Monday, October 31, 2011

Squirt Gun Art

PA180172I saw this on a blog that I read, and I thought it looked like a lot of fun. Since Rick likes to go shoot his guns, I thought Jack would be excited to shoot his own guns at a target.


I did this once with just Jack in our backyard and it didn’t turn out so well.  Mostly because I didn’t follow the directions. That’ll happen.  I used water with a little bit of food coloring in it instead of just food coloring.  The result was a very pale color left on the paper.  You could barely see it. 


This time, when Cage and Jack got together for their most recent Art Date, I changed things up and got a much better result.   Instead of using water and food coloring, I used water and tempera paint.  It made for a much bolder color on the paper.  Since I only had three squirt guns, we used yellow, blue, and red paint.  Obviously, if you try this at home, you can use any colors you want to use. 

Cage and Jack painted with squirt guns today

It was a fun activity for the boys to do.  It was definitely a workout for their fine motor skills and eye hand coordination.  Luckily, they didn’t get too much paint off of the paper.  At least, I hope they didn’t!


Thanks, Bekah, for letting us come over and have another Art Date with you!  We can’t wait until next time.  My Pinterest board is filling up quickly with ideas for our little guys.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Scripture, Snapshot, & a Growth Chart Moment

Jack cleaned out his toys and donated all these toys to other little boys who don't have toys.

Yesterday was a HUGE Growth Chart Moment for Jack. We cleaned out his big toy box. and donated toys to Goodwill.    While we picked through every last truck, train, and car, I asked if he wanted to give it away or keep it.  More times than not, he said “give it away!” I told him that there were other little boys who didn’t have any toys who might like to have the ones he didn’t want anymore.  Little did I know how generous my son is!

If I had to guess, I’d say that 3/4 of his toys were placed in the ‘give it away’ pile. 

One toy he chose to put in that pile made me tear up a little.  He has a toy Mack from the movie Cars who he plays with All.The.Time.  He has a Lightning McQueen that goes with it (Mack’s trailer opens up for Lightning to drive up into).  When he put Mack in the ‘give it away’ pile, I said, ‘But you play with this all the time!  What about lightning?  Where will you put him now?”  He looked up and said, “Oh yeah!” He then ran to get his Lightning McQueen race car and put it in the pile with Mack.  I guess they go together.   He made me cry a bit with that one.

For clarity, I kept saying “you know, you’ll never see these toys again.  Ever.”  He didn’t seem to care about that.  He kept saying that other boys needed toys to play with. 

I have a lot to learn, and I think he will be the one to teach me!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Foto Friday–Kids & Fall


I didn’t take any new pictures this week for this prompt, so I had to go back into my archives.  In truth, I didn’t actually TRY to take new pictures this week.  I immediately thought about these pictures that I love, so that’s what I’m sharing.

*Picture Overload*


Jack’s first Halloween.  9 1/2 months old. Our LIttle Jack-O-Lantern.

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Jack’s first fall. Oct 2009. 9 months old.

One of my all-time favorites of Jack.  9 months. Oct. 2009

Fall 2010.  21 months

I like to call this one “mom of a boy.” This (like all of these pictures) was before I got a new camera.  My little 5 year old Sony Cybershot was a pretty good camera-I didn’t do any editing to this one. 


Jack’s 2nd Halloween.  Same Costume.  That’s called “getting your money’s worth!” Oct 2010.

Cute little Punkin'

Last year we went to a pumpkin farm that had a corn sand box.  Jack loved it.  This editing is pretty funky for me, but I like how it makes the corn look soft and fluffy.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Healthified Stuffed Shells & Roasted Broccoli

This is what I had for dinner last night. 


Doesn’t it look delicious???  It’s one of my new healthy recipes I’ve recently pinned.  It’s actually supposed to be Sausage Stuffed shells, but I bought ground turkey and ground sirloin, so that’s what I use.  It also has hidden carrots in it, so it’s a good one for sneaking veggies into your kids or husbands who don’t get enough veggies.


Have you ever roasted broccoli?  It is one of the easiest things in the world to do.  If I can, I roast all my vegetables for dinner. They taste divine roasted!  It’s getting more expensive to buy fresh produce, but whenever I do bring home fresh peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus I roast them in the oven on my stone. 

If you’re a lazy cook mom pressed for time, you should totally try this.  Just throw the veggie on the stone/baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil on them, sprinkle as much salt and pepper as you want, and stick them in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes.  Really.  It’s a Fix and Forget it type of meal.  I have been known to put chicken breasts or pork chops on the stone beside the veggies and cook them all together.  30 minutes later you have an awesome dinner with practically no energy put into it.  My kind of cooking!


This recipe is copied straight from Eat Better America, with my notes in red.  It’s a very yummy, pretty healthy dinner!


Healthified Sausage-Stuffed Shells

24 jumbo pasta shells (from 12-oz box)
1 lb lean Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (ground turkey/beef)
1 container (15 oz) light ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded reduced-fat Italian cheese blend (8 oz)
1 box (9 oz) Green Giant® frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to drain
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
3/4 cup finely shredded carrots (1 medium)
1 jar (25.5 oz) Muir Glen® organic Italian herb pasta sauce (Kroger brand pasta sauce)

1 Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package, omitting salt.

2 In 10-inch nonstick skillet, crumble sausage. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink; drain.

3 In medium bowl, stir ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the Italian cheese blend, the spinach and basil until well mixed. Stir in carrots and sausage.

4 Spread about 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce over bottom of baking dish. Spoon about 3 tablespoonfuls sausage mixture into each pasta shell. Arrange shells, filled sides up, on sauce in baking dish. Pour remaining pasta sauce over stuffed shells. Spray 15-inch piece of foil with cooking spray; cover shells with foil.

5 Bake 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining 1 cup Italian cheese blend. Bake uncovered 5 to 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

*serving size is 2 shells

Thank You, Kim!

I love my bloggy friend Kim.  She has taught me a lot about photography and photoshop.  I just finished reading her post here, ran to open my Photoshop, and created this! 

It’s been 6 years since Rick and I went on our honeymoon.  We stopped at a very large store that he LOVES on our way out of the state.  I made us take these two pictures with the hopes that one day I would figure out a way to join us into one picture.  6 years and 2 months later, I finally figured out how to do it!

Thanks, Kim!

Before: Wedding and Honeymoon 089Wedding and Honeymoon 088


Layer masks.  Who would have thunk it? 

 (I did this pretty quick, but it’s pretty good.  I’d do a little more fixing before I printed it, but this is all the time I had)

Thanks, Kim!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

April Date Night–in September

I've seen better days, but here we are.

So we stopped dating each other. I love my husband, and he loves me, but we’re homebodies.  I had no idea this ‘one date a month’ idea was going to be so hard to do!  I’m sure I have new readers since January, so go check out our first date this year and see what I’m talking about. 

We’re not doing so well with our date nights.  The April ticket kept staring at us from the wall calendar, but we never planned anything.  (our March Date Night didn’t happen until July) It’s either because we’re too cheap to hire a sitter or buy dinner, or it’s because we’re too lazy to plan anything.  I bet it’s a good mix of both. 

Happy day at the zoo

For our April date (that happened in September), I decided to plan something really fun.  I found a site called Dating Divas that has a ton of great ideas for dates.  I found most of them to be more appropriate for extroverts or groups, but there are a few floating around their site for the introverts like Rick us.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I decided to use their Bookstore Date idea. I printed their cards and didn’t tell Rick what we were doing until we were enjoying our elegant desserts (McDonald’s ice cream cones) in a romantic atmosphere (sitting in the truck in the parking lot). We really know how to do up date night right!

Once you’re in the bookstore, you search out certain types of books and bond over them.  It’s really fun.  Here is a BRIEF description of the tasks.


First, we found some recipes that we would like to fix for our spouse sometime.  I’m pretty sure we’ve forgotten all about these recipes and they’ll probably never get fixed, but it did prove that we know each other well.  I picked an enchilada dish for him and he picked a lasagna dish for me.


We needed to find children’s books that we remembered from our childhood, but that our spouse hadn’t read before. That was tough!  This is Rick’s book he found for me. 


And this is my book I found for him.  I couldn’t believe he’d NEVER heard of this book.  The whole time I was reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about what a ‘downer’ this book is.  I’m surprised that I remembered it so well. 


