Anchors Aweigh : October 2013

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A Love/Hate Relationship

I have a love/hate relationship with a few things, like working out...and chocolate. Another happens to be Halloween. Parker and I both agree I am kind of like the Halloween Scrooge. I love most holidays- Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July, you name it. Halloween, however, is one I can't seem to get too jazzed up about. I don't completely dislike the holiday at all. It's a love/hate relationship.

Hate Strongly Dislike
The Scary: I can be such a baby. Parker isn't even allowed to mention zombies close to bedtime or I might have nightmares. Seriously, I have the tolerance for scary things of a five year old.
The Suggestive: "Halloween is the one day a year where girls can dress provocatively and get away with it". I am not sure why this is a rule. I'm not loving it.
The Mean: Growing up, I had a black cat. We always made sure we put him inside for Halloween so bad things wouldn't happen to him. Some people like to do bad things to black cats on Halloween, and I couldn't hate this more.


Love
The Candy: Well, that was a given. Who doesn't love eating all that candy? When you're a kid, it's so fun to go through the candy and see what goodness you managed to scoop up this year. As an adult, it's fun to pass out candy to the kids and tell them how neat their little costumes are. 
The Kids: How precious is it to see kiddos get so excited about dressing up as their favorite character? You get to be a princess or a soldier or, in my case, Big Bird. Don't worry, my twin sister got to be the Cookie Monster. That's a red letter day for any kid. 
The Costumes: Costumes are fun for kids and adults alike, and I love seeing what cute ideas couples come up with or groups of friends decide to band together as. People can get pretty darn creative! 
The Pumpkins: I love that everyone carves pumpkins. Seeing pumpkins on doorsteps is the best. It represents cool weather and the Fall spirit that we all get into. 

Is anyone else partially like the Halloween Scrooge? I am so excited to pass out candy to kids tonight and oooh and ahhh over their costumes. To me, that's Halloween!

Happy Halloween from our little pumpkin!


Yes, she absolutely hated that costume. I can't blame her.

It's A Twin Thing

If you have been reading this blog long, you know that I have a twin. If you know me personally, you know that my twin and I are inseparable. We talk on the phone 3-4 times a day, which we didn't realize wasn't normal until our husbands kindly pointed it out. They try to understand our relationship as best they can, but they'll never truly get it. Nobody will. She is the only person in the world who has truly been through everything with me. From wombies to roomies to maids of honor, we have been through it all together. I could write a novel and still not explain our relationship to the rest of the world, but I can answer some of the lingering questions most people have when they find out we are twins.


So you want to know about twins...

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions:

If you pinch me, will she feel it?
I started with the dumbest question, but it's one of the most popular. No I can't feel it when you pinch her. But you'll feel it when I pinch you for pinching her. Side note: twins stick up for one another. This got us in trouble in elementary school.

Can you tell me what she's thinking?
This one isn't a resounding no like the first question. Can I read her mind? No, but can I tell you what she is thinking sometimes? Yes. We have the same life experiences, the same favorite movies, and the same inside jokes. If you say something to us, it will likely trigger the same thoughts. When someone asks us a question, we may respond at the same time with the same words.

Do you have your own language?
Obviously not now, but my parents say we used to talk gibberish to each other as babies and we really seemed to understand each other.

Are your other sisters twins?
We have two other sisters, so that is what brings on this question. The answer is no. Do you know what the chances of that would be? Since identical twins are about 1 in 285, the chances of having them twice in a row aren't high, to say the least. Fun fact: all four of us look so similarly that we could be quadruplets.

Are you identical?
Yes? Honestly, we don't know. My parents didn't have the test done when we were babies, and that's okay. We are pretty sure that we are identical, but we will never find out for sure. If we got the tests done and found out we were fraternal, we would be a little disappointed. That would also mean we would have lied to hundreds of people since we always just say we are identical. We'd rather not have that on our consciences ;)

And here are the commonly asked questions that twins kind of hate:

Are you twins?
No, we just have the same face. Yes we're twins!

How do we tell you apart?
This is an honest question, but it's one twins really hate being asked. We are different people and if you take the time to get to know us, you will be able to tell the difference easily. Our husbands have never not been able to tell us apart...except for when Parker came home from his bachelor party, but we will save that story for another day.

If I tell you something, will you not tell your twin?
(rolls eyes) We think it's so funny when friends make unflattering comments about the other one. It isn't something that happens all the time or anything, but we will always tell the other one. Always. We respect the wishes of our parents and husbands if they ask us to keep something to ourselves, but if others ask just so they can gossip about the other one, forget about it.

And lastly, the most commonly asked question and the hardest to answer:

What is it like to be a twin?
From the outside looking in, you can't understand it. From the inside looking out, you can't explain it. I can't put into words what it is like to be a twin. I can tell you it is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I can tell you that having a built in best friend to go through life with is the gift that keeps on giving. I can tell you that it took me twice as long to write this post as it should have because I took a break to Facetime with her. I can tell you that she means everything to me. She's my person.



Chicken a la King

Chicken a la king has always been a family favorite. It was my twin sister's favorite meal growing up, and I always loved it too. Parker had never eaten it before we got married, so maybe it's not too common. Regardless, it's delicious! It's southern comfort food and just feels like home.

Ingredients:
3 T butter
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half & half (or cut 1/2 cup of half & half and add 1/2 cup white cooking wine in its place)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
1/4 cup pimentos
biscuits

Directions:
1. Melt butter in medium sauce pan or top of double broiler. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Blend flour, salt, and pepper with a whisk. Continue stirring and cooking until smooth and bubbly.
3. Add half & half and chicken broth and stir thoroughly. If thicker sauce is desired, add 2 T cornstarch blended with 1/4 cup cold water.
4. Add chicken and pimentos and stir until thoroughly combined.
5. Serve over warm biscuits and enjoy!



Margs, Pups, and 21st Birthday Lovin'

This weekend we were back on the road again! My little sister turned 21, and we wouldn't have missed the celebration! It was a chill weekend with family. And really, those are the best kind. Traveling makes the weekends zip by even faster than they usually do, but traveling also means we have loved ones just a car ride away. Parker and I keep telling each other that it won't be this way this time next year. We will be living states away, and we won't get to come home for birthdays and special occasions. Getting to spend a year in Texas has been such a gift, and we sure are trying to make the most of it! Aka- lots of family time and traveling.

Natalie chose Chuy's for her birthday dinner (Texans reading this blog are all nodding their heads in approval), so it was margaritas for everyone!


                                                                         
After we stuffed our faces with some of the world's most delicious Mexican food, we waddled on home for some family time and presents. Oh, and birthday cake. There is something to be said for birthday cake. The old fashioned stuff with writing on the top and frosting in the shape of flowers is hard to beat. I have a sweet tooth and unfortunately have passed this onto Parker since getting married, so birthday cake was the best.

Mother and daughter celebrating 21!
Parker and I with Natalie and a few of her birthday gifts- who doesn't love more workout gear?
How cute is this canvas my baby sister painted?
And of course, a weekend wouldn't be complete without a little pupper lovin'. Jenny was in heaven playing with her cousin Bella all weekend. It's Sunday evening as I am typing this, and my furry child is out cold. That's what I call a successful weekend ;)


Jenny thinks humans are there for her own personal comfort.
Party animal

Another weekend is in the books, and it was perfect. Family makes the world go round in my eyes. We hope you had a great weekend too!

Life Lessons From The Furball

Yesterday was a little stressful. As the 5:00 hour rolled around and I finished up those last few emails, I looked down to see sweet Jenny sitting at my feet. She knows she is supposed to get a walk when I finish work (her biological clock is impeccable), and I could tell she was trying her hardest to be patient. One little look at her, and my day was turned around. It got me thinking. I really have learned so much from our furball, some being life lessons that I need to remember, and some being life lessons that she would want us all to remember.

Life lessons from a furball, as told from Jenny's perspective

No matter how hard your day has been, you can always turn it around. Take me on a walk and I promise you'll feel much better.


You can never be too careful. Those stairs might lead to a black hole that will suck you in forever.


As long as you're cute, you can get away with anything. Just cower and pretend to be sorry. It gets them every time.

Find someone you love, and never let them go. Take kitty for example. I loved her and took her everywhere I went...for a week. 


Love means licking your human's face after licking your butt. Humans don't see it this way, but I promise it's the case.

Hold your loved ones close. Snuggle up and infringe on their personal space as much as you can.


Be a pleasant member of the family to come home to. When the humans open the door, get that tail waggin!


Pets can be the best medicine, and it's amazing what those little furballs can teach us complicated humans. She may not be able to solve the world's problems, and she may never stop licking her butt, but she will always provide us with all the love she can give. Furry friends really are the best. :)

Also, Jenny wants to wish a very happy birthday to the best aunt a pupper could have! We love you Nat!

God Is Writing Your Love Story

The idea for this post came from a late night talk with Parker one evening. The concept that God is writing our love story... it's so interesting and so magnificent when you dive right into it. There is no doubt in our minds that God designed us for each other, but I also believe he designed this specific journey for us to go on. Did this journey include settling down in a suburban neighborhood and having kids after one or two blissful years of marriage? Absolutely not. That is a beautiful love story, but it's not the one God had planned for us.

You see, there is this stigma with 20 somethings. We are expected to graduate college, get married right away, and have kids when we are 25 years old (at least this is the mentality in the south) .... 25 years old?! Some of us are just figuring out who we are. Not only is getting married and settling down viewed as ideal, but it is viewed as a surefire one way ticket to happiness. That's so silly! It's definitely one way to do it. If that's the story God has written for you, it's a beautiful one, but every journey is unique.

Where will Parker and I be in 10 or 20 years? Only God knows. Where will you be in 10 or 20 years? Only God knows. We can plan and plan and plan down to the very last detail of our lives, but God holds the pen, and He has already decided the path each of us are meant to take.

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." -Proverbs 16:9

It is hard to let God have control. It is very easy to look at what someone else has and automatically want more. Single women want a husband, married women want children, and it just never ends. When things don't happen for you as soon as they happen for others, do you think it's because God forgot about you? Do you think He just got busy writing the perfect fairytale for someone else and decided to come back to you later? It's easy to think that you have been let down, but nothing could be further from the truth.

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart." -Jeremiah 1:5

He had a plan for us from the start. We were all fearfully and wonderfully formed into the people He designed us to be. It's hard to wait for something that others seem to attain so easily. You may feel like you are the only person on earth still single or the only wife that isn't pregnant, but God hasn't forgotten about you. He created you, He loves you, and His plans for you are far greater than anything you could have created yourself.



Pumpkin Bread

Have you ever tried pumpkin bread? This was my first time making it, but oh my gosh was it amazing. Parker took one bite, looked at me, and said "blog worthy". Of course I had to laugh because that is what baking and cooking has come to around here, but seriously, this bread is a must bake for fall. We couldn't stop eating it!

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and oil.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients (flour through salt) and then stir it into wet mixture. Add pumpkin and water, and stir until well combined.
4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Option: To make this more of a dessert, frost the top of the loaf with cream cheese icing.



Enjoy!

We Had A Ball

This past weekend was the Navy Ball, and we had such a blast! This was actually our 7th consecutive Navy Ball to attend together, but we always get excited for them. Time with each other and friends was great, dinner was fine considering we went in with very low expectations, and dancing the night away was perfection once those heels came off. Parker even humored me and agreed to a few pictures. (Man logic is that we have taken pictures at all the Navy Balls before, so those should count for future Balls as well. Um, no.)


Somebody was looking sharp!


Happy birthday, Navy!

And just for fun, here's a throwback from every ball we have been to. Yes, I have repeated dresses multiple times. No shame- Parker has been quite the outfit repeater as well ;)


It was a great night spent with my favorite date!

Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

Happy Friday!! This week was so eventful for both Parker and me in our jobs, so we are more than ready for a couple of days off. On this lovely Friday, I thought I would answer some questions that sweet Rebecca from Caravan Sonnet asked me when she nominated me for the Sunshine award. There are a lot of little "awards" that float around Blogland, but I think the Sunshine Award might be my favorite. This is an award given to a blogger who brings sunshine to the world. How cute is that?! She came up with some really fun questions that I am excited to answer.

Here we gooooo!

1. What is a dream that you hope will come true in your life?
Being a mother. I feel like God created me to be a wife and a mother, and I pray I get the opportunity to be both. We aren't at a point in our lives where it makes sense to have babies right this minute, but we aren't too far away from that time either. I am excited to see what God has planned.

2. Do you have a nickname? If so, what is the story behind it?
Little girl Chrissy. My twin sister and Nana call me this sometimes. I interned for Enterprise Rent A Car one summer, and a woman got upset because I gave her a car that she didn't want. She went in to complain to my manager, and she yelled across the room "Little girl Chrissy over there tried to give me a small car!". My boss and coworkers were all holding back laughter, and it became a joke for a few of my family members. 

3. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?
Hmmm, that's tough! Maybe Caroline or Elizabeth? Honestly, I really love the name my parents gave me!

4. What is the strangest thing you believed when you were a child?
I was convinced that I had cancer as a child. Every time my hair fell out, I thought I had cancer. I went to have a serious talk with my mom one day to break the news of my self-diagnosed illness, and she informed me that chemotherapy is what makes your hair fall out, not the disease itself. She did a good job of holding back her laughter in spite of her hypochondriac 8 year old.

5. What is the most recent compliment you have received and treasured? Why?
That's really hard! We all love getting compliments, but I think for me, compliments mean more coming from certain people. I love it when Parker tells me I am supportive and his rock through the difficulties of flight school, and I love it when my parents tell me they are proud of me.

6. What do you think about more than anything else? 
Babies... or what I am going to cook for dinner.

7. Where is your favorite place to go in your home town?
Easy, my grandparents' house!

8. What is your favorite word?
Love. I know this makes me a total cheese ball, but I love telling people I love them, and I love hearing it from the people that love me. Second favorite word: Jenny.

9. Who is your hero and why?
My parents- they emulate true selflessness every day, and there isn't one thing they wouldn't do for my sisters and me. 

 10. What has been the most terrifying moment in your life and why?
I don't think it has happened yet. Depressing, moving right along...

11. What has been your best/favorite vacation and why?
Greece! Experiencing another culture and country as beautiful as Greece was once in a lifetime. 



And my nominees are (choosing only 11 was hard!)...


Here are your questions! Can't wait to read your answers!

1. If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be and why?
2. What is your all-time favorite TV show? *Bonus points if you say Friends ;)
3. What is one talent you are thankful for?
4. We all know I am obsessed with babies. What are your favorite baby names?
5. What is your favorite holiday of the year?
6. What advice would you give the 12 year old version of yourself? For example, I would tell myself to put down the clunky doc martins and wear a shoe actually made for a girl, but I digress.
7. Name three things you can't live without.
8. If you could relive any moment of your life, what would it be and why?
9. If you only had $20 to spend at Target, to which section would you go?
10. What is one thing most people do not know about you?
11. What is one fashion trend you wish would come back in style. For example, overalls. Those babies were so comfortable!



The Boy Behind The Blog: October Edition

Parker was a trooper yet again when I asked him to answer this month's Boy Behind the Blog questions! Then again, it would be hard to resist when your wife threatens to stop cooking dinner, right? Kidding kidding. That didn't happen and Parker oh so graciously answered these five questions for me.

Questions and Answers (my responses to his answers are in blue):

1. Describe yourself in 5 words.
Christian, husband, Aggie, pilot, awesome... in that order
I love that he put them in order and placed Christian above husband- that's how it should be! (and the awesome thing- well, that's Parker for ya!)


2. What is your biggest fear?
Failure
True

3. What is your favorite candy?
Reeses PB Cups, but it kind of depends on the day.
The other day, I bought a Reese's PB cup at the grocery store and stuck it in his lunch one day, and you would have thought he'd won the lottery. Simple surprises do the trick for this guy.

4. What was the best Halloween costume you've ever worn?
Michael Phelps, just because Chelsea and I got to match
Since Parker's last name is Phelps, the Michael Phelps thing seemed appropriate. We both dressed up as Olympians (I was beach volleyball player Misty May Treanor) for a Halloween party in college.


5. Who is your favorite football team?
Aggies
well, duh :)

That's all folks!

Be A Best Friend

A couple of weeks ago, someone mentioned that it seems like Parker and I are always having fun and that "it's almost like we're best friends". I had to laugh when I heard this because honestly, that is exactly what it is.

Parker is my best friend, and I am his.


Marriage is a funny thing. You can go into it with expectations, but you really have no idea what it's going to be like until you're thrown into the adventure. Marriage has been idealized by so many, myself included. I have been told it seems like Parker and I have the perfect marriage, and that's so funny to me. What constitutes the perfect marriage? A home-cooked meal on the table every night? Nope, I have literally served Parker macaroni and cheese with cut-up hotdogs before. Sex every night? Ha! Full time jobs, traveling, etc. make that expectation unrealistic. Always agreeing on everything? Oh please, we argue about the weather. The point is, at the end of the day it's a relationship. We argue, we disagree, I cry, he gets frustrated, but good grief we have a blast! The good parts outweigh the hard parts in every way.


We love our perfectly imperfect relationship.

After all is said and done, if we weren't truly best friends, this just wouldn't work. To me, marriage is about hanging out at home making up the words to songs. Marriage is late night pillow talks that cause you to wake up exhausted, but that neither of you would replace for that extra 1-2 hours of sleep. Marriage is praying together and watching the other one grow closer to God. Marriage is falling more and more in love with your best friend every single day. 

It's not always easy, but it's always worth it. I think the great thing about marriage is there is no set way to do it. You have to figure out what works for you as a couple. How you communicate, how you disagree, how you get through the tough times- there is no standard. We aren't always prepared for what life throws at us, but there is no one I would rather have by my side as we figure out this crazy adventure together. 



Light Banana Pudding

Banana pudding is a popular dessert at my house. It is one of Parker's very favorites, so I try to make it somewhat frequently. I have used a few different recipes, but the minute I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. It's made with healthier ingredients than normal banana pudding, and it couldn't have been easier to make. Honestly, I will probably never use another recipe again. This one was too easy and too delicious!

Ingredients:
1 large box (6 servings) instant vanilla pudding
2 cups fat-free milk
1 cup vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup lite Cool Whip
4 bananas, sliced
about 60 Nilla Wafers

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, mix together milk and pudding with an electric mixer about 2 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the yogurt and Cool Whip.
2. In the bottom of a 2 qt. dish, arrange 1/3 bananas. Spoon 1/3 pudding mixture over bananas and top with 1/3 Nilla wafers. Repeat twice until you have three layers of bananas, pudding, and Nilla wafers.
3. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.



Enjoy!

It Was Almost Upset Weekend

It's no secret that Parker and I absolutely love Aggie football. Turn on any college football game for that matter, and we will watch. Saturday was a weird day for college football. By Saturday evening, people were calling it "upset weekend". Penn State upset Michigan in overtime, Missouri upset Georgia, marking the first time Missouri has beaten a top 10 team on the road in 32 years, and UT upset OU. None of these games were even supposed to be close! The Aggies were set to play Ole Miss at 7:30 Saturday night, and it was supposed to be a fairly easy win....supposed to be.

We had our first football party of the season and invited a few fellow Aggies over to watch the game, let the pups play, and eat copious amounts of food. Here are a few pictures from the game that almost gave us all a heart attack.


Thanks for the pretty smile, Parker

 


The game was close all evening, and finally in the last few minutes of the 4th quarter, it was a tied game. I think Aggies across America were freaking out, because at 38-38 with just seconds to go and the ball in our possession, it was either win with a field goal or go into overtime. We all literally held our breath as our new kicker lined up for the field goal. He made it though! Texas A&M won 41-38, and we were so relieved! The Aggies seriously gave me a cardio work-out Saturday night, but at least they pulled it off.

We are so glad it wasn't upset weekend across the board, but it seemed like there were definitely more upsets than normal on Saturday. Texas A&M takes on Auburn next week (who beat Ole Miss two weeks ago), so let's get it together please Aggies.

Did anyone else spend their Saturday almost exclusively watching football and eating goodies? No shame, no regrets :)

World Famous Homemade Salsa

I hope you are all having a fabulous Saturday! I have a special treat and a fabulous blogger to introduce to you today. Marianne from Staying Grounded in Faith and Family is one of the sweetest ladies around, and she posts amazing recipes and DIY cleaning solutions that have me thinking I need to up my domestic rating a notch. Today, she is sharing her world-famous homemade salsa recipe.
Take it away, Marianne!
......................................

Salsa... A Recipe People Will Pay You For!
No kidding!  In the past two months, my family has had more than one person, offer us money for a jar of our "famous" salsa!  Is it really famous?  I think it is!  It is fantastic!!!  So fantastic, that the entire reason my husband and I have a garden (other than asparagus and raspberries) is for the ingredients for salsa.  Last year we canned 96 jars and we ran out two weeks ago...sad day!  We give it as gifts, I cook with it and we eat it...A LOT!!!!

My mouth is watering as I type, because I have our first batch on the stove, and now I am going to share my family recipe with you...and you don't even have to pay me!  You.Are.Welcome.

Lets break it down.  It's Salsa time!  Feel free to dance a little while you make the salsa, it makes canning SO much more fun!

Start with:

8 cups chopped tomatoes (skinned first)...Need directions on skinning tomatoes?  No problem, let me know!  I have directions for that too!!

2 cups chopped white onion
2 whole green peppers, chopped

Some of the Necessary Veggies

Chopped Green Peppers

Eight Cups of Tomatoes

My Cry Baby...Cutting Onions

Tomatoes, Green Peppers, and Onions
Take these three ingredients and add them to your stock pot.  I typically peel and skin my tomatoes a day or two before I make the salsa, so some of the water comes off.  I prefer a thicker salsa.  This is your preference!

Next take:

8-16 jalapeƱo peppers, depending on "hotness" level
-we typically do 12 peppers and we mix them with yellow peppers, red cherry bombs, and jalapeƱos.  I cut them in half and take out most of the seeds.  Wear rubber gloves!!!

8 cloves garlic
2 small cans tomato paste
1 cup sugar
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon alum
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons salt

Ready to Mix it Up
Process all of the above ingredients together until smooth.  We use a Ninja blender, but you can use a hand blender or a food processor too!

Add the blended mixture to your tomatoes/green peppers/onions. 


Stir.  Bring to a boil.  Stir.  Cover.  Simmer on low for 45 minutes.

While on simmer, be sure to have your jars in a hot water bath.  This step calls for a canner (not a pressure cooker) and we typically get seven pint jars out of each batch.  I also use wide mouth jars.

Add salsa mixture to jars and return to water bath.  


Set timer for 10 minutes and boil jars.  Remove from bath and wait for the pops!!!!

Hopefully there is some extra to snack on!




If you enjoy the sugar label you see or the salsa labels above, they can be found at my Etsy shop!
Check them out, we have many styles available!  

I would love to hear what you think of the salsa!  Seems like a lot of steps, but it is super easy!!!

I hope you love it as much as everyone else I know!!!!

Marianne


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