do you put into words the gratitude that you feel towards our service men and women?
6.  I am thankful for my wonderful friends.  They have stuck with me through the ups and downs.  We've shared many laughs along with cries.  I love each and every one of them.  I would not be the person I am today without their love and support in my life.  Whether I've known them since elementary, middle, high school, college, or after - their friendship makes my days brighter.
7.  I mentioned I was thankful for my husband in my last post, but I want to elaborate.  I am not just thankful for a husband.  I am thankful for the man I call my husband: For his passion, his unwavering love for me, his commitment to me, his trustworthy character, his ability to make me belly laugh, his way of really caring what I have to say, his patience with my low self esteem and working so hard to build my confidence.  I could go on and on.  This man has my whole heart for my whole life.  I was terrified to say yes to our first date.  It was the best date I have ever experienced.  I was terrified to say yes when he asked me if I'd be his girlfriend, so scared of being hurt.  But he was the man I prayed for.  And I had absolutely no doubt.  I had all the faith in the world that God knew exactly what He was doing.  It was not until I completely surrendered myself to God that I began to see just how much He was working in my life. 
 Us at the Ole Miss/Arkansas game in 2009
This crazy man sitting next to me on the couch right now yelling and jumping around cheering for his Arkansas Razorbacks is nothing short of a miracle in my life.  Just the WAY it all played out - how he came to live here, how I stayed here, how he got the job at the law firm, how I got the job at the law firm (that I never even applied for), how everything worked out all had divine intervention.  This is my favorite verse.  I made sure it was on our wedding programs.

8.  I am thankful that my mom and dad defied all odds.  People said they'd never make it.  Thirty years and going strong.  Thank God for them.
9.  I am thankful for my siblings.  I could say so much right here about the laughs, fights, and all we've been through.  But I feel that simply saying that I love them to death is enough.
10. I am thankful for my precious little niece.  She was the most unexpected surprise.  She has brought so much joy into our lives, it's unreal.
11. I am thankful for my grandparents.  I never got to meet my dad's parents.  They had died before I was born, but I'm thankful to have known my mom's parents.  Over the past few years since my grandma has passed, I've grown closer to my grandpa and I will forever treasure that.  I also had/have two very important people in my life that may not have been my biological grandparents, but they might as well have been - my Meemaw and Pawpaw.  My Pawpaw passed away 10 years ago, but I still have my Meemaw here.  They mean the world to me and have made such an impression on my life.

I was only going to do 10 items here, but I got going and couldn't stop.  Hope you're enjoying your 3 day weekend like I am.  I'm off to go take food out of the oven - cooking for our Sunday School lunch tomorrow.  Goodnight and be blessed! XOXO

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pinterest Teaching Ideas

If you have not gotten on pinterest, please do yourself a favor and send me a comment or email for an invite.  But be prepared - you will have one more addicting website to add to your list.

I always talk about pinterest and the great recipes, but I have failed to mention just how many excellent teaching ideas I have gotten from there!  I teach 4th grade so be mindful these are applicable to my age range, but seriously check them out.

I did this crumbled up paper activity this week in my class. WOW.  The affect was more than I could have hoped for.  I had my class take out a sheet of notebook paper.  I did it with them.  I told them to follow my lead as I crumbled up the clean paper.  They gasped and said, "Mrs. G!  You're wasting paper!"  I explained that it had a purpose.  Then, I told them to throw it on the ground and stomp on it.  Hesitantly, they all did it.  And they really got into it, dirtying it up nicely.  Next, I told them to stop, pick it up, smooth it out, and tell that paper they were sorry for doing that to it.  They all looked at me confused, but did what I said.  I then asked, "well, are the wrinkles and dirt gone?"  "NO!" was their response.  So, I told them to tell the paper again how sorry they were.  They did it, but there were still wrinkles and dirt.  No matter how many times they said they were sorry to the paper, the wrinkled damage remained.  What was the point of this you might ask?  It was a lesson on bullying.  One I hope they never forget.  I went on to explain that what they're seeing is like the affects of bullying.  Just because you say you're sorry after you've hurt someone does not erase the damage you have caused them.  Their faces went blank.  I totally struck a cord.  Try it out if you're a teacher - I hope it has the same affect with your students!

