Sunday, October 28, 2007

October Swap

Thank you, thank you, thank you Gigi! Your fabulous swap sister package was so much fun!! And it arrived when I was sicky in bed so it was a perfect treat and pick-me-up, too! She was so sweet to send adorable socks, stickers, a Halloween stamp, a package of gift baggies for trick-or-treats, ribbon that she customized with my name on the packaging, cupcake sprinkles with another one of her most amazing customized labels and the most creative garland made of candy! She has several posted on her blog- check them out. Too cute! Oh and her card was so awesome too- can you see it in the top left corner? She is seriously crazy creative! I am in awe and so excited to have yet another crafty diva as my swap buddy! Woo-hoo!!


In return, I sent Gigi a goodie package with some chocolate (in a yellow and white wine bag) and snickers, a water tube (that I am crossing my fingers it makes it still full of water!), a tube of those fun glow in the dark bracelets (because everyone needs them!), a tissue case, Halloween drink coasters, luggage tags for her and the hub and a coffee (or tea) cup cozy. Her card was my favorite part. It's nothing fancy or anything but I thought it was cute. I found some random wood things that I painted pink and glued on the skull (she likes skulls) and I picked paper that made me think the back looked a little like a big piece of candy. I hope she enjoys her goodies as much as I did putting them together!

Fall Is Here!




Last weekend I was still not feeling well but I was dying to get out of the house and see the world a bit. I convinced my Daddy to take me on a drive to look at the fall leaves. And while he agreed to get me out of the house, he refused to pull over to let me take pictures- insisting that I had to stay in the car, not exert myself and finally get well. OK, fine dad. So we were off. We started here in Upstate NY and headed up to Bennington, VT. These pics aren't great as they were taken from inside a moving car. But trust me that they leaves and mountains really were beautiful. Like candy!



Then we headed over to one of my favorite little towns, Williamstown, MA. If any of you live somewhere between the Capital Region of NY and Boston, MA, a stop in Williamstown is a must. It's tiny- not really a destination. But it is only an hour from the Cap Region and less than an hour to the outlets (and another adorable town) in Manchester, VT. Check out the pumpkin/veggie stand we found on the way from VT to MA. Can you read the pumpkins spelling VERMONT? Oh-my-gosh too cute!!











OK, this tacky lion thing has nothing to do with fall. But it is part of a set that are at the entrance to a trailer park. I couldn't stop laughing at such a seemingly fancy entrance to a less than fancy neighborhood. I made Dad turn around so that I could get a decent picture.


All in all, it was a great outing. We saw lots of leaves, people walking about (as it was beautiful last weekend) and pretty houses. Just what the doctor ordered!











I'm Alive....


I promise I am alive. I have just been unexpectedly busy lately. Although with what I am not all that sure. I have done a few craft shows that have been unsuccessful. I don't know- I think this is just not my ideal area to be in. I never really feel like I fit in up here. Anyway, everyone seems to have nice things to say about my goodies when I do craft shows up here but they seem to prefer to buy the crap made out of pipe cleaners and google eyes at other booths instead. Not to knock the ladies making goods out of pipe cleaners and what not. But it does surprise me every time. Oh and my biggest "ugh!" moment comes at shows when EVERY STINKING TIME the vendors who have worked this particular show for many years in a row say things like, "it has never been this slow before at this show" or "last year you could hardly walk down the aisles because there were so many people." Um- that is just flat out annoying thank you very much!


One show that I did was OK but the best part were the little boys. They were there in their school uniforms to help me bring my stuff inside, they brought me lunch so that I didn't have to leave my booth, came to ask if they could get me a snack or soda and then helped me load my car at the end. It was rather cute and a very nice and appreciated touch! You are looking at pics from the last two shows that I did this fall.


I was also sick ....again! I had another bad case of bronchitis that had me in bed for a week. I never used to get sick. I mean, sure I had a sick day here and there like everyone else. But I have not been sick sick in like 10 years. And now twice in a few months.


Fall also has me busy with sorority stuff. I think I mentioned that I am the chapter advisor for my chapter up here and we just moved into a new (to us) house. And old fraternity house (the frat was kicked off campus for 10 years- naughty boys!) that was renovated this summer to accommodate cute sorority girls (because it was a frat boy pit before- ick!). While my girls love the new house, it has brought nothing but frustration to me and my team of advisors. I need to take pics of the house one of these days to show y'all the before and after shots. It looks great but when you look close you can see that our landlord (the fraternity) definitely skipped a few corners so to speak. Enter my frustrations. We are slowly but surely making sufficient headway though so I think things are up a slight upward swing.....I hope.



I leave in three weeks for my sorority little sister's wedding in Hawaii. My body is far from being bathing suit ready but I doubt that much will change in the coming weeks so this is the body that is going to Hawaii it seems. Oh well, no one is perfect. I am really excited to have some fun girly time in a beautiful location. I am also super duper excited about visiting my bestie for a few days after my Hawaiian vaca. We have a dozen things planned, including a joint open house (or trunk show depending on what you like to call it), watching the GA/Ga Tech game, and lunches and dinners with friends. So it is like a double vacation for me. Woo hoo!


This is a pie I couldn't resist buying at one craft show. Isn't it adorable!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Family Supper

First- Thank you so much for all of your sweet comments and emails about Bailey. Being able to vent on my blog was really helpful and I really appreciate everyone being so supportive.

So last night we had a rather impromptu big family dinner at my aunt's house. I see my family members a good bit but we rarely get together as a big group outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas. With the crazy warm weather we have had up here, it was so nice to sit out on the back porch, relax and catch up.

My cousins lost their baby boy at birth last year and we just found out that they are expecting a baby girl in January. She is still considered a high risk pregnancy (and is only 28!) but we are all crossing our fingers and praying that everything will turn out well this time. It has been a long road for them- to lose their baby on his due date. Oh, and the hub (my actual cousin) could be called back to Iraq for a second tour with the National Guard right around the time of the due date. A lot of breath holding going on in that household right now!

It's fun to see all the kids running around but OMG are they loud! My older cousins and I were saying that we were never that loud- or really loud at all- as kids. We concluded that it is a generational thing. Who knows. They are all so cute though so it's all good.

I decided to try a few new recipes. In my family when we have these supper get togethers, we sort of all bring a dish or two. It seems perfectly normal to me but I have friends who think this is odd to pot-luck it at family meals. It's the best in my opinion because then everyone brings their specialities. One aunt makes the most amazing baked beans. A particular cousin makes a family favorite Jello salad (and I don't even care much for Jello but this is one of our family's most coveted side dishes- sooo yum!). Anyway, for fun I tried a few new online finds and they were really quite tasty. I altered the original recipes a bit so here are my versions....

Shrimp Dip

*1 (8ounce) package cream cheese, softened (the orig. recipe called for 2 but it made WAY too much. I also use low-fat but use whatever you love best.)
*1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
*1 teaspoon hot sauce (or to taste)
*1 (4 ounce) can small shrimp, drained
*1 green onion, finely chopped
*1/4 (12 ounce) jar cocktail sauce

In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, lemon juice, cocktail sauce and hot sauce until well blended and fluffy. Mix in the shrimp and green onions. Transfer to serving dish and chill for 1 hour or until firm. Top with a bit of cocktail sauce for color. Serve with crackers, bread sticks and vegetables.

And I saved the BEST for last....this will be one of your new favorites and staples. Ready?

Asparagus Roll-Ups

*20 fresh asparagus spears
*20 slices of white sandwich bread, crusts removed
*1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (again, I use low fat but use whatever you love)
*6-8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (I say 6-8 bc it called for 8 but I only had 6 and it was still super fabu)
*2 teaspoons minced fresh chives (um I never measure chives. I pluck a bunch from out back and cut them up w kitchen scissors until I think it "looks" pretty enough)
*1/4 cup butter, melted
*2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Place asparagus in a skillet with a small amount of water; cook until crisp and tender, about 6-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Flatten bread with a rolling pin. Combine the cream cheese, bacon and chives; spread 1/2 tablespoonful on each slice of bread. Top with an asparagus spear. Roll up tightly; place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cut roll-ups in half. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Missing Bailey


I have been in a bit of a funk lately. Earlier this year we lost our dog, Bailey. In my family, dogs are like children. They are everything to us. We all travel with them, talk about them non-stop, pamper them and spoil them to no end. We don't put our dogs out back. No, in my family dogs have monogrammed and custom made beds....inside of course. The first thing I do when I get home and the last thing I do before I leave the house is love on the pups. Dogs in our family even exchange Christmas presents with each other and their close puppy friends. If you are not a "dog person" this must sound insane. But in my family and extended friend family, there is just no other way.


I had no idea I would miss Bailey this much though. I had no idea of the physical pain that would linger after we lost him. I have good days and hard days but lately I have had some of those really hard days. He had a fantastic life. He was so happy and full of personality right up until the day he died. His love for me, my dad and little Sadie was unending. He and Sadie Kate were too funny together. They would play together and nap together. She kept him young and playful and he taught her how to give me a guilt trip, to clean the dishes as they are going into the dishwasher and to be even more spoiled in life. I miss him soooo much. Our entire family misses him.

I have no idea why this is all surfacing again this week. I mean, I will have a mini cry over him on a regular basis. But in general, I am a crier in life. I fully believe that a good 2 minute cry (in private of course) is cleansing. It sort of gets all of those emotions out of me so I can be normal the rest of the time. This is different though. I feel like I just lost him again. He is so special, as they all are, and is greatly missed and loved. I know he is in a much better place where his legs work and he can run and be a playful puppy again. But I still miss him.


I love you, Bay!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ice Cream In A Bag




This past summer I read on several blogs and websites how to make ice cream in a bag. I really wanted to try it with my my cousin's kids but never had the chance for one reason or another. A few weeks ago, though, I was sitting for them over a long weekend and we tried it one night. OMG is it ever fun! It would be a hoot to make even if you have friends (adult friends that is) over for a casual dinner in the back yard, too. Sooo easy and really just good clean fun....in a bag.

Ice Cream In A Bag

Ingredients
-2 tablespoons sugar
-1 cup half and half
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup salt (The bigger the granules, the better. Kosher or rock salt works best, but table salt is fine.)
-Ice cubes (enough to fill each gallon-size bag about half full)
-2 pint-size ziplock bag (I double bagged it after we had a leak the first time)
-1 gallon-size ziplock bag

Directions
1. Combine the sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract in the pint-size bag and seal it tightly.
2. Place the salt and ice in the gallon-size bag, then place the sealed smaller bag inside as well. Seal the larger bag. Now shake the bags until the mixture hardens (about 5 minutes). Feel the small bag to determine when it's done.
3. Take the smaller bag out of the larger one, add mix-ins, and eat the ice cream right out of the bag. Easy cleanup too! Serves 1.


So I was wondering after I made it with the boys (and forgot to take a picture- sorry!), if it might be tasty with other flavorings. So of course when I went home that week I made it by myself (that's right, not a kid in sight!) with a dash of lemon extract. I made it this week once with a dash of almond extract. All are delish- the lemon is my favorite of the three. Oh, when I made it at home I used fat free half and half (don't get me started on how I think this product is misnamed. Half and half? It's fat free so I'm pretty sure "none and none" is a more fitting name. But I digress....). So not only is it super yummy, but fat free too!

Give it a try, friends. Try it with your kids or without and just feel like a kid.

Have you every made ice cream in a bag?  Would you ever consider doing it with your adult friends, even if kids aren't around?  Any fun flavor ideas that I should try this summer?

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