Saturday, August 29, 2009

From Little Boys to Macho Men

I'm about to lift my husband up on one of those shiny tall pedestals for just a bit! Chris is an incredible Daddy! Some of my greatest joys are watching him interact with the boys. He is perfect at patiently training them and teaching them new things. It comes so naturally to him and it makes me smile from the INSIDE OUT!

A few years ago, Chris started a family tradition with the boys...a No Girls Allowed tradition. Each summer he would take ONE boy out on a Father-Son Camp out. This allowed for special one on one time with Daddy. Cameron Skyler got to go first. This year was Kotah's turn. Titus is anxious for his turn next! The purpose of the camp out is to teach them survival skills and all those macho man qualities! He has a series of things he wants to teach them and several things he already has taught my little men!

They include:
-tying knots

-starting a fire

-handling a gun safely
-setting up a tent

-filtering water

-etc etc etc

I got Chris this book The Dangerous Book for Boys for more ideas.

I appreciate his doing this because even if my boys grow up wearing Armani suits and living in the sleek city streets of America, I still want them to possess the skills to protect and care for their family if the need arose. I'm all about tough, real, macho men! I'll pass on the pansies {wink}.

Thank you Baby for raising up capable little men, I love and appreciate you so much.

Indulge in some Redneck pictures ya'll
(FYI, we're not always quite so redneck...I have to disclose this to protect my pride!)
Most of the pics are of Kotah on his 1st Guy's trip
Oh wow


Kotah being himself
Titus patiently fishing
Skyler's first fish a few years ago

What traditions make up the blueprint of your family? What are you doing today that can be remembered tomorrow? I'm a fan of learning, so send me your ideas!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

So Long Summer

Being stuck right in the MIDDLE of Seasons is sort of BLAND. I thrive on the CHANGES of our 4 Seasons. The air change is exciting and different, adding variety to life.

My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE time of the year is fall and Christmas. As the long Indian Summer ends and the crisp air of autumn begins, I always feel energized with the upcoming festivities.

Although I have a bit of a progressive spirit, AND am attracted to modern and edgy things, I am shamelessly a girl of tradition, holiday, and home.

These late months in the year are full of warmth as we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmastime. That's MY time. What is YOUR time? What season energizes you? Why? Share, share.

All images in this post were found using Google Search and are not my own

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Save more Money with SmartyPig

I discovered SmartyPig almost 2 years ago and instantly fell in love. I read every inch of their website and immediately called Chris to excitedly ramble to him about my find! He couldn't stop making fun of the name, but moving on...

SmartyPig is a virtual online PIGGY BANK. This isn't for your large, longtime investment goals but it works for fun things and events! YOU choose a goal. YOU set your time frame for your goal. YOU choose what you're saving for. And YOU save money, lots of money if you do it right! It is heart-racing fun to punch in your goals, amounts, and time periods, and see the results of how long it will take you and how long you need to save. Yes, heart-racing fun. Who knew saving money could cause such an adrenaline rush?! It even shows a DARLING piggy bank on your page with the percentage of your savings filling up the pink pig.

This is AUTOMATIC. Once you set your goal, it pulls from your bank account once a month with an APR that is a more competitive rate than your local bank. As I mentioned, we are on our second year of it and have never had a problem. Once you reach a goal, you get your money. Simple. Last year, I had a Christmas Gift goal. Christmas shopping was {nearly} painless because we used these funds.

Christmas 2008 Smarty Pig Style

This is also an excellent way to get your kids involved in saving. For example, Skyler wants a new bike. I can program his goal for him and he can save online, watching his bank fill up. Because this is online, you can send grandparents the goal and they can easily contribute in lieu of gifts. They can participate and watch him reach his goal too!

I have a real pink piggy bank that sits on my bedroom dresser. It says, "DREAM BIG".
So...go! Get an account. Start working toward YOUR dreams. You won't regret it.

I have another CREATIVE way to save, click here!

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, click here.

SmartyPig images used from

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Love Birds and Pudding

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
- Jason Mraz Lucky Lyrics

Fresh Homemade Vanilla Pudding poured into tall glasses and left to chill overnight equals the ultimate comfort food for a still late Summer day.

It's also a perfect way to be LOVE BIRDS with my best friend at the end of a day. One of the highlights of my day is when the pace has slowed from our busy days and Chris and I get to cuddle and chat about the little things in life. Of course, those chats always lead to our deep philosophical talks. We dig deeper into life and have our unique signature conversations. Being able to understand each of our deep thoughts is something we both VALUE about our relationship. We literally spend hours into the night
figuring things out,
asking questions,
learning more about life,
and of course dreaming.
It's one of our favorite things to do together. Chris is a genius and I thoroughly relish every second listening to him. These moments in our daily walks have only pulled us closer together and encouraged unity in our marriage.

One for him, One for me

Take a second to choose one or two things that are unique to your special relationships. What unifies the two of you? Why? Next time your Best Person isn't bringing on the butterflies in your stomach, reflect on the things that bring you both together.

Go cuddle, touch, and love

Savor the sappy moments because there are simply not enough of them!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hostess with the Mostest

I have an Italian Dinner meal plan for all you lovely hostesses and hosts to borrow next time you're having company! I have used this Italian Dinner Menu several times for company. This Menu works for entertaining because...

#1 Reason I use this Meal Plan is because there are not a lot of dishes that need to be cooked at different temps and for different times. This makes is SUPER SIMPLE so you can enjoy your night!

~ It is rich and delicious, satisfying most appetites with a signature taste...very defined and bold

~ Your guests won't think it's bland.

~ It is {almost} easy

~ It is easy to manage the prep work while you entertain your guests

~ It is basically a "one dish deal" which does wonders for us unfortunate hostesses who don't have a double oven....(and if YOU have a double oven, you are a kitchen goddess, lucky you)

The Appetizer
Homemade Artichoke Dip with toasted baguette bread slices

Email me for the recipe or leave a comment OR make your own favorite!

~Leave out the spinach this time! Spinach is great to add for a fun game night, but lets keep this menu a little classier by leaving it out...just the RICH cream colored dip.
~ Buy FRESH bread and toast the bread in the oven on broiler mode not the toaster

The Salad
Dark Greens with Beans and Extra Goodness
and Homemade Creamy Parmesan Dressing
Again, email me or leave a comment for the dressing recipe.

~ To assemble the salad wash and tear a head of red leaf lettuce.
Add the following:

red kidney beans (rinsed)
garbanzo beans (rinsed)
sliced black olives
peperoncini peppers
fresh sliced roma tomatoes
red onions if desired
freshly grated mozzarella cheese

~ Buy a bottle of
Balsamic Breeze Salad Spritzer and spray gently over salad RIGHT before serving
~ If your guests desire, they can still use some Creamy Parmesan Salad dressing too

The Bread
Homemade Loaf of Bread with Garlic Cheese (or loaf of bakery Italian bread if you're short on time)

~Slice your bread lengthwise and spread both sides with real butter. Sprinkle garlic salt over bread. Top alternately with provolone and mozzarella cheese slices.
~ Broil open-faced in oven until cheese bubbles

~ Don't leave out this FUN addition to your meal:...add a couple of oil dipping trays. Simply pour oil into a plate and season with your favorite Italian seasonings. You can even use garlic flavored oil if you prefer.
Some seasoning ideas are:
dried basil
onion salt
Parmesan cheese.

~ Even if you are serving this meal buffet style, this portion of the meal must go in the center of the table, acting warm and inviting while being easily accessible.

The Main Course
Homemade Lasagna, Chicken Tetrazzini, or Baked Ziti

The choice is yours and they are easily interchangeable

~ Have some fresh parsley set aside to top off your main dish with right before serving. It dresses up your dish of course! ;)
~ Don't over bake but make sure it's still steaming hot
~ Keep an attractive jar of shredded Parmesan cheese at the table for your guest's preferences

{How did I forget to take a picture of the main course for my blog?! This particular dinner was homemade lasagna though } :(

The Dessert
I like to serve rich chocolate cake with ice cold vanilla ice cream after Italian food. But another excellent choice to pair with Italian food is anything lemon.

~ I have a little dessert secret to share with you. When making a cake I like to use these little bunt pans like I did HERE.
I make extra so I can easily send my guests home with an adorable small love token. It is a perfect way to close the evening out as you say goodbye.
~Dust the dessert with powered sugar for a prettier appearance. Fresh fruit looks delightful with powered sugar too!
~ Timing is KEY when serving dessert. Don't drag it out, it isn't polite to keep all waiting until the late hour. But don't rush it either. The meal is an event (as in Europe!).

Other Entertaining Tips

~ Make sure your home feels fresh and clean. It doesn't have to look like a museum or model home but it should feel clean so your guests can dine comfortably in an inviting atmosphere.

~ If you play music, set it softly and play something gentle

~ Don't burn any of those scented candles. The aroma of the meal is all you need

~ Don't use fat free or low fat ingredients THIS TIME unless your guests request it. You want it to taste like the rich flavor of your favorite restaurant. You can get back to the healthier options tomorrow...

~ Use the freshest produce, skip the pre-cut and bagged stuff

~ Be prepared before they arrive so the attention is on them not cooking

~Post It notes are ideal for scribbling down cook times and temps so you don't have to keep your cookbooks out on the counter. I simply write the bake temps and times on it and stick it on the cover of the dish.

SIT DOWN and enjoy this Italian goodness with a glass of sparking water. Ciao!

For other beautiful tablescapes click here.

For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas click here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

75 Surprises

My Grandpa turned 75 this August so our family of FIVE made a spontaneous decision to cruise over to Arizona, driving all night to surprise him for his birthday. My Grandma was in on the secret. We also whispered to her that we were decorating with GREEN, which is my Grandpa's favorite color. So she planned green clothes for both of them to wear the day of the surprise.

Part of his gift inspiration started with Grandma and Grandpa's Treasure Box. My Grandparent's had a treasure box packed FULL of toys and goodies ever since I was a VERY LITTLE GIRL. It was always locked and when we visited my brother and I took turns opening it every day with the SPECIAL KEY and choosing a toy. I still vividly remember the strong scent of the wood as we opened the lid and stuck our heads inside to pick our treasure. I must have pulled hundreds of Barbies, jewelery, dolls, candy, and crafts from that box over the years!

Wellll....they continued the tradition when I had kids. There is no longer any pink inside the box, but it is STILL full of toys! These days, there are a lot of big trucks and hot wheels instead. My kids are all fans of the treasure box and when we visit, now they take turns with the SPECIAL KEY.

Here is Dakotah as a baby sitting on top of the family famous TREASURE BOX

It only made sense that this year I should make a treasure box for my Grandpa (flip this around a bit!). The idea was to put 75 treasures in a box for him to open on his 75th Birthday. Wow, that is harder than it sounds. I looked into my red cart at Target and counted 28 things...and my mind was BLANK on what else to buy! But we did it...75 things!

Titus and Skyler decorating Grandpa's Treasure Box

We shredded lots of newspaper so he couldn't see what he was pulling out.

We made it there, got it all decorated and planned our positions as we waited in their house for them to arrive home from church.

Only Chris would think of choosing this spot to hide, so of course it made me smile. What a scary way to be greeted as you walked through your door! Don't worry...he moved.

Titus is Ready
Of course Kotah had to wear his party hat a LITTLE different than everyone else

Skyler is positioned

The green room is ready too...
Align Left

It was a short time together, but exciting

The kids were very interested to see what Great Grandpa pulled out of the treasure box next


For your guidance and energetic love...
we can't thank you enough!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Magazines in My Mailbox

Sometimes I find a sweet magazine full of fun information curled up like a tight scroll inside the mailbox. I have had different subscriptions throughout the years but this is what I subscribe to currently:

There are a couple of really snazzy personal finance magazines available. I also am a fan of Kiplinger's. For personal finance, these two are loaded with info. Money is a smart choice for the average individual who wants to stay current, savvy, and informed in one's daily life. I really like Money's top picks, top 10s, and other like charts. If you want to get more analytical and more educated on finance you can't get anything better than The Wall Street Journal which my husband has subscribed to for a few years. Also try The Economist if you need to dig deeper.

Another of my subscriptions is:

This is a beautifully created magazine and each glossy page holds a treasure. The large pages and artistic photos, coupled with current stylish ideas make this magazine a KEEPER. You can feel the quality as you're flipping through it. LIFE:BEAUTIFUL is a magazine that encourages Faith and celebrates home and family. What sets this apart to me is the quality, modern trends in style and ideas, with tradition still playing center stage.

The next subscription is:

World is a news magazine straight from a Conservative and Christian perspective. What a breath of fresh air to finally read the news from a source that isn't biased in only one direction....instead, this is biased in the other direction for a change! ;) (Because we know all news is biased, right?) This is a great way to read up on current events so you can stay in the know. Another classic news magazine that I usually recommend is TIME a critical reader though.

The last current subscription that makes it's way into my mailbox is:

Oxygen is finally a women's fitness magazine that has the BEEF. It doesn't dance around health topics (like many women's fitness mags) but instead gets right to the point with direct and solid fitness advice. It gives extra boost and motivation and keeps us sharp learners with diet, exercise, and health knowledge.

AND MORE . . .
Those are my current subscriptions. There are a couple more magazines that I love!
Lucky is a fun fashion and shopping magazine and Conde Nast Traveler lets you escape to dreamland while you set goals for big vacations.

My newest subscription that I had before and am now anxiously awaiting again is Real Simple!!!


1) Socially it gives you the edge as you stay current in a variety of topics. This enables to you carry on conversations intelligently with different types of people. Conversation skills give you a boost with relationships and your professional life.

2) Relax and take a break from heavy reading. Books are always first so don't waste all of your free time with magazines, but they do have a place when you want to rest your mind a bit and do some passive reading.

3) Books give you the core and timeless knowledge you need, but magazines keep you updated and feeds you fun trivia!


1) Don't subscribe to everything in the same topic. Collect a variety of topics to stay well-rounded.

2) Don't subscribe to a LOT of magazines. What a waste. You won't get to read them all. Save the trees and simplify your life by keeping a small selection of subscriptions. Five is max...and three is best! ;)

3) Never keep magazines in the bathroom. It is tacky. Period. Even if it's just a couple in a cute wire basket...don't do it. Seeing magazines next to a toilet is poor taste and doesn't help you present a graceful home.
No no

4) Don't keep a pile of magazines fanned out on your coffee table in front of your television. Seriously. No one wants to feel like they're in a Doctor's office waiting room. It doesn't have eye appeal and it gives a cluttered impression to your home.

No no

What sweet pages get delivered to you? What are your FAVORITE magazines...why?