Planning and Organizing

Wow, there are so many events coming up that I’m helping plan. I am trying to just stay on-task, though, and not bite off more than I can chew (a bad habit of mine). So far, so good, though.

I volunteered to head up the publicity efforts for a large fundraiser for an annual trip at the elementary school, and as I make a list of everything that needs to be done, luckily most of it is communicating, emailing, stuff that can easily be done from home

The other big event is a Cub Scout trip coming up to Battleship Cove! My older son went on this trip several years ago and had an amazing time. We have had such a great response — we actually had to call and increase our expected head count! Of course, one of the big questions people have is about transportation. Unfortunately, there’s no bus, so everyone just has to get themselves there on their own. It would be cool to have a bus (ha — imagine looking up Gregory Poole buses for sale), but it’s just way too expensive. The benefit of going on your own is that you can also stay a little longer if you want, or make stops on the way home. So glad it doesn’t seem to be a big deal to everyone.

And then there are some smaller events: Drew’s birthday, Noah’s First Communion, and Laura’s birthday are all coming up in the next few months. Good thing I enjoy planning!

What a Weekend!

Whew, I’m glad it’s Monday. I know, sounds nuts, right? Well, it was a crazy, busy, wonderful weekend over here! We had a lot going on, and there were a couple milestones for our boys.

Saturday was the “big” day, full of activity. In the morning, Noah and I headed to the church for his First Reconciliation (or First Confession, as it’s also called). He was so prepared and so cute… The boy was bursting at the seams to go first, and ended up not getting to go until almost last. Nevertheless, he was happy and said he felt “great” afterwards 🙂

We had a bit of a break in the afternoon while my parents and Drew’s mom aunt came over for the Blue & Gold Banquet on Saturday night to watch Jake bridge over to Boy Scouts (and of course to watch all the other awards, as well).

The dinner was so yummy: pasta, meatballs, salad, rolls, and of course cake for dessert. It’s so funny — seems that spaghetti and meatballs has been the unofficial Blue & Gold dinner choice going back to when my dad was a scout, LOL!

Noah earned his Wolf badge:

Blue and Gold 2013

And Jake and the other scouts in his den all earned the Arrow of Light, which is the highest achievement a Cub Scout can earn as well as the only Cub Scout patch that can be worn on a Boy Scout Uniform. Here we are as the awards presentation began.

Blue and Gold 2013

When the scout received his patch, he was also presented with a rose and an Arrow of Light pin to give his mother — so sweet!

arrow of light pin

And here he is after everything was done — officially a Boy Scout and proudly showing off his plaque and decorated arrow. Each colored strip of tape represents one of his Cub Scout achievements.

Blue & Gold 2013

It was quite an exciting day! Yesterday was a little more low-key. My parents stayed overnight so we had a relaxing morning and then went over to the book sale at the library. My folks left from there, and the boys and I helped box up all the remaining books. Since they were such diligent workers (and because their little sister was spending the day at Grandma’s), we figured they earned dinner out so we went to a local Indian restaurant for their Sunday night buffet. It’s not something we do very often, so the boys were thrilled!

Definitely a fun, but full last few days… Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, too!

{Recipe} Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Winter Salad

This is another one of those recipes that I kind of feel silly posting. It’s just so simple! But just in case you are still looking for a way to prepare Brussels sprouts that leaves them nutty and delicious… here it is!

My friend, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, was talking to me about Brussels sprouts last summer, and how he roasts an entire pan on Sunday and lives off of them all week because they are just so good. In addition to being a trained chef, he’s a kettle bell champ and he works at one of the Canyon Ranch resorts, so I definitely trust his opinion when it comes to healthy, delicious food. The first time I made these, my 10-year-old went back for seconds, so that’s just further proof of their yumminess!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Brussels sprouts
olive oil

Cut each sprout in half and toss into a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Make sure the olive oil is on every sprout. Use a spoon or your hands to mix it all up. Then, place the sprouts on a foil-lined baking sheet. My friend suggested I put them cut-side down to get more of that roasty goodness. Place in a 400-degree oven and cook for about 25-30 minutes.

Now, what do you with them after this? Well, they are delicious as-is, or with a squeeze of lemon juice to kick it up a bit. Or you can toss them in a salad. I know — what? That sounds a little weird. Well, just trust me.

winter salad

Make yourself up a salad with your favorite greens, dried cranberries, walnuts, and a bit of goat cheese. Add the Brussels sprouts and toss with a bit of Balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious!!!

Many of us grew up knowing only boiled, tasteless Brussels sprouts. Give this method a try and I bet it will change your mind.

I’m linking up with Sandra at Diary of a SAHM
because it’s Cooking Thursday!

