Friday, August 30, 2013

Tailgate Ready

 

 

I have spent the past couple days getting prepared for our tailgate and we are ready to have some fun. College football season, with its rivalries, school colors and beautiful fall days on a college campus, is something to look forward to each year. I have been busy compiling tablecloths, cups, serving dishes - all my green and white items, that make our tailgate festive.

I have been to the grocery store three times and will be making my Best Tailgate Dip as well as BBQ Chicken Sliders. To make the sliders, I simply bake boneless chicken breasts, shred and mix with Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce. I provide slider buns for my tailgate friends to make their own sandwiches. For a sweet tailgate treat, I will also be taking my S'more Brownies. Our friends will bring even more food and our table will be full with a delicious tailgate feast.

We will have time to relax, eat and have a cocktail or two before game time and will enjoy our time on campus. There is a special atmosphere at the first game, where the season stretches out with possibility. I look forward to walking into the stadium and hearing the fight song - go green!

And the best part - we get to see this girl :-)

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday...gardening, reality tv, etc.

 
 
 
  • All of a sudden, my flowers are at that stage where the annuals are looking overgrown and straggly and the perennials need to be cut back. I guess that at least in the gardening world, fall is arriving. I'm sure if I go to the gardening center the mums will be for sale, ready for purchase and ready to add some fresh fall touches to my yard. My flowers have had a long, glorious run this summer, but I also look forward to those pretty mums. They are so affordable and give such a splash of color.
  • Speaking of fall coming, I bought some beautiful granny smith apples the other day and made one of my favorite baked oatmeal recipes - Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal. I enjoyed it for breakfast this morning and it tasted like a little piece of fall, with the apple and cinnamon flavors. It is such a healthy, yet delicious way to have my morning oatmeal.

 

  • I haven't mentioned the Real Housewives in a while, but I have been watching the Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion - all three parts. While I did enjoy the season, the reunion, especially the last installment with the Brooks and Vicki drama just all felt like too much information that could have remained private. I know these women sign up for these programs to show their lives, but there should be some boundaries when it comes to the family issues. I watch these shows to laugh and it wasn't funny; just a little sad.

 

  • Isn't texting a wonderful thing? When it comes to staying in touch with my daughters, it has become our everyday lifeline to each other. Maybe just to say hi, but it makes it easy and quick, when they are busy with class or work, to still make a connection. It makes me wonder how our parents survived the college years before cell phones and texting. I remember only calling home once a week, usually on Sundays, from the wall phone in our dorm room. Thank goodness for today's technology!

 

Linking with Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, Thursday Thoughts

 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What I Am Reading Lately

 

 

While summer has been winding down, I have discovered a new author and I have been making my way through her books. They have been a great discovery and I have enjoyed all of them very much. The author, Liane Moriarty, writes unique books, filled with an interesting mix of humor and serious subjects like amnesia, infertility, past secrets and depression. Every book had its own brand of suspense that keeps you turning the pages to find out the conclusion.

I started with her latest; The Husband's Secret, and after I finished, I was caught up in her writing style and descriptions of modern day life in Sydney, Australia. Her characters are flawed, but always honest and live their lives with humor in the face of unusual circumstance.

Of all the books by this author, my favorite was The Last Anniversary, with its murder mystery undertones and its unique island setting. The most intriguing; What Alice Forgot, tells the story of a woman who wakes up from an accident believing that it is ten years earlier. How she deals with finding herself older and living a different life makes you both laugh and think of how your own life has changed in ten years and how you would feel in those circumstances.

Yesterday, I started The Whole Enchilada, the latest, by Diane Mott Davidson and am looking forward to catching up with caterer, Goldy Schultz. While running a successful catering business, she always manages to get tangled up in a murder investigation, that lends an element of danger, as well as humor, to her cooking. I love that the author provides recipes along with the story.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

DIY Bathroom Tile Cleaner

 

 

With the bathrooms in my home at the top of our renovation list, sometime in the future, cleaning is a little more difficult. Everything is not fresh and new, but I like the tile to look that way. Tile cleaners from the store can be very harsh to use and by the time you are finished, the fumes are making your head spin.

This DIY Bathroom Tile Cleaner is one of the best cleaning products I have found for avoiding these harsh chemical fumes and the bonus is - it really works. You can make it in a spray bottle and have it handy to use on all tiled surfaces. It cuts through any soap scum and makes the tile and grout sparkle. I really like it for my textured shower door, always tricky to get clean. This cleaner makes it shine too.

To make in a spray bottle - mix 1/4 cup sudsy ammonia, 1/8 cup white vinegar, 6 T baking soda and 2 1/2 cups water. Shake gently to mix and use on tile and grout or other bathroom surfaces.

Have a great day!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Lil Luna

Kelly's Korner

Made From Pinterest

Debbiedoo's Pinterest Blitz

A Stroll Thru Life

House of Rose

Southern Lovely

Diana Rambles

Your Home Based Mom

Savvy Southern Style

Handy Man Crafty Woman

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Funky Junk Interiors

Between Naps on the Porch

Alderberry Hill

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

a bowl full of lemons

Kathe with an E

Life on Lakeshore Drive

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

A Delightsome Life

Cedar Hill Ranch

Skip To My Lou

The Shabby Creek Cottage

Rooted in Thyme

The Girl Creative

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

DIY by Design

Common Ground

Coastal Charm

 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Beautiful Weekend

 

 

Another busy weekend, filled with lots of good times and trying to enjoy every minute left of summer. It was filled with beautiful weather; open windows, blue skies and cool nights. We spent time with friends Saturday evening, sitting around their beautiful pool, long into the night.

Sunday afternoon brought another beautiful day, perfect for the neighborhood baby shower, I was invited to attend. One of my neighbor's daughters recently had a baby and is living with her, so we were happy to welcome the cute little boy to the world. It was nice catching up with my neighbors and we had a delicious lunch of chicken salad and fruit. As we gathered on her pretty deck to watch the guest of honor open presents, I couldn't help but think how lucky I am to have these wonderful friends, who just happen to be my neighbors.

By late afternoon, we were in the car, headed to East Lansing to take Melissa for a quick dinner and do a car swap with her. We went to a typical college restaurant with great burgers and beer. Nothing too fancy, but full of that college town atmosphere. Since my husband and I met at MSU, there are always memories of our time there to enjoy, as we drive around campus.

Hope you had a beautiful weekend too and happy Monday!

 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Shopping

 

 

You don't see a whole lot of fashion posts here and in fact, this may be the first one. I don't really love going to the mall, unless I have a specific purpose, like a gift to find or to take my daughters shopping. My style is pretty specific - simple and classic; somewhat preppy. I like pretty cardigans in the winter and in the summer I can mostly be found in comfortable golf skirts. You could say fashion and keeping up with trends is not my priority.

There is one on line store that I go back to over and over, when I need something new. I can usually find either something classic or maybe even a top with a little bit of pizzaz for a special occasion. Lately, my favorite place to shop on line is Ann Taylor Loft. The prices are affordable and if you sign up for e mail notices, there are flash sales all the time - a lot of the time 40% off, including sale items.

I do know that lace is a current trend, and I recently purchased, from Ann Taylor Loft, the pretty top in the photo. It was a great price and I plan on wearing it in the fall with black jeans and tall brown boots. Or, even a short black skirt with black boots. If the weather is cool, I can easily add a black cardigan. And, with any on line shopping, once you know your size at that particular store, ordering becomes easy.

The Loft has given me a hassle free and fun way to find that perfect new piece to update my wardrobe - and I don't have to find a parking space at the mall :-)

Have a great weekend!

 

Linking with Kelly's Korner, Show Us Your Life

 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday...movies, summertime, etc.

 

 

  • I am trying to appreciate every last bit of summer that I can, so I went to the pool yesterday. For me, it is such a wonderful opportunity to relax, that I will really miss it when it closes for the season, in just over one week. Sitting in that comfortable lounge chair, next to the blue, blue water is something I dream about, and long for, during the winter.
  • My salvia has finally started to flourish with the bright purple blossoms that I adore so much. I always plant a bunch in a sunny spot next to my driveway, in the front of the house and they love it there. However, this cooler than usual summer has held them back a little. The hot sun we've been having lately though, is just what they needed. Don't they look simple and sweet in a little crystal vase in my bedroom?
  • My thoughtful husband pointed out to me that Gone With the Wind was on television, without commercials, the other night and I was in the mood to watch it again. I'm sure like many of you, I have seen it more times than I can count. In fact, I was reading at the time and thought I would just have it on in the background and glance at it from time to time. Before long, my book was forgotten and I was caught up, once again, in the story of Scarlett, Rhett and the old south. The dialogue, the costumes and the characters never get old.

~

  • We found that we had a bee's nest in our basement last week and it was the scariest thing. I was in the basement and noticed one of the ceiling tiles, near a window, was falling. When I tried to push it back up, a swarm of bees appeared. I did get stung, but ran upstairs, put a towel in the door crack and called our bug service right away. Luckily, they came within a few hours and removed the nest. When they told me it was the size of a basketball and probably had 2000 bees, I felt a little weak in the knees. Crazy!

Enjoy your day :-)

 

Linking with Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, Thursday Thoughts

 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Meet The Team

 

 

A few days ago, my husband made a trip to East Lansing for the official Meet the Spartans day and was able to include Melissa. They share a love of MSU football, so it was a wonderful father, daughter activity that they will always remember.

They were able to take advantage of an empty football stadium and take some great photos. It is not often you have this kind of opportunity and they made the most of their chance. Spartan Stadium is a special place to MSU students and alumni, so this was a treat for both of them.

Part of the afternoon included the chance to meet with MSU Football Coach, Mark Dantonio and the football players. They were also given the opportunity to have the coach or players autograph something. They took this opportunity to have Coach Dantonio sign a football that we will donate to Melissa's MSU Pompon team, for a raffle they will hold at their parent tailgate.

Football season is right around the corner and this was a great way for these two fans to get a head start on all the excitement.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tailgate Treat - S'More Brownies

 

 

In less than two weeks we will be attending our first MSU tailgate of this football season. Melissa and her roommates, along with our friend's son, who is also a student, will stop by before the football game and we love to have great food for them to enjoy. We will serve something substantial, but I thought a chocolate dessert would be a great addition to the tailgate menu. Since the tailgate is at the start of Labor Day weekend; the traditional end of summer, a fun dessert would be a S'more Brownie.

The pin that I added to my Recipe board, on Pinterest, seemed easy, but did not include ingredient amounts or clear directions. So, I thought I would give the recipe a trail run in advance, to make sure the brownies were as good as they looked in the photo.

These were even more delicious than I imagined they would be. Melted chocolate, melted marshmallow and crunchy graham cracker, all on top of fudgy brownies. I had a small taste ( I couldn't resist), put a few out for my husband to enjoy and put the rest in the freezer to save for game day. Something tells me they will go quick once the students arrive at the tailgate :-)

 

Recipe for S'more Brownies


Prepare brownies with 13 x 9 brownie mix according to the directions. While brownies are baking, break 4 - 5 graham crackers into small pieces. Also chop 4 regular Hersey bars into small pieces. When brownies are done remove from oven and immediately top with 3/4 bag mini marshmallows. Sprinkle graham crackers on top of marshmallows. Place in broiler until marshmallows begin to melt and brown slightly. Take care not to burn graham crackers. Remove from broiler and immediately sprinkle chopped chocolate on top. Cut in squares when cool.


Have a great day!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Lil Luna

Made From Pinterest

Debbiedoo's Pinterest Blitz

A Stroll Thru Life

House of Rose

Southern Lovely

Diana Rambles

Your Home Based Mom

Savvy Southern Style

Handy Man Crafty Woman

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Funky Junk Interiors

Between Naps on the Porch

Alderberry Hill

The Dedicated House

Cozy Little House

a bowl full of lemons

Kathe with an E

Life on Lakeshore Drive

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

A Delightsome Life

Cedar Hill Ranch

Skip To My Lou

The Shabby Creek Cottage

Rooted in Thyme

The Girl Creative

The Tablescaper

Jennifer Rizzo

DIY by Design

Common Ground

Coastal Charm


Gooseberry Patch

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen


Semi Homemade Mom

Barns and Noodles


 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Couples Dinner

 

 

Friday night was a beautiful summer evening, and we were invited to a friend's house for dinner and drinks on her lovely patio. We started the evening chatting away over some simple appetizers with a good glass of wine, moved to dinner at her gorgeous table setting and finished the evening with more wine by the fire.

As the evening progressed, I began to think about the dynamic that tends to occur at a couples dinner. Some nights may be different than others, but in our group, the dynamic tends to follow a predictable path. At the beginning of the evening we socialize as couples, talking about a wide range of topics, interesting to all. We will continue this at dinner and sit in the traditional male, female seating arrangement.

But, it's after dinner that the group dynamic changes and the couples separate into two groups. The men may decide to smoke a cigar by the fire, and the women may decide to remain at the table with another bottle of wine. The talk changes to different topics - less small talk and more deep discussion.

It is interesting how this dynamic occurs and I always wonder if this is the norm with other groups of friends, when couples get together. I feel like it is invariably a dynamic that occurs with a group that is comfortable with each other. When couples have become close over the years, there is an easiness and a rhythm where similar conversations are picked up again and again. The topics may be different in the two groups, but problems are solved and advise is given over the course of an evening. Does your group of friends follow this couples dynamic too?

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nature Park

 

 

I am lucky to have many different paths to choose when I walk in my neighborhood, so it is not often I get in my car and drive to the park. But, I realized I had not been to the nature park, just a few miles away from my home, since last fall.

It was a beautiful, late summer afternoon to explore the different paths that circle the huge natural ponds. All the paths are surrounded by tall cat tails and to my surprise there were many different flowers growing along the way.

The ponds are filled with lilly pads and jumping frogs. There were some perfect white flowers on the lilly pads too - so pretty!

As my puppy and I followed the paths, it seemed we had the park to ourselves. The tall grasses and cat tails make it seem very secluded from the outside world and the busy road close by. One of the things I love about this park are the wooden bridges found throughout.

Sometimes just a simple walk in the park becomes so much more as you stop and notice the beauty around you. The blue sky peeking through the clouds, the lovely natural flowers next to the path and the reflection of the trees in the pond. A new day and a new look at the simple, yet beautiful things found during a daily walk.

Have a great weekend!

 

Linking with Savvy Southern Style and The Tablescaper, Oh The Places I've Been

 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thoughts for Thursday...books, empty nest, etc.

 

 

source

  • Whenever there is change, it takes me a while to get back in my groove. I am still feeling a bit melancholy over my daughter going back to college and the end of a fun summer. I am finding happiness in the little day to day things around me and will feel my usual contentment soon enough. This empty nest life is hard to get used to, as your children come and go.

 

  • I have been enjoying my daily walks with my cute little dog during these past few weeks of mild weather. I have even had to put on a jacket these past few days. How can you resist this face?
  • My latest and really the last flower to bloom in my perennial garden is this Sweet Coneflower. It grew amazingly tall this year and is bursting with these unique, pretty yellow flowers. I love the splash of color it brings this late in the season, as the other flowers are fading. Today, I will go cut some of the blooms for a bouquet to brighten up my kitchen.
  • Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes is one of the best books I have read in a long time. From the first chapter, the story grabs you and it is impossible to put down. It has a unique story and makes you think about the characters choices. Don't you love it when you stumble across a book that you can't imagine having never read, because it touched you in the way a good book can? And, I am happy to see this book will become a movie - these are characters I would love to see come alive on the screen.

Happy Thursday!

 

Linking with Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, Thursday Thoughts

 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

 

 

Since the temperature was downright chilly and only in the 60's yesterday, I didn't have to worry about using the oven and heating up my kitchen. It seemed the perfect night for a casserole and I wanted to try to put together something new. I saw a few versions of this recipe around the internet, but in the end, came up with this relatively low fat version.

It turned out delicious - in all its cheesy goodness. The chicken had great flavor and stayed moist under its layer of cheese. I decided to put it together in layers instead of mixing it together and it really did come out like chicken parmesan with a side of ziti. This will be a recipe I go back to again and again, probably changing up the type of pasta I use for added variety - it would be great with spaghetti too. With a side salad, you have an easy and quick week night dinner.

 

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti


1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders

1 cup bread Italian bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 eggs

1/2 cup fat free milk

1 pound Ziti or other pasta

1 jar prepared spaghetti sauce

1 package no fat or skim shredded mozerella cheese


Cook pasta el dente while you are preparing chicken. Mix together bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and seasonings in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat together eggs and milk. Heat olive oil in large pan. Dip chicken in egg mixture, then coat in bread crumb mixture. Brown each side well, about 4-5 minutes. Set aside on a plate, lined with a paper towel.

Pour cooked pasta in a large casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Spread spaghetti sauce on top of pasta. Sprinkle with a layer of grated parmesan cheese. Next, place chicken in a single layer. Top with shredded mozerella cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!

 

Happy Wednesday :-)

 

Linking with these friends

Gooseberry Patch

Between Naps on the Porch

Savvy Southern Style

Sunny Simple Life (From The Farm)

Rattlebridge Farm

This Gal Cooks

Mom's Test Kitchen


Semi Homemade Mom

Barns and Noodles


 

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