Sunday, December 31, 2017

{ New Year Fun - 2017 Edition }

 Every year, on the last day of the year, I do this post.  It is a way of looking back on what we've done, where we've been and what has happened throughout the year.

I would like to say that 2017 was kind to us, but it really wasn't.  We lost two family members, my daughter struggled with a serious bout of depression and anxiety, my husband's job was uncertain at times and we accrued more debt than we would like to due to unforeseen circumstances.

But it wasn't all bad, my daughter did graduate from High School, my niece got married, we had another family reunion at the lake and my husband finally got a permanent position at work.

Whatever is headed our way in 2018, only God knows, but I am hopeful that it will finally be our year, health wise, emotionally and financially.  I'm also hoping that I can be stronger, more determined, more faithful to the Lord and less of a worrier.

I don't do New Year's resolutions, never been much for them, so I guess in a sense these are just goals or things I would like to see happen, and with God's help, I'm pretty sure they can be attained.

Lastly, my wish for you all and your families, is that you are continually blessed and that this new year upon is, bring you nothing but joy, health and wealth.

Love you my dear readers!!!

Post the first sentence of your first blog post of each month. You can also add a favorite picture from each month.

Happy New Year everyone!


Saturday, December 30, 2017

{ Pfister Faucets }


A couple of months ago, I was contacted by the wonderful folks at Pfister and asked if I would be interested in reviewing some of their products.

As most of you know, we live in a huge older home, and as much as we love it, it does need some fixing and some updating, here and there.

One of the things I've always disliked about my daughter's bathroom/guest bathroom, is that the faucets were extremely old.  When given the opportunity to upgrade them in return for a review, I couldn't say no.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

[ The past few days }


It's been a pretty relaxing week for us.  Curt took the week off and so has been home, just relaxing, taking it easy and spending some good quality family time.


Unfortunately, as the temperatures have plummeted here in North Texas, so have our immune systems, so we all seem to be fighting off colds.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

{ Christmas with family }


The best part about celebrating Christmas, aside from the obvious reason to celebrate the birth of Christ, is that we are blessed to spend it with family.

After many years of being alone, and spending the holidays just the 4 of us, the past 3 years we've been so lucky to be able to share the holidays with a multitude of loved ones.


My beautiful family, my rocks, everything that I live for.  My children have grown into such beautiful human beings.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

{ Merry Christmas }

I just wanted to come in and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!!!

I won't be posting a Happy Homemaker Monday tomorrow as I'll be busy with family, and I'm quite certain you all will too, so I'll see you back for that next week. :)

However, there will be blog posts throughout the week, so I won't be too far.

Hope you all have a wonderful time with your families, and that you really soak in every moment and keep in mind, the real reason for the season.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

{ Simple homemaking day and getting ready for Christmas }


As I've gotten older, it seems that the Christmas spirit has been diminishing.

I recall in my younger years, where I anticipated the season and loved every single minute of it.  The tree, the decorations, buying the gifts, wrapping, cooking and baking.

While I still enjoy all that, it just takes me so much longer to get into the spirit, and as we linger a day just before Christmas Eve, I find myself quite apathetic to it.  And I wish I wasn't!!!

I am hoping that by tomorrow, I can really start feeling the Christmas spirit and indulge in it all before the season passes us by.  Let's hope.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

{ Winter days }

It's cold, it's foggy, it's dark and dreary.

The epitome of a perfect winter day.  I've always been a lover of Winter.  Not to say that I don't enjoy the other seasons, because I do, I think each has a beauty all it's own and pros and cons, but for me the cold, the dark days and the soft glow of candles, screams cozy and warm.

The rain has been coming down non stop for the past two days, and so our meals have mainly consisted of hot, filling soups, like my Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup), which was devoured so quickly that I only got a bowl of it before reaching the bottom of the pan.  It's on the agenda to make next week again.

This time of year also means slowing down, and I know that sounds insane considering it's Christmas and there's gift shopping and baking and family get togethers, but for some reason, it's when I finally feel like I can take a breath and relax.  Anyone else?





Christmas gifts are bought, and wrapped, and under the tree.

I am going to start my baking tomorrow, as you all know we celebrate Christmas both the Portuguese way and the American way.  I grew up opening presents on the 24th and it's always been a huge deal, the table is set with a bunch of different finger foods and we sit around and eat, talk, play games until midnight.

The next morning, we open the stocking gifts and gifts from Santa, I make breakfast and we have a pretty laid back day, having either Christmas lunch or dinner later on.

