Tag Archives: Just Livin’

The busy season

I always knew the month of May was a busy one for me with the Babydoll’s birthday, ending of the school year, Babydoll’s choir Spring concert, Mother’s Day, etc.  This particular May I also had to add my annual Book Club trip to West Chester, OH for the Lori Foster Reader/Author Appreciation Event (check out sugarbookclub.wordpress.com for more about that) to the schedule as it is always the 1st weekend in June and that ended up including the last few days of May as well.  Oh yeah…did I mention my sister, her husband, and eldest daughter graduated this month.  My sister and her husband finished up Bachelor degrees and my niece from high school.

I was prepared to tackle this month.  I had my game plan ready.  One thing I could not, nor had I not, plan was the death of my grandmother.  My grandmother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years ago when we had brought her up her from Louisiana for a visit.  She had doctors here because we just didn’t feel that she was getting adequate diagnosis where she was.  Not to say that the doctors where she was were not competent, just that here there was more thorough testing done.  Anyway, Mrs. Lady as I ended up calling her along with the formal Grandmother, lost her fight with the disease the same week of Babydoll’s choir concert and birthday (yes, there were in the same week – dress rehearsal and concert Wednesday & Thursday and party that Saturday. Surprised smile).  My family had to coordinate massive travel arrangements because we had to go back to Louisiana for the funeral and burial and we had quite a few of us coming from various locations.  It turned out we headed out the week in-between the birthday party and my trip that was already paid for.  But ended up missing Aleesha-Boo’s graduation (she’s going to get me for saying that – she Tweets that I always find a way to embarrass her; but I remember her as my beautiful niece who stole my stuffed bear when she visited before going to Italy.)

The funeral was very nicely done with a minimum amount of drama.  And I stress the word minimum – this could have been a colossal event that went down in the history books of drama.  Better than any episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey.  I’m going to really miss Ms. Lady and her quick wit, sharp tongue, and abundance of love.  My dad used to call her the 4 foot general (I think she was around 4’10” or 4’11”, but she was a short one compared to my 5’10.5”)

My Babydoll’s spa party was another big success.  We had sent out 10 invitations, but I’m really glad only half of that showed up.  The girls had a good time getting facials,

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getting mani’s and pedi’s

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and drinking “champagne” from champagne flutes (plastic of course).  I spent three weeks making face mask and spa robes and they really didn’t wear them long.  You see, the control panel for the HVAC battery went out and so we were unable to adjust anything until we had a battery.  It had been cool enough throughout the week that we didn’t need to have anything on, but Saturday it got HOT.  By the time we found a battery it took a “minute” to get the house cool again.  The girls just didn’t want to wear the robes longer than what was needed for the facial.  I hired a wonderful young lady to do the mani’s & pedi’s and I did the facials.  It was loads of fun for everyone.   I can’t wait to hear what her thoughts of next years party will be.  She’ll probably coming to me soon with her thoughts on the matter.

Another big event was my Babydoll receiving a “Personal Best” award from the school Superintendent.  It was a surprise for her, and Stan and I had to act like it was school as usual that morning.  What made it super crazy was the fact that there was a lot of construction going on on the way to school that morning and I got her to school just in time to walk down with her classmates to the gymnasium.  I had to run back out to the car to get my purse and camera and find us a seat.  The only bummer was that I didn’t get a good picture of her getting her award.  The zoom lens that I’m currently using is not for my camera; it’s my husbands old lens and it was made for a Nikon that has the focus built into the camera and my camera requires the zoom to be in the lens.  I have to manually adjust the zoom and tight focus and sometimes my camera does not recognize the lens as being attached to the camera – usually at a crucial time like when I’m ready to take a shot.  Can you say birthday gift boys and girls?  This is what I did get (excuse her attire…it was PE day and I couldn’t dress her up without giving away the surprise)

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Memorial Day was spent relaxing and doing laundry (I had to go to work the next day and leaving for Ohio two days later.), but we did spend several hours in the French Quarter before we came home.  Can you say HOT?  I mean HOT!!

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I had every intention of sitting down to have Biegnets at Café du Monde and getting a Shrimp Po’Boy.  The line at Café du Monde was way too long.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the line that long.  I just kept walking on by.  We went to the shopping part of the market and I was able to find a few things (a gift for my Mommy’s birthday & a couple of souvenirs for Babydoll – she loves to bring home something for every trip we take.)

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My husband and daughter was able to get a crawfish Po’Boy, but we could not find a FRIED shrimp Po’Boy for me. Sad smile  I did get a icee – Tigersblood is the bomb, and found my Po’Boy once we got of the Quarter Smile man do I love those things.

With all of the traveling that I did, I’m glad I’m back home (for now) and I had a great time.  Even my grandmothers funeral trip was enjoyable because I had the opportunity to spend some time with family members that I had not seen in a while.  Aren’t we a handsome group (this wasn’t everyone either –  more like half)?

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My handsome brother in his suit (everyone wore a touch of purple because it was my grandmothers favorite color).

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The one I married 14 years ago…be still my heart.  He cleans up so nice.  He really isn’t a drinker…I think that was iced tea. Smile with tongue out

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My cousin from New York husband…all the men looked really good.

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The month of June promises to be just as busy (my Mothers birthday, my nieces baby shower, MY BIRTHDAY!!, MY ANNIVERSARY!!, family vacation) you know how my life is. Smile

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Filed under Books, Entertaining, Family

We finally did it

Happy New Year!!

The last time I wrote to everyone, I was discussing the “curses” “joys” of housetraining puppies and the relapses associated with them.  Well…I’m happy to announce that we are no longer having relapses.  In fact the puppy has learned to ring the bell (large jingle bells that we purchased from Garden Ridge a few months ago) when she needs to go out.  We did have a couple of accidents this past weekend, but that will be explained a little later.

I have some very exciting news to share…After almost a year of searching and disappointments and ‘I think we found it’ and ‘we’re going to build’ and ‘we’re in a bidding war’….we found and bought AND moved into a new home.  YEAH!!!! 🙂

OMG!!!  This has been the rollercoast ride of our lifes.  We had thought we had found “our” house a couple of times.  The first time, after we had looked at the house for over two hours only to find out of that an offer had been excepted on it the day before (our realtor was so not happy about that).  Our “second” house was lost after being in a bidding war for a week.  This one was perfect or so we thought…right around the corner from Kristian’s school, it had the rooms that we needed and it was move in ready with the need for a few minor repairs.  A month later we were still looking at houses and getting more depressed by what was out there.

One Saturday after we had looked at one two many houses (even going to look at a house that we had previously rejected) when my husband suggested we look  at a builder.  I had just told our realtor that I wanted to be in a new home by the end of the year.  I knew going to a builder would have us moved in after the new year, but my other options weren’t looking too good.  We checked out the builders and were ready to make a go of it.  We called our realtor to share the good news and she said and I quote, “don’t build there….I can find you a house in that same community for less than what you will pay for new construction and you can be in before the end of the year.”   Did I tell you that I LOVE MY REALTOR?  Within 2 hours she had emailed us listings for around five properties.  One rang a bell for my husband…DING! DING! DING! DING!  We arranged to go see it the next day.  I was so done from all of the previous looks, that I was in a ‘I don’t care’ phase.  When we went to look at the house, I didn’t even worry about how I looked.  I went in thinking I was going to hate it.  I LOVED IT!  It had the basement space for my husbands media room, his office space, a formal dining room, my office/craft room, a guest room…it was great!  My realtor checked to insure that there were no offers (didn’t want that to happen again) while we were looking.  It was all good.  We were like let’s get on it before someone else does.  Needless to say we had to get rid of the mortgage broker we were working with and we put in an offer by Wednesday and got our reply back (counter) by Saturday.

I would love to tell you that the whole process went by so fast that I can’t remember, but it didn’t happen that way.  It seemed to drag on forever.  Even with packing over 15 years of stuff it still seemed to drag on for ever.  Oh yeah and to add stuff onto my stress, I said we were going to host Christmas Eve dinner with our family.  That was two weeks after our move-in date.  YIKES!!  We moved in on the 10th of December and yes I did host Christmas Eve dinner.  It was great, and there was more than enough food.  Sasha seemed to be overwhelmed by all of the people in the house because she ended up having two accidents – one when she was trying to get to the door and someone was blocking it and the other time was discovered after she had hid under the table for the evening.  Yes…the little terror, my Sasha-bear, became overwhelmed and hid under the dining room table.

I have to say that I really am happy with my new home.  The kitchen is butt ugly, but I knew that going in.  It is a very nice size and I will get tons of joy decorating.  I will try my best to post as many pictures as possible.

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Filed under Entertaining, Family, Just Living

When feeling down, start cooking

You’re feeling unwell – your sinuses are clogged, your throats sore, your body aches and what do you do?  Most people would hole up in bed and take whatever over-the-counter meds they think will cure them quickly or better yet go to the doctor and a perscription.  When I feel unwell, I take minimal over-the-counter meds (because I can’t stand that drugged out feeling I get, unless I know it’s Bronchitis – I’ve had that three times this year already :() and usually get in the kitchen and make something amazing.  Yep you read it right when I feel bad, I find that I cook at my best.  Now I know your thinking, “Why cook when you’re ill? You might infect anyone who eats what you prepare?”  You would think so, but when I’m ill I go into hyper sanitary mode.  I wash my hands more (even more than normal which says a lot), if I feel a cough our sneeze coming on – I walk out of the room, I never cough or sneeze into my hands, the list goes on and on. 

