Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Do the Monster Mash

This year I have enjoyed serving on the Board of the Humane Society. I feel such a connection to them because of Ruffles and admire the work they do in our community, so it has been an honor to serve them in that capacity. This year we held a Howl-o-weenie Monster Mash party as a Halloween fundraiser. I was PUMPED because it was a costume party and let's face it, dressing up is a blast! It was held at Sky restaurant and they served appetizers and even some Halloween themed treats! There was even a tasty "Witches Brew"! The night was a success and raised tons of money for the shelter! Check out my pics below!! They are worth millions of words!!

Me and Claire, aka Toddler in Tiara and Snookie
I was REALLY proud of my costume--I made it!

Forrest, Milton, Justin, and Jay, aka
Stu, Phil, Alan, and Chow
The Wolfpack from Hangover 2

Moses--a little local political humor

Amanda, Claire, Natalie, Anna, Leslie and Me
Garden Gnome, Snookie, Bat Girl, Minnie Mouse, Pregnant Bride, Toddler in Tiara

Wolfpack

Shannon, me, and Kristen
Flashdance, Toddler in Tiara, Playboy Bunny

Fun with my girls Claire and Farrah

Farrah the Good Witch and Alie, aka Kim Kardashian

I LOVED Maggie and Cody's costumes. They were "Occupy Gadsden" and their demands included a Target and an Olive Garden

Me and Jenna, the prettiest Mummy!

We had an awesome time!!! Can't wait for next year! I have got to start thinking about my costume!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Brrrrrrrr!

Ok so last week when I said that "hopefully it would feel like fall soon". Well, I got my wish and then some. Friday night it turned COLD around here, and I of course am no fan!!! We headed to Tuscaloosa on Saturday for Homecoming. Usually I don't mind a cool ball game because it feels like "football weather" and kind of gets you into the spirit of the day. Well, we skipped football weather in Alabama and went from sweltering to freezing!! Despite the cold, which I will just have to get over by wearing cute winter clothes and cooking soups, we had a fantastic time in Ttown! We started the day off at the Lambda Chi house. They have just recently finished a renovation and the house looked beautiful. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and then watched as they unveiled the plaque dedicated to the donors of the construction project. It was also great running into college friends!! Forrest really has a wonderful group of fraternity friends that all keep in touch. I know they will special to us for years to come!!!
Not the greatest picture, but this is Forrest with Lauren and Joseph's little boy Hudson! I can't believe he was so big! He clearly wasn't a huge fan of Forrest's!
After the Lambda Chi house we went to the law school. I have to admit I get the heeby jeebies when I go back to the law school--it is a scary place! We had a nice time though and got to see lots of my dad's classmates--it was his 30 year reunion!
Dad (wearing the traditional homecoming hat of the law school), Me, and Dean Jones, one of the Professors that was there when my dad was a student, and when I was too!
After the law school it was time to go eat AGAIN in the stadium club (we did a LOT of eating on Saturday!!) before the game. We were playing Mississippi State for homecoming. Now, no disrespect to them, but typically we play a "cupcake" team for Homecoming so we can win. The past few years we have been scheduling an SEC team for homecoming. This year, as luck would have it, Miss. St. was undefeated! They had a good team and so there was nervousness in the air. Everyone was hyped up from the cold (I think) and the crowd was really loud and rowdy. We were able to pull off a huge win and look good in the process!! ROLL TIDE!! Now we face LSU this week--our biggest game of the regular season. I officially start my week of no purple! :)
Sunday was a LAZY day for us! I sat next to the LeBlanc's at church and little Eloise decided that she wanted to sit with me the majority of the time. She was so precious and even waved to everyone as they walked up for communion! I had a blast with her (although I was super tired when I got home--that girl is BUSY!) and cannot believe that she is turning 1 this week!! Time sure flies!!
Hope you all are having a great start to the week and aren't too cold! Sorry I brought this cold upon us, but I guess it had to arrive sometime!

We did manage to walk down sorority row to check out the yard decorations. My camera wouldn't focus on the entire thing, but the AOII's display was super! I loved these elephants!!

Yay AOII!! Great work!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Treats--Fall Trail Mix

I had seen several recipes for Fall themed trail mix on Pinterest and thought it looked so yummy! I decided to make some and give it to the families that were with us on the Tennessee trip, as well as to those that helped us with the dogs. I brought one for Deborah too, and she and her friends downed it right in front of me. I'll take that as a compliment and a sign that it was good! You can make your own mix based on your own preferences, but here is what I included in mine.

Fall Trail Mix
Mini Pretzels (I used twists but next time I will use sticks)
Yogurt covered raisins
plain Cheerios
semi sweet chocolate chips
butterscotch chips
cashews
candy corn (I got the mixed bag that had the regular, chocolate, and pumpkin shaped ones)
I got out a big bowl and poured things in until the mix looked like the ratio was right. Looking forward to making this every year!!
Quick shot of the jars lined up on the counter. I liked how all the ingredients were fall colored. 

Tennessee

This weekend we celebrated the Alabama v. Tennessee game with a trip to Gatlinburg. We went 2 years ago with my parents and their "Tennessee Group" and we were lucky enough to score an invite this time around! We headed up after what turned out to be a very interesting Thursday. That morning, I found one of my cats staring up at the wall. This generally means there is a moth or something that has caught his eye. Well, it turned out that Stella had found a lizard peaking out of the back of a framed piece of artwork in my entryway. Of course, I was home alone and had to deal with this little guy myself.

I thought that would be the most exciting part of the day, but turns out I was wrong! I left work a little bit early so I could get home and finish up the packing I didn't complete due to the lizard. On the way to my house, I spotted a basset hound chilling out on the side of the road. To get to our house you have to go up a really windy street and so I knew this dog should not have been there. When I got home I was just so worried about him I turned around hoping he had wised up and left, but he was still sitting there, in a pile of leaves, blending in! I pulled over and eventually, with some help from a nice man that stopped to help me (and you know I had caused a scene, about 5 different cars stopped), I got the dog into my car and took her to the vet hoping she had a microchip. She did! We called the chip company and she had been reported missing by her owners. They were contacted and came to get her. Hooray! After all of that excitement, I was glad when Forrest got home and we were able to get on the road for a relaxing weekend!!
On Friday, our group headed into Gatlinburg for lunch and some shopping. We got some delicious fudge and yummy caramel apples to share! Afterwards, Forrest and I headed out to go horseback riding. I had been dying to take a trial ride and found a great deal on Groupon. I think Forrest had a better time than me, though, as he LOVED his horse Reba! We had a very peaceful ride and even got to thank the horses with some apple treats afterwards. It was the perfect fall afternoon!
Forrest and Reba

Me and Petey

Reba loved her apple!

So did Petey!

Next we went back into town to ride the sky lift and take some pictures before heading back to the cabin for dinner.

My dad grilled steaks and we had salad, bread, and potatoes. Delicious!! I was totally stuffed and ready for bed after such a busy day!
We woke up the next morning to the smell of breakfast being made. Sausage and egg casserole, crumb cake, fruit, and all sorts of other yummy breakfast goodies were ready for us!! Next, Forrest and I went to Pigeon Forge to ride go carts and do a little outlet shopping before boarding the bus for the football game.
Zoom Zoom!!

 I was SO glad we chose this option because it was super easy and painless! Once in Knoxville, we met up with some friends at Jordan and Emily's tailgate. They were so sweet to host us and to let us eat their food!!
Jordan, Zach, and Forrest

Next we found Deborah and hung out with her before heading into the stadium.

Our seats were WAY high, right up against their one jumbo tron, so we kept having to turn around an bend backwards to see it. It was also FREEZING in the upper deck but the 44-13 victory helped us move past that!! Roll Tide!
So pretty, minus the orange!

Our faces look red because of the light from the Jumbo Tron!

The bus took us safely back to Gatlinburg where dad was waiting with a pot of warm chili, and pictures of the BEARS that had visited the trash cans that afternoon!!
On Sunday we were so sad to leave! We barely made it to Mass in Pigeon Forge (traffic was terrible) before heading home. It was really nice to get home and settled before having to start the week.
I hope you all had a great weekend and that you are getting excited about Fall. Maybe it will start feeling like Fall around here soon!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Treats-Pumpkin & Cheese Spice Bread


I made this last week and it was a hit! 

Yields 3 mini loaves (the mini loaf pans I use are 5 3/4 inches long X 3 inches wide X 2 inches deep)
For the Cheese Batter:
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Pumpkin Spice Batter:
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Other:
Butter, to grease the pans
For the Cheese Batter:  Use a handheld electric mixer to beat together all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
For the Pumpkin Spice Batter:  Preheat oven to 350F; lightly grease 3 mini loaf pans with butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, then stir in the pumpkin, canola oil, and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.  Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet, being careful not to over-mix.  Divide the pumpkin batter between the 3 loaf pans, then pour the cheese batter on top.
Bake until golden around the edges, about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean or with just a couple crumbs.  Cool 10 minutes in the pans, then remove from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Mine didn't come out anywhere near as pretty as this but it was delicious!

Fall Treats--Chicken Taco Chili

It's Fall, y'all!! And to get into the spirit, I have been doing some "Fall" cooking! Let's start with this chili! I of course found it on pinterest and it seemed not only easy, but healthy too! There was no link, just a picture with an ingredients list. We really liked this and I hope you will too!

Ingredients:
1 can black beans, 
1 can kidney beans, 
1 can corn kernels, 
16 oz tomato sauce,
 28 oz diced tomatoes, 
packet taco seasoning, 
1 tbsp chili powder, 
3 boneless chicken breasts 
Pour everything into the crock pot and stir. Put the raw chicken on top and cook 6 hours high or 10 hours low in the crock pot. Shred the chicken, mix, and serve!

I doubled my recipe and used 2 crock pots because Forrest wanted his really spicy (I added several hot peppers from my dad's garden)

Ingredients minus the chicken. I added some diced green chilis and I think a jar of sliced black olives would have added a lot too. 

Nice and colorful! Don't forget to drain your beans!

Serve with chips, sour cream, cheese, avocado, whatever you desire!!

Anything and Everything

This weekend was supposed be low key and it was, but my goodness did we find ways to fill up the time with just about anything and everything! Friday I took a half day off of work for what I like to call a "mental health day". I left the office at noon and headed down to Birmingham for a day of fun for me. (Well, I did have to take a file to another lawyer, so I did a little work!!) I started my afternoon at Jenny's house for lunch. I hated that she and Adam and their precious babies had to move away from us in Gadsden, but we have kept in touch and now I love to go to Birmingham to stop in on her! She made a yummy lunch for me and we sat outside and caught up while the kids napped. It was absolutely lovely and Jenny is such a gracious host!!
She made this cute menu!

After lunch I headed to Richard Joseph Salon in Mountain Brook Village for a facial and a massage. I had purchased this package on Living Social a few months back and saved it for when I really felt like I needed it, which always ends up being half way through football season when I am exhausted! It was SO nice at the Spa and I was relaxed just as soon as I hit the door! I started with an hour long facial which was amazing. Then it was on to the massage, which was the BEST one I have ever had! I left feeling so calm and relaxed and "jiggly" that I wasn't sure if I should drive in that condition!! :) Afterwards I hit up the Apple store at the Summit for a lesson on my new iPhone. Luckily, I was due an upgrade right when the 5 came out so I scooped it up immediately. Unfortunately, I have never had an iPhone so I was a little behind the curve! Although the store was CRAZY busy, which kind of ruined my massage buzz, the associates were very helpful and walked me through everything I needed to know! Then it was back to Gadsden for dinner with Forrest. We went to a local sushi restaurant and had a great meal before we called it a much needed early night!
On Saturday I picked up Mamatha bright and early and headed to the Gadsden Service Guild storage unit for our last work day before our rummage sale next month. We sorted and boxed all of the remaining bagged donations and are ready for the sale! Afterwards Forrest and I had a yummy lunch with his parents and then went to the LeBlanc's to watch the Bama v. Missouri game (RTR--another big win for the Tide). We brought Sonny and Ruffles to play with their dogs and although Ruffles stayed inside with us, Sonny had a great time making new friends! We really enjoyed spending time with the LeBlancs and sweet little Eloise! I can't believe she is almost one!
Eloise making friends with Sonny

