Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry CHRIST-mas!

Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday dear Jesus.
Happy Birthday to you!

Merry Christmas family & friends!
I hope that you all have been reflecting on Christ's birth and feeling the warmth that He has provided to you through the love of your family.
Love to you all!
♥ ♥

*Christmas 2011*

*Santa's Little Helper*

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Zachariah Anthony Cooney!!!

To my big, and only, brother,

I know at one point we weren't as close as we are now. Yes, there was a time (I hate to admit it) when I was the annoying, tag-along, get-you-in-trouble and not regret it, pester of a little sister. We knew how to behave in public and put on a good charm for the family friends, but we still weren't close. But on that magical day that I entered high school something changed. Was it something in the air? I will never know. But that day was magical indeed, because for some reason or another, from that day forward we have been best buds. From our Breakfast Club and Patty burrito dates, to playing hide-and-seek at parks, to going on runs together, to watching the Office episodes over and over, we have had some great times and have been there for each other through it all. Yeah for your birth, without you I would be sibling-less and best friend-less. Love ya bro!! :)

*The Birthday Boy with all his presents*

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Forgotten God

This morning I read the last chapter, and therefore completed the book. This was a GREAT book! As I said in yesterday's post, it really has forced myself to ask/answer some serious questions, that I have put off for far too long. Here are some of my faorite excerpts from the book.

"Christians talk about being born again and say that they were dead but now have come to life. We have become hardened to those words, but they are powerful words that have significant meaning. Yet when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, our sanity, or even worse, our God. And can you blame them?" pg 33

"So, if you say you want the Holy Spirit, you must first honestly ask yourself if you want to do His will. Because if you do not genuinely want to know and do His will, why should you ask for His presence at all? But if you decide you do want to know His will, there will be moments when you have to let go of the fear of what that might mean-when you have to release your grip of control on your life and decide to be led, come what may." pg 51

"When we are disunified, unloving, hateful, jealous, gossipy, etc., that is when we grieve the Spirit of God. And since He is the creator of emotions, I believe that the Spirit grieves more deeply that we can even understand. How do you respond when you hear this? Does it bother you? When was the last time you were saddened because your sin pained the Holy Spirit?" (powerful stuff!!) pg. 72

"It is true that God may have called you to be eactly where you are. But it's absolutely vital to grasp that He didn't call you there so you could settle in and live out your life in comfort and superficial peace. His purposes are not random or arbitrary. If you are still alive on this planet, it's because He has something for you to do. He placed on on this earth for purposes that He orchestrated long before we were born." (Eph. 2:8-10) pg. 92

"Have you ever thought about what it means to be "known"? Though I'd been telling people for years that I "knew" God, only recently have I explored the concept of being "known" by Him. It's breathtaking to picture almighty God saying, "I know Francis Chan. He's my son. I love him!" Are you confident this is what God would say if I asked Him about you? Do you know God or just know about Him? Are you acquaintances or intimate friends? pg. 105

This book really is inspiring. But more importantly, it is inspiring for you to actually make a change in your life. I would really encourage you all to read it. You won't regret it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fall Apart

I've been reading through Psalms and have been reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan (GREAT book by the way!!) and have been loving the material I'm soaking in through them both. They both are speaking directly to my heart and are teaching me things about God that I have always known, but never fully taken the time to appreciate. It's really been making me ask myself some tough questions. Like, "Why am I so comfortable?" "Am I doing all that I can to follow God with 100% of who I am, despite my circumstances?" "Can I honestly say that Christ is priority in my life?" "Am I living and trusting with everything that I have on the power of the Holy Spirit or am I leaning more on my own strength and my own power and having the Spirit ready for backup?" These are tough questions to wrestle with, but they have to be asked!

This song by Josh Wilson really sums up how most people live, and some of the time I truly feel that I fall into this category-it's so easy to do! The song is called Fall Apart. If you want to hear him sing it beautifully, you certainly are more than welcome to here!

Why in the world did I think I could
Only get to know You when my life was good?
When everything just falls in place
The easiest thing is to give You praise

Now it all seems upside down

'Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel You now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
And somehow still have all I need?
God, I want to know You more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find You when I fall apart

Blessed are the ones who understand
We got nothing to bring but empty hands, yeah
Nothing to hide and nothing to prove, yeah
Our heartbreak brings us back to You, oh


I don't know how long this will last
I'm praying for the pain to pass
But maybe this is the best thing
That has ever happened to me


I fall apart
I fall apart

Why in the world did I think I could
Only get to know You when my life was good?
When everything just falls in place
*Courtesy of*

Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself these questions? Maybe it's time to.

