Our 1st Christmas

This year we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Alison’s family in East Texas.  (Robby’s family got together the week before in West Texas and we spent many late nights visiting and catching up with them.)

As we got home to Mt. Pleasant, the driveway was lined with candles to welcome us home!  Alison’s dad was so thoughtful to do this, even at 11:00pm at night!   We had not visited Alison’s family since Labor Day, so they were very excited to see us!   Our days were spent visiting family, relaxing in front of the fire place, and catching up on life.

Robby's new shirt

Robby’s new shirt

Puzzles with Brookers!

Puzzles with Brookers!

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful, and since we have no place to go….let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

That’s right!   IT SNOWED ON CHRISTMAS DAY!   We awoke to the sound of thunder outside and rain tapping on the windows.  Oh, what a delightful sound!!   After laying in bed for a bit and enjoying a rainy morning (which we don’t have very often in West Texas), we got up and exchanged stockings and presents with family.

Alison’s mother hand made Robby his own stocking this year, which we were all very proud of.

Robby's new stocking

Robby’s new stocking

More family came in later in the day and joined in the festivities.   However, the weather continued to get worse.  The rain quickly turned to snow, which our niece and nephew LOVED!!   That’s right, we had a white christmas!

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Playing in the snow

Playing in the snow

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Ali and Zach

Munchkin and Pookie in the snow!

There’s just one thing you need to remember in East Texas when it snows….the electricity is bound to go out.  And it did.  From 5:00pm on Christmas day till 11:00am the next morning.  Some people went days without power, so we considered ourselves very lucky.  By candlelight we ate dinner, put puzzles together, and played Uno!

Poppi and Brookers putting puzzles together.

Poppi and Brookers putting puzzles together.

We slept by the fire place all night, keeping the fire going so we could stay warm.   What a memorable 1st Christmas!  By the time we left to go back to Dallas and fly home to Midland/Odessa, the snow was still beautiful!

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Staying Organized during Christmas

It’s our 1st Christmas being married!   And you know what that means, right?  2 families to buy gifts for, traveling to see family, splitting time with everyone, and very little sleep!   However, we’ve been done with our Christmas shopping for 2 weeks now, and haven’t felt stressed about the holidays at all!   “HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?” you ask.   Well, it’s a little thing I call The Christmas Binder!   Yes-sir-e-bob, I made a Christmas Binder to stay organized this year.  AND IT REALLY DID HELP!!

I spent a few hours pulling from websites and blogs all over, finding free printables, gathering advice, taking ideas and molding it to our family needs, and keeping it near me pretty often.

Let’s start with the calendar, shall we?

Monthly Calendar

Monthly Calendar

check lists

check lists

OrganizedChristmas was where I started my search with a calendar.  They have the great ideas of how to start planning and thinking ahead of December so that when December is here, you can enjoy and not race to get gifts, baking, cleaning, packing, Christmas Cards sent, etc… all tackled at once.

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Your Way is a fantastic website, year round, for creative and fun things that are family friendly.  They are focused on intentional living and making the most of the day.  I used their Christmas Printables to get my binder started.  These were very easy to change and print to my needs.

Thank You Notes

Thank You Notes

Organizing Homelife was a big help in covering all of my bases and having documents ready to print.   With topics such as 12 Days of Christmas (Planning),  Stocking Stuffer Ideas, and so much more, this lady has it all covered!

Our Binder Cover

Our Binder Cover

All that I had to do was tweek a cover for my binder and make it my own!   We used a LOT of Groupon Deals this year and were able to easily track them with our binder.  Groupon helped us get our Christmas card for a great price and the binder was the central hub for receipts, documents, and address lists.

Update: AdvoCare Results

Many of you have asked if we lost weight and inches doing the AdvoCare Cleanse.  The answer:  YES!!    Alison lost 4 lbs and 4.5 inches while Robby lost 7 lbs and 7.5 inches.   WOW!

The day after we finished the cleanse we went back to our glutton-ous ways and tried to eat steaks, greasy burritos, alcohol, etc…   The result of that= WE FELT AWFUL THE NEXT DAY!   Our bodies were NOT happy with what we did to it.  (Go figure, right?!?)  So I (Alison) went back to my healthy eating the next day.  Robby….well,…..he’s on his own.

With the holidays it is hard to keep on going with the cleanse and the 24 day challenge, though I know you can do it if you really want to.  The bottom line is that we just don’t want it that badly.  We’d rather enjoy our time with family and friends, going out to eat, having coffee and such, and worry about the cleanse in January.   My plan is to keep incorporating recipes from the 24 Day Challenge for dinners and keep fresh fruit and veggies available as we go on.

