family · life

Indoor Block party?

The street we live on is finally complete. We decided this was a good reason to celebrate. A few of us got together and tried to coordinate a weekend date in Oct to have our first block party. This was back in September, and the best we could do was this weekend. So we planned our first block party for yesterday. It was all planned out. We were going to block off the cul-de-sac, drag out tables, chairs, the grill and fun things for the kids to do.  Yeah well I guess no one consulted with mother nature. Starting Friday night we had rain on and off all weekend. Finally Richard and I decided we would just move the party into our house.

Friday night we began the process of company cleaning the house. You know that feeling of everything that is always out and about needs to actually be put away in the right places. We began in the basement and worked our way upstairs. It felt good to get everything cleaned and know I didn’t have to clean during the week. This also forced the boys to help clean beyond their basic cleaning. Ok they still didn’t do it willingly, but it was done.

Saturday I sent out a message saying that we would make a final decision on Sunday, but that we could move it into our house if needed. We kept putting it off, but finally gave in and said… ok inside it goes. Right after we sent out that message, the sun came out. I felt like mother nature was messing with my head. We also decided that since it was wet and only in the 40s that even with sun…. inside was better.

The party was planned for 3:30pm. Around 3:29 the skies opened up and I felt better about the change in plans!

There are 6 houses on our street (4 in the cul-de-sac and 2 on the straight part of our street). Everyone showed up! It was nice to get everyone together. The people in the house next to us, the last to be completed, were able to meet the rest of the neighbors. We had a 13 month old, an almost 3 year old, a 4 year old (it was actually his birthday), Colby, Blake and another 6th grader, a middle schooler and a high schooler. This was a decent mix of kids. The children are all boys except the one high schooler is a girl. The kids were down in the basement. They had red zone on the tv and were playing on the PS4. Colby set up a hot wheels track and got out the monster trucks for the little boys.

The adults hung out in the kitchen and chatted. The groups were pretty fluid and no one seemed to be left out of the conversations. Each family brought food and there was a lot of food and drinks consumed and leftover.

We already scheduled our next get together. Another family offered their house this time and we picked the date while everyone was together. We hope to do this every couple of months, especially through the winter!

So while it didn’t turn out like we originally planned it was a lot of fun and worth it.

family · life

Weekend update- mother’s day edition

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. We were busy this weekend. Saturday found us at North Park on a bike ride. The boys wanted to show Richard the trails they have been riding in bike class. I decided to skip the ride and go for a hike. I went on a few new paths that I hadn’t walked on before. It was a win-win all around. We then went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch and stopped at the bike store. Blake needed a new helmet and Richard wanted to look at new bike shoes. We were spent a while outside doing a bit of this and a bit of that as well as chatting with neighbors. We originally planned to go out to dinner, but the skies opened with no sign of letting up, so fend for yourself dinner it is! We decided that since we stayed home we should watch a movie. We decided to watch Ocean’s Eleven (2001). Richard and I have been on a kick of showing the boys movies that Richard and I enjoy, but are still appropriate for tweens.

Sunday morning Colby decided he wanted to make me breakfast in bed. Richard told him that wouldn’t work since there was no way to serve it. So instead Colby opted to make me a strawberry peanut butter smoothie. He tried to bring it up to me, but I was already on my way downstairs. After breakfast, we went off to the gym, DiBellas, and Lowes. We had a long list of things to purchase at Lowes. This did not make the boys happy. We can’t win they don’t want to go if we don’t have a list, now they don’t want to go if we do have a list. Get over if… home ownership means trips to Lowes!

When we got home we started putting down seed on the front and side lawns and then were were going to begin putting the bags of top soil on bare spots. The ground here is rocky, loaded with sticks and it is clay not soil. So we are having to work hard to get this lawn looking the way we want it to look. We will get there. While we were working on putting out the top soil it began to rain. It wasn’t bad at first, but then it picked up. We had to head in and wait it out in the garage. We were already partially done and slightly damp so we decided to wait it out instead of going in to change. We then went out again when it let up only to have the sky open and drench us. Oh well… it got done.

Colby came outside when he finally stopped raining and was observing the run off on the lot next door. He has been learning about water and the effects of it on the landscape. It was neat listening to him discuss the erosion he was observing, the tributaries that were created as well as many other terms he learned in science class. School work at it’s finest!

We had homemade pizza and rolls for dinner. We used the Alton Brown recipe again. It wasn’t as good as the first time we made it, but it was still really good.

The night was ended with Google Hangout calls to both grandmothers to wish them a happy mother’s day.

Hope you had a great weekend.

(Must have Monday is still going to appear today…. just later on today. I didn’t post yesterday so I wanted to share the whos and whats of the weekend)

life · through my camera lens

It’s Friday Eve

It’s Thursday. That means it is Friday Eve, isn’t that a great way to look at Thursdays? This has been a fast week for me, but I’m not sure I actually did a whole lot. Yesterday was a productive in house day. We had rain, wind, snow and sun yesterday as well as cold temperatures so it was a perfect stay home day. I put away all the Easter decorations, but didn’t have anything to put out so now the house feels bare, oh well. I also managed to get all the beds stripped and washed, cleaned the bathrooms and swept the floors.

After dinner (leftover chicken and steak wraps… make your own!), we worked on the menu for next week. I think going to the grocery store on Thursdays might be a good day for me, I’ll try it out for a few weeks. Typically I shop on Mondays, but then it feels like we have no food on the weekends, when everyone is home. On the menu this week we have: make your own scramblers, quesadillas, tuna steaks, TBD, meatballs and fish tacos. I’ll make rolls to go with the meatballs, not sure yet if I’ll make grinder rolls or small rolls, time will tell.

Today we woke up to more blowing snowflakes and 27 degrees F. What month are we in? At least neither the snow yesterday nor today stuck so it was just in looking out and seeing snow flying around. While I was having my coffee and then my breakfast I was watching my bird feeders. Over the weekend we moved the feeder again and now I can see it from my computer again. I decided to take some pictures of the birds I could see. This morning I saw: doves, goldfinch, cardinals, blue jays, crows and black birds. We typically have starlings around too. Yesterday we even had a turkey walk through the backyard.

andesI went to the gym and then to the grocery store. While I was there, I picked up some Andes candies and decided to make chocolate chocolate Andes cookies. Yep, you read that right! I haven’t made cookies in a few weeks so it was time. I took this recipe and altered it with peppermint extra, a bit of extra salt and then substituted 1 cup of chips for chopped up Andes candies.

The other big change this week is the lot next door. They have already dug the foundation and then today they began working on changing the topography of the backyard. This is good and bad for us. We wanted them to alter topography of our backyard, but they wouldn’t do it. I think they are doing it this time because the other builder in the neighborhood cleaned up the lot of two lots that back up to the property next to us. Now I wonder what they are going to do between our property and the one they are working on. My boys would have loved this when they were little. They loved construction vehicles so much and would have probably spent hours just sitting and watching dump truck after dump truck get loaded up by the back hoe.

Hope you enjoyed a quick glimpse into my Friday Eve. Tomorrow I’m off to the boys’ school to help with the 4th grade science Olympics. Then it’s the weekend. I’m always ready for the weekend. Hope this week has been nice to you.

family · life · through my camera lens

Spring is on the way?

Today life got back to normal. Richard took the boys to the bus stop and headed off to work. I went to the gym and then to the grocery store. Yep, life is getting back to normal.

spring6This weekend the weather started to get a bit nicer. At least the never ending snow stopped. I swear it snowed every day while Richard was away. It never accumulated, but it snowed. The temperatures were COLD last week too. We barely got into the 30s most days. Today was are already at 48F. It is deceiving when you look out the windows. When you look outside the sun is shining, the sky is bright blue and it looks warm. Yeah, it’s not warm.

Richard and I had a conversation about this yesterday. We were outside walking the spring3backyard talking about what we want to do back there. While we were outside the people who purchased the lot next door drove up to look at the lot. The wife was seeing the lot for the first time. They were in town for their design meeting and were getting ready to head back to NJ. They are actually moving back to Pittsburgh, I find this to be common around here… people move away and then move back, that says a lot about the area. They have a little boy who is about 5 months old and a dog. They are actually building the same model that we have, so I invited her in to see the layout of the kitchen, morning room, family room area. Plus it was only 40F, windy and the baby was only wearing a sleeper, the mom in me thought he’d be too cold while we stood outside and chatted.

I will be happy when their house is built because that is the last house on our cul-de-sac. It also means I don’t have to look out on an empty lot. Now if they can just sell the corner lot and get that built, I’d rather look at two houses than the trash and construction debris on these two lots right now.

Tomorrow is the first day of spring and I’m so ready for more signs of spring to come. As you can see from my picture, my crocuses are blooming (the tulips have started growing too). I have also seen quite a few cardinals and we had a ladybug in the house yesterday. I love seeing signs of spring to come. But, since snow is in the forecast for tomorrow, I guess I’ll just pretend that today is the start of spring!


I hope your Monday finds you back into your routine and ready to take on the week ahead. I hope spring is in full bloom in your neck of the woods. Drop me a line to let me know signs of spring you have already seen… I need to know it is on the way!

family · life · through my camera lens

Snow day!

Today the phone rang at 5:15am. I actually didn’t hear it ring, but I heard the message as Richard listen to it… no school for the boys. We sort of knew this was coming since we were under a winter storm warning from 2am to 6pm. I got up and turned both of the boys alarm clocks off and went back to bed.

Richard and I got up around 7:30am and started our morning. Richard jumped in the Image may contain: one or more people, snow, tree, outdoor and natureshower and I headed down to shovel. The snow was HEAVY today. We had about 5 inches of snow already. While I was out shoveling it started a wintry mix with more rain than anything else… oh joy! Richard ended up coming out and helping me shovel the snow since I was no where near done when he was done with his routine.

We got the driveway done and moved on with our day. The boys and I played two rounds of Family Edition Trivial Pursuit. I said that we need to get another version of this game as they are really good at answering the kids questions and are probably ready for a full on adult version. I’ll have to go searching for the best version to purchase.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, tree, snow, outdoor and natureWhen that was done the three of us went outside. The boys who live across the street were outside shoveling their driveway. My boys decided to go help them out… hey why don’t they ever offer to help me? Well I didn’t give up my shovel because I still needed to shovel where the truck was, the sidewalk and the walkway.

While we were outside it switched from a wintry mix to snow. I couldn’t keep up with the snow while I was shoveling, not that I expected to, but it was crazy how muchImage may contain: one or more people, snow, outdoor and nature snow was falling.

The boys then decided to head out back and go sledding. It was really good sledding cine there was a layer of ice on top of the snow. They were able to get in quite a few good runs down the hill. They will certainly be disappointed when there is a house on the lot next door next year since that is their favorite spot to sled.

While they were out there, I cleaned off the back steps and snapped some pictures. I loved the look of the icicles on the bird feeder. I did go over and clean off the feeder so the birds could get to the seeds.

Image may contain: tree, bird, sky, snow and outdoor

** this post contains links to products, please read my disclosure statement**

family · life

Come home when the street lights come on

Today felt like spring. I saw 51F at one point in the day. When we lived in FL, if I said it was 51F outside we would be bundled up and hating life. But, here in PA, nope… 51 is down right balmy outside.

The boys decided to go out on their bikes after school and ride down to the playground. I love that they are now old enough to just go. They know to stay together. They know to go where they told me they’d go and no where else without checking in first.

Image result for come home when the streetlights come on

They left the house around 4:20pm. My sons, unlike many of their peers, do not have cell phones. They also don’t wear watches. Colby is notorious for losing or breaking his, and Blake doesn’t like to wear one. So what did I do, I told them to come home when the street lights come on. Ok well the house lights. We don’t have street lights in our neighborhood, but each house as a couch light that has a light sensor so it comes on when it gets dark.

I remember this was the cue we had as kids to go home as well. In the summer, we’d be home for dinner and then go back out until the street lights came on. It was the sign that said time for bed pretty much. So it just seemed right today to give that as the cue to my sons to come home. And they did! So that Mom Trick still works!

How’s the weather in your part of the world? Did you have to come home when the street lights came on as a kid?


Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars…Balls?

Today I went to a baby shower for 2 moms in our new neighborhood. I decided to bring chocolate chip cheesecake bars. I made these because of a story from when I was pregnant with Blake.

When I was pregnant with Blake we were going to an Octoberfest party. Blake’s a November birthday so you now know I was VERY pregnant with Blake. I was at the stage where the baby wasn’t moving around as much since he was running out of room. When I had one of the cheesecake bars, Blake went crazy and was moving everywhere. At the time, I was on a baby board for other moms due the same Nov. I shared the recipe with some of the moms and they had a similar experience. I then made these again when I was pregnant with Colby. We began lovingly calling them “baby crack”. They may not be the healthiest thing for a mom to eat, but they are super YUMMY and the babies love or hate them, but they are active after you eat them.

So I decided, as I have in the past, to make these to bring to share. But, this time life wasn’t so smooth! First I tried to make them in my mini muffin pan… yeah this did NOT work. they all broke and I think I had maybe 6 that didn’t come out in pieces. I also had enough to make an 8×8 pan, but Colby turned off my timer so they got over baked.

I decided to run out and get more ingredients. So, last night I baked a 2nd batch. This time I slightly under cooked them. When I went to cut and plate them this morning I was like….. oh crap I can not serve these.  Richard and I laughed as we tried to get them out of the pan and the two of us were covered in cheesecake batter.


I dished up enough to take, but they look horrible. I came close to not bringing anything. Then Richard suggested that I mush it all up together and make cheesecake ball, think cake balls, but cheesecake. P1070289

Yummy solution. Ok so they didn’t really look perfect, but they work. I had enough to bring them to the shower and also send the rest to work with Richard tomorrow. Colby decided to try them and loved them so we will leave some home for him as well.

So the moral of today’s story… when life messes with your bars, make balls.


Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars— umm balls?

  • 2 rolls chocolate chip cookies
  • 2 (8 oz.) pkg cream cheese softened
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. line 9×13 greased pan with one roll of cookies, sliced thin to cover entire bottom
  2. combine other 4 ingredients until smooth and spread over cookie layer
  3. cover with second roll also sliced thin
  4. bake @ 375 for 30-40 min
  5. let set for 20 min before cutting


through my camera lens

Look… Deer!

Every house that I have lived in has had wood/conservation land behind it. So when we found the lot that we purchased that has a wooded slope on the backside of our property it was part of the draw to the land.

One thing that we have enjoyed seeing here is deer. In the past I’ve posted about the deer that we have seen in North Park, a county owned park very close to our house. Today I captured some of the deer in our backyard.

We just got home from picking the boys up from school and I walked into the kitchen. I noticed 1 doe in the backyard. As I got closer I noticed that there were actually two… no wait 3. Hey wait there is a buck still in the woods. After the buck walked away a 4th doe walked out the wood too.

This is such a wonderful sight for my sons to see. Nature is beautiful so lets enjoy it!  (These pictures are SOOC, so don’t judge… just enjoy)


November 8– Neighbors

November is a month that means a lot to our family. Richard and Blake have birthdays in November, Richard and I got engaged many years ago in November. We purchased our Orlando home in November. And there is always Thanksgiving. As you can see its a good month for our family.

Each day for the month, I have been writing about something I am thankful/grateful for at this time.

There are so many things going on in our lives. We moved, we moved again and now we are finally setting into our new lives here in PA.

One thing we are truly enjoying here is the neighborhood. The neighborhood we lived from in FL was good, but there was no connection. The neighborhood we moved into has a true small town feel. We get together for celebrations, we spend time together and enjoy it. The children have met friends. Richard and I have met people we enjoy too.

What’s even better is that as a mom I feel that my boys are safe and happy here. I know that if something happens to them in the neighborhood the neighbors will help.

Today the bus was running really late. Richard brought home our boys and a neighbor boy and I drove the 3 of them to school. We didn’t think twice, we just knew he needed a ride.

This is what a neighborhood should feel like. This sense of community is what makes true people neighbors


Well it’s Ladies Night…

If you read my post yesterday about going to the PTO meetings at the boys school, you know I don’t like groups and am not good in social situations. So to top off yesterdays meetings, which went well, I did speak a little. Funny thing is I met a person who moved to the district last year and had lived in MA near where I went to college and lived in Rochester for a while too. Small world!

Anyway, back to today’s post…last night the neighborhood we are living had a “ladies only night”. They did this in August as well, but I didn’t make it to that one. When I saw on their Facebook site that someone was hosting one in Sept, I decided to jump on board. As I mentioned yesterday, I am trying very hard when we are in the neighborhood to meet and interact with the other families. I want to feel comfortable when I walk around that I can stop and chat. I want to feel comfortable that when my kids are out on their bikes the people in the neighborhood know them and will keep an eye on them/out for them whatever. I want to feel that this is not just where my house is, but the community I live in.

But, this type of thing is not easy for me. First of all I don’t drink wine, or beer for that IMG_20170914_152528matter. It isn’t that I don’t drink… I just don’t like either of these options. So when I’m offered wine I always decline, not to offend… it’s just not my style. So while most people brought a bottle of wine… I brought sweets. I am sort of known for baking. I love to bake and it is very relaxing to me. So when I have to go into these situations getting to bake ahead of time helps. Last night I brought apple pie taquitos. I figured September means apples sooo what better? These were well received, which also helps me because when people talk to me about the desert, I have something to talk about!

Last night when I arrived, not late enough apparently, there was only the homeowner and one other person there. Luckily for me I have meet them both before. People started to slowly trickle in, this was also a help. I felt I did better than normal. I did pop around and join a few groups talking. I always find it weird to walk into a group that is already having a conversation. I feel this is intruding, but I don’t want to stand and not talk to anyone (ok I really do want to do that, but that would scream socially awkward).

I spoke to many of the ladies and even met one who I had yet to meet and spent a great deal of time talking to her, which was nice. I won’t say that I’m ready to jump into more social situations with both feet, but I’ll be more willing to dip my toes in the water, at least in the neighborhood!