Friday, June 29, 2012

Old School

Every day at 4pm one of my favorites, uncle Danny, enjoys his cigar and Jack Daniels outside by his pool.  When we moved, he told Adam to come join him anytime.  No need to call, just show up.  So a handful of times, Adam has done just that!  I love it!!

Uncle Danny is the real deal.  He is retired from a very stressful occupation.  He and my aunt recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and they still live in their first, very modest, home.  They live well.  Actually, now that I think about it, they emulate my definition of living well:

They LOVE their family.  They will do, and have done, anything for us.  If you've gotten married or had a baby, you've had a baby or bridal shower at their house, complete with my aunt's chicken salad puffs.

I think every one of the 9 siblings has a key to their home.  Even my aunt in Manhattan!  When my dad would take business trips, he would just show up on their doorstep, preferring his sister's hospitality to a hotel.  They are infamous for their midnight snacks!  And we, as kids, loved their kids' food cabinet!  We were allowed to help ourselves to cereal, cookies... all the good stuff!

They are the definition of "grandparents."  They snuggle and sing the babies to sleep; then, when the babies grow up, they show up for the activities.  Still a little older, they take them on special trips like Disney World and their favorite way to travel, by cruise ship.  I used to love going to their house when I was little and pouring over their map with all the push pins showing their travels.  They are very frugal with their money and prioritize the important things.

I could go on and on...  it just makes me so happy that my husband gets to spend some down time with this great man and mentor.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Breakfast Casserole

When our friends came to stay with us, I knew I'd make pancakes for the kids but I wasn't super-excited about what I had in the refrigerator for breakfast.  So, put it all together into a typical egg-y, cheese-y, sausage casserole and it seems a little more special.

from the Savannah Style cookbook

Bruncheon Eggs

6 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 pound sausage (I use the pre-cooked turkey sausage crumbles)
3-4 slices French bread, cubed (I use 6-7 slices regular bread, cubed)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Beat eggs, milk, salt and dry mustard.  Saute and drain sausage (If not precooked).  Layer bread, cheese, and sausage in greased 9x13 dish.  Pour milk and egg mixture all over.  Refrigerate overnight.  Bake at 350 degrees 45-50 minutes.

Happy Summer!

Jenis ice creams

My friends have the best finds!  *Sweet* friends of ours came to stay with us last week on their way to the beach and then they sent us these splendid ice creams with a thoughtful note.  I love them all- especially the Goat Cheese with Cherries!

I have known Chris since preschool!  We've gone all through school together and he went to college with Adam.  Their wedding was the first we attended, as newlyweds!  Two kids for us, three kids for them later, it felt kind of surreal... like playing house when we all went upstairs to tuck the kids in.

Chris' wife is a writer and fellow paper-lover so we have lots in common... I only wish our time together didn't fly by so quickly!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Christmas in July June


Unless you're my mom, it's WAY too early to be thinking about Christmas.  But I saw this on Pinterest and it reminded me that every year I want so badly to have all my gifts under the tree cute and coordinating.

The reality:  I end up with half-used rolls of paper so I decide I'll use them and I'll try again next year.

Well maybe this is my year!  I'm lucky if the presents get wrapped in time, much less have hand-tied bows, so these labels above might be the perfect fix.  I can make them in MSWord and print them on sticky-backed paper from Staples.

Then, I saw this blog that offers FREE printable papers that I could use for the "ribbon" in the above picture.

Here's hoping!

Mel Stampz

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dive Team & Davis-isms

Dolfin brand Uglies Swimsuits

 Our old club did not have a Dive Team so when we moved here, the kids were interested in trying it out.  They went to a few practices and love it!  Mary Fowler and her friends are also loving these "Ugly" brand swimsuits.  So ugly, they're cute, I guess!?!

Mary Fowler went home with a friend after practice so lucky Davis got to ride with me to the grocery store for milk, bread, orange juice, and fruit (all I needed to replenish this week!).  I told him he could pick out a treat so he chose a bag of Pistachios.

Riding home and crracking away, he said, "Wow- I'm really tearing through these!"  He frequently says little things like that, and we don't know where it comes from?

One of my dad's favorites is when Davis was probably 3 or 4 years old and my mom had just given him a tiny little container with miniature chocolate chips.  He tripped on a step up and they spilled and rolled everywhere.  Instead of getting upset, Davis just said, "Well, I didn't see that coming!"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Good Finds


At our neighborhood social, one of my girlfriends had the cutest dress on!  She us about her find at Forever 21 - so on Saturday, another friend and I checked it out.  (If anyone asked, we were prepared to say that we were shopping for our teenage daughters.)  Ha!

We didn't have a lot of time so we kind of ran through but I thought these two pieces were pretty!  The prices are great- most everything is around $20!!

Happy Father's Day
My sweet husband did not take my advice... after a wonderful but loooong Mother's Day, I told Adam he should get out of town for his special day.  But he loves us and he wants to be with us so we celebrated at home.

He loved his photo book and the kids made him very sweet, personal gifts.  My parents were visiting for the weekend so that always adds fun.  We let the dads sleep in, my sister's family brought bagels and we had made-to-order omelets for brunch and, then later, fired up the grill.  Sidenote: We call our Kamado the "faux egg."
The weather was so nice, we just sat outside while the kids played.

Pork Tenderloin

After dinner, our neighbors brought their homemade ice cream over.  Not wanting the day to end, we made a fire outside and just sat around chatting... I'm thinking a fire pit may have to be the next project around here!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

By the Pool...

Or... to motivate me to unload the dishwasher...

What does it say about me that to do the most simple, everyday/upkeep tasks, like making the beds and unloading the dishwasher, I have to make myself a fun drink AND phone a friend so I can whistle chatter while I work???  (My mom listens to books on tape while she does housework so I get it honestly.)

I did buy these powder packets with the intention of keeping them in the pool bag and drinking them (with water) instead of ordering diet cokes all summer long.  Since I probably will not be going out to lunch all the often with the kids out of school, these little flavored packets will have to do the job reminding me of my favorite lunch spot's iced herbal teas.

They claim to give us more of the healthy antioxidants present in green tea since the entire tea leaf (ground into a fine powder) is consumed!

Perfect Lunch

One of the reasons we were able to get so excited about our move last summer was because my dad is one of 9 children and all of them (but 2) and most of their families live here!  Last week Adam joined one of our favorite uncles at his house for his daily cocktail and cigar.  And yesterday I met my "fairy" godmother for lunch!

She is such a sweetie!  We both ordered the eggplant panini.  I love to cook but I haven't had great success with eggplant.  This recipe looks do-able?!?


  • 2 tablespoon mayonnaise, reduced-fat
  • 2 tablespoon basil, fresh, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon oil, olive, extra virgin, divided
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into 8 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 8 slice(s) bread, 100% whole-grain
  • 8 slice(s) cheese, mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup(s) pepper(s), red sweet, roasted, sliced
  • 4 slice(s) onion(s), red, thinly sliced


1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Combine mayonnaise and basil in a small bowl. Using 1 tablespoon oil, lightly brush both sides of eggplant and sprinkle each slice with garlic salt. With the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, brush one side of each slice of bread.

3. Grill the eggplant for 6 minutes, turn with a spatula, top with cheese, and continue grilling until the cheese is melted and the eggplant is tender, about 4 minutes more. Toast the bread on the grill, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

4. To assemble sandwiches: Spread basil mayonnaise on four slices of bread. Top with the cheesy eggplant, red peppers, onion and the remaining slices of bread. Cut in half and serve warm.

Friday, June 8, 2012


My Overlays

My Overlays

I am always looking for less expensive ways to get a luxury look.  What a difference these overlays make!  You can buy inexpensive furniture from IKEA and then purchase these overlays for a very rich look.  They fit popular IKEA pieces from its MALM, PAX, and LACK lines, among others. They also offer custom options if you have non-IKEA pieces you'd like to pep up.  AWESOME!!


While I haven't been showing too many here, I have definitely been taking lots of photographs, just still not sure when I'll actually DO something with all of them!  And my girlfriend and I were just talking about our summer "plans" with the kids.  I think this project is perfect for me!

It's a FREE cut-out-list of 100 things to do for great summer photos... spending time with your kiddos and your camera.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

I called my mom one day because our dishwasher wasn't really washing the dishes.  All of the glasses were coming out smokey/cloudy?  Like the stove-top that doesn't work, we intend to replace everything with the renovation so, for now, I have to make things work as they are.  She suggested I try these Finish Powerball tablets and while they are a little pricey, they are AMAZING!  Problem totally solved!  I highly recommend.  And they are frequently on sale/offer coupons.

I also bought this with a coupon while it was on sale and I love it!  I use it for baking and really anything!  It stays in place so much better than regular parchment paper and is non-stick.

With my strategic shopping/couponing, I have tried a few different detergents and I have to say I always come back to GAIN.  It works and I love the smell best.  I have people asking me what we wash our clothes in because they love it.  Funny enough, I use Bounce dryer sheets?

