Quick and Easy Stuffing

Easy Stuffing Recipe

Growing up I was responsible for the stuffing....which I now know is the hardest and most time consuming recipe we make at Thanksgiving/Christmas!! As a teenager it would take me 3-4 hours to make!! I'm a little faster now but it's a lot of work to make Louise's Famous Stuffing.  If you have the time then I'd recommend Louise's Famous Stuffing...but if you're short on time check out the recipe below!! 

Christmas Grief Activity

Holiday Grief Lesson

The holidays can be so hard for our students who are struggling with grief. Everyone around them is celebrating...and they're in pain...missing their loved one. This is a wonderful little lesson I did with my grief group right before the holidays.

Beginners Guide to Decorating Sugar Cookies

Decorating Sugar Cookies for Beginners

I just LOVE cookie decorating!! I may not be the best at it...but over the years I've definitely improved!! I've taken some cookie decorating classes, watched online tutorials, asked my friends (who decorate cookies professionally) for advice, and just learned from trial and error.  The one thing I've learned is that there's definitely an art to cookie decorating....and it takes lots of practice and patience!! 

Now I'll be honest...I don't really practice cookie decorating. It's a lot of work and I never wanted to be a professional cookie decorator...I just wanted my Christmas cookies to look decent!!  So whether you're just starting off or you're just wanting to step up you Christmas cookie game...you've come to the right place!! I'm going to share my favorite recipes, helpful websites/tutorials, helpful cookie decorating accessories, and some other tricks I've learned over the years. 

DIY: Rae Dunn Inspired Ornaments

Christmas Ornaments

Are you in love with Rae Dunn but can't afford to spend that much $$$ on Christmas Ornaments?? Well if you're like me and you want that Rae Dunn look on a teacher income...don't worry...I've got the solution for you!! You can easily make some Rae Dunn inspired Christmas ornaments for under $15 (assuming you already have a Cricut).  If you don't have a Cricut...don't worry!! You can purchase the vinyl words for about $10 on The Rusty Cowgirl Etsy Shop and skip to Step Four below.

Stuffing Recipe

stuffing recipe

First, I should start by saying that my family's Thanksgiving would not be possible without our family friend Louise. When my mom first met Louise, she couldn't cook (sorry mom, but it's true). Luckily Louise took my mom under her wing and taught her a few things. So every Thanksgiving we give thanks to Louise for giving us these yummy Thanksgiving recipes!! 

Thanksgiving: Sweet Potato Casserole

sweet potato casserole recipe

What's not to love about Thanksgiving?!?! You get to eat amazing food, spend quality time with family, and just take a moment to give thanks for everything going on in your life.  


Camping at Garner State Park

Camping is like my new thing...it's inexpensive (once you have the gear), it's relaxing, and it's fun!! We get to visit new places within our budget, spend time around the campfire, and it's just...ah...so great!! Recently we took a trip to Garner State Park...one of the most popular parks in Texas.  Garner is known for hiking in the cooler months and floating the Frio River in the warmer months.  There's something to do year around at Garner State Park!!

Omelet in a Bag-Camping Recipe

Looking for a quick, easy, and yummy breakfast for camping trips?? Well Omelet In A Bag is perfect for camping trips!!  Normally when we camp we just eat MRE's or sandwiches or something...we don't make any "real food".  This past weekend though we went camping at Garner State Park and decided to try Omelets In A Bag...it was AMAZING!!

How to Create an Emergency Grief Kit for Schools

Today I wanted to share one of my most important counseling tools...my Emergency Grief Kit. You might be wondering what an Emergency Grief Kit is and why I feel like it's sssssoooo important!!!  Basically my Emergency Grief Kit is a bag/backpack with everything I need to help students with the loss of a loved one at school.  If I get a call tomorrow morning that a student has died or a teacher has died...I need to be prepared! I won't have time to go to work and gather all of my materials and plan.  My Emergency Grief Kit is ready to go...I can set up a grief station in a school within minutes and train teachers on the spot. I'm ready to go!! You just never know when something tragic is going to happen...so set aside an hour today to set up your Emergency Grief Kit. It's easy and I've got most of the materials ready for you already!!

Tres Leches Cake

authentic tres leches recipe

If you've never had Tres Leches...then you're seriously missing out!! It's so rich and unique...I just love it!! Now I should warn you though...Tres Leches isn't your "typical cake"...it's moist. Actually I'm not sure if moist is even the right word to use...it's semi-liquidy!! Sounds weird I know...but it's amazing!! 

