Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bribing the Kids to Read

 During the school year, the kids are expected to read everyday.  While RJ is reading, he is constantly asking "How much longer?" or "Am I done yet?" Now that school is over and the kiddos are home I tried to come up with a way to keep them reading throughout the summer. 

I decided to go with a prize box for reading.  The kids get a treat from this box for every book they read.  I found this great Star Wars box from Michael's.  It was on the clearance rack.  I think it was about $7!  

I picked up a bunch of stuff to fill up the box, mostly $5 or less.  Since I have a 7 year old and a 14 year old I had to get a few things that would get MJ excited also.  So I put in a few iTunes and Amazon gift cards for him also.  

Now there are some rules to this prize box.  The boys must read age appropriate books, give me a verbal book report and be able to answer any questions I have for them.  Since MJ's books take longer to read than RJ's, MJ can get 2-3 prizes depending on the length of his book.  

I wish my boys loved reading as much as I do but this little bit of bribery has been doing a good job of keeping a book in their hands.  I hope that eventually they will learn to enjoy reading for the joy of the book and not for the prize.  If not at least I know that they will be reading this summer.  


Monday, May 30, 2016

Distilled & Aged to Perfection - Bourbon Themed Birthday Party

This year for hubby's birthday I threw him a bourbon tasting party.  He has always been a bourbon fan so I knew this party would be right up his alley.  I think he had just as much fun researching, buying and sampling all the bourbons as he did at the party.  He even made a new friend at the local liquor store.  

The dining room was set up for the actual bourbon tasting.  We had 10 different bourbons for the tasting, each with it's own set of tasting notes.  We chose a few small batch bourbons, single barrel bourbons and craft bourbons each with different flavor palates.   

I purchased tulip shaped tasting glasses from World Market.  The tulip shape of the glass helps to showcase the bourbon's flavor.  I also put out slices of fruit and different chocolates to help bring out the different bourbon notes.  

We played a game called How Refined is your Palate?  Four different bourbons were put into plastic cups with lids.  I had tasting notes for each bourbon (along with a few hints about each) and a list of 6 bourbons for the guests to choose from.   Looking back I should have only listed the 4 bourbons for the guests to choose from, 6 was too many.  The person who got the most correct won a prize.

The best part of the party was the food.  Almost everything on the menu had bourbon added to the recipe.  Unfortunately, I only got a picture of the ribs when they were on the grill.  In addition to ribs I made honey bourbon wings, Jack Daniel's bacon mac and cheese, green beans, baked beans and a green salad.  

I also made lots of desserts, including Hubby's Chantilly birthday cake and lemon meringue cheesecake bites.  I've recently started making mini cheesecakes and I'm in love with them.  

I also made chocolate bourbon cupcakes and Kentucky bourbon balls.  The bourbon balls were delicious and had quite a kick!
In addition to all the bourbon, we served spiked Arnold Palmer's in mason jars and wine.  

The party was a huge success.  After playing the game, tasting the bourbons, eating dinner and dessert we sat on the deck and smoked cigars.  Everyone had a great time, especially hubby.  All of our friends brought him bourbon so we ended up with almost 20 bottles!!!  I guess we'll be having another bourbon party soon :-).


Monday, August 31, 2015

Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans??

This past week was full of emotion for New Orleanians.  Saturday August 29 was the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  

Just like every other family in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, my family lost everything.  

They were fortunate enough to be able to get out of the city before Katrina made landfall. 

 My father, who was a homicide detective in New Orleans at the time, had to stay. 

My mother, brother, aunt, uncle and 3 cousins all came to Tennessee where I was living at the time.  

They were all able to return to New Orleans about 3 months later to begin rebuilding their lives.

Over these past 10 years, my entire family was able to return home and rebuild. 

 Many of their homes are nicer now than they were before Katrina.  

I wish we could say the same about many parts of New Orleans. 

 Most of my family lives in the Gentilly area and they are still in need of basic necessities found in most neighborhoods in this country.  

It is disheartening that most people have to drive at least 15 minutes to get to a decent grocery store or to a restaurant.  

Don't even think about any quality shopping, unless you are looking for a Dollar store!

Even though New Orleans still has a way to go, it has improved tremendously since Katrina.

 It is plain to see that the folks running the city want it to look entirely different than it did pre-Katrina and for the most part that is a good thing.  

What isn't a good thing is how slow the progress has been and how only certain areas of the city are being revitalized.  

New Orleans is my home and if one day the stars all lined up correctly I would love more than anything to move my family back, but that is not something I can see happening in the near future.

I will continue to pray for my city to get back to the wonderful place we all know,  love 


Monday, June 29, 2015

Florida Fun!!

As soon as school let out for the summer we hit the road. This was my first time leaving Denver since we moved here last summer.  We flew to NOLA on a Friday night and Saturday morning my family of 4, my parents and my brother made the 4 hour drive to Destin, Florida.  

We rented a beautiful house in Miriamar Beach, right off of Scenic Highway 98.  The house was in a great location.  We were in walking distance to the beach, a short drive to restaurants and close lots of activities and shopping.  

In addition to enjoying lots of rest and relaxation, we ate A LOT!!  Living land locked in Colorado all I wanted was seafood so I definitely wanted to steam crabs.  They were delicious.  I also ate seafood at every restaurant we went to.  

One of the best restaurants we ate at was called the Surf Hut.  Not only was the food delicious, the service was awesome and the drinks were amazing. The restaurant was right on the beach so while you wait for a table you can spend time in the back playing corn hole, enjoying the view or having a drink. 
Beach Bucket Margarita :-) 

The view from the Surf Hut restaurant
This was the first time the 7 of us took a vacation together and we had WONDERFUL time.  Everyone hated to see our week to come to an end.   

 You can see from these pictures why Destin is part of the Emerald Coast.  The water is so clear and the beaches are sandy white.  
I've already started looking at the calendar to schedule our return visit next year :-). 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Where have you been????

It has been a while since I've written but these last 16 months have been a whirlwind for my family. At the beginning of 2014, Hubby was offered a wonderful position in Denver.  Even though Denver was not on our list of places to settle down, he could not pass up such a great offer. So, very reluctantly, we put our Texas home on the market and began the process of moving.  By the beginning of the summer we'd sold our home and were headed to Denver.

And the journey begins...

The view from my window as we drove from Texas to Colorado

When we first arrived we were leasing a home until we got the lay of the land.  When our lease was about up we bought a new home which we all LOVE!  July will be a full year for us in Denver and I must admit it was the best move for our family.  We have made so many new friends, our kids love their schools (and so do we) and you couldn't ask for better weather.  Even though I was not happy about moving, I am so grateful we did. I pray our family will live here for many years to come.

Now that we are all settled in and my life has returned to normal I will be able to share all of our fun adventures once again.