photo p1_zpsc8a7232f.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p2_zpse73671a0.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p3_zps456abd62.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p5_zps95486d0f.png  photo j2_zpsc3f43514.png  photo p4_zps481d5f13.png

Monday, December 11, 2023

My new favorite cookie!

Last week, a co-worker had the idea that we should all bring in cookies for another coworker who has been going through a hard time lately.  It was a lovely idea but I tend to have Grinch-like qualities when I feel like I have too much to do and not enough time to do it - like right now, since it's Christmas.

But I took a step back and decided it was a very nice thing to do (a very Christmasy thing to do, in fact) and I could find the time to make some cookies.

Once I put myself in the right frame of mind (more kind and giving and less grumpy and frowny), I had to decide what kind of cookies to make.  Chocolate and peppermint are my favorite holiday flavors so I knew that was the route I wanted to take.  Google led me to the Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies.

They did not disappoint!  They were easy to make and so delicious and I knew I had to share the recipe  here.  I did make one minor tweak which I'll list below.  I will definitely be making these again and every time I make them, I will  always remember that I did a nice thing when I felt like I didn't have time and somehow ended up with plenty of time.  Isn't that how it usually works?


  • 1 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c.unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp.baking soda
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 1/4sticks (10 tablespoons) salted butter, softened
  • 1 c.sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp.vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract)
  • 3/4 c.semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 oz.milk chocolate, chopped
  • Crushed peppermint candies, for topping


    1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl; set aside.
    2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
    3. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in two batches, beating until just combined after each addition. Mix in the chocolate chips.
    4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough and roll into smooth round balls. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
    5. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊. Bake the cookies until just set, 9 to 11 minutes. (Don’t over bake!) Let cool slightly, then press the handle of a wooden spoon into the center of each cookie to make a small indentation. Remove the cookies to a rack to cool completely.
    6. Meanwhile, melt the milk chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon melted chocolate into the center of each cookie and top with crushed peppermints. Let set.
The chocolate in the center made these extra yummy!  If you like chocolate and peppermint, you must make these!!!!!

Friday, December 1, 2023

Our Thanksgiving

 Better late than never is my new blog motto! Now that it's Advent, let me tell you about Thanksgiving...

The kids both made it home for Thanksgiving. Sarah rolled in on Monday evening and Peter rolled in on Tuesday afternoon (I think. That seems like ages ago.)  Joe joined us for dinner on Wednesday and that was really nice. I like it when my dinner table is full even though I don't necessarily like to cook especially for non-family members.

Both kids brought with them head colds in addition to Peter's allergy to our cats.  So there was lots of sneezing and hacking and general malaise.  But we still managed to have a nice time.  

We celebrated Thanksgiving at my mom's with my brother and Jennifer and her family.  Again - I love a full table so it was really nice.  Before lunch, we took our Christmas card photo and I think it turned out very nice considering it was kind of a last minute thing.  For the last couple of years, we have gone to Old Salem on Sunday after Thanksgiving with my brother as photographer.  But Peter had plans on Saturday at school so we had to do them on Thursday.  Sometimes you have to pivot.  (And now you are all thinking about Ross and that's leading you to think about Matthew Perry, may he rest in peace.)

We were up bright and early (for us anyway) on Friday morning and headed to the mountains.  We went to Long's Tree Farm.  We went there last year and were pleased with the selection and the speed with which we can get the tree. Some of the tree farms have Santa, hot chocolate, horses, etc. and those are usually packed.  We don't need those frills - just a nice fresh tree. We found the perfect one and were putting it on top of the Pilot in no time!

After we got the tree, we headed to New River Brewing and Smokehouse in nearby West Jefferson. There was a 45 minute wait so we did some shopping in the cute little shops on Main Street until I got the text that our table was ready. The beer was tasty and the food was delicious and then we headed home and started to decorate the tree.

We ate dinner and then watched "Plains, Trains, And Automobiles" with the kids and then I went to bed because I had to work Saturday morning. :( That's really the worst part of my job honestly.  I don't like working on the weekends.) Peter headed back to school because he had tickets to see NC State play UNC.  They won!  Yippeeee! 

