Erie/Cincinnati Trip – Part 1


Since I have a lot of pictures to share from our vacation to visit family and friends last weekend, I thought I’d divide it up into a couple of posts.

Day 1 – drove to Cincinnati, OH to visit friends (not quite half-way to Erie, PA), saw some joker on a motorcycle, drank a grapefruit IZZE (yum!), ooohed over the beautiful fall trees in KY and OH, and awed over cute little 2-month-old Ben.



Day 2 – hung out with Ben and his mama in the morning (Jason was great with him!), saw more gorgeous trees on the drive, drove the rest of the way to Erie, saw snow as soon as we arrived, visited Jason’s Grandma and Aunt Linda’s cute boston terrier named Shakes, had dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube with our good friends Dave and Emily, and later hung out at their home watching funny videos.







What Erie Gave to Me



Leading up to our trip last weekend to Erie, PA—the city where I did most of my growing up, from age 8 to 20—I was reflecting on some of the things I got through my time in the Flagship City, the town from That Thing You Do:

• a great foundation in Christ through a church that produced a super fun children’s church by Captain Bill and a vibrant youth group lead by Pastor Derek

• my now husband Jason, who I met at said youth group when I was 14 and married at that church 4 years later (yep, I was that young. nope, no fundamentalist arranged marraige. haha!)

• a great appreciation for warm weather and sunny days (due to Erie’s lack…)

• many breath-taking sunsets over Lake Erie

• snow driving skills that I may or may not ever need to use again

• lots of sweet friends through the years, a few who have managed to keep in touch

• a quality public school education

• a tolerance for swimming in 76º water on an 80º day

• summers and holidays spent with my mom’s parents and extended family

• summer walks on the beach of Presque Isle (hands down my favorite place in Erie) and the spot at beach 7 where Jason proposed

• a lasting love for Connie’s turtle ice cream, Smith’s hot dogs, Heinz ketsup, Troyer Farms chips, Wegmans grocery store, and Romolo sponge candy

Tomorrow I’ll share my pictures and a recount of our trip.

Packing Clothes for 5 Days


This past weekend my husband, BIL, SIL and I went on a 5-day vacation to Erie, PA stopping half-way to stay overnight in Cincinnati, OH. As I was planning what clothing to pack, I thought it would be fun to share my method of mixing and matching clothing in order to pack as light as possible. Let me start off my saying a few things: 1. I am definitely no fashion expert, 2. I wear a lot of blue, green, brown and gray (I think this makes things easier), 3. I don’t iron my clothes. Now that I have those things off my chest, let’s go. Here’s the entire wardrobe for five days:


(2 pairs of pants, 5 shirts, 3 sweaters, 2 jackets, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 hats, 2 scarfs)

Day 1
Expected plans: 4.5 hour car ride, visiting friends with 1.5 month old baby, dinner & maybe shopping or sightseeing:


Comfy worn jeans, teal blue t-shirt, gray cable knit sweater, silver slip-on flats, gray striped scarf, black cap (optional)

Forecast: Hi 50º / Lo 41º Rainy


Day 2
Expected plans: 5 hour car ride (on to second location), visit hubby and BIL’s grandmother, dinner with friends, shopping


Dark jeans, gray keyhole t-shirt, green cashmere zip hoodie, brown wool cap, green suede casual shoes, long brown wool coat

Forecast: morning city Hi 51º; evening city Hi 48º / Lo 38º Rain 50% chance


Day 3
Expected plans: Visiting friends and family, shopping, sightseeing, dinner with hubby’s family at home of our other BIL and SIL and our 1 yr old nephew Aiden


Comfy worn jeans, green boat neck t-shirt, gray cable knit sweater, black fleece pullover, silver slip-on flats, gray striped scarf, black cap

Forecast: Hi 45º / Lo 39º Rain & show showers


Day 4
Expected plans: Church and out to lunch with friends, birthday party for our nephew with family, hang out with friends and/or sightseeing in the evening


Dark jeans, pink t-shirt under brown wool deep-v sweater, olive green jersey knit scarf, brown wool cap, green suede casual shoes, long brown wool coat

Forecast: Hi 50º / Lo 41º Sunny


Day 5
Expected plans: 9.5 hour car ride back home


Comfy worn jeans, light blue scoop neck t-shirt, green cashmere zip hoodie, gray striped scarf, silver slip-on flats, black cap

Phone Photo Friday




Only in Nashville would I watch a guy with a cowboy hat walk across an intersection and down the street carrying an un-cased upright bass.

Fall Family Night + Chili Recipe



…AKA Chili Night. Our church had our annual picnic on Sunday evening. This year it was a fall festival where everyone brought chili and fixin’s and dessert. It was a very laid-back afternoon of playing games on a blanket in the grass. Jason looks forward to any opportunity to hold baby Mikaelyn. (She’s the sweet little girl who just might ruin our planned baby timeframe.)



Then chili for dinner, of course. I ate my own recipe and Jason looked for something spicer. He found a New Orleans style Bouron chili that was perfect for him. I had a yummy peanut butter and chocolate rice krispy treat for dessert. Just before dark we went on a hayride. Then gathered around a bonfire to get warmed up afterward. Hayride pics (and above pictures) taken from friend’s facebook. (Thanks!)


In case you don’t have a good chili recipe, I thought I’d share. This is the recipe my mom has been using from a 35 year old Betty Crocker cookbook plus some modifications we’ve made. I turns out very colorful.

Chili con Carne with Tomatoes

1 lb (or so) of ground beef
1 big sweet onion, chopped
1-2 large green peppers, chopped (I used 4 small ones from the garden, some turning orange)
1 can (1 lb 12 oz) peeled whole tomatoes
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 tsp chili powder (original recipe calls for 2 tsp)
1/8 tsp salt (I always end up adding more)
1/8 tsp cayenne red pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
2 cans (15.5 oz) beans (I used 1 red kidney and 1 black bean)

Cook and stir ground beef, onions and green peppers in a large pot until meat is brown and onion is tender (15 minutes or so). Stir in remaining ingredients except for beans.

Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours covered, stirring occasionally, or 45 minutes uncovered. Break up whole tomatoes with a spoon. Stir in beans and heat until warm.

Suggested fixins: finely shredded cheddar, sour cream, fresh chopped cilantro, crackers

Fall Flowers & Foliage



While we were building mini greenhouses on Saturday, I couldn’t resist taking photos of some of our flowers and plants in their fall splendor. The succulent above seems to change colors for every season. I love the rusty orange-brown for October!


Lavender is still going strong. I love the frosty blue-green leaves against the purple buds. The smell makes me gag, though. 🙂


A couple of red azalea flowers still hanging on.


Monarch butterfly caterpillars enjoying our parsley.


I decided to pick the last of the basil and attempt to preserve it for cooking through the winter. Also, before chopping down the last of the zinnia bushes, I cut a few flowers to make two final vases.


In a random conversation with a stranger, I learned of a technique for saving and storing fresh basil that I decided to try. I cut up the leaves into small strips with cooking shears and mixed them in a bowl with extra virgin olive oil. Then I spooned the mixture into an ice cube tray and drizzled with more EVOO. Once they’re solid, I put the cubes into a ziplock bag. I’m hoping these basil-cubes will work! I LOVE fresh basil in my pasta.


Black bamboo: you are stunning. I love you.

Smells like Heaven


Clean laundry is my favorite smell in the world. Not the artificial clean laundry smell they use for candles and air freshener – REAL clean laundry. I love it! Which makes me wonder why I was prioritizing price over smell (and apparently, quality).


After 2 of my husband’s dark gray shirts got bleached by low quality cheapo detergent (I won’t mention the name but it’s pictured above in the blue bottle.), I decided to start buying Tide again. Tide smells wonderful. Combined with Bounce fabric softener sheets? HEAVENLY. Can’t wait to be enveloped by my clean sheets tonight!


In case you’re wondering, we have done anything else with our master bathroom since Stage 2. But, we have shopped around for .75″x.75″ porcelain tiles and we’ve still been looking for a MCM cabinet to use as a bathroom vanity.