Three Things

While I tend to write about what’s going on in our family in some of my regular posts, I thought I’d write a Three Things post to dive a bit deeper into what’s been going on in our family.

Red plate tradition – great report card & completion of Science Fair project
  1. Hayden’s sport right now is basketball. I guess we are halfway through the season. While this appears to be a “growing year” for his team, I enjoy watching him play 🙂 Believe it or not, baseball season is right around the corner.
  2. Hayden’s still basking in the glow of Honorable Mention on his Science Fair Project. I think he’s secretly patting himself on the back—he did enough to get the special certificate and medal, but he doesn’t have to go through the interview process again at the district level…He’ll let Hadley do that. haha
  3. Hayden loves to read. He just finished the book Hatchet, and he loved it. He finished it Monday night…and was probably up a little too late for a school night, but the kid loves to read and couldn’t wait to tell us all about the book.
Red plate tradition- for great report card, dance tryout, & completion of Science Fair project
  1. As mentioned in previous post, Hadley’s science project earned her a spot in the district’s Science Fair next month. She also just started Academic Team at her school. Hadley loves the social aspect of any team, activity, or hobby. Girlfriend loves to talk and make new friends.
  2. Hadley tried out for dance in the Gifted and Talented program at her school, and she made the cut. I’m still not sure what all it entails, but she was excited to try out, I was nervous for her (I’d never tell her that!), but, of course, we’re proud of her for pushing herself to try out!
  3. Hadley’s become quite the baker. On Monday, we were making a brownie/cookie mix from a box. She got all the ingredients out, and then said, “Mom, we are working on fractions in math. Let me see if I can do this on my own!” I gave her minimal guidance, and we all enjoyed a delicious dessert!
  1. The horse business continues to keep Travis busy. Also, he’s one of the asst. coaches on Hayden’s basketball team. I do think Hadley misses him coaching her team…maybe next year?
  2. Just when I was back in the swing of things at school, I got sick. I’m getting back in the groove again this week. Also, I’ve made it a priority to get back on track with my intermittent fasting and meal tracking… I’m taking it slow getting back to working out, but will do so next week.
  3. Homer—is a full. time. job! haha. I always say, “Thank goodness he’s cute!” He finds any muddy spot we have in the yard, continues to chew the tv remote, destroys homework, and even pulled the toilet paper roll down the hall recently!!

That’s a little recap on what we’ve been up to lately. The month of January has definitely felt slower compared to November and December. We’ve watched movies as a family, been able to sleep in a bit, and I’ve kept up with my reading. I’ll take it while it lasts!

I hope you are having a great week.

Take care,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Life Lately

Happy Monday! Long time, no talk! Because…the flu tried to kill me! I was so sick last week…I even missed the entire week of school. Hadley was sick as well for a couple of days. I think she shared her germs with me 😉 I’m feeling much more like myself, but very thankful for this 3 day weekend to get back on track with life while continuing to get my energy back as well.

Before I got sick, sweet Travis threw me a surprise 40th birthday party on Saturday, January 11. I was shocked; I had no clue. At all. I was genuinely touched at the friends and family who were at the Bear and the Butcher (one of our favorite places) to help celebrate.

When we got home that evening, Travis said he’d been planning it for weeks, and of course wanted to include as many friends who have been in our lives through the years. I so appreciate his thoughtfulness!

Me with Travis, long time friends and our sweet sitter, some of my “mom” friends who are the best, and my neighbor friends. I’m so blessed.
Travis and I with some of the best long time friends!
My brother, sister-in-law, myself and Travis

I’ve felt pretty indifferent about turning 40, but I did have a few goals for myself before turning the big 4-0. This past year, I focused on finding a church home for our family, and I feel like we’ve found a place that’s a great fit for us. Also, starting this blog was another one of my major goals. My only regret is not starting it sooner!

I’m also working to find the time to make working out and clean eating a priority again. I’ve done so for the past few years, but November/December (and now the beginning of January) proved to be quite hectic and I’ve put those good habits on the back burner a bit. I do love to work out. I feel so much better while eating clean and getting exercise in 4-5 days a week. I’m going to continue getting back on track with healthy eating and get those workouts in after I get my energy back from the flu!

