A Post for Bragging

Okay, so my new years resolution to write more went out the window in February! (Don’t most resolutions?) 🙂 but I have something worth writing about today! (Okay I have several but they go in different posts) Here’s the most current.
I spent the weekend in Starkville.  My brother Jasper was ordained as a deacon in the church that he attends. Being chosen as a deacon is a huge honor,  and an even bigger responsibility.  It takes a man of great faith, with great conviction,  determination and commitment to his God and his church family. It also takes commitment and encouragement from a Godly wife, which my brother was greatly blessed with in Nicole.

We were also able to Skype with Jacob and Jessica in New York. Stationed far away from family so they could not be here with us, Jacob has committed to serving our country, which also takes a man of great faith, with grit, determination,  courage, and commitment to God and country. It too, takes commitment and support from a devoted and Godly wife, which he was blessed with in Jessica.

My husband Matthew was unable to accompany us this weekend, as he had to stay home and work to provide for our family. He has a job that unfortunately he does not enjoy, but that he gets up and goes to faithfully each day, thankful that he can provide for his family. That too, takes a man of great character,  determination and commitment to provide the best he can for his family, no matter the circumstances or sacrifice,  with faith in God that with hard work, the situation can only improve.

As I lay here, tired from my weekend travels, I am overwhelmed with a sense of pride and blessing. My husband and my brothers, the wonderful men in my life, deserve more praise than they know, and I don’t tell them enough. As do my sisters. We might not have a lot, but our parents instilled in us all a love of Christ,  a sense of pride in ourselves, our country, and our families.  Jacob and Jasper may be my younger brothers, but they have become wonderful role models for their big sister, and I could not be more proud of the paths they have chosen and the families they have created. Just as I a blessed and proud of the husband and father I have created my own family with. My heart is overflowing.

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Almost Missed It!

February has flown by.  So quickly that I almost broke my new years resolution in the first two months! Its been fun, busy, a little scary, and WAY too cold for me! (My house doesn’t function well in cold weather and neither do I!) Anyway, we met with Dr. BK, the specialist, on a snowy, icy day. During the ultrasound the technician kept saying everything looked great, which made us happy, happy! The little one did not want to cooperate and let us get a good picture, but we finally got a profile shot! The doc did tell us they found a cyst in the brain, which freaked me out, but after talking about it with my Dr., and several nurse/obgyn friends, we are confident that it will correct itself and not cause any problems. Apparently it happens more than we knew. I will have another ultrasound on my next visit and I can’t wait! Until then I must be content to let my child use my bladder as a trampoline! (its favorite pastime)

Halfway!

Next was Valentine’s day, which we spent at home together, enjoying one of the few moments left of “just us” time! Mr. Garrett prepared a fabulous meal complete with appetizer, fancy plating, and dessert! We ate in the candlelight and watched Ghost Adventures. I ate every bit of the deliciousness he put in front of me, and was unashamed.

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Appetizer: Fried catfish nuggets with spicy aioli

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Close up: Filet, scallops, zucchini, and asparagus. De-lish.

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Dessert: BlackBerry Cobbler a la mode

I ate more than my husband. And wished for more room too KEEP eating!

Mom has been here the last two weekends, helping ready the nursery, and the rest of the house, for baby. She hasn’t let me help too much, apparently I am not that great of a painter. I trimmed along the floor on the first coat, after that, she sent me to the kitchen to cook some soup to send to my uncle and finished herself. (I will admit, I’m much better in the kitchen!) The walls and trim are almost done! I can’t wait to be done painting. I don’t know why, I have no crib to put in there yet… or bedding… I pretty much only have a dresser at this point! Thank goodness I still have time! 🙂

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Grey walls, white trim. Will have some yellow accents. I think yellow is neutral. My husband disagrees. Oh well. I already told him the John Wayne fathead would have to wait until he was at LEAST a toddler. IF it’s a he! February’s over, y’all. Another month closer to spring! (And baby time!)

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New Year’s Resolutions

When I started blogging I had every intention of posting regularly. 2013 had its own ideas about what I would do. Between the heartaches and blessings, I got distracted from blogging. That is why my new year’s resolution is going to be to blog more regularly. Right now I am lying in my warm bed, preparing for the frigid weather to come, clearing out my dvr, and listening to my pups snore while writing this post. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday! So great in fact, that I would resolve to do this every week. But let’s get real. Life will never let that happen! So I will shoot for something more attainable, let’s say once a month. That way if I do more, I am exceeding expectations!

It will be easier, I am guessing, to have things to post about this year. I mean let’s face it, as awesome and interesting as Mr. G and I think we are, I by no means kid myself into thinking you want to hear about our daily lives. HOWEVER, with Baby G on the way, things may get a little more exciting! I am now almost 15 weeks and officially done with trimester one! And am proud to say that I have had no unpleasant symptoms, and have had nothing but good reports. Thank the good Lord! With one trimester down, it is all the more real and I cannot wait to start getting the nursery (and the rest of the house) ready for a new baby!

Halas, (right, 11mos), Elvis, (middle, 2yrs), Gracie, (left, 13 yrs)

Halas, (right, 11mos), Elvis, (middle, 2yrs), Gracie, (left, 13 yrs)

And get our other children used to the idea of a hairless brother or sister! Cute aren’t they?! 😍

I have been cooking again too! I’m still trying to figure out the best ways to share my freezer cooking techniques and recipes so hopefully as I do more, it will get better! (I get busy and forget to take pictures!) If there is anything particular you may want me to try, let me know! I love cooking probably as much as I love eating! I will share what I did document this time.

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Two chicken teterrazzi casseroles, nine chicken burritos, (there are ten here… I may have eaten one…) a chicken pot pie, a taco pasta casserole, a Mexican layer dip, a pork and polenta casserole, a lasagna, and Italian chicken and shrimp (photo one), along with ten stuffed potatoes (photo two).

I started with my meats, two chickens, a 3lb pork shoulder, 1 pkg of ground beef, 1 pkg of Italian sausage, and 1 pkg of frozen raw shrimp. I poached the biggest chicken with veggies, salt, and peppercorns, and baked the other chicken in the oven with the same spice blend I used on the pork butt, which I put in the crock pot until it was falling apart.

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Mustard, garlic, cumin, onion, and cilantro, along with half of the can of chipoltes, in adobo sauce.

These spices, along with salt and pepper, is what I used to give the butt and the other chicken a spicy, Mexican-y kick.  while prepping all of this, I had my potatoes baking in the oven on a baking sheet. I cut them in half, scraped out the soft insides, added lots of butter, cheese, heavy cream, and  green onions (along with salt and pepper of course), and I filled six of the potato skins with this mixture. Then I took some of the pkg of shrimp that I sautéed in  butter with old bay seasoning, chopped them up, and added them to the rest of the potato mix for a special treat. I put all the potatoes on a baking sheet in the deep freezer until they were frozen, then packaged them by two in freezer bags.

When the poached chicken was done, I cooled it, pulled off every little bit of chicken I could get, strained the stock, and I was ready to get moving forward on my tetrazzini and pot pie.

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With the baked chicken I shredded it, and filled tortillas with refried beans, chicken, cheese, onions, black olives, cilantro, and taco sauce. I froze these in threes in freezer bags for lunches, or snacks. (the one I ate was delicious, I will have to see how they are after having been frozen.)

Then, using the ground beef and the recipe I found here-http://www.sohowsittaste.com/2013/04/taco-spaghetti.html -I made taco spaghetti. I can’t wait to eat that! It looked and smelled delicious, and combines my two favorite things… tacos and pasta!

When the pork was tender and falling apart, I shredded it, mixed it back with some of the cooking liquid, and filled a casserole dish with yummy, cheesy and buttery polenta topped with the pork. I took a hint from Rachel Ray on that one.

Finally I made lasagna. I have never made lasagna, so this was an experiment. I took a gallon bag of my homemade spaghetti sauce out of the deep freeze and thawed it. Then I took the Italian sausage and browned it, and added a pkg of frozen spinach. Then I shredded some cheese, and mixed a large container of cottage cheese with some parmesan, salt, and pepper.

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Oh, and cooked my lasagna noodles. Then I started layering.   

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And let me tell you I didn’t think my pan was going to hold it all. My pan was about to overflow! I needn’t have been worried about it, we ate it last night and it was delicious!! Thank goodness the family was here to help eat it! I will be making this again!

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Finished product!!

I covered everything with foil and labeled it all with a sharpie. And that (other than packaging and freezing the leftover stock, concluded a successful afternoon of cooking! I took the leftover burrito fixings and layered them for a dip for new years eve, and the leftover chicken and shrimp I there together with artichokes, garlic, roasted red peppers, and olives to throw with pasta for a quick and delicious dinner. I LOVE to do this. I always feel so accomplished when I am done!

Kind of like I feel right now finishing this post! Haha I am almost embarrassed to tell y’all how long I have been working on this! 😌 Now I guess it’s time to get up and figure out what’s for supper! 😋 Happy 2014 y’all!!!

PS.- I started this post alone in my bed… This is how I am ending it…

Elvis

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Just call me Martha Stewart

Well, it has been awhile since my last post. The days following the last were some of the hardest ever, and I just want to thank everyone for the kind words, thoughts, and prayers we felt during that time. Blogging wasn’t a priority there for awhile. We are getting better and staying busy. Made it through Father’s Day. I spent the day shooting skeet with my husbands family, using the 12 gauge Dad left to me. It was pretty special.

Dad is still being remembered. His Italian “family” (for those of you who don’t know, dad spent a month in Italy a few years ago studying and went back for a friend’s wedding. Italy was one of his Favorite places in the world and he had many friends there) held a memorial for him last weekend. They planted an olive tree in his memory in the last place they saw him, where they were married. It was very sweet. I borrowed some pictures from the Facebook page they made for the event.

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The group that loved him..

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It was very special. I wish I could have gone!!

However, things are as exciting as ever in Dundee, which brings me to the title of this particular post! The last few weekends of me being home alone, in the midst of the neighbors daughter going off to college, the husband farming, and no major events occurring, gave me a chance to exercise my “wife” skills.  Several garden harvests, trips to the grocery, and HOURS of cooking later, my deep freezer is well stocked with a variety of goodness and dinner will be a SNAP to fix any night for weeks! I am very proud of myself! I wish I had a picture to share with you, because it is a thing of beauty, and one I take great pride in. I will re-evaluate, of course, after we have some of the dishes. I always worry about how things will turn out after they have been frozen. However some of the recipes I tried say they freeze well so we will see! This is what all i did!

1) Took a whole huge pork loin (That was on sale for like 1/2 what it normally cost) and cut it in half. Half went perfectly into a Tupperware with enough room to cover with my husband’s D-lish homemade marinade. So as it thaws, it will start to marinate and be ready when we are ready to cook. He is going to smoke it for me like he did the last one he cooked for mom. It was FAN-tastic. (He is a grill master extraordinaire!)

2) Took the other half of the pork loin and cut it into four THICK chops. froze two in each bag, one in marinade for delicious grilling in a flash, the others i left plain for stuffing with deliciousness.

3) Took squash from the garden and made and froze a batch of squash soup. (It’s delicious!)

4) Using fresh basil from my garden, made and froze a batch of tomato-basil soup. I froze this in quart bags, in case we didn’t want a whole gallon at once for the two of us. The squash I froze all together. We can share!

5) I poached a whole chicken and several pieces to make a chicken and rice casserole and a chicken noodle casserole. I also took a package of chicken legs and made an Asian sweet and savory marinade and froze them. They will be great for the grill or oven.  I also saved all the broth from poaching the chickens and froze it in four cup increments to use. A buck saver! Plus homemade is always better, right?!

Ground beef was on sale too. I got a HUGE almost five pound package. I also had frozen Garrett-grown tomatoes left from last summer that needed using so I got busy and made…

6) Cincinnati chili, to eat plain or over pasta like they do in, (you guessed it), Cincinnati!

7) Homemade spaghetti. Which someone remind me that i was out of tomato paste so I should probably add some when I re-heat that to thicken a bit! Tasted good though.

