Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thumbs Up Thursday - A Readable Feast

You know that I'm all about being the best mom you can be and spending quality time with your family. Today's Thumbs Up Thursday nod goes to Anne-Marie over at A Readable Feast.

She's got an entire category on her blog dedicated to bonding with your kids. Take a look at it here. That first post you'll see is a contest to win a journal that could be a great keepsake to pass on whether you're a mom or a grandma. Sign up...I did!

Be sure to peruse her entire site as she's got great craft ideas, recipes and books that you can share and do with your family!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tips for Decorating the Christmas Tree with Your Family

There is something special about walking into a room and seeing the Christmas tree. It instantly makes you feel happy. Kids especially love to see the tree all lit up and sparkly. The ornaments, lights and sparkle hold them in awe for hours. Here are some tips for making tree decorating a fun family tradition:

Have Fun - First and foremost make this occasion fun. If decorating the tree isn’t fun for you, it won’t be fun for your family. So relax and enjoy it, even if little Emma isn’t putting the crystal ornament exactly where it should go. If there are some ornaments that are precious, keep them in a separate box up high so that the adults can add them to the tree and make sure you have lots of fun wooden or non fragile decorations for the kids to put up.

Theme - Before you get started decorating, choose a theme. What kind of tree would you like? Do you want a traditional green and red tree? Or does your family want something funky and different? Get together, brainstorm and decide how you want your tree to look.

Lights - Does your family like white lights, or do they prefer colorful bulbs? Choose lights that your whole family will like to see on the Christmas tree. There are tons of options out there, from single color strands to lights that play Christmas music as they blink.

Handmade Ornaments - A really fun tradition for your family is to have everyone make ornaments. Set aside a special day just for this, a day when every family member will be able to pitch in with their creativity. Use cookie cutters, colorful paint and beads to create an assortment of unique tree ornaments. You can also buy ribbon and wire in the Christmas department and make tons of bows to decorate your tree.

Store-Bought Ornaments - Add some sparkle and shine to your tree with things like tinsel, icicles and garland. Or, if your family isn’t crafty and does not want to make ornaments, go together as a family and pick out ornaments for the tree.

Make it Special - Make the tree decorating day a special time. Play Christmas music, put out fresh baked cookies and eggnog for the grownups (non-alcoholic version for the kids of course) and hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows. Gather a group of close family and friends around and make it a real festive affair.

Once you decorate your tree go on a Christmas walk around the neighborhood and take in all the sights and lights around you. Then bring everyone back to your place for a hot Christmas stew or casserole… you’ll be creating a family tradition for years to come.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tips for Making Holiday Shopping Easier

Do you get tired of the hassle of holiday shopping? Many shoppers line up for hours on end to get a deal on the hottest toy of the season (I used to do this every Black Friday, but not this past one!), or newest fashion craze, then there are those who dread shopping and just put it off until the last minute, or give gift certificates to get out of shopping altogether.

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a hassle. It can be quickly executed without so much stress and anxiety, if you plan ahead.

Try these tips to make your holiday shopping a breeze this year:

1. Set a budget in place. Do you know how much money you can afford to spend on gifts? If not, sit down right now and make that budget. This will be a huge time-saver in the end.

2. Make your list; check it twice. Create a list of who you need to buy gifts for this year. Start with family first, then add friends, co-workers, etc. How does this list look, compared with your budget? Too long? Pare it down. Despite what you think, you don’t have to buy as many gifts as you think you do. Trim your list until you have it down to a reasonable number.

3. What do they like? Now that you know who you will be buying gifts for, start thinking about what these people like. You may already have a good idea of what kinds of things they like. If not, do some snooping and find out. Make a shopping list of these things for each person.

4. Shop early. If possible try to avoid the last minute rush and shop early. Another good option is to go late at night. Many department stores operate late hours during the holidays. It’s a good time to leave the kids with your spouse and do the shopping on your own without worrying about the crowds or the kids needing to be fed or changed.

5. Shop online. Now that you know exactly what you need to buy, start by shopping online. You can find lots of good deals on auction and discount sites. Many online shops such as give you the option of mailing out your gifts (gift wrap included) to relatives and friends, this could save you a lot of time wrapping presents and fighting the crowds at the post office. Shopping online could save you a lot more money than you’d think, and it will definitely save you the hassle of fighting those Christmas crowds!

