Monday, December 22, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Not much for a menu plan here since it's Christmas week, but we'll give it a go...

Monday - Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup! Mmmm Mmmm Good!
Tuesday - DH's extended family Christmas party, I'm making buffalo chicken dip (see recipe below)
Wednesday - Christmas Eve with DH's family friends - I might be making Spinach Dip (see recipe below)
Thursday - Christmas Day! Breakfast w/ ILs & then late lunch at my grandmother's house
Friday - Low-key at my parents' house - probably take out
Saturday - My extended family Christmas party - I'm making baked brie & chicken & rice casserole (see those recipes below, too!)

Buffalo Chicken Dip
1. Preheat the oven to 425
2. Boil & shred 3-4 chicken breasts (or just use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken & shred all of that up)
3. In a bowl, stir together chicken, 2 bricks cream cheese (softened), 1 small bottle chunky bleu cheese dressing and 1/2 to 1 cup hot sauce depending on how hot you like it (I use Texas Pete or Crystal's).
4. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray & pour in the chicken mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
5. Serve with tortilla scoops, crackers or pita/bagel chips!
6. Be prepared to give the recipe out to practically everyone you encounter! (This keeps great in a mini crock-pot, although I find that mine doesn't last long enough for it to get cold! It's devoured as soon as it hits the table!)

Spinach Dip
1. In a bowl, combine 1 box frozen spinach (thawed and drained well), 1 8oz. container of cream cheese, 1 packet of dry vegetable soup mix (Knorr's is what I use), and 1 cup mayo.
2. Chill for at least an hour for flavors to meld.
3. Serve with bread chunks, from a hollowed-out wheel of pumpernickel or rye!

Baked Brie
1. Take 3 sheets of thawed Phyllo dough & spray lightly with cooking spray (to prevent drying out), stack them one on top of the other.
2. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of brown sugar in the center of the Phyllo (in about the same diameter as the wheel of brie), sprinkle on some sliced almonds.
3. Place the wheel of brie on the brown sugar & almonds, & then place more brown sugar and almonds on top.
4. Fold the sides of the Phyllo around the brie & then carefully flip it over onto the baking sheet (seam side down).
5. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes (until Phyllo is golden)
6. Serve with crackers or bagel chips

Chicken & Rice Bake (pot-luck style)
This is a recipe I found online, but modified it to make it more potluck-worthy, as it started out using whole pieces of chicken (on the bone) to feed a family of 4. Hubby is in LOVE with this rice and I will admit that it is one of my favorites, as well.
1. In a large casserole dish, melt a stick and a half of butter (in the oven) while preheating your oven to 350
2. Once the butter is melted, add to that 3 cups of rice, 3 packets of Lipton onion soup mix and 3 cans (10.5 oz, I think) of (hot) chicken broth. Stir to combine.
3. Cut 3 chicken breasts into smallish chunks & add these into the chicken mixture.
4. Cover and cook for one hour, or until chicken is cooked and rice is tender.

Merry Christmas to you & yours! Please see my Sharing Christmas post & I hope you'll link up to my friend's post to share your home's Christmas! God Bless!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sharing Christmas

My friend Megan is sponsoring a Sharing Christmas "event" on her blog! I hope you can participate, too!

Welcome to our new home! This is the Christmas card that we sent out to family & friends.

As you can see, we didn't do much outside, but some simple lighted pine garlands & I also have a Christmas candle light in each of the front windows. It looks really pretty all lit up at night. Maybe I'll add a picture of that later.

Let me preface this post by saying that this is a very new house & I can't stand the whiteness of it all, but what can I do? We won't be painting until next fall due to waiting out nail pops & with that in mind, please take a look around!

Here is our foyer. Above the door are the cute little snowman corner huggers. So cute!

Walking further in, you will see the closet & basement doors. The closet door is one of my favorite things because it has the advent wreath that my mom made from needle-point when I was little. My brother and I would each take turns putting up a piece each day in December. I always had my favorites like the ballerina, the gingerbread girl & the little orphan Annie doll, while my brother liked the cat, the soldier & the gingerbread boy. Santa was ALWAYS saved to be put up on Christmas Eve and baby Jesus on Christmas day. This is one tradition that will definitely stick around for us.

As we continue through the house, we come to the living room. This is where our tree is. Decorating the tree has always been one of my favorite parts of Christmastime. The tree tells such a story for us, as we don't really have any decorations that aren't near and dear. They are all either ones that we made growing up, were given to us by our parents year-by-year growing up, or were made for me by my grandparents (my grandfather cuts them out of wood & my grandmother paints them). We also have a few that have been given to us by students, but we have to be kind of selective with those since we tend to get smaller trees and the near-and-dear ornaments always get top billing. Can you tell the trunk isn't perfectly centered in this tree? Look how off the tree-skirt looks?!
Beside the tree is our games cabinet where I display the Christmas cards. In our old house, I used to tape them to the basement door, which was right inside the doorway. I loved that set-up and have been struggling to find a new place to display them in this house. It's amazing how new and different everything seems trying to put the same Christmas items up in the new places. I guess that's just a testament to how much of creatures of habit we really are.
And don't you just love the little snowman guy hanging on the handle? He's an old-timey pull-toy. When you pull his string, he seems to say "It's Christmas! YAY!"

Now, we come to the entertainment center in the living room. This is where we keep our stockings (look closely, you can see the one for our kitty, too) and the first of my many nativity sets. This set is the Lenox China Jewels set & my MIL started giving me pieces when Gregg and I first got married. She has been continually adding to the set each Christmas & I have to admit that it is one of my most prized possessions.

