Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Want to Win! (and Last Week's Menu)

I am a product junkie.

I am also a shoe junkie, clothes junkie, jewelry junkie.  Heck, if it has something to do with something I can put on myself, I am that kind of junkie.

Anyway, there is a giveaway over on Blue-Eyed Bride for this new eye shadow by BareMinerals.  I have used BareMinerals in the past and would love to win this new product of theirs to try out, too.  And you should join, too!  (Or not, then my chances of winning would be better!)

This eye shadow is called READY, and I think it looks great -- look at all of the color combos it comes in!

Oh, I hope I win!

In other news...my menu:

As usual, I just cooked a couple of things, but here they are:

Chicken Tortilla Soup: This is a great soup and great for fall.  It is also not too shabby as far as calories and fat and such.  And the taco chicken recipe that goes in the soup?  YUM!  I put more tomatoes and a little less chicken broth.  I would rather a more tomato-y and less broth-y soup.  I guess it is the tomato farmer in me.  It is not thick at all -- I just add one more can or so of tomatoes, so it is still a really broth based soup (I am not making any sense here...), but just more tomato-y.  Get it?  

This makes a lot, so invite over lots of friends, or plan on eating lots of leftovers!

Crock Pot Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili: I have to admit that I was hesitant to make this.  I mean, it has "pumpkin" in the title, and Brad does not like pumpkin.  But Margaret assured me that you couldn't taste the pumpkin, so I made it.  And she was right -- it was delicious, Brad loved it, and he never noticed the pumpkin (until I told him after he finished the chili and then he got mad at me and told me he was going to secretly feed me liver!).  I did use ground beef instead of turkey, though, because ground turkey is against my religion...or something like that.  Or, really, I just don't like it.  

I will definitely make this chili again -- although next time Brad probably won't eat it since I let him in on the whole pumpkin secret...

Anyway, have a great week!  And go check out the giveaway!

Monday, October 24, 2011


We went to Atlanta weekend before last so that Brad could attend the Produce Marketing Association conference and the kids and I could finally go to the Georgia Aquarium.  We stayed in the Westin downtown, and our room was on the 47th floor.  We had an awesome view of the city -- I know this is a terrible picture (I couldn't figure out how to take the picture and get the lights to show up correctly -- a photographer, I am not.), but this was our view at night:

We got to Atlanta on Friday in time to check into the hotel and change clothes for dinner.  We were all being taken out to dinner by someone who does business with Brad's family, and he was taking us to this really nice place -- Nicolai's Roof, on the 30th floor of the Hilton Atlanta.  Brad and I had done a little research on the place since we knew we were taking the kids, and we definitely knew that we were not dealing with a kids' restaurant.  This place had received Most Romantic and Best View rewards.  We were really nervous about taking the kids, and we gave them all a lecture about being on their best behavior, using their nicest table manners, etc -- and then we just kept our fingers crossed.  However, we had no reason to be worried.  The people were so nice.  They had nothing on the menu pleasing to kids, so they went to the other restaurant in the Hilton and got cheeseburgers and pizzas for the kids!  They made them Shirley Temples.  And our kids were as good as gold.  They got a little tired before we were finished with our meals, but they were great.  We could not have asked for better from the restaurant or the kids, and the people at Nicolai's surely didn't have to be as accommodating as they were.  Such a thing may never happen again, but I am so thankful for everyone's behavior that night!

Saturday morning the kids, my mother-in-law, and I met Brad's cousin's wife (are you with me on that?) and her kids in front of the Aquarium.  One of our fabulous sitters, Joni, attends the University of Georgia, so she also met us.  We had heard a lot of great things about the Aquarium and about the dolphin show -- which we had purchased tickets for in advance -- so the kids were super excited.  Add to that that they were getting to see their cousins and Joni, and you just about had a perfect day!

There were a lot of really cool things to see in the Aquarium, and apparently we got lucky that the octopus showed himself because usually he is hiding somewhere!

There is a room where one entire wall is glass from a tank that holds some of the biggest sea life you have ever seen -- huge manta rays, whale sharks, things that make us humans look teeny tiny.  I think we could have spent a lot longer in this room if we didn't have to make the dolphin show.

There is a tank where you can touch stingrays and some sort of shark -- I can't remember if they were hammerheads or sand sharks.  Honestly, I didn't get close enough.  The kids all touched a stingray, though, and thought it was the coolest thing ever.

A group shot of the kids before we left:

The kids had the best day.  They went from exhibit to exhibit just squealing with delight at each new form of sea life that they got to experience.  It was really fun to see everything through their eyes!

Saturday night Brad's cousin (a different one) came over to our hotel room to babysit the kids so that Brad and I could go to a cocktail party and dinner back at the Aquarium hosted by another company that does business with Brad's family.  The cocktail party was in this room that had huge, glass tanks on either side -- on one side we could see Belugas and on the other we saw all of the whale sharks, manta rays, etc.  I have to say that party was a bit boring for me.  Brad was in business mode, so I spent most of my time checking my Clemson app, texting my brother, and worrying over the Clemson/Maryland game since we were down by 18 points at one point in the game.  I hate to say it, but my eyes really start to glaze over when the talk goes toward watermelons for any length of time!  Thankfully it didn't last too long -- and thankfully Clemson ended up winning!  And, when we got home, the kids were all worn out and looked like this:

Sunday morning Louise and I took the kids to Imagine It!  The Children's Museum of Atlanta, and it was another great place for us to spend our day.  There were a ton of things for the kids to do there.  They played with these machines when we first got in the museum:

Then they moved on to the section where they had the "real life" sort of stuff -- the delivery truck, fork-lift, grocery store, tractor, living room, etc:

Right now they have this really cute fairy tale section, and the kids got to pretend to be in different fairy tales:

There was a stage, complete with costumes and dance shoes.  Sanders was very serious about her dancing, while Tyler and Gibson had a little more fun with it:

And then there was this stuff that was a mix between beach sand and clay -- semi-moldable but not completely.  The kids loved playing in this table, too.

I actually had more pictures to upload, but Blogger isn't cooperating, and I am tired of trying -- and by now you are probably tired of reading about this trip, anyway.  Suffice it to say that we had a great time at the museum!

That afternoon Brad got finished with the conference, and we went out to eat as a family at a very touristy location -- The Hard Rock Cafe.  It was close to our hotel and we figured it would be fine for the kids, but it was the first time I had ever eaten in one, and the food was not that fab.  But we made up for it by going to this all night diner afterward and getting each of the kids and Brad the biggest slice of cake you have ever seen in your life -- and of course, no one ate his or her whole slice, but that's the fun of vacation, I guess!

The next morning we were up bright and early and headed home...but I definitely think we will do Atlanta again, and next time I want to go when we can take in a baseball game and maybe the American Girl doll store!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some (Really Bad) House Photos

There is a lot going on in our house these days!  Our builder has another project waiting in the wings that he will lose if he doesn't finish our house in a timely fashion, so he finally has gotten a fire lit under him to get this house going.  I think Christmas in our new home just may be a possibility!

One of these days I am going to remember to take off my 50mm lens when I head out to the house to take pictures...but you can get the gist from these.  Here is what is happening these days...

The shiplap is going up on the fireplace wall and in the foyer: 

The trim is going up on all of the windows and doors:

The painters have at least one coat on almost the entire house.  I had a bit of a problem deciding on the master bedroom and bathroom, but I got that all figured out yesterday.  This is the dining room on the left (this picture does not do the color justice!) and kids' den on the right:

 Tile is in all of the bathrooms (except the master -- it has hardwoods -- yes, we are crazy) and the laundry room.  This is the girls' bathroom:

Just for kicks...another view of the living room looking down the hall from the kids' den:

It's getting exciting around here!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back from Atlanta and Menu

We are back from a great trip to Atlanta.  I have been trying for 3 days to put my pictures on the blog, but every time it gets stuck in the uploading phase.  I think Blogger is not liking the fact that I am uploading so many pictures at once, and I need to wait until I have time to do them in batches.

Anywho, we had a fun trip, but I will fill you in on most of that on the picture post.  I did get half a second to duck into Sephora while I was there to pick up some makeup I was running low on, and I complained to the nice gentleman who was helping me about the puffiness and dark circles under my eyes that just won't seem to go away these days.  He told me all about the products that he uses for such problems, and I scooped up some of them and came home with samples of others.

I have been using the Ole Henriksen eye gel for several days now, and it feels so good going on my eyes in the morning and evenings -- especially because I followed Kip's (Ken's?) advice and put it in the fridge.  I just got a sample of the Dior HydraLife, but I think I may break down and buy it as well.  It is an eye cream rather than a gel, and it feels good in addition to the Ole Henriksen -- I think as far as puffy, tired eyes are concerned, you can't get too much of a good thing.

Finally, this Hourglass concealer is great -- nice and thick and covers well.


As far as my menu for last week, I didn't cook too much -- we seem to always have leftovers, and I am determined that we are going to eat. them. all. -- but here is what I did cook:

Healthy Crock Pot Spaghetti: I have made this recipe twice, and it is sooooo good.  It is a lot like Million Dollar Spaghetti that Mary Loyal talks about in her menu last week (which is one of my all-time faves), but it is sort of like the healthy, lazy (wo)man's version.  Everyone in the family loves this meal!

*images via Sephora

Friday, October 14, 2011

Praise the Lord, It's Friday!

Who is ready for the weekend?!  I sure am!  They always seem to get here at just the right time...

:: Wednesday was supposed to be one of those really productive days where I stayed home and got tons of laundry, Bible study homework, grocery shopping, cleaning, and packing for this weekend done.  Of course, things never go as planned. 

Gibson woke up Wednesday morning with a nasty sounding cough and the hint of a fever, so he stayed home from school.  Then our washing machine started to smell funny, and after I let it rest for over an hour, it started leaking water and suds all over the porch.  So Brad had to come home and take the entire thing apart to find that there was a hole in the tub -- and this is the second washer/dryer that we have had mess up in the year that we have lived in this house. 

Needless to say my day wasn't as productive as I had hoped.

:: Gibson was finally feeling better today, so we went on his first field trip ever this morning.  We went to the pumpkin patch, and it was absolutely freezing!  I was not prepared for it to be cool this morning, and Gibson and I were both wearing short sleeves.  I was ready to go as soon as we got there, and Gibson played in this duck race water thing the entire time -- so now he'll probably have pneumonia.

:: We are on the way to Atlanta right now, so I am blogging as we drive down the road -- a first for me!  Brad has a produce convention this weekend, so the kids and I are tagging along to do some fun Atlanta stuff -- the aquarium, the zoo, etc.  I also hope to get in at least a little bit of shopping if I can okay it with (or sneak it by) Mr. Spreadsheet.

:: Clemson plays Maryland this weekend at Maryland.  This can be a tricky game for the Tigers, so we have our fingers crossed that we can stay undefeated.  I am so excited how well we have done this season, and I can't believe that we have only been to one game so far.  GO TIGERS!!! 

Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bible Studies

Last year I was dealing with our move and getting used to a new area, and I never got to join a Bible study.  I have to say I felt a bit lost after being used to being in some sort of Bible study for years.  I knew there was one going on around here, but I also knew it was too late to join -- it was a Beth Moore study, and the group was too far into the study for me to jump in.  I told some girls to keep me in mind when they started a new one.  Unfortunately, they started a new one during packing season, and I didn't get to do that one, either.

However, lucky for me, there is finally one I can do!  

It is A Woman's Heart: God's Dwelling Place, and it is another Beth Moore study.  I absolutely love Beth Moore Bible studies, and if you have never done one, I highly recommend them.  She is hilarious and fun and brings the Word in a way that makes you want to shout and cry and laugh all at the same time.  I am really enjoying it -- even the homework part, which is really saying something for my usual procrastinating self! (Oh, I hope my kids don't inherit that trait!)

I am also doing a small group book club/Bible study on this book:

The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ's Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children by Sally Clarkson.  So far we have only gotten the introduction done, but I am excited about this book if it is as good as I think it will be after reading the intro.  I don't know about you, but I could definitely use some step by step guidance in following Christ's example -- sometimes it is more likely that I exemplify the devil than Jesus in my parenting skills.  Not pretty, I tell you -- especially when it comes to homework!  Thank God for grace!

Anyway, I am really excited about adding these studies to my normal Bible reading.  It is nice to have some time to go study the Bible with others, and I really missed that last year and realized just how nice it is because I didn't have it.  I will keep you posted on how these go!

Menu Monday

(I started this post yesterday and never got around to finishing it...here it is...)

I am so tired this evening.  I haven't slept well in three nights, and it has been one of those rainy, yucky days.  I am ready to get in the bed...

But, I haven't done Menu Monday in a while, so I wanted to do it tonight.  Last week, my mother-in-law was out of town for a couple of nights, so Brad and I fed my father-in-law for most of the week.  I definitely got away from the normal semi-healthy cooking that we do around here -- my FIL is more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

Here is our menu:

Monday: leftovers -- I really can't even remember what leftovers.  That is a bad sign.

Tuesday: Marinated pork tenderloin, macaroni and cheese, roasted broccoli.

Wednesday: Crock Pot BBQ and Simple Slaw

Thursday: hamburgers from our local meat market

Friday: we went out to dinner

Saturday: Brad's cousins were in town, and his parents made this delicious (but not diet friendly!) meal of fried shrimp and fish, french fries, hush puppies, and coleslaw.  Mmmmm!!!

Sunday: leftovers


I know I also said that I was going to give you my tips for the Southern Living cake.  Some of these were passed on to me from my friend, Sharon, and some I read in the reviews on Southern Living's link to the recipe:

1. I halved the sugars -- both the white and brown.

2. Instead of using applesauce, I used plain Greek yogurt.

3. Instead of using canola oil, I used applesauce.

4. Some reviews said that the cake needed a little more apple flavor, so Sharon said that she added extra apple and a bit of apple cider.  She also said that that might have been a bit too much, so instead of adding extra apples, I just added a splash of apple cider (we got the cider when we got the apples in North Carolina, so I had some on hand).  I thought the cake had just enough apple flavor.

5. This isn't really a tip, but if you are a picker like me, you may want to make extra icing -- that stuff is delicious, and I found myself wanting to stick my finger in it over and over again!  (Don't worry -- I used a clean finger!)

I know it sounds weird that I substituted the yogurt for the applesauce and then the applesauce for the canola oil, but it worked -- my cake was really moist (I hate that word) and really delicious.  I served it at the luncheon before Brad's grandmother's funeral, and it disappeared quickly!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Happy Birthday to the man who makes me laugh...provides for our family...stands by my side...leads our family...loves the Lord...drives me crazy...keeps me sane...loves a good spreadsheet...is the best father...loves me when I'm unloveable (which, I can assure you, is not often, ahem)...is a wonderful husband.

I love you!

Happy 33rd!

Here's to 33 plus 33 more!  Let's hope we spend them all together.

**In other news, it is also Duke the Dang Dog's birthday -- or, at least, as close as we can guess.  Happy Birthday, Duke!

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