Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Car work, food, and more food....

It's 7:35 AM and I'm currently sitting in the waiting room of a car repair place.  When I was getting my lock fixed at the Honda dealership a week and a half ago, they strongly recommended that I get the drive belts, water pump and timing belts changed since I had just recently passed the 100K mark on the odometer. The service tech said I could probably go to 115k but after that I would risk a belt breaking and messing up the whosey whats-it and possibly breaking the thing-a-ma-jig.

Since we are heading to the Cape at the end of next week, I couldn't bear the thought of messing up the whosey whats-it and possibly breaking the thing-a-ma-jig while making that long trip.  So I decided to be proactive and actually get some preventative maintenance done.  It's going to take them all day but my parents are on their way to pick me up once they get done doing their workout at the gym.

While I'm sitting here with nothing else to do, I thought I would give a few updates from around this neck of the woods...

Wally likes to check out the hummingbirds:

And they don't seem to care that he is there watching them.  He sat there for about 45 minutes the day I snapped this picture and he was out again this morning in the same position.

Sarah and I made a really yummy lemon pie.  The recipe is from my bestie, Joanna Gaines.  It was easy to make.  It was creamy and rich and delicious.  However, it was not overly lemony or overly tart which I appreciated.  However, my dad enjoys a nice lemony pie so I think he would have appreciated a lemon more pucker in this pie.  We are definitely going to make this again but next time we might up the lemon juice.  Not sure if adding more juice would mess up the consistancy of the pie though.

In an attempt not to gain weight this summer eating a ton of BMT sammiches, I ordered some zero carb bread.  I paid an arm and a leg for this bread so I was hopeful that it would at least taste 70% like real bread.  It is extremely chewy due to the huge amounts of fiber in the bread and although it looks 100% like bread, it tastes only about 10% like bread.  I imagine eating a slice of this bread is very similar to eating a slice of cardboard.  I guess I'm going to use this bread for toast since it was very disappointing on my BMT.  I'm going to to try to  a good girl and eat my BMTs only once a week on real bread as a treat and find other delicious ways to eat my tomatoes.  (Although nothing is more delicious than a BMT with extra mayo and garden fresh tomatoes. There's really no place for lettuce in this sandwich but there's always room extra mayo - hence the name BMT!)

I tried a new low carb recipe last week that was pretty good.  It's called Green Chile Shredded Beef Cabbage bowl.  You basically cook a hunk of beef in green chilis in the crock pot and shred it.  Then you make a spicy coleslaw as the base and top it with an avocado salsa.  I modified the salsa a little and it was so yummy I was eating that salsa with a fork.  I used  diced avocado, lime juice, salt and cilantro.  Delicious!!

I snapped this picture before I added some crema.  Have you guys used crema?  It's a mexican sour cream but it comes in a squeeze container which makes it very convenient.  It added a nice coolness to this spicy dish

And here is a bowl of the salsa.  Isn't it lovely?

If I wasn't trying to limit my carbs, I would definitely be scooping this stuff up on a tortilla chip but since I'm trying to be good, I've just been eating it plain!

And since apparently all I've been doing lately is eating, here is my favorite snack when I'm craving something sweet:

Berries, splenda, and a splash of cream.  Yummy!

This is our last week of swim practice before the two day county meet.  Luckily we only have to go on Friday and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for no rain so we can get the meet in on Friday night without having to go back on Saturday after the little kids finish.

And now you are officially up to date on what's been happening around here!

Friday, July 13, 2018


With the regular season over and just one week left of practice until the big county meet, I wanted to share a few pictures of the kids swimming.  It's very hard to get a good picture of them in the water.  It all depends on which lane they are in and what events they happen to be swimming in combined with the fact that I am horrible with my real camera.  In fact, the pictures I'm going to post here were taken with my cell phone and they actually turned out better than the ones I took the previous week with my DSLR.

At the county meet there is always a photographer that tries to take pics of all the events and all the age groups and usually I get lucky and there's one good shot of each kid.  I'm hoping I can get a good one of each from there.

I also had to post this because it makes me a little weepy and I just love it:

Peter, Cheyanne, Sarah, Caity, Cody, Colton
 2010 - Our very first year of swim team.  Sarah had just finished Kindergarten and Peter had just finished 1st grade.  Cody had just completed 4th, Caity 3rd, Colton 1st and Chey had just finished preK and was heading to K in the fall.)

And here they were a few weeks ago.  Peter and Colton just completed 9th grade, Sarah 8th, and Chey 7th. 


