Chronicles of Home – Days 4 & 5

Hello friends!

I decided to lump the past two days together, since I’d rather hold off and do one longer post than two dinky ones ūüôā Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, I’m just enjoying spending time hanging out around the house, and with my family.

Day 4: Friday 11/27 (Black Friday)

Yesterday started out as just lounging around the house, and I got to spend lots of time with my niece. That girl has no limit on her energy, and since her vocabulary is slowly expanding, she is a great source of entertainment. Lots of playtime, Disney Jr., and running laps around the house in hot pursuit of her best friend, Simon, the dachshund.

Later that afternoon, I met up with two of my best friends from college who¬†I hadn’t seen in far too long. One had just bought and moved into a new house with her fianc√©, and I was so excited to get a tour! The three of us caught up over a bottle of wine, and laughed at how “grown-up” our conversations have become. The topics of our college days didn’t ¬†usually include cleaning and decorating tips… I feel blessed to know that I will always have these girls to fall back on, no matter the distance that separates us. We always pick up where we left off ūüôā

Next, I went¬†back to my parent’s house to pick up my mom, and¬†we decided to check out the Black Friday situation at the closest mall. My little sister was also in the middle of her shift there, so it was also a way for us to make sure she hadn’t been swamped by baby-toting mommas looking for a steal on jeggings for infants. Luckily, she was alive, and the store was in pretty good shape. We wandered around for a couple hours, before taking advantage of the ‘Buy 3, Get 3 Free’ sale on candles at B&BW…whoops! At least I should be set for at least a couple months…

Day 5: Saturday 11/28

This morning, we got a relatively early start, and bundled up to head to the same Boy Scouts tree lot that we go to every year in the search for the perfect tree. There were a few contenders, but after checking out all our options, we decided on a good one. I’ll be sure to share pictures tomorrow as we start decorating! It was such a cold day, so by the time the tree was strapped securely to the top of the car, I was ready to get home.

As soon as the tree was situated in the base, my mom and I bundled back up to do a little more holiday shopping. First stop, Hobby Lobby. We both have a love-hate relationship with HL, or as we affectionately call it, Snobby Lobby. I could spend hours wandering through aisles and aisles of decorations, craft projects, and oddities, but that check out line (especially on the Saturday after Thanksgiving) is so hit and miss. The wait didn’t take nearly as long as I dreaded it would, but every register had lines of at least 5 people with their overflowing blue carts. We made some good finds though, and I now have all of my gift-wrapping supplies, along with a couple other items!

Next, we went¬†next door to the mall, and after a bite to eat, did a little Christmas gift shopping. I currently have two of the eight people I need to shop for checked off my to-do list, and for the end of November, I’d say that’s a good start! As much fun as it is to open gifts from other people, I love the feeling of finding the perfect thing¬†for the ones¬†I care about even more. The last stop before heading home for dinner, was a¬†much needed mani/pedi appointment. I’ve been loving everything marsala (Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year) so I went with OPI’s We’ll Always Have Paris – a vampy plum – on my toes, and OPI’s Got the Blues for Red – a blue-toned red shade – on my fingers. Love both colors for the fall to winter transition!

Then, it was home to catch the second half of the Iowa State basketball game (Go Cyclones!), while I made my chili for my family’s¬†dinner. I did throw in a can of drained/rinsed red beans this time though, to add a little more substance. ¬†It turned out awesome after tweaking the amount of spices I added in since the rest of the ratios were a little off. The perfect meal to end a cold day!

Now, I’m off to bed! Tomorrow morning we’re breaking out the Christmas decorations, and making a trip downtown to check out the Festival of Trees and Lights, a charity event hosted by Blank Children’s Hospital. It’s been quite a few years since I last went, but it’s a fun way to kick off the Christmas season, and for a great cause!

Did you do any Black Friday shopping this year?

Ta ta for now!

The Ginger Wife

Advertisements

Chronicles of Home – Day 3

Hello friends!

Happy Thanksgiving! I know I’m a little late since this won’t be posted until everyone has done the dishes, snuck a second piece of pie, and sat around in a carb-induced stupor before hoisting their still stuffed tummies¬†into bed, but I am thankful all the same! I am so very thankful for my amazing husband, family, in-laws, and friends all over the country. I know that I live a truly blessed life, and could list thousands upon thousands of things and people I am thankful for. Remembering this every day of the year, rather than just one Thursday in November, is so important. I am blessed.

