Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I cannot believe how plentiful the garden is right now. Here we are, the last day of September, and there are flowers galore! We have roses, chrysanthemums, hostas, day lilies, begonias, marigolds, azalea flowers, lavendar, vinca, butterfly bushes -- all still blooming! This picture gives the feeling of how crowded the garden is right now. Alas, it is bittersweet -- most of this will be gone by the end of October...and then we will have to wait again, for spring...

Monday, September 28, 2009

in my happy place...

What beautiful weather we're having here today. I have the windows open, and, I'm working on Sofia's Halloween costume -- can't think of anything better I could be doing right now! I'm almost feeling guilty about my 30 minutes of happiness...

lucky seven...

Look what we did on Saturday! Not realizing how many there were, we planted some arbovitae at the far end of the pool. There are seven! First we had the seven trees in front of the house that I was obsessed with during the 2 year dry spell. Then, this summer we had the seven sunflower plants that magically appeared on the right side of the house by the garage. Now, we have the seven arbovitae in the backyard. I am feeling the luck slowly surrounding us on all sides!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

two scorched fingers later...

...that's why it's called a hot glue gun!

and...the mummy is ready!

The weather is damp and miserable, so instead of decorating the porch, I'm off to the sewing room for the rest of the afternoon -- to work on Sofia's halloween costume! Rick is painting, Nicholas is doing homework, and, Sofia is right behind me -- reminding me of everything I need to get done from now until Halloween. No lazy Sunday here.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the mummy is stuffed with shredded recycled mail! :-)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

This morning, we were treated to the beautiful autumn dawn sky in my new header. Sofia, Tahu and I ventured outside together -- and some of the streetlights were still on. There were no joggers, no birds, nothing except for the beautiful sunrise.

Well, this photo of my looooonnnnnggg shadow and the new header were the end of that quiet. When I went back inside to upload the photos onto the PC, I discovered that "someone" had upgraded Internet Explorer (long boring story behind that), and, the songs on my blog were not, and are still not working. Okay, that was before 7 a.m. I've been on the go since then and now I'm doing a quick post before we're out the door for a good part of the day running errands, and then working on Halloween decorations.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 25, 2009

a new favorite...

Here is my new favorite afternoon pick me up!

It is Bolthouse Farms Hazelnut Latte. I can't believe this is low fat, delicious, and, good for you!

As you can see, I am working on the sarcophagus/mummy project -- to be continued when Sofia gets off the bus!

Pot luck dinner - day 5

Good morning! Hope your week is winding down nicely. Yesterday turned out quite nicely -- a not too slow/not too fast kind of day. I am almost embarrassed to post what we had for dinner -- it is truly pot luck. The fridge is full from leftovers, a perfect reason to have an easy dinner. I did do a bit a food shopping -- there were some good bargains in our local supermarket, and, the best italian bread that is the key ingredient for this meal.

Leftover baked chicken with melted mozzarella cheese

Chicken from previous night's dinner
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh italian bread

If necessary, debone chicken. Chop into small pieces. Set aside. Cut italian bread into sandwich size pieces. Toast lightly. Place bread, crust side down, on microwave safe dish. Pile chicken pieces on top. Pile shredded mozzarella on top of chicken. Put in microwave and heat until cheese is melted.

The side dishes we had were spaghetti with sauce, and, caesar salad.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

this is bugging me...

It was a "buggy" kind of morning. We had thunderstorms last night, so everything was still wet when it was time to leave for the school bus. As Sofia walked out the door, this guy greeted her...

So, back in the front door she came, and, then left out the back door. After grabbing this picture I inspected the rest of the porch for creepy, crawly things. One abandoned spiderweb is all I found, right in line for the haunted house theme we are planning for halloween. So if last night's meal can almost cook itself, and, this morning the porch can almost decorate itself -- what's the trick for the laundry and the bills? Is life simpler than it seems? Am I the only one not in the know? Now, I'm on a mission...

Pot luck dinner - day 4

Today is Thursday... :-) Hooray, hooray! Since I am still catching up with laundry from last week while I was sick, I don't have time for a real day off -- but I am feeling great and that's just as good.

Last night, we had baked chicken for dinner. This is one of the easiest dinners to make. It practically makes itself!


Easy baked chicken


-Chicken thighs and drumsticks -- I use as many as will fit in my roasting pan.

-I use the metal roasting pan that came with my oven. I am convinced this is the "magical" part of this recipe. I think this comes with all ovens -- it is the tray that sits under the vented tray in the broiler area of the oven.

-I use the original flavor barbeque sauce, but you can use any flavor you like.

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees
-Defrost chicken pieces enough to break them apart. Wash thoroughly and pat with a paper towel.
-Line roasting pan with heavy duty foil. Place chicken pieces in roasting pan. They can touch, but not overlap. Overlapped pieces won't -cook properly.
-Lightly brush barbeque sauce on top of chicken.
-Cover with foil tent. I just lay the foil on top.
-Bake for 1 hour (45 minutes if chicken was not partially frozen when you put it in the oven)

We had ours with shells (pasta) and caesar salad. There are endless possibilities for side dishes to put with this. And... if there are leftovers, put those in the fridge and make chicken salad for lunch the next day!

I just noticed that the list of participants does not appear on the first page of my blog. Here is a link to that post so you can go and check out some other yummy recipes!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

while the witch is out...

For the "not too spooky" haunted house -- here is what I am starting with. The three cardboard boxes standing upright came from the packaging for Nicholas' guitar. I think they can be repurposed as coffins! A little black paint and some details -- and I'll take another picture after they have been transformed. We are still working on the mummy in a sarcophagus, and, crows in nests.

We will be working on the decorations the entire month of October -- while the "witch is out"!

In the meantime, here is what Sofia has the skeleton taking part in . I hope the witch doesn't find out about this!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pot luck dinner - day 3

I don't know what I would do without meatballs. Nicholas went through a phase where all he would eat was this. Now it is Sofia's turn. I make this twice a week. Most nights we have pasta along with a meat entree. I vary the meat entree for 3 of us -- Sofia sticks with the meatballs.

Meatballs in tomato sauce

ingredients for meatballs

1 lb. chopmeat -- I use 80% lean but you can use 85% or even 90%, however, your meatballs will have a drier texture.

1 slice white bread

1 egg

1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Put chopmeat in large mixing bowl. Break apart with fork. Add basil and oregano. Cut ends off of bread and put it in a separate small bowl. Saturate with water and then squeeze out quickly. Transfer bread to large mixing bowl. Using a fork, combine all ingredients well -- until you cannot see any remnants of the bread. Add egg to mixture and combine well. Roll chopmeat into small 1 1/2"- 2" balls and set aside.
Note: If you want to make 2 lbs. of chop meat, double all ingredients except for the egg.

ingredients for tomato sauce

3 x 15 ounce cans of your favorite tomato sauce (I use Hunt's)

1 clove fresh garlic

Extra light tasting olive oil (enough to almost cover the bottom of the pot/pan)

1 Tablespoon sugar

Chop garlic and brown in pan. Remove browned garlic from pan. Add meatballs and brown slightly. When browning meatballs leave at least 1/2" between each meatball. Don't crowd them. Crowding will prevent them from browning, they will steam instead and taste different. Depending on the size of your pot/pan you may not be able to brown them all at the same time. That's okay. Take your time with this step. When the last batch is still in the pot/pan, pour the sauce over them slowly. After all the sauce is in the pot, add the sugar. Stir gently. Add remaining meatballs. If your sauce looks thick, you can add up to 4 ounces of water. Don't make it too watery or you'll have to cook it forever to evaporate it out. Simmer over low heat 45 minutes. You don't want it to boil -- it doesn't have the best flavor if it boils. Simmering is the key.

Enjoy this with your favorite pasta and a side salad! Buon appetito!

christmas in september...

What's this?

one very happy guitar player!

Nicholas has been practicing every day since this .

Pot luck dinner - day 2

Yesterday was food shopping day, so dinner needed to be a little less time consuming than usual. Here is what made it's way to the table.

Broccoli and cheese casserole

1 pound of broccoli heads
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp yellow cheese or sharp cheddar
1 small handful of shredded mozzarella cheese

Bisquick topping
1 cup bisquick
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse and chop broccoli. Steam to the texture that you like. We like it almost soft here. While it is steaming prepare cheese mixture. Melt butter. Heat milk. I do this in the microwave, but you can do it on the stove. Combine butter and milk in small pot. Whisk in flour until you cannot see it anymore. Heat on stove until very hot (but do not boil). Add shredded yellow cheese and stir with fork while it is melting. Don't leave it without stirring it or it will get clumpy. Once yellow cheese is melted, add mozzarella cheese. This cheese melts more quickly than the yellow cheese, so I add it right before taking the mixture off the stove.

Lay out broccoli in a baking dish. Pour cheese mixture over broccoli and set aside while you are making the bisquick mixture. Combine bisquick and milk. Pour over top of broccoli and cheese. Transfer dish to oven. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until top of biquick begins to brown.

We ate this with an already cooked rotissierie chicken that I picked up at our local food warehouse.

Sofia has a half day today, so I need to hurry up. When she gets home we are working on a mummy project (front porch decoration for halloween).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pot Luck dinner - day 1

Can you hear me? It's awfully noisy in here this morning! :-) I changed the music -- gives it a little restaurant ambience, no? If it's too noisy for you, just scroll down to the bottom of the blog where you can turn off the music.

Here's a list of all the pot luck dinner participants so far. You can still join the fun -- just let me know and I'll add you to the list. Come on -- let's see what's cooking this week! I also opened a pot luck dinner group on Flickr -- so you can show off those awesome dinners over there too!

Liz Provo




A big thank you to Erin for providing inspiration and help getting the word around. If you couldn't join us this time -- I hope we'll inspire you into trying a new dinner. I'm seeing some pretty nice blogs -- and really good recipes in them.

Here's what was in the pot for us last night. I thought it might be a bit easier to post the recipes early in the day, so you can use them the same day for dinner.
Crunchy breaded chicken cutlets

The recipe is very basic. I use about a pound of chicken cutlets for a 4 person meal. Cut them up into pieces approximately 2" long x 1" wide x 1/2" - 3/4" thick. If they are too thick, then you have to cook them longer and the outside gets too well done. I find that it is easier to cut them up when they are partially frozen.

I use a mixture of seasoned breadcrumbs (75%) and unseasoned whole grain (25%). Put about 5 pieces in egg batter (3 eggs whipped together) and dunk them until they are fully coated. Pull them out one by one and lay them in the plate containing the breadcrumbs. I use a glass pie dish for this so the crumbs don't spill over the side. Coat each of them completely.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high flame. I use Extra light tasting olive oil. The amount of oil you use depends on the size of the bottom of your pan. You want the depth of the oil to be about 1/4". You want to heat it until you can smell the oil, or, until you throw some of the breadcrumbs in the pan and they sizzle immediately.

Place the first five pieces of breaded chicken in the frying pan. They should be spaced at least 1/2" apart. If there is not at least the 1/2" between them, then either switch to a bigger frying pan, or take some out. If they are still a bit frozen, cook each side for about 3 minutes. Adjust time if they are not frozen. When you take them out of the pan, place on a paper towel, paper bag, or anything else that will absorb the extra oil.

We ate ours last night with Rotelle (pasta), leftover tomato sauce, ceasar salad, and, of course, italian bread. This was a two thumbs up meal here. Easy, and, yummy!

These are great to make ahead of time, and, also the day after for lunch.

I'm off to food shopping!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

breathe deeply...

All summer these piles of dirt interrupted the natural energy flow...

As of yesterday evening -- they are GONE!

The feng shui is being restored slowly but surely...I can feel it. Breathe in...breathe out...relax.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sofia was so sweet on Tuesday while I was sick. She had a half day for school, so when she came home she "made" lunch for me, and, then we went upstairs so I could take a nap. She brought her craft "stuff" into my bedroom so that she could work on a T-shirt poster project for school. Actually, it was a combination of her craft stuff and old magazines that I said she could use for cutting out pictures. So, that was Tuesday...afternoon. I asked her to take the stuff out of my bedroom before she went to bed...on Tuesday. Then I asked her to take the stuff out of my bedroom...on Wednesday. Then, I asked her to take the stuff out of my bedroom...on Thursday.

She said okay, I'll do it right now...

Now it's sitting on the floor right behind me as I am typing. Big sigh...

pot luck dinner invitation...

So here it is -- Thursday -- my day off. Finally (with a sigh of relief), I am feeling better. In fact, I am feeling well enough to host a pot luck dinner week -- beginning 9/21! You're all invited (okay, who is she talking about?) If you are a dinner making picture taking blogger -- I am talking to you! The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler. So let's share some of those yummy meals we'll be setting on the table. So grab (a photo) of whatever you have cooking and come on over. Oh, and please just let me know if you are joining us so I can add your blog to my list!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

bored, but feeling better...

AAAAAChooooo! Yup! Still got that cold. The fever that plagued me yesterday is gone and so is the sore throat (well, almost). Due to the lack of "get up and go", I'm bored, and my head is now starting to suffer from a backup of creative thoughts. The kids are almost home and I've been looking at this floral fabric for the past 2 days. The problem is, no coordinating fabric -- beeeecause it's from my stash and about 8 years old.

Another AAAAAChoooo! and my mind clears... Aha! I have a plain fabric and some paint that matches the colors in the flowers. Let me run downstairs really quick (before Sofia gets home -- because all painting projects need to involve her) and grab those paint cans and see what I can create.

Me thinks it's a perfect match. I will post a picture of the striped curtain when it's done. The floral fabric will be used for pillows for the awesome window seat.

Nicholas just got home and gave it a thumbs up! :-)


Okay, so what's that white rectangle thingie in my photo? It's the reflection of a window on the water that's puddling on our new patio. I'm sure when Rick the perfectionist sees this he will not be happy (about the puddling). Looks like some pavers will have to be readjusted.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Patrick Swayze. I changed my song list for the day -- just for you -- so you can dance.

a hint of autumn...

What a pretty morning! Sofia brought me over to the window to look at the sunrise -- and the colors were so pretty I just had to go outside and be with them! I think the local joggers were feeling the same way -- there were so many they almost created a traffic jam!

Now if I could only shake this cold and sore throat...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Okay, so it's been less than 24 hours and you're probably wondering why I changed the photo in my header already. Yesterday's header gave me a dreary November feeling -- and I'm not ready for that just yet. This morning, we have bright blue skies and warmer temperatures. The butterfly bush is ripe with activity -- including the beauty in my header photo.

Three of us have a sore throat and the sniffles this morning -- Nicholas had this last week, so we will give credit to him for sharing it with us. I'm a bit sad too. I just found out that two nice people I knew while growing up are now gone.

Feels like a day to take in a little slower, and, reflect on what is good.

I need to go find my happy place -- I'm feeling a bit lost right now.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

with a crayon...

and some rocks...

you can create this...

I took this photo from the same angle as the "leap of faith" photo in my sidebar. We're not finished yet -- but what do you think about the transformation so far?

Friday, September 11, 2009

monkey update...

Remember this?

It's finished! :-)
After wasting most of today getting nowhere, I feel like I accomplished something!

sunshine on a cloudy day...

This morning Sofia woke me up and asked "Mommy, how come it's so dark outside and the street lights are on? The clock says it's 6:30 a.m." I opened my eyes. Yup, it is a dark and stormy day. We are under a tornado watch. An east wind is blowing. Hey, maybe Mary Poppins will show up! :-)

Okay, so you're asking, what's up with the picture in this post? It's the fall/winter color for my new bathroom accessories. If I can't have the sunshine outside -- well, then, I might as well create my own, right? So, today, in between cleaning out the closet (new project) and finishing up the baby block (past due project), I'm going to have to pop my head in the bathroom every once in awhile today to chase away the gloom.

The sun is always shining somewhere -- hope you find yours today!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

time to take a break...

I think the puppy has the right idea for today! Yesterday's get together was a success. The rain made a no-show, and, hungry appetites made their way through the baked ziti, meatballs, and brownies during conversation on the porch.

For this week, I earned my day off! :-)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

hurry up, and wait...

Do you ever think about how much of our lives we spend waiting? Sometimes we wait impatiently, sometimes not. This morning we waited until it was time to go to the bus stop. Then we waited for the bus to arrive. Then Sofia waited to get on the bus. After she gets on the bus, she will wait until the bus gets to school. And most of the day, I will wait for her to get home. And I will also wait for Nicholas to come home from school. And I will wait for Rick to come home from golfing, with his friends, so we can all sit back and talk about how they all spent their day, waiting, on the golf course.

I was waiting for breakfast to be ready while writing this post. It's ready. Let me go eat it, so I can hurry up and wait the rest of the day!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Okay, so it's Tuesday and I'm thinking it's Monday. It's September, and I keep uploading my new photos into the August folder on my PC. What have I been up to? Pretty much running in circles -- doing things for everyone else. I know if I just keep doing the things on my list, they will eventually be done -- but I need to put some time in there for me too.

Yesterday, we had an unplanned trip to the local mall. Nicholas needed a gig bag to carry his guitar to and from school. I'm not getting fancy with the wording -- I just learned the term "gig bag" this weekend, so I needed to use it in a sentence! :-) Anyhow, we walked the entire mall, and even went into the big stores, but there was not one gig bag to be found. Actually, we only found one store that even had maybe three guitars for sale. Sigh. What's the deal with that? So off to ToysRUs across the way, and, voila! We found the "perfect" gig bag for the budding musician.

Tomorrow, Rick is having a golf outing with some old friends. They will be coming here for dinner afterwards.

Today, I'm prepping the food and tidying up the house.

Right now, I am going to get breakfast for myself. The thought of all these things to do just stirred up my appetite.

Cross your fingers it doesn't rain on the golfers -- or my baked ziti out on the new patio --tomorrow!

I just realized there's an awful lot of the "me, my, and, I" words in this post. Does that count as "me time"? I'm kidding. Off to breakfast.

Friday, September 4, 2009

half day...

How come it seems that when the kids have a half day of school, I work twice as hard? So, here I am sweating because I just finished the morning chores, and now I need a break before making lunch for those hungry little treasures of mine -- so they can go on having fun for the rest of the day.

I am not finding anything of true interest in the picture taking department -- so a picture of our preying mantis visitor will have to do for this post. I do have a picture of a grasshopper, but I'm finding this guy/gal a bit more photogenic.

We are continuing work on the patio this weekend -- so maybe I'll be able to take some updated pictures there -- or -- if I don't get enough exercise from my shoveling part of that project, I'll just enjoy the beautiful weather while taking a walk around the neighborhood.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm all...


He doesn't even want to keep me company.


I had better hurry up and do all the things I planned yesterday. The first day of school will be over before you know it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


We are being silly today. Tomorrow is the first day back to school. Yesterday was a fun -- unexpected -- shopping trip. Sofia is already busy working on the art canvas that she snuck into the shopping cart yesterday. Nicholas just said that he is going to "sit" all day. I am going to organize my day so that I can have a day off tomorrow -- after all, it will be Thursday!