You Are My Sunshine

Natures Botanical Gardens, Spring Hill, Florida. Photo courtesy of Jen Carter Photography.

My Only Sunshine

Natures Botanical Gardens, Spring Hill, Florida. Photo courtesy of Jen Carter Photography.

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21 September, 2013

Gearing Up For Fall, and Removing Tree Sap From Dog Fur... All In One Day!

Well, it's been quite some time since I was able to blog. Here's the short recap here at Eat, Love, Live.... Repeat... I finally quit working sometime in July. Can I just tell you how AH-MAZING it was to have all that quality time with my daughter? That being said, I guess it's obvious that we made the jump to a one income household - for like a month.

We took a family trip to Washington, DC in August. Our first family trip in the three years we have been a family. We had a wonderful time visiting the museums and monuments. I'll have to put together a blog about our trip and what we did to save costs, which wound up being not a whole lot. We did get a lot of good ideas on what to do for next time - and what not to do again!

The three of us being goofy at the White House
Now that we are midway through September, the baby has gone back to school, and I've started a new job working from home which I absolutely love. We're all adjusting to our new schedule one painful step at a time. Being home is a brand new thing for me, so I'm having to learn how to clean and take care of the house while I'm there - and work, but still make dinner, etc, etc. Multitasking has NEVER been my forte.

So, now that fall is upon us, we are seeing an ever so slight change in the weather here in Florida. That means it is still bloody hot, but now we are all suffering the affects of fall allergies. Oh Joy. I have braved the current 80 degree and humid weather at 8:14 p.m. EST, to turn off my air and open my windows. I'm desperate for it to cool off, so for now I'll just pretend it's cool out and try to save on my SUPER COLOSSAL electric bill I've been getting for the last three months. Seriously, I cry or resist the urge to drink myself into a drunken stupor every time I see the bill from our local electric company.

This morning the hubby and I let the dogs out for a romp in the backyard. My youngest furbaby thinks it's fun to pull the bark of the pine trees in the backyard. He came in looking like this:

Yes, I know. He's cute, and he looks like if I gave him a feather he could fly away in with those ears. However, that's not just dirt on his adorable little face. That's pine sap. Crusty pine sap coated in dirt all over his beautiful white and blue fur. Needless to say, I found myself googling how to remove pine tree sap before we even made it to lunch. Note to all you folks reading this: cooking oil spray, peanut butter, or alcohol.

This adorable little face became super unhappy once I sprayed him with cooking oil a few times and proceeded to scrub him with a paper towel. For the record, he is now back to his sweet, gorgeous blue and white self.

The hubby and I proceeded to run a few errands later in the day and wound up at one of our local do it yourself hardware stores. We started planning our fall garden while we were there and came home with a slew of seeds. There ARE advantages to living in Florida that go beyond the beach. One of them is a very long growing season! Here's our seed haul below:

This is only the beginning because I stood at the seed rack googling what to grow in Florida in the fall. I intend to do a little more indepth research and pick up a few more things before we get started with planting.

Here's a really terrible photo of the herbs I'll be growing this fall. I decided on more basil and parsley. Apparently we are amazing basil growers. I've decided to scrap my current basil plants and start over. With all the heat and rain we've had this summer, my current basil forest is seriously burnt and tired. A new start will be good for my fall cooking recipes. Not to mention, most of my recipes call for parsley, and I'm very much over buying a whole cluster of parsley to use a few sprigs.

I pretty much call this photo proof of my Southern heritage. Collards, cabbage, squash, spinach, and pickling cucumbers. I have an aunt that can put anything in a pot and can it, and it always comes out amazing. I actually found a jar of pickled okra that my dad hid from me in my mom's cabinet several years after he died. It's a personal goal to learn to can before the year is over.

I also opted to try my hand at a bean patch this fall. You'll see me scouring Pinterest later to learn how to grow them. I've selected some Kentucky Blues, Pole Beans, and Snow Peas. This should be an interesting experience. I've done some reading on blanching and freezing this summer. I'm looking forward to pulling out a bag of my own beans and putting those in some water and bacon grease and having a big bowl of them to munch on!

Comment away if you have any suggestions, or if you're also planning your fall garden. I love comments!
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07 July, 2013

Spicy Salsa Verde!

I've been meaning to try out my handy dandy food processor on my blender I bought a couple of weeks ago for what feels like forever. We've been eating a lot of Mexican dishes and using a lot of Salsa Verde on it, so what better way to break that puppy in than by making my very own Salsa Verde!

Of course this recipe didn't come without it's issues. Mine was VERY "limey".... I found myself googling ways to cut down the lime... FYI - SUGAR. Yes, SUGAR. But, we'll get to that....

Overall, this recipe was super simple to make. I was disappointed that I didn't get to use ONE THING from my garden, but I did get to have a grand time in my local produce department. While I will detail out the ingredients and instructions, it really takes no more than a little chopping, a little baking, and some blending... The end. You should also know that my salsa came out SUPER spicy. Be mindful of this as you are tossing in pepper after pepper into the blender!


  • 3 1/2 lbs tomatillos, papery husks and stems removed, rinsed
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 5 large serrano chili peppers (or any peppers that you have on hand)
  • 5 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 firmly packed cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Heat oven to 500 degrees... No really, 500.

Take a baking sheet and line it with foil. Place your tomatillos, onion, serranos, and garlic on the baking sheet.

Place the veggies in the oven. Let them bake, but keep a close eye. Your tomatillos and serranos will get soft and brown. The garlic and onion will brown. As you notice this color change, you'll want to start flipping the veggies over until the tomatillos get brown and start running - as in leaking. When you see the tomatillos leaking, take everything out of the oven.

Add the veggies, salt, cilantro, and lime juice to the blender a bit at a time. DON'T FORGET TO WATCH YOUR PEPPERS if you are trying to tone down the heat. I would suggest you use the lime sparingly, unless lime and tart is your thing. Blend until the ingredients have a smooth consistency. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.

Like I said, mine turned out SUPER limey. If this happens to you, add some sugar until you get it toned down to where you want it. Needless to say, mine wasn't as tart, but BOY was it spicy! Next time I'll add fewer serrano peppers.

Use this in chips, tacos, burritos, carnitas, and anywhere else you want some yummy goodness to kick things up a notch. I used mine in some Sweet Pork I made in the crockpot. I'll be adding that recipe later.

This was a great way to start my quest into the queen of canning, and I think you'll find it not only delicious, but easy and quick as well!

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24 June, 2013

Off Topic: NKOTB, Boyz II Men, and 98 Degrees

 I was SUPER blessed to get to go to the tour known as "The Package" last Friday with two awesome ladies and one mini who was getting her introduction to the music of days gone by. Yes, I was there for New Kids On The Block, Boyz II Men, and 98 Degrees.

I had to come all the way from the west coast to attend this concert. My morning started with a REALLY dark sky and some thunder. Needless to say, I spent the morning trolling Bay News 9 watching radar maps.

I'd also like to point out that the water company has been out here working on our lines for like EVER now running new pipes, blocking the road way, putting out those "boil water" notices that we never seem to get.... Thursday LATE afternoon my husband tells me that the neighbor came over and advised that said water company can't get the pipes under our driveways so all day Friday they'll be busting up concrete.... Needless to say, they were out at 7am getting ready to bust concrete - and I was out right after they woke me up jackhammering - in my pajamas no less - moving my car to the other side of the street! No water company was going to keep me from NKOTB!

I took a rural route that I've never taken before to get to Orlando. By rural, I mean heavenly. There ain't nobody out yonder but open pastures and lots of cows in between these itty bitty teensy towns. I LOVE IT! However, the party I was going with changed up our meeting spot. YIKES! This required me to pull over and grab a regular old paper map to figure out where I was going and where I needed to be:

The words "Right And Up" come to mind here. I believe EVERY woman should know how to read a map. Yes, you might have GPS but if the battery dies and you don't have a charger, a gas station map is your new BFF. For all the people that said "You're not going in the military, what is ROTC ever going to do for you?" Here's one of your answers!

