Little Surprise For My Birthday

February 28, 2012 by  
Filed under General

You know those people that always seem to be lucky?  I have never been one of those people that is often randomly surprised by things.   I have always thought that a random winning or a random note in the mail was the cats pajamas for me.   It kind of picks you up and makes your day, week, month or year and gives you a little spring your step.

This year for my birthday, I was blessed enough to get a new laptop from my wonderful husband and a visit from the fairy hob mother.  My laptop was in desperate need of being replaced, and although it still worked, the cord was falling apart, the usb ports didn’t work and the mouse click button was broke.  Then I was pleasantly surprised by a random gift from the fairy hob mother, who blessed me with an unexpected gift of amazon money to spend.   How cool is that?  It was totally random and made my entire day.

Even if you haven’t been randomly gifted from an enchanted being, I think that there should be much more random gifting and happiness being spread in this world.  I have decided that I will pay this forward in some way.  Whether I send a letter to a friend, or send someone a gift that they weren’t expecting, random acts of kindness are great for the soul.

Maybe next year I will be blessed by all new appliances from a place like Appliances Online, I happen to think that all new stainless steel appliances would look stunning in my kitchen.   A girl can dream!

 

 

 

**I was randomly gifted by the Fairy Hob Mother, but this post you see here is all my own piece of mind**

39

February 19, 2012 by  
Filed under General

I can’t believe that I am staring at that number.  I am just a year before I reach the next check box bracket on all the surveys  lol.  Tomorrow, I will be entering my fortieth year and turning a very intimidating 39.  In some ways it is depressing, but in other ways, I am happy to be here because of my family.

I don’t really feel all that old and in fact, I look at myself as a young mother.  My boys are only five years old, so I have lots of keeping up to do.  I have even entertained the idea of having a sibling for them, I really am not sure that I am done.  A lot of people think having twins or multiples solidifies your family, but since my husband and I started late, I sometimes feel like we just got started.

I like to believe age is just a number, or at least I keep telling myself that, so I don’t lament over that number up there.  Whoever thought to make a big deal out of turning forty?  At least I don’t feel over the hill yet.

Here’s to many more days where I still feel young enough to be happy about turning another year older.   Happy Birthday To Me!

Dark Raspberry Dove Chocolate Cupcakes With Raspberry Buttercream

February 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, Food & Recipes, General

I was thinking of ways to wish you all Happy Valentine’s Day, or just wish you all a happy day.  So my taste buds decided to take over.  I have an addiction to thee new Dove chocolates that I found in the store one day while I was crabby, PMS’ing and needed chocolate.  If you haven’t tried them, they are the Dove Raspberry Dark Chocolate Promises.  They are the perfect ratio of chocolate to raspberry and I have to hide my stash in the house.

So I decided, what if I put these in a chocolate cupcake for Valentine’s Day, or any day for that matter?  So I came up with a little recipe to celebrate this day of love…love for your loved one, love for yourself, love of all things chocolate, or just plain old LOVE!

Cupcake Ingredients

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line Cupcake pan with paper or foil liners of your choice
  3. In large mixer bowl, stir together dry ingredients.
  4. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in boiling water by hand and then add the melted Dove Chocolates
  6. Pour batter into baking cups about 3/4 full or a little more if you are daring.
  7. Bake cupcakes 15-20 minutes  or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire racks.
Raspberry Buttercream Recipe
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
  • Reserved Dove Chocolates for shavings

Preparation

  1. Be sure to wash and thoroughly dry raspberries before adding to frosting.Beat Raspberries, Butter, Vanilla and salt together at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition.

Top each cupcake with frosting and sprinkle some pretty decorations on top with a few shavings of Dove Chocolates and you have a very tasty Valentine or anytime treat!  Enjoy!!!!

