Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Meatless Lasagna

 This lasagna was delicious, made a ton, and was SO easy to make - and there is NO meat!

 This salad was full of all our Farmers Market Basket goodies -
I love these baskets in the summer. They are so FULL of wonderful produce.

So we love some Italian around here, but at the end of the month, most of my meat stock pile is gone from the freezer. I was trying to make things stretch one month so I decided to create this recipe with NO meat. I didn't dare tell Doug for fear that he might turn up his nose - actually, I knew he wouldn't. Thankfully he isn't too picky about always having to meat at the dinner table. But, I did want to see if he would notice. He didn't. I asked him if he noticed anything different about the lasagna, and he said no. I mentioned there was no meat and he was like, "Wow! It is still really good." Oh, and like most lasagnas, it freezes great! We usually eat half, freeze the other half, and eat it a few weeks later. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have! :)

Meatless Lasagna
1/2 box lasagna noodles
2 large eggs
28 oz jar tomato sauce (I used Classico sweet basil)
1 pkg Italian cheeses
1/2 cup shredded mozzerella
16 oz carton ricotta cheese

- First, remove the noodles from the packaging (about half of them) and place them in a 9x13 pan filled with the hottest tap water (thanks Barefoot Contessa for this trick) and let them soak for about 15 minutes.
- heat sauce to simmer - can add spices. I add pepper, salt, sugar, red pepper, and italian seasoning (and sometimes a few cloves of garlic).
- Mix cheese (except Mozzerella) and eggs. Add salt, pepper, and italian seasoning (could add cooked spinach here).
- In a greased casserole dish start layering. Cover bottom with sauce, then noodles, then cheese mixture, then sauce - repeat until gone. Top with mozzerella cheese.
- Bake covered on 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for 15 more minutes, then set the broiler on low, and broil for 3-5 minutes until cheeses on top are browned.
Yield: 6-8 servings.

Monday, June 27, 2011

to the zoo

On our way - it is about a 45 minute drive
(have I mentioned that seeing this makes me want a minivan.
I never thought I would say that! )

 First carousel ride - not too sure!

 Sorry, in order to see Charlotte's expression in this picture
 I had to really over expose it. Not a great shot, but I love her face.

At this point he was holding on for dear life. :)

It was a bit of a zoo taking five children under the age of six to the zoo last week with my friend, Angela. BUT... we all had a wonderful time and everyone really did do fairly well. Angela invited us and with her passes and her youngest being under two we all got in FREE (well, Angela I guess didn't technically since she paid for season passes, but you get the idea). Charlotte was thirlled with the giraffes - didn't hurt that their was a baby giraffe. Douglass Charles loved the monkeys, but the highlight was the carousel.

Think what you may, but Charlotte and DC have never been on a carousel. I am not really sure why. Come to think of it we really haven't been anywhere where they could have ridden one. I was afraid that Charlotte might be a little nervous - she is my cautious one - but she nearly threw a fit when we had to get off - she loved it so. DC is my adventerous one and opted to watch the carousel the entire time we were at the playground. Once we got on it, he never smiled, and the longer we road, the more he looked like things weren't okay. Finally, with about two minutes left he started crying and wanted off. My kids never cease to amaze me.

Thanks to the Zenus family for a wonderful day and for letting us bum off their passes. We had a wonderful time!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

first ever!

Yes, I am going to try this and see how it goes. I know I am a bit behind on blogging, but I have been busy with business and family and well, I just get a bit lazier in the summer when it comes to projects like blogging. Please forgive me. But... you won't want to miss this sale and you will need to "like" us over at and of course already be a member. I won't announce what is on sale until 8:00 p.m. tomorrow evening. And now you are probably wondering how it will work. Here it goes:

Several different notecards will be available for sale. I will post pictures of the notecards and they will ALL be fore SALE for $1.50 a piece. This covers the notecard, envelope, personalization, AND shipping. Yep! Kind of cool, huh? And the best part, you can choose as many as you like - just want to try one? Sure, go ahead. Want only five? No problem? Want a sampling of twenty cards - piece of cake! And they can all have different inscriptions. So... spread the word and don't be late for this very important date!

Tomorrow, FRIDAY, June 24th, at 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Veggies

I know, I know, I am riding this summer theme, but it is truly one of my favorite times of year. I love the laid back nature, the lazy mornings at the pool, and summer fruits and veggies - they are just icing on the cake.

