Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gratituesday: Books

I read a lot, apparently.
Although not as much as I would like or even as much as I used to. I read at night, as part of my night time routine. You know, wash face, brush teeth, moisturize, set alarm clock, read. 
Lately, I have been reading magazines while I sit outside and eat my lunch as well.
I blame the computer for my lack of accomplishments. Worm holes are easy to fall down, reading blogs. But, books are my friends.

As a kid, I was an early and dedicated reader. I read all the time.Charlie Brown books, my Big Book of Fairy Tales, Beatrix Potter, The Bopsy Twins and of course, Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing were all early favorites. I read instead of interacting with my peers once I got to school, as I was VERY shy and changed schools a lot.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cooking: A menu and a birthday

As I said earlier, April to me has always been "Karen's month". I felt a little awkward getting married days before her birthday in 1998. She has always been the candle burning brightest in our family.
A fun, kooky girl, she is affectionately known as Krazy Aunt Karen by her nieces and nephews.  She is the most stylish and funniest person I know.

I have always felt a little dowdy standing next to her. Like the hump back sister that is allowed in photos. Karen is gorgeous and always has been. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Whatever: Anniversary

Yesterday was the anniversary of our first date.
Today... our wedding!

Best wedding in the world, in my opinion.
Got married on the beach at sunset in my big dress. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Whatever: 18 years

18 years?
18 years!
Started dating Steve 18 years ago.
Time flies when you are having fun! 
And fun we have had.

Just two weeks ago, we rode bikes past a ghost tour and made ghost noises as we rode past them.
Yesterday, we were still laughing about it.

That's us.
Making our own fun.

(Our daughter asked us how many dates we went on. I told her 1,000. Seems like a good number.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Gratituesday: A reflective list

Today I am back to my list ways.
My grateful heart is almost overflowing these past few weeks.
Chattanooga is an amazing place to live, I have great friends, lovely kids, an awesome family and the support of  husband who more than tolerates my flightiness. The richness of my life sometimes is eclipsed by my humanness. I am flawed and easily distracted. 
In light of the news last week and the visions of people who lost their lives and the life they knew, I stopped to be reminded of what I would miss if my life were turned upside down. I, like most Americans, easily lose sight of how blessed I am. This past week of news reminded me that we walk next to the edge all the time.

Gratituesday List
  • A bed with blankets that are old, but still beautiful and warm
  • A husband that after 18 years together still tells me I'm hot
  • Kids that are smart, funny and kind to their friends
  • Friends that put up with me, despite my flightiness and carelessness
  • My dogs that keep me company and drive me batty sometimes
  • An annoying cat who makes me laugh
  • My old funky house that I love so much
  • My yard, with a million squirrels that live in the tall trees
  • The owls that live in my yard
  • The hawk that flies around my house looking at my cats. Eat the squirrels!!!
  • The safety of every member of my family in Texas
  • The knowledge that I will  have a reunion with my cousins next year. Family is so important and I am so excited to see them
  • All my limbs and the ability to use them to exercise and work
  • My parents buying a farm an hour away
  • The Chattanooga market
  • Coffee made every morning by Steve
  • Daughters that swim
  • All of our combined family, Steve and I are so lucky to have them
  • My sister who is creeping closer to 40
  • My other sister who calls me weekly with my nieces hilarious comments. They get me through the week
  • The sun!!!
  • My garden
  • Books
These are some of my favorite farmers...(via)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cooking: Menu and a busy week

Gorgeous weekend.
We had such a great weekend. Loads of fun.
Cannot believe how fast it went.

Big week this week...
May Day, anniversary of first date and of wedding day. 
This was the night I found out I was married to a famous guy

15 Years of Wedded Bliss Menu

  • Meatballs/Tomato and white bean soup
  • Zuchinni pizza with pepperoni/greek salad
  • crock pot fajitas/roasted veggie fajitas
  • Anniversary dinner

Sometime this weekend...I want to make this...

Avocado salad

Friday, April 19, 2013


A week in photos at Casa Swann...linking up with...

life rearranged
click to check out some awesomeness

 Friday was Decades Day at school. We rocked the 1980's AD and the 40's BC. 
Only my child would think of a toga for decades day. Actually, mine and one of her besties.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Whatever: Shopping list

I need clothes.
Not need as in "I haven't shopped in days"
 but need as in
 " I have given every thing away and now I am going to be naked."

Pinterest has been my friend these past few months and now I am making a list of items I want to purchase to go along with what I have already. A plan, have I! 
Yoda, channeling am I.

Actually my plan is this: 
  • buy a complete outfit  with items that will  go with other things I have
  • buy two dresses that I can wear casually, but dress up for dinner
  • buy a casual pair of fun shoes to go with shorts/dresses/jeans
  • buy some tops that are statements to go with bottoms that I have 
  • find two pairs of jeans (one blue and one colored) that fit 


I had this whole funny snarky post planned for today, but instead I am posting about what is on everyone's lips and minds today.

