Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Calm before the Storm.

August has been a really slow month for us.  It just seems to be dragging on, I wonder if the anticipation of football season has something to do with it?  We haven't been up to much since the last post.  We have mostly been relaxing and getting stuff prepared for Saturdays in the Grove. When we were living in Oxford all we had to do on Satrudays was show up to the Grove with a dish and we'd migrate from tent to tent.  Now, that we are alumni, we actually have to plan (Oh, the joys of being an adult).  We had to find someone to set up & take down our tents, plan and assign menus for every weekend, gather all the tables, chairs, coolers, serving pieces, etc.  It has been so much work and football season hasn't even started!  I am not complaining, I am loving every bit of it.  In 10 days,  I will be in the most incredible place to experience college football and life will be complete again.  Dramatic? Sure, but it makes life oh so sweet.

This past weekend was Ben's first weekend off since we moved to Birmingham in May.  Although he started his job with the BBJ in July, he has continued working as a server. Why? Refer to previous paragraph. Football season is a major expense and we have been saving all of the money from serving to help fund the next 4 months of our life.  I am so grateful that Ben was willing to sacrifice his whole summer (withouth complaints) working 7 days a week so we could have the extra funds.  Anyways, he decided to quit serving a couple of weekends before the season started so he could have some relaxation.  And boy did he relax!  We spent the entire weekend at the pool with a cooler full of refreshing beverages.  It was exactly the weekend we both needed.

The weather is finally starting to cool down here.  I am hoping it's not a tease from Fall, but a steady progression into the best season of the year!  There hasn't been much of anything going on.  My mom is coming to visit this weekend.  She misses her oldest baby and wants a weekend away.  I am very excited to see her, but it requires me to take a day off from work (and still get paid...aghhh!) which is super exciting.  We are going to have a blast.  We are gonna do lots of shopping and I'm going to take her to yummy eateries that are going to make her wonder how she functions without them.

Happy Humpday Y'all!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bunco Night!

I recently joined a bunco group that gets together once a month for a good ole game of bunco.  Being  new to the area, I have really enjoyed the opportunity to meet a group ladies that are full of conversation and love sharing a bottle(s) of wine. Last night was only our 2nd meeting and I was the hostess.  Everyone brings a bottle of wine and $5 to play and the hostess serves dinner.  Last night, I served Caesar Chicken Salad Squares with a side salad and roasted asparagus.  For dessert, we had strawberry freeze pie (recipes below).  The meal was delicious and well we never actually got around to playing bunco.  We were missing several members due to sickness and just bad timing so we decided to have a business meeting instead, although we didn't really discuss anything related to bunco.  I don't think there were any complaints though, we had a good meal, shared great company, and all got to go home with our $5.  Anyways, I'll get to the good part and share the recipes now.

Caesar Chicken Salad Squares
2 c. cubed or shredded cooked chicken breasts
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. cooked and chopped bacon (I usually cook 2-3 pieces)
2 tbsp. Caesar dressing
1 tbsp. mayo
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. lemon juice

1 can crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375.  In a medium bowl, mix all the filling ingredients until well blended.  Unroll the crescent rolls and seperate into 4 rectangles.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and press preforations to seal.  Spoon about 1/2 cup chicken mixture onto centor of each rectangle.  With knife, cut each corner of each rectangle from edge to within 1/2 inch of filling.  Bring the 8 points of each rectangle up over filling; firmly pinch to seal, forming a square. Bake 16-21 minutes or until deep golden brown. 

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.  Since I was cooking in a limited amount of time, I made the filling the night before that way all I had to do was fill the crescent rolls and bake.  If you make the filling ahead of time, you probably want to add a little more mayo and Caesar dressing to the mix before you spoon it into rolls.  I like to serve with a side salad of Romaine lettuce and mozzarella cheese.

Strawberry Freeze Pie
12 Chips Ahoy cookies
1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 can frozen berry juice concentrate ( I like Bacardi strawberry daquiri mix)
1 c. crushed stawberries
1 tub Cool Whip

Place cookies on the bottom of a 9 in. springform pan forming a crust.  Beat cream cheese and sugar together in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the juice concentrate, beating well after each addition.  Stir in the strawberries.  Gradually fold in Cool Whip until well blended.  Pour mixture over cookies and place in freezer for at least 8 hours.  When ready to serve, remove from freezer and place in refrigeratore for at least 15 minutes to soften. 

I found this recipe several years ago when I was browsing through an issue of Cooking Light at Ben's parents house.  It quickly became one of my favorite summer desserts and I look forward to strawberry season every year so I can make this yummy pie.  And, it came from Cooking Light magazine so it has to be somewhat heatlhy right?

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

50 State Bucket List...My Turn!

So now it's my turn to share my bucket list.  My list is pretty pitiful compared to Ben's, his family was able to travel a lot more than mine growing up (Ben's dad worked for Delta Airlines).  I am so thrilled that I married someone who likes to travel.  I condsider myself a lover of traveling, but Ben begs to differ.  Unlike most, I have no desire to travel to many places around the globe.  Quite frankly,the thought of traveling to most foreign places scares the living daylights out of me.  Still, there are plenty of places I'd like to see before I kick the bucket (hah). 

Here's my slightly less exciting list:

States I haven't been to (ranking of where I'd like to visit):






Massachusetts (sp?)--3


New Mexico--8


The following are the states I haven't been too but not really sure if I'll ever have a desire to visit them:

West Virginia
New Hampshire
Nebraska (only if Ole Miss ever makes it to the College World Series)
North/South Dakota

I might have left 1 or 2 out, at my age, its hard to remember all 50 states.

Most beautiful state visited:

Kentucky---Random, I know but the hills & trees, It really surprised me.

Ugliest state visited:
Tie between New Jersey & Louisiana- Both make me proud to be a Mississippian (and that says a lot, haha)

State I'd most like to visit again:
California--I want to visit the vineyards, and San Diego, and see more of LA & Hollywood.

State I'd least like to visit again:
Missouri--these folks don't know if they are yankees or it's just an extension of Arkansas

Southernmost point visited:
Sarasota/Tampa, FL---whichever is more southern

Northernmost point visited:
Kalispell, Montana

Coldest place visited:
Chicago, IL---I would love to live there if it wasn't for their wretched winters

Hottest place visited:
All the places in Florida

State with the best cuisine:
California, hands down.

State with the worst cuisine:
New Jersey--I can't imagine anything from that state being edible.

See? I told you it wasn't very exciting.  This was a fun post to write and it brought back many good memories. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's Not Goodbye, Just See Ya Later!

Back in February, Faulkner (then known as 'Sippi) joined our little family. Fast forward 6 months to August and things have changed. A lot.  As most of you know, we moved from a house to a small apartment and lets just say some adjust better than others, hah.  We adopted/rescued Faulkner from a couple in Hattiesburg who didn't have the yard nor give him the attention that he needs. He was a little timid at first, especially when it came to being around Layla.  But in just a few short weeks, Faulkner and Layla acted as if they had been together since birth.  Faulkner fit right in.  In Hattiesburg, the dogs always had access to the backyard through the doggie door and they utilized it all the time.  While we were fast asleep, they would be outside expelling all that extra energy.  Once we got to Birmingham, things changed....drastically.  Gone was the fenced in yard.  Gone was the doggie door. Gone was the nights of uninterrupted sleep.  The dogs had to teach us how to let us know they needed to go out.  Surprisingly, this was easy.  They ran to the door, sat, and barked until we thought, "Hmm maybe they need to go poop."  The major adjustment for the dogs was not being able to play outside during the night.  Faulkner would wake us (ok, mostly Ben since I am a very heavy sleeper) up wanting to go outside (or so we thought).  As this continued, Ben figured out that he didn't need to use the potty, he just wanted to either get in the bed with us, get some attention or have play time.  In the beginning, this was not a big deal.  Ben was only serving and had odd hours and was able to sleep in to catch up.  But now with both of us working 8-5, getting up several times a night was not an option.  It was like we were taking care of a little baby.  HAHA, we didn't sign up for that, we signed up for dogs.  We tried so many things to get him worn out.  The longer walks and field trips to the doggie park were not doing the trick.  We knew what we had to do. It was the last thing we wanted to do but we knew it was the best option for him and for us.  We decided to find Faulkner a new home. 

