My Dad turns 60

Growing up, and even in the recent past, my mom has told me, “You are just like your Dad….”

Man, what a compliment.

My Dad is one of my heroes.  It’s no secret that I adore him.  I’m proud of his accomplishments throughout his career, but I’m even more proud of the man he is personally.  Here’s a few things that I love about him:

He takes things as they come.  He has more patience than any person I have ever met….even Garen and that’s saying a lot.  He’s generous and truly believes in doing what’s right, even if it’s not the popular thing to do.  He’s got faith in what he believes in, even when others around him may doubt.  He loves my mom, his soulmate, with all his heart.  He taught me to get up early and to become a lover of all things breakfast-related.  He treats everyone with respect….and I truly mean everyone.  He can and will talk to anyone.  He is so very smart but also has common sense, which doesn’t always come packaged.  He loves a great debate.  He is passionate about whatever he sets his mind to.  He is a perfectionist and he goes further than measuring twice to cut once.  He can rock a sweater or turtleneck like nobody else I know.  He always wants to find better, more efficient ways to do things.  When he gets on a kick- whether it’s making bread, buying classic wool shirts on Ebay, or designing a custom anchoring system- he focuses in and perfects each process.  He admits when he’s wrong, quickly apologizes, and, on the flip side, also forgives quickly.  I believe him when he says he can fix anything but a broken heart.  And he can build just about anything too.  He believes in good shoes.  He’s an Eagle Scout.  He loves to read, listen to books, go to classes, and is a true life-long learner.  He is not afraid of change.  He’s hilarious and can find a way to make almost anyone laugh….or at least shake their head and grin.  He is an excellent friend to many.  And he truly is an amazing father and now also a wonderful YaYa to five grandkids and four grand-fur-babies, plus a grand-cat.

I could go on and on.  Really.

I’m sure, if you know him, you’d be able to add a few things too.

If you’re reading this, Happy 60th Birthday, Dad.  I hope you know how much I love you and how proud I am to be your daughter, employee, & friend.  I’m so glad for my kids to get to call you YaYa.  

To everyone else– enjoy the photos.  There’s nothing like looking at old photos to provide a bit of entertainment.  Genes run strong in our family, both on the Odom (Dad) and Bottlinger (Mom) sides, right?!?  Most of these photos were from the slideshow that Joe put together for Dad’s 50th surprise party that we pulled off, plus a few since then.  Yes, Mom, that means that I have found the video.  Hallelujah!

The above photo is from Mom and Dad’s 60th Birthday trip.  They climbed Machu Picchu.  Yes, I know they’re awesome!

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Thanks also to Joe for putting the man hours into getting these photos together.

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Mommy Review Monday: Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

I love my Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan. I bought my first one about 10 years ago from Sam’s Club. In the last year or two it hasn’t been sitting evenly on my stove-top. I believe, between Garen and I, one of us probably washed it before it was completely cool, causing it to warp. Easy mistake and it wasn’t a huge deal but I planned to replace it and just kept forgetting every time I went to Sam’s.

Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

My birthday came along and Garen gave me a new one. Yea! I kept the old one in case I need a second one to cook two things at once. We even named the new one.

Peter. Peter Pan.

Garen gets the credit for that little piece of humor.

Likes:

  • Price. At $26.98, if it only lasts a couple of years that’s still awesome.
  • Non-stick. It is super easy to clean. That’s a must in our house.
  • Dishwasher safe. It barely fits into the bottom rack but it does. Most times we just wash it by hand though because it’s so easy to clean. It’s always nice to have the option to be a little on the lazy side though.
  • Size. At 14″, it’s big enough to cook a nice one-pot dish or about 3-4 pancakes at a time. That’s important when you’ve got lots of mouths to feed.
  • Cooks well. I should start by saying that I’m not a chef. However, for the dishes I make it seems to cook pretty well. Especially for the price.  If you’re a chef, this may not be the quality you want but it works great for me, as an amateur on a budget.
  • Long life. Despite us warping it, it has held up well. I am pretty good about not using metal utensils with it so that does help. I would imagine it’ll last another 10+ years if we take care of it.

What I would change:

  • An Additional Handle.  I’d add another handle. It’s pretty heavy to handle if you need to move it when it’s fully loaded.  Imagine draining meat.  I can do it with one hand but it’s a job.  Thankfully I’m always lugging around one (or more) toddlers and have forearms of steel!
  • Ovenproof. I wish it could be put in the oven. It is what it is. You can’t have you’re non-stick skillet and bake it too….or at least not in this price point.
  • Add a Lid. I wish it had a lid. Again, I could probably pay more and purchase one that came with a lid or potentially find one that would fit right. When I need one now, using foil works pretty well for a poor man’s lid.

Member_s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

This may be one of my next kitchen purchases: Tramontina 3-Piece Deep Sauté Pan Set (Assorted Colors).  It seems to do everything that I listed as “likes” above and then all of the things I wish it also had.  Plus, it comes in red, which is awesome!!!

In the meantime, I still love my big commercial kitchen frying pan and my sweet hubby for giving me Peter Pan!  What’s your favorite stove-top pan?  I’d love for you to share!

You gonna eat yo cornbread??? Best. Cornbread. Ever.

Every time I cook cornbread, Garen and I have a little giggle over the quote “You gonna eat yo cornbead?” from the movie “Life” with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence.

Yes, I am ALWAYS going to eat my cornbread.  Every. Time.

Especially if it’s the sweet kind.  I found this wonderfully tasty and easy recipe a while back from Kimber’s blog, The Pinning Mamma, which is fantastic and definetly worth checking out.  The recipe is suitably called Kimber’s Favorite Cornbread.  If you like a sweeter, more moist cornbread, you will LOVE this recipe.  Did I mention it pretty inexpensive too???  The Jiffy boxes are always cheap.  Plus, who can resist using those cute, classic boxes?!?

I’m one of those people that will often times alter a recipe to make it my own.  This one, though, I didn’t because I feel like it’s perfect just the way it is. I did choose to make muffins vs using a pan/dish.  This saved me a few minutes AND it’s easier for serving I think.  Here you go:

Kimber’s Favorite Cornbread

Ingredients 

  • 2 Boxes Jiffy Cornbread
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Can Creamed Corn
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all ingredients until combined (I always use my KitchenAid because that’s just what I prefer)
  • Scrape mixture into an 8 x 8 or 2.2qt- 2L (small rectangular Pyrex) glass baking dish that has been sprayed well with cooking spray.  I used my muffin pan.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes or until center is just done.  In my muffin pan, I baked them to 18 minutes but I would say probably 13-20 minutes would be the window, depending on your type of muffin pan.  Mine is a thick non-stick.

There you have it:  Cornbread that will make any dish just a little bit better.  Enjoy!

We ate ours this week with Brunswick Stew- Instant Pot Style and Instant Pot Black Beans.  They didn’t last long.  Yummy!

Photo Friday: Will’s Spooktacular Costume Birthday Party

A few weeks ago we had Will’s VERY belated birthday party. His birthday is always the first week of school, meaning there’s really not enough time to invite any of his classmates besides the ones we already had addresses or parents’ phone numbers.

As we got closer and closer to Halloween, we all settled on having a Costume Party. It was fun and REALLY crazy!

Here was his Spooktacular invitation by Holly at Denleys Design Shop on Etsy. She did a great job, don’t you think? She was super fast at getting it to me and priced very reasonably!

Spooktacular Birthday Bash Costume Party Invitation

Spooktacular Birthday Bash Costume Party Invitation

Obviously, my I tried to plan a few games to keep the boys entertained. I think the easiest and most exciting game was the donut eating contest. We also did the spider throwing contest, glow ring toss, and the pumpkin racing contest….none of which I recommend for 3rd graders. They didn’t keep their attention long enough. But, hey, I tried. I get points for that, right?!?

Donut Game NinjaDonut Game WinnerDonut Game Full MouthDonut Game Cleopatra and Sleeping BeautyDonut Game MomEveryone had a great time I️ think…even Mammy (my mom) enjoyed the fun!

Garen didn’t get as many photos as I had hoped due to our little monsters (Clara and Kate) running around as well. I think the ones he got turned out good though.

Halloween Snacks Brain Cream Cheese Mold

I did try to do some spooky food. Can you tell that’s a brain??? I️t was super easy. Cream cheese and red pepper jelly molded into a brain mold from the Dollar Tree.

We had a great time but, like after all kid parties I’ve had at our house, I’m now pondering where we want to have it next year that I can just show up with cupcakes.

Happy Photo Friday!

Mommy Review Monday: ezpz Happy Mat – One-piece silicone placemat + plate

DISCLOSURE: Due to the recent iPhone update my i’s are now malfunctioning. I️ am NOT going back through to fix. I’m too frustrated. Sorry folks.

It’s borderline Migraine Monday instead of Mommy Review Monday so this will be a sort one today so I can get off to bed. I should apologize to those who get actual migraines because I️ realize my headache isn’t really a migraine since I️ can manage to look at the screen.

I’ll thank the black beans all over the floor and the screaming toddlers for the tension headache. With that said, I’ll move onto our review of the day, the ezpz Happy Mat, without which there would’ve been many more beans on the floor.

Pros:

  • Cost. $24.99 may seem like a lot but if you use I️t every meal, I️t pays for itself pretty quickly.
  • Hardiness. It’s made of silicone so you know it’s tough. And unlike your friends’ fake boobs, these don’t have to be hand-washed. You can stick them in the lower rack of your dishwasher time after time.
  • Dividers. Since so many kids are funny about not mixing foods, this is a great feature.
  • Protection. The full placemats give your table the armor it needs against banging silverware and/or sippy cups.
  • Stay-put-ness. I️ realize that’s a made up word but you get the point. No pates thrown across the room. As I️ said earlier, had we served black beans on a regular plate, they would’ve been everywhere. This plate-mat stayed in place throughout Clara’s mid-dinner temper tantrum.

Cons

  • Fit on High Chair Trays. They don’t fit on high chair trays. I️ know that’s not really what they’re made for so I️ really have a hard time declaring that a con but I️ do want to make sure no one assumes they’ll work that way. They do make a smaller version, the Mini Mat but it still may or may not work on your high chair tray.
  • Only Stick on Hard, Level Surfaces. Again, this seems common sense but they don’t stick or suction themselves down to fabric tablecloths or very unlevel surface. They’re still nice to use to protect your nice fabric tablecloth but there is the chance they could still move. We used a nylon table cloth at Halloween though and it still worked pretty well.

All together, these Happy Mats are what the brand name explains, ezpz. They’re a great gift idea, especially paired with these bibs. I’d buy another. In fact, I may buy another set for when one set is dirty. I’m not sure if that’s lazy or smart.

Happy Monday!!!

Tips for First Haircuts for Two Year Old Twins

Yesterday Clara and Kate got their first hair cut. As you can see below, their hair is quite different. Clara’s is brown, longer, has a hint of curl, and is a bit thinner. Kate’s is blondish, shorter, straight as a board, and a little thicker.

We needed to clean up Kate’s mullet (for a good laugh listen to The Ballet of Eddie Mullet) and Clara’s stringy-ness. So off to the mall we went since I trust the team at Regis with their hair. I honestly didn’t plan this more than a day out because I knew I’d find an excuse to not do it. Just call me the queen of procrastination.

Garen was out of town so I was going at it alone. Every once in a while I get the urge to do things with them like this by myself just to prove to myself that I’m capable. Sad? Maybe…

But I did get a few tips to share out of the experience for first haircuts with twins at two years old. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Go somewhere they know you. This may sound trivial but the whole team at Regis knows me and my family, so they welcomed them in, which made the girls feel special. It did cost more than I typically would want to spend on a kids haircut but it’s better than having a freaked out kiddo.
  • See if they’ll give you a free chair for one of the girls to sit in and watch close by while the other gets her hair done.
  • Let them observe someone else getting their hair cut first so they can know what to expect.
  • Get them excited about it before you go.
  • Take toys like a drawing pad and little stuffed animals. We let the girls take their backpacks that have a couple of diapers and wipes each, small Sesame Street characters, and a chalkboard set from Aunt Haley, plus a snack catcher of Cheerios. Of that, I’d reconsider the Cheerios, which ended up going everywhere at some point. I’d probably do pretzels or veggie sticks.
  • Let them hold a comb or spray water bottle. This worked well to keep them occupied during the actual haircuts.
  • When the hairdresser needs them to look down to get the back of their hair, tell them to look at their belly button.
  • Make sure they’re high enough to see the mirror. They like to watch themselves.
  • Decide ahead of time if you want to keep a lock of their hair or not. If so, bring something to keep them in separately and label them ahead of time to make it easy.
  • I’ve seen a lot of friends who hold their kids if they’re too scared. This could be an option to consider the first time, although it does make it more difficult for the hairdresser.

My girls did great. It was actually way easier than I anticipated. Here’s a few photos from the experience. So serious always!Clara enjoyed lounging around until her turn!Kate enjoyed snacking too. This is the best we could do to get them both to look at the camera. Imagine that. You can see that now Kate has a bob instead of a mullet and Clara has bangs.

If you’re planning your kids’ or kiddos’ first haircuts, the above tips will likely help.

What other tips do you have? I can always use them for the next round!