Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ramblings of Family, Fun, Back to School and Dolly Parton...

Hi, friends!

Can you believe it is already on the backside of AUGUST!?!
My goodness, time just keeps flying by!
I hope this post finds you and your family all doing well, I do love all my sweet friends that I have made through this crazy blog. ❤

In normal Crazytowne fashion, it has been pretty busy around here!
I have started four different blog posts in the past three weeks & cannot for my life sit still long enough to finish any them!
So, for the sake of anything sane I decided to implement the Three C's here...Condense, Combine & Catch up in one quick rambling of a post (won't that be nice?)...

So, hey...here we go! 😉


Weekend getaway at Dollywood...

This past Christmas Santa brought the kids season passes to Dollywood as their "something to do" gift (the kids only get 4 gifts from Santa, smartest parenting move I've ever made) and we have been enjoying that beloved Dolly Parton all year long!




If you grew up in Tennessee in the 1980's, you might have had the opportunity to visit Opryland themepark (also called Opryland USA) in Nashville. We were VERY lucky to live just 30 just minutes away and went several times a year. My sister and I have the fondest childhood memories of visiting Opryland and share a true, unwavering hatred for it's replacement...Opry Mills...(hiss, spit)!

Dollywood is similar to Opryland in a lot of ways;
it's small,
slower paced,
and all sorts of wonderful bluegrass & country.

Last year, she & I decided it was time to make Dollywood our children's Opryland (and instead of that short 30 minute drive, we're hauling them three hours to Gatlinburg)...but the memories they are making with family are so worth it!






Most definitely, my favorite thing about our Dollywood trips has been staying at the new Dollywood Dreammore Resort!

Oh, friends!!

It is FABULOUS!

It reminds me of a Disney resort.

They offer all sorts of perks to their guests for visiting the Dollywood themepark, like free timesaver passes (like fast pass but a little bit better), free shuttle rides to the park, etc; in addition to a full schedule of events at the hotel like park ranger talks, kids crafts and nightly S'MORES down by the pool (they had me at s'mores).

The hotel itself is just gorgeous! They have a lovely outdoor pool with a lazy river and little kid water spout area, heated indoor pool, an beautiful spa, a huge kid's game room, a workout center, coffee shop, gift shop, ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS buffet restaurant downstairs and tons of really neat memorabilia from Dolly Parton's career.

I think my favorite part though, this hotel is staffed by precious LOCAL people. I always have goosebumps when I am there and realize how many jobs Dolly is providing for her community! These are good country people who are incredibly proud of their East Tennessee roots. If you've been wanting to take a trip to Gatlinburg, I have to HIGHLY recommend this beautiful hotel!




Back to School Meal Prep & FREEZING Food...

School has started here & CRAZY came right along with it!

Last weekend I got in survival mode & broke out my Pioneer Woman's Dinnertime Cookbook to get myself in the right frame of mind!


Busy Mamas, if you do not have this cookbook you need to order it RIGHT NOW!

In January the freezer went out on the fridge in our kitchen and being the absolutely spoiled rotten mama that I am, it totally screwed up my groove because...

FROZEN FOOD is my life!



I have been so incredibly grateful to my hard working husband getting us a new fridge this summer (especially after we found out that fixing the broken freezer on our other would cost about as much as a new fridge anyway, ridic!!).

I could write a very long post about my love for this Dinnertime cookbook, but I won't.
I will just say that I do a lot of the things that Ree does: stocking her pantry with staples and prepping food to freeze and it makes my life so much easier!

For example: I buy a HUGE package of ground beef at Sam's Club and cook it all at one time. When it has been drained and cooled I put it in gallon ziplock freezer bags and label them for the freezer as "Beef for tacos, spaghetti, chili etc". I also do a few with beef and sausage browned together for dishes like lasagna or manicotti.

In addition to meat, I also do a lot of veggie prepping to freeze. I buy monster bags of carrots, celery & I especially love it when I can get my hands on about 50 ears of homegrown corn to cream. If it looks like we are not going to eat all those bananas before they go bad, I break them in half & toss those jokers in a freezer bag as well for quick smoothies.

(&I cannot even begin to describe the wave of relief I feel some days to open that freezer and see that I don't have to stand in the kitchen and chop carrots or potatoes for a dish!!)...

That one day of meal prep time that I carve out is always TIME WELL SPENT!

If you lay your ziplock bag down flat in the freezer, it will freeze that way and be slim and sassy and save you all kinds of valuable space in your freezer.



Probably my FAVORITE freezable food is BREAD!! I buy four loaves of sandwich bread every time I go to Sam's & immediately put it in the freezer. If French bread is on sale in the bakery, I grab 2-3 of them, Hawaiian bread (which makes the most divine little ham roll sammich), hot dog buns BOGO, rolls, etc...I have our garage freezer stocked full of bread & it makes my life SO much easier!!

Meal prep & freezer food is a HUGE time saver when the going gets crazy during the school year, especially on days that you FINALLY get everyone picked up from all their stuff & arrive home to realize you've not given one thought to what you might fix for dinner!

Meal prep day is a busy mama's very best friend!
Add one to your calendar soon, you will not be sorry!

I just noticed that PW has a NEW cookbook coming out in October, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! You can pre-order it on Amazon right now for $20.39 (regular $29.99). This would be a GREAT Christmas gift for any mama or teacher on your list!


And Speaking of Books...

One of the highlights of my summer was serving on a launch team for Melanie Shankle's newest book coming out in October, Church of the Small Things (you can pre-order now on Amazon).


If you're not familiar with Melanie, she is the author of Big Mama Blog (so funny) and three delightful books: Sparkly Green Earrings, The Antelope in the Living Room, and Nobody's Cuter Than You (also SO funny).

Part of my commitment to the launch is sharing a review on social media outlets.
I will be sharing a post exclusively about this book next month. This one is really special, I'm excited to share it with my book nerd buddies! 😉


Other News & Notables...


Miss O turned 15 this summer...



It seems like just last week when she made her first blog appearance seven years ago.



Don't blink, friends!
Don't blink!

And we've made some exciting additions to our backyard!

Backyard Beekeeping...



And Backyard Chickens!


They have both been pretty fun so far, but I am becoming impatient to get some eggs!!!!
Any chicken whisperers out there?!?!

All in all...
we've just been trying to keep it as simple as possible out here & enjoy precious everyday moments.








At the end of the day, that's what it's really about anyway.

If you're still reading way down here...
I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit!

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying those precious everyday moments too!

Much love,
Mwah!

Mandy








Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stylish Southern Mama Summer Staples

Hi, friends!!
I'm so glad you stopped by!

Today I'm teaming up with Nordstrom and sharing some
Stylish Southern Mama Summer Staples!

You might remember, this spring I expressed my lack of love for the off the shoulder & that cold shoulder trend, I just have no love...I don't know why.😂
I have to say,
I was VERY surprised to find that I DO have love for the ONE shoulder trend...

I don't feel quite so naked, like I can pull that one shoulder sleeve up to my collarbone & feel like the conservative semi-senior citizen that I am. 😉
Ha!

Check out some of this sassy Nordstrom goodness that I have found this summer!
(always free shipping & free returns)
(affiliate links included in this post)


These Vince Camuto Ruffle One Shoulder Tops...oh, my!
They are DARLING!!
I LOVE how it has some length and the ruffle makes it easy to wear without a bra (yippee)!
It runs large, so make sure you check the sizing.

Blue Ikat Stars Ruffle Top (might be too thin to go braless, but still so fun)


Pinstripe Banded Ruffle Top (so sassy!!!)



I have bought a few things in the past year that are Madewell brand (which I think is a JCrew company). I REALLY like this brand & the quality is SOOOO GOOOD!

I have one of their tees...it has washed up so well, no piling, no fuzzing!



And these darling raw edge pull on shorts...
get in my closet!!!




Olivia picked out this cute cold shoulder dress by French Connection.
I don't love the cold shoulder look, but this dress was really cute on her (& it's half price right now).




I clearly have a thing for railroad stripes...
I bought this dress for graduation & it is the cutest thing!

This dress is nice quality & really cute on (the blue is much brighter in person)!
It is junior sizing, (I'm wear the large & it's just right).




Y'all know I am the cheapest person alive...
(so you will believe me when I say that this strapless bra is worth every penny!)

I actually bought it,
talked myself out of it,
sent it back (because mama don't spend $65 on a bra),
then saw it in the store & bought it again...

It's awesome!!
It's smooth seamed, stays put, it has removable straps that can be worn conventionally, halter style or crossed in back. I'm normally at 36B, but bought the 36C & it is the best bra ever!!!!!

Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless Bra...seriously, y'all...BUY ONE!!!




I have had several compliments on these gorgeous beaded earrings that I found recently.
Panacea Beaded Earrings just $18!

I will be buying this brand again, they're great quality & are so pretty!



I bought them to go with this top (which is sold out at the moment but might come back in stock soon, so check back).
For the price, it was really cute!
(& does it not look perfect with those earrings!?!?)



It fits me, but the style is so generous (without being frumpy) that it fits Olivia also.



We also picked up these AWESOME Raw Hem Denim Shorts!
They fit Olivia perfectly & I'm tempted to buy some for myself (except for the part where nobody wants to see that much elderly leg...).



I also bought her the blue boyfriend shorts as well.
They look trendy, but they don't look floozy
(mama prefers young ladies in non-floozy shorts, please).



If you love shorts in the summer, these are GREAT quality shorts for $39!

