Auld Lang Syne

I turned 26 and Mike turned 30 (ahh! haha)
We bought our first home
Adopted a new rescue puppy
Photographed three weddings, a few engagements, and a lot of babies
Firenzi business has taken off
Mike became unemployed in September... and re-employed in December

Most of you know from Facebook, but Mike got a job! After we had a huge letdown a few weeks ago, we were prepared for disappointment with this interview. However, a recruiter sought out Mike because he spoke Portuguese (he learned on his mission) and that's the skill they were in dire need of. Starting January 2nd, he will begin work at Phillips! The best part is, besides a great salary and benefits, it's literally ten minutes from home. :BIG sigh of relief:

Since then, I've been able to take some days off of work and regain my sanity. Mike and I have spent more time together, and more time with our furry "kids." The 3-month unemployment trial is over, but we're not so quick to forget the hardship. There was a time where we couldn't afford to cover our bills and still eat. Of course our parents were there, but that came with guilt. I hope I can help out my kids in the future like we have been helped. This trial also taught us more of the good and bad about ourselves; granted, we'll be learning more about each other throughout our marriage, and it's only year #2. We didn't give up, and made it over the speed bump. We will look back on this and feel grateful for years to come.

We also made it through the Mayan end of the world, and the zombie apocalypse. Mike was playing zombie-fighting games to prepare :) Here's to a new year coming up. May 2013 be the best year yet!

Merry Christmas, and a bright and happy new year to our friends and family. We love you and appreciate you in our lives.

Here are some highlights from the past month and this awesome Christmas season (most via Instagram).
Our Christmas tree
Winter blossom at the Spencer house
Watching "White Christmas" in front of our Christmas tree

Baked gingerbread cookies with Michael and Cassie. This is the gingerbread blob... thing. :)
Wore white and green for Sandy Hook Elementary.
Photos Michael took of Cassie and her daughter Ariel
Made the traditional Spencer family fudge
Maya in front of the Christmas tree
The Christmas turkey at the Spencer house


Merry Christmas!

We've gone digital with our Christmas card this year. Enjoy!
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Somethin' Pumpkin: Spiced Pumpkin Soup

I know I haven't caught up for the past few weeks, but I had to share this recipe. We just had this for dinner tonight even though I didn't have cardamom or cumin, and it was a-ma-zing. I also didn't have an immersion blender, and didn't really need it. I'm so glad this recipe was saved on my fridge for a few months! It's perfect for fall and winter, and to keep you warm on these upcoming cold Christmas nights.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup
{original recipe from Parade magazine)

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin
1 (12-oz) can evaporated fat-free milk
6 Tbsp plain fat-free Greek yogurt
Parsley leaves, for garnish

1. In a large pot, heat oil over low for 30 seconds. Add onion and cook 3 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in spices, salt, and pepper. Cook 1 minute, stirring.

2. Whisk in broth and pumpkin. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add milk and simmer for 2 minutes.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Add a little more broth to thin, if desired. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with yogurt and parsley. Add pepper to taste.


Grateful for November

With the holidays in full swing, it feels like these are the most cozy/sentimental/emotional/wonderful months of the year. Life changes constantly, so maybe it just feels like there have been so many changes happening at the same time. I decided to focus on being more thankful for things than I have been, and update my Facebook status once a day in November to share what I was grateful for. It has REALLY put things into perspective and makes each day better.

1: I'm grateful for such a good husband.

  • A few days beforehand, I chopped my hair off 5-6 inches and didn't like it. He made me feel at ease about it, and encouraged me to make it REALLY short. I don't have the guts or desire to go that short.

2: I'm grateful for my amazing parents. They do SO much for me still. I love them a ton!!

  • Little did I know this would again ring true two weeks later, when my back molar has decided to ache, I need dental work done, and have no insurance. Being taken care of growing up, I now deeply appreciate those seemingly small things. I feel guilty leaning on my parents, even though they said they'd be here for us. Someday I'll figure out how to repay them.

3: I'm grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the LDS church for being such an inspirational part of my life since I was 19, and even before that through friends and ancestral connections.

  • Another rough week had passed for both of us, and church has kept us at peace. Every Sunday is a much-needed recharge in order to survive each new curve.

4: I'm grateful for naps.
5: I'm grateful for work, even when the hours are long.

  • I recently picked up a tutoring client through a friend. While I appreciate it, now I'm working 45+ hours a week, not including making crafts. The way I manage it is ONLY thinking about ONE day at a time. If I look at the whole week, I get overwhelmed.

6: I'm grateful for the country in which we live and those who have served it.

  • I was pretty disappointed by the election results. However, I have faith that good will still continue to be seen despite so many chaotic things happening.

7: I'm grateful for my mind and the education I've been able to attain, as well as the education of life I'm getting every day.
8: I'm grateful for the good people I work with in education who are honestly striving to make life better for their kids.

  • There are people on the other end of the spectrum who are in education merely because they can dominate it. They are a huge part of why it's so messed up.

9: I'm grateful for cloudy, rainy days that make being at home in your socks drinking hot cocoa so much more cozy.

10: I'm grateful for pumpkin banana bread. mmm.

11: I'm grateful for knowing how to take care of a sick husband, while enjoying a lazy weekend.
12: I'm thankful for such amazing, true friends that are there time and time again when I/we need a shoulder to lean on, and there for a good time. Same goes for extended family members who are there constantly giving good vibes and love.

  • There are friends. Then, there are GREAT friends. Certain people are close at times in your life, and move away at other times. I am so grateful for those close friends we have now. They're the kind of people you can tell are truly good, inside and out.

13: I'm thankful for my health. When you're sick, it makes you appreciate NOT being sick.
  • Caught from husband. Luckily we're 95% better, and I didn't miss any work that I would have possibly taken off.
14: Grateful for heaters. I LOVE having a warm classroom and home. 
15:  Grateful for FOOD. I love the act of eating and all of the tasty food in the world, and the fact that we are blessed to have it every day. It's a wonder I'm not three times my size with how much I've enjoy food.
16: I'm grateful for FRIDAYS.
17: Grateful for humility. Each new struggle or failure teaches me everything is in the Lord's time.
18. I'm thankful for hope. Often it's what gets me up in the morning.
19: I'm grateful for little kids. They remind me to aim to be my best in everything in order to make the world better.
20: SO grateful for vacations. I love exploring new places, or even just staying close to home and spending time with family while relaxing (whatever that word means).
21: Grateful for random acts of kindness. Little things, sometimes big things, make a big difference in someone's day.
22: Grateful for my parents, sister and her husband, aunt and uncle, grandma, and dad-in-law who are close enough to come down to our home for Thanksgiving around their schedules. So glad that boot camp kicked my trash last night so I could eat as much as I wanted! Thanks Driven Fitness.
23: I'm grateful for my furry children, past and present. Besides my parents' dogs Smokey and Pepper, my first was Moppy, the fluffy pekingese; then Cookie, the crazy springer spaniel. I adopted Ozzy from the pound, who has become the son my Dad never had; then Harley, the chi-weenie who aims to please, and Maya, the scaredy-cat. I love them all. Dogs are special companions who are there for you through thick and thin, when you want to play or when you just want to cry.

24: I'm grateful for photo work and unplanned visits with such good old friends.
25: Thankful for silence. Gives me time to think, to meditate, to breathe, and to focus on one thing at a time.
26: Grateful for cars. They make getting to/from places sooo quick and easy compared to walking and buses. 
27: Grateful for text messages so I can see sweet and positive notes from loved ones.
28: Grateful for silliness. It makes elementary school so much fun.
29: Sooo grateful for hot showers after a workout.
30: Thankful for hope, and the holiday season. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy getting gifts for everyone.

EVERYTHING has made me feel more grateful.