Updated Links

SO....I don't think I've updated my sidebar links - maybe EVER.  So I did this morning.  'Cause it's raining, and I don't feel like exercising or feeding my children, and I want my links in one spot.   I also added a Photography section {gasp} - what took me so long?!  I don't know.

So go check it out.  To your right.  Scroll down.  And now it's off to do laundry.  {groan} And change my baby - she smells like she just took a swim in the sewer.  eww.


Dinner Tonight-Summer Salad

My dinner tonight.  hhhhheaven.

I just started throwing in random stuff that I had in my fridge:
3 varieties of chopped lettuce
grilled chicken
chopped pecans
asiago cheese shreds
hard boiled egg (don't gross out---it's delish)
dried Michigan cherries
...am I missing something?...
oh, yeah, sliced carrots.
dressing was one tiny scoop of {good} blue cheese dressing & a couple'a squirts of tangy Caesar vinaigrette.  {gasp!!!} Delish.

I flipping LOVE SUMMER!!!

Summer Splendor - Queen Anne's Lace

I still think these Queen Anne's Lace weeds/flowers are spectacular.  I know I already posted about these girls, but as I was watering my almost dead flowers up front, I noticed these thriving, beautiful beauties in the back, shady part and they just made my heart start fluttering.  {gasp!}  I love them!!!  They just grow all over the place here - on the sides of every road, out in open fields, right in my back yard - and I never get sick of them.  

...ahhhhh.....it means that summer is still here---and not going anywhere.



Loving summer.  Are you loving it?!  Are you loving the fact that we can run outside with bare feet, the skies are blue with fluffy, white clouds, and the only ice in sight is in my glass of water?!  It's blazing by far too quickly.  Part of me is excited to have this year fly by because we're moving home to AZ next summer, but part of me wants this summer to take it's sweet, slow time because I'm loving not being cold.  ??? !!!  Whatta conflict!

Yesterday we gathered the girls together to celebrate my dear, BFF Kadie's birthday.  We had a fun b-day brunch, complete with stuffed French toast, scrambled eggs & sausage, chocolate sauce, and homemade whipped cream.  It was pretty much heaven.  And a trick Kadie and I have been doing lately is tossing some fruit in ice water - this time lemon and strawberries - and it's SO good!!!  Forget mixed beverages - there are few things as refreshing and pure as ice water infused with lemons and strawberries.  

A perfect, quaint celebration for the perfect friend!  Love ya, Kadie!

---now back to the treadmill!!!

Friendship Bracelets

Here's a fun blast from the past.  Only the coolest of the cool kids wore these bracelets.  {probably just I wore them...and I wasn't cool...but I felt cool...and isn't that what counts after all?}

I wanted a fun summer project for the kids so we looked up how to make these.  I do NOT recommend teaching this to your kids unless they are quick to catch on and are capable of tying knots without help.  If not....don't do it!  For the love of all humanity---choose wisely.  It will only drive you crazy---and I speak from experience.  The fun "happy-mommy-loves-to-craft-with-happy-kiddies" turns into "mommy's-head-blowing-off-and-senseless-screaming."  

Anywee--here's a great tutorial on how to tie them.  (why reinvent the wheel, right?! There's no way I can take tutorial pics for this one!  Plus, this one has a video!)  I used tape on my table because pinning just makes the bracelts twist and turn.  I did one tape at the top and then I used another piece of tape across the middle of the bracelet as it got longer - and just moved the tape down further - to keep it from twisting and moving.

My eldest was the only one who could manage this project - and he's doing a 2-color (4-strand) small bracelet.  If, for some reason you have to unpick anything, a straight pin works wonderfully.

My kids love these, actually.  Bracelets are all the rage right now and these are custom made.  And so the tradtion continues....my kids are now the coolest of the cool.  


Cooking 101 - Linguine with Chicken Sausage & Cannellini Beans


I'm not eating pasta right now---but I caved after I created this delicious dinner last night.  (I only had a smidge, though--just enough to say I had some and had to stop myself!)  I did dish myself up some without the pasta, though, and it is still amazing without it.

Cannellini beans are so versatile and they're full of good things for you.  Well, check this site out---you can see for yourself how great these little beans are.  (they have twice the amount of iron as beef!)


For the sauce: (start 1 hour before)
1/2 large onion, or one small onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic
2-3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. heavy cream (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add basil leaves, water and tomatoes, saute for about 45 minutes until everything is soft and thick.  Add heavy cream and stir until combined.  Add salt to taste.

For Sausage mixture:
1 pkg. of 4 Chicken Sausages (mine were chicken, onion, asiago, and pepper), sliced into rounds
1 Tbsp. butter
1 14-oz. can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Heat a large saute pan, add chicken sausage and brown for a few minutes.  Add cannellini beans, butter, and a little salt; stir and saute until everything turns golden brown and is heated through.  Set aside in a bowl.
**NOTE: you could also add thin sliced peppers to this mixture

For Pasta:
Well, you pretty much know what to do, right?  Cook it and drain it.  The noodles should be soft but not too soft.

To assemble: 
Dish some pasta in a bowl; add sauce; add sausage mixture; top with grated Parmesean or Asiago cheese and serve with some yummy Italian crusty bread.  mmmmm.....


Even though they're weeds, I love these flowers.  They grow all over the place here - on the sides of the roads, in huge fields, in my sand-box-turned weed-pit.  The blossoms are called "Queen Anne's Lace" and that's exactly what they look like.  Queen Anne.  Oh, I mean lace.  Very delicate and pretty.

They especially look pretty in a jar! {gasp!}



Thanks so much for all of the well wishes when I hurt my back.  What the?!  I've never done that before and hope to never again.  Geeze that was painful!!  However, after a few stiff days, I'm good as new!  Thanks for caring!

I Love America.

With no apologies, I proclaim loud and proud that America the Beautiful is the greatest country in the world!  God Bless America.  Land of the Free - Home of the Brave.

...and a big, fat cheers to backyard fireworks!

The BEST Carrot Cake. Ever.

Thanks to our good friend, Dr. Frederick, who has painstakingly adjusted this recipe and graciously passed it on to us, may I present to you the BEST Carrot Cake I've ever had.  {and trust me...I've had it everywhere and my own personal opinion is that this recipe exceeds even the Cheesecake Factory!}  I know, ladies, but it's true.  I would never lie to you.

{SO moist.  Just look at it for crying out loud!}


4 eggs
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil (or 3/4 oil and 1/2 c. applesauce)
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar
3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg (fresh ground is best)
3 c. grated carrots - (coarse grate, not fine grate)
1 c. chopped pecans
8 oz. drained crushed pineapple (I drained the pineapple and measured 8 oz. - or 1 c.)

1/2 c. butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. chopped pecans
heavy whipping cream
pinch of salt  (I added this in - I've found that if I add just the tiniest pinch of salt to my frostings, it makes the flavor pop.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13" pan or two round cake pans.

*Note: Using a food processor with the grater blade attachment, you can grate your carrots in no time.  I started dropping handfulls of baby carrots into the opening of the lid and had 3 cups of grated carrots in seconds.  You can also chop your nuts in the food processor, as well.  Save yourself some time.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 

In a large bowl (I used my Kitchenaid mixer), beat together eggs, oil, applesauce (optional), sugars, and vanilla.  Mix in flour mixture.  Slowly stir in carrots, pineapple, and nuts.

Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  (baking times may vary)  Let cake cool in pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  

For the frosting:
Beat everything together except the nuts until it's smooth and creamy.  Only add a splash of the whipping cream at a time until the frosting is creamy but stiff.  You don't want it too thin.  Fold in pecans.  Make sure your cake is completely cooled before you frost it.

...and now enjoy...