Wednesday, August 21, 2013

3, 2, 1 Blast Zone!

It's been months since my last post! So much has been happening in our household. Where does the time go?! I know, we all ask ourselves that right? It's not just me... right? Sadly my blog once again got tossed to the bottom of the "to do" pile.

I have something worthy of sharing though. It's a tad overdue but some THANK YOU's are in order! In July/August I participated in a blog giveaway over at The contest was for a Blast Zone Air Walker Bounce House. Um... I WON!!! Seriously, how cool is that?! It arrived like the day of or the day before we left for Disney (that's all a blurr now...) but either way I was so happy to have it arrive and so bummed that I couldn't open it for the kiddos. My 17 year old seemed the most disappointed to not get to open it!!

So in the days following our arrival back home, we finally opened the bounce house!Check this out.

It was so easy to set up all by myself:

 The kids could barely contain their excitement to climb inside!!

Then of course, they bounced... and bounced, and BOUNCED for like two hours!!

And finally, my kids personally wanted to thank Blast Zone for this amazing prize:

 (Listen to Ryan... he says "thank you blast off" - it took many takes and he still didn't get it right! lol)

And from me to Blast Zone, Thank you. To Brandy at Newly Crunchy Mama of 3 blog, Thank you too!

For those of you reading this, If you haven't already done so, go check out this cool mommy blog - visit right away. She does a lot of great reviews on all the latest and greatest children-friendly things, her insights are personal and she's open and honest about her life. It's a great few minutes of your time to check her out daily!!

Ta-Ta for now!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I've been busy making new stuff for the new year! Please go visit my ETSY store and enjoy some shopping knowing everything is HALF OFF!!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We've implemented a Consequence Jar

Yesterday I posted on FB that in this house, we implemented a Consequence Jar. I got several private messages asking me what that was. I found several ideas by browsing Pinterest. I took tidbits from a few different blogs and put ours into place. Like many of you, the hubs and I differ on our parenting techniques but for the most part we agree that our kids can be outta control! We both loved this idea. Here's my completed jar:

The hubs and I sat down to discuss some of the consequences and came up with this list (an explanation will follow...):

We decided we'd give them one warning, then off to the jar they'd have to go! Picking the consequences was hard. We joked (honest) about some free child labor 'round the house, the many useful things small children could do... it was hilarious or maybe that was the wine? Anyhoo... here's our brief explanation:

Dust the Living room - Ry actually loves helping me dust - On HIS terms... so being MADE to do it will be awesome (for me). Ash doesn't like to help do anything "dirty" so this one will be great for me, her!

No Sleepover - This was the hardest for me because I know how much they adore this. Sleepovers in Ry's bedroom on the weekends are the best. Ash gets the top bunk, Ry gets the bottom, they have their flashlights and they talk and tell stories and sing and oh man... losing this would be awful for all of us. But, there had to be ONE harsh one, right?

Organize Books - Simple enough, we keep a two shelf bookshelf in the living room solely for kids books. It always looks like we recently had an earthquake over there. SO, they get to straighten that up!

Practice Writing Phone# - Why not? Improving their writing skills is a PLUS. Besides they should know their phone and best part is they'll hate it! I found this awesome site (yes, on Pinterest!) that allows you to type up any word or sentences up to like 16 characters (or so) and print it out! See it here.

Time Out - We over use timeout around here it feels like. So now if the stick calls for it, then so be it. We have a spot in the hallway & we use the age/min rule... 1 minute for every year old they are. Trust me, three minutes is looooong for my lil guy!

Sit Ups - This one made us laugh - a lot... my husband being an Ex Marine had MANY other choices for them but 5 sit ups was the negotiated consequence ( you're welcome kids!).  Why not make 'em do more exercising?!

Sweep Kitchen Floor - Ahhh child labor - that's why we had kids right? Oh hush, I'm kidding. This just seemed better than sticking them outside in the cold weather for now.

Go To Bed Early - Going to bed is always a tough part of our daily routine. Anyone who has to go to bed early misses out on bedtime story and gets to stew in their bed knowing their sibling is up, enjoying their story!

Practice Writing / Mom's Choice - Same explanation for the writing of their phone #. Here's a pic of what I have ready for the first one who pulls this stick!

**FREE PASS** - Who doesn't like a freebie? This gives them a shred of hope when reaching in for their consequence. ;)

And that's all there is to it folks!

Last night, one hour into implementing it they both had to pull a stick just before bed time. Right out the gate my daughter pulled the single hardest one in there... giving up sleep over night this weekend. She was in instant tears. I could post a pic but that would be mean... bwahhahaaa. No, really I didn't even take one because I knew this was a stinger. However, Ry pulled the Sweeping job and here he is - priceless!

Please, if you decided to do one for your family let me know.... I'd love to swap photos share ideas!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What are YOU making?

Today is Halloween (Yay!) which is an awesome "holiday"... I love the tricks and the treats, I love the bustling about the streets, the creepy music etc. I love all things Halloween. Since my two youngest ones were born however, we've been very laid back making our decorations family friendly for the most part and we certainly didn't go over the top in decorating this year. On one hand it's been great not stressing over it, but on the other hand I've sorta missed it. This year I put my extra efforts into making costumes for the two youngins. Pictures coming soon... promise!

However, the one thing that happens on Halloween morning is that I begin to think about how far behind I already am for the HOLIDAYS!! Hahaha Confused? Yeah, me too...

I love all things fall and I love all things Merry so from this day through Jan 1st is my favorite time of year. Last year I swore that I was going to make ALL handmade gifts for the next holiday. Well, here it is Halloween, just 54 days until Christmas and I have made a whopping 4 homemade holiday presents. This is crazy to me because my list of gifts to make is at about 18.  4 down, just 14 more to go...

I have been taking pictures of the homemade items that I've made so far but as you can imagine, I cannot post some of those until AFTER the holidays as I don't want to give anything away... but, here are a few sneak peeks of things still left on my list for various family/friends that I know that I wish I could find the time to make!! Click on the caption to take you directly to the blog/site for instructions and/or the pattern.

Knit Scarf

Peasant Dress
Owl Purse
Toiletry Bag

Gingerbread Playdough

Bathtub "Fairy Dust"
I Spy Bottles

So tell me, what are YOU planning on making?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What to do with all these apples?!

COOK OF COURSE!! (Warning, long post ahead with some mouthwatering recipes...)

I'm sure my family will be DONE with having anything "apple" by the end of the month but I just can't help it! I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR. Normally I make apple pies... it's my "thing".  This year I wanted to experiment with other recipes I've tried, new recipes and altered recipes... So here's what I've made since Monday's pickin':
  1. Apple, Orange & Fennel Roasted Chicken
  2. Apple Walnut Chicken Salad (Using leftover roasted chicken from the night before)
  3. Homemade Crockpot Applesauce
  4. Apple Skin "chips"
  5. Fresh Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
What's next? Who knows... I'll be trolling Pinterest tonight to see! I still have one whole peck of apples to use up! Canning? I wish! I don't know how. Someday.... maybe.

Okay, so I don't have a formal write up for recipe #1 and #2 but here's a quick pic of one of them and rundown for each:

This is my Apple, Orange & Fennel Roasted Chicken

After setting some veggies aside to roast I still had one orange and one fennel left in my veggie box in the fridge that needed to be used. So, I chunky chopped them, along with one onion, one apple from the orchard and some of the fennel fronds. I rubbed the chicken generously with Salt & Pepper, then rubbed it down with olive oil (lucky bird!), stuffed it with the chopped veggies n' fruit, tied 'er up then lightly browned her in my dutch oven with a bit more of olive oil, added about 1/4 cup of vegetable broth to the bottom of the pan, covered and put in the oven for maybe 90 min on 325 degrees. Served with roasted veggies (Purple potatoes, multi-colored carrots and brussel sprouts tossed with a bit of Olive Oil, S&P and two sprigs of rosemary).

The four of us didn't finish the bird so when it completely cooled down I pulled off all the extra chicken, slapped a bit of mayo n' mustard on it, added some fresh ground pepper, then added one chopped apple, a handful of chopped walnuts, mixed it up and then refrigerated overnight for sandwiches the next day.

Okay, so on to #3 - the Crockpot Applesauce. I've been making this in different variations for quite some years now. This one below is my current favorite. I adapted mine from the version I found on pinterest after having tried it a few weeks back. See the original here. The biggest difference between hers and mine? I don't add the 1tsp of lemon juice but I kept the lemon peel, I added two cinnamon sticks instead of one and I add nutmeg to mine. Everyone in this house agreed it was too lemony when we made the other version... it was good, just not a fan favorite in this house.

So here goes:



About 18 medium size apples, peeled and chopped somewhat evenly
1 3in strip of lemon peel
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 Tsp fresh grated nutmeg
4 Tbs light brown sugar

Start out by getting your ingredients ready:

Optional side note: Wash your apple skins thoroughly and set aside (we'll be making something with them)

Once all the apples are peeled, chopped and in the crockpot add the remaining ingredients on the top (I try to evenly sprinkle the nutmeg across the entire top of the apples)

Set your crockpot to low, put the lid on it and set your timer for 3 hours. At the 3hour alarm, open the crockpot, stir thoroughly (this is when the neighbors can likely smell something wonderful is brewin' at your house!). Put the lid back on and wait another 3 hours.

Okay, you're almost done! Here's what mine looked like at the end of the 6 hours:

Contents are HOT. Carefully remove the cinnamon sticks and the lemon peel. IF you are lucky enough to have an emulsion blender then this is where you'd put that baby directly into the crockpot and blend until smooth! Me, well I'm not so lucky... instead I use my food processor (okay, I guess I'm lucky there!). I spoon the apples from the crockpot into the food processor and blend that way. It took about three batches to get it finished doing it this way.

This time we went with smooth applesauce instead of chunky but that is up to you. Just blend until the consistency is to your liking. This batch gave us approximately 6 cups.

You could can this, give it away or whatever you choose, but 6 cups of applesauce in this house will barely last the week so I just put a lid on the bowl and into the fridge it went.

So try both, the one from Mommy Makes it Better is truly delicious, we just wanted less lemon really.

Next Up, #4


Apple Skins (washed well!)
1 Tsp Lemon Juice
2 Tsp Granulated Sugar
1Tsp Cinnamon

(There are TONS of variations of these online)

As I peeled the washed apple skins, I placed them in a bowl, sprinkled with about 1 Tsp of lemon juice and set aside while I worked out my Crockpot Applesauce.

When I was ready to finally give the skins some attention, I sprinkled them with the cinnamon and sugar, stirred it around a bit with my fingers.

spread them out on parchment paper and place them in the oven for about 1hr 45min on 225 degrees

They're not as pretty comin' out... but dang they taste good!! Let them cool a few minutes before tasting!


Last recipe of the day... #5



Fresh Apple Cake
2 1/4 C. all purpose flour
3/4 C. whole wheat flour
2 C. sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 C. Canola Blend oil
1/2 C. apple sauce - I used the Crockpot Apple Sauce but if you use store bought, use UNSWEETENED.
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 C. finely chopped apples
1 C. coarsely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts (toasting is optional. I do this because it enhances the flavor)

Brown Sugar Glaze

1 C. tightly packed light brown sugar
1/3 C. butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp evaporated milk

This is also an adapted recipe I found on Pinterest. You can see the original here. As you will see from my list above, I pretty much copied the recipe, but I used all her "options" for like the whole wheat flour etc... I also, toasted the walnuts.

Get your ingredients ready (and washed!):

Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease two 8in cake pans or one 13x9in pan (I did the two 8in so I could save the second one for another time). In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Use a whisk to mix everything together well. In a large bowl, beat the eggs a mixer at low speed until pale yellow and foamy (as per the original instructions). Add the oil and vanilla and beat well. Stir in the flour mixture and continue stirring the batter just until the flour disappears. Add the apples and nuts, stir to mix them into the batter until fairly uniform.It should look something like this: 

Then divide the batter among the two pans:

Put the pans into the oven and bake 40-50 min depending on your oven. The cake should be pulling away from the sides of your pan and nicely golden brown like this:

While your cake is baking, make the sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Then cook on low for 3-5 minutes.

Spoon the sauce over the warm cake, let cool and serve!

Now my final note is that although this cake is YUMMY, you may be tempted to just grab a fork and eat it all right then and there :) BUT try to save the other one for some lazy Saturday morning... defrosts quickly and tastes just as delicious! I am saving our second one for some company we're having in a few weeks... I'll call it coffee cake and we will eat it for breakfast.... Bwahahaha

And that's all folks! For now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall, Farms & Friends -

Recently, I joined a great mother's group in the Akron OH area called Mother's Together. I was able to attend my first outing this week to the Bauman Apple Orchard in Wittman OH!! Just right up my ally right?! So, naturally I decided that here in this house, the theme of the week this week will be APPLES!

We started out on a hayride out to what felt like the middle of the orchard, each person got to pick an apple of their choice from a nearby tree. This provided great photo opportunities.  Here are a few pics I got of my little Ry:

Afterward we took our hayride back to the barns where they were hard at work pressing apples, making cider! We got to see that process, as well as how they bag the apples, where they store them (brrrrr!) and then off we went to the hay maze and petting zoo area:

Before getting there, I was under the impression we'd be picking bushels of apples (hahaha!!) which in the end I'm glad wasn't the case as I don't know how much picking would have gotten done chasing after two little ones. One apple was plenty for the memory and on the way out we visited their shop to "pick" out some apples :)  Knowing full well I wanted some apples for making applesauce and baking bread, I went straight for the "Seconds" to get them at a wee bit more than 50% off. One bag (a peck) cost approximately $8.25 depending on the variety you chose. By buying seconds, I got two pecks for just $8 even. Score!! Yes, yes I do look for a bargain even if at an orchard!

These are my Pecks! Aren't they beautiful?! (Snort!)

Check back tomorrow for recipes and feedback on what we made with these!

Side Note: If any of you are new to Akron, or looking to expand your friends list, please please visit the Mother's Together facebook page. Maybe you too can join us for a meeting or an outing!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Christopher Columbus

This weeks Theme of the Week was Christopher Columbus-

I didn't really go over the top this week as it didn't seem to hold the attention of the little ones. However, we did read a couple books, we pretended to be on a boat and look for gold and we of course made a few crafts:

Handprint Nina

"painting glue" onto paper towel tube for a "Christopher Columbus" telescope

They work! ;)

Complete with a coloring page. This is my 3 year olds coloring - Awesome huh?! I found these coloring pages here.

Preveiw: Next week's theme is Apples!!