Time flies when you’re  having fun!  Let me be as short and sweet as possible to get you caught up on everything:

1.  Halloween – its really a bummer when its on a school night – the kids think the next day should be a  no-school sort of holiday.  We had fun anyway – a little pre-party at our house with chili, cornbread and lots of treats.  Then off on our gaggle of golf carts to trick-or-treat.  Son was, as usual, a football player.  Today he announced he is not going to be a dentist/orthodontist when he grows up because he is going to play football until he’s 80!  I like a man with a plan.  No photos of him – because, he’s him and doesn’t care to stop to be photographed.  Daughter was a witch that collided with Lada Gaga.

Remember Chuckie from last year?  Well that house was even scarier than ever.  They had monsters and even a clown jumping out of the bushes and “Chuckie” had a dead body with guts that she was throwing on people.  I can’t make this stuff up!  The kids love it and hate it all at the same time.

2.  Son’s Birthday – We had a fun outdoor party and had a flag football game with kicking and throwing contests.  I got all the kids team shirts with their names and numbers on the back and a team logo on the front.

3.  Football – the season is now over.  I’m kind of like the kids with the dead body and guts about football – I love it and hate it all at the same time.  Its harder than hard to watch your baby boy get tackled.

4.  House Hunters – I have been shooting an Emerald Coast episode of HGTV’s House Hunters!  My clients had submitted to be on the show long before they even met me.  I was wary about doing it – I’m not a big “do things in front of others” kind of person – I’m the anti-Leo.  I convinced myself I could do it and that the Realtor doesn’t have that big of a role anyway.  It was fun – the crew was so nice and interesting.  I loved hearing about their travels and the other shows they have worked on –  like our cameraman did a 3 year stint on “Cops” and told us stories about running around alleys and railroad tracks chasing after criminals!  I shot 2 consecutive almost 12 hours days and have one more day this weekend of shooting.  The buyers have to shoot 5 days!  All this for a 30 minute show.   It was very unnatural to have a camera in your face and a sound pack in your back – I know I did not act like myself and am worried about what I will look like on tv.  I felt a little bit like a bobble head, nodding my head in agreement too often during the buyers commentary.  So if you catch the episode in 2013, go easy on me – its much harder than you think!  Here are a few iPhone photos of the experience:

 This is me doing the “confessional” – this was the hardest part for me!  How does everyone else make it look so easy?  I was bright red like a tomato and probably talking about 100 mph which is what I do when I’m nervous.  I begged them for white balance…

This is me with the buyers and the crew after our 2nd long day of shooting.

We were shooting right as Hurricane Sandy was hitting the East Coast which brought a freakishly unseasonable cold front – yep, it was 46 degrees with a 39 degree wind chill and I was in summer clothes determined that it would not look cold in our episode!

 During breaks I put yoga pants under my dress and bundled up in a North Face.  For real I went to lunch dressed like this! 

     Please check back tomorrow – I am putting together a humbling and heart breaking post about the family I would like ALL of us to help and bless this year for Christmas.  



Halloween – The Archives


     I used to host a big, fun Halloween party the Saturday before Halloween each year.  I never was a big Halloween person – until Son was born.  My only request to my Dr. during my pregnancy was “please don’t let him be born on Halloween!”  Now I think that would have been cool.  But…he made his entrance a few days before and we ended up having a Halloween/birthday party combo 6 years running.  I think  my favorite Halloween party was the last one 3 years ago – it was an 80’s themed party and kids and adults all came dressed in 80’s costumes.  We had several Madonnas, a rubik’s cube, the Golden Girls, Punky Brewster, Mr. T, etc..  I will always cherish those photos and memories!  After that party I scaled back to a small party on Halloween – some of our friends come over and we eat chili and a few appetizers and then we all drive golf carts around the neighborhood trick-or-treating.

