March 21, 2018

Simple Easter Decorations & Treats

Spring is here and it's a great time to indulge in some fun and simple Easter treats for the entire family. You don't have to spent a lot of money or go to a lot of trouble. There are plenty of great springtime projects to make and do. 

Check out this fun little round-up and maybe you'll be inspired to get creative this season! 

Pear Bunny Salad

Who better than Betty Crocker for a little inspiration...check out this adorable bunny salad made from pear halves. It's healthy and cute...and super simple to make. You might even have all the ingredients on hand. 

Honey Bun-ny Sweet Treats

Check out this cute tutorial from the delightful blog Eighteen25. Using store-bought pre-packaged honey buns, you can add some colorful twine and a cute tag and voila, such a great little Easter goody. Tuck it into a school lunch or pop it in an Easter basket. 

DIY Glittery Easter Eggs 

I don't care how old I get, I'll never tire of good ol' glitter as a go-to for crafting. And those traditional plastic Easter eggs definitely lend a great surface for it. With some simple glue or mod podge, you can turn neon colored plastic eggs into something that looks sophisticated and fun. 

Chocolate Eggs in Tiny Easter Baskets 

Everything is cuter on a miniature scale. I snagged some tiny straw baskets at a discount store and plan to use them as party favors holding small marzipan eggs at Easter. My local Aldi store had some great varieties of Easter candies and treats. 

Some of my other favorite places to shop for seasonal decorations and supplies include thrift shops like Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc as well as Dollar Tree/Dollar General. You can find some great options without spending much money. 

Happy spring & Happy Easter y'all! 

March 7, 2018

Three Simple Drink Recipes for Spring

Spring is just around the corner and lots of trees and flowers are already blooming. Except Knoxville just got hit with a bit of colder weather. Hopefully it won't last and before too long we'll be enjoying warmer days spent outside on patios and porches. And what's better than a refreshing drink on a warm spring day? Here are three simple drink recipes you might want to make this season!

Not Your Childhood Cherry Cola 

Cherry cola always felt like such a treat in childhood. Granted, it was easy enough....just putting a few maraschino cherries into your Coke, but that combination of flavors hit the spot.

Not only are cherries delicious, they are great for your health. Packed with antioxidants, cherries may help fight cancer. Plus, one cup of cherries has as much potassium as a small banana. This helps keep your blood pressure under control. 

So let's drink to our health....with an updated version of that childhood favorite.

Try swapping your usual cola for Red Rock, a brand of soda founded in 1885 in Atlanta, Georgia. For the first part of the 20th century Red Rock was a soda leader, even getting endorsements from baseball player Babe Ruth. It fell out of favor but has made a comeback in the past twenty years or so. I thought it was delicious and had a less syrupy quality than other colas.

Instead of those bright red maraschino cherries, try using morello cherries, which are more sour and commonly used in pies and cobblers. It makes for a great flavor combo if I do say so myself. Cheers y'all!

Iced Chai Tea with Grenadine & Vanilla

I drink iced tea all year long, but spring is definitely one of the times I enjoy it most. There's pretty much no iced tea I don't like, but sometimes I enjoy adding something a little bit special.

I've been on a chai tea kick lately, enjoying the savory and aromatic variety with all its flavors. To take my chai to the next level this spring, I'm adding grenadine and vanilla extract.

The vanilla only helps to enhance the flavors already in the chai and the grenadine adds just the right amount of sweetness. Delicious!

Dreamsicle Margarita 

Recently I saw a guy on television making margaritas with Mountain Dew and tequila. While this doesn't exactly sound all that appealing to me, it did inspire me to experiment with a few other options. This is how I ended up finding a recipe for the Dreamsicle Margarita....tequila, orange soda, and vanilla ice cream are all on the ingredients list....delish! Head over to Genius Kitchen to find the full recipe.

Yum! I'll definitely be enjoying this one come spring.

Happy sipping y'all!

March 2, 2018

This Will Not Break Us.

I'll never forget when my then fiancĂ© and I were completing our wedding registry at Belk and looking at china patterns, the sales lady took a delicate plate and banged it against the display shelf to show us just how durable bone china really is.

I was horrified at first, but saw that she was didn't crack or break. While I'm not saying this is necessarily a good way to test the strength of your fancy dishes, it was a good reminder that not all is what it seems.

If you had asked me prior to this demonstration, I would have sworn bone china was the most fragile and delicate option available. I would have been incorrect. In fact, bone china, though thinner and lighter than porcelain, has the greatest strength and highest chip-resistance of all ceramics. Stick that one in your save for later trivia file.

Isn't it funny how something that you perceive to be very delicate or fragile can surprise you with an inner strength you didn't know it had?

I found myself in this very situation recently while having a conversation with my paternal grandmother. While our relationship has been somewhat complicated over the past decade, she remains one of the most influential people in my life.

Some of my earliest, most vivid memories are of time spent with her, playing Barbies or cooking or making arts and crafts. And it wasn't just the things we did together that felt special. It was the way she related to me. The way she made me feel valued, without expecting me to do anything to earn her acceptance or approval.

In many ways, she was my first best friend. Actually, I think I always saw her as more of a friend than a grandma. Maybe that's why I have never called her Grandma, opting to instead call her by her first name, Patsye. In my childhood mind, it was more than a name....sort of a term of endearment more special than the generic 'grandma' used by most kids.

I always saw her as one of the most creative people I knew. She could make anything. As long as I could dream it up, she could figure out a way to make it. A talented seamstress and quilter, she brought to life the beautiful dresses and outfits I would sketch. When I asked her to make me a quilt with a ballerina on it, she rose to the challenge, turning scraps of satin and vintage lace into a tutu and toe shoes.

But while I always saw my Patsye as talented, creative and kind, I knew she had another side. A very fragile, sensitive side that could surface in any given situation and leave me feeling very confused.

Once, while looking at old photographs of her as a teenager, I saw one where I thought her hair looked funny. It was the 80s, and I'm sure it was the fact that hair styles of the 1950s were very different from hair styles that I knew to be 'normal.' I said, "Patsye, why does your hair look so funny?" not meaning any disrespect, but truly wanting to know.

This upset her very much, hurting her feelings and somehow she didn't understand that I didn't really mean it as an insult, just an innocent question. She went to her room and as I recall, didn't come out for the rest of the evening.

There would be other situations like this. When things would upset her or cause her to withdraw into herself. I learned early on that I had to tiptoe around her in some ways. But my grandpa was always there as a buffer, swooping in to make a joke, or change the subject, to protect her from one thing or another.

While I love my grandmother dearly, I would never have used the word strong to describe her.

But thinking back to her life, I can imagine that it was challenging. Her parents had an actual shotgun wedding and she always believed they were never in love. She told me on more than one occasion she never saw them be affectionate or say that they loved each other. She also felt very rejected by her mom, which I'm sure impacted her in many ways. These early life experiences shape us so much and while as a kid I only saw her as my grandmother, as an adult I can look back and see that things weren't always so great for her.

There have been plenty of not so great things that have happened since then as well. Family dramas, fractured relationships, addiction and illnesses that threw a major wrench in all the plans. This is not where I thought we'd be.

The other day I was visiting with my grandmother and found myself getting emotional about a situation I have been facing. It sounds cliche and I guess it is, but after I poured out my heart to her, I said, "It's just not fair." 

"No, it's not fair," she said. "Nothing ever is. But we are strong. This will not break us." 

I remember looking up at her through my tears and thinking, who is this person? Where did she come from? 

Perhaps she has had this inner strength all along. No, not perhaps. I'm sure of it. I don't know where it was or why she kept it hidden from me for the most part. But when I needed a reminder, she was right there. Speaking wisdom.

And she's right. This will not break us. I won't let it. And even though I have no idea what you're facing....hear this: it will not break you. Even if you feel like you are already broken. The part of you that matters most is fully intact. Unbreakable.

This is why I eat peanut butter crackers on my Wedgwood wedding china. Or whatever else I happen to be eating on any given day. I want to always be reminded of the importance of putting my valuables to good use. And also I want to remember that whatever I'm dealing with, it will not break me.