Fabulous Friday

I love bags and totes and carryalls and even diaper bags. The more useful the better. I have tons of the "new" green grocery bags; most are freebies from a variety of companies.  I try very hard to keep them in the car so I can reduce the number of plastic bags in circulation. Every bit counts and so on. Here's a cute ABC tote from abc kitchen. Found after seeing a different (also cute) tote on Eat Drink Chic so I went to check out the website. Of course, if I'm ordering one might as well get the numbers tote too.

I also like to admire designer bags from afar ... usually far, far away in the pages of magazines. I have one Coach bag (third traditional anniversary is leather! Score!) and a thrifted Michael Michael Kors which is a little beat up but I think adds to the charm. I'm about 97 percent sure it's not a fake.

There in a nutshell shows how I'm at odds with myself fairly often. I'm all reduce, reuse, recycle but have an eye for the pricy ... That makes this the most awesome bag for me!

Random thoughts

Psst ... it's really Friday but we'll just act like it's still Random Thoughts Thursday ...

Today the sunset was pretty like Barbie, according to Will.

And he said we were painting the house because we didn't want it to be boring.

We did not paint the house today but we did paint the back hallway where the washer and dryer are located. We is myself, my mom and cousin Kathleen. We did a great job. Only took five years to mark off the to-do list. Now, getting paint on the walls (two coats!!!) with two little guys running around was pretty miraculous. Mom is a little disappointed that we did not get to the trim but I promised I would do it by the end of the year.

It's amazing what a little bit of paint can do to change a room. Heck, just washing the walls down before painting made the room look nicer. Other small changes around the house that are having a big impact include a new ceiling fan in the living room and new hallway light fixtures. They don't match but they do create a harmonious look that the previous owners weren't concerned about in their decorating habits.

I know over the course of the day I thought of several other bits of randomness to share but the paint fumes have driven them right out of my head. Think it's time to fill your home with paint fumes too? Martha will have you inspired.


YUM! Praline-Apple Bread

Recently I promised you a bad picture but good recipe for apple cake ...

I'll work on the photography skills but don't let it stop you from making this bread. LisainVA posted this wonderful recipe in 2005 on the Southern Living community board. Thank you Lisa! It's wonderful. Since she posted on an open forum, I don't think she'll mind me sharing this yummy recipe with you. It is similar to the Southern Living recipe here. And they've got better photos too (HA). FYI, this bread is delicious with or without the praline topping. I left the topping off for play group and the kids and adults both ate it up. 

Praline-Apple Bread 

2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup sugar 
1 8 oz. carton sour cream 
2 eggs 
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1 1/4 cups chopped, peeled apples 
1 cup chopped pecans 
1/4 cup butter 
1/4 cup packed brown sugar 

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Grease the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Set aside. In a bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 

In a large mixing bowl beat together sugar, sour cream, eggs and vanilla with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add flour mixture to sour cream mixture, beating on low speed until combined. Stir in apples and 1/2 cup of the pecans. Spread batter in the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with the remaining pecans; press lightly into batter. 

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. If necessary, cover bread loosely with foil the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan. 

Meanwhile in a small saucepan combine the butter and brown sugar; cook and stir until mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 1 minute. Drizzle brown sugar mixture over top of bread; cool. 

Yield: 1 loaf


Fabulous Friday

Today is fabulous because I just survived play group at my house! You know some people can easily entertain and are so relaxed ... I'm not one of those folks. I'm stressing about how the house looks and usually cleaning/baking at the last minute. But not this time! I got all the cleaning done last night (maybe I did stay up a bit late to do it) so I just had to put a few things up this morning (or is it just me that dumps a bunch of stuff on the master bed?) and wait.

To be honest having all the kids running all over the place stresses me out. I'm usually doing head counts and cringing as they dump every single toy on the floor. But having Joseph has mellowed me a bit ... sure the toys got dumped everywhere but I had already put up what I didn't want played with so no biggie.

Play group can be fun. Everyone brings snacks and the moms try to hold a conversation. The kids are getting older so there's not as much fighting over toys as there used to be. We headed outside for half the time to blow bubbles and run all over the backyard.

And here's the most fabulous part. Chris' parents are visiting Sunday and the house is already clean. I'll just have to maintain it the rest of today and tomorrow. And tomorrow, since I'm not doing the "big" cleaning like floors, I'll have time to do some nitpicky cleaning like wiping out the microwave and dusting the dining room lights. Stuff no one notices but me and the MIL. Fabulous indeed.


Random thoughts

Welcome to Random Thoughts Thursday. Good Lord, another week almost gone ...

I have a new favorite song. "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I'm a big fan of commercial music. So I wanted to know who was behind the music in the new Ford Fiesta commercial (push button to start). And that song is "Janglin," but then I was listening to more of their stuff and fell in love with "Home." I love the refrain ... "Ahh home. Let me come home/Home is wherever I'm with you" ... Love it! Love it! Love it! Had a known about the group before yesterday, I would have caught their show in Memphis earlier this month. But they'll be swinging back through the South this fall. So this is what I'll be cranking later when I wash the floors.

Was introduced to a wonderful idea on Everyday I Write the Book ... Find your four things and live your life. Basically, if you're really good at a few things, folks won't notice the stuff that's not so perfect, like my floors. So what can be my four things ... Chocolate chip pancakes? That's what my boys think are my speciality. Apple cake? It's yummy and I'll share a bad picture and good recipe soon. Definitely being the best darn room mom the teacher has ever seen. So far I've been room mom every year but one. And that's only because I thought I should not hog the fun. I missed being room mom that year and found out that other moms are perfectly find with me hogging the fun. So that's three ... will have to think of a fourth. The whole post "A few more obvious tips for not-very-good homemakers" is fun, read it here.

Ugh! Time to wash the floors now. Then clean the porch. I'm hosting play group in the morning. I'll admit it rather stresses me out but these folks are friends so the house doesn't have to be Pottery Barn. But then the in-laws are coming Sunday so the house needs to be even cleaner! Somedays, wouldn't it be nice to live in one of those catalogs that come in the mail?


Where did I park my Viper?

We've got lots of Hot Wheels. No really, lots and lots of Hot Wheels. (NO, REALLY! My husband collects them so we've got boxes and boxes of Hot Wheels in the house and shed.)

Will's own collection has already outgrown two cases. The solution? A shoe organizer. Now Hot Wheels does make its own over-the-door storage solution but this plain one can hold triple the cars (and is cheaper so I won't mind replacing as needed*). It's very easy for Will and Joseph to see which car is parked where. And easy for the boys to help park the cars at the end of the day. Win-win.

*Will has learned that the bottom pockets will not hold his weight. He gets a chair now instead.


Better late than never?

These pictures are about a month old but still I wanted to share because doesn't he look cute?! Hospital gown on baby equals NOM NOM NOM. Nothing serious ... After multiple ear infections, we decided tubes would be better than more antibiotics that weren't working. Joseph behaved very well before and after. A real trooper.


When you look at it that way

Will: "We can paint our next house camouflage?" 

Me: "I don't think the neighbors would like that." 

Will: "Yes, they would. They won't see it."


Fabulous Friday

Look! Up there at the top! Isn't it fabulous?! Thanks to my wonderful hubby for creating a new header for my little space of the internet. And yes, I've got a new name too. I think it will more accurately reflex what I want to do here. Which is really just write about anything I want ... family, home, what I made for dinner last night. I'll try to make it interesting and keep it updated.

So welcome to my nest. Opinions expressed are my own and yes, I'm rather opinionated. If you see something you like, please comment. And no stealing posts or photos. That's just not nice. But I'll share if you ask sweetly. Thanks for visiting.

Random thoughts

It's Random Thoughts Thursday ...

How about orange just turned me on to a new site to follow, Draw!Pilgrim. I love me some free printables. All this month, she is offering a pinwheeled-theme birthday package ... invitations, cupcake toppers, the works. Now I just have to wait for Joseph's birthday to roll around. Though I might have to make him some pinwheels just for fun. It's cute watching him trying to blow them. It's also cute when he mimics big brother blowing on his food. We're very much in the "monkey see, monkey do" stage!

My how times have changed. I was interviewed via Facebook this week. Someone sent me some questions based on the fact that I liked a page. The Standard Deluxe page to be exact. They are a screen printing shop based in the small town of Waverly, Ala. I like their stuff. Will even has some of their artwork hanging over his bed. So here's the article. I'm the last quote. 

This week is has been full of experimentation when it comes to Will. He's been unusually super tired (for months it seems) and then added the fun of waking up at an ungodly hour in the morning. Growth spurt? Something medical? So I've talked to the pediatrician. I've talked to my mommy friends. Doctor suggested really watching what Will eats and how he acts afterwards, give it another month and then we could start testing for things. Mommy friends consensus was he needs more sleep. So starting Tuesday, it was back to forcing Will to take an afternoon nap. It's been taken about 20-30 minutes of "stay on the couch and don't move" but eventually, he stops fidgeting, stops talking and falls into a really deep sleep. And he's been easier to deal with (as easy as the average 4 year old can be). Making it up as we go along, hopefully this mystery will work itself out. 

