Monday, December 19, 2011

Things I NEVER Thought I'd Say...Then I Had Children!

Before I had children, I assumed there would be the everyday sort of sayings.
"Eat all your vegetables before dessert."  
"No hitting."
"Of course I love you."
And the one every parent can't wait to say simply because they heard their own parents say it, "Because I said so."


Then there are the things I never thought I would ever...I mean EVER say, but alas over the years, I have had to say some very odd things.  Why?  Because I actually had children.

  1. Stop licking the window.  That doesn't mean you can lick the walls or the floor either.
  2. No, we do not flush our Star Wars light sabers down the toilet.
  3. Please get your toe out of your nose.
  4. You are not 99 so please stop whining about being old.  You are only 5.
  5. No, you can not give the fish a bath with your bubbles.  Wait!  Did you put the bubbles in the fish tank?!
  6. Please take the millipede out of your mouth.
  7. Please take the beetle out of your mouth.
  8. Why would you want your head to get stuck, AGAIN?
  9. It is just a song, so no, we can't have a hippo.  No, we can't have a whale either.
  10. Did you just put a hole in the wall?  Why would you want to see what is on the inside of the wall?
  11. We don't ride dogs like horses.  Get off the dog.
  12. Get your finger out of your brother's nose.
  13. Get your foot out of your brother's mouth.
  14. Please take the leaves out of your mouth.  We don't eat leaves off the trees.
  15. Please stop eating rocks.
  16. Who painted the floor with fingernail polish?!  I don't care if you wanted the white carpet to be pink.
  17. We don't draw on the TV or windows.  If you want to see ______ then put the movie in the player...don't draw _______ on the TV.  As for the windows, I can't change what the view looks like outside...sorry.
  18. The closet shelves are not rock climbing walls.
  19. Please take the underwear off your head.  It is not a mask.
  20. No, I don't want to smell your "fart"
  21. No, you can not body slam your sister.
  22. Did you just drop a treasure chest on her head?
  23. Why on Earth would you want to do that?  No, I never told you not to, but I didn't think it was necessary to do so.  
  24. No, we are not going to chase the turkey so we can cut its head off and pluck its feathers.  We can buy a turkey at the store if you want to cook a turkey.
  25. Please stop throwing yourself onto the floor.
  26. Just because a dog does it, does not mean we do it!
And my personal favorite...No we can not keep the dead mole as a pet.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sometimes I Forget

The kids were acting...well, like kids.  I had a headache, was on the phone, my husband was trying to tell me something, and I was trying to cook dinner all at the same time.  I got off the phone as quickly as I could and glared at my husband and children.  Instead of taking a moment to gather myself and breathe, I took my frustrations out on them.  Zach responded with, "We were just playing.  We're kids."  In my anger, I yelled, "Grow up!"  They stopped in their tracks and looked at me with hurt expressions.    I immediately regretted the words and wished I could take them back.

Zach had said it perfectly.  They are just kids!  I forget that sometimes.  I think all parents do at some point or another.  It is important, however, to remember they are just kids.  Like most mothers, I want to keep them little and innocent for as long as I can...and yet here I was yelling for them to grow up.  Tisk, Tisk.  What was I thinking?

Caitlin asks many questions ABOUT EVERYTHING :) and can't sit still during a movie.  I don't think even a seat belt would keep her in her seat if furniture came with one.  Zach likes to eavesdrop and pretend he is constantly making movies (think Transformers or any robot fighting type of movie).  Expect to hear giggles and BOOM sounds or noises radiate from their rooms at any given point during the day.  

Then, there are the moments when they have very rational conversations, behave like perfect angels (which they do more often than not), and sit quietly while reading encyclopedias.  It is at times like these that I sometimes forget he is only eight and she is only five.   I have to remind myself.  

After they have long fallen asleep, I find myself watching them from the doorway or sitting on the edge of the bed listening to them breathe and watching them deep within their slumber.  They look so young, peaceful, and small.  I see just how little they really are.  They are far from being babies, but even further from being adults.  

I can't expect them to know everything, so she needs to ask questions to learn.  I certainly can't expect a five year old girl to sit through historical films.  I can't expect an eight year old boy NOT to be curious or want to make crashing sounds and fighting scenes when all he wants to do is be a film director...well, when he doesn't want to be a paleontologist (by the way, he could spell that at age 4).    

I want them to grow up, but not yet.  I just need to remember because sometimes I forget.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spaghetti

My mom started making this kind of spaghetti when she married my step-father.  At first, it was a shock because it wasn't loaded down with tomato paste, but it grew on us so much so that I LOVE this recipe.  I won't make spaghetti any other way.  It has its extra bonuses, too.  Vegetables get thrown in for added health...the kids will never know.  It turns out to be a filling, healthy, vegetable spaghetti.  
Serve it with the breadstick recipe I have.  Super, super delicious breadsticks are always enjoyed with this spaghetti or your favorite lasagna.
Spaghetti    
      Ingredients
  •  2 lbs beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped    
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of eggplant, finely chopped  (or a combination of mushrooms, carrots, squash-any vegetable of your choice)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, STRAINED and then processed in food processor
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste-Italian seasoning flavored (or you could add your own herbs)
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Brown the meat with the onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic.  
  2. Strain the grease off if there is any.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and reduce heat to low/simmer.
  5. Cook on low/simmer for 3 to 4 hours.  The longer it cooks, the better.  



Monday, November 7, 2011

Powdered Milk

There are so many uses for powdered milk.  It is a definite in our household to keep it on hand. I put it in a container and keep it stored in the freezer (not sure why...just do).  Then, I scoop out as much as I need.  Here are some ideas on what to use powdered milk for:

  1. Make milk.  :D  That was easy.  Use it in cereal, mashed potatoes, recipes, etc...
  2. When I don't have raw milk on hand, I use powdered milk to make yogurt.
  3. Make whipped topping with equal parts of powdered milk and ice water.  Beat in a little sugar and vanilla.  Put it on top of your favorite pie. 
  4. Evaporated milk can be made rather than bought...especially if you forgot to buy it, it comes in handy.  1/3 cup powdered milk with 1/2 cup water.
  5. Sour cream can be made with 1/3 cup powdered milk and 3/4 cup yogurt.  Add 1 tsp cornstarch to stabilize it if you plan on using it in cooking.
  6. Replace a 13 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk with 1/3 cup powdered milk and 1/2 cup of water.  Microwave until hot and add 1/2 cup of sugar.  Just be sure to refrigerate for a few hours before using. 
  7. Instant hot cocoa for those winter months can be made with equal parts of cocoa, powdered milk, and sugar.  Microwave a cup of water till hot and stir in.  Top with marshmallows or a dash of cinnamon to suit your tastes.
  8. Make your own curds and whey like Little Miss Muffet.  Boil 1 part powdered milk and 2 parts water.  Remove from heat and pour in vinegar (1 Tbsp per 1 cup of water), stirring slightly.  Let sit and watch it separate.  You should have a clear liquid and curds.  If it is still a little milky, add a small amount of vinegar and let sit again.
  9. Continue with the curds to make ricotta cheese by straining the curds through a cheese cloth.  Retain the curds and blend until smooth.
  10. You can take it a step further and make cottage cheese by adding some yogurt or evaporated milk to the blended curds. 
  11. Soak fish in milk before cooking to make it plump and taste fresher.
  12. Make a face mask with a paste of powdered milk and water.  Spread it on your face and let it dry before cleansing it off.  Your face will feel smoother. 
  13. Equal parts of powdered milk and water with a dash of salt to make a paste can take the itch out of insect bites.
  14. Make some milk to ease sunburn.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Banana Bread

While I have a recipe I like specifically for banana muffins, I also have a recipe I like specifically for banana bread.  This recipe is much sweeter than the recipe for the muffins.  Of course, you could use either recipe for muffins or bread according to your preferred taste.

     Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup nuts (optional)
  1. Mix oil and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and mashed bananas.
  3. Mix in a separate bowl the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients, milk, and vanilla and mix well.
  5. Pour into a greased and floured bread pan (only one unless you use small pans).
  6. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lonestar Angel

Eden Larson is about to receive a marriage proposal when her ex-husband, Clay interrupts.  In a flash, Eden's life is turned upside down.  Not only does she learn that she is still married to Clay because he never signed the divorce papers five years ago, but she also learns that their daughter, Brianna who was kidnapped at six weeks of age, is still alive.  


Eden had lost all hope that her daughter was alive after the ransom delivery went wrong.  The kidnapper's vehicle sunk in the river.  Eden assumed their daughter had also drowned, but the body had never been found.  


Clay had never given up hope and continued searching for his daughter to no avail.  Until he received a photo of a group of girls at a youth ranch in Bluebird, Texas.  Both Clay and Eden whisk off to Texas in search for their Brianna without knowing which one of them is her.  They sign on as counselors in order to find out more.  During their stay at Bluebird Ranch, Clay and Eden grow a bond of love for each girl and for each other.  


Love is not the only thing on Bluebird Ranch.  Someone is determined to keep them from knowing the truth.  When their lives and the lives of the girls hang in the balance, Eden turns to the only thing she knows can help her win this fight.  She turns to her faith in God to save all of them.


This was a fantastic book!  I was kept in suspense till the very end.  I love books that have it all...love, tears, laughter, and yet can still lead me to the edge of my seat wanting to know what happens next.  Colleen Coble did an amazing job with Lonestar Angel.  I believe I will need to seek out her other Lonestar Novels.  






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Acceptance

I'm going to get on my soapbox for just a moment.  These thoughts have been weighing heavily on me for too long.


6.acceptance - a disposition to tolerate or accept people or situations; "all people should practice toleration and live together in peace"
permissivenesstolerance - a disposition to allow freedom of choice and behavior

-thefreedictionary.com

To accept someone wholly and completely is not always easy - life is not easy- but it is the right thing to do.  We may not always agree with their choices, but we should allow them the freedom to make decisions for themselves without our judgement.  


Everyday it is something... people fighting over religion, fighting against or for abortion, fighting for or against same-sex marriages, fighting over racial issues...the list goes on and on.  
Good Grief!  Isn't it enough?!  Why fight?  Why argue?  


People deal with good and bad coming in and out of their lives like the tides of the oceans.  People want stability.  They want to know that there is similarity, sameness.  People fear difference.  Why is this?  It is ridiculous what we do to each other and ourselves when we have discord.  We cause pain and stress.  It is bad for our health and the health of others.  Negative actions set bad examples of who we are as people to our neighbors, friends, relatives, and children.  

I hate olives on my pizza, but I know many people do like them.  Should I restrict everyone from getting olives on their pizza just because I dislike them?  NO!  That would be selfish and controlling of me.
  
Think of the olives next time someone worships a different God from yours; thinks abortion is the best choice for herself; falls in love with someone of the same sex....  What may not be right for you doesn't mean it may not be right for your neighbor.  
Love thy neighbor as thyself.

To accept someone unconditionally is to show true love.  Can we put all the judgement, selfishness, and hate aside?  Can we learn to accept each other for who we are?  Can we respect someone's decisions whether we agree or not because we love unconditionally?

         Thanks for listening,
  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Give Halloween Treat Bags



I LOVE holidays!  Of course, this means I LOVE Halloween!  As a kid, we didn't carve pumpkins, and I didn't have any neighbors close by who knocked on my door to say, "Trick-or-Treat."  In other words, after we moved from the city when I was five to the country, Halloween became very boring.


Once I got married and had children, I took the celebration of Halloween to heart.  I get giddy with excitement to carve a pumpkin.  I love watching my children get dressed up to go door to door in search of candy...there's no need to mention my raiding their candy after they go to bed...hehee.  Furthermore, I wait eagerly by the door to hear the faint knock of children dressed in costume.  I know the moment I open it, they will say, "Trick-or-Treat."  


I don't want to be like the one house I went to when I was younger.  Uhhh as interesting as it is, it was also very disappointing...I got a sugarcane.  A real sugarcane!  Imagine a kid trying to find and get to the sugar in a sugarcane.  Ha!  There were also the few occasions of getting an apple or a toothbrush--I'm assuming he was a dentist.  


Soooo, what I decided a few years ago was to become the best Trick-or-Treating house on the block!  Instead of just giving candy, I give them a complete treat bag with all sorts of goodies.



I color fun, Halloween designs on the front of orange bags.  
Then fill it with the following:
  • I have all of my friends and family save the unopened toys from fast food restaurants (it is really important that they remain unopened).  
  • I print out Halloween themed word searches, mazes, and connect-the-dot pages.
  • I buy the Halloween colored mini play dough containers and add one to each bag.
  • I add a Halloween themed pencil and bookmark--education is important.
  • Then, I toss in a few pieces of chocolate and candy.
The kids LOVE getting the Halloween Treat Bags just as much as my children and I like to give them.  We always have such a good time putting them together, especially drawing the fun, spooky designs on the front.



Pumpkin Bread

Autumn isn't complete without pumpkin bread!  This recipe will quickly become your favorite...all it takes is one bite!


     Ingredients

  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 shakes of nutmeg (otherwise it will be too strong)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. Mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, and water in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Grease and flour 2 bread loaf pans.
  5. Pour evenly into the bread pans.
  6. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
  7. Let cool on wire racks.
  8. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Pops

I came across Martha Stewart's idea for the white chocolate ghosts years ago, and the kids and I have made them every Halloween since.  You can take her recipe even further by substituting ingredients and making different designs for other holidays throughout the year.


     Ingredients

  • 12 ounces of white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • lollipop sticks (I ran out and used popsicle sticks instead)
  • mini semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Melt chocolate over simmering water, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add oil and stir until fully mixed in.
  3. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
  4. Drop a spoonful onto the lined sheet and spread into the ghost shape.
  5. Put the lollipop stick in the middle.
  6. Add the mini chips for eyes and a mouth.
  7. Put the sheet in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to eat.
* To make the pumpkins, I substituted peanut butter chips in the place of the white chocolate chips.  Then added red and yellow food coloring to get the orange color I wanted.

Try adding food coloring and shaping them into different holiday designs: trees, eggs, coins.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bucket List


"Skydiving is one more thing I can cross off my bucket list."  I said this with enthusiasm as I chatted with my father.  
"Yeah, it's weird that your bucket list has things on it that could actually be the end of your list."  He responded.
My aunt had her thoughts on it as well.  "You are too young to have a bucket list."

I don't consider myself young, but I don't consider myself old either.  I actually started my "bucket list" when I was a young child.  I remember telling my mother that I was going to go to Europe one day.  I think I was probably seven or eight at the time.  I even wrote in my diary that one day I would do this or that before I died.  My list hasn't changed very much as far as the content, but it has gotten longer.  :)   

Why do I have a bucket list?  That answer is simple.

A long life is not guaranteed.  That sounds so blunt and harsh I know, but it is the truth.  We never know when our health may fail or when our time is up.  It is completely unknown.  We can only hope with all our hearts that we will live long and happy lives surrounded by our friends and family.  Shouldn't that be enough?  Well, keep reading...


Live each day as if it is your last!  Do things you want to do NOW while you can!  

Live, Laugh, Love

I don't know how many times I have heard or seen those words and phrases.  It seems everywhere we turn, we are faced with some message telling us to live our lives, laugh till our stomach hurts, and love with all that we have.  Do we do it?  Not usually.  We don't like to put ourselves out there for fear of being hurt emotionally or physically.  But fear is what is really crippling us.  We hurt ourselves and others around us if we don't open up to all possibilities.  

For example: Holding back on love can leave you unhappy or alone and hurt your loved ones.  Put your heart on the line!  Give all of it over.  You might be surprised to watch it grow.  

Jump out of an airplane!  Feel the power of the wind!  See what the Earth looks like from above the clouds--It is amazingly beautiful--breathtaking.  Trust in the person guiding you that you will land safely and unharmed.  Trust is a big word here...we all need to learn how to use it more in our everyday lives.

I don't know if I will live to be 100 or if I will die next week.  No one knows this.  What I do know is that I want to live, laugh, and love while I still can.  And just think of the stories I will may get to share with my grandchildren.  

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all."  - Helen Keller 

“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Meaning of Sex?



I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking, What on Earth is Elizabeth thinking talking about sex on her blog?!  Well, it isn't exactly about sex.  It's more about what my daughter thought sex was.


Imagine my horror when I heard my sweet, beautiful, innocent daughter who was playing in her room, say "they are having sex."  WHAT???!!!  I jumped up and practically ran into her room to investigate.  


How could my five year old even know that word, much less what it meant?!

I didn't want to storm in with ferocity and scare her, so I took a deep breath to calm myself before taking on the challenge of the conversation I feared we might have.  I wasn't ready for "the talk" just yet with her.  In my eyes, she's still my baby.

As I entered her room, my eyes scanned over her toys.  I was looking for any sign that she may or may not know the intimacy that word carries for adults.  There she sat among her stuffed animals.  She had them lined up beside each other except for two.  Her giraffe and her brother's elephant were set in front of all the others as if putting on a play.  I watched her as she had the two hug and kiss each other.  

Then, I asked what she was doing.  She gave me the sweetest smile as she told me the tale of how giraffe and elephant, though very different from each other, had fallen in love.  They just got married in front of all their friends (hence the animals lined up facing the two).  She smiled again before saying the very words that sent me to her room in the first place, "They're having sex." She said it so matter of fact as if it were a common, everyday sort of thing.

"Caitlin," I began, "where did you hear this word."  Well, she couldn't recall where she had first heard the word, but she could answer my next question.  "Do you know what this word means?"  I asked praying she would just say "no" and that would be the end of it.  
Instead, she looked up at me with her gorgeous blue eyes, batted her lashes, and flashed me her sweetest grin ever before replying, "Of course I do.  Zach told me."  

My breath caught in my chest.  I had once told Zach, her older brother about sex (I will recount this story at a later time for you).  I thought I made it clear he wasn't to tell his sister about it.  I was still holding my breath.  "What do you think sex means?  What did Zach tell you?" I asked.  
She made her animals hug each other again as she answered, "It means they love each other."  
I resumed my breathing.  "What else does it mean?"  I pressed.  
"It means they get married and love each other.  That's what Zach said.  They hug and kiss and spend time together.  You know like you and Daddy do lots of stuff together?  Well, that's what it means."  She smiled as she recounted her vision of what she thought it meant.
I smiled down at my innocent (thank goodness) daughter as I brushed her hair from her eyes.  "That is exactly what it means...they love each other.  Do me a favor."  I asked.  "Can you use the word 'love' instead of sex for now on for me, please?"

Well, it seems even a five year old can know the meaning behind sex (or what it should mean anyway)--love--without knowing the details.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Heartwarming Chili

When the cold weather pays us a visit, I like throw on my Snuggie...umm...I mean blanket, curl on the couch, and eat something that warms me from the inside out.  Chili just so happens to be one of those warming comfort foods for the cooler months' weather.


     Ingredients

  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 pounds of beef (or venison if you prefer)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, run through a food processor to cut up the tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans kidney beans, undrained
  1. Brown meat with celery, onion, garlic, and green bell pepper.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 1 hour or more if desired.
  3. Serve with cornbread muffins.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Wonder of Your Love



The Wonder of Your Love will bring tears of sorrow and joy to your eyes as you follow Katie Ann Stoltzfus, a widowed Amish woman raising a child while in her forties.  She had lost her husband, Ivan, to another woman which was shameful enough but even more shameful was that the woman was an Englisch (non Amish) woman.  Then, she lost him forever when he died in a car accident.  Her son would never know his father, and all hopes Katie Ann had of getting Ivan back were shattered.


While attending a wedding, Katie Ann meets Eli Detweiler.  He had also lost a spouse.   His wife, Sarah, passed away seventeen years earlier.  It is customary for a widower to remarry after losing a wife, but Eli didn't think he would ever find one who could hold a candle to his Sarah.   So, Eli did the unthinkable (according to the Amish), he raised their six children alone.  This gave Eli an extra gentleness most Amish men do not have.  This both intrigued and scared Katie Ann.  


Time between Katie Ann and Eli allowed for friendship, but could there ever be more?  Eli was done raising children.  He was ready to travel and enjoy a slower pace of having no one to care for except himself.  While Katie Ann was in the beginning stages of raising a baby boy on her own with no man in the house to help her or set a good example for her son.  Do their own personal plans fall in line with God's plans?


Beth Wiseman has a deep affection for the Amish and it shows in her writing.  She opens a door to a secret life that has been shut for us Englischers.  We can live in their world, experience their lives of heartache, and dream their dreams of love.  


This is a great book.  I didn't want it to end.  I kept hoping for more pages to suddenly appear at the end to keep the story going.  It isn't at all what I imagined it to be.  It is SO MUCH BETTER!  




