Thursday, June 30, 2011

Prayers...

Hey Everyone,

I promise I'll get back to you individually as soon as I can! I'm a little behind!
In the mean time, can I please ask you to pray for my Grandaddy Bubba? He went in to the hospital Monday with severe pain in his right side, and after some tests, they discovered a mass on his liver. It turns out, after biopsy, that this mass is indeed cancer. This has come as a bit of a shock, as my grandaddy, with the exception of having diabetes, is the picture of health (eats healthy, exercises every day, is not overweight or taking lots of medicines, etc.). So please pray for him as well as my grandmother, Lanie.

If you'd like to send them a card of encouragement, I know they'd appreciate it. They certainly need their spirits lifted at this time!

Here is their address:

Bubba and Elaine Rutledge
208 Woodbury Court
Florence, AL 35630

We should know more in the coming weeks; they are going to see a specialist in Birmingham soon.
Please pray for them!

Also pray for my parents, who leave tomorrow for a mission trip (their first!) to Antigua! They are so excited to be able to go on this trip, but of course with everything going on with Bubba there is some definite anxiety and fear. Thank you so much, everyone! And thanks for your patience with the blog designs! I'll get to what I can during nap time and between phone calls!
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A few pictures and BAJA PORK TACOS!

It's impossible to get a perfect picture of two kids. I'm just going to have to deal with that. But the outtakes are sometimes too funny not to post. So here you go.

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Now, onto something that is guaranteed to turn out great every time - these baja pork tacos.

I made them up.

No, I really didn't. Not all the way. The pork marinade is stolen from MyRecipes.com. So I can't take credit for it, because my BFF works there and probably wrote the recipe and would sue me. But I can take credit for putting that pork into a taco. Oh yes I can.

Seriously, please make this soon. And please pair it up with some of my mom's salsa and margarita cake. I can think of no better meal.

Baja Pork Tacos with Cilantro Cream Sauce
*this will serve about 4 people; so double it for company*


Cilantro Cream (a.k.a. Green Dip)
1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 jar jalepenos
(optional: 1 pkt Ranch dressing mix) *I did not add this and it still tastes wonderful!*

Put all in food processor, blend until smooth. Taste. Refrigerate.

Pork Ingredients:
1-lb pork tenderloin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, minced
1/2 jalepeno pepper, minced
3 T. chopped fresh cilantro
2 T. fresh lime juice
1.5 T. tequila
1 T. fresh orange juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder

Mix all the ingredients (except the pork) in a small mixing bowl. Cut your pork tenderloins diagonally into 1-inch slices.) Put into gallon ziplock bag and pour the marinade in; let pork marinate for however long you want. (The longer the better, in my opinion, although the official recipe says 1 hour. The recipe also says to spread this marinade over 2 pork tenderloins; I only used one and it was great! Not overpowering - the perfect amount of flavor!) You'll want to turn it occasionally as well.
Then preheat your grill, and grill it over medium high heat until it's done. This will take about 5-7 minutes at most. (If you grill it over high heat maybe 4-5 minutes at most!)

Meanwhile, you'll want to get your fixins' together. Here's what you'll need:

Tortillas (large)
1 bag of cabbage mix
Shredded cheese (We use the Fiesta blend.)
(Tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, black beans, rice... just whatever you like to eat with tacos!)

When your pork is done, cut each 1-inch slice into super thin strips, like you'd see on a Fajita platter at your favorite Mexican restaurant. Then, spread some cilantro cream on your warmed tortilla; add cabbage, some shredded cheese, and some of your grilled pork tenderloin. Roll it up and indulge!

I promise you will love this recipe!
This marinade would also be wonderful on chicken, fish, or steak, and I plan to use it from now on when we have a Mexican night! It is fabulous and I'm so glad I found it! A keeper, for sure.

(Sorry there are no pictures! By the time I realized how much I liked this dish, there was absolutely no stopping me from devouring my plate and anything near it.) Enjoy!

By the way, keep telling your friends about the blog designs, please! I have gotten the hang of it now and am relatively caught up! If you want to see an updated list of the ones I've completed, go to the link under "Blog Designs" over there to the right! Thanks, yall!
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Amy's Blog

I designed this for Amy today, and I'm kinda wishing I'd saved this one for myself. Love the purple and turquoise combo!


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The Pantry

Remember when I reorganized my pantry last week? I was so proud of all my hard work.

And then yesterday morning I woke up, went to get my coffee out of my handy dandy beverage bin, and my coffee cannister was gone...

...as well as my coffee filters.
And my beverage bin.
And my canned goods...
All of my canned goods.

[insert Mom-who-walks-immediately-to-her-toddler's-bedroom-because-she-knows-something-is-up!]

Oh, me.


