Monday, December 31, 2012

Spinach Dip

This recipe is foolproof...combine 4 ingredients and let chill. You really can't go wrong! Thank you Jenna for posting this incredibly easy and delicious dip that made an appearance on our House Hunters filming :-)

Ingredients
1 9oz box of chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 Knorr vegetable soup mix
16 oz light sour cream (the more times I make this, I use about 75% of the tub rather than the whole thing)
1 cup regular mayo 

1. Mix all ingredients and stir well
2. Let chill in the fridge for a couple of hours (or overnight) before serving
3. Serve cold with chunks of bread, tortilla chips, veggies, crackers, etc. 


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Friday, December 28, 2012

Highlights

At work yesterday I told someone that our Christmas was really relaxing and he said "then you must have not done it right". What?! The point of this holiday for us is to relax, focus on Jesus' birth, family, and togetherness and this year, that was definitely accomplished. I can't imagine describing my Christmas as stressful...that would be missing the point! Anyway, it was so restful that Jon and I forgot to take a picture together haha. We spent Christmas Eve through the 26th at my parent's house (just 20 min away from us) with my whole family and despite bringing my nice camera, it stayed tucked away in our bedroom the whole time. I caught a few things on Instagram but mostly just feel nostalgic about the special times we shared. 

So here are a few highlights....


  • Two Christmas services with my little brother & little sister (and dad and Jon....mom is still recovering from surgery)



  • Lots of cousin kisses between Ernie and Embry (who just opens her mouth when he licks her...too cute)


  • Embry's first Christmas!!!


  • An awesome Christmas surprise from my parents...the whole family is going on an all inclusive trip this summer!! There is lots to celebrate in 2013


  • One of my favorite gifts was bulldog shaped salt and pepper shakers...Ernie wasn't too impressed


  • If you remember last year, Jon grew a beard all through November and December and shaved it on Christmas night so he decided to make that a tradition. Love the beard but glad it is gone!


  • Hilarious rounds of the game Telestrations...if you haven't played it, buy it now!
  • Really cold weather that brought snow to Dallas...none to Austin but it was below freezing which made it nice to cozy up by the fire
  • Christmas movies... Christmas Vacation for a 3rd time in a week, the Grinch, It's a Wonderful Life
  • Comfy blankets and naps
  • New clothes, pajamas, random home stuff. My brother actually got a certificate to go indoor skydiving at this new place they are building by their house. It seems so cool but I would neeeeever do it!
This weekend will be spent relaxing more at the lakehouse which I couldn't be more excited to do!

Happy New Year, friends.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

I will definitely be posting recaps and pictures from our wonderful Christmas celebration but need time to catch up on real life now that the craziness is over. I hope you all had just as great a holiday!

I decided to make Pioneer Woman's homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and am incredibly glad I did them ahead of time. It was such a fun treat for our family and I even gave some pans away as gifts to friends and coworkers.  I am not going to post the actual recipe because Ree does a great job posting step by step directions and pictures here, but I wanted to share my experience and tips. 


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My tips/suggestions:
  • Definitely make ahead of time! I knew they were going to be time consuming but didn't realize the intensity. I recommend making them on a day you plan on spending at home with other things to do because you complete a few steps, let sit for an hour, do a few more steps, let rise a few hours. Be patient (I am proud of myself because I am NOT patient).
  • The recipe makes a LOT. Ree made 8 circular pans but mine made 6...plan on giving some away as gifts or feeding a big crowd. I've seen people post about halving this recipe, so if you want less, google. 
  • Buy disposable circular pans to make it easier. I bought mine 3 for a $1 at the Dollar Tree. The tops are white so you can decorate/write on them too.
  • It gets VERY messy...just be aware that you will most likely use an entire roll of paper towels cleaning up
  • I am not a fan of coffee flavoring so I substituted more milk instead of brewed coffee in the frosting
  • I could NOT find maple flavoring anywhere so I used half the amount suggested of vanilla flavoring (since it is stronger, you don't need as much)
  • My cinnamon rolls were all different sizes and yours will probably be too. Some of the pans held just a few huge rolls and some had tons of little ones. They were still delicious!
  • I used a lot less butter than suggested when making the cinnamon filling before rolling the dough up. Butter was literally oozing out the sides onto my counter and I hadn't even used 75% of the butter suggested so there was no way I was going to use more. Just use your best judgement.
  • I baked all my 6 pans at the same time in my double ovens and immediately frosted them upon cooking so the frosting oozed over the hot rolls. I let them sit a bit and actually put them in the freezer. I have read of people freezing them uncooked, cooked without frosting and cooked with frosting and they all turn out great. I am so glad I finished them before freezing because it made Christmas morning so easy! I thawed the night before and popped them in the oven to warm them up.
  • I know it sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but I have been wanting to make these forever and I am so glad I did! It was such a yummy treat (and I will be bringing more to the lake with us this weekend).
  • Ree actually did a whole post with notes on the cinnamon rolls and you can find that here


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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar French Breakfast Muffins


The original recipe was for French breakfast donuts but I wasn't about to go buy a donut pan so I improvised with mini muffin tins and boy were these delicious! One of my favorite breakfasts growing up was toast with butter and cinnamon sugar...mmm I can taste it now. These little muffins are the perfect sweet treat in the morning (okay or in the afternoon or after dinner). I made these when we had family in town and our little cousins loved them too!

Ingredients

Muffins
5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup milk 

Glaze topping
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

  1. Cream together butter and sugar until fully combined.  
  2. Add egg and mix well.
  3. Mix in flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and milk.
  4. Grease mini muffin pans and scoop batter to fill each tin about 3/4 full
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes
  6. Meanwhile melt 3tbsp butter in a shallow dish and stir in the sugar and cinnamon
  7. When muffins are done, take them out of the tin immediately swirl the tops into the cinnamon/sugar/butter mix.
  8. Let cool/dry on a baking rack
  9. Makes 24 mini muffins
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Friday, December 21, 2012

From the Harts

Jon and I are so humbled by the love and support we receive through this blog. We are wishing each and every one of you the merriest of Christmases. Our prayer is that you see and believe the gospel this season and recognize the reason for this great celebration is the birth of our one and only King Jesus. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.





....and now a peek into our home for the holidays

My mom got us our 1st Wooly for our 1st married Christmas last year and I think we are getting another this year :-). She collects them on her mantle and gives them to my sister too. They are so adorable and I can't wait to start my own collection. (you can find them here). 


Sorry Ernie, you don't have a stocking!

White poinsettias are my favorite this season

Our beautiful kissing ball mistletoe

Thank you to Heather for sending me this!

Our Christmas Memories book purchased here

Advent calendar purchased from Naptime Diaries

I didn't get a chance to photograph but we did lighted garland up our stairs and buck got a little bling too. We did lots of lights on the exterior but those just don't photograph well.

This was a few weeks ago and now our tree is filled with presents! 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

If you are in Austin and looking to attend a church service for Christmas, we will be attending both The Austin Stone and Gateway Church's Christmas services. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stop Glorifying Busy

"Stop glorifying busy"

I saw this on Instagram this morning and just had to share it. Ugh one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing people post how busy busy they are. We are all busy! Life is full and busy is good. Please don't complain :-) enjoy the season folks! As I grow older, I feel less stressed around the holidays so I can't complain right now. We've got my company holiday party tonight and a few fun Christmas-y things this weekend before the holiday actually starts. And we've been trying to watch lots of Christmas movies and I know A Christmas Story and National Lampoon are in the queue for the weekend.

I know I posted this on Facebook and Instagram but I just had to share on my blog. I had this picture of Ernie pencil sketched and I love it so much I could cry. I used Valerie from Valpo Studios and would you believe it was her first time drawing a pet?!? The drawing is pretty big and we are going to have it matted and framed.


Lots of Embry cuddles last week when she came into town. It's a toss up between a little monkey and a bear (Jon loved the bear, for Baylor of course). 


Ernie and his 2nd favorite toy...empty water bottles. He is so funny and every time Jon opens a green tea, Ernie will patiently and anxiously wait at his feet for him to finish it. I usually have to throw away a couple each night because I find half chewed bottles hidden all over the house.


I've been wanting to make these for a while and finally got around to my first batch of The Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls. I may or may not post the recipe on the blog but the recipe can be found here. I made them for Christmas morning and a few Christmas gifts so I wanted to get them done before hand and I am GLAD I did. They were super involved and messy. My kitchen looked like a buttery, sugary tornado flew through. Can't wait to get my mouth on these! 


Tomorrow I hope to post some pictures of our house all decorated for Christmas...before signing off for a few days. And in case you missed any of these posts, they may be worth checking out...

Biblical Forgiveness
How to Forgive

Is everyone still in uproar about Instagram? I plan on keeping it, anyone else? And speaking of instagram, if you haven't watched this parody video...WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!

Tonight it is supposed to freeze in Austin....and be in the 70's this weekend haha. 

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Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Forgive

The day before the Sandy Hook shootings I shared about a sermon in church on forgiveness and what the bible says about it for believers. My world was rocked re-reading it in light of the tragedy. Yesterday morning we finished up the 2 part series and our pastor outlined 3 things that must happen in your heart for you to be able to forgive. I recommend reading last week's post before finishing this one, and I pray that it brings you some sort of healing or comfort. 

1. We have to get to a place where forgiveness is not a choice but biblical obedience

  • As Christ followers we are commanded by the Lord to forgive in many parts of the bible. We are obeying God and not choosing to forgive when the circumstances are "good" for us
  • Colossians 3:12-13- forgive as He forgave you. AMEN!
  • If we are stuck in a place where we can't forgive, then we don't understand the depth of the forgiveness God gave us through His son Jesus Christ (and this should scare us to death!). If you are a child of God and can't forgive, you are waling in open sin and rebellion.
2. We must trust in the sovereignty of God
  • Wow. Why is this so hard at times? Knowing that Romans 8:28 stands true in triumph and in tragedy  He makes all things work together for our good. If you don't believe that, then you will not be able to forgive. 
  • Our pastor shared the story of Joseph and his coat. If you aren't familiar, Joseph was his father's favorite and gifted a beautiful coat that just lit his brothers on fire. They stole it and sold him into slavery. God raised up Joseph to be a powerful ruler and when his brothers come to beg for forgiveness, Joseph reminds them that he knows what they did was meant for evil, but God meant it for good (read Genesis 16-20). 
  • Think of Jesus on his final day here on earth- betrayed by his own disciple and friend, wronged, and slaughtered on a cross. As he hung there on the cross, looking at all the people who had wronged him, he asked his father to forgive them. Because our God is sovereign. Jesus was absolutely innocent and blameless yet he obeyed the word of the Lord. (read 1 Peter 2:21-23).
3. You have to believe the gospel and make it the primary purpose for your forgiveness
  • This point just rocked me to the core and I realized I had been disobeying the Lord with the drivers of my forgiveness.
  • Matt told a story about a young woman whose husband had cheated on her. The next week she was in Sunday school with another woman, older than she, whose husband had cheated on her and caused her to be a bitter old lady. That night, the young woman went home and forgave her husband because she didn't want to end up bitter. Isn't this something we all fall victim to? I forgive someone to keep the peace. Or I forgive because it would be awkward to see that person if I didn't. Or I forgive because it's my husbands family and I feel like I need to. But I am commanded to forgive because I have been forgiven fully in Christ!
  • Often times we forgive undeserving people yet who are we to judge when we are forgiven 7 times 70 times by the one who was slain for us? We are undeserving of the forgiveness that was given on the cross.
  • Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
  • Now this part just made the hair on the back of my neck stand. It was our sin that killed the son of God, yet He forgave. And someday, I imagine not any time soon, those families of the children who bravely lost their lives, will forgive, because in Christ, they were forgiven and made blameless in the eyes of God. As I try to wrap my mind around this, what it would be like to lose a skinned knee, question asking, toothless little child, I shake my head and say I couldn't do it. No! But hearing Matt reinforce the seriousness of the forgiveness we were given as a free gift, it gave me hope. It will take time, tears, grieving, anger, law suits, and stuff I hope I never have to experience, but I pray that those families can see the sovereignty, goodness, faithfulness, and forgiveness of our mighty God.
I am turning comments off today and I ask in place of a comment, you pray for the families who lost sons, daughters, wives, friends....that again they can see the Lord in this awful tragedy and may cling to what is good. One of my prayers today is that I could be as brave and passionate about my life and what I stand for as some of those young teachers who lost their lives. 

To listen to the entire series on Forgiveness by Matt Carter, please visit The Austin Stone.


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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bacon Apple Pie

You heard that right. Are you ready to blow the minds of all the men in your life? This was my first apple pie to ever make and I was pleasantly surprised at its deliciousness. Seems people are putting bacon on anything these days! Enjoy!

Ingredients

6 slices raw bacon

Refrigerated pie crust 



6-7 small apples (granny smith was recommend but I used gala)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp maple syrup


1 tbsp unsalted butter

Olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2. Cut each piece of bacon in half long ways (I used kitchen scissors, super easy).
3. Cover jelly roll pan (or baking sheet with edges) with foil and create a lattice with the raw bacon slices
4. Cover the lattice with more tin foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. I flipped mine halfway through baking
5. Meanwhile, peel and core all the apples cutting them into fourths and then each slice in half again. Use your best judgement on size. 
6. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan/skillet over medium heat and saute the apples for 6-8 minutes
7. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the apples and cook another 3-5 minutes
8. Once the bacon is done, remove from oven and lower heat to 350 degrees.
9. Brush your pie crust with 1 tbsp maple syrup
10. Pour the sauteed apples into the pie crust and top with 1 tbsp butter broken up into pieces
11. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees
12. Remove the pie and carefully top with the bacon lattice
13. Brush the lattice with remaining maple syrup and bake for an additional 15 minutes
14. Let cool and enjoy!

(I only used 5 apples so I recommend more, my pie wasn't as full as I would have liked)

original recipe 


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Friday, December 14, 2012

On Posting Recipes

I am by no means a food blogger but I love food. I love trying new recipes for my husband and posting them on the blog which I usually do once a week, normally on Saturdays. I get most of my recipes from Pinterest, I mean what the heck did we do before that? Oh yeah, I would email myself tons of recipes and they'd get lost in random folders and never get made. Most of the recipes I use come from food blogs which means the finished products insanely beautiful when posted. That got me thinking. Okay I understand if your a food blogger and blog about food alone, your stuff better look good. But there are times I make recipes from just regular blogs (lifestyle, mom, etc) and I swear it looks like they had a staging crew in their kitchen. So I wanted to talk about what goes into me making a recipe and posting it on my blog...


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  • I meal plan because it is hard to cook for just 2 people, especially with Jon traveling 2-3 nights a week. On a normal week, I'd make 2-3 meals and either fend for myself the other nights, eat leftovers, or go out (restaurant, friends house, etc). I don't have a specific day that I grocery shop, it is usually when we are running low on milk, fruit, eggs, and cottage cheese (those are the things we go through the fastest...I usually buy 3.5 gallons of milk a week). And grocery shopping usually happens at 5pm after work.
  • I try to cook the more labor intense meals on the weekend so I have more time. Y'all...working full time out of the house is exhausting. I am up at 6:30q, leave at 7q, work from 7:30q-4:30p, home at 5p and sometimes the last thing I want to do is chop onions and stand over a hot stove. Heck we don't even have kids. Work outside the house mamas...you deserve a pat on the back. So anyway, I try to keep recipes simple and easy during the week so I can spend the little time I have with my husband, with Ernie, around the house, etc.
  • We usually have snacks right when I get home and eat dinner between 8-9pm...although lately it has been earlier because it gets darker earlier and thus we want to go to bed earlier. Jon is good about helping me if I need it but he does his own thing while I cook. 
  • While I'm cooking the kitchen looks like a train wreck. As clean and organized as I am, my kitchen is chaos while I cook. Sometimes I have recipe meltdowns when I realize I have to have 3 different pans going, pasta boiling, etc all at the same time. This is where I don't see how people have the time (or patience) to take pictures of their spices in pretty white bowls, them chopping fresh vegetables, etc. 
  • I have started ONLY taking pictures of the end result because it just got too time consuming. I cook to feed my husband and myself, blogging stuff comes second.
  • After the  meal is done, I throw it on a plate, nothing fancy at all, and snap a few pictures with my 50mm/1.8 lens. 
  • Sometimes its months before I actually post the recipe on my blog, or sometimes it's that very week. I like having extra recipes in my queue because I never write posts ahead of time and sometimes just need a filler. 
  • If I don't like something I make, I will not post it on the blog. And unfortunately this happens a lot with Pinterest. Something looks delicious in pictures but tastes like tar when you make it. Jon basically loves everything I make but I am the final judge on whether a meal will make it to the blog or not. 

Basically this post has no action items or main purpose but to tell you more about what goes into me posting a recipe on my blog. Not bashing food blogs at ALL because I love the way you can make enchiladas look appetizing because they are so dang hard to photograph! I wish I had the patience and time....

The goal of me posting recipes is to encourage other wives and women to prepare easy, delicious, and new meals for their families. You can find the recipes I've blogged about here. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Gift of Forgiveness

We are in a short 2 week series at church leading up to Christmas on the topic of Forgiveness. This past week, Matt Carter, defined forgiveness and how the bible outlines it/calls us to do. I found myself anxiously and excitedly scribbling down notes, knowing I wanted to share with you guys on my blog. Through Jesus, the ultimate gift from God, we are forgiven. Wholly, repeatedly, and forever.

Matt shared the 3 ways of biblical forgiveness and as always, lightbulbs went off in my head. Yeah this is ideal, but am I fulfilling the Word of God? Absolutely not. I hope you can take these 3 pointers as seriously and as encouraging as I did. He gave us verses that directly show forgiveness defined and wow did that just convict me. I feel like I am a forgiving person, often times a little too forgiving especially when it comes to friends, but my eyes have been open to where I am missing the big picture and holding onto things I should release in Him. 

So here we go...

1. You do not take revenge on a person who has wronged you

  • 1 Samuel 24- most of you probably know the story of King Saul and David (I love this story because my husband was named after Jonathan and King David). But as many times as Saul wrongs David, David chooses not to kill him when he has the perfect opportunity.
  • 1 Peter 3:8-9- when someone commits evil against you, bless them, like the Lord has blessed you
  • I am not one to commit physical revenge but oh how my mind concocts plans of revenge and most of the time it is when something good happens in my life and certain people can't be happy for me so I tell myself "okay next time something good happens for them, you are going to act uninterested." Wish I could actually pull that off but I'm actually a pretty good friend and genuinely happy and optimistic for others, although that doesn't take away the fact that I want to take revenge...
2. Forgive completely

  • Psalm 103:10-12- God doesn't deal with us according to our sins...as far as the east is from the west, He removes our transgressions
  • Isaiah 43:24-25- although we haven't done what He's asked, He wipes out our transgressions and does not remember them
  • Colossians 3:12-13- forgive as the Lord has forgiven you
  • I think we all fall victim to this one... if we fully forgive someone for a wrong done against us, how come we bring it up in conversations, etc? I definitely do and have been trying to take a look at areas of my life where I haven't completely forgiven people of certain things. It seems freeing to totally let go and I hope I can get to that point someday.
3. Forgive repeatedly
  • Luke 17:34- if someone sins against you 7 times and repents to you 7 times, forgive him 7 times
  • Not sure if I will ever fully be able to understand, obey, and take into action this one. How beautiful is it that we are forgiven repeatedly for the daily things we chose over the glory of God. How unworthy is that? How awesome is that?


The Lord left a perfect place to forgive us through His son's own torture and death. Remember the manger....God wrapped the gift of forgiveness  on that cold winter night and at the cross, He unwrapped it. 

....to listen to the sermon, Forgiveness Defined by Matt Carter, please visit this website.


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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Family Christmas Card 2012

We started as a family of 6 and since 2009 have added 2 hubbies, 2 pups, and a sweet baby girl. Merry Christmas from the Fanning/Hart/Higgins family. Here is the card my parents sent out this year, cheers!

 
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Monday, December 10, 2012

Hi on Monday

Today I am bundling up and happy as a clam because it is finally cold in Austin! It's laughable because yesterday was 80 and today is 40. Love this bipolar weather. Anyway, I covet your prayers today for my mama who is getting her precious little bunions removed. Yep double bunny surgery...one of the worst surgeries there is. Ouch. She stays the night tonight and is home tomorrow...it will be a long recovery but worth it for her. 

Now that we've talked about my mom's feet, I'll fill you in on what's been going on in the Hart household. We are in full on Christmas mode. Christmas music, lights, all our gifts wrapped and under the tree. This weekend we put the finishing touches on decor (which I hope to photograph and show you soon), bought gifts for our sponsor children, and purchased the most awesome Christmas worship album here (you should too). We went to a smore party, a Christmakkuh party, and had a great night out with new friends. Weekends are just a little bit more fun around the Christmas holiday and I'm excited we have two more.

This is the first year to use our Christmas Kissing Ball/Mistletoe. My mom gave it to us last Christmas and I have been looking forward to putting it up (she and my sister both have one). It is from Hallmark and although I couldn't find it on their website, here is one similar. 


I posted our Christmas memories book on Instagram and lots of you asked about it. My parents have had one since they had children and my sister got it for us the Christmas before we got married. It's super cute and has areas to write about your Christmas eve, Christmas day, visitors, gifts, food, and even pictures. I love looking at my parents from when we were young. My sister ordered it from this website. 


Brunch on Saturday with Jenni and Mallorie to say goodbye to Mal before she moves tomorrow, *tear*. Love these little brunettes.

We finally got our gameroom painted and I finally collected all 26 letters of the alphabet for my ABC wall! People were funny when I posted this picture. No it isn't in a nursery. Can't I prepare for future Hart offspring to be super smart? People, people, so nosy! I have been wanting to do this since I saw it on Pinterest over a year ago and have been collecting letters since then. And my favorite part is the H because it is huge! H for Hart. 


We totally surprised ourselves by staying out til 3am on Saturday at an annual Christmakkuh party. We are party animals, yall. Haha. Funny because I was crawling into bed at 330am I realized the night before I took Ernie out at 3:30a and had been asleep for about 5 hours already. We definitely felt it Sunday but was totally worth it!


Other things around the blog lately...

Firmoo sent me a free pair of prescription sunnies and they are offering a free pair to anyone. Check out the post here


I reviewed the Missiko Hana Hair Dryer last week, check it out here

Thanks for your humble comments on this post about marriage. 

I posted last week about what it is like to own a French bulldog (actually it was a repost of a guest post I did for a doggie series). I got a few emails that kindly disagreed with us buying Ernie from a breeder. I just wanted to share with all of my readers that Jon and I tried for almost a year to rescue a dog from the French Bulldog Rescue network and had a terrible experience. Not only was it $800 to "rescue" a dog, but the application process was ridiculous (intense interviews, home visits, etc). It was very weird (and sad because we are awesome dog parents!) and we applied for a handful of dogs and never got ones. We have both had rescue dogs in our lives and plan on rescuing in the future but I don't think it is something others need to rebuke people for. Just like rescue dogs, dogs born at a breeder need homes too (and often are treated very poorly by breeders). This isn't a jab to the emails I got, I just wanted to clear things up for anyone wondering. They were all in good nature, I just felt the need to share. Jon and I also donate to the SPCA and I recently started volunteering at Austin Pets Alive. We love dogs of all kinds...$5,000 dogs, rescue dogs, mutts, pure breds. There is nothing sweeter than an animal getting a home. 

Johnny Football wins the Heisman! We have been excited to have guys from our alma maters win the past 2 years (RG3 from Baylor and now Johnny Manziel from A&M). Gig em!

Hope y'all have a great week. Come back tomorrow for the December group giveaway!

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Teamwork

I have had this post in mind for a while and it kept evolving into more ideas and I am finally making myself sit down and write it.

So before I got married, I heard people say that marriage was work and I quietly thought to myself "WHAT!? Mine won't. My relationship with Jon comes easy". Wrong! We have been married almost 2 years and I can tell you with an honest, humble heart that we have a great marriage but it has taken work. I love Jon more than I did on our wedding day and the love continues to grow as we continue to work and grow as a couple. Our relationship still comes easy but marriage brings a million other elements of life. Money, faith, your home, your free time. Marriage is a compromise and unfortunately I know many marriages who do not view it that way. How many people do you know that admit "so and so wears the pants" or "yep my wife is the boss". Okay I admit that I am the COO of the house, I know what we are doing next Friday and in 3 Fridays but that doesn't mean I am the boss. The work I am talking about is more like teamwork. 

Using the word "work" may give the situation bad connotation but it's not the work you dread on a Monday morning when your alarm goes off at 6:30am. It is the work that only improves your love, communication, trust, etc. Now you better believe this work was more like tough love for me at the beginning of our marriage. Being a grown woman on your own then getting married and making joint decisions is kind of a whirlwind, especially for someone like me who is independent in my decisions and forthcoming with the way I make things work in my life. It hit me hard when I realized life wasn't all about me anymore. My husband and my marriage trump everything else in my life and my decision making needed to reflect that. Again, I will stress that Jon and I don't ask each other for permission to do things but we actually enjoy making decisions together. I've learned to compromise, which again, was hard but there is so much beauty in it. I choose to do something Jon wants to do and I get to see his face light up with happiness and joy.

So unmarried friends, marriage is work. Teamwork. Fun-for-the-most-part work. 

I actually thought of this post when we were playing tennis a few weeks ago. We've taken up the sport recreationally and are really enjoying it. And once again, teamwork comes into play. Jon has learned he can't spike and spin the crap out of the ball because I can never get them and it's not fun for me. I am a better server than him, he is better at volleying. A hard thing for me at times is to take advice/direction from someone and I had to get over that in this case. I was hurting my wrist hitting backhand and Jon gave me pointers. Even though it is a competitive game, it's team work.







Other examples of where Jon and I are constantly working/teamworking on our marriage: faith, dedication to discipleship/scripture reading, money management/finances, housework/chores, choosing what to watch on TV, disciplining Ernie, family relationships, friendships, and most importantly, our love for one another and how we choose to show it. Yes there are times I get cranky and don't want to compromise and I love my husband for not letting that slide (I am the stubborn one of the pair if you didn't guess). Our marriage isn't perfect but the imperfections are what allow us to grow and thrive. And we will continue to work for the rest of our lives. 

Marriage is work, but it is fun work that pays off. Being married is the second best thing I've ever done in my life, first is choosing to follow Christ (which I am lucky to share that with my husband too)


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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Owning a Frenchie

First things first...

Frenchie= French bulldog
(just didn't want you to be confused throughout this whole post!)

and this is Ernie, our 2 year old Frenchie...

Owning a Frenchie is one of the most rewarding things in my life, second only to my faith and marrying my husband. They aren't a common dog but have been in the media quite a bit lately (Modern Family, Sketchers commercials), making them a hot dog, no pun intended. I actually had never seen a Frenchie in person until we went to pick up our bundle of chunk from the breeder. For those of you unfamiliar with the breed, interested in getting one, or just want to see cute pictures of Ernie, I am going to give you some info on owning one of these cuties.

Size: this is what attracted me to Frenchies. Ernie is an average sized Frenchie standing about a foot tall and weighing 24lbs. He is really muscular and lacks rolls which is not the Frenchie norm. Larger Frenchies are 30-32lbs and smaller ones, like Ernie's parents, are 19-20lbs. Seriously Ernie's neck is so thick and he is super barrel chested.


Look: Frenchies are known as "frog dogs" and have a very distinct look about them. They have Brachycephalic syndrome meaning flat faced (along with pugs, Pekingese, etc). I love his squishy little nose and die for his batty ears that always stick up! Because of their flat faces, Frenchies often have breathing problems and bad gas due to inhaling their food without chewing it. Ernie is definitely an offender! Frenchies come in many different coats and Ernie is a reverse brindle- black with blonde highlights. They also come in fawn, cream, and fully black. All Frenchies have a white spot on their chest varying in size, Ernie's is really small. They also have nubs for tails!

Personality: Frenchies (and most bulldogs) are really stubborn. We tried to break this from the beginning with training but Ernie is still pretty stubborn. He is such a happy guy but knows how to push our buttons. For example, we will take up his ball so he will eat and he runs right up stairs and finds another ball that he has stashed away. He wants to do things on his time. Ernie is such a ham and literally stares and poses at the camera when I pull it out. He loves licking babies and is quite the party animal at parties. 

Activity: since Frenchies are normally chunky and sometimes overweight, most of the time they are pretty lazy...but not Ernie! He spends lots of time sleeping and cuddling during the day but that boy has more energy than any 2 year old  I know! His favorite toy is a tennis ball and he could spend hours playing fetch. He also loves playing with other dogs, wading in the water and "hunting leaves", going for walks, and chewing on empty water bottles. When we tell people how active he is, they are amazed! We thought it was a phase but man he has got some energy! He loves when my husband chases him around the house too.


Health: Frenchies have a 10-12 year lifespan but we are hoping to extend Ernie's by feeding him a holistic, grain free diet. Frenchies have lots of nasal/breathing problems because of their squished nose so we make sure Ernie gets lots of rest and water after he plays. They also have hip problems because they are so top heavy. Something interesting is that Frenchies have to be artificially inseminated because most of them are too top heavy to mount and they have to be born via C section.

Cost: because they take so many resources to conceive/birth, Frenchies are expensive, running between $1,500-upwards of $3,000 for AKC show dog parents. Healthcare can be an added cost but prevention is the best medicine!

If you are looking for a sweet, loveable dog to become a not only a pet but a true family member, I highly recommend Frenchies. Ernie can be a major toot and definitely isn't as obedient as his lab retriever cousin, but we love him so much. And he loves us. He gets so excited when he sees his mom and dad and gives us unconditional love, support, and cuteness with his big ol' smiley face. He will make a wonderful big brother to our human babies one day, but for now, he is our chunky first born fur baby!

Check out more Ernie posts here!


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