Thursday, May 31, 2012

Goals for June (and a quick recap of May)

Goals, for me, are a way to track what I want to accomplish and give me a place to start; something to work towards; and something to celebrate once accomplished. 

In May I posted a list of 5 goals I wanted to work toward.  I didn't post the list until almost half way through the month and knew I wouldn't get a lot done but I did it to get me back into the mindset of goals after taking a month or so off due to a super busy schedule.  Here's a quick recap. 
1) We did have the 1st ever (annual) Memorial Day Family get together but I didn't really have to plan much.  It got moved to my brother's house in order to it possible for my brother and niece to be able to spend time with famly after her soccer games. 
2) I did start the decluttering of the basement but haven't gotten far.  It's a task I need to break down into sections or it is overwhelming!!!
3) Our summer plans are finalized - at least through June.  July and August are tentative right now as things always change but June is set. 
4) This was my disciplines and I'm still working on this stuff
5) I don't think I did a single thing in my misc list! 

So, now on to June - here's a list of what I am planning to get done (or at least hope to get done!) throughout the coming month.  I can tell you this right now - if the temps soar into the 90's (or even the 80's with high humidity) my productivity drops to zero.  When you live in a house without A/C you learn to survive by doing nothing and watching TV HA! 

1. Summer Activities - My goal is to have all of the activities ready to go for the following week by Saturday.  This means having all of the things I need prepared and ready to go, checking the weather for our "field trips" and making any funds I need are set aside (for entrance fees or special trips to get ice cream)  This also means preparing for our weekend plans - we have three festivals we want to attend, a family party, and family photos coming up this month.  I need to make sure that our plans our finalized the week before which, again, includes planning out the funds needed, the scheduling (what time we need to leave, whether to pack a lunch or get a treat out, and checking the weather to make sure our plans will work!  I am ready for June 1st - we are planting Sunflower seeds!! This celebrates family.

2. Declutting.  I actually have two decluttering projects I'm working on this month.  First, the basement.  As I mentioned above, this has to be broken down into small sections in order to get it done.  So the first step in this project is to write my plan (which I am working on this week).  Then, I will begin conquering the plan one week at a time.  Obviously, to be finished by the end of the month it is only a 4 week plan which, I know, is more than doable.  Second, is the rest of the house.  Over the course of the next 4 weeks, I'm going to do a "survey" of every room, closet, cupboard and drawer and get rid of the things we have never used or have not used in over a year.  I did this about 3 years ago so I know if stuff is sitting in those places and we haven't used it since then, it needs to go.  I do have a few things I only use once or twice a year (round cake pans, chocolate fountain, etc) that I keep but I know I use those things for a purpose.  Having 6 pie plates is a little over kill especially since 90% of the pies I make I use frozen crusts for so I get the throw away pans with the crusts.  (Best thing ever invented HA!).  I'm really not sure what this celebrates except making my life easier because I'm not stuffing stuff into closets where there is no room!!

3. The big room switch.  We have made the decision to home school so we also did a lot of thinking, measuring, and talking and have decided that the best way to do this is to move bedrooms around.  The short version is that the boys are going into the biggest bedroom, which is currently ours, we are going into the second bedroom, which is currently Josh's and the school room is going into Nate's room, which is the tiny room.  We have a long list of things that have to be done in order to make it work smoothly.  This months goals are to get the treadmill out of our bedroom - it is being given to my parents.  As much as I hate losing it we have zero room for it.  Sometimes something has to give and the treadmill is it.  Not to mention that in this phase of my life, trying to find time to walk on it is nearly impossible.  I'm glad it is going to a "good home" and it will get lots of use!  Once the treadmill is out, we need to pull up the carpet and carpet tacks in our room getting it ready for a hard floor to go down.  We have many reasons for putting down a hard floor - the most fun reason is so the boys can play cars on it :-)  I also need to clean out my filing cabinet, putting all of our files into a portable box to keep elsewhere (we seldom need them) so that the cabinet can be moved into the homeschool room when we are ready. If we can get that far by the end of the month, we are doing good.  The actually "switch" won't happen until Labor day weekend when my husband has time to put the floor down so we are working towards that at this point.  We also plan on putting the same flooring in the home school room and hope to put it down at the same time but we'll see!

4. Potty Training - Seriously.  I have one child who refuses this.  I know you can't force them to do it but we are continually working towards getting them both potty trained.  Don't judge  me - I've tried every trick in the book and tricks don't work :-)

5.  Clean out the Garage - this is a project that is on the books every summer.  We like to take time to clean out any junk that has collected and make it nice and neat.  I also need to go through our camping stuff and organize it for camping in July.  (On a side note, one of the things on my wish list for next year is a new garage door/and opener so that we can use the garage to park in more - the door is so heavy and cumbersome without an opener, we don't tend to use it unless a blizzard is coming!)

I think 5 goals for the month is pretty doable.  There are all kinds of misc things to do like sell my nephews books, finish a growth chart we started a year ago (it's hung up, I just need to update the "growth" part of it), work on various art projects for the boys rooms and homeschool room so they are ready when the rooms are ready, learn how to use my cricut a friend has given me and more! !

I'm praying for some beautiful 70 degree days this summer so I can get all of this stuff done!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our Summer Binder

Summer is knocking on our door and it is time to start having fun!!  The boys are old enough to enjoy some daily fun so I have searched and come up with all kinds of fun activities, foods, and field trips and created a Summer Binder. 
On the cover of our Summer Binder is this great "Bucket List" for the month.  If you love these type of things, you can get your own for every month of the year from Signature Photography Studios.  No, I don't do everything on the list but it gives me something to spring off of :-) 

The next step was I just started printing ideas from blogs and Pinterest and placed them in our binder.  I didn't worry about age levels or anything like that because some ideas are for later.  I just saved everything I saw that I liked and than printed :-)
I created the different sections based on need but some of them are Inside Activities, Outside Activities, Water Fun, Food, Special Activities, and even a folder for ideas things for me.  You can feel free to check out my Summer Board on Pinterest to see many of the ideas I've printed.  I continue to add more to that board and print those every free weeks.  You may wonder why I print?  There is one simple reason, people delete ideas.  I've already learned that and have lost some great ideas.  This way, I print the idea/instructions/blog post and have what I want for future years.

My last step is that I took time to go through the ideas, the bucket list and, well, my own brain, and write one thing on each week day.  In June we are doing things such as going to pick strawberries and then making strawberry jam; making ice cube sailboats, going to a local zoo and many more fun things. 

I've learned that if I don't plan, we do nothing.  Now, if this summer is like last summer as far as heat . . .well, then I am VERY prepared for NEXT summer HA!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Too Cute Not to Toot

So, I have a disclaimer this week.  Sometimes, the links I provide don't work anymore :-) I had someone leave a comment on a Too Cute post from a few weeks ago asking me about getting more info on something I posted . I clicked the link and found that the blog I had gotten it from had sense been made private.  I apologize if you see an idea you love and than can't get to it anymore :-(  Sometimes people do things like, make a blog private, or change their blog link or even delete a post.  I will try to provide you with great links though!

Now, on to some fun posts.  When I have people over (our family parties usually) I enjoy having fun games set up (others mock me but that is ok!) so when I came across this idea from This Old House for a great game I had to share.
Ok, this next idea is not a "DIY" idea but when I saw it, I had to show you were to purchase it.  Amazon has this awesome jumbo bowling set.  How fun would that be for a birthday party?  I so might have to get this for one of the kids birthdays this year!!
Apparently, I'm coming across just some general ideas this time around . . .because I wanted to actually share this post from We Are That Family.  As you know, I love to read so this list of books for the family is fantastic.  I especially love the board and picture book suggestions - as I'm planning out preschool for Josh this fall, I was trying to think of how to pick out some specific books to focus on reading each week and I think I just found my inspiration!

We are going camping this summer so when I saw this idea over at Twin Dragonfly Designs for camping shirts, I fell in love :-) 

As you know, I took the weekend off from blogging so I didn't get a chance to do anymore than this for this weeks post (I found these last week before my break :-) )  The good news is I'll have even more things to search for next week!!! 

Hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend celebrating however you most enjoy it - spending lots of time with family and friends, doing lots of yard work, or just enjoying time with your own family.  For us, we are spending time with my family at the 1st Annual McMaster Memorial Day Weekend Party.  We plan on having some good old "just us" family time too.  I've decided to give myself "permission" to take a break from blogging (not that I really need permission since I really do this for fun!).  With that said, I'll see you back here on Tuesday with another "Too Cute Not to Toot" post!  Next week I'll share our summer binder with you as well as how I organize the Too Cute ideas I REALLY want to make.  I also want to share with you my some ideas I have for our homeschool room too! 

Hard to believe that this is the unofficial start of summer . .. did we even have winter??

Enjoy your weekend, I know I will!!! 

Weekly Menu - May 26 and a little of this and that

WHEW!  Another week went by :-)  The weather this week cooled off at the beginning of the week after a very hot weekend but it is forecasted to be in the 90's on Sunday and Monday before cooling off again!  I was thankful for cooler weather because I planned Soup for one meal this week!  I tried out a few new recipes this week so you can look forward to seeing those in coming weeks too.

Before I post our menu, I thought you might enjoy these photos.  Last year, we couldn't even get the boys to run through a sprinkler in the hot weather let alone get in the water.  Well, last weekend I happened to pick up a fish watering can.  Then I went back the next day and picked up a second one because I was tired of hearing "that's my fish mama" so now each boy has their own!!  On Thursday, the boys wanted to play with their watering cans so instead of standing in the kitchen to fill them up I got the idea to fill up a tub with water and this is what happened:
 We started by me filling the bucket with empty containers.  It was constant running from the kitchen - the boys loved it and were soaking wet but there was no way I could keep this up all day.
 That is when I got smart and found the hose, hooked it up and put it in the bucket so it would stay filled except . .. . two little boys had fun with the hose.  Josh even figured out how to drink out of the hose.  The trick is that I turned it on very, very low :-)  Eventually the bucket was full and over flowing so I put the sprayer on the end of the hose.
Maybe that wasn't such a great idea HA!  I ended up trapped in the garage and someone enjoyed spraying me :-) 
Now, on to our menu!

Saturday: We are having a family gathering for Memorial Day Weekend.  Originally, it was at our house but due to some scheduling issues in getting everyone here, we are having it at my brothers house so that he and my niece can actually be there for part of it (She plays soccer and has a tournament that day).  We are doing a cookout and all bringing some favorites.  I'm going to take Taco Salad and a Pan of Taco Dip with chips. 

Sunday: It is supposed to be HOT HOT HOT on Sunday so we are planning to take the boys to beach.  I have a three year old that has been asking to go to the beach for WEEKS.  I highly doubt the big lake will be warm enough to "swim" in but they just like to play on the shore anyway.  I used to try to always plan our picnics and make food and have discovered the joy of fast food picnics :-)  I think we will pick up some KFC or Lee's Chicken before hitting the beach (or sometimes we go into McDonalds and eat where it is cool before getting to the beach HA!)

Monday:  Happy Memorial Day!  It is supposed to be hot again! I'm planning to do "brunch" for lunch with eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast (I have one kid who loves bacon and one who loves sausage!) .  Then for our "cookout" we'll have Brats, Fruit/Dip, Spaghetti Salad, and I want to make a dip I found on Pinterest called "Poolside Dip" and have it with chips/crackers.

Tuesday: Keeping it simple!  Tatar Tot Casserole, Roasted Cauliflower, and a Salad

Wednesday: I think my husband will be at practice so the boys and I will make some homemade pizza

Thursday: Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin (I had planned this for a week ago but we ended up having pulled pork BBQ instead), Cheesey Rice and Broccoli Casserole, and Rolls

Friday: I am going scrapbooking!  This was something unexpected that came up and I can't wait!  So my "Boys" will have hot dogs and/or Mac and Cheese while I head out for a girls night out!

I'm going to cheat this week and buy our snacks/cookies.  I'll pick up a package of Darryl's favorites for his lunch, we happen to have Oreo's here already and I think in this hot weather, some frozen fruit bars and ice cream sound good to me!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Food Friday - Cherry Fluff Stuff

Wow, can you believe that it is Memorial  Day Weekend!  First off, I'd like to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mom.  Yep, it is her birthday today!  Now, back to food.  Whether you are celebrating with friends or just with your family, we all enjoy food on these long weekends so I wanted to share this simple, cool salad recipe with you . . it almost counts as a dessert too!

Cherry Fluff Stuff (aka 4th of July Salad)
adapted from MY MOM (in honor of her birthday HA!)

This salad has been a favorite for years and year - we even had it served at our wedding reception we love it so much.  The ingredient list is small, it is easy to throw together and it is cool and refreshing especially in the midst of a hot summer!

1 small can of crushed pineapple, well drained (this time I used Pineapple tidbits and that worked well too)
1 can of Cherry Pie Filling
1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 -8 oz container of Cool Whip (you can you more - it just makes it lighter and fluffier and not so sweet)

Mix everything together and chill for at least an hour. 

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What I'm Reading!

I haven't done a "what I'm reading" post in awhile because I haven't been reading too many really great books lately.  As a matter of fact, I've read a couple books that I wish I hadn't wasted my time, got half way through one book and said to myself "Seriously, why am I reading this stupid book" HA and have even thought about going to the local Christian book store, looking at "real" books, making a list of what I want and budgeting a little more money for my book habit so I can get so GOOD books!! GEESH!!

With my rant done, I do have a couple of books to pass on to you.

First up is an actually book I read - I have this series, as well as the original series, in  hardcover thanks to my mom.  A Wandering Heart (An Angel Island Novel) by Thomas Kinkade is the third book in this series.  This one bring a movie crew to the Island to use the perfect setting to record.  The main star meets someone on the island who changes her life.  The story winds through that discovery and is just so enjoyable to read!   Now, here is the sad news .. .. you may or may not know that Thomas Kinkade passed away at the beginning of April (just a few days after this book was released).  I am hoping that Katherine Spencer will be able to continue the books - I'd hate to lose "touch" with the great characters in both of the series.

This is one of those books that you shouldn't judge by the cover - when I saw this cover my thought was that it would not be a good book because it looks kind of cheesey . . .but A Dream Unfolding by Karen Baney was a great book.  It was a story that made me want to curl up on the couch and just read to get to the end to find out what happened.  Sometimes, an author writes a bunch of sentences and it gets published - sometimes though, they write a story that allows you to feel part of the lives of the characters and that is what I found from this book.  It is historical fiction and tells the store of a young wife who learns from many difficult lessons as she and her husband travel west in a wagon train.  I've added books 2 and 3 to my wish list :-)

I'm working now on clearing out my Kindle and deleting some books from my account.  Did anyone else end up with tons of dictionaries uploaded from Kindle?  I have them in about 6 languages - I think it was an amazon error but now I have to delete them all!!  I really want to get rid of stuff I am not going to read so I can stock up on some GOOD stuff for this summer - I'm sure I'll be outside a lot while the kids play so books are needed!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

99 Things

It's been awhile since I've seen anything in blog land that I've wanted to "copy" but I saw this idea over at Our Happily Everafters (and have seen it a few other places too) and decided to join in on the fun!

The things in bold are things I've done/accomplished/experienced.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
 (Ok, I didn't actually see it but we went to the museum to see it and didn't know it was  a holiday so it was closed!)
20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping
 (don't freak out - it was at camp, in the dark, with a few girl counselors - the things you do at camp)
27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing 

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing

 49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie

 56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car
 (Does a lease count?)
83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Got a tattoo
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee
I was actually surprised by how many I've done . . but there are some on that list that I don't even plan on doing either!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Too Cute Not to Toot!

So, let me explain a little something.  I have a few key blogs that I use to pick out my ideas - they host weekly linky party for crafts and such and gives me lots of opportunities to visit other blogs I would otherwise never find.  One of my loyal blogs has stepped back from blogging to focus more on her family (which is fantastic!) so I lost one of my favorite resources.  I'm trying to avoid using only Pinterest for the sole reason that Pinterest has kind of taken the personal touch away from blogs. No worries, I just have to find some other prime resources to get great ideas from to share with all of you!

First up is this cute idea from Artsy Va Va  and is perfect as so many in my region, at least, are getting ready to plant.  I know you can purchase corks online if you are like me and don't buy anything that has a cork :-)
I will admit that I first saw this idea on Pinterest but I'm putting it here because I also found it on a blog through a linky party.  The idea comes from Stars and Sunshine and looks so yummy!!
This idea from The Oxford Place Diaries and the real reason I'm posting it is to remember it.  It's a filing system and, if you know me, I'm always looking for ways to be more organized and even though I think setting up a system like this one might be time consuming - I like the over all idea and might try to incorporate it more into my day!
I love strawberries (and so does my son Josh!) so when I saw this great recipe from Recipes We Love, I couldn't pass it by.  I might have to try it out for the family party this weekend!

I love photos, as you may know, so when I find a cute idea that uses photos I have to share.  Ask Anna shares an easy tutorial for making photo blocks.  They would make a great gift for the grandparents but also a fun toy for the kids or a great conversation piece sitting on a coffee table.  What a great fun gift for a bride using engagement photos too!

You may recall that a few months ago I attempted to make a wreath using a pool noodle but it did not stay together.  After looking at this tutorial from Fox Hollow Cottage I think I discovered my problem . . . I cut the noodle in half!! :-)  Well, anyway, I think it is a cute idea  for a wreath overall whether you use a regular form or a pool noodle!

I created a summer planner for all of the activities we are going to hopefully do but it is open for change as I come across new ideas.  I love this idea from Train up a Child - I know my boys would love it and I think it is something I need to do on a day my husband is home too - he loves stuff like this!  As a side note (more to myself as a reminder) this site is one I want to check out for ideas for homeschooling and other things - it looks like a great blog.

This idea from Pre K and K Sharing because it is a beached theme unit and I have a three year old that has been asking to go to the beach since we had that really hot week in March.  We are actually hoping the weather cooperates and we can go to the beach Memorial Day weekend!!  This unit is a little old for my kids but I think I can take it and make it fit their level if needed.

Growing up, every once in awhile my mom would make homemade donuts.  I saw this post over at Life.Love.Larson and it made me hungry for just that :-)

I absolutely love this idea for a huge photo statement from This Girl's Life.  Down the road, I've mentioned wanting to go towards a beach/cottage feel in the living room so when I saw this idea I knew instantly that this will be an art piece in that room.  I'll be working on taking photos of the beach - the sand dunes, the water, the tall grasses - all to incorporate into a canvas like this . .. can you tell this makes me happy???

This cute wreath idea comes from Simply This and That and is cute but I can see, just as is stated in the tutorial, that this would be time consuming.  I think it is cute enough to warrant the time though :-)

My laundry room is out of the way where no one but me sees it but I still like to have it look nice since I spend a fair amount of time in and out of that room.  I really think that this idea from Burton Avenue is cute and easy.  To be honest, I like it best before it was antiqued but that is just me :-)

This idea from The DIY Dreamer is one of those "smack myself on the forehead ideas".  Why?  Because I've seen the magnets all over blogland using the glass beads but never ever thought about buttons!  Not only would these look cute in a craft room they would be great for working with kids on color!

As you can see, I had no problem finding some new sources - some right on my own blog list that I hadn't taken time to look through before :-) 

Coming up soon - I'm going to show you how I organize all of these ideas that I want to make - admittedly, it is time consuming to go back through all of the blog post and look for a particular idea plus I tend to get distracted and find millions of other ideas.  Instead I've created something that is working for me and I'll share that with you too!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Screen Doors and Fresh Wave

I bet you wonder where I'm going with a blog title like that, don't you?  Well, I really just want to share a couple of new products we've tried recently and actually really like.  (And no, I have no affiliation with any company - this is just my own personal opinion!)

First up is the Magic Mesh Instant Screen Door from Bed Bath and Beyond.
I had seen this in a recent flyer from BBB and thought it might work for us and then, much to my surprise, my mom picked one up and gave it to us.  Our main entrance is our Sliding Glass door in the kitchen.  Nope, not ideal but replacing it with a nice set of french doors is pretty far down on the list right now.  Our regular screen takes a beating throughout the year and now that the kids run in and out, that screen tends to get left open all day long.  Sure the dog loves it, but so does the outdoor cat (who, by the way, got in before we left on vacation and we didn't know it  . . until we got back!  It wasn't a big deal but boy was she glad to get back outside HA!).  When my husband looked at this, he was pretty skeptical that it would work and I was a little concerned that it would be a pain.  We figured we would try it and if it didn't work to keep it up, we could take it down and I could put it up on warm days when the slider was going to be open all day.

Boy we were wrong.  The screen is perfect.  Now, as with all things, we learned things after we put it up that would have made it a little neater but it still works fine.  The magnets REALLY pull it back together.  Even on a windy day, when the wind caught it a little while it was open, you could actually see the magnetics trying so hard to pull together HA  The kids quickly figured out that they can walk right through it and yes, you can really go through it with full hands.  The dog has NOT figured it out yet but has accidentally gone through it a few times.  The only time it is a pain is when the slider is closed and you have to go through both the slider and the screen to get out - but it is really similar to have a door and a screen door to go through I guess. 

When my husband put the sticky tabs on it to hang it, he did not realize they were actually Velcro so the Velcro didn't go on the same direction which is why we have a slight problem at the top - the pieces don't stick.  I really just need to pick up some more Velcro and we can fix that easily.  Also, we had to hang it, obviously, on the outside because there was no where to attach the second side if we hung it inside the door.  Even hanging  it outside, we had to attach one side to the glass door that doesn't open/close since the screen is bigger than our door opening but I don't think anyone would notice just walking in and out the door.  We both think it looks nice too and because it is darker/thicker, it also helps shield the sun a little from the kitchen too.

The next item is also from Bed, Bath and Beyond and is called Fresh Wave.  It is an Odor Neutralizing Product.
A little history.  When my husband was traveling over the road down to Chicago a few times a week he listened to a Chicago Radio Station every day and they would have a pet specialist come on the air periodically.  This Fresh Wave product is what they recommended to help neutralize any pet smell in your house.  When Darryl told me about it, I tried to find it but couldn't.  Well, last weekend while out and about, I got to spend a little time in BBB (my favorite store right now, by the way!).  I went into the bathroom and thought "Wow, it smells nice in here" and then I noticed a canister of the Fresh Wave Crystals sitting on the counter.  Needless to say I picked some up!  There was a combo pack with a 14 oz jar and then a small "sample" jar for $14.99.  We have a few stinky areas in our home (HA) one is the kitchen/stairwell/basement.  Because the stairs come right up to the basement - all musty, pet related smells (the little box sits near the bottom of the stairs) greet you as you walk in the door.  I placed the 14 oz canister on one of my new shelves in the kitchen and it actually blends in with the wall :-)  It really works - it smells good and keeps odors at bay.  Now for the true test.  I took the small one and put it in Nate's room.  No he doesn't stink but his diaper trash pail gets more use than any other one because all three boys end up getting changed in there at some point during the day (My two and the munchkin I babysit).  I can change the trash daily but throughout the day, wow, some days it's enough to knock you out.  On Thursday evening of last week I finally put it in there (there were some nasty diapers that day - so I doubted it would work).  I opened his door to get him up on Friday and it smelled clean and fresh in his room despite the trash (yes, I left it in there on purpose).  What a difference!!   Even if your home isn't "stinky" this product is just so fresh smelling.  I did not get one for the bathroom but I am going to - it's too good NOT to have one in there!!

There is one last product I picked up at Bed, Bath, and Beyond last weekend and that is a two pack of the Damp Rid tubs. 
The photo just shows the refills but I purchased the starter "kit" with the buckets - two for $5.99.  My sister-in-law uses these in her house and told me they actually worked so I picked them up for my bathroom and basement.  I've noticed a difference in the moisture level in both areas.  The one in the basement is placed in a little area right off the laundry room and within 24 hours I noticed that the floor in that area didn't look as damp and this morning I noticed it is dry looking.  I placed the 2nd one in the bathroom and have noticed instead of staying damp all day, it dries out pretty quickly after showers.  I plan on picking up the refill pack (4 refills for $6.99) soon so I have them when the others are gone.  Sometimes it is just a little thing that helps out :-)

I did pick up a few other things on my outing like a new paper towel holder that hangs in the kitchen (one less thing on the counter!), a banana holder (wait, a NEW thing on the counter HA!) because we ALWAYS have banana's sitting on the counter in our house, and a bottle to hold olive oil.  I used to have one but the cork eventually fell apart and I just never replaced it - my husband has been asking me too for . .years :-)

Have you tried any new products that are worth sharing? 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Goals For May

I'm trying to get back into setting some goals each month and yes, it is almost the end of May, but I still wanted to focus on some things this month.  With a wedding and vacation at the beginning of the month, my whole focus was getting things ready for that - now I'm focusing on some other things!

One thing I struggle with daily is having tasks to do that are not computer based.  I know that sounds dumb but with menus, grocery lists, planning activities, making lists . . . it is easy to spend hours in front of the computer.  I hate that feeling. 

You may recall that my theme word for this year is Celebrate.  At first, as I was writing this, I was thinking that I had kinda lost focused but really, I haven't.  I'm up to date on birthday cards; I planned a great vacation - the first one in 2 years; I put together busy bags; I have our summer plans almost set; we have a camping trip scheduled.  That isn't failure - that is Celebration at its best :-)  I do feel like when I set up my original Celebrate plan that I put myself in a box with certain areas.  Instead, I want to focus on things that need to get done and then explain how they show that "Celebrate" theme. 

My goals/plans for May are:

1.  Plan our 1st (maybe annual) family Cook Out Memorial Day Weekend - the date is set.  Now I need to think about food and some fun activities.  I'd like to set up some sort of fun photo area and get everyone doing some fun things.  This Celebrates family.

2. Declutter my basement.  Again.  - Oh my basement is my nemesis.  I cannot seem to come up with an organized way to keep up with it.  I've decided to do a couple of things.  One, I'm tired of having so much stuff stored - for so long I had this mindset that I need to keep things in case I use them in another house.  My mindset has changed - I've realized that my tastes are changing and, in reality, the stuff that is packed away is not stuff that fits my style which is why it is packed.  I plan on going through every tote again and cleaning out stuff that has been packed away with that mindset.  I then need to arrange the basement in such a way that it can "breath" so we don't have the same moisture problem we had last year.  I am then going set up bins for specific occasions/holidays so that when, for example, we get a bunch of plastic eggs from Easter Egg Hunts, they will have a home instantly.  Finally, I want to set up an area for putting things away.  This will include a good will bin - when the bin is full, it goes out.  Everything else should have a bin with room in it so that things can just go "home".  This Celebrates home.

3. Finalize our summer plan - I have everything written down and now need to refine it just slightly and then make a "purchase" or need list.  I'd like to have everything for June on hand and ready by June 1st.  I'm super excited about this plan and think it will be lots of fun and start to prepare us all of preschool this fall.  Part of this plan is making a place for easy storage/organization in the basement.  Some things will be used up and some things will be reused so organization is key!  This Celebrates My Kids

4. Next up is me.  I have two habits I'm trying to work on.  1) Daily quiet time.  I've talked about this before - I struggle with finding time for this but I actually like having my daily devotions in front of my kids; it sets a great example.  The latest Good Morning Girls study started on May 14th and is on the Proverbs 31 woman - something I've wanted to study for awhile.  2) Exercise and eating habits.  I'm really working on making changes - that's all I'm saying for now.  Well, I'll also say I'm working on ideas that fit into my life now.  This celebrates ME!

5.  Finally - misc things.  I have a whole list of misc things to accomplish this month:  Working on my veggie garden, canning plans and also sharing some canning info with my brother Jeff; I have some trips to work on - camping plans, our anniversary get-away, a week for my kids to go to my parents; I'm a little behind on scrapbooking so I need to order March and April photos and work on those this month.  I also need to look at my outstanding scrapbooking projects and figure out what needs to get done next; I have books to sell for my nephew and I REALLY need to get them listed THIS month. 

Notice I've dropped my Pinterest goals for this month?  I need to regroup on those and my Too Cute Ideas - I still love them both but I was getting overwhelmed with projects.  Also, I've had to not worry about my "Mantel" right now.  I was in the middle of Easter, A Wedding Shower and then all of the vacation stuff. . .something had to give.  For the summer, I really just want to pick up fresh flowers each week and keep a vase full on my table :-)

Sometime at the beginning of June I'll let you know how I did and also list my plans for the following month :-)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

This and That and our Menu for the week of May 20th

Welcome to another weekly installment of . . our menu :-)  I also use this post to catch up on our week too so it is now our "Catch up" post too !  After a busy 8 days of vacation, this week was pretty quiet.  I ended up with nothing this week - no choir practice and a scrapbooking crop I was going to attend got cancelled.  Darryl had practice but that was it :-)  The weather was beautiful so we spent a lot of time outside and I'm almost getting an "itch" to do some yard work.  Each summer I try to do one outdoor project - last year I planted a garden for the first time and the year before I put in a border around one area of our back yard.  I really do not like working in the yard so one project is about all I get done :-)  This year, besides putting in a small garden, I want to lay down a border in another area of our backyard and also move my black eyed susans, which are getting smothered by kids, dogs, day-lillies and rain to another area of the yard.  Wait.  That's three projects HA  Well, I also need to get some plants to put in along the garage and I'd like to plant some things in the area I'm going to lay the border.  We'll see how much gets done - my kids play outside almost every day unless it gets too hot so even if I take 15 minutes a day I think I can get a lot done.  (Unless we have a summer like last year where it is 90+ with humidity every day. .. .then nothing will get done!!).  With Memorial Day just around the corner, I need to get busy on the garden first :-) 

Enough of that - lets talk food :-)  Last week I do something I don't always do - I stuck pretty closely to our menu plan!  I must have picked stuff that we really liked ;-) 

Here's this weeks plan

Saturday: I had originally planned pizza for tonight but on Friday I mowed the lawn and was just too beat to cook despite having a pork loin in the crock pot so we ordered pizza.  So, we are going to have pulled port BBQ sandwiches tonight along with french fries.  .

Sunday: Cook out!  BBQ chicken on the grill, corn on the cob, Cherry Fluff Stuff salad, and biscuits

Monday: Man Pleasing Chicken (This is a new recipe!), Mac and Cheese and Roasted Cabbage Wedges.

Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner - Amish Breakfast Casserole, Lemon-Poppyseed Bread, fruit salad

Wednesday: Tortellini Soup with homemade bread.  Yes, I know it is pretty much summer but I noticed that tortellini was on sale and it made me crave this soup!!

Thursday: Darryl and I really love shrimp/fish tacos but I really haven't found great recipes - I have a new recipe to try for Shrimp Tacos . .. we'll see how it goes!,  homemade garlic bread and roasted green beans.  Nothing else to say except YUM!!

Friday: This is my husband's last day of work after working 12 days in a row so I think the kids will have hot dogs and we'll order out :-)

I also have a new cookie recipe to try as well as a new banana bread recipe to try . .. what?  I need some recipes to post ! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Vacation Day 5 . .and then some . . The zoo, unpacking, Playworld and Mother's Day!

This post will wrap up our last day in Toledo as well as the rest of the weekend!  Feel free to catch up on Days One, Two, Three and Four before reading this post!

Day 5 was our last full day of away from home vacation and we planned a full day of fun!  We learned on Wednesday to not take the kids to the continental breakfast . .. there are way too many choices and too many distractions for them.  Instead, we gave them their favorite - PopTarts and Chocolate Milk while Darryl and I took turns getting breakfast from downstairs (don't worry, we brought them up some yummy cereal and donuts!)  This made life much easier and gave us time to actually eat :-)  Once we were done with breakfast, we packed, loaded up and headed off to the Toledo Zoo for the day.  Now, we are zoo people - we love to go see the animals and all the fun stuff and we had heard great things about this zoo.  It was the perfect day for walking around the zoo, and walk we did HA!

Now, I'm going to keep it real.  The Toledo Zoo is not on our list of favorite zoos.  There really are not that many animals compared to many other, even small, zoos.  Add to that the Lions, Hippos, Rino's, Wolves, and Elephants were not on display due to renovations; they have no big bears, zebras, camels and so forth and it really is not worth the price that is charged.  I did something I rarely do - I contacted the zoo after the fact through Facebook and stated what I thought - I was not surprised to see many people agree with me.  Don't get me wrong - we had FUN!  The boys loved the zoo and had no idea what wasn't there - they had a Sloth Bear lick the glass in front of their noses; a gorilla the size of king kong walk by in front of them and fell in love with the Aquarium and the fish!!!  I kept hearing these cute words, "Mom, I want to see more aminals" (yes, that spelling error is on purpose!) We did walk the whole zoo and came to the children's area at the end - there were the cute masks that you see in the pictures that the boys loved and then a little play area that was just great.  The boys loved the slides!!!  It was really, truly a great day!

Once we left the zoo, we had one last stop and I did not get any photos!!  Boyds Retro Candy Store is fantastic.  It's a little store on a street corner just off of I-75 packed full of just about every kind of candy you can think of.  The boys had so much fun!  From the moment we walked in, it was a treat.  They boys were each given their own basket and we let them pick out what ever they wanted.  They also have a cooler filled with all kinds of Soda's - all in glass bottles :-)  Afterwards I wished I had taken my camera to capture the boys picking out candy - it was just so cute!!!  You can also order online so if you are looking for a specific candy for a party - check out their site!

One we got our fill of candy, we headed on our way with one final stop to make.  IKEA.  Yes, you read that right :-)  There is an IKEA store that I have never had a chance to go to; since it was on our way home we stopped.  We went right to the children's area because I was looking for ideas for the boys rooms - in the showroom there are areas set up to look like kids room and the boys found toys and fell in love.  At one point, Josh laid down on a bed and told me that he needed to sleep there - he wasn't going home HA!  Next time, I want to go back without kids so that my husband and I can really look at some things and make some plans.  They have some great stuff and we even have some Christmas gifts picked out for the kids.  Do you know what else we did?  We ate dinner there.  Let me say . . it is good and it is cheap!! 

Once we had finished up, we headed home.  All we did when we got home was put the kids to bed, unload, and crash HA!  It always feels good to come home doesn't it? 

The last few days of our vacation - or staycation - were pretty simple.  On Friday morning, we went and got our dog.  She smelled pretty since we had her groomed (the kids were SOOO disappointed when we got home on Thursday and China wasn't home!!).  Then Darryl worked in the yard and I unpacked, did laundry, and went grocery shopping!!!  Saturday was a nice family day - we took the boys to Playworld and they had a blast.  Again, I chose not to take my camera - I wanted to be able to just have fun without a camera around my neck :-)  We were there for over 2 hours and the boys could have played longer.  For fun, we got Chinese to go and ate at home - it was sooooo good!!!

To end the week with Mother's Day was perfect!  Darryl "let" me sleep in as long as I wanted because he knows I love to just lay in bed.  Shoot, I didn't even turn on the TV - I just went in and out of sleep :-)  Once I got up, he fixed a great breakfast and totally took care of the kids too.  I even snuck outside and sat in the sun, reading, for over an hour . . it was so quiet out there HA!  Later in the afternoon we took the kids for ice cream and then Darryl took care of making dinner and he completely cleaned up the kitchen.  It was the perfect day off!

So, did we have fun on vacation with two toddlers?  The answer is YES!!!  I have already had people make comments to me about how crazy we must be but our kids were perfect.  It was overall an easy trip to take with them and they are already asking when we can go back to a hotel again.  Oh, and every night, Nate crawls into Josh's bed while we say bedtime prayers and then tells us he wants to sleep there.  Maybe putting them into one room isn't such a bad idea . . .HA!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vacation Day 4 - Boats, Imagination, and some great food

Just stopping in today?  Check on Day1, Day 2, and Day 3 of our vacation first!

The boys woke up at about 8:00 - we expected them to sleep later but I think sleeping in the same bed kinda kept that from happening.  We took the boys down to Breakfast . . .that was an experience to say the least.  They did enjoy the cereal . . . and donuts :-) 

The first thing we headed out to do was  the Canal Experience.  I had read about it online and one of the main reasons we wanted to go is because it has an original working lock that they take you through on the boat that is drawn by mules, just like it was way back when.  When we arrived, we almost didn't get on the boat.  Come to find out, this is prime school field trip time so the boat was technically full based on coast guard capacity but the nice lady selling tickets let us go anyway . . .she didn't count the kids putting the boat at just one over capacity.  We were worried that it would be crowded but, because it was all little kids, there were tons of empty seats so it was no big deal. 

Notice the difference in the two faces above??  For whatever reason, Nate did NOT want to go on the boat.  He stood there saying over and over again "No boat mama no boat".  Josh, on the other hand, LOVED it!  Darryl was actually getting up to get off the boat with Nate as they shut the door; thankfully he stopped crying and just buried his head into Darryl's shoulder.  As soon as we got off the boat, he was his happy self.  I have no idea why he hated it but he did. 

Once we left the metropark, we headed back into the city for lunch.  We decided to have lunch at Tony Packo's, a "famous" Hungarian Hot Dog and Chili place.  If you are a M*A*S*H fan, you may even remember Tony Packo's being talked about by Klinger.  The food was fabulous.  Darryl got the Chili Mac and I got their famous Paprika Chicken. Oh wow.  It was fantastic food.  Instead of pasta, they put the chili and chicken on top of homemade little dumplings.  We also got a hot dog but neither one of us were fans - they were the tough skin type of dogs and that really isn't the kind we love :-)  The kids inhaled their hot dogs and fries though :-)  We will go back to this place to eat when we go back to Toledo :-)  We were too hungry to take photos :-)

After lunch we went to The Imagination Station - a great Children's Hands on Museum. Now, there is a little story behind this.  Back when I taught school, we took our students to COSI - a huge hands on science institute in Toledo.  When we started planning out trip we planned it around COSI . . ..about a week before we left, I discovered that COSI closed in 2007!  Talk about frustration.  It took me a few more days to actually figure out that The Imagination Station had moved in and had taken over COSI.  I'm so glad that we went.  There was a whole toddler area where our boys played for over 2 hours - they loved it.  We never even saw any other part of the museum.

 Once we could drag the kids away from the museum ;-), we headed to dinner.  This dinner was our "fancy" dinner - some place really nice more for Darryl and I.  The downside is that we were still pretty full from lunch!.  One of the unique things about about some of the Ohio State Parks is that they have added really nice resorts with great restaurants.  We went to Maumee Bay State Park  and ate dinner at the Water's Edge Restaurant.  Wow, such great food.  Darryl and I both got Perch Sandwiches.  Talk about good!  After dinner, we drove around the park to see the beach and the trails - talk about a nice place.  Darryl and I want to go back and stay one of these days.  Again, no photos - we were tired . . and just enjoying some family time.

By the time we got back to the room, it was late so the boys went "right" to bed.  We thought we had the bed pretty well set up but Nate fell off the foot of the bed in the middle of the night.  He cried for a few minutes while Darryl held him but then just wanted to get back in bed and go to sleep. 

This was a fantastic day :-)  The food was great and the playtime was even better!

Day 5 + the weekend will post tomorrow - there won't be a recipe post this week since I  haven't cooked many new recipes lately :-)  I'll get back to that post next week!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vacation Day 3 - Some Driving, Some Animals, Spaghetti, Swimming and Pop Corn :-)

If you are just joining this vacation series, check out Day 1 and Day 2 before reading this post :-)

We got up Tuesday Morning and had to pack up to head out for the rest of our vacation.  We had originally planned to meet my brother Kel and his family in a little town called Yellow Springs but that didn't end up working out for various reasons.  Instead, we packed up and headed out in the area of Yellow Springs to a place called Youngs Dairy
 The farm had a lot of goats and a few young cows in the petting area.  The boys loved them but did not really want to touch them :-)  We were a little early in the season so some of the play areas were not open yet which was fine.

After playing with the signs and enjoying the animals, we went into the restaurant and got lunch.  Darryl and I both got fried  Cheese Curds with our sandwiches - they were fantastic.  While the kids finished their lunches, we also got some ice  cream - homemade right there - and it was so very yummy!!! 

Once we finished lunch, we headed on our way to Toledo.  We took some back rounds part of the way and really enjoyed it, even stopping to get some Slushies at a little Ice Cream Shop. 

We arrived at our hotel, Fairfield Inn and Suites, right at 4:00, checked in, unloaded and settled in.  I'm sure the hotel clerk thought we were going to be "those" people when our small cooler fell off the cart and dumped water all over the floor right in front of the elevator ;-) LOL  Oops!!! 

For dinner that night, we ventured into downtown Toledo and went to the The Spaghetti Warehouse

As you can see, the boys loved their dinner :-)  They both inhaled their Spaghetti :-)  Have you ever eaten at a Spaghetti Warehouse?  I did years ago and wanted to go back . . .honestly, it was just ok.  The sauce on the Lasagna tasted like it came out of a can and, yes it was 15 layer s. .. 14 of which were pasta noodles ;-) LOL  Oh well.  It was ok, just not some place I'd go again :-)

After we ate, we headed back to the hotel for some fun.
 Can you guess what we did?  Yep, we went swimming!!!  This was Nate's first time in a pool and Josh hadn't been in one since he was a baby.  They were beyond excited (We had actually walked them down to the pool on our way in from dinner and they couldn't wait to get into the big "bath")  Now neither of boys can swim so when we got into the pool area Darryl and I each took one of the boys and held them the whole time.  Nate had no fear.  As a matter of fact, he kept trying to get away from Darryl and would put his face in the water (coming up choking from drinking water though HA).  Josh loved the pool. . .. as long as he could hang on to me for dear life.  I would take him back to the steps where he would splash me and then jump into my arms and want me to swim to the other side and then bring him back.  They were beyond thrilled with the hour we spend in the water!
Once we got back to the room, the boys got baths while I attempted to popped popcorn to have for a special snack.  The microwave wasn't very good so we only got about 1/4 bag popped.  The boys loved their special treat.  Once they were done, we tucked them into bed.  Yes.  The same bed.  For the first time ever.  They thought it was awesome.  They did play for a little bit (we were sitting on the other bed watching TV - they thought that was fun too HA  It took them about 15 minutes to settle down and go to sleep. 

Another great day :-)  The boys were beyond thrilled to be staying in another hotel and were looking forward to more fun!

Tomorrow will bring day 4 of vacation - a very full day of fun and great food!