I've also done the below activity with my kids.  Fourth grade is a HUGE year for writing.  I try to make it as fun as I can for them.  This past weekend, I ran into Lowe's and grabbed paint sample cards.  I then had my students think of some boring adjectives (like good, bad, ugly, okay, etc).  They were to put the boring adjective on the lightest color then think of more exciting adjectives to put on the bright colors.  I got some amazing responses!  I need to take a picture of the flower garden poster I made with our paint cards, but there's the pin if you're interested in trying this out.

I made these "Punctuation People" and put them up on my writing wall.  The kids totally got a kick out of them and they're educational!  They help to remind them of the purpose of punctuation.  And they were very easy to make.

I also got my pencil pail idea from pinterest.  Simple but very practical.  The kids love it and can't wait to sharpen pencils every morning.

Source: via Carrie on Pinterest

And last item I'll share tonight - I got my behavior system idea from Pinterest.  It is SO effective that I can't even put it into words.  The kids LOVE it and they can redeem themselves if they mess up during the day.  It reinforces positive behavior and I've seen kids' attitudes totally turn around.

I love putting pins to use.  There are so many great ideas floating around out there.  Please feel free to share some more with me if you have any.  I hope everyone has a good end to their week & don't forget to thank a veteran for their sacrifice and service to our country.  Be blessed.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I have decided to take the time and make a weekly list of 10 things I am thankful for.  I try to do this on a daily basis, but I'll admit that sometimes I do forget.  It seems that this day and time we get so caught up in material items and the thought of what could be better in our lives, but if we stop and take a moment to reflect, we are so fortunate.  So, here's the beginning of my list.

1. I am thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that He died for me.
2. I am thankful that He had the foresight so bring Jared and I together.  My husband was made just for me.  He knew what He was doing. 
3. I am thankful that I get to wake up next to the man of my dreams every morning.
4. I am thankful for a warm shower to get my day going, breakfast on the table and my Bible open waiting for me to read.  Many of the kids I teach don't have this breaks my heart.
5. I am thankful for the beautiful sunrises I see every morning as I drive to work.  I may complain about having to get up so early and driving in the dark, but those images of the rainbow sky stick in my mind and remind me of how fortunate I am to be alive to see another day.
6. I am thankful for my career.  It is so rewarding and I love the kids I teach.  Days may be long and I may get exhausted, but I could not imagine doing anything else.  When I see that "ah ha!" moment on their face after they've mastered a concept we've been learning, it makes me feel like I've touched a life.  Forget about that business degree I was so actively pursuing and all of that money I was going to make.  This is what I was called to do.
7. I am thankful for my car.  Though she is old and I need a new one eventually, at least I have a vehicle that is paid for that gets me from point A to point B.
8. I am thankful for a loving family that is always encouraging and supportive.  We have a wonderful relationship and they've shaped me into the woman I am today.  Having my mom and dad in my life has meant more to me than I can put into words.  Their love and support for one another taught me what a marriage is all about.
9. I am thankful to have married into the wonderful family that I did.  I don't think there could have been a more perfect fit.
10. I am thankful to have found a church family where I actually feel like I belong.  For so long, I searched and never found what I was looking for.  Now, I look forward to going to church every Sunday and hearing the Word preached.

Sappy, right?  I don't care.  I want to look back on this on those "off days" and breathe in my blessings.  When I stop to think about all that I do have, it puts things into perspective for me.  Like today, for example.  Since moving into this house, it has been very apparent that we do not have enough furniture to fill it.  Today we continued our furniture hunt and I felt so discouraged because it's just not possible for us to furnish our whole house right now.  Though we want it to be perfect for our family during the holidays, it's just not in the cards.  But you know what...none of that matters.  What does matter is that I have a roof over my head and a family to share my home with.  Who cares what I fill it with as long as it's a home that serves the Lord.  So if you think I'm a big mush ball, maybe I am, but this is what I need to do to reflect on myself and snap back to reality.  I saw this quote and thought it was appropriate for how I felt.

"Count your blessings instead of your crosses; Count your gains instead of your losses. Count your joys instead of your woes; Count your friends instead of your foes. Count your smiles instead of your tears; Count your courage instead of your fears. Count your full years instead of your lean; Count your kind deeds instead of your mean. Count your health instead of your wealth; Count on God instead of yourself."