Time is such a thief.  If I dwell on it too long I get melancholy.  Instead, I have to focus on all of the great times we've had with swim team and at the pool, all the other friendships these kids have made through the team, all the great exercise these kids have gotten and the structure of having something fun and healthy to do in the summer, all the dinners out after the swim meets, etc. When I focus on that, I am no longer wistful at the seemingly quick passage of these years and instead, I am left feeling extremely grateful.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 28

Once again, I'm amazed at the speed the week has flown by.  It's Thursday so I am going to list a few of the things I'm thankful for this week:

1. Our little garden.  The Early Girls are ready!  They are small but they are ripe and delicious! 

2. Our lovely weekend.  I wrote about it here in case you missed it.  The boys went one way and the girls stayed close to home and we were all happy.

3. We had our last regular season swim meet on Tuesday. I'm always so thankful for our swim team and the fun and competition it brings to our summer. The county championship meet is next Friday so basically one week of swim practice left for the summer.  And once again I am shaking my head at how fast the days are moving.

4. These $10 flowers from the farmer's market have been making me smile all week.

5.Our White Althea bush is in full bloom and that is also making me very thankful this week.  I love summer when everything is in bloom. It's like God is speaking to us in every bloom reminding us that he made all of this for us so that we can feel his presence in the beauty.

6. Aldi. I am thankful for Aldi every week when I come out of there with a shopping cart full of food that I purchased at excellent prices. In addition to their regular items I also love their special buys.  Last week I picked up some marinated mozzarella and made this delicious lunch with tomatoes from our garden:

And this week they had adorable little succulents in tin pots for $4.99 each.  I picked up these two but already wish I had grabbed a couple of the other varieties:

Aren't they adorable?  I feel like Joanna is  responsible for these!  :)

These are just a few of the things I'm thankful for this week.  What about you?  What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Our fun weekend!

We all had a great weekend!  If you will recall, the boys headed to Gettysburg on Friday afternoon to cash in on one of Peter's Christmas gifts.

They arrived at their hotel room around 11:00 PM and then got up bright and early on Saturday. They spent the day at the battlefields where they were doing reenactments in celebration of the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Saturday was spent watching reenactments of the Battle at the Wheatfield and another battle when Stuart's  Calvary arrived.  They also saw Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address, watched a live mortar fire demonstration, watched a fife and drum presentation, and heard General Lee and his wife discuss their military years among other things.

They left and then headed to the museum at Gettysburg National Military Park where they started a three hour (26 mile) self guided car tour.  Dan said he would love to go back and do this with an official tour guide (that's an option but had to be scheduled ahead of time.)

After a long day they headed back to the hotel and then enjoyed dinner at Longhorn (my steak loving boy was in heaven) and then were up bright and early on Sunday.

There were two tents set up on Sunday morning - one for a Protestant service and one for a  Catholic service.  Peter was excited that they were able to go to the Catholic service onsite without having to spend time going to find a church for Mass. 

They watched a battle on the East Cavalry field and then saw Pickett's Charge which was the last battle.  And luckily they were able to get out ahead of all the traffic and made it home before 10:00 PM on Sunday night.

They were sunburned and tired but they had a great time.  Here are a few pictures they took:

At one point during the weekend Sarah said wistfully, "It might have been interesting to go with them..."

And almost immediately after she said that, Peter sent me this picture in a text with the caption, "The Confederate troops are coming onto the battlefield."

I showed it to Sarah and she exclaimed, "I am soooooo glad we aren't there!" And then when we heard they spent three hours on an audio/car tour we both knew we made the right decision to stay at home.  :)

But don't worry about us girls, on Saturday we went to her favorite store at the mall - Altar'd State, had lunch at Chick-Fil-A, went to Target and Marshall's and then headed home.  We went to Mass on Saturday night (so we could sleep in on Sunday) and had a nice dinner together at 2520 Tavern and Italian Ice afterwards at a new shop that just opened up. 

Then on Sunday we went out to lunch with my parents, brother and uncle and then we headed to the farmer's market and picked up these beautiful flowers for TEN DOLLARS!  (If you live near me, it is totally worth the drive to Sandy Ridge Road to get a gigantic bouquet for TEN DOLLARS!) We also got some goat cheese and and some cheese cake.  You've gotta love the farmer's market!

This picture of the flowers is the only one I got the whole weekend:

I guess we were having too much fun to even take a selfie!

And that was our weekend.  We split up and each of us had a really great time! 

Friday, July 6, 2018

7 Quick Takes

It's Friday.  It's been a while since I've posted. It sounds like I need to do Seven Quick Takes!

1. I'm sitting here at the Honda dealership while my car is being worked on.  The driver's side door lock no longer works.  Apparently I need a new actuator.  I went for a couple of months using the old fashioned key-in-the-lock method to get my door to lock but what a pain.  Also after having done that for a while, my key actually feels like it is going to fall apart at any moment and the last thing I need is my key stuck in the lock or the ignition because it broke off from the fob.

2. Sarah complained on Monday morning of a sore throat. I didn't think anything of it because I had a mild sore throat several weeks ago that went away after a couple of days. She woke up on Tuesday morning with a low grade fever and basically just stayed in bed all day.  She woke up on Wednesday and said her throat was really sore. However, her fever was gone and it was the Fourth of July so I couldn't take her to the doctor.  On Wednesday night though she told me that she had red spots on her throat and the roof of her mouth.  OH CRAP!

I took her to the doctor yesterday morning and the PA took one look at her throat and announced, "She's got HERPANGINA!"  Sarah looked over at me and her eyes were huge!  If she had been a cartoon character she would have looked like this:

 I must have given the PA a look too because she immediately said it's not herpes but hand, foot and mouth disease and that older kids typically only get the ulcers in their mouth and not on their hands and feet.   Since it's viral, there's nothing to do except take Tylenol and wait for the ulcers to heal.  Sarah's bummed out because it hurts to eat but we did get a good laugh though that the medical name of the disease sounds like herpes of the vagina. 

3.  Peter and I picked up all the trash left in the yard from the fireworks and then headed to the dump to get rid of all the trash and all the packaging the fireworks came in.  While we were out he suggested we stop at Sheetz and get Sarah one of her favorite coffee drinks to make her feel better.


Sometimes my kids can be really sweet to each other. Sometimes.

4. I wanted to share this yummy salad dressing recipe.  It's a Pampered Chef recipe that came on the side of the PC Measure, Mix, and Pour I purchased years ago.  If you are looking for a light Asian dressing this one is for you:

Pampered Chef Asian Dressing

Combine the following:

1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 T. soy sauce
2 t. sugar (I always use Splenda)
1 pressed garlic clove
1/4 t. ground ginger
3/4 cup vegetable oil

I made a tasty little salad for lunch the other day.  I topped spinach leaves with this dressing, goat cheese,  and cashews.  Yum!

I also like to use this dressing when I'm sauteing sugar snap peas.  All the Cotells approve of that dish when I make it.  Finding a vegetable they will all eat is hard to do.  Much less one they enjoy!

5.  Dan and Peter are heading to Gettysburg this afternoon.  One of Peter's Christmas gifts was tickets to the reenactments they have going on there this weekend and he and Dan are definitely looking forward to seeing all the action.  Every year when we go to the Cape, we take the western route to get there and pass by the signs for Gettysburg.  Dan always sighs wistfully and says, "It would be really nice to visit there one day......"

Peter and Dan are happy to be going this weekend and Sarah and I are very happy that they will be watching the reenactments without us!

6.Wally is a very bad cat!  He knocked a pitcher that I was using as  vase off a dresser and broke the handle off it:

He also knocked some real flowers off another table and got water all over the leather chair and the floor.  BAD KITTY!  No one (except me) cares about all of his indiscretions.  They continue to think he can do no wrong.  Peter text me all of us this picture just yesterday when he found Wally napping in the empty laundry basket:

 7.  We have some gorgeous tomato plants with loads of green tomatoes on them.  We are impatiently waiting for them to turn red.  The first few that turned red had blossom end rot and we could not eat them.  :(  Hopefully we have fixed the problem - epsom salt - and we can get some juicy red tomatoes sooner rather than later.  I really need a good BLT!

Happy Friday, everyone!  I hope you have a fun weekend!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 27

Oh my goodness!  I haven't posted since last week's Thankful Thursday.  I haven't really been that busy.  Mostly just swim practice, errands, gym.  Just regular life.  Regardless, here's just a few of the things I'm thankful for this week.

1.  Family, friends,food, fireworks, and the Fourth of July.  We invited my family and Jennifer's family over to celebrate yesterday.  We had a simple menu of a few easy dips (guacamole, spinach and artichoke dip, and jalapeno popper dip)and hot dogs with all the toppings, baked beans, corn salad, watermelon salad, and hash brown casserole.  And then everyone brought a dessert. 

