Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

SHOP MY FAVES

SHOP MY FAVES
SHOP MY FAVES

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Catch Up

Sometimes I feel as if I have dangling posts. You know, those posts to which I never follow up. So, in an effort to tie up some loose blog ends, here's a post giving an update on a few recent posts.

1. I wrote here about my recent 2-day hospital stay. Last Tuesday I received the results of my blood work. All the lab work came back normal, and as a result, my general physician thinks the problems I am having stem from high blood pressure. He suggested that I buy a home blood pressure monitor and take my BP 6 -9 times per day, and follow up with him in 2 weeks. My monitor arrived today, and I've begun collecting my data!

2. I've written about the long road to choosing a preschool. Monday was registration at our first choice for Harper. It began at 12:00 pm. When I arrived at 11:15, I was the 23rd person in line. The first person arrived at 9:00 am. Crazy! After an hour long wait, Harper was enrolled in the time slot that I preferred!! Yay! I'm so happy. By the time we made it to the front of the line, there were only 2 spots left in the class that I wanted. We were lucky! Whew!

3. Do you remember that art easel that I wanted to makeover? Well, I did. Here are the before and after pics.

Before
After


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Stop Complaining

It's been a long, wet winter and spring. Until about a week ago, I never thought I'd see the sun again. And then, what was there, in front of my face on the nightly news weather forecast? Yes, temperatures were expected to soar into the 90's!!! And soar they did!

I loved it! The windows were open, the fresh air was blowing through my house. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping. The trees were in full bloom. It was magnificent. But I think I was one of the few who thought so. So many people with whom I spoke were complaining about the "ghastly" heat, saying it's too much too soon. OK. Seriously. It was 2 days of temps in the 90's. The way people were talking, you'd think they'd just endured a month long heat wave. Some people turned on the air conditioning. Unbelievable!! No air for me in April. No way!

Please, people, stop complaining about the warm weather. At least stop complaining to me. I don't want to hear it. We know the warmth isn't going to last. Temps will be back in the high 50's again soon, and you know what? Those same people will be complaining about how cold it is.
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August in April

Yesterday the temps soared into the low 90's. Record highs for this time of year in this part of the country. It was, for us, literally, a day at the beach.

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Enjoying the unexpected

I am a maker of plans. I'm an action-oriented kinda girl, and I like it that way. However, sometimes the unplanned and unexpected can be lots of fun.

Yesterday, we had tickets to see the new Disneynature movie, "earth" at 10:15 am. I wanted to see it early so that we could enjoy the summer-like weather that was forecasted for the day. I didn't have a plan for exactly how we'd enjoy the weather. I just knew we HAD to enjoy it after a tortuously long winter and a rainy spring.

We spontaneously stopped at the park after the movie, and after the park, we unexpectedly happened upon an arts and crafts festival.

In addition to having their faces painted, the girls enjoyed watching a clown make them each a princess wand with balloons. And finally, I bought each of them a lip gloss necklace.

Who knew the unplanned could be so much fun?!!

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It's here! It's FINALLY here!

Spring has sprung here in the northeast. This weekend is actually feeling like summer, but anyway, spring is here. It's beautiful in all it's glory. I love spring and all that it embodies. The birds chirping, the trees and flowers blooming, the longer, sun-filled days, the people out and about. Spring brings hope and promise, and that's what I love.

My neighbor's beautiful daffodils.



A close-up of our budding maple tree

The blooming maple tree


A dove's nest in one of our backyard trees.

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Friday Fotos: On hiatus this week

In light of my recent health issues, I've been taking it easy this week. I haven't been snapping away as I usually do, chasing the girls around the house with my camera in hand. Nice little break for them!

I'm taking a short break from Friday Fotos this week. The weekly post will return next week with lots of pictures from what is expected to be a glorious weekend.

Thanks to all my loyal readers for understanding! Hugs!!
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Differences

I've written here before about the differences between Emma and Harper, but never was it more evident than yesterday when I took Harper to the pediatrician for her 3 year well-visit.

I can remember (not so long ago, in fact) when Emma would start to panic and scream the very moment our car pulled into the parking lot at the doctor's office. Not just a cry. I'm talking all out blood curdling scream. And that was just the parking lot. Once we got into the waiting room, things would progress from bad to worse. In the exam room, it was just a debacle. Each and every time. Emma would scream, yell and refuse to let the doctor perform the examination. Yes, I said refuse.

Henry and I would leave the appointments convinced that the pediatrician thought we either tortured or molested our daughter. How could someone not think that after they way she behaved? Seriously.

Imagine our delight when our second born puts up no fight to go to the doctor or dentist. Yes, in fact, I think she takes pleasure in her sick and well visits and her 6 month dental cleanings. Harper is happy, pleasant, cooperative. You name the adjective that Emma was, and Harper is completely the opposite. On Wednesday during Harper's visit, it was obvious to our pediatrician...she commented on it...not once but twice. As much as I was hoping that she had forgotten, our pediatrician remembers Emma's horrific behavior, and she didn't hesitate to compare it to Harper's.

In the end, I'm the one breathing a sigh of relief. At last! The pediatrician probably (hopefully) realizes that we don't torture our children!
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Earth Week continues...

I can't imagine that it's easy for a restaurant or cafe to go green. But one of my all-time faves has opened it's first-ever completely green store. STARBUCKS!

Yes, the java giant has recently opened a store just blocks from its original location in Pike Place Market. Click here to see the innovative and impressive ways they've reduced, reused and recycled!
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Cheers to Mother Earth!

I'm not sure when it happened, but I was bitten by the "green" bug. Yes, I am a self-proclaimed tree hugger. I've been recycling for more than 10 years, but more recently, I've been absolutely fanatical about the 3 R's...reduce, reuse, recycle.

On this Earth Day, I am embracing my inner green and I'm proud of it. It's suddenly cool to be green. It's hip to use canvas bags at the grocery store or any store for that matter. I love that I've had an effect on family members, too. Emma is going green by recycling all of her unwanted school papers. She's also been very conscious about turning off her bedroom lights when she's not in the room. My sister Brenda rides her bike to work! How awesome is that? I've even been able to convince my sisters to start using environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Emma was so excited this year when she learned that the first graders were going to be performing an Earth Day concert on Friday for family and friends. As part of the concert, each child was given a paper plate and asked to design an earth on the plate. They'll be wearing these around their necks during the concert. She couldn't wait to do the project. Although I helped her draw the continents, she did the rest by herself. Take a look. Oh, that's glitter, by the way. Emma's all about the bling!!
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Did you know...

that microwave popcorn contains small amounts of chemicals that, in very large doses, pose a health risk? The bags are lined with perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical that has been shown to cause cancer and liver tumors in rats. The artificially flavored variety is made with a chemical called diacetyl, which has been known to cause lung disease in workers who were exposed to the the chemical in the production plant. Your exposure to the chemical isn't as high as the production employees. This is not meant to alarm anyone, only alert you.

We love microwave popcorn. It's easy and it's tasty! But maybe once in a while it might be worth it to pop our own salty snack!!
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Tag! I'm It...8 Things

I've been tagged by 2 of my special blogging buddies, Becky at Farmgirl Paints and Miti at Pieces of Me. Many people think these tags are a nuisance, but I have to say that I love reading other bloggers answers and always welcome the opportunity for readers, especially my followers, to get to know more about me.

Many thanks to Becky and Miti for giving me this opportunity!!

8 THINGS I LOOK FORWARD TO
1. Receiving my lab results this week.
2. Attending Emma's Earth Week concert on Friday.
3. A girls weekend with Emma and Harper. This weekend Henry is going away with a buddy. Looking forward to a slumber party with pizza and popcorn and time alone with my babies.
4. My haircut next week. I haven't had my haircut since November. I really, really need one.
5. THE SUMMER!!!!!!!! I love summer. I'm so lucky to live less than 2 miles from the beach. I can't wait to take the girls to the beach and to enjoy other outdoor activities...dinner al fresco, etc.
6. Celebrating Emma's 7th birthday on May 11 and her party the weekend following.
7. Celebrating my wedding anniversary on June 25.
8. A family vacation at the end of August. My three sisters and our respective families go to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for a week each August. It's such a special time for us especially since having lost both of our parents. I can't even begin to describe the fun and bonding that takes place.

8 THINGS I DID YESTERDAY
1. Blogged
2. Read a few blogs
3. Attended a parent/teacher conference with Emma's teacher. I'm so proud of my Emma!!
4. Went grocery shopping
5. Took Emma to her last CCD class for the school year
6. Helped Emma with an Earth Day project that was due today. Lots of fun with lots of glitter.
7. Did lots and lots of laundry. Finally caught up!
8. Watched 24, love that show!

8 THINGS I WISH I COULD DO
1. Scuba dive (I'm just too darn scared to learn)
2. Play the violin (maybe one of these days I'll take lessons)
3. Sew (My father gave me my mother's sewing machine after she passed away. I plan to take a sewing class before 2009 is over).
4. Be motivated enough to exercise regularly.
5. Live in sunny, beautiful Southern California.
6. See my sisters more often...just the four of us...quality time together. We are spread out all over the country, and we don't see each other often.
7. Spend a summer traveling around Europe or Australia.
8. Write a screenplay, have a major studio buy it and produce it.

8 SHOWS I WATCH
1. Desperate Housewives
2. Brothers & Sisters
3. 24
4. CSI: Miami
5. Californication...mainly for the SoCal scenery
6. The New Adventures of Old Christine
7. Grey's Anatomy
8. Private Practice...love, love, love Tim Daly!

BLOGGERS TAGGED
1. Katie at Katie's Nesting Spot (I think she's already been tagged, so if you pop over there now, you can see her responses!)
2. Shannon @ Fly To My Window
3. Momma Snail at The Snail's Trail
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Spring Break: Day 4, An Unexpected Twist

You're probably wondering where I've been...or maybe not. I've been MIA but it's not without explanation.

On Thursday, the girls and I had planned to have lunch with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece. I hadn't slept very well the night before. I was restless and my heart was racing. When I woke on Thursdayafter about 2 hours of sleep, my heart was still racing and I had a general feeling of anxiousness. So, after our group lunch, I went to see my general physician. He was concerned about the rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. He advised me to go to the ER for tests. My sister-in-law, Jo-Ellen, drove me and the girls to the ER where Henry met us.

Long story short, I was admitted to the hospital in order to have some tests performed and to stabilize my blood pressure. I was discharged on Saturday with a projected diagnosis of pheochromocytoma. For more information on this condition, click here.

This week, I will receive the results of my lab work and will hopefully get a definite diagnosis. In the meantime, I have some outpatient follow-up to do this week with a cardiologist and my general practitioner.

Wish me luck!
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Spring Break: Day 3

Because it rained all day (again), we planned to stay in and work on Emma's birthday party invitations. I was very ambitious this year with the invitations. I've had every intention of making Emma's invitations, but until we settled on a theme, my hands were tied. Finally, last week, she decided on a theme. Phone calls were made and a place was booked.

She's having an indoor swimming party. She really, really wanted her party to be "at a place" this year. And if you remember a prior post about party planning, you'll recall that we've always hosted her parties at our home. This year she's excited to have her party somewhere other than our house.

For the swimming party, I wanted to make invitations in the shape of bathing suits. I googled "bathing suit birthday invitations" and found an invitation with a bathing suit. I created a template by enlarging the bathing suit to fit a 5" x 7" card and printing it. After I cut out the template, I traced the it onto card stock and cut it using various card stock prints.

I formatted the text using a word processing program in the shape of the bathing suit. I printed the wording on plain white card stock, traced the template and cut the wording out. I used double sided tape to adhere the wording to the back of the bathing suit.

