My Favorite Beach

Just when I think I’ve got a regular blog rhythm going on…

Something interrupts the rhythm and the blog suffers neglect.

This time it was a last minute beach trip with one darling twin.

I’m not complaining.

In the rarest of moments, I was able to travel with just one Humpfreeze child and we got to spend 4 decadent nights at the beach.

It was a grand early Mother’s Day present and I’d like to make it a new tradition. One child and mom on a trip.

For those of you who had one child instead of 2, 3 or {gasp} 4, this may sound like no big deal but for me it was lovely one-on-one time with my darling Roger Leroy.

I even had the joy of forcing asking her to wear a dress to dinner.

Sorry Rachel but I had to put it on the blog for posterity’s sake.

COPYRIGHT WARNING to Rachel’s friends: Lifting pictures from the blog and posting them on Facebook is stealing. 😉

She preferred gym shorts and cruising around in the golf cart.

The beach in Destin was gorgeous. It rivals many beautiful beaches we’ve been fortunate enough to visit.

No pictures of the water but Rachel described the crystal clear water as looking like an ad on television for a tropical vacation in the Caribbean. She’s right!

I love that it is less than a six hour drive from our house. We stopped going in the crowded summer and I can confidently say that May and September are my favorite times to visit.

New way to spell Humpfreeze just in…

I’m still going with Humpfreeze but this comes in 2nd place for most creative.

Thanks Errin & Doug for outstanding accommodations!

A belated but heartfelt Happy Mother’s Day to all my women friends. I hope you had a wonderful day.

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Cupcakes & Horses

I’ve read in several places that a blogger should take time to write good headlines. Seems it can help your SEO and Google ranking and what not.

Pretty sure no one will be searching for cupcakes and horses but it is the first thing that came to mind when I sat down at my laptop to write this.

The cupcakes and horses are actually unrelated except for the fact that I wanted to share pictures from Easter weekend and Easter weekend seemed like a really lame headline since I’m writing about it a week later.

I know you like to get a glimpse of the inner workings of my mind.

Horses

Friday night that sweet sister Roger Leroy came to the house and picked up Scary Baby and took her up to her college dorm to spend the night.

A twelve year-old’s dream. She might have changed outfits 3 times before her sister arrived.

I reminded her she wasn’t going to any college parties.

Ahem.

Instead, her sweet sissy was taking her horseback riding.

This is a HUGE deal because she has had this obsession idea since Thanksgiving and is relentless about not letting an idea go until one of the Humpfreeze family members gives in to silence her begging.

Does she look excited? I love that she accessorized with a scarf.

She said she was eight feet in the air.

The trail ride was in the beautiful North Georgia mountains.

Parts of the trail up the mountain were very narrow. I heard it was a bit challenging to snap pictures from the saddle.

Apparently, Meadows’ horse had some personality and she had to pull over to adjust her saddle.

And Rachel’s horse had no personality and was a bit of a slacker in keeping up with the group. Our speed demon circus baby is not familiar with coming in last.

Thank you Roger Leroy. From the bottom of our hearts.

Cupcakes

I cooked my heart out for Easter this year. The twenties and the tween each invited a guest so we were feeding ten.

Cooking all day on Saturday so we could enjoy a meal together was my plan.

Our menu included a marginal Costco ham but the side dishes made up for it.

If you haven’t made Pioneer Woman’s Au Gratin potatoes yet, do so immediately. Your family will thank you.

PhilBillPaul said the macaroni and cheese was the best ever. Big compliment because I’ve always made fabulous mac & cheese. I tried a new recipe that I’ve had for years but just got around to trying. It’s a keeper.

Love that you don’t have to make a roux or melt all the cheese. My changes to the recipe: I used muenster and mozzarella in the pot with the noodles and then topped it with shredded cheddar before baking. I omitted the onions and added a little onion salt. Loved the dry mustard, nutmeg, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Yum!

Mose-e-ack jello a.k.a. mosaic jello was a special surprise for Roger Leroy. My little thank you for taking Scary Baby horseback riding.

I did manage to snap a quick picture of the Easter treats. I even whipped up little cellophane bags for the guests.

Don’t worry, that concludes any attempts at craftiness from me for the year.

Obviously, I failed in Easter picture taking this year since I didn’t take any pictures of the people. But I think I passed in the cooking category.

It might be because I have cut way, way back on sugar and the idea of making TWO desserts made me dizzy.

Or not.

Just know that in addition to making my absolute favorite and perfect lemon cake, I made the best cupcakes I have ever made or eaten.

Please admire the white, wrinkled sheet we used as a tablecloth.

Fan-cee is how we roll.

Special thanks to My Baking Addiction for the Chocolate Malt Cupcakes recipe inspiration on Friday night.

