Friday, September 27, 2013

Birthday Recap

Wednesday morning I shared my attempt to embrace my new age- odd number and all. And going into school that morning, I was reminded of how sweet it is to be an elementary school teacher on your birthday (because, let's be honest, sometimes reminders of why you love what you do are necessary... or at least appreciated).

I have joked on here more than 17 times how I much I would love to be a stay-at-home wife who cooks and blogs for a living.

But really, I LOVE what I do. And not just because my sweet kiddos spoiled me rotten for the day. ;)

First, I walked in to this little package sitting on my chair. ;) Love my co-worker and sweet friend, Lynn! She filled it with cheese Pringles (I really wish I didn't love those so much), orange tic-tacs, tangerine-flavored gum, Reese's Pieces, and Reese's peanut butter cups. So cute!

One of my girls who I have taught for the past 3 years made me the sweetest card I think I have ever received from a student. She had me close to tears 5 minutes into the school day!

Clemson Bottle Cap Magnets from a store in downtown Roswell- too cute!

How pretty is this necklace from one of my girls?! Did she read my last Ten on the 10th post?!

Cards from my kids taped to my door...

One of my personal favorites... love the "maybe". 

Sweet Henry brought me the prettiest flowers!

Flowers and cupcakes (and too many papers!) on my desk

And as if the sweet cards and flowers and jewels were not enough, my kiddos brought in gift cards to Starbucks and Banana Republic! Do they know me, or do they know me?!

By the way, if you don't use the Starbucks app- you need to download it TODAY! You can load all of your gift cards onto the app and earn "stars" for each purchase. The stars add up to free drinks, plus you get a free drink on your birthday!

Later that day, I got the cutest text from my sis-in-law. She brought Jackson over to the house to play with "Tah-ye" while I was at school and had the "kids" make a little artwork for me. ;)

...and then left me Gigi's cupcakes!

That night, Matt and I used a Buckhead Life gift card that one of my kids from last year gave me and pretended like we were celebrities at Chops Lobster Bar. Okay, maybe we didn't pretend like we were celebrities, per say, but we were feelin quite fancy at the swanky swanky spot (yes I meant to type that twice- one swanky is not enough in this case).

And in non-celebrtiy fashion, I snuck a picture of the food. 
Because it was just.that.good.
We got french onion soup that was fab, ate every single piece of bread in the basket, and almost licked the plates of the surf and turf with a 12oz. filet, corn mash, macaroni and cheese, and creamed spinach. And it might have taken us close to 20 minutes to make those decisions with a few questions to the server before our menus were closed to show we were ready. ...A couple literally arrived 10 minutes after us and left before our main entrees arrived. Maybe we don't get out much.

We were supposed to hit up the Atlanta Sky View after dinner, but it was raining, so we'll have to save that for another night!

When we got home, Matt had his gifts waiting for me on the bed- wrapped in wedding paper. Which was awesome.

One thing I have always appreciated about him is that he is the sweetest card picker-outer, and he writes an even sweeter note on the inside. I'm a words-of-affirmation kinda girl so a sweet card is the best gift I can get!

He totally spoiled me this year with two things from my Ten of the 10th post: 
 Luke Bryan's Crash My Party CD

And then the last little box had an Apple TV inside! 
This is probably going to be an awful explanation, but it's kind of like a computer for your TV that has "apps" like what you would see on your phone. 
Hmmm, I think that was worse than I was imagining.
Basically, you get to play pandora, watch Netflix, stream pictures wirelessly (is that redundant?) from your computer to the TV and vice-versa.
Really, I just want to play my Pandora while I cook and not use the data from my phone to do it. And then we'll figure out the other cool things along the way. 

In other news...

Yesterday, I took the 5th grade boys to their "Growing Up Boys" class. 

It was an experience I would be okay with not repeating. I focused extra hard on the papers I was grading at many points during the lesson. There are certain words and phrases that shall go untyped here that I don't think I'll ever be mature enough to handle.

Today, we're heading to Blue Ridge for our 5th Grade Trip. We're leaving the school at 7am and will get back around 10:00 tonight. The kids are so excited!

Tomorrow, Matt and I are heading to the Ga State Fair. And while we're gone, our house will be painted! They started pressure washing yesterday and should be able to finish all of the painting by tomorrow. YAYAY!!!

TGIF. For real. 
Hope you have a good one!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I thought about calling this post "29 and feelin fine", but then thought it might be a little too cheesey- even for me.

Yep. Today marks my 29th birthday. Twenty-nine. Two...Nine. A year away from the big 3-0.

...I'm trying to get used to it.

I'm not really one for odd numbers. Or the number 29 for that matter. (Is anyone else funny about numbers, or is it just me?)

However, despite the misfortune of the number that will be my age for the next year, I am quite looking forward to the next 365 days.

I think 29 is going to be a great year. And here's why:

  • For starters, I got one of the funniest blog comments yesterday about this post that I may have ever received:

    • I'm not sure if it was the timing, the comment, or the fact that I was in the middle of enjoying a pre-birthday glass of wine as I read it, but I just cracked up. It is, by the way, quite true. If you have ever made any of my recipes, you know that sweet onions and garlic are in just about every one of them.
  • Last night, Matt walked in the door with these:
    • And I pretty much figure the whole year will be a sweet one when the birthday eve starts like that. ;)
  • Yesterday at school, my kids were asking me things like: "Mrs. Nelsen, I don't want to know for any reason, but what is your favorite kind of cake?", while other kids were "sneaking" birthday cards around the class for the kids to sign when they were working in centers. Then, at the end of the day, one of my kids asked for me to not look at the board until tomorrow and proceeded to draw a "Happy Birthday Mrs. Nelsen" mural on the white board that I tried very hard to avoid looking at as I walked out the door (or as she stood on a chair to put the finishing touches on her work of art). Kids are the best. 
  • This past Saturday, my friend Andrea (see comment above ;) ) brought Cinnabons to tennis and gave me four to take home. So my birthday celebration pretty much started then.

  • I received some sweet birthday cards in the mail from sweet family and then a package from my dad filled with two italian cook books and a DVD! Cannot WAIT to try out some new recipes and share them with you guys!
  • Tally gets his cone off on Friday! Sweet buddy has adjusted well, but mama's ready to give to guy a bath and not hear him move around in his crate all night.
  • Tonight, Matt and I are using one of our Buckhead Life gift cards (thank you sweet and generous parents of kids I teach!) to go to Chops Lobster Bar, and then we're heading to the new Skyview Atlanta that opened just a couple of months ago! ...It's like the London Eye of Atlanta. Speaking of, Matt and I actually got to go on the London Eye when we were in college- which is another story for another day for sure... but here's a throw-back pic for kicks:
    • Come to think of it, I could probably make an entire post about what we were wearing. It was apparently really cold. And hair cuts did make either one of our college budgets it seems.
  • Then on Saturday, we're going to the Georgia State Fair. Because turning 29 makes me suddenly want to pretend like I'm 17- which is the last time we went with just the two of us.  I'm not gonna lie- I'm pretty pumped about it. I don't have a picture from our first trip to the fair, but we looked something like this:

    •  or this:
          • Oh heavens- that second picture is a gem.
  • That night, we're celebrating with Matt's family. We're meeting at our house after the fair and heading to dinner somewhere in Buckhead.
  • And then on Sunday, after we celebrate KidStuff Pajama Jam (or pajoma jom, depending on how you pronounce it) with our 2nd graders in UpStreet, my family is coming over for lunch. My mom is making her Uh-maz-ing Brunswik Stew, Grilled Cheese sandwiches on white mountain bread, and carrot cake for dessert. But I'm excited about seeing my family too. ;)
  • More details to come on this, but we're heading to New York in December with Matt's sis and brother-in-law and just booked our tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular! Matt's never been to NYC, and I grew up growing, so I can't wait to show him the city- especially at Christmas! 
  • We've finally decided on a paint color for the house and are getting it painted THIS WEEK!!! By the way, thanks for your input on the colors! I'll share pictures of the finished product next week!

And just to prove that my go-to meals are really my go-to meals, Monday we had Chicken Divan, and last night we had spaghetti. ;) I'll be sharing my recipes for both next week!

Have a great day!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Go-To Meals

I'm not one to make a menu for the week and buy my groceries based on what I plan to make. Why? Because I like to feel inspired in the kitchen.

...Okay, really, I just like to cook whatever I'm craving around 5:30.

Which means, at any given time, our pantry usually looks like this:

It may seem a little excessive for two people. But I assure you it is all eaten. And no I did not organize my shelves for this picture. Labels-facing-forward is a 24/7, 365 days/year insanity of mine. Straight lines and front-facing labels make me happier than they should.

These are the items you will most likely always find in my pantry, fridge, or freezer:
  • Soups (Cream of Chicken, Mushroom, and Celery to be exact)
  • Rotel
  • Rice a Roni and Pasta Roni for sides
  • Pasta (duh)
  • Tuna
  • Canned Chicken
  • A jar of sauce if I don't have any of my homemade one frozen
  • Black Beans
  • Corn
  • Chicken Stock
  • Cream Cheese
  • Pillsbury french bread (which can double as a last-minute pizza crust or calzone dough)
  • Sour Cream
  • Shredded Cheese (usually cheddar, sometimes mozzarella)
  • Garlic
  • Sweet Onions or Shallots
  • Parmesan
  • Meats: Chicken breast, ground beef, pork tenderloin, tilapia, shrimp
  • Broccoli, broccoli, and more broccoli (plus carrots, green beans, and cauliflower)

Most of those items can be used to make as one of these go-to meals:

And when one of those items does not sound appetizing, or when I am running late from work, or when I just don't want to cook (yes, I love cooking, but no, I do not always want to do it)- Papa Johns Pizza (half cheese for me, half pepperoni for Matt) or Publix rotisserie chicken with a side of their steam-in-bag broccoli and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese fills the what-do-I-cook-for-dinner void. Yes. I cook Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. This one or this one to be exact. 

So maybe I'll become a meal planner one day, but for now, I'll stick to my overloaded (and over-organized) pantry and fridge so that I can have all kinds of options for what to make. :)

So what works for you? Are you a meal planner or impromptu-cooker? Have any go-to meals I need to add to my rotation?! 

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Peach Balsamic Pizza

Last week, Matt was in Chicago for work for three nights, so my mom came to stay with me and Tally. Matt never travels for work- as in, this is the first time he's done it in the almost six years we've been married- and I am so thankful he doesn't! I missed him for those three days! But it was super fun to have my mom here.

Since we both love to cook (and eat), we decided to stay in both nights and cook up some tasty meals for ourselves. The first night, we had Sour Cream Chicken and rigatoni with homemade vodka sauce.

The second night, we made this pizza deliciousness that has become a staple meal for our girls' nights in.

I realize peaches are on their way out of season, so grab a couple from the grocery store this week and make this at least once before they're gone! And then save this recipe for next year- you will LOVE it! Promise. :)

Peach Balsamic Pizza

1/2 sweet onion, chiffonade
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag fresh pizza dough
1 1/2-2 peaches, sliced
8oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
15 basil leaves, chiffonade
2oz honey goat cheese, crumbled
balsamic glaze

Allow dough to sit at room temperature for at least one hour. Lightly flour pizza stone and roll out dough to desired thickness. Saute garlic and onions in EVOO for 5-7 minutes. While onions are sauteing, cut peaches, mozzarella, and basil. Layer onion mixture, crumbled goat cheese, peaches, basil, and mozzarella onto pizza dough. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Bake on 400 for 16-20 minutes.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Exterior House Colors 411 + WINNERS!

We've been doing some work on the front of the house (all of which will be shared on here once it is finished!), and are now trying to decide which colors to go with for the exterior. The painters were supposed to start on Saturday, but we decided we needed more time to choose the right color. I'm usually pretty impulsive efficient with these types of decisions, but I'm really having a hard time with this one!

I've been looking on for inspiration and have found some looks that I definitely like. By the way, if you have never used for house renovation ideas, it is amazing! It's like Pinterest specifically for house ideas- people take pictures of their renovations and share all of the details about what went into the new look, including the companies, colors, and materials used for the job. You can even ask questions about anything you see if the picture and the person who posted the picture will respond. Very cool! 

SO, here are some paint colors I'm liking from Houzz:

The other website we've been using is the Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer. It lets you upload a picture of your home and drag and drop different colors onto the siding and shutters. Here are some of the combinations we've created:

Siding = Gris 7659
Shutters = Cyberspace 7076

Door option (not sure if we want the door to be different or not) = Riverway 6222

Siding = Jubilee 62486
Shutters = Inkwell 6992

Siding = Copen Blue 0068 (from the first Houzz picture)
Shutters = Roycroft Pewter 2848

Siding = Rainwashed 6211 (from the second Houzz picture)
Shutters = Roycroft Pewter 2848 

Obviously, this is not our house... I used the Colonial template so that I could see a house with shutters and a portico (one of the new additions on the front of our house! ...more to come on this when I post the finished look of the front).

We're liking the gray family of colors, with a lighter bluish/greenish house color and darker gray shutters. Which is a completely different looks from the colors of our house now:
This picture was taken before our "When poo hits the fan... or in our case, the lawn" disaster from a couple of years ago that turned our front yard into this:

Since then, we've been trying to re-beautify the front. The house color doesn't look too shabby in these pictures, but up close, it definitely needs a lift! Especially after pulling out all of the plants along the house and building the portico.

We're hoping to start the painting in the next week or so. If you guys have any paint colors you've used in the past and love, we would love to hear them! They don't necessarily have to match the look we're going with either- we're open to something different! You can either email me at or leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

And now, the winners of the Pampered Chef giveaway!!!

Winners were drawn using, and two names were drawn twice! 

Anna, you're name was selected once for the classic batter bowl and once for the cobalt mix-n-scraper!

AnnaZed, your name was drawn once for the mini serving spatula and once for the square baker!

Congratulations!! Email your shipping address to me at so we can send you your gifts!