Each invitation is different. Emma thinks they are adorable, and I think the recipients will love them too! Here is a sampling of the 8 out of the 15 that I made. It wasn't difficult, just time consuming. But worth every second of the effort!

After all of our hard work, I took the girls out for pizza!

For Day 4, we have lunch with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece planned...and maybe some spring/summer shoe shopping afterwards!!!!
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My favorite flower

My favorite flower used to be the daisy. It's such a simple, pretty flower. But a few years ago, I fell head over heels for the hydrangea. They are soooo gorgeous. Although I love the enormous azalea bush we have in our backyard, sometimes I yearn for a hydrangea bush. Such a pretty flower...




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Spring Break: Day 2

Yesterday, we braved the crowds on a rainy, rainy day to go to the movies. "Hannah Montana, The Movie" to be exact. What was I thinking?? This movie was just released on Friday, it was spring break, and it was raining, so of course it would be PACKED. I felt like a sardine in the theater. The things we do for our children...

Emma especially loved the movie, and she's not a big HM fan. The story was cute, and Miley Cyrus has a great voice. The music was fun and upbeat. I'm not sure I would say that it was worth the $39 we paid for the tickets and snacks. But as I said, the things we do for our children...
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Spring Break: Day 1

For Emma's spring break this week, we planned a few special activities and outings. The first of which was Build-A-Bear on Monday. Their aunt and cousins bought them gift cards for Harper's birthday. Thankfully, my sister-in-law bought each of them a gift card, same denomination. The feeling of being left out is an awful one so I'm grateful that they were both able to enjoy this.

Emma chose a puppy and Harper chose a kitty.
The girls got to pump the stuffing into their animals.
After stuffing, they bathed their animals.
Group shot.
The finished products! So soft and snuggly!!
Today, we are off to the movies to see the new Hannah Montana movie.
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Our Easter weekend

To say that this weekend was busy is a gross understatement. It was busy, and it was crazy fun! It all started with our visit to the Easter Bunny on Friday. To see those photos, click here.

On Saturday, Emma had a birthday party to attend. After we dropped her off, Harper and I came home to boil the eggs. Here's the fun that ensued when Emma returned from the party.
After the eggs were finished, we made this "sunflower cake" which I had originally seen on Katie's Nesting Spot. Click here to see Katie's post.

One of our Easter traditions was that my sister-in-law would make a lamb cake, a boxed pound cake baked in a lamb cake pan. It was really cute, but tasted awful. The first few years were OK, but in the last 4 years or so, the cake started to taste worse as each Easter passed. Last year, she didn't make it so this year, we decided to introduce the sunflower cake as a new tradition. Everyone thought it was really cute...not sure how they thought it tasted!!

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Friday Fotos

I know. I know. Friday Fotos are about 12 hours later than usual. It's been a busy day. Emma's spring break started today, and we had plans to see the Easter bunny. I wanted to include those pictures in today's posting, so that's why I'm late!! Hope you think the pics were worth the wait!

After days and days of rain, we finally had some sun and mild temps last Sunday. The girls broke out their sunglasses!
Emma is determined to teach Harper how to climb a tree. It's fun for Harper but incredibly frightening for me!
After Harper's trip to the pediatrician on Tuesday, I treated her to lunch at McDonald's (a rare treat)! She was such a good girl for the doctor. Plus, she was famished!
Here's my star gymnast.
This year's picture with the Easter Bunny!
No trip to the mall is complete without a ride on the carousel!

And a visit to the the (germ infested) mall kid zone. The kids love the indoor play area. I think it's icky, but dare I protest?


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Cookie Pops

Emma wanted to do something special for her class for Easter, but she couldn't decide. Have I mentioned how indecisive she is? Well, she is. She wavered between a goody bag filled with candy or a goody bag filled with Easter themed pencils, erasers, etc. I thought, although the goody bags are a nice idea, they are a little over done. So, I was able to convince her to help me make these adorable Cookie Pops.


They are sugar cookies on a lollipop stick! And how cute are they? And easy, easy, easy to make. I found the recipe for the cookies in the Mom's Big Book of Baking book. The recipe is called Sprinkle Cookies (pg. 101). It was my idea to add the lollipop sticks. I thought the kids would love it, a cookie on a stick! How fun!

Recipe Follows:
Ingredients
2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. multicolor sprinkles or sanding sugar
24 lollipop sticks

Directions1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
3. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
4. Place the sprinkles or sanding sugar in small bowls. Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Roll the top half of each ball into the sprinkles/sugar and place the lollipop stick into the middle of the ball. Place the pops, sprinkle side up, on an ungreased baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie.
5. Bake the cookies until they are pale golden around the edges but still soft on top, about 10 minutes. Let stand on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove them with a spatula to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 24 large cookies.
Ready for the oven!

Ready for Emma's class!
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In Sickness and In Health

I was up most of the night last night with Harper. Something was wrong, but it took me until 4:00 this morning to find out what it was. She fell asleep with no problems, but about 45 minutes later, she awoke crying...in the middle of "24" and Jack Bauer. Not the best timing, for me anyway.

I went to her room to see what was the problem. She was sweating so I figured she was hot. I pulled her comforter down and pulled the sheet back over her. She wanted me to climb into bed. OK, now I draw the line at sleeping with my kids. It's not something we've indulged and for good reason. But who can deny a sick child? For the next 30 minutes, she tossed and turned. Something was bothering her physically. She finally fell asleep only to wake again an hour later. Still whining, tossing, turning, we went downstairs to watch TV. She watched one show and fell asleep, but woke, yet again...

The rest of the details, I'll omit, but suffice it to say that the entire evening continued in this manner. At 4:00 am, she finally told me that her ear hurt and after taking 2 Tylenols, she fell asleep until 9:00 this morning.

This whole episode got me to thinking about how working parents handle this kind of situation. I can tell you that I would have been a bit annoyed about my sleep deprivation if I had to get up for work this morning. Plus, who gets up in the middle of the night if both of you work? You? The hubby? Would an argument follow? And what if a sick child stays home from school? Who stays home? How do you decide? I can safely say that a sick child home from school would probably create a lot of marital discord if I were a working mom. I just don't think Henry and I would agree on how to make compromises for our sick children with regards to our careers.

So, again, I'm happy to be a stay-at-home mom where these types of decisions don't weigh on me or my husband. I don't envy working parents one bit when it comes to the sick child. It's tough. For me, I like to think of it as an argument averted.

And yes, we will be seeing the pediatrician today!
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What I Can't Live Without: Primal Elements Soap


If you think these soaps are pretty, you should smell them. They are amazing. I've been using Primal Elements soaps for about 3 years. I discovered them shortly after we first moved to Point Pleasant while shopping at an eclectic body and aromatherapy shop. One sniff and I was hooked.

All Primal Elements soaps are handmade and all natural. The vegetable glycerin soaps are available in heaps of great scents and designs. They are, however, a sheer indulgence at $8 per bar. Although they are bigger than an average bar of soap and last for months, they are a special treat. I'm thinking future giveaway here!

In addition to their soaps, I love the rags to riches story behind this company. For more information on their success story and to take a look at the full line of soaps and other products, click here.

* I have not, in any way, been paid to endorse Primal Elements. However, if they ever wanted to throw some freebies my way, I wouldn't turn them down.
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On The Hunt

Yesterday was our first Easter egg hunt of the holiday. The Knights of Columbus from our church hosted the first grade religious education students and their siblings for an egg hunt. Emma and Harper were overly excited to go. Since it was terribly windy yesterday, it took place in the all-purpose room at the church.

Here are some highlights...
Anxious and impatient for the hunt to begin.

This is Harper reaching for an egg. I think she would have jumped through hoops of fire to get one.

Harper is so very proud of her eggs.


After the egg hunt, the Knights treated the children to a pizza lunch. The kids loved it and had a great time. I didn't get many pictures of Emma as she was off at a table with all of her friends having a fun time!
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