Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Counting Easter Blessings

Happy Easter Week! It's a busy time. I'm trying to juggle a lot lately, so blogging continues to take a back seat. I wish I could spend more time here, but alas, life gets in the way. 

My tween has been busy-busy; she is currently getting ready for her school's Invention Convention and is involved in her school play, so I'm trying to manage the additional activities in addition to our regular happenings. 

And now the Easter Bunny is getting ready to arrive! He's ready! He's finished his shopping! And we even have new baskets, as you can see in the photo above. I have been really wanting to splurge on the Pottery Barn baskets personalized with the kids names, but it would cost a small fortune for a once-a-year use for three kids, so I have resisted. I recently came across these baskets at Michael's,  and they were priced at 40 percent off. They cost me $25-ish for all three, and I think they are a cute look-a-like. I bought the little tags in the dollar area, and tied them on for an additional accent. I would love to figure out how to add their names to the little glitter wooden shapes, but I'm still working on that.

The baskets are not huge, but that's OK -- neither is the Easter Bunny's budget! My Easter rule is that the Bunny only brings what fits in the basket. Easter is not extravagant nor crazy-candy filled -- I'm sure the bunny will drop off things like Annie's bunny-shaped crackers, a small necklace, a toy car or two, a book or DVD, etc. A half-dozen inexpensive items with a chocolate bunny or two in the mix. Oh, and he hides a few plastic eggs around the house, with coins or small candy treats or little items. A half-dozen eggs per child is the basic rule of our Bunny visitor.

If you are still searching for last-minute Easter ideas, feel free to click on these links to my articles on Yahoo Voices: 

I've tried to create helpful content for you! And everything I write is from my own experience and interests. In fact, I'm hoping to put my Babka recipe to good use tomorrow; we've read Easter books on a daily basis; enjoyed hot cross buns; cookie baking and egg dying (in my "frugal" article) will happen in the next two days too. I hope to make this recipe:

It's Bunny Cookie Bark, and you can find the recipe here. It's another Pinterest discovery, of course. My love affair with Pinterest continues!

I hope you have a Happy Easter. I know that I have been counting my blessings more than usual lately. And I am officially sick of winter. There is still bits and bobs of snow on the ground here in New England, and I am really ready for sun, gardens, flowers, green grass and warmth. It's time, Mother Nature!

See you next week! Enjoy your holiday, and cherish every moment with your loved ones.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Candied Apples

Big Girl had a cooking class with Girl Scouts recently, and one of the recipes was for "Candied Apples." They were so good, we had to recreate them at home.

The recipe is very simple, and gives the taste of candy apples without the mess. You only need apples, water and Red Hot cinnamon candies. It took me forever to find those candies! I think I looked at four grocery stores before finding bags of them in Dollar Tree.

To make the apples, you dissolve one cup of Red Hots in 1/2 cup of water in a non-stick frying pan over low heat. It takes a while to dissolve them, so just turn on the stove top, and stir the bright red candies in the water every now and then.

While you are waiting, peel and cut up six small-to-medium size red apples into slices. Once the candies are dissolved, add the slices and cook over low heat for 45 minutes, turning every now and then.

Let the slices cook a bit and eat plain, or serve with vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream. They are delicious!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"The Lifeboat"

The Lifeboat

I had an opportunity last night to hear author Charlotte Rogan speak about her book, "The Lifeboat." Although I am ashamed to say I have not read the book -- I had to cover her talk for my job -- I am intrigued and would like to read it.

Rogan is a late-in-life published author -- this is her debut novel, and she is in her late 50s. She has found smashing success with this book, which was on the New York Times bestseller list, and I find her story quite interesting. For starters, she is a mom of multiples -- she has grown triplets, and started writing decades ago when her kids were small when her lawyer-husband was transferred to Texas. She didn't know many people initially, but used her lack of friends to turn to her passion for writing.

"The Lifeboat" is narrated by a young lady who is on trial for a crime committed on a lifeboat after a luxury liner sinks. The castaways spend 21 days on the sea, during which many questions and events unfold.

The inspiration for the story of “The Lifeboat” was found in one of her lawyer husband's law text. Rogan spotted a story about a 19th-century case where starving castaways, stranded on a lifeboat for weeks with little food, decide to kill and eat another passenger. They were rescued four days later and convicted of murder. Her book does not include the cannibalism aspect, but will appeal to fans of survival stories and anyone with a penchant for all-things-Titanic.

Rogan's speech definitely started a few wheels spinning in my head. If she can write with triplets, I'm sure I can write with twins!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My goofy kids on St. Patrick's Day, 2012
Happy St. Patty's Day everyone!

I know I've been slightly absent from posting lately, but I've been busy, and I have many work assignments so this type of writing has taken a backseat to the "paying" jobs. Please continue to check in. I may not post every weekday for a while, but I will update regularly.

If you are still looking for some St. Patrick's Day ideas, here's my post from last year.

In the meantime, savor your corned beef and cabbage, wear some green, and take time to enjoy some blessings with your family!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A New Pope, and A New Hope

So we have a new Pope!

I watched the whole spectacle yesterday afternoon, hoping to be home to witness it. And I was. I have to say, I do love the pomp and circumstance and tradition and ritual of the church. It is beautiful.

Pope Francis gives me a good vibe and I like that. I like his simpleness. And I like his new chosen name. (Who doesn't have a statue of St. Francis in her garden?) I hope that the name is a sign that he will reform and fix my church. I know it is wishful thinking that he will modernize the church, but I can hope. I do think priests should be allowed to marry; women should be allowed higher roles in the church; that divorced people are not "punished" because sometimes it is not a choice to be divorced; that the sex scandals of the church not be covered up. There are so many things that can be improved in my faith and would increase the numbers of people who would continue to be connected to the Catholic Faith.

So we begin a new era. Love live and God bless Pope Francis. The world looks to you now.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting for a New Pope

Vatican workers made final preparations on the Sistine Chapel on March 9.
Photo courtesy of
Vatican workers set up chimney on Sistene Chapel.
The chimney will emit black or white smoke,
which will tell the public if a pope is elected.
Yesterday, the papal conclave began to determine who the next Pope will be. It was an exciting day for Catholics. I personally hope they will pick someone who will modernize the church. Times have changed, and the church could use some change.

I wrote a very basic article for Yahoo Voices on this whole shindig. My intent was to break it down to basics so parents could answer questions for kids. Find it on the link, and perhaps it will help you.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Living in OZ

I took Big Girl to see "Oz: The Great & Powerful" yesterday. She really wanted to see it. I was indifferent walking in the theater, and in love waking out. It was fabulous.

I didn't think I would like it. But the movie was such tribute to "Wizard of Oz," with witty, smart parts, and I just adored it. It was very well done.

The deeper themes of the flick really hit home for me. How good does overcome evil. How believing in oneself can lead to great things -- as can others boosting one's self-esteem by believing in one as well. How one, with work, can change.

I loved "Oz," and so did Big Girl. If you have a chance to escape to the Emerald City soon, dodge some flying monkeys and head on over there.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I'm in the Hot 500

I got a message yesterday from Yahoo Voices stating that I was in the top 500 rankings of contributors for the month of February, which means I had quite a bit of page views during last month.

If you've been reading the links that I've posted, thank you so very much! Every "click" helps contribute to my success as a contributor. I plan to continue to write for this venue. It's fun, you can write about anything, and it's interesting to see what people read.

You can find all the links to what I've done so far on my account profile page, where soon a special badge will be added for my new status in the Hot 500.

Now my goal is to crack the Hot 100 rankings. Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

TWINS TUESDAY: Working at Home with Twins

I work from home, which is not always easy with twins. I've had more work lately, which is a blessing, but also means less time blog!

So today, I invite you to check out something I wrote about working at home with kids, because we all need tips, advice and reminders about how to manage this sort of working situation.

Happy Twins Tuesday!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Look for the Light

There are times when the world seems dark and lonely. There are moments when times are tough, hearts are broken, days are long, and one feels like they are drowning in their own problems.

But when these times happen, it helps to try and still see something promising. Something hopeful.

First, you realize that although you feel kind of down, others have it worse. You realize some family and friends are facing health problems. Or that a mother has lost her child. Or that another has no support when times are tough. Or that another has financial issues deeper than your own. Or there are others who are truly alone on a daily basis.

And then you start to count your blessings; simple things like a roof over your head, a freezer full of food, clothes in the closet, the ability to function and comfort others, to receive the gift of a smile or a laugh.

But my biggest blessings are my three children. I cannot express how lucky I am to have them in my life, as trying as that life can sometimes be with twin toddlers.

Their hugs and kisses and kind words are better than anything on earth. I am truly, truly and completely, blessed beyond belief, and not a day goes by that I don't thank God for what He has given me.

So when life gets you down, find something to celebrate. Find ways to see how your life is blessed compared to others. Don't dwell on the darkness; look for the light.

And more light will shine down on you.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Celeb Wife Swap: What did you think?

I didn't get to watch it live on Tuesday, but on Wednesday night, Big Girl and I sat down with some popcorn to check out Kate Gosselin on "Celebrity Wife Swap." It was just "OK," I thought. Nothing earth-shattering or crazy. Kendra Wilkinson was kind of boring, in my opinion.

But the show did make me hunger for some more Gosselin tales. Not Gosselin trips around the world, but things like day-in-the-life stuff. How they make it happen with all those kids. I think it's the same way I feel about the Duggars. I don't really care if they go to Asia; I'm more interested in how they manage laundry and grocery shopping and homework.

Luckily, I remembered that they post the "Household Manuals" from "Wife Swap" online. So I looked up the Gosselin manual. And I got what I really wanted -- a glimpse into her schedule with the kids.

I want to know more about her bread-making now. And although she says there is not full-time housekeeper or nanny or whomever, how does she clean that house?