Bursts of Color on a Dreary Day

I try to be positive about whatever weather comes our way, but you know what? I’m done with winter. I’m done with the cold, done with the snow, done with all the dirt tracked into the house. This time of year I feel so lazy — I have so little motivation.

I’ve been trying to psych myself up and get back into working out and so far so good. I’m alternating between using the elliptical and doing a kettle bell workout. It’s killer, but I think I’ll see results from it! I definitely prefer working out at home. I don’t really see myself being one of those women at the gym with personalized yoga mats. Of course, never say never — maybe once Laura is in school I’ll think about taking some classes.

But today I’m going to have to force myself to put on my shorts & tee shirt! Nevertheless, I’m going to do it. Gotta get rid of this winter blubber somehow!

Since it’s so yucky out, I decided to try to put a little more color in my day. At Michael’s I scored on (clearance!) washi tape. I love, love, love using this in my day planner. Plus, there are about a zillion other uses for it. Call me crazy, but I might have to go back and get a few more packages.


At Target, they still had some Valentine’s stuff on an endcap. On a whim I grabbed a box of chocolate and put it in my cart. (I’d purchased one over the weekend for like $2.50). Imagine my surprise when it rang up at something like 79 cents! Mama’s emergency chocolate stash has been replenished.


One of my Valentine’s roses is looking especially gorgeous. I just had to snap a picture.


And finally, when the mail came I got a couple new magazines to read, including one whose cover just screams out “SPRING!”

spring is coming

Alright. Maybe I’ll get my butt downstairs and workout before dinner. Especially if I want to have one of those chocolate truffles later tonight 😉

{Recipe} Crock Pot Hot Fudge Cake

valentine's day

I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day! Aren’t my roses gorgeous? Drew surprised me with a bunch this year — such a sweetie! I know so many people who are down on Valentine’s Day and true, you shouldn’t need a single day to express your love for someone (I know that’s certainly not the case with me and my amazing hubby), but I enjoy being a little extra smoochy and making things a little extra special. But that’s just me.

We had a delicious home-cooked dinner. I made surf & turf (filet mignon and sizzling shrimp scampi), steamed broccoli, a chopped salad, and baked potatoes. For dessert I made this decadent Hot Fudge Cake!

Oh, there is nothing like an ooey, gooey chocolate dessert… especially on Valentine’s Day! This is one of my favorite recipes, and best of all, you cook it in the Crock Pot so you can leave your oven free to bake up some other delicious dishes.

Hot Fudge Cake (in the Crock Pot)
hot fudge cake

1 cup AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp coconut oil (feel free to use butter, vegetable oil or whatever you prefer)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Hot fudge sauce:
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water

Combine the dry ingredients and then add the milk, vanilla, and oil. Combine well. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts. Spread the batter in a well-greased 2-quart slow cooker.
hot fudge cake

Add the brown sugar and additional cocoa to the boiling water and stir well. Pour this mixture over batter in your Crock Pot. Do not stir. Just leave it alone — trust me.
hot fudge cake

Cook on HIGH for 2 to 3 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. See how it rises and all comes together?
hot fudge cake

* This recipe makes more of a traditional thick “pudding” — it’s not going to be firm like bakery cake. The water settles to the bottom and makes a chocolatey sauce, and the cake batter kind of rises to the top and gets baked, yet still kind of mushy. Just so you know what to expect. Here’s a photo after we dug into it.
hot fudge cake

** Correct: there are NO EGGS in this recipe.

*** If there are leftovers, they are not great cold — definitely warm extras up in the microwave or in the toaster oven.

I have never cooked this on the LOW setting, so I can’t recommend that. Serve it with ice cream or whipped cream — it is just heaven in a bowl!

Linking up with…

Whatever You Want Wednesday!

Snow Day


Well, it’s been a long day. The news has been hyping up this storm for days, so as of last night we were 99% sure the kids would have a snow day today and whaddya know? Yes, another emergency cancellation. Sigh… I can’t say I was surprised, at least.

Snow started falling a little bit around 8 this morning. Nothing much, just pretty flakes that landed and melted right on contact.


This morning I was busy digging my way out of a huge pile of laundry while the kids played around. There still wasn’t too much snow by the time I went out to get them mail around 2. But it was definitely starting to stick.


Around 3 the kids all went outside to play. I think they have more fun on the swing set when it snows than when the weather is mild, because they were out there for quite a while. Then, when I checked Facebook it seemed like roads were getting slick.

We ate supper on the early side. I tried a new recipe for a slow cooker version of chicken cordon bleu, and it was so good! Served with mashed potatoes, broccoli, and salad, it was total comfort food. I even baked up a peach cobbler for dessert. It’s the boys’ favorite (and mine too!). After dinner, Drew and Jake decided to put on The Shadow and Noah asked me to heat up his rice pillow so he could snuggle up with it (and a blanket) and start a new book. Laura fell asleep on the couch and now I need to wake the poor thing up and get her in bed.

As for me, I plan on getting my PJs on and trying to make some progress on blanket squares. I’ll be curious for the morning to see how much snow actually falls overnight!

Cold & Gray


Gray, gray, gray… that’s the story of the day here folks. The sun was out briefly, but now it’s cloudy again and just seems all the colder. I really was spoiled by that brief bit of warm-ish weather (which really wasn’t even all that warm). Still a solid month and a half of winter to go, so I will just have to deal with it.

This morning I went grocery shopping… Aldi, Shop Rite, and Sam’s Club. Whew… it’s always so exhausting. I decided to treat myself to a few bunches of daffodils, though. Can’t wait for their cheery yellow faces to brighten up the corner near the window.


I’m trying to be a little more brave with color this year, and not worry about things matching perfectly. I’ve got some Valentine’s pillows on the couch (Laura insists these are hers… she’s always playing around with them).


And the dishcloths I’m working on, just using up whatever cotton yarn I have in my basket. Easy, mindless crochet, perfect for when my brain is on “vacation” shall we say 😉


We had a pretty easy weekend. The library was hopping on Saturday morning (always a good thing), and the time flew by. The only other thing I needed to do all weekend was take the boys to basketball on Sunday afternoon (where I sat and crocheted, so really… who can complain?). I love lazy weekends when I actually feel like being lazy. Which was entirely the case this weekend, so it all worked out.

Looking ahead to this week, though, it seems a little busier. Tomorrow Jake starts show chorus at school. It’s signing and dancing — a little peppier as opposed to just regular chorus (which he also does… and band, too. Yes, the boy loves his music.) He’s excited about it, so I’m glad. He might have book club this week too — not sure about that yet.

And lots of scouting events! Tomorrow is a Boy Scouts meeting he needs to attend. There are two Boy Scout troops, so he needs to decide which one he feels is a better fit. I think he’s decided (with a little guidance from us), but after tomorrow’s meeting he can say with certainty. And Friday is his very last Webelos den meeting! Drew has been working on a slide show for the Blue & Gold Banquet and oh my — it’s going to be a tear-jerker. Seeing all these boys grow from first graders to middle-schoolers… it’s so bittersweet.

Well, I suppose I should finish up and switch over my laundry to the dryer. Hope you all had a lovely weekend and are ready for a great week ahead!

How to Clean the Glass on Your Wood Stove or Fireplace

how to clean wood stove glass

Remember how I just was asking about a January thaw? Well, the last two days were it! Sure, it was wet and foggy, but temperatures were mild for this time of year and I even had a chance to air out the house a little. Since we weren’t using our wood stove, I decided to take advantage of the burn break and give it a good cleaning.

After cleaning out all the ash and soot, it looked better, but I had to do something about that glass. Ugh, what a mess!

how to clean wood stove glass

how to clean wood stove glass

Soot really sticks to the glass and it can be a real PITA to clean… if you don’t know the secret. That’s right. There is a simple, easy way to accomplish this task. And best of all, you already have everything you need. And it is environmentally-friendly. No harsh cleaners, no ammonia, nothing of the sort.

Please note: ONLY DO THIS WITH A COLD WOOD STOVE OR FIREPLACE!!! Do not try to do this if you still have smoldering ash. Give your stove a good 24 hours to cool down after burning, and even then check to make sure there are no more embers. You do not want to burn yourself.

Here’s what you need:
how to clean wood stove glass

  • Newspaper
  • Water
  • (and the secret ingredient)… ash from your stove or fireplace

Simply wad up a sheet of newspaper and dip in a bowl of warmish water.

Then, reach into your (COLD, please!!!) stove and get a little ash on there. I know, I know… What? How on earth is spreading dirty soot on the surface of my already dirty glass going to help matters? Well, the ash is an abrasive, sort of like pumice, and really helps scrub away the residue from burning wood.

how to clean wood stove glass

how to clean wood stove glass

Depending upon how dirty your glass is, you’ll more than likely need to use a little elbow grease. This is just a secret… it ain’t magic, my friends. You still have to do a little work. But you should see results almost immediately.

how to clean wood stove glass

Change sheets of newspaper and repeat the process until you achieve your desired cleanliness. Then, get yourself a spray bottle filled with water and some paper towels to rinse off the wet soot and shine it all up.
how to clean wood stove glass

This whole project took me maybe 10 minutes and I am so happy to have a clear window again!

how to clean wood stove glass

how to clean wood stove glass

Ta-da! And now we get to mess it all up again as the cold weather has returned and we’re back to our regular use.