The Accidental House Hunt

Josh and I had a plan. A good plan. A plan we both fell confident about. A plan that didn’t involve buying another house for 2-3 years.

And then my girlfriend emailed me this…

Oh my gosh Mary!! A house with trees on an acre in Keller for $XXX,000! That’s crazy. An acre with no house goes for $XXX,000 ($30,000 less) in Keller. AND it’s three minutes from the church- if that! You’d have some work to do to update, but you’d have immediate equity to draw on at that price.

Just sayin’

Me - taking pictures to contemplate the updating to be done in the first house.

See me in the mirror? I’m taking pictures to contemplate the updating I want to do.

I looked up the property and my girlfriend was so right. It was such a great find! It was too good to pass up. Josh and I chatted and decided to veer from the plan.

We went to see the house. It needed A LOT of love to get in ready for us to live in, including some foundation work and an addition to make it big enough to fit our growing family. We ran the numbers, and the house was such a great deal that, even with the money we would put into it, we couldn’t let it go.

We put a contract on the house!

Benjamin posing in the first house.

Benjamin posing while we looked at the house.

A short while later we heard there were multiple offers. We responded with our best offer and waited. Waited for FIVE DAYS. Five long days, praying all the while that God’s Will be done. We certainly can’t see the future, so, even though this seemed like a great opportunity for us, we begged that God take it away if it wasn’t what was best for our family.

And He did. We didn’t get the house. We were outbid.

We had mixed emotions, but there was definitely relief mixed in with all of the other emotions. We just had a massive, multi-year project taken off our plate. We decided to stick with our previous plan. The good plan. The plan that we were both comfortable with. The plan that didn’t involve buying a house for a few more years.

My Benjamin inspecting the first house.

My Benjamin inspecting the first house.

A few days later, I looked up the property again. I don’t know why. I guess for closure or something. While I was on, I stumbled across a different property. It was listed for significantly more than the first property, but it was on 2 acres and in MUCH better condition than the first house. So I fired off this email:


I know this is waaay more than we were planning on spending. And maybe it’s way more than we could ever justify spending…

But take a look at this property. It’s got EVERYTHING: land, location, space, pond… It’s crazy!

It needs to be updated, and, obviously, we wouldn’t have the money to do it right away, but it’s just dated, so we could take our time.

What do you think??

Josh responded quickly and, next thing we knew, we had a showing lined up. While we were there, one of our realtors suggested that we check out one other property that matched what we are looking for…

SOooo, low and behold, here we are – in the middle of an accidental house hunt.


Christmas Eve Tamale Dinner

In Texas, tamales are a Christmas tradition. Two years ago, Josh and I decided to give this tradition a try, in part, to stabilize and fortify our fairly new Texas roots. We had a blast at our first tamale dinner and decided to make it a family tradition. Even if we ever move away, we plan to continue the tradition as a tribute to our time in Texas. Currently, we’re in the midst of preparing for our 3rd annual Christmas Eve Tamale Dinner.

Because we aren’t hispanic, or even true Texans, I have no idea how to make real tamales. I’d love to learn one day, but, for now, we simply order the tamales. I make several sides to go with them, and anyone who attends is welcome to bring a side or dessert if they wish.

I’ve been swept up in the chaos of finals and whatnot, so I’m just getting around to menu planning for our big celebration. I figured I’d take a similar approach to my Christmas morning planning and collect interesting recipes here while I try to decide what I want to serve. The final decision will partly depend on what we get in our produce basket from our coop this week. I ordered extra Mexican veggies, but you can never be quite sure what you will get until you get it. We’ll definitely be serving lots of peppers, because I already have a fridge full of Anaheim chiles and will likely get more in the basket on Saturday.

So far, I don’t have many recipes I’m interested in. I need to get busy looking for more!

Watermelon Salsa

watermelon salsa

This is already a definite yes! It will be on my table on Christmas Eve. The colors are perfect; I can use an Anaheim Chile; I adore sweet & spicy salsas. I don’t think I could possibly find for a more perfect dish!

Mexican Rice Casserole 


This looks yummy and easy. Plus, it’s a PW recipe. I have never, ever gone wrong, been let down, or even remotely disappointed by the fabulous Ree Drummond. I have no fear of making her recipes for guests without trying them out first.

Stuffed Anaheim Peppers


Oh I think I’m going to make these right now! They look so yummy!