     Here are a few photos I dug up from the archives to share with you through the years of Halloween (last year pictured above was “Toddlers and Tiaras and a Bears football player.)  As I type this, Daughter (at 10 years old) is now pretty much my same height and has a shoe size 2 sizes larger than my own.  Son is not far behind in the height department and we could share shoes but he doesn’t really care for wedges or Ugg boots!  Daughter typed a letter to me outlining all the reasons she should have a phone – I’ll have to scan and share that later, it would win anyone over.  The point is…they are growing up way too fast and pretty soon they will be too old for trick-or-treating!  (Some faces have been blacked out to protect the innocent!)

Son won the Costume Contest at the 80’s party with his Gene Simmons KISS costume!

And I’m not saying this is or isn’t husband, but this crew also won the Costume Contest as Richard Simmons and the Sweatin’ to the Oldies “ladies.”  I pee a little every time I see this photo:

These Solid Gold dancers at the 80’s party still kill me.  I couldn’t black out his lips in this photo because really – that makes the photo:


This was all of us last year by the golf cart.  Husband went all out with his costume…I think he called it “deer in the headlights”

This Chuckie was pretty funny – we found him/her at a house where we trick-or-treated.  They had the dad jumping out of the bushes to really freak you out and they had fake bloody limbs on the stairs up to their house.

This is really going back in the archives to the pumpkin patch days:

People who have never seen me pregnant don’t believe that I get as big as I got.  No, this is not twins or octuplets.  This was taken about a month before Son was born…back in the days with a digital camera that had 2 megapixels and before lasik eye surgery:

Isn’t she the cutest thing?  This child never had hair until she was about 3 years old.  It all fell out and grew back to the thickest hair you’ve ever seen – see what happens when you wish too hard?  I said I wanted enough hair for a bow – not enough that her hairdresser said he will start charging her by the pound!  There is nothing cuter than baby feet…nothing…

This was when my little pumpkin turned 1 – still getting the hang of how to walk, I guess:

This was Daughter trying on brother’s costume:

I could eat them with a spoon:

This was the year Johnny the Torch actually started a tree on fire with a sparkler:


I hope you enjoyed my walk down memory lane!




Just a Glimpse…

       Did I tell you that the renter of our Beach House is a professional wedding and beach photographer?  Her work is stunning – really, I should have negotiated a photo shoot into the lease!  She shoots weddings along the Emerald Coast – usually in Seaside and Rosemary Beach.  Her plan when she moved in was to use the entire sunroom as her office.  She has meetings with brides there and also has a big flat screen to run proofing sessions.  (If you are planning a wedding or vacation to the Destin area – send me an e-mail for her contact information!)  I always wished I had been a professional photographer and had a little hut on the beach – but on the other hand, maybe I wouldn’t love it so much if it were my job?

     Well, lucky us – she sent me a few photos of the completed office.  She found the table and chairs on Craig’s List for only $75 and then painted the entire set with chalk paint.  Her canveses look stunning, even from this glimpse…

      I’ve had a lot of e-mails about Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac – the short answer…we are fine!  The track initially had Isaac heading straight for us, but now it has turned west towards New Orleans.  Hopefully the storm will not gather strength – New Orleans deserves a break.   Its a lot of work to prepare for a hurricane – just moving everything from the outside in is no easy task.  Our schools are cancelled tomorrow – but I think more of a precaution because we will have some winds and rain.  Yesterday we took advantage of the pre-storm surf and took the kids surfing at the beach.  This is only son’s second time surfing (after 2 years of me begging him to take lessons) and just like little kids do, he pops right up – now he wants a surfboard for his birthday!  Daughter is a little more reserved – maybe next time!

And here is the photo you will never see on the Weather Channel… 


The Finish Line

     Last week the Cambria countertops were installed in the Beach House kitchen – these counters were MADE for this kitchen – the perfect color and a gorgeous amount of silvery sparkle that makes me smile every time I see them.  Right now they are covered in plastic and construction debris, but trust me, they are gorg!  The lights were also installed the other day and they are perfect.   You might remember these from my post about a Before and After Beach Condo – yes, I “borrowed” the inspiration from this condo and bought the same lights with a larger matching one above the sink.

