Monthly Family Dinners

We have a new tradition in our family! We call them Monthly Family Dinners. In an effort to make sure we get together regularly, I decided to ask everyone what they thought of the idea of monthly potlucks, and they all agreed it sounded like fun.

We take turns hosting and the hosts pick the theme. Our family group text helps keep track of what everyone is bringing and who is able to attend. So far this year we have had an Italian night at our house in January, Asian night at Joe and Amber’s in February, St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Jenny’s house in March and an early Easter Egg Hunt and Picnic at our house in April. May is going to be at Beth & Tim’s new house and the theme is Mother’s Day Brunch.

There are so many options for themes and even just a general potluck of everyone’s favorites would be just fine. Not only does it help us all keep in touch, but it’s also a great way to get a little creative in the kitchen and to celebrate being family. The fact that everyone contributes makes it an event that is easier to host, too!

Check back for a list of great potluck ideas!

Celtic Festival

One of my favorite things to do all year is to attend the local Celtic Festival. Luckily, my family enjoys it, too, and even my husband gets in on the fun!

A few years ago, Jeff bought a kilt at the festival and yes, he does wear it when we attend. We selected a tartan we liked the look of, since we didn’t know at the time where his family was from in Ireland and Scotland. It turns out we chose the correct tartan for his Scottish line! I then bought a sash to wear to match.

We enjoy just about everything at the festival. The music, from bagpipes to fiddles to rock, is wonderful. The food is great, the vendors are interesting and tempting and the highland games are exciting to watch.

Enjoy the pictures from our day at this year’s Celtic Festival.

Easter 2022

Easter is one of my favorite holidays and having family here to celebrate with us makes it even better.

This year my husband and I were joined by our daughter Bethany and her husband, Tim, our daughter Abigail and her daughter Carleigh, our youngest daughter Jennifer, son Mike and his wife Stephanie and their boys MJ and Sam.

We kept the menu simple. Ham, potato salad, Amish macaroni salad, cheesy corn salad, ramen slaw, cucumber salad, Teppie’s macaroni and cheese, Jenny’s deviled eggs, Hawaiian rolls, assorted mini cupcakes and Bethany’s brownies.

The girls brought me an Easter basket, which was fun! Chocolate bunnies, mini bottles of wine, face moisturizer from Boots which is a favorite UK store, a candle, and very pretty plastic eggs filled with mini peanut butter cups, plus a bouquet of flowers. I have the BEST girls!

The food was good, the weather cooperated, and the children had fun playing outside while the adults ate, relaxed, and talked. We even got a family picture, which is one of my favorite things. It was a very nice day.

I hope everyone had a blessed and Happy Easter and got to spend time with those they love.

It’s Been a While

Since I last posted back in August, a lot has happened.

I don’t know what I was busy with in the fall, but I was either preoccupied or misplaced my computer, and I didn’t blog at all.

We enjoyed a fun Halloween party at my daughter Jenny’s house in October, and then in November celebrated Thanksgiving at her place as well. Both were nice family events and highlights of each month.

In December both my husband and I had COVID. We were sick at home for about a week before ending up in the hospital. Both of us at the same time, but not near each other. Texting now and then but too weak to talk on the phone. It was surreal. Finding out he was in ICU by text. Then he got out of ICU and I went in. We were SICK. Thank God and medicine we made it. We weren’t sure we would. Our daughter Abigail and her daughter Carleigh were also ill from COVID at this time but thankfully only mild cases.

My sister was also sick with COVID. It was frustrating not being able to take care of her, but I was too ill myself. My son Joe helped so much by checking on her daily and getting her everything she needed while she was recovering.

We got home from the hospital in time for Christmas but were both very weak. The house was already decorated, and I had wrapped most of the gifts so only a few remained. I had a tough time even just putting them in gift bags. That is how weak I was. And yes, I know, gifts don’t matter. But I love Christmas and for me the gifts do matter to a degree, so I had my daughter Abigail wrap what remained. For some reason that just made me feel so much better to have that done. Abigail was also nursemaid and in charge of us and the house while we were sick. The other kids ran errands and called often to check in. We certainly felt the love and care of everyone.

Christmas was very nice. In fact, I think it was one of the best ever. Most of the family was here, and it just felt right. We had fun, the gifts seemed perfect, and everyone was happy. Granddaughter Carleigh was so wonderful to watch Christmas morning. She went through her stocking item by item. The same with gifts. It was just so sweet and thoughtful and a joy to be part of. It was a lovely morning and we felt blessed.

Unfortunately, the next evening our daughter Bethany was in a car accident, getting hit broadside by someone who ran a red light. Her car was flipped to its side, and she had to walk out through the sunroof. Luckily, she escaped with only minor scrapes and some bruising. Her car was totaled but she was fine.

Emotionally I was a wreck. I had worried about one of the kids getting in an accident because it seemed there were so many car accidents locally around that time. I thought ok, Christmas is done, people aren’t rushing all over the place and everyone is safe. Nope. We are just so lucky she wasn’t badly injured.

January was the month of gaining our strength back. Just walking up five steps required oxygen and a rest period. I had never been so weak in my life. Bethany shopped for a new car, and I just wanted winter over and for spring to be here as quickly as possible. I wanted to move on.

But winter still had a few surprises for us. In January Abigail got engaged and wedding planning began. However, she and her fiancé decided to skip the fanfare and opted for a courthouse wedding in February with only a few days’ notice. Abigail managed to have all the romantic necessities with a white dress, garter, & bouquet, and her sisters and I got toasting glasses and a cake set. After the private ceremony at the courthouse, Abigail and her new husband Kris came to the house for photos, a small cake and champagne. A reception will be held later this year.

March was filled with real estate adventures as Bethany and Tim, and then Abigail and Kris, all went house hunting. Things progressed quickly and both couples have already moved into their new homes! It all seemed to happen so fast! So much change so quickly felt a little overwhelming to me, but they were positive changes, and I am so happy for all of them.

As for me, I am adjusting to a completely empty nest for the first time ever. It is too quiet! I am also trying to focus on blogging and getting back to doing what I enjoyed before I got sick. The full recovery time is long, but things are starting to feel normal again.

One project Jeff and I have decided on is putting in an English style garden. We both have so many ideas so are working on putting the plans on paper and making it a reality. It’s going to take time, but that’s fine and it will be fun creating it together.

Another thing I want to do is travel a bit more frequently. Nothing extravagant, but after not being able to go places or do things for two years due to COVID we just want to go and do.

I am glad to have made it to Spring and am looking forward to the warmer weather and the fun that comes with it.

Ground Beef Meal Prep Hack

I usually buy the large packages of 3 to 4 pounds of ground beef. I used to divide it into 1 pound sections and freeze it in gallon size Ziploc bags, pressing it flat so that it was quick to thaw. Finally I figured out the best way to freeze ground beef for our family.
I cook the entire package of ground beef in a deep, large skillet. I drain off the grease and after it cools I scoop out 2 cups at a time and put it into quart size Ziploc freezer bags. You could use whatever type of container you want. 

Then I freeze the bags and my ground beef is cooked and ready for my next meal of spaghetti, tacos, or a casserole. You can even cook some diced onion with it so that it already has it in it, as many recipes call for onion. Even though tacos don’t, it doesn’t hurt.
It doesn’t take that much longer to cook a large amount of ground beef. I cook once, clean up once. I just wish I had figured this out much sooner!

Maxxed Out

Marshall’s, Home Goods, and TJMaxx. These are the most beloved stores of so many women these days, especially if you collect Rae Dunn, Terramoto, and other popular home items.
Today my daughters and I did a little ‘hunting’ for Halloween items because as any collector knows, you have to grab things early because by Halloween everything in the stores will be Christmas items.

While we didn’t hit the jackpot, we didn’t come home completely disappointed. Take a look at what we rounded up on todays hunt!

I have avoided buying these metal Rae Dunn cups, preferring the standard mugs, but I really wanted these colors and they are just so cute! Plus, we could just picture ourselves around the fire pit with wine or apple cider. This may be my new favorite type of Rae Dunn. No regrets!

I love these Rae Dunn signs and was so happy to come across this find! I won’t put this out just yet, but come October first, it will be displayed on my entertainment center.

This little wine style cup is so cute and attracted the attention of my granddaughter, so how could we say no? It’s by a company called Clementine she just loves it!

Another Clementine mug of dogs in fall sweaters! Adorable! Plus some Ghirardelli as a little snack to go along with whatever beverage you choose.

This Halloween wine glass could also double as a small battery operated tea light holder. The glass is colorful and the design is so detailed! No brand name is on the glass but available at Marshall’s and TJMaxx.

These spatulas are just adorable and join my ever growing collection of fun and cute rubber spatulas. There were under $4.00 which adds to the joy!

Not Halloween but a super cute Rae Dunn mug! I saw this on a vlog and hoped to find it. Got lucky today!

Lastly, this find just made my day! I had seen this mug on a vlog as well and have been looking for it for a few months. I love the light green inside and handle and the gold word and bee image are just gorgeous. I have another mug with green inside and handle and it is my favorite. I have a feeling this new Bumble bee mug will be just as loved.

That concludes today’s haul! I hope you enjoyed seeing my new goodies!

Patriotic Coffee Station & Tiered Tray

My patriotic coffee bar remains up long after the Fourth of July. I actually set it up before Memorial Day and I’ll leave it up all summer. I love everything about it!
The Lazy Susan is Mikasa, purchased from Costco. The majority of mugs are Rae Dunn, purchased from Marshalls or TJ Maxx.The large white canister is actually a Rae Dunn XOXO canister from Valentine’s Day which I turned around to the blank side and added the red white and blue ribbon. The blue truck is also Rae Dunn.
The wooden block and bicycle are from Hobby Lobby.The star bowls are Terramoto. The star is part of a salt salt pepper set I bought from Amazon.

The wooden and black metal two tiered tray, assorted wooden pieces and ‘ land that I love’ sign on my buffet are from Hobby Lobby, the wooden garland is from Home Goods. The U S A sign is Rae Dunn, Beanie Babies are vintage. The bowls are Terramoto.

The garland on the entertainment center is from HomeGoods and the Let Freedom Ring sign is Rae Dunn.

In another month I’ll be switching everything out for fall decor. I’m not ready! Are you ready for autumn?

Teppie’s Macaroni & Cheese

My daughter-in-law Stephanie is a Southern gal and has a vast array of wonderful southern style dishes. This is her mac & cheese, which is cooking in the slow cooker as I write this!

Teppie’s Macaroni & Cheese

1 pound of elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

2 cans of cheddar cheese soup

8 ounces of sour cream

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1 stick of unsalted butter

4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese


Cook macaroni, drain and set aside

In slow cooker put 2 cans of cheddar cheese soup, 8 oz sour cream and 1 teaspoon of ground mustard.

In a non stick pan melt the stick of butter and gradually add in the shredded cheese, stirring as it melts.

Pour the macaroni into the slow cooker and stir it into the soup mixture, then gradually add the melted cheese and stir until mixed well.

Cook on low 2-4 hours.

*Crockpot liners are wonderful, especially when cooking something like mac & cheese!

What’s In My Bag

I carry my life in my purse and I think a lot of other women do, too. While it’s convenient to have all your important things with you, I do like to keep things small or lightweight because my purse gets heavy very quickly. I also often switch from my luggage size handbag to a crossbody style for travel or shopping because it’s nice to have your hands free and travel light sometimes.

My basics are the same as most people with wallet, sunglasses and keys being the essentials. My keys aren’t in the photos here as I keep mine hung on a mail/key rack by the front door when I’m home.

My wallet holds my id, debit card and a couple of other cards like a credit card and my Outback gold card, but really not too much else. I seldom carry cash.

I always carry tissue, more as back up tp in case there isn’t any in the public restroom stall!

I have my inhaler, which I only need when I don’t have it with me, a comb, emery board, and mints. Hand sanitizer and a mask are signs of life in 2021. As is the folded piece of paper which are medical test orders. Such is life.

A few items I carry are for emergencies and I used to keep them attached to my keychain but it just got to be too much. Still, I want them with me, so they remain in my purse. These items are a small o-light flashlight, a small Swiss army knife, a seatbelt cutter/window breaker, a multi tool, a brass whistle, and a small pair of nail clippers.

A small notepad and pen and my glasses are the last of the basics that I carry.

I know a lot of people carry a tiny bit of first aid supplies in their bags or a make up bag with odds and ends. I have a makeup bag with assorted items ‘just in case’. My ‘med bag’ as I call it contains bandages, wet wipes, and pocket sized spray Neosporin in case of cuts, Tylenol, Benadryl, and Rolaids in case someone doesn’t feel well, panty liners, flossers, q-tips, safety pins, a metal spork, small toothpaste and travel toothbrush, lipstick, Listerine pocket spray, and some face powder, which seems to cover any other need. Last but not least, I carry the St. Christopher medal my father carried in his wallet, which was a gift from my Catholic mother.

I am always trying to think of other things I should have with me. Any suggestions?
What do you have in your bag?