Friday, December 30, 2011

My 3 Year Old Life Coach

So obviously, I am going to skip a Christmas post.  Not because I had a bad Christmas, mind you (The husband even managed to purchase me an actual present for Christmas.  I guess the cash-back option at Target wasn't working.... Juuuust kidding.) I am just completely absent-minded when I'm on vacation, which means I forgot to take any pictures during our Holiday events. Woops....
However, as we all know, the Holidays are ALL about some family time, which suits me just fine.  Both of our families are wildly entertaining.  But I'll have to say that this little Monkey is by FAR the most entertaining character we have around these days.

Hot. Mess. Express. 
So for those of you who don't know, the above picture is of my Niece, Riley.  She's 3, and very good at it.  Homegirl is also fixing to be a BIG SISTER (as evidenced by her shirt above) next week, so the countdown is on for her parents (aka my sister in-law & her hubs).  Anywho, I figured my Sister In-law & Bro In-law could use a night to themselves, so I offered to watch Riley last week so they could go out to her Christmas Party.  I can always rely on Riley to make me laugh, but let me tell you, little girl was ON POINT that night.  Granted, I may or may not have let her eat about an POUND of Christmas Candy to wind her up to get her that way (Sorry Erin), but lawddddd, that child is funny.  Annnnd does wonders for my Ego--especially when she tells me that I am her "smallest, youngest Aunt."  And when I asked her about how old she thought I was, she replied with "Ummm, 9. Yeah. 9."  Um, hello? Stuff like that is why she is my favorite niece (Granted, she is my only niece at the moment, but thats a minor detail.)
In addition to being a little Ego booster, I decided that a person could seriously take some cues from the way Riley lives her life.  Let me provide yall with a few examples....

1) When in doubt, ALWAYS lie about your age.  Higher or lower, it doesn't really matter, just fib if you get confused.  Because if you're cute, you'll get away with it.  
Riley is utterly fascinated by iPhones, so she got a HUGE kick out of the Facetime feature on the iPhone 4.  When she was over, we facetimed my Dad, who asked her how old she was.  Riley's answer, "Ummm 5!!!" I respond with, "Riley, show him how many you are." Then, she proceeded to hold up 4 fingers.  Yall- she doesn't turn 4 until next September.  Regardless, due to her cuteness, I'm pretty sure my dad thought I was lying about her age & she was the one telling the truth.  

I swear, she is only 3.  This was taken in September, I promise.

2) Who CARES what's in style- Express your Individualism.  
Like most 3 year old little girls, Riley LOVES all things girlie.  As yall know, my make-up addiction has led to me having an insane make-up collection, which is knowledge that Riley is privy to.  So, anytime I'm around her, she digs through my purse to find the goods.  And she's no different at our house.  She leads me straight up to our bathroom to try out any new make-up and/or nail polish that her Aunt CeCe has stashed away (Riley calls me CeCe because Caroline = waaay too hard for her to say when she was learning to talk.)
Last week, Riley's big hot button was nail polish, so we had to scour over my bazillion colors of nail polish- half of which are probably inappropriate for a 3 year old.  Don't worry guys, I kept her away from all of my dark purples, blacks, browns, etc.  Call me crazy, but I just didn't really think the gothic nails went with her bright blue hair bow.  So after that debate, she insisted that I paint 5 of her toes in a purple-sparkly polish, 2 toes bright orange, 2 toes light pink, and 1 bright red.  I tried negotiating with her to make them all be 1 color... or even alternating colors, but I lost that battle in a hurry. But hey- whatever floats her boat, right?  
Make-up application was just as spastic.  I always let her do her own make-up application, sooo of course, she not only put blush all over her face, she also found it necessary to accompany the blush on her cheeks w/ about 19 different colors of eye-shadow.  None of which wound up on her eyes, just solely on her cheeks.  Quite the look, let me tell ya! When I questioned her about the eye-shadow on her face, Riley explained that the eye shadow had the MOST SPARKLES so she needed it all over.  Duh, CeCe.  So again, go on with your bad self & do your own thing.  (Granted, I made her take it all off before playing with anything else because she legit looked like she was gonna hit up a late night Rave w/ the 59 colors/sparkle combo all over her cute face. Seriously- all she needed was some glow sticks & she would've been good as gold.)
Riley rationale--I know wearing 1 Tutu is cool, but I think I'll wear 3.  Why not? :)

3) Pick your battles, because if not, no one will wind up happy.    
Like I said before, Riley is 3... and good at it.  Sometimes trying to get her to do something is like trying to herd a group of cats.  Its ridiculously impossible.  So, there are just certain times where you have to just bargain with her to get her to do what you want her to do.  When she was over last week, homegirl straight up refused to eat her dinner (Easy Mac... usually her #1 favorite meal in the world), yet she was DYING to eat Gummies.  So obviously, when there are starving children in African, I'm not gonna waste a whole thing of Easy mac if there wasn't a chance in hell she was gonna eat it.  Instead, I told her if she could find something in my pantry to be her dinner, she could eat Gummies as a dessert.  Done and Done.  Granted, she opted for a bag of Kettle Corn, but hey- its still relatively healthy & she ate dern near the whole bag.  Then, I was happy because she had some (quasi) dinner & she was happy because she got her Gummies! Everyone wins.  
4) Do things JUST because you can.  
One of my absolute favorite Riley-isms is her ability to justify WHY she does certain things.  One such example went as follows:
Me: "Riles, why exactly was she jumping up & down on our couch?
Riley: " BECAUSE I'M 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Hmmm. Can't really argue with that justification, can you?  Or, how about this?
Me (after realizing she fed Hudson, our dog, half a bag of giant marshmellows): "WOMAN! Why have you fed Hudson 8000 marshmellows???
Riley: "Cuzz..... I just wanted to CECE."
Well, again, I can't really argue with that rationale either.  Its not like we've ever had a heart to heart discussing Hudson's dietary habits, so if I was 3, I'd probably want to feed Hudson marshmellows too.
The best example came when she threw this little curve ball at me....
Riley: "CeCe, you & Keeebbbin (aka Kevin) should have a wittle BABY!!!"
Me (Completely flabbergasted & at a loss for words): "Ummmm, uhhhh.... why on earth do you think that, Riley?"
Riley (Looking at me like I'm slowest person on Earth) : "Cuz.... you CAN!!!! And you're silly!"
Oh, well then, in that case, I'll be sure to get right on that because those are such valid points & will make child-rearing a complete breeze......

So basically, if you're on the fence about a major life decision, just go ask Riley her thoughts on the matter.  I'm sure she'll coach you through the whole thought process :)  Sure, her methodology might be a tad unorthodox, but you can't really argue with the sentiment behind her thoughts!  

Anyways, I cannot believe New Years Eve is tomorrow!!  Our plans consist of watching UK (hopefully) put a beat down on those dirty UofL Cardinal birds, and then, as my sweet girl, Steph,  so eloquently stated in her post yesterday, yall know the Kentucky Bourbon will be flowing like crazy as we ring in the New Year w/ a party with all our dear friends! So So So excited for the festivities to begin.  Lets kick this 4 day weekend off w/ the sweetest NYE song of all time.  I am completely obsessed.

Now all thats left for me to do is find a dress :)  Have a great New Years yall!!!!! Xoxoxo

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oh my gosh, are you sick?

We all know how I visit Web MD on a regular basis to self diagnose myself, Kevin, my parents, my dog, etc.  However, what I've failed to mention is that I absolutely despise going to the doctor, even when I need  to go.  It seriously takes me having a couple days of 101 degree fever for me to actually make an appointment.  Anyway, so when I actually do take the initiative to go to the doctor, I try to get out every medical concern that I have had in the past 3 months.  Lucky for me, my doctor is used to this & is adequately prepared to deal w/ my 800 health related questions.  She is amazing.  However, because I try to fit in my zillion concerns in a 20 min appointment, I sometimes fail to remember everything.

I've had seasonal allergies for as long as I can remember.  Living in Lexington, those allergies are exacerbated exponentially.  Last I heard, Lexington was ranked one of the top 5 worst cities for Allergy sufferers, so I chalk any kind of cough, throat, or stuffy nose issue to being a Lexington Resident.
Beautiful Scenery = horrendous allergies
Anywho, over the past year, my voice has continued to get more & more raspy.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that on most mornings, I sound like I smoked a carton of Marlboros & its painful to get words. Again, I just figured it was all related to my allergies.... Probably a pretty accurate assumption, seeing how I have so much medical training & all.  Oh wait, not. at. all.  
So after the combination of dealing w/ people asking me on a daily basis if I was sick & then one of my customers told me I might have a thyroid issue, I finally took the bull by horns & made an appointment with my ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat specialist).  
I assumed that the ENT would just ask me a few questions, do a quick diagnosis, and write me a script for some miracle product that would help my voice.
I. Was. So. Utterly. Wrong. 
Much to my surprise, homeboy looked at his watch & told me he had time to do a full scope today.  He sounded really excited about it, so it never entered my mind that a scope would be a bad thing.  Um, don't worry kids, please look at the little camera gadget that was stuck down my nose so my ENT could get a better look at my throat.  Its cute mini size is beyond deceiving because it was a devil machine.

ENT Homeboy was excited because that little number is not only a camera, but it is also a flashlight & a magnifier.  Its like the Swiss Army Knife of doctor gadgets.  If it hadn't hurt like hell, I would have probably been pretty pumped about it too.  
Anywho, the scope ended up showing the ENT exactly what was causing my voice to mimic that of a 59 year old with emphysema.  What? You all are dying to see the gorgeousness that is also known as my vocal chords?? Well, as luck would have it, I kept the pictures.  They're obviously pretty frame worthy.  
**(Side note- I feel like I should preface this picture because it is kind of ummm, graphic.)**

Let me decode for yall: 
Top pic: My vocal chords w/out me talking--> note that you can still vocal chords (diamond shape in the middle)
Bottom Pic: My vocal chords w/ me trying to talk --> Note you can't see the little diamond shape at all.

So, what does that mean?  Apparently, I have Stage 4 Vocal Chord Nodules.   What? you've never heard of them?  Yeah, me neither.  But apparently, Adele has been suffering from this same affliction, which is why she recently underwent surgery to get them removed.  Yes, I said surgery.  The worst thing about Vocal Chord Nodules is that there are ZERO medications to help them improve. 
 Oh & Don't worry, along with weekly speech therapy, they gave me this handy little sheet with explicit instructions on pointers to possibly downgrade the nodules to a lower stage.  

So, if you see me out, please sweet Jesus, don't ask me about my voice.  #1, it takes forever to explain, and #2, while I'm explaining this random affliction to you, I'm having to talk more, which ends worsening the dern nodules.  Its a lose lose kind of situation.  But who knows, maybe I'll end up sounding like this after I eventually give in the the notion of getting them surgically removed.


Moving on, regardless of that little roadshow, I'm finally in the Christmas Spirit.  Don't believe me?  Our friends' annual Tacky Xmas Party last night, and I love this party more than I love Halloween.  I'm not kidding.  
One year, I was a life-sized stocking. 
Feel free to stuff me full of wine.  Thanks.  
And last year, we were life-sized Candy Canes.... (that kind of resemble Wheres Waldo, Christmas-edition, but hey, still unique.)
Clearly, Kevin loved it.

Pretty ridiculous.
This year our costumes weren't nearly as elaborate as they've been in the past, but they were definitely equally as festive.  Check out our 3rd Grade Throwback sweatshirts & please tell me you all remember making these back in the day in Art Class ( know, before everyone got so sensitive about Christmas in public schools. Sigh. )

My Beautiful Sweatshirt

The Masterpiece I made for Kevin

So so so hot.  Especially the purple eyeshadow :)
Only a few shopping days left yall!  Who's ready for Christmas?!?!? Ummm, I'm not, so I better jump off here & get to some online shopping.  Thats it for now yall! xoxo

Friday, December 9, 2011

My name is Caroline, and I have an addiction problem.

The first step is admitting it, right?  Lucky for us, none of my addictions are hazardous to my health.  However, they have might have potential to become hazardous to our bank account.  My problem lies in the fact that when I like something, I tend to buy a gazillion of whatever that particular item might be.  And honestly, I like to think of myself as a pretty self-aware & sane person, but ummm, now that Kevin called me out for my insane buying habits, I'm not so sure.  At all.  Like, I'm honestly scared I might be a potential candidate to be on TLC's "My Strange Addiction."
Let me show you all Exhibit A

Say hello to all of Caroline's eyeliners.  Alllllll 34 of them.  32 of which are in the same shade of BLACK.  Now, why does one need 34 eyeliners?  Great question.  I have no earthly idea.  I think I must have some subconscious quest to find the perfect eyeliner, which results in me buying every single new black eyeliner that comes out.  To be honest, I had no clue I had this many, until Kevin was giving me grief over returning from the grocery with yet another black eyeliner pen.  While trying to prove to him that I didn't own as many as he thought, I totally and completely shot myself in the foot.  Needless to say, I'm officially on eye-liner lockdown.  Dear ole Kev challenged me to not buy any more "of that black paint stuff" until I was out.   
Ohhh, okay- thats my ticket to getting early parole!   I'm sure some of those bad boys are dried up by now, right?  False.  Soo utterly false.  And lets review how Caroline shot herself in the other food.

So, I proceeded to test out every eye liner to check on their usability status.  As you can see, that uh, didn't quite work out well for me.  The Universe is clearly playing a cruel joke on me because out of all 34, not a one was unusable.  Just perfect.  Well played, Kev.  Well played.  

So, clearly, I've had to find something else to occupy my time versus continuing my mission to find the perfect eyeliner.  In turn, I have gotten pretty obsessed with what we decided to do for my niece for Christmas.
At 3 years old, Riley loves loves loves to play dress up.  

Super cute, right?  So about a month ago, we were at a craft fair, and some woman was selling these Tutus for about $40 a piece.  I was beyond tempted to buy one of them for Riley because it was done in UK colors. (Come on- Riley's generation are the future UK fanbase, so it just makes sense to invest in them early :)  )  However, I resisted because A) I thought the price was ridiculous and B) the Tutu had very little fluff behind it.  I kept telling Kevin that I thought I could probably figure out how to make one.  So last weekend, I marched myself to Hobby Lobby & figured out what I would probably need to make one.
Low & behold, a plethora of Tutus were born!!!

How fun are those????   And not to be out- done by the weak UK Tutu we saw at the craft fair, I constructed this little number for Riley to wear on Game Days.

My one issue lied in the fact that I didn't have a 3 year old around to model my handy work, soooo I had to kind of get creative to see what they looked like....

Hudson, along with Kevin, was none too pleased by his new modeling gig.  Homeboy refused to move with that on, and literally glared at me the entire time.  Hrmmph. Whatever, boys.  As long as this girl likes it, 

thats all it matters :)   
Anyway, because I took a ridiculous amount of enjoyment out of making those for my niece, I've decided I think I'm going to start selling them.  No worries, yall- I'm not gonna be charging $45 or anything along those crazy lines.  They'll definitely be under $25, and possibly even under $18, depending on the size needed.   I'm dying for some feedback, so please feel free to let me know what yall think!
Mmmkay- thats it for now! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Delusions of my dear husband & a quick tutorial follow up

There are certain things in Kevin's life that he will swear up & down and until the cows come home that are 110% factual. Often, i tend to ignore these sentiments because these supposed "facts" sound so ridiculously absurd. However, there are other times where I to against my better judgement & argue about his questionable ideology bc I find some of his claims so incredibly irritating. Now, I love my husband more than I even love diet coke, but the boy is just straight confused about a few things he claims to be "facts." For example:

1) Kevin claims he still isn't a "cat person," and he would get rid of all 3 of our cats to get another dog. LIES. This is also the same kid who made me get out of bed & go downstairs to get Lucy the diva from the laundry room, aka her designated & redesigned bedroom, so she could sleep w/ us, due to the fact he was worried about her safety with our temperamental cat. And this is also the same guy who refuses to get up when one of the cats is laying on him, because he doesn't want to "disturb" their slumber.

Lucy & Hudson... BFFs for life.
Uh huh, judging from that picture, Kevin clearly isn't a cat person.  Suuuuure.

2) If you met my husband tomorrow & somehow the subject of snoring came up, he would swear up & down that he doesn't snore much.  And he might claim that his wife is just a light sleeper.  False. Again.  Homeboy literally could wake the neighborhood with how loud he snores.  It is truly incredible.  Okay okay, waking the neighborhood might be a bit of a stretch, but I swear I can hear him from the kitchen if he is asleep in our room.  After arguing with him about this topic for months, I finally decided I would get evidence of his alleged snoring.  So, the next night he woke me up, I filmed this award winning little number of him... (Pardon the Blair Witchness of my camera skills... it was late.)

Due to the fact that the snoring was literally deafening, I'm gonna go ahead & assume that he was dreaming of his pretty wife.  The louder the snoring, the better the dream, right?  Ptsch, if thats the case, then lets get real with ourselves... chances are he was dreaming about Kentucky Football winning the SEC championship.  I mean, have you ever heard anyone snore that loud?  I'm pretty confident that he could wake the dead w/ that sound.  The funniest part about this video is that after I showed him this the next morning, his comment was "I mean, its realllly kind of a soothing sound.  It should be easy for you to sleep through. Kind of like a sound machine?"   Yes, Kevin, you are an exact replication of a sound machine.  Brookstone should probably hire you to do sound effects on their next sleep machine.  Get real with yourself, son.

3) Kevin LOVES to tell people that I take forever to get ready before we go out.  Absolute fabrication.  Truth of the matter is... I purposely drag my feet & take forever to get ready because Mr. Big Primpin mirrors the tendencies of a 15 year old girl when he gets ready.  While I can be showered, dressed, and completely ready in about 25-30 mins, Mr. Gray takes at least an hour.
His routine goes as follows:
-Makes a cocktail
-Takes a forever long shower
-Proceeds to follow me around, swearing that all of his fav shirts are at the dry cleaner or need to be taken to the dry cleaners
-Tells me to pick him out a shirt
-He finally chooses a different shirt, that is completely wrinkled
-Begs me to iron a shirt
-Stops everything to watch 15 mins of a (insert sport) game that has no relevancy to our lives
-Makes new cocktail
-Puts on clothes
-Stares/models his clothes/himself in full length mirror for 5 minutes
-Does his hair
-Asks me if his hair looks okay
-Checks his phone... not to see if anyone has called or text him, but to see if there is any new UK news via Kentucky Sports Radio, Rivals, or Twitter.  (Priorities yall.  UK sports > friends.)
-Puts on cologne
-Watches 5 more mins of irrelevant game
-Asks me which shoes (brown or black? Its the same shoe... but yet.. such a dilemma)
-Revisits his full length mirror to check himself out again
-Makes new cocktail
-And finally, asks me if I'm ever gonna be ready to leave.... Yes, I am serious.

So, if we are ever late (who am I kiddin? we are perpetually late), it can probably be traced back to Kevin's hour long routine....
Clearly, weekend nights at our house are a ball.  Scratch that, every day at our house is a ball w/ Kev :)  As I've said before, he could probably do a wide variety of blog posts poking fun of me, but until he starts his own blog, yall get to hear about the oddities of good ole Kev.

Moving on, I got a ton of questions surrounding the needlepoint belt I was making for Kevin's dad for Christmas, so let me fill yall in a bit more.

If you didn't get to see the needlepoint belt in progress...

Why did the belt have to be done by Thanksgiving?
The shop that designed the belt only works with ONE leathering guy.  So, seeing how he's only a 1 man shop, he only has enough time/supplies to complete a limited amount of belts in the small window of time before Christmas.  So, the only way they would guarantee your belt to be leathered in time for Christmas, was to have it turned in by Thanksgiving.

Where do you go to get these Needlepoint Belts?
I always go to the same place, which is a little store in Lexington called "Eye of the Needle."  For those of you in Lexington, it's located right off Clays Mill Road.  For those of you all not in Lexington, they can design just about anything, ie: School logo, sports symbol, liquor bottle of choice, animal, state flags, etc- you get the idea.  The phone number is: 859-278-1401.  Or, you can visit The Eye of the Needle's Website to get an idea of what they can work up for ya.

How much is one of these belts gonna set me back?
It honestly depends.  The pre-printed designs (includes the printed design, the thread, and needles) run anywhere between 60-90ish.  If you want to do a custom design, it'll probably cost you a bit more because they charge per symbol.  And you usually need quite a few symbols to fill up a full belt.  And then, once you complete the belt, you have to pay for it to be leathered, which will cost about $60.  So, yes, these belts are kind of pricey, but I have yet to run into someone who doesn't absolutely LOVE their belt.

Can you do a tutorial to explain how to needlepoint?
Ummmm, of course!!!! As a quick disclaimer, don't judge my nails.  They are a hot mess- Pink Lou Lou and I have a nail date scheduled for this week.  Also, Kevin's cameraman skills are far from that of a professionals, but to give him some major credit- I made him film this & refilm like 4 times because the iphone wasn't focusing well enough on the design for my liking...

Are you seriously going to do another belt for Kevin? 
Color me insane, but yes.  Color me certifiable, but I have actually already started on it.  When we turned the belt in that I had made for his Kev's dad, Kevin went ahead & picked out a UK needlepoint belt.  Yes, I have already made one needlepoint belt for him, but it was a belt dedicated to all things Kentucky!!! IE: Makers Mark, Bourbon, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, etc.  He doesn't have one that is solely dedicated to THE University of Kentucky.  The good news for me is that I don't have the killer 3.5 week timeline for this new belt, like I did with his dads.  My goal is to have it done in time for our 2 year Wedding Anniversary in February.  Totallllly doable!!!

MMkay guys, thats about it for now.  We'll chat soon.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Talk Turkey to Me....

I'm honestly surprised that Blogger even recognized my username & password to get on, seeing how its been a hot minute since I've written a post.  These past few weeks have been utterly insane & filled with crazy work tasks & Turkey Day gatherings, so I apologize for my absence.  I'm sure you all have just been dying to hear whats been going on in the world of the Grays, right? Bahaha, rrriiiight.  Regardless, Lucky for yall, I'm fixing to fill you guys in...

So, first things first.... Our lives have changed DRAMATICALLY since my last post.  (And no, I am not preggo.) Want to know why?

Why hello fence in Caroline & Kevin's backyard!  How nice of you to join us right before the ridiculousness & unpredictability of a Kentucky Winter!!!  So, lets back up a bit.... Kevin & I have debated on getting a fence ever since we got Hudson.  After the first 3 estimates we received, we decided to put it on the back-burner because they were both sky high, which is crazy because we only had to fence that one side & add a gate on the other side.  Finally, one of our neighbors had a fencing guy over, repairing some of the boards, so we asked him to give us a quick estimate.  I am not joking when I say that this guy was 60% cheaper than the other 3 estimates- like not even in the same ball park. So after dealing with Hudson taking his sweet time to do his business on the first rainy, 39 degree day we had, Kevin & I agreed that we should just bite the bullet.  Holy Amazingness.  I cannot even begin to express my love for that fence.  I seriously want to give it a hug for allowing me to just open the door & let Hudson outside with out having to endure any of the blah effects of icky precipitation.  Worth. Every. Penny.
That little baby was completed in its entirety last Tuesday- just in time for our Annual Wednesday night Thanksgiving Meal at our house!  You see, half my family lives in Western Kentucky & the other half lives in Central Indiana, where Kevin's WHOLE family lives within 30 minutes of Lexington.  I'd love to tell you that I just decided to start hosting a Thanksgiving meal at our house out of the goodness of my heart, but thats not entirely true.  To be honest, Kevin & I got super tired of spending our whole Holiday break running up & down the highway.  So, 3 years ago, I offered to do Thanksgiving for my immediate family, plus my cousin Becca & her husband, along w/ her husbands cousin & his girlfriend- now fiance (who is also one of my good friends & was a Chi O w/ Becca & I), and its been a tradition ever since.

L-R: Kev, Me, Becca, BABY BANKS!, my older bro, Becca's husband-Jack, & the newly engaged couple, Molly & John!
What a good looking crew :)
Now, I may have mentioned before that my Mother & I are polar opposites when it comes to most things.  And entertaining is no exception.  We take completely different approaches, and it drives her mad.  Jan likes to prepare for company weeks in advance.  She has to iron the table cloths, polish her silver, design a center-piece, etc. Sounds exhausting to me.  So what I deem as a direct result of listening to Jan's endless stress over her hosting preparations, I tend to get things ready either the day of, or if I'm over-achieving, the night before the event.  It drives Jan absolutely nuts.

In turn, Jan usually begins bothering me about a month before Thanksgiving, over the silliest things, such as: What is the menu going to be comprised of, Caroline? (Me: Thanksgiving food, Jan. Duh.) or What is your table decor going to be? (Me: Well, currently, there is a stack of folded laundry sitting on our kitchen table, so I dunno.) or What does the seating chart look like? (Me: Similar to that of a State Dinner at the White House, Jan. Calm it down.).  

   Because I've grown more privy to her rampant fire of questions pertaining to my hostessing skills, I decided that I would go Martha Stewart on her this year.  And then, perhaps she would leave me alone prior to any event I hosted at my home.  So, allow me to show you my Thanksgiving Table Decor & Seating Arrangements, because you better bet that I was covered 110% with both aspects.....

The overall look of the table & bar

A closer look at the bar...
The bar design was completed with not 1, but 2 Caroline original decorative arrangements. And bourbon, of course.  This is Kentucky, after all.

The main table

And a close-up of the main table decorations...
Yes, I handmade every flower on that table, using my skills with burlap.  And yes, those are gold chargers via wedding style.  And yes, those are also Pilgrim name cards.  And why yes, I did hand tie every napkin bow, complete w/ curls on each side.  Seriously, who am I?  Moreover, what is wrong with me?  OCD much, Caroline?  Good grief.  
I forgot to take pics of the other bar & food table, but I can assure you that they were both equally as decked out.  Needless to say, I don't think Jan will be questioning my hostessing skills any more.  Hell, knowing my luck, she'll probably start heckling me to come design her tables :) Then again, she would need to have her table set about 2 weeks in advance for her to be happy, so I doubt she'll ever ask me :)  

Don't worry, my personal quest to appear Martha Stewart-like to my Mom didn't derail me from remembering what Thanksgiving is all about & what I am most thankful for.  **Prepare yourself, because I'm about to get sentimental & such..** Personally, I am forever thankful for Kevin, my sweet husband that deals with me every day, who still willingly wants to hang out with me :) I am also thankful for our families.  They are both so great & unique, but in completely different ways that help guide us in our life.  And lastly, I am thankful for true friends. Its remarkably reassuring knowing that there are people in our lives, other than family members, who are always gonna be there for us when the going gets tough.  I know my list is pretty standard, but hey, I grateful for those 3 large blessings on a daily basis :) 

Oh! And I can't forget about being thankful for this little blessing...

Lucy says HI... or HOW (Indian voice)- take your pick

Or this handsome little devil!!
Hudson.. just being handsome.  Or trying to accost my 95 year old grandmother. Again, take your pick...

Hahahaa, okay yall, thats it for now!  I swear, my blog slacking is over :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Daughter in-law of the year

So, obviously, its been a hot minute since my last post.  I would love to tell you that I have been busy doing fabulous things..... but that would be a bold faced lie.
Ohhhh no, quite the contrary.  Currently, I am under a tight tight tight timeline because of what I decided (a bit late, mind you) to get my Father in-law for Christmas.  I know what you're thinking...."what on earth could she have gotten him that has taken her away from her precious blog time?"
Well friends, allow introduce you to the world of needlepoint.  More specifically, the world of needlepoint belts.  (And if any of you show this to Big Bo, just expect to receive one hell of a tongue-lashing from yours truly because it took me forever to figure out what we were gonna get Mr. impossible to buy for...)

Kevin = my personal Vanna White. Great demonstration skills.
So, needlepoint belts are HUGE in the South.  Almost every guy I know has one, and they wear them 24/7.  At first glance, they look hugely easy, right? Um, no.  If someone ever tries to convince you to make a needlepoint belt for them, run like hell.  On average, they take about 72 hours of labor to complete.  So if you get bored easily, you will want to stab your eyeballs out with the needle on day 2.  Lucky for me,  I absolutely LOVE making these bad boys.  Although I am ADHD as all get out, I have some major OCD tendencies, so it actually calms me down because you have 110% complete control of your stitches.  And, its super addicting.  I'm not kidding.. this stuff is like crack to me.
So obviously, when Kev & I decided that Bo's Christmas present would be a custom designed needlepoint belt, I knew what I was gettin myself into.  This isn't my first rodeo.  
However, when I picked it up, I was told I had to have it 110% completed by

Fantastic.  Did I mention that was 2 weeks ago?  No pressure or anything.  Only the minor detail that if I don't get it finished in time, my Father in-law will have nothing to open on Christmas from Kevin & I.  No biggie.  Let me put this in perspective for yall.. normally, the cross-stitch belt project is something that I do at my leisure.  Like, I give myself 2 months to do one.  So, a 3.5 week timeline? Can we say major stress ball?  I have honestly been working non-stop on this belt, ie: we're talking 2am bedtimes, bringing it with me in the car & making kevin drive so I can work on it, & getting up early to work on it.  OUT. OF. CONTROL.....However, my dedication has paid off- I'm closing in on the finish-line.

Left side


Right Side.  (The SC sign is already done, so I just have to fill & do the 18th hole.)

Needless to say, I'm just gonna go ahead & nominate myself for Daughter in-law of the year.  Nevermind the fact that I am Bo's only Daughter in-law.  Hrmphhh. Minnnorrrr detail :)  
The one bad part about this belt is that Kevin has now seen that I can seriously FLY on some needlepointingwhen I put my mind to it.  He now thinks that I should be able to produce a new one for him on a much more consistent basis.  Riiiiiight- Keep dreaming, honey.

Due to the fact I am obsessing over this damn belt, it has also made me completely obsessed with Christmas this year.  Jan (mi madre) convinced me this weekend that I could craft a new Christmas wreath without much issue.  Well, um, I have absolutely zero talent in the floral department, so I found this sentiment laughable.  THEN, i found the bedazzled area in Hobby Lobby that is specifically designed for floral arrangements & wreaths.  O.....M....G..... Talk about a game changer.  
So, with some Jan supervision, let me reveal my bedazzled Christmas Wreath.

It's a little disheveled after sharing the backseat w/ Hudson on the car ride back from Louisville, but yall get the idea.  I know Christmas is more than a month away, but I beyond jacked up it.  In addition to the wreath, I may or may not have purchased 4 other Christmas decorative items over the weekend.  (Jan is a terrible influence on my bank account. I can always count on her to convince me its totally cool for me to drop a couple hundred dollars on something completely ridiculous.  Thats what mom's are great for, right? hahahaha)  And I've already spent hours designing our Christmas Card.  Please sweet Jesus, someone tell me this is normal?  Or am I the only one?  

I need to get it together & redirect my focus on THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!
I always do Thanksgiving at my house the Wednesday night of Thanksgiving week w/ some of my family & friends.  As of right now, I THINK I have my Menu together (due to Jan's never ending persistence).... However, I am in desperate need of a good Mac & Cheese Recipe because mine has just not been on point lately.  Suggestions are welcome & truly appreciated!  MMmmmmkay yall, that is it for now! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Epic Fail- I forgot my Halloween Post

I cannot BELIEVE I forgot to tell you all about our Halloween Party.
After missing Halloween last year, if you think I passed up my golden opportunity to finally be MTV's trashiest teen trainwreck, you've got another thing coming.
Lemme introduce you to my dear friends, Amber & Gary.

Have you ever seen 2 more beautiful people in your life????
Seriously? Flippin gorgeous!!!  Bhahahahaha. Okay, now yall know my oddly sick obsession with bad reality tv, and that Teen Mom probably tops the list as my personal favorite.  And as much as it pains my husband to admit it, ole Kev lives for that ridiculous show as well.  We legitimately get in conversations about the people on that show on a regular basis... like they're our friends.... like thats normal.  
Anywho, I'd been talking about wanting to be sweet Amber since last year, so when we figured out that none of our friends had any plans to celebrate Halloween, I immediately started talking Kevin into having a small shin-dig at our house.  After all, I knew it'd probably be my last chance to bust out my portrayal of the break out 16 & pregnant star, Amber Portwood.  
I'd be lying to you if I said that I wasn't met with some resistance from Kevin.  Since we did NYE at our house, along w/ some other couples showers & parties this past year, he wasn't exactly over-joyed about hosting yet another party.  However, once he realized he got to wear a costume, the tide started to change in my favor.  
I don't know what it is about my husband, but the kid utterly LIVES to dress up in insane costumes.  Even funnier is that he ends up getting super into whatever the character is, and just rolls with it for the whole night. 
Whats up Caroline & Kev, circa 2006?
Above is kind of a weak example, but this was taken before a Chi O Date Party my senior year.  The theme was clearly a March Madness Theme (Surprise surprise, we are in Kentucky), so you'd think Kevin would've just thrown on a matching basketball jersey to match my 5th grade cheerleading Uniform (Yes, I said 5th grade, but thats another story all together), but Ohhhhh no.  He had to make his character "more authentic." Seriously? Its a date party. Calm. It. Down.  Sooo in order to be an "Authentic" March Madness basketball player, he made his friend, Stephen, spend 45 minutes drawing that sweet Tattoo you see in that picture.  Because I'm sure every intoxicated Chi O AND their date noticed.  Good Grief. The boy wears me out.
Anyway, once Kevin FINALLY agreed to the party at our house AND that he would accompany my Amber character w/ his best Gary Shirley Costume, I thought I'd won the lottery.  Until I remembered his propensity to get hung up in the details- he then continued to pester the absolute hell out of me about the following regarding his Gary costume:

1) The Flat Billed Hat He honestly worried about what hat to wear, because he wasn't entirely sure of Gary's favorite team bc he wears different hats in every picture.
2)His Gary Stomach-  So, Gary probably outweighs Kevin by 100lbs.  Kevin was truly concerned that he wouldn't look the part because he didn't have on a fat suit.  Then he kept inquiring about me putting stuffing in his shirt to make him appear larger.  Seriously. But how do you say "Ummm, honey- I think a womens XS makes you look puffy enough." in a nice way? 
3) Ice for his ears- So Back in the day, my preppy hubs got all gangster on us & had not one, but both ears pierced.  He proceeded to rock this look w/ studs in his ears. GHETTO FABULOUS!!!! So, having him wear earrings like Gary was no big thing.... or so I thought.  He then got alll choosey about which of my diamond studs would look best as Gary.  Not kidding when I tell you he vetoed at least 2 pairs.  Dang, picky!
4) Baby Leah- Okay, so obviously, we needed a baby doll to complete our Amber & Gary Teen Mom look, otherwise, we'd look like any other couple that roams Walmart past 11:20pm on a given night in Kentucky.  I figured we'd just borrow one from one of our neighbors. Oh no. That wasn't gonna be good enough for Kev.  He called me from Target to ask me about a $22 "life-like" baby doll. After I nearly hung up on him for his clear desire to just burn through money, I calmly explained to him that we could probably just borrow one, or find one in the $1 section because it was pointless to actually purchase a doll that would be most likely not make it through a party at the Grays.  He begrudgingly agreed, but still managed to critique my $2 doll choice when I brought it home.  And don't worry yall, our beloved daughter "Leah" doll basically ended up serving as Hudson's chew toy for the whole night after pictures.  

Even though I might not have been able to satisfy all of Kevin's over-the-top costume preference requests, I think he would agree that he wound up being a pretty legit Gary.
Amber putting Gary in his Place....Please note the Ice in his ears. Hot.

Amber getting physical w/ Gary...and not in the Olivia Newton John sense of the word.

Amber being a great mom w/ Brooke aka Eden Wood Grand Supreme

This was taken about 3 minutes before I managed to lose baby Leah for the night.. I then proceeded to find Hudson with it & the head ripped off & torn into about 1000 pieces.  I personally think he was just super annoyed that we chose to use a fake baby doll to play baby Leah & he didn't get to dress up in an outfit.  Maybe thats why he decided to run away mid-party? What do you think Pink Lou Lou? :)  Regardless, Sorry boy- next year!

I feel like you all should probably know that I opted out of using traditional Halloween decorations.  Too predictable.  Instead, I opted to adorn my house w/ random pictures of Amber & Gary.  Judging from the picture above, I am obviously not kidding.  I probably had about 10-12 pictures of them scattered throughout the house.  Don't worry.. I kept it classy.  I printed them all on card stock.  

So my friends, that pretty much captures our party in a nutshell.  And yes, in case you were wondering, I have saved everything just in case one of you wants to be the lovely Amber Portwood next year.  Just let me know :) hahahahahaha.
Thats it for now!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Little Sunshine on this Dreary Day

I'm not going to lie, I've been kinda grumpy today.  Work + Rain + chilly weather makes for a pissy Caroline.  I guess I need to brace myself because the Indian Summer we've had made me completely forget about the harsh reality surrounding Kentucky winters.
Anywho, I happened to run across this via Facebook, and it absolutely brightened my day & changed my mood for the better.  Be prepared, you might shed a tear or 2....but otherwise- Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

There's no skinniness in cooking!!!

*Foreword*-  Please don't kick me yall...I know I've been on a major domestic diva kick lately, and I promise to cool it for a bit after this post.  I swear.

I can't help it. I love to eat.  I love food in general.  Allllllll food.  My parents thought I was a phenomenal child when I was little because there wasn't any food I wouldn't try.  Granted, this reaction comes after they went through 20 kinds of hell trying to get my older brother to try anything, but still.  
*Side note*- how Kent eats NOTHING but pizza, chicken tenders, hamburgers, & Peanut butter, yet never gains any weight BLOWS MY MIND.  Seriously, talk about winning the metabolism lottery. Oh wait. Maybe its because he is 5'11, and I am 5'1.  Totally fair. Not.

Anywho, Jan (aka my momma) probably cooked 5 nights a week when we were growing up.  When I would ask her how she learned to cook sooooo many things, her response was "Well, if you love to eat, you have to know how to cook." Simple, yet so true. However, her statement didn't really hit home until I went to college.  After a semester in the dorm, I found myself literally craving a home-cooked meal (Ahem, this craving a home-cooked meal also came after I probably had polished off chicken fingers, pizza, waffles, etc. Oh college. And I wonder why I gained weight my freshman year. Tsk Tsk.)
Obviously, I couldn't really cook in the dorms, but it made me appreciate my Mommas cooking about 10 times more than I ever had in high school.
While we had a fantastic team of cooks at the Chi Omega house, I LOVED Sundays  because it meant that the kitchen was open, and we could have (some) free reign to cook what we wanted.  So, i would just take various left-overs & add stuff to them to make them more appealing to my taste buds.
Don't be jealous our sorority house resembles a Steam boat.  ha.
However, it wasn't until my senior year of college that I started to get more into cooking real food, and figured out that I actually did have some skills in the kitchen.  Now, I love my college besties, but none of them were really known for their cooking.

RIP Woodland Ave (Les, don't kill me- I don't know where you were that night)
Soooo, after I replicated a few of my Mom's easiest recipes, my girlfriends were all super encouraging about me learning more recipes and/or repeating favorite dishes that I had tried out of them previously.  At the time, I'm sure I really thought that my meals were gourmet master-pieces, when in reality, they were just the most basic type of recipes a person can follow.
Kevin & I also started dating around this same time, and I quickly figured out that there was no way this boy was gonna end up with someone who couldn't cook, especially given the fact that he had grown eating delicious dishes by his Mother.  So obviously, as time continued, I just kept on trying out new recipes & conquering things I'd never done before in the Kitchen.

So, as I said before, some of friends aren't exactly whiz's in the kitchen, so I'm never surprised when I get a call, email, or text asking about a recipe, requesting a recipe, or just a simple cooking question. **Side note**: One perfect example of this was when my friend Lindsay called to tell me she made dinner.  Oh maah Lord, she was proud of herself.  Of course, I first was super excited that she had actually finally located the kitchen in her home, but I was even more excited to hear what she had made.  So what was her culinary masterpiece? Don't worry, it was Hamburger Helper. There. Are. No. Words.  Needless to say, for her bday that year, I got her a gorgeous dish that was designed to hold her microwave dinners perfectly :) 

Meet Lindsay. Love her heart.
To be 110% transparent, I am far from being the next Rachel Ray, but I have definitely gotten better through the years, so I can usually handle whatever my friends throw my way.   I have to remember that my culinary improvement only occurred because there has always been a plethora of people on hand that I could call when I had a random cooking related question.  (Thank you Jan, Pat Gray, Michelle, Mary Jo, Hazel, and on the rare occasion, Big P.)  I'm mildly embarrassed to admit this, but I'd estimate that I've probably made (& will prob continue to make) HUNDREDS of frantic phone calls asking ridiculous questions, butttt... versus sounding like I stalk my family, I'm just gonna say that all calls were/are made to insure that Kevin gets top quality out of his dinners :) Bahahahahahaha.
Sooooo since my girlfriends always seem to enjoy when I tell them about a new a simple & delicious meal we've recently tried out, I thought it is only fair that I share a couple of my favorite fall soup recipes that are extremely simple, yet beyond yummy.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Who doesn't enjoy a nice soup in the fall?  This one is incredibly easy to prepare, but it tastes like it took you hours :)

-2-3 Chicken breasts, cooked & diced
-2 cans of chicken broth
-1 can of cream of chicken soup
-1 can Rotel
-1 small can of yellow corn niblets
-1 can of black beans
-1 onion, chopped
-2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning
-1 Tablespoon chili powder or cumin (Depends on your preference for spicy things- Cumin has more of a kick.)

(1.5 hours prior to eating)
-Sprinkle the chili powder (or cumin) on chicken
-Cook chicken at 450 in oven for 40-50 mins
-Sautee chopped onion for 5 minutes in Soup Pan
-Mix chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, and taco seasoning all together until smooth
-Stir in cooked chicken
-Stir in rotel, corn, beans
-Put soup on simmer for 35-45 mins
-Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and tortillas

Jan's Chili
This is the chili that I grew up eating.  Maybe I am biased, but I have yet to find another red chili recipe that rivals this one.  The hubs even agrees that it is the best chili he's ever had. (PS- don't let the amount of ingredients fool you- it is beyond easy to make.)

-1 onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic
-2 lbs ground beef (I use lean)
-2 cans chopped tomato's (chili style)
-1 can tomato sauce
-3 cans chili beans (I use 2 hot, 1 mild)
-1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
-1-2 Teaspoons Cumin 
-1 Teaspoon salt & pepper
-1/2 teaspoon sugar
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1 teaspoon oregano
-1 teaspoon basil
-Elbow Macaroni

-Brown onion, meat, & garlic in large pot
-Add beans, tomatoes, and all spices
-To prevent chili from getting thick, be sure to add 1 cup of water as needed (I usually end up having to add 1.5 cups by the end.)
-Let simmer for 2-3 hours & enjoy!

-**Continue to taste while chili is simmering, and feel free to add more/less of any of the spices to suit your taste buds**
Also I know not everybody likes noodles in their chili, but for those who do....
-Boil water, cook noodles as directed
-Add noodles 15 minutes before you are ready to eat (Adding the noodles anytime before then makes the chili waaaay too thick.)

Chicken Pot Pie
This recipe is about as basic as you can get, but believe me- it hits the spot on a cold, Fall day.

-Cream of potato Soup
-Cream of Chicken Soup
-1/4 cup milk 
-2 chicken breasts, cooked & diced
-Frozen vegetables (Since my husband is beyond picky, I tend to just use frozen peas & carrots)
-2 Pie Crusts
-1 teaspoon pepper ( I always end up adding more)
-1 1/2 teaspoon of thyme

-Cook Chicken for 40-45 mins in oven on 450
-Cook frozen veggies on stove--> Follow directions on package
-Mix Cream of chicken soup & cream of potato soups together
-Stir in cooked chicken & cooked veggies
-Add in pepper & Thyme
-Cover pie pan w/ 1 pie crust, fill with chicken/veggie mixture
-Top pie pan w/ 2nd pie crust
-Be sure to make a few holes w/ a fork in the top crust
-*Put in oven for 45 mins at 350 degrees

Like the title of the post says, there is NO skinniness in cooking.  I refuse to skimp on certain items in recipes because it inevitably takes away from the taste.  I don't use fat free ANYTHING.  I will, however, sometimes opt for the "light" version of ingredients.  IE: Lean ground beef, light sour cream, skim milk, etc.  I can promise you that if you opt to use all fat-free items, your food will suffer.  Just ask Kev about the chicken Alfredo pasta disaster of 09' :) Believe you me, my aversion to using fat free foods is also the reason why I work out 5-6 days a week... otherwise I'd definitely be the next contestant on The Biggest Loser :) 
Mmkay yall, thats it for now. And per usual, if you have ANY questions about the recipes, feel free to email me :)