And I don't know how many birthday parties your children are invited to, but have you ever added up how much $$$ can be spent on little school friends' birthday presents??  If we know the child well, my kids love a nearby toy store that has wonderfully unique, innovative, and educational toys for kids.  And I love it because they wrap!  But it is so easy to spend $50 per gift; at 4-8 gifts a month, it quickly adds up!

One of my go-to gifts lately is this $10 super art studio.

Mary Fowler and Davis each have one and love it.  I love how easy it is to put everything back in it's place and close it up!  It also travels well- we stick some paper in there, take it to the lake and that's all they need!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Art Class

I'm getting excited!  Tonight is my first watercolor class at University of Richmond.  Yikes!  

I have to say I felt pretty silly buying my art supplies... it's been a while since I got a "student discount."  

Here are some of my "inspiration" pictures from Pinterest.  I also took some landscape photos at the lake... so here goes nothing!

***edited to add...  I loved it!  How interesting!!!  I just assumed we'd create an image onto paper but there is an actual process and it is fascinating!  Love it!  I'll have to do a post on it once I have some photos to share!

New Neighbors

I have these in the oven to take across the street this afternoon.  Gooey Butter Cake idea of a perfect dessert because it's easy, not too many ingredients, and it's GOOEY and BUTTERY!  My mother-in-law first introduced me to these sinful little lovelies.  She grew up in the Midwest and they were one of her favorites.  

They always seem to work out and they're always a hit!  This time I used Lemon cake mix- it's summertime!

Gooey Butter Cake



1 18 1/4-ounce package yellow cake mix (or any flavor)

1 egg

8 tablespoons butter, melted


1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 16-ounce box powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer.  Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together. 
Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well.  Spread over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.  Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

SO True!

My Girl

What I wanted most for my daughter was that she be able to soar confidently in her own sky, whatever that may be. 

-- Helen Claes

I think I will always remember tonight even if I had not just run to the computer to write about it.  Mary Fowler and I talked about the end of the school year.  Third grade is pretty much complete.  In a new city.  In a new school.  I just cannot say how happy it makes me that she shares her feelings with me.  I always want to be there for her and for her to know she can come to me with anything and everything!

The year went so well, and yet she is still a little sad, missing her old friends.  Of course she is.  I can empathize, I am missing mine, too!  Looking back, I almost feel like once our house sold and I knew we were really moving, I treated it like a band-aid and ripped it off quickly.  I didn't think it was possible to be worried and sad, while also being adventuresome, positive, and productive!  This summer we will have to arrange some visits!

I know that as I was creating the photo book for 2011, and somewhat re-lived all we did (or at least what we took photos of) I almost felt weak.  It was a big year for our little family.  And I just pray that when she looks back, years from now, she will feel that this transition guided her towards a confident path in her journey as opposed to totally ruining her chances for a fulfilled life.

The Parent's Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

Reminds me of this... another book kept on my bedside table.  One of the women I admired in Roanoke told me about it and I just love it!  I always find the short, little bits of wisdom comforting.  Just a few I happened to open to:

- Unless you stop following the crowd, how can your children be free?

To teach your children strength
you must be willing to appear weak.
You must renounce ambition and struggle
and embrace serenity and peace.
You must confess your faults and 
and embrace your failures.
You must face yourself with honesty
and find the truth of your nature.

Your children need a model of honesty.
If you pretend you have no weaknesses, 
and cover them under masks and facades,
your children will learn to do the same
and the game will go on.
Begin today to see,
and accept,
the real you beneath the role.


- There are a few things you must know
to become a wise parent.
You must know that you are going to die,
for then you will be able to truly live.

You must know when you have enough,
for then you will be content.
You must know how to laugh
for then you will find healing.

There are many things you need not know.
You need not know everything your children think or do.
You need not know their secret dreams and hopes.
You need not know how life will unfold for them, or for yourself.

Live your own life,
with all your heart, with all your mind, 
and with all your soul.
There is no need to live theirs.
They will do that wonderfully
by themselves.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sweet Love

Davis and daddy fishing... until he decided it wasn't for him

I love my Davis.  He is a sensitive guy... but he loves AC/DC... go figure.

He came downstairs one morning as I was cooking some bacon and he said, "It sure is a shame that a pig had to die for this bacon."  Luckily I was able to tell him it was actually turkey bacon...

We have a white rock driveway and Davis doesn't like it when I pluck little sprouts of "green" every once in a while.  He tells me, "They (the annoying weeds), too, are a part of nature."  Gheesh!

When I found a small snake in my garage and shoveled it out to the driveway, with Mary Fowler screaming to KILL it, Davis said not to hurt it- that it was just a baby and needed to be given back to its mother.  

And when he fractured his arm recently, he didn't complain very much but he did say, "I hope this never happens to any of you."

Love that boy!