Thanks for asking about us!  If you have any questions about trying the AdvoCare 10 Day Cleanse, feel free to message me and I’m more than happy to help!

Happy Birthday, Daddy Jim!

Daddy Jim

Happy Birthday to our grandfather (and roommate) Daddy Jim!

We have enjoyed sharing a house with Daddy Jim for 6 months now.  It has been a joy to cook and have family dinner during the week.  Listening to his stories brightens my day.  Daddy Jim has experienced many things in his 83 years of life!  Being a mayor, traveling throughout the world, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, petting sharks, being on TV, hosting telethons,…..the list goes on and on!   The more you learn about this man, the more you appreciate his heart for not only his family, but for his community.  Daddy Jim loves the people of Odessa and has done much for West Texas.   So today, we enjoyed wishing him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (Or as Jim says the anniversary of his birthday)

To celebrate, Daddy Jim asked that Robby and I cook dinner at the house.  Robby grilled his fantastic steaks and I fixed the side dishes (roasted brussel sprouts, steamed veggies, and sauteed zucchini and squash) accompanied by a delicious chocolate cake.  Daddy Jim, My Naynie, Greta, Danny, Kayla, Robby & I sat around the dinner table, enjoying the feast, celebrating Daddy Jim’s life, and laughing.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Don’t you just love family dinners?   It was a perfect Friday night.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Last week the temperature was in the mid 70’s here.  And then…..a cold front swept through!  YAY!!   It’s about time that we get to bring out our winter jackets!

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I woke up to this wonderful picture of my brother-in-law and nephews, enjoying the beautiful snow in Minneapolis.  Aren’t they precious?!   I can’t wait to see snow this winter!  Last year it snowed on Christmas Eve in West Texas.  While I’m doubtful it will happen 2 years in a row, Robby and I are planning on going to Colorado to ski for Valentine’s Day and will get our fill of snow then.

While waiting for the cooler temps, I started decorating the house for the holidays.  Robby and I put up a 2nd tree in the formal living room for us to have and start our own traditions.

Before we decorated.

Before we decorated.

Our grandmother has many, many, many Dept. 56 Snow Village houses!  This year they were all set up, including a water feature!   With a timer put on it, the lights glow each night and add to the Christmas merriment.

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Daddy Jim and My Naynie’s tree is in the living room, where it always is, and has presents patiently awaiting to the family on Christmas Eve.

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The fireplace might be one of my biggest and proudest accomplishments this year!

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I found lots of Christmas dishes and tea cups!  I LOVE festive dishes!   So the table is set for our Christmas Eve meal of tamales and chili.  I can’t wait!

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The front door has some pretty things hung to welcome our guests in.  We tried to put up Christmas lights, but it didn’t happen this year. Maybe next year.

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In the entry way there’s a count-down-to-Christmas picture and hanging ornaments.  I love that this little lamp is on a timer and has a soft glow of light when we get home each night.

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AND…..mistletoe!   This pretty crystal and mistletoe are hanging in the entry way, so I can get a kiss each day with the hubby!

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There are a few of our decorations for this year.  Who knows where we will be this time next year?!?!  Or what type of decorations we will have up and around our home.

Merry Christmas!

WE’RE DONE!! AdvoCare Cleanse – Day #10

LAST DAY OF THE CLEANSE!!   YAY!!!

We couldn’t be happier about eating food that’s been on the “no-no” list!  Though we’ve seen some great results already, we are craving, in the most passionate sense of the word, chips and salsa!!  (It’s a Texas thing.  Chips and salsa can be served as an appetizer for just about any meal.  If chips and salsa were handed to me before….ummm, let’s say a sushi dinner, I wouldn’t be mad about it at all!)   Not sure where we’re going for dinner tomorrow night, but lunch tomorrow will be Mexican food for Robby (Garcia’s to be specific, like he referred to on Day #9 post.  He just loves those burritos!)     For Friday dinner, we’re grilling out steaks with the family.   Hip-hip-hooooraaaayyy!!

How did the last day go, you ask?  Great question.  I’m starting to see a pattern over the past 10 days.  Robby and I stay up way too late at night, sleep past our alarms, rush to get ready and fix breakfast and lunch, get to work late (and in a crabby mood because I’m late), down my breakfast shake, barely have time for lunch because I’m running errands, snack on mixed nuts or fruit while I drive to after-school tutoring, race to the grocery store after tutoring, race home to get dinner going, eat, finally sit down and relax (this is usually around 8 or 8:30pm) and then the cycle starts over.

