30 December 2015

Holidaze

From Thanksgiving to Christmas has been a blur, a massive candle-burning-at-both-ends blur. With all of the parties to attend and prep for: school, work, shopping and reunions, I'm just plain exhausted. But I will sleep when I am dead because my mom is in town... and I am determined to finish the year with a slower, more fun pace to set the tone for next year.

Pajama Fondue Party
I have the best pajamas ever! 

For NYE, my mom and I will be making lumpia (of course) and some cute champagne cupcakes. The plan is to use the frosting and decorations featured in this recipe and make the actual cupcakes and pastry cream from this recipe.  #fingerscrossed

23 December 2015

Food

Here are some things I'd like to cook this winter:

Kicked up Fondue (oh yeah!)
Aglio e Olio with a Fried Egg (a fried egg just takes a dish to a new level of wonderfulness) 
Sushi (This is something I promised my kids we'd learn to do in 2016)

17 December 2015

#enjoying

A few weeks ago I listened to Mindy Kaling reading her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and one of the others readers mentioned “puffy stickers”.  That mention took me way back to elementary school, maybe middle school to when I collected puffy stickers! Rainbows and unicorns and scratch n' sniff stickers too.

I really enjoyed listening to her read her book; she is definitely someone I would have enjoyed hanging out with... she's so funny and down to earth.

She talks about an an "Irish exit" out of parties and that is something I totally do - I prefer to slip out of a party unnoticed rather than make a big display but that is harder to do when kids are involved as the exits may turn to the theatrical.

I also listened to Reese Witherspoon read Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman.  I wasn't sure what to expect with this book but I thoroughly enjoyed it being read to me by Reese. I thought she did a great job reading the story.

Also, enjoying canned smoke trout. I know, random. Actually it's not so random. When I was in Napa a few months ago, we visited a tapas place and one of the small plates we ordered was the smoke trout. It was served in the tin (like my picture below) with a side a toasted baguette. So simple and so yum. Since I have been back home I have searched every grocery store I visit for canned smoked trout. Recently I got lucky in a new Walmart Neighborhood Market which carried TWO brands of the yummy savory snack.

Not quite the same, but delicious!
I tested them both out, once with melba toast for lunch and once with the family, served on toast with scrambled eggs. Both were very delectable.

Looking forward to more yumminess and reading in my near future.

11 December 2015

07 November 2015

#making

I just got back from a week in California and the weather here is just like there - gorgeous! Hard to think about Christmas when it's sunny and warm out but once we get past our first Thanksgiving meal this weekend, we might be ready to put up the tree. I did purchase a Christmas ornament while I was away though.

Not really Christmasy but fits in with the eclectic collection of ornaments we already have...

05 November 2015

Mummy's the Word

I was sick with a head cold most of last week, but David really wanted to go to the Mummy and Son Masquerade Dance with me the night before Halloween, so I rallied and we went for the short dance.

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Totally 80's Mummy and Power Ranger Son


24 October 2015

Camping Juxtaposition

Last Saturday my family dispersed into 3 different directions to camp out for the evening. I slept in a treehouse with Aubri and 5 of her friends (and a couple of moms) in Southwest Oklahoma.

Posers
I think the treehouse camping spoiled us from regular camping...

07 October 2015

Birthday Boy

We celebrated David's birthday quickly and quietly as a family the day before I flew out to Napa.

Happy Birthday
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Mia Familia
My beautiful family

06 October 2015

Framily Time

September was a wild ride! For a while I thought I might not blog about it because I am still fairly exhausted, but here goes:

We tailgated at the first home game. It was fun to get out for a change of pace. I usually prefer to stay home while my town transforms into a sea of crimson and cream but a friend of mine was in town and we had to go to her winning tailgate.

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Tailgating at the N-Zone

19 September 2015

Outdoor Gathering Area

We were lucky enough to inherit a really cool fire bowl when we moved into our home 10 years ago, but we've never really thought it was located in the right spot.

Fireside Goofball
This is to the West of the house and South of the pool.

03 September 2015

Blood, Bones and Butter

Ok, there is no blood, bones or butter in this wrap up foodie post, but I must say that I have been enjoying immensely listening to Gabrielle Hamilton reading her Blood, Bones and Butter to me on the way to work and home again. I read it 4 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it then, but having her read the words and describe the food and Italy and her life experiences is so much better. I love being read to and I totally want to make something (lobster!) with smoked paprika butter now!

