Tuesday, December 16, 2014

French Vanilla Hot Chocolate

Leading up to Christmas it's always a rush to finish up all of my shopping.

I try to get a head start but always end up behind. One thing I have to save time for is a few DIY gifts.

Last year I made everyone this mason jar granola  But this year I decided to go a little sweeter with homemade Hot Chocolate in a mason jar 

  • 6 cups Nonfat Dry Powdered Milk
  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 8 oz. French Vanilla Flavor Non-Dairy Powdered Coffee Creamer
  • 2 cups Nesquick
  • One 6 oz. box Instant French Vanilla Pudding Mix
    Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and divide into jars.

    A simple gift tag with a few instructions on the back finish it up. 
And a few stickers to add some more holiday cheer! 
There's nothing like a mug of hot chocolate to warm your heart this holiday season! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sweet Strangers

Sometimes God brings you just what you need...this week that was a stranger named Carol. 

On Wednesday I took my husband to the ER in excruciating pain. We got there around 1:30 and for the next 4 hours he was in the worst pain of his life and nothing the doctors or nurses did could help. The CT scan didn't show anything wrong.  Finally at around 6pm the surgeon came and said "We don't know what's going on but his pain level is so high we know it's something. He needs exploratory surgery."  They explained they would do a Laparoscopy and if that didn't show anything they would open him up and keep searching.  She told me they didn't know what they would find or how long it would be.   

I was alone, scared and crying in the waiting room when a woman said, "You're not sitting by yourself over there...you come sit with us."   Carol and her brother sat and talked with me until the doctors came and told me the surgery went fine and he would be ok. 

He had an adhesion on his small intestine that was wrapping itself around his bowel.  If we had waiting until the morning to do the surgery, the bowel would have died.

I have never been so scared before.   My husband's parents were on their way from North Carolina but in the meantime I would have sat there alone if had not been for Carol- my Christmas angel. 

As a small thank you I met up with Carol today and brought her some of my crockpot candy.  
1 16oz jar of unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1 16oz  jar of salted dry roasted peanuts
1 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 12 oz bag of Reese's peanut butter chips
1lb package of white chocolate candy bark.

Layer the ingredients in the crock pot starting with the nuts and finishing with the white chocolate.  Cook on low for an hour and then stir.  Let cook for about another hour before scooping onto either parchment paper or into muffin liners.

I wanted something cute to put the treats in so I upcycled a container of nuts.  
I wrapped some Christmas paper around it and it was the perfect size

 I can never thank Carol enough.  Her small act of kindness meant so much to me!

You never know what each day is going to bring.  My husband said when he woke up that morning he was just thinking about going to work- not that he would end up in the worst pain of his life.

I didn't know I would be alone and scared when a stranger would step in and comfort me...but I'm so grateful she did.

My husband is home now.  He's in some pain from his incision sites but no where near what he went through Tuesday!  We are both just so grateful that the doctors knew to go in to look even if they didn't know what to look for.  I believe God lead them there just like he led Carol to me that night. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ugly Christmas Sweater DIY project

Christmas is almost here!! 

That time of year that I spend WAY too much time on Pinterest finding ideas for Christmas that I don't have enough time to make.  

This weekend I looked for a quick project that I could actually finish. I already had some Christmas sweater remnants from my DIY leg warmers project  so I decided to make something out of the rest of it.

This is what I came up with

I took the sweater and wrapped it around an 8x10 canvas.  I still had more sweater parts left so I took a trip to Goodwill where I found the vase. 

I found another white Christmas sweater and couldn't resist having a pair.

One thing I am NOT crafty with...ribbons.  So don't look close- those are just plain ol plastic bows stuck on top.  Maybe next Christmas I'll tackle making my own bows.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hearty White Bean Vegetable Soup

This weekend was a whirlwind!  I took a trip to Memphis to visit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  

It was an inspiring trip and I'm never ceased to be amazed at what they do there! We toured the research lab and spoke to a doctor who is working on finding links between ALS and childhood cancer using fruit flies!  When we asked "why fruit flies?"  She said that we share the same basic DNA. Of course, our DNA differed enough though to give us hands and them wings to fly.  I feel a little gypped.

It is a truly wonderful place though.  Aside from the research being done and the live saving treatments, they work hard to make every child there feel "normal."  From the bright colorful murals on the wall, to the "make your cupcake station" in the cafeteria, to holding proms and graduations they treat EVERY need.

From St. Jude I headed home and geared up for the VBSPCA Walk for the Animals where I met "Socks" a 12 year old Pomeranian who was surrendered to the shelter after her elderly owner could no longer care for her. She has been through a lot...including loosing an eye...but she is the sweetest most loving dog! I could have held her all day!  Learn more about Sox here

A photo posted by Stephanie Taylor (@973stephanie) on

It was an emotionally fulfilling weekend and by Sunday night I was ready to relax and enjoy some comfort food :) That's where this soup came in...Hearty White Bean Vegetable Soup. 

Easy to prepare and just what I needed!  Here's the recipe

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Laundry Room Fun

Is it just me or did this past Labor Day weekend feel hotter than all of August combined?  My husband and I hibernated all weekend watching Orphan Black.  

I'm not into Sci-Fi or anything scary...basically I'm a wuss...and yet somehow I am now addicted to this show!

I had to take a break at one point though and be productive so I started to organize our laundry room.  Something I don't think has been done since we moved into our house!  I came across this on Pinterest and set out to make my own version

When I told my husband about this project he said "No, it should say Money Laundering"  Clearly he has watched WAY too much Breaking Bad
I've never seen an episode (again, I'm usually a wuss) but I admitted, it was a great idea.  We found a piece of poplar wood at Home Depot for $5.  I fell in love with the green down the front of it.  I planned to upcycle an old jar but I had to splurge on a $4 green mason jar to match.

I felt like it was missing something though...that's where all the pennies I found discarded in the laundry room came in

I lined them all up and started super gluing right at the kitchen table.  BIG mistake.  I ended up getting super glue on the table which took off the veneer in one spot!  UGH!  Any suggestions on how to cover this up?

I am happy with how the project turned out...even if I'll have a permanent reminder of it on my kitchen table.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Adventures in staycations

My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary this year and decided to stay home and enjoy our first ever staycation. We figured we live at the beach, why not enjoy it?!

So we acted like tourists all week and if anyone asked where we were from instead of saying "oh we're local" we decided to be from Alaska :)  Hey- at least it explained the pale skin! 

Our adventure really started with a Dolphin Kayak Tour at the oceanfront.  It's so cool seeing the dolphins swimming all around you

The dolphins probably look even cooler now wearing the sunglasses we lost in the ocean.  On our way back in our kayak caught a wave flipping us over!  The kayak landed on my head knocking me under the water...did I mention I don't know how to swim?!  I've never loved my life jacket more.

Next up...we decided to try out the Adventure Park.  

This look says it all...what did I get myself into???
 It took me about an hour to complete the junior course... the junior one!!!
and when I got to the end there was only one way to go...down.  My husband...being a gentleman...jumped first.  Which we quickly realized meant I was left alone on the platform!   I stood on on top for what felt like another hour trying to get up the nerve to jump.  In reality, it was about 10 minutes.  Finally an eight year old and her Grandma joined me on the platform.  The little girl tried to encourage me to jump but when that didn't work Grandma pushed me off!!!  (Thanks Nana- I needed that!)
We kept it a little more low key the rest of our staycation.  Enjoying a little beach time
and taking our kayak out to Rudees Inlet
We took a tour of the Norfolk harbor
 and watched the sunset over the water

We checked out some old restaurant favs and a few new spots like Charlie's Cafe in Norfolk, Freemason Abbey, Tradewinds and for dessert...Doumar's! 

It was a great week and the best part... 

we don't have to travel far to do it all again :) 

Monday, April 7, 2014

ACM Awards recap

The ACM Awards were last night and Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan were back as hosts!

They had their own Ellen-style selfie moment
revealed who's behind Daft Punk helments...or in this case Daft Bluke
and took a swipe at Britney Spears

 Not all the music was live though

If you noticed Rascal Flatts lip syncing you weren't alone.  They said after the show “After having performed several shows earlier in the week, Gary lost his voice. So, instead of canceling our commitment to do the show, we made a last minute decision to lip-sync. We’ve never done it before, and we’re obviously not very good at it. We look 
forward to singing live again in the very near future!”
There were a ton of cool (and yes live) performances- Faith came out to sing with Tim.  

Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks teamed up.  Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow sang together. Then Shakira went country on a duet with Blake Shelton!

But my favorite moment of the night had to be the George Strait and Miranda Lambert tribute to Merle Haggard!

The big winner of the night was George Strait.
In his acceptance speech he said, "I've always said I have the best fans in the world. I heard this was a fan-voted thing, so I rest my case."

He may have missed seeing Miranda give him a high-five though while walking to the stage.  Hey if you're going to be left hanging by someone, George Strait is King.  

George wasn't the only one who left someone hanging...Twitter blew up with tweets about Miranda leaving Taylor Swift out of her acceptance speech.  Miranda mentioned the oversight backstage saying, “I forgot to say something about Taylor tonight. We all work our asses off, especially Taylor. She’s kind of like her own animal. She’s ridiculous. I was thinking about my friends at home [who] lost a baby, [but] I talked to Taylor and she’s cool"

All forgiven

Justin Moore won New Artist of the Year and on stage got a little choked up

But afterwards he opened up a little bit more with some things he couldn't say on TV...warning some NSFW language ahead!!

I saw a lot of people on facebook saying "but Justin Moore's been around for years. How can he get NEW artist?"  Well he talked about that backstage too saying, 
“I would have taken Female Vocalist had they given it to me. At this point, I really didn’t care what they called it. The trophies are all the same."

The other buzz of the night...how gorgeous Miranda Lambert looked!! And she walked away with 2 awards: Single of the Year and Female Vocalist 
She glammed up and then rocked a simple tshirt and jeans

Plus, how cute are these two together?
She teamed up with another hot country singer, Keith Urban on "We Were Us" this year and they won Vocal Event of the Year and shared this photo of their tattoos! 
Ok let's talk fashion.  Miranda wasn't the only woman who looked amazing last night

No offense to the guys in the Band Perry but all eyes were on Kimberly when they performed.
Cassadeee Pope, Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift wowed on the red carpet
and Kacey Musgraves- hair, makeup and that color...perfect!
Not a bad night for either...she took home the ACM for Album of the Year.

all in all it was a great show!