Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Being a local tourist...

Do you ever play local tourist?  You know, stop into the little spots in your area that others might seek out if they were there on a visit?  We have moved often, and the one thing we have repeatedly regretted is not taking advantage of our "local" points of interest.  It seems whether your grew up in an area, or are in the throws of getting settled somewhere new, it is very easy to overlook some great experiences just around the corner.  Last Saturday, DS2 and I decided to be tourist in our own town and went to the War Between the States Museum.  Granted, it is a little museum on a tiny little street,  but for an 8 year old that loves all things military it was wonderful! 
I think it especially fun to explore with him because he doesn't
have a set of expectations  (you know those we seem to
develop as we have more life experience)
and everything is an adventure and pretty exciting!
We knew it was going to be a fun visit when
we saw the joggling board on the front porch.
The museum is filled with all kinds of interesting
artifacts dating to the time of the War Between the States.
There were many cases of items that had been found in excavation around what was formerly the Florence Stockade
The burial of prisoners from the Stockade began what is now the
We also were able to see a  miniature replica of the  Stockade 
 and learn about the conditions that prisoners of war had to endure.
It was really a fun little adventure, which was educational and very economical.   DS2 had a great time and came away feeling a little more connected to the past and also to our present!  We are definitely going to be spending more time as local tourists and taking advantage of all the great things our town offers.

So, why don't you become a tourist in your town?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekend Reading

As the summer begins its slow fade, I am still trying to grab every moment, and for me reading and summer go hand in hand.  A couple of days ago, I finished Pat Conroy's South of Broad and as I was wandering around the bookstore trying to determine what I would read next, my eyes fell on a copy of Harper Lee's famous To Kill a Mockingbird

I swear, I had to read this in school at some point (isn't that a law or something????) but I don't remember a thing about it if I did.  Maybe it has always just been one of those books you knew about, whether you had read it or not?  I don't know, but some how I have managed to miss this piece of great southern (actually, not just southern) fiction. 

Though, as I am reading it, I can't help but wonder...how can it be called fiction as it is the life experience of so many who were reared in this region.  So in honor of the 50th Anniversary of this wonderful piece of literature I am reading it (and loving it!!!).

Join the Celebration! Read more about the 50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fall must be close, because Football is already here!

Tonight there was a clear indication that fall is fast approaching.  It wasn't the thermometer, or colored leaves... it was the home opener for DS1's Junior Varsity Football Team.  Tomorrow night will usher in the opening game for the varsity squad.  Football and fall...they go together.
I am actually surprised to have a football player.  My DS1 has been an avid baseball player for many years, playing almost year round. But this year he didn't want to play fall baseball...he wanted to try out for the football team.  This is a kid who was in a new town, going into the 8th grade in a new school and had never played football before... and he decided to try out.  I have always been impressed by his ability to muster the courage to walk out on a field, with kids he doesn't know, and fight for his place in the line up.  He did, and he made it. 
Honestly, 95% of our fall Friday nights, over the past 4 years, have been spent at high school football games...just not watching the players so much.  We were focused on our sweet little girl on the sideline waving her pom poms...the football game was secondary to us....not so anymore.
I am learning a lot about how little I know and understand about these epic battles on the grassy plain.  Football surely appears to work out so much of male jocking for position and the search for an answer to that almost exclusive male question of "Do I have the right stuff?".   I just hope this Mama has the stomach to handle it all...rarely do you see an ambulance sitting outside of a baseball field "just in case". I am just saying.

"Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble this football.”
~John Heisman

ESAB and American Chopper

There is major excitement and hub-bub around my house today about - of all things - motorcycles.  My DS1 is into mechanic type things and for a long while has really liked American Chopper on TLC. Now, though, he feels a personal attachment because tonight is the night when the ESAB bike will make it's TV debut.    ESAB announced its partnership with Orange County Choppers earlier this summer.  See the bike details here: ESAB Chopper

You can read all about it here:  ESAB announces partnership with Orange County Choppers.   

So, y'all tune in tonight to TLC at 9:00!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Have you checked your calendar today?

In case you didn't know, it is exactly 4 months until Christmas!  It will be upon us with all its majesty and misery before we know what happened.

Just for the record, I love Christmas.  Actually, I love all holidays with the giant holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas just about taking the cake for excitement in my household.  I have found, for us to have a memorable and not too miserable holiday season, it does take preparation and forethought - translated to mean: WE HAVE TO HAVE A PLAN

Getting shopping  and decorating done early helps in that context for my family.  I like to get all the "have to dos" done early so we can fully enjoy the "want to dos".   It feels impossible to enjoy the deeper meaning of the season if we are stressed out and running to and fro. I have to start planning - a bit at a time - so I can enjoy things like baking cookies with my children, or going to see Santa, or spending a relaxing night at church listening to a beautiful Christmas program (without that overwhelming feeling of dread that things are behind!).

I also don't like shopping under pressure and the December shopping season is just too high stakes for me!  I do like going to the mall and stores to enjoy the ambiance of the holidays.  I like to take advantage to the often great sales, but I want to do it at my luxury and not under the weight of "I have to get this or that". 

This year, we will be spending Christmas in our new home and our new town. We will be farther away from family than in recent years, so one thing DH and I have already done to reduce stress is that we have pulled out our calendar(s) and planned when we will travel during the holidays. We have also already communicated with our respective families our plans. Also, we have penciled in as many activities as we already have dates for (office parties, last day of school for the children, theatre holiday shows, etc.). These steps are a huge help and help to lower the stress and avoid hurt feelings during an already emotion holiday time.  

I am not exactly sure what the season will look like for us, but I know I want it to be a time of making wonderful family memories and celebrating God's greatest gift.  So, with 4 months to go, I am starting my list and will be checking it twice and watching out for who is naughty and who is nice.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fancy Pie Fascination...

My youngest son, DS2, has become fascinated with what he has labeled "fancy pies".  Apparently over the last few weeks, he began noticing lattice topped pies - everywhere.  Of course, he asked me if I knew how to make these pies.  The answer would be no.   When his sister came home for the weekend, he went into her room early on Saturday morning and asked if she had ever had any of these mysterious "fancy pies".  Anytime we have seen a photo of a "fancy pie" (there are many with the plethora of magazines sporting fall inspired covers currently on the newsstands!) he asks why my pies don't look like that.

It is enough to cause a little Mommy-Insecurity here! 

But, I am not a complete failure in his eyes... this afternoon we stopped at the bakery on the way home from school and I let him pick out a "fancy pie" for dessert.  He picked "fancy pie blueberry".

Stupid Tuesday!

Yes, gentle reader, today is Stupid Tuesday and I am the 1st Runner Up!  You see this morning after I dropped my boys off at school, I was going to do some errands before going home.  As I was driving, my car started to sputter, which when you drive a 17 year old car kind of makes you panic and immediately imagine major $$$ for repairs and then I noticed.....wait for it.....that I was out of gas.

You read that right, I was out of gas! How old am I???? 

Well, fortunately for me, I was able to run just one (pink) traffic light because if I stopped I knew I wasn't starting again- well, it was an emergency - and managed to get to a gas station.  Barely, as the car literally died as I came to a stop beside the gas pump.  The very fact that I actually got it to a gas station only makes me a Runner Up in the Stupid Tuesday contest....anyone else ready to take the Grand Prize?

Monday, August 23, 2010

September 7th won't be here soon enough...True Prep is Coming!

I just can't wait!!!!  September 7th....September 7th....September 7th shall be a very good day, indeed.

I am circling that day on my calendar. You will find me pulling out my Lilly Pulitzer tumblers (thank you Sarah at Sweet Carolina Girl), planting myself with a cool drink by the pool and doing nothing but eating up every word (well, except drive my boys to and from school)! 

It is going to be my own, personal mini vacay! How are you celebrating this long awaited gem?

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Tackling the New Season

Whether or not I was (am) ready  I have found myself in a new season of life.  It isn't a dark season, it is just a different season. 

