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Stuttering Shell: May 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011


THE GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED - thanks to all who entered!
But, please, read my review & check out Sand-Off!

if you're anything like our family, then you probably spend a lot of time here:

we live within minutes of a handful of beaches & we're also just a few hours away from some of north carolina's awesome beaches.  saltwater runs through our veins {although, i'm pretty darn certain that caffeine runs through mine, but i digress...}.

seriously, once the weather warms up, we are always at the beach.

we love the beach.  we love the surf.  we love the shells.  we love the sand...

sand.  not only does it get all over the inside of your bathing suit, but it also comes home with you.  {trust me, you should see the inside of adam's truck during the summer months...there's enough sand in there to replenish a small beach.}

i think my least favorite thing about going to the beach is "de-sanding" ourselves as best as we can before we head for home.  our "de-sanding" routine is less than ideal.  i mean, what's the point of rinsing your feet off in the shorebreak when you have to walk back through the sand?  then, when you get to the truck, you spend a few minutes per foot trying to remove every. single. grain.  eventually, we just give up {hence the small beach in adam's truck}.

our "de-sanding" routine has been forever changed thanks to sand-off!  sand-off is a powder-filled terry cloth mitt that helps 'break the bond between sand and skin.'

sand-off is so easy to use.  just like the graphic above says, you clap, wipe & store...that's all!  the mitt can be easily stored in your beach bag, too {i keep our sand-off mitt in a plastic baggie}.  the terry cloth is gentle on your skin & the powder is unscented and doesn't irritate your skin.  

we've used our sand-off mitt on wet & dry skin and it works well at removing the sand from our kids' feet.  adam loves the convenience of the sand-off mitt.  once upon a time, getting the kids to "de-sand" themselves was a chore, but not anymore!  now, whenever we pack our beach bag, we always make sure we have our sand-off mitt with us.  long gone are the days of rinsing off in the shorebreak!

one sand-off mitt is supposed to last one beach season...depending on how often you go.  once you run out of powder, you'll know it's time for a new mitt.  but, don't throw away your old mitt...wash it and use it for cleaning around the house!  sand-off is also great for removing grass clippings, construction grime, saw dust, etc.  

are you ready for some fun in the sun?  is your family excited about heading to the beach?
do you want to win your own sand-off mitt??

the awesome folks at sand-off have generously offered one of my readers a sand-off mitt of their own!  all you need to do is enter to's how:

1.  leave a comment - tell me what you're family loves to do in the summer, where you like to vacay, whatever.  just leave me some love!  
2.  visit sand-off's website.  check out their video!
3.  follow sand-off on twitter.
4.  "like" sand-off on facebook.
5.  follow my blog.
6.  tweet about this review/giveaway {leave me your tweet link}.
7.  follow me on twitter.

you can do one or all seven...just leave a separate comment for each entry, please.  oh, and be sure to leave an email, too, so i know how to get in touch with you {just in case your blogger profile isn't already linked to your email}.  

i will choose the winner on saturday, june 4th!

disclaimer:  i contacted the folks at sand-off about their product.  they generously offered me a mitt to review as well as a mitt to giveaway.  thank you, sand-off!!

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Friday, May 27, 2011

mes chiens.

it's been a while since you had a pupdate.

buxton is just shy of six months.  he's still piddling in the house from time to time {on the puppy pad which has become our new doormat by the back door}.  he's a whiner & refuses to jump ONTO the couch, but he will not hesitate to jump OFF of he couch.  he still hoards toys.  he still annoys frisco.

we had a scare a couple weekends ago.  after his first trip to the beach, we noticed that his left eye was red & he was squinting.  after a trip to the emergency vet, two eye stains, a few photos {yes, the vet took pics of his cuteness!} & a prescription of drops, the diagnosis was conjunctivitis.  go figure.


once upon a time, we were strictly a cat family.  now we have two dogs.  go figure.

 {can you see some of the red in frisco's coat?  his color is technically black & white although he looks a little seal - black coat with a red glimmer - to me every now & again!}

frisco is just weeks away from his second birthday.  i can't believe he's almost two already.  he's been doing well.  his eye isn't giving him any issues & the scar doesn't bother him.  {remember his blue eye? if so, then you understand why we were so paranoid about buxton's eye.}  frisco's eye may not be bothering him, but we HAVE dealt with some allergy issues.  last week, adam called me at work.  he was frantic.  frisco was covered in welts & his face was swollen.  after a phone call to the vet & two doses of benadryl {12 hours apart}, he was fine.  from what i understand, boston terriers are notorious for allergies, especially contact allergies.  go figure.


as you know {or maybe you didn't}, frisco & buxton have the same father.  buxton looks more like their daddy {red bull}.  you would think that they would be similar in personality, right?  wrong.  buxton is a tap dancer.  he will prance & wiggle at your feet.  it's hilarious.  he can't wag his tail, but he can shake his rump. frisco, on the other hand, will jump on you, get in your face & find a way to violate you with his tongue.  

what do both dogs have in common?  they like to sleep.  preferably, on a king size bed.  go figure.

{ could you resist that face??}

life with two dogs is fun.
life with two boston terriers* is pure chaos.  but, we wouldn't trade it for the world.

go figure.

*not to start a debate {because i don't want to & will not entertain one}, but for the boston terrier purist, buxton doesn't really fit the bill because of his reddish coat.  but, as he grows, he's becoming more brindle.  for what it's worth, his momma is black & white. he looks all boston to me and we love him just the same.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

got plants?

{disclaimer: this is a l-o-n-g post with pictures.  i'm just warning you now.  by the way, did you check out my wordless wednesday post?  i'm super proud of my bee pictures.}

we're serious about our plants.

really, we are.

about 5% of our garden is either store bought {the okra we planted last year} or has come back year after year on its own {all of our herbs, tomatoes & peppers}.  the other 95% of our garden comes from plants that we sprouted from seeds.  it's a seemingly simple, yet frustrating, process that requires a lot of careful planning, trial and error & a bit of luck.

trust me.

we don't have a greenhouse nor do we have much of a green thumb.  we just enjoy growing & tending to plants that repay us for all the love & care by providing us with fresh fruit, veggies & herbs.

as for the other flora in our yard, well, we paid good money for all of it & the landscaping of our backyard has been a process that has lasted MANY years {never ending, it seems}.  even our most overgrown flower beds provide us with new plants to split & share with friends and family.  we recently created a new flower bed in our yard {we got rid of our swingset} and a lot of what we planted came from other parts of our yard or from my parents' flower beds.  recycled plants, y''s as green as you can get!

and, because i am proud {super proud} of what we are doing within the confines of our privacy fence, i'm going to share a few more pictures of our garden goodness {because showing off our green thumb wasn't enough}...

onion blossoms are big puffballs of pretty, aren't they?
such a big difference from the picture i took a couple weeks ago.
 dill...covered in dew.
this is the first time we've grown dill.  we sprouted dill seeds...twice.
the first attempt was a big mess.  our second attempt?  success!

 our tomatoes have blossoms!
i honestly don't remember if these are grape or roma.  this is one of the plants that came back on its own.  adam seems to believe that they cross-pollinated last year.  i'm not sure if that's possible, but, who knows, we may just wind up with a grape-roma hybrid!

chives.  i think this is my second or third time sprouting chive seeds this year.
i'm looking forward to adding fresh chives into scrambled eggs. yum!

earlier this week, i was watering the garden and noticed that our beans are sprouting.  
have you ever had a fresh green bean?  i'm not talking about the kind you can buy by the bagful at your local grocery store.  no, i'm talking about fresh off the plant. 

sprouting green beans {or any bean or pea, really} is super easy.
no wonder beans were my "go to" plant for science projects as a kid.
really. if you're looking to start a garden & want to sprout your own seeds, i suggest starting with beans.

another easy plant to sprout from a seed & grow:  sunflowers.
these aren't just any ole sunflower.  they're are mammoth sunflowers.
we grew some last year.  at the plants' peak, i think they were about 15 feet tall with flowers that were just over a foot in diameter.  they were crazy big.
we also had smaller sunflowers growing along our back fence.

is there anything prettier than a zucchini blossom?  they've bloomed a bit more since i took this picture on monday.  i cannot wait for fresh zucchini.  our yellow squash is showing signs of blossoms, too.

adam has always been hesitant to grow any kind of leafy green.  i don't know why.  we tried {last year} to grow lettuce & failed miserably.  i'll admit, this IS our second attempt at growing both arugula {or rocket} & spinach {pictured above} and i think we've been pretty successful thus far.
 we turned our old metal fire pit into a planter box and that is where we sprouted the arugula & spinach seeds.  the fire pit cover is currently sitting on top of the sproutlings {is that even a word??} in an effort to keep our oldest boston terrier, frisco, out of the dirt.
{trust me, you should have seen what he did to this shortly AFTER i planted the seeds.  i wouldn't be surprised if there's spinach & arugula growing out of our pavers.}

not long after we moved into our house {back in 2002}, i came home with three oleander plants.  only one survived.  in fact, it barely survived.  the other two drowned.  adam put in a french drain & i haven't had a plant drown in our side yard since.  
i'll get a picture of the flowers.  promise.

 the lavender is blooming the teeniest purple flowers.  i wonder if i can cook with this lavender?  i'm not sure of the variety.  does anyone know? 

 first, i think orange is my new favorite color {it was red}.  
second, i think poppies are my new favorite flower {it was gerbera daisies}.  
third, i am in love with the tissue paper like quality of the poppy's petals.  
i believe these are champagne poppies.  between my three poppy plants we have yellow, white, orange & pink flowers.

    and, because it is the proper {southern} thing to do, i have a magnolia in my yard.  
actually, i have two. 
our landscape plan called for a sweet bay magnolia, but i want to say that i bought a star magnolia.  of course, this bloom looks nothing like a star magnolia's bloom, so maybe i did buy a sweet bay way back when.
we have an ann magnolia in our front yard.  
p.s.  my daddy hails from mississippi...also known as the magnolia state.

 many years ago, my mom gifted us with about five small lily plants.  this is what five small plants have turned into.  yes, it is covered {and i mean COVERED} in buds.  our side flower bed {which is ridiculously overgrown} is about to explode with color.

and, last but not least, i have a mum that's ready to bloom.  this plant was something i picked up from wally world a few autumn's ago and it's been so neglected & uncared for.  it's still in the same tacky, plastic, wanna be terra cotta pot it came in.  but, you know what?  this plant has been the most forgiving plant i've ever had.
{watch, now that i've said all of this, it's gonna die.}

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wordless wednesday: busy little bee.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

beach bums {again}.

it's technically not summer, but, to us, it's close enough!
we took advantage of the weekend's warm {dare i say hot?} weather.
we packed a cooler, covered the kids in sunscreen & headed to sandbridge.

the water was freezing, but that didn't stop the kids from frolicking in the waves.
we got to the beach shortly after 9am & enjoyed some quiet family time before
other friends & their kids showed up.

we're so thankful that we live in an area that is so close to the ocean.
i don't think we could ever be land-locked. 

be on the lookout for a review & giveaway for a great beach product, sand-off, later on this week!

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Monday, May 23, 2011

so berry much fun!

strawberries are at their peak here in southeastern virginia.  
{our area's annual strawberry festival is next weekend!}

over the weekend, we went berry picking.  
we drove by a few different "u-pick" fields before we reached our destination:  cullipher farms.

it was hot & we were still scorched from our day at the beach {post to come!}, but we were determined to fill our buckets with big, red, juicy strawberries!
while we were picking, we listened to the hum of the airshow that was taking place nearby.

i'm slightly ashamed to admit that this was the first time i have ever gone strawberry picking.
i've lived in virginia beach for nearly 23 years & live within minutes of MANY "u-pick" locations, so i don't really have an explanation as to why i've never gone picking before.
i'm not going to lie.  it's back breaking work.  you get dirty.  you get hot, sweaty & stinky.
and, you do see quite a few of these guys:

{aidan & i seemed quite popular with the teeny, weeny grasshoppers}

but, the payoff is so sweet {literally!}.
we came home with more strawberries than we knew what to do with.
now our freezer is stocked with bags of whole, frozen strawberries.
i also made strawberry coulis {to be enjoyed over vanilla ice cream} AND
i dove head first into canning by making four jars of homemade strawberry jam.

{photo credit goes to my seven year old son, aidan}

i'm already looking forward more picking, but next time we'll be on a mission for
blueberries, blackberries, peaches & scuppernongs

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

{semi} wordless wednesday: beach bums.

when the weather is nice, we love to take a stroll along the atlantic ocean.
the kids love to look for shells.

buxton isn't too keen of the sand just yet, but frisco {that handsome guy pictured above} loves the beach.  he splashes in the waves & he chases the shorebirds.  also, he may or may not have peed on a beach towel as we walked along the beach...
{but that happened last summer}

the beach is so peaceful this time of year.
crowds of vacationers haven't infiltrated the beach at sandbridge...just yet.

spending an hour at the beach.  just the four six of us.
it truly is heaven on earth.


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Saturday, May 14, 2011

coffee? yes, please.

i'm sure many of you have noticed that badge off to the right.  yeah, the one that shouts to the world that i'm a keurig k-cup ambassador.

so i'm not an ambassador of quan.  but, if you equate coffee with quan, then maybe i am your girl.

i don't know about you all, but my blood is caffeinated.  coffee gets me through my day.  but, i know that some of you don't like coffee.  some of you may be tea drinkers or even cocoa drinkers.  shoot, some of you might not even like hot drinks and prefer your coffee or tea to be iced.

decaffeinated, high-octane, hot, cold, sweetened, unsweetened, flavored creamer, half & matter how you take your coffee, tea or cocoa of choice there is one thing you should know...the keurig does it all.  trust me, i've been a keurig owner for years and my family loves it.  my husband & i even joke about who will get the keurig if we ever split up...yep, we're that serious about our machine.

once upon a time, we were slaves to our coffee maker.  filters, programs, scorched coffee, stained carafes...not fun.  keurig came to our rescue with their k-cups.  suddenly, there was no more stale, burned or wasted coffee.  k-cups allowed us to brew the perfect cup - in three different sizes - whenever we wanted.  and the variety? unbelievable!

and, let's not forget the keurig's versatility because sometimes we prefer to grind our own coffee beans and the keurig allows us to do that.

we've tried many of the different k-cup varieties, but this past month we've been enjoying two: tully's french roast & green mountain coffee's breakfast blend

my husband is a fan of dark, bold coffee {so what if he then proceeds to load his coffee up with flavored creamer AND sugar}.  tully's french roast is the tully brand's most popular blend.  it is extra bold, "powerful and intense with a smoky, decadent finish."  to him, tully's french roast is THE perfect cup of coffee.  he starts his morning with a cup and he sometimes finishes his day with a cup.

i find that i'm not nearly as particular about the intensity of my coffee.  true, i love drinking coffee black {especially if we're in mexico}, but i also appreciate the subtle flavors of smoother coffees like green mountain coffee's breakfast blend.

the breakfast blend is lovely.  the aroma is heavenly.  it's not bitter nor is it as acidic as darker, bolder blends.  to me, it's the perfect cup of coffee to wake up to.  to my husband, not so much.

so what does all of this coffee talk mean for you?

from now until june 10th, you can enjoy 15% off anything AND free shipping when placing an order online with green mountain coffee.  use the code: AM0013-3605

if you don't have a keurig, don't worry.  
green mountain coffee sells whole bean & ground coffees as well.  but, i seriously think all of you who are on the fence about buying a keurig should really take the leap.  and, guess what?  green mountain coffee sells keurigs, too!  talk about a one stop shop!

next week, i'll be reviewing gloria jean's hazelnut coffee and celestial seasonings english breakfast black tea.  i will also have additional discount codes for you every so often, but please take advantage of the current offer & be sure to share it with your friends, family & fellow bloggers!

disclosure:  i am a k-cup ambassador working in conjunction with green mountain coffee roasters & the your perfect cup program.  i was given the k-cups as compensation for my review.  all opinions in this review are my own.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

ladies night.

blogging & social media is pretty damn fantastic, isn't it?  

when i started my blog back in 2007, i was writing for me. i didn't think it would lead to some amazing connections & friendships.  seriously, i have been blessed with perhaps the most awesome group of girlfriends...ever.  and, i owe it all to my computer.  ha!

{picture hijacked from the workaholic momma - thanks, j!}

aside from beach bum and baby & the workaholic momma {who are bff's in real life}, we all met thanks to blogging & twitter.  katie is the newest gal in our circle & she is the cutest mama-to-be ever!  

as usual, we had a great time.  lots of laughing, lots of chit-chat and even some rapping courtesy of whitney {who knew she could recite every. single. word. to rappers delight??}.  we all lead such busy lives & don't get to see each other often, but i truly cherish the times when we do get a chance to get together.  i've said it once and i'll say it again...i'm truly blessed to have these gals in my life.  they are everything a friend should be...and more. 

to relive our first date, click here.
to relive our anniversary dinner, click here.

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{semi} wordless wednesday: green thumb

a peek into my backyard...

 the blueberry bush we purchased on mother's day.
aidan is beyond excited about this plant.

our cilantro sprouted early & has teeny white flowers. 
we love cilantro & use it often.

 a couple months ago, our fig tree was pretty much chewed up
& destroyed by our boston terriers.
now it has big, green leaves and is looking very healthy.
i just hope we can enjoy the figs this year.
last year, the birds got to them first.
{we have a fake owl in our backyard now to scare the birds away. we named him hooty.}

 excuse the janky looking ground.
our new paver patio will come right to the edge of this flower bed.
the pink flowers? that's gaura. so easy to grow & it comes back like crazy.
{seriously, we had gaura growing in one of our horseshoe pits!}
the shrub behind it? spirea. it's getting ready to sprout clusters of pink flowers.

 so far, only the gaura with pink flowers has bloomed.
we also have gaura with white blooms.

 when we bought our house, there were two grape vines in the backyard.
i don't know know the variety. the grapes are always small.  small & green.
we don't eat them but maybe i should make wine with them. ha!

 i have never had a hydrangea with pink blooms.
we bought this on mother's day & planted it in the backyard
where i grew bee balm* last year.
i hope the blooms stay pink {i need to test our soil}.
our hydrangea in the front yard is blue.

*i am currently growing bee balm again this year, but it's
in a pot...for now.

 my mom gave us this lavender plant & it stayed in a pot on the front porch for years.
we finally planted it in the ground in our backyard.
i could sit and smell this plant all. day. long.

 our red onion plants are about to bloom.
think dandelion, but better.
i'll have to get a picture once it's fully bloomed.

 poppies!  well, poppy.
we have three small poppy plants and each has blooms of
yellow, pink, orange & white.

 i love my knockout roses.
three small plants turned into three huge bushes!

 i love cutting the smaller blooms and putting them in a 
bud vase on my coffee table.

new to our garden this year: thai basil.
our sweet basil is still coming up, but the thai basil
has already bloomed.
such sweet purple flowers!

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