8) Mexican rice casserole. This made so much I split it into two dishes, froze one, and refrigerated one. We ate it Monday night. I loved it. Matthew only sort of liked it. (Don’t tell him he has to eat it at least once more! 😉

and 9) Ground beef stuffed crescent rolls. Cream cheese, green chilies, ground beef and spices wrapped up in delicious crescent rolls?! You had me at cream cheese!

10) But this is the all time best idea ever. Though it is not my own. I borrowed it from Julie, at: http://leelou-blogs.com/about We will see if that link works! Want to give credit where it’s due! This is really the best idea ever. Who doesn’t LOVE homemade pizza? So much better than out of a box, and better for you than delivery. But it is so messy and time-consuming. making the crust, waiting on it to rise, preparing the toppings, fixing to everyone’s specifications, CLEANING UP.. too much trouble for the weeknights, right? WRONG. Not if you have them pre-made and frozen. Oh yeah. I made my own crusts. It rose beautifully by the way. First success I have had with yeast! Go me! Made one a chicken Alfredo pizza and one a sausage pizza. I used the leftover sausage to make a pan of chicken and ricotta lasagna roll-ups. Not a thing goes to waste! We already tested out the chicken Alredo pizza. Delicious! We WILL be making more!

I also threw a pesto marinade in a pound of shrimp for an easy dish one night. Matthew and I at separate times caught sales and brought home hot dogs, smoked sausages, and boudin for meals, snacks, or appetizers. I let butter sit on the counter and soften, and took more herbs from my garden, and local honey from Mrs. Jan, and made garlic-chive butter, oil and herb butter, and honey butter. Roasted a whole chicken for dinner one night with that Herb butter. Mmm-mmm. The only things I have left I want to do is make some blueberry muffins because I don’t want the blueberries I bought to ruin, and I am going to experiment with a squash bread. I also found a recipe for a blackberry basil jam that I want to try. Other than that, this little farmer’s wife is gonna be taking in easy around the kitchen for awhile!

Or maybe not. My brother came to visit. He told me I needed to clean my house. Hurry back bro! 😉

Sorry for such a long post. Don’t worry I’ll never know if you don’t read it! haha!

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Dad’s condition

Well it has been a crazy time since my last post. Most reading this will already know but two days after I made my last entry, my stepmom had to take dad to the hospital. I could create a whole huge entry on what is going on and why, but why type it twice, it is all on Dad’s Caring Bridge site

Hopefully that link works! If not you can always just go to caringbridge.org and search for his name.

We have had lots of visitors and lots of prayers. His wife and kids have been freaking out for a week now. Trying not to be too excited about today’s triumphs as not to egg on another tragedy, but today has been a good day!

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Last Weekend

Last week and weekend was an exciting time, not only in my family, but in my next door “adoptive family! New experiences and lots of fun times were had by all!

I left work at three o’clock on Wednesday and ten hours later arrived, with the whole family in tow, in Columbus, GA. We were all excited to see my brother, who left for Fort Benning for US Army Infantry Basic Training on January 7th. For all of us except his wife, it would be our first time to see him since then. She had only seen him once. So we were all giddy and excited. The next morning (or after a short nap..) we got up to go to Jacob’s “Turning Blue Ceremony” where the soldiers receive their blue cords. The rest of us thought it was because the crowd turned blue that they called it that! It was FREEZING! But I mean we had to look cute for pictures!

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ImageSiblings! The twins, me and Stepbro (with the world’s cutest niece who isn’t looking)

ImageSiblings, wives, and mom.. My other half couldn’t make it.

ImageMore family! Dad, stepmom and stepbro. (with the cutest niece in the world who LOVES “her” Jacob)

After the ceremony, we got Jacob for about ten hours before he had to report back to his barracks. We had lunch and changed clothes and he wanted to show us around the Infantry museum. Was really sad that my husband wasn’t there for that. He is a HUGE history buff, and the museum would have been heavenly for him. It really was beautiful, and some of the quotes I read got my Patriotic bone tingling and made me ready for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. I may start decorating next week..

ImageImageImageCan’t help but show them off, they are pretty handsome.. and married so don’t get any ideas ladies…

ImageImageHe walked around and showed dad everything! Male bonding time.

The next morning started early, though not quite as early as Thursday! It was still chilly though! The graduation ceremony was interesting and informative (from what I could hear, we weren’t super close. But it was fun to watch. I’ve always had a soft spot for a soldier. I’m not that big into history or politics, but I am very Patriotic. It has magnified since my brother joined the Army. I am scared to death of him being shipped far away or deployed overseas don’t get me wrong, but I could not be more proud of him! He’s a Soldier. He fights for America. He fights for YOU. Thank a soldier people. It’s not an easy job.

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And my personal favorite.. Nicole (sis-in-law 2) captured this great photo. Jessica watching her honey get on the bus.. Again…Image

Okay he wasn’t ACTUALLY leaving until after a short weekend leave, he just had to go fill out some paperwork before he could go but still how great is this pic. He would be doing this same thing in two days, so what’s the difference?

Anyway, mom and Jess and the rest of them were staying to visit with Jacob some more, but me and the other twin both had weddings we had to be present for on Saturday, so we hopped in the car and headed back to Mississippi.

Now we weren’t going to the same wedding, Two different ones hours apart. Mine was the wild card. My sweet friends (Neighbor Family) planned an outside wedding. In Mississippi. In April. See where I’m heading… The forecast wasn’t good. AND there was no Plan B. So we went with Plan A… PRAY!!

But Before we could get down to wedding business, we had to avert a disaster. Neighbor family’s pup (one of the five) got hit by a trailer and the girls were in freak out mode. They had to be there to get ready with the bridesmaids so the husband and I got up to go see about baby Butch. when we got up, Matthew had a message from his mom that OUR baby may have eaten rat poison! Sure enough, blue poop in the hallway. So we load the eater and the injured in the truck and haul it to the vet. (Both are fine by the way. It’s looking like Butch’s new nickname is going to be Tripod and Halas is on vitamins.) Whew. by then it was time to go watch a beautiful ceremony and have a beverage.

By the time the wedding started, the rain had passed, and the sun even had come out! The outdoor ceremony was beside a lake and the decorations were beautiful. The reception was around the pool in her parents back yard and it couldn’t have been a more perfect wedding for two wonderful friends! (Did I mention it didn’t rain.. Ever after the wedding started. They are obviously touched by God)

Her photographer, Lee Ann Miller, Was Awesome! I have to borrow a couple of pics to show her off. Sami got some GREAT wedding photos!Image

ImageImageAren’t they great! Lee Ann Miller Photography out of Walls, MS. Great job.

Happy Newlyweds, Happy Soldier, one Happy (and tired) Friend and Sister. But I wouldn’t have missed any of it for anything in the world. All in all I’d say the weekend was a success!

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My First Post

Well, I decided for my first try at blogging I should take it easy and just post a little paragraph and not try to hit the jackpot on the first pull with photos/videos/links, etc.(I’m a little ashamed to admit that I have been trying to change colors and add pictures for over an hour and I still haven’t quite figured it out I don’t think!) 

I did get one picture changed though! How sweet is the little black face on the top of this page. This is our new baby boy, Halas. Men may get the name. I didn’t at first and it still isn’t my FAVORITE but I didn’t have anything better to go with so Halas he became. For those of you, like me, who don’t know, George Halas was a legendary football player, coach, owner, and pioneer of Pro football. Mostly he was “Papa Bear” to the Chicago Bears football team, who my husbands Grandfather played for. (Now you’re seeing the sentimental value of this name, right?!) Apparently he was a force to be reckoned with, and we hope his little namesake here is too. Daddy’s gonna make him into the best Duck Dog in North Mississippi!

Other than his refusal to go potty outside, (which I GUESS I can let slide for a FEW more days as he is still pretty little) He is perfect and we love having him! Even his big sister, Gracie (our thirteen year old black lab who is old and DONE with puppies) has finally come around and plays with him. He’s a sweetie, isn’t he!

Going to do something productive now… Maybe…

🙂

 

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