Friday, July 30, 2010

Amelie's

When summer begins, I usually have a mental "to-do" list about a mile long of things I really want to try or accomplish in the 10 weeks I have off. These things could include anything from books I want to read to projects I want to get done to recipes I want to try. And always on my list somewhere are new restaurants I want to visit! This summer was no exception. Although I didn't really have any specific places in mind, I knew that I wanted to discover at least a few of great restaurants/diners/cafes that Charlotte has to offer.

So when Laura told me about a little French bakery here called Amelie's Bakery, I knew we had to try it!

Let me back up for a minute. Several years ago our whole family went to Europe for a little over two weeks and it was one of the most interesting and memorable trips I have ever been on. We visited London, Prague, Rome, Vienna, Interlaken, and several other European cities. But my very faaaaavorite was Paris!! Oh my goodness, I fell in love with that city!


Paris is just beautiful with its romantic architecture and gorgeous cathedrals. I loved the history of it and the fact that it was a big city, but had a peacefulness to it. So many streets we walked down seemed to be tree-lined and serene.


There are lots of bicycles and parks and people outside reading or talking wherever you go.

I loved the flowers...


and the art and the shopping...


and the museums and the city all lit up at night. But one of the things I especially loved were the outdoor cafes that seemed to be on every corner...


and the patisseries that were impossible to pass by without being drawn into! We stopped by one of these every morning we were there.


Croissants, tarts, cookies, baguettes....Oh, they were all so delicious. And I'm not even a bread and sweets person!

So...today we wanted to relive the yumminess that we remembered from our trip and Amelie's Bakery did not disappoint! When Pioneer Woman was here back in May for a book signing, she even wrote about how good it was here.

She said, "Oh my ever loving gosh. These are the yummiest pastries I’ve ever had. Someone brought me a box at my signing in Charlotte Friday night and it changed the course of my life." hahaha!

Amelie's looked very Parisian when we walked in. It was so cute and decorated with a very French vibe. Sometimes, though, a place can be cute, but the food doesn't measure up. That was not the case today! There was so much to choose from, it was so hard to decide. So we ended up getting pretty much a pastry sampler and trying lots of different things! We tried the chocolate pastry, the strawberry and cream cheese pastry, coconut macaroons, carmel salted brownies, chocolate cream puffs, a spinach and asiago tart, and a few other things I can't remember. Plus we tried their hot chocolate and their latte with a carmel spoon! Yes, we might have gone a little overboard. Haha!

We all gave it an A+. We would definitely go back and we agreed it was a really fun place to eat.








I also wanted to mention that a few weeks ago, we discovered a little restaurant that has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (on the Food Network) called Dish. It is not very big, but it was delicious! It serves homemade dishes like chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, and salmon patties. We all enjoyed it and I have added it to my list of good places to eat in Charlotte!

I have one more place I would like to try before the summer is over. It's called Cabo Fish Taco and I think it was also featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. But anywhere serving fish tacos is right up my alley!

This part of my mental "to-do" list has been really fun. I wish everything was this easy to check off!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lunch With Lana

Today was just another reason why I love blogging so much. Ashley and I have been blogging friends for a while now with Lana. I forgot when I first read her blog, but the minute I read it, I knew we had a lot in common. She was a teacher (check), she lived in South Carolina...right next door practically! (check), and she was from Tennessee, where I grew up (check). I have loved reading all about her life...her wedding, her life as a newlywed, and just recently she had a precious baby boy, Easton!


About a year ago, I told Ashley that she would love getting to know Lana, too. And that is just what happened! They are the exact same age and both are teachers. Plus they both just got married recently!


So...when Lana had her baby, Ashley and I were dying to meet him and to meet Lana in person. A few plans were made and it was decided that we would meet today in Columbia at Copper River Grill.

Columbia is not far from us at all and Ashley went to school there, so she loves taking any opportunity she can to go back and visit.

When we got to the restaurant, Lana was waiting for us. She looked so pretty, just like I knew she would. And she is so down to earth and easy to talk to. We had the best time visiting together. What is so funny about blogging is that you may have never met this person in real life, but you feel like you have! Conversation is so easy and natural and there is so much to talk about. We just chatted away for almost 2 hours! Easton was a little angel the whole time. He didn't make a peep! I was impressed. :)


Lana was so sweet. She gave Ashley and me both gift bags full of teaching supplies and a yummy smelling candle, too. I was just looking for a new candle and this one smells amazing!

