Saturday, December 15, 2012

With a heavy heart...

Yesterday there was another shooting. Specifically, another school shooting.

It was a in town in Connecticut. I quit reading the stories, as they were all confused and convoluted, but the gist of the matter is that a 20 year old man killed over 25 people. 20 of which were kindergartners.

20 kids that are Spencer's age. 20 innocent lives that were likely very excited about Santa coming, getting the "big" present, maybe thinking about being a doctor, an astronaut, a solider, a police officer or a ninja.  

20 sets of parents who never dreamed that when sending their kids to school on that terrible Friday morning that the rest of their lives would be changed for the worse. 

I cried at my desk all day as the news stories rolled in. A friend of a friend lost their nephew in the shooting. He was 6. 

We had our Christmas party at work last night and our CEO made a small, tasteful statement regarding the shooting, saying our thoughts and prayers were with the families and communities that were impacted. I know that there were very many eyes that watered up just at the simple statement.

The news has sensationalized this...Yahoo Shine! posted this morning on their facebook page asking if the surviving students should be allowed to be interviewed on TV. So many of the comments I read were a very simple NO!. Other's were appalled that they would even ask a question regarding this. Apparently some news outlets have been there since right after it happened, they have pictures of students being lead out by teachers. They are saying that the shooter was mentally ill (ya think?!) and I've seen Autism, OCD, Multiple Personality Disorder all tossed out there as possible reasons as to why he did this. People are crying out for more gun control, that we should restrict the ability for people to own guns. 

So many of these items are too close to home. We have a kindergarten aged child. We have several guns. We have family members with Autism, Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

Now is not the time to be discussing if we should have more gun control, however. Now is not the time to blame the school for not having better security. 

Now is the time to grab your babies. Give them hugs. Give them loves. If they are old enough to understand, explain to them, gently. Send your thought and prayers to the community that has been effected in this terrible, terrible situation. Now is the time to let the area grieve. And thank your lucky stars that you and yours are safe.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bucket List Update

I figured since today is a special day...(ahem..J's 30th Birthday) I would take a quick moment to update MY 30 things to do before I'm 30 list and show any progress.

4. Go to Ikea.
I completed this on July 21, in Denver. Kim and I decided last minute to stop and shop. I didn't get much, but she got a super cool bookshelf that she is going to use for a bench. I can't wait to go back when I don't have to try to fit everything in my carry on!

8. Travel More
I got a start on this one when I went to Colorado. We went up Pike's Peak. I went to a concert at Mile High Stadium. I visited an Air Force Base. I ate local food. Sounds like a good start on the travel front! What's next?

15. Go back to school.
I'm working on this one. I don't have an exact plan yet, but I've been researching schools and trying to figure out where to go from here.

16. Random Acts of Kindness.
I try to do one of these every week. I'm sure there are times where I don't get any in, and other times I do multiple. I'm not trying specifically to document each one, because to me, it feels like it kind of defeats the purpose.

19. Read 50 Books
I've gotten in a few more, bringing my total to 6. Most of them are just quicky reads, but I  also joined a book club at work and am in the process of reading a few that are in series'. I think this one will be easier than I originally thought.

21. Rewatch SATC
I just finished Season 1!

22. Catch up on filing at work
I have started a process on this. I've been scanning my new ones as they finish right away so they don't add up. As for the old ones, I have been spending time each week, sometimes on multiple days, getting it scanned and sorted. Changing processes is hard, but I'll get there! Hopefully sooner rather than later.

24. Eat at 50 of the top 100 in Des Moines (10 out of 50)
I'm including one's I've already been to, as there are several I'd very likely NOT go to:

19-The Big Steer
I've only been here a time or two, food is good, but a little pricey. Not somewhere we would go on a regular basis.
22- Hickory Park
YUM. One of my favorite places to go. Food is so good and reasonably priced.
26-Smokey D's BBQ
Also yummy. I've only been to the Skywalk location, but the burnt end sandwich is my favorite..and their potato casserole! TO. Die.
35- Court Ave Restaurant and Brewing Co
It's been quite a while since I've been there, but the food was good.
44-Gateway Market Cafe
I really like this place. It's a quick drive from work (could maybe even do it on your lunch break if you got it to go). Food is fresh and delish.
50-Palmer's Deli
I eat here on a regular basis. I love their sandwiches or often get a luncheon salad. And the soup is great. and the Snickers Salad? YUM.
53- Thai Flavors
Pretty yummy! I'm always scared to try new things, but I do love their fried rice!
70- Okoboji Grill
Been a while since I've been here, but usually love their appetizers or get a sandwich.
97- Mullets
I've only eaten here once. For breakfast after a 5 k. But the food was good and the mimosa was YUMMY.
We just ate there last week! They have a great selection. Hamburgers, Wood Fired Pizzas, Pasta, Fish, Steak...and serve these yummy homemade chips. Decent priced and not usually overly busy. Not sure why we don't go there more often, actually.

27. Doing Hair and Make up
If you know me, you know I'm veeery low maintenance.  I shower. I brush my teeth. I brush my hair. I put my hair in a pony tail/messy bun, get dressed and go about my day. Very rarely do I do more than that. I've started doing my hair at least a little bit. Pinterest helps. I've youtubed videos on how to do my hair and tried it. I wear make up from time to time. I'm getting ready to cut my hair off so I don't constantly put it back/up either.

All of this seems like a decent start on my bucket list, hopefully I'll keep at it!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We have a 5 year old!!

