September 18, 2015

Friday Favorites :: Food - Purple Potato Salad

Well this has been an interesting week. I left work early sick on Monday. I worked all day on Tuesday and totally overdid it which led to my taking Wednesday off to go to the doctor and then rest. I have a sinus infection by the way. AG insisted she needed to see her doctor too and by Wednesday night I agreed. I went to work Thursday morning for about an hour and then left to take her to the doctor. She has an ear infection and angry sinuses due to allergies. It's a rough time of year for us with the weather changing so abruptly. But she's in good spirits and seems to be doing much better today. She even slept good with no coughing last night thanks to some excellent medicines and essential oils that I rubbed her down with, diffused, and put on her stuffed animals and pillow. It seemed excessive but whatever works to help my baby get the rest she needs I will do. 
All that being said, I think you'll understand why I needed an easy dinner last night. We had pork chops (DIY Shake 'n Bake), squash with onions, and purple potato salad. 
A few years ago I made a potato salad that hubby deemed the BEST potato salad he'd ever eaten and insisted I write down what I did. It was so simple so I agreed and now feels like a good time to explain why I don't do a lot of food posts. I'm the kind of person who cooks with no recipe or when I do use a recipe it's just as a guideline and I tend not to measure things unless I'm baking. Cooking is an art, baking is a science. Both appeal to me for different reasons. I only recently realized that my ability to know how ingredients will taste together by smell is a gift. I just thought everyone did that. 
Cooking for my family is such a joy but my time is limited so I try and keep things simple. I'm going to make an effort to pay attention to quantities when I cook so I can share my favorite go-to meals with y'all. Let's start with potato salad. This time it was fancy because I found these cool little purple potatoes at "Plubix" (as AG says.)
As I mentioned, I wrote this recipe years ago. Thankfully my beloved family cookbook was up high on a shelf during the flood so it was perfectly fine. This recipe was hanging on the fridge with several others until shortly before the flood when I pulled them down and tucked the best ones into that notebook. The fridge flipped over so I'm very thankful I did that. Anyway, here's the recipe in all of its handwritten glory.
I did tweak it a bit because I try and avoid posting my family members' real names or AGs current face on here. I'm afraid of internet creepers.
Can you see how dirty that paper is? I have a theory that the dirtier the recipe, the better it is. This is totally true if you flip through my family cookbook. The persimmon bread recipe is barely legible. But that's one for another day. 
I first made this with baking/russet potatoes because it's what I had on hand. This time I used the whole bag of the purple potatoes because it really wasn't much. I just doubled the amount of dressing I mixed up. Probably a cup of mayo, a big squeeze of mustard, a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper. (I told you I don't measure) I put those in a big bowl and mix them up with a whisk and just add more of those ingredients to taste as needed. I want it a little strong because it's going to be spread pretty thin. 
While the potatoes are boiling (in salted water) I mix that dressing up and chop a bell pepper and the green onion. These potatoes took about 20-30 minutes to cook fully. I add my egg (2 this time) into the boiling water with the potatoes for the last 10 minutes or so. 
I figure the boiling water kills any nasty egg shell bacteria and I don't see the need to boil another pot of water when I've already got one in use. I've been doing this for years and I've never had a problem with it. 
I don't have any other pictures of the process because it got messy. I drained and rinsed the potatoes and eggs with cool water and poured them out onto my cutting board. I let them cool a few minutes then quartered the potatoes. I noticed quickly that the skins were papery and falling off so I couldn't just leave them. I would quarter 5 or so at a time and then remove the skins and throw them in the big bowl with the dressing and other ingredients. These little purple potatoes are cute but they were sticky like glue when I would cut them while warm. That didn't last long and thankfully the texture of them in the potato salad was just like russets except these held their shape better. Hubby actually requested I mash them some next time to make it creamier and more "potatoey".  I think he's absolutely right and I will. I saved the eggs for last so they could cool extra. After I peeled them, AG came and helped me cut them. I gave her a little kid butter knife and she did great! She even tossed them in and helped me stir. She insisted on using her own special little spoon. Here's our finished product, complete with AGs little spoon.
Looks weird right? That's what we thought too but it tastes just like normal potato salad. Those purple potatoes are packed with antioxidants just like other deep blue produce which makes them a big win in my book. I'm going to try making them mashed next time. With their texture so similar to a russet I think they'll work great. 
Have you ever used purple potatoes? Does your local grocery store carry them? Yesterday was my first time seeing them outside of a cooking show so when I saw they were buy one get one free, I couldn't resist. 

September 14, 2015

Seven Years of Choosing Love

This weekend hubby and I celebrated seven years of marriage.

I just couldn't help the Friends reference.
It was a fabulous beach getaway while AG and Gauge had Camp Mimi time. I wasn't at all concerned about leaving AG because I knew she would have a blast. I was, however, concerned about leaving my very indoor dog in their backyard with their dogs. Yes, he's about 70lbs of crazy but he's my boy and I've spoiled him rotten. They claim he did great and had fun "being a dog". But I really can't wait to get there this evening and see his reaction when I open up the back of my van. I have a feeling when he gets home he isn't going to want to go outside for a long while.
We really had a great weekend. Our condo had the best view! 

The weather wasn't always ideal but we definitely made the best of it. We started the weekend right with a coffee shop stop Friday morning and I had to snap this photo of my handsome hubby. I seriously can't stop looking at it. He's my favorite. 
Friday was rainy so I splashed in the water a little but it wasn't as fun in the rain and certainly wasn't fun alone so I came inside and joined hubby on the couch and we watched a documentary on Netflix because we are 100 years old. It was actually fun and very interesting. It's called Muscle Shoals and it's all about the music industry in Muscle Shoals, AL. I'm from AL and the only thing I knew about Muscle Shoals was that there was a sweet red-headed girl in my dorm at Auburn, freshman year who was from there. It was fascinating to learn that so many amazing and extremely famous musicians went there to make their best music. Did you know that? I didn't.
After the documentary we got ready to go out for the night, because we might be old but we like to party once a year for our anniversary. And I think we clean up pretty well. 

We spent the evening at our favorite beach restaurant and devoured our seafood nachos. Live music starts at 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights and *usually* by 10pm all the kids are gone and the focus shifts to the stage and dance floor. It's awesome because the crowd is actual grown ups and we don't feel ancient. We always know we will have a good time there. When we got back to the condo we stayed up until almost 4am! This deserves the exclamation point because I typically want to go to bed about 9 or 10. I don't even remember what we watched on TV but it was a good time and a well deserved break from any sort of responsibility.
Saturday was cloudy but not as rainy so we did get to have some beach time. We started the day with coffee on the balcony and it was fantastic. After a couple cups of coffee we headed downstairs to the beach and played a little but it was overcast so we mostly hung out on the sand and looked for shells a little and pretended to be tourists to a certain extent. I draw the line at feeding the birds.

Attention tourists:
Unless you're alone on the beach, just don't feed the seagulls.
Sincerely, The Locals
I tried to catch a beach nap but then the nearby tourists started feeding the seagulls and I feared getting pooped on so it was time to wrap it up.

We changed and headed into town to do some anniversary shopping. We went to the golf course for him to demo some newly released clubs and hit some range balls. 
I got covered in dirt no less than 3 times. Three. I eventually moved so far away I couldn't even get a decent pic of hubby. 
I tried to read a book but then checked the score on the Auburn game and almost lost my mind. 
This was before I knew how bad my tigers were playing. It was a simpler time.
I downloaded the Watch ESPN app (in about 30 seconds, thanks Verizon!) and signed into our Dish account and let me tell you, the game was as clear as if I were at home watching it on TV. It was small on my iPhone but so clear. I was amazed. And then I was amazed at something else. How terrible we were playing. It was not pretty folks. We left the golf course at the end of the 3rd quarter and listened to the game in the car. As we were driving to the mystery store to pick out my gift it was called that we were going into overtime. I decided shopping could wait and we pulled into the nearest sports themed restaurant. I was too nervous to eat so I just drank water and yelled at the TV. It was an ugly win but at least it was a win.
Hubby had a surprise in mind for me but wanted my help in picking out the exact item. I was in full on suspense mode until he told me where to go and then I figured out why he couldn't tell me the store. It was a shoe store! I ended up buying the first and only pair I tried on. It was glorious y'all. I needed a nice pair of exercise shoes so bad. Aren't they pretty? They are so comfortable! And they were on sale. And I had a coupon. I was thrilled.

