Friday, February 27, 2009

Vinyl Wall Art

I was having a hard time finding artwork that would go in my master bedroom.  I didn't want something that you see everywhere, I didn't want it to be too "matchy matchy", but I wanted it to look good with our bedspread.   I actually found this product while shopping around for baby nursery ideas, but then I thought of another way to use these vinyl decals that solved my problem.  You can easily find a huge variety of "vinyl wall slicks" or "vinyl wall art" online.

What you will need:
~ vinyl wall art or vinyl wall slicks
~ a pre-made frame
~ foam board or matte board to fit your frame

All you have to do is follow the directions on your vinyl wall art kit, except instead of putting it on the wall, put it on the foam or matte board. This is very tedious if you get a complex design, but very worth it in the end. Be sure to measure accurately, you only get one chance with this stuff. You'll have plenty of vinyl pieces to work with, but you don't want to have to buy more board (you know the old adage... measure twice, cut once)

Then put everything together in your frame and voila! There you have it. Great looking, custom artwork, for a not-so-custom price.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Southern Mama's Biography

Hmmm... A bit about me. Well let's see, there's a lot to tell, so where to begin? I live in a small town outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Charlotte is where I was born and lived until I was in the 5th grade. In 5th grade we moved to Louisiana where my older sister, whom I am close to, still lives and is raising her family. So it's a bit confusing because now I'm back home, but I consider Louisiana my home too.
I am a graduate of LSU... Geaux Tigers!!! And I teach elementary grades now. I teach the gifted program at my school, so I teach all grade levels.

My parents were married for 37 years before my mother passed away from leukemia. My father passed away a little over a year later of a broken heart. He loved her so much and he just couldn't live without her. Theirs is an amazing love story.

My love-story-in-the-making is just as amazing.  My husband, Colin, is my best friend, soulmate,  and biggest supporter.  He has picked me up through some very tough times and a lot of loss, but most importantly he has given me the most precious times of my life.  He has shown me how to look at the bright side as much as possible, how to laugh at myself, and most of all, unconditional love.
We have two beautiful children together, Drew (19 months) and Emma Jane (8 weeks today), who are the center of our world..  We are excited about how close in age they are and we hope they will be best friends (at least most of the time anyways).

Our home is a happy, loud, loving place where we have lots of fun, regard the values of our past and, build new traditions for our future.  Where we savor slow conversation over sweet tea and good home cookin'.  Our home is a place where we live, laugh, and love.... a lot.

Some of my random "quarks":
I love to hang out on the couch at night with my hubby
I love to bake, just so I can lick the icing (or batter, or whatever I can get my hands on)
I can't sleep with socks on, therefore they end up on the floor at the foot of my bed at night in the winter
When I drive on the interstate and I change lanes, I am neurotic about not running over the reflectors 
I love word games (but since I've had 2 babies I've gotten much worse... hmm... not really sure what happened there)
I have become a girl who fits no molds, I'm not afraid to be myself, even though it is far from perfect...

I Just Want to Dedicate This Song, Mr. DJ

Remember the days of "dedicating" songs on the radio? You'd call in and hope to get through (well, I actually never did, I was way too shy for that so this is all from memory of what friends would do), then, if you actually got to talk to the DJ, you knew you were gold. You'd dedicate the perfect song to the boy that you were "going with." And you would listen to the radio on Friday nights to see if any of your friends made it through. That's just what we did back's just the way things were.
Well, I miss those days.... so I'm would like to dedicate this song to the boy I am "going with" Mr. DJ..... my husband, Colin. I sure hope he's listening!
If you would like to hear the song, I've posted it on my sidebar.

I drink you up
For every drop of you is sacred
Every drop I drink you up

You fill my cup
The way you laugh
Eyes of a child
Lean on me, you fill me up
You make me love
So unconditionally generous
To me you give me love
And break my heart
Slip, you fall, I pick you up and dust you off
You break my heart

Rain, rain, rain down on me
Again and again
Rain down on me

Take all you want
For what is mine is yours
No better use is there for what I've got
Take all you want
And only hope can I, you won't deny
Your love for me, my love

No, don't cry, if it's too high
I lift you up, we'll make it, make it
When I was oh so tired
You come along to wake me, wake me
Time and time, again and again
With a smile you save me child
Oh, oh, oh...

Rain, rain, rain down on me
Again and again
Rain down on me

Look, we play our cards
And I question by the grace of what
We play our cards at all
Come fill me up
Oh, fill me love when I'm empty
when I'm all dried up

No, dont cry, if it's too high
I lift you up, we'll make it, make it
Oh, I was so so tired
You come along to wake me, wake me
Time and time, again and again
With a smile you save me child
Oh, oh, oh...

Rain, rain, rain down on me
Again and again
Rain down on me

Rain, rain, rain down on me...

File' Gumbo

It's not just "a stew originating from Louisiana." It's a staple of the Louisiana kitchen, it's a way of distinguishing the Creole and New Orleans culture. It's a social event. It's a way of life. It's what LSU decided to call it's yearbook for crying out loud!
Now, the scariest part about preparing Gumbo happens at the very beginning. The roux! You have to cook the roux to a chocolatey brown color to achieve that rich gumbo flavor, but you can't burn it. Well, of course, that color and flavor that you are looking for happens only a split moment before the roux burns. Karen says that it's like playing "chicken." How far do you take it.... how far will you push your roux to get the richest flavor? Marcelle Beinvennu, the author of the cookbook "Who's Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make A Roux?" says that her father said that you cook a roux for Gumbo as long as it takes you to drink two beers. Well she says that since she doesn't really drink beer but loves music, she cooks it as long as it takes her to listen to two full length albums.
If you can make it past the roux, you are home free. It's time consuming, but the rest of it is relatively easy. You throw in all of your ingredients, let them cook for a few hours, and voila! Enjoy!

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
1 roasting hen (3 to 4 pounds), cut into frying pieces
Salt and Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups of chopped onions
1 cup of chopped green bell peppers
1 cup of chopped celery
10 cups of chicken broth (preferably home made)
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
1 pound of andoullie, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices

Season the hen generously with salt and cayenne.
Combine the oil and flour in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium heat to make a dark roux.
Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery (the trinity as they call it in New Orleans), and cook, stirring, until they are soft, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the chicken broth (warmed). Stir to blend, and bring to a gentle boil.
Add the chicken, bay leaves, and thyme, and cook at a gentle boil for one hour.
Add the andouille and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is very tender, an hour to an hour and a half longer.
Adjust season to taste.

The Roux when it's still friendly

This is the roux after I've put the vegetables in (the "holy trinity" as they call it in Louisiana... celery, onion, and bell pepper)

And finally... the finished product complete with wine

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Trip To The Park With A Friend

There's nothing like a day at the park with friends. Drew and Gracie had a great time at the park the other day. We all packed up our "crews" and headed off to the land of slides and climbing walls. The kids soared through the air on the swings (ok, so that was more Drew than Gracie) and slid their little bums off (and that was more Gracie than Drew...Drew slid his face off....almost literally, but no war worries).
Although it was a bit chilly, the fresh air did us all a little good and we had two tired kids that night.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bath Time

Drew's friend Grace is in town from New Orleans. We've been having a great time playing (more on that later). Last night, they had to take their bath so I thought I would share a few cute moments of their splish-splash fun.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Yet another cold snap.... it has me reminiscing of my real winter experience.  When Colin and I were falling head over heals in love with each other, I moved to Canada for a year.  What an experience!  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  It was a leap of faith that showed my love, it was a way to understand Colin's Canadian background, to experience the world he lived in, it was an experience of living in a different country and making lots of new friends.  Although we've ended up down south, I can completely relate to him and where he comes from because I've experienced it and met the people behind the stories.  We really lived it up that year and packed in so much fun in such and amazing place and such a short time.  
Taking a walk around his parent's land. It was a beautiful day and we trekked for about 2 to 3 hours.

Skating (with my own ice skates... who would have thunk it.... this little southern girl has her very own ice skates) on a pond at the ski resort after a day on the slopes.

At the top of the hill. This was the coldest I've ever experienced. It was -45 at the top that day. The snow was up to our hips... you sure didn't want to step out of your skiis. The next day they closed the hill because it was -61!!!

Colin and I after a wonderful Scandinavian spa treatment. We actually jumped into a river that evening as part of the treatment. Our friend who went with us had to break a layer of ice that had formed on top of the river. Now remember, rivers run... do you know how cold it has to be to freeze running water!?! I guess that makes us kin to the Polar Bear Club.

Skating on the Ottawa Canal, the longest outdoor skating in the world. I had never skated on natural, ungroomed ice before. It certainly has its own challenges. This is what I would do for exercise some days when Colin went to work.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Uptown Girl

After visiting the Discovery Place, we took a stroll uptown. We had a meal and then just walked around for a bit. It was a very quiet day there and the weather was nice (a bit chilly, but not too bad) and so we took advantage of two very cooperative kids. I thought I would share uptown from our perspective.
It's funny how you see the city in a whole different way when you have a camera in your hands. I saw things that I NEVER would have paid attention to before. I mean, barrels....really?

I thought this was a bit humorous. This is a picture of the Bank of America building reflecting in the Wachovia Building. Hmmm.. what should the title of this picture be....

Another neat reflection shot. I don't know why I love doing these so much.

I just really liked this doorway.

I love window shopping

Discovery Place

Today the family went to Discovery Place. We had a blast! Drew absolutely loved it.
First, Drew got to play in the toddler room. That was really neat because there were just tons of things to do and he could just go from one to the other whenever he was ready and in any order he wanted. His favorite was the trains and cars of course. He also really liked the legos. (I foresee Mama hurting her foot on a rogue lego in the future).
Have you ever wanted to play "Plinko" on the Price is Right?

"I'll get you my pretty!" Drew is standing in the middle of a tornado
Oh no!  Daddy and Drew are in charge of the weather now!?!

"I ain't sceered" Drew says to the shark (behind a lot of glass)

"Hey, you come back here....I said I wasn't scared!"

Drewby really enjoyed touring the museum on Daddy's shoulders.... I think Daddy did too.

Drewbers at the tide pool

Daddy and Drew looking at the rainforest

Playing with simple machines

Wow, what strong arms you have. My two men are lifting a 4 wheeler! (with a little help from our good friend, lever... and another little boy too)

And triple pulleys let Drew lift 25 lbs

One exhibit there was about the circus, this is a girl "walking the tightrope"

Daddy and Drew looking into a fun-house mirror. Notice Daddy's big eyes!

Drew and Daddy love to build

Look what they ended up building!!!

Ok... so I lied, it was just this tower

Drew enjoyed throwing the ball into the figure 8

Daddy and Drew going to see the dinosaurs

Drew had no fear of the dinosaurs

So realistic (pay no attention to the cityscape in the background)

Whew! Time to sit and take a breather!