Sarah hung out with her Basement Crew on Saturday night while Dan and I went to church when I got off work.  Then we had lunch on Sunday with mom and my brother and Sarah who was still feeling under the weather stayed until Monday morning.  That's the  nice thing about being an hour from your school.  She feels better now but I have whatever she had!  Oh well.  From what I can tell, it's going around.

I've been keeping busy with work and online shopping and I'm trying not to get too far behind with my Christmas list. Considering it's only December 1st, I feel like I've got a good start on everything.  So maybe in the next week or so I can get everything wrapped up.  But I do believe if you go back and search the annals of this blog, you will see that I say something similar to this every year.  I'm nothing, if not predictable!

I did remember to order new Advent candles and I have my wreath up and ready to light at dinner this evening so that's making me feel like I'm prepared and can do anything. 

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and I hope your Advent is blessed. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Twenty-One Is...

Happy 21st birthday to Peter.  I can't believe how quickly we've gotten here and we are.  

I was thankful to have both Peter and Sarah home this weekend so we were able to properly celebrate him even though Dan is out of the country.  Dan will be home Friday and he's flying through Raleigh so they will meet for dinner and a beer to celebrate this milestone!

When the kids were little I always did a birthday post for them but stopped when they hit 18.  Being 21 feels like it deserves a special post to so here we go.

21 is...

Lazy if it's something he doesn't want to do but will go all in 100% if it's something he's interested in
Easily angered if he feels like he or a friend has been wronged 
A mama's boy (but in a positive way - like that boy really loves his mama. Lucky me!)
A sports fanatic (especially football, baseball, basketball, and hockey)
Animal lover (it's unfortunate that he has allergies) 
21 loves to...

Hang out with friends
Cheer on his favorite sports teams (NC State, Carolina Panthers, Boston Red Sox, Carolina Hurricanes)
Play his guitar
Play video games
Craft the perfect Spotify playlist(which thankfully now is full of classic rock instead of rap)
Play poker
Take long drives through the city and explore
Grill and cook 
Watch movies (He has quite the list on Letterboxd)
21 has my heart!
Happy Birthday, Peter 



Saturday, November 11, 2023

Seven Quick Takes

I thought I'd hop on here real quick and do a proof of life post!  :)  HA!

I am still alive and kicking but I don't ever feel like I have anything to post on the blog.  Since it's Friday. I thought to get the old blogging juices flowing I would do a Seven Quick Takes like I used to do back in the day. 

So, here they are in no particular order:

1. We have two maple trees in our front yard that we planted shortly after we built this house in 2006.  I'm guessing they were planted in 2007. When we got them from the nursery the name on the tag was October Glory! We were so excited to have tree with flaming red leaves in October.  But every October we would be disappointed.  The leaves would slowly start to turn at the END of October but were always a darkish brown red.  And most of the time, the tree would lose it's leaves before they had even turned.  Dan was always the most disappointed in this and every fall would bemoan the fact that our trees were never a bright beautiful red in October as the name had promised.

He has been in Ireland for the last two weeks and will hopefully be home next Friday.  And I know it's November but our October Glories are really beautiful right now.  I sent him this picture to show him how pretty they are:

I snapped this as I was backing out of the garage and thought the trees looked really pretty.  Perhaps they should have been named November Glories!

2. Both of the kids will be home for part of the weekend!  I'm so excited!  I love it when they are home. Even if they both have other plans and are in and out all weekend, I'll be content.  Having someone in the house with me other than the two cats will be a nice change.

3. Work is going well.  I think I'm finally getting the hang of everything I'm doing there.  And every day is different so it's keeping me on my toes.  It's a clothing boutique and all of the ladies that work there are real fashionistas.  I am not so it's a good thing I work mostly behind the scenes so I can wear my regular boring clothes.  I am hoping that some of their good style will wear off on me but  I've been there almost 3 months and it hasn't happened yet, so it's not looking good! 

4. If you know me, you know I am NOT crafty but about a month ago, I painted this after watching a quick tutorial on TikTok.

I loved how it turned out so much that I framed it and it's part of my fall decor.  Well, it's perched among some fake pumpkins...that's about as much fall decor as I have around here.