For hubby's present I adorned his Yeti hugger with a Florida logo. It was a last minute decision on Thursday and I got a friend of mine to cut the vinyl and I stuck it on there when he wasn't with me. He was surprised and he loves it. He used it Saturday night and several people stopped and asked him about it.
Speaking of Saturday night, we went to the sports bar and grill on the beach and had a great time. I even celebrated National Chocolate Milkshake day with a bushwacker or 2. We made new friends and hubby saw some old ones too. I'm not even kidding when I say he knows someone everywhere we go.
From there we went back to our favorite place to catch night two of the live band. By this point my sore throat had intensified to the point that I ordered two waters from the bar. Never a good sign. The wind picked up and I was freezing and started coughing and sneezing so we called it a night before midnight. It was still a pretty good night up until the full blown sinus attack.
Thankfully, I woke up Sunday morning (our actual anniversary day) feeling much better. My mother in law brought AG to us and she was beside herself to be at the beach and back with mommy and daddy. And we were thrilled to have her with us. She was in constant motion. 
The three of us had brunch and headed to the beach. It was a perfect day! The sun was shining but it wasn't too hot. The water was refreshing but not cold. It was beautiful. 
While we were playing in the water I noticed something dark in some seaweed that seemed like it was moving toward me but I wasn't sure because it just looked like goo. I scooped it up with our net and it turned out to be a weird sea creature that we'd never seen before. We have both grown up on the coast and spent a lot of time in the water. I thought it was odd that hubby didn't even know what it was because he knows what everything is that I find in the water. Our theory is that they are either very new here or they are just passing through and the conditions were perfect to be seeing them.
I get the heeby-geebys just looking at them.
After some later googling, we learned this is called a "Sea Hare" - google it, they disgust me. They are basically a sea slug and I do not do well with slugs. Because we didn't know what they were, we opted not to touch them but hubby caught a few and put them in a bucket of water and brought them on the beach to look at more closely with us. AG said they were hungry so she "fed" them sand.
The rest of our beach time consisted of going into the water and out of the water and into the water and out of the water. You get it. I got to teach AG to use the sifter toy to sift the sand and find shells. She LOVED this and did it for a while. 

I told her we also sift flour like this to bake some cakes and she was delighted to bake me sand cakes. I was filming her playing when all of the sudden she says "and you treat yourself (looks at camera and points right into it) with honey!" I have no idea where she got that. She went on to explain about some TV show she'd watched so I think it's related to that but regardless, it is one of my favorite moments that's ever been caught on film.
From the beach she asked to go swim in the pool so we did just that. As soon as we put her floaty back on she jumped and swam over and over again. 
Jumping in, but doesn't it look like she's just walking on the water
She wants to be a mermaid when she grows up and her method of swimming around looks like she's doing the butterfly
When we got back to the condo I gave her a shower then sent her in her towel to go get dressed and hang out with her daddy. By the time I came out of the shower about 15 minutes later, she was passed out on the couch. Hubby said she told him she was tired and when he suggested she could go to sleep she said "but I want to spend time with you and watch Netflix." It was probably less than 5 minutes after that when she fell asleep. Sidenote: She's been saying "I want to spend time with you" for the last couple weeks. It all started when I explained that she would go stay with Mimi for a few nights so mommy and daddy could spend some time together. Its so sweet and heartwarming when she says it.
She woke up on the way home when we stopped at Taco Bell so we got her a soft taco supreme just like I eat and let me tell you, she ate that whole thing then asked for another taco! At that point we were out of tacos so I promised another snack when we got home. We were all so glad to be back in our own home that AG was asleep before 9pm despite her late nap and hubby and I were in bed by 10pm, a rarity for the night owl I'm married to.
It really was another wonderful Anniversary weekend. I am so blessed. 

Update: I was right. When I let Gauge out of the yard and walked him to my van, he dragged me there. He jumped right in and wedged himself as far in as he could. I couldn't even drag him closer to me to remove his leash. He was beside himself to be home. He's been in his house for well over an hour and hasn't come out.

September 10, 2015

FREE Photo Book Deal

I don't normally post deals but I love Shutterfly so much I had to share this one!
Until September 16 all customers can get a FREE 8x8 20 page photo book! If you've never ordered one from Shutterfly now is the time. They are so nice. Shipping is about $8 for me and you do have I pay that. I'll be ordering one this time for sure! Go here to create your book and enter the code FREETREAT at checkout to redeem the offer. It's that easy. Happy creating!