Christmas Markets-Austin Texas 2019

Tis the Season to Go To Christmas Markets...Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La-La-La (I had to sing that slowly so I could get all the "La"s in there...hahaha).

Every year I look forward to going to Christmas Markets...it's just so festive!! I've been going to Christmas Markets my whole life!! I remember when I was little, we'd drive up to my grandparents and we'd spend the whole day driving around to all of the different bazaars.

A Weekend at Colorado Bend State Park

Weekend at Colorado Bend State Park

Doesn't it feel good to check things off your bucket list??  Neil has been wanting to go to Colorado Bend State Park for years and we finally went!! We definitely needed a little break from all of our home renovations....and this was the perfect little get away!!

Colorado Bend State Park is about 2 hours from Austin, 3 hours from Dallas/Fort Worth, and 2.5 hours from San Antonio. Definitely close enough for a weekend trip!! Unfortunately it's in the middle of all of the major cities...which is one of the reasons why it's so popular!! It frequently reaches maximum capacity so be sure to book your camping reservations early!! If you're just wanting to visit for the day, then I'd recommend booking a "Save the Day Pass"!! You'd hate to drive out there and it be full!!

Once you get to the park, you have quite the selection of fun activities...keep reading for more info on park activities.

Blueberry Cookies

The blueberry recipes continue...I mean when you pick 8 pounds of blueberries you have a lot of things to make!! We got this recipe from Elfie...I don't know how to describe Elfie...I guess you could say she's like my sister's adopted grandma (not to be confused with my adopted grandma-Aunt Hilda). They didn't really adopt us...they're just nice ladies from church that would spend time with us and teach us about life. Anyway....Elfie gave us this recipe several years ago...and it's amazing!!

Blueberry Delight

I don't even remember where we got this family recipe but we've been making it for years!! I made it this year for Neil and he's in love with it!! I asked him to take it to work so I wasn't tempted to eat it...but he says he doesn't want to share it...hahaha

Blueberry Picking Tips and Recipes

Blueberry picking tips

If you're looking for a new family tradition....add blueberry picking to your list!! Seriously, it's the best tradition ever!! It's relaxing to pick blueberries...a little therapeutic I guess. Plus you can get a ton of blueberries for super cheap!! 

Blueberries are my favorite berries to pick because they're easy!! The bushes are the perfect height so you're not bending over or sitting on the ground to pick them...you can just walk along the bushes and grab a handful!! Super easy, super cheap, and yummy!!

Blueberry Picking Tips
  1. Call some local farms beforehand. Make sure the blueberries are in season (May-July) and compare prices.  I've picked blueberries for $1 a pound (rare) but I've also picked them for $3.75 a pound. I feel like $3.75 is a little pricey...but it's still cheaper than the store!!
  2. Pack some water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and maybe even a hat.  You're probably only going to pick for a few hours but it can get hot fast. 
  3. Don't forget to bring cash!! A lot of the smaller farms aren't going to take credit cards...in fact most of the farms I go to are based on the honor system. They just have a weigh station and a box for you to drop your money in afterwards. So don't forget cash!! 
  4. Bring your own bucket. Most farms will give you a "picking bucket" with a rope around it...that way your hands are free for picking and the bucket just hangs around your neck/arm like a purse. It's nice to have your own bucket though so that you can empty your "picking bucket" when it gets too heavy and then you can use it to transport the blueberries home in. Large farms will give you a bag to carry the blueberries home in...but I've been to several that don't have anything for you. Plus the bags seem to squish the blueberries on the drive home.  I hate working for hours and then seeing my blueberries squished...protect your blueberries and bring a bucket!!
  5. Don't just pick any berries you can find...pick good ones!! Seriously...don't just grab a bushel of blueberries if there's only one good one in the bushel. I like the big light-blue blueberries (try saying that 10 times fast)...they're the best!! Don't pick blueberries that have red, purple, or green on them...they're not ripe yet!! Remember...big light-blue blueberries are the best!!
  6. Try not to get the stems on the blueberries. You'll have to pick them out later so I just prefer to "pick them right the first time".

Where to pick blueberries? 

I'd start by looking on Google for some U-Pick Farms in your area. I'd even be willing to drive an hour or so to get to a good farm...make a mini day trip out of it. I'm normally in Michigan visiting my family during blueberry season so I like to go to U-Pick Blueberries Farm in Benton Harbor (3209 E. Empire St). Next year I'm going to be in Austin for blueberry season so I'm going to try Kingsbury Blueberry Farms. Unfortunately it's about a 90 minute drive from Austin...so if you know of anything closer please let me know!! 

What to do with all of the blueberries?

You're probably wondering what to do with pounds and pounds of blueberries?? Easy solution...you clean them and make 3 piles. One pile is just for you to snack on. The second pile is for blueberry recipes and the third pile is for you to freeze. My mom always froze the majority of the blueberries we picked so she could use them year round for smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods! 

Pro-Freezing Tip: Wash the blueberries, dry them on a cookie sheet for a few hours, put the cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours, and then add the frozen blueberries to a freezer bag. My mom says it helps keep the blueberries from sticking together....seems to work so she must be right!! 

Now let's go back to your second pile of blueberries for recipes...this is the best part of blueberry picking!! My two favorite blueberry recipes are Blueberry Delight, Blueberry Cookies, and Blueberry Pie!! 

I'd love to hear what some of your favorite recipes are...maybe I can give them a try next year!! 

Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyon

Everyone's heard about the Grand Canyon...but what about the second largest canyon in the country?? Well it's right here in Texas...The Palo Duro Canyon!! Palo Duro Canyon is about a 7.5 hour drive from Austin and about a 6 hour drive from Dallas....the perfect spring break trip!! Anything under 8 hours is an easy road trip in my opinion...after 8 hours and it starts to get unbearable. We broke up the drive a little by stopping in Abilene for a quick lunch at Lucy's Big Burgers (yummy) and a caffeine refill at Monk's Coffee Shop (super cute coffee shop).

Creamed Corn

crock-pot creamed corn

My husband LOVES creamed corn, so I decided to make him some myself. I took several recipes and combined them all together...here's what I came up with:

4 cups frozen corn
1 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp butter
8 oz cream cheese
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Add all of the ingredients to a crock pot and cook on high for 2-4 hours. It's a super easy recipe and it's really good!! My husband says it's his favorite...but then again he might just be saying that...hahaha 

Grief Groups in School

Have you ever started a project...gotten completely overwhelmed and then decided you should just take a time out from the project?? You're not really giving up...just putting it on the back burner while you regroup??  Well that's how this post started!! Last year (yes...I took a yearlong timeout) I wrote Starting a Grief Group...but then I never wrote about how to actually have a grief group. Honestly I had so much I wanted to share about grief that it was overwhelming!! But I've got a whole day free...and a large chai...so let's do this!!

Treat Yo Self-Teacher Training

If you have a teacher training/professional development day coming up, then you seriously need to do have a session over self-care!! This time of the year is super stressful...everyone is talking data, the kids are getting antsy for spring break, and patience is running thin...I mean we're past the 100 day mark and still repeating the same instructions as day 1...it's exhausting!! This is the perfect time of the year to remind teachers to take a little break, recharge their batteries, and relax a little...they deserve it!! This one hour session discusses the importance of self-care, provides teachers with a list of positive coping strategies, provides multiple stations for teachers to practice self-care  (approximately 30 minutes total), and a self-care action plan for the next month.

Tips for Living in a Small Apartment

Tips for Living in a Small Apartment

Are you looking at moving into a small apartment?? Needing some ideas on how to help save space?? Well I had a similar situation...Neil (my amazing hubby) and I really wanted to live downtown Austin for a year. We thought it would be a fun little adventure!! After looking for apartments we finally settled on one just off Lady Bird Lake...not downtown but close enough. We LOVE the location and it's been a great little adventure...but our space is tiny!! Maybe not as tiny as living in like New York City...but it's about 600 sq ft!! That's tiny for us!! Before we got married, I was living in an 800 sq ft apartment and Neil was living in a rental house. We were both downsizing...and moving in together...and wedding gifts were arriving daily!! We had to come up with a game plan....here's what's worked for us:

Wedding Registry Items for Couples in Their 30's

Wedding Registry Items for Couples in their 30s

Why is it so hard to put together a wedding registry?? I mean if I had gotten married right out of college...it would've been sssoo much easier!! I graduated college with 2 plastic bowls and 2 plastic plates...I could've created a wedding registry with 1000 things back then.  But I didn't get engaged until like 7 years after college!! By that time I'd gotten a real job, moved into a real apartment, taught myself to cook something other than ramen noodles, and bought some decent kitchen/household items.

White Chicken Chili

If you aren't already aware of this...Neil and I are in a soup phase!! It's cold out and soup is just perfect!! And out of all of the soups we've been eating...this is our favorite!! It's yummy and super easy to make!!