If I do get more peppers I think I’ll make something similar to this for the party. I don’t know that I want a rice stuffing, since I’m probably already going to be serving the rice casserole above. I’m thinking black beans, cream cheese, and….something else. Maybe shredded chicken? Maybe bacon? Or SHIRMP?? Oh the possibilities!

Baked Shrimp with Tomatillos


I’m not so sure about this, but I have a pound of tomatillos to use. It looks interesting enough that it might just be yummy. Or not. Either way, it’s going on the table with some fresh tortillas on the side. *Fingers crossed.*

Guacamole Salad


Yes, yes, yes! I was already planning to make some guacamole, but this will just have to be there too. It looks like a party in a bowl. And I can’t wait to taste the lime vinaigrette!

Christmas Morning Menu Ideas 2013

This post is a work in progress.

As you may already know, I’m a list maker. I’m not usually an electronic list maker. I like paper lists. Only very recently (like 6 months ago) did I finally cave and start using the calendar on my phone instead of my tried-and-true notebook style calendar. My phone calendar still poses some limitations for me, but I really like that it’s available to both Josh and me no matter where we are. But I digress…

Anyway, as I’m planning for any special occasion, I begin saving ideas. My favorite format ever used for this endeavor was some app/website that a friend recommended. But I can’t remember what that was. Or even what friend suggested it. It was fabulous. I could save websites in “notebooks” and add my thoughts and whatnot. It was the easiest way I’ve ever gathered recipes for our Christmas Eve celebration.

But, since that website doesn’t seem to want to be part of my life this year, being that it’s hiding from me in some distance recesses of the internet, I needed somewhere to save my thoughts. Somewhere that I would remember where it was. Somewhere that wouldn’t be turned into a coloring sheet or craft project. Thanks to my inability to remember where I put *anything* these days, my blog seemed like the most logical choice. So here I am.

This post will change and be updated as I discover more. Feel free to disregard it or share your thoughts with me. Either way, I’ll know where my recipes for Christmas morning are.

Just in case your curious, we have Christmas morning at our house with just our family. The meal is usually more of a brunch than a breakfast. It also needs to be somewhat easy, very yummy, and kid (and Josh)-approved.

Cranberry, Orange & Pecan Coffee Cake

cranberry orang pecan coffee cakeThis is really high on my list. In fact, I’m not sure I can imagine a more perfect coffee cake for Christmas morning. I suspect Andy and Josh will not agree. I think I may have to make it anyway. We shall see…

Sausage Balls

sausage ballsI used to make sausage balls somewhat regularly when were were first married. They remind me of my sweet friend Ginny from high school and her mama. Her mama always had lot of yummy treats in her kitchen and she almost always made sausage balls  for breakfast after sleepovers. I don’t think I’ve made them in at least 5 years. I think it would be an exciting Christmas morning surprise for Josh.

These aren’t linked to anything because it’s just a 1-1-2 recipe. (1 lbs sausage, 1 lbs cheese, 2 cups bisquick. Combine. Bake. Viola.) However, I just discovered there is a cream cheese variation. That just sounds scrumptious. FYI: healthy eating rules don’t apply on Christmas morning. ;)

Overnight Blueberry French Toast

blueberry french toastThis looks so yummy! It will definitely be easy because it’s an overnight recipe. The only down side to that is we host Christmas Eve festivities, so I don’t know that I’ll have a dish to spare. I suppose I could make it after the party winds down, just before we’re getting ready for midnight Mass. Can I serve this and the cranberry coffee cake? That’s probably overkill for just our family. Hmm…I suppose I’ll have to choose.

Also, Andy won’t eat this. But I don’t think he’ll eat any of what I’m thinking about so far…

Cheesy Apple Bacon Brunch Casserole

cheesy apple bacon brunch

This would be fun and different. I like the idea of the biscuity apple crust. Based on reviews and instinct, I think I’d double the apples (because that’s what really excites me about this recipe, so I want to play it up) and the eggs (because I want it to be more of an egg dish than a biscuit dish.

Breakfast Sausage Casserole

Breakfast-Casserole-Trishas-Southern-Kitchen_s4x3_sm (Boo for little pictures.)

This is a good option, too. I don’t like the idea of white bread on the bottom. I think it would end up pretty mushy and that’s not what I’m going for. But I think I could do something really similar with some cubed potatoes on the bottom. And I think I’d use spicy sausage because this family likes a little kick in our food.


