Monday, April 30, 2012

Muffin Tin Monday School Lunch

Muffin Tin Monday here.  Pierce had a bento lunch last week that was cute and healthy that I thought I would share.

A crabby skewer of sliced kiwi, some grape tomatoes, a few Annie's cheddar bunnies, a cheese fish shaped sandwich on a bed of roasted seaweed with an olive eye and a strawberry smile.  Pierce ate everything.

For more fun kids' lunch ideas, check out Muffin Tin Mom.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flowers for Leontien from The Florally Challenged

Leontien is the author of the blog Four Leaf Clover Tales, and she's had a rough year.  She's in her second battle with breast cancer.  I think of her frequently during my days, wishing her well, sending her healing thoughts.  She handles her illness with such grace and determination, despite the obstacles.  And so today the blogging community is uniting to send her virtual flowers. 

There was just one issue with my sending her virtual flowers...we have had heavy rains here for days, which have obliterated the two flowers I have.  What to do, what to do?  Why send my old neighbor JP (who is an avid flower gardener) a text to see if I can head over to Home in the Hollow for a few pics. 

Since these aren't my flowers, I don't know what they are.  So I can't impress you with random tidbits of flower knowledge.  Quite the opposite.  Furthermore, I am not much of a flower photographer (and I seem to be having issues with my camera focusing anyhow, ever since it got dropped on Easter).  So my apologies, Leontien, if my overall bouquet is a little shabby, I'm just not good at flowers!  Hopefully, it's the thought that counts.







I hope these flowers serve to cheer your heart and lift your spirits!  I look forward to the day your strength returns and you are once again blogging tales of crazy Americans, dairy farming, horses, and love stories. 

Please participate if you'd like to send Leontien some support!  You can find the link up on A Rural Journal.  Thanks to Nancy, Buttons, and TexWisGirl for coordinating this event! 

FOUR $10 Starbucks Gift Cards - Giveaway

Like most of you, on Monday we had some nasty weather.  After dropping the twins off at preschool, it was time for my usual run (I have to take advantage of fitting in my runs wherever I can).  When I pulled into the parking lot it was gray, windy, and cold, but I set out anyhow.  I'm a little behind in my mileage this month, so I can't afford to toss away opportunities to run at this point.

It started raining a mile into it.  Cold, drippy rain plastered my running tights and jacket.  I had not thought to wear a ball cap, and water ran in rivulets down my face, into my eyes.  It wouldn't have been so bad, except gusts of frigid wind beat against my wet clothes.  Cold. Wet.  But I was out!  I was running!  And then?  Four miles into it?  The batteries in my radio died.  And while I do run without music (in fact, I never race with music, as I want to focus), it was just an added insult. 

What I needed, at this point, was a boost to my spirits.  Well, heck, I needed a bribe!  And so, I promised myself a treat after I finished my run.  I promised myself a steaming latte from Starbucks, using the gift card my aunt and uncle gave me for Christmas. 

And so it was.  Soggy and shivering, I completed my 7 mile run and drove myself right around the corner to the nearest Starbucks.  Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte in hand, I had a luxurious 35 minutes to warm up in the car and do a little reading before picking up the twins.  Nice.

Want to treat yourself?  I have four (that's right, FOUR!!) $10 Starbucks gift cards to giveaway this week, thanks to Logallot, where you can learn all sorts of wonderful tips about blogging.  To enter, just click on the "Read More" under my signature.
Disclaimer:  I did not receive anything in exchange for this giveaway.  However, I know ya'll love Starbucks, so I was happy for the chance to offer it! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spreading the Love of Reading with World Book Night

Last January, I was reading a book blog (sorry, can't remember which one) and it mentioned something called World Book Night.  I'd never heard of it, but went to their website to read more.  It's a way to spread the love of reading, person to person.  They were looking for people to be givers - that would go out in their community on World Book Night - April 23rd - to give away books to people who were nonreaders. 

I decided to apply.  My community is a tiny rural community, filled mostly with farmers and retired folks, and I thought it would be nice to spread some reading joy.  The World Book Night site offered 30 different books to choose from, many of which I had read.  I chose the book Peace Like A River because I felt like it would appeal to the folks where I live. 
 I was so excited to be accepted into the program.  Then I had to figure out where to give them away.  On a Monday night.  You know what's open on a Monday night in the little town (and I do use the term town loosely)?  Two gas stations and a Subway.  I didn't want to give them away at a gas station, so I contacted the owners of the Subway, and they were happy to have me there.  They even said that next year, if they knew in advance, they'd put it on their marquis to advertise it.
When the first two people I offered books to (both of whom were perhaps what some might consider 'good old boys') rejected me, I thought it was going to be a rather long night!  But after that everyone I approached was excited to get a free book.  They couldn't believe they were free!  People kept asking how much they cost, and saying you just don't get things for free anymore.  A few mistakenly assumed I was the author.  One, a teacher, was thrilled to see someone out promoting reading.  Many were intrigued, when I explained briefly how the novel unfolds (it is a wonderful read).  And I felt good to be bringing the happiness of a good book to random people in my region.  I hope that they crack open Peace Like A River and don't put it down until they are done! 

If you are an avid reader who would like to spread the love of reading in your community, you might check out the website and apply next year! 

Disclaimer: I was not required to blog about this in exchange for being part of this program (and I did not receive anything for doing so) - I just wanted to share the information to help World Book Night get the information out for next year.  I think it's a wonderful thing that they are doing.

On a side note, a special thanks to those of you who entered The Tissue Box Challenge!  First place was Nouveau Soccer Mom and second place was Teach Beside Me.  Congrats!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Best Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup - Rural Thursday

Last week I was sick.  Sooooo sick.  Oh I had the worst throat infection!  I got some antibiotics, but I was miserable while waiting for them to kick in, and only able to tolerate drinking smoothies.  Smoothies are good...until they are all you get to eat for two days...and then they get old very fast.  Finally, I thought I would be able to handle some soup.  I wanted chicken noodle soup, and I had some cooked chicken leftover from one of our chickens to use up.  I ended up tossing a bunch of ingredients in the crockpot and it made the best chicken noodle soup I've ever done!  It's creamy, but not too rich, and has excellent flavor.  You might even call it "Get Well Soon" soup. 
Ingredients:
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
3 cloves of minced garlic (I added extra to boost my immune system, but you could reduce this)
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 tbsp. parsley
40 ounces chicken broth
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cups egg noodles, cooked
Pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except the noodles in the slow cooker and stir well.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.  Add noodles and heat through just before serving. 

Enjoy!

It's Rural Thursday, and I'd love for you to link up with me and Nancy from A Rural Journal.  You just need to write a blog post with a rural mindset.  Like the comfort food of chicken noodle soup.  Or so many other topics!  To join in, grab the button code below and paste it into your blog post.  Then come back and link up your direct url into the linky.  That's it!  Please be sure to visit at least 5 of your fellow participants and leave them some comment love on their blogs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Signs (Literally) that You Might Be in Colonial Williamsburg

First time I've ever linked up with a Wordless Wednesday, but I just couldn't resist.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg, Part II, The Bruton Parish Church Cemetery

I love old cemeteries.  Two of my favorites, up to this point, would be Saint Louis Cemetery #1 in New Orleans, and the cemetery in the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas.  But the cemetery surrounding the Bruton Parish Church in Colonial Williamsburg was quite fantastic too.
 I wished we had a brochure to accompany the cemetery, but we did not.  Nor did they have any informative plaques about.  But some of the tomb markers were quite clear and readable:
 There were so many different styles of tombs spread about.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get close to most of them, as there were boundaries and ropes set up.  So I had to settle for snapping pictures from afar, while wondering what was written on the stone.

 A pair of confederate soldiers-

They just don't make tomb stones like this anymore.

We found a sundial.  Pierce asked how it worked and I explained.  Then I tried to tell the time.  It looked like it was around 11:00.  I said, "I must be no good at this, because there is no way it's that late already".  I dug in the stroller and pulled out my cell phone.  It was 11:10.  Hey, sundials work!

It was interesting that some of the tombstones were right next to the church.  Usually you see graves set back from the church a bit, but this church had them all about the periphery, right up next to it.

We would've loved to have toured the church (Pierce was begging to go inside) but they were closed for a service at the time.  Maybe another trip.
I bet the interior is almost as interesting as the exterior!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Flowers on Muffin Tin Monday

Are you seeing many spring flowers at your house?  The twins and Pierce love to go on walks and look for flowers.  They are so sweet as they often bring me dandelions. 

I decided to do a spring flower theme for Muffin Tin Monday for the boys.
The blue tins are roses, and the pink tin (Pierce's) has assorted flower shapes.  The boys had some Asian style grass fed beef, beef seasoned rice, edamame, strawberries, the last of our pickled beets that I canned last summer, and a coconut brownie.  The coconut brownie is a recipe I created to use coconut oil, and you can find the recipe here.  They're pretty tasty!

For more fun ideas of cooking with kids, check out Muffin Tin Mom. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Family Four Pack of AMC Movie Tickets - Giveaway

When is the last time you went to the movies?  I confess it's been ages for me.  When Black Swan came out in the theatres, I made a special point to sneak out with my friend Joan to watch it, because ballet has always intrigued me (even if I hated actually practicing ballet as a kid).  Plus, it seemed like everyone on twitter was raving about it.  But I haven't been to the movies since.  It's gotten expensive, so it's a splurge I don't do very often.  Last time I went with my husband was when I was very pregnant with Pierce - now that's been a long time!  We went to see Little Miss Sunshine.  I remember feeling victorious that I only had to make one trip to the bathroom during the course of the film. 
Google Image

So if your budget is tight like mine, maybe you'd like a chance to win 4 tickets to AMC movie theatres?  One lucky reader will win 4 passes!  This giveaway is sponsored by Logallot - where you can read all sorts of wonderful tips about making your blog successful.
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway, so just click on the "Read More" under my signature to enter. 

Disclaimer: I did not receive anything in exchange for this giveaway.  I knew it would be of interest to my readers.  Opinions expressed are my own. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Jungle Roo Cloth Diapers Review and Giveaway

I've been cloth diapering the twins for close to two years now.  It's become such a part of my daily life that I don't think about it much anymore.  It was the right choice for our family, because we like to reduce our carbon footprint where we can, and because it was cost effective.  But it was also a good choice for our family because I've got one child prone to diaper rash, and another prone to eczema, and soft cloth diapers make for happier bottoms.  Plus, cloth diapers have personality! 

I've always wanted to do a cloth diaper review, but had never had the opportunity, probably because I just don't blog about it too often (even though it is our primary form of diapering, and I do love it).  Recently, Jungle Roo Cloth Diapers sent me a direct message on twitter to see if I would be interested in doing a review and giveaway for them.  So I went and checked out their website and loved all their fun choices - giraffes and sharks and all sorts of cuteness to choose from.  I picked the tiger roo minky - my high school mascot was the tiger, so I'm still a little partial.
 The tiger minky roo has a leakproof exterior suedecloth lining that will not pill after numerous washings.  Three rows of rise adjustment snaps allow it to fit from 9-30 pounds and the hip snaps prevent wing droop. 
 The diaper includes a 3 layer microfiber insert. 
 Reid was a little bit shy about modeling diapers.  Meanwhile, Cort was quite jealous, begging for a chance to wear the "tiger diaper" and have his picture taken.  Cort, however, is potty trained, so he was out of luck this time. 
 I thought the fit was really good.  As Reid romped around I didn't notice any big gaps in the legs or anything.  He seemed quite comfortable in it as well. 
 The microfiber insert wasn't quite as thick as some others we've tried, so if you have a very heavy wetter at night, you might want to use a second insert.  They have extra inserts available at very reasonable prices.  Personally, we didn't encounter any leaks, so it was effective for us as is.  And the cuteness factor on these diapers is outstanding!

Want a chance to win a Jungle Roo Cloth Diaper?  It's the perfect way to celebrate Earth Day, one of my favorite holidays!  Just click on the "Read More" beneath my signature for a chance to enter.  You might check them out on twitter and Facebook.  They are doing a fantastic sale right now through Earth Day of their bestselling 6 packs of diapers for $99.  You can also use the code TWOBEARS for an extra 18% off any order, from now until May 1st. 

Disclaimer:  I was provided with one Jungle Roo diaper for review purposes.  The opinions stated above are my own. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 20, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg, The Governor's Palace

The weather was chillier than normal on the day the boys and I went to Colonial Williamsburg.  We picked up 'Kids Spring Adventure Maps' for all 3 boys which allowed them to collect hole punches on various places to save up to earn a keepsake pin.  It was tough to tear Pierce away from the chalk boards at The Gateway Building.
 
But I wanted to tour the Governor's Palace before the wait got too long.  There was already about a 20 minute wait to get in when we got there, at around 9:10 am. 

Pierce was a little horrified by all the guns, and said so quite loudly.  I must be doing my job right (ha ha).  I spent 5 years as a juvenile probation officer, and I can't help myself - I want my boys to understand that guns are never to be thought of as playthings. 

I confess that the ornateness of the arrangements were beautiful though.

Staircase embellishment -

Coolest wood stove.  Ever.

I love all the detail work in the palace...I actually took a ton of pictures (all while attempting to wrangle Cort and Reid, who were acting a little crazy), but I don't want to bore you to death so I'm leaving most of them out of it.

The gardens outside were just gorgeous.  We spent a lot of time exploring.  I had seen a sign at one point for a Revolutionary cemetery, which I was trying to find.  I love old cemeteries.

We didn't find that particular cemetery, but we did discover the cellar!  Pierce couldn't wait to go in.  Reid said it was scary.

Pierce tries to peak in at the stores of food.  They had many rooms that stored food beneath the palace. 

We also found this spectacular maze!  Sadly, our double stroller wouldn't fit in the rows, but we did climb up on the mount to view it from above. 

And we were able to cram our double stroller in this maze, which wasn't as tall and didn't have such narrow paths. 
Stay tuned!  Next up will be one of the coolest cemeteries I've ever seen! 

Frontier Outfitters Giveaway

You probably know by now that we live in a log home.  And even though we live in Virginia, much of our decor has a southwestern slant to it.  So I found this site through a blogging friend called Frontier Outfitters and I completely fell in love with their home decor.  Things like barbed wire sheets and Little Buckaroo tableware appeal to my rustic side.  They were kind enough to send me a couple of their products that are made by local ranchers to try.

First was a set of four metal star napkin rings, crafted in a family workshop.  I love how they were shipped on a napkin - how cute is that?  Having lived in Texas for six years, I enjoy little reminders of the Lone Star state around my house (we have a huge metal star hanging in our bedroom). 


Next is a natural shed elk antler business card holder.  Unique, isn't it?  Also hand crafted, I think it makes for an interesting conversation piece!  I was so impressed by the high quality and individual beauty of both of these items. 
Like these items?  Frontier Outfitters is offering one lucky winner either the napkin rings or the antler business card holder - your choice!  To enter, just click on the "read more" below my signature.

Disclaimer:  I was sent two items from Frontier Outfitters for review purposes.  The opinions stated above are my own. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pierce ate at Pierce's Bar-B-Que - Rural Thursday

I don't know why exactly, but barbeque seems kind of rural to me.  As does off-the-beaten path barbeque restaurants.  Especially when they're spelled Bar-B-Que versus BBQ or barbeque.  Anyhow, last week, when we were staying in Williamsburg, it seemed like we just had to take a drive down a few backroads to eat at Pierce's.  How could we not, with that name?

I wanted to buy Pierce a t-shirt, but the smallest size they had wouldn't have fit him for about another 5 years.  So we decided to hold off on that.
 Their barbecue wasn't the best I'd ever had.  Barbecue is kind of relative - I think everyone likes a different style, based on individual tastes.  I like NC style barbecue first, and then Texas style barbecue second.  This was neither of those (at least in my book - but I'm far from being a bbq expert) as it had a very peppery taste to it.  I'm not complaining - it just wasn't my favorite.

Pierce, ironically, didn't try the barbecue.  He's in an anti-spicy phase, and won't eat barbecue.  So he settled for a corn dog and fries.  I tried to take his picture but he gave me a fake smile.  So I told him to give me a BIG smile and I got this slightly mischievious face:
Goofy kid.  I told him he looked mean.  At least he was having fun!  Now, time for YOUR fun.  It's Rural Thursday, hosted by myself and Nancy from A Rural Journal.  Even if you don't live in a rural area, just blog about something that fits into the rural lifestyle.  Then grab the button and add it to your blog post.  Come back and add the link to your blog post to the linky.  So easy!  Don't forget to visit at least 5 other contributers and leave them some comment love.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Carter's Facebook Sweepstakes Celebration

When I was pregnant with Pierce, I received so many cute baby outfits.  How can you not love baby clothes?  The tiny little socks.  Is there anything warmer and fuzzier than a pair of baby socks?  Or a cute little blanket sleeper?  I think the majority of the clothes we received were from Carter's.  It's such a great brand because not only is their clothing line adorable, but it's also affordable.  My boys have worn many a pair of Carter's pjs and I love how warm they are in the winter, and also that they don't pill up after numerous washings like some other brands. 


It comes as no surprise to me that Carter's, the most trusted brand in young children's clothing, is going to be featured in the film What to Expect When You're Expecting when it comes out in theatres on May 18th.  (Aren't you dying to see this film?  I can't resist a good preggo/baby story).  To celebrate the launch of the movie, Carter's is hosting "A Closet Full of Carter's Sweepstakes" on Facebook and giving away over $12,000 in prizes.  You can increase your chances to win the $5000 Carter's gift card grand prize or one of the many other awesome giveaways by entering daily on Facebook or on your mobile device from April 16 - May 18th. 

So go check it out!  That's a lot of chances to win, and who wouldn't love to have a closet full of Carter's for their children? 

No Purchase Necessary to Enter or Win. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Void where prohibited by law. Participants must be 18 years of age or older as of the date of entry. Promotion begins April 16, 2012 at 12:00:01 a.m. ET and ends May 18, 2012 at 11:59:59 p.m. ET. Limit one (1) entry per person, per day. Complete Official Rules available at www.facebook.com/carters. Sponsor: The William Carter Company (the "Sponsor"), 1170 Peachtree Street NE, Suite 900, Atlanta, GA 30309. Facebook is not a Sponsor of this Sweepstakes.


Blog Disclaimer: Carter’s partnered with bloggers such as me to promote their upcoming feature in the movie “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” As part of the program, I received a gift card. Carter’s believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words, and therefore did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products I used. Carter’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.