Shutterfly Photo Books 300x600

September 9, 2015

AG's Third Birthday Party Planning

We had so much fun at AG's birthday party! I had almost as much fun planning it as we did at the party itself. Which I think says a lot about my personality. I scoured the internet for affordable, fun, and easy to create DIY projects that would work for our backyard/deck party, and if they fit the Frozen theme - bonus. Some of these we can enjoy for years to come, one I was too tired to execute properly, and one was just a flat out fail. Today, I want to share the inspiration and let you go check out my sources. I'll be sharing more about my experience with each one over the next week and I'll update this post with links to my own as I do that.

1 - DIY Ring Toss Game | Mom Endeavors 
*I just discovered this blog. It's no wonder Sara was chosen as a Lowes Creative Blogger. You won't regret checking out her site but be warned, it's easy to get sucked in and not even realize it.
2 - Sponge Water Bombs | House of Hepworths 
*I couldn't find my original source for this. I searched and searched but eventually I gave up and wanted to share this one with you. It's very similar to what I made, plus I've been a fan of Allison's blog for years. She has no idea but she was one of the bloggers who really inspired me to start this one and maintain it. They recently moved and I'm looking forward to following along on their journey and seeing all that she comes up with to do in their new home. She is so creative and she does a great job explaining her projects.
3 - Build An Olaf Kit | A Million Moments
*I just discovered this blog too. It's a great site that would also be easy to get sucked into. I really enjoy her photography. She makes me want to do better!
4 - DIY Backyard Fishing Activity | Mom Endeavors
*I told you Sara's blog was easy to get sucked into. I ended up doing two projects of hers. Love it!
5 - Melting Elsa's Frozen Hands Activity | Happy Hooligans
*This is a great blog to check out if you have little ones. She has tons of craft projects and entertaining ideas for preschoolers which I adore!

September 4, 2015

Friday Favorites :: Boots

A high of 92 will not stop me from celebrating the start of college football and thus the official start of Fall! I'm celebrating by wearing my favorite boots and even considering a lightweight scarf. I might even drink a pumpkin spice latte. It's Fall y'all!
And happy First Boots Day to you!
My view of them
This guy is spoiled rotten
He's very suspicious of me taking pictures
I've been looking forward to writing this post for a while. I've been gazing longingly at my boots in my closet for months now and it's finally time to remove the wine bottles and slip them on. Let me stop right there for a sec. If your boots are falling over in your closet, you need to do something about this ASAP. Because I love my boots so much, I wanted to do everything in my power to protect them. Starting with storage. I didn't want to hide them away in a box so I had to find a way to keep them upright. I didn't like the idea of paying for a special product for this and I didn't have any of these on hand. But you know what I did have? Wine. And if I had to drink a couple bottles of wine for the sake of fashion then so be it. I feel like it's important to mention that this "project" took several days to complete and was not done in one evening. I slipped one bottle in each boot every time I take them off and they have remained like new. Funny story, last Fall, during flood renovations we were staying with my in laws for a couple nights and one morning I wore my boots to work. Well, I left the wine bottles laying by my suitcase and my father-in-law might've gotten the wrong impression. Ha! I had to explain when I got back later that day that NO, I did not drink 2 bottles of wine last night, but rather I am a boot storage genius. We all had a good laugh about that one. And truth be told, I'm probably not a genius but rather just a regular person who saw it on Pinterest somewhere and doesn't remember these kinds of details. So maybe don't give me full credit for that idea. Speaking of credit. I need to give some to Melanie over at The Big Mama Blog for enlightening me to the world of Frye boots. Specifically the Jackie Button Boot. These became my obsession when I saw them on her blog and that obsession only grew when I heard her talk about them in the audio version of her book, The Antelope in the Living Room which you should know is easily my favorite book. I knew that despite loosing my boots in the flood, there was no way I could pay retail for these. My $17 Target clearance boots that I lost do not even come close to comparing to these but still. I knew hubby would be a hard sell. I started slowly preparing him for the sticker shock. I made him listen to that part of the book and hear her describe them. I talked about quality and how they would last a lifetime. I basically sounded like a commercial. Then I hit him with the retail cost. BUT as I explained to him, I knew I could find them for a fraction of that barely used. He was in. What he didn't expect was that about 2 weeks later they would be in my possession. Thanks eBay! High five to you! There was a girl in Alabama with feet the same size as mine, 8.5 in boots if you're wondering, who needed money so she was selling her boots. For half of retail. I couldn't bid fast enough! Persistence paid off and I won that auction. When I got them in they were just as described and fit like a dream. I was so nervous throughout the whole process. I've never paid that much for shoes, especially ones that I couldn't return. It was really scary using eBay for basically the first time (I used it in college for text books). I now see how people become addicted to it. It was such a rush to win. It was just like when Monica got new boots on Friends
Monica: Honey, I’m not returning them. Okay? I mean I-I know they cost a lot, but I’m going to wear them all the time. You’ll see. Besides, I love the compliments. I mean, have you ever had something so beautiful everyone wanted it?
Chandler: I have you.
Monica: Nice try; I’m keeping the boots. 
And this:
Monica: I’m getting a lot of use out of them already! They’re very practical. See, you can wear them with dresses, with skirts, with pants.
It's because of this logic that I ended up wearing them for the first time with a dress in the sweltering heat to an outdoor evening of dinner and dancing for our anniversary last year. In September. But you know what? My feet were hot but they didn't hurt in the least. That's when I knew this was a good purchase. They are so comfortable. I can't speak to the breaking-in phase because mine came broken in (which is another perk to buying second hand) but I've read that it takes about a week. The leather is so soft. I've never had such a nice pair of shoes and [unfortunately] now I'm hooked. I still need to waterproof them. I’m honestly just scared it’ll mess up the feel of them and I LOVE how soft they are. I don’t really have much choice though because I want them to stay nice and I also want to be able to wear them without checking the forecast first every single time. Do you have a favorite pair of boots? What brand do you recommend? Let me know in the comments. I would love some suggestions! I think I need a black pair and maybe a shiny brown pair…

