Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Pierce wanted to go to the Air and Space museum more than anywhere else when we were in DC. 

The boys were impressed with all the planes and space exhibits.  They loved getting to go inside a few planes.

The Air and Space Museum was just as crowded as the Museum of Natural History had been.  I confess all those people were overwhelming for me. 

But it didn't bother the boys.  They waited their turn patiently for a chance at some of the hands on activities.

The rockets and such seemed huge to me, so I can't imagine how magical they must've seemed for little boys.

Pierce was excited to have a chance to blow some vacation money at the gift shop.  My parents were kind enough to give each of the boys some spending money for our trip.
Cort and Reid each bought a metal airplane.  Pierce bought a little robotic toy that winds up and then squiggles across the floor shooting sparks along the way.  He adores this little robot - he showed it to every stranger we met after that!  As for me - I was a little disappointed that none of them wanted to buy some space ice cream - I love that stuff! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shabby Apple Dress Giveaway

Summer isn't over yet, and there is still plenty of time to wear a cute red wrap dress to picnics and ballgames.  Shabby Apple recently contacted me about doing a giveaway of their vintage clothing.  I adore their dresses (in fact, I have one myself!) so I was excited to sit down and pick one out for my readers.  It was a tough choice!  But I finally settled on "Heart of Me" because I loved the wrap style, the red material with a white flower print, and the wide sash.  While it is perfect for summer, I think it would also work well in the fall if layered with a sweater.

This dress runs in size 0-12, has adorable pockets on the chest, and the skirt is inset with pleats and fully lined.  Based on reviews, it runs small, so if you are lucky enough to win you may want to order a size up.  Value of $109. 
  Click on the Rafflecopter giveaway to enter!  Disclaimer:  I did not receive anything in exchange for this post, but I love the Shabby Apple dresses and thought this giveaway would interest my readers. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 29, 2013

Washington DC

During our weekend up in Northern Virginia, we quickly had vacation 'mini-crisis' number one, when we discovered my camera battery was low and I realized I had forgotten to pack the charger.  Thanks to a place called Batteries Plus, that crisis was quickly averted. 

Since we were planning on doing some camping on our trip, we had one of those car top carriers on the minivan.  I forgot it was up there and when we rolled in to the metro (subway) station, I drove right on in to the parking garage only to hear sccccrrriiiiitch KLUNK!  Uh oh.  I stopped immediately and Paul and I hopped out to look.  We pulled the minivan into the first available spot and decided we'd deal with it after we got back from DC. 

 I love the architecture in DC.  So many gorgeous historical buildings.  I could walk around all day.  Although preferably on a day slightly cooler than when we were there!
The boys brought there 'where in the world' gnomes that they colored for the library summer reading program to take a picture.

Even though it was hot, the blue skies and puffy clouds made for some beautiful pictures. 

The Washington Monument was under construction.  Seems it was always under construction when I was growing up too, but when I was pregnant with Pierce, Paul and I got to go up in it.  It was really interesting - I loved all the sculptures on the walls inside for the elevator ride back down.
 DC is also full of incredible sculptures.  There is never enough time on the day trip there - we didn't even make it to any memorials.  But I so enjoyed the things we were able to see on this day!

When we got back to our car, after debating the best options, we ending up emptying the carrier, dragging it out of the parking garage, and then backing the car out of the garage to put it back on.  Not the best thing we've ever done, but we honestly couldn't think of any other way out! 
 Come on readers, tell me one of your interesting vacation stories!  I know you've got some.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Delighting in My First Chicago Hot Dog

1.  When we were at my high school reunion, we met up with some friends and one of them was telling me all about Chicago hot dogs.  Spicy peppers, pickles, relish, and tomatoes?  Many of my favorite things.  So when we were in Chicago recently, I made it a point to pick one up at Portillo's.  It did not disappoint.  I was an instant fan!  I think I could've eaten a second.  Love.
2.  When I went to my high school reunion, Pierce asked what that thing was on my shoe.  I said, "What thing?".  He said, "That thing!" and pointed to the small heel.  Turns out my 6 year old had never seen me in heels.  I guess I'm more of a flip flop girl.

3. When I was growing up and we would drive up to Maine or something, whoever sat in the front seat was in charge of giving the driver money for tolls.  So we'd have a big container of quarters for the tolls.  Now?  Those tolls are crazy expensive.  One day we spent something like $45 in tolls!  Talk about highway robbery

4.  I chew a lot of gum.  Typically spearmint or peppermint. 

5.  Having a hard time thinking of a 5th random thing today.  Do you suppose Nancy, from A Rural Journal, who hosts Random Friday, would give me the boot if I didn't have a #5 this time?  Somehow, I think she'd let it slide, just this once. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

When we were in Northern Virginia for my high school reunion, we scheduled in an extra day to take the boys in to DC.  They had never been.  We met up with friends in Alexandria and then caught the metro (subway) in.  It was a steamy hot day, and I'd forgotten how crazy packed DC gets with tourists in the summer, particularly on a weekend.  We went to the Museum of Natural History and it was so crowded that I didn't take many pictures.  I was trying to make sure we didn't lose any children!
 As a kid, this was my favorite of all the Smithsonians.  My little brother and I would often fight when we headed into DC for a day, because he wanted to do Air and Space and I wanted to do Natural History.  My parents made us alternate. 
 One thing I loved about visiting was that in the basement they had rows and rows of specimen drawers and you could pull them out to examine fossils, plants, shells and such.  We didn't have time to do that on this trip (if it is still open). 
 One new addition that wasn't there previously, were the x-ray machines to get in to all the museums.  With the crowds on the day we went, there were lines to get in all the museums.

Of course the highlight for the twins were all the dinosaurs.  They were especially impressed by the T-Rex. 
I think next time we head up to DC, we'll do so on a random Tuesday in February, so we can take our time without worrying about all the gobs of people!  The boys seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly, though, and were fascinated to see all the different animals.

Readers, do you avoid crowds like me, or are you the 'more the merrier' type?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Disclaimer: I participated in a program through TapInfluence and Sony to create a Foodimal, and was sponsored for this post. 

We have Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on dvd, and the boys love to watch it.  We have the book as well.  It's such a fun story.  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is coming out in theatres on September 27th! 

One of the characters in Cloudy 2 is a Cantelope.  A cross between a cantaloupe and an antelope.  I crafted one at home and you can find step by step directions on how to make your own HERE.

The boys loved our Cantelope.  How cute would this be at a child's birthday party or a potluck?  And guess what?  It's easy to make, too, and only involves three ingredients.  The movie includes many other fun Foodimals too, so be sure to check it out! 

Readers, have you seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Manassas Battlefield

I went to high school just outside of Manassas, so when I recently attended my twenty year high school reunion I was eager to visit some of my old stomping grounds.  The first morning there, we headed to the battlefield, where the Battle of Bull Run took place during the Civil War. 
 The boys had fun playing on cannons while I went for a run on the trails with my friend Ginger.  The boys did a little running too.  Running around Stonewall Jackson....

The red brick house in the background was a hospital during the Civil War.  When I think of Manassas, I can't help but think of this house.

We didn't have time to go through the museum, but the boys didn't mind.  They had plenty of fun in the fields.
But for once...I don't think the boys could have possibly had as much fun as I did. 
Most enjoyable run I've had in a long while!

Monday, July 22, 2013


I always had my nose buried in a book as a kid.  There were days I spent the entire day reading, only to walk down to dinner in a daze, my mind in an entirely different world.

Pierce was an early reader, and it is one of his strengths, but he never loved it the way I did.  I kind of thought he never would.  But this summer?  Well, he discovered the Ready Freddy books.  And now, it's not surprising at all to see him like this...
I'm so excited to see him discovering the love of books!  He has so many reading delights in store.

Readers, did you love to read as a kid? 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Flowers on Friday

1.  We recently had some of our neighbors over for lunch, and they brought us a beautiful bouquet of flowers from their garden.  Perhaps JP from A Quiet Corner will recognize them, and be happy to see her flowers are growing well in her absence.

2.  It rained so much, for so many days, and so hard, that we now have algae growing on our driveway.  #truestory

3.  I got my ears pierced when I was 7.  I had to work on my mom for a while before she would take me.  I still remember it very clearly, even the little gold stud earrings I picked out.

4.  When I was in my freshman year of college, I got a few extra piercings in one ear, plus a piercing in my belly button.  Later, I let those grow out, as I grew up. 

5.  I play the lottery.  I have always been a dreamer.

What about you, readers?  Do you play the lottery ever? 

Linked with Nancy, from A Rural Journal, for Random Friday. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Really Gross Vintage Recipes

The other day I was looking through my great grandmother's old recipes, in search of her peanut butter pie.  I got distracted along the way by some rather vile recipes from the 70s.  I couldn't resist scanning them to share. 

First off, the Mousse of Chicken Livers.  Even the garnish in this picture is like a garnish gone wrong...a garnoctopus? 

Now some of you might think Tomato Aspic sounds tasty.  Me?  I don't drink tomato juice (although I do eat tomatoes), and I'm not big on congealed salads, so this looks pretty awful to me.  I might, if hungry enough, pick out the olives to eat.

Finally (now don't get too excited!) we have the ever desirable Prune Whip.  Mmmmmmm. 

Maybe I shouldn't pick on prunes.  Some of you probably like them.  Me?  You can have my prunes and raisins, I'll pass! 
Readers, would do you think any of these dishes sound like the sort of thing you'd like to eat?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Are They Twins?

I've had a lot of strangers ask me "Are they twins?" over the past few years.  I actually get this a lot less than I used to, simply because Cort and Reid look so different in size and appearance that people think they are siblings, not twins.  On our recent visit to see my aunt and uncle, I took some pictures of their dogs.  I got home and started looking at the pictures, and for the life of me, couldn't figure out if I'd been photographing the same dog.  Two of them look very similar.  They could be twins.
I finally put them in a collage, to see if they were different (the middle dog, Abby, causes no trouble of course).  One of them has a slightly fluffier coat and is more black than the other.  Yes, I think they are two different dogs! 

No doubt my aunt and uncle have no trouble whatsoever telling the two of them apart.  Like when the twins were infants - people asked how I told them apart, but to me they were two completely different babies. 

Readers, have you ever had trouble telling two things apart?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Simple Things

A couple of weeks ago I was having new front tires put on my car (sigh) and the boys and I walked over to the mall to kill some time.  We walked through AC Moore, which is a craft store, and I let each of the boys pick out a $1 wooden craft to paint. 

These boys....they just love to do a craft project.  They had the most marvelous time painting their wooden boxes (Pierce chose a truck). 
Now Cort and Reid have a place to put their treasures (like rocks and sticks and flowers) and Pierce has a truck to drive around the house. 

Readers, when is the last time you found something really great for $1? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Not-So-Lost Art of Letter Writing

Pierce likes to write letters.  He writes to relatives and to his previous teachers.  He writes often enough that I went to Michael's and stocked up on a variety of $1 stationary for him.  They have some really cute inexpensive stationary there.  I found a nice little cubby with three drawers and a "sticker compartment" to organize his letter writing supplies.
He has everything he needs when he feels like writing some letters.  Now if only I could get him to start leaving spaces between his words so people could actually read them....

Readers, do you still write letters?  I wrote letters all the time growing up - to relatives and friends.  Now, I just seem to email. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Attack of the Praying Mantis

1.  When we were at the Greensboro Science Center, I had to snap a shot of this high up praying mantis, who looked straight out of a 70s swamp thing movie.
2.  Pierce asked me the other day, "Are all ladybugs girls?"  I said no.  He looked at me funny, and said, "But Mom, they're lady bugs." 

3.  Recently a stranger told Cort he liked his Bob Marley shirt, which was a hand me down from a friend.  Cort said, "Thanks, it's my Bob Marble shirt!". 

4.  Cort and Reid were playing with some little space men figurines from our Toob collection.  They were pretending the space men were going camping.  Pierce looked at them and said, "You guys, you can't go camping in space.  There's no air up there AND there are no bathrooms". 

5.  I've been taking glucosamine for about 6 weeks and it has really kicked in now.  Amazing how much it has helped my knees and hips with my running.  Hoping the effects will last when I wean myself off of it. 

Have a great weekend readers!

Linked with Random Friday at A Rural Journal. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wineberry Jam

It's that time of year again.  The wineberries that grow wild all over our land are now ripe.  Wineberries are similar to a raspberry in size and color, but have seeds like a blackberry.  Paul spent several hours picking berries.  Then I sterilized everything and made some jam.
Nothing quite so satisfying as the sound of the lids popping as they seal.  If I can find the time, I'll do another batch.  I love to use the jam as gifts, and I think it's fun that the berries come from our own land.

Readers, what is your favorite flavor of jam?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer Schoolwork

I'm happy to report that I actually have my act together this summer!  We've been doing about 90 minutes of schoolwork a day.  Surprisingly, it always seems to be the happiest part of our day. The boys seem to thrive on the mental stimulation. The twins are learning how to write their names and letters.  They work on their scissor skills and pasting.  Pierce is keeping sharp on his reading and math, and working on learning the capitals of all 50 states.  Recently the school book that Pierce has been using had an edible mud pie activity.  Pierce had a lot of fun making the pie, and then we ate it for dessert that night.

We're reading tons of books too - over halfway through our summer reading program goal of 600 minutes. 

When the time comes, I think I'll feel good about my boys being ready to transition to back to school.  Assuming I can keep it up (after all, we've still got another month left)!  Clif Kid sent the boys some organic, whole grain, back to school snacks - Z Bars - and they've enjoyed eating them while they do their work. 

Readers, are you already thinking about back to school, or is it too early? 

Disclaimer:  I received some Clif Bar snacks for the boys, and it's a snack I feel good about and the boys love, so I mentioned it on my blog.  I was under no obligation to do so, and was not compensated for this post. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Random Acts of Calla Lily

A couple of summers ago, I hosted a brunch at my house for new moms of multiples (twins, triplets, etc.).  One of the ladies who came brought me a calla lily, which I planted by the house.  I don't remember her name or what she looked like.  But every year the calla lily blooms, with a few more flowers than the year before.  And it is absolutely my favorite flower.
It makes you think, doesn't it?  Some small act of kindness that you do for someone you don't know can still bring happiness to that person, even years later. 
Readers, have you given or received any random acts of kindness lately?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Wineberry Breakfast Bars

The wineberries have ripened all over our mountain, and the boys picked a big batch for me this weekend.  I decided to make wineberry breakfast bars.  In addition to being a tasty breakfast bar, they make a light and tangy dessert. 


For the crust -
1 cup flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into small cubes
2 1/2 cups quick cook oats
2 tbsp. orange juice

For the filling -
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tbsp. flour
pinch of salt
3 1/2 cups fresh wineberries
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375*.  Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Put flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, salt and sugar in a food processor.  Pulse a couple of times to combine, add butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form.  Add oats and pulse 2-3 times more to mix.
Remove 1 1/2 cups mixture and set aside.  Add orange juice to remaining mixture and pulse until just moistened.  Press mixture firmly into bottom of the pan.
Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Fold in berries and lemon juice.  Spread on top of crust.
Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over the filling.  Bake 35-40 minutes.  Allow to cool 2 hours and then cut into bars.  Store in the fridge. 
Recipe adapted from a berry oatmeal bar recipe in Family Fun Magazine several years ago.

Readers, what is your favorite berry, and what kind of dessert do you like to make from it?

Friday, July 5, 2013

The "I Don't Know Their Name" Lilies

1.  I never know the names of flowers.  But I planted these scarlet red lilies about six years ago, and I adore them.  They are always fleeting, never staying as long as I'd like, but the do bring me cheer while they're here.

2.  Kind of sad not to have run the Four on the Fourth race yesterday.  I've run it the past two years, and I really like it because it wraps through downtown Roanoke.  Hopefully next year.

3.  I just finished reading Tess Gerritsen's Last to Die, and I couldn't get anything done for the 3 days I was reading it.  I'm far behind on my reading this year, so it was nice to find a book that really captured me for a few days.  Even if it did leave me with a filthy house at the end of it. 

4.  Does anyone know what would cause a high bounce rate on a blog?  I need to do some investigating, because my bounce rate in Google analytics seems high.  If there is something wrong, I need to look into fixing it.  Any ideas?

5.  I would hate to be an inchworm.  As cute as they are, it seems like a lot of trouble to get around.  Plus, everything would be trying to either eat or squish you. 

This post linked with Random Friday at A Rural Journal

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth!

Maybe he isn't red, white, and blue, but he is some of the most spectacular colors I've seen in nature. 
Taken at the Greensboro Science Museum last week.  Happy July 4th folks!  I hope you have a great one!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Greensboro Science Center and the Great Vomit Machine

Last week the boys and I took a day trip to the Greensboro Science Center, where we met Pam and George (my aunt and uncle) for a day of fun.  I took too many pictures.

There were a few scary moments.  We had to watch out for dinosaurs, giant beetles, and snakes.

There was plenty of wildlife to be observed.  The boys especially enjoyed brushing the goats, who were remarkably subdued.  I thought the one the twins were brushing was a pregnant female.  Oh did 'she' ever have a big belly.  Triplets for sure!  And then I was informed that all the goats were male.  Whoops, my bad! 

Cort enjoyed petting India the rat.  And we saw a rather strange snapping turtle. 

By far, one of the biggest attractions was the vomit machine seen in the upper left corner of the collage below.  They pushed a button and foul brown liquid came squirting up.  It was SO gross and my boys were engrossed.  I didn't think I'd ever pull them away from the awe of the vomit machine.
What a fun day!
We were there just a few days before the grand opening of their new aquarium, so we hope to make a return trip sometime soon.  The entire place was marvelously hands on and I was impressed by how helpful the staff was and how generous they were in allowing the boys to interact and touch the animals.  If you're in the Greensboro area, I'd highly recommend it (whether you're a kid or not!).