Shadow Box Memories

Most memory boxes that I have seen on the internet are exactly that, boxes.  I wanted a box that I could see all of the items I have saved over the years to remind me of those memories.  What's the point of saving items if you are going to just throw it in a box and never look at it again? 

I purchased a shadow box from Michaels with a glass front and figured it would be a great way to see my memories every time I walk past it. When we all were forced to work and be home, I took time every day cleaning different places around the house.  I found a box of tickets and stubs that I was going to scrapbook, but never did and was excited to place them in my living room for all to see.  

I have years and years worth of items that I have saved.  Each ticket puts a smile on my face and warms my heart.  Just looking at each one takes me back to that time in our family history.  

I used my handy dandy Cricut to cut some vinyl to place on the glass of the shadow box, with the saying, Oh the places we've been...the things we've seen...

I placed the items in the box in no particular order, but trying to put the smaller items in the front and larger in the back.  Every single ticket, or stub, may not be seen, but at least  they aren't sitting in a closet where they are forgotten about.  Now every time I walk into my living room I get to be reminded of all of the fun things we have done over the years, and even spark conversations with the kids and friends that come over and see the box.  The great thing about these shadowboxes is that they come in all different sizes and they are a great width to places several items in.  Boxes don't have to just be stubs and tickets; shirts, shot glasses, anything you pick up while on your travels could possibly be put in.  I hope that you enjoy this item and try it out as well. Happy Memories!


Kid Approved Tasty Snack

I love when I come across recipes that are simple, delicious, good for you, and especially kid approved!  I go through phases where I eat super healthy, and then eat whatever I feel like.  When I decide to eat healthy, I bring the entire family along for the ride as well.  Sometimes the kids try to put up a fight, but once they've tried whatever I've made they love it!  

My kids will tell me they hate something I make, even if they haven't tried it.  They will be grossed out by one ingredient, and assume that the entire dish is disgusting.  When they were little they would eat everything and anything before they had an opinion, wow, I miss those days.  

One day I was looking around for a healthy snack that would be simple enough for the kids could make, healthy enough for us all to eat, and delicious enough for us all to enjoy.  I came across an oatmeal ball that only had 5 ingredients, all of which I already had in the house.  Win win!!  The great part of this recipe is that it has simple, yet good for you ingredients, and as long as nobody has any allergies, you have a healthy snack! 

What you'll need:

2 cups Oats
1 cup Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Honey
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (you could substitute other treats such as M&M's, Heath, the sky's the limit)

My little guy wanted to make them all by himself this time, so I let him have at it.  I feel that a child that has say and participation in the things they do, they are more likely to enjoy what they are doing.
Once all of the ingredients are mixed together well with a spoon, he used a cookie baller and placed them on a sheet of wax paper so that they don't stick.  After they are all rolled, place in the refrigerator to set for about 20 minutes, then enjoy.  

You can keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, but ours never make it that long. These are a great healthy treat to take on car rides as well.  If you have any quick and easy healthy treats, I would love for you to share them with me. 


Fiesta Friday- Teremana Tequila

Do you enjoy tequila?  Do you have one you like, but not love?  Have you tried several different ones?  That's me, I try different liquors, and sometimes I'm like, yum, we'll be buying more, and other times I'm like, damn, I wasted my money on that.  Nonetheless I am one of those people that hates to waste anything, so I suffer through the rest of the bottle ready for it to be gone.  

With all of the Covid crazy, I was at the liquor store and happened to find a bottle of Teremana on the shelf.  I usually don't purchase anything that a celebrity has their name on, but it's The Rock, so I figured what the heck.  The very first shot I took was chilled and to be honest, it burnt all the way down.  I did not enjoy it, and thought oh no, here we go again.  After letting it sit on the shelf for a couple weeks a friend of mine came over and I decided to give it a try again, this time it was not chilled.  WOW!  That was the smoothest tequila shot ever!!  I've always been a Patron fan, but it's always been one of those bottles we purchase when we have a little play money.  After trying the Teramana, I don't know that I will ever go back to Patron.  

Once we finished the bottle of the Blanco Teremana, we searched and searched for the Reposado.  It was nowhere to be found.  It took months to finally find a bottle of the Teremana Reposado.  Now, after trying both, it is truly hard to say which one I like better.  Both tequila go down smooth, they both have a nice taste to them, and neither of them leave you with that cheap tequila after taste.  So I would have to say, good job Dwayne Johnson this is a fine tequila, and my new favorite!  If you get the chance, try it and enjoy!  Cheers!


Vintage cart makeover

I am a sucker for old furniture and vintage pieces.  I love going to an antique mall or flea market and finding an amazing piece that can be used for something other than it's intended purpose.  Most of the time I have to have something in mind before I am going to just go out and buy an old piece.  Before Covid struck, my husband and I had been talking about purchasing a cart to store liquor on.  We looked and looked, but nothing really tickled our fancy, plus we wanted something that would look great in our kitchen with our vintage table.  

We were so excited when North Carolina began letting small businesses open.  After watching Facebook for weeks, the antique mall that we wanted to check out was finally open.  To limit our exposure to others, we went right when they opened and wore our masks.  This particular antique mall is huge! It takes hours to get through and has just about everything an antique lover would want.  After spending an hour searching for a piece that would work, we found it, tucked under a bunch of knick knacks.  We looked around a little longer, but went back for the cart that would become our liquor cart.  

We got it home, looked it over, and began the stripping process.  I honestly don't understand why people paint beautiful pieces instead of just cleaning them up to their original glory.  As they say though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.  I always get really excited when I begin these projects.  I can see what I want even through all of the layers of paint.  Here is the cart at the beginning of it's transformation.
Pretty ugly isn't it?  After hours and hours of using paint stripper, the red paint still wasn't coming up.  We had to break out the grinder to get off the stubborn red paint that did not want to be stripped off.  We used chrome polish and a lot of elbow grease.  After about three days of working on this red painted, vintage cart, the finished product in my opinion is beautiful!  It looks amazing in our kitchen, and does a great job accenting my grandma's table.  I may not always like doing the work, but I always love the end product.  


Virtual Learning/ Homeschool

I am so thankful that this year's virtual learning is OVER!  That had to be the longest 3+ months ever.  My day job is a math teacher.  I would say that so much has changed since  I began teaching many, many years ago.  Not just the technology part, but the way parents and students treat you as a professional, but that is an entirely separate post.   

Everyday beginning March 16th, teaching took on another whole meaning.  I love my children with all of my heart, but I was not meant to be a homeschool teacher!!  Trying to teach my own children was the pits!!  We turned our living room into a classroom for the four of us. 

We decided that even though we were going to be home daily, we were going to stick to a schedule, and continue to make it a normal school day.  The boys woke up, ate breakfast and began their schoolwork at 8am daily.  The oldest would get frustrated because most of his teachers didn't put his work up until almost 11am.  It also frustrated me because on a normal day school didn't start that late, so why shouldn't work be online by normal school hours?  Somedays this was a good thing because I would be finished with work, so I was able to see what he was doing.  

The middle child was the best!  He loves school, his teacher and even doing schoolwork.  He would work quickly and quietly daily.  Most days he would have zoom meetings with his teacher and classmates which made it good for him to see someone other than his brothers.  He would occasionally ask me to look over his math or what he had written because he wanted to double check that it was all correct.  This is my child that wants to be a surgeon, he is very meticulous, 

Then there is Mean Machine! We nicknamed him that many years ago, and he often reminds us why we call him that still today!  He and I would battle daily!! He would scream and cry he hated reading, or writing, and I didn't know what I was talking about in math.  Seriously?  It's second grade work and I'm a teacher.  I'm pretty sure I can handle helping with second grade.  For the first two weeks I wanted to rip my hair out of my head. I FaceTimed his sweet teacher one day and asked if that was how he behaved for her.  She was shocked!  She informed me that he never once cried or threw himself on the floor in frustration over work, and that he did it without much help or guidance at all. I'm glad he has never showed out in class, but it made me crazy daily doing it at home.  After two weeks of his nonsense, I finally expelled him from "my classroom" and made him sit with his dad.  From that day forward I didn't hear a peep out of him during "school."  Really?? 

For years my two oldest would ask to be homeschooled.  After this virtual learning experience, we all realized that homeschooling wasn't for us!  I can't imagine if this continues into next school year.  I love my own kids, but teaching at school in front of other peoples' children is so much easier!  I do think that this experience has shown a lot of people that teaching isn't as easy as some believe.  It has shown many that virtual learning takes time, patience and true self determination to understand the new way of learning and to get it completed.  

I would say that many great things did come out of this mess we call Covid-19.  We were able to teach our children outside of the box.  Field trips were learning opportunities that we experienced with them, teaching them the importance of each trip, moment and practice.  I am thankful we have been able to spend this time together, but all of this needs to clear up so we can all go back to school! If not, there will be more posts that hopefully help us all get through this together! 


U-pick farms

Have you ever been to a u-pick farm?  I don't think there is anything more tasty than using fresh from a garden, sea or farm products.  I know that might sound crazy.  How does it taste any different than from the store?  I feel that when it's fresh, the true taste of it comes out.  

With Covid-19 everywhere, going to a grocery store the past few months has been nerve racking.  We decided to get the boys out of the house at the end of May and take them to one of our local u-pick farms.

We love fresh strawberries, they are juicy, and beautiful!  I love that we can get as much as we want knowing they are all the perfect berry!  Nothing is more frustrating than going to the store and purchasing a pint of fresh berries then going to use them the next day, and there are a few already bad.  When picking your own, you can't blame anyone but yourself for the ripeness of each berry.  

When we take the boys to a u-pick farm, we tell them what to look for when picking a particular item.  For example, we tell them to not pick the strawberry that has a green top because they aren't quite ready to pick,  check for rotten spots, an occasional taste test is ok, but don't eat them all, we have to pay for them.
With a u-pick farm, nobody is touching that fruit or vegetable but yourself.  We still wash them thoroughly, but I feel there is less chance of any type of contamination.  When we were there, there was hardly anyone in the field, and we were all spaced more than 6 feet apart.

Wherever we move to, one of the first things I look for are the local u-pick farms.  There is a great website that you can go to and it pulls up any state's farms, you can check it out here.
I love the fact we are supporting local farmers. We are spending time as a family outside, and we are teaching our children about the environment and sustainability.  I hope that you find a farm near you and enjoy the freshness of a delicious picked item.  


Kings Mountain State Park, South Carolina

Thank goodness it's camping season again!  After being stuck in the house for the past three months, working, helping the kids with their school work,  non-stop cleaning and wearing masks to the grocery store, I needed a break!! We booked Kings Mountain State park in South Carolina for a quick, peaceful trip, and that it was.  

Kings Mountain sits in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina.  It is located 40 miles southwest of Charlotte in York County, and is a great campground if you want peace and quiet.

Like most state parks, there is only 30 amp hook-up, which usually isn't a problem if you don't need to run two air conditioners.  All sites are packed gravel, with no concrete pads available.  They do not have full hook-ups, but sites include water and electric with two dump stations on your way out.  The campground has several bathhouses, all of which seemed to be kept clean.  The sign on the door read only 3 people in at a time, but typically I was the only one in the one closest to our site.  

Kings Mountain Campground has: 115 standard sites for RV's and tents
10 tent only sites
15 equestrian campsites
30 miles of equestrian trails 
20+ miles of hiking trails

There is a little pond for fishing, but if you ask my kids, there weren't any fish in it because they didn't catch anything.  Be sure to bring your bug spray if you decide to fish as there are a lot of mosquitoes!  

Located near the campground is Kings Mountain National Military Park, a Revolutionary War battle site.  Throughout the year you may be able to see reenactments.  The trail throughout the park is paved, and you can complete a self guided tour with highlights of battle events throughout.

When we went, the hiking trails were closed due to debris from a storm.  This didn't keep us from hiking.  Crowders Mountain is a short drive from the campground with great hiking and breathtaking views.  After downloading the All Trails app, and researching our options, we decided to attempt the Rocktop trail.  This trail was 6 miles and three hours long.  
There were some steep spots, and rocky terrain, but when you get to the overlook at the summit, it was completely worth it!!  Be sure to bring plenty of water.  I saw several people without any and they were sitting down complaining of cramping of legs and very dehydrated.  

If you enjoy camping, and are ready for a trip outside of your house, this is a great place to go.  You will be able to sit back, relax and simply enjoy nature.