Friday, October 30, 2009

{Holiday Recipe: Dirt Cake}

Today at work, we are celebrating the season with our annual chili cook-off and costume contest... I think a lot of us just want to dress up so that we can act a little bit child-like and find a way to get away with it around work collleagues. Because I have yet to perfect a chili recipe I can call my own, I decided to make something for dessert instead: don't be alarmed, and yes, I always prefer baking to cooking. =) Here is a recipe I found from Kelly's Recipes, which is perfect for big and little kids alike, and goes along with Halloween: DIRT CAKE!
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
3 1/2 cups milk
1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
32 ounces chocolate sandwich cookies with creme filling
DIRECTIONS
Chop cookies very fine in food processor; most of he white cream will disappear
Mix butter, cream cheese, and sugar in bowl
In a large bowl mix milk, pudding and whipped topping together
Combine pudding mixture and cream mixture together
Layer in flower pot or trifle bowl, starting with cookies then cream mixture
Repeat layers
Chill until ready to serve and enjoy!

All my ingredients-- mostly Kroger brand to save $$$

The finished product

The Top View- SO YUMMY!



Thursday, October 29, 2009

{Franklin Pumpkinfest}

For my local Nashville readers, this weekend marks the 24th Annual Pumpkinfest in historic downtown Franklin, TN.  I love everything about this community--each season, they shut down the town square and have local merchants, restaurants, shops, and exciting events highlighted to get families in the habit of getting outside and taking advantage of their town.
My parents and I have developed a fascination with trying to attend as many of these 'fests as we can {bless my dad's heart} and it always turns out to be fun--this year even my boyfriend gets to join in the fun, lucky him-HA!
For 2009 activities, they are featuring cemetery tours, a carnival, and an outdoor movie. Even better, admission is free except for special tours and treats, including: "Halloween Party on the Avenue" from 6PM to 10PM, complete with live music from 2 local bands and wine and chili for only $5 per person. There is also a pumpkin painting for $2 {great for big kids like me}.
If you want additional info about the event, click here
I'll make sure to post pics from our adventures this weekend, too--weather permitting

{Spooktacular Howl-O-Ween}

The weekend is almost here, which means loads of super scary Halloween movies are sure to fill television screens everywhere, or so I hope as I am having a relaxing take on the holiday this year. Unlike some people I know, (and yes I am calling out my beloved Jeff who doesn't like scary movies so much) I love a good fright and I'm hoping I can talk him into viewing some of my all-time favorite thrillers this weekend.

Halloween- the original scary movie. Michael Myers, where are you?? This features scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and has spawned more sequels than any other movie I can think of. That music still scares me to this day!

Scream-one of the best movie trilogies from renownded director Wes Craven... I can never turn this one down, especially with Drew Barrymore and Gail Weathers, the crazy news anchor

The Craft-talk about distrurbing. I was in high school when this came out and I have to admit I looked at my friends a little differently after this one...

The Silence of the Lambs: I'm obsessed with Anthony Hopkins, but you're sure to see him in a much different light once you see him in his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter=SCARY!

And just for the kids...The Addams Family- how can you not L-O-V-E this movie?? I know, it's not scary, but it's fun AND it features MC Hammer's music, too!


FYI: for those of you who felt sorry for me for not getting to dress up, no worries--we're having a big costume contest celebration/chili cookoff at my office tomorrow so I am getting to dress up afterall- pics to come!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

{Wishful Wednesday...Costumes}

I have to admit, I am a little sad this year as I decided not to go-all-out and celebrate Halloween the way I normally do.. at a party or huge event with lots of friends dressed in their best! This year, Jeff and I decided to give out candy to trick-or-treaters and hang out with my parents. Though I am very excited about Saturday night's relaxing festivities, I can't help but be a little disappointed to not dress up for my favorite holiday =(. But thanks to Kelsey, I can at least focus on some of the uber:cute outfits out there and think about what I'll dress my kids up in someday!


I wish I was six years old and going trick-or-treating
and my costume would be...

ARIEL THE LITTLE MERMAID!!

Is this not the cutest costume ever? The Little Mermaid has been my favorite Disney movie since I was a little girl and I swear I had to have watched it at elast 5 times a week... maybe that's why I know all the words to the songs, huh? haha-- Maybe I'll recreate this costume for my 26-year old self next year and Jeff can be Prince Eric- he would kill me! And yes, I'd be sure to remember to put a fork in my hair too and get a bird for my very own Scully!



Halloween 2008- I was Alice in Wonderland =)

Halloween 2007--German Beer Girl!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

{The Shopping Conundrum}

If you are like me and find it difficult to walk away from buying something that you think you just 'have to have', you may want to read this article... I found it via MSN this morning and I am promising myself to make a better effort about my buying habits, especially now that we're inches away from Holiday Season 2009 and it's hard to pass up all those great deals once the sales papers get in front of my face.

What to Ask Before You Buy: Real deals on fashion are more accessible than ever. Stop -- don't pull out that credit card until you take our experts' good-buy test! If you can answer yes to most of these questions, go ahead and make a guilt-free purchase.

OUR EXPERT: Beth Kobliner is the author of "Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties" and is featured in the upcoming PBS special, "Your Life, Your Money".
THE QUESTION: "Can I Afford It?"
WHAT TO ASK YOURSELF: Have I covered my basic monthly expenses? "Fixed costs must be paid before there is any discretionary spending," Kobliner says. She lists mortgage or rent, gas, basic groceries, utilities, insurance premiums, debt payments -- and, preferably, savings: 10 percent of your take-home to a 401(k) and another 5 percent to an emergency savings account.

Are my credit cards fully paid off? "I'm sorry, but if you don't have the money now, you can't buy it," Kobliner says, pointing out that it can cost twice the original price to purchase something with a credit card if you make minimum payments (and beware of store cards, which often charge more than 20 percent interest as opposed to the 14 percent average rate on bank cards).

Do I have the cash? If so, use it. "Counting out bills at the cashier is a great way to spend less," says Kobliner, citing an MIT study that found that people spend up to twice as much when paying with a credit card instead of cash.

Is it within my clothing budget? There's no "right" amount to spend on clothing, but there is an average (courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau): 3 percent of a household's pretax income. "It's a surprisingly good guideline for most income levels," Kobliner says.

Is the price tag reasonable? Try Kobliner's cost-per-wear formula -- price divided by the estimated number of times you'll wear it in the first two years. Anything below $3 per wear is a smart purchase.

Am I getting the best price? Comparison shopping is key: Use Web sites like PriceGrabber.com and Nextag.com. iPhone applications such as RedLaser allow you to scan bar codes while you're in a store and search Internet prices for the same item.

Will I still want it tomorrow? Give yourself a cooling-off period -- call a friend, go home -- before you buy. A short delay can encourage the part of your brain that makes rational decisions to get control of your wallet, Kobliner says.

OUR EXPERTS: Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, the original "What Not to Wear" ladies, have a new series, "Making Over America" (TLC, August 21), and book, "The Body Shape Bible".

THE QUESTION:
"Is It Worth It?"
WHAT TO ASK YOURSELF: Do I need it?
Identify wardrobe holes by separating what you do wear from what you don't, then make a shopping list of your needs (not wants). "Most women wear 20 percent of their wardrobe 80 percent of the time," says Trinny. "If you buy more things you'll actually wear, you will feel really positive about your closet."

Am I being honest with myself? Don't talk yourself into a bad purchase. Analyze the mistakes in your giveaway pile: Great color, but wrong for your body? Nice style in a weird print? Once you're wise to your vulnerabilities, you can shop smarter.

Is the timing right? "I hardly ever buy something straight away," Trinny says. This gives you the space to see if it truly belongs in your closet (hint: Can you think of five things you can wear it with?) or if you just wanted to reward yourself after a lousy day. You might also consider waiting for a price reduction (which is happening earlier in the season now). "You'll always find something cool on sale," according to Trinny. "You just have to be patient."

Does it suit my body? Try stuff on, even if (especially if!) you've gained weight or you're in a rush. That said, if it isn't perfect, get it tailored. "Once it's taken in, a Zara jacket can look like Armani," says Susannah. Also, check that it flatters your shape: "If an item you try on is not hiding your defects and showing your assets, take it off!"

Is it comfortable? Reject anything that itches or pinches. (But don't let comfort swamp style, Trinny warns. "Big old baggy stuff makes you look old before your time.")

Is it low-maintenance? Watch out for wrinkle-prone fabric -- time is money, and you don't want to spend it ironing. Check the label for care instructions; dry cleaning bills can add hundreds of dollars to the cost.

Does it have staying power? See if you can picture it looking chic in ten years or more. "I'm 45," Trinny says, "and I'm starting to ask myself, 'Is this the kind of thing I can wear when I'm 60?'"

Monday, October 26, 2009

{these boots are made for walking}

So I must show you my newest purchase which added to my already over-capacity shoe collection... I couldn't resist!! For only $90 with tax and shipping from DSW, I thought they were perfect and I had been desperately trying to find some fabulous grey boots for the winter!! I cannot wait to wear them! Bring on the cold weather NOW please...

P.S. Though the discount is ending today, DSW has a promotion where you save $10 on a $49 purchase with the code: SHARELUV at checkout =)



{the great pumpkin adventure}

Yesterday afternoon definitely made fall official here in Nashville, as we went to our local pumpkin patch and then went to Jeff's to carve our new friends! Living in Green Hills, a suburb of Nashville, makes it really convenient to find LOTS of pumpkins...within a mile of our apartment, there are 4 places that I know of-luckily, the church across from us had a big selection and what better way than to give our money to a great cause to support the youth group! Here are the pictures of our little family's adventure--and yes, we have already agreed we are all going to buy houses next to each other one day so our fun traditions can continue =) 

Look at all those pumpkins!!

Jeffrey's Little Punkin

BOO! Where is Meg??

Yay for Woodmont's Youth Group

That's some BIG Pumpkins

So Much Fun!!


Our Little Family-- the Stonke's =)

The Best Part!!

Our Funny Face!!

Meg and Aaron's Scary Pumpkin

Ready for the Soon-to-Be Trick or Treaters!!

Happy Halloween!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

{Happy Birthday Gran!}

not that my blessed grandmother will see this post because she still won't allow herself to venture into the world of computers, but i thought i would post it for my own benefit nonetheless. tomorrow is my dear granny's 68th birthday--still young and in her prime, my grandmother has been one of the closest people to me since the day i was born. she watched me from the time i was 5 until i reached high school. i get my middle name, carol, from her and couldn't be prouder that my mom named me after such an incredible woman. she keeps all of us on track {most of the time} and has always been there cheering for me whenever i had setbacks in life.
most of my friends know her because she always sent me cards each week in college and i was ever-so-thankful for that money--sometimes it made all the difference since i wasn't so good at balancing my money back then. she is the best cook you will ever meet and she can bake like no other...certain family members and i fight on christmas when she brings out her famous divinity because we want more than our fair share. to this day, she picks out my grandfather's attire and they match everywhere they go... trust me, this is the cutest thing you will ever see and i hope jeff will allow me to carry on the tradition someday.
happy birthday gran- i love you so much and thank you so much for everything you do and continue to do for not only me, but for our entire family... you are the center to our support system and i am so blessed God put you in my life- OXOX

At my Cousin's Graduation


Celebrating Family Bdays


Three Generations on Vacation =)




Look at Them Dance!! (see the matching outfits??)

Celebrating 50 Years of Marriage!!

At the ICE Exhibit at Opryland Last Year


Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Another one of my now-favorite easy and go-to recipes for fall desserts: No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake. Kraft came to the rescue on this one last weekend at my aunt's fall fest and it was a definite hit with everyone!

Ingredients
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
1 Graham Pie Crust (6 oz.)


Directions
Beat cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended
Gently stir in 2-1/2 cups of the whipped topping
Cover and refrigerate remaining whipped topping for later use
Spoon cream cheese mixture into crust
Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight
Serve topped with remaining whipped topping
Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator


{Free Falling}

As much as I love fall, why oh why does it have to rain almost everyday here in Nashville? Every morning I dread watching the news because I can't help but get depressed with the never-ending monsoon of rain we have been drenched with lately... it's really starting to get in the way of all my fun fall plans-haha.
Last weekend, we had a chili cookout/bonfire at my aunt's cabin in North Nashville. My whole family was there and I have to admit, I had a great time surprising each of them with my new hair-- my grandmother thought I was my mother at first {no surprise there because we are practically twins}. We ate lots of food, like always, and watched football, then had a night bonfire to roast smores--yes they were that good.
Here are just a few pictures from their front porch-- so festively decorated, too!



P.S. For all of you that have been asking, I am finally starting to get adjusted to being a brunette- I got a little emotional last weekend, but now that the color has started to lighten, I am really enjoying the change! I can't guarantee it will last forever, but I promise to give it a good run

Thursday, October 22, 2009

{Welcome to the 26 Club Best Friend!}

This is one of my best friends Beverly {sounds weird to call her that because to me she will forever more be my Bev}... we met in college and have been close friends ever since! Even though she lives in Knoxville and makes all of us proud working for the Vol Network, we make sure that we don't go too long without seeing each other. Some of my favorite college memories involve fun that we had together and I know my life wouldn't be the same without her. For her 26th birthday, I thought I'd take a little journey back in time and recount some of my favorites with her by my side.... I love you best friend- Happy Birthday!!

Us at our Favorite Place.. Downtown Grill and Brewery in Knox

Tailgating with the Walker Family before UT Football

More Tailgating-- Can you Tell we Love the VOLS?


Cabin Fun in Gatlinburg





Random Fish Faces =)



Fun at Legend's Downtown Nashville

Watching the VOLS at Longshots on Demonbreun


Our Favorite Day of the Year--Steeplechase!!


I Blow Kisses!

At the Back Porch in Destin for Family Vacation

Celebrating Best Friend's Engagement


Girl's Seaside Trip//AJ's in Destin for DANCE PARTY

The Miller's Engagement Party Night

Backseat Photoshoot

Exhausted after Football

Fun Bachelorette Festivities


Oh How I Love You!!

Wedding Day... Isn't She Beautiful??


Muddy Steeplechase Madness



Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday Dear Bev, Happy Birthday to You! Cheers to your special day and I hope your hubby makes it extra special- OXOX

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