Another thing we had to find was a book on somewhere we’d like to go someday.  I’ve been to Great Britain  before, but I’d LOVE to go back.  I do believe it’s my favorite place in the entire world.  I especially fell in love with Wales and all its castles.  (The castle on the Wales book I’ve actually been to).  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         . OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rick would LOVE to go to Ireland. He wants to see the country and visit the home of Guinness.


Finally, one of the tasks was to find a book that made you laugh.  That was much harder than I thought it should be.  After several failed attempts with some joke books, this book finally hit the mark.  It is so funny what text messaging autocorrect will create.  I recommend this book if you don’t mind a few bad words and you want a good belly laugh. 


This date was just what we needed.  It cost a whopping $3 for the whole evening (thanks to Gramma watching Jack), and it was a great time to just be together and reconnect.  Rick appreciated the thought that went into planning the date, and he said he’d try to plan the next one.  I’m not holding my breath, and I kind of already have the next one planned.  (Movie night to see Courageous).   



Monday, October 24, 2011

How I freeze Corn on the Cob

It seems that all my posts recently have been about food.   I’m obsessed with food.   I will say that I have food on the brain a lot recently, because I’m watching my calorie intake.  And I’ve lost a lot of weight from just limiting my calories.  Someday I’ll blog about it, but it seems that whenever I blog about weight loss, I put it right back on –darn that Satan!!  So, when I’m good and ready, and prayer protectioned up, I’ll post about how I’m losing weight for real this time.  (Last time didn’t work for me.)

*I know this post is untimely, seeing as how corn is now out of season, but I’ve never been timely before.  Why start now?

On to the work!

I love corn on the cob.  Whenever it is on sale, I buy as much as I can get.  Usually I fix it every night for a week, we’re totally bloated, and fed up with corn for the season.  This year, since I was watching my calories, I couldn’t eat as much in a sitting as I like to  used to.  So, if I didn’t want to throw away the corn, because it had gone bad in my fridge, I had to come up with a way to store it. 

Most people now are shaking their heads and saying, “duh, Manda, why don’t you just freeze it??”  Well, it took me a while to figure this out, but that’s just what I did.  I looked up how to freeze corn, found out it’s a bit of a process, but totally worth it, and began the work.

Even though corn is done being on sale in the grocery stores, the big apple farm we went to a few weeks ago still had fresh ears for $.050, so I bought a dozen.  It’s not the best price of the season, but it beats what it could be I guess.  

Here is what’cha do:

Get a pot of water boiling, shuck your corn, and get an ice water bath ready. PA160219

Drop in a few ears of corn at a time, let them boil for a few minutes, then drop them into the cold water bath to stop the cooking process. I boiled them for about 6 minutes.  If you’re doing this for the first time, you may want to look up the actual time you’re supposed to boil them.


Cut the corn off of the cob, separate the kernels, then lay them out on a parchment lined baking sheet.  PA160221

Save an ear for your toddler who won’t stop asking you for corn on the cob RIGHT NOW.  He LOVES ‘cob on corn’ as he calls it.last corn on the cob of the season from LyndsPA160225

Stick the baking sheet in the freezer for a few hours, or overnight, or for a few days if you’re like me and forget they’re in there.


Once they’re frozen, break them up and put them in a big ziplock bag.  I use a straw to suck out the extra air from the bag when I’m putting something like this in the freezer.  It’s almost like vacuum packing it, but not. Close enough. 

I froze broccoli and green beans this summer like this too.  I boiled them for about 3 minutes, then froze them the same way.  I froze bell peppers as well, but they don’t need to be blanched, they can just be chopped and frozen. 

I would love to say that I have a huge stock of fresh frozen veggies waiting for me to use this winter, but unfortunately, we’ve eaten it all up already!  I need to make sure this corn lasts into the winter.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Foto Friday–Orange


Oops, I missed last week. I’m sure I’m the only one who noticed, but I’m still sorry about it.

This week’s theme is Orange.  I walked around my house and found orange things to take pictures of, since our leaves turn yellow in our backyard, and I’m without a vehicle to even go out and look for orange.

So here they are, unedited and simple. 


This is Jack’s new dump truck.  You can tell that it’s not actually NEW.  It’s just new to him.  His cousins played with this truck 10 years ago, my sister and I played with it 30 some years ago, and my dad played with it (its original owner) 60 years ago.  Like most hand-me down toys, Jack broke it within a week –I’m not sure how these toys can last years and years, but then when they get to Jack, they break or get lost in 2 days.  *sigh* Anyway, Rick fixed it and it’s like ‘new’ again.  Maybe Jack’s kids will play with it someday.


