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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What's Up Wednesday {8-31}


WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK...

T-It is back-to-school time, so I have been busy getting things ready for my girls and my K classroom and kids.  This means that I have less time and energy to put into our meals.  My solution to this problem is my slow cooker!  I use it all of the time in the fall and winter!  My family's favorite is Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I will post this recipe later this week.  It is AWESOME!

S- This is always a tough question for me to answer! I am really trying harder to be more prepared!! My kids first week of school was Monday, so I am trying to make our evenings simple as we ease back into the routine. Sounds like a couple of crock pot meals, salads and pasta! We did make homemade pizza the night before school started. Always a hit! I will share with you our recipe soon! We will also be eating oatmeal chocolate chip cookies this week! I am even thinking about sending some to the kids teachers on Friday as a Thank You for a great first week!

Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza with Arugula in Lemon Vinaigrette
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT...  

T-Obviously, I have been reminiscing about all of my family's summer adventures.  We took so many fun road trips together.  Although I am sad that I no longer have "little" girls, I love that as they become older travel becomes easier.  This girls really enjoy our trips together.  I think that we are creating memories to last a lifetime!  Here are the links to the blog posts about some of our favorite trips:

S- I am reminiscing about the summer too! We had such a great summer. It wasn't perfect, but we had some great trips and time with family. And we started building our new home...well, almost. Click HERE to see what I mean.

WHAT I'M LOVING...  

T- I love that my girls are getting older and enjoy doing things together.  Yesterday I took them to get pedicures as an end of summer treat.  It is so fun to have "girl time"!
S-I am loving getting back into a routine. I do love summer, but I am a routine driven person. 
I am also loving that, last week, I had the opportunity to grab a coffee with Gavin because we were out at an optometrist appointment. It is so rare that I get to be with only 1 kid! I try to make it special when we do. Love this guy!

And, I love (pardon the mess in the background!) that Elliot is getting more interested cooking lately! The boys have basically no interest. It's refreshing to me to have a kid who is interested!

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO...   

T- I have been busy setting up my classroom. It takes a lot of work to get things ready for 23 5 year olds!  Teachers work really hard to make sure everything is ready for the kids when they walk in on the first day of school.  I will post pictures soon of my classroom.  It is really coming together!

S- Elliot started school a day earlier than the boys. So, while she was at school, we took the opportunity to go to Target!!  I love that Will wore his sunglasses inside! That kids cracks me up!



School started, so we have been trying to settle into the new routine. And I am excited to have a few hours a day while Elliot is at her half day Pre-K to get some things done! Here I am super excited on their first day back to go grocery shopping...ALONE!!


WHAT I'M DREADING...  

T-I am dreading the GO, GO, GO of the school year!  With school and after school activities, my family is constantly on the move.  I have to remind myself to stop and breathe at times!  I make family dinner (sitting all together at the table) a priority at least 3 times a week.  (I realize that 7 days is ideal, but not realistic for us.)  Family dinner is a great time to talk and reconnect.  Instead of asking my girls "How was your day?", I try to ask more specific questions so that I do not get a groan or "Fine" as a response.  One example is "What was the best/worst part of your day?"  Here is an article with other examples of questions that you can ask as well: 10 Questions to Ask Your Child About His/Her Day at School.

S-As much as I am looking forward to getting into the new school routine, I am dreading the homework. Especially for Will, as he is entering 3rd grade, and as I recall from when Gavin was in 3rd, the amount of homework seems to increase exponentially.  

And I am dreading cleaning out my house! Our new home will not be ready for move in for a very long time, but I am making the effort now to clean out in preparation for the impending move. We have TOO MUCH STUFF!! I blame the kids for all the toys and papers, but as I look around, I am just as much to blame!! So, I simultaneously dread and look forward to digging in! 

One thing I do with the kids' and my clothes is send them to Thred Up! I order a clean out kit and ship them off to be sold secondhand. You get some money back! Not a ton, mind you, but it is nice to know others are using it, and what no one wants, they responsible recycle. Here is what their site says about making money on what you send, "You may use your payout to shop on thredUP, cash out via PayPal, or donate to our cause partners."

WHAT I'M WORKING ON...  

T-I am working on organizing my house before school officially starts.  Recently, my husband built a window seat/toy chest for my youngest daughter.  I am hoping that it will keep toys off of the floor and give her a place to sit and read.  Fingers crossed!

Before...


After...I think it turned out really well!  I will be making a cushion for it soon.

He also built a shelf above her window.

S- I suppose, refer to my above statements! I am working on getting our house decluttered and simplifying! Now that the kids are back in school, I have a little more time to catch up on all the things I have not been able to get to during the summer. The Fall is a busy time because we have so many birthdays!  I have been working on planning those celebrations.


WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT...  
T- My daughter loves dancing and I love watching her dance.  Recently she got to take a dance class with a dancer that she really looks up to, Valerie Rockey.  The joy on her face after class was PRICELESS!  I spend a lot of time and money for her to dance, but her excitement and confidence make it all worth it.

S-I am excited about a few things, in no particular order... 
I am really excited about cooler Fall weather, and all the things that come with Fall. 
I am excited to celebrate the birthdays I mentioned. 
I am SUPER excited to watch our new house get started! We have had our floor plans in place for close to 4 years and I cannot wait to see how it translates from paper to reality! I have been driving by the lot everyday to see the progress!!

WHAT I'M WATCHING/READING...   

T-The latest book that I finished was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  It kept me guessing until the very end!  I have also read The Husband's Secret by her and enjoyed that a lot too.  

S- I am getting excited to watch the season premieres of all my favorite TV shows! Modern Family, The Middle and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. During the summer, I have been watching Adam Ruins Everything, Impractical Jokers and as always, Pioneer Woman! 

I am currently reading Elin Hildebrand's The Island. I am not too far in it, but so far so good! It's my first Elin Hildebrand novel, and I hear people love every one of her books! I am excited to become her newest fan!

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO... 

T- My girls love to dance all day long!  The anthems in our house lately are Can't Stop This Feeling by Justin Timberlake and This is What You Came For by Calvin Harris.  They are constantly creating up dances and performing them for me.

S- I have been listening to Pandora lately via my Amazon Echo. My favorite stations right now are the Zac Brown Band Radio and Pop and Hip Hop Power Workout Radio. I have my Echo in the kitchen, next to the stove and I play the music and dance while I cook! Elliot sometimes joins in the dancing. The rest of my family look at me like I am crazy. Maybe because I dance like I am at a party or something. Dance like no one's watching, right?

WHAT I'M WEARING...  

T-I have not had a lot of time to do a lot of back to school shopping for myself yet.  I did recently order some items from Loft.  Loft tends to be one of my "go to" clothing stores.  The prices are reasonable and they tend to have really cute, stylish clothing.  One item that I ordered was this tank. Sara recently bought it and I thought that it was really cute.  I plan to wear it with a cardigan,  I like to wear layers to work because I find that I never know whether it is going to be hot or cold in my building.

S- Here we go!
Visiting with my sister!



Visiting with my Nephew, panning for gems/crystals




WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND...   

T- Crying....Every. Single. Day.  That is probably a little dramatic, but I always hate to see summer end.  I know that I am fortunate to spend the summers with my kids, but starting back at work is always bittersweet.

S- We are celebrating sweet Elliot's 4th birthday!! I haven't mentioned this before, and it isn't a secret, just never an appropriate time to bring it up...but we are especially grateful to be celebrating Elliot because she was adopted. We waited a long time for a little girl and we are so, so thankful to have her in our lives! I would love to share the story of her adoption with you another time. We were privileged to get to meet her the day she was born and each year, I think back to that day and the journey to find her. She is such a wonderful last piece to our crazy family puzzle! We love her so much and without her, our family would be incomplete!

Eddie's parents from New Jersey are coming all the way down to celebrate with us! And we get to go to a Zac Brown Band concert, again! This time at a venue. We won't be nearly as close as on my birthday, but I think it will be a blast!

WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH... 

T- I am looking forward to cooler temperatures...fall is coming!  I can't wait!  I looking forward to falling leaves and everything pumpkin.

S- Fall!! Elliot's Birthday!! And I second Trina's pumpkin spice everything! I look forward to working on our Fall Bucket List! Click HERE to see it! And please join us and share your experiences!! #FallBucketListMCD

WHAT ELSE IS NEW... 

T- My family is planning a trip to the mountains in October.  We have a lot of October birthdays in our family, so we thought it would be a fun way to celebrate. I love having another trip to look forward to in the fall!

S- I think I have shared everything that is going on! I will say, I am really enjoying spending time on this blog. I am grateful that Trina and I get to communicate more since we have started doing this in May! 

And I am grateful for you! So, Thank You!! Thank you for taking the time to read about our lives.  We get so excited every time we see one of you follow us on Instagram or like us on Facebook! Not to be too cheesy, but we really appreciate each and every one of you. I can't wait to see where this journey takes us!


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Monday, August 29, 2016

Fall Bucket List! Free Printable!


Happy Fall Y'all!!

Today, I am blogging with my new Fall Tervis Tumbler! I picked this up at an actual Tervis store. I didn't even know such a place existed until I stumbled upon it on our recent trip to the Biltmore Village in Asheville! It screamed, Look at me! I couldn't resist. On to what you probably clicked over to our blog for...

INTRODUCING...
Our 2016 Fall Bucket List!



