Date Your Partner

Dating is tricky and hard and fun and exciting and anxiety-inducing.  The last time I brought you dating tips, they were geared toward first dates.  If the first date goes well and things continue to progress, eventually you find yourself in a long-term relationship.  Honey, that is not where the work and the dating ends.  That is where it changes, but becomes even more important.

We hear it said all the time that relationships are hard work.  Sure, in a way…. but that work should be fun most of the time.  Dating your partner is part of the “work” we need to put into relationships.  This becomes more complicated when you have children, limited budgets, or heavy work schedules.  That’s why I’m here, friends… to give you some inspiration on dating the person with whom you share life.

Concerts. Going to see live music may not be the best choice for a first date, because you can’t get to know each other over booming speakers with drunk people bumping into you.  In an established relationship though, it can be so freeing to just let the music flow through you, to have a few drinks and just…vibe.  Thinking about the venue and seat choices can really make or break the experience.  Locally, we have a large venue that has cheaper lawn tickets.  Those allow for you to spread out a blanket and really relax or stand up and dance in your spot.  We also like to take advantage of a venue that has (pricey) suite seats, where the seats are in pairs and have plenty of space around them.  This fits every budget, because you can do anything from a hole in the wall bar with a jazz trio to a suite at an arena.  Choose a music act you both love, find seats that allow you to breathe, grab your partner’s hand, and let the music fill your heart.

Staycations.  When life has been busy and you haven’t had quality time with your partner in awhile, you can find yourself itching for a getaway.  There isn’t always time or money to hop on a plane and take a week (or even a weekend) trip.  Staycations are a great way to have a mini-getaway to reconnect. Drinks by the pool, dinner in the hotel restaurant, breakfast in bed….and let’s face it, hotel sex is just hot.  Choosing a walkable downtown area can provide lots of entertainment and dining options.  Going with a more resort-like location can mean the ultimate in relaxation.  Again, there’s something for every budget and also something for every timeframe.  Whether you can get away for one night or three, booking a nearby hotel is a great way to get the ultimate date night.

Brewery or winery visits.  If tasting and enjoying adult beverages is a part of your relationship like ours is, it is a natural choice to make a date of a brewery visit.  There are so many options these days for places where adult beverages are made.  Local craft breweries often have lawn games, trivia nights, live music, and more.  Some of them even partner with local restaurants and food trucks to bring culinary experiences to the brewery.  Wineries and even distilleries do similar things.  For a great date experience, you’ll want to first choose a place that has your favorite beverages, then look online for reviews so that you ensure you’re choosing a place with a fun vibe.  This is absolutely a low-cost date and if you are short on time, an hour or two is enough time to drink a beer flight and play a gigantic game of Jenga.

Getting out of the house is great, but sometimes, budget and child care concerns just don’t allow for it.  No worries, because some of our best date nights are right here in the house… sometimes with the kids home and sometimes without.

Romantic Night In.  Grill a nice steak, roast some asparagus, and pour a glass of wine.  Settling in for the evening can be done on any night of the week and if you have children, after they go to bed.  After dinner, flip off the lights and flip on the TV for some Netflix and chill (any definition of it you choose) with a bottle of wine.  Wrap up the night with a nice massage and some sexy time.  It really makes for the perfect night, even if it seems a bit cliché.

Backyard paradise.  Sure, it would be amazing to head off to a tropical paradise and sip cocktails in your private infinity pool.  That may not be an option for you on any given Friday evening, but there is another option.  Fill your inflatable kiddie pool with air and water early in the afternoon.  Turn on some string lights and bluetooth speakers.  By night, any kids are in bed and the water is warm.  With or without swimwear, you can now take a cocktail to the kiddie pool and enjoy the evening in your personal oasis.

No matter what you choose to do, having some time alone with your person is essential to maintaining and deepening your relationship.  Make it a priority and it will pay off.

Are any of these date ideas things you have done?  Did you get inspired to date your partner?

 

What We Wore Wednesday

Hey hey, it’s Wednesday! Happy July 4th to you, and welcome back to another installment of WWW wherein we show you guys some of the things we’ve been wearing!

