thanksgiving and birthday bliss...

I have to admit, internet, this year I was not overly excited about turning 27.  No longer considered 'mid-twenties'... moving into the 'late-twenties' and inching closer and closer to 30.  Oh man... I am having a hard time with getting that close to another decade down.

While it hasn't been an easy number to adjust to... I have to say that my birthday was wonderful this year!

It all started the weekend before my birthday, when some of my closest friends and I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Genghis Khan - in Westport, MO.  It is delightful, to say the least!  Hands down the best crab rangoon ever.

So we started off the night with some yummy goodness and then headed back to Jen's house for some of my favorite dessert --- Dirt.  It is my favorite thing that Jen makes... one time she accidently used cheese cake pudding instead of vanilla... and it sealed the deal ... ever since then -who needs vanilla pudding when you have cheese cake pudding?! #seriously

Oh... and my dear friend Laina... AKA "the girl that licks things"... she licked the menu for my birthday.  #don'task

Between the above celebration and my real birthday.. Scott and I went to celebrate on our own... and tried a new restaurant... it was delicious!!! Freebirds is a lot like Chipotle and Qudoba... I really liked how many options they have and the fact that they have QUESO {one of many keys to my heart}.  They have several different sizes of burritos, nachos, a TON of toppings, and so much more... it was really good.  I'm excited to have yet another good place to grab some grub in town!

We spent the first 1/2 of thanksgiving day cleaning our house {remember when I decided to put up christmas decor instead of cleaning... yeah....} then we spent the evening at Scott's aunt's house.  We had some great time of catching up and playing with little ones.  Always a good time!  I have a couple of recipes 'on order' - after having Scott's grandma's pumpkin pie and her homemade whipped cream... yum!

So fast forward a few days... to my real birthday-- I got to start off the day one of my favorite ways...

Coffee date with Laina!  We had been looking forward to and planning this quality time for a while {planning makes our hearts happy}.  It finally worked itself out... and what a wonderful way to start such a special day!  Laina brightens my day... and my soul.  I love this girl - she has such a special place in my heart... a place I can't even begin to describe.  #blessed

So after some catching up with Laina... I went home to get the hubster and we headed over to my parent's house to hang out and bake pies for our thanksgiving celebration on Saturday with my dad's side of the family in Osceola, MO.  Then that evening Scott and I went on a double date w/my bro and his fiance.  I SOOOOOOOO enjoyed this bonding time :)

Melissa had never been to the Plaza - so we first went to Liberty Memorial to show her a good view of the city... then headed over to the plaza to walk around and see the lights!  We took them to one of our favorite coffee shops, Latte Land, {thanks to Jer and Mer for revealing this marvelous establishment to us this time a year or two ago} on the plaza and headed to the roof top to get a great view of the plaza lights.  It was so wonderful!

If I had any doubts about this chick before {yeah right I've loved her from the get go}... they would be erased after our time spent this last weekend!  She is absolutely perfect for my big brother, and a wonderful addition to our family.  This was by far the most quality time we've gotten to spend with her... and I can't WAIT to officially be sistas from another mista!  Her and Scott have already started a very unique 'in-law' bond... which is probably one of the most adorable things ever!

So after some great conversation and a few frozen noses later... we headed back to the rent's where mom was fixing my (and my brother's) favorite birthday meal..... Springfield Style Cashew Chicken!  YUUUM!

After some yummy food with family and some ice cream cake {my fav} - we played some sequence with the bro and Melissa!  The girls dominated... #asusual

So Saturday we headed down to my grandparent's house in southern MO for our annual thanksgiving celebration.  A few of us went out to target shoot - which is a thanksgiving tradition around here!  We didn't get to last year because it was muddy or something that day. {I'm 1/3 country girl; 2/3 city girl} ;)  We had some more bonding time... it was a blast... and I got some good target practice in! That 1/3 country girl has pretty good aim. #bragmoment

While in southern MO, I decided to hit one of our family favorite flea markets - one that I used to dread going to when I was little because we would spend HOURS looking at every tiny item in the store.  I found a couple of items that were calling my name.. Don't you just LOOOVE that middle vase? Of course Jen came over and helped me re-arrange my decor and found the PERFECT place for it! :)  Thanks, girl!

How was your thanksgiving?!  What is your favorite thanksgiving family tradition?  What was your favorite moment of your birthday this year? Any advice for entering my 'late-twenties'? {insert cringe}


Christmas Decor...

I. am. not. a. good. decorator.

There, I said it, internet.  Sometimes I like to think I am {insert sweet smile}

I don't have 6 totes of decorations for Christmas alone... I don't have 15 totes of decor for the entire year.  I have 1.5 totes for Christmas decor... then I have the rest of the year decor.

This is one of my favorite times of year... I really do enjoy my christmas decorations once they are up and I've gotten a compliment or two on them {love language=words of affirmation}

So I thought it'd be fun to let you into my christmas decorated world... via pictures.

If there is ever something going on... or anyone moving at all somewhere in the house - Molly is right there to supervise.  She is spunky, adorable, sassy, cute, and right in the middle of everything... so this post wouldn't be complete if she were left out of it :)

She especially loves new things to explore... to lay in... dig around inside of... this is perfection in her world.  Molly is pawing around the loose tree needles from the tree tote - while enjoying a new perspective...from inside the tote, of course.

I found these stackable ornament boxes at Bed Bath and Beyond 2 years ago and I've been obsessed with them ever since!  I will eventually need another one to hold our ever-growing ornament collection.  I am very picky though... you must know that I don't take ornament selecting lightly.

Here is our tree!  Yes.. we are huge MU fans.. and probably 2-3 years ago I found this adorable MU santa hat and thought we had to have it!  When I got it home... I had no idea where to put it... so it landed on top of our, at the time, 4-foot tree that our friend Candace gave us when she moved to CA.  Well... it has continued to land at the top of our tree every year... even last year when we got our first 'big kid' tree.  I kind of like it... I know that is weird... but I like thinking of why it's there... how that tradition just naturally developed... i love it.

Of course, it wouldn't be a tree without Molly being our present!  Every single year Molly curls up under the tree... it is her favorite thing about christmas time... that and pretending the tree is real and it was put in place as a toy for her to play in.... yes.  not with. in.  It's ok... after the first year of Molly being a part of our family... I quickly learned to put the breakable ornaments up high.

So on to our mantle... this is what it has looked like since February 2011.  {insert Jen's cringe} Well ok... I did have hearts cut out of scrapbook paper hanging instead of pictures during the month of February... so it has changed a little bit.  Regardless... this is our mantle before christmas threw up on it...

Here is the mantle after christmas took over this town.  You can't see it... but there is an adorable string of ornaments strung in front of the lit garland... so basically... it is cuter in person :)

I love the additions of my wood frames from Hobby Lobby so much that I couldn't part with them even for a few months while christmas decor took over... so I got creative.  I now wish the ornaments on right the frame were colored ornaments... but oh well - I'll switch it up next year.

Back in high school my mom got me this tiny christmas tree for my bedroom because I have always loved christmas lights.. and had them hanging all around my room all year long so we decided to add a tree for christmas one year.  So this tiny tree lives in my stereo box (yes... from 1999) and went to college with me and has lived on my desk at work since I graduated college!  To this day - that box lives at work waiting for this time of year to display my tiny tree!  I really need to find a pretty box/tote to replace the stereo box... but it works for now!

It stays decorated all year long... so it is by far the easiest piece of my christmas decor to display :)  My cubical is now ready for the christmas season!!

and uhhh... have I mentioned that we are MU fans?...

What are some of your favorite decorations you display for christmas?!


Brown Sugar Cookies...

Once upon a time... there was this really nice lady and she brought some cookies to work to share with her co-workers.  AND THEY LOVED THEM.  So I begged for the recipe to make some of my own.  AND THEY LOVED THEM. {the end}

These are seriously so delicious, internet... if only you really knew!

You will need:
1 cup shortening
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 can of Dunken Hines Vanilla Whipped Icing (or your favorite icing)

For the details...

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the shortening and sugar in your mixer {so thankful for my Misty the Mixer}

2. Add eggs, water, and vanilla and mix until blended

3. Put all dry ingredients in a bowl and sift the dry ingredients into the mixer and be sure to mix well.  I typically put 1/2 of the dry ingredients in and mix that together... then add the 2nd 1/2 and finish mixing - so that I know it all gets blended well.  This is especially helpful when doubling the recipe above {like I did for this demo}

4. Bake 8-10 minutes

5. Let the cookies cool, then ice them and enjoy!!  I added red to the icing to get in the Christmas spirit!

Let me know if you try them... they are super yummy!!!!



So I realize that I'm getting worse and worse about this Insta-Friday thing!  But I love it anyway!

I have missed you the last week, internet.  But I enjoyed some quality time with family and friends... it was so good for my soul!  

life rearranged

Day 12: Hands - This little lady is so stinkin' adorable and we clapped our hands so many times that night.. so this was an obvious choice for this day of gratitude! :)

Day 14: Movement - this day was FULL of twirling in the beautiful fall leaves!

Day 15: Technology - I LOOOOOOOOOVE having my entire life plan (work, life, church, etc) all in 1 place!  Just ask my friends about my contacts in my phone.... :)

Day 16: Animals - Top picture is Molly.. she lays like that quite often... I crack up every. single. time.  Bottom picture is Charlie he is so sassy... and 100% a momma's boy.

Day 17: Memories - This was our first picture ever taken as a couple-  July 21, 2006

Day 18: Something New - This is new to my Christmas mantle decor.. and I'm in love!

I had a physical for the first time that I can remember... and became a hero that day. #ihateneedles

Ok-  I'm not usually THAT person... you know, the one that puts their christmas decorations up the weekend BEFORE thanksgiving.  But this year.. I am that person.  Internet - hear me out here - it was either clean... or decorate.  What would you have done? 

Day 19: Best Friend - This is me and my best friend back in high school - she came on a family vacation to Colorado with me!  We had SOOOOO much fun... oh my goodness--- I crack up just thinking about this trip. :)  #blessed

Day 20: Seasonal - Well my house is now christmas-ified!  Ready for this season!!

Day 21: Where you sleep - This one is kind of weird... but here is where I sleep.  I am thankful for a bed to lay my head and a house to stay warm in.  

 I love this man.  #goofy

Well - I will continue the insta-updating later this week... and hope to be caught up for the real insta-Friday! :)

Hope you all had a great thanksgiving!  What was your favorite moment of the week of Thanksgiving?!


brotherly love...

So thanksgiving is coming up... and it is the holiday that my brother gets to come in town for... so I'm exceptionally excited for this week.  Since it is also my birthday week.. I'm just going to tell myself he is making the special trip just for my bday! :)  #ray'sreality

so here are some of my favorite things about my brother...

- he is considerate.  He always thinks through each scenario and determines who and what will be affected by his decision/actions.. or whatever.  He is constantly going above and beyond  - to the point where I often say 'Oh I would never have thought of that'... he is so special to me

- he is a smarty pants.  I get to brag about how smart he is, because he would never let anyone know otherwise.  He went to a smarty pants school, and another smarty pants law school - where he was an editor of the law review -- and he is currently an attorney who is following the Lord's calling to join the mi li tar y sometime soonish.

- he is thrifty.  This is something I'm thankful for because watching him be super thrifty and being very conscious of his spending has encouraged me to pay closer attention to it through the years.  I appreciate it much more now than I ever did growing up. But sometimes the guy just needs to buy a new pair of shoes... Or jeans.... Or toothbrush :)

- he is loving.  The man knows how to show someone he loves them.  I have loved watching him build a relationship with his now, fiance, Melissa.  I'm such a huge fan.  She was worth the wait, for sure!!!

- he is a risk taker.  He has an adventurous heart and I love this about him because it reflects one way that we are soooooo different.  I am such a safe person... and he encourages the tiny risk taker spec inside of me.

- he is sassy.  I believe I learned most of my sassiness from him! Along with this sassiness come the family stubbornness... I guess I have to claim it too...

- he is protective.  He is a few years older than me and from the time I was really little - he was protective of me.  He took such good care of me as a little kid.  I didn't really even start to appreciate that until we were older... after the terrible teenage years where we weren't particularly close.  We weren't the siblings that fought all the time... but when he went to college - that's when I really began to see how much he means to me.  I missed having him at home... Still do!