THIS is by far my favorite purchase this summer!
It comes in several colors...Black, Navy, Burgundy, White, Blue Stripe & this FABULOUS Black Gingham (that will be so fetching paired with some white jeans and big orange accessories on game days this fall)....😉

It's $59, but I really LOVE it so it's worth the money to me.
It's such a fun top (that I may or may not be wearing a bra with, I'll never say).
Order one, you will LOVE IT!



Well, that's all I have to share this time.
But, I will be back soon to share some summer to fall transition finds (because it stays in the 90's here well into October...holy mercy).

I'm so glad you stopped by to visit!
I have missed sharing since I closed down my Stylish Southern Mama blog.
(that was just not me, y'all...
I love to shop, but I don't shop all the time).
I plan to share at least once a month right here on Crafty Southern Mama, so let me know if you are hunting for anything special & I'll keep an eye out for it.

Have a beautiful summer Sunday!!
Mwah!!

Mandy






Friday, June 16, 2017

{Easy} Zucchini Nut Muffin Recipe


Happy Friday, friends!

Olivia had a couple of friends over last night for a sleepover and this morning I whipped up a batch of my easy zucchini nut muffins for breakfast. They are SO good & I get asked for the recipe all the time, so I thought I would share it here on the blog with you guys.



This one is not anything fancy.
Last summer, I googled to find a zucchini bread recipe when our CSA box contained more zucchini than my kids would eat at dinner.

Since then, I've tweaked it QUITE A BIT to cut the sugar down & try to make it more healthy. I add just a NIBBLE of diced chocolate chips to them (to distract little people from the heaping three cups of shredded zucchini), my kids will GOBBLE these up every time I make them!!


Easy Zucchini nut Muffin Recipe

Prep time:
  • Prep | 20 m
  • Cook | 20 m
  • Ready in | 40 m
  • Freezer Friendly
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup diced chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2-3 cups shredded zucchini
Procedure:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pecans and chocolate chips in medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat eggs, add sugar, brown sugar, oil. Mix well. Add zucchini. Pour into flour mixture. Mix well to combine. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.

Enjoy for breakfast or a snack, anytime! Freeze left over muffins for quick breakfast options, microwave 30 seconds from frozen.





This recipe makes two dozen muffins.
I use my square muffin pans, two pans fit side by side in the oven at the same time.

Normally, when they're done I set aside one pan to freeze. I just remove them from the pan, placing them in a flat layer in a ziplock bag. They make a great quick breakfast on a busy morning!

Do you have a favorite recipe to share?
I would LOVE to try some new stuff around here!
Please share your recipes here in the comments or over on my Facebook page.

I'm hopping up to get some things done before my nephews arrive to swim.
Little boy adventures all day long, friends!
I love it!!

Happy Father's Day weekend!

Mwah,
Mandy



Thursday, June 1, 2017

We Got Ourselves a GRAD! Class of 2017!!

Well, folks it happened!

The daydream I had about being a lifelong mommy of little darling chicklets came to an abrupt end this past weekend when our biggest little darling walked through the line on his beloved football field with his friends and was given a diploma!


Our whole family attended!
A lot of those people cried.

I did not.
{that part came later & again yesterday & will probably happen again before Friday}...

May is ALWAYS a tough month at our house.
But this year, addition all the end of the year stress, projects due, softball games, baseball practice, graduation preparations & events...there was also a very, very bad case of "Senioritis".
HOLY Mercy!

{Let's just say that the said graduate is lucky he lived to see the day, because his mama about choked him!}




Despite whipping wind and the threat of rain (& it did sprinkle for about five minutes)...
it was a perfect morning & EVERYBODY was excited and proud!

I'm very thankful that so many people who love Owen showed up to share that special day!

*I must note here that my SISTER, who is Owen's BIGGEST FAN and her little family were in attendance but had already gone to the car to miss the swarm of the crowd...I am sick that we did not get one picture with them!! We were going to do it when we got back to the house & then I completely forgot because everyone was starving!! We will be doing a staged photo at a later date to document their attendance. ;)






It's hard to believe it's really over.
But yesterday, I took Olivia to softball & there was the football team all cranked up having their first summer practice...

I scanned the parking lot & Owen's car was not there...

Sigh...







Like it or not,
the page turned on May 27th...
and a new chapter has begun.

{And I'm probably going to cry 65 more times before my wimpy heart starts to accept it.}

{does anyone have a tissue?}

I'm so proud of this beautiful boy with a heart of gold,
I know he's going to do wonderful things with his life.

Congratulations to all our 2017 Grads!!
We are so proud of you all!

Thanks for popping in to visit.

I'll be back soon to share a quick tutorial on how to make these super cute little softball mason jars.



Have beautiful Thursday, friends!

Mwah,
Mandy






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