Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bern's Steakhouse

What a fabulous weekend!!! We enjoyed lots of time playing and relaxing as a family. We haven't relaxed enough in recent memory. Last night we enjoyed a FABULOUS dinner at Bern's Steakhouse. If you ever visit Tampa, you need to go. Sweet friends from Raleigh were here visiting the Sunshine State, and we were able to enjoy a wonderful evening together. Some of our best friends here shared the name of their server, and that makes all of the difference when you have a great server. The meal was timed perfectly, and we enjoyed the Special Chateaubriand. It was one of the best steaks we've ever eaten. DH enjoyed the second half of mine today and said it still had the wonderful hickory and oak flavor we enjoyed last night. Our friends enjoyed their foie gras and a great bottle of wine. Our fabulous server made our meal. Cheese crackers are served before dinner, followed by French Onion soup and then a salad. The steaks are accompanied by a potato, green beans, carrots, and delicious homemade onion strings. YUM.

Bern's has the largest privately held wine cellar in the United States. To say it is impressive is an understatement. We all enjoyed the kitchen and wine cellar tour.

After dinner, we resigned to the Harry Waugh dessert room. Harry Waugh believed that dessert should be enjoyed in a room other than the dining room. It is to be savored and enjoyed with select dessert wines, port, cordials, et cetera. Last night DH ordered me a 15 year old Madeira. It was delicious and different. It was fun to drink it slowly and enjoy laughs and good conversation. We sat inside one of the wine casks and listened to live jazz music as we savored Baked Alaska, special bread pudding, macadamia nut ice cream, and key lime pie. What a night!

Friday, February 26, 2010

"I'll have a hot dog, please."

What sort of understood "rules" did you have growing up in your family? My family was wonderful and we laugh about some of our rules. First of all, eating out was a treat that RARELY happened. When I say rarely, I mean RARELY. We were not a family that enjoyed many Big Macs, Whoppers, or soft drinks. My grandfather was so funny because you could have only 2 things at Hardee's. For example, you could have a burger and fries or a burger and a coke but you couldn't have all three. As we grew older, he apparently let my younger brother order anything he wanted as long as he ate every bite. I wasn't so lucky!

Another rule was that we did not stop in restaurants on long trips. It wasn't that we couldn't afford to eat there, it was that my parents chose not to spend their money that way. So, we would eat sandwiches and drink cokes poured out of a hot 2 liter bottle. We'd stop at roadside picnic tables and munch away. I can remember a hot, hot summer in eastern North Carolina where we pulled over and ate smashed sandwiches, chips, and hot cokes.

My parents also taught me to be a good guest. To be a good guest, there are lots of rules, and I'll elaborate on most of them in another post. My friend, Frances, often took me to lunch at the Club. My mother told me that I should always order the cheapest thing on the menu and drink water. So I did. Frances confessed last week that she just thought I LOVED hot dogs because I'd order that hot dog meal for $1.25 every.single.time. Little did she know, hot dogs were not the food of my dreams! We laughed about this over lunch with W & K. W took us to the Club here, and I was just parched for a Diet Coke. A fountain Diet Coke is a real treat. However, I knew I was not supposed to be so rude as to order a beverage. W insisted that I was no longer under my parents' roof, and that as her guest, I should order that Diet Coke!! We laughed and laughed. She was also great at insisting we order whatever we like. What a fun lunch with great friends!

So, what rules did you have as a child?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Don't you just love old pictures? Frances & I have been friends since childhood. We've had the best time seeing each other the past few days. Laughter has filled the air. We have so much to talk about; there is not enough time:) The above picture was in high school when we went on a trip to Alexandria, Virginia.

Here we are at Homecoming our Senior year. I loved my convertible fiat. Frances was on the Homecoming Court.

We were so excited to graduate! Watch out world, here we come!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

What a JOY it is to receive potted flowers as a gift. When our precious triplets were born, the church had three Easter lillies on the altar in their honor. I was still in the hospital and did not get to attend the service, but they delivered the flowers to us after the service. Dh & I enjoyed their beauty and fragrant smell until all of the blooms fell off of the stems. I couldn't bare to part with these lovely reminders of our precious triplets' birth. Therefore, we planted the lillies in our yard by the back door so that we could enjoy them every spring.
We were also given three GORGEOUS hydrangea plants when the triplets were born!! Doug's sweet Daddy went out in our yard and planted them in three different places for our enjoyment. Every June I loved being able to clip beautiful hydrangea blossoms. I filled vase after vase in our home. One of the hardest things to leave at our old house were those hydrangeas!! They grew larger and larger over the years. So, if you receive a potted plant, investigate to see if it can be planted in your yard!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Make new friends, but keep the Old

Today my best friend from childhood is coming for a visit. I am so excited that my tummy is all jittery!! We have not had a few days together in several years. Most of our visits in our adult life have been spent sharing time with her niece and nephews and my 5 children, which is delightful but doesn't allow for a conversation to be finished. We hardly finish our subjects anyway before jumping to the next because we have so much to talk about when we see each other. Frances lives in NY but we grew up together in NC. We think each other is "HA-larious" (I know it's spelled with an "i") and so we laugh and laugh when we're together. I can't wait. This old girl could use some laughs!! Frances' life is full of adventures around the world and mine is full of adventures around the washing machine and toilet. We appreciate our differences and just love to be together. Frances and I have been encouraging each other in our faith for years. Sometimes we don't agree on politics and other things but I always admire her stance on things. Frances doesn't just pick a position and talk loudly about it. She lives her life that way. She has the biggest servant's heart of anyone I know, the kind that serves behind the scenes where no one even knows. I admire that. I struggle with serving but wanting everyone to applaud me and pat me on the back. She's just not that way.
Tonight we'll enjoy dinner out and come back and laugh at the Bachelor or just each other. We'll enjoy long walks on Bayshore, looking at all of Tampa's gorgeous homes, and time by the pool. I am so thankful for ALL of my friends. Time spent with them is a true joy, and I know the next few days will be no exception! I'll try to find a picture to post of us:).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and Flicka, Ricka, Dicka

I just love Classic literature for children. I love the way the language is slightly different and more formal than how we speak today, and I also love the precious illustrations. Of course there are very few books written about triplets. Imagine my surprise when I learned that a Swedish woman named Maj Lindman wrote not one, but TWO series about triplets that were first published in 1932! What fabulous news from my sweet Dallas friends, A & Mel. I bought several of the books as Christmas gifts for our children and we have all been delighted to learn of the adventures of the triplet boys Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr and of the triplet girls, Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka. You, too, will delight in these sweet stories to read to your young children or students! They are hard to find in bookstores, but you can find them on! Happy reading!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How do you greet your man?

When DH comes home, it is at that bewitching hour where children are full of energy, some are crying, some are running wildly through the house, and I am trying to cook dinner and check homework while throwing in a load of laundry or changing someone's sheets. Needless to say, he rarely comes home to find all 5 children sitting quietly poised on the sofa waiting to greet him. In fact, he has NEVER found that. I do try to have the children bathed or homework finished or both, but it is tough. Tonight was one of those chaotic nights where some children were still in the tub, 1 or 2 were screaming, and dinner was cooked. Granted, the children were just having hot dogs, but still.

So, hubby left for Bible Study and I am home alone to put the troops to bed. They're all in bed though 2 are still giggling. I decided I want hubby to know what it feels like to come home to a happy wife and a quiet home. I read to everyone, said prayers, and gave them good night kisses. I wanted to jump in a hot bath, but I made myself come downstairs and finish cleaning the kitchen and making lunches. I just finished. I wiped the countertops, lit a pretty candle, and turned on John Pizzarelli for some quiet and peaceful music. My post was just interrupted as DH walked in the door. He noticed the music immediately. I am trying to do more little things like this because I know that he, too, has had a long day. What sweet things do you all do? I need inspiration!

Butterfly Garden

I've volunteered to help one of our classes plant a garden at school. I believe we're going to attempt a butterfly garden. Have you ever planted one? What do you recommend? Were you successful? We had a butterfly bush at our old house and the butterflies did love it! Share any advice you may have. Thanks, y'all!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Customer Service

I am BIG on Customer Service. How a hotel, restaurant, or shop handle our interactions help me decide whether or not I will return and spend more money there. Disneyworld is not my idea of a relaxing vacation. If I could go anywhere, it would not be Disney. However, it is the one place that our children LOVE. It is a place where hubby and I can focus solely on them and share hugs and laughs and hold little hands while riding rides, meeting characters, and walking and running mile after mile. The children always have so much fun.

This weekend was PACKED. On our last morning, we realized we had lost our son's autograph book. He has been collecting signatures for over a year and he was crushed. We searched and determined it had fallen out of the stroller, probably when we got on the parking tram. We talked about calling Lost and Found but never had time to do so.

