Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Favorites!

It’s Friday! Time to share some of this week’s favorites!!

One – Red White & Blue!

I usually put out a few festive decorations for Memorial Day and leave them up through the 4th of July; this year I was a day late on making that happen. One of my favorite ways to add a little holiday flair is to change out two frames on the table inside our front entrance. I found these printables here and here.

I also added this wreath to the back side of our front door, and added a few pieces to our mantel. It’s not quite “finished” yet, so that photo will have to wait.

Two – The Smell of Fresh Paint

Thursday we had our spare bedrooms painted. I decided on Sherwin Williams’ Tidewater. I LOVE how it turned out in both rooms. I DESPISE clutter, and the fact that our master bedroom has been a holding place for all of the other two rooms’ stuff the past couple of days is about to kill me. I can’t wait to get these rooms back to normal this weekend!!

Three – Friends & Babies

Sunday night we had dinner with our friends Robert & Katie in their new home. Tuesday night we hosted our friends Chad & Katey (too many friends named Katie) at our house for dinner. Last night we took dinner to our friends Matt & Ashley who just welcomed their baby girl Chloe. Gosh she’s adorable, right?!

I made them a Chicken Broccoli Braid and Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread….(I also made us the exact same meal to save at home…minus the sweet treat.)

Four – Full House!

It’s official…Aunt Becky & Danny have both signed on for the new show! (Wake Up San Francisco!) Which means, the whole cast is returning minus little Michelle. Who else is beyond ecstatic for this remake?! Yes, watching the old shows as reruns now in 2015, they are terribly cheesy BUT it was hands-down my FAVORITE show growing up. Well, that and Saved by the Bell and any other show on TGIF ABC. I can’t wait to see the Tanner clan back together again!

Five – Things to Do, People to See, But No Way to Get There

Sometimes, small moments where you are forced to stay still and put everything on hold is the best way to spend 30 minutes. Thank you Carlen Chevrolet for your free lifetime oil change which gives me 30 minutes to sit in a peaceful comfy chair and read a while!! Life can wait.

Be sure to stop by these ladies' sites and see what everyone else has for their favorites today! Andrea, Erika, Narci.

Happy Weekending!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Farewell, May!

May is almost in the books, so I thought I would do a little recap of happenings I haven’t mentioned before and an update on how I did with my May Goals!

I knew May would be busy for us, so I kept my goals on the simple side.

1.      Purge Closets & Drawers – Well, we did and we didn’t. We purged our two clothes’ closets but not the hallway closets and spare bedroom closet. (I have a feeling we won’t be touching that one until we have to make the room into a nursery one day.) We took 4 trash bags full of clothes to Goodwill; and I’m sure we’ll have close to that many more once we go through our drawers. So, it wasn’t a complete check-off but it was half. That’s a start and I’ll take it!

2.      Finish 2 books – YES! I was half-way through Melanie Shankle’s “The Antelope in the Living Room” when the month started so I knew I’d be finishing that would start another. I LOVE Melanie’s books. Girls, they are just REAL. Her first book, “Sparkly Green Earrings” was about motherhood, this one was about marriage and her newest book, “Nobody’s Cuter Than You” is about friendship. She hits the nail on the head. I couldn’t agree MORE to her chapter about her husband being “man-sick”. Preach, sister, preach!

After all the rave reviews I heard about Paula Hawkin’s “The Girl on the Train” I decided to give it a whirl. I was sucked in FAST…and finished it fast. Y’all. This book. I spent the whole book going back and forth on who I thought was the “good guy and bad guy”. My suspicion that I had at the very beginning ended up being right in the end, BUT it did have me guessing back and forth throughout the whole book. Such a good read.

3.      Celebrate Colin’s Birthday with Sleepover! – YES! Colin turned six at the end of April but we knew we couldn’t schedule anything for a few weeks because of everyone’s busy schedule. We finally picked a weekend that worked with everyone and the boys were able to spend the night with us and go to the movies. I shared about our weekend here.

4.      Enjoy graduation month! – Boy did we ever!! We spent the first three weekends in May celebrating graduations. The first weekend, we traveled to Chattanooga to celebrate Ann Marie’s graduation. Click here to read about that and here to read all about our sweet Ann Marie.

The next weekend, Stephen’s brother graduated from college as well as being commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in Army. That ceremony was on a Friday. Their Dad and Grandpa were able to pin his new rank on his uniform at the ceremony. The next day, he graduated and we celebrated with a Low Country Boil that night.

The following weekend (which would be the THIRD weekend if you're keeping tabs) we celebrated a special young girl's high school graduation at a dinner party in her honor. Paige is such a sweet, intelligent (high five for her 4.4 GPA and graduating HIGH SCHOOL with 21 COLLEGE credits already under her wing), witty young woman. She has a great head on her shoulders and has an outstanding Christ-like attitude that she's carried with her for so long. I'm so excited to see what's in store for her!

5.      Organize January – April receipts. Nope. Didn’t happen. This one’s rolling over to June Goals.

A few other things that happened in May…

I got to spend time with my best friend and her son. What is it about newborns?! I could just snuggle with him all day!

Who else saw the I Love Lucy special?! CBS aired two episodes in color and one of them just happened to by favorite episode of the entire series! (Have I shared that I’m a huge I Love Lucy fan before? I am. I just LOVE it!)
Oh be still my heart. She's the greatest. Sometimes I secretly think that I was born in the wrong era.

We celebrated Mother’s Day at my sister and BIL’s house with a lunch on that Sunday. Riley was premature to go change his clothes after church. Hence, the orange tie-dyed tshirt and basketball shorts. He didn’t care. We do lunch at their house on Mother’s Day & Father’s Day. Our parents, grandparents and my BIL’s parents all come, so we’re able to celebrate several great parents and grandparents in our lives at one time!

Colin seemed to find his way in front of the camera quite often this month….

We were at my parents’ house and I heard him say, “Hey Erica, look at me…I’m Granddad.” Mower. Hat. Shoes. Keys. Nailed it.
He finally got to pick out his new bike that was promised to him for his birthday. Helmet and all.

Annnnd….he and Stephen did what they do best….be each other’s best buddy.

Our yard seemed to grow a foot overnight and Stephen mowed it no less than 5 times this month.

We bought a new mattress for our guest bedroom. I also thought it needed new bedding. Here’s a sneak peek. The room is being painted today…I can’t wait to see it all come together. After a year of living here, it’ll finally feel like a finished room.

Stephen surprised me one day at work with these beauties. I had been having a couple of hard weeks where life just wasn’t fair, fun or easy. So when the little old man at the front lobby desk called to tell me I had flowers to pickup, well….it made it all better.

And last but not least, I wanted to share this photo I posted on Instagram. My dad is a preacher, and has been for longer than I’ve been alive. I’ve grown up listening to his sermons and many other preachers’ sermons. I know I’m biased, but my Dad can deliver some POWERFUL messages. These were words he shared ending a sermon a couple weeks ago. I’ve gone back almost every day and re-read these in my notebook.

So friends, that was May! Whew. Our calendar isn’t very full for the Summer, which might just be perfect!! Next week, I’ll be sharing my June goals….after I decide what they’ll be!! Come back tomorrow for Friday Favorites!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Recipe Club: Swiss Chocolate Cake

I’m linking up again with Andrea’s Recipe Club to share another sweet favorite!

Last month, I shared my Strawberry Cake. This month, it’s another Swiss Chocolate Cake!

You know when you go to a church Pot Luck or a Dinner on the Ground (That may just be a Tennessee term? Anyone else ever heard of that one? It’s not actually on the ground…well, they used to be…but not now. We have tables and chairs now. We’re advancing with the times.) Anyways, so at a church meal , you can always spot out “an old lady cake”. You know what I’m talking about…a dessert that just LOOKS like somebody’s grandma made it. One where you say, “Oh, that’s Mrs. Nell’s Caramel Pie” or “That’s Mrs. Bray’s Apple Pie”, “That’s Mrs. Bernice’s Coconut Cake.”

This is one of those desserts! Way back in the day, my boyfriend’s grandmother made this for lunch one Sunday and I just thought it was the best thing ever, so I asked her to share the recipe with me. So really, it IS a grandmother cake!

(This is a chilled cake, so be sure you have enough refrigerator space available.)

Here’s what you’ll need…
1 box of Swiss Chocolate Cake mix (Duncan Hines is the only brand I’ve ever found this in.)
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup of oil
1 1/2 cup of buttermilk
3 eggs

For the icing you’ll need…
16 oz Whipped Cream
8 oz  cream cheese
1 cup of powder sugar
½ cup of granulated sugar
Chocolate Bar (I usually use a Hershey bar, but I had a Dove bar on hand….whatever will work just fine.)

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease (3) 8 or 9 inch round pans.

Mix all your cake ingredients until well combined. Pour evenly into the cake pans.
Bake 15-20 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test. Let them cool completely.

While the cakes are baking, make your icing. Beat your cream cheese and sugars until smooth, then mix in your whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least an hour before spreading on cake.

Once cakes are cooled, spread icing between layers and then frost the cake completely. 

Grate your chocolate bar on top of the cake for garnish.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I typically make this cake the day before I’m serving. It just gets better the longer it chills.

It looks fancy and time-consuming, but it’s really not. And it’s DEFINITELY worth your time!! EVERYONE will LOVE this cake! (This is my mom’s favorite!! If I don’t make it for her birthday in March, I be sure to make it for Mother’s Day. Or both!) Enjoy!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up - 100% Boy

Before I start the weekend recap, I’ll back up to Thursday, when our youngest nephew Colin graduated from Kindergarten! His school put on the cutest 45 minute program for parents and family members.

They recited poems….

Sang songs….

Received their “diplomas”….
And then they decided to give this kid a mic and let him dismiss everyone. He had been telling us for weeks, “I’m going to say something at the end, but I can’t tell you what.” He had quite the little speech he memorized for the end. He thanked everyone coming, gave everyone instructions on how and where to pickup their kids, signing them out for the afternoon, and finally dismissed everyone from the gym. It was impressive for a 6 year old.
Now, on to the weekend! We had been promising our nephews that they could spend the night at some point for several weeks, and this weekend just worked out for everyone. We had also promised to take them to the movies for Colin’s birthday. We just combined it all into one weekend.

Stephen plays softball on Friday nights at a field not far from my sister & BIL’s house, so he dropped the  boys off to us at the ballpark. Colin immediately was “thirsty” and then decided to “find the perfect rock for my seat.”  I swear….the stuff he comes up with cracks me up. Riley’s favorite seat is in the dugout with the big boys where he can run and go pickup homerun balls over the outfield fence.
The rock seat didn’t last long……
Boys will be boys.

In previous years when Stephen has played ball, two of his really close friends were also on the team and their wives would come to all the games. We’d sit and chat every Friday night and had the best time while the guys played. This season those guys aren’t playing, so I sent this picture to the girls during the game telling them I was having a great time with all my friends at the game…
It’s just not the same…but group messaging them during the game was a close 2nd.

After the games, (yes…gameS…they play two back-to-back every Friday) the boys begged to play at the playground for a little while. It was  a beautiful night and not completely dark yet, so we let them run around and play for a while before we headed home.
Once we got home, Stephen & I tag-teamed on making dinner and giving baths. Then it was time for pj’s, baking cookies, a Netflix movie annnnnd then, two sleepy boys willingly went to bed!
The next morning, Colin asked if he could put “color” in the scrambled eggs. He assured me that “it will not change the taste of the eggs, it will just make them green…but you will not taste green.”

The rest of the morning, they played around the house and then we hit the movies to see “Tomorrowland”. There were no “kid” movies at the theater this weekend, so they picked the only one they were interested in. It was a GREAT movie. Stephen and I LOVED it. The boys SAID they liked it, but we’re not so sure that they followed everything that was going on. And it was long. They both started getting squirmish in their seats. But I would recommend it!
After the movies, we took them home but not before stopping at the new Snow Cone place! No pictures to prove it, so just imagine two little boys…one with lips stained blue, the other one BRIGHT yellow.

We LOVE spending time with our nephews. I am the only aunt that they have; which is weird to me because my sister & I had 7 aunts and uncles growing up. I know how special my relationship is with some of my aunts, and I want to be that with my own nephews now. They’re only little once, and I want them to have these fun memories with us as they grow up.

As exciting as that was, the rest of our weekend was fairly low-key. We came home Saturday night and made Mix & Match Mama’s Turkey Caprese Burgers for dinner. GOSH…these ARE. SO. GOOD. This was our second time making them and they did not disappoint. Quick, easy & DELICIOUS! (If you click the link to the recipe, we add garlic and Italian seasoning to the meat mixture and balsamic as a topping to the finished product!)
Sunday we had three gorgeous light pink roses that were fully bloomed!
Just last Fall, we debated on getting rid of the rose bush because at that point, we had lived here for five months, and it hadn’t done anything but just look like an eye sore on the front of the house. I had a gut feeling that it MIIIIIGHT just be beautiful, so we decided to give it one year and see what happened. After all, the lady who owned the home for 30 years before us was an older, widow lady and let’s face it, older ladies just have a knack for green thumbs…so there MUST be something great about this rose bush.

Well, now I have these on my kitchen table and 30 more buds that will be blooming any day!

(I’m glad we kept Ms. Reba’s roses…….but her 27 windchimes left behind HAD to go. Roses stay. Windchimes go. Bless her.)

We ended the weekend having dinner with friends in their new home and four loads of laundry. It’s a glamorous life we lead. HA!

Come back tomorrow for a yummy chocolate cake recipe!