Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Y'all Come!

The following post is an email I sent a few weeks ago regarding the Holiday Market. I hope those of you stopping by the blog who are in the area will pay us a visit December 5-8, 2013 for a great cause.
Friends and Family,
I hope this note finds you well and will spark your holiday spirit a little early. As most of you know, I have been an active member of the Junior League of Columbia for 12 years. The Junior League is a non-profit organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism and improving communities around the midlands.  It's purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.  
For the last 7 years I have volunteered for the committee that plans our Holiday Market. The Holiday Market is a 4 day shopping event and is the largest fundraiser for the JLC. We host close to 100 merchants from all over the country. The Holiday Market is also well-known for its 3 fantastic events that are open to the community. From the perfect gift to sitting on Santa's lap, there is truly something for everyone at the Holiday Market.
I have served in many capacities over the years, but my role this year is overseeing the entire planning committee and event with my Co-Chair and dear friend, Misty Burton. We have chosen the theme "Favorite Things", as our committee has referred to us over the years as Oprah and Gayle. ;-) And we all love "Oprah's Favorite Things"!  We are working tirelessly to make this another amazing market and I would love your support.
So here's the scoop...

Cantey Building at the SC State Fairgrounds
DECEMBER 5th-8th
With special events DECEMBER 4th, 5th, & 6th!
Market is open to the public
Thursday, December 5
Friday, December 6
Saturday, December 7
Sunday, December 8
Special Events
Wednesday, December 4
Preview Party
Silent Auction
Grab yourself a date and some dancing shoes and join us! Enjoy music by The Maxx, food by Southern Way, and get first dibs on all the "Favorite Things" our merchants have to offer. Be sure to get a bid number and check out our fantastic silent auction.
Tickets are $55 per person or $95 per couple BEFORE November 15 or $75 per person AFTER November 15.
Thursday, December 5
Ladies Night Out
This IS the hottest ticket in town. No lie!
It is a pre-sold event that sells out EVERY year. Get your best girlfriends and join us for a night of shopping and sampling food from Columbia's top restaurants.
Tickets are $30 and are NOT available at the door.
Friday, December 6
PJs with Santa
Get your little peeps dressed in their Christmas PJs and head over for a fun-filled family night. We'll have face painting, by Tag-it Art tumbling from the Little Gym, cookies and crafts, and Jolly Ol' Saint Nick.
Tickets are $8 per child.

2013 Holiday Market tickets will be available online HERE from October 1 to December 3.
Tickets can ONLY be purchased online and at the door (excluding Ladies Night Out).
Visit or contact me for more information!
Please pass this along to your friends and co-workers.
I hope to see y'all at the market!!!
Claudia Baker
2013 Holiday Market Co-Chair
Junior League of Columbia

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five on Friday: The Tube and Food

It's Friday! Yay!!!

It's also time to link up for Five on Friday.

This week is all about the tube and a new recipe!!

Here's my disclaimer...I am NOT a TV watcher, but recently I've gotten really excited about a couple of "viewing opportunities".

There were several premiers this week that I couldn't wait to watch. I just love Parenthood! It is so incredibly realistic. I've been watching since the first season and have been hooked ever since.
I have to say I was not as wowed by the premier as I wanted to be, but I have confidence it'll pick up quickly. See all the details of this season's first episode here.

THE BLACKLIST! I couldn't decide if I wanted to invest my precious evening time into this show - but I'm so glad I did. It was very Silence of the Lambs-ish. I can't wait until next Monday night! Here's the pilot!

I ADORE Jimmy Fallon AND Justin Timberlake. Both of them are incredibly talented and precious guys. I can't stay up late enough to watch every night, so I cannot wait until Jimmy moves into Jay Leno's spot. It'll give me just enough of my Jimmy-fix before I drift off.

This week he and JT did a skit on what it would sound like if we spoke the way we "tweet" and use social media. It was hilarious!!! I especially loved the hand gestures and really long hash tags (#whichImayormaynotdofromtimetotime). I missed this the night that it aired, but Shan kindly replayed it for me because he knew I'd love it!