So often we compare ourselves to others and try to be something we are not.  Stop it.  You have too much to be thankful for than to worry yourself over what other people think or trying to be something you're not.  It took me a long time to get to that point in my life.  I mean, it was literally just a few years ago when I went through some really tough trials.  But I will never forgot how FREE I felt for the first time in my life.  I learned to love myself and keep only the people in my life that truly love me for me.  Ever since then, I've made it a point to count my blessings, not my troubles.  One day (maybe) I'll post about my previous insecurities and all I've learned and overcome and still struggle with.  But not today.

On one last note - I have to say that Pinterest pulled through yet again.  I made a big dinner for my little brother and his wife tonight.  We had pork steaks, baked beans, mac and cheese and buttermilk chocolate cake.  Amber brought over a yummy cucumber salad.  I pulled new recipes for baked beans and mac and cheese from pinterest, all homemade, and they were so delish.  They're going in the permanent recipe book.

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Homemade Baked Beans

Monday's Meal Plan will incorporate even more Pinterest recipes.  Oh boy, can't wait to try them out!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend and GO HOGS!!  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween 2011

Our first Halloween in the new house was one to remember.  Our neighbor came over Sunday afternoon and "warned" me to get prepared.  I had no idea just how serious it is in this neighborhood.

I've never been big on Halloween.  As I kid, we dressed up as our favorite Disney character and went trick or treating, but I think the last time I went I was 9 or 10 years old.  It was just never that great to me.  Plus I am the biggest chicken and can't stand anything scary.  So when I was informed of how big of a deal it is over here, I just brushed it off.  I had bought some bags of candy here and there and my parents grabbed some more for us at Sams.  We ended up with 19 bags...YES, 19 bags.  And it was gone in an hour and a half...AND we combined with our friends who had us over for dinner Halloween night.  Intense.


Candy laid out on the counter


All of our candy in a bucket


Jared Somebody got into the Milk Duds and only 3 remained when I went to open the pack...sneaky, sneaky.

People began showing up in the neighborhood around 5:00 Halloween evening and they were blocking off sections of the entrance for parking.  We had 100s of kids come to the door.  I have never seen anything like it.  It was quite entertaining and ended up being a great night with friends.  To add to the spookiness of Halloween, Jared and I had walked to our friends' house around the corner and when we went to walk home that night, coyotes were howling in the woods behind the houses.  I, of course, flipped out and ran.  Thank goodness Rachel and Brad gave us a ride around the corner - so thankful for that!

And I'm thankful that Halloween and the Fair are over!  Now, I'm SO ready for Thanksgiving.  I look forward to that every year.  I can't wait to be in Arkansas and cooking with my MIL & SIL, eating until I can't eat any more, wearing my sweats all day and cracking up with my in-laws..  Oh and shopping, can't forget that ;)


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall Love

Things are now starting to slow down a bit for us.  Report cards went home today, it's almost Thanksgiving, boxes are almost completely unpacked, Halloween is over, and we're getting settled in and really loving our new home.  We finally got to enjoy a date night this weekend complete with a trip to Pottery Barn.  It was perfect.  We're onto the furnishing part instead of unpacking.  We didn't realize how little we had until we got in this house.  Take our office for example...  Here's a picture of our office after a fresh coat of paint.


Now Jared and I have always thought we had a pretty impressive book collection for two young people.  At our first home, we had more books than our built ins could allow....but now...Exhibit A..


Looks okay, right?  Well, check it out all together.


Whooooooaaaaa....we have a lot of space to fill!  But thankfully, we also have a lot of time.

I know I haven't posted many progress pictures, but here's a before and after of our living room color.  I bought new fans a couple of weeks ago but we have yet to put them up.  They'll get up there eventually!  A BIG THANK YOU to my hardworking BIL, Brian, for painting this whole house!  He did an awesome job!

Before - it was totally pink.


After - muuuuuch better.


But enough about the house.  Let me tell you how great those recipes from Pinterest were last week.  Remember my last meal plan?  I made potato soup and enchiladas from recipes I pinned.  They did not disappoint!  Both have gone into my permanent recipe book.  Now, I have been less than pleased with some recipes I've pinned, but these were great.  I definitely recommend you try them.

It's almost 9:00 which means it's past my bedtime.  I have a lot more to write about our crazy first Halloween in the new house, but that will have to wait for tomorrow when I can keep my eyelids open.  Until then, be blessed!  XO