Monday, June 30

The Glamorous Outdoors

For my family, summer means outdoor dining. Super Hunk fires up the grill and we invite all the flies in the neighborhood. With waving and flailing of arms, we sit back and soak up the sunshine.

With plenty of sunscreen and bug spray, of course.

It's lovely...

"Bistro dining" (as my bestie, Rekah, calls it) requires a whole different set of dishes and serving pieces. In fact, Melamine is the summer party hostess with the mostest! I love her durability...her flair...and her ability to remain timeless!

Here are a few of my favorite summer dining pieces (with links, in case you want one of your very own).

Starting with Little Man, of course.
Juice in the Box (shout out to our S&S friend, Chris, for sending these cuties over.)

These aren't necessarily outdoor specific but I LOVE THEM (I have a set of acrylic wine glasses for the patio, they're perfect for them)!
Wine Glass Shades

 Carrying your Grandmother's antique cake stand to the picnic table? Just the thought of it makes my palms sweat. Here's a less breakable option.
Bark Pedestal Cake Stand

The cutest cooler on the planet and it's extremely affordable. Red is a power color, in case you didn't know!
Retro Cooler

Because we all want to feel like a Moroccan Princess...
Jewel Tone Goblets

Finally, these are my absolute favorite. They make my salad so Happy, I hope they do the same for you!
Sassy Salad Servers

Let's make the outdoors a little more glamorous, one colorful dish at a time.

Saturday, June 28

Steak & Avocado Stir-Fry

Every year, our little town in Texas has a full week of festivities celebrating its heritage. Today was the 48th Annual Parade. My friend, Lana, and I loaded up the boys and perched ourselves on Main Street (straining to hear each other over the blaring Country Gold tunes).

The boys were content trading matchbox cars until they fired up the sirens. Here comes the fire trucks! (I couldn't get a photo with both of them standing still, the excitement was too much to handle so MK's handsome blonde locks are partially visible.)

By the time the parade (which I'm convinced, included EVERY horse in the county) was over, we were hungry! Little Man had also consumed (more like devoured) two popsicles (and I suspect, half of MK's) so I thought I better counteract the large amounts of sugar with something of substance. 

With all the hoopla (and Super Hunk's float preparation), I hadn't planned anything for lunch. With a quick glance in the fridge, I grabbed a leftover sirloin (which was heavenly the first time around), green chiles (because in our home, every meal deserves to be adorned with these green goddesses), zucchini (our garden overfloweth and I'm running out of ideas), and avocado (one more day and it would've been compost).

I threw them all together and this bit of deliciousness was born. Sometimes, the unexpected is the most delectable...proving, once again, my opinion that whipping up something yummy doesn't have to be difficult (and your dishes don't always look like something straight off the pages of Southern Living).

1 zucchini
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
1/2 cup diced sirloin, cooked
1/4 cup green chiles, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste 

In a saucepan, over medium high heat, add olive oil. When heated, add zucchini and brown slightly on each side. I prefer a little crunch but feel free to cook to your liking. Add diced sirloin and green chiles to zucchini. Reduce heat to medium low. Since your meat is already cooked, you're simply heating it. Toss ingredients and add salt and pepper. Finally, add diced avocado and stir ingredients until the avocado has warmed and created a creamy coating on other ingredients. Mmmmmmmm! Feel free to add another pinch of salt and pepper, if needed.

I'm not kidding when I tell you, I wish I'd made a bigger batch...I was longing for seconds...

...or a smaller stomach!

This is...IN NO WAY...a Food Network worthy post but the recipe is a Courtney's Kitchen favorite! Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 24

Rainy Day Marble Races

Lately we've had quite a bit of rain. You'll never hear me complain but I can't speak for Little Man. He doesn't yet value the little drops from heaven, he sees them more as an unwanted interruption in his outdoor wonderland adventures.

With his activities restricted to the great indoors, Mommy was scrambling to come up with fresh ideas (I need to refresh my list).

With a bag of marbles and a pool noodle, Mommy is a hero, uh hum...heroine, once again!

I propped one end of the noodle on the coffee table and placed a few pillows on the floor to keep the marbles from launching all over the living room. It was a good idea, in theory.

We took turns loading marbles and watching them shoot out the end. Notice I said "we", I think I had more fun than him. 

There was also quite a bit of time spent retrieving the marbles, I may or may not have sent a few rogue marbles down the pipe to keep him on his toes! He never caught on that Mommy was doing strictly launching, no retrieving. Two is such a great age! :-)

At times, it became a scavenger hunt...which extended the overall playtime. These two simple objects became an afternoon of fun and this rainy day Mommy has never loved marbles more (with close supervision, they strongly resemble grapes).

Keeping it simple!

Monday, June 23

Lana's Macaroni Salad

This delicious recipe (which might be my new favorite) is from our friend, Lana Hamblin, regular Guest Contributor. Prepare for a party in your tummy!

By Lana Hamblin

Tis' the season for firing up the grill!

In my family we have a staple for all backyard gatherings, macaroni salad.

It's a crowd favorite and it's pasta, which in my book is ALWAYS good. I'm just a carb girl, living in skinny world. Ha! 

Just to warn you, I usually make a double batch because it goes fast. So, here goes...grab your biggest bowl!

Single recipe:

12 oz. package of macaroni noodles
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
1 large jar of diced pimento (drained)
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard seed
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion

Cook noodles and place in bowl. In a separate bowl, mix corn, pimento (in the photo below, I substituted for red bell pepper because I had a toddler at the grocery store and bypassed the pimentos), bell pepper, and onion.

Add veggies to the noodles and mix well. 

Add sour cream, vinegar, and mayo. Stir until evenly coated.

Add celery seed, mustard seed, salt, and pepper. Stir well until combined.

Once salad is mixed thoroughly, place in fridge and let chill overnight. (If making the same day, I place it in freezer for about an hour then stir and place in fridge.)

Hope you enjoy this as much as my family does!

Have a blessed day,

Saturday, June 21

A Space For My Stuff

When Super Hunk and I purchased our little abode, it was the perfect size. Quaint, great layout, just enough storage, and easy to clean!

Three years later, we added a baby with more stuff than both of us combined. How does something so small require truckloads of swag?

Needless to say, our perfect home is now a bit more cramped...but oh, so worth it.

I've been desperately needing an office but with the above mentioned dilemma, I've resigned to working at the kitchen table. This is much to Super Hunk's dismay as he has a strong aversion to clutter. It's also hard to keep my papers from becoming sticky notes (or "jelly notes").

Pinterest, here I come!

I recently stumbled upon this image and was instantly in love.

So bright, so cheery...and yes, there's a thank you note on the desk! This is my space...minus the Mac (it's smarter than me), minus the candle (open flames and hot wax with toddlers...BAD), and minus the white fluffy pillow (one word, blueberries).

The part I'm in love with the most is the art above the desk. So simple, yet so fun. "Oh darling, let's be adventurers".

Let's make one...together! It seems like a simple design, we can do it. I see a Crafting the Cape post in my future. Stay tuned...

I better skedaddle, I'm off to find a space for my stuff!

Friday, June 20

A Stroll Down Citrus Lane

If you're on Facebook, you've seen the numerous ads for Citrus Lane. It's the children's version of the recently popular Birchbox for adults.

(Photo from Citrus Lane)

With a 50% off promotional code, I purchased one month for Little Man (no monthly commitment required).  A few clicks and a short questionnaire later, I was excited to see what items they would send for my two year old.

A few weeks passed and we anxiously awaited its arrival. Yesterday, the adorable brown and yellow package appeared in our mailbox.

I'd like to share my Citrus Lane experience with you, in case you have been on the fence about trying it.

Little Man couldn't wait to tear into his new treasures. I think frantic gift opening is a trait he inherited from me!

Tadaaaaaa! A few trendy children's items, coupons, and personal note from Citrus Lane. Well done, Marketing Department!

Of course, he goes straight for the snacks...that's my boy! Strawberry and Spinach was his favorite...who knew?

A fabulous puzzle (in its own carrying case...hallelujah) was something interesting. Only after the bar was gone!

With a little (or a lot) of help from Mom, we finished!

The overall experience was excellent. A new water bottle, wet bag, puzzle, and snack bars were the highlight of the afternoon. Here's my disclaimer: with my 50% off, I paid $14.99 for these goodies. While the included products were great, I'm not sure it's worth the full monthly price...but they don't call me McFrugal for nuthin'! I'll let you decide but it's DEFINITELY worth a try!

Whether you have your own squirt or you need a gift, use code SAVEHALF and experience the fun of mysterious goodies in an adorable box!

Tuesday, June 17

The Chair Affair Highlights

I've posted a few chair facelift projects I completed for an event I was planning called The Chair Affair. As part of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, we wanted a new event where we could thank our members and spend some time networking...the Chair Affair was born.

The main function of a chair is to provide support, just as a Chamber supports local businesses. You can see the correlation.

Considering it was the first year, the evening was a huge success and we ALL had a wonderful time! Here are a few highlights.

With 51 chairs donated, this is how the party planning began...chair madness.

And this beautiful display is how it ended! Not too shabby...the chairs were the stars of the evening.

What would a gala be without red velvet ropes and a door man in a tux?

A few of my fellow Board Members taking a breath before the fun began...they clean up nice!

These two are amazing talents and a few of my favorite boys!

The chair sculptures on the stage were creating quite a buzz. Super Hunk is super handy and he always supports my crazy ideas...for instance, "Honey, will you build two, nine feet chair structures for decorations on the stage?" He just nods and smiles...and ALWAYS brings my visions to life!

Two of my fellow Board compadres...such a fun (and good lookin') group!

We used bid boards on easels for attendees to place bids. It was an excellent alternative to silent auction sheets.

One of our local photographers came and set up a photo booth. I snagged my sweetie for a photo, I think the last one we took was on our wedding day. Just kidding...maybe.

It was a lovely evening with artistic chairs, great food, delicious wine, family, and friends.

Lots of friends!

Wherever you are, whatever your talents, get out there, serve your community, and make a difference. The smallest of gestures can make the greatest impact!

Friday, June 6

My new favorite gadget - GIVEAWAY Winner!

*********** WINNER ***********

Congrats and hope this fun gadget helps with the completion of your laundry! Email your contact info here to receive your prize.

Thank you to all who participated and stay tuned for more fabulous giveaways!

Yesterday, I shared with you my love of drying clothes on the line (see post here).

With limited space in our yard (and Super Hunk's refusal to mow around clothesline poles), my mom told me about the retractable clothesline.

Moms, what would we do without them?

Today, because it's Wednesday and we could all use a mid-week freebie, I'm giving one away! Yippee!

Super Hunk hung mine in the backyard but you can put it apartment balcony, over your washer & dryer in a small laundry room or in a playroom with your little one's artwork. Roll it up when you're done, easy as that!

To enter, answer the question below. Winner will be selected randomly on Friday!

"Do you a have top load or front load washer?" 

Happy laundering!

The Little Black Dress

Ladies, why are we so hard on ourselves? God created us perfect, His beautiful masterpiece. And yet, I continue to wish He had used a smaller brush when drawing my hips.

We are all unique in our own special way but I dream of trading my hiney for a Baywatch Beach version. Did I just reveal my age? Perky hiney or not, those red swimsuits were hideous!

I had a baby in my mid-thirties and my body had a mid-life crisis. I'm proof that you CAN return to your previous ("pre-baby") weight. However, nobody told me it would be distributed a little differently. It seems as if the fat cells (that were once perfectly proportioned) have now settled, willy nilly, wherever is most comfortable! I have lost control of the crew and they are steering the ship...which happens to be my backside.

I have an event coming up that requires a dress with a little pizazz...a hint of sparkle...just the right amount of glitz. I know just what I'll wear!

My little black dress, a trusty friend. The one article of clothing in my closet that can instantly make me feel like a movie star! It has magical powers...or maybe it's the Spanx.

The only problem, it's a "pre-baby" size 4! Gulp!

Let's just say, the crew has steered the ship a bit more South. 

I was initially disappointed...I even considered sucking on saltines with a tic-tac chaser for a week but decided buying better Spanx might be a less hungry option.

A few days passed and the Lord spoke to my heart about my dress dilemma. You see, nothing in my life looks the same. This little gift from God, all covered in dirt and snot, has captured my heart and changed my entire world. 

So today, I choose to look in the mirror and remember all the wonderful moments that brought me here (even the memories of my favorite little black dress). No matter what size my pants are, my heart is bigger and that's the growth that matters!

I hope this encourages you...I'm off to do some shopping, I have a slightly larger dress to buy! :-)

Thursday, June 5

Feeling guilty!

I'm ashamed...

Dinner was so easy...

I humbly received the praises...

Letting the assumption I slaved over dinner remain...

