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Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflecting on 2010

As Brad and I are ringing in the New Year, we reflect on some of the moments of 2010 that were memorable. 

Our year started off kind of slow, but it was rather entertaining.  I made some new friends that I know I will have for the rest of my life.  We have each had some changes in our professional lives as well.  I have continued to excel in school and Brad has been offered a wonderful new work opportunity.

The summer brought my sister and her family to Summerville.  We had some fun times with the Cousino clan including Benjamin and Madeline's birthdays, the fourth of July, and many more.

Brad and I spent a week in Florida with the Elkins clan at the Orange Lake Resort we visit annually.  We also took a little side trip to Hilton Head Island with my sister Christine, and Tracy and the kids.

August brought two additional members to the Elkins' family.  Brad's sister Michele married her fiance Mat, and that brought us Mat's son Donovan.

The Gamecocks won the SEC East championship and had a great season.  They beat a number one team - Alabama, and won their rivalry game against Clemson.  I even learned a thing or two about football.  The Gamecocks baseball team won the national championship. 

We finished off the year with a great holiday season. 

We are both looking forward to all the good that the New Year will bring.  2010 wasn't a bad year, but I have a feeling that 2011 will be even better!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions

Around this time every year, a lot of us start thinking about our New Year's Resolutions.  Well, I am making a change to that for myself and just setting some general resolutions.  I feel like having a "New Year's" Resolution restricts you to accomplishing that goal in just that coming year.  Maybe I've been missing the point all these years and finally getting it now, but I feel like making a decision to make a change in your life is a great feat in itself and you should allow yourself however much time appropriate to complete that task.

Some things I've been thinking about, in no particular order:
  • Become more involved with my Faith
  • Take some time to relax every once in a while
  • Dedicate myself to my school work and complete my bachelor degree
  • Improve my health and physical well-being
  • Cook dinner more
  • Try to do something for someone else each day, no matter how big or how small, it might mean a lot more to them than I think, so it's always worth it
  • Communicate more with my family
  • Make my own greeting cards (birthday, anniversary, etc.)
  • Be more frugal with our money, work out a budget and stick to it, keep building our savings account
  • Take a trip somewhere and be a tourist with my husband
Some of these things can easily be accomplished in the new year, but others may take a while longer.  I think the important thing is that we make the decision to do these things.  That's the first step.  Of course it's easy to say that you're going to do something, but to decide to do it is the challenge.  I've decided.

Happy Birthday Brad!

I would have posted yesterday but we were too busy!

Brad turned the big 3-0 yesterday! He was off work and had a nice day shopping with his gift cards and then dinner out with family.  We went to Wild Wing Cafe with Jeff, Eric, Brandi, and Stan.  I got a sampler with nuggets and Brad got a sampler with wings, so we have plenty leftover for lunch today! 

If you like wings and haven't been to Wild Wing, you must go.  They have a bunch of different sauces and they're so good!! I chose Ginger, Wild West (ranch), Honey Mustard (my favorite), Loco Bueno (honey-lime cilantro - first time I've tried this one and it was delicious!), and The General (a twist on General Tso Chicken - orange flavor).  They were yummy and I can't wait to eat the leftovers! I can't remember the flavors that Brad got, he goes for more of the spicey sauces.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

S-N-O-W!

On Sunday, December 26th, it snowed all day long!! Twice in one year!! I was so excited to see it.  This picture was taken out my back door, through the glass.  Unfortunately it had rained Christmas night so the ground was wet and the snow didn't start to stick until the evening, and there wasn't enough at that point to really accumulate.  But some did stick and what little of it was left in the shaded areas of our yard was actually still there this morning.  Amazing considering it will be in the upper 60s this coming weekend!

Wonderful Christmas!

Brad and I had a great Christmas! We had a good time with family and friends and we were completely spoiled by all.  After having dinner at home, we went out Christmas night to see the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park, and it was perfect! It would have been better had it not been raining, but there was no traffic getting in and very few people there.  The lights looked very nice and naturally I took a ton if pictures.






I'm pretty impressed with my camera'a ability to take such great pictures of the lights.  There are a few spots here and there because of the rain hitting the lens, but all in all I think the pics turned out great.

In other news, I completed my 2010 Shutterfly photobook and ordered it using the free photobook code I got with the new camera.  So for under $10 (I had to pay for an extra page I wanted to add and shipping) I got my 2010 album! I can't wait to see it!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Camera!

As I previously mentioned, we did Christmas with my parents this past week, on Tuesday night.  My dad made delicious Chicken Parmesan and my mom made some homemade macaroni salad.  It was good! We had apple pie for desert.

We opened presents from Tracy, Chris and the kids, and from my parents.  And I got my camera!!! So excited! It is a Nikon Coolpix L110.  I still have yet to read the instruction book, but I've gotten the hang of some of the regular modes and have been able to take some nice pictures.  Thank you Cousinos for the gift cards and chocolate.  Brad likes his stocking stuffers! Thank you mom and dad for the gift cards, non-winning lottery tickets =), camera, hat, bags, etc... We appreciate it!!