I don't fry much and when I say I don't fry, I mean like I literally do it four or five times a year. My mother didn't have a lot of time for frying and with my daddy being a doc, he wasn't a fan. Our neighbor, Sandra Johnson, was and I remember many a night enjoying some of their garden goodies, the day's fresh catch, or a turkey during Thanksgiving time (that Mr. Johnson brought home from a hunting trip - of course). I loved getting to eat at their house. So... the few times I fry each year I remember Mrs. J and all the good, fried food she fed me. :)

These onion rings were my first fry of the summer. I do tend to get out the cast iron skillet a bit more during the summer months. How can one resist when I have delicious Vidalia onions and okra from a local garden or Farmers Market. And these were delicious!

If you have never fried before and you want to give these a try here is a quick and easy recipe.

1 sweet onion (Vidalia is best)
cut into thin slices
cover in 1/4 cup of buttermilk and salt and pepper
throw together some corn meal and regular flour (about a cup each), salt and pepper, and a little garlic powder. Coat the onion slices in flour mixture and drop into a frying pan. I use a cast iron skillet with about an inch of Canola oil. I never test the temperature (because it isn't meat). I just drop one in and if it bubbles I know it is good to go. Be careful, though, and don't overcrowd the pan. If you think the oil is getting too hot, then just turn the heat down. It is fun, messy, and delicious.

Once brown remove from the pan and place on a plate with several layers of paper towels. Once done frying salt a bit again - test first - and you are ready to serve. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

12 reasons...

We had a very fun-filled Father's Day weekend. It is so fun that the kids can really get into it. They loved giving their dad gifts, creating a craft for him, and helping me make him a chocolate cheesecake. We thoroughly enjoyed a jam packed family filled weekend - spent at our first Rome Braves Game with friends, a delicious steak dinner, church on Sunday, the US Open that afternoon, and fun with friends again that evening. We let Doug skip out with the other family's dad to watch the US Open in peace at a local Sport's bar (if you have or have had littles you know it is impossible to watch anything on tv without interruption). But my favorite, and I think Doug would agree, would be the cards the kids made Doug for Father's Day.

I used my little template that I made available for everyone to print and I let the kids tell me reasons why they were thankful or appreciate their dad and here is the list they came up with:
Douglass Charles:
Dad, thank you for...
1. wrestling with me.
2. being a pony on the floor (for him to ride).
Dad, I appreciate...
1. how you play ball with me.
2. your hugs (yes, this literally came out of his mouth).
3. your piggy back rides.

Dad, I appreciate...
1. the way you say the blessing.
2. when you color with me.
3. your hugs
4. how you play with me.
5. family movie nights.
Dad, thank you for...
1. having fun with me.
2. working hard so we can buy gummies (Charlottes favorite food and my favorite quote of the day).

I was thrilled with their responses and surprised at the things they mentioned. They really do notice more than I think. I was touched by their little words. I think their dad was too - seeing as I saw a little tear in his eye.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Evenings

With Doug officially home for the summer, things get a bit laid back around here. I do try to keep up with the housework, and I manage to exercise a bit more when he is here, but for the most part, it is all about relaxation. Mornings are usually filled with time at the pool and afternoons are still spent at home with the children napping. But one of my very favorite activities are our summer evenings.

Unlike where I grew up, Georgia evenings are delightful. Around 7:00 the sun is setting and the weather and humidity become a bit milder. If there is a breeze in the air it is just perfect. My two little ones love to throw on their bathing suits and play in their little pool or take a "sprinkler" shower. They play while Doug and I rest in the patio chairs sipping a favorite beverage. We talk, put our feet up, and just enjoy the last few moments before the day turns to night.After the kids are good and water logged we dry them off, scoop them up, and ready them for bed.

This is a time I know I will look back on and miss when the kiddos are grown - or just too cool for the little pool anymore. Maybe by that time they will enjoy a simple chat on the back patio before heading off on their own summer adventures. Regardless, I cherish our times together - the ease, the simplicity, and the family togetherness they bring.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finally... the invitation

I have been slow getting photographs of my new things and seeing as I posted about this party months ago, it is about time I got a picture of this little invite. So... head on over to the shop. You can find it here. And stay tuned... there is more to come from this Safari line. Hopefully it will be ready to share next week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

{a summer kick-off breakfast}

Aren't these berries gorgeous?

So I am just a wee bit behind on posts. Our summer started a little over a week ago and to celebrate and kick it off right, Charlotte and I made a special breakfast. Now I don't know if you are familiar with The Pioneer Woman, but if you haven't discovered her you are in for a treat. Her blog is fun, photography gorgeous, content witty, and cooking... well, she has a cookbook that is a top seller so that should tell you something.

We set out to make her perfect cinnamon toast for our special breakfast and it was quite delious. It should be - once you look at the receipe you will know what I mean - I truly felt like Charlotte and I were slathering on cinnamon icing to our toast as we prepared it and Charlotte couldn't get enough of the stuff.

It was wonderful, and the fruit was my desperate attempt to balance all that sugary goodness. We had fun whipping it up and everyone enjoyed eating it.

Can't wait to share some other summer pictures with you... we barely know what to do with ourselves with all this family time. :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Father's Day FREE Printables

Right click, select save as, and save in your personal folder. Then, print away!

I don't know about you, but all the dads in my life (you know, my father, father-in-law, and my wonderful hubby) well, they work pretty darn hard. I don't come from a group of lazy men and they are seriously some of the hardest working folks I know.

This got me to thinking... they don't get too many pats on the back, "thanks, Dad!", or "I appreciate all you do for me." So instead of just thanking them on Sunday, June 19th, I thought I would share these little cards. Print them off, cut them out, and have you and your kids list out messages on each one giving specific reasons why you love the dad in your family so. :)

And the great thing about this printable - you can use it the rest of the year - for those random, kind moments when you just need to let Dad know how much you care.


P.S. if you would like your own customizable set you can find the link to purchase here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

planting seeds...

I have been hard at work fostering these plants, hoping they will not only grow, but produce. I am not a patient person so gardening has always been a challenge for me. The amount of TLC plants need - the watering, the planting, the weeding - just the attention, it is a lot of work.

I am reading a book right now that has really made me think about planting seeds - but in a relational sense. And that whether we are aware
of it or not, we are always planting seeds. Sometimes they are beautiful flowers and sometimes they are weeds. Sadly, because we are human the weeds can tend to flurish much more readily and when we find a relationship a little sour, ugly, or just overgrown, we tend to want to back away, run away, or just give up, or just start over.

The book is primarily speaking of marriage and I have discovered that I have just plain become lazy in tending this precious garden. But I have also realized that I have basically become lazy with many relationships, not taking the time to plant the good seeds and tend caringly to them.

So this got me to thinking, why do I expect beautiful, fulfilling, wonderful relationships with my hubby, children, family, and friends if I am not tending those gardens with vigor, creativity, love, and grace. That is not what I am going to get. If I want beauty and fulfillment then I have to do a better job at not just planting, but tending. I can't get so busy, so wrapped up in the every day that I have no energy to tend and care.

So... if you find yourself feeling a bit humdrum about your relationships it might be time for a little pruning and sowing seeds that will in the end reap a wonderful and beautiful harvest.

Now... if I can just wait a few more days before plucking these juicy tomatoes off the vine. Did I mention my lack of patience. Happy Planting!

Monday, June 6, 2011

and the winner is...

Congratulations to the winner of my Custom Printable Party Package! The
lucky winner is DustieLee.

Please email me at with your email address and I will send you specifics shortly.

Stay tuned later this week for a FREE Father's Day printable - and a few other things.

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Strawberry Salad with Grilled Chicken

Is your mouth watering. Thanks to my sweet next door neighbor, Doug and I have been enjoying this wonderful salad every year since we moved into our house - about seven years. Crisp Romaine, juicy strawberries, grilled chicken, candied almonds, and a sweet and tangy poppy seed dressing. It truly is wonderful.

Strawberry Salad with Grilled Chicken
1 pint strawberries
1 bunch Romaine lettuce
Toasted Almonds (see recipe below)
Poppyseed Dressing (see below)

Cut strawberries and Romaine. I always keep mine seperate and sprinkle a bit of sugar on the strawberries. Set aside. Toast Almonds and make dressing while grilling chicken (I just salt and pepper the chicken).

Toasted Almonds
Place about 1/2 a cup of sliced almonds in a small frying pan. Sprinkle with sugar, covering well. Place the pan on medium heat and stir until the sugar has melted on the nuts and the almonds are browned. Remove from pan onto wax paper or plate and let them cool.

Poppy seed Dressing
Whisk together:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon poppyseeds
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon of minced onion
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
You will want to stir the dressing each time before serving as the sugar will settle to the bottom.

When the chicken is grilled assemble and enjoy!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

my morning cup of joe

Written approximately two weeks ago...

There is something about my morning cup of coffee. I seriously think about it before I go to bed at night - looking forward to it's warmth and bitter sweet taste the next morning. Recently I found myself pondering if maybe I had acquired a bit of an addiction, but I realized this morning that my yearning for this warm goodness wasn't really that kind of "problem."

As I sit her in my bathrobe, Today show on, checking my email while the kids run around and play, the dishwasher running loudly, the kitchen yet to be cleaned, and should I even mention the laundry, my cup of coffee takes me to a happy place. A peaceful place in a day that is about to become chaotic, busy, and full of life with toddlers.

I realize that this cup of coffee is a symbol - of adulthood, a moment of peace, quiet, and an excuse to sit and sip - if only for a moment. Yes, my cup of coffee is more than just a junky's addiction. It is my brief moment of relaxation in a very busy and fulfilling day.