I used GPS for my in town travels.... Siri told me go towards Miami...Sure... That seems legit... Except for the fact I'm on the North West side of Orlando!!!

After getting PELTED by rain on the Turnpike, Orlando gave me a GORGEOUS sunset. And I have to tell you, I'll take downtown Atlanta in rush hour over that Turnpike ANY DAY!

I was so tempted to pull out my legwarmers, but I didn't. I did manage to rock a side ponytail through NKOTB though:

 I know... It's hard to be stylish wearing one of these, but I certainly think I pulled it off.

I COULD have looked like these girls a few rows ahead of us:

 I give them props, but that's it. Honestly, I expected to see a lot more of this, but surprisingly, the crowd was mostly thirty something females. Big surprise, I know. Every time the groups would stop to let the crowd sing you'd have an entire stadium of women singing at the top of their lungs.... So different than when I saw Vince Neil from Motley Crue...

Boyz II Men have still got it. They haven't aged one day. I don't know how they EVER stopped making mainstream radio. I was reminded of so many school dances, twister parties, birthday parties, high school boyfriends, and tears shed at all of them! What a GREAT performance!

98 Degrees seemed to be everyone's bathroom break opportunity. I wasn't the biggest 98 Degrees fan. I was more of a Backstreet Boys girl.... I know... I know... I have to tell you though, I watched Nick and Jessica's MTV reality show and of course Nick is a good lookin' guy - I just didn't realize HOW good looking  he was until I saw him in concert. Oh my. That's about all I have to say about that!

Then we were off to NKOTB. These guys are like wine - they just get better with age. Seriously. They put on a FULL TWO HOURS of music, dancing, and crown interaction like no other. I bet that chick that Donnie kissed is still feeling it today. Wow. I didn't shoot too much video of these guys because I was, well, entranced. They were AWESOME!

When little baby Joey started singing in the middle of "Please Don't Go Girl" and said "It's been 25 years", I had to think about it real hard. Yes, yes it HAS been 25 years. I was 9 when NKOTB was making a big splash on the music scene. And it took me to just shy of 35 to make it to a concert. I am making up for lost time!

I admit it.... I watched these videos and I get SO super excited at concerts! You'll have to ignore my commentary, screaming, and singing. This is why I work in the legal field - it was obvious I was never going to have a career as a singer/dancer.

I had an ABSOLUTE blast! I have to send out a HUGE thank you to Miss Stacey for the invite, and to the other girls. It was GREAT! I can't WAIT for them to come back next year. I'll totally go again.

So, if you missed these guys in your hometown, or they haven't made it there yet - here's a sneak peek into the show!
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21 June, 2013

Homemade Mocha Frappes And Veggie Update!

This has been an exciting week! My daughter returned home after spending some time away with her father. I could not be ANY happier that she is home. I would elaborate, but there just aren't words to explain it appropriately. Within 15 minutes of getting in the car after I picked her up she had drawn me a GREAT photo:

We later stopped at the rest area on the bridge for another photo opportunity:

I have to admit, I'm the luckiest mommy ever.... and I'm not even the slightest bit biased. :)

In other news, I've been checking on my tomato plant that currently has 38 celebrity tomatoes growing on it. They just aren't turning red fast enough for me - or my urge to make salsa, spaghetti sauce, and all the other awesome recipes I keep finding on Pinterest. HOWEVER!!! I went out this morning to see THIS:

WOOHOO!!!!!!!! The tomato pictured here is the reddest one so far, but there are several more looking like the tomato in upper right corner. I figure by midweek I'll be out there pulling some fruit off!

And in OTHER and REALLY EXCITING and money SAVING news... I came across a post on Facebook that gave the recipe for mocha frappes. I am convinced that mocha frappes (and Pepsi) are the nectar of the Gods. I LOVE me some mocha frappe. I HATE the price tag that comes with them.

We recently had a super awesome gas station by the name of Wawa go in RIGHT around the corner from us. We are just a little too impressed by the food and beverages that can be found there. Needless to say, I've been ordering without checking the ACTUAL prices (I know, GASP). The other day I was in ordering and I actually DID check the prices. Once I stopped crying I knew I'd be visiting my beloved Wawa less and less from that point on.

When this post for a mocha frappe you could make at home popped up, I was skeptical, but it beat quitting cold turkey. I pinned it and decided I need to buy a blender. I got off work and went straight to Walmart - and I bought myself a blender - with a food processing attachment so I can play with all the salsa and peppers I want while I perfect my sauce making abilities.

I also needed to pick up the ingredients for the frappe. I pulled out my phone, pulled up my Pinterest app, found the posting and was astonished to find that I already had all the ingredients at home, with the exception of whip cream. Then it hit me.... I've been paying $3.99 for a small amount of coffee, ice, sugar, and chocolate sauce?  WHHHAAAAAT???

You can find the link for the recipe HERE - just note: You will want to go ahead and put some coffee on so you can get it chilled before you actually get ready to make one.


1/4 cup cold coffee
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup ice
1 1/2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1/2 to taste whipped cream


Add ingredients to blender.
Blend until the ingredients are at a smooth consistency.


My review? Delicious! I will never pay for them again! Like EVER! You can vary the coffee or chocolate syrup amounts depending on the flavor you prefer. They are SUPER simple to make. How cost efficient can it be!

I forsee myself making a pot in the morning to have a cup with breakfast. Instead of wasting the leftovers, I can chill my coffee and make a yummy treat for later!

Thank you to the people at for a GREAT do it yourself frappe recipe!

On that note... I'm off to spend some time with my baby and finish some chores before I head to Orlando for a girls night with some ladies I adore, NKOTB, Boyz II Men, and 98 Degrees..... Ah yes... I feel my inner teenage girl coming through!!!!!
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18 June, 2013


I have a special board set up on my Pinterest account that my hubby has access to. I love to cook - and I especially like to cook things that my husband finds yummy. He is an excellent cook himself, so I can always trust that he's picked something good - and if I don't know how to make it, I can usually get him in the kitchen to show me how to do it. Case in point, last night's dinner.

We found this recipe for General Tso's Meatballs and hubby pinned it to his board. I don't fry - and the meatballs are fried in this recipe. You CAN bake them in the oven, but they don't get that yummy crispy exterior if you bake them.

This recipe as it is listed is ALSO gluten free and low carb. If you're in to that, it's perfect. We are not. Yet.

Reading this recipe I actually had to google "xanthan gum". In the gluten free world it's a thickening agent. In MY world that's cornstarch, and since I have used cornstarch in a few of my other Asian inspired recipes, I figured it would be safe to swap those out.

I did not use tamari, for my soy sauce. Apparently tamari is gluten free. For us non gluten people, in case you were wondering, tamari is a dark soy, so if you have a recipe that calls for "dark soy" there you go. I used regular ol' kikkoman.

And that sugar substitute - well, I used regular sugar. No explanation necessary.

You can find the recipe here: General Tso's Meatballs on the blog I Breathe... I'm Hungry....

I should also tell you that we tripled the sauce on this too. I'm not sure if I did it right, because I thought it had a harsh vinegary taste on the back end, but overall it was good. I'd give it a 7 out of 10 spoons.

It's a fairly simple recipe to make. Mix ingredients, make into meatballs, fry.

While meat fries, mix ingredients for sauce, bring to boil, let simmer.

Plate food, enjoy.

No really, it's that simple - especially since hubby taught me to fry meatballs last night.

I also found that my macaw (who's also a big sauce lover) really enjoyed my rice, to the point that he climbed down off his chair, onto MY chair, and stole rice right off of my dinner plate. I'm fairly certain there's a health hazard in there, but I just try not to think about it.

Forgive my appearance... It was a long day, and I was tired.

Overall, this recipe was not my cup of tea. It's not that it was BAD, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Which is unfortunate.

My husband on the other hand really liked it. So, maybe it's more of a man's dish, or for people who aren't as picky as I can be.....

Give it a shot and let me know how YOU liked it! :)

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16 June, 2013

Gardening In Our Neck Of The City.....

It seems like every year of our marriage (all two and a half of them) my husband and I get into something new:

Year One: We were into reptiles.

Year Two: We were into paracord.

To Date: We are into gardening and frugal living - suburban style.

I'm finding that there are so many ENJOYABLE ways to cut costs and have quality family time. Being frugal no longer means being miserable and solely shopping at Goodwill. Though there is nothing wrong with solely shopping there, but I think a lot of people still think that you have to cut your cable and buy only second hand to live that way.

As I get deeper and deeper into this whole frugal living "craze", and maybe it's my age and some maturity (GASP!) sneaking in there too, I find that most of the things we take for granted really ARE luxuries. For instance, I walk into a mall now and I'm SHOCKED at what we pay for clothing. I am currently in need of some work appropriate clothing, but I REFUSE to shop at the mall for them - unless it's clearance. I have discovered that we have a FABULOUS second hand store here called Clothes Mentor that has all the name brand, high end stuff I could EVER want at some FANTASTIC prices.

I also stalk the Facebook groups that are local to my area. These are basically an ongoing online garage sale where people display items and negotiate prices. See my post HERE on how I scored brand new in the box Air Jordans for my baby girl for WAY below retail just a couple of months ago.

Last month I was able to purchase two beautiful Coach bags from a friend of mine for about $100.00. If you know anything about Coach, that's a STEAL! She was down sizing her collection and posted her bags on one of the Facebook groups. SCORE! SEE! Being frugal doesn't mean just shopping at Goodwill. Sometimes you have to be patient and seek out the deals. Voila! I've got my second Coach, and my daughter gets a Coach bag as well.

I have not geared up into couponing mode again as of yet. I AM however religiously buying my newspapers and getting my stock of coupon flyers built back up. Couponing takes a time investment (at least at the level I do it) that I don't have right now. SOON though, SOON! I will yet again be that annoying lady in front of you that has the stack of coupons and holds up the line forever. Until I get back into couponing mode, I will simply have to be satisfied with crying each and every time the cashier rings up my groceries - like this morning.

Okay, so on to what this post is really about:

The hubby and I decided that we should grow some veggies. We fully intended to it on a very small scale just to see how things went. Then again, we NEVER wind up doing ANYTHING on a small scale. So, needless to say, we have a yard full of all sorts of things, with plans for much much more depending on how the season goes.

We have grown flowers, vegetables, super hot peppers, and anything else we can get our hands on.

My husband has really gotten into the super hot peppers. By hot, I mean things that make jalapenos feel like you are eating a grape. Hot peppers are measured on what is called the Scoville Scale. A jalapeno rates about 3,500 units on the scale. We have peppers that are anywhere from one to two million. NO. I am not eating them. Ever. But I AM tempted to make some ridiculously hot salsa.

If you watch The Food Network the rage has been the Ghost Pepper. I've got some limited knowledge on the subject, but while the Ghost is still ungodly hot, there are several that have surpassed the heat of this pepper.

Here's a shot of some of my hubby's peppers:

I was able to harvest some of the peppers the other day and I am REALLY excited to find some recipes to use them in.

I am ANXIOUSLY waiting for my tomatoes and bell peppers to get a little bigger. I've already been looking for canning recipes. Homemade salsa and spaghetti sauce sounds GREAT!

I am ALSO anxiously waiting for my chickens to start laying. I can't wait for fresh brown eggs. Come on little guys, just a couple more months!

So that's my intro on our garden. I hope to have lots more updates for you as we go through the summer!post signature

09 May, 2013

Babies and Fur Babies.... The Irony!

Splinters... Ugh!! We've all had them. Do you remember as a kid how painful it was when your parents would poke your feet and pull splinters out? I do.

I had the distinct "pleasure" of removing one of those splinters from my wonderful, beautiful, and HIGHLY overly dramatic nine and a half year old who's the size of a 12 year old. I pretty much haven't been able to "hold her down" for anything since she was like three. That includes shots, ear exams, broken toe nails, hangnails, and of course, splinters. For my own safety, I haven't tried either. I'm fairly certain she could take me. Luckily SHE hasn't figured that out yet.

As luck would have it, it couldn't be one of those decent size ones you can just grab with tweezers, yank out, and then move on. It has to be one of those that are so small you can barely see it that goes down into the actual foot where all you can do is peel back little layers of skin until you can grab it. AND, it's not even in a toe, it's in the ball of her foot.

I have one of those kids who's well, just like me. You can get NEAR her foot with a needle and she's writhing and screaming in pain. Mind you, nobody has even touched her yet. I probably shouldn't complain because even at 34, the dentist STILL has to cover up the needles and drills before I can walk in the room - and we won't even talk about my tendency to purposely huff the nitrous gas so I'll be sure to be totally out of it before they work on me. (And yes, I still cry. I think I was 17 the last time my mother had to bust into a dental room because I could be heard in the waiting room.) So, truth be told, my kid TOTALLY comes by all of this honest.

After about 30 minutes, we got the little bugger out. How can such a itty bitty piece of wood cause SUCH drama?

Fast forward to later in the night when two of my dogs who are absolute buddies decide to rough house. They love to play and they love the fact they are both willing to play rough. One of these two is my husband's special girl. I'm convinced that if we divorced tomorrow I could have everything in the house and the bank account so long as he got his dog. So, we left her inside for a few minutes of special "daddy time" and sent her sissy, the Wheaton Terrier mix affectionately referred to as "The Wookie" to bed.

Here's a photo to to explain why she's called "The Wookie":

Yep, that's a dog... one giant mass of red hair. The pic on the left is her first night home with us after coming out of Animal Control. On the Right is after a while at home with us. Note: While she's loving on me in THIS photo, she actually LOVES my husband. She's just one of those dogs that gravitates to men, and Gabrielle.

Anyways, I digress......

So, Gabby and Wookie have their little rough housing match. Hubby tells the girls to calm down and Wookie goes to bed. Gabby hangs around in the office with the hubby for ear scratches and belly rubs from Daddy. As Todd rubs her ears, he slides his hands down her "chops" - and hold the phone, we've got some blood. So, being the good dog parents we are, we rush to the kitchen and find a little more blood than we are comfortable with.

I straddle this 80 pounds of big black dog and wipe her mouth out with a paper towel so we can see where it's coming from. No dice. I tell my hubby he'll need to get Gabby to lay down so I can inspect closer. Gabby lays in the middle of the kitchen floor (because my kitchen lights could guide airplanes in) and I proceed to wipe out the blood. We find a couple of scratches in her lips and I proceed to do as I instructed numerous individuals on the 911 lines back in the day: "Take a clean dry cloth and apply pressure. If it keeps bleeding you aren't pressing hard enough. If it bleeds through, then apply another cloth on top of the first one".

Essentially I've got my hands in 80 pounds of a Rottweiler's mouth. They have REALLY big teeth in case you didn't know. My sweet little Gabby lays ever so still, licking my fingers. I can tell she's politely asking me to stop, but refuses to be angry at me. (WHY can't I be more like my dog?) After we finish with our procedure she's up, all kisses and loves. We are blessed.

The moral of my blog tonight is simply to tell you that I'd rather do surgery on my dog than on my kid. I'm kidding. I'm totally one of those moms who rolls up the sleeves and jumps in when I need to, I'm just fortunate that I also happen to be married to a man who does surgery on a daily basis when I need backup.

It's been an eventful night. I'm going to bed! Luckily tomorrow is Friday and I can look forward to a WONDERFUL weekend with my family! I'm SO excited for that one!
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