P.S. I'm packin' for CALI!!!!!! Cali, here I come!! :D

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Psalm 34:19-20

To be completely honest, I've been WAY behind on reading a Psalm a day. It stopped when my family got here, and it's been hard to catch up with it. Actually, it's been hard to make it a priority again. As I was reading my Psalm yesterday, it really spoke out to me. The Psalm was 34:19-20 and it reads,

"A righteous man may have troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken."

Now I think that a lot of people normally would read straight through these two verses, skipping down to the next one just as fast as they read through this one, but not without missing the beauty that lies in these verses. These verses stuck out to me, because I've never broken a bone in my body. I know that might be hard to believe in our day and age, but it's true. When I was younger I thought it would be so cool to break my arm so I could have a cast on my arm, any color of my choice. Cause come on people, how cool would it be to have a Turquoise cast on your arm?!!?? I would try so hard to do things that would result in me breaking a bone, like climbing in trees, swinging on branches, and I really don't know what else I did. I do vividly remember thinking to myself, "If I climb in these trees, I might just fall and break my arm." Really, these were my thoughts! Silly young Jasmine! Looking back on my life, I can see that God was protecting me from harm, and know that He still is to this day. Now, this doesn't mean that if you've broken a bone you can't be a believer or that God hasn't watched over you. I don't think that this verse necessarily means a "literal" protection over every bone in our body, but God watches over our well-being and will deliver us from all our troubles, no matter how that may look. He uses every circumstance for His glory. It simply just means that God is watching over you, and how awesome is that?!?! This is a special way for God to show me that He loves me so much, he doesn't want me to get hurt in this way. Maybe for you it might look differently. Maybe you've never needed to have surgery, or never have dislocated a body part. I don't know what it might be for you, but think about some ways that God has watched over you and your body.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Bunch of Randomness

One thing that I always have loved about Adam is how random he is. Whether it's when we're talking and he'll say something that's so random you just have to chuckle, to what he sends me home from ports. After they took port in Bahrain, I posted everything he sent me in this post. (Hasn't the wall gotten so much better since I first decorated the house!!??!!). This time it's just the same level of random, which I absolutely don't mind! This time I received, drum roll please.......

A pair of workout pants, a pair of slippers and a beanie that someone had knitted and stiched for the sailors, a magnet for our endless collection for the refrigerator, a 9mm bullet case, coins from Bahrain, spare U.S. coins he had, a sticker, and a card.

Who would have guessed all this stuff would be together in one package? But yes, they can be! The only thing that went up on the wall was the sticker, which actually really completes that section of the wall. Here is what the wall looks like now:

*Side angle of the wall. Yes, if you were wondering, I did move the couch back more.*

*A better view*

*A close up of the new additions. We had the license plate for awhile. I randomly found it in the shed (don't have a clue why it was out there) and put it on the wall last week. The Ammunition Far Side sticker fills in the gap nicely that was there before. Ammunition Far Side is posted in every magazine on the ship that has live ammunition. No, our house does not have live ammunition, it's just cute!*

Adam's utter randomness always makes me laugh and puts a smile on my face! :D

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A "Devil"icious Breakfast

Awhile ago I teared out a recipe for make from scratch Cinnamon Buns from a Familycircle magazine, but haven't gotten around to use it or try it out. When my family was in town I thought that there would be no better time than when they're hear to make them. So I bought all the ingredients and ended up making them on Thanksgiving morning. I think this is going to be an AJ Zickefoose tradition for Thanksgiving morning. Why you ask? Because they came out SO stinkin' good, thus the title of the blog. :D They were so good that I just have to share it with you, because you will NOT be disappointed if you make these. I have faith that you can make them taste just as good as I made them.

Classic Cinnamon Buns

Makes 12 buns (I got more like 16-17 out of them)
Prep 20 minutes
Rise 2 1/4 hours
Bake at 350F for 40 minutes

1 cup of milk
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3 Tb granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pacled light-brown sugar
1 Tb cinnamon
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 to 3 Tb milk

1)Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat untili it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and let stand until cooled to room temp.
2)Meanwhile, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large bowl. Add 1 Tb of the sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the remaining 2 Tb sugar, eggs and butter. Beat in cooled milk.
3)Gradually add 4 cups of the flour and the salt, scraping down side of bowl, until a soft dough forms. Turn dough onto a floured work surface. Knead iinto the dough as much of the remaining flour as necessary, adding more it it gets too sticky. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth. The dough will be soft.
4) Grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours (I actually did all of these steps the night before and left it in the oven (turned off of course) over night, and then let it rise more in the morning. It worked out great).
5)Coat two 9 inch round baking pans (or 2 large glass pans) with nonstick cooking spray.
6)Prepare Filling. Mix butter, both kinds of sugar and cinnamon together in a medium-size bowl.
7)Punch down dough. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to an 18 X 12 inch rectangle. Spread the butter-sugar mixture over the dough. Sprinkle with nuts. Starting on one long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion and pinch seam to close.
8) Cut crosswise iinto 12 generous 1 1/2 inch pieces (or be less generous if you want to make more of them at a smaller size). Arrange them in the pans cut side down, in both prepared pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until buns double in size, about 30-45 minutes. Or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the following morning.
9) Heat oven to 350F. Uncover pans and bake buns until they are golden brown and bubbly, 30-40 minutes. transfer to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes (if you can last that long!)
10)Prepare Glaze. Mix confectioners' sugar and 1 Tb of the milk, adding more milk as necessary, to make a smooth glaze. Drizzle glaze on top of buns and serve.