Isn't it beautiful?

Also in the living room, we have another of my nativity sets. The kids at our Christmas party last week really enjoyed playing with this one. It's made of fimo or sculpey clay & I think it is so cute! Beside the nativity, you can also see the infamous Christmas tree football. G & his sister spent many a Christmas throwing the poor quilted tree around the house in perfectly-practiced spiral tosses. When we got married, G's aunt made one for him & he was so excited (really, much more excited than any grown man should be for a fabric and stuffing tree!)

As we make our way over into the kitchen, I don't have many decorations to share, but I do have four more nativity sets in this area. Two are on the kitchen/breakfast nook window sill, one is on my onion/potato bin, and the other is a magnetic set on the refrigerator. The big kids (ahem) at the party had a great time playing with these. I'll have to do a followup post later so you can see how the shepherd and a palm tree became playing pieces in a rousing round of Loaded Questions, Adult Version...
And finally, we come to my favorite part of the decorations, the dining room (aka the snowman room). As I mentioned earlier, it was quite an interesting experience this year, trying to find a new place for decorations that had already had their places in our old home for the past 3 Christmases. As I began putting things out, I realized that with all of my snowman decorations, they would all go nicely in the dining room. So, here they are!

Yet another advent calendar - this one is similar to one that G used with his sisters growing up.

I hope you enjoyed the little tour through our home! Please have a happy & safe Christmas! I'll try to make another post with pics from last weekend's Christmas party, too!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


There's an awesome Fiestaware giveaway HERE! Check it out!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A day late and a dollar short...

Sorry, I am a day late with these pics, but here it is! G's birthday cake! And NO, I did not make this. Our neighbor is a cake artist and AMAZING! Isn't it adorable?

Don't you just want to pinch those adorable little gum-paste cheeks of his?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gregg!

Happy birthday to the most wonderful guy on the face of God's great Earth! I love you!

PS - pics of his awesome cake coming tomorrow!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Update on my appointment...

Well hello everyone! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Ours was pretty good, minus the discovery of our leaky washing machine, which, consequently, dripped down THROUGH THE BRAND NEW FLOOR, right THROUGH THE BRAND NEW CEILING in our BRAND NEW HOUSE...but I digress...Thanksgiving was otherwise splendid. Really.

I wanted to keep you all posted on yesterday's appointment. I met with the new doctor, Doctor B & I fell in love with him from the get-go! The first thing he said as I sat down was, "you're way too young to have a file this thick" to which I of course agreed. He then asked my thoughts on future treatments (G & I had discussed doing IUI with acupuncture mostly as a last-ditch effort treatment before pursuing adoption) and then he made some suggestions for me.

One suggestion that came out was a study that is currently open for donor egg candidates. For basically free (up to $2000 simply to cover the testing for the egg donor), we would use a known donor (someone we choose...if we have no one and it were to be anonymous, it would cost about $10K) and then inject their eggs with G's sperm. After three days (this is the study part), they would take all of the viable embryos & biopsy half of them. They are studying to see the effects of biopsy on embryos. Apparently old research had said it was helpful, but new research is indicating that perhaps biopsied embryos are not more likely to stick and become pregnancies after all. This is what they are testing for. Of all of the embryos retrieved, they would then transfer back to me, one non-biopsied embryo and one biopsied embryo. If a birth results, the only post-requirements of the program would be to submit any children born from the study to a cheek swab upon birth...sounds easy enough to me!

Gregg was nervous when I told him about it, mostly because he thought that I was so against donor eggs...he's been spending this whole time thinking that I've been the one attached to having my DNA when in reality, I am more attached to the whole experience than having my DNA present. His biggest fear now is finding the right person. He especially does not want to ask someone whom we see on a regular basis - he thinks it would be a really weird situation for both us and any children we could have from the procedure...and I tend to agree. Let me know if you have any leads to someone who might be interested. There is no compensation, which is why it is a HUGE favor to ask of someone and not to be taken lightly (which I understand), but at the same time, we are on a pretty tight schedule here, since the study is a first-come, first-served basis & they are taking 50 women. The first fifty that qualify are in & that's it, so the dr. doesn't know how long it could take to find that many that qualify, but he is certain that I would.

OK - a little TMI here...(just to warn you!)
He did ultrasound and bloodwork & told me that I have a beautiful uterus (awww, shucks, Dr. B!), but that my lining was thick like it wanted to shed (which is what you would expect for not having a period in 70 days). He found tons of nice little follicles (which is also amazing since I've never really had more than two or three in there)...he showed me about 7 of various sizes. He also found a large mass (likely a cyst or an endometrioma 16x19mm in size), which he thinks is releasing hormones, causing my body to think that I've had my period when I really haven't. He ran every type of test imaginable on my blood (pg test, FSH, LH, progesterone, estrogen, estradial, plus a urine test) & I will get the results of that later today. If I haven't ovulated in the last week & my body shows no signs of an impending ovulation, he's going to give me drugs to bring on my period & hopefully get this show on the road. If we decide to do the study, I will take a month to get the preliminary testing done & then another month to suppress & prep for the egg transfer. Whew! Sounds like a busy couple of months ahead of us, but I am SO EXCITED to have some hope!

Please pray for us that we could find a donor's certainly not likely that we will ever come across an opportunity like this (studies for poor responders are nearly non-existent), but I also realize that it's a huge favor to ask of's times like this that I wish a had a sister (who didn't mind being poked with needles and going for ultrasounds every couple of days for a week or so)....

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A new post is coming...

A new post is coming this week! I promise! I hope to have lots of info to share tomorrow & hopefully some Christmas decoration pictures soon :)