Recipe – Favorite Baked Macaroni and Cheese

favorite baked macaroni and cheese at happy home fairy - yum!

Well, I apologize if your one word for the New Year is ‘HEALTHY’ because this recipe is going to cause a conflict of interest in that endeavor.

I have shared about the hubs’ passion for homemade mac and cheese a couple of times before.  His mom made it from scratch when he was growing up so I knew that if our marriage was going to last that I would be wise to learn the art of making this dish myself.

If you have ever made a boxed macaroni and cheese, you will find that this recipe is a bit more labor intensive, but the flavor and payoff and the letting out of your pants will be worth it.

Favorite Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients -

  • 8 oz package elbow noodles
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 1/8 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups (plus extra) shredded cheddar cheese (for optimum taste, I buy the blocks of cheese and freshly shred it myself – makes a BIG difference)

Directions -

  • Cook pasta for 9 minutes.  Drain, cover, and set aside.
  • In medium saucepan, melt butter.  Blend in flour, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly; gradually add milk.
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Gradually mix in cheese.  Stir over low heat until cheese is melted.
  • Add pasta; mix together lightly.  Pour into a 2-quart casserole.
  • Sprinkle top with more shredded cheddar.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (we like to bake it until the top browns nicely).

Winter comfort food at its best.

Happy Homemade Mac and Cheese-ing! :-)

My “One Word” for 2015

JESUSFor the last several years I’ve heard of bloggers choosing one word to be their theme for the New Year.

Generally I am always several steps behind on trends.  Case in point – I finally bought a pair of skinny jeans the other day and then a friend informed me that bootcut style is coming back in.

<<Sheesh.>>

So here I am a whole year later ready to jump on the one-word band wagon except for the fact that I don’t believe that anyone else is on the wagon with me.

Hubs and I got to go away for a couple of days to celebrate our anniversary this past week and I had 2 priorities (besides enjoying time with my bearded prince).

1.  SLEEP.

and

2.  READ.

2 things that I am seriously deprived of as a young mom being that {{regarding the first priority}}, the boys have absolutely NO internal clock regulating the normal hours of human waking.  I think my children are operating on Australia’s time zone.

I am happy to report that I accomplished my 2 goals successfully and even added a 3rd – binge watch TV.  I hardly ever watch TV at home – mostly because the tyranny of the urgent always wins out (ie. laundry does not go away on its own), but when I go on vacation I turn into a total couch potato and suddenly everything takes a backseat to getting caught up on episodes of Love It or List It.

My mom got me THIS BOOK for Christmas and I read it in less than a day.  Every time I would take a break to put it down I would say to the hubs, “This book is SO convicting.”

My heart was challenged in a hundred ways to be a better mom this year.

And this cannot happen unless I am fully satisfied and filled up with Jesus.

He is what it ALL comes down to.

JESUS.

The gospel is what I want to give my kids more of this year.  I want to pour out on them the joy and forgiveness and patience and kindness that He has shown me through His work on the cross.

When their early wake-up rituals threaten my sanity joy, I will remember that JESUS laid it all down for me.  And I will lay down my desire for sleep.  No complaining.  No fussing.  I will joyfully rise to serve.

Because that’s what Jesus did and I want my family to see the gospel in me.

When tempted to blow a gasket over the messy house, I will remember that JESUS laid it all down for me.  And I will lay down my desire to live in a perfectly spotless home.  I will lay down my need to be in control of every little thing.  And I will laugh at the explosion of Play-Doh and smile at the Sharpie lines in the carpet and the drawing someone did with chalk on the couch cushion.

Because I want my family to see the gospel in me.

When I feel that nagging despair that no one sees or appreciates the 100 million loads of laundry I do or 6 trillion dishes I wash every day or the bazillion hours I spend correcting and training my darling little boys, I will lay that down, too.  Because the gospel is not self-seeking.

Because when we are truly living in the fullness of the Good News WE DON’T NEED THE PRAISE OF MAN.

When I want to fret and be anxious over the boys – their health, their behavior, the weird noise they just made in their sleep – or worry about our finances, my marriage, friendships, jobs… I will lay it down because Jesus trusted His Father and lived a life of open-handed surrender to the One who knows best.

I want my family to see the gospel in me.

When I want to check out and be distracted (ahem – iPhone), I will lay that down, too.  Because Jesus shows us that people – relationships – are more important than things.

I want my family to see the gospel in me.

When I want to punish my children with cold silence and disappointment, I will instead choose to quickly extend forgiveness and throw in a tickle fight, because in Jesus there is absolute freedom from sin.

There is great love and great acceptance.

And in my dying to all the things that my human, weak, frail flesh wants, I discover the abundant, happy life in choosing Jesus.

That is the gospel.

So this year – this 2015 – my one word is Jesus.

I desire more of Him – more of the gospel – more of what He did and what He provides this mama’s heart than anything else in this world.

And when I’m weary of laying everything down, I will simply persevere until the hubs’ and my annual anniversary sleep/read/binge-watch-TV vacation. :-)

Totally kidding.  Because we all know that the gospel is most beautifully communicated in our weakness – remember that.

Stay humble.  Repent.  Submit.  Obey.  Trust.

And love lavishly.

But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again when he raised Christ from the dead—only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved— and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms—all because of what Christ Jesus did. And now God can always point to us as examples of how very, very rich his kindness is, as shown in all he has done for us through Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-7 (TLB)

julie

 

 

 

**At time of this post, (in)courage launched their annual One Word 365 challenge – see it HERE and join in the fun!  I guess I am not behind on the trend after all. :-)  And now I’m off to buy the bootcuts.**

11 Years

howsweetthesound-90

Hubs and I celebrated 11 years of marriage on Saturday.

His mom called in the morning and asked if we wanted her to watch the boys so we could go on a lunch date.

Of course we said, “Naaahhhhh, we’d much rather stay home and watch the boys destroy everything in sight and break up their wrestling matches occurring every 5 minutes.”

Who am I kidding.  I was in the shower before the hubs hung up the phone.

Once the boys were situated at Grammie and Pop-Pop’s, the hubby couldn’t even speak for most of the drive to the restaurant because he was coming down from the stress of the circus act of simply leaving our house.

Ha!

But once we got within a few minutes of food, I saw his shoulders relax and we were able to genuinely smile at the hostess who commented, “Now, there’s a fine-looking couple.”

Over lunch we wrote down our list of highs and lows from the year – a tradition I talked about HERE.  Just a numbered sheet of memories on paper, but a wonderful treasure and keepsake of our story.

2013 was kind of a rough one for our marriage, so we spent most of 2014 healing and learning to love each other well again.

If someone were to ask me how we stay together in the midst of marital difficulty, I would say simply to SHOW EACH OTHER GRACE.  Be willing to forgive anything and everything, openly communicate needs, see them as God sees them, and continually remind one another that you love them and are NOT going anywhere.

Some of the highlights from the year was our trip to the Bahamas (see HERE), we got to attend a Miami Heat game together in February, the hubs taught Happy Buddy how to swim, I was quoted in the March issue of Parents Magazine, that time our kitchen was overtaken by mold, I started working full-time and so far our house hasn’t imploded and I haven’t lost my mind, hubs got to go on some epic scuba diving adventures, and we survived Happy Baby’s pneumonia hospitalization.

At least there weren’t any rectal prolapses this year.  PHEW.  Dodged a bullet on that one.

It’s always fun, but sometimes a bit bittersweet to look back over what the Lord has done in our family.  We make no pretenses to have it all together.  We have learned, however, to praise God in the good AND the bad.  We are able to see His hand of faithfulness in every single thing.  And we remember that He loves us – no matter what – He loves us.

One thing I realized as we talked about our kids is that Happy Baby will be 3 in a few months and I am fairly certain that I shouldn’t be calling him Happy Baby on this blog anymore.

So after our list I suggested that we make a few goals for the new year.

Mine were simple – 1. Nose ring (lol, I STILL want one, but have to wait until summer), and 2. Get pregnant.

The hubs had 1 goal.  It read like this –

VASECTOMY.

Hahahahahahhaa.

I showed him grace by not slugging him in the face.

– Julie :-)

“Be humble and gentle.  Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.  Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.” Ephesians 4:2-3

*Amazing photo above taken by my heroes at 13:13 Photography.  Go HERE if you want to see the rest of the hubs’ and my photo shoot.  And if you have photography needs and live in South Florida, then you better give these 2 super talented people a call.*

This Glorious Mess

glorious mess 1 glorious mess 2 glorious mess 3 glorious mess 4

The hubs read from Luke 2 on Christmas morning before we dive bombed into the presents.

He spoke aloud that Mary pondered and treasured the events surrounding Jesus’ birth in her heart.

And I thought how good it is to practice pondering.

To be present in the moments we are given – to think on the very things playing out in front of us.

Like the moment when I picked up Happy Baby from the nursery on Christmas Eve only to find that he had pooped his pants and I had forgotten to pack a fresh pair.

The dear nursery workers insisted on finding spare clothes, but Happy Baby confidently – and somewhat defiantly – toddled his bare legs and diapered tush off to the sanctuary before anyone could look.

He raced to the front of the church, climbed on the stage and stood before the milling crowds half dressed and bent over, happily blowing out all the candles from the service.

I smiled and laughed and pondered.

It was one of those moments where things weren’t perfect by any means.  My child was running around pants-less in front of 300 people.  He was so happy, but also extremely tired and I knew there would be a super tantrum when I told him it was time to get off the stage {{there was}}. But for those few minutes I treasured the zaniness of it all and even found it to be strangely… beautiful.

Because messy moments are often the ones that dot our days.

There’s the physical mess of our homes – the toys everywhere, the crumbs, the dust.

There’s the emotional mess, too – the impatient moments, the selfish moments, the resentful moments, the insecure moments, the ungrateful and discontent moments.

There’s the spiritual mess – the moments we doubt, get angry with God, or skip another day of spending time in His presence in exchange for an idol.

But for all these things – for all this mess – HE CAME.

I would imagine that when Mary pondered the moments that were unfolding around her, she could see that in all the mess that was her son’s arrival, there was something glorious.

Someone once said that one of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day.

Wrapping paper shreds, tissue paper crumples, boxes, bows…

And the message in all that mess is love.

We love, so we give.

God loved, so He gave.

He knows our need…  To our weakness is no stranger…

He was born into our mess and carried it all on His back.

All the way up the hill He carried our mess and nailed it to the cross.

So our mess could be made glorious.

Ponder this, sweet friends, because somewhere in between our stubborn, half-naked toddlers and our clutter and our tired selves is not a mess, but a message ringing loud of His unfailing love and coming for you.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

- Julie :-)

Merry Christmas

christmas photo

 First family picture where EVERYONE is smiling!

It might have had something to do with the fact that A. We were in Georgia visiting Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop at Thanksgiving and the boys were in heaven. And B. Mom-Mom was doing jumping jacks and what we thought sounded like chicken noises behind the camera and the boys thought it was hilarious.

I pray y’all had a blessed Christmas today celebrating the Lord’s birth – the One who came to be the only thing that could ever truly make our homes happy.

Please know that every one of you is very dear to me.  I am so thankful for all of your sweet comments and encouragement and for taking the time to read this little blog.

I am daily awed that you make the Fairy a part of your world and hope that my words are always pleasing to our precious Savior and uplifting to your precious heart.

Merry Christmas!

Joyfully,

Julie :-)

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

What Santa’s Bringing

santa 1santa 2santa 3

10 am!santa 4santa 7santa 6

We went to see Santa today at the mall.

Happy Baby didn’t want to have anything to do with him and kept clinging to me like a little koala bear repeating, “No Santa.  Afraid.”

But Happy Buddy was absolutely thrilled and even stayed {{mostly patient}} while we waited in line for 25 minutes.

I couldn’t get any close-up photos because an army of elves made me put my camera away because I wasn’t about the fork over $45 for a photo package that would probably end up getting bent or torn on the way to the car.

