Adorable Abby

During my stay in Dallas this past week, I've had the opportunity to spend some quality time with various family members. I enjoyed a trip to the movies with my mom; celebrating my sister's birthday over mom's homecooked dinner; a visit to the in-laws one evening; popcorn, movie and coke night with my dad; a road trip to Arkansas with two of my gal pals; picking my husband up from the airport after being apart for over a week, and thrilled that he's done with his eight-hour Professional Engineering exam (whew!); seeing old friends at his 10 year high school reunion; play time with our two gorgeous labs; and taking in some quiet "together" time during our drive back to Houston today.

It's so great to be able to pack so much into a week or a weekend, and it always ends too soon. But the good thing is that we're just four hours away, and can come back for more anytime!

I hope you're enjoying a relaxing Sunday, and I couldn't resist posting pics of my niece, Abigail Rayne, she's one of the cutest faces around. :)

"That's what I love about Sunday:
Sing along as the choir sways;
Every verse of Amazin' Grace,
An' then we shake the Preacher's hand.
Go home, into your blue jeans;
Have some chicken an' some baked beans.
Pick a back yard football team,
Not do much of anything:
That's what I love about Sunday."
~Craig Morgan, country singer


Spooky Eats & Festive Treats

It's All Hallows Eve... do you know where your sugar rush is?

Get on the bandwagon with these fantastically creepy treats, available at Ooh La La Dessert Boutique's two Houston-area locations.

No time to swing by their drive-thru? Take inspiration and make your own fun with some of these Halloween-worthy ideas from the web.

Cheesecake brownies from Country Living.
Gorgeous white pumpkin decorations from Postcards and Pretties.

A fall mantel how-to from The Lettered Cottage.

A candy wreath from Martha Stewart.
The Bells, all "creeped" out since we won't get to wear costumes this year!


A Mother's Home & Light-up Wine Bottles

I wanted to start this post by explaining something about my mom. She is the ultimate nester. She loves decorating, she enjoys being creative and she adores her home. It has been her passion and a source of great joy in life to make her house into a home and to fill it with all the things she loves and holds dear. Which is a lot of things.

I often describe her home, where I and my younger brother spent our entire childhood, as an elaborate antique store. There are things everywhere, and pictures hang from top to bottom and side to side on every wall. There's rarely a space that goes unused, and if you set down your keys or other small objects, beware: you may not find them again as they tend to "blend."

All of this I say lovingly, of course, as home is certainly home to me and my siblings. We love the smell of her candles, her uniquely brewed tea that's always fresh and ready to pour a glass, and her cozy way of making home life a true profession.

Here's a shot of her den, all dressed for fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving:

My mom is also an avid painter, and has held art class at her home every Tuesday evening for as long as I can remember. She has a series of Santa paintings she's done, and paints a new one each Christmas:

She also has festive paintings for other times of year:

And she paints on every surface and object that'll hold the turp. Sawblades, tractor seats, discarded wood, license plates and more.

I have been enjoying a week spent in Dallas and plenty of time with my mom and was happy to be at home during her most recent Tuesday art class. In about 15 minutes, she created this gorgeous light-up wine bottle and graciously posed for pictures along the way so I could share the "know how" with you all. It is seriously easy.

First take your wine bottle of choice (clear bottles are great, and any vino containers with decorative elements like etched glass or a unique shape are even better), then carefully thread in a string of regular ol' white Christmas lights.

Then cut the cork in half. I recommend a serrated edge knife, since I nearly chopped off my finger using a smooth edged one.

Place the half cork in the top of the wine bottle, facing the curved part outward to hide the lighting cord that goes into the bottle. 

Adorn with festive ribbon or accouterments, like these gorgeous grapes my mom picked up at Hobby Lobby. Done!

Don't forget to take a gander at my recent road trip to Arkansas. And stay tuned for some spooktacular treats and last-minute festive ideas tomorrow!

Road trip to Arkansas

What's a gal to do when she's got a free weekend, a tank full of gas and two lovely friends? Take a road trip! Myself and a pair of buddies, Kristen and Medley, loaded up coolers, boots, fishing poles and Kristen's two horses this past weekend with plans to spend a couple days just outside of Gin City, Arkansas with Kristen's aunt and uncle. They've got plenty of acres out there, which were absolutely blooming with fall.

Pretty, huh?

But first let me recap the beginning of our trip.

We'd successfully loaded up the horses and hooked up the trailer. Well, more like Kristen successfully managed this. She makes it all look so easy and I couldn't believe she hauled that huge trailer so well, but she's had lots of practice.

Then we dropped by Walmart to load up on some food real quick before hauling it onto the Interstate, Arkansas-bound. Or so we thought. Not even 30 minutes in, this happened:

Then this happened:

After calling the police and Kristen dealing with the insurance company, Courtesy Patrol showed up ONE HOUR later to change the tire that had blown. They changed it on the side of the highway with both horses still inside the trailer! We were very blessed that both animals remained calm and didn't freak out or tip over the trailer.

So then we headed in search of tires, and the horses had to be walked around in a grassy area between parking lots to give them a break.

Tires weren't to be had until the following day (Saturday), so we called it a night, found some dinner at Aspen Creek (my brother-in-law's yummy restaurant) and settled for a movie at the house. Saturday morning we left the horses in their pasture and took the trailer to the tire place... on the way, another tire started to go! Kristen ended up having to replace five of them, poor girl. We're so glad we decided not to take it in the end.

Once the trailer was dropped off, we switched cars and away we went, this time successfully reaching our destination in Arkansas.

There wasn't much cell service to be had, but that's okay. We were ready to enjoy nature, good company, food, beer and activities - not all in that order.

First we found the tire swing and tried to reenact our younger years...

...until I got stuck and couldn't get out. It really happened just like the picture. I fell out shortly after Medley snapped this photo. Graceful, huh?

Then we posed in nature and took funny pictures. Hey, don't judge. We were having fun and high on the fresh air.

After that, Kristen gave us a Tractor Riding 101 lesson on her old piece of equipment, dubbed Jezebel. That thing has some kick!

We didn't bring a speck of makeup and wore boots and jeans all weekend. The same pair of jeans. And they stood up on their own by the end of the trip, but it didn't matter because we were out in the woods and the country. Boys aren't the only ones allowed to get dirty and drink beer out of a koozie while flipping steaks on the grill after a day mucking around on a four-wheeler.

There was lots of nature and plenty of bugs...

Can you find the frog?

The water in the pond was like glass the whole time we were there. It rained and rained and rained both nights we stayed, but the dry ground soaked it all up and the pond absorbed the rest.

Kristen and I didn't last very long when it came to fishing, but Medley's patience paid off. She's really good at it and caught three fish! She also helped us fish our hooks out of a couple bushes we managed to snag when we cast a bit short of the pond. Or maybe off to the side. And occasionally behind us. But the point is that we tried, right?

But I do have proof that I can do it. Here's the video of my cast that landed smackdab in the middle of the water, right where it's supposed to be. (The "Mike" mentioned in the video is my husband, this is so he knows I can cast a reel!)

One night we grilled steak, shrimp and veggies and one night we got cheeseburgers from Charlene's. No, it's not a restaurant. It was a shack-of-a-house in a questionable community and the sweet little lady ran the burger biz out of her grease-stained kitchen. Even though it wouldn't have held up to a lick of health code standards, they were pretty darn good.

Another day, after breakfast tacos, we went to visit one of Kristen's uncles who lived nearby. He resides near a river with lots more pretty scenery. He built his house himself years ago, the wood is gorgeous.

And he's got himself his own hunting lodge down by the water, complete with three sets of bunk beds adorned in full camo sheets. What else did you expect? :)

We went four-wheeling, which was every bit the adventure. Kristen and I rode together quite a bit. Turns out, she's a speed demon when she drives and every time I screamed she just laughed and gunned the motor. During one of my escapades, I nearly threw her off the back so I guess we ended up even. At one point, we had the four-wheeler's two front tires completely up in the air, a total accident while shifting gears, lol. (Scared ourselves.) And during another outing, we were headed down a sloping hill and an armadillo shot past us and hightailed it into the woods on the other side! We both actually shrieked and then slammed the brakes, before I jumped off and went to have a look for it. I had no idea those things could even move that fast, which makes me wonder how you always seen 'em run over on the side of the road? This armadillo was like lightening.

We had a blast careening around on that thing. Her aunt and uncle were sitting outside one evening and said they could hear exactly where we were on all those acres... "Amber would scream, then we'd hear Kristen's evil laugh!" We are so fortunate we came back in one piece.

There was a fire one night, of course, and we dragged our camping cheers around the flames and reminisced about the weekend and listened to the creepy sounds of nature past dark. I shone the spotlight into the woods a couple times, hoping to catch some deer or other wildlife poking around the pond. But no such luck. The only other wild animal I saw was a scraggly raccoon one night from the road.

It was a fantastic weekend, the perfect break from reality. Every once in awhile you just have to turn off your phone, forget about checking your email and laugh until your face hurts and there are tears streaming down your face. Next time you've got a free weekend, a tank of gas and a couple of friends, I highly suggest a lil trip. There's nothing more refreshing than an open road...

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