Monday, November 2, 2009

Books. Twilight. Marked. Trueblood. Outlander.

So.  I have finished the Twilight series and LOVED it.  I have no idea why I resisted.  It has been so long, so so long, since I have been utterly captivated by a series, actually frustrated when I was searching for the next book.  I have not seen the movie and am planning to next weekend at a friend's screening.  I am planning to see the movie in the theaters as well.  I have not yet read the 12 chapters of Stephanie's work in progress.  The book through Edward's perspective.  I have heard it is available online.  Debating.

I felt a void, ;), when Twilight was over.  A friend handed me the Sookie Stackhouse Vampire series.  I have to admit, while I read the whole book, I am not a fan.  Too gritty, too base.  I enjoyed my ethereal 'noble' vampires soooo much better.

At the same time another friend gave me the Marked series.  A little young.  Slugged through the first chapter or two.  And that's where it sits.

Well, at our Halloween party the other night, yet another friend handed me the first in the Outlander series.  Ahh.  This could be something pretty special.  Tried to squeeze in a few pages in the carline and found myself too distracted by the members of our crew that kept jumping in the van.  I find myself anxious for the girls' bedtime this evening.  Bill is away on business.  Could it be that I have found my next series?  Stay tuned, sweet friends.  I'll let you know . . . Now, off to pick Morgan up from Ballet.  Oh, and the Science Fair Project, 5th Grade Level?  Immersed in the Indian River Lagoon!  ;)

Stomping. Tantrums. Ugh.

I remember the time that I was pregnant with Morgan, my first-born, like it was yesterday. I, like many first-time moms, poured over books, journals and catalogs, making lists and checking them not twice, but three, four and five times. I scoured "life" for information. I cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned. And then cleaned some more. I designed. I stocked. I prepared. I prayed. I truly felt that I was ready. Ready for her arrival.

Nothing prepared me, though, for the vast quantity of love that I would feel for this beautiful baby girl, and the two sisters to follow. I felt that she was simply exquisite and was struck by the magnitude of our relationship. Each daughter touched my heart in unfathomable ways.

The months to follow came at one time in rapid succession and at another time in a blur. My memories are at the same time crystal-clear and blurry. I chalk this up to the whirlwind, the tornado, the storm that is motherhood.

With all of my preparation before children and with all of my experience through having three little girls, I have yet to progress to "Expert Level" status. While I may navigate through the turbulent waters of parenting three incredibly busy children with more confidence than I once did, it is certainly not a "smooth as glass" journey. But, strangely enough, nor would I want it to be. I relish having children with strong and unique personalities, each a fascinating person to know. I love being there for them. When they are hurt. When they are scared. And yes, when they are mad.

I do not love tantrums. I feel frustrated when faced with irrational behavior. Frustration triggers me to draw upon some precious resources. Precious resources that may or may not unlock a trip to the next Level in the Game called "Parenting." The First Resource? Caffeine. I watch firsthand my reactions to irrational behavior with and without a healthy dose of caffeine. Hands down, I choose caffeine. Second? Grace. I try to apply a 'umm, what is behind the overreaction?" kind of approach to Temper Tantrum Navigation. I try to apply the "grace" approach to them that I desperately need for me. And, finally? The Most Important One of All? Prayer. Prayer for His Strength and His Patience where I have none left of my own. Irrational behavior pushes my buttons. Ten year olds stomping about costume fittings. Eight year olds stomping about cereal boxes that are held 'just out of reach' by the older sister. Four year olds stomping about the angle of a ponytail. Husbands stomping . . . well, you know :). Time to call in the "Old Faithful Reserves". Caffeine. Grace. Prayer.

Caffeine. Grace. Prayer. And, of course, Friends. Oh, I would be so lost without them . . . ;)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

is a change in terminology all it takes?

Last night I was feeling super-overwhelmed.  The word "drowning" kept running through my head.  The days are not long enough.  Jam-packed with activities, homework, projects, lessons, MOPS, study, e-mails, groceries, cleaning.  Husband away on business.  I am not getting everything done.  I have this vision of course in my head about where I should be and what I should be able to accomplish.  Simply not there.  So, as I keep thinking "drowning", for some reason "soaring" popped into my head.  Strangely enough I felt a more positive twinge.  Hmm.  Okay, I'll bite.  I'm 'soaring' through my life and navigating the trenches in a most excellent way.  If I write that and try to think that instead of thinking that I am drowning, does it somehow make it so?  Hmm.  Food for thought.  So, blogging friends, off to soar through my day.  Let's hope I don't bump into any stray trees.  ;)

Monday, October 19, 2009

two-thirds of the way in. the volturi are coming.

How stressful!  I am torn between wanting to hurry up and finish so I know what happens and being horrified at finally being done.  Sigh.  Has anyone read The Outlander series?  My friend is raving . . .

paid in raisins . . .

I have a confession to make. I once was kind of glamorous. Not for long, mind you. But still, for a period of time in the early 1990s, being glamorous was a 'high-priority' on my list. My paycheck? For glamour. My weekends? Doing things that glamorous people did. My wardrobe? Fabulous! My skin? Over-tanned. My heart? Stressed and empty.

I spent a tremendous amount of time thinking about me. I worked at a hugely busy law office and then worked on me. My time spent with friends was spent racing from place to place, 'seeing' and 'being seen' and struggling to fill voids with conspicuous consumption that I know now could never be filled.

Marriage and motherhood changed my world. I made a dramatic leap of faith in leaving my hectic 'glamorous' world for a traditional marriage to a man in the military followed by the birth of my three children. I have never regretted my decision. My priorities shifted. I changed. Everything changed.

My paycheck? I'm paid in raisins, 'one of a kind' works of art, paperclip jewelry and 'love you mom' notes. My weekends? Filled to the over-flowing with festivals, scout meetings, birthday parties and family dinners. My wardrobe? Target clearance and MOPS' Garage Sale treasures. My skin? I'm not sure. I haven't had a chance to look in the mirror during the past ten years. ;) My heart? Full. Incredibly full with the love of my family.

Do I regret those empty, glamorous years? No. Actually, I do not. I did have some exciting experiences and for that I am grateful. But, first and foremost, those years give me a fresh appreciation for waking up to a fulfilling and enriching life of living for others rather than just for myself. I experienced those 'fabulous' times and I am grateful to have had those opportunities. But, would I go back? Would I choose a different route? Absolutely not.