Per Bun, 554 calories; 21 g fat; 8 g protein; 3 g fiber. (not too bad).

Let me tell you, these are soooo good! They would be perfect to serve when family comes into town, at a nice brunch, to church events, or just to eat on any given day for any given reason :D

Happy eating!!! You WILL enjoy this recipe FOR SURE!!

ps. If you are wondering, I DEFINITELY will be making these for Adam when he gets home. He will go CRAZY!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Food Challenge(s) #1

Since the cooking Adam is receiving isn't the best on the ship you know, I've been making new recipes and am always searching for new ones to add to my collection of meals that I will spoil Adam with when he comes home. I've been having a lot of fun finding recipes through the internet, usually via Pinterest or other food recipes like or from an app on my iphone. Let me tell you that these websites are LIFESAVERS!! All of the recipes I have made from them have been successful! I It has definitely made cooking advance to one of my top 5 favorites things to do-really!! I also have been LOVING using my good ol' crockpot.

Because Adam doesn't get good cooking, and I am trying out new recipes, I decided on doing a series of blogs about the meals/dishes that I have made/am making. I am going to call the blogs that I post recipes in, Food Challenge, because I'm challenging myself to adventure out and having the guts to make recipes that I wouldn't otherwise feel like I could do. I am winning so far people! I'm going to start this new blog series off with the meals I made for my family during their Thanksgiving visit. One thing before I begin. What I like about all these recipes you will soon look over, is that they are pretty healthy. Being healthy has become a big part of my life, so it's been very important for me to find meals that have a good calorie count, healthy ingredients, and good flavor despite! THESE ARE FABULOUS, HEALTHY MEALS!! Ok, you can read on now. :D

Last week when I was giving an overview of their visit, I didn't get a chance to put in all the yummy meals I cooked for them, since it was already a long blog with all the pictures. It's your luck, because today's the day folks! Sorry it took me so long, but I finally got around to (a.k.a. felt like) posting a blong with the menu and the recipes. Let's begin with the menu plan.

Since I am only cooking for one these days, I don't really menu plan. I do plan to make certain meals, and plan for leftovers, but mostly I just stock up on my favorite go-to meals and stock up on produce to have a salad when I don't feel like something too heavy. However, you can't do that when you have a house of 6 people! Ya, that doesn't fly. Being that I recognized that before they came, I put together a tentative menu. I left it very tentative, because we didn't have a set schedule or a to-do list, so I wanted it to be flexible and not set in stone. With that said, here is what our menu looked like during that week and a half.

Saturday: Homemade Crockpot Chili and Cornbread
I have already posted this recipe on a previous blog post, but I did want to say that I made it again, and this time I made one pot with the full 3 Tb. of Chili Powder, and another pot with 1 1/2 Tb. of Chili Powder, so people got to choose what amount of spicey they wanted. That worked out well!

Sunday: Kale & Sausage Soup
Let me just say right off the bat, this is the BEST soup ever! It really is, and it's so easy to make, it makes it that much better!

1 lb. Italian Sausage
2 large potatoes, sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Kale, chopped
2 cans chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
(optional: 1/2 can bacon bits)
*Via Marcie Williams, with some twirks*
Cook sausage in a large pot; drain sausages and then damp with a papertowel. Using same pot (to get those yummy juices) Place onions, potatoes, broth, water, garlic in pot and cook on medium heat until potatoes are done. Add sausage (and bacon if choose). Simmer for 10 min. Turn to low heat. Add kale and cream. Heat through & serve. Salt and pepper to taste.

Monday: Crockpot Veggie Lasagna
A couple months ago I tore this recipe out of a Familycircle magazine that my grandma had given me, and have been desparately been wanting to try it. The last couple of months I have made it, and it has been a hit! This is my favorite recipe for Lasagna right now! It's so easy, and it's super yummy, despite it being only veggie (but you could easily add meat to this recipe). What makes it that much better? It's prepared in a crockpot!!! Oh, and it's only 441 calories per serving! Yummy! :D

2 small zucchini trimmed
1 package sliced mushrooms (8 oz)
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
1 container part-skim ricotta cheese (15 oz)
1 package reduced fat shredded mozarella or Italian-blend cheese
1/4 cup packed parsley leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 jar roasted garlic pasta sauce (or your own sauce)
8 traditional lasagna noodles (uncooked), broken in half (I use whole wheat lasagna noodles)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

First coat slow cooker bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Next, thinly slice Zucchini. Transfer to a large bowl and add package of mushrooms and cut up red pepper. In medium-size bowl, combine rocotta, 1 cup of the shredded cheese, parsley, garlic and black pepper. NExt spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce over bottomof slow cooker. Top with 2 noodles (4 halves), overlapping is ok! Blend 3/4 cup pasta sauce with 1/2 up water and set aside. Stir remaining sauce and 2 Tb. of the Parmesan into zucchini mixture. Layer half of t he zucchini mixture over noodles. Top with 2 more noodles (4 halves). Spread with ricotta mixture and top with 2 more noodles. Finish layering with remaining zucchini mixture and remaining 2 noodles. Spread with reserved sauce-water mixture. Last, cover and cook on HIGH for 4 1/2 hours or on LOW for 6 1/2 hours, adding remining 1 cup shredded cheese and 2 Tb. grated Parmesan for last 10 minutes of cooking time. Let stand 10 minutes (if you can wait that long!) before serving. Enjoy!

Tuesday: Crockpot Pork Chops & BBQ Beans, and Potato Salad
I got this recipe in my good ol' crockpot cook book that I've bragged about before. ;D It is super easy to make, and it's pretty tasty!! Let's just say it's a man's meal!

2 16 1/2 oz. cans baked beans
6 rib pork chops, 1/2" thick
1 1/2 Tb. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tb. ketchup
6 onion slices
(I made my own BBQ sauce when I made this, just experimented with flavors, and it came out quite yummy. If you like onion, I would add in more.)

Pour baked beans into bottom of greased slow cooker. Layer the pork chops over beans. Spread mustard over pork chops. Sprinkle with brown sugar ad drizzle with ketchup. Top with onion slices. Cover and cook on high 4-6 hours. (yes, it is that simple!)

Wednesday: Crockpot Salsa Chicken over Baked Potatoes
Let me just say that this is A VERY GOOD MEAL!!! It was my mom's favorite! Also, since I had leftovers, I served it to my friend for dinner the other night and she is begging me for the recipe now. You need to try it!! It's so simple!

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup of salsa
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup sour cream
1 can black beans

Mix soup, salsa and taco seasoning in the bottom of a greased crockpot. Sink chicken breasts into the mixture covering completely. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, depending on size of chicken breasts. Remove chicken, shred and return to crockpot. Add sour cream and black beans and mix well. Heat until everthing is warmed through. Serve over baked potatoes. Leftover you can serve as nachos. ENJOY!!!

Thursday: Thanksgiving Dinner
I stated in this blog, that the ladies of the house hold made a traditional Cooney family Thanksgiving dinner (lunch). It included, Turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, and stuffing. It was so yummy! OF course it gave us leftover for Friday's dinner and for the rest of winter for me!!

Friday: Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner

Saturday: Cheesy Baked Pasta with Vegetables
THIS WAS SO GOOD!!! I tore this recipe out of a Womansday magazine last year and have been dying to try it. I nervously gave it a whirl for the first time while my family was in town, and it came out as a big success!! It's also good, because it's only 394 calories!!

12 oz pasta noodles (whatever shape you want to use: spiral, bow tie, etc.)
1 bag (12 oz) broccoli florets
1 Tb. unsalted butter
2 shallots, chopped
1 package (8oz) sliced mushrooms
4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I use whole wheat flour)
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp ground pepper
1 bag (5 oz) baby spinach
5 oz fontina cheese, grated (I bought cheese, and then lost it some how-don't ask-and had to use mozarella, and it came out just fine!)
1/3 cup plus 2 Tb grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 425 F. Spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray. Cook the pasta according to package, adding the broccoli in during the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain and return the broccoli and pasta to the pot. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat and saute until tender, 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, flour, salt and pepper. Pour into skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, sitrring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes; stir in spinach. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of fontina or mozarella cheese and 1/3 cup of the Parmesan. Pour sauce into pot with pasta and broccoli and toss to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining fontina and Parmesan. Bake until the cheese melts and is beginning to brown, about 10minutes.

Sunday: Leftovers
There was so much leftovers that I needed help eating, otherwise they would go bad with only one of me to eat them, that we had a variety of leftovers Sunday night. Nobody complained. :)

Monday: Crockpot Shepard's Pie
I have a recipe for Shepard's Pie already, but not for one in a crockpot!! This is SO easy, let me tell you!! I changed up this recipe a lot, because I used Thanksgiving leftovers in it, and it was SO yummy!! This is a great use-all-your-leftovers-in-one-meal-and-get-rid-of-them-all-at-once recipe!!

