Wednesday, November 30, 2011

thankful for hope and answered prayers

Yesterday was a busy day and a late night with work, a doctor appointment, and small group --I'm sorry I didn't get a new post up for you. I"ll share two thankful things with you today!

I have to confess that over the past month or so (okay, maybe the past two months) I have been feeling discouraged and frustrated and hopeless with the pain in my feet. I finally decided to get a second opinion after my visits with my previous doctor left me in tears every time.

Let me tell you what a true gift hope is! I met with my new doctor yesterday and he was so incredibly encouraging; he listened to my history, he told me his past success stories and failures, and by the end of the visit (over an hour long btw) I was smiling. I was filled with hope. I didn't have any more answers than I had before, but instead of feeling like I was left with nothing else to even try, I was given a list of possibilities. Yes, it means more doctors visits, more tests, and more co-pays, but today, it means hope! I'm so thankful for this renewed hope.

Hope is the motivation to keep on going--even when things are hard and unpleasant. Hope pushes you to reach for what you want--even when it looks impossible--because there is still a chance that you could have it!

The second thing I am thankful for about today is answered prayers. I can't go into the specifics of the prayers that have been answered, but today two of them were! I have been practicing being perseverant in prayer and God has been so faithful to hear my prayers and answer them! I'd been praying for the first one since early this summer and it was slowly being answered and today it was answered entirely. The second one has been more recent and I heard the news I had been praying for this morning.

It's encouraging to see and remember answered prayers -- definitely gives me hope for what is still on my prayer list!

What are you thankful for today? Just because it's the last day of November doesn't mean the thankfulness has to end!

Monday, November 28, 2011

thankful for the Christmas spirit

November is quickly coming to end, but I am very grateful to have been a part of the "30 Thankful Days" blogging journey. There is still time to read other bloggers "Thankful day" posts if haven't done so already. Just head over to Dawn's blog.

Click the image to see other thankful day blogs
Today I am thankful for the Christmas "spirit" that seems to over take everyone as soon as Thanksgiving is over. I haven't gotten to decorate my apartment yet but I am thinking about it . . . a lot! I am so excited to have a tree this year and really make the apartment look and feel festive.

I know I complain about the stores decorating for Christmas so soon (practically before Halloween), but I'm glad they do -- it makes getting into the Christmas-Cheery-Holiday-Hot Chocolate-Fuzzy feeling so much easier to get into!

And yes, I know that those warm fuzzies are not the reason for this wonderful season -- but does that mean I can't enjoy them? I don't think so. This season reminds me of how close Jesus is to me -- and that brings a whole new level of warm fuzzies to my heart.

I'm so thankful for this season and the cheerful spirit that will abound for the next month.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Stamp

As my relatives and friends begin starting their families, I needed to invest in a new rubber stamp: Baby Feet! This card was made for my cousin's baby boy.

thankful for new experiences

Last night, Chris and I went to the opera. We didn't know if we were opera lovers or not . . . and what better way to find out than to go, right! We bought tickets to "Carmen" a while ago (Chris had found a pretty good deal) and the day had finally come.

I was really excited to have a special occasion to dress up for. San Francisco tends to be pretty causal but the opera is definitely a place you can go in formal attire.

We had been warned that "Carmen" is fairly long, but I don't think either one of us were ready to sit through 3 hours and 40 minutes of anything! I know after the second hour I was getting pretty tired and stiff.

As far as the performance it self, I liked it a lot. I love musicals and the symphony so the opera seems like something I would enjoy. "Carmen" has quite a few well-known songs so it wasn't completely foreign. It was actually really neat to hear the songs we so easily recognize in their original context. And the War Memorial Opera House is a stunning building.

One downside is that it is a foreign language, in this case French, so it's a little harder to follow. Thankfully, they had subtitles! The other downside was that we were in the balcony and couldn't see the facial expressions. I think if I could have seen faces I would have been more engaged in the story. I suppose I could have purchased opera glasses, but who knows if that investment would have paid off -- I mean what if we never go again!?

