Friday, July 31, 2009

The Thorn in My Side and the Macon

Yes, there is a beach in Macon. :D
It is at Lake Tobesofkee. This past Saturday, our family had a picnic there.
Here are some pictures. The kids had a blast!

Caleb is building his sand castle.

Papa and Nana playing with the kids.

Caleb is such an adorable and sweet little fella. He has my heart!

That evening, we were invited to Aunt Andrea & Uncle Nirav's for some delicious Indian food. Nirav spent all day cooking. It was all FANTASTIC!!!

The appetizers
Allyson ate mac-n-cheese and watched Noggin while we ate. Soon Baby Abigail will join her at the little table. :D

Allyson had to say good-bye to her friend, Rachel. Rachel and her family have had to move to DC. We will miss the Brittons!

So, what is the "Thorn in my Side"?
Well, it has been my pantry! It has been extremely cluttered and just a terrific mess for, oh, the past four years, I guess!!!
Today, I just got in there and GOT IT DONE!!
I started with the shelves on the door. I made labels for each shelf. I used to think labels were just crazy. I mean, can't you just remember where everything goes? Well, Mike and I seem to think that the same things just go in different places. So, stuff was everywhere. Just a big jumble. The labels should help. Everything now has an assigned place!

Inside, there is now a place for breakfast items, canned goods, pasta, and rice, etc.

When I finished, I just couldn't stop staring and admiring my work.
In a way, I wish I had taken "before" shots. But, my family might find that slightly humiliating! :D

Unfortunately, I still have some other "thorns". Namely, Allyson's closet. Right now, the door won't shut!

Congrats to my cousin, Amy Driehorst!

My cousin in Michigan, Amy, just won a $30,000 kitchen makeover! You can read about her story here.

Congratulations to you and your family, Amy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Our Busy Summer Continues...

There's a "Big Girl" at our house now. She's not a baby anymore.

The crib has been converted into a toddler bed.

It took a while to get used to it. We had several nights when tempers were flaring.

But, now, she loves it! She eagerly goes to her bed for naps each day and to sleep each night. It's been great! Such a blessing!


Last Wednesday, we had a play date at Lane's Packing Company.

I had never been. But, I plan to go again one day! We had a fabulous lunch, played on the playground, and took our own tour around the plant.

Here are some playground pictures...
Farmer Ralston...I wonder if he'll be my neighbor and send me some gifts. Hmmmm...:D

Riley picked a flower and then tried to plant it again. He is very inquisitive. Oh, and he loves playing in dirt! Such a sweetie!

I love this one!

On the merry-go-'round

Allyson tried to give it a push. I pushed them for a while, but it was very hot and I started pouring sweat. I really hate sweating. Yuck!

Who is that hottie pushing those kids on the swings?
It is one of my BFFs, Savvy Sarah! I love her hair that way!

I got to feed Baby Abigail.

Tour of the plant. This worker posed for me. LOL!

Here's the cutest watermelon in the patch!

This came out cute. It occured to me later that her shirt was very appropriate. LOL!

Yes, earlier in the day she had cute pigtails. One of the elastics broke. When I tried to pull all of hair into a ponytail, the other elastic broke. :( So I had to resort to one of my clips that I found in my car. Had to do something. It was soooooo hot!

Speaks for itself...

Our summer playdates have been so much fun! I'm sad we only have one more to go. :(


Now, I have to share about our dinner last night. We had a very tasty dish that I have been told that I have to make again.
I can't take full credit for this recipe. I got the idea from Renee Galloway at church.
Now, we are Hamburger Helper fans, but we only like the Cheeseburger Mac. But, after making this dish last night, I will never make Hamburger Helper again. It's just as easy and much tastier!

Beef-a-roni/Cheeseburger Mac

1 lb. lean hamburger meat

1 box deluxe macaroni & cheese

1 packet taco seasoning (I used El Paso Low Sodium)

Brown hamburger meat. Meanwhile, cook macaroni in a large pot as directed on box. When hamburger meat is done, add taco seasoning and simmer as directed on package. Drain macaroni. Add cheese sauce. Stir. After allowing meat to simmer as directed, add to macaroni and cheese mixture. Stir until well-blended. Serve.

Allyson, my picky-eater, even enjoyed this! I didn't take a picture, because my husband always gives me looks and has smart things to say when I take pictures of food. :(

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Best Vacation EVER!!

We have had our share of vacations in our lifetimes so far. But, Mike and I agree that the cruise we just took ranks as the best vacation EVER!!

I have lots of pics and things to say. So, I decided to let my cruise review tell you the whole story and plug in pics here and there. It may sound a bit impersonal, but it tells the story pretty well. :D

The day we boarded, June 6, it was rainy in Jacksonville.

First day at sea:

Elegant Night-2nd night of cruise

The wait staff in the dining room sang and danced for us each night.


We had a delightful family cruise aboard the Carnival Fascination. We are a couple in our thirties with a child nearly three-years-old. We took the five-day cruise which stopped at Key West and Nassau.