*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Sunday, October 9, 2011

WW Pumpkin Spice Muffins


My mom shared this recipe with me several years ago.  She got it through Weight Watchers.  I have enjoyed making these for an easy and super fast breakfast or snack whenever the craving of Autumn spices arrives.  They are high in fiber, low in fat, and SUPER moist! 

BTW, if you are a WW follower, I think this is suppose to have 2-3 points for a regular sized muffin but only 1 point for a mini muffin.  

     Ingredients
  • box of Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Spice Cake
  • 1 can (15 ounces) Pumpkin  or  2 cups (just shy) of pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup water
  1. Put all three ingredients in a bowl and mix with a spoon.  You can use a mixer, but I find it is less to clean if I just use a spoon.  Don't worry if there are a few small chunks of cake mix still showing...just mix as good as you can...you won't notice the difference once it is baked.
  2. Spoon into muffin tins sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with muffin paper cups.
  3. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
  4. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  They taste the best once they have completely cooled off.
* I line 12 muffin tins with the paper cups and bake them in the morning.  The remaining batter I put in a container in the refrigerator.  I pull it out later that day to use as a snack or the next morning for more muffins.  The entire recipe makes about 20-24 muffins based upon how much you scoop and put in each.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Granite Walkway

from the front steps looking out to the street

When we built our house in 2008, we had no idea what we wanted for a walkway leading from our front door to the street.  Flagstone was an idea we liked, but we didn't want the cost that came with it.  I like to "drink champagne on a beer budget" as they say.  

While picking out our granite countertop for the kitchen, my husband noticed a large dumpster full of granite scraps.  He had the perfect idea!  He asked if he could take some of them, and the owners happily agreed.  With the pieces he took, he built our walkway.  People stop by our house all the time, get out of their cars, and feel our path.  They can't believe it is granite!  LOL

If you will notice on the left side towards the top half, there are small ovals.  Those are the granite cutouts from sinks!  We used them as stepping stones leading from the garage to the walkway.  

I guess you could really say their trash was our treasure...and it tastes like champagne!

By the way, this isn't the best picture.  It was a very cloudy day, so the sun is not glistening off of the polished granite.  Yes, it is polished and sealed like a kitchen countertop, which is why I think everyone is surprised when they see it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"What If's" Don't Make Sense



Someone recently commented they wished life had a do over button.  I'm sure we all do at times.  The "I wish I had only..." or the "What if I..." thoughts circle endlessly in our minds.  

  1. I wish I had studied harder in school.
  2. I wish I had gone to the college I wanted to go to rather than follow a boy somewhere I hated.
  3. What if I had said "yes" instead of "no" to that guy I crushed on for way too many years when he asked me out?
  4. What if I had a "real" career?
  5. I wish...
  6. What if...
The list can keep on going.  I can ask myself "what if" or say "I wish" all day, but I can't turn back time.  All I would end up doing is driving myself nuts with worry and/or regret.  I'm guilty of doing this just like everyone else, but I've realized I've wasted so many moments worrying about something I can't change.  Why waste that time?  


We have to stop looking behind us and instead focus our energy on the present and future.  We can't change the past.  This is not the movies.  This is reality.  We could be missing out on something precious that is right in front of us all the while we are off dreaming of what might have been.  Instead of holding on to something I can't do anything about, I'm going to hold on to what I can do something about...my life HERE as it is NOW.

  1. If I had studied harder in school, I would have had the confidence in my grades to apply to the college I wanted to attend.  By the way, my grades weren't bad, I was in the top third of my class...well, until I took some college classes in high school and failed one of them because I slept everyday.
  2. Had I not followed that boyfriend of mine to the college I ended up attending, I may not have met the guy who is now my husband.
  3. If I had gone out with my crush, I may have ruined the chance of marrying the man who is now my husband.
  4. If I had a "real" career as I had always dreamed, I would miss out on all the fun experiences of being a Stay-at-Home Mom.  I wouldn't see the light go on inside of my children when they learn something new.  Someone else would be there during the day to see them grow and learn, kiss their boo boos, or give them hugs.
I believe everything has a reason.  We may not always like the way things turn out at first, but when we stand back and look at the picture as a whole, it begins to all make sense.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Swell Giveaway!


If you haven't heard me say it yet, Swell Caroline is fantastic!  I love fashionable items, and they certainly have them.  The best part is they have so many affordable items on their site.

For one lucky winner here on my blog, Amy at Swell Caroline is giving a free pair of earrings.  You can choose between the three pair below OR you can choose a $25 gift certificate to use towards whatever you like on their website, Swell Caroline.
Choose a pair between these 3 or opt for a $25 gift certificate.
  • Look preppy for golfing, tennis, or horse racing events--these activities certainly play a large role where I live--while wearing their Preppy Chic or Monogrammed enameled jewelry.  
  • Go for accessible and comfortable, sporting their Scout Bags.  
  • Need something more elegant?  Search in their La Boheme or Heirloom Collection. 

Want to be entered in the drawing to win one of those FABULOUS earrings or the Gift Certificate?  
  1. Comment below on which earring you like best or if you prefer gift certificate. (This is absolutely necessary)

Want extra entries for an even better chance to win? 
(1 extra entry per activity completed)
  1. Go to Swell Caroline's facebook fan page and "Like" them.  If you already like them, just let me know.
  2. "Follow" My 2¢ With A Grain of Salt through GFC (Google Friend Connect), which is found near the top right side of the page.
  3. "Like" My 2¢ With A Grain of Salt on facebook.
The Swell Giveaway will end Friday, September 23, 2011 at 6:00 PM Eastern Time.  The winner will be announced shortly thereafter through a random drawing.  GOOD LUCK!


*****The Swell Giveaway ended Friday, September 23, 2011 at 6:00 PM Eastern Time.  Thank you to all who participated.  Check back soon for future giveaway opportunities.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Silverware Chest


Ever since I purchased a silverware chest for my parents as a Christmas gift years ago, I have wanted one for myself.  I would look at them while shopping in department stores, admiring the beauty of the sparkling silver or flatware perfectly lined within, however, I passed them up time and time again.  Why?  I didn't want to spend so much just to buy something that houses my silverware. Their prices average from $100 to $200 and sometimes, even up to $300 or $400 for the more exquisite designs.  The cheapest one I found at a charity/thrift store was $800, thank you very much, but NO thank you.  Are you kidding me?!


You can bet I was thrilled to come across one at a flea market (why do they call them flea markets?) for only $8.  This one even had some silver plated flatware inside, which I later donated.   

Now I have a place to put my Mikasa.  What a bargain I had with his "unwanteds" because that silverware chest quickly became my treasure.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Forever Young



Eating healthy, exercise, and cleanliness will keep you healthy and young.  


We hear this all the time.  We repeat it to ourselves over and over, yet we continue to age.  In fact, I think I feel a wrinkle slowly stretching its crevice-like indention across my forehead right now as I type this.

My daughter is obsessed with age.  At times, I catch her staring and examining the creases and folds above my eyebrows and around my eyes.  Just like the rest of us, she dreads growing old.

I don't know when it started, but for as long as I can remember her talking, Caitlin has sworn off aging.  Each year as it draws closer to her birthday, she gets emotional, refusing to acknowledge the unstoppable number she is destined to become.  Tears well in her big, blue eyes as she tells me how much she really, REALLY doesn't want to grow up or get old.

I console her sensitivity, kissing her flawless face and hair untouched by streaks of grey or white.  I explain how much she will miss out on, how many activities she will never get to experience if she stays the same size and age.  Still, it ceases to discourage her from her goal...never growing old. 

For a bit of a laugh (or even pity), I have included some of the most recent comments (short stories) made by my ever enduring five year old.

1)  Caitlin bounced and twirled around the room in her pink leotard.  The biggest smile of determination played across her mouth.  Already breathless from her exertion, she leaped towards me.  Satisfaction filled her.  
"I'm exercising.  Do you see that, Mommy?"
"Mmm hmmm.  I do," I smiled at her.
"I'm going to keep taking baths and exercise so I stay young and NEVER grow up," she said as she spun in a circle before me.
Zach, her brother, who was sitting at the table drawing his latest masterpiece, hesitated and looked up to respond, "No, you will still age," he said casually  "but Mom said to keep us little, she needs to put bricks on our heads."
---Of course he was kidding about the bricks.  I would never really do that!---  

Caitlin was shattered.  She blinked at me, hoping for encouragement that her consistent baths and exercise was going to keep her five forever.  
"Yes, exercise and bathing regularly will keep you healthy and younger appearing, I imagine," I replied, making sure I worded this carefully.
"See!" She snubbed at her brother.  

Either she had forgotten or she was ignoring the fact that she had once been four and sobbed when she found she was turning five despite her bathing and exercise routines even then.  

2)  One evening while we were having dinner, Caitlin began to tear up.  I wasn't sure what upset her considering we were all having a good time.  I asked her if she was okay and what had caused her discomfort.  
Her face turned pink with color, and her lips trembled with sorrow as she spilled her worries onto me.  "I don't want to grow up, Mommy because I'll forget the very special memory."
Memory? I wondered.  "What memory, Caitlin."
"I'll forget the memory that I want to live with you forever.  If I grow up, I'll forget that is what I really want.  I don't want to forget," she confessed her heart as tears spilled to her rosy cheeks.  "I want to live with you always.  You're my Mommy.  I love you."  She tried to smile as she blinked back her tears.
It then occurred to me that amongst our many discussions, we had discussed the kids going to college, moving out, and getting married one day.  This was more to pick at our son who claims he will never get married.  He says he'd rather just have a lot of girlfriends.  
We will see dear Zach.  We will see...only time will tell.  

Unfortunately, for my tender hearted Caitlin, time is not on her side.  Americans are more geared to branching out and living on their own; starting their own families outside of their mother and father's dwelling.  

I fear, however, she says all these things now (wanting to live with me forever), but as she gets closer to her teenage years, she may be clawing her way out as most teens do.  
We will see dear Caitlin.  We will see...

3)  Last night, as Caitlin was in the shower, I put her pajamas on her bed.  It was going to be colder this evening than it had been lately.  Fall has crept up on us sooner than expected.
A little while later, she greeted me at my bedroom door.  I had the hairdryer and brush ready, but something was amiss.  Caitlin stood before me, not wearing those I had laid out for her, but instead in a summery type of pajamas.  I turned her back towards her room asking that she change.

Moments later, she returned after having changed...with tears in her eyes.  
What now? I wondered, sighing heavily.  I thought she was upset about having to change clothes.  "I have already explained this to you, Caitlin.  It is going to get cold outside..." I began to preach.

"But these pajamas are for a six year old," she said fighting her tears.  "The tag says it is for a size six.  I'm not a size six because I'm still five and wear size five clothes."  She had been obedient and respectful by changing as asked, but she wanted to explain her feelings as to why she didn't want to wear them.
"Honey," I began to explain as I held her hands in mine.  "You are right.  These are for a size six, but I got them in a bigger size in case you grow a little bit.  I wanted you to be able to wear them now and hopefully next year, too."  I had said it as sweetly as I could, hoping she would understand.  I'm simply trying to think ahead and be frugal.  

It didn't help.  She smiled, but I could see the tears' pace had picked up a bit.

Then suddenly, a different idea struck her thoughts.  She took the conversation on a detour.  
"Mommy, Daddy said I can't play that game now because I'm too young, but when I get too old I won't be able to play it then either.  When I turn 99, I won't get to play that game because I'll always be in the bathroom."
"What?!"  I was completely confused.  Where did this all come from and where was this going?  "Why will you always be in the bathroom?" I asked both curious and afraid at the same time.

"Old people can't make it to the bathroom in time," she began explaining.  "I'd have to stay in there all the time so I don't go to the bathroom in my underwear.  I don't want to go in my underwear, but I want to play the game, too.  I won't get to play the game though because I'll always be in the bathroom so I don't go in my underwear,"  she began tearing up simply at the distressing thought that she would never get to play a game because she would always be in the bathroom in fear of "going" in her underwear.  Did you get all that?  LOL

She continued her spiel, "I don't ever want to grow up!  Maybe Daddy will just teach me how to play the game now.  I'm five.  Five is better than ninety-nine anyway.  I can at least play it now but I have to learn.  I can't play it when I'm ninety-nine because of the bathroom.  So, I don't ever want to grow up!  I want to stay five forever!"

(I'm really starting to worry about her obsession with age.)

So to all of you and my sweet, age obsessed Caitlin, just keep eating healthy, exercising, and bathing.  I'm sure you will look five when you are ninety-nine.  If not, good luck finding the fountain of youth.  Though, if anyone is determined enough to find it, I'm sure it will be Caitlin.  The question is:  Will she share?   :)