All last week, Travis was Super Dad taking the kids to activities and practices while also helping with homework and finishing up the kids’ school Science Fair Projects. Thursday night, I couldn’t attend Science Fair Night, but Travis sent me the pics of the kids with the good news! Hayden received Honorable Mention on his project and Hadley is moving on to the district competition. They really put in so much time and effort, but I’m the most proud of their presentations. I know both kids were pretty nervous talking to the judges on Thursday, so I’m proud of them for pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone (especially Hayden who is pretty quiet and shy) After school on Thursday, when I asked Hayden how the judging went, he said, “Good, but my face was as red as an apple!” haha

Honorable mention
Hadley – on to districts!

Sunday was a big day in our house. Since I’m from Kansas City, I’ve been a Chiefs fan for my entire life! Of course, that means both kids are too (especially Hayden—Patrick Mahomes is his fave!) We cheered the Chiefs on during the AFC Championship game, and now they are on to the Super B O W L! Hayden said, “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this!” (Me too, kid. Me too.)

(Ma) Homer! #thereisnoplacelikeMahomes
Post-victory celebration

Just watching the game, I exerted more energy than I had in the entire week. haha

That’s just a peek at our Life Lately. I hope you have great week. I’m so ready to get back into a normal routine.

Take care,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! We made it through a full week of school. We started off the week waking up with smiles on our faces and arriving to school early. We’ve ended the week sitting silently with our eyes closed while eating breakfast and then pulling up in the school car line on two wheels! The first week back to reality is always rough.

This is the first Friday Favorites of 2020 with Erika, Andrea, and Narci. Make sure to check out their posts too!

FAVORITE PIC

It’s that time of the year! Hadley and her Girl Scout troop are selling cookies. Last year, she had a *random* goal of selling 296 boxes, and she sold close to 350 boxes. This year, she has a goal of 330 boxes. She made a video for me to post on Facebook with her info about the cookies, her goals, etc. It took us over an hour to make it. At one point, she said, “I don’t know how actresses do it!” haha. She also took advantage of the great weather we were having last weekend to sell around our neighborhood. She’s off to a great start! Hayden is always her first customer with his $4 for a box of Lemonades 🙂

FAVORITE KID QUOTE

At school drop off on Monday Hayden said, “Bye mom, have a good day,” and got out of car. Then, he turned around and said, “Wait did I give you a kiss?” So sweet of ❤️ Hayden. Thankfully, they both aren’t embarrassed by me…yet.

FAVORITE CLOTHING ITEM

I asked for both of these clothing items from Nordstrom from my mom for Christmas. She sent my birthday gift home with my Christmas gifts, and I went ahead and opened these since they were wrapped together in one box. I wore both of these (especially the fleece pullover) non-stop over break. I loved the pink sweater so much that I ordered it in gray as well since it’s on sale.

headless photos as usual 🙂

FAVORITE FOOD

We’ve tried to get back on track this week with grocery shopping and meal planning. BUT the kids (especially Hayden) can’t quit my new mom hack (courtesy of Living with Landyn). I usually have cinnamon rolls on hand for Saturday or Sunday breakfast since they take awhile to bake. But, now I use my new mini waffle maker to squish individual cinnamon rolls one at a time (2 minutes and one roll is smooshed waffle style). Hayden has eaten these all week long for breakfast.

FAVORITE MOMENT

The kids’ favorite moments this week have probably been every day after school as they’ve had friends over who don’t have an after school sitter this week. While our sitters have watched them, they’ve done a good job about all of them getting their homework completed, but then they have a friend to play with on Xbox or outside.

I loved going to my school’s basketball game on Tuesday. It was a crazy evening with Travis working late and both kids having their own practices, but we met up at school to cheer on my school’s team to victory against a cross town rival.

BUT…I can tell you, hands down, my favorite moment will be this weekend when we have finished not one, but two, 4th grade science projects! I’m ready to wrap this up!

FAVORITE MOM MEME

Why do I have to raise my voice for anyone to take me seriously?! #forrealtho

Extra fave: FAVORITE AMAZON GIFTS

I’d seen a few blog posts about this Amazon cardigan, and I decided to buy one for my grandma as a Christmas present. When it arrived, I loved it so much, I told Travis it’s what I wanted for Christmas too! I love to wear my robe, but figured this may be more presentable at 5pm. It’s soft and warm which is always a great combo.

Last year, I got my kids these Paint by Number sticker books from Amazon. They received a few more from my grandma for Christmas. I probably love these more than the kids do. Each page has a numbered picture with correlating stickers. They are perfect for a long car ride or just a fun way to be creative without a mess!

