A Toast To Dad.

Good morning!

Just a quick post to fill you in on my fun, family-filled weekend…

The weekend kicked off with a trip to PetSmart on Friday with my girls.  We have been on a hunt for a doggy costume, and that hunt finally came to an end.  While we found plenty of adorable costumes in all shapes and sizes, there was a complete lack of anything ‘hot dog’ related, but we think we’ve struck gold anyway…

I bring you:  Henry, the bucking bronco!

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I know, he looks excited, right?  Not as excited as Bun was to try on the back-up costume we bought…

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Poor baby.  I think he secretly liked the ‘Woody’ costume though.  No worries Bun, it will be returned and you’ll never have to lay eyes on it again.  Henry wouldn’t even let us put his front legs through the holes, so Bucking Bronco it is.  🙂

*****

On Saturday, Rachel drove out to my house to pick the girls and I up.  My car was/is sickly at the moment, so she was kind enough to make the long drive and shuffle us over to our mom’s house.   My sisters, mom, and I had plans to head out for a ‘ladies-only’ dinner and drinks night, while Colette babysat Mer at my mom’s house.

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We took Shannon’s awesome mustang convertible, and had a blast riding in style on our way to Pappadeaux’s Seafood restaurant.

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Hold on tight!

We arrived at the restaurant around 7:00 and had a 30 minute wait, so we decided to order drinks at the bar and sit outside to toast my dad and chat a bit.  We all had a fun time giggling and enjoying the cool (yes, cool!)  evening, until we were led back inside to be seated and order.  I ordered the stuffed crab and roasted asparagus- which was sooo yummy.  You can’t go wrong with Pappadeaux.  Ever.  After a couple more drinks, my mom was ready to head back to the house and get some sleep.  My sisters and I weren’t quite ready to turn in, so after dropping my mom back home with my girls, we headed to a nearby pub for some pool and more drinks.  We may have gotten just a little goofy:

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Yes, we were using the 8 ball as a cue… Yes, I am wearing slippers that I oh-so-awesomely slipped on after my heels were killing me… Yes, I was perfecting the art of ballet-pool… that’s a thing, right?

We had a such a good time, and it was a fun way to honor my dad.  I know he was smiling and laughing with us (and at us).  😉

*****

Sunday, however, was a bit of a let-down.   Dennis invited Jake and his fiance over for BBQ and football.  If you follow football, you know the Texans lost, thanks to he-who-shall-not-be-named… grrrr.

We did have good food however, thanks to Dennis’ BBQ expertise, and had a fun time catching up with family.

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Don’t we look enthusiastic?  haha.

Maybe the next game will be better…?

Questions:

  • What did you do over the weekend?
  • Watch any football?

Have a great Monday!

Amy

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I’ll Be There: A Book Review + Healthy Homemade Mac & Cheese

Good morning party people!

It’s Friday, and that’s enough for me to celebrate!  🙂  Let’s start with food so we can jump right into the book review…

Dinner:  I want to start with last night’s dinner at my house.  I was craving comfort food, and remembered my favorite magazine, Cooking Light,  featured a big dish of mac and cheese on the cover for the month of September.  I’d never made homemade mac and cheese, (mine always comes from a blue box and includes a powdery form of yellow #5) so I was looking forward to the challenge.  The picture on the cover of the magazine was all the push I needed to dive into the recipe.

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It only a took a handful of ingredients(all of which I keep in stock year round) and came together fairly easily.  The only ‘difficult’ part of the recipe was cooking the milk sauce, and that was just my impatience at waiting on the sauce to thicken up.  I was hungry!

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In the end, I enjoyed a cheesy, tangy, warm dish of comforting macaroni.  The kids and I loved it.  Meredith made me laugh because after taking a bite she exclaimed, “This is waaay better than that liquid-y gross stuff they serve us at school”, I’ll have to remember to send a lunch with her on macaroni day from now on… 😉

I also threw together some frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and fresh sliced red pepper in a 9×13 pan; and sprinkled them with a bit of garlic salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Meredith tossed the veggies around to coat them in oil, and I baked them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Roasting veggies is my absolute favorite way to fix them, and my kids seem to agree.  Roasted veggies are the best!

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Check out the recipe for the Macaroni and Cheese here.

Breakfast:  Nothing fancy this morning, just a repeat of Tuesday’s breakfast- Pumpkin spice oats in a mug.  Tastes like fall!

