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)

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book · family · life

With May Came Spring!

Finally we have had spring weather. The windows are open. Everyone is wearing shorts (don’t look at our scary white legs). It feels good to finally feel like spring is here to stay (we won’t discuss the fact that we had flurries on Sunday).

Today I went shopping. Blake decided that he needed new school shorts. Let me tell you something shorts for boys are hard to find. I do not let my sons wear athletic shorts to school. I make them wear cargo, jeans or something on that idea. Yes, add this to my mean mom criteria. I just see school as their job and I’m going going to work in workout clothes unless I work at a gym or something on that idea. I want them to see that play clothes are play clothes not play and school/work clothes. So after three different stores (Target, TJMaxx and Kohls) I managed to get him 5 pairs of shorts. There was not a pair of jeans shorts anywhere. Oh well!

In my shopping, I did pick up a few shirts for myself, some pajamas and new bedding for our bedroom. We haven’t got new bedding for our own bed in a quiet a few years and it was time for an update! I picked up a few shirts for Blake and Colby as well. Plus Richard needed a new wallet.

I don’t go out shopping very often beyond the grocery store and Costco… so when I shop… I shop!

When the boys got home from school we headed over to Costco. Blake got new glasses this weekend and they were ready to be picked up. We actually got him glasses and prescription sunglasses. He was very happy since he’s never been able to wear sunglasses. Both the boys now have to order adult size glasses. This was a challenge, but worked out fine. I also picked up a package while I was there. Richard ordered me a new laptop. I’ve had this one for quite a while and it was refurbished at the time. I’m excited for him to come home and set it up. The one I have/had couldn’t hold a charge for the last two years so it really is a stationary laptop now. It will be nice to have a lighter laptop that hold a charge so I can use it where ever I want, not just at the end of my island.

My parent purchased me a Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – Black, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers that I started playing with today. I finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 3) yesterday so today I downloaded a book to read. I set up Goodreads first and downloaded Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series. I’ve only read the prologue so I won’t share anything about it yet, but I will. Hmmm maybe I’ll take my kindle outside and read later?

I hope spring has sprung in your part of the world. Time to make dinner. We are have quesadillas tonight…. so easy! I have one more recipe from Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, Roasted Thanksgiving Salad.  This one is healthy and tasty and full of veggies.

family · food

Wheat Berries

It’s snowing again… what?? This weekend we were wearing shorts today I’m wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. It’s only 33F outside and won’t get much warmer. Tomorrow is forecast to be in the 50s and then there is snow in the forecast again for Thursday. What is wrong with this picture?

Yesterday we had FFY (fend for yourself) dinner. Richard had to work late at a planning meeting that ended in dinner out. So I used it as an opportunity to try a new grain. A few weeks ago, I purchased wheat berry. I decided to make this to have for dinner. I found the directions on Genius Kitchen, I bought the wheat berries from the bulk section so I didn’t have any kind of directions. It was pretty easy to make. You started by toasting the wheat berries in the pan which was neat since they pop and even started to smell almost popcorn like. Then you add 2c of water to the 1c wheat berries. It cooks for about 1hr. I did end up needing to add a bit more water, which the recipe said might happen.

I put the wheat berries into a bowl and topped it with steak, cheddar cheese, carrots and a bit of ceasar dressing. Both Colby and Blake tried the wheat berries too. Colby really liked then and considered having it for his dinner, but he already had started making pasta. He did try it topped with alfredo since he was making it for his pasta and said it was really good. Blake tried one bite and didn’t make a big deal over it and said he liked it better than quinoa.

I like finding new things to try especially healthier versions of things we like. Now, I would not call this a replacement for rice or pasta, but it was good. It will make a nice topper for salads or an addition to a pasta salad.

Have you tried wheat berries? Any recipes with wheat berries that I should try? What ancient grains have you tried and liked?

Hope the world is bright and sunny where you are… if so send some to me here in western PA… I’m over winter. Let’s finish loading spring!

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food · life · reviews

Ice cream cookie sandwiches

This weekend found us wearing shorts and t-shirts. We spent most of our time outside being active and doing yard work. Today… not so much. I had to switch the thermostat from having the A/C on to having the heat on before we went to bed last night,. We had the air on because it was in the high 70s/ low 80s, but raining so the windows couldn’t be open. We needed the A/C on both Friday night and Saturday night for sleeping. We woke up to rain again, but now the temperatures were in the 40s. The temperature has dropped today and we actually had flurries earlier in the day.

