Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Festival of Trees

Creating traditions. Making memories.
*And, a new playlist?!  Volume: On.
Suggestions welcomed.
Festival of Tress. Paramount Arts Center. Well done.
My girls were in "tree trances".

The Snowmen at Christmas tree. This one got my vote because this book has become a favorite of ours.

The Goodnight Moon tree. I had to vote for this tree, because this book is such a staple in our bedtime routine.

I remember going to the Festival of Trees as a small child. You're still given two tokens to vote for your favorite trees. One on the lower level (the "professionals") and one for the upper level (the local schools). I remember being so careful in my choice, as if my choice in token placement would make or break the whole system.

Anyone else notice the creepy, floating Cinderella? I thought she looked like something from Criminal Minds, but Avery loved her.

I forget how beautiful this building is. When I do make it to the Paramount, it's usually for a show and it's dark... buzzing with excitement, energy, and conversation. Yesterday was nice. It was quiet (unless, of course, you count the one minor meltdown, when Avery realized she wasn't allowed to go up on the stage; situation was easily diffused by the distraction of the train... no big deal). Peaceful. Surreal, almost.

Blake's favorite part.

It was a lovely afternoon. But, we had to have a small photo session with our favorite "star" before we left. Avery and Elliot's "Wahwah" is on the board (the President, actually) of the Paramount Arts Center. We hang with celebrities. That's just how we roll.

Our festive outing was followed up with lunch at Griffith & Feil Pharmacy Old Fashioned Soda Fountain. I am loving this place. I have decided to just have my mother order for me next time though. Last time we went: I ordered the Philly cheese steak, which was good. She got the black and bleu burger which was *drool amazing.
This time: I ordered a cheeseburger, which was very good. She ordered the Reuben, which was *double drool delicious.

What traditions are you creating or carrying out with your family this holiday season? Anyone making memories? Share 'em. Please. :)

Happy Thanksgiving.
Enjoy your families and fellowship.
Enjoy the food.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to share the love.
Until next time...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pampered Chef...

Pampered Chef.
Two or three weeks of crock pot experimenting, and I wanna be a "Pampered Chef".

My new friend, Kristin, read about my "culinary adventures" (which can be found here) and posted a comment on facebook about me needing a Pampered Chef catalog to help me along in my journey. Little did she know, that was like dangling a hunk of meat in front of a pack of wild dogs.
 My "wish list" items quickly become "have to have" items. I could feel my husband's throat tighten, as I am tearing up pieces of post-it notes, jotting down the things I want need, and placing them on the appropriate pages.

Pretty soon, my catalog looks like this and my husband is shaking his head, in a disapproving manner.

Yes, those hot pink things are my "wish list" tags. Please pardon the poor quality iPhone picture. This is all I had in me tonight.
 Needless to say, I need all the help I can get. Hosting a catalog party is the only logical thing to do, right?
So, this is where you come in. If you'd like to see the catalog, please feel free to comment on this post, email me (, or message me on facebook. Also, starting tomorrow (Friday, 11/18) you can visit Kristin's website and just look for Hilary as the hostess.

*My dear friend Abby, over at Snyder Stories just informed me that everyone needs the double burner griddle. It's a pancake must-have. ;)

Thank you, all.
I will post something of substance soon.
I promise.

Hope y'all have a great weekend planned.
We do.
That's how I can promise a rich, hearty post coming soon.

Until then...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Julie Thacker Photography. Yes.

Julie Thacker Photography. What can I say about this woman?
1. Stalked her work.
2. Became her client
3. Now, I'm happy to call her my friend.

Her blog post about my girls.

Read it.
 Share it.
Call her.
Capture your memories.

Thank you for reading. As always, feel free to share the love.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What I'm Loving...Shuffle mode

Happy Wednesday Whatever-Day-of-the-Week-This-Actually-Gets-Posted!, folks! I'm pretty sure it's Thursday. Yes. It's Thursday. I can smell my crock pot crockin', and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my love. Normally, I'd be linking up with Jamie, over at This Kind of Love, but I missed the boat completely on that one.

