Thursday, August 25, 2016

Yard Tour: {Late Summer} What's Growing in My Yard

I did a Yard Tour (see that post here) back in June for my spring blooms, but now it is late August in Texas, so it is hot (very hot).  I have several containers on my front porch, in my front flower bed, and on my back patio because this is a hobby that I really enjoy (see my post on Front Porch Container Gardening here).  Plants and flowers look different in late August than they do at the end of May or early June.  Some have gotten bigger, some have bloomed more, and some have suffered heat exhaustion.  Fortunately, few of my plants have suffered from the latter, even here in Texas.  I made sure that I planned for that factor when I was determining what I was going to plant in my flower beds and containers.  Some of these plants and flowers in the containers will be replaced soon with fall and winter plants that will give me color and blooms all the way until spring (see my post on Planning Containers for Fall here).

I take tons of pictures of my plants and flowers (just see my Instagram account for proof) so I have a lot to show you.  Please tour my yard via my pictures below.  Enjoy!

All of the colors of lantana make me swoon.  I love this plant.

Lantana has my heart....

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Casseroles are the perfect dish for a hectic work and school week.  They are easy to put together (even the night before) and pop in the oven while you go do other things that are demanding your attention.  This Tuna Noodle Casserole will not disappoint.  It is everything you want it to be: warm, delicious, and easy.  I usually double this recipe because I like to have leftovers (who doesn't?) to make life even easier.

(Recipe below)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back to School: Meal Planning

Three of my four kids started back to school this week (8th, 5th, and 1st grades).  Starting the school routine back can be stressful, especially to the crew who were sleeping until 9:00am and now have to get up at 5:45am. One thing that I like to do to reduce this stress is meal planning. I have done this for years, and it definitely makes our life run smoother.  It also makes the inevitable question "What's for dinner" much easier to answer.  I get more relaxed about meal planning during the summer, but during the school year, it is a must. 

FREE Printable: Weekly Meal Planner

To download a Meal Plan Template, click here

This also makes grocery shopping easier to plan.  A category that I find important to put on my meal planner has nothing to do with food, but is something that can affect when and where we are going to eat: "Events/Appointments." For example, I know that Thursday night is a dance class night for my kids so meals have to be earlier and less complicated on that night.

By downloading my FREE Printable for Weekly Meal Planning, you will be able to type in the date, your events or appointments, and what you plan to have for Breakfast, AM Snack, Lunch, PM Snack, and Dinner.  I hope this helps you as much as it helps our family.

For recipe ideas, please see the following:

For other Back-to-School Ideas, please see the following:

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Home Tour: The Story of Us {The Den}

I got married right out of college, so my "nesting" began at a young age: 22.  I remember being told to wait before decorating our home (at that time apartment) because we didn't "know who we were yet."  But, being a naïve twenty-two-year-old, I headed straight to Pier 1 and Pottery Barn to make my "wishlist."  In the beginning, we couldn't afford much in the way of décor, so we accepted a lot of "hand-me-down" furniture from our parents.  Little by little we filled our apartment, then a house, and as the years have passed, houses. Everywhere we have lived or visited, we have collected items, whether it be a coffee mug, a Christmas ornament, or a piece of art.  I remember one day looking around thinking, "this is us."  All of the hand-me-down furniture, the items we had collected from various places, even the silver that was my grandmothers, all of it was us.  The words that I had heard years before rolled through my mind again and I realized that I then knew who we were.  The objects in our home, while not straight from the showroom floor at Pier 1 or Pottery Barn or even Magnolia Market, told the story of us.  Most of our pieces have a story that comes with them, and walking through each room feels like visiting with old friends and relatives or reminiscing about our past. If there is one thing I want to pass on to my children about setting up their own home, it would be to listen to their heart and tell the story of them.

Furnishing our home has been a journey, one that conjures memories, and tells stories.  Not to say that everything we own is old, some of it we bought new.  For example, we purchased our couches one Mother's Day after a trip to the zoo when our second daughter was a baby.  The gifts that we received at our wedding showers are highly regarded.  The soup bowls that we just ate from were from my maid of honor.  The coffee cup holder was a gift from a dear friend.  The coaster that I placed my glass upon was from a friend who is no longer with us.  A set of picture frames that hang on my wall  were from a childhood friend.  My list is extensive, and I'm sure those friends don't even remember giving the gifts, but the items make me remember them.  Everything has a page in the book that tells the story of who we are.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back to School: Labels

I am a type A personality, I like everything organized and neat.  I also like school supplies.  I was that kid who was more excited to go to the office supply store to buy school supplies than to go to the mall for shoes.  As an adult, it has not gotten much better.  The only difference now is that I have passed this office-supply-loving gene down to my children.  They love these stores too! Now if only I could get them as organized as I secretly wish they were. 

I currently have one child in junior high (8th grade), two children in elementary school (1st and 5th grades), and one child that stays at home with me (2 year old).  For the two that are in elementary school, I label everything.  For the one that is in junior high, I feel privileged when she allows me to label things.  That being said, I am about to focus on my two elementary children and their labels.  Everyday I have to pack them a snack in a zip-top bag with their name on it.  I know that it is easy to write their name on the bag with a Sharpie, but I love labels.  I can't help it, it's my type A personality.  So, I used Avery labels and to create labels for their snack bags.  These labels were so cute, that I could not just use them on their snack bags.  With my new revelation (and labels), my type A personality and I went roaming throughout the house to find other things to label for school.  I have now labeled their devices, folders, notebooks, pencil bags, pencil boxes, and snack bags.  I am sure that I can find more things later, but for now it is a good start.  Now I want you to see how cute these labels are:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

#WIDN: Planning Flower Containers for Fall

What I'm doing now....thinking of is just right around the corner.  I know, I know, it is only August, and I live in Texas so it won't be cooling off any time soon.  However, I need to go ahead and plan what I am going to plant in my containers for fall.  I will not be ripping everything out that I had planted for the spring and summer (click here to see what I had planted) because some of it will still be blooming/growing into the fall.  I love fall, I love the coziness of if, the change of seasons, football, Halloween, Thanksgiving...the list is long.  As usual, I have sketched out my plans for the pots that are having a make-over.  But before we get to that, let me show you my fall porch from a couple of years ago from our previous house:

Mums, crotons, zinnias, ivy, and pumpkins....porch made in Heaven.  I am aiming to recreate this slice of Heaven this year on our porch.  The space we have at this house is more than what we had in that picture, so I have more to work with.  Hopefully it will give me goosebumps like this porch gave me.  So without further ado, let me share my plans with you.  Now remember, I have several containers that are not changing at all (10 to be exact).  I have a total of 5 in the front of the house that are completely changing or getting a make-over.  Here are my plans for the front porch:

Monday, August 15, 2016

Taco Soup

Nothing evokes the feeling of fall than the smell of soup cooking in the kitchen.  Maybe I am bringing it just a tad early this year seeing how it is still Texas. However, because of the storms that blew threw last night, the temperature for much of this morning was 30 degrees cooler than normal (yes, you read that correctly...30 degrees cooler).  Which means that it felt like 78 degrees as opposed to 108 degrees.  Whatever the reason, I was really just looking for a good excuse to make this Taco Soup.  I love taco soup so much that I could eat it just about every day.  Even on a hot one, or a less hot one. 

See recipe below: