Friday, April 30, 2010

Bowling Alley Birthday Bash

On Saturday, hubby and I ventured over to Moncks Corner for my little cousin MB's birthday party. It was a good 30 to 45 minute drive for us but since we needed to run by a couple of places in North Charleston, and it's only like a 15 to 20 minute drive from there, it seemed worth it to make the drive in order to see my family.

My Nanny, most of my aunts and their children, and my Mom and baby brother were all there. I think I was there for 15 minutes or more before my brother even realized I was there. And that was only because I walked up behind him and picked him up without warning. :)

The kids seemed to be having a blast bowling and playing in the tiny arcade. It wasn't a very big bowling alley but it worked for them.

My little cousin M

This is MB's little sister AM. Is she not the cutest darn thing you've ever seen?

I could pinch those adorable little cheeks!

M throwing (and I do mean throwing) her ball down the lane.

M and MB's cousin E

This is my sweet little baby cousin AK. She has a baby brother on the way!

AM again being too stinkin' cute.

My boo trying to bowl. He actually finished with a better score than my husband, my mom, and my stepdad!

My teensy Mommy trying to bowl. She started off good but it just got worse from there. You can't tell by this picture but she is only 5'0 tall (or less).

My stepdad. As you can see he is feeling MUCH better. Just as a comparison, he is over 6 feet tall. Odd pair, no?

All the kiddies watching the ball roll.

AK and her mommy. AK's mommy is my aunt L and we're only 5 years apart in age.

Hubby bowling with Mom and my stepdad.

Time for pizza!

Boo being silly.

Is she not just the cutest darn thing?

The birthday girl, MB (in the purple), and my Boo.

Let them eat cake!

Isn't she just precious? Honestly she is one of the most well-behaved kids I've ever met!

It was nice to see my family, especially since I haven't seen most of them in a long while. When I get to the hometown for the weekend, I don't always make it around to see everyone. But with the summer nearly here, I'm sure I'll be seeing quite a lot of them at Nanny's house. We all like to hang out there on the sunny weekends and spend some time in the pool.

After the party, hubby and I headed to the mall. As most of you know, I despise the mall. But, unfortunately, the jewelry store near our house where hubby bought my sapphire ring closed and the only other one close by is at the mall. One of the small diamonds that surround the sapphire and that are set in the band fell out, like the very first day I got it back from being resized. So I had to take it back to have that fixed. What a pain. You would think they would do an inspection on the ring to make sure no stones are loose but apparently not.

After dropping my ring off, I needed to stop my Michaels to get supplies to make the Mother's Day gift I have in mind for my Mom. More on that later!

Then it was homeward bound to relax and enjoy the rest of our evening together.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! We are headed to the Charleston Dog Show tomorrow and hopefully on Sunday we'll be spending the day at the beach!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesdays At The Table

For this week's Tuesdays At The Table, as hosted by the lovely Cole, I want to share a recipe for a fantastic pasta dish that I think is to die for. Hubby was afraid to try it with his intestinal issues (tomato-based stuff exacerbates it), but he did give it a little taste. He loved it just as much as I did. I make this dish for lunch a while back. It lasted several days, I never got tired of it (which is HUGE for me), and it reheated so perfectly. The taste only gets better with time. I'm not big on leftovers, but this is just the sort of thing that I have no problem eating more than once.

Spicy Italian Pasta Bake
- PAM Original No-stick Cooking Spray
- 2 cups dry rotini pasta, uncooked (I used whole grain)
- 8 oz Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed (If you don't want as much heat just use regular turkey sausage instead)
- 1 med yellow onion, chopped
- 1 med zucchini, quartered lengthwise, sliced
- 1 pkg (8oz each) sliced mushrooms
- ½ cup shredded carrot
- 1 can (28 oz each) Hunt's Crushed Tomatoes
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook sausage in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking apart with spoon to crumble. (I cooked it until it was nice and brown and caramalized.) Add onion, zucchini, mushrooms, and carrot. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink and vegetables are crisp-tender. Add tomatoes and pepper flakes; heat 2 minutes or until bubbling. Add pasta to tomato mixture; stir until pasta is well coated. Spoon half of a mixture into baking dish. Top with half of the cheese. Repeat layers once more. Bake 15 minutes or until hot.

I like heat in my food so I added a dash of chili powder to this. It already has some heat with the Italian turkey sausage so be careful! I also seasoned it with a touch of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder after adding the tomatoes. It is rare for a dish to pass through my kitchen and NOT get seasoned with these staples!

This dish was delicious and super easy to make. It doesn't take long and it can feed you for several days.

Now, mosey on over to Cole's blog and see what everyone else is cooking.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Stranger at the Door

Last weekend, my family had a pretty crazy experience when a stranger tried to get into their house. Was it someone trying to break in? Not technically.

Last Sunday my baby brother called me. I was in Sumter for the wedding and at the time when he called me, I was at hubby's aunt's antique store. He wanted to tell me about the man that tried to "break into" their house. Some of the details from his account were fuzzy so I asked him to have my Mom call me when she got a chance. A few moments after hanging up with him, my phone rang. It was my Mom and she filled me in on what happened.

She was in the backyard doing some yard work and on the phone with my aunt (her sister). My stepdad and baby brother were in the house. They heard a loud noise on the porch, like someone banging on the door. They were worried that it was Mom and she was hurt so they both ran out onto to porch to see what was going on. When my baby brother rounded the corner ahead of my stepdad, he saw a strange man he didn't know. He immediately turned around and hid behind his dad (he is after all only 7). My stepdad asked him what he wanted and the man proceeded to try and get by him into the house. My stepdad shut and locked the door and grabbed his gun and the phone. It was obvious to him that this man was on something. His behavior was not only bizarre but erratic. He didn't appear to be hurt but he did appear to be in some sort of distress.

The strange man spun some tale about his car being broken down and he needed to use the phone. My stepdad wasn't born yesterday. The man's behavior was enough to let my stepdad know that this man could potentially be dangerous. You never know what somebody will do with something in their system. The man continued to bang on the door and try to get in. Even with my stepdad's gun in plain sight in his hand, this man was not leaving. By this time by stepdad had already called the police and the man's behavior continued to get even more strange.

Meanwhile my Mom was still in the backyard and had no idea any of this was transpiring. When she tried to go in the back door, it was locked. So she knocked and was pulled into the house and filled in on what was going on. My baby brother, who is a little scary to begin with, was shaken up considerably. When the police finally arrived, they escorted the man off to jail. I'm not exactly sure about those details but from what I understand the man was in fact on drugs and they think he was trying to hide from somebody, most likely his dealer.

This is not a story you would expect to be set in my hometown. It is a teensy little rural town where everybody knows everybody (or pretty close). It's not the streets of New York City by any means, but still even craziness such as this can occur there. It can happen anywhere. Scary to think about.

Thankfully my family came away from it safe and totally unharmed, albeit a little shaken. My baby brother is a little more scary than before but if it makes him more cautious as a teenager and adult then I think it has done some good. I don't know that my family could take any additional measures to keep themselves and their house safe. They already have an alarm system and double locks on all the doors.

It's crazy to me to think that this can happen so close to home, you know? You never think your family is going to encounter some crazy person at their own house. And you may call me crazy or paranoid, but I don't like to answer my door when I am home alone. I don't even like to be home alone when a repairman or someone similar comes to the house. But in the world we live in today, you really can't be too careful.

I feel safe in our neighborhood though. It is a family-oriented neighborhood with a lot of adorable little kids around. My neighbors are really nice. Usually when someone knocks on the door unexpectedly, it is a couple of small kids selling something from their school. Of course I don't mind answering the door in that case.

Am I crazy for not answering the door for unknown people when I am home alone? What are your thoughts?


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wedding Weekend Recap & Photos

Wow what an exhausting weekend! I wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed when we got home on Sunday. Here's a little er...long synopsis for you complete with pictures.

Thursday night, hubby and I had to get our bag packed and the munchkins' bag packed. We had to be sure to pack a cooler with my Starbucks freshly brewed and chilled coffee, half & half, and Splenda (yes I know it is bad for you, we are only finishing the bag because we already had it and then we're switching to something else) in order to make my morning iced coffee since there was no freakin' Starbucks in Sumter. Boo. We turned in early enough to get a decent night's sleep.

Friday morning hubby was up around 6. He woke up early thinking about some things. I may share more on that later but for now I'd rather not until I get his permission. You never know who may be reading this! Suffice it to say that it may mean a pretty major change for him soon. I woke up about an hour later and then it was time to eat, feed the munchkins, get showered and dressed, and pack up the car. We had to wait for a call from the MIL saying they were heading out before we could leave. They would beat us there by about 15-30 minutes if we both left at the same time. With the bags in the car, the munchkins strapped securely in their carseat, we hit the road...but first a stop at Starbucks for a frappuccino on the way out! Ha ha.

The drive was pretty uneventful. We were headed straight to the wedding site so the GPS (I'm still trying to come up with a name for my GPS lady) took us through the boonies...seriously. But we got to see lots of farmland and trees so it wasn't too bad. We beat the rest of the family to the wedding site by about 30 minutes (they are ALWAYS late everywhere they go). We took the opportunity to check the place out, walk the munchkins, and relax in the gorgeous sunshine.

I have to tell you that when we arrived at the site I was a little skeptical. First of all it is most definitely in the boonies on a rural back road about 20 minutes from the heart of Sumter. The nearest gas station is like 15 minutes away. Then we turned into the place and we see nothing but barns and farm equipment. And we're not talking cute little red barns, we're talking ugly faded blue tin barns. Yeah. I didn't know what to expect when we finally found the wedding site. At first I was a little unsure how suited the place was to a wedding, but then I saw the view.

This picture just doesn't do it justice but at least you get the idea. We were overlooking a beautiful, green, tree-filled valley. And that's when I could totally picture the wedding in my mind. The wedding was to be held on the grass facing the view. There is an open-air building behind what you see in this picture. It had a tall ceiling but no walls, just railings. It was very rustic but that made it beautiful. You could tell some very skillful and devoted people built this pavillion (as they called it).

When the MIL finally arrived we unloaded everything that could stay and then hubby and I were sent on a WalMart and gas run. Why? Because we needed more wet oasis AND enough gas to crank SIL's car up. Yep, they ran out of gas the moment they pulled up. This is typical for them but that's why I love them. They always keep things interesting! (If you aren't familiar with all things floral, wet oasis is that green stuff that you soak in water and then put the flowers in to make the arrangements.) We also had to pick up some lemons and limes for the vases and some mosquito spray for me, just in case. We couldn't have me blowing up from an allergic reaction to mosquito bites now could we? On the way there we had to run by the hotel and check us all in too.

We were supposed to have two rooms. Dru's aunt booked them for us since she has a house in the area and is familiar with the hotels and such. When we got there we were told to sign a no-smoking and no pets policy. The website for that hotel states that pets are allowed, I checked it out myself, so why on earth were they asking us to sign it? That meant no room for us and it just so happened that a damn soccer convention was in town and every hotel was totally booked. We were looking at either sleeping in the car or driving the 2 hours back home late that night and then turning around to come back to help the next morning. NOT COOL. But there wasn't anything we could do about it at the moment because we needed to get all the stuff and get back to the farm to help get set up.

By the time we made it back to the wedding site it was nearly time for the rehearsal to begin. SIL was in the wedding so she had to finish up and change before everyone arrived. They had knocked out most of the bouquets while we were gone so the majority of what was left were the table arrangements and pew markers. All the little stuff (corsages, boutineers, etc.) were done ahead of time. As soon as the rehearsal was over they were closing everything down so we had to pack up and head back to the hotel. The unfortunate part about this wedding being out of town is that there wasn't really a good place for us to do the flowers. Not having real access to the wedding site until the following day really put a damper on things. We were supposed to use Dru's aunt's antique store warehouse but we couldn't get hold of her to get the key from her. If it weren't for the fact that transporting wasn't an option because of the size of some of the arrangments and the fact that arrangments have a short lifespan due to limited water, we could have just made them all ahead of time and transported them.

We were forced to do the arrangements at the hotel. We didn't want to get pollen poop (yes that is what it is called by florists) from the lilies all over the room so we commandeered the picnic tables in the back to make arrangements. The temperature was nice, especially when the sun started to set, so why not?

By this time, we found a hotel that was pet friendly and that had a room for us. Thank God for last minute cancellations! Not having rooms in the same hotel with Dru's mom and sister was a little problematic since doing flowers for a wedding normally equals very late nights, but our hotel was less than a block away so it wasn't too bad.

Sometime around 10:00pm, something hit me. I got the most excrutiating pain in my side and felt like I was going to vomit and pass out all at the same time. I had to get the MIL's room key and rush inside before I tossed my cookies right there in the hotel parking lot. After spending Lord knows how long in the bathroom, I went out to find hubby and let him in on what was going on. He told me to go lay down since I didn't want to leave. I knew they needed my help. So I laid my seat back in the car, got Bentley out of his carseat, and snuggled with him. I had to run to the MIL's room a couple of times but kept holding out hope that I would start feeling better. By 11:00pm I was only feeling worse. Hubby insisted on taking me back to our hotel even though I didn't want to leave them in the lurch with table arrangements. Luckily Dru's aunt and uncle were there by then and offered to help.

I think I ended up finally going to sleep around 2am. I was NOT a happy camper. I will not tell you what I ate or where, but I am certain it was food poisoning. I will say that I had something relatively healthy from a beloved fast food restaurant that is all about chicken. I will NEVER eat at that particular establishment again. The one here, absolutely but no way will I ever eat at the one in Sumter again. Blah.

Sunday was a gorgeous day. We ate our deluxe continental breakfast at our hotel and then met up with MIL to head to the wedding site. Dru's aunt, uncle, and two cousins accompanied us to lend their help. Thankfully they had all finished the table arrangments and pew markers the night before so there wasn't a lot of flower-related stuff left. The bouquets had to be wrapped, the bridal bouquet had to be done, the large food table arrangment still had to be done, along with draping the tulle along the porch banister, hanging the lanterns, etc. There is a lot more but I really don't think I can remember it all!

We got done just by the skin of our teeth. We had to be back at the wedding site by 4:00pm dressed and ready for the wedding since it started at 4:30pm. I didn't have time to shower only enough time to do whatever I was going to do with my hair, do my makeup, and dress. Thank goodness I showered that morning and stayed dry working that day. I attempted to curl my hair, but I think the difference in the water there caused it to not want to do anything. I did my best (which consisted of trying to finish it off with the curling iron in the car on the way to the wedding).

Once we got there, we were able to breathe a little. I got out my camera and prepared to take pictures. Unfortunately there were too many people milling about for me to get pictures of the completely finished products out on display but I think I got enough while we were working to satisfy me, you, and my MIL (for her portfolio).

The wedding was really beautiful. The bridesmaids dresses were lovely, the bride was beautiful, and her dress was gorgeous. She was escorted in on a horse-drawn carriage. It was awesome! Her dad walked her down the aisle. The wind was blowing just enough to make her veil all flowy and it was so beautiful. (The wind had been blowing so hard all day, to the point where we had to change the set-up of the arrangements so they wouldn't get blown over.) After the ceremony, the bride and groom exited onto the carriage and disappeared from sight. When they came back, it was time for pictures.

The reception was nice. The food was yummy. The caterer was such a sweetheart. I can't say the same about the wedding director. She was a first class b*tch witch and I nearly threw something at her on more than on occasion. The only thing that saved her is the fact that my Mama raised me better than that. I hope no other bride, bridesmaid, or anyone else associated with a wedding is ever subjected to that horrible woman. Ugh. Back to the food. The food was sooo good. The highlight? The fried pickles! They were so good. The barbecue (pulled pork, as you Yankees would say) was perfection. The desserts were fantastic. Of course the cake was great because it was made by the same person who did our cake, Dru's aunt C. She is one talented lady!

SIL sang the first dance song. She didn't have much time to memorize it and practice but she did amazing with what she was given. It was "I Just Call You Mine" by Martina McBride if you're interested. Dru's cousin Ashley caught the bouquet and the groom's little brother Nat caught the garter. He was then forced to put it on Ashley. Hilarious. They were both, coincidentally, around the same age (14). Very cute.

We had a blast getting our groove on out on the dance floor. The DJs were great. They played everything we asked for and more. The music selection was perfect. My heels ended up coming off in favor of flip flops before the end of the night. My poor feet and my ankle (the one I injured in the car accident) were killing me. The flip flops made them so much happier even if they made me SO much shorter.

Please excuse the mess that is me. This was after I started getting my groove on!

The bride and groom left around 9:30 and that was our cue to start breaking everything down. We had to break down all of the arrangements and reload the trailer. It doesn't take anywhere near as long to break it all down as it does to put it all up.

We had a mishap with a missing bridesmaid who had had too much to drink, but everything turned out ok. I saw an old, dear friend from high school who is graduating from pharmacy school in May. I am so glad that we have reconnected because he was like my brother back then. Now I just need to find him a lady friend!

Hubby had a rose waiting on me in the airvent when I got in the car to leave. How sweet is that? We were both so exhausted from the events of the weekend that we couldn't wait until Sunday morning so that we could go home! But, that's not exactly what happened.

We ate breakfast at the hotel, packed up, and checked out then headed over to the MIL's hotel. They were all sitting outside talking. We joined them and then found out they hadn't had breakfast yet and were going to IHOP before going to check out Dru's aunt's antique store and then hit up the TJ Maxx there. We weren't sure if we were going to stay or head back home, but by the time they got a table at IHOP it was lunchtime and we were starved. So we ate and then checked out the antique store. Dru's aunt had a ton of cool stuff there. I found this gorgeous frame that I fell in love with and she ended up giving it to me. How nice! I have a few things in mind that I'm going to do with it, but I'll be posting about it later to get your opinions.

After the antique store we headed to TJ Maxx. The TJ Maxx there is usually fantastic. But as with all TJ Maxx stores, it's a hit or miss kind of thing. This time was sort of an in-between. It was a miss for clothes, shoes, and purses, but a hit for household stuff. I found an apothecary jar for $5, a super cool decanter for the same price, and a cute wire basket for $10. Pictures coming up in a future post. I'm still not certain what I'm going to do with them, but you all can weigh in on that future post.

After that, we headed back home. I was so glad to get back home. Just being home gave me such a sense of relief. I hated that I had to return to work the next day but we tried to enjoy the rest of our Sunday evening as best as we could. We had a nice weekend but it was A LOT of work!

I hope I didn't bore you to tears with my crazy long story. Hopefully the pictures kept you entertained enough that you actually finished reading. If you just skimmed to look at the pictures, that's okay too. I just hope you enjoyed them!