The last time I felt ill, which was about a month ago, I felt the need to bake homemade rolls and Roasted Eggplant soup.  There is something so theraputic about kneading dough (I do not use the dough hook).  I’ve found that my bread is not as tough when I set the timer for 8 minutes and push and fold the dough until smooth and elastic.

I place it in a greased bowl and set the timer for 1 hour.  I then punch it down and make little round balls that get to rise again for another hour.  In the past once I got to this step I would freeze the rolls I wasn’t going to cook and bake off the ones I was.  The rolls that were frozen were supposed to be thawed at the desired time, with the hopes that they would rise again; but rising again never happened.  I always ended up with little round knots that never got bigger than golf balls.  How frustrating. 😦  So this time around I, decided to partially bake my rolls and freeze them to be completely baked when we are ready to eat them.  It has worked out so much better. 

Anyway…on this day I made four 9-inch pie pans and three 6-inch pans of rolls (I gave one of the smaller pans to my parents and baked one for us that evening.) and a pot of Roasted Eggplant Soup (this was something we had had at my friends wedding in mid-September and my babydoll loved it).

To make the soup, I took one eggplant, one onion, six cloves of garlic, and four Roma tomatoes.

They were cut and brushed with olive oil.  I then placed them into a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes to roast.

After they have cooled enough to handle them, I scooped out the eggplant and placed it along with the other vegetables in a pot of chicken broth.  I then added 1 tsp of thyme

and let simmer for 30 minutes.  I took out the immersion blender and pureed the soup until smooth, added a cup of heavy cream. 

The soup was awesome and rolls were light and fluffy (my babydoll would have eaten all of them if they weren’t placed in the freezer to be eaten later).  Because I wasn’t feeling my best, the bowl of hot soup was a welcome meal.  Don’t you love a hot bowl of soup when you’re under the weather?  What’s your ritual when you’re feeling unwell?  Do you crawl into bed?  Have someone bring you Chinese take out?  Or do you take on unthinkable projects like me?

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Filed under Cooking, Just Living

House Hunting…Horrors

I was just lamenting with a coworker today about how busy our lives have been.  He just moved into his new place yesterday and I asked why he decided to move during the middle of the week.  His response was that his weekends have been so busy that it was only feasible to move during the week. I told him the same could be said for our family the entire month of September.  October… has been a lot less travelly.  (Is that a word? :))

Because of this we have actually had time to do some house hunting.  We have looked at houses for about 6 months.  We even considered custom building just because we were finding it difficult to find the house that we wanted at our price point without needing to make adjustments/upgrades later.  You see, we’ve made some upgrades to our home (hardwood floors throughout, new stairs and railings, upgraded moldings, upgraded bathrooms, and new kitchen floors and back splash) and when we started looking at homes in the location we want to live in, in our price point (which isn’t a small price point) we were finding that we would need to come into the house and spend more money to make at least the same upgrades to the home that we have in our home.

So we finally decided to change our price point so that if we need to do upgrades (which we most likely will do) we can do them and not be stressed about finances.   After making that decision, we hit the house hunting road running and have seen some really nice homes.  We’ve also seen some homes that have left us depressed (if you want to sell a house people it should really be cleaned up.), and we’ve seen some homes that have scared us.  Through it all there have been a couple of houses that we’ve actually liked enough to consider and we’ve considered them.  The problem is that we are currently living in a buyers market and there are people OUT here buying.  They are looking at the same houses that we are looking at and unfortunately they can see a diamond in the rough just like we can.  We have been bidded out of one possibility.  We waited five days to hear that we had lost out on the deal.  I tell you folks when you really find something that you want, it can be rough playing the waiting game.  There are new possibilities that we are looking into that hopefully pan out.  I will keep everyone posted.  My hope is that we will be in a new home before the end of the year.

In the meantime, I would love to hear that I’m not the only one that has lived through house hunting horrors.  Tell me your stories…it may keep my mind off the waiting.

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Filed under Family, Just Living

A Good Home-Cooked Meal

After being on vacation for close to two weeks I have to say that I’m completely burnt out on eating out.  Don’t get me wrong we had some really good food while we were away, but after a time you just get to a point where you just don’t want to eat at another restaurant.  It had gotten so bad for us that we had planned our Sunday dinner for this week on Saturday the week before.  I had already cooked dinner during the week (except for Monday, because we were still on vacation), but I felt that the weekend would really be the start of my home-cooked meal cooking spree.  Friday we had Shrimp Quesadillas with Tomato and Corn Salad.  Oh my did I love that Tomato & Corn Salad. 

The salad was made of fresh corn that was cut off the cob and sauted with red bell peppers , chopped garlic, and onion

then combined with tomatoes that had been chopped and seeded, olive oil, 

cilantro,

 and lime juice. 

The quesadillas were made with shrimp that I seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, and little red pepper.  I sautéed some more red bell peppers and onion in a very hot skillet with only a little oil.  I then quick-cooked the shrimp and set the to the side.  I wiped out the skillet (I was using my cast iron skillet and put the quesadillas together in a dry skillet (layer of cheese then onion and peppers, shrimp and then more cheese.

I added a strawberry Marguerita and that was a satisfying dinner on Friday night. 

Because I had to make a caramel cake for someone and start on the dessert for Sunday, Saturday was a really easy meal of fried catfish with fries and some more of the awesome corn salsa.

My oldest brother and his girlfriend stopped by and we made a couple of pitchers of Margueritas to go along with dinner.  They were really good. 🙂

Sunday was our southern cuisine day that had us eating mustard/collard greens, fried corn, candied yams, corn bread, and roasted chicken.

My youngest brother came by with his family and he was overjoyed to hear that I had made greens.  He had a plate while he was visiting and also took some home.  For dessert I made what my oldest brother calls “fusion cheesecake”.  It’s when I take a cake that I love to eat and add the appropriate flavored cheesecake to go along with it.  I got this idea one day when I was at the Cheesecake Factory for dinner and wanted some chocolate cake and cheesecake, but didn’t want a chocolate cheesecake.  I went home and thought about it and the next week I had made my first “fusion”.  That was about seven years ago.  Since then I’ve made fusions of lemon, strawberry, red velvet, and this past weekend carrot.  I didn’t do alot of garnishing for this picture because honestly the cake is soooo good, I couldn’t place any garnishment on it.  To me it tasted like perfection and so I couldn’t add anything else.  I’m sorry. 😦

That was my weekend meals.  I ended my weekend of cooking and baking my making a fruit tart for my bookclub.  I usually make the “snack” for our meeting.  The meeting is tomorrow and since I have to work tomorrow, I wouldn’t have time to make anything before the meeting if I didn’t do it today.  

Just a brag moment…of all of the pictures in this blog I only “touched-upped” one.  Can you tell which one?

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Just Living

Photography 001

I don’t know if you remember, but I got this great camera for Christmas…

It’s a Nikon D3000.  There are tons of better cameras out there, but this was my first foray into DSLR world and the end to my life as a point&shoot girl.  As you guys have seen I’ve been taking pictures left and right and they haven’t all been the best.  I was extremely grateful when I discovered photo editing sites/software that wasn’t Adobe Photoshop (too complicated for my life…I’m a working mother who is trying to build a second business I don’t have time for Adobe) because I could correct some of the mistakes that I made while using the Auto and Manual settings (also trying to figure out when or when not to use flash).  Plus I’m taking pictures of the desserts I make so that they can be added to my website, I want good pictures without having to pay a food stylist for them (I’m a small business after all). 

I have often felt like I never really had enough time to post because I always  inevitably had to do picture editing and then blogging became SOOOO much more than typing my thoughts and sharing projects with everyone.  I wanted to be able to take pictures that I could use with minimal to no editing that were fabulous enough to hold you guys interested (and maybe be impressed :)).  I also wanted to be able to use the A and S settings that I saw on my camera but didn’t know what they really stood for.  I began scouring the internet for information and blogs that would give me some photography tips.  I found some good information out there and also talked with other people I know that are into photography.  My family vacation was fast approaching, so what better time to try out all of the new techniques I’ve leaned? 

Some of my pictures came out not so good…

I believe I had the shutter speed to high for these photosThis was a good photo but could have been great if I had of had on the flash.

 and then some turned out pretty good…

I can’t even begin to tell you how this happened…but WOW, I’m really proud of myself.

 

At this point I don’t feel like I can classify myself as a Photography 101 student …I’m still in the remedial class, hence the title Photography 001.  So I really would like to get feedback from you guys.  I need tips, comments and whatever you’ve got to help me become a better photographer.  As I improve and learn things I will pass them on.  Thanks a bunch…and don’t forget to send me your comments.

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Filed under Business, DIY, Just Living