As promised, here are some pictures of our Christmas decorations, taken with my new camera! And some other pics as well!

 These are all pieces of my Department 56 North Pole Series Christmas Village, all lit up finally courtesy of this wonderful lighted cord I found at Home Depot!







 I'll take another picture with the lights on!
 If you sent us a Christmas card, chances are it's in here!
 My Snowbaby and Lennox Messenger of Hope figures.
 I got this snowman one year at the gift exchange at work.  There are lights inside so it fades to different colors, shown above and below is red and blue.  There is also orange and green!

This is a Christmas tree I admired growing up at my Aunt Barbara's house.  She had it up all the time and I always loved it and wanted to play with it.  When I was all grown up, she gave it to me! It's one of my most prized Christmas decorations. 


 Our 2010 Gamecock ornament!
 Me and my baby Daisy holding hands.
 Sleepy Mayo who we are dog-sitting until my parents return from New York.
This is a pretty angel figure my mom has on the mantle above the fireplace.  I was testing out the zoom from across the room on the couch and I just really liked this picture! 
Yummy apple pie desert!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

He got the job! He got the job!

It is official! Brad has got the job working for Napa.  He put in his notice today so his last day will be the 5th! He is so excited and I am so happy for him!! So much of his stress and anxiety will finally be gone.  He'll be getting more money, working normal hours, off on Sunday, it will be great.  I can't wait for him to start!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have you heard?

About the bird?

Last night I was watching TV and the Family Guy episode with the Surfin' Bird song was on and I just couldn't stop laughing.  I think that is my absolute favorite Family Guy episode ever.  It is just too funny.

This morning I called Brad at work and disguised my voice and asked about car parts.  He didn't know it was me.  When he was finished telling me about what I asked for, I said, "by the way, have you heard?"  There was a moment of silence and then he said, "really?" Oh it just made my day!!! I really want to call him back and say "bird bird bird is the word."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Done Christmas Shopping!!

I think completing your Christmas shopping several days before Christmas should entitle you a space in the Guinness Book of World Records.    One year I was done in October, I have no idea how that happened but I am certain it will not repeat itself.  Ever.  I'm still a little awestruck by that feat.

Tomorrow, after work, we will be celebrating Christmas with my parents.  A strange date and time, I know.  But, because they will be in New York for Christmas with my sisters we figured we'd do Christmas together before they left, and they leave Wednesday morning.  We chose Tuesday because we will be dog-sitting while they are gone and we will bring Mayo back with us to save them a trip.  And yes, Mayo has a special present under the Christmas tree! Well actually it is on the counter by the tree because if it was on the floor one of our animals would surely go hog wild over it.  It's nothing fancy, just organic, yes organic, dog treats.  Mayo can't have wheat, beef, and other random things.  And she doesn't play with toys.  Strange, I know.  So we did what we could. 

I am very excited for Christmas day!! I would have liked to have gone up to New York with my family, but we'll save that for another year.  I just love all the craziness of the holidays! Brad and I are having his family over on Christmas day.  We will have dinner, exchange gifts, and then hopefully go to James Island County Park to see the Festival of Lights.  It should be a good time!

Oh and I will take some pictures of my Christmas decorations and post them real soon! I've been so busy I just keep forgetting!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bon Voyage Cous Clan!

Tomorrow my sister Tracy and her family are leaving Summerville and heading to California! Well, first her and the kids are picking up my brother-in-law in Virginia and then they're driving cross country.  They are moving to Monterey, Chris's next station with the Navy.

Yesterday I went by my parents' house and brought Ben and Maddie some going away presents.  I bought them drawing pads, crayons, activity books, a magnadoodle-like pad each, Wooly Willy magnetic plates, and some blank note cards.  The blank note cards have envelopes that I addressed and stamped so the kids can send Brad and I letters and pictures.  I actually got the idea because it's something my eldest sister, Christine, did for me when she went away to college.  I can't wait to see the notes from the kids. 

I'll miss having them so accessable.  California is far away! Ben was actually born in California, and I went to see him there when he was just a few weeks old.  Now he's 8! I am hoping that Brad and I can take a trip to California and see them while they are there. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And yet another A!

I got an A in Spanish 1 and Culture! Yes!! I was really thinking that I would get a B but I guess my grades averaged out better than I had thought.  I don't know my updated GPA stats yet, but I'm hoping that information will be updated tomorrow.  It looks like I'll have a 4.0 for the term and at least stay at the 3.9 cumulative, but possibly go up more! How exciting!! I'll update this post when I get the GPA information!

GPA Update:

My GPA was finally posted! I have a 4.0 for the term and 3.925 cumulative!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree!

Random thought for the day:

I love the smell of my Christmas tree! Seriously, what could be better than sitting around the house, reading or watching TV, and just smelling the awesome smell that is a REAL Christmas tree?!?! It's that sweet Christmas-y scent! And no matter what kind of spray or candle you buy, it just cannot be duplicated.

I can't believe we waited so long to put it up! Never, ever again will it be more than a week into December when we get our tree!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Decorations, Part III

The tree is finally up and completely decorated! How very exciting!! I will take some pictures in the next couple of days of all the decorations and post.