Overall, I had a wonderful new experience. I'm glad we went. But in all honesty, I don't know if we'll go again. I guess we'll have to wait and see!

Friday, November 25, 2011

thankful for holidays

As I mentioned yesterday, our Thanksgiving turned out a little differently than we first planned. But let me tell you that it was absolutely wonderful. I just love the holiday seasons! I love the times of year where we can gather as friends and family, spend quality time together and enjoy amazing food.

Our friends joined us for a late afternoon dinner. It was a small gathering but the meal was huge. Between the five of us we had turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, sweet potato casserole, broccoli-cheese casserole, green been casserole, dinner rolls, and two pies. Seriously - it was huge. Unfortunately with all my excitement over the food I forgot to take a photo of our table before we devoured the meal. So, here are a few other shots from the day:

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

thankful for turkey

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful meal and great fellowship on this day meant to remind us to be thankful. My post tomorrow might be a little more specific with photos but tonight I just wanted to say that I am thankful for turkey.

As of last Friday our plan was to spend Thanksgiving with my husband's "California family" as we have in years past. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving dinner is the left overs and as an adult it seems I miss out since I rarely do the cooking (thanks Mom for always making too much food!) This year I decided to buy a turkey even though we weren't hosting Thanksgiving, that way we'd have plenty of left overs and I could make several meals out of one bird. I had Chris make it on Monday--I just couldn't wait!

On Saturday last week we found out that our California family's plans changed and they could no longer host Thanksgiving. So we were in limbo. We had this fantastic idea to visit some friends in San Diego but that ended up not panning out either. So we decided we'd spend it in the city. On Tuesday night we made the decision to have a few friends over and we divided the menu between us. And yes you guessed it, we made another turkey!

The second one turned out just as good as the first and now I have even more turkey left overs! I'll share more tomorrow, but for now, know that I'm so thankful for turkey! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

thankful for so many things

Today is a good day and I have much to be thankful for, so rather than picking just one, I'll share them all with you!

1) My cousin had a baby girl this morning!

2) Friends are coming over to our house for Thanksgiving tomorrow (just found out yesterday after our plans were canceled)

3) I got a very sweet card in the mail from my best friend -- I'm thankful for her and the card!

4) I don't have to work tomorrow or Friday

Hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving day and weekend -- may your hearts be filled with love and thankfulness!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

thankful for my husband

For some reason I feel like telling you how thankful I am for my husband is a cop-out. You already know how much I love him and how much he means to me. But after this weekend, I was reminded once again, just how wonderful he really is and how blessed I am to be his wife.

During this really difficult time for him (being unemployed) he has decided to take time everyday to make my life easier. He serves me by making my lunches every day, helping prep dinner, cleaning, and even washing all the windows! He doesn't have to do any of those things and I don't expect it. It wasn't that long ago that he worked many more hours than I did and he was able to come home to dinner on the table.

I struggle with this "role reversal" as I enjoy doing those things for my husband. It's hard for me to let him do these things for me because in my mind, it's "my job." But I am also learning to enjoy this period of rest. I'm also learning to be more flexible in how I spend/prioritize my time.

But even beyond that, I am amazed at the quality of my husband's character. I get crabby on occasion, I get moody, I get angry, frustrated, passive, etc. He remains calm, even, steady. He has a peace and a restful spirit about him that seems unmovable. This amazes me. When I say or do something (unintentionally) hurtful, he could get angry, he could be mean, he could do a number of things that would be justifiable, but he doesn't. He just loves me in response.

I see so much of Christ in my husband. Everyday.

I am so thankful for him -- for who he is and what he's teaching me in this marriage!

Monday, November 21, 2011

thankful for today

Happy Thanksgiving week! As you know I've joined Dawn and friends in sharing what we are thankful for every day of the month of November. I got a little bit of a late start but that hasn't stopped me from being thankful.