*we may get paid when you shop from links in this post*

Ashley –

Shirt: Mixtape Boutique Pants: Old Navy Rockstar Skinnies Shoes: Target Earrings: N&S Pink

Shirt: Olddd Kohl’s from men’s section Pants: Old Navy Rockstars distressed black skinnies Shoes: Target Earrings: N&S Silver

Shirt: Mixtape Boutique Shorts: Target Denizen high waist Earrings: N&S Silver

Rhonda –

Tee: Twisted Buffalo Boutique. Shorts: Mixtape. Shoes: Target. Life-saving period pain relief clipped on my shorts: Livia. Earrings: Bauble Bar.

Top: Marshall’s. Shorts: Target, not available. Shoes: Target. Earrings: Nickel & Suede.

Tee: Mixtape. Shorts: Target, not available. Earrings: Nickel & Suede.

Life Lately

Hey hey! It’s Monday and time for another installment in our Life Lately series. We’re here today to fill you guys in on some of the details from our lives over the past couple of weeks. 🙂

Rhonda and I had a big week/weekend following our last Life Lately Update. I already wrote a post here detailing all the fun things she and I got to do. 🙂

Ashley –

Wellll it’s July. We’re halfway through summer break, and I’m not quite sure how that happened so quickly! The other day Shaun asked Coop if he was ready to go back to school and Cooper replied with a very quick and firm, “NO”, which cracked us up. LOL

Besides my much needed girl time with Rhonda – the kids and I have been keeping it pretty low key. It’s been a goal of mine to try and live local this summer – and soak up as much sunshine and beach time as possible.

We’ve for sure been taking advantage of all the splash pads around our hood. A splash pad is probably my favorite water activity because it really allows me to relax. I don’t have to worry about the kids drowning (ok so not as much as I’d worry at the beach or a pool) and they are the ones running around back and forth so I don’t have to repeatedly get up and down to assist them in some way or another.

We do have some fun big news: we are in the process of buying a house! It’s pretty dang exciting and a much needed thing in our life. I don’t want to spill too many details about it…just because we are still in the beginning stages and these things are never final until they’re final – but so far things have been moving along smoothly! I’ m just mainly excited to be closer to downtown Ocean Springs, and for the major increase in space. We will be going from a 1 bath two bedroom house that is just under 1000 sq ft to a 4 bedroom house at around 2200 sq ft. I. Can’t. Wait. Can we  get three cheers for  big closets and multiple bathrooms? Praise the lort.

So yeah. That’s what’s going on over here in Mississippi. What about you Rhonda?

Rhonda –

Since we homeschool and took a ton of time off in spring, we have been schooling through the summer.  Because of the way we do things (and the fact that it is hot and sunny through October), we don’t really have a concept of having a summer break.  We have been living our lives business as usual, but with lots of pool time.

As mentioned before, I went to Mississippi recently.  On the way to the coast, I stopped to see my nephew, who is seriously the cutest baby boy I’ve ever seen (and I had 3!).  As soon as I got to the coast, I had lunch with my eldest “son” Jonathan.  I used to be his manager and we developed a familial relationship that can’t be described.  Don’t we seriously look related though?!

You’ve read about our weekend here, but I didn’t want you to miss out on this important detail – I drank all the things.

Back at home, it was business as usual – work, work, work and school, school, school.  The glamorous life of a business-owning and homeschooling mom and all.

Speaking of glamour, our air went out this past week.  You know, on a triple digit Texas day.  While we waited for repairs, we borrowed a couple window units for sleeping and survived on cocktails, living in underwear, and time in the pool.  Even after our air was fixed , we continued to round out the weekend with more time in the pool. It’s such a great way to slow down and have time together as a family.

What have you guys been up to?  Anything exciting or blissfully routine?

Eat Happy: Almond Crusted Baked Cod

Hi there.  Welcome back! We’re doing a weekly series that publishes every Thursday wherein we are cooking through one of our FAVE cookbooks : Eat Happy! If you missed the intro post you can click on over here to read that.

We are starting with the very first recipe and working our way all the way through to the end. We will not be sharing with you the actual recipes that we cook. We WILL be sharing our experience during the whole process and our opinion of the outcome. So thanks for stopping by…and let’s dive in to this week’s recipe shall we?


