May 30, 2013

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like Julie’s long hair. Thanks to a trim last week, Julie’s flowing locks aren't quite as long but they're still longer than at any point in Julie’s life. It is such a good look for my beautiful wife. Even though the maintenance is more tedious, the results are well worth it, if you ask me. I've never seen Julie sport a ponytail until recently but it really fits her on-the-go, multitasking lifestyle. The hotter weather is coming and I hope that Julie’s tolerance for the discomfort caused by her longer hair holds out as long as possible!

Look at that ponytail!!!
This week, I love lake livin'. Julie, Graham and I took a quick vacation to Logan-Martin Lake in Pell City last month. We just finished enjoying a wonderful visit over Memorial Day weekend at our friends’ family lake house near Cullman on Smith Lake. I’m hooked on lake livin'. It’s the perfect combination of serene wilderness and fun on the water. The drive time to these two lakes (or Lake Martin or Lake Mitchell, for that matter) is a heck of a lot shorter than to the Gulf Coast. If you have a pool at your lake house, I can be your best friend. I can bring food. Just call me!

You don't want to know what happened next.
This week, I don’t like my signs of aging. I wish I could share a photo of me from my high school basketball days. Those days of gorging myself with no hesitation are long gone. It seems that 2013 has been the year of sinus infections for me, which has never really happened. Needless to say, this disco is very strange to my ears. I'm clearly seeing the signs of aging and they're coming more rapidly each day. Every December, I marvel at how quickly the year has passed. I fully expect 2014 to eclipse 2013's pace. This makes me wonder how time is perceived by people in their 80's. I mean...does it feel like an out-of-control bus with no brakes? Let's hope I make it that long to find out!

I just don't want to go bald.

May 17, 2013

Baby Item List - Part 2

I blogged about some of our favorite baby items about a year ago here.  This is far and away our most popular post based on the numbers that blogger provides.  Well the picture post we published right after Graham was born got a lot of hits too, but I am pretty sure 90% of those were my mom and mother-in-law. that we have transitioned from the infant phase to the toddler phase I now have a new list of items that I would like to put my seal of approval on.  Most of these have been used since Graham was about 9 months old, and he still loves all of them.

Fisher Price Activity Table - For a long time I was admittedly opposed to large, colorful, plastic, sound generating toys, BUT I have come around. The Fisher Price Activity Table has proved to be a favorite in our house.  There are several different "themes" but in general are all the same concept.  This one is great because you can take all of the legs off so that they can play with it when they are just sitting up.  We also would leave two legs on and have it at an angle.  Then once they can stand it is the perfect height.  Graham plays with it every day.  I found ours on Craigslist for $10.

Stacking Rings - These probably go without saying, but they really are one of our most played with toys.  Even though he is just now getting to the point where he can put them on in the correct order he has played with them for months.

Rain for Roots-  This CD came out when I was pregnant, and one of the artists actually led worship at our church just before the release.  I purchased the CD and it pretty much stays on repeat in our car at all times.  The songs are so sweet and are even enjoyable for parents to listen to.  We enjoy it so much that I have given about 10 of them as gifts.

Knee and Elbow Pads - This one is really more for parents...My sister gave these to Nick for Christmas, and I am not sure how we made it a year without them.  Your knees and elbows will thank you...I promise.

Playtex Sippy Cup - The world of sippy cups is endless.  There are tall ones. Short one. Ones with spouts. Ones with straws. Handles. No handles. Insulated. You get the idea.  We have been through a variety, and I am sure everyone has their own opinion.  After trying most all brands I have found Playtex to be the best.  I do like their taller ones with straws as well, but they do leak at times.  Over all this specific cup is my favorite.  It is easy to use, doesn't leak, fits in the diaper bag, and cleans up easily.

Munchkin Snack Cups - We love these and use them everyday.

Push Buggy -  We have mentioned this before, but two of Nick's co-workers gave Graham his "car" for Christmas/birthday.  To say he loves it would be an understatement.  No telling how many laps around the neighborhood we have made in this thing.  

Sperry Top-Siders -  I hesitate to put clothes or shoes on the list because I have a lot of favorites, but these are just too good not to mention.  They are easy to get on and off and don't require socks which makes getting out the door much faster.  Graham gets compliments every time he wears them.

There are certainly other items, but these top the list.  It will be interesting to see if this post gets as much traffic as the first list!

May 14, 2013

New Look

A little bit of what is going on in my brain:

-  With the warmer weather and changing of the season...I am itching for change.  I am growing my hair out (it's the longest its been since...wait I cant remember if it was ever this long) and thinking about getting a body wave!  I am making small changes to our house...nothing major just a little redecorating here and there.

-  Simplify.  Doing my best to lead a more simplified life.  I want to spend my time focusing and enjoying the important things and not all of the FLUFF that tends to consume my days.  Taking long walks, going to the park, prayer, family meals around the table...these are the things that matter and that I desire to spend my days doing.  So if there are instant mashed potatoes that taste just a good as all means let's simplify!

-  Navy and White...I am slightly obsessed with these two colors.  Chances are if you see me I will be wearing this color combination...and Graham probably will too.  I recently purchased some navy and white stripe sheets simply because I loved them. Don't have any use for them at the moment, but maybe one day.

-  I have this thing for crabs.  I know it sounds silly, but I do.  They remind me of Summer, the beach, my childhood, little boys (which I am partial to at the moment), The Little Mermaid, and they are red (at lease some species).  Red isn't necessarily my favorite color; but my mom always told me that red was my best color, and I have to admit that I am drawn to it.  Maybe because in EVERY picture of me as a child I was wearing red.  When my mom likes something she sticks with it!  And let's face it red is the perfect accent color for navy and white.

With all of that in mind...the blog got a new look.  It's a change (which it needed).  It's more fussy background.  It's navy and white.  And oh how I love that little crab!

May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

I have the best mom...she is smart, driven, compassionate, considerate, loving, nurturing, passionate, an amazing cook, beautiful on the inside and out, and she is probably my biggest fan.  I love you Mom!  Thank you for ALL that you are.

 Here I am with my mom on the day I became a mom.

Being a mom is truly a dream come true for me.  Graham brings me more joy and delight than I ever imagined was possible. Each day is a treasure.

Lord thank you for blessing me abundantly with a wonderful mom and this special journey of being a mom myself.

May 9, 2013

Fish Tacos with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

You HAVE to try these....Plain and Simple.
Fish Tacos with Jalapeño Cream Sauce 
Yields 3-4 servings
  • 2 Tilapia fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 12 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
For the jalapeño cream sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Drizzle fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook in a counter top grill (I used my panini maker) for 3-4 minutes.  You could also cook the fish in the oven or on the stove top.
Remove from grill and let cool before chopping into bite-size pieces.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, carrot, spinach, oregano and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach just begins to wilt, about 1-2 minutes. Add the fish and gently toss to combine.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in the flour until lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock and cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the sour cream. Add the jalapeños and garlic powder and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.
To assemble the tacos, lay the tortilla on a flat surface and spoon 1/3 cup of the shrimp mixture in the center; sprinkle with cheese. Roll the tortilla and place seam side down onto prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and fish mixture.
Pour half of the jalapeño cream sauce evenly over the top. Place into oven and bake, covered, until lightly golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Serve immediately with remaining jalapeño cream sauce, garnished with cilantro.

May 6, 2013

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like the 2010 SEC Championship Game. Recently (last night), I watched my DVD copy of the 2010 SEC Championship Game, one of 4 special DVDs that I purchased to commemorate Auburn’s national championship season. This particular DVD is my favorite because that was my favorite game of that season. Auburn’s offense was relentless against South Carolina that day and, other than a poor opening drive and some breakdowns here and there, AU’s defense played well too. Watching this DVD brought back a lot of great feelings – feelings that I haven’t associated with Auburn football for the past two seasons. I don’t know if Auburn will play that well ever again but it was neat to travel back in time and make mental notes of things I couldn't have possibly known back then.

  • There’s not a lot of sense in getting worked up with college football recruiting. Two star freshman running backs from this game (Michael Dyer and Marcus Lattimore) left their schools before graduating, under very different circumstances. I would argue that neither lived up to their hype. 
  • Ellis Johnson (South Carolina’s defensive coordinator at the time and Auburn’s current DC) apparently worked wonders with the South Carolina defense that year. They led the conference in sacks and were the best against the opposing rush. One would think that he could do the same with Auburn’s talent. Still, his abysmal record as Southern Miss’s head coach last season keeps me from getting my hopes up too high.
  • A lot of Auburn players from this game are no longer on the team, and it ain't because they graduated. Same goes for coaches. While watching the DVD, it was easy to notice that Trooper Taylor’s antics hadn't reached a level of annoyance yet and Chizik’s slow, back-and-forth pace on the sideline masked his ineptness. With Cam Newton running the show, third-and-long didn't scare the heck out of me because Gus Malzahn’s offense was unstoppable. Everyone was happy.
I’ve always said that every...single...last star lined up perfectly for Auburn that season. The favorable road schedule, Cam’s legendary season and some lucky breaks along the way all contributed to the magic – nothing could stop it. Let’s hope for a repeat of that season soon! 

This week, I love family walks. Despite a recent cool snap, the weather has been a little warmer, which goes well with the longer days. Julie and I have recently developed a nice routine of taking Graham for a stroll around the neighborhood after dinner each night. Graham loves, loves, loves riding in his car, a wonderful gift from my coworkers. We like it too because it seems to zap any leftover energy from Graham before he takes his bath and goes to sleep. I like these walks for other reasons too. Julie and I have great walk-n-talks and they give me a good reason to move around after eating as opposed to hitting the couch.

"Stop looking and start pushing."
The only bad part about these walks is the nightly fit Graham pitches when it’s time to come inside!

This week I don’t like email elitists. I created my Hotmail account in 1998 and had no security issues with it up until last year, when it (along with my bank account) was hacked after linking it to my iTunes account (coincidence??). In college I had an Excite account and a Yahoo! email address as well. Within the last year or so, I opened a Gmail account and, more recently, I created an Outlook account, which is what all Hotmail accounts have been converted to – at least in appearance. Through it all, I’ve gathered that email is email is email. There wasn't a lot of communication about this Outlook conversion and it left a lot of people confused. It really gave Gmail elitists (who don’t want you to know that they also use Hotmail) an opportunity to proclaim Gmail’s greatness, with no facts to back it up. The same people have been quick to blame Hotmail for spawning of SPAM and they make sarcastic comments about Hotmail’s longevity. What they overlook is Hotmail’s worldwide use – up until LAST NOVEMBER, Hotmail was the most-used free email provider on the planet.

To all the keyboard warriors out their bashing Hotmail: get over yourself and please realize that you’re making an argument about two providers of an EXACTLY IDENTICAL service. Email is email is email.