The Story of My Keys

As you may have seen on my Facebook page, this week started with a hiccup…a pretty BIG hiccup. The story goes like this….

On Monday Morning I left the house, to go get some work done at the church. We live on a street with a large locked mailbox at the end where we and the majority of our neighbors get our mail. . It’s on the way out of our neighborhood so I stopped, as I typically do, on the way to work to pick up our mail (our mail comes insanely early each day).

I am driving our 2017 Chevy Cruze. It has a key-less, push-bottom start, and so it’s easy to put the car in park, hop out, unlock the mailbox, jump back in the car and head into town. And I did just that, got the mail, jumped back in the car, and began my morning.

A little back ground, we live in a small town outside of Salem, OR. It is about a 12 miles drive by highway. It is a nice drive, but it is a little inconvenient. So I try to maximize time that I spend in Salem getting all my errands done. That morning, I needed to stop at Hallmark (located in the mall in downtown Salem) to pick up a birthday card. When I go to our mall in Salem, I typically park the car in the garage. It’s close and convenient.

On this particular day, after parking in the garage, I hopped out of the car and instinctively reached for my pocket to make sure I had my keys with me…but no such luck… no keys. I got back in the car and started searching the console, the passenger seat, cup holders…you know. No keys to be found. Maybe I dropped them outside the car? Nope.

At that time I realized that a good way to check and see if the keys were in the car would be to push the start button and attempt to start the car. If the remote is inside  the car it will start. When I push the button, the car won’t start, and I see the message “NO REMOTE DETECTED.” Well, I think….I must have dropped the keys in the few steps I took outside the car. THEY ARE NOWHERE TO BE SEEN. I get back in the car to look again. Suddenly the car alarm starts to sound. Small short blasts of the horn at first, then long loud blasts. People are walking by and staring. Meanwhile I’m frantically looking for the stupid keys. Finally after shutting the door and sitting very still the alarm goes off. Thank the Lord! By now I realize I cannot find the keys. And I’m stuck. I decide to get out of the car and call Sam.

After I get out the car, the alarm starts to sound again. I am sure that someone from mall security is going to come arrest me at any moment for attempting to steal my own car….

I call Sam’s cell phone several times…obviously he is at work and can’t answer his cell phone but I keep trying…car alarm still blasting in the very echoey parking garage.

After what seems like an eternity, and a lot of prayer, the car alarm stops one again. And, I decide to call Sam’s Branch and try to get a hold of him. His manager answers and I am able to speak to him. I explain that somehow my keys have vanished and I’m stuck in the mall parking garage (about a 5 minute drive from Sam’s Bank). Miraculously, Sam switches his lunch with another coworker and comes to my rescue.

When he arrives, I am standing near the car with the alarm blasting once again. People are really starting to stare now, and I am at my wit’s end. Luckily, my wonderful husband has BOTH of our car faubs on his key ring. He gives me his faub and I am able to start the car and turn off the alarm! But, where are the keys???

By now, I start to think about where they keys may be…did they fall out by our mailbox? A 12 miles drive away. Did they fall out at the Starbucks drive-thru? I just don’t know. After a very long hug and a lot of thank yous, Sam heads back to work. And I begin the drive home to try and find the keys.

Several things are running through my mind at this point. If someone has found my keys there are a number of potential issues. 1. Because my mailbox key is on the key ring, a would be key-finder could easily figure out which house is mine. 2. My house key is cutsy and has a big house one top that says “HOME”. Why did I ever want the cute key? 3. Both our car faubs are on my key ring. The Jeep faub costs $75 to replace, and the Chevy faub is $150 to replace. I’ve read the manual. 4. How much will the dumb mailbox key be to replace? The list goes on.

So here I am trying my hardest to drive the 55mph speed limit on my way home. I turn down our street, and my eyes instantly look to the mailbox. One of our neighbors, an adorable lady who must be about 100 years old is standing in front of the box, so I can’t see the box. I hurriedly park the car and dash to the box.

Miracle of miracles, my keys are right in front of my nose, dangling from my mailbox. I can’t believe it! What luck! At that moment our neighbor who lives closest to the mailbox comes out his front door and asks if those are my keys. I reply a very embarrassed yes.

Apparently, not long after I left my keys in the box, he arrived home and found them. He took them out and figured out which house they belonged at. He walked down to our house and tried to return them, but no one was home. He stuck them back in our box, but was keeping an eye on them out his living room window to question the person who would come claim them.