Oh and while we were at Home Depot getting the tree, I found this awesome little string light set perfect for villages! So I bought two strangs and my village is lit up once again! It looks fantastic.

One more candle and a trip around the sun...

Today is the first day of the last year of my twenties.  I don't feel any different and  honestly I don't think I'll feel different when I turn 30 either.  I know some people would beg to differ, but I really haven't felt any different at any milestone birthdays.  I have three older sisters who I've watched go through them before me, and then my husband who is a year older than me.  I think being able to see them go through it and come out the same is what keeps things in perspective for me.  It's just another year.  No big deal.  I need to dig out my "30 bucket list".  Things I wanted to accomplish by the time I was 30.  I might have a lot of work ahead of me this year! Ha ha. 

In 18 days Brad will be 30... yowsers!

Tonight we're going to dinner with my parents, Tracy, and Ben and Maddie.  We're going to O'Charley's and then having Carvel ice cream cake at my house! I can not wait for the cake!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Poor Puppy!

Well, our little bad dog got into some stuff! On Wednesday when Brad and I went out to get our Christmas tree, Daisy got onto the kitchen table and ate some of my cream cheese cookies and a bunch of Tootsie Rolls that were left over from Halloween.  She was so sick! She threw up five times that night and once yesterday morning.  I took her to her vet at Banfield yesterday and she had some bloodwork done and some shots.  Her carbohydrates were high, no surprise there!, and she was dehydrated.  She had an injection to help balance out the acidity in her stomach and prevent gas, and she also had fluid therapy.  They injected her with 200 unites of that and it's full of nutrients and stuff to make her well again.  She had a huge lump on the back of her neck at the injection site where the fluid pools until it is absorbed into her system.  She is much more chipper today than she was Wednesday or Thursday, so that's great! She's on a mild diet for the next few days just to keep her tummy settled so no treats! Boo.  Hopefully she's learned her lesson!

Here is a picture of the lump at her injection
site, just below her collar on her back.


And here is our little patient at the vet's office with
eyes that just beg mommy to take her home!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Classes are over!!

I just took my last test of the semester!! I will be off now until January 24th.  I am going to try my best to use some of that time to brush up my Spanish so I can be prepared for my next class.

I have enrolled in two classes for the Spring semester: Forensic Science for the Non-Scientist and Spanish 2 and Culture.  I need to complete four language classes for my degree and I have now completed Spanish 1.  So three more to go! I also need to complete two science classes with labs and this Forensic Science class actually contains the lab element within the three credit course, so it will save me money taking three credits as opposed to taking four.  I hope it is interesting! I love CSI and other crime shows and believe it or not, the description for this class actually references those shows! So I'm thinking I'm right on track.

I'll post my final grade and all that jazz as soon as I get it! Hooray for winter break officially being here!

Cream Cheese Topped Cookies

These cookies are absolutely delicious and always a hit! They're basically a soft sugar cookie with a sort of cream cheese icing and chocolate drizzle.  A great combination of flavors and textures and overall so good! 

I have a hard time making them because when I think about them I want them right now and they are refrigerator cookies, so you have to make the dough and put it in the fridge for at least four hours, but overnight is best.  So you can't have them right away and that is frustrating, but it is worth the wait! A good idea too is to make a couple of batches of the dough at once and freeze the extras so that way you can just whip them out and let them sit for an hour or so and you'll be set.

You will need...

For the cookies:
1/3 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. shortening
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1  3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

For the topping:
6 oz. cream cheese, softened (30 seconds - 1 minute in the microwave will do the trick p in a bowl though, not the aluminum wrap)
1  1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla

For the drizzle:
3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. butter

I use my KitchenAid stand mixer for this recipe as well.  Sometimes the mixer makes the dough too mushy, but since these are refrigerator cookies, they will be firm by the time you're ready to form and bake the cookies.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl mix together the butter, sugar, and shortening until combined.  Then add the egg and vanilla.  Once that is mixed, add in the flour mixture.  The dough will be a little thick, at this point you will roll into two logs about 1-2 inches thick.  Wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, no more than 24.  You can freeze, too.

Unwrap dough and cut into one inch slices.  Place at least 1 inch apart on cookie sheet and put in 375* oven for 10-13 minutes.  With my oven and my Pampered Chef stoneware, it takes 12 minutes.  When they come out of the oven, immediately make a dent in the top for the topping.  To do this, I use my Pampered Chef Mini-Tart Shaper.  It's just the right size.  Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Combine all the topping ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Drop some of the mix into the dent you've made in the cookies.    Let cookies sit until the topping flattens out.  Meanwhile, melt the butter and chocolate chips together, I nuke them for a minute or so in my Pampered Chef Small Micro-Cooker and then stir it until it is very smooth.  You can either use something to pipe out the drizzle, or you can use a spoon and drizzle it on top of the cream cheese topping.  If I'm in the mood for perfection (like tonight!), I use my Wilton Decorator Tips to do the drizzle.

These cookies need to be stored in the refrigerator, so if any make it to leftover status, stick them in the fridge!


Piacere!
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