Christmas 2012...

I heart this time of year.

One of the days I look most forward to is our annual christmas party.  This tradition started back in 2005 when my friend, Whitney and I decided to decorate my parent's basement {typical hangout quarters for our friends} and man... we went ALL out!  We had lights touching every wall and along the railing coming down the stairs.  It was loud and beautifully perfect!  Being in college, we decided it would be fun to do a white elephant exchange instead of spending $$ on a real gift.  Oh my goodness... every year the gifts get better or return for a round 2 visit.

We have had anywhere up to 40 people attending our party in a given year.  It is so wonderful to have some of our close friends and family under the same roof for a few hours.  There is so much laughter and catching up on life since the last gathering.  This year was no exception... we had a blast!

Everyone brings a snack or dessert to share and we ALWAYS have an abundance of goodies... and our friends can COOK!

So we always have a great time during the gift exchange/stealing.  Always very entertaining!
We usually play a game after the gift extravaganza is over.  This year we played a couple of great games! First we played telephone pictionary - if there are 10 players than each player has a stack of 10 pieces of paper and they number them 1-10 in the corner.  We decided to do a christmas theme, so everyone wrote on the top piece of paper a phrase or word that had to do with christmas.  It could be a person, a place, phrase from a song/movie or whatever they wanted to create that deals with christmas.  Once everyone is done writing their phrase, everyone passes their stack of paper to the person on their left.  Everyone looks at the phrase and then puts that piece of paper at the bottom of the stack.  You them must draw a picture on page 2 to describe the phrase on the previous piece of paper.  Once everyone is done then pass the stack of paper to the left.  You will see a a drawing and will need to put that drawing on the bottom of the stack and write what you think the phrase is suppose to be on page 3.  You continue to pass the stacks of paper around the circle alternating picture/phrase/picture/phrase etc.  The round ends when there are no more pieces of paper in the stack, you should end with your original stack.  We always go around 1 by 1 and go through each page of the stack to see where the phrases were taken by the end of the ground.  By far one of our favorite games... it is hilarious every single time!

We also play a game I've heard called several names... basically it is charades however there are 3 rounds and different rules for each round.  Everyone writes 2-3 christmas oriented items/people/phrases on pieces of paper and folds them and puts them into a bowl.  There are 2 teams, and the first round whoever is up can use words, sounds and gestures to describe the word or phrase.  Once the bowl is emptied then all of the pieces of paper go back into the bowl and round 2 begins.  During round 2 you can only use gestures to describe the phrases to the team.  During round 3 only 1 word can be used to describe the item.  It is always entertaining as well!

We had our Launch annual christmas party on the 13th and MUCH fun was had.  Wish I would have taken pictures!

Scott and I went to my company's christmas party on the 14th and had a great time with our cousins!  We are super close with Brian and Jess {love you guys!} and Brian and I work for the same company but we hardly ever see one another since our organization has nearly 10K professionals.  

We always celebrate with Jamie and Greg as well!  They are the couple that we seriously rest so well with :)  Our friendship is so natural it is so beautiful.  We get together every 5 weeks or so and we have a blast just relaxing and enjoying each other.  

We made sugar cookies... and may or may not have made the icing a little runny but didn't care.  I may or may not have sprinkled the heck out of the cookies as well :)  Hey... they were still amazing!

We went to our church's annual christmas eve service which is by far one of my favorite traditions ever!

Afterwards we headed to Scott's aunts house to celebrate with his dad's side of the family over some yummy food and great conversations.  Then we headed to have the immediate family christmas with Scott's family which is always a good time.  :) 

Christmas morning we woke up and went over to my parent's house as usual for my mom's amazing homemade cinnamon rolls.  This year was probably the best they've been since I can remember.  Yuuuum!  We get them once a year... so we savor every ounce.  We opened gifts then headed down to my mom's side of the family for the afternoon in southern Missouri.

On Thursday after Christmas I got to see my cousin, Hannah.  She and I are the sisters we never had.... more on her later - don't have enough time or space on this post to tell you about this amazing lady.

Scott and I road up to Kirksville, MO with Kyle {Scott's brother} to spend time with his mom's side of the family the Saturday after Christmas.  It was so good to see his family!  Scott's cousin, Ethan, brought his wonderful girlfriend, Rebecca and she started the bow on the head... and we went with it.  

Next weekend we will finish our string of christmas celebrations by heading to grandmother and graddad's house to have christmas with my dad's side of the family.  There won't be many that are able to make it, but it will be a sweet time.  I'm looking forward to it!

I love this time of year... getting to catch up with those you don't get to see on a regular basis yet love so much.  

What has been the highlight of this season in your world?

Hope you all have a safe and happy new years eve!!  I'm sure enjoying the snow today!


sassy notes...

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  I'm working on a holiday update maybe with a little 'Christmas News Letter from the T family' :)

But until then... enjoy some sassy notes:

So previously I've always called these posts the 'Post It Worthy Moments'...  but I've decided to simplify it a little and call them Sassy Moments... let's be honest... that's what they are!

here are a few as of late...


Help in the kitchen!

The stove has had burn marks on it since we bought the house.  When I tried this method from pinterest the first time... it worked like a CHARM!

As you've noticed, I've been cooking more lately... sadly that equals more necessary cleaning... yuck.  It was time to clean the stove again and thought I'd share this wonderful discovery with you.

What you need:

Baking Soda
Wet hand towel(s) {use warm water}

1. I always wipe off the stove to ensure it is as clean as I can get it before I start this process.  Once you've done that go ahead and sprinkle baking soda over the burnt areas on the stove.  The darker the burn... the heaver I sprinkle the baking soda.

2. Use warm water to get hand towel(s) completely wet and ring almost all of the water out of it.

3. Lay the wet towel(s) over the areas sprinkled with baking soda and set your timer for 15 minutes.

4. After the 15 minutes is up, put on your gloves and get read to scrub.  I find it is best to work in small circles using the baking soda to scrub off the burn marks.  It seriously works like a charm!

5. Once I wipe up all of the baking soda, I always use my simple green multi surface cleaning spray to get anything I left behind.

I will tell you that one of the burn marks on the stove was from a towel... which is more than just water it means there is plastic/fabric that was burned on the stove.  The baking soda got most of that burn spot off, however I did go in with a razor at the end to get the final bit of towel burn off.

I will do this EVERY time I need to clean the stove... love love love this!

Let me know if you try it and how it works for you!


Jen and Walmart...

Went to Walmart with Jen... She feels a strong sense of entitlement to walmart because her family is from Arkansas- and I love her for it.  So of course we were looking for princess parking {parking lot stalkers}... We admit it, Internet.

{not taken during walmart adventure}

When we noticed a spot on the next aisle over we were on a mission to get it-- then we were almost to the end of our current aisle and we saw another car get it... Grrrrrr, right?!

So what did we do? Go to the next aisle anyway and drive around? Uh- not how we operate... We put that white focus in reverse and back up to wait for another spot... But had to stop and move forward because another car further behind us pulled out and was behind us wanting out of the aisle.... Lol.

So we went to the next aisle... For an open spot I saw during the reverse debacle .... Then we saw someone else putting things in their car- 2 spaces closer than the ealier spotted space... After a good 10 seconds we noticed she had a bunch of suff to unload?!?!

By this time we were laughing so hard we were crying and our smile muscles hurt so bad.

Needless to say.,. We were late to Launch by only 3 minutes bc of our semi-princess spot!!

So to top off the night... Jen was in one of her Julie Andrews kicks... And we sang and cracked up the entire way to launch!  I know you're wondering internet - yes... being in her 'Julie Andrews' kick also includes british accents.

"Raindrops on roses... Pickles and mittens"

{also not taken during walmart adventure}

Potentially one of those 'had-to-be-there' moments... but this was a memory I needed to document.

I love this girl.

Insta Update

Internet, I didn't get my 'real ray wednesday' post up yesterday... but I have a great excuse.  I was with the GSM students... walking the plaza passing out candy canes as we do every year.  We then continued our tradition of going to Winsteads on the plaza for dinner and shakes afterwards.  It is so beautiful.  This tradition started back when I was in youth... and love that it is still one of the events students look forward to the most!  We had a huge group this year.  Needless to say,  I had a great night!

Here is a much needed insta-update:

life rearranged

I'm pretty much obsessed completely consistent in my dinner of choice...

Stepped out of my comfort zone today... navy, gray, and mustard yellow.  I mean I love these colors... but hadn't worn this outfit together at work.  

This was on 'national hot chocolate day' ... right after we came inside from watching a 'meteor shower'... more like a sprinkle.  I think I saw 3-4 in the 10 minutes we were out in the frigid air.  Yet... it was probably one of my favorite moments of the evening... being cold brings out the crazy in myself my friends...

One night last week we had a family cuddle night.  It was so wonderful.  We did nothing and I enjoyed every single second of it.

