Thursday, January 27, 2011

The big 40!

Yup, today I celebrate the big 40th birthday! I have had several people ask me if it bothers me to be turning 40 but I am happy to report that it hasn't bothered me at all. Okay, well maybe an itty-bit last week when I recieved a magazine solicitation with a senior discount! I am the first one to say that 40 is not old and certainly doesn't warrant a senior discount.
Anyway now that my birthday is officially here and I am officially 40 years old I have to say that I feel quite good about it. I do not feel any older and in fact due to losing weight-(23 pounds total so far!) and exercising, I might even say I feel younger than I did over the summer!
I am not one to really celebrate too much but since this is considered one of those milestone birthdays we did have friends over last weekend to help celebrate and this weekend I will be celebrating with family which should be fun!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Decluttering 2011 post #2

We've had some really cold temps lately and it's making me want to hibernate! We got spoiled last week by having lots of snow and several snow days. That combined with the cold weather has made it extra hard to get back into our regular routine this week. Who wants to go out early on a Monday morning when the temperature is -11 and the high is only 10!
But I had to be the responsible adult and get the girls off to school and hit the grocery store. Today I am trying to get back on the decluttering track and tackle some of the problem areas.
Due to my procrastination I have a tendency to make piles of papers, books and magazines on the kitchen counter to deal with later. But as a procrastinator later doesn't come. Then we have guests and I move the pile to a corner of the bedroom, again to deal with later until the pile gets crazy big and I am forced to deal with it or risk being buried in a paper avalanche. So today I decided was the day to deal with the pile which mainly consisted of old catalogs, school papers and drawings from the girls, magazines and recipes that I had printed off the internet and ripped out of magazines.
Most of it went into the trash. Books that weren't mine went to the rooms of the respective owners along with notebooks and sketchpads belonging to the kids. I sorted my books into keep and donate piles. I found an empty binder in the pile and put all the recipes that were keepers into it. I want to eventually make a nice little cookbook of favorite recipes but until then the binder serves as a good home and it will make it easy to find the recipes again.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Apple Muffins

I had to make muffins for church yesterday morning and decided that I would try a new recipe. I decided this right before church which means I then tortured myself with worry that they were going to come out yucky. Luckily they didn't. They were good.
Really, really good.
So good that as I type this I am trying to convince myself that I don't need another one, cause i already had one that I really shouldn't have had because I am sure they are packed full of calories because the recipe involves butter, sugar and buttermilk which of course is why it is so tasty.

Anyway here is the recipe, I tweaked it just a bit from the original by adding about a Tbsp. of cinnamon to the batter. I also added a bit of nutmeg to the topping.

Apple Muffins
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups diced apples
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or use liners.
Sift together 2 1/4 cups flour, baking soda and salt. In a seperate bowl mix together the buttermilk, egg, 1/2 cup melted butter, vanilla and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar until sugar has dissolved. Add to the flour mixture along with the diced apple. Stir just until everything is blended. Spoon into the muffin cups filling to the top.
In a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour and cinnamon. Drizzle in the two Tablespoons of melted butter and toss with fork until well blended. Sprinkle generously over tops of the muffins.
Bake for 25 mins or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sledding & Snowmen

The beginning of the winter had been pretty mild with little snow fall. I say had because a lot has changed since the beginning of the month. The kids have had two snow days and a two hour delay in just two weeks time so mother nature is quickly making up for the lack of snow we originally had. After our first real snowstorm of the season we took a nice walk down to the river.

The mighty Mad river getting more and more frozen and snow covered as the winter days wear on.

Most of the snow we have gotten this season has been light and fluffy and not good for making a snowman. On this particular day it had warmed up enough that the snow was just right for making snowballs and snowman. So after a kids vs. adults snowball fight we set about making a snowman.
We named our snowman Julius because his hair kinda reminded us of the the crown of leaves that Julius Caesar wore. He gave a big smile for the camera.

The girls with Julius.

And of course it would be fun to play out in the snow without a few runs down the hill with the sled. The girls getting ready for a ride together.

Here goes Becca!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Slumber Parties,Snow Days and Delays

Well Becca's birthday slumber party was a success. The girls had a great time giggling, talking, playing video games and watching movies. The noise level was bearable most of the time and they had a nice long weekend to recover. And when I say long weekend, I mean long weekend. The kids already had Monday off for MLK day and then got a bonus day off on Tuesday do to a snow/rain/ ice storm which also caused a two hour delay on Wednesday morning. Sooo I am finally getting back into a normal routine.
I did want to share a few pictures from the past weekend.

Not a great pic except that Tuukka was sitting in the circle with the girls while Becca opened her gifts.

I made both a small 6 inch chocolate cake and then vanilla cupcakes because most of the girls prefer vanilla to chocolate-go figure!

An I did make one more decoration for the party. Paper dolls of each of the girls. I think they came out pretty cute!

And a little picture of the snow during one of my walks in the woods with the dogs.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Birthday Mode

I've been in birthday mode this past week getting ready for my daughters slumber party tomorrow night. I have a tendency to get all Martha Stewart and decide I want to make 101 diffrent little things for the party. Then again my children have a tendency to pick themes that aren't readily available as party decorations, like Willy Wonka or the Australian Outback so that just fuels my creative juices. I actually have it pretty easy with Becca this year. She just wants a slumber party with her closest girlfriends and she's chosen rainbowy, tie-dye peace and love type stuff which was easy enough too find. Too easy for me in fact, since I had gotten somenew Cricut cartridges and was just dying to use them. So I had to make just a few decorations. The first thing I made was a little banner with some cute tie-dye paper I found online. Then it was onto party favors.
Last year Becca had a similar theme and the girls made tye-die t-shirts and that was their party favor to bring home. The process was suprisingly easy and there was minimal mess plus the girls had a new t-shirt so I gave Becca the option to do it again this year and she chose not to which meant I needed another idea. Luckily I had an idea up my sleeve and Becca loved it.

It is not my original idea but it is super cute and easy to do!
Presenting Fuzzy Sock Cupcakes!

Just roll up a pair of fuzzy socks starting at the toe. Wrap a rubber band around it to keep them from unrolling. Stick in a cupcake wrapper and put a little pompom on top for a cherry! I used my cricut and the cupcake wrappers cartridge for the wrapper.(it says party time) If you don't have a cricut there are several templates online if you do a quick search.

I also made a few other decorations, also with my cricut. These have a general birthday theme and I will be pulling these out every year. I like to hang things from the light above our kitchen table so I made these two sided and strung them up with some embrodery floss. I strung on some colored pompoms and used some sticky backed foam stars. These images are from the Simply Charmed cartridge that is packed full of super cute images. I also stuck some googly eyes on the faces because googly eyes make everything cuter! As is always the case when I begin crafting I get more and more ideas but then run out of time to finish them all! With the party quickly approaching we'll see how many more things I can squeeze it...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Could there be a better combination for a winter treat than hot chocolate and cupcakes?? How about putting the two together and making a hot chocolate cupcake?
Now that's what I'm talking about, right?
I found the recipe in a recent issue of Family Circle Magazine and Kenzie decided that she wanted to make them for her class holiday party, so of course we did!
I think they came out super cute looking like little cups of hot cocoa.
Here's the recipe featured in the December issue of Family Circle Magazine-
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsps. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 Tbsps. plus 2 tsp. milk or water
1 1/4 cups mini marshmallows
3 candy canes
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Fill 1 cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
In a medium sized bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, with mixer on medium high, beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, aobut 2 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in flour mixture alternately with
milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes our clean. Remove cupcakes
from pan to wire rack and let cool.
In a medium size bowl with mixer on low speed, beat confectioners sugar, shortening and milk or water until smooth. Spread over cupcakes then top each with 7 or 8 mini-marshmallows. With a serrated knife, cut wrapped candy canes into 2 inch pieces. Unwrap and place one in each cupcake.
Now this recipe only makes 12 cupcakes and I needed 17 for Kenzie's class. So I acually cheated and just used a boxed chocolate cake mix. I could have tried doubling the recipe but sometimes with baking that doesn't always work.(at least in my experience) So rather than take a chance I cheated. They were still yummy and a big hit with the kids. I have tried the recipe and it is good!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Decluttering 2011 post #1

I have decided that 2011 will be the year of decluttering in our household. Fighting clutter is a constant battle for me and I would really like to get rid of it all once and for all. My husband would like nothing more also. In fact he would just like to get a ginormous dumpster and throw it all away and there are days that I am in total agreement. But it isn't that simple as I have a bit of packrat in my blood. I blame this on my creativity because I constantly think ooo I can make something out of that or save magazines for article that have crafts or recipes that I want to try. The problem is I almost never actually do said idea and so the clutter builds...

But this is the year to get firm (or get real) with myself and get rid of things piling up and collecting dust in closets, under beds and even in the crawlspace and attic. I am ashamed to admit there are boxes in our crawlspace that have never been unpacked since we moved here.

We've lived here eight years.

Yea, it' glaringly obvious that they are things that we don't need. Much of it is toys, craft supplies, books and who knows what? Stuff that really isn't important anymore.

Books are a major source of clutter as I love them, but now that I got a Nook for Christmas I feel that it will be easier to get rid of them, not all of them, but almost all of them...

So today I gathered up 20 books and donated them and you know what?

It felt good!

Reaaallly good.

I also donated two bags of clothes.

Yay Me!

Friday, January 07, 2011


I am a huge fan of books.

I think I may have mentioned that once or twice.

Anyway, as a fan of books I didn't pay too much attention to the ereaders whose popularity seems to be growing. I wasn't interested because I like to hold and feel and yes, even the smell of books so why would I need one of those fancy ereaders?

Then my husband who is a total techno-geek started putting these crazy ideas in my head.