So there’s the story. I ran leaving my keys in the mailbox. Thankfully, my wonderful husband came to my rescue. And our very trustworthy neighbor kept the keys, our home, and our valuables safe.


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Delicious Slow-Cooker Oatmeal (And I don’t even like oatmeal)

It’s true, oatmeal is typically not my breakfast food of choice. But, when I was getting ready for the Christmas Eve Brunch that Sam and I hosted for our families at our house, I stumbled across this delicious recipe on Pinterest.


Many of you also know that I am obsessed with My CROCK-POT. Well, I should probably say my CROCK-POT collection of all shapes, sizes, and patterns. And I have my eye on another new one as well! The one you see in the picture is my very first CROCK-POT, bought for my by my favorite Auntie Kathy when I moved into my first apartment.

Follow this link to find the original recipe for this Apple Cinnamon, Steel-Cut Oatmeal. The original recipe is delicious, but we made the following tweeks to it, the second time.

  1. I did not include the optional butter. It just felt like wasted calories.
  2. I used 3 apples instead of 2. Who doesn’t like more apples?
  3. I added 2 more teaspoons of brown sugar.
  4. I added 1/4 cup of craisins.


Finally, we topped this oatmeal off with heavy cream and candied walnuts. It went over really well, and it tasted like dessert!

Not Your Typical Reuben Sandwich

This week has been busy, and we’ve had a lot of things going on. But, whenever life is busy or stressful I find comfort knowing that at the end of the day I can whip up something delicious. Then Sam and I can have a great dinner at the end of a long day.

I love love love Reuben Sandwiches. When we’re out to lunch, and there’s a Reuben on the menu, I usually end up ordering it. In our neck of the woods, it has been rainy and cold and I’ve felt like comfort food. While a sandwich is usually not my comfort food, this oven baked Reuben Sandwich alternative is  a warm, cheesy, comforting option.


This recipe, Reuben Crescent Bake, comes from Taste of Home. You can find it by clicking the link here.  I just leave off the caraway seeds, because I’m not the biggest fan of them. Enjoy!

Perfectly Poached Eggs



For most of my life I was NOT a fan of eggs…in any form! I thought they were slimy, greasy, and unfit for human consumption. I slowly began to embrace them as I got older…the occasional deviled egg, eggs in my mom’s potato salad, and MAYBE a fried egg when we had breakfast out.

As an adult I discovered my love for POACHED EGGS. I adore poached eggs, they are soft, creamy, and sophisticated. Above is a picture of a beautiful take on Eggs Benedict that I had on our honeymoon. Sitting on top of this masterpiece are two beautifully poached eggs.

Recently, Sam and I were making breakfast on a weekend morning thinking about having eggs. At home, our go to is scrambled eggs since neither of us is very good at frying eggs, and poaching seems like to much work….until now! I’m happy to share with you our recipe for Perfectly Poached Eggs.


1 fresh egg (to poach well, eggs must be fresh, just ask Julia Child)j

1/2 cup Water

Salt & Pepper as desired


  1. Pour 1/2 cup cold water into microwave-safe mug. (You can use any mug you like. We found that smaller 8oz mugs work best.
  2. Crack 1 egg into mug with water.
  3. Microwave on HIGH POWER SETTING for 1 minute.
  4. Remove egg from mug with fork and add to your favorite breakfast combination. (For a runny yolk, remove from mug right away. For a firm yolk, leave egg in mug for an addition 30 seconds.

Decorating Fun (leftover from Christmas)

Christmas is always a busy time for us. Sam and I are both musicians, we both come from families with teachers, I am a teacher, we are heavily involved with church,  and we have family spread out all across the country. But one of our favorite traditions is decorating.

As a kid, some of my favorite memories are of mom, dad, and me decorating our house for Christmas. People always complemented on how much they loved our decor. Every inch of the house was/still is covered in lights, fake snow, nativity scenes, nutcrakers, little treasures, snow globes, and many other keepsakes. We always decorated the first weekend of December and ordered pizza.

Sam and I keep that tradition alive in our little family of two as well. The first time Sam helped me decorate my house for Christmas was when we were dating. He had driven 750 miles to visit, and I really really wanted us to be able to decorate for Christmas together. It was early November, but he happily agreed. Little did he know the ordeal that it was.

At that point in my life, I only had 5 Christmas trees in the house, plus the rest of the decor. We donned our Christmas pjs and set out eating pizza, and decking the halls. I have a photo of Sam, on the living room floor, diligently putting together one of the Christmas trees, lovingly fluffing each branch to make it look perfect. It’s one of my favorite memories of our dating years. He found out how crazy I was about Christmas that night. We stayed up until 3am getting the house ready for Christmas!

