Thankful in November

I’m not a fan of blowing up my own Facebook news feed every day with stuff, so I’ll keep a blog entry for the month.

I’m thankful for…

11/1  …all the opportunities I’ve had to travel the US and the world. It’s such a blessing to be able to see all of God’s people in action, and to minister to His church.

11/2 …the safety we’ve had while traveling. Even when I was in Bolivia in the midst of their president resigning and there being transportation strikes all over the country, I was able to get home safely.

11/3 …God bringing us to El Paso. I’ve always felt connected to the Southwest, but wasn’t sure why, and I actually cried (not with joy) when Aaron told me we were moving here. But I can truly say we love it here.

11/4 …my parents and sisters, and that we’re so close. So many people can’t stand their families or are estranged from them, and although we’ve had our moments, we forgive each other and move on. My sisters are my best friends.

11/5 …my relationship with my husband. We’ve been apart for over half of our almost 10-year relationship, and because of that we are expert communicators with each other. We can pick our battles and not let the small things get to us (most of the time…;))

11/6 …the fact that God provides everything we need. We may not always have extra, but we have enough. If I didn’t have my job I have now, we wouldn’t be able to go home for Christmas or to the World Missions Summit. Coincidence? I think not.

11/7 …that I discovered my professional calling at a young age, 17 to be exact. I knew I would go into education before I graduated high school, and I found out that I love teaching. It makes me happy, especially when I’m having a crappy day. I love interacting with students, and with my international students, I’m learning so much!

11/8 …beautiful fall weather in the desert. Highs in the 80’s, lows in the 50’s. Sunny every day with barely a cloud in the sky.

11/9 …for the years my grandparents had together, and for the years I had with my grandpa. We got closer as I got older. Today would have been their 60th anniversary.

11/10 …growing up in the Midwest, and the fond memories I have. Things weren’t always perfect, but I had a stable childhood and lived in the same house practically all my life. I doubt our children will be able to say the latter. 🙂

11/11 …all the veterans that have protected our freedom, and especially for the veterans in my family.. my husband, brothers-in-law, father-in-law, older cousin, grandfather, friends… our country is free because of their sacrifices.

11/12 …for the desert sun in the fall and winter. It may be chilly (now it’s in the 30’s at night!) but that sun feels amazing.

11/13 …for my parents taking us to church when we were little. I spent a lot of time at the church behind my house in service, Sunday school and volunteering. I learned a lot and many of the Bible verses and hymns have stuck with me throughout the years.

11/14 …this opportunity to study further and to have a job that I love. Thank you, Lord. A year ago I was in a horrible horrible job situation and I’m thankful to be doing this now! In fact, I think a year ago I was saying to Aaron how great it would be to study for my Master’s in linguistics, and here I am! Now to apply for a scholarship that would pay for my whole year next year…

11/15 …for our Pit bull mix, Missy. This girl is the best companion when Aaron’s gone and such a sweetheart. Glad we decided to adopt her!

11/16 …that my parents raised us in a way that we were thankful for what we had, and we didn’t always strive for the newest/most expensive things. It makes me appreciate what I have now; if we didn’t have used furniture (family hand-me-downs) then we wouldn’t have anything to sit or sleep on!

11/17 …our cars, which are both 15 years old but still run well. I will have my little Camry until the day it bites the dust. 183,500 miles and counting! We got Aaron’s car, a ’96 Honda, over a year ago when we expected him to deploy only a few short months later. Over a year later (and after a little pocket change…) and it’s still running well!

11/18 …simple evenings. Homemade chicken and dumplings in the crockpot for dinner, and relaxing and watching TV on the couch.

11/19 …my husband’s approval of my coffee budget for school/work. Sometimes (or a lot of times) you just gotta have Starbucks.

11/20 …our church friends who feel like family here… Alvin, Lacey, Marc, Leah Beth, Elizabeth, Stephanie, Karla, Gabe, Doug, Priscilla, Rachel, Mando, and many others. We’re spending Thanksgiving with some of our “family” from church eating and playing games.. can’t wait!

11/21 …for “us”. I love everything about us, the way we love each other, that we’ve been together for almost 10 years, married for almost 5. That we don’t feel the need to have kids in order to enjoy parades or pumpkin patches or corn mazes. That our family, though it’s just the two of us, feels totally complete right now.

11/22 …for our nieces and nephews. We miss them so much!

11/23 …for the fact that we like to stay active. Today was Day 2 of the Holiday Run Streak and it’s fun to go for a run/walk with Missy in the mornings.

11/24 …for our junior high students. We’ve been working with them for over a year now and they’re such a blessing and teaching us a lot in the process!

11/25 …for our house. We had an apartment for three years, and while it wasn’t tiny by any means, it’s nice not having to go up three flights of stairs to carry groceries in!

11/26 …for my health. I thought a year and a half ago I might have heart issues, but I learned that it was something easily controlled by diet and lifestyle, which is also the same for my migraines.

11/27 …for the means to go to Illinois for Christmas. We weren’t able to go last year.

11/28 …for our nieces and nephews. Joel, Rhianna, Zaia, Lena, Rand, and little Benjamin is in the oven. 😉 Being an aunt is the BEST.

11/29 …for a full fridge and pantry. So thankful for all the delicious food!

11/30 …for my in-laws and the rest of Aaron’s family. Thankful to  have a good relationship with them.

The menu according to Mom and Pinterest

It’s sad in Texas lately, and by sad, I mean cloudy. Seriously. How do people live without the sun? Granted, we have over 300 sunny days per year, but still. Usually if it’s cloudy it’ll be sunny in a few hours. Lately, it’s just been cloudy. All. Day. Long. A little melodramatic? Maybe.

And to top it off, I just don’t feel like running. Sitting on my couch, sipping coffee and looking at pretty pictures of food is sufficient for me. However, we have a half marathon to run in just a month, so yeah. Better get my bootylicious self out the door.

As I wait for my breakfast to digest so I can go run it off (I’m thinking 7-9 miles?? Maybe?) I’m making my grocery list for the next couple weeks.

Prepare. To. DROOL:

In the crockpot:

Jambalaya. Smoked turkey sausage, chicken, rice, spices… yum. I might do shrimp instead of chicken… this pic is from the almighty Pinterest. Aaron will love me forever times two with this meal.

Corn chowder.

I don’t have a picture of this. But I use parts of my mom’s recipe. To cook it in the crockpot, I use evaporated milk. FYI: fat free just doesn’t do it. It’s too soupy. You want a chowder. I cook hot Italian sausage on the stove, drain and rinse it, and put it in the crockpot with a couple cans of evaporated milk, an onion, some potatoes, canned or frozen corn (creamed works too).

Pulled pork.

Okay, so no picture of this either. I get a shoulder pork roast, put it in the crockpot with some BBQ sauce, onion, and spices and let it cook all day on low. Then, I pull it off the bone, shred it, and put it back in the crockpot with more BBQ sauce. I love it served on whole wheat sandwich thins with cheese. Deeeelicious.

Honey chicken. This sounds delicious and easy. I love honey, and I love chicken. So there ya go. Again, Pinterest to the rescue. I get the big box of 1-minute brown rice and use it for all kinds of things. (Even the peas in this picture look good!)

Pinned Image


In the oven:

Enchiladas. Darn it, no picture yet again. My Hispanic friends here laugh when I tell them how I make my enchiladas… but they’re still so good. I cook up some ground beef, simmer it with black beans, tomatoes, peppers, onion, and taco seasoning and sauce. I heat up some corn tortillas and roll the mixture into about eight tortillas and put them seam side down in a glass pan. I put the rest of the mixture over the top with some cheese and bake them covered with foil. The last few minutes I take the foil off so the cheese can melt all the way. This is how my mom’s always made them (well, mostly… we Little women kind of do our own thing). I have Ortega taco sauce (the BEST, in my opinion) and sour cream on hand.

For Christmas Day:

This is our first Christmas, just the two of us, so I actually have to prepare an entire dinner. Oh darn. 😉 So far I know I want to make ham… what else do you cook for your traditional (or not so traditional) Christmas dinner? Christmas Eve growing up we always had chili and then my grandma brought a shrimp ring. Sounds funny, right? Totally normal for us. Hahaha.

Anyway. I’m going a little traditional with some sticky caramel rolls and wassail (a traditional English holiday drink made with apple juice or cider, oranges, cinnamon sticks and spices). Picture from Betty Crocker.

Overnight Pecan Rolls

I might also make this breakfast braid. It has jalapeños, so hubby will be happy! Image from

Jalapeño, Sausage, Jack, and Egg Breakfast Braid Recipe

When meal planning, I’m all about making things that are easy to throw into the crockpot, do well as leftovers, and have almost every food group in the dish. I rarely make side dishes, just because of time’s sake. We’ll have a piece of fruit or bread & butter.

I also will be making some chocolate crinkles, some more peanut butter kiss cookies, and sugar cookies. I usually buy whole wheat or white whole wheat flour, but I think this time around I’ll just get white flour. I think it has a better consistency for Christmas cookies. I’m going to bake these next week when I have more time during the day.

I usually spend about $100 every two weeks, and we rarely have to run to the store to pick things up during the two weeks until we shop again.

Happy baking and cooking for the holidays!

>New summer food ideas

>Last week when I went to the store, I filled up about half of my cart with produce. I should have thought through my week to realize that I wouldn’t be home a whole lot to cook, but thankfully most of it was still good today.

I had two bananas that were very very ripe and wanted to bake with them. So I found this recipe online for banana muffins. Instead of the 1.5 cups of flour, I put in .5 cup almond flour, .5 cup of my oatmeal mix and .5 cups of white whole wheat flour. I also added one finely chopped apple and used two bananas instead of three. Very yummy with real butter to top it off! To make them even healthier, I could have replaced the butter with a mix of water and ground flax seed, and the sugar with Splenda. But I’m a huge fan of real butter and real sugar. The best part is that you can have one.. or two three… and not feel horribly guilty.

Here’s what I made for lunch. I tried a version this recipe for tropical guacamole. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out… I had one avocado, a little salt, juice from a lime, pineapple and watermelon. Interesting combo, to say the least. I used the peas to dip. Overall, not a huge fan of the guac.

I had some leftover steak from the kabobs Leah and I made on Wednesday, so I cut that up and put it over some spinach (my salad mix had already gone bad) and tomato. I’m usually not a picky person, but for some reason I have a problem with the texture of the meat and the veggies together. It was still tasty, though. Maybe next time I’ll eat it separately.

I love tomato so I had the other half of the one in the salad.

The weird thing with butter in it over to the left is called a Butter Bell… it keeps the butter fresh at room temperature for a very long time. I don’t use margarine anymore; only butter.

And of course, I had to wash this all down with a big glass of (decaf) tea.

I always like to try new things in the kitchen; I get bored easily with the same recipes prepared the same ways. I also like to use leftovers and any food I already have because I love grocery shopping, but only like to do it twice a month.

Enjoy the day! It’s a hot one. I think I’ll bum around inside, finishing up some cleaning and laundry and maybe taking a nap.

Check it out…

 El Paso, TX Weather Forecast

Peoria, IL Weather Forecast
Pretty similar, if you ask me (except for the rain…)