Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Queen's Chronicles - Wrapping Up 2014

This was so fun to pull together!  I loved looking back at all the memories we made.  We had such a fun year with lots of good times and celebrations. 

I started off the year with a bang in New York City!  My bestie turned 40 on New Years Eve and we had both always dreamed of seeing the ball drop in person. As luck would have it everything worked just perfectly and there we were standing in Times Square listening to Miley Cyrus sing Wrecking Ball, counting down and then being covered in confetti as we sang New York, New York.  Our entire trip was just amazing and the last night we were there it snowed like 7 inches and seeing Central Park covered in snow was just the icing on the cake!  
My niece also celebrated her birthday on New Years Eve so when I returned from my trip I took her to the American Girl store for a tea party.  So much fun.  
And my sweet little guy turned 12 and we celebrated with donuts!  
February arrived which brings with it the start of college baseball and most of my dates began looking like this! 
We began burning up the road between College Station and Fort Worth and we were Riley's biggest fans.  
Dillon was playing basketball back at home.  
In March I took Dillon and his bestie to see Florida Georgia Line at the Houston Rodeo.  Adorable! 
We traveled to Austin for a long weekend in April and visited the state capitol.  
And of course we were there to watch TCU play UT......and for the record they SWEPT the series and my sweet boy closed and got the save in all 3 games.  My little brother came too and you can see he competes with us all for #1 fan status.  
Always a special time to celebrate Easter together.  
And my adorable nephew turned 3! 
In May Dillon had his first school dance....lots of sweat going on here.  
Yep....and more baseball!  The Frogs ended up winning the Big XII tourney and my mom traveled with me to watch the show.  My college roommate also drove down to visit which was a special treat. 
Let me just say at the beginning of the season we would have never seen this happening but the Frogs had something else in mind.  After one 22 inning game against SHSU and three nail biting games against Pepperdine the Frogs had reached their goal of making it to Omaha.  Riley rarely shows any emotion on the field and when he struck out the final batter in game 3 of the super regionals he exploded!  I love this picture of him...total beast mode.  It was such a proud moment.  he has so many people supporting him and I have lime-a-ritas to get me through without losing my mind! 
So Toad to Omaha became a reality and we loaded up for a road trip to the College World Series! 
We traveled to Omaha the previous summer for a tourney Dillon played in and we attended a CWS game but nothing prepared me for being there to see my son play!  
If you ever make it to Omaha you must visit the Henry Doorly Zoo!  This was our second visit and it has such great exhibits.  
Back to reality and 4th of July in my hometown.  
A long overdue fishing trip to Matagorda bay.  
And then my kids very favorite part of summer.....attending TbarM summer camp!  They look forward to this all year long and I love that they have a week away from the real world to be loved on by some amazing counselors who are crazy about Jesus.  
While the kids were gone I finally had the guts to start my blog!  August 1st was my very first post!

Before picking up the kids Keith and I celebrated our 13th anniversary with a night away in Austin and you can read more about that here.   
The kids arrived home from camp and the next day we expanded our family!  We went to visit before they left for camp and fell in love with this face and knew we had to make him ours.  Dutch Buddy stole our hearts and you can read about him joining our family here.
And then it was back to reality and the first day of middle school for Dillon and 3rd grade for Carly Jo.  My Littles are getting so big! 
Carly insisted on a slumber party (more about that here) to celebrate her 9th so we threw a Night Owl party! 
Aggie Football is always a Fall highlight and this year seeing the new improved Kyle Field for the first time was amazing! 
I love traveling to TCU for parents weekend each September to check in on my baby.  
Lots of Fall baseball for Dillon too....sure hope my nerves hold up.  Pitcher mom probs!
October arrived with lots of birthday celebrations....Jordan, Riley, Keith and I all celebrated birthdays and somehow I have not one picture!  I guess once you get to a certain age the birthday picture is not required! 

I took Dillon and Carly Jo to the Texas State Fair....it was our first time! 
And Carly Jo joined Girl Scouts....cookies anyone?  They will be arriving soon! 
Our traditional pumpkin patch visit.....wouldn't be October without it! 
My friend Holly and I traveled to Waco for a night with Joanna Gaines!  For real...so much fun and you can read more about that here
Carly Jo found a hot dog costume for Dutch Buddy and decided she wanted to be a waitress.  So adorable.  
November arrived with more Aggie Football!  Lots of fun with friends and family.  
Grandparents were celebrated the week of Thanksgiving!  
 And now it's the end of the year and we had lots of fun gathering with family for Christmas which you can catch up on with part 1 here and part 2 here.  I won't bore you again with all the pix! 

The most important part of my year right here....these babies make me so proud and so happy.  It is so challenging being their mom and I know every day is not going to be rosey and there will still be lots of struggles and opportunities for growth ahead but without these kids I would not be the person I am today.  Without my husband by my side I would not strive so hard to be a better woman.  I know I drive them all crazy but I know they love and support me as much as I do them. We are family...a family that definitely sticks together.  


Wishing you all a blessed New Year!  Thank you so much for joining me on my journey.  

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Holiday Baking

Holiday baking is one of my very favorite things to do each season!  Here are my faithful standbys for goodies.

Meme's Chocolate Cookies
One of my very favorite things to do is bake goodies for family and friends.  I typically set aside a day or two (or three if you have boys at home eating them as fast as you cook them) and bake away. The overwhelming favorite item I make is my Meme's chocolate cookies.  These little bite size cookies are really hard to resist and my Meme made them every Christmas for her friends and family and I took over about 15 years ago.    
The first year I baked these her recipe card read Dime Brand Milk and I was clueless but thankfully my other grandmother was able to clue me in.  You can find the full recipe here.
These cookies are slightly temperamental depending on the Texas weather and I learned through trial and error you absolutely cannot use and sort of non-stick spray on the cookie sheets.  Finding out about parchment paper from a friend was the best thing that ever happened to these cookies! 
I use a small spoon to drop bite size amounts onto the parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  One batch typically makes approximately 88 cookies.  If you love chocolate you will absolutely love these cookies.  

Chocolate Covered Peanut Clusters
I make these because they are delicious and pretty much make themselves.  All you need is chocolate almond bark and dry roasted peanuts and you have a winner.  Regular peanuts will not do the trick...the dry roasted are a must for the perfect combo of salty and sweet.  Melt the almond bark in the microwave in a large bowl and then add the peanuts and stir.  
Drop by spoonful onto wax paper and let dry and you have a perfect little treat. 

Pecan Sandies
These cookies are a little more time consuming but I like to use them to add a little variety and something other than chocolate.  

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed 30 seconds.  Add granulated sugar and beat until combined.  Beat in 1 tablespoon water and vanilla until combined.  Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer.  Stir in remaining flour and pecans.  

I pulled out this relic I inherited last year when my Mamaw relocated to an assisted living facility.  Hard to justify a new model when it still works perfectly.  
Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  Gently shake cooled cookies in a plastic bag with powdered sugar.  Makes about 36 cookies.  

Cookie Packaging
There are so many ways to put together goodies for friends and this year I chose plain HEB brand containers.  They come with red lids so they seem somewhat festive and I created a tag for the top similar to one I saw on Pinterest.  If you haven't tried PicMonkey yet...oh my goodness...has made things like this so easy!!  

Gifting
I love putting together a few treats for the UPS/Fed Ex delivery drivers, our mailman and the sanitation worker.  


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