Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chalkboard: May

Have y'all heard Phillip Phillips song Raging Fire?  I can't help turning it up and singing it at the top of my lungs!  The instrumentation and lyrics together give me goosebumps each time I hear it.  For me, it is a prayer of desire for the Lord to turn my soul into a raging fire for Him.  

We are dead to rights born and raised
We are thick and thin 'til our last days
So hold me close and I'll surrender to your heart
You know how to give and how to take
You see every hope I have locked away
So pull me close and surrender to my heart

Before the flame goes out tonight
Yeah we live until we die

So come out, come out, come out
Won't you turn my soul into a raging fire?
Come out, come out, come out 
'Til we loose control into a raging fire
Come out, come out, come out
Won't you turn my soul into a raging fire?

Since the chorus has been ringing over and over in my head, it was the inspiration for this month's chalkboard.

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire'."  
Hebrews 12:28-29

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New Orleans for the AAO

Summer{ish} events always start for us with the AAO and this year was no different.  The AAO was held in New Orleans and we were in for the ride.  We booked a stay at the Windsor Court Hotel, arrived on a Thursday and left on a Monday.  While Benjamin was attending lectures and visiting vendors, Winston and I had our own adventures!

New Orleans Day 3: Insectarium

Our last full day in New Orleans started off with another lazy morning.  I sipped my coffee while little Bug cuddled next to me watching cartoons.  We met sweet friends from ortho residency and walked to The Green Goddess for lunch.  I had their Green Goddess wedge salad and my tastebuds were not disappointed!  I will say that they did not have high-chairs or a kid-friendly menu, so if you are taking a wee one bring snacks and a stroller!

Just about the time we were back to the hotel, we were met Benjamin on his way back from the conference.  Then we took a family nap which was much needed but about after an hour I was ready for everyone to be awake to go on our next adventure!
I did however contain myself and let them wake up on their own to avoid any grumpy-pants moments from either of them!

When everyone was awake, we bundled up for the outing and headed just a few blocks away to the Audubon Insectarium!  I am not a huge creepy crawly fan, but Benjamin enjoys looking at the different species of beetles and we assumed it would be something that our own Bug would like.  The Insectarium did not disappoint!

Inside of a Federal Building the Insectarium is laid out very nicely.  All exhibits were informative and creative.  There was everything from beetles, to ants, to cockroaches, a display on mosquitos, and a 4D movie experience!
My favorite part was the Butterfly Garden.  It was a special moment to see Winston's fascination and curiosity for the butterflies. 
All in all we were at the Insectarium about an hour and a half.  It was a good amount of time to spend perusing through the bugs.  The best part of the day came next...

Cafe Du Monde!  Winston loved the beignets and Benjamin learned that he can no longer share a large milk with little because he won't get but two sips!
For me, having our last New Orleans outing be with my two favorites eating a sweet treat was the bees knees!

Spring to Summer Favorites

Spring to Summer Favorites

I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite things these days.  They either make life comfy, easy, more colorful or sparkly!

Lucky Brand Miller 2 Sandal: Mom and I came across this sandal when we were in Tyler and ladies, it is great!  It fits snuggly, holding your foot in place and provides great arch support.  The slant on the foot is comfortable and it gives a little bit of height!  I wear between an 8.5 and a 9 in shoes.  In this particular shoe, I wear an 8.5.  It comes in a variety of colors and is currently on sale!

Viva La Jewels Colorful Candy Necklace:  Months ago I saw this colorful gem on Pinterest but the photo link took me nowhere.  After rabbit-trailing down Instagram one afternoon, I came across Viva La Jewels and discovered that they were the source of the photo!  I made my purchase and it is a perfect piece to jazz up any outfit (or rainy day for that matter!)
Thermal Tote by Thirty One:  I was given an adorable owl print Thirty-One tote with Winston's name on it as a gift from my Grammy.  I use this thing everyday but not as you might think... This tote makes a perfect diaper bag when we pop out for quick trips here and there.  It is large enough to hold a changing mat, wipes, 5 or 6 diapers, baggies, and a plethora of snacks, squeezies, bib, table covers, a few toys and a sippy cup when needed!  It hangs on the back of the stroller or fits below depending on where it needs to be.  It is small enough to throw in the back of a shopping cart without taking up much space and it keeps everything important for Bug in it!

Faceted bracelet:  It's sparkly.

Press Pods by Formula X:  Found at Sephora, this kit has 24 one time use pods that come in fun, fantastic colors!  Super easy to use, pick the pod that you want to use for that day, twist of the cap, turn the brush down, give it a squeeze and start painting!  The little pods hold quite a bit of polish so it is suitable for short or long nails and multiple coats!  There is probably enough in the little pod for two coats on fingernails and two coats on toes!  

