Archive | January, 2012

Toes in the Water, Ass in the Sand: Tailgating at a Country Concert

31 Jan

I have never really tailgated much, mainly because I have never been that good at it. I’m never prepared the way I should be. Well, that all changed with the Zac Brown Band concert this past weekend. PoppaNut and I got completely prepared, and we reaped the benefits over and over again. And so, I’m sharing my tailgating wisdom for you!

1. You Must Have a Monster Vehicle: Leave the sports car at home. You need an SUV/Hummer-type vehicle for this. It’s not that you’ll get stuck in mud or something if you don’t have a big car, but there is no way in hell you can jam all the gear you need to bring in a little two-seater. Go big or go home. And so, we brought the Commander!

2.  Prepare for Disaster: While you monster vehicle may make it there, it could potentially die as you blare the finest in country music from its speakers for the four-hour tailgating festivities. And so, come prepared with some jumper cables! We sure put them to good use.

3. Bring Durable Seats: You are gonna want some place comfy to sit with a beer in hand, and the back of your vehicle is not the best spot. Bring some lounge chairs that you know are good. Our friend Sam brought an old chair with a busted leg, and just made the best of it. Ours were too low to the ground and super old … we should have upgraded before we headed to the concert. Lesson learned!

4. Find the Perfect Cooler: This is also a lesson learned for me. I went to Walmart that morning, and I picked up a cooler I thought was perfect. It would keep our food cold and it was deep. However, I failed to see the value of a locking lid and wheels at the time. Who knew those two features could make or break your tailgating day? I certainly know now.

5. You’ll Want Good Food: Yeah, you can bring your Publix subs and some chips, but you are going to want something special to put you in the mood. This is not a picnic. You need man food for a tailgate. And the meatballs I made that morning seemed to do the trick. Just throw meatballs, grape jelly and Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce in a Crock-pot on High for 2.5 hours, and then finished getting all your tailgate stuff together. When they are done, put them in a heat-safe bowl, cover and head on out!

6. Red Solo Cups Are Fun for Singing and Drinking: We listened to “Red Solo Cups” (It’s a country song for those of you who don’t know) on repeat again and again … all while drinking out of our red solo cups. They are great for holding limes, beer and whatever else you need. Plus, they are super cheap for your friends that need an extra cup.

7. You Need Protection: Protect yourself at all times. Bring a hat to keep your skin healthy all day long while you are in the sun. You probably thought I was talking about something else, but your skincare is just as important to me. Plus, your cowboy hat helps with the country-concert theme!

8. Fill that Cooler with Corona: There is nothing like a cold Corona at a country concert that just let’s you kick back and enjoy the day. I don’t even like to drink beer, but I can sip Corona until the cows come home. A cold Corona and a sliced lime is just that little piece of heaven you need to keep you going hour after hour in the hot sun!

9. Bring on the Tequila: You are gonna want to get rowdy, and tequila is the answer to that. We brought Patron and Jager to the party, and everyone was quite happy to have them there. In fact, I think some people were hoping their friend Jack Daniels had showed up as well. Bottoms up!

10. You Need Good Friends to Complete the Tailgating Package: You can have all the gear and food you could imagine … but without amazing friends, you might as well tailgate in your driveway. We had great people surrounding us, some that we met that night. We all had such a blast together!

And that’s life in a nutshell … tailgating can be an experience of a lifetime if you prepare in advance.


Mission Wives Relax: Cooking Dinner for Your Spouse

20 Jan

This post is dedicated to my amazing sister-in-law, Stacy. She is a woman who really does it all. She helps her dad with work, she works herself, she takes care of her husband and her three amazing children (Hi, Karissa, Kayla and Christopher) and still finds time to comment on almost every single one of my blog posts! And not only that, she keeps up with the five Facebook pages that PoppaNut and I have … and she comments on those too.

Plus, she texts us through the week and tries to schedule SKYPE calls with us too. She is just always there when we need her, and I know she generally cares about what we having going on with our lives … and I’m forever grateful for that.

Stacy and Chris

So, when Stacy emailed me an idea for my blog, I was all over it. It’s called “Mission Wives Relax” because wives certainly need a break from time to time. I mean, look at all the things I listed that Stacy does … this woman needs a tall glass of wine STAT!

Stacy and I are both lucky enough to have amazing hubbies that love to cook and will cook for us all the time. My dinner pick is always homemade sauce, and PoppaNut is always happy to make up a batch from scratch. It’s just a wonderful thing that PoppaNut does that reminds me how much he loves me. And Stacy is married to Chris, a chef who makes the most amazing food for his family and friends.