Ok, so we've had one for a couple weeks, but life's been hectic. Spenny woke up to Balloons at his door and then above his spot at the table. We got around for the day and headed out to the Zoo. Some of the pictures below are from my phone and several are from his new present--his CAMERA! He also got Hulk Hands from us and seemed to have a great day. We love our little 5 year old and couldn't be more proud!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Boring Day

It's been a fun week at the Duggan house. First off, I had my birthday. The boys got me a BluRay player and  the Lord of the Rings movie. We had hamburgers, hot dogs and enjoyed some pie from Village Inn while watching the movie. (78//////////////////////////////////////////////////gtfvnhvcszvxd3z$a --Apparently, Viktard likes to blog too).

Wednesday night I made a new recipe, from here. I first mixed up the "cream of" stuff in a container. I think I figured out the recipe will make something like 9 "cans" of soup and I had almost everything on hand that I needed.
My Adapted version:

1 cup non-fat dried milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup Chicken Boullion
4 Tablespoons freeze dried minced onions
1 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon pepper
(For the equivalent of one can of condensed cream soup, mix 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 1/4 cup water. Cook until thick)

For the casserole, I ended up using:
1 cooked chicken breast (I cut it in chunks instead of shredding),
a few slices of bacon (I cut it up using my kitchen shears prior to frying, so much easier that way and they seem to cook more evenly).
Equivalent to one can of soup (about 1/3 cup mixed with 1 1/4 cup water, cooked until thick).
2 cups of macaroni, cooked
Cheese (I used a handful of mozarella mixed in with the noodles etc, then sprinkled some cheese on top while it was baking).

I baked it in the oven just until the cheese was melted since everything was hot when I put it together, and it was so yummy. The left overs were good too, I had some for lunch the next day. My vegan friend said it looked/smelled good, and he recommended putting some buttered breadcrumbs on top next time (Hey, he wasn't always vegan!)

Our friends, Aaron and Julia had their baby on Tuesday as well, after something like 30 hours of labor, Theo Maximus Bazal is here.

Theo Maximus Bazal 8 lbs 14 oz and 22 inches long. Beautiful baby boy!
We got to visit with them on Thursday night for a couple hours, eat dinner and snuggle with the little guy. He is beautiful and I can't wait to see him grow up! He even let me take a couple pictures of him with his eyes open! Julia and Aaron are taking on their new roles as parents like champs.

The rest of the week was pretty low key, Friday night we just hung around the house, Saturday J and Spenny went and had lunch and got a haircut for J while E and I hung out at home, at lunch and took naps. When Daddy and Spenny got home, I went and ran some errands before we went to see Papa Dave's church band play at Ankeny's Summer Fest. We got to hang out with our friends Baby Liam and Stacey, Nana and Papa, as well as Carrie, Tim and Nolan. Good weather for it, it was hot, but there was a breeze and we all came prepared with snacks and juice boxes to keep everyone entertained. Today we just hung out at home, I organized the laundry area some, cleaned a bit and made some dry laundry detergent. I read a short book I got on my Kindle that talks about ways to declutter and organize, and one of the goals is get rid of 10 items a day from your life. Sounds like a lot, but really, when you start the process, 10 items goes pretty quickly. IE: I went through my "Mail" pile, which is really just a bunch of coupons, mailers and a couple odd bills that I need to sort and never want to. I did that first thing this morning though and ended up getting rid of about 15 items, just like that. When I cleaned up the laundry closet I was able to get rid of even more items, so it sounds like a big, daunting task, it's really not. And also, the 10 items isn't necessarily to throw away, but can also be to donate, recycle, sell, etc.

This week should be another busy one, we are in the process of figuring out what Spenny wants for his birthday, and what he wants to DO for his birthday. I'm thinking either Incredible Pizza or the Zoo, we'll see what the weather is like before we decide likely. Then, Saturday morning bright dark and early, I am flying off to Colorado to spend a long weekend with my cousin Kim, so excited! We're going to see Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw in concern and I have no idea what else will be in store for us!

Monday, July 9, 2012

last day of 27

It seems weird that I'm turning 28 this year. It doesn't seem like it's that big of a deal, but it's really only TWO years from 30. Not that excited about 30, but looking forward to see what 28 brings me. And really excited to go to Colorado in a couple weeks, hopefully losing some more weight over the next year and trying new things. 

Last year on my birthday, I lost my Grandpa Fran. He was a huge part of me growing up and he lived a wonderful, long life. Even when he was dying of cancer, he was the most positive person I knew. I remember one time we were talking and I said I was sorry he had cancer. His response? "Why? If it's not me, it would just be someone else; might as well make the best of it!" Before going into surgery, he was all grins, during his treatments, he would call me from the center where he was staying to tell me about how great the nurses were, the people he was meeting and how he felt so lucky to have the experience. (Really? LUCKY to have cancer Grandpa?!) I remember at his funeral we were talking to all of the people that knew him from all different aspects, neighbors, co-workers from the YMCA, church friends, horse people, everyone had a happy story to share, and I honestly don't think there was a person that knew him that didn't like him. I would like to think that Grandpa Fran and Grandma Sharon are up there singing their songs, and maybe he'll visit Grandpa Emory at an auction.  I also hope they are growing a garden, for fresh green beans so his whiskers keep growing and he is riding one of his horses. Grandpa, you were a wonderful man and I miss you so much. I wish I would have taken more advantage of spending time with you when I had the chance, but thank you for helping me be who I am today. I know I got my (mostly) positive outlook from you, and I appreciate it. 

