December 28, 2010


How nice Christmas was this year!  We are so lucky to have such a great family who we can just hang out with and have a great time!  We literally didn't leave the house from Christmas Eve until about mid afternoon the day after Christmas.  We have been really looking forward to Christmas with Spencer this year because this would be his first year of really getting into it and boy did he!!

Christmas Eve we usually have tamales and ALWAYS drink the Swindell famous margaritas.  We had chips and queso and that's all I ate.  I have a slight addiction to queso.

Spencer found Stephen's Santa hat

Spencer slept until 8:30 Christmas morning!!!  I honestly don't think he has EVER done that.  It was good because Rick and I got some good cuddle time on the couch drinking our coffee and eating our cinnamon rolls (another Christmas morning MUST for the Swindells).  Then he woke up...

Checking out the goodies in his stocking

Look what I got from Santa!!!

And more goodies...

The first of NINE candy canes that day!

We still have to go have Christmas with Dad & Dana which will be wonderful and I know we'll get a lot more pictures then.  We'll be headed out to their house which Spencer will love!  I hope you all had a great Christmas!!

December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  I will be taking a break until next Monday!

December 19, 2010

Christmas Party

For some reason I've been slacking on posting and it's not due to lack of things to post, it's due to the craziness that comes along with the week before you get out of school.  Christmas parties, secret Santa, student gifts, grading, submitting grades, etc., etc....I'm sticking with that excuse and that's FINAL. Ha!

Spencer's Christmas party was a hit!  Rick got to go and share it with him.  The food that these kids have at these things is unbelievable.  We signed up for cupcakes and we brought these...

I got the idea from the cover of the December issue of the Disney Family Fun magazine.  They are chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing, white M&Ms (eyes), black icing (middle of eyes), pretzels (antlers), red M&Ms (nose), and mini nilla wafers (mouth area).

Spencer at his Christmas party...check out that food!!

And speaking of food and sweets, Spencer had his first powdered donuts yesterday.  He ate every single one out of the package (6) and wanted more!

December 11, 2010

Santa Success: Part II

We got our pictures in yesterday and we now have evidence that Spencer wasn't as scared as he was last year, but as you can see, he wasn't getting too close.  Baby steps, baby steps...

December 8, 2010

Country Style Pork and Beans

This is one the best recipes I've tried in a long while and when Rick took the first bite, he said, "This is a Swindell favorite already."  It's so easy and DELICIOUS!  And, Spencer loved it!!  Please, please try it and let me know how it goes.  I'm always all about recipes that involve a slow cooker and this is a keeper for sure.  I got this from one of my favorite recipe blogs that I follow, My Kitchen Cafe.

*Serves 8-10
*Note: Great northern beans are large, hard beans that hold up well in the slow cooker. If unavailable substitute dried red or kidney beans. Because the beans need to be soaked for at least 8 hours, make sure to plan ahead! (I used Bush's canned great northern beans and rinsed them off and put them in half way through and it worked PERFECT!)
1 pound dried great northern beans (or 3 cans of great northern beans, drained and rinsed)
3 pounds country style pork ribs (about 12 ribs), trimmed of excess fat
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 pound chicken or turkey kielbasa sausage, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 (14.5 ounce each) cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Eight to 24 hours before assembling in the slow cooker, rinse the white beans and place them in a large bowl with cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Let the beans soak anywhere from 8 to 24 hours.

Eight to 9 hours before eating, drain the beans and transfer them to the slow cooker. Dry the pork ribs thoroughly with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add half of the ribs and brown on all sides, 4-5 minutes. Transfer them to the slow cooker. Return the skillet to medium heat and heat 2 more teaspoons oil until hot and rippling. Brown the remaining ribs and transfer them to the slow cooker.

Return the skillet to medium heat and heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth, tomato paste, celery seed, thyme and bay leaf, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Transfer the onion mixture to slow cooker.

Add the kielbasa, tomatoes and chicken broth to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on either low or high, until the meat is tender, 7 to 8 hours on low or 5 to 6 on high. Before serving, discard the bay leaf, stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot, steamed rice, if desired.  (The rice is a MUST....yummmmo!)

December 3, 2010

Moving Up!

Today is Spencer's last day in his room at school.  He's moving up to another room on Monday.  These moments are always bittersweet for us because we sure hate saying goodbye to good teachers and Spencer usually doesn't handle moving rooms to well.  But, it's always fun to see him growing up and learning new things in his new room and in this new room, he's with ALL of his friends from school.  He was really excited to see their pictures in his new room when we had meet the teacher night. 

Alana and Emily with Spencer - we will miss you guys!

December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving Blessings

What a great time Thanksgiving was this year (it always is, though)!  We packed up and headed to east Texas to see Rick's mom and sister.  It was so much fun and I really hope we get to do it again next year.  We had Thanksgiving lunch at Sam and Jiffy's beautiful (and beautiful is an understatement) home.  Spencer got to play with ALL of his cousins and had the time of his life. 

The only one missing in the top picture is Tori...I'm sure she was taking a break from the kiddos! Ha!

Probably the highlight of the day was this...

We had been talking about getting one of these for him and I think it's a definite go for his birthday as it will be too cold now to enjoy it if he gets it for Christmas.  He got the hang of using the pedal pretty well, but still had trouble steering.  Aidan and Tori were so good to him and helped him so much.  Dad ended up pushing the car because Spencer ran the battery out of it! 

And when you run the battery out it, someone has to go get it...

The time Spencer got to spend with Jean was priceless.  He rarely left her side the entire time and if she would leave the room, he'd immediately begin to ask where she was.

And this video will be cherished forever...Jean and Spencer dancing to Michael Buble...

I can never explain how thankful I am for my sweet family.  I'm so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life.  We're fortunate that part of that family lives here and we're also fortunate to be able to spend precious time with our family that does not live here.  We're truly blessed beyond belief!

November 24, 2010

Santa Success

Santa was a success this year!!  Last year, this is what happened...

Although this made for the greatest Christmas card ever, we don't want Spencer to be scared of Santa and so saying that, me being apprehensive taking him this year was an understatement.  We talked about Santa Claus A LOT on the days leading up to the "event".  He told us he was going to sit on his lap and everything.  Whew!  That was easy...not so much!  We get there and his buddy Landon (about the same age Spencer was last year) went first and I'm pretty certain they got a picture quite similar to the one above.  Spencer immediately started saying, "No Santa Claus, no Santa Claus!"  Great!  So, I look over and see his other friend Cash in line that is 6 months older than him.  Perfect!  Cash didn't cry and I made sure Spencer saw that, so we got in line.  Well, long story short, he stood next to him and just smiled away.  He wouldn't dare sit in his lap, but it's progress and I know it's going to be a cute, cute, cute picture!

All in all is was a great time with Angie and Landon.  We shopped and shopped and shopped in the massive crowds with our strollers and everything.  Then we took the boys to "Lunch with Santa" where Chick Fil A catered and Mrs. Claus read a story to the kids.  I didn't take a lot of pictures, but these are the ones that I did...

Don't they look thrilled??

Chick Fil A and candy canes at Lunch With Santa

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We are off to Tyler until Sunday and I CANNOT wait!!!

November 23, 2010

Feast of Thanks

Rick and I look forward to Spencer's Thanksgiving lunch each year, which they call the Feast of Thanks (I love that!).  We are so fortunate that we are both able to break away from work to go (yay for wonderful bosses!).  Spencer was beaming when he saw us and we had the best time with him.  It's always so hard to leave because Spencer holds on for dear life and starts to cry.  He doesn't understand he can't come with us.  :(

November 18, 2010

Upside Down Apple Cake

This is delicious stuff here and super easy!  I found this recipe on one of my new favorite food blogs, Cooking With My Kid.  I've found so many great recipes here and I know you will too.  I didn't tweak this recipe as much as I usually do with some, but I did notice that it called for baking powder, but didn't say how much so I did the ole trusty 1 teaspoon and it was great!  Hope you like it and let me know if you try it!

Prep Time: 15 mins Cooking Time: 35 to 40 minutes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 granny smith apples (peeled, cored + sliced in wedges)
juice of 1/2 lemon
brown sugar for sprinkling
2 tablespoons almond meal (didn't use this because I have no idea what it is)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted + cooled)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss apple slices in lemon juice. Place a tablespoon of butter in a 9 inch round pan and place in the oven for a minute or two until butter melts. Once melted, remove from oven and sprinkle brown sugar to lightly cover the entire bottom of pan. Arrange slices of apples in concentric circles on top of the sugar. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together almond meal, salt, flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, brown sugar and eggs together until thick. Whisk in the melted butter a little bit at a time. Then add the yogurt and vanilla. Whisk until combined add flour mixture 1/2 at a time and whisk until just combined.

Spoon batter over the apples and use a spatula to gently smooth out evenly in the pan. Pick the pan up 1/2 inch off the counter and carefully drop it down to settle the batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let the cake cool for exactly 10 minutes and place a platter over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plate. Let the cake sit for exactly 1 minute before lifting up the pan. Let cool completely before slicing (about 2 hours). Voila! A gorgeous apple pie alternative is served.

Image from Cooking With My Kid

November 16, 2010

School Picture

Where has time gone?  This almost brought tears to my eyes when I opened his pictures and saw that our baby is growing up and is not a baby any more. :( 

28 months

November 11, 2010


We have finally started back videoing Spencer.  We were at a point that he wouldn't let you video because he wanted to see it and you could only get him for a couple of seconds and then he was running toward you to see what you just videoed.  Well, he's getting better. 

Spencer and Zach playing in the backyard. Spencer continually says, "Again, again" when Zach is done running around with him.


He's had this stick horse for awhile now, but just recently really likes to ride it.  He acts like it bucks him off and that's why he's "thrown" to the floor at the end! Ha!

November 10, 2010

Ham & Cheese Soup

I've been making this soup for about 5 years now and we cannot get enough of it.  Now that the weather is getting cooler, it was the perfect time to cook it up.  I'm posting the original recipe, but I double it and it's perfect.  I've made it so many times that I've added here and there that I can do it in my sleep. One note, do not buy the ham already cubed because it's too salty.  I go to the deli and tell them to make one cut as thick as their blade will go.  I get two large pieces and then cube myself at home.  Hope you like it and let me know if you try it!

1 T. of olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery (I add a lot more)
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (I add a lot more)
1 T. pressed garlic
1 cup diced ham (I add a lot more)
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Saute onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic in oil until tender.  Add ham and cook 5 minutes.  Add stock or water and bullion, bay leaf and basil.  Simmer 30 minutes.  Add cream and bring back to a boil.  Slowly add cheese - stirring constantly.  Serve immediatly.

November 8, 2010


We got away this weekend to Ruidoso for a day.  Right now we only go for a day because there's really not a lot for 2 1/2 year olds to do other than go wild in the hotel room (which Spencer did plenty of).  We had a great time and was plenty pooped when we got back Sunday.  Fun, short get-aways are always a blast!

On the way to Ruidoso!

We ate somewhere new for us for lunch on Saturday called Elena's.  It was delicious and it wasn't Tex-Mex Mexican food...we're talking the real deal here.  Spencer wanted a hot dog so bad and kept telling the waitress every time she walked back that he wanted one.  I don't think they were cooking fast enough for Spencer!  Spencer LOVED the bear outside of Elena's and when we were leaving on Sunday, we stopped for some Starbucks on the way out (next door to Elena's) and Spencer immediately noticed it and wanted to stop and see it! Ha!

Nothing better than these two, I tell ya...

Diggin' the fake smile from the little guy...haha!

Trying Pop Rocks for the first time and it didn't even phase him they were exploding in his mouth!

Cupcake on the ride home
We are happy to be home and even happier we made more sweet memories as a family!

November 3, 2010

Pumpkin Donut Muffins

Yep, you read that right...Pumpkin Donut Muffins and they are HEAVEN in your mouth!  My BFF Angie made these this weekend and sent us home with 2 of them when we trick-or-treated at their house Sunday and they are some of the best muffins I've ever had.  I'm making a batch tomorrow to bring to school. 

1 cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1¾ cups canned unsweetened pumpkin
¼ cup buttermilk
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, melted

1) Heat the oven to 350 F.

2) Beat the sugar and butter together in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in the pumpkin and buttermilk.

3) Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg into the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth. The batter will be stiff.

4) Spray two 12-cup muffin pans with butter-flavored spray. Divide the batter among the 24 cups and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Cool the muffins for a few minutes on a wire rack.

5) For the topping, mix the sugar and cinnamon. When the muffins are cool enough to handle, generously brush the tops with butter and roll in the cinnamon and sugar. Cool on the wire rack and serve.

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