Blogging has been such a great experience for me in so many ways. But the best part about it has been all the sweet friends I have made! I am so thankful that I have gotten to meet so many of them in real life!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Monday

Happy Monday! Our weekend was really nice and pretty low key which is the way I like it. I hope yours was good, too. Just a few random thoughts today...

*It is hot as blue blazes here. Not only is it hot, but the humidity is about 1000% and it is just not fun to be outside right now AT ALL. I tried to go out and sit on my porch for a few minutes last night and I just couldn't do it. I love summer, but I'm hoping it will cool off at least a little before too long.

*Steve is now a Big Brother. He has been assigned a Little Brother through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization here. Saturday night we took him out to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants and we had the best time. He is so cute and funny. Steve took him out last week to hang out and this week he asked if he could meet me. Haha! So I was happy to get to meet him!


*I have been reading this book...


I am about half way through it right now and I am really enjoying it. It is challenging me and I like that!

“Sometimes people will commend a book by saying, ‘You won’t want to put it down.’ I can’t say that about this book. You’ll want to put it down, many times. If you’re like me, as you read David Platt’s Radical, you’ll find yourself uncomfortably targeted by the Holy Spirit. You’ll see just how acclimated you are to the American dream. But you’ll find here another Way, one you know to be true, because you’ve heard it before in the words of the Lord Jesus, perhaps most forcefully in the simple call ‘Follow me.’”
—Russell D. Moore, dean, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


The author of this book, David Platt, grew up in my dad's church in Atlanta...Briarlake Baptist. It is exciting to see what God is doing in his life!

*When I woke up on Saturday morning, I had broken out in about 8-10 of these bumps all over my back and stomach!


What on earth? They itch like crazy, but I don't have them anywhere else. Steve has one on his back, too. They are different than mosquito bites. We haven't gotten any more and they haven't spread. I have no clue what they are, but they are driving me crazy. I have been using calamine lotion and hydracortisone to help stop the itch. ????

*I made a Roasted Corn and Tomato Tart today that I found on Meredith's blog. She had seen it here if you would like the recipe. It was really good. I used some of the corn and tomatoes I had gotten at the Farmer's Market this past weekend.

*Laura is my creative writer child and my guitar player. She cracked out her guitar this afternoon...a sound I haven't heard for a while, so I had to take her picture.


Then Ashley came down and got on the piano. It's fun listening to them play together!

*Ashley and I are going to meet a blogger friend on Wednesday. I will tell you more about that soon. We are really excited!

Hope your week is off to a good start!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Lovin'

I was thinking today about a few things I really love, so I thought I'd make a little list. It's just a few simple things. Nothing big.

I love...

*Coke.


I wish I didn't love it as much as I do, but there is seriously nothing better than an ice cold, really fizzy coke right out of the refrigerator! Mmmm!

*These popsicles....


I have just recently found these and they are sooo good. They are so summery and I don't think they have very many calories, either. It has been extremely hot here lately, so these are the perfect treat to cool off with!

*Twitter.


I love blogging more, but Twitter is such a great way to keep up with everyone throughout the day. I like checking in on all my Twitter friends and asking questions or laughing about something funny, etc. It makes the world seem smaller. You always have someone to talk to. Some people I'm sure think it's over the top or too much technology in your life, but I love it.

*Shopping online.



It is about 1000 degrees here so it's a chore to go outside to do anything. This week I have had a lot of fun shopping online! I have been looking for a maxi dress and a new bathing suit and some cute tops and there are some really good sales going on right now. I have found some pretty good deals!

*Having lunch with friends.

I went to lunch today with two of my good friends that I haven't seen much of this summer and it was fun to sit and catch up! I have the best friends!

*Magazines
.


I realized while I was at Target yesterday that I am attracted to books, CDs, movies, and magazines. I have a weakness for them. My cart always seems to make it's way to that section of the store and it is hard for me to go into a store with magazines and not buy one! My favorites are People and Real Simple, but I read anything from Newsweek to Southern Living, too! And I even hate throwing them away. I always think I might need a recipe or idea from one of them!

*Getting my hair done.