As always, thanks for reading! I hope you have a great weekend!

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Let’s Look

I always love the Let’s Look link up with Shay and Erika because it’s always fun to get a sneak peek into other people’s lives. For the first Let’s Look of 2020, it’s a peek at your bedside table.

I try to keep my bedside table tidy, but our master bedroom is pretty small, and there’s only a bedside table on my side. So, that means my things (books, phone, framed photos) as well as other items like coasters and tv remote occasionally pile up.

The Last House Guest and Meg & Jo are what I hope to read next.

It’s no secret that I love to read, so I usually have a couple of magazines and books as well as my Kindle on my bedside table. Every morning, I put my Kindle back in my purse for the day in case I have a free moment to read.

I’m currently reading The Hate U Give in hardback and A Woman is No Man on my Kindle.

I also have two picture frames on my bedside table that have been there for years and years. I have one of our wedding photos that’s almost 15 years old! I remember when the photographer told us to pose like we are, she said, “This pose will feel awkward and cheesy, but it’s always a great photo.” And…she was right! It’s always been one of my faves.

The other picture frame is a Twice as Nice frame that someone gave us at one of our baby showers over 10 years ago. Each year, I put the kids’ school pictures in it. I just updated the pics recently, and it’s always a fun walk down memory lane seeing pictures from when they were babies until now.

Books/Kindle, 4th grade school pics, and a framed wedding photo

I try to keep the bedside table tidy by putting the remote, coaster, and my ChapStick in the top drawer until needed. That being said, the two big drawers are a hot mess of pictures, kids’ artwork, cards, etc… Like many things in life…looks can be deceiving. Nice and tidy on the outside. Disaster on the inside. haha

Next month’s Let’s Look is about your winter wardrobe. I’m actually going to post a few faves in Friday’s upcoming post.

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts and have a great Wednesday.

Take care,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Monday Meals: Buffalo Chicken Tortellini

Happy Monday! I thought I’d start the week off sharing one of my family’s favorite meals. I got this recipe off a Kroger coupon pack years ago. It’s super simple and delicious.

Plus shredded chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (20 oz) refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1/2 cup jarred Alfredo sauce
  • 2 Tblsp Buffalo-style sauce (I actually use a little less because I’m not a huge fan of super spicy)
  • *4 cups cooked chicken (diced or shredded) (safe internal temp 165 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced, divided
  • *For a few years, I’ve used Shay’s tip for perfect chicken (Poach chicken in slow cooker by covering chicken with water (usually 6 c) and cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours) Then, I just pull the chicken out of slow cooker and it easily shreds.

Instructions:

  • In a medium stockpot, cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.
  • Return pasta to pot. Add Alfredo and Buffalo sauces, chicken, 1/4 c Parmesan and white parts of scallion. Toss; add reserved pasta water and toss again, cooking until heated through.
  • Divide between four bowls; garnish with scallion greens and remaining 1/4 c Parmesan. Serve immediately, refrigerating any leftovers.

Easy. Delish. Enjoy!

Have a great week.

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Winter Break Highlights

How does school (and real life) start back tomorrow? (insert crying emoji!). We’ve had a great break. Holidays, traditions, games, family outings, house cleaning, oh my! I thought I’d share some of what we did with some of our time off!

Family Time

Besides family time, I can honestly say the #1 highlight was having Travis home for over a week and a half. The down time was nice and so was just having the balance of kids and parents for fun times as well as getting s#!@ done times too! No alarms were set, no real agendas, and the understanding that we needed to use our off time wisely as far as productivity and relaxation were concerned. Travis is the hardest working person that I know. On top of that, he loves his job more than anyone I know. Also, the blessing and curse of a cellphone is he’s always available and can still work from home. Like me, it takes awhile for him to relax and have downtime. So, for him, having that time off was better than he probably realizes for all of us. The night before he went back to work he said, “I don’t think I’ve ever had this much time off work!” Not sure if he meant that in a good or bad way. 😂

Christmas

We had a great Christmas at home and spent a couple days after Christmas purging the house and getting organized. Travis and I even rearranged our bedroom, and I love the new set up.

Reading

I wrapped up reading holiday books and started a couple new ones over break.

I started The Hate You Give and A Woman is No Man. I felt like I might get my English teacher card revoked if I didn’t read The Hate You Give. I know it’s a pretty popular book for high schoolers, so I checked it out from my school library. I started A Woman is No Man based off a book review from Shay. Both are pretty heavy reads considering the amount of light reading I did in December.

