Thursday, September 30, 2010

it's begining to smell a lot like fall...

On of my dad's neighbors has a pear tree.  He was the receiptant of several pounds of pears...


I got a huge box full!  First I made a Pear Spice Cake.  Then a batch of pear honey...


I use this recipe.  It is delicious & delightful on a hot buttered biscuit!

I also made a batch of Apple-Pear Butter...

I used my regular Apple Butter recipe but just substituted 1/2 of the apples with pears.

We also wrapped up a jar of Apple Butter for our teachers...


I meant to give it to them on the first day of fall but just couldn't quite get my act together!  Now if the fall temperatures will just arrive and stay!  I have made my first pot of soup for dinner this week!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In 1492...

...Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Last Thursday, Uncle Topher called to let us know that replicas of the The Nina and The Pinta were at the boat harbor.


After school, we headed across the bridge to check it out...


These replicas motor [one of the crew members we talked to said while she has been on the ship, the sails have only been raised twice]  all over the country.  These floating museums stopped overnight for some of our world's famous barbeque on their way to a neighboring city for a week.

The Nina...


The Pinta...


It is hard to imagine a crew of men sailing these ships across the ocean to discover America.

You can go to this website to find out more [including a schedule of stops].

Monday, September 27, 2010

2nd Grade Open House

Two weeks ago, Banks invited us to Open House at his school.  We got to see what 2nd Grade is all about!
He showed us a math game they play on the Smart Board...


Those Smart Boards are super cool!  We feel very fortunate that all the classrooms at his school have one.

He showed us a paper he worked on based on the book "No Talking" by Andrew Clements...


They have just finished their IB Planner based on communication and this book fit right in.  They even had a no talking day in their classroom which forced them to use other types of communication.  I bet Mrs. Hughes loved the silence for a day!

He also showed us another project he did on communication...


We ended our night getting to see his rocket...


His school has Fabulous Friday.  He was excited to get his choice of rockets [reserved for 2nd Graders only].  He and 3 other friends got to build the rocket and get it ready for launch.  Friday is the big day for lift off...I can't wait to hear all about it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


My heart is broken.  I lost one of my dearest friends early Friday morning.  I am still trying to wrap my head around the idea that I will never hear his beautiful voice or see his smiling face again.  It is truly devastating.


I can remember the first time I met Scott Willis and the last time I saw him.  He was my friend, my decorator, my florist, my favorite artist and my common-law-husband. [Before I married, my last name was Willis too.  People always assumed we were related and would try to figure out how.  We just started making up ways - sometimes we were cousins, sometimes siblings, but when we told them we were common-law it really threw them for a loop.]  He was also the one who gave me the nickname E.

I will never walk by my bartered Scott Willis painting without remembering him and all the wonderful times we had together.  I will never play Mexican Train Dominos without remembering that it was him who introduced me to the game.  I will never hear a Tim McGraw song without remembering the New Years Eve in 1999 that we spent at the Tim & Faith concert in Nashville.  I will never order sweet tea again in the corner booth at Alfonzo's without remembering all the meals we ate there together.  I will never play another game of Sorry! without thinking about all our cut throat games [the Ghetto vs the Blue Lagoon vs the Granada vs Chinatown].

Scott was there in many of the important moments of my life.  He was there for me leading up to and during my wedding.  He was at the rehearsal dinner.  He did the beautiful flowers [along with Kathy] and sang during the ceremony [I am so thankful I have those songs he sang on tape].


scooter singing

He came to the hospital when each of my three children were born. 


He decorated my door in the rain for Christmas the day I brought Banks home from the hospital.  It was the only year I won an award. 


He made the most beautiful wreath for the my door when Owen was born.


He was a rock in our community.  Our little town will not be the same without him...he made such an impact here!


I will never forget you were a good'un.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

lake for labor day

We enjoyed a nice long Labor Day weekend at the lake…


The temperatures were perfect! The highs were in the low 80s and the lows were in the low 50s. I even noticed a few of these…


FALL LEAVES! I can’t wait to go back in the next few weeks after the leaves have really started turning.

We didn’t get to the cabin until late Friday night because the kids were dying to attend the 16th Annual Great Raider Tailgate Party and the football game afterwards. We cheered on the Raiders until half time before heading to the lake.

On Saturday Popsy, Banks and Jody headed to Tuscaloosa for the day to cheer on the Tide…


While they were hobnobbing with McElroy & Big Al...


...Owen was napping and Mary Reese and I were catching up on People mag & sun bathing on the boat dock…


Then Mary Reese gave Owen & I a little half time show by dancing to the Cha Cha Slide & Justin Beiber…


For dinner, we enjoyed our version of the stadium dog and nachos…


As you can tell, Pig Pen enjoyed his stadium inspired dinner…


[The child, I swear, requires at least 3 baths a day.]

Sunday morning the kids were dying to fill these up…


A few weeks ago, Mary Reese received water balloons as a birthday party favor. She has been dying to fill them up ever since. I thought the boat dock would make the perfect setting for a good old fashion water balloon fight…




…and boy was I right! Even Owen got into it. I was dying laughing when they got down to the last of the balloons and this was the scene…




I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!!! It took me about an hour to blow up the 100+ balloons and less than 5 minutes to bust them all. Watching the pure joy on their faces was priceless!

Owen & I did managed to get out for a little boat ride on Sunday…



He loved it. We paddled around the dock a couple of times & to the shore across from the dock. He thought he was big stuff!

We ended our Labor Day weekend last night at the baseball park…


…watching Banks and the other Renegades pull out a victory [even though it is fall ball and they don’t officially keep score]! You can’t get anymore American than that!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Family Favorite: Chicken Wraps

We tried this chicken wrap recipe during our staycation at Smith Lake this summer and fell in love!  We have been eating them at least bi-weekly since.  They are super easy, delicious & delightful, and pretty healthy to boot.

First I sprinkle boneless, skinless chicken breast [I use 3 to 4 breasts] with salt, pepper, cumin, chopped fresh cilantro and chopped fresh oregano.  Then I drizzle some olive oil on top and squeeze a fresh lime over that...


I let mine marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Jody throws them on the Big Green Egg while I cook some rice [I use Vigo Mexican Rice] and prepare all the condiments for our wraps.

I pile my flour tortilla with shredded lettuce, grated cheese, sliced chicken, avocado slices & Popsy's Margarita Salsa...


...and yum it up!  My kids just omit the toppings they don't like.  At the lake this summer, I cooked double the chicken and we made chicken quesadillas the next day for lunch.  I think this chicken & pineapple quesadilla recipe looks fabulous and can't wait to try it next week.

Chicken Wraps with Spanish Wraps [adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Grilling Book]
3-4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt & pepper to taste
1 t. cumin
1 T. oregano, chopped (or 1 t. dried)
1 T. cilantro, chopped
4 T. olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, seeded, peeled & sliced
grated cheese
shredded lettuce
sour cream
lime wedges

Sprinkle the chicken (both sides) with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano & cilantro.  Pour the olive oil & lime juice over the chicken and marinate for at least 30 minutes. 

Grill the chicken for 12-15 minutes [turning once halfway through], until chicken is no longer pink.  Thinly slice or chop the chicken.

To assemble:  Spread some hot rice on each tortilla [I prefer mine on the side].  Top with avocado slices and cilantro, chicken, lettuce & cheese.  Fold in sides of tortillas and roll up.  If desired, serve with salsa, sour cream and lime wedges.