Easy Organization with BIC Gelocity Pens!

It’s no secret that I love pens — especially gel pens! So when I had the opportunity to try out the new quick-dry Gelocity Pens from BIC I knew I couldn’t say no!

BIC Gelocity review

My Smiley Kit came with a package of three gel pens, coupons, and a cute coloring sheet. I couldn’t wait to test them out!

The first thing I noticed is how comfortable the grip is on these pens. The barrel is slightly padded and you can write for a long time without fatigue. Also, check out how vibrant the ink is!

BIC Gelocity review

Sometimes pink gel pens don’t show up well, but this one does. The blue and purple are so pretty, and the best thing is that the ink dries faster than regular gel pens. I can’t say they are smudge-proof, but they are certainly an improvement over some other brands.

BIC Gelocity review

And of course, if you’re trying to get things organized for the new school year, these pens make color-coding a snap! Assign each of your kids a color for the family calendar, or designate a color for different areas of your life — work, to-do, fitness, etc.

Thanks to Smiley360 for the opportunity to sample these pens for free! All opinions are my own.

Recipe | Bow Ties with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

Quite a number of years ago I had a separate recipe blog on my website. I eventually decided to just start posting the recipes here, and took the recipe blog offline. The other day I was going through those recipes I had posted and realized there were so many dishes I haven’t made in a while. This particular recipe had been in regular rotation when I was pregnant with Jacob (that goes to show how long it’s been!).

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli RabeI think it was my mother-in-law who first made this dish, and I got the recipe from her. Italian sausage and broccoli rabe happened to be on sale this week, so it made for a frugal dinner that everyone loved!

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli RabeAs summer starts to wind down into fall, simple, cozy recipes like this one are perfect. Easy enough for a weeknight, but great for entertaining, too. While my family prefers hot Italian sausage, you can certainly use a combination of hot and sweet or mild Italian sausage. 

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

1 lb bow tie pasta
1 (1-lb) bunch broccoli rabe, tough ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb. hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp. crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. each salt and black pepper
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for garnish

In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta according to pkg directions, adding broccoli rabe 3 min. before pasta is finished cooking. When pasta is firm but tender and broccoli rabe is tender, reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and broccoli rabe and return to the pot.

While pasta and broccoli rabe are cooking, cook the sausage in large skillet over med-high heat, breaking up clumps with wooden spoon, until the sausage is browned. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; saute for another minute or until fragrant.

Add the sausage, the reserved 1/2 cup cooking water, the olive oil, salt and pepper to pasta-broccoli rabe mixture in pot. Toss to coat pasta evenly. Serve with grated cheese on the side.

Last Week of Summer Break

Over the last few weeks I’ve enjoyed seeing my friends post their first-day-of-school photos of their kids. Here in the Hudson Valley, we don’t start until after Labor Day (yes, actually in September!), so we are enjoying one last lazy week of break. Of course, I’m trying to get things organized and ready for new school year too, so I’m not relaxing too much — ha!

The weather:::
We have been enjoying absolutely gorgeous weather over the past week. Low 70s during the day, chilly enough at night for blankets… I’ll take it. At the same time it’s just heartbreaking to watch what’s going on in Texas. Hurricane Irene caused a lot of destruction up here back in 2011 (to the day), but nothing in comparison to what people are currently dealing with.

Right now I am:::
Sitting at the kitchen island, smelling homemade chicken soup cooking away for dinner, enjoying the breeze coming in through the sliding glass doors.   

On my reading pile:::
At the moment I am listening to People Who Eat Darkness on audiobook and I’m about to start Real American: A Memoir for a review coming up on the blog. I’m also very excited to have won a copy of Dirty Wars and Polished Silver: The Life and Times of a War Correspondent Turned Ambassatrix from Sandra‘s giveaway!

Movies or Shows I watched this weekend:::
We started watching Detectorists and the British version of The Office again. Love both of those shows!

On my TV:::
Paranormal Survivor
Forensic Files

I need some new shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime!

On the menu for this week:::
I’m starting to think about making big batches of hearty meals to stash in the freezer in one or two-person sized portions for school or work lunches. I think I will probably set aside some of the soup and stew just for that!

Chicken noodle soup, hot dogs, tater tots      
Crock Pot beef stew, Italian bread, salad       
Chicken divan casserole
 Crock Pot shredded chicken verde tacos 
Grilled burgers, chips, cole slaw    

On my to do list:::
Laundry, laundry, laundry! So much folding and putting away to do. I really need to tackle that tonight. I also need to put away some groceries and sweep & vacuum. 

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Knit dishcloths, and I plan to pick up my Atlanticus this week and hopefully finish that up!

Looking around the house:::
It’s late afternoon now so yes, there is stuff that needs to be put away, and the dining room table is covered with computers and CDs. Drew’s installed Linux on an old machine and is making it a media server. I’m just not worrying about it, LOL… 

From the camera:::
Laura’s had a friend sleepover this weekend and I took them to Stewart’s for ice cream. Instead of sitting at one of the picnic tables there I drove over to the park down the road. While the girls were playing I picked a bunch of Queen Anne’s Lace (one of my favorites!) and whatever these purple flowers are. I felt a little bad about it, but believe me — there was plenty left along the park’s edges!
Wildflowers on my windowsill

What I’m wearing today:::
Jeans, a blue tank top, and a white blouse with red and burgundy flowers. Just threw on some sandals before I went to work because I couldn’t find my other ballet flat!

One of my simple pleasures:::
Drinking tea or coffee out on my deck. I’m lucky to have quite an expanse of woods behind our house, and our neighbors aren’t terribly closeby. Our backyard is very quiet and private. I love going out there in the morning with a warm cup of something and just listening to the birds. It’s so peaceful. 