Yesterday a package arrived from Disney addressed to our son. Inside was his autograph book!! I didn't even remember that I had written his name and address on the inside cover but I had. Disney found it and was gracious enough to return it to us. THAT is customer service!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

Where do your guests spend most of their time when visiting your home? I find that my guests love to crowd into our kitchen. In our former house, we tore down a wall and renovated the kitchen to make it more inviting since guests tend to enjoy talking in the kitchen. My friend, B, told me that she always cleans her refrigerator before guests arrive for a party or a weekend. I recently hosted Supper Club and realized that the shelves in our refrigerator had lots of spots and circles from wet items. Therefore, I pulled everything out and cleaned the shelves. It really does make a difference! Happy Tuesday's Tip!

My Boy Valentine

We had a fabulous Valentine's Day weekend as a family. What is sweeter than an 8 year old boy who still adores his mama? Our boy was such a good sport as his sisters wore their princess gowns and dined with Cinderella and Prince Charming. He couldn't wait to ride the rides at Disney. Space Mountain and Tower of Terror were his favorites. What a special boy!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

People of Disney

How about this funny grandpa at Disney? He is clearly "tuckered out"! Hilarious!!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dear G.P. (General Public)

Dear GP (General Public),

When you are visiting Disney, or any public place with lots of people, there are some simple suggestions (RULES) that you might want to follow. Here is a partial list.

#1. My baby wants to go on this ride as much as yours does. We happened to get in line a few minutes before you did. If you push and shove us and then get in front of us, we are going to spend 30 uncomfortable minutes together while we both continue to wait for the ride. Don't jump. It's so junior high.

#2. If you decide to hop skip jump in front of my stroller's path, I am going to hit you. I am good but I am not that good. Moving targets that cut in front of our stroller's wheels are subject to some pain. Don't go hopping in front of my baby!

#3. If you walk aimlessly in a diagonal pattern with no sense of where you are or where you are going, see #2. Again, I'm good but if you cross my path and I don't have advance warning, you're going to feel that baby Jogger's wheels on your legs.

#4. When you breathe and cough down my neck it's just plain nasty. If I wanted to be that close to you, I would have married you. Even spouses don't breathe on each other in line. Please don't do that to me.

#5. Flush.

#6. Flush again if it didn't work the first time.

#7. A girl needs her personal space. I won't get in yours if you won't get in mine.

#8. Deodorant. Deodorant. Deodorant. My fifth grade teacher was known as the Deodorant Lady. Obviously many of you did not have the same teacher. I can't take the wet dog/onion smell.

#9. Brush your hair. If you don't want to dress up and be cute, that's your prerogative. But brush your hair.

#10. Keep your tramp stamps to yourself. It's Disneyworld, not Hedonism II. You're causing a lot of angst in our family.

#11. Some things are best done in private. Eating a turkey leg just might be one of them. That and a frozen banana.

That's all, folks!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Preppy Paper Girl Giveaway!!

Selfishly I hate to share this info!! Preppy Paper Girl is hosting another AWESOME giveaway of Lilly Pulitzer goodies!! Just click here to see her giveaway! I order from her quite often and am always MORE THAN pleased with her wonderful products!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Just the sweetest...

Our little Hurricane came home from school today with a bouquet of love for Mama and Daddy. It is just precious and an idea I wish I had used with our older 4 children! The teachers cut out hearts, let the children decorate them with glitter, and then put then on a stem. I think they used either pipe cleaners or popsicle sticks. They wrapped the "bouquet" with pink tissue paper and tied it with a ribbon. The ribbon has a sweet picture of our baby girl tied to it. What a PERFECT bouquet that I will treasure forever! What are some of your favorite Valentine's treats?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How will YOU celebrate?!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. We've had fun sending packages to our niece and the children's special aunt who has a Valentine's Day birthday. We've also made cards for grandparents and friends at school. The children will spend a special day at Disney with friends as well. I love decorating for holidays, though I have friends who are more creative! I have decorated our boxwood tree at the front door with a love banner and heart strings. The front hall mirror is decorated and today I received the BEST Pre' de Provence heart soaps from wonderful Julia! They are already in our guest bathroom. B sent our D a special heart plate as a little goddaughter gift. It's fun to use festive things during a holiday.
I am giving hubby Season 2 of Mad Men on DVD. He loved Season 1 as part of his Christmas present, so hopefully we will enjoy many snuggles watching Season 2! A special dinner is also planned in the future. How will YOU celebrate, dear readers? Share the LOVE!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's a Sunshine Day, er, Night!