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Recycled photo…

Book Review:  I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

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I’ll get to my review in a minute, but first, check out what Goodreads had to say:

Emily Bell believes in destiny. To her, being forced to sing a solo in the church choir–despite her average voice–is fate: because it’s while she’s singing that she first sees Sam. At first sight, they are connected.

Sam Border wishes he could escape, but there’s nowhere for him to run. He and his little brother, Riddle, have spent their entire lives constantly uprooted by their unstable father. That is, until Sam sees Emily. That’s when everything changes.

As Sam and Riddle are welcomed into the Bells’ lives, they witness the warmth and protection of a family for the first time. But when tragedy strikes, they’re left fighting for survival in the desolate wilderness, and wondering if they’ll ever find a place where they can belong. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, I’ll Be There is a gripping story that explores the complexities of teenage passions, friendships, and loyalties

I’ll Be There is a YA book, however it touches on some very grown up subject matter- including child abuse, murder, poverty, heartbreak, and love.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it when Colette first handed it to me a little over a week ago, but she encouraged me to open it and claimed it was now her most favorite book.  When I asked her how she’d heard of it, she told me she simply plucked it from the school library shelf on a whim.  Gotta love that:)

I’m not sure why I was reluctant to read it(maybe it was the cover, maybe the title?)but I’m glad I did.  The story starts off about a young boy, Sam, and his little brother, Riddle, being raised by their father, a mentally disturbed and immoral man.  Their father uproots the boys and bounces them from town to town, across the U.S.  The boys live in absolute poverty and filth, using dumpsters for meals, and resorting to stealing to survive day by day.  Neither is enrolled in school.

One day as Sam is visiting a nearby church to simply listen to the music within, he comes across Emily, a girl of similar age, and an honest heart.  She seems to be singing directly to him, and immediately they are taken with each other.  This one meeting initiates a whirlwind of events that lead Sam and Emily closer together, while their lives are so completely different.  Meanwhile, Emily’s family, who was initially upset over Sam’s appearance, become much more accepting of Sam and his brother, realizing their potential(Sam’s musical and Riddle’s drawing) and kind personalities.  They take them in to their family with open arms, slowly introducing the boys to a life full of possibilities and leading them out of the shadows of poverty.

There is a side character, Bobby, that kind of annoyed me.  He is boy from Emily’s school that becomes somewhat obsessed with her- mostly because she’s not interested in him.  It seemed the more she pulled away from him, the more he wanted to get involved; he even spied on Sam and made phony calls to get info on him- creepy!  I found his character to be the ‘extra fat’ of the story, and not really necessary.  Plus, he was just kind of a jerk.

As the story moves forward, the boys’ father becomes more disturbed, especially after finding out Sam has a girlfriend.  He threatens Emily’s family and drives the boys several states away, completely devastating Sam and Riddle.  They end up in a mountainous national park, with a broken car and no food.  The boys know, and their father knows, that this is the end…

**Spoiler Alert! **

After a brief struggle, their father hears a voice in his head that tells him to end his children’s lives.  After a failed attempt with his gun, he and Sam struggle and fall over the cliff, with a frightened Riddle jumping not too long after.  Sam and Riddle- beaten and battered- camp in the forest for 2 weeks, before heading downstream in a found kayak(neither can swim), and eventually become separated by the vicious river current.  Their father is found and arrested, and later the boys are found and reunited with Emily’s family, to be put under their care.  That is a MAJOR summation of the end, but you get the idea…  it’s a happy one:)

While I enjoyed the book, especially once I was about 100 pages in(I couldn’t put it down!), I found the author’s writing style to be very choppy.  She jumps from person to person(written from their point of view), including some of the characters that I didn’t care as much to hear from, i.e. Bobby and Sam’s father.  There was also a lot of back story that I found unrelated and could have been left out.  I found Emily and Sam’s encounters to be a bit too brief and anticlimactic with often one-worded ‘conversations’.  However, the storyline about the lost boys living in poverty, struggling to find a life with meaning, trying to break from the cruelty of their father, kept me reading.  I was really pulling for Sam and Riddle to be happy, and especially in the action-packed ending, I knew I had to finish the book.  

If you are looking for a book to pull at your heartstrings, and that has a happy ending, this is it.  But don’t expect an overly romantic, or even captivating love story, because you won’t find it here.

Ms. Sloan does have an ironic way with words, and several times I found myself chuckling at what Emily had to say- she was quite the quirky character!

Overall, I would give this book 3.5 stars out 5.  I liked it and would recommend it to friends.

Thanks for reading!

Hope you have a fabulous Friday!  TGIF!!

Amy