But the moment when Happy Buddy sat on Santa’s lap with that childlike sparkle of wonder in his eyes and the jolly old man asked him what he wanted, I thought it might be fun to preserve the memory of gifts that will be given to my boys this year.

I mentioned HERE that we are doing 3 presents per child, so here are the 3 items Santa will be leaving under our tree this Christmas for my 2 boys.

happy buddy's giftsHappy Buddy’s Gifts

1. Youth Football Helmet and Jersey – The hubs got really into watching weekend football games this fall and he often invited Happy Buddy to join him.  This was very inspiring for our boy and has since held imaginary football games every day in our backyard – complete with a numbered puzzle that he uses as a scoreboard and frequent outfit changes to personify various teams.  I once had to carry him off the ‘field’ because of an injury.  All he told Santa that he wanted for Christmas this year was a football helmet and jersey – in honor of the hubs’ and mine alma mater, of course.

2.  Melissa and Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards – We have this sweet, precious babysitter that comes to watch the boys on the night we have worship team practice and Happy Buddy always asks her to bring a game that is similar to this pattern blocks and board set.  He is definitely more of a mathematical thinker (I have NO idea where he gets that from), so I know he will get a kick out of this.

3.  BIG Picture Bible – Happy Buddy and I read a story from the Bible every night before bed and we like to start new Bible versions when we finish one.  We have worked our way through the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook and the Storybook Bible a few times so I thought it was time to try something new and I had read on someone’s blog somewhere that this was good.

happy baby's 3Happy Baby’s Gifts

1.  Giant Monkey Suitcase – Do you remember Happy Baby’s DVD obsession?  Well it has mushroomed into this beast we can’t control.  Like the other day we went to Target and he had a massive meltdown because I wouldn’t let him walk out of the store shoplifting the 15 DVDs he had picked up and tried to stuff under his shirt when I wasn’t looking.  Which brings me to the sad fact that he is not content with just one DVD anymore, but must carry 4-5 in his zippered ‘monkey bag’ lunchpail (see HERE).  While at the airport over Thanksgiving vacation, he saw another child pushing this matching monkey suitcase and he kind of freaked out.  It will probably hold about 30 DVDs.  I think we just might melt his brain with this one.

2.  Peppa the Pig DVD – Speaking of DVDs, we had to get him a new one and I am not going to lie, I have a MAJOR crush on this show.  Have you seen it?  Totally ADORABLE.  Favorite part is the random pig snorting.

3.  Sock Monkey Jack-in-the-Box – They sold this at a little shop in our mall and every time I took the boys there, they would beg for me to take them to the ‘Sock Monkey Store’.  Happy Baby especially delighted in the surprise element of this toy and I know he is going to be so happy to have it under our own roof now.

We’re filling the boys’ stockings with a few odds and ends like Minion bandaids and new sunglasses and their favorite treats.

my boysI can’t wait to see their faces on Christmas morning.  I am pretty sure they will both be up somewhere in the 5’s because they are so excited about Christmas morning they have been practicing getting up in the 5’s every day since school went on break thank you very much.

Which leads me to believe that maybe I should have bagged all the ideas above and just gotten them some Ambien for Christmas.

:-)

What is Santa bringing your kids this year?

– Julie

Super Easy Reindeer Cookies

super easy reindeer cookies

We made these super easy reindeer cookies with my 2 year olds on the last day before Christmas break.

Needless to say it was mass pandemonium about 20 minutes after ingestion and we had about 3 poopy diapers simultaneously, 2 kids wrestling on the floor, and the rest of them running around like little gingerbread men.

I called them to order with the promise of 2 weeks of ‘Mommy Time’ and a sticker.

And the sweet grace of Jesus.

Here’s what you need -

reindeer cookie ingredientsreindeer cookies 2reindeer cookies 4reindeer cookies 1The instructions are pretty self-explanatory!

I know your buddies will love doing this as a little pre-Christmas activity this week.

Just watch out for the wrestling.

;-)

Merry Super Easy Reindeer Cookie-ing!