 

 

Change

February 7, 2012 by  
Filed under General

I haven’t been posting much because I was going through a temporary thing where I was lost in thought.  Since becoming a mom, I have many days or periods of time where I think about things that are going on, as well as the future.  There was one thing I briefly touched on earlier in one of my postings, about the boys heading off to kindergarten.  The moment is both exciting as a parent and is somewhat dreaded.  It is hard to let your children go, parents all over the world struggle with the same thing I am sure.

Registration for the upcoming school year is about to begin, and I will admit that it doesn’t really thrill me all that much.  If I had the choice to home school the boys I would definitely consider the option.  For me, I lack some of the organization, patience and know how.  I also feel like the boys have a hard time sitting down with mom and ultimately focusing enough to do lessons on a larger scale.

There is debate surrounding the home school idea, about kids not being socialized etc.  Having never stepped foot inside of a daycare or preschool,  my boys are already quite the opposite and chatter any kids arm off, and make new friends at any playground or soccer game.  Anyone on the other side of the fence will argue their points just as well, I am not one to debate.

When it comes down to it, the truth is I don’t enjoy sending them off for a large portion of the day, just so I can get my stuff done, so I can take a break, so I can enjoy my free time.  I hear many parents say, how much they enjoy the “free time” or that they are so glad their kids are out of their hair.  The fact is, I will miss seeing them play, interact, learn and slipping me the surprise kisses and I love yous all day long.  It will be someone else watching them learn and play and grow while I am here at home wondering what they are doing.  For me it feels like I’m feeding my kids to the wolves.  School has a lot of good things, but it also has some negative.

I think it will be an adjustment for everyone, and probably for me most of all.  I might have a cleaner house, laundry caught up and dinner on the table exactly at 5pm, but in my mind, I don’t know if what I am missing is worth all of that.  I will be crying in the school parking lot, you bet I will.  The moment will be so full of emotion.

I love you my sweet boys.

Whirlpool Tubs What They Don’t Tell You

January 30, 2012 by  
Filed under General

When we had our house built a few years ago, it was such an exciting process.  There is nothing like building a home together and getting to choose what you do and don’t like and what features you would like to have.  At the time, the builder had free upgrades available, like a whirlpool tub in the bathroom over a bigger shower.

I am a bath taking girl, I love to soak in there when I don’t feel good, when I am cold during the Winter, or just to light some candles and relax.  At the time the whirlpool tub sounded divine and it still is.  It’s like having a hot tub in your bathroom.  When we first moved in, I used it often and almost daily.  Then I sort of got tired of it and just would soak in the tub.

Then one day, I was sitting in the tub and these flakes of stuff were floating in my water.  EWWWWWW!   I am probably one of the cleanest people on the planet, if I see dirt I’m in full cleaning mode, especially the bathroom.  I don’t like smells of any kind either.  At first, I just thought maybe it was just dirt from the drain or something.  Then it started happening frequently. So I bought some stuff that is supposed to clean out the whole jet system.  I ran it through there and it went away.  But I didn’t use the jets anymore.

So I did some reading and found out that this stuff is inside the jets of the tub are breeding bacteria and all sorts of harmful junk.  It consists of dead skin, oils, mold, and unimaginable bacteria strains.  Gross eh?  No one ever mentioned that I needed to clean out the jets weekly with some special cleaner, so even though I was cleaning out the tub after each use with cleaners, I never thought about the jets. Granted, I am sure that there are instructions somewhere, but I never got any with the house and didn’t know a thing about whirlpool tubs.

Then recently, when the boys were in the tub, this crud started floating in the water again.  So I instantly grabbed the jet cleaner and went to work.  Granted, the jets haven’t been touched in about 5 years because I just forgot about them.  This little adventure of cleaning out the jets went on for the entire weekend, of filling up the tub, running cleaner through the system, draining the tub, refilling with cold water to rinse out the jets, and even running a half a gallon of bleach through it several times.  You would think, that would do the trick, but about a bazillion gallons of water later (I hate to see my bill) , the gunk is still there!  So how do you effectively clean these jets. because the “special cleaner” they recommended doesn’t even work!   I have resorted to showers now until I can get them completely clean, or if I can.

The stuff you see is enough to make you gag, and I am really disappointed in the fact, that you cannot easily clean these tubs, not to mention the gallons of water wasted to do so.  If I ever get them clean again  I might actually get to use the tub, like I planned last weekend but never got to that point.  Until then, think twice about using those fancy jacuzzi tubs in hotels, god only knows what could be lurking in those…just EWWW!  I will never own a whirlpool/jacuzzi tub again.  They are too much hassle for just a few relaxing bubbles and who wants to soak in a bath that makes you feel gross before you even get clean?

Shout Color Catcher Winners!

January 30, 2012 by  
Filed under General

Congrats to Carol and Amie, for winning the Shout Color Catcher giveaway.  Winners have been emailed.  Thank you for all who entered.

 

Your Winner

(confirmed)

Author: amie d
Comment: permalink
 

Your Winner

(confirmed)

Author: Carol Foster
My biggest problem is ground in mud and dirt from my kids sports uniforms carolkfoster at comcast dot net 

Homemade Cheez Its!

January 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, Food & Recipes, General

I was out and about surfing the web when I ran across a recipe for cheese crackers, that I knew I had to try. I almost always pick up a box of Cheez Its in the store. They have been around since I was a child and I still love them even today. So when I ran into a way to make my own baked crackers, I jumped at the chance to try and make a new family favorite. At first I had high hopes that these would taste just like the real thing, but to be realistic, that will never happen. I don’t have enough preservatives and ingredients I can’t pronounce in my baking arsenal. If I could find something that we like out of this, I prefer the natural, low preservative version.

The recipe is extremely simple to put together, and the end result is a cracker that is light and crispy. You could even turn these into twisted cheese straws, add some spices, and mix and match cheeses. For simplicity sake and for something that appeals to two 5 yr old little boys, I went with plain old sharp cheddar that I grated from a leftover brick of cheese that was just calling my name.

Recipe

Homemade Cheez-Its

(Adapted From: ReadyMade Magazine)

Ingredients:

  1. 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated plus a little parmasean reggiano
  2. Optional Seasonings (I used a little cayenne pepper)
  3. 3 Tbs of unsalted butter, room temperature
  4. 1 Tbs vegetable shortening (you can omit the vegetable shortening and use 4TBS of butter)
  5. ½ teaspoon salt
  6. 1 cup unbleached flour
  7. 2 Tablespoons ice water
  8. Coarse salt for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Combine cheese, butter, shortening, optional preferred seasonings and salt in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. The mixture will be crumbly.
  2. Slowly add the flour then the ice water.  Add a few extra drops of water to help it come together (this is just like making a pie crust) but be careful not to add too much.
  3. Pat the dough into 2 discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for  30 minutes or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 375?F.
  5. Using parchment paper or a silicone mat roll each disc to 1/8 inch or less and cut into 1 inch squares (a pastry wheel or pizza wheel is easiest). A toothpick works great to punch a hole into the center of each square.
  6. If you have difficulty separating and transferring the crackers onto the baking sheet return the parchment paper/mat to the refrigerator for 10 minutes (while you roll out the 2nd dough disc).
  7. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until puffed and browning around the edges. If you pull them out too soon and the crackers don’t have the desired crispiness you want then simply return them to the oven for 2-3 more minutes.
  8. Move crackers to a cooling rack. Makes about 7 dozen crackers if you can keep them around that long!

The recipe is extremely easy.  I found the pastry cutter at Williams and Sonoma for around $10 but there are cheaper ones on Amazon.  You don’t have to be that fancy however, but I like the pretty edges on the cracker.  I will be trying some twisted cheese sticks with this recipe for the Holidays, I think they would be pretty and make a great snack even with a warm artichoke and spinach dip.  Yummy!

 

No Speak English at the Grocery Store

January 16, 2012 by  
Filed under General

I have a tiny little rant.  I was at the store looking for something and another product caught my eye.  I was attempting to read the front of the packaging so I could find out the information I needed and the specifics.

I stood there for several minutes flipping the box around at all angles to find the instructions in plain English.  I am running across things in our stores where the first language I see is something other than my own.  Last time I checked, I wasn’t visiting in a foreign country, but it sure felt like it.  After looking hard, and looking long, I found the description I needed in English in a tinier print than all the rest on a product made here.

I don’t know about you, but this completely irks me.  Last time I checked, I was in the good ole U S of A and the language spoken here is English, LAST TIME I CHECKED.  I understand we are a melting pot of individuals and cultures but seriously? When in Rome, do and speak as the Romans do.  When I visit other countries, I don’t see any special provisions for myself on product shelving.

When did this become so bass ackwards?   Keep the foreign language classes as electives in the classroom, and let me grocery shop without feeling like I have to enroll in French or Spanish just to do so.  Maybe, I have a strong opinion, but this should not be happening.

Rant Over Amen! Or Should I say…. Despotricar Sobre Amén?

Parenting Is

January 10, 2012 by  
Filed under General

Growing up, I spent a lot a time around kids, and always took on the mothering role.  I was the one in the neighborhood who offered to watch your kids for free, just so I could tote them around everywhere.

As I got a little older, and eventually got married, having a family was one of the things that I knew was important to me.  When you don’t have kids you make observations about other people’s children, you think about how you might handle the situations that arrive.  And many of us, tout how we would never do that if it was our child.

Becoming a parent though, is a reality check.  You cross over to that other side, where you seemingly lose all of those past “if that was my kid” I would…. And suddenly you step into reality mode, where everything is new, and a huge learning process.  You start getting all sorts of advice on how other people did this or that with their kids and how it all should go, right down to the kid’s first tooth.  Pediatricians have advice, neighbors have advice, and you can find yourself getting lost in all these ideals of how it should go, making developmental comparisons, and worrying about some of the silliest things.

I quickly changed how I felt about a screaming kid in the grocery store, or a kid that decides to act up in the middle of dinner, because after becoming a parent you can relate.  Kids can just start misbehaving out of the blue and I sympathized rather than judged.

Soon, as a mother, I began to realize that this isn’t how parenting should be, well at least for my own children.  I realized something very important that parenting should be intuitive based on you relationship with your child.  There should be no rules, no guidelines, no standards.  I have found my struggles with potty training, sleeping etc to be less when I just do what feels right for my kids and for myself.  When I talk to family, they asks questions like “shouldn’t they being doing this?”  My reply is simply, I dunno, but it is ok, because they will eventually.

This is not to say that my parenting is lax, my children are asked to listen, to be respectful and I attempt to challenge their little brains as best as I can.  I tell them to brush their teeth, and I expect them to pick up toys (this doesnt always happen), and there are time outs.

When it came to potty training though, I became stressed out trying to potty train twins, to make them go potty like I wanted them to and feeling the inevitable pressure that by the time they were 3 if they were still wetting their pants, that I was a miserable failure and doing something wrong with my kids.  When will I move them to their own bed?  Are they doing this or that?  My mind became preoccupied with all of this stuff, and now realize, very useless stuff.

I realized that these were my kids and whatever our routine, whenever they potty trained, was ok with me.  And after I stopped obsessing about it, it happened on its own.  Both boys potty trained right around the age of four, they are five now and still wear pull ups to bed and yes they have accidents, am I worried, absolutely not.  Does it make me a lazy parent, I don’t believe it does.  My children are happy healthy and that is what matters.

We are all in such a rush for them to grow up and do things on some developmental chart that we lose track of that connection with our child.  I am also not saying to ignore something if you feel there is a problem with your child, but for little things about where they sleep, or if they are potty trained by some set time frame, you should just let your child tell you.  Less stress equals happier parents and children.

Shout Free Winners

January 3, 2012 by  
Filed under General

Congrats to the winners of the shout free giveaway!  All winners have been contacted!

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