Our first Fall in the Valley

Hi Friends! Sorry it has been so long!

Things have been very busy for us. It has seemed so long since our last post. 

Something that I didn't get to include in my last post was that I attended the wedding of my good friend Rachel McCall, now Rachel Schlie. Her wedding was in a small town near Pittsburgh called Cabot, PA. My good friend Shayla picked me up from the airport and we had a great time catching up. Our friends from CUW, Matt and Katie Barry, were kind to open their home to us to stay while we were in town for the wedding. It was a beautiful wedding! I also had the pleasure of catching up and dancing with the lovely Al Chandler and Amanda Voss. It was so great to see everyone.

Nate's parents came to visit at the end of October. We had a great time with them. We went up to San Antonio with them since they had never been there. We had a nice time walking the Riverwalk and shopping at the Marketplace. We gave them a taste of authentic Mexican food, including Tamales! There is this excellent place called Delia's that has extraordinary Tamales. They are very popular to have at Christmas time and they are inexpensive which makes them even more delicious! Nate's parents ended up staying for a couple of extra days because of hurricane Sandy. Fortunately, they did not suffer any damage from that devastating storm. It was a very nice visit.

The day that Nate's parents left was the day of the Fall Festival at St. Paul. There were some carnival like rides. There were game booths, karaoke and some great food. There was also a cakewalk. This was the first time that Nate had ever experienced a cakewalk and he was glad that he would be able to finally partake in this tradition. Now the expression, "It's a cakewalk", finally makes sense to him. For the festival Nate and I dressed up as Buzz Lightyear and Jesse the Yodeling Cowgirl from Toy Story. It was a great night!

As many of you know, pastors and their families really can't travel home for the holidays. For Thanksgiving we were here with our close friends from the church, mostly the called workers who are in our situation, being far away from family and some others. We had an excellent potluck style Thanksgiving at our friends Carrie and Elin's house. We proceeded to play games, watch football and take naps. There was also Black Friday preparation. It was very nice. We are very blessed with a group of friends down here that serve as our "family".

Speaking of Black Friday, everyone knows that I love a good deal. Black Friday is a big day for me every year. Now, let's be clear. I am not a crazy Black Friday shopper. I will not set up camp outside a place of business three days before a sale is to start so that I can get a 60" tv for next to nothing. I will partake in the sales but I get there when the store opens or a little bit after and wait until everyone walks in and then I enter. However, my favorite Black Friday deals are the ones that are online with free shipping. Kohl's has great Black Friday deals and offers them all online with free shipping for orders over $50. I was finished with my Kohl's purchases on Wednesday and didn't even have to leave home, or so I thought. On Thanksgiving, I was talking with my friend Carrie while we were going through some ads, after we had returned from Target. A beautiful 7ft pre-lit Christmas Tree caught her eye in the Kohl's ad and we were back out. Kohl's was packed. They really need to invest in some better shopping carts because many of the Petsmart carts from next door had been commandeered for Kohl's shoppers. We found her Christmas tree after some hunting and then proceeded to spend a very slap happy hour and a half in line waiting to check out. It was actually really fun.

Things in 1st grade continue to go well. The students are still funny and sweet. This past week I subbed in 5th grade. It was a nice change of pace. I was pulled into 3rd grade last minute on Thursday to sub and the 1st graders were very concerned. I've learned that if you ever want to feel like a million bucks, just spend several months with a bunch of 1st graders, leave for about 3 days and then return. There were hugs and so many stories about what had happened while I was gone. It was so cute.

There was a dessert auction for the youth at St. Paul. and I make some delicious cupcakes that sold for $90! I found this recipe on Pinterest and was very glad that I did. In the process of making these, I mistook the speed lever for the tilt-lock lever on my Kitchen Aid mixer...twice. Needless to say, things got a little messy. Haha.

Here is the recipe:


Makes 22 cupcakes
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pure pumpkin puree (not canned pumpkin pie filling)
  • Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin pans (22 cups–you’ll have 2 less in one pan) with paper liners; set aside.
In medium bowl, blend the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, blend canola oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree and blend well. Add the flour mixture into this pumpkin mixture and stir until blended. Pour batter into muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans for about 5 minutes, then remove to completely cool on a wire rack.
You can make the frosting while cupcakes are cooling…
Makes enough to generously frost all your cupcakes! Halve the recipe if you want to frost your cupcakes more lightly.
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese (regular or light), softened 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 7 1/2 to 8 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Blend softened cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add in vanilla and cinnamon, blending everything well. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar a cup at a time, blending mixture after each addition. Frost cupcakes when they have completely cooled. If you’re not serving these soon after frosting them, refrigerate until ready to serve (because of the cream cheese in the frosting).

Source: http://nancycreative.com/2012/09/21/pumpkin-cupcakes-with-cinnamon-cream-cheese-frosting/
We also had a Chili Cook-off at St. Paul in which I tied for 3rd place with a recipe for Cincinnati Chili. It turned out good but I think it could have been better had I had more time to make the chili. 
2 lbs ground beef
2 cups chopped onions
4 cups beef stock
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 -3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate or 2 3/4 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons instant minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 bay leaves or 1/8 teaspoon bay leaf powder
chopped onion (optional)
finely shredded cheddar cheese (certainly NOT optional)
kidney bean (optional)
1. Brown ground beef and onion.
2. Drain.
3. Add beef stock to beef mixture and simmer 10 minutes.
4 Add remaining 13 ingredients, simmer uncovered 1 hour.
5. Remove bay leaf, skim off extra fat.
6. Serve over hot spaghetti, or hot dogs in buns for chili dogs.
7. Top with plenty of cheese and other optional toppings.

Read more at: http://www.food.com/recipe/skylike-chili-skyline-chili-copycat-110548?oc=linkback

That's all for this very long post. Sorry for the length and for the delay. I hope that you all are having a great approach to Christmas! God is Good!