Out to Dinner

We went out to dinner a few times over break. It was nice not planning dinners as much and just kind of going with the flow. We started break taking the kids to pick out gifts for each other followed by brunch at one of our favorite places: Winchells.

One night we went to dinner as a family at Drakes. I joked that Hadley lives a blessed life because she ordered the salmon (with a side of tots!). She could eat her weight in salmon.

The kids had lots of time with the cousins and we went out to dinner a couple times with them for Mexican food at El Tapatio and then burgers (and grilled cheese) at Oscar Diggs last week.

Activities

My most favorite activity was not setting an alarm 🙂 followed by purging the house and getting it somewhat organized.

We also played some games as a family including a new one: Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza.

We also went to the movies. Travis and Hayden saw the Star Wars movie while Hadley and I went to see Frozen 2. Good reviews from all of us in regards to our movies.

Last week, we went bowling with the cousins and ate pizza. We had a great time.

On January 1st, we gathered as many friends as we could find to complete Hayden and Hadley’s 4th grade Science Fair projects. My kids both chose activity based experiments. Next year, we are growing a plant or two! haha

Movies thanks to Disney +

I may be enjoying Disney + more than anyone else in the house. haha. I loved my afternoon naps while watching a movie or two. On Disney +, I watched my all time favorites: The (original) Parent Trap and Swiss Family Robinson. I also watched Turner and Hooch and While You Were Sleeping. Before Christmas, Hayden and I watched A Christmas Story. At some point over break, I also watched Home Alone.

As a family, we watched The Mighty Ducks (DVD) and Cool Runnings (Amazon) because they aren’t on Disney + yet.

Blog Posts

Most bloggers whose blogs I read took these last couple of weeks off. I was kind of random with my posting, but since I had extra time here and there, I continued to post sporadically.

Two of my favorite posts were: 2019 memories and Homer’s DNA results.

A few photos from break

Once the holidays were over, I didn’t take too many pics, but here are a few.

Bottom middle: Hadley with her salmon and tots! #blessedlife
Science project helpers, ringing in 2020 at home, my charcuterie plates were basically a daily meal, and fun with cousins at Oscar Diggs

Final weekend of break

With such a late date to return to school, all of the activities started back up this weekend. Both kids had basketball games yesterday, and Travis and I did squeak in a date night last night. Today involves more Science Fair work, volleyball, indoor soccer games, grocery shopping, lunch packing, etc. #Imcryinginacornernow

basketball and date night beverages

All good things must come to and end. We had a pretty great couple of weeks at home together….yes, there was occasional fighting, but overall, I’d see we enjoyed each other’s company. It was certainly nice to have some downtime before life gets hectic again! (well, it already has!)

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Take care,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Homer’s DNA Results and Family Tree

It’s been a good experience adopting Homer, but my type A personality has always wondered what breed(s) he is. My brother mentioned that there are DNA tests for dogs (I had no idea this was a thing). The past few months, I’ve had a few friends say they’ve done DNA tests of the dogs they’ve adopted and how interesting the results were. Most of them had mentioned Wisdom Panel as the brand they used. One of my Christmas presents was money from my dad to buy the DNA kit, so I did. The kit I bought was $50 on sale on Amazon (price is usually $80). I probably wouldn’t have rushed to purchase one, but using Christmas money made the expense a bit more justifiable. 🙂

Getting Homer’s DNA was easy, and the kit provided very detailed instructions. There were two swabs, and I used each one for 30 seconds rubbing between his gum and cheek. Then, the swabs had to air out for five minutes before putting them back in their packets. I had to get online and activate the kit. Wisdom Panel did ask how old Homer is and his weight. I sent the kit off on a Monday, received an email they had received it on Friday and about eight days later received his results via email.

We were all so excited to see the results. Based on an idea a friend had given me, I had everyone write down their top three breeds they thought Homer would be. When we adopted him, the people at Tails of Hope said he (and his brothers) was a lab mix of some sort. Our vet, from the beginning, thought he may have some Husky in him.

The picture from Tails of Hope when Homer was up for adoption. I used the Pet Finder app to search for lab mix puppies within a 100 mile radius of Lexington.

Our Guesses:

Hayden: Lab, Husky, and Wolf!

Hadley: Golden Retriever, Yellow Lab, and Husky

Travis: Lab, Husky, Heeler

Me: Lab, Golden Retriever, Shepherd

The Results:

  • 25% American Staffordshire Terrier (I hadn’t even heard of this type of dog!…and I always thought all terriers were small in size!)
  • 25% Great Pyrenees (Once I clicked on the pic of this dog type, I could totally see it in Homer…and it must be where he gets his long legs…as this breed was the tallest of Homer’s mix)
  • 25% Labrador Retriever (Thank goodness he has a bit of what we were looking for in a dog! :))
  • 12.5% Chow Chow (This one still surprises me!)
  • 12.5% Siberian Husky (I guess our vet was right!)

Online, you can click on the link for each dog and it provides pics, traits, physical features, and even history about the breed.

  • American Staffordshire Terrier – Hard-working, loyal, stoic, intelligent, usually good with children, enjoy sports. Bred to guard people and property.
  • Great Pyrenees – Intelligent, watchful, generally calm (maybe Homer is easing in to this trait? haha), can be standoffish.
  • Labrador Retriever – Gentle, trusting, happy-go-lucky, good family dogs, enjoy retrieving (we know Homer knows how to do this!) and swimming.
  • Chow Chow – Loyal family dog, reserved, wary with strangers, independent spirit, bred to guard people and property.
  • Husky – Intelligent, hard-working, active, social, friendly, do well with children, energetic, stubborn, long history of helping humans, engage in digging and chasing wildlife (after reading about digging and chasing wildlife, I think Homer should have a higher percentage of Husky in him! haha) Also, cute story–Hadley was reading about each dog and the history/traits…for Husky, it said they are used to herd reindeer. Hadley said, “How hard can it be to herd reindeer?” I looked at her like, “Huh,” and she said, “There are only eight reindeer. I guess nine if you count Rudolph!” So sweet.

Family Tree

The family tree showed both parents, grandparents 1-4, and great grandparents 1-8.

Parent 1: Terrier, Lab; Grandparent 1: Terrier; Grandparent 2: Lab; Great Grandparents 1 and 2: Terriers; Great Grandparents 3 and 4: Labs
Parent 2: Pyrenees, Chow Chow, Husky; Grandparent 3: Pyrenees; Grandparent 4: Chow Chow and Husky; Great Grandparents 5 & 6: Pyrenees; Great Grandparent 7: Chow Chow; Great Grandparent 8: Husky

I’d say Homer is a sweet mix of all of these breeds. He’s loyal, intelligent, energetic, happy, independent, stubborn, watchful, active, and social. He’s a handful, but we love him. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a puppy, so I think I’ve forgotten what that takes, but he’s worth it (most days!) Sometimes, I feel like we are still getting to know each other. I’d say I feel that I was always the most attached to Shiloh and Scout. Now, I joke that there are four of us and I’m probably fourth in line to love Homer. (haha)…probably because, at times, he’s like having ten toddlers, and he’s one more thing for me (us!) to take care of.

That being said, it was my idea to get him….it’s just in me to know the love, loyalty and joy a dog brings to a family…and I know the time and will come when he quits destroying things (that time is going to come, right?), stops putting his paws on the counter, and will eventually leave dead birds outside (right?!).

He’s a good one though…and it’s been great for my kids to have a dog at their age to help and play with while also learning about the responsibilities it takes to own a dog.

Special shout out to Travis who walks him daily (the kids help sometimes too as an after school chore) and takes care of him when he’s driving me crazy.

I think the DNA kit does help give us a better understanding of our sweet, handful of a pup as we continue to get to know each other.

And, while he does drive me bonkers sometimes, I think it’s sweet that he wants to be where we are and as close as possible to us at all times. Also, he loves a routine…like every night, he hops in Hadley’s bed for a few minutes…before she kicks him out after he smothers her with his love. If she shuts the door on him before he can at least hang with her a few minutes, he whimpers and slides his paw under her door. It’s one more thing to add to our bedtime routine, but it’s Homer, so we let him have his moment.

Our sweet, playful, handful of a boy is 10(ish) months old.

Last thing, if you are a dog lover, you’d love this Dogs magazine from Life. Travis knows me so well, and it was in my stocking. It has the sweetest pictures and stories and had me tearing up from time to time.

“Dogs have given us there absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.”

–Roger Caras, A Celebration of Dogs

This is most certainly the truth. We heart Homer. (AKA: Biscuit, Pooks, Homster, Homer, stop! Homer, drop it! Homer, kennel! Homer, be a good boy!) #wehearthomer #homerisahandful

Have a great weekend.

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

December Books + TOP 5 books of 2019

Happy last day of 2019! Even with the hustle and bustle of December, I was able to read 6 books this month! That being said, my first book, I started reading right around Thanksgiving and had the nine hour car ride home from KC combined with some extra time after Christmas to read as well.

I technically have a Good Reads account, but never really keep up with it. Instead, I have a note on my phone (I know, really high tech) with books I want to read (the list is getting too long) and then books I’ve read (2018 and 2019). When I looked at my list of the 40 books I read this year, my top 5 jumped right out at me! So, I thought I’d share those as well.

But first….the books I read in December.

I’m so glad I chose to read holiday books during this time. With the craziness of Christmas, I love the twinkle of the lights on the tree, peppermint mocha creamer, and the days getting darker earlier (I know, I’m weird). So, reading holiday themed books during this month, just helped the coziness creep in even more to offset the craziness of this time of the year.

One Day in December

This book was a sweet little read. It had been on my list for awhile, and I decided to start the month with it. The main character Laurie sees a man out the bus window and feels an instant connection. She then is on a mission to find him while not knowing his name, where he lives, etc. She ends up being reunited with Jack but not the way she would have preferred. The story follows the friendship and relationships of Laurie, her best friend Sarah, and Jack for over ten years…and I love how the month of December is a timeline reference throughout.

The Winter Street Series

  • Winter Street
  • Winter Stroll
  • Winter Storms
  • Winter Solstice

I get so many awesome book ideas from Mix and Match Mama and she had mentioned this series at some point. I had decided to at least read the first two. Then, another favorite (food) blogger, Bev Cooks, shared on her Instagram Stories that she was going to read all four of the books before Christmas. After reading the first book, I was hooked….and just kept chugging along while adding the next book to my Kindle. These books are fairly short, so they were easy to read somewhat quickly. Plus, I just fell in love with the Quinn family.

Like any big family, there are ups and downs, chaos, and celebrations. The Nantucket setting at Christmastime for each book, ties them together. Since I read each book back to back, the plot lines are all so intertwined. Overall, Kelley Quinn and his wife Mitzi run an inn on Nantucket. Each December, there’s a Winter Stroll through town. Kelley was married to Margaret for many years before Mitzi. Margaret is a CBS anchor and with Kelley, they have three adult children. With Mitzi, Kelley has a son named Bart who is a prisoner of war. Again, there are ups and downs, strained relationships, blended families, imprisonment and more. I seriously teared up at the conclusion of this series. I was sad to say goodbye to the Quinn family.

Christmas in Paris

This was a cute read with such a picturesque setting. Who wouldn’t want to visit Paris at Christmas time?

Isabel has canceled her wedding but decides to go on her honeymoon in Paris. While there, she meets Alec who also had wedding plans dissolve. Alec shows her around Paris, and they meet a fortune teller who tells Isabel she will meet and marry a French aristocrat. Isabel has been so unlucky in love that she’s adamant in pursuing whatever it takes to see those “dreams” come true.

This is a charming and light hearted read which was a perfect way to wrap up my December reading.

Top 5 books of 2019

Books #5 and #4 I read in January. I started the year off right! Actually, I ended 2018 reading on a high note. The Dinner List was the last book I read in 2018, and I loved it. (So, there’s a bonus reading recommendation if you’d like one.)

#5

All Your Perfects was a tough read. I remember picking this book right off the shelf of the library, reading the back, and thinking it would be a good book. BUT once I started to read it, such a main emphasis was on infertility and how it can impact a marriage. Since I’ve dealt with infertility , it piqued my interest and that part of the plot drew me in. Quinn and Graham had a great marriage and all the dreams in the world as any freshly married couple has in the beginning. As time goes on, the strain of infertility and the wondering of what the future holds gets to them. The book is structured in past and present which is a clear delineation in their happy and sad times. As a couple, they struggle to communicate. Quinn feels the grief and shame of not being able to start a family (I can relate). It’s not that Graham isn’t always there for her. It’s just that as a woman, she bears the burden on her own and they feel and process the devastation in their own ways. Honestly, the ending wasn’t what I expected, but I could appreciate why Hoover ended their journey the way she did.

If you are in the thick of infertility, it may be too soon to read this book, but Quinn and Graham and their relationship were certainly relatable.

This book hooked me from the beginning, had me in tears throughout, and definitely provides a perspective on a topic that very few people talk about.

#4

Swear on this Life was the first book I read in 2019. My goodness it was so good. Emiline is a writing instructor. She reads a book about two best friends, Emerson and Jackson, who are childhood sweethearts living in rural Ohio. Emerson has a very tough childhood and life and as Emiline reads the book, she realizes it bears a resemblance to her own upbringing. She then realizes the author, “J. Colby” must be Jase her childhood sweetheart. So, of course, she must find him and confront him for telling her story.

This book was so good, and I read it so quickly! I definitely recommend it.

Books #3-5, I’ve actually written about in my monthly book reviews, so I will share those posts as well.

#3

Ask Again , Yes was so amazing. The lives of two families over decades and how time can heal wounds made this book such an interesting read.

#2

Bread and Wine was an inspiring mix of food, recipes, stories, friendship, and nourishment (both for body and for mind).

#1

I put off reading Where the Crawdads Sing because I felt like everyone was reading it. I finally borrowed it from a friend to read on vacation; I read it in two days…and didn’t want it to end. For me, it had a To Kill a Mockingbird feel to it which is one of my favorite books of all time. Kya, “Marsh Girl,” is a fighter and a survivor and an outcast in her society. I loved the setting of North Carolina and Owens certainly paints a picture of that part of the country. The symbolism, the imagery, the characters, the plot, and the lessons learned made this book one that I will never forget…and I’m sure I will read it again.

One more bonus book—Verity by Colleen Hoover was a page turner!! I read it on vacation as well and a review of it is in the link above.

I can’t believe I’ve only been blogging a few months and that this is the last post of 2019. Thanks for following along on my journey. I hope you find a book or two that you’ll love. What was your favorite book that you read in 2019?

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Monday Meals- Major’s Lasagna and Mom's Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Happy Monday! As we close out this year, I thought I’d share two more family favorite recipes that I’ve made recently. I made my Dad’s Lasagna when my brother and his family came over for a pre-Christmas get together. I made my mom’s Twice Baked Potato Casserole as a side dish for Christmas dinner to go with ham and green bean casserole. Both are easy and delish, so I thought I’d share.

Major’s Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1.3 lb ground beef
  • 24 oz Cottage Cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • 20 oz Parmesan Cheese (I use half grated and half shredded)
  • 16 oz shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Oven Ready Lasagna
  • Dried chopped onions
  • Minced garlic
  • 2 jars Spaghetti Sauce

Instructions:

Simply make three layers in a 9×13 baking dish.

  • Sauce
  • Noodles
  • Ground beef
  • Dollops of cottage cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • Shake dried onions and garlic flakes on top
  • Sprinkle all the cheeses
  • Repeat and end with sauce on top
  • Bake 25 minutes covered with tin foil at 350 degrees and then 15 minute uncovered
  • Enjoy!

Mom’s Twice Baked Potato Casserole

I’m not sure where my mom got this recipe, but she shared it with me a couple of years ago; it’s a nice twist on regular twice baked potatoes that are a little bit more labor intensive.

Ingredients:

  • 7 medium red potatoes (I had 12-15 smaller ones this last time which worked out fine)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 3 cups sour cream (I use way less…as I’m not a big fan of sour cream)
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 green onions sliced

Instructions:

  1. Bake cut potatoes for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees in a greased 13×9 baking dish.
  2. Once potatoes are cooked, add other ingredients:
  3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and bacon.
  4. Dollop (or spread) sour cream and sprinkle cheeses
  5. Top with sliced green onions
  6. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Enjoy

You could bake in smaller dish and layer ingredients, but I’ve always just spread everything out in the bigger baking dish.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and your Monday!

Take care,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Friday Favorites: 2019: Year in Review

Happy Friday. I’ve seen a few bloggers do a Year in Review. I thought that would be a great way to take a look back on all that’s happened with my family in 2019 and share my (Friday) Favorite memories for the year

So, *warning* lots of pics 🙂 (Thank goodness for my Shutterfly app organized by months of the year). I love the idea of so many memories for the year being in one place with this post.

Like with most years, we’ve had our ups and our downs, been busy, been blessed, and made many memories along the way.

January

The beginning of January started off a little rough with both Hayden and Travis having the flu. I’ve never seen either of them as sick as they both were.

Then, both kids were excited for a snow day or two in January!

First snowfall of 2019

February

Hadley, Travis and some friends went to the annual Dads and Daughters dance. They had so much fun. (The moms all hung out that evening which was fun for us as well!)

Great group of dads and daughters.

In February, we also went on our annual Perfect North tubing day with friends.

Basketball wrapped up at the end of February with Travis coaching Hadley’s team to victory in the tournament championships. Hayden’s team made it to the Final Four of the tournament out of 20+ teams! #hardwareforeveryone

March

March started with a visit from my dad…

Unfortunately, we said goodbye to our sweet Shiloh in March as well. We still miss her daily.

March Madness (Sweet 16, Elite 8) was in KC this year and during our spring break, so we made a visit. Travis, Hayden and my mom went to the Sweet 16 game. The four of us and my mom went to the Elite 8 game. Hayden learned about the heartbreak of loss while cheering for your favorite team (from the front row!)

April

The kids stayed in KC while Travis and I went to Las Vegas for a few days.

We celebrated Easter with Trav’s extended family in Elizabethtown.

Travis and I also made time to hit up the spring meet at Keeneland.

Softball and baseball also started up in April causing us to have some kind of practice or game every night.

May

We started off May with our yearly trip to Churchill Downs for Oaks.

In May, Travis and some friends ran a two day team trail run (no thank you!), the kids continued with their softball and baseball games (Hadley’s team was the regular season and tournament champs!), we celebrated the end of the 3rd grade, and started spending some time at the pool!

We also celebrated Mother’s Day and officially joined our church.

Mother’s Day

June

I’m not sure if I even need to post any other pics for June. We added Homer to our family as he helped our hearts heal from the loss of Shiloh (and Scout the year before)

Hayden started pitching for his team which was a dream come true for him.

And…spring baseball season wrapped up.

Hadley had her dance recital in June and both grandmas were in attendance.

We celebrated the World’s Best Dad on Father’s Day!

Travis and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary in June as well.

July

In July, we celebrated Trav’s birthday with our cookie cake tradition.

Hadley had a first with a week away at sleepaway camp. Travis, Hayden and I went to the lake with friends on the 4th of July.

Hayden played summer ball for the first time ever. (It’s such a time commitment that I encouraged him told him to wait playing summer ball until he was old enough for kid pitch). He had a blast playing with friends and learned so much.

We took a 10 day trip to Florida for vacation (+ a day at Disney’s Polynesian Resort and a day at the Magic Kingdom)

August

August was my first blog post! It’s been a goal/dream of mine to start a blog. For so long, my excuse was that I was stuck on what to name the blog and finding the time to start one. Of course, after having a whole summer off, I figure it all out and started Show Me and Sweet Tea right before school started. haha. This blog has been a great creative space for me and a way to share what we are up to with family and friends near and far.

In August, my mom and gma visited to celebrate Wyatt’s birthday. We also celebrated Trav’s mom’s 70th birthday. The kids were also excited for football time in the bluegrass.

We had our annual Back to School Breakfast as the kids started the 4th grade (and I started my 18th year teaching!)

First day of 4th grade

September

September marked the start of all the fall activities. Travis helped start a cross country team at the kids’ school, Hayden started soccer, and Hadley upped her dance game from just doing hip hop to also taking a tap/ballet/jazz combo class.

October

For fall break, we went to Asheville for a few days. We spent two of the three days glamping with our friends.

We went to the orchard, carved pumpkins with neighbors, and went trick-or-treating on Halloween. I also started a new position at my school as a reading/academic interventionist.

November

In November, we celebrated the kids’ birthday #thetwinsturnten

We also went ax throwing with friends, hung out with family, and went to KC for Thanksgiving.

December

In December, the kids visited Santa, and let me take their pics for our Christmas card.

Basketball started and both kids are excited to be on the same team as their best friends.

Holiday parties

Cousin Christmas

Christmas at home in Kentucky.

2019 has been a great year. I’m thankful for two happy, active, (mostly) kind kids who love school. Travis and I are blessed with jobs we love. We have awesome family and friends, and we love our neighborhood and community.

All these pics remind me of why I’m forever tired, but also why we are so very blessed.

High five to 2019 and cheers to 2020.

Don’t forget to check out Andrea’s Friday Favorites and have a great weekend.

Take care,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea