Friday, November 30, 2012

Wha, Wha, What?!

I'm surprised to realize how many times a day I'm so pissed because someone is screaming, fighting, hitting or crying.  Time has gone by so fast since marriage and I was recently scorned by my hubby for saying I can't wait for this 'phase' to pass.  He thinks about how fast our babies have grown and I agree with him but, dang, I'm so over the crying. 

With all this daily rise in blood pressure, there are, of course, those moments.  The ones you might have heard of before, when your little one tells you he loves you, or you're beautiful, or you make the most delicious meals (seriously melts my heart). 

Buttered, peppered, Parmesan noodles with broccoli, and stewed beef

My husband makes fun of me for thinking (believing) most ailments can be cured by drinking water(headaches, blurry vision, constipation, etc.).  I do think  most people, by nature, are dehydrated.  A  busy life entails drinking coffee with breakfast, soda with lunch, coffee for an afternoon 'pick-me-up' and iced tea with dinner.  Where is the water?  Maybe there is water is pop, coffee and tea but I say, "FALSE!"  The caffeine and diuretic nature of the drink cancels out that hydration factor.  I know some people who never have a glass of water.  That really bothers me for some reason.  I'm not a dietitian, nutritionist or doctor, obviously, but OMG, please, please drink water if you want to lose weight, have a good poop, and have clear skin or less wrinkles!     

I have to rant before I get to my point.  My son came home from 1st grade the other day and told me how proud his teacher was of him.  Oh!  What happened?  "Well, (so-and-so) raised his hand and told Ms. Steiner his eyes were bothering him today and he couldn't see very well."  Apparently, before his teacher could respond, my son piped up, "You should drink some water.  You might need some water." 

I was convinced my son absolutely hated everything I said to him.  Has he heard me about this water thing?????  I'm so proud of my boy!  Now, I don't know how the story ends.  I heard the blurry-eyed kid left the room for a while (maybe a trip to the drinking fountain?) and I'm not sure if he felt better once he returned (not so easy getting accurate information from a six year old).

From the sounds of it, his teacher was quite impressed by what my son said.  I can picture her big eyes and wide grin. 
Cheese quesadilla, mixed veggies, celery with peanut butter
Out the mouths of babes, so I need to really be careful!!!! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

The School Bus Milestone

Never did I plan on taking such a long break from Lexi's.  The whole family just dove head first into summer and, boy, what a summer we had!  Though we are accustomed to the extreme, inconsistent weather, it almost felt like I no longer lived in Northeast Ohio with this year's heat and drought.  We ordered a pepper barrel online to use as an Eco-friendly water source for the garden.  It sits dry, unused, lonely.

Neglected Rain Barrel

We don't live in the biggest, coolest city but I am very impressed with the amount of free stuff I found within a 10 mile radius to keep the kids entertained the past few months.  We made great use of the area Metro Parks.  We hiked, biked, and illegally fed water fowl.  Simply tossing rocks into a creek provided many, many minutes of fun for us city folk.  We also visited and often would meet the cousins at various playgrounds.

The next city over has a free wading pool.  Many city websites list the parks, trails and playgrounds locations and amenities provided, including fees for the pools, if any.  The same city has a fountain for the children to get wet and play in.

We packed lunches several times to take to a park but their favorite picnic was held in our backyard, on an old blanket, several feet away from the patio table they eat at all the time!

PB&J 'flower,' with pepperoni face, celery, hot dog 'spider,' grapes, bell pepper, and dried apricots

Another popular summer spot was the library.  Besides the summer reading program with goals and incentives, they had free shows that included a Bubble Lady (she uses all sorts of household items to make bubbles and her grand finale is blowing a big enough bubble to fit a kid in), puppet shows, movies, and they even bring in a safari guy with live, exotic animals for the kids to meet and pet.

The kids also enjoyed walking around the fairs and festivals.  Our city has a free festival that ends with a light parade and fireworks.  If you are lucky enough to get a free local newspaper, I find so many activities and events in that more so than online. 

You can register and search for a nearby bowling alley on the website  I print a coupon that is sent every week via e-mail and my kids get to bowl free!  I just paid for shoes, which my youngest child was too small for anyway so I only paid $3.00 for both of my kids to bowl two games.  Lifting a six pound ball between 20-40 times wore them out more than any of the hiking and swimming did.  This was a great idea.

Other online searches provided me with science experiments using household items and educational games.  My son's kindergarten teacher sent him off with a folder full of worksheets to practice reading and math in order to keep prepared for first grade.  We worked one sheet most days to keep his skills fresh.

The kids also helped out a lot in the vegetable garden.  Starting in spring, they plant the seeds indoors, then help transfer, water, weed and harvest.  Previous years we have had difficulty keeping the animals from destroying our crops.  My hubby reinforced the fence but I think my 6 year old may have caught me several times praying for the animals to stay out!  His idea was to build a scarecrow.  Brilliant!  And we did it for free!  We found scrap wood in the hubby's workshop along with an old pair of jeans.  I had twine in my garden box along with scissors, and found an old shirt, gloves and hat, and safety pins ('cause I don't sew nothing, mmm-kay).  We needed straw to stuff him so the kids and I went to a nearby farm to purchase a small bale which would have been $3.00.  We waited a little bit while another customer was purchasing horse feed.  The owner offered us the straw for free since we were so patient (how nice)!  Once home, we assembled our guy, my son insisted on drawing his face which melted off the first rain we eventually got (those washable markers), and the scarecrow continued to not only keep the animals away, but successfully freaked our neighbors (and us) out several times.  He's a total creeper.

Basil and Thyme

Hot Peppers, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Green Beans

That was summer in a little more than a nut shell!  Today my big guy got onto the school bus for the very first time, by himself, someone driving him besides his parents, grandparents or Thea (Greek for Aunt).  He went heading out the door 40 minutes early this morning saying, "I'm going to go wait for the bus."  Thank goodness he wasn't nervous because I was.  I'm not walking him in to his classroom.  That is weird (I think my Mom walked my brothers into homeroom until they were like in tenth grade!)  He has to buy milk.  Where do I put the money?  He can buy his entire lunch if he wants to.  Oh no!  Hopefully he won't notice any of the other kids' lunches for a while (and this is the dumbest sentence I've written so far.)

First Day of First Grade Lunch

Alex picked everything that went into his lunch today.  I think his taste is much more sophisticated due to him choosing a grilled cheese made with Colby cheese, along with fresh peaches and pasta salad.  I can't wait to hear how today goes for him!


Monday, April 30, 2012

Classroom Treat for a Special Arrrrr!ccasion

Cupcakes seem to be an acceptable treat to share with classmates to celebrate a birthday.  My son wanted a pirate theme this year so we made up some 'pirate booty' cupcakes.  I used a boxed (WHAAAAAA?)  white cake mix and stirred some multi-colored sprinkles into the batter, then iced them using my Mom's recipe for Chocolate Fudge Icing.  The decorations include crushed graham crackers, pirate ship flags and a Rollo candy to add that sparkle.  My son came home that day with a couple names of the children who did not finish their cupcakes but he said they all enjoyed them very much!  Quick and easy and super-cute!

Then the birthday cake......

The best compliment came from my good friend's nine year old daughter, Maddie, "I don't know what your job is, but you should quit and go into the cake makin' business!"  I loved making this far from perfect looking cake, it just so happens I have the absolute best Chocolate Mocha Cake recipe in the world.  I got it from a cooking school owner/teacher when I attended some classes at the Western Reserve School of Cooking.

Participating in just a few basic cooking classes has completely changed the way I think and feel about food and of course, cooking!  If you love to cook or bake, I encourage you to take a class from a professional, because no television show or book can truly teach you the basic techniques like a real person.  Learning from grandma is wonderful too but I wouldn't always expect all the measurements to be available to take home with you!  If you hate to cook, I encourage you to take a class from a professional because you only need to learn a few tricks of the trade to make meal preparation easier, tastier, more healthy and affordable.  It will better your life, and impress your friends' kids if not your own family!

The Ship idea came from  I looked up several pirate cake ideas before deciding which bits and pieces to include in the final presentation.  I love the gold wrapped chocolate border and crushed graham crackers for a sandy look.

Soon after the birthday party, my soon-to-be three year old informed me he would like a Lightning McQueen cake.  With that being licensed material and all, I may have to leave that one up to the experts!  I'm sure he won't mind.  I'm caked OUT! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Break

As Spring Break is here for us, and the official first day of spring is fast approaching, I leave for you a bright, cheery lunch idea!

White rice, pinto beans, edamame, kiwi, carrots, cucumber stars, and corn

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


My friend, Maggie, sent me an adorable dinosaur sandwich cutter.  I'm starting to accumulate a nice little collection of lunch box tools and accessories.  To (somewhat) organize my pantry and drawers, I use these large, glass, screw-top containers.  They're great because I can easily find what I'm looking for.  These were bought to separate and store the kids' Halloween candy (I've been using them for myself since before Christmas so that gives you an idea of how long it took to devour candy that acually filled these massive jugs.  See grandparents?  The children are not that deprived).  ; )  I found these at a discount store for about $5 each.  It's a great investment due to the time it saves me when searching for specific items to turn ordinary lunches into SUPERSTARS {drop to one knee, extending both arms overhead}!  You may notice one is filled with lots of cookie cutters.  For some insane reason, I can't resist a cute cookie cutter shape.  Why do they have all those shapes for every season, occasion and celebration?  Why do I have to buy them for the 'just in case' chance I think I will need it?  How often do I make cut out cookies?  Ne----ver!  I hate making them.  It takes forever and then you have to ice them and decorate them.  By then, my clothes are out of style.  My mother is the Cut-Out-Cookie Queen.  Everyone loves her cut-outs and it is her signature cookie.  I'm not going to compete with that.  As for my shopping problem, I don't know what else to say about that.

Jurassic Nutrition
PB&J on homemade wheat bread with wheat thins over baby spinach, bacon wrapped asparagus, brocolli and blueberries

I use my cookie cutters for lunches.  I'll cut out shapes from bread and cheese and I use them to shape sticky rice.  Save the scrapes for making bread crumbs or for a dinner recipe if it calls for cheese.  I also cut out shapes from fully cooked pancakes and french toast for a change of pace.  You can buy metal shapes, with handles, for the griddle to create fun pancakes.  Fortunately, I can resist those, which makes total sense, since I make a lot of pancakes *sigh.*

One way to cope with the long, winter season is by baking bread in a cozy, warm kitchen.  I found and slightly modified this recipe for wheat bread on  I like it because it calls for honey.  This bread is easy to make although you have to let the bread rise and that can takes some time.  The kids enjoy helping knead the bread.  I do too.  It's very therapeutic.

Simple Whole Wheat Bread
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Ready In: 3 Hours
Servings: 36
3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45
degrees C)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1.In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
2.Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
3.Punch down, and divide into 2 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
4.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely