Thursday, July 7, 2011


Every fourth of July my husbands family rents a condo at the beach for all of us. It used to be Destin, but since we moved to NC, Destin is about a twelve hour drive for us so the trip has been moved to Myrtle Beach. Last year I sat under the tent watching the ocean, feeling extremely self conscious of my (not actually very visible) baby belly, and daydreaming about the baby that would be just old enough to sit up and play in the sand the next time we were there. This year that baby WAS just old enough to sit up and play in the sand, and she completely changed the dynamic of the trip. It was different, and wonderful. And she loved it. Pictures tomorrow!

I was worried about her being uncomfortable with sand all over her- and I read in Real Simple (my favorite magazine of all time, maybe second to Martha) that baby powder makes sand fall off your skin. But pouring and rubbing just wasn't working. So, M and I came up with the idea to make a fabric pouch to fill with powder. Turns out, someone else did too, because there is an entire website devoted to powder pouches. But I made my own, and they worked perfectly!!

Just a rectangular piece of fabric, a piece of Velcro, a little stitching, and POOF! Super great washable, reusable, sand removing powder pouch!
I liked it so much I made one for my mother in law!

I was able to let the baby play in the sand and water, dry her off, and put her in clean clothes (without sand stuck everywhere) all without leaving the beach. Otherwise I would have had to keep her on the blanket until just before we were ready to leave so that she wouldn't have to be all sandy. In case you don't know, sand on a baby anywhere very quickly leads to sand in eyes and lots of crying. But it works great for everyone else too. Keep it in a ziploc bag and leave it in your beach bag until you need it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fresh from the Garden

Well, not my garden, because the last time Hubs and I tried to make a garden I killed every single thing. I don't know how, because I watered and fertilized and everything else I thought would make for a wonderful abundance of fresh veggies, but it was an epic failure. The tomatoes looked like knarly heirlooms (they were BetterBoy- a variety my Nana swears by) and were completely hard and inedible. I had no idea both the broccoli and lettuce were ready for harvest, so I let them get way overgrown, and thus inedible. Cabbage Loopers ate my brussel sprouts and beans. And that was that. Waste of a lot of time an effort and I got nothing.

BUT, yesterday I stopped by a friends house and was gifted with a bag of zucchini, sweet banana peppers, and green tomatoes. Her garden is magnificent. So big and healthy that you have to move giant branches around and hunt for the huge produce. I was amazed, and confused and jealous too. I gave my plants tons of space and tons of support in a fancy raised bed and got terrible results. Her garden is pretty natural- in the ground and growing all over itself and the ground, and absolutely thriving! Now I know.

Anyway, between her amazing veggies and the sandwich loaves I got from the super awesome Sunbeam Outlet (which you can read about here if you missed out), our dinner tonight was almost free! And miiiighty delish!

We had Zucchini Parmesan Subs.  Might not sound so great, but it was. Even my vegetable-hating, meat loving hubs liked them. Sorry the picture quality is absolutely terrible! It was taken to send to my friend as a thank you- but then I ate mine and realized it was wonderful enough to blog about!

So- recipe..sort of. I made it up as I went so it will be lacking in precise measurements. But it's the sort of thing that is up to your tastes anyway.

Cut three zucchini in nice sized strips and toss in a hot skillet with a little oil. You want them to be big enough to feel sort of meaty in the sandwich. I added two small banana peppers, seeded and diced, as well as a little garlic powder, onion powder, and a (very small) dash of cayenne. (Onion powder rocks, btw. I hate chopping onions) When the zucchini starts to get soft, add a tiny can of tomato paste (or pasta sauce if you happen to have a jar open) and some hot sauce. We use Texas Pete, because while I don't really like spicy food, I loooove the flavor it adds and the slight kick if you add just the right amount. You don't want the mixture to be super saucy, just coated well. When it's all coated and the zucchini are the texture you like, scoop a hefty amount into split mini loaves and top with shredded cheese. I used both chedder for sharpness and mozzarella for...because I like it. :)   Wrap them individually in foil and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. The foil wrapper keeps the bread from crisping up too much and makes for really great gooey hot sub. Yum Yum.

Don't cut your loaves all the way through- you want to fill them like a taco shell and keep them open side up to keep everything from falling out. It makes the whole process much easier. Don't cook the zucchini too long. You want them not quite crunchy, but if you over do it they turn to mush and you will have bread full of mush. No good.

Tomato paste is greatly under appreciated I think- I never use a whole can at once so I keep it in a baby food jar in the fridge and find myself tossing a spoonful into all kinds of things. The same with onion powder. Onions add wonderful flavor to almost everything, but chopping them sucks, and so does remembering to use them before they go bad. So- keep a jar of onion powder around for the times when you just don't feel like crying.

Enjoy loves- We sure did!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thrift shops for Bread!?

I live in Hope Mills, a small offshoot of our main town (Fayetteville), and any time I need something from Lowes or Home Depot, which is usually a couple of times a week, I have to drive the 6 miles down Hope Mills Rd into the real city. I have been doing this for nearly a year now, and I finally decided to stop in some of the little shops I've been passing by for so long. Most of them were a bust. One little thrift store was actually closed down, though the open sigh still flashed invitingly in the window. Another was full of clothes and Diaper cakes??, which is not what I am interested in at all. The cutesy antique shops were full of new furniture at a "discounted price" which was not discounted at all.  But bread outlet- oh the bread outlet.

Do you raid the rack of half priced clearance bakery items at Walmart like a starving child? I do. My husband eats a bagel for breakfast every morning, takes three sub type sandwiches and two regular sandwiches to work every day, and has to have rolls/biscuits/breadsticks with his dinner- so we go through a LOT of bread. And bread is EXPENSIVE. This place, The Sunbeam Outet, recollects the bread expiring that day from the grocery stores and sells it for $1 or 2/$1. All kinds of bread- bagels, rolls, the fancy sliced kind, buns. Everything. They also sell all those little prepackaged snacks for super cheap, but since everything I eat sticks to me like glue since Lovebug was born and Hubs hates sugar, I have to skip that isle. In addition to everything being so cheap already, they give you a free loaf if you spend $5, a 10% discount if you have a military ID, and $5 worth of free bread every time you fill up your punch card-which fills up quickly!

I left that store with all this for only $7 and felt a little guilty as I skipped out the door.  That it two packs of Natures Own bagels, two packs of Cobblestone Mill loaves, two packs of dinner rolls, a huge pack of brown loaves, AND a loaf of Cobblestone Mill sourdough sliced bread. All of it technically expired that day, but who cares? It all seems as fresh as can be to me. And my deep freeze has no problem storing it all for me until we need it.  I cannot believe the money I have been wasting buying all of this at the grocery store for the past year when I could have been saving so much at the Outlet!

A bonus, if you have children who like to feed ducks, or farm animals that like to eat bread, they sell big bags of yesterdays bread for dirt cheap. I have an aunt that gets truck loads of what didn't sell for $1 to feed to the cows- I guess cows like bread.

The best part? These are all over the country. Now that I have been in one I remember seeing them everywhere I have ever lived. What a discovery! What wonderful things have you found hiding right under your nose?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm baaaaaaaack!!

Hello again Friends- I'm back! Very sorry for the absence, but now I am here to stay, like it or not. :)

Recently I found, or rather, was shown by my wonderful friend who's daughter was born the very same day as mine, an amazing thing. Pinterest. If you have not yet been seduced by Pinterest, you should immediately go and take a look. And by immediately I mean just as soon as you are finished reading my wonderful ramblings. Check out my boards while you're there- I rather like them.

On a more creative note, I just finished an awesome project that I think you all just might love, and I didn't even steal it from Pinterest! I have always kept a mini dry erase board on my fridge for grocery lists, jotting down phone numbers, or whatever else I might need to remember. But- since we have remodeled the kitchen and it is looking oh so classy, my notes are looking kind of trashy (not that my house full of baby toys does not). I pondered glueing the board to the inside of the cabinet door- nope, painting the inside of the cabinet door with chalk board paint- nope (we'll be selling the house soon and the brand new cabinets need to stay brand new, plus I hate chalk), and then had an epiphany. Contact paper.

My first thought was painting chalk board paint over contact paper on the inside of the cabinet, but then I remembered that contact paper, as well as anything else non porous, works as a dry erase board. White would look sort of trashy too, but black. Perfect. So- check this out!

Plain Cabinet
 Awesome Cabinet!
Now I can have my great list-making note-jotting board, even better than I had before, and keep it out of site! Though this one is so cool that I almost want to leave the door open. I'm betting you're wondering where in the world I found such awesome bright colored markers that would write on black? Expo makes them for black erase boards and they are wonderful- though slightly expensive. I think I paid $7 for the set shown below. So worth it though.

So, go grab some contact paper and markers and make yourselves a board! I used the leather textured stuff from Home Depot because I was in too much of a hurry to find the smooth high gloss kind, but it worked just fine, and looks very nice. The markers only fully erase with a wet paper towel on the textured paper, but I have no problem with that since I thought I was going to have to use wet erase markers in the first place. The roll is huge, and if you wanted you could cover every cabinet in your house and probably still have some left over. The markers I got at Staples, though Walmart or Target may have them too. 

What awesome projects have you done lately?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

I was born and raised in northern Alabama- and though  I moved to Georgia in college and now live in North Carolina, I still very much consider myself an Alabama girl.

In Alabama, tornados are like rain storms. They happen constantly, many people have underground tornado shelters at their homes, our schools have tornado drills monthly, and there isn't a place out of ear shot of a tornado siren. I thought this was normal until last week when North Carolina was hit by a massive tornado and I never heard a siren- turns out they don't have sirens at all. But the point is, we Alabamians are used to tornados.

Yesterday afternoon my best friend called me- wait- backstory. My best friend, (K), and I met when she was 4 and I was 5 and have been inseparable our entire lives- despite living in different cities/states the entire time. She is the only person who has been in my life continuously, and has been my strength through many many hard times. K may not be blood, but that makes our sisterhood even stronger, because it is by choice.  

Yesterday K called me in the middle of the day- strange in the first place since she works more than full time- and sounded..almost hysterical. Her boss's home and a good friends home had been hit by a tornado that morning and the storms were not scheduled to end any time soon. She said she was scared. As I said before, we Alabamians are used to tornados, they do not scare us.

If K was scared, I needed to be watching the news. Problem with that is, it is very difficult to find good coverage of storms happening on the other side of the country. Luckily her local news station just happens to have a live stream on their website. When yet another tornado warning popped up for her town, (Cullman, Al), I called her back and stayed on the phone with her as she, her mother, and little brother took shelter in a bathroom in the center of their quaint historic downtown Cullman home. I told her I would keep an eye on the news and let her know when it was over- and we hung up.

Then- within minutes- the news switched to live stream and showed this.

Then the newscaster told me- as if he were speaking just for me- that this tornado was passing, and then had passed through historic downtown Cullman. I am dialing.. no answer. No voicemail. Just two rings and then silence. Again and the same thing. Then the newscaster speaks to me again and tells me he is getting reports that many homes in the historic downtown neighborhood are leveled and that he expects fatalities. Still dialing, over and over and over again like an insane ex girlfriend. Nothing. Nothing but the most horrible nauseating silence I have ever heard. I had to go there- find her- help- something- but it's a 10 hour drive through the worst storm of the century and I have a daughter now. I call her house phone, her moms cell phone, and every single other person I know in that town but no one answers and I am helpless. Back to the news. Maybe my friend the newscaster has already checked on her for me- but the tornado that ripped through her town is now onto other towns and so is friend newscaster.  