Now that Fall is fast approaching, we thought we would create a Fall Bucket List! We will be attempting to accomplish each item and share with you our progress!

Subscribe to the blog so you get to see how we cross them all off the list!

We hope that you will join us in our endeavor! Print your own copy HERE! Please share your Fall Bucket List accomplishments with us!
#FallBucketListMCD

-Sara and Trina

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Top 10 Summer Highlights!



Those long summer days are waning, and school days are almost here. We are excited to share our top 10 highlights of this summer with you!

Sara's Top 5 are:

1. Our family vacation to Cancun!!
It is crazy to see how much our blog has grown since then! I didn't write about anything other than the place we stayed! I missed a huge opportunity to share with you the fun we had! Maybe I can later post a more detailed retrospective.

We had a blast! Eddie and I renewed our vows on the beach for our 15th Anniversary!

We went on a jungle tour and snorkeling! (We don't have pictures because cameras/phones don't mix with water!)
We swam with dolphins!

We played in the pool, and at the beach!

We spent time with my Aunt, my Mom and my niece! It really is one of the best family trips in recent memory!

2. Outer Banks Trip Part 1Part 2
It was such a wonderful visit with my family! I really love spending time with my sister! I get to see her and her family so rarely, we really cherish the limited time we get!

3. My crazy awesome birthday week!

How can ribbon cutting with the mayor AND seeing the Zac Brown Band on my Birthday(!) In someone's BACKYARD(!!) not make it in the top 5?!?! Probably of all time!

4. Spending time together as a family.
Swimming in our pool...

Blueberry picking at our family Farmhouse...



5. And after FOUR years of owning a lot and preparing to build our dream home...we finally got started!!!!
It's a long story, but we are putting in a pool and it has to go in first because of the way the house will be situated on the lot. We are all so VERY excited to be making progress!!

We had our ups (listed above) and downs (kids fighting, etc.) this summer, but overall it was a great one! We are looking forward to Fall and all the fun it brings with it!

-Sara 


Trina's Top 5:


1. Our 2 trips to the beach!  The beach is truly my family's favorite place to play and relax.  I feel very fortunate that we were able to go twice this year.



2.  Creating tie dyed t-shirts with my girls was so much fun!  Since I am not exceptionally crafty, I was really excited that the final product turned out so great.  The girls wear the shirts all of the time.


3. Making cupcakes with my youngest daughter was one of my favorite memories because I rarely get time with just 1 of my daughters.  I love being able to have some one-on-one time with them.  She loves baking and creating things, so this was the perfect activity for us to do together.




4. Our trip to Montpelier and peach picking was one of my favorite trips this summer.  The whole family had a great time and we got to eat delicious treats!




5. Our trip to Luray Caverns and JMU was another great family trip.  Luray Caverns was a new experience for my whole family.  I also really loved being able to show my girls where I went to college.





It has been an incredible summer!  I definitely think that we have done things this summer that we will never forget.

-Trina

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Melt In Your Mouth Salmon

What's for dinner, tonight? 

Anyone get tired of this question? I do, but probably because half (ok, more than half!!) the time, I have no clue!! I have been trying to improve my meal planning skills. I am hoping you can help me! My goal is to start meal planning with you. Then we both have our meals for the week figured out!

So, may I suggest this?

This salmon recipe is seriously amazing. I never really thought I liked salmon all that much. 14 years ago, my Dad took our family on a cruise to Alaska. We went on a whale watching trip that has forever changed my life because of this recipe. It was one of those whale watching excursions with lunch provided. And I don't know about you, but those lunches can be sketchy at best. This one was amazing! We had some very fresh salmon that they had marinated. We asked what it was because it was so delicious. And this is how I remembered it...


Anyone out there remember Dentyne Ice?? I don't know if you can read it, but you get the idea. This was the only thing I had to write on!  I scribbled down the recipe on this gum wrapper, so I wouldn't forget, and I still have it in my recipe binder today!

I love this marinade because it is sweet and buttery but not overly so, because of the soy sauce and lemon juice. It is the perfect balance and makes the salmon just sort of melt in your mouth. We are always looking at ways to eat more fish, and this is a great recipe for someone who thinks they don't like fish!

Let's get started!

Ingredients:




Whisking Together


Marinating

*Note: I got so excited about the salmon we grilled, I forgot to take a finished picture! I ate most of my dinner, and then realized I forgot. Oops! Good news is, I froze a portion of the salmon and marinade and this time I remembered to photograph it! Added bonus: this freezes beautifully!

I baked this piece in the oven. Maybe not the most beautiful, but I wanted you to see it on the cookie sheet I put in the oven.




The cooked salmon. Yum! My mouth is watering I wish we were having it for dinner tonight!





