Monday, August 31, 2009

Our Fun Weekend, Sans Kids

This past weekend, my husband and I had the pleasure of going away for a night by ourselves. My mom and step-dad own a weekend place upstate on the coast, so we dropped the kids off there Saturday and picked them up on Sunday.

Mom and Walter live right on the ocean, so the kids had tons of fun collecting shells, jumping in sand and ocean water, playing in the pool, roasting marshmallows, and getting dirty. Meanwhile, my husband and I checked into our hotel and changed, and then headed out for a late lunch. We had some time to kill before the movie, so we headed to the Bellis Fair mall and did a bit of shopping. We bought a few books, I bought some shoes (which I LOVE), met some fellow Canadians and just meandered around the mall.

After that, we headed to the theater to see Inglourious Basterds. Wow, what an awesome movie. I really am terrible at writing reviews, but I will say that for someone who doesn't generally like Tarantino movies, this one kicked ass. I loved it. Both of us want to see it again in the theater, but that isn't very economical, so we'll be buying it the day it comes out on DVD. The characters they picked were just perfect for their parts. My favorite was "The Jew Hunter", played by Christopher Waltz. His pipe scene was hilarious! Seriously, if you haven't seen this movie, RUN to the theater and see it. You'll love it, I promise!

After an after-movie treat of Coldstone ice cream (OK, "Apple Pie A La Coldstone has to be one of THE BEST I have ever had), we headed back to the hotel. Sunday we didn't get up till 9AM. Oh, how nice it was to sleep in and not be woken up by four shrieking kids. It was great. We went out for a late breakfast/brunch 11AM and then headed over to my parent's place afterwards. We didn't want to get home too late, so we left at two.

It wasn't a long weekend, but it felt great to get away without the kids. We had a really nice time together. I hope we can do it again!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Biscuity Goodness, A Picture

I made them again this morning, so here is a picture of my handiwork. They were all demolished again. I'm satisfied and pleased that it went over so well.

You'll see the little twisty one to the left: When I no longer have extra dough to make a whole biscuit, I twist it up and let the kids fight over it. They always want the oddly shaped one. My husband tells me his mom did some version of this as they were growing up too.






Thursday, August 27, 2009

Biscuits, The Easy Way

Today I made biscuits for the first time, and I was amazed how easy it was. My husband is a big fan of hot breakfasts for everyone, so I made these for us this morning.

Biscuit Recipe

2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup All-Vegetable Shortening
1 cup buttermilk, or you can use whole milk


Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, cut the shortening into the Self-Rising Flour with a pastry blender or fork or your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. I usually use two knives, as I don't have a pastry blender.

Blend in milk with fork just until the dough comes together. The dough will be sticky.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently by folding the dough 8 to 10 times.

Roll it out with a rolling pin till it is about 1 inch thick.

Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough.
Do not twist the cutter until the dough has been cut all the way through (twisting the cutter will cause the biscuits not to rise straight up. This is very important, don't skip it.

Place the biscuits on baking sheet so that they barely touch. Gather up the scrap dough, press it into a circle, working it as little as possible and continue cutting until all dough has been used.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.


Serve warm with butter, or homemade strawberry jam as I did.

The kids devoured these. I made a double batch, and we had non left. My son ate 5! All I heard all breakfast was "These are so good Mom!", "These are delicious!", "That was fantastic Honey", etc etc. Not to toot my own horn, but they were quite tasty.

I've never made them before, so it was good for me to get out of my comfort zone. I'll be making these again for sure.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Husband Is Addicted To Gadgets

My husband always likes to have new gadgets to play with. Last year he was uber excited about the iPhone 3G, got it, and cashed in his vacation time to get it. He's had his iPhone for a year now, and loves it, but hates AT&T with a passion. Abhors them. They have horrible service coverage. He needs more because of his job, as AT&T has practically nothing in some of the states he drives in.

So what did he do, but go sign us up for new accounts through Verizon. We're in the process of cancelling our AT&T account, and he will be selling his iPhone through Craigslist, or I'll be doing it on eBay. As a replacement, he will be getting a classic iPod for his music/videos/audio books once we sell the iPhone.

We got a good deal on our phones through Verizon though, it was buy one get one free. We both got the Blackberry Tour. But oh how confusing this thing is! I am slowly learning how to use it, but I feel like I have a twitch, because I can't type worth shit on a tiny QWERTY keyboard. I do really like it for it's BB messenger service, which means I can chat with my sister, who lives in Canada, all day long if I want, and not have to pay anything for it. And if I need to do something online while I am out, I have readily available Internet access.

I still love my iPod touch though, and use that all the time. Right now I have about a million different ways to access the Internet though. I have my iTouch, my Blackberry Tour, and my PC, plus we can access the internet via our WiFi on our Wii. I can twitter through my PC via TweetDeck or on the web, through UberTwitter, TwitterBerry and TwitterCasters on the BB, through my phone via text, through TwitterFon, TweetDeck and Twitterific on my iTouch. Ugh! It's a bit of an overload I think, lol. I'll just stick to my favorites I think (TweetDeck, UberTwitter, the web and via text). I have a bit of a media overload I think, haha.

If you have a CrackBerry, what do you use it for besides a phone? Are there any good Apps you can recommend? Any tips?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday



I have to repost this recipe, as it has become a family favorite. I have about 4 loaves of it in the freezer, and we're just dying to eat it. My husband is coming home tomorrow, so I suspect we'll be having some for desert, or a snack, really soon.
I even froze some blueberries with a plan to make this once our other loaves run out. I specifically labeled the freezer bags "Blueberry Buckle", so we wouldn't eat the frozen berries inside, haha.


Blueberry Buckle

Cake batter:

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups flour all-purpose
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Step 1 - Wash the blueberries

Just rinse them in a colander or sieve in cold water, no soap.
Now is also a good time to get the oven preheating to 375 F.
Step 2 - Mix the dry ingredients
Combine the 3/4 cup sugar, 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional) and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl and mix well!

Step 3 - Add the butter and the egg

Add the 1/4 cup soft butter, the egg and using a mixer (hand, electric, or just a large spoon, whatever you have) , mix it up!
Step 4 - Mix in the milk
Add the 1/2 cups milk and mix it up.

Step 5 - Add the flour

While mixing, stir in the 2 cups of flour! (it's just like making pancakes). It will end up like very thick pancake batter. You may have to finish mixing by hand . I added a splash of extra milk here, the batter was much too thick.

Step 6 - Add the blueberries and mix

Add the blueberries and gently mix it. You don't want to crush the berries, but it won't matter if some get crushed, either!

Step 7 - Grease and flour the pan(s)
This is pretty self explanatory

Step 8 - Pour the batter into the pan(s)

Just pour the batter into the the pans. It should only fill the pan about half way up! It WILL rise, don't worry!

Step 9 - Make the topping

Now to make the topping, in another bowl, mix together the topping ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup soft or melted butter or margarine

Step 10 - Sprinkle the crumb topping over the batter

Pretty self-explanatory, don't you think?

Step 11 - Put the coffee cake in the oven!

Cook the coffee cake at 375 F (or 190 Celsius) for 45 minutes.

Step 12 - Remove when the coffee cake is golden brown

After about 35 minutes, check to see if the top is golden brown. If if not, check every 3 or 4 minutes until it is

Enjoy!




Make It From Scratch Carnival

Thank you to It's Frugal Being Green for hosting this weeks Make It From Scratch Carnival, and for including my post "Berries, Berries, and More Berries"

I'll be posting the review for the No Pudge Fudge Brownie mix soon, but my husband is coming home tomorrow, so give me a few days. I'm in cleaning mode right now. We've been busy, and yesterday I did a mongo, ginormous, $300 grocery trip. It took me a couple hours with all three girls, then I got to come home and put the stuff away. That's a task in itself!

I'll write more soon...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Foray Into Trader Joe's

Today while the kids and I were out doing our Old Navy returns, we stopped by the new Trader Joe's that just opened up in our city. I love Trader Joe's, and it has been a long time since I've been to one. I have a few favorites from the store, so I was happy to purchase those again. I say foray because my shopping trip really was like a quick foray into enemy territory. It was so incredibly busy that there were no available carts, and I was forced to use a basket. That turned out to be a plus though, as I didn't have to navigate between the throngs of shoppers and their bright red carts.

I got all of the following for about $26.



I did get a few doubles of some things (i.e the Chinese crackers, the milk chocolate candy bars, and I also got a pack of Chicken Jerky snacks for the dog). You'll notice the lemonade is opened, I opened it as soon as we got home! haha

The yogurt is for the No Pudge Brownies. I will be doing a review of those over the next couple days, so be sure to look out for it! I have heard of Dr Bronner's before, but have never used it before, so I am excited to try it. The Tea Tree oil soap I am going to use for my face I think, or at least try it. Tea Tree oil always works for me when I break out, so I'll see how this stuff fares. I will do a review of that too! (that round container hiding behind the Chinese crackers is a tub of cinnamon ginger cat cookies that I got for the kids. A huge tub for only $2.49!!)

I'm off to enjoy the sunny weather with the kids. We're counting down till the cold starts, so we may as well enjoy the summer while it lasts.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Car Seat Safety

I wrote last week about us needing a new car seat for our 3.5 year old daughter. It was finally delivered two days ago, and today I had a Sheriff's Deputy come over and install it for me. I am really grateful for that because I would not have been able to install the latch by myself, as you really need two people (or one really strong one) to get a good, tight fit. Now it is installed, and we won't have to take it out for a very, very long time (or at least until she needs the belts adjusted, which will be quite awhile).

I landed up giving our older seat to my next door neighbor. For reasons I don't care to get into, I'll just say they are not safety conscious. Not one bit. I just felt like maybe they needed this seat for their 1.5 year old, since we couldn't do anything with it. The seat I gave them expires in two years, and has never been in an accident, so I figured, why not just give it to them.

I was horrified to see the seat they had for their son. First off, it expired a YEAR ago! The straps were all twisted and worn, the pad was torn and threadbare, and the chest straps were in the smallest slot when her son needs the middle one at least! I also noticed she only has the lap belt, so the car seat isn't even installed in her car very well either, but unfortunately, we can't do much about that. Oh, and she also told me she'll probably put the "baby" in a regular booster seat within a year or so because "he'll be big like his daddy".

Anyway, I did what I could, explained how to use the seat I gave them, and went on my way. I can't do much of anything about that anymore, but just hope they use it safely.

I also wanted so share some basic "rules" and tips.

1. A toddler/preschooler should be rear facing as long as possible. It is now recommended to rear face until at LEAST two years old

2. If a child outgrows their 40lbs/40" seat, once they outgrow one aspect, the seat is too small and they must be moved to another.

3. Check your state laws, most have height restrictions for only using a seat belt. Right now the consensus is to keep a child in a belt positioning booster till they are 4'9". WA state is 8 years or 4'9" (57"), but my 8.5 year old daughter is still in a booster seat because she is so petite. My almost 7 year old will probably be able to get out next year because she is only 54" tall, and will probably at or close to that height.

4. It's not "un-cool" to keep your preschooler/toddler in 5pt harness once they outgrow their smaller seat. Just because they reach 40lbs does not mean they are mature enough to be in a seat belt. In fact, most children aren't big enough for a seat belt booster until at least 4 years old. You can find many affordable 5 pt harnesses that fit a higher height/weight past the 40lbs/40". We bought our current seat, the Safety 1st Apex 65 and it fits up to 65lbs as a 5pt harness. The top strap/torso height is 17.25", which means it will fit for a very long time. My daughter has a 13.5" measurement from her bottom to the top of her shoulders, so she has a long ways before she outgrows the seat.

I wish I had known all this when the older kids were younger. I would have kept them in a 5pt harness a lot longer. Thankfully nothing happened.

Some good sites to check out

Car-Seat.org (the people on this board are EXTREMELY helpful and willing to answer any questions)

Kyle David Miller.org This website gives a lot of tips and education on using a 5pt harness.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Check Out My Clubs

I apologize for not having posted since last Saturday. Life just kind of got away from me, I had a bit of writer's block, and we were pretty busy. I'm back in the game now though.

Check out these babies! My husband calls them clubs because they could be weapons of mass destruction. When my 3 year old saw them she said with wonder in her voice, "Mommy, look at the giant pickle!"



Thanks to my friend Sara, I was gifted with these two huge Zucchinis to do with as I pleased. They're each a respectable 22 inches long! I plan to grate most of them and freeze it for future use in sauces, baking and what not.

What do you do with your Zucchini?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Scroll down to the post after you watch the video.



It really is the most wonderful time of the year. Parents all over are counting down the days till their spawn, uhh...I mean children, go back to school. Some lucky parents have already unloaded their kids to the teachers already. Any honest parent can say they really are looking forward to the start of school. And know what? I AM!!! I can't wait to have only one child at home starting September 9th. Only 3.5 more weeks! You are lying to yourself if you are not looking forward to it.

My plan is to keep me and the baby (we really should stop calling her that, she is 3.5 now and anything but a baby) busy, busy. Every 1st and 3d Tuesday of the month we go to MOPS in the morning. I've also just joined the local Mom's Meetup Group, and there is a lot of fun activities planned with them (park playdates, field trips, pumpkin patch stuff in October etc). And I'm also going to be taking her to library story time every Thursday morning. That will keep us plenty busy I think, especially with normal day to day errands. I am really looking forward to having a schedule again too.

This summer has been a bit chaotic for us. We had a month of summer vacation before we went on Vacation to Canada, spent a week there,and then came back home. Since then we've had one really, really hot week. It was at 106* one day! We've gone to the Zoo a couple times, gone to friends' houses, gone swimming in our pool, went strawberry and blueberry picking. And now the weather is cold. It has been raining and cold the last week or so, and we've only got a good 3 weeks before summer is over. My husband is coming home in two weeks, so we'll be busy then (and the kids are going to see my mom and step-dad for a weekend). But I'm just not sure what I want to do the next couple weeks. Any ideas?

The Zoo is out...maybe. We might make one more day trip out of it, but I have to see what the weather is like. I would like to take the kids to the park a few more times as well.

I've been buying school supplies and clothes throughout the summer to help break up the costs of 4 children needing new clothes, and 3 needing school supplies. But we're almost done!

All that's left to buy is:
  • socks and underwear for all the kids
  • new backpack (we're springing for Jansport this time so they last a bit longer)
  • new tennis shoes
  • the last few school supplies like water color paints and a memory stick for the twins
I was very blessed to find everything we needed on sale this year, and have the kids still fit into some things from last year. Today I bought the last of the clothes at Old Navy online. I had a 20% off $100 coupon, so I threw in a few things for the baby to get to the $100 mark. Old Navy is having their $5, $10, $15 sale, so I got a lot of stuff today and earlier this week. I think I've spent maybe $300 on every one's clothes, if not less! Shoes will not be cheap, probably $100 for 3 pairs, and our son wears men's shoes, so his shoes are not cheap.

Is anyone else rejoicing with me because their kids are going back to school? I know I can't be the only one!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Eatmore Bars

If you're Canadian, you know what Eatmore candy bars are. They're a delicious, chocolaty, chewy snack. Since I don't live in Canada anymore, I just make my own from a recipe my Mom gave me. She made these for us when we were growing up, and they taste much, much better than the store bought ones I think.


Eatmore Bars

Ingredients:

1 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup salted peanuts
1 cup raisins

Directions:

Combine the peanut butter and honey in a large saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until just boiling.
Remove from the heat, and add vanilla, oatmeal, chocolate chips, peanuts and raisins.
Stir all ingredients together until all the chocolate is melted and the mix is well combined.

Put into a greased 9x9 inch baking pan. Chill for 1 hour!

Makes 24 bars. Enjoy!

I'll be making these for the kids for an after school snack once they go back to school. They're "forbidden" at school, so they'll only be eaten at home. Look for some more back to school snacks and recipes here, I'll be posting some more real soon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Need A New Car Seat?

We bought our current 5 point harness 4.5 years ago, at Wal Mart. It's a Safety 1st Vantage. I love this seat, and it has served us well through 2 children. But now that our youngest daughter is outgrowing it, we've had to get her a new seat. The Vantage only goes up to 40lbs/40" as a 5 Pt harness, and she is also too young to be in a belt positioning booster seat.

