Posted in Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello! Wow! I can’t believe that this time next week will be September! The month of August is always an adjustment back to reality. I feel like we are getting our feet under us now, and September means I can start burning my fall candles, so I’m looking forward to that!

I’m linking up with Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic is:

I love to cook, but I’m all about an easy dinner especially during the week.

1. Easiest dinner you make and the recipe:

The first thing that popped in my mind was the baked chicken recipe that I make at least once a month. It’s quick and can easily be paired with the microwave Bob Evans mashed potatoes or a bagged salad. There are usually eight chicken thighs in a pack which used to be enough to guarantee leftovers for dinner, but now that the kids eat more (and they love this meal!), I sometimes make two packs of chicken to have leftovers or even some for lunch.

In general, anything in the Crockpot is a lifesaver too…

2. Crockpot? Instapot? Both?

Well, I have both. I asked for (and received) an Instapot a couple of years ago for Christmas. While it is handy, and I’ve made some delicious meals, I can honestly say that I hardly turn to it for a recipe and instead rely on my Crockpot. I think I will give the Instapot one more winter, and then if I don’t use it much, I may donate it.

The Crockpot, on the other hand, I literally can’t live without. I used it to make two meals this week!

3. Are you a member of a wholesale club and fave items?

We are not a member of a wholesale club. When the kids were babies, we belonged to Sam’s Club for a couple of years. It was a handy place to pick up diapers and formula…and so many other things. I understand why people go, and I know there are so many great finds at Costco and Sam’s Club, but we don’t live close to either, and I don’t really have storage space for bulk items.

4. Do you meal prep or menu plan? Do you follow any set themes?

I always meal plan, and I sometimes meal prep. I have a calendar on our fridge, and I write down our evening activities and go from there. If there’s an evening full of activities, that’s the time I use my Crockpot, for example. I know some people do Taco Tuesday and other themes, but I don’t necessarily do that.

A perfect week would be that I make something Sunday that has leftovers for Monday. Then, Tuesday, I might make tacos or have pork loin (we love the ones you make in the bag) or fish (salmon from the fish counter that you cook in the bag) and make an easy side. Then, Wednesday would probably be some kind of pasta, casserole, or soup that provide leftovers for Thursday.

Or, Thursday often ends up being soup and grilled cheese or breakfast for dinner. Hayden (finally) mastered the grilled cheese this summer, and that’s been a game changer having him make a sandwich or two when he’s hungry.

As far as meal prep, on Sunday, I will prep a few lunches and even go ahead and put my grapes and chips in baggies, so that they are easy to pack in my lunches.

5. Best dinner tips for busy nights?

Kind of like I said above, meal planning and planning for leftovers are key for me. Again, using the Crockpot is another tip. Finally, I also make sure I have easy sides like Bob Evans potatoes, bagged salad, Bisquick or Sister Schubert rolls, and I use the Air Fryer for tater tots or sweet potato fries. Fruit is an easy, healthy side, and I make fresh green beans often (blanch in water for a few minutes, drain, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with S&P and serve! This is my kids’ fave side dish besides the BE potatoes.)

Here’s a post I wrote about a year ago with some “Quick Family Dinners”:

6. Do you use certain ingredients more in the fall?

My favorite fall recipe is Pumpkin Sausage Penne Pasta, and my family loves it.

That being said, I don’t think I really use certain ingredients more, but I lean into making chili, soups, and casseroles once the weather cools off.

7. Any back to school dinner traditions?

I’ve written many posts about back to school. When the kids were in elementary, our tradition was a cute Back to School breakfast.

For two years now, we’ve done a Back to School Brinner instead, and I love this new tradition.

8. Do you own an air fryer?

YES! We’ve had our air fryer now for almost two years, and we love it. We most often use it to cook frozen items like chicken tenders, fries, etc., but I’ve also used it for veggies, chicken and more.

9. Favorite grab and go items? Homemade or store bought?

My go to “grab and go” would be when we need dinner in a hurry, and I pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and then just serve with the BE potatoes or microwave baked potato.

The Fresh Market in town has a chicken, two sides, and cornbread muffins for $10-$12, and we get that deal pretty often too!

10. How many nights a week do you cook?

I cook (or we have leftovers) Sunday-Thursday. Usually the weekend nights are one night carry out and one night eat out.

That being said, we’ve had discussions about how “backwards” it kind of is to eat out/carry out when we have more time on the weekend. Maybe I should cook at least one of those days and save a carry out meal for a random Wednesday night! I guess it’s just the routine of it, and I do like being less structured on the weekend. During the week, when dinner is ready, you better be in the kitchen ASAP or I start getting grumpy. Just ask my kids!

Also, I should add that Travis can and will cook too! I just usually get home sooner, and I do the grocery list, so I tend to cook. He’s our grill master, that’s for sure!

What are some of your favorite fall meals?

Posted in Monthly Musings, School

Monthly Musings

Hello! How has your week been? We got back from Missouri late Tuesday, so I’ve been trying to get us back on track with all the things…unpacking, groceries, errands, and more.

I can’t believe it’s the end of the month already, so I’m linking up with Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic:

I can’t believe it but we have less than two weeks left of summer break before school starts! I’m definitely savoring these days for sure! Here’s a peek at Back to School Prep.

