Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I've been very busy getting ready for Christmas.

We started with shopping.  My wonderful husband took me to the outlets in Williamsburg shopping last weekend. He doesn't love shopping but is such a good sport and we managed to get quite a good start on our Christmas gifts. This weekend, I spent a little more time shopping.  :-)

This weekend Matt and I decorated.  It has been quite a process.  It always is with me.  We started it last week when we got everything down from the attic.  We also had to go out and get more decorations (like I don't have enough) which kept us busy last week.  Matt is such a good sport.  He got right into it on Saturday.  We turned up the Christmas music and started the decorating.  Here's a sneak peak to tide you over until I post all of the full Christmas Tour of the Wheawill House.

Tree skirt

I decided to make a tree skirt as my next sewing project.  I wanted to have it done before this weekend so I could be ready for the decorating. 

What do you think?  I think it looks pretty good.  I didn't want to buy a pattern.  (The are pretty expensive so the hardest part was getting it in my mind how to sew it all together and cutting the semi circles.)  My mom drew me a picture and Matt helped me in make the semi circles.  Thanks for the help Mom and Matt!

Happy Thanksgiving

Matt and I had such a fun time celebrating Thanksgiving with the Wheawill family.  We got started last weekend, on Saturday, when Matt's parents (Dick and Debbie) hosted dinner at their house for all of Debbie's family.  Matt's sister, Courtney, was able to come home for the weekend.  We had such a fun time visiting with the family and eating the delicious food. 

Debbie made the most delicious dessert.  I was happy to be able to bring home some leftovers! 

I managed to be lucky enough to have Thursday off work and since Dick and Debbie worked so hard on the big dinner for the family, I offered to cook here for the 4 of us.  I can't take credit for the dinner.  Matt is a great cook and he helped the whole time.  We cooked our first turkey (and it was a success).  It was fun getting to cook my traditional thanksgiving dinner with the sides that my mom made us growing up.  I have so much be thankful for.  I have such a wonderful life that should not be taken for granted.  Thanksgiving has always been special to me.  This thanksgiving was a little different, being away from my family and I missed everyone back in Grundy. I'm really into traditions and Thanksgiving meant spending it with my dad's family.  My Papaw put so much effort into it every year.  My Mamaw would make some sides but he would finish it off.  It truly was his holiday.  After he wasn't able to do all the effort and planning, my mom took it on and she made everything just like Papaw did.  I so much appreciate that.  So, to this day, it's just not thanksgiving without of course the turkey, gravy, and Mamaw's stuffing, but also some sort of relish tray (I had deviled eggs), corn pudding, greeen beans, mashed potatoes and rolls.  Papaw had more sides than that.  He tended to go overboard (I guess I got that after him!).  Even though he passed away about 5 years ago, every Thanksgiving I can't help but remember helping with the preparing, sitting at the dinner table (right beside him of course), and watching him smile as he enjoyed visiting with his son and daughter in law from out of town (my Uncle Rob and Aunt Susan).  Papaw was such a special person and he definitly spoiled Meredith and I rotten.  I'm so thankful to have been able to have so many years of my life with Papaw and will always be thankful for all the memories! 

It's been a wonderful holiday.  I am thankful that Matt and I both have family traditions and it's fun to share them and also start our very own traditions.

Wally has throughly enjoyed Thanksgiving as he has been eating on his scraps.  He is one stuffed Turkey himself! 

Very behind....

Where to begin...

A lot of fun has happened in the last few weeks, which means while it was all worth blogging about, I didn't find the time.  So, my birthday was wonderful.  So far, 29 is going to be a good year.

First of all, my birthday got started early due to getting to leave work early. (Yay!)  I got home and my presents from my sweet, wonderful husband were on the dining table.  So, as soon as Matt got home from work (and no kidding by as soon as he walked in the door), I wanted to open the gifts and all the cards that my family sent in the mail (I have such great Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, and friends).  Matt did really well this year (he is a great gift giver!).

Matt got me a sewing machine!  I am very excited about this.  My great Aunt Daisy and great Aunt Louise taught me how to sew one summer when I was about 10.  They were so talented and very patient as they taught me to make a pillow cover and a dress.  My mom is also a great, talented seamstress who has made many clothes, curtains, pillows, etc.  Finally, my Nanny (grandmother), also a talented seamstress made my sister and I pretty girly dresses along with dresses for our cabbage patch dolls when we were growing up.

Among other gifts, he got me a pharmacy to go along with my other pharmacies of Chirstmas villages.  I have now collected 6 pharmacies and of them, Matt has given me at least half. 

After I opened my presents, we went out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant which did not disappoint.  (Italian food is my abosolute favorite!)  My best friend, Ali, and her husband, Mark, joined us for dinner.  Ali and I grew up in the same church and have been friends for so long.  I'm so lucky to have such a great best friend!  And, of course, Ali also did so well in the gift department with an Ann Taylor sweater and smaller crock pot for dips (I always borrow hers).

Well, it's not me in the picture but this is the sweater.  Ali has such great taste and she knows me well.  I liked it so well that I had to buy it as a gift for someone else.  Can't say who in case they are reading the blog.

Finally, we made it back home and waited for my parents to arrive.

My parents came with more gifts. 

I got a great table for tailgating and parties.  I've been wanting one and will be excited to use it! 

