Archives for October 2011

Weekend Color

Here’s what PhilBillPaul and I did this weekend.

It’s one of the things I love about living in Georgia. We can drive to two other states in just a few hours and be back home in the same day.

Bonus: Just the two of us. All day in the car.

Thank you to The Grunter and Wizzy for taking care of Scary Baby while she did a few chores to help earn a few privileges back.

This was taken out the car window as we drove through the the North Georgia mountains.

Tennessee on the Cherohala Skyway

Absolutely our favorite time of year.

Imagine these photos if I didn’t have a point and shoot camera.

The colors were magnificent.

North Carolina on the Cherohala Skyway

I was shocked when we crossed over from Tennessee to North Carolina that there were no more leaves. It looked like a haunted forest.

There was even a tiny bit of snow.


Those poor people in the Northeast.

It’s a little nippy here in the south too. When temperatures get down in the 50’s and 60’s we start freezing.

We were heading up higher on the Skyway but when we discovered there were no leaves left on the North Carolina side, we raced back down as we watched the sunset.

Finally, we got to a lookout point and I got to capture the last glimpse of all the layers of color as the sun disappeared.

Simply glorious.

We also managed to have some of our favorite food.

I know you are shocked by this.

We were disappointed when we missed Hardee’s breakfast hours.

Did you know the bologna biscuit is back?

Yeah, me neither and I would have been fine never knowing. Really, do people order these?

We recovered by having our favorite cheeseburger from here and an apple fritter from here.

No food pictures but yum!

On Sunday we had delicious creamy chicken and wild rice soup and cornbread and watched football and Scary Baby carved her pumpkin.

She picked a pretty ambitious design found on the internet.

And thankfully, she finally decided sharpie marker eyes would suffice.

Happy Halloween!

How’s the weather where you live? Are the autumn colors all but gone?


College Care Packages

I’m a big believer in giving gifts that are memorable and that I can add a personal touch to whenever possible.

This leads to some gift procrastination because I’m sometimes a little slow coming up with an idea.

Way back in May, I was stuck on giving several high school graduation gifts that would be personal even though I know that most graduates love good old-fashioned cash or the more hip and cool gift cards.

Easy gifts that are very appreciated from my own experience of having 3 high school graduates who were very grateful!

Finally, I came up with what I thought was a great idea for gifts.

In August.

Not very timely for the May and June graduates.

Until I realized that the gift recipients were going to college and it would be way more fun to mail their graduation gifts as care packages.

So in September I ordered 3 copies of this favorite book.

And then I got busy and started baking. I made 3 different kinds of quick bread (no yeast).

I might have made more than 3 loaves. Good time to freeze bread. You know, I like to bake in batches. Great little gifts any time!

I did this baking over two weekends not all at once.

I made 3 different kinds of cookies. Chocolate Chip were the obvious first choice.

Next I wanted to try these Triple Threat Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cookies and they did not disappoint.

Who wouldn’t love a box filled with 3 dozen cookies?

The chocolate chip cookies were made the weekend before so they were frozen in little dollar store foil containers. I decided the 3rd kind should be chocolate-free so I made Lemon Drops

And 3 adorable mini loaves of bread?

Pumpkin Bread, Banana Bread & Poppy Seed Bread

To share or hoard as I told the new college freshmen in the note I sent in each box.

I’ve heard via texting, phone and a lovely handwritten note that they enjoyed all the goodies.

Send a college kid a care package if you can. Any time of year, for no special occasion, just because you’re thinking of them. In fact, I think you can send anybody a care package and they’ll love it!

Next week I’ll share our new favorite cookies that are the best I’ve made in YEARS!


Marry Someone Handy

Keeping with the marriage theme from Monday (okay it was marriage and eating)…

Here’s some excellent advice I received from Junebug many years ago.

I do feel it is important to document her words here because I want to pass them on to my kids and be sure they don’t get lost in translation over the years.


That might be paraphrased a tiny bit.

I’d like a little credit for following that advice when I’ve been known to do the exact opposite of any advice she was doling out for free through the years.

PhilBillPaul is as handy as they come.

I know there are jealous women who only wish their husbands could be half as handy as he is. They have asked to hire him. I know I could rent him out.

But who really wants a grouchy handy man? Seriously, he’s not super nice when he gets dirty, especially if he has to work on electrical or plumbing. He would rather clean his fish tank. Or look on craigslist for girlfriend motorcycle parts.

Being handy ruins his weekends.

All this and I will confess right now, I’m glad I’m not a guy.

Keep in mind I run a pretty tight ship as household manager. I am excellent at delegating. High on my list of accomplishments is teaching four children life skills that will take them far in the world. Not bragging, just stating the facts that I’ve spent the bulk of motherhood teaching them to do things for themselves instead of waiting for other people to do it for them (especially their mother as they will all confirm).

Mr. Handy has been busy fixing ANOTHER leak this past weekend. This special leak was discovered when our water bill went from approximately $35 a month to $88 last month.

Thank goodness we have piles of money lying around and we just throw it out the window for anyone who drives by so they can catch it and do whatever they want with it.

I really do appreciate how much we can save in home repairs being married to Mr. Handy. For him though, it’s not just about saving money – he loves the challenge of solving and fixing the problem. He is a fixer and the more a problem baffles him, the more he digs in (pun intended) to figure it out.

Me – I’d call someone every time.

Opposites attract, I hear.

Meanwhile PhilBillPaul has spent the last week digging up pipe from the front yard water meter to under the porch.

This is after he established the leak was not in the house. The sink flood on my birthday does not count. That was just The Grunter yanking a towel out from the cabinet and breaking the pipe. Therefore he is not financially responsible for this new whopper of a leak.

Scary Baby was kind enough to take pictures of all his hard work and dirty tools.

Side note: Scary Baby got a little feisty about all the dirt and mud he got on her gardening tools. Including THE HANDLES. Notice her little fingers barely holding the dirty handle.

Poor PhilBillPaul has had to crawl under the porch and dig.

I can barely step outside thinking of what all he might discover under the porch so I stay in my bedroom sanctuary and type blog posts and take naps and pray nothing poisonous bites him.

I’m also baking and cooking up a storm so I don’t feel as guilty that I’m clearly failing as a feminist and acting like a prissy girl because I don’t want to get any mud or dirt on me.

But I’m rooting him on.

I’ll make him some pumpkin bars because they are his favorite as soon as I have water.

Maybe Scary Baby will be brave enough to crawl under the porch and deliver one to him…

Update: We have water. We are currently not discussing the white pipe in the front yard. I’m certain he has a plan for that. I repeat, we have water. That’s all that matters.

Any great marriage tips you received from family or friends? Do tell! Share in the comments.


Midwest Eating Tour

Eating our way through each state is what we do best.

PhilBillPaul and I took a whirlwind trip for a wedding.

On the drive up in the middle of the night, we began our day with a less than stellar breakfast at Denny’s. The grand slam that wasn’t.

We did laugh (and feel a little sick) reading about this new twist on a grilled cheese.

Are you kidding me? Yes, that is four fried cheese sticks inside the grilled cheese. I LOVE cheese but seriously? Don’t even look at the nutritional info for this scary sandwich.

We did not order this. We did discuss that several of our children would have.

For lunch we used that not-handy GPS that took us to a non-existent Culver’s. We would not be deterred and drove around in circles until we found one. Thank goodness because while I’ve had Culver’s several times in the past few years, PhilBillPaul reminded me on the whole trip, he had not.

We made it to the Quad Cities in time for rehearsal dinner with a beautiful wedding the next day.

You know you are old when you attend the wedding of the baby that was about to be born the weekend you were getting married 24 years ago.

picture “lifted” from Dan’s facebook page

We celebrated our anniversary on Monday, 10-10 in the town we got married in after we watched that baby get married on 10-8-11.

It was an extra special wedding since that baby’s mom is a sorority sister and the baby also became a Pi Phi. That’s a story for another blog post.

Thanks Ann and Dan for being such lovely hosts and allowing us to celebrate with you on this important day.

We dined with that baby’s parents the day after the wedding. Village Inn breakfast with pumpkin pancakes with pecans. Oh my.

We do love visiting all the restaurants we don’t have in the South.

PhilBillPaul had just one night before he flew home for work and to hold down the fort so we were able to have Sunday dinner with my mother and siblings at our favorite italian restaurant in Rockford ~ Lino’s.

How can you beat an October dinner special of half lasagna and half pasta of your choice, salad, coffee and ice cream for $7.00? Yum!

On Monday before his flight, we crammed in an orchard visit.

Fond memories at the orchard where we have visited for so many years. Everett’s first visit was when he was about six weeks old.

They’ve all picked berries and had cider donuts in the cellar.

And pie.

It was nostalgic mixed with a little sadness that it has turned into a big orchard business machine.

I only bought one.

On our way to O’Hare, we got a perfect sausage and cheese pizza from Anna Marie’s.

That was his anniversary present. I’m pretty sure pizza is for 24 years. PhilBillPaul sweetly said he’s looking forward to the next 24 and we both agreed a trip without our 4 darlings was a very good present to ourselves.

Or maybe 24 years is honey? I could never keep track of that stuff. My sister kindly picked up 2 lbs. of Midwest honey for him because he doesn’t like most of the honey we’ve tried in the South.

We were both bummed we couldn’t squeeze in a meal at Gray Brothers but we just didn’t have time.

I continued the eating tour without him and had lunch with a high school friend. We hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years. We had lots to catch up on and lunch might have lasted until 5:30. Hi Melodi!

Movie night with sisters and mom meant one more Midwest pizza with Wisconsin cheese that embarrasses the cheese down South.

Dinner with two high school friends. {I really failed at food pictures on this trip and you know my point and shoot and cell phone photo skills are so awesome – guess I was too busy eating but trust me, the Wisconsin cheese curds on this night were delish.}

I squeezed in dinner with one of my aunts on my drive home.

After a good night’s sleep at an Indy hotel (thank you Toni!) and preparing my self mentally for the long drive home by myself, I did a quick search for a vintage drive-in with my kind of food.

I scored big.

It reminded me of the first drive-in I can ever remember going to called “The Teepee.” It was a giant treat when we were kids and our dad drove us to this cool place for the best cheeseburgers ever.

I was sure a cheeseburger wouldn’t be as good as the ones I remember fondly so I opted for a pork tenderloin sandwich.

It was a great choice and took me back to a time when we had pork fritters from the freezer at my Grandad’s farm. Definitely a Midwest thing!

Crinkle fries and coke with crushed ice. My personal little heaven.

Ketchup, salt and extra napkins in brown bag without even asking. Top notch service warranted a generous tip!

Loved every bite – it was a great meal to eat as I headed back to Georgia.

Late in the day, I found Culver’s (again) for one last treat before I crossed into Tennessee.

Don’t judge.

Thank you Bowling Green. Pumpkin pecan custard was flavor of the day and with caramel topping added, I was one happy driver!

Consider this your personal eating guide if you need to travel from Georgia to Illinois or back again.

I arrived home safely at almost midnight and was back in the car with PhilBillPaul and Scary Baby on Saturday so we could see the darling twins up at Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega.

That one in uniform was suppose to march in the parade but volunteered to take pictures instead because her little feet hurt in her tiny, shiny elf shoes.

I love everything about Fall – especially the food! Be sure to share any Midwest favorites in the comment section and I’ll add them to my list for next time.


One Movie and One Concert Not To Be Missed

Two things we did this summer that I forgot to tell you and you should put on your “to do” list…


See the movie “The Help”

I read the book last year and couldn’t put it down. I admit that I have low expectations whenever a book is turned into a movie. The people in my mind don’t match who they cast in the movie role. I also know you can’t cram all the depth of a book into 2 hours.

But in this case, I thought they did a stellar job and the casting was excellent.

Read the book before or after. Elizabeth bought the book after we saw the movie. Big endorsement as reading is not her favorite activity!

Either way, I believe the movie will entertain you, make you laugh, make you cry and most importantly make you think.

It’s worthy of discussion as a family.


See Keith Urban in concert.

Even if you don’t like country music. Even if you don’t score bargain last minute day of the concert tickets on craigslist like I did. Go ahead and splurge.

Photo courtesy of Joanna

One of the top three concerts we’ve ever been to.

This is from rocker PhilBillPaul who is not the biggest country music lover in the house.

I am.

The darling twins are.

They grabbed last minute tickets after they found out I did so it was fun to meet them in the lobby before the show.

They agreed and said best concert E.V.E.R.

Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve already seen the movie, read the book or fallen in love with Keith Urban in concert…


DIY Kitchen Renovations ~ Minor Updates

No, we haven’t painted the walls yet.

Or fixed the rotting window.

Or figured out what to put above the cabinets.

Side note: Open to suggestions for any dust-free decorating ideas for that 8 inches that I know should be decorated but I don’t collect anything and don’t like to dust so can I leave it empty without the decorating police arresting me?

And now PhilBillPaul has a new project in addition to all the other things we haven’t finished.

Which would be fixing the ceiling damage caused by the bathroom flood.

The joys of home ownership just keep giving.

If I keep my eyes from looking upward and ignore the ceiling, the updated kitchen makes me happy.

Let’s Focus on the Positive

We are still love, love, loving the counters and the backsplash and the cabinet glaze.

Here are the minor updates we’ve made:

All the beadboard is painted to match the cabinets.


Then we added some little touches…

$3.00 plate from Walmart. I don’t like a lot of loose items on the counters.

Fancy I tell you. That’s us.

As is evidenced by this $3.99 cabinet towel rack from Marshall’s.

It’s the little bargains that excite me.

A new coffee maker with stainless steel pot is a nice addition.

New rugs.

Love. Especially love that the small ones were $2.77 from Stein Mart with coupon. Large one was less than $6.00.

We PhilBillPaul painted our eight stools. Color selection was dicey with 4 different cans of spray paint.

These are the last two samples. I thought for sure we would pick a light color.

Once again, my fear of dark things was put to rest when we chose the darkest “rubbed bronze” rustoleum paint and I love the stools.

PhilBillPaul added a clear lacquer topcoat that really gave them a nice finish.

I like useful gifts so a new knife set was an exciting birthday present.

I have insisted that they are for KITCHEN and FOOD use only and that includes the scissors that came with the set. As I’ve shared before, I get crazy about scissor usage in this house.

Stainless tissue box was bonus clearance find at Marshall’s.

When we went out of town last week we locked the knives in our bedroom since Elizabeth grabbed a steak knife to open a box in the first week we owned them. I might have screamed.

We’ll see how long they stay sharp and none go missing.

We bought some fancy gourds for Scary Baby. She has a bit of a gourd obsession like her father.

She made a lovely arrangement with the $2.50 Target metal bucket.

I love all the earthtones with the black and stainless appliances mixed together. Fall is very busy so painting the walls with a pop of color might not happen until 2012. I’m waiting until Mr. Handy fixes the rotting window.

Until then, it’s functional and once the temperature dipped below 90º I was able turn on the craigslist oven and bake again.

I’ll share some of my favorite things I baked in the coming days!


Birthday Flood

It’s taken almost a month to recover from my birthday festivities.

Which is a long time considering I stopped celebrating or having any festivities after the milestone Birthday Beach Bash of 2003.

The morning began with me overhearing a plea from The Grunter down the hall to his sister…

“Elizabeth, how do you turn the water off in our bathroom? The sink is leaking and the bathroom is flooding.”

Next some sloshing sounds and Elizabeth calling her big brother an idiot.

Followed by mom peeking out to hear the gushing water and the shouting began.

“Someone go outside and cut the water off to the house.”

“Grab towels.”

“Grab more towels.”

“There are no more towels”

“Go get rag towels. Go to basement and get MORE towels.”

After we got the water cut off to the whole house and a few frantic calls to PhilBillPaul, I sent The Grunter off to school so he didn’t miss any classes and Elizabeth used the shop-vac to suck up the remaining water.

Our hero plumber a.k.a. PhilBillPaul came home and fixed the broken pipe under the sink. He assessed that The Grunter may have yanked a towel out from under the cabinet and it was caught on the pipe.

We also established that The Grunter might drown if he lived alone in an apartment. His slow motion response to the whole situation really disturbed me and his sister.

We all moved on and simply pretended it was my birthday on Friday instead of Thursday because I’m flexible like that.

Elizabeth and I had already planned to play golf which is one of my favorite things to do on a beautiful Fall day…

We invited the boys to join us and it really was a perfect and lovely day. The girls beat the boys or maybe mom beat everyone but I’m not gloating.

Tomorrow I’ll give you an update on the kitchen remodel and how the upstairs bathroom flood really enhanced the look of the downstairs kitchen ceiling.


Alive & Well

The list of blog topics grows but the time needed to write them and upload accompanying photos keeps slipping by.

Promise I’ll be back soon and share all the fun and frolic the Humpfreeze family continues to have…


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