Day Three: Thursday 11/26 (Thanksgiving Day)

Let me start by saying that, while I set an alarm for 9:00, I fully intended (and expected based on routine) to be up around 7:00. I think I opened my eyes momentarily around that time, but I didn’t¬†actually wake up until 8:50(!!!). This never happens! I love sleep as much as the next person, but I am just bad at sleeping in. I’ve always been an early riser, but it has definitely become more of a habit since meeting my husband. What makes it funny, is that my younger sister and I are totally opposite here. She is the¬†queen of sleeping in. Although, her nursing school schedule has put a bit of a damper on that.

Also, I have a thing about wearing either earth or jewel tones for Thanksgiving. It is just what I’m drawn to when picking out an outfit for the holiday. Warm, cozy clothes that leave a little room for carbs…so I went with my favorite pair of jeggings and a loose-fitting merlot sweater, brown boots, and even curled my hair despite the cold drizzle outside. I usually love a rainy day,¬†but between the grey sky, brown grass, and bare trees, rainy fall days can be downright depressing.

We packed up the pies we made the night before, and made the short drive across town to Granny’s house around noon. Everyone got caught up on what’s new in each other’s lives, and munched on hors d’oeuvres while the turkey was being carved. All 24 pounds of that bird! Go big or go home, right? And as soon as it was announced that it was okay to start making our plates, there was a mad dash to the food line. I try to get a little of everything, minus the cranberries (not my thing).
image2 (3)

image1 (8)

Thanksgiving food is never a disappointment. It is one of the few days out of the year where I just don’t feel bad about indulging a little in those homestyle comfort foods. Our usual Turkey Day layout includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, cheesy corn, cole slaw, green bean casserole, cranberries, and monkey bread.¬†Yum!

The rest of the day consisted of lounging around, just talking and laughing with family. Not much more you could ask for. My heart was a little sad that I couldn’t spend the holiday with my husband, but we got in a quick FaceTime session so he could see our niece, who looked stinking adorable in her little Thanksgiving dress! She loves to try feeding her uncle through the phone, which is the cutest thing to watch,¬†even if it¬†means macaroni and cheese smears on the screen.

Tomorrow, we’re getting a relatively early start to the day. It is a bit of a tradition to go pick out the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, so we’re going to take care of that first thing. With the nonstop cold drizzle turning into freezing rain and a little snow, it will be interesting to see if the trees all have an ice coating on them in the morning! I just love how my parents’ house looks once it is all decorated for Christmas. The house seems even more cozy and inviting than ever. Pictures to come in a future post!

What are you most thankful for this year?

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, no matter where or how you spent it – ta ta for now!

The Ginger Wife

Chronicles of Home – Day 1

Hello friends!

I am officially back in my hometown¬†for the first holiday of the “holiday season” – Thanksgiving! I love spending time with my family, in the house I grew up in, catching up and creating new memories. The next few posts from my time here in Iowa will be more¬†for me, so I can look back at the memories made when I’m missing my family. I hope you still enjoy reading what I was up to this week, but I understand if this type of post just isn’t your thing ūüôā

Day One: Tuesday 11/24

This morning, I finished packing my bags with sweaters galore (seriously, cold weather clothing takes up¬†so much more space in my travel bags than summer clothes..), got BBQ ribs going in the slow cooker for husband, got myself ready, and loaded up the car. It is a six hour drive from our house to my hometown, and I wasn’t looking forward to having to do it without my husband’s company. He, unfortunately, was unable to take leave due to his crazy schedule, but I’m looking forward to him being able to travel with me for Christmas.

I grabbed a huge¬†caramel apple spice and a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks as fuel for the road, and off I went! I’m loving listening to audiobooks on my long drives, a habit I got into when I had a 40 minute commute to work back when we lived in Kansas City. I only had about an hour or so left in the book I’d been listening to (Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica – a psychological thriller that was¬†so so so¬†good), but it got me through what my mom refers to as the ‘Space Mountain part of the drive’ aka the winding hills of the Ozarks. Once I made it a little farther north in Missouri, it was a pretty straight shot through miles and miles of farmland, but there were ¬†a couple of really odd turns the GPS had me make…Good thing we can always trust technology! Right?

About 2 hours in, I finished the first audiobook, and¬†luckily had another ready to go. One thing I love about the OverDrive app that I checkout audiobooks on is that once the books are downloaded, the app doesn’t flush a year’s worth of data down the toilet while in use ūüôā¬†Perfect for road trips, as long as you take the time to download books when you have a wireless connection. Next on my digital bookshelf was¬†The Good Girls¬†by Sara Shepard, the second book in a series called¬†The Perfectionists. Very much a YA book, but entertaining enough!

I won’t say the drive seemed to go by quickly, because that would be a lie, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I made it into town before the sun had set, and stopped at the dance studio where my mom works to say hello to her before heading to the house. Once at home, I hung out with my younger sister, and the family dog, Simon, for a while before my dad got home to make us a taco dinner. Mom walked in shortly after, and we enjoyed a yummy dinner. It was so nice to be out of the car, and in the comfort of my childhood home.

My mom, little sister, and I rounded out the night with a trip to the grocery store up the street to pick up snacks and supplies for my visit, including everything we would need for pie baking tomorrow! I’ll get more into detail on that tomorrow evening after a full day of Thanksgiving feast prep.

I cannot wait to enjoy my first full day at home tomorrow. My mom and I are heading up to my older sister and brother-in-law’s house to hang out with my 20-month old niece, who is nothing but pure entertainment. We’re bringing her down to my grandma’s house for the annual food prep marathon – a tradition where¬†my sisters, two cousins, and I spend the day tearing bread for stuffing, baking¬†monkey bread, and helping my grandma with any other tasks she has for us. I haven’t always been able to go to food prep day, so I’m always so happy when I’m able to ūüôā

That’s all for today! I desperately need to get to bed.¬†I’m getting up in about 5 hours to start the day nice and early! Here’s to probably needing a nap at some point tomorrow…

Are you doing any traveling for Thanksgiving, or are you sticking close to home?

Ta ta for now,

The Ginger Wife

 

Chronicles of Home – Day 2

Hello friends!

Day Two: Wednesday 11/25

Today was the first full day of my Thanksgiving visit to my hometown, and it did not disappoint. I got an early start this morning around 5:00 getting ready to go up to see my niece with my mom for a few hours while my older sister had one last day of teaching her kinders before her own break started.¬†It seems like my niece¬†has grown so much since the last time I saw her, and she is just the smartest little nugget I’ve ever met! Her vocabulary is expanding, and it’s hilarious to hear her be able to put her thoughts into “words”. She loves to take you by the hand to lead you around the house, and provides endless entertainment.

Around 9:45, we hopped back in the car and made the drive to Granny’s house for the annual grandkids/cousins Thanksgiving food prep extravaganza! This is something we’ve done for as long as I can remember, and it’s funny to think about how our assigned “jobs” have changed as we get older. Every year we tear bread for stuffing, cut up biscuits and roll them in cinnamon and sugar for monkey bread, and smash saltine crackers for cheesy corn casserole. This doesn’t take nearly as long as it did back when we were younger, and now that my younger sister and I are in our 20s, we’ve even graduated to tasks such as making the brown sugar/butter glaze for the monkey bread, stirring up green bean casserole ingredients, and a little “heavy” lifting bringing folding chairs and tables up from the basement.

This day-before-Thanksgiving tradition is such a great way to spend quality time with family, and get caught up. I still find it hard to believe that two of the cousins who join us are getting so old! I still picture them as little kids, which I’m sure they would hate to know! Other than the bonus of extra family time, I love that we’re able to help our grandma check a few things off of her crazy to-do list for the holidays. My grandparents¬†always host such memorable¬†family gatherings. I’m so looking forward to spending the day tomorrow eating, chatting, eating seconds, playing games, & saving a little room for pie. ūüôā

pies.jpg

I got to lounge around for a few hours in the afternoon, and¬†later on, my dad grilled up burgers for dinner. The last item on the day’s agenda was pie duty. I made a quick and easy cookies ‘n’ cream pie, and provided moral support for my mom while she whipped up two pumpkin pies, a custard pie, and a banana cream pie. There is nothing better than the smell of pumpkin pie baking in the oven. Except maybe the conglomeration of scents that is Thanksgiving Day at Granny & Boo-Boo’s house. *drool*

Pre-feast fasting begins¬†now. What’s on your menu for tomorrow?

Ta ta for now!

The Ginger Wife

What’s Cookin? – November

Hello friends!

I thought it would be fun to create a post about what I make for dinners each night during the week, and share any new recipes I tried that turned out awesome! I probably won’t do this every week, but from time to time.

This week (November 16-22), I tried out a couple new recipes that were big hits with my husband. Here’s what the week’s menu included:

foodm-w

  • Monday, 11/16 – Baked Pretzel Chicken, Tuscan Seasoned Whole-Wheat Pasta, & Baked Potatoes
    • For the pasta: cook & drain the noodles according to package, drizzle in olive oil, tuscan seasonings, and garlic salt
  • Tuesday, 11/17 –¬†Slow Cooker Beef Stew found¬†here!
  • Wednesday 11/18 – Spicy Sweet Potato Fries, & Slow Cooker Ribs found¬†here!
  • Thursday, 11/19 – Leftovers ūüôā

frisatsunfood.jpg

  • Friday, 11/20 –¬†Baked Chicken & Garlic Roasted Baby Carrots found¬†here!
  • Saturday, 11/21 -Slow Cooker Beanless¬†Quinoa ¬†Chili found here! (my recipe)
  • Sunday, 11/22 – Chicken Noodle Soup (Bear Creek)
    • Follow package directions, and I added in 1 lb of browned/drained ground chicken

It has been an interesting week at our house. I wanted to focus on providing some warm, comforting meals for my husband. He worked a total of 60 hours Monday-Thursday, and then rounded out his work-week with two 16-hour days of field training in some cold weather, including our first dusting of snow for the season Saturday morning!

Enjoy the recipes, and let me know if you try any of them out – ta ta for now!

The Ginger Wife

Slow Cooker Beanless Quinoa Chili

Hello friends!

My husband – I really need to come up with a good nickname for him – left for another loooong day of field training around 3:00 this morning, which means I couldn’t sleep much past 3:45. I did curl up on the couch to watch a little¬†Netflix, and caught a nap around 6:45. Whoop, whoop!

When I woke up a¬†bit later, I looked outside to see we were getting our first dusting of snow for the season here in our little piece of Missouri!¬†Most of the flakes melted as they hit the grass, which was wet from overnight rain, but it made for some nice scenery¬†while I sipped my coffee this morning. I’ve switched over to drinking decaf in an attempt to cut back on my caffeine intake (which was getting a little ridiculous), so I’m running purely on the placebo effect of a warm mug of coffee.

Snow + wind + a husband who will be very cold getting home tonight = the perfect combination for a chili dinner!

Chili is my go-to during the fall and winter. It just warms you up from the inside, and you can customize it to fit your family’s taste. In our house, I always keep chili fixins in the cupboard, and have come up with what our favorite combination of ingredients is. So here is my recipe for Slow Cooker Quinoa Chili – this recipe makes a thick chili packed with protein, and you can pick and choose what you want to throw in! We don’t do beans in our chili, but if you’re looking for more of a classic dish, try replacing the quinoa with them, or do both and up the amount of tomato sauce.image1 (4) copy

Ingredients –¬†

  • 1 lb ground meat of your choice (I used 97% fat free beef today, but it tastes great with ground turkey or chicken too!)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 ¬† 15oz can of corn, drained
  • 1 ¬† 14oz can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 ¬† 29oz can of tomato sauce (add more for soupier chili)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions –

  1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, and drain. Dump into lightly greased (I use olive oil cooking spray) slow cooker.
  2. Cook quinoa in a medium sauce pan according to package directions. Add to slow cooker.
  3. Add corn, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce to slow cooker and stir to combine with browned meat and cooked quinoa.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. Stir into slow cooker until combined.
  5. Set slow cooker to low for 4 hours, or until heated through.¬†I sometimes just set mine on ‘warm’ until I’m ready to serve the chili.

Serve topped with shredded cheese, diced onion, soup crackers, or whatever your stomach is calling for!

image1 (4)

I can’t wait to have a big bowl of this later on today! But first, I need to bundle up and¬†drag my rear-end to the gym…plus I want to get a start on Christmas decorating! I’ll be in Iowa over Thanksgiving, and want to get it taken care of before traveling ūüôā

What are your favorite chilly day recipes? Get it…chilly? chili? ūüėČ

Ta ta for now!

The Ginger Wife

 

 

Bits & Pieces – Fall Edition

Hello friends!

I’m creating a¬†series of posts that I’ll be calling ‘Bits & Pieces’ because it summarizes how slightly random the content will be! From time to time, I’ll do a post like this when I¬†just have some updates and tidbits I’d like to share. Today, I’m giving you a look at some of my fall favorites, a few gorgeous art prints from a small business, and a little personal life update!

