Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hurricane Season is Over!

Today is the last day of the Atlantic hurricane season and we made it through another year unscathed! I thought for sure living in the coastal south I'd experience at least one in the past 8 years, but I had more in my 20 years in New York! There were a couple of strong tropical storms in my early years here, but those didn't hit our area bad, mostly just the very edge of the coast.  So I think we should celebrate with a non-hurricane party or something, ha ha.

Christmas Decorations, Part II

The outside lights are up!

Last night I supervised Brad putting up the outside lights.  We lined the house with white lights and did the front door in blue.  We still have a ton of lights left that we are trying to think of something to do with.  I am thinking about putting little candles in the four front windows, electric of course.  I think that would be a nice touch.  One of my little spiral Christmas trees was being a pain in the rump so I set that aside for parts.  Also, the snowflake we hang from the peak in the middle of the house was malfunctioning.  It lit when we tested it but when we hung it and plugged it in it did not want to cooperate.  I am not ready to give up on it just yet, but I couldn't be bothered with it last night.  We're hoping to pick up something new to add to the mix this year but not quite sure what that will be yet.  I'm thinking about either a santa and reindeer, all white, or a snowman.  Something like that.

I will start posting pics once everything is complete! Oh how I love the holidays!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Decorations, Part I

Last night, Brad's sister Michele and I put out our Department 56 Christmas village!

Me, her, and her husband Mat got all of the Christmas boxes from the attic (no easy task!).  Since we don't have our tree yet and since it was too late to do the outside lights, some inside decorations were about all we could tackle. 

The village looks great! It is out on the higher kitchen counter like last year.  It fits in that space perfectly.  I kind of wish I could find all the lights so I could maybe light it up this year, but no such luck.  I'm sure I'll find them eventually though.

I put out my Lenox angel, my Snowbaby messenger figure, some other nic-nacs, and Aunt Barbara's Christmas tree.  I have some bathroom hand towels to wash and then I can put those out.  I had some little nic-nacs that I gave to Michele.  They were things that I didn't put out anymore so I figured I would rather give them to someone than either throw them out or keep storing them. 

I think Brad and I might do our outside lights this week, and then hopefully work it into our schedule to get a tree! I cannot wait until everything is complete.  It is kind of nice doing these things in stages instead of all at once because it prolongs the fun of holiday decorating! It's always all over as soon as it has begun, but this way we'll be doing pieces here and there and we can just enjoy it that much more.  Of course I can't wait to see the finished product! And maybe to buy even more stuff!

Merry Christmas!!!!

Carolina beat Clemson!!

Tonight was the rivalry game between the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers.  The Gamecocks won 29 - 7.  Clemson scored a touchdown within the first few minutes and the Gamecocks proceeded with 29 unanswered points! It was a great game, but the second half was kind of slow.

We had the crew over: Michele, Mat, Brandi, Eric, Jeff, Kat, and Cleve.  We had sloppy joes (yum!) and french fries and some chips and cookies and cake for desert.  It was a fun night!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I know I'm a day late, please forgive me!

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family.  Brad and I had an early dinner with my parents', Chris, Tracy, and the kids.  We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli casserole (I made), homemade macaroni and cheese (Brad made), butternut squash, and creamed cauliflower.  It was all so good and I was so full.  For desert we had pumpkin and apple pies and my mom made a jelly cake.  I had the pumpkin pie, it was all I could fit and man did I force it! We had planned to go to Brad's parents' house for a later dinner but I so badly needed my turkey coma, Brad didn't want to wait for me and end up missing his niece, so he went on without me.  He came home with some banana pudding for himself. 

For lunch today I had leftovers.  Yummy! I also had some more pumpkin pie for desert.  Oh how I love Thanksgiving and all the comfort foods of Thanksgiving!!

What am I thankful for this year:
- my husband
- my family
- my pets
- friends
- my job (I can't believe I just said that!)
- my home
- cars (both running fantastically - big change for us!)
- my health
- life
- school

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ode to Potlucks!

Today at work we had a Thanksgiving potluck lunch.  As potlucks often are, it was amazing! We have done this around here a couple of other times, for Christmas, Fourth of July, and just for the heck of it.  What I think makes potlucks so great is the wide variety of food you get to eat! And I love to eat.  You get to sample things you might not otherwise try and other things that you could just never make yourself.  And it is almost always filled with comfort foods! Who doesn't love a good comfort food? Of course now I feel like I need to take a nap, but it was well worth it!

For lunch I had/sampled: fried chicken, ham, turkey cranberry spirals, some kind of bean salad, devilled eggs, potato salad, Greek quiche, dumplings, watergate salad, corn pudding, beef and bean casserole, shrimp, spinach dip, wild rice, and stuffing.  I hope I didn't leave anything out! All that fit on one plate, I swear! And no the plates were not giant sized! They were average-size Chinette plates.  I just had a tiny bit of everything.

Ahem, and for desert I had: applies with a fruit dip and pumpkin pie! I have been waiting all year for some pumpkin pie!!

Oh and my contributions were: potato salad, spinach dip, and wild rice.  I was planning on making something else, but that fell through!

Congrats to Brad!!

I am so happy for Brad because today he was offered a new job! It is one that he has wanted, working for a company he used to work for that recently merged with another company.  I just know this is going to be a great opportunity for him! He is so happy, too.  He probably won't start until the new year because he has to have surgery on his shoulder to repair his rotator cuff.  This is from a work related injury at his current employer, so worker's compensation is taking care of that.  Naturally he is going to wait until that is taken care of before leaving the company.  Hopefully all will go well with the surgery and he will be able to start this new job in January!