K knows I was watching. She knows I need to hear from her. But my phone is not ringing. After 30 or so more phone calls and 30 or so more little heartbreaks when the ringing stopped, I was in tears. Just a little while before I had been talking to her and now she was probably underneath a pile of rubble and there was absolutely nothing I could do. As the minutes passed without contact it seemed more and more possible that the tornado on my computer screen had killed my best friend.  The helplessness overcame me, and I sat staring and quiet into my somehow unchanged home while my daughter babbled happily, completely unaware.

K called about an hour later. The tornado had leveled the majority of her neighborhood and temporarily taken out all phone service, but left her home mostly undamaged. I wanted to yell at her, to tell her never to be in the same city as a tornado again, or to move to a safer state, but you can't control nature. The tears flooded. Never have I been so overcome with relief and gratitude. But the storms continued, and many many people died. 


The fatalities in Alabama from yesterday's storm have reached 125 so far, with 50 in critical condition, many unaccounted for, and countless probably undiscovered in the rubble. Across the southern states more deaths push the total up to 159 in just one day from just one storm. As the death tole continues to rise my heart breaks for my home state and all of the hundreds of people who have lost loved ones, homes, and businesses.  Next week I am going home, and I vow to do anything possible to help my beautiful state heal.

In just a couple of hours this storm will be upon us here in NC, and though it is not expected to be as severe as it was in Alabama, it is a very dangerous storm. I will be hiding in my closet with my daughter. Please, dear friends, stay safe. And do not underestimate the wrath of this "thunderstorm."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shopping, budget, and the MOST AMAZING TRUFFLES EVER!!!

I am constantly hearing my friends talk about how they shouldn't spend any more money this month, or how their husbands have cut them off. Being a stay at home mom seems to cause shopping trips with friends, which causes all sorts of other problems, so today's post was supposed to be entirely about how much I love shopping and the the problems it poses to my families income. But then I found a recipe for something so sinfully decadent and heavenly that I can't not share it with you. Soooo... I'm going to seriously shorten the first part and get to the deliciousness. :D 

I love to shop, not for clothes so much, but for house stuff. I used to pride myself on being frugal, because I only by things at their very cheapest, or with great coupons, or from thrift stores, but then the end of last month came and I realized we didn't have as much left in the bank as I wanted to. I thought it strange, since I didn't really buy "much". Then this month I have a list of small things I want (an umbrella for the back porch, a cheap gas grill, a bird bath..), but have refrained from buying since I took a closer look at our budget and broke it down in a way that made my "small" purchases seem much larger. It's ridiculously simple, but I had never looked at our money in this particular way, so it kind of blew my mind and I wanted to share it with you. 

First, figure out your total monthly income and your total monthly bills. Since we are military and our income is no big secret, I'll use our numbers as an example. 

Income: $3029.18
Constant bills (mortgage, utilities, ect..) :  ~$1177

That leaves $1852.18 which isn't bad at all. Seeing that number has always made me feel like we have a comfortable amount of money to spend. But, if you break it down into a daily budget, you see what you really have. $1852.18 split into 31 days is $59.74 per day.  Take out the $7.50 hubs spends on gas every day, about $5 for his lunches (he eats a TON of meat so feeding him is expensive),  and $15ish for dinner (again with the meat)- add drinks and we'll make it an even $20- that leaves $27.24 per day for spending without even thinking about the extra junk we buy, like..oh.. formula and diapers!

Now every time I want to buy something, like the $100 grill I want so badly, I think of that very small number and walk away. It has actually helped a lot, since I used to think of the decently large $1852 per month. Granted, many days the debit card never comes out, so the number slowly climbs as days pass without spending, but it shoots down just as fast when you make one large purchase. So try this out and see if it doesn't help you control your shopping sprees, or even grocery buying. :) That wasn't very short, was it? 

Cookie Dough Truffles

Super easy, ridiculously yummy. You don't even have to bake. Just mix,chill, roll, freeze, and dip.

It makes a lot.. like..50ish truffles, so you may want to cut the recipe in half. Or just sent some my way. Though, I bet they would freeze quite well.

Cookie dough truffles
1/2 cup softened salted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
2 1/4 c flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
So easy:
  • Combine the butter, sugar,vanilla,and sweetened condensed milk. Add the flour and chocolate chips.

Now, you may be able to form this into balls at this point, but it will work best if you chill first. So, throw the dough in the fridge for a while and go do something else. You should do something productive, but 30 minutes does happen to be the length of one tv show...
  •  Roll into walnut sized balls. Place balls in the freezer for 2hrs or so. They won't be upset with you if you leave them in their all day, as long as your freezer doesn't smell like fish or onions. ewww..

  • Melt  12 oz chocolate chips with 1 tbs butter. To melt, place in a microwave at 25 second intervals, stirring between each. Be careful- overheated chocolate can seize up. Just get it till it’s starting to melt and stir away, the chocolate will continue to melt and smooth out.  I have ruined a lot of chocolate in my days- so follow directions. You could also get the little microwave containers made for dipping- they are quite convenient. 
  • Now dip! I think the easiest way is to stick them with a wooden skewer- but you can do it however you like. 
Store them in the fridge and enjoy!!!! Nom nom nom... 

See you tomorrow! Eventually.. we have our first physical therapy appointment in the morning.. :(

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PB&J.. the forgotten wonder

Ok, so I know your mother probably fed you about 89 Gazillion peanut butter sandwiches as a child, and if  you are anything like me once you got old enough to buy your own groceries you struck them completely off the list of meal possibilities, swearing never to eat them again. But when was the last time you actually ate one? I recently re-discovered them, and they are quite delicious in moderation. Just not every other day for 10 straight years. :)  Especially if you change them up a little from the white bread-grape jelly version you ate as a child. My favorite right now is seedless blackberry jam, low-fat creamy Jiff, and 7grain bread- although I am also very fond of Strawberry jam. Paired with my daily iced vanilla coffee, it makes for one very enjoyable protein packed (and very very cheap) meal. Do you know the average cost of a basic Pb&j is a tiny $0.29, and even with fancy jam and bread the cost falls under $1. If you get daring you could even try adding some things. There are the basics, like marshmallows, chocolate chips, raisins, and bananas, but what about dill pickle, bacon, or apples? Yum.... Plus they are portable, don't have to be refrigerated, are very filling, and don't get soggy before lunch time. So next time you find yourself at the grocery store, peruse the jelly and jam isle and grab whichever one looks the best to you- there are more varieties there than you can probably imagine- and start enjoying a PB&J every now and again. Smucker's alone offers blackberry, raspberry, mango, orange, plum, apple, and guava just to name a few! Your wallet will appreciate it almost as much as the child inside you.

Just for fun:

Candy coated Lime curd and peanut butter

Apples, blueberries, pineapple chunks, chocolate syrup, and peanut butter. 

 Grilled apple, honey, and peanut butter.

Dill pickle, onion, mayo, and peanut butter.

and my favorite...Mini Reese's cups and peanut butter, grilled.  Yummmo!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Strawberry Pretzel Delight

Since the last post was so negative, I thought I would give you all something wonderful and happy to make up for it. :) This may not sound all that exciting, but I promise it is HEAVENLY. So heavenly, in fact, that I had about 6 servings at one meal with my husband watching. If you know anything about my sugar-loathing husband, you understand the insanity of that. My mother-in-law calls it "salad" which makes us all feel okay about eating it and then eating dessert afterwards, so I've renamed it to prevent you from being tempted. Please, for the sake of your tongue and the detriment of your rear - give this a shot. Tonight.   And don't be put off by the frozen strawberries. I don't like them either, but they are great in this recipe. Enjoy Lovies!


  • 1 1/2 cups crushed stick pretzels
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3/4 cups butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 1 container Cool Whip
  • 1 (6 ounce) package strawberry Jello
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen strawberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Mix together the pretzels, 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread evenly over the cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the gelatin mix and boiling water. Mix in frozen strawberries, and stir until thawed. Pour over cream cheese mixture in pan. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour.

What I see on the streets of Fayetteville.

Recently I have lost a great deal of faith in the people of our country, and perhaps humanity as a whole. I am a helper, a fixer, and a giver. I always want, and sometimes need, to do anything possible to make the world better for the individuals in my immediate circle, often to the detriment of my own schedule. But I rarely see these traits in other people. Now, please don't get me wrong, I am not egotistical at all. In fact, I have very low self esteem. I see myself as less important than the rest of the world, but I don't think this is such a bad way to feel. What I don't understand is how so many people increasingly put themselves above absolutely everyone and everything else. In years past, when a siren sounded, cars not only slowed but actually pulled off the road and stopped no matter which direction the emergency vehicle was traveling. Now I notice that most people speed up to get by before they are forced to stop, often cutting off an ambulance or fire truck. When I was younger, people would pause for completely absurd amounts of time to hold a door for me, just to be polite. Now men and women alike glance at me, arms full of baby and baby gear, and step up the pace to get through the door before I am close enough to make them feel obligated to hold it open for an extra moment. The worst example in recent days was the government shutdown fiasco and the complete lack of concern on the part of congress for military families. Something could have been done to protect the income of the soldier in case of shutdown, but it wasn't, probably because doing so would not have had any benefit to the congressmen themselves. I won't go into that- since most of you heard my opinions more than you wanted to. On a smaller level, the number of cheating spouses and unreliable friends seems to have skyrocketed also. When did it become acceptable to expect your friends help without returning the favor? Or to not only cheat on your significant other, but to sleep with whomever you please and then guilt the faithful one for leaving?

Overall I have been utterly disgusted with my species for the past few weeks. Then, last Saturday, an F3 tornado ripped through my county and destroyed 280 homes and severely damaged nearly 700 more in just a matter of minutes. Having grown up in Alabama, I have experienced my fair share of tornados, but the hills of my home state cause tornados to jump and often only damage a home or two at a time, and this tornado stayed on the ground for over forty miles destroying everything in it's path. Luckily no one I know personally had any damage, with the exception of a friend's son's elementary school, but the aftermath was overwhelming none the less. I have never seen anything like it. The town quickly put together an event called "Neighbors helping Neighbors" for those unaffected to donate to those in need and set up in the local Lowe's parking lot. I gathered everything in my house I thought we could live without and drove across town, feeling a little guilty for not going earlier in the day and wondering if they would even still be there- (it was 3pm and the event started at 8am). For those of you who don't live in Fayetteville, the Lowe's is on the main road through town and has at least four entrances and a giant parking lot. When I got to the street beside Lowe's I found a traffic jam, so I turned around to avoid it and went to an entrance on the other side of the store, wanting to drop off my donations before they closed the event, but I found an even larger traffic jam on the other side. I ended up parking in another lot and walking, bags and baby in hand, and as I got closer I realized the terrible traffic was because so many people were trying to donate. The trucks brought to carry the donations were already full and huge piles filled the parking lot surrounding. People scurried everywhere to accept the bags of clothes and food but couldn't move fast enough to keep traffic moving. It was quite a site, and actually brought me to tears. The donations that day were so much that volunteers worked into the night to transport them. The salvation army sent out an emergency call for volunteers because they were unable to sort and organize the volume of donations in time for the give away day.

That moment gave me a glimmer of hope for humanity, and showed me that in times of emergency, when disaster strikes, people will step up and help. But being a good person in times of emergency is not enough. There are people who need a smile, a kind ear, or someone willing to help all around you every day, and I challenge you all to notice and do something about it. You may have to spend a few minutes or maybe even an entire day on someone else, and your grocery shopping or laundry may have to wait, but the joy you bring to them will be worth it. And hopefully they will appreciate your efforts and pass on the kindness. Maybe, in time, we can bring back the world I remember. A world where we do not always put ourselves first.

Photos by Krystal Dorn of Krystal Klear Images