Monday, April 28, 2014

Gravity and Harmony

The stunning thing about last week was it's speed.  One day it was Easter Sunday, and the next [it seemed], was Soap Box Derby and Barbershop Music!  Oh, and the stuff in between?  Mind bending.

Suffice it to say that yesterday morning, I went to get clothes for church, and realized that the towels that had gone [somehow] into the washer and dryer on Tuesday were still there on Sunday morning.  Outrageous, right? I know.  I'm not proud.  Luckily, they were actually DRY.  Also, this gives you a good indication of what other laundry got done during the week.  Ummmmm, NADA.

One day of no school, three mornings and one evening of rocking babies, two knee therapy sessions for my girl, and one town-hall style meeting with our new Senior Pastor candidate will do that to a girl's week.  Oy.  That brought us to Saturday.

Saturday, is our usual adventure day -- and this time, our girl planned the adventure for us.  She is part of a small group of students at school who have prepared a Super Stock car for the Gravity Racing Challenge at Derby Downs in May.  {Their car won 1st Place last year!  See HERE.}  This year, they have a new driver who needed a practice run, and so they chose to participate in the Gravity Racing Challenge at the Cleveland track.  You guessed it!  Our adventure on Saturday took us to the Cleveland track.  The wind was really whipping up there beside Lake Erie, but it was a beautiful sunny day!

The teacher from our high school does this as a fun event for students, but there are some people/teams who are pretty intense about it!  They are usually the ones racing around like a crazy person with a time sheet in their hands, making it look like WORK.  Oh well.  To each his own.

After a meal out [hurray, says me!] and a short nap [yeehaw! says me], we were on our way again to a Barbershop Concert put on by the Derbytown Chorus that my dad is a part of.  What a fabulous night of entertainment.  Trust me when I say that it would be totally worth it to find out if you have a Barbershop Harmony Society Chapter near you -- and to make it an annual tradition to go to a local show.  You won't be disappointed!

My dad (2nd from right) with his quartet.

It was fun to see Dad's name in the program, as he won the "Barbershopper of the Year" award.  Dad [and Mom] have been singing ever since I can remember, and Jill and I have been lucky enough to be able to perform with them over the years in family musical shows, and at church -- both as a family, and in various choirs.  I'm very proud of my musical heritage.  <<Picture a dad, a mom, and two little girls, dressed in black from head to toe singing "Me and My Shadow" -- with a little black cane routine.  We were showstoppers.  Well, that might be an exaggeration, but we sure made good memories!!>>

But I digress.  Back to Dad and the nice words written about him: "to the chapter member who best exemplifies the qualities set forth in our code of ethics - those of good character, fellowship, congeniality, a love of music and harmony, and an altruistic attitude of service through the medium of barbershop harmony." -- and that's not the HALF of it, I could say to the writer of those words.  My dad is quite simply THE BEST.  Love you Dad!  Congratulations.

I hope you all had a great weekend too!!
Here's to a slower week, and getting caught up on the laundry.
What d'ya say?

Oh, and don't forget... a few more days on the giveaway!  (Click photo.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

graze update 4.21.14

We received our third graze package on 4/14/14 -- again, exactly two weeks from the previous box.  You can read my other posts HERE, HERE, and HERE.

The four snacks included in this box were:
  • white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake (white chocolate, raspberry cranberries and hazelnuts) - I confess, I ate this w/o the nuts.  The white chocolate and raspberry infused cranberries were delightful together!  My hubby was happy to eat the hazelnuts later.
  • cracking black pepper cashews - which my hubby said were good!
  • my thai (sweet chili sauce with baked soy bites) - "Eh" was the response I got from my hubby. Hmmm, not a "glowing review" really.
  • summer berry flapjack - which my daughter enjoyed, even though she isn't a fan of cranberries in her food.  She said they were chopped up pretty fine.

After each box is consumed, I make sure I go back to the graze website where I can rate our snacks and say whether or not we'd like to have them again.  You can also rate other snacks so that the nice people at graze have an idea what you'd like to receive in your next box.

While our family has enjoyed almost all of the snacks that were sent to us, I have to be practical about the expense.  It's unrealistic to continue to pay $1.25-$1.50 for each little one serving snack when I can (for example) get a box of granola bars on sale, making them about .25/each.  Because I shop sales and use coupons, I'm pretty good with getting my money's worth out of our food!

$1.50 for one serving
$1.00 for SIX

You get my meaning?  I know you do.  It was nice for a little trial run -- and THANK YOU to the lovely readers who used my friend code, earning me $1 off three boxes.  However, being the penny pincher that I am, I will unsubscribe after my next box (since I've already been given $1 off that box).

And regarding "serving size", this thought crossed my mind...  Perhaps the "takeaway" from this little experiment is that when I purchase fresh fruit or veggies or boxes/bags of snacks, the BEST idea is to right away break it down into the recommended serving sizes and place in snack size zip bags or plastic containers.  I know a lot of moms do this for little kids -- but it's not such a bad idea for big kids and adults either!  If I leave an item around IN BULK, it's likely to be eaten that way, or at the very least -- in questionable quantities.

Just a reminder: if you use my MY FRIEND CODE to order, you get your first and fifth boxes FREE. When you sign up and encourage friends to use your friend code, you'll get a dollar discount (per friend).

FYI - I will still plan on "reviewing" my last box, if only for the purpose of reviewing the snacks for you.  If these posts have been of any help to you, I'd love to hear about it!  Just leave me a comment.  I promise, I'll respond.  ;D

** I received no compensation for this post.  Just thought I share our experience with a new product.
Opinions are mine -- and my family's.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Giveaway Continues...

Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a 6-pack of wide-mouth GREEN "Heritage Collection" Ball canning jars, provided by Jarden Home Brands.  Click HERE to enter.  The giveaway closes on Wednesday, April 30th.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How to Be the Best Hostess EVER

First things first...

You've entered YESTERDAY'S GIVEAWAY-- right?. {If not, you can go do it now.  I'll wait.....}

And now to the issue at hand... HOSTESSING.

On Easter, it struck me all over again how blessed I am to be part of such a great TEAM with my Mom and Jill. We can really put together a nice meal.  Sure... each of us can also do it on our own.  But, as the non-hostess, how EASY is it for me to bring just a side dish to help out? And guess what?  That's one less thing the hostess will have to worry about making/baking, refrigerating/storing, or even purcha$ing!  [There are many ways to help a hostess, and lets just say it... financially is one of them.]

I spoke to a sweet lady on Easter Sunday who was stressed out about getting home in time to put the potato casserole into the oven.  She was worried about what her daughter-in-law would bring -- because they never communicate that ahead of time.  She had a bit of an attitude about others who would be coming to lunch, and hadn't offered to help at all.  When I told her our "system," she admitted that her bad attitude and stress was probably her own fault, because she'd never asked for help, or suggested what anyone could bring.  She tried to do it all herself.

There are times when that is appropriate, and it works just fine.  But usually in those situations, you have already mentally prepared yourself to carry the entire workload.

I would like to suggest that part of being a good hostess is realizing that your guests cannot/should not be expected to read your mind!  Don't be afraid to ask your guests to help out, and if you have something specific in mind then, by all means, be specific.

And of course, there's the other side of the coin.  Part of being a good guest is offering to help in some way. The "party" is much more interesting when teamwork is involved!

What are your thoughts about being the "Best Hostess EVER?"

FROM EASTER :: We enjoyed an awesome meal at Jill's, and I came home with these photos.  I laughed, thinking "this is how you know your kids have grown up.... when you come home with only photos of THE TABLE!'  Oy.  But it WAS a pretty table!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Green is the Color of Spring (and a GIVEAWAY!)

Green is also the color of the newest Heritage Collection jars.  Have you seen them?  They are a stunning shade of green that is so great when the light hits them -- reminds me of beautiful Depression Glass.

You probably know that I am crazy for canning jars.  <--- Click there to see my Pinterest board!  They fill our cupboards loaded with dry goods, are situated around our home in decor-mode, and [get this] we're even thinking about actually learning to CAN around here - LOL.  I know, right?  We're in DEEP.  You can see the evidence, HEREHERE, and HERE.

Needless to say, I was excited when Jarden Home Brands {who now manufactures the Ball brand} graciously offered to let me review one of their products, and these green Heritage Collection jars arrived on my doorstep.  These particular jars are quart-sized and wide-mouth, although the jars also come in pint size, regular mouth.

My jars have been pressed into service holding my ever-present straws, ground coffee beans, and they stand at the ready for buds and blooms too!  Come fall (not to rush the seasons), I can totally see my hubby using these for his giant batches of homemade applesauce!  (The wide-mouth style will certainly be easy to fill!)

The wonderful people at Jarden Home Brands would like you to have a set of these pretty jars too!  Just check out the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post to see all of the ways that you can enter for a chance to win a set of six quart-sized, wide-mouth jars.

Contest ends 4/30/14.
The winner's name will be posted at the top of THIS POST soon after, and will be contacted via e-mail.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 20, 2014


He is risen INDEED!

Matthew 28:1-6a
     After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
     There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
     The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said."

Blessings to you this Easter Sunday.  Stop and consider Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for you!  And don't forget... HE IS RISEN!  Hallelujah!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Recipe: Baked Ham & Noodles (Casserole)

I have fond memories of eating this casserole as a kid.  It wasn't necessarily in the regular rotation of meal choices, but I enjoyed it each and everytime it DID come up in the rotation!  This is about as basic, basic, basic as it gets, folks.  It's nothing wild and crazy, or hot and zesty.  It's just simple and down-home, because you know... I grew up on a farm and all that... ummm.... NOT.  But you get the idea.  Comfort food at it's finest (and a great way to use up leftover ham!)  Maybe you'll have some of that after Easter Sunday?  Just sayin'.

LOL - don't talk to me about the irony of this happy pig-face for a pork recipe!
I know, I know... but I couldn't resist!  *wink

Baked Ham & Noodles (Casserole)

12 oz. pkg. wide egg noodles (or your favorite kind of noodle)
2 cups ground or finely chopped ham
1 small onion (I use dehydrated)
1/4 cup milk
salt & pepper

Cook noodles according to package.  Place layer of noodles in buttered casserole, then a layer of ham, and sprinkle some onion, salt, and pepper.  Repeat, layer by layer until all ingredients are used, ending with a layer of noodles on top.  Pour in milk, but (depending on casserole size/depth) make sure the milk doesn't cover the top layer of noodles.

Melt a tablespoon or so of butter in a small pan, and add a handful of breadcrumbs.  Stir over low-medium heat (watching carefully) until butter is absorbed and breadcrumbs are toasty.  Sprinkle over casserole.

Bake for one hour at 350F.


Blessings to you and your family this Easter weekend as we celebrate our RISEN SAVIOR!  How will you celebrate?  My own family will be together for worship on Sunday morning (there is no better worship than on Easter Sunday!), and my extended family will gather for lunch at Jill's.  Guess what she asked me to bring?  (THIS!)  Whatever your plans, enjoy the blessings of the day!


Linking with:
Jennifer Rizzo for Fabulously Creative Friday
Craftberry Bush for The Inspiration Gallery

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Balm for the Soul

I often find myself thankful that I taught our kids to say important words like:

"I'm sorry."

"Will you forgive me?"

And in response to someone who says those words to them, to say:

"I forgive you!"

These are important words to say and hear, and I believe it's imperative to teach your kids to be able to say them sincerely, and in a timely way, and to receive them with openness and grace.  This exchange is balm for the soul!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oral Allergy Syndrome

It is not typical for me to self-diagnose -- or to diagnose on behalf of my family.  This situation unfolded a little differently, though.

It all started years ago with carrots -- raw carrots, that is.  Our young daughter would tell us she didn't want to eat them because they made her throat feel scratchy.  And then, I happened upon this little blurb in a magazine:

Though our daughter had been diagnosed as a hay-fever sufferer (suspect: ragweed), there were enough of her food-triggors listed [in the above chart] under BIRCH POLLEN to make me realize something was going on there!

Have you heard of this?  Our family doctor hadn't.  It's known as Oral Allergy Syndrome, and you will find a lot of information about it HERE and HERE.  Because we were unsure how this syndrome might ultimately affect our daughter, our doctor did subscribe an EpiPen for her to have on standby -- particularly when she is away from home (like on a missions trip), and might be eating unfamiliar foods.  {I pack her lunch every day for school, and she is very good at NOT EATING the problem foods that she knows of.}  However, after further reading, it seems that episodes of anaphylaxis or severe throat swelling are rare in people who experience OAS.  That is a comfort!

I share this in hopes that it might help someone else out there.  I don't claim to have any answers, and can only share what our daughter has experienced.  Ultimately, if you or someone you love are experiencing symptoms like these, you should check with your doctor.

**TIP**  Go to POLLEN.COM and sign up for allergy-alert emails that will notify you about levels of specific pollens in your area.  This has been very helpful to us in preparing for bad allergy days!

*** My thanks to the magazine that published this information for me to stumble upon!  At the time I cut it out, I didn't realize how truly valuable the information would be to our family.  Unfortunately, there is no indication of what magazine I might have cut it from...       In appreciation!  ~Sally

Friday, April 4, 2014

graze update 4.04.14

Here we go with our second package, received on 3/31/14 -- exactly two weeks from the first box.  You can read my first two posts HERE and HERE.  If you have seen the ads, or are considering subscribing to graze, I hope these reviews will be helpful.

The four snacks included in this box were:
  • fruity mango chutney (with black pepper dippers) - I dove into this one because I love almost anything mango.  Almost.  Turns out mango is kind of weird with a kick - IMHO.  The dippers were "okay."
  • apple crumble (apple, raisins, and cinnamon honey almonds) - my hubby ate & enjoyed.
  • smoky bbq corn (smoked cashews & jumbo corn) - my hubby who loves cashews said this one is a keeper.  He liked it because it was really crunchy.  A good crunch always makes a snack worthwhile!
  • chocolate orange (Belgian dark chocolate, orange raisins and hazelnuts) - the hazelnuts weren't really my thing, although they tasted of the orange-infused raisins, which were yummy.  And the Belgian chocolate?  Delicious!)

My plan is to get 2-3 more boxes, and then evaluate whether we will continue our subscription.  My first box was free, and I've had three friends use my friend code [thank you!], earning me $1 off a box (x 3).  The only problem I have is that my daughter has [some] nut allergies, and doesn't get to eat many of the snacks. Since she hasn't actually been tested for her allergies, she is a little hesitant about trying anything new with nuts.  When I signed up for graze, there was a spot to click a "no nut" option.  When I did that, it said something like sorry, we don't provide that option right now -- so I'll take that into account in my evaluation, as well.

Just a reminder: if you use my MY FRIEND CODE to order, you get your first and fifth boxes FREE, and I get $1 off my next order.  When you sign up and encourage friends to use your friend code, you'll also get that dollar discount (per friend).

Still grazing...

** I received no compensation for this post.  Just thought I share our experience with a new product.
Opinions are mine -- and my family's.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bubbles!!! (Subtitled: Squirrel!!!)

If you saw the movie "Up" you will totally get this post.  Maybe.  A little.

You see, it's spring-time and, up until a few days ago... it hasn't been very spring-like.  A better description of the yard might be "swamp-like," --  and not very welcoming.  I could put on my wellies and tromp around out there, but really?  I don't want to leave deep footprints in the muck, so... I stay on solid ground for now.  From a distance, I can see a little green here and there, but no photo-proof just yet.

I'm going a little stir-crazy when it comes to picture-taking.  And really, have we had enough of the hyphenated words?  What is with me today?  [Squirrel.]

Anywho... recently I was washing out an empty soap bottle to recycle, and here's what came next.  This is what happens when Spring doesn't come quickly enough.  Distracted, I am forced to take pictures of the ridiculous - even if it is kind of pretty.  Am I a blogger desperately looking for some fun pics, or what?

Is it Spring yet in your neck of the woods?  Have you spotted lots of green shoots around the yard  -- maybe even buds opening, or are you still dealing with melting snow?  As for me, I just...


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