Happy birthday to me, hopefully this year I'll have someone to share it with :) More news on that tomorrow, I hope!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bucket List

I'm turning 30 in 2 years and 6 days. A while back I decided I was going to do a bucket list of 30 things to do before I'm 30 and started writing the list. Some of these I'm working on (I only have a few sodas a week now, since I've been drinking tea, I have my plane tickets already for my trip to Colorado, I've been doing the RAoK on a regular basis, I'm almost done with Season 1 of SATC...) and some will be harder to cross off, but I'm hoping that I get get at least the vast majority crossed off :)

 1. Go vegetarian for 6 weeks. (Can't go vegan...I'd miss my cheese!)
 2. Quit Soda
 3. Lose 15-20 pounds
 4. Go to Ikea
 5. Run a 10K
 6. Sing Karaoke
 7. Learn to Sew (With my new silhouette, that should be fun!)
 8. Travel more.
 9. Get my passport
10. Meet my newest niece.
11. Start College Savings funds for the boys
12. Get another Tattoo
13. and another.
14. Pay off all of our non-mortgage related debt/student loans
15. Go back to school
16. Do a Random Act of Kindness a week
17. Make photo books for the boys, one for each year
18. Get Married <3
19. Read 50 books (3 down!)
20. Hang pictures on our walls. (Don't laugh, we've lived here 18 months and have like 5 things hanging on our walls. In the whole house. And one of them is a clock.)
21. Re-Watch all of the Sex and the City episodes
22. Get my filing at work caught up (I haven't been caught up since before I went on maternity leave with Emerson....don't judge.)
23. Finish various projects that I have started up but not finished for various reasons, most of which aren't good ones
24. Hit at least 50 of the Top 100 in Des Moines Restaurants
25. Have drinks on a patio with my friends
26. Do more things as a family
27. Start doing my hair and makeup
28. Start wearing sunscreen on my face every day
29. Take a class for fun (Yoga, sewing, etc)
30. Be overall happy :)

Happy 4th of July!

The Fourth of July is probably my favorite holiday. I say probably, because it's hard to decide which excuse to dress up, decorate, etc is truly my favorite, but I've always loved it because it is A) in the summer B) My hometown made a big deal out of it C) It means my birthday is less than a week away D) Fireworks...ok, I could probably go on and on but I'll stop. :)

Today we headed over to Newton, J's hometown, to watch their parade. It's a long parade, but it's usually a lot of fun even if it is hotter than Hades. They start it off at 9:30 and I think today we left at 11ish, just as it was finishing. We hang out with J's mom's side of the family and just have fun. The kids love the candy and the little flags that Grandma brings for them to wave. It starts off with a tribute to the veterans. Every year it makes me a little misty eyed. I personally know a lot of veterans and I just don't think they always get the recognition they deserve. When they march through the town though, every stands and claps. The pride on the veterans' faces gets me. It's hot, the parade is long and they just keep marching. They even have floats for the ones that can't/don't want to walk. Some have what war they were a part of on the floats, others just march together, but, goosebumps and tears every time. This year I could blame it on my contacts ;) Anyway, the boys got some candy and they each ended up with a die cast car from the speedway and overall, had a great time. 

The rest of the day has been kinda lazy, the heat wore us out. While the boys were napping I spent a little time sunbathing (like 15 was too hot!) and then took a nap. After that, I took a shower and decided to make a DIY workout shirt that I found on pinterest from here. Turned out pretty cute, not too bad for a first timer! 

I think we're going to find something to fix for dinner and then maybe early to bed for all of us. Feels weird to be off in the middle of the week, but back to the grind tomorrow.

Hope everyone else has had a happy and safe 4th!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Oh, for the love of...vinegar?

Lately I have been OBSESSED with using vinegar for so many things.

First, it started with cleaning the dishwasher. It seemed to help make it run better, dry faster and even degrease it some. (You know, the filter in the bottom gets "gunky" it helps clean it).

Then I read it works great in the laundry. First thing I did was use it to clean my washer. Our fabric softener thing in the middle was kinda gunky as well. I poured some in the softener hole and ran an empty load. It was still kinda gross, so I figured out how to tear it apart,  scrub it and put it back together. Now every load I wash, I pour a bunch in the fabric softener holder. I don't actually measure, I just pour until its full, and sometimes, I even pour until it's overflowing. Doesn't hurt anything, in fact, it's pretty good for the laundry! I know some people wonder, does it stink afterwards? Because face it, vinegar doesn't smell the best. Well, when you first open the washer, there's a very good chance you will smell it. HOWEVER, by the time the laundry is dry, either in the dryer OR hung to dry, there is no trace of vinegar smell. I will say the first couple times I used it on my towels, they seemed more scratchy than normal. I did some research (ok fine, I just googled it) and apparently that is very very normal. It's because it's breaking down the softener residue that's been left over from the other softeners and dryer sheets. A couple runs thru and they stopped, or you can keep using the dryer sheets with it. (I use them for the static stuff more than anything).