Afterwards my mom called and we ended up going to eat dinner with her and her supper club, right down the street from the LeBlanc's. My dad was at the game (in the pouring rain) so she invited us to come along. We had a GREAT bbq dinner--thanks to the Hollands and the rest of the supper club for letting us mooch! That night we stayed in and watched football on the couch. It was nice to get two restful nights in a row at home!
"Bear" snoozing on top of Mom's car at the Holland's house

On Sunday after church Forrest and his dad worked on our fence while I went horseback riding with Brittney! I had SO been looking forward to it and had a great time. When I was young (like, 20 years ago young), I took riding lessons and loved them, but had to stop due to scheduling. When Brittney told me she rode and invited me to go, I jumped at the offer! It felt great being back in the saddle and despite my sore legs today, I hope I get to go more often!! That night we had dinner with my mom and dad and brother, who was in town after going to the Missouri game with my dad. We had another quite evening at home, and we will hit the ground running this week! Hope you all had nice weekends and are looking forward to some fun things ahead!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Gatsby

Forrest is so tired of me talking about the Great Gatsby, but I swear, we were literally in the book this past weekend at Alana and Matt's wedding!! It was Alabama's "bye" weekend so instead of football, we changed gears and re-entered wedding mode this weekend. After a really nice drive to Point Clear, we quickly got ready and headed to Dorgan's Inn for the wedding. I had no idea what to expect and I was totally blown away with the natural beauty and charm of the location. Dorgan's Inn was featured in the TV reality show Sweet Home Alabama (I didn't watch that so I didn't recognize it), so if you happened to see that show, then you know what it looks like.
I really should have taken pictures before it got dark!!

It is the epitome of low country Southern charm. Small white plantation homes with dark shutters face the calm, shallow waters of Mobile. The grounds are dotted with low branched, lighted oaks with Spanish moss draped through the branches. Everything seriously was picture perfect. The ceremony was outside under a large oak tree facing the bay.
Suns setting over the bay.
We are on one of the magnificent piers. 

Alana look absolutely stunning. Is it inappropriate to ask the bride to borrow her wedding dress? If not, I really want to try hers on and wear it around the house for a while. It was timeless and elegant and set the tone for the whole wedding (the dress is supposed to dictate the style of the wedding, after all!!).
My hair looks terrible in this picture but isn't the bride lovely?

We enjoyed a cocktail hour hour (which included yellow hammers--Roll Tide!) followed by a full dinner buffet complete with gumbo and crab soup, shrimp and grits, kabobs, fried pickles, pork tenderloin, to name a few of the delicious treats. Afterwards we had cake and Forrest loaded up on pies from the groom's table.


After dancing the night away, we said good bye to the couple by releasing tissue lanterns into the night sky.
Dancing with her daddy

And off they go!!

So lovely!

Mr. and Mrs. Matt Foltz

I couldn't imagine a more perfect evening and Forrest and I are so honored to have been a part of this magical weekend!!!

Other activities of note this past week included:
Book Club!! We had a great time at book club this week! Not only did we have a surprise diaper shower for Kate, whose sweet baby girl Alexis is due next month, but we also got to speak on the phone to the author of this month's book, Kristina McMorris!
Our sweet group!

On Friday my dad and his colleague Lynn hosted a celebration in honor of their 30th year of practicing law. What a great achievement! They had so many sweet friends come out to support them.

I had this cake made at Wal-Mart, of all places. This is a picture of Dad and Lynn doing a mock trial years ago. 

Here's to 30 more!!
Thanks for stopping by! More to come, as usual!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Beer Braised Beef

I had a roast in my freezer just waiting to be enjoyed, so when it came time to choose a recipe for cooking club, I wanted to find a new yummy way to incorporate that roast. We exclusively cook from Pioneer Woman recipes so I selected her Beer Braised Beef recipe. I cooked it last night and invited the Hayes and Hedgspeths over to help us enjoy it. Every one said they liked it so I will give it a thumbs up! I made lots of changes to the original recipe, so see my notes in parentheses below.


Ingredients

  • 1 whole Chuck Roast, 2 1/2 To 5 Pounds
  • Salt And Pepper To Taste (Be Generous!) (I used Garlic powder instead of salt)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 whole Onions, Peeled And Sliced Thick (I used 1)
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Chopped (I used garlic powder so I didn't use whole garlic, although I'm sure it would have been great)
  • 2 cans Beer (I used Bud Light)
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Rosemary Leaves
  • (I used 2 chopped potatoes and 1/2 a bag of baby carrots--you can't have roast without potatoes and carrots!)

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Heat oil in a large dutch oven over high heat.
Season meat generously with salt and pepper. Sear meat on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove meat from pan. Lower heat to medium.
Throw in onions and garlic. Stir for 30 seconds. Pour in beer, and add thyme, rosemary, and salt to taste---about 1 teaspoon. (Do not undersalt!) Add meat to pot, put to submerge, and place lid on pot.
Cook in oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until meat is fork tender and falling apart.
Shred meat with two forks. Serve on dinner plates and spoon juice and onions over the top.
Serve with very crust bread to sop up the juice.
I used my crock pot since I was cooking for guests and it was a work night. I set it on low and cooked for 6-7 hours. I put the roast in the bottom of the pot, after peppering and garlic powdering each side. Then I put the veggies around it and on top of it and peppered and powdered again. Then I poured in 2 cans of beer, and since it didn't cover the roast and veggies all the way, I added 1 cup of water. I also tossed in a few pepperocinis and then sprinkled the rosemary and thyme on top of everything. Ta--da!!
This is the pic from the Pioneer Woman website. Looks yummy, right???


Monday, October 1, 2012

Sleepy Monday

Wow we had so much fun this weekend!!! As usual, I am exhausted on this Monday morning. I always needs an extra day off when our weekends are as loaded down as ours was this weekend. But who can complain when you are having fun, right?? We started the weekend on Thursday night by celebrating my mom's birthday, as well as the birthdays of some of our "lake family". A group of family friends gets together nearly every month to celebrate the birthdays. I grew up with these families and they are like aunts and uncles and cousins to me. We all have houses on the lake near each other and we hang out together mostly up there, so we call them our "lake family". This month we celebrated birthdays for Mom, Joni, Mark, and Hannah. 

On Friday after work, Forrest and I headed down to Birmingham for the annual Greek Festival. We met up with Katie and Gusty while waiting in line for our food. Of course, since the Greek fest only comes around once a year, we ate like we had never seen food before. Lamb gyro, Greek chicken and rice, pastichio, spanakopita, Greek salad, baklava, and Greek doughnuts. OMG--delish! Stevie and Melissa came and ate with us and on the way home, we even stopped by to see Mimi. It was such a "full" night!!!
On Saturday we got to sleep in and then went to Tuscaloosa for the Bama v. Ole Miss game. The game wasn't until 8:15pm but we left early so I could attend the re-dedication of the AOII house. My Aunt Fran was the interior designer and it looked fabulous, of course, so we were all excited to celebrate. It was great to see old friends and all of the pretty new girls enjoying the new and improved house!!
Isn't the new balcony awesome?

Me, Aunt Fran, and Mom

Deborah and I on the new balcony

Afterwards my pledge sister Deborah came and we tailgate hopped before heading back to the AOII house and ultimately the game. Forrest and I sat with Mark and Barbara so my sister and Matt could sit with my parents. M and B were great hosts and we really enjoyed cheering with them! Although the Tide won decidedly, it wasn't the stellar performance that I had anticipated so I was pretty irritated the entire game. Forrest and I left the game early in the 4th quarter because it was 11pm and we still had to drive home! We made it to our driveway just before 2am!! It was a LONG day but it was worth it to be able to see so many friends!! This weekend is OFF for the Tide so hopefully everyone--us included--gets some much needed rest!
As much as we would have liked to snooze and lounge all day on Sunday, we were too busy! We ended up sleeping in so we attended the Spanish Mass at our church. It starts at 12:30pm so you really can get a long sleep in!! Afterwards we rode with Davis and Megumi to Brooks' 1st birthday party! We were thrilled to be included and it was so sweet to see little Brooks and celebrate his big day! 
Our present to Brooks--a new ride-along wagon full of books, puzzles, and toys!

Birthday Boy with Mom and Dad

Not quite sure about the cake

But he LOVES his wagon!

Happy Birthday sweet boy!!

After the party Forrest and I crashed until dinner, and we pretty much laid around until time for bed once we got home! We have a busy week ahead so hopefully we can snap out of being sleepy!! Have a great week!!
 
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