Thursday, June 30, 2016

52 Lists week #26: The Things You Keep In Your Purse

What a fun and easy list assignment this week: list the things you keep in your purse / handbag.  I typically have a pretty small purse but somehow I manage to put quite a bit into it.  I am one of those people who feels the need to always be prepared "just in case!" 




Now I know this list is a bit long but I actually do carry around a fairly small purse- honest!


  • Keys
  • Cell Phone
  • Wallet
  • Small first aid kit/ stash of band aids (I have 3 boys!)
  • Gum
  • Sunglasses
  • A tiny make up kit with lip gloss, blush and a nail file
  • Pen
  • Mini hair brush
  • A Book (usually)
  • A small camera
  • Travel pack of tissues 
What do you keep in your purse?

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

No Bake Chocolate Strawberry Dream Cake

I saw this recipe a few weeks ago that layered Twinkies, chopped strawberries and cool whip and thought that sounded AMAZING!

We ended up picking fresh strawberries Thursday night and with a family reunion planned for the weekend I knew I wanted to make a yummy dessert with them.  I had no Twinkies on hand but the grocery store had had Yodels on sale and thinking I'd make something with them this summer I had picked up a few boxes.

An idea started forming....



I love mixing chocolate and berries; either raspberries or strawberries work well paired with chocolate, and so I started to wonder if I could come up with something mixing Yodels and strawberries together.

So I started prepping.

I cleaned and cut up 4 cups of strawberries and added 1 cup of granulated sugar to them.  I let them sit so they'd made a syrup and turned my attention to the Yodels.



I knew I could just lay them out in the pan like they had done with the Twinkies but thought that the chocolate shell on the outside would prevent the strawberry taste from mixing with the chocolate cake interior.  I finally decided to cut them in half lengthwise and lay them out that way.



Once I had the bottom of my pan filled I added the strawberries over it all (with the juice).



Then I topped the whole thing with Cool Whip.



Thinking that looked good but plain, I decided to chop a few more strawberries to sprinkle on the top and added a handful of chocolate chip morsels too.



Doesn't it look delicious?!  The whole pan was gone in no time!


To make the No Bake Chocolate Strawberry Dream Cake You will need:


5 cups of chopped or sliced strawberries; divided
1 cup sugar
7 packages of Yodels
Lg Container of Cool Whip Whipped topping; thawed
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1.  Put 4 cups of strawberries in a bowl and add 1 cup of sugar; set aside so the sugar draws out the strawberry juice and makes a syrup.
2.  Meanwhile cut all the Yodels in half lengthwise and line the bottom of a 13x9 pan.
3.  Pour strawberries on top and cover up all the Yodels.
4. Spread Cool Whip on top of the strawberry layer.
5.  Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of berries and 12 cup of chocolate chips over the cool whip layer.
6.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.


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Friday, June 24, 2016

Weekly Wrap- Up; The Week We Only "Did School" Twice

We've been trying to lighten our load and find our fun, carefree, summer days again. You can read about how we're trying to lighten our summer schedule here.  I think we finally did it this week!  We had fun but stuck pretty close to home most days.  The weather was beautiful this week too!


Friday we had a lot of friends and family member over for the day; playing in the lake, swimming and having water gun fights.  It was nice to see my boys interacting more with some different friends.  They had spent the morning helping me get ready.  We made blueberry white chocolate chip cookies (recipe found here) and the two younger boys decided to drag out some art supplies while we waited.  Evan painted while Alec worked on another Stained Glass Made Easy kit.




Evan finished another dragon picture


We spent all day anxiously awaited the return of my husband after his long week away at work.  We celebrated with some pizza and pool fun.


Monday we met my sister and nephews at the beach.  It was a beautiful first day of summer and even though the beach was packed we had a truly great time.  We had a nice long car ride and listened to The Lost Hero.  We spent most of the day walking around in the water since it was low tide for a good portion of the day.  The boys made up some passing & ball games to play and we all enjoyed a cool refreshing treat from the ice cream truck that parks at the beach. Evan and Alec had a sleepover in Alec's room and I could hear them whispering long after they turned out their lights.

Snow cones at the beach! 

Ian dug a tunnel and it kept filling with water

Tuesday we finally got a bit of schoolwork done and the boys pulled out their math and spelling workbooks working on two pages in each book.  They also did some reading; Alec finished up Secrets According to Humphrey.  Evan finished up Miss Daisy is Crazy, and Ian read a few more chapters in Sleepy Hallow Sleepover.  We made tin can windsocks (instructions here) and enjoyed a lazy lunch outside while listening to two more chapters in In Too Deep.  We also read Pictures from our Vacation and Are We There Yet? The boys spent the day playing outside and talked their grandmother into taking them for rides on the jet ski.  Ian mowed our lawn for us and we stopped by the library to pick up some new books.  Evan slept over his grandmothers and the older boy and I enjoyed a quiet night playing card games.





Wednesday the boys did a bit of schoolwork before we headed out to the movies to see Finding Dory.  All three boys worked in their math workbooks.  The older two boys worked in their spelling workbooks and their Are You a Math Genius? books too.  Evan worked on a few more pages in his Minecraft activity book.  Ian finished reading Sleepy Hallow Sleepover and started reading The New Year Dragon Dilemma.  Alec read Humphrey's School Fair Surprise.  Evan read the first chapter in Dragon Masters Rise of the Earth Dragons.  We read Teeny Tiny Toad together, two more chapters in In Too Deep, and What Not to Give your Mom on Mother's Day.  We stopped at the library (AGAIN!) on our way home from the movie and the boys picked out even more books.  We listened to some more of our Lost Hero book on Cd and the boys ended their day with jet ski rides and some tubing around the lake.


Thursday Alec had an orthodontic check up early in the morning so we pushed aside our schoolwork once again and headed out.  They're still waiting for his adult teeth to grow in so it was a pretty quick check up and then as a treat I offered to take the boys to Dunkin Donuts.  We ran into their great grandfather there and the boys had a nice breakfast visiting with him.  We then headed out to the grocery store.  We have two parties this weekend and needed lots of supplies!  They were very helpful in picking everything out at the store and carrying the groceries into the house; they even helped put some of them away!  We spent a lazy day lying around the house.  The played in the sand, with their Nerf guns, spent time watching TV and playing video games, and just enjoyed a truly lazy summer day (our first one this summer!).  Alec pulled out his Qixels and made a sword.  Ian worked a bit on building a fort and gathering wood to use while Alec had left for a sleepover with his grandmother.  Then Ian, Evan and myself went to go pick some more strawberries-- we came home with another 10 lbs and some fun recipe ideas.


Linking Up With:

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Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, June 23, 2016

52 Lists week #25; My Favorite Meals

This week's list assignment was pretty simple: List Your Favorite Meals... because I am a total unabashed foodie!  I love cooking and trying out new recipes and my list of favorites is often changing too.



My only problem was narrowing the list down.

I finally decided that much like my favorite snacks list I had to divide my list up.

Which means...

In SPRING/SUMMER my favorite meals are:

  • cheeseburgers with corn on the cob and salad
  • grilled chicken with grilled potatoes and squash casserole
  • Pasta salad with grilled steak strips and freshly shelled peas
  • Clam cakes and chowder
  • Fish and chips
  • Cold sandwiches and grinders with chips
  • Waffles with cinnamon butter, strawberries, and whipped cream
  • pita chips, hummus and fresh veggies with dip
  • sliced french bread with smoked Gouda cheese and an apple
  • A large garden salad with all the fixings; especially with fresh berries on top! 
  • Anything made with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese; I just love that combo in the summer especially if it's drizzled with balsamic vinegar. 
  • Ice cream (yep, we sometimes bypass the meal altogether and go get ice cream-- for dinner!)


In FALL/Winter my favorite foods are:
  • Crock pot lasagna with garlic bread
  • Soups and stews with fresh homemade bread
  • Pot roast with mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots
  • Baked salmon with roasted asparagus and potatoes
  • Chicken parmesean with spaghetti
  • Chicken, broccoli & rice casserole
  • Quiche and salad
  • Teriyaki pork tenderloin with broccoli and egg noodles
  • Spaghetti with sauce chuck full of meatballs, sausage, & pepperoni with garlic twists
  • Thanksgiving day pie (made with all the Thanksgiving day leftovers)
  • Roast beef pot pie
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Sheppard's pie 
Some of my favorite meals when dining out:
  • Chicken Madeira (my list would never have been complete without this absolute favorite meal of mine from The Cheesecake factory!)
  • Olive garden's mushroom ravioli with the cheese sauce, bread sticks, and salad.
  • Deep dish veggie pizza from Pizzeria Uno
  • Chicken cutlet grinders with french fries
  • Turkey club sandwiches with sweet potato fries

Linking Up With:

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Simplifying Summer

I've spent the last week or so working on simplifying our summer even more.  For some reason I am not finding our summer all that relaxing or enjoyable.  I have this constant feeling of stress and being pressed for time... that is not what our summers are usually like at all!



Our summers are usually pretty relaxed:

  • My kids take a break from all their scheduled activities and we focus on spending time with family and friends swimming and playing together.
  • We cut back on almost all of our schoolwork and just try to work on a few pages in math and do some reading on those days we have time (3-4 days a week).  
  • We rarely take field trips unless they are to a park or a beach.  We leave the zoos, museums and other "school type" trips for the fall.  
  • We put on bathing suits, play in the lake and enjoy good old fashioned family fun. 



But this year I'm finding that even this laid back schedule is feeling stressful.  

Partly, I know, because of my husband's work schedule.  He has a large job going at the other end of our state and is only home on weekends so our weeks feel long and every job in the house falls to me to do (or to nag the boys to help me with).

Partly I think by adding our 100 Days of Art Challenge into our days I have unintentionally piled more onto our school week than we're comfortable with.

Partly I think it's just that we have a lot on our schedule right now with birthday parties, family reunions, and holidays; not something that happens every summer.

Focusing on smiles and fun!  

So I've spent the last week looking critically at our days and trying to figure out what is making me feel so stressed out.  This is not the first time my husband has been gone for weeks at a time for work.  This is not the first time we've added a lot of art back into our summer days.... so I'm left to question what is so different this year?  And how can I simplify our days even more?


We've  lightened up our school week; making sure we don't do school on Monday and Friday; I find this helps us enjoy a nice long weekend and still gives us enough review time during the week to feel like we're keeping up with our schoolwork.

We're turning to simple arts and crafts that don't take much to complete and that all the boys want to partake in; but no more than twice a week.  If our 100 Day Challenge takes longer than the summer so be it.  That's OK.  I'm also realizing that it's OK to buy art and crafting kits and use them for summer art fun; that takes a lot of the prep work out of my day!

While we're still making plans to meet up with friends and family I'm trying to make sure we're home at least two days a week working for a few minutes together to keep the house clean.  I think feeling like my housework is never getting done is making me feel like I never have enough time to do everything.  While we normally have a slightly messier house in the summer because we're often gone we do have people coming over soon and I feel like the house needs to stay somewhat clean.

Learning to embrace the slightly messy house and realize there is never enough time to do everything.  I find just acknowledging that fact and prioritizing what needs to get done each day helps me feel less anxious.  It's OK if the laundry is washed, dried and folded but not put away.  It's OK if the clean dishes stay in the dishwasher for a day and the dirty pile up in the sink once in a while.

We're turning to simple, easy, quick, meals that EVERYONE enjoys.  When my husband is home we'll still cook chicken or steak with potatoes and vegetables but with three kids who have vastly different tastes it just didn't make any sense to continue cooking three course elaborate meals that no one wanted to eat.  I told them that the only meals we'll be making are ones that EVERYONE will eat; that they will be taking turns helping to cook one night a week.  So we've made things like BLT sandwiches with chips and salad, french toast with strawberries, tacos, pizza, spaghetti, etc.  We wrote up a list of ideas that we brainstormed together.

We're going to focus on smiles, fun, and making memories and let everything else fall by the wayside; like we usually do in the summer.  It doesn't get much simpler than that!



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