Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Happier Christmas Post!

I know my last post about Christmas was a little sad, but I promise you that we had a really great Christmas. Low key and simple, but a really great and memorable Christmas! Our holiday was mainly centered around food, especially on Christmas Eve. We made a delicious breakfast for dinner with homemade sausage balls, stuffed cinnamon roll french toast, and Cracker Barrel inspired hashbrown casserole. It was so so good! For Michael's hashbrown casserole recipe, simply google "copycat cracker barrel hashbrown casserole recipe." It was an amazingly perfect dish for any occasion, and it makes a lot and costs next to nothing to make! My dish was the stuffed cinnamon roll french toast, which is very good and very easy as well. It's perfect for everyone and every age, and there's so many combinations for the stuffing! Here is the recipe: Pillsbury Large Cinnamon Rolls Cream Cheese, Softened Stawberry Preserves (or any preserves, jam, or fresh fruit you want) Eggs Milk Place the cinnamon rolls close together in a 9-inch round pan like below.

While the cinnamon rolls cook, mix softened cream cheese and jam. There's no science to this...it's all based on your taste. I used 8 oz cream cheese, which was way too much for 5 cinnamon rolls.

Once the rolls are cooked, let them cool for approximately 20 minutes. Cut the rolls in half leaving a top and bottom. Spread the cream cheese and jam on the bottom and replace top to make a sandwich.

Place butter in a pan and heat to medium, dip your stuffed cinnamon rolls in eggs and milk and pan fry the cinnamon rolls to your liking. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the rolls and cover with hot syrup!
On Christmas Day, we grilled steaks in the snow and ate them with green bean casserole and baked sweet potatoes. We shared my pumpkin roll for dessert. I did not make the pumpkin roll, it was a Whole Foods special!!! After our Christmas Dinner, we opened our only Christmas gift to each other. Well... it wasn't really wrapped, so I guess we didn't open it, but it was a big secret to both of us. Since we didn't buy Christmas gifts, we wanted to do something fun and surprising for Christmas, and this is what we came up with: Our 5th Anniversary is this May, and we could not decide what we wanted to do, but we both knew we wanted to travel somewhere we have never been. Originally we wanted to travel to Europe, but the time and money it takes to go overseas will probably be postponed to our 10th anniversary. So last week, we each picked 5 places in the states we really want to visit in May for our anniversary, and of our picks, we narrowed down our favorite destinations to 5 places. We made a pact to put the 5 places on paper and draw our 5th anniversary destination on Christmas Day! Our 5 destinations were 1. Seattle and Portland - Michael's 1st pick, My 3rd pick 2. Las Vegas - Michael's pick, I prayed that we would not draw Vegas! 3. Key West - Michael and I both picked Key West 4. San Francisco and Napa - Michael wasn't too enthusiastic, My 2nd pick 5.New York and Boston - Michael's 3rd pick, My first pick! Here are the pieces of paper ready to be drawn!!!!

Michael did the honors of drawing our destination. We went through the places he didn't pick first:

And number one.....Las Vegas! Whoo Hoo! Thank You Jesus!

And number two....Key West! Kinda sad but we went to the beach on our honeymoon

And number three.....Seattle/Portland! It would have been cold anyway!

And now we are down to my two favorite places....I can't lose....and the second runner-up was San Francisco/Napa Valley

We are going to New York and Boston!!!!! My first pick! I am so excited! We have never been to either city, and I think we are going to have an awesome time! We are already booking our hotel in New York tonight! It's official and there's no turning back!

Merry Christmas to us and cheers to celebrating a very happy marriage!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Different Christmas

It's Christmas morning, and I am sitting in our dark living room with Scarlett snoozing by my side. Michael is still in bed because I guess there's no real reason to get up when there's no children tugging at you to wake up and see what Santa has brought them! I would be lying if I told you this time of year is truly one that makes me want children - it's the rest of the year that I need convincing! This Christmas doesn't feel like Christmas. It doesn't resemble the Christmas they show in movies, and it doesn't feel like the many years of Christmas I have experienced in the past. We have been so busy with life, and we knew we were moving at the end of this month so we decided against putting up a Christmas tree. There are no presents in pretty wrapping paper either. Our presents will be new furniture and a memory foam mattress. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about a new bed, but the sound of paper shredding and bows being ripped off giant boxes sounds a little more like Christmas morning! There's no room full of family centered around a giant table waiting on Christmas dinner, hurrying up to devour a meal that took hours to prepare because everyone knows opening presents comes right after dessert. It's just Michael and me with our two steaks, a sweet potoato for each of us, some green beans, and our individually wrapped desserts we picked up yesterday at Whole Foods. Sure, I'm a little sad because Christmas this year isn't Christmas like I have always known it to be. I think there will always be a piece of me that will be sad on Christmas because my parents are divorced now, though I know that their separation is a good decision the other 364 days of the year. Knowing Michael no longer gets to celebrate Christmas with his dad also makes this day difficult. Our quiet Christmas this year makes his absence more real to me today. The point I am slowly getting to is that for the first time in my life, I have not experienced Christmas like everyone around me seems to be experiencing it. This is not a Christmas that would be featured in a hit holiday movie or sung about in a Christmas Carol because there is no Christmas Tree or lights, no family centered around a ham and pumpkin pie, and no children waiting impatiently for Santa to eat his milk and cookies. It is Michael, Scarlett, and me in our little apartment on a quiet rainy day, and I am writing while Michael sleeps Christmas morning away! BUT...here is the good part - just because we are not experiencing the grand Christmas we are supposed to be having or have had in the past, I believe we have both experienced something a little more meaningful. For the first time in our marriage, Michael and I went to church to celebrate Christmas. It was an amazing service that spoke to the essence of what I have been feeling lately. Our pastor explained that no matter what type of Christmas you celebrate, the Christmas season always heightens feelings of stress, loneliness, and disconnection. (I have been feeling a lot of loneliness lately)! And so perfectly he pointed out that the night Jesus was born, everyone in the Christmas story was also experiencing loneliness, isolation, and stress. Mary and Joseph were both away from home and exausted from traveling. To add to their isolation and to Mary's pain, there was no one to take them in for the night and give them a comfortable place to rest and for Mary to give birth. They were alone in the world about to give birth to a king in no other place but a manger (I don't know about you, but this is the time for me to stop complaining about my Christmas this year)! I have never thought about the Christmas story this way, and I never realized how lonely of a story it is for all involved - it is not a glamorous baby story and the sermon taught me that God did this on purpose. Though Mary and Joseph were all alone in this stressful situation, God was there the entire time, ensuring the safety and security during the most important birth in history. Not even a king experienced a birth like most of us have experienced; he was born in some very desolate conditions, but God delivered Him to safety and to save us! This Christmas, I am realizing that no matter how my ideas and expectations of Christmas make me feel because I am not with my family and have no presents to open, God is right here and I am thankful to be getting closer to him every day. He has given me a best friend to share my life with and a wonderful baby girl who I have the pleasure of cuddling and walking every day! It's a struggle for me not to let my loneliness get the best of me, but this Christmas I am realizing that God is my family, and he will never leave me. That's a pretty awesome Christmas gift!!! No matter what type of Christmas you are having this year, I hope you are all blessed! This is a day to remember the true purpose of this life and the gift we have all been given - the birth of Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kitchen Progress

The kitchen is coming along nicely! Here are some before pics and pictures of the kitchen that were taken today after we got the appliances delivered and the lighting hung. A major cleaning will be taking place tomorrow on the carpets and floors, and then we will be ready to put the finishing touches into place. I can't wait to reveal the countertops and backsplash once Eric finishes it. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Saturday, December 18, 2010

McGreevey Home Makeover!

Officially, on December 5, Michael and Sean inherited the house Michael grew up in just outside of Birmingham. To make a very long story short, when their dad Kevin passed away last year, he had sold the house in a lease-purchase agreement that was supposed to end in the house being sold this October. The deal fell through, and the boys inherited a very bad taste-specific and outdated home that needed lots and lots of work before going on the market. I think for all involved, this has been a stressful and tiring experience, but with seeing the amazing changes in just a couple of weeks, this is becoming an exciting experience that we have all learned from. You know, it really is amazing how God works. Quite a few times, I have wondered why we have ended up in Birmingham, and I think that it is perfect that Michael and I are here to help work on the house and get it sold so Michael and Sean can move on. We are also very lucky to have our good friend Eric here in Birmingham who has done amazing work on the house. He truly has a gift when it comes to construction, and he loves what he does! We began working on the house on December 7, and with Sean coming down to help this week, the house looks amazing so far! Michael and I are planning on moving into the house at the end of the month, so we can stage the house and get it sold more quickly. I think I have lost count of how many times we have moved in the past 4 1/2 years! I am pretty excited about this one though! Here are some before and after pictures of the house 10 days into construction: Photobucket
We have not tackled the outside yet, but as you can see, it has lots of potential!


Welcome to the awful kitchen and hideous red cabinets!
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The only things worth keeping are the wood floors and black granite
From ugly red to beautiful white! The boys were up 'til 3 a.m. painting these cabinets last night!
So much better already!
Here is the basement with all of our new light fixtures ready to be installed! The hole in the ceiling allowed Eric to add a gas line, so we now will have a gas stove rather than an electric one!
Our lovely outdated master bathroom with beautiful brass hardware and "mannequin" colored cabinets as Sean so lovingly called them!
Eric will be installing a new window over the jetted tub
First coat of paint going on!
The first bedroom I painted! Whoo Hoo!
The dark cave-like master bedroom with great ceilings
First coat of natural gray paint, and the room looks so much lighter and bigger!
This is the once hideous dining room. Trust me, it looks so much worse in person!
Looking better already!


This hallway to the basement was the same color as the dining room.


Our newly painted living room.

All of these pictures were taken a few days ago, and the boys have already done so much more. The master bed and bath are near completion, and the new light fixtures in the rooms look amazing. Michael and I are going back to work some more tomorrow, so look for more pictures!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Trip to Atlanta!

Sorry it's been so long since I have written anything! I was on vacation for a week and a half, and I got to spend lots of quality time with Michael's family and my mom who came to Birmingham for a week. We shopped a lot of course! I laugh because we used to shop at Dillard's and boutiques and now it's antique stores and flea markets! I actually have more fun bargain hunting with my mom than I ever did all those years at the mall! We also took a trip to Atlanta and visited the Coca-Cola Museum and Georgia Aquarium. This is the second time this year I have visited the aquarium, and it is amazing! It was fun to get to take my mom. We also went to Atlantic Station and IKEA!!! WOW I love that store! I loved everything so much, I am making Michael rent a truck and take me back for Christmas! They have thought of everything for every room and the furniture and decor is so so reasonable. My mom and aunt want to drive back to Birmingham and go back this spring, so I may get to go for the third time soon!

Mom and I in front of the designer bottles at the Coca-Cola Museum

Hanging out on the 2007 American Idol sofa

Mom petting the stingrays

Hanging out with the cute penguins - my favorites!

I loved this picture that my mom took!