Friday, October 30, 2009

Seashells Down by the Sea Shore

Here's a few glimpses of some of the seashells, rocks and coral bits we collected on our cruise. Beach combing is one of of my favorite things to do on vacation. I love taking the time to drink in the gorgeous views, the sand beneath my feet, the tide lapping my ankles - and the surprise and thrill at finding a shell or something special in the sand.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Need Your Vote! Top 50 Indiana Blogs

Good morning all my lovely readers!! One of you wonderful people nominated me for the Top 50 Indiana Blogs - thank you, thank you!! I just found out I was on the list - woot!

Voting is easy - just head on over to the Top 50 Indiana Blogs link and click on the word "vote." I am at about 3 votes so far - but I know I have a few more fans that that. ;)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Carving Fun!

I love grey and white pumpkins - and those pale orange ones - sigh! They are so gorgeous - so different from the standard pumpkins I grew up with. Luckily they've become easier and easier to find - especially this year!

We were able to snag grey ones for $2 a piece last weekend at the Wishing Well Motel off of US31. Thank goodness for this place and their pumpkins - we needed to go back out for smaller ones tonight and weren't able to find any anywhere - Walmart and Kroger were all out.

But, as you can see, there were still plenty to choose from here!

Each year the hubby and I love the tradition of carving pumpkins. We pop in our Garfield Halloween Special and Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin on DVD and indulge in the smell of the pumpkin innards, the squish of seeds between your fingers and the fun of carving out new designs. Each year we try something different - some years are good carving wise - others not so much. This year was a grand slam! Got my owl idea from non-other than Martha Stewart out on the blogoshere and Matt's scary spider took shape as we went.

Had to go with stringed lights to get the eyes on my owl to show up properly - but I think it actually works a lot better than candles!

Here's the end result - spider complete with legs and fangs and a cutesy owl. :) Wasn't sure if I was going to hand out candy this year - but now that our pumpkins turned out so great - I may just change my mind!

Web Finds Wednesday!

Disinfect Plastic Cutting Boards In The Microwave

Caramel Apple Breakfast Casserole

Something to Sew: Plush Alphabet

Roasted Garlic White Pizza

1,001 Uses for Distilled Vinegar

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

Maple-Pumpkin Custards with Crystallized Ginger

Cheesy Corn Chowder with Bacon

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Colorful Cozumel

Going a little out of order in my vacation tales here, but bear with me! The second stop on our cruise was the little island of Cozumel, Mexico. This is my second visit to this locale and who-knows-how-many for my hubby.

What stands out for me at this port the most are the colors. Brightly colored hammocks swing from the trees, beautifully tiled fountains trinkle in the background, brightly painted shoppes boast wares of intricately painted maracas, woven blankets, and more. Not to mention the splendidly blue skies and tantalizing hues of the ocean - bright florals and luscious greens of swaying palms and other tropical foliage.

My husband and I did a little shopping right off the boat, found myself a t-shirt to ward off an already sore sunburn and we mapped out what we would buy before we had to be back on board (a new Mexican blanket and some hot sauce).

Then we hailed a cab ($7) to Dzul-Hal and snorkeled the reef there as well as dined on an authentic (obviously) meal of beef tacos with guacamole - not to mention a little pina-colada and beer to keep us cool.

We walked the beach and snorkeled again - then hailed another cab to go a few more miles down the road past Chakanab to Corona Beach for more snorkeling and another meal of nachos with salsa and guacamole.

This last beach is where my hubby got bit by a parrot fish - lol! No harm done - but kinda funny none the less! Don't get the in way of their food! :) The fish were all really friendly and would follow you around as you snorkeled. Our server at the last restaurant walked to the end of the pier and threw out pieces of soft tortilla shells out to the fish and wow! were they fans of that! :) He said they there Mexican fish because they liked tortillas. :)

One thing that is noticeable in Cozumel is hurricane damage - in the last few years they have really gotten hit. This pic is a pier that got ripped off in a hurricane and now provides a cool hang out for the local fishies. :) The other end is still above water and looks a little jagged and crazy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We're Back!

(Tabyana Beach at Isla Roatan - Honduras)

The hardest part of vacation is coming back. I feel a little like I'm in a daze. Everything went by so quick that it is hard to fathom that it even happened at all.

Did we really snorkel a shipwreck and see a sea turtle? Did I really get stung by baby jelly fish? Did we really watch the sunset while the ship left port at Cozumel? Did we really spend a week in the sunny Caribbean?

Ach! How is it over??!?!

While I'm processing reality you can check out all our fab vacation photos! :)

Flying In & Embarkation -

Fun Day at Sea 1 -

Grand Cayman -

Cozumel -

Belize -

Isla Roatan -

Fun Day at Sea 2 & Debarkation -

Friday, October 16, 2009

Guest Post: general stores

Have you ever been to a modern day general store? They seem like the cutest stores to visit or to own. If I ever had the chance to visit one in person, I would probably need a helper to carry out all the things I'd buy. Here are some goods from two general stores I would love to visit.
Brook Farm General Store in Brooklyn:

Donna Hay General Store:

(both found via Decor8, here and here)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Guest Post: Fall Comforts

Hello! This is Alli from Hooray, and I'll be popping in this week for a few posts. While Stacy & her hubby are off on a sunny cruise, those of us in the Midwest are clinging to our sunshine and bracing for cooler temps. So, I put together a collection of inspirational images as an ode to the current season & mood. Below I also posted my homemade recipe for chicken noodle soup - it's super easy to make and has a rich, creamy broth. Yum! Happy Monday!

