Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes, pt. 2

P.S. Johnny made me my supper plate. I got 2 tiny crash hot potatoes and 2 itty bitty chicken fingers. And if I squint really, really hard I can almost see a wift of asparagus. Sad.....so sad.

I think he's trying to tell me something.


Maybe it's that he needs a good butt kickin' back to reality.


The Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes

Just a short HELLO before I run out the door. I'm going with a friend to visit a book club member who is in an assisted living place trying to recuperate. Poor lady has been fighting infections for 3 months. 

Remember when I met The Pioneer Woman? She signed my cookbook HERE. It was such a delight to meet her!

Last night I made her Crash Hot Potatoes for my Johnny for supper with our chicken fingers and asparagus. Soooooooooo yummy!!! Here's the recipe on her website:


I used the smaller reds (because that's all I had) but next time I'm using regular size. Oh man, I'm telling you, you will NOT be sorry if you make these. I used plenty of pepper and some fabulous Mediterranean spices that I had in my pantry.

I just wanted to share that amazing idea with you, since I'm always looking for new things to do with the basic potato.   ENJOY!!

Off to see my friend.............


Friday, August 27, 2010

Jack's glasswork - Sneak peek!

I got another happy box from my Father in law yesterday and I'm so excited to share with you the adorable glass work prezzies that he made me! I had to sneak in this (sorry so dark) cell phone pic to give you an early peek; this is a beautiful little glass pendant. And yes, Jack, I like it! No...I LOVE it!

I will post pics on Monday of the cutest jewelry (hint: he's gotten me all ready for Halloween!) and something Jack made with one of the pics of Madison that I had posted on my blog. You won't believe it! I can't wait to share, but now I have to run to meet Johnny for dinner! C-ya's on Monday!!

Sent from Brenda's BlackBerry
Hello Dear Cyber Diary! And my precious 4 blog readers! Happy Friday!!

You know that I'm in a book club (I'm the "Dear God, I hope this book is on CD" member most of the time, but they all roll their eyes and put up with me anyways). This summer one of our most loyal members, a sweet little widow lady, had to have heart surgery. It didn't go well. She has been in an assisted living facility for nearly 3 months now fighting infections and who knows what else. It's been rough.

So I told my girlfriends that I'd design a card for her so we could all sign it and go visit her next week.


I took this image back in May. I was driving home from a Navy wives club function, where I was asked to photograph a group of women who have been meeting since the 1960's out in the Mt. Vernon area. I was trying to get out of the neighborhood and was suddenly dumbstruck and had to pull over. Fast! 

There was a house that had a bamboo grove growing all around its back and side yard. I'm not kidding. (OK--This is not a sight you usually see around here in Northern Virginia. At all! In Japan, yes. We saw it all the time. But here? Nope). I screeched to a halt, jumped out of my car with my camera and for the next 8.5 minutes had a wonderful time trespassing in some strangers yard. I was joyous! And the fact that (1) no one called the cops and (2) no one came out of the house to chew my ass and (3) they didn't own a pit bull gave me more reason to celebrate!  {{{High Five!}}}


I just had to show you the bamboo forest growing right here in a suburban neighborhood. I could't get back there if I tried; my GPS took me in circles until I got out to the main roads again.

I love bamboo. I love the idea that something seemingly so fragile is stronger than an oak tree. It reminds me to ~ as I wrote above in the frame ~ to be flexible, yet firm. Delicate, yet strong. And I must say, out of those 4 words, I barely have any of them under my belt. But I'm trying. The top part of the quote is Bruce Lee, the latter is from some articles I have on Bamboo, but I credited him anyway. How else would I have completed the darned card? 

Do you know that during the bombing in Hiroshima only the top 2 layers of the bamboo plants were damaged and that it was the first plant to regenerate itself and sprout new plants afterwards? Even in the contaminated soil. 

Why am I blogging about bamboo anyway? I guess I thought that maybe my little baby bamboo shoot might cheer my friend up and help to make her feel a little bit stronger in this storm that she's living right now. Or maybe she just likes the color green, which in that case she'll be overjoyed. Mainly, we just want to make sure she knows we're thinking about her.


By the way, here is the photograph I took of the lovely (and boisterous!) Navy Wives group from Mt. Vernon. I loved spending the morning with them ~ they fed me great food and a chocolately, ooey, gooey dessert, naturally they are all my new best friends now and they will never be able to get rid of me. Half of them are widows now and as I listened to their stories of all of the places they traveled in their active duty Navy years and about all of their grown children, their grand children and some of their husbands' deaths, I saw what a strong support system they are to one another. I was reminded over and over how lucky I am to be here in the Washington, D.C. area, surrounded by all of the wonderful Military wives that I know and love and how in the end it's your girlfriends that get you through your day.

I'm a very lucky girl and I never take that for granted   ♥ 


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mermaid Bath

A week before Madison arrived I was in the mall with my friend Tammy and the saleslady to this cute little store told us how to create a Mermaid Bath and I immediately thought of my little Madison   ;o)   Johnny said it was a must, every little girl should get to be a Mermaid for the day. You don't have to tell me twice!


On her second day here, after going to visit Uncle Johnny at work and attending the ice cream social, Madison and I popped by LUSH Cosmetics at the Tyson's Corner Mall and got the ingredients that we'd need for a mermaid bath. 

I need to do a quick plug for Lush ~ Lush sells all handmade, natural cosmetics and bath products ~ they use only organic fruits and vegetables, the finest essential oils & safe synthetics, little or no packaging, vegetarian ingredients and they only buy them from companies that do not test their products on animals. For me that's a thumbs up all around. 


We got a "Big Blue Bath Bomb" which fizzes like crazy when you plop it into the warm water. It contains coarse sea salt, turns the water a pretty sea blue color and to our big surprise also filled the water with SEAWEED! Lots of seaweed, ha. It took a rinse in the shower to get it all out of her hair.

To that we added the sparkly, yummy smelling, bubble making "Sunnyside Bubble Bar." It smells like tangerine and Mandarine oils and it's sort of sweet. I could've eaten it.

So......$16 later we have a Mermaid Bath. Yes. That's what I said. I know. I went a little nut-so....but.....


Let me tell ya.......It was totally worth it.


It was a fun activity that we could do together and she loved it. That's all that matters. Madison spent the rest of the week pretending she was a Mermaid; at the pool she wore flippers and we played make believe. 

This age when they have no front teeth is a hoot, isn't it? They look like jack-o-lanterns. I have to dig out Josh's 1st grade pic, he's missing one of his teeth and he's in a little vest. Too precious!

P.S. Do you like my new logo on my pics? My gal Corina at Corina Neilson Design & Photography made it, isn't it cute? Simple and fun. She also designs digital scrapbooking tools and many more photography tools, she's so talented! And if you haven't gotten a chance to see her handmade headbands, you must take a look HERE. Too cute for words. If I had a little girl......omg. BIG trouble! I'm thinking Madison neeeeeeeds one, though. Check her out!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Train Concert @Wolftrap, what fun!

Happy Wednesday everyone! Josh left today for 5 days on a mini vacation with his friend from work. Their flight left at noon so Johnny & I are having "Empty Nesters" practice. Whatever that means.

On Monday night Johnny & I went to the Train concert with our friends Lori & Al....I spy them in the picture waaaaay back there at the tent....brown top, blue tshirt....next to the curtains....they're picking up our picnic dinner at the catering kiosk. It was really good! A tray of 3-4 different types of sandwiches, brownies, chips, potato salad, cole slaw & a bottle of water for each person. Lori brought a bottle of vino so we were set!


It started to sprinkle a little bit, but only for a short while and luckily we had umbrellas so my claws didn't come out (all the way). Johnny says I was a CAT in a previous life because I hate to get wet unless I was planning on it in the first place, i.e. a water park, the pool....and that's about once every 3 years. At best.

I like to say I'm made of sugar.


This is what happens when you buy outside lawn seats in Virginia. Murphy's law says it will rain. Suckers! Thank God Lori and Al bought seats under the covered building (off to the right) otherwise that pretty much would've been us sitting out there getting wet and yelling at our husband because he bought the cheap seats. Well, Johnny, that is. He yells at his husband all the time when he gets stuck in the cheap seats out in the rain. It's annoying. I buy him jewelry to shut him up.


The warm up band was called "Need to Breathe." (top photo) They were really good and I think I'll download a few of their songs. I loved watching the band photographer on the left side of the stage taking pics of both bands as they performed. I realized I wouldn't know what to do. Flashing lights. Quick movements should have fast shutter speeds, yet low lighting should have a high ISO....what kind of white balance?....yikes. Not to mention I'm as distracted as a Chihuahua 98.9% of the time....I'd be scrrrrrrrrewed! I digress.

At one point in Train's performance Pat Monohan told everyone to turn their cell phones on real bright and shine them toward him. He sang IF IT'S LOVE and took a picture on his cell phone from the stage while he performed and then posted it on Twitter.


The result! Cool, huh?


Gotta love those self cell phone shots. I have short arms. Leave me alone.

Pat Monohan was awesome, his voice completely amazing. I couldn't believe how he sounded live. He's perfection. Skinny, hilarious, too many cups of coffee & cute perfection.

I know. I'm an awesome videographer. Golden Globe alert. If you would like my services at your next big function please contact my people. I'm easy, but I'm not cheap. I thought the dancing cell phone bit was a nice touch, don't you? Never mind the fact that the speakers on my phone are probably shot for good. C'est la vie. Again, totally worth it.

Naturally, Train made us wait for "Soul Sister" until the very last song and IT ROCKED THE HOUSE!!!" I called Josh during the song so that he could listen and then I got a text message from him: "Dude! That song is playing in the gym right now too, lol!" I hate when he calls me Dude, but it's not the worst in our history together so I guess I'll take it. I digress.

I was hoarse the next morning. We danced and rocked the whole evening. It was a blast. We didn't get to bed until 1am and the poor guys got up at 5am to go to work. I felt like I'd been hit by the drunk bus, even though I only had 2 small glasses of wine. But it was totally worth it.

Thank you SO much Lori & Al for the fabulous evening. We loved it and loved spending time with you. Next time let's go see Mama Mia!


Speaking of Mama Mia.......look at these tomatoes! (Italians...tomatoes....hello?) My father in law sent me this pic of the monsters that come out of their garden - and can I just mention that in the middle pic the "cherry count" is at 1,295....and they're still going strong. I hope my mother in law knows a good tomato sauce recipe and how to do some canning.


And for no other reason other than because it's Wednesday and I just downloaded 812 cell phone pics off my blackberry = 546 MB I thought I'd throw in a cute Chihuahua pic. This is my little Minnie Mouse after I got out of bed in the morning. She snuggles in my warm spot and sticks her tiny nose out of the covers and keeps her butt in there until about 1pm.

The only thing better than being a Real Housewife of D.C. ~ is being the chihuahua of a Real Housewife of D.C.  :o)


Monday, August 23, 2010

Train concert


This is Johnny's favorite song ~ It's a good one  :o)

We're so excited to be going to the TRAIN concert tonight @Wolftrap with our friends Lori & Al (aka Sophia's parents). You know, that cutie patootie that I get to babysit sometimes? We're having a catered picnic before hand thanks to the terrific planning of Lori. If it were up to me we'd starve or we'd have squished peanut butter & jelly sandwiches out of my purse.

The wine's on us guys! Not taking NO for an answer!!! See ya tonight....


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Madison starts the 1st grade today!

Happy Monday Everyone!

After a few days of rest I awoke missing my little niecelette soooo much. Kay was right ~ She told me, "Just wait! Give it a few days, and when you've caught your breath you're going to feel a big void that she'll leave behind. You'll see..." 

Well, "Hello Void." 



I love this picture of Maddie. Of course, I say that about every picture of her, just about, but this one in particular cracks me up. To anyone else it's simply a little girl smelling a flower. To me, it's much more than that. It's a candid memory. I ran a vintage action on it and tweaked around a bit to make it look like a shot straight from 1977, the year her Mommy was born. Her little halter dress was perfect for this 70's flower child look. I can picture her VW peace & love bug parked on the curb  :o)

I figure that one of the reasons I love, and always have loved photography so much is because....basically....I'm greedy. I love my life and I love the people I choose to have in it so much that I want to keep them and/or the "moments" we share together forever. And ever. And ever. Photography allows me to do that. I can go back in time 23 years (since I moved out on my own) and spend hours sifting through and looking at images I snapped, on every camera imaginable, and those moments come back to me just as if they'd happened yesterday. The sounds. The scents. The mood. The tastes....yes, I love food photography and in my next life I'm going to be a photographer for some fabulous gourmet cooking magazine. Consider yourself warned.

Greed. Sometimes it's a good thing.

So in the image, Maddie and I were waiting for Uncle Johnny to come get us to take us to the airport and we were outside with Kay. Maddie had SO much energy, she was all pumped up about getting to fly on an airplane. She zoomed here and there and everywhere and I snapped away and she "pretended to be my supermodel." The kid was on fire!

"Look Aunt Brenda!!!! I'm on the flower wall! Look! I'm smelling the roses, haha! Watch me run! I'm skipping, watch! I can twirl! Hey, how do I get up that tree? (At that point Kay and I both screamed NO!!!) Look Aunt Brenda! I'm swinging on the lamp post! Wheeeeee!!!"


Lord, that child wore me out, but I tell ya. I miss her so much I'm having withdrawls. What makes me laugh about that first photo is that I know that she has a mouth FULL (and I mean stuffed!) with pink bubble yum that Kay had given her (supposedly for the flight, ha!) and every time she looked at us she looked like a chipmunk because to talk she had to shove the whole lump into one side of her cheek.

Kay and I laughed at her the whole time so when I look at that image, the whole scene unfolds and all I see is those puffy cheeks. And I can smell the sweetness of the 5 pounds of sugar in her bubble yum!


"Hey there, little Chipmunk, show me how old you are!"

You'll only be 6 once so enjoy it to the fullest, Sweetheart.

Do you see what such a tiny picture can do? It's only a little 4x6 piece of paper, really.....but no! It's LIFE. Pictures to me equal life. They are one and the same. And being able to keep those moments forever.

I'm a very greedy lady and I make no apologies   :o)~

8-23-10 Ready to meet her teacher!

So big news: Madison starts the 1st grade today!! What a big girl. I want to wish her the best of all days. I feel like I just posted her end of the kindergarten year field day picture, geeze this summer flew by. Have fun today Maddie!! You sure look super cute today  :o)


Saturday, August 21, 2010

See y'all on Monday!


Happy weekend to all! I plan on doing NOTHING! Nothing at all! Well...reading, catching up on Tivo, baking something yummy for my Man (hint: lemon bars!), BBQing, walking the dogs, going to the library, napping. NOTHING! I Love it :o)


Friday, August 20, 2010

Bye Bye Miss Madison :o(

Well, last night was kinda sad. As exhausted as I am, a mental exhaustion that is indescribable, but Aunties all over know what I'm talking about, (and I took a loooong nap today to prove it!), I have gotten used to having my little Maddie around all day to keep me company.

We had such a good time together and she taught me everything I needed to know about Justin Bieber, Hannah Montana, Selena Gomez and every other teen heart throb that has a role on a Disney Channel show. Trust me. She knows them ALL.


She looked like one of the Beverly Hillbillies heading to the airport. Plus, there was a car seat!


Madison said, "Well, Aunt Brenda...it was very nice being with you at your home." So grown up like, I had to laugh. So I said, "Well, it was nice having you, thank you for coming to visit me." Very grown up like because I couldn't be outdone.

Then...she looked up at me with a sad face and said, "I'm going to miss you Aunt Brenda" and it was over. Done deal. I lost it and just grabbed her close.


She kept saying "Be brave, Aunt Brenda, be brave!" (Let me remind you that SHE was the one getting on the airplane, not me). I said, "I am being very brave, I really am!" And she pulled away and looked at my face and said, "Nope, you're not being brave at all."


I'm sorry, Sweetheart. It's hard to be brave and not cry. I had to. You see, I have leaky eyes....


They're attached to my heart. And when my heart gets sad they just spew like a fountain. I can't help it....


I'm going to miss you & your silliness & your laughing so much. I just know it.

I already do  :o(

I'm going to go nap now.

For a week.

I love you, Miss M.


They're MINE!!! All mine!!! Take that!!!

You KNEW I'd go back....I warned ya!


I can be very obnoxious when it comes to coveting and possessing shoes. Just sayin...

Come to Mama... 


And this time I didn't leave them behind  ;o)

I think I'm going to sleep in them tonight. They go well with my lime and orange polka dotted pants and tshirt jammies.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

This blog post if for Shelby!

This is for you, Shelby! This was at the Smithsonian Museum (Natural History) ~

"Dear Shelby ~ I am scared! Help MEEEE!!!"


"I am so excited to see Dorothy's actual, REAL Ruby Slippers! Love, Madison (And Dorothy)"


This one's for Miss Shelby! Madison wants to show you she's about to finish her puzzle :o)

Sent from Brenda's BlackBerry

4 little (tired) monkeys

Madison, Peanut, Minnie & Piper

Madison's last morning with us  :o(

Little stinker is flying home today. We are getting ready to wash her pretty hair to send her back to TX all shiny and squeaky clean! She's almost packed. Just a few more things then Uncle Johnny will be home from work early to drive us to the airport. It's going to be so quiet around here, what am I going to do? I've gotten so used to the little cutie patootie running around the house  :o(


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We popped over to the gym tonight to say HI to Josh.

He did a few bicept curls with Miss M!


Maddie loves her Joshie xoxo


Madison colored this WHOLE set today!

No matter what we did, Minnie Mouse refused to move. She has on her "go ahead, make me" look so we decided it's best not to mess with her. She has a few teeth left that can do some damage.

Sent from Brenda's BlackBerry