Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Big Book

Do you remember the big Sears and JCPenney catalogs that used to come in the mail? I loved those things! My grandmother always had them, and they were so versatile. I would spend hours planning my house, my wardrobe, my nursery, and when it was time to eat it became my brother's booster seat at the table. Seriously, I would look at them intensely, writing down what I would buy one day (twenty something years in the future). Funny thing, I don't know that I have bought anything for my house from Sears or JCPenney.

Today I got the updated version of those catalogs in the mail, the IKEA 2013 book.

I was just as excited to see it as I used to be for a new catalog at Granny's! Yes, I will sit down at some point and plan my house from it, probably a dream kitchen. I'll make a list of items to look for the next time I go to Atlanta. The biggest difference.......you will definitely find some of those goodies in my house in the near future!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Subway Art

My latest obsession!

Subway Art! I've wanted to try these for a while and finally did it. It was really fun. It did take some time and I have a few improvements to make, but I think the next one will be easier. I can think of so many possibilities for these!

 I used this tutorial to get started:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Saab Story

This week I had to say goodbye to the Saab. Yep, one of the last remaining pieces of my single days will no longer live in our driveway. It was the only car I have purchased completely on my own with no one else even having an opinion. It was also the only car I've ever gotten a speeding ticket in. It was a fun little drive, and a great reliable car. It brought me back to Alabama. It took us away from our wedding and to Atlanta to fly away for a honeymoon. It took us to the open house that eventually led to our buying a house in Hartselle. We soon outgrew it when Brennan came along and there wasn't enough room for an infant car seat, so it became Mike's commuter car to Birmingham. A few weeks ago it had a run in with another car in downtown Huntsville.We won't discuss who was at fault or any of those details, right sweet hubby.  The damage didn't look too bad, but it was an expensive fix so the insurance company totaled it. No doubt, this is another one of God's steps in the plan he has for us. We knew we were going to have to replace the Saab sooner rather than later, and weren't expecting it to be an easy sell. With Saab's becoming more and more rare, so are people who can work on them and people who want to take a chance on them. At first, it felt like just another day of not so great luck. In the end, I think it has worked just fine. We have an old truck that is our back-up vehicle.  Now we are just waiting for Mike's next job to come along, and then we'll look for an appropriate replacement. So long Saab!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Way Down South

We spent a fun weekend in south Georgia visiting family. When you are two, apparently every part of a trip is exciting.


Hitting the road

After dinner entertainment

(Glow in the dark bracelets)

We went to celebrate my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. My cousins hosted a very nice dinner.  We enjoyed being in Albany, where my aunt and uncle live, and the reception was beautiful. 

It was great to spend time with family. Two little cousins especially enjoyed getting to spend so much time together.

They also enjoyed meeting their younger cousin and were pretty attached to their older cousins. We all went to my aunt and uncle's house for breakfast Sunday morning, which turned into a lazy Sunday afternoon visiting. 

It was a great way to spend the weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Christmas In July Anyone?

Am I the only one with Christmas on the brain? Yeah, I thought so. I have no idea why, but I almost always start to think about Christmas around this time of year. I always imagine how amazing it would be to get all of my shopping done now, and make those cute projects I've pinned, and even plan what I will bake.My thought is if I do some of that now, we'll have more time to spend on the real meaning of Christmas.  No need to get jealous, it never happens that way. Not even the year I had a big incentive to get ready early, an 8 lb. 11 oz. incentive due at Christmas. I never know what I want to buy this early, and there's usually a lot of other things to do at this time of year besides make Christmas projects. The funny thing is by the time it is time to do these things the urge has passed and I don't really do all that much.

I thought I would share a toddler gift idea just in case there is someone else out there plotting their Christmas purchases. When Brennan turned 2 we got him a Strider balance bike.

I had seen them on the Today Show a couple of years ago and thought they were neat, and my friend Kacie had seen them in her neighborhood and thought they were pretty great for this age.  They are small and don't have pedals. The idea is that young children can learn to balance first, and then move to a regular bike without ever relying on training wheels. I was a little skeptical since he had only been mobile for about a year, and was still rather clumsy on his own two feet at times. He was actually asking for a bike so we went with it. Within a couple of weeks Brennan was riding pretty well, and now after seven months he zooms everywhere. They can be a little pricey, and I didn't have much luck finding a deal on this one, but it has been worth it. There are several brands out there. The Strider looked most like a big boy bike and had pretty good reviews. It seems to be good quality and has held up well. The only thing I wish it had is a kick stand. I would like for Brennan to start out taking care of his bikes, and it is a little hard when it can't easily be stood up. If you are in the market for a first bike, I would highly recommend a balance bike.

Brennan was more than happy to show his riding abilities:

(I'll have to work on my video skills. I think the Flip might work better. Hopefully you can get the idea!)