That’s it for now. I’ll keep adding more recipes and ideas as I find them.

“Babe, we need to have a talk…of the morbid variety.”

I’m sure my husband was thrilled to hear that just after I walked in the door last night after spending the last 10 hours up at church. Nothing says “I’m ready to relax and unwind with you” like a comment like that, right? But it had to be done. I’m getting on a plane on Thursday and spending 4 whole days of my life away from my family and then getting on another plane to come home. And I know, I know. Josh is very quick to remind me that I’m more likely to be killed on the way to work than in a plane crash, but I’m a mom. I need to know there’s a plan in place for my babies. And my hubby too.

The truth is we’re really bad at this kind of planning. Neither of us are insured to the level I want us to be, and we don’t have a will. It’s not that I’m worried about distribution of assets…we don’t really have any of those. :0) But my babies…I just don’t know where I’d send my babies. I want a will so I know they will be provided for and raised the way we would raise them. I want adequate life insurance so whoever is entrusted with such a huge task will be able to do so without a huge financial burden. But I just don’t know who that who would be. How do you make that kind of decision?

Josh and I have had variations of this conversation many times over the years, but we’ve never come to an answer we’re happy with. That’s why we don’t have a will. Does that make us the most irresponsible parents in the world? It sure feels like it right now. In this instance, I’m not quite as worried because, if something did happen to me, Josh is still here, and, thankfully, we are on the same page when it comes to parenting. But any time we walk out that door together without the kiddos, it really bothers me. I guess that’s one reason to be grateful that we don’t go out alone very often. In fact, Saturday night we went out without any of the kids for the first time since January. And it was the first time we went out alone since…I don’t even know…I think August of 2009? But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, we are not properly prepared.

If something were to happen to us, I know both sets of our parents would think they have rights to the kids. And, yes, of course we want our parents to be very much involved in our kids lives, but we don’t want them raising them. Neither set agrees with our parenting philosophies and that’s fine; they don’t have to. But if we were gone, we’d want someone raising our kids who does agree with our philosophies and priorities. But can you really sign a legal document that declares that your kids shouldn’t be raised by family, rather friends?

Obviously, you can, but that just makes me feel so guilty. I don’t know why. I know what’s important to me. But I think the difficulty arises because family is also hugely important to me. It just seems so insulting not to trust family with raising my kids. But the fact is, I don’t. Well, trust is too strong a word. Of course, I would trust them to provide for them and love them, but I don’t think they would give them the same priorities and values that we are working so hard to instill in our kids.

These are the moments that it’s really difficult to be a parent. It’s not the endless supply of dirty diapers and 3 different kids getting up 3 different times in the night. Those moments are trying and exhausting, but not frightening. The fear that comes with parenting can be almost debilitating if you sit around and marinate in it too long.

Interestingly, as I wrote that last line, I had the epiphany that, like so many other causes of stress in my life, it all comes back to fear. You would think I would have realized that before just now, but I hadn’t. The Lord really seems to be trying to teach me not to fear. To have faith. To trust. Those are such difficult lessons for me. I am a control freak, in part, because I know if I’m in control things will go as I see fit. No need for faith. No need for trust. No room for fear. I just make sure things happens exactly as I plan for them to happen. But, lately, I’ve been realizing that’s not good enough for the Lord.

I’ve been on a journey of learning to “let go and let God” since October 2008. Yet, he continually he peals back another layer, phrases the lesson a slightly different way, or illustrates his point anew, just hoping I’ll finally get his message. I’m trying. I really am. But this is such a hard lesson for me. Surrendering all to another is so difficult, but it seems especially difficult for me. Did you know that the Lord tells us not to fear 365 times in the Bible? He left us a message for every day of the year to let go of fear and trust him. Isn’t that awesome? I know I’ve strayed entirely off point, but the Lord continually amazes me and I am truly baffled by his constant, patient, and unfailing love for me.  All I can say to that is thank you, thank you, thank you Lord! You are so good to me!

But, wrapping up the initial point of this entry, because I wouldn’t feel satisfied if I didn’t, we are truly unprepared should something unthinkable happen. Now, however, I am much more peaceful about it than when I first started writing. I know that our parenting is in line with the will of God and he will protect that. If he sees fit to bring us home early, he will ensure that my kids are provided for just as he provides for us. That’s not to say that we don’t need to make the appropriate provisions too, just that, as always, God will provide.