- he gives good advice.  He has such sound advice to share... and will share it only if asked.  Sometimes I just want him to offer it with out having to ask... but I appreciate this about him.  I remember him giving me a hug and saying something sweet in my ear right before I walked down the isle to marry my hubby.  I also remember how much I was focusing on not crying before I even hit the isle!

- he is calm by nature.  I like to think that I CAN be calm-natured at times... but I don't think many of my friends would add this to my list of descriptive terms..... :)

- he is a planner... paying close attention to details.  Man after my own heart.  We don't look anything alike.. but we do have this in common FOR SURE.

I could go on and on and on... but I'll stop here for now.

What are your favorite things about your siblings?


Wasp debacle...

Ok, internet... I have a story to share.... and I'm not proud of it, while it is quite hilarious now... looking back.

So last Friday I was sitting on my couch on my computer {much like I am right now} when all of the sudden Molly (see below) fixes her beautiful big eyes on something near the fire place.  I wasn't sure what she had found, but she is our hunter of the family - so I figured a small spider or piece of lent caught in the light or something.

Oh no... so a few moments later I see a huge {my perspective} wasp fly over my head and land on the wall in our kitchen.  Ummm... to say I don't like wasps would be an enormous understatement.  So I did what any girl would do... squeal for a moment and then think 'where is the fly swatter?'.

Only to discover - I have been married for almost 5 years now and have NEVER owned a fly swatter.  Is that even possible? Yes, internet... I just proved that it is.

So my mind is digging for the next best option... I see my broom... but then I immediately imagine the wasp laughing hysterically at me thinking 'sure.. go ahead and try to get me w/that thing... see how mad I get'.  I didn't want to test his temper so I searched for my next viable option...  CALL MOM!  lol

*Disclaimer: I slightly considered calling Scott... but #1. he was in school and I knew he would not be able to leave class to come rescue his bride and #2. he would have chuckled and told me to kill it myself...*

well that was NOT one of the options I felt brave enough to try at this very moment...

So I soon realize that mom would still be at work and is at least 30 minutes away and wouldn't be getting off for a few more hours.

So I call dad on his cell phone, knowing that he is home... so I told him of my issue.  Of course emphasizing the fact that I don't have a fly swatter... not the fact that I refused to attempt the killing myself. {not because I want to save his life.... the wasp has to die}

So he confirms my suspicions of the wasp's temper and warns me not to use the broom to try to kill him.  Ok, I'm feeling better about this... I just know at this point he is going to offer to come over and rescue his baby girl from the home intruder.

Well... actually dad tells me that he'll 'send mom over'!  I'm excited because I thought mom was at work-- see I would have called her first if I knew she was already home.  Let me just say... I am my dad's daughter.  My mom is a hoss.  No spider, wasp, bee, or unidentified bug/animal is going to scare this woman.  My dad and I on the other hand.... uhh - no thanks!

So dad sends mom over to my house... they live about 6 minutes away.. and there must have been a ton of traffic because I'm sure it took her an hour to get there.  She finally shows up with a beautiful pink fly swatter in hand and is laughing at with me.

All of that to say... my mommy came over and watched me killed the wasp for me.. yup - 26 years old!

Whew... so glad I got that off my chest... that is my Real Ray moment for this week.

Sadly - next time there is no excuse because she graciously donated the bright pink fly swatter so that I too can take matters into my own hands... oh goodness.  I hope one day I won't be scared of them like mom.

Well that felt good.

How has your week been?  Anything you need to own up to today, while we're being real? :)


Pasta experiment...

So, internet... I'm going to be honest... I just got done cooking my first ever recipe found on Pinterest!  I know... I have a million things pinned on there and JUST finished cooking my 1st experimental dinner.  I had to start small... something I knew would be easy.

So I made this pasta dish.. not even sure what it's called... but to be honest-- it wasn't my favorite.  BUT I know that I am the pickiest person in the world - so someone will enjoy this dish more that I did.

