Start A Annual Cookie Bake!

Start A Annual Cookie Bake!

Hi Friends! I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. My friend and I had our Annual Cookie Bake and I can’t wait to tell you about it! I know I am posting this after Christmas but I wanted to share and I want you know that this is an activity that doesn’t have to take place just during Christmas time. You can do this activity for any holiday or special time. Valentines Day is coming up! Every year my good friend Mary and I have The Palmer-Hunt Annual Christmas Cookie Extravaganza.

My friend and I get together along with my youngest daughter Maya and her two daughters Reagan and Abby. We choose cookie recipes and agree on no more than six recipes. This time, we got together and decided to scale down a bit (we have learned over the years) so we only cooked three recipes. This is our sixth Christmas Cookie Extravaganza.  Our schedules were so busy this year but we still found time to get together . The recipes that we decide on depend on how much time we have and the ingredients that we want to purchase. Some recipes take more time and are more involved than others. Sometimes the dough has to be refrigerated overnight. If that is the case, either Mary and her daughters or Maya and I will make the dough the night before. We usually have a couple of simple recipes so that every recipe isn’t complicated or time consuming. One of my favorite things to make is Peppermint Bark. It’s simple and easy and tastes good! This time we made Hot Cocoa Cookies, Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting and Sugar Cookies with icing. They were so good!!! The Hot Cocoa Cookies are my favorite and an overall favorite so we make them every year. They taste soooo good warm!! They are best eaten warm in my opinion and they can be reheated. This year the Sugar Cookies were our simple recipe and Mary, Abby and Reagan made them from a Betty Crocker packet. They were so buttery and sweet. Very good!! Once we finish baking our goodies, we split the cookies and take them home. Last year we baked at my house, this year we baked at Mary’s house. We try to alternate if possible.

We have had such a good time getting together that we made an annual event out of it. We even made aprons. We thought of a name for our get together and Maya, my daughter, designed the aprons. The girls were younger when we started it and they got a kick out of our name for our get together! I have known my friend Mary for a long time, we used to work together and we were pregnant with our daughters at the same time. Now those two young ladies are 19!! This year, Reagan made cookbooks for us with our favorite recipes!

We have made so many memories; our daughters have grown so much and are growing up. We enjoy our time together; my daughter Maya and Mary’s daughters Abby and Reagan are both close in age. Maya and Abby are in college and Reagan is in high school. I know we will continue to have our Christmas Cookie get together as long as we can.

If you decide to have your own get together, here are some ideas to help you get started:

  1. Make it fun. This is a time that everyone should look forward to and enjoy.
  2. Keep it simple. If you make things too involved or too time consuming, then you won’t look forward to it as much because it will become more of a chore.
  3. Alternate houses so that the burden isn’t on one person.
  4. Share the expenses. Once you decide on the recipes, you can check your pantry and see what ingredients you have on hand and then discuss who will purchase what ingredients.
  5. We always have lunch while we are together so we cook something. Usually something simple like a Crockpot dish. Last year we had brunch. This year Mary prepared Taco Dip. It was simple and quick!
  6. Bring plastic containers like to transport your cookies home.
  7. Decide on recipes ahead of time for sure! We have improved our process over the years.
  8. Give your special day a name and make or buy aprons.
  9. Take lots of pictures!
  10. Enjoy yourselves and make memories!
  11. Remember, this is something that you can do anytime! It would be so much fun to have a Valentine’s Cookie Extravaganza and make beautiful Valentines Day Cookies! Heart shaped sugar cookies with icing,edible pearls and sprinkles come to mind! 🙂

Here is the recipe for the hot chocolate cookies. They are always a hit! We found the recipe on Pinterest. It is on the Pip and Ebby website. Megan from Pip and Ebby found the recipe in the Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine. The Pip and Ebby website has a ton of great recipes.

If you make these delicious cookies, please leave me a comment and let me know how you liked them! I hope you have a Happy 2018!!!

Feeling Thankful

Feeling Thankful

I am so thankful. Today as I sit in the warm house while it’s cold and rainy outside, I am thinking about how I had such a nice Thanksgiving holiday with my family. The kids came home from college and they were so happy to be able to take a break from school and to eat some good food! They were talking about what they wanted to eat and they were excited about what I was cooking. All three kids helped me cook at some point, rotating in and out of the kitchen. My son who is 23 hates cheese and he even cut the cheese into cubes for my macaroni and cheese. My daughter who is 19 laughed at him. Macaroni and cheese is one of her favorite dishes. She cleaned the collard greens for me. My oldest daughter shelled pecans for the pecan pie. My husband ran to the grocery store repeatedly, getting things that we forgot. Teamwork makes the dream work! We had a good time, relaxing, eating, and talking. As I get older, I am so thankful for the time that we have to spend together. I often say that I realize that life goes by in different stages. It’s so true. I write about being an empty nester or a semi-empty nester as I now like to call it, but I know that this too is a stage of life that I need to enjoy. I use the term semi-empty nester because my children are not completely out of the house yet. My 26 year old daughter is back at home. My 23 year old son is  in college but that means that he still comes home for breaks and for the summers. My 19 year old daughter is in college closer to home but I see her more because she is closer to home than my son and her schedule isn’t as rigorous as his. I was talking to a lady at my dentist’s office and she was telling me that her mom cried because none of the kids and grandkids can go home for Thanksgiving this year. There were sports tournaments to attend, one brother has a new girlfriend and he was going to another town to eat dinner with his girlfriend’s family. Another sibling had recently given birth to a baby and wouldn’t be traveling. As I listened to her tell me about her mother, I understood. It made me think about the different stages of life. I left the office grateful that I have kids that are looking forward and are able to come home for dinner this year. I really wanted to cherish and enjoy every minute of it. I know that it won’t always be this way. Those are things that I didn’t really think about when the children were young. Now, after the youngest child left for college, I think often about things like this. I try hard to be grateful for every day, every moment.

November was a great month. My birthday month and Thanksgiving! My husband and I went to the Historic Oak View County Park and gathered pecans.

Instructions of how to pick a good pecan

Pecan Grove

A Bowl Full of Pecans

My husband humored me and took some pictures of me. He usually snaps one picture and he is done LOL. He is learning ya’ll! He took several pictures and even paid attention so some details! One time we were kind of near the road and he told me that the traffic was in the background and suggested that I turn in a different direction. I was impressed!! He let me take two selfies of us together. LOL, he often tells me, when I want to take more than one or two pictures, “that’s enough”. LOL. He was good at picking the pecans and laughed at me. I was tired after gathering pecans for what he says was five minutes! It was hard work! It was late in the season and there weren’t that many pecans left. We had to look hard and work hard for them! We would find one and it would have a hole in it which meant that a worm had most likely destroyed the pecan. We found a lot that we had to throw back to the ground. My legs and back were so sore from bending down to pick up the pecans. My thighs were so sore from sweeping my legs back and forth feeling for the pecans. Many had sunk into the ground or grass and you really had to feel for them. I ran into a lady that told me that she visits frequently to pick pecans and she told me to return in the morning. It was windy and it was going to storm that night. She told me that more pecans would fall. I tried to get my husband to go back the next morning because he had told me the same thing but he refused. LOL! He told me that he would buy me some more pecans! LOL!! I was sore the next morning so I didn’t argue 🙂 I did enjoy our time together and I had so much fun gathering pecans for the first time. I sent the kids pictures of us at the park and they thought the pictures were cute.  Funny when your kids think you are cute. Again, this is a different stage of life.

Me with the pecans that we gathered

My husband and I taking a selfie!

After we finished gathering pecans, we walked around the park and looked in some of the historic buildings and the old house. As we walked around, we saw a lot of photographers taking pictures of families. It was a beautiful fall day for taking pictures. Some families even brought their dogs. I hadn’t even thought of that location for taking pictures. I would love to go back and take pictures. Our last family picture is old. It is time for an updated picture. The site was a farm for close to 150 years. There is a lot of history there. There is plenty to see on the tour stops. If you are local to the Raleigh area and you love history, I encourage you to visit. I want to go back so that I can finish the tour.

Family Farm House

The pecans that we picked were used to make a pecan pie for Thanksgiving. It was delicious, well the second one was. LOL! I am never afraid to say when I mess up. I’m human. I don’t know what I did but the first pie was runny and the bottom crust was stuck to the pan. The family ate it though and it did have good flavor. They didn’t want it to go to waste. The second pie was the right consistency, I used a recipe that I found on Allrecipes and the pie was delicious.

I was a little sad when I had to take the kids back to school but they will be home in a week and a half for Christmas. There will be more family time and more things to be thankful for.

I hope you enjoyed your time with your family and friends. Here is a link to the park website if you would like to learn more about it. Historic Oak View County Park

Here is a link to the pecan pie recipe that I used. I’m sorry that I don’t have a picture. They cut the pie and ate it really fast! I found the recipe on the Allrecipes website. Tip: mix the cold water with the cornstarch before adding to the rest of the ingredients.

Until next time friends! Be Thankful.

XOXO,

Weekend Getaway Pawley’s Island SC

Weekend Getaway Pawley’s Island SC

Hello Friends! We recently went on a weekend getaway to Pawley’s Island SC. Two of my kids were leaving for college so we wanted to go on one last family vacation. We decided to take a weekend trip.  We made reservations at Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort in Pawley’s Island SC. We have been there before and this is our third time visiting. I have to tell you that I love that place! We all do. This is not a sponsored post; I just really enjoy spending time there. Whenever we go there, we are so relaxed. This time, I woke up early one morning and went on a long walk by myself. I took some beautiful pictures and enjoyed some time to just think, enjoy nature and get some much-needed exercise.

I walked to the beach and it was about a 15-minute walk from where we were staying this time. The sky was beautiful and the scenery at the resort is just so pretty and peaceful. There were people out jogging, walking with their babies in strollers and walking to enjoy nature and get exercise. We all exchanged a cheery good morning! It’s wonderful how people are so nice and happy when they are on vacation. Everyone needs some time to relax and getaway. It really does wonders for the soul. I felt as if my soul was rejuvenated.Pictures of flowers, a cute rabbit, and sunrise that I took while walking:

Let me tell you about Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort. It is a wonderful place to take your family. There are several rental options. We have stayed in a condo located in the Lakeside area of the resort. We also stayed in another condo located in another area of the resort. This condo was a loft style condo and it was closer to the beach. This time, for our weekend getaway, we stayed in an apartment style building that was further from the beach but closer to the pool and lazy river.  Families really enjoy the pool and lazy river. There is also a hot tub. There are buckets that fill with water and you can stand under them. When the buckets are full, the water pours out on the people standing under them. Kids love it! There is also a huge barrel that fills with water and then pours out when full.

Lakeside Condo

Apartment Style Rentals

Pool Near Apartment Rentals

Condos

Beach House

Beach House

Pretty Gazebo

Clubhouse By The Ocean

People Fishing=Fun!

The Beautiful Ocean

You can walk to the beach, go to the gym, and eat at the restaurant that is on site. They have a wonderful breakfast buffet, enjoy Happy Hour at the Tiki Bar, go to the Day Spa, Health and Fitness Center, Rent a bike, play tennis or play golf at one of the 4 centrally located golf courses. We love to go to the pizza restaurant that is across the street from the resort. There is also a grocery store and other shopping across the street. The grocery store comes in handy because we usually cook some of our meals. When we don’t cook, we enjoy pizza, ice cream and of course seafood. We love to go to Graham’s Landing in Murrells Inlet for seafood. This time we tried Drunken Jack’s Restaurant and Lounge and it was very good also. I think Graham’s Landing is still our favorite. Drunken Jack’s has a wonderful atmosphere and beautiful scenery. We sat by a window and were intrigued by the goats that were on land in the inlet. We asked the waiter and he told us that the restaurant owns the goats and brings them there in the spring where they stay until fall I think. The waiter told us that the goats like to people watch! I have posted a picture below but I don’t think you can see the goats. They are on the strip of land in the picture. We enjoyed watching them and the people who passed by on water skis, on the Brew Boat, a boat that people pedal while they drink, and on private boats.

BrewBoat

Private Boat

Goats In The Inlet!

We have taken our son and daughter back to college. My husband and I are going to plan another getaway to Pawley’s island and we will stay at Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort again to spend some time alone. I can’t wait!

I hope you are enjoying your summer. Enjoy the rest of the summer and make everyday count!

XOXO,

 

It Is Almost Strawberry Season!

It Is Almost Strawberry Season!

Spring is coming and that means strawberries are coming too!! Get ready people! Spring is coming and I cannot wait! We have had a taste of spring and now we North Carolinians don’t want to go back to the cold weather. It is only February. It is going to be 80 degrees today! It was so warm yesterday that my husband and I went to the beach for the day. It was a wonderful day. We had a nice seafood lunch and walked on the beach. It was about 76 degrees outside. It was cooler on the beach but that didn’t stop the people from showing up in their bikinis! LOL!

You know what the warm weather means? It means that spring is near and with spring comes strawberries!! I love strawberry season! My daughter Maya and I went to the strawberry farm with my friend Mary and her daughter Reagan last year and we had a great time. The strawberry farm we go to is Porter Farms and they also have the best homemade ice cream! We picked lots of yummy strawberries and then we had some ice cream. Yum! I love their “Nanner Puddin” (banana pudding) ice cream and their “Butter Pecan” ice cream. It’s all good! My daughter’s favorite flavor is “birthday cake”. You can pick your own strawberries or buy some that have been picked for you. We have been enjoying Porter Farms for years. Sometimes I buy the fresh vegetables that they sell and they have a nice selection of herb plants. This hidden gem is well worth the drive to the country. If you are local and want to visit, here is the address:

Porter Farms & Nursery Farm Market
3525 NC-42
Willow Spring, NC 27592

Processed with MOLDIV

Strawberries don’t last long in my house. Kids are usually home for the summer and they love strawberries as much as I do. We just like to eat them by themselves but I also like to make strawberry pancakes, strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream and strawberry ice cream. For a healthy treat, I make a juice in my Nutribullet with strawberries, baby spinach, cucumber, chia seeds and ½ of a banana. I put water and ice in and blend. It’s very good!

I hope I haven’t teased you too much. You want some strawberries now don’t you?! Here are some pictures of last year’s visit to the strawberry farm. I’m looking forward to visiting this year! Enjoy your day!! Talk to you soon!

Maya Did It! Now I Will Have A Empty Nest

Maya Did It! Now I Will Have A Empty Nest

Maya Grad CollageI am going to have an Empty Nest soon. This was one of my main reasons for starting this blog.

Maya, my youngest child has graduated from High School! I am so happy for her and sad all at the same time. I tried to enjoy every minute with her. I sometimes felt stressed when I had to drive her to school, knowing that it would make me late for work. Then, I would tell myself that I had better enjoy every minute of it because one day, I wouldn’t have to drive her. Well, that day has come. The year went by so fast! I knew from experience that it would. You see, she is my third child. I’ve been through this twice before. Each one felt different. This one is different. This is my last child. The last one. The baby. My miracle baby that wasn’t supposed to be here. I’m not supposed to be here either. I got sick and they had to deliver her early. She was only in me for 26 weeks and 5 days. Yep, she was three months early but she has always been a fighter.

Maya will be going to college and my house will be so quiet. This is the reason why I started this blog. I have heard about Empty Nest Syndrome but I never gave it much thought until a few months ago…. everything will be so different. I won’t need to rush home to cook dinner, I won’t need to hurry home to spend a little time with her before we have to go to bed to get up at 5 am the next day and start all over again and I won’t have my Dancing With The Stars Watching Buddy.

She wants to major in Graphic Design and I’m tickled about that. Maya has already helped me so much with my blog. Maya designed my logo and headers. I can’t wait to see what else she learns! I’m tickled for her!

So…. where does that leave me? I’m going to chat with you about finding myself again, finding my creativity and enjoying life. I’m prepping my husband for all the talking I’m going have to do and all the listening he will have to do since Maya will be gone 🙂 We are going to plan some dates. I’ll keep you posted…..

signature gold2

Empty Nest Preparation For Moms

Empty Nest Preparation For Moms

How does one prepare for an empty nest? Should I prepare for my empty nest? My youngest child will graduate from high school this year. Soon she will be off to college. I have an older daughter at home but she will leave soon and even if she is at home, when your children get older, it’s not the same. They are rarely home and they do their own thing. You know what I mean if you have or have had an adult child at home. This is why I will still consider myself to be an empty nester when my youngest child leaves for college. As parents, we spend so much time doing things for our kids. All of a sudden, there are no more activities to attend, games to cheer for or school meetings to go to. The house is quiet and you find yourself with time on your hands. I better get ready! I know that I will be sad. Here is a list of a few things I am going to do to prepare:

  1. Finish setting up my jewelry studio so that I can make some jewelry.
  2. Share my journey with you!
  3. Make a list of all the things that I want to do but have not had time. My bucket list.

If you will soon be in the same situation, we are in this together!! I would encourage you to find yourself again by trying different things. One thing that I would love to learn how to do is sew. I plan on finding some time to take a sewing lesson. Dabble in a few things so that you can find “your thing”.

Stay tuned! Will you be an empty nester soon? What are you planning to do with your time? I would love to hear from you!