Sweet Potato Casserole: The Best One

If you were fortunate enough to know my MeeMaw, you know that she had a love for all things sweet. This Sweet Potato Casserole, which she made for every Thanksgiving and every Christmas, is my absolute favorite for the holidays. It is my not-a-holiday-without-it recipe. You will eat it and not be quite sure if it is a side dish or a dessert, and after about 3 bites, you will just give up trying to figure it out and EAT it! My guess is that she loved it so much because it was really a vegetable disguised as a dessert!

A funny story: One of the last Thanksgivings that she was with us, she asked me to make it and bring to our dinner. She handed me a recipe card, I took it and followed it exactly. I remember when I was making it that something seemed odd - the recipe called for crushed cereal in the topping and I didn't remember ever noticing that when I ate it. It looked right, so I took it on over to dinner and mentioned that the cereal confused me. That was when we realized that she gave me the wrong recipe card, she had saved the recipe for the "best one" in a different part of her crammed full recipe box and overlooked it!

I'm excited to get to make it for our family meal tomorrow, it won't be as good as hers, because she added a special kind of love. If you try it, let me know what you think!


Tipsy Tuesday (#336)

If you read any headlines or watch the news much, you know that the world is becoming a scary place to be. It is definitely a challenging time to raise children. I want to give Elise the freedom to explore and learn for herself, but unfortunately, we have to teach our children guidelines and rules to keep them safe, since not everyone that they encounter will have good intentions.

Tip #336

Use this helpful infographic from Mom.me to cover some basic safety rules with your child.

I hope that we never need them, but I can't bury my head in the sand and not prepare Elise for the worst.

If you have any great tips for helping young children memorize their address and phone number, I would love to hear them!


Tipsy Tuesday (#335)

I'm planning to enjoy my Thanksgiving meal...

Tip #335

but I'm also going to eat responsibly. I have learned that most of the weight loss happens with my choices in the kitchen.

Here is a great guideline for planning out your Thanksgiving plate.

What is the one holiday dish that you can't live without? Mine is sweet potato casserole, for sure!


What's Up This Weekend?

Here's what's up this weekend at our house:
  • Finish the Christmas decorating (yes, I know it isn't even Thanksgiving, but with travel it is so busy over Thanksgiving break, so I am getting it done now so that I can enjoy it.) We set up Elise a little tree when I was off of work on Wednesday and you would think that we gave her a million dollars...she is already so excited for Christmas!
  • Set the DVR up to record all of the Christmas specials that will start next week. I love some Hallmark movies over the holidays!
  • Pick out clothes and accessories for family photos (they are next week - please say a prayer that the threenager cooperates...)
  • Select fabrics for Elise's Christmas outfit...time to start sewing!
  • Take a stab at making my own almond flour - that stuff is crazy expensive!
  • Groceries and laundry...ugh...
  • Start planning Elise's Advent activities.
  • Cheat meal tonight...pasta, mmmm!
What's up with you this weekend?


Tipsy Tuesday (#334)

I'm looking forward to getting some carbs in when Thanksgiving rolls around. Stuffing or dressing is one of my favorites.

Tip #334

I don't know if I am in charge of bringing any to Thanksgiving dinner, but if I was, I would totally take A Spicy Perspective's advice and make it in a bundt pan.

Easy to transport, easy to slice and serve, perfect for layering with turkey and gravy! Yum!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving treat?


I Have Seen The Future...

and it looks like this...



Tipsy Tuesday (#333)

Ground beef has become a part of our diet and we like to buy in bulk to save a few bucks.

Tip #333

Place 1lb. portions of ground beef in a Ziploc baggie, remove all air and seal bag, then roll meat out flat.

This will save you a ton of time when it comes time to thaw and saves space in the freezer.


Rolled Waistbands and Rope Belts

The journey to get fit continues.... I'm not sure if I have mentioned it or not, but the Rev and I have been working together to lose the weight. We pretty much eat the same thing since we started working with a trainer and go to HIIT class together 3 times a week, in addition to our individual workouts. Our trainer has been great and has put us on what is essentially a super intense version of the Paleo way of eating...lots of meat, little to no starch or sugar.

I have to roll all of my waistbands over to keep my pants on and the Rev looks like he has a rope holding his pants up because his belt is so tight and there is so much extra fabric. He put his suit coat on a few weeks ago and looked like a kid playing dress up!

In the month of October, he has lost 23lbs. and I have lost 11lbs! We will keep on keeping on!


A Perfect Pumpkin Party

I told you all about the pumpkin plans that I was making for Elise's 3rd birthday party a few weeks ago. I've finished going through all of the photos and thought that I would share some details with you.

These invitations were my starting point - sort of rustic, girly doily accents, and a little glitter for glam.

I was hoping to have her party in our church picnic shelter, but October weather meant we were forced to move inside. It was just too damp for the kiddos outside. They did not seem to mind one bit as they painted their pumpkins, snacked on pizza, carrot sticks with ranch (one of E's favorites!), apples with dip, and of course, pumpkin cupcakes!
I had so much fun with all of the little details - glittered pumpkins, mini hay bales holding Oreo pumpkin suckers, doily bunting (originally intended to hang all around the shelter, but just ended up on the front of the food tables inside), and even a doily piƱata (pull string style, so no need to swing a bat!--I'll do a DIY post for that and the bunting soon!)

And the sun peeked through and the rain lifted just long enough for a hay ride, which Elise absolutely loves!

Parties are so much work and not exactly cheap, but there was a moment during the hayride when she looked across the trailer at The Rev and hollered, "Daddy, I'm having so much fun!" and even El Cheapo would have told you it was worth it. And every night since then when we are winding down and getting ready for bedtime, Elise says, "Let's talk about my party" and she starts to recap who was there and all that we did and the fun that she had and it is absolutely worth every cent and minute of work.


Tipsy Tuesday (#332)

So you will be prepared with a Halloween candy strategy...
Tip # 332
here are ways that you can get candy out of the house before it hits your hips!
Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude sends care packages to our troops overseas, and your gummy bears and mini Snickers are more than welcome, especially when your kids include a nice letter of support too. You just pay to ship to California, but an extra $11 donation covers overseas postage. But keep in mind the non-melty stuff is best, or if you send chocolate, you might want to put it in a Ziploc first.
Any Soldier
This service will also let you donate candy, and you can even specify which armed service branch, if you have a preference. Another similar option is Operation Shoebox.
Ronald McDonald House Charities
They do so much for kids, including accepting candy donation for them. You can search for a local branch here.
I love the idea of donating to the troops or to kids that might not get to go out and get it for themselves. And if you have hard candy left over, it is perfect for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.



Listening...to nothing...the batteries in my work computer speakers keep dying on me. I really need some music today!

Eating...nothing, but imagining all of the Halloween candy that I am not allowed to eat...

Drinking...water....lots and lots of water...


Wearing...denim cropped pants, green school polo (It's Friday - jeans day!) and brown flip flops...it's supposed to be almost 80 today so getting one more day of flops in!

Feeling...just blah...lack of medical answers and no change on the scale in the past 2 weeks has me down in the dumps.

Needing...to get some serious fall purging done at the house this weekend. My goal is to be finished with every room by Veteran's Day so that I can decorate for Christmas on that day off.

Wanting...Twizzlers...and a Reese's Pumpkin...in the worst way.

Thinking...that getting skinny ain't nearly as fun as it was to get fat (sensing a theme here?)

Enjoying...the fact that Elise FINALLY got in a bouncy house last weekend and had a blast! She will love Fall Festival at church tomorrow!


Tipsy Tuesday (#331)

I was running late this morning, so naturally there was a nice layer of frost on the car....winter is coming! I guess we better get ready!

Tip #331

Back to Her Roots has a great list for winterizing all areas of your home. Some of these items I would never think of and others don't apply to our home, but this is a great starting point for getting cold weather ready.

I guess I better put the Rev to work on this since I am currently covered up in a big pre- holiday season purge and clean!

Does anybody else fall clean as well as spring clean?



Dear Elise,

This past Sunday, you turned 3. It does not seem possible. You grow leaps and bounds every day and sometimes it seems to be impossible for us to keep up with you. Here is what you are up to:

•Vitals: You are 39 inches tall and weigh 28.8lbs.

•Eating: You are pretty much a vegetarian, with the exception of chicken in nugget form and ham. You are still a nibbler and love to graze all day long. Your treat of choice is a doughnut. And everything is better with ranch...you love the stuff!

•Sleeping: You take an afternoon nap and are down for bed by 8. Most nights though you chatter away to "Baby" and "Girl" until 9...like clockwork! Lately you have become a bit of a staller, yelling that you need to poop (you are potty trained except for night time) or that you can't "see" your "Baby" and "Girl".

•Wearing: You are in mostly 3T with a few 2T items hanging on. You are tall so extra length is needed for most things. You are about over bows and pull them out as soon as we put them in.  You also want to take your shoes off as soon as we are in the car...you are a sneaky booger and if we say that you can't take your shoes off, you settle for taking the laces out...

•Talking: ALL. DAY.LONG. and with a vocabulary that never ceases to amaze me. Dr. Pontzer always comments on your speaking ability and warns us that we are in trouble and we better hang on for the ride! Your favorite right now? Why? Everything is met with a "Why?"

•What You Love: Anything crafty, going to school and church, your friends - Piper is still your bestie, dancing, making sure your dresses twirl, when Mommy brings a treat home from work, your new bike, playing with cold water in the bathtub, your new umbrella, parties, Big Hero 6, and superheroes.

•What We Love: ALL OF YOU! Even the occasional threenager drama. Your hugs and kisses are the best! You are our most favorite girl! Mommy (and Daddy!)


Tipsy Tuesday (#330)

I love driving in a clean car...on the inside, I could care less about the outside!

Tip #330

I'm planning to tackle cleaning out my glovebox, which is overflowing, using these tips.

The best part about this project is that it will only take 10-20 minutes so it is immediate results for your work!

Are you a neat-as-a-pin or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink car owner?


Just a Headache...

Soooo, my latest round of medical tests did not exactly go as planned. What was scheduled to be a lumbar puncture last Monday, turned into 2 punctures ( a total of 10 war wounds!) and a visit back to the ER on Wednesday for the absolute worst headache EVER. I really appreciated how everyone kept saying "Well, since you are just here for a headache..." They were totally clueless.

The good news was no signs of cancer or MS from the spinal fluid that was collected and tested. Now we wait for my rheumatology appointment next week and hope we get answers and a treatment plan then.