Still don't know what to get? The 2006 Mom's Niche Holiday Gift Giving Guide will give you ideas for everyone on your list...from infants to toddlers to tough-to-buy-for teenagers to good old grandma and grandpa. What could be easier? Great ideas and easy shopping online with this interactive guide!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tis the Season to be Jolly...

...Fa La La La La, La La La La!!!

It's that time of year again! Gift giving season is upon us. Are you having trouble finding just the right gift for tween-aged daughter? Or maybe something special and different for your brand new nephew?

Mom's Niche has just released the 2006 Holiday Gift Giving Guide. This guide is unique in that it is interactive. There are hot products listed for every age category on your list. Each picture and product that is suggested is "clickable." You can actually click directly on the picture or product title and be linked directly to the page where you can purchase that gift. This saves TIME and MONEY for you!

Check it out won't be disappointed!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Holiday Giving

Teach your Kids the Meaning of Giving this Holiday Season

Christmas makes kids wide-eyed, with thoughts of a ton of presents under the Christmas tree. Some kids even like to count their presents under the tree. This holiday season, teach your kids the true meaning of Christmas — giving to others.

Give to Others - One simple way to teach your children the value of giving is to have them donate to a local shelter. Have your children go through their toys and clothes. Make sure they give away one really nice thing that they don’t really need or play with. Place an emphasis on the fact that there are many children who have no home or parents.

Another way your children can learn about the gift of giving is to donate canned goods to a local food drive service. These services provide food to families in need. The holidays are often a difficult time for those in need. Take your children to the grocery store and have them choose a nice variety of canned foods to donate.

One more way your children can learn a lesson in giving is to buy gifts for others. Choose a needy family in your church or community. If you don’t know of anyone in need, ask around. Officials at your city’s municipal building, or local pastors will be able to make recommendations to you.

Take your children shopping and help them pick out age-appropriate toys and gifts. Let them wrap the gifts, too. Finally, drive your family to your “adopted” family’s home and let your kids hand out their gifts. You can also give a gift to a local gift drive for children in need, most of these will advertise in stores and the local community during the holidays.

It's SO important for the young ones to get the true meaning of Christmas - take some time out of your busy schedule and teach them!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Holidays and Eating...the Two Go Hand in Hand

Okay, this is really bad timing for this post...BUT, I thought you might still benefit from it with all of the parties and such coming up in the next month :)

5 Ways to Stick to Your Diet this Holiday Season

It’s dreaded by every woman on a diet—the holidays! Holidays are filled with tons of food, the nemesis of every dieter on the planet. If you’re worried about how your diet will suffer during the holidays, try these tips for coping:

- Get Active. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t be active. Organize a group and go on a winter hike or ice skating. Even caroling can help take the focus off food while giving you some mild exercise too. Or go for a long walk to look at the Christmas lights. Think of small ways to stay active rather than vegging out indoors.

- Snack Light. Don’t be afraid to have a few snacks at a party. But beware of snacking during the entire 3-5 hours! Allow yourself a small plate of snacks and stop there.

- Eat before you leave. If you’re really worried about eating too much at a party, have a light, healthy meal before you leave. Eat something nutritious and filling, but leave enough room for a light dessert.

- Watch the Alcohol – With all those parties those few drinks can really add up. Take it easy on the alcohol as it has tons of calories. A good trick is to have a wine spritzer, mix a little wine with some club soda and sip slowly throughout the night; this could cut down your alcohol intake nearly by half.

- Forget about the Diet. Well don’t dump your diet altogether or you may regret in the New Year, just don’t focus on it. If you constantly worry about your diet or how many pounds you might gain during the holidays, you’ll be likely to eat more. Instead, concentrate on the wonderful company you are sharing and stop worrying so much about overeating.

Have a Great Holiday Season!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!

