So I went out of town..

Good Morning!  I missed you!  It feels good to be home in my house; although that's not to say I didn't enjoy our mini-vacation.  I get to kick start my week back to the grind with a few overnights, so posting might be a bit rocky for the next few days.  Anyhoo, I'll try to load you up with a good post today.

Friday night we planned to high-tail it out-of-town to make the four hour trek to Mimi and Papa's house.  We wanted to leave promptly after I got off work.  Two hours later, we drove thru Burger King and hit the road.  We drove straight to a Chik-fil-a.  Hubby's bro was the live music for their Friday night.  Our Chik-fil-a's aren't that classy.  The kiddo's enjoyed Ice Dream and the play-land.  Sorry, no pics.  I was struggling to keep my eyes open.

The next morning, we hung out with the in-laws until lunchtime.  We ate at a fabulous Italian eatery called Elizabeth's.  It is extra fabulous because you can call your order in ahead of time.  Then show up 30 minutes later, sit down, and they bring your hot food right out.  Talk about heaven when you have a two and three year old.  Plus, the food is yummy and I'm already dreaming about the next plate of chicken parmesan.  After lunch, Hubs and I said our good-byes to the kiddos and drove West. 

This weekend is National Pick Your Christmas Tree Weekend.  Did you know that?  Ok, maybe they just celebrate it in North Carolina.  Every other car had a tree tied to its top.  Many had two trees.  Some pick-ups had their bed full.  Seriously.  I wish I thought to get a picture.  I wish we hadn't already bought our Christmas Tree at Lowes.  Wanna see a picture of a Christmas Tree farm?

Yes, I snapped this as the car was moving.  Hubby wouldn't stop.

Love the dotted rows.

The hillside is COVERED.  Amazing.

This isn't just one tree farm.  There were several.  I think we were the only one's who didn't buy a tree that weekend.  We saw a guy at the Food Lion that night with, get this, FIVE trees tied to the top of his suburban.  Hubs and I declared him the tree winner.  Seriously, five trees.  And he stopped at Food Lion before heading home.  He must not have an antsy family waiting to decorate those five trees.
How do you obtain your Christmas tree?  I already mentioned we purchased ours from Lowes. (hey, they were next to Target and I really didn't want look too hard.  don't judge)  We've always had a live tree since we've been married, but never gone to a Christmas Tree Farm.  What's your family tradition?


Down Time

Warning: long weekend ahead.  My family and I are going to enjoy some much need time away.  I'm looking forward to a quiet escape with hubby while the kiddos get spoiled by Mimi.  Everyone needs some time away now and then.  Needless to say, I won't be posting while we're gone.  Hope you enjoy your holiday weekend!


Happy Turkey Day!

I'm actually working away dolling out meds to those who forgot them at home.  However, we already celebrated with our big dinner yesterday and I'm super excited to eat leftovers as soon as I get off work!


I'm Thankful for Suprises

Don't you love a good surprise?  I know I do.  Well, some would argue that I don't. (my hubby)  In all fairness, I do like to be aware of what is going on.  I don't like bad surprises.

Well, I received a card in the mail this last week.  It really was a simple note.  A collection of friends and co-workers signed it.  But it meant the world to me, talk about a wonderful surprise. 

The card also reminded me of how thankful I am for friends.  Even those I haven't seen in 6 months or more.


I'm Thankful for the Beach

I am thankful for sandy beaches, salty ocean breezes, crashing waves and the calming effect they have on my soul.

I find it difficult to make the time in my day to steal away and walk along the shore, but every time I do I can feel a wave of peace and serenity wash over me.  Its hard to describe in words the effect it has.  It really is a stress eraser.

Amazingly enough, I live close by and am able to take advantage of this blessing.  For this, I am incredibly thankful.


I'm Thanful for Motherhood.

I've been a mother for 3 and 1/2 years.  I can't remember my previous life.  I didn't intend to become a momma when I did.  I was still in school.   We were renting a one bedroom apartment.  But I'm glad I did.  Now, my days are disgusting and stressful.  I'm always tired.  I've changed a diaper every day for three and a half years!  Yet my heart melts at seeing their smiles and hearing the little voices.  Everyday brings new growth, new joy.  My life is difficult, nevertheless, I can't imagine living any other way.  

I am thankful for these two munchkins coming along and showing me how to grow and mature as an adult.  It's as though they are teaching me more than I can teach them.  For this journey of motherhood, I am thankful.


I'm Thankful for my Job

  Happy Pills
I am thankful for my job.  Honestly, I'm lucky to have it.  Over 11 years ago, I chose to pursue this career path.  It hasn't been easy.  There have been times I wanted to throw in the towel.  I may have thought that yesterday.  The people who come to visit me are sick, dying, certifiably crazy, drug addicts, related to one of the above, or ALL of the above.  I don't know why I expect them all to be nice, sweet, friendly patients.  Don't get me wrong, some of them ARE nice, just not many of them.  However, they need me.  I am a link in their healthcare.  For some, I am the one they talk to concerning their latest ailment.  I am the one who calls their prescriber to change the medication they can't afford to something more manageable.  Sometimes, I'm just the one who listens because no one else will.
It's definitely not a walk in the park.  The hours are long and varied.  The responsibility is heavy.  But I enjoy making a difference.  My children don't have to go to daycare.  When I go home, I know my family is waiting for me.  For this, I am thankful.


I'm Thankful for Coffee

Today, I am thankful for iced coffee. 

I am thankful for Starbucks and their amazing creations.  I am thankful for the Pioneer Woman and her lovely homemade recipes.  I adore the sweet icy goodness on a cool day and the venti options with an extra shot of espresso when I have to work overnight.  To me, ordering an iced coffee is the ultimate indulgence.   For this, I am thankful.


I'm Thankful for my Husband

This is the most amazing man alive.  Without him, I don't want to imagine my life.  Not only is he hilarious, but he is also incredibly thoughtful and kind.  You're looking at the glue for our family.  I work crazy hours, and he is the stable one for our children  He makes me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for lunch.  He cleans the toilets, takes out the trash, and does the laundry.   I don't think I've had to take out the trash since we got married.  I adore him.  Our children adore him. 

"I have found the one whom my soul loves" Song of Songs 3:4

Words cannot express how grateful I am for my husband.  I still can't believe he chose me.  For all that he does and all that he loves, I am thankful.


So Thankful

I can't believe Thanksgiving is in one week!  I can hardly wait to eat turkey and all the extras!  I actually have to work this year so I think hubby and I are going to cook on Wednesday (I am off) and have our big meal, then eat leftovers on Thanksgiving day.  After all one of the best parts about Thanksgiving are the leftovers!  Don't you agree?  

Spark Holiday

Anyways, from now until next Thursday I am going to post one thing I am thankful for.  Sometimes, it's hard to sit and think about what is really important in the hustle of life.  This time of year forces many of us to mull it over.  I love sharing a wonderful meal with family and friends to remind us of what we are thankful for and how fortunate we really are.  Will you join with me this week?  Will you take the time to "count your blessings'?  Please leave a comment or re-blog your thankfulness!

I'll go first.  I am thankful for Thanksgiving leftovers.  Not only are they amazing to eat, but each bite reminds me of Thanksgiving, my family, friends, and what we are thankful for.  Good food makes me happy and ties in the memory of the special day.  (as long as we didn't talk about politics or religion and no one stormed off angry.)  It's like Thanksgiving for as long as the leftovers last!  

Your turn!


Another Park Playday

Last weekend we took the kiddos to a park.  One of the shopping attractions in our city has a nice fenced in park along the waterfront with equipment sized for smaller children.  It is perfect for my munchkins.  However, the day we chose was a bit chilly.  The wind gusts made for a short visit.

Slides are the best.

Love the joy on his face!

Is there any other way to go down a slide?

My happy baby boy!

Precious girl, she was too active to get many pictures.

Really love this one.

This is the water the playground overlooks.  It is a large pond with shops and eateries all the way around and chuck-full of fish and ducks.  A kind lady from the toy store gave us bread to feed them.  I wish we had pictures of that.  Maybe next time.


Are you Afraid of the Dark?

Ok, so its November and my three year old still wants to wear her swimsuit.  Swimming lessons have been over for a month.  It's too chilly to wear it to the beach.  We have been keeping them locked up.  Her closet has a lock on the inside.  I don't know why, but it has come in helpful.  She has, like, four of them.  She has given them names.  Color, blue, brown, and I'm not really sure what she calls the two piece.  Anyway, she still wants to wear them.  The other day, she had a conversation about it with my hubby.  She told him the "color soup" was afraid of the dark.  It needed to come out of the closet.  I find this hilarious.  I wish I could have that conversation with her.  I mean, I don't really know how to respond to that, but find it amazing my child is thinking up ways to liberate her swimming "soups" from the dark closet.  She knows there is a key to unlock the door; so she sticks things in it (bobby pins, belt buckle, anything small and pointy) to try to open it.  She is pretty smart.

Princess in her "colors" suit
How do you reason with a three year old?  Should you even try?  Hubby told her the swimming suits like the dark.  How would you respond?


November Birchbox

It's here!

My November Birchbox has arrived!

This month I received:
  • Zoya nail polish in Noel (a sparkly denim blue)
  • Supersmile professional whitening toothpaste
  • Jouer Lip Enhancer
  • Twirl, a fragrance by Kate Spade
  • Alex & Isabelle classic hair ties
I adore the fragrance and the lip enhancer.  I am eager to see how well the toothpaste works.  I'm not sure how Birchbox knew blue is my favorite color, but I can't wait to paint my nails.  Another fun-filled box and I have great gift ideas!  Love my Birchbox!


Handsome's Second Birthday Party

My baby boy turned two!  We celebrated with two parties.  (here is the first one.)  The second one I planned a bit better.  It wasn't at impromptu.  I enjoy organizing and planning a party when I have the time.  I chose a harvest/fall theme so I could take advantage of the seasonal decorations. 

house salad
crockpot lasagna
garlic bread
pumpkin bread and cake
salted caramel cupcakes
apple cider

Forgive me for not taking pictures of the main course.  I had a house full of hungry people and kiddos that were pre-occupied with cupcakes and presents.  The recipe for crockpot lasagna can be found here.  The only alteration I made was to add 1lb of ground hamburger to appease Hubby.  It turned out delicious.  The dessert recipes can be found here and here.

For the party decor, I uses items I already had on hand.  Mini pumpkins, upcycled glass jars with raffia paper and yellow fabric tied on.  I did buy the flowers at the grocery store.  It was one bouquet and I split it up. 

Here is my angel waiting patiently for his cupcake.

Devouring said cupcake. He is so serious!

Playing with a train while waiting for Papa to get the fire truck out of the package.

Finally!  Getting to play with the fire truck!  Oh to be two again!



Today, he is two.

This was just over a year ago.

You melt my heart.

I can't imagine my life without you.

Happy Birthday, Handsome boy.


Salted Caramel Cupcakes

You've probably heard about the Salted Caramel craze.  I first heard of it last year when Starbucks featured a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.  Then, this year they had a Salted Caramel Mocha.  I adored it.  There is something wonderful about the sweet saltiness.  While reading this blog, I discovered a recipe for Salted Caramel Cupcakes.  They looked divine.  Plus, I had a birthday celebration to plan and they seemed like the perfect dessert.  I gave it a go, and here is how it turned out.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes
  • one box of chocolate cake mix.  bake according to package directions to produce 24 cupcakes.
  • 1 cup caramel sauce
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • frosting
  • crushed heath bar candy (optional)  (I used mini chocolate chips)
While the cupcakes are baking, warm the caramel sauce.  Stir in 1/2 t of sea salt.  Pour into squeeze-able condiment bottle.  Once the cupcakes come out, squirt the caramel into the hot cupcakes.  Cool as normal.  Frost with icing, top with candy and caramel drizzle.

I had high hopes for these cupcakes.  I envisioned perfect little cakes, one with a candle for my baby's second birthday.  However, my daughter had other plans.

I made the cupcakes on Friday.  Saturday morning, I awoke to "cupcakes!" uttered in a delightful child's voice.  It woke me up out of a dead sleep.  I rushed in to the kitchen to discover my daughter on the counter.  She had opened up the cupcake container and dumped the top layer over onto the bottom.  She was licking the frosting off the stops.  Frosting and caramel are everywhere.  She turns to look at me and says" delicious, Mommy!"  I grab her off and run to the bathroom to wash her hands.  I cry for my husband to come help me clean up and salvage what we can.  Princess had a time-out until I could stop shaking.

This is actually a cleaned-up version.

And these are the "display" cupcakes for the party.  They were yummy and went fast.  The moral of the story is don't expect picture perfect endings, but enjoy the weaving of the tale.  Life is too short to wait 24 hours for salted caramel cupcakes.

Anyone else wake-up with cupcakes on the brain?  Or maybe you have a wonderful story of your three year old climbing on the counter (with a chair, mind you)?  Please tell me I'm not the only mother out-witted by her children.



Sunday afternoon was beautiful.  We chose to spend it at the boardwalk.  It wasn't that busy since its the "off" season.  There are lots of shops and restaurants, and of course, the beautiful beach.

