Changing Bins, Unwelcome Bed Guests... & some Quaran-memes

June 29, 2020

Last week I finally got around to changing Elliot's clothing sizes out. I'm not a fan of the 2T bin primarily due to the lack of baby one piece rompers. 

Once you add shorts and a shirt these kids suddenly look like they're applying for college. 


In the swap I did find one of my favorite outfits from baby Harry. 

So I pulled out the camera. 

Click one - all serious baby. 

Nods, smiles, Click two. 


Here's a side by side. Same age. Same outfit. 

Harrison the cheery baby. 
Elliot the Cajun definition of cannillie. (mischievous) 


It's summer, but I think we can all agree it doesn't feel like normal summer. 

I'll still take in the slow mornings before real like starts back in the fall. Granted if I've learned anything from trying to get to church, I'm out of shape when it comes to get ready speed. 


Everyone has been boycotting yogurt. 

Mama got a good one on them though, insert yogurt popsicles. 

Guess who all was begging to make more...


In case you've wondered what socially distanced church has looked like, it's lots of quiet activities with Mom and Dad on opposite ends of a pew 


Elliot + Nutella = please someone else come clean this up. 


Birmingham Moms Collective had virtual Bloom this past week and it went really well. Even more exciting, from the trapped at home mom, was passing out swag the next day to all our local mamas! 


When I tell y'all that Elliot is beyond busy, here's exhibit A:

Found a stool and somehow tip toed himself to get the water on and play. 


Are y'all still here? 

I know I should have posted last week and this wouldn't be the case. 

My mother's school has been prepping for any potential online learning so we did a mock Zoom lesson before she presented it. 

2 things: 1 - there's a reason 5 year olds don't go to night school (attention is far gone) and 2 - God bless lower grade teachers during this mess. 


I stopped for lunch in Mississippi on my to Louisiana and got my hands on the frosted coffee everyone is talking about. 

Y'all. It's good. But it isn't a nightcap type of drink. I didn't realize the caffeine was bugging me until I was still wide awake at 2am and sleeping with my oldest octo-child. 

I honestly forgot home much noise Harrison made in his sleep, every so often I'd wake up again to either being touched or hearing him mumble. This is what initially got him kicked out of our room and into a crib. He just grunts and carries on all night. 


Now for the Quaran-Memes


Let's be honest, at this point our roads should be as pretty as Texas roads. But nope. 



It took me years to start reading last names in South LA the right way, I'm still not a pro. Now I'm in Alabama reading names wrong again. 



Don't email me, y'all know this is true. 

If you call and I don't answer, just know it's just because I can't stand the sound of a ringer... or an alarm. 

And that friends wraps up what's recently been in my brain and phone. Who knows, maybe I'll doing enough to do a river rat update this week while I'm over here in the bayou state. 

Also, expect spelling errors, this keypad is not my friend. 


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Meal Planning Monday

June 22, 2020

If quarantine taught me anything it's this... getting 3 meals a day together for these people is not my idea of fun. 

It's so little fun I didn't even blog about meal prep. 

This from the lady who lived for meal prep. 

I nearly murdered my sour dough starter and have all but told the family to eat Cheerios for dinner. More time is cute and all if you aren't the house elf to a hoard of short humans with high demands. 

Don't get me wrong, I've adored the extra time with the kids. I just don't want to feed anyone anymore. 



Monday | Grilled Burger Patty with a side salad (if there isn't a large snake in the grill)

Tuesday | Instant Pot Smothered Pork Chops with Green Beans

Wednesday | Bacon Cheeseburger Cauliflower Casserole with salad

Thursday | leftovers

Friday | Mama Ain't Cooking! 

Saturday | Headed to visit my parents for a hot second...

Sunday | ... Jeremy can fend for himself lol

Meal options outside of dinner for myself...

Protein Shake
Kodiak Cake Mug Cake (1/3c Kodiak Pancake Mix, 1 tbsp PB2 Peanut Butter, 1T mini semi sweet chocolate chips, egg, water) 
Sandwich with a salad (Aldi has a low carb bread w turkey, honey mustard, swiss) 
Dessert if I need it - cottage cheese with sugar free cheesecake pudding mix topped with blueberries
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Planning a Vegetable and Cut Flower Garden in Zone 8

June 17, 2020

It's finally close enough to time again to start planning a garden. 

Have I got a realtor? Not quite yet. 

But as soon as I land a teaching position for next year I will be working towards the house hunt. 

Let me tell y'all this though, the number 1 things I've missed the last two years has been gardening. 

Winter gardening in Zone 9 with my easy to assemble landscape timber raised bed.


In the past I planted a kitchen garden that was a long rectangle, to one end was a variety of herbs, then lettuce or cabbage, root veggies during the winter or squash in summer, whatever suited my fancy, and then my perennial strawberries. 

I loved how these strawberries just took over the far side of my garden over the years! 

One of the big items I'm looking for in a house is space to have a kitchen garden yet again, raised bed of course (again). As well as adding a cut flower space. I honestly love flowers but am not the type to splurge on buying them. What honestly seems more appealing to me is being able to water and cut them myself. 

As far as going the (and excuse the fact that I'm not well versed in lingo -  I have other gifts) landscape timber route again or more towards that 5x7 look, or whatever that cut of wood is. I do not know. It'll depend on ease of assembly, if my Dad is helping, and cost. 

The first tiny strawberry! Not long after that we started trying to keep the birds out.

What I'm most happy about is to be in Zone 8, or 7 depending on which site you ask. Either way it allows me to plant more of what I like to plant without the pain of the heat in Zone 9. Summer gardening in 9 was a beast due to the sun just burning everything, it's had to keep a garden going when the grass is scorched. Plus I will admit I'm awful at watering and that is why I tend towards a winter garden. 

Carrots just make me happy. And lemon thyme. Oh I can't wait to plant lemon thyme again! 

So, cut flower! In the past I've had your typical landscape flower beds, but I want to take it up a notch and grow a few bushes that are simply meant to be cut and brought inside. I've got some ideas, but luckily I've got time to further research 1) what I want to plant in Zone 8 and 2) what will grow best in Zone 8. 

No sense in planting anther bush just because I love it only to watch it never grow due to the zone. 


Click the photos below for a link to their websites! 


Low maintenance being the keep word here, this seems like a great list of shrubs to use and be able to cut for indoor use! 


If you like more of a wild flower look, which I do appreciate, this has some good options. I really like the style of many English gardens and how some of the flower placement feels more natural. I'm not one for a sculpted garden. This site also give a nice list of perennials and shrubs, because easy to tend is always my kind of garden! 


Here's a zone's list in case you need it. Most of the South is in Zone 8 with much of Florida and the lower areas of Louisiana being a touch more tropical. It definitely made it harder to grow coming from 8 down to 9/10 and initially thinking about gardening like my Dad does. What finally thrived was planting what I purchased at the local nursery and not a big box store. 

There are even more complicated hardiness zones if you want to get super specific. 


I love these infographics from Family, Food, & Garden about spacing and how to plant. I'll admit in the past I just planted, but there are plant species that bode well next to others. Some thought does need to go into it. 

Either way they had two great graphics on spacing and ideas for what to plant! Both images link back to their post. 


So, that's an idea of where I am mentally going with a new garden. I might even throw in a 3rd and have just herbs! It all depends on yard space. I want a garden to serve a few purposes 1) pretty 2) provide some veg and flowers, but not the sole source and 3) be a relaxing way to piddle outside after work. Watering and messing around in a garden is such a great way to not think and unwind at the end of the day. 

Two more posts I didn't link but are useful:


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My Favorite Way to Pack Food While Tent Camping

June 15, 2020

I've made some mistakes over the years y'all. 

Even though I'd read every post I could find about packing for camping I ran into one of two problems - they were either geared towards RV campers or Primitive Campers. Those worlds live on either side of "bougie tent camping" and my desire to eat real food and actually be able to keep it cold without a mini fridge. 

So after almost 5 years of tent camping I'm sharing with y'all what I've finally "perfected" for our food storage method! 



