Monday, June 30, 2008

Lazy Day

Today was just a lazy day...I did some laundry and we planned a few things we want to do in Washington. We are leaving Wednesday! This afternoon Ashley and I went to the pool for a few hours and both of us read like crazy. I must be the slowest reader on earth. Part of my problem is that I fall asleep so easily when I read! So I can only get through about 3 pages before I am out like a light! Meanwhile, Ashley just started a book today and she is practically halfway through it!

Tonight we went to a church softball game. Ashley's boyfriend, John, plays on the same team as alot of the guys in our Sunday School class. And tonight they played the other team from our church, so everyone there was someone we knew!

After the game, we headed to Salsa's for some Mexican food. We saw our friends Wes and Katie there. They love that place as much as we do because we see them there all the time! When we got home, Steve's parents came over and taught us how to play Mexican Train Dominoes. That was alot of fun!



Okay...so I wanted to share two quick recipes with you. They are two completely opposite recipes, but both good, I promise!

The first one is probably more for people who really like green vegetables. I know alot of people are not huge fans of brussels sprouts. You might think of them as bitter, mushy little cabbage balls that you were forced to eat as a kid.


But, being the vegetable lover that I am, I thought this recipe sounded yummy, so I tried it. And it was really good! My girls liked it, too--we tried it for lunch one day. It's from the Katie Lee Joel cookbook.

Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts

1 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. chopped scallions, cut on the diagonal
1/2 t. peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
2/3 c. vegetable or low-sodium chicken stock
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. pepper

Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a wok or large skillet. Add the scallions, ginger, and almonds, and stir-fry until almonds begin to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the stock and cook uncovered for about 6 minutes, or until the sprouts are tender and almost all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.


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And then....Andes Mint Cookies! I got these from one of my favorite blog friends, Heather. They are literally "melt-in-your-mouth!" I got a craving for them the other night and made a whole big batch. They are probably the easiest cookies on earth to make, too!



Andes Mint Cookies (from heaven)

1 pkg. Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 pkg. Andes mints
2 eggs
1/2 C. oil

Mix cake mix, eggs, and oil together. Batter will be thick. Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes. After cookies are removed from the oven, place one Andes mint on each cookie, allowing it to melt. Swirl lightly with a knife and let cool before storing in an air tight container.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What I Love About Sundays

In summer it seems that the weekdays just kind of flow into the weekends and everything runs together since EVERY day is like a weekend! I have to admit that during the school year, unfortunately, I am not a huge fan of Sundays. I really hate that, but the reality is that Sundays are always stressful to me because they are the last day of my weekend and I have so much to do to get ready for the next week. But during the summer I really love Sundays. I have lots of happy memories of Sundays growing up. I was thinking about all those things today and thought I would share a few.

Here are some of the things I love about Sundays:

*Singing hymns!


In the service I go to, we sing lots of contemporary songs, so when we DO sing a hymn, it moves something in my heart. There are many times at home when I just sit down at the piano and get out my old Baptist Hymnal and play one hymn after another. I think the lyrics have such profound theology and they always take me back in my heart and mind. I think, "This was my Dad's favorite song", or "I remember singing this at Two Rivers Baptist in Nashville", etc. I love that I'm joining my heart and my voice with other believers that have sung these songs for hundreds of years!

I have many, many hymns that I love. Some of my favorites are Blessed Assurance, In The Garden, Victory In Jesus, Fairest Lord Jesus, It Is Well With My Soul, He Keeps Me Singing, This Is My Father's World, How Great Thou Art, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross, The Lily of the Valley, and My Jesus I Love Thee!

*Sunday lunch!


I remember walking into the house after church on Sunday welcomed by the smell of a Sunday pot roast! Or at my grandmother's house, we always had homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes, snapped beans, corn on the cob, sliced homegrown tomatoes, and green onions on a little side dish! There is nothing better than sitting down at the table with your family with a big Sunday spread!

Speaking of Sunday dinner, there is a wonderful book I have called A Return to Sunday Dinner by Russell Cronkhite.


This book is full of gorgeous pictures, family memories, and delicious recipes just like the ones I remember.

*Dressing in your Sunday best!


Do you remember when you would get all dressed up to go to church? Everything is so casual now. Lots of people even come to church in jeans (and really I'm okay with that! I know God doesn't care about your outward appearance, but your heart!) But when I was growing up, I remember my parents telling me that when you come to God's house, you bring Him your best! You would dress in your best to meet the President or the Queen of England, right? So why wouldn't you wear your best to meet God? So we always wore dresses, patent leather shoes, even gloves! I remember my mother putting Dippety-Do on my hair on Saturday nights and putting it in rollers so I would look cute for church the next day! I still like to dress up on Sundays!

*Sunday naps!


Mmmmmm....there is no better sleeping than a nap in front of a Sunday afternoon football game or out on the porch on a lazy summer afternoon! Something about Sunday just begs for a nap!

*Sunday nights at church!

When I was little we had Training Union on Sunday nights. It was like Sunday School, but more casual. And church on Sunday nights was always fun. We sang lots of great songs and at the end of the service we would link arms across the aisles and sing, "There's A Sweet, Sweet Spirit In This Place." Then after church we'd have a watermelon bust or homemade ice cream on the grounds,


or we would go to Shoney's with a big group of people. When I was a teenager, we would go play putt-putt or go bowling or over to a friend's house. Sunday nights were the BEST!

Sundays are so different now than they were back in the day. Every store and restaurant in town stays open just like any other day of the week, you can still buy alcohol, and life just goes right on. But I am thankful that God set aside this day to be different and worshipful. Even with the stress of the week pressing in on me, Sundays always help me get perspective and begin my week putting my focus where it needs to be! That's what I love about Sundays!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Orientation


Today was Mark's freshman orientation at USC! He drove down yesterday with Ashley and took a Spanish placement test (which I am proud to say he placed out of Spanish 1!) Ashley is such a great sister.



She took him to a cool bookstore near campus and they got all kinds of Gamecocks stuff for his car.



Then she took him out to dinner with some of her friends and their little sisters who are also going to be freshman this year. You know he loved that! :)



This morning Steve and I got up really early and drove down to meet them for a whole day of parent and student meetings. Mark got all registered for his classes, took a tour around campus, found out which dorm he's in and got his student ID, etc.


It's always kind of awkward when you are meeting in small groups with a bunch of complete strangers and you are totally in a new environment. But by the end of the day, he was already exchanging phone numbers with new friends and laughing and talking.

He said that when he went into one of the meetings, they had a slide show going of all the fun pictures of football games and things to do around campus, etc.


They were playing James Taylor's "Carolina In My Mind". He said right then and there he KNEW he had made the right decision and that this was definitely the place for him!

I was so happy for him today. He is soooo pumped about getting to college and being on his own and making new friends and going to football games and learning new things. I just hope Steve and I can handle it well and not be too sad when he's gone. :( That is just the selfish part of me, but I will be happy if he's happy!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Two Questions


1-Have you ever been on a make believe vacation? I saw this little summertime adventure today on Mommy Holly's blog. It looked like a lot of fun! You might want to check it out! If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?


2-Do you like to read? If you are doing lots of summer reading and are always looking for a new book, you might be interested in this!



It's a website where you can swap paperback books with other readers. It's quick and easy. I know a few people who use it and they really like it!

I just wanted to share these with you today!

PS-I borrowed the picture at the top from Mommy Holly's blog! :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Before and After

I would consider myself a pretty determined person. If I get something on my mind that I want to do, I usually find a way to do it! Getting Ashley's bathroom finished was a project that has been on my mind for a long time and I reeeaaallllly wanted to get it finished today. So I got up this morning, started painting...and it's done! Yayyy!

I will tell you that I have painted alot of rooms and painting this bathroom was the messiest and hardest paint job I've ever done! So many little nooks and crannies and so much to tape up and paint around, etc. But everyone was gone today. Laura, Lindy, and Ashley all had babysitting jobs, and Mark was at his second home-the Y! So I got my computer and turned on my playlist on my blog (haha) and just had fun singing and painting! I can get so much more done when I'm by myself. I love it! And I was happy with how everything turned out. Here are the before and after pictures.

Here's before:




And here's after:






In between coats of paint I also watched the Today Show wedding with that precious couple that won. They were so sweet!



I fertilized my flowers with some Miracle Grow. These are some of the flowers on my porch.



I got to read some of my assigned summer reading, Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult. She is a really good writer and my girls have read all her books and love them, but that book is dark to me. I'm not really crazy about reading about Columbine type school shootings. No....not for me!

This afternoon I took a break and ate some lemon squares that Ashley made. Try the Krusteaz kind if you like lemon squares!! Yummy!

And I was so excited when I went to the mailbox and had two new Netflix movies. I love getting fun stuff in the mail! One of them is Amazing Grace. I am looking forward to seeing that. I've heard it's really good.

Tonight we met Steve's family for dinner then we stopped by their house so I could look at the project Steve and his brother, Mike, have been helping his parents with. He has been helping them build a wall around the natural area around their deck. It looked really good. They have such a beautiful deck. We always enjoy relaxing over there!




And I wanted to share a new recipe I tried yesterday out of my Katie Lee Joel cookbook that I got for my birthday.



Grilled Chipotle Three-Cheese Sandwich

One 7 oz. can chipolte peppers in adobo sauce (I like La Costena brand)
1/4 c. olive oil
12 slices Monterrey Jack cheese
12 slices Swiss cheese
12 slices Cheddar cheese
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced crosswise
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
12 slices sourdough bread (thickly sliced if possible)
12 tablespoons butter, softened

Place the chipotle peppers and their sauce in a food processor or a blender and puree until smooth. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

Preheat a large heavy skillet to medium heat.

Spread each slice of bread with chipotle puree (1/2-1 tablespoon depending on how spicy you like it).
Layer half the bread slices with two slices of each cheese and a few slices of the tomatoes and onions. Top with the remaining bread slices, chipotle side down. Spread top and bottom of each sandwich with butter.

Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side. Slice sandwiches in half and eat immediately.


I made this for lunch yesterday and it was good. It was definitely different than a regular grilled cheese sandwich with just a fun, interesting twist. I love to cook and now I've got the time to try some new recipes, so I hope you don't mind me sharing them with you!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Projects

So today I have been busy with lots of projects! I think I told you that Lindy wanted to re-do her room so we have been looking for throw pillows and ordering her comforter and sheets, etc. Next we will be matching paint.

And this morning Ashley and I went to Target, Linens and Things, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond looking for some new stuff for her bathroom which is also our guest bath. We are all totally over her teenage-y blue and yellow daisy theme she has had going on in there. Time for an update!!

We spent forever looking at different combinations of towels and shower curtains, etc. and couldn't decide on what we liked, so we ended up leaving with nothing. But then I went back with Laura and Lindy later in the day and we tried some different combinations and finally decided on what we wanted. I even got paint and have been painting all afternoon. I will show you some before and after pictures soon!

We also stopped by Pier One and got these pillows for my porch.




During our shopping spree we had to stop and get some ice cream to share. Here we are at Ben and Jerry's eating a scoop of Half Baked--a mix of chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate brownie. Laura and Lindy picked it out.






Even Steve has been working on a project over at his parents house today! I guess we're all just feeling really productive!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Balance

I've been thinking alot about balance today. There are so many areas in my life where I have to work to strike a balance. Probably the one that is at the forefront of my mind is my constant juggling of teaching and being a mom. Over the past few days I have been able to do SO MUCH!! I have literally done probably 15-20 loads of laundry over the past two or three days. That includes washing sheets, blankets, and bath mats.

I have reorganized the refridgerator, vacuumed the house, sent movies back to Netflix that have been sitting around for weeks, comparison shopped both at Walmart and my neighborhood grocery store-Harris Teeter (that way I got the best deals and the most for my money!), and had time for personal Bible study, etc, etc, etc... Plus I have had time to read and catch up with a few friends that I never get to talk to.


I began to think yesterday about how much work it is just to be a mom and keep all the balls in the air doing that job and still have time for meaningful things like spending quality time with Steve, reading my Bible and prayer, and excercise. It made me feel guilty that I haven't been able to do as good a job as I would have liked in all the areas that are important to me. I started wondering if maybe I was spreading myself too thin...should I keep teaching school?

So I had all this tumbling around in my brain as I was getting ready for bed last night. Then I switched on my computer and checked my e-mail. I had received two e-mails from moms of kids that were in my class this year. The e-mails were so sweet. They went on and on about what a great year their child had in my class and how much I meant to them, etc. Well, of course that melted my heart right away and any of those doubts I had about teaching disappeared. I started thinking about how sweet my class was and how much fun I have teaching and what a great team I have to work with, etc. I love being a teacher and I love being a mom and I want to be excellent at both things!! It really is work trying to strike a balance there.


Ok--an update on the salad I told you I was going to try yesterday. I made it tonight and it was a huge hit! Everyone really liked it. I grilled some chicken to go with it and that was it. Just FYI-the recipe makes a HUGE amount!!!! You need a reaaaaalllllyyy big bowl to mix it up in and then invite the neighbors to share it with you! Plus, be careful when you are cutting up the jalepenos. I got two burns on my fingers that are still burning as I type! I have been putting aloe on them all night!

And just a few FUN things today...

This afternoon, my girls and Ashley's boyfriend, John went swimming. While they were there, a thunderstorm came up so they came back home and made some cookies and cracked out this game:


If you are looking for a fun and challenging game you should try it! It's stretches my brain, but if you play with other fun or creative people, you will get a good laugh out of it!

I am also really getting into this show lately...have you ever seen it?



I love Jeopardy and this show is similar, but it has regular people on it. The cab driver picks up random people who need a ride somewhere. Once they get in the car, they realize they are on this game show. He asks them various trivia questions for money and they see how much they can win before they arrive at their destination. It's fun!

And, I know this show is all reruns now, but I LOVE King Of Queens!! I was watching it today and I think Kevin James is just so funny. That show always makes me laugh out loud!


Have a good night!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Just A Few Things...

Just a few things to share today:

1-I saw these today and thought they were so cute!



If you have little girls, you might enjoy checking out the Button Boutique online! I know my girls would have loved having these for their hair when they were little!

2-I LOVE the Pioneer Woman and I love salad in the summer. So....when I saw this recipe on her blog, I thought I would share the link here. It seems like it would have kind of a Thai flavor to it that I like so much. I am definitely trying this one soon!



3-I was totally impressed with Luke Russert, the son of Tim Russert, this week.



What a polished, poised, and well-spoken young man he is. I saw him interviewed on the Today show and thought to myself how proud his parents must be of him at the respect and honor he brings to his dad. This is the interview I saw:

4-You probably already know, but if not.....go visit THIS blog to see some wonderful, exciting news!!! So much happy news in the blog world lately! Laurie (who is Kelly's BFF) just had a little girl last week. I went to her blog today and she had a slide show with the sweetest song by Scott Krippayne called "You Have Been Good". I loved it so much, I added it to my playlist. I feel so blessed in my own life and thankful for God's goodness in the lives of so many others. Happiness!!!

5-And one last thing...I LOVE SUMMER! I'm probably going to drive everyone crazy saying that so much! haha Tonight we grilled some steaks then sat on the porch as a rain storm moved in. We had candles burning all around and Michael Buble on the stereo! Yep, that's a fun summer Saturday night!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Back Home


We are all home from all our travels now safe and sound. We had such a fun trip. Yesterday Steve had to work so all us girls just hung out at the hotel all day. We woke up and got Starbucks for breakfast and ate outside. Then we put our bathing suits on and literally did not leave the beach and pool all day.


We rented some chairs at the beach and rotated between there and going up to the pool. We did lots of reading and watching all the hoola hoop and "big splash" contests going on. This little girl was the youngest hoola hooper. I don't think she was more than about 4 or 5 years old and she was GOOD!


We ate lunch at the poolside bar. I came in around 4:00, but the girls didn't come back until 6:00 or so. We ate a late dinner then came back to the hotel and just watched TV. It was very low key. We thought about playing putt-putt, but everyone was exhausted from a whole day playing in the sun. Here we are at dinner...we just ate at a little steak place.


We got to hang out at the pool this morning for a little while before we had to leave at noon. It was such a fun and relaxing trip.

Mark made it home safe and sound tonight. I have been so worried about him, but he is much better now and is so tan! He had fun, but I think he's glad to be home, too. I love that boy! I am proud of how he handles himself even on a senior graduation trip.

I feel like a mama hen with all her little chicks back in the nest. :)

I was thinking as I was lying in the sun yesterday about making sure we all had enough sunscreen on. I have had a few cases of pre-cancerous skin cells removed, so I am always really on guard about not over doing it in the sun. But what was so ironic was that last night I was going down my blog roll checking in on everyone and I came to Carrie's blog.



I don't really know her, but I feel like I do because she was one of the first blogs I ever read. I got to know who she was because she is a very talented scrapbooker and I love to scrapbook. Anyway...I digress.

Recently she lost a really close friend, Julie, to skin cancer. (You can read part of Julie's story here. Believe me, it will give you chills!) Julie was a young mom who left behind a wonderful husband and three precious children. So yesterday, Carrie was offering some great advice about skin cancer and protection. You should check out her blog if you have a minute (the June 17th post.) It will really make you think!!

PS-My blog has all of a sudden gotten these wierd spacing issues. Sometimes it does double spacing and sometimes single spacing?? Does anyone know how to change the spacing or make it one way or the other?? Help!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Myrtle Beach

I love living in North Carolina because you have such easy access to the beach and the mountains! We left this morning around 8:30, took Rocky to "Best Friends" where he stays while we are gone and then we were off to the beach!

On the way, we stopped in Florence, SC at this place called Redbone Alley for some shrimp and grits!




We got to the beach around 2:00. We are staying at the Hilton in Myrtle Beach. It has lots of pools and our room overlooks the ocean.



We all put our swim suits on and headed straight down to the beach right away! I don't think I've ever been here when the weather has been this nice. For some reason there is NO humidity today which is very weird...usually the beach air is so thick you could cut it with a knife! While we were lying on the beach, of course we had to order some pina coladas!



The hotel is really fun. They have a poolside DJ who plays lots of fun music all afternoon and there is a restaurant and bar right there. Plus they have activities directors who were playing games with the kids. Laura and Lindy ran into two of their really good friends, Mary and Madeline, so they got to hang out with them all afternoon!



Tonight we went to Barefoot Landing which is a open air mall type place with lots of restaurants and shops, etc. We ate dinner and got some ice cream and listened to some people singing karaoke.


While we were eating dinner, I got a text message from Mark. I think I mentioned he is in the Dominican Republic with a bunch of his friends on a graduation trip. He said the resort was "STUNNING" and "the girls were taking mad pics"(in his exact words--I was fussing at him for not taking his camera!), but he and several others have gotten sick I guess from the water or something there. He is still having fun, but I'm sure not as great as he would like. Now I'm worried about him. Please pray for him to feel better tomorrow!

Time for bed. We are all tired. Being out in the sun all day saps your energy! Have a great night!