I work for a Christian organization which I love and every Monday morning we begin with a staff meeting.  Staff meetings in the Christian arena tend to look a little different than they would in a corporate setting -- mine include singing worship songs and prayer (along with the business of the week). Anyway, today's meeting was especially delightful as the topic of the worship and prayer time was "Thankfulness!" How perfect is that!

It's such a great way to start out the week - being thankful. And the attitude of thankfulness stayed with me for pretty much the whole day.

I'm also thankful that my husband made me dinner tonight!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Hunger Games #1

Over the weekend I did a lot of reading. I just could not put my book down. I heard of The Hunger Games a few months ago from a fellow blogger but never really thought much of it . . . until I was looking for something to read that is.

I was a little nervous getting into this book, which is actually a series, because of the nature of the subject - kids killing each other - was a little strange and not really something I wanted to "like." But as I got into the book, I could not put it down. It was honestly a really good read. I've heard that it is written for young adult readers, which is probably true, but I still enjoyed it very much.

The only down side is now that I'm addicted to it, I have to wait a few weeks until the library has the next book available (currently 90 people waiting for that one)!

thankful for weekends

I missed posting my thankful blog yesterday, sorry gang. But today's post will encompass much of yesterday as well.

Today I am thankful for weekends. That desperately needed break from the week of work, errands, appointments, and general to-do list. Rest. Relaxing. Fun. Even if I don't get to do anything on my weekends I still feel like I enjoyed the break. But no matter how much relaxing I did I never feel quite ready for Monday morning.

This weekend I am thankful for: In-and-Out Burger (impromptu date night), my sewing machine (I did a little sewing this weekend), the variety of weather we had during the past two days (sunny, cloudy, rain, wind) and good books.

Hope you all had a good weekend! Happy Thanksgiving week.

Friday, November 18, 2011

thankful for rain boots

Today I am thankful for my new rain boots. Winter in San Francisco means rain and wind. For the past two years, I haven't had rain boots and I regretted it everytime it rained. My everyday shoes have mesh liner for the toes and sides which is not ideal for rain.  Last year I really wanted some but I couldn't afford the ones that I really liked -- I didn't want ones that would hurt my feet or not be supportive since I would most likely have to wear them for long periods of time.

Well, in early October we had our first rain. Nothing serious, but enough to remind me that I needed rain boots this year. The next day, I ordered them! Our next rain didn't come for weeks but I was well prepared when it did.

Today is the second rainy day this winter and I am in my new boots!

Check out Dawn's Goodlife blog and others for more thankful day posts - and share what you're thankful for today.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

thankful for sisters

Since I was thankful for my brother yesterday, I thought today I would be thankful for my sisters.  Please understand that I am thankful for them and blessed by them everyday . . . not just today!

I am blessed to have two sisters; for the sake of this blog and their privacy (and just for fun) I will call them "Freckle" and "Flower bud."

I love them so much! I can't even begin to tell you how much they mean to me. Since I am the oldest, I got to see them grow up from babies. I loved playing with my "baby" sisters. When they cried I wanted to be the one to take care of them and make them happy again. I will be the first to tell you that I probably mothered them too much-- for which I now have the nickname "Mom #2."

I have so many wonderful memories of our childhood together. And no, I haven't gotten about all the times we fought, yelled, and cried because we couldn't get along. But I like to think back on our days of playing Barbies and "house" and watching the Disney princess movies together. I loved watching them play together too--they were much closer in age so they were probably closer to each other than to me.

But as we got older and we've all gone through life transitions - college, moving away from home, engagements we've gotten so much closer. And now, these two beautiful women are my friends -- closest friends. 

Last time we were all together was at Flower Bud's wedding -- there are a few photos that Chris took that capture our sisterhood perfectly . . . 

We used to make up songs and dances together -- my favorite was called "Freckle Face Girls." This photo reminded me of or silliness! 

I'm so thankful for my sisters!

What are you thankful for today? Join Dawn's Good Life blog and others in sharing what your thankful for every day of November!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

thankful for my brother

I'm thankful for my entire family, but today I want to specifically be thankful for my brother. He is the next in line after me (there are 4 of us) . . . he's my only brother, the only boy in a house full of girls . . .  poor guy.

