MERRY BLOGMAS, 12 Days of Christmas Extravaganza

For 12 days in December, 12 of us bloggers are teaming up to give you TONS of holiday ideas plus 2 HUGE Holiday Prizes. Check back on December 1st for more information. You can find us tweeting using #merryblogmas. Also we will be hosting a Twitter party. More details coming soon!

In the meantime, you can check out each of the blogs:

Alyssa from Babies, Bloodhounds and Booze | Amee from Inspired Housewife | Ana from Mommy’s Bundle | Cajun from Blooming in Bedlam | Denise from StL Motherhood | Joanna from Motherhood and Merlot | Josi from American Mama | Julie from Girl on the Move | Lauren from Twin Tested, Pin Approved | Lisa from Goofball Mommy | Lisa from Lisa Kerr | Phyllis from Verified Mom


Holiday Gift Guide

My friend Ana at Mommy’s Bundle has a great Holiday Gift Guide for Babies and Toddlers right now. If you aren’t feeling the rush of Black Friday, head over to her guide by clicking on the image and do a little pre-shopping for Cyber Monday. The best shopping when you have little ones is the kind you do in the comfort and sanity (or insanity) of your own home.

Thanksgiving Day Blessings: Sweet Potato Pie

Today I am thankful for Sweet Potato Pie. I went into the history and details of my pie-making (well a little bit anyways) in my Nanny’s Holiday post, but today for your tummy’s enjoyment I am going to share with you my Nanny’s recipes for Sweet Potato Pie and Chess Pie.




The recipes don’t look like anything special. They are written on pieces of notebook paper and stained with fallen ingredients and water spots. The ink is faded and the paper is crinkled. But they are the most treasured, special recipes in my life.

Here is Nanny’s recipe for Chess Pie:


1- 1 lb. box of brown sugar

4 eggs

 1 c. of milk

2 T. of plain (all-purpose) flour

1 t. of vanilla

1/2 stick of butter, melted

1 c. chopped nuts (pecans are preferred)

2 regular frozen pie crusts


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour and brown sugar together first. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a hand mixer until blended. Pour half of the mix into one of pie crusts, and the other half into the other pie crust. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. **On the recipe, it originally said to bake for 25-30 minutes. Nanny added the 40-45, so I go with that. The woman knew her pies.** Let the pies cool then slice and serve with whipped cream.

Now for the Sweet Potato Pie and the crown jewel of Thanksgiving.


Nanny’s Sweet Potato Pie:


2 c. mashed sweet potatoes (I boil mine fresh, but you can use the canned potatoes too)

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 stick of butter, melted

1 small can of evaporated milk

1 small package of Instant Vanilla Pudding

1 T. Vanilla

2 regular frozen pie crusts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients with a hand mixer until blended. Pour the mixture into the pie shells. Bake for about 30-40 minutes. These pies are best if chilled overnight and enjoyed the next day with whipped cream.

Nanny shared her cooking and her recipes with everyone, so I know she would love you to try them and enjoy them. They are the BEST!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Thanksgiving Day Blessings: Game Day, How NOT to Be “That Girl”

As I’ve mentioned before, or you know because you know my father or my fiance, we take sports seriously around my house. We watch ESPN more than any other channel. It usually is the default channel; you know that channel that is always on when you turn on the TV no matter what time of the day it is. I am very thankful that I grew up knowing about sports and watching them in person and on television. I know the basics of just about all sports and really know the ins and outs of the NFL and MLB. I’m a diehard 49ers and Braves fan and love game days. I also love watching my dad coach football for a local high school.


I grew up in a town where most of the girls were like me. Their dads watched sports, and most of us participated in sports in some fashion, on the field or cheering on the sidelines. I really didn’t understand that there were girls who grew up in households WITHOUT 24-7 ESPN?!?! I know right?! I didn’t know that it was possible for girls to not have dads that were sports fans. It was all I knew, and every man I knew watched sports.

So when I got to college and met those other girls, it was really hard to relate. I couldn’t stand hearing the “stupidity” coming out of their mouths. No there isn’t halftime in baseball. A touchdown is 6 points. They don’t throw flags in basketball. Ugh. But I realized that it wasn’t stupidity as much as it was the fact that they were never taught the game. And the LAST thing I want to do is explain sports to a girl that is over the age of 10. I don’t even really explain sports to my 4 year olds. They learn by watching and will continue to learn over the course of their young lives. They may not grow up to love sports like we do, but they will know the basics of this I’m certain. I’m also pretty certain they will love sports too because they scream louder than I do for the Niners sometimes.


Here’s what you need to ask yourself ladies. As you’re reading this post, are you finding that you aren’t a “sports girl?” Do you feel dumb when it comes to watching the game in the presence of yelling, screaming, buffoon-like men? Did you grow up in a house that had some other channel besides ESPN as the default channel? If so, don’t feel bad or blame yourselves. We all grow up in different ways. And I’m here to help because nothing goes with Thanksgiving more than football. And maybe a nap.

On Thanksgiving after the table is cleared and the food is eaten, or sometimes while you are eating, the men will slowly creep to the living room to lose themselves in the greatest of great traditions, the NFL on Turkey Day. I’m here to give you ladies a few suggestions on how not to be “that girl.” We all know the girl I’m talking about. The girl that tries to have conversations on 3rd downs in 4th quarters. The girl who acts like she has a clue but yells “Home Run!” While it’s okay to not be a fan or the “sports girl,” it is NOT okay to be the girl who chooses to take group photos during kick-off. For the sake of your relationships and a peaceful Thanksgiving, here are some ways to not be “that girl”:


1) If there is somewhere else to be, be there.

Maybe the ladies are gathering in a different room and watching Christmas movies or sharing family photos. Perhaps the children need a fun babysitter or the dishes need a good cleaning. There’s a chance Granny could use a walk around the neighborhood. If you have no interest in the game or have no clue what sport is even playing, it’s best, if at all possible, to remove yourself from the Game Day room. I may sound harsh but here’s the deal: these games are most likely rival games. In other words, THEY ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO THOSE WATCHING THEM. Especially if the men in your life are fans of the Niners, Seahawks, Bears, Lions, Cowboys, or Eagles. If you just murmured “who?” or had to google any of those teams, stay out of the living room/den/where the TV is. You will probably hear some language and displays of team-affection that you won’t be fond of anyways. I say this as the fiancee of a man whose celebration dance mimics a seizure.


2) If you have to be there, don’t ask questions.

My whole family, minus the little ones who will be banished to the play room (maybe… like I said they are all about some football right now. R stays glued to the TV on Sundays), will be watching the games starting at around lunch time. Football will be on all day and we will all be watching it. Trust me when I say that nothing aggravates someone who is really into a football game like questions. If you get bored or have nothing to do, bring a book or your tablet and say nothing. You’re allowed to speak if you contribute to the game conversation, but not if it is to ask a question like “Which team is the red one?” or “Why did he tackle him?” or “What are those yellow lines?” I just physically sighed after typing that. Seriously. If you don’t know diddly-squat about what is going on, then don’t play 50 questions to try to figure it out. Watch football on Saturdays to get your feet wet for a little bit or wikipedia some information. Your man may politely answer all of your questions, but the ones who don’t get to make out with you will certainly be silently wishing you get laryngitis.

3) Don’t pick a team.

For real. Don’t. At all. Especially because nine times out of ten “those girls” pick the team with the “cutest uniforms” or the “prettiest helmets” or the “hottest quarterback.” Not only do you sound like a dumb woman when you say it and a complete ditz, the looks have absolutely nothing to do with the game. You will get fifty thousand eye rolls for sure. If you cheer, cheer for your man’s team. It’s only polite. And if you bring pom-poms or wear anything resembling a cheerleading uniform, the women of the family will completely ostracize you and you might as well go find a NASCAR fan. That may be a good idea anyways. Those men have plenty of time to talk as the cars drive in loops around a track for hours.