Fast forward a few years to Christmas 2017. We now have more trees, more rooms, and more decor!


Here are just a few of the containers that hold all of our Christmas decor.


Sam and my mom diligently preparing our new “winter wonderland” tablescape.


Sam and mom trimming our Hallmark Keepsake tree in the office. It is lovingly bedecked with out collection of Hallmark Keepsake ornaments that we have collected over the years. Growing up, mom always bought me several Hallmark ornaments each year. Then when I moved into my own home I already had a huge collection of my own ornaments!



Here is me and mom with the completed winter wonderland table in the dining room. It turned out perfectly!

Happy New Year!

2018 is here and I am back from my blogging sabbatical. I admit, I thought I would be blogging again sooner, but the holidays came and I was so busy decorating, baking cooking, wrapping presents, hosting, going to family gatherings, and investing time in my husband, our family, and friends, that the blog came last…and that’s okay. People always come first.

A few things have happened since I last was here. First of all, I started a new job. (I’ll tell you more about that later). Sam is now in full swing as a banker…yay! And we are both rambling around our home that is now devoid of all Christmas decor, sadly, wondering how our living room can now look so so empty.

Because things got so busy in December, I was never able to share my Christmas decor with you. That I truly regret. And I’m not going to bore you with them now that Spring fever is probably setting in, but I will share a few photos from the fun that we had decorating our home. My mom came down from Portland to help us one weekend before before Thanksgiving. It is quite the chore to manage ALL of our Christmas decor.

Also…we have learned the secret to perfectly poached eggs, AND made a scrumptious Quiche Lorraine. So stay tuned for those exciting new things too!20171224_111339.jpg

Our Thanksgiving Honeymoon

Well here we are. The Christmas season (the most wonderful time of the year) is officially upon us. I simply cannot believe that 2017 is nearly gone. The year Sam and I got engaged, planned a wedding, got married, and made countless memories with family and friends. I’m sad to see 2017 go, but so excited for what 2018 has in store for us.

It’s time for me to tell you all about our fabulous trip to Bend, Oregon for our honeymoon/Thanksgiving getaway. Here we go!


In anticipation of any weather as we crossed the Santiam Pass, we borrowed Sam’s parent’s Subaru Forester. All I can say is we were thankful to have it. No, not because there was snow….we had hopes for snow…but it was balmy in the low 60s pretty much the whole time we were there. What was so wonderful about the Subaru is the size. Both of us are good at packing (Sam is a pro at making everything fit in our gorgeous London Fog luggage (currently on sale at Macy’s), and I am a pro at making sure we forget NOTHING), but we always overestimate the amount of clothes, food, shoes, and toiletries we might need. I mean who knows…what if all your socks get eaten by bears. Or, what if you’re stranded for a month and need enough food to carry you through. Or, what if the Queen decides to come for a visit and you need something formal to wear. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW. So when Her Majesty does pop in for an unexpected spot of tea, we’ll be ready 🙂

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We found an amazing condo for the week at Mt. Batchelor village on VRBO. This amazing vacation rental sight has been one of our top favorites for years. This was the stunning view from one of our two balconies. It was great to be able to sit in the hot tub and night and have beautiful views of downtown Bend in the distance.


One day, we enjoyed an amazing breakfast at McKay’s Cottage near Bend’s Old Mill District. Sam had this beautiful omelette.


I enjoyed this beautiful Tex-Mex take on Eggs Benedict their “Baja Chicken Hash Stack.” Topped with one of my favorite things, poached eggs.


One of the highlights on our trip was snowshoeing on Mt. Bachelor. This we did through Wanderlust Tours.  It was a first for both of us and it turned out to be so much fun. It almost didn’t happen though. it had rained the day before and they called to let us know we probably wouldn’t have good enough snow. Lucky for us, it snowed enough overnight to go ahead with our excursion.


We had our ups and our downs along the trip 🙂 But Sam always manages to land in style…good thing I was the one holding the camera or you would have seen me face-planted in the snow!


Here we are at the end of our trip with our awesome guide, Jared. He is a adventuresome New England transplant who fell in love with the beautiful Pacific North West. Can you blame him?


