Saturday, August 30, 2008

Can Someone Please....

tell Princess that my antique wash stand isn't a good resting place?
There isn't much fun going on here today. Curtis is trimming and installing a couple of shelves for me. I am repurposing a closet that has become nothing but a catch-all for all sorts of nothing. As soon as he's done, it's my turn to get back to work. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the plan in my head for the closet actually works in real life.
Wish me luck!
Have Fun!
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Friday, August 29, 2008

Show and Tell Friday!

I'm trying something new this Friday. I've decided to join Kelli over at her "There's no place like home." blog for Show and Tell Friday. It is exactly what it sounds like. You show something you have and then you tell about the item. If you are a regular reader, you know I'm sentimental and I love things that have been passed on or things with a story. When my Aunt Carole passed away and we were cleaning out her room, I knew the story behind many of her precious possessions. I think my Mom and Sister were surprised that I retained all the information. Looking back at the time I spent with my Aunt Carole, I now realize it was a blessing for her to share those stories of her favorite things with me. Through me her legacy will be carried on my daughter...who I am afraid has inherited my sentimental side. Since the passing of my Aunt Carole, I've wanted to start a "My Favorite Things" scrapbook so Allison has the stories of the things that are precious to me in the event something ever would to happen. I know "things" are not important in life and you should definitely know that I already know that by reading my blog. The moments with Allison are my most precious things in my life. However, when I'm gone Allison will have everything of mine and I'm sure she would like to know the stories to them. So. I am so behind in my scrapbooks that I'll probably not be able to start the favorite things one for a long time. This is a perfect alternative for now. You can click here and it will take you to Kelli's blog. There you will see other bloggers that have linked their show and tells too.
I've always admired my Mom's Mother's Ring. I consider it a sort of badge of honor. I always knew that I wanted one when I grew up and had my kids. do you have a Mother's Ring when you have only one child. Would it be a solitaire? If so, what would designate it at a Mother's Ring?
After much thought on this I decided I wanted a family ring. One that would show what I am most proud of...our little family.
I dropped my hints to Curtis for a birthday or holiday idea. I wasn't specific on what I wanted. Just that I wanted it to have all of our birthstones. I left the setting up to him. He has done very well on picking out jewelry over the years so I didn't worry.
On Christmas Eve when we opened up our presents, I opened up the most special and perfect family ring ever. More than anyone would ever know.
Here it is. It has Allison's ruby birthstone bigger in the middle and mine and Curtis's birthstones smaller on either side. It's exactly what I wanted. I wanted Allison's in the middle bigger but I left everything up to him.
It's perfect!

Here's where it gets sentimental and interesting. When I was turning eighteen my parents were getting me a ring for my birthday. My older sister had chosen with my Mom's helps a beautiful ruby accented by diamonds. It was her birthstone. (Allison's too) It was gorgeous. However, when it was my turn, I didn't want my birthstone. I wanted a "Daughter's Ring." I wanted a ring that had my birthstone with my Mom's and my Dad's in it too. She took me to the jewelry store and I picked one out of the big book with all the available settings. The man at the jewelry store suggested man made gems because my birthstone was blue topaz and he said that it wouldn't be very colorful. My Mom agreed with me and we went with real gemstones. I couldn't wait until it came in. As far as I was concerned, it was perfect. Color and all.

Here it is. Notice anything?

YES! Curtis picked out the EXACT same setting as I did 25 years previously. How cool is that?!? He had never seen this ring as I stopped wearing it years before I met him when I acquired new jewelry. Can you believe it? It's crazy! My family ring couldn't be more perfect for me. It not only is my badge of honor but also a reminder at how well of a match Curtis and I are together. I'm hoping one day Allison will wear this ring and it will be her daughter's ring. Now she'll have the whole story.

Have Fun!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

My New Favorite Vegetable Recipe!

First I want to say "This is NOT my recipe." I found it on Recipe Zaar. It's one of my favorite recipe sites. Since the internet, I do not buy cookbooks any more. There are so many great sites online to search for tried and true recipes with ratings from others who have tried it. I have some of my favorites listed over there ----> in my sidebar. This recipe link is here. I love cabbage....a lot. I could eat Halupki (stuffed cabbage rolls) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Obviously that isn't too practical so I went on a search for cooked cabbage. There is a ton of them out there but I picked this one because it seemed easier and healthier than the rest I found. Don't get me wrong. The ones that said to sauté the cabbage in bacon fat sounded tasty but I thought I better stick with something a little less fattening.
Simmered Cabbage
The Participants: 1 head of cabbage, olive oil, butter, salt and pepper. I omitted the sherry but feel free if you like.
Grab a big sauté pan. Please don't look at the condition of my pan. This is my favorite as you can tell by how well loved it is. It's a Cook's Essentials deep sauté pan from QVC but they don't sell it in this size anymore. So I'll love this pan for as long as I can.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan.

While that's melting, chop up your cabbage into about 1 inch squares. The recipe calls for a 1/2 of cabbage but I wasn't sure what that meant so I used 8 cups and it was perfect.
Cool! Look at the pretty design!

I know! I'm weird!

:::blurry pic alert:::

Add the cabbage, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pan. Oh my! I may have misjudged the pan. It's a little full!

Ooops! I forgot the chicken broth. I used light and fat free. You'll need this a little later.

Stir and sauté the cabbage for about 5 minutes.

This looks just about right.

Now add 1 cup of the chick broth and bring to a boil.

Once it boils, turn it down to simmer and cover it. You'll need to stir it frequently so the bottom doesn't burn.
It should probably take about 15 minutes to get the cabbage tender. When it's tender, take off the lid.
Turn the heat back up so the broth boils. Make sure to stir it so it doesn't burn. After the broth reduces by half, it is done.
Yummy! This is the finished product!

This is the recipe copied exactly from the Recipe Zaar site by the original poster. The items in red are my adjustments or comments.

Simmered Cabbage

1/2 head cabbage, chopped into approx 1 inch squares or pieces (I used 8 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth (I prefer it with the chicken) (Me too!)
3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional) (I didn't use this)

~Heat oil and butter in large heavy and wide saucepan or sauté pan; add cabbage, salt, pepper, and stir over low heat for 5 minutes.
~Add broth (I usually add a bit of sherry, too )and bring to boil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, for about 15 minutes or until cabbage is tender.
~Raise heat to medium, uncover and let juices reduce to about half (be careful not to let burn). ~Taste and adjust seasoning, serve hot.

Have Fun!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Baby is a 2nd Grader!

Look at the smile on this face! She was so excited to start second grade. (Sorry for the shadows on the pictures but the morning sun was too bright for her sensitive eyes. So I had a choice to have shadows or pics with her wearing sunglasses. Obviously I wanted to see her pretty face!) I suppose I should have taken a picture of her when she got home. She was on cloud nine! She loves school and loves her teacher. Boy isn't this a change from the beginning of last year?

Withdrawing her from that school last year was the best thing we could have done for her. My one regret is that I didn't do it the first week. I'm sorry she stayed there for 8 weeks. Thankfully, she has bounced back and loves school and learning now. We owe a lot of it to her first grade teacher. She worked with her, gained her trust and turned Allison around. We will remember her forever. I've had a couple of people ask why I never finished the story on my blog of what happened at the beginning of first grade. To be honest, it got too painful. When I started the story we were living the nightmare. Then we moved on and was rebuilding the damage that was done by that teacher. I just couldn't bring myself to keep writing about it. It became stressful for me so I decided to stop in mid-story. I'm sorry but I had to do what was best for my family. I had to stop thinking about it, stop putting energy to it and help Allison move past it. Thanks for understanding.

Let's move on to this year. When Allison found out who her teacher was, her reply was "That's the one I wanted!" I had heard from another Mother that she was a lot of fun. This was a good sign for me. Allison works better with fun. She needs warm and fuzzy...not a my way or the highway kind of teacher. She came home yesterday very excited about school and her teacher. She said that she let us throw paper balls at each other. I said "What?" She said the kind of balls made when you scrunch up a piece of paper. She then said that they got to throw them like basketballs into the waste paper basket. She split them up into teams and then they had Popsicles. Hmm. After hearing all of this, I am thinking that I want to go back to 2nd grade! Then I got to thinking.....what a SMART teacher. She got every single one of those students on her side the very first day of school. I know Allison "loves" her and thinks she is so "cool" and "fun."

She also had to go potty as soon as she got home. She said she didn't go at all and almost wet her panties twice. What? Why didn't she go??? Well. She didn't want to miss anything. She said the teacher was teaching us important stuff that I didn't want to interupt to ask her if I could go.

Here's one last picture of her with her backpack and her first day of school outfit. She said that when she out grows it, she wants to take it to Grandmas and "adjust" it so she can wear it forever. LOL! That's my crazy kid!

One last thing. When I was making sure her seat belt was tight in the van on our way to school, she looked at me and said "I can't believe I'm a second grader." Me either baby, me either.

I think this year is going to be great!

Thank goodness!

Have Fun!

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Pizza...Our Way!

I do not make homemade pizza. Not because I can't but because I've never tried. I need to set that as a goal. Maybe for 2009. If you have a good homemade pizza recipe, drop me a line if you would like to share it with me. In the meantime, I buy the Schwan's Special Recipe Four Cheese Pizzas and keep them in the freezer for when we want pizza. They are delish but I always doctor them up to suit my family. We had one for lunch yesterday and when it came out of the oven, it got me thinking.
What does our choice of toppings say about us?
So I went on a search. You know you can find pretty much anything you want out there on the web.
What a wonderful tool!

Let's start with our topping choices. Allison likes hers with just pepperoni. I like mine with mushrooms, red onion and sprinkled with cilantro. And Curtis likes his with pepperoni and mushrooms.

Now let's find out what it all means!

What Allison's choices reveal about her!

You eat like a European. A little bit of everything, but too much. You stay svelt through portion control.

You are a very picky pizza eater. Not any pizza will do. You fit in best in the Northeast part of the US.

You like food that's traditional and well crafted. You aren't impressed with "gourmet" foods.

You are dependable, loyal, and conservative with your choices.

You are definitely unique and artistically inclined.

You should consider traveling to Prague.

The stereotype that best fits you is geek. You're the type most likely to order pizza to avoid leaving your computer.

What Cindi's choices reveal about her!

Your appetite is pretty average. You don't go overboard - but you don't deprive yourself either.

You are a very picky pizza eater. Not any pizza will do. You fit in best in the Northeast part of the US.

You like food that's traditional and well crafted. You aren't impressed with "gourmet" foods.

You are dependable, loyal, and conservative with your choices.You are cultured and intellectual.

You should consider traveling to Vienna.

The stereotype that best fits you is hippie. You knew it was coming.

What Curtis's choices reveal about him!

You have a hearty appetite. You are likely to complain if a restaurant has small portions.

You are a very picky pizza eater. Not any pizza will do. You fit in best in the Northeast part of the US.

You like food that's traditional and well crafted. You aren't impressed with "gourmet" foods.

You are generous, outgoing, and considerate with your choices.You are cultured and intellectual. You should consider traveling to Vienna.

The stereotype that best fits you is geek. You're the type most likely to order pizza to avoid leaving your computer.

So now it's your turn! Click below to find out!

Have Fun!
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Sunday, August 24, 2008


UGH!!! Why is it so hard to find narrow shoes for my daughter?
Because shoe manufacturers are not making them anymore.
That is the answer that I received from a specialty shoe store that I took Allison to yesterday. He said that they used to make Narrow, Medium and Wide. Now they are making Medium, Wide and Extra Wide. He said he can't even keep the EXTRA wide in stock. It sells out first. He said that he sees narrow feet like Allison's once maybe twice a year.
This is frustrating! VERY frustrating!
This is what we ended up with but they don't fit her feet the way they should!
The length is fine but they are loose on her feet.
He said in a couple of weeks once they are broken in, I'll need to get inserts to lift her foot up to the top of them.
She's not that happy with them. I don't blame her. They aren't very pretty but she understands they were our only choice. We have no other options...other than to let her wear her athletic shoes every day. They are not narrows but at least they tie and keep her feet in them. I hope.
I spent over an hour yesterday online looking for narrow shoes for her. Every website I tried to order shoes from said the narrows were not available. Then why even list them on the site?!?!?
If anyone out there in blogland can help me, I will love you till the day I die!
I'm looking for size 12 1/2 brown or black youth shoes in NARROW!
If you know of a website or a store that sells them, please drop me a line.
Have Fun!
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mom's Away!

Hey! Wake up!
Mom's away with the kid. She's looking for school shoes for those skinny little narrow feet that kid has. COME ON! Let's see what trouble we can get into before she gets home!
Never mind! Your idea is better!
Have Fun!
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Friday, August 22, 2008

A Family Favorite Indulgence!

I've mentioned before that we are eating healthier these days. This recipe no way no how fits into healthy eating. If you ever watched Paula Deen, you would think this is her recipe. It has two sticks of butter in it! Definitely not a low fat recipe! It is a family favorite but we only have it for family get togethers. This way there is not much left over if any at all. Thank goodness! This casserole has a way of playing with my mind. It calls my name from the refrigerator!

Let's get started making the "Hash Brown Casserole."
There are a ton of versions of this recipe out there. I have seen it with different kind of potatoes and different kind of toppings. This is the version that I use. Although I like onions, I don't like them in this casserole so I've omitted them. If you want to add one small onion chopped feel free.
The participants: 1 bag of hash browns (I usually use the store brand but they didn't have any that day so I had to buy the name brand), 16 oz. sour cream, 2 sticks of butter, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, pepper and corn flakes.

Now go and find yourself a BIG bowl and I mean big! This is my Tupperware fix-n-mix bowl. I think it's 26 cups.

Put the whole container of sour cream into the bowl.

Add the can of cream of chicken soup.

I can't find my recipe right now. I looked. I promise. It is no where to be found. It's odd because I keep them all in the same place! Anyway, it's time to add the pepper but I can't remember how much. I'm pretty sure it's 1/4 teaspoon. Honestly, I never measure it. I just shake away.
Now dump the two cups of shredded cheddar cheese in to the bowl. Mild? Sharp? It doesn't matter. Pick your favorite!
Now it's time to melt your butter or butta as Paula would say. I use my Pampered Chef small micro-cooker. It's the only thing I use it for. I'm strange. I know.
Now add the melted butta to the bowl. I'm sorry. I meant to say butter. I think I just channeled Paula Deen there for a second!
Now get in there and stir it all together.
This is what it should look like. If yours doesn't look like this, you better check the recipe. You might have missed something.
Now add the bag of frozen hash browns. Yes, I said frozen. I've seen some recipes that said to thaw them before. Not that I am a chef or anything but I would think that they would break down a little when you stir them. Anyway, when you add the hash browns, stir it fast. Since they are frozen they will make your mixture very cold very fast. This in turn makes it hard to stir so work fast. Your bicep will thank you.

See. I worked fast!
Now dump the mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Smooth it out flat. I like to press it down too. By the way, make sure you have sprayed your dish with a non-stick spray. I have forgotten once and the pan was hard to clean. Please learn from my mistake and spray away!
Now it's time for the topping. My family likes the crunch so I've double the topping. Feel free to cut it in half if you like but the crunch on the top is the best. Trust me on this.
Measure out 4 cups of corn flakes.
Throw it in a gallon Ziploc bag. A freezer bag works well. This double guard works REALLY well. Curtis picked them up when I asked him to pick up a few groceries for me. I usually buy the Target brand bags so this was a real treat. I hoard them! I don't want the box to come to an end! Anyway, my point here is that the corn flakes will puncture little holes in the bag. So you want to make sure you use a strong bag. Go ahead and crush them. I use my baker's roller but a can of soup works fine too.

Melt the other stick of butter and add it to the crushed corn flakes. This is why I told you to use a strong bag. Those little puncture holes would be big puncture holes and you would have a mess here. Some butter will still seep through the little holes but work fast. You'll be fine. Make sure all the corn flakes are coated or they will burn in the oven.
Now dump all the corn flake mixture onto the top of the potato mixture.
Ta Da! You are ready to bake! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.
The finished product!
This is also a great do ahead casserole. Make it the day before and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it for your get together.

Hash Brown Casserole
2 lbs. frozen hash browns
16 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 t. pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 sticks of melted butter (1 stick for base and 1 for topping so keep them separate)
4 cups corn flakes
~Mix the first 4 ingredients and 1 stick of melted butter together well.
~Add the hash browns to the mixture.
~Put the mixture into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish.
~Crush the corn flakes in a Ziploc bag.
~Add 1 stick of melted butter to the crushed corn flakes.
~Put corn flake mixture on top of base.
~Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr. 15 min.
Have Fun!
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Our Zoo Pics!

As promised, here are our pictures of our trip to the zoo!
It was a beautiful Sunday so the zoo was crowded. I don't do well with crowded! It was really hard to take pictures with so many people around. They rushed us through seeing the new babies so I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked. Also, some of my pictures are blurry. Sorry! I hope you enjoy them anyway.
I surprised Allison by seeing if her best friend was available to go with us. Thankfully she was and they had a blast together. Here they are ready to go with the tickets in hand. Yes, the beautiful tickets they didn't let me keep!
First thing they wanted to do was ride the merry-go-round.
This tiger didn't seem to mind all the people at the zoo. He was content just laying in the sun.
It was their idea to sit on the rock for a picture. You would think they would of at least smiled!
We saw pink flamingos...
and dwarf crocodiles.
There are these green boxes by all of the animals and you can put your key in to listen about the animals.
Here's the king sunning himself as well!
The Pittsburgh Zoo has 3 new babies. One tiger cub and two baby elephants.
Here is the adorable baby tiger. She was born on Mother's Day. I could have just swooped her up and ran. I would have loved to have taken her home. So adorable! You can read more about her here.

We also saw zebras...

and giraffes...

while waited to see the new baby elephants. You can read about them here and here. It was so strange seeing them. It was as if they weren't real. I guess since they are so small and it's rare to see a baby, your mind has trouble believing least mind did. Anyway, they stay close to their Mother's and when they walk they almost walk underneath them.

What are you thinking when you read this sign?

My thought was that Jackson was a busy boy!

I don't know which is which but here is one...

and here is the second one!

Aren't they cute?

Run Girls! There's a bear behind you!

Who you looking at?!?!

This was really cool! It's a balloon of a lionfish on top of the aquarium.

It's hard to get a picture through the plexi-glass but I tried my best. See the two in the middle of the picture? Now look at the right one of the two. That poor thing must have a nervous habit because he/she was picking all of it's feathers off! Ouch!

I LOVE the jellyfish!

This blurry thing is a hammerhead shark. They have a really cool shark tank. We sat there a while and just watched them all.

A big fish at the bottom of the shark tank. Truth be told here is that I took this picture because it was the only thing in the shark tank that wasn't moving!

Yippee!!! We are about to see the polar bears!

I have to say here that the polar bears were my absolute favorite. I believe this is the newest exhibit to the zoo. It opened November 2006. I could have sat there all day watching them! They were playing in the water so the best place to watch them from is the tunnel underneath. This where I took the pictures. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get really good shots but I still like them just the same. You can read more about them here.

It figures as soon as I was to snap this picture, the meerkat moved!

The girls had fun sliding down the two story tree!

Yes! That's a snake behind them! Don't worry there's plexi-glass between them and it!

Best buds!

Love the look on her face here! We were trying to get a picture of the catfish with her but it wouldn't' cooperate!

A little log ride!

I guess the tiger and lion weren't the only ones sunning themselves!

Hey girls! Wave at me! I guess I should have told them to look too!

I love the sea otters too...except it's almost impossible to get a picture of them. They swim way too fast!

We were on our way out of the zoo and this was too cute. I wonder what they were talking about?

One last stop before the exit!

They love their dippin' dots! They both got chocolate chip cookie dough. Hey! Did you know that it's good luck if you get a colored one in with it? I didn't either but it is in their world!

Thanks for sticking with me for all of these pics!

Be sure to come back, I think I'll share a recipe next!

Have Fun!

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