my texas food journal…part ii (waco)

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

If you’ve been reading my posts lately, you know we just returned from a week in Texas!  Yesterday I shared our food experiences while we were in Austin (click here if you missed it)…today it’s all about food trucks, cupcakes, and burgers in Waco!

So you can’t go to Waco without visiting Magnolia Market at the Silos!  We actually spent an entire afternoon there…even eating two meals (lunch and an early dinner) from the food trucks.

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

Hot Dog House…When you have a family of five, everyone has different preferences when it comes to food.  After arriving at Magnolia at lunchtime, my older daughters headed off together to find something they would like.  Rather than stand in two (or three) different lines, we decided to go to this hot dog food truck because we knew they would have something our youngest would like.  While I’m not a big fan of hot dogs, I thought the Demo Day Dog (love the name) looked interesting…Dr. Pepper chili, cheese, bacon, and crispy onions topped with Frito chips!  Remember, we are on vacation…calories don’t count!  It was so loaded with toppings that I used my knife and fork to eat it, but it was very flavorful.

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

Silos Baking Co…Well, you can’t go to Magnolia without indulging in one of Joanna’s cupcakes!  The line was looong, and we were told that it would be a 45 minute wait…but we didn’t come all the way to Waco without getting a cupcake!  It was actually about a 30 minute wait, and the line moved quickly.  They even give you a small card with a menu on it while you are waiting, and you write your order on it so you are ready when you reach the counter.  I thought that was pretty efficient!

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

Now for those cupcakes…I went simple and ordered the Shiplap Cupcake (thought it went well with my Demo Day Dog).  It is a vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting, topped with an edible magnolia leaf.  So rich and creamy!

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

  my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

Cheddar Box…After exploring more of Magnolia and the city of Waco, we decided to go back to the food trucks for an early dinner (since they close at 6:00).  There were so many food options, we wanted to try more!  The line for this place was so long at lunch that I wasn’t surprised that most of the items were “sold out” when we went back.  I wanted the Sweet Granny,” as did my oldest…so with one left, we decided to share it.  This gourmet grilled cheese sandwich is made with Granny Smith apples, cream cheese, cinnamon, and honey on sweet potato bread.  YUM is all I can say!

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

In and Out Burger…Now, I know what you are thinking…”In and Out isn’t a locally-based restaurant.”  You’re right, it is based in California (we actually ate at one outside of Palo Alto a few years ago)  However, we don’t have any in Ohio and when those munchies hit us later in the evening after our early dinner at Cheddar Box, we headed out for a burger.  That special sauce of theirs adds just the right flavor to the meat!  My vegetarian daughter tried fries topped with the sauce…no burger for her!

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

And that ended our food experiences in Waco!

Check back later this week when I share our meals we enjoyed in San Antonio…

my texas food journal…part i (austin)

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

Earlier this month, we spent a week in Texas exploring various cities and the sights!  It was our spring break trip with the girls…our college daughter was even able to join us for a few days over the Easter holiday.  Having all five of us together made for one happy mom!

Part of our exploration was finding local, authentic restaurants while in Texas.  I mean, who wants to go thousands of miles away only to eat at a chain restaurant that you have in your own hometown!  So we are always on the lookout for fun and interesting places to eat while on a trip.  And calories…who’s counting!  We’re on vacation, remember…

We were in Texas for a week, and that’s a lot of meals (and pictures!)!  So I’m breaking my food journal into three parts…

Today is all about donuts, chili, and BBQ in Austin!

Voodoo Doughnut…They started their donut story in Portland, Oregon, but now have five locations, including one in Austin.  There are over 90 different donuts on the menu, with fun names like the Grape Ape, Captain my Captain, Maple Bacon Bar,  the Loop, the Pot Hole…and of course, the VooDoo Doll doughnut.  And as whimsically decorated as they are, they taste just as fresh and good!  I, of course, just had to try the VooDoo Doll, which has a raspberry filling.

