Happy (snowy) New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year’s. We were all recovering from a cold last night so it was an early night for us. Grab a warm drink and let me tell you what’s been happening here the last week.

We’ve gotten snow and lots of it!

It started Christmas Eve. Just like a movie, it started on our way to the Christmas Eve service at church. This is what it looked like when we got back:

We got a break on Christmas day but it started up again the day after Christmas. It was amazing (says the Floridiots)!

There’s a rumor that I may or may not know how to make a snow angel. Ah’em…The following photo is for my Florida friends’ benefit. I’m sure you northerners are all too familiar with images like these:Jackson is still shirtless most days. And if he’s not watching the snow from inside…then he’s outside playing in it.The two of us built our very first snowman of the year. Ethan was under the weather so he decided to skip the very cold activity.

We’ve been pretty busy these days. Here’s what we were up to today:

 

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My first giveaway!

OK, I promised a giveaway last week and it’s finally here! (My very first giveaway – squeeeeee!)

Let me tell you about my friend Alisha. She is co-owner of Mahalo. They’ve been getting quite a bit of sweet advertising these days. First of all, they were featured in a magazine. The August issue of Parenting magazine. Yes, Parenting magazine! And then that issue of the magazine was on The Office last Thursday. Then they were featured on Gilt.com (similar to Groupon.com). And just this week, I’ve seen them in two other online publications (here on page 53) and here. When I first started this blog, I told you that I had some pretty awesome friends. Remember this post? That post was about my friend Anna. Alisha is Anna’s mom. Cool/awesome/crafty/nifty/swell just runs in that family. 

I’m giving away both of these masks. I think they’d make a cute little Halloween costume, don’t you? All you have to do is leave a comment & tell me your favorite part of Halloween. Personally, I’m not a fan of the holiday. I think most of the decorations are gross and I’m so not good at coming up with costumes that my boys like AND want to wear. I can make a birthday card. But a costume? Not so much. So tell me what all the hoopla is that surrounds Halloween & maybe I’ll enjoy it more this year. It seems as if I’m the only one that’s a party pooper when October rolls around (except on my birthday).

Oh, and tell your friends and family about the giveaway. They don’t have to subscribe to my blog or sign their name in blood (although, that would be fitting for the holiday, no?). I want to get the word out about my awesome friend’s awesome etsy shop. And I don’t want to host a giveaway and have zero comments. So, go comment and go tell your friends, too.

Edit: Since choosing a winner is too much pressure, winner will be chosen randomly. Comments close on Friday.

 

Fiesta burgers and waterfall update

So I’m finally going to share a recipe with you. I don’t really have any “during” photos to go along with it but I’m sure you can get by without them. My readers are smart, I tell ya.

This recipe isn’t new and can be found on the Kraft web site (but without my commentary). My mom found this recipe for Stuffed Fiesta Burgers a few years ago and we usually pull it out once a year. Here on Memorial Day in Florida, grilling out isn’t as glamourous as it is in other states. This is how we do things in these parts:

1. Prepare all ingredients indoors while enjoying the air conditioning
2. Run outside to put the food on the grill
3. Quickly run back inside before you melt
4. After a nice, cool iced tea (or margarita), force yourself to go back outside and tend to the food on the grill before it burns. Because it will burn, but not due to the grill. It’ll burn from the heat and sun, mind you.
5. Gather all foods from the grill as fast as you can and bring them back inside to enjoy in the humidity free air conditioning.

There you have our grilling technique. Now onto the recipe. You’ll need the following:

1 pound lean ground beef
1 package of Taco Bell Home Originals Taco seasoning mix
1/4 cup chive and onion cream cheese spread
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 hamburger buns (toasted or grilled)
1/2 cup salsa
1 avocado cut into 8 slices

Heat your grill to medium heat (This happens prior to step #1 above. You’re on your own out there in that heat!). Mix the meat and seasoning mix thoroughly and shape into 8 thin patties.

Now mix your cream cheese spread and cheddar cheese. Before going a step further, you’ll want to taste test this. Who doesn’t like a little bit of cheese?

Spoon 2 TBSP of cheese mixture onto 4 of the patties. Top with remaining 4 patties and pinch the sides together to seal them up. The better you seal them, the less your cook/griller will complain about them separating. Trust me.

Follow steps #1-3 above

Grill 7-9 minutes on each side or until done (160 degrees). You only have 7-9 minutes of cooking time so you should probably prepare your iced tea or margarita beforehand so it’ll be ready (see step #3).