4) You will thank me.

For 364 days of the year, you can be “that girl” and get away with it. But on Thanksgiving when you are with someone else’s family or your own family and they are really crazy about sports especially the NFL, it is in your best interest to follow my suggestions. The last thing you want to do is annoy the bejesus out of your in-laws. Most likely you will have someone else who is at the gathering who doesn’t like sports either. Find that person and bond with them. Then you can have your own Thanksgiving tradition that will revolve around something else. Also they can be your go-to family member at other gatherings.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time spent with family and friends eating and drinking and enjoying one another. I know they will love you and enjoy your presence no matter what, but sometimes it is important to realize that people take their football seriously and watch the game with the same passion that you have when you participate in your hobbies. And if all else fails, Black Friday starts early now, go shopping!

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and GO NINERS!

Thanksgiving Day Blessings: Nanny’s Holiday

Three years ago on November 24, we celebrated Thanksgiving. It was unlike any Thanksgiving we had ever experienced. Before, Thanksgivings were times of laughter and baking and football. This Thanksgiving was sad and drained and rushed and hectic.

My Nanny was the queen of Thanksgiving. She made almost everything in her little kitchen for the day. She stayed up all week it seemed getting ready for her meal, her pride and joy. She was in charge of the turkey and nearly all of the side dishes. And boy did she take charge! Her meals were huge and plentiful and absolutely delicious. She could cook like no other. This woman was made for Thanksgiving. Maybe it was that she grew up in a time where nothing was huge and plentiful. Maybe it was the countless hours watching Food Network. Maybe it was just something she was good at, something in her blood, but this woman knew how to cook. She also knew how to cook for a whole bunch of people. Our family isn’t big, but her meal reached beyond our dinner table feeding those in the church, the extended family, the neighborhood, and in the homeless shelters. My guess is that we didn’t even see half of the food she cooked leading up to Thanksgiving. I’m almost convinced she stored secret turkeys that she cooked for other families who couldn’t afford to have a meal. That was Nanny. Even when she was sick or tired, she still put others before herself and cooked for the hungry. My Nanny was one of a kind. If you need proof of how great she truly was, just read Sweet Arlene, my post all about my wonderful amazing grandmother.


Thanksgivings were a time that I got to spend in the kitchen with Nanny. She taught me exactly how to make Sweet Potato Pies and Chess Pies. I was given bigger jobs year after year until I was finally entrusted with the task of making my own. And that’s what I did three years ago on Thanksgiving. I made my own batch (and I mean batch… as in a dozen pies). But the reason I was making them wasn’t a happy one. The reason I was making them on this Thanksgiving is because my sweet Nanny was in the hospital and wasn’t able to be home for Thanksgiving.

I hadn’t been home the Thanksgiving before that. I was living in a different state. I wanted to be home and was miserable the entire day. My girls missed their one Thanksgiving they were meant to have with Nanny. They never got a chance to experience her Thanksgiving. I still feel very guilty that we weren’t there. Now Nanny was in the hospital and we were having Thanksgiving without her.


I talked with her several days before about Thanksgiving and my mom, who had surgery a few days before… talk about a crazy year, and about her getting out of the hospital for Thanksgiving. She was in for chemotherapy. Her cancer wasn’t bad, it was the chemo taking a toll on her that required a brief hospital stay. We were hopeful that this would be the end of the “c word” and everyone would be together on Thanksgiving and Christmas. She told me, “Lauren I just want to go home so bad. I just want to go home.” I assured her that she would be coming home soon. Little did I know, she didn’t mean her house.

That Thursday evening, my parents, aunt and uncle, and papa went to see Nanny in the hospital. My last conversation with her had been earlier in the day about green beans and pies. I could tell she didn’t feel good and kept the conversation brief. I was in her kitchen making her pies and her green beans and it wasn’t right. I told her I would see her when she got home and to feel better. I told her I loved her. That was it. That evening my family returned for a meal that tasted like tears. Nanny wasn’t breathing well. She had pneumonia. She was being transferred to ICU to be put on a ventilator so she could recover from the sickness faster. She would only be on the ventilator a day or two.