Ginger Wife’s Life

If you’re interested in what little old me has been up to lately, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve been getting my daily/weekly routine down for stuff around the house, while my husband works his tail off with his new unit. We’re definitely getting used to our¬†surroundings, and even got to show them and the new house to my parents and little sister who came down from Iowa a couple weekends ago.

I drove them around post, and we even threw together what my husband and I refer to as an “instant” Thanksgiving supper (primarily made up of pre-made or easy-to-make recipes). We did this just in case he was unable to make the trip to my hometown for the actual holiday due to his crazy schedule. Turns out, it was a good thing, because he will not be joining me on the six-hour drive north…*cue teary eyes* He will get by¬†though. I plan on leaving some easy slow cooker and re-heatable meals in the fridge for him to survive on ūüėČ

Next week, I’ll make that drive home to spend about a week with my side of the family. I’m so so looking forward to this, because it has been about two months since my last trip to Iowa! That’s¬†crazy for me, considering how much of a homebody I am. In an upcoming post, I’ll share some of my family’s Thanksgiving traditions. I’ve come to realize how much more these¬†mean to me when I’m unable to see everyone on a whim.

Fall Favorites

Fall is¬†probably my favorite season, with winter a close second. Cooler temperatures in the later part of the season means I can pull out those big, cozy, knit sweaters, and my ever-growing collection of fleece-lined leggings comes out of storage. Riding boots in all different colors, and red cups, however controversial *gasp*, at Starbucks means the holidays are just around the corner. Here are a few more favorites I’ve been coveting this fall – some new; some tried-and-true!

  1. Fall Nails – I love these warm colors on my nails in the fall! I’ve especially been loving the Covergirl Outlast Polishes. They last pretty well, and are some of the cheapest polishes I’ve found! *Top Row – Covergirl¬†Wine To Five, elf¬†Garnet, China Glaze¬†Soft Sienna Silks *Bottom Row – Covergirl¬†Being Blonde, Covergirl¬†Smokey Taupe, elf¬†Nudeimage1 (3) copy
  2. Candles – If I haven’t already made this clear, I have a candle obsession. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons for candles, because of the warm, delicious scents that just make my house feel so homey and cozy! Right now I’m burning a candied pecan¬†candle from Walmart, but my new, absolute favorite is this ‘Radiant Red Maple’ candle from Bath & Body Works. It smells just like caramel apples, and seriously makes my mouth water.image3 (1) copy 2
  3. Cozy Sippin’ – I usually consume as much caffeine as possible throughout the day, but lately I’ve been trying to cut¬†way back, and this has lead me to trying to find some alternatives outside of just decaf coffee. I decided to try out the Caramel Apple Spice drink at Starbucks a couple weeks ago, and it is, with a doubt, my new favorite cold-weather drink! I order it made with sugar-free¬†cinnamon dolce syrup and no whipped cream to take the sugar level down a little, too. So yummy if you’re a hot apple cider fan! I’ve enjoyed sipping on a cup of it while working on blogs. It was perfect for the cold, rainy days we had earlier this week.¬†Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.26.58 PM

 

Home, James Artwork

One of my favorite online shopping websites is a page called GroopDealz (also known as Eleventh Avenue…I don’t know what’s going on there). Basically, small businesses and boutiques from all over the country can sell their merchandise at¬†majorly discounted prices. I’ve scored so many awesome clothing pieces, gifts for family members,¬†and home decor items since I first checked out the site.

I’d seen art prints listed on the site before, but when I saw these, I could not resist! The first three prints below I purchased when we first moved into our new house, and the last two below those¬†will go up after Thanksgiving, when I’m ready to do my Christmas decorating. How gorgeous are they? I’m especially obsessed with the ‘Oh deer’ print!

All five prints below are from an Etsy shop called Home, James! The artist, Jo Moulton, is incredibly talented.¬†Her pieces can add a unique touch to your home. I have the kitchen utensil print in the kitchen, and the fall prints hanging in my gallery wall in the living room. I’ll replace them with the Christmas prints when it’s time. Eventually, I’d love to get them into some fancier frames, but these inexpensive pop-out frames will do¬†for the time being.

At the time I post this blog, I know there are some Home, James! prints currently listed on GroopDealz! Go get you some!

image1 (4)image2 (1) copy 3

Adorable, right?

What is the fall weather like lately in your neck of the woods?  Happy Fall, friends Рta ta for now!

The Ginger Wife ♥