Thursday, July 30, 2009

When will "home" change?

I have not lived in my home town since 1998, when I went away to college at FSU - GO NOLES!! That was eleven years ago.. boy am I old. I am now married and have an amazing husband and beautiful daughter. We have a wonderful "home" and life in North Carolina, but for some reason, I still consider FL my home. When people ask me where I am from, I say FL. I really noticed it on this trip. We went to Disney and they always ask you where you are from. Justin would say NC and I would say FL. I have been contemplating why I still consider FL my home and obviously I am NOT a deep thinker... so I am still contemplating.

Justin and I went to see The Proposal the other night. (It was on the 5th year anniversary of when he proposed.. cute huh? I didn't even remember. He asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner and see it. I said sure.. and he reminded me that 5 years ago was when he proposed. Yes, he is so sweet!)

Anyway, sorry, my ADD is coming out... back to my point...

There was a scene in that movie where the guy's family surprised them with a party when they arrived. Justin turned and said to me, "That reminds me of your family". My family is the type that will throw a party for any occasion. They are fun, loud and sometimes crazy!!

I flew alone with Kate on this trip and I was so frazzled. She did not cooperate and sleep on the plane like I had planned. She may have had a couple breakdowns... and I was on the verge of one myself. She finally fell asleep on our way home from the airport.. until we got to my grandpa's house where we were welcomed with a PARTY. Not only was my family there, but my aunt's family and friends of our family, etc. They were all there to greet us. Needless to say, Kate woke up. I had some great times with my family on this trip. I didn't take as many photos as I planned,but here are a few highlights... and one lowlight...
Kate with my grandma (mom's mom). We went swimming at her house. I have so many fun memories swimming in her pool. This was the only picture I took.. we were busy swimming. Kate was trying on Grandma's glasses. As you will see.. trying on glasses became a recurring theme..

I hope this is not a picture of what she is to become.. she looks like an old librarian. I promise, she is a cute little girl.She is deep in thought.. or straining to see through the lenses... YES, I know this is bad for her eyes, but I just left them on long enough to snap a picture. Does that make me a terrible mom?

Kate with my grandpa - Pap-Pap (dad's dad). Kate loves Pap-pap and would not stop saying his name. Every morning she would wake up and say, "Pap-pap" and look for him.
We had a birthday party for my cousin, Ryan.. who I thought I took a picture of, but I didn't. Kate is here at his party with my aunt Kim. Kim is one of the best cooks I know.. and made my favorite... her baked beans. Maybe I can talk her into giving me the recipe for my blog!!
Here are some of my cousins with Kate. Ronnie and Katie picked out this cute little float for her to use in the pool. She also liked playing in it out of the pool.
Kate with my dad, her Papa. His name is also one of her favorite words. She knows who to kiss up to!! He spoiled her like crazy on this trip.

This is Kate with my cousin, Ronnie, who bought this adorable outfit she is wearing from Baby Gap. He picked it out himself. It was so sweet of him.. and this outfit is one of my favorites!
Me and Kate with my cousins.. yes, I am old compared to them. I wish my cousin Brad was there for the picture.. he would have helped me round out the age.
My uncle Jay, aunt Deb, and cousins Katie, Kevin and Chris.
This was a lowlight on our trip... My cousin Katie (pictured below) decided to give Kate a golf ball to hold. Kate decided to SLAM the golf ball into Katie's head. As you can see below from the large bump between Katie's eyebrows. I felt so bad!! Katie was leaving to go on a trip the next day, and I know that she didn't want to look like a unicorn. I was so afraid that the bump was going to grow into a horn-like fixture and turn black. Thank goodness, it didn't. I saw her the next day and it was fine and you could barely see it. Yes, we need to teach Kate not to hit people with golf balls, but we probably didn't do a very good job after this incident because we were all laughing hysterically at the bump on Katie's face... and the nice cousin that I am.. I had to take a picture for my blog!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Do you "heart" Ikea?

I am soooo behind on my blog posts and updating you on our Florida trip. I had planned on keeping up with it on my trip, but that obviously didn't happen. Things have been crazy since I got back on Saturday, so I wanted to take quick minute to tell you about a highlight on our trip... Ikea. Tampa just recently got an Ikea. I had never been, but I have friends who told me they loved that store. My cousin is in the process of redecorating her room and my aunt wanted to reorganize her kitchen, so we planned a day to go to Ikea. We were at Ikea for SIX hours. Yes, SIX hours. That place is huge and we are about the most indecisive people, so that combination equalled a long time in Ikea.

The style of Ikea is a little more modern what I like, but of course I did manage to pick up some things I could fit in my suitcase. Actually, I asked Justin to bring an empty suitcase so we could fill it with our goodies. Anyway.. here are pictures of my purchases.. and the before and after of my kitchen.

The Spice rack we added:

Before: Cluttered Counter top part One
After.. much better!
Before: Cluttered Counter top.. part 2
After: We actually have more counter space!!
My husband is wonderful, but could care less how cluttered our counter tops are. He has even made several comments to me about the difference and how much he likes it. So now... I "heart" Ikea!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Have you ever seen a burning bush?

We had an unfortunate incident on the Fourth of July at Justin's grandparent's house. I think we all know that two 13 year old boys, a six year old boy and fireworks are not a great mix. The boys were setting off some fireworks in Ma and Pa's front yard. They had the great idea to throw one of them into a bush. Yes, this was a very bad idea.

My sister-in-law, Beth was on the front porch watching them. All of a sudden she noticed that the bush was smoking. She ran in to tell us that the bush was on fire. She actually ran in and yelled, THE BUSH IS ON FIRE!!! Her cousin, mom and couple of us kind of blew her off and said, oh it is probably just a smoke bomb. I got up and decided to fill up a couple of water bottles just in case it was on fire. Beth left us and walked back outside. A second later she ran inside and into the other room (where all the guys were) and yelled, HELP, THE BUSH IS ON FIRE AND IT IS GOING TO BURN DOWN THE HOUSE!!!

Of course, everyone jumped up and ran outside, including myself with two little bottles of water. This is what we saw (well, this is not the exact picture, but I didn't think to grab my camera to capture all the excitement). This was the only picture I could find that somewhat captured what we encountered.

I am not kidding or exaggerating, this what the bush looked like, except the bush was bigger than this one in the picture. Lets just say that my two little bottles of water, would have done nothing to put out the flame. Justin's cousin quickly grabbed a hose and put out the flame. No real damage done, except for the damage done to the bush. We are fairly certain the bush is not going to survive.

Justin's grandparents are hard of hearing and had no idea what was going on. I still don't think they ever told them.

The moral of the story... don't give teenagers and young boys fireworks to wreak havoc on their own... and make sure you listen to your sister-in-law, even if she is known to exaggerate stories in the past.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What is the big green egg? Recipe Wednesday - Stuffed Burgers

We had a great time at Becky and Grover's lake house, but we quickly learned that one reason Beth and Brandon invited us was so we could cook for them. My niece, Sara Beth, deemed me a "lovely cooker" the last time she came to visit us. I guess Chocolate Chip Pancakes will win the hearts of kids. They always want me to make them. Don't worry, I won't post the Bisquick pancake recipe with chocolate chips thrown in.. you know I am so much more "gourmet" than that.

When we arrived at the new lake house, we were welcomed by this big monstrosity of a grill located on their porch. I quickly asked, "What is that?". Brandon and Beth were telling us that it is the Big Green Egg, an amazing grill that we will have to use ... aka.. we want you to cook us something on it. It even has its own cookbook, Big Green Egg Cookbook & Manual.

We decided to make this recipe, inspired by our friend Eric, who made these burgers for us. Brandon said that these were the best burgers he has ever tasted... I would have to agree. I really think it was the grill. It gave them an amazing flavor!

Grilled Burgers Stuffed with Cheese, Bacon and Onions

3 pounds ground beef
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
6 hamburger buns, split

-In a large mixing bowl, mix together the ground beef, salt, black pepper, barbecue sauce and garlic powder using your hands. Taking a small handful at a time (approximately 1/4 pound), shape into 12 patties. Lay patties out on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap; place patties in the refrigerator.
-Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon from skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Turn the heat down to medium and pan fry the onions in the remaining bacon drippings until soft and translucent and just beginning to brown. Mix together onions and bacon in a small bowl.
-Prepare a grill or large skillet for medium heat.
-As the grill heats, pull beef patties out of the refrigerator; top 6 of the patties with 1- 1/2 tablespoons of the bacon and onion mixture each, and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Top each with one of the remaining patties and press the edges together to seal.
-Grill or pan fry the stuffed and sealed patties until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve on hamburger buns with condiments of your choice.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Are you from a town where "everybody knows your name"?

I currently have the theme song from Cheers in my head when thinking about Justin's home town. We were there last week. It is a VERY SMALL town in Missouri. I mean like, 240 people small. When driving through their little town, they can tell me who lives at almost every house. We go up to the Fish House (the only restaurant and only open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays) to eat dinner and they know the owners and everyone in the place. I love going to the Fish House (I forgot to take a picture)... not only for the great food, but for all the people you see. Through Facebook and the blog, I have gotten to know alot of those sweet people. Their town could not be more opposite from the big area in Florida where I grew up and I love it!

When driving through... you will see nothing but flat farm land. Justin used to quiz me on what was growing in each field. I had no idea. The only farm I had been on was when I went home with my friend, Laine, in college. Her family had a tobacco farm. Tobacco was the only crop I knew. Now I can pick out beans, cotton, rice, wheat, and corn. Yes, I am sure you are proud of me.

Kate loved being at her Maw-Maw's and Paw-Paw's (Justin's parents). They have so much land and all these fun toys.

Their golf cart was Kate's favorite. Paw-Paw (Justin's dad) was so excited to take her on it. The first morning we were there he took her for a ride. She loved it and constantly went to the door and waved, bye.. translation... Please take me on the golf cart again.
Kate with her Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw on the golf cart.. seriously, I think the majority of her time was spent on that golf cart. They would drive around their property and to their garden.