Two days later, two days after Thanksgiving, Nanny’s holiday, sweet Arlene went home.

Christmas sucked. Everything sucked. Nanny was gone and it wasn’t supposed to be that way.

The next Thanksgiving came and it tasted like tears too.

Last year tasted better. Nanny was there but it was her happiness that flavored the food and not the sadness of her absence.

We haven’t changed much. I still cook way too many pies. We buy a turkey from the church now (we had done this for a few years before her death too actually so it isn’t a huge deal). But all of the recipes and dishes are the same.

I still cry when I look at the recipes. But there is so much happiness. We have new faces at our tables. We have joy. We have peace. And we still have Nanny, in our food, in our conversation, in our laughter, and in our hearts. It is and will always be Nanny’s Holiday.



Happy Thanksgiving Nanny. We love you.

Thanksgiving Day Blessings: Inspiration, Beauty in the Outdoors

Today I am thankful for inspiration especially in the beauty of the outdoors. I love looking out my window and seeing God’s handiwork: The field across from my house that is full of birds picking off the leftovers from the harvest. The field behind my house where the old barn stands amidst overgrown grass. The trees that change with the season and sway in the breeze. The cats quietly basking in the sun. The blue sky with streaks made from airplanes flying overhead. The dogs barking at the neighbor’s horses and running freely in the their lot in the backyard. Kids laughing and smiling as they play on a crisp fall day.


There is so much beauty around us and it is easy for us to take it for granted. Stop and look around today. Get inspired to write or paint or cook by all that is around you. Or just sit still and enjoy what God has blessed us with. Take it all in. Breathe in the glory of God and be thankful that he has given us a beautiful home!


Thanksgiving Day Blessings: Soup and Salads, Fall Style

I am thankful for soup and salads. Sometimes I feel like food during the colder months is just so heavy. I love a good crisp salad or a warming hearty soup to make me feel like I’m not going to die from a sugar attack or fried food frenzy from all of the unhealthy foods that accompany winter weather. I have a few favorites on Pinterest that I want to share in a round-up with yall today. Hope you enjoy!

Each image in clickable and leads to the site, not the pin. You can find the pins on my November Pins Featured on TTPA board.

click map

Potato Soup Butternut Squash Salad Med Chicken Stew Harvest Cobb Salad Roasted Cauliflower Soup Apple Pecan Feta Salad Italian Chicken Veggie Soup Fall Harvest Salad


MT Tribe Showcase: Parenting Meltdowns

I’ve known today’s tribe member for a little while now since before our tribe days. I actually featured her in one of my very first Mommy Monday posts and have been following her blog ever since. Diana from Parenting Meltdowns is a mom who knows that raising kids can make you crazy, so you have to take time out for yourself.


My name is Diana Zee and I am a mother of three. I became a stay at home mom the day after I was laid off from my insurance job of seven years.  Being a mother was never part of my plans.  I was going to graduate with a business degree, work for a huge corporation that would pay me loads of money before starting my own business and traveling the world. I did achieve the first part but failed at the rest.  I’m so glad I did.  I am living a life that I never expected.  Even with the rip out my hair before gauging out my eyeballs moments that parenting sometimes comes with, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I set-up my website because I want to connect with other parents who like me, struggle with feelings of doubt and inadequacy. I blog about my everyday parenting moments the good, the bad and everything in between.  I try to find the humor in every situation. Sometimes I sprinkle in recipes and beauty tips.


Diana has amazing DIY recipes for skin care and beauty. One of my favorite posts is Ten Tips for Healthy Legs. You will love all of these tips to keep those legs looking amazing. Some of tips are exercises while others are smart ways to improve posture which in turn improve your circulation. You have to check them out!

And don’t forget to give Diana some social media love: