Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Decor by Melissa and Sandy

Happy Thanksgiving readers! How's it going?

We are on the countdown to Thanksgiving, the kids are out of school for the week and I'm working tomorrow then it is eating/shopping/resting before we dive into Christmas!

I usually don't decorate too much for Fall but I got a wild hair and decided to step it up this year. Mom always decorates for fall-her fall decor is on point, unlike my feeble attempt to decorate!

So before all this comes down this weekend and Christmas goes up, here is my decor:



I discovered a photo collage maker, kizoa.com, and it's really cool. I'm still learning (obviously) but I thought it showcased my photos well. Clockwise from left to right: one side of my mantle, the other side of my mantel, my fall flag, and a fake pumpkin and mum. I bought real pumpkins too and set those by the front door. I didn't carve them, I left them au naturel.

Here is Mom's decor:


Clockwise from left to right: Her front table by the picture window, the kitchen window, the front door, the dining room table, and a floral arrangement in the den. Just beautiful!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember we have so, so much to be thankful for! A roof over our heads, a pantry/fridge full of food, and family and friends who love us.

Until next time!
Melissa

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Caramel Brown Sugar Pound Cake



Hey Readers! Happy Saturday!

As promised, here is the recipe and recap of my latest adventures in baking, a caramel brown sugar pound cake.

A friend of ours made this and brought us a few pieces. It was SO GOOD and I asked her for the recipe. Thanks Jennifer! This cake was the bomb!

Caramel Brown Sugar Pound Cake
2 sticks margarine
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1 (1 lb.) box light brown sugar
1 c. sugar
5 large eggs
3 c. plain flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tsp. butternut flavoring (optional, this was hard to find so I skipped it)

Preheat over to 325. Cream margarine and shortening with sugar until light; add eggs one at a time. Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt), add alternately to batter with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Add vanilla and nuts. Spoon into a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan (not Bundt/fluted pan, it won't hold all the batter). Bake at 325 for about 1 1/2 hours. Cool. Remove from pan and cover with caramel icing.

Icing
1 1/2 c. light brown sugar (I used a little less)
1/2 c. margarine
1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar (I used a little less)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk

Combine brown sugar, margarine and salt in saucepan. Bring to a boil, add milk and boil slowly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Add confectioners sugar and beat until thick enough to spread.

I made one batch of icing and it slid off the sides (what?) of the cake. So thanks to Google, I found out I had too much sugar in the icing. I patched the icing I had on the top of the cake then I made another batch, but I halved it and backed off a little on the sugars. It was perfect, the icing stayed on the sides this time.

We ate the cake and immediately went into a diabetic coma (just kidding, it is really sweet though). It was amazingly good. I took it to work and not a crumb was left.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Next post: fall decorating.

Thanks for reading!
Melissa

Sunday, October 8, 2017

What's Lidl Like?

Hey Readers! Happy weekend!

Lidl in Gastonia/Grand Opening Day photo cred: Gaston Gazette
Whenever something new comes to town or close by, we have to check it out! A new Lidl (rhymes with needle) grocery store opened up ten days ago in Gastonia and one in Shelby. Tim and I decided to check out the Gastonia location last weekend and then we went back again yesterday for a Date Night destination. For the curious, here's my impressions about Lidl and these are my opinions only, I wasn't compensated by Lidl.

So Lidl is a large discount grocery store with the prices about the same as Aldi. They have the weekly specials or "new surprises" including a larger selection of clothing. I noticed Heidi Klum's Esmara brand of clothing there. They also run Super Deals which are deeply discounted prices and Fresh 5 which is discounted produce and meat, with some discounts running for 4 days, and some for 3 days.

The biggest draw for us was the bakery! Oh my goodness, the pastries! The bread! The vegetable quiches for .99! We got a box of pastries last week and here's what we got this week, clockwise from top left:

Hazelnut filled croissant, .99 each; cinnamon pinwheels, .59 each; white chocolate macadamia cookies, .59 each; maple pecan braided pastry (this is SO GOOD), .99 each. Not pictured-pretzel rolls, .59 each; Vanilla & chocolate twist pastry, .99 each; apple turnover, .99 each. The bakery selection is about 1/2 pastry, and 1/2 bread. We haven't tried the loaf breads yet but it all looked good. I was eyeing the olive ciabatta bread which also comes in jalapeno.

I grabbed a box of decaf k-cups last week, those were $4.29 for a box of 12. I'm drinking a cup now after eating 1/2 a maple pecan pastry, and it's really good and strong. They had a good selection of k-cups, most under $4.00. I'm going to try the donut shop blend next. As a special next week, they will have a box of 36 fall flavored k-cups for $9.99. Flavors are pumpkin spice, apple crumb donut, cinnamon roll, and pecan pie flavors. I'm not a fan of pumpkin spice or apple, I'm a peppermint kind of gal so I'm going to hold out for a holiday flavored box.

The big door buster specials we were wanting to buy were mostly out of stock. Mom sent me with a list to get block cheese for .72, pizza for .99, sweet potatoes for $1.49, and 100 oz. of laundry detergent for $2.64. The only item that was in stock was the sweet potatoes. I noticed there were empty shelves for the door buster specials, including raisin bran for .84 and a sewing supplies box for .99.  I'm thinking it's supplier growing pains since Lidl just came to NC and everybody wants to get in on the discount grocery action. The specials start on Thursday and run through Wednesday, so I suggest going on Thursday. Hopefully the supplier issues will resolve. They did have lots of items in stock aside from the big specials, and the produce looked really fresh.

So I grabbed the bag of sweet potatoes and a gallon of milk for Mom (since Camden drank all her milk last night, ha!) for $2.19. I noticed yesterday Aldi dropped their price of milk to $2.17, just saying. Tim got a gallon of chocolate milk for $2.19. We picked up a dozen eggs for .36, a Lean Cuisine Marketplace meal for $2.50 and I pay close to $3.30 for the same thing at Bi Lo. Tortilla chips for .95, avocados for .49 each. We got a bottle of Moscato wine last weekend for $3.99, I believe. It was good, I would definitely buy it again. Picked up another bottle of sweet red wine for $4.99, we haven't tried that yet. Tim bought a big package of St. Louis style ribs last weekend and he seasoned them and we had those for lunch last Sunday. They were GREAT! I wish I could find our receipt from last weekend but it was good deals.

The store was really clean, despite the throngs of people coming through there. Lots of employees were around, cleaning and putting out stock. There was more than two registers open, which is a gripe of mine about Aldi. The restrooms were clean, even at 8:30 pm on a Saturday night. I thought it was kinda cold in the store, so dress accordingly if you are cold-natured.

I'm thinking Lidl will give Aldi a run for its money. This store in Gastonia is right down the street from Aldi! At Lidl, you don't have to pay for your grocery cart and they have the little carts and the regular size carts, plus the mini carts with the flags on them for kids to push/run into you with. Like Aldi, paper bags are .07 and you can buy plastic and resuable bags too. Or you can do like us and grab a cardboard box, more sturdy that way. The prices were comparable for some things but really lower on other items. Lidl offers coupons through their app, such as .50 off a bottle of barbeque sauce.

We want to check out the Shelby store soon and see how that is. Overall, it's a very nice store to be a discount grocery store with much more square footage than Aldi. If I'm ever in Gastonia or Shelby, I'd definitely make a point to drop by but maybe not take a special trip just to go, unless it was a super discount special. Click here for the write-up from the Gaston Gazette with much more information.

Y'all have a great rest of the weekend, stay dry, and I'm going to see what else I can sample from the pastry box before Anna and Camden get a hold of it :)

Until next time,
Melissa

Monday, September 25, 2017

Body Like A Backhoe

Hey Readers! How's it going? School has started and life is hectic, yet manageable.

One way I like to unwind after a crazy day is by listening to music. I've been hearing "Body Like a Back Road" by Sam Hunt on the country stations lately. Except I thought he was singing "Body Like a Backhoe" (I have a bad case of Chronic Lyricosis). The lyrics talk about going "15 in a 30, I ain't in no hurry, imma take it slow just as fast as I can." Have you ever been behind a backhoe on a country road? Isn't that what the song is about? Comparing his woman to a backhoe? Uh, no. But I still love the song even though it's about a back ROAD and not a backHOE!

Have a good laugh at my expense!

I'll post a recipe next time for a caramel pound cake that I made for Tim's birthday. I will be the size of a backhoe if I don't stop eating sweets, but it was SO GOOD!!

Y'all have a great week!
Melissa

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My New Red Hot Machine!

Well, I finally pulled the trigger and bought myself a Kitchenaid stand mixer! I follow a wonderful couponing/deals site, Southern Savers, and they had this as a featured, one-day only deal with Best Buy last week. It was at an amazing price, almost in the Black Friday Deal price range, so I snapped one up.

I was stalking ups.com today waiting for it to be delivered. On my lunch hour, I bought some strawberries, heavy whipping cream, and 10X confectioner's sugar at Ingles. I wanted to be prepared to make something with my new toy so after supper tonight, I made homemade whipped cream and served it with the strawberries. So easy! Here's the recipe I used: Homemade Whipped Cream from myfrugaladventures.com.

Now to decide what accessories, if any, do I need? Hmmm....maybe a smaller bowl. I'll see how much I use the mixer outside of making things to bake (and I love to bake!) then try to justify getting an accessory, like the pasta maker or spiralizer, which does look pretty cool. How about the ice cream maker? That's nifty too.

I'll keep checking Southern Savers and if they run a super sale on the mixers again, I'll post it on Facebook and on here. I love a great deal!

Y'all have a great evening, it's kick-off time for the Panthers pre-season game! Go Panthers!

-Melissa

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New Nails!

For the first time in my many years of living on this Earth, I have grown out my fingernails! It is such a new experience for me to have long nails and get manicures! I have gotten all of two manicures in the past month and many people have commented on how my nails look and if they are real. Yes they are real and they are spectacular, ha!

My supervisor had an American manicure and I liked how it looked. An American manicure is a white tip, not chalk white, but still white, with clear top coat and a rounded shape. The French manicure is more bright white tip, cut straight across, with light pink top coat. For my birthday present to myself, I got a gel American manicure and I loved it! I used Funny Bunny by Essie for the tips. My nails grew so much and aren't breaking. It lasted for 3 weeks and then it was time for a change.

The next time I went with a color and I picked a hot pink color, "Mad for Madness Sake" by OPI. I love it! It's a gel polish and it looks great. I even bought the lacquer version for my toenails. Here's a photo, and I'm not a hand model obviously! This is with 2 weeks of wear and it's my natural nails.

I think I will go back to an American manicure this next time, maybe not do a gel polish, just a regular polish. With a gel polish, you have to put your hands under a UV light so the polish will set. The polish is very durable. You also can't take off the polish with regular fingernail polish (ask me how I know). You have to go back to the nail salon and soak off the polish. Sneaky way for the salon to get you coming in every 3 weeks for a polish change!

One of these days I'm going to spring for a pedicure, my feet got all beat up when we would walk down the beach on vacation a few weeks ago.

Readers, have a great week! More blog posts to come later this week!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

6 Foot Tall Women

Anna is now 15 years old. Time still marches on, whether we like it to or not! Wasn't she just 7? And Monkey Boy 4? More about Monkey Boy Camden in a later post. This is a funny one about Anna.

So one thing about me is that once I am in bed, I like to STAY in bed. Just me, my Amazon Fire Tablet, and choice of social media. I am not a happy person if I have to answer questions, find something that has suddenly gone missing, put Monkey Boy back to bed, etc. 
But as much as I hate getting out of bed, Anna hates getting out of the tub! Here's proof from Monday night.

So I'm in bed, catching up on everyone else's life online and Anna is in the tub. It's about 10 pm. Anna calls out "Mom....MOM....MOM!!!" Ignoring her doesn't work so I holler back:
Me-"What is it? Don't wake up Camden by hollering" (oh the irony since I'm hollering too)
Anna-"Come here!"
Me-"Just tell me, I don't want to get out of bed!"
Anna-"It's a question!"
Me-"Tell me!"
Anna-"It's a long one, just come here!"

So I grudgingly get out of bed, thinking this better be a good question! I go in the bathroom and she says.....

"Have you ever met a 6 foot tall woman?"

REALLY YOUNGIN'! You got me out of bed for THAT?! As irked as I was, I immediately started laughing from the randomness, which is so typical of Anna.

Me-"Yes, as  matter of fact, I have. There were some really tall women's basketball players that lived in my dorm and one girl was 6 feet tall." 
Anna-"Did you know Taylor Swift is 5 11? There's a photo of her and Ellen and Ellen is really short compared to her!"
Me-"I bet it was Photoshopped and I bet I'm going back to bed now!"

We'll tag this one as #lifewithteenagers 

Until next time,
Melissa