Swirly Goodness

Our day started at the crack of dawn with a Mommy/PCP date including breakfast at Waffle House followed by Kindergarten registration at the very same school Honey attended back in the day.  (This whole sending my baby off to school in August is becoming more and more real by the week.)
After relieving Uncle C from his Cookie-sitting duties, we watched cutie two year old C from down the street so his mama could get her teeth cleaned in peace, lunched, played, drank Paris tea and visited with sister and Bird, watched Tarzan (again) and ate (more) popcorn, prepared supper, and, finally, jetted off to the PCP's swimming lessons.  All before four o'clock.  Exhausting, no?

Yet, in an effort to avoid spending another millisecond cooped up in the house (seriously, how many days in a row now HAS it rained?!?!) and because I often dole out "treats" that are really things I want to do myself, sister and I loaded the littles up after swimming and headed straight to Pinkberry for a well deserved and divinely delish cup of freshly frozen yogurt.  And it hit absolutely the spot.

Sister and I both indulged in the seasonal, bold and tangy pomegranate yogurt topped with fresh raspberries and delectable brownie bites.  And the littles dished on a smattering of chocolate, mango and original (on purpose so that I could sample them all.)  Swoon.
So not only does Pinkberry provision the lightest, most irrestible frozen yogurt, but the decor of this delightful little yogurteria is so fresh and fun that it makes you feel chic just by walking through the door.
Now that Honey is home and the littles have been fed, bathed and tucked into their beds, I am determined to unpack some of the remaining boxes that are still sitting in spot they landed when we moved nearly two years ago.  Gasp!  (I've been putting off the tremendous pile of ironing in my guest room for so long now that I've evidently run out of other suitable wastes of time.)  Perhaps I'll unearth some long forgotten treasure before heading to a dreamland that will certainly be filled with more swirly goodness.



Strange Happenings

I've long been a subscriber to the theory that bad things come in threes, and I'm now convinced that strange happenings must follow the same eerie edict after three occurrences in three weeks...

Malicious Mail
So I'm bee-bopping along as I do on most days, happily chatting away to bestie N on the phone while haphazardly perusing the mail, when I come to an incredibly boring white envelope with my name and addy typed on the front, metered postage and no return info.  Figuring it was yet another insurance solicitation or random "why you should list your house with me" reason #743 from my old realtor (who was quite fab), I thoughtlessly tore into it.  Upon checking the contents, I am so seized with fear that I nearly drop the phone. Inside of this inconspicuously suspicious envelope is a zip lock baggie of HAIR.  I. Kid. You. Not.  While double checking the doors are all locked and setting my house alarm to instant, I frantically explain what just went down to bestie N and we conclude that someone is stalking me in an awfully eerie and terribly mean manner. We hurriedly say our goodbyes and I run upstairs to check on the littles on this rare afternoon when they are both peacefully slumbering.  I ring Honey to tell him the distressing news, but don't get him via any of his one zillion means of contact (why is that always the case when I direly do need him?).  So as I'm pondering which emergency number one should call in this predicament (911?  Poison Control in case it's laced with anthrax? The neighborhood station?) and turning over the baggie of hair, blonde, kind of crimpy, very looooong hair, I decide that sister will know what to do.  As I am explaining the situation at hand, she cuts me off and just starts gushing apologies.  Apparently Piper (my one and only niece, albeit of the canine variety) lost some of her very fine tail-feather fur (as we affectionately refer to it), and sister just knew I'd want to see it.  Flash forward a week or two and she is pre-cleaning for the housekeeper when she comes across the clump 'o hair and asks her husband to mail it to me since she isn't sure when she'll next see me in person.  Well, my sister's mister promptly bagged the hair and handed it over to his secretary to mail.  Being the uber professional and efficient lady that she is, she smartly typed my address, ran it through the meter and sent it on it's merry way to me. Of course, sister had no idea that her mister would send it off without a note and in such a creepy manner, and to compound the matter, it slipped her mind to give me a heads up on the puppy parcel.  Y'all sure know how to scare the wits out of a poor unsuspecting gal.

Big Baby
I'm scooting in from running errands with the littles just about a week after the malicious mail incident.  As I screech around the corner into my drive I literally slam on the breaks.  Stuff is flying all over my car.  A scary, naked, big baby-esque (re: Toy Story 3) doll is perched smack dab on top of my box.  Now, I loved dolls back in the day, but I must admit I find the wide eyed, life like version a little creepy in my older age. (Note to self: Must get rid of the box of Cabbage Patch my parents delivered on their last visit.)  And this one not only appeared to be staring right through me, but was ominously reaching for me.  UGH.  So I once again race into the house, triple lock the door and set the alarm to instant.  Now Honey, who wasn't the recipient of scary hair mail the week prior, thought I was overreacting a bit and insisted that some poor little girl likely lost dolly on a neighborhood walk and some kind Samaritan then placed found dolly on our box to get her out of the street.  Okay, okay, I can buy that.  But I still insisted that he march big baby across the street to the other corner's fire hydrant.  Later that night, Reese's doppleganger A picks me up for dinner and drinks and, after happening to catch big baby's eye on the way around the corner, I put the whole incident out of my mind.  Whew!  So the next morning I jet out with the littles, back out of the end of my drive and can hardly believe my eyes.  That darned scary big baby is BACK.  Back on top of my box.  Staring right through me and ominously reaching for me.  At this point I've had it.  I throw the Jeep in drive while leaving Honey a message at work to not even come in the house until big baby has been safely deposited into the outside trash can.  He obligingly tossed the doll and I'm happy to report that it never returned.  Once again, I put the incident out of my mind.  Well, come to find out, Reese's doppleganger A stealthily retrieved big baby from the fire hydrant after I told her my tale and put it back on my box to creep me out.  Mission accomplished. 

Creepy Children
The night of our return trip from Savannah, I'm sitting in bed with Honey recounting tales from our trip and excitedly showing off my new purches when I decide he simply cannot go to bed until he sees the pic of my new foo lamp (that sister was bringing home for me.)  As I'm swiping through the pics on my iPhone, I am suddenly just stunned and speechless.  There are pictures of three children that I do not know and have never seen in my life.  According to the time stamp on the pictures, they were taken at 8:30p.m. on a Tuesday night.  A time when I was home with my parents and John and Cookie would have been sleeping.  I'm just stumped as to who these kids are and how their pictures got on my iPhone camera roll.  And while the two aforementioned strange happenings were eventually sorted out, this one still has me perplexed. 
Strange, huh?  And, to sister and Reese's doppleganger A, you know what they say about pay back. :-)


Easter Decor

Spring is here!  Honey sweetly pulled my Easter bins out of the attic last night and I hopped to work to surprise the littles with Easter sweets and treats when they awoke this morning.

Nothing says Easter to me like gorgeous white flowers in a spring basket and crisp white ribbons festooning our entry way dogs.
A sweet green moss covered bunny was a quick addition to our foyer table.
An Easter runner, bunny chair backs and themed tree make a delightful vignette in the den.
Apothecary jars filled with Easter candies and chocolate bunnies are going to be hard to keep out of the reach of long little arms for the next month.
And incorporating my beloved bunny weather vane on the dining room table rounds out the festive collection.
Hoppy Easter, y'all!


Sunday Supper

We spent our cold and rainy Sunday night enjoying pizza and a movie.  I've made this Pampered Chef version at least four times over the last two months.  It's chocked full of fresh veggies, yet so delish that the littles barely bat an eye.  And by the way, I really can't say enough good things about Pampered Chef... their recipes are all quite good and can be prepared in a snap, and their products are top notch and fun to use.  What more could a gal ask for?

Three Cheese Garden Pizza
1 package refrigerated pizza crust (I used Pillsbury)
1 small onion, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly spray pan.  Roll dough out to cover pan.  Brush with vegetable oil and spread minced garlic.  Bake crust 7 minutes.  Remove from oven.

2. Sprinkle half of each cheese evenly over crust.  Top with onion, zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes (in that order.) Sprinkle rest of cheese and Italian seasoning on top. Bake 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
After the plates were cleared and dishwasher was loaded, we snuggled on the sofa to watch Tarzan and snack on popcorn.  A relaxing end to a rainy day.

Last but not least, I had to share this sweet pic of Cookie and one of his (four) precious little girl friends Lulu.  On this third dreary day in a row, we were happy to have a house full of visiting littles to help run off some energy.  I only managed to snap this one pic because I was *trying* my best to enjoy some girly gossip and Paris tea with besties N and C.