He called me yesterday and it made my day. It seems like those phone conversations don't happen as often as they should. We are both pretty busy and the time difference doesn't help either. Anyway, I love talking to my brother. I love hearing from him and about him and I don't like living so far away from him. I miss him.

This photo is from a LONG time ago -- but one of my favorites!

My brother is smart, energetic, likes to travel and do interesting things, he has a sarcastic sense of humor, he likes to help people, and he's pretty generous. He was my playmate throughout my entire childhood. We played in the woods, the barn, and everywhere in between. I made him play "house" with me and he made me have snowball and water-gun fights (thankfully in the proper seasons). We both liked legos.

Of course during our middle school and high school years we weren't as friendly with each other--he was quick to remind me that everything I did or said was "dumb." But thankfully that changed as we got older.

He really tried to do his own thing and not "follow in my footsteps" but he couldn't resist. I find it  funny and a little ironic that we went to the same colleges (Northland Community & Technical College and Minnesota State University Moorhead), and ended up working at the same phone bank after graduation. He had put up such a fight to do any of those things just because I did them, but in the end he liked them as much as I did! (What did I know, right!)

He has always been there to help me or listen to me ramble -- and remind me not to be so "stupid." (Don't worry, I think he's joking!) He's a pretty great brother, I don't think I could have asked for anyone better!

What or who are you thankful for today? Join Dawn and others in sharing our "30 thankful days" this month!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

thankful for being a girl

For the month of November my blog theme is thankfulness -- I joined the Good Life blog and others in the "30 Thankful Days" project to keep my attitude and heart in the right place after hearing about my husband's employer closing the business.

Today, I am thankful that I am a woman. I know that there are plenty of very good reasons not to be thankful for this fact, but I'd rather focus on the things I actually like about my gender. (Please note that the things I define as being feminine may or may not line up with your definition -- just a disclaimer in light of the gender issues facing our nation)

Today I am thankful that:
 - I like having my fingernails painted (I did them last night!)
 - I like wearing earrings, necklaces, and rings all the time
 - I like getting dressed up
 - I like doing my hair
 - I like wearing make-up
      - Okay basically I like looking pretty
 - I like making dinner for my husband (and other people)
 - I like having the door opened for me
 - I like beads, ribbon, bows, and glitter
 - I like making our home comfortable and nice (I need to work on this one)

I'm sure there are more -- I really do like being a girl. I know that God made me and I try not to complain too much about the job he did or the decision he made. I'm enjoying it today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

thankful for arm warmers

As you know, I've been blogging along with Dawn's GoodLife and friends with the "30 Thankful Days" project. You can check out her blog and others by clicking on the image below.

Today I am thankful for arm warmers -- silly I know. But it's the truth. My office tends to be a little chilly, even when it's warm outside. And today I put on a short sleeve shirt, well, because it was warm outside (well, at least the sun was shining to indicate it was warm outside). Anyway, I usually keep a sweatshirt at work with me because I know I will be cold. Except, on Friday I took it home to be washed and forgot to bring it back. So, I am using my trusty arm warmers (with wholes for my fingers so I can type).

So thankful!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

thankful for coupons

Check out Dawn's Goodlife blog and join in the fun of sharing what you're thankful for! 

Today I am thankful for coupons.

Yes, you heard me right, I am thankful for coupons. Why? you ask . . . well, did you read my thankful day post from yesterday? I mentioned there that my husband and I went on a date night - using coupons. We got to try a nicer restaurant and enjoy a movie for about half the normal cost. We use sites like groupon, living social, scoutmob, and bloomspot.  I am sure there are even more out there, but those are the ones we use most frequently.