Lush Bath Bombs:  Any of them make bath time relaxing!  This one in particular is one that Winston picked out for me (no lie!) and it smells soooo good!  WAC certainly is a great shopper!

What are some of your favorite things these days?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New Orleans Day 2: Walking around Riverwalk Marketplace

Once Benjamin was free from his lectures, we visited Gallery Rinard.  We fell in love with Matt's work the first time we were in New Orleans.  We have a collection of his pieces and may have found another to add to our own Gallery Rinard!
Winston passed out somewhere between lunch and arriving at Gallery Rinard, so after leaving the store we walked back to the hotel for a little downtime before the Alumni reception.  Each year at the AAO, the ortho schools host a reception for alumni to eat a few hor d'oeuvres and say hello to people they hadn't seen in a year or more.  

When Winston woke up, we headed out to grab a bite to eat and then took a leisurely walk along the Mississippi River stopping at the Riverwalk Marketplace.  The weather was great, there were boats sailing by and birds in the air.  Seemed like the great time to take a few photos!
This is Winston's "cheese" face.  It melts my heart and I never want him to stop doing it!
My heart fills with happiness and love when I look at these.  Winston is my little buddy through and through.  I am so thankful for his sweet, joyful, comical spirit.  He can be quiet and observant, taking it all in one minute and bouncing all over the place the next minute.  His little sense of humor continues to develop and I have a feeling we have a little trickster on our hands! 

We rounded out the night by catching up with people, having a very bubbly bath and watching a Daniel Tiger courtesy of the mini iPad!  
Kid-Friendly Dinner at Gordon Biersch
Winston's outfit can be found at Crazy 8: shirt, hat, shorts {similar}


New Orleans Day 2: Audubon Aquarium

We were in New Orleans so that Benjamin could attend the AAO and participate in the lectures that took place each day.  While he was busy learning about marketing strategies, Winston and I lazed around the hotel room.  It's not a habit of ours to lounge in bed, sippin' on juice watching morning cartoons but it sure was a nice treat!
While I got ready, letter and number magnets from the Dollar Tree and a baking sheet kept him busy.
Once ready for the day we headed just a short walk away to the Audubon Aquarium.  Winston was very excited to see the fishies!  Since kiddos under two are free, the cost of my ticket was $22.50.  The Audubon Institute offers bundled deals with discounted prices for families to take advantage of, and they are a good deal especially if you plan to visit the zoo and the insectarium.  
The bottom level of the Aquarium was full of colorful, fanciful fish that held Winston's attention.  And since we went right when it opened on a Saturday, we had prime viewing positions!
The Aquarium exhibits were broken down into different sections: Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Sea Otters, Louisiana swamps, Amphibians and Penguins!  
I have grown to be quite thankful for my iPhone camera!  It was so quick and handy for taking a few shots of Winston at the Aquarium.  While I did have my DSLR with me, using the iPhone was a practical way of taking photos!
After touching a sting ray and learning about the fish that live in the waters of Louisiana, we rounded a corner and saw this guy.  
His name is Spots and he is 16 ft long.  According to the volunteer that is not a large alligator as the one they had previous to Spots was 20+ feet long!  Yowzers!  We learned that alligators are much like goldfish in that they only grow to as big as their habitat allows.  Spots is not an albino alligator even though he is mainly white.  He has three brown spots on him and his eyes are bright blue.  It was fascinating to watch him float and maneuver through the water.  

My favorite part of the Aquarium had nothing to do with things that lived in the water.  It was the Parakeet exhibit!  For $1.50 we got a stick with food on it and went outside {in an enclosed space} and fed the parakeets.  I wasn't sure how Winston would react to it, but he loved watching the "tweet-tweets" fly around and munch on the food we had to offer.
After the parakeets, we headed to see the sharks, sea turtles and fish that were swimming around in the 400,000 gallon tank.  It was quite mesmerizing to sit and watch them swim effortlessly through the water.  

We spent a total of two hours at the Aquarium.  It was well worth the money and is definitely a kid-friendly activity!  Winston gave it two thumbs up!  Make sure you stop by to say hello to Spots, he'll be around for a while!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Doritos Crusted Chicken

My husband is a big Nacho Doritos fan.  For about two weeks I kept telling him I was going to make Doritos Crusted Chicken.  When I finally did, he was excited and the recipe did not disappoint!  This received much praise and tasted like a Nacho Doritos chip!

