New Pages!


I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are some new pages that have been added to the top of my blog.  I thought it would be convenient to put the answer to three questions I frequently consider: where to go on vacation, my favorite restaurants, and what to make for dinner. I have updated them all!

(ironically enough, the page What To Make for Dinner is one of my most viewed pages so I finally got it together and added some more ideas 🙂


Cafe Rio Pork

When ever someone we know is in distress (or extreme celebration) we bring this dish.  And I have NEVER brought this somewhere with out someone asking for the recipe. True.  (I want to just simplify things and bring the recipe with me with the meal, but even I can recognize that social norms say that is not okay 😉

Whenever we do send the recipe along we get lots of quires for more details, but as far as I can tell it really doesn’t matter.  If you want a spicier meat, use spicier salsa, but anything you have on hand will turn out beautifully.

It is very, very easy to make and great to serve when having people over especially if it involves lots of little people, as they can pick and choose the parts of the meal they like.

1 pork tenderloin (approximately 1/4 lb per person but this reheats nicely )

1 cup brown sugar

1 jar salsa

1 can coke






sour cream or greek yogurt

caramelized onions

Place tenderloin in crockpot and fill with water until it is about half way up tenderloin. Cook on low for 4 hours.  Drain water. Cut tenderloin into quarters and return to empty crockpot.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over tenderloin. Cook additional 4 hours.  Shred meat and allow to cook in sauce an additional 30 minutes.

Serve in tacos with all the fixings with rice and beans.

Preparing For The Storm

In some ways (some?) it seems so silly to write about snowstorm preparation from North Carolina. They are very rare, and it doesn’t snow THAT much. (and today it is 70!!) That being said, it doesn’t take very much to send our area into a state of disarray.  Furthermore, we get lots of false alarms.  But alas, earlier last week we heard a stow storm was coming (again, we missed four days of school just the week before over about an inch!)

This time I am glad we planned ahead, just a (12)

Here are a few things we did both before and during our visit from snowstorm Pax to make life more comfortable for everyone. Since up to an inch and a half of freezing rain was in the forecast, we were preparing for a two track week: days at home with snow, but full power and being home with no power. (our #1 plan was to get out of here as soon as possible had we lost heat.  Sleepover time at J&B)

1.  Fill up both cars with gas.  This was (for once) a really good call.  It took Jared over two hours to make an 8 mile drive because the roads were so crowded with people who were not comfortable driving in the snow (think lines 50 cars deep to go up a small hill, sliding down because no one is getting a running start) Had he skipped the pump the night before, he would have run out of gas on the road. Evidently the roads were both so crowded and slick people were not able to get over to gas stations and were running out of gas right in the middle of traffic.

2. Bring heavy boots and coats if going out and about on day of the storm.  The storm was going to hit around lunch time and work was open that morning.  That afternoon, many people had to walk miles home, and I bet they would have been happy to have their snow boots and coats on.  Problem is, we have been warned about snow like this at least 10 times since we’ve lived here that has never come to fruition, so now when I suggest packing boots it is met with an eye roll smile.

click through to see how we kept warm and entertained.

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My Week of (snowed in) Food In Review

We had such a good time last week with THREE snow days. This time it was pretty clear we wouldn’t be leaving the house returning to school anytime soon, and Thursday was one of my all time favorite family days. We had lots of good cooking, sledding on boogie boards, Olympics watching, Olympic recreations outside, games, eating girl scout cookies, sibling sleepovers, showing profuse gratitude for electricity, and marveling at the weather. Seriously the best.

photo (11)

Is that gorgeous or what?  Only because 1. we were all safe at home and 2. had electricity.

What didn’t happen at all was blog writing.  So I thought I would review the Olympic meals we did have. I knew if we were going to be trapped inside for four days, we’d better have something good to eat while we were at it, so we stocked up on Monday and Tuesday.

Click through to see what we thought of our Olympic inspired eats.

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My Favorite Picture Books



Few things are as wonderful to me as reading a picture book to a child cuddled right up to you. And have great books to read only makes it more fun.  Here are some of our very favorites.

Good Night Moon

Thanks for Thanksgiving

This is the Turkey

Twas the Night Before The Night Before Christmas

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots


My Brave Year of Firsts

Olivia Goes to Venice

Strega Nona

Jillian Jiggs

The Pink House

Llama Llama, Mad At Mama

The Three Little Javelinas

I Love Trains

This is my grandmother reading to the little boys.  In addition to being a fantastic story reader, she is an author.  

Snow Quote of All Time


I think all of living in North Carolina during a snow storm was summed up in one quote today by a Durham County Sheriff Deputy, (as quoted on WRAL). And I need to preface this with the fact that they are talking about people abandoning their cars on streets and highways during a snow storm.

“What we don’t want to see is people leaving their cars in the travel lane, because now you’ve blocked that lane for everyone behind you,” he said.”

And while I’m with you on that one, the fact we need to get that out there…?  It did take Jared over TWO HOURS to make his typical 18 minute drive home, and it sounded like some drivers out there could have used some coaching.  I started the day out expecting the same, waiting for Godot, type of experience waiting for the snow to come as we had last time.  It was impolite enough to come while we were on our way to lunch, covering the roads while we ate.  We are so happy to now be all be safe here at home, with electricity, nonetheless!  Every pitter patter I hear of freezing rain on the roof, I cringe a bit, but for now we are toasty warm and enjoying the Olympics.

Since we do have a good chance of losing power, I wanted to have a good meal ready to go I could make on my stove top (it is gas, and if we use a lighter, works during power outages)

Click through to see what we dined on. It’s a Cafe Caturra copy cat!

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The Dean Family Decree


After I made this, I looked around the internet and found out subway signs are a thing.  I’m sure there are many ways of doing this — here is how I put this together.

when I was making this, I found an online post that shared how she had made her sign.  I followed many of her recommendations, but can’t find it now to link it.  If you ever see something similar, let me know, I’d love to credit her good ideas!

Supplies needed

  • particle board in size of your choice
  • black spray paint
  • transfer carbon paper (I found it at AC Moore)
  • craft paint, color(s) of your choice
  • small, flat paint brush


1.  Decide what to say.  This was the best part.  We brainstormed with the kids what sayings they thought were important in our family, or things we frequently reminded them, and we wrote them all down.  We whittled away until we had our favorites.

2. Purchase a piece of particle board and either have it cut to size, or cut it yourself.  Spray paint it black.

2.  Type out your sayings in a word processor, using the draw application. (that is what it was called in Open Office) Put each saying in their own text box.  I’m sure there are many better ways to do this, but my low tech skills resorted to this.  From here I could change the fonts and move them around until I liked how it looked.

3.  Once you are happy with how it looks, save it as a pdf so scary things do not happen to it. Print it out, adjusting the sizing so it will be the size you had in mind, and using “tile” setting to print.  This will print it out on many sheets that can be taped together for a life size copy of your board. Tape them together

4.  Tape your transfer paper to the board and then tape your phrase paper on top of that.

5. Now the fun part, trace each phrase, outlining each letter. I used a pencil.  Check after your first word to make sure everything is turning out all right.  Take breaks so you don’t end up with a hand-claw.

6. Gently remove all the paper from the board.  You can see on THE (from the Dean Family) how it will look — outlined. The transfer paper can be used many times again, so fold and store.

7. Take a small brush and using craft pain, fill in all the letters.  Again, breaks.

8. Admire your handy work.

IMG_35929. Think of all the things you can say on a subway sign.