Friday, November 29, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree

I give you, the Griswold Irons Family Christmas tree!

Now that the remaining turkey is in containers in the fridge till we forget about them and they become scary and the midnight madness shopping has left me wanting a nap and more coffee,
 it is time for the Christmas Tree!!!
(a Clark Griswold drum roll please)

The past 5 years I have been either in college and didn't have a tree over 3 feet and more that $7 to spend on it or lived in a tiny place and wasn't home very much so I didn't have a large tree.
Well this years marks our first married Christmas and my first "big" tree.
Pushing almost 8 feet and more fluffy that I realized (and mismeasured).
It truly took me almost 3 hours to get this beast fluffed then moved around the living room to find a space that the tree could fit and I didn't have to rearrange everything. 
Well turns out as much as I love our open floor plan living room, a tree over 3 feet is tricky business.
Once I FINALLY got the damn dear tree  in a good spot, let the decorating begin!

Of course the lights didn't work on it so I had to add 6 strands.
Took awhile but I was happy with the outcome.

Okay, the tree looks 4 feet here not 8 ?!
Anyways, next I added some massive 16 inch ribbon that I snagged at Hobby Lobby.

Then I add in a little burlap. 
Can't help myself, I'm obsessed!

My little helper and partner in crime- always happy to help!
Till he decided he couldn't take much more of my obsessiveness with fixing the ribbon and burlap.

And finally, after lots of ornament loading and a Winter Lager later I give you....
The Irons Family Christmas Tree!

The glow from the tree is beautiful and I will be doing some DIY ornament post very soon!
Happy Decorating!

Thanksgiving {2013}

Our first Thanksgiving as married folks has come and gone.
I always look forward to seeing everyone on Thanksgiving and shopping that evening!

My sweet Grandma Kay and Mom have been cooking up a storm.
We had turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole, corn casserole, Grandma's INCREDIBLE dressing, mashed potatoes, peas (just for me), fresh green beans, my Uncles roasted potatoes, gravy, hot rolls, and so much dessert that I just felt overwhelmed and didn't have any.
So I guess no "gobble till you wobble" here?!

We have a fairly large family so half of the family eat at the kitchen table and the others in the dinning room. My mom had decorated it so cute! 

I'm mad at myself that I didn't get a pic of Drew and I but of course I managed to get one of Copper!

He was well-behaved and patiently waited for after dinner Frisbee.
My parents have a beautiful German Shepard, Bayley.
Copper and Bayley decided to be best buds and go play in the freezing cold creek in the yard.
Copper got so muddy and wet Drew and I had to give him a bath before we could put him in the truck to go home. But he sure did have just as good a time as us!

Last Sunday we had our first of four Thanksgiving dinners at Drew's grandparents.
I brought cupcakes with homemade chocolate icing.
I decided to try an idea I had seen on Little Baby Garvin awhile ago.
It was a huge hit! We all loved the S'MORE festive toppings 
with the fresh cake and finger licking good icing! 

Hope you had a very delicious and thankful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Eve

I love Thanksgiving!
Of course I love the food aspect but it goes so much deeper than that.
I feel we should always have a thankful heart but sometimes taking
a time out (or a day out) to really reflect and be thankful can really bring some clarity and 
remind us all of how blessed we are!

The past two days have been some of the hardest I have had in my professional career as a teacher.
I felt pretty beaten down and defeated by a set of parents after some  damaging words were stated in an intense meeting. For the first time as a teacher I asked myself why I would ever allow myself to be talked to like that. I pour myself into teaching and feel it is my calling so to hear such hateful words were very upsetting. I will admit I came home really shaken up.

Today I had the day off (YAY!) and woke up to about an inch of snow on the ground.
It was a perfect morning to enjoy coffee with my favorite creamer and enjoy a warm blanket when I started checking my e-mail.

My inbox from school was full of encouraging messages from parents of students in my class. They had heard of some of the situation at school and messaged me thoughtful words that warmed my heart and put into perspective that everything will be okay.

I feel so grateful to be able to teach God's children every day.
I feel so grateful to teach at a school where my students and parents are so very supportive.
I feel so grateful that I work with coworkers who teach with compassion and care each day.
I feel grateful that my principal supports me.
I feel so grateful that God gave me the gift of teaching.

This has been a year of 'new' in every way. New school, new grade level, new common core, new marriage, new last name, new small group.
Nothing that I would change!

So thankful that Drew and I are healthy and enjoy our warm home. 
So thankful we are growing in our faith and that we have a close small group.
So thankful. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Delicious Sausage Balls

This time of year it seems like we have lots of family get togethers and parties.
I sometimes struggle on what to bring (other than wine, of course) and these are ALWAYS a hit!
My Dad and father-in-law can't get enough of them!
These are as easy as they are crowd pleasing.
This is what you'll need:

Any kind of sausage will do. I knew we were going to be around a toddler so I didn't use spicy sausage but either way they are great.

Mix all ingredients together. I like to use my mixer because it makes it all just so easy!
-the whole bag of cheese (2 cups)
-block of cream cheese softened, I use reduced fat
-1 lb of sausage
-1 1/4 cup of Bisquick

Mix on a lower setting till I stirred together.

Next roll into 1-2 inch size balls.
(I always make sure to take my wedding rings off cause I roll the balls in my hands and get sausage in my band. Yuck!)
Bake at 375 for about 17-20 minutes or till golden brown.

When I take them out of the oven I try to let them cool but Drew and I can't help ourselves. 
These smell so amazing and melt in your mouth.
That's why I don't have a "finished" picture.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Our Fur Child {Copper}

Last Thanksgiving we were eagerly awaiting the new addition to our family...

He is our Miniature Australian Sheppard and my absolute baby!

He was only a tiny 8 weeks old when he joined our home and our hearts haven't been the same!
I never, ever would have thought that I would love an animal so much.

Our joke is that Copper has no idea that he is a dog. 
As far as he is concerned he is as human as Drew and I.

 He loves to go places, anywhere!
He is super social and loves to be included.
At the lake he isn't a huge fan of getting in the water, but we're getting there. But he does like the social aspect of getting head rubs from person to person and rolling his ball around the boat. 
He also loves to go to the dock and have even more sniff play time with the other lake dogs.
 Recently I took him to Home Depot with me while I was getting a plant
and ended up getting several and pumpkins. Typical.
Well I couldn't push the cart, hold my purse, and have him on a leash so I thought what the heck I'll put him in the cart and see how he does. 
He loved it!
He laid in the bottom of it and enjoyed the ride.
Seriously, he has no clue he is a dog. 

As silly as it sounds I have plans to celebrate the little guy's 1 year next week.
Everyday I wake up with him wanting to snuggle and come home to lots of wiggles and excitement each day. Couldn't ask for a better best friend!

So this little fluff ball makes us one happy family!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mexican Casserole

I've been seeing lots of yummy "Mexican Casserole" dishes on Pintrest.
Drew and I love anything Pintrest Mexican so I thought I would give it a try.
A lot of what I saw had cream cheese or condensed soup but I thought I would give
it a shot without all that and see how it goes. 
And it was AMAZING!! A new favorite for sure!
 For the "mixture" I used one can of Mexican corn, taco seasoning packet, one can of diced tomatoes,
I can of black beans (yum!), and diced jalapenos, and cheese to sprinkle on top.

I used one pound of lean beef with a diced onion but really ground turkey would be a great too.
 As the beef was cooking I quartered up the corn tortillas and covered the bottom of my larger casserole dish. This will be the yummy bottom!
 Once the beef was all cooked I added in all the goodies for the mixture and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
 After simmering for as long as I could stand it, (it smelt amazing) I poured it over the corn tortillas. 
Once in the dish I sprinkled with cheese and put it in the over @ 350 for about 20 minutes.
This picture doesn't do it justice but let me tell you, it was an instant favorite and the 
leftovers were even better the next day for lunch. 

We will for sure be having this again soon!
Simple. Quick. Tasty. Just what I like!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Italian Chicken {Crock Pot} Dinner

Tonight as the cold air whistles on the outside, this warm dinner was waiting for us when we got home!
I love my Crock Pot, especially on cold nights! Coming home to something comforting is a wonderful touch to a cozy night. I should have taken pictures as I went but was in a but of a rush this morning. 
(this cold weather makes it tough to get up super early)
I threw it all together this morning and added some steamed broccoli so we can have a green veggie with dinner and it was super yummy!

Here are the steps to this easy dinner:
I used about a pound and half of chicken boneless,skinless chicken tenders.
Put them in the bottom of the Crock Pot.
Sprinkled a pack of Italian Seasoning Dressing (just the powder) on top of the chicken.
I literally threw in about 2-3 handfuls of  baby carrots.
Then quickly diced up about 8 red potatoes.
I then added about 3/4 a bottle of Italian Dressing.
*this was a bit much, a half bottle would be better-- next time I will measure

Cook on low for 8 hours and this will not disappoint!

In the moment {MUST} haves...

Today has had snow flurries and we are cuddling down with lots of cozy favorites! 

Here is a new body was I recently tried and I'm in love with the soft,warm scent!
I usually stick to hand soap and candles when I roam the yummy shelves of Bath and Body works but this is a new favorite and a total must have!
Cashmere Glow Shower Gel - Signature Collection - Bath & Body Works

I've heard a lot about the Elf brand of makeup. I'm a total cosmetics hoarder so I couldn't help myself when I saw this at Target for only $6! This powder is wonderful and leaves my skin feeling so smooth.

e.l.f. High Definition Powder - Translucent

This time of year I tend to wear boots day in and day out. I love that they keep my warm and I love them with a dress and leggings. Sometimes, my feet need a boot break.
This is where these cute little flats do the trick!

Women's Merona® Mae Ballet Flat - Grey
Tonight it is in the low twenties in Tennessee and since it has been so nice and sunny lately this cold snap is a shock to us. Therefore a cozy blanket is essential! 

Threshold™ Knit Tassle Throw

Saturday, November 9, 2013

{Marriage} The first six months...

I feel blessed to be married to my best friend and I feel like
it was yesterday we got married.

It was only six months ago, not long I know but I can't believe half a year has already gone by.
I have found true the popular wedding day quote,
"I love you the least today, because
I'll love you more tomorrow."

Upon the start of our marriage we decided to join a small group with our church.
Our small group is composed of mainly couples whom have been married less than five years.
We study different topics and books within the Bible when we meet each week.
I must be honest, when we were first on our way to a strangers house to eat and study the Bible together I was very nervous. And nervous is not something I'm familiar with!
I was worried I wouldn't know much compared to them and not bring much to the group at discussion.
I couldn't have been more wrong!
Small group has been wonderful and it is a special two hours that I look forward to each week.
The other couples and us hit off and we know share all our personal concerns, triumphs, and everyday life together. Like a mini marriage support group. I feel this has been monumental to our marriage and has built (and helping us continue building) a stronger faith and connection to one another.

Once we returned from our honeymoon it was time to start a new series of study in our small group and we decided to do a marriage study. This was something totally new to me and once again wasn't sure what to expect. Since all of us were in different places within our marriage it gave us all an opportunity to grow.

I feel marriage has been made a mockery of in our country and divorce has become widely accepted as a back-up plan in the event we can't quite make it work. Don't get me wrong, I know some situations are absolutely different and some even life threatening without a divorce. That's not what I'm talking about.
Over 50% of marriages fail and that terrifies me. Drew and I have dedicated ourselves to our marriage and part of that has been with the growing in our faith with our small group.

 In our study we had great emphasis that love is a choice, agape love.
Agape love meaning we make the commitment, the choice to love and accept our spouse. Truly for better and for worse knowing that both times will be had. 
Love is not an emotion. It isn't a mood or a feeling, it is a choice.
We studied the importance of intimacy on many levels in the marriage.
As a spouse we know longer chose to please ourselves and make decisions to better "me" we make choices to better the other that will ultimately lead to a stronger bond with each other and strong faith within ourselves. 

One part of our study was "divorce proof your marriage" and here are the support verses:
~ I Corinthians 15:33
~Proverbs 18: 20-22
~John 4:11
~Ephesians 4:26
~Matthew 19:1-10

I know even without kids our daily routines can get pretty crazy and just that, "routine."
Making a point to hug or say something nice can make all the difference.
Drew and I make a point to sit down, t.v. off, and have dinner together every night with the occasional date night. We learned that 2% of couples that pray together get divorced.

Being a submissive wife I feel will be an ongoing process. I feel this is a term that gets a bad rap and is considered old fashion in our modern sin filled culture. 
The husband is the spiritual leader of the house and the wife is essentially the #1 cheerleader of his decisions. That is why it is important to grow in faith together.
God calls on husbands to love and cherish the wife and lead the family while the wife is to be the support and love while having a faith filled heart.

I know six months isn't long.
But it is a start and I feel the choice to have a growing faith together will lead to a stronger marriage.
I look forward to what the next six months, six years, and sixty years look like for us. 
I know two things that will be forever changing and that is the amount of love we have for one another as we grow and the amount of faith we have.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

In the moment {must} haves!

I enjoy my other bloggers "love" list and decided to create one myself.
Here a few things that I simply can't get enough of:

Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin 6 oz. Mason Jar Candle - Slatkin & Co. - Bath & Body Works
On my word, this candle smells amazing and makes the house seem so cozy and yummy. 
The perfect November candle!

My skin tends to be dry majority of the time, but this time of year it is super dry.
This awesome lotion I spray on as soon as I towel off out of the shower and it is not oily and I love the lite scent. Leaves my skin so smooth, helps me to enjoy the fleece leggings more!

EOS Organic Lip Balm Sphere - Summer Fruit
I didn't try the EOS lip balm till this past month and I must say I understand what all the fuss is about.
This stuff if amazing and leaves your lips so silky and is perfect for protecting your lips against the cool wind.
Most certainly a must have for my purse...and coat...and desk....and car...and nightstand...

Crock-Pot® Stainless Steel Slow Cooker - 5 qt.
Two things I love here: 
1. I love my Crock Pot for obvious reasons. 
2. I love getting/sharing recipes, especially on blogs.
This time of year a warm soup or hot dinner can really hit the spot on a cool evening. 
Usually the clean up is simple and the meal delicious. 
(Both important)