Apr 27, 2015

Games and Blooms

Sleepy morning faces, breakfast interruption, and gingham.

Took this boy to the drugstore for his first grilled cheese and tater tots.  He approved.
Followed by his first haircut/mullet removal.  Sob.
Then some swinging before sister school pick up.
Morgan's brother was in town visiting this weekend, and after scoring a last minute babysitter, we headed to a Tennessee baseball game.  The Vols lost, but the porch and company were fab, as was the hot dog, hamburger, and beers I consumed.

Dell Harper got her first sporting event on Saturday when she went to the Orange and White game with her daddy and uncle.

Deeds got to play some naked golf around the yard with me while I marveled over everything popping up.  It's our first spring in this house, so every day is Christmas for an aspiring gardener.
Lily of the Valley.
My roses!!!!!!!!  The very first bloom- look at that color!.
Irises- aren't they just gorgeous?   And the state flower of Tennessee.

Dell Harper and Deeds went to the cutest birthday party Sunday afternoon- it was a bug party.
Dell Harper's best buddy was there, and they spent the afternoon tearing around, entertaining themselves.
So that's it.  The anticipated storms did not rain on my parade, but did in fact bring some cool weather.  I can handle it, especially since I am stuck with a mountain of work to climb before DH's procedure.  Anxiety is beginning to grow. . .

Apr 24, 2015

Five on Friday

1.  Sangria Tea:

I know I should be drinking water, water, water (if we lived in the perfect world the prescribed regimen would be diet coke, diet coke, diet coke, but whatevs).

I drink a lot of water, but I also drink a TON of iced tea.  I would happily drink a gallon or two a day. Luckily for my waistline, I prefer unsweet with no sweetener.  Usually I make big pitchers of Lipton, but sometimes a girl gets lazy and doesn't feel like boiling water.  I spotted this black tea concentrate from Tazo- I can't stop drinking it.  I found it at Target- go try some!!

2.  I ended up cooking last night, foiling my plot to not dirty up my kitchen all week.  Luckily this barely counts- super simple, super easy, and little fuss or mess.    Oven Baked Fajitas for the win!  Delish- especially with guac, and a little queso drizzled on top.  And refried beans.   And some more cheese.

I used two bell peppers  instead of one because I had them on hand.  Next time I will cut the chili powder waaaaayyy down, because it was too much for the kids and me.  Sidenote- I used to LOVE spicy foods, but ever since pregnancies I have no taste for them.  Bizarre, no?

3.  Crispy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies from Trader Joes:
Morgan just came in and said "There's some cookies in the pantry from Trader Joe's- what happened to them?  Didn't you just go there on Monday?"  Hmmmm.  My reply?  "WHAT?!?  I can't hear you- I'm drying my hair!!" (frantically pulling out hair-dryer and blowing it on desert-dry hair).

These little boogers are good.  I made the mistakes of (1) taking both children to the grocery store without a list (that has actually happened 3 times this week, thanks to lack of menu planning and list making- a hell of my own devising, people),  and (2) going when I was feeling quite peckish.  Snack foods aboundeth in my little red cart.  I will never buy these again.  They are addictive, and not too bad for you.  That's a problem because I will justify another few without hesitation.  Also, broken ones don't count, and I think my box went through the ringer.  Oh, well.  Oatmeal is healthy, right?

4.  The bathing suit hunt is progressing- I finally realized that I am not going to have time nor the inclination to go to an actual store and try on bathing suits.  Enter a couple of online shopping sprees- thank you Zappos for free return shipping, Land's End for returning to Sears, and hopefully I will like the Modcloth ones (thanks, Kate, for the rec).

Thanks to the above-mentioned cookies and guacamole, I also had the foresight to order some cute coverups- Zappos had a great selection.  I loved all these from Echo Design:

5.  Finally, I hope everyone enjoys these FNL parody and a ginormous glass of white wine this weekend.  Thanks, Amy Schumer for making me laugh while thinking about gender issues.

Thank you to the Five on Friday ladies for hosting the linkup!

Apr 23, 2015

Thoughts for Thursday

  • DH is having a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy in a week.  I am alternately terrified of the recovery process, and thrilled that she will start sleeping again once she can, you know, breathe at night.  Sorry dear child for all the times I fussed at you/didn't let you watch your favorite show/bribed you with toys that you never could get due to your recent inability to sleep through the night.  Sleep apnea is a bitch.

  • I need a cute bathing suit for an upcoming girls' weekend at the beach.  I am forcing myself into a two piece.  COURAGE. But therefore I need the cutest, most flattering, bestest swim suit EVER.  Easy right?

  • I have had no desire to cook a thing this week. I think I am going to manage the entire week without having to- Monday I picked up a casserole from a to-go place, Tuesday made a veggie frittata, last night was church, tonight spaghetti from the freezer, and restaurant food hopefully Friday.  Busy work week + laziness = clean kitchen.

  • I have been finishing up my paintings- bright, happy colors to match my mood.

  • I have a great idea for a website.  www.whatplantisthis.com  You just upload a picture of the plant you are trying to identify, and someone e-mails you back with the answer.  Genius and useful, no?  Don't steal it.  Right now, I just use texting my mom, but a website might be easier for all.

  • Not a two-piece, so not applicable to my bathing suit quest, but I really like this number from Anthropologie.  Normally I am averse to boy-leg styles because 1) I am a girl and 2) don't like things chopping into my thighs.  However, this seems really cute, and helpful on days when you have been quite as, um, dedicated to a hair removal regimen as one should.

  • Whelp, that's about all that's rumbling through my brain.  A sad state of affairs, indeed.  Find me bikinis, ladies!  Old lady ones preferable.
Thanks as always to East Coast Chic and Home of Malones for hosting the linkup!

Thoughts for Thursday

Apr 21, 2015

Kid's Strawberry-Almond Quick Bread

Dell Harper received a subscription to Highlights magazine from my mama for Christmas.  I eagerly awaited the first issue, fondly recalling the great craft ideas and little stores. As an adult?  Hmmm, not so fond.  The stories are not as I remember, although I believe DH enjoys them, as I have had to read them several times.  I do like that's she's getting into the "spot the difference" game.  This will serve her well later in life, when she is playing bar games with the guys.  Photo Hunt was a perennial favorite at our local watering hole- especially the version featuring scantily clad ladies and gents.  Ahhh, the dollar bills I wasted on computerized bar games and jukebox selections in my youth. . . a life well-lived, indeed.

Back to a less-risque topic, I still remember when I (i.e. my mom) made this AMAZING aquarium out of a sprite bottle, some pipe-cleaners, and cardboard fish, as instructed by Highlights craft page.  It sat on my desk, and served as an excellent distraction to homework.  Soooo, when Dell Harper came running up begging to  make "this cake with strawberries, MOM!!!!! We can mix it!!!!!!"  my resistance was futile.  Especially as we had the ingredients on hand.

To my surprise it was good!  Miss Priss thoroughly enjoyed it, and made Pop-pop eat it as well.  With some trepidation, we were all relieved to find it quite tasty.

I modified the amount of spice and vanilla, and used almonds instead of walnuts.

Strawberry-Almond Quick Bread:


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced into small pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl.  Beat with a mixer until batter is pale and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice to the bowl.  Stir.
  5. Fold in the nuts and strawberries.
  6. Pour into a greased 8 inch loaf pan.  Bake for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Remove from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Dell Harper had a great time making and eating her creation.  Surprisingly, my stress level and kitchen-cleanliness level remained at acceptable levels.  Enjoy!

Apr 20, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up

 It was a lovely weekend  full of relaxing outside and in.

We were lucky to have Morgan's dad drive over the mountain and spend Friday night and Saturday morning with us.  I was even luckier when they took the kids on some errands Saturday morning, and i got some alone time (cue the heavenly chorus).  
 I blocked out this fun little primitive church.  I can't wait until I get another spare minute to start really working on it, and painting in the details.