I recently have determined what a wonderful stain remover it is! Of course you would believe me better if I had before and after pictures, but I don't have any so you'll have to wait until next time I get a good stain. HOWEVER. For father's day, J got a light gray shirt with Darth Vader on it. Then for dinner we had ribs. and Emerson had red jello cake. Emerson's Jello cake ended up all over J's gray shirt. I thought for sure it was ruined after one wear, and I think that J believed it as well. But I made him take it off as soon as we got in the house. I took it upstairs to the laundry area (Seriously, I hope to never have to have my laundry anywhere but on the same floor as the bedrooms again...sorry, side tracked...) and poured a tiny bit of laundry detergent on it and scrubbed. All that it was doing was making a bigger mess so I kinda panicked.  I then put a towel under the shirt and poured some vinegar on as a last ditch effort and tossed it in the washer with some towels. Because honestly, if that Jello is gonna end up all over everything, it better be my towels and not my clothes!!!  But...low and behold, I pulled it out of the washer and it's GONE! I even hung it up to dry because I was worried it would magically reappear, but it did not. I also got some mystery grease stain on my favorite t shirt (it's my 5k shirt the Court to Court...It's American Apparel, so super soft). It had most likely been washed and dried on there so I was bummed, but thought, well, you never know, it might get rid of it. I put a little laundry detergent on again, just in case, then poured vinegar over then washed it. Also hung to dry and sure enough, no more mystery stains! I'm sure we'll have plenty of opportunities to try it out with two little boys, so I'll see if I can find some pictures for us.

It also works great as an air fresher, and I include it in all of my homemade cleaners, like the Shower Magic, Homemade 409 and the magical shower head cleaner. You can also use it to clean your garbage disposal (freeze it in ice cubes then chop them up) and all kinds of other things. Recently, I even used it on the kitchen floor, by the door was pretty dingy, so thought I'd try it. Sprayed it on straight from the bottle and let it sit and it is VISIBLY cleaner with only a small amount of scrubbing. Overall, it's my new miracle product. The best part is, it's super cheap, and no harsh chemicals, so I feel safe using it around the pets and children.

What do you use vinegar for?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Busy Busy!

Summer is in full swing here at the Duggan household. Boys have been enjoying their time with Daddy. So far they've been to a few parks, visited Papa Leo, Grandma Jean, Nana and Papa, gone bowling, fishing, learning some school stuff, played with lots of toys, frisbee...the list goes on and on.

Last weekend Grandma Rory (Lori) and Aunt Sissy came to visit. We went to the farmer's market, the sculpture park and just spent time together. We also made supercool "acid" washed shirts using my Silhouette and some bleach. I found a couple links from Pinterest and they were super easy.

 I think overall we had a great time. I know the boys enjoyed spending time with them. They were pretty bummed out when they woke up from their nap on Sunday and they were gone. Daddy was at a card tournament and got 2nd place and had a lot of fun hanging out with his Iowa City friends he doesn't get to see very often.

Last week pretty much flew by and we spent the weekend being pretty low key. Farmer's Market on Saturday, followed by lunch. The boys then took a nap and I ran and got groceries and some last minute purchases for the father's day gifts for Daddy. We spent the evening playing, watching tv and then after the boys went to bed I went for a run and then played with my Silhouette some more. Really digging it!

I read a lot of reviews about what interfacing to get and decided to go with HeatNBond. My first cuts turned out great!! Unfortunately, I haven't put the pictures on my computer yet, but they are on my facebook if you are interested. I can't wait to actually work on a project I'm making for Kim.

I need to get off of here and get some stuff done around the house and get some actual work-work done, but hope everything is well for the rest of you :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Evening

Busy weekend here in Dugganville.

Quick Recap:
Friday night I picked up the boys from their last day at daycare. They've been going there this time since January, however before J took last summer off, they had been there for years. Emerson since he was 6 weeks old and Spenny since he was about 8 months old. It was bittersweet, as the boys love their friends and it's always hard to say goodbye, but overall, it's the right decision for our family right now.  Afterwards we ran some errands, got some groceries and did a swing through Dollar Tree to see if they had anything worth crafting (I didn't see much, but of course left with two bags of stuff...funny how that works!)

Saturday we got up and around early enough to head to the farmer's market downtown. We love it...lots of people watching, food and just time out of the house and around a different atmosphere, music, food, know, typical farmer's market stuff. Unfortunately, we didn't actually make it. The Dam to Dam was winding down when we got there and we literally spent 30 minutes just trying to turn around to come back home. I had checked the roads the day before and everything to my ramp was supposed to be open, wasn't. Oh well. We ended up at the baseball fields and the park instead, followed by a trip to Dahl's and home for an early lunch. After the boys napped, we got around to go to Nana's surprise birthday party. She will be 50 next week, and Carrie did a wonderful job at the party. The kids had a great time playing with their cousins and we got to visit with some people we don't see often. 

Today we went to my dad's for an impromptu birthday party for my younger brother. We were going to try to get with my dad last weekend, but we all ended up with different plans and it didn't work out so we rescheduled for today. My brother had also made plans with Dad and needed to resched, so it worked out best for all of us to be there at the same time. My brother brought along his girlfriend Ashley and our Grandpa Larry, who we don't see very often at all. The boys had a great time running around in the yard, playing Frisbee and kickball and just being crazy maniacs. Emerson learned he doesn't like flies and tries to scare them off with a Super Sonic Screech (It doesn't work, but it seems to make him feel better.) Spenny enjoyed spending time with Uncle Cody, climbing on him, playing with him and just overall having a great time. We got home a couple hours ago and have just been relaxing.

I started working on a new craft project and left it outside to dry while we were gone, however when we got home, it was gone. If anyone sees a Gum Drop colored cookie sheet around, lemme know as it probably came from here! I don't know if it blew away or if a neighbor kid now has a lavender shield, but the Diet Coke box I used as my drop cloth was still where I left it, so who knows. 

I'm going to fix a light dinner for the kids and then bath time. Tonight is the AGOT season finale, so hopefully the boys will be ready for a decent bed time so we can enjoy it without having to pause a million times to break up fights and lay them back down. 