Mouth Watering Salmon
page1image1088
Ingredients
- Salmon (wild caught if you can find it!)
- Equal parts:
Brown Sugar (1/2 cup, for example)
Melted Butter (1/2 cup, for example)
- 1/2 ratio soy sauce (1/4 cup, for example) 
- 1/4 lemon juice (1/8 cup, for example)

***This is a little confusing, but infinitely adjustable. My examples are usually the amounts I use. My measurements are for about a pound of salmon. I give you the ratios so you can adjust as you wish.
  1. Cut salmon into the pieces/sizes you wish. Leave the skin on!
  2. Whisk marinade ingredients together in a dish. (I prefer to mix it whatever I am marinating the salmon in to save a dish to clean!)
  3. Place salmon in the dish. Marinate for 30 minutes or so on the counter. (If you need to do it a bit earlier in advance, you can put it in the fridge, but the butter solidifies and forms a fat layer on top.)
  4. Grill, skin side down, until the skin comes off! Check on it around 10 minutes. It depends on the thickness and size of your salmon.
***If you would prefer to bake it in the oven: Bake, skin side down, at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes, again until the skin comes off!

usually pair this with rice and raw or wilted spinach. But I have done pasta before because my kids are EXTREMELY picky and will hardly touch the salmon and sometimes they are even finicky about the rice (insert eye roll here) and at least they have something they will eat. Hope you and your family love it!

Enjoy!

-Sara




                                
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Outer Banks Trip Days 4-6



Lighthouses, Cannons and Beaches, Oh My!

Thanks for coming back to check out the last installment of our OBX Trip recap!

Day 3

We started out the day with a trip to Duck Donuts! Of course we had to take a picture. Please excuse the picture. It was like 157 degrees with 3000% humidity. We were sweating and my hair had certainly seen better days. Heather looks beautiful as always. #howdoesshedothat?




The boys waiting in line to watch them make the doughnuts! 


 It's fascinating to watch them make the doughnuts fresh from start to finish before your eyes!


Next up, a few hours at the beach!

Will

Heather and Dawson

Colby and Will





Kids always love to dig holes on the beach!!





Just sitting in the surf on this hot, hot day.



Sisters' Selfie!!


Elliot and Dawson

Time for dinner!



Here we all are at one of our MOST favorite restaurant in the OBX. JK's!! (Click for more info!)

Elliot loves Uncle Chase!

Here are their Tobacco Onions. They are basically the best fried onion "strings" ever, and the sauce is awesome! They are famous for their dry rub ribs! If you ever get the chance to go, order them!! You won't be sorry! And it's pretty kid friendly too! They have a kids menu, paper covering the white tablecloths with crayons and the window to the grill is in the hostess area. If they see a kid in the window, they make the flames "dance"!



After dinner, we made a stop at Parrot Bay. Selfie! Look at our faces. Heather is laughing at me for hauling out the selfie stick again. 

And the best ghost crab find of the night!


Day 4


We took a little trip to show the Wisconsinites a lighthouse! The closest one to us was the Bodie Island Lighthouse

Family Picture Time!

                               




Mommm! It's too bright! Do we have tooooo?!?!


Our next stop was Kitty Hawk Kites located right across from Jockey's Ridge, the largest sand dune on the East Coast. We bought some fudge, had some lunch and happened upon their annual Pirate Festival!

Awww!

Because of the Pirate Festival, they had this lovely lady posing a mermaid for the kids. Elliot LOVED it!


Pirate area

Jockey's Ridge is that sand dune across the street. This picture really doesn't do it's size justice.




Elliot in the pillory

Will in the pillory. LESS than thrilled!
Elliot steering and dancing!




Arrrr!



Pirate Santa

"Slim" the Pirate

They are preparing the set the cannons off! Everyone had to get behind the line, but I am the goofball in the parking lot on the wrong side of the cannons trying to get pictures of them going off. Man! They were SO loud!










We went to dinner at Mako Mike's, one of the kids' favorite because of all the shark "stuff" they have everywhere. Another group selfie!!


Of course we HAD to pose in the giant adirondack chair!



Loving on my nephews! I miss them so much!
Too sweet of Heather and Colby NOT to share it!!

And a final trip to the beach before we had to pack up the next day.





My heart is melting!!

All the cousins together!! So precious!!





Brotherly love!


Sisterly love!

More hole digging!!




Getting ready to ghost crab hunt one last time with the flashlights!





Thanks for the help, Uncle Chase!

Day 6

On our way back home, so that they could catch their flight home the next morning, we stopped to share with them our Capt'n Franks tradition!


That's it! I loved writing these posts because it was like reliving all of the fun we had! I feel so lucky to have Heather for a sister (and of course Chase for a brother-in-law and Colby and Dawson for nephews!)!!  I love them all so so much! I can't wait until we get to visit with them again!


-Sara

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