I'm not typically an ESPN watcher unless the Gamecocks are playing. However, Shan insisted that I watch The Book of Manning with him this week.  So unenthused at first, I thought "yeah, yeah, yeah! I know. The famous football family. Blah, blah, blah." I have nothing against the Mannings. I've just always thought they're one of those sports anomaly families. But it was so much more! You got a great glimpse into their family dynamics. It wasn't all rosy as I suspected. They were so normal.
As a mother of 3 very active boys, I could relate to so much of the documentary. So many of the clips from their childhood reminded me of my own boys and their MANY games of football, soccer, and baseball that they play in my backyard. I really fell in love with their family. Archie and Olivia seemed to be so unassuming, yet supportive of their sons and their innate passion for football. If it airs's a must see, especially for boy moms.
Here's a link to the scoop behind the documentary.
And finally! A yummy recipe for General Tso's Chicken. I pinned this recipe earlier this week. One word...Awesome! Just enough sweet, just enough spicy. And I was so proud when everyone chowed down. General Tso's Chicken is a family fave. We order it pretty much every time we go out for Asian food. This was every bit as good as a restaurant and I love knowing that it was prepared in my kitchen.

I served it with a side of steamed teryaki rice. I also added a bag of broccoli florets to ours. If you're a fan of General Tso's...y'all gotta try it! Did I mention how easy it was? My little helper thought it was too. ;-)

Any who! It's late on Friday, but that's my 5 for this week.



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fall Bucket List

Fall is here! Finally!

And while it doesn't really feel like it at 85 degrees, at least I know there is hope of sweater weather very soon.

This year I compiled a little Fall Bucket List. There are things we always do that I want to keep as traditions and some new things I'd like to try.

And let's not forget all the "givens"... consume lots of chili and yummy soups, go trick-or-treating, and putting out beautiful mums! It's without a doubt my favorite time of the year!

What's on your Fall Bucket List?

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Summer Highlights: The Baker Beach Vacay

Summer Highlights: The Beach
We headed to the beach the second week in June to do our annual beach trip with Shan's family. We spend 70% of our time sandy and in bathing suits. The rest of the time we eat and sleep. It's the BEST!
Here's a glimpse of the week in pics...
The whole gang!
Our little posse.
Fun with cousins from near and far, boccie ball, and yummy seafood!
This is a mom's desperate attempt to get a decent pic of her boys. FAIL. And then it got dark.
All the reasons I love our week!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Five on Friday!

It's FIVE on FRIDAY! I love reading all these linked posts. It's great for inspiration, motivation, and new fun ideas. I've also found some great bloggers that I need to add to my Bloglovin feed! Here's one of the girls behind these shenanigans.

With all this extra quiet time since the boys have started school, I've actually been able to think! About what? Keeping my house tidy, possibly redecorating, and reorganizing. This week's project...I've started working on some window treatments inspired by VERY talented Courtney at A Thoughtful Place! These are the ones she made for her master bedroom...

I've also had some time to think about personal goals. I posted a looong time ago about how I'd lost my mojo. Well I'm slowly getting it back. For 2 weeks I've been back on my run/walk routine as soon as I walk the boys to school. I've been using the Galloway Method which is wonderful for asthmatics. It's very similar to the Couch 2 5k method and app which I have had a serious love-hate relationship with forever!
I've also been finding lots of motivation and tips from Pinterest and Instagram! Here are two that really helped me this week...
I am back on the MY FITNESS PAL App, again. I've been logging everything I put in my mouth for a week and am happy to report that I've lost 3.4 pounds!!! Yay, me!
{I blacked out the gory details...all you need to pay attention to is that line going down}
I've stayed the same for so long, it's nice to see it go down. And the best part is today is my splurge day!!!

Misty and I had to speak in front of a couple hundred people last night at our Junior League General Membership Meeting. YIKES!!! We were there to sell the cutest T-shirts ever, discounted Preview Party tickets, and pass out bumper stickers. The energy and excitement was FANTASTIC! I can't wait and can't believe we're a smidge less than 3 months away.
How cute are these T-shirts and Bumper Clings?!?!

After reading my friend Erin's post about Fall TV Premiers, I have it on the brain. I can't wait to watch the most realistic show about a family, PARENTHOOD. It is my favorite!!! And I think the new Michael J. Fox show will be fantastic. Who doesn't love MJF?!?! I am done with the lame summer TV selection. Bring on the premiers!!!
Any who, that's my 5! Y'all have a good weekend!!!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Our Labor Day Weekend

Labor day has come and gone. I have to admit that I am really ready for the fall! We had some unseasonably cool temps a few weeks ago that were a huge tease, but our usual scorching and insanely humid weather is back and free to leave any time!

For Labor Day weekend we usually head to the beach with friends or go to the lake. This year we just enjoyed our long weekend with no obligations. We spent much of the day Saturday purging and reorganizing cabinets, which happens to be so therapeutic. I am gathering all things "garage sale" as I am in total de-clutter mode.