I'm not sure yet how many people will be over this year, we are waiting to hear back from my brother in law and mother in law.  As it stands it's just us 4 and then my brother, sister in law and nephew.  I'm not complaining one bit, because to be honest, I could do with a quiet small Christmas this year.  There's days that I actually miss our small holidays back when Curt was still active duty.

Anyway, it is very foggy this morning, so even though it's almost 9AM, the house is dark and cold.  One more thing I love about Winter days?  Lighting a fire.

I've taken this time to work on my blog to book, just finished year 2012 and have started 2013.  As I worked through these books, I left out all the Slow Cooking and Cooking Thursday recipes, because I want to put those in a separate book with just recipes and no blog posts.

I may start on that book really soon, and the minute it's available I'll let you all know, in case some of you want to purchase one for yourself.

Now I'm going to go and pop some veggies in a pot to make some soup for lunch, for the kids and I, then crack on with more laundry, give the kitchen a quick clean and at some point force myself out of my warm Cath Kidston PJ's and into some clothes for the day.  :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

{ Moonlight over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan - TLC Book Tour }

About Moonlight Over Manhattan

Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (November 28, 2017)
Sarah Morgan is back with more love and laughter in her acclaimed series, From Manhattan With Love, which Publishers Weekly calls a “sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic experience.” 
Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list—dealing with Madi’s temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.
Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi—how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple—he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there’s nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.
Ethan’s kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all—letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Sarah Morgan

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes lively, sexy contemporary stories for Harlequin.
Romantic Times has described her as ‘a magician with words’ and nominated her books for their Reviewer’s Choice Awards and their ‘Top Pick’ slot. In 2012 Sarah received the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America. She lives near London with her family.

Connect with Sarah

Website | Facebook | Twitter

My Thoughts:

This was such a sweet holiday romance.  Picture if you will, Manhattan and Christmas, adorable dogs and two people trying not to give into their feelings.

It has everything that a romance story needs and more.

Harriet has given herself a challenge, which includes doing something that scares her or makes her uncomfortable, every day in December.  It is this decision that leads her to Ethan's door, and a proposal from him that she should not accept, but does so leading to some really cute moments between them, all surrounded by the beautiful sights and sounds of Christmas.

Now I know that this is the last in the Moonlight over Manhattan series, but they really can be read as stand alone books, and if you love a good cutesy romance book, then you definitely need to give this one a go.

Monday, December 18, 2017

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 12/18/2017 }

Good morning friends and welcome to another Happy Homemaker Monday.

I am so frustrated with myself, because I realize that lately all my blog content is my weekly HHM and a random book review here and there.  It's certainly not what my intent was for my blog when I first started it, but unfortunately it's what has become.  The frustration comes in from the fact that I know I could do better and if I shift my schedule around a bit, here and there, I can make it happen but alas, I haven't yet.

Anyway, my hope for the new year is that I can finally get on track.  The more I work on my blog to book, the more I realize that after we left Arizona, since my husband's retirement, the less blog content I have.  It's quite sad, but I can't do anything to change what has already been, so I can only try and change what is from now on.  *sigh*

Sorry about the little venting, just needed to get that out.  Let's crack on with our HHM. 

Breakfast time....what is on the plate this morning::::
Cup of coffee and two small sausage biscuits.  I don't often have those but it really hit the spot this morning.   

Right now I am::::
I just started a load of laundry, and I also turned on the TV to the Hallmark channel (of course).  There's a Christmas movie playing in the background while I work on this post.      

The weather outside::::
Intense fog this morning and supposedly lasting until around 11am.  It's 30 degrees but feels so much colder out there.  We're also quite excited as there seems to be some snow headed our way this weekend and the next.  It would be truly amazing if we could have a White Christmas. 

Looking around the house::::
It's all cozy and Christmasy.  I love this time of year, truly. 

On today's to do list::::
Cleaning.....Usual kitchen clean up involving dishes and dishwashers and such.  I've been doing laundry so all my folded laundry is currently on my dining table, I need to move that and put it away.  Want to do some quick dusting.  I cleaned Nick's bedroom yesterday, from top to bottom, and I'm hoping to do the same with Jasmine's today.   
Homeschooling.....We have but 3 days left of school before the Winter Break.  Nick has some semester Exams to take so he'll be working on that.  
Cooking....Yesterday I made some Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale soup).  The kids and hubby were out watching the new Star Wars movie, so they filled up on snacks etc.  I was the only one that had the soup but my husband loves it, and so he's popping home for lunch today so that he can enjoy a big bowl of Caldo Verde :)

Currently reading::::
This morning I'll be reviewing B.J. Daniels book "A Cowboy's Legacy" and tomorrow Moonlight Over Manhattan.  I'm currently reading "Just Sit" which is a book all about meditation for a review in January....but for my personal reading pleasure, I'm reading Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon which is part of her Outlander series :) 