In the last 6 months, my husband took a new job in a new state, my daughter graduated high school, we left a town that we loved and had lived in for the better part of 10 years, we left a church and church family that was second to none, we moved into a new town, we have a new-to-us house that needs a big dose of TLC, we took my baby girl off to college and left her there(!!!) and my boys started a new school.  Oh, and not to mention, I find myself basically living in a household full of males for the first time and far away from the majority of my girlfriends! Overall the changes are to be considered positive...but I am not really all on board with change, especially a lot of it!!!

The last few weeks, as we were preparing to take my daughter to college, have been -honestly- pretty hard.  Beyond the surface changes that have gone on, I have struggled with this new season deep down.  I don't feel old enough to send a child off into the world (albeit a college campus isn't exactly the world, but Mamas know what I mean).  I still see myself as the Mom of children...small children...but I don't have any of those anymore.  My youngest turns 9 in two weeks.  See, I liked having little ones under foot.  So, I am struggling to fit into my new season a bit.  I feel blessed by my life, but as I  look around, I am bit lost about where the next step is leading. 

We have been visiting churches in our area, and although they have all been nice we aren't sure if we have found the right one yet.  Because I am not plugged in right now, and I truly miss my Ladies Bible Studies, I have a book that I am going to start solo tomorrow.  It is Praying for Purpose for Women by Katie Brazelton.  It is laid out in a 60 Day format with a short study for each day.  I think it will be nice to spend some time in prayer over what exactly God is calling me to do in this new season of life. 

"...you are only a steward of the personality, roles, and talents He has entrusted to you."

~ Katie Brazelton in  Praying for Purpose for Women

Friday, August 20, 2010

Do you know what day it is? FOLLOW FRIDAY!!!

Yes, it is Friday again and I am all about Follow Friday!  I have found the best reads through this very cool blog hop.

Daphne at Flip Flops and Pearls  is co-hosting with Bethany at Maryland Pink and Green this week. Please make sure to stop by their blogs and say hello and thanks for organizing the blog hop.

Just like every Follow Friday, on today's blog hop you only need to link your blog to the list once and you can add it on either of the 2 blogs hosting the Follow Friday.

Your link will be visible on the list on both blogs throughout the week so a lot of people can find you!

Blog readers will see the same list on all of the blogs and will be able to "hop" from blog to blog. What a fun way to find new friends! If you have not joined previous weeks, be sure to add your blog to the list today. Even if you've already added your blog on another blog hop, add your name to the list today since every week is a new list.

Here's how to play:

1. Find new blogs to follow and be sure to follow the hostesses Daphne and Bethany) of the blog hop.

2. Be sure to follow someone who follows you and let them know that you found them through Follow Friday. You all know how much we love comments! :)

3. Tell your other blogger friends about Follow Friday and encourage them to join!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - Target Style!

One of my favorite things about Target is that they have great clearance sales.  I mean really GREAT ones.  I found this cute sundress today for a whopping $5.48!!! Yes, 5 dollars and 48 cents!  You just can't beat that. I do love finding fun clothing (you know the fun, trendy wear a few times clothing) for a steal.  Nothing makes my inner wanna-be-frugalista happier than some down right cheap retail therapy.

Of course, it is a bit longer on me because I am...uh, not tall. I think I was a descendant of a long line of elves!

**no endorsement paid for this posting
Edited to show you a photo of me wearing my $5.48 dress!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Happy Birthday...and 25 Years.

Today we are celebrating 2 momentous occasions!  It is my dear, sweet husband's (DH) birthday AND it is the 25th anniversary of the first time we went out!  How cool is that? 

Don't you just love this photo of us at my Senior Prom?  We were rocking the 80's to be sure!!!!

Happy Birthday, DH!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The 1st Day of School...

Today is the 1st Official Day of School for my boys.  I can't believe it, 3rd and 8th grade!!!  Here is a picture of DS2.  He had to wear a tie today because it was Chapel Day.  Normally he can wear his regular uniform which consists of polos and khakis.  Do you notice anything missing????  The missing thing would be photos of DS1.  Well, I guess he is getting even for my monogramming because he was having none of the 1st Day picture taking...phooey.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monogram Monday

Monogramming is easy, for girls...not so much for boys (well, little ones, but when they get bigger they get more difficult about it!).  My boys start school this week so last week I headed to the monogramming shop with some of their things...after I pried them out of my 13 year old son's hands.  See, he is 13.  AND apparently 13+ boy+monogramming aren't too fond of each other...who knew?  BUT, I will say monogramming and things returning home to their proper owners mix real well! 

My oldest DS had to have a new backpack this year. His old one was worn slap out!  He started carrying his last backpack at the beginning of 4th grade and now he is going into 8th.  It served him well. I am a believer in buying a great quality bag and having it last for years and years. This is the 1st time we have strayed away from L.L.Bean or Lands End for Backpacks. After we discovered L.L. Bean no longer offered the great stone washed canvas pack like his previous one (yes, he wanted one just like he had before), he decided he was looking for something a bit more...I don't even know. So here is his new backpack.  I am curious as to whether it will hold up to the wear and tear that a Middle School boy throws at it like the L.L. Bean ones.   I had to assure him that I wouldn't get his name monogrammed in large pink letters before he would even grudgingly let me take it. His monogram is placed on top between zippers so I don't think it will even be very visible...but it will assure him of which black backpack belongs to him out of the mountain of other black sports oriented backpacks.
One item I don't spend a lot of money on is lunch bags for my boys. My experience has been that it doesn't matter if you spend a great deal or get the cheapest one. In the life of boys it is going to be yucky and destroyed by the end of the year...or sooner.  No wiping it off or keeping it off the floor for boys...nope, just battery. So, I bought $3.99 lunch bags at Target. I chose to be subtle and used tone on tone thread so as not to offend the Middle Schooler's sense of propriety and decorum...heavens forbid.

What are y'all monogramming for the new school year?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I've Been Published!

Yes, I have!  No, I didn't write a book, but I did get to write about a book, which for me is probably much more fun than writing a book would be because I love, love, love reading! 

Last month I was blown away when Melia Berry of SHE Magazine contacted me and asked if I would write their August book review known as, "Chick Lit".  Even though we are new here, I was already familiar with the magazine.  It has been my GO-TO-GUIDE, because it is full of all kinds of great information about our new area and the great people that live here. Not to mention, it has been a super source for where the best locations for my much needed regular doses of retail therapy can be found! 

So, needless to say, I didn't have to be asked twice!  It is was a cool experience and I got to write about my favorite contemporary author, Charles Martin and his newest release, The Mountain Between Us....which, by the way, is a fantastic read! 

I have been pretty excited knowing I was going to be published in the August 2010 issue of SHE.  Thanks, SHE Magazine, y'all are the best! 

Click to enlarge (and continue to click to needed size) and read my review!

A Southern Belle's Ten Golden Rules

Ok, y'all lets have a little fun today. Since it is just about 825 degrees with 300% humidity outside, and I believe it is getting to the best of us, I thought it might be time to cool off and revisit one of my favorite little books
 A Southern Belle Primer or Why Princess Margret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa Gamma by Maryln Schwartz and get a little refresher on what is important! So get a nice big glass of iced tea, and enjoy:

"A Southern Belle's Ten Golden Rules

  1. Never serve pink lemonade at your Junior League committee meetings. It has Communist overtones.

  2. Always wear white when you walk down the aisle (even if it's for the third time).

  3. Never wear white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day. The only exception, of course, is if you're a bride. Bridesmaids, however, must never wear white shoes. Bridesmaids' shoes should match the punch.

  4. It doesn't matter if you marry a man who doesn't know the difference between a shrimp fork and a pickle fork; you can always teach him. Just make sure he can afford to buy you both.

  5. Never date your sorority sister's ex-husband until at least three years after the divorce. You might need her to write your daughter a Kappa Kappa Gamma recommendation one day. Just remember it's a lot easier to find a new man than it is to get your daughter into Kappa.