I did my research, and since we're on a budget, I decided to go with another Safety 1st Seat. I really like their products, and since this seat held up so well, I figured another one would. I purchased a new Safety 1st Apex 65 seat from Albee Baby. The ladies over at Car-Seat.Org were very helpful in giving me any sort of information I needed on this seat, including the height of the top tether strap (17.25"!!). So if you're looking for a good, AFFORDABLE seat, this one is available on Albeebaby for only 94.94, including UPS Ground shipping. If you buy it elsewhere, expect to pay upwards of $130 US for it.

What I love about this seat is that it puts the child in a 5 pt harness till 65lbs and 57" tall! I don't think I'll keep her in the 5pt harness till she is 57" tall, but at least till kindergarten. That's only 2 years away anyway! Right now she is 40" tall and 38lbs, and you have to get a new seat once your child has outgrown either of the height and weight limits. I don't think she'll outgrow this one for awhile. Once the 5pt harness has been outgrown, the seat can be used as a belt positioning booster to 100lbs. And it also uses a LATCH, which we have in our van. Our LATCH is only good for weights up to 48lbs, and after that only the tether can be used. And thankfully, we have both!

I know my husband thinks I'm a little crazy for wanting her in a 5pt harness still because she's 3.5, but I just feel safer that way. We didn't know any better with the older 3 kids, and put them in a booster quite early. His reasoning for putting her in a belt positioning booster seat was just because we did it with the other kids, so why not her? I don't exactly recall how old the twins were, but it was a lot younger than they needed to be. We didn't know any better. And with our middle daughter, she moved out of the current seat once she hit the height and weight limit, right around 3.5 too if I recall.

At least now I have peace of mind, and I'm happy with that.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday




This week I had trouble figuring out what to write for WFMW. I don't always get this flash of brilliance, and have the most perfect WFMW post ever, so I need inspiration, and often! As I was going through my kitchen cupboards, looking for something to inspire me, I found this product that I had completely forgotten about.



I think the bottle under my kitchen sink actually moved with us to this house 1.5 years ago, and has sat there completely forgotten about since then. However, it still works for me, and I'm going to make it work again.

This stuff is a wonder at cleaning tubs, shower walls, and especially glass shower doors.

You know how the shower doors and walls get that nasty white film on them after awhile? And nothing can really cut through that soap scum? Orange Glo works like a charm. Yes, it is supposed to be used for wood cleaner and polish, but it does the trick here too. I don't know how, but it cuts through that grime like it's no body's business. Plus, the oil in the cleaner makes it much harder for soap scum to reappear, as long as you clean it regularly. All you have to do is spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes to penetrate the dirt, and then wipe off with a DRY rag. It's that easy.

In all honesty, I really did forget I had this stuff under my sink. I am going to be using it this weekend when I clean out my shower, maybe I'll finally be able to conquer that ever-present film on the shower door.

Check out the other WFMW posts over at We Are That Family!

The Yearly Yardsale

Ever year, for the last three years, the kids and I have gone to a huge yard sale at a local middle school. I love it, because I get a ton of stuff for cheap. It's run by the homeless coordinator for the school district, and she collects donations all year long for this huge sale.

So this week it finally happened. I look forward to it every year. This morning we got up bright and early and drover over to the middle school and gorged ourselves on deals.

I only spent about $7, but all the stuff I bought, I just rounded up to an even $10. I do that because the proceeds help the homeless students and families in this particular school district, so I don't mind giving extra. Sometimes I go more than once during the week, and I might again on Friday. I'm not sure yet though.

Prices at the sale are cheap, super super cheap.

Winter jackets were $0.25
Halloween costumes were $0.05
Jeans were $0.15
Tops were $0.10
Sweatshirts/Hoodies were $0.10
Shoes were $.025
Misc/Toys were $0.05

I came home with 3 winter jackets (one is a dark purple DOWN coat for my 3 year old), a Gap jacket for my oldest, a light weight Lands End coat for one of the girls, 3 pairs of jeans, 3 skirts, numerous hoodies (and I mean numerous, I have 4 kids to buy for), a few sweaters for each girl, 2 pairs of shoes, a few tops for the girls, about 10 different Halloween costumes for dress up and maybe Halloween this year. I got 3 tops and a hoodie for myself too. And we probably got at least a dollar's worth of toys/purses/stationary.

You know those big huge blue Ikea bags? I came home with TWO of those stuffed and bulging, plus two large reusable bags from Ikea also stuffed full. A few of the brands we came home with were Fox, Aeropostale, Gap, Lands End, Puma, Hurley, and Old Navy.

I love a good bargain!

Monday, August 10, 2009

We're Going Away Again

Only for one night though, at the end of the month. But my hubby and I are both looking forward to it. A night away from the kids? It can't get much better than that!

At the end of the month, we're taking the kids upstate to my Mom & Step-dad's weekend house. They live right on the coast, so the kids will get to play on the shore (hey, North westerner's say Shore, not Beach, so I am trying to prepare myself by learning the lingo, haha), and collect all sorts of treasures. My mom's place also has a community pool, so the kids can go swimming, and I think they plan to roast hot dogs and marshmallows as well. We wanted the kids to be able to go Grandma and Granda's place before we moved, and it's not a short drive, so we thought we'd make a weekend out of it. We'll drop them off mid day on a Saturday, and then pick them up same time the next time. We dont have to be home at any particular time, so we'll spend some time there too, and probably leave later that afternoon. It is about a 2.5 hour drive I think.

We haven't had a night away from the kids in 5 years. Yes, you read that right, 5 years. We've gone on date nights, but not for a night away in ages. We're going to Bellingham, what a treat! hahaha. Though Bellingham may not be very special, we still get time alone. We're planning on going to see Inglorious Basterds, go out for dinner and who knows what else. Do a bit of sightseeing I guess? We've already reserved a hotel room, so at least that is taken care of. I really don't care what we do, I am just excited to get to be with my husband without any kids around. I guess this could be an early anniversary trip? We're celebrating 10 years this year!!

What is there to do in Bellingham, Washington?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Blog Changes & The Big Project Update

I sprung the news earlier this week that we're moving to the East Coast next year. I'm not sure if I really elaborated on my feelings about it, so here goes: I'm scared and I'm excited. I'm nervous, and worried, but looking forward to new possibilities, new friends, and a new way of living. I'm sad to leave my family in B.C., sad to to leave the mountains, the rain, the evergreen trees, the Pacific Northwest, the ocean, the Puget Sound, my friends, my kids' friends, the view of Mt Rainier from right down the road, the closeness of the strawberry farm and blueberry farm, the mall I have shopped at for 4 years, Safeway. Everything. I am sad to leave Washington. This feels like home to me. It has been our home for almost 10 years.

But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

What I am looking forward to is 4 complete seasons, snow, having familial support close by, meeting my new niece/nephew, getting to drive across the country and see things we've never seen. I'm excited to be only a few hours from NYC by train, to be closer to my Brother in Ontario. I'm really happy about cheaper living, getting to know my husband's family, and living in a state where there is something to do all the time. And the thing I am looking forward to the most is that I will FINALLY have my husband home each and every night in just two years. There finally is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Pennsylvania will be an adventure for us, and hopefully I can feel about it the way I do about Washington. Maybe one day it will be home for me.

Originally we had planned to have me and the kids fly out, and my husband and his dad drive our van with the pets. We were also going to send our belongs via PODS, but found out they don't service the area we'll be moving to. Now the plan, as dreadful as it may seem, is to have ALL of us drive out. We're going to rent a 26ft UHaul, which my husband and his dad will take turns driving. I'll be the primary driver of our van, and the guys will take turns switching off with me. The dog will ride in the UHaul with my husband, and I will have the cats. He'll like that, Braddock loves taking car rides, so this will be an adventure for him. And we'll spend the money beforehand and purchase an in-car DVD system. There is NO way I am driving across the country without some method to shut my kids up. Though I might have to resort to ductape if it gets too bad.

We decided to cut costs and do it this way because the other way is too expensive. We figure we can cover most of the costs with our tax return next year, and we're saving up the rest. We do plan to purge a LOT of our belongings. All the tv/dvd/entertainment center items will be gone, save for the Wii,and possibly the dvd player. We will purge the girls' dressers (they need replaced anyway), most of our book shelves, and our bedroom set. Our bedroom set we bought when we were first married will be sold (gorgeous Cherry wood, with a 4 poster bed and two great dressers), but has been rattled a bit during our moves over the last 10 years. Plus, it is so heavy to move, so we're going to replace it once we move. So anything that we don't use, love or need, or is broken/in need of replacement, will be replaced.

So that's all for now, folks. I'll update more on our move as needed. I'm glad we finally got it out in the open! I've held that secret from my family for months! Oh and of course, I will do blog updates while we're on the road ;o)

Regarding the blog, you've probably noticed I've been doing some housekeeping around here. It was getting a bit too messy for my liking, so I decided to change it up a bit. I haven't yet found a background that totally suits me, but I'm working on it. So you might see a few more changes here and there the next week or so.

TTFN!!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Blueberry Pie With Crumb Topping

Today was a bit of a disaster. So many things went wrong, but at least the pie was good, right? One of the pies I made to freeze, somehow got tilted in the freezer and leaked the juice everywhere, so I cooked it for us for dessert. It was quite tasty! Due to this little problem though, I am now short blueberries, so the kids and I are going to go to the blueberry farm tomorrow and pick a couple more baskets worth to make up for the lost berries. I think we ate a few too many, oops!


Blueberry Pie

Pie Ingredients:

3-4 cups of Blueberries (4 if you want a nice, thick pie)
7 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 9 inch pie crust
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
nutmeg to taste (go sparingly with nutmeg)

Crumb Topping Ingredients:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup softened butter

Pre-heat your oven to 375*F
Combine the dry pie ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Mix in the liquids and stir it up.

Pour the blueberries into the crust. Just pour them in! There's lots of air space and it will cook down, so don't worry if they mound up about an inch above the plate.

Pour the liquid mix all over the blueberries, giving it a good coating.

Now it's time to make your coating. In a bowl, mix the flour, butter and sugar. The recipe doesn't call for cinnamon, but I add about 1 tbsp worth because we like cinnamon. Take two butter knives and cut the butter into the flour and sugar until the butter is in small chunks and everything is mixed well. If you've never made a crumb topping before, it is very easy. Just hold one knife in each hand and cut the ingredients. They will mix by themselves as you "cut" them.

Place the pie onto a cookie sheet, and bake for 375 for about 45 minutes.

Enjoy!!!



Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Berries, Berries, and More Berries

Wasn't it Tigger that said "Berries, berries and more berries"? I seem to recall that line from a favorite Winnie The Pooh movie, Seasons of Giving, that my kids watch often.

Today we went Blueberry picking. When we pick, boy do we pick. The kids and I came home with almost 20lbs of Blueberries!!! I have 4 large pails full and the kids are inhaling them. How can a mom say no to them eating an abundance of Super food?

This afternoon I tackled bucket #1. With it, I froze 9 cups of blueberries, and made 3 Blueberry Buckles. They are cooking right now and the kitchen smells to die for! I did pick too many, so I have offered some to a friend who is gifting me with a 3 foot long monster Zucchini. Don't ask me what I'm doing with that yet, I have to mentally prepare for it.


Blueberry Buckle

Cake batter:
  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups flour all-purpose
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Step 1 - Wash the blueberries

Just rinse them in a colander or sieve in cold water, no soap.

Now is also a good time to get the oven preheating to 375 F.

Step 2 - Mix the dry ingredients

Combine the 3/4 cup sugar, 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional) and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl and mix well!

Step 3 - Add the butter and the egg

Add the 1/4 cup soft butter, the egg and using a mixer (hand, electric, or just a large spoon, whatever you have) , mix it up!

Step 4 - Mix in the milk

Add the 1/2 cups milk and mix it up.

Step 5 - Add the flour

While mixing, stir in the 2 cups of flour! (it's just like making pancakes). It will end up like very thick pancake batter. You may have to finish mixing by hand . I added a splash of extra milk here, the batter was much too thick.

Step 6 - Add the blueberries and mix

Add the blueberries and gently mix it. You don't want to crush the berries, but it won't matter if some get crushed, either!

Step 7 - Grease and flour the pan(s)

This is pretty self explanatory

Step 8 - Pour the batter into the pan(s)

Just pour the batter into the the pans. It should only fill the pan about half way up! It WILL rise, don't worry!

Step 9 - Make the topping

Now to make the topping, in another bowl, mix together the topping ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup soft or melted butter or margarine

Step 10 - Sprinkle the crumb topping over the batter

Pretty self-explanatory, don't you think?

Step 11 - Put the coffee cake in the oven!

Cook the coffee cake at 375 F (or 190 Celsius) for 45 minutes.

Step 12 - Remove when the coffee cake is golden brown

After about 35 minutes, check to see if the top is golden brown. If if not, check every 3 or 4 minutes until it is

Enjoy!



How I Keep Myself Organized



This is a re-post from last week, but I wanted to share it for Works For Me Wednesday

Yes, I have a chore list. It helps me a lot when I follow it, and then I can easily keep up with the household cleaning. My husband made a chore chart for the kids, and I thought I would like one for myself, so I had him make one up for me. You can enlarge the photo to get a better idea of what it looks like. I tend to be very disorganized with my household duties, so I really like using this. I just check off each task as it is done for the day, and then I pick a couple weekly chores to do each day. How do you stay organized if you are a Stay at home mom? Any other good tips?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

So...The Big Reveal...It's Time!!!

We sprung the news on my family a couple weeks ago already, and I've been hesitating to post about it. Mostly because I feel it is kind of anti-climactic now because I didn't get the reaction I expected from my mom. She was actually happy for us and excited about the news!

Reveal #1

We're moving from WA state to Pennsylvania next year. Completely uprooting ourselves and moving across the country.

Reveal #2

My husband, whom I am incredibly proud of, enrolled in University last December. He has been a full time student since January of this year. I am very very proud to say that he has had a PERFECT 4.0 GPA the entire time, and has also made the Dean's List every semester!!! Way to go honey, I am incredibly proud of you!!!


The story:

It all started last winter, December some time, when my husband decided he was tired of his job. He's a long haul trucker for those of you who don't know, and has been doing it since April of 2002. This lifestyle is getting tiring. We're both tired of being apart, missing each other, and him missing important events here. And especially him missing the kids grow up. But nothing happens unless you make it happen.

So he enrolled in DeVry University, and is working towards his degree in Business Administration with Concentration in Accounting. It is an accelerated program, and he will graduate August or September 2011. After that he will pursue his Masters in Accounting and will earn his CPA. While he is doing the Masters, he plans to either Teach high school math, or work as an accountant. Whatever comes along first I suppose.

We decided that enough was enough, and it was time to do something about our future. Yes, he makes good money trucking, but we want him home! I need him home. I'm tired of going to bed each night by myself and doing the single parent thing. The kids need their daddy to be there for them all the time, and not just 1 week out of every 6 or 7. So that's why he enrolled.

Once he realized he wanted to do the teaching, we decided that it would better for us to move elsewhere. Meaning somewhere cheaper than Washington state. Which brings us to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is in need of Teachers. A LOT of their teachers are getting older and will be retiring soon, so the need is going up. And since all of his family is in Pennsylvania or Indiana, we figured we'd move there to be closer to his family. My Father In Law has only met the kids once, and he misses them. My sister in law has never met them, nor has anyone else. Pennsylvania is a much much cheaper state to live in compared to Washington. Houses are also much cheaper. One that we were looking at cost only $125K for 2800sq feet, 4 bedrooms/3 bath with a huge yard! Our home that we sold last year was $240K, 2000sq ft, 4 bedrooms/2 bath with 1.4 acres.
We plan to buy in a few years once my husband is finished school and has a well established job again.

It is best for our family to move, we simply can not afford WA state anymore after he graduates. I am looking forward to it, there are many pros to moving, plus...we'll only be a few hours away from NYC by train!!! My mom and sister are especially excited about that. Plus, my brother is only an 8 hour drive away from where he lives in Ontario, so he has promised to come visit us as well. And we'll be living in the same area as my Father in law and Mother in law, my Sister in law and her husband, and quite a few aunts and uncles are close by as well and also in nearby Indiana.

This post is long, long, long, so I will write more about this big change in the next day or two.

We're Going Blueberry Picking



On Wednesday I am taking the kids blueberry picking. I haven't been in years, and I thought it would be a nice activity for all of us to do together. Plus, I am itching to make something other than Strawberry jam this summer.

I have limited freezer space, so unfortunately, I can't make an abundance of pies. I can do some canning, and I can freeze some of it. I don't plan to pick a ton because we simply don't have the room, but I still want your ideas.

So tell me, what do you make with your blueberries?