So for the last day, it was pretty much as normal as the last 9 days.  EXCEPT for dinner, I’m not cooking!   We’re going to do left overs and clean out the fridge.  I might even throw together a frittata if I get the energy.

But tonight, we focus our energy on other things.  My goal is to get the Christmas present room (AKA – guest bedroom) under control and organized.  I’ve just been laying out gifts when I purchase them, and now there are gift bags, boxes, presents, and more all over the place.  Just a mess!

Lessons learned:

  • What amazes me is that, yes – I’m hungry.  However, food isn’t my focus.  At 6:00pm tonight I was starving, so I had a handful of nuts and drank some hot tea when I got home.  And then, I was fine.  Dinner sounds good, but my belly isn’t ravished.  The cleanse has helped me focus on other things besides food.  If all we do is live from one meal to the next, it’s no wonder that 1/3 of our country is obese.  And it’s easy!  There are fast food places everywhere!
  • It’s all about convenience, right?  Yes, McDonald’s is so easy to pull into the drive-through and order.  So plan for it!  I always had a piece of fruit with me, extra water in the car, and a plastic baggie of mixed nuts in my purse.  If I get hungry, I have something already with me and it’s convenient.
  • While on the cleanse I had to focus my mind on other things besides food.  Some days were easier than others.  Oh, the smell of fresh tortillas while grocery shopping at HEB!   It smelled so good!  The trick= make a plan and stick to it!   Before you start the cleanse, map our your meals for the 10 days.  Vary your cuisines (fish one day, veggies the next, then chicken) so you don’t get burnt out.  And when you pass by a taco stand, Sonic, Chick-fil-a or ______ (you fill in the blank) you can remember what you are making next and look towards that.  Stay strong!
  • It’s really a mentality change.  When you get down to the heart of the issue, you have to determine if your will power is stronger than your stomach.  It crossed my mind many times during the cleanse that if I give in to my stomach, I show just how weak my will really is.  And, truthfully, I can’t do this on my own.  I am a weak person when it comes to food.  I enjoy it so much!  I love to taste and try it all.  So to pull back and lessen my portion sizes and shrink down the options of what I can have was very challenging.

So, there you go.  10 days over.  Challenge…..Challenge Accomplished.

Advocare Cleanse – Day #9 – View from the other side

Guest Post by Robby

Howdy all,

So my lovely wife has asked me to regale you with the tales of what this cleanse has meant to me. Seeing as she is my lovely wife, I was more than happy to oblige.

First off, you might be asking yourself how Alison convinced me to partake in this 10 Day Advocare Cleanse. Well to find the answer we need to go back to the height of football season. On one of our weekends down in College Station I might have over-indulged myself on frosty libations and BBQ which led to a not too pleasant drive home on the Sunday after the football game. During one of these drives, Past Robby (Yes that is what I refer to him as) made the comment to Past Alison that his body hated him and that he was a glutton for punishment. Past Alison responded by saying, “What are you going to do about it?” This is when Past Robby made the statement that Present Robby hates him for; “Babe, why don’t we try and do the Advocare 10 Day Cleanse again in between the regular season and the bowl game?” Alison was all too happy to agree.

So last Monday after enjoying a weekend of whiskey, Boiling Pot, and steak, I reluctantly started the cleanse with my beautiful bride. The first day was rough. I think for me, it’s not that I want to eat unhealthy, it’s the realization that I can’t eat what I want. I like to eat red meat, cheese, and bread. Three things that are strictly forbidden on the Cleanse. Also being from West Texas, Tex-Mex is a staple in most everyone’s diet. Another cuisine that is not allowed on the Cleanse. So for me the not being able to eat what I want has been the hardest part. Although it has been easier these past few days.

My hat goes off to my wonderful wife who has done her absolute best to keep the meals tasty and varied. I’m sure y’all have seen the different dinners we had the past 9 days and to be honest save for 1 or 2, I wouldn’t be opposed to eating them again. (Sidenote: To all you single guys out there, find a girl that can cook. It is so worth it.) Tonight’s meal was a definite keeper. We (and I say “we” very loosely as my wife did the majority of the cooking. She calls me her sous chef which I think is a fancy way of saying someone who cuts and dices the veggies and washes the dishes but actually does very little with the cooking of the meal) had a baked salmon with a lemon garnish, black bean quinoa (had no idea what this was before we started. I’ll give it a ‘B’ as something I’d eat outside of the cleanse), baked asparagus, and baked brussel sprouts. I’ve found that I quite enjoy brussel sprouts which is a complete 180 from what I thought of them less than a year ago. Until recently, I’d always had a stigma against them. However, they are quickly becoming one of my favorite vegetables. I’m talking right up there with asparagus and broccoli.