It's Thanksgiving morning. Yes, I'm sitting at my computer doing a little bit of WORK before everybody wakes up. We've got a great day planned! We will begin by watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade (tradition) and then will begin the preparations for the feast (actually, we mixed up and partially prepared everything we could last night so we could enjoy ourselves today). The older kids will be back from their dad's around 1pm. Our big dinner is planned for about 4pm. We'll have our family plus the family down the street for the wonderful dinner. It's going to be a GOOD DAY! Traditions are funny, they remain the same, yet year to year you take them and maybe "tweak" them a little bit to make them your own.

I have been thinking about what I'm thankful for this year - I've got a list :) Here they are in no particular order:

  • my husband who supports me in anything and everything I do
  • my children who sometimes drive me nuts...I wouldn't be complete without them
  • my mother-in-law - she is a great friend
  • my mom and dad - I'm so thankful that they are still healthy enough to do the things that they want to do and BRAVE enough to host our crazy family for the Christmas holiday
  • my brother and his wife
  • my other brother and his girlfriend
  • my nieces and nephew
  • the servicemen fighting for our freedom
  • my health
  • my neighbors who are also great friends!
  • my friends who aren't my neighbors, but are great friends!

Take a few minutes to reflect today and express you thanks and gratitude to the people you love and God.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Never Say Never

I'm sure you grew up with sayings in your household that run through your mind every once in a while. I'm also sure that you grew up with some that have become your MANTRAS - a sort of way to guide your daily living. I grew up with a few of those, and yes, some stuck. Here they are:

"Always tell the truth, but don't always be telling it." - We lived on the border of the 'burbs and rural area. There was a dairy farm down the street (and you knew it in the summertime if the wind blew just right), but we lived in a large neighborhood and played outside all day long with our parents and the neighbors watching us - you know the whole "it takes a village..." thing. Our church was on the corner of our same block and the preacher and his wife only lived a couple of houses down. This little nugget actually came from her (thanks Marge!) and it's never left me. It's actually a great way to live when you think about it - don't lie, but you also don't need to advertise all of your business :)

"Never say never." - Never is a mighty long time and I am constantly reminding my kids of this (much to their dismay). We would always say things like, "I'm NEVER going to finish this," and "Even though you are my brother, I'll NEVER like you!" Mom would then remind us that never is a long time and we should think about the things we are going to say before we commit to them. Needless to say, the work DID get finished and my brothers and I are closer than ever.

I was actually reminded of this this morning when I checked my email. I belong to a great online networking group called Mom Masterminds. I check out the forum daily, participate in the conversations and also take advantage of the great resources available. Every now and then they send out emails - little reminders and snippets of information. Today's came through entitled "The Power of Can't." Here is a portion of the email:

"I can accept failure - everybody fails at something - but I cannot accept not trying." Michael Jordan

We've heard it on message boards more than once, "I know I should be doing this or that, but I just can't!"
We would like to see you banish the word "can't" from your vocabulary where it comes to your business. What are you afraid of? Failure? The only thing a failure can do in the long run is teach you something valuable. So don't let fear of failure stop you from trying anything.

Don't be afraid to fail. Lord knows I have gained some powerful lessons over the last several years about business and in life. You have to try, though, or your life will be full of "what if's?"

Last but not least - I say this one almost EVERY day. "Don't ask any questions you don't want the answer to." - I know you're not supposed to end a sentence in a preposition, but this is a powerful statement. I'm not even sure where I picked this one up along the way, but it sure did stick! Make sure you are prepared for the answer before you ask the question. Simple and to the point.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Great Mom Giveaway

Moms, this is a ONE WEEK ONLY EVENT!
November 19 - 25, 2006

Lots of FREE goodies donated from awesome women!

Go over there and check it out!

Book Review - Who Likes the Snow?