The ingredients are simple: buttermilk, chicken and these guys - 
First things first, you will need to clean your chicken, place in a bowl, fill the bowl with buttermilk to coat the chicken, cover and place in the fridge for two hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray your baking sheet with cooking spray.
One of the most fun bits of this recipe is to crush the Doritos into very small crumbs.  When making crumbs, I opt for the sophisticated Ziploc bag and rolling pin combo.  
Fill the Ziploc bag with the Doritos and just start rolling onto a hard surface.  After a minute or two of rolling you will have panko fine crumbs.

Next you will need to create an assembly line.  
First bowl: Chicken
Second bowl: Flour
Third bowl: Eggs
Fourth bowl: Doritos crumbs
Next we start the assembly of the chicken!
With a fork, take a piece of chicken from the buttermilk and let the excess buttermilk drain off.
Then dredge the chicken through the flour, shaking off any excess flour before giving the chicken a bath in the eggs.  After the egg bath, dredge the chicken in the crushed Doritos.  Make sure both sides of the chicken are thoroughly covered in the Doritos goodness!  Lay the chicken on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Repeat!
You will end up with something like this... Mmmm mmmmm!  Although the process is a little bit lengthy, I guarantee it is worth it!
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes turning the chicken halfway through.
Serve with your favorite sides and dips!
These would also make a really great inside to a chicken sandwich.  Toast a bun, add some sauce, and bam!  A new take on the meal.
Let me know if you give this a try or test it out with Cool Ranch!

Ingredients
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bag of Nacho Doritos
2 cups of buttermilk
2 cups of flower
4 eggs

Clean chicken.
Place into a bowl and fill bowl with buttermilk.  Give the chicken a stir to guarantee that it is getting coated.  Cover and leave in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Create Doritos crumbs by either using a food processor or the Ziploc bag/rolling pin method.  Make sure the crumbs are about the texture of panko crumbs.  Place in a bowl.
Create assembly line: Bowl with chicken, bowl with flour, bowl with eggs (beaten), bowl with Doritos crumbs
Using fork, lift a chicken from the bowl and let excess buttermilk drain.
Dredge chicken through flour.  Shake off excess.
Give the chicken an egg bath.  Let excess egg drain.
Dredge chicken through Doritos crumbs.
Place on tray.
Repeat.
Cook chicken from 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through.
Enjoy!

I have also linked up for Tasty Tuesday.  Check out some of the other fantastic yummies!

recipe originally found on The Black Peppercorn

Saturday, May 3, 2014

New Orleans Day 1: Jennings Gator Chateau

We took the longest car ride our family has ever been on...and it was only to New Orleans!  Benjamin casually mentioned that it would be about 4.5 hours  And in one sense he wasn't wrong.  Our trip there took about 8 hours with multiple stops!  I had loaded the car down with snacks, books, car activities, and my iPad was stocked with a series of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood if the situation turned dire.  
Little buddy was a fantastic car rider and just about the time that he (and I!) were needing a stretch we saw the glorious Golden Arches along with a billboard advertising that you could hold a baby alligator, for free!  Jackpot!

After scarfing down some Mikey D's, we drove over to the Oil & Gas Park where the Gator Chateau is located.  The park itself has a fishing pond complete with ducks, trails and picnic tables.  The Gator Chateau had 6 or more alligators outside in a pool area.  Winston was mesmerized as one of them moved from sunning them selves on the rocks to going for a dip in the pool.  As soon as we went inside, we were greeted by a friendly gal who introduced us to Alfonse and allowed us to touch and hold him.  
Winston was a little timid at first, not quite sure what to think of being that close to a tiny alligator.
We learned that alligators have skin, not scales and are actually quite soft.  We also learned that most alligators have more babies than they can carry, leaving some of the wee ones to fend for themselves.  The Gator Chateau takes in the babies that are left behind and cares for them.  The gal told us that members of the community of Jennings as well as travelers passing through come back again and again to check in on the alligators that they held when they were just wee ones.
It was quite a treat to be able to hold Alfonse and to learn about him.  The longer we were there, the more Winston warmed up to him and was making his alligator sounds.
Thank you Jennings for having such a fantastic, free place for families to stop and stretch their legs!  Petting a baby alligator was on our trip bucket list and because of this stop, we were able to cross it off!  
Shortly after packing back into the truck, my travel buddy zonked out and snoozed until we got to the Tanger Outlet malls about an hour outside of New Orleans.  We finished off our first day by checking into the hotel and walking to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe as it is a family tradition to eat at HRC to enjoy a Twisted Chicken Mac & Cheese {no tomatoes, add bacon!} and for B to get a pin.  Hard Rock Cafe is a great kid-friendly dining option when in New Orleans.  They have high chairs, a kid's menu and it's loud so even if the littles are tired or extra boisterous it won't matter!  


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