Friday, March 29, 2013

HOP Libs Blog Hop - A Word Game Blog Hop

Welcome to the inaugural HOP Libs Blog Hop created by CHill Thoughts and hosted at CHill Thoughts and The Wild and Wonderful World of Gingerssnaps!

Remember the word game Mad Libs from when you were a kid?  You and a friend would sit down with a Mad Libs book, one of you would ask the other to provide words to fill in the blanks in a story, and once all the blanks were filled you read your crazy story aloud and laughed like crazy?  Aaaah...those were the days!  Wouldn't it be so nice to go back to that, even if it was just for a minute?

Wouldn't it be great to get a blog post up today without a lot of effort and link up with other bloggers doing the same thing?  Now you can!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

EGGS! Hard-Cooking follow up and this year's Easter Eggs

Remember a couple weeks ago when I posted about how I hard cooked (instead of boiled) eggs in the oven?  Well, I've done it a few more times trying various methods and I've got some follow up for you!  AND today I dyed Easter eggs and I want to share my ideas and experience with you for that!
Remember how I told you that some of the hard coked eggs recipes I found online called for placing the eggs directly on the oven racks to bake?  Well, I tried it…and guess what happened!  Just as I was about to open the oven door to remove the eggs after baking them for thirty minutes, I heard a LOUD pop!  I was really worried about finding Egg Chernobyl when I opened the oven door!  Especially because it would mean that I would be forced to clean my very dirty oven!
Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but an egg had exploded!  One whole end of the shell had blown off and was partially lying on the rack next to the egg and shell shrapnel was (and still is) scattered all over the bottom of the oven.  Two other eggs had large cracks in them as well.
On the rack explosion
After removing the eggs to an ice water bath and then peeling them, I found that the eggs didn’t have the burn marks as dark as the original eggs in the muffin pan had.  Each egg had two marks where it had rested on the oven rack, but the marks were much lighter in color.  I liked that the “burn” marks on the eggs were lighter and smaller with this method, but only 75% of the eggs made it through baking without a crack!  And I really need to clean up the eggshell in the bottom of my oven now.

In a mini muffin panAfter that mess, a new thought came to me…mini muffin pan!  I tried it out and the eggs fit perfectly!  No more wobbling around like they did in the normal sized muffin pan.  I baked another dozen this way and the eggs turned out great!  Not a single egg cracked or exploded in the oven!  When I was moving the eggs to the ice water bath, I accidentally dropped one into the bowl, which then smashed into the egg it landed on and cracked them both.  I peeled the cracked ones and didn’t notice any “burn” marks at all!
So, I would say mini muffin pan is the way to go!

Over the years we’ve always used the PAAS tablets to dye eggs, and they were OK, but this year I didn’t buy any and instead decided to give the food color and vinegar method a go.  I used the 10 eggs I had from my chickens that had survived my clumsiness with the mini muffin pan baking experiment and also baked 6 store-bought white eggs to use.  I mixed white vinegar, water and food coloring in glass custard dishes and covered everything in newspaper and I was ready to go!  I decided to use red, orange, blue and green for my eggs.

Set up to dye
As soon as I placed the first eggs in the custard dishes, I realized that the eggs wouldn’t fully submerge and were going to end up with weird ovals on the side that was sticking out of the dye, so I transferred the eggs to pint glasses and poured the dye mixtures from the custard dishes into the glasses.  I used a plastic spoon and fork in each dish to lower the egg in as well as to remove them to check the progress of the color; when I removed the eggs to dry, I found that having the fork on the bottom of the egg helped to minimize the amount of dye mixture I transferred with the egg.  Once each egg had reached an intensity of color I was happy with, I removed the eggs to my handy-dandy drying rack.

One of the things I always hated about the PAAS kits was using the package with the egg cutouts to dry my eggs; it always left a ring around the egg where it rested on the package.  I found this suggestion on  Actually, Martha used foam and her pins were all even and perfect, but I’m the type of gal that modifies ideas to work with what I have on hand, so I used a flattened cardboard box.  I laid out a grid of 1” squares in just a minute or so and then went to work installing the pins.  After just a couple pins, I realized that my fingers were going to hurt if I kept pressing them in by hand.  So, I grabbed my “lady-size” hammer and went to work tapping the needles into place.  It worked great!  The only issue I had was those little “bubble drops” of dye mixture you can see in the photo above; they left a darker circle at the bottom of the first eggs I dyed.  After that, I started using a folded up paper towel to wick the drop out from under the egg.

I didn’t think that my brown eggs would turn out all that great, that’s why I went ahead and baked the white eggs I had as well.  But, after dying them all, I was amazed with how brilliant the colors were in my brown eggs!  I actually liked them much more!  In the photos below, the brown eggs are on the left and the white eggs are on the right.

fresh eggs finished          white eggs dyed
I really did expect that the white eggs were going to turn out much better and decided to add yellow and purple to the color mix.  But as you can see from the photos above and below, the orange was more of a pink on the white eggs and the purple was just plain ugly.  In the photo below, the white eggs are the six in the front.

all the eggs
While I was looking around on I found her method for making marbleized Easter eggs.  I decided to give it a try, because by this point I really wanted to dye a couple dozen more eggs!  This method basically requires taking eggs that are dyed and placing them into a contrasting or darker dye color that has a little olive oil added to it and swirled about by a fork.

When I placed the white egg that was dyed sort of pink into the blue dye with oil added, I realized immediately that “eyeballing” the olive oil wasn’t a great idea.  Basically the entire surface of my dye was covered by oil and it was impossible to achieve the “curlicues of oil on the surface” MS’s site describes.  So, I threw out the blue oil and dye mixture and used a TINY amount of oil to my green dye.  I found that I lack the ability to create oil curlicues, so I just kinda swished the oil around a bunch and quickly placed the egg in; turns out the green dye just wasn’t really dark enough to really show up on the blue egg.  The yellow egg marbled in green dye turned out really cool!

I really had fun dyeing eggs today!  It makes me excited to share the experience with Little Man next year.  I’ll definitely be trying the marbleized eggs again, they were really cool.  I played around some with crayons on eggs, too.  My artwork leaves quite a bit to be desired, but if you were good at drawing you could probably accomplish some great looks!

blue with crayon     orange with crayon

Today, I hopped over to Dysfunction Junction to join the Linkin’ with my Ladies hop; check it out for lots of great blogs as well as link ups for Bloglovin’.

I’m even more excited to announce that I’ve got plans for a new hop that I’m working on!  It’s going to be a fun and easy way to generate a blog post with minimal effort and then link up to share!  Be sure to stop back by on Saturday for the inaugural hop!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Monday – Spring hasn’t sprung…yet!

Happy Monday!  I hope that wherever you are, the hope of budding flowers and joy-filled Spring days seem a very real possibility to you…

I haven’t posted in over a week!  I’ve tried to get to the computer, but it’s been hectic around these parts.  Here’s a quick rundown of what’s been going on…

Monkey Man came here to stay for his college Spring Break.  He spent time assembling a trampoline that was given to us, playing with Hyper Dog and The Cuddler, and helping DH out on a few projects he’s working on.  Unfortunately, Monkey Man brought the creeping crud with him!  For him it was just a nagging cough that hadn’t gone away yet, for us it has become a nightmare!

Early last week Little Man was a happy toddler cutting two more molars and terrifying me with his knack for trying to use all his toys in ways they were never intended…

Healthy Little Man
 By Wednesday night it became apparent that Little Man was catching the crud.  He’s been a super-healthy baby; the only time we’ve taken him to the doctor for anything other than a regular check-up was when he had an allergic reaction to peanut butter.  So, watching him get progressively worse over the past few days has been torture.

Sick Little Man
 Currently, Little Man has a runny nose that flows faster than any runny nose I remember the older kids ever having (perhaps I’ve blocked out the colds from when the older kids were young).  The runny nose doesn’t seem to bother Little Man, but the cough – it’s simply horrible!  Verging on the seal-barking sound of a croup cough, Little Man cries every time he coughs.  He’s had a fever off and on and has just been generally miserable.  Since there’s really no medicine that can help him other that the ibuprofen I’ve been giving him, the only relief I’ve found for him is snuggling on the couch.  So, I’ve watched Nick Jr. until I thought my eyes were going to fall out of my head and my ears were going to seal themselves shut!  We’ve switched to watching Grey’s Anatomy from the very beginning of the series on Netflix.

Little Man has been sleeping in our bed every night because he wakes himself up coughing in his own bed.  Additionally, the only position he can seem to get comfortable in is laying on top of me with his head on my right shoulder and his knees dug into the left side of my neck.  Needless to say, it hasn’t been the most restful time of my life!  I’ve been fighting a mild version of the crud myself and now DH seems to have caught the full version and looks nearly as miserable as Little Man.

So, I’m clinging to the thought of Spring to get through these days (especially since we got about 6” of snow over the weekend and the temperature is in the single digits this morning)!  Spring will be here soon!  Birds will be chirping, buds will appear on trees and everything that is brown from winter will turn green and show signs of new life and new beginnings!  I know it’s coming…last week before the crud took over our lives I found leaves poking through the soil in our flower beds!

spring is coming
 And speaking of new beginnings and new life, I’m an Aunt!  My Sister-in-law gave birth to her and my brother's first child last Tuesday!  Little Nephew decided to surprise his parents by showing up a week early, on the last official day of winter.  And I’m so grateful that before the crud crept it’s way all around, DH and I got the chance to visit our new family member and his parents in the hospital.  He’s absolutely perfect!

So, HAPPY SPRING to you, even if it doesn’t look like spring here or where you are, yet


Today I'm joining two blog hops:  the Happy Monday Hop hosted at Crazy Casa K and the Mom's Monday Mingle hosted at The Naptime Review.   Check out the hops; it's a great way to find wonderful blogs to read and enjoy!


Is it spring where you are yet?  Got any tips for comforting Little Man (and DH) through the crud?  I'd love your input in the comment section below!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Who are you? -- TAG! I’m it…

WHO are you?  Every time I read that line, I picture the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland; blowing his smoke in Alice’s face and asking her, “AWhooo arre ayooou?”

Instead of a deep, thought-provoking post about who I am (or who I think I am), this is part of a fun get-to-know-each-other game!  I was tagged by Ginger over at The Wild and Wonderful World of Gingerssnaps.  There really aren't any rules except you answer twenty-five questions about yourself and then tag other bloggers to keep the fun going.

So, here we go, kiddos!  Twenty-five things you may or may not want to know about me!

1. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?  I was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia in 1974.  I lived just outside of Clarksburg until I was 10 - when our family moved to the state capital, Charleston.

2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER SOMEONE?  Although my first name is spelled weird, Cristyl instead of Crystal, I was named after the famous country singer Crystal Gayle.  My middle name is the same as my mother’s, so I suppose I was named after her as well.
3. IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, HOW MANY DO YOU HAVE?  I have three children I have given birth to and three children I have been step-mother to.  My children are Baby Girl (21), Monkey Man (19) and Little Man (15 months).  My first two step children are half-siblings of Monkey Man; they are Junior (25) and Flower (21).  DH’s son, College Boy (22), is my third step child and half-brother to Little Man.  You now have 3 minutes to diagram the sibling relationships!
4. HOW MANY PETS DO YOU HAVE?  I currently have two dogs, Hyper Dog and The Cuddler, 20 chickens and one rooster!  My chicken population has fluctuated a bit this spring as we lost a couple hens to sickness and injury and adopted a hen from another flock recently.
5. YOUR WORST INJURY?  **KNOCK ON WOOD**, I've never had a serious injury.  I've got tons of scars, though!  Once, during the summer after 6th or 7th grade, I was riding a friends’ spare bike and we were headed to Ginger’s house when the coaster brake came loose on the bike I was riding and cut my calf pretty good.  It took weeks to heal and I've still got a scar from that!  I’d take a picture and show you, but that would require either showing you how hairy my legs are or shaving them; and I’m not doing either!
6. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?  Is speaking sarcasm a talent?  I’m actually really bad at coming up with good things to say about myself, so I asked DH.  He laughed nervously and asked me if I was trying to trick him into something.  Then after a short explanation, he says I’m really good at working with electronics, computers and gadgets and that I am good at doing crafts.
7. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO BAKE?  I don’t bake often.  I love to cook, but I don’t really like measuring.  I’m one of those people that just starts throwing stuff together until it looks good and smells good.  Baking requires including all the correct ingredients in the correct proportions.  If I had to choose something, I would say I love to bake pepperoni rolls.  If you’re not from WV, you've probably never even had a pepperoni roll, but they’re delicious!  And they’re a food that’s traditionally West Virginian!  And some of the best pepperoni rolls in WV come from the area in WV where I was born and grew up.  Here’s a really cool article from the New York Times about pepperoni rolls in WV!

8. FAVORITE FAST FOOD?  My very favorite fast food would have to be In-N-Out Burger.  If we had one near us, I’d be a LOT bigger than I already am!

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?  Maybe.  How sober am I?  How much money am I getting paid if I do?
10. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?  I don’t think there’s just one thing I look for when I meet people.  I think I try to get to know them first.
11. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?  I cried a little to myself, but my heart was sobbing, when I learned about the struggles my step-daughter, Flower, is having right now.
12. ANY CURRENT WORRIES?  How much time have you got?  Seriously, if there’s something I do a lot, it’s worry.  Actually, maybe I should have listed that under my special talent.  Because I am a serious worrier.  I have a lot of life experiences that have led to me assuming the worst is going to happen, and I worry about nearly everything – big or small.  It’s something I’m working on.  I know it isn't healthy for me or anyone around me.
13. NAME 3 DRINKS YOU DRINK REGULARLY.  Un-sweet iced tea, water and PBR.
14. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK?  I really love the book The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.  But, I love to read and I've got lots of books I seriously love.  If I had to pick a favorite, The Good Earth is it so far.
15. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE A PIRATE?  Are there people who wouldn't?   Seriously, I’d love to be a pirate!  They are so self-assured, free-spirited and jolly!  And they’re good at making booby-traps!
16. FAVORITE SMELLS?  I really love the smell of the ocean, puppy breath, freshly baked bread, lemons and honeysuckle.  Oh, I love honeysuckle!

17. WHY DO YOU BLOG?  I blog because it feels good to spill my guts on you, the unsuspecting (and imaginary?) people who live in the internet.  When I sit down and start typing, I learn who I really am at the core of me; it just all comes out.  It’s amazing!
18. WHAT SONG DO YOU WANT PLAYED AT YOUR FUNERAL?  I don’t really like the idea of people crying over me.  If I had to decide right now…I’d say “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes, followed by “Another One Bites the Dust”.  Laughter through tears is one of my favorite emotions, and like I said, I just don’t want these people standing around crying over me!
19. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?  I have to pick just one thing?  Seriously?  I have some big self-loathing issues that I’m working on.  So, one that drives me crazy but isn’t big and dark:  I am really hard to surprise.  I like surprises, but nearly every time someone in my family tries to surprise me I find out or figure out what’s up.  I hate it.
20. FAVORITE HOBBY?  Again, how am I supposed to pick just one?  I love to knit, sew, make stained glass and do nearly anything crafty.  If I had to pick only one, I guess I’d choose sewing.
21. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A FRIEND?  Honesty, reliability and a great sense of humor.  If you’re honest and have a sense of humor, I think everything else falls into place.
22. NAME SOMETHING YOU'VE DONE THAT YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU'D DO.  I've done a LOT of things that I never actually thought I would!  I moved out of WV, I remarried after my first (horrible) marriage ended in divorce, I had Little Man after the other kids were out of the house and I was 37!
23. FAVORITE FUN THINGS TO DO?  I love to go camping, whitewater rafting, skiing, work on projects around our house with DH and just veg-out in front of the TV.

24. ANY PET PEEVES?  Holy moly do I have pet peeves!  I HATE bad grammar – both spoken and written.  In fact, maybe I should go back and amend the question about the first thing you notice about someone, because if someone uses poor grammar I notice it right away.
25. WHAT'S THE LAST THING THAT MADE YOU LAUGH?  OH my gosh!  Monkey Man is home from college for spring break, so Baby Girl came over last night to see him and have dinner with us.  Baby Girl was helping make dinner and was trying to assemble her famous chicken cordon blue, except that we discovered as she began assembly that we only had one toothpick!  SO, being the resourceful people that we are, we found shish kabob skewers that I cut into toothpick(ish) length and Monkey Man then sharpened with a pencil sharpener!  The real oh-my-gosh-I’m-going-to-pee-my-pants laughing began when I realized our dinner looked sort of like chicken voodoo dolls!  Seriously, I was sober and it was hilarious!  And I took pictures!

 To continue the fun, I'm tagging the following ladies:

Their blogs are fun, entertaining and they're people I'd love to read more about!  Check them out!

Friday, March 15, 2013

High Five for Friday - March 15th, 2013

I've mentioned it before and I’ll say it again:  I LOVE Fridays!  Even though I’m a stay-at-home-Mom these days and technically there is no down time, DH is home more during the weekend and we get more family time together.

Time to eat big weekend breakfasts together and make progress on our gajillion projects we have going at all times.  This weekend Monkey Man is coming home from college for spring break.  Like a typical teen, he advised me only 3 days before his break that he would be coming here Saturday morning.  I’m looking forward to hanging out with him and having a few extra hands to get stuff done this coming week.  Plus, Little Man likes hanging out with his big brother.

I've got movies on reserve and ready to be picked up at the Redbox and plans for a beautiful weekend!  The weather is supposed to be lovely for at least the next few days, and it’s already a balmy 65°F here today!  Baby Girl plans to visit and suggested we grill out.  So, I have a lot of hope that we will have some great fun and perhaps some pictures to share.

Today I am joining the High Five for Friday blog hop hosted at From My Grey Desk.  My high five are below.  If you have a few minutes, scoot over and check out her page and some of the happy high five posts that have linked up today!

  1. Both Hyper Dog and The Cuddler were sprayed by a skunk first thing Monday morning!  OH my did they stink!  Fortunately, I had the supplies on hand to de-stink them!  This photo is right after their bathes.
  2. I’m really intentionally focusing on appreciating the time I have at home with Little Man.  I love this photo because I captured us holding hands in the reflection of his sunglasses; for me, it symbolizes our closeness.
  3. I've been creating graphics for the blog with encouraging sayings.  While I hope that others find them inspirational; creating them and reading them are really good for my heart and soul!
  4. DH bought me a miniature rose plant for Valentine’s day.  While I love living plants and I love roses, I've never had much luck keeping miniature roses alive.  One month later and this one is not only still alive, but it’s getting a few buds!  This truly makes my heart happy!
  5. Oh, this weather we’re having!  It’s so good for us all.  Little Man and I spent a couple hours at our neighborhood playground with friends yesterday and for the FIRST TIME EVER Little Man slept 8 1/2 hours straight last night!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Be who you are! - CHill Thought Thursday

Today’s CHill Thought:

Be who you are

It promises to be a very busy day around here today.  I've been slacking in my domestic responsibilities to spend time researching how to be a better blogger and how to make my blog more appealing.  I can ignore the mess no longer and need to get to it!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words…

  1. My house is a mess!
  2. I still have groceries from yesterday’s shopping trip to put away.
  3. My chickens could use some attention!
  4. I have fresh eggs to clean and put away.
  5. It’s supposed to be a gorgeous day here today with temperatures in the upper 60s!  I’m taking Little Man out to enjoy it!


Today I’m joining the Linkin’ with My Ladies blog hop hosted at Dysfunction Junction…hop over and check out her page as well as all the other great blogs linking up!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Try it Tuesday! Hard Cooked Eggs in the Oven

I may have a Pinterest addiction.  Addiction or not, Pinterest is a great place to find all kinds of neat ideas: from cool craft projects to new, easier ways to accomplish tasks you've been doing forever.  If you’re on Pinterest, you've likely seen the photos of whole eggs in the shell in muffin pans going in the oven to be hard cooked (rather than boiled).  I've always been a curious sort, and I’m more likely than some to give crazy ideas a try.  Pinterest is like a drug dealer to my curiosity crack addiction!  Despite fears that trying it may result in exploded eggs all over my oven, I decided to give hard cooked eggs in the oven a go!

As I've mentioned before, I keep chickens.  In the past our chickens’ egg production slowed in the winter to a level that we barely had enough eggs for our family.  This year, however, my chickens are producing between 7 and 10 eggs a day!  I sell some of them locally, give away some to neighbors and family, and we've still got more than we can eat for breakfast.  Hard boiled cooked eggs would be a great solution!

So, I did some Google-ing and Pinterest searching and read a variety of instructions available on the internet.  I was looking for the “My oven is coated in exploded eggs” warning, but never found it.  I found an excellent explanation of the process at A Girl & Her Mutt.  She suggests that this is a great method for cooking a large batch of eggs and places her eggs directly on the oven racks with a cookie sheet below “just in case” an egg cracks.  I also found a recipe that claims to be Alton Brown’s Hard Cooked Egg Recipe; this, too, called for placing the eggs directly on the oven racks with cookie sheet back-up.  While I was up for an adventure and willing to deal with the consequences if the worst (egg Chernobyl) should happen, I decided to go with the muffin pan containment system I’d seen on Pinterest countless times.

Here’s what I did:

I gathered a dozen eggs and my muffin pan.  Isn't it a wonderful coincidence that a dozen eggs fit perfectly in my muffin pan?

The 30 minutes bake time includes the time it takes the oven to preheat to 325F.  So just pop in the muffin pan of eggs, turn on the oven, set a timer and go do something for 30 minutes!

My stove and oven control knobs live in a bowl on my countertop for now; since Little Man thinks that changing the settings when we aren’t looking is a brilliant plan!  I’m pretty sure that an adjustment in the oven temperature in either direction will lead to disaster.

After 30 minutes of baking, I was anxious to see if egg Chernobyl had occurred.  Although, as you can tell, my oven could do with a good cleaning (I have an “easy” oven cleaning method pinned for future reference)!  Thankfully, only one egg had a minute crack in it!

I had read that the eggs might make popping noises while they bake, but I didn’t stick around to hear if they did.  So, really, go do something and just listen for your timer!  You are safe from Egg Chernobyl!  Also, it’s normal for the eggs to have these spots when they are removed from the oven.  No worries, they come off in the ice water bath.

Remove the eggs from the oven and prepare a bowl full of ice water (I’m in Colorado and have a well, so ice wasn’t needed in mine); move the eggs to the water using tongs.

After about 5 minutes in the ice water, my eggs were cool enough to handle, so I began peeling them.  I had read that the eggs would have marks from being placed on the oven racks, most of mine had several marks where the egg had come in contact with the muffin pan.  While it isn’t pretty, you can’t taste it – I suppose if you were making deviled eggs with these you may want to carefully slice the brown area off the egg before use.  Also, placing the eggs on the oven rack would result in two evenly spaced marks instead of my unpredictable muffin pan marks!

Now, in my research I had been promised a cooked egg without the ugly green yolk that you sometimes get while boiling eggs and that the egg wouldn’t be rubbery.  As you can see, no grinch-colored yolks here!  And they tasted great!  Definitely worth repeating!

I realize that baking eggs for 30 minutes technically takes about twice as long as boiling eggs does; however, this method would be great if you needed several dozen eggs cooked.  Also, maybe it’s just me, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten the eggs boiling and then forgotten about them!  In fact, I’m pretty sure the over-cooking is what leads to the green hard yolks and rubbery whites in boiled eggs.

Regardless, the main reason I wanted to give this a try was simply to satisfy my curiosity.  Consider it quenched!  No egg Chernobyl and a new way to cook my chicken’s excess eggs for use in egg salads, deviled eggs or simply as a quick and easy snack. YUM!


Today I'm joining a blog hops hosted at The Life of a Not So Ordinary Wife and Adventure into Domesticland.  If you've got a few minutes, you should hop over and link up, or just check out all the great blogs that have joined the hops!  It's a great way to discover wonderful blogs and support other bloggers!

Happy Tuesday!  Hope your day is a wonderful one!

Leave a comment below if you have a Pinterest Pin you want me to try!  Maybe you'll see it posted here next Tuesday!

Monday, March 11, 2013

It’s the Little Things! (Happy Monday & Project Optimism)

As I cruise through life lately, I’ve been finding I’m generally happier and more grateful for what I’ve got and where I am (Not always – Sorry, DH – more often, though).  I’ve mentioned it before, and feel the need to mention it again because I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate what Happify is bringing to my life!


Happify?  What’s HappifyHappify is a website that is dedicated to the science of being happy and helping it’s members attain higher levels of satisfaction in their lives by focusing on five skills areas:  savor, thank, aspire, give and empathize.  Happify is a social experience as well!  As you complete fun activities in your Track, an area of focus that you choose such as “Nurture My Body and Soul”, “Appreciate What I Have” or “Cope Better with Stress”, your completed activities are posted for others to appreciate and comment on.  You have the choice to complete activities privately rather than in a group experience, but a big part of the experience is encouraging others and being cheered on yourself.  This is a supportive group of people!  And with everyone focused on becoming happier, there’s none of the drama and back-biting you might see on other social websites.
When you join Happify, you answer a short series of questions to gauge your happiness level.  Every two weeks you reassess your happiness level and get to see your improvement.  Yesterday was my two week reassessment and I was thrilled to see an almost 10 point jump!

March 10 Happify score
I’m working on being a happier me, for myself and everyone around me!  Happify is helping me get there!  I’d love it if you join me on the Happify journey; feel free to email me for an invite, click any one of the links above or click the button on the right to go to Happify and learn more!

Through a fellow bloggers and Happify member I learned about the HAPPY MONDAY Link Up hosted at Crazy Casa K.  It’s a great idea and a chance to read more positive, happy blog posts.  So, scoot over to Crazy Casa K and check out other bloggers that have linked up for HAPPY MONDAY!  Today’s theme is “Something Small” and I believe my Happify experience and journey fit right in line!  It’s something small I’m doing that’s making a huge impact in my life!  And that makes me incredibly OPTIMISTIC!

What small things make you happy and optimistic?  I’d love to hear all about it, so please leave a comment below!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Liebster Award: Recognition, Encouragement and Paying it Forward

Welcome to the weekend! I’m so excited for the lazy mornings and the smell of bacon frying in the kitchen! This weekend, my plan is to get some stuff done; the first is to get this blog post finished and up as I’ve been putting it off since Monday! In all fairness, I’ve had a busy week. But it’s time to get this going...

CONGRATULATIONS to me and my little blog! We’ve been nominated by Ginger over at The Wild and Wonderful World of Gingerssnaps for a Liebster Award! What is a Liebster Award you ask? Well, of course, I did some research ala Google and discovered that Liebster is an award that really isn’t an award! Sort of.

pink liebster

It is said that the award is of German origin (most likely). The word Liebster translates as “dearest” with its root translating as “dear, good, sweet, kind, nice, lovely, endearing, beloved, kindly, cute, pleasant, valued.” How wonderful to receive an award from a friend and fellow blogger, especially an award with descriptors such as beloved and valued!
So how is it not an award, you ask? Well, there’s no granting agency or governing body; it’s given to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers from other bloggers who have received the award. There are no real requirements for receiving the award other than to be a blogger with a small following. The Liebster doesn’t recognize a specific achievement or your performance, except that the awarding blogger has decided you have potential and are deserving of encouragement and support. Unlike most awards, when you receive it there’s a set of rules you have to follow (see below). The best difference of all, though, is that the Liebster award is one you accept with the full intention of paying it forward!

So, while the Liebster doesn’t fit any of the standard guidelines for awards, it is a statement of encouragement and support from your peer. That means more to me than any of that other stuff! A HUGE thank you goes out to Ginger for her support an encouragement in building my blog and keeping it going! And another huge THANK YOU to all of you who stop by and read!

I’d really enjoy it if you chose to stick around for the long haul by becoming a follower of the page. There are 4 ways to follow me: (1) by clicking the “Join this site” button on the right, (2) by “Liking” my facebook page, (3) follow me on twitter, or (4) follow me on Pinterest.

Random facts about me:
  1. My first car was a 1974 VW Bug.
  2. I don’t really like chocolate (I’ll eat it and I enjoy it occasionally if it has nuts in it, but overall I could go the rest of my life without chocolate with no real effort.)
  3. My Dad died in a motorcycle accident on September 11th when I was 6 years old; 33 years later and I still miss him like crazy!
  4. I have OCD tendencies and do weird things like alphabetize our DVD collection and create spreadsheets listing all the titles. And I arrange the cans in my pantry so that the labels all face outward.
  5. When I’m having a hard time falling asleep at night, I “sing” Don McLean’s song American Pie to myself (sometimes without saying an actual word aloud).
  6. I hate to cry in front of people. So much so that I once dropped out of a college PE class because I cried (when I’d been accidentally injured) in class.
  7. I collect fortune cookie fortunes.
  8. I really like gadgets and new technology, so much so that DH sometimes calls me Gadget Girl.
  9. I adore butterflies! So much so that the only thing that I had to do at my wedding was have a butterfly release… it was a magical moment!
  10. I love office supplies! Buying them is like preparing for organizational war, which makes my OCD side a happy girl!
  11. I also have an unhealthy love for craft supplies! I really enjoy being crafty, but all of my craft supplies have been packed up since we moved to Colorado…I finally got DH to bring them up to the house for me this morning and they’re waiting for me to sort through them and organize them – all EIGHT crates full!
Questions from my nominating blogger, Ginger at The Wild and Wonderful World of Gingerssnaps:
  1. Where were you born? Clarksburg, West Virginia
  2. What is your most favorite thing from childhood? My friends! There are a few friends from my childhood that I am still in touch with, several I reconnected with thanks to Facebook, and those relationships are what I cherish the most from childhood.
  3. Why did you start blogging and why do you blog now? Is it the same reason you started blogging? I started blogging at the encouragement of a friend who was a blogger. I keep blogging because I’ve found that it’s a great way to find out how I’m really feeling about something. If I sit down in front of the computer and just start typing, my real feelings just magically show up on the screen!
  4. What is your favorite silly made up word? I’ve been thinking about this all week and I can’t really come up with one…my OCD tendencies don’t allow me to use made-up words! If I HAD to come up with one, it would be thingamajig.
  5. Who is your favorite leading man/woman? Actor or actress? Ummm…I like a LOT of them for a variety of reasons. It always depends on the role and the story. I’m really enjoying Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling lately.
  6. Who is your favorite heroine /hero from any book and why? Somehow growing up, though I loved to escape in a book, I managed to miss reading all the literary classics (but reading them is on my bucket list). Of my favorite books I’ve read, Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Laura Ingalls from The Little House on the Prairie series, and Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden a a few of my favorites.
  7. Have you gotten to know any of your fellow bloggers personally? I only know one blogger in real life and it’s been 20+ years since I saw her in person!
  8. What is your favorite holiday? I really like Thanksgiving because the house is full of the wonderful smells of everything cooking, everyone hangs out and has fun and there’s none of the stress of finding the perfect gift or anything. In 2011, Little Man was born the day before Thanksgiving and we came home from the hospital on Thanksgiving – Baby Girl cooked her first Thanksgiving meal that Saturday at our home for us. Afterwards, she gave us the biggest compliment when she told me “Cooking Thanksgiving was hard! You and Daddy always made it look so easy and fun.” I feel so blessed that my kids have memories like that!
  9. Who is your role model and why? When I was 6 months old, a family friend became my babysitter; she took care of me until we moved away when I was 10. She was like a mother to me. She treated my brother and me like we were part of her family and heaped love on us. To this day we stay in touch. She’s just one of the most wonderful people I know: never curses, always kind, loving, accepting and she’s a Godly woman. When I think about the kind of person I need to be, it’s always based on her example.
  10. What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you there yet, and are you what you wanted to be as a child? When I was younger, I always thought I would be a teacher. When I went to college, I majored in Elementary Education. But, I’m not there yet…hopefully some day. Right now being a mommy is like the best teaching job on the planet!
  11. What is your favorite quote? My favorite quote for the last few years has been “Where there is great love there are always miracles!” It’s a good reminder to strive to make all the love in my life great and wait for the miracles I know are coming!

 My nominations for the Liebster Award:

My questions for my nominees:
  1. What is your favorite color? Any particular reason why?
  2. If you had to name a defining moment in your life, what would it be?
  3. If you could choose a super-hero power, what would you pick? Why?
  4. What is your favorite book?
  5. Do you have a hobby/hobbies? What is it?
  6. What’s the farthest from home you’ve ever travelled?
  7. What’s the most important thing to you on your bucket list?
  8. Could you live as a vegetarian? Vegetarians and vegans: Would you ever choose to eat meat? Why?
  9. What’s you favorite website?
  10. Are you right or left handed? If you could change, would you?
  11. If you could pick your own name, what would it be? OR, what is your nickname?

Friday, March 8, 2013

FRIDAY FUNNY - Life Lessons from Little Man

I just LOVE Fridays!  The doorway to the weekend, Friday holds all the hope of a fun-filled peaceful weekend; or a weekend of progress on projects at home; or just a few relaxing days to recharge.

What better way to begin the weekend than by posting funny stories, experiences, pictures... 

Little Man shares a list of life lessons with you today for our first FRIDAY FUNNY!

By Little Man

1.    Never miss an opportunity to dump water! Or juice. Or milk. On the floor, on yourself, on the highchair, in the toy box, on the dogswherever!  Be creative!
2.   Never turn down the chance to play in a puddle.  It doesnt matter if its your pee, the dogs pee, water, juice or milk!
3.    Sing! You dont have to know the words or even be able to pronounce them!
4.   All living things that are not people are dogs.  Your parents clearly do not understand this concept.  Love them anyway.
5.   All dogs are GOOD dogs!  Be sure to tell them!
6.   Your dogs will love you and tolerate you better if you share your food with them.  Especially the green stuff!
7.   Peeing on the floor is acceptable behavior.  Assuming you didnt remove your diaper yourself.
8.    If you pee on the floor, see lesson #2.
9.   If splashing in a puddle of your own pee on the floor, be careful!  It gets really slippery!
10.If you land flat on your back after slipping in a puddle of your pee on the floor, NOW is the time to call her Mamma!  Shell pick you up and love on you for sure!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dog, dog, dog, NO! -OR- Surprise! This is YOUR life!

Ever feel like you're living in the twilight zone?  I do.  My life is always surprising me with how things work out.  For example, if you had told me five years ago that I would be  stay-at-home mom of a 15-month-old living in Colorado and a, I would have laughed at you!  Five years ago I was soooo close to having the kids grown and out the door to their adult lives; it was just dangling there in front of me - FREEDOM!

And then time flies by and they grow up and move out and all of a sudden I catch myself wondering if "freedom" is what I really want.  Craziness inspires me to talk to DH and get his take on the situation.  We toss the idea around for a while and then decide to go for it!  To roughly quote DH, "We're boring and we're used to raising kids.  Why not?"  Why not indeed!

So here I am, having conversations with Little Man that mostly consist of one or two words; Dog being the primary word!  It's almost like Little Man speaks an entire language made of one word and you should know what he means simply by the inflection.  "Dog, dog dog dog doooog DOG!"  Every now and then he'll throw a "Good dog" or "No!" in there just to try and trick me!

When it's time for morning nap, the conversation picks up a notch:  "DOG!  Dog, dog dogdogdog dogdogdogdog doooog DOG!"  As I rock Little Man and silently will him to close his eyes and SLEEP, visions of dogs dance through his head.  He abruptly sits up to see what Hyper Dog and the Cuddler are doing.  "Dog!"  "They're laying down to rest, too.  It's time for their nap," I assure him.  The Cuddler groans from the dark corner of the couch.  Little Man lies back against me, nuzzling his head into me and gently lowering his eyelids.  This is my favorite moment, as he snuggles in and lets out a soft sigh a smile crosses his lips; and he drifts off to sleep.  I wait a few minutes and take time to appreciate that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be right now.  Amazing!


40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge UPDATE

I had an amazingly productive day yesterday!  DH was home sick and was able to keep an eye on Little Man while I scurried around the house photographing items to sell on a local Facebook Sell/Swap group.  I posed a bunch of items for sale and managed to actually sell quite a few!  Because we live out in the boonies, I have to send the items to work with DH for the buyers to stop by and pick them up from him.  He left with a full car this morning!  I sold what I'm equating to 14 bags of stuff and brought in $75 in the process!  DOUBLE WIN!  I'm feeling super motivated and ready to get this stuff going.  And the Super Duper Bonus:  DH actually got excited watching me do it and he's ready to get rid of more stuff now, too!  It's so liberating!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Late to bed, early to rise makes Mommy a Rock Star?

It's not yet 8:30 on this lovely Saturday morning and I've already had a busy day! As I laid in bed at 5:30 this morning, I thought about this post and how it might come together. I wondered if others would find what I was doing at that particular moment humorous or insane. Do you even realize what a Rock Star Mom I am?

You see, at 5:30 this morning I had a 15-month-old Little Man draped across my chest, wiggling and trying to get comfortable; his head on the very furthest point of my right shoulder, his ribs pressed against my chin. This is one of Little Man's favorite early morning sleeping positions - and one of my least favorite. But, at this point of the night/morning, I'll do nearly anything for just a few more minutes of sleep! Little Man hasn't yet accomplished the most coveted of early childhood goals - sleeping through the night. That's right, for the last 15 months we've been waking up a minimum of twice per night to tend to our son's nighttime needs; be it a fresh diaper, a sip of milk or some cuddling. I'm exhausted! DH is exhausted! Little Man is as happy as a little lark!

I read about other children who sleep through the night early on and I feel an envy that isn't easy to admit. I see other moms - moms who don't rely on caffeine to make it through the day and who don't have dark circles under their eyes - and I fantasize about changing places, if only for a few nights! I hear from moms whose children nap for hours during the day and sleep all night - I long for the time these moms must have to clean their kitchens, catch up on laundry, browse the internet without a toddler yanking on their pant leg!

Little Man is my last baby. The only one born since I became a full-fledged mature woman. My last shot at being the Mom I want to be. This time around I have access to the best parenting advice out there and the opportunity to thoughtfully and intentionally parent. I've tried to follow all the expert advice that will help me mold Little Man into a secure, confident man some day; exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months, making my own baby food purees, carefully introducing each new food, reading to him, talking to him constantly, providing all kinds of engaging and stimulating activities and play, rocking him to sleep each night and comforting him as soon as he alerts us to his distress, breastfeeding beyond his first birthday, cloth diapering since I became a stay-at-home Mom.

So why is my guy still not sleeping through the night? The experts say that every child is different and that many children do not sleep through the night without waking until well into their second or third year of life, regardless of the parents' efforts. This information is supposed to comfort mommies like me, and to an extent it does - this is normal, to be expected - that's good. But it doesn't help me get any more sleep or function during the day any better! Actually, the more I think about it, the more I'm amazed I manage to get done all I do! I'm a damn Rock Star!

I've been reading a series of books, with *ahem* Shades in the title, over the past few months. It's funny to me that I was thinking about the story-line of the book, which focuses on a young successful lady that meets a gazillionaire who happens to be extraordinarily good in bed, and I realized that of all the things the main character in the book gets - new cars, luxury vacations, amazing sex, homes in all the best vacation destinations - there's really only one thing I truly envy. She gets to sleep through the night! I'm not sure why I'm even continuing to read the series because it's actually not all that interesting to me. I'm on the last book, though, and I feel like I need to see this through to the end. Is it bad that when I read last night that the main character is unexpectedly pregnant, I felt a little joy at the thought she'll soon be sleep-deprived too? Nah...not bad at all! Welcome to the tired mommy club Anastasia!

Back to my bedroom this morning... At 6am, Little Man let out the first toot - with his hiney just inches from my face. I thought "This will be hilarious in a blog post someday!" Then, Little man let out a few more toots and I began to fear the worst was about to happen. I managed to relocated his stink-emitting little body to my side just as the squishy-gross undeniably nasty noise happened.  So just after 6am I was changing my first of many stinky diapers. I can't help but wonder if Little Mans's sudden need to fill his diaper multiple times this morning has anything to do with him chewing on the dogs' toys yesterday. Yes, I am a rock star of a Mom! A very tired Rock Star...


On an entirely separate note, I'm excited to announce that I have been chosen as the guest blogger over at The Wild and Wonderful World of Gingerssnaps in celebration of her 4,000th page view! I'm excited for her at reaching this milestone! Having just broken the 130 page view mark myself, I can't imagine how much thought, effort and time in front of the computer went into earning those 4,000 visits! W3G is a fun blog to read and follow and I encourage you to hop on over and read some of her stuff and check out my guest post while you're there!
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