Today is salon day! I wish I didn't need to get my hair colored so often, but I do. So I just make the best of it and take some good books and relax while I get my hair washed and my head massaged. I am always happy when I leave there!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Attitude Adjustment

Steve and I just got back this afternoon from taking a little overnight trip. His parents are at the lake this week with some of his aunts and uncles and we actually kind of crashed their vacation! haha Steve just wanted to see his relatives while they were so close by (since they live in Mississippi!) It was a nice get away, even though it was really short. We did a little hiking and visited some beautiful waterfalls in Tallulah Falls, Georgia. But it is SOOOO hot here. It's hard to stay outside very long because the humidity is so high it's just miserable.

Here we are in front of one of the waterfalls. I obviously didn't know we were going hiking and I didn't wear the right kind of clothes or shoes!


We hiked up a trail to an overlook and this was the view from there! We were HIGH up!




Our house is pretty quiet this week since Ashley and Laura are at the beach with my brother and his family. And tomorrow Lindy is leaving to go up to New Jersey and New York with her boyfriend's family for a wedding. So I guess Mark will be all by himself with us for a few days.

He is lifeguarding this summer and today he came home so tired and sunburned. I hate for him to be out in this heat. It can make you so exhausted. I kind of fussed at him a little bit for not sitting under an umbrella!


All summer I have been praying these ten weeks off would be very restful for me and that when school started back, I would feel energized and excited about starting something new. At the beginning of the summer, I wasn't sure if that was going to happen. But now I am only about a month away from going back and I can tell my mind is starting to get in gear again. I got a text today from the grade level chair at my new school inviting our team over for a potluck dinner at her house so we could start thinking and planning together. When I saw that, I really got excited about meeting some new people and getting new ideas and motivation!

I have been very blessed this summer. I have gotten to go to some really fun places, get lots of sleep and rest, excercise, and eat healthier. (This is what I made for a snack today with some fresh basil I bought!)


I've also gotten to read a few good books, get some projects done, and spend time with friends and family. All these things have helped me get an attitude adjustment and get back in the right frame of mind, so I'm thankful for this time of year!!

I still have one more realllly fun trip coming up before school starts back, but I will tell you more about that later!! I hope you are staying cool and enjoying summer, too!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

That's What I Like About You

I love having all my kids home. I always wanted a big family ever since I was very little. So I am very blessed. But there are a few things about having a big family that can be challenging! First of all, I feel like my kitchen has a revolving door on it. I go to the grocery store, then cook, then clean up, then it feels like it's time to cook again, then the dishes are dirty again, etc! And the laundry never stops. Plus our driveway is the shortest one on our street and we have the most cars. It really looks like a used car lot. So every time we go somewhere we have to play car shuffle. Not to mention the shoes that are lying around everywhere and the general clutter.

But despite all these things, having my kids home definitely has its blessings, too. Each one of them has fun things they are doing or that they tell me about and I love that about them! I am thinking of some things they have shared with me recently....

Mark is really into a game called Sporcle. Have you ever played it? You enter a category like "American Presidents" and you have a certain amount of time to list all the presidents you can think of before the timer goes off. He is a wiz at it--especially in geography! The other night we played it together and he was amazing! We were laughing and shouting trying to beat the time. But he did it! You should try it some time. It's fun!

Laura showed me this website the other day that I love. It's called 1,000 Awesome Things. It is based on this book....


and it is so much fun to read. If you want to get in a positive frame of mind, this will help!

Lindy
(and Laura) are both my Food Network rising stars. Haha! They love to cook and try new things in the kitchen. And I love that because lots of times they come up with some really yummy stuff. This week Lindy pulled out one of our old favorite summer desserts....Fruit Pizza!


Oh my goodness...if you've never had this before (but I think EVERYONE has, right??) you need to make it asap! It is the best dessert ever.

And, I've got some happy news! Ashley has started her own blog called The Rest Is Still Unwritten. She has been wanting to start blogging for a while and Laura finally helped her get it going this week. It is private for now, but if you e-mail her at ashleyscott511@yahoo.com, she will send you an invite! I am excited because I know she is going to love it!

It is so funny how during the summer all the days blur together. I just realized it is Saturday. We are going shopping today for granite countertops. We are trying to comparison shop and decide between quartz and granite and colors, etc. If you have granite or quartz, I would love to hear what you like/don't like about it!! Have a great weekend!

