Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Word of the Year - 2018

So I’ve had some friends ask me what ONE word I would pick to describe what I envision for myself for 2018.  That was easy for me…CONTENTMENT.

My family went through so much change in 2017.  Our oldest son graduated from high school.  My husband took a new job in a new state and headed off there without us.  We searched for a house online and purchased it with a few stumbling blocks along the way, but the pieces came together in such a way that I felt it was meant to be.

I threw away half of what I owned, packed up my house with the help of my friends, and said goodbye to people I’ve known and treasured for most of my life.  I headed across the country with my 3 kids, 2 dogs, 3 turtles, 3 fish,20180110_151041 and a whole lot of faith that the Lord would see us through to the other side of this incredible journey before us.  We were blessed to stay with friends along the way, and we arrived safely at our destination after 3 long days of driving!  We trusted the house would be everything we hoped it would be, and we were not disappointed!  In fact, we've sat together many nights, wondering how we ended up with this whole new life in a totally new place in such a wonderful home with our whole family together.  I had a lot of emotions about leaving behind so many people I loved in VA, but I learned one thing when we got here and were reunited as a family:  Home is wherever we are together.  I liked that phrase so much that I made a sign in my word processor, printed it, colored it with pencils, and framed it to hang on my wall.

Since we’ve been here, I’ve had an overwhelming sense of peace and…well…contentment.  There’s that word.  By the end of the year, we had finished the renovations and repairs to our old house and turned it over for rental.  Just before Christmas, we were again blessed to have a tenant move in!  And at Thanksgiving, we learned that Hayden’s accident from the year before when he was struck on his bicycle by a van was settled out of court, and he received his settlement from that in early December.  Everything came together, and all the loose ends were tied up.  That left us free to feel as content as we wished to be for the new year!  Hayden’s settled into his first job, our homeschooling has continued without a hitch, Steve has settled into his new job, and we’ve settled into our new home.  Contentment reigns! 

I’m looking forward to this new year!  I’ve begun reading through the bible again chronologically, studying with my best friend in the world and discussing it as we go.  We’ve found little ways to keep in touch, and I’m thankful for that…true friendship continues, unhindered by the lack of physical presence.  That’s a blessing, too.

Contentment.  That’s my word for 2018.  What’s yours?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Special Promotion!!!

Check out this special sale on the newly updated website!  Click the image below for more details and to read the newest reviews of from the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

Act now while this sale is on for the month of January!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy 10th Birthday, Holden!!!

December 28th represented a major change in the Burgess household.  It was my youngest child’s 10th birthday!  That means there are no longer any small children in my family…they’ve all moved on to double digits!  I officially have one adult teen, one early teen, and one tween!  Where did the years go?

I know God gives us many seasons in our lives, and this is a new one for us.  I miss my precious babies of long ago, but at the same time, I’ll embrace this new season of my life with gusto!  Each season brings changes, and some of them are good.  All of them are in His timing.

And as they each get older, they are still my babies in my heart. ❤️

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017!!!

We celebrated our very first Christmas here in TX.  It was actually pretty good!  Two years ago in VA, it was so warm on Christmas day that we were all in short sleeves, and the kids were wearing shorts!  Oddly enough, it was actually quite cold here in TX. 

It was nice that our whole family was home together.  Steve and Hayden usually don’t have the same days off, so it was lovely to be able to have them both here to celebrate the holidays!

I hope you all had a wonderful time with your families, too! 

Merry Christmas to all!

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Our Christmas Surprise!!!

This year, we got the greatest Christmas present we could have imagined, and that was the unexpected news that we now have a tenant in our house in VA!  We’ve been pouring money into repairing and renovating the home we left when 1455 Pecan Ct, Virginia Beach, VA 23453we moved here to TX this summer, and we’ve been carrying that mortgage alongside this one for the last six months.  It was a bit of a painful journey, but now we’re officially on the other side of things…all of our VA business is now squared away, and we can finally consider ourselves settled in here in TX!  Hooray!

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to hear that news yesterday.  I really had no idea what our financial picture was going to look like day to day until this business was all settled.  Now I can begin to budget and anticipate with more accuracy what our monthly bills will be like.

Not only have we been carrying the extra mortgage, but all of the utilities there, as well.  We had to keep them all on while all the work was being done, and also while it was being marketed to potential tenants. 

We were so excited that my while family went out to dinner last night to celebrate.  That’s not something we do very often, but it was definitely cause for celebration!  Steve and I are giggling and high fiving like two people who just won the lottery!  It’s really all coming together now…that vision we had of what it could be like if we took that leap of faith in moving down here for a new job and a fresh new start for all of us.

I feel so truly blessed.  The Lord’s provision never ceases to amaze me, and He has been so very good to us.  I feel so unworthy of His love, and yet He loves me still.  *AMAZING.* 

I’m truly thankful in so many ways.

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!  May your time with your family and friends be something very special to remember in the years to come.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

My Newest Kitchen Gadget–Power Air Fryer XL!!!

The infomercial for the Power Pressure Cooker XL playing over and over in the middle of the night to me and my young son had us both convinced many years ago that we had to have one!  And we weren’t wrong about that…we did end up buying one, and it got a lot of use.  In the end, it had some issues, and we ended up getting the Go Wise 8-qt. Pressure Cooker to take its place.  It comes out at least once or twice a week and has become instrumental in saving us time and turning out great meals, particularly in the winter months when soups and stews make a regular appearance on our menu.

So I guess it’s no surprise that the infomercial for the Power Air Fryer XL convinced me that I had to have one of those, too!  LOL.

My sister has been telling me for years how much she loves her air fryer and how it makes perfect fries…and she is a connoisseur of fries!  I’ve had it somewhere on my radar for about a year, but I just couldn’t justify the cost, nor did I know enough about them to gamble on any one brand or model.  But Steve started looking at getting me one for Christmas since I wouldn’t spend the money on one for myself, and when he found the Power Air Fryer XL on sale at Kohl’s, he came home and told me I should probably just go ahead and work out my best deal on it while it was on sale if I wanted it for Christmas, so that’s what I did!  Between the sale price, some stacking Kohl’s coupons, some Kohl’s rewards, and a $25 Kohl’s gift card I’ve had since last Christmas, I was able to get the price down to about $70!  And on top of that, I earned another $10 in Kohl’s cash and got 3% cash back through e-bates!  Then because I ordered online but picked it up in-store instead of getting free shipping, I earned another $5 in Kohl’s cash on top of that!  Not a bad deal at all.

I got the bigger 5.3 qt. model.  What I love most about this brand over the others is that it’s the only one with a copper basket.  That means it’s really non-stick, and I don’t have to worry as much about the surface peeling after repeated uses.  That’s one of the complaints I’ve seen made regularly against other brands of air fryers.  Because I love my Go Wise pressure cooker so much, I started out looking at their air fryer, but it had tons of complaints about the non-stick surface peeling off after a short time of use.  That made it a no-go for me!

I really didn’t know too much about air fryers, and I wasn’t even sure how I was going to use it.  But so far this week, I’ve tried out a number of different things in it, and it’s all turned out really well!  I put plain old frozen fish sticks and fries in it using the included divider for the basket.  I had to do a lot of shaking doing both at once because the food wasn’t in a single layer, and that definitely makes a difference. Once the fish was done, I removed the divider and laid the fries out flat.  They crisped up quickly then!  They were so good.  No burned edges or unevenly cooked fries. 

Next, I made some frozen country fried steaks.  Those turned out really, really well.  They were evenly crispy all over, and they were not greasy like they usually are when they end up cooking in their own grease in the oven.  Any oil dripped into the outer basket, and the steaks were perfect!

Then the other night, I tried out a recipe for homemade egg rolls.  I made the filling in my pressure cooker and then rolled up the egg rolls and baked them in the air fryer.  They were really crispy, and no deep fat frying!  That was pretty cool.  The key is cooking everything in a single layer.  I made a lot of egg rolls…enough for two dinners for 5 people…so I cooked them in 3 batches.  It didn’t take long, though, so doing separate batches was not a big deal.  Very cool!  And when the leftovers got soft in the fridge overnight, I just tossed them back into the air fryer for 3 minutes to crisp them up again.  Easy peasy!

Then this morning, we were pressed for time, and I wanted to bake some frozen Pillsbury Grands biscuits.  I didn’t have the kind in a can.  I couldn’t find online where anyone had made the frozen ones successfully in the air fryer, so I set the temperature at 380 degrees for 15 minutes.  They were browner than I wanted them to be, but they were fully cooked and soft inside, and they weren’t burned.  I would probably do 13 minutes next time.  Very good!  And no preheating is required with the air fryer, so it saved me a lot of time overall.

I really love how it only takes a minute to clean up the fryer basket when I’m done cooking.  I literally swish it with soapy water…the inner and outer baskets…and wipe them dry with a paper towel.  Done!  Can’t beat the easy cleanup.  So I think I’m hooked on this thing.  The texture is great, and it cooks so evenly.  Cleanup is a breeze, and it saves on time.  I’m all in!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Great Stocking Stuffer!!!

If you have kids like me, and you’re on a last minute hunt for a unique gift or a great stocking stuffer, you should check out the brand new product line from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  It’s called Magic Stix Washable Markers

You might already be familiar with their Kwik Stix and Thin Stix tempera paint sticks, but Magic Stix are an awesome new line of markers!

Here’s what makes them different:

  • You can leave the caps off for up to 7 days, and they are GUARANTEED to NOT dry out!!!
  • They are odorless.
  • They are washable.
  • They are non-toxic

They come in either a 12-pack or a 24-pack in bright, bold colors, and you can get them now from!  They even come in a hard plastic storage case with a carrying handle!  Each marker snaps into place inside the storage case for your convenience.

I tried them out myself in an adult coloring book yesterday, and they were amazing!  The colors were so vibrant, and they had strong tips, so I know my kids won’t push too hard and smash them.  I also really liked how I could fill in small spaces with just the tip, yet I could angle it and color with the side for a broader stroke.  And I especially liked that handy storage case!  I like to keep my markers in order by their shades of color, which is exactly how they’re packaged.  Perfect!

These would really make a great gift for children and adults alike who like to color.  Pair a set of these with a nice coloring book, and you’re all set

Happy coloring!

Disclaimer:  I received a FREE copy of this product in exchange for my honest testimonial about this product.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.