So like I said, Alison has been great at mixing up the food we eat so that we don’t get tired of certain things. Lunch has been somewhat of a chore becuase there are only so many things you can stuff in a lunch box. I’ve eaten turkey sandwiches, tuna salad, and fish tacos. The constants have been some kind of fruit salad and vegetable medley.

I’m not going to miss my lunches once the cleanse is over. In fact, I’ve already planned my lunch for Thursday. I’ll be eating at my favorite burrito place, Garcia’s. Garcia’s is a literal hole in the wall joint near downtown Midland that serves homemade burritos that on good days will make your eyes water from the spice. I can’t get enough of it though. I’ve been craving it since last Monday when we started the Cleanse.

All in all, I’m glad that Past Robby made the foolish mistake of offering to do a cleanse. I know that Future Robby appreciates it and honestly, Present Robby has enjoyed “helping” his wife cook meals that are both healthy and tasty.

Till next time,

Robby

BTHO OU!

AdvoCare Cleanse – Day #8

Almost finished!  We’re very ready to be done with the cleanse.  For some reason, as we drove to church last night, we began to talk about the food that we just want a taste of.  We’ve had the strangest cravings along the way for things that we don’t even eat but maybe once a year.  (For example, I began to crave strawberry pop-tarts with frosting while watching The Nut Cracker with friends on Saturday night.  What?!?!   Where did that come from?  I don’t think I’ve bought pop-tarts since I lived in the dorms at college.)

Breakfast – back to the fiber shake, along with probiotics and a meal replacement shake.  It’s become the normal now, and I sort of enjoy it.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I still miss my morning cup of coffee.  It’s one of the 1st things I will do off of the cleanse!   but I’ve grown quite fond of my caffeine free hot tea.

Tonight for dinner we made a stir-fry with all of the fresh veggies from Bountiful Baskets.  This is all the wonderful food we got last weekend.   We used half of it if not for dinner for snacks and breakfast today.  So good!

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stir-fry dinner

stir-fry dinner

 

On another note, Robby shaved his beard this weekend!  WOOHOOO!  I am not a fan of the facial hair on my husband, never have been.  When I snuggle up to him with my head on his shoulder, his whiskers scratch my face and my hair gets caught in it.  Eeewwwwee!   I adore his clean shaven face.   Here are the before and after pictures:

Before, this is my husband....Grizzly Adams.

Before, this is my husband….Grizzly Adams.

After!

After!

And so we wind down night #8 and get ready for day #9.  Almost there…….

AdvoCare Cleanse – Day #7

Day 7 started with sleep.  Lots of amazing sleep!   We didn’t get out of bed till 11:00am, and started our probiotics and meal shakes.  For lunch I combined leafy greens with ground turkey and spanish rice, topped with salsa, for an appetizing salad.  Enjoy making something new from your left overs!  Lots of new and delicious meals can be made with just a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

For dinner we had some soup to warm us up on a chilly night!  I found this recipe from the blog “Life Is A Run”.   Ingredients: 4-6 cups low sodium organic chicken stock, 1lb chicken breast, 1 can organic gazpacho beans, 1 can organic corn, 2 tomatoes diced, one small white onion, 2 green bell peppers chopped, cilantro, 1 jalapeño chopped, juice of 1 lime, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes.  I combined everything in the crock pot and set it on  high for 3 hours (or low for 5-6 hours.

Almost done!!  We’re looking forward to a steak dinner after this cleanse and going to a concert with friends.   In the mean time, Robby’s already dropped some weight and is trimming up.  Lucky!

One year ago….

A year ago, on December 9th, 2011, Robby asked me to marry him.  It’s been such a fast year full of dreaming, planning, traveling, LOTS of skype and phone calls during engagement, love, tears, and laughter!   I can’t believe that I love Robby more today then one year ago, and I’m sure my love, respect, and appreciation for him will continue to grow as we grow older together.

The proposal

The proposal

Engaged and so happy!

Engaged and so happy!

Oh my!  Look at that ring!

Oh my! Look at that ring!