Now top the patty with salsa and avocado and enjoy! I don’t have any pictures of my completed burger because I scarfed it down too fast. No shutter speed would have been fast enough to catch that action!

On another note, remember when I told you about our rock collecting adventure in Georgia?  We collected rocks for my mom and dad’s backyard waterfall. Well, between the weather being a bazillion degrees and the constant demand for my dad our family mechanic, they haven’t had a chance to finish that project just yet. That didn’t bother my dad. He quickly assembled a makeshift waterfall for the family. I threatened to submit this to There, I Fixed It.I like the side view better. 

Don’t you just love their DIY projects?

Hot dogs, friends, family and fireworks

Our fourth was jam-packed with fun, friends and family. First thing in the morning, I went down to our church. I’m planning a 40th birthday party for my husband. The party won’t be until the end of August but I’ve already been planning for weeks. I’ll be hosting the party at our church’s cafe. I needed to go down and get some measurements for…well, I can’t say just yet because he might be reading this & all the details are top-secret. He knows that I’m throwing a party but doesn’t know any of the details yet. After the birthday party planning, Ken, the boys & I went to our pastor’s house for some good old Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. NOT for those with a weak stomach. It’s a bit of a tradition to watch this but I don’t think I’ve watched a combined 10 minutes of the competition. I watch it like I watch a scary movie: with my hands over my eyes, peeking out every once in a while.

After watching grown men shove dozens of hot dogs in their mouths we headed to Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island with the whole family. We’ve seen the fireworks there once before. Six years ago my parents stayed at a B&B on the Island for their anniversary. It must be nice when all of American celebrates with you (their anniversary falls on the 4th of July). We wanted to recreate the day, this time with my brother and his family. The residents put on their own firework show and you’re right in the middle of it! It’s amazing because each one tries to outdo their neighbor. This year, we were a little further away from the residents’ show and closer to the Bistro’s show. 

We arrived early enough so that the kids could enjoy the water. Here’s my niece Molly with my mom. She loves the beach!

Jackson was addicted to the waves as well. It was a quite windy when we first got there so that made for some good waves. If you’re not familiar with the Gulf of Mexico, let me just tell you that there aren’t many waves. It’s really calm compared to the Pacific.

Ethan enjoyed the waves, too.

It never did rain but the biggest rainbow hung around for the longest time!

Right before sunset, I snapped this shot so you could get an idea of the amount of people who come to see the show. This is actually nowhere near the amount of people. 

So…fireworks. I looked up how to shoot them, took some notes, watched a video (I recommend watching this or reading this – both are great explanations). This is where being so close to the show wasn’t a great thing. It was really hard with my 50mm lens to get far enough way from the fireworks. I kept getting shots with half of the explosion in the picture. And since we were right in the middle of all the fireworks going off, there would be one in front of me, then a few seconds later one behind me, then a few seconds later, one to my right. You get the idea. While it’s amazing to see in person, it doesn’t make for the easiest photography. Here are some that I captured.

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This year we were further down the beach than we were six years ago. I really think that our original spot gave a better show (we could see it from where we were). We all had a great time anyway but next time we’ll go back to our original spot. 

How did you celebrate the holiday?

And so it begins (again)

I’m not the kind of mom that doesn’t allow their kids to have ANY candy at all. But I’m not the one that gives candy to their kids all the time, either. Because of this, we’re usually eating the “wrong” candy on any given holiday. For instance, this chocolate Easter candy (along with the jelly beans and duck shaped Smarties) will last us until Halloween. In fact, I think we may have some candy corn in our candy jar. So the cycle begins again. Another holiday, another specific color wrapped candy. It’s a good thing my kids can use a calendar. Otherwise, they’d be all screwed up. Whose kids are still eating candy canes in April? Mine. And they’ll be eating pastel chocolates for Halloween. Good way to really freak out the trick-or-treaters.

114/365:

We colored eggs today since yesterday was jam-packed. After the coloring was done, we had our own little egg hunt in the house. The boys LOVE this. It’s become a tradition in our family. We’ve collected quite a stash of eggs and this year we even found some new hiding places for them. Luckily for us, we don’t hide any of the hard-boiled eggs. That way, we’re not in danger of a mysterious foul odor in about 4 days. Like that one time in Stars Hollow when Kirk was in charge of hiding the Easter eggs. There’s a bonus if you can tell me what TV show I referenced. {Disclaimer: There’s not really a bonus so don’t sue me if I don’t have a name generated by a random generator in the next day or two.}