You will need:

Penne Pasta (or whatever pasta you feel like using that day)
1 1/2 tsp Minced Garlic
1/4 to 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil {depends on amount of pasta}
1 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Peppers
1 1/2 tsp of italian seasoning

The details...

1. First boil the pasta, then strain and place in serving dish.

2. Add crushed red peppers, garlic, italian seasoning, and olive oil and toss. 

I added an italian blend of grated cheese - and we of course made some yummy garlic crescent rolls!

It was decent - but it was super spicy for my liking... so if I try this one again - I'll probably try to replace the crushed red peppers with something else.  But just removing it all together would be too bland.

Let me know what you all think of it?!



I'm a few days late... but here is an update on my #gratitudechallenge and a little other instagram action...

life rearranged

Day 3: Happiness - This was taken a few months ago during my first babysitting extravaganza since like 2003!  We had a blast -- this girl is full of so much joy... it is beautiful.

Day 4: Leaves - this is my favorite time of year. (period)

Day 5: Morning Sky - this was a gloomy morning- I was getting ready to leave work... it was so beautifully still and quiet (except for the rain) this morning

Last Tuesday I voted for my 2nd presidential election ever.

Day 6: Books - the left hand side is our wedding book from our photographer... and it is laying on the scrapbook I made of our relationship pre-wedding.  The top right is my 1st smash book - I'm obsessed and waaayyyy behind.  The lower right are a few of my favorite books along with my moleskine notebooks that hold so many meaningful notes from sermons, biblestudy discussions, etc... I have one for every need :)

Day 7: Something Funny - These are some of my youth ladies... they crack me up constantly.  They are goofy, loving, sassy, caring, thoughtful, kind, serious-- and they keep me young.  I'm so grateful for these ladies.

Day 8: Favorite Color - So I kind of cheated here... I love pretty much anything natural wood, the perfect mustardy yellow, gray, beautiful turquoise... these are just a few of my favorites.. there are too many to list!

DATE NIGHT with the hubby!  We don't do this nearly enough... but we had a groupon for one of our favorite places, Hereford House, a well-known steakhouse here in KC, MO.  I so enjoyed this date - #IheartScott

Day 9: Inspiring Person - This is Kandy... there really aren't words to describe how much the Lord has used her in my life the last several years.  She is a leader of our Launch-young adult ministry and she has a passion for the Lord that you can't help but want to be around her to attempt to absorb... she has such a beautiful soul. - so grateful for her!

Day 10: Nature -- this is a little Japanese Maple tree that is in my parent's front yard that I've always loved.  Adoring God's beauty through it today...

Day 11: Something Old - This table was purchased new in 1941 by my Great-Granddad P. when my Granddad was only 8 years old.  There were so many memories made around this table... and it was the table I grew up eating around every night with my family.  I am so thankful for my parents and their value of family time around the dinner table.  This will be joining my home soon (with a little re-staining, new seat covers, and a few new eclectic, colorful chairs) #projectinthemaking  I am so excited for Scott and I.. and our future family... and all of our friends to make even more memories around this table... and engrave those memories in every scratch, crevasse, and squeak.  #simplybeautiful

Last weekend we made dinner for our friends, the Franzes... and when I say 'we' I really mean 'I' :)  But... don't worry-- b/c I got to make one of my favorite meals-- Fajitas!!! and yes... I was conducting my typical cooking show in my head as  prepared!  

I got to have some pumpkin pie.. thanks to our good friend, Jonathan (he is the guy in the background on the left laughing so hard he is crying)  It was yummy-- as usual! I know internet, he doesn't have a blog to link him to though... #sorryaboutit

Gave Scott a much needed hair cut... I have to say that I get better every time.  I think I really started to recognize the increase of skill when I got the cape... it really sealed the deal of 'professional' for me... #mindovermatter ... right?

So this is random... but my friend Meredith and I have this thing... we believe 100% that sauces taste better out of metal ramekins... AND that anything tastes better out of a black straw.... mind blown - aren't ya?  Because it is SO true!

On of my top 5 moments of the weekend-- BFF coffee date w/this lovely!  I love this girl - she has been my best friend for 12+ years now... need I say more?  Well don't worry- I will be posting about this lady sometime soonish in my blog future!

What were some of your favorite moments this weekend?