3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 lb. ground turkey or beef (or just any kind of leftover meat- does NOT have to be ground. I used leftover Turkey from Thanksgiving, and it worked just fine!).
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups total frozen vegetables (corn, peas, green beans, carrots, you choose!)
1 medium onion, chopped finely, or 1 T onion flakes (I only had green onion on hand, and it worked just fine.)
1/2 Tsp seasoned salt
1/2 Tsp onion powder
1/4 Tsp black pepper
1/4 Tsp paprika (a bit more for garnish, too)
1 cup water
2 cups shredded cheese (any kind)

Brown your meat if you use ground meat. If using leftover meat skip this step. For both ways, spray crockpot dish, put meat in crockpot, along with spices and garlic. Stir in frozen vegetables and a cup of water. Add two cups of cheese on top. Press the mashed potatoes down on top of the cheese and meat. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours on HIGH or for 3 hours on LOW. Remove the lid and cook on high for 30 minutes to release the condensation (it will smell so yummy in your house!!). After the 30 minutes, enjoy!!!

As you can tell, most of the recipes required my crockpot. This came in SUPER handy when we went on day trips, because I didn't have to come home being tired and having to scramble to put together a dinner for 6. It was stress-free! Love that about the crockpot! For most of the recipes, you can look at the website that I attached, but I didn't follow the recipes to a T on all of them, so I wanted to share my version of the recipes with you.

I really hope that you add one of these recipes, or all of them, to your menu plan sometime soon. You honestly won't be disappointed! You will literally be blown away, trust me!! I am going to make all of these items when Adam comes home, because I know that he will enjoy all of them. Can't wait!!!

Happy cooking and eating!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why's It Feel So Long

Lately I have had mixed emotions about this current deployment. Half of me is like "Wow, this deployment is going by super duper fast," while the other side of me is saying "Is it time for Adam to come home, yet??!!??" Just when I think that time is flying by, which I am not naive to say that it has been so far, I experience those random days where there seem to be extra hours added into the day, which normally would be a great thing, but when you are waiting for someone to come home after months of not seeing them, those extra hours need to go away!!! This past weekend, the whole two days, I have felt like the latter.

I believe that most of it was due to me decorating for Christmas all alone. There was no one to say, "Hey, remember when we got that." Or "That looks really good there." There was no one to share in the excitement of decorating with. More so, when we didn't get to decorate last year, and this was going to be our first. To say the least, a piece of that spark was missing. No matter how much I tell my family that "Yes, I am ok," which I honestly am most of the time, no matter what, that is a lie because there's ALWAYS that knot in your stomach, where the only cure is seeing the one you are away from. Period.

I think a song that explains everything that I am going through right now, is Keith Urban's song, Why's It Feel So Long. I really have grown fond of Keith. Man, I don't think there is a song he sings that I don't/wouldn't enjoy! The chorus of the song says (you can listen to the whole song here),

Why's it feel so long
Since you've been gone
Why's it feel so long.
Time keeps dragging on
'Til you get back home
Why's it feel so long, Baby.
Cause I miss you babe

Well, to set one thing straight, um it has been long!! It's been 119 days as of today since I've kissed, hugged, and waved good-bye to my Sailor, hubby, and love with tear-filled eyes and the biggest knot I've ever felt in my stomach. Each day feels like a year, and every minute feels like a day. It has been a long time, but what gives me hope is the first half of the bridge of Keith's song:

When I finally see you
I know it'll be like you never left at all

*All lyrics courtesy of*

I know that in the end this will all be worth it, just to be in his arms again. ♥ The end is in sight and I know that we can make it through. My oh by golly, do the days have to feel like this?!? Goodness grief!! Cut me some slack! :D

On the bright side of my life, I GOT A CALL BACK FOR A JOB TODAY!!!! It's for a child care position with toddlers. I applied for it a couple months ago and had an interview with them two weeks ago. I will be filling out some paperwork, taking my drug test, and getting my finger prints done, hopefully all by the time I leave for Cali, where I will start officially with them a couple days after I get home in January. I really am looking forward to this opportunity to grow in knowledge and gain in experience. Although I am really scared and nervous, I am looking forward to the distraction. What great news to brighten my day!! I am praying that God will lead me and direct me to where He wants me to be. It all seems to be happening fast, and I just hope it's where he wants me to be and what he wants me to be doing right now.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Tree, Take #2

I experienced for the first time, not a Christmas miracle, but rather a Christmas disaster. Let me explain.

As I stated in the post that I wrote yesterday, I said that I finally found the Christmas tree at a decent price, that just swept me off of my feet. WRONG!!!! It swept itself off of its feet. Meaning, it fell over. Yes, you heard me 100% correctly. IT FELL OVER.

I ended yesterday's post by saying that I was heading off to watch Elf, while sippin' on some lovely hot chocolate. Well the movie was great as usual, but the ending was different this time. Instead of me ending with a happy spirit, it ended with me watching my tree fall down, my dog barking crazy as he thinks there's robbers in the house, and me dazed and confused sitting on the couch. I have to say that that is not the ending that I'm used to!! However, that's the ending that I got. So I did what every normal person would do and took 5 minutes to breathe in and out REAL HARD before I even got up off the couch, realizing that I didn't just dream and that my tree really did fall over! Fortunatley, only some of my ornaments got broken, not all of them. I decided right then and there that I have had it with Rite Aid and immediately boxed up the tree and all its components, and picked up the broken ornaments and threw them away.

So today after church I headed on over to Walmart to take a look at their seletion of pre-lit fake trees, around 6 feet. So glad I went there, I got one for the same price, for .5 feet taller. So I took it home, set it up, and decorated it. I carefully stepped back, and it was still there! Woo-hoo! So here is how are tree looks, for realzies this time (hopefully there are no more trees to have to deal with, although I am an EXCELLENT tree put togetherer now!!).
*Our Christmas tree. It better last us years!!!!*

So I have come to realization, that the positive side to this story is that I got to decorate a Christmas tree 2 times in one season. Not many other people get the opportunity to do that. (I know, that is a stretch :) I'm just glad that I can laugh about this now, maybe sorta kinda laugh. I do like this one better, for the reason of the clear lights and not the multi-color, and it looks fuller. I guess it was good that try fell over. Maybe a little.

I hope no one else is experiencing any Christmas disasters, too!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Spirit

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas at the AJ Zickefoose household! Last year was technically, I mean was, our first Christmas together as Mr. & Mrs. Zickefoose, however, we didn't get to decorate or start any traditions of our own because we were moving out of our apartment and packing up boxes. And nope, I didn't want to put any up, just to take them down. So, this year is technically our first Christmas together, and it means a lot to me to decorate this year. It's hard to be away from Adam during this time, but we're trying to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas, which is Jesus' birth, than what we so often think it is, being with family (more on that in another blog).

I don't have much decorations, but I did have a lot of leftover garland from my wedding and even still from my bedroom project! Imagine that!!! Of course the rest of it was used to decorate for Christmas. Again, SO glad that I saved all of that! I am also glad that I bought some more Christmas decorations on the day-after Christmas sale last year, because I got outdoor and indoor lights for a great price, some red string beads, and a few of my favorite Blossom Bucket figurines from the Christian book store. I am going to get a few more decorations this year on the sales. What I'm going to do is leave up the decorations until after Adam gets home, and then we will celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and the Superbowl together (all the holidays we missed together). I'm super excited for that!!!

As I stated in this blog, where I recapped my family's Thanksgiving visit, I had mentioned that on their last day here they all helped me put up my Christmas decorations. My dad put up the lights in the front and back of the house, and I decorated in the living room and kitchen, with some assistance from my Grandma and Mom. Later on in the week I decorated from tips that I got in Good Housekeeping last year. I had been waiting to try some of them out, and I am excited with the results! Here is a look at what the house looks like from the outside in. Enjoy the virtual tour!


*Front of house*

*Back of house*


*I pulled out the Christmas handtowels*

*If you loook closer, I also changed the scrabble phrase, from Have Faith to Have joy (something very important when missing your hubby during the holidays)*

*Kitchen window*


*Dining room window (I think I am going to leave this up all year; I love it!)*

*Cabinets: I liked the idea of keeping Christmas cards from the years and posting them up every Christmas. I filled up the front of the dining room cabinets, and with the ones I get this year, I'm going to put them on the same cabinets but in the kitchen. Hanging the candy canes with cute Christmas ribbon was the idea I got from Good Housekeeping. Don't you like it?!? It's such a simple way to add festvity to your home.*

*Above Cabinets (A better look at the Christmas Card idea)*


*T.V. stand: yes, the T.V. is waiting for me to get back to my movie ;)*

*A close-up of the garland and the red beaded string. Looks a lot like holly!*

*Our first ever Christmas Tree!!*

*Manger scene*


*Toilet: Some of my new Blossom Bucket figurines; perfect reminders of the true meaning of Christmas!*

*Shelf: Yet another true reminder of what Christmas really means! (you see I need them EVERYWHERE, even in the bathroom!!)*

You probably are asking yourself, why didn't you show the kitchen table or the front door? As I stated previously, since I am going to be leaving up Christmas decorations for awhile, I am going to do little craft projects in the next couple of months to add to the look in the house this year and to also have around for future Christmas'. I will be putting together a table decoration within the next couple of months and for something to hang on the front door, hopefully before I leave for Cali.

I hope you thoroughly enjoyed the virtual tour of our house all dolled up for Christmas! Check in with me later to see some more Christmas projects I endeavor on. Now all that's left for me to do tonight is watch Elf and sip on some hot chocolate. Nothing says enjoying the holidays than watching Elf!

*Elf + Hot Chocolate + puppy snuggles = a recipe for a great holiday night! (couldn't put the puppy on the counter. Sorry!)*

Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Zickefoose Suites

With the busy-ness of me preparing our house and then "office/craft room" into "guest bed room/office/craft room," I never posted pics of what it looks like now. Actually, I never posted pics to begin with of this room, because for awhile there, it was just the host room to a bunch of random boxes/things/junk that I was waiting to either sort through, get rid of, or find a home for. To be quite frank, I was just neglecting to deal with this room, besides the office space. SO, I never posted pics, because I didn't want anyone to see the clutter. But back to my original statement, when I knew for sure that my family was coming up here for Thanksgiving, I knew that that added a whole new urgency to dealing with this room. So, I cracked the whip and made it my top priority. I got a queen size bed/bed frame, and a comforter and sheets for the room. I must have specific taste when it comes to certain things, because it took me F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to decide on a comforter. Actually, my original plan was to move the hand-me-down metal bed fram that we got from one of Adam's old neighbors that we were using on our bed to the guest bedroom, and we would get a new bed set for our room. Yeah, that plan didn't work at all, or at least for right now. I could NOT for the life of me find any bed set that I liked. Whether it was the color, to the look, to the price (!!), none suited me. So I just told myself in an Italian accent, "Forget about it," and I'll deal with it later or when I see one I like at a reasonable price. So I moved to plan B, which was to just buy a metal bed frame for the guest bed and a new comforter. Um, that plan almost failed too!! It took me a good whole week of searching online and in stores, over and over and over, for me to finally decide on one that I'm not 100% about, but for the price, I was just over the endless "will I ever find what I actually am looking for" search.

So this is what the guest bed looks like. I finally decided on this Navy Blue plain comforter from Target, with Yellow accented sheets and blanket, also from Target. I love the yellow, but wouldn't have necessarily chosen the blue, however I do like them together. I like blue, but just not this dark for a room. We'll see what exactly I do with it.

*Zickefoose Guest Bedroom Suite. (Of course Baxter had to be in the picture!)*

If you are asking yourself, man this room looks plain. I would laugh and say, "I just got the bed and the comforter, and it took me forever just to do that, do you think I wanted to deal with decorations too??!!??" Really I would say that. Half of the problem is that half of the room has my craft/sewing table, desk, and filing cabinet, which rests against the wall with the window. I'm thinking that I will decorate the room with California memorabilia. I have been searching at antique shops up here for some, and I come out of luck every time. I'm gonna do some searching around when I visit back home, in a week and a half!!

Well, now that I have somewhat dealt with this spare bedroom, and have had some visitors stay in it and give it a whirl, the bedding is all washed and ready for my next visitors (of course after I get back from visiting Cali)!!! You can stay in the Zickefoose suite any time! Just call ahead for reservations! I'll need about a day max-30 minutes at least notice. If your're extra special, just surprise me! :D

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lessons From Preschool

Since Adam and I have to be away from each other for the holidays this year, I'm trying to do things that will make it easier on the both of us, especially since it's the first time for us to be apart from each other. For his Thanksgiving package I wanted to truly remind the both of us the reason behind Thanksgiving is truly to reflect back on all that you have to be thankful for. With that being said, I sent him a rather interesting assortment of items in his Thanksgiving care package. When I was volunteering for Dabury Elementary School in the preschool class, one of the crafts I helped the kids make was a Turkey. You're thinking, "Duh. Of Course!" But it wasn't only a Turkey, it was a Thankful Turkey, where the each wing represents something you are thankful for in your life. My main job in helping the kids with this craft was to help them come up with things in their life they are thankful for. Let me tell you, that was a tough job! A lot of the kids didn't understand the concept of being thankful. Let's just say that their thankfulness was very simpel and vague, which is definitely ok, since they were just preschoolers. However, it reminded me that we need to learn this concept of thankfulness when we're young. It's a concept that can't be learned early enough.

So, taking this craft and lesson I learned through helping the preschoolers, I thought I would go back to basic "old school" crafts 101, to remind Adam of everything that we have in our lives to be thankful for, despite our circumstances.

*I took the layout of this Turkey*

*And used the idea of Thankful wings from this Turkey*

I forgot to take a picture of my finished Turkey, darn it, but it came out cute I promise!

In the same package, I also sent him an idea that I had gotten from my mother in law, who had gotten it from FB. I had sent Adam Brownies in a jar, but I never thought of sending him cake in a jar, that you actually make in the jar and put right in the oven! GENIOUS!! So I tried it out for this package. It came out amazing and was SO easy! Once Adam received the package, he actually said the cake was still moist, and it had been 3 weeks!! (Although it would have been better if I had sent a small tube of icing. Wasn't thinking right). Of course I sent it to him with a Thanksgiving napkin!

