Friday, July 31, 2009

Tootsie's Fertilizer Friday...

If you haven't seen Tootsie's garden, you really need to head over there and check it out. Her garden is what I aspire to have, but I'm truly a few years away. This week, however, I'm joining Tootsie in her Fertilizer Friday party. Tootsie encourages all of us to fertilize once a week for gorgeous plants and, if that is what she does, then I'm copying her. (I think she uses pixie dust, too, but she won't cop to it!)


This week, I'm showing you plants that survived the great aphid infestation that devastated my seedlings this spring. The only reason these survived was their fortunate placement in my kitchen window rather than with all the other little seedlings. (Notice that I put flowers upstairs and left the vegetables and other flowers downstairs...hmmmm...I wonder what that says about my priorities?) Anyway, anything you see today I started from seed. I'm so proud of myself for having anything turn out...I've never started flowers from seed before.

So, here are my surviving impatiens. They're in a hanging basket right by my front door.


One of my zinnias - isn't she gorgeous? (Our heat wave is wreaking havoc on her leaves, though...poor thing.)


My only surviving marigold (she lives with the zinnias and the verbena in a huge pot):


And my only surviving verbena:


I just love flowers...especially since I moved into a part of the country where the difference between annuals and perennials is acute, I've become more and more addicted to these annual bursts of color. They just brighten things up, don't you think?

Where in the world?

Well, I've passed through Williamsburg, VA and now I'm just outside of Jamestown, VA.

19.2 mi - "1.85 mi to Jamestown, VA", James City County
"Section: 12 Map Name: Yorktown, 150"
On my transcontinental journey, I'm combining cycling with running. Today was a cycling day, so I was able to cover 16.2 miles, bringing my total to 19.2 miles so far.

Jamestown, VA is the site of one of the earliest colonial settlements in the United States. 13 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth rock, 104 men and boys began a settlement on the banks of Virginia's James River. How cool is that? I think I can learn a lot of if I spend some time at the historic site. Want to learn more about where I am? Check out Historic Jamestowne, hosted by the National Park Service.

What about you? Have you decided to join me on this transcontinental journey?

Friday Photo Flashback

It is Friday Photo Flashback again...it is time to show your treasures from the pre-digital era. Head over to Alicia's at More Than Words to see what everyone else dug out this week.

As for me, this is what I dug out of the archives. This is a picture of me with Charming taken Christmas morning 1994. He was almost 4 years old and was still an only child. We still lived in our beloved apartment (we loved it so much, we lived there for a total of 8 years). It is so funny to look back at that little boy and realize he's my 6'5" Charming.

The other thing I notice is that I had red hair back then. I loved my red hair but it was so difficult to maintain. (I like that haircut, too...hmmmm...)

Finally, see the red ceramic angel in the back of room? Those were left all around Los Angeles as gestures of goodwill and I was lucky enough to find one. I had that angel for years and year (until a child broke it, I think).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

So, You Think It Is Hot Where You Are?

Nan at Momstheword, LoveAphid at 365 Things You Didn't Know, and I have all been whining about how hot it has been in our neck(s) of the woods these days. The weather has been odd this summer, that is a certainty. Nan's dealing with upper 90s and 100s and Seattle humidity, I'm dealing with upper 90s and atypical humidity--30%? We're the "desert side" of the state!, and LoveAphid is dealing with 80s and 90s with 80-90% humidity. Superman just forwarded me this photo which I suspect will put each of us firmly in our places. It was sent by a co-worker whose reserve unit was activated and sent over to Iraq. I don't know said co-workers name, but I do know the picture is less than one week old. Look at the thermometer behind his head: It says 140 degrees Farenheit!


So, girls, what do you think? I think I'm doing just fine these days. Seriously, I can't begin to understand how one copes with 140 degrees. That is just crazy.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

...so Lilsista will completely understand why I pulled over and bought this for $5!


In case you all aren't aware of what I'm talking about, look at this gorgeous planter that Lilsista made, complete with step-by-step instructions. It is so awesome that even Superman gave it an enthusiastic thumbs-up!

(This is her photo, too! I totally "borrowed" it to show it to you all.)

Guess I know what we're working on this weekend!

P.S. We still don't know what is wrong with our Lucky Baby. As I type this, we've already dropped her off for a kitty ultrasound and we're just waiting for the call to pick her up and take her back to the animal hospital. Sigh...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cool Toy to Encourage Exercise

LoveAphid and I have committed to work out every week. We agreed to aim for five times a week, but will not accept anything less than four times a week. The accountability is helping, but I think this little tool my pal Melissa at 365 Days of Exercise found will really help, too. Melissa found "Tools to Keep You Active", a website hosted by the US government. In particular, we're participating in a transcontinental journey, logging our miles daily as we work our way across the country. The great thing is you can log walking, running, or cycling miles and they aggregate to calculate your progress. Melissa has a big head start on us all, as she's logged 89 miles in two months (how cool is that?).

(I am here: York County, VA)

This kind of tool really inspires me because I like seeing measurable progress that doesn't involve weight or inches. Beginning today, I'm going to share my progress with you all. Not only will it help me to know I'm posting, but it will encourage LoveAphid and Melissa because we'll be in this together. (Maybe it will also encourage LoveAphid to post on her personal blog, too, because these days, she's only posted on our shared blog!) So, as of today, I've logged 3 miles and I am now 9.97 miles out of Williamsburg, VA. (Do any of you live there? Wave to me as I pass by, please!)

Thanks, Melissa! Once again, you've inspired me to keep moving...

LoveAphid: I'm 2 for 3 this week!

WIP Wednesday

I haven't done a Work In Progress Wednesday for a while and I thought I'd like to try to get back into the habit. So, what am I working on these days?

Well, I came home refreshed from our trip and rededicated to simplification of our lives. The same feelings that inspired all of this was calling out for more, but less drastic, action. Tuesday after the vet, I definitely needed to keep busy, so I pulled out a bunch of stuff from the shelves in the family room. I sorted, tossed, donated, and rearranged. I organized my fabrics a bit better. I got rid of magazines and weird odds and ends. (I also "found" the Christmas lights I wanted to use on the trailer awning...two days after the end of the trip.)

Today I'm tackling more stuff in our storage area. I refer to this area as the Black Hole. It is a great place to store furniture (heirloom cribs, playpens, high chairs, small furniture) and holiday decorations, but it is becoming a catch-all for stuff I think I want to hold on to, but I don't know where to put. That needs to stop because it is all too much. I'm getting rid of tons of gift bags I've been holding onto/adding to since TK moved away in 1999 (!) and Superman has agreed to get rid of an old fireplace insert we've been holding on to. I'm going to double check to be certain that any little pieces of furniture we're holding on to we actually want. I'm also sending some clothes to my sister (oops! I told) and even more clothes to charity.

I'm excited because I've fertilized our flowers so I can participate in Tootsie's Fertilizer Fridays this week and I'm looking forward to snapping just the perfect picture. You haven't seen Tootsie's flowers? Oh, you most head over and see her garden. I'm so pleased with how my started-from-seeds flowers are doing. Zinnias, marigolds, verbena and impatiens. Not much of anything survived, but I did get representatives of each of those.

I've been reading all kinds of crafty blogs as I look for Christmas ideas and I'm delighted to discover I'm not the only one already thinking of Christmas in July. I'm getting some ideas ready to share with you all as I refine my own lists. In the meantime, have you seen what Pretty Organized Palace is looking at? If not, you should head over to her place and see what she's been thinking of.

So, what are you all up to these days?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Lucky Baby and Difficult Decisions

One Lucky Baby was found in our backyard, frozen and starved in December 2005. We really didn't think she was going to pull through, she was so thin. I guess we found her in the nick of time because she did pull through. She's a tiny little thing even though she's about six years old. She's our only house cat, by her choice. She just prefers to stay inside or on the deck. She's just one of those cats that is always around, but not a big deal.


She never liked Tuck because he bugged her constantly. I thought she'd be the only one thrilled that he's left. It didn't turn out that way. I guess all the stress of the past few weeks has caught up with her because she's very sick. We came home from our trip Sunday night and she was super, scary thin. Since I got her to eat numerous times during the day, I thought we'd be okay and she'd be fine, but she wouldn't eat this morning and would barely drink, so off to the vet we went. Bad news: They think Lucky has stress induced liver failure (there is some complicated name for it, but that is the gist of it). So, she's hooked up to i.v. fluids and having a battery of tests run and tomorrow, after the results come in, we'll know our next step. It sounds stupid, but these tests and this 24 hour period are going to cost $1200 and I agonized over what to do. We don't have $1200 lying around. We went forward anyway. Why do them? Because how can I tell my children we didn't give her a fighting chance? If she has cancer or cat hepatitis or a host of any other things, we'll have to put her down, but if she doesn't, we'll try to save her.


What else could I do? What would you do?

P.S. I'm not having a good day.

Starting To Catch Up In Baby Steps

One of the things I must get done this week is to post all my owed posts on the blog I share with my sister, Loveaphid. I wrote four while we were camping last week, but then I chucked it all (figuratively) out the window and ignored the topic. While you're waiting for me over here, though, I thought I'd share a few photos of our trip. Since I took 220 (!), the hard part is figuring out what to share.

At the beginning of the trip, while Superman was back in town working, the kids cheerfully did their schoolwork.

For anyone who is interested, they do Teaching Textbooks for math and Wordly Wise for spelling. These two subjects go on year 'round.

We drew pictures that told of our day on our "tablecloth". This is the one from 7/11/09. Notice that we ran out of propane, we had lightning and thunder, the kids got to go in the water, Daddy drove away (the night before), and we played The Game of Life.

A roll of painter's paper and a box of crayons is a must-have for any of our trips. Everyone draws (except Mr. R., he's a stick in the mud). Some times we color a lot and some times we color a little, but we'd be sad without it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (or suburban housing development), Superman found this little guy living in our hose holder. Too cute, isn't he?


And this guy has disappeared, fear nabbed by wily coyotes.


We haven't seen him in two and a half weeks. We're sad because we'd really hoped he'd just gone wandering around. Everyone's keeping an eye out for him, but it doesn't look good.

As you can tell, he was on our minds when we were away. For the first few days, Valiant and Buttercup jumped every time the cell rang, hoping it was Superman or Charming to tell us Tuck had returned.

Anyway, this is a bit of what we've been up to the past two weeks. What have you guys been doing?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Making My Home Sing Monday - Back Home Again Edition


It is Monday and we're back! I am happy to be joining Nan at Momstheword's Making Your Home Sing party (I've missed two!) and, Boy, do I have my work out cut out for me.


After 14 days in our wonderful trailer, sitting back in a beach chair or floating in a ring on the river, cleaning very little, and just going a long day by day, my work is cut out for me. I've already done seven loads of laundry: three beds x not regular showers = a lot of bedding to get washed. Since the house wasn't vacant while I was gone (Charming was here the entire time and Superman was here six days), I have cleaning to do here, too. It is all good, though. My vacation was long enough that I'm happy to jump back into the thick of things here.

In addition to cleaning the house, I have the fun of going through the 220 (!) pictures I took during this vacation. 220 pictures...I really hope (and think) that I got some really terrific ones.

Lastly, I have 14 days of blogging to catch up on. A week's worth of posting at 365 Things You Didn't Know, plus reading everything everyone else has been up to.

One of the great things that happens when I take a trip is I come home so happy with my life. Truly, Superman and I have been so fortunate and it is good to be reminded of this. So, this week, our house is singing Proud of This House We Built.

Head over to Momstheword and see what everyone else is up to this week!

P.S. Loveaphid got a kitten...I'm so envious!

I'm Back!


But, while I catch up on things and get my Monday post finally done, please pray for Stellan. While I've been away, he's taken a frightening turn for the worse and, in case I'm not the last one to know, I thought I'd encourage you to put him in your prayers again.

Thanks...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gone on Vacation


As I mentioned last week, I was trying to get our camping reservation extended so that we could have two full weeks and I'm happy to report that I succeeded, so I'm making this vacation really count and I'm taking a blog break. It is time to clear my head and play with my kids and not be an observer of my own life. I'll be back Monday, July 27...have a great week without me.

Hugs,

Erin

Friday, July 17, 2009

Yellowstone...

Request, please. Does anybody know of (or know someone who knows of) a good campground at Yellowstone with hook-ups? We're trying to plan a trip for next summer and I've been reading that there are terrific campgrounds and horrible campgrounds and, as you might have guessed, I'm shooting for a terrific campground. Anybody know anything? Anyone? Bueller?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

Today is Friday Photo Flashback and I'm only back in town for a few hours, but I didn't want to miss out. This week's photo is actually a scan of a note that Buttercup wrote for me in kindergarten. She was roughly five and a half. As you can see, she wrote phonetically (I blurred the boys' names to protect their anonymity.)


"Dear Mom and Dad, I did not have a good day because Valiant and Charming, they did not play with me."

Just reading it again cracked me up.

To see more of the thing people dug up, head over to Alicia's at More Than Words and join the Friday Photo Flashback party.

Do you love where you live?

We do. We seriously love where we live. It is perfect of us right now. 4 years ago this summer we left Southern California for Eastern Washington and have never regretted it. Oh, it was difficult...really, really hard. We didn't know a soul and Superman didn't have a job. He bought a house for us without me seeing it first. Seriously challenging to plan that kind of thing. Yet, we knew it was time to leave, that So Cal wasn't our place any more. So, we leapt at the chance and haven't looked back. In the 4 years we've been here, it has become more and more clear that we were meant to be here. Superman found a perfect house for us and got a perfect job for him. Charming was able to go to college early because of the Running Start program here and has grown so much (boys can't bloom, right?).

Finally, this is the view out of our back deck:


And this is what we saw when we headed up the street to go swimming last week:


Not your typical So Cal neighbors!

So, do you love where you live? Why or why not?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making Home Fun

I've talked before about making home a fun place and it occurred to me that one of the things we do on weekends falls into this category. Last weekend the weather was gorgeous, so we had breakfast out on the deck. It was wonderful. Don't forget that making your home fun is as simple as turning the everyday into something special. It doesn't have to be a big deal.


As you can see, we didn't do anything more than head outside, but it was so nice. Birds chirping, the fountain burbling, and the morning breeze. That is was I call fun. Do you have any ideas for making things fun with older kids? I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Do you like garlic?

Then you'll love this Garlic Pull-Apart Bread that I got from Sandra at Keeping It Simple. Years ago, I used to love a bread called "Death by Garlic" that was served at Alice's Restaurant in Westwood (I think...it has been a lot of years!) This recipe reminded me of that bread and I wonder if this is the recipe she was copying. Hmmmm. This garlic pull-apart bread is seriously easy and the recipe is quite adaptable to suit your tastes. If you're looking for a simple departure from rolls or garlic toast, you have to give this a try. One of the best parts of this recipe is that you can make it with frozen bread dough you buy at the store or you can make it with your own dough. How cool is that?


Garlic Pull-Apart Bread
Sandra @ Keeping It Simple

1 pound loaf of bread dough cut into pieces
3 Tablespoons Garlic Powder (Sandra's recipe said Garlic Salt, but that made no sense to me)
2 Tablespoons Egg -beaten
1/2 cup butter melted
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning (Sandra called for parsley, which I didn't have)

Grease a loaf pan. Mix beaten egg, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and butter together in a small bowl. Dip pieces of dough in butter mixture and put into loaf pan. Continue until all pieces have been dipped and placed in pan. Let rise roughly 30 minutes. (If you're using frozen dough, let it soften for 15 minutes, then cut into pieces, dip as above, and let rise 90 minutes.) Brush the top with butter and sprinkle with garlic. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes and serve warm.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It is Summertime!

...and I'm camping again. I'll be back on Friday to do some laundry, but if we can get a reservation extension, I'll be heading out again for a full week. Two weeks of camping! Wooo Hooo! No Making Your Home Sing Monday for me, but still, head on over to Momstheword to see what everyone is up to this week.

As for me, I thought I'd share with you a quintessential summertime picture:


Valiant getting some air during a flip off a diving board. How cool is it that I captured that shot? We had the privilege of spending a few afternoons at a neighbor's pool and it was divine. Not only was it beautiful weather, but it was a salt-water pool. No chlorine sting, no chlorine hair, no dried out skin. Truly, it was awesome! I was so excited to finally understand what all the buzz is about and I have to agree. If you can swing it, salt-water is the only way to go!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Serenity

Photo: Lake Serene (outside Seattle)

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm”

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Birthdays!!

July 11 is a big day! Not only is it my dad's birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad!), but it is my sister Kate's (LoveAphid) birthday, too! How cool is that? Never a year goes by that I don't think of Katie when I celebrate my dad's birthday and finally I get to celebrate both this year. I love it.

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, Dear Dad and Katie,
Happy Birthday to you!

...and many more!

So, Dad I hope you can still taste the cake we made for you last weekend (it was a bit dry, sorry about that!) and know we love you and the kids are totally bugging me about you and Nana moving up here. Happy Birthday! We love you!

Kate, I hope you're out having fun for your birthday! (I'm so glad your present got there on time...unfortunately, I just found a little something that was supposed to have been included, so now I need to begin another box for you!)

So, if you wouldn't mind, would you please head over to say Happy Birthday to Kate at our shared blog: www.365thingsyoudidntknow.blogspot.com. She'll love it!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

It is Friday Photo Flashback time again! It is the time that Alicia at More Than Words asks us to dig through our pre-digital photos and share our finds with you.

The one I found has Superman and me doing our very first level testing for advancement in karate. I think it might also have been our last test, too, because we couldn't justify the expense of taking karate and paying for our boys to take karate...guess who got to keep going. Anyway, Buttercup was 8 months old and I was at the studio all the time, so I decided to give it a whirl. It was fun while it lasted.


(For those who are keeping track, it was shortly after this that I decided to dye my hair dark...this was three months before we decided to buy the house we were living in, thus the dark hair in last week's picture!) As I look at the picture, I remember the sensei getting mad at me because we couldn't get my watch off for the testing. I even told him he could try to get it off...it just wouldn't budge. I think he thought I did it on purpose. I have to laugh now, at how seriously he took my transgression.

Ah well, time flies. For more Flashbacks, head over to Alicia's and see what everyone else has dug up.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A kind word...

Last week, right in between the Great Furniture Stampede and preparing for my dad to arrive, sweet Lorrie at My Spot on the Shore gave me an award. I was so touched, but I don't think I did an adequate job of letting her know because I was, well, frazzled. Frankly, I was stunned that she even knew who I was. (I know she follows me, but you know what I mean!) Lorrie is Mom to boys...only boys. I wonder if that is why her blog is so terrific. Why would I ask that? Well, you just don't have some of the chatty conversations with boys/men that you do with women and Lorrie poses some really thoughtful questions in some of her blog posts. In between making my brain hurt with tough questions about faith, friendship, and life, she reminds me of life in So Cal, she shares her life of strong family ties going back generation combined with new challenges and the ever-changing world we all live in. So, imagine my surprise when someone I'm enjoying getting to know so much gave me an award? So, Lorrie, thanks...I would love to sit at the beach and chat with you for hours. (It really did mean a lot, even if it took me a while to get back online!)


"This award is bestowed on blogs whose aim is to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement and are real. Our hope is that when the ribbons on these prizes are cut, even more friendships are made... "

So, what blogs do I think are following that credo (besides Lorrie's, I mean)?

First off, let me introduce you to DarcyLee at In This Season. DarcyLee just became a grandma for the first time to a beautiful baby girl born last week! She is so generous sharing hints and tidbits about life with older kids (which is what I now have!), as well as always willing to lend an off-blog shoulder or ear when I need one. DarcyLee is definitely someone I'd be calling to have lunch with, if only we weren't thousands of miles apart. So, go say "hi" to my friend DarcyLee and congratulate her on her brand-new granddaughter.

Next, I'd encourage you to head over to see Andrea at the Train to Crazy. Andrea mixes crafting and parenting of young girls with thoughts on the world even as she and her family are in the midst of relocating. She's also just begun a new blog called Hatch (from which I borrowed a buttermilk pancake recipe that my family said was better (!) than the recipe I've been using for years!). As I understand it, Hatch is all about making things: food, clothes, anything. So far, so good.

Alicia at Confessions of a Snowflake is one of those bloggers who sneaks up on you. She's quiet and hangs back, but I love her blog. She fills it with honest reflection, even during struggles, and I feel like you could tell her anything and she'd listen. She writes about her faith and life's journey and, frankly, I just like her.

And, for those of us who love to see what others are doing in their homes, I think you should head on over to Tootsie's and Lil' Sista's houses so that you, too, can wonder if these girls ever, ever sleep. They always have such terrific ideas for things to do around the house and Tootsie's garden is to die for. Even better? They share the how-tos!

Finally, I have to mention Alicia at More than Words. She's the blogger who has given us Friday Photo Flashback, but that is not why I'm mentioning her. Actually, her blog is some warm and friendly, I imagine she's the woman whose door is always open. I picture her life full of bustle and energy, but never too busy for a friend.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Random stuff...

Some of you may have noticed that I switched my blog background (but some of you, who receive the feeds like I do, might not have!)...I switched to one I got at ShabbyBlogs.com (for free, of course). You should check it out and see if there is anything there that tickles your fancy. That doesn't mean, however, that I've stopped checking in at Jannypie, the designer of my previous blog background.


In fact, I'm sporting this sweet little calendar as my desktop image these days. Isn't it cool? I don't know about you, but I like to have my computer be pretty, too, and these designers make it difficult to choose a new look. Jannypie does far more than blog design, though, she's quite crafty, too. If you're looking for inspiration, she might just have it. I'm feeling all crafty now that my craft area is finally coming together and things are settling down after the great furniture round-up.

So, for now, this is what I have on my computer. I'm always amazed at what people can do with a little knowledge about HTML. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. I love that so many people are willing to share the fruits of their labors for free. It feels so much like a wonderful community, doesn't it? As for next month, who knows!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Christmas!

Okay, I knew that would get your attention, but I just had to say it. Let me explain:

Last year, I set for myself the lofty goal of a hand-made Christmas. Since I didn't start until after Thanksgiving, however, I was doomed to failure. Worse, I ended up buying things at the last minute because it was impossible for me to finish enough things to meet my gift list. This year, I've decided again to try for a hand-made Christmas. Notice, however, that it is July 7. Yes, that is right. I am now beginning the process of brainstorming Christmas gift ideas. (And Halloween and Thanksgiving decor ideas, but that is a different post.)

So, just in case you're like me and have these amazingly good intentions with follow-through issues, I thought I'd let you know. It is time to think forward a bit.

So, don't be surprised if my blog starts to feature more and more hand-made gift ideas even though you're still trying to figure out how to get your potato salad to the beach without it going bad. I'm on a mission!

P.S. Just thought I'd let you know that a) Michael's already has their Fall stuff up and b) Target is beginning to load up the Back-to-School section. Oh, and Walgreen's has their summer stuff 50% off!

Monday, July 6, 2009

MYHSM - Visitor Edition


It is that time again, the time where Nan asks us to stop for a minute and think about the attitude and decisions we make in the running of our homes. It is the time to make sure we're living diliberately and making decisions that support the path we say we have consciously chosen, rather than just going through the motions. Really, that is what she wants us to do, don't you think?

Mondays following a 3-day weekend tend to be back-to-the-grindstone kinds of days, but not for us this Monday, for my dad and step-mom are still with us. I'm posting a bit late because we just got back from lunch in Coeur d'Alene. (We went to Las Palmitas - really good Mexican food!) Now I have a birthday cake in the oven for Grandpa John (early celebration heading his way) and we're heading out again as soon as it comes out of the oven.

So, Making Your Home Sing Monday for me is all about keeping the flow of things going smoothly. Despite having visitors, laundry still has to get done, doctor appointments still need to be kept, dishes still have to be done, meals need to be prepared and served, even exercise needs to happen...in short: Life Still Goes On.

Nan at Momstheword often reminds us that attitude is everything in the running of our homes and I've finally learned to keep a calm attitude throughout all the havoc wreaked by visitors. I love having guests and I don't want them to ever feel they're inconveniencing me. It took me a while to learn how to deal with the inevitable disruptions, but I think I'm getting better and better each time. We all know that when Mom gets stressed, it shows up in kid behavior and, so far, the kids are just being the kids. No extra bickering, no battles. Just normal stuff. So, for this week, Making Your Home Sing in the Nagle house has us all singing Take It Easy.

Head over to Momstheword to see what everyone else is doing...you'll be inspired.

P.S. Gotta go...cat just vomitted on the couch and I have 5 minutes before I need to head out again! Life is good

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Home of the Free Because of the Brave!


I know I'm late today, but my dad and his wife arrived in our neck of the woods yesterday and we've been spending time with them. I couldn't let 4th of July go by without some acknowledgment.

The United States. Do you know how unique we are? Our Constitution is the model for constitutions all over the world. Our representative democracy continues to have peaceful transfers of power from one administration to the next, no matter how acrimonious the election might have been. Our military is an entirely volunteer force...Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. People volunteer for numerous reasons, but the truth is, they are committing to put their lives on the line because they believe in the ideals that formed this nation. Perfect? Heck, no! Worth fighting for? Absolutely. I still cry when I hear the Star Spangled Banner.

So, my husband, my brother, my step-brother, my father, my cousin, friends, sons of friends, on this 4th of July, I salute you. Thank you for serving your country. Whether you did it in the past or whether you are doing it now (or, for one young man I'm thinking of, whether you're shipping out in a few months), we are proud of you.

Happy 4th of July, my friends!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

Well, we're getting ready for 4th of July weekend here at the Nagle5 household. Charming is heading off to Seattle to spend some time with some of his college buddies and Grandpa John and Nana are heading up to the Pacific Northwest today spend the weekend with us and take care of some property business that requires their hands-on attention. We're having a barbecue tonight, Game Night on the 4th, and who knows what for the 5th and 6th. Before we begin all of that, however, it is time for Friday Photo Flashback. Remember, to see what everyone else dug up, head over to Alicia's at More Than Words and join the party.


I found this photo when I was cleaning up stuff from the "great desk move" and it made me smile. It was taken with a Polaroid camera (the kind where the picture spits out of the camera and you have to wait for it to develop). The photographer was the agent associate with CalVet who was helping us buy our first ever house. The little ones and I were just outside the patio door. Since we bought a house we had been renting, we were always there when the guy had to come check whatever. One of the things that stands out after all these years was that during the process we found out that we were "low income". I remember running home laughing and telling Superman, "We're low income...I told you we don't have enough money!" We laughed about it...we knew that regardless of the statistics, we were truly blessed. I was almost 37 at the time and I remember being so happy. (The CalVet process took SIX MONTHS, so we really got to know the guy.) As you can see, that was during one of my "dark hair" phases (hey, Angelika and LA, what do you all think?)...Buttercup was just 1 and Valiant was 4...it was 9 years ago from this summer. My, how time flies.

When you walk, you notice so much more...

My beloved Suburban needed to go into the shop for some much needed, but minor attention. Yes, apparently the freon had finally run out in my air conditioning system and it needed to be charged--summer is arriving in full force this weekend...I am a baby and don't want to be in an oven on wheels. I anticipated the mechanic would have my car for at least an hour, so I decided to turn the trip into a "walking adventure". I invited Valiant and Buttercup to join me (rather than having them staying home alone, which they could have chosen to do) and we dropped the car off and headed out on foot. Our destination was the McDonald's a mile from the mechanic. Getting there meant we had to head further away first, to get to a cross-walk, and then head down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, we had to cross back over the same street, and continue walking until we hit the last crosswalk, where we crossed the same street, yet again. Why? Because the city/county didn't see fit to put sidewalks and crosswalks along part of this street/highway (SR395) and I wasn't going to have my children walking in the street along with six lanes of traffic. What a pain.

This is a few miles from where we were
walking, but on the same street/highway.

Having pointed out the complexities of such a simple trip, let me tell you, my children were troopers. The negative comments quickly gave way to the observations: "Wow, look at that bird." "Eew, cars really smell." "Oh, look at that flower." Pretty quickly, we concluded that the world would be more attractive if more people took the time to walk places. The view you have from your car is completely removed the view you have on foot. Really, it is completely removed from reality. All the things that are designed to catch your eye as you're speeding by at 45 miles an hour are lost in translation when you're walking by them. Billboards? No impact. Flashing lights? Just odd. Little bits of debris and trash? Everywhere.

Melissa is taking pictures of her daily walks to show us all where she's been going as she continues her 365 Days of Exercise and when I looked at her pictures, I had to wonder if anyone realized just how ugly and boring mile after mile of cinder block walls really are. She's finding treasures, but still. How often do people still make things pretty, just for the sake of being around pretty things?

(This is a picture of a section of Freeway in So Cal...
see those gorgeous wall tiles? I've always loved them.)

I loved to drive by the pretty section of otherwise endless freeway in California. I understand the necessity for the barriers between the world and the freeways (if you live there, you do, too), but I don't understand why they have to be ugly. Why doesn't pretty matter? I don't know...maybe it is just me, but I think there is value in making things attractive. Fortunately, my kids agree.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Just in case you haven't heard...

If you have any Nestle Toll House cookie dough in your refrigerator, take it back to the store. E-coli was definitely found in their Toll House product and they've had a voluntary recall going since 6/19 (while we were camping). I was fortunate that we didn't end up using the bar I brought camping with us and was able to return it to the grocery store (no receipt required) for cash back.

This is the text of the email I received today:



We want to keep you informed of the latest information regarding the situation with NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Refrigerated Cookie Dough. Nestlé continues to work closely and in full cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on its ongoing investigation. Unfortunately, on Monday, June 29, Nestlé was informed by the FDA that it confirmed evidence of E. coli 0157:H7 in a sample of our refrigerated cookie dough (for more details please see our press release on www.VeryBestBaking.com). We are very concerned about those who have become ill from E. coli, and deeply regret that this has occurred.

Nestlé was first made aware of the FDA and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) investigation late Wednesday, June 17. Less than 24 hours later, we made the decision to voluntarily withdraw all of our retail NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Refrigerated Cookie Dough from the marketplace because the safety of our customers has always been and will continue to be our number one priority. We announced the voluntary recall on Friday morning, June 19.

As we have stated before, you can rest assured that no other NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® products are impacted, including already baked NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® cookies purchased outside the home, all varieties of NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® morsels, chocolate baking bars, or cocoa, and Dreyer's and Edy's ice cream products with NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® cookie dough ingredients.

We are asking that if you have any unused NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® refrigerated cookie dough at home that you return it to your local grocer for a refund. I would also like to ask you for your support by helping us spread the word to your friends and family and remind them that raw cookie dough should not be eaten.

Please visit VeryBestBaking.com for regular updates or contact Nestlé Consumer Services with questions at 1-800-559-5025. I will continue to send you updates as we learn more.

With much appreciation for your loyalty and continued support,

Easy Bake Oven Cake Mix

So, for Buttercup's birthday, she received an Easy Bake oven. Unbeknown to me, the mixes for those itty bitty cakes cost $4-$5! Can you believe it? I couldn't either. Needless to say, there hasn't been a lot of Easy Bakin' going on in our house. You can imagine how tickled I was to stumble on this recipe from Tawra at Living on a Dime. Yes, you can just make your own itty bitty cakes from scratch.
Buttercup and her friend had a ball doing this last week while Superman and I were rearranging the house. While the kitchen was a disaster during their adventure, they did an awesome job cleaning up after the fact and I will have problem letting them have at it again. The funny thing? I'll let Buttercup use the real oven whenever she likes...she really wanted to cook with a light bulb.

So, for those of you with younger ones who have or might someday have an Easy Bake Oven in your life, I share with you the frugal approach to baking with your Easy Bake Oven.

Easy Bake Oven Chocolate Cake Mix
From Living on a Dime
Ingredients (mix for 11 cakes):
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cocoa
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup vegetable shorteningDirections for mix:
In a medium bowl, combine sugar, cocoa, flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until blended. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles corn meal. Store in an airtight container. Use within 12 weeks. Makes 11 cakes.
Directions per cake:

1/3 cup Easy Bake cake mix
5-6 tsp. water. Mix together until smooth. Pour mixture into greased and floured 4 inch round baking pan. Follow directions for child's oven. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Invert onto a small plate and remove pan. When cool, frost with Easy Bake Frosting. Makes 1 cake.Don't forget the Frosting:

Easy Bake Chocolate or White Frosting
From Living on a Dime
Ingredients for enough to frost 11 cakes:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. dry milk
1/2 cup cocoa (For white frosting, omit cocoa.)
6 Tbsp. solid vegetable shorteningDirections for Batch:
In a bowl, combine powdered sugar, dry milk and cocoa. Cut in shortening. Store in an airtight container. Use in 12 weeks.Directions per cake:

1/3 cup Chocolate Frosting mix
2 - 2 1/2 tsp. waterIn a small bowl, combine frosting mix and water. Stir with a fork until smooth. Makes about 1/4 cup.

So, how cool is that? The girls did it themselves, I didn't cringe at the cost and they learned you can do it from stuff you have at home and you don't have to go spend $5 to have fun.

P.S. Did I mention the girls got impatient with the Easy Bake oven and used the rest of the batter to make heart-shaped cakes?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How is this for Customer Service?

Okay, so my last post touched on the fact that Superman needed to call Comcast to resolve an issue related to our switch over to their high speed internet (which I love...it is so amazing!). I really wasn't complaining about Comcast. I've really been pleased with our dealings with them and Superman had no difficulty resolving the issue with their customer service rep, but if he hadn't, I think he'd be pleased to know just how responsive Comcast really was. I received this comment to my blog post:

ComcastCares1 has left a new comment on your post "Daddy's Girl, but Mommy's Helper...":

I hope he got it all straightened up. Let me know if you need further assistance.

Regards,

Mark Casem
Comcast Corp.
National Customer Operations
We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com


How cool is that? (...and my dad says customer service doesn't exist anymore!) Comcast, you totally impressed me! Thanks so much for caring.