Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And the countdown begins!

One of the most USEFUL tips I have in the parenting world? Countdowns!

You know when your kids have optionally chosen to listen to Yo Gabba Gabba's advice on saying please, but chosen to completely IGNORE your request to turn the TV off and get ready for dinner? Or when they swear they didn't hear you tell them to stop beating their brother with parts of their Thomas the Train tracks? Yours don't do that?

Oh....sorry.

Ours do.

And when I can't get their attention, I count. Firmly. 1--2--3--4--5. The boys have learned quickly....or maybe not so quickly....I've been using this techniques for a couple of years now.....that when we get to 5, a time-out or something much more drastic is coming. We rarely get to 5 anymore. It helps them to make a decision and focus on our request. It gives them parameters on their choices...either they act before we get to 5 or they have a time-out. Easy enough.

Very effective. Super parenting tips. That's what I'm giving you this week. Use it at your beck and call!

And head on over to We are THAT Family for more great life-saving tips!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Blessed with Grace


I've been in a funk lately, cooking wise. Not too inspired, am I....but evidently I like Star Wars characters? Not really...

But I did manage to make some cookies the other day with the boys. And these were DELISH! I found the peppermint chips around the holidays and stuck 'em in the freezer for such a wonderful treat. And they are.

Think Christmas in July, via cookie flavors...

Andes Peppermint Stick Cookies

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla (use the real stuff people--it is SO worth it!!)
2 eggs
1 pkg. Andes Peppermint crunch baking chips
2 2/3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional).

Blend butter, sugars, soda, baking powder, vanilla and eggs until smooth and creamy. Stir in baking chips, then flour. Add oatmeal and pecans. Drop round spoonfuls onto baking sheet. I ALWAYS use parchment paper and then there is virtually NO clean up! Bake at 300 degrees for approximately 12 minutes. They will be soft with just a bit of crunch to the outer edges but they do not get very brown.

Careful not to overbake because then they are only good crumbled up into vanilla ice cream (hmmmm....wonder how I figured that one out?!)

If you don't eat them all before they cool, they make a great treat for a swim party! Enjoy!!

Head on over to Grace's Mom for more wonderful TMTT treats!!

Thrifty Treasures



Gotta brag about some wonderful thrifty finds--other than the Veggie Tales movie!! Check these out!!

I love this little side table! Gonna paint it a creamy white and stress it out a bit. Come back and see it!

I'm SO excited! Look at this chalkboard I found for the boy's room. A fresh coat of chalkboard paint. The little container will be painted and home to fresh new chalk!

Got this tripod for a steal at $3! Hubs thinks he can use it and if not, it will resale easily.

For our lawn care! SH is still really giving me a hard time because I sold our last one in a yard sale because I didn't think we needed it....ummm...we need it! Not bad for $3.

These clothes for Big Boy? FREE!! WOOT!

Head on over to more great thrifty finds at Southern Hospitality! Good luck on your thrifty finds this week!

What's Keeping Me Busy

I've had a few followers ask me what was keeping me so busy these days.

And it really is swimming lessons, laundry, work, laundry, swimming, laundry....you get the picture.

The other thing that is keeping me occupied? Plans to return to grad school.

I reveal this fact a little hesitantly. Grad school. Work. Grad School. Laundry. Grad school. Homeschool. Grad school. Lessons. It will be a very hefty goal. And exhausting. One I'm very well aware of. I finished my last degree when I was six months pregnant with Big Boy. And not one moment too soon. I was ready to be done. VERY happy to be done. Adament that I did not want to return to school. Done.

I guess I wasn't done. Super Hubs and I have been discussing long-term goals again. The uncertainty of his career has weighed heavy on our hearts for quite some time. It is not improving and we are facing the reality that it may never resume the once rock-solid career it once was. Maybe...maybe not. But it is all he's ever done. All he is educated in. All he's ever wanted to do. So if he is to continue in this field, we need to think about how we will continue our goals towards retirement and our family. To continue on this road, we think it would be best if I went back to school to get my Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) license. That would give me more flexibility in my career, more opportunities and as with most any healthcare career these days, more security. All good things, right? I am very blessed to have chosen a career that is so solid in this waning economy. I'm very blessed to be given this opportunity to help others in such a meaningful way. I'm aware that these two factors are such a blessing from God. I'm not complaining. But honestly, I'm a bit hesitant and sad, maybe? School is very hard work and very demanding on my time. I've been blessed to place our boys, and our family, at the very top of my priority list for the past several years. I'm not all that excited about making something else a priority.

So I'm revealing this to you, my bloggy friends, so that if I ever should whine, complain, oh! let's-face-it! Bitch---about my blessed opportunity to do this, please remind me of what a blessing it really is?! Help me to keep my eye on the prize! This degree would afford me the opportunity to practice my skills in very productive, direct avenues to help people (I'm seeing some terrific medical missions in my future! How awesome would that be for the boys to participate in?!). It would possibly afford us the opportunity to move closer to our families. And very likely, to keep some rock-solid job security in our family. So I'm sucking it up, friends, and getting back to work on those applications. I'll keep you up-to-date on how it's going. And hopefully, you won't hear me complaining too much about the workload. Let's keep it real though....if you are anywhere in the Southeastern U.S., at some point, you just may hear me throw a Pharmacology textbook at the wall....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Please forgive me....

For being absent. I'm actually not. Absent that is.

Just BUSY! Like, barely any time to sit down, busy.

Working n' taking kids to swim lessons, playdates with long-lost friends, more swim lessons, applying to grad school---AGAIN(!!), swimming for fun and practice, laundry....ugh! Life has taken over again!


I'll beg forgiveness and leave you with this---I've got some great trashy treasure. Believe it or not, in the busy-ness of life, I did get to some great little yard sales and found some wonderful trashy treasures.


One of the best items I scored? This!


The boys love the Veggie Tales movies! And this one has been a hit---for $2!!! I love that it reinforces wonderful values and they love and get, all the great humor in it as well.

Now, lest you think that all I do is reinforce video teaching, I'll back off the videos for a bit. I've got MUCH more wonderful things to be showing soon.

Wonderful little trashy, treasure-y things. WOOT! Check back in a couple of days!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Kid Friendly Friday!


A definite must-have in our homeschooling 'curriculum' (if you can call it that....I'm creating things as I go and not buying anything right now...) is this item here:


It is a fantastic video! The boys love it and I really enjoy it as well!!

Now, I do not endorse teaching children via video for the most part. We do a lot of discussions regarding proper phonics, letters and sounds as well. We write, paint, color and draw our letters.

This video is an excellent SUPPLEMENT to your other teaching methods. The phonics and pronounciation hints have been really helpful. I find the boys quoting the video often, making the proper letter sounds and identifying their letters correctly. It's been very rewarding to see a video so effective.

I believe that items that really reinforce your homeschool lessons are worth the money. This is one of those items. In the future, I will continue to endorse items that I think are really worthy of your hard-earned dollars and time. If it is not helpful in our homeschooling efforts, I'll clue you in on that too. Not all items that are labeled "homeschooling" or advertised as a must-have for homeschooling are necessary. You can do so much at home, without a structured curriculum or costly one, to teach your children. You simply have to be creative and search around. The second best part of our Letter Factory video? It was a STEAL at less than $10!!

Stay tuned for more recommendations that we're using or going to be using in our homeschool adventure.

In the meantime, head on over to I Blame My Mother for more wonderful Kid Friendly articles! Lots of great stuff!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday



I've never been more serious about a WFMW post. What Works for Us this summer is this:


FloatSuit flotation suits for kids. Both our boys have them and they are fantastic! Little Bit is quite the little fishie....and he LOVES his Floatsuit. Big Boy is NOT quite a fish yet and he LOVES his Floatsuit! Both of them, for slightly different reasons. Little Bit is more than courageous and the floaty provides him with more buoyancy. He's learning to hold his breath and jump into the water. Big Boy doesn't appreciate the water nearly as much and the floaty gives him a little more security. In both situations, I'M very happy that they have them on!!

It's one, if not the, best things that Works For Me!!

Now head on over to We are THAT Family for more great tips on what Works!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!!


I really love food.

Really.

My favorite food?

Bread!


Just about any kind of bread. I love foccacia, whole wheat, sourdough, asiago cheese, straight-from-the-oven white.....oh! Really folks.
I LOVE IT ALL!!

Here is one of my favorite recipes of all time. It's SO very easy and many times, I'll hack off little palm-size chunks and make rolls instead of a loaf. It is absolutely easy-peasy and delicious! Hope you enjoy it!!

HOME MADE BREAD or ROLLS
3 3/4 cups bread flour, divided
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 (.25 ounce) package rapid rise yeast
1/2 cup warm water (120 to 130 degrees F/50 degrees C)
1/2 cup warm milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups flour, sugar, shortening, salt and yeast. Add water, milk and egg. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. I use my KitchenAid mixer with the bread hook for this step. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl and turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Dough is ready if indention remains when touched.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half; cut each half into 24 pieces. Form the pieces into rounds. Place the rolls close together in two lightly greased 9 inch round cake pans. Brush with melted butter. Cover and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until doubled. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake for 12--18 minutes.

Head on over to Blessed with Grace for more wonderful recipes and yumminess...yes that is a word and I love it! Yumminess!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer porches

We have a lanai....an enclosed back patio area in the South. Not sure why they call it a lanai? Anyone else know this? I'm not a true Southerner ya know....that seems like something a true Southerner would know. I'm a transplant. In the Midwest, we'd call it a porch.

Maybe my porch could look like this:

This beauty is from this beautiful little blog, Between Naps on the Porch. Umm...except for I doubt that I would get much done except for napping. Oh it is a delish porch, right?

Or how about this one?


Or this?


All these porches have been decorated rather frugally....some wicker, which you can usually find at flea markets and garage sales. Lots of green plants. Love those ferns! And I want SO desperately to paint the floor!! I'll have to do it when the hubs is away...

This is our porch. Sadly neglected. Usually used as an extra playroom. In the heat of the summer, not used much at all as it faces the western setting sun. I have a pretty open design and a 10x40 space to work with. But during fall and winter, it is wonderful area to sit and visit, play or entertain.



Ideas? Thoughts? Help me out here fellow bloggers? Any porches or outside rooms you absolutely LUV?! Show me YOUR porch! Lead me in a direction! I am open to many ideas but the budget is tight, of course.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Boys are so darn cute sometimes....

Little Boy is growing so. doggone. fast. I can hardly keep up. So I gotta keep track of the latest "Little Boy Speak" before it changes. Because it does daily.

One of his very favorite things to do these days is to sneak up on you and try to surprise you. Except he announces himself way too early. It's adorable....



Mama! I sneaked on you!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday


So I'm drawing a blank as to what Works For Me. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.


So I dug WAY.......BACK.......into the recesses of my mind.....you know the 41 year old, nearly demented one.....and figured maybe someone had not heard of this one yet.


I use vinegar for TONS of stuff. I love it. Loved it as a kid---though back then, I actually drank the stuff. I know....YIKES! But love that sour taste!!


So here are a few of my very favorite uses for vinegar.


--Forgot that you left wet laundry in the machine and it now smells moldy? Pour a few cups of white distilled vinegar in the machine and wash the clothes in hot water. Then run a normal cycle with detergent.

--Keep the steam iron clean and in good working order by getting rid of mineral deposits in steam vents and spray nozzles. Fill the water chamber with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and distilled water. Set it in an upright position and let it steam for about 5 minutes. When the iron is cool, rinse the tank with water, refill and shake water through the vents onto an old cloth. Test before using.

--Get cleaner laundry! Add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar to the last rinse. The acid in white distilled vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, yet strong enough to dissolve the alkalies in soaps and detergents. Besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew.

--Make pasta less sticky and reduce some of its starch. Add just a dash of white distilled vinegar to the water as it cooks.

--Make onion odors disappear from your hands by rubbing with white distilled vinegar.

--To keep eggs from cracking when boiling add a tablespoon or two of white distilled vinegar to water.

--Kill weeds and grass growing in unwanted places by pouring full-strength white distilled vinegar on them. This works especially well in crevices and cracks of walkways and driveways.

--Preserve cut flowers and liven droopy ones by adding 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar to a quart of water in a vase.

--Remove berry stains on your hands by rubbing them with white distilled vinegar.

--Make your own scouring cleanser by combining 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon liquid detergent. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to give it a thick but creamy texture.

--Clean and deodorize a drain by pouring in 1 cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let this sit for 5 minutes or so then run hot water down the drain.

--Clean the microwave by mixing 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Baked-on food will be loosened, and odors will disappear. Wipe clean.

--Renew sponges and dishrags by placing them in just enough water to cover them. Then add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Let them soak overnight.

--Kill germs all around the bathroom with a spray of full-strength white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

--To make the toilet bowl sparkle, pour in a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush.


And there really are tons more. In fact, while I was home and rifling through my mother's books, I found a terrific old book on the thousands of ways you can use vinegar. That kept me entertained for nearly a whole day! (I'm not always this exciting....really, folks.)


Hop on over to We Are That Family for more wonderful tips. Though probably not any other ones on vinegar. All that excitement is right here in this very exciting blog.


Works for Me Wednesday


So I'm drawing a blank as to what Works For Me. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.


So I dug WAY.......BACK.......into the recesses of my mind.....you know the 41 year old, nearly demented one.....and figured maybe someone had not heard of this one yet.


I use vinegar for TONS of stuff. I love it. Loved it as a kid---though back then, I actually drank the stuff. I know....YIKES! But love that sour taste!!


So here are a few of my very favorite uses for vinegar.


--Forgot that you left wet laundry in the machine and it now smells moldy? Pour a few cups of white distilled vinegar in the machine and wash the clothes in hot water. Then run a normal cycle with detergent.

--Keep the steam iron clean and in good working order by getting rid of mineral deposits in steam vents and spray nozzles. Fill the water chamber with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and distilled water. Set it in an upright position and let it steam for about 5 minutes. When the iron is cool, rinse the tank with water, refill and shake water through the vents onto an old cloth. Test before using.

--Get cleaner laundry! Add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar to the last rinse. The acid in white distilled vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, yet strong enough to dissolve the alkalies in soaps and detergents. Besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew.

--Make pasta less sticky and reduce some of its starch. Add just a dash of white distilled vinegar to the water as it cooks.

--Make onion odors disappear from your hands by rubbing with white distilled vinegar.

--To keep eggs from cracking when boiling add a tablespoon or two of white distilled vinegar to water.

--Kill weeds and grass growing in unwanted places by pouring full-strength white distilled vinegar on them. This works especially well in crevices and cracks of walkways and driveways.

--Preserve cut flowers and liven droopy ones by adding 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar to a quart of water in a vase.

--Remove berry stains on your hands by rubbing them with white distilled vinegar.

--Make your own scouring cleanser by combining 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon liquid detergent. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to give it a thick but creamy texture.

--Clean and deodorize a drain by pouring in 1 cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let this sit for 5 minutes or so then run hot water down the drain.

--Clean the microwave by mixing 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Baked-on food will be loosened, and odors will disappear. Wipe clean.

--Renew sponges and dishrags by placing them in just enough water to cover them. Then add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Let them soak overnight.

--Kill germs all around the bathroom with a spray of full-strength white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

--To make the toilet bowl sparkle, pour in a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush.


And there really are tons more. In fact, while I was home and rifling through my mother's books, I found a terrific old book on the thousands of ways you can use vinegar. That kept me entertained for nearly a whole day! (I'm not always this exciting....really, folks.)


Hop on over to We Are That Family for more wonderful tips. Though probably not any other ones on vinegar. All that excitement is right here in this very exciting blog.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!!

Hi Friends!!

Back from vacation finally and slowly trying to timewarp back to 2009! (Remember....parents didn't have internet or cable TV.....such isolation and HEAVENLY!)

Sorry I've left you for so long....I'll try to plan my absences better in the future so you can at least get an update or two. I'll post pics of the trip later when SH gets around to downloading them.

For now, I'll share one of my favorite childhood recipes, which I made for a picnic back home. The boys loved it just as much as I do!! Enjoy!




Watergate Salad (from the Midwest--land of Jello Salads!!)
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
In a large bowl, mix together pudding mix, pineapple with juice, marshmallows, and nuts. Fold in whipped topping. Chill.

Oh YUMM!!

It is refreshing and really wonderful! Reminds me of all our terrific get togethers at home.

Head on over to Blessed With Grace for more great summer recipes and memories! Have a great day my friends!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009