food · life

Tuesday calls for cooking?

It’s Tuesday! Today is a cloudy, rainy, overcast day. We got a notice last week saying that they were doing work on the electric in the area and we would lose power from 8-1 today. Well, it’s 10:22am and the power is still on. I didn’t go to the grocery store or plan any other activities so that I was home today to deal with the dog. When the power goes out there are all kinds of things that make beeps and alarms going off, and Dixie doesn’t like noises like that.

So, originally we only menu planned through yesterday. Last night Blake suggested having pasta for dinner tonight. I decided to make the sauce to go with it too. We had burgers last week and I had purchased extra ground beef since it was on sale. I love being able to make my own sauce. Ground beef, onion, pepper, seasoning mixed with diced and crushed tomatoes…. meat sauce!

I also decided to bake cookies. I decided to make lemon lime cookies since I had a lemon and a lime in the fridge. I found a recipe I liked and ended up tweaking it a bit. I added in orange zest and change the extract with lemon and lime juices.

I think I’ll toss some ingredients into the bread machine and make rolls to go with dinner tonight. I decided on this recipe.

So I guess the fact that I’m waiting for the power to go off hasn’t stopped me from cooking/baking.

What is your go to item when you don’t have a meal planned? Do you make your own spaghetti sauces? Hope you have a great Tuesday!

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life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday– Must Have Monday edition

TTM_MHM

Today is Must Have Monday and I’m slacking. It was the boys last Monday of school, I sent off my resumes yesterday and I had a long list of things to clean today. Oh and the fact that the power went off at 3:15am or something like that this morning and we were awake until it came back on could have something to do with me being slightly distracted today.

Typically I decide on my Must Have Monday topic over the weekend, but this was a crazy weekend of fighting over finishing homework. Completing science projects and other parenting things that are not always enjoyable. So I didn’t think about Must Have Monday.

So what must you I have in order to write a Must Have Monday post?

  1. You need sleep. I don’t know about you, but I never function correctly without a full night sleep. I need a good 6 hours, but really I need 8 to function.
  2. You must have a topic to write about and plan it before you sit down to write it. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t blog the whole thing in my head, I just typically have an idea of what I’m going to talk about and a few of the must have items to list.
  3. You must remember that it is Monday and that you write Must Have Monday on Monday.

Hopefully I can remember these steps next week, but I don’t make any promises since it is a holiday. Anyone have a Must Have Monday topic for me to write about????

 

food · life

Some days you bake bird food

Yesterday I took the honey “bourbon” chicken recipe and used it with pork butt. My goal was to make honey “bourbon” pulled pork on homemade rolls. Well…. this isn’t exactly how it turned out.

First I decided to make this in the crock pot. I didn’t think the pork would cook well in the electric pressure cooker. I also had just seen a test where the person tested cooking pork in a pressure cooker, a slow cooker and a dutch oven. The dutch oven did the best and the pressure cooker did the worst. Well, shockingly, I don’t actually have a dutch oven so into the crock pot I put my pork.

Since I was cooking it on low for hours I decided to add a splash of chicken stock, which in the end I didn’t need since there was more liquid than needed. OH well!

I also decided to try out a new roll recipe. I found a recipe for french hamburger rolls made in the bread maker.  When the dough was done I knew it was wrong. I decided to try anyway. This dough was SOOOOO sticky I had to incorporate more flour into it so that it wasn’t all over me, the counter, and everything else. This then meant that the dough was overworked. I plowed on and baked them anyway. They had no flavor and were soooo dense and didn’t rise. So out to the birds that batch of rolls went.

I decided to make rice and quinoa to have with the pork.

It was pretty good, the texture was good, but it just wasn’t the taste I’d anticipated. OH well… such is life. Some days your rolls rise and taste yummy and some days you make bird food.

family · life

7.5 school days left

And so the countdown continues. It is hard to believe that the boys only have 7.5 days left in school. This year has been such a whirlwind for our whole family.

At this time last year we were wrapping up our last few weeks in FL. The house was pretty much packed up. The school year was almost over and we were getting ready to set off on our grand adventure. We left FL on June 5th and were moved in to the apartment on June 6th. Sometimes it is hard to believe it has been a full year already.

The boys were talking about it the other night and both feel that this move was good for them. They love their school and feel they have learned a lot this year. They have had their ups and downs, but in the long run they are happy.  Richard is settled into his job and I’m just about ready to send off my resume. I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on what to do, where to apply, should I apply, should I stay home, what is the best thing.

It is such a hard thing to try and figure out what is not only best for me, but also best for the family. The last job I had pretty much fell in my lap and I I hardly thought about it. I took that position more than half way through the school year, the boys were settled and I was going to be in the same school as them. While the boys are settled, I will not be with them anymore. I know they are old enough, responsible enough and more than capable of dealing with the adjustments that will come along with me going back to work, it’s not an easy decision.

I know that the job market for educators is tough in this area. I know that I have a lot to offer still I just need to make sure that I go in the direction that will bring me the most joy. That will bring me the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of children…. that is what teaching is all about.

So, my goal is to get my resume sent out and the process started in the beginning of next week. I won’t share more details at this time, but will as time progresses.

I hope you are enjoying the countdown to your summer, whenever that starts in your life. For me, I’m looking forward to our first summer in our house. Seeing the boys settle into the summer routine of life. 7.5 more school days until life changes for us… again!

book · life · reviews · Uncategorized

Beach Rental book review and rambles

Happy Friday Eve!

This has been such a strange week for me. I posted a bit about it yesterday. On top of all the crazy busy of the boys’ schedules, Richard had 2 days of meetings. For his job when they have these big meetings where people travel in from other states it means full days of meetings followed up by dinner and/or drinks. This means he leaves the house at 7:20am to drive the boys to the bus stop and then didn’t arrive home until around 10pm. I’m not sure how he does it! At least it’s done now, and everything went as smoothly as he hoped it would.

I just finished reading another book on my Kindle Paperwhite E-reader . One of the biggest perks of reading on the Kindle is the free books I can get with out prime membership. On Monday, I posted about Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series which I also got for free. I guess this is another bonus to having a prime membership even if the price is going up! I love the free shipping, we have a Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player which is ALWAYS on playing music in the background of our life. I had to laugh yesterday listening to the boys request music on Alexa, we went from We Didn’t Start the Fire to Laughter In The Rain then Wake Me up Before You Go-Go. My sons have always had an eclectic variety of music they listen to, but it just seems to shine through more lately. Some of their favorite stations to listen to are Pop For Cooking, ’70s Light Pop Perfection, ’80s Pop for Runners and those are just a few that they pick. I find it crazy that they know the names of the songs as well as who sings the song. Me, well I could sing the whole song for you but couldn’t fathom to tell you the facts about the song. Oh well, guess I’ll never go on a music game show, but they can!

Today I finished reading Beach Rental (Large Print) (Emerald Isle, NC Stories) (Volume 1), but Grace Greene. I felt like I read this book really fast, but that maybe because I’m finally back to only reading one book at a time. I read all three of the Harry Potter books one after the other and then I was reading a book and an e-book at the same time while adjusting to reading on the Kindle. Beach Rental was the first book in forever that I read both during the day and at night. So I felt like I flew through the book. I was able to get this book free through my prime membership, notice a trend her?

Juli Cooke’s life has never been easy. She bounced around in the foster care system as a child and has worked hard as an adult to keep her nose clean and a roof over her head. She works at a grocery store during the day and picks up jobs with caters at night for extra cash.

One night while working as a server for a lavish party, her life takes a very unexpected twist. She meets Ben Bradshaw at that party and he turns her life on its ear with the proposal of marriage. Ben is dying and realizes he wants someone in his life to keep him company. He offers Juli a financial freedom for her friendship, that may or may not turn into more over time. Juli agrees with this arrangement, but finds more opposition from Ben’s family than she was prepared to deal with. Ben’s cousin and business partner Luke, noticed Juli at the same party and had a preconceived notion of who she was and what her motives really were. When Ben’s sudden death changes everything, Juli and Luke are forced to work together to settle the estate and so much more.

Read what happens in this unique love story that shows that often times love pops up in the most unusual places.

** This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure statement**

family · life · through my camera lens

Busy week and birds

This has been a strange week. Originally I had thought it was going to be a busy week. I took Monday and plowed through most of my house cleaning jobs. The boys has mountain bike class Monday night. It had rained before that and they came home a muddy mess, but they had fun. Richard got off work early and met up with me to walk. He decided to stop home and pick up Dixie too. I walked around 3.5 miles. Richard and Dixie walked about 2.5 miles.

Tuesday Colby was supposed to have his field day. I had volunteered to help out. I got an e-mail at 7am saying it was postponed until Friday. The weather was calling for storms, plus they said there were field issues, probably flooding.  I went to the grocery store, made another pasta salad and baked chocolate chip cookies (it was national chocolate chip cookie day).

Blake went on a field trip. Chatham University backs up to their school campus. They have been learning about streams, fish and other natural environments, so they went to Chatham to collect water samples. They also looked at the creatures who live in the stream. After that they went to the garden there and helped work in the garden. They at lunch in the University cafeteria as well. Blake said he had a great time and the campus was “really cool.”

Today is Blake’s field day. We were a bit shocked to not get an e-mail saying it too was cancelled. The rain is now forecast to start at 4 instead of noon like it was last night. So I will be heading over there around noon to help with his field day. Colby is going on a quick walking field trip today. His class is walking over to the lower elementary school across the street. They are going over to read poems to the first graders. He had to write a poem that he shared with his class yesterday and the first graders today.

Tomorrow we are back at mountain biking!

Busy is good.

On a calmer note, we have a new visitor to our bird feeder. Baltimore Orioles. We added an orange sliced in half, added the wilting grapes and are trying to convince the Orioles, and other birds to stay. All four of us enjoy watching the birds visit the feeder. It is so relaxing and such a great way to touch nature.

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Must Have Monday · reviews

Must Have Monday- Water

TTM_MHM

If you ask my kids what I drink they will probably say Coke or Coffee, but the funny thing about that is I don’t drink either of those very often. I have had one cup of coffee every morning, or almost every morning since we got our Keurig. I don’t drink Coke very often either. Richard and I will split a Coke when we go out to eat. I do drink Coke whenever I have a headache. Whenever I get a headache I first drink a coke, then I grab Excedrin (which also has caffeine in it). This works almost every time for me now. I started that when I was having migraines and was trying to avoid taking the prescription medications. The doctor I had at the time suggested Excedrin and said just get extra strength, it has the same ingredients as the migraine version.

Ok…. back on topic. So the what do I actually drink the most of… WATER! I drink water all day long. So over the years I have has a large variety of different water containment devices. Here are a few of my favorites.

At home, I love having my BEAST!  BEAST 30oz Stainless Steel Tumbler Vacuum Insulated Rambler Coffee Cup Double Wall Travel Flask Mug with Splash Proof Lid, 2 Straws, Pipe Brush & Gift Box Bundle By Greens Steel. This double walled medal water cup, with straw works perfectly for me as I spend my day around the house. I fill it up with ice and water first thing in the morning. Then as the day goes on I only need to add more water to the cup. This stays ice cold all day long. There are many days when the ice is still there the next morning. I also like the size. Think about it, three fills equals 90oz of water! I don’t like to travel with this cup because of the size and if you knock it over by mistake the water will spill.

For traveling about, and going to the gym I use my Brita 20 Ounce Sport Water Bottle with 2 Filters – BPA Free – Twin Pack, Blue and Orange. We purchased these originally before our first Disney Cruise. The thought behind it was that we could always create filtered water no matter where we were going.  On that trip we got off the ship in Nassau and didn’t want to drink the water when we were on that island. After that, the boys and I began taking these to school because we could refill them in the school sinks and not drink school sink water. Anyone who has been to an elementary school knows the sinks have a level of funk no matter what you do. I take mine with me when I hike and go to the gym. Now I typically do not put ice in this because it is not insulated and will sweat. But, as I mentioned it has a filter that I like, but it also is spill proof which is why send it with the boys to school. It has a pop up top which is pretty easy to open and close, but for the most part you need to squeeze it to get the water out.

As I mentioned last week, we have two types of water containment devices for biking. All four of us have CamelBak Rogue Crux Reservoir Hydration Pack, Black/Graphite, 2.5 L/85 oz as well as CamelBak Podium Chill Insulated Water Bottle, Periwinkle, 21 oz Fill the pack up with ice and then add in the water. It will stay cold while you drink and bike or hike. I have often seen people have these at Disney as well. The water bottle is contoured to fit safely into the cage on the bike and not slip and slide while you ride. The ones I just got for the boys are insulated and which will help them stay cold longer. One thing to be aware of when using the pack is when you aren’t wearing it make sure the pack it NOT sitting on it’s bite valve. I can not tell you how many times we have put the down and found a puddle later (in the car, in the truck, on the ground, or even the kitchen counter). The water bottle has a twist close top, but just like the Brita bottles they don’t really leak even when open since you need to squeeze it.

Richard has two different water cups that he likes to use. He has a Tervis 1228352 UCF Knights Pregame Prep Tumbler with Wrap and Black Lid 16oz, ClearHe takes water with him to drink on his drive into work every day and then refills the cup with bottle water from work to drink on his drive home. The Tervis Tumbler he uses during the cooler months. He also has a YETI Rambler 20 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler w/ MagSlider Lid, Black. This one he is using now because the water will stay colder and the ice will last beyond his morning drive. These fit perfectly into the cup holders in the truck.

Here you go… my must have for drinking water. Well I need to go refill “The BEAST” and keep drinking water. Do share… what is your favorite water containment device? You never know when I need to find another one.

** post contains product links. please read my disclosure statement.**

family · life

Friday rambles

Yesterday the boys had their second mountain biking lesson. They are really enjoying this. I went for a walk again. This time I didn’t go on the trails, but stayed on the paved areas. I walked just shy of 4 miles. We had a huge rain storm during the day yesterday, but it the weather improved and it was the perfect weather to be out in the park.

Today has been overcast and on the cool side. After breakfast this morning, I went outside and mowed the lawn. I decided to stick my phone in my pocket and put on “map my hike” while I mowed. It was about 1.5 miles and we don’t even have grass on our whole lot just yet. (we haven’t dealt with the back of the lot yet since we want to alter the topography of the lot still) Let me tell you… my hips hurt now.

This means I had four walks over 1 mile this week. I’m trying to get more walks/hikes in each week. I was thinking last night that I should probably find my headphones and start playing music or even a book while I walk during the boys biking class. I am almost done with both of the books I’m reading now. I haven’t decided if I want to start using my kindle before I go to bed or continue to have a real book for reading upstairs in bed.

It looks like we are going to have a soggy weekend. I have no clue what we will end up doing this weekend. We will probably try to get to the gym and the boys are wanting to go biking with Richard to show him the trails they have ridden in class. Lets see if the weather allows that to happen. All I know is Sunday we are having pizza and I’m making more of the garlic rolls I made with Alton Brown’s pizza dough… yum!

Hope you have something fun planned for your weekend.

 

 

food · life · through my camera lens

Rambles and Pasta Salad

Yesterday the boys had their first mountain biking lesson. They left excited to go back on Thursday! That makes it feel like money well spent. While they biked I went off on a hike. I’d hiked over 1 mile when Richard surprised me by showing up to walk with me. I had to hike back out and meet up with him. I ended up hiking/walking over 3 miles in about an hour. I wasn’t doing a good job about pausing my app while texting/talking to Richard in order to figure out where we were going to meet up. So, I’m not sure how long I walked, but I don’t care that was still good hike.

One of the places I came across on my hike has a “forever tree”. This is a tree dedicated to those furry friends who loved North Park, but are no longer with us. People add medal ornaments to the tree to honor these pets. Such a loving tribute.

Today I decided to take my coffee and make it a smoothie. I used 1 cup of chocolate coffee, a splash of chocolate creamer, and 1.5 frozen bananas. I blended it up and called it a drink. It was yummy… I’d show a picture, but I finished it before I decided to share about having it.

While I was having my coffee smoothie I worked on lunch. I know I often talk about the foods I make for the family for dinner, but almost never discuss breakfast or lunch. Part of that is breakfast and lunch is take care of yourself meals. I haven’t made breakfast or lunch for my boys since they were about 5. Most days my lunch is open the fridge and toss whatever I find on top of salad, pasta, rice or something on that idea. I will also eat leftovers as is, but I typically like to reinvent them so they feel new and not just leftovers.

Today, since I went to the grocery store, I decided to make myself a pasta salad. I love pasta salad and is such a great side, but for me… it’s lunch!

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Today’s pasta salad

  • bowtie pasta (about 1/4 a package)
  • zucchini -diced
  • grape or cherry tomatoes (I used a 10oz package) split
  • heavy handful of spinach
  • 1/4 package of broccoli slaw
  • fresh motzarella
  • Italian Dressing (I used Ken’s Simply Vinaigrette Italian)
  • EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder

Cook pasta according to package. When done make sure to rinse in cool water to cool down the pasta

Dice zucchini. Heat EVOO in a skillet. In skillet put half of the tomatoes and zucchini. Dust with garlic powder. When cooked to the texture you like, leave to cool.

Chop of the spinach. Cut the rest of the tomatoes in half. Cut mozzarella into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl place the spinach, broccoli slaw, chopped tomatoes and mozzarella. When pasta and veggie are cooled down add to bowl. Top with dressing and then toss.

Refrigerate. I put it into the fridge for 40 min or so before eating. This is one of those the longer it sits the better it tastes.

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I like the fact that there is more veggies than pasta. You can put in whatever veggie float your boat. I was trying to go for an Italian-ish flavor profile. Do you have a favorite pasta salad? What do you put in yours?

family · life

Cinco de Derby Day

Today was a busy and fun day for our family. We started the day by Richard taking Blake with him to Peace, Love and Little Donuts (Blake is going to write up a review on this as soon as I let him near my computer) and then get gas for the lawnmower.

After breakfast, Richard got the lawnmower going and mowed our lawn here for the first time…. ever! When we lived in Orlando, we mowed the lawn almost all year long. In the spring and fall you mow it once a week, in the summer you need to mow it every 5 days or so and in the winter you can get away with skipping a few weeks depending on the temperatures. Not so much here in Pittsburgh. We will see how often we have to mow as the seasons go on., but at least we know it won’t be all year long.

While Richard did this, I added the baffle to our bird feeder. We now have at least two squirrels fighting over climbing the shepard’s pole to get out our feeders. The boys gave me the baffle shown for my birthday. The nice thing about this baffle is you can attach it to an existing pole without having to take the pole out of the ground. The opening closes up and attaches with a joint closure. I had to adjust the location of our dish feeder. The recommend that when you have a baffle it is located 4-5 feet off the ground.

When I finished this I began fertilizing the yard. We try to fertilize our lawn about once a month. This helps the lawn’s growth and coloring. I need to pick up some more seed so we can add soil and seed to the balder spots in the lawn. But, at least it is coming along.

After that, Colby and I helped Richard install the wire shelves above his work bench. This was a big task, but so worth it because we were able to get more garage thing emptied out of the boxes and put up on these shelves.

After putting up the shelves we had lunch. I had the last of the Thanksgiving salad, I need to make a pasta salad or something next. I like having a simple go to healthy lunch to have around.

The boys took off on their bikes to find friends and Richard and I decided to work on the back of our property. We began by trying to cut back some of the thorn bushes and vines. After getting cut to shreds doing this we decided to change gears and work on cutting a path through the backyard to get to the path to the pond. We completed this task just before the boys returned home.

We then worked on cleaning up the garage and putting things on the shelves while the boys drove their Traxxas trucks. They love driving them on the lot next door and even created a ramp in the muck to jump the trucks. They won’t be able to drive it there much longer since they should start framing that house here soon.

Dinner tonight was chicken salsa over couscous with homemade pico de gallo. We watched the Kentucky Derby and then played a few rounds of Uno Hearts.

Wow that was a busy day, but productive and fun. Hope you enjoyed your Cinco de Derby day.