Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Big T Celebrates Twenty-one!

It has become somewhat of a tradition to celebrate Tay's birthday on Memorial Day.  This year, after a breakfast of scrambled eggs and blueberry biscuits, we headed to the beach. 



We picked a secluded spot of sand and sea in a quieter location away from the Memorial Day crowds.  It was a perfect day at the beach -- highs around 90 degrees F with a gentle breeze -- it was one of those times when you could stay all day!








But we had to leave about 2:30, so Tay and Joe could go to work, and I could get ready for Tay's birthday celebration!   He got off work at 6:00, so we planned our feast for 7:00.  Here is a picture of the spread:



Alan grilled hamburgers and bratwurst and baked some Vidalia onions in butter!  We also had baked beans, salad, cantaloupe, and cucumber dip with baked pita chips.  It was just the kind of feast that Tay loves!  ;)




Our friends -- Tim, Sherri and Maddie -- joined us for the feasting and fun!






After dinner, there was a rowdy game of Catchphrase and then the moment Tay had been waiting for since his last birthday -- Dessert!  : D  Tay loves my special cheese cake, which is pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself!  ;)



Even though this cheesecake is totally delicious all by itself, I serve it with blueberry or cherry pie filling, and let each person choose their favorite topping.  I like it with cherry filling  . . . . or just plain, so I can really savor the flavor of the cheesecake!  :)  (Have I mentioned that this is the most incredible cheesecake ever?!)


Here is a picture of the cheesecake and if you want to try this at home, here is the recipe!




Then came the birthday presents in a Taylor-sized gift bag!  :)







Too much Beach and Birthday fun for Bethany!  :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

It's All About the Presentation!

I just put this creation together to take to our church's fellowship meal this evening. 



It is just a simple taco salad -- made special by layering in a trifle dish.

I'm of the opinion that you can make just about anything look elegant with a trifle dish!

If you want to try this simple and delicious meal, perfect for a hot summer night at home or a covered dish dinner at church, this is what you do:

Prepare any or all of the following ingredients and set aside:

taco seasoned meat
shredded lettuce
shredded cheese
canned  black beans, rinsed and drained
chopped cilantro
chopped tomatoes
sliced black olives
sliced green onions
chopped cilantro
sour cream
guacamole
salsa
corn chips (for layering or to serve on the side)


Then grab your trifle dish and start layering the ingredients however you like, varying the colors and textures to create a work of art!  I started with the shredded lettuce, but you could also start with the black beans or the corn chips.  Top with sour cream and garnish with chopped tomatoes, black olives, green onions and cilantro.

Chill and serve with tortilla chips (unless you chose to include them).

This is Fun to make, Fun to serve, and Fun to eat!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All in a Day: Open House -- Living Room and Family Room




Today the All in a Day bloggers are continuing to show you around our houses and stopping to chat in our living rooms and family rooms.  These are generally the rooms where our families gather and where we welcome guests.

Our previous home had only a Great room -- which was a nice, big room; however, with such a large family, we are enjoying having a family room and a living room in our current house!  It is nice to be able to spread out a bit!


Here is a picture of our family room.  It is a long, narrow room with lots of windows on one side, a Very Tall Ceiling and a "cat walk" up above.  It is rarely this empty -- or this clean!!!  ;)  It is usually bustling with people and activity!




I love the way the kitchen opens into the family room!  Here is a picture taken from the kitchen looking into the family room.  This is a great house for a large family, because the rooms are large and it flows nicely!




This is our living room, which is located to the left when you enter the foyer.  It is special because it is furnished with Mum Mum's furniture.  Her sleep-sofa enables this room to double as a guest room when needed.  The door you see in the picture opens into the kitchen.





Here is a peek into my special corner where I love to have my Quiet Time, Read, and Blog.  In fact, I am sitting here now!  :)





I'm sure you will want to take a peek into the other All in a Day bloggers' homes.  Here is the list of blogs that are linking with us:



Carrie @ http://www.ourfullhouse.com/ Our Full House

Elizabeth @ http://yes-theyre-all-ours.blogspot.com/ Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @ http://www.kathymomofmany.blogspot.com/ Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @ http://www.littlenaturalcottage.com/ Little Natural Cottage

Lori @ http://1happybusymama.blogspot.com/ Happy Busy Mama

Monica @ http://www.naturalmamax4.blogspot.com/ Natural Mama

Renee @ http://bakersdozen.typepad.com/ Bakers Dozen
 



We would love to have you link your blog with us, at All in a Day.  Here's how it works:



1. Copy and Paste this code to add the All in a Day banner to the top of

your post.






2. Copy and paste the list of "All in a Day Bloggers" into your post.


3. Put your name and a direct link to your blog post into Mr. Linky, below



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

All in a Day: Open House -- Kitchen and Dining Room




Today the All in a Day bloggers are taking you on a tour of our kitchens and dining rooms.  If you've visited my blog much, you've surely seen my kitchen!




It is truly the heart of our home and the place where many meals (from simple to sumptious) are prepared, problems are solved, lessons are learned, laughs are shared, hearts are comforted, and memories are made.  Here are a few common scenes from my kitchen/breakfast area:
































We also have a dining room.  It is to the right of the foyer, which you saw in last week's post.




My dining table sure looks long when it is empty . . . but it fills up quickly!  This picture was taken when Abby and her family were here on Easter Sunday.




I'm sure you'll want to check out the other All in a Day bloggers and take a tour of their homes:


Carrie @ http://www.ourfullhouse.com/ Our Full House

Christi @ http://antsonafarm.blogspot.com/ Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @ http://yes-theyre-all-ours.blogspot.com/ Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @ http://www.kathymomofmany.blogspot.com/ Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @ http://www.littlenaturalcottage.com/ Little Natural Cottage

Lori @ http://1happybusymama.blogspot.com/ Happy Busy Mama

Monica @ http://www.naturalmamax4.blogspot.com/ Natural Mama

Renee @ http://bakersdozen.typepad.com/ Bakers Dozen



If you have a blog, see below on how to link to us! If you don't have a blog, please leave a comment telling us about your dining room and kitchen.


We would love to have you link your blog with us, at All in a Day.

Here's how it works:

1. Copy and Paste this code to add the All in a Day banner to the top of your post.


2. Copy and paste the list of the "All in a Day Bloggers" into your post.


3. Put your name and a direct link to your blog post into Mr. Linky, below.




Monday, May 16, 2011

Highlights from a Week in "The Promised Land"

I spent all of last week at my parent's house in Greenville, SC -- a city that we've dubbed "The Promised Land."  This beautiful area, often referred to as "the buckle of the Bible Belt," has much to offer its residents and visitors, and safely holds a treasure chest of memories for me, since I grew up in Greenville, and then spent many happy years raising my family in the greater Upstate area, before being transplanted to Georgia.






My Dad's cataract surgery was the motivation for our trip, but I decided to go up early, so I could spend Mother's Day with my Mom.  Unfortunately, she was sick in bed, and I didn't even see her on Mother's Day!  :(  The good news is she got well and was able to be up and around for most of the week and my Dad's surgery was a success!   I think he will have 20/20 vision in that eye!  (Maybe there is a silver lining to getting old!)


While in the area, we made time to see old friends, attend special events -- an Eagle Scout Ceremony, a wedding and two recitals, spend time with my precious and much-missed daughter, Ashlyn, and have some family fun! 

We spent two very pleasant afternoons at this awesome park (one with Ashlyn!).






The weather was beautiful, and the sand gnats were noticeably and gloriously absent!!  ;)




This park is unique in that it has a smaller playground for young children, which is seen in the picture above, as well as a playground that is fun for much older children, which is shown in the following pictures.




















When Hannah got tired of playing, she zoomed in on some of the natural beauty, as illustrated by the picture below.




A week or so before leaving town, I gave Luke and Matt some pretty bad haircuts, while trying to reshape a professional haircut that wasn't to our liking.  So, I decided to take them to see Mike!  He has cut my Dad's hair for a great many years, and used to give haircuts to Alan and the boys back in the early 2000's.  He was surprised and pleased to have Luke and Matt sitting in his barber chair once again!






I should have taken before/after pictures . . . but trust me, their haircuts look very nice!


This is just a random picture of Hannah, sitting in my parent's back yard.




One highlight of the week for me was getting to see my dear friend, Lori.  Unbelievably, we have been friends through thick and thin for the past twenty years!  We share a common love of books, ideas, writing, and encouraging others, and spent the early years of our friendship shaping and refining our ideals and visions for our families . . . while we've spent the latter years redefining many of those ideals to fit present realities!  ;)  It was a treat to meet her for coffee and a delicious high-carb breakfast early one morning at Atlanta Bread Company, where we tried to squeeze as much catching up as we could into our sliver of time together.







The delightful lady below, is my Mom's long-time friend, Jean.  She gave us a tour of her newly-renovated home, and while it was all absolutely beautiful and amazing, this was my favorite spot!!  This sun room looks out over her nicely landscaped backyard, but what grabbed my attention was the mural that had been painted on this previously exterior wall.  This incredibly life-like mural was created from a picture of her husband's old homeplace in South Georgia.  I know my photos can't do it justice -- but it was just incredible!  I was so captivated by it that I didn't want to stop gazing at it!









Saturday was my 28th wedding anniversary -- but I was not able to spend it with my hubby.  :(  However, I did spend it at one of the sweetest, most joyful weddings I've ever been to in my life!  I was so touched by the sweet ceremony and the exchange of vows, that tears slipped silently from my eyes throughout the entire service!  Here is the precious, godly couple, smiling with pure joy from just being announced husband and wife!




The wedding was held in the church that we still consider our "home church" in Greenville, after being actively involved in the life of that fellowship for over a decade.  It was a JOY to see many old friends, including our former pastor, and the founder of that church, Pastor Joner!  He is such a godly man, an exceptional expository preacher and devoted shepherd of his flock, and so very dear to our family!  It brought tears to my eyes just to hear his familiar booming voice lifted in prayer!!  He stood with our family during both births and deaths and a multitude of joys and sorrows, and the words that he often spoke from the pulpit are indelibly stamped on our hearts!
  



The reception was held at the Evangelical Institute, where Ashlyn attended school, and you'll never guess who the wedding photographer was -- yes, it was our own multi-talented Ashlyn!!  :)  It was quite fun for me to see her in action!!







I was also excited to see my friend, Melissa, whom I have not seen in a very long time!!


And it was fun to see her beautiful daughter, Christie, with her husband and adorable children!!  Aren't they a precious family??




And here I am with the Fantastic Five!"  (Doesn't "fantastic five" sound way better than the "bottom five??")   ;)




We finally got to see ShutterBooth in action  . . . and even enter the booth ourselves for some crazy pics, after hearing of Ashlyn and Bethany's many ShutterBooth Adventures!  It is a really neat concept!




The creatively decorated get-away car!!  :D




Saying good-bye to Nanny and PaPa after an eventful week!

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