The cupcake recipe is very close to our favorite doctored up cake mix recipe which is the one I used. One subtraction: I left out the espresso granules. One addition: 2 cups of chocolate chips.

The buttercream frosting is so freaking good that we are still talking about it this week and I’m making them again on Wednesday. One change on frosting recipe is that I used 1/3 cup of regular baking cocoa and 1/3 cup of Hershey’s® Special Dark cocoa…only because I ran out of regular baking cocoa. Pretty sure it will be sublime with what ever cocoa you use. Maybe it’s the 4 sticks of butter and/or the 5 minutes of beating.

I recommended them to my friend Leigh Anne and suggested she might just want to make the frosting. No cupcake necessary.

But if you want something to hold the frosting other than a bowl, go ahead and make the cupcake too.

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Basketball Groupies

Indiana basketball is alive and well here at the Humpfreeze house.

Even if Indiana lost on Friday night to Kentucky.

The loss did not take the shine off Roger Leroy’s meeting with a few basketball players she and her friends *chased* down during a Hawks game last Thursday night.

She emailed us this picture…

Who knew those three North Georgia cadet students would look so tiny compared to these strapping Indiana University basketball students?

When some of the players didn’t acknowledge them, Will Sheehey (he’s the middle guy) turned around and talked to them and they graciously agreed to this photo op.

My good friend, Google, revealed that Will has a twin named Elizabeth.

Shut up.

If they had only had time to talk, she could have at least invited him over for dinner. 😉

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Country Music Bucket List

Many of you, some of you, none of you may be happy to know that my country music bucket list now feels complete.

We are a house divided.

You may remember that PhilBillPaul listens to country music because he married me. Attending country music concerts has never been on his bucket list. The Grunter is on his side.

I’ve enjoyed Nashville with the darling twins several times and they got to mark off their bucket list meeting Taylor Swift.

Months and months ago I put a concert date on my calendar.

Only TWELVE (12) concert dates for the whole year. And one was here in lovely Gwinnett County.

I announced it would be my early Valentine’s Day present and I would go by myself if necessary.

Then I forgot until this week.

At 5:00 pm I was searching Craigslist and eBay for last minute tickets to a sold-out show.

The concert started at 7:30 pm.

Living on the edge, that’s me.

On Friday night, I attended that concert and PhilBillPaul was kind enough to accompany me because he’s nice like that.

He was one singer I had never seen live.

Granny told us years ago, “You know he just stands there and sings and plays his guitar.” which made me laugh.

Everyone can’t be Keith Urban.

I might have a few of his songs on my iTunes.

Granny was right.

George Strait stood there and played his guitar and sang for several hours.

It was awesome!

Martina McBride was also amazing as his opening act.

Even if you don’t love country music, go listen to this one and tell me you can open yourself up to a little twang every once in a while.

The Breath You Take

30 years of hits and I’m so glad I finally got to see him live.

Love.

What singer or group is on your bucket list that you haven’t seen yet?

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A Few of My Favorite Things

I’m pretty sure I blinked and December was over.

It was certainly not my intent to blog just one puny time in December.

We’re all fine, fine, fine here in Georgia.

When I don’t blog it does not necessarily mean that bad things are happening at the Humpfreeze house or I have taken extra medication to get through the holidays.

In fact, December was medication-free and it was a very good month! It just went by entirely too fast.

I’d like to tell you it is because I’m busier than the rest of the universe. Especially in December.

But that would start my new year off with a big lie.

Instead, I decided to share a few of my favorite things from our Humpfreeze holidays where all six of us gathered in our house together for almost the whole month and we have all lived to tell about it.

For those of you who might not remember, that means 2 adults, 3 semi-adults (the “twenties” people) and one tween all lived under one roof.

At. The. Same. Time.

We squeezed in the baking frenzy for the teachers and grandmas. PhilBillPaul made 3 kinds of fudge, pecans and pretzels. Then I got busy with bread and cookies. Scary Baby helped wrap and organize her 5 teacher gifts.

Guess we forgot to take pictures of the cute packaging and gift tags this year.

Plus random photo of small Charlie Brown-like blue Christmas tree in Scary Baby bedroom. She loves it.

And one darling twin and a friend (hi Rowe!) helped with the packaging until 2:00 a.m.

Perhaps she helped (for the first time ever) because she wanted to send a giant care package to a soldier friend in Afghanistan.

That’s a pretty good ulterior motive in my book and I appreciated their help!

I traveled at the beginning of the month and when I came home, Scary Baby had done a superb job of trimming the tree that she and PhilBillPaul picked out at Costco from the Marines selling trees there this year.

It’s not Christmas until we take at least a few of the kids to Waffle House. We like to reminisce about the year we drove to Illinois for Christmas and Waffle House was the only place open so we had to eat there 3 times in 24 hours with three toddlers in tow. Super fun!

On Christmas Eve we stuck to our regular traditions…

A special thank you to Mr. Humpfreeze who took it upon himself to get almost everything ready for fondue. I only had to make the breakfast casserole and cheesy potatoes for the next morning.

Never happened before. Very nice. Think it should be a new tradition!

Opening one gift on Christmas Eve

Please take note of how dressed up my darling children get for Christmas Eve. It appears some of them are in pajamas opening pajamas.

They are always *shocked* that the gift is new pajamas. Correction – it is fuzzy sleep pants and t-shirts that don’t match because wearing a matching set of pajamas is very uncool.

We played a few games.

Then another darling twin actually helped me wrap. And announced,

“I’m tired of wrapping.”

To which I replied,

“Imagine that I’ve been doing this all by myself for the 4 of you for 20+ years.”

I liked the help. Another new tradition to add for next year.

Christmas Morning

Bad cell phone picture of sweet daughters keeping warm and sleeping a little more with their daddy while trying to convince Everett to get up.

This almost became our first Christmas where we weren’t all together on Christmas morning because Everett had to work at 7:00 a.m. Luckily, his shift changed at the last minute so he came down in his uniform and opened his gifts.

Our pumpkin has worked on Christmas day for the last six years. Remember to thank those people who go to work so you can see a movie or get gas on Christmas day.

My favorite Christmas gift…

My favorite Christmas gift I gave Scary Baby…

I ordered this print after seeing it many months ago online and being on a wait list for the next printing. I think it should follow her all the way to her college dorm room to remind her how much we love her. 😉

During the holiday break, the darling twins took their darling little sister ice skating. Tiny cell phone picture not available.

PhilBillPaul and I also took Scary Baby and a friend to a movie.

War Horse ~ worth seeing but…the horses are quite large when you are sitting in the SECOND ROW of a very crowded, small theater.

This picture taken with my cell phone really doesn’t do justice to the view. No extra charge for neck strain. Or the bonus 4 year-old who joins your family to watch the movie with you talk to you during the movie. Repeatedly. His family didn’t seem to mind him walking down the row as he hopped from seat to seat.

This future blog topic on movie etiquette will be followed by a discussion on why I’ve become a recluse and no longer engage in public outings in small places and why people bring young children to 2-1/2 hour movies they are not suited for.

New Year’s Eve

Ours was wild.

Or not.

The darling twins went up to North Georgia for their own party. Everett and 3 friends came to hang out after a movie.

We went to the store because I declared “no more cooking!”

Frozen cream puffs for Scary Baby – her personal favorite. Store bought cookies and cupcakes. Leftover candy and fudge. Paper plates and plastic silverware. Frozen pigs in a blanket. Tablecloth? Nah, we were washing the sheet we had used at Christmas. Don’t judge.

Potato chips, dip, cheese, crackers – super fancy.

Scary Baby couldn’t wait to open the sparkling grape juice.

She washed a champagne flute she found that I had purchased at Target years ago. Clearance price tag on it said .62¢

We squeezed in a game of Bananagrams.

And toasted in the new year…

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and spent it with your favorite people…

More fun stuff to share but first, I have to try to figure out a manageable blog schedule for 2012.

Until then, please do tell how you spent the holidays and what you’re looking forward to in the new year!

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Back From North Carolina

I’d like to tell you we were gone for two weeks without internet since that’s how long it’s been since I’ve blogged.

But that would be a lie.

I guess it took me a week to prepare to go to North Carolina.

Or not.

Mostly, November has flown by in a blur.

Granny flew in from Texas the week before Thanksgiving and we headed to a cabin on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Here’s a pictorial from our week in Murphy, North Carolina…

Though not very high up in the mountains, the cabin was off the beaten path and lovely.

We were in a small cabin “neighborhood” of 17 cabins or chalets. Some people refer to them as luxury cabins or homes. I guess this is because some people’s definition of a cabin is a cement floor and an outhouse down the mountain by the creek where you draw some ice cold water to bathe in.

We have personally grown fond of a few more amenities and I’m not too proud to admit that. I’m all about running water, electricity and leather furniture. 😉

We arrived in shifts on different days since the college kids still had classes and two of them had to work. I heard too late that the basement bedroom had the best bed.

The Grunter and I arrived on Sunday and Scary Baby immediately challenged us to a game of pool. She and Granny and PhilBillPaul had already been shopping in town which is where she scored the sock monkey hat that she did not take off during the entire week. (Except to shower – I confirmed this.)

The dog boys were very excited to accompany us on vacation and enjoyed many walks up and down some rolling hills. It was excellent physical therapy for Dudley.

The darling twins arrived next and the dogs are always excited to see them.

The dogs haven’t had this much attention in a very long time.

We also ventured out for some scenic driving and Scary Baby was excited to see wildlife a chicken from our car.

It got more exciting when she squealed, “Are those cows loose in the road up there?”

Yes. The cows were obviously loose as I jumped out to snap photos just like city slickers do when they see cows in the road.

The Grunter said he didn’t want to go on a 4 hour scenic car ride. This is what he and his sister were doing just before the cow sighting.

Luckily, they were not asleep when we drove to Blue Ridge, Georgia in search of this cupcake shop.

Minutes before they closed, we snagged some of their very last cupcakes to bring back to the cabin. Four chocolate lava fudge (one might be missing), one apple caramel and one pecan pie cupcake. The Sweet Shoppe lived up to its name.

Of course we played euchre every single day. PhilBillPaul gets a little obsessed with it.

Sabu was there to help him. Not that he needs it because he is the Euchre King.

Dudley was not left out.

Side note: Notice Wizzy’s cell phone. It was almost a technology-free holiday. NO internet but if they stood in certain places they could still text and sometimes make calls.

Rachel bought a puzzle and introduced Scary Baby to her new obsession which is gluing the puzzle together after they complete it.

All in all, it was a good week away and in spite of some very loud bickering and competitive game playing, I do love when we are all together and I see the college kids becoming semi-adults.

When we are not fighting and talking ugly to one another, we laugh a lot.

I choose to remember the laughing.

Black Friday at Walmart which was really at 10:00 pm on Thursday was another adventure for the memory book. Sorry, no photos and my bruise is almost gone from some really aggressive pillow grabbing for Elizabeth while she scored a king-sized memory foam mattress top for us.

My favorite photo from the week…

Look, she took the sock monkey hat off in this one unstaged photo that PhilBillPaul captured.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving together. Thanks Granny, for enduring the Georgia Humpfreeze clan and spending time with us!

How did you spend your Thanksgiving? I hope you all spent time with the ones you love…

P.S. Should you ever want to explore Murphy, North Carolina, we’ve got the beat on a very affordable cabin and Granny gets a referral so just ask me for the info!

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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…

#1

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.

#2

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…

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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.

Love.

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!

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Treat Bar Winner

Lucky #7 won the cereal treat bars!

Tracy is the winner and her daughter should really appreciate “Lucky #7″ since she’ll be getting charms with her lucky when their prize pack arrives.

Seems Mom really likes the charms!

Tracy, please use my contact form to send me your mailing address so I can submit your information and you can receive your box of cereal treat bars and goodies.

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Golden Grahams Love

Scary Baby has been begging me to buy these treat bars.

I ignored her pleas since we’ve been in a bit of a cereal battle here at the Humpfreeze house. We have spent several years trying to wean her off cereal. We know that starting the day with protein vs. a sugar high is a better for her especially to start her school day.

You know we’re not earthy crunchy. You know we love our sweets. But we are trying to take baby steps to improve our diets and that’s hard when you are a sugar addict!

I know deprivation doesn’t work so I’m always looking for “healthier” treats. I also know that’s subjective and everyone has an opinion on that.

The best progress we’ve made is to keep her choices in the 10 sugar grams per serving or less otherwise it’s like eating dessert for breakfast.

Don’t judge.

Side note: Golden Grahams may be my personal favorite cereal. Ever. Ate it in high school one entire year. Love it.

Lucky Charms. Not so much.

Scary Baby loves both.

I just don’t want marshmallows or chocolate for breakfast.

When I was offered the opportunity to review the very treat bars that Scary Baby wanted soooo bad, I thought this might be a good treat for both of us.

My opinion is that a treat bar with 13 grams of sugar and less than 140 calories per bar could be a good after school snack instead of a candy bar and a soda. (Not saying that was ever her snack!)

We all really liked them. The Golden Grahams treat bar was the definite winner at our house! Four out of five of us preferred them over the Lucky Charms treat bars. (Roger Leroy wasn’t home to try them.)

General Mills is offering one lucky reader a prize package just like they sent us.

Who doesn’t like to get a box of free goodies in the mail?

The prize pack contains:

  • One box of Lucky Charms® Cereal Treats Bars
  • One box of Golden Grahams® Cereal Treats Bars
  • Lunch bag
  • Locker whiteboard
  • Colored pencil set

You can also get coupons if you check out Cereal Treats Bars online for great information and coupons for new products.

Now leave a comment and let me know which treat bar you think you will like the best. Come on, you know you want to try them!

Entry rules:

One entry per person

No entries after Monday at midnight EST

I’ll pick a winner on Tuesday, September 6th after the holiday weekend.

Disclosure: Cereal Treats Bars, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark. Opinions on my blog are my own.

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