Sunday we asked the boys what they'd like to do. Their choice, go get yogurt and play football in the park. It was steamy, but fun!  I wouldn't trade these days for anything. Sam is getting so big now and already craving some time to himself. I know it won't be long before he rolls his eyes and moans, "Uhhh the park? I'm supposed to meet my friends... ." I loved seeing them happily play ball together and teach Oliver how to do the monkey bars. It just warms my heart.


We are so fortunate to be surrounded by several great parks that have recently been renovated here in "The Acres". The one we frequent has the most comfy bench swings, so Shan and I took advantage of the boys entertaining themselves to swing and chat a while.

Monday rolled around and everyone had slept in. It was lovely! While Shan was hopping onto an airplane that afternoon, we headed to my Aunt Judy's house with my mom's family for a Labor Day dip in the pool and cookout. Waterlogged doesn't even begin to describe my boys after their 4 hours in the pool {with a short break in between to eat}. I was exhausted just looking at them! They all slept really well and were refreshed for another week of school.

In my opinion, it was a nice change from the usual get-out-of-town rat race and a nice unofficial end to summer.


Five on Friday!!!

I can't believe Friday is here again! Yay!

It's time for Five on Friday!!! I'm linking up with these cute bloggers to tell you what's happening!

Career change! This week my job description underwent a pretty major over haul. With Oliver starting school full-time I am trying to answer the burning question... What now? My mom and Shannon think it's a good time for me to just BE STILL. I think we all know I have a hard time with that. We shall see. But in the meantime...I'm for hire!


The Roofers are coming! The Roofers are coming!
We are getting our new roof as I type! Yay! This has been the scene here in The Acres for 2 days. Can't you just hear the hammering? No. Well, I now hear it in my sleep! So happy to have this checked off  "The List".


I treated myself to a mini day of beauty this week. After running around with blue polish on my toes all summer, I decided it was time for a change. I wasn't quite ready for dark fall colors yet. So I went with one of my neutral faves "Berlin there, done that" by OPI.

I also got my brows waxed for the first time in FOREVER. I'd been letting them get a tad unruly so the girl would have something to work with. I looks like I got a face lift!!! No lie. One of my boys even asked, "what'd you do to your eyes?" It was THAT obvious!


I'm looking forward to this long weekend! Maybe even sleeping in. We don't have the first thing planned and I love it! Maybe I'll pull out the honey-do list?!?! {insert evil laugh}


Blog reno! Since I have a little more time to spend here, I've been thinking about this little space o' mine on the web. Color scheme, button styles, layout, etc. If any of you who stop by here have suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A lot can happen in a year

Game Day is finally here! Living in the heart of Gamecock Country, the excitement abounds!!! The USC Gamecocks take on The UNC Tarheels tonight at Williams-Brice.

Every one's got their tailgate plans, whether or not they actually go to the game. The stores are packed with all your Gamecock tailgate needs. The local restaurants are frying up wings, thighs, and breasts faster than Clowney's 40 yards in 4.46. And if you're cruising around downtown, periodically you'll here Cocky crow and 2001 echoing through the streets.

The college kids all have their game day outfits and garnet dresses and skirts, khakis with a dress shirt and Gamecock bow ties. The school kids proudly sport their Gamecock gear to school...t-shirts, jerseys, and mini cheerleading outfits. SEC football fans know how to flaunt it well!

Columbia is truly an exciting place to be during football season for all of us Gamecock fans.

But today is going to be a little different for us though.

Something has gone terribly askew since last football season.

You think you know your children.

You think you're doing everything right!

And then one day...

One of them shows his true colors...

{Caution:This photo could be hazardous to your health. Some viewers may find it offensive.}

I never thought this day would come. We now have a Clemson fan!!!!! But I've chosen to accept it and embrace it. {Besides, blonds look good in orange.}

Thanks to Fulton, we are now a house divided.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

There he goes!

In case you haven't heard...

For many parents this is just one of those things we do.

But for the freak show that I am, this is MONUMENTAL!

More "MENTAL" than "monu" because I have serious issues. It's no secret! I am a crier. I cry all.the.time. Especially when it has to do with my boys and milestones.

For a year I've had people say, "I remember you with Sam/Fulton. What are you going to do when Oliver goes to school?"

If you've been around the blog a while, you may remember this, this and this.


You've heard of Attachment Disorder. But I think I have DEtachment Disorder! They could probably add it to the DSM in my honor.

I have loved the birth to 4ish phase of my boys' lives so much that I just hate to see it end.

I love the noon pick up from the preschool. The quiet and silly conversations that we'd have over PB&J sandwiches, trips to the grocery or Target, blowing bubbles on the porch, swinging, and after school play dates. I loved the silly cartoons we'd watch, the snuggling on the sofa, and getting suckers at the bank. It makes sending them to school all day so bittersweet.

But I guess it's even more bittersweet this time because he's my last.

His first day went superbly well! However, Tuesday morning lacked the same spark. There was lots of "I'm tired!" "I went to school yesterday." And "I don't want to go to school!."

But hopefully it's not anything that "The Kissing Hand" can't fix. I've read that to my boys for years and always at the start of a new school year. I made sure we read it again Tuesday night.

I love that book! It's so sweet.

Any who. So this DEtachment Disorder...

I think I've passed it on to Sam and Fulton. We were all super excited, yet anxious, for Oliver to start school.

A few side stories as we sent Oliver to school:

Sunday night:

Fulton and Sam were giving Oliver "tips" on being in big-boy school. Fulton sat him down and said, Oliver, if you need to go potty and don't know how to wipe your bottom you're going to have to ask for help and it's really embarrassing! So you may want to just tinkle at school and poop at home!

Great! Thank you, Fulton for the sage advice!

After I tucked Oliver in I got a little teary as I walked out of his room. I went to tuck Sam in and he noticed and said "Oh mom, don't cry! Lots of kids have been to school there. And they didn't come out dead!"

And thank you, Sam!

Monday at school:

We dropped Oliver off. There were a few tears from me, but nothing like I have thought. I was super proud of myself! And Oliver did beautifully!!

I picked him up all in one piece, happy, and ready to tell me I had forgotten to send something with him. What? He did not know.

So in a convo with his teacher to find out what I'd forgotten {which was nothing...still don't know what he meant}, she said Fulton sent his Assistant Teacher to check on Oliver. Fulton told his teacher that he heard Oliver crying down the hall and that he knows what his cry sounds like. BLESS!

God Bless his sweet, sweet heart! And God bless his sweet teacher for going to check and easing his mind. It was NOT Oliver at all. Oliver was curled up on his nap mat sound asleep!

I cried when she told me the story. Sweetest thing ever!

His teacher also told me Sam was about to break his neck peeking into Oliver's classroom as he passed by. I love it! Oliver is the luckiest little guy in the world to have these great big brothers!!

As for this cuckoo mother, I couldn't wait to see him at 2:30.

But here's the sweetest part that will be etched in my brain forever...

My three boy walking to school together for the very first time. It's the only year that they'll all be together. Priceless. {I just wish this pic wasn't so blurry!}

So there he goes!

I love you Ollie-bird. I hope you have a great year.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer Highlights: 20th High School Reunion in Pictures

2013 marks TWENTY years since I graduated high school. It's really weird to say it, but typing it is like etching it in stone. 20 years? Wow!

The occasion brought some of my favorite people together for the first time in many years. Our last official reunion was our 10th and we had a rather small crowd. Fun, but small. Since then, even more folks have gotten married, become parents, and grown in their professional lives. It was so wonderful to catch up.

I really wish there had been more time to visit with everyone. Three or 4 hours just isn't enough to cram it all in. There are some folks I'd love to hang out with weekly. I have to admit that unfortunately it takes 10-20+ years to truly appreciate exactly who and what some people are all about. There were some classmates that I didn't realize how much they meant to me until now. I feel like I should make up for lost time.

We told stories, reminisced, laughed until we lost our voices, and danced, and danced some more. Beastie Boys, Boyz II Men, Kris Kross, MC Hammer... I even did tried to do line dances. Thank goodness for the stellar instruction from a few of my favorite girls and for my thinking ahead - I packed some flats in my pocketbook!

All-in-all we had a great turn out and I have to give kudos to my dear friends Helen and Shannon who planned and promoted this event. It would NOT have happened without them. The arrangement was so festive and the ballroom accommodated us perfectly!

Highlight of the night - spending the night at the hotel with 3 of my dearest friends. We ditched the hubbies and kept the party going until the wee hours. There was so much laughter and so many great memories packed into such a short period of time. And just FYI, the recovery from such shenanigans is MUCH longer 20 years later. Whew!

ACF Class of 1993

Oh look! It's me!!! Running my mouth. Who'da thought?

Will the real Shannon Baker please stand up?

Truly AWESOME people!

 Then the lights came on. And all kinds of craziness was goin' on!
And my MOST favorite part of the weekend...These 3! Some things never change. We were the best of friends and still are. LOVE these girls more than they'll ever know.
Katy, Anna, and Helen...y'all are the best!

And the award for the BEST Photo Bomb goes to... None other than Mike Wilson. Seriously! Some things NEVER EVER change.