Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas to all of my friends and family! As I am typing this, there is a thick layer of SNOW outside of my yard! Yes...I said snow. It snowed on Christmas day in Texas...what are the odds?? Then again, it is Texas, and nothing about the weather surprises me anymore! We have had a wonderful Christmas; however, the snow did alter our plans a bit. Michel and I invited his parents and grandparents to our house to host our first Christmas! Everyone came into town around 4:00 on Christmas Eve, and planned on going back to their houses this evening. When the snow started coming down so hard around 1:00 this afternoon, and was starting to accumulate on the grass and streets everyone ended up leaving just a little after 2:00, giving Michel and me a lot of time with nothing to do. So, I've made the most of it by watching some of my favorite Christmas classics that I hadn't gotten a chance to watch yet: The Santa Clause and It's a Wonderful Life (I still cry every time I see it: "George Bailey - the richest man in town!"...so sweet)! Anyways, for me Christmas started around 2:45 on Friday, Dec. 21st when we were allowed to leave school. The "celebration" didn't begin, but I was celebrating to have 2 weeks off of school :)

I really wanted to do some fun Christmas things with my niece and nephew, and Michel never minds when they come over. So we met my sister and brother-in-law at a Chick-Fil-A to make the drop-off. We joked that it looked like some kind of drug exchange because Janette called me and told me to meet them in the back of the parking lot so that we could transfer over all of their stuff. They only stayed with us 2 days and 1 night, but kids need a LOT of stuff! Anyways, Saturday afternoon while Zane was sleeping Karys and I baked cookies. At one point she told me that Uncle Michel needs to come help, and I told her to go find him and tell him that, and she did. Uncle Michel will do anything that his favorite (and only) niece asks of him :)

This is Karys showing off a cookie that she cut, frosted all by herself, and added sprinkles to. Love her big smile!!

Sadly, I didn't take many pictures over the course of the weekend, and didn't end up with any of Zane. Don't worry...we haven't celebrated Christmas with them, so there will be lots of picture-taking then! And his birthday is later this week, so I'll make up for my lack of picture-taking. 

Saturday night we took them to a really nice neighborhood in Plano to look at Christmas lights. It was pretty spectacular (it probably helps that the first place winner of their lighting contest wins $5000, so there's a lot of incentive to get creative!). I loved hearing Zane say "Ooooh...Chri light" (translation: Christmas lights)! 

The next day Michel had to work, so I just loaded the kids up and took them over to see Nana and Granddaddy. We went to a church service that night (I didn't think I could get them up and ready to get to a morning service on time), and then headed back to give them back to their parents. Michel and I still had to get our house cleaned up, and I hadn't wrapped a single present!

Fast forward to Christmas Day! I am still like a child and had a really hard time sleeping. I woke up around 5:30 and tossed and turned until about 7:00. Part of the problem could have been the incredibly loud claps of thunder that I heard. Anyways, Michel was our designated chef of the day, so he prepared some cinnamon rolls for us for breakfast while we waited for his parents to arrive (they stayed at a nearby hotel...his mom is too allergic to our cat to stay here overnight). 

Once everyone had eaten breakfast, it was time to open presents!! I tried taking as many pictures as I could. We had a lot of fun!!

Ninja was such a good little kitty. After an appropriate amount of sniffing everyone to see who all these new people were, he had no problem getting on the couch next to anyone who may be sitting there, and also had no problem showing off his hunting/pouncing skills. Grandpa Z enjoyed petting Ninja, and continued doing it even when Ninja was attacking his hand!

My wonderful in-laws
My grandparents-in-law 
Me and my handsome hubby!!
This is the first present that I opened from my in-laws, and it literally made me laugh out loud! My mother-in-law is a retired teacher, so she totally understands the cherished, yet rare, snow days!!

Ninja was not allowed to have the wrapping paper or tissue paper scraps being tossed around as we opened our gifts because he has gotten into it before, and ends up throwing up, or having really nasty poop (sorry if TMI). So we were trying to put everything into trash bags so that he wouldn't get into the paper, but that darn trash bag didn't stop him...

Here's all of the awesome gifts that I was given! Some of it includes a plaque with a Bible verse that I have in my kitchen, a Kohl's gift card, a Target gift card, Starbucks and Whataburger gift cards (we love gift cards), fleecy pajama pants (Michel knows me well!) and LOTS of food! I'm going to gain 10 pounds by the time school starts back! Michel and I didn't really exchange gifts this year..we just filled each other's stockings. We decided that we wanted to put the money that we would have used towards purchasing each other gifts to go on another cruise! I'm pretty excited! We don't have dates or location in mind yet, but we're hoping to go on one in February/Marchish.

Our entertainer of the day was definitely Ninja, though. Michel's grandparents were sweet enough to buy Ninja a cat toy! He LOVED it! He seriously played with it for about 3 hours non-stop. At first, we were kind of surprised that he was still going at it so late in the day, but then we read the tag and saw that it had catnip in it. He's really funny when he gets around catnip...it gets him really excited/hyper!!

Watch as the ferocious panther attacks his unsuspecting prey

And just in case I haven't put Ninja in this post enough here's another video of him playing with his toy! He's not jumping as much, but he's still pretty excited about it!

 The most unexpected surprise was all of the snow that we got!! Nobody was expecting the accumulation that we got, or for it to stick, but we ended up with a white Christmas!!

I love taking pictures of me with my handsome hubby...especially with some snow in the pic!!
This picture was taken around 3:00, and we had snowfall until 5:30 or 6:00, so we ended up with even more snow on the ground and roads. I can't even see my grass anymore...I love it! I'll have to take another picture tomorrow...I was too cold, and already in my pj's to care about taking more this evening :)

Merry Christmas!! Remember that He is the reason for the season!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Our Pathetic Christmas Tree

So, as I said in last week's post I love how all of our decorations look in our home with the exception of our tree. It's pretty pathetic this year.

In these pictures, there is about a foot and a half of tree (starting from the bottom) that have no decorations on them because Ninja got the impression that this tree was put up for his amusement, and he views every ornament as a challenge that he must take down!

Then, the stinker figured out that swatting the ornaments from the outside of the tree isn't nearly as fun as climbing up the tree from the inside of it, and seeing how many ornaments he could take down.

Sadly, I think our tree looks even worse now because he plays with it so often that the branches aren't fluffy anymore, we're putting ornaments up higher and higher, and I've just dealt with it. When he's a little older and not so playful we can have a beautiful tree. Besides, I'm sure he's really just helping me prepare for what it will be like when we have little ones running around the house!

These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago, and I took a picture of all the ornaments that had lost their hooks because of a certain little cat.

Notice that this one has a piece of it bitten off?? Hmmm.....who would have done that? :)

One of Michel's ornaments that he's had since he was a child (luckily it didn't have special sentimental value) was taken off the tree and turned into a new favorite cat toy. The ornament is a little cat, and in Ninja's defense, it really does look like a good cat toy. Ninja entertained himself with the Christmas ornament for at least half an hour earlier this morning...it was pretty hysterical to watch :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Decorating!

I love decorating for Christmas! When we lived in our apartment, Michel and I really only put up our Christmas tree and stockings because that was all we had room for. Last year, we had only been in our house for a month when Christmas rolled around and I put up a few more decorations because had the room for it, but I still didn't go crazy decorating. To be honest, it may take years to fully decorate the way I want to because I like lots of decorations in every room of the house (not sure if Michel likes that, but he knew that I was the crazy Christmas lady when he married me!), but I did decorate quite a bit more this year, and I really love the way everything has turned out....take that back, I love the way MOST things have turned out. I'm not too happy with the tree, but that's because of a certain four-legged creature in our house. More on him later.

This year, I even busted out some creativity to make my own Christmas crafts, and I really love the way everything turned out!

Last weekend, I dug into my creativity and began a craft that I had found on Pinterest to decoratively hang Christmas cards. I started the craft on Monday, and kind of figured that I wouldn't finish it until the Christmas break at school started, but I have surprised myself and finished it within a week of starting it! I'm kind of a procrastinator sometimes...

Anyways, the craft was really easy. I bought some small clothespins, Christmas scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, decorative buttons, ribbon, paint, and paintbrushes. Altogether it probably cost me about $10, so not bad at all.

A close-up of one of the clothespins

Several of the clothespins...just waiting for more Christmas cards to come!!
My other craft that I tackled didn't really require much talent...only paint and glitter. I bought these wooden letters that spelled out Merry Christmas at First Monday in Canton. I think they go on the entry table really well!

Please excuse all the glitter on the table...it will get cleaned!

Awhile back, I bought some wall shelves at IKEA that Michel was kind enough to put up for me about a month ago. Normally, it's our wall that's decorated with firefighting stuff, but I took it all down to swap out Christmas decorations.

I love this nativity scene and the Christmas plaque with words written in the shape of a Christmas tree!

Our stockings in a very creative location since we have no fireplace
Our side table
Like I said, I really love how everything turned out except for our Christmas tree, but it's so bad that it deserves a post of its own...hopefully I'll have it up tomorrow, so stay tuned! :) Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm still here...

I promise that I haven't forgotten about my blog. I have so much to blog about now! At first I didn't, but now we have new furniture, we went to an awesome Christmas party that I need to post pictures from, and we've decorated for Christmas (with some Pinterest-inspired crafts designed by moi!). Unfortunately, my crafting isn't done so our house is a bit of a mess. I'm hoping to have new posts, and pics up in the coming week...hopefully at least one will be done this weekend!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Adventures in Kitten Ownership

OK, so I promise that I'm not going to do a ton of updates and pictures of our cat because I don't want to be "that lady" and I really don't want to become "the crazy cat lady"! But it has been many, many years since I've owned a true kitten and there are a lot of things that I have forgotten that Ninja has helped remind me! 

1. Life is one big toy - shoelaces, drawstrings on clothes, bras hanging out to dry, toilet paper tube, and wadded up pieces of paper - are all fun kitten toys!
2. Tuna fish to cats is like chocolate to me - he gets very excited when I opened a can earlier!
3. Why jump on a couch when you can shimmy up the back of it?
4. Spraying water corrects unwanted behavior VERY quickly!
5. Hands and feet move; therefore, are easily mistaken for cat toys
6. Cat toys are way more fun when they're challenging - we find them behind our sofa and under our entertainment center daily!
7. Kittens like to perfect their acrobatics - he flips, rolls, flies through the air, you name it and he does it!

Here are a few things that I've learned about his personality in the three days that we've owned him.

1. I was told that he was picked up by the shelter as a stray, but somewhere along the way someone taught him that he needs to be in the kitchen, and eat human food! I've never had a cat who cared when I was cooking in the kitchen unless it involved tuna fish. With Ninja, he's in the kitchen meowing at our feet the whole time we're cooking. Also, if I'm eating breakfast on the couch his little face is all in my food. It only took a day of saying a firm "no!" and spraying him with water for him to realize that he should just sit back on the couch and look rather than try to eat the food.
2. He's smart! He's already started coming when we call his name, and like I said before, he doesn't try to put his nose in my food anymore.
3. He's really good with his claws and teeth. We've caught him scratching on non-scratching post things a couple times, but for the most part he seems to use his scratching post as he should. He paws and nips at us occasionally, but very gently. We're still discouraging it even though it doesn't hurt.
4. He's a true kitten. The first two days that we had him he followed us around and was very mellow. Yesterday, he must have started feeling comfortable here because he was so hyper! Today, it's more like a normal hyper kitten. He'll chase toys and then lay under Michel's feet or beside me on the couch. Then he's tearing through the house again! He's pretty funny to watch :)
5. And, like all cats, the best seat in the house is the one that Michel and I like best. As soon as we get off the couch he's stretched out across it. See what I came back to after I got up to put laundry away?

He's such a fun, sweet little kitten!

More house updates

A few weeks ago I went to IKEA with my mother-in-law. She was way more fun to shop with than what Michel would have been :) I found some awesome shelves for $14 a piece (this is why I love IKEA!) that I knew would look great in our home. So today Michel and I finally got around to hanging them. I really like the way everything turned out!

October 17, 2012

Our third anniversary was so much fun! It fell on a Wednesday, so I took the day off so that Michel and I could spend the whole day together celebrating and having fun. The morning was spent with each doing our own thing. Michel had to do some studying for an upcoming promotional exam at work, so I did what I do best - nothing! I took advantage of my low-key morning and made myself some scrambled eggs and toast - my current favorite breakfast that I generally don't have time to make when I go to work.

I told Michel that I wanted to go out for lunch since we rarely do that, so we went to Chili's for some delicious burgers, fries, and skillet queso. Then it was off to PetSmart to stock up on cat supplies. We looked at the cats at PetSmart and saw a cute young cat. When we took him out of his cage though he was very bite-y. I realize that kittens and young cats bite and nip because this is how they play with their littermates, but I was afraid he was a little too wild for us. So then it was off to the Murphy shelter and then Wylie. We found the kitten that we wanted at the Murphy shelter, but we couldn't get him until Friday because of our work schedules.

Dinner was a surprise for me. Michel had picked a place, but wanted to surprise me as to where we were going. He chose an awesome restaurant! It's called Sissy's Southern Kitchen and is in downtown Dallas! It was already pretty crowded, but luckily we had reservations. We were seated immediately. Look at how pretty the china is!
 Sissy's menu consisted of delicious fried goodness including two of my favorites - fried chicken and chicken fried steak. I've been on a fried chicken kick lately, so I ordered the fried chicken and Michel ordered the chicken fried steak. Both were delicious! I got mine with a side of mashed potatoes, and Michel and I ordered the biscuits and cornbread to share. The biscuits were TO DIE FOR!! They came with some honey butter which made it even better! Then we finished it off with dessert - better than sex chocolate cake (that's seriously the name of it)! It was incredibly rich, delicious, and Michel and I felt the need to roll out of the restaurant at the end of the meal. It was so good!!!

I love my wonderful hubby!! Can't wait to spend many more years with him!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Our newest addition!

Ever since we got married, Michel has known that I really wanted to be a pet owner - specifically, a cat owner. I was totally on board with waiting until we were out of our apartment because pet dues were way too expensive! So, now that we've been in our house for almost a full year (that's so hard to believe!) we decided that we were ready to get our first pet. On Wednesday, our third anniversary, we went out looking for a cat at the animal shelters nearby and we found a sweet, little, black male kitten who had just arrived recently. He didn't even have a name yet. We got him out of his cage and played with him a little bit and the shelter worker said that he was a really sweet boy. He played with his toy, he rubbed up against us in order to get some attention, and just seemed so perfect for us!

This afternoon, we went and brought him home! He was very curious when he first got home and walked around sniffing and exploring for about an hour or so, and ever since then he's been following us around. He really seems fond of sitting next to me on the sofa and sleeping - exactly what I was hoping for in a cat! I like cats who want to be around people without necessarily being in my lap 24/7.

So, without further ado, meet Ninja! He's about 3 months old, was brought to the shelter as a stray, and seems to have the perfect mix of playfulness, cuddliness, and affection. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17, 2009

I said "I do" to the most wonderful man I could have ever wished for! These last three years have been full of fun adventures including two major vacations: one cruise and one trip to Hawaii; buying a house; slowly updating/remodeling a house; and so much more! We've laughed, we've cried, and I wouldn't change one thing about our lives together! Here's to so many more years and many more adventures! I love you, Michel!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fall has officially entered my house!!

I've been working little-by-little to furnish our house and fill it with awesome decorations. It's finally starting to come together! I went shopping with my mother-in-law a few weeks ago and found this awesome sofa table at IKEA to put in the entryway of our house!

Now that the perfect table is set up it needs decorations to go on top! My mom and I met up for lunch and shopping in Rockwall which is a great halfway meeting place for us. We went to Target, Kirkland's (my new all-time favorite place!) and Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Unfortunately, I didn't find much while out with my mom. So on my way back home I saw Hobby Lobby and decided to stop in and see if they had any good fall decor.

I walked into Hobby Lobby and was overwhelmed by the amazing decor they had out! They had fall decor, Halloween decor, and my favorite....Christmas decor!! You should have seen by buggy when I went to check out...it was so full! But the best part about everything Hobby Lobby had was that all of their fall AND Christmas decor was at least 40% off!!! I was able to get everything I needed to decorate my table top, the little shelves in the table, and the wall behind the table. I'm so happy with how it all turned out and it really makes my house feel a little homier.

Here's a picture of the entire thing:

An up-close look at the cute decorations inside the shelves, and a better look at the candles that are in the center of the table

My Pinterest inspiration....a vase full of fall flowers and pine cones!

Our "Welcome" sign and another view of the candles (don't worry...the price tag will come off of the Welcome sign)

A cute little bouquet that I bought at Kirkland's, along with a pumpkin picture frame (that will have a picture in it eventually!)

And one more look at the entire table

I love how everything turned out!! I love fall, and all of the fall colors, but seeing how well this space came together I'm so ready to clear it out and decorate for Christmas :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Supreme Savings!

I haven't posted on my grocery store savings in a few weeks because I haven't had the most wonderful of savings - I've probably saved around $10 a week with just ad matching. I've really become a huge fan of ad-matching. I can do a one-stop shopping trip at Wal-Mart and get the same savings as I could if I went to 3 or 4 grocery stores to get the weekly deals.

Today was my best trip in quite awhile! Seriously half of my groceries were ad-matched and I got a huge savings! I always do my ad-matching on produce and meat, but our freezer is well-stocked on meat, so I've only been focusing on produce. I generally can get lettuce, apples and red and green bell peppers on sale, but today most of my produce was on sale. Here's a quick summary of what my grocery bill looked like.

3-12 packs of Diet Dr. Pepper - $3.48/ea = $10.44 ad-match = 3/$10 Savings = $0.48
4 boxes Weight Watchers ice cream - $3.79/ea = $15.16 ad-match = $2.67/ea = $10.48 with a $2/$10 coupon = $8.48 for all 4 boxes of ice cream; Savings = $6.48
Milk = $2.79 Ad-match: $2.40; Savings = $0.30
4 Yoplait light yogurt = $0.57 ea. Ad-match = $0.50 ea.; Savings = $0.28
Bananas - $0.52/lb Ad-match = $0.39/lb; Savings = $0.13/lb
Gala apples - $1.57/lb (does anyone else find this price absurd!!!) ad-match = $0.99/lb; Savings = $0.58/lb
Red bell pepper = $1.67 ea.
Green bell pepper = $0.67 ea.
Ad-match = red and green bell pepper 2/$1; Savings = $1.34
Onions = $0.89/lb ad-match 2 lbs/$1; Savings = $0.78
Lettuce = $1.12 ad-match $0.99; Savings = $0.13
Grapes = $2.50 ad-match = $0.89; Savings = $1.61
6 cans Libby's canned vegetables = $0.75/ea. = $4.50 ad-match B1G1 for $0.01; Savings = $2.22

I only used 2 coupons this week and just coupons saved me $4.50. My total savings this week was about $20-$30! I'm sure I'm forgetting some of the things that I ad-matched. So, I bought about $85 worth of groceries and only spent $60! I'm still trying to get that number down some. Does anybody know how those "extreme couponers" buy $100 worth of groceries for $10??? Seriously...I want to know. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"We Climb Because They Climbed"

Yesterday, I had the privilege of heading over to downtown Dallas with Michel to watch him climb 110 stories in honor of the fallen firefighters of September 11th.

It really was a very humbling experience. While Michel was off getting checked in, getting ready, etc. I made it my mission to find a Starbucks. After all, I had bought a Groupon for Starbucks, had gotten up at 5:15 on a Saturday morning, and hadn't eaten breakfast, so I was very excited about my Starbucks breakfast. Unfortunately, after walking around downtown Dallas for half an hour, following the map on my Smartphone, and not finding a single Starbucks I gave up. Plus, it was almost 8:00 and all the festivities started at 8:00.

The first thing on the program was a group picture:

Michel's over to the far right. Unfortunately, I don't think he ended up in my picture. Oops! I didn't spot him until after I finished snapping pictures :)

The firemen then went off to a courtyard to prepare for their climb. Everything that they did signified something about 9/11/01. Only 343 firefighters are allowed to participate in the climb. 343 is the number of firemen who went into the Towers, and never came back out.

The firefighters had to climb 110 stories - the same number of stories that was in the World Trade Towers. This is the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Dallas. It's only 55 stories, so the men climbed to the top, took the elevator back down, and then climbed again.

 The climb began at 8:46 AM - the exact time that the first plane ran into the first tower. The men were led into the building by a group of men playing the bagpipes. The first video is the start of the men filing into the building to the Marine Corps song. I forgot to mention that each fireman wore a picture around his neck of a firefighter that lost his life in the tower. As they walked into the building, they touched a piece of steel that was from the actual tower.

The second video is Michel walking in. I apologize for the poor video quality, and I'm not sure if you can see Michel in it or not. I had prime front row seats, and then the bagpipers stood right in front of me. Hope you can spot him!

 Once the men entered the building we couldn't see anything anymore, so I walked around with some other Allen firefighters' wives. We checked out the t-shirts that were being sold, and I finally got me some coffee! And an egg and sausage breakfast burrito (which, by the way, was the absolute BEST breakfast burrito that I've ever eaten!). We walked around a bit and snapped some pictures.

About an hour and a half after they started, the Allen firefighters all finished together. Well...they finished at different times, but they waited at the top for all the men (and women!) to finish, and walked out together.

I think he looks a little tired...wonder why :)
All the men and women who competed from Allen in the Dallas 9/11 stair climb. I'm proud of them!!

September 11, 2001....never forget the men and women who lost their lives!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dallas White Rock Half Marathon 2012

In December of 2010 Michel and I completed our first-ever half marathon.

It was a ton of work, but a lot of fun, and I felt so good being able to say that I've run a half marathon! Lately, I've REALLY been considering doing it again this year, and I'm about 90% sure that I'll sign up. Official race training begins on Sept. 17th, so I'll be getting ready to lace up my running shoes.

Anybody out there want to run 13.1 miles with me on December 9, 2012??

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Supreme Savings!

Yeah, I know the title is a bit cheesy. But it's catchy and it has a nice ring to it. Anyways, I've started couponing again, and subscribing to the Dallas Morning News so as to get the store circulars, and Sunday coupons. Last week was kind of a bust for me. I ended up spending almost $100 on one week's worth of groceries. I will say that $25 was for steaks and rump roast which can be expensive, but still...the rest of our groceries shouldn't have cost nearly that amount. This week my price point is about $30 - $16 of which I've already spent. But I'm not worried about it. I bought quite a few staples last week that I think my main shopping this week will be the things you have to buy weekly - milk, bread, eggs, and produce.

I am really excited to live in Wylie where there's a Brookshire's! I used to shop at Brookshire's all the time when I lived in Forney and loved it. The Forney one is way fancier than the Wylie one, but who cares? I'm still saving money! I tend to like Brookshire's better than Kroger for whatever reason. Anyways, when reading the Brookshire's weekly circular and looking at the coupon matchups for it I realized that there were some REALLY good sales that I needed to jump on before that particular item got sold out. I think I did a great job...I was pretty excited about my purchases!

2 rump roasts, 2 taco seasoning packets, 2 boxes Cheerio's, 4 bananas (not pictured)
Without a savings card or coupons this should have cost me $32. However, I only paid $16 out of pocket. That's a 50% savings! Coupons didn't help me nearly as much as just reading the circulars this week, but that's OK. Here's how I scored:

Rump roast = B1G1 Free!
Taco seasoning = $0.69/packet
used 2- $0.50/1 Old El Paso product coupon
doubled to = $1/1 making my seasoning both FREE!
Cheerios = 2/$5.00
used 2- $0.50/1 box Cheerios
doubled to = $1/1 making my Cheerios each cost $1.50!
Total before coupons = $20.00+ some change

Brookshire's still doubles and triples coupons (triples coupons $0.39 and less and doubles coupons $0.40-0.50. So my $0.50/1 coupons became $1.00/1 which made my taco seasonings both free and my Cheerio's $1.50 each! With coupons I saved $4 which brought my out of pocket cost to $16.46. Considering I have 2 fairly big roasts in there (which together should have cost $25 I'm pretty happy)! Happy Shopping!