Date night at Em Chamas {brazilian steakhouse} it was sooooo yummy!  Not sure if you realize how much I love groupons.  The only way we'd EVER get to try some of these places.

Every single time we empty a package of toilet paper or paper towels... it is Molly's favorite day.  Thank you Charmin and Bounty!

These pictures make me laugh... notice who is actually doing the work.. and who is doing the observing :)

New wall decor - and just had to make it holiday appropriate while I was at it!  Thanks to Jen for helping me in every fashion sense of my life.

I've been done with my MBA since August.. but this last weekend I FINALLY got to have some closure.  Graduation, baby!  

My mom and dad gave me roses, a diploma frame from Baker, and some diamond earrings!  They are so beautiful!  I got a few adorable cards from Scott's family and can't wait to spend their gifts.  We all went to OK Joes after the ceremony to celebrate my bday AND graduation :)  

Since Scott was a little guy, his family has made christmas trees.  We have continued the tradition even as adults... and they seriously get better every year!  The powdered sugar at the end really sets this forest apart.  #christmastraditions

I seriously love this time of year.  Not JUST because of all of the mail I get :)  But I love getting to catch up with friends and family through their cards.  Scott and I haven't sent cards the last couple of years - figure we'll wait until we start having kids.  

This last weekend we had a crazy night of Nertz.  Scott doesn't like this game.. so he was our cheerleader... or maybe just made random noises in the background :)  Don't worry... I took names as usual.  #nertzqueen

"Did you just drink out of the same cup?!?" lol {had to be there moment}

Today was the first snowfall of 2012!  So excited about the white powder cover the ice that covers my backyard.  So beautiful.  I wish it would stay long enough for Christmas, but that isn't very likely. 

How was your week? Favorite moments?


100th Post...

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the internet all of my faithful readers... whether I guilt you into reading or you choose to read on your own.  I cherish each and every one of you... even those of you I have no idea follow me.

Internet, I have to admit that when I started this blog back in 2009 or 2010?  I only wanted to see how many 'followers' I could get on blogger.  I aimed to please any ear that would listen eye that would read.  I focused on silly, mundane things and didn't get 'too deep' for the fear of disappointing a lovely follower.  I think I even wanted to become a trendy blogger... one that earns a living by blogging and stays home, takes care of her kids, blogs daily, makes beautiful things (food and otherwise).  Pioneer woman started small too, right?

While who wouldn't love to earn a living by writing all about life?... I have changed the meaning and purpose of this blog since then {hope you've noticed}.  I will admit that I still love checking to see how many have read and/or commented on my blog... however, it isn't my driving force anymore.  I don't walk on my tip toes to blog only about 'surface' or 'mundane' or 'likable' things.

When I got done with school in August of this year - I gave my blog a fresh look.  I changed my title from 'Captivating Moments' to 'Living Life...'  I wanted to broaden my scope and write about what I'm passionate about.... community, faith, family, friends, real life, and food with the occasional sassy post, trip down memory lane or pinterest discovery (good and bad)!

I've been spending some time re-reading over some of my older posts and enjoying the memories.  It is so refreshing - I have loved looking back on old posts and re-living those moments.

So here it is... my 100th post in and hope to continue strong - Lord willing.

What drives you to blog?  What keeps you reading blogs - what draws you in?


Launch... On prayer

So the guys and girls are still separate at Launch and the ladies have been talking about prayer.  It has been such a wonderful topic to discuss with these ladies.

So a couple of weeks ago we were discussing praying through scripture, and it corresponded nicely with the sunday morning service because we have been going through Matthew 6 - the Lord's prayer.  So we all spread out all over the church for 20 minutes alone to spend in prayer - she encouraged us to spend some time praying through scripture. This has not always been a part of my prayer routine, so I was definitely outside my comfort zone.

After the 20 minutes of prayer time, we gathered back together to discuss our experiences.  It was clear to me what was holding me back.  Our culture.  "Finish what you started"; "Hurry, be the first one done"; "The faster the better"... are all aspects of our culture that flooded my mind during this prayer time.

One of the avenues we discussed was to pray through each phrase.... emphasizing different words each time you read it.  Think through each and every word and how it impacts the message of the passage.

I decided to try this method - however all of the above thoughts kept coming to my mind.  "you only have 20 minutes to get through the entire Lord's prayer... you'll never get done going so slow... it is only worth doing if you get through the entire passage".

How sad is that?

Why can't I be satisfied just making it through one phrase of the passage?  Why do I hurry myself to feel some sort of adequacy?  Why does the number of verses equal relevance and productivity in my prayer life?  I let so much pressure from our culture influence how I meditate on the Word.  Wow.... that was a hard hitting reality that night.

Heaven forbid I only read/meditate/pray through 1 verse each session? Why do I put the pressure on myself to so as much as possible and get through it all?

Just something I'm learning about myself and my prayer life.  I tend to hurry through my prayer... not sure if it is all in an effort to feel productive, or to 'free up' God to listen to prayers from others?

Why do we I try to limit God to what my mind can comprehend?

Thoughts? How do you combat the pressure our culture places on hurriedness in your prayer life, or am I the only one that feels it?



This is one of my favorites, and one of those dishes people ask me to make!


You will need:
1 block of velveeta
1 lb of ground beef (actually only use about 2/3-3/4 lb)
1 taco bell - taco seasoning packet
1 can of rotel
Crock pot liner - {you WILL thank me later}

1. Seriously... the crock pot liner is a must.. especially when dealing with cheese.  Maybe you clean your pots the moment you're done using it... me - not practical.  It will set for a day or two... or five before I get around a chance to clean it... and that = nasty cheesy glue that refuses to come off the side of the crock pot.  

2. Cut the block of velveeta into cubes by cutting down the middle of the block then turning it on it's side and cutting down the middle again.  

3. Strain almost all of the liquid out of the Rotel and add that to the velveeta cubes in the crock pot.  Now - if you're like me and don't like chunks of junk... well - just get over this picture because if I can handle it... ANYONE can.  Seriously - you hardly notice they are there once it is all yummy and melted into cheesy goodness.

4. Brown 1 lb of ground beef (Scott prefers me to not use the entire lb so I put some of the taco meat to the side for lunch the next day - but feel free to use it all - I always did pre-scottie-too-hottie).  When all of the beef is cooked, reduce heat a little and add the taco seasoning and I always just fill the empty seasoning packet with water to add to the meat.  Don't ask why... but my mom always did this... so I'm just keeping that one alive.

5. Let the beef cook until all of the water you added is gone - so you know the seasoning is soaked into the meat?  {sounds good... lets go with that}

6. Stir every little bit until all of the chunks are melted.  Feel free to add some evaporated or regular milk if you like yours a bit runnier... I like it kind of thick so I don't tend to add any milk.

We always have a tupperware full of tortilla chips waiting to be munched on.

Ok... do you see the bottom 2 pictures?  seriously... it doesn't get ANY better than that.... lift the liner and toss!! Now that is MY kind of cleaning!! :)

Next objective... teach the dishwasher how to put away the clean dishes....

Let me know if you try it!



So apparently I am rebellious against Insta-Friday.... not sure why.  Working internally to figure that one out... but until then... here is an update :)

This will wrap up my gratitude - photo-a-day challenge for the month of November! I enjoyed the challenge... but was not successful at posting a picture every day - something to improve on next time around.

By far one of my favorite breakfast get-ups!  If you've never had Shatto Whole Chocolate milk... are you living?  You've GOT to try some.  Scott loves their strawberry milk... not so much for this girl - but chocolate is yuuuuuuummmy!

 crazy random girls night... I'm totally regretting the decision to not purchase the jingle bell ring... #retailregrets

Day 22: Clothing - This is a black shirt, grey sweater and teal scarf

Day 23: In Your Closet - have I mentioned that I love scarves? 

Day 24: Gratitude - best day of my life.  So thankful for Scott and our marriage... can't wait to live the next 75 years serving beside him.

Day 25: Artwork - Laina, Sharon and I took an art class in downtown LS and you can see more details from that event and this beautiful girl next to me - here...  I so enjoyed getting to play with paint... first time I had ever done that.  Can't wait for the next

Day 26: Transportation - I am so thankful for a reliable car that gets me to and from work.  Doesn't hurt that it is super cute and I feel like a celebrity when I drive it.  #2nd-car-ever-syndrome

Day 27: Daily Routine - When I get out of the shower, I let the cats in our bedroom - every. morning.  Then I dry my hair and Molly knows this is part of the morning routine... but she has added a special step about a year ago... she now uses her adorable little paws to knock a cup, or soup, or toothbrush, or whatever she can find into the sink.  I think this is her way of letting me know she is ready for her morning drink.  Well - don't worry, internet... I don't give in - right away.  I wait until I'm done with my hair before I give in :)  Potentially one of my favorite parts of every morning.

Day 28: Nighttime - This was a last Friday night... and I'm still cracking up over it.... and still wondering how it all actually happened the way it did.  I think I gained a couple of new blog followers from the deal - Rachel and Monica are some sweet ladies who I met through Jen - we have so much fun together.  Can't wait for the next girls night!

Day 29: Light - I love lamp.

Graduation is starting to actually feel real.  It is next saturday.. and I can't wait to close this chapter of my life.  I had such a great time and made a few long lasting friendships through the course of this 2 year program!  

Day 30: Self Portrait - You've seen this before if you've visited my 'About Ray' tab at the top of my blog... but this was the day after my most adventurous moment ever... when I let my friend Jen cut 8 or so inches off my hair. Uhh... internet, in real life she is a teacher... not a hair stylist! 

How is your week?!



I am helping, along with a few other ladies, to plan a ladies event this spring at my church.  I helped, with this same group of ladies for the spring event last year.  It was our first event like this and we had over 80 ladies in attendance.  LOVE IT!  We had a welcome session, 5 different break out sessions/workshops for attendees to pick from, wonderful coffee and desserts, fellowship, panel sessions.... the whole nine yards... it was marvelous!

So our ladies ministry leader felt the Lord leading her to do another spring event... we met for the 2nd time {this go around} tonight after our regular Wednesday activities.  I love it because we have never just assumed the event would be structured a certain way... in fact this next spring will look completely different than last spring.  I love that we don't force the topic to the structure but rather adapt the structure to the topic.  

This 'committee' {if you must} is made up of 6 ladies... and to be completely honest - the first few moments of these meetings aren't always the most comfortable.. and I love it.  Why?

Well because while we are all a part of the same church body, we are not directly involved in one another's direct community.

No, Raylene... why do you love it?

Ohhh... well - I love it because it means I'm stretching myself.  It means that I CAN still be stretched {even in my old age- walked right into that one}.  I love it because each time I meet with them - the time spent in 'discomfort' gets shorter and shorter.  I love it because each time I am getting to know each and every one of them a bit more... hearing their heart a little deeper each time.  I love it because it means community is being built.  It isn't quick... like I said we planned the one last year together... and have met twice about the event coming up this spring... and it is still a bit uncomfortable.  It isn't quick but it is genuine and not forced.  It is beautiful to see how intricate the Lord is - how He is revealing more and more about each of their hearts to me as I hear them talk and discuss our plans/brainstorming.  I love it because I get inspired, encouraged, humbled, enlightened by these ladies each time we gather. I love that we are each in a different stage of life and yet still able to connect.  I love it because each of these ladies are so unique and beautiful from the inside out-- and probably don't even realize it.  I love it because some of these ladies I may have no other reason to communicate with/spend time with/laugh with/brainstorm with- without this spring event which continues to bring us together.  I love it because I leave our meetings feeling so blessed, encouraged, loved, inspired and humbled.  I love it because it means I have somewhat 'forced' time to set aside to dig deeper with these ladies and begin to develop relationships-- who are not a part of my established core community.  I love it because there is no pressure to force each other into our core communities - but rather to create our own 'special' community established around these events.  

...THAT is a beautiful picture of community today

What is community looking like to you this week?


Pinterest re-try.. cookie in a mug

So I think I have added another blog topic here... because I tried another Pinterest recipe...
 and I have to admit that I wasn't very impressed again.  If you recall - I also tried this meal from pinterest and didn't care much for it.  

But I think it would be fun to try something new from pinterest once in a while and then share a review!

I'm not gonna lie- I'm getting a little discouraged in the quality of the recipes I've repinned.  But I'm not going to quit try just yet.  

You will need:
1 coffee mug
1 egg yoke
2 Tbsp. chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. white sugar
3 drops of vanilla flavoring
1 Tbsp. butter (melted)
1/4 cup of flour
pinch of salt

1. First mix the melted butter and white sugar in the cup or bowl you wish to use.

2. Add the egg yoke, brown sugar and vanilla and mix.

3. Add flour and pinch of salt and mix until completely blended.

4. Finally - put in microwave for 40-60 seconds - I did 50 seconds to start but it didn't look done so I did another 10 seconds and that did it.  I'm sure it depends on your microwave.

5. Attempt to enjoy :)  

Scott really liked it... I just didn't care for the consistency.  I thought it would be more like a cookie.. but really it was more of a cake consistency.

Let me know if you try it! I am determined to find an awesome recipe that I love on pinterest! I have tried a cleaning suggestion and it worked like a charm... next time I use it I will take pictures so I can share it with you.  

Have a great week, lovelies!


It's been a while...

What are some of your 'Post It worthy moments' this week?!