Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Sites I Like

Though I wish I had more time to putz around the internet, there are a few sites that I check often, if not daily.

1. My Blog- of course!

2. Other peoples blogs- I try to visit my as often as I can. I love seeing what everyone is up to and finding out interesting things about my blog buddies!

3. Google- who doesn't Google?

4. Wal-Mart- a great place to check prices and to buy on line. I've bought everything from pajamas to a mattress at Walmart and never had a problem. Plus shipping is so cheap and you can't beat the site to store feature.

5. Amazon- another great place to check for prices. I love the free shipping offer and I order a lot around Christmas.

6. City-Data Forum- I found this gem a few years ago after searching for info on Virginia cities. It's not only about cities, but many other topics too, from advice to politics. The moderators are the best. They keep everyone civil, even on the most hotheaded topics.

7. Sparkpeople- An instructer at my gym told me about this weight loss site. She is a member and likes the ability to track her food intake and exercise. Plus it's free! I just joined so I'm still navigating my way through, but so far, so good. Any help I can get is good.

8. Southernfood.about- Speaking of weight issues and why I need to lose a few, this recipe site is wonderful. Great down home recipes with ratings to tell if the recipe is good or not so I don't waste my time making something yucky.

9. Accuweather- You can never check the weather often enough. It seems to change hourly anyway.

10. My local library- I spend a lot of time on line requesting books. Sometimes I think the librarians must get sick of seeing me, but I just love libraries.

11. Local News- Even though I get the newspaper, I like to check the updates.

12. Trip Advisor- this is a great site to check reviews of hotels and other places. Very good advice to save you from having a bad vacation!

13. Yahoo- Free email accounts, good news headlines and a great alternative to MSN. I like to use my email there when I sign up for things online rather than using my main email.

What are your favorite sites?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Flu

I was really hoping that the flu was going to pass us by this year, but no such luck. My middle daughter came down with it this weekend and now my oldest has it. Different symptoms for each but I think both have the flu. I'm a little scared my youngest will get it. He is only 6 and according to the news, he is in the most dangerous age range for fighting this. Scary stuff.

Most of my kids' classmates are out with it as well. It seems to have come early and hard this year. Our pediatrician says there is no way to tell if someone has the H1N1 flu unless the doc sends blood to a lab to be tested. She suggested we just assume that is what the kids have and wait it out unless the kids have trouble breathing.

I'm doing a lot of praying this week!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

After getting the confirmation this week that I definitely have skin cancer (the very curable kind, thank God!), I needed a bit of a pick me up. Something rich, chocolatey and very satisfying. And it was going to have to be good enough to get my mind off the upcoming surgery. Well, this ice cream certainly did get my full attention! The basic recipe is easy to adapt to whatever candy or other additions you prefer. You can add small marshmallows, nuts or other chopped candy if you don't like Reeses, but who doesn't like Reeses? :)

Adapted from

Reeses's Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk (I used half and half to make it richer)
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
About 5 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, chopped

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat chocolate, sugar, milk, cream until chocolate is melted. Add vanilla and cool. Pour the mixture into a blender and process until smooth. Pour into prepared ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Just before done, add chopped Reeses (or other ingredients as desired).
Makes about 4 cups

"Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos."
-Don Kardong

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Things I Do To Take Care Of Myself

Ok, I know Moms are not supposed to be types who think of themselves a lot. Heck, I think women in general are made to think of others first. But, yesterday at the dermatologists, I was told I might have Basal Cell Carcinoma. To say I'm scared is an understatement. But I am a little calmer today than I was yesterday. Enough so that I started thinking of ways to help myself feel a little better until the biopsy results come in next week. So here are some things I'm doing:

1. Exercise- since I workout most days of the week, it's gotten to the point where I look forward to it as a stress reliever. I worked out this morning and it gave me time to think, plus I feel a little more in control of my body.

2. Eat something sweet- so it flies in the face of number one, but everything in moderation, right? :) I was thinking of making cookies or a pumpkin cake. Just something comforting.

3. Soup- it's rainy and it's cold here today with highs only in the 40's (what happened to Fall?!). A nice warm bowl of soup or chowder sounds very good to me today.

4. Quilting- I love spending time quilting while I watch a favorite movie. It is another activity that keeps me sane and distracted.

5. Talk to my sister- as a nurse, my poor sister really gets it. Our family is always asking her medical questions! But besides my husband, she is the one person who makes me feel like I'm not alone.

6. Talk to my friends- what a relief to have a group of women who understand me, give me wonderful warm hugs and say just the right things. It lifts my spirits to know they are there for me.

7. Chocolate- besides those chemicals in your brain that chocolate is supposed to boost, it just tastes so darn good it's hard to believe anything is wrong with my world, at least for a moment.

8. Build a fire- the smell and sound of a fire in the fireplace makes me calm.

9. Hang out with my kids- they distract me like nothing else. From homework issues, arguing with each other, and their laughter and playing, I keep moving even when I feel down.

10. Get enough sleep- yesterday, I read on MSN that there are five foods that help you sleep. Cherries, bananas, toast, oatmeal and milk. I made sure I had oatmeal with milk last night to help me sleep. If it was that or something I wasn't aware of, I slept very well last night!

11. Do my hair and makeup- the temptation to cut this out of my day is not even there. Making sure I look decent for the day helps me feel more normal and ready to deal with most anything. And believe me, I need my makeup!

12. Cleaning the house- I hate to clean. I mean really hate it. But when the house is all in order from wiping the crumbs off the counter to mopping the floor, I feel a lot calmer. It might never be as clean as I'd like it with three kids and a husband home, but it's close enough.

13. Having a good cry- If I didn't cry yesterday and a little today, I was going to burst. Whatever it does for your body, it's a balm to the soul.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Easy Chocolate Croissants

If there is a treat out there any easier to make than these, I'll eat my shorts (ok, maybe not, but still....). I made one batch and gave the entire plate to my kids. When I walked back into the room a few minutes later, that plate was empty and the kids were begging for more.

Chocolate Croissants

1 tube of refridgerated croissants 8 count
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3 Tblsp. butter melted

Unroll the croissants and place on a baking sheet. Place chocolate chips over the croissants, as many as you'd like (I covered the whole croissant, of course!). Carefully roll the croissants tucking in any corner to hold in the chips.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Brush with butter and serve with milk.

"Researchers have discovered that chocolate produced some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two, but can't remember what they are."
-Author Unknown

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- What I Love About Fall

What is not to like about Fall? It's my favorite time of year. Here are a few reasons why:

1. It's cooler!- much easier to sleep and I love wearing sweaters. Not only are they cozy and warm, they cover more of me!

2. Flowers and decorations- Mums are so pretty and decorating is so much more colorful and fun than in summer. And as much as I like gardening, turning over the garden and planting garlic for next year is a lot of fun too.

3. Soup and Chili- We start eating a lot more soups and chili and grilled cheese. I use the crock pot a lot more too. It makes dinner super easy. I do love summer salads but fall brings a nice change of pace in the kitchen.

4. The holidays- are right around the corner. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I just love giving gifts, spending time with my family and baking my head off.

5. Fireplaces- We have a wood burner and we use it all the time during late fall and winter. It makes the house smell wonderful and it's so much fun toasting marshmallows on a cold night.

6. Hot tea- If you've read my blog, you know that sweet tea rules in my house. But in the fall, it's so cozy to make a cup of hot tea at night and sit down and put my feet up. Very relaxing.

7. Pumpkins- I just went out this morning and bought three pumpkins for my kids to carve this weekend. I love seeing the faces the kids come up with on the pumpkins!

8. The colors of the leaves- every year they change and every year I'm amazed at the beautiful colors. It's one of those things you look at and realize the beauty God created on earth.

9. Festivals- it seems everywhere I look, someone is holding a festival. Apples, food in general or crafts, no matter what kind people just love them.

10. Shorter days- helps me get the kids into bed a little earlier at night! Plus it's just nice to settle in at home and not run around all night.

11. Football- Pro teams and college are back and it's exciting to see they hype and craziness that surrounds each game. Especially here in Pittsburgh. These people take their sports seriously!

12. Long walks in the woods- we usually have to go on vacation to West Virginia to do this but it's such a great feeling when we do go. I have a large framed picture in my house of a walking path through the woods in fall. It's my favorite picture.

13. The smells- woods, pumpkin pie, spices, fireplaces, apple cider, bonfires and cocoa are just some of the wonderful things that come with fall.

What is your favorite season?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Pie

Yesterday, as a fun treat for the kids, we went to a local apple festival. Along with the apple butter, apple crisp, and apple pancakes they had, there were fresh local apples. I bought a bag of jonagold apples, not expecting too much. Now, my favorite place to buy apples is Virginia Farm Market in Winchester because of the wonderful fresh taste. I've never been able to find apples to match those around here. But, to my surprise, these apples did. After we got home, I whipped up an apple pie from two new recipes I found. I used the cinnamon topping from one with the pie recipe from another. We ate the pie warm out of the oven with homemade whipped cream. Oh, boy was it good! And those apples were perfect with the cinnamon sugar topping.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Pie

2 pie crusts, thawed (or homemade)
6 medium apples, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup AP flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unroll one pie crust and fit into pie plate. In a large bowl, toss apples with the lemon juice until coated. Combine sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix with apple mixture. Spoon into prepared pie crust. Place remaining pie crust over apples and seal edges.

Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the pie crust. Dot the top of the pie with butter. Cut slits into the top of the pie to let out steam while baking.

Bake for 50 minutes or until pie is browned on top and pie is bubbly.

“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.”
-Jane Austen