1. How do you get organized for the school year?

The last couple of weeks of July, I start tackling the last items on my summer “to do list” and then I really start thinking about the school year on August 1. At that point, I’ve made appointments for back to school haircuts, and we have the supply list for back to school shopping. Also, I go to my classroom and get unpacked for the year. Once that task is completed, I feel like I can savor the rest of my summer at home.

2. Favorite places to shop for back to school clothes?

Well, that used to be Target, but as the kids have gotten older, their taste has changed.

This made me laugh:

Also, I’ve always just bought one new outfit for them to wear on the first day along with new tennis shoes. Hayden usually doesn’t want anything new, so often times he just shops his own closet whereas Hadley and I may visit the mall or find something on Amazon.

3. Do you meal plan? Favorite back to school meals?

This summer, I’ve been pretty relaxed with meal planning which is a summer perk for sure! I will definitely get back to meal planning as school begins because I will have to maximize my time as much as possible.

We (maybe mostly me!) look forward to our Back to School Brinner. When the kids were in K-5th grade, I always did Back to School Breakfast, but decided to shift to dinner a day or two before school started because middle school starts later than high school rather than before like during the elementary years.

breakfast
brinner

4. What are your kids favorite things about going back to school?

I asked, and both kids had similar responses. Both are excited about getting their schedules and seeing what friends they have in their classes.

Honestly, I thought Hayden would say “nothing,” so I will take that as a win.

5. Best place for school supplies?

I very rarely go to Walmart, but they do seem to have the best prices on school supplies. We usually start there and then check Target or Amazon for anything else that is missing.

6. Any first day of school traditions?

Besides the breakfast or brinner, I always buy the kids a book to start the year. I usually get lucky and find books with the grade level they are going in. Also, we always have a back to school photo!

7. Best lunchbox tip?

Pack the night before…which we almost never do! That has to change this year! I need to pack the night before too!

8. Buy lunch? Bring lunch? Both?

In elementary school, the kids went through phases of wanting to take their lunch or buy their lunch. Last year, Hayden bought his lunch every day, and Hadley took her lunch every day. I pack a lunch every day too.

9. Does school start before or after Labor Day?

TOO SOON! I swear it feels even earlier this year. Our first day is August 10. (And, it usually is the second Wednesday in August, but it still feels too early)

I hate to say it, but “when I was a kid..,” our summer was Memorial Day to Labor Day, and I think that’s how it should be.

When we were visiting family in KC, I heard all their back to school dates on the news…and school districts can’t start until nine days before Labor Day to help with tourism in August. I feel like that’s a great idea!

10. Best money saving tips for back to school?

I always feel like all I’m doing is spending money in August. From new shoes to school supplies to school fees, and more it just feels never-ending. I do try to space out spending as much as possible. Also, school supplies will never be cheaper than they are in July/August so stock up while you can.

It’s always good to get back in a routine with the start of school, but I also always cling to summer! Time is just flying by too quickly.

Posted in Monthly Musings, Travel

Monthly Musings: Summer Travel

Hello! How is your week going? Ours has been pretty lowkey, and I’m not mad about it!

I’m linking up with Patty and Holly for this month’s Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic:

With a couple of trips planned this summer, this is the perfect topic!

1. Favorite summer destinations:

I’ve shared before, but we love Siesta Key, Florida and go there most years for vacation. We also love the Charleston, SC area, and have stayed in Isle of Palms and Folly Beach a few times through the years.

2. Warm or Cold Temps?

In the summer, I definitely prefer warm temps especially if it means my view is the ocean.

3. Are you traveling this summer? Flying or Driving?

We have both flying and driving on the agenda. We’ll be flying to Mexico soon, and then we will drive to KC to see family in July too.

4. Ocean? Lake? Mountains?

Seeing the ocean typically only happens for us once a year, so that’s always a preference.

That being said, I love a lake. It’s nice when we can float in the lake on a summer afternoon.

I do love the mountains too, but that’s usually on my radar more in the spring or fall.

5. Best travel tips to share?

Find you a Travis White who will do all the research? haha Really though, I’m not travel tip expert, but here are a few tips:

  • I make a list(s) for everyone.
  • I use packing cubes to stay organized.
  • We attempt to book dinner reservations ahead of time.
  • We ask others who have been to the location for tips and recommendations when we can.

6. Vacation budget tips?

I’m definitely not an expert on budgeting tips either, but….

We have a list of places we’d like to go, and try to budget accordingly. If we know we are going on a bigger vacation in the summer, we may go somewhere more local for only a couple of days for Spring Break.

We typically only eat out for dinner. That being said, if we have a big lunch out, we will eat dinner in. Usually, one morning we will have breakfast or brunch out, then have a lighter lunch of sandwiches and dinner at home. Of course, many of our vacations have been to Trav’s aunt’s house in Siesta Key where it feels likes home with a fully stocked kitchen and patio with grill. That’s definitely a huge help!

7. Overpacker? Underpacker?

Uh…my worst nightmare is having underpacked! 😂

I just purchased another set of packing cubes. We now have them in blue, teal, and gray. The kids and I use them the most.