With the days growing shorter and the temperatures getting colder, our thoughts normally turn to SNOW! Here's a book review from my friend Lisa Barker:

Who Likes The Snow? (Ages 4-8)
* * Who Likes The Snow?
Book Review Key
*** Outstanding Titles
** Highly Recommended Titles
* Recommended Titles
Author: Etta Kaner
Illustrator: Marie Lafrance
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Kids Can Press (September 1, 2006)
ISBN: 1553378423
Where Can I Buy?
Both a story and a lesson in natural science, Who Likes the Snow is a great addition to the home library and a perfect companion book when your child is investigating the weather at home or studying it in school.
What I really liked about this book is that it answers the dozens of questions kids naturally have about the snow supplying simple facts to support their wonder. Books like these encourage kids to ask questions, get answers and seek more.
Who Likes The Snow is part of a series called Exploring the Elements by Kids Can Press. If you like this one, you'll want to check out the other books in the series that cover wind, sun and rain.
©2004-2006, Lisa Barker with
Do you have a book review? Send me one at and I'll post it here or on the website.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fun Autumn Crafts for You and the Kids

Raking and bagging 25 bags of leaves yesterday on a gorgeous autumn day got me in the mood for some fun fall crafts using leaves. Check it out...

Leaf Tracings
Fold 10 sheets of copy paper in half and crease in the center. Bind the booklet by punching two holes in the spine, threading yarn through the holes, and tying the ends. Take your kids to the park. Challenge them to find and trace as many unique leaves as possible.

Book of Leaves
Make a booklet, as described above. This time, have your child search for odd-looking leaves to collect and place in their book. Then give them an encyclopedia and let them research their leaves. Have them write down the name of each leaf and three interesting facts about the leaf.

Leaf Characters
Draw and copy different types of leaves onto thick construction paper. Let your kids cut out the leaves and apply glitter to add sparkle. Next, have them create leaf characters by gluing leaves together to create a face, body, and limbs. After the glue dries, they can draw faces on the leaves with markers.

Leaf Collage
Gather as many types of leaves as you can find. Glue the leaves in any kind of arrangement onto a piece of construction paper or cardboard. Alternatively, spread white school glue across an entire sheet of paper or piece of cardboard. Crumble leaves at random over the glue. When the glue dries, you will have an awesome leaf collage.

Hope you have fun with these ;)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rest In Peace B.J.

I've posted a couple of times about BJ and AT (AtomicTumor). She passed on today to the great beyond. Our prayers continue for AT and his two young boys. Please take a minute to pray for them too.

Thumbs Up Thursday (On Friday) - Eat4Today

My apologies - Thursday got away from me...but there's always time for Thumbs Up Thursday...even on Friday :)

My Thumbs Up goes to Katiebird over at the Eat4Today blog. This is a blog like no other I've seen. Here's what Katiebird has to say about it:

“I've read that we can be more successful keeping weight off if we do it with a support group. It can be something formal, like Weight Watchers. But it doesn't have to be. It can be friends who regularly talk about nutrition issues and it can be an online group.

Eat4Today is an online support group specifically for that purpose. So many of us have lost substantial amounts of weight only to gain it back as soon as the focus is gone. I'm hoping that together, we can keep our focus and lose the weight forever.”

What a GREAT CONCEPT - you don't even have to leave the confines of your computer to get support from other people who are also struggling with weight loss issues!

Want to learn more? Go here to check it out and browse through the topics and articles.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thanksgiving Recipe...a.k.a. the turkey

Here ya go - 1 week before Thanksgiving and I'm giving up the wonderful (albeit a little extra work) recipe for THE TURKEY (and trimmings).

Traditional Roast Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing & Homemade Gravy
For the Stuffing:
½ cup whole chestnuts or dried if you can’t find whole
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 cups stale bread, cubed
1 ¼ cups chicken broth
¼ cup butter, melted
Olive oil
Salt (sea salt is preferable)
1 10 lb. turkey

For the Gravy:
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
Corn flour
Chicken stock
Butter (if necessary)

The Night Before:
If possible, the previous night, or at least one hour before cooking, prepare your turkey. Remove any giblets and rinse well (inside and out) with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Generously rub turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and place back in refrigerator until time to cook.

The Next Morning:
Preparing the Stuffing:
To roast the chestnuts, cut an X on the flat side of each chestnut and bake 15 to 20 minutes at 375F oven. Let cool for 10 minutes and then peel and chop.

Do not turn oven off as it will need to be preheated for cooking the turkey.

In a large pot over low heat, heat the olive oil then add onions and celery. Saute for about 3 minutes or until soft. Stir in crushed garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme and apple and sauté for a further 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in egg, then add chestnuts and bread. Toss mixture well. Stir in warm broth and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Preparing the Turkey:
Remove turkey from fridge and loosely stuff the neck cavity with chestnut stuffing, fold the skin under and secure in place with a toothpick. Then loosely stuff the main cavity, making sure to leave room for expansion and the air to flow through.

Then prepare your roasting pan. Use a large roasting pan and at the bottom add two roughly chopped carrots, onion and celery. Place the rack over the vegetables. Now place your turkey, breast side up, on the rack. Drizzle with melted butter.

Bake, uncovered, at 375F for the first 30 minutes, then baste and reduce oven temperature to 325F. Continue basting turkey every 25 to 30 minutes. The cooking time should be approximately 20 minutes per pound of turkey, which would be about 3.5 hours for a 10b turkey. To check if the turkey is cooked pierce the thigh bone, juices should run clear without any pink. Also use a meat thermometer on the thickest part of the thigh. The temperature should show 180F. Turkey should be golden and crispy on the outside too.

Remove the turkey from roasting tray and reserve juices for gravy.

Tip: For extra added safety, I like to remove the stuffing from turkey once turkey is cooked and bake on a separate dish for approximately 10 extra minutes.

For the Gravy:
Mash the vegetables in the roasting tray, then push all ingredients through a sieve. Discard any remaining vegetables or fat. Place the sieved liquid in a saucepan and simmer over low heat. If you don’t have enough liquid then add 1 cup or more (depending on how much gravy you need) of chicken stock; You can also add a couple of tablespoons of butter.

In a small bowl add two tablespoons of corn flour and mix with cold water (about ½ cup) until all lumps dissolve. Slowly add a little of this mixture (tablespoon by tablespoon) to the saucepan, stirring well after each addition and allowing time for gravy to thicken. Keep adding corn flour/water mixture until gravy thickens.

Tip: You can also add a couple of tablespoons of red wine to the gravy or Madeira for a richer taste. The alcohol will dissolve during the cooking process and children will be able to have the gravy.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Problem with Your Teenagers? Get Some Help Here

Do you have teenagers in the house? Would you sometimes like to kick them OUT of the house? There is help...and Lord knows, teenagers (and the parents of teenagers) could probably use it the most. With all of the crazy stuff going on in today's world, it's comforting to know that people still care.

A friend of mine, Aurelia Williams, is one such person. She has started a new podcast called Parenting My Teen. Aurelia sits down with and talks to parents of teenagers and attacks some of today's toughest issues involved with raising them.

Go over to and listen to her most recent podcast with Marie Ynami. She is the mother of 2 teenagers - a 15 year old girl and a 14 year old boy. Like many parents, she often questions if she is doing a good job parenting her children. Together, Aurelia and Marie delve into the challenges she faces while parenting her teens. Topics they cover include cursing, punishments and communication. You don't want to miss this very touching, informative and eye-opening segment!

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Thanksgiving - Early Preparation Makes it More Fun

Thanksgiving is a week from Thursday. It's always fun to host a family get-together. Use these tips to help you plan NOW so you can relax and enjoy your family on that special day!

1. Plan your meal – Don’t wait until the week before Thanksgiving to decide what your Thanksgiving dinner will include. Start planning today.

What kind of meats will you prepare? Will everyone eat the same meat, or should you cook a couple of different kinds of meat? What sides and desserts will you fix? Planning a family dinner can be taxing if you’re not careful. Be sure to plan for everyone so that nobody will go without something they love to eat.

2. Share the cooking – Don’t try to cook the entire dinner by yourself. Ask different family members to bring something with them. Good cooks love to share their food and recipes. They’ll love cooking and bringing their favorite dishes for the family meal. You can find some great recipes here and here!

3. Decide on a time – Don’t send an open invitation with no starting time, unless you are prepared to have guests arrive at all hours of the day. When planning your Thanksgiving meal, be sure to include what time guests should begin arriving. Family will most likely want to come early and stay late to catch up on all the latest, so make sure you stress the right time on the invitations.

4. Make it special – Every family get-together is special in its own way. Make this Thanksgiving extra special by doing something different. Perhaps you might take turns going around the dinner table and sharing what each family member is thankful for. Or maybe you could invite your pastor and his family for dinner and have him pray a special prayer for your family. Doing something different this Thanksgiving dinner is a sure way to create warm, lasting memories that your entire family will never forget.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Take a look at my first mention of this website. His situation hasn't changed a whole lot. I read this blog every day...sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. This guy is holding a vigil online for his ailing wife who is 29 years old. He has 2 young children. I feel for him and his family. Send a few prayers and good thoughts his way today!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Veteran's Day

This morning I went to my son's Veteran's Day program. He's 9 and in the 4th grade. I figured this is the fourth time that I've seen this program. I wasn't all that excited about going...BUT, once I got there, it was a different story.

There's always music. There are always kids getting up and reading their own essays that they worked very hard on. There are always kids reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and other various pieces of Patriotic literature. AND...there are ALWAYS Veterans there. These Veterans are normally family members asked by their 4th grader to come with them as their guests and be honored for the day. Sometimes, they are neighbors (or grandparents of neighbors in our case) that the kids invite.

So, on to my favorite part of the program...the mic gets passed around and each Veteran stands up, gives his name, branch of service, years of service, who he/she was invited by and any stories they might want to share. Every time I listen to this portion of the program, I get a lump in my throat and a swelling in my heart. I am touched by the stories of these Veterans who have given their time and their hearts and souls to serve with the Armed Forces in representation of our great country. Many of these men have seen others die right in front of them. Many have served in multiple conflicts. ALL of them were so proud and honored to be there today in front of the 4th grade class, the staff and all of the family members present.


Each and every one of them deserves a great big hug and a "thank you" from all of us. THEY have helped to make and keep this country FREE.

If you see somebody out and about dressed in uniform, take the time to shake their hand and give them a "thank you" and a "job well done". They need to know that we appreciate all of their efforts to keep us free!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thumbs Up Thursday - Miscellaneous Mum

I'm going to start a THEME on my blog. Thumbs Up Thursdays. Every Thursday, I'm going to highlight a fellow blogger's blog. Just my way of saying "way to go" and hopefully bringing them a little well-deserved recognition.

Today's "Thumbs Up" recipient is Karen at Miscellaneous Mum. She is hilarious! Her perspective on life is comical. Be sure to read about the New Mummy.

Why is it that our husbands insist on using our young children in an attempt to be funny? My husband did the same thing right before my birthday. Our 2-1/2 yr old daughter had been excited all week singing "Happy Birthday" and asking when we could have the cake. The day before my birthday, he sent her in to the kitchen and she looked so sweet with a cute little smile on her face...the words that came out of her mouth "Mommy, are you going to be 40?"...hahaha...I turned 39. I looked past her into the family room and all I saw was a huge grin.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Britney Spears...Oops I Did It Again

So I'm sitting down to dinner this evening with my husband, daughter and mother-in-law. Wednesday nights are usually spent at her house since the older kids are with their dad. Anyway, we are sitting down at 7:30 - normal dinner time for us. The TV is turned on to Inside Edition. The lead story is "Britney Spears files for divorce from Kevin Federline." I'm floored. Between working all day, getting the kids taken care of and getting over to my mother-in-law's, I hadn't listened to the radio or news (like this is really NEWS) all day and I was completely floored!

Now, please understand...I'm not a Britney Spears fan. I was actually glad to see her get pregnant (twice) and shy away from "the business" for a little while. I have an 11 year old daughter...need I say more?

Why was I floored? I'm not even sure why I care. I guess it's fun to see how the rich and famous live every once in a while. Even though we think they are, and they sometimes appear to be, different from US...every day they are proving to be more human than even us normal folks! I hear she has an ironclad pre-nup - smart move. I'm not passing judgment, but have one request...Britney, please, please be a good mom and take care of those little babies!

Back to reality. It's almost 11pm - now to pay attention to the REAL NEWS...who won the Senatorial race in Virginia? Oh, looks like we have to tune in for THAT continuing saga too...