Just because I missed the Wednesday aspect of this concept, doesn't mean I can't play along, right? Right. I mean, there are still PLENTY of things I'm loving! And, what kind of person would I be, if I didn't share the wealth of this knowledge?! So, ready or not... Here comes the love:

*I am loving: that this magical concoction is back on the shelves at Kroger. It's the most wonderful time of the year. Bring on the cranberry scented candles, the wrapping paper, and decorating the tree.

 Yes, I'm aware it isn't even Thanksgiving yet, but this is proof that it's OK to mentally prepare for the goodness that is sure to follow the pumpkin pie.  This delicious-goodness makes it's seasonal debut around the first of November and only sticks around till shortly after New Year's, so as soon as I see it, I start filling my shopping cart. I'm not joking. I stocked up enough last year to carry me through the end of March. *If you haven't tried this (or it's doppelganger Cranberry Sierra Mist), you should definitely try it.
I'm feeling especially festive this year and I can't quite put my finger on the reason. I'll let you know as soon as I do. I may try to place the blame on my love/hate relationship with Pinterest.

 *I am loving... My mother. I love her and am so very thankful for her every day (not just today). She is the epitome of what a mother is, she has taught me, through example how to be a mother, and I'm so very thankful I am able to call her mine. She is, by far, the most beautiful woman I know, inside and out.

*Oh, and these flowers are from her. I have gotten them every year, for the past four, on the same day, for a very special reason. Not that the delivery has become an expectation, but an always welcomed "There they are" kind of a feeling. She knows exactly what I need, when I need it. Of course she does... she is my mother.   

*I am loving... that, for the 2nd week in a row, I followed up with having dinner ready for the husband when he makes it home on Thursdays.
I. Am. Awesome.
That might be over shooting it just a bit. Especially, after you guys take a look at this week's "achievement" in Hilary's Culinary Adventure. I'm not going to lie. I'm a little embarrassed to post this. In fact... don't click on that link. Too late? I'm going to jazz it up a bit, by using some fancier lingo.
Instead of Super Easy Chicken, we'll call it Italian Chicken and Rice.
See, that sounds better already.
4-8 chicken breasts (tenderloin)
1 bottle Italian dressing
Parmesan cheese (to taste)
Put the chicken in the crock pot (yes, mine was frozen),
 Pour in the dressing.
 Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
Served over rice.

The verdict: Do. Not. Waste. Your. Chicken.
I mean, I can't say I won't ever fix this again. I'll be happy to... if the only food I have in this house is rice and Italian dressing. It was very blah and Andy's response (as was mine) was "Good effort. You don't know till you try, right?" ha!
*But, I'm still loving the fact that I tried something new. That's the point.

*I am loving... and am almost out of which is how this little gem ended up on my "I am loving" list.

Whether you have a "toddler" or are just a messy person... You. Need. This. We use it on everything. All of our clothes. It gets anything out (except dry-erase marker... long story). The only place I have found it is Toys R Us/Babies R Us, so stock up when you find it.

*I am loving... that everything in this picture was a requirement in making it to the store today. My girl definitely walks dances to her own beat.

What are you loving this Wednesday today?
*This is a very random post.
"Welcome to My Head"
Shuffle mode.
Best of luck.

Thanks for reading! And, as always, feel free to share the love!
Until next time...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gratitude PSA

 I'm so thankful. Grateful. Blessed. There aren't enough words.
Yes, I get frustrated. Overwhelmed? Absolutely. Stuck in the stay-at-home wife and mother rut/blues/blah/whatever-you-call-thems? Most definitely. Then, a day weekend moment like this comes along, and it's just the refill I need.

I'm not sure what it is about this image that I love so much. Is it my cloth-bummed babies? Could it be the fact that at 6 months old, my littlest already feels the need to be under her sister's feet, literally. Is it the little back-fat rolls on my Avery Drew? Or the way Elliot Grae has her legs crossed and is looking up at her sister asking, "Now, what can we get into?"... You decide. But, I love it.
One little moment and I'm so much more aware of all of the love in my life. Love that becomes overlooked, pushed to the back burner, because there is laundry, I can't remember the last time I vacuumed this basement, dirty dishes from 2 days ago, Oh My Word... both of them are crying?! Have I showered today? moments. That's exactly what those are... moments. Even if they don't feel like they pass as fast as the good ones, the point is: they do pass. And, when they go, I'm left with smiles like these.

She is so proud of herself! As am I. We had such a scare with her health in the first few weeks/months of her life, that every time she discovers something new she can do, I thank God that she is achieving, growing, and thriving (even though sometimes it feels that it's at a freakishly alarming rate). And this face, is His way of answering me with a big ol' dose of "Trust Me. Always."

 I need the awareness of this love to be riding shot-gun in my everyday. It's not just me, folks. Consider this a Gratitude Public Service Announcement.  Whether it's a hectic one, or a there is no way I'm making it outta these pj's day, I need to remember to stop, breathe, and remember days like this one...

... where the only mandatory item on our agenda is a little "cozy" couch time with my littles.

Today, I am thankful. I am forever grateful for my husband and my children.
What are you thankful for? 

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share the love.
Until next time...


Thursday, November 3, 2011

slow cooking queen...

I've never claimed to be good (or even mediocre) at juggling housework, cooking, and life. In fact, I've never successfully juggled anything. Oh, sure. We get by... always have clean clothes, even if that means being 15 minutes late, because we're waiting on the dryer to finish. I don't usually have much to do in the kitchen. Andy enjoys that space and I willingly relinquish control of that situation. 

Let me tell you a little about Andy (lovingly referred to as Drew, Andrew, or Daddy). He is a very hard worker, providing for his family and is relentless about the quality of his work. He's a wonderful husband, loving father, meticulous electrician, and a fabulous keyboard/piano player. His current work schedule (which has a tendency to change at a moment's notice) has him working four 10 hour shifts, so the Caudill Weekends begin on Thursday around 7:30, when the man walks in the door. There is excitement on Thursdays. Avery can feel it. I can feel it. He's coming home today and we get him all to ourselves for 4 whole days (it is never "all to ourselves" though, because he usually has some sort of side job to do during the weekend: fixing some wiring at so and so's house, recording music for that one guy, practicing for a late night Saturday show with this guy... you catch my drift. Like I said, he works very hard for his family.)     
Thursdays also bring the question: What would you like for dinner? After working hard all week to provide for us, he usually comes home to us having already eaten or with a luke warm pizza in his hands... and I feel like it's time for change. It's time that this hard working man come home to a hot meal. It's time to come out of my comfort zone. Drum roll, please... **It's time to bust out the Crock Pot!**

Now, don't judge. Some Most All of you, are probably thinking, "Uh, yeah. This is a big deal because...?" Well, it's not so much a big deal, other than it doesn't happen much. As I stated earlier, I'm not really the keeper of the kitchen. Andy enjoys being the key holder, and so I give it to him (selfless, aren't I? *wink). However, I feel that this has turned into an expectation on my part. So, I'm taking back a couple days during our weekend. He can have one or two, I'll take the others and/or we can share a night and this cooking thing can be something we do together. What a concept. Sharing a task, so we can spend more time together. Brilliant. Why haven't I thought of this before?!

So... I'm not sure if that stream of thoughts made a lick of sense to anyone (Welcome to My Head), but I got the message. Loud and clear.  

So, what is on the menu for tonight, you ask? Slow Cooker Italian Beef (recipe courtesy of The Crock Pot Girls). I've been flirting with the idea of trying one of their recipes for awhile, and this sudden lunge towards marital bliss has inspired me to do just that. *For those of you who just clicked on the link and thought to yourself, "THAT is what all this fuss is over? 6 ingredients?", please remember: Baby steps to build my culinary resume. Starting small... but at least I'm starting. Right?! Right. Who's with me?

So here it is: 

Just before the "slow cooking" begins.

3 lb. Beef Chuck Roast or Sirloin
1 Onion, quartered
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
1 -10.5 to 14 oz. can Beef Broth
1 pkg. Good Seasons Italian salad dressing
1 envelope dry Au Jus mix
1/2 (16 oz.) jar Pepperoncini Peppers and juice

Place meat and the onion in a 5-quart slow cooker.
Mix up next 5 ingredients in a small bowl, then pour over meat.
Add peppers and juice.
Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.
Remove meat from cooker and slice or shred.
Have juice and peppers available to put on sandwiches or on the side.
Serve on rolls or buns.

The verdict? Juicy, tender meat that just fell apart in the tongs.
Yes. We will be making this again. You should try it.

Full stomachs. Marital bliss.