Inspirational Quote, Bible verse, anything you want to share:::
As the summer is so apparently turning into fall, I keep thinking of this quote.

Linking up with Sandra at Diary of a SAHM for Happy Homemaker Monday.

Finally Time to Relax!


What a month it’s been! August has been jam-packed. The last stretch of summer reading programs at work. Birthdays. The final weeks of camp for the kids. Yesterday morning I felt such a sense of peace and relief as I enjoyed a leisurely (and indulgent) breakfast outside.

lazy morning

Do you see that donut? It is huge! It was leftover from the boys’ birthday party on Sunday. Instead of cake or cupcakes, we opted for their favorite donuts this year. Jake got Boston Cream and Noah got raspberry filled Jelly. And no, they are not from any chain. I asked my parents to bring them on the day of the party to save time, so they ordered the donuts from Chmura’s Bakery in my hometown of Palmer, Mass. They are probably the best donuts I’ve ever eaten!

birthday boys

Hard to believe these guys are now 15 and 12! Where does the time go? Anyway, I had yesterday morning to myself because Noah and Laura were spending a few days at my mom’s, and Jake was at Drew’s mom’s. It was lovely to just enjoy the sights and sounds of late summer in the backyard. This is one of my favorite times of the year. All of our commitments are done and there are still a couple weeks left until school starts again. It’s time to enjoy a slower pace, reorganize things, and get ready for the fall.

My last big library program for the summer was this week — organizing an eclipse viewing party. Oh my goodness, it was fantastic! I worked with a member of a local astronomy club and made viewers from No. 14 welding glass plates, so we had those in addition to some of the viewing glasses (that I checked and rechecked and rechecked because I was so nervous about the phony ones going around). We set up a live stream of the NASA eclipse feed in town hall. People brought their own pinhole cameras, colanders, and viewers. It was an amazing community event with such awesome energy.

Community Eclipse Viewing

Community Eclipse Viewing

Eclipse fun

That’s me and my friend Denise. I couldn’t resist taking an eclipse selfie, LOL! Here in the Hudson Valley we only saw about a 65% eclipse, but it was still remarkable when you looked up and saw the various stages of the moon crossing paths with the sun. I honestly don’t know how anyone can’t be somehow moved by it. I left work with such a positive feeling in my heart that day!

Yesterday (after I ate my ginormous donut), I puttered around the house for a bit. There were still platters and such to put away from the party, laundry to be folded, that sort of thing. Then I ran out to pick up my team’s Battle of the Books t-shirts (and got lost while driving to an unfamiliar library, ugh) and then pick up Jake at my mother-in-law’s. Since there is an A.C. Moore on the way I decided to stop because… well, craft store HELLO! 

They had the Premier Yarn Sweet Rolls and Candy Shop on sale. Honestly, the colorways in the Sweet Rolls weren’t doing much for me, but when I saw “Necco Wafer” in the Candy Shop yarns, I scooped up the last three they had.


Oh, it is so soft and squishy. Not entirely sure what my plans are for these, but definitely something wintery. I still have to finish up my Atlanticus blanket before I can even think of another project. I am so far behind because there just hasn’t been time to crochet. 

So, with the summer craziness behind me, I am looking forward to getting back into my hobbies: reading, crocheting, futzing around with  my Silhouette, and — yes — blogging!

Recipe | Speedy Hamburger Buns

Speedy Hamburger Rolls

Hamburgers are a quick, easy dinner. Honestly, they are my default “what’s for dinner” dinner because I always have ground beef or turkey in the freezer. But sometimes I don’t have one crucial element: the roll.

I live 13 minutes from the grocery store. (There is a tiny country store closeby, but it’s crazy expensive and keeps odd hours). When you factor in the time to drive to the store and back, the aggravation of navigating the aisles, the temptation of buying ice cream while you’re there, well… making them yourself isn’t such a bad idea. Especially when these buns take about 45 minutes from start to finish!

You can do this. You can bake bread. And it will be infinitely better than what you would probably throw in your grocery cart. Ready to give it a try? Here’s the recipe:

Speedy Hamburger Rolls
(make them in under an hour!)

Speedy Hamburger Rolls


  • 1 packet of quick-rise yeast (approx. 2.5 Tbsp)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons room temperature warm water 
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ish cups of  bread flour


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt and enough flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let it rise.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape each into a ball. Place each roll approx. 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake at 425° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 10-12 rolls

My kids loved these rolls. In fact, they asked me to make them for their sandwiches once school starts up again. Honestly, they are very economical and so simple. How can I possibly say not?

Free Printable School Note

It’s August! We don’t start until after Labor Day here in New York, but back-to-school prep is in full swing. I know many other areas of the country will be heading back to school very soon. I’m not one to leave things to the last minute, so the other day I purchased as much of my kids’s school supplies as possible. As I’m starting to get organized for the new school year, and I find that pre-printed School Notes are an invaluable time and sanity saver.

With three kids in school, you can only imagine how often I have to send in a note about a bus change or a dentist appointment. By using these handy notes, I can just jot down the important info, check a few boxes, and voila! It streamlines the entire process.

Free Printable - School Notes

I designed these notes a few years ago and I still use them. The graphics are not too embarrassing for my high school sophomore, and the skinny, vertical orientation means that they don’t get lost in binders or homework folders. (My kids use folders to carry school papers back and forth and smaller notes, I have learned from experience, tend to get lost or forgotten if you can’t immediately see them. But it’s hard to miss a tall note like this one.)

Click here to download my free School Note PDF (for personal use only)!

I’m happy to continue to share these notes with my readers as a freebie. I like to keep a small stack printed, cut, and easily accessible — your planner or home management binder are great spots! They are not terribly fancy, but they are functional, and I think you will agree — they are a real time-saver! 

Post updated to reflect new graphics and text.