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

There is plenty of seating in the eclectically-decorated Voodoo Doughnuts, and SO much to take in while you’re indulging in your donut…tables that are decorated with celebrity obituaries, large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and a large U.S. flag painted on the wall and accented with lights.  This place is a feast for the eyes and tastebuds!

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

Texas Chili Parlor…After touring the state capital building, it was time for lunch and an employee at the capital suggested this place.  Actually, she recommended Chipotle, to which I responded…”We have those in Ohio.  I want something unique!”  She quickly directed us to this small chili place just a few blocks from the capital.  Now, if you think the best food comes from those dive, hole-in-the-wall kind of places…then, this is your place!  The decor is nothing to boast about, but the chili is some of the best I’ve ever tasted!

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

I immediately felt at home when I ordered  my standard beverage of iced tea with lemon, and I clarified it by saying UNsweetened (since we were in the south)…AND he said that’s all we serve here!  Now for the chili…I had trouble deciding what to order so I went for the “chili taster”…a sampling of three varieties.  I chose the white pork chili, the black bean and sausage chili, and the gumbo.  They were all sooo good that I don’t know what my favorite was!

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

Salt Lick…This well-known BBQ place is located in Driftwood, about 30 minutes outside of Austin.  My husband had eaten there on a business trip and brought back a jar of their sauce, but it was my first time there.  There was a 45 minute wait, and we sat outside in the rustic patio area and listened to a guitarist while we enjoyed a beverage.  Somehow, I forgot to take pictures of this area, but trust me…it had such a fun vibe!  Lots of wooden picnic tables and benches, white lights strung around the trees and arbors.

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

We decided it was a good thing that our oldest was not with us for this meal, as she is a vegetarian!  Not too many meatless options on the menu!  We ordered the “Family Style”…which is all-you-can-eat beef brisket, sausage, pork ribs, and potato salad, cole slaw, and beans.  The sausage and ribs were my favorite!  Such great flavor!

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

And that was our day of eating in Austin!

Check back tomorrow when I share the meals we ate in Waco…


family pictures + holiday cards

It is that time of year when we actually enjoy receiving mail because it isn’t typical mail…bills and junk mail.  Instead, we love opening the envelopes to see the pretty and festive holiday cards that are sent to our houses!

My whole family (yes, even my hubby) looks forward to seeing the cards that are sent from friends and family, near and far!  It is fun to “catch up” with people we don’t see on a regular basis.  Holiday cards have come so far with the age of digital photography.  As a result, there are so many creative choices for cards these days.

I began thinking about our holiday card back in the summer.  I knew I wanted to have some family pictures taken before Audrey left for college (it had been a few years, maybe more than a few, since we had some taken).  So in between Audrey having her wisdom teeth removed, vacation plans, a business trip for my husband, and packing for college…we were able to schedule a time to have pictures taken!  And then ironically, our orthodontist surprised Grace and removed her braces the following day…you can imagine how she felt about wanting to retake the pictures without her sparkly smile!!

If you are like me, coordinating outfits for family pictures can be stressful!  I have three daughters with three different styles, and getting them to agree on something can be pure torture.  My husband is usually a good sport about this sort of thing, but I knew he didn’t want anything too “girly.”


We (and I say “we” because I had to get everyone on board with the idea) decided to go with shades of blue, white, and pops of coral!


The inspiration started with Claire’s white sundress with the coral tassel sleeves.  I added her metallic gold gladiator sandals and a navy blue bangle bracelet to complete the outfit.


Audrey wore this blue and white striped off-the-shoulder dress…along with cork wedges, a gold necklace with blue tassels, and a coral bracelet.


Grace chose a navy blue dress, coral sandals, and a white statement necklace.


I wore white jeans with a denim tunic shirt.  My accessories included blue gingham espadrille wedges and a coral statement necklace.


And for Phillip…he wore a white button-down shirt with blue lobster-printed shorts.  Happily, NO PINK for him!

So off we went to meet our photographer for some “urban inspired” pictures in downtown Toledo…



Now back to those cards…I’ve used the website, Minted, for our cards the past few years and I’ve always been pleased.  I started looking at all their holiday choices earlier this fall when I received the images from our photo session with Julie Trust, our photographer.  She captured so many great moments on film that I just couldn’t narrow it down to one picture!

So we created a BOOK, or booklette cards, as they are called on their website.  I really liked this option for a card because it allowed space for all those pictures, plus room to share updates on our family happenings in 2016.  So I spent some time “designing” our card using their template…




There were so many options as far as card colors, placement of pictures and text, size of pictures, border colors, envelope linings, etc. It took some time to design them so when I finally hit the submit button, I couldn’t wait to see the finished product!


One more thing I love about this company is that they will print the recipient addresses, as well as the return address, on your envelopes!  It even matches the font used on my cards!  I know the envelopes end up in the trash, but how fun is it to receive that in your mailbox…





I love staying connected with friends and family, so giving and receiving holiday cards is always one of my favorite parts of the season!


If you are in Toledo and looking for a local photographer, I highly recommend Julie Trust.  She made our photo session so easy…we didn’t even realize that an hour of time had passed.  And go check out the Minted website for cards, if you haven’t already!


turkey place cards

Hi, everyone!  I’m Claire, and I’m taking over my mom’s blog today.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays…probably because my birthday is around it.  I was even born on Thanksgiving!!  This year, it’s the day before.  I’ll be 10 years old.


One of my favorite crafts is these turkey place cards for Thanksgiving, so I’m going to tell you how to make them.



First, you need…

  • pinecones
  • red felt
  • candy corn
  • pompoms (I used black, but any color will work)
  • feathers
  • wiggle eyes
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • AND some cold water, in case you burn yourself with the hot glue gun like I did


Take a pinecone and some feathers, and squeeze the glue onto the pinecone and stick a feather in it.  Add about 5 more feathers with the glue.



Next, glue some wiggle eyes onto the pompom.


Add a piece of candy corn to it for the nose.


Cut a gobbler out of the red felt, and glue it on the pompom.


Finally, glue the pompom onto the pinecone.

Be careful…this is when I burned myself!  Ouch!!!


Type the names of your family members, and print them on card stock.  Cut them into strips and put them in the pinecones.




That’s it…all done!

Happy Thanksgiving!


halloween care package

Last month I shared a fun and preppy care package that I sent to my oldest daughter who started her freshman year of college this year.  If you missed that post, click here for the details.

I love putting surprises in the mail to her, and I think she likes receiving them…although, I did tease her when she was home for fall break that she’s taking them for granted!

Today, I’m sharing my latest care package…a Halloween care package.



First, I decorated the inside flaps of the box in much the same way as the other package, by adhering cardstock to them.  I used orange (of course) and a black and white pattern of clocks.  I thought it was appropriate since this is a countdown box, of sorts.



Some adhesive letters were put on the box flaps, giving the package a name…THE 13 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN.



Wording was added to the box flaps, with instructions to open one “trick or treat” each day until Halloween.




Next, I filled the box.  I wrapped 13 surprises in brown kraft paper and tied them with baker’s twine.  Then each one was assigned a number.


The directions say to open #1 on October 19th and then one each day.  That means #13 will be opened on Halloween!  A box of 13 fun surprises for the days leading up to Halloween!





All that is left to do is seal the box and mail it!

And wait to hear when she receives it…





college care package

With my oldest daughter off to college, I find myself sending care packages to her about once a week…after all, being a college freshman can be a big adjustment at first!  And receiving a box filled with goodies in the mail can brighten anyone’s day!


I had some fun assembling her latest care package, and I thought I’d share it today…since hopefully, she has received it by now and I won’t spoil the surprise!



Most teenagers and college kids enjoy the preppy clothing sold at Vineyard Vines.  You know that store…the one with the pink whale emblem and the “every day should feel this good” slogan.  It is one of my daughter’s favorite places to shop!

So I used the preppy pink whale idea to decorate the box…


With a few simple supplies…white alphabet stickers, blue gingham checked paper, glue dots, pink and blue tissue paper, shredded paper (pink, blue, and white), and the Vineyard Vines pink whale stickers…I was able to create a fun box in which to place some goodies.


First, I cut the blue checked paper to the size of the top flaps of the box.  I adhered the paper to the four sides of the box top with the glue dots.



The next step was to add the white sticker letters to the box flaps to write the message…









Then I added the whale stickers to each side of the box.  Adorable, right?

Now it’s time to fill the box!  Place some of the shredded paper in the bottom of the box.  Then wrap the contents of the box in the tissue paper and pack it neatly inside.  Add some more shredded paper on top, and you are ready to seal the box with packaging tape.




I added a bit more of that blue gingham paper and a pink card stock whale to the outside of the box for more whimsy.


I wish I could be there to see her open it!  I’m sure she will enjoy the contents of the box, and hopefully the box itself!

college send off

Well, it’s official…my oldest daughter is a college student!  We ALL survived the college move in day last week.  Just a few tears were shed…and not all by me.  It will be a time of adjustment for our family (Audrey included), but I feel good about where she is and the care she will receive while at Furman University.


The weeks leading up to her departure were filled with buying items for her dorm room, packing, and just trying to squeeze in as much quality time together as possible.

Her birthday is the beginning of September, and I’m so sad that it will be the first one that I won’t be with her to celebrate…so I planned an early birthday/ college sendoff celebration for her and our family the weekend before she left for college.


Before we left for dinner at a local restaurant that she has been wanting to go to for a while, I surprised her with six presents.  What she didn’t know was that each gift represented a letter to spell FURMAN.  It took her a bit to figure that out.  The first two presents that she opened were the A and the U…she thought we were spelling her name!

Of course the gifts were wrapped in Furman colors…purple and white.  Inside each box or bag was a clue as to what she was about to open.  Once the gift was revealed, there was another piece of card stock with a letter on it…those letters eventually spelled out FURMAN.




She opened them in random order, but I’ll share them in F U R M A N order…

F is for FOOTWEAR.  She had asked for these boots earlier this summer, and I think she was truly surprised when she opened them.  It was the last gift she opened, too…it was fun to see her excitement!



U is for umbrella.  I love this small one that I had monogrammed in her college colors…perfect for throwing in her backpack on those rainy days!



R is for Rogers…Jack Rogers sandals.  I know, I took some liberty with the alphabet here.  I really wanted to have a custom pair made for her in her school colors, so I worked it in there.  Aren’t they super cute and so southern?




M is for magazine subscription.  This girl snags my People magazine when it comes in the mail every week before I can even read it!  I know she will miss reading it, and it’s always fun to receive mail…so now she has her own subscription being sent to her at college.


A is for athletic shorts.  She’s looking forward to biking and walking the paths around the university, as well as checking out the physical activities center.


N is for notepads.  What college student doesn’t need them for their desk!


My rhyming skills may not be the best, but I know Audrey appreciated my efforts (and the presents).  It was a special night for our family to be together before she began her new adventure…college!


And I’m so glad Furman is just SIX letters!



cherry picking

You might know that we ventured “up north” a few weeks ago…that would be the northern Michigan area.  We spent some time in Traverse City, Leland, Petoskey, and Harbor Springs.  Such a beautiful area…there were times I forgot that we had just traveled one state to the north!

If you know anything about Traverse City, you know it is the “cherry capital of the world.”  From cherry salsa and cherry jam to hard cherry cider and granola with dried cherries, you will discover cherry products everywhere you look in Traverse City!


With cherries on my mind, I thought it might be fun to actually go to an orchard and pick some of the red, tart fruit.  We did just that when we stopped at the King Orchards in Central Lake, MI on our way home.



Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, peaches…we’ve picked them all before, but never cherries.  We had a great time, and we learned a few things along the way.

We started by picking the sweet cherries, which were not as I expected.  They are much darker in color, whereas the tart cherries are bright red.  I would have thought the opposite to be true about the colors of the tart/sweet varieties.



The orchard had ladders scattered among the trees, in case you couldn’t reach those higher branches.  However, climbing the tree is much more fun!



Next, we moved to the part of the orchard where the trees with tart cherries grew.






We decided that we like cherry picking because we don’t need to kneel or bend down…


The final stop was the cherry pitter…who knew there was such a machine!  We put the cherries in water at the bottom of the pitter, and then scooped out any stems, leaves, and bad cherries.


The machine was turned on, and the cherries made their way to the top of the pitter…row by row.



Once they reached the top, the pits were poked out of the fruit with small metal points.



The pits went into a trash compartment of the machine, and the now-pitted cherries dropped down onto the conveyor belt to be bagged for transporting home.



I’m sure I didn’t accurately describe the process of pitting the cherries, but I am SO grateful that we did this!  After arriving home with 40 plus pounds of cherries, I can’t imagine removing all those pits by hand!

Now you ask…what did I do with all those cherries?

Check back later this week, as I’ll be sharing one of my favorite cherry recipes…

cardboard boat regatta

We had some fun participating in a cardboard boat regatta a few weeks ago!  We’ve been spectators at this event several times, but this year we decided to give it a go and create our own boat.

The rules are that the boat can only be constructed using cardboard and duck tape, and that there must be at least two rowers in the boat.  So we started gathering cardboard…lots of cardboard.  My husband lucked into some triple corrugated cardboard that is used to ship axel wheels…needless to say, it was super durable.


After gathering as much cardboard as we thought we needed, a design for the boat was formulated and the construction began.  Bring on the saws and tools!


Once the cardboard was cut, the pieces were put together using white duck tape.




Lots and lots of duck tape…


Now came the fun part…decorating it!  We decided to use the Lilly Pulitzer pattern, “You Gotta Regatta.”  Cute, right?  Not only did we use the design for the boat, but also the name.

First, we spray painted a few coats of white paint to hide the brown cardboard.


Then, we painted the outline of the boat pattern using blue paint.



The rest of the design was filled in with colorful paints…bright pink, orange, green, and yellow.  Blue waves were added around the boats to complete the design.



The finishing touch was the sign for the boat…”You Gotta Regatta with Lily and Claire”



Now the goal was to paddle the boat across the pool and back!



We didn’t win first place…or second!  However, we did win for “Best Name.”

And we had a lot of fun!

P.S.  My husband is already thinking of a better design for next year’s cardboard boat race!!!



route 66

Our spring break travels took us to Arizona this year!   We spent a few days relaxing poolside at a resort in Phoenix, and then we headed to the Grand Canyon for some hiking and sight-seeing.

We stayed in the quaint town of Williams, Arizona.  The Historic Route 66 runs right through the town of Williams, and it is the town closest to the Grand Canyon.  It is about 45 minutes from the Grand Canyon, which makes it a great location to stay (unless you have accommodations in the Grand Canyon National Park…and those need to be reserved well in advance).




One way to visit the Grand Canyon is the train that departs from Williams.  We did not do this, but it looked like a fun way to explore the area.


There is some history associated with the town of Williams.  It is the last town to have its section of Route 66 bypassed.  It wasn’t until 1984 that I-40 was opened around the town, and therefore ending the official Route 66.




The town of Williams is like going back in time…it is such a cute town filled with lots of character and charm.  There are lots of gift shops, most of them selling Route 66 merchandise and Native American items.





We enjoyed a few meals while we were in town.  Cruisers Cafe is a fun 1950’s theme diner…great atmosphere, tasty burgers and yummy milkshakes!  The Red Raven offers casual fine dining, and we had a delicious dinner there one evening.  We enjoyed omelets and pancakes for breakfast at Anna’s one morning.





Aside from shopping and eating, it is fun to just walk around the town of Williams.  So much to see…I couldn’t help but think of the Disney movie “Cars” as we explored this town.








The town of Williams reminded us of simpler times in small town America.  I’m so glad we were able to spend some time exploring Route 66!