PS-Can I ask you to pray for something with me this week? My brother, Blake, is in Kenya on a mission trip for a couple of weeks. It has been kind of crazy over in Africa recently, so I am praying for his safety and the work they will be doing there. Plus, I know his family misses him, too. If you would keep all of them in your prayers, I would appreciate it so much! Thank you, blog friends! :)

Balance

Good morning! Hasn't this week gone by fast?? I am trying to hold on to and enjoy every minute of summer. I think I am at the half way point right about now. I have been out of school for a month and I have about a month left to go. That's a scary thought! haha

In the summer, I have a dilemna. On the one hand, I love to sleep in. I never get to do it during the school year, so summer is my time to enjoy that. On the other hand, I don't like waking up at 9:00 and half my morning is gone. So...I just play it by ear each day. Today was a "get up early" day so I could go walking and drink my coffee out on my porch.


Not too long ago I finally joined the rest of the world and got an iTouch and I am IN LOVE with it. I downloaded my favorite music on it and I take with me when I go out walking. But unfortunately today it was out of battery so I took along my phone and just listened to Pandora radio. If you haven't discovered Pandora yet, you should go try it out!

Anyway...while I was walking I was thinking about how much time it takes each morning to workout, have a Bible study/devotional time, and get caught up on the latest news. I know you need to workout for about 45 minutes each day and Bible study and prayer time should be at least 30 minutes (I think) to really focus and do something more than "scratch the surface". Then if you read the paper or watch the news, maybe that is 30 minutes more? Wow...no wonder it's so hard to do all that during the school year! I would have to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to get it all done! Alot of times I try to do these things in the evenings after work, but then I am tired and it's time to cook dinner, run errands, do laundry, etc. How do you fit in all the things that you want to do in a day?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Girl Talk

This summer I think I have watched more TV than I did this whole school year put together! And since I haven't gotten to watch much TV up until now, I have been curious about all the shows that I hear people talking about. And I have to say that after watching some of these shows (the latest one I watched was Real Housewives Of New Jersey last night for about 10 minutes), I am just really sad about what is out there these days...especially for girls.


I am going to get up on my soap box here for a little bit, so I hope I'm not offending anyone, but this is just how I feel about it. I have 3 girls. Two of them are in college and one is in her early twenties. I know that girls this age are really into fashion and shopping and relationships and hair and nails and all those things. I get it. My girls are into all of those things too. But they are also girls who are trying to balance all of that with honoring God and doing the right things and using their talents and giving back. And so many things on TV these days (and in movies and magazines) are making it soooo much harder for them to do that. To me, they are just overwhelmed with the wrong message at every turn.


The main themes I am seeing in these shows (that are mostly marketed for teenage girls and young women) are materialism, self-absorption, revenge, bratiness, lack of self-control, and overt sexuality. It seems like the girls and women in these shows are obsessed with shopping and spending and big houses and fashion and broken relationships. If these girls work, it seems like they work in the fashion industry or for a magazine up in New York. Really? How common is that? But to watch, you would think everyone does it and that it is THE coolest job you could have. These shows are touted as "reality shows", but I don't think their reality is the same as most people's reality. I have little girls in my second grade class that truly believe they are going to grow up to be a rock star or a Hollywood actress or a model because they see these careers on TV and think they are common and attainable. Maybe they will become one of these things one day, but chances are they won't.


I told Ashley and Laura this week that I wish there were a show on TV called "Smart Girls"! These would be the girls that are intelligent and bright and use their creativity and energy to make the world a better place. These would be the girls that work in politics and medicine and education and science. These would be the girls who are confident and friendly and spend their time encouraging others and praying for others instead of tearing each other down. These would be the girls who are knowledgable about world events and are well-read. These would be the girls whose idea of giving back includes actually getting dirt under your fingernails and doing more than just standing around in a fancy dress with a glass of wine in your hand at a charity event or fashion show(although that is important, too, in its own way!) These girls would know that you can still look cute and have a good time without becoming a self-absorbed mean girl! And they would set good examples for the girls out there in America who are forming their ideas and interests.


I know that these shows are just for entertainment and I admit I get sucked into them sometimes too. But the whole time I'm watching, there is something inside of me that is screaming, "This is ridiculous!!" You can't find a good husband by kissing 25 different men on the same night! And even though that shopping spree and those glamorous clothes look so great, believe me, you will be bored with them in no time! And none of the grown women I know host fancy parties that end up in cat fighting and pulling each other's hair out!

I'm not sure what the answer is other than to run as fast as you can away from the TV! haha But it's just something that weighs on my heart for my own girls and all the other girls out there that are trying to figure out who they are. We need some good role models and I just wish they were easier to find!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.-Phil. 4:8

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Back Home

We have spent the past two days trying to catch up from being on a trip. Catching up on sleep, laundry, grocery shopping...all those things that are on the to-do list when you've been gone!

I am so glad we went to the Northeast when we did because I heard on the news yesterday that it was 101 degrees in Boston! Oh my word. I can't begin to imagine walking around in that heat. I know that would have been miserable!

My family was so happy to have a homecooked meal last night. As good as the food was on vacation, it still gets a little old eating bagels and sandwiches and the only green vegetable you eat for days is salad. So last night I made a pork tenderloin, rice, squash, and green beans. Then for dessert I made some really yummy peaches with angel food cake. Peaches are so good this time of year, aren't they? Steve's brother is up here from Florida doing some work in the mountains and yesterday he stopped at a little stand on his way back and got all these peaches and plums! Don't they look good?


This is the dessert I made. It's so easy...kind of like a trifle, but not as fancy.

Peaches and Angel Food Cake

Tear or cut angel food cake into squares and place in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch dish.
Layer with sliced fresh peaches.
Mix together 1 large container of light Cool Whip and 1/2 can of condensed milk. Pour Cool Whip mixture over peaches. Refrigerate.


I have been trying to read this summer, but I really want to focus more on that over the next month or so because I never get to read once school starts. Last night I picked up a little book I must have bought or someone gave me a long time ago that I just layed on my bedside table and never really opened. It is Just When I Thought I'd Dropped My Last Egg by Kathie Lee Gifford.


I know alot of people don't like her for whatever reason, but I have always liked her ever since she was on Regis and Kathie Lee! Anyway...the book is just short little essays and such a quick read. I read the whole thing in one night. And it was so funny (with a little bit of "saltiness" I will warn you). But it will make you laugh!

Speaking of laughing, Steve had a friend send him this video the other day and we laughed so hard. If you have kids, you need to watch it. They hit the nail on the head with this one!!

Dad Life from Church on the Move on Vimeo.



We have some fun things planned for this week...

1-We are hoping to see Toy Story 3 this week. Have you seen it? I have heard so much about it. I know I will cry, but I heard it was such a good movie. I am looking forward to it!


2-Thursday night I am taking dinner to a couple in our Sunday School class who just had a little girl. I am hoping to get together for lunch with another friend from our class, too.

3-I know this is sad, but I just now got Ashley's wedding pictures back, so now I need to put them into a wedding album. I found a really pretty black leather album that I like, so that is a project I will be working on.

4-Steve and I are going to see Michael Buble on Saturday night. If you've been reading my blog very long, you know how much I love him, so I can't wait!


Today it's off to the pool with Ashley, Laura, and my two nieces. We are trying to stay cool here. Hope you are too!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy July 4th!

This was our last day in Boston and it was a great day to be here because July 4th is a really big deal in this city!


I am very patriotic and July 4th is probably one of my favorite holidays. I love the fireworks and patriotic songs. I even get a little teary eyed whenever I hear them just thinking about how blessed I am to live in this country and how brave and courageous our founding fathers were. I am so thankful that God has had His hand on us since our country began and I pray we will continue to be worthy of all His blessings.

Anyway...history abounds here in Boston. Everywhere you turn there is something new to learn about or see! We spent all morning walking the Freedom Trail.


"The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail that leads you to 16 nationally significant historic sites, every one an authentic American treasure. The Freedom Trail is a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond."

We visited a cemetery where Paul Revere and John Hancock were buried. We also visited Paul Revere's home which was really interesting.


Of course, there are statues of famous Americans like Benjamin Franklin everywhere. He was born here in Boston.


Laura and Mark had fun dressing up in patriot clothes!


And there were other people dressed up like patriots who were giving tours...


Here are some pictures along the Freedom Trail. I think Boston has such quaint streets!




Poor Steve and Mark had to wait for us outside of a lot of stores! They aren't into shopping like the girls are.


Tonight we went to hear the Boston Pops and to the biggest fireworks show in the whole country. The fireworks are set off of a barge on the Charles River and there were 800,000 people there! I really didn't know what to expect, but this show far exceeded my expectations! It was truly amazing!

Here we are on the way over there...


We passed a cute little lemonade stand on the way...


and the restaurant modeled after Cheers (which used to be one of our favorite shows back in high school and college!)


These pictures don't really do it justice, but we all absolutely LOVED the fireworks show! It was the best one I have ever seen in my life!




Our Fourth of July was really fun. But now it's off to bed. We have a 15 hour drive tomorrow!