Have a good week!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

A couple weeks ago I was shopping at Walmart. An older gentleman was in line a head of me and kept looking at the gum, trying to decide if he wanted any, and eventually gave up, paid and started to leave when he saw what he was looking for on the rack in the aisle next to us. By this time, I was in the middle of my cart full of groceries and there was at least one other person behind me in line. He patiently got to the end of the line, with his son waiting with the cart full of the already purchased groceries (I wold like to point out that I was smiling while I saw what he had chosen earlier, the usual...veggies, fruits, vitamins, meat, some juice, a box of Good and Plenty's and some Skittles.) I waved him up to where I was and told him I would get his gum for him. He thanked me and then tried to pay me. I told him a couple times that no, I just wanted to get the gum for him and he was like, but I haven't paid for it yet. Finally I said, "Sir, I'm just trying to do something nice, can I please pay for your gum?" He took a step back, blinked a few times and gave me a stiff old man hug.

His son also offered to pay me, and shooed him away as well. He asked me why, and I said, honestly, I wanted to do something nice, he reminds me of my grandpa and I understand the importance of gum (I actually had 4 different packages of it on the belt at the time). He thanked me and while they were walking away, I heard the old man tell his son, Can you believe that? She didn't want ANYTHING for it!

It kind of made me sad that people find it so shocking that someone wants to do something nice for someone else. Here, I paid $1 to save a man waiting in line for 10 minutes and to let him have a treat. I have also paid for coffee for the person behind me a few times (in the drive through at Starbucks, in line at Friedrich's). Tonight I helped a couple of women that were lost in the skywalk find their way to their hotel. They said they were going to be in town for a conference for a few days so I also showed them a few places to eat and to get coffee/drinks along the way as well.

A friend of mine had a birthday earlier this year and what she asked for from her friends and family was to do a Random Act of Kindness. I believe she found the information somewhere in reference to The Birthday Project online. She had everyone put on her FB event's page as to what the RAOK was. I don't know how many she got, but mine that day was to jump start someone's car in the parking garage at work that day.

I think that we should all try to do at least one RAOK a week. It doesn't have to cost anything...It may just be holding the door for someone, offering to take a cart back, smiling at someone you meet on the sidewalk, or in my case, the skywalk. Buying a glass of lemonade from the girl on the corner (Side note: Our neighbor girl put up a stand this past weekend. At some point, she had made enough money that she had to go to the store, get more lemonade and was even able to upgrade from a pitcher to a Thermos with a spout at the bottom AND top. She's so stinkin' cute and it's only a quarter. Her chalkboard sign in front says "Zoe's Pink Lemonade Stand 25 cents per cup! :)" How can you walk away from that!). Sometimes I think we are so caught up in ourselves, our phones, our lives, that we don't take a moment to just live.

IN other non-related news, Spenny declared to me last week that he has a girlfriend. Her name is Tessa, she is beautiful and she has fast shoes. He really loves the frisbee and tonight told me that cousins are the very best friends ever and that you should love your cousins and tell them. He's super sweet, has a great smile and is honestly a really good kid. He always puts others first, especially his little brother and best friend. He likes Frisbee's right now and is getting more perceptive all the time.

Emerson is adorable. Mouthy. getting a deep voice already. He loves his fish (We're on Doug #3 and I gave up on Rock for now...he's on vacation if anyone asks). He loves morning cuddles, bed time hugs and to eat all of my salad. He loves playing with my camera on my phone and sending pictures to instagram. He told me the other day he is Duffenswirtz (or whatever hsi name is...the bad guy from Phineas and Ferb).

With that being said, I'm going to bed. Good night all :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Post from Last Sunday

Apparently I forgot to hit "publish" so here's last week's post.

It's been a while, so I'll try to update.

First off, I had a wonderful Mother's day. J told the boys that it was Mommy's Day, which means that Mommy got to do whatever she wanted. We picked up some plants I've been looking for, had some lunch, relaxed and just spent time together as a family. I also did some crafting. I got some stainless steel measuring cups that I have been eyeing and then J got me the motherload (no pun intended) of crafter's delight.

He got me my very own Silhouette Cameo. (Insert "Oooohs" and "Ahhhs" here.) Ok, I know most of you probably don't even know what that is, but it is similar to a Cricut cutting machine, but does a little bit more (it not only cuts paper/cardstock, but fabric, heat transfer paper, vinyl and apparently rhinestone paper...which I wasn't even aware existed until earlier this week). It also has an advantage over the Cricut in that I don't have to buy cartridges for things to cut. I can either design something on my own, download files online or purchase things in the Silhouette store.

So far, I've only cut one page. I put several things on the same page just to see how it worked and LOVE it. The lines are crisp, the curves are smooth and it was great! I've been playing with the design program quite a bit and just really love it.

J's been out of town this weekend, he's on his way home currently from the Twin Cities. He participated in a card tournament and won first place. Gratz, dood!  The boys and I had a great weekend together, we hung out at home yesterday morning, they watched TV and played while I did the dishes, some laundry and worked on the basement. We then headed to Kohl's where we got some super cool lawn chairs for the boys at a great price ($10 each instead of $20 each) and some new sandals for mommy (I even threw away two pairs in exchange for this one!). We then took our pop cans back and grabbed some groceries. While Spenny was laying in bed with me yesterday morning, he again asked me for a pet. [This has been an ongoing thing lately, he wants a pet. "Mom, can I have a pet for me?" What kind of pet? "You know, like a dog." We have a dog, her name is Lola. "Mooo-oom, I want a REAL dog, you know, a BIG one!"  Sorry, Lollers, apparently you're not big enough for an almost 5 year old looking for a pet.] I suggested a fish. He was SO excited and asked if he could name him Rock. Sure thing, buddy.

We picked up a tank, some supplies and a couple fish (Popcans paid for most of it even!) and they are now swimming happily in their new home on our kitchen counter. Emerson also got a fish. His name is Doug. Pictures to follow later.

We spent the evening in Huxley, we had a picnic and spent over an hour playing at the park with our friends Julia and Murddoch. Fun times were had by all.

Today I got up, made muffins, did more dishes (I miss our dishwasher!) and did some more cleaning (I'm going through things, getting rid of clutter) and more laundry. The boys picked up the living room as part of their chores and Spenny volunteered to vacuum. He did a decent job for his first time, and I think he was proud knowing that he did something new and that he was helping. I'm sure he'll be hitting me up for money for his piggy bank soon enough.

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Storm Season

I love your typical Iowa thunderstorm just as much as the next person. I love how it cools everything down, the thunder and lightning is relaxing, everything smells so fresh. It's great for sleeping, and gives everything a clean slate. However, when the storm turns into more than just your average storm, I start to get nervous and usually want to bunker down in the basement.

Last night my hometown was hit by a tornado. Thankfully, everyone is safe. Some people lost their homes, some farm buildings and although they haven't really said on the news, I'm sure there was some livestock/poultry that was lost.

My mom and youngest sister still live there, but they were safe and had no damage. They went to the basement, which is a scary little place, so I know it had to have been bad. We weren't able to get in touch with them right away, something about no power and dead cell phones, but my grandma, uncle and cousin drove over to make sure they were ok, and let them call me.

I've been looking at pictures on the different news sites like hereherehere and here (and of course, facebook) and it warms my heart to see the community come together to clean up. The school gave the high school kids the day off for volunteer work. People were helping load turkeys after a shed was destroyed, they made lunches for the volunteers, offered prayer, gave donations and overall, I'm just impressed. 

I can't imagine having my home/farm/livelihood being literally ripped from me, and my thoughts are with those that suffered the damages. 

Let this be a reminder to us all to get our emergency kits ready (Flashlights, batteries, water, first aid kits, etc) because you just never know when you may need it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Unintentional Break


I took an accidental break from blogging. My computers that I use on a regular basis stopped working for different reasons, but I have my laptop up and running for now. I couldn't get blogger to load on my work computer and I rarely use J's computer(s).

Things we've been up to:
Tax season is OVER. Thank Goodness.
Easter came and went.
I've been watching the Star Wars movies. (New ones were ok, I really love the effects in the older ones, mostly because I respect the fact they did all of that WITHOUT computers!
We...(gasp) BOUGHT A TV! It's a smart one. Still no cable for us, but it's nice to have 40 inches to watch instead of 20.
I walked a 5k. Ok, I ran like...a block. the rest was walked.
Working on not eating fast food anymore. I used to eat McD's breakfast I have had it maybe three times in the last 6 months. We used to eat BK or McD's at least once a week, usually more. I'm not going to lie, we still eat there every couple of weeks, but I try to keep things at home that will feed the kids faster and that are at least somewhat healthier. I also bribe the kids while we are at the store...Boys, we can either have McD's or you can pick out a new movie to watch and we can have a picnic. They usually go for the new movie and picnic. Honestly, if I'm going to spend anywhere from 5-15, I'd rather it be on something we keep.
We decided to hold Spenny back a year from kindergarten. It's not something we've done lightly and I'm sure he'd be ok at kindergarten, but I'd rather him be fully ready than us just sending him because WE'RE ready.
Decluttering. I'm not a hoarder by any means, but I am certainly a pack rat and we've been working on that. We just recently got rid of over 8 trash bags of clothes between donating to Goodwill, taking to a friend for a new baby and giving some stuff to a friend for her garage sale. Next is cleaning out the toy boxes/closet and kitchen cupboards. Do I REALLY need all of the things in the kitchen that I have? Probably not. but you never better keep it ;)

J's been doing pretty well, Kids are well, as are the animals. I've been cooking and finding more stuff on Pinterest to do than I have time and I'm currently enjoying my first "vacation" off from work in a long time. I took 5 whole days off, in a row, around a weekend, so I really have 7 days off. Sure, I'm doing some work from home (I'm far too busy to NOT do some to keep up) but overall, it's been great so far. I have 3 more days off next week and the only thing we have planned is signing our wills. It will officially be ok for us to die :).

Hope all is well with all of you and hope to be back to blogging on a more regular basis soon.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Last weekend we had meatloaf, which I love. I wanted some loaded mashed potatoes, but since I'm trying to be healthier, I looked for an alternative side. One thing I saw come up over and over again was Mashed Cauliflower. I don't really mind cauliflower, but not something I usually buy, but thought I might as well try it, worst case scenario, I still had potatoes on hand and could always make them.

I didn't really follow a receipe in particular so much as just read several and decide to go with it.

I used:
1 bag frozen Cauliflower (I think it was a 16 oz bag...just the normal size)
About 2 oz of cream cheese
A big scoop of sour cream (T, I would guess it was about 2 tablespoons, give or take ;))
Shredded cheese

I boiled the cauliflower in water, drained it and then dumped it straight into my food processor. Blended  until mostly smooth. Added in the cream cheese and sour cream and blended until they looked like mashed potatoes. Poured into a pan (I have one that's bigger than an 8x8 but not quite a 9x10. I looked on the bottom, it doesn't say what size it is, but it fit in there nicely, I'm sure an 8x8 would likely work as well and topped with cheese. I snuck a taste first though, to see if it was good and it was yummy!

I then covered in foil put in the fridge so I just had to toss it in later that day. I took it out as I was starting to prepare the meatloaf (I had a pan explode once in the oven...don't wanna clean that up again!) and just baked until heated, taking the foil off about 10 minutes before the meatloaf was done to make sure  the cheese was all melty and sorta browned. They were yummy! E inhaled them and Spenny decided he doesn't like mashed potatoes. Or meatloaf. (Go figure!) J liked them and so did I. They were also good as leftovers.

This week I also made Shepard's Pie. I used a jar of deer meat for the beef, boiled up some mixed veggies (added extra peas, YUM) and tossed it with some brown gravy (I took the easy way out and used the packaged kind, which is super easy to make). I then poured it in a pan and covered with mashed potatoes (I've recently been buying these. I know, it's cheating, but they are SO good and easy when you're using them for stuff like this or to feed the kids).

It was SO good, and no where near as salty as it was when I used the Dinty Moore stuff a few weeks ago when I tried it for the first time.  Thanks, Grandma for the ideas! I'm done blogging for the day, gonna go spend some time with the little boys and maybe go find something fun to do...there's a craft show going on at the State Fair grounds, can't wait to go!

Laundry Detergent

I decided to try to make my own laundry detergent. I have a top loading super capacity machine (I can fit my King Size Comforter and sheets in there with no issue), so I don't know how it would work on an HE machine, but from the reviews I've read, people LOVE it.

I was kinda skeptical, but I figure if almost everyone on the internet is trying it and seeming to like it, it can't be THAT bad! I have been using this for a week now and honestly, I love it! The very first load I washed with the liquid, I needed to rewash, but only because I didn't use enough of it (I didn't even think about it, and used the same as I normally do with my super concentrated stuff). Once I figured out I needed about twice as much as before, things have been great! I haven't taken any before/after pictures, but when I pulled E's shirt out of the washer this morning, I wished I would have! He had it covered in ketchup, applesauce and some chocolate mixed in which had sat over night and was pretty much ground in/dried up. I tossed it in without pre-treating just to see how it would do (Could always re-wash later, right?). It came out GREAT! I also got the "opportunity" to see how it would work on smells--Someone had an accident on the sheets, so I got to wash urine smell. No residual smell at all. I do always use vinegar as a fabric softener now as well, so that may have helped with the smell, but either way, I was happy with the results.

There are tons of recipes out there for it, and most are pretty much the same. The one I followed last weekend was listed here. It was literally the first one on Google that day (and today, apparently, as I forgot to bookmark it). I started the process in the afternoon, and it was done and ready to go by the next afternoon (It needs to sit for quite a while).

I had a hard time finding the Fels Naptha and Washing Soda at first, but they now carry it in my Wal-Mart laundry aisle. I think I've paid probably $20 for everything to get started on this, and this includes:

1-5 gallon bucket w/ Lid ($5 at Menards)
1 Paint Stirrer Attachment for the drill ($7)
1 Cheese Grater for the soap ($2)
1 box of Washing Soda ($3)
1 box of Borax ($3)
1 bar of Fels Naptha ($1)

Grand total:
$ 21--However, most of these items will be used for many batches.

First I grated up the bar of Fels Naptha with the cheese grater. I'd read reviews, and it doesn't matter how fine you grate it, so I just used the regular "shred" style. (Note: When I made the dry soap, which will be listed below, I did wish I grated it up a bit more, but it's not a deal breaker). I pretty much followed the instructions step by step and have been using it for a week now. It made enough to fill my All Container with a the pour spout and a giant vinegar bottle.

I also decided that since I had a ton of leftover ingredients, I would go ahead and make a batch of this recipe, which is dry.

I've only used the powdered for towels and blankets so far, but I really am liking it as well. I've heard it doesn't do as well in Cold water (doesn't dissolve completely) but I've been using hot water with it and no issues so far.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trying New Things

This week I tried a few new things that are worth sharing.
1. BIRTHDAY CAKE OREOS! Seriously, it's like funfetti frosting and Oreos had a baby. They are so delicious, I can't even describe. I bought my first box and took them to work the other day. Several people that tried them said things like "This is seriously the best idea in the world" and "This is AMAZING" and other comments. So amazing. YUM.
2. Those roasted chick peas. They were actually mushier than I thought the first time I made them, so I tried dry roasting them, SO much better. Basically, instead of rolling them in oil and seasonings first, you just bake them at 450 for about 25 minutes or so, then spray them with oil spray and sprinkle your seasonings on top then let finish drying/cooling. SO much better! (and you use less oil and stuff too!)
3. Pizzas from sandwich thins. Spenny has really been into pizza lately, and this was an easy way to get him a pizza quick. Toast the sandwich thin, cover in sauce and cheese and broil for about 5 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly. SO YUMMY!

We just had a nice visit from Grandpa Tom and Grandma Susan and cousin Jimmy. We had spaghetti, garlic bread, salad and some cake, as Grandpa's birthday is the 29th of this month and we won't see him again before that. I'm not sure where my camera is at the moment, but I'll have some pictures to share.

I'm off to try my hand at making my own laundry detergent, so we'll see how this goes :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Chick" it out!

So, I've been thinking about roasting some chickpeas lately. I grabbed some at the store tonight and while I was doing dishes, laundry, preparing meals for the rest of the week/weekend, I decided to look  up a recipe. I saw several savory ones, several sweet ones and several that took ingredients I've never even heard of...(I swear, I must live under a rock sometimes). I came upon this recipe...Honey Cinnamon Roasted ones.

A quick check of the ingredient list and I had everything so on with it!

I followed it almost exactly:


Mix 2tsp oil, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp sugar

Dump and mix.

See? All Mixed!

Spread out on cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes.

I forgot to take a picture of the "Dump back in bowl, cover in honey and stir some more before putting back on cookie sheet" step. But this is the end result.

Now they are on the cookie sheet, cooling...but I may have nibbled a few several before sitting back down to write this. They are SO SO yummy. And will be even better when my tongue heals from the burn I got...(I sometimes do things without, putting a chickpea straight form the oven in my mouth to check "doneness". I don't recommend this, hurts.) The only thing I would change from the original recipe is I would just add peel the them, I like the texture better of the ones that I peeled than the ones I didn't, but it won't stop me from eating them!

Other than that, it's been a pretty busy week around here. Daddy's been working a lot, but he did get home earlier than normal last night, where we were able to enjoy dinner together, watch an episode of The Colony on Netflix and play a game of Phase 10 Mod.

I am going to veg out, it's been a long day...and I can't wait for those little buggers to finish cooling so I can eat them!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


We got six inches of snow on Saturday. E wasn't feeling well, but Spenny and I went out in the afternoon to play. It was his first snow angels, first snowball was so much fun!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's Fab Ab Feb!

I found this on pinterest and can't wait to try it:

I figure it's easy enough (Hello, 3 exercises and that's it?) and i like the build up, it won't seem as daunting as some of the exercises out there. And this I can do in my living room or wherever on my own.

Today I'm home with Emerson, he's got another ear infection and along with it a pretty high fever and a case of the grumpy-sads so he is home and asleep in the chair right now. I have some work to do from home that I'll get done after a while, and then maybe bake some stuff this afternoon.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

busy weekend

This weekend was pretty busy, Daddy worked on Saturday and the boys and I ran some errands, then headed over to Newton so Spenny could spend the night with Grandma Jean and Poppy Steve.

We were super early, so we took a detour and drove through the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge.  We didn't see any animals, but Spenny worked on describing things we saw--yellow grass, brown mud, white clouds, blue sky etc. We are also working on learning right, left and straight. He is doing pretty good at that, but soon enough, he was ready to just go see his Grandma, so we headed over to Newton. I think someday we might actually plan to go there and check out the wildlife center itself and see what else we can see.  (side note: We were all at the table and Spenny was saying there were 5 of us, including Grandma Jean, then he turned around and told us there were 3 boys and 2 girls...when he does stuff like this, it makes me so proud :) )

We hung out with Grandma for a while then E and I headed home. I had a concert to go to, Lady Antebellum with Darius Rucker and Thompson Square for the openers. I'll post more on the show later, when I can put the pictures up, but it was a good time over all.

Today was Daddy's day to sleep in, so Emerson and I ate breakfast then we hung out. He watched Tangled and played with his toys and sat in the big chair.

 Spenny came home around noon , then it was lunch time and nap time. Mama got some stuff done, mostly small projects, like using the baking soda/vinegar in a bag trick on the shower head. I haven't tested the shower yet to see if it makes a difference, but it does look better. I also cleaned out some drains and did some other chores around the house.

For dinner I made pancakes from scratch for the first time. They were just...ok. They were super fluffy and easy to make, but the taste was  I'll research some of the reviews on it and see what I can come up with for next time.

I also made a menu plan for the week, which I've been slacking off on, but with Daddy being back at work late now, I need to plan ahead to prevent us from eating crap every single night.

This week we will have:

Chicken and Gnocchis
Chicken Tacos
Date Night
Boys Choice--likely pizza, they have been a big fan lately, and while I've been using the frozen ones (Spenny likes to pick them out) I think we'll try our hand at making one instead. He does really well at helping me cook. E got to try his hand at it tonight with the pancakes:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


We were pretty lazy on Sunday, The most that we did was Spenny got a hair cut...



Haircuts in the past have been a challenge, but recently he has decided that it is ok to get your hair cut, as long as you get a toy at the end. Sunday's score was a 10 pack of Heros that are now scattered about the house.

For dinner we made some bbq pork that had been cooking in the crock pot all day, followed by some homemade potato salad. It was my first try at that, but it turned out delish.  I also made some egg salad for J to enjoy as well, and Emerson actually ate an egg salad sandwich as well!

Mama also made some changes to herself...

First, I did my pin of the week, a honey-brown sugar facial scrub, which s why my face s so red. It was nice, but today my face is dry as heck.  Please note, I did not intend on my shirt matching the wall, it just happened and I wasn't about to change it. I also have a hard time taking self portraits which is why my face always looks like this:

What do you think? (besides I need to clear the mirror...)

Spencer's verdict was that my hair is very "Brown" and "beautiful".

Yesterday morning we had a surprise, my car wouldn't start and it is now at the dealership getting looked at. It's likely an alternator issue, so hooray for that. Gotta love unexpected car repairs, but hopefully it'll be taken care of.  We are blessed to be able to have family near by that was able to rescue me and the boys from the side of the road as well as loan us a vehicle for a couple of days while we figure out my car.

Other than that, it's life as normal around here. 

Headed to bed, so good night!