Anyway, I was so inspired by this (and my obvious talent) that I decided to paint an abstract angel. I had seen in our gift shop some abstract angel art and thought "that looks so easy! I'm sure I could do that and save myself some big bucks."

So I found a YouTube tutorial and got to work.  Y'all.  It turned out so very bad that I'm almost embarrassed to show you.  

But I can't mention it and not show you how horrible it is. So, here you go:

It looks like a child painted this!  It's so horrible that it makes me laugh and is currently being displayed in the kitchen until Dan and the kids can see it and we can all laugh at it together.  For reference, this is what it was supposed to look like:

I have since found several other tutorials of abstract angels that I like better but I am currently too lazy to attempt.  Maybe I will give it another shot next week.  

5. When I'm not trying to become the next Picasso, I've been watching Season 5 of Love Is Blind. It was released in September but Dan was home and knew I wouldn't be able to watch it.  Then he went on a trip and I forgot all about it.  Then he went on another trip and I was overjoyed when it popped up on Netflix.  This season is all over the place but I'm loving every minute of it!

6. I attempted to start my Christmas shopping. I've gotten two presents and have stalled out. I have been trying to get online after work to get inspired but inspiration has yet to strike.  Perhaps it's because it's been in the 80s here this week.  It's hard to get in the mood to shop for Christmas when you are literally sweating. We have our work Christmas party on Sunday evening so I'm hoping that gets me in the Christmas spirit!

7. It's now Saturday morning. Sarah came home while I was writing this post.  She and I went to Chipotle for dinner (I don't have a lot of groceries around when Dan isn't home.) Then we came back and watched quite a few episodes of Schitt's Creek.  So it was the absolute perfect Friday night if you ask me!  

I woke this morning to a text from Dan to the family group chat.  Some times when has to spend the weekends in Ireland he has to work but this weekend wasn't one of them. So he headed to the town of Derry to explore and he sent us this:

He said it was a beautiful day in Ireland and he's not sure what he's looking at.  :) 

He's gotten very lucky with the weather in Ireland this spring and summer.  It's been very sunny and dry.  This fall though is a different story.  They've had massive amounts of rain and lots of flooding where he is and many of the roads and have closed and quite a few people haven't been able to make it in to work due to all of this.  I'm happy that he's got nice weather for the weekend!

And with that, I'm out.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

UNC Charlotte Parents Weekend.

 This past weekend we visited Sarah at UNC Charlotte for Parent Weekend!  

We got there on Saturday morning around 11:30 and met Sarah at our hotel. She hopped into our car and we went to get lunch.  We ended up at Landmark Diner.  She's been there several times with friends and who doesn't love a good diner on a Saturday morning?

After eating, we headed back to campus and dropped some things off to her apartment and then we headed to the football game. We were playing Navy and it was such a horrible game.  At the end of the first half the score was 0-0 if that tells you anything.  At one point I told Dan it felt like we were watching two very bad high school teams play. 

UNCC ended up losing 14-0 but we still had fun with our girl! It had been raining that morning but it cleared up in plenty of time for the game, there was lots of good people watching to do, and even with the loss, it was still a good afternoon.


After the game, we headed to Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas and then went back to our hotel to check in.  The hotel is about a block from the light rail so we hopped on and headed uptown.  We ended up in South End at Hawkers, a restaurant that Sarah had been wanting to try.  We got there a little before 8:00 pm and put our name on the list.  

It was going to be a 45 minute wait so we walked through the Nebel's Alley Street Market. This was a cute little alley/side stree where they had live music and vendors set up selling their goods.  It was such a nice night out and I enjoyed the whole vibe of the market.  After checking out the market we waited for our table.

Hawkers is an Asian fusion  restaurant where you can get small plates to share or larger plates for yourself.  Sarah and Dan don't like to share food so we got out own plates.  I think it would be fun to go back and get a bunch of things to share.  We did share the Roti which was a Malaysian flatbread with a curry dipping sauce.  It was delicious - so light and flaky! For diner I got the beef bulgogi and a side of jasmine rice.  They both got some sort of ramen.


Dan was not excited about using chopsticks but he did it anyway and was pretty successful.  You could ask for forks if you wanted but we all managed the chopsticks just fine!

After dinner we went right next door to Jeni's Ice Cream.  When we go to Hawker's there was a very long line at the ice cream shop but when we finally got out of dinner, the line was shorter and Sarah and I just had to have some ice cream.  It was so good!

Then we headed back to the light rail and waited for the next train.

The next morning we got up and headed to campus to just walk around.  I love checking things out on my old campus. 

Then we headed to lunch at a Mexican restaurant which is in the same space that the Rainbow Deli occupied when I was in school there.  I had so many good memories of the Rainbow Deli.  They had awesome live music on the weekends (Dennis Davis was my favorite!) and great beer specials like bring your own mug and they would fill it for a couple of dollars.  You should have seen the size of some of the mugs people would bring in! So even though the restaurant has changed, it was still nice being in the same spot!  

After lunch we dropped Sarah off at her apartment and gave her a big hug and we headed back home. But I won't have to go long before seeing her again because her fall break is next Monday and Tuesday so she should be home at some point this weekend!

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

NC State Parents Weekend.

Dan's travel schedule has been crazy this year so when I bought tickets for the NC State Parents Weekend football game, it was touch and go if we could make it.  But the clouds parted and the heavens opened and the angels began to sing and we were able to go!  Now, please note that he left for Ireland on Sunday morning but will be back Friday night.  So we were able to make it to Raleigh AND his trip is a short one.  We are considering this a win-win. 

Interesting side note - as we were driving home from Raleigh Dan calculated that September was the only month so far this year that he has been home for the entire month.  That's too much travel if you ask me.

For some weird reason, the Parent Weekend football game was a Friday night game.  Boo. Hiss.  Dan and I both had to take off work to attend but it was worth it.

We got to Peter's apartment around 1:00 and picked him up.  We headed to Char-Grill for lunch.  It's a hamburger joint that's been in Raleigh since 1971.  Doesn't it look like it's been around that long?

You walk up to the window and order and then if you are lucky there will be a spot to eat at one of two picnic tables on the side of the building. The burgers were delicious!


We wanted to make sure we got to eat there because soon they will be tearing down this little building and the little service station next to it to put up a 20 story building.  But a new Char-Grill will go into one of the shops on the ground floor of the building.  It won't be the same though so Dan and I were excited to make it here before they tore this down.

After lunch we had to go shopping for some black NC State gear as it was Black Out.  The whole student section was in black and Dan and I wanted to be too!  We went to the Red and White Shop and ever parent who came to campus was there. We got some gear and also went to the campus bookstore to see what they had.  

After that, we dropped Peter off, checked in to our hotel, changed into our new shirts and headed to the fraternity tailgate.  That was an  experience.  There is a special parking lot designated for all the fraternities.  They all set up big tents, giant speakers. There's cornhole and die throwing and dancing.  Lots of dancing. (Oh yeah, and there's beer.)  Oddly absent was any food though.  :) 

We stayed there for a while, met the parents of one of Peter's best friends and tried to talk to them. The music from all the different tailgates was so loud we literally could not hear a word any one was saying.  It was still fun though and I'm glad we go to go.  


We left Peter and headed to the stadium. He had a student ticket and was sitting in the student section and we were not. At halftime, Peter left his friends and joined us at our seats.  The people sitting in front of us left at halftime so that worked out great.  

Bill Cowher (head coach of the Pitsburgh Steelers and former NC State all star) was inducted into the Ring of Honor and was at the game.  We happened to be sitting in the section where they put his name.

We lost the game but we still had lots of fun hanging out with our boy.

On Saturday morning we slept in and then headed downtown to kill some time.  There was a blue grass festival going on.  The streets were blocked off and they had multiple stages set up, craft vendors and so many food trucks.  

So many people...

I was trying to get a picture of the Capital House which you can see but it's under construction so the dome is covered.  Oh well...

We left the festival and headed to the frat house where the boys were hosting a cookout for the parents.  Peter's friend, Cal, smoked 3 giant pork butts and they were delicious.  He did such a good job.  The pork was moist and flavorful.  We were actual able to talk to his parents this time and could actually hear what they were saying!

Peter was excited to show us the composite!  (Yes, his fraternity is small but he likes that about it.  He actually knows everyone in his fraternity.  Some pledge classes in other fraternities are as big as Peter's entire fraternity.)

After the cookout, we said our goodbyes and headed home.  It was nice to see Peter in his element, with his friends, enjoying his life.  And I am so glad we got to go!

Monday, September 18, 2023

Happy birthday to me!

Wednesday, September 13th was my birthday!  I turned FIFTY-FOUR!  I have that in all caps because, wow! That's old!  I know I've said it on here before but I still feel 21 in my mind but my body tells me 54 is that accurate number.  

I was off work on Wednesday and so was my brother.  He joined me on my errands and treated me to lunch at Yamas.  Yamas is a local restaurant that is very similar to Cava but I like it much better. 

My go to order is always the 1/2 grain (basmati rice) and 1/2 salad (mixed greens is what I usual go for) bowl.  For my protein I always chose the fig and chicken salad and then I top it with marinated chick peas, pickled red onions, picked red cabbage, feta, tzatziki, and Greek vinaigrette.  I also get a few of their fresh pita chips on the side.  PERFECTION!

When I got home, I was surprised to find a beautiful arrangement of flowers on the kitchen island. 

The card read "Happy Birthday Mom and Dad! Love, Peter and Sarah."  Seeing these flowers on the counter literally brought tears to my eyes.  I immediatley texted a picture to the family group chat and thanked both kids.  Then I separately thanked Sarah, because let's face it, she's the one that orchestrated the flowers.  And I love that she included Dan because he turned 57 on the 12th. 

On Wednesday evening was our regularly scheduled Cistas get together.  (The Cistas are my old MOPS group and we've been getting together monthly since 2012 after we stopped attending MOPS) We were actually celebrating Christy's 50th but the ladies also made me feel extra special on my boring 54th. 


I worked on Thursday and was greeted with a host of Happy Birthday wishes, cake, and presents!  I was not expecting that as I've only been working 5 weeks.  So that was such a nice surprise!

I got home from work on Friday evening and Peter came in right behind me.  I cooked Philly Cheesesteaks for dinner (one of Peter's favorite things I make) and then we headed to the Bishop Football game.  Y'all.  It was so bad.  We were playing the team that won the conference last year and it did not go well.  We left after the first quarter we were losing so bad.  But that's the nice thing about not having any current players or students.  You can leave without feeling guilty!  :)

When we got home we watched some Friday night college football and I went to bed early and left the boys to their games.  On Saturday, Peter and Dan did yard work and I did housework and Peter watched the NC State Football game.  

Then my sweet Sarah came home and we all went to Mass together.  After Mass we had dinner at Twisted Pine.  The Coal Pit (where I went with my friends on Wednesday) was hosting their final concert of the summer so we headed there.  We listened to Maiden Voyage - an Iron Maiden tribute band - for about an hour.  If you recall, Iron Maiden was Peter's very first concert. (Look how young and teenagery Peter looks in those pictures.) 

I made everyone take a selfie as we were leaving. I really appreciate the family for putting up with me. :)

A Guns and Roses Tribute band was playing after but we didn't stay.  I would have loved to see that but maybe next time.  We headed home and all hung out together.  Sarah did her nails, we watched more football, had some drinks, and before I knew it, it was almost midnight.  Of course, the old lady had to go to bed but everyone was proud of me for staying up so late. :)

On Sunday we had our BirthAversery Lunch where we officially celebrated our anniversary and both of our birthdays.  The food was delicious and so was the beautiful cake my mom made. 

 But the best part of all was the FULL TABLE!!  I love it when we are all together. 

After lunch, Peter headed back to Raleigh and Dan and I went with Sarah to get new tires on her car.  Then she headed back to Charlotte and Dan and I watched the Patriots lose.   It's going to be a long season.  The Panthers play tonight so I'm hopeful that at least one of our professional teams will win in week 2.

Dan has a ton of vacation to use before the end of the year or he will lose it so he's taking today off.  We will be running errands and just hanging out together - which is my very favorite thing.  💕