Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Favorite Things #33

My friend, Barbara, introduced me to Smith's Rosebud Salve when she brought it as her favorite thing to my birthday celebration.  It is now one of my favorite things! I have to keep one in my purse and one by my bed because I hate being without it.  I use it all the time on my lips, but the past few weeks I've had a terrible cold and my nose has been raw.  I took to rubbing the salve under my nose and it made it feel about 1,000 times better.  At $6.00 a tin it's an affordable luxury!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Arbor Day

Friday was Arbor Day and I wanted to at least acknowledge the day since we completely missed Earth Day while we were traveling.  I made the children an easy and cute tree snack for after school.  We decided it was an abstract portrait of our favorite crabapple tree.  It consisted of grapes, pretzel rods and raspberries.  Isn't it cute?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Visiting Family + The World of Coke

After YHC, we made our way to my sister's house to spend time with her family.  It was wonderful for the children to play with their cousin and for Bryce and I to connect with Bill and Delita. 

On our last day in Atlanta, we made a trip together to The World of Coke.  Though she rarely gets one, Grace is a huge fan of Coca-Cola and Harris likes the idea of Coke- he just doesn't yet share the love of carbonation!

 I really love this floral designed bottle for Fashion Week.

Don't we look great in our 3-D glasses?

The children loved the tasting room!  You could try lots and lots of Coke products from around the world!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Young Harris College

Friday morning, we headed up to the mountains to Young Harris College.  This school is so very dear to our hearts.  It's where Bryce and I met, where he proposed, where our children were christened and where Harris gets his name!  It was alumni weekend so we were able to visit with some friends and see what's new to the school.  Most importantly, we were able to show Harris and Grace this beloved place!

We got to visit with Brian and meet one of his adorable children.  Bryce, Thad and Brian were roommates at The University of Georgia.  The times we had with these guys make me smile just thinking about them. 

Patty and I went to school together and later ended up teaching together!

We also got to watch a YHC baseball game, which made Harris happy!

One of the best parts of our weekend was spending time with Thad and his lovely family. We met them for dinner on Friday evening and then spent Saturday evening (after an alumni party) with them and our good friend Patty.  The children had a rare evening of running around the hotel (yes, we were "those" parents), and playing in the arcade until late at night while the adults caught up on life.  It's truly the stuff memories are made of.

 (FYI, this photo was taken at midnight!)

We stayed at Brasstown Valley Resort and certainly enjoyed the amenities and scenery.

Georgia Trip (part 1)

Every time we go back "home" I am reminded of how much I love the south and our friends who live there!  We had such a wonderful time in Georgia and were so happy to get to visit with so many old friends and family too.  We got in late Wednesday afternoon and made our way up to North Atlanta to stay with Kathleen and family.  The children get along so well with Caroline and Will and they were thrilled to spend time with them (it also doesn't hurt that their backyard is like a kid heaven!).

 I was able to see some of my "Baby Club" friends.  As always, it was so nice to reconnect with them.  I love these guys.

(not a great picture but it's all I got!)

Thursday evening, more dear friends came over and we were able to visit and eat BBQ!  Perhaps the highlight was when the Moms played a mean game of foursquare!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Home Again

(a print of YHC, it's nestled in the valley)

Hello there!  We got in super late last night from a trip to Georgia!  We had the best time and were so happy to take the children to our alma mater, Young Harris College.  I feel that we've dived in head first today to school, appointments, laundry and "regular" life.  However, as soon as I get pictures downloaded I'll post pictures of our adventures.

P.S.  To those of you who commented or emailed about seeing the list of classics, I'll be happy to scan in and email you the list!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Favorite Things #32

Years and years ago, I saw a list of classic, quality pieces that were suggested for having a solid, timeless wardrobe for a lifetime.  As you may remember, I LOVE lists!  I also love well made, quality items so I determined that I would set out to slowly build a wardrobe consisting of some of these pieces.  Many of them were out of my price range, so I saved or asked for the items for Christmas/birthdays.  Sixteen years later, I've acquired a fair amount of the items (and determined some weren't really for me) and I can honestly say that each one are workhorses and will probably never go out of style.