It's amazing how the weather affects every aspect of my mood- compare the colors to this church I did in January.  Ha!

After Coach headed back to Asheville, Morgan and I bade goodbye to the munchkins, said a grateful hello to our sitter, and met friends for a dinner out downtown.  It was rainy so I drank dark and stormy's.  They were delicious, as was the dinner and the company.

Both of my darling, darling, considerate children woke before 6:30 Sunday morning during the rain, rain, rain.  I decided early church then Sunday school was in order.
 Followed by an early lunch at Miss Priss' favorite restaurant, the fine-dining establishment S&S Cafeteria.  During nap time for the fellas, we hit up the mall for a little Cinderella movie watching.

 Came home, destroyed the playroom, early bed for the children, and Chinese food and some reading for me.

I checked out this book from the library, but I think it might make its way to my bookshelf soon.  Fascinating and informative- especially helpful in identifying all the new-to-me plants coming up in my yard.
 Yep, pretty crazy Sunday night.  Drinking hot tea and reading my plant encyclopedia in bed.  Wild times, folks.

Apr 17, 2015

Five on Friday!

It has rained here every day this week, but I am still rejoicing at all the color outside!  COLOR is back!

1.  I got back in my "studio' (LOL), and am working on this fun, bright abstract.  It's making me happy right now.

2.  I love this stripy cover-up from Ann Taylor.  I wasn't even aware that they had swim- it's all pretty darling.  At $109 though, I will be waiting for a sale.

3. Even my dinner was feeling colorful last night.

I made this Ruth's Chris salad imitator, along with Panko Dijon Chicken Thighs.  Both will be made again in the very near future- high marks from Morgan and I.  Note- I only used about 1/4 of the amount of dressing called for- no more was needed.

4.  Now, it's time to get my containers going with color.  I picked up this nifty little seed starter the other night, and can't wait to get some stuff growing with Dell Harper.  I am possibly anticipating her interest and delight in this project to be far greater than reality, but you never know with a threenager.

4.  I'm planning  on planting Cosmos and Zinnias, but this article from BHG has lots of great ideas.

5.  And back to my rainy days- I challenge you to watch this video of Maya Angelou and not be inspired and awed, (and maybe a tad weepy, ahem.)

What an excellent reminder to be kind for us all.  Let those compliments fly!  My motto is if you think it, and it's nice, THEN SAY IT!  That person might really need to be told that they have got really pretty eyes, or that they are a great friend, or an excellent teacher, or have a great outfit on.  It can't hurt, at least.

Stepping off my soapbox of positivity now.  Remind me of this next February please.

Happy Friday!  Thanks, ladies for hosting the link-up!

Apr 15, 2015

A Couple of Easy Dinners

I should be straightening up my house and prepping for tomorrow, but I better share these suppers before they are lost in my iPhoto files forever.First up, Creamy Chicken and Rice from Natasha's Kitchen- this is my favorite kind of meal.  One pot, hearty but healthy, palate-pleasing to my whole crew, and easily prepared in advance. Comfort food that doesn't involve cream of whatever soup?  Yes, please! Even better, I had all the ingredients on hand, and delayed a grocery store visit an additional day.

I added a bunch of fresh spinach to get my vegetables in, but otherwise followed the below recipe pretty exactly.

Creamy Chicken and Rice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1  large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, grated on the large grater or cut into matchsticks
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry white wine 
  • 5 cups hot reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups quick-cooking brown rice
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  1. Using a dutch oven or heavy bottom pot with tight fitting lid, over medium/high heat, heat ¼ cup olive oil and 2 Tbsp unsalted butter. Once butter is melted, stir in diced onion, grated carrots and 1 tsp salt. Saute until soft and golden (8-10 min).
  2. Add trimmed, chopped chicken thighs, 2 bay leaves, another 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp black pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally until chicken is golden on all sides (5 mins).
  3. Increase the heat to high and add 1 cup white wine. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pot, until most of the wine has evaporated.
  4. Add the hot chicken broth, then stir in the rice.
  5. Without separating the cloves (leaving the root end intact), slice the end off a whole head of garlic to expose the garlic cloves. Set the whole head into the center of your rice, sliced side down. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until rice is fully cooked (15 mins depending on your type of rice ((check the box to get a good estimate))).
  6. Turn off the heat, remove garlic head (you can either push the cloves of garlic out into the rice and eat it or discard it, I of course, recommend the former) and quickly stir in remaining 2 Tbsp butter until fully incorporated. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Finally, stir in chopped parsley and ½ cup parmesan cheese. 
  7. Serve right away or leave the lid on to keep it warm until serving. Garnish with more fresh parsley to serve.
Okay, as for the next, I'm a tad bit embarrassed to share because (a) this is not really a recipe per se and (b) the photo is really ugly.  However, the meal itself was tasty/made my family happy/took five minutes to prep.

The other day the Kroger had organic smoked sausage on sale.  I was laughing to myself, thinking about how excited my brother and I would get when my mom made boiled smoked sausage and cabbage for dinner when we were kids.  My mama is a great cook, and we would get FIRED UP about that dinner.  It's a classic for a reason, I suppose.

I have been digging some sheet pan meals lately, so I put together a roasted version of my childhood favorite.

Roasted Irish Supper:

1 package smoked sausage
1 bag of "angel hair" coleslaw mix (cabbage only)
1 onion, diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together the cabbage, onion, olive oil, and salt, and spread on a sheet pan.

Slice the sausage into shorter lengths, and then in half length-wise.  Place the sausage on top of the cabbage.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, and enjoy!
Oh, ugly to look at, but soooo yummy.  The roasted cabbage gets some nice crunchy, caramelized bits. The kids ate their own weight, which is always gratifying.

Especially when you remembered you have to feed them 30 minutes before said dinner was served.

Apr 14, 2015

Random Bits

  • I am paralyzed by the massive amounts of pictures from the Easter Egg hunt we hosted, so attempting to bypass that for now, and just blog away.  I was so worn out from said hunt that we had quiches from Costco for Easter Sunday brunch, and S&S Cafeteria for dinner.  It was real fancy, and absolutely glorious!

  • I have been felled my my body's first foray into the world of seasonal allergies.  After volunteering at a plant sale for 2 days last weekend, I thought I was possibly suffering some strange and dire illness.  One eye was swollen shut, my nose looked like a damn clown from all the blowing, and I could barely move.  Morgan gave me some allergy meds, and waved me off when I protested that they had no effect.  Turned out they expired 2 years previously.  I procured some working medication and feel much better now.

  • Texts From Jane Eyre- got this from the library yesterday.  LOVE it!  It's witty and hysterical.

  • In other light reads, just finished The Royal We by the Fug Girls which was highly entreating and fun.  Now I'm enjoying Melanie Shankle's latest, 

  • With the opening of this fantastic (and spookily empty) Walmart on campus, I have become a person of Walmart. I went last night after a VBS meeting for detergent and milk.  I ended up with all sorts of necessary stuff.  Like decent looking bows and nightgowns for Dell Harper. And some adorable rompers that are 1980's in a good way- i.e. not neon, but instead just kind of retro and fun.  Plus the brand is "Healthtex" which totally sounds like it could be one of my old clothes' labels.

  • Anyhoo, maybe it was the proximity, but after Walmart it was almost 9 and I was starving.  I had nibbled on a little dinner with the kids, but I was hungry and my purse pretzels weren't cutting it. I gave in to temptation and hit up Krstals for a couple of cheese Krystals and a diet Coke. It was everything I desired and more.  I'm currently having a cucumber-avocado smoothie to atone.  
That's it for me- once I finally get my desk cleared of all my to-do's (work and otherwise), I've got a ton of great recipes to share with y'all.