     The last two weeks have been the “down and dirty” work.  All the little details in the house are being worked on and outside we are seeing progress, people!  We have trenches dug for sprinklers, a well is being dug today (around here we have wells to water our grass instead of city water), and we have a shiny new gravel driveway and sidewalk!  We have an existing driveway at the front of the house than can park two cars.  But the TRUE front of the house (the one where the address and mailbox go) was sorely neglected.  The whole front entry is being revitalized – it is pretty ugly right now.  We do have a new door, the harvest gold Brady Bunch sidelights have been replaced with clear glass and there will be a new column and overhang soon.  With the new driveway, the home can easily park 4-5 cars which will be great when it becomes a short term rental property.

Here is Daughter, about to explore the gravel delivery: 

And here is the new driveway and sidewalk:

Here are the new side lights – a huge improvement, despite the fact that I photographed this like the house is lopsided (it isn’t) – but if I took the time to edit, edit, edit all these photos, I would never have time to post!

Yesterday they were cutting through the concrete block to add the new french doors – hopefully these will lead to a pool next summer!

The Master Bedroom is getting a door also which will lead to a brick paver patio.  Check out the blood red paint we found when we removed the trim!  The ceiling fan was also replaced – I picked out plain jane white ceiling fans that would just blend into the ceiling:

I’m probably going to gross you out with this one, but what an improvement the new white ceiling fan is compared to the original:

Remember when I told you the floors looked like they had poured Elmers Glue into some weird Aztec design?  Well, they didn’t stop at the floors. Every door has the same crazy design.  The painters are not excited to have to sand down all of these doors but fingers crossed it works and we don’t have to buy all new doors!  Ok, can you imagine this door in a room with blood red paint?  Scary Larry!


The Master Bedroom closet used to be Pepto-Bismol pink – a really nice accent to the blood red walls, don’t you think?  The closet is now white and will have new shelving and hanging bars.  The Master actually has 2 closets.

A peek of the interior:

The stainless steel appliances were delivered yesterday!  The contractor is installing them all today so I will get a great shot of the kitchen next week.

     And last, but not least, the landscaping.  The sod and plants are being installed on Monday.  This will be the most dramatic part of the renovation yet!  I told you I put a “For Rent” sign in the yard last week.  Well, I pulled the sign the next day and decided to wait until the yard is done – the house just didn’t command the price I wanted when it was surrounded by the weeds and brownscape!

     And on a personal note…


…we have been in the dog days of summer, still playing baseball and softball.  Both kids made their Little League All-Star teams and competed in a tournament that just finished up on Tuesday night.  It was a very exciting time – here in Destin, no team has ever made it to the Championship, much less won.  Ever.  It was a lot of pressure, a ton of practices which meant zero summer play dates,  but the boys and the girls both made it to the Championship!  The hardest part of the tournament, for me, was that the kids played on the same days, at the same time, but in cities 1 hour apart!  So we had to rotate parents.  In the end, the boys won it all (woot woot) and the girls came in 2nd (woot woot)!  Now I feel like I want to stay in my pj’s for at least a week and not leave the house…

Have a great weekend!


First Communion & Cinco de Mayo

     These two occassions seem an unlikley pair – but this year they fell on the same day…May 5th!  Son, a second grader, made his First Holy Communion on Saturday night and we had a dinner/pool party after for our family and some of his friends’ families.  It was fun to see Son all dressed up – for a boy who considers jeans TOO DRESSY for formal night on the Cruise, it was nice to see him in a shirt and tie instead of basketball shorts and sports team t-shirts.  In our church, First Holy Communion is a very special time – it would bring tears to any mother’s eye. 

     Two years ago when Daughter made her First Communion, I hired a professional photographer who did a full shoot of her in her dress and veil and she created custom invitiations for the dinner after.  For Son, I quickly rushed him to the back yard and snapped the world’s fastest photo and then found an invitation online that could ship quickly.  Lucky for me, the picture turned out pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself:

 And here are a few photos from the Service:

     After the Mass, the Church had a reception for all – two HUGE cakes with each of the communicant’s names on it (they each got the piece with their name) and lemonade.  After that we went back home for a Cinco de Mayo themed dinner party and the kids all swam like fish in the pool all night.  Here are some party details and recipes:

Sources:  Paper Flowers, Tissue banners and salsa bowls here, tablecloths from Walmart, large beach towels from Target, Tissue Pom Poms from Party City and all ribbon and tulle from Hobby Lobby.


Dinner was a taco bar with beef or chicken and all the fixings.  Instead of plates, I used these foil to-go containers that I bought at the Dollar Store.  If you plan ahead, you can buy these much cheaper at an on-line restaurant supply company.  The downside is you have to buy 200, but only $20!  Everyone loved eating from these and it was less mess with the tacos.


I served individual layer dips and displayed them on top of a sombrero.
I made these the night before and trust me, they were delish.


The dessert bar – yum!  I served lemon cupcakes (on a sombrero), brownies, strawberry pound cake trifle, chocolate chip cookies and sopapilla cheesecake (not pictured.)  The recipe for the amazing trifle is at the end of this post – super easy and you can make the day before!


Water bottle labels and food label table tents from Etsy – awesome, last minute service!


Every single Coronoa was consumed…when in Rome Mexico! 


Make-ahead Mason Jar Margaritas.  I love anything in a mason jar so when I found this reicpe on Pinterest, I had to try it – muy bien!  
See the full recipe below. 


Last but not least – I bought some stick-on mustaches at Party City and hot glued them onto skewers and put them at the head table along with some sombreros – people could then pose for pictures using the mustache and hats – made for some funny pics of our friends!



 Strawberry Pound Cake Trifle

– 1 Sara Lee Pound Cake, thawed (this dense cake works best for this recipe so it doesn’t get mushy)
– 2 or 3 pints of fresh strawberries – sliced and tossed with 1/2 Cup sugar
– 1 1/2 Cup sugar (1/2 cup used above)
– 2 eight oz packages of cream cheese, softened
– 3 cups whole whipping cream, whipped to make 4 cups

1.  Slice the pound cake into 1 inch cubes.

2.  Beat the cream cheese and 1 C of sugar until smooth.  Then add then whipped cream and mix lightly.

3.  Start the first layer of your trifle with pound cake and place along the bottom of your trifle bowl.

4.  Layer the pound cake with the juicy, sliced strawberries.

5. Top the strawberries with a thick amount of the whipped cream mixture.

6.  Repeat layers one more time until top layer is whipped cream.

7.  Garnish with a whole strawberry or even white or dark chocolate shavings.

*You could also add blueberries and make this dessert look patriotic for Memorial Day or 4th of July! 

*This recipe can be made the day before – this will give the pound cake time to absorb the strawberry juices.

Make Ahead Mason Jar Margaritas
I made 3 batches of these margaritas which filled 24  1/2 pint mason jars.  Save your packaging and freeze the jars in it to save freezer space.

– one 12oz can frozen limeade
– 1 C Tequila
– 1/3 C Triple Sec
– juice of 2 limes
– 4-5 cups of ice

In a blender, combine all ingredients except the ice and blend.  Then fill the blender to the top with ice and blendy until slushy.  You do not want any big ice chunks.  Pour into 1/2 pint mason jars and screw the lids on tightly.  Freeze until ready to serve.  The margaritas will thaw to a slushy consistency in about 5-10 minutes.  Do not put them immediately into an icy cooler like I did – the ice will stick the the mason jars and is hard to remove.  I would recommend putting them into a cooler or drink bin without ice until they have thawed. 

Next up – Daughter’s dance recital and her birthday party.  Then I am taking a nap.  A really, really long nap.



The Days Are So Long, The Years So Short

     Busy.  Busy.  Busy.  That about sums up my life these days.  The kids either have a practice, game or tournament every day of the week.  Today I thought was our first day off in 15 days and then daughter’s team called a practice and son’s coach signed him up for a hitting camp.  Rewind to February.  I am sitting in the cold rain at son’s first travel ball tournament.  It was miserable and I confess I complained all morning that the tournament wasn’t canceled – bad weather was looming – and I just knew we’d get all the way there and it would get rained out.  But it didn’t.  As I’m sitting on the bleachers – cold  and wet – my phone rings with a real estate related call.  Another agent wanting an appointment to show one of my listings.  I told her I was sitting outside in the rain at son’s baseball tournament and she got real excited and said “Honey you are SO LUCKY.  I would give ANYTHING to have those days back with my children.  Now they are grown up and moved away.”  Wow.  It took that one silly phone call to give me some perspective.  Enjoy life while you are living it.  Pretty soon these kids are not going to need me or even want me to be around.  They aren’t going to snuggle at night or give me kisses goodbye at school.  I won’t have any rainy travel ball tournaments to go to and cheer on my kids.  Cherish the moment – in the moment.

     Brother, sister-in-law and their 3 little nuggets came to visit for a week during Easter.  We had glorious weather.  But my kids had that pesky thing called school.  We soaked in as much time as we could with the cousins and cried lots of tears when they left.  Daughter actually locked herself in her bathroom when we were saying good-byes.  She was crying so hard that sister-in-law had to knock on the door holding the “Bug” coaxing her out for a hug and a goodbye.   I wish we lived closer.  Actually, I wished THEY lived closer because I don’t do snow.  Here is a picture I snapped of the Bug on the beach in her cute little Janie N Jack swimsuit ensemble.  She is the cutest, smartest 2 year old I have ever met – we have holes the size of Texas in our hearts when they leave.

     We got the new swingset installed!  Its pretty great.  I told the builder I wanted it sized for my tall kids.  Well, he took me to my word and it was so tall that Husband actually had him lop off 3 feet.  Can you imagine this 3 feet taller?  We had to go buy extra chain so the kids wouldn’t need ladders to get on the swings.  Some day if I ever have some free time I need to stain or seal it.  The posts were dug 3 feet deep in the ground – would have gone deeper but we hit water.  Darn sea level.  The swings and hardware are all from Home Depot…the swings can support up to 350 pounds.  Before extra chain:

And the “after”:


 Things are moving slower than I’d like at the Beach House.  Just like everything there, the walls are schitzophrenic.   Some have beachy wood paneling (not your Grandma’s 1970’s paneling) and some have an almost stucco finish.  So we decided to panel all the walls in the living room and kitchen.  Well, one batch of wood was bad and had to be re-ordered, bringing the work to a halt.  My contractor said the Kitchen might arrive this week – that would be great news.  We are getting close.  Picture it painted the perfect shade of white.

     Yesterday I stopped by Home Depot to pick up some flowers and herbs to plant.  Son is making his First Communion on May 5, so we are having our family and a few of his friends over for dinner after.  Well turns out that day is also Cinco de Mayo so the party is going to be just that.  Mexican food, mojitos, sangria and some fun decorations I ordered from Etsy and an authentic Mexican Fiesta store!  I am planting my own basil and mint, using Miracle Gro soil and fingers crossed it will grow enough to use in time for the party.  Herbs grow so well in pots by my pool – it has a screen so they are protected from bugs and creatures.  The herbs must love humidity because they grow the size of a small tree by July.  I also bought some new cobalt blue pots at WalMart – less than $30 for the largest size.  They look JUST like pottery and then you touch it and its lightweight plastic.  I carried them to my car and I got more than a few stares of wow, that girl is STRONG to be carrying those huge pots to her car. 

And some photos of my Cinco de Mayo Party inspiration, from my Pinterest Parties board:       

 The sangria filled with chopped up fresh fruit like strawberries and apples and yes, basil from my garden.  Grow basil, grow!

I know a margarita would be more fitting, but my fav drink is a mojito.  For the two times a year I actually drink!  I am trying this recipe from the Food Network because it makes an entire pitcher and it gets great reviews.  Grow mint, grow!


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