Monday, November 22, 2010

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

All I can say is, "wow!"  Last night I made the most amazing, melt in your mouth, white chocolate chip cookies.  Even Brad, who believes that if it isn't a regular chocolate chip cookie - it isn't a cookie, thought they were awesome. 

I'm not too crazy about regular chocolate chip cookies, I know I know, that's practically sacrilegious, but I can't help it.  I've just never been super fond of chocolate in baking.  I love to bake so I will bake with chocolate, it's hard to avoid, but if I am baking for myself, I want it to be something that I will eat. 

Last night, when I was just dying for cookies, I remembered that I had white chocolate chips (yum!) and decided to make chocolate chip cookies, subbing out the chocolate chips for white chocolate chips.  Usually people put white chocolate chips in a chocolate cookie, in fact that's what the recipe was on the bag.  Well I wasn't about to do that! So I made my own concoction. 

If I ever have hopes of selling my baked goods, I know I should keep my recipes secret and not share them with anyone, but I just can't keep something this good a secret! When baking I use my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and my Pampered Chef Stoneware Large Bar Pan.  The mixer isn't as crucial I guess, but when actually baking the cookies, stoneware cooks foods differently than metal or glass, so if you are not using stoneware, I can't guarantee your cookies will match mine exactly.

2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Mix these ingredients together in a bowl.  Set aside.

2 sticks of butter, softened (leave out at room temperature for about an hour)
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 bag of white chocolate chips, any variety will due

Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla in mixer (large bowl) until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beat well after each addition.  Gradually add flour mixture, about a quarter cup at a time.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.  I use a little scooper to make perfect little balls of dough.  Bake for 9-13 minutes. 

My cookies take between 12-13 minutes, I take them out just before they turn golden brown.  Different ovens and baking sheets make for different cooking times, so I would recommend setting that first batch at 9 minutes and checking it every minute after until they are done.  Keep an eye on the bottoms of the cookies too! You don't want them to burn.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


If you have your speakers on you've realized that I figured out how to add a playlist to the blog! Woohoo!! I'm sorry for those of you who think it's annoying, either pause it or turn off your speakers! I think it's neat.  I tried to add some songs that either Brad or I like, or that we both like.  Red on a Rose was our wedding song!! Enjoy!

Oh I used Playlist!

An Attitude of Gratitude

As Thanksgiving approaches I like to take some time to remember the things that I have in my life and my days that I am thankful for.  At dinner yesterday Brad and I started a little tradition where we talked about what we were thankful for and also something that brightened our days.  There is so much negative in the world, in the media and in our personal lives, and I think it is important to take time to reflect on the good things.  We get so caught up in what's going wrong that we fail to think about what's going right. 

Some of the good in my life is: my amazing husband who would do anything for me, my family who are always there when I need them, my pets who never fail to make me smile, my friends who always know the right things to say...

Things that I am thankful for: I have a wonderful family, a home, all the things I want and need in that home, I have a job, cars, the ability to go to school and the fact that I am doing well...

There are some people out there who have none of those things.  I might not always like what I've got, but at least I have it.  

Working for Catholic Charities has really opened my eyes to the devestation some people out there are experiencing.  People who are our neighbors.  Even before the economy tanked, there were people out there who couldn't afford the gas to make it to a job interview and some who couldn't put food on the table.  As I'm sitting here, winding down from a day at work and about to begin some school work with a full belly, I think about how lucky I am and how awful it must be for those people.  What would I do if I couldn't afford my daughter's insulin medication? If I got an eviction notice or my lights turned off? I'm not sure I'd have the courage to call and ask for help and I have to commend those people for at least doing that. 

I hear people complain a lot about United States organizations collecting funds to donate to disasters in other countries.  Why help them when there are so many people here in the United States who need help? Good point, what are you doing to help? What are you doing to assist people here in the United States who are in need? I know I don't do as much as I'd like and I don't have much to give, but I'm not complaining either.  I do what I can.  I am an animal lover so Brad and I donate some money to the ASPCA.  When I hear about things on the radio, like text X to 12345 to donate $10 for this or for that, I do it.  On Veterans' Day I donated $10 to Fisher House, an organization that houses the family members of military members who are stuck in military hospitals away from home.  When Haiti had the earthquake, I donated $10 to the Red Cross to go towards their relief efforts.  Just by texting.  It's not hard and it just got added to my bill.  $10 isn't a lot of money, but it's something.  Especially to someone who doesn't have it.  We easily spend $10 on a night out at the movies, more if you go out with a group or get snacks. 

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."  Corinthians 9:6-7

Another A!!!!!

I am currently attending University of Massachusetts for my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.  I have completed my third class at U-Mass and I am happy to say that I've got another A! My cumulative GPA is now sitting at 3.90 and my term GPA is 4.0.  Awesome!! The class I just completed was Child and Adolescent Development and I am still in my Spanish class until December 5th.  I have signed up for two and a half classes for the Spring term.  Spanish 2 (I need four Spanish classes total) and Biology with lab (that's the half).  I am absolutely loving my classes, but I am looking forward to the break between December 5th and January 24th!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Go Gamecocks!!

It was a happy day in the Elkins' household on Saturday! The University of South Carolina Gamecocks clinched the SEC East Championship! So they'll be heading to the championship game in Atlanta on December 4 for the first time ever.  We'd love to get tickets but it appears they are already sold out.  So we're going to have to do some searching here and there to see if anything becomes available.  They kicked some serious Gator butt.  It was a great game, Brad and I were thoroughly entertained watching it.  Next week they play Troy, and the week after that is the rivalry game against Clemson.  Hopefully they'll kick some Tiger butt.  Brad is having company over for the game so it'll be fun. 
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