PS. This was my edited version of the recipe.  For the real deal, look here.  And, if you're looking to host a party in the Atlanta area, I have a pretty fab friend in the biz.


Strawberry Margarita

I love that scrumptious sugar rimmed libation as much as the next gal, but for once I'm not here to dish on a cocktail.  Rather, my go-to perfectly pinkalicous shade of nail polish - meet OPI's Strawberry Margarita.
I have tried countless shades of pink polish over the years, and this one has been the front runner since she debuted in 2006.  Being the uber frugal type (Can you just see Honmey rolling his eyes right now?), I usually only go pedicuring from Easter-ish to October-ish.  But I couldn't possibly make it to April-end with embarrassingly neglected digits now could I?



Always Blessing Somebody's Heart

In the South, we're always blessing somebody's heart...

Bless your heart, bestie C.  I can hardly believe that your sweet little pup is diabetic and nearly requires more attention than a human.  Yet, somehow you not only keep a gorgeous house and great meals on the table but you work part time and have two precious littles to boot.  I don't know how you do it all.

Bless your heart, nice grandpa I met in Publix yesterday.  The stage three turkey and rice baby food would have gone over like a lead balloon with your three year old grandson.  I'm glad I was able to steer you to the tried and true, toddler approved Lunchable option.  The hug was nice but totally unnecessary.

Bless your heart, PCP.  When you got nailed in the shoulder by an errant baseball at your game this afternoon, I was the only one crying.  You put on your five-year-old game face, grit your teeth and proudly went on to score a run.  That game ball was hard earned and well deserved.

Bless your heart, Ward the Fish.  Somehow you just keep swimming and swimming in spite of the torturous acts that Cookie doses out on a daily basis.  Yesterday it was chap stick in your tank and last week it was a generous amount of hair spray right in the water.  Every day in between is knocking, waving and chubby hands dropping in various amounts of food or household items.  Your laid back manner is much appreciated.

Bless your heart, new friend A.  Not only is your husband away on a business trip for four weeks with no breaks to return home, but your in-laws have moved in for an undetermined period of time.  And you haven't complained even one teensy tiny time.



JCT Kitchen

The night before last, I had the extreme pleasure of wrapping up my month long birthday celebration with besties C, S and F at the Westside's always splendid, laden with Southern style JCT Kitchen.  From cocktails, bar bites and live music on the rooftop bar overlooking trains below and Atlanta's ever changing sky line above, to sit down farmstead suppers in the chic earthjeweled dining room below, JCT Kitchen is without a doubt my go-to joint.
So while everything that's crossed my lips in those four walls has been simply divine, my laundry list of favorites time and again includes the shrimp and grits, JCT salad over Chef Ford Fry's perfectly fried chicken (this isn't on the menu, you must request), deviled eggs with Benton's country ham, Cracker Jack salad, truffle Parmesan fries and grown up grilled cheese with a side of tomato soup.  This particular night I dined on the slow cooked bacon sliders with Thomasville bleu and tomato jam, and I assure you that it was love at first bite.  Top that off with Meyer lemon doughnuts with espresso ice cream and banana brown butter almond cake with peanut butter ice cream and chocolate toffee and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't comment on the decor of the space.  Styled by Smith Hanes Design, JCT is truly the junction of sensational food and swanky design.  I would be as happy as a clam moving right on in.  I adore the board and batten walls, swoon for the banquettes and drool over the drum shades.  All of which you will see in my soon to be completed basement gussy-up.
Speaking of the Fry-Hanes partnership, I await the opening of their newest collaboration, no. 246, with bated breath.  This Italian-inspired, locally driven eatery, scheduled to open in May, is rumored to have a divine menu, shuffleboard, live music and a four-top chef's table in the plans.  And I'm sure the decor will be a feast for the eyes in another way all together.

So that's my restaurant reco for the week.  I hope y'all love it as much as I do.


On My Bedside

Sorority big sis H gifted me the sweet book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, as part of my birthday present and I have loved starting my day with a few minutes of simple words of reassurance, comfort and hope.
I'm jetting off to start a busy, busy day.


With Love from Moi

Dear Honey,
Let me start by saying that I really do super appreciate your willingness to lend a helping hand around here.  I realize that I was out of town for almost a whole week (with the littles) and that I left you to fend for yourself in this evilly challenging and increasingly more electronic domestic world.  I furthermore realize that I put you in a severe bind when your clothes failed to magically appear clean and folded in your drawers while I was away and you had to revert back to the "pre-me" days of re-wearing your undies a second time inside out.  So when I came home and was washing the mounds of laundry that you three boys impressively accumulate day in and day out, I love that you jumped up, without grunts, groans or complaints to help when I asked if you could "throw in the next load."  When you didn't come back and I went to check on you, I must admit that my jaw literally dropped to the floor when I found you had piled up all of the dirties into the DRYER and were frantically searching for the compartment to which you needed to add the detergent.  You have had me fooled for nearly nine years.  All this time I THOUGHT you COULD do laundry and assumed you just didn't want to.  Now I know that you really never knew how.  And that, my darling, is quite, um,  remarkable (for lack of a better word.)  I hope you don't have any other dirty secrets hiding in the proverbial closet (don't you love that pun?!).
With love from your doting wife

Dear PCP,
When (after playing outside with y'all for five straight hours) I said I wanted to revel in just a few minutes of quiet time by checking and reading the mail INSIDE on the sofa while Cookie napped, I really, really wanted needed to do that.  But you didn't listen when I said "NO" and you followed me out to the mailbox.  And not only did you follow me to the mailbox, but you locked us outside.  With your brother inside.  And the aforementioned laundry in the dryer (that I could nearly see bursting into flames.)  On purpose, because you didn't want to have to go back inside.  So I frantically called your daddy on both his cell and work phones, time and again.  Like ten times and again.  Until he excused himself from the important meeting that he was in to see what the fuss was all about.  And then he literally ran to his car and sped home to save us.  All the while I am in a PANIC.  The pacing the deck, looking through the windows, praying the dryer doesn't start a fire, hoping the baby sleeps until daddy makes the thirty minute drive home, not able to think clearly kind of panic.  So, not only did I not get to read the mail or sit on the sofa for a spell, but I undoubtedly shaved a few years off my life due to the sheer stress of the situation.  From now on, NO means NO.  (And I really mean it this time.)
With love from your aged-five-years-due-to-panic mommy

PS. I was so out of my mind that I failed to remember that our brand spanking new garage door also came with a key pad.  I could hardly believe my luck when sister just happened to call me twenty minutes into the full fledged PANIC and perplexedly asked why I hadn't just used that.  Oh. Em. Ge.  My name is Amanda and I am a total and complete FLAKE.

Dear Cookie,
It is my hearts desire that you, and your brother alike, are satisfied with your lives.  Not just happy, because that is elusive and unsustainable and often depends on things outside of our control, but satisfied.  So as you grow and make your way in the world, I assure you that I will do my very best to keep an open mind and understanding heart as you make the decisions and pursue the forks in the road that will shape you into the adult you will inevitably one day become.  That being said, I need to go ahead and rule out the profession of "contortionist" that you seem to be so promisingly gearing up for.  I am not sure how you wiggled your chunky thighs, thick tummy and long arms out of the throws of the five point harness on the best-carseat-money-can-buy while I sped down the fast lane on I-75 but it was definitely NOT COOL.  Not cool at all when your blond locks and baby blues proudly popped into the front seat.  Or when I frantically had to swerve across four lanes of traffic to take the next random exit (thank the Lord we were in a decent part of town) to put you back in your proper place.  I must admit that it was a remarkable David Copperfield-esque feat, but it was certainly not one I'd like to see again.  Ever.  How about let's pursue something nice, needed, practical, safe and super close to home (read: engineering.)
With love from your not only aged-five-years-due-to-panic but also certainly-now-has-gray-hairs mommy


Team Mom

It's that time of year, folks.  The weather turns nice, the birds start chirping and my little family can't help but have a spring in our step as we head out to the ball fields for practices and games on what seems like more days than not.  Honey was a pretty fine (yes, in multiple senses of the word) baseball player back in the day (he did play in college after all), and while he has spent the last two seasons on the field coaching four, five and six year olds, I have sat in the bleachers, content with being nothing more than a proud mama.  YEAH RIGHT! In between chasing Cookie out of the dug out, off the field and out from under the bleachers, I offered him an endless supply of snacks, juice and lollis in an effort to bribe him to sit still so that I could soak up every single second of the PCP on the field, while observing the goings and doings of the team mom in an attempt to learn the ropes.  WHEW!  Coming into our third season, I finally felt educated enough to throw my name in the team mom hat, and was beyond excited when Honey let me know that not only did I score the job, but I get to share the honor with new friend M!!!

So while M has handled the bulk of our responsibilities to date (read: everything), I just completed my first task - name tags for the dug out.  We clip these laminated cuties on the fence over the bench so that all the littles know exactly where to sit to stay in the the designated batting order.
As soon as hands are shaken and "good games" are exchanged, the littles tear off the field for hot dogs and drinks, leaving us to get the right bats, helmets, gloves and other extraneous accessories into the right bags before the next team floods the dug out.  And, since all of the bags look alike, and none of the bags seem to have a legible name, I made each player a bag tag to help alleviate some of the confusion.
It's shaping up to be a mighty fine season!  And since this is a rare night off from baseball, we're headed to Chuck E. Cheese.  You know, where a kid can be a kid.  What kind of mom would I be if I said no to that?!?!


Party Poms

Just as soon as I decided to top my birthday cupcakes with fun and festive party poms, I promptly hopped on over to see what Martha had to say on the subject.  And as expected I found step-by-step instructions that I easily adapted to make perfectly portioned little party puffs. 
Tissue paper
Floral wire

1. Stack six sheets of tissue.  Cut a 9 by 3 inch rectangle, going through all layers.  Make 1/2-inch-wide accordion folds.
2.  Fold a piece of floral wire in half, slip over center of tissue, and twist to secure.  Trim ends of tissue.  I did mine in points, but you could also do half circles for a different look.
3.  Separate layers, pulling away from center one at a time.  You'll quickly learn how much tug you put on the tissue before it tears :-)  But the tears hide easily once all the layers are separated.
4.  Place a generous dab of hot glue on the bottom of the separated pom.  Press a lollipop stick (found at Michael's) carefully into the glue until dried.

So go on and add a little poof to your next pah-tay.

And now that my shin dig is over, I've just used my monogram to make note cards to thank all of my gals for the amazing birthday gifts.  It was all just TOO much!!!
Last but not least, y'all must check this out... Number Four Eleven featured my party on their blog this past weekend.  Shut. The. Front. Door.  I'm giddy with excitement!

Ooooh, I absolutely lied about the whole "last but not least" thing.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my fabulous dinner at Spoon last night. I had the extreme pleasure of dining with three incredibly chic, so-Southern gals including not only my new b(log)ff Callie from calliespondence, but with Lindsay and Catherine, the co-creators of Buncolator (download it here.)  Can't wait to do it again super soon.



Irish Eats

Since we spent the week before St. Patrick's Day down South, we had to squeeze all of the requisite Irish eats into the last few days. 

It has become our routine to gather up a big group of friends for holiday dinners at the club.  So our lively (with six children and seven adults) crew met up for a festive meal of green beers and bangers and mash.  Please note our calm "before" a two-and-a-half hour meal photo versus our crazy "after" a two-and-a-half hour meal photo where shoes are missing, shirts are untucked and remnants of dessert are scattered about the clothing.  A festive meal indeed.
The next morning, I surprised the littles with a Leprechaun Breakfast complete with green milk (recognize my sweet milk glasses from Tybee?), scrambled eggs, shamrock banana slices and toast, and green grits.  They were absolutely fascinated with the green food.  John bought the story hook, line and sinker when I told him I saw a leprechaun leaping through the window as I came into the kitchen that morning.  And neither left a bite on the plates for fear that our friendly leprechaun would find some other little boy's window to leap through next March.
And lastly, we rounded out our Irish Eats with Beef and Guinness Stew, Brown Soda Bread, Black and Tan Brownies, Green Sprites and a couple of pints of Guinness.  The meal was outstanding from the rooter to the tooter.  And as I am writing this, I realized I forgot to top the stew with parsley. Darnit! 
I'm packing up everything green and getting ready for SPRING!

PS. To make the shamrocks on the brownies, I covered the entire top opening of a mini shamrock cookie cutter (from my Pampered Chef's Creative Cutter set that I adore) with scotch tape.  I then lightly pressed the cookie cutter into the top of the brownie and dusted with powdered sugar, careful that the sugar got all around the outside edge of the cookie cutter.  Remove the shamrock cookie cutter and you're left with a shamrock shadow!
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