The Sky Wheel was new this summer.  I'm not sure how much it costs.  I think it would be an awesome date night.  Just me and Hubby at sunset.  Or maybe just after sunset when its all lit up.

Its pretty big.  We ate lunch underneath/beside it.

Picture of Hubby with his brothers and dad.

And of course the much sought after family photo.

We had a great afternoon with the family and I'm looking forward to going again.  There is something nostalgic about enjoying funnel cakes, hot dogs and Ferris Wheel rides along the beach.


Pumpkin Bread Craze

Ok, so I admit I'm not the first one with this idea.  I have read about it on Pinterest and this blog.  But it sounds so good and easy I had to try it.  I am ALL for three ingredient recipes.  Plus, with Handsome's birthday party coming up, I had an excuse to make it.

Pumpkin Bread

  • one box spice cake mix
  • one can pumpkin
  • few shakes of pumpkin pie spice
Mix ingredients in a bowl.  It will be really thick and hard to stir.  This is the one time I wish I used a mixer instead of a wooden spoon.  Pour into pan and bake according to package directions.

Variation of Pumpkin Bread/Cake

  • one box of yellow cake mix
  • one can of pumpkin
  • few shakes of pumpkin pie spice
  • mini chocolate chips
Mix first three ingredients in bowl.  Once combined, fold in chocolate chips.  Pour into pan and bake according to package directions.  (I used a fluted pan and drizzled cream cheese frosting over the top)

Pumpkin bread pictured on plate.  Chocolate chip pumpkin cake pictured on stand.  Cupcake recipe to come.  They don't involve pumpkin.  Both pumpkin treats turned out VERY moist.  I might have been able to bake them a bit longer, however, they were not under done.  I definitely will try these again!

Anyone else have a fabulous three ingredient recipe?  What about a "go to" recipe when you throw a party?  Please share!


Shelf Styling

My favorite part about my living room are the shelves.  Especially the tall ones.  I've always loved the idea of a wall full of shelves.  Filling them with books and time-worn treasures warms my soul like hot chocolate sliding down your throat on a cold winter day.  Here's a peek inside my soul.
the whole thing.  plus a bunny.

Shelves from Target online.  Candlesticks from World Market, bunny from Mom.

Top shelf, left side.  Hive vase from West Elm.  Clear glass pumpkin jar from Walgreens filled with M&Ms.  A Pharmacist Prayer framed, a gift from my MIL.  Three things, similar color scheme.

Top shelf, right side.  A lovely poetry gift to my hubby from when we were first dating.  Hurricane from Crate and Barrel, filled with candle and sea shells collected from our many beach walks.  Paper weight stolen from my Mom, gnomes from West Elm, gifted from my Mom and Hubby.  Five things, again similar color scheme.

Upper middle shelf, left side.  Another poetry piece, glass bottle and tea light arrangement, collection from West Elm, World Market, and up-cycled wine bottle.  Again, similar color arrangement.

Upper middle shelf, right side.  Mercury glass vase, West Elm,  framed print, gift from Mom, love letters, from Target, stacked books, apple, hubby's NYC souvenir.  I had to play with this arrangement until I found one I liked.  The apple does get moved often and is currently living on the top shelf.  Let's just say munchkins can reach him so he gets moved a lot.

Middle shelf, left side.  Two black and white photos of my kiddos, framed in Target frames.  Basket is from Pier One.  Black and white photos are my favorite.  I like the clean look.

Middle shelf, right side.  Books collected since childhood.  Its a combination of mine and hubby's.  This is just a small bit of paperbacks.  I tried to put them in a color arrangement, but it really doesn't have much of an impact on a small scale.  Notice how these two lower shelves are more kid-friendly, in other words, nothing can break.

Bottom two shelves.  Mainly heavy books.  I felt we need to anchor the shelves a bit.  The milk crate baskets are from Target and are VERY functional.  I can't recommend them enough.  One acts as a filing cabinet for important paperwork.  The two others hold throw blankets and toss pillows.  The teal boxes are also from Target.  One houses loose photos, and the other CDs.  Who uses CDs anymore?  I'm stuck storing them.  Also, notice the toys on the floor.  The toy basket/shelf organization is another post, for another day.

And that's my shelf post.  Seriously, I love rearranging them.  I call it therapy.  In another month or so, I will "winterize" them.  Can't wait.

How do you display your treasures?  Anyone else find rearranging trinkets therapeutic?  Spill.