On the TV today::::

So bummed out that Outlander is finished.
I'm starting Howard's End today.
Also, end of the month we have some really good period drama series coming up....Little Women and The Minituarist.
On the menu this week::::

Monday - Bacon Cheese Topped Chicken, Mashed Potatoes 
Tuesday - Pepperoni Pizza Bake, Garlic Bread
Wednesday - Chicken strips with mushrooms and tomato sauce, Rice 
Thursday - Beef and Potato Moussaka
Friday - Pasta Alfredo
Saturday - Flatbread Tacos with ranch sour cream
Sunday - Christmas Eve (Sausage Rolls, Fried Chicken Drumettes, Carne Vinha D'alhos [garlic pork bites], Vetkoek, Ham and Chourico Bread, Bolo Rei [King's bread], Chocolate pyramids, fruit cake, Tiramisu, Milk Tart, Cherry Cheese Coffee Cake, Rabanadas [Portuguese french toast], I think that's all but I may be missing something)

If I have a few minutes to myself, I will::::
The Christmas gift blanket is complete, you can see it below.  I'm working on another one now for another gift.

Looking forward to this week::::
I've wrapped all the presents I had on hand, but I do have a few more orders coming in this week, so I'm looking forward to getting it all wrapped and under the tree. 

Favorite photo from the camera::::
Sun rising a few days ago.   

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses::::
I am so incredibly thankful to God for bringing my daughter through this disappointment.  Here's the funny thing, my daughter is completely changed, in a good way.  We feel like we have our little Jasmine back again, it was unbelievable just how much she had become a different person while dating her ex.  He was not good for her at all, and sometimes you don't see it until it's all over.

Though it broke her heart at first, the fact that she came to find out he was cheating on her all along, just made the light bulb go off in her head and she is so happy to be away from him.  We haven't seen her this happy in years.  Thank you Lord!!!

My mother in law had another scare.  She was fighting breast cancer all of last year and finished her treatments just 2 or 3 months ago and was doing well.  Unfortunately she had found another lump and again it turned out to be cancer, but thank God it is localized and not spread.  She is starting radiation soon, so please if you could keep her in your prayers, we would really appreciate it.

A Cowboy's Legacy by B.J Daniels - TLC Book Tour

About Cowboy’s Legacy

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (November 28, 2017)
Nothing will stop a Cahill cowboy from protecting what’s his
After a rocky marriage and even rockier divorce, Sheriff Flint Cahill finally has something good in his life again. Maggie Thompson’s down-to-earth charm and beautiful smile hooked him from the start. When she disappears on the day they plan to start their lives together, all signs point to abduction—and his ex-wife.
Functioning on adrenaline and instinct, Flint must call on his every resource to bring Maggie home before it’s too late. His past and future are blurred. Maggie’s only chance at surviving her abductor and a raging winter storm depends on an old vendetta that could destroy it all. But the Cahills don’t give up easily, and Flint’s love will have to be strong enough to conquer anything, including the unimaginable.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


About B.J. Daniels

NYT and USA Today Bestselling author B.J. Daniels was born in Texas but moved with her family to Montana at the age of five. Her first home was a cabin in the Gallatin Canyon and later a lake house on Hebgen Lake outside of West Yellowstone.
Most of her books are set in Montana, a place she loves. She lives now in a unique part of the state with her husband and three Springer Spaniels.
When she isn’t writing, she loves to play tennis, boat, camp, quilt and snowboard. There is nothing she enjoys more than curling up with a good book.

Connect with B. J. Daniels

Website | Facebook | Twitter

My Thoughts:

The very first thing I noticed about this book, is that it's not the usual romance I was expecting, matter of fact it is a lot more suspenseful than cutesy romantic. 

That's not a bad thing though, because even though at first it threw me a little, I did end up really enjoying it and finding it to be well written.

The book centers around Maggie's disappearance and Flint's race against the clock to find her and bring her home safe.

Flint had been through a messy divorce and he never really thought he would get past it all, or ever find love again.  Then Maggie walked into his life and knocked down the walls he had built around his heart, enough so that he decided to give marriage a second chance.

Until, Maggie disappears right before their wedding and everything seems to point to an abduction, rather than her getting cold feet.  Sheriff Flint is now faced with the thought of losing the woman he loves and having to bend the rules to do whatever it takes to bring her home.  The worst part through it all is knowing that she was taken as revenge against him, by his crazy ex wife.

I really enjoyed the journey and even though most of the book, Maggie and Flint are separated, the love they feel for each other is palpable through every page.

Monday, December 11, 2017

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 12/11/2017 }

Good morning everyone, hope you've had a fantastic weekend.

I was not ready for Monday to roll around, matter of fact I would be extremely happy if this was Friday again.  I know it's ridiculous but I had such a good weekend, very relaxed, filled with family time, crochet and Christmas movies.

But,it's a new week and so we must put one foot in front of the other and keep going, right?  Let's see what we're all up to in our Happy Homemaker Monday.

Breakfast time....what is on the plate this morning::::
I had a cup of coffee and some toast made from the fresh sandwich bread I made yesterday. 

Right now I am::::
I just popped in a load of laundry and made some calls, now I'm quickly getting this post up before getting back into my chores.  I have a dishwasher needing emptying and more dishes needing to go in.    

The weather outside::::
This weather has been absolutely insane, we were at 20 degrees two days ago and today we have a high of 72.  It's making us all a little sick, nothing major but sneezes and dry throats and all that.  Really wish it would pick a temperature and stick with it.  

Looking around the house::::
Still have some Christmas boxes sitting around waiting for the real tree that is coming this weekend.  I have a lot of vacuuming to do because Mr Marley has made quite a mess in both living areas.  I said to my husband yesterday, that it's just like having a toddler again with the toys everywhere and the messes all over LOL

<On today's to do list::::
Cleaning.....Empty dishwasher, refill again.  Sweep kitchen floor.  Wipe down bathroom counters and give the toilets a quick swish around with the brush. 
Homeschooling.....We are almost on Winter Break so we're finishing up the lessons we have and then we can relax for a bit. 
Cooking....My lunches have pretty much consisted of coffee and a sandwich, it's just what I've been feeling like lately.  Dinner will be Meatloaf, Mash and Green Beans.

Currently reading::::
B.J. Daniels book "A Cowboy's Legacy". 

On the TV today::::

Last night's Outlander
Hallmark Christmas Movies 
  On the menu this week::::
Friday I'll be grocery shopping, so I only have meals planned until then. 

Monday - Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli 
Tuesday - Chorizo and Potato Crispy Tacos
Wednesday - Homemade Pizza 
Thursday - Chicken Casserole, Rice
Friday -
Saturday -Ordering pizza for the kids and the nephew, my husband and I and my brother and sister in law are going out to lunch, followed by Christmas Shopping
Sunday -

If I have a few minutes to myself, I will::::
Continue with the blanket, it's coming along really nicely and I'm on the border now, but making it up as I go along which is fun, but also terrifying hahaha 
New recipe I tried, or want to try this week::::

I'll be reviewing the cookbook on Wednesday, and will share with you which recipes I've tried. 

Looking forward to this week::::
Just a quiet week and no more bad news, I am a bit tired of constant stress.   

Favorite photo from the camera::::
Just a sneak peek at the blanket I'm working on. 

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses::::
I was on Pinterest the other day and ran across a quote that stopped me dead in my tracks.  I actually shared it on Facebook.  It's something I've been struggling with my whole life......Worrying.

Why is it that I can't kick myself in the behind and just stop with the worry?  This definitely put it into perspective for me.  Sometimes all it takes is the right quote to come along and you finally get it.  Now I'm not saying that it will happen overnight, but it already got me shifting my thinking which is a good thing.  Hope it helps one of you out there too.


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

{ Decorating for Christmas }

Last year, I had no Christmas mojo.

I felt like I stumbled onto the holiday season, right at the end and figured it was no use decorating.  So I didn't, and I felt bad about it because it didn't quite look like Christmas in my house.


This year, I'm way ahead of the game, and decided that I needed to get going with decorations as soon as possible.


It's no secret that the minute November comes around, I start watching Christmas movies, especially those on the Hallmark Channel.  TV is turned on in the morning and it's a Christmas movie fest all day long.  I absolutely love it.


Last week I pulled out my Christmas boxes and had them just sitting in the corner, waiting for me to get to work.   So, after breakfast yesterday, I turned on the TV to the current movie, and got into the boxes.

It was so much fun decorating and working on the house.  I hadn't felt like that in a long time.  I mentioned on my Happy Homemaker Monday post, that I feel like I don't know who I am anymore because a lot of the things I had so much fun doing, weren't making me happy anymore.

But doing this yesterday, was like going back to the old me and I can't tell you how much I loved every single minute of it.


I took some photos and thought I would show you a little of what I've done so far.



This is one of my favorite pictures :)



My nativity scene is one of my favorite Christmas decorations.  I got the manger many years ago, from Precious Moments, and the little ceramic figurines we bought, I don't even remember where.


For the window treatments, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do, but while looking through my boxes I found a ton of garland, so I used that and then placed some of my cinnamon scented pine cones on top, and little red bow in the middle.



Love the result and I didn't have to spend any money, just used what I already had on hand :)



My Christmas village is once again on the fireplace.  It's funny, before we moved to this house I always thought I had nowhere too many buildings because every place I tried to put them in, in our previous homes, always seemed too cluttered.


Here with this fireplace, I feel like I don't have nowhere near enough, so I guess it's a good excuse to purchase a few more pieces right?


The house is definitely feeling very festive and it's keeping me in the holiday spirit.

Earlier today I did our white Christmas tree in the living room, and then next weekend we will get a real tree for the den.  I'll take pictures tomorrow morning and show you in a new post. 

I hope you enjoyed a little sneak peek at my home and I would love to see yours, so if you've already decorated, let me know in the comments so I can come by :)

I'm off to start on dinner, which tonight is going to be Meatball subs.  Have a wonderful night friends.

Monday, December 04, 2017

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 12/04/2017 }

Good morning friends, and a very Happy Monday to you all :)

I can tell you that I'm quite glad to see this new week come up.  Last week was just a hit of bad news after another.  I don't know what it is, or what is going on, but I was having this conversation with my husband and I was telling him that it feels like there is constantly some sort of stress looming above our heads and I've about had enough of it.

It's interfered with my life, my health, my mental well being and I sometimes sit and wonder where the old Sandra has disappeared to because I would surely love to have her back.

Anyway, let's just concentrate on the week ahead and go from there shall we?  

Breakfast time....what is on the plate this morning::::
Nothing at the moment, I just had some coffee around 6am, but I'm thinking I'll probably have Weetabix.  My stomach hasn't been feeling too well since last night's dinner, I actually spent most of the night feeling quite sick to my stomach and having horrible heartburn.  For some reason, every once in a while, I will eat green peppers and they will do this to me.

Right now I am::::
Sitting on the couch, blanket over my legs, and typing up this post.  I also changed the template a bit this morning and have been messing around with that.   

The weather outside::::
60 degrees at 7am, and we'll be hitting 80 this afternoon.  Seriously?  The rest of the week, the highs will be in the 50's.     

Looking around the house::::
Those Christmas boxes that were sitting here last week Monday?  Yeah they're still there, I haven't made it to them yet.  Hoping to do that today so I can get all these put away.  I hate clutter.   

On today's to do list::::
Cleaning.....Empty dishwasher, refill again.  Sweep and mop kitchen floor.  Bathrooms. Living rooms.
Homeschooling.....Have to help Nick with a Critical Response Essay.  He hates writing essays and I don't blame him, so I have to sit with him and literally force the kid to keep writing or it never gets done.
Cooking....Not sure, but with my stomach feeling the way it does, I think for lunch I may just have toast or chicken soup.  Dinner will be one of my husband's favorites and requested by him for today....SOS (ground beef with gravy, served over bread) and a salad.   

Currently reading::::
About to start B.J. Daniels book "A Cowboy's Legacy". 

On the TV today::::

Last night's Outlander
General Hospital.
Started watching Vikings, which I've been wanting to watch for years and never got around to it.  Really enjoying it so far.
On the menu this week::::
I'm hoping to start recording my weekly meals again this week.  In the meantime, I did put up a Grocery Haul on my Youtube Channel, so go on and check it out if you're interested :)

Monday - SOS 
Tuesday - Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti
Wednesday - Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos, Mexican Rice, Pressure Cooker Refried Beans
Thursday - Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Friday - Ajo Chicken, Rice, Steamed Broccoli
Saturday - Meatballs Sandwiches, Potato Wedges
Sunday - Chorizo Potato Crispy Tacos

If I have a few minutes to myself, I will::::
Continue working on my crochet blanket.  I'm making a blanket for my sister in law for Christmas, and I've been working on it this weekend while I watch TV.
New recipe I tried, or want to try this week::::

There are a few new ones that I'll be trying, from my new cookbooks that I'll be reviewing at the end of the week.

Looking forward to this week::::
I'm just hoping for an uneventful week with no more bad news.  Last week felt like one hit after another.  

Favorite photo from the camera::::
Beautiful sunrise a few days ago

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses::::
Definitely need this right now.

After almost 4 years together, planning a future, buying things for their house and all that, my daughter's boyfriend decided to end everything with her.  She was devastated, but after a few days she is doing much better, moving on, spending time with friends and understanding that maybe it wasn't meant to be and she deserves much better.  If you could keep her in your prayers, I really would appreciate it.

My mother in law has been fighting breast cancer and could really use some prayers too.