photographing, cooking, laughing through life


Road Trip Here We Come

I’m super excited about our upcoming road trip to Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota.  First of all, I’ve always wanted to see Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, etc. Secondly, I love getting to experience new things – and I’m excited that my 7 year old niece, Rebecca, is going too.

I got to thinking that we are going to be in the car for quite awhile…so I decided to put together a travel notebook for her to do in the car – and she can also use it as a place to keep track of all of the adventures she has (she hasn’t started a blog…yet).

So, I got a hot pink notebook from the store and some sheet protectors…and got to work!



My first project involved putting together a BINGO card for her to try to accomplish during the trip.  My sister gave me the idea because Rebecca got a bingo card the other day that had reading activities on it and she loved it.  The activities I decided to include on the card varied from different activities to keep her busy in the car, at the hotel and enjoying the different places we will stop.  I really hope she has fun with it!!!


I took to Pinterest for some ideas and stumbled upon a car scavenger hunt (not pictured) and a license plate sheet for her to keep track of the different license plates we see.


We are going to be traveling through 8 states, and I found these awesome state activity sheets on – the site requires you to register, but you get several downloads free each month. Each time we cross the state line, she’ll get to do a new state sheet! Kansas will obviously be first!


I also found tons of other activities that she can do in random places online. She really likes word puzzles, math, decoding games and color by numbers, so those are ones I printed off.  Each category of activities gets its own sheet protector – so all 6 crosswords are in on sheet protector and so on.  Activities I found were: Mad Libs, Word Searches, Crossword Puzzles, Decoding Activities, Color by Number, Word Scrambles and Mazes.


I also printed off some A-Z Brainstorming sheets.  This is actually something that my high school students do for review, but I thought we could modify it for the trip.  A lot of times we do the alphabet game when we are driving (choosing a topic like “Frozen”) and then we go around the circle and say different words that go with that topic in ABC order. So, using the “Frozen” example we’d say “Anna, Building a Snowman, Coronation, Duke of Weselton, Elsa, etc.) I’m going to change it up a little and we’ll try to come up with as many as we can, writing them down, instead.


I thought it would be good for her to do something having to do with the destination, so I went to the National Parks website and found the Junior Ranger Gazette which will teach her a little about the National Parks we will visit before we get there.


Also in the notebook, I added some blank writing paper, so she can write a little summary of each day – and we’ll make it into a journal, with drawn pictures, tickets, and photos of the places we visit. I am putting all of this in a tote for her with markers, colored pencils, regular pencils, crayons and a pencil sharpener – so she should be all set.

I really, really hope she has fun with it – and I can’t wait to leave for vacation!!!


Book Review: Page by Paige, by Laura Lee Gulledge


The summer reading program at our local library encourages readers to try different kinds of books – one of the genres on the list was a graphic novel.  I have never really read a graphic novel before, but I got a recommendation from my mom that this one was really good, so, I chose “Page by Paige,” by Laura Lee Gulledge as my graphic novel.

First of all, the story centers around Paige Turner (her parents are writers – which is why she has her unique name). Paige and her family have moved from Charlottesville, Virginia to Brooklyn during the Christmas break.  Paige must adjust to a new school, a new town and the intimidation of making new friends.  Paige chooses to write about her struggles, hopes and fears in her sketchbook – which is what the graphic novel essentially is – Paige’s sketchbook.

The story was a typical YA story about a high school girl navigating the perils of high school life with the added struggle of dealing with being the “new girl.” While the story was typical, the drawings were awesome! I was amazed at just how fabulous and intricate the drawings were.  I am so jealous of people that are so gifted in drawing (it is a skill that I never mastered).  As a reader, it gives you so much more to work through than a typical novel or short story. I really, really enjoyed the experience – I think partially because I enjoyed the topic. I’m hoping to looking into Gulledge and see if she has any more to read!

Book Reviews: “Page by Paige,” by Laura Lee Gulledge 4/5 stars.

Turkey, Provolone, Avocado Wrap

I had a student whose mom used to always make wraps for her lunch on Wednesdays – we always joked that it was “Wrap Wednesday” – so today I decided to try a wrap I’d seen on Pinterest.  It’s one that I will definitely be taking to school for lunches this year.

Ingredients you need:


  • Tortilla (I chose low-carb wheat)
  • Sliced Turkey (I went with the smoked)
  • Provolone Cheese (2 slices)
  • Garlic & Herb Laughing Cow cheese
  • Fresh Spinach
  • Red Pepper
  • Avocado

1. Spread the Laughing Cow cheese over a tortilla.


2. Layer the spinach and turkey.


3. Layer the cheese, red pepper strips and 1/4 of an avocado (sliced)


4. Roll up the wrap and slice into approximately inch and a half pieces.


This was a fantastic light supper – I had it with a delicious mango I picked up at the grocery store on my way home. I love summer!


Sonic Summer of Slush – #14 Green Apple

My latest visit to Sonic was an opportunity for me to try another slush.  Today it was the Green Apple slush.  Going into it, I figured the green apple slush would be similar to a green apple Jolly Rancher – or the green Skittle (speaking of…even though I didn’t particularly love the lime Skittles, but I think the green apple ones throw things off). After trying the slush, I can tell you that I was exactly right to expect it.  This slush tasted JUST like a green apple Jolly Rancher.  It was sweet and refreshing – and not sour AT ALL. I’m not usually a fan of “apple stuff” unless it is actually an apple, but I found that I really enjoyed this slush!

Sonic Green Apple Slush 4/5 Sonic straws

Something New – The Scoreboard Sports Bar & Grill

Today I was doing some work at The Gazette and decided that I would take full advantage of having a “real world” lunch break by trying one of the many restaurants in downtown Emporia.  I could have gone with the old standbys – Bobby’s D’s or Amanda’s (both excellent options), but I decided that I’d branch out and head to a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try but had never found the time: The Scoreboard Sports Bar & Grill.

The restaurant, located at the corner of Mechanic Street and Sixth Avenue (like that AP Style? It’s obvious the AP Stylebook has been my friend the last couple of days), is not a large place, but is comfortable with tables around the perimeter and a bar on one side. On this July afternoon, it was a nice, cool relief from the hot sun outside.  I enjoyed the decor – all sports memorabilia, including ESU and EHS. I chose to sit at one of the two booths by the window – so I could watch the cars passing on Sixth as I waited for my lunch.

While the menu wasn’t extensive, there were several different items that piqued my interest. I settled on the Slaw/Kraut Reuben with homestyle chips. I love a good reuben sandwich and was excited to try it with the added “twist” of having coleslaw on it as well as sauerkraut.

I didn’t have to wait long to try it out.  The service was really fast and soon I was enjoying my lunch.  The sandwich was the perfect amount for me – and it was fantastic! A toasted marble rye sandwich with sliced meat, tangy coleslaw, Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut and cheese. It was a great choice! The homestyle chips were thick-sliced and a great addition to the meal.  I left full – and satisfied.

Pricing was very reasonable.  Most sandwiches were $7-10 and included the side item. They also have salads and wraps as well as many different appetizers and wings.  They have daily specials – and a nightly happy hour from 10-11 p.m. I will most definitely be heading back to The Scoreboard Sports Bar & Grill to try something else (if I can keep myself from ordering the reuben again!)



Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Pasta Salad

Summer is a great time to try out new salads, and I LOVE this creamy Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Pasta Salad.  The dressing is tangy and includes dill – which makes it oh, so good.  I found the recipe on Pinterest – and you can see the blog post HERE.

You’ll need the following ingredients:



  • 12 oz. Rotini
  • 1 pkg. bacon pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup tomatoes (diced and seeded)
  • 1 avocado (the recipe called for 2, but I felt like 1 was enough)
  • 1 cup mayo
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill

First, cook pasta according to package directions:


While the pasta is cooking, mix up the dressing. Add your mayo, lemon, salt, pepper, garlic powder and dill together.


Use a whisk to mix up the ingredients – I just mix them up in the bowl I’m going to serve the salad in.


Cut up the tomatoes (and seed them), the avocado and dump in the bacon pieces (mix).


Once the pasta is cooked, strain and rinse with cold water until cooled – add the pasta to the rest of the ingredients, mix and enjoy.


This was a crowd pleaser at the potluck I went to yesterday – came home with just enough to enjoy today for supper!

Book Review: Death of a Kitchen Diva by Lee Hollis

I picked up this book at our local bookstore (if you are in Emporia support Town Crier!! because I was in need of an “antonym” book.  I’m participating in a reading challenge this summer over at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life and read a book last month called “The Life List.” While I was perusing the shelves at Town Crier, I decided to search out a book with death in the title – so I could check that category off my list. I also realized that I needed to read a mystery for the summer reading challenge at the public library, so I figured I would check out the paperback mysteries.

I discovered the book “Death of a Kitchen Diva,” by Lee Hollis.  Lee Hollis is actually the brother/sister writing duo of Rick Kopp (who was a writer for “The Golden Girls”) and Holly Simason (a food columnist).  The book is considered a Cozy Mystery – which basically means it takes place in a picturesque little town (this one is in Bar Harbor, Maine), doesn’t have too many gory details or adult situations, and deals with some colorful characters. This particular book series (and this one is the first in the series) is about a divorced newspaper office manager – turned food and cocktails columnist who ends up playing detective in a murder investigation where she is the prime suspect.

The novel begins with the main character Hayley Powell being arrested for the death of rival food columnist Karen Appelbaum when Appelbaum is found dead (by Hayley) in a bowl of Hayley’s clam chowder soup.  The book then goes back in time to how we ended up at that moment she was arrested.  The cast of characters include Hayley’s brother, who is partners with the local police chief, Sergio; her best friends – one who is a real estate agent up on the latest fashions and the other who is a perpetually pregnant lobster woman; along with two men who are vying for her attention – fellow newsroom worker Bruce and Lex, a man with some mystery of his own.

First off, I wasn’t really expecting much from this book – I wanted a quick and easy read, and that’s exactly what I got.  I did enjoy the journalistic side of things (surprise, surprise) and I enjoyed reading Hayley’s columns which are interspersed throughout the book and include recipes.  The story itself wasn’t spectacular, but it did keep me guessing. I also enjoyed the colorful supporting characters.

If you are looking for a quick read that doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking, pick up one of the Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mysteries (there are now 5 in the series).

Book Review: “Death of a Kitchen Diva,” by Lee Hollis 3/5 stars.


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