Thursday, April 24, 2014

Springtime Salad Bar

While on an eight hour car trip, I tend to google random things.  On our last trip to South Carolina we started talking about Vanna White and Wheel of Fortune (my all-time favorite show and first TV memory) and how in the world Vanna stays so thin??

Guess what Google had to say? (Besides that she doesn't believe it's always necessary to eat three meals a day - which would never work for me). She said that before she eats lunch or dinner, she has a salad and then fixes a plate of whatever she's eating for her main meal. You can read the interview here.

That sounded like a good idea to us, so this week we've tried it. And it really is good. You fill up on vegetables first and then eat less of whatever. To keep it easy we went ahead and chopped up everything we had in the fridge so it's easy to pullout and quick to clean-up. It's made getting supper together quicker too. Even though we usually have a side salad, I've always just pulled everything out to make two at a time each night. 


Today we had cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, green onion, red onion, cheese and green leaf lettuce. I've got some corn on the cob I'm planning to roast to add into the rotation. If it's easy to eat right then I probably will - and this makes it easy! All we need now are some goldfish crackers and we'd have exactly what I ate everyday for lunch at the Tri Delt house! It only took me about five years to want a salad again.

And a little Pinterest humor for inspiration…I'm not sure why I think this is so funny!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter Sunday

What a wonderful and beautiful Easter weekend to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ!


Our attempt at a family photo on our favorite spot on Sunday morning. 


Laura's pretty table. We had beef tenderloin, creamed spinach, copper penny carrots, deviled eggs and mashed potatoes. And chocolate meringue pie for dessert. Yum!


I convinced Thomas, Laura and Denson to hunt Easter Eggs. We had 40 eggs filled with various amounts of change and one Golden Egg with $5 bucks inside. Ryan insisted on hiding the eggs. At church Thomas informed me that $5 wasn't enough to embarrass himself in front of his neighbors. But my persistent bugging paid off (or he realized I wasn't leaving his house until we did this)! Fortunately, he found the Golden Egg.



Mom, Dad and Net came into town and stayed with Laura and Thomas. Laura has now hosted all of us for Christmas and Easter -- I think she should win an award!

Backing up a day, on Saturday morning I helped host a bridal shower for my dear friend Jenna Lee in Columbus. She and I had coffee together every morning for about three years when our offices were right down the hall from each other. Her wedding is in about five weeks in St. Thomas! Isn't she going to make a beautiful bride?



I so enjoyed meeting all these people I know from Jenna's stories. I felt like I'd known them all for years! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Aunt Sis Can't Get Enough

We went to back to Greenville this week for a second round of house hunting and got to spend some time with Sis and Oliver and their girls on the way there and back! Can you tell that Aunt Sis just can't get enough of these sweet girls?


I love hearing Elizabeth Magee call me Aunt Sis and am constantly amazed at how much she grows between each visit. This time it was all about imaginary play with her baby dolls. We took Baby Reese to the grocery store just to "walk around" but then decided we might as well get milk while we're there. 


Mary Thorne loved showing me all her favorite things - especially big sister's blue pumpkin for Halloween. Sis said EM insisted she needed it to hunt Easter Eggs. 


Poppy is still mad at me for tricking her in February! She thought her mama was giving her a bottle and then realized it wasn't mama and flipped out. She was fine with Uncle Ryan though! EM went through this same phase so I'm sure Poppy will come around.


Mary Thorne helped me with my makeup - and somehow I left a few things. Which was fine with me because then we had to stop again on the way back to Jackson!



The only time Poppy let me hold her for more than two seconds. 


Mary Thorne thought selfies were fun. 


Mary Thorne waving goodbye. Melts my heart. Poppy is waving good riddance. 


Getting ready to go on Saturday morning. EM was headed to her school's Easter Egg hunt and I was all dressed up for a friend's shower. 


Sorry for cutting off your head Oliver! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Upsizing Trust

Last week the Upper Room featured a devotional called "Upsizing Trust" and referred to the scripture from Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace those minds who are steadfast, because they trust in you." The story in the devotional was about the writer's co-worker whose response to losing her job was, "I am excited to see what God has planned."

I am very excited to see what God has planned for us in South Carolina - I know Ryan's work will be challenging and demanding. I know I will desperately miss my friends and family. I know Pepe is going to flip out about living in a new place. BUT I also know that we have an opportunity to make new friends, experience a different area of the country and grow in our trust in the Lord. I'm trying to work on upsizing my own trust!


On Sunday we went to St. Luke's U.M.C. in Fondren. We've become quite ecumenical these days - we usually attend First Presbyterian but when Ryan works the timing of the St. Luke's service works better. I love the way Methodists do Palm Sunday! Growing up, the children of the church always processed down the aisle waving palm branches. At St. Luke's the entire congregation gathered outside the sanctuary and were then led in as the choir sang "Hosanna, Loud Hosanna." It was a great start to Holy Week.


I wouldn't want to go through this adventure with anyone else!



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sound of Music Dinner Party

I love a party with a theme! When our neighborhood association announced that "The Sound of Music" would be our first outdoor movie of the season, I decided we should celebrate with an Austrian-themed dinner party beforehand.

Ryan doesn't really get into this as much as I do, but he's a good sport and always up for cooking on the grill! The nicest thing about our house being on the market is that it was already clean, so all I had to do for the party was the fun stuff - decorate the table and arrange a centerpiece. Our azaleas bloomed this week and are beautiful! Laura gave me these pretty napkins and napkin rings for Christmas and the candle sticks are from Mama Jean and Papa Carrel.


Since I sold our patio tables and chairs in the yard sale last week and couldn't find my table cloths, we improvised with two card tables and a white twin bed sheet. We brought out the kitchen table to hold the food and drinks. 




We tried to keep the food Austrian: 


Jarlsberg and Amadeus cheeses for our appetizers. Our white wine was Broadbent from Austria. It's going to be my favorite wine this summer - very crisp and refreshing. 




Bratwurst with sauerkraut and a side potato chips (we Americanized the sides!) for our main course. 


We finished up with my version of apple strudel. This should have been rolled up like you do cinnamon rolls and then sliced, but I was too chicken to mess with the filo! I used a recipe from the 1967 version of La Cuisine: Secrets of Modern French Cooking. Instead of making the dough from scratch, I substituted filo pastry - it seemed much easier. The filling was bread crumbs sautéed in butter, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples,  a cup of sugar and a few tablespoons of cinnamon. I layered it between several filo pastry sheets and brushed with an egg yolk and butter mixture. Served with whipped cream!

The girls walked to the park while the guys took their time. Somehow they weren't as excited about a musical? "The Sound of Music" is one of my all-time favorites. I know ever word and can (but didn't!) sing along with every song. My father is the only person I know who enjoys watching it as much as I do. I love the time period, the setting, the costumes, the music and, of course, Julie Andrews!


If you're looking for a good book, check out Julie Andrews' autobiography Home: A Memoir of My Early Years. She has quite a life story! It took the wonderful ladies at our neighborhood association FOUR years to get permission to play the movie in the Being Belhaven Art Series. You can find the full schedule here. The real story of the von Trapp's is pretty amazing even without Hollywood. I find it interesting that the family's main issue with the movie is that the father seems so harsh and strict and that he was actually a very kind and loving father. You can read more here

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sushi Birthday Night

On Friday night we celebrated Mom's birthday a little early with a sushi party! Mom and I made sushi about a year ago for the first time and have been itching to try again ever since. Thomas came over and he and Ryan really got into seeing who could make the best roll. Laura wasn't able to come and she's the sushi expert in the family so we really missed her!


We made spicy shrimp and crab rolls with avocado, green onions, cucumber and a crab dip (instead of cream cheese). 


Some of our ingredients...you can use whatever you like!


Basically, you cook the sushi rice, mash a thin layer on a piece of dried seaweed (I wish it wasn't called seaweed!), then quickly flip over the seaweed and fill with your preference of goodies. Then you roll up and use a bamboo mat to shape the roll. That's it! It doesn't take that long - we cooked the rice in the microwave and Mom and Thomas chopped everything up while that was cooking. 


We also sang "Happy Birthday" to Mom - her birthday is tomorrow! Her cake was, of course, chocolate and chocolate. This apple didn't fall far from the tree!


DeeDee, John Eric and Jane joined us for a piece of cake - and JE and Thomas were kind enough to help Ryan move some heavy furniture outside for my yard sale. I didn't even have to bribe them with cake! 

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Yard Sale - What I Learned

We had a very successful yard sale on Saturday morning. When I first started going through our stuff I wasn't sure we really had enough to justify having a yard sale. And then I kept going and quickly figured out that we had PLENTY. Over the last week Ryan and I have gone through each room, closet and the attic and workshop and pulled out everything we didn't use anymore or just absolutely love. The hardest things to decided to sell or keep were things we liked or had been given as gifts but never really used. However, after looking at a 1,000 square foot house in Greenville last week, and realizing the amount of downsizing that is most likely ahead of us, we were motivated to get it out of here!

Most of the advice here comes from my Aunt Bonnye who is yard sale extraordinaire in Tuscaloosa. My mom came to help us on Friday organize and price everything and DeeDee came on Saturday to help with "customers" - it was an all hands on deck situation! In the end, I made $504.50 - way more than I expected!


10 Things I Learned:

1) Price to sell - People going to yard sales are looking for great deals. Anything over $10 should be a big item. For us these were things like mattresses and box springs; furniture and some yard equipment. Old TVs don't sell. Even for $10. I think it's important to be willing to bargain with people - I only had one lady who was a true haggler (this is a skill I greatly respect!) but she ended up calling friends and buying way more than she would have it I had not been willing to negotiate. I would say most of our items were $1 to $7.

2) Everybody loves a bundle - Ryan bundled up odds and ends from his workshop in buckets and then put a $3 price tag on it. So a bottle of oil might be 1/2 used and the package of nails open but it was still some money. And many of the things in the bundle we would have ended up tossing. Also, to make pricing easier we had big signs that said all books & DVDs $1, all VHS tapes .25 cents, hanging cloths $2, and folded clothes $1.

3) Keep your money on you - Aunt Bonnye suggested a fanny pack but I am anti-fanny pack (and didn't have one) so Mom and I each kept our purses strapped across us. A money box is too easy to walk away with and, unfortunately, a big problem at yard sales. Every half hour I took our $10 and $20 bills inside and let Pepe watch the money!

4) Have change and only take cash - I broke this rule for a few people but I knew them and one of them bought $120 worth of stuff. We started off with $60 worth of change (one $10, five $fives, twenty $1s and $5 in quarters.

5) Staging - Just like in trying to sale a house I think having your stuff arranged nicely (and clean!) makes a big difference. I washed a couple of things and hung up nicer clothes on a clothes rack I borrowed from a friend. Ryan shined some of his shoes and we dusted everything that needed it. We also had a "flow" through the driveway and carport that made it easy to watch everyone.

6) Be flexible - a neighbor was walking by and stopped to look. She ended up making a pile of things she liked and asked if she could finish her walk and them come pack with money. I took a chance - even though I didn't know her - and she came back with $26 dollars. You could also offer to hold it for an hour.

7) Keep at it - we started the sale at 7 a.m. and were out there by 6 a.m. putting the finishing touches on things (we put most things under our covered carport the night before and asked our neighborhood security guy to keep an extra eye on our house). It was slow and steady from 7 a.m. on but it would have been easy about 10:30 a.m. to wrap it up. But we stayed out there and ended up selling most of our stuff between 10:30 and noon.

8) Advertise - the paper here charges $25 to run a yard sale ad for three days and I'm cheap and wasn't sure if I'd even make $100 bucks. So instead, I posted the information along with details on what was for sale on Craigslist and our neighbood Nextdoor.com site along with Instagram and Facebook. The Tuesday before I posted signs in my yard (we live on a busy corner) and then on Thursday and Friday I posted signs around the neighborhood. If you do this, make sure to take them down after the sale! I think my crowd was probably 80% neighborhood people - they didn't haggle and it was fun to see so many of my neighbors! I think I spent $6 on posterboard and a marker. Yellow and black are the best colors to attract attention (so say advertising experts)! Also, since the sale was over I've had several people e-mail me looking for items and have sold a few more things that didn't sale.

9) Don't be a sucker - I think this goes without saying but don't ever let someone into your house. Direct them to the nearest gas station for bathroom emergencies. My "beware of dog" sign and barking dog in the backyard kept anyone from even asking.

10) Have plenty of help - Ryan was working on Saturday and I was so glad Mom and DeeDee were there to help. I think we sold more in that we were all talking items up and pointing out the best deals. Plus, about 10:30 we started saying "just make us an offer."

The Salvation Army is picking up the leftovers so that will be tax write-off and the children's hospital is getting the leftover books, movies, and games. It was a lot of hard work and fun and something I hope not to do again for a long time!