  6. Never marry a man whose mother and grandmother owned silver plate instead of real silver. He's not quality and he'll try to cheat you on the divorce settlement.

  7. It's never too soon to write a thank-you note. Some belles take the notes and a pen with them to a party. In the middle of the evening they go into the ladies' room and write a thank-you describing how much they enjoyed the dinner (naming specific items).  They then put the note in the mailbox as they leave.  The hostess receives it first thing in the morning. Sure this is compulsive, but you're going to have to be compulsive if you want to be president of Junior League.

  8. Never show your bosom before evening and never wear an ankle bracelet before anything. Girls who wear ankle bracelets usually end up twirling batons.  There has never been a baton twirler who became Miss America and there's certainly never been a baton twirler in Junior League.

  9. Never chew gum in public and never smoke on the street.

  10. Buy low. Sell high."
Oh, I just love you,Miss Schwartz! 

Oh and y'all ,summer is a state of mind (one enjoyed just as easily from in the conditioned air as outside!).

Schwartz, Maryln, A Southern Belle Primer, Or Why Princess Margaret will never be a Kappa Kappa Gamma, 1st ed., New York, New York, Doubleday Dell Publishing, 1991

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Beginnings...

We did it.  We actually took my daughter to college 3 days ago...and we left her there.  Yes, we got in the car and drove home - without her.  I knew that day was coming, for what...18 years? 
It still seemed surreal.
I remember the first day that I took her to preschool. She didn't cry, I did.   She seemed so grown up and I marveled at how fast time had flown...little did I know.
Little did I know, that in a blink of an eye, we would be loading up cars with all the "essentials" of life and driving her hours away to start a new and exciting chapter of her life - on her own. Little did I know, that a smart, competent, sweet, beautiful young woman would take the place of my little girl so quickly.
We are so proud of her and feel she is ready for this step towards the real world, but I know my DH and I both can't quite believe it is time.  She is ready, we are struggling a bit more.  Moving her into her dorm room was such a strange up and down emotional experience.  I was so proud to see what a great job she had done with decorating her room and planning it out (see her blog for how cute her room turned out:  Tarleton West), I was relieved that it seems she had everything she needed, I was excited for her - knowing that so much fun lies ahead, ...but when it came time to walk her into the building that last time... I think it felt like a funeral.  Both her Dad and I just didn't quite know how to do it.  Grab on or let go?  I love that she still grabbed for her Daddy's hand, because even though she is ready to fly she just wanted to make sure he was still there.
I won't lie, it was hard to give that last hug and walk out.  I know it was hard for her as well.

Though, hearing the excitement and happiness in her voice every time I have talked to her since we dropped her off, makes it easier.  She is involved in Rush this week, and though Rush can be stressful, she is enjoying herself and making so many new friends.  Her classes start on Monday and she is getting excited about those as well.  This morning she was going to find where each classroom is located so she can be prepared.  She has had so much fun with her room-mates this week, shopping and exploring their new town.

Knowing she is happy makes it bearable.  Knowing she is where she needs to be at this time in her life, makes me happy for her.  Knowing she is coming home in a few weeks makes me happy!  

Monday, August 9, 2010

The love of friends...

Aren't these roses just gorgeous? 

They are almost as beautiful as the face and heart of the sweet friend who brought them to me.  Although I have only known her a short while, she dropped by this morning with this lovely vase full of flowers from her own rose garden, because she knew that this week was going to be difficult as I adjust to having my daughter at college for the first time.   She knows from that deep place that is a Mother's heart.  I am thankful beyond words.

Yes, yesterday we dropped DD off at college.  It was such a roller coaster of emotions, which I will share more about later, because right now I am tired and a little too spent to share. 

Happy Monday, sweet blog friends!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ready for Fall...yep, ready!

This morning I had no desire for fall, this afternoon I had no desire for fall, but this evening when I was at the mall and smelled Yankee Candle's new scent, Farmer's Market... I got ready.  Yes, right then and there, I got ready for fall in all its glory. 

I always start off September using Yankee Candle's MacIntosh Spice.  It has that crisp apple scent that reminds me of  apple orchards and usually prompts a trip the mountains to pick some fresh off the tree.  Then later in the fall, I will switch to a pumpkin scent which gets me all excited for the holidays.  Farmer's Market combines both of those amazing scents for one treat that will carry straight through the season! 

"Autumn's freshest bounty ... sweet berries, juicy apples, succulent peaches and warm spices."

I have found my new favorite scent! Come on fall, I am ready for ya!!!

**this is just another unsolicited, and uncompensated opinion!

Friday, August 6, 2010

It is Follow Friday again!

It is that wonderful day of blog days...Follow Friday

Just like every Follow Friday, on today's blog hop you only need to link your blog to the list once and you can add it on either of the 2 blogs hosting the Follow Friday.

Your link will be visible on the list on both blogs throughout the week so a lot of people can find you!

Blog readers will see the same list on all of the blogs and will be able to "hop" from blog to blog. What a fun way to find new friends! If you have not joined previous weeks, be sure to add your blog to the list today. Even if you've already added your blog on another blog hop, add your name to the list today since every week is a new list.

Here's how to play:

1. Find new blogs to follow and be sure to follow the hostesses Trish and Bethany) of the blog hop.

2. Be sure to follow someone who follows you and let them know that you found them through Follow Friday. You all know how much we love comments! :)

3. Tell your other blogger friends about Follow Friday and encourage them to join!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Shrimp & Grits, the food of the Gods!

Probably one of my all time favorite meals is a big, old plate of Shrimp and Grits.  Now y'all, outside of the south may be feeling a bit weak in the knees at just the thought, but let me tell you... Shrimp-n-Grits is pretty much perfection...southern style!  There are about as many versions of Shrimp & Grits as there are different versions of the southern accent and though they are all wonderful, I love a particularly creamy  garlic version.  That very well may be because the 1st time I had the dish it was of this variety.  I have tried many different versions all over the coastal south and have enjoyed them all, but the creamy garlic version is the one I long for most.  Last night I cooked up a pot for dinner and served it along with some fresh asparagus sauteed in butter and garlic and some cheddar-garlic biscuits. Yes, yes...it was a night of garlic 'round here!  The recipe that I used is based (tweaked to my taste of course!) on a recipe found in my current favorite cookbook:  The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.  I am loving this cookbook because it is full of yummy,  and simple but satisfying recipes.  I have cooked from it more than pretty much any other cookbook in recent memory and everything has turned out wonderfully (well, maybe that is why I love it so much...).

Anyway, this recipe was great because: #1 it didn't require any exotic or expensive ingredients and #2 it was VERY easy and had a lot of WOW factor for the time and energy needed to complete.  So, if you haven't ever had or haven't ever made your own, here is a super easy recipe to try -- heck if I can do it, anyone can!

Creamy Garlic Shrimp & Grits

• 1 pound cooked, peeled shrimp (I actually used frozen salad shrimp as they were on sale and increased to 1.5 pounds since they were a bit on the small size)
• 3 cups water
• 1 cup whipping cream
• 1/4 cup butter (yep, I use real butter)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup quick-cooking grits, uncooked
• 1 to 2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (I use more rather than less)
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• grated Parmesan cheese

Garnishes: crumbled bacon, chopped fresh chives, peeled and cooked shrimp, freshly ground black pepper, etc. (optional)

Bring 3 cups water, cream, butter, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk in grits. Cook, whisking constantly, 7 to 8 minutes or until mixture is smooth. Stir in pound shrimp, cheese, and garlic, and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish, if desired, with crumbled bacon, chopped fresh chives, extra shrimp, freshly ground pepper, etc

Serves approximately 6

The last week...

The winds of change are starting to blow.

I feel the breeze on my face and it brings misty eyes. 

In 4 short days, we will load up the car and drive our first born to college...and, leave her there...without us...to start a new season of life.  She will be spreading her wings, strengthening her step and forging a new path...and I will be missing her....but can't wait to see what God has in store!