Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Fire Pit

It's that time of year...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Grace Started School!

I wasn't really sure how Grace's first day of school would go.  For me.  Or her.  I had tentative plans to meet some friends from church for breakfast after drop-off, but I didn't fully commit in case I was a basket case.  As it turns out, the morning went great.  We made it to her classroom {no other kids were there - surprising since we were a little later than planned thanks to traffic} and her teacher told her where to put her things.  If you looked up "Momma's Girl" in the dictionary, you'd probably find her picture.  Given her  normal clingy-ness to me, I expected some kind of ordeal when we got ready to leave.  Didn't happen.  We told her "bye" and she almost acted bothered that we were still there.

Grace & her teacher
Sam & Grace rode the bus home that afternoon.  As they were walking from the bus stop, I asked how their day was.  All I got out of Grace was "The bus was a little out of control today, but it was fine."  I think the bus has settled down a little.  And I guess school is OK too.

Grace had a phase-in week so we had a couple of extra days that first week.  We went to lunch with Grandma & Papa one day.  The 2nd day, we had lunch with Pete.  As Grace & I were driving to meet him for lunch, she was campaigning heavily to go & get a new stuffed animal at the mall.  She mentioned that Sam had gotten one one time while she was at a birthday party.  I explained that he got one that day because she was doing something fun {we also had a coupon or rewards or a gift card or something making it pretty inexpensive}.  The following conversation took place.

Grace:  "Well!  Sam is doing something fun today.  He got to go to school!!"  
Me: "Oh, you like school?"
Grace:  "Not only do I like it, I love it!!  School is AWESOME!!!"

{I hope she keeps that attitude about school....}

Talking about school distracted her for a minute, but it didn't take her long to ask again to go to the mall.  She didn't win that battle, but we did settle on going by a new yogurt place on the way home. 

Grace is still adjusting to the longer school day, but she seems to like it.  She likes P.E. { her words...where they learn about their muscles & their bodies and do exercises} and recess best so far.  I'm a little sad that summer is over and I no longer have a preschooler, but I am glad to be getting back into a routine.

How are you adjusting/re-adjusting to school at your house?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

2nd Annual Destination Unknown Road Trip

Like last year, we took advantage of our last free Saturday before soccer & school schedules set in.  We {ok, I} wanted to make a few stops in Birmingham, but other than that we didn't have any set plans.  We hit the road late morning & headed south.  

We saw this cool car as well as several others that day.  There must have been a car show somewhere.  

We also passed these SUVs.  When I first saw them, it looked like they were traveling together with the 2nd car WAY too close.  After they went blowing past us, we noticed that the 2nd car was being towed by the first.  And it was fully loaded.  And had bikes on the back.  Didn't seem very smart or safe for this person to be doing 80+, but what do I know?

Our first stop was The Summit for lunch at Urban Cookhouse {dee-lish!  I had a marinated steak sandwich with mac & cheese. Pete had marinated steak on rice with a salad.  And the kids had grilled chicken tenders - not fried.}.  We also got in a little shopping.  

After that, we headed over to 18th Street to check out a bench that we looked at back in the spring.  

The bench in the sunroom

Another view...the bench in the sunroom
Oh, and we picked up a few things at Savage's...I love their almond coffee cake {sorry, no pic!}.  Yum!  

We decided to go home via Gadsden so we headed that way and made a quick stop at Grand River.  

Once we made it to Gadsden, we decided to eat at Top of the River.  Pete & I ate there for the 1st time way back in 2001 when we visited a jewelry store a friend of mine worked at.  It was good back in the day, but I have to say that I wasn't very impressed this time around.  

We left Gadsden & headed towards home.  We drove through Boaz and saw the remains of one of the first outlet malls we shopped in.  Sad how times have changed.  Despite the kids being a little grumpy {read tired}, it was a fun day without a full agenda or timeline.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Doe Run Farm Grilled Cherry Tomato Salad

I have written about Doe Run Farm in the past.  This season, they added some "Food Lovers" shares to go along with the regular shares they offer. Pete & I opted for the salad share.  Early in the season, it was a mixture of veggies that you'd find in a typical tossed salad.  Once the weather warmed up, the variety changed and we were given recipes to go along with our veggies for the week.  We got the Grilled Cherry Tomato Salad recipe not long before our trip to the beach, so I added it to our beach menu.  I was excited about this recipe.  In addition to the cherry tomatoes we get with our CSA share, we usually plant some {along with other tomatoes} in our small garden.  We really like them, but it was nice to find a new way to use them.  I didn't realize at first that you need to marinate the salad for 24 hours, but we were able to grill the tomatoes while Pete cooked hot dogs & have the salad the next night.

Other than the planning ahead part, this recipe is super simple {notice a trend here?} and so yummy!

Doe Run Farm Grilled Cherry Tomato Salad

One pint Doe Run Farm cherry tomatoes
4-6 sprigs of fresh basil, finely chopped
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (fresher is better)
1 Tbsp vegetable or grape seed oil
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat grill to 500F.  Oil grates or grill pan.  Grill the cherry tomatoes, turning frequently until the skins pop.  Remove from the grill and toss with the fresh basil, minced garlic and olive oil.  Season with salt & pepper.  Let marinate for a minimum of 24 hours for the best flavor.

We've had it with spaghetti as well as steaks.  And leftovers have been good with sandwiches.  So yum!

Doe Run Farm is registering for the autumn share, which will start in late September.  Check out their website for more info.

*I am a paying patron of Doe Run Farm and have not been compensated for this post.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sam is Simply Eight!

Sam celebrated his 8th birthday the day before we left for vacation.  He had some friends over & we set up our inflatable water slide along with some of the games/activities we made for Grace's party.  A water party has become a tradition for him.  

He wanted to have a Harry Potter party, so I made a Harry Potter invite, and we had a small HP Lego set as goodie bags.  Thanks to me being sick, that was the extent of the themed-ness of his party.  

Pete used his mad grilling skills & cooked burgers & hot dogs for us.  We kept the menu simple...burgers & dogs, pasta salad, baked beans, chips & watermelon.

Even Sam's cake was simple.  All he wanted was Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake.  Simple enough.  And plenty delicious. {I actually made 2 - one with nuts & one without.  And we might have had extra to take with us to the beach.}

"Happy Birthday to you..."

We rushed to serve & eat cake and ice cream before it started sprinkling.  Once the kids were finished, we pulled out the marshmallow guns again.  How is that Pete always has the biggest toys?  Oh wait...he's the biggest kid.  The kids played in the water more and had marshmallow wars.  Then, we left the marshmallows for the rain to take care of.

Despite being one of the few girls at the party, Grace had a blast too!

On another note, I have to say that planning a party for Saturday when you are going on vacation on Sunday isn't such a bad idea.  It could be overwhelming, but with a little planning, it worked out great for us.  We cleaned as we packed to get ready both for the party and for being gone.  The menu was carefully planned so we didn't have a lot of leftovers to deal with.  After the party, it didn't take too much to get the house back in order so we didn't come home to a messy house.  Sweet!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Southwest Chicken Salad

We have a couple of places in town that serve a Southwest Chicken Salad sandwich.  At one of the places, the Southwest is among a laundry list of chicken salads available, but it is one of my favorites.  Being a picky fruit eater, Sam won't eat most varieties of chicken salad I make at home.  He has tried this one and liked it.  Looking for something new & different for lunch and knowing that Sam would eat it, I went to trusty Google to try to find a recipe for Southwest Chicken Salad.  I didn't have much luck.  Most everything I found was a SALAD with lettuce, grilled chicken, veggies, etc.  Not chicken salad of the sandwich or top of a cracker variety.  Time to experiment...and it turned out pretty well!

Southwest Chicken Salad

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked & chopped {or shred in stand mixer}
3 tbsp Taco Seasoning mix
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 small can corn or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Add more mayo and/or sour cream if needed.  Refrigerate several hours for best flavor.  Serve on croissants or with crackers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mommy! It's America's Birthday Today!

My day started yesterday like it would any time you've been battling a sinus infection for a while...with a trip back to the doctor.  It was loads of fun...complete with chest x-rays and a new batch of meds.  I came home and started working my-near-spreadsheet-worthy-schedule of medicine including steroids.

In a moment of feeling slightly better, I started {or should I say re-started -we've talked about it before} a conversation with Pete about the fact that Grace starts school this fall.  And that freaks me a out a little.  Anyway, we have talked some about the possibility of me finding some part-time work that I could possibly do at home to slightly redefine my purpose since my days of bottle fixing & diaper changing are over.  With Grace in school soon, I will have more time on my hands and with a little extra income I can better support my creative habits or help with growing expenses of school, sports, etc. or even vacation.

As I was getting ready for bed last night, I took the last of my steroids for the day along with a dosage of cough medicine that is known for its zombie-like qualities, hoping that I could sleep.  As the steroids and cough medicine waged war against each other, I tossed and turned for hours.  And didn't sleep.  My mind raced right back to the earlier discussion of what I could do.  I thought of several people that I could put feelers out to and see what happened.

Once I finally started to settle & get to sleep, a certain little 5 year old appeared by my bed.  She "wanted me".  Great.  I've barely slept and now have to make room for someone else in our bed.  We got settled and I finally was asleep again.  Morning came, and Pete got up closing the curtains to let us sleep in.  I slept awhile longer and then was awakened by Grace again.  She leaned over me and in the sweetest most excited voice said, "Mommy!!!  It's America's birthday today!!!"  I was reminded of something at that point that I definitely already knew, but that my most important job was as a Wife to Pete and a Mom to Grace and Sam.  Today, I will just worry about that.  And celebrate the freedoms we are blessed to have.  Tomorrow or sometime later, we will figure out how the rest of it works out.

I hope you have a Safe and Happy 4th surrounded by those you love!

From our trip to Stone Mountain Memorial Day weekend

Wordless Wednesday - Woody

You've got a friend in me...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Lady & the Tramp

Sam & Grace at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Pluto

Grace & a Pluto topiary at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer List

We made a summer list back in 2010, but last year we didn't get very far with it.  We wanted to make sure we finished our list this year.  For this year's list, I decided to make it in photoshop & frame it {making next's year list a little easier - a few tweaks & a reprint away from framing}.  We can use dry erase markers right on the glass as we check items off the list.  We'll pick up the print & a frame today...and get started on the list!  We can already check off 'Atlanta' & 'Braves Game.' :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay from our balcony...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Five, Part 2

*We finally celebrated Grace's birthday with her friends a few weeks ago.  Here's how we celebrated her actual birthday if you missed it.

Grace has been asking to have a birthday party like Sam's...including our blow up waterslide, sprinklers, etc.  Having an early April birthday makes having a water party difficult.  We compromised with a having a party at home {we had it at a local party play place last year}.  She requested that we have games, and she wanted Jessie from Toy Story as her theme.  I ran with that to do something along the lines of Toy Story Mania, but without the other Toy Story characters.  It was hard to find things that were just Jessie, so I turned to Pinterest for some ideas.

I designed her invitation with a picture we got of Jessie when we were on our cruise in March & printed them at Costco.  

For games, we had a balance beam & bongo board we made via Family Fun magazine, marshmallow guns with a target, hula hoops, balls as well as our swing/playground set.  And the older boys found things to entertain themselves as well.  

Grace, in her rolled up jeans & boots, with her BFF checking out the balance beam & bongo board

Walking the balance beam

Giving the bongo board a try

Sam was playing ball with the older boys.  The target for marshmallow guns is behind him {& one of his cousins, too}.
The kids had fun moving from activity to activity, but I think the marshmallow guns were a huge hit!  I picked up 2 bags of mini marshmallows not knowing for sure how many kids we'd end up with or how easy/fun it would be for them.  We kept the guns {& washed them good} to use this summer for Sam's party, so I will definitely get plenty of marshmallows for that.

Pete made a target for the marshmallow guns with some leftover PVC pipe, although I think there might have been a few stray marshmallows shot at other things - or people.  Pete.

In addition to the games, etc., Pete made a cow print backdrop for us to use to take pictures of the kids - kind of like a photo booth/gallery like in carnivals or parks.  Time got away from us so he ended up using spray paint to make the spots instead of acrylic.  We used the pictures to send out with thank you cards.

For food, we kept things fairly simple...cake, cake pops {many recipes out there but I used this with yellow cake}, ice cream {pre-scooped in cupcake liners thanks to an idea on Pinterest}, fruit salsa & cinnamon sugar pita chips, Texas caviar & chips, cheese cubes & meatballs.

I decided that I should finally make a cake for Grace's birthday.  I have made some for Sam in the past, but for Grace's birthdays, I have always used a local dee-lish bakery.  While I opted for homemade, I wanted to keep it fairly simple.  I baked & assembled the cakes using buttercream icing.  I couldn't find black fondant for the cow spots and the thought of making fondant black was less than appealing, so I used sugar sheets instead.  Pete free-handed the shapes for me.  They seemed to work out fine.  Jessie & Woody were secured with toothpicks.

Big cake!  3 inch bottom layer with a 2 layer cake on top

Blowing out the candles!

We used a styrofoam cone to hold the cake pops & decorated the bottom with Toy Story characters
For decorations & supplies, we again kept it simple.  We had some red balloons along with  some cow print balloons, red & black plates {value pack = cheap from Targret, as Grace calls it}, & red bandanna napkins.  Everyone went home with a bandanna filled with a Toy Story Pez dispenser & a couple of other small things.

This party took a little work, but I think it was one of the best parties we've had.  Trying to find "unique" things & do a DIY party was a lot of fun.  Like I mentioned, we'll be reusing the guns {as well as balance & bongo boards, cake pans, extra plates, etc.} for Sam's party this summer so we'll get more bang for our pun intended.