life is always about the journey...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What's On The Side??


I am ALWAYS looking for new, yummy side dishes all year long.  I have my tried & trues, the holiday sides, the summer sides, etc but I like to discover new ideas along the way too.  And if they are easy to assemble or can be prepared ahead...EVEN BETTER right?

Southern Living & Pinterest seem to be the two places I most often find yummy recipes that my family will love.  The past issue of Southern Living (1 of my fave magazines) had some very yummy looking side dishes that I wanted to try out.  So I did this past weekend & thought I'd share them with you case you missed this last issue.  
HOWEVER I did add or change a few things to each to my liking...soooo if you want the original recipes you will have to buy the issue or look on their website. 
 I promise my versions were REALLY GOOD!!  
Both of them work perfectly during the summer months and with fresh produce!

 Zucchini-Potato Casserole
(yes I altered the recipe a bit, because that's just what I do)

4 TBS Butter
2 medium onions sliced
2 medium potatoes sliced THINLY
1 zucchini sliced THINLY
4 tomatoes sliced
kosher salt
black pepper
1 clove of crushed/diced garlic
1/2 cup shredded/fine Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup of shredded Mozzarella Cheese

**I used a mandolin to cut my potatoes & zucchini slices thinly & quickly

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cook onions with 2 TBS butter until tender & starting to caramelize.
Grease a round/oval dish and layer cooked onions on bottom.
Slice zucchini, potatoes & tomatoes thinly and start arranging them around your pan on top of the onions, alternating as you go.
Sprinkle everything with kosher salt & ground black pepper, then drizzle 2 TBS of melted butter on top. COVER WITH FOIL!
BAKE AT 375 degs for 35 mins
REMOVE FOIL and sprinkle with cheeses.
Bake again for 35 mins UNCOVERED this time at 375 degs.
Let stand for 5-10 mins before serving!

Looks so yummy right? It was really good!


Caprese Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
(again I added/changed a few things to the original recipe)

2-3 large tomatoes 
(I used a yellow heirloom as well)
16 oz fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2 inch slices
fresh basil leaves
6 bacon slices, cooked & coarsely chopped
3 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 TBS rice vinegar
2 TBS Olive Oil
kosher salt
ground black pepper


Slice tomatoes and cheese; then arrange in a circular pattern on your platter/dish.
Place basil leaves in and around as desired.
Sprinkle with salt & pepper to your liking.
Cook bacon until crispy, remove bacon from pan and let stand for a minute.
Reserve drippings in pan and add vinegars and oils, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan while mixing. Add in salt and pepper.
Drizzle warm bacon dressing over tomatoes and cheese.
Serve, Eat & Enjoy!

Aren't the colors just gorgeous?  I used some local fresh mozzarella and LORDY-BE was it flavorful!!  Basil is from my herb garden so it was super fresh :)

Look at those yummy layers and bits of crispy bacon (I used thick sliced maple bacon for mine)!
Perfect side dish for summer I tell ya!



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Weekend Fun Recap!

Hi everyone!  Did you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend?  We sure did even though we worked most of it....we had to do some painting on the outside of our house & cabana and yardwork. Trying to get ready for Alexa's graduation party means no slow down on the to-do list that's for sure.  But I cooked dinner every night and we relaxed on the patio each evening since the weather was OUT OF THIS WORLD fantastic all weekend.  Usually Memorial Day weekend is rained out but it was in the 80s, light breeze and sunny-blue-skies all 4 days..whoo hoo!!

These were my ode to Memorial Day flowers I had on the patio steps this the pretty pinwheel flowers with the blue.  I always have red geraniums on my front porch that I stick flags in as well....perfect for Memorial Day and July 4th!

The hubs finished powerwashing the patio so that the new mulch can now be put in without being disturbed.  Most of my flowers are all in bloom now and so pretty!

This is the back view of our house...I took this while I was busy spray painting some things for upcoming projects!  That empty spot in the garden is getting a lilac tree in it by this weekend & new mulch hopefully by end of week too.  You can see my hubs & the ladder by the steps...I painted the entire bay window & doors while he did all the cabana's columns.  Looks so lovely now as it was getting pretty worn after 8 years.

I do love to cook and every evening I fixed a feast for my hungry family!  I will be sharing some recipes over the next few days with you as well...some NEW yummies that I've tried out & loved.  This night it was marinated flank steak, broccoli rice, french bread, fruit salad and a zucchini-potato dish (soon to share).

The next night I made 3 kinds of wings (BBQ, Teriyaki & Hot Wings), slaw and roasted potatoes and hot wings on my plate though as my tummy doesn't like them too much.

On Sunday I made a batch of these super yummy & super rich "Strawberry Pudding Cream Cheese Cookies" (recipe here)....she has a lemon version on her site too. They were really good and not too hard to made 2 batches so Alexa took one over to her friend's house where they all got devoured.

In the evenings hubs built a roaring fire and we sat under the cabana & relaxed after a long day of work.  Gotta love modern technology these days between our iPad & Slingbox we can watch TV outside anytime we want.  We actually have a large screen TV that is for the cabana but sometimes we are too lazy to haul it out since we don't leave it outside overnight.  And yes we were watching our Washington Nationals play most evenings ;)

On Monday we were in DC at Nationals Park for a or lose we always have a good time watching our Nats, having family time & eating some good park foods ;)

Alexa & I at the park with our was a beautiful day to root our team on and celebrate and remember those that have served and given their lives for those of us in the US to live freely.

And it was finally hot enough for some shaved ice...mmmmm mine was grape & lime!!

If you follow me on Facebook you probably saw the video I put up of Alexa playing a game at Nationals Park.  She was up on the huge jumbotron for everyone to see and she actually won the game and a Nats Pack.  As we were walking to our seats people were congratulating her and her friends that were there were texting she felt a bit like a minor celebrity for a bit hahahaha!  They asked her what her favorite thing to do at the park was and she answered "EATING" and they asked her what and she said "Grilled Crab Sandwiches" hahaha that answer is soooo Alexa who is always planning her next meal for me to make her!!  Too fun!

So a great weekend & this week I'm off and bopping to the tune of 100 different chores & errands!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekend Plans!


We have a busy four days for the Memorial Day weekend!  Hubs has off today thru Monday so we are going to try to knock a lot of our house/yard to-dos off the list.  Monday we have a Nats baseball game so we will be in DC for the day.  But they are calling for sunny skies and 80 degs all weekend so it will be BEAUTIFUL weather wise...gotta love that!

All my flowers are starting to bloom and I just love this time of year!
My sinuses disagree but we are willing to feel miserable a bit for the outdoor beauty ;)
These are Knockout Roses and I have 7 of them around my house....they bloom profusely over the summer and are perfect for cutting and having in the house.  I clip mine back everytime the blooms die and they continue to bloom thru late October most years.

Nordstroms is having their HUGE 40% off in case you need things or need to stock up...ummm or just WANT's a good time.  I ordered these maxi dresses by Lush for both Alexa and I...we got coral and black and will trade off for different looks (on sale for $38 each).  
Maxi dresses are so easy to wear and cool for the summer...I love them.

And I got these cute gladiator wedges from DSW to wear with my maxi dresses, shorts and pants this summer.  I had accumulated a lot of points so I got $25 off...whooohooo! Gotta love that!

I will be making some of these yummy Strawberry Cheesecake Pudding Cookies (lemon recipe avail. too) for our weekend dessert.  Look super easy to make and very yummy!

And I will be listening to some great new country music while I work too.  I have my friend Trent Tomlinson's new song on replay lately "Come Back To Bed"....he's an amazing songwriter and singer.  Check him out if you get a minute!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend no matter what your plans are!
See ya back here on Monday!!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

A CHICKEN Thursday!


How about some Chicken for you? bwack-bwack-bwack!

 I love to fix and eat chicken, but sometimes get bored with my usual recipes that I know by heart...they're good but I like to mix it up now and again.  Its easy to get in a rut when you're pressed for time so I like to add some new recipes to my repertoire to see what is easy, what my family likes and what I can add to make it my own.  So below are some new recipes I want to try out (minus the kabobs...which I make a lot and are always good).  Most of these recipes are awesome for warm weather temperatures when you don't want heavy meals...and most can be made ahead which is always helpful when you want to enjoy the summertime chilling and relaxing!  Grill the chicken the day before  outside and have that all done without heating up the kitchen so much too.

(just say yummmmm)

(light & perfect for warmer weather temps)

(great to make ahead & serve for summer lunches)

(just say YES to extra servings)

(mmmm so yummy & easy to make)



(ohhhh my)

Bon Appetit!!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Busy Life....

I am busy some days I feel like I'm living in a fog...course that could be the meds they have me on too hahahaha!  We have so much to get done before Alexa graduates and me having been sick and recovering from surgery did not help speed things up at all.  So I was behind before I started basically...ohhhh great!

HOWEVER, having dealt with health issues a good portion of my life, I know that busy is as busy does.  You can have a 100 things on your to-do list but that doesn't slow down life or save it for you to enjoy later. You have to make the conscious choice to live the moments in between the busy and everyday chores and to-dos as much as you can.  So I may be busy most days planning graduation parties, making presents, planning surprises, making lists and getting home chores and projects done...but I'm still trying to enjoy life...and JUST breathe a bit.  

Alexa's solo video is won't let me embed it for some reason arghh!
Alexa is singing the solo at the very beginning...I didn't know she had a solo till we got to the school because she knows I get very nervous LOL!  But I did manage to get it on video...she's at top, at right...the blonde holding the book with the brunette.

Yesterday it was lunch out with friends and my daughter's last choral concert.  Today I'm working on some fun projects I will share with you soon but I'm also going to sit outside on my patio, read and have a homemade lunch for 45 mins.  I also insist we sit down as a family at the table and have dinner most nights when we phones & sometimes no just catch up and talk.  
So many ways to add MOMENTS to your life despite the busy-ness of it all.

So stick with me...I have some projects I know you will like coming to the blog that I've been working on.  But I'm also enjoying the moments of my life, my family's life and just every day "nothings" while I can.  Because when we are gone we can't get any of that time back....priorities are important and family and life are tops for me!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Prom Recap!

PROM 2014

Alexa had her last prom on Saturday evening and it was Gatsby themed.  According to all the stories I heard a good time was had by all.  They went for Japanese before the dance and afterwards she went to a girlfriend's house along with 10 other girls for a sleepover.  Sunday she was part zombie hahahaha!  

Definitely bittersweet to know that we won't have any more GIRLY homecomings or proms in our house unless my son lets me dress him up for fun....and that ain't happening LOL!  Hoping he decides to go to prom next year for his junior year...we shall see.

So thought I'd share my pictures with you in case you missed them on 
lots of pictures below!

Alexa looked stunning in this beautiful indigo colored dress.  It fit her perfectly with no tailoring and the color just lit her face up beautifully.  Course I'm a biased momma ;)

The back of the dress was just as fabulous as the front....looked good coming & going!

My hairstylist did a great job with Alexa's hair to match the photo Alexa brought in!  It was so intricately done that it took Alexa forever to get it undone after the dance, LOL....that means it was dance & jump proof!

And yep the hubs was a little teary eyed seeing Alexa all dolled up for prom!

My mom was able to come up for the weekend for Alexa's last prom.  She's come up for all the High School dances so it was kind of sad to think was the last one...sniff sniff.

Alexa and I....I'm not one for being in front of the camera like she is LOL! 
I prefer to be the picture--TAKER!

Alexa and Grace have been best buds since 5th grade.  Hard to believe these gals will be off to college in a couple of months.  So proud of them both...beautiful INSIDE & outside.

Alexa and her date Luke...they looked so cute together...although they are just "friends" as my daughter likes to repeat!  She had a bit of trouble with that boutonniere so mom had to help out ;)

Alexa with the group of friends that all went to dinner together.  This group was much more manageable than last year's 40 kids...ay yi yi.  Love seeing the girls in all their pretty colored dresses and smiling!

And this is how prom girl rocked it on Sunday....can you say zombied out hahahaha!
Just keepin' it REAL!

Next big event for us....GRADUATION and Grad Party!!

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