Operation: Get It Done

It’s almost spring and I have the spring cleaning fever! I love organization but having 5 children (especially teenagers and a three-year-old boy) makes it super hard to get organized and stay organized. We moved into our new house less than 24 hours before I had our little boy. Many of the things that were unpacked and put places, I haven’t changed or touched since. As I look around my house, I see so many things that need to change to work better for our family.  I made a list of most of the things I want to work on this spring and summer. I don’t have a deadline date because I feel like that would overwhelm me and make me give up all together. Instead, I’ve decided to work on one thing at a time as quickly and completely as I can. Here’s my list:

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Straighten and organize garage
Build and paint school table ✅
Clean out master closet
Clean off top of kitchen cabinets
Clean out master bath cabinets
Clean out master bath drawers
Clean out and organize:
Pantry✅
Refrigerator✅
Laundry room
All drawers in China cabinet
Games
Kitchen buffet
Buffet in foyer
Drawers in kitchen
Office
Bedroom drawers
Playroom
David’s toys
Shoe bins
Outside patio and porch
Study room drawers and cart
Freezer

We built a new school table over two weekends and I LOVE how it turned out! We had been using a folding table and there was absolutely no room to work. This allows everyone to have her/his own workspace.

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Do you have any organization goals? Tips? Tricks? I’d love to hear them!

Disney World {Just a Couple}

My husband and I visited Disney World a few went weeks ago. We went without the children and only for a long weekend. We stayed off property because we had Hilton points. We stayed at the Disney Springs Hilton. It was decorated in a very contemporary way and I loved the streamlined look. Everyone at the hotel was very friendly. I would certainly recommend this hotel if you are looking for a place off property.

We arrived in the afternoon on a Friday and after checking in to the hotel and dropping our luggage in the room, we headed to Magic Kingdom. We stopped by the place next to City Hall to get our Sorcerer cards first. We played that for a while and then headed for the rides. We rode Big Thunder Mountain and It’s a Small World. We got great seats for Wishes. The fireworks are my husband’s favorite part; so he was so excited to watch them in a good spot.

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After the fireworks, we went to find some other things to do. We love Laugh Factory and the Toy Story laser ride. It was very packed in the park every day we were there.

We visited Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Animal Kingdom was especially packed. We only went on the Kilimanjaro Safari; everything else was more than an hour wait. We went on to Epcot. We enjoyed the Art Festival. We are both BIG art fans; so we really enjoyed perusing the different pieces of art. We even purchased one. Noah was one of the featured artists and was there to meet with the people and sign his work. He was so engaging and incredibly talented! His story is amazing as well.

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Both of us enjoy trying new foods and Epcot is a perfect place for this. We rode Living on the Land, which is one of my favorites. We also wore Soarin’. It’s the first time I’ve been on it since they changed it to the world version. It was nice, but I missed the orange grove so much!

We ate dinner at Rose and Crown one night and at the Captain’s Grille another night. My husband loved the steak so much at Rose and Crown. It is one of the older girl’s favorite foods of all time. The food is always good in Disney and both places were no exception.

One of the things we enjoy about going alone to Disney World is that we usually explore places that the children aren’t interested in visiting. If you ever wonder if this is a good trip for adults without children, the answer is YES!

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Spicy Tennessee Deviled Eggs {Low Carb}

While waiting for a flight in the Nashville airport, my husband and I stopped in O’Charley’s to grab a quick bite. We were looking for something fast and low carb. They had Tennessee inspired deviled eggs on the menu. We ordered them and quickly decided that this was a flavor we would need to replicate at home.

I had to search around for the ingredients but after I found them all, I was able to copy the flavor almost exactly.

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Here’s my recipe:

2 boiled eggs

2 tsp. mayo

1 Tablespoon Tennessee Chow Chow

drizzle of Historic Lynchburg Habanero Hot Sauce

4 pickle slices

Boil eggs. Let cool. Peel eggs. Cut the eggs in half and take out the yolk. In a bowl combine the mayo, chow chow, and cooked yolks. Mix until mostly smooth. Place pickle slice under each egg. Put the yolk mixture into the egg. Drizzle the hot sauce on the top.

Enjoy!

Happy Mardi Gras

I love Mardi Gras! Since going to college in New Orleans I found a love I had missed before.

It all started with decorating with beads, masks, and doubloons. I made a Louisiana dish for dinner. I bought the jar of etouffee sauce at my local grocery. We’ve used it many nights and we really enjoy it. I cook chicken with the sauce in the Dutch oven and then shred it after about 4 hours cooking low in the oven. I then make 90 second rice to serve with it. We had King cake for dessert of course!

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I made Shirley Temples with a light cube for fun!

Before all that, I taught a bootcamp class. I’ll give you a quick run down of part of what we did. We played a game. There were four exercises that had to be completed. We ran through them for 7 minutes. Every round of 4 exercises the participants finished they grabbed a string of beads. We did three 7 minute workouts. Whoever had the most beads at the end won a prize ( a Mardi Gras hat). We also all shared a King cake at the end of class.

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It was a great Mardi Gras!

Joan of Arc by Mark Twain

I just finished Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.  Most people don’t realize that Mark Twain ever wrote a book about Joan of Arc. He published it under the name of Samuel Clemens. This book, he said, was his favorite. He didn’t want it compared to any of the more popular books. This one took him 14 years to prepare and write while the others took little time at all.

Joan of Arc is a truly remarkable figure. I knew just what the paragraph in the history textbook says. I had no idea how her story truly went. From every movie I’d seen about her,  I was left with the idea that maybe she was a little bit crazy. After reading this book,  I know that is not true. She was truly inspired and the men who prosecuted her and ultimately killed her were nothing but cowards. But I want you to read it for yourself!

I laughed. I cried. I got chills. I was touched.

It’s one of those books that you want everyone to read because the value that is in it.

If you’re looking for a great book for spring break or summer vacation, put this one on your list! I gave it to my dad for our last vacation and he still speaks of it with tears in his eyes.

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Here is what Goodreads has to say about it:

I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.” –Mark Twain

“Mark Twain comes furtively like Nicodemus at night with this tribute to one of God’s saints. In doing so he tells a secret about himself. It is as though the man in a white suit and a cloud of cigar smoke thought there just might be a place where people in white robes stand in clouds of incense.” –Fr. George Rutler, Author, The Cure d’Ars Today

“Joan of Arc is the lone example that history affords of an actual, real embodiment of all the virtues demonstrated by Huck and Jim and of all that Twain felt to be noble in man, Joan is the ideal toward which mankind strives. Twain had to tell her story because she is the sole concrete argument against the pessimistic doctrines of his deterministic philosophy.” –Robert Wiggins, Mark Twain: Jackleg Novelist

A Quick Trip to Baltimore

Our first of many college visits is officially behind us. We visited a university in Baltimore last week. I had never been there before so I had few expectations.

We stayed at the Colonnade near several universities. The room was nice and the staff was very friendly. Our only complaint was the mattress on the foldout bed was extremely thin. Our daughter said she would have been better off sleeping on the floor.

We ate at three restaurants while we were there. The first was MO’s Seafood. The food was unbelievably good! The crab cakes were fantastic. My husband proclaimed that the crab au gratin was one of the best things he has ever eaten. The owner, Mo, was awesome. He was smart, kind, and engaging. I loved our conversation with him.

The next place we ate was Blue Moon Cafe. It’s a brunch place. My husband and daughter had the Sweet Baby Jesus. It’s fried eggs, hash browns, jumbo lump crab, cheese, and hollandaise. My husband had them modify it and make an omelet without the hash browns. They both said it was phenomenal. The servers there were funny and nice.

The last place we ate was a little place called Flavor. It had little things to eat. My husband got the lamb chop and my daughter got the sliders. They both said the food was really good. I was freezing so I had an Amaretto coffee which was delicious.

All of the uber drivers we had were great. They were all friendly and talkative.

The city is beautiful. I loved all the history and architecture.

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I wish we had had more time to really enjoy the city, but I suppose if my oldest ends up at school there, we will.

Happy Valentine’s Day

My children woke up to doughnuts for breakfast. I ran to Publix and got chocolate filled and regular glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I then bought a tub of bright pink icing and piped hearts on the doughnuts.

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We made Valentine’s using free printables online from here and Here

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Later tonight, we will have dinner and a special dessert while enjoying a movie together.

I hope you and yours have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries {tips and tricks}

Over the weekend we attended a baby shower for my niece. It was a brunch (which is my favorite kind of shower). It was beautifully done by her sister. I contributed chocolate covered strawberries.

Strawberries are not a favorite of mine, but throw chocolate on top and they are just downright gross to me. I know I’m a lone wolf when it comes to this opinion.

Since they seem to be a universal favorite (with me as an exception), I make these “treats” for many occasions. I’ve learned a few things through my experiences making them.

Here’s a few things I know:

The strawberries must be completely dry.

Do not soak the strawberries to clean them. They will actually take in water and become disgusting.

Ghiradelli melting chips are the best. They don’t take more than 2 minutes and become so super smooth.

Take the strawberries by the leaves and dip and swirl them in the chocolate.

Let them dry on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.

Do not refrigerate. If you do, when you bring them back to room temperature, they will “sweat” and be way less appetizing.

Overall, chocolate covered strawberries are a quick and easy dessert. Just follow these tips and tricks and it’ll be easy as pie (which I would prefer, but that’s just me).

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Heart-shaped Cinnamon Rolls

This morning I made the girls cinnamon rolls for breakfast. They were actually orange rolls (their favorite), which had been out of stock at my grocery store until yesterday.

They are so quick and easy to make. The girls were so excited to start the day with a lovely breakfast to celebrate the first day of February.

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Countdown to Valentine’s

I try to plan out fun things for my family to do for most holidays. Sometimes things just don’t work out or things come up and change our plans, but I usually try to get something lined up anyway.

For the days leading up to Valentine’s day, I wanted to have something heart or love related for each day.

Here’s the tentative plan:

February 1: Make Heart Shaped Rock Candy

February 2: Groundhog day craft

February 3: Build toothpick and heart candy shapes

February 4: Make strawberry cookies

February 5: Heart-shaped cinnamon rolls for breakfast

February 6: Charlie Brown Valentine dinner and a movie

February 7: Make Valentine cards for grandparents

February 8: Heart Oreo Truffles

February 9: Make a pie with Maw Maw

February 10: Valentine tic-tac-toe snack

February 11: Make Valentine slime

February 12: Make friend Valentines

February 13: Make Daddy Valentines

February 14: Valentine Dinner and gifts

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