beans. beans.


It's no secret that the best part of camping is the food.

I bought a dutch oven a year ago that I have since fallen utterly in love with.

The family favorite is beans. Yes. Beans.

  • l Can Pork and Beans
  • 1 Can Lima
  • 1 Can Baked Beans (plain)
  • 1 Can Pinto
  • 1 Cup Cooked Bacon
  • 1 Cup Cooked Sausage
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 Sweet Onion
  • Ground Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large pot and cook on low flame for at least 1 hour (I like to heat it slow for 3 hours). Never boil, only simmer.

This is wonderful with a big slice of bread and sweet ice tea. Yum!

I prefer them with homemade corn bread.


She likes it with a little attitude.


And this one just likes corn. She prefers her own and then mine. Grandpa's is nice too. The problem is that you just can't tell her no. Trust me, I've tried. Those big pale blue eyes see right through me. She knows just how to lure you in and when she says, "Peas?"

...it's all over.


Beach Camping + Malibu


For 3 days while camping we had to hike almost a mile to get to the beach. The State decided to put up a
stupidnice bird preserve right between the campgrounds and the ocean.

Hiking with children through the sand became much too tedious by the third day, so we packed it up and headed for a warmer and more accessible beachfront in Malibu.

There are always unknowns about going to the beach. Questions to be asked and answered:

Is it going to be cloudy?
Will it be warm?
Did we pack enough food?
Is there a bathroom nearby?
Do I totally protect my skin or try for that little tan I've been missing since I was 18?

...and Why in the world is that woman 30 feet from us laying topless?

Really? You are just going to camp yourself next to a group of 9 people and let it all hang out? I'm so confused.

Maybe because she saw my MaeMae without her top on the 30-something-year-old thought it was okay?

Yeah, totally not the same thing.


We found treasures.


We exfoliated.


We reconnected.




We just enjoyed the Pacific. All of us Gardiner's and this particular little one that is stealing my heart away daily.


Ithe beach.

home, sweet home?


Last night we returned to the inferno of Phoenix.

Apparently summer came while we were away soaking up the sun and enjoying 70 degree weather camping at the beach in So Cal. It had been unseasonably cool here before we left.

Our house was 95 degrees when we walked in and it took 2 hours to get down to 92. Literal hell. It was 111 outside as we unpacked the car. My poor babies didn't seem to care as they reconnected with their beloved toys and bed. I guess when you are a kid it's always nice to be home, even when your home isn't so nice to you.

You remember the feeling, right? Running into the house checking on everything - making sure it's just as you left it. Jumping on your bed and cuddling up to your cool sheets. Coming home is almost the best part of leaving - that is, only when you don't notice the sweat dripping from every pore of your body.

But I am back, and this week I hope to clutter The Dirt with photos of the beach and who knows...maybe that will help keep things cooled off around here.




Tonight the girls feel asleep in the car on an evening drive through the (sort-of) getto that we live by.

I thought bed time was going to be a breeze. You know, that we could just slip them into their beds and that they would not make a peep. That there would be no whimpers for milk, extra loves, cuddles, books, water, bunnies, blankets, pillows, etc.

Well, the big one was agreeable and immediately rolled over and snuggled up to her pillow as E laid her down, but

the little one....

She is a different story.

She is a tyrant at bedtime. She wants to be held just so and for just so long. It normally isn't a problem since I adore her cuddles and the smell of her sweet head and the feel of her soft skin. I try to take in how big she is as I try to remember how little she once was. It's hard to remember and I hate that I forget.

Here is the real problem though. I'm losing room on my lap. My back is achy and Three gets a little squished. Easy doesn't cut it for her as she wants the real deal. She wants Momma. So, I snuggle her, but have been cutting down on the time. It's just by a few minutes and I think that she won't notice, but she won't have it.

And she screams.


I hate it. I am exhausted and lay her down. I know that I just need to let her adjust. That she will learn. That I need to stick to the plan.

But it is hard and she is still my baby. So after the crying is done I sneak in and feel her sweet breath. I lean down over her railing (which is getting harder) and kiss her warm (and usually sweaty) head.

Because for now, this stubborn little tyrant is still my baby and I still think that she needs her Momma.


New Gardiner Love


Fat (Easy's brother) is getting married!

To Steph.

And I couldn't be happier for them. They are so cute, right?

I'm just praying I don't have school when they decide to do this thing. I'm already missing my "one day" by having a baby in October. Hopefully they'll keep the rumored date and I can still have my baby. Otherwise, no baby til December.

That will suck.


draw. saw. paint. hang. share.

Since I'm free of school, I get to do what I really love again.

Which is:
See things that I really like, think to myself, Hey I can do that, and then try to make it happen.


Step 1. Go to Home Depot or sLowe's and pick up particle board. Pick up Chalkboard paint while you are at it. Don't forget to gasp a little when you see the price of the paint.

2. Draw and Cut. Watch out for fingers.

3. Sand edges. Side note: I hate sanding. It gives me chills all over my body. I can barely touch sandpaper alone or look at this photo without wanting to puke. Eeeek!

Ha! Remember how I mentioned to watch out for those fingers.

4. Paint and instruct pesky little girls to keep their hands off while following paint instructions on can.

5. And because you had to buy enough wood for 2, make one for your best friend since she is coming over with her sweet girls to enjoy a day in the sun.

See, paying that much for the paint isn't so bad when you get to share.



A Pickletree


Hey Momma! (I love it when she calls me that)

What are those pickles doing on that tree up there?


1 down. 3 to go.


Five months ago
I started nursing school - quite the journey as a mother of two small children.

We moved into a new home shortly after and I immediately found out I was pregnant with a third child.

I admit it has been a little overwhelming. Not the school part, but the being away from my family part. Every Saturday for the last five months has been spent in a classroom, a Long Term Care Facility, or working 12 hour shifts at the hospital.

Easy hasn't had an official "day off" in months.

To say the least: We are exhausted!

But today it ends. Today I have my last final. I will pass (even if I don't do so hot) and we will celebrate - all of us. We have all made it together. We have all sacrificed and are all still so in love.

And that is worth a major celebration!

In the coming weeks we will camp, swim, play with friends, and visit family. We will reconnect with each other and savor every moment. E and I will stay up late and watch movies, maybe go on a date, and enjoy sleeping in together on Saturday mornings (hopefully).

I can't wait.




this is all it takes? stickers? on a chart? my heavens, how did i go without it for so long?

behold, the power behind a silly shiny little happy face!

potty time (for the little one)
make bed

get dressed

pick up toys

anything i ask because she can't read


me hoping it will last...



i was feeling it.

a little down. uninspired.

like this first block of nursing school has really got the best of me.

E suggested i take a trip to the Good Will.

and it worked. i found treasures.


and a cheap nasty trunk that i will attempt to beautify once i have little Three here


because paint-stripping chemicals are far too nasty to deal with while pregnant. i'll keep you posted on it.


I love

sabotaging Easy's facebook status.



Summer Lovin'

(I'll start off because I'm weird and take a pictures of my food. This was 7 months ago)


From: Hays

Strawberry Spinach Salad

1/4 c sugar
1 qt fresh strawberries
1 package washed baby spinach greens
1 c sliced almonds
1 recipe Honey Celery Seed Dressing

Lightly sprinkle sugar over strawberries and toss with spinach just before serving. Top with desired amount of toasted almonds and dressing

Dressing (that I could almost drink):

3/4 c sugar
1/2 c honey
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp finely grated onion
1/2 c lemon juice
1 c veg oil
1/2 tsp celery seed

Mix all ingredients except oil and celery seed in a blender. Gradually add oil and celery seed and continue blending. Toss with Salad or pass for individual goodness. Dressing keeps 3 weeks in fridge - yeah, make it again!

From: Meg

Pork Tenderloin

Marinade 15 minutes in cheapo teriyaki sauce
grill 2-3 minutes on each side on high to sear the meat.
reduce heat to med-low and grill 8 min on each side.

Sauce: 2 parts sour cream to 1 part light mayo (about 1 1/2 cups total)
2 TBS worchestershire sauce
1/2 TBS mustard (yellow or dijon, your preference)
1-2 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper
whisk. dip da meat. eat da meat.

serve with baked sweet potatoes.


From: Momma Roxy

Fruity Tortellini Salad

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained
1 medium grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
1 medium lemon, peeled and sectioned
2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
1 cup halved seedless red grapes
2 cups cubed cooked chicken, optional
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup cashews


Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl, combine the tortellini, fruit and chicken if desired.
In a small bowl, whisk the syrup and orange juice; pour over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle with cashews just before serving. Yield: 6-8 servings.

From: Tiffany R

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers with BBQ Sauce

cut up raw chicken into cubes,
wrap them with bacon and put them on a skewer. Then baste them with Famous Daves Sweet and Zesty BBQ sauce and thow on the grill. YUMMY!
Also it is good to use extra thick bacon for wrapping.

From: Karen

No Title, but it looks like Cowboy Caviar?

2 avacados diced
2 roma tomatoes diced
1 can shoe peg corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 large bunch of cilantro cut up
1/4 cup light zesty italian salad dressing
1/4 cup salsa verde
salt and pepper to taste

I have also made it with a little red onion, really tasty too!

From: Tiffany N

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

2 Bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6-8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (softened)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream

Line the bottom of 13x9x2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top. In a bowl, combine milk and pudding and mix with a hand mixer until well blended. In another bowl, combine the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Then add the cream cheese mixture to pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to use.

and finally...

From: Hays

That Dreamy Chocolate Cake

2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water


1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans.
2. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. In another, mix together eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ones and blend for 2 minutes on medium speed. Stir in boiling water. Batter
will be thin. Pour evenly into two pans.
3. Bake for 30-35 minutes (toothpick test). Cool in pans for 10 minutes, CAREFULLY turn out and finish cooling on wire racks.


1 cup butter (softy soft soft)
1 cup cocoa
3T corn syrup or honey
1 1/2 t vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
3-6 tablespoons milk

Cream butter, cocoa, corn syrup, and vanilla. Add powder sugar a cup at a time, add milk 1 T at a time. Mix it up like crazy until it is light and fluffy and oh so good.

Allow cake to sit. Sit and get all good inside. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.

From: Kiersten

Grilled Corn on the Cob


corn on the cob, still in the husks
olive oil
(can also try garlic, nutmeg, or other herbs)


Take off outer layer of husks, and soak corn in water (with some husk still in tact) for 15 minutes.
Preheat grill to a medium temp, about 350 degrees.
Remove corn from water, pull back husks (but don't remove them) and remove and discard silks. Brush olive oil over corn, add salt, pepper and other herbs if desired. Pull husks back over the corn and tie ends closed with twine or spare husks.
Place cobs on the grill, turning corn to keep it from getting charred too much on one side. After corn has been cooked all the way around, place the cobs in indirect heat, and close the cover. Allow corn to slowly cook for another 15 minutes. Rotate a couple more times while cooking, and keep close watch as overcooking will result in mushy corn.
When the corn is done, remove it from the grill, peel back the husks and enjoy! You can serve with butter if desired. Oh, and be careful- corn is extremely hot right off the grill!

From: Sheena

Black Eye Pea and Corn Salsa

It's the BEST dip you'll ever have. I make it for every party, and it's super good on grilled salmon, thrown in taco salad, or just eaten by itself!

1 can black eye pea
1 can shoe peg corn, drained (I've also used fresh/frozen corn)
1 medium jar chopped pimento, drained
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion
1 avocado, chopped

1/2 c sugar
1/2 c white vinegar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1T tiger sauce (like a sweet tabasco) (and I use more than 1T)
salt and pepper

MIx together ingredients, except avocado. Refrigerate for at least one hour. When ready to serve, drain the marinade, add avocado, and serve with chips!

It's not too late! If you have a recipe to include then send me over a quick email:

I'll toss it in!


pray for me

because it's that time again



target practice


we three are chillin on the patio eating popcorn, enjoying the radiant sun, and splashing in the kiddie pool.

i go in the house for hydration.

i come back and girls are missing.

it doesn't take a genius to know that they are off taunting the chickens:

hey are you feeding the chickens your popcorn?


they are giggling and throwing popcorn everywhere - practically pelting the stupid poor chickens with it.

Yeah! she yells, and they totally love it.


It is safe to say...

that my birthday was fantastic!


I made myself the fattest richest homemade chocolate cake that put us all into diabetic comas for the night. Maybe I'll share the recipe on Friday.

It was accompanied by fresh flowers and take-out from Sauce,

new shoes,

and this little beast that packs a major punch (the camera, not the belly). All thanks to my amazing husband who is continually impressing me more and more in the gift-giving department. The man has learned all the right moves. Woot!


I think MaeMae was a little jealous.
Actually, this is her during the birthday singing. For some reason when we sing she always breaks out in tears. Honestly. It's both hilarious and heartbreaking.

Agh, but now that leftover cake is sweetly calling my name.

Bye - and thanks for all the birthday wishes! I have never had so many phone calls and emails from Facebook in my life!


Related Posts with Thumbnails