After dinner we set off a ton of fireworks!  They were really good too now that we know which ones to buy!

And isn't Dan adorable (disregard my crazy brother's photo bomb!) in the shirt the kids and I got him?  Wally For President!

2.  The newspaper - on time!  We have had issues with our newspaper delivery person for weeks now.  My husband (and according to the Facebook community page many others as well) have been emailing and calling to complain about the late or undelivered papers.  They appear to have finally gotten a new delivery person!  I was so excited the other morning that I snapped this picture:

Dan really enjoys reading the newspaper before he leaves for work so he is very thankful for this new person!

3. America!  I guess I'm still feeling all the 4th of July feels but I love my country and I am very thankful for it.  It's not perfect but I still think it's the best country in the world.

4. Simple arrangements.  Look at this cute flower arrangement.  I saw a similar one online and tried to replicate it.  It's not perfect but it's a cute way to do something alittle different with a grocery store bouquet. I am always thankful for fresh flowers and cute ways to arrange them.

5. Front porch time.  My parents have a great front porch - it's wide and long and there's a swing and lots of rockers and we spend a lot of time out there with them when it's not too hot.  Our porch is much smaller.  When we moved in we put two rocking chairs on it but later removed those and put in the swing.  It's not ideal but the other night all four of us hung out on the steps and swing from after a late dinner until bedtime.  The cats even came out there with us.  It was a perfect way to spend a lazy summer evening with the ones I love the most.

What are you all thankful for this week?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 26

It's Thursday and here are just a few of the things I'm thankful for this week:

1.  I got my Blogger comments back in email!  If you aren't a blogger then you are probably scratching your head.  Previously any time someone would leave a comment in the blog comment section below, I would get an email with that comment.  And if the commenters included their email address, I could respond.  BUT - something happened a few weeks ago an no one (not just me) was getting their comments via email.  You had to manually go back to the blog post and look in the comments section and you had no way of responding to comments.

I kept putting it on my to-do list to figure out what was going on (aka - Google it and see if someone else had figure out how to correct the problem.) But I never got around to it.  Yesterday, however, Gigi, another blogger I read regularly posted the fix to the problem and yay!  Now my comments are coming back to me in email.  I'm very happy!  Thank you Gigi!

And a cool side note about Gigi - I can't remember exactly  how I found her blog but we read and follow a lot of the same people so I'm sure it's from that.  Any who her son actually graduated from Peter and Sarah's school AND briefly taught there as a substitute teacher this past year while he was looking for a permanent teaching job.  It really IS a small world after all...

2. Dan made it home from his trip safe and sound last week.  He had other customer meetings this week but they were local so even though he got home late every night this week and missed another swim meet, at least he got to sleep in his own bed and we got to see him every night for a little bit.

3. I finally convinced Peter to see my hair stylist since he actually has hair now.  The barber is fine when you are just getting a buzz with a razor but Peter has very thick hair and since he wants it a litle longer, he needs a stylist.  He balked for a while but after a hack job from a well meaning and sweet little old barber, he finally agreed.  His hair is looking much much better now and yesterday he got the best cut yet.  I love my hairstylist and am very thankful for her!

Our little garden is starting to produce! We are getting a good crop of cucumbers and there are quite a few peppers to be picked as well.  AND......we have a ton of green tomatoes on the vine.  I am getting very anxious to have a tomato sandwich in the very near future!

5. It was overcast all day on Tuesday and looked like it might rain at any minute for must of the day BUT we got our full swim meet in with zero delays and even though we were swimming a big team since it was only one team (and not two teams like the previous two meets), we managed to finish the entire meet at a reasonable time.  All the praise hands!!

6. Peter is making good progress on his Eagle Scout project thanks to my brother.  He is keeping him on task and making sure they stick to a reasonable schedule for getting the work completed.  Although I'm sure Peter would complain that the schedule is too strict but still...it's getting done and for that we are all thankful - even Peter!  ;)

What are you all thankful for this week?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The sauce is boss!

We love Chick-Fil-A up in here. But one of the things we love the most is the sauce.

We love it so much that we started making our own Chick-Fil-A sauce at home.  I played around with the ingredients from the list on the packet and after some  trail and error came up with a recipe that is pretty darn close to the original.

Chick-Fil-A Sauce:

1 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. mustard
1/3 c. Sweet Baby Rays
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. salt

Combine all the above ingredients!  Taste and make adjustments as necessary.  Sometimes I add a little extra salt and a little extra mustard if it's too sweet. Easy peasy!

