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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It's almost February so....

I've found a new outlet. Go figure.
In November, I was becoming a little burdened by cupcakes. I was spending an outrageous amount of time in the kitchen and reaping no rewards. My oven was starting to act funky, and everything I had learned how to do perfectly was being disturb by the constant needs of my girls.  The last straw came the week of Thanksgiving when I had an order for the day before Thanksgiving, and then I had to turn around and do another for the Saturday afterwards. Not to mention the need of cooking my family's Thanksgiving meal. I was exhausted!! Too many hours of standing, mixing, baking, cooling and icing. So, as of Dec 1, I put GG Cakes on the back burner. And I haven't turned on my mixer since. Ahhhhhhh

But we have a problem. I HAVE to have an outlet. Call it Type A, call it the need to keep my hands busy, or call it creative overload...but I had to find something.
So, for Christmas a girl that I work with gifted me a fun bracelet that I had my eye on for a few weeks. But I didn't want just one, I wanted more. So I pondered, bought some wire, and opened up my jewelry making bag (that had been collecting dust since before Miriam was born!), and found some beads.  That night I made another bracelet and what followed was momentous! I sent the picture to a friend, who sent it to her sister, her sent it to her boss.  Within 24 hours, I was now slated to make 20 bangles to carry in her store. Then we decided to do some shotgun shells, and those have flown out the window like crazy.  Thus, SWEET SOUTHERN BANGLES was created. I've been sharing the creative, financial, and marketing responsibilities with a good friend of mine who's in the same life place as I am (born and raised in South Carolina, married with 2 young girls, stay at home/part time working moms and we love Jesus).  It's been a whirlwind of a few weeks, but we're having a blast making these. Here are just a few of our favorites.
We can do gold or silver for you!

The Hollywood

I love this stack! From top to bottom: The Dillon, The Pelion, The Gaffney, and The Olanta)

Our famous Shotgun Shell & Pearl - every southern girl needs one!


The Prosperity

The Hartsville

The Clover



If you'd like to order any of them, email us at sweetsouthernbangles@gmail.com!  You can also follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see the newest creations and be the first to know of any specials.

What's your favorite? What would you like for us to make?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hey Mom, it's me again....

The reason I started this blog was to continue where I left off from mom's caringbridge site.  While she was sick, I'd update that frequently and give insight to what was going on.  When she died, I no longer felt the need to post my thoughts there, so I created this blog....in hopes to share dreams, life lessons, stories of my life, and overload pictures of my adorable family.

I never really thought I'd be back at writing again, from the perspective of someone helping someone else endure their season of "C". But I am.

On November, my dear sweet mother in law, Debbie (aka "Nana") had a routine exam with her doctor and it was then that he discovered something that shouldn't be there.  She had an ultrasound which uncovered what was initially thought to be a small mass.  After some testing and other discussion, it was decided to move forward rather quickly to surgery for removal of the mass, which was the Thursday before Thanksgiving.  At that time, a mass that looked HUGE (9x9x3) was taken and then tested.  After this surgery, we had been given several words of encouragement "it all looks good from what I can tell..."

But, the next Tuesday (just days after the surgery and two days before Thanksgiving, she was called into the doctor's office for discussion of the recently received path report: malignancy in the right ovary. That huge mass...inside of it there was a bunch of cancer crap. Living there. In her body. The horror!

Blind sighted. Is this really happening? Are you kidding me?!

I'd say that I've been in shock most of this time, but did have a sense of emotion and weepiness overtake me today.  She had her first appointment with the gynecological oncologist/surgeon to discuss what happens next.  I had to go back to that cancer center where I had been so many times before with mom, but this time, with Nana.
So, here we are - on a new journey. When that seems sickeningly familiar, but yet one that I have no clue how the ride will be. What I do know, is the same God that was with David, the same God that was with his Son, and the same God that was with us with Mom's cancer, is and will be with us in this season.

God, thank you for protecting us and providing for us.
Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. Philippians 4:4

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

78 days

That's how long it's been since I've actually even thought to write any post. And I'm just in time. I guess officially, summer is over in the next few hours. WHERE DID IT GO?! I start back to school with a few teacher days this week and next, then we are in full swing the week of Labor Day. Not that I'm not excited to get back, it's just, well, I HEART summer with all I have.  I never really had a "summer" until last year, and even then I felt like I was barely making it through each day with my crazy 2 year old and still somewhat new baby.  It's really all a blur of whatever summer was last year, but I can confidently say that this summer made me fall in love with all things summer: pjs, lazy days, play dates, errands together, park time, beach vacations, lots of car traveling, and any thing else we did. Some of my most favorite memories:

1. Early in June I was in the Dollar General looking for something specific, I'm sure, but I ran across a box of those frozen pops with a REBATE offer! Cha-ching! I bought those bad boys and only spent $.63 after it was all said and done. Then, every day after Lydia went down for a nap, Miriam and I would share about 15 minutes on the porch eating our popsicles and rocking in the chairs. Sometimes we'd sing, sometimes we'd talk, other times we just sat there. She looked forward to it every day. And if for some reason she was more disobedient one day, she unfortunately lost her popsicle privilege.  Those were HARD days! But for the most part, we've enjoyed all but 3 or 4 still in the freezer. Way to capitalize!

2. We practiced writing Miriam's name - and while those moments were probably more frustrating than successful, I've seen such growth in my little girl. She really is growing, even if she still manifests a little difficulty with her attention span!

3.  Lydia has been learning to say a few words, finally! We were discouraged when we discovered she had some hearing loss that the fluid in her ears and tubes all contributed to, but she has been so precious to watch a language unfold.

4.  Sometimes at our breaking point, like today, we piled in the car and headed to Target.  Buy popcorn (split into two bags), and an icee that all 3 of us manage to share and we are all placated for about an hour. Such a perfect idea.

5. I finally painted Miriam's toes this summer.  We're typically so busy that I am always too late remembering to do it, but we had so much fun with purple and pink.  I don't, however, think I'll be taking her to get a real pedicure anytime soon. No way I need to pay $$ for anyone to do that when we can do it at home! :)

6. M enjoyed a few weeks of swim lessons with her new best friend, Ms Danielle.  She started out pretty rocky, but learned and progressed so well throughout the weeks. We were so sad when they had to come to an end.

7.  We finally were able to put the double bob stroller into action!! Glad to say that I feel confidant we have already gotten our money's worth out of it just this summer alone. But it is NOT easy running 4 miles in our neighborhood, with the hills, pushing 75+ pounds.

8. Us three girls did a lot of traveling along this summer, to the beach and to the mountains.  I spent two very hard weeks in different environments caring for my adventurous girls and I was exhausted!! I really hated not having J around to help, but oh so glad he will join us on another family beach trip in September to Hilton Head!

9. At meal times,we're able to slow down, talk about the day, learn heartfelt prayers, and really communicate with one another without having to race off to our destination.  Though my body is geared for the busy, my mind really relishes in the slowness.  My children are able to witness more Christ-like actions from me because I'm able to consciously think about them. I am preparing myself for the upcoming school year, that I will continue in this summer "habit," rather than falling back into old habits of always rushing and not paying attention to the important things.

10.  We had lots of scavenger hunts for things outside, things inside, learned why things do what they do and how they do them, met many new friends, played with lots of our other friends, celebrated birthdays and special times together, rode horses, learned praise songs, watched Pete's Dragon and Charlotte's Web a few times, spent too much some money, enjoyed the outdoors, and a host of other things.  But I certainly didn't take a lot of pictures. I was a little too busy to do that....

And while we didn't do exactly everything I had in mind for this summer, I don't regret how we spent a single day.  Summer 2013, you were a blast and such a therapeutic tool for this wild family.  I will cling to you as long as I can...and when I can't anymore, I'll enjoy the busyness of life until your partner, Summer 2014 comes around.
Here's a picture that I actually did take. And of course, neither of the girls really cared that I wanted to take a picture. Oh well.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Deep Thoughts from Summer 2013...

