Sunday, December 20, 2009

December snow

"Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle."

Here in Maryland we wound up recieving around 23" of God's glistenilng snowflakes. The calmness of the snow, playfulness of the kids and the warmth of the pellet stove has been good medicine here lately.

The boys and I ventured out today and I swore that if I put Carter down he would dissapear! They didn't last too terribly long, only because they're little legs couldn't move. I'll have to shovel them a pathway, I guess like you would a dog to go to the bathroom. Mike has been out doing his snow patrol with good friends since early this morning and probably into tomorrow, so we'll be here having fun, keeping warm and taking lots of pictures for him to see when he returns.




The only downfall is the aftermath that comes inside when you're done playing!


Movin' on up

Flowers are without hope. Because hope is tomorrow and flowers have no tomorrow. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

The past few weeks have been a trying time but amidst all the anguish last weekend we were finally able to move everything up and actually sleep in our new bedrooms! The kiddos adjusted great and Mike and I are thankful to be sleeping on actual mattresses again!

Putting Gavin's old crib together for Carter to use while Gavin gets a new toddler boat bed!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday cookie time!!!!

Holiday cookie time!!!!

I would have loved to had time to make the homemade cookie dough for holiday giving the day after Thanksgiving but the Black Friday deals took over and I didn't have enough energy the rest of that day; but the deals I got were sooo worth it, or should I say when I see the kiddos faces on Christmas morning it'll be sooo worth it :)

But with all the rain we are getting here I'll be sure to get a rain day to prep for cookie making. My plan is that on Christmas Eve the kids and I will just have to cut or form the cookies, bake and then decorate (oh, and can't forget the oh-so important step of tasting the results!) I don't want to have to deal with the prep work it takes to make several different recipes and not to mention the clean-up that is always involved.

I love getting weekly newsletters from Better Homes and Gardens and here lately they're all about decorating and holiday baking- right up my alley! Especially since I'm hosting Christmas this year; more so we don't have to lug the presents and kids around town all day this Christmas, we get to loosen our load a little and actually enjoy the house we're building now that it has room for more than just the four of us for a change!

This week it's all about my favorite... chocolate!!! Forget about the buttery oatmeal raisin, substitute chocolate, or how good jelly makes different cookies or cakes so yummy, fill it with fudge! I always go for the chocolate- donuts, cookies, candies, ice cream, you name it, if there's anything chocolate around it's on my plate or already in my mouth!

Here's some of my favorites so far!

*Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies Recipe

*Chocolaty Caramel Thumbprints

*Fudge Ecstasies

I also came across another great gift idea today!!! Instead of baking all those yummy cookies, just make the cookie dough and give it as a gift!

Homemade Cookie Dough

This Holiday Season couldn't we all use a little more dough?
Give your family and friends the gift of time along with delicious homemade cookies with C&H® Sugar's Holiday Cookie Rolls. A sprightly wrapped roll of ready-to-bake cookie dough is a simple, low cost gift that is packed with lots of thought and flavor.

Perfect for the busy mom with no time to bake from scratch, or for families with children who would love cutting shapes out of cookie dough without the mess of measuring and mixing. You'll notice our cookie dough recipe is made with egg-substitute, making it perfectly safe to eat right after mixing. Your friends and family can enjoy it alone, or even add it to their favorite ice cream!

Important Note: Cookie dough must be kept refrigerated. This gift if best when you are going straight to the recipient's home where they can place in the refrigerator right away.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SAHM Workouts

I'm on a mission... to stay in the clothes I now have for as long as possible! I realize that there's no chance I'll ever get my pre-kids body back but I at least like to maintain what I have for a while. Mainly due to the SAHM salary; hugs and kisses are better than any lump some of money but they can't help buy new clothes!

I really do miss the extra energy I had when working out at Curves before the boys were even thought of. So now I'm trying to take those simple moves I've learned there and apply them to around-the-house activities to get in my exercise for the day, or week for that matter! Sure pushing the 20lb stroller w/ two toddlers weighing over 20lbs themselves is a workout but some days getting out to the grocery store is a task, let alone going for a walk. And workout videos, yea right. Thought I would have some time to do some free workouts On Demand while the kids were napping, but then when would the dishes and laundry get done?

So when I think about it I try to do simple activities to help get my quota of exercise at home; feel free to try these for yourself and let me know if you have any other suggestions! And the best part... most of these are done with the inclusion of your kids, so it's fun bonding time with an added bonus of exercise for you!

*Side note: Carrying your child during any of theses exercises adds a good weight resistance too!

While brushing your teeth for the recommended time of 2 minutes, try doing squats, leg lifts or a combination of both. It always helps jump start the day for me and helps me brush longer too!

There's calorie burning going on when you're vacuuming because of the upper body resistance but add a lower body workout by doing leg lunges and you'll get a great workout while cleaning at the same time.

Stairs, need I say more! The more the better. But you don't have to go all the way up and down every time, especially if you're home w/ the kids and need to be within eye-shot. Just use the bottom step like you would in a step class in a gym; step up with one leg and do a leg lift with the other; alternate each leg for a great burn in no time.

While standing in the kitchen cooking or washing dishes it's super easy to work your hamstrings by going up and down on the balls of your feet and even walking from the counter to the fridge on tipie toes. If you have a little girl they'll love the fact that Mommy is a ballerina in the kitchen and may join you in the fun!

Playing with the kids outside is a no-brainer. Lifting them onto a toy, spinning them around, and anytime you can be airplanes and run around chasing each other everyone enjoys themselves!

Floor play is what my boys like best. I lay on my back with legs bent in the air. With their belly on my legs I am able to hold them while I lift them up and down. I call it the kissing game and get a good tummy workout too when I lift my legs up to my chest I sit up a little and give them a kiss then they go back down. This can last forever with my boys!

There are tons more- like carrying the most laundry I can possibly hold, or pushing the boys around the house in an empty diaper box. Just activities that aren't time restrictive and will fit into anyone's daily routine!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our Happy Halloween

With daffodils mad footnotes for the spring,
And asters purple asterisks for autumn -
~Conrad Aiken, Preludes for Memnon, 1930

We started the day with the fire cheif and fire dog trick-or-treating at Grandma Thompson's house, the boys had so much fun showing off their costumes!



Halloween 2009

Couldn't have asked for a better time on our hayride with the neighbors this year, everyone seemed to really enjoy the new wagon the Talbot family so generously crafted! But boy are we spoiled now, riding in style is completly different than walking to each house as we had to do in Glen Burnie growing up!

The fire crew



Sunday, November 1, 2009

Construction update

Been quite busy around here with all the construction but we're managing until the stairs come in (which are now overdue) and we can all utilize our own bedrooms. The boys are doing their best to adjust to sleeping in the same room, as we are to sleeping on the couch :)

Gavin helping move Carter's crib to Gavin's room
Gavin helping to put Carter's crib together in his room

Carter looking through the new hole in the wall we're taking down between the kitchen and our old bedroom


Demo of kitchen/bedroom wall
No more sleeping in there!

Kiddos had to wear ear protection during dinner because of Daddy's nail gun

Mike pulling up our old bedroom floor
Pulling up old flooring

New view from the front door (doorway into kitchen filled in half way to now become a breakfast table breezeway and our old bedroom door widened to accommodate traffic flow to stairs)

Gavin helping Daddy lay the new wood flooring

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Crafting with nature

Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

Who would have thought a nature walk around our property could lead to a beautiful centerpiece to use for the holidays!



1)Stamina to keep up with 2 toddlers running in 2 different directions
2)Bucket to collect nature's fallen treasures
3)Paper plate

Mother Nature's Collections

Glue on any old way,

Finishing touches....and...


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Watering your children

"Watering is like telling our spouse, "I love you." the more you do it, the better the result."

I know when I've slacked on watering my gardens, the leaves are droupy and some may lean over or get crunchy if it's been too long since they've gotten good hydration. Funny thing is that same goes for the boys too!

With all this cool fall weather creaping up on us the boys and I have been playing outside and at parks more frequently. I usually bring juice boxes for portability and ease of use since they arn't that good yet at drinking from a bottled container. But the juice boxes hold only so much and I can tell when Gavin's face turns red and he starts to become sluggish or Carter's steps turn to a slower pace than his normal hand waving run when he's charged and ready to go. It also effects their, sorry for the lack of better wording, going to the bathroom. They never go enough in a day if they haven't had water to help flush out their system.

They love their water just as much as their juice or milk but here lately I haven't been giving it to them due to us going places without sippy cups. If water is in a cup they'll drink it right down and get all the hydration they need for outside play but if it's in a bottle they'll only take a few sips (half water in the mouth and the other half on their shirts) and go running back to play.

That said, a big helper in getting my kiddos to drink enough while playing is to have their sippy cups on hand for frequent re-fills or using straws. If they ever tire of the water then all I have to do is add a packet of those Crystal Light water flavors to make instant juice and I know it'll be gone by the time we leave to go home!