Let's start with my mistakes... 

There was the time raccoons stole everything but my kombucha... two days in a row. 

The second time we were raided even though we tied down our coolers better. But the coolers weren't well insulated and needed more ice every single time. 

There was also the times I didn't pack cheese or meat well and it became water logged. 

So all that to say... 

Tips for Keeping the Cold Food Cold & the Dry Food Dry

Cold Food Storage Tips:

1. Buy items in containers that won't take on water - for instance the baby needed milk so I bought a smaller milk jug that was all plastic. Usually the brand I buy is a carton so that wouldn't fly in the cooler. 


2. Precook as much food as you can and store in double bagged Ziplocs. Don't buy the cheap ones either, they grab water! I had one gallon bag with all of my ground beef/sausage/bacon in individual quart bags inside. The cheese was also in its own gallon bag. Hotdogs... inside a gallon bag too! 


3. Store eggs in a different container, already cracked! I usually buy a small egg carton, but that just takes on so much water. This year I began saving screw top fruit jars and such to use when camping. I cracked the eggs I would need for each breakfast, each day had a jar, and stored it in the cooler. Only one yolk had been broken in both jars after all that traveling & they were water tight! 


4. You'll notice the basket in our cooler, it came with it but I've also seen campers do this with a basket they personally added. This is where I will keep fruit or fresh veggies I don't want touching the ice directly. I also premade sandwiches, wrapped in foil, then stuffed in a gallon bag, and stored in the basket. The sandwiches stayed air tight! 


5. If you have a cooler with a divider than can be taken in and out, use it! keep meat on one side and veggies on the other. I've kept food and drinks seperate in the past but this year opted to bring a few gallons of water and not put them in the cooler at all. Instead the only drinks in the cooler were 4 kombucha and 4 ginger bears (we like to drink fun sodas and eat candy by the fire after the kids are down.). Taking the majority of our drinks out of the cooler saved a ton of room. 


Dry Food Storage Tips: 


1. Have a specific basket that will hold it all! We've got this basket that is similar to one of those big stand alone 31 Bags totes and it holds all of our dry food. 


2. Pack only what you need. I had a bag within the big bag of kid snacks, exactly what they munch on daily, each in a small snack bag so I didn't have to bring big open bags. I also buy individual chip bags, we've bought big ones in the past but if you are in a high humidity area the chips will go stale quickly. 


3. Take any sugar you need for coffee and put enough for that week of camping in small snack bags! I also bought some Mini Moos half and half for coffee this year, much better than cold storing a half and half carton. We were almost out of coffee so we took the whole bag this time, otherwise I would ration out what is needed and again... shove it in a Ziploc. My only issue with a screw top or Tupperware is that it takes up more room. 


4. Try to pack snacks that won't melt easy. Some parks will prefer that you keep food in a locked car to avoid the lovely smell inviting in the critters. Other times the heat can pose a problem. We have had trouble keeping the tent cold during the day and this can effect your food. No one likes sweaty bread. For instance, we camped in the Smokies this month, it was cooler... our chocolate bars for s'mores still melted. 


5. Last but not least, only pack what you need! Try and buy a 4 pack of hamburger buns if you won't go through 8. Or do what we did this trip and use 4 for sandwiches and bring the others for dinner one night. Try to use everything you take with you or plan to only take what you need. Sometimes it's nice to plan for just in case, but with tent camping and fitting it all into a car it is down to the inches as to what can go and what stays home. 


For instance, my absolute favorite way to pack clothing had to be nixed after having Elliot because of space. But I think I've divised a solution to getting my Sterilite 3 drawer back! 


Most importantly INVEST IN A GOOD COOLER! We didn't guy a Yeti but have the Magellan version and we have zero regrets. The locking system keeps the critters out and it holds ice so well we don't have to restock it daily. 

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That Tent Camping Life || 2017-2019

June 13, 2020

In an effort to change tags on posts and update things around here yesterday I realized something... I'm missing 3 camping trips!

So here's an updated situation all for the sake of 1) my memories and 2) having my tags correct lol!

One of my main reasons for wanting to camp, outside of all the usual camping reasons is the cost of camping allows for a more diverse vacation for our family. I'm not the cruise type. I love being outdoors. But I also enjoy seeing new cities. Tent camping allows that. 

Our kids get the joy of playing outside for a week, and let me tell you Harry is begging to go back out in the tent as soon as we get home. Plus we get to visit a new place and see new things at very little cost. The best of both worlds!

Beaver's Bend State Park | | Beaver's Bend, Oklahoma



There aren't a ton of photos of this particular trip, I find I take less pictures when we have add on people. My parents and nephew came along on this adventure. Beaver's Bend was a lovely park and the town had some great activities. These photos are of a dino bone digging place we went to. 



The only real issue we ran into on this trip, aside from Murphy's Law, was the lack of cell service in the park. Plus the water is too cold and you really don't want to swim in it. 

However, the canoe trip we took Harrison and my nephew on was amazing. Beautiful shallow water that allowed you to see everything! 


2019 was not the year of the full tent setups. We didn't do our complete kitchen simply because we took advantage of my parents being in a cabin and having hot water. 

But we still made coffee. 

These tent sites were open, and as far as state parks go they were one of my favorites. Our main concern with little boys is always getting into the poison ivy. This wasn't an issue, it could be depending on where you went, but the tent sites weren't that bad. 

The generous amount of pine trees were great for setting up tarps for the tent and rope to hang towels. 

Mckinney Falls State Park | | Austin, Texas



We did this trip with a 5 month old baby! 

I seem to recall that he did great. My only complaint tent camping in 2019 was having to bring a chair into the tent every night so I could nurse. I'm not a bed nurser by any means. 


McKinney Falls had very tight tent sights, you felt a tad separate from the other campers. That could be good or bad. 

Bad - too much brush means more critters (we were in Texas and people were seeing rattlesnakes on the hiking path, thank goodness we didn't!)

Good - I could pee outside the tent at night and not trek all the way to the bathrooms. The animal list for Austin was one of my least favorite. There are things a heavy flashlight can't swat away at 2am. 


Like I said, 2019 wasn't the year of the full kitchen set up. We also planned to eat out more in Austin anyway so that wasn't so much of a thing. However, what really kept us off of the full set was the fact that a terrible storm was predicted to come through. 

It did. 

Again, trees make a world of difference. Jeremy had attached our tarp to the ground/tent instead of the trees on this trip. When that storm (that created tornadoes, but luckily not near us) came in the tent began to "collapse" a bit. It wasn't a true collapse because it popped back up when the wind died down. 

None the less, Jeremy woke me up at midnight and we ran to the car with the kids. How children can sleep through this nonsense I'll never know. I'm just thankful we didn't end up having to hunker down in the bathrooms and actually suffer damage. 


Interesting enough, we went hiking the next day and you could see all the spaces the animals had hunkered down during the storm. 

Now hunters see this... but I hadn't and it was pretty cool. Aside from wild raccoons I haven't seen much wildlife while camping. Shocker! 


With older kids, Mckinney had some great areas to play. Ours just weren't ready or steady enough for this type of water. 



Also, a camping trip with a potty trainer is the best. At least with a little boy. 

Pee outside, leave the potty outside. 


Remember how I mentioned that we use camping to see new cities... Austin was a perfect example. Harrison had a blast at Thinkery (a children's museum). 

This nursing mama was quit happy to have very nice rooms set aside for feeding the tiny tot too! 


He was soaked by the end of this water room! 


Petit Jean State Park || Morrilton, AR



Let me go ahead and admit something to you, I had actually planned to camp at Fall Creek Falls State Park this year and the weather cancelled that trip. So Petit Jean it was, I don't think it rains in Arkansas. 

This is a great camping experience if you are able to hike. Petit Jean has beautiful hiking trails. 


We really enjoyed it, but pregnant with a 3 year old wasn't the most fun I've ever had. I seem to recall doing a full tent/kitchen set up. This was the trip that broke the coolers back though. After being raided again by raccoons we went into town and splurged on a cooler that no one could get into. 

It is actually against the law to swim in the water here, so swimming would have to happen in the camp/public pool. (with a fee each time) That was a con for me, I like a good watering hole. 

Other than that though the campground was nice, they had comfortable bathrooms within a reasonable distance from campsites, and it has great scenery. 


Oh and don't let me forget about ticks. Deer ticks are bad here so bring your bug spray! 

Lake Catherine State Park || Hot Springs, AR



There aren't many photos from this trip, but we went with our good friends from Thibodaux and had a blast. I'm slowly learning that I didn't take many photos early on in our camping adventures. 

We enjoyed Lake Catherine, it had great lake swimming and a beautiful waterfall that was a short hike away with a small enough creek/pool area that you could safely play with kids. 

The only real cons here were 1) this was our first formal raiding by the raccoons and they got us good TWICE! Our friends even got taken by some squirrels. 2) the heat was awful. 

Middle of the day napping for Harrison was tough with the heat, our AC couldn't even keep up and I ended up driving around Hot Springs with him most days so he could briefly sleep. I honestly can't remember when exactly in June we went, but this tripped has shaped my rules for tenting camping in early spring and no later than the 3rd week of June. By the 4th week of June the chance of rain and the temperatures are just too great in the South. 


This was also a trip that we went to the gardens (pictured) and the adults nearly died from heat exhaustion getting out of the place. It was all gravel and miserable with small kids in umbrella strollers. Especially since Harrison refused to take off that hooded turtle towel! 


Chicot State Park || Ville Platte, LA



This was Harrison't preliminary camping trip! We initially camped overnight in our backyard and then a few weeks later at Chicot State Park. We had to make sure he could happily handle camping before we went on our week long trip to Lake Catherine later that year. 

Since we camped at Chicot in February and just overnight I can't say much for the brush around the campsite. They have a nice fishing area and newer bathrooms. (That we didn't find until we were leaving by the way! Using the no longer in use or attended to bathrooms was an awful first experience. Live and learn.) 

We did have the mother of all raccoons walk up to our fire and basically beg for food. Seriously, I've seen much smaller dogs. 


Chicot had a small amount of flat hiking trails, not really my favorite ever. But it was a good tester camping experience. 

Whew! That concludes my comprehensive list of places we've camped as a family. Finally! I can't believe I skipped over so many trips on this blog, or at least didn't tag them well enough that I could go back and locate the post. 


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Making a Meaningful Bouquet: 7 Wedding Flower Meanings for Your Big Day

June 11, 2020

Weddings in the US are not a cheap affair. In 2016, the average American wedding cost roughly $35,000.
When you're putting forth that much money, you want to guarantee that each detail is meaningful. That even includes your floral arrangements and bouquets. 
Did you know that traditionally, different flowers hold different meanings? That's right! You can create a beautiful story with each flower you display during your ceremony and reception.
Read on to learn about 7 wedding flower meanings that can enhance your big day. 


Wedding Flower Meanings

We tend to select our wedding flowers based on our aesthetic taste. However, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find out what some of your favorite flowers symbolize!

1. Calla Lily Symbolism

These gorgeous, flute-shaped flowers are often seen in floral arrangements and boutonnieres. They are easiest to find in the summer and spring, as they are a tropical flower with roots in Africa! 
The calla lily symbolizes two things. The first is magnificent beauty, mirroring both the bride and the tradition of tying the knot. They are also considered regal, adding a royal air to your wedding!

2. Baby's Breath Symbolism

Baby's breath is a gorgeous, cloud-like flower that grows in loose bunches. These flowers do wonders to fill out a bouquet or arrangement. Because it is so popular, most florists keep baby's breath in stock all year round.
These adorably small flowers bring life to any wedding, as they signify festivity and celebration!

3. Anemone Symbolism

These unique blooms with their distinct pistils and bold petals are totally eye-catching. You can create a stunning bouquet just with anemone, alone! They tend to bloom throughout the spring, although they often have a resurgence in the late fall before the cold season sets in.
The anemone symbolizes anticipation, making them a great accompaniment to the butterflies in every bride's stomach. Some people also consider them a good luck charm that can ward off negativity--not a bad thing to have around during your big day!

4. Carnation Symbolism

Carnations are a great go-to for any bride on a strict budget. These flowers are lush, attractive, elegant, and affordable! Fortunately, carnations are in-season every month of the year.
Unlike most flowers, the meaning of a carnation comes down to its color. For example, a pink carnation symbolizes gratitude while a white carnation symbolizes pure love. Keep in mind that a multi-colored or "striped" carnation symbolizes refusal, which isn't exactly what you want to encounter during a wedding!

5. Chrysanthemum Symbolism

Chrysanthemums resemble a tightly packed daisy or petal-covered pompom. We tend to see these flowers popping up in fall weddings, although they're not hard to find in the spring and summer.
Chrysanthemums have a number of meanings, ranging from abundance to truth. The best way to sum up the chrysanthemum's meaning is with the word "joy!"

6. Daisy Symbolism

Daisies are petite, simple, and beloved. They can complete the look for any outdoor wedding, whether it's taking place on a rustic farm or up in the mountains. Spring and summer tend to come to mind when we think about these sweet flowers, although they are available all year round.
The daisy symbolizes innocence but it is also thought to prompt people to share their feelings. What better flower to have around when you're reciting your vows?

7. Hydrangea Symbolism 

Hydrangeas are almost like the mother of baby's breath! They're round, cloud-like, but completely full-bodied, making them perfect for centerpieces and altar decorations. Like carnations, hydrangeas are affordable and available every month of the year.
Hydrangeas are a wonderful symbol of what marriage is all about. They mean both perseverance and strong emotions--two things that keep a marriage going!

Flower Color Meanings

With the exception of carnations, most flowers maintain their symbolism regardless of their color. However, colors also possess certain symbolic meanings. Pick the perfect flower and color combination to express exactly what you're feeling on your wedding day!

Red

Because of holidays like Valentine's Day, most of us know that red is the color of romance! More specifically, red symbolizes love and passion.

Purple

If being a bride makes you feel like a queen (as it should), then purple is the perfect color for you! Purple symbolizes luxury and has long been considered the color of royalty and wealth.

Pink

Like red, pink tends to make us think of romance! Pink is the color of tenderness, emotion, care, and love. 

Blue

Blue is a cool, calming color that makes us feel truly serene. It is no surprise, then, that it symbolizes trust, faith, and stability.

Orange

Orange is a spunky, energetic color that brings life to any wedding, especially fall weddings! Orange symbolizes youth, happiness, wealth, and health. As an added bonus, it also symbolizes attraction!

Yellow

Pair yellow flowers with orange and you'll create an amazing, positive vibe! Yellow symbolizes cheer, freshness, warmth, and optimism. 

Black

We know what you're thinking. Black flowers? At a wedding?
Believe it or not, you can find black calla lilies and they can look incredible in a bouquet or arrangement. Plus, black symbolizes boldness, elegance, and strength.

Give Meaning to Your Wedding Flowers

If you want to increase the power and significance of your floral choices, take some time to think about wedding flower meanings. Surrounding yourself with such wonderful symbolism can empower you and increase your joy and confidence on your big day!
For more helpful tips and information on all things wedding-related, bookmark our page and check in with us often. We're always coming up with something great!

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Camping in the Smokey Mountains!

June 8, 2020

The Ponderosa was back up this past week while I took a little blog vacay and we headed out to Gatlinburg to camp this year.

In case you are new around here, we are big ole tent camping lovers. I firmly believe that camping affords you the chance to vacation, be outdoors, and not spend a ton of money. We went years without going on vacation and finally I talked Jeremy into going camping with me (he thought I'd be an awful camper even though I grew up doing it). Here we are years later and the kids adore camping and we can see new places for very little money. 


When the kids are older the plan to do do more involved camping and see parks that are further away. At the moment just hiking a mountain with small people was stressful. Not to mention worrying about wildlife... I can't be attacked by a bear because someone dropped a Dorito.

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