Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Watch out.
Kid with silly string ahead.
He's not having fun at all, is he?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sweetness and Buttercups

Mom?  I brought you a buttercup.
Because you're the best mom in the whole wide world!
Who says it's the little girls who are sweet? 
I beg to differ.

Friday, April 25, 2014


I've blogged before about littering, and how it frustrates me.  We live on a mountainous road, and it always shocks me the stuff that people will toss off the sides of the mountain.  Not just your average beer cans.  We're talking entire tables, tires, and -- it has been there for at least ten years now -- in one instance an entire boat.
If this were my land?  I'd be tempted to post signs all along the road with very specific instructions of how to get to the country dump. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


All winter long, in the most horrendous of cold and windy and damp weather, I could count on one thing.  I knew that the older guy in the black running suit with the white baseball cap would always be out battling the elements too.  We always waved and smiled, going in opposite directions.  I felt a silent camaraderie with him - knowing that he was so passionate about his running that it didn't keep him from looping the park in a pleasant jog when the wind chill was in the teens. 

And then, a couple of weeks ago, it seemed we were going the same direction.  I saw him up ahead, and thought that perhaps rather than passing I'd slow to his pace and introduce myself.  I'm not one to do this - it takes me a long while to warm up to someone - but it seemed almost as though we knew each other, as we had both been in the trenches of some nasty weather running over the previous months.  He appeared well into his retirement years, and I admired his fortitude.

And so, instead of passing, I jogged alongside and we started talking.  He was really quite friendly.  He, too, had been happy to see I was the other runner out, the one pushing through the bad conditions.  A misery loves company sort of ideal.  And, on this day, it was a beautiful and sunny 60* and we had the most fun chatting.  It turned out that we had a lot in common.  Before his retirement years, he was a social worker, and had his masters in the subject and spent his career at the V.A. hospital helping others.  We talked about the rewards and frustrations of such a job.  We talked about how the zen of running over the years helps you learn to cope with the stresses.  I learned that he qualified for Boston in his youth and ran it successfully.  He's been running such a long time that he is now in a place where he's happy to just run for enjoyment, and doesn't worry so much about speed or racing anymore.

And then somehow our topic turned to fossils and arrowheads and he began talking about finding fossils in a creek bed in Texas, when he was stationed in Ft. Hood during a stint with the military.  And I mentioned in passing that I had gone to college in Texas.  He asked where and I told him Baylor.  And do you know what?  He went to Baylor too!  In all my years in Roanoke, I have not met another Baylor alum.  I've seen his car a couple of times (he has a Baylor sticker) - and always wondered.  We were delighted - I think both of us had to restrain from yelling Sic 'Em Bears right there.  We talked about some of the sociology classes there (I took a few, mixed in with my psychology background).  He attended before my time, but was part of the yell leaders for the football team, and played some basketball too.  We talked about how bad their football team used to be.  And - just like that - I knew I had a new running friend, when I least expected it.  Serendipity.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Crazy Spaghetti Recipe

When I stumbled upon the Crazy Spaghetti recipe in my Baylor cookbook, I thought I needed to try it.  Because what kid wouldn't like a dish called Crazy Spaghetti?

1 pound ground meat (turkey would be fine)
1 large onion, chopped
1 (5 ounce) bottle of soy sauce
1 medium head of cabbage, shredded
1 (4 ounce) can of mushrooms (I used fresh)
1 (16 ounce) can bean sprouts (drained)
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts (drained)
1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti, cooked and drained

Brown meat with onion in large skillet.  Drain fat.  Pour 1/2 bottle of soy sauce over meat.  Add cabbage, cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Add mushroom, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and remaining soy sauce.  Cover and simmer 3 minutes longer.  Add cooked spaghetti.  Cover and cook over low until heated through.

Indeed, we all enjoyed this recipe.  Next time I make it, I'll be using ramen noodles instead of spaghetti.  I think it'll give it a better Asian style.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Break? Or Not.

1. I wasn't obligated to mention this, but Clif Kid sent the boys their new lemon cookie bars to try, along with some fun spring items like sunglasses and a jump rope.  The organic bars, as always with their products, were a hit with the boys.
2.  Pierce, who already had a shortened Spring Break this year, lost a chunk of it due to all the snow days.  Such is life.

3.  I've read more books this year already than I read the entirety of 2013.  I may need an intervention.

4.  At least when you frequent the library, like me, reading books is a hobby that is free.

5.  For now, I will be cutting back to blogging 3 days a week.  Nothing is wrong.  I just want to focus my time on some other things right now, and thought that blogging Monday, Wednesday, and Friday might be helpful in doing so. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cute Snow Globe Craft

In March the twins had an Art Night at their preschool.  We were so impressed with all the fun crafts and art they have been making throughout the year.  I thought I'd share my favorite.
They used clear plastic dessert plates for the globe part, and glued stock paper to the back.  The inside has a picture of them cut out to look like they are jumping in the snow.  There is also a lot of glitter on the inside.  They're even cuter in person than in picture!

That said - I hope this artwork is the only snow around our house until next December!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Apple Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This is one of those recipes that I took with me to college.  I started making these apple brownies back in high school.  And have made them once a year or so since.  I have no idea where the recipe originated, since it's written on an index card and is over 20 years old.

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped Granny Smith apple
Frosting (see below)

Cream shortening, gradually adding sugar.  Add eggs one at a time.  Combine flour, salt, soda and cinnamon.  Add to creamed mixture.  Fold in apples.  Pour in 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350* for 25 minutes.  Remove and spread with frosting when slightly warm.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans (we omit these)

Cream butter and cream cheese, gradually add sugar; beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in vanilla and pecans.

Even though it isn't apple season right now, these brownies hit the spot year-round.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Skiing in Maine

Has everyone else noticed that it's become popular to do posts of old pictures on Instagram and Facebook lately?  I don't tend to do that very often on social media sites, but I do like to share on my blog at times.  Here's a fun one of me with my brothers in Maine, circa 2004.

Sure does make me happy to see April.  Finally, right?

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Nest

On a recent trip to Dollar Tree, I noticed little birds flitting about the letters of their sign. 
Do you see "A" nest?
Talk about a 'sign' of spring.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Missing Shoes

1.  Reid lost his favorite shoes.  We turned the house upside down looking for his dear, beloved shoes.  For days, whenever we forced him to wear other shoes, he sobbed.  They hurt his feet.  They weren't right.  He wanted his blue shoes.

2.  Two weeks later, I was walking up from feeding Francie.  As I meandered up the steps to the porch something in the window caught my eye.  When I saw what it was, I laughed.  And then I called for Reid.

3.  We are so happy Reid has his favorite shoes back.  I sure hope he doesn't lose them again.

4.  People on Craigslist are crazy.  It's a great way to get rid of junk, but certainly you encounter some interesting characters.  Recently, I had something listed for $400 firm, and got a text, at 1:00 am, asking if I would take $275 if they came to get it right then.   Luckily my phone was off. 

5.  Deer ate my apricot tulips I planted last fall.  I am so bummed!  I was really looking forward to seeing how they turned out.

Linked with Random Friday at A Rural Journal

Thursday, April 10, 2014

If I Had 100 Dollars

On a recent trip to Pierce's school, there was a row of worksheets on the wall, from their 100 day celebration of school.  They were interesting - each child was so creative with what they would do with $100.  One girl said she would buy a jello bed and have a jello room.  Pierce?  He said he'd buy a service plan (for the old blackberry of my dad's that he carries around everywhere).  And of course, he'd buy a robot.  He drew a picture of Eve, from the movie Wall E. 
Readers, would you buy a jello bed if you had $100?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I spent the past couple of months training for the Virginia Creeper marathon.  I ran quite a few long runs in dreadful wintry conditions.  The day before the marathon, I packed my bag.  I had tapered, and I was ready.
I planned to wake up at 4:00 am and do the drive to Abingdon, about 2 1/2 hours from us.  Around dinnertime, I pulled up the weather for Abingdon the next day, to make sure I had the appropriate layers.

The weather that night?  Ice pellets for us, snow for Abingdon.  100% with 1 - 3 inches of accumulation, and high winds.  I thought about trying to drive so early in the morning on roads that hadn't been plowed yet.  I decided not to go.

This is the first time I've skipped a race due to weather.  Usually I just dress appropriately for the conditions.  I could've run fine in the snow - it was the drive that concerned me.  After all that training, I was so terribly disappointed. 

Readers, have you had any big disappointments lately?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Seventh Generation #FightToxins #MC

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Seventh Generation. I received a promotional item and product samples as a thank you for participating.

Off and on I like to blog about measures we take in our family to help reduce our carbon footprint and try to be earth friendly.  I continue to believe that small measures like reusable grocery bags, cloth diapering, and recycling can make a huge difference when people join in as a united front. 

I've teamed up with Seventh Generation to help spread awareness for chemical reform.  The Toxic Substances Control Act was introduced in 1976, and it hasn't been reevaluated since then.  The need for reform is strong - more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been introduced since the act passed in 1976, but only 10% of those chemicals have been tested by the EPA.  We know that toxic chemicals pose many health risks - Alzheimers, learning disabilities, and asthma just to name a few.  I have asthma, as does one of my children, and I know from experience that chemicals can be triggers for breathing problems in both of us. 

I know I'd love to feel safer about the products I use in my own home.  We try to avoid chemicals when possible, being careful to garden without pesticides and using green cleaning products like natural laundry detergent and dishwashing soap.  But there are times when I'm unsure about a product, and I'd love to have more information available before I use it in my home. 

It's crucial that this major environmental law be updated so that chemicals are subject to testing and disclosure is in place for consumers.  Wouldn't you love to see a day when all cleaning products had a disclosure label, so you knew exactly what you were spraying on your rugs or on your windows?  You can help!  Seventh Generation has a goal of collecting 100,000 signatures by April 24th.  Take a moment to click on the badge below and sign the petition.  My name is already on the petition - I feel it is so important that we protect our families (and our pets) from sketchy chemicals. 
If this is an issue you feel passionate about, you can also check out the #FightToxins Twitter party on April 10th at 1:00 pm.  You will find tips about living a health green lifestyle, and earth friendly cleaning products without a lot of chemicals.  Seventh Generation is a company that has worked for 25 years to create plant derived products using bio-based ingredients that contribute to healthier home environments. 
Readers - what kind of earth friendly measures do you like to use in your own home?  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mini Cannoli Recipe

My Mom sent me a mini cannoli recipe recently, and I decided to try it out.  I cut the original recipe in half, because I only had one pie crust and half a container of ricotta.  They turned out very well!
 1 refrigerated pie crust
 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 15oz. container of whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
 1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425.
Prepare filling by combining all ingredients except chocolate chips in a bowl with an electric mixer.
Place in a bag and refrigerate.
Roll out pie crust and sprinkle all over one side with sugar and cinnamon.
Roll over dough with rolling pin gently to push cinnamon and sugar into the pie crust.
Using a biscuit cutter, cut out circles in the dough.
Lightly press the circles into ungreased mini cupcake pan to form a pastry cup.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from oven and once cool, fill with cream.
Cut off a small part of the corner of the plastic bag to fill cups (I used a frosting bag).
Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and dust with powdered sugar

 Fill about 1 hour before serving.  These turned out so cute, and we all loved them!

Friday, April 4, 2014

No Tassels for Me, Thanks Anyhow

1.  Another picture from the 40s.  Cute little pony, isn't it?
2.  What do you think of the tassels that are hanging from her hat?  She seems pretty dolled up, don't you think?

3.  I don't wear hats.  The only time I wear hats is if it is very cold and I am outside for an extended period of time, or if I am running in the rain (I will wear a ball cap to keep rain out of my eyes).  I definitely don't wear hats with tassels.

4.  Cort can ride a bike without training wheels!  He took right to it.  Poor Reid.  He is so disappointed.  We'll have to do some extra work with him so he can figure it out too.  It must be hard to watch your twin brother do something so great before you. 

5.  I have never taken a blog break, but I have a feeling one will be coming in the near future.  I will let you know! 

Linked with Nancy's Random Friday at A Rural Journal

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sausage and Rice Breakfast Casserole Recipe - Comfort Food!

My uncle raises his own hogs and makes sausage every year.  A while ago he gave me some to try and I made the most wonderful sausage casserole - this is not your typical breakfast casserole!  In fact, we ate it for dinner and the boys LOVED it.  It makes a lot, which is nice too.  It's not the healthiest casserole around, with the processed foods in it, but it is comfort food, and comfort food isn't always healthy.

1 box Uncle Ben's fast cooking rice (we have used chicken and have also done wild rice - both are excellent)
2 lbs. sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream

Cook rice according to directions on box.  Meanwhile, saute sausage and onion.  After sausage begins to brown, toss in mushrooms and green pepper.  Continue cooking until sausage is cooked through.  Preheat oven to 350*.  Place sausage and veggies in 9x13 casserole and add soups and sour cream.  Toss together and bake for 30 minutes. 

Readers, do you have any dinner dishes that you know aren't that healthy, but that you make anyhow because they just fill that comfort food craving?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Playground at Countryside

Roanoke has a new playground and it is pretty incredible. 
 It has tunnels and ropes and an elevator lift.
The elevator lift was very popular.
Multiple slides
And an emphasis on music.  This is a game that plays different styles of music while the lights on the green boxes light up.  The kids have to run and hit them.  At times, there were ten kids doing this thing - all of them running and dancing in the middle.  Brilliant.
 A rocking aeroglider.

Scattered throughout are various instruments for playing music.

Completely interactive.

A music station for every kid.  And the playground is handicapped accessible.

Call us impressed.
Kind of makes me wish I was still a kid!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Eco Natural Soaps

Is anyone else's skin trying to recover from this crazy winter?  I was fortunate to get the opportunity to review products from Eco Natural Soap for the second time, and my dry, itchy skin is so thankful.  These are the products I received:
Their products have nothing artificial; no colorant or preservatives.  I started off trying the coconut milk honey and oatmeal soap.  It has a smooth lather that I love.  The scent is very mild, so if you don't like strong smells this is a great choice.  It has enough lather that I used it to shave my legs, and it did an excellent job.

Afterwards, I tried the Island Lime dry skin balm.  It smells wonderful - just like key lime pie.  In fact, after I used it, I had to go bake some key lime bars, just so I wouldn't eat the skin balm.  It does a great job on extremely dry patches of skin, and I found it very soothing.

I also tried the lemon meringue lip balm, which is organic and also has a delicious scent.  Because it doesn't have any harmful ingredients, I let the boys try it too, and they loved the taste.

Also of note is their joint balm, which I didn't review this time, but it is a product I use regularly for sore muscles, and I ordered some previously for both my dad and my grandmother to help their arthritis. 

If you are looking for organic, chemical free bath products, I have found these to be very high quality and nourishing.  They have speedy shipping, and are very consumer-friendly.  I've also found their soaps make wonderful gifts!  Eco Natural Soaps has offered a coupon code to readers: TBF1548  It is good for 15% off on any order of $10.00 or more and is good on any of their products - even the ones on sale! Also they always have free shipping! The coupon code is good through 4-8-2014.

Readers, what scent of soap would you like to try?

Disclaimer:  I received these products for review purposes.  The opinions above are my own.