PoppaNut and I were lucky enough to try Chris’ homemade watermelon salsa when we visited Stacy and Chris last summer. Boy, was that yummy! And Stacy recently shared with me photos from a dinner Chris made for her, and I want to share them with you.

Chris made roasted pork with a raspberry sauce, sautéed corn with onions, broccoli with olive oil in garlic, and cous cous with sunflower seed and red peppers. If your mouth is not watering, you must have just ate lunch! I’ve requested a recipe to share with you guys, so look for that in the comments! I’ll share it as soon as I have it.

The point of this post is not to make you hungry … even though my tummy is talking to me at this very minute. It is to remind the men out there to pick up a spatula and get to work in the kitchen every now and then. My hubby certainly pulls his weight in the kitchen and he knows how much I appreciate that (and how much my tastebuds appreciate it too).

With Valentine’s Day coming up, this might be a good idea for you men to try. Cook up a specialty meal for your sweetie. Then, take pictures and send them to me so I can share them as well!

And that’s life in a nutshell … making dinner for the one you love works up quite an appetite for dessert!


A Vintage Feel: Incorporating Old Home-Decor Items into a Modern Home

16 Jan

I’m obsessed with vintage items. Whether it be for my home or my wardrobe, finding just the right vintage piece makes me smile from ear to ear. And while I like to call those items “vintage,” they are really just plain old, but with a ton of character.

I like to think about who owned them before me, and what story they have behind them. For example, I have a very old teapot in my home. It doesn’t look like much but it has quite a story behind it. From what my parents told me, my grandfather bought the teapot for my grandmother as a wedding gift when they said “I do.” My mom hung on to it for years after my grandmother passed away, and when I got my first apartment in Florida, that was the first family heirloom I received.

I think that is the first time I started to love old pieces. There is just something about an item with history that adds such character to a modern home. And right now, I’m on the hunt for a few more things to add to my home decor.

The first is a steamer trunk. When I mentioned this to PoppaNut, I think he thought I was crazy. What in the world would I do with a steamer trunk? Well, I think it would be the perfect spot to put my family quilts in … and we have the perfect little nook in our master bedroom that is dying for a bit of character. So, I’m going to continue looking for that perfect one on eBay.

The next thing on my wish list is a vintage wire mannequin. There really isn’t a place for it in my house at the moment, but I think it would be awesome if and when I get an office at work. I just love the romantic feel it gives off, and I would have so much fun dressing it up from time to time.

The last item that I’m after is a vintage typewriter. Since writing has always been a passion of mine, I’m just dying for one of these. My friend Erika has one in her house, and I just gushed over it when I saw it. I would put this above the cabinets in my kitchen if it arrived at my house today. I also received a special bracelet years ago from my very first editor, Denise Gee, that was made from the keys of an old typewriter. It was such a fond gift to receive from my mentor that I always think of her when I see an old typewriter too.

And that’s life in a nutshell … finding the perfect old items to add to your home décor can add character and a sense of nostalgia. What old items are you dying to add to your home?


On the Hunt: Finding One Vintage Milk Bottle

12 Jan

I’m always game for a good hunt. Give me a challenge, and I’m all over it. It’s a gene that runs through the Densmore family for sure. My mom can walk into Dillard’s and find the most amazing items on the sales racks. She will pull out one gem after another, when most people only find junk.

And my Aunt Debbie takes hunting to a whole new level. I can literally give her two words, like “blue vase,” and she can run down a list of places that have the perfect item for my home. I’m constantly amazed at Debbie’s unique finds (and don’t get me started on her art of return … which is another post for sure!).

Now, those are just two examples, but my Aunt Sherry, cousin Ashley and sister Stephanie also have this hunting gene. Us gals can find just about anything you are looking for. And that’s why I’m having such a hard time admitting our first hunting flop, and it starts with a vintage milk bottle.

During the holidays, my mom mentioned that my grandmother was looking for a vintage milk bottle from Greenville Diary from Greenville, IL. It seems that my great grandfather worked at the dairy, and my grandma has been searching for a bottle for years. Her and her sister have even ventured back to Greenville, IL to look for a bottle at antique shops with no luck.

This is my grandma who on the hunt for the bottle!

So, with that conversation, I put the wheels in motion. I signed up for alerts on eBay for “Greenville Dairy.” I started searching the web looking for anything about Greenville, but you would not believe how many cities there are named “Greenville.” There is one in Ohio, one in the Carolinas, another in Maine and so on. Well, I’m looking just for the one from Illinois, so the search continued.

Some of the bottles I found on eBay, but none from IL.

I started calling antique shops, and I thought I may have tracked one down. Unfortunately, a dairy farmer I was referred to has been looking for the same bottle for years, too! Dang it … another dead end! So, the search continues and now I’m taking it to the blogosphere.

Who can help me find this bottle?? Please forward this post on to anyone and everyone you think might be able to help me track it down. I’ll offer a $50 reward for anyone who gets me to the bottle I’m looking for.

And that’s life in a nutshell … I’m on the hunt and I need my awesome blog followers to help me discover this bottle. Happy Hunting!


Dropping the Bomb: Jalapeno-Popper Dip

10 Jan

I’m crazy about jalapeno poppers! Those hot peppers dance on my tastebuds like no other item in the grocery store. And when I ran across this recipe on Pinterest for Jalapeno-Popper Dip, I couldn’t resist giving it a try.

It was really easy to make, and most of the ingredients I had on hand in my pantry. I must warn you though … you’ll want to have a tall glass of milk on standby for when your mouth is on fire! You can reduce the heat by not adding the actually jalapeno peppers, but that just seems wrong to me. I mean, you might as well call it just popper dip if you are going to do that. But, it’s your tummy so do as you please!

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano
1 (4 ounce) can sliced jalapenos (pickled)
2 jalapeno peppers (chopped, optional)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano

1. Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, parmigiano reggiano and jalapenos in a bowl and pour into a baking dish.
2. Mix the panko bread crumbs and parmigiano reggiano and sprinkle over the dip.

3. Bake in a 375-degree oven until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 10-20 minutes.

This hot dish is great for group gatherings or special events like Super Bowl. I would call it “Man Dip” and the men in the room will eat it right up!

And that’s life in a nutshell … spice up your Super Bowl party with jalapeno-popper dip. Note to self, have mints on the table, too!


A Childhood Classic: S’mores Cupcakes

5 Jan

My parents and grandparents used to take me camping as a little girl. And while I never really liked roughing it, there is one reason that always kept me coming back for more: S’mores. I mean, who can resist marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate all melted together in one gooey mess. Not this sweets addict! I can’t get enough.

So, when I ran across a simple recipe for S’mores cupcakes, I couldn’t resist trying them. I must warn you though … these little bits of heaven are more addicting than a Real Housewives marathon. I couldn’t have less than two per sitting. So, bake with caution!

Ingredients for S’mores Cupcakes

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix

1-1/4 cups water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

4 bars (1.55 oz each) milk chocolate candy, finely chopped

24 baking cups


1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons milk

1 bar (1.55 oz) milk chocolate candy, if desired

24 bear-shaped graham crackers, if desired


Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box; fold in graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate bars. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake 18 to 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In large bowl, beat marshmallow creme, butter and powdered sugar on low speed until blended. Beat in enough milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to make frosting spreadable. Spread over tops of cupcakes. Divide chocolate bar into rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half and place on top of each cupcake. Top each cupcake with bear-shaped cracker. After frosting has set, store loosely covered.

And that’s life in a nutshell. Finding a simple recipe to bring back a childhood classic is simply classic in every way!


2011 in Review: My Blog

3 Jan

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog. See how we did!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,600 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 43 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Welcome 2012: New Year’s Eve

3 Jan

Welcome to 2012, dear readers! I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve. I wanted to share a few photos of our celebration! Enjoy!

Thanks to Pinterest, I found a few little crafts to dress up the food table. I made NYE letters (bought the wood letter from Michael’s and used spray paint and stickers to dress them up) and printed out a sign I found online and just framed it! I added some holiday decorations I found around the house as finishing touches!

Every year, I also type out all the amazing moments PoppaNut and I have had over the years. It helps me keep track of all the special memories since I can’t remember hardly anything these days!

I used this amazing three Crock pot kit from my parents to make most of the food. I had homemade mac n cheese, meatballs and artichoke dip. All turned out super yummy, and I’ll share the recipes later. For dessert, I made s’mores cupcakes!

My father-in-law was the first to arrive. Then, my sister-in-law Tracy came over with Jason, Josh, Jordan and Halie. Finally, Brooke, Brad and Lily made it to take part in the festivities. We all had a blast!

And that’s life in a nutshell … good food and good family time is all you need for one amazing NYE celebration!


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