But it doesn't stop there, I was recently turned on to "extreme couponing" by a good friend of mine and although I have yet to walk out of the store with freebies, I do save a bit of money every week. Yesterday for example, although Walgreens totally frustrated me by not carrying the items I had coupons for, Safeway did give me a good deal on chicken stock. It was buy one get one free, and I had a store coupon for 50 cents off of two as well as a manufacturer's coupons for $1.00 off two -- making it $2 for 2 containers instead of $4 or something absurd.

Anyway, I'm thankful for my new little hobby, I'm thankful that I can save a little money and still afford to have some fun!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

thankful for date night

I am thankful for date night . . . which just happens to be tonight! No, we don't have a scheduled date night every week or even a certain number of dates planned each month -- they just come up when my husband says, "Hey sweetie, you want to go out tonight?" Ah, sweet, right! It's just like when we were dating. (Only back then, the butterflies in my stomach would make me feel a little sick.)

Tonight's date entails getting a little dressed up to go to a nicer restaurant (we have a coupon) and then to a movie (which we also have a coupon for).

I'm thankful that even though we are married and have dinner together almost every night, we can still go out together and have a real date! Yes, he even opens the doors for me!

Friday, November 11, 2011

thankful for our Veterans

Today I am thankful for all the men and women who have protected and fought for our country. They have given their time and energy; given up being with their loved ones and in many cases their very lives.
I am amazed at their courage and bravery. I am in awe of the things they have had to learn and experience. I am grateful that they volunteered. And for those that were drafted I am thankful that they obeyed.

My prayers today are with the families who have a spouse or loved one currently overseas on our behalf, for those who's lives were changed by what they experienced while fighting for us, and for those who have experienced great loss.

 These men and women are our heroes, they have given much so we could be free and safe. Thank you!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Day 4

Earlier this week I joined the "30 Thankful Days" blogging theme.  Check out the Good Life blog to read more thankful stories or start your own!

This morning I was walking to work (from the bus stop) and I asked myself "What should I be thankful for today?" I like how joining in on the thankful days blog posts has got me thinking about what to be thankful for each day. I need to come up with at least one thing so I can continue my daily blogging!

Today, I am thankful for the prayer time I have with my husband each morning. A few months ago we decided that we wanted to spend more time in prayer -- together. So, we've been waking up early every weekday to fit that special time in . . . and it is so worth it!

I'm thankful our new schedule has stuck too -- I wasn't sure it would at first, but after four months, I think I can say that it's a habit now!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

thankful for adventure

Head on over to the Good Life blog to read about what others are thankful for today.  It's a great reminder to pause and be thankful.

Today, I did not wake up feeling very thankful. I had a really bad appointment with my podiatrist yesterday and it left me feeling pretty hopeless that my feet would be pain-free. And with it getting dark so much earlier now, I've been feeling tired and ready for bed as soon as I get home from work. Ugh. 

Anyway, now that you know what I am NOT thankful for today, I'll tell you what I AM thankful for:

I'm thankful for adventure. Two years ago (exactly -- November 9, 2009) we drove into the state of California with our car and truck filled to the brim with our possessions. I remember being so thankful that it didn't rain or snow during our two day drive as we had tied our mattress to the top of Chris's truck (yes, we covered it with a tarp).

Adventure to me is really anything that is unknown. It's a time to really trust the Lord and a time for fun as you experience new things. Sometimes the unknown can be uncomfortable . . . okay it usually is. That part I'm not so crazy about. I tend to be an anxious person. BUT I'd much rather live in the unknown and experience life than sit on the sidelines and watch it fly by.

So, there you have it. I'm thankful for adventures and the excitement they bring to my life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

thankful for friends

A friend of a friend started a daily blog post called "30 Thankful Days" for the month of November. I got started a little late but I am enjoying this reflective season of thankfulness. You can check out other thankful day blogs by clicking on the image below.

Today I am thankful for new friends. I suppose some of them aren't exactly new anymore . . . but there are a few who are. Chris and I moved to San Francisco without knowing anybody. That was scary to say the least. We were introduced to a friend of a friend via Facebook and she introduced us to her friends and church and the rest is history! I never imagined I would find such a wonderful group of people right off the bat.

