Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas eve was a little different than usual this year.  After dinner at my parent's house we got to deliver Christmas presents to four families that otherwise wouldn't have had anything to open the next day.  The Murdock's are serving a mission in the Kearns branch and did all the work- we were just lucky enough to be a part of the delivery!  It was so fun to watch the excitement on their faces and it really helped Braedon and I realize what's important at Christmas time.  All we really need is our families.  

 Christmas day this year was so fun.  We feel pretty lucky that our families live so close and we can bounce back and forth between all the fun festivities.  It makes for a busy day but I wouldn't trade it!  We woke up and opened our stockings at the Murdock's, ate some incredible breakfast, and then headed to my grandma's. 

We also learned that the kids really didn't even need presents.  They were entertained with the balloons for the remainder of the party! Caden would not stop giggling!

 When I was seven my aunt Carrie passed away unexpectedly from a car accident.  Ever since then we have a tradition where we write notes to those we love who have passed away.  We roll up the notes, stick them in helium balloons and sing, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" while we send them off to "heaven".  It used to be a tearful event but now it's just a fun tradition we have.  

That night we headed over to Braedon's grandma's to eat more food, play games, and spend time with family.  We had a blast!  I love the holiday's and the time we get to spend with our families.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Braedon's Birthday

Braedon kind of gets the short end of the stick because his birthday falls just a week before Christmas.  I had great plans to make it special.  We were going to go stay a night in Park City and swim in the Crater, but his birthday happened to also fall on the same day as that awful snowstorm.... so plans changed!  

We went out for Mexican food, and enjoyed Braedon's first real day off since his crazy semester.  It was the perfect day for cuddling, watching kung fu panda, playing Nertz, and not leaving the house.  

Braedon really has a hard time letting me spoil him. After I gave him his birthday present he came in with one of my Christmas presents.  Needless to say, we got a little excited about Christmas and kind of kept exchanging gifts....before we knew it we had pretty much celebrated Christmas five days early!  In a way it's become a tradition because we've celebrated Christmas early the past few years due to me being scheduled at the hospital.

Later that night we went over to my mom's to eat pizza and play games.  All Braedon wanted to play was monopoly!  He was dubbed the banker by our nephew Stillman because, "he was once a banker at the credit union".  Naturally.  We only had one dramatic episode (involving a money discrepancy) which is pretty good considering monopoly.  It can be a pretty emotional game.  "How would YOU feel if YOU were bankrupt??" (inside joke)

Time for the pictures...

Pretty excited about the guitar.  It's kind of the gift that keeps on giving cause I've been serenaded to sleep every night since he got it!

Taking his job as Banker very seriously.  "Ya sure you can purchase that and it'll be an extra ten dollars to the bank for interest".... (eh hem, cheater)

It was a fun birthday!  Braedon's parents spoiled us the next day and took us out to dinner.  Unfortunately, I was slacking on the picture taking.  

I'm so grateful for this hard working, babe of a husband! He is one of the most selfless, honest, and funniest people I know.  Grateful he always finds a way to make me feel special, even with his insane school schedule and all the hours he is putting in for pre-med.  Happy 24th sweetie!  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Treat

If you’re looking for an easy, inexpensive, and tasty holiday treat for your neighborhood Christmas gifts, look no further!  This salty sweet combination provides the perfect amount of crunch, chewy goodness, and holiday flare. 

What You’ll Need:
*Melting Caramel
*Melting White Chocolate
*Melting Milk Chocolate
Candy Canes
Pretzel Rods (1 bag of 30)
Parchment Paper

*You’ll need to purchase your caramel, and chocolates from a store that sells melting chocolates.  I bought all my supplies from Orson Gigi.  

I like to start by placing my candy canes in a bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. I crushed all 12 of them and had plenty to spare- I made about 40 pretzels.

You can leave the chards in a bag or place them in a bowl to use later.  Next I cut my caramel into squares.  I used about 1/4 of the block.  I chose to just fill a tall mug with the melted caramel so that it would make the dipping easier.  If your microwave is tall enough a pitcher would work great as well. 

You can use a stove top to keep your caramel and chocolates melted, but you want to be very careful they don’t burn.  If you use a stove you need to have a double broiler.  The microwave was an easier option for me and if my caramel started hardening I could just pop it back in for a few seconds!
Every microwave will differ, but these are the general cooking times…

Caramel: 30 seconds, stir, 30 more seconds

White chocolate: 30 seconds, stir, 15 more seconds (the white chocolate melts the fastest)

Milk Chocolate: 30 seconds, stir, 30 more seconds

The key to finding out the perfect time for your microwave is start low!  Try 15-30 seconds increments at most… You don’t want your candy to burn!

Now you can start dipping!  The caramel should stick pretty well to your pretzel.  If it’s falling right off, it’s too hot and you need to let it thicken up a little.  

I do a few twists and then set it down on my wax paper.  When you’ve finished with your caramel you can heat up the white chocolate (or milk chocolate, whichever you prefer).

And the process starts over!

Just dip…

And twist! 

While the white chocolate is still soft, sprinkle your peppermint over the top.  Make sure you do it soon after you’re finished dipping, or it won’t stick!

And now for the finishing touches!  This part can get a little messy.  The chocolate I used wasn’t thin enough to “drizzle” so I kind of just had to wave my spoon back and forth.  I think it it made my lines a little more artistic ;)

And you’re done!  Easy, inexpensive, yummy (and cute).  I paid $60 for my supplies and I’m going to be making these every weekend for the rest of the month if I want to get rid of them!  Consider it this way; you give 20 neighborhood gifts and they’re only $3 dollars a piece! (Plus you’ll have plenty to spare for those holiday get togethers).  

Just wrap it up with some cellophane and finish it off with a bow. Thanks for reading, hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Girls Night- Aiken Style

My sister Missy is in town from California so we planned to have a fun girls night.  My cute niece Lexi (5) decided she should be invited too, since you know, "she is a girl too, and it's girls night out!".  It was so fun to have her along.  She literally skipped wherever we went; to get pedicures, to Tsunami, through Scheels, Target and Red Mango.  (Yeah, we know how to do girls night)

You just can't say no to that smile!  And yes, I'm riding in the cart.  When we got home we asked her if she thought girls night was fun or boring.  She mouthed "boring" to her mom but told us all she had actually mouthed "fun".  Girls nights used to be kind of boring for me too- there is a six year gap between me and the next sister so for a while I wasn't included in the "where do you grocery shop?" and other married life discussions.  I guess we'll see if Lex will want to tag along for the next one!  We weren't so great about taking pictures, but I had to include these few of " Lexi Melissa-wissa Dalby" at my wedding.  

I was once the princess of the family, but she's definitely taken over the title!  I love it when my favorite niece comes to visit!  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nightly Routine

Between the two of us, Braedon definitely got all the musical talent.  However, he's notorious for not knowing song lyrics.  Today, while studying, I heard him singing...
"Tiny tots, with their arms all on fire....."
He keeps me entertained

I saw this post on Instagram today and it made my mouth water.  Her picture is much cuter and more mouth watering than mine.  I love chamomile and often drink herbal tea before bed.  Braedon tells me I'm a grandma. This is definitely a new favorite.  I stole the recipe from Tessa, and made a few additions...

Steamed Skim Milk
Overflowing capful of vanilla
Spoonful of sugar
Chamomile tea bag

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Newlywed Dinners: Easy Crockpot Meatballs

Alright, this is the epitome of easy.  I know some people are crockpot haters, but I am definitely a supporter.  I fully embrace the laziness!  Especially as I'm working full time, and the hubs is in school all day, sometimes the crockpot is our only chance at a homemade (hot) meal.  

The key to a "Newlywed Dinner"?  It's easy, inexpensive, and fools your husband into thinking your an amazing cook.  (All you do is throw the ingredients in the pot and cook on low for 5 hours).  Fool proof. 

1.25 lbs of meatballs
1 cup honey flavored bbq sauce
1/2 cup peach preserves (jam works too)
1/4 cup packed darn brown sugar (can also use light)
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper

Literally all you have to do is mix together the ingredients, add in the meatballs, and pour into the crockpot.  Cook on low for 5 hours.  

I threw some rice in the rice cooker and we paired it with some edamame. Done and done!  

Side note: as I was making this dinner Braedon came over to "give me a hug".  He looked at my shirt with terror and said, "Stef, don't move".  Bad idea.  I screamed my head off and jumped around the kitchen like an idiot!  I was wearing this fuzzy sweater and was convinced a spider had made its new home!  

Wanna know the sad part?  This has happened before. My friend Micah, was the witness.  Same look of terror, same overdramatic reaction. Turns out I just had chocolate on my face.  (In my defense, all I saw was a brown glob out of the corner of my eye...I mean it could have been a spider)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

More From Mexico + Christmas Devotional

With all this snow, I thought it fitting to post a few more beach pictures.  I'm already planning our next tropical vacation... Braedon just doesn't know about it yet.

I just want to eat her up.  Such a beautiful babe!  

A little squinty, but I could not be happier.  The sun, some beach, a diet coke and a book.

The Tennis Crew

Posed a little for that one...whoops.  I just can't help the foot pop.

Had so much fun with my family!  

By the way, the LDS church put on a fabulous Christmas Program tonight.  It's only an hour and pretty much incredible.  Perfect for family night.  You can listen to it here or watch below :)