The next day was Thanksgiving. We wanted to spend the day celebrating, not cooking. Especially since it was just the two of us. So we enjoyed a beautiful Thanksgiving buffet at McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Downtown Bend. I was skeptical at first. I love holiday food, done right! But we were both pleasantly surprised. The place was packed, but we had made a reservation months in advance, so no problem there. And the food was delicious; traditional stuffing (just like the one we made together), moist turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, and fresh rolls. Just like a home-cooked meal. The only disappointment was the sub-par pumpkin pie, but we made up for that with other deserts we had brought with us.


We realized how hungry we were once we got there!


A festive, yet simple table setting that was easy to switch out between guests.


Always on the hunt for delicious eateries to make our regular stops on adventures, we began our Black Friday festivities at The Sparrow Bakery.  Here is the delicious breakfast sandwich I enjoyed; complete with arugula, avocado, Gruyere cheese, and a beautiful poached egg, on a freshly baked croissant.

After breakfast we did a little shopping, I sneakily bought Sam a few presents while I sent him off to look for other things…hehe.


Our fun Black Friday ended in perfection. A side-by-side massage at Sage Springs Spa at the Sunriver Resort.  This was Sam’s first massage which was a fun bonus! Followed by 30 minutes in their beautiful Oasis Room. A perfect end to a perfect day! Followed by Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, of course!


Our wonderful time in Bend flew by much to quickly. Before we left, we made pilgrimage to The Sparrow Bakery’s second location. Here is a beautiful latte and some very festive sugar cookies we enjoyed.


I braved my first Monte Cristo Sandwich at Sparrow as well. I wanted a bagel, but they were out. So I knew it was a sign for me to venture into the great unknown. If you are unfamilar with the amalgamation of things that is a Monte Cristo it contains: turkey, grilled onions, Gruyere cheese, raspberry preserves, egg battered bread (think french bread), and a topping of confectioner’s sugar. It was weird, but not bad. I might even order it again when we return.

So there it is, a brief photo recap of where were were hiding out this Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday filled with good food and the people you love.

Soon, I’ll share our Christmas decorations with you!


Hopefully Helpful Thanksgiving Advice

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Well here we are…Thanksgiving day is nearly upon us. If you are hosting a holiday meal you should have been planning before now, BUT if you have procrastinated….do not despair my friendly advice will see you through to a perfect holiday meal.


1. Choosing a bird(s): people have lots of opinions about the perfect turkey. Fresh, frozen, free range, heritage? Blah Blah Blah… I think that if cooked well, fresh or frozen turkeys will taste equally delicious. My advice is this, if you have 5-6 days to defrost your turkey just buy it frozen. It will save you a few dollars at the grocery store and it will taste wonderful. Norbest is my favorite turkey brand. If you go this route allow 1 day per 4 pounds for your happy little bird to defrost. Place it on a towel at the bottom of your refrigerator so it doesn’t leak everywhere.

2. Have enough turkey: Let’s face it…most people want white meat. I’m sorry to all you dark meat lovers, but it’s true. So make sure there is enough. Once you start carving a turkey it can be sad just how little breast meat there is. If you need to do more than one turkey, just do it! If you don’t have time, oven space, or the desire to make an entire 2nd turkey, just make an extra turkey breast in your CrockPot. Click Here to find a delicious recipe for a slow-cooker turkey breast from Taste of Home. 

3. If you have ANY turkey questions, there are experts to answer them: The lovely people at Butterball, even if you don’t buy their turkey, are happy to answer all your questions via the Turkey Talk-Line at 1-800-Butterball (1-800-288-8372). They are real live-savers, and they know EVERYTHING about turkey.

4. Choose the right roasting pan: Having the right tools makes cooking easier, but a good cook can make do with even the most primitive tools. Nevertheless a good non-stick roasting pan will make your turkey and your gravy a complete success. Last year my mom bought me an amazing non-stick roasting pan from KitchenAid.  It is a bit of an investment, but it truly changed everything. Instead of trying to scrap up yummy bits for my gravy, I just used a nice silicone spatula to painlessly gather yummy drippings from the pan for my gravy.

5. Don’t stuff the bird: I know many of you are ready to stop reading my blog forever now, and a year ago I would have agreed with you. BUT, last year I tried an “unstuffed bird” and it was so much more moist. And it cooked in much less time.

6. Plan Plan Plan the cooking time: Your bird will need time to roast, so plan oven space accordingly. However, make sure to plan enough time. I roast my turkey at 325° in a conventional oven for about 15 minutes per pound. 

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Side Dishes:

Turkey is great…but there are so many other wonderful things to be eaten as well.

Obviously, the most important side dish is Stuffing or Dressing. This is important, and it is one of my biggest pet peeves. If it is cooked INSIDE THE BIRD it is called stuffing. If you cook it OUTSIDE THE BIRD it is called dressing…capish?

Here is the recipe AND cooking method for my favorite stuffing. Stuffing should be simple and delicious. Many people add weird things like cranberries, chestnuts, or sausage. Please don’’s not good and many of your guests may not eat pork sausage (WE DON”T) so just don’t do it. For goodness sake, one year MARTHA added oysters…and that’s enough to make me leave the table.

If you aren’t stuffing the bird, for heaven’s sake don’t bake the dressing in the oven. It will dry out and be gross. Just cook it in your Crock Pot. This method saves time, space, and requires no thought at all. The first year I made stuffing in my slow cooker it changed my life!

Ian’s Traditional No-Fuss Slow-Cooker Stuffing/Dressing:

1 stalk celery (not rib, the whole stock cut into ribs): washed, dried, chopped

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

4 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 large bags bread crumbs: These are everywhere this time of year I buy Franz. Save the seasoning packet that it comes with. 

5-6 slices stale white bread cubed (just set some out a on the counter a few days before you make your stuffing. Adding this bread will make your stuffing even more moist and delicious.

4-5 cans Swanson’s chicken Broth (don’t buy fat free, it has not flavor)



Salt and Pepper


  1. In a large skillet, saute celery and onion in butter/margarine until tender. Set aside.
  2. In very large bowl combine breadcrumbs, stale bread, and sauted veggies.
  3. Add at least 3 tablespoons of sage to mixture, 1-2 teaspoons of Thyme, and seasoning packets from breadcrumbs. Make sure there is enough flavor.
  4. Slowly begin to mix in the chicken broth, one can at a time. Only do this until the mixture is moist. STOP when it is moist.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Put mixture in greased large slow-cooker. Cook on low setting for at least 4 hours.
  7. Or, stuff into your turkey and allow extra cooking time.
  8. Or, (BUT PLEASE DON”T) bake in a greased casserole dish in your oven at 325° for 1.5 hours.


Vegetable Sides: 

1. Veggies are always a conundrum to me because no one seems to like the same thing. I usually stick to several standbys. Homeade Creamed Corn…honestly for this search Pinterest for a recipe that sounds appealing to you, I’m still looking for the perfect one. Roasted Acorn Squash. Again find a recipe that you like. And Brussels Sprouts. Sadly in our family I have to eat them alone. I like to steam them and then drizzle a sauce mixture of lemon juice and mayonnaise.

2. Fresh Green Salad: This is always nice to help you feel better after eating so many “cooked” dishes.

3. Mashed Potatoes: Really just an excuse for gravy, but they can be tasty. I do believe that instant mashed potatoes have their time and place, but it is not on Thanksgiving Day. Make your own, mash them with your hand mixer. The best part about these is that they can be made ahead and put in a greased slow-cooker for several hours too. There’s no reason to be slaving over a hot stove for the final hours leading up to your meal. Get some of these things done ahead of time.



I am always guilty of smothering my Thanksgiving meal in gravy. It’s just so tasty. I love a simply gravy recipe. This recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking is perfect!


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We’ll talk about dessert another time. Enjoy! And keep planning!




Our Thanksgiving Table…and My Holiday Tips & Tricks

It’s that time already. We are in the midst of Thanksgiving preparations. (If you haven’t started your preparations already, you should hurry)! Sam and I love to host holidays. Last year we hosted Thanksgiving, and it was wonderful.

This year our decorations are purely ornamental because Sam and I are taking a snowshoeing trip to Central Oregon for the week to celebrate our belated honeymoon. But, nonetheless we have to have holiday decorations up, so here is our dining room.


Here is Sam lovingly laying out the Thanksgiving table cloth and table runner. I hate trying even them out and line up corners…Sam is really good at it!

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Here is one view of the finished product. This table setting is really my testament to how you really can “design on a dime.” You just have to purchase things after each holiday.

  1. The tablecloth was a summertime clearance buy at Macy’s. I paid $5
  2. The table runner was a Michael’s purchase…$2.38 
  3. The centerpiece was only $6.00 at Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts. 
  4. The green tapers and their holders were less than $10 at Target. 
  5. The plates and water glasses were from the DollarTree. Don’t judge…they look great.
  6. The napkins were literally 25¢ each at Kohl’s in July. 

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Here’s another view of our table. Complete with bread and the gravy boat that my mom bought us.

Next stay tuned for my EASY THANKSGIVING HACKS…