2 More Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Collection

Cornbread Stuffing

½ stick of butter
1 cup diced celery
2 cups diced onions
2 cups water
1 16 oz can of corn, drained
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 chicken flavored bouillons
6 cups crumbled cornbread
½ cup chopped pecans
Dash of black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 2 ½ quart baking dish and set aside.
Melt the butter in large skillet over low heat. Add onion and celery and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until tender. Add water, corn, bouillon, paprika, oregano and pepper. Mix well and then add the cornbread and chopped pecans. Stir through the chopped parsley and spoon mixture into baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Candied Yams

4 fresh yams
¼ cup butter
½ cup orange juice
Zest of one small orange (grated orange peel)
Orange slices (optional)
¼ cup brown sugar
½ bag miniature marshmallows

Boil the yams with their peel on until tender. Let cool and remove peel. Cut each yam into about four to five pieces and arrange in large baking dish. Pour orange juice over yams and the orange zest. Sprinkle with brown sugar and dot with butter. Top with marshmallows and place orange slices on top if desired.Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes at 350F until marshmallows melt.

Let me know...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Send Out Your Prayers

The blogging community can be so large and yet so small at the same time. I was doing my daily reading of my favorite blogs and came across a link that took me to the Atomic Tumor. This is another blog. The reason why I linked to this blog was the message that accompanied the link.

This is a blog started by a 28-yr-old man and 29-yr-old woman...married with two young children. They began this blog as many do with the intent of sharing their thoughts, ideas, pictures of children and family, and rambling on about nothing to whomever will read.

This blog continues to be the thoughts and ideas of the 28-yr-old man with a change. His wife is now lying in a hospital bed with what began as flu symptoms and has turned into something life threatening. This blog has turned into a vigil. He remains at her side as tests continue to be run and shares many times daily how he's feeling and what's going on.

Please take a moment to stop over at the Atomic Tumor blog, read the story (begins around November 1st) and make sure you send some prayers their way...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Recipe - Crock Pot Meat Loaf

I'm trying this one tomorrow!!! My family LOVES meatloaf and I LOVE the convenience of it.

Crock Pot Meat Loaf

2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs or crushed crackers
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion (diced)
1/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into a meatloaf shape that will fit into your crock pot. Cut a strip of foil and place under the meatloaf in crock pot. Cut it long enough to cover the bottom and sides of meatloaf. Place meat loaf in crock pot and top with an additional 2 tablespoons ketchup. Cover and cook on low for approximately 8 hours.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

De-Clutter Your Home...Regain Your Life!

I did 7 loads of laundry this weekend - and that's a LIGHT weekend. I feel like the entire weekend is full of doing laundry, picking up toys, cleaning peanut butter off of the chair, picking up books, wiping cupcake icing off of the new pillow (that just happened about an hour ago), cleaning, picking up blocks, cleaning, cleaning ad nauseum.

My house is constantly cluttered and that contributes to my weekly problems listed above. I ran across some great tips to help you DE-CLUTTER your home and your life! Read on...

Three words to keep in mind when it comes to de-cluttering your home, storage, storage and storage. De-cluttering simply comes down to finding a place for everything, making sure everything is in its proper place and getting rid of what you no longer need. It won’t happen overnight, so now is the time to being making a plan of attack.

First, get each bedroom area organized. Take a day and sort through clothes and toys in the kids’ rooms, and either sell, give away or throw away what isn’t needed anymore. Get age appropriate storage units, label things and help teach the kids to put their own things away.

Next, get a laundry basket for each family member and start with the least cluttered room of the house, so you’ll see success quicker and stay motivated. Put everything in the baskets that doesn’t belong in that room. Then each person has a deadline to find a home for everything in the basket, or you will (even if it’s file thirteen). Keep a big trash bag nearby for stuff you know needs to be gotten rid of immediately (like junk mail). Do this for each room of the house.

Once everything is in the correct room, evaluate each room and decide what kind of storage is needed to keep things organized. If there is very little clutter left in the room once the personal belongings are gone, then you’ve got less work to do. If the room still looks chaotic, decide if the items really need to be in that room or relocated, stored or sold/given away. If you use the basket trick daily, going from room to room, it should be easy to stay on top of things.

Different rooms have different storage needs, what works in the family room won’t necessarily work in the kitchen. Take your time and research the options out there and find a system that works best for your family.