And as new people come into the church they come into my life and I am so thankful for them too! I rarely get tired of learning about other people -- finding out their passions and hopes, hearing their struggles and fears-- and being a part of their lives and having them in mine.

Last night, we had dinner with a couple of these new friends (new to me anyway). I felt very blessed to be welcomed into their home and into their lives. Friends are very special.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 7, 2011

thankful for shoe boxes

Yesterday I announced that I was joining the "30 Thankful Days" blogging adventure. Meaning I will be writing a blog each day giving for thanks for something. So, here is my Thankful Day 1 blog post.

Today I am thankful for shoe boxes. Okay, more specifically, I am thankful that an organization called Samaritan's Purse has set up an annual project called "Operation Christmas Child" that allows us to bless needy children around the world. I've participated in this project for several years. My girl's Bible study did one together in college, I did one with my "little sister" a few years ago, and Chris and I have done them together a couple of times. I think it's a great project to do with someone else although you can totally do it by yourself. It's fun to gather different items that you think a little boy or girl will need and enjoy.  

I'm amazed at all the stuff we have at our finger tips here in America -- that I can spend very little money and fill up an entire shoe box with things that I use and enjoy on a daily basis. Things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, headbands, crayons, coloring book, notebooks, pens, games, toys, etc. I am so thankful that a) I have these things and b) can easily bless someone else with these things.

I'm also thankful for my husband who found and wrapped the shoe box for me!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh, the Irony

Last week, I made a comment on my blog that was meant to inspire and move your hearts into action. In case you missed it, here's what I said:

"I know many of you may already being giving as much as you possibly can - and I applaud your faithfulness! It takes courage to give when you cannot be certain of the job market next month. It takes great faith to trust in our Provider for our daily bread."

I wrote that on Monday, October 31st. On Tuesday, November 1st, my husband found out that the visual effects studio he has been working for for the last three months was closing its doors. My first thought when I heard the news was, "Oh, the irony . . . I guess I need to learn to be a faithful giver . . . again"

We are definitely bummed out that this studio didn't get a chance to really get off the ground (it was a start-up) and we are a little frustrated that our finances and the way we live will be effected, but after thinking/blogging about trusting the Lord for our provision and giving to those in greater need than ourselves, it doesn't seem so bad this time around. (I say that now, one week after hearing the news . . . you can ask again after Christmas.)

We were discussing that last time Chris was going through a time of unemployment our lives looked much different. I was unemployed too . . . we didn't have a place to live . . . and we had debt. And we saw God provide two jobs and a really great apartment and now we are debt-free. We will trust Him again. He is faithful. He is the Provider.

I will ask that you pray for us in this. Pray that an opportunity would open up for Chris as he looks for work (looking for editing work for a film/movie studio).

I feel like whenever I am brought to a place of need and greater dependence on God, I am also reminded of all the blessings that surround me. I can praise God for so many things even in the midst of this bad news. Things like my job, my home, our church, new friends, old friends . . . you get the idea. One of my friends and fellow bloggers has started making a daily post of one thing she's thankful for during the month of November called "30 Thankful Days". She started it on November 2nd which most likely means nothing to you . . . but I read the post the day after I found out about Chris's job situation. So I was pretty drawn to it. I needed the reminder to be thankful.

So, I think in the spirit of Thanksgiving and remembering that God is worthy of all praise even during times of trouble, I too, will begin making a daily blog about something I am thankful about. (Officially starting tomorrow).

Extreme Couponing . . . or not

Last month a friend of mine turned me on to a little trend and now TV show known as "Extreme Couponing." It sounded a little crazy to be honest but now I have to confess that I am addicted. I'm not one of those professionals who can walk out of Walmart with over $100 of merchandise for 50 cents or anything but I am saving money. On average about an extra $8 per week on my normal grocery shopping. It may not sound like much but that's about $35 saved last month.