My sweet new traveling buddies, Bevy, at "It's a Golden Day!" and Jessica at "Entertaining House" gave me this fun award. She said it is for bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blog world. Bevy is so positive herself, in fact, her blog encourages all of us to have a golden day everyday! Well, Mama Henley has been a bit slow in posting this award. Apparently others are quickly and we heart some of the same bloggers! I will do my best to pass this lovely award on to some of you fabulous bloggers who inspire me daily!!

Love Being a Nonny What a precious young grandmother Nonny is!!

Sherrie at My Life with Boys. I love her Organizing Diva blog

Jo at Bees and Fleur de Lis Jo is a great mama and decorator!

Laurie at Preppy Paper Girl Her packages make every day happy! I just love her blog and her cute papers!

A Place to Dwell She has a great blog and is a loyal commenter!

One Fabulous Mom Her tummy tuck diary has given me hope. Seriously!! I love her upbeat LA life!

Have Map Will Travel We're blog and Twitter friends!

Cricket has a great blog too!

The Existential Expat If you don't find her as a positive woman, then you must not think anyone is positive! She takes living in India in stride. I would be crying over my toilet and washing machine!

Frances at 400 Square Feet She's a lifelong best friend who can't help but be positive! That's what best friends are for each other!!

Now you girls can also share the Sunshine Love!!

Tuesday's Tip

Have you ever wondered what to do with leftover cake when you have just ordered WAY TOO MUCH? We attended a 40th birthday party where there was a lot of cake leftover. Mama Henley told the honoree's friends to cut it in squares or rectangles and freeze it. Then, you can take it out of the freezer as needed. I suggested putting lots of cake out for the garbage men. They love a treat! You could also take it to work, your children's teachers, or just enjoy it for a family dessert! Just make sure you wrap it well to avoid freezer burn and don't leave it in the freezer for more than 3 months. Enjoy!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Secrets Revealed...

My darling husband's Daddy made the BEST red beans and rice. I know he was leading the line around Heaven last night singing "When the Saints Go Marching In" just like he did at our Rehearsal Dinner almost 15 years ago!

I made Papa's Red Beans and Rice for DH in celebration of the Superbowl and to remember DH's amazing Daddy. DH said that cooking those red beans really spoke love to him! He also said that they are even better the second day as the flavors become even stronger. I'm going to do y'all a favor and share the recipe. Shhh, don't tell y'all.....

Papa's Red Beans & Rice
According to Miss Tootie, "You don't fool with time on Mardi Gras. You just stick everything together in one big ole pot, and the easier the better. You're too busy having a good time to worry about cooking, but at the same time you do need something substantial to eat." Well, I'll be.

1 pound dried red kidney beans, washed and sorted (We like the Louisiana kidney beans best. They are called Camellia red beans.)

2 quarts cold water
2 medium yellow onions, peeled & chopped (about 1 cup)
2 med sized green pepper, seeded & chopped
2 stalks celery, minced (I used more than this)
(Cooks should note that the Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking is chopped onions, green peppers, and celery)
1/4 pound smoked ham, minced. My father in law used a ham hock from Honey Baked Ham and some leftover pieces of their ham. You can also use andouille sausage. The best comes straight from Louisiana.
2 tsps. salt (or more if you prefer)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper
3 Tbs. thinly sliced green onion
3 Tbs. minced Italian parsley
2 1/2 cups uncooked rice, cooked according to directions

Place beans in a very large kettle and add water. Cover & soak overnight. Next day, add onions, green pepper, celery, ham or andouille sausage, salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to the beans and their soaking water, bring to boiling over high heat; lower heat so that liquid ripples gently. Cover; simmer 2 1/2 hours. Uncover, stir well, turn heat to lowest point and cook uncovered about 2 1/2 to 3 hours longer, stirring now and then, until beans are very soft and mixture is about the consistency of chili. Stir in green onions and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes, then mix in parsley and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring frequently. Dish up the red beans and rice separately and put out big bowls so everyone can help himself to as much rice as he wants; ladle the red beans on top. ENJOY!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Progress, sweet Progess

Whew! DH & I are exhausted! We've been unpacking boxes in our pod since early this morning. We've unpacked over 15 boxes, taken 2 loads to the Salvation Army, and thrown away 3 trash cans full of stuff!!! Woo HOO!!!!! It feels good. We have at least 15 boxes left before we'll take everything out of the garage and begin to rearrange things so that we can actually park a car in the garage during the upcoming rainy season!! Our new home has MUCH less storage... no floored attic for storage and no basement. We had over 800 sq ft of basement plus a completely floored attic in our old house. Needless to say, we have lost a lot of storage space. With a 7 member family, it's easy to accumulate a good bit of stuff. Today has been spent weeding out those things that are no longer necessities and re-purposing them for other uses, giving them away, or simply throwing them away. Our hands are dry and crackly, but it sure does feel good!

When you walk in the back door, the aroma of red beans and rice greets you. It really does smell delicious! I have made DH's daddy's recipe in his memory for the Superbowl tomorrow. WHO DAT!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dear Libby

One of our sweet big girls, D, came downstairs and asked me if I'd mail a letter. She made me guess whom she had written. I guessed Mimi, Grandmama, and her godmother. I was wrong on all accounts. D handed me the letter with a little smile and I began to read it. I also began to cry. I mailed the letter, but I made a copy of it before I sent it. It was just that precious. She wrote this letter to Libby, the Senior Director of Camp Greystone, whose husband, Jim, or Jimdaddy, died suddenly last Friday. Jimdaddy was one of the most amazing men I've ever known. He was the epitome of a gentleman and always encouraged others to love the Lord first and to purpose to have a GREAT day every single day. He will be missed. D wrote a letter to his wife, Libby, totally on her own. Precious. Here it is:

Dear Libby,
I'm sorry that Jimdaddy died. I really miss him. I have been a Greystone girl for 3 years. I'm eight years old. My mommy, Mama Henley, cooks at Greystone. I remember all the fun stories Jimdaddy told. My mommy is really sad that she could not come to Greystone. She cried at dinner the other night that she could not come to Greystone. Hope you have a great day today,

I thought it was just precious that she was precocious enough to know that you write someone a letter when someone they love dies. She also knew exactly what to say to comfort Libby. I, of course, DID cry at dinner. It was one of those nights where it was really hard to live so far away from the Old North State. Florida is just too far for me to drive by myself and the flights didn't cooperate, so I couldn't go to the funeral. And I was very sad.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Let's subtract, not multiply

I have been working hard to control all of the things that keep procreating in this house. You would not believe the multiplication that happens in this house!! Aside from the 5 children, our laundry seems to multiply over night. I think I have washed the last pair of underwear or socks, and wake up to find a new load waiting on me. It is incredible!! Another thing that multiplies, splits, and adds is paper. Bills, sweet notes from the children, art work, letters from friends, to do lists, recipes, etc. seem to have babies!! I spent hours trying to calm the paper beast today. I even made a little progress. Too bad our bedroom looks like the after shot of a robbery. The chalk figure on the floor is of me, exhausted after my hard work!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

As you walk into the home of one of my dear childhood friends in North Carolina, you are greeted by the sweetest fragrance. It literally engulfs you as you walk in the door. It is the fragrance of beautiful white lillies. I commented one day to C that her house always smells so fabulous. It was then that she let me in on a little secret.... she treats herself to lillies most weeks and puts them in a vase in the front hall. She said that the lillies are her "little happy" and after enjoying their scent myself, I think we could all use a little happy!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Don't you worry, I'm your girl

In the last few months, I have made another new friend in Tampa. We're both new to town, so I think we're both excited to make new friends so we've met for lunch and also gone to dinner with our families. K is a hoot! One day recently we were making those COOL pirate shirts at her house and we came inside to get something for the children to eat. She opened her refrigerator and started saying, "Oh, please don't look". I assured her that it looked fine. Then, she said, "If something happens to me, I expect you to come over and clean my refrigerator." Confused, I replied, "What do you mean? Why?" K replied, "Well, you know all of those church ladies will be over here stuffing casseroles in the refrigerator, and I don't want them to see all of the mess in here. You have got to promise you will come over and clean my refrigerator for me if I am dead!" At this point, I couldn't help but laugh. Only a Southern girl would worry about her refrigerator! :) K didn't ask me to console her children or bring dinner, she wants to make sure things in her refrigerator are in order. I replied, "Don't worry, I'm your girl!" She responded, "Now you know we're really becoming true friends." I love it! Yes, K, we are!