Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Random Thoughts-Summer Reading

Today was Library Day, or as my 4 year old calls it, Lawberry Day.  Our lovely Library has a wonderful Summer reading program this year and today we read books all about night creatures.

The boys did surprisingly well.  They even lasted through the seemingly endless list of announcements that started the session.  About 30 minutes in, the natives began to get restless but I know that the more we go, the better and more engaged they will be. 

It really warms my heart to see my boys interested in books.  I especially love when they sit reading, sometimes with the book upside down, reading intently, brow furrowed.  It just warms my heart.

Reading and books have always been my favorite thing. I've always said, "Some girls have a shoe department store thing, I have a book and second hand bookstore thing.".  I've never found a second hand bookstore I didn't love.  I can walk into a second hand bookstore and walk out looking like Pretty Woman after her shopping spree on Rodeo Drive.
Unfortunately, I have done very little reading for pleasure over the past couple of years, if it isn't a parenting magazine or book  on child rearing, then I haven't laid eyes on it.  Something I truly have missed. But recently I have been finding the time to read a bit, mostly small novels.  Most recently I read, Pemberley Or Pride & Prejudice Continued by Emma Tennant.  Not a bad little novel, even if I didn't completely give myself over to Tennant's version of Elizabeth.  It was nice to read something for pleasure that was about characters I love.

This Summer, along with committing 30 minutes a day to reading to the boys, I have decided to start reading fiction again for myself.  My first challenge is to finish reading PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern, which I have only been trying to read, I think since Evan was born...YIKES!  And then onto the phenomenon which is The Hunger Games which comes highly recommended by all my book loving friends.  If I am successful in this endeavor, I hope to add some book discussion to this blog.  I hope you all will join in. 

What are your favorite books and what are you reading this Summer?

Remember support your local libraries, they need our support.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Recipe Tuesday-Sausage and Onions

A little variation on the original sausage & peppers, I found this wonderful chicken sausage and my family has fallen in love with it.  I love to serve it with a simple white rice, YUM!

First I start out with slicing 2-4 sweet onions, depending on their size, and saute over medium heat with 2 T olive oil and 2 T butter until translucent.

Then add the sausage.  I have small children so I cut the sausage, first lengthwise then across.

Once the sausage is warmed through, dinner is ready!  Enjoy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Growing Pains-Nursemaid Elbow

Every gray hair on my head has one of my children's name on it.  Last week I gained a few more with Ethan's (E2) name on them.  Ethan is suffering from Nursemaid Elbow.  Apparently on Wednesday night, while I was at church, the boys were in the yard and Ethan took a fall. Although he was fine during bath time and while getting into pajamas, when I went in to check on the boys after getting home, Ethan was crying saying the "it hurts, it hurts", but he wouldn't tell me what hurt him. I noticed  his pj top was on backwards so when I began to take it off, that's when I noticed it was his arm that hurt. He was crying so hard it was enough to break your heart.  He got some rest after a dose of ibuprofen and we got him to the doctor the very next day.

Apparently, Nursemaid Elbow is very common in children 1-4 and can happen when the ligaments connected to the humerus or upper arm bone, are loose and they slip out of place.  This is our second experience with Ethan as he tends to throw himself on the floor if he doesn't get his way, however, this is the first time that the pain has lasted as long as it has.

The doctor recommended icing and ibuprofen and to watch to see if he starts using the arm and that is exactly what we did over the weekend.  I am glad to say that he has made a full recovery and is just as feisty as ever.  Unfortunately, the grays are here to stay...

Manic Monday-Rain Rain Go Away!

OK, so this is not my family room but it very well could be.

So this Manic Monday post is dedicated to recovering after a week and weekend where not much got done.  Last week we were having a heatwave where our temperatures soared into the 90's and one day over 100.  Cry me a river, you say?  Well, that just doesn't happen up here in the mountains.  Most days I am wearing a long sleeve shirt until about 10 am because it is still chilly from over night.  So I am sure that it goes without saying that we don't have air conditioning and when the days are that hot, there isn't much you can but lay low.

Anyway, back to this Manic Monday, it's raining today so all in all a perfect day to spend with the kids going through their toys in the Family Room.  So after reclaiming all inoculated surfaces and dealing with breakfast for the boys, it's off to the Family Room.  Been wanting to get in here for some time now, all of the boys' toys have their place but on occasion, if I'm not looking, when the boys clean up they sometimes ignore the specified places for things and toys get put away anywhere they can find a place.

So to begin I went to one of my favorite sources, Organized and a wonderful article on organizing kids rooms.  Today I am sorting, storing and simplifying and re-purposing some of my cluttered book cases as toy storage.  Will take pictures of the finished room.  Wish me luck, or better yet, PRAY!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday-Family Fun Day-Knoebel's

My family had the most wonderful time at Knoebel's Amusment Park.  We love this place!  Parking and admission are free and the coupon books for riding are very affordable and can be found many places at a discount.

My boys are still very young, so many of the rides that interest them are in the 50-75 cent range and the best thing is that they never have to wait more than a few minutes in line to ride any one ride.

In addition to the many stands containing all your favorite carnival/amusement park food, from corn dogs to funnel cakes, there is a full service restaurant on the premises called The Alamo.  The menu had something for everyone including a very diverse children's menu.  The food got a thumbs up from my boys, all of my boys, and that is saying something.

Evan's favorite ride by far is the Hand Car.  I am sad to say that he is growing so fast that this might be his final season for this ride because it has a 48 inch height restriction and he is currently 46 inches tall. I have no pictures of this one because it was Ethan's first time riding and he didn't quite get the concept that it was up to him to keep it going.

Much to Evan's surprise, there was a an excavator to ride that actually worked. He was THRILLED!

Ethan really enjoyed all the rides but he really liked the Red Barron biplanes and the Firetrucks best.

He even got to drive his big brother around on the Panther Cars.

Elijah's first ride ever was the Umbrella Ride which I think he enjoyed along with the train ride.

All in all a very fun day!  I highly recommend it.

Random Thoughts- Public Libraries

I have many fond memories of growing up in our community public library and I hope that my boys will have the same.  We have been visiting our community library for the past few years and we really enjoy visiting The Phoebe Conrad Gallery  which houses a lovely collection of her wax sculptures depicting a variety of scenes from beloved fairy tales and children's stories as well as participating in Story Hour and the Summer Reading Program.

Because of my love for libraries, I have really been disturbed by our state's continual cuts to public library funding.  It pains me to see that our library has the need to continually hold fund raisers, in the shape of raffle drawings for donated items (handmade quilts, goodie baskets, etc), as well as keeping a jar on the front desk for donations "to keep the lights on".  I have truly concerned that if things continue on their present course, there will be no public libraries for my boys to bring their children to, if they even last that long.

I know that my readers have very different political views and I don't wish to alienate anyone.  With that said, I feel that it is irresponsible for me to sit back and say nothing while the current presidential administration takes all the heat for the current state of our nation's economy.  The problems we are suffering now were created long before any spending made by this administration and the most unfortunate thing is that this country has been spending money on so many unimportant things while providing tax cuts for the wealthiest, that now there is no money left for the important things like providing healthcare for the poor and maintaining our countries infrastructure, never mind providing much needed funding to our schools and public libraries.

My wish for my fellow Pennsylvanians and Americans is that regardless of our political affiliations (or belief that we must vote a certain way because of our faith), we would not sit complacently by as politicians, who the majority are part of the wealthiest, continually cut the budgets our schools and libraries.  WE can not allow anymore cuts in these areas.  WE must require them to find other places to find funds (their salaries and benefit packages perhaps or raising their taxes and the taxes of their friends are my suggestions for a good way to start). In the meantime, please come out and support your community public library; buy a raffle ticket, empty your change purse into the electric bill jar, or better yet, return your book or DVD a few days late and pay the fee.  It's for a VERY good cause.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Recipe Tuesday-Cooking with the Kids-Mini Pizzas

This week I had fun in the kitchen cooking with my 4 year old.  We made mini pizzas that were a hit!

First we started with English muffins cut in half.

Then I carefully layered a generous table spoon of our favorite sauce on each one.

Then Evan covered each muffin with shredded mozzarella cheese.

And either crumbled sausage or pepperoni (his favorite). Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden and tad-ah, dinner is served!  Enjoy!

I have linked this recipe with  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Manic Monday-Mastering the Zones

Wow! Who wouldn't want this Master Bedroom?

Hi again, it's another Manic Monday!  Today I am tackling Zones.  On the FLY Lady recommends that you break your house up into manageable zones and each week her followers tackle a different zone.  This week the zone is the Master Bedroom.  Each day there is a new mission to complete, and by the end of the week, the hope is that you will have reclaimed that space.  Of course, it depends on what condition the room/area is in to begin with.  My Master Bedroom has been an everything room for quite some time so I'm thinking that it may take a few times around the zone chart for it to be mine again but I am up for the challenge.

Today the challenge was to take 15 minutes and remove all that you can in that amount of time that does not belong.  The problem is, what to do with all the things that have to be removed????

How do you manage your housework?  So you break your house into zones?  What are your time saving tips for different areas in your house?  Tell me, I really want to know!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Under Construction

Missed Crock Pot Tuesday, but I promise next week's recipe will be a keeper.  As I was completing today's entry, I realized that it was really two entries in one and that in order to them justice, I really needed to split them up and give each the time they deserved.  So here I am, under construction.

Check back tomorrow if you will, would love to hear your comments on a subject close to my heart, our public libraries.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Manic Monday-To Do Lists

Happy Manic Monday friends!  Most of you know that I am on a journey to change my life.  One of the things I am tackling is organization.  I have been trying to find a way to better manage my time by clearing out the clutter and keeping myself organized. Creating daily routines is another way I am keeping myself organized and using "to-do" lists is a way I am working on my time management.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been trying out different sites dealing with time management and calendaring.  I am still trying to find just the right site that does all the things I need it too.  The closest one I have found is To  Sign up is free and although it takes a little time to set up, it is a really helpful tool in keeping your time organized.  It also has plug-ins so that you can access Todoist from your browser or mobile phone.

Some of my favorite features is that you can create projects like, clean the bathroom, and then break up that project into all the steps to completion so that, if you are like me, you can click off each specific task as you complete them creating that wonderful sense of accomplishment you get when crossing things off your to do list!

Another helpful feature is the reminders, you can set up your reminders anyway you like, from specific dates/times, daily reminders, weekly or monthly. What I am still trying to figure out is how to link it to my outlook.  I'm hoping that my reminders can be on my desktop as soon as I log into my computer in the morning and I am thinking that if I can link it into my outlook then I can get that to happen.  Anyone out there know if that is possible or am I living in a Utopian fantasy???

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spirit Sunday-Grace

My friend, Lois, over at Walking on Sunshine had a wonderful post last Sunday and it stayed with me all week.  Her post was about grace in our weakness. 

What does grace mean to you?  Merriam-Webster says it's: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.  The bible says, by grace we are saved. (Ephesians 2:8, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. NIV) It also says that God lavishes His grace on us. (Ephesians 1:7-8  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, NIV).  In 2 Corinthians 2:9,  it says, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” 

I thank God each day for His grace, for it is only by this grace that I can get through the day.  Thank you Lord!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Movies...Knight and Day

We have a free weekend of premium movie channels this weekend and I have finally gotten to see Knight and Day.   I have to say, I really enjoyed it.  It had a nice mixture of comedy, action and romance.  I think it is a good family rental with exception of younger members due to some language and the obvious violent content.  

What I would love is to discuss this movie with any readers that may have seen it.  Although the story is pretty straight forward, there was this one part at the end that I have a theory about because it wasn't really spelled out in the movie.  I just love that!  I love when movies leave little holes in the story that leave your mind to wander and create alternative endings or places for open discussion.

What movies do that for you?  And PLEASE, if you have seen this movie, leave a comment, I have a question for you...

Friday, June 8, 2012

What's For Dinner?

What's for dinner?  Last night it was roasted chicken pieces with my easy roasted potatoes and green bean salad.  I love these recipes because they take almost no time at all and can be put together a variety of ways.

First, the oven roasted chicken pieces.  Last night I made a few boneless, skinless breasts and some chicken legs.  Sometimes I use split breasts, or you can use thighs.  The basic recipe is always the same but you can mix it up using whatever your preference or what you have on hand.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lay the chicken pieces onto a foil lined cookie sheet. (Foil first makes clean up easy later). 

Season the chicken on both sides with Adobo and then drizzle a little ranch dressing on each piece.  I like to do this to add flavor and keep the chicken moist.  Here is another place where you can change it up again.  Use your favorite creamy dressing like balsamic or thousand island, you can't go wrong here. 

Next, sprinkle the top of each piece with Panko Bread Crumbs and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown.

Next, my easy oven roasted potatoes.  Sometimes I like to use a combination of red bliss and yukon gold potatoes for this recipe, but last night I had yukon gold so that's what I used.  Any type of potato will do, whichever you prefer. 

Scrub the potatoes clean and cut into bite size pieces being careful to ensure that they are equal in size so they will all cook at the same time. You can peel the potatoes or leave the skins on, as I do.  Remember, there's no wrong way.  (If you  peel, there is no need to scrub.) Then place in a microwave safe bowl.  Rinse and drain, leaving as little moisture in the bowl as possible.  Season with Adobo or just salt and pepper.  Here is another place where you can change it up.  I sometimes add thinly sliced onions and season with any variety of Mrs. Dash or bacon pieces and cheese, anything works here.  Then add 2T of olive oil and 2-3 pats of butter (butter optional) and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes at a time until potatoes are fork tender.  Then add to a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are golden.

Last but not least, my green bean salad. 

Take a can of french cut green beans and drain well.  Then place in a bowl and season with Adobo and add 1/4 cup of ranch dressing.  Here is another place to switch it up.  Change the dressing or add other vegetables like shredded red cabbage, or thinly sliced red onion.  If you like a crunch, feel free to add sunflower seeds, pine nuts or slivered almonds.  The possibilities are endless.

I hope you'll try out these recipes and let me know how you changes them up.  Buen Provecho!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Boy, have I been slacking off?  Sorry readers, these past few days have been a bear to get through but I am hoping that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is only a pinhole!

So most of you know that I am on a journey of organization.  I have found several resources to guide me along the way,, Organized, & Life Goes, just to name a few.  I've noticed, especially over the past few days, that in order to create change you need to remain motivated.  I think my biggest problem has been that things got so hectic that I lost my motivation to continue to change my routines.  I sank back into the old routine of barely keeping my head above water, not a place I like to be or care to be.

Woke up with the sun today with a fresh outlook and renewed motivation.  Spending some time organizing my tools like my "to do" lists and my Control Journal and slowly integrating the things that need to be done today and in the next couple of days into my routines.  Will update you on my progress in the coming days.

In the meantime, I'm planning "What's for Dinner?".  I have some voice lessons today so I'm going to keep it simple.  I'm making chicken pieces, potatoes and a vegetable, will share pictures and recipes on tomorrow's blog.  Hope you'll stop by and leave a comment.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Wow, sorry I have been MIA.  Had a family wedding this weekend and I was completely occupied with catching up with out of town family members, the wedding and then catching up with my boys.  

Manic Monday was exactly that.  Spent time reclaiming inoculated surfaces, and catching up on some phone calls (which of course ate into my decluttering time) but the best thing was that I got to reconnect with a cousin that I haven't spoken to in over 8 years. We have had some minor communication over Facebook but haven't actually spoken to each other until yesterday.

It was a lovely time of reminiscing hearing all about his life. He told me about his new career, his daughter and caught me up on some of the family gossip.  We promised to make this a regular thing and I believe we will.

It may seem strange to most, but my family, on both sides, has never been the kind that was very close.  My mother is the youngest of 5 and all of her siblings live far from each other.  I was closer to my aunt & uncles while I was younger but now it seems like we are limited to a series of long distance phone calls and chance visits if anyone of us can be lucky enough to travel near any of the other.  Having relationships with my cousins has been nearly impossible.  Growing up estranged from my father made any relationship with his side difficult but as an adult, I have been able to forge my own relationships with my aunts and uncles and my adult cousins.

If you are not careful, life can get in the was as it did with my cousin Joseph, and before you know it, it can be 8 years before you have spoken.  

What do you do to stay in touch with the people you care about?

Changes-Back to Basics

So I followed the Fly Lady's advice and wrote out my Morning Routine.  It made such a difference this morning, even when the boys tried to rattle me, I was able to stay on track and get to things that needed to get done.

Change is hard and going through life with conscious thought is even harder.  As crazy as it may sound it's much easier to try and get by just riding the wave of a hectic life instead of having a plan and a purpose.  The latter just creates more chaos with important things falling through the gaps and only makes things more hectic where (and I am hoping this theory will be proven right in my life) having a plan creates order in which life can be purposeful and with the important stuff handled, more times that can merely be enjoyed.

In addition to the morning routine, she recommends a  Before Bed Routine which I have also set into motion.  It's amazing how much having a checklist to go by makes things go so much more smoothly.  Of course, every night is a little different, especially with the boys, but I try to stick to the basics and everything falls into place.

What kind of routines do you have in place at your home?  What are your "back to basics" routines?