16 August 2015

Locally Sourced Inspiration

Last night we were finally able to carve out some time to attend the Norman Art Walk. We didn't do any research on what to expect, we just got into the car and went downtown.

Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city 
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty 
How can you lose? 
The lights are much brighter there 
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares 
 So go downtown 
Things will be great when you're downtown 
No finer place for sure, downtown 
Everything's waiting for you

08 August 2015

Life at My Mom's House

Looking back at the pictures from our vacation, it seems like it was years ago.  <Sigh!> I miss being able to sleep in while someone else dealt with my circus, my monkeys.

Life inside my mom's house centered around a new puppy. Someone dumped this cute little doggie and my sister's big dogs thought he was a toy for them. They worked night and day trying to extract his little squeaker!

Poquito

01 August 2015

Recharge & Go

After the long/late visit with family on Independence Day, it was really hard to get going the next morning as planned. I got up early to let the dog out, but then I got back into bed, and wanted to stay there all day. We had to shoehorn ourselves out of my mom's house and our stuff into our car (which was difficult as our stuff had expanded and we had the 3rd kid riding back with us) and get on the road already. Just a few hours late. But we had one more important stop to make before home.

We weathered another massive rainstorm on the way to see the Best Neighbors Ever! It was just like the deluge of rain we received when we neared my mom's place at the beginning of this trip. So things were a little damp when we got there and our friends were in the middle of a kitchen renovation, but it was great to be with them again.

David, Calum, Aubri, Jack and Emi


29 July 2015

Celebrating Independence - Riverview Style

I know it's taking me a long time to blog about our vacation but we have been submerged back into (under?) our home/work/kid life again.  So, anyway, back to recapping...

27 July 2015

Memory Lane Exploration

So the place where I spent my childhood exploring woods, creeks and ponds with my Nanny (the name I dubbed my granny when I came on the scene) is not so much a paradise these days.

Everything is overgrown and it appears to have been parceled out - might even be a trailer park now. Sad to see our old homestead end up like that.

After my grandparents sold the place, a circus used to winter here. That was pretty cool to imagine elephants and lions living there where we used to ride bikes or hunt for turtles.

The trees hid the old pond...

We had tiki tables all around the pond and a lodge where the family would gather for special occasions.

19 July 2015

Alligator Ole!

On the way back from the Keys, Scott and I were discussing the lack of alligator sightings during our stops in the Everglades/Alligator Alley and at my mom’s place. In the 20 years that we have been driving down to Florida together, we have never seen an alligator outside of Busch Gardens….and that guy was too stuffed to jump. Like us most days after dinner.

So Scott did some research while I was driving and set up a canoeing adventure for the family at Canoe Escape on the Hillsborough River. The guide promised that we’d see between 10 and 50 (!!!!) alligators during our 2-3 hour canoe trip. Yipes! When Scott asked if they’d had any alligator attacks, he said only one in over twenty years, and the bite wounds received were defensive bites.

Later on from my mom's house I did a little more research and found this article right away and I had some real apprehension about the whole adventure that evening.

When I was a child (I had a fever, my hands felt just like, 2 balloons) I was in small boat in our alligator-infested pond with my 2 brothers.  When my brothers spotted a baby alligator swimming across the pond, they both jumped overboard to retrieve the baby gator.  I was left alone without a paddle (go ahead and laugh because I was definitely up some sort of creek), shrieking.  From what I have remembered for almost 40 years now is that my grandfather (PawPaw) jumped into the pond and rescued me.  This past week I learned that my memory was faulty. My mom told me that my PawPaw didn’t know how to swim (what?!). And my brother told me that HE jumped in to bring me back to shore. Whatever happened, I was scarred for life…

At any rate, I felt the need to somewhat get over this irrational fear of gators. And the canoeing sounded like fun for the family. Cost was minimal at $100 for 4 rowers on the shortest route (Trip 1) that takes 2-4 hours depending on how fast one rows.

Future Canoers
Not sure how to feel about this yet. I told them that red angers the gators like it does bulls.


18 July 2015

Northbound - Bloodline Route

So the whole point of going to the Keys was to visit places we'd seen while indulging ourselves on Bloodline... We had researched it a bit - locations to see - and we ordered them by exit route for us. We didn't get to all of the places we listed (like Alabama Jacks's where Danny had the fish sandwich) because it was too far off of our route and we had lunch reservations at Marker 88 Restaurant.

Marker 88 was not on the original agenda, but when I was googling "mile marker 8" to see why that was significant to me and Scott on the way down to Florida, Marker 88 came up as a highly recommended restaurant, so we decided to check it out for lunch on the way back to Riverview.

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16 July 2015

Key West, Baby

The next morning was...not good. While there was a slight ocean breeze in our tent as I was nodding off, there was no breeze in the middle of the night. The humid ocean air coupled with the not so quaint rooster crowing (way, way before sunrise!!!) made it hard to sleep so I got up with the roosters and showered in the camp showers to get some relief from the oppressive heat. When I got back to the tent, these guys were dumpster diving.

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The hen and baby chicks are under and around the dumpster.

14 July 2015

Key West Evening

So when we finally made it to Key West, we set up our tent and chairs, and took in the ocean breeze.

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Primitive camping with no electricity for the fan we brought to keep cool and bug-free...

Chillin' at Camp in Key West
At least we had a bit of shade...


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13 July 2015

“We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.”

During our two weeks in Florida, we finagled a couple of days to get away for a kid-free adventure. This past spring we got hooked on Bloodline so we researched some of the places that the Rayburns frequent.

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12 July 2015

Sunday, Sunday (in Florida)

Sunday morning, we met up with my dad's side of the family at another Cuban restaurant.  My breakfast consisted of cafe con leche, eggs, grits and Cuban toast, but who cares? Look at this cutie with my sister!

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Look at sweet baby girl's teeth!

11 July 2015

Florida Wildlife

In all of the years that I lived in and we've been back to Florida, we've never seen the manatees. I'm not sure why. During this visit we thought we'd take the kids to TECO Manatee Viewing Center because it is very close to my mom's place and looked like it would have cool activities for the kiddos.

It's a bummer that my kids' mother isn't more thorough because when we got to the viewing center, it was closed. I didn't see that tidbit of information when I researched it.

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Bummer!

Going to the Chapel

At my niece's wedding rehearsal and the actual wedding it was hard to hold back the tears. Mostly because I knew my brother was going to shed a few tears giving away his beautiful daughter. It was only a few short years ago that my brother and his wife were helping us rehearse for and participate in our wedding.... well, almost 19...

Rehearsing
Rehearsing

09 July 2015

As Per Usual

The first morning of my visit, I am usually up early exploring my mom's place. I miss silly things like the moss!

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And not so silly things, like the fruit that she effortlessly grows in her yard...

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08 July 2015

We Made It

We were up at the butt crack of dawn trying to eat breakfast, walk the dog, repack our stuff and get on down the road. Let's just say that my little family of 5 is not as efficient as we could be. Luckily we didn't have anything pressing scheduled for Tuesday. We breezed from Louisiana through Alabama to Florida in no time at all.

Summer Road Trip - Day 1

We recently drove down to Florida for survived my niece's wedding, family reunions and fun side excursions down in the South. We decided to caravan down with my sister and her family early Monday morning after hosting Father's Day lunch at our place.

Fathers on Father's Day
Look at all of those good looking dads!

13 June 2015

Soulution

I saw the title of my blogpost in an unfortunate parameter typo at work and thought What a cool name for a blog post! Funny how and when inspiration strikes.

I have been burning the candle at both ends and have found myself feeling a little burned out lately. Sleepwalking through my long days. Mainly because I am tired and stressed and trying to gain closure on projects, personally and professionally.

A soulution to the stress is trying to be more "in the moment". It's difficult for me but some things force me to appreciate the moment. Like this little lady. When I get home from work, she is often the first thing I see, patiently waiting for me at the window, wagging her tail when I near the porch.

This dog....love her! 

10 May 2015

Mother Lode

This past week we hit the mother lode on things: rain, thunderstorms, food and ...mothers!

Hanging with Their Lola
Lola came to visit...

04 May 2015

Collaboration

I have been thinking about what to do with this canvas for a couple of years.

Wow. Seriously? I hung up the blank white canvas 3 years ago. Then the following year I painted it yellow. And two months later, a lovely shade of ocean green  (La Mer).

Fresh Canvas
Commitment-phobic artist, much?

13 April 2015

Let Them Eat Cake

A few weeks ago David and I were watching The Best Thing I Ever Ate, cake edition, and Anne Burrell was foaming at the mouth over this fabulous coconut cake that she schlepped from the Village to Midtown to get.  After watching them make the cake at Smith and Wollensky, I knew I had to make that cake soon. So I did. For Easter.

Coconut Cake Batter

08 April 2015

Sunshine and Hops

A month ago I posted about a goal of mine to grow hops. It's on my Living List!

My hops rhizomes arrived from The Thyme Garden just as we were getting ready to leave to go camping a few weeks ago. The instructions that came with the rhizomes directed me to put them into the refrigerator until I could plant them, so I did. The rhizomes I ordered were the Cascade Hops, Chinook Rooted Rhizome (organic) and the Sterling Rooted Cutting.

Initially I planned to plant all 3 varieties along the clothesline, but after I started digging in the yard, I decided that I wanted to place them in different areas of the yard, to add interest and fragrance.

The Sterling Hops is the only plant that will be growing on the clothesline.  I chose Sterling because I am a huge fan of silver.  The description might've influenced me as well.

slightly spicy fragrance with a herbal floral punch with notes of citrus

Sterling Hops
Sterling Hops
I chose the Chinook Hops because I occasionally hear and see Chinooks flying overhead. Plus the description is kind of sexy, no?

07 April 2015

Aviary

Lately there have been a lot of birds at my place...

Cardinal
This guy is one of a trio of couples that lives here. He is not afraid to show the squirrels who is boss!

04 April 2015

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

..and also when PLANTS come together!

It's no secret that my batting average with plants is about 0.500, but I am enthusiastic about what I plant or pull up in my yard.

We have much coming back to life in our yards these days: daffodils, forsythia and quince, bananas, peonies, lilies of all kinds, spearmint and lemon balm. Some plants that I planted last year that "didn't make it" are making it now (hollyhock, berries). And the tulips!

Back at the end of January, we took a chance and planted some very cheap tulip bulbs (~$14.00 for 118 bulbs) that we got on deep discount at Walmart. Most of them went into this design. I added mulch and some stones to give more definition to the bed. Now there are at least 80 plants with blooms!

Peace Tulips

I wasn't sure what to expect with our very late start with this project, but I am very pleased.

Tulips!

More on other yardening projects later...

25 March 2015

Camp Life

During Spring Break we were able to spend some time in nature, camping on the Illinois River. The first night was really rough with a campsite delivery (The Mobster) from Gambino's.

Gambino's

18 March 2015

Shades of Brown

Peace Sign Tulip Garden
Tulip Garden (more defined)

Dark Chocolate Cake Pops
Dark Chocolate Brownie Pops (oh my!)

Metallic Espresso
Rich Espresso Horse Head

15 March 2015

Subtlety

My yard is so full of weeds already that it's hard to find the beauty.  It's there in some obvious ways.

Daffodils


01 March 2015

Hip Hop

This morning, I am all into "hops" as I am preparing myself mentally to grow hops this year. Not a lot, just 3 little manageable plants that I ordered from The Thyme Garden.

I mentioned on my blog (3 years ago!!) that I wanted to grow hops and it's on my Living List, so that means I'm serious now.

I have been eyeballing a location that hasn't gotten much use over the past few years.

26 February 2015

Fast and Full (and Fabulous) February

As per usual, February has been a busy month.  This year we had more than the usual stuff scheduled. Scott made a life long dream come true by taking the Little Ones to the Monster Truck show.

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16 February 2015

Living Life Deliciously

Lately, we've been taking a big bite out of life.  Last month on a lunch date, we finally checked out a local place (called Local, hah!) and really enjoyed ourselves and our meal. Of course, 2 days later, this place announced it was closing its doors, so we decided to take the kids there for brunch before that happened. I didn't get any pictures except for the bacon "heart" resting on my Gorgonzola spinach grits.

My phone camera doesn't do it justice...

Brunch was served in 3 courses: fruit/scones/muffins/cheese, eggs/meats/grits and a variety of pancakes for breakfast dessert. My favorite item was the grits! We asked for seconds and boxed up the leftover grits to enjoy the next morning. And then we promptly left the doggie box on the table. *sad face* 

This prompted me to make my own variation on the grits, using up the rest of the Stilton blue we had left over from last month's foraging for goodies.  I didn't get pictures of THAT concoction, but it was delicious, especially topped with a fried egg!

And this past Wednesday evening, Scott and I partook in a winemaker dinner that my friend and her man were hosting in Yukon.

05 February 2015

Recovery Period

A few years back we invested in a lovely red sectional to fill up our Living Room. Life was GOOD!


Fast forward 5 years and 2 more kids, our couch has seen better days...