I now embrace my "mommy chic". I like having a favorite headband and a 'dressy' ponytail holder. I like that my lipstick is more often than not 'buy one, get one'. I am excited when my pants cost $3.74. And I cherish my filled heart.

Glamour? Beauty? It is in the eye of the beholder. To our little ones, we are all simply beautiful. To Him? We . . . are . . . exquisite.

Friday, October 9, 2009

how can I possibly fold laundry when there is an unopened Book Four in my house?

I am completely out of coffee.  My husband needs white workout socks.  I just used the last bit of Tide moments ago.  Cereal boxes -- empty.  I should be at the store right now but I am taking a three-minute sanity break.  Blogging friends, how am I possibly supposed to fold laundry, go food-shopping, put away the stuff from food-shopping and wash the floors after vacuuming when there is a new unread Twilight book in the house?  Sigh.  Okay.  I am resisting.  Boring.  Hmm, perhaps a compromise?  I'll foodshop just a bit at Target, more fun than Winn Dixie, come back and fold laundry, while watching Project Runway and Top Chef.  Okay.  That sounds better.

Breaking Dawn?  Resting on my nightstand . . .

yes, Book Four -- being delivered by a lovely friend to my mailbox within moments . . .

I have heard it is the best of the Twilight series.  I am 'misty' in anticipation.  I am so ready to return to drowning in Twilight.  Not Jacob, Bella, not Jacob.  Edward, only Edward.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

oh, my. twilight. now I get it.

Now I get it.  Started the series ten days ago when a dear friend walked through my front door and handed me Book One.  Three books down.  Stalking a friend for Book Four.  I am entranced by Twilight.  What rock have I been under?  Oh, why, oh why, did I resist?  Team Edward?  Sign me up.

the Orient Express and the Ferocious Fearlessness of 'Before Children Travel'

The year was 1996.  My husband and I had been married for about a year.  We were living in Germany at the time and he was deployed as he had been throughout most of our marriage.  He spent the first six months of our marriage stationed in Kuwait and the second six months in Bosnia.  Most of our communication that year was via letter.  It was the "olden days" -- before everyone had computers, cell phones, Blackberries, etc.

I received a postcard from Bill letting me know that he had been granted leave -- finally, a long weekend!  As leave was rare and precious, I hurriedly read more of the little note.  Oh, no!  Yes, he had been granted leave, but it wasn't to come home to Germany.  It was going to be in Budapest.  Whew.  I had never been to Hungary before.  I knew it was going to be a challenge.  Hungary wasn't a spot that I could simply make do with my smattering of German and high school Spanish.

Well, I didn't have children and had already spent a good part of my life as a young adult in and out of New York City so my fearlessness was at a relatively ferocious point.  I purchased a train ticket out of Frankfurt, found a wonderful old Grand Ramada Inn from a tattered tourbook and booked it, and began packing.  While I will not bore you with details as to what I packed, I can tell you that what my tiny suitcase contained was nothing like how I pack today.  And, the name of my train?  The Orient Express.  Really.  My weekend -- an unbelievable memory.  Something I will never forget.

When I pack nowadays for my family of five, I am like an efficient machine.  Each of my three girls is allotted their own small suitcase.  Extra unmentionables.  Lots of layers and room for favorite treasures -- just a few, of course.  A suitcase for me.  Bill?  Well, he gets a small carry-on.  :)

The electronics, reserved for the cabin.  Two more books per child then we think we will need.  Extra caffeine for the parents.  And the pre-travel scrubbing and gassing up of the van?  Very necessary!  For me, it makes the journey so much more pleasurable to pull away from the house in a neat and clean van.  But, as the years have passed and my expectations have become more realistic, I have learned to be proud of my little family if we can make it to lunchtime without completely thrashing our vehicle. 

While long trips have become easier with the children as they have become older, I wish I could say it was a dream to travel with them.  But I can't.  I found myself cracking up today, driving from church, in Daddy's sedan, to Home Depot for grout.  My three daughters were arguing and pinching and poking away, resisting any semblance of correction or good behavior.  The scene in my rear-view mirror was so cliche and so absurd that I couldn't help but laugh.  Fortunately, my giggles surprised them out of their argument, and the halos shifted back into place.

I often feel like we as moms need merit badges, just like my girls receive merit badges in Girl Scouts.  Traveling with small children = two merit badges.  One -- Made it to Destination in Relative Good Humor.  Two -- Made it to Destination without Leaving Anyone or Anything Mission-Critical Behind. 

While traveling with my family can be tedious and trying to my patience, I still catch myself looking around at my little crew with a heartfelt joy.  I wouldn't trade my fellow passengers for the world.  And a little secret I have finally started to pick up on?  If Mommy remains upbeat and calm, often the behavior of the rest of my companions will follow . . .

The picture?  Margaret Island in the heart of the Danube River in between the sister cities of Buda and Pest . . . found on Google.  1996?  Long before I had access to digital.  :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

when I grow up . . .

Skyscraper Museum, Scott Duncan, SOM
I asked my four-year-old what she wanted to be the other day.  "I want to be a Science Test!" she chirped.  So sweet.  Happy sigh.

My 10 year old?  A child who is intelligent, creative and driven.  She wants to be an architect working in New York City for Uncle Scott's firm.  My "Miss Precise."  Uncle Scott is a Director at SOM.  At 38, the youngest Director by decades.  Travels around the world.  Lives in a glamorous loft.  Works on massive projects.  Makes gigantic decisions.  Has teams of people working for him.

My 8 year old?  A professional chef who owns her own restaurant.  Coming from a child who LOVES Top Chef.  :)  She is my 'chopper".  My 'cooker'.  My 'money sorter'.  My "Miss Enthusiasm."

I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was younger.  Not original, I guess.  But, absolutely adored horses, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters.  This was replaced during high school with my dream of becoming a reporter in Washington, D.C., followed by a strange vision of becoming a lobbyist during my college years.

I instead became a paralegal and transitioned while pregnant with my firstborn to becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom.

My days are jam-packed, just like everyone else's.  Car lines, music lessons, dance, baton, preschool, church, MOPS, Girl Scouts, neighbors, friends, family, laundry, groceries, dog, vacuuming, cleaning, washing dishes.

This wasn't exactly what I was going to 'be' when I grew up.  But, I am privileged to have this as my job.  It is an honor to be home with my family.  I try to do my "job" to the best of my ability.  I have to, at the end of the day, feel that this is enough.  It is enough simply to be "this" since I am now grown up.

Normally I am comfortable with this concept and satisfied with the impact I make on my family, my home and my community.  But, funny, I feel a little doubt there today.  It is not a feeling I like having.

So, I will return to putting away laundry, emptying the dishwasher and cleaning some baseboards.  All before I get in the car lines, two today, babysit a friend's daughter, run to the store for dinner, make dinner, get everyone to dance, homework, bath, brush teeth and get into bed.  And I will tell myself that this is enough.  What I am doing is making a difference.  'This' is what I should be.

It IS enough, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

windshield wipers . . . delicious! ;)

I picked up Ella, my three-year-old, from preschool the other day.  It had been Yellow Day.  Yellow painting, yellow clothes, yellow goody for Show and Tell, yellow snack.  I always love to hear about her day and asked her what she had for yellow snack.  "Windshield wipers, Mommy!"  said Ella.  "Windshield wipers?"  said I.  "Yes, windshield wipers." "You know, windshield wipers with banana pudding," she said appreciatively.

"Ohhhh, do you mean 'va-nil-la wa-fers"?  I said, cracking up.  "Yes, Mommy, wan-il-lad wa-pers.  Yum!"

She cracks me up.  I just love her to pieces . . .

Sunday, September 13, 2009

date night . . . OPPAAAAA! ;)

While Date Night does not come as frequently as it once did, I am delighted to discover that I still know what to do . . . Pretty black dress, dressy shoes, earrings (that I made of course!) Since a trip to Greece was simply not practical this week, we took out the Date Car (not my Mom Mobile ;)) and made the half hour drive to International Drive in Orlando. We went to Taverna OPA, an utterly fabulous Greek restaurant unique to Florida. Belly dancers, flaming appetizers, Fire-eaters, attentive staff, great Greek wine, divine shrimp kebab entree and dessert . . . sigh.  Bumped into friends, danced around the room in a giant "Greek conga" line and completely enjoyed myself . . . every minute. Coming to visit Orlando? Make this wonderful restaurant a must on your list. Date nights? OPPPAAAAA! ;)

(This beautiful picture can be found at free image site

Sunday, September 6, 2009

must . . . go . . . do . . . laundry! :)

Ah, blog world, you are enticing and exciting, but I simply must depart and do some chores. I thought I would share a beautiful visual with you from one of my favorite spots in the world. Not only is she a fabulous friend, she is a gifted artiste! I can't wait to post pictures of the two signs she dropped off for me this weekend -- two signs for Morgan's Parisienne room. Tres magnifique! (Yes, you are right. I know no French. ;))

Please check out Heather's site at The Polkadot Fieldmouse. She is simply a precious person!

to Zicam or not to Zicam? ;)

Good afternoon and happy Sunday to all! While I am normally quite careful about strongly presenting one side or another of a subject, there are certain things that work for me and that I simply feel confident getting behind. :) I am a firm believer that each person is entitled to their own opinion. I love creatively-opinionated people, even if I disagree with them . . .

But, Zicam? I stand behind it. This is not an official endorsement in any way. This is one mom of three busy, busy girls (who are saturated in other kids) that wants to help her fellow mom from getting sick. I used to pick up colds regularly. Throw in schools, church, dance classes, girls scouts, grocery shopping -- ugh, when I THINK of the germs I must touch on a regular basis. (Love hand sanitizer, love Lysol wipes.) But, I still would get sick.

My mom kept pushing Zicam on me -- the orange 'dissolvable on your tongue' tablets. Last year I decided to give it a shot. I have no time to be sick. :) On about five occasions during the past year I have felt a serious cold coming on. Headache. Bodyaches. Sinuses. Drippy nose. Each time, right away, literally that day, I took Zicam and took it every couple of hours for the whole day. After food, after drink. Not on an empty stomach. And you know what? Every single time I have felt 95 percent better the next day. I now know to keep some in the house. I won't even let a couple of hours of feeling badly get past me. I'll take a single Benadryl right before I go to bed and it really works.

For me.

Of course, we are all different, but maybe this might be the year you decide to give it a try. It is sort of pricey -- like $10 for a bottle. But you don't need to use a whole bottle -- just enough for a couple of days. Anyway, for what it is worth, that is my 'almost forty-year-old mom of three' opinion. ;) (Just ask me how I feel about Tide -- :) -- that's a whole other post. lol) Pardon me while I jump down off of my soapbox and go get into super-comfortable 'not seeing anyone else today besides family' clothes. :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

flu mist friday . . .

Okay, my friends, it's flu mist Friday here at the Benson house. We haven't ever had the flu mist vaccine before -- what have your experiences been? Any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

3 words thursday . . .

I love to stop by 'And they lived happily ever after . . . ' It is always a sweet place to visit. Her family is just precious! Please head on over and say 'hello!'

She has a darling idea. 3 Words Thursday. Check out her football post. Too cute. I'm inspired. I can handle three words. ;)


My three words?

Caffeine. Grace. Prayer.


square peg in a round hole . . . the 'whack-a-mole" approach to blog buttons. ;)

Many of you are extremely blog-savvy. I definitely am not. Tend to be more of the square peg in a round hole kind of approach girl if you know what I mean! In the past few months that I have had my blog I have struggled through figuring out the Etsy shop, changing backgrounds, three-column formats, scrolling marquis, etc. Each time I tried something new was a challenge, but a challenge I liked. I found that I enjoyed figuring out formatting and exploring the html world. One hurdle taunted me. I couldn't figure it out to save myself. The blog button. The grab button that shares a little bit of you with anyone nice enough to take you with them. (Thanks, sweet friends . . .)

Sigh. The elusive blog button. While I love my blue and brown professionally-prepared button, (oh my gluestick is a gifted artist), I struggle with a compulsive need to frequently change my backgrounds to reflect my moods. Probably annoying to others but satisfying to me. Kind of like putting on a new shirt or changing nailpolish colors. But, free. ;) Free is always nice in this economy.

So I have given the blog button a whirl using a lovely new discovery. Photoshop. Wow. Have you all known about Photoshop already? Beautiful free layouts for scrapbooks. So pretty! Love this place. Anyway, without much ado, I am placing my 'square peg in the round hole" button, pink and black, over on the right side of my blog. I think it works. I think the code works. So on that rainy boring day when you do not have a single thing to do, perhaps someone would consider trying this out and seeing if the 'whack-a-mole' approach to blog buttons actually works. (lol ;) ) Off to dance class with the girls -- simply have to load the dishwasher before I leave. Hope you are all having a great day!

seventeen bracelets, thirty-three pairs of earrings (and a partridge in a pear tree ;) ) . . .

Friends, I have just made a count of my inventory. Seventeen bracelets and thirty-three pairs of earrings. I have to double this amount in six weeks and still keep things 'oh so pretty!' Sigh. When will I have the time? Aargh.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

she's crafty! (tell me you are not now channeling your inner Beastie Boy! ;)

I have a bit of a dilemma. Each year, twice a year, as coordinator, I am responsible for making homemade gifts for the women of my moms' group steering team. There are 32 women on my team this year. I took over from the super-crafty and wasn't at all myself. As such my beading passion was born! I have made earrings, bracelets and necklaces -- all very simple, all group theme-related (meaning colors, flowers, etc.).

Here's the rub. I am not sure what to make this year. I have a budget of $4.00 per mom. That's it. The ladies are pretty sophisticated crafters -- they, while very pleasant and kind, well, let's just say I would like them to be pleased by my efforts. Past coordinators have made an ornament, cell phone charm and soap.

I keep coming back to simple, elegant pendants. I can give them to the ladies on a simple organza ribbon to cut down on costs. They can then transfer them to a chain they already have.

This year's theme is about Travel. Planet Mom. Our table names are things like Ships, Trains, Planes, etc. Our donation basket is the Sky Miles basket. Our doorprize basket is a travel trunk.

I have no experience making homemade pendants. I have no experience making polymer clay pendants.

I keep thinking oval or rectangle. Smooth and polished. Clean lines and elegant or utterly charming. Sterling Silver. Maybe with blues, greens, grays and whites.

What can I possibly make, my bloggy friends? Any thoughts? Something will come to mind, I am sure. :)

a few elite members of the 'truffle-making entourage' . . . still dripping from the pool ;)!

If a soaking wet crew of third-graders can make beautiful truffles, you can too! The perfect teacher/neighbor/family Christmas presents . . . you can substitute adult beverages in for grown-up truffles. A splash of rum in the truffles you roll in coconut, a splash of Amaretto in the truffles you roll in almonds -- no worries, we stuck with vanilla for this crew!

the 10th birthday party . . . we'll always have Paris! ;)

It's Friday night around 5:15 p.m. and all is quiet. The house is immaculate. Pink, white and black balloons, everywhere. Pink tablecloths. The cake arrived at 3:30 and has been placed on a puff of pink netting. Furniture has been pushed back. I made platter after platter of baguettes, meats and cheeses. I bought pounds and pounds of fruits, bananas, apples, watermelon, three kinds of grapes. The crafts were ready -- ribbon barettes, boxes for their truffles. The simplest truffle recipe in the world was printed out and ready to go. Within moments, we had 21 little girls, from third grade through fifth grade, arrive at the house, ready for the birthday party. Three were mine. Four did not sleep over. 17 little girls, all in sleeping bags, on tons of extra quilts, comforters, blankets and more. Asleep by midnight, seven minutes before the shuttle launch. This was a treasure! I loved every exhausting moment of this opportunity to be a mom. Such a gift. What a wonderful job I have!

The truffle recipe:

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups of confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese

Melt chocolate and pour into blended ingredients. Whip with hand-held mixer. Pull mixer out of tall bowl slowly to get mixture off of blades. Chill for one hour. Roll into balls. Roll in toppings. My toppings were lined up in different containers: coconut, minced nuts, cocoa powder, sprinkles -- chocolate and rainbow, sugar crystals, and crushed peppermint. These are easy, beautiful and super-fabulous as gifts. The girls loved them! We placed them in mini-muffin wrappers and fit three in each little box. Completely darling . . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

little tear of 'wow' in the corner of my eye . . .

So I stopped by our Braft Club (Remember? Book and Craft. ;) ) tonight on the way home from a ridiculously busy day with all three of my girls right after their dance class. It was about 7:30. My husband travels a lot -- he works with NASA -- and I had a little evening flexibility. I knew I couldn't stay. The kids needed to be home. But, I needed to see my friends and had said I would stop by. :)

They were busy making Fimo Pens. (Oh, I have to make some soon -- they are so awesome! ;) ) But, I digress. So we were visiting for a couple of minutes and we began to leave. As we were leaving, someone was arriving and calling my name. She had a surprise for me. It was Abbie of Overflow creams, lotions and scents. She said her mother was so excited about our efforts for the craft fair that she wanted to help. She mailed a whole box stuffed to the gills with beading supplies to Abbie to give to me. Beads, glass, clay, lampwork, metal, spacers, toggles.

I have to say that tear of total surprise, joy and pleasure coming at the end of an oh so tense afternoon just rolled right on down the cheek. Too spontaneous to stop. I have never even met Abbie's mother. For someone to be that generous . . . well, it makes you want to go do nice things for others. Hats off to kind people everywhere . . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

impatient cow . . .

Knock, Knock.

Who's there?

Impatient Cow.

Impatient Cow Wh -- MOO! -- o?

I crack myself up everytime my daughters and I tell this joke to each other. Doesn't take much I guess :) . . . Today was "making people laugh" day. Happy hopping, my friends!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, August 24, 2009

better late than never . . . i absolutely love Glee!

I finally got around to watching Glee on my DVR. Glee aired on Fox during the middle of the summer. Where have I been? I absolutely loved it. Every minute of it. I believe the show starts up in the next couple of weeks. I won't miss a minute. What a GREAT show! Loved it!

ode to my crockpot . . .

I made a wonderful recipe yesterday. It was my daughter's 10-year-old birthday party for family and she had chosen French cuisine. Not being experienced and still being a regular non-fancy person, I decided to try a chicken cordon bleu recipe. Sadly, I had been storing items in my oven and off of my counter, forgot and lit the oven last week, burning the plastic Pampered Chef nesting bowls inside. Huge bummer on many fronts! Well, still needed to make dinner. My mother gave me a Chicken Cordon Bleu crockpot recipe which was simple and came out very well. I thought I would share.


Large package of fresh chicken breast, washed, trimmed and pounded flat (relatively)
1 lb. package of baked ham slices
1 lb. package of swiss cheese
Dill weed
1 c. white wine
1 can of fat-free cream of mushroom soup

Lay-out in large baking dish chicken breasts, top each breast with a slice of ham and a slice of cheese, sprinkle liberally with dill, basil, parsley, pepper and a bit of salt. Roll each breast and carefully place in bottom of large oval crock. Repeat. Mix white wine and soup -- pour over chicken. Cover entire dish with extra swiss. Cook for four hours on high, keep until ready to serve on low or warm. I transferred them all to a white serving dish and spooned out 'sauce' from the bottom of the crock over the breasts. They were very good and super-simple. I served a wild rice mix and young asparagus on the side with crusty French bread. Served five adults, three children and left enough for tonight. Ah, so nice to have dinner already ready . . .

here it is -- my seven minutes of fame . . . oh so stressful!

Okay, friends, I promised! I have included the link of the interview about my moms' group. Normally, I would be too self-conscious to do this, but if I can't relax with my blogging friends, then well . . . ? Be patient, I am interviewed with my friend, Melissa, after a brief introduction of a few other stories to come . . . Click on the right side next to Today in Brevard, Previous Shows -- go to August 24th, Lifestyles -- woman in red shirt. Enjoy! :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

the bedspread is in . . . so excited!

Morgan turns ten in a few days. Room painted, check. Stepstool, shelves and bookcases painted, check. Curtains purchased, check. Clock, check. Artwork, on its way from Aunts and Uncles. Lamp from grandmother, check. I can't wait! (And even my laundry is done -- it has been quite a week! ;) )

Now to paint the ceiling fan, hang the curtain rod and wrap everything else . . .

She has asked for french cuisine. I let the girls (and anyone else who is here on their birthday) choose the country of their choice for the food I prepare. Problem. My oven is not working. Sigh. I'll share that story next time. Off to Bunko! :) Have a great night!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

my television debut was taped today ;) . . .

Shhh! Don't tell anybody. Ha. Ha. I had my first television experience today. It was more fun than I thought it was going to be. A local television station interviewed me and a precious friend about our moms' group. I was nervous, but because the topic was one that I know inside and out, I couldn't help but have fun. No wardrobe malfunctions. No spilled coffee. No major "foot in mouth" moments. It was great to be behind the scenes, checking out how it all works. I have a tremendous appreciation for those who regularly appear on camera and are naturals. It is much harder than I thought it would be to come across like you want to. I had a ton of laughs and am really glad to have this experience under my belt. Plus, now I have major cool points with my girls because they think I'm famous! ;) If I can track down any kind of link, I'll post it . . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

beginning bloggers . . . i have found the answer to 'how do I get my treasured blogging badges to scroll?"! ah, getting misty again . . .

I love my bloggy friends' blog buttons. I think they are pretty and I love anything that showcases peoples' creativity. Over the two months or so that I have been blogging, I have developed quite a collection of great buttons of lovely blogs. I have been admiring the scrolling marquis approach on many a sophisticated blog for some time now and was keeping that in the back of my mind as My Next Great Blog Adjustment Project. Lo and behold, McKlinky sends me a note with all of the clues -- literally fell out of the sky. Love that! Here it is for everyone else that might want to give it a go . . . (Oh, and minor tweak -- I widened the pixels from 125 to 185 to fit the wider badges favored by some of my friends -- you'll see what I mean when you review the code.)
McLinky's Scrolling Marquis Widget Advice

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

and why has it taken me six days to come relax on my blog? for shame . . . :)

1. Preschool and regular school began last week. Homework.

2. Had to find a family picture that I was actually in for my preschooler's Coconut Attendance Tree. (Unbelievably hard! I am the picture-taker.)

3. Had neighborhood kids over every day. Literally every day and I loved every minute of it. Everyone is so much happier.

4. Worked a "dancewear" yard sale at my daughters' dance studio open house. All day Saturday.

5. Church.

6. Girl Scout Meeting at the Police Department.

7. Anniversary Dinner at my parents' house.

8. PTO Meeting.

9. Painted my daughter's room, bookshelf, nightstand, two stools and rearranged her room. This weekend will be the "Big Reveal" for her 10th Birthday.

10. Made and sent out invitations to her "Une Soiree a Paris" party.

11. Met with my daughter's orthodontist about beginning treatment.

11. Colored my hair. (Part of my Fall Overhaul -- read more).

I had to write down this list. I have felt like I haven't accomplished much in my house this week. My living room floor is covered in laundry. Everything needs Fall Cleaning and I need a Fall Overhaul. Sometimes making a list of things you have already done as opposed to what you have to do will say "look -- you did plenty!" But, I have missed my blogging nest and my bloggy friends. If only I had a laptop that I could play with in the car line, picking up the kids from school . . . If only! (Oh, and the picture of my imagined Martha Stewart-esque organized self? If only . . . if only! :) )

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

tag, i'm it!

I love Smell the Coffee, Lisa. She is a great commenter, hilarious, quirky and fun. Simply great! I enjoy every minute I 'visit' with her! She's tagged me so I get to share. Five things that I love. Hmmmmmmmm. Of course, there are the serious answers. My family. God. My friends. Church. The list I am about to share is a walk on the wee bit less serious side.

1. Totebags -- maniacally (is that a word?) obsessed with totebags of any kind. I have a totebag for everything. I like shopping for totebags. I like getting them, filling them, looking at them -- everything totebags. Three of my happiest (jk) days were the day we made bedazzled tote bags in my moms' group, the day my moms' group gave me a Vera tote as a present and the day I found five beach tote bags that were normally $20 apiece on clearance for $1.48. Yes, I bought them all and I have used them selfishly just for me. Decadence!
2. Dance music -- I can get so much more done when Disturbia and Mambo 5 and Lady Gaga are playing in the background.
3. Caffeine -- I start the day with coffee and iced tea and don't stop all day. I love caffeine and it loves me.
4. Grosgrain ribbon -- I love the way it looks, it feels, the colors, the texture -- I would wrap myself in it and wear it everywhere.
5. Bread -- good, crusty, yummy warm baguettes with butter on it. Oh, I like bread so very, very much!

Wow. I had no idea this post would be so random. Hilarious! I am tagging two people who I would love for them to spend more time blogging. These women are WONDERFUL and I love them to pieces.

-- The Polkadot Fieldmouse
-- Laugh or Weep

Thanks, Lisa Anne, for making me laugh! Heather and Jesse, tag, you're it!

calm before the storm . . .

My girls returned to school this week. Ella began preschool for the first time. It is a strange feeling to contemplate having those few hours two times a week to myself. Sort of a guilty feeling, surprisingly enough. I can see myself filling that time quickly with obligations that are kid-related, like additional volunteering at my children's schools or my church, but am getting this weird vibe that maybe I should grab a little bit of it for myself. For so long, we have been running, running, running, would it hurt for me to have a little bit of "off-duty" time? I don't know. Perhaps leaving the door open during this calm before the storm is the right answer. There is nothing wrong with grabbing coffee with friends. There is nothing wrong with a little sanity break at the computer. Hmm. Hi, I'm Linda and I am learning how to be comfortable with seeing blank spots in my calendar . . . ;)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

thank you, 5 Sweet Peas, for my Fab Award!

A heartfelt thank you to the delightful Melissa at 5 Sweet Peas for this wonderful award! Melissa is full of great encouragement and comments. Please check out her oh so pretty! site. This award came at a simply delightful time -- can you see the sweat on my brow from yesterday's efforts? (LOL -- It was actually fun!) I appreciate the award and the sentiments behind it.

The rules for accepting this award are to post it on your blog with a link to the blog that gave it to you and tag 5 other fabulous blogs. I love so many that it is hard to choose. As I just honored many of my favorites a few weeks ago, I'd like to share with you some new discoveries -- I hope you enjoy them too! We also have to list 5 things we obsess over. Took me seconds to make this list.

1. Caffeine
2. My girls
3. So You Think You Can Dance (such a dufus . . .)
4. My moms' group
5. Chocolate, Travel, Great Wines, Wonderful Friends, Blogging (Oops! Couldn't help myself!)

Thank you again, Melissa -- very sweet!

Five of My Newly-Discovered Fab Blogs

Smell the Coffee, Lisa

The Blah Blah Blahger

Jesse Kate Designs

Pickled Pepper Photography

Carma Sez . . . There's Always Something

omg, is there no end to my ocd happiness?

I know I am in trouble when I found myself choking up with joy that I was able to figure out how to line up all of my buttons on the right side of my blog . . . Linda, step away from the blog! LOL! ;)

Monday, August 10, 2009

have you ever noticed?

Have you ever noticed when you tweak one thing on your blog that it often nudges another? Not a bad thing but it sure can take a bit of time to get everything 'just so'. My three column format is great! I'm thrilled! But, I did not like how my border and blog were not lining up perfectly -- I am a bit o.c.d., I admit. So I changed my border to one that worked with the three column format and then realized that I had to change all of my font colors. Then I noticed that my LinkWithin widget was off-color -- of course had to tweak that too. Finally, my playlist song is completely annoying me after listening to it off and on all afternoon so I am about to put on something fun! LOL! So funny. Well, we also enjoyed lots of fun in the pool this afternoon -- the kids had a GREAT first day back. What a wonderful Monday this was! Hope you had a good one too!

hurray! I did it, I did it! three columns, omg, I am too excited!

Thanks to html guidance from The Cutest Blog, I did it! I made my blog three-columns. Boy, it is so SPACIOUS around here! I love it, I love it! Three columns to play with! If anyone is interested in finding out where I found the information, please let me know. Probably need to tweak some of my edges to keep things looking tight but for now I am running with it! So much fun . . . now off to pick up my two oldest daughters and all of their friends from school. Happily, the minivan is cleaned out and ready to go! Happy Monday, my friends, Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

i found myself missing my friend today . . .

Did you ever have one of those friends that is just, well, different from all of your other friends? One of those friends who is that every day kind of friend. Lives several houses away. Has children the same ages. Simply looks at things the same way you do? You admire her devotion to her children, to her home. She truly loves you as a friend. Your children's birthday parties are complete just because she says she is going to be there. You look forward to her number coming up on caller id. You can't wait to tell her whatever just happened to you, good or bad. She makes the bad days better and the good days the best. She loves your children almost as much as you love them. She is kind. She is funny. She is intuitive. She knows just what to say. Even your husbands get along famously. Your kids are fast friends. You carpool together. You laugh together. You cry together. You attend funerals together as well as dance recitals. There is just something incredibly special about that best, best friend.

Until a couple of months ago, I had that friend. I still have her, a blessing for which I am grateful, but she has moved thousands of miles away. Even though I live in a community where I have scores upon scores of amazing friends in my life, I found myself missing her, my best friend, a lot today. I miss that every day friend, my blogging friends. I simply miss Mary . . .

Friday, August 7, 2009

our Fab Friday Winner is, da da da, drumroll please!

Mel B. at Wonder Mom Envy wins! Hurray, Mel B.! Very, very happy for you! I look forward to hearing from you. This giveaway got a bit messy -- ;) -- have to admit, my giveaway process is not very green. Little bits of papers all over, one for every one of my followers and one for every comment. Hmmm. Perhaps there just might be a slightly more well, efficient way of conducting my giveaways? No worries. This still is a lot of fun and you have to admit -- the odds are outstanding that you are going to win one of these days! :) Three winners over the past few weeks. Too much fun not to do another! Hmmm. I am making new jewelry this weekend. I'll chose something fun and post my next giveaway later in the weekend. Oh, and did I tell you? I won a giveaway at Kelly Ann's blog -- tear in the corner of eye! It arrived today! Yea, I smell beautiful, so fancy! What an improvement, lol! Fun, fun, fun. And, wink, wink, btw, did you notice just how much more spacious it is around here? Ha, ha. Squeezed in a bit of blog tweaking while digging out from under all of my scraps of paper. Next week's project? Should I? Could I? Yes, I am going to give it a go -- the dreaded three column transition week! Wish me luck, my friends. Thanks for stopping by. Congrats again to Mel B.!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

my three year old fashionista, dressed out of the costume box by her older sisters -- now THAT'S an expression . . .

I just dropped by Lisa Anne's blog, Smell the Coffee, Lisa and had to laugh at her recent post. She's great -- you'll have fun visiting her. Shared with her something Ella, the three year old said yesterday. I was in one of my well, fluffier shirts, I guess and she looked at me and said, "mom, i like your clothes especially the tu tu part" . . . I just love three year olds . . . ;)

Tucson. Sterling silver, ruby, red and blue turquoise and silverplate . . .

Leaf. Gold, polymer clay, potato seed pearls, goldplate . . .

Edge of a stream. Green ceramic lentils, silver . . .

Thunderclouds. Jet glass silver foil, silver, Naodelate . . .

Reef. Bali silver, jet shell round lentil, silver . . .

Starburst. Bali silver, potato pearl, polymer clay . . .

Smooth. Bali silver, silver and Leopard jasper . . .

ah, some more treasures to add to my collection . . . the craft fair will be here before we know it.