Target Time

I love when Target does their seasonal markdowns! After some practice, I've finally figured out a little more about when and where to find their deals. You've probably seen some suggestions on Pinterest about how and when they do markdowns. I haven't been able to tell that all those suggestions always apply, but some definitely do. My tricks are shopping the end caps of the inside aisles and knowing that seasonal markdowns  move quickly. They do seem to continue marking down seasonal items every couple of days, where regular items may go a whole week before being marked down again. I've also noticed that the percentage off on a sign may not actually reflect the markdown. For instance, someone had put a 30% off sign up yesterday where items where actually 70% off.

Digging is a way to de-stress for me, maybe not the best but I keep it in check. Well I won't bore you with the details, but if you know anything about our life lately you can probably guess that I've needed some de-stressing. Perfect timing since there are a lot of summer sales. I don't think I've even spent $10, and I haven't had any amazing finds yet, but I have picked up a few fun items that I know will come in handy.

I've liked these little baskets since they came out, and I got them 70% off. I think they would be good to hold baked goods or lotions and such for gifts. I could also use them to hold fresh fruit in the refrigerator or to hold little kitchen gadgets in cabinets.

I found these napkins for 70% off also. I had picked them up at 50% off but decided I still wasn't happy with that price. I'm glad I waited! Waiting doesn't usually work, but there were three of one print and two of the other. They are from the Privet House line that Target tried out this summer. I loved all of that collection! I have several ideas for these as well. I may mix them with other napkins for casual entertaining, or they may be used for a craft project (iPad cover, shopping bag, pillow). They could also add a little pop to a bucket filled with goodies for a gift. Any other ideas?  I've been on a Christmas kick the last week or so, so that's what I had in mind when I found them.

What about you? Any shopping tips? When do you start planning Christmas gifts?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lazy Summer Day

Today we've had a lazy day! The kind where toys are everywhere, and Brennan is still in his pj's at nap time.   I promised myself when I became a SAHM that we would get up and get dressed everyday. I pretty much stick to that promise, but every once in a while I need an exception.It was suppose to rain today you know, so the day would have been perfect. Oh well!  The one productive thing we have done today is try a new recipe. Brennan loves to help cook right now, especially treats....he's so my child. He came to me this morning and asked to make muffins. I gave him the maybe answer, which he has already learned means probably not. He said, "Muffins always make me feel better." Really, all two times he's had them they made him feel better! Ha Ha!  I just love him!

Well it's always good to feel even better I think, so we made "muffins". I had actually wanted to try making cupcakes with this easy, lower fat recipe:


You use a cake mix and a can of soda, that's it. I used a Funfetti cake mix and Sprite, both just what I had on hand. They turned out pretty good. They are really moist and  have a light taste to them. We didn't ice them, since they are technically muffins today. They are a nice little treat to throw together.  I would like to try chocolate cake mix and coke sometime. I think our "muffins" have about 120 calories each. Since they don't have eggs, Brennan also got to lick away at the beaters and bowl. I think his day went from good to great!

Our New Summer Favorite: The Shrimp Boil

We've found a new recipe favorite that is a crowd pleaser! It's really not new, just new to us. We are loving shrimp boils this summer! For some reason I always thought it would be complicated, but it is probably the easiest meal I've ever done for a group. We use the recipe from Old Bay seasonings website:

4 quarts water (16 cups)
1 can (12 ounces) beer (optional)
2 tablespoons salt
8 medium red potatoes, quartered
2 large onions, cut into wedges
2 pounds lean smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 ears fresh corn, shucked and halved crosswise
4 pounds unpeeled jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count)

Bring water, beer, OLD BAY Seasoning and salt to boil in 12-quart stockpot on high heat. Add potatoes and onions. Cook 8 minutes. Add smoked sausage. Cook 5 minutes. Add corn. Cook 7 minutes.

Stir in shrimp. Cook 4 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.

Drain cooking liquid. Pour contents of pot into large serving bowl or platter. Or, mound on paper-covered table. Sprinkle with additional OLD BAY Seasoning, if desired.

This recipe seems to have just the right amount of seasoning. We've done it with and without beer and couldn't tell much difference. I do usually add a bulb of garlic. The prep is fast, just cut up a few ingredients. The clean up is even faster. We use a plastic table cover with a few paper towels in the middle for the food. No utensils, no plates, no fancy paper goods, no problem. We dump the food in the middle of the table and dig in. I sit a couple of bottles of squeeze butter and cocktail sauce on the table, spread a french loaf cut into chunks throughout, and scatter some lemon wedges. We just pour the butter and sauce right on the table. There's always a big roll of paper towels available for sticky hands. Once we are done, everything pretty much goes in the trash. This recipe feeds at least 8. The general rule is a half pound of shrimp per person. If you have guests like these two who mostly ate corn, then the leftovers aren't too bad warmed up either.

A few tricks we've learned: the Kroger frozen shrimp (about $7.99 a lb.) is really good for this. You definitely want the shells on because that holds the flavor. I want the shrimp deveined already, and these are.  We do all the cooking and eating outside. The seasoning is very potent, so a fish cooker in the great outdoors keeps it bearable. Lots of good food also calls for lots of beverages! We enjoy good ole sweet tea, and have needed more than usual every time for this meal. If you like to save a buck, Aldi seems to have the best price on red potatoes.

Here's my shopping list in case you need to pull together a quick summer party: