In July, Bob and I hosted a big, surprise party for my mom Patsy. Wanting to give her a special memory, we planned the get-together a full month before mom's actual birthday and worked with my brother and sister to invite family and friends we hadn't seen in YEARS.
Then we went into hyper-drive trying to make our house look its very best. Everyday clean simply would not do for the big day. We dusted ceiling fans, lemon-oiled cabinets, squeegeed glass and more. It was EXHAUSTING but simpler than expected thanks to some help from neatHOME's clever Connect and Clean System.
It includes a wide assortment of cleaning tools, each designed to work with extension handles that let you reach high places without dragging out a ladder. Besides being faster, that's a safer way to clean. Just ask Bob. It took three surgeries and more than five years for him to recover from a run-in with a ladder in 2005.
Even better, many of the gadgets are made of microfiber so they have an electrostatic property that grabs dust, dirt and odor-causing bacteria and holds onto them until you wash them out. Since microfiber actually picks up dust rather than just pushing it around, you can clean effectively without chemicals. Now, that's amazing stuff!
Charlotte's the Coupon Clipper in our family. She can spot a deal a mile away and I think there are stores out there that just know she'll beat them at their own game whenever she darkens their door **no offense Banana Republic**, Me? I'll clip 'em if I can save 50-cents on a roll of Duct Tape at Lowe's. Or light bulbs. Especially light bulbs.
The combination of strawberries and fresh basil in a pie might strike you as odd, but basil is a member of the mint family, which often pairs beautifully with fresh fruit in desserts.
They say the donuts here are so good it's almost a crime.
With summer winding down, we'll soon be saying good-bye to long, lazy days by the pool. But that doesn't mean you have to bid adieu to gorgeous, bronze skin.
Entertaining a crowd? My rule of thumb is "Keep it simple."
So, when my sister Pam visited recently, I immediately thought of these yummy peanut butter cookies with chocolate kiss centers. She and her family stayed with Bob and I while in town to celebrate my mom's birthday, filling our typically empty nest and making it eight for dinner instead of the usual two.
Charlotte and I had a wonderful dinner with Francis Ford Coppola winemaker Corey Beck earlier this year. Corey showed off a few of his favorite Coppola wines - all retailing under $20. Just as the evening was winding down, he stepped it up a notch and poured what may be the best mid-priced cabernet I've ever had: Coppola's Director's Cut Cabernet Sauvignon.
Today's microwaves have settings for just about anything.
Charlotte and I are both cancer survivors. It's not something we're necessarily proud of **except for the "surviving" part** but, it's something we carry with us every day of our lives. Keeping healthy has always been part of our DNA and we've discovered that eating right is an easy place to start.
Not available in soft serve...
For our 35th wedding anniversary, Bob and I gave each other a fabulous, seven-day cruise.
The voyage from Rome to Nice was straight off our bucket list. On ship, we had a gorgeous suite, a fridge that magically restocked itself with Cabernet, ice cold beer and my favorite Coke Light; and a table for two with front-row view of the Mediterranean. Once in port, we were greeted by one warm, clear day after another as we toured Capri, St. Tropez, and other seaside treasures along the Italian and French Rivera.
In fact, everything would've been perfect if it weren't for my eyes. Looking directly at the ultra-BRIGHT sun reflecting off the water as well as off those bodacious beaches, my left eye watered constantly. My makeup ran. And I wanted to hide before being seen in public let alone in the tons of vacation pics Bob was sure to snap.
That's when I knew I had to wear shades. Thank goodness I'd packed my Derek Cardigan sunglasses from Coastal.com. They came to the rescue and then some.
With their polarized lens protecting my eyes from the glare, there were no more tears! Even better, since I couldn't face the sun without them, my Derek Cardigans made a chic style statement. Think wayfarer design only thinner and more modern in glossy black. Heck, wearing those sunglasses in movie-esque ports like Monaco, I not only forgot about my eye turmoil, I felt almost famous!
Now, it's your turn. Ready for your close-up? We've teamed up with the eyewear pros at Coastal.com to give away a celeb-worthy duo of designer shades from Derek Cardigan ($208 value).
Charlotte and I are both Type A types. We love multitasking and we're never without an iPhone, iPad, iPod or some other piece of technology. Yeah, I know. It kinda blows the whole idea that Boomers are Luddite sloths **not applicable to me during football season**.
After spending two decades shopping for food, planning meals, cooking and thinking about everyone else's dietary needs, you find yourself in an empty nest, and with an empty fridge and cupboard.
Sand, surf and sun ... glorious sun. I'm wild about summer and most everything that comes with it.
But surviving my favorite season without burning, melting, wilting or worse can be a challenge, even when you adore the heat as much as I do. That's when these 10 warm-weather musts come in handy. Great for your body, face and hair, they'll help keep you looking and feeling your best while out and about this summer.
I'll be stocking up just as soon as I can get there...
Travel is supposed to get you out of your comfort zone.
I mean, c'mon, if you wanted to see the same stuff you have at home it'd be a whole lot easier to kick back and watch a rerun of Honey Boo Boo Pawn Stars. Right?
Foreign, is well, foreign. That doesn't mean you have to understand it, but it helps a lot if you can at least try and appreciate it.
Charlotte and I experienced a butt-load of foreign on our first-time cruise. Language (foreign). Customs (foreign). Currency (very foreign).
But then, some of it wasn't so foreign-ey. We'd been to Florence once before and discovered we liked the people, food and (you know I'm talking about Charlotte here) SHOPPING.
This time it was almost like visiting an old friend. An old friend who speaks a language that makes you think you've stumbled on to the set of Godfather IV.
Growing up, I adored Sunday lunches at my Mamaw Robertson's house. She cooked wonderful pinto beans especially for me - the 1 of her 13 grandchildren who wasn't a fried chicken fan. Yes, I was the oddball but she never complained. Instead, she happily made my favorite dish, let me add ketchup for a tomato taste and taught my mom Patsy how to cook guaranteed-tender red beans.
If you want a lesson in survival you don't have to look any further than country/rock/blues icon Leon Russell.