Saturday, August 31


It's that time again, DATE NIGHT! Are you ready? Even though you can't see me - my arm is raised HIGH!! Whether you're looking for a way to celebrate a blessedly free weekend from the kids or an idea for an inventive first date, I assembled a list of  top notch 'date night' ideas to help spice up your relationship. If it's precious time you're wanting to spend with your loved one look no further. As I was searching for ways that Mr.P and I could break free from the mundane dinner-and-a-movie rut, my list took on a life of it's own. I gladly share my list with you. I'll post two to three ideas every week over the next several months. Hope you find something here that sparks your fire! Here is Week 1Week 2 & Week 3 in case you missed them....enjoy.

Rooftop Dining   
If you can't go out, go UP! Up on the roof that is, for a bit of romantic rooftop dining. I LOVE this idea. I'm a city gal and seeing the sunset over my hometown - Dallas - and the lights of the city brightening a rooftop dinner is my idea of a romance. Imagine the entire city at your feet, a relaxing rooftop picnic, it truly is a visual feast. Make it romantic by setting up lights or candles, pillows, cushions and dinner—your very own romantic rooftop fort.  After the sun goes down lie back and try to point out as many constellations as you can. Make your very own playlist for the occasion. It's the perfect setting for a kiss and a cuddle - the scenery will be worth it at the very least! 

Gourmet Picnics, Local Products
Your date is one in a million, and they deserve more than any old picnic. You wouldn't settle for your sweetie, so why settle for egg salad when you could have so much more? With enticing fresh markets popping up everywhere, try some locally grown or gourmet products to make your picnic that much more special. Go for goat cheese instead of cream cheese, juicy Texas peaches instead apples from the grocers, arugula instead of lettuce. You get the idea.

Create your own "drive-in" experience. 
If you have a laptop with a DVD drive, take it out with you. Rent or download a movie you never got around to seeing, order something simple at a cafe or bistro, find a love seat to cuddle up in, and watch. Netflix's most popular DVD rental plan now lets users access movies (up to 18 hours' worth a month) from its "Instant Watching" library of 1,000 films, which can be zapped straight to a PC in seconds. Another option: Take your movie with you on your gourmet picnic! So fun!

This extra tip is from a valued reader, it's a great idea!
Our favorite date night is to do a "junk night." Most of the time, all the food we eat is from scratch and we're busy reading and living and all that. Once in awhile, though, we just buy junk food or frozen Chinese food or something and watch silly movies and play games. 
Take advantage of the great 
weather this week and get out there and date!



Mr.P, The Man in The Moon & Me...that's all I need!

Friday, August 30

The Walking Tacos & Texas High School Football

It's no secret that Fall in Texas revolves around Friday nights and Texas high school football. It's HUGE really, Texans are true football fanatics and it can unite a town like few things can. Gone are the days in our household when Friday nights revolved around our children and their involvement with the high school football games. We spent 10 wonderful years watching our children and cheering our local team to victories. 10 years of hectic Friday afternoons that quickly turned into fast-paced evenings without so much as a nibble. What's an already overloaded Mom to do when it comes to feeding her on-the-go family? For me, I learned to plan ahead, cook quickly and as early in the day as I could. We had NO time for a sit down dinner, it was grab and go - and quite frankly we were lucky if we had time for that! The Walking Tacos are possibly my family's favorite on the run meal. After I cook the taco meat I stir in a can of black or pinto beans and keep it warm and waiting in my slow cooker. I serve it up buffet style on the kitchen counter and it could not be any easier. The kids can assemble their tacos quickly and get out the door and I'm left with a great feeling knowing my kids won't be starving during the 4th quarter! Because in Texas, the game ain't over until the last note of the school song has been played! 
This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to fit your specific needs.
MAKES 6-8 

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package Taco Seasoning Mix, I use Old El Paso
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6-8 snack sized bags of Fritos or Doritos
  • An Assortment of Your Favorite Taco Toppings:
  • Black Beans
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • Tomato, diced
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa and/or Pico de Gallo
  • Guacamole
  • Onion, chopped

  • Brown beef and drain the fat. 
  • Add the taco seasoning mix along with 1/2 cup of water and simmer on low until water is absorbed. 
  • If not serving immediately, keep warm in a slow cooker.
  • Spoon taco meat over chips in the bag and add your favorite taco toppings. 
  • Add a plastic fork and you're ready to go!
I hope you all have a wonderful Friday evening 
and may your school's team be victorious!


Thursday, August 29

Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Amidst the clutter of our lives, Mr.P and I have never been disciplined enough to set a regular 'date night', at least not consistently. Eating out has not been a huge part of our lives. However when we do eat out, living in Texas, most likely we end up in a Tex-Mex restaurant. Texas is home to some of the finest Mexican food restaurants in the nation, and we do LOVE our chips and salsa - we eat as much as we can as often as we can! A couple of weeks ago when we were moving our daughter into her dorm, we took a break and went for lunch. She wanted to eat at Red Lobster, they were having an all-you-can-eat shrimp festival and she IS a fish at heart. It's been a long time since we had been in a Red Lobster and I had forgotten just how WONDERFUL the cheddar biscuits were. So warm and light and airy, they were simply scrumptious. We ate more than our share, but in our defense it was quite frankly hard to stop. After returning home - and when my tears had dried from leaving our youngest on her own - I began hunting for a recipe to bake my own delightful biscuits. Here's what I found.....


Makes One Dozen
  • 2 1/2 cups Bisquick
  • 4 Tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
Butter Glaze:
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease or line one cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  • Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a fork. Don't worry about mixing too thoroughly; there will be small chunks of butter in the mix about the size of peas. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and garlic powder. Mix by hand until combined, but don't over mix.
  • Drop 1/4 cup portions of the dough onto the lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes in preheated oven or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.
  • While the biscuits are baking, melt the butter. Stir in garlic powder and dried parsley flakes.
  • After biscuits have come out of the oven, use a brush to spread the garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Sprinkle a little kosher salt on the freshly coated biscuits. 
These biscuits are so easy to make and are a wonderful addition to any meal. 


Recipe Source: LettucePray

Wednesday, August 28


Paris, Je T'aime !Paris is a relatively safe city, as cities go, and recently, I was having a discussion with someone about places to be wary about traveling to and was told that the only place in the world that they felt unsafe was Dallas, my hometown! I, on the other hand, feel perfectly safe here in my own backyard, but anything can happen anywhere in the world and petty crime sometimes occurs in places where you least expect it, like museums, hotel lobbies, restaurants and public transportation. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. Other times, it’s a lapse of common sense and judgement on our parts. For example, if you wear fancy jewels or tote a pricey handbag on the métro, there is probably someone riding with you that loves your gold Rolex as much as you do. On public transit, it’s especially easy to “grab and go” things because once the doors shut and the train pulls away, the damage is done. They're French my friends, not stupid - and yes there is a difference. If you advertise your wares, they are going to take you up on your offer. If that does happen to you, notify the driver at the next station; sometimes they will call security for you and alert others on the train to be careful. In cases where your wallet is stolen, thieves will sometimes remove the cash right away and toss everything else in the trash, or even on the ground, as it’s hard to prove that a wad of cash is stolen. So you might get lucky and get your wallet back. Wily pickpockets blend in well. It’s easy to categorize people by how they dress or look, or their nationality, but pros know how to mix in. Some pose as young couples on their honeymoon, young women "tourists", looking lost as they "try" to read their maps - using the maps to cover up their hands as they rifled through people’s belonging, mother's with babies, even men with young children. 

Tourists often feel timid about raising a stink in public. But if you feel you are in a "situation", don’t be afraid to be pro-active; in spite of their reputation, Parisians are very helpful and they hate scams and petty thieves too, and will often come to your aid. However if you feel in danger, it’s best to give up your wallet or whatever, to avoid things escalating. If you are a victim of a crime, you can file a police complaint online, but it’s probably better to go to the police yourself, especially if you need a police report to file an insurance claim back home. The likelihood of you being held up by gunpoint is slim, but pickpockets - well that's a totally different story. We have been very fortunate, in all of our travels, not to have been victims of crime. Earlier this Summer, as we were traveling in Europe, we found the pickpockets and schemers to be working it hard in Paris. These are some of ways we were approached.
Lost & Found Ring
This is a common ruse in tourists areas, like around the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the bridges that cross the Seine as well as in places like the Place de l’Opéra and Madeleine. Someone walking in front of you will "find" a gold ring on the ground and pick it up, with a look of surprise. They will show it to you, ask if it’s yours, then after marveling at what a valuable piece of jewelry they found, they will offer to let you buy it from them for a great price. The ring is cheap brass – just walk away. OR, they will ask you, as they point to a ring on the ground, "Did you lose your wedding ring?" As you bend over intrigued, they are trying to lift your purse or wallet.

Crowded métros and buses are places to be alert. We had a few rides where we were packed in tight. I made sure my purse was in front of me with my hand resting on top, which is usually how I walk around while traveling. Be careful of people following you through the turnstiles. It’s a popular way for people to avoid paying the fare. But also, for some, as they push through, squeezing in behind you, they are lifting your wallet. If you see someone getting ready to lunge behind you,  stop, pretend that you forgot something, and stand there for a moment. They will quickly move on to someone else. You’ll notice that Parisian speak softly on public transit. Speaking loudly quickly identifies you as someone who is not a local and may be in unfamiliar territory. Cameras hanging from your neck easily mark you as someone with something to lose. If the métro is packed when it shows up and you have valuables, you might want to wait for the next one. No need to be paranoid, just be extra aware and pay close attention to what's happening around you. Even though Paris public transit is fairly safe at night, if you are in an unfamiliar neighborhood and there aren’t a lot of people around, you might want to ask the restaurant to call a taxi for you.

Recently the Louvre security guards went on strike because there were so many pickpockets and petty thieves patrolling the museum - and because children get in free, many of those are kids. Everyone is looking at art and not concentrating on their personal belonging. So be especially aware while at the Louvre and if you someone is standing too close to you, move away. If shopping in the gift shop or buying a snack, be aware when you remove your wallet and put it away.

Sadly, in today's world, if you are travelling abroad and someone asks you "Do you speak English", they are wanting you to read their papers, while another might be checking out your pockets, purse or backpack. In some instances, there are teams of young girls and boys with clipboards, clamoring for you to sign something or donate money. Often they are for organizations that claim to assist the blind or deaf. As the City of Paris advises, "Although they may seem to be acting on behalf of reputed associations and foundations, they are not. Their only aim is to get money from you, which will never be transferred to these organizations but instead used to fund illegal organization and underground networks." While we were in Paris we were hit HARD with this scam, 10 to 15 times a day. They were relentless. After our first day of that, we began pretending not to speak English. When asked we just put up our hand and kept on walking with no trouble.

Thieves scope out some ATM machines and have lightning-fast fingers. So once you enter your code, they will rush by, shove you aside, and hit the buttons for the highest amount of cash and run off with it. The way to avoid this is to use ATMs that are located inside banks whenever possible, during business hours. Or go with a friend and have them stand near you while you get cash out.

Open Purses
In restaurants, do not leave purses on the floor, hanging from the back of your chair, or on the seat next to you. One ruse is that a customer will come in, without a reservation, and slide in next to you. They’ll scope out the menu, then suddenly decide they’re not interested in eating there and leave - taking your wallet with them. Another ruse they use is to “stumble” when walking by a table, using that as a chance to rifle through a purse left on the floor. They brush themselves off, assuring you they are "Okay" – and keep on walking. Unfortunately, on occasion they will take a wallet or an entire purse. I ALWAYS keep my purse strap over my head and across my chest while I rest my hand on top. I don't have to worry or even think about my purse because I'm touching it all of the time.

The RER train from the airport is fast and cheap. It’s also full of jet-lagged people, bleary from a long flight. If you take the RER  train from the airport, do not leave your luggage next to the door; thieves are brazen enough to reach in just as the doors are closing and grab a suitcase. 

I know it may sound tiring and not worth the headache of traveling to new places, but don't stay home because there is evil in the world. Be vigilant and mindful of your surroundings and you will be successful in your travels. Take your children and teach them NOT to be afraid of the'll be glad ya did!


Photo Source: Flickeriver

Tuesday, August 27

Zucchini Stuffed Chicken Breast

You can never have too many recipes for chicken. Nowadays most of us buy chicken breast that are skinned and boned in a large economy sized bag. It's convenient, easy and cooks quickly. This is NOT one of those recipes. Sorry. I'll post some of those recipes on another day. This recipe calls for chicken breasts that still have the bone intact and skin attached. It is not as quick to prepare and cook as it's counterpart, but worth every minute you spend in the kitchen. It's a great go-to recipe when you are having company, celebrating a special day or a quiet even at home for two!
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 medium zucchini, shredded with a grater
  • 3 slices white bread, set out and dry, tear into course crumbs
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup Swiss or Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 4 chicken breast, with bone and skin attached
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large non-stick skillet melt butter over medium heat. 
  • Add onion, parsley and basil; saute until onion is tender. 
  • Add zucchini and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat; stir in cheese, bread crumbs, egg, salt and pepper. Mix evenly. 
  • Loosen skin of the chicken breast on one side, forming a pocket. 
  • Divide stuffing 4 ways and place under skin; making sure your zucchini is covered completely with the skin. Place in a shallow baking dish - I cover my dish with non-stick foil for easy clean up. 
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until juices run clear. 
The beauty of this simple, yet delicious chicken recipe is that it can be doubled or halved to feed as many or as few. I have made it for as many as 16 and on occasion just for two. These chicken breasts are so large (we are conditioned to the frozen boneless-skinless chicken breasts) that Greg and I share one breast. I go ahead and make the stuffing for two and cook the rest on the side - it is SO GOOD, I can't even tell you how wonderful it is! This stuffing is so versatile that it can be used to stuff a full bird. Personally, I do not cook stuffing in the cavity of poultry -not even on Thanksgiving. However, I would place this stuffing under the skin of a full bird. 

I serve this stuffed chicken with a very large salad and Texas tea, it makes a fantastic meal. Don't tell your kids it has zucchini in the stuffing and they will love it! 

Monday, August 26


When the alarm goes off and you want to pull the covers over your head, the last thing most of us want to think about is what to send in our children's lunchboxes. Some days are easier than others, like leftovers from the night before. Then there are the days when you feel like you are packing the same things over and over again. At some point you may begin to stare into the pantry and the refrigerator and strain to think of lunch possibilities. If you find yourself standing at the grocery store and decide that lunch-ables are a good idea, the time has arrived to sit down and make a creative lunchbox menu list. 

In case you need a little inspiration on what to pack in your kids’ lunchboxes as they head back to school, here are a few fun lunchbox ideas to get you going. 

  • Apple or Raisin cinnamon bread spread with either cream cheese or peanut butter, serve with veggies and fruit.
  • Fruit Skewers - Make lunch fun by sticking it on a skewer. A great way to use up odds and ends at the end of the week. Add cubed chicken, ham or cheese for protein.
  • Pizza Rolls - Tortilla, thinly sliced Cheddar cheese, and large Pepperoni slices rolled up and sliced into pinwheels, serve with fruit.
  • Smoothies - Freeze homemade smoothies on the weekend. Pack them frozen in an insulated lunchbox with an ice pack. They will thaw to the right consistency for stirring and slurping by lunchtime. YUM!
  • PB&J Sushi, serve with fruit and goldfish.
  • Yogurt - Keep them in the freezer and pack them in lunches. They will help keep kids lunches cooler and will be thawed out in time for lunch. Serve with veggies and pretzels.
  • Banana or Zucchini Bread Sandwiches - Spread with cream cheese, serve with yogurt and fruit.
  • Ham or Turkey, Swiss or Cheddar cheese and Butter Crackers, serve with fruit and yogurt covered raisins.
  • Ham and Cheddar Cheese Sliders - Ham and Cheese on small rolls, serve with grapes and goldfish.
  • Easy Quesadillas - Shredded cheese and left-over Rotisserie Chicken microwaved in a tortilla, serve with salsa, fruit and veggies.
  • Stuffed Pita with salad, Turkey and Cheese, serve with yogurt and raisins.
  • Hot Ham & Cheese - English muffin topped with Ham, Turkey and Swiss Cheese, serve with veggies and chips.
  • Picky Eater Nibbles - Goldfish crackers, Raisins, Cheddar cheese stick cubed, fruit, rolled deli meat, carrot sticks, etc.
  • Mini Pizza - Bagel topped with Marinara sauce, Mozzarella and Pepperoni for homemade pizzas, serve with veggies and fruit.
  • Pinwheels - Deli Turkey and Swiss cheese Roll-ups, serve with carrots and fruit.

I raised two children and here is the one important lesson I learned after packing 18 years of lunches: GET YOUR CHILDREN'S INPUT! As mom's we want our children to eat a healthy lunch to fuel their bodies and minds. However, your good intentions may reap a hungry child. If they don't like what you pack in their lunches THEY WILL NOT EAT - IT'S THAT SIMPLE. I wish it weren't that way, so be careful to choose when to fight that battle. Dinner is a more appropriate time to take up the battle of eating veggies and trying new foods. 

Do yourself a favor, sit down and make a list of menus that fit the particular needs of your children. It will save you time, effort and undue stress during the school week and in the long'll be glad ya did!


These little eggs filled with finger foods are so cute. If you've got time to accomplish this on a are wonderfully and uniquely blessed!

Saturday, August 24

The Best Lunch Boxes for Kids

All too soon this will be the scene in our local school lunchrooms around the country. Hungry kids ready for a break in their day to visit with friends and eat a good lunch while refueling their bodies and minds. When it comes to packing a healthy lunch for your child, it isn't just about the food, but also about making sure it stays at a safe temperature. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute tested 26 lunch boxes and bags. These four kept food at the recommended 40 degrees or lower for two hours or longer. The bags also scored well in usability — they're easy to open and close, pack, carry, and clean — and their style is kid-friendly.

L.L.Bean's Flip-Top Lunchbox kept food cold for nearly 4 hours and has multiple compartments. This versatile, durable lunch box is designed with a flip-top storage lid to hold drinks, insulated containers or snacks. Updated construction improves insulation properties to keep food and drink cold until lunch. Find it at L.L.Bean for $24.95.

The Thermos Camo Chick Novelty Kit has cute purse styling for the elementary set. Made from 100% PVC free with PEVA linings and superior closed-cell polyethylene foam insulation that keeps food fresh longer. It has a comfortable, padded carrying handle and is extremely durable and easy to clean. Find it at Thermos for $9.99.

The Spicy Relish Lunch Tote was a close second in cooling and is a chic choice in cool neoprene for choosy teenagers. It comes with a removable shoulder strap and an assorted selection of prints. Find it at Built for $29.99.

The stylish and sturdy Fleurville Lunch Pak has backpack straps and many compartments for treks to school or weekend adventures. This well-constructed bag is made with closed-cell insulation keeping their lunch cold throughout the day. It comes in many prints making even the pickiest of kids happy! Find it at Kaboodle for $31.95.

Take care to pack your children's lunches in a lunchbox that 
will keep their food safe and tasting'll be glad ya did!


Friday, August 23

Ideas & Inspiration: Back To School Party

Summer has flown by and it's time to start thinking about back to school ideas for everyone! Some of you out there will be throwing Back-To-School parties in the next couple of weeks. Yes, I'm late as usual - never one for jumping the gun! So here are a bunch of Back-To-School ideas with links attached for your next party. Hope you find great inspiration and have a wonderful school year!
  Back to School Party by Duke and Duchess


Cupcake Toppers by Lynlee’s Petite Cakes

“Apple” Pies 

If you didn't find you're inspiration here ~ Google it, 
there are hundreds of ideas on the internet. Happy Hunting!