I feel guilty!

It was one of those days where I looked down this morning, noticing I had two different socks on. I drove 12 miles out of the way to make sure I turned the coffee pot off. I made a to-do list and wrote myself a note as a reminder not to forget my list. Finally, I looked up at 7:30 pm with no plans for dinner.


This was my last minute, throw something together, down right delicious dinner.

It doesn't even have a name.

What should I call it? As a new favorite, it must have a name! I don't think "Lick The Plate Sandwich" is the best option.

This is not intended as a recipe, just a simple reminder that sometimes the unplanned is the most scrumptious (even when you're wearing mis-matched socks).

12 grain bread, a little mayo, sprinkle of cheese, and a few sliced tomatoes on broil for about five minutes. I even lined the pan with tin foil so I didn't have to scrub the pan. Shhhhhhhhh!

Mixed an avocado with green chiles, salt, and pepper.

Spread on toast and topped with shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. Taaaadaaaaaa!

Nine minutes later, my guys were smiling which momentarily distracted me from my guilt.

Hey, what they don't know won't hurt them...right? I like to think it's "Mommy security"!

****************** UPDATE ********************
With some very creative suggestions, the name of this little bit of heaven has been selected (by majority vote). Cue drum roll...


Sandwich + Tosatada = SAMTADA!

No matter what you call it, I hope you enjoy!

(Thank you for the laughs, you guys are FUNNY!)

Tuesday, June 3

Hang it out to dry!

Mondays are my "washdays" (another word in my vocabulary, confirming I was born 100 years too late). With Little Man spending more and more time outside, I've been begging Super Hunk for a clothesline so I can complete my "wash" while he plays. He was reluctant at first (due to the unsightly nature of laundry littering the landscape), then I said "economical" and he was suddenly very supportive!

For Mother's Day, my dream of airing my soggy laundry became a reality.  This is my new BFF, a 20 foot indoor/outdoor retractable clothesline. Hello, lovely.

So easy to use and has a handy little spot for my clothespin bag.

Super Hunk gave me the thumbs up after a few moments of mounting, indicating a green light for wet laundry. I immediately ran to the washer to retrieve my very first load (it's the little things in life that make me happy). I'm not sure what my attraction is but I suspect it's the nostalgia of simpler times when "whirligig" was a common word.

A time when a family's story was told by their laundry, hanging on the line. A new baby in the neighborhood? Fancy sheets hanging next door, are there visitors in town? Tablecloths and white napkins, a dinner party perhaps?

Minus the neighborhood knowing my business, I long for simpler times and hanging my clothes out to dry is a breath of fresh air for my soul.

My house is a little cooler, my electric bill a little lower, and the view is boyishly adorable.

I hope you too find solace in the little things and stay tuned for tomorrow's special giveaway.

Monday, June 2

Flip Flops, Laughter & Lizards

I apologize for not posting the last few days...I've missed you! 

We had a mini-reunion with the Super Hunky Crew and three days flew by. I soaked up every moment with three of the five nieces, my super hunky brother-in-law, and my disgustingly adorable sister-in-law. My father-in-law scooted on up from South Texas to join us and Super Hunk's great aunt and uncle hosted. Whoosh, three generations of beautiful still my heart!

Little Man was giddy over his "gurl gurls" cousins (as he calls them). I too enjoyed my time with pink flip flops, Hello Kitty, and ponytails. Don't get me wrong, these girls embrace the occasional lizard (figuratively, not literally) but I was temporarily transported to a land of smell good and softies.

Here's a few of my favorite moments.

A sweet photo that screams SUMMER! I think Little Man was sword-fighting with a fishing pole at this very moment.

Yep, that's more like it!

This just makes me happy...on so many levels. To be that carefree again, such a beautiful lesson to rejoice in every moment.

Brothers, enjoying a break in the shade...notice the matching shoes. No, they don't shop together but share the same love of slip-ons!

This photo needs no caption but perfectly illustrates the "gurl gurls" personalities. This is how I feel about chocolate...and clearance racks!

Little Man thinks he's running the show and Super Hunk was there in a supervisory capacity. In reality, those sandy blonde curls are calling the shots (in the most adorably subtle way).

Our visits are never long enough and a tear (or two) always falls when it's over. I anxiously await our next embrace and remind myself to cherish every moment of flip flops, laughter, and lizards.