*My results*

The rest of his care package consisted of other "favorite items" of his, like Propel Packets, Mike & Ikes, and of course pictures.

I also wanted to do something special for a Sailor who hadn't gotten much mail. So I asked Adam for a list of names, and chose one on the list at random, and gave the others to my mom and grandma who had items donated to them from church, work, and my mom's class. We were surprised at how much was donated! It was so nice to see people care for our military! I asked Adam for some ideas, but then came up with most of this on my own. I also made it complete with an encouraging note and a bible verse. I did a very simple one, since I didn't want to spend too much money. I was very surprised to hear from Adam that the guy had received my package 2 weeks ago and LOVED it. He needed some of the personal items I sent, and also loved the encouraging note I sent. He said that other guys asked why I hadn't sent them something. That delighted me, but maybe another time!

*A Sailor's package*

All of these kind gestures and reflecting back on things in our lives that we can be Thankful for, can all be learned way back in Preschool. Imagine that! :D

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Refreshing Visit

Sorry I've been a little scarce with my blog posts lately, but as I said in this post, my family has been with me here in WA for the past week and a half, and I was soaking up every opportunity to spend time with them. It was their first visit to our home in WA. So I'm back because they have left me early, early, early this morning. Here is an over-view of our time together.

The first place I took my family was to Poulsbo, the little Norweigian town that I've already blogged about before. It's a small town, but the best part about it is one of their bakery's, Sluy's.

IT IS SO GOOD!!! This was their favorite part of the whole trip! :D

The next day, we went to Snoqualmie Falls. It was a short trip, but they absolutely loved the beauty of it.

*Love Nature!*

*Baxter got to go with us!*

*Poor Bax was shivering it was so cold!*

Next we traveled on the lovely ferry to Seattle, IN THE POURING RAIN! Gotta love WA! we all felt like a good and hearty bowl of Clam Chowder, and ate at Ivars.

*It was scrumpcious!*

*Then we headed on over to Pike's Place*

The next day was a casual day, since we were tired from the previous days. Adam needed a few things, so I prepared a Christmas package and sent it to him the following day. Before I sent it out, however, I thought that it would be nice for everyone to write a card or a thoughtful note to him.

*Adam's Christmas Cards*

The next day was Thanksgiving, so of course the lady's cooked a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

*The Table*

*Traditional Cooney Thanksgiving meal: Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, and stuffing. It was good and gave me lots of leftovers for the winter!*

We heard on the news that Friday would be the best weather of the week, so we planned a roadtrip around the Western Pennisula (around Olympic National Park), which is something that my brother wanted to do, and me as well. It was all of our first time in this part of Washington, except for my dad. Let me tell you, it was a L.O.N.G. day being in the car, but the sites we stopped at were well worth the drive! I have lots of pictures that I will post in another blog, but here are a few.

*Our first view of Olympic National Park. LOVELY!!*

*Lake Crescent*

*We also saw a Bald Eagle on this pit stop!!*

*1st Beach in La Push. Yes, Baxter came with us this day, too!*

*Yes, I made my family stop at Forks. I couldn't pass up this opportunity!*

*Ruby Beach*

We also drove through the Hoh Rainforest, which was beautiful, but pictures really didn't capture it's beauty. It was very beautiful, and very green!

The day after that long, long day, we had another very casual day. We didn't do much, but we went to one of the many Naval musuems in town, which Adam had told me had a lot of stuff from the Stennis there. So there we went on Saturday. To our surprise, almost the whole 2nd floor of the musuem had stuff from the Stennis. There was a really cool interactive touch screen T.V. which displayed the whole ship. You could touch any section of the ship and it would show/explain that department. It was very interesting! It had anchors, knots, gear, and even a display of the bunks that you could crawl into-which isn't easy by the way!

*Where my other half is*

*A display of the flight deck*

*Me in a berthing rack*

Sunday was my brother's last day with us, because he had to get back home on Monday for a Grad-School interview, so before we took him to the airport, we went one last time to Seattle. This time we just went down to the Space Needle and walked around over there. It was a very short trip, but we still had fun.

*Space Needle*

On Monday we stayed at my house and put up Christmas decorations, de-boned the Turkey (which I learned is no fun), and watched the Season Finale of The Sing Off- YEAH FOR PENTATONIX, again!! :D

Overall, it was a good trip. We all had fun together. It was fun to be a host to my family. I loved cooking meals for them (which will be a whole separate blog for all the yummy meals I prepared) and showering them with love in our home. It was a little sad to wake up to an empty house, but I'll be back in Cali very soon!