Also, my parents got me something to get me started with decorating for Christmas.  Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love Christmas! 

I had such a wonderful weekend with my family and friends.  We were busy all weekend and I feel like the best present of the whole weekend was the quality time I got with everyone.  Unfortunately, I don't have pictures to share.  I tried to get the camera out on my birthday but the batteries were dead.  Then, the rest of the weekend, I kept forgetting.  Friday night, my mom and dad took all of us out of a wonderful dinner.  Matt and I came back and we played cards with my parents.  We love to play Rook with my mom and dad.  Unfortunately, they won but it was just luck!  :-)  Saturday morning,  my mom and I started early trying to shop and then we hosted a big tailgate party here for the VT game.  Thankfully, the Hokies won!  In the midst of the all the business of the weekend, my mom worked with me and helped me get started with the new sewing machine.  My mom and I played around with it and within a few minutes, I was ready to get serious and make a pillow for the guest bedroom. 

My parents had to leave early Sunday morning.  Although, the weekend didn't stop for Matt and I.  We had our first Thanksgiving dinner of 3.  We had a fun time with our friends enjoying home-cooked meals and drinks.  Unfortunatly, I didn't take pictures!  Thanks Dave and Lyndsay for hosting such a fun time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Birth Week

My birthday is on Thursday, November 12. 

Tonight, I started the celebrating. (Anthropologie, one of my favorite stores, sent me a birthday candle necklace and a coupon to use for my birthday so I thought the necklace was fitting to wear tonight).  As we got ready to leave the house tonight, Matt grabbed the camera.  He said he looked today and noticed I hadn't blogged in a while.  :-)   So, thanks to him, I actually have pictures.

Anyways, tonight was quite the celebration!  Matt's dad and mom (Dick and Debbie Wheawill) made me the most delicious dinner.  It seems that they started this tradition when Matt and I were dating.  We had salad and chicken cacciatore.  I requested it this year and it was definitely delicious.  Then, for dessert, we had a yummy apple dessert made with pie pastry, toasted pecan, and caramel sauce that was topped with vanilla ice cream.  Yum!!

I got some great presents.  Debbie gave me a pin that is in the shape of a crown to wear to be "Queen for the Day."  Also, I got a necklace to wear for Thanksgiving.  I had to participate in a tradition within Matt's family where you get several gifts but have a make a choice.  So, I received a very nice turtle neck sweater from Ann Taylor (one of my faovirte stores) and a black pashmina scarf (so soft).  Oh, and my cute Christmas napkins with the "W" on them.  (I absolutely love everything about Christmas and can't wait to start decorating but it has to wait until after Thanksgiving.  Of course, that means the day after Thanksgiving!)  Matt's sister got me a VT plate (I had the same one previously and loved keeping it out on my kitchen counter until I broke it.).  This is funny to me because last year at Chirstmas Matt's sister replaced another plate that I broke.  So, thank goodness I have a sister-in-law to fix my clumsiness! 

I am so lucky to have married the man of my dreams and to have such a loving, smart, handsome husband who loves me and shows me everyday.  In addition, I feel extremely blessed to have married into the Wheawill family and to have my father-,mother-, and sister-in-law.

Tonight was a fun night!  I look forward to having my parents visit this weekend.


Wally loves to sleep in his bed but in the mornings, right after Matt and I get up, he has to jump in the warm bed and sleep while we get ready. 

Or, some mornings I get lucky enough to be scheduled to work the early shift in the pharmacy and he really loves it then because he can cuddle with Matt!

Aren't they cute?  :-)

King Ranch Casserole

This is another favorite of ours. It seems as if I have a Mexican theme. :-)

2 tablespoons butter/margerine
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 green bell pepper (chopped)
1 red bell pepper (chopped)
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can diced tomatoes & green chiles
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
2 cups shredded cheese
Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 325.

Melt butter in medium skillet over med-high heat. Add onion and peppers: saute 8 min or until tender. Stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients. Cook, stir occasionally for 2 min.

Place half of tortilla chips in bottom of 9 x 12.5 pan. Layer with half of chicken mixture and shredded cheese. Repeat layers, ending with cheese. Bake, uncovered at 325 for 45 min, or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Garnish, if desired.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chili-Cheese Black Bean Enchiladas

This is one of our favorite recipes. It's a Cooking Light recipe that was shared by our good friends, Mark and Ali Hamrick. My mom and dad tried it last night and it passed their test. I made it this past week. It's very early easy to cook and make in advance then bake when you are ready to eat it. We never mind having leftovers when we make it. Enjoy!

cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 package morning star spicy black bean burgers (thawed and crumbled)
3/4 cup bottled salsa
1/3 cup (3 ounces) fat-free cream cheese (softened)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (divided)
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 4 min or until tender. Stir in cumin, oregano, chili powder, garlic, beans, and soy crumbles, and cook 2 min, stirring mixture frequently.

Stir in salsa, and cook 1 min. Remove from heat, and add cream cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spread 1/3 cup (I eyeball it) enchilada sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/3 cup black bean mixture down center of each tortilla (I just put however much in that I want, depending on how many tortillas I'm making), and roll up. Arrange enchiladas, seam sides down, crosswise in dish. Pour remain enchilada sauce evenly over enchiladas and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar. Bake at 350 for 20-30 min or until thoroughly heated.