On Sunday, we decided to head over to Costco and do a bit of shopping. We spent way too much money, but hey we don’t go very often. We purchased more meats, ziplock bags, Excedrin and snacks for the boys. These are items that I now won’t have to buy again for quite a while. We also purchased a ceiling fan for the morning room, light bulbs and clothes for Richard and I. One random thing we did pick up was a package of chocolate chip cookies. When we used to shop of BJ’s Warehouse we really enjoyed their chocolate chip cookies. We thought these would be similar. When we tried them we were disappointed.

icecream copy

So, what does one do when you have cookies that are just ok? Well, we decided to pick up some ice cream and make ice cream sandwiches. I stopped at the grocery store after I worked out at the gym (that makes the 4th day in a row that I got a workout of some kind in… progress). I picked up 3 different kinds of ice cream. My sons do not like the same kind of ice cream, and well they were on sale 3 for $10 so I got a flavor for Richard too.

Making cookie ice cream sandwiches is so easy to make. Let the ice cream get a bit soft. Put a scoop of ice cream between two cookies. Press the top cookie down a bit to settle out the ice cream layer. I then wrap each cookie into plastic wrap and freeze. Hopefully this will help with the cookie, if not… well we have ice cream to have!

Next time, I’ll have to make my own cookies, and ice cream… yummm homemade ice cream, now that is something I haven’t made in a while.

family · life · through my camera lens

Busy Spring Saturday

Spring! Spring! Yeah… it’s spring! And we have been doing a lot outside… that is where you should be when it’s spring!

04_13_bc_01

04_13_c_01After having a steak dinner yesterday, we headed back into the woods. I wanted to show Richard and the boys some of the paths I traveled. We decided to cut down through our own property and see if we could clear out a safe path to use on a regular basis to get down into the woods behind our house. I think there are a few good choices. We just need to clear out a04_13_b_02 bunch of thorn bushes, all of us ended up with cuts from the thorn bushes. One crazy thing… all four of us put tick spray on. Only one person came home with ticks… ME! I pulled at least 6 ticks off and then spent the night thinking there were more on me. Why me? Gesh!

Today, we got up and had a slow morning. We headed to the gym so the boys could go to their “little lifters”. They have really enjoyed this, too bad there is only one more week. plantersBut, the good thing is they have learned a lot of things that they will be able to do on their own. This will be good going forward especially in the summer when I plan to have them workout on the days we head there to use the pool.

After the gym, we went to DiBellas for subs and then to Lowes (if you follow my blog regularly you probably have noticed this is our regular Saturday pattern). While we were at Lowes, we picked up plants, new planters, potting soil, fertilizer and a few other things. Colby helped me pick out the plants to go in the planter and the hanging plant we purchased.  When we got home we set to work. Richard and I worked on getting the new planters set up. Dixie decided she needed to do some digging too.

We then went into the backyard and Richard began digging holes. This is not an easy task. Digging holes should not require more work with the pick ax than the shovel. He planted the Christmas tress that we purchased to use on the front porch for part of the04_14_c_03 Christmas decoration with the intent on planting them in the backyard. Even though it was a lot of work we will probably keep with this tradition next year.

While Richard was working on the holes, I spread out the butterfly/humming bird seed mix that we picked up at Lowes on sale a few weeks ago. I then went and fertilized the front yard. We need to do something to get the grass a bit greener. Since there is rain in our forecast for tonight and most of tomorrow we wanted to get some of these tasks done so the rain can do it’s job too.

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For dinner we decided to head to Red Robin (YUMMM!) Richard needed to go to the hobby shop to get a new motor for his Traxxas truck, so why not go out to eat too? We all splurged and got milkshakes which is a great treat (Richard: Oreo, Blake: chocolate, Colby: Vanilla, Me: Caramel). We figured we had burned a few extra calories today.

So I’d call today a success. We will see how much rain we get tonight and tomorrow, we need it! The big thing on my agenda for tomorrow is making pizza dough for Stromboli. The last few times I’ve tried to make pizza dough it didn’t workout… keep your fingers crossed I figure it out this time.

life · through my camera lens

Spring hike to the pond

Image may contain: flower, plant, outdoor and natureSpring has sprung! Finally I have the windows open and the sun is shining. I was able to get out and do a bit of yard work and then went for a 2 mile hike around the neighborhood. I actually went exploring the wooded area behind the house. There is a pond back there that I had checked out yet and I wanted for a few reasons. I walked to the pond one way and home a different way. It was nice to get out and see what I could find literally right in my backyard.

This weekend we will continue to have temperatures in the 70s, but the rain is coming. We are forecast for a huge storm starting on Saturday afternoon and raining through Monday. Oh well… I’ll enjoy the sun today. I think I’ll make some lunch and then read for a bit. Having the windows open is nice and there is a beautiful breeze.

Here are a few of the pictures I took on my walk in the woods.

 

I did see a few woodland creatures too. The rabbit was out in our backyard this morning. I took this picture while having my coffee. The butterfly was on one of the trails I was following. This was an actual trail, opposed to some of the deer trails I ended up on what may or may not have been made by humans at one point, but were not kept up at all. (lots of thorns were found in this section) The goose is on the pond I went searching out. The robin was on the backside of the hill in our yard that I was checking out while I was out in nature.

Hope you enjoy your Friday and weekend!

 

life · reviews

Does mother nature know the date?

Today was another blowy snowy day. Does Mother Nature know that it is April 8th? Is Jack Frost trying to take over this spring season this year? What is going on. I’m ready for temperatures above the 40s and no more snow. I don’t think this is too much to ask.

It was a lazy day for me. I got to sleep in, or at least stay in bed late since the boys decided they needed to sit outside my door and bug the dog while talking loudly. When I finally came downstairs I decided coffee was needed. I never drank coffee until I moved here. My parents bought us a Keurig to have here so they could make coffee and as well as my in-laws when they come to stay. Well as the winter got colder I went from making hot chocolate in it to making flavored coffee. I needed that extra kick of caffeine.

VanillaCoffee-Mate Natural Bliss Chocolate All-NaturalNatural Bliss Salted Caramel

I only have flavored coffee with flavored creamer in it. I’ve found I really like CoffeeMate Natural Bliss creamer. The one I use is made with real milk and cream, they have others with almond milk, coconut milk and honey. I’ve actually never tried the other ones. I typically get chocolate or vanilla, but have also tried the caramel flavored too. They are really good and do not have an artificial flavor like traditional flavored coffee creamers.

Most days I have one cup of coffee while I get the boys out the door, today was a two cup day and I wasn’t even getting the kids up and going. Maybe the fact that my head is super congested contributed to my need for an extra cup of coffee?

I’m not sure if my coffee drinking will continue once it is not so cold in the mornings or not, but I can’t tell you yet since it isn’t anywhere near warm. So I’ll continue to enjoy my coffee with Natural Bliss creamer.

 

 

life

blogger laziness and a bit of rambles

Yesterday I was a slacker blogger. You may have noticed that I just popped off a quick post at the end of the day yesterday. I was at the school from 7:20 until 2:00 helping out with the Science Olympiad. It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast. Colby came home from school exhausted as I’m sure most of the kids did. This was their last school day before testing starts, so that was a fun way to prep for state testing. Blake has testing the next 2 weeks and Colby has testing the next 3 weeks.

I also didn’t read anyone else’s blog yesterday, that is normally a morning time thing for me, so I tried to plow through a lot of them today. I try to keep up with most of the bloggers who leave comments on my blog. I always feel this is the start of a conversation/ a kinship/ a something and when I know that you are reading and commenting on my blog, then I’m more drawn into reading yours on a regular basis. Others, I tend to read if they peek my interest. Am I the only one who blogs this way?

This week has been a revisiting of winter for us. We had some type of snow every day and woke up to a little over an inch of accumulated snow today again. Ok… I’m done with winter now. Can we move onto spring?

This weekend will be a slow keep life simple weekend. We will try to stay on our normal routines and get the kids to bed at a reasonable time. I really hate state testing, yes I know I’m a teacher, yes I know there is a need for accountability, but this still doesn’t feel like it is it. At least here in this school district (or at least this school) they don’t stress the kids out as much over the whole thing. My sons don’t feel the pressure as much as they did in FL.

This coming week also finds me finally going and taking the PA teacher tests. I am not stressing out over this… it is what it is. I am not going to study. I’m not going to do anything but show up and take the test. I’m totally in the mode of if it is meant to be I’ll be fine.  If not… Oh well. (part of me know that I’ll be totally ticked with myself if I don’t pass… I don’t do failure well!)

Well… time to get ready to head to the gym. I wonder what the boys will do this week in their little lifters class? I’m dragging and my throat is scratchy so we will see how much energy I have for working out today. But… I’m going and that is a start.

Happy Saturday!

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Snow brings out smiles

So as I mentioned on Wednesday, we got a snow storm to start off the season of spring. Yesterday, Richard decided to work from home. After the boys finished their homework, and Richard finished up his last work meeting they all decided to go outside while I was making dinner.

 

It was in the high 30s, but there was little to no wind. This means that the snow is starting to melt. This didn’t stop the boys from going out on their sleds and snow scooters. Richard went out with Dixie and was tossing snowballs with her. It is too funny to watch this as she doesn’t understand why the ball disappears when she catches it.

 

Richard and Colby decided to make a snowman, but it turned into more of a snow mound. I said it looked like a stalagmite instead of a snowman. They got the shovels out and where shoveling all the snow around the back door and using it to make it huge. This mound was almost as tall as Richard.

There were snowballs, laughter and smiles for everyone. It may have been cold and snowy the last few days. Too many of us may have head colds and be blowing our nose more than we’d want. But, the moments when we can do things together. To have fun and smile… that is what makes family moments worth it all.