You can get MORE TIPS HERE!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Toy Review - Leap Frog Fridge Phonics

As you know, we like to bring you up to date product and book reviews from time to time. Here's a great review - especially if you're thinking of getting this toy for your little one this Christmas!

Submitted by: Dana Beitlich; Oro Grande, CA

Rating: 10

Where to buy: Amazon

Description: The Fridge Phonics magnetic letter set teaches letter names, letter sounds and learning songs. This set of 26 colorful, easy-grip magnetic letters and magnetic letter reader that attaches securely to your fridge. Each letter talks, sings and teaches letter names, letter sounds and learning songs. Put a letter into the reader to hear its name, its sound or a fun phonics song.

Review: I gave this to my 2 year old son for Christmas this past year, and I am beyond impressed with this product. It is always hooked to our fridge and he plays with it all the time. He knows all of the letters and the sounds they each make. It’s so amazing and so much fun for both of us. I recommend this to any family; it’s been wonderful for us.

Friday, November 03, 2006

It's Friday! Do Something For YOU!

The weekend is fast approaching. I'm sure you've had a BUSY week just like me! Women (especially MOMS) are notorious for taking care of everyone but themselves.

I wanted to share some quick pampering tips that will give you the little boost that you need!

Listen to your favorite music - When was the last time you bought yourself a new CD of your favorite artist? Turn on some motivating music for yourself. Listen to music to relax or pump up the volume and dance while you do the laundry.

Light some candles - Gather a few scented candles and light them for a soothing effect. Be sure to keep a few of the scents you like best on hand so you never run out.

Bubble bath - Fill your bath tub with hot water. Squirt in some nice-smelling bubble bath. Scents like lavender, mint and vanilla contribute a calming aroma.

Rose petal soak - Instead of using bubble bath or bath salts, drop some rose petals in your water just before you get ready to soak. The combination of the hot water and the aroma of the rose petals will relax your entire body!

Rose petal foot soak - Soak your feet for twenty minutes in warm water with rose petals. The smell from the rose petals have a calming effect and the foot soak is sure to be a treat for mom’s tired feet.

Manicure and pedicure - What mom doesn’t deserve a nice pampering manicure and pedicure! Plan a special day out alone for this special treat. If you can’t afford to pay for this, invite a girlfriend and take turns pampering each other.

Save face - Buy an inexpensive tube of facial mask and soothing cream. Give yourself a facial while relaxing in the tub or soaking your feet in a rose petal foot soak.

Mother-daughter pampering - All moms need special pampering, but don’t forget to include your daughters from time to time. If you have a younger daughter, use some of these pampering tips we’ve provided for a fun mother-daughter night. Take turns giving each other facials and manicures, rubbing lotion on your feet or combing your hair. If you have an older daughter, save and plan for a special mother-daughter pampering day at the spa.

If you want some other great ideas, get the FREE Hot Mama Makeover Guide.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Happy November!

Throughout this month I'll give you a smattering of holiday recipes for you to include in your upcoming gatherings. Some are classics and some are brand new.

Here's a great one for you:

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup brown sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or dried cranberries

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs and oil. Mix well. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and stir well. Fold in the cranberries. Transfer mixture to two lightly greased loaf pans. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for approximately 45 to 55 minutes or until golden and baked through. Cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely.


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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Still Basking in the Sugar Afterglow

How did you fare this Halloween?

Used to be that question meant, "how much candy didya get?"
Today, for me, it means "how bad do your feet hurt?", "do you have a hangover?" and "has the sugar buzz worn off yet?"

And the answers are...
1. not bad at all
2. not much
3. no

So overall, it was a great Halloween!

Here's a pic of my middle and my youngest:

He was a ghoulish ghoul (sans the mask in this pic) and she was Tigger. All she cared about were those Smarties in her hand!

And here's a pic of little Tigger and yours truly after the festivities were over...she had lost her costume already.

I realized that I left my beloved husband out of here ya go - a pic of the hubs and the neighbor...

mine's the one without the head :)

Last but not least...I think my son and my husband both forgot to clean up last life story.
Ya gotta love Halloween - hope yours was as much fun as ours! Share some stories with me!