Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Texas Bluebonnets

Spring in Texas... ah, what can I say! It. Is. Beautiful. The weather is sunny and warm, the cadence of birds in the trees is music to everyone's ears and it is green everywhere! Now if this weren't pretty enough, all of the wildflowers are in bloom. Beautiful patches of pink, purple, orange, yellow and white flowers popping up everywhere, and then to top it all off are the Texas Bluebonnets.


Fields and fields, in some cases as far as the eye can see, cover the Texas country side. And we down here in Houston are lucky enough to be right in the middle of it all.


It has become somewhat of a tradition down here 'deep in the heart of Texas' to make a yearly trip to the Bluebonnet fields dressed up and with a camera in tow to take a photo.


It seems to me the enigma of these blue beauties is that they disappear about as quickly as they pop up. Their bloom span is about 3 weeks and then...gone! Now some people may say, "what's the big deal with a bunch of flowers", but until you've stood in a field of them, you will never know.


And once you have, you'll be hooked forever!

All of us here at Huckleberry Love have made the Texas Bluebonnets a part of our yearly tradition and we'd love to share with you our Bluebonnet adventures this year! Enjoy. :)

Jamie:


Because I have not lived in Houston, Texas, or even the US for most of my life, when I moved down here, I had obviously never heard of the Texas Bluebonnets. The first March/April that we were here, I heard some people talking about these amazing fields and I just had to find out what the fuss was all about.

Well, I found out soon enough. At the time Miss J was only 6 months old but I packed her and my hubby up anyway and we drove around until we found them. They were so beautiful, and ever since then we have made the excursion to take a family pic every year.

I think it is very important when you are not from a place to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of that particular place, and in this case, we have made these beautiful lovelies a part of our tradition.

We had a very good experience with the Bluebonnets this year. A couple of years ago we drove around for hours (much to my husbands joy....) to find a good field of them, but this year it was easy to find them and they were beautiful. The girls loved running through and dancing in the thick flowers. Last year when we took Little B she was only 2 months old with no clue of what was going on, but this year she was entranced. It actually took a while to get a good picture of her because she wouldn't stop staring down at the little blooms.

I love the Bluebonnets and am looking forward to many more years of beautiful pics in them! :)


 Emily:


This was the first year that we were able to take Bluebonnet Pictures with my youngest son. Due to the drought last year, we were unable to find any large fields and drove home very disappointed. But this year was a whole new story! Jamie told us about a wonderful field that she had come across with her family, so the following weekend we set out on a little drive into Bluebonnet Country.

My youngest had a blast running through the fields, getting dirty and just being a little boy. My older son has a few fears, one of which is wind. It's a long story, but to keep things simple, just know that it terrifies him. There were quite a few tears shed by him at the beginning of our photo shoot due to it being a bit windy that day, but towards the end he cheered up and had a great time! Towards the end of our picture taking frenzy, my little guy started crying because he wants a snack.. and then another.. and then another. That boy can EAT! ;)

The flowers were simply gorgeous this year. But, to be honest, it's definitely not easy taking pictures of toddlers in the flowers. Especially two little boy toddlers who don't cooperate well and would rather run away than smile or look at a camera. *sigh* We did the best we could and ended up with a few lovely pictures. I can't wait to print them off to display on our new gallery wall. :) {You can see additional pictures and read a bit more about our 2013 Bluebonnet outing here.}

Karla:


I was so nervous we were going to miss the Bluebonnets this year, because we went on vacation at the end of March - prime time for these beauties! Alas, I was super happy to come home and they were in full bloom!

I remember making trips to Brenham as a kid to see the bluebonnets, but we never got out to take pictures, at least not that I recall. I don't think it was a big event way back in the stone ages as it is now. Now that we have kids of our own, I make it a purpose to go and take pictures every year. My husband is always so willing and ridiculously happy to drive for a few hours... to find flowers... and take a few pictures hoping a few turn out. Happy he is. Not really.

We packed up the kids and drove out to Chappel Hill and came across a very large field of Bluebonnets. I passed it at first because the crowds were swarming. I drove a few more miles then decided to head back and do what we could.

My daughter is less than interested in taking pictures, or at least looking at the camera. She is in the 'cheesy-smile stage'! My boy, well, he really had no idea what was going on! We captured a few pretty awesome moments, like the one where my daughter is putting her arm around her brother. I spared you the after picture as it quickly turned in to a choke hold of sorts. We frolicked among the sea of blue and had a great time! I even captured a tiny smile on my husband ;) Maybe next year I can bribe him with a picnic. I should start working on that now...

Lydia:



My first bluebonnet experience at 9 months old. Don't you just love that awesome bonnet?
 Growing up in Texas, it was only spring when the bluebonnets started poking their little blue faces up all along the highways. Within a week or two, the whole side of the road and all the fields would be an unreal, beautiful blue color. And the smell...divine! You could smell it in your car, even with the windows up. It is a family tradition to take photos in the bluebonnets and they started me young. So once I had kids of my own it was no question that every spring we would be cruising the country roads looking for that perfect field. 

 
Last year was rough one for our little bluebonnet crop. The drought really affected our state flower and even after hours of searching we ended up empty handed and with no bluebonnet pictures. However, they made up for missing last year by blooming extra sweet this time around! This year, we stopped on way back from Round Top, a small Texas town that holds a bi-annual antique show. We ended up stopping along the side of a road with a large hill covered with the sweet-smelling flowers. Since we were close to a road, we didn't let the kids run around like they wanted to and Daddy had to play interference (much like wrangling cats). We did manage to get a few good shots and honestly, the outtakes make me laugh even more than the pictures that turned out. Since this was Corbin's first year to see bluebonnets, he couldn't stop touching them, smelling them and pointing them out to me. I think he even ate a few of them. After we left, he talked about the "blue flowers" for days. I LOVE our Texas bluebonnets and am so so happy that we were able to get some pictures with the kids this year. Here's hoping that next year's crop is just as breathtaking!


Almost half of our pictures have Daddy in them, as he tried to coax/manhandle our kiddos into picture perfect poses. Looking at these, I can't help but laugh.

Jill:


I absolutely love Texas Bluebonnet season! Ever since we moved down to Houston, we have gone each year. It's one of those family traditions that I'd like to keep up, just to sit down and get some pictures together in a field of gorgeous flowers. My husband actually enjoys going. It's our little family adventure, to drive aimlessly and find the best field that we can.

We have a few reliable areas, now that we've been going for three years. I think the best field that we found was down a dirt road, through a canopy of trees, fenced in by a farmer. In true Texas style, we hopped the fence and took pictures there last year. This year, the bluebonnets were gorgeous, but there were quite a few signs posted to keep out. We weren't going to chance it, so we drove around until we found more. And more we found!

I was all prepared, candy for smiles (hey, don't judge), an extra shirt per child (see naked baby above), and lots of drinks & snacks to keep us going. The only thing I didn't think of was to charge my camera battery... pretty important for taking pictures. Unfortunately, we only got a few on my good camera. Our iPhones saved the day, but no luck on a family shot.  All in all, it turned out pretty perfect and we were able to capture those sweet little smiles. And to wrap up a long drive, we always finish off with some good Texas barbecue. What a fun Sunday drive :-)

I am way excited for next year. I already have props in mind...Crossing my fingers for an amazing field and that perfect family photo!

Well there you have it, a look into 'our' Texas Bluebonnets! Don't you love them too?
 
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Monday, April 29, 2013

Much Ado About Monday {No. 7)

Hello again everyone and welcome back to Much Ado About Monday! We hope that you had a great weekend and are ready to party!!

I had a wonderful weekend. My mom and dad arrived from Canada on Friday and we spent the whole weekend running them ragged. We started out with going out waterskiing and wakeboarding on Saturday and then took my dad out golfing for his birthday on Sunday. We finished the weekend off with a delicious birthday dinner and some cake. I am so excited to have them visiting us. It is always wonderful to have visitors!

In case you missed it on Friday, we had some wonderful features. Come and check them out here, you will definitely be inspired!

We can't wait to see what amazing things you all have to share this week!
 
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Features {No. 6}

Thank goodness it's Friday! And you know what that means, it's time to announce our features for this week. You all have shared so many great crafts, projects, and recipes, that it was really tough to choose each of our favorites! We want to personally thank each one of you for joining us at our party. Be sure to invite your friends and come back every Monday for more fun.

Without further ado, here are our top picks for week 6:

Jill's pick:
Parmesan Zuchini Crisps via Essentially Eclectic

These little appetizer bites look super yummy and are not bad health-wise!

Emily's pick:
Letter Shelves via  No Business Like Sew Business

These are a super cute and a useful addition to any playroom!

Karla's pick:
Lavender Lotion Bars via Essentially Eclectic

Love it and will definitely be trying this one next week!

Jamie's pick:
Mother's Day Vase via One Day at a Time

This is so sweet and adds a nice personal touch!

Lydia's pick:
Sweet Baby Quilt via La gang a Nat

Love the color combo and the patchwork style. Fantastic!

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We hope to see you back next week for Much Ado About Monday #7!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Best Chicken Salad Ever {Recipe}


I am a huge fan of the chicken salad sandwich. Whenever I try a new restaurant or sandwich shop, I always try their chicken salad sandwich. It's the way I measure how great the food is at a particular establishment. {Also, I do this with guacamole at new Mexican food restaurants. I can't help it.} So I finally decided, a few years back, to perfect my own chicken salad recipe. After a few misses {thank you dear husband for being my taste tester}, I finally arrived at the holy grail of chicken salads. It is sweet, salty, crunchy but still moist. In a word: perfection. At least, I humbly think so. When I am hosting any kind of shower or party, it is my go-to entree and I am always asked for the recipe. So, here it is! The Best Chicken Salad Recipe EVER! Or so far, anyways. :)



Ingredients:

-2 cups of cooked chicken (either canned or bake your own)
-1 cup of  quartered grapes
-1 cup of diced pickles
-1/2 cup sliced almonds
-1 cup of mayonnaise
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 tablespoons of  parsley

When I first started making this recipe, I always used the canned chicken because it was SO much easier. Then I started making this for showers and family gatherings and it got a little pricey to make the bigger batches using the canned chicken. So I started baking my own chicken and never looked back. Cheaper and much more tasty.


First, I line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (it's easy clean up) and fill it with frozen chicken tenders. I have never counted exactly how many chicken tenders I use but a cookie sheet full has always been almost exactly what I need.



Then I coat the tenders with the cooking spray and sprinkle them spices. I like to use salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash and Season All.



Bake them for about 20-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven (depending on the thickness of the chicken) until done.


While the chicken is cooling, I cut up my cup of grapes...


and dice up the cup of pickles.

 

When the chicken is cool enough to be handled, I cut it into little chunks.{Bonus: If you have any left over baked chicken, it is great on top of salads or rolled up as a fajita. Yum!}


Next, I add the cup of mayonnaise, along with the teaspoon of salt and the 2 tablespoons of parsley.

 

Mix well. This recipe tastes even better the longer it sits so I like to let it set in the fridge for at least an hour.

 

Right before serving, I add the half a cup of almonds.

 

Then serve on a croissant and enjoy!

 

With spring just around the corner, I know I will be making this quite a bit for picnics and family gatherings. In fact, for this blog post I had to make the recipe twice because my family ate all the chicken salad before I was able to get a final picture. I really should know better by now.

What about you? Do you have a favorite go-to recipe that you love?

  


Monday, April 22, 2013

Much Ado About Monday {No. 6}

Welcome to Much Ado About Monday, friends! We are so incredibly happy to have you here! Hopefully you had a lovely weekend and are ready for the start of a new week.

My little family had a marvelous weekend that consisted of my 3 year-old's first baseball game, followed by a birthday party and a crawfish boil on Saturday. On Sunday we headed to a small airport near our home which was having a World War II Aircraft Show. My two little future pilots were over the moon excited about it! The rest of the day was spent playing in the backyard and ended with pizza on the patio. It was a great few days! :)

If you're looking for a bit of inspiration, be sure to check out our Friday Features. They won't disappoint. :)

We can't wait to see what amazing things you all have to share this week!

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* Please link back to us in your post. Whether it be through a text link or by posting our super cute button somewhere in your post. We appreciate it!
* If you do NOT link back to us in your post, you will NOT be Featured on Much Ado About Monday. So, link back! You'll thank us later. :)
* Feel free to link up decorating tips, DIY projects, recipes, organizational ideas, sewing and crochet creations or anything else crafty or that you find inspirational.
* Please do not link up giveaways, Etsy shops, or projects that were not made by you.
* You may link up to three posts a week!
* If your post has been featured, please do not link it up again. :)
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Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Features {No. 5}


It's Friday which means it's time to announce our features for week five! Ya'll are making it tough for us to choose week to week, but we love the challenge! We want to thank everyone for joining us at our party and encourage you to come back every Monday for more fun. Tell your friends too, we like to party Texas style, the bigger the better!

Without further ado... here are our top picks for Week 5:

Emily's Pick:


Add some color and fun to your garden this spring! 


Jamie's Pick:


This adorable frame says it all!

Karla's Pick:



Nothing says 'Hello Lover' like Peanut Butter Baklava!

Jill's Pick:



This is a must do for kids of all ages!

Lydia's Pick:

Staircase Reveal via Todd & Lindsey

Now that is what I call a transformation!


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We hope to see you back next week for Much Ado About Monday #6!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Grapevine Wreath {Tutorial}


I usually make a wreath for all occasions, but with Easter being so early this year it threw me right off my schedule. I decided that instead of letting my wall go bare I would opt to make a Springtime wreath instead, and to be honest, I'm so glad I did. I am so excited that this beauty can hang for almost 3 months instead of the couple of weeks between St. Patty's Day and Easter. Yippee!!

Whenever I see a good deal, I always seem to buy before I need, so I happened to have this beautiful oval shaped grapevine wreath just sitting there begging for me to come and decorate it. The rest of my materials cost me under $6.00. Beautiful and cheap... starting to sound like pretty woman here.... Anyway, getting a bit off track... here is how it all came together.



Can't Get Started Without:

~grapevine wreath form
~felt in whatever colours you'd like (to keep it 'springy' I went with pastel pink & blue, purple, cream, and the tiniest bit of yellow)
~hot glue gun and plenty of glue sticks
~crochet thread; embroidery floss or thread would also work
~pearl tipped boutonniere pins (found them in the wedding section at Hobby Lobby)


To get started I began by cutting different sized circles out of my felt. I then cut my circles into a spiral. From there, I just rolled, twisted, and wrapped the felt around itself to make 'rose' like flowers. It is incredibly easy and mindless (hence, watch your favourite show while making these babies).
For a few of the other flowers, instead of rolling my felt, I just wrapped it. It made tight little flowers which were extraordinarily cute once they had a few boutonniere pins stuck in them. I used my husbands wire cutters to trim the excess 'pin' that stuck out the back of the flowers.

So after making flower after flower after, well you get the idea....

I played around with the idea of adding a bird to my wreath. To me, the first sign of Spring is the orchestra of birds, so I wanted needed a bird on my wreath.
He was very easy to make. I just hand drew my idea of a bird on a piece of felt, cut him out, and then used him as a template to cut another bird identical to him. I then hot glued around most of the edges of the two birds and stuck them together. I left a tiny space where I didn't glue so that I could stuff some fiberfill in him to make him nice and fat. I then finished gluing the rest of the edges. Once he was completely sealed, I hand stitched around the edges with my crochet thread to give him a more finished look.

Once my flowers and bird were complete, I laid out all of my flowers on my wreath until I had them all placed where I thought they looked best.
I then glued each flower on, until they were all good and stuck.
My little bird added just the perfect touch perched up there all proud of himself.


My wreath was then finished, or so I thought... After some deliberation with some of my fellow Huckleberry Love ladies, I decided a little pennant might add just an extra touch of something special. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this wreath without a pennant, but wanted to see what it would look like with one added.


The pennant I created was incredibly easy to make. The first thing I did was cut a piece of crochet thread to the width of my wreath. I then cut out a triangle in my felt and then used it as a template to make a bunch more. Once my triangles were all made I glued the crochet thread along the top of each triangle and then glued another triangle on top of the 'threaded' triangle to sandwich the thread between the two pieces. And, done! :-)



To get my pennant on the wreath I just tied the pennant very loosely onto the wreath. I decided to just tie it on, because I can now either have the pennant on or off depending on my aesthetic mood.


I love this wreath. Definitely my favourite one to date. I think come summer I'm going to have a very hard time taking it down. Because I think it is so beautiful, here are a few more pics to show it off. :-)





So which do you prefer? With or without the pennant?

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