Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Change O Dinner Plans

I had made up our weekly meal plan and then, darn it, melskitchencafe goes and intices me again with this Potato Soup recipe!!  While the weather outside is sunny right this minute, it is expected to drop 20 degrees before dinner time and there is even a chance on white stuff to fall from the sky!!  Huh?? 
So in my attempt to stay warm and cozy, I decided warm and creamy soup is the way to go!!!

What is your favorite soup???

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Forgetful....But always trying to find inspiration to share...

As I sit here, C is sick, J is exhausted and soundly sleeping, M is in Florida and I am trying to catch up on a lot of things at the same time. I was just Skyping with friends, and now I checking email, uploading photo's and trying to keep up with things before the holiday bustle really starts!!

I have been searching BLOGS lately, as I like to do, but because I am on Facebook AND Pinterest I sometimes forget I have this little blog too.....I find recipes, crafts, inspirations in so many places.  I keep them on my computer but forget to share them. Lately, I have been emailing my bestest friend K, each morning with something to make her smile when she gets to work.  We do not live close to each other, but each day I like to let her know I am thinking of her.  It is a little thing I have enjoyed doing.  I got these from Pinterest and they have been a few of my favorites to share with her.....




Sometimes I find free printables online and save them for the shadow box frame I have in my kitchen.  They are an easy way to decorate for the season or holiday.  Currently I have this one displayed



Soon enough I will print this one for the winter season


and then ofcourse I will have to have this out for a holiday party or something...I mean really, who does not love Buddy!


But in all of the busy of my every day life, I have accepted a part time job!!  Last school year, I helped plan and execute a HUGE event in our school district with the Harlem Wizards. (Remember this post??)  I loved every minute of it, loved the show, the Wizards, the company...everything....A few weeks ago, the Wizards called and asked me if I would be interested in helping "sell shows" to schools in Illinois.  After many questions being answered, many conversations with Mark and my parents, and learning more about the job, I accepted it.  This is a new position for the Wizards to tap into a somewhat unknown area in the mid-west.  It is part time, I can work from home, with no travel, unless I choose to travel and perfect for someone who knows a thing or two about planning one of these events.  I am most excited to share my excitement about this team and these events!  The best part is that it gives me a little something to do, when I can.  When we told the kids about the job, after leaving a Wizards game that was played locally, J said "Mom, are you going to be playing with the Wizards?"  Clearly this child thinks mommy has mad basketball skills, but I let him down easily saying "No, I will be working with the guys to play at other schools like they did for us".  He was fine with that answer but is eager to see them play more around here!


So while I am adding another "thing" to my list resume, my first job will always be mom and wife.  That job is the most rewarding....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Knee Deep into Fall!

I love seasons...I think that is why I love living in the mid-west, we see seasons, the changes in the outdoors, and it just makes me happy!  We are into fall here at our house....Granted the high is to be 73 today (and Friday it could be 78!)  Indian Summer is ok with me too! 

C and I made a plan to make oodles of pumpkin muffins today, no matter what! I made 2 dozen 8 days ago and the family ate them in 3 days.....Breakfast, with lunch, snacks etc.....They are a hit!  So we made another 2 dozen today along with a pound of bacon for breakfast this week!  (Time saver tip!  I usually make a pound of bacon on Sundays to give the boys all week long at breakfast to give them some protein in the morning, but we were busy this weekend!) 
Those of you that "know" me, know I do not bake....Nope, I am a cook, and measuring is NOT my thing....Baking to me (and my boys) is using a box mix and adding some other items (as per the directions!)  Our favorite pumpkin bread "mix" is from Trader Joes


Like the box says...Just add eggs, oil and water...Now that is baking to me! :) 

My kids love it, as do M and I!  We even add a few chocolate chips to the tops to make it "better" (as per J & C).  

We are off from school for a long weekend so we have some fall fun planned.  A trip to a pumpkin patch, perhaps apple picking too and we are working on crafting more pumpkins for our indoor and outdoor decor!  I have recently become addicted to Pinterest and have been inspired by some of the things I have found.  My hope is that we can make some fun new things to add to our decor without breaking the budget!  


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Routine, Routine, Routine

I, like many of you, am a huge believer in a routine.  I have many each day.....I make breakfast the same way (although each day differs in the choices for J & C), I have a routine for my weekly chores, and I am trying hard to get the boys in a good bedtime and morning routine on school days.

While I read many BLOGS each day, I do find reading others routines helpful and get ideas on how the make routines easier for all of us.  Today, while reading my favorite Blog EVER, I came across her morning routine printable (which is FREE and that makes it even better) to assist my boys!  I have her bedtime routine printable already hanging on the boys doors, the new morning routine will soon join it for the boys to use as a guide.

Routines are apart of everyone's lives even if we do not really know about it.  I think setting the right routines in my kids at an early age will be helpful as they grow into the big people too....

Friday, September 9, 2011

Freedom....sort of

Finally C has started school and I am learning to enjoy my 2.5 hours of quiet time, alone.  With that said, I am making lists of things I can tackle "sans kids".  The list is long, but easy projects that can be done in the amount of time I have. 

The list continues as will my clean out areas...I am tackling the basement currently.  A dear childhood friend and her hubby are visiting us next weekend and staying with us.  We do not have a guest room (boo!)  so they will be taking over the basement and I want to make it clean and private for them to have a place to relax "sans kids".  I am deep cleaning this weekend, then adding finishing touches to the quick decorating I have done.

Our family room and the boys playroom are down there so there is plenty to clean out.  The toys need to be gone through (without them) to add batteries where needed, ditch any things that have snuck into bins and art work needs to be hung (there is a pile!!)  The family room side is quite clean and organized so there is little to be done but add some things for our guests to make them comfortable.  It is kind of exciting to have guests coming!!!

Next on the list is painting a bathroom, and then I will start to tackle our master bedroom.  Since I have limited alone time it will take some time, but I can do it. One wall at a time!  The budget is ZERO so I need to re-purpose items and get crafty.  I am now addicted (honestly!) to Pinterest and cannot believe the ideas I am finding there for so many things!! I love it!  I have made boards to organize them on the site and can mindlessly look at things, and "pin" them to a board.  It is so easy!!  Kids crafts, fashion, food, decorating...All the things I love to get ideas for! 

Off to take C to school and then get back here to work in the playroom...Its a rainy day here, but we have plans with our dearest friends here in town.  Pizza nights are back now that school is out.  This is our family time with them and we love our monthly dinners together.  Happily our kids love pizza night as much and M and I do! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oh me oh my!! I just found a fun craft for me AND the kids can help (maybe!) 


I found a new blog from an old favorite that I check often.....This new blogger gave a tutorial on how to make frosted jars for floral arrangements.....I have an idea brewing in my head for my mantel and I think this could be the perfect (and cheap) way to do it!! 


Had to share, now off the to grocery store before the rain starts and I am not motivated to leave the house with the boys!

Just can't get enough

Of Mel's Kichen Cafe blog!  Daily ideas for amazing meals!!

Tonight's meal is a favorite of mine, but I am going with her version instead!  Quick-and-tasty-cheesesteak-subs 

I love cheese steaks...I should have been born in Philly, but in Chicago we change the toppings, use less juice etc.  I am sticking to her recipe 100% tonight......We will have to compare later!

While I was searching her site (again) I came across this too....Menu's!  And not just for one week but FIVE!!!  Oh my, the meals and the NOT repeating meals!  I gotta work on this. Sure, we have our ol' standards that I whip out for the kids (or when mommy is not motivated) but for a set 5 weeks of meals, the ease! 

How far out to do you plan your meals? One week?  Two?  FIVE WEEKS??


Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet Your Teacher Day

Today J gets to find out his 2nd grade teacher.  Little does he know I know!  I accidentally found out last week while adding money to his lunch account. I decided to keep it a secret from him. He likes surprises and the day is so fun for the kids!  They all line up outside the gym until the doors open and rush the lists on the walls to see the teacher they got and who is in the class...Some of my friends told their kids, but I kindly asked them to not mention it to J.  They agreed and he is still in the dark. 

It is also the last time I will be going to Meet Your Teacher alone with him.  In the past my parents have taken C so J and I could do this solo, but it donned on me this morning, that next year C will be at the same school for kindergarten.  How did that happen? 

My babies are growing up....I am happy about that.  I am thrilled to watch them as they become the boys they are.  It will also give me to opportunities to do some things I have wanted to do outside the house.......Stay tuned....

Friday, August 19, 2011

Always looking!

I love to look at blogs that help me organize my life, my family, my house etc.

I am a huge believer and fan of Cozi and the amazing online calendar, list maker and articles! We live by it and weekly, if not more, I reference it for something.  We have it on our phones, we print out the monthly calendars, I make lists on it, I text M reminders from it.  It has truly made our family commitments so much easier to handle.

I am also a huge fan stalker of iheartorganizing.  Jen is amazing and inspirational and there is not a week that has gone by that I have not found SOMETHING on her site that has not motivated me to better our home, or lives.  While I might be a silent fan, I still read all of her articles and then plan to do them on my Cozi calendar!  Hello, organized???!!!!???

Jen's latest post on getting lunches ready for school has be ready to tackle a new lunch making routine.  I have made out 30 minutes each Sunday on the calendar to prep for lunches!  I have some bins ready, I have shopped, I have lists of lunch ideas prepped and I am ready to roll out yet another genius organized routine for this family!

How or what keeps you organized?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Knee Deep

School has not even started and the PTO is already making me busy!  As the VP of Fundraising for just one more year,(yea!)  I need to get moving (since I basically took the entire summer off!)  Making fliers, planning events and hoping people help the school out.  How I would love for someone to just write a big Ol check so my job would be easier!

J goes back in 6 days, (not that we are counting!).  We are trying hard to get ourselves out of bed earlier each day so the shock of a 6:45am wake up call does not leave us all crabby on the first day.  It is not going well.  The alarm goes off, but mommy is having a hard time getting out of bed.  I am hardly a good role model if I keep hitting snooze!!

C does not go back until after Labor Day, but he will be on the same morning routine because he has to.  He is not my worry!  J and I are the worries. I need to get serious!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yum! New dinners!

So now that I have been home for more than a week and I have learned to live in the real world with a real kitchen again, I am back to one of my favorite pastimes....Looking for recipes!!  I have found many that I have added to the "must try file" in my recipe binder but this one popped out at me this morning and I have decided I am changing the meal plan for tomorrow night and we are having this!!!


BBQ Macaroni Salad


*Note: For a less meaty version, you can leave out the kielbasa entirely. Alternately, you can substitute many different types of meat for the kielbasa: deli ham, smoked sausage, etc. 


*Serves 8-10

8-12 ounces turkey kielbasa, diced
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
4 green onions, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon canola oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped turkey kielbasa and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a paper towel-lined plate and let it cool slightly before using in the recipe.
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the macaroni and cook until nearly tender, about 6 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water until cool, draining again briefly. Transfer the moist pasta to a large bowl.
Stir in the kielbasa, bell pepper, celery, green onions, vinegar, hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Let the pasta sit for about 5 minutes to absorb the flavors. Stir in the mayonnaise and barbecue sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. The salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Check the seasonings before serving and stir in a few tablespoons of warm water before serving, if needed to bring the salad back to it’s creamy texture.










I am telling you, I am craving it!  Granted I have been having a lot of cravings for BBQ lately.....I could eat it all the time, I love the smoky flavor and the sauces!  :)

Try it! We are and I am sure it will become a new go to meal for us!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer Lovin---Havin a Blast!

Summer break left me with little time to blog...Sorry....All 3 readers!  LOL

Besides the fact that we left our home in mid-July for almost a month to spend at our summer house, we got a lot of pool time and fun in before that! 


C & J painted gifts for M and my dad for father's day in the gorgeous sun!  It was easy too!  Some cheap canvas boards, paint and brushes!  They were very excited about it....So much they took their shirts off!!



For Father's Day we went to an antique car show close to home.  The boys loved all of the cars, but this one was great since the owner let them sit in it!!!!!  A 1963 Austin Cooper! 



Once again my parents hosted a 4th of July parade party! (Perks of living on the parade route!) and some of our closest and best est friends came to celebrate the 4th with us.  Later, some of them joined us for our annual BBQ and then we headed off to fireworks!  Such a great day!




And the boys (4 of them, 2 obviously are NOT mine) had a blast at a park honoring all of the American wars.  Although the kids enjoyed the history, the tanks that they could climb on was a way bigger hit. I think I sat on a bench for 2 hours letting them climb!

Those were our fun highlights., besides hitting the pool every day that it was sunny!  Sure there were some not so fun moments too...like losing power for 56 hours in June, then again for 36 hours in July.  NOT FUN, but grateful for a friend who loaned us her generator saving our groceries and letting me try to cook "generator style"!!!

I have lots to catch up from our summer vacation at the cottage too.....Stay tuned....


Sunday, June 19, 2011

WOW! NEW FAVORITE CAKE!

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

To celebrate Father's Day and kick off my birthday week, my mom made this for dessert from the Barefoot Contessa! SO YUM!!!  This is rich, but the leftovers will be calling my name tomorrow for breakfast I am sure!

2 c cold heavy cream
12 oz mascarpone cheese
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c kahlua
2T unsweetened cocoa powder
1t instant expresso powder (my mom skipped this as we do not like coffee tasting things!)
1 t vanilla extract
3 8oz packages of chocolate chip cookies (she used enteman's boxed cookies)
shaved semi sweet chocolate for garnish

In a bowl combine (with mixer) heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, coffee liqueor, cocoa powder, and vanilla.  mix on low to combine, and raise speed until it forms firm peeks.

To assemble cake, arrange cookies flat on a 8inch spring form pan, covering the bottom as much as possible (she broke cookies to fill in gaps).  Spread the mixture on top (evenly), place another layer of cookies, add more mixture until full, ending with a layer of cream on top.

Cover and put in fridge overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate, cut in wedges and serve...........

~~~It did not look as pretty as the Contessa's version, but OMG......YUMMO!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Growing up

My J is growing up.  As part of his birthday he wanted us to "redo" his little kid room (of transportation) into something cooler...Like sports.  After being sad for a bit, I pulled out my primer and sadly primed over the hand painted race cars I had painted in that room 4 years ago.....I was letting it go.  He was growing up.
J and I went out and found "posters" (not my choice!) of teams he wanted in his room. I would have picked all vintage sports stuff, but this was his room, his choice, my money!  LOL
He stuck with Chicago teams but wants to add more pendants from places our friends and family live.  No sport was left out. Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey were the picks.  We even tossed in soccer too.
On his birthday, while he was at school I loaded up the room for him.  He wanted the load in to be a surprise and I added a few more things too. 

 Was able to flip his "car" quilt over for a plain blue!  Cheap!  Love it!

 Found that great subway art online and spray painted a frame from his room red to match!

I found the desk chair on the curb..I actually found 4 so I spray painted it red too!

He loves his new room! It is so "him".  I spent less than 75.00 on the entire thing, including posters.  We are not working on C's room, who WANTS transportation!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

~SUMMER~

WOW!  Only one week into our official summer break and we are going a mile a minute...2 soccer camps (one for each boy) is keeping me in my car much more than I would like....BUT....I have finished (I think) the porch table project! (Photo's coming later!) 

After numerous emails to some of my most crafty friends, they guided me in 200 different directions, having me really think about the table.I came up with a variation of different ideas, tried them, hated it, sanded, primed and repainted MANY times. While my hubby thought plain white was fine the entire time!  (what does he know!) 

I stuck with my original idea of keeping it pink and green and little else (although I tried other colors too!)  The simplicity of the table is what I love.  The small pops of color! 

My porch and yard are now complete for this season.  6 flats of pink impatiens, countless pots full of colors, super green grass and trimming our overgrown hedge has made our yard "the party place", just in time for the 4th of July!   I love living outside with my pretty pink yard and relaxing on my ubber preppy porch!  I wish it was summer all year long!

I am off to clean off the porch (the pollen is leaving a lovely yellow dust on everything) and will share later! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My baby is 7!

Today is a BIG day at our house....My first born, J is seven today.....As I was tucking him in last night, as a six year old, I remembered the day he was born and the sheer joy of his arrival!

Today, while the skies were cloudy, very rainy and not "birthday like" it was a BIG morning....Remember when I posted back in February about our raffle winnings and I shared that J won TWO firetruck rides to school?  Well today, was ride #1!!!!!!!!!

It was stormy, grey and simply terribly weather, but J, little brother C and neighbor and best buddy M got a private tour of the fire house, the trucks and then climbed into a pumper truck for school!  Lights were on, headphones were donned and J was able to talk to the chief (in the car in front of us) and to M in the back of the truck thinking he was a TRUE fire fighter.


C & J in the drivers seat of the bucket truck


I do not have the photo's of our BIG (and rainy) arrival at school yet, between M's parents, my parents and good friends who became victim of the DOWNPOUR as we arrived, I cannot ask them to "hurry up and send them to me".....but they will come.


J sitting shotgun in the pumper truck as we left for school!

The sheer sheets of rain as we got out of the truck will be comical I am sure...We were soaked as we walked into school, but no one cared.  J was a celebrity as the entire school watched as arrive from classroom windows and doors.  As J entered his classroom, his classmates, hid and yelled "HAPPY BIRTHDAY J" when they jumped out to surprise him!  Then the sweet hugs and wishes from every classmate! It was so sweet.  J is a popular boy today!

C and I came home, dried off, and then started on "project birthday room re-do" to surprise him when he gets home. My little boy wanted a big boy room with sports posters etc.  He picked out all of the posters and then gave me permission to "decorate it".  More photo's on that later.

Tonight, we, with my parents are off to dinner at J's favorite place, California Pizza Kitchen and will open more gifts......It has been an amazing day so far...I am sure as the day continues my 7 year old will think it will be better and better too....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My new project

I have this screened in porch off my kitchen.  It is officially called "mommy's space" and through the years I have been adding to it.

Last fall my parents took this out of our summer house and gave it to me!


I sat and looked at it all winter trying to get inspired how to paint it.  
Then, over the weekend it hit me.....Use the colors from this birdhouse (that my dad used to make me another amazing table....coming later!)


This is one side of my beloved porch with the unpainted table..

There are four wicker chairs in the space....so I took inspiration from the green and pink.....Think Lily Pultizer....
C and I started the taping off and painting yesterday...



C was most helpful in painting the stripes!  We had to give it two good coats (since his accuracy was slightly off) but when we were done, the top of the table looked awesome~
 



So today we are adding some more stripes to the side, some yellow below the top stripes and I am not sure about the legs.  It is a work in progress, but has been so much fun!  

Here is the birdhouse table my dad made me a few years ago.  He has made many for friends and family as well.  He originally just made one for my mom for our summer house, but has made at least 6 more since...


 This is my happy space. I could sit out there for hours (and I do!) When the kids are in bed, I read out there, gaze into the yard, talk on the phone....It is so peaceful and lovely (until the annoying neighbors start to blare music....do not get me started on them ruining my peace and quiet!)

Stay tuned on the table. I am going BIG with color and am so excited!  



Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring has sprung

I have not fallen off the face of the earth, simply trying to get my life back from all the chaos of the last few weeks / months!

Just so you can see the fun I had my hubby took this video after I was presented in front of the 950 people there with flowers and a thank you!  King Arthur (a Wizard player) and I kicked off the interactive half time show!  While I am hardly a dancer, I had a BLAST dancing and honestly the entire night!

 King Arthur with the crowd!

Swoop getting the crowd amped!

It was an awesome night, almost $ 7,000.00 was raised and I am taking a quick break before planning their next appearance!

In the mean time, I have been busy with giving this house a little TLC and starting my outdoor planting and projects....8 flats of flowers, 10 pots to fill with other goodies, opening up my screened in porch / my vacation room and other things to make my outdoor home the place I want to be all spring and summer.  Lots to do, lots to plant, lots of everything!  


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Me and some new freinds

Meet me and my new BFF King Arthur of the Harlem Wizards!  

While he may be only 5'9, and the smallest guy on the team, he has a personality of a GIANT!  ACtually all of the guys were amazing.  Funny, generous, considerate and and true showmen!

As a surprise the many volunteers at our event last night honored me with a bouquet of flowers at Half time. While I was humbled by the gesture, this was not a lone effort, but I appreciated the thought.  This started as a little idea at our dining room table and blew up to a 1000 person event!

Then Arthur and I donned our dancing shoes to kick off the half time show to the cha cha slide!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6K7BfE2jum4

There is plenty more to share, but I am still on a high from the days events!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Something small

I found a way to create a little "cute" in my kitchen weeks ago. I took a plain ol black shadow box frame and when I find something free and printable on any of the BLOGS I visit and I love it, I print it! I use simple and pretty pins to keep the paper from falling down.   I have a file going so I can switch them out for season, holidays, inspiration etc. 

This morning, while stalking browsing some of my favorite BLOGS I found landee see landeedo and fell in love with this spring (and FREE) printable!  I snagged it to put in my shadow box!  The colors are not "my kitchen", but the saying is wonderful.
 Isn't that cute??

The family rules will be filed away until the next time I need them!  It is a fun and cheap way to personalize my kitchen!

Here it is in my kitchen!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We are home, we are busy!

We are back from our fantastic vacation and I dove right into full fundraising mode for the harlem wizards event we are planning next week.  It has been a whirlwind of chaos, phone calls and emails.  I only just yesterday finished unpacking (yes, we have been home for 2 weeks!)
And while I would like to say I have been crafty and creative since arriving home all relaxed, I have not. No time, but as soon as the Wizards are over, I will be outside, sanding, painting, gardening and enjoying some 
R & R. I have a list as long as the eye can see on things to do!
Here are a few of my favorite photo's from our trip....It was full of sun, fun and a lot of R & R, which we all needed and deserved.  9 days was the perfect amount of time to be away and start to miss home sweet home...

 J & C getting ready to ride Grandpa's super fast red car!

 C mastering golf outside my
parents house!

Grandpa took J, C & M on a hike up the mountains. I love this photo and the size differences between them!

More to come from me just as soon as this 1000 person event is over...I promise!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Should be, but I am not

I should be packing for our vacation. I should be finishing up the laundry. I should finish cleaning up the house, but instead I am visiting my favorite BLOGS as a lunch break...The chores will come after my 20 minutes of viewing is over! (And Yes, I did set a timer!)

So off I go to my FAVORITE blog....IHeart Organizing and well, she inspired me again...More because I love trying to make her ideas work in my world!  And when she recommends MORE organized people, well, my heart skips a beat!  Ideas keep my brain busy while I do the daily chores we all do.  Inspiration too! I have my idea book sitting in my pile for my carry on bag...I have a lot of "ideas" when we get home I need to get done!  Wait til you see the list I come up with!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Easter-ish

With the warmer temps of the past week, and the sun shining today, I started really changing some decor around the house and outside.  I NEED it to be spring. I need the sun. I need to NOT wear my UGGS daily.  Granted we are departing for the west on Thursday, where today it was 85, but still, I need constant warmth, not the teasers we get here!

So I started last week with some paper mache where the boys and I made eggs.  It was kind of fun for them, annoying for me since they were not doing it perfectly. I got over it.  Some turned out, some did not.  Live and learn right?  Then I decided they would go outside in our large pot on the front step. I then cut some straight branches from our hedge and white washed them.  Headed to HOBBY LOBBY Artificial Grass to hide the eggs in.  It turned out a lot better than I imagined, and will snap photo's tomorrow. (C was not enjoying the final moments of this project so I had to give up and will fluff it up tomorrow).

I will pull out the rest of the Easter / spring decor this week.  Eggs to hang from chandeliers, eggs to fill up vases etc.  At least there is a bit of spring right outside my front door to make me smile for the 5 more days of erratic weather.....Then I will be basking in the sun of Southern CA for 9 days.  That makes me happy....really happy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On the mend

While I am still recovering from the infection of last week and have sworn to M that I would not over do it, I have been tackling little projects that do not require too much of my time.   I saw this post on iheart organizing and knew this would be something I could tackle easily!

What a difference it made too!  WOW.  15 minutes, some elbow grease, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Pads, 8-Count Box and I have clean handles!

YEA ME!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I could not think of a title for this post..I tried....But with the events of the last week personally and throughout the world, I am at a loss.....

First off, I am getting better each day. I finally had some tests done and it appears for quite some time I have been dealing with a viral infection in my colon.  The Dr's said there is no way to know how I got it and how long I have had it, but the worst is over.  I am trying to get back to a normal routine, but after literally laying down for 5 days, that is somewhat difficult.  M kept up with some things, and others he did not.  Sure the laundry is CLEAN, but 7 loads lay on the floor of our bedroom for me to tackle (and at least 3 more for me tackle today!). Sure, the house is "man" clean, but definitely not to my daily standards.  Sure, the boys have been fed, but not in the same healthy way I would do it.  I have a lot to work on....I am grateful he was able to help in his own way no matter what.

Then there was the images I watched all day of Japan.  The devastation simply hurt my heart.  Back when I went to school in Europe I had made friends from Japan.  I lost touch with many of them after we moved back to the US and then Canada, but yesterday had me praying for their safety and hoping they are OK and out of harms way.  Through Facebook I have reconnected with many of them and somehow through the day they were able to post they were safe. My heart felt better, but the images still are hard to watch.  My constant prayers continue for them.

Today is also a day that I celebrate and grieve.  My brother and best friend would have been 35 today.  He died 14 years ago shortly after his 21st birthday from cancer.  I wish he was here to see my life and be a part of it.  His life was cut short by a terrible disease that hurts so many.  I miss him daily, I miss that he does not know my husband and my boys. I miss his voice. I miss his guidance and I miss him looking out for his big sister.  There was a bond between us that people could not understand. I still remember the words of my godmother at his funeral.  She said "You and him were connected so deeply.  Your lives started over in so many places and for long periods of time, you and he were each others only friends so you depended on each other.  That has been taken from you".  She was right then, and it is still correct now.  Today we will celebrate him with cupcakes at dinner time and I will tell my boys stories of their uncle.  They love to hear about him, almost as much as I love to talk about him.  My parents will celebrate, as they always have since losing their son, with my godparents.  They will do what they have now made a tradition out of...Open an amazing bottle of wine and toast my brother. They will all tell a story as well.  I am so grateful my parents are with the closest friends they have ever day. 

So I am getting back to normal with many things weighing heavy on my heart. I could just pass today by back on the couch, but that is not me. I need to be busy and productive. I will be that, to the best of my ability and pray hard for ease in the pain my heart is feeling today....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Hiatus

Hiatus is a word that I rarely use....I do not sit still well. I do not "turn" off my brain...E.V.E.R.....But, per doctor's orders, I need to.....

Let me explain, without giving out too much....

Monday evening I was doubled over in pain.  It caused me to stay close to the bathroom for 10 hours.  The next morning, the pain was worse as well as some symptoms occurred causing M to take me to the ER.  After an IV of rapid fluids and some tests I was sent home for more tests to be done later this week with other DR's.  He also said I need to stay put, relax and not stress....So, after much rest yesterday, I knew I needed to take a break, see what the tests result in and go from there. I am trying not to google my symptoms to make me more paranoid.

M and the boys have been amazing taking it easy on me.  M is keeping up with laundry, feeding the kids, bathing them, working on homework, and caring for me.  These are all my jobs so even they know I am sick when I cannot even try to help. 

I am blessed to be surrounded with good friends and family close by, as well as friends that are not close by but call / text / email to check in on me.  I am not crafting, organizing or thinking of new things to do. I am catching up on the DVR'd shows I never watch, I am reading magazines and books and trying hard to not be in pain. 

So, until my health is back to normal, nothing crafy or cooking will be coming for me....perhaps just words of wisdom in my boredom! :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Crafty Friday

This weekend I am making a craft for J's school.  I have had an overwhelming amount of teachers at J's school that want to participate in the Harlem Wizards event.  It is amazing! With that said we can only supply 5 teachers from his school for our team so I had to figure out how to get the kids involved and let them vote. 

After much thought I decided on a PENNIES FOR PLAYERS voting system.  I have been collecting milk jugs like a crazy woman (thanks neighbors!).  I have made up signs for each jug that will be glued onto one jug per staff member. The kids will get to bring money / change from home to vote for who they want to represent our school.  The teachers with the most amount of money will be on our team! 

Today I will be making the signs and laminating them.  I will *try* to remember to take photos' of the process. 

My idea could also work on kids!  J is saving his money right now for various "things" he wants before we leave on vacation!  He really wants a new DS game:
New Super Mario Bros. 
credit: Amazon.com
So with my left over milk jugs I will make him one too for his money.  Nightly we seem to count the money and he is up to $ 6.50.  Since we will go to Game Stop for this purchase, chances are he can get it used for less money.  M thinks we could help him, but I would like to see him earn as much as he can before stepping in to assist. I think this is a great learning experience for him!

My momentum of organizing has hit a stand still.  Sadly life is getting hectic before vacation time.  Since we are heading west to see my parents, we are trying to pack early and ship our clothes so we do not have to pay to check bags.  It is most difficult to pack for 3 weeks from now.  Even though I am not wearing shorts and t shirts these days, it seems to be a tough task.  It was easy to pack up the boys boxes, they have enough clothes for 10 children (opps!).  I on the other hand wear everything (ok, almost everything) in my closet.  To be without some tshirts and shirts for weeks at a time could make me feel like I really do have NOTHING TO WEAR!   



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I am up for a challenge!

So I recently found a new BLOG that I am really enjoying!  And she (Toni) has challenges to keep me to stay organized!  Are you game too???  

 

The new "Weekly" Challenge is finally here!!



You all rocked the 21 day challenge & we had almost 300 blogs participating! I pray that the new weekly challenge will surpass the last one.  We shall see! I have been anxiously awaiting to reveal my new blog challenge to you. It will start on Sunday, January 30th.  I will post an assignment every Sunday and we will have the entire week to complete it. 


A few examples of assignments will be:


Organizing your craft room
Creating a recipe binder
Organizing your bookshelves
Cleaning out (and organizing) the garage
Making a Home Management Binder  
 Menu planning
and LOTS more!









*I will be hosting guest bloggers to share some challenges! If you have a good system that works well & would like to host a challenge, please email me and let me know what your idea is?




Some weeks will be very simple and some may be more challenging.  The main goal of the challenge is getting our lives clean & organized and staying that way. We will be spring cleaning together & purging winter clothes together.  My hope is that our blogging group will function to inspire each other and help each other get our lives in order. 


How it works?


If you are participating in the weekly challenge, you will link up your "blog" for that week. Then everyone can visit each other and see how you are doing. You can post your progress daily, or whenever you get to it! You can share pictures or just blog about how your week is going, how the challenge is going, etc...  Hopefully we can all support each other by visiting and commenting on each others blogs, like we have with the 21 day challenge.


If you are ready to join the challenge...

Grab your button:






If you would like to join the BFOL "Weekly Challenges" here on my blog, you can sign up now.  You do NOT have to complete every weekly assignment.  Its here to help you and to guide you. The more assignements you complete, the more in control your life will feel! I want to involve everyone in the challenge. So if you have a weekly assignment idea, please share it in the comment area below.


The only requirement I have is:


*If you are joining, please grab a button and post about the challenge on your blog, so others can see and join in too! The more participation we have, the more inspired we will become.


I would love if you also tweeted & facebook'd about the challenge too... so others can find out and join in!  At the bottom of this post (right beside the word "comments"), there are share buttons you can click on that goes to facebook & twitter!




Happy cleaning & organizing!



Sign up to join the weekly challenge here...


*If you do not have a blog... you can put in your "name" and copy my blog address and paste it where you put the url.

Change of Plans

While our weekly meal plan says "Paninni's" for dinner this evening, I was just reading mel's kitchen cafe and saw today's recipes and decided I HAD TO HAVE IT...TONIGHT!  Yum-O!  Nothing says comfort food like a knock off Olive Garden recipe and my take on their famous bread sticks!

I love Mel's site.  Each day she has a new recipe to offer up.  I put them into my own categories: 1) MUST TRY NOW (like tonight's change of plans!) 2) Will try in the next meal plan rotation 3) Print it and we will see if we try it.  I am not crazy to think I can try every recipe but sometimes I print recipes to try, one day, maybe at the cottage or when friends and I get together to cook.

Now, even though I linked the recipe, I am posting in here so I have it online and easy to find until I print it out!

Tuscan Garlic Chicken


 I would say this recipe is right on the edge of just having enough sauce but not an overabundance, so if you like things on the saucier end of the spectrum, feel free to double that part of the recipe.

*Serves 4-6 (depending on if you are serving adults or kids)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (about 4-5 cloves)
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips or chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
6 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup lowfat milk
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound fettuccine
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a shallow pie plate or similar dish, combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Dip each chicken piece in the flour mixture until both sides are well coated.

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until the oil is hot and shimmering. Carefully place the chicken breasts in the pan, cooking them for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they are golden and browned but not cooked all the way through (they’ll finish up in the oven). Don’t scoot the chicken around once you lay it in the hot oil! Let the oil work it’s magic to sear the crust on the chicken. If you get all antsy and try flipping too early and/or moving the chicken around the pan, the breading is lightly to fall off. Gently remove the chicken to a foil-lined, lightly greased baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside and tent with foil until ready to use.

While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles, cooking until al dente.

Also, wipe out the skillet with a couple paper towels and return it to medium heat, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and bell pepper, sauteing for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in one tablespoon flour and stir constantly while cooking for another minute. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring the mixture to a low simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.

In a small liquid measure, whisk together the cornstarch and cream. Add the spinach, milk and cream mixture to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

When the pasta has finished cooking, drain and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with half of the cheese sauce. Place some of the coated pasta on each plate. Top with a breaded chicken breast and spoon some of the sauce over the top of the chicken and pasta. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: adapted from More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Funny how one thing changes a meal

This past Christmas I asked M to buy me some new pans for gifts. I was specific in what I wanted, clipped out photo's gave him stores to go to etc.  I was overly thorough for these things. I did not want to be stuck returning them after the holidays.

One of the pans was this:
credit : shopping.com
I really did not "have to have it" but really wanted it.  I loved seeing grill marks on the TV cooking shows I watch. I wanted THAT look!  And C loves the lines on his grilled cheese! (So my boy looking at the small details of food!)

I also asked for this




credit: shopping.com
And I find myself using it DAILY! It cleans up beautifully, is a great weight and for health reasons I rarely have to use oil in the pan for cooking on it.  I love love love it!

The last one I asked for was this
credit: shopping.com
I wanted it for when I make smaller batches of my award winning (yes, award winning---3 times thank you  very much.....from the neighborhood Chili Cook Off!) This just had a cute factor to it and was not as deep as the pot I had been using.  It is a great pot for smaller dishes as well.

M came through on all three!  He did exactly what I had asked (basically bought them online with the links I provided!  ha!).  I love them all.  

Now, I am dreaming of more cookware, but these have helped my addiction collection!  I am dying for one of these
credit: shopping.com
But the price tag is a little steep for me (even though we have a LeCreuset outlet close by) and really it is because I love the colors it comes in.  Chili cooking would be turned into an art form with that baby!

It is amazing how in 10 years of married life that I never really looked at my cookware (that my mom bought me when I moved into my first apartment!).  I still use all of the pieces, the function well, and were not cheap.  She (like me) invested in good cookware.  But now, as I delve more into cooking meals, cooking healthy and spend more time in my kitchen I want better cookware.  Not because it will make my meals better (except for the amazing grill marks on grilled cheese) but because I think that when you like what you are doing, with what you are working with, you will try harder.  I try each night to make dinner just a little better. I try to make it different, and pretty on the plate.  I try to make it healthier, but filling.  I try to let my family know that this is just another way of me saying I LOVE YOU.  
Do you have any tools in your kitchen you can live without (and that I need?)???


Thursday, February 24, 2011

MUST. BUY. TODAY.

Last night I went to bed after M.  That does not happen often but I have been getting so much volunteer work done after the boys go to bed lately that I have been sacrificing my own sleep to work in the quiet. 

While I usually have no problems falling asleep, last night (and in the past few weeks) M has been keeping me up with his new habit.....SNORING.....I tossed and turned from 11pm to 1am listening to the various ranges he can now produce from his nose. I love this man, I really do, but tonight I MUST INSIST 
he wear one of these!

Breathe Right Nasal Strips, Large, Tan, 30-Count Box 

I am grateful my list can be post poned today due to the fact that I will be needing a little down time to rest.  I am also grateful that M got a good night sleep and was thinking early this morning, as the tooth fairy forgot to make her "visit" last night to J.  At 6am I heard M sneak into J's room to fix that.