This pumpkin is new to me.  I just bought it from a craft fair last weekend.  I never go to craft fairs, and when I do, I rarely buy anything for myself, but this weekend I went a bit crazy.  It didn’t help that my best friend’s mom made it and I love her like my own mother, so I HAD to buy it. 


Buying this pumpkin was life changing for me.  Really.  When I got home, I realized I had nowhere to put it.  Every surface in my home is full of clutter.  So, in trying to find a spot for my new –and only- fall decoration, I de-cluttered my home.  I mean REALLY de-cluttered. Let’s just say that this dry sink was unable to have a big pumpkin sitting in it like this last week. In fact, I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen the inside of the sink like this in 5 years! Mostly I  just de-cluttered my kitchen, but MAN does it feel good!!  Maybe I’ll blog about it someday.  I didn’t take any ‘before’ pictures, but I can pull up just about any picture in my files and call it a before. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Apple Picking & Applesauce Canning

Melrose Apples (Official Apple of Ohio)

A few weekends ago we went apple picking.  We didn’t know what to expect, since this was the first time we’d done any apple picking as a family.  BOY was it busy!!  There were so many people that we almost turned around and went home.  But I really wanted to make applesauce, and I really wanted to create a family memory, so we soldiered on. 

Apple picking at Lynds Farm

After driving to the correct part of the orchard (this is a BIG farm), and taking one bag from the attendant –a 20lb capacity bag – we made it to the part of apple picking that is actually picking apples. 

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We were picking Melrose and Suncrisp apples this day.  Melrose apples were developed at Ohio State University, and they have become the official state apple.  They are delicious!!  They’re tart, juicy, and perfect.  Of course, when you go to pick apples, you have to try out the goods. 

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When I tasted a Suncrisp apple, I have to say that I liked it just a bit better.  It’s amazingly delicious.  While the Melrose is a cross between a Johnathon and a Red Delicious, a Suncrisp is a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Cox Orange Pippin (never heard of that one).  It was a bit tarter, just as juicy, and still a great eating apple.  I have had a love affair with Honeycrisp apples for a few years now, but this one surpasses my honeycrisps in flavor for sure.

They were SO GOOD.  This one was a Suncrisp.

When I got home, I washed the apples and stored them in a jumbo ziplock bag in my crisper drawer.  Eventually, they were going to become applesauce.  A few will become pies, but those won’t happen until Thanksgiving.  I’m hoping they store well like they say they do.

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Last weekend (after another trip to the farm to buy 3 more pecks – does 4 pecks equal a bushel?  That’s how many I ended up with) I set into making applesauce.  I LOVE homemade applesauce.  There is nothing like it, and it’s so stinking easy!  If you don’t take into account the time it takes to peel, core, and chop the apples before getting them into the pot. 

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After 2 hours, and help from Rick, I filled to overflowing two crock pots. (Thanks, Heather for letting me borrow yours!!) I add some sugar – around a half cup, though a full cup makes it so much better – then sprinkle the top with cinnamon.  Mix it all up with about a 1/2 cup of water) and let it cook on low for about 8 hours.  My house smelled SOOOOO good!!! At the end of the 8 hours, I took a ricer to the sauce just to make sure it wasn’t too chunky. 


This was my first attempt at canning anything.  (Thanks, Heather for letting me borrow your canning equipment!) I must say, if there was a fly on my wall watching me can, it would have died of laughter.  I can’t say I’m all that good yet at judging how much water should be in the big canning pot.  The floor got a good soaking from the boiling water that was displaced by my 6 cans.  My feet were pretty soaked as well. 

You’ll notice there are no pictures of me actually canning.  It was just too big of a mess to think about grabbing my camera to document the hilarity.

I ended up with a total of 10 quarts of applesauce from about 3 pecks or 20lb bags.  I have another peck left to make sauce and enough apples pulled out from my first trip to make 2 pies (I hope).  There are a TON of apples in my house! 

This applesauce is the most divine thing I’ve ever tasted. If you ever find yourself with 8-10 apples (or 100lbs), please take the time to peel, core, and chop those apples, throw in some sugar and cinnamon if you want and make applesauce.  It’s REALLY something everyone should experience. 


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