Image Credits: 1: Swans Island Blankets, 2: Martha Stewart, 3: via Creature Comforts, 4: from domino mag via frolic!, 5: Lonny Mag, 6: via Snippet & Ink, 7: via frolic!, 7: via Snippet & Ink via here)

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
8 c. broth (or water & bullion cubes)
1 c. each chopped carrots & celery
Leftover chicken, cut or shredded
1 tbs. dried parsley (or fresh, if on hand)
1 1/2 c. egg noodles
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/3 c. flour
Boil broth in a soup pot, then add carrots & celery. Simmer, covered, about 5 min. Stir in noodles, simmer another 5 min. to soften. Add chicken & parsley, heat through. While chicken heats, make a paste by mixing together the softened butter & flour. Stir in paste to thicken broth, add salt & pepper to taste. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.

PS. If you have any favorite fall recipes, feel free to share!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You'll be in good hands!

I'll be unplugged here for a few days - but I'm leaving you all in good hands, dear readers, so don't you worry! My dear friend and fellow blogger, Alli from Hooray Design, will be joining us for a few days as a guest blogger to keep you all occupied until I get back!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My First Giveaway!! Do You Have An Escape Plan?

I normally like to keep things light, happy and cheerful - except for the occasional rant or two - here on Squirrel Chatter - but it doesn't hurt to prepared and informed. So even though I am pumped to have a great giveaway for my readers - I am also a little grounded by the serious issue it's about.

I was recently contacted by representatives at who's having a great free public safety training event at Conseco next week that they want to get the word out about.

An Escape Plan provides quality custom programs to help educate, train and empower people to be proactive with their personal safety. And with October being Domestic Violence Awareness month and they've planned a City-wide FREE night of proactive self defense education and training on October 14th 6:00-8:00PM at Conseco Fieldhouse and sponsored by St Vincent’s Women’s Hospital and hosted by Pacers and Sports Entertainment.

Please visit their web-site to learn more and to register for this free event:

But, for you, my lucky readers! I have a special pre-event freebie! Comment on this post and enter to win one of Escape Plan's DVDs from their series "Protective Thinking." The series is a product of over 20 years of research and self defense by founder Jeff Patterson. It is a no nonsense program that successfully addresses real life situation with real solutions. The three part program and is all included on this one DVD!

To enter the giveaway leave a comment with your email address so that we can notify you if you are a winner. Earn an additional entries if you blog or tweet promoting the event with a link to the Escape Plan website ( and leave a comment with the link to your tweet or your blog post.

Hurry and enter, This giveaway will expire 10/08/09 @ 6:00pm EST.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Latest Garage Sale Find! A Vintage China Cabinet!

Need to get a better picture of this with natural lighting maybe tomorrow - but check out this amazing find Matt and I stumbled across at a garage sale today! A gorgeous dark solid wood china cabinet for $40!!

We've been looking for one for quite some time now - we have two sets of gorgeous china - one from my Great Grandma Pearl on my Dad's side and a beautiful gold rimmed set from Cindy! Also been collecting lots of glass and ceramic odds and ends along the way - the trifle bowl from Pampered Chef, the 3-tired glass stand and lots of apothecary jars in various sizes I use to serve punch at parties and for storage as well. The white Crate & Barrel casserole dish Matt got for me for Christmas.

I was able to fit both sets with room to spare for our crystal glasses, stemware and tumblers and even have a drawer left over for miscellaneous party supplies (plastic party cups, plastic forks and knives, etc!) ...might even bring my table linens downstairs and see if I can get them to fit in!

Many, many thanks to the marvelous Queen of Free for loaning out her other half, a truck and one of her pretty princesses to come help us get this great deal home! And thank you to our wonderful friends and neighbors, the Prescotts, in coming in with more manpower to get this puppy out of the truck and into our house! Yay, for great friends - you rock!! :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Reminiscing About National Parks

Watching a WFYI special tonight - The National Parks: America's Best Idea got me reminiscing. We took many family road trips to several different national parks all across the United States growing up. We'd pack up our van with plenty of clothes, shoes, snacks and books and take a few weeks during the summer months to travel across the US. We moseyed through many grand places like The Grand Canyon, Arches National Park in Utah, The Badlands of South Dakota, Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Georgia and all the places in between!

At the time I may have been an moody teenager/child/young adult, sick of hours cramped in a vehicle and quarreling with my siblings, rolling my eyes and huffing at anything that annoyed me - but those trips with my family really did mold me. I hold those memories near and dear to my heart and hope to give my children the same experiences one day - eye rolling and all! :)

Here's a few snapshots I recently came across and scanned from some of those very trips! So many great memories!

My little brother and I in Washington - Olympic Park I think. Pulled over on the side of the road for this pic!

My father, sister, brother and I at Badlands National Park - South Dakota.

My sister and I at a state park in either Oregon or northern California.

My sister, brother and I at Arches National Park, Utah.

My dad's hand showing how big the slugs were at the redwood rainforest in either Washington or California.

My sister, brother, mother, father and I at the Chandelier Tree in California.