Reading the Twilight series ... again. Loved seeing "Eclipse" on the big screen. I know it's not Austen or Shakespeare but it is entertaining. July "Lucky" and August "Parenting Early Years" just arrived in the mail. My new favorite summer show after "Doctor Who" and "Psych" is "The Good Guys" airing on Fox. Fun characters.


24 hours, give or take

6:00 a.m. Will wakes up, can't find remote and wants a drink.
6:42 a.m. Kept falling back to sleep with Will acting as my personal snooze button. Finally drag myself out of bed, get requested drink and turn on cartoons.
6:45 a.m. Check e-mail and Facebook. Drink some caffeine. Eat cookies made yesterday. Hey, they have oatmeal in them.
6:59 a.m. Start load in washing machine.
7:45 a.m. Joseph wakes up. 
8:20 a.m. Make scrambled eggs for breakfast.
8:25 a.m. Clean scrambled eggs Joseph didn't want off floor. Work hard to get Will to eat more than just two bites. 
8:45 a.m. Make lunch for Will, get him dressed.
8:55 a.m. Drop Will and Barbie off at school. Gab with other moms.
9:40 a.m. Check e-mail. 
10:10 a.m. Make bed.
10:25 a.m. Soak my "vintage" Barbie clothes in Woolite. After being in storage for years, they have a little mildew.
10:30 a.m. Since Joseph is already down for his morning nap, I can't go to my weekly knitting circle. Instead, I watch "The View" and knit. 
11:00 a.m. Joseph up from nap.
11:15 a.m. Got first real kisses from Joseph. Had to share in my Facebook status. 
11:30 a.m. Start dryer.
11:32 a.m. Feed Joseph and I lunch.
11:45 a.m. Saw rain clouds and did a happy dance for the yard. Succeeded in scaring them away.
12:15 p.m. Run errands, including voting in run-off elections.
12:55 p.m. Pick up Will from school. 
1:05 p.m. Tell Will for the fourth time that the Barbie clothes are still soaking.
1:15 p.m. Check e-mail.
1:30 p.m. Everyone down for a nap including me.
3:30 p.m. Up from nap. Help Will play games on computer.
4:15 p.m. Joseph up from nap. 
4:43 p.m. Start dinner, wash dishes.
4:58 p.m. Get Joseph out of the cat water bowl, twice.
5:12 p.m. Realize I'm missing ingredients for planned Poppyseed Chicken, scramble to come up with something else.
5:30 p.m. Feed Joseph because he's tired of waiting.
5:45 p.m. Check e-mail.
6:10 p.m. Dinner.
6:25 p.m. Threaten to throw away Barbie clothes if Will asks one more time when they will be ready for play. 
6:30 p.m. Outside to play with neighbors. Took Mustang for a spin around the block.
7:21 p.m. Joseph's bath time.
7:30 p.m. Next-door neighbors' AC on fritz, they come over to share our cool air. Adult beverages enjoyed while kids play.
7:40 p.m. Will's shower time.
8:10 p.m. Story and warm milk for Joseph and then down for the night.
8:30 p.m. Neighbors leave. Realize bikes and wagon left down in street. Bring them up the stairs. 
8:45 p.m. Help Will brush teeth and read two books before bed.
9:00 p.m. Put Will to bed. 
9:02 p.m. Remind Chris to take out recycling. 
9:07 p.m. Check to-do list. Pleased to see a lot to mark off.
9:08 p.m. Put library books in van to return.
9:27 p.m. Fold laundry on bed. 
10:04 p.m. Sit down in front of TV, check election results. Ugh!
10:07 p.m. Open computer to write this post while watching a recorded "The Good Guys." Can't type and watch so knit instead.
11:15 p.m. Write this post.
11:55 p.m. Put down the computer. Start another load of laundry, including Barbie clothes.
12:05 p.m. Get ready for bed.


Happy Homemaker

I found this little gem at our newest neighborhood thrift store. 
"What will I be from A to Z" by Donald L. Gelb was published in 1965 
by the National Dairy Council. Maybe a promotional buy 2 milks get a book type deal? You can also be a Kennel owner, X-ray man or Rocket builder. But don't think the dairy council is left out of the mix. D is for doctor but F is for farmer ... a dairy farmer. There's also the Ice cream maker and Milkman.

Enjoy your Monday! I'm off to have fun pleasing everyone and make a time machine because that's the only way I'll find time to do much more!


Random thoughts

Welcome to Random Thoughts Thursday ...

Two new favorite quotes ...

"You say potatoes. I say vodka."
— Karen Walker on "Will & Grace," played by Megan Mullally

"I think when you become a parent you go from being a star in the movie of your own life to the supporting player in the movie of someone else's."
— "The Late, Late Show" host Craig Ferguson in his book, "American on Purpose."

I like this one because I've been thinking a lot lately about how Will might remember his childhood. He's at that age where he really could start remembering things. My earliest memories are from a trip we took when I was age 4 which included a stop at the World's Fair in Knoxville. How his childhood is shaping up compared to mine is worth another posting as is the question, what kind of mother would I like to be? I've been on the job four years now and I still ponder that daily. The first quote, now that's just funny.

On the to-watch list is the movie "Burn After Reading" and ABC summer hit "Wipeout." Have you seen this show? Contestants compete in water obstacle courses and end up covered in mud or foam or both. Will loved it last summer and waited forever for it to be back on this summer. While I don't like all the silly banter, it is kind of fun to watch folks well, wipeout. A side note, Chris and I watched a few minutes of the game show "Downfall" that comes on after "Wipeout" and we were not impressed. It looked very staged. I'll stick to the water fun.

(This post would be longer except Will has been standing by me the entire time asking if I am done and when he can play computer games. And it's driving me $*W^&%3 crazy. This post took about 6 hours to write because of the constant interruptions plus the fact that someone is refusing to nap ... I'm throwing in the towel.)


Y'all come back now

So I'm sitting our favorite bar last night (doesn't that just sound like I get to go out all the time?! I wish. It is too rare these days!) waiting for the opening acts to move out of the way for the Heartless Bastards to take the stage. Now, I do a fair amount of people watching and if you are talking close to me, I'm listening. And my ears tend to perk up when I hear certain words. One of those words is Mississippi. I can hear that from across the room.

Now, I'm not from there but I spent a good bit of my formable years there (No, not growing up. The real formable years of college and life just post-college when you try to figure out who you are and do a lot of stumbling.) Mississippi has a special place in my heart, stumbling and all. And the hubby is from there so we're still connected.

So ... back to sitting at the bar. I hear the couple next to me talking to the bartender about Oxford. And Jackson. Of course, I butt in. Turns out these folks are from Philadelphia and are on a driving tour of the South. They are wondering how they should get to Memphis from Birmingham ... if they should go a more direct route with a stop in Oxford or head west to Jackson and then up. My suggestion was to head to Jackson but then get off the interstate and wander through the Mississippi Delta to find the birthplace of the blues before heading into Memphis, home of the blues and birthplace of rock n' roll. They already had plans to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute before leaving town and Graceland when they got to Memphis.

I gave them plenty of suggestions on where to eat, places to go. I gave them my
e-mail address with the hope that they will write and share what they thought of their trip. And I gave them my phone number, in case they get lost.

If the worst thing they think after the trip is "dang, them Southern folks are a little bit too friendly," well then me and the other folks they meet along the way have done our job. Feel free to visit us anytime. I'll be glad to give you directions.


Random thoughts

Once again, it's Random Thoughts Thursday. Woo-Hoo.

My mom is slated to be here for a visit any minute. We're looking forward to going to the zoo (yea! water fountains!), the pool (more water!) and maybe our beautiful Botanical Gardens (yes, even there Will can find water in the form of sprinklers). We'll sew pillows for the porch and have folks over to sit on them the 4th. And we always go for Mexican food because it's something my stepdad is not crazy about so mom eats it with us.

Yesterday I got out the popsicle mold for Will and I to play with. I found the mold on sale at Restoration Hardware years before we had kids but I knew it would come in handy one day. Nothing fancy, made grape Kool-aid and poured it in. Though I do want to play with some fancy recipes. And booze! I will definitely be making margarita pops soon. I'm also impressed with SouleMama Amanda and her feel-better pops.

We also made sweet rolls. Okay, I made rolls while the kids tried their best to interrupt my every move. I love the way yeast smells as it rises and then as the bread bakes in the oven ... just heavenly. It's an old family recipe and I haven't quite mastered it yet but the results were still yummy. Will ate two this morning for breakfast. I won't admit how many I ate. It's one recipe that I will not mind practicing again and again. Also on the to-do-one-day-who-knows-when list is to make Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls.

Here's what I found this week ... I love these pumpkins. Would be great to send to Will's classmates in the fall. And this might be our Christmas card. Though I've already sketched up an idea for us to make. What? Too soon to be thinking about Christmas? Why it is only 176 days away!