by Melanie

Kiss Under the Stars

April 28, 2014 in Great Room, Master Suite by Melanie

I love fun holidays, and today’s is especially awesome.

April 28 is “Kiss Your Mate Day,” which already sounds like a great day to me, but it gets even better when you add “International Astronomy Day.” What do you get when you add astronomy and kissing?

Kiss Under the Stars Day! Now that is something I can celebrate.

kiss under the stars

Last year, Mr. 4018’s aunt invited our family to join them for a camping trip in Nevada. We went to a spot where we would have a great view of the Perseids meteor shower. And I just have to say… it was AMAZING!

I don’t think I had ever even seen a shooting star before, so watching meteor after meteor shoot across the sky absolutely took my breath away. For reals. I couldn’t help but gasp at each new streak of light.

So here’s what I’m thinking…

The next meteor shower is happening in about a week. So let’s have a belated celebration of Kiss Under the Stars Day on May 6, the “peak day” of the shower. That means it’s the day you should be able to see the most meteor activity.

What do you need to do? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Drive away from the city lights to a dark place where you can get comfy. You want your eyes to stay adjusted to the dark, so be sure you’re not in a spot where car headlights will shine on you. You don’t want trees or other structures to obscure your view.

Now get comfy and settle in. You may want snacks and drinks, a blanket, bug spray… basically bring what you would need to watch July 4th fireworks, but remember it’s May so it’s probably a bit colder than July. Make sure you’re snuggled close to your “mate” for the smooching part of the night. 🙂

When you’re all settled in, look approximately half way up the sky facing east. If you see heavy lights while facing east, turn more to the north or south. Don’t look directly up at the sky, and you should be able to see 10-20 meteors per hour a few hours before the sun rises.

Enjoy kissing under the stars while you watch nature’s great fireworks show.

Have you ever watched a meteor shower?

by Melanie

40 Favorite Holidays

March 19, 2014 in Great Room by Melanie


Maybe that should say “holidays.” I mean, can you really call Poultry Day a holiday? But that’s what today is. Are you having a poultry celebration today?

I was all set with this month’s edition of 40 Things, but then I saw that article circulating again. You know that one about holidays and how we need to “tone it down a notch…” You probably know how I feel about it already, but a friend shared this article today that made me realize I’m not the only one!

I am so in love with that article. It says exactly how I feel about this whole thing! And motherhood in general. Especially this:

So, I guess what I am saying is that you are the perfect mother for your children and your kids just need YOU. They need your best self, and when you are being that, whoever YOU are, is enough. After that realization, who other people are, what they do and what they have fades into the background and what emerges is who you are now and who you can become.

So because I love to celebrate random holidays – not to keep up with anyone or prove what an amazing mom I am, but because it’s how I enjoy motherhood – here are 40 of my favorite holidays to celebrate… that you probably haven’t even heard of.


  1. January 6: Cuddle Up Day
  2. January 13: Make Your Dream Come True Day
  3. January 19: National Popcorn Day
  4. January 21: National Hugging Day
  5. January 23: National Pie Day
  6. January 27: Chocolate Cake Day
  7. January 28: National Kazoo Day
  8. February 1st Saturday: Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day
  9. February 16: Do a Grouch a Favor Day
  10. February 17: Random Acts of Kindness Day
  11. February 19: National Chocolate Mint Day
  12. March 1: Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day
  13. March 15: Incredible Kid Day
  14. March 22: National Goof Off Day
  15. March 23: National Chip and Dip Day
  16. March 26: Make Up Your Own Holiday Day
  17. March 28: Something on a Stick Day
  18. April 3: Don’t Go to Work Unless It’s Fun Day
  19. April 4: Walk Around Things Day
  20. April 7: Caramel Popcorn Day
  21. April 7: No Housework Day
  22. April 11: Barbershop Quartet Day
  23. April 14: International Moment of Laughter Day
  24. April 3rd Thursday: National High Five Day
  25. April 23: Take a Chance Day
  26. May 4: Star Wars Day
  27. May 6: No Diet Day
  28. May 8: No Socks Day
  29. Followed by May 9: Lost Sock Memorial Day
  30. May Friday before Mothers’ Day: Military Spouses Day
  31. May 20: Pick Strawberries Day
  32. May 22: Buy a Musical Instrument Day
  33. June 1st Friday: National Doughnut Day
  34. July 1: Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day
  35. July 9: National Sugar Cookie Day
  36. July 28: National Milk Chocolate Day
  37. July 30: National Cheesecake Day
  38. July 31: Harry Potter Day
  39. August 2: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
  40. August 3: National Watermelon Day
  41. August 8: Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day
  42. August 15: Relaxation Day
  43. August 27: Just Because Day
  44. September 5: Be Late for Something Day
  45. followed by September 6: Fight Procrastination Day
  46. September 19: International Talk Like a Pirate Day
  47. September 22: Elephant Appreciation Day
  48. October 11: It’s My Party Day
  49. October 14: National Dessert Day
  50. November 1st Saturday: Book Lovers Day
  51. November 3: Housewife’s Day
  52. December 7 Letter Writing Day
  53. December 8: National Brownie Day
  54. December 16: National Chocolate Covered Anything Day
  55. December 18: Bake Cookies Day

I thought you might want to know September 2 is National Beheading Day. Seriously? That’s a day???

I know, I know, I didn’t stop at 40. It’s 40 +15 bonus holidays because I just couldn’t narrow down the list anymore.

Tomorrow is Extraterrestrial Abductions Day. Any ideas how we can celebrate that one???


by Melanie

Green Eggs and Ham for Dr. Seuss Day!

February 26, 2014 in Great Room, Kitchen by Melanie

A fun twist on Green Eggs and Ham to celebrate Dr. Seuss day with Deviled {Green Eggs} and {Ham} Broccoli Ring! from #drseuss

I am Sam. Sam I am.

I think Green Eggs and Ham is my favorite Dr. Seuss book because it’s the first one Beth could read on her own. A cute little girl reading a cute little story is just about the cutest thing ever! So naturally we’re celebrating Dr. Seuss Day on March 2nd with Green Eggs and Ham.

My older brother made {green} scrambled eggs for my girls once when we were all visiting grandma’s house. I don’t even remember why he did that, but I do remember how much they LOVED it. For the next few years, every time we visited, they would ask for green eggs. It became one of those special grandma’s house treats.

Getting ready for Dr. Seuss Day, I’m thinking about Green Eggs and Ham, but I need a new twist on green eggs to make it extra special. My kiddos are totally in love with deviled eggs, so I’m sure this is the perfect twist I am looking for! And of course, we can’t just have a boring old piece of ham. So we’ll add to the fun with a delicious Ham Broccoli Ring that everyone LOVES.

A fun twist on Green Eggs and Ham to celebrate Dr. Seuss day with Deviled {Green Eggs} and {Ham} Broccoli Ring! from #drseuss

My deviled eggs are simple and delicious and made to taste. Which means I don’t really have a recipe to share… since I never measure what I put in, but here is my basic process.

Start by making hard-boiled eggs. Add a single layer of eggs to your pot and cover with cold water. Heat to a boil over high heat. When you’ve got a hard boil going, turn off the heat, cover with a lid, and let it sit for 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, pour off the hot water and cover with cold water to stop the cooking.

When you’re ready to work with the eggs, remove the shells and slice the eggs in half. Remove the yolks. Place the whites on a platter and the yolks in a bowl. I usually end up with a few eggs that didn’t peel very well, and I add those to the bowl, too, whites and all. Mash the egg yolks (and those few mutilated whole eggs) with a fork and then start making them tasty.

I add onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, Miracle Whip and mayonnaise (yes, both), mustard, and dill pickle juice. I may add salt if they need it, but they usually don’t need any more than what is already in the pickle juice. To make them green add blue, yellow, and green food coloring — a lot of blue, a bit of yellow, and some green.

Scoop the filling into the egg whites. I think the easiest way to do that is with a baby spoon. The baby spoon is great for taking the yolks out of the eggs whites in the beginning, too. Or you could use a pastry bag or ziploc bag with a large star tip and pipe the filling into the whites to make it look extra fancy. Sprinkle the tops with paprika – which I didn’t do here because they’re green, but I always add paprika to my non-green deviled eggs – and they’re ready to enjoy.

A fun twist on Green Eggs and Ham to celebrate Dr. Seuss day with Deviled {Green Eggs} and {Ham} Broccoli Ring! from #drseuss

Broccoli Ham Ring

  • 2 tubes refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 1-1/2 c shredded Swiss cheese (or any kind of cheese you want! – I did a mixture of Swiss and cheddar in this batch)
  • 1 c diced ham
  • 2-1/2 c fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped (or 2-3 green onions – my fave)
  • 1 tomato, diced (optional)
  • 1/4 c minced fresh parsley (or about 2 tsp dried parsley)
  • 1 Tb mustard
  • 2 Tb Ranch dressing
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Unroll crescent dough and place triangles around a round baking pan (like a pizza pan) with the edges overlapping. Lightly press the ends together to seal them.

Combine everything else in a big’ol bowl, then spoon it over the ring you made with the wide ends of the rolls. Fold the thin points over the filling and tuck under the wide ends. This won’t cover the filling completely. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

A fun twist on Green Eggs and Ham to celebrate Dr. Seuss day with Deviled {Green Eggs} and {Ham} Broccoli Ring! from #drseuss

This may be my new favorite way to eat Green Eggs and Ham! And I will eat them in the rain and in the dark and on a train and in a car and in a tree. They are so good, so good you see!

You will like it, you will see. You will like it just like me!

How are you celebrating Dr. Seuss Day???

by Melanie

Cherries + Cheesecake = Cloud Nine

February 20, 2014 in Great Room, Kitchen by Melanie

Happy Cherry Pie Day! I may have mentioned before that I am not a huge fan of fruit pies. Honestly, cherry pie really isn’t my thing, but I couldn’t let this day go by without celebrating somehow.

I think adding the word “cheesecake” is the best thing that can happen to a pie.

I’m also a huge fan of desserts I can cut into bars. I mean, let’s be real. Bars are so much easier to eat. And so much easier to justify *just one more.*

One more bar? Sure! It’s not like I’m eating a whole piece of pie!

So let’s celebrate Cherry Pie Day with some fabulous Cherry Cheesecake Bars. All in favor?

I brought these to the kids’ school for the teachers’ monthly birthday treat from the PTA. I brought four different kinds of bars (and they were all delish!). When I went back later to clean up, there wasn’t even a crumb of these left on the plate. They’re so yummy.

cherry cheese bars

Cherry Cheese Bars


  • 1 c walnut pieces, divided
  • 1-1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c coconut


  • 2 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling

Start with your prep work. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Coarsely chop 1/2 c nuts and set them aside. You will use these later for the topping. Then chop the rest of the nuts.

For the crust, combine the flour and brown sugar. Cut in the butter until you have fine crumbs. Add 1/2 finely chopped nuts and mix well.

Take 1/2 cup of that mixture and add it to the nuts you set aside earlier. Press the rest into the the bottom of your baking dish. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Do not over bake.

For the filling, combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Spread over hot baked crust and return to the oven. Bake 15 minutes. Do not over bake.

Spread the cherry pie filling over the cheese layer. Of course for Cherry Pie Day we’ll use cherry, but you can substitute any flavor pie filling that sounds good to you. Next time I’m making strawberry. mmmmm I didn’t want big chunks of cherries, so I used my immersion blender to puree the pie filling a bit first.

Return it to the oven and bake another 15 minutes. (Do not over bake. Are you sensing a theme here? Don’t over bake.)

One more layer to go! If you haven’t mixed the nuts and crust mixture that you aside, do it now. Then sprinkle it over the pie filling. Return it to the oven one more time and bake another 15 minutes. And what’s our theme? Do not over bake.

Cool in the pan on a cooling rack, then refrigerate for several hours. When you’re ready to enjoy this delectable dessert, cut it into bars and try not to inhale it. If you do have any bars left over, store them in the fridge.

Savor every single scrumptious bite. Happy Cherry Pie Day!

by Melanie

Family Valentine’s Party

February 1, 2014 in Great Room by Melanie

I love Valentine’s Day.

Love. It.

Sure, you have to pay 4 times as much as usual for flowers and chocolate. Okay, greeting cards are expensive and cheesy. Maybe the pressure can get a little high to plan the perfect romantic evening. And then there’s the whole “It doesn’t mean as much if you’re doing it just because of a date on the calendar” argument.


Haters gonna hate, but I think any day devoted to expressing your love to the people closest to you is a good thing.

Who says you need ridiculously expensive flowers and chocolate and high-pressure dates to have a great day???

My favorite Val’s day tradition is our family party. It started when the younger kids wanted to exchange valentines like their big sisters did at school. So we set up bags next to the dinner plates and everyone passed out their little valentines.

We loved it so much that now we do it every year… except the year Chuck was in the hospital with RSV and pneumonia on Valentine’s Day. Ah, family life. Never a dull moment.

Family Valentine's Day celebration

It always starts with a fun dinner. One year we did a big breakfast for dinner complete with biscuits and gravy, hash browns, fresh fruit with homemade whipped cream, eggs, juice…. it was divine. Whatever we eat, it’s always something everyone loves.

We decorate the table and make sure there’s a spot for everyone’s valentines. I love the monogram bags we made last year. The bags were Christmas clearance items I bought for pennies. I cut the letters and hearts out of cute scrapbook paper with my silhouette and just glued them on. Easy, cheap, and cute – my favorite kind of craft!

I bought those cute little boxes of chocolates that you can find for a dollar or two, and set one at each place. For a “centerpiece” we sprinkled candy down the center of the table. Appetizer, decoration, and dessert in one!

Family Valentine's Day celebration

We read our valentines, eat yummy food and treats, play fun games, and have a fabulous night together celebrating how much we love each other.

Of course, I love to celebrate with my sweetheart, just the two of us – and we will – but who doesn’t love an excuse to celebrate just being a family?

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day???

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