Ben knew he was going to have to be the one to find the new home, the thought of it devastated me.  He put an ad on Craiglist at lunch on a Tuesday afternoon and by dinner time we had 5 or 6 replies.  We weren't asking for any money, we just wanted to find Faulkner the best home and humans to take care of him.  One of the replies was from a young couple who lived about 40 miles from Birmingham and they wanted to drive up and meet us at the dog park.  After learning that one had grown up with weims and knew their tendencies, I felt like it could be a possible match.  We met them at the park 2 nights later and they were in love.  We found out they were in a house with a fenced in yard and hardwood floors (no carpets to tear up like he did here at our apartment).  We also learned they were looking for a dog that would be able to spend the weekends on the water with them.  AND, the guy works in a family business so Faulkner could go to work with him!  No more kennels during the day.  We got a really good feeling from this couple and they were ready to take him home that night.  We decided to let him go for the weekend and let them have a trial weekend with them.  I was firm in telling them that I did not want him ending up at a pound and we would take him back if things were not working out.  Well, things couldn't have gone more perfectly.  He warmed right up to them and was playful the moment he arrived at their house.  He spent most of the weekend with them at the lake and soaking up the sun on the boat. Frankly, I"m a little jealous him.  Of course, I am keeping in contact with Mary, Faulkner's new mama.  She sends  me text updates and pictures several times a week.  We are now enjoying at least 7 hours a night since Layla has been around since she was a wee little thing and knows how we works.  She was a little sad at first (we really think she was just scared she was next to go).   I now know we made the best decision for both Faulkner and us and we couldn't be happier. 

May Faulkner have many many happy days!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

50 State Bucket List

Ben's aunt and uncle, Arenda and Bob are passing through Birmingham this weekend on their way out West.  They are headed to South/North Dakota (can't remember which) and Nebraska to complete Bob's 50 state bucket list.  These are the only 2 states Bob hasn't visited in his lifetime.  I'm not exactly sure of Bob's age, but I find it very impressive that in a week or so he will have visited every state in the U.S.  This litlte bucket list inspired my dear husband to send around an e-mail to the family with his 50 state bucket list.  I thought I would share.  I'm working on mine and will post it later.

States I haven't been to (ranking of where I'd like to visit):

Maine- 4

Vermont- 5

New Hampshire- 9

Connecticut- 8

Rhode Island- 10

West Virginia- 11

Nebraska- 6

New Mexico- 2

Oregon- 7

Hawaii- 1

Alaska- 3

Most beautiful state visited:
Florida- easy choice. Beaches, hot weather, theme parks. FUN.

Ugliest state visited:
Louisiana- swamps, coon asses, LSU.

State I'd most like to visit again:
New York- really want to get upstate more and a trip to NYC is always great.

State I'd least like to visit again:
North Dakota- just drove through it but seemed like a good place to find meth...and that's about it.

Southernmost point visited:
Miami, Fla.

Northernmost point visited:
Niagara Falls

Coldest place visited:
Probably Kalispell, MT, though I'm fairly certain the winter Harrison was born in Cleveland was the coldest I have ever been

Hottest place visited:
Phoenix, AZ, some putt-putt golf place we were at had temps at 108 when we were out there...Miami's heat indices were really high but there always seemed to be a breeze

State with the best cuisine:
New York or California, both seemed like you could get the very best of anything in the world.

State with the worst cuisine:
Arkansas, though this may be unfair as I have only eaten at a Krystal's and a greyhound racing establishment in this state.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


So since my last post, the month has changed. We were very busy the last week so that is my excuse for the lack of posting.  Honestly, I can't really recall what exactly made us so busy but it was just one of those weeks.  We did celebrate Ben's birthday last week.  He's not a big birthday fan like his dear sweet wife, but I wasn't going to let the day pass without something neat.  Per his request, I made chicken spaghetti and peach cobbler.  Ben's sweet family visited a couple of weeks ago from Georgia and brought us sliced peaches and they were delicious but I knew we wouldn't be able to finish them off before they went bad so I made my first ever cobbler.  It wasn't a perfect success, but it was edible.  The crust didn't rise like it was supposed to, I'm guessing I used all-purpose flour instead of self-rising. WHOOPS. The peach part was still so so yummy, especially topped with vanilla ice cream. 

Last week, we discovered the local dog park. Can I get a HALLELUJAH?? When we lived in Hattiesburg, we had a big fenced in backyard that was accessible by the pups through a doggie door.  They LOVED it.  We LOVED it.  Since the move, we have struggled to get the dogs adequate exercise.  If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting our dogs, you would understand :)  They were getting 3 to 4 fifteen minute walks each a day but it just wasn't cutting it.  After a night of minimal sleep due to restless dogs, I started googling local dog parks.  I found one that had just recently opened a few miles from our apartment.  It is huge and completely shaded.  There is also a creek that runs beside it that the dogs can go wade when it gets too hot.  We spent 3 nights out there last week and they dogs were in doggie heaven, hah.  We were in doggie heaven too those nights thanks to the uninterrupted sleep we experienced. On another sort of braggy note, we have always thought our dogs, especially Layla were not well-behaved and not trained well enough.  But after being at the dog park and seeing so many more dogs and their actions, we have come to the conclusion that Layla is very well-behaved and trained.  She runs and plays with other dogs but never acts inappropriately and she is always the dog fetching the ball.  With that being said, the  next time you come for a visit, just remember that Layla is well-behaved, shes just super excited you're there to see her :)

This past weekend, we traveled to probably our favorite place:  Oxford.  We were there for a wedding of some friends of friends that we have become close with after sharing season tickets.  The wedding took place at Castle Hill Resort (formerly Colonel's Quarters).  It was a gorgeous setting on the front lawn of the mansion.  At 6:30 on a Mississippi evening, it was miserably HOT.  There aren't enough adjectives to describe the heat we all felt.  However, the heat didn't stop anyone from having a good ole time.  The reception was a blast.  The band was great and didn't stop playing until after midnight and those of us on the dance floor never missed a beat.  The food was delicious, especially the lobster macaroni and cheese.  Thanks for sharing your special day with us Stephen & Denise. We had a wonderful time.

Finally, I wanted to share the only recipe of the only meal I cooked last week during our crazy/busy week.  It's super easy & delicious for those busy nights.

Sante Fe Chicken & Rice
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic gloves minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup white rice
1 1/2 cup salsa
1 can chicken stock
4-6 chicken tenders
1 cup shredded cheese ( I like colby jack)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
salt & pepper
1 tomato, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. In a 13x9 baking dish, add melted butter, olive oil, onion, garlic and rice. Stir together and spread to cover bottom of dish.  Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until rice is lightly browned.  Next, stir in salsa with rice mixture and spread evenly in baking dish.  Lay chicken tenders over rice.  Sprinkle chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper over chicken.  Pour chicken stock over entire dish.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-50 minutes until chicken is cooked and rice has absorbed all of the chicken stock.  Remove foil and top with shredded cheese.  Return to oven just long enough to melt cheese.  Top with chopped tomatoes.  It is yummy with a little dollop of daisy, hah.

A sad and happy post soon to come!