The craft fair is going to be held this fall. As you know, I am working with Overflow lotions and balms as well as The Polkadot Fieldmouse on a booth. Next week is our photoshoot -- we are going to put together our sample booth. Oh, I LOVE this kind of stuff :)!!!

sweet little maddie heading off to four year old preschool -- five years simply fly by . . .

My sweet-tempered, loving Maddie heads off to third grade this year. Look at her five years ago on her way to preschool. What a sweet pumpkin she is . . .

laundry. ;)

That last post made me think about something. My housekeeping nemesis is laundry. I do it all of the time, no kidding with a family of five. I wake up in the morning and before coffee put in my first load. It's often the last thing I do before I go to bed. I have a small laundry room, glad I have one, but I am one of those, yes I admit it, who pull the laundry out of the dryer and place it on the nearby couch, waiting to be folded. My every day friends know how much I loathe laundry. We've even named my laundry. It's name is Fred. My husband came home one night and said, oh, looks like Fred's moved in and has taken over my couch. Ha. Of course, the name stuck. Some of my friends with better senses of humor share with me when Fred comes to visit them. Jill has Ethel come and stay with her. I don't have the courage to publish pictures of Fred. The rest of my house is neat and clean. Today is the day that I will ask Fred to get back on the road and stay there! (At least for a couple of weeks ;) ) I knew I had laundry issues when I get truly excited to have a brand-new container of Tide. It makes me happy to open a new package of Bounce. So weird. Anyway, please wish me luck. And, btw, what's your housekeeping nemesis?

can't believe this first day of first grade was five years ago! oh, my. my little morgan on her first day . . .

Today is 'Meet and Greet' at my daughters' elementary school. Morgan is going into fifth grade and Madison into third. As I was hanging up all of the school clothes we bought yesterday (alleluia for a 40 percent of Justice card!), it hit me that this will be the sixth year I have been on that campus. Wow. My youngest, Ella, is just heading into preschool this year. I am simply going to be at the elementary school forever. We have pulled great teachers this year, for all of the girls. One of those homerun years. Tomorrow is physicals, school supplies, a playdate and some serious laundry effort. Oh, Summer, where did you go? ;)

thanks, brown couch, for the puppy! ;) (and the words of encouragement . . . )

Brown Couch took the time to make this little guy for her blog-hopping friends on the McLinky blog hop this week -- very sweet! You can pick up the code at her site at comfortjoydesigns. Thanks, Brown Couch, for spreading some love!

Monday, August 3, 2009

encouragement . . . to hop is to smile, to visit, to make new friends . . .

'Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." -- Mother Teresa

I am forever grateful for the wonderful people in my life that leave those tender echoes. Thank you for blessing me!

MckLinky Blog Hop

why do vacations have to come to an end? :)

This was a fabulous vacation. We relaxed, we played, we had a lovely time! Oh, to return . . .

Saturday, August 1, 2009

i am thrilled! Thank you, Chrissy, for my awards . . .

A special thank you to the talented and gracious Chrissy at DSL Kids for my blog awards! Thank you very, very much -- your thoughtfulness is truly appreciated! For a visual feast, please check out Chrissy's site, DSL Kids. What a delightful spot she has!

I am delighted to share with you the rules of this award.

1. Include the award logo in your blog or post.
2. Nominate as many blogs which you like.
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

I would love to nominate the following blog for the Adorable Blog and the Uplifting Blog Awards:

Thoughts on Everything and Nothing

I smile every time I stop by her most adorable and uplifting spot in the world . . . once you visit her, I think you will see why ;) . . . enjoy!

For more super-special blogs, please visit my post from last week about the lovely blogs I have recently discovered. These blogs rock! I love exploring each and every one and hope you will too. I enjoy each minute I spend visiting these special places.

Thank you again, Chrissy, for the awards! It is so fun to discover new blogging friends . . . I look forward to seeing what lies in the weeks and months ahead!

i'm home!

After an oh-so-fabulous trip to the Florida Keys, I am home! It was an amazing trip -- I loved every minute! I am now busy scaling Mt. Laundry, peeking through giant blades of grass that need to be mowed and wondering how so much clutter can simply burst out of my minivan . . . whew ;). In between the mountain of chores, I just had to peek into my blog to see what had been happening and was thrilled to see all of the fun goings on! I won a beautiful perfume from the so very, very talented Kelly Ann at Kelly Ann's Studio (happy sigh, tear in corner of eye, ;) ) and two warm and lovely blog awards from the sweetest of sweet SITS sister Chrissy at DSL Kids! Thank you, Kelly Ann and Chrissy! I am just tickled . . . And thank you to all of my wonderful blogging friends who stopped by with a smile and a comment or two or three. You have made my week! Happy to be home, my friends, happy to be home . . .

Friday, July 24, 2009

i'm on island time . . .

The big day is here. We are leaving for vacation. We are heading to the Keys for mini-lobster season and some much-needed family time. I am not sure if I will have e-mail access at our accommodations. If I do, I will continue to check in. If not, I look forward to checking in with all of you when I return and will definitely be excited to see all that has happened here while I have been gone! May your week be lovely! Thank you for stopping by. I truly value and cherish the support and love you all offer. Please take a moment to sign my guestbook at the bottom of my blog. I would simply love to know you came by, my friends. Thank you. Island time, here I come! Wish you were here!

our next Fab Friday Giveaway . . . August 7th . . .

So excited that Trinity won our recent giveaway! My faithful 'assistants' and I decided it was time to have an earring giveaway. These delicate little earrings are lovingly made to go with many different looks. Naodelite, a smooth and cool semi-precious gemstone, Bali Silver accent beads and my favorite delicately curved petite silver earring hooks. I have wanted to grab these out of my craft fair offerings many times -- I think I need to make a pair for me! Charcoal, swirls of light grayish green and silver, ahh, a favorite. Our next winner will be announced on August 7th.

To enter:

-- You will need to be a follower of my blog.

-- Please comment a "count me in" on this post.

For additional entries:

-- Sign in on my new "guestbook" at the bottom of my blog.

-- Blog about the giveaway on your blog and let me know at this post that you have done so.

Have fun, thanks for stopping by, I love giveaways and I hope to make people happy. Happy winning!

our Fab Friday Giveaway -- We have a winner!

Congratulations to Trinity Powell on being the winner of Oh So Pretty! Jewelry Studio's Second Fab Friday Giveaway of the green and amber-colored Swarovski Crystal bracelet! Morgan, my oldest 'assistant', did a great job with choosing Trinity out of the pile of papers, Madison, my second-oldest 'assistant' made ;). There is nothing like adding the help of three wiggly bunnies to the 'winner-picking' mix! Congratulations, Trinity, on your win! I hope you enjoy the bracelet very much. Please send me an e-mail to with your mailing address. Thank you to all of the mommies that entered! Hmm, oh what, oh what shall we give away next!? Too much fun! xoxoxo ;)

ahh, it is giveaway day tomorrow ;)! Fab Friday Giveaways -- Morgan's turn to choose . . .

Hmm, just who will it be? ;) Check back Friday morning for the winner!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

my first award! thank you, Cailin Marie!

I was absolutely delighted to receive a "One Lovely Blog Award" from a sweet fellow blogger named Cailin Marie. I have so enjoyed visiting her blog, completely charmed by her blog name, 5 kids, 2 dogs, 1 lizard and a Hermit Crab, as well as her sweet spirit. I was thrilled to stop by to pick up this lovely award! Thank you.

The rules to receiving this award are to:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I know you will appreciate these lovely spots in the world as much as I do! Thank you, Cailin Marie, for this delightful honor! I appreciate it very much!

My List of "oh so lovely!" blogs . . .

5 kids, 2 dogs, 1 lizard and a Hermit Crab

Oh My Gluestick!

One Day at a Time

Wonder Mom Envy

A Day in the Life of a Housewife

Kelly Ann Studio

Pocket Full of Pink

Thoughts on Everything and Nothing

The Poor College Students' Guide to Raising a Baby

Just Me . . . The Picture-Taker

The Hollywood Memoirs: The Life and Times of a Domesticated Rockstar


The Giveaway Diva

DSL Kids

Haus of Girls

Chapman Crazy House

The Polkadot Fieldmouse

Great spirits and wonderful artists -- I hope you will enjoy visiting these sites very much! Honoring all things 'lovely', thank you again, Cailin Marie.

Monday, July 20, 2009

i love hopping . . . mmmm, all these yummy recipes! my offering has five ingredients . . . i need to find more five ingredient recipes ;) . . .

Mmmmmm. I made a completely simple and delicious dish this weekend with only five ingredients. Using the freshest, yummiest, ingredients I could find, I made a delightful Bacon Salad. You'll need:
-One package of Romaine lettuce hearts
-One small handful of fresh spinach
-6-8 eggs
-1 lb of bacon
-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Wash and tear Romaine and spinach into bite-size pieces. Boil eggs. Cool eggs. Peel eggs. Quarter eggs. Cook bacon in microwave to 'gently crisp'. Tear bacon into small pieces. Toss all ingredients together, with the exception of the dressing. Cover tightly. Chill. Moments before serving, toss with balsamic dressing to lightly coat. Yummy. Looks fresh and inviting with only five ingredients. This was a big hit with everyone at my father-in-law's birthday party and was still crisp and fresh the next day for lunch. Enjoy!

MckLinky Blog Hop

the sweet scent of a perfume giveaway . . .

Please peek into Kelly Ann Studio's beautiful spot in the world to find out more about her latest giveaway. How does she keep finding all of these fabulous treasures? ;) Peek in today -- it will be over soon.

beginning bloggers unite :) . . .

It has been a delight to visit many sweet blogs and visit my new button made especially for me by She Designs, She Inspires, She Creates. I thank each of you for sharing your support with me. I struggled for the past six weeks of my blogging experience to figure out a way to create my very own grab button. I could not figure it out to save myself. In a single weekend, 'She Inspires' turned around a beautiful button that completely reflected my blogging home. Fellow bloggers, especially for my fellow beginners, please peek into her little nest. She has freebies (see my precious new blinkie above my girls?) and links to her Etsy store. Her "she inspires" button on the left of my site will take you straight there . . .

a name bracelet . . .

After years of admiring 'mother's bracelets', I was delighted to have the opportunity to design one for a special person. I chose her son's birthstone, periodot, and Swarovski crystals, of course. I selected Sterling Silver elements, including a Sterling Silver heart clasp. I love working with materials when cost is not any kind of limiting factor. The bracelet is so sparkly, satisfyingly-heavy and such a sweet and beautiful reminder of her precious son. After factoring in my cost and time, I arrived upon a price for my Etsy shop. I'd love to make a custom piece for another special person. Please check out my shop . . . :)

the party.

Ah. It is nice to be back on the computer. We have had family in from all over this week. Texas, New Jersey, Kentucky, Miami. It was my father-in-law's 70th birthday party. We hosted it here, poolside, and it was a wonderful night. I made him an album from Shutterfly. I began with photos from my husband's childhood and continued right up until today. It came out beautifully. I highly recommend this kind of gift for a birthday of significance. I spent Saturday morning making many side salads to accompany the barbeque beef I had in the crockpot. For those who may be a bit "beef"-challenged like myself, I used two large chuck under blade roasts. It was "buy one, get one" at Winn Dixie (yea!). I placed them in the crockpot after rinsing them. Seasoned them with basil, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. I poured an amber beer over them and a half bottle of prepared barbeque sauce. They cooked all day. They pulled apart beautifully at the end of the day. I removed all of the fatty pieces and had a giant platterful of shredded beef. I served this with a bacon, egg and romaine salad, a tortellini and broccoli salad, a crunchy coleslaw salad and an ambrosia salad. My mother brought over a warm bean salad dish and her famous potato salad. I served everything with rolls, following a cheese, cracker and veggie tray. It was wonderful because I made all of the salads in the morning. I used really fresh ingredients from Publix. The recipes were simple but very flavorful. The dinner was extremely well-received. I normally tend to spend a good deal of my guest-time cooking complicated dishes and was delighted to have every single thing prepared in advance. The yield was so great that we were able to enjoy each one of the sides for a second dinner last night of grilled tilapia prepared with paprika, lemon slices and basil. It is so nice to have had the event come off so smoothly! :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

i just found the cutest completely inexpensive craft idea at oh my gluestick!

I am now kicking myself for all of the times I have thrown one of these away. I want them all back. Head on over to Oh My Gluestick to see what she did with a tall wipes container. I can't even post a picture because I don't want to claim her "oh my gluestick!" moment -- she's earned it! :) Follow the sweet card to my left and enjoy! I love creative people!

Monday, July 13, 2009

a busy week . . . (and a fun blog hop . . .)

I really enjoyed this week's blog hop! Always fun to make new friends and check out lots of sites. I am teaching Kindergarten at a summer camp this week so my time blogging is a bit limited. Relatives from out of town are visiting. A lot to do . . . whew . . .