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Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Catch on Father's Day

We spent Father's Day here in Birmingham with family. We worshipped at North Shelby and then Chad's mom cooked for all of us... the food was delish, of course, and the kids had fun hanging out with their cousins and grandparents.

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This little dude wasn't in the best of moods due to an upset tummy. He couldn't seem to keep anything down and was a little cranky after missing his morning nap. But after a bubble bath, a change of clothes and some juice, he perked up a little.
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One of the things on our bucket list for the summer is to fish in the pond at Grandaddy's. So Chad decided that Father's Day would be the day. On the way back from church he stopped at Academy and went in to get Mary Ella her first rod and reel. I told him I'd be glad to run in and get it and he quickly told me no, that he was going to pick out his daughter's first fishing rod. I didn't argue! And when he presented it to Mary Ella, she didn't argue either. Hot pink + Dora + glitter = winning combination.

After lunch we ventured off to the pond. Grandaddy and MeMama live on what used to be a golf course. I think they've closed the clubhouse now and this is what remains of the greens. Sad!  :(
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Here's our fishin' hole.
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I snapped a few pictures at the beginning when Chad was teaching Mary Ella the basics of fishing for brim (with Velveeta for bait, nonetheless!)
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She practiced and practiced... waited and waited...
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It was getting hotter by the minute but still, we waited and waited.
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After almost an hour of fishing with no luck whatsoever, they had almost decided to call it a day.
But then...
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She got her first bite!
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Chad coached her through reeling it in and she did everything herself until the fish reached the edge of the stone wall, and then he helped her pull it up out of the water! (Notice how she is making sure I am capturing the moment - ha!)
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I don't think any of us could believe it... after that long we finally caught a fish! And SHE caught it herself!
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Now that's a proud Daddy.
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She couldn't stop looking at the fish. And Chad couldn't stop smiling. (Neither could I.)
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I have a feeling he'll remember this Father's Day for a long time!
fishy

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blog Prices....

I am so thankful for all of you and your awesome support of this blog design stuff. WOW!

Unfortunately, you are supporting me so much that I am going to have to go up just a little on my prices... I promise it is not because I am money hungry or greedy or just plain ugly; it's because I am backed up... way backed up... and this is taking a little more time than I originally thought it would! Actually, it's taking a LOT more time than I originally thought it would! Don't get me wrong - THANKFUL is the key word, and I am soooo thankful! I truly am. But I am spending every single spare moment that I have working on this stuff; rearranging, e-mailing, tweaking, re-doing, re-re-doing, changing my mind, emailing some more, finding clip art, finding inspiration, the list goes on and on! When I was doing it for family, I was basically doing it on my own terms with no real "input" from my so-called clients (they were just happy to have a new blog design, and didn't really care how it looked as long as it was new and cuter than what they had before!) But now that I have paying customers, it takes a lot more time, research, energy, and detail, because I want to make it PERFECT! Soooo... if you've already e-mailed me saying you want a blog, you still get the $20 makeover. But I'm going up to $30, folks. Sorry to do this! I never imagined I would have the response I've had and I've been so blessed. The headers are going up to $20 because this seems to be the most time-consuming part and the part I am getting the most orders for; again, if we've already been in contact by e-mail, you're good to go, so no worries on a price change.

Thanks again for all of your support! I am so grateful!

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Monday, June 20, 2011

I should add...

First of all, I am OVERWHELMED at the responses from all of you who need/want blog designs! I am so excited! I told Chad I might move my "office corner" in our laundry room down to his office and totally take it over so that I can have a quiet, more comfortable space to work in, because clearly, and thankfully, I have some work to do! And that would give me a new house project! Goodbye hunter green office, HELLOOOO bright colored sewing/craft/work room!!! (Mwuahahaha!) Seriously, though,  I am so grateful and I hope this continues so that I can fund the office re-do.

I forgot to mention a couple things in my last post; the first being that if you sign up for a design, if you would, go ahead and make yourself a temporary "new" password for your blogger account, so that I can get into your blogger account and set up your design. I know this seems like an inconvenient, and maybe even a slightly risky/creepy thing, to let someone that you might not know "hack" into your account for a day or so, but I hope most of you can tell by reading this blog that I am a trustworthy person, and I would never do anything crazy to you! (Not that there is anything "crazy" you can do by hacking into blogger! HA!) Anyway, just wanted to get that out there in case anyone is not-too-keen on letting me in to their blog. It is just much easier for me to do it this way, because there is LOTS to do as far as tweaking goes, when it comes to setting up a new design; resizing, setting up HTML codes, putting things in the right places, making sure the codes/links actually work, etc. And instead of e-mailing you a long list of directions and risking me not being able to explain everything, it'll be easier if I just log in and do it for you!

And if you have ANY hesitations at all, you can talk to my friend Ana, who has generously allowed me to be in her blogger account for days, trying to tweak everything and get it exactly right. Thanks, Ana! (And I'm still not done yet! Ha!)

If you have a blog background from another site (like ShabbyBlogs, Cutest Blog on the Block, etc) that you really like, I'll be happy to design the rest of your blog like your header, signature, sidebar labels, etc, around that background, using similar graphics, fonts, etc. So that is a possibility if you don't need the total overhaul but would still like something matchy and cohesive!

And if you aren't sure WHAT you want but you know you want SOMETHING, just e-mail me the link to your current blog and I'll tell you what I recommend! I've had several of you do this and it gives me a good starting point! Or if you see a blog online that you like, send me that link and I'll try to fashion something similar for you.

Also, I will be glad to use any pictures that you'd like to send me. However, if you have kids, just know that your kids will grow up and eventually the picture on your header will have to be changed! Lots of people opt to go with headers that have only words (like mine above) because, like I said, those pictures will need to be changed out to more current ones eventually. It's easier to put pictures of your kiddos on the side bar, because those can be changed out with the click of a mouse. And we're not talking changing out pictures within weeks here, more like several months or even a year! So YOU do what YOU want for YOUR blog! That is most important! And it's not so much an issue with older kids, because they don't change nearly as fast. But you should know that because of the way my design program works, in order to just "change out" a picture, I have to create an entirely new header :(  I know, it's a bummer, for me AND you. So if you want a picture "change out" in a few months I'll have to charge you for the entire new header. Sorry! If that changes I'll be the first to let you know!

Also, I'll be glad to use pictures from your professional photographer; I just have to have that photographer's permission first! Most people have been super sweet and okay with it. I just don't want to infringe on anyone's copyright! So just get permission from your photographer first, and forward me the pictures as well as your photographer's email saying that it is a-ok!

Many of you Florence peeps have asked about my sister's business, Betsy Campbell Interiors, so here is my shameless plug: my sister Betsy has an AMAZING knack for interior design, staging, organizing, CLEANING, etc. Everything from what to put over your mantle to where to find great lamps to organizing your bathroom drawer to how to clean your bathtub. Seriously, she is unreal. And she hasn't officially started her business but will be offering cleaning services, organization, staging, design tips, etc, in the very near future, as soon as she gets her logistics worked out. I think she is already taking people's names for cleaning, so if you want someone trustworthy to clean/organize for you, give her a call or e-mail. Her contact info is on her blog.

And lastly, here is a blog I finished this weekend for my amazing aunt, Amanda. She has added some pictures and post dated them so that she can keep up with the pictures she still has since before the fire.





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Friday, June 17, 2011

Blog Design Adventure.

Hey Kiddos! I'm here to make an important public service announcement.

(To be said in your best Sally Struthers voice):

Do you want to have a cute blog? 
Of course! We all do! 

Well, I've been dabbling in the blog design world for a few weeks now and I've finally decided to take the plunge and start doing it as a way to make some extra cash. Soooo... if your blog needs a cute new header with family photos, or a cute new header without photos, or some cute category labels for the side columns of your blog, or just an all out full blown blog makeover, please let me know!

Since this is a new adventure for me, I'm charging next-to-nothing for blog design, especially compared to most people out there. So if you want something custom made just for you and your family's blog or your business blog, e-mail me! I can do blog headers, category/sidebar labels, photos with text, and even custom signatures that will appear at the bottom of every blog post automatically.

Here are a few of the blog makeovers I've done over the last few weeks...







an old header from my own blog




And I've also done a header for Cortney's sister, Amy B!


Here's how the pricing goes down, for right now:

Custom Header: $10.00
Sidebar/Category Labels: $2.00 each
Custom Signature: $2.00
Total Blog Makeover: (Includes all of the above and more!) $20.00
UPDATED TO ADD: *Please note the new blog design prices in my sidebar!*

For now, I'm afraid I can only accept PayPal. So you can e-mail me if you are interested, let me know what you want, and I'll send you an invoice. Then we'll get started! We'll talk about what you want, from colors to graphics to everything in between, and come up with something perfect just for your little space in blogworld. The only thing I will require is that you allow me a small space on your blog for a link to my site, so that others will know who designed your blog, thus generating (hopefully) more business! 

Thanks to everyone who has let me experiment with their own blogs lately!
Oh, and please... SPREAD THE WORD!!! (and order something from me! ha)

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Blackberry Surprise, My Pantry, and summer ballet!

We found a nice surprise in our backyard a couple weeks ago. Our fence has long been overgrown with a green leafy vine which we assumed to be some sort of man eating weed (which are quite prevalent in our yard.) However, the day before Sam's party, Chad was doing some yard work and noticed that this monster of a plant taking over our fence was a blackberry bush! Woo hoo! I've always wanted a garden, and this is right up my alley: a garden that grows on it's own with no TLC required. So we've been picking blackberries every day this week.

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I had no idea that blackberries turn from red to black. Am I crazy for not knowing that??
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They are also known to be a great cancer-preventing food; in fact, they are the most potent cancer-fighting berry out of all the berries, by 40 percent!
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And another fun fact: during the Civil War, blackberries were used to treat dysentery; when an outbreak would occur, a temporary truce would be declared so that both Union and Confederate soldiers could go blackberry picking in order to ward off the disease.

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There are actually 2 types of blackberry bushes: thorny and thornless. We have been cursed blessed with the thorny variety; however, I read that the thorny bushes produce sweeter berries, so I guess getting pricked a few times is worth it, for the sweeter flavor. ??  I don't know. Those things hurt!

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Gotta love a no-maintenance hairdo in this southern humidity. She has no idea how lucky she is.
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Now, moving on to something completely off subject, especially when using the term 'no-maintenance.' Because my pantry required some MAJOR maintenance yesterday. Can you say disaster zone?

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When we were growing up my Mom had, like, every tupperware container there ever was; and they were all labeled with cute little labels that said "cereal" or "pasta" or "Cheetos" (although it only said "Cheetos" because they didn't make a label that read "Cheese Flavored Puffies" which is the brand we bought at Jitney Jungle.) Anywho, have you been to a Tupperware party lately?? That stuff is expen$$ive! It's definitely right up my alley, being bright and fun, but woah, the prices are a little steep. I've resorted to some plastic Walmart bins and the ever-practical lazy susans, which are WONDERFUL for pantry organization.

Here's how it all goes down in my pantry...

I have bins for the following:

1. Miscellaneous small baking items (i.e. chocolate chips, icing, food coloring, candy melts, cookie cutters, candy sticks, cupcake liners, etc.)
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2. Beverage items (i.e. coffee, coffee filters, coffee creamer, Splenda, tea bags, powdered drink mixes, etc.)
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3. Breakfast items (i.e. Carnation Instant Breakfast, oatmeal/grits packets, granola bars, etc.)
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I also have a bin for miscellaneous packaged cooking items, like boxed pasta, Jiffy cornbread mix, marinade/taco seasoning mixes, rice, etc.

And I use 3 lazy susans for the following groups of items:

1. Canned stuff (plus peanut butter)
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2. Larger miscellaneous baking items (cocoa, flour, sugar, corn starch, Crisco, corn meal, etc.)
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3. Miscellaneous Cooking Items (oils, vinegars, bread crumbs, marinades, mixes, etc.)
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And to make things easier, I usually dump all our snack foods (especially the ones that do not come in easy-to-seal boxes or packages) into larger ziplock bags. They keep longer that way, and it takes up less space.
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Cereal and items that must be kept in boxes are on the top shelf.
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I have a 3-drawer rubbermaid bin below the shelves in my pantry in which I store the following:

Drawer # 1: Spices
Drawer #2: Paper/plastic goods (foil, cling wrap, parchment paper, wax paper, ziplock bags, etc.)
Drawer #3: Paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, etc.

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And now that I've bored you with my pantry project, I'll leave you with a few pictures of Mary Ella's newest venture: her summer ballet/tap class.

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There's a dance studio only a couple miles from our house that offers a summer ballet/tap class for 3-5 year olds. It's once a week and just for fun, and it was also super cheap, so I signed Mary Ella up right away. Ever since she saw "Dora's Ballet Adventure" back in the spring she's talked about doing ballet. And as most of you know, she is always looking for ways to express herself, so this gives her a great outlet. :)

She talked a big talk the first week but when we arrived that afternoon she was not herself. It was a 3:45pm class, right after afternoon nap, and I soon learned that this time slot wasn't going to cut it. She sat in my lap the entire class and watched from the sidelines. So I decided to switch her to the 9:30am class and it made all the difference! She was in a great mood and went right out on the floor with the other girls.

This was at the beginning of the class when they were stretching and doing ballet positions. She mostly watched during this part but I did get a video of her attempting a plie.
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Then came the part where the teacher asked each girl which animal she wanted to imitate; they'd walk in a circle acting like whatever animal was chosen. They hopped like bunnies, tiptoed like mice, and galloped like horses (gracefully of course!) When it came time for Mary Ella's turn to pick her animal, Miss Joy said, "Ok Mary Ella, your turn! What do you want to be? A frog? A butterfly?"

Mary Ella replied, "Umm, I think I'll just be a peacock."

The teachers both died laughing and then tried to figure out how to teach the rest of the class to imitate a peacock. Ha... Here they are sporting their best peacock wing spans.
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She had a great time and now that I know she likes it, I'll take my real camera from now on!
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