I love the background in this picture.. it gives you a great picture of their property and the farm land that surrounds their home and town. In this picture is John (Justin's dad), Kate, Justin and Sara Beth (our niece).Here is Kate in the garden picking corn with her maw-maw (Justin's mom).

She also rode their go cart. John has a couple of go carts. He is planning on building a go cart track on their property... isn't that fun?? Kate is riding it here with her uncle Brandon.

Kate's Paw-Paw took her for a ride on the tractor (my favorite). He said that as soon as he would go, she would squirm around and try to pull all the levers. She is so curious!

This is the best picture I could find of me and Kate.. she wanted down to play and probably get back on the golf cart... and I am sure she was annoyed at all the pictures I was taking. I think I annoyed all his family on this trip!

I wanted to make sure I got some pictures of Kate with Justin's grandparents. Here she is with Justin's grandma, "Ma". Ma and Pa (Justin's grandparents) are so wonderful. They remind me of my grandparents. They are the epitome of what you would think the perfect grandparents should be.

Kate with Pa.

I love this picture of the two of them...

There were two eventful and funny things that happened on this trip.. One consisted of almost buring down their house on fourth of July and the other consists of someone's stomach problems. I'll probably post those stories on Thursday. Tomorrow I am going to post an amazing recipe for stuffed hamburgers... and a new type of grill we used at the Lake.. stay tuned...

Monday, July 13, 2009

What is it about the Lake?

We returned back to NC on Wednesday after spending some time with Justin's family at the lake in Heber Springs, AR and in MO. Justin LOVES the lake. I can not express how excited he was to go. I had a somewhat traumatic experience (a slight exaggeration) my first time to the lake with Justin's family, so I was not exactly as excited as he was. Poor Justin hadn't even been to the lake since we have been married. We have been married for over four years. So, yes, I am a bad wife.

This experience was ALOT different than my first experience. I think anything would be a major upgrade from camping and going to the bathroom in an outhouse (yes, I did... for a week). This trip we went to a new lake house that was just built by Beth's (my sister in law) husband's family. This was one of the most beautiful homes I have ever been in. Seriously, like a dream house.
The Lake House...
Kate with Beth and her kids, Luke and Sara Beth
We had such a great time. Kate loved the lake, being in the water and riding in the boat. Justin even took her tubing. Are we bad parents?

Look how much she is loving it!!

The kids watching Justin ski.

We all really enjoyed ourselves. I can already tell... Kate is going to be adventurous like her daddy. I think Justin wanted to stay longer, but we had to trek back to MO to see the rest of his family. Kate loved being on the farm.. I'll post pictures and stories from MO tomorrow.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Have you ever been on a cruise? Freebie Friday

I found a great giveaway today! Justin and I have been wanting to go on a cruise, but since our vacations only consist of traveling to see our families... we haven't been on one yet. We both love the water. I prefer pool water, but love the ocean. I think Justin prefers the lake.. we just got back from the lake and I am going to post some pictures next week. Anyway... I came across this amazing giveaway. I have never wanted to win anything so much...except of course for the HGTV Dream House or the lottery (which I don't play).

Since I haven't posted a Freebie Friday in a while, I thought I would post this.

Norwegian Cruise Lines is doing a giveaway for a free cruise. I would love to do a Mediterranean cruise one day.. one can dream anyway.

Good Luck and have a great weekend!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Love to play cards? Love to hear babies laugh?

When my family was here, I introduced them to a great card game, Phase 10. It is a rummy like card game. My cousin, Chris, wouldn't stop playing it. By the looks of these pictures, Kate liked it also, except she liked to eat the cards instead of play the game. I seriously wonder what is going through her head. She cracks herself up.. as you will see in the video below. I love to hear her laugh!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

3 Weeks Ago... ?

I just realized that it has been three weeks since I last updated this blog. I had family in town and we went out of town.. so... so much has happened! I am sure there are alot of funny stories that will be left out. I have no memory.. it is a problem. Anyway, I am home now for the next couple of days and I will attempt to get you all caught on my oh so exciting life.

My dad, aunt and cousins came to visit and stay with me while Justin was away at camp. There is one thing that we always do when they come... go to Frankie's. Frankie's has everything that a kid loves... games, arcades, mini golf, rides, go carts, laser tag. I really think this is the only reason why my cousin Chris comes to visit me. I love when we comes to visit us, so I make sure we take him there.

Wednesday we were supposed to go to the pool, but we decided to get the slip and slide out instead. Kate liked walking on it more than going down it. Here are some pictures.

Kate with my cousin Katie.

Kate walking on the slip and slide.

My aunt Sharon (dad's sister), Kate and my Dad.

Katie (my cousin), Kate and Sara (Katie's cousin)

Wednesday was also my dad's birthday, so I grilled some steaks with this recipe. Everyone loved them. I also made his favorite.. Red Velvet Cupcakes using Sprinkles Cupcake mix that I got from Williams Sonoma. They were so good!
Kate loves cupcakes!

Time really does fly by! I have a video from their trip I will post tomorrow. I have over 1000 pictures on my memory card and countless videos. I have three days until I leave for Florida. Hopefully I'll get it all transferred... and clean the house.. and pack up for Florida, but I am not making any promises!