Just reminding everyone the importance of watering the garden and your kids to help them stay healthy in this fun new season :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm seeing orange

Have you ever seen a flower down, Sometimes angels skip around, And in their blissful state of glee, Bump into a daisy or sweet pea.~Jessi Lane Adams

Now it is offically Autumn and my love for the season mixed with doing things with the boys... everyday I'm seeing orange!


We've done some color mixing to make our paper pumpkins, had carrots and oranges as snacks, found some apples that have orange coloring to them, played with orange play-dough and even made our own orange juice w/ Great-grandad's juicer.


Big brother doing the squeezing


Little brother reaping the rewards

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Second-story almost complete

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Author Unknown

I am super proud at Mike for all the hard work he's put into our second-story addition! Doing everything on his own, what a great talent God has bestowed upon him! It's been a little over a year since we've taken the roof off our little home and in a few short months we can utilize the rooms upstairs! Whoo-hoo! Here's the progress so far...

Boys Bedroom- all it needs is touch-up on the trim on the floor

Stairwell and landing- Just awaiting the spiral stairs to arrive in a few weeks then this will be complete and we can add carpet to landing

If you're ever in the market for spiral stairs we found the best place in PA. They handcraft each order in their workshop, which we took a tour of and were thoroughly impressed with! It was a day trip for us to drive there and back but truly worth it!

Our bedroom- Mike and a friend are installing the flooring this evening, then it's completing his closet and the room will be done.

Bathroom tile is almost complete too- he did amazing for his 1st time w/stone and mosaic!


I'll be sure to update when the stairs finally arrive and our house will no longer be livable for a few days due to tearing out walls and everything messy being centered in the kitchen area!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Summer creepy crawlers

What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. ~Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1871


This summer has been a good one for the flower gardens surrounding the house; big blooms and great re-growth! I've tried my best to keep up with the weeds- when I get the $$ I'm definitely having a company come out to put down the matting to block weeds- it would take me forever and I don't have that kind of time to take away from being w/ the boys- keeping up with the weeding, pruning, feeding and watering is enough for me!

But just this past week I've come across an abundance of creepy crawlers- the boys are enjoying discovering new bugs everyday!



They've even taken over the new play equipment we have back there for the boys. So every time we go to play it's a ritual for Gavin to say "shoe" or "stick" when he sees a spider making the playhouse a home or a bee buzzing nearby.


Don't get me wrong, I know spiders are great for the garden by catching pesky bugs (though I never see a mosquito being wrapped up for dinner!) but I can't stand them to be near me- let alone near the kids when they play. You never know what kind they are around here. Just yesterday I saw a clear and black striped one with hair and face that gave my insides the chills.... I think I'll have to invest in a picture book of bugs to know which ones are poisioness just to be safe.


A herd of beetles also made a home in my rose topiary bush a few months ago. When I say a few, I mean 50 I've counted, procreating like they have Spring fever- ewww!


I think they, plus the spiders and fungi due to heavy rains here lately, contributed to the disease of the main part of the branches- double ewww!


This used to be the focus of that particular garden but now it's such an eyesore! I've tried my best at nursing it back with medicine and pruning but time will tell this little one! I did some research on roses and found some interesting tid-bits that'll I'll pass along if you ever come across these symptoms.

The three most common problems are black­spot, powdery mildew and Japanese beetles- of course it looks like I have all 3! Blackspot is a fungal disease and the primary problem that weakens roses. In arid climates, blackspot is uncommon. However, where nights are humid, you can expect to see black spots appear on the leaves, which will eventually wither and fall. Healthy plants with good natural resistance will survive small outbreaks, but highly susceptible plants need to be sprayed with a commercial rose fungicide; use as directed on the label. The video below is very informational as the Maryland climate is just the same.

This is the site I found the video on:

Then if that's not bad enough another bush just being established this year looks like it too has a disease.


Man, between all the house duties, keeping up with the boys and taking care of the flowers, I'll never have time for a vegetable garden next year like I hoped!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mint Sun Tea


I can't make it through summer without my homemade sun tea! And growing up with tons of mint in my Mom's garden as a child we always had mint in our tea and I think I always will!

Sun Tea

1 glass pitcher
Fill with water
Add fresh mint stalks
Add tea bag (1 lg or 2 small)
Sit outside in direct sun for at least 4hrs
Remove mint from pitcher
Add sugar to taste


Friday, August 21, 2009

Handmade instruments

I've been pondering how the human race is so dependent on music. From the beginning we are told to let the baby hear classical music or the rhythm of their parents voice. Babies are sung to and as infants most everyone had some sort of mobile w/music, musical toy or stuffed animal, and even when they are old enough for television, every children's show has song in it for them to dance to or try to sing along with.

From the get-go kids are born with a love for music and enjoy discovering music by banging on things and making their own. There's even the fact that throughout our life here every household has a radio, every car, every store, even some bushes outside a store play music... Our life truly revolves around music!

Here's a link I found for those of us with little ones to help with their discovery and love for music without having to take them to classes to channel something that is so inertly wound in their DNA; it'll come on it's own, just give them some neat stuff to work with and you'll be amazed at the results!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

For all you party planners

For all you party planners out there, I have to send you to this blog, it is AWSOME! I am always planning way in advance for any party I give and always up for new ideas. If you're like me, crafty but have no real time to make everything yourself and no budget to go hog wild at a party store, check this out!!!! I'm totally using some of her ideas! She even posts some free downloadable stuff, like a daily planner or my favorite, the party favor cone!

I'm so addicted!

Green Cleaning

"Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there." ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

How true is that quote! Unfortunately the same thing applies to the house too when trying to keep it clean! You never know what's lurking in fibers of the couch that has had dog pee, kid pee, milk, Cheerios, crumbs of all sort and who know what else on it when you're not looking! Pretty scary sometimes. Especially since seeing those creepy pictures of dust mites and bed bugs that can form all on their own over time w/ some of the best cleaning around, yuck!


There's been a big movement here lately for Green Living. From hybrids and solar panels to light bulbs and cleaning products. For the most part I would do any of the new ideas if money weren't an object. Little by little we've switched out our light bulbs to the energy saving ones and if I get a coupon I'll try a 'green' household cleaning spray; though they take more elbow grease than Lysol or the like, the air smells fresher and less intoxicating.

Last month I was mentioning to my mom about having to literally clean the kitchen floor 3 times a day, if not more sometimes, b/c of my lovely angels just learning to use utensils or someone having a fit and plates go a flying like Frisbees. I don't have time for a mop job so it's usually Clorox wipes or a paper towel w/ some sort of spray on it. The thing is, because I wanted to not only get up the mess but also sanitize the area in case something else came in contact with that area again I ended up using disinfectant on everything, from the floor to the highchair; not thinking anything about it.

Well, she recommended I borrow her steam mop H2O, it did the job of cleaning and sanitizing w/o chemicals, just water. That truly blew me away! Mankind is pure genius! I instantly had thoughts of me wiping the floor down, Carter dropping his snack, getting the cleaner on it and him putting the cleaner in his mouth...what was I thinking! Well, probably over thinking about it but I'm sure they'll ingest things they're not supposed to at some point, just not by my doing if I can help it.


Her mop was great, but she was right, it didn't dry that fast and the pad on the end was a pain to use so she was looking into getting the Shark mop, now ever so popular on infomercials. So by chance that evening I caught QVC and they were demoing a steam mop by Hann. I had no clue about this stuff so decided to research about it online and found that this Hann mop was the best around. So b/c of their one day special pricing with easy-payment, I splurged and got the best mop around!

Watch the video, it's so true, it'll get you hooked!

Cleans tile and linoleum floors

Also cleans hardwood w/o damage and w/ an attachment that comes with it, it will de-sanitize rugs, carpet, couches, bedding... it's awesome!

On that same 'green' cleaning kick, Mike is the grill master in the summer's as we are outside more often, but with him working so much this year I've taken over the grill most times because he's not home for dinner, let alone for the cooking part. About mid season when I went to use the grill I noticed how grimy it was, not even fit for a hot dog. At that point I realized I didn't know how he cleaned the grill and wasn't too sure what to do myself. So, using the same method inside the house, I brought the cleaning supplies outside to de-grease the grill and had the same thought... cleaner on the fresh chicken I slaved to prep, what was I thinking??

Wouldn't you know the next day I was doing a Tastefully Simple party for a dear friend of the family and she had QVC on (she's addicted, where I might scroll channels, see something I like and wish I had the means to get it and keep channel surfing) and they had 'The Grill Daddy' on demo. She said she got one for her son and he loved it. Again, cleaning w/ no chemicals, just water and the heat of the grill sanitizes it and the brush gets the gunk off, brilliant! So, it was Mike's early birthday present!


This other blog I came across also gives advice about 'green' cleaning reusing what we have on hand to help save money too!