Also, random, but do you follow @Bruncwithbabs on Instagram? I just saw her packing tip of using a hanging sweater (or shoe?) organizer. You hang it in your closet, and put each day’s clothes in a cube, then you can just fold it into your suitcase. When you arrive, you can just pull it out of the suitcase and hang it in the closet. I wonder if this would help me not overpack!

8. Vacation planned in advance? Last minute adventures?

Well, like I said, we usually have an idea of where we’d like to go in the summer, so those are usually planned out in advance. Fall and Spring Breaks are usually planned at the last minute since we don’t go too far away. Since we have family out of town, I usually rotate when we go there (Thanksgiving or Christmas and then usually in the summer).

9. Group vacations or immediate family?

Most the time, our vacations are with immediate family. As much as we’d like to go with extended family, sometimes it’s just too complicated with everyone’s schedules especially as my kids have gotten older.

That being said, we have a group trip planned for Fall Break with friends, and we are looking forward to it.

10. If you have them, do you travel with pets?

Before we had kids, we used to always take our Boxers, Shiloh and Scout, with us when we’d go to KC for holidays. We never took them on vacation though and use a dog sitter. We do the same with Homer and have someone stay with him when we are gone…usually for holidays too.

This post has me excited for our July adventures! Where are you headed this summer?

Posted in Monthly Musings, Travel

Monthly Musings: Vacation Planning and Prep

Happy Friday Eve! Well, it’s the last Thursday of the month. Isn’t that so hard to believe?!

That means that I’m linking up with Patty and Holly for this month’s Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic:

1. What trips/vacations do you have planned for the rest of the year?

We will take a summer vacation like usual. Since Hayden won’t be playing summer baseball, we decided to treat ourselves and splurge a bit on a vacay. We’re headed somewhere that needs a passport, and the kids are excited 😉

Then, we will go to KC to see my family at the end of the summer. I’d love to plan another quick getaway in the summer, but we’ll see.

We get a week long fall break this year, so we are thinking about going to Florida in October.

2. Best packing tips?

I’d love to say pack ahead of time, but that’s a great packing tip that I never follow. You would think my “type A” personality would shine while packing for a trip, but that’s definitely not the case.

I always have to have all the laundry finished before I start packing. As we put the clean clothes away, I hold out what we’d like to pack for a trip.

I do use packing cubes (more on that with #3), and I do think they are a great way to keep your clothes together, organized, and sorted by person.

As the kids have gotten older, I’ve started making them a list of what they need to pack, and have them do so. Then, I go through and give approval on what’s in their suitcases.

Leading up to a trip, I start a note on my phone of the random things I want to remember: book, Kindle, charger, sound machine, Melatonin, etc. I keep meaning to create a standard packing list to have on hand when we pack, but I’ve never done it. It would be nice to have a “beach” list, “overnight one night somewhere” list, and “KC” list, etc. Maybe this summer I will get to it!

3. Packing cubes. Yes or no?

Heck yes! I started using these cubes (affiliate link) from Amazon a few years ago and haven’t looked back.

Depending on how long we will be gone depends on how I divide these up. If each kid is bringing their own suitcase, I usually just give them a smaller one to hold their underwear, swimsuit, etc. Hadley has used a smaller one for hair stuff and other odds and ends.

If the kids are sharing a suitcase, they each get a color. I actually only have a gray and a teal set, but as I was working on this post, I made a calendar notification to order another set before our summer trip.

When I use them, I typically use a smaller one for undergarments. Then, I use another for workout clothes and swimsuit and cover-up. I will also use one for pjs and shorts, etc. Because I am an over-packer (more on that with #10), these do help condense what I pack. I still usually have a few things like sweaters if it’s the winter, that don’t go in a packing cube.

Travis doesn’t use packing cubes…not because he’s opposed to them but because he’s just a very efficient packer!

4. Favorite travel outfit?

I guess it may depend on the mode of travel. On an airplane, I like to wear a dress with a cardigan or denim jacket. I typically will also wear sneakers rather than pack those since I tend to have a suitcase that’s always pushing the weight limit!

In the car, I love leggings and a sweatshirt with flip flops.

5. Favorite vacation destination? Why?

I shared this post recently on some of the favorite trips we’ve been on. It’s not that we are world travelers, but it is hard for me to choose a favorite destination. If I’m going for comfort and familiarity, I love our trips to Siesta Key beach. We’ve been many times through the years, and it’s a place my entire family loves.

2020
2015

My heart belongs in Charleston! I love SC.

2018
2021

Of course, other family trips like our trek to AZ and then Cali provide such special memories.

2018
2018

If I could get to San Diego (Del Mar) easily and regularly, then hands down that would be my favorite place.

6. Have you flown since March 2020?

We have. As a family, we flew to Florida in the summer of 2020. Then, Travis and I flew to California last summer. I feel like I’ve flown another time as well, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.

7. Beach or mountain vacation?

As you can probably tell from all of the photos above…I’m a beach girl. I don’t necessarily need to get in the ocean, but I love sitting on the beach (preferably covered by an umbrella), listening to the waves crash, and reading a book.

photo cred: hadley

That being said, we love going to Asheville when we can.

8. Do you prefer to sightsee or relax on vacation?

Well, growing up with the Major provided early wake-up times when we traveled. He’d open the hotel curtains and say, “What?! I let you sleep until 7!?” haha

I always swore when I was an adult that I would just relax on vacation, and at the beach, that’s what we do. Places like Charleston have so much to offer in regards to sightseeing and the beach which I enjoy. Having kids “forced” us to sightsee a bit more. For example, Hayden’s desire to see the Grand Canyon prompted us to plan that trip…and then added on the California beach part as a compromise.

We still hope to take the kids to NYC and DC in the next couple of years as well.

9. Hotel, camping, Airbnb?

We’ve done it all, but to me, vacation means a hotel or a nice house. To be honest, we’ve been so spoiled with being able to stay at Trav’s aunt’s house in Florida, that when we stay at a hotel, even a nice one with a decent size room, I feel so on top of each other that I just wish we had more space. I guess that’s become more of a thought as the kids have gotten older.

Travis always “does his research,” and we’ve always had good Airbnb experiences.

As far as camping goes, well…I’ve only “glamped” for a few nights in Asheville. It was a great experience, and I would do it again, but that’s about as rustic as I get.

10. Overpacker? Underpacker?

I am an overpacker to a fault! I want to have all the options. To be honest, through the years, I’ve gotten really good at packing “just” a couple of pjs, workout options, etc. I still tend to overpack sweaters and dresses depending on the time of the year. I want to do better. Not to psycho-analyze myself, but I guess the fact that I’m a homebody by nature means that I want whatever it takes to make myself feel at home on vacay?

Making a list and the packing cubes both really help me at least try to rein it in.

One more thought…

This wasn’t on the list, but are you the type to unpack as soon as you get home from a trip, or do you let your suitcase sit on the floor for a while?!

Honestly, depending on the time of the year or how we traveled (car/plane), etc. determines where I fall on this. There have been times that my suitcase hasn’t been unpacked for a week. I know, it’s ridiculous. That being said, once we get home from a trip, we always make sure everything is out of the car and in the correct room. The kids tend to get their clothes put up almost immediately (per my suggestion), and I put away snacks (if it’s been a road trip), and always put away my toiletries. So that just means I’m about 90% unpacked once we return home and then my suitcase might linger for a day or two depending on if I have time. (I will say this is a character flaw that Travis wishes I would re-evalute! haha)

Shew! This post has me thinking about summer. I can’t wait for summer travel.

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

Posted in Holidays, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings: Love and Valentine’s Day

Hello! How is your week going? I can’t believe it’s already Thursday. I do feel like this week is flying by! I’m happy that Holly and Patty are continuing their Monthly Musing link up for 2 0 2 2!

It feels crazy to be thinking about Valentine’s Day already, but I guess it is just a couple weeks away.

1. Favorite Valentine’s Memory?

I don’t have a special Valentine’s Day memory that jumps out to me, but I do remember how fun it was to exchange valentines during the elementary years. I loved a class party and always thought it was so fun to exchange valentines with classmates.

I loved re-living those days when my kids were in elementary school. The kids’ Valentine’s Day boxes from a couple of years ago crack me up. Hadley was all about the bling, and Hayden just wrote his name on the box. This says a lot about both of their personalities.

2. Chocolate, Flowers, or Both?

I love chocolate…probably too much! That being said, my favorite part of holidays and birthdays has to be receiving a card. For some reason, Travis always writes my name in bubble letters on my cards. It’s now a sweet tradition.

3. Favorite Romantic Date?

We don’t really purchase gifts for each other, but we typically make a point to go out to dinner around February 14th. We do exchange cards on the 14th though.

4. Any Valentine’s Day Traditions with Kids?

I always buy the kids a little box of chocolate, a book, and a few other things. Sometimes, I purchase a game I know we can play as a family.

The past few years, we’ve had a Valentine’s Day dinner at home where we eat everyone’s favorite dinner item which means a fun mix of foods for our meal.

5. How Do You Show Love?

I get a lot of grief for not being a big hugger, but I think I show love with kind gestures and notes/cards. My “love language” is Act of Service, and I really do appreciate when Travis helps me with an errand or an at home chore that I don’t want to do.

When the kids were babies, I decided to order a card from Shutterfly to send to immediate family for Valentine’s Day. I love this tradition.

2020 card

6. Do You Decorate for Valentine’s Day?

I don’t go all out with Valentine’s Day decor, but around February 1st, I put up a few Valentine’s Day touches.

7. Do You Wear Red or Pink on Valentine’s Day?

If Valentine’s Day falls on a school day, then I will wear something red or pink. I’ve always loved having the kids wear red/pink for Valentine’s Day through the years.

I guess we are probably past that stage, but Hadley will find something festive in her closet, I’m sure.

8. Valentine’s Day—Big Deal or Small Remembrance?

I’m team “you should show your love year round,” so I just think the day is nice to celebrate small. Again, I love a card, and it’s nice, with our hectic lifestyle, to make a point to go out to dinner around Valentine’s Day. Honestly, I have loved celebrating at home through the years with the kids too.

9. Favorite Ideas for School Valentine’s Parties?

I typically couldn’t help with holiday parties as I was usually at school myself. When the kids were in elementary, I was always happy to donate baked goods or craft supplies. Again, I have fond memories of holiday parties from elementary school, so I wanted to help my kids’ teachers as best as I could.

With my kids now in middle school, I guess the days of buying class Valentines are over. That being said, for a couple of years, I used Andrea’s awesome printable Valentines. She has so many amazing ideas. Like her directions say, you just save the design and then print (I print to Walgreens) and add to whatever snack, candy or toy you are sharing.

Hadley chose the s’mores one to give to the kids in the class pod last year.

10. Have You Ever Had a Secret Admirer?

I don’t think I’ve ever had a secret admirer. Again, with my kids in middle school, I’m reminded of the fun notes and candygrams that can be sent via Student Council, and sometimes they say “secret admirer.” It’s always fun to guess who may have sent the sweet treat.

Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions? It will be here before we know it.

See you back here tomorrow for a different kind of Friday Favorites + a GIVEAWAY!

Posted in Holidays, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello! How’s your week been? I’m so happy that it’s Thursday. We are so close to the weekend!

Since Thanksgiving is next Thursday, Patty and Holly are doing their Monthly Musings link up today, and I’m joining them!

This month’s topic is: Holiday Preview 2021

1. Share your favorite holiday traditions:

We have so many favorite traditions like:

Seeing Santa,

attending Christmas parties,

and baking cookies.

We also go to the Horse Park lights, shop for the Angel Tree, and I hold on to the time honored tradition of mothers making their kids dress up for Christmas cards.

2. Do you see any holiday lights? Driving tour, park, festival?

I’ve shared before that as a kid, most holidays seasons we drove the park lights. Once I moved to Lexington, Travis and I started that tradition as well by going to Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park. The only year we’ve missed since 2004 is 2009 when we had two one month olds!

There’s also a house in Lexington that a must to drive by.

Then, last year we went to Mustard Seed Hill for the first time, and it was a fun experience.

3. Favorite holiday recipe?

We do lots of baking around the holidays, but Shay’s Peppermint Mocha Bundt Cake is my fave! I make for dessert for our Christmas dinner at home every year.

4. Must have holiday fashion staples?

I’m not much of a fashionista, but I love a plaid shirt!

2018

5. Any special or extra festive plans this year?

I don’t think we have anything extra planned. We are pretty good about traditions, but we’ll see what pops up in December.

6. Best holiday planning tip?

Make a list and check it twice! As far as gifts are concerned, I started keeping a note on my phone for gift ideas all year long. Also, last year was the first year that I shared an Amazon list with family for ideas for the kids. That worked out nicely because once a gift was purchased, it was taken off the list.

7. Favorite holiday movie?

I love watching Home Alone. I have on my list for us to watch the new Home Alone (Home Sweet Home Alone) at some point in December or even after the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

As a tradition, we always watch A Christmas Story on Christmas day. I can’t wait.

8. Die Hard…Christmas movie or not?

I’ve never seen it, so I have no clue! Randomly, when I was watch Love Hard last week, this was a topic in the movie!

9. Tree/decorations up before or after Thanksgiving?

I will let this recent picture speak for my answer!

Really though, last year was the first year I put up the pencil tree in November. This year, I put up two pencil trees, one in the sun room and one in the living room until we get our real tree after Thanksgiving.

I do try to decorate for Christmas the weekend before Thanksgiving because it takes so much effort. That being said, I’m not sure if I will meet that goal this year as this upcoming weekend is proving to be a busy one.

2020

10. Do you celebrate other holidays in December?

No, but my kids went to a pretty diverse elementary school, and during those years, their teachers would do units of study on other cultures and holidays. I always loved hearing my kids share what they learned during that time.

I love the Monthly Musing link up. I can’t wait to see how others answered too!

See you back here tomorrow for a very special Friday Favorites.

Posted in Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello and Happy Thursday! Have I ever told you that Thursdays are my favorite day of the week? I’m still very productive on a Thursday, but then I also know that the weekend is almost here as well!

Today, I’m linking up with Patty and Holly for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic is Back to School/Fall Planning. We are on week three of the school year and I’m always ready to think about fall, so I’m excited for today’s post!

1. Do you meal plan/prep? Favorite back to school recipe?

I meal plan more than I meal prep. I always plan our meals for the week on Saturday, so I can place my Kroger pickup order on Sunday. Sometimes Saturdays are too busy for meal planning and things get bumped a day, but I try my best to get organized before the week starts.

Actually, once Hayden is finished with baseball, my Saturdays will be more predictable. There are stretches of the school year where I do grocery pickup on Saturday which is my preference.

As far as my favorite back to school recipe, I’ve done muffins, fruit and yogurt for the kids on the first day of school. This year I started a new tradition with Back to School Brinner. This breakfast casserole was a hit.

I still had the muffins (made from a mix as well as some store bought ones), yogurt and fruit as well.

2. How do you buy and organize school supplies?

When the kids were in elementary school, we would take the school supply list and head to Walmart in early August. We’d actually make a day of it and get school supplies, back to school haircuts, and go out for lunch or ice cream.

This year I bought the supplies from their middle school. I figured with eight classes (and eight different teachers), I’d purchased the package deal, so we’d get exactly what the kids need.

After the first few days of school, Hadley had to help Hayden get all his supplies organized! haha

3. Any back to school traditions?

We have a few back to school traditions. Like I said, I used to have a Back to School Breakfast for the kids on the first day of school.

Now, it’s a Back to School Brinner.

Also, every year, I buy them a book for the grade their are in. It’s been surprisingly easy to find books for each grade. I haven’t looked for 7th or 8th grade books yet, but the elementary years were definitely easy to find.

Of course, there are back to school pictures before they leave for school.

4. Bring lunch? Buy lunch? Favorite lunchbox item?

Through they years, the kids have only bought school lunch to both of them bring a lunch and then even a mix in between. I’m always encouraging them to buy lunch because our district has free lunch for everyone…and it’s one less thing to do to pack lunches! The past couple of years they’ve mainly packed their lunch on their own if they didn’t want to buy.

This year, Hayden buys his lunch because middle school has a few more options. Hadley brings her lunch from home. She loves the Uncrustables (PBJ or Nutella) and usually brings fruit snacks, chips and either a fruit (She is very into raspberries right now) or a vegetable (like cucumbers!)

They don’t eat lunch until 1:00, so their teachers encourage them to bring a snack. Hayden loves Chomps, Hadley loves Cliff bars, and they both will bring snack packages of goldfish or Cheezits.

I always bring my lunch. Seriously, in twenty years of teaching, I’ve only bought school lunch on they day they serve their Thanksgiving meal!

5. Favorite thing about back to school then and now?

Even though I’m always sad to see summer go, it’s always good to get back on a schedule and get in a routine. I love the traditions we’ve started with breakfast/brinner, back to school photos, and more. In elementary school, I loved walking the kids to school on the first day.

6. Pumpkin spice – Hate or Love?

I used to love a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, but I don’t get those very often anymore. From September – November, I get by with a splash of creamer and pumpkin spice.

I love pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread.

Last fall, I made these pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies, and I can’t wait to make them again.

7. Do you decorate for fall?

I will let you be the judge of that…

Yes! Haha! I love decorating for fall…maybe even more than when I decorate for Christmas. Of course, my fall decorations are up for a couple of months, so I get to enjoy them longer.

8. How do you transition your fall wardrobe?

I wear summer dresses with a cardigan almost daily. My classroom is pretty chilly, so I like to have the cardigan layer if needed.

These are some of my favorite cardigans:

The navy one I got last fall, and I love it. It’s a bit heavier, but super soft.

The green one is one that I got a few weeks ago. It’s lightweight, so it’s perfect for the transition from summer to fall.

The pink one is one that’s in my Amazon cart right now.

All of these come in a variety of colors. So many great options!

9. Favorite fall fashion staples:

See # 8 😉

I also mix like to mix in lightweight short sleeve sweaters. They are a great transition piece.

I purchased these two at the end of summer before my trip to California. They are both perfect to wear with shorts, denim, or pants.

Tan sweater // Short sleeve sweatshirt

10. When does school start where you live?

We always start the second Wednesday in August. We start with a three day week, then have a four day week with no school on Friday, followed by a full week and then Labor Day. It’s nice to ease into the school year.

When I was a kid, we seemed to go Labor Day to Memorial Day. While we are usually out around Memorial Day, we are sometimes still in school until the very end of May.

So, that’s how we do back to school and plan for fall. What about you? What’s your favorite thing about fall?

I hope you are having a great week! Make sure to check out the other ladies’ posts as well!

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Holidays, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello and Happy Thursday!

Today, Trav and I are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary. Y’all, S I X T E E N years is hard to believe! Time sure does continue to fly by!

It’s also hard to believe that it’s already almost the end of June which means it’s time for this month’s Monthly Musings post.

As always, I’m linking up with Patty and Holly for this post.

This month’s topic is End of School and Summer Plans. Believe it or not, we’ve been out of school for over a month, so we are definitely in full summer mode over here!

1. Last Day of School Traditions:

While I have lots of traditions to begin the school year like Back to School Breakfast, a book to start the year, first day of school photos, walking to school and more, we don’t have many last day of school traditions. The kids let me take a last day of school pic, and that’s about it. I also get a photo of them in front of school on the first and last day. (I’m not sure they will let me do a photo in front of their middle school next year) 😩

2. Summer List:

We made our Summer Fun list a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve been able to cross a few things off the list!

3. Vacation Plans:

While we typically go to Florida for summer vacation, South Carolina is another favorite summer vacay spot for us. We are heading there soon.

4. Summer Outfits:

If I’m not in workout clothes, I’m usually in a swimsuit and coverup at the pool. I do like to wear light weight dresses as well as…

shorts and a tank or t-shirt.

These shorts from Target are a favorite! I have them in green, pink and black.

And…I’ve shared about my favorite Amazon swimsuit and cover up a couple of times this summer.

Amazon Dress // Target Shorts // Amazon Swimsuit // Amazon Coverup

5. Summer Meals:

I recently shared some quick dinner ideas. During the summer months, we grill out a lot and have baked beans, pasta salad or fruit as side dishes. Quick, easy, and light meals.

6. End of School:

We are usually scheduled to be out of school around Memorial Day. Some years, we go past Memorial Day if we have snow days to make up. That being said, our district seems to do whatever it takes (like adding time to the end of the day) to ensure we are out by May 31st. We occasionally get out rather early, like this year…we were out May 18th which was amazing!

When I was a kid, I feel like we were out around Memorial Day, but didn’t start back until after Labor Day. I wish it was like that now as well!

7. Swimsuit Type:

I used to love a tankini but the past few summers, I’ve really embraced the one piece. I just feel more comfortable in them, and there are so many awesome options in fun patterns and stylish designs.

Amazon One Piece Swimsuit

8. 4th of July Plans:

I’m not sure what our plans will be. I always start the 4th of July off with red, white, and blue waffles for the kids! Sometimes, we go to the pool or the parade downtown. We usually grill out with family or friends or sometimes just our family of four.

We always get a few firecrackers and sparklers for the kids. Then, every year, we make our way to our favorite spot to watch fireworks. The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays.

9. Red, White, and Blue Clothes:

I’ve always put the kids in some kind of red, white, and blue! Sometimes, Travis and I will do so as well.

They usually let me take a photo or two 😉

This is one of my favorite family photos of the four of us…July 2015. We were settling in to watch the fireworks, and we all were dressed in some form of red, white, and blue.

10. Charcoal or Gas Grill:

We have a gas grill, and Travis does all the grilling!

He typically uses this platter for the food that my mom painted for him in 2003! It’s basically an antique!

So, that’s a peak at our end of school and summer plans. Next month’s topic is summer fashion!

I hope your summer is off to a great start! See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

Thanks so much for reading,

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Amazon, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings: Summer Preview

Hello! I can’t believe that May is almost over. I’m so thankful we wrapped up our school year earlier than usual, but I already feel like the first week of summer has flown by!

Today, I’m linking up with Patty and Holly for their Monthly Musings post.

This month’s topic is Summer Kickoff...which is perfect because we are officially in summer mode around here.

1. Favorite Summer Tradition:

The 4th of July is one of my favorite parts of summer. I just love that Travis always has the day off, there are usually activities like a parade or pool fun, we usually gather with family or neighbors to grill out, I love the fireworks, and I always put my kids in something red, white, and blue!

My favorite 4th of July tradition is that I always make red, white, and blue waffles. Always.

Another favorite summer tradition is going on vacation. As the years have gone on, it’s been more and more difficult to find a week to go somewhere, but we try really hard to make it happen.

We love the beach.

2. Vacation Plans:

Well, I hope it pans out, as we’ve already had to adjust the dates, but we are hoping to get to Isle of Palm, SC for a few days in between kids’ camps and baseball games!

IOP October 2018

We’ve stayed in Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, and Hilton Head through the years. The Charleston area is amazing. If I ever win the lottery, I’m buying a vacation home in SC!

3. Ocean, Pool, or Lake:

Well, all of the above!

We spend much of our summer at the pool….

We love a visit to a lake…(KY has many!)…

But…the ocean is my fave…

That being said, I love to look at the water…more than swim it like the kids do. I enjoy a cold beverage, a good book, and a great view!

Photo by Hadley: summer 2019

4. Summer Fashion Items:

Well, I don’t know about summer fashion, but I love to be comfortable in the summer. Honestly, most days are spent at the pool or at a ball game. So, I’m typically wearing a swim suit and cover up or tank and shorts, but I just bought this Amazon dress in two colors, and I love it.

Dress

This is my FAVORITE Amazon cover up. I have purchased it in multiple colors throughout the years. (I’m wearing it in blue in the lake photo above!)

Cover up

5. Favorite Summer Recipe:

We grill out a lot in the summer. I love that because it means Travis is doing the cooking, and I usually just make a side dish or two. Also, we love fresh fruit as an easy side dish or snack in the summer.

I’ve shared this post with some favorite sides, and it includes this pasta salad that I found on Pinterest and make often.

6. Strawberry Shortcake or Blueberry Pie:

Confession, y’all! I don’t like blueberries! My kids do, but I don’t. I will eat strawberries all day long, and we love Strawberry Shortcake.

Last year, we picked fresh strawberries, and immediately made SSC for dessert that night.

7. This Summer vs Summer 2020:

This summer will be very different than last summer. We will be at the pool again and able to socialize freely with friends, neighbors, and family.

While Hayden played baseball last summer, it was postponed and then there were tons of rules and regulations. Baseball is on track for this summer and those extra restrictions have been lifted.

Hadley’s doing swim team again since we are back at the pool.

We look forward to a “normal” summer again.

8. Favorite Sunscreen:

I typically use Neutrogena in the summer. The spray is perfect for applying to kids quickly, and the face stick is easy for application as well.

9. Favorite Summer Beverage:

I definitely up my water game during the summer.

For summer cocktails, I love White Claws, Simpler Wines (rose’!) from Trader Joe’s, and then I just found this strawberry margarita cocktail at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago. It was a hit with all the moms at the 5th grade graduation get together 😉 We just poured it over ice. It was easy, light, and refreshing.

10. Summer Garden:

Travis did plant a few things for this summer like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

Last summer, we didn’t plant a garden, but check out this zucchini from our 2019 garden. We had returned home from vacation to find this guy!

August 2019

What are you looking forward to this summer?

The topic for June is end of school traditions/summer plans:

I hope you are having a great week.

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites!

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings: Spring Cleaning

Hello! How is your week going? We are hanging in there. After two nights of baseball games, we had nothing on the calendar last night, and it was so wonderful. Besides activities, the kids are starting their end of the year testing, so we’ve had that on the calendar as well.

Today’s post may not be my most exciting post ever, but I always love linking up with Patty and Holly when I can for their Monthly Musings link up.

This month’s topic is Spring Cleaning.

Well, I should have had Travis write this post! He is a cleaner, and I’m a tidier. We balance each other out, but he’s certainly more well-versed in the cleaning department. I mean, I’ve had to ask him where we keep the vacuum one too many times. #findyouamanwholikestoclean

1. Are you doing a spring cleaning this year?

Yes, and it’s what I typically do each year. For me, the closets and the kids’ rooms are the first ones I tackle. We tend to purge and reorganize their rooms in November, before the holidays, and then again in March/April. Those are the perfect times to see what fits them, what toys/books they don’t want to keep, and toss any random items like art supplies and dried up markers!

We Travis tends to clean out, tidy up, and re-organize the garage in the spring or early summer.

2. Favorite cleaning products?

For daily use, I love Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning supplies. A friend gave us this brand in a cute basket as a house warming gift over six yeas ago, and I’ve never looked back!

{Side note: my soap holder by my sink is one of my favorite quick projects. When we moved in house, I was unpacking and realized we had a cake stand that I never used (wedding gift from 2005). So, I spray painted it, and it sits to the left of our sink to hold our dish soap, spray, and hand soap}

3. What is your must clean for every spring?

I’d swap the word “clean” for the word “purge.” I purge the hall closets and kids rooms in the spring. Travis would say his “must clean” is to power wash the back patio!

4. Any garage/shed cleaning tips?

Marry Travis White?! 😂 We don’t have a shed, but he stays on top of the garage organization.

5. Pack rat or Marie Kondo devotee?

I think I’m somewhere in between…

I’m pretty sentimental and keep items of clothing with the kids’ names or monogram on them. I figure one day I will have blanket made for them. I have also kept a lot of their school t-shirts and some sports uniforms.

I keep school work and artwork in these storage containers from Michaels. Both kids have one for kindergarten-2nd grade work and another one for 3rd-5th grade school work.

I also have these colorful boxes with school papers, report cards, calendars and other information we need.

Most of the time when I think of cleaning, it just means purging and organizing! I always feel so much better after I do so.

6. Best cleaning hack?

…have kids so they do the cleaning? 😆 or…don’t have kids so there are no messes to clean up! 😉

I really don’t have any “cleaning hacks,” but I’d love to learn some, so feel free to share !

My latest “hack” for Hayden’s white baseball pants is to use Fels-Naptha on grass stains and dirty pants! I’m pretty sure it’s been around for years, but last fall was the first time I’d heard of it thanks to a fellow baseball mom.

Not a hack, but I just feel so much better if I pick up the house every night. It’s nice to start the day with a clean slate (literally and figuratively 😉) each morning.

Or you could do this…

Another idea is to really deep clean a different part of the house each day or complete a daily chore. For example, clean the bathrooms on Mondays and do laundry on Saturdays.

7. Do you have help with house cleaning?

We do!

Me before our house cleaner comes:

The best gift we’ve given ourselves is having someone clean the house every other week. It’s so nice to come home to a spotless house!! A house cleaner is a treat for me. Trav’s “treat” is a few years ago we hired someone to start mowing the lawn. Truth be told, Travis loves yard work, and loves to mow the grass. We just don’t have the time in the spring and the summer to stay on top of our sizable yard! We could figure it out if needed, but it’s nice to let that task go…to someone with a zero turn mower that can cut the grass in twenty minutes rather than three hours.

Little does Hayden know, but in a couple of years, mowing the lawn can be his chore!

8. Favorite cleaning appliance?

Our dry Swifter sweeper is perfect for our hardwood floors and dog hair! Also, I’m loving the efficiency of our new washer that we got about six months ago!

9. Run the dishwasher ever night or just when full?

We run the dishwasher about three times a week when it’s full. Then, the kids help unload it and put away what they can reach and then one of us puts things away that are up high.

10. Favorite way to donate or purge unneeded items?

We tend to donate clothes and household items to the Salvation Army. I’ve sold some things on Facebook Marketplace, and I also offer good, hardly worn clothes to neighbors before donating or selling.

Recently, Travis and a neighbor split the cost of a dumpster and Travis took the opportunity to clear out a few items in the attic, organized the unfinished part of our basement, and purge items in the garage.

So that’s a little bit of a peek on Spring Cleaning in our house. Do you enjoy spring cleaning? What are some of your favorite cleaning products?

May’s topic is Summer Preview. I’m happy to report that with our last day of school scheduled for May 18, I will be living the summer life while writing that post!

Thanks so much for reading. Make sure to check out other ladies’ posts too! I will see you back here tomorrow for this week’s Friday Favorites.