When we decided to cruise, we first considered Disney Cruise lines. We were turned off by the price and decided our child wouldn't realize what she would be missing. After some research, I learned that Carnival had the second best programs for young children next to Disney. After looking at prices, we learned that we could book a cruise from Jacksonville (saving driving time and gas money since we are GA residents) and even have an extra night for still about half the price of a Disney cruise. So, it was a no-brainer!

We stayed at Best Western near the airport. We were very happy with this choice. We reserved our room about three weeks in advance and chose the Park and Cruise option. We were able to leave our car at the hotel and get a shuttle ride to the port. This was very convenient. We were able to choose the time we would be ready to leave the hotel. The breakfast served at Best Western offered many choices and we were pleased. On the day of debarkation, we were given a shuttle ride back and were allowed to have breakfast again. Also, the hotel is near a nice shopping area with many choices for shopping and dining.

In Key West we did not book an excursion. We had spent time in Key West in the past, so we already had ideas about what we wanted to do. We went straight to Duval Street to stroll, people-watch, shop, and have lunch. We ate at Caroline's. They have an excellent shrimp po'boy. The ranch dressing is also excellent-very fresh. My husband had the Cuban mix. He was pleased with it as well. After lunch we decided to take a pedi-cab (bicycle cab). This was due to the intense heat and our child complaining about her shoes hurting. This was a great choice! Our tour took us the rest of the way down Duval and then by landmarks such as the lighthouse and the Hemingway House. We saw several stray chickens which made our little girl squeal with delight. We couldn't get back on the ship without getting a slice of Key Lime Pie dipped in chocolate on a stick. A must when visiting Key West!!! You can find these at any convenience store or other local shop offering ice cream.

Outside an art museum in KW. Allyson wanted her picture taken with the "really big Mommy and Daddy."

Enjoying Key Lime pie on a stick.

In Nassau, we did have an excursion. We booked the Blackbeard’s Beach Break. This involved a 30-minute boat ride to the private island. The island was very nice. The beach was beautiful white sand and the water was very clear. The only people on the beach were fellow cruisers. We had lounge chairs right in front of the water. I thought that I had read that we would get a complimentary drink. That’s not true unless you have an armband. In that case, you get a lunch and a drink. You had to get the stingray package for the armband. I spoke with a few people that purchased the stingray package and they were very pleased. Just note that if you book this excursion, you will need some cash for drinks. A cooler wouldn’t be a bad idea, though.

The port at Nassau

Pictures from Blackbeard's Beach in Nassau

We were pleased with our stateroom. We were on the main level. There was a pull-out bed for our child. We told her it was a “Pirate Bed” to get her interested in it. Our steward was mostly thorough. He met my expectations. We were glad that we paid the extra money for the window.

For dinner, we were assigned the Sensation dining room at the main seating time. Our tablemates had children, so we fit in with them just fine. However, on two occasions our child ate with her friends in the Camp Carnival program. This was great, because at 2 ½, it’s difficult to sit still at a fancy dinner.
I was most impressed with the lobster dinner and the vegetarian Indian dinner. However, everything I tried was very delicious.

The best thing I ever tasted was the chocolate melting cake. I had that as my dessert each night. You might want to request extra ice cream with it.

Allyson made a friend at dinner. Such a cutie! His family was from Ohio.

We had breakfast and lunch each day at Coconut Grove Grill. The only complaint I have is that it was so crowded. Each time we went, there was a long line and it was difficult to walk around to get drinks or find a table because of all the people. The food was great, though. My husband really enjoyed the deli.

Camp Carnival was amazing. Our child had a blast with all the fun-filled programs. She had her face painted three times. That seemed to be her favorite activity. Camp Carnival is in a great location for dropping off and picking up. The only thing that would make the program better would be to allow for drop-in all day. There were times that they were closed for lunch or to prepare for dinner. I understand that the workers need breaks, but they could alternate breaks to allow for more convenience for the parents.

Wiped out from a day at camp.

She got tattoos, too. :)

The entertainment was impressive. We really enjoyed the “Hey, Mambo” and the “Far From Over” 80’s show. The juggler was very talented and hilarious.

Waiting for a show. Photography during the show was not allowed.

Overall, it was the best vacation we had ever taken. We hated leaving. We wished the cruise had been for seven days.

Each night with our turn-down service, we found a "new friend" on our bed.

Towel Pals-

Pirate face and seal


Since we've been home...

The day we got home, we realized that our fridge had stopped working. All of our food was ruined and had to be thrown out. It was a 19 year-old fridge. It was beige and not attractive at all.

We went to Lowe's and Ta-Da! Here's our new fridge! Complete with water and ice in the door! Yay!

And, on the 17th, our dog, Pig died. Michael has had Pig since 2003, so we're all pretty sad about losing our family friend.

Mike found him in the usual place in our shop where he often would nap. We'll really miss Pig.

And, last night, someone stole our XM radio right out of our car in our car port. We're pretty singed about that. A sheriff's deputy was just here to take a report.

Hopefully, if it is true that bad things happen in threes, we're done. I hope that's the case!

Thanks, friends, for taking the time to read and comment on this super-long post!