Telling me if I got one of those newfangled colorNooks I could surf the interweb and have access to thousands of books.


No waiting for the UPS man or driving 40 minutes(yes 40 minutes!) to the nearest Barnes and Noble or Walden books at the mall.

That got my attention.

And not just books he told me, but newspapers and magazines, too!


Wicked Cool.

Then he told me HE wanted one for Christmas. Dude doesn't even read!

Okay he reads, but mostly magazines.

So I suggested I get him one for Christmas but we can share it.

"No Way!" he tells me. "I know how much you like to read and I'll never get to use it. Plus I want to hack it and do cool stuff with it."

Maybe... but I still really like real books.

But he got me thinking.

There is no rule that says once you have a Nook (or any ereader) that you can't ever buy or read a real book. Then I really started to think about the amount of actual books I have that are taking up space, lots and lots of space. Not just on bookshelves but in the closet and under the bed, creating clutter which I am constantly struggling with.

The same with magazines -more space and clutter and trees being cut down.

So I got him one for Christmas and by the time Christmas rolled around I decided I really wanted one too. I Even told my mother-in-law on Christmas day thats what I wanted for my birthday.

What I didn't know at that time was that my husband had already gotten me one for Christmas, only he waited until everyone had already left before he gave it to me.

For the extra drama.

And guess what?

I love it!

I wasn't sure I would, but I do.

Just the idea of carrying a bunch of books around with me is really cool.

I can surf the web.

I can still trade books with my mom because she got one too.

I can read books for free at a Barnes and Noble, not that I needed an excuse to hang out at Barnes and Noble...

I don't need a light to read by.

I can read any book I want instantly.

I find it comfortable to hold and I don't have to worry about holding a book open so it makes it easier to hold and sip my coffee when I curl up to read.

No more stacks of books and magazines to trip over and collect dust. Okay I am still working on this one. It will take some time to get rid of my books and there are some that I will always keep but the intent of less clutter is there.

I 'm saving trees.

So if you are really into books but think you won't like one, I would reconsider.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Back on Track

So the holidays have come and gone and it's time to get back on the weight loss track. Just before Christmas I was down 21 pounds but I gave myself freedom to eat whatever I wanted for Christmas and New Years. It was my reward for being so good after a week in Disney and during Thanksgiving where I tried to be good and didn't gain any weight. I didn't lose any either, but not gaining was key for me. But for Christmas I ate whatever I wanted and enjoyed every minute of it. Actually that isn't entirely true. To be totally honest as New Years day crept up (and I was starting to get heartburn) I was feeling ready to get back to the healthier eating and exercise. The last few days I did get back into walking the dogs out in the woods so that may have helped me to only gain two pounds. It has been a little hard getting back to eating healthy and my biggest downfall was probably the salty chips and dip. Suprisingly I craved those more than sweets! And I still have been craving them a little bit...
Something else that has helped me get back on track is that one of my favorite food blogs has recently posted some new healthy recipes complete with the new points totals! Check them out here.
When Weight Watchers changed their points totals that screwed me up a bit because it meant re-doing all the points totals for all the foods I ate on a regular basis and this was a bit upsetting.
Again just another little bump in the road as I continue on my weight loss journey!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Monday, January 03, 2011

Back to Reality....or Not

It's the Monday after New Years and all the decorations are put away. The kids get ready for school a little reluctantly. They want to reconnect with friends but aren't really ready to settle back into the routine of school yet. I grab my purse and shopping list as we head out to the car, I've enjoyed having everyone home and am reluctant to get back into the daily routine also.

As the kids buckle up I put the key in the ignition and turn the key

RRRrrr and then nothing.

I try again. RRrrclick nothing.

Car won't start.

I tell the kids to go back into the house, we're not going anywhere.

'Darn we really wanted to go to school' they both admit each with a little twinkle in their eye.

Not today girls we just got an extra day of vacation!

This doesn't really upset anyone too much.

We hung out and made chocolate chip cookies.

What does upset me is that my car won't start and I don't know why and even if I did know why

I wouldn't be able to fix it anyway. I'll have to wait for Dom to come home to diagnose and hopefully fix it.
For the record it was a dead battery.

Christmas Roundup 2010

One of the suprises of this Christmas season was little snow on the ground. The day after Christmas did bring some blizzard like conditons but when all was said and done we probably only had 8 inches or so on the ground. It was still a few days after that before the kids could actually go out and enjoy the new fallen snow because of the wind and freezing temps.

The snow also brought the realization that I had forgotten to see if the kids winter boots and snowpants fit. Becca was a no go on the boots and snowpants. Kenzie was a no go on the boots.

How dare they grow over the course of the year!!

One of the highlights of this Christmas season was seeing all the little little kids-Molly, Abby and meeting little Ari for the first time. He's so sweet!
Kenzie is hiding in there.

The girls making sugar cookies for Santa.

I managed to snap a quick picture before the kids tore into their presents!

And a document of Christmas wouldn't be complete without the Christmas morning mess!