Today is the last day of 2008, so what a better way to end it than some quick reminiscing. So much has happened in the past couple of years, so quick reminiscing might not be accurate. While 2007 was the hardest year I’ve ever been through, ’08 was amazing. I’ve done so much growing and so much learning this year that I can hardly believe where I was just a year ago.

Some of the greatest things that happened in 2008:

I grew. I had alone time for the first time in my life in 2007, and hated every moment of it. In 2008, I learned to enjoy my time alone and used it to grow closer to God and learn (and am learning still) to rely on Him alone. That has made all the difference in ‘07 and ‘08. Being away from family for the first time was hard. Really hard. But God brought me through and made me more independent on people and more dependent on Him.

I made some of the best friends I will ever have – Chris and Beka (picture 1) and Earl and Amanda (picture2, awful picture, but the only one with all of us!). They have truly been our Nashville family. Without them, 2008 wouldn’t have been half as meaningful. Thanks guys! We love you!

Dave and I had a lot of fun adventures (picture 3) and many not so fun adventures (picture 4). He has been a great friend and wonderful husband. I could not have survived Nashville without his constant love and support for me. We make a good team.

With all the changes of the past couple of years, I’m kind of hoping for a non-eventful 2009. Some exciting things that I am hoping for…an awesome and fulfilling job for Dave, a pregnancy of a very dear friend, and a baby for me too? Only if Dave gets the aforementioned job, I’m afraid. Maybe we’ll save that wish for 2010. A girl can wish can’t she?



I’m feeling pretty hungry this morning. I suppose I’m not back on track after all the holiday pigging out, and my body expects to still be overfull. Because of this, I have been inspired to share two of my favorite soup recipes with you all. I created both of these recipes earlier this fall, and cannot get enough of them! Feel free to share the recipe with all your friends and family.

Tortilla Soup
· 1 large can cream of chicken soup
· 1 large box chicken stock
· 1 can water
· 2 bouillon cube
· about 3/4 of a jar of your favorite salsa
· ½ bag taco seasoning
· 2 tsp chili powder
· cayenne to taste (we like it really hot, so we use about ¾ tbsp)
· ½ tbsp minced garlic
· ½ tbsp onion powder
· 2 tsp cilantro
· salt and pepper to taste

Cook all of those ingredients to boiling and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes

Top it all off with:
· cooked shredded chicken
· sour cream
· Mexican cheese (I use shredded Mexican blend and crumbled queso fresco)
· tortilla chips

Chicken Wild Rice Soup
1 large can cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken stock
1 can water
1 bouillon cube
½ tbsp onion powder
cubed chicken
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer for 20-30 minutes (add rice and mushrooms just before serving)

Make one box of Zatarain’s wild rice mix according to the directions on the box

Sauté sliced mushrooms on the stove with butter, minced garlic, salt and pepper


Stephanie’s Christmas Workshop

I was in creative hyper-drive this weekend. I have nearly reached the peak of the handmade Christmas mountain. I have two little tiny parts of gifts left to complete tonight, but then that’s it! What ended up being eighteen gifts took me a mere three weeks to finish. Hopefully next year when I start to think about making homemade gifts again, someone will remind me of these past weeks and gently knock some sense back into me.

Tonight, Dave and I will be opening gifts from each other and having a nice evening in front of the fireplace, drinking sparkling grape juice- my favorite. In the midst of our holiday evening together, we’ve also got to do laundry, clean the apartment (which has been put off for several weeks when all my free time was going to crafts…it’s really quite gross) and pack for our trip home.

Since my camera is still missing I will try very hard to get some pictures when everyone is opening their gifts on Christmas Eve and morning. Although this might mean lots of photos of people in their pajamas with no make-up, I think that’s more festive. What are the holidays without family pajama time?

Family Crafting

I promise I’m not talking about Christmas today. Today is just craft chat.

Last night Dave and I sat down to do something we don’t often do. Craft together. I am always making things, and Dave is always constructing – don’t call it crafting, he doesn’t like that – but we rarely do them together. Dave was working on the picture frame for his parents made from a set of shutters we picked up at the flea market and I was working on the gifts for my two closest Nashville friends. We were listening to music (not Christmas music!) and giving each other input on the other’s project. It was great!

The projects are coming along pretty well. I have three projects completely checked off the list. That doesn’t really sound great, but I have six of the remaining sixteen underway, and nine more will be done tonight (the really quick and easy ones)! I hope you’re as excited as I am.

Silent Night

Forgive me for being far too festive lately. I cannot get enough of this time of year, really. I love to be overwhelmed with tradition and festivities and gift making and carols.

But the other evening I had a “true” Christmas moment. I was helping a good friend put her two-year old son to bed and listening in while they read bed-time stories. He wanted to hear a Bible story, so we read about the birth of Jesus. This is a story that I really have heard hundreds of times, but that evening I was so touched by the quiet moment of the three of us sitting on the floor listening to the same story…the story of God giving us His precious son in the form of a baby. The baby born to Mary and Joseph, wrapped in pieces of cloth, lying so sweetly in a manger took on a new sense of reality to me. It could have been watching his little fingers pointing to the pictures and hearing him saying “Mary” and “baby Jesus” and “Bethlehem” that reminded me of the story from the eyes of a child. I truly grasped that Jesus, powerful, infinite Jesus was once a small boy too, listening to stories and sitting on his mother’s lap, snuggling. It was such a sweet moment to witness. It was a beautiful picture of why we give gifts and sing Christmas songs and build traditions. With all the festivities of Christmas that I get caught up in, it was a simple reminder of the true gift we received that cold night in the stable.

You’re Here

Here’s a little Christmas themed inspiration for you today. It was for me at least. These are the lyrics to a song by Francesca Battistelli titled “You’re Here”.

Hold on now, I gotta take a deep breath
I don’t know what to say when I look in your eyes
You laid the world before I was born
Here I am holding You in my arms tonight
Noel, Noel, Jesus our Emmanuel
You’re here, I’m holding You so near
I’m starring into the face of my Savior, King and Creator
You could’ve left us on our own, but You’re here
Don’t know how long I’m gonna have You for
But I’ll be watching when You change the world
Look at your hands, they’re still so small
Someday You’re gonna stretch them out and save us all
Noel, Noel, God with us Emmanuel
You’re here, I’m holding You so near
I’m starring into the face of my Savior, King and Creator
You could’ve left us on our own, but you’re here… you’re here
Someday I’m gonna look back on this
The night that God became my baby boy
Someday You’re gonna go home again,
But You leave your spirit and flood the world with joy
You’ll be here, I’m holding You so near
I’m starring into the face of my Savior, King and Creator
You could’ve left me on my own,
but you’re here… You’re here
Hallelujah… You’re here… Hallelujah… You’re here