When I realized that I was making fish again, I took a deep breath before remembering that Anna Vocino hasn’t steered us wrong yet.  I was definitely excited to go back to the fancy ass Kroger to get the fish, so it made it fun.

I will admit, to save some money and frustration, I took a few liberties with this recipe.  I already had almond flour, but no almond meal as the recipe calls for.  I looked at Kroger but they didn’t have any, so I decided to just roll with the flour rather than make another stop.  Instead of chopping fresh chives, I used lightly dried ones.  And shallots?  I’m not entirely sure what those are because I always just add more garlic instead.

Is there anything more satisfying than a big hunk of good butter melting in a pan?

Yes, there is.  It’s garlic sautéing in said butter. *drool*

Sometime in the middle of cooking, I sat down my champagne glass and it barely tapped the handle of the coffeemaker.  Unfortunately, that broke the glass.  I’m still not sure if I’m more upset about the glass being broken or the champagne wastage.

I have to say, this was the least stressful meal I’ve made from Eat Happy in quite awhile!  It was quick and easy to prepare and well, tasty as fuck.

I served the fish with tomato slices marinated in balsamic vinegar and topped with mozzarella, baked and and finished with a quick broil.  Delicious!

What We Wore Wednesday

Welcome back to our weekly installment where we show you what we’ve been wearing lately.  Sometimes it’s fabulous, sometimes it’s basic, but this is us… real mom life.

*some links may get us paid when you purchase*

Rhonda-

Tee: Mixtape. Shorts: Target, not available. Shoes: Target. Bracelet: KEEP. Earrings: Nickel & Suede.

Dress: Old Joe Fresh. Necklace: BaubleBar, not available. Earrings: Nickel & Suede.

Tee: Target. Shorts: Mixtape. Shoes: Target. Earrings: Nickel & Suede.

Dress: Mixtape. Shoes: Jessica Simpson. Earrings: Nickel & Suede.

Ashley-

I’m over here riding the not so fabulous train. 😉

Shirt: Mixtape Boutique Pants: Standard Black leggings Earrings: N&S  Black

Top: Old Chambray from Target Pants: Pleather black leggings..old Target Earrings: N&S Gray Mosaic

Life Lately

Hey hey…happy Monday – and welcome to our Life Lately post wherein we give you guys a little update on as to what has been going on in our lives!

Ashley –

Gosh, Life Lately eh? It’s summer and I’ve been trying to cram as much fun and activities into the time that I have off from work with the kids. We keep it pretty low key throughout work days. We just usually have so few hours each afternoon between when I get them and bed time that we need to recharge and focus on stuff at home.

However, some of the fun things we’ve gotten to do?

Our local movie theater in D’Iberville does kid days on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. They show just one particular (not new release) movie each week, but they show it in several different theaters. The show time is at 10 am, and you can get a ticket that includes a kid drink and popcorn for only four dollars! Even MY ticket was four dollars. So, I figured that was a deal I couldn’t pass up to let them have their first movie theater experience and just really to gauge how they would act. We had a blast. Cooper really enjoyed it and would have sat and watched from start to finish with no interruption if it hadn’t been for Sophie. She’s only 2.5 and well – obviously she got a little antsy after about 45 minutes of sitting. She wasn’t obnoxious though, and really with a theater full of littles there was someone talking or crying or moving around at almost every point throughout the movie. It was fun and we will definitely be going back!

The Saturday after our movie theater trip, we decided to hop in the car and head to Gulf Shores, AL to check out their beach and just really to have an adventure and make some memories. It was a solid two hour trip there and back, but the kids were real troopers. Cooper declared that Alabama had “the best waves ever!” He wasn’t a fan of the long drive and it may take some convincing and an in car iPad movie to get him to do that again, but it was so much fun and I know they really enjoyed themselves.

Sunday after our Gulf Shores trip, we did a little meandering around our own coast. I took the kids to the Big Play Family Fun Center in Biloxi, MS. They have bowling, a huge arcade, and even a little bar area for nightlife fun. The kids liked it, but it was extremely loud and busy which is not really an environment that Cooper can relax and have fun in. We’ve gone to the arcade area at Margaritaville in Biloxi and it is definitely a more chill and spaced out area that Cooper for sure enjoyed more. It was also a lot of work for me to make sure I had eyes on the kids at all times amidst the everything going on around us. After Big Play we went for a ride on the beach and stopped by Sharkheads Souvenir City in Biloxi. It’s definitely an iconic building on Biloxi Beach – one that I remember from my childhood and I hadn’t been back to it since they rebuilt after Katrina hit in 2005. The kids had a blast walking around looking everything and pushing their mini shopping carts around as they tried to pick out just one toy to bring home. The last stop of our adventure that day was to go by the Biloxi National Cemetery to see my Pawpaw and Mawmaw’s gravesite.  I knew that the permanent headstone had finally been put in place and I wanted to visit them. I wrote more in depth about that visit here.

And of course, there were lots of visits to local parks and checking out different splash pads. We always fit in time with Grammy and Ppop – some dress up playtime – and we even threw in a library visit. 😉 We had a really sweet Father’s Day as well. Cooper  spent a majority of the day with Grammy, Ppop, and Uncle Bud. Sophie and I were with Shaun and his family celebrating. 🙂

So far, summer has really been a blast! What about you Rhonda? How’s your summer going so far?

Rhonda –

Summer means some different things for us, since I stay at home with the kids AND they are homeschooled.  We took off a LOT of time from school in the spring, so we are schooling throughout summer, taking breaks as needed.

We have also been doing a lot of family stuff lately, which is pretty much Stuart’s favorite thing to do.  He works a lot, so getting away out to do something fun is really important to him.  The kids having experiences in life is a huge priority for him.  We even drove out 2 hours West to go look at the stars through real astronomers’ telescopes.  We were only there 20 minutes because the bugs were eating us alive, but it was worth it just to hear Quentin squeal with delight when he saw Jupiter and its moons.

Stuart and I took a child-free night, thanks to our neighbors, to go see Maroon 5.  It was a total spontaneous splurge.  We got suite seats, and holy shit, how do you ever go back from that?  It’s like flying first class.  Once you do it, you can’t ever go back to coach.  Anyway, those kind of nights take me back to the beginning of our relationship, when I flew out here to visit and we would pack the weekend with so much fun and adventure.

Now, you didn’t think we went 2 weeks without boozing in our backyard paradise, did you?  Of course not.  We’ve been doing the pool on the weekends and enjoying it all.  It’s been super hot and I can’t even be mad about it.  I am so thankful for where we live and that I don’t have to trudge through the snow all winter.

We hope that you all have been having some great summer fun!  Tell us, what have you been doing?

 

Inadvertently Dad

When Stuart and I made the bold decision to move in together with moving day being the day the kids met him, we didn’t know what would happen. Would they warm up to him in time?  Would it be a grand disaster?  We definitely didn’t expect to quickly fall into a place where we were all a family.

Not only did we all mesh together beautifully, but some circumstances changed and forced Stuart into the role of the primary father figure, one he effortlessly rolled into.

I am beyond thankful for the way he stepped up and the way that he and the kids love each other fiercely.

This Father’s Day weekend, I am crazy thankful.

Thank you Stuart for…

Helping the kids through projects I don’t want to do with them.

Being a source of reason when I just can’t Mom.

Giving our friends’ kids love and and patience when they need it most.

Demonstrating to my daughter what unconditional love looks like from a romantic perspective.

Respectfully and appropriately allowing my daughter to love on you.

Loving my daughter through sleepless nights, potty issues, and bratty behavior.

Ensuring that we all get out of the house from time to time.

Instituting Mandatory Fun.

Never making my kids feel dumb or out of place for calling you Dad sometimes.

Recognizing that I need a break – a LOT.

Keeping us fed and full of freshly grilled foods.

Understanding and accepting that the house will never again be spotless as you’re accustomed to.

Modeling Good Man Behavior to my boys, ensuring that they will someday make upstanding members of society.

Recognizing – and reminding me – that all the annoying “flaws” in my children are just part of them growing up.

Working your ass off so that my children can have a parent at home at all times in this difficult season of change.

Providing us with a beautiful home in a safe neighborhood, where we can grow and thrive together.

For being the absolute backbone of this family.

You are loved….deeply and earnestly.

Eat Happy: Pistachio Crusted Coriander Salmon

Hi there.  Welcome back! We’re doing a weekly series that publishes every Thursday wherein we are cooking through one of our FAVE cookbooks : Eat Happy! If you missed the intro post you can click on over here to read that.

We are starting with the very first recipe and working our way all the way through to the end. We will not be sharing with you the actual recipes that we cook. We WILL be sharing our experience during the whole process and our opinion of the outcome. So thanks for stopping by…and let’s dive in to this week’s recipe shall we?

I was, to put it mildly, not excited about making this meal.  I am super intimidated by cooking fish and I just don’t eat a lot of seafood in general.  In addition to that, I abhor pistachios.  Cool.

My stores that I frequent most often are Target and Walmart – solely because they are behind my neighborhood.  It’s quick, easy, affordable, and I know where everything is in the store.  They don’t have fresh seafood departments though.  To be honest, I am not sure I would have gone through with heading over to Kroger to get salmon if not for the fact that I was wanting to try their store brand seltzer water.  Motivated by my favorite Tito’s mixers, I headed on over.  I got the salmon and the goddamn pistachios, along with the (expensive-ish) spices that I didn’t have at home.

At home, I had to talk myself into jumping in.  The absolute worst part of the entire process was the beginning – shelling the pistachios.  I put on a training video I was wanting to watch and got after it.

There was some gagging over the fact that I was going to eat pistachios and that there was fucking skin involved in the fish.

Let me just tell you though – when the fish started baking, it smelled absolutely amazing.  The kids kept asking me what the great smell was.  They still had no interest in eating it, mind you.

Well… turns out it tasted just as amazing as it smelled.  Once again, the anticipation was much worse than the actual process and result.

That being said, I’ll substitute with another nut next time, because fuck pistachios.

 

 

Out of the Box Father’s Day Gift Guide

So, it’s the Tuesday before Father’s Day – and maybe you planned ahead and have that whole gift idea on lock down. OR maybe you haven’t quite nailed down exactly what you want to gift. We know that gift idea posts are a big thing for most blogs, and we personally love looking at them. We’ve actually done quite a few ourselves! However, we thought instead of doing the traditional gift idea post wherein we link to something you can click to and buy – we’d share with you some homemade/DIY and experience gift ideas to share with the fathers in your lives.

We’re sharing two different types of gifts that you can give. First we’re talking about gifts that are an experience, and the second category are Homemade/DIY gifts that you can make for the father figure in your life!

The first time that I’d really heard someone talking about giving an experience as a gift was while reading one of my fave blogs, Whimsical September. I think it’s really a fantastic idea and can’t believe I haven’t been doing this! The truth is that ten years from now – your loved one is more likely to remember and value an experience that you gave them than a pair or earrings or a golf club that you bought them.

  1. For the Sports Lover: Treat them to a game of golf, surprise them with a trip to the local batting cages. Are they more of the kind of sports lover who likes to watch instead of participate in the game? Well, that’s easy! Buy tickets to a local sports team game. Even if they aren’t particular fans for that specific team – it’s’ about the thought, consideration, and experience that the two of you are going to have while doing it!
  2. One on one meal: If we’re talking about you’re a grown adult, I’m betting that you don’t have lots of one on one meals with your dad and/or father figure in your life anymore. Especially if you are now a mom or dad yourself. Surprise your father and sneak him away for a few hours to sit down and have a quiet and quality meal together.
  3. Spend the day doing things for them that they normally do for you: Does the grass really need to be cut that weekend? Does your dad/baby daddy/whatever you call him normally do that? Well, get your booty out there early one morning and cut the grass for him! Does your dad/baby daddy/father figure in your life usually cook all the meals? Tell him to sit his booty in the recliner while you whip up a yummy lunch. Just ease their burden for the day. Lighten their load. I know as moms we are always screaming for this luxury to be gifted to us! It makes sense that the fathers in our lives would want that too.
  4. Dad Days: Give kids the opportunity for a one-on-one date with Dad, with the activity chosen by the child.  Rhonda did this with her kids years ago and the kids and their father both remember it fondly. Once you have several children, nurturing those individual relationships is both more difficult AND more important.  Ideas for dates (because you may need to offer suggestions to younger children) may include a round of putt-putt, the latest Star Wars movie, or a trip to the local frozen yogurt spot.

 

 

We know, we know…homemade gifts have such a bad wrap. The thing is, they are for sure underrated. And they don’t have to be something elaborate. You know what else? Any of these would make a great companion to that impersonal gift card you grabbed at the checkout line to stick in your father figure’s card. 😉

    1. Reasons why you’re a great Dad Book: Rhonda did a different version of this for Stuart’s last birthday. He turned 43 and she came up with 43 reasons why she loves him. All the reasons were designed in a simple editing app then printed at WalMart and put into an album.
    2. ‘All about Dad’ Printable: This is such a cute and easy idea and a fantastic way to get your little kids involved in making their dad’s day special. I found these from the blog Thirty Handmade Days…or you can always make your own. You just take a few minutes to get the kid’s answers and either write them in yourself or let them write it if they are old enough. The printables I linked to also have a place for your child to draw a picture of them with dad which is always cute to see their perspective of how things look. 🙂
    3. Print out a picture of your kids/their kids/you and your father figure and frame it: That may seem like such a silly thing to point at that you can do, but the truth is these days most people rarely actually print out the pictures they take. We are all walking around with thousands of pictures on our phones and backed up to our home computers, but we rarely print those out and put them on display! So take the time to pick out some nice frames and give the father figure in your life a picture of the ones that made him a father!
    4. Make a video about Dad: Whether as an adult doing this for your own father or a mother recording interviews of kids, this makes a thoughtful gift that can even be shared with friends and family on Facebook.  You can take one of the dad printables Ashley and ask those questions on video and keep it simple, or you can try your hand at video editing for extra pizzazz. As an adult, Rhonda made pictures of herself, her brother, and her child (this was before there were multiples) into a slideshow with background music on a DVD for Mother’s Day.  The whole family still loves to watch it.

 

As always thanks so much for stopping by, and let us know: what do you guys plan on gifting to the men in your life who are fathers??

My Healthy Kitchen: Top 5 Essentials

Happy Friday!  As it has been mentioned before, I eat in a way that is low carb.  To perfectly define it, it’s No Sugar No Grains (NSNG as coined by celebrity trainer and fitness guru Vinnie Tortorich).  There are so many tools and foods that I keep on hand at all times.  Today I am sharing with you my top 5 essentials.

Bacon

You either love bacon or you’re wrong.  We eat a ton in our household.  Here’s the thing – bacon makes everything better so it’s the ultimate source for fat and protein, which are extremely important in my lifestyle.  Wrap anything in bacon, eat it solo, or use it as a dipper.  It’s a must.  We buy these gigantic packages at Sam’s Club.

Heavy Whipping Cream

Another way to get in some fat and calories is adding a splash of this to my coffee in the morning.  If I am on the go and unable to eat all day, another cup of coffee with this helps me make it through.  Not only that, but it makes a great thickener for sauces and is an essential for a cheese dip.  A little goes a long way and I’m a fan!

Cold Brew

I like to start my day with a cup of hot coffee, but afternoons if I have coffee, I love a good cold brew.  It’s SO easy to make at home that I highly recommend you grabbing a cold brewer.  I have this one.  It’s super hipster looking, but it’s easy to use.

Salt

My preference is Himalayan Pink Salt, freshly ground over my food.  however, I also take a few whole salt crystals sometimes, washed down like pills.  When you are a low carb eater, you need to supplement with salt.  It’s honestly like a vitamin or medication for me.  Without it, I’m miserable.

Unsweetened Sparkling Waters

Whether the brand is LaCroix, Ozarka, Bubly, Polar, Aquafina, Dasani, or any other…. I drink several a day and always have an assortment of flavors.  A few go into the fridge for drinking straight and the others go into the pantry for mixing with distilled liquors.  I love that they pair well with any liquor.  They are also amazing for settling my stomach when I am hungover or when I had a stomach virus.

There you have it, the five things that I absolutely can NOT live without in my kitchen.  What are yours?