One of the first items I received on my list were Hunter Wellies and I was thrilled when my Mom gave them to me for Christmas!  I have worn them for the past 15 years and they are still going strong!  During those years, Hunters definitely became a little more fashionable (when they added colors to the line) but, unfortunately, manufacturing was also moved to China.  I'll admit, I love that mine say, "Made in Scotland!"  I can never get rid of them now- but I wouldn't want to anyway!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Glow Stick Neon Sign

Bryce arrived home last night at 11:30 p.m.!  We are so glad to have him home and to celebrate his birthday.   Since he came home in the pitch dark, we thought it would be fun to have a neon birthday sign for him.  We used glow sticks* to spell out "Happy 40."  We would have written more, but we ran out of glow sticks!  We simply taped the glow sticks on a sheet of hardboard and propped it up in the driveway.  He couldn't miss it when he pulled in from the airport.

 The children loved helping to make this sign, and Grace coined it a DIY neon sign!  I loved that.

*Apparently, not all glow sticks are created equal.  The green ones (which were a different brand) were definitely brighter and lasted longer.  I got them all at the dollar store.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Succulents and a Failed Potting Attempt

I had the lofty idea that this was going to be a lovely and informative post about my new beautiful potted succulents.  However, this is most certainly not going to be that post.  By the end of my potting experience I wanted to never have anything to do with small containers, succulents or any of the materials associated with succulents!

I've been wanting to get a few more houseplants in the house.  I've been seeing so many pretty potted succulents and since I've read how easy and low maintenance they are, when I spotted some at West Elm I went ahead and purchased the materials and a few plants.  I believe that might have been my first mistake.  From now on I don't believe that I will buy live plants and materials at a home goods store from sales people who sound like they know what they are talking about but probably don't really.  And shame on me for not doing a bit more research on the matter!

When I got home I started potting everything right away and it went downhill fairly quickly.  I layered the rocks (perhaps sand would have been better?) on the bottom and then added the "soil" but the soil just sifted right through the  rocks and didn't look like pretty layers at all, but rather a jumbled mess of rock and soil (I also had soil on every surface in my kitchen!)!  Then when I went to get the succulents in the container all the leaves fell off the plants.  Literally, 16 leaves just fell right off. So that $11 plant was finished.  Also, by the time I got the other small plant planted it looked absolutely forlorn and pathetic and certainly not some lovely container to look at!  See what I mean?  Not attractive!

Finally, I threw a larger succulent in a glass bowl and called it a day.  I think it looks fairly pretty (not sure how Bryce is going to feel about me using his Simon Pierce bowl that was a gift from his old company, however) in the foyer and I'm just hoping that I can keep it alive!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bryce is 40!

Today is Bryce's 40th birthday!  We've now known each other for over half of our lives and that is pretty awesome because he is the best man I know.  We think he's just great and I feel so blessed that I found him so early in life.  I thought it would be fun to list 40 things he's done since I've know him (obviously a small sampling!).  He's...

1.  gutted and put rooms back together (plumbing, framing, drywall, electrical, you name it, he's done it).
2.  worked on a landscape crew.
3.  made dear friends that we will know and love for life.
4.  knitted a scarf (I was learning to knit and he said he'd do one with me, he's never picked up a knitting needle again)
5.  fathered two beautiful children and been an amazing father to them.
6.  been married for almost 17 years.
7.  moved his family to a totally new state.
8.  driven hundreds of miles in an RV.
9.  graduated with a degree in biochemistry and completed law school.
10. worked for the same company for 12 years, which was an amazing career experience.
11.  visited Paris.
12.  made lots of seemingly impossible things happen (I'm the idea person, he makes the magic happen).
13.  cultivated a deep love for coffee and bourbon.
14.  changed countless diapers, read countless children's books, and given countless baths.
15.  been complimented by another Mom on his extraordinary bun making skills (for ballet!).
16.  been a fantastic son and son-in-law.
17.  scraped and painted a barn.
18.  never wavered in his faith.
19.  attended an olympic tennis match and the Masters (he's there now!).
20.  hiked many, many miles.
21.  decorated many a birthday cake to perfection.
22.  had and discarded both an earring, a mullet (oh, yes) and glasses (thanks to lasik).
23.  grown in a (red) beard (I'm not a fan- too scratchy).
24.  maintained a weight of around 150 (I only put this in because I'm jealous and I pray that our children got his metabolism).
25.  been a part of a fraternity at our small college and been the honorary member of mine.
26.  skinny dipped with a bunch of ladies.
27.  perfected weekend pancakes.
28.  had lymes disease and shingles.
29.  skied blacks (and a whole lot of blues!) out west.
30.  made some wildly romantic gestures and also more subtle, sweet ones such as making me a cup of coffee every single morning.
31.  starting a company with three other like minded men.
32.  generous with all that he has.
33.  been roommates with the best of people.
34.  a lifetime Apple fan.
35.  a very serious driver.  He doesn't even talk much in the car because he's too busy concentrating on his driving.
36.  loved and appreciated good food for as long as I've known him.
37.  sung and traveled with the Glee club at UGA.
38.   played the saxophone and the piano.
39.  a cub scout leader
40.  worked hard at everything he does.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Picnic and Chicken Potpie Hand-pies

Last night, the children and I had an impromptu picnic by the river.  Bryce was gone for the night and I thought it would be fun to mix things up a bit.  It was short and sweet but it was a good reminder for me that not everything has to be planned, extravagant or "styled" to perfection.  We literally threw our dinner in a picnic basket and headed out!

It did help that I was making very portable Chicken Potpie Turnovers for dinner.  I first made these last fall and the children absolutely adore them.  I'm thinking that they will be perfect for those nights where we are eating early due to a baseball game or even when we are eating on the go.  Also, the children love getting them in their lunchbox!

The original recipe is here, but I've tweaked it a bit.  However, please know that I'm no chef and this is pretty loosey goosey- you might want to start with the original recipe!  I found that starting with a rotisserie chicken was a bit easier and didn't seem to change the taste at all.  I think this is one of those recipes that you can tweak to your personal preference.  Also, I had a bit of a hard time finding frozen empanada dough, but I finally found it in the ethnic section of a larger grocery store.  The recipe says that you get 8 turnovers but I always get 20!  Which is perfect because I freeze the ones that we don't eat!

Chicken Potpie Hand-pies

1 rotisserie chicken*, diced
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
3 sprigs thyme (I've also used a teaspoon dried thyme)
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped 
1 cup frozen green peas
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg white
frozen empanada dough disks, thawed (I get two packages of the Goya brand)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil.  Saute mushrooms until soft, usually about 4 minutes.  Add carrots and onion, and cook until carrots are soft, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add thyme along with peas, chicken and 1 cup of milk, bring to a simmer.

In a small dish, stir together cornstarch and 3 tablespoons cold water.  Add to skillet and stir until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In a small bowl make an egg wash by lightly beating egg white with 1 tablespoon milk.  

Divide chicken filling among empanada disks.  Fold over disk to create a turnover.  Crimp edges with a fork to seal and lightly brush tops with egg wash.  Bake until crusts are golden brown, 15-20 minutes.  

*I use almost all of the chicken but I usually save some to make chicken salad for lunch

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Have I Told You...

Dear Harris and Grace,

Have I told you lately that...

I'm so glad that you are mine.
I love that you are each other's very best playmates.
I'm proud of who you are becoming and how you are getting there.
All that mud in the mudroom (and sometimes the house) may drive me crazy, but I love the fact that you love being outside.  No amount of mud can diminish that.
Every time I think I can't love you anymore, I realize that I do every single day.
I love you.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Harris and a (computer) Game

one of Harris' eggs and yes, it is a character from MindCraft

We've had a bit of a problem around here with a video game called Mindcraft.  Have any of you heard of it?  Harris discovered it months ago and was addicted since the first time he played it.  I've had an uneasy relationship with it from the very beginning.  I know that addicted seems like a harsh word to use for an 8 year old, but I can't come up with a more appropriate word.  If he wasn't playing it, he was thinking about it and talking about it!  The children don't use media Monday-Thursday and are only allowed limited access on weekends*, but every weekend that rolled around the first thing he wanted to do was play this game!  Plus, and here's where it went south, Harris' behavior seemed to decline whenever he played the game.  He would be a bit more aggressive, listen a bit worse and be more likely to lose it in general.

Of course, in response to this the easiest answer is to take away his access to the game, right?  We did that for a few months, but we struggled with the idea that taking away the problem in total isn't teaching him how to deal with it.  So we allowed him to play again and hoped that a break was the answer.  It wasn't.  My final decision was made when I realized that he's simply not old enough to learn how to deal with it.  He should be learning how to deal with boredom instead.  We've finally pulled the plug (on Mindcraft) and I couldn't be happier with our decision.  It's a relief and I've already noticed a big difference.

*That's the intent at least.  However, we weren't always that great about keeping to the time limits.

P.S.  I found this post a little extra hard to publish.  I certainly don't want to be disrespectful to Harris but I also feel that this is an issue that I can't be the only one to bump up against.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Dining Room Chairs

I thought I'd share today what became of my dining room chairs after I spilled red wine all over them!  But first, let me share I came to have these lovelies!

I purchased these chairs on Ebay soon after we finished our kitchen renovation.  I was lucky in that the warehouse where the chairs were being stored was within an hour of our house.  My Mom and I somehow managed to squeeze all 6 chairs in my car!  The chairs had been recovered in a white cotton duck and I had intended to have them recovered as soon as we could afford to, especially considering that the children were very young and we sat in these chairs every single night for dinner.  However, I really liked the white and after spraying the chairs with ScotchGuard they held up remarkably well.  I never would have believed that we could have gotten away with white chairs for 6 years but we did.  Only in the last 6 months or so had I started thinking that it was about time to recover them since they were at last showing stains and such.

I briefly thought of recovering them with a patterned fabric, but the fact is that I love the simplicity of the white.  It looks classic to me.  The problem was that I really, really wanted to not worry about having white fabric.  If we, or a guest, spills red wine or spaghetti sauce on the chairs I really didn't want it to be a big deal.  The answer came in the form of faux leather (or pleather!).  It's buttery soft, looks great and is completely wipe down-able.  I had concerns about the use of faux leather (think legs sticking to the chairs) but they have so far been completely unfounded.  However, I did discover that not all of these fabrics are created equal.  The first roll that I ordered looked and felt like plastic and I was very fortunate that the fabric house exchanged it at no cost!

I was also thrilled that they were able to "tune-up" the chairs.  They tightened legs and fixed all the crazy springs in the chairs while they were at it.  I was also very happy to hear that they were very well made chairs (from Europe) and that they "don't make them like this anymore."

Friday, April 5, 2013

Star Wars and An Act of Kindness

Harris has been on Spring Break this week and it's been an unusual break for us since Grace still has school this week!  Bryce has taken this time to introduce Harris to the original Star Wars series, and Harris has loved it!  In fact, it has inspired lots and lots of creative play!

As a surprise for Harris, Grace made a deal with a fellow classmate to trade a few of her Lego mini-figures (from her beloved Hobbit set) for several of the Star Wars characters.  I was so proud of her for being so thoughtful and willing to give up part of her own Lego collection!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Egg Painting

I'm so glad that we went ahead and painted eggs this year.  I had a moment where I wavered, but it turned out that both children had already thought about what they wanted to paint on their eggs!  Unfortunately, I didn't get great pictures this year, but we still had our traditional carrot burgers and we even had a fun carrot centerpiece!  Also, I can't believe how good the children have gotten at painting on these egg, it's really difficult to paint on such a small and curved surface!

For dessert, I filled up new and washed terra cotta pots with chocolate pudding and chocolate shavings on the top.  Using a starburst that was slightly warmed we shaped little carrots and added carrot greens in a hole we poked in the top. They were oh so easy and turned out darling!  (I got the original idea for these cuties here)

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