It's easy to get side tracked from my main goals in buying healthy foods and meal planning and just follow the coupons and sales and buy a bunch of stuff I don't need. But I have to say that I think I've done an okay job in saving money on things we really do use. (I have come home with regret in knowing I shouldn't have bought something just because it was on sale and I had a coupon -- but you learn my making mistakes right?!)

I follow a coupon-blog called and she tells you what is on sale at each store and what coupons to pair with those sales to get amazing savings. She basically does all the hard work for you. All I have to do is clip the coupons and make my list.

Walgreens had a sale that I wanted to get in on this week. So yesterday I headed over there with my envelope of coupons and list and this is what I came home with:

Two six-ounce containers of almonds, three cans of tomato soup and one nine-ounce container of dish soup.  If I had gone shopping without watching the sales or with coupons (okay I would not have gone to Walgreens at all if that were the case), it would have cost: $12.75 (plus tax). But I didn't . . . so instead I bought:
   * the almonds on a buy-one-get-one-free sale along with a $1 off when you buy two coupon
   * there was an in-store coupon on the soup so they were .59 each and I had a .40-off coupon when you buy three
   * the dish soap was on sale for $1 and I had a .50 off coupon

So, my total was only $4.45 (plus tax).  I know that the extreme-couponers that get featured on the television show aim for 95% or higher savings but I still felt pretty good about this purchase and the 65% savings since I know I will use all of these things! 

Stocking #2 - Complete

I was getting a little nervous about completing my Christmas projects in time. I can't believe it is already November! I had finished Chris's Christmas stocking a few weeks ago and just could not find the time to get mine started.

But yesterday, that was the only thing on my to do list! And guess what?!? I finished it! The second time doing anything is always a little better and faster - but I was amazed that I was able to finish it so quickly.

I am really excited to decorate our apartment this year for Christmas! And now that my stockings are finished I am feeling that Christmas-bug . . . you know the one that makes you think it is okay to start decorating the day after Halloween! (Chris as asked me to abstain from such things until after Thanksgiving.)

Last Christmas we decided not to decorate because 1) we had someone living with us and didn't have room to decorate 2) we were traveling for Christmas and didn't think it was necessary if we weren't even going to be here and 3) couldn't really afford to buy decorations. 

The year before last, we were house/dog sitting for a couple in the East Bay -- remember them? Yeah, they let us live with them for 6 months. They got out all their decorations for us so we could celebrate our first Christmas as a married couple together. It was definitely a special and unforgettable Christmas.

So this year, our third Christmas together, we will get to decorate our own place. And I am so looking forward to it!

Pumpkin season!

Summer is really my favorite season when speaking about weather but Fall is definitely my favorite season when speaking about food. I know a lot of people look forward to the flavored lattes and spiced drinks but I look forward to the baking. Pumpkin is my favorite! It doesn't really matter what it is, but if it takes like pumpkin or smells like pumpkin I'll take it (and eat it).

Last week I made pumpkin ice cream (inspired by Trader Joe's). I have to say it turned out pretty good. I served it with graham cracker crumbs and whipped topping and it tasted like a chilled pie -- so delicious!

This weekend I made pumpkin bread. I've had this recipe for years. It was given to me during the fall I spent in Gambia by my roommate who I think got it from her mother. We were in dire need of fall tasting foods and the reminder that it really was thanksgiving that November. It is difficult to celebrate some of our holidays when your in a tropical, foreign land.

Anyway, back to the pumpkin bread. The batter made two loves. Loaf one was a disaster coming out of the pan which wasn't so bad because that meant we could eat it right away. Loaf two was much more presentable -- so here it is:

I have never been able to get my breads to rise very well -- they always look awesome in the pan but they deflate . . . at least these didn't cave in like last time!

And it tastes delicious no matter what it looks like so I'm not complaining.

Pumpkin Bread (makes two loaves):

Beat together the following 4 ingredients:
3 beaten eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (I used canned)

Then add:
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons each of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg

Mix until blended, pour in two loaf pans and bake at 325 for 1 hour.

I hope you are enjoying this fall season as much as I am!