May Blog Challenge

Wednesday, February 27, 2013



I read blogs like books.  I start at the very beginning of random blogs and I read all the way through to current.  It sometimes makes me sad when I get to the current stuff because the "book" is finished.  But, I do like the fact that new "chapters" are being written all the time.  This is why I can't wait to do the blog challenge.  I am ready for other blogs.  I like reading about real people.  It's intimidating to put your thoughts and feelings out on the web for anyone to see, but it is also a great way to connect.

What I need to get better about is commenting on blogs.  I am one of those lurkers.  I will get better.  I will commit to delurking on a couple of blogs.  I don't feel I have any insight for these bloggers, because we are in different stages of life (most have toddlers while I almost have a teenager).


I have a list on the side of blogs I already read, but please leave me a comment if there are more good ones out there (especially if they are yours).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Menu Plan

I skipped last week's menu plan, because it was a CRAZY week.  Between the holiday, a funeral, and a snow day, nothing was normal.  I did cook, and we ate leftovers.  I am back this week.  This week I have prepared for the possible snow days/blizzard coming my way.  **On a side note - groundhog you are WRONG**  So, here it is...

Monday - Quesadillas or soup (family's choice)
Tuesday - Pot Roast (good comfort meal for blizzard night)
Wednesday - leftovers or Chicken alfredo bake
Thursday - Pork Chops
Friday - Stuffing Chicken in Crockpot
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - The other choices from above choices.

I am keeping it easy and flexible.  Usually we have activities in the evening that doesn't allow us that much flexibilities when it comes to meals.

Starting Friday!

I will attempt this to get where I want to be going blog-wise.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I like challenges.  They make me step outside my comfort zone.  I also don't like to let things beat me so I try to stick challenges out.  This month on Instagram, I participated in the February Photo Challenge of the Day.  I have 4 days to go and I have taken a picture every day.  I plan on continuing through March.  It holds me accountable to a personal challenge of taking a picture every day.  Now granted I use my iphone for my Instagram pictures.  I want to follow through with my challenge of growing artistically with my camera.  For Christmas, my husband bought me a Canon 7D.  I LOVE this camera.  I also have a Canon T3 that I went through photography school with.  I could be blindfolded and change every setting on that camera.  I want to get that way with my 7D.  On google + I have joined a few photography communities.  Doing that has helped me get the creative juices flowing.  I now have a brainstorm of ideas that I would like to execute.  So, to help me become a better photographer I have composed a Day of the Week Challenge for myself.  To hold myself accountable, I will post at the end of the week all the pictures I took (and edited!!).

These themes are subject to change as I become more inspired, but here is what I have come up with so far:

Monday - Monochrome Monday - Black and White or Sepia Photographs

Tuesday - Toy or Transportation Tuesday

Wednesday - Way back Wednesday or Imitation Wednesday - Either revisit and edit a picture taken before photography school OR recreate photographs that I find inspiring.

Thursday - Thankful or Texture Thursday - Something I am Thankful for OR textures

Friday - Food Friday - Uh, yeah...I like taking pictures of food

Saturday - Street or Signs Saturday - This will help me get out and explore locations

Sunday - Song Title Sunday - Interpreting song titles into photographs

I am really excited to get started.  I would love to have people join me if they want.  They do not need to be professionals or even own a nice camera.  If I get interest I will set all that up.

I will probably brainstorm ideas for some of them on Sundays...I also will keep up with my challenges I  have already started.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

3 Musketeers Stuffed Triple Chocolate Cupcake

The title is a mouthful to say...

I had some leftover 3 musketeer hot cocoa minis from Christmas.  I decided instead of throwing them out, I would stuff them into cupcakes.  I used just a regular box cake mix that I had in the cabinet.  I used my pretty pink Kitchenaid mixer to prepare it according to the box directions.

I lined my brand new cupcake pan with cute little snowmen liners that were on sale after Christmas.  

I poured the batter about half way up and added the unwrapped minis to each cup (after, of course, I took a few photos of the chocolate).  I covered the minis with the remaining batter.

I slapped those bad boys in the oven for a quick 17 minute bake in the oven.

After taking them out of the oven and letting them cool completely...

I iced them with a chocolate cream icing.  I decorated one cupcake and had a little photo shoot with it.  


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Google +

I am trying to get the hang of Google +.  I have been using Facebook since before Facebook was cool. I'm kind of over it.  Don't get me wrong, I will never delete my fb, but I find myself not really updating anymore, unless I am putting up pictures.

Enter Google +. I like that it has all of these communities that I can be a part of to showcase and get feedback from my photography.  I am a photographer who would rather photograph architecture or food than people.  + is a little bit more challenging to navigate.  I guess it doesn't help that I don't have any real friends on +.  So far the communities I am a part of are: Cats of Google + (because I am slightly obsessed with my cat), Food Photography and Canon Photography.  I have posted a few pictures and gotten a few likes.  I am interested in diving more into the communities.

I like the idea of circles.  Facebook dropped the ball on that one.  I like the ability to share with a certain group of people instead of everyone.  This is going to be a very useful tool in the future.

So far my only dislike is I have to upload pictures to each community instead of just being able to pull the image from my albums.  Oh, well!

I am off to explore.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Things I learned while skating today...

I went skating.  It was for a birthday party of a friend of our family's daughter.  We (my daughter, her friend, and my husband) had a great time.  Some things I learned while wheeling around in a giant circle:

Skating rinks haven't changed.  It is still the same light teal colored floor.  The walls are still the same design.  The disco ball is still in the center of the rink.  They still have the tiny lockers and the "game area".

Skating rinks have now added black lights.  They also now have a giant screen playing some videos too.  It was fun to see my Mickey Mouse socks glow in the dark. They also added this weird techno ball that will light up with the toxic symbol or curly cues.

The rink monitors or refs still wear the whistle, and the black and white ref jersey and still take every opportunity they can to show off their "mad skating skills".

I still love the dice game.  Even though this time, my husband talked me into switching corners and our corner got called out.  :(

I still do not love the limbo or speed skating.  I also do not think I would love playing dodgeball on skates either.  Sounds like a way to get knocked down easily.

More things I learned:

I still enjoy most of the music.  I only found myself calling the stuff they were playing "crap", twice.

I can still skate with ease.  I have been skating since I was 4.  I got my first pair of "my own skates instead of rentals" at 5.  My birthdays were mostly at the skating rink.

I find falling down on skates really scary now because I am afraid I might break something.  This means I will never play "wipeout".  I am not going to intentionally throw myself on the ground for entertainment.

I still have a little hokey in my pokey.  I was still able to jump off the ground maybe just not as high.

I still want to hold hands with a boy while I skate to a slow song.  Luckily my husband was there to foot that bill, or it could have been really awkward for someone

I still love skating.  Its great exercise, I just can't do it for as long now.  I used to be able to skate for all 5 hours on Friday and Saturday nights.  After about 2 1/2 hours today, I was pooped.

Overall, skating rinks in general haven't changed much, but my older body has.  Kids still will cut you off or try to run you over, so I am now more conscience of it.  A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with my family.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day.

I am not a huge fan of this day.  This is a strictly commercial "holiday".  I think loved ones should show love all year and not just on one day.

Flowers are way overpriced!  My husband knows not to buy them.  They die...
Candy... not a big fan of candy.  I love pop rocks, lemon heads, and reese's pieces, but most of the candy at v-day is chocolate.  I can't eat chocolate because of my sensitivity to caffeine.

We don't make a big deal of Valentine's Day.  I would rather him give me something like a card on something like May 3 or September 14 something random just to let me know he doesn't need a specific "day" to celebrate.

With that being said, we of course bought the "I am going to feel guilty if I don't buy you something for Valentine's Day" card and gift.  He got me a cute cute Minnie Mouse St. Patrick's Day shirt.  I love it.  I bought him a M&M Darth Vader dispenser, and a solid chocolate deer head, and Ghiradelli chocolate that he loves so much.  (For the record, I give notes and candy and love all through out the year to both my husband and our daughter).

We do buy presents for our daughter.  We buy practical stuff along with a box of chocolate.

One thing I do love about Valentine's Day....photographing the CANDY!!

Conversation Hearts...LOVE them.  I can't wait to break out the chocolate to photograph!!!

I hope those who love Valentine's Day, have a wonderful day.

Oh, and Happy 26th Anniversary to one set of my parents.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Menu for the Week

I did really good last week with the menu.  My family ate it and loved it.

This week is a weird week.  It's Valentine's week.  We don't go out for Valentine's Day so I had to plan for that day this week.

Monday (yesterday): Shake and Bake pork chops with green beans, baked beans, and mac and cheese
Tuesday (I knew it was supposed to snow): Roast and potatoes
Wednesday: Musical Theatre we eat out.
Thursday (Heart's Day): Lasagna, salad, garlic bread
Friday: Leftovers (I am sure we will have a ton)
Saturday: Anything goes
Sunday: Chicken tortilla bake

I also made cinnamon muffins already, banana blueberry oatmeal muffins (tomorrow), and oatmeal chocolate chip muffins again.  

I love cooking and baking at home.  It soothes me.  

Have a great week

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Beautiful wet fat flakes fell from the sky today.  It was wonderful to sit and watch through my windows.  I had a hot cup of coffee and revealed at the beauty God created while doing my Bible study.  It was wonderful.

All after school activities were cancelled for E's school.  We headed to her voice/piano lessons.  As we pulled up, her voice teacher texted and asked me if E would like to go sledding with her 2 little girls.  So, we bundled up and headed to the park right behind her house and had a great time.  There were a ton of people there and the news too.  The girls sled with Elexis and they built a snowman.  It was very cold, but very fun.

It is currently still snowing.  E is praying for school closing tomorrow.  I am not going to lie, it would be nice to sleep in.

I leave you with pictures from today.

The tree in my backyard

My backyard

Cherrie watching the snow.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I cried today

Today, my one and only child took the ACT's.  She is 12.  She got invited by the Duke Talent Search to take the ACT as a 7th grader.  I am very proud of her for taking it.  She said that she guessed on a lot of the math and science, but thinks she did really well on the English and reading portion.  When we got to the high school she will be going to in a couple of years, she was really nervous.  The kids going into the school were way bigger than her (and she is a tall girl, as tall as me) and older.  I waited with her until they told everyone they could go into the rooms.  It was very hard as a parent to send my only child, my baby, up the hall and into a classroom where I couldn't make sure that she gave the correct forms or answer any questions the test people might have.  I prayed for her.  This is one of the first steps of the separation process that, in six short years, will happen.

I got into my car after walking out of the high school and cried.  I prayed and cried.  I prayed that she would have a sense of peace that just because Mom wasn't there, I would always be there.  I cried because I just dropped my baby off to take the ACT's.  I know this is not her "real" test (we just wanted her to become familiar with the test).  It still was very hard because I know I don't have long left with her.  She still needs me right now.  I cried because it seemed like just yesterday I was crying as I dropped her off for her first day of pre-K.  I cried because I am proud of the wonderful human being she is turning out to be.  She amazes me.  I am so blessed that she is my daughter.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Menu Planning

In order to help with our budget, I have been trying to get better at menu planning.  This week I am doing pretty good.  As tempting as it was to go out to eat last night since the hubby wasn't home, we didn't.  I have tried some new recipes this week for my family.  They are not at all shy about giving me feedback.  I need to tweak a few things in the new recipes when trying it again.  They ate what I fixed, but would have like it better had I "made it a little less ranch flavored".  My family did have some raves about the from scratch whole wheat soft dinner rolls I made.  Those I didn't think turned out well, but they LOVED them.

I love Pinterest because that is where I get a lot of recipes.  Also, I will just google search and pin to my boards.  I had to start a new board on stuff that we like, so I don't have to search through the hundred or so pins on my regular food board.  I need to split my food board into categories.  I have already put cakes and cupcakes in their own board along with cookies having their own board.  I love to bake.  I find it very soothing.  My husband and daughter are quite the picky eaters on way different things.  Like husband will not touch the stuff.  E is getting tired of rice, but doesn't like potatoes (not my kid!).  Neither are big on vegetables.  I will pretty much eat anything.  I try to eat healthier now.  My only food aversions are: nuts, peanut butter (husbands fav), cheese, bananas, and pretty much any breakfast food.  There are some foods that I have texture issues with, but will eat if necessary (since I do the cooking I don't mind fixing myself a different meal).

My menu plan this week, was this:

Monday: Breakfast - chocolate chip oatmeal muffins Dinner: Shepard's Pie (must tweak onions and peppers)
Tuesday: Breakfast - muffins Dinner: Bacon Chicken Ranch (cut back on the ranch seasoning)
Wednesday: Breakfast - muffins (my kid really likes these) Dinner: out
Thursday: Breakfast - the last of the muffins or cereal Dinner: leftovers
Friday: Breakfast - donuts (yay Donut Friday) Dinner: sausage and peppers and chicken alfredo
Weekends are usually up in the air because of all the various activities.

I found the recipe for muffins here.
Bacon Chicken Ranch here. Crockpot recipe!!
Shepard's Pie here.

I will get better about taking/posting pictures of food.

I want to do a whole separate post on the rolls.  Really, I just want excuse to make them again.

Did I also mention I made triple chocolate brownies and strawberry cake batter rice krispy treats for an orchestra fundraiser?  What can I say...I love cooking/baking!!

I'm ready to plan my menu for next week...

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Yay Me!

I cleaned the computer room today.  It's not clean clean, but definitely cleaner.  I still have to put together our new media cabinet so I can finish cleaning the desk, but the majority is done.

Went to some friends for the Super Bowl tonight.  They were only here for a short time and leave tomorrow.  I'm sad I didn't get to spend more time with them, but Hubby spent a lot of time with them (it's his best friend).  I hope they have a safe trip back to Arizona.

It was a busy, but productive weekend.