We're in the start of week 2 of our summer break and I'm in heaven! Sleeping in, no showers in the morning, coffee at my leisure, and two HILARIOUSLY busy girls.  We've been staying busy with this and that and loving every minute of it.  But in the meantime, there's a lot of down time chaos play time that I distance myself from for just a quick breather.  It's in these times I reflect on the day and come up with some fun thoughts and activities that we've done that I don't want to forget.
1. I hate bath toys that have holes in them. They get water in them, sit, and mildew and then squirt crap all over in the tub. Gross. Aren't there any bath toys that don't do this?!
2. I was THAT mom that kept her kids out past nap time today in the grocery store and bribed them not to eat the steering wheel on the "fun buggy" or else they wouldn't get a celebratory cookie upon leaving.
3.  I was also THAT parent that put the kids in buckled seats in front of the TV, WITH cheese puffs, so that I could take a measly sub 5 min shower after my run which made me disguisting.
4. I let my girls play in panties and diapers at the water table the other night. And didn't feel like a bad member of society...until the next morning we noticed the bagillion bug bites on both of them. Lesson learned.
5. I have to be a closet snacker, or no snacker at all around my kids.  If they hear the pantry door, they race to it.  If they see my mouth moving, they want what's in it too.  Either there will be no more snacking in my future or I'll just be hiding oreos and cashews in the back bedroom.
6. I crave restaurant food WAY more than I need to now, just because all we ever eat is food at home. Would love for our budget to open up a bit more, and get more exciting dining times in our life, just like once or twice a week at lunchtime would suffice, I promise!
7. We took a hospital tour today in a horrible double stroller.  I'd rather forget that activity.
8. This house cannot contain us.  We are all busy bodies and HAVE to be doing something.  The inside just isn't a word that is comparable to our family.
9. M and I enjoy about 15-20 outside each day to get a suntan.  We go out right after L goes down for a nap.  She's perfectly content, still, and rests right with me. She loves the sun too - YAY!
10.  I apparently enjoy mixed beverages when it gets warmer.  Move over Moscato - come on down, Malibu!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The week of February that I hate


If it weren't for Lydia's birthday on the 11th, I'd seriously just wish the entire month of February to go away, disappear, just skip straight to March. I'd love to say that I've moved on, but I haven't.  When this time rolls around, I get bitter, emotional, sad, upset, and just flat out angry.
I absolutely can't stand Valentines Day. It ranks right up there with Halloween. I could care less about teddy bears, flowers, and heart candy. Seriously - and this year it only got worse. Everybody's all "date night with the hubby" or "I'm totally loved" blah blah blah.   J and I always boycott. But I also know that when Valentines day comes, the week that lies ahead is only going to get worse.

There are many days in the month of February that I relive so vividly now that I would honestly choose not to have ever experienced.  If you ask me, I can pretty much tell you what I was doing, what I was wearing, what I ate, and where I was on any of those days.  Truth is, it actually starts back in January.  On January 24, 2009, my life started to change drastically. Mom hit one of the lowest points in her illness, and from that day on, declined in her health to her death. She had a stroke, seizure, or something (it was never really determined/clarified).  You can read about everything for yourself at her caringbridge site if you'd like (but grab some kleenex, I can't make any promises for dry eyes!).  Not only are these past weeks so hard to relive, but these next 4-7 days are so bitter for my memory. I get a day like today and think "this was the last day 4 years ago that I heard my mother speak", or a day like tomorrow and think about the sounds of the machines and her moaning from all of the pain, or the split second I literally watched my mother take in her last breath. It was hard to live in those moments, but it's even harder to relive them. While we were in the moment, we all knew what we were up against. We were waiting, patiently, for her departure confidant of the Rest that she would find.  We had already grieved the loss of our mother/wife/nana/friend in the 22 months prior to her death.  But as we relive the days, it's a reminder of the reality that my mother is dead.

Many folks have their opinion of what year is the hardest. Some say the first, others say the 3rd. But so far, for me, it's only proving to get harder. Having Miriam was certainly the biggest life change since mom's death (or ever probably!), and then, of course, the birth of Lydia so close to her death-iversary, and to have my daughters in life with me is sometimes difficult without having my mother around. I just miss her.

Please don't be mistaken, I have full assurance that my mother rests with Jesus. She was healed the moment her heart stopped beating and we were so grateful for God's mercy on her for that. But that doesn't make missing her any easier.  On February 19,2009 at 2:51 p.m. my momma died. I sat by her side, knelled over, I held my mom's left hand and watched her breathe her last breath. She's gone, and I can't bring her back. There is NOTHING easy about that.

I can only hope that the next week passes quickly and in a blur, we'll be moving on...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Recipes you want!

Glad I didn't make a new years resolution to keep the blog updated. Now I don't feel like such a failure...

but I HAVE been back in the kitchen since the holidays and have been thoroughly enjoying expanding my horizons and getting a bit away from cupcakes.  Actually, since Jan 1, I've only made 4 dozen cupcakes, and I'm okay with that, because we've certainly had our share of busy lately.  But on to the desired recipes you all have been wanting.  Most are super easy and you can do them while holding both children, talking on the phone to the hubs, painting your nails and drinking a glass of wine all at the same time.  Enjoy!!

HELLO DOLLY Bars (top picture below)
1.5 c graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1-2 cups of chocolate chips, white morsel, and/or butterscotch chips
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1. Preheat oven to 350.  Stir together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press firmly into an ungreased 9x13 dish.
2. Layer nuts, chips/morsels, and coconut over base. Pour condensed milk over to cover.
3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light brown. Cool on rack, then refrigerate before cutting into squares.
Photo: Menu tonight:Swiss chicken with steamed rice and hello dolly bars for dessert. Bestmeal in a while!
Swiss Chicken (bottom picture above)
6-8 chicken breasts(skinless/boneless)

6-8 slices swiss cheese
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup butter melted
3 cups prepared Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing mix
Place chicken breasts in a greased 91/2x15 inch pan. Top each breast with a slice of cheese. Dilute soup with 103/4 oz. water and add wine. Mix well and pour over chicken. Toss butter with stuffing mix and sprinkle over chicken. Bake for 2 hours @ 300. (Or for 45 minutes at 425).

Fresh Crescent rolls (from my friend Pam at BSF)- Her's looked professionally crescented, AND tasted good, but mine just tasted good. and I'm okay with that!
Photo: 2nd night this week with homemade bread. From scratch gives me an excuse to eat more, right?

1 cup milk
3 T. butter
2 ¾ to 3 ¼ cups flour (I use half white,  half wheat)
¼ cup sugar (or honey)
1 t. salt
2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
1 egg
1.       In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter until very warm (120° to 130°). 
2.       In large bowl, blend warm liquid, 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, yeast and egg at low speed until moistened.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough. 
3.       On floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. 
4.       Place dough in greased bowl, turn greased-side-up.  Cover and let rise in warm place until about doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes. 
5.       Punch dough down.  On floured surface, toss dough lightly until no longer sticky.  Make into rolls.
For crescent rolls:
Roll dough into 15 inch circle.  If you’d like you may brush dough circle with melted butter, but this is not necessary.  Cut into 16 wedges.  Starting with wide end, roll up each wedge toward point.  Place point underneath on greased cookie sheet, curving ends to form crescent shape.
6.       Bake in 400° oven 10-13 minutes or until golden brown and rolls sound hollow when lightly tapped.  Remove from pan and cool. and devour.


I can't wait to try these other recipes I found on Pinterest soon:

Chicken and Cheese lasagna roll ups
Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole
Buffalo Chicken Bites

What are you cooking/baking these days? Please share!!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Alathea Christmas



When I was a new high school graduate, my mom must have been crazy.  She let me hop in an Isuzu Rodeo with 3 girls and a bunch of instruments and hit the road with way too many destinations in sight.  I traveled with a group called Alathea (Greek for Truth)...a Christian folkish band of all girls and some Tennessian flare.  We drove all over the country, as far north as Chicago, south to Florida, and out west to Texas, then even into Mexico for a week or so.  I had A BLAST (understatement!) playing alongside these sweet girls and getting to know them, and traveling the country. I came back in one piece, kept in touch, and even did some traveling the next summer.  These girls are my favorite.  I can't believe it's been close to 12 years since we first met and SO much has changed: we've lost many many dear loved ones, all gotten married, and some of us have even had babies.  To which I dedicate this post to - Baby Boy Burton Langley, born today, December 18 (shares a birthday with lots of folks like Kimberly (best friend from college), Brad Pitt, Katie Holmes and Stephen Spielberg...wow, lucky boy).


Burton wasn't supposed to join us in the world until 2013, but apparently, if you have any connection to the group Alathea, you tend to have early babies (ALL of our children have been born before their time...). Thankfully, Burton is just happy to be in the world, and to see his momma and daddy's face up close and personal.  But being one with two preemies on my hands,we all know their health and safety can change in an instant, so please join with me as I pray for continued good healthy for Burton and arrival home for Christmas. Claiming that today!


And in honor of him, I'm celebrating by giving YOU a chance to win their Christmas Album released a few years back that is a staple in my Christmas collection.
  I know we're cutting it close to Christmas, but still, it's a wonderful album...and according to my momma who always liked to listen to Christmas music AFTER Thanksgiving up until New Years Day, you can still get it in time to enjoy.  So I can drop it in the mail and share the love.  Then, you can head on over to Alathea's website, order more music (and anticipate their newest album, a Children's CD not just for Kids...coming out as soon as it can), and see if they'll be in your neck of the woods in the Spring or next Summer.

You have until Wednesday at 8 p.m. (EST) to enter by LEAVING A COMMENT telling me your favorite memory of Christmas or Christmas tradition. ** You can earn one more entry by liking their Alathea page on Facebook to keep up with all of the fun stuff (just leave another comment and let me know you liked them).
The winner will be done by random.org drawing.  Aaaand....GO!