Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Being Thankful.

So, you're probably wondering why I'm posting about "being thankful" when Thanksgiving is over. You're probably thinking I should talk about Christmas-y things, and fluff and floof. {Is "floof" even a word?} So I'm going to give you one "Christmas-y" thing today, and then move on to my actual post.

All of our friends and families have received our Christmas cards, so now I'm free to show them to you!

May I present to you, "Feliz Navidad" from Tiny Prints:


{And if you're wondering, yes, we took this photo while we were on our anniversary trip in Mexico. Hence the "Feliz Navidad."}

So now, being thankful.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you can understand why yesterday was a really difficult day for me and a lot of other people. It was hard, tears were shed and it was an all-around sucky day. I (along with many others) felt very down, confused, frustrated, sad -- the full range of emotions -- yesterday. If my husband would have let me, I would have downed a bottle of wine...or two...the moment I got home.

{For the record: I didn't even have one glass.}

And so this morning as I was reading my morning blog roll, I was comforted when reading Katie's blog about "Staying in a State of Gratitude." She talked about dwelling on the big {and little} things that she was thankful for for that day only. Staying in a state of thankfulness and gratitude actually keeps us closer and more connected to God.

And boy, did I need to be thankful and grateful today.

So that got me thinking. What am I thankful for today? Just today?

  • Waking up next to my best friend, who kissed my forehead when he got up earlier than me this morning
  • That that best friend {aka: my husband} has an awesome job that provides for our family
  • That I still have a job, especially since it's almost Christmas, and that I have an understanding boss
  •  Having my mom to talk to about everything, and knowing she's there if I need her
  • That Baylor will most likely get the bid for the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on Dec. 29!
  • Having a heater in my house and a coat to wear on this cold morning
  • Good, true friends...including those that we've met through our Sunday School class. Friends that don't care where we live, where we're from, what kinds of cars we drive, what college we did (or didn't) go to, and friends that reply when you text them at 6:45 a.m. asking for prayer.
  • The amazing gift we received in the mail from my grandmother
  • It's almost December, meaning Brandon's birthday is Sunday. I'm thankful to celebrate him for the fourth year.
  • Coffee. That cup was so good this morning.
  • That, because Brandon has dinner with his boss tonight, I don't have to cook and I can watch Monday's Gossip Girl and yesterday's Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.
I challenge y'all to do this with me. Of course, I won't do this every day (that would get annoying real quick) but I will think about it and reflect on it.

Thank you to those friends and family who were so kind and thoughtful yesterday! I love each of you!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!

The Monday after a holiday always comes so quickly. I wish I was still at home in my Christmas PJ's doing this:


But since I'm not (and can't!), I might as well make the best of it...and remind myself that I have three weeks and one day until my two-week "Christmas break."

Can I please tell you quickly how proud I am of my Baylor Bears?! They beat Texas Tech 66-42 on Saturday night. And I love that a guy in my office just stopped by my desk and said, "How 'bout RG3!?" Made my day. I love that people are noticing that we're not just "Baylor" anymore.

And, I've professed my love of Jenny Steffens Hobick to you before, but I must profess it again. Her *Penne Pasta Pie?

To. Die. For.


It's definitely a "weekend meal," because it has multiple steps and this working girl {that gets home around 6 p.m. every night} can not pull this together in time for a normal weeknight supper.

So, please put this on your menu for this weekend. You won't regret it.

Happy Monday, friends! I'm off to grab {another} cup of coffee.

*Penne Pasta Pie (My version)

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning
1 jar Prego pasta sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1 box sliced mushrooms
1 box whole-wheat penne
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, remove chicken from packaging and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

2. Bake the chicken for 20 minutes. While the chicken is baking, boil pasta according to package directions, less two minutes.

3. In a large saute pan, heat Prego 3-5 minutes or until bubbly. Mix in mushrooms and heat thoroughly. {Stir constantly!} Stir in heavy cream.

4. Once chicken is cooked, remove from oven and cut into 1-inch pieces. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

5. Mix together in large bowl: pasta, sauce mixture and chicken; pour half of the mixture into a greased baking dish and top with half of the chopped mozzarella. Pour the rest of the mixture into the dish and top with remaining mozzarella.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let sit for a minute or two before serving. Top each individual serving with Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We've been doing nothing.

We have literally done nothing the past two days and it's been wonderful. It's cold and rainy in Dallas today. 

The perfect day to curl up inside with this:


We've been watching non-stop college football since Thursday night. And I love it. 

In fact, I didn't even get out of my pajamas yesterday. Brandon went to work, and I literally sat around doing nothing. Our house is clean, laundry is done and there is honestly nothing else for me to do around here, and everything's checked off on my to-do list. I could so get used to this! 


Today we slept late, Brandon made pancakes for breakfast, and we set out on a mission to find fireplace tools {thank you, Home Goods!} and fire wood {thanks, Home Depot!} 

We're currently cuddled up on the couch with cups of cinnamon coffee watching the Auburn/Alabama game...and literally are counting down the minutes until the Baylor/Tech game. 


Happy {cozy} weekend. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are back from a quick day trip to Shreveport, Louisiana for the annual Talley family Thanksgiving. 

And, I'm sure you've read your fair share of "I'm thankful for..." posts this week, so I'm just going to tell you quickly that I'm thankful for all of the people in the below picture, my handsome husband, true friends, a fabulous job, our home and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Oh, and cherry cream pie. Can't forget cherry cream pie. 

{Please notice my silly brother's expression in this picture. It went something like this:

"Okay! Everyone smile! One...two...PARKER!"} 


{Oh, and for you blog reader newbies:
L-R: Dad, Mom, Royden, Maggie, me, Parker, Brandon, Aunt Tina, Grammy and Grumpy}

There are so many of us that we have to eat at my Aunt Dot and Uncle Joe's church. I think it's hilarious and I absolutely love it. 

...and with the church setting comes church toys. And Brandon and Maggie loved these tricycles. 


We don't do place cards, placemats or something fancy and stiff. Nope. We do a fabulous buffet of food: turkey, dressing, corn casserole, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, black-eyed peas, asparagus and english pea casserole, rolls, and more desserts {yes, including my beloved cherry cream pie} than you know what to do with, and we visit and laugh. 

And it's perfect. 


See, I told you there were a lot of us!

{Don't you love the backdrop?! Ha!}


The Whitacre household is officially ready for Christmas. 


I didn't do much this year. I put up our tree, hung our stockings and this Pinterest banner...


...hung a wreath on the front door and put this berry wreath on the mirror in our little breakfast area. 


And you know what? It's perfect, and I love it. Just like our Thanksgiving. 

Hope yours was fabulous. Sweatpants, a blanket and a glass of vino are calling my name. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Labels and such.

So yesterday after "pinning" multiple free printables, I got the DIY itch.

I found these spice labels on Pinterest and immediately knew that I needed to do this.

Please look at my unorganized spices before:


And after:



All I did was print off the labels on adhesive paper, cut them out, and I soaked the jars in warm, sudsy water {make sure that your lids are tightly sealed} and the labels peeled right off. I dried them thoroughly and stuck these labels on!

Gosh, I love Pinterest.

I'm at work for just a bit this morning, and then am going home to decorate for Christmas. Hey, why not?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Heart Printables

I am obviously very addicted to Pinterest, and I just love {free} printables! Some of these we won't use for a couple of years, but it's fun to have them on hand when we will need them. And some of them I can use ASAP!

Here are just a few I've been printing today:



Christmas {from "Elf"}


{I am obsessed with Jenny Steffens Hobick's blog!!!}










Happy Tuesday! I'm working from home tomorrow until 3 p.m., then it's off to Shreveport on Thursday!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Baking + Presents

I love cool, rainy, short weeks like this. It reminds me of being in high school and just waiting for school to get out for the Thanksgiving holiday. Days that were full of doing little more than counting down the hours until the bell rang, and filling those hours with mindless tasks, like organizing your binder and playing M*A*S*H with your friends. 

That was my day, (minus the M*A*S*H), which included checking things off my to-do list and posting this photo on the desks of every OU alum in our office, with the bolded words:

45-38
Sic 'Em, Bears!!!

{And for the record, I only got one sore loser, who told me they 'didn't have time for Baylor right now.' I told them to quit being a sore loser, and welcomed them to our usual loser camp.}

But tonight, oh tonight. We welcomed Thanksgiving into our home a little early. 

I lit my pumpkin spice candle, made Martha's Roasted Salmon with White Wine Sauce {okay, not really Thanksgiving, but it was on the menu}, and baked some yummy pumpkin muffins for hubby's recruiters, using this recipe + some pumpkin pie spice. 

{I tasted some, and I must say...they're good.}


And we filled the evening with Monday Night Football and chatting with hubby's brother about Christmas gifts...which included me admiring my recently-wrapped Christmas gifts, currently taking up residence near our TV. 


It's going to be a very Pinterest Christmas. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weird Weekend.

It was just one of "those" weekends. As much as I craved a relaxing weekend, it just didn't seem to happen. Brandon and I were just "off" this weekend. And it wasn't pretty, fun or relaxing. But we're human, and it happens.

Blogging is hard. I try so hard to be transparent with y'all while still keeping a bit of privacy for myself and my husband (and our families). And it's hard because there are so many times that I want to tell you that I just bawled my eyes out because Brandon and I got into an argument, or that I had a tiff with a family member, or I'm upset with a friend. And on the other hand, there are times that I want to scream from the rooftops and tell y'all how much I love my husband, and how great our families and friends are.

But there's a thin line that I have been struggling with lately, because I know that what y'all see here is a only glimpse of our daily lives. I'm not perfect, Brandon isn't perfect, our families aren't perfect, our jobs aren't perfect, and our home isn't perfect. I struggle because, as with a lot of folks, we have really good days and we have really bad days. And I know that you don't want to read here that Brandon and I argued over something silly, but I also know that you don't want to hear me saying that our life is just Cleaver family perfect, either. {News flash, it's not!}

Because I know when I read blogs and the person is just a Negative Nancy, I get turned off and think, "Well, what the heck is HER problem?" And when the person is just a Happy Holly, I get annoyed and think, "My gosh, don't you have a bad day?!" 

So I'm not really going to tell you about this weekend, because A) I know you don't want to hear about it and  B) I think that even though I do blog, my husband and I do deserve a bit of privacy. 

So I will tell you that we had dinner at Rusty Taco on Friday night with our friends Jessica and Austin {we just love them! Hey, Jess!}. 

And that cheered our Baylor Bears on to victory as they beat the Oklahoma Sooners for the first time EVER! 45-38...Sic 'Em, Bears! (We heart RG3.) 


And I'll tell you that we went to church this morning {my gosh, did we need it} and got to visit with our friends there, too. And that I came home and put Salsa Chicken in the Crock Pot for tonight's supper.

And I'll even give you a sneak peek of what I'll be doing this afternoon:  


That's right, wrapping Christmas (and Brandon's birthday) gifts. 

I'm also attempting to thread this banner with green ribbon so that it'll be ready to hang on Friday. 


So, thank you for reading this blog and sticking with me. I hope that you guys understand a "blogger's right to privacy," and that you understand that I'm trying to be as open and honest as I can be. 

I hope y'all have a great Sunday. Cheers to a short week!

{First photo via Google}

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Beginning to {Feel} A Lot Like Christmas!

Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely hate when people completely skip Thanksgiving and move straight to Christmas.

But, I am slowly becoming one of "those" people, admittedly. I ordered our Christmas cards in October; I've already purchased a few Christmas gifts; I started listening to Christmas music this morning {Dallasites, 103.7 has it running 24/7 now!} and I'm sitting here thinking, "What could I do to prepare for Christmas just a bit earlier this year?"

I looked at my calendar (that I obsessively carry around with me everywhere) this morning and noticed that from next weekend on, we're completely, utterly booked. I could bore you with the details, but I won't. You're welcome.

But I will tell you that I absolutely, positively love Christmas. I always have. And I still - at 24 years old - can't sleep on Christmas Eve because I am just so excited for Christmas morning!

So I did it. I bit the bullet today, and I addressed and sealed all of our Christmas cards. They're not stamped, but they're pretty much done. Whew!

{You didn't think I'd really let you see them, did you? Not until they've been mailed!}


And I've officially decided on our Christmas wrapping paper "theme" this year:

Brown paper packaging tied up with string red ribbon.


You see, I always have to have a "theme" for my Christmas paper each year. It really bothers me if I don't.

And I've been seeing lots of brown craft paper with red accents all over Pinterest lately, so, with my friend Laura, decided that this could be purchased at The Container Store...where I will be making a trip this weekend.

Isn't it so festive?


And to add to the paper, I love the idea of using scrapbook paper or pages out of books to make large initials as gift tags. Simple and cute!


I think my "Pinterest Craft" for the week will be this "Believe" banner for the fireplace. So simple, yet cute and fun.

{And I'm a big red & green decorator during the Christmas holiday season.}


I'm going to write this on our chalkboard in the kitchen. Something cute and different from just, "Merry Christmas."

...and even though it will not always be cold outside in Texas in December, I can still dream!


We have a mini-tree {affectionately called "Little Guy"}, so we can't have a huge tree-topper, like I want.

This is just a cardboard letter from Michael's that the blogger painted with glue and sprinkled with glitter. Fun and simple...and different!

This might be Pinterest craft #2 for the weekend...


Since I did this with my square apothecary jars in October, I thought it would be fun to do the cranberries in the jars in December.

Thoughts?


Anyway, happy almost-Christmas!

We have dinner plans with friends tonight at our favorite, Rusty Taco. So excited!

Happy Friday and happy weekend!

{All photos except first photo via Pinterest}

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

iPhone Photo Overload: New York, New York!

I'm currently writing to you from JFK Airport, where I just staffed a client event. As busy as I thought this airport would be, it's not. I'm jamming out to the likes of Adele, the Backstreet Boys and hits of the 80's on the airport's speaker system. I like it!

Just being here for 24 hours makes me want to move here. The lights, the energy...! I keep singing "Empire State of Mind" to myself. :)

{New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there's nothing you can't do...}

I flew into LaGuardia Airport last night {unfortunately, no Cash Cab} and hightailed it into the city to see my sweet friend Jenny. She and I used to work together at my old office; she moved to NYC eight months ago for a new PR job and she just loves it! I'm so happy for her.

We met for dinner at Agave in West Village...


...wandered the {precious} streets of West Village...



Jenny took me on my first NYC subway ride to Rockefeller Center. 

I've ridden the Tube in London, but this is SO different...and much more confusing. But I loved it!


We got off at Rockefeller Center, home of Radio City Music Hall and 30 Rockefeller Plaza


Of course I had to stop and get a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery!


Isn't their "Rockette Red Velvet" so precious? (It was tasty, too!) 


We left Magnolia and I just had to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree...even though it was beneath scaffolding. :)


And because I am mildly obsessed with The Today Show, I had to see Studio 1A!


Hi to the chairs of Matt, Al and Ann! 


People were ice skating at 30 Rock, which I just loved. If I had more time, I so would've done it. 


Then, we literally turned a corner and were in Times Square. Of course, I've been to New York City before and know there's really nothing in Times Square, but I wanted to say I went! 


There's me in front of the NYPD station with my "I <3 New York" coffee mug. 

{You didn't think I'd go to NYC and not buy something, did you!?} 


And then we turned another corner and were in Bryant Park, (the former home of New York's Fashion Week) with great visibility of the Empire State Building


I got to JFK this morning for my client event, and lookie who showed up: 


Yes, that would be Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (!!!!!!!!), whom I got to personally shake hands with, give talking points to and say "Thank you for coming" to. 

Mildly obsessed. 

{She is so nice, btw.}


I've decided that Brandon and I are coming up here next year. I want to do a Northeast tour and hit Boston, Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia and the like.

{New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there's nothing you can't do...}

Happy Wednesday!