I also love Chick-Fil-A's Avocado Lime Ranch dressing and have created a version that I make at home as well.  It is a little more involved because it involves the food processor but it's pretty easy too.

Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing:

1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. sour cream
1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix

Combine the above in the food processor until mixed well.  Then add the following:

1 ripe avocado
the juice of one lime
1/2 T. cumin

Pulse in food processor until everything is blended.  Taste.  Usually I add more cumin and more lime juice until I'm happy with the flavor.  This makes a thicker dip (I like my dressings and dips thick.)  If you want it a little more pour-able then add a little milk and pulse.  Repeat until it's the consistency you like. 

That was pretty easy too!  Wasn't it?


Monday, June 25, 2018

All that work and we still aren't done!

On Friday night we headed to the pool for the first of five Food Truck Fridays.  The food truck that was there was serving chicken and waffles, chicken wings, chicken sandwiches, and fried fish. 

The food was tasty  and we had a good time hanging out with Jennifer's family.  I love it when we have Friday night plans because that always seems to make the weekend feel longer.

On Saturday morning after Dan got back from his run we were discussing what to do (accomplish).  I have mentioned before that I would love to paint our garage floor with that concrete fleck paint and repaint the walls in the garage.  The walls are all marked and dinged up from years of bikes and rakes and other garage miscellany being tossed up against them. 

So Dan headed to YouTube to watch garage floor painting tutorials and determined that to properly clean, seal, paint, and top coat the garage floor would take a minimum of 5 days with all the different steps and drying time included.  I considered everything that properly painting the garage floor would involve and decided that I would be perfectly happy with just repainting the walls.

So at 10:45 on Saturday morning we headed to Lowes to get paint and supplies.  Our garage has very high ceilings and after surveying the situation and factoring in our late start time we determined that we were only going to have time to clear out one of the walls and paint it.  The other three walls would have to wait.

So in the heat of the day (it was in the 90s this weekend) we moved the garage refrigerator and the two shelves from the wall we were going to paint.  I had to clean all the baseboards because they were quite dusty and Dan got to work on wiping the dirt from the walls.  Garages are dusty and dirty , y'all!

Then we started taping the baseboards and the door frame and THEN we got to work painting.  We eventually finished by about 6:00.  Then on Sunday afternoon we removed the tape, tossed out all the junk from the shelves that we no longer used or needed, dusted the shelves, and put everything back in it's place.

That one wall looks really good but the other three still need to be done and I'm not sure when we will get to them.  We are heading to South Caroline next Saturday to get fireworks so next weekend is out.  Maybe in two weeks we can tackle another wall.  In the meantime I'm just going to enjoy my one nice pristine garage wall and ignore the other three!

And since I hate to put up a post without a picture, here's one of Wally watching the hummingbirds:

I think he's making dinner plans!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Weekly miscellany...

 As I mentioned yesterday, we joined a little gym.  It's a 24/7 place.  We have a code and we can go any time we like.  It has two treadmills, two bikes, two elipicatcal  machines and one each of all the typical weight machines and free weights.  Like I said it's small. BUT - it's only 2 minutes from the house and it is cheap.

The only reason we joined is because Peter said he wanted to "get buff" this summer and Sarah has been beggggggggggggggggggging me for almost a year to get her a treadmill.  This seemed like a good solution - cheap gym near the house which Jennifer's family already belongs to means Peter and Colton can meet their summer goal to "get buff" and Sarah and Cheyanne can run on the treadmill until their little hearts are content.

I have been taking them after morning swim practice and while we are there, I do 20 to 30 minutes of cardio and then the weight machines.  Like I said yesterday, I have no great dreams of huge weight loss or lots of muscles but it feels good to be moving this old body and perhaps I'll see a little change.

3. Yesterday when I was watering the plants, I noticed this:

I immediately removed them:

And stepped on them:

And then I panicked when I saw the milky subtanced thinking what if these are hummingbird eggs.  Even though I knew that hummingbird eggs wouldn't be made of what appeared to be mud.

I immediately googled it and discovered that these did not look anything like hummingbird eggs.  I felt much better. Then I proceeded to google "what insect has a mud-like ball looking nest" and that's when I discovered that these were Potter Wasp nests.  And then I didn't feel so bad for stomping on them.  Ain't nobody got time for wasps.

Dan has been gone all week and will be home this evening.  Our pool is starting something new this summer - Food Truck Friday Nights.  So we will hopefully be spending the evening at the pool eating delicious food from a food truck.

Have a great weekend!