Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, y'all!

We have done a little celebrating this week already in the form of painting pumpkins and attending Boo at the Zoo at Riverbanks Zoo here in Columbia. 

We got our art on in the garage with some pumpkins, some brushes, and some leftover wall and trim paint. Use what you got!

I wanted to do a cute pumpkin (last year I did polka dots on a white pumpkin) so I opted for a candy corn this year. Spencer wanted to keep in theme, too (last year he made our house number into a monster - creative!), and did dripping blood. Spooky!

The artist at work

Look at that blood! (shudder)

Not quite as spooky

Ta Da!

Front Porch - watch out for spiders!

Oh, and in the interest of keeping it real, I was totally going to enjoy a glass of wine while I painted...until this happened.

You can call me Grace.


A couple of nights after our pumpkin painting fun, we took our niece, Spider Queen (aka Reagan), to Riverbanks Zoo for Boo at the Zoo! 

See her?

We enjoyed the decorations they had up...

We got to roast some marshmallows and make s'mores (contrary to what you read about my weekend and now my time at the zoo, I rarely make s'mores! I just so happened to do them twice in a handful of days. Not mad about it, either!)

Look at the concentration on those two faces!

There were (very smelly) animals to see and pet...

And there was Trick-or-Treating to get done...

Boo at the Zoo is always a fun event. It's well put together, and really fun for kids of all ages (and adults, too)! We've gone the last few years, and plan to continue the tradition. One attraction I didn't get a picture of was the suds area. They create a really large area full of foamy suds for the kids to run through. We saved it for last in case Reagan got soaked, but she only ran in for about 30 seconds and decided she was done with that. But it's a really popular attraction!

The night ended with a piggy back ride to the car (Reagan didn't think Uncle Spencer could carry us both on his back, so I had to walk). Then sleepy-head dozed off in the back seat on the way to drop her off. I think all of that candy hustling got the best of her!

Share your candy! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cold Weather Comfort Food

Until today, the weather has been gradually getting colder. Of course the day I choose to make chili for dinner, I wake up and hear the weather man predict a high of 87 for the day. 


I want chili! Maybe it will bring the cold weather back. Fake it till you make it?

Probably the greatest thing about this recipe, is that it's even better leftover. And as someone who doesn't love leftovers (but I definitely eat them - I hate throwing food away!), this is definitely a great thing!

It also makes so much that you can make multiple meals from it. You can even freeze in a Ziploc or two and freeze to have ready-made meals in the future. Score!


  • 2 lb. ground beef
  • Six 16 oz. cans chili beans
  • Three 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 16 oz. macaroni noodles
  • Small Onion
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin


Start by dicing the onion and tossing in a pan to brown with the ground beef. Once browned, drain the grease, and set aside.

Da meat
As your meat browns, begin boiling a pot of water to cook the macaroni noodles. I've been learning lately that this is an uncommon ingredient in chili, but if you ever do anything I suggest, do this. For real. It's awesome. I also learned this is a mid-western type chili. This was confusing to me  until I remembered that my Mamaw is originally from Indiana (moved to Tennessee many moons ago). So maybe that's why? Either way, I'm grateful. Oh, so grateful.

If your cook-top is as slow at boiling water as mine is, you can use this time to clean out the fridge. And put away laundry. If you have a gas stove, count your blessings.

Finally, my water began to boil and I dumped in my noodles. 

(Side note: as you may or may not be able to see in the picture above of the ingredients, I got two 8 oz. boxes of macaroni noodles for $.79. SEVENTY-NINE CENTS. For two. Thanks to the Publix clearance table. Thankfully I knew I was cooking them the same night that I bought them, so I didn't need to worry about the date. Score!)

As the noodles cooked, I opened all of my cans. All 9 of them. Whew!

Don't drain any of the cans! You'll want all of this yummy liquid in your chili.

When the noodles are finished cooking, drain them and put them back in your pot. Then add in your ground beef and onion mixture, and all of your cans. Stir it up!

It will take a little time for the whole pot to heat since there is so much in there. After about 5-10 minutes, begin adding and mixing in your spices. Use as much or as little as you'd like. Just keep tasting as you add. Salt and pepper, and a very hearty amount of cumin and chili powder. When you think you've added enough cumin and chili powder, add more. When you think you've added too much cumin and chili powder, add more. Keep going! Trust me. This is what makes the chili.

Adding spices. Round 1 of 3.
Mix, taste, mix, taste. 

If you aren't full by the time it heats up, then fix yourself a bowl! I like to top mine with sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar, and diced jalapeno (for a kick). 

Stop here for story time: 
So this 4th of July, I was making jalapeno poppers. Because nothing says AMERICA like jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon, #amIright?
Anyway, I was scooping out the seeds over the trash can when the worst imaginable thing happened. Jalapeno juice squirted into my eye. MY EYE.
So I run to the sink, yelling at Spencer that I got pepper juice in my eye (just because I guess). I began to splash water into my eye, and sort of rub it right on the surface of my eye ball. All of a sudden, I thought I was dying. It was then that it occurred to me...I was using my unwashed, jalapeno covered fingers and rubbed them all over my eye ball. 
I'll let you use your imagination from there. But take it from someone who's been there - WASH YOUR HANDS after handling those suckers. I'm lucky to still have 2 eyes in my head. 

Anyway...Ta Da!

I enjoyed a bowl in the living room, catching up on Monday's episode of The Voice (thanks, DVR!). And I've already packed some away in the fridge to take for lunch tomorrow. 

I can't wait for lunch...

Until next time - - 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mountain Weekend!

Happy Monday!

Hope you enjoyed your weekend. I sure did! As you read last week, I spent the weekend with 2 of my girlfriends in the mountains of NC. Thankfully, my mom and her husband live there, so their house served as our "bed and breakfast" for the weekend. And they gave us a great deal.  ;)

They live in Sylva, NC, which is in Western NC. GORGEOUS! Nearby towns you may be more familiar with include Highlands, Cashiers, Maggie Valley, Bryson City...

Our mountain weekend started out after work on Friday. I got home from a work trip in Charleston, went inside and unpacked/repacked my suitcase, and went to pick up Casey. It was her first time away from her almost 7 month old baby boy, so I wasn't sure what to expect. She did great! No tears (that I saw).

*Alyssa drove separately because she was coming from Charlotte*

Casey and sweet Colin
We filled up on gas, got some snacks, and hit the road. After 3.5 hours of jamming to old school Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey and Dixie Chicks, we arrived in Sylva. Alyssa had gotten lost about 1/8th of a mile from my mom's house (shocking) but when we pulled up, she had already arrived. We ended Friday night by demolishing some pizzas, enjoying some Merlot, and lounging in front of the TV in our PJs. Perfection.

Saturday morning, after Casey came and jumped on our bed (still on Colin-time), we went upstairs for coffee. The sunroom in that house is to die for. I got my coffee and went out to watch some news and enjoy the fire. 

The best part of waking up, is coffee in your cup. And a fire. And a breathtaking view.
I also got my dose of the glorious morning sun shining on the mountains. No joke, this is the view from their sunroom. There was a lot of fog in the mornings that burned off, so you can see a little of what's left in the picture.

Heaven on Earth
The Mike (aka one of the bed and breakfast owners) made breakfast with my mom. It's hands down my favorite breakfast: Biscuits and gravy, bacon, and eggs (over-easy). I ate WAY too much, but I'm not mad about it. My mom makes the greatest from-scratch biscuits in the history of the world. And that is no exaggeration.

Mike the gravy-maker
Bacon! Sizzle, sizzle.
After breakfast, we showered and dressed to head out for the day. Before we left, we snapped a few pictures in the yard. Because the sun was in our eyes, we had a hard time getting one where we all didn't have ridiculous faces, but this is the best we got. We also snapped a few by the fireplace inside. Love these girls so much!!

The ladies - L-R - Me, Casey, Alyssa
It's a Casey Sandwich!
Our afternoon Saturday was spent walking around downtown Waynesville. We visited the Christmas shop first, which is filled to the brim with ornaments and cute decorations. It really made me itch for Christmas!

While we were looking at ornaments, we got a call that our table at The Sweet Onion was ready. We met up with my sister, Jenn, and my adorable 10 month old niece, Avia.

Waiting on our food was the perfect time to catch up and watch all of the cute stuff Avia does (which is everything, of course). She loved the paper and crayons they brought her, but didn't quite understand that the two go together. She much preferred the paper!

The peanut showing off her 2 new teeth!
The food I ordered was so delicious. I started with the French Onion Soup, which is one of their popular dishes. After that, Jenn and I shared the Crispy Mozzarella and Tomato Salad. It's basically a Caprese salad with round mozzarella sticks instead of fresh mozzarella. Isn't everything better fried?

I also enjoyed a glass of Crios Malbec. Also delish!!

After that, we went to an ice cream and fudge store, a knick-knack store, and a kitchen store. I bought nothing, but really enjoyed walking, window shopping, and the beautiful weather! The company was pretty good, too. 

Avia and Alyssa

After saying goodbye to my sister and niece (which was very sad), we went back to the house and...ate some more!

We had chili for dinner. I'll definitely have to make it soon and post the recipe. It's one of my cold weather favorites, with an interesting twist :)

To mine, I added peppers, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and a dash of hot sauce. I also had a slice of cornbread with it. Yum!

We enjoyed this dinner as we watched the South Carolina vs. Auburn football game. I was expecting to lose pretty badly, so was pleasantly surprised with the result! It wasn't a win, but it was soooo very close. 
Speaking of "soooo very close," I also watched video of South Carolina Men's Soccer play Kentucky (which you already know if you follow me on Instagram: @yellowdoordiaries), and they fought to tie the game to go into overtime. They lost in the last minute of the 2nd overtime. So proud of the heart and fight they showed!

As if we hadn't had enough food for the day, we had to finish the night with the classic mountain weekend treat - s'mores by the fire!

We all basically crashed into bed that night, and enjoyed a good night's sleep.

Guess what's next? Yep, we ate again! On the breakfast menu Sunday morning was waffles and mimosas. I'm telling you, this bed and breakfast has great service! ;)

Unfortunately, it was then time to hit the road and drive back into the real world. But not before a stop at Barber's Orchard! They have the most delicious apples, baked goods, ciders, jams, etc. ever! We all stocked up on some of our favorites, and then enjoyed a turnover outside before we left. 

Ummm. Yum.
SO GOOD. That look is 100% joy and excitement.
Our treasures
My goods included 2 sweet potatoes, a butternut squash, some mild Mexican salsa, and a 1/2 peck of Fuji apples (my favorite!).

Then we headed back to Columbia, with full bellies, smiling faces, and happy hearts. We hit 3 separate traffic jams, but it was my secret plot to keep Casey trapped in my car a little longer. Mwahaha!

I have some of the best family and friends in the world. It was good for the soul to get away from everything for a couple of days. To spend some quality time with two wonderful friends and some of my family. Good food, good conversation, good laughs...definitely a much needed weekend!

Hopefully this time next year, I will be publishing a "Second Annual Mountain Weekend" post!

Before you go, here are a few more photos from the weekend. Hope your weekend was just as fun and relaxing!

Casey, Alyssa, Me
She kept headbutting me - this girl is so loved!
Sis trying on my shades. I like!
I'll leave you with an evening view. Wish I was still there...

Until next time - -