*This post contains affiliate links. Amazon will send me some pennies a commission for any purchase you make after clicking one of my links. There is no difference in price for you. I only link to things I actually use myself and love. Thank you for your support!

September 2, 2015

Sparkly Bracelet and Matching Necklace

The last week has been a whirlwind. AG's birthday party was Saturday and it took a LOT of prep work. I took Thursday and Friday off of work to get everything ready and still ended up with only about 3 hours of sleep Friday night. It was all worth it though because AG loved her party and I'd say it was a huge success. It was also the debut of our flood renovations for most of the family and our first deck party. We received tons of compliments on the house and deck. 
I'll be posting the DIY party ideas soon that we used along with the results. Some were great. Some not so much. Next year I'll either be going way less elaborate or taking more than 2 days to prep for it. OR we might just be doing it elsewhere. That could be a fun change some years.
I've been spending the last week away from the blog because my posts would've basically looked like this:
I got up and went to work. I was tired. I got my girl and came home. Managed to stay awake to cook supper, enjoyed quality time with AG and then fell asleep. 
But tonight I'm feeling more rested and because I know me, I'm typing this as I cook supper. I use the word "cook" loosely because I put a pork loin in the crock pot this morning. (If you haven't tried the Hormel Always Tender pork loins, you're missing out on a simple and delicious dinner. Seriously, go get one or lots. You won't regret it. I'm not being sponsored to say that either.) I've got lima beans steaming and some water coming to a boil for pasta. While we are being real, it's pasta in a box. I know. I know. It has xyz in it that is sooooo bad for us. But you know what? Hubby went to the grocery store and that's what he brought home and quite frankly, I am just so grateful to (a) not have had to go grocery shopping and (b) have an easy to fix supper element that there are zero complaints coming from this momma. There are a few really sexy things a husband can do: dishes, vacuuming, and grocery shopping. Am I right ladies? 
I'll be back soon with a more inspired post. I just didn't want anyone to think I was ditching y'all. I've got something in the works for my Friday Favorites. Be sure to check back and see what I'm featuring.
I'll leave you with a funny AG moment. This morning when I woke her up she said to me, "Momma, I like that neck-a-lace but it doesn't match your shirt. It doesn't have any black in it. You need to change it and put on one with black in it to match your shirt." My little threenager fashionista. Goodness. For the record, she also insisted that I needed a sparkly bracelet and I neither changed my necklace nor put on a bracelet. I'm a rebel like that. And I didn't have time.