Or better yet, the peace that was shattered yesterday afternoon. I have no idea what would make someone hate, yes, hate humanity so much that it would allow them to be able to randomly kill and maim. I cannot wrap my mind around it.

As I watched the news yesterday to get my mind around what happened, I thought of two things.
The first was how many times I have crossed finish lines with my kids and husband watching and waiting, cheering me on. The thought of seeing them carrying me through the race.

The second was how hard those runners trained and how much they gave up just to be at "THE BOSTON" and how that closure of a year of training will  never happen.
Yes, the heartache of lives lost and maimed is horrific, much worse than not finishing a race, by far. But the gut punch of not finishing will always be there. The fear of wondering if your kids and spouse were alright must have been maddening and the panic would have almost made my heart stop.

I have stood with my kids and cheered Steve on and he has done the same. Big races, little races, it didn't matter. We have been there. The atmosphere around a race is so fun and addictive. The runners are high on finishing and the spectators are thrilled to be a part of that. A marathon is that times 1,000 and I am sure the Boston is that times a million. You are in the moment, cheering and celebrating others successes.

*But this time the atmosphere of love was shattered.
All the happiness,bombed. I will always pray, for Boston.

*This post was finished by my youngest daughter. I had more to say, and left it up on my computer  and found it finished. She summed it all up.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cooking: Menu and a movie suggestion

Weekend was so, well, weekendish.

Kids went to a play, we had a date, attended a right brain festival kick off, and two lacrosse games. Following all that, we went to lunch with friends, including one visiting from Washington, D.C., all the while sporting our new farmer tans courtesy of the lacrosse field. 


 We had big hopes, but ended up watching a movie (IQ, more on that in a moment.) til midnight. 

Sunday, we lazed about, worked on homework and a project which included a trip to Goodwill and the grocery store. We got a little yard work done, I cooked a pork tenderloin and then the day was over.  And so was the weekend. 

weird things at Goodwill...one came home with us.

We pack so much in, including a little down time, which makes it just fly by. 
When I was getting ready for bed last night, I told Steve that I love Sundays because we are all home as a family and relaxing. We may not all be together, but we are all "around" and it makes me so happy.  The kids will be gone before we know it, so I relish these lazy days.

While the kids were working on math problems and studying for tests, I was planning dinners with their input. Very sweet girls told me things they liked and so, the menu was easy this week.
We have a track meet and a lacrosse game this week, so two nights will be "later" nights and I picked the make ahead meals for those nights. 

Have a great week and read below why you should watch Walter Matthau being a great Albert Einstein in I.Q.

Casa Swann Picked by the Girls Menu
  • Salmon Burgers (homemade)/Zucchini Fries/ Box Mac n Cheese (the girls love it)
  • Sloppy Joe/ Sweet Potato and Smiley Fries/ Salad
  • Pesto Chicken thighs (last bit of last year's pesto)/ Kale salad (from my neighor's garden)/ roasted carrots
  • Squash, Tomato, and chickpea stew/corn muffins
  • BBQ chicken sandwiches/grilled salmon burger/ slaw

**Movie Review** We have been watching old movies with the girls. Some are hits and some are misses. This weekend, I wanted to watch a fun, romantic comedy as I was tired and just wanted to relax. Steve had already gone to bed, so the girls and I watched I.Q. with Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins and the ever wonderful Walter Matthau.
 First, it is funny. Smart funny, which the girls and I always give extra points to a movie which we find it to fit this criteria. Of course, it is about one of the greatest minds in the history of the world, so it better be smart. However humor is as valuable as brains, with the scientists who are so hilarious, especially when they are helping the Tim Robbins character, Ed, take a test. 

Speaking of which, it has Tim Robbins, who is very nice on the eyes. Extremely nice.  However, the best thing about this movie is that it is about embracing what you are, not changing to fit a certain image. From the scientists, who dress in a very eccentric manner to Ed who is a mechanic who reads popular science, the focus is on being who you truly are. 

The character Catherine, played by Meg Ryan back when she was still Meg Ryan, is coming to terms with that idea. She is a brilliant mathematician who underestimates her own worth. Set in the 1950's at Princeton University, the scenery and cars are worth watching alone.  However, I recommend it for the dialogue and the message as well. 
Oh...and Walter Matthau is absolutely fabulous as Albert Einstein. 
As always.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dirt: The List, April

Here it is the 9th of April.
I remember someone telling me once, how time is so relevant, depending on our age.
That is a truth for sure. As a 10 year old, a month is so very long.
 As an adult, it really is just a blink of the eye.  

April is a good month. My beautiful sister has dominated it as her month, at least in my mind, my entire life. I associate it with flowers, raincoats and my sister, Karen.

Of course, 18 years ago, I started dating the cutest boy in the world in April. 15 years ago,  I married him. So, now April is also the beach and a barefoot wedding on a dock in Key West.
Ah, April, you lovely girl. Don't rush off and leave us too soon.
The list is constantly influx. I work on it and add and subtract from it daily.

April Update of "The List"

  1.  Cut the laziness out of our family's life:I took the passwords off my kids ipads and laptops for Netflix and Hulu. We cut cable months ago, still don't miss it. Delaney organized her closet in her free time. Ellie has been outside every second she can be, even in the rain, even in 40 degrees! We are working as a family on outside projects (Well...some of us.) Still find candy wrappers in beds and dishes in rooms, room for growth for sure.
  2. Stop cursing:  Ha ha ha....
  3. Drink more water. Got a fancy cup that I loved, filled it every time I emptied it, dropped and shattered it. Now back to Tervis and filling it up when I walk by. The habit is just about instilled.
  4. Be a better friend: I have gotten lazy in my friendships and my mental status shows it.  Still working on this. I feel like a turtle. However, my plan of calling people when I think about them has really started working.
  5. Put myself out there for God.Listening when he answers is the better task.
  6. Read  100 books. 11 down!
  7. Do a creative project a month.  Not a priority last month, but I am working on something.
  8. Exercise with a purpose. Gym 6 days this week. Boo YA!
  9. Teach my baby girl to cook. Muffins. She set the microwave on fire and then cooked a fork it in. Baby steps.
  10. Go back to school. Fall
  11. Finish our list of house projects. Working on taking up brick path and today, building a compost bin. List is so long.
  12. Organize my stuff.  Basement, closet, shoe closet, linen closet, top of Delaney's closet, office. ALL DONE!
  13. Stick to a financial plan to pay off all our debt by 2018. Boring, but working.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cooking: A recipe and the menu

Farewell, Lilly Pulitzer, you coolest of all housewives
Last week I thoughtlessly mentioned the delicious shrimp I made on Easter.
Then failed to share the recipe.
Poor you.

I mean this is one of the best uses for root beer outside the float. 
So, if you are having people over, or you are just craving some spicy sweet shrimp, these are the shrimp for you.

*Disclosure. I am NOT paid  to use or even acknowledged to be THE MOST loyal Alchemy spice user in Chattanooga. I know I speak of them often, but what can I say? A good product is a good product. Do yourself a favor, order some today. If  I come to stay at your house, I will bring you some as a thank you gift.
Casa Swann's No Shrimp This Week Menu
  • Grilled chicken, roasted broccoli, sweet potato home fries
  • Ground beef tacos/ black bean tacos (DALS recipe)
  • Crock pot lasagna/kitchen sink salad
  • Crustless quiche, some sort of soup 
Tanya's Root Beer  Jerk Shrimp
  • 2 lbs peeled and deveined shrimp (tails on)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 can real root beer (no corn syrup, that's nasty)
  • 1 tbl. Alchemy Spice "The Jerk" 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a sauce pan, saute onion in a small amount of olive oil until soft. Add seasoning and stir to mix, cooking until fragrant. Turn heat up to med-high and add soda, cook until it reduces to about half. (This takes awhile). When reduced to about half volume add shrimp. Shrimp cooks fast, so stir to coat and reduce heat to a high simmer. 

Once shrimp is cooked, adjust salt. Pepper generously, or to your taste (I like spicy). Remove from shrimp from pan  and if necessary, reduce remaining liquid until thick, almost like syrup (be careful, it quickly goes from almost done to scorched). Poor over shrimp and serve with LOTS of napkins. This is messy, but oh so worth it.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Instagra-Friday: Catch up

life rearranged

We had a busy week last week and have gotten back in the swing of things this week.
Last week, the girls were on spring break. We love spring break. 
There is no holiday rush, no company to entertain and sometimes the weather is nice.
This year, the weather was terrible. But we didn't really care. The girls had sleepover guests, we say Oz the Great and Powerful, slept in, cleaned out closets and just relaxed. 

Tuesday, our Crisp Girlfriends invited us to either go skating or bowling. The girls chose skating and they  had a blast. Our kids are the most gorgeous girls in town. Hands down.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cooking: We can solve it all

I have written before about how I think it is ridiculous that we are an obese society.
Monday, while I was clicking around on one of my favorite blogs, I found an old post that added another layer to my thinking about how cooking can fix our country's problem.

Gratituesday: My life

My husband knows all the right things to say.
Yesterday, he told me that he likes reading my blog because it makes him feel like we lead a really cool life. Also that he gets to make out with a smart girl.
Seriously, that is why I married him. He says stuff like that.

Monday, April 1, 2013