Snow Day

We were very excited about the snow that came to town...
well maybe not the husband

Their "it's cold" faces

see that little snow nugget in the back? It was his first snow, and he had a ball...

We headed over the Jones fam's house to play on their hill...here I am with Kristen and baby Oliver who is due in 2 weeks!!!

Central Alabama's version of sleighs

It was a fun day for kids and adults!!
Thankful that we were expecting it, so everything closed down in time for safety...thoughts and prayers to all of my Birmingham friend who got stuck and stranded away from their family...


Stay Warm Soup

We had this for dinner last night via Pioneer Woman, Hamburger Soup (thanks Tyne for the suggestion). It was a hit with the boys. Thought I would share in case ya'll need some warm inspiration on this cold snowy day. It currently is sleeting in Selma, and the snow is suppose to start in a few hours.
via Pioneer Woman

Hamburger Soup

Prep Time:
Cook Time:


  • 2-1/2 pounds Ground Chuck
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 2 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can (14.5 Ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
  • 3 cups Beef Stock Or Beef Broth, Plus More As Needed
  • 1 whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 4 whole Carrots, Peeled And Sliced On The Diagonal
  • 5 whole Red Potatoes, Cut Into Chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, More To Taste
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Parsley Flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (more To Taste)

Preparation Instructions

In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the meat with the onion, celery, and garlic. Remove the pot from the heat and drain off as much fat as you can. (Discard the fat once it cools.)
Return the pot to the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, then cover the pot and simmer the soup for 15-20 more minutes, until potatoes are tender but not overly mushy.
Soup should be somewhat thick, but if you'd like it to be more "soupy," add 1 to 2 cups more broth OR hot water and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed.
Serve with crusty bread!
Happy Snow Day!


Box Mix Recipes

I love to bake. I have since my Aunt Meg taught me how to make oatmeal cookies when I was five.  I love it still...the measuring, mixing, and of course tasting. It is the one are that I feel like I slow down and enjoy the process. Now that being said, sometimes you need a dessert quick. Last minute dinner party, friend coming over for coffee, husband wanting a warm sweet before bed (think food people!)
These are a couple of my favorite, "box mix recipes". Easy to pull out and put together, but still a little more than just the mix.

Chocolate Pudding Cake (via my friend Maggie, via her friend Michelle)
pic via internet

1 yellow cake mix (pudding in the middle)
1 small box of instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup chocolate chips 
1/2 cup butterscotch chips (I use peanut butter because I heart peanut butter chips)

Mix all except chips, then add chips.  Bake at 350 in bundt pan for
45-50 minutes.  Cool 1 1/2 hours or more.  Flip it out and sprinkle
w/powdered sugar.

***The only negative to this cake, is that it is sooo moist it sticks to the pan very easily. To help prevent this, I always double butter/flour the pan and let it cool after for HOURS. Even if it sticks a bit, you can cover with plenty of powdered sugar :)

Chocolate Toffee Trifle
picture via internet
I might have shared this one before as it is my nephew Sam's favorite. 
2 boxes of brownie mix
1 large box of chocolate pudding mix
heavy whipping cream, vanilla, sugar to make whipped cream (don't know measurements, I just eye ball and taste)
1 bag of toffee chips
Bake brownies according to instructions, allow to cool and then break up in bite size pieces. Make pudding and whipped cream. 
Assemble trifle: brownie, pudding, whipped cream, toffee pieces. Then repeat.
I like it best after 4+ hours in the fridge.

Peanut Butter Cake Mix Cookies
 (I also like the straight up cake mix cookies, which is very similar and I'm sure most of you have in your arsenal)

1 box of yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/4 c. of unsalted butter (softened)
1/3 c. of water 
1 c peanut butter (I like crunchy)
1 to 2 c. milk chocolate chips
any chopped nut optional (sometimes I use 1c of nuts and 1 cup of chocolate chips or sometimes no nuts, so I increase the chips...whatever you are in the mood for!)
Preheat oven to 350. Cream, eggs, butter, water, and peanut butter together. Add cake mix, chips and nuts. Drop on cookie sheets and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Don't overcook as the best part is the gooey middle. 

Cinnamon Coffee Cake (adapted from all recipes)
picture via internet

1 box of yellow cake mix
1 package of vanilla pudding mix
1 package of butterscotch pudding mix (I have used this and also left it out, not a big difference really)
4 eggs
1 cup of water
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup of chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan, or a 10 inch Bundt cake pan
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, and butterscotch pudding mix. Add the eggs, oil and water, mix until well blended. In another bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Pour half of the batter into the pan, spread evenly. Sprinkle with half of the nut mixture. Cover with the rest of the batter, and sprinkle with the rest of the nut mixture.
3. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then turn the oven down to 325 degrees F  and bake for an additional 35 to 40 minutes. *I have never done more than 35 minutes



Lane will be three in a few weeks.
Favorites: Red, Chicken Pot Pie, Chocolate Donuts, Tractors, and Curious George (though Caillou is a close second)
 Accomplishments: POTTY TRAINED!! (he has had a few accidents every now and then, but overall is great. we use a pull up at night, because i am not that brave)
The other thing we have been working on is dressing himself. I have mixed feelings about this as he never has been opinionated about what I choose for him to wear. The more he dresses himself, the more this changes. Last night, I picked out his Christmas pjs and told him to put them on. He said "Momma I not wear Chrimas pjs, Chrimas is over." Great. Some battles are not worth fighting.
I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, and he told me "Choc Choc Cake". He said "that make me   SO HAPPY!" I wish I could bottle his cute expressions. except for WHY? that has started on repeat, not my favorite. I told him last week, because "Momma is the BOSS." He said, "No momma not the Boss, DADDY is the BOSS." He got me there :)

This little parrot is 18 months old. Also one of my favorite stages.
Favorites: "Bwue" (blue), Pizza, "Fwish" (goldfish), blueberries, Mickey Mouse, and cows
Accomplishments: counts to ten, is trying to also potty train (he tells me poo poo and tee tee on potty and sure enough, I put him on there and he goes. he also tells me to "move!" when he is in the act as he likes his privacy :) He still is in a diaper because honestly, getting Lane potty trained has been enough for the time being. I think we will continue to let Holden lead us until he is more consistent)
We call him bruiser as he is tough as nails. I guess that is just how God makes second children so close in age to their big brothers. He is very opinionated about everything. He tells me "No Way" if he does not want to do something.  
Ford came to visit last weekend, and these three are thick as thieves. 
They play so well together. They have their own language, and it is precious! 
"Fordy" as Holden calls him


A Look Back...

This past year we were very blessed...When I think back to some of the highs, I am thankful for a overall health, joyful year for our family. When I think back to some of the lows, I am thankful for learning trust and faith in the Lord in deeper ways.

I enjoyed not being pregnant or breast feeding for the first time and really getting healthy.
The boys grew leaps and bounds and both hit large milestones...Holden walking, talking, and finally giving up the bottle!! (only 6 months late!) Lane talking more clearly (he stuttered a bit the first part of the year as he was talking more and more and was not getting his words out as fast as he was thinking them), almost potty trained (which is good considering he is almost three), and really coming into his own little personality (aka James Junior).

We lost loved ones. We grieved and felt God's peace in a new way. 

We traveled near and far and met fellow Christ followers that made eternal impact. 

Lane developed into a little boy. He is cautious, but adventurous at the same time. He is not a morning person and wakes up very slowly just like his father. He loves all things mechanical. I can almost see his brain thinking SO hard when he is moving dirt in the yard with his tractor. He is enthusiastic about most everything, especially showing Holden "how to do it". He is a good big brother most moment. Yesterday, he told me, " Hold-bear not take turns." "I share wid him, but he not share." :)

We saw Holden's personality develop...he will definitely keep us on our toes. He is funny, defiant, sweet, stubborn, and VERY verbal. This morning he screamed from his crib at 6:19 am, "Momma OUT." Pease Momma, OUT". "Milk Momma". over and over...you get the point :)

We enjoyed several adults only vacations where we had time to talk, laugh, and remember.  

We spent time with family and enjoyed fellowship with friends. I feel like God has provided nurturing especially in this area.  We plugged into small groups and have both grown in being Spirit led. 

I am looking forward to see what this year brings! 


This Christmas Season

Please hang in there with me as I dump my Iphone and remember all of the fun things December held for us:

trip to Bass Pro, Holden is at the perfect age to fear sitting in Santa's lap.
Lane is at the perfect age to love it, makes for a great picture

thanks to Pie and Aunt Elon for tagging along

had a great wine tasting and dinner in Montgomery with this great group of friends

baking day with Kate Wood

This lady is seriously talented, I wanted her to show me the secret to Royal Icing.

Well the secret is...It is HARD. We had a fun Sunday afternoon, and I have a renewed appreciation for beautifully done cookies!

loved having extra snuggle time with these buddies

Lane had the opportunity to model clothes for the Beaux and Belles line of precious clothes that our friends, Beth and Kea sell
shockingly he did great and really cheesed it up

had a fun "pig out" day in the office and dirty Santa

Lane had his Christmas program at Little Friends. The two year old class were the sheep. We had talked about it prior and worked on a couple of his songs, but I wondered how he would react taking the stage for the first time....
walked out apprehensive
checking out everyone
spotting Momma...

then meltdown

not so much, he didn't recover because as soon as he started to, he saw his daddy and then it was OVER. His teacher grabbed him and took him off stage, poor buddy. 
After I said, "Lane you did so good!" He said, "NO Momma, I NOT like it". Maybe next year :)

Tennis Christmas Party....gotta love Katie's Santa style
The Saturday before Christmas we had the Russell Christmas party.
This is one of my favorite times as we got to spend time with our Mobile cousins and baby Annie.
you can't tell in this picture but Holden is obsessed with Annie
after she left, he found her Christmas card picture and carried it around, kissing her :)
The Cooks
Ann Marie, Shannon, and me

Caroline Buster admiring Ed Williams
sooo sweet

Fourth Generation (hard to believe but we were missing a bunch!)

Third Generation

First cousins celebrating at the Roost

cookies for Santa and reindeer food



my brother gave us a Chemex coffee system for Christmas, it makes the most delicious coffee ever

receiving their "trac tracs" 

love my Holdey bug

fam shot Christmas Eve

Hope Everyone is staying WARM this week.