Friday, May 30, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Rice Krispie Treats, soft & gooey)

Good Friday to you all! It's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange! I'm so sorry I missed last week with no notice.  It was a long holiday weekend and I got busy with my family!  I hope you understand.  If any of you would like to re-post recipes that you might have published last week, please feel free to do so!

Upcoming Themed Schedule
June 6- Freezer Edition II
June 20- Refreshing Drinks Edition II
July 4- 4th of July Edition II

Yesterday I decided to make Rice Krispie Treats with my son and I looked on the Kellog's cereal box and couldn't find the recipe.  I know what the three ingredients are, I just didn't know the proper measurements.  So, I went online and looked for the recipe and discovered that I had more marshmallows than needed.  So, I did another Google search for rice krispie treats recipe with 16 oz. bag of marshmallows.  Lo and behold, a user published her doubled recipe on

Here's what the user makeiteasy4me came up with.

Kellog's Rice Krispie Treats (the soft and gooey kind)

11.5 cups Rice Krispies (a 12 oz. box gives you just enough)
1 whole stick of butter
16 oz bag of mini marshmallows (I only had the large ones and they worked fine)

Melt the butter sloooowly in a large pot on the stovetop. Make sure the butter doesn't turn brown at all.  If the butter gets brown, the treats will be dry. Mix in the marshmallows and melt them just as slowly. Add Rice Krispies a cup at a time, stirring constantly. My little helper poured while I stirred. Grease a 13x9 pan with cold butter and then spread the Rice Krispie Treat mixture into the pan and let cool before cutting. Since this is a double batch, you'll probably fill the pan to the top, which gives you nice and thick treats! These are quite soft and gooey, even after they've cooled!

Now, I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe! I won't be able to visit your recipes right away but fear not, I will stop by to visit your recipe as soon as I can!

Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

For guidelines and my past Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes, click here.

Thanks so much for your participation. I do appreciate it!

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5:00 AM

Thursday, May 29, 2008
Let me see a show of hands, who's going to see this movie?
Okay, I'd like to see a show of hands here. Who's going to see S*X and The City: The Movie? It's in theaters starting tomorrow. Don't be shy, leave me a comment and let me know either way.

I must confess that I've been eagerly anticipating this movie for about...oh I'd say the past 2 years or so...since whenever the T.V. series ended. Back then, I made my husband pay for HBO just so that I could watch this series. And when it was all over, I went out and purchased the entire DVD set.

My husband gleefully informed me that he's read that there are already bad reviews for this movie (as a man he doesn't understand what all the hype is about). I think that any true S*X and The City fan is going to be hard-pressed to give this movie a bad review!

Personally, as long as Carrie and Big get married in the end, I'll be happy! I'll find out this weekend when I go see the movie with a bunch of my girlfriends. Plus, I can't wait to see all of wacky yet fun designer outfits the ladies will be wearing throughout the movie!

My husband has already been fair warned that he'll be in charge of dinner and bedtime routine that night because I'll be unavailable!

Just for fun, I thought I'd share some of the movie promo pictures I've found online. Enjoy!

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9:54 AM

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I had a good conversation with Baby Bug's dad.
If you remember, I posted not long ago about the fact that the time is drawing near to let go of Baby Bug. I think the thing that has stressed me out the most is the thought of never seeing her again. I'd always wonder how she's doing and what she looks like as she grows older.

Last week I was on the phone with Baby Bug's dad, discussing an upcoming visit and out of nowhere he says to me, "We've been talking and if you don't mind, we'd really like you and Oronzo to keep in touch even after Baby Bug returns home."

I about fell off my chair when I heard those words and I wanted to cry in relief! I told him, "I've been trying to work up the courage to ask you if we could maintain some form of contact after Baby Bug goes home. We've grown quite fond of your daughter over the past 6 months!"

Baby Bug's dad told me, "You and Oronzo have been so good to our daughter, and to us, that it wouldn't seem right to get her back and never see you again."

Thank you, God, for answering my prayers! Knowing that Baby Bug's parents are willing to keep in touch with us after she returns home and will allow us to visit her makes this reunification goal so much easier now.

I feel as though a great weight has been lifted off of my shoulders!

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7:20 AM

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Winner of my May Pay It Forward Book Exchange!

It's time to pick a winner for my May Pay It Forward Book Exchange. I've used to find my winner.

And the winner is...

# 4-Lori with Lori's Reading Corner who wins Purity In Death by J.D. Robb.

Congrats, Lori! Please email me your mailing addresses so I can send out your book! If I don't hear from you soon, I'll have to pick another winner.

And for those of you who didn't win my giveaway, there are 17 additional books still up for grabs this month thanks to PIF giveaways being held by other bloggers! Hurry quick to enter to win!

My next Pay It Forward Book Exchange will be held on Monday, 2 June. I hope you'll join me then!

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11:24 AM

Monday, May 26, 2008
Happy Memorial Day
Sorry I've been absent from my blog for the past few days.  I've been a bit busy hanging with family and friends.  I'm sure you understand.

Happy Memorial Day!

Last night we attended an outdoor pops concert and at the beginning the conductor asked all WWII veterans to stand up so that they could be honored.  I was amazed at how many men stood up.  We all cheered for them!  At the end of the concert the orchestra played the various armed forces theme songs and asked members of the audience to stand when they heard the song for the armed forces that they served in.  They also instructed others who had family members or loved ones that served in that armed force to stand up.  Snuggle Bug and I stood up when the Air Force song came played, in honor of my father who served in Vietnam in the Air Force.  It was a special evening!

Today we're attending a BBQ with friends.  

What are your Memorial Day plans?

Oh, I should show you my latest Sparkle & Charm project that I've been working on this past weekend.

I'm designing custom-made tutus! Sorry, this picture doesn't do this one justice. I'll have Oronzo take a better picture soon. I'm working on a local order and when I finish it, I"ll be making a 4th of July tutu and will post it for sale.

Okay, time to go.  More later!  Enjoy your Memorial Day

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11:13 AM

Thursday, May 22, 2008
What's In Your Car?

Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer is hosting an interesting carnival, What's In Your Car?

To participate, all we had to do was clean out our cars and provide a list of what we found. Simple, right? Wrong! Still, my car was in desparate need of cleaning so I decided to get motivated and join in the fun!

Before we get started, let me show you a couple of "before" picture, just so you have an idea of how bad it is! 

front seat

back seat

Here's what I found in my car while cleaning it out yesterday, in no particular order:

* My rolling laptop bag, purse, and camera that I hadn't gotten around to taking out of my car after work.

* A letter from Snuggle Bug's birth great-grandmother that had pictures of his birth mother enclosed.  Oops, I meant to tuck that away in my hope chest right away.  I'm glad I found it.

* Coupons from the newspaper two weeks ago.

* A grocery tote bag that I keep meaning to use rather than plastic but rarely remember.

* A mailing envelope with a butterfly craft from Snuggle Bug that I intended to send to my father.   I guess I'll save it for Father's Day now.

* Various receipts.

* Various magazine articles that I've torn out to keep.

* The picture of a friend stuck to a print out of a sausage meatballs recipe.  Apparently something spilled on them.

* Baby Bug's feeding list that I've used to track the solid foods we're introducing her to.

* Print outs of paper dolls that I had intended to mail my niece.  They're too wrinkled now.

* Instructions on how to create a new project on Mac iDVD.

* An empty diaper bag that needs to be replenished and put back in my car.

* One of Baby Bug's 3-6 month sleepers.

* The book, Weep No More My Lady by Mary Higgins Clark.  Apparently I'm on page 133 but I have no idea how long it's been since I started the book.

* A used fast food cup and other assorted garbage.

* A felt tooth fairy kit, purchased years in advance of when Snuggle Bug will need a little pillow for his first missing tooth.

* A booklet of 485 bug stickers, I believe they were purchased as a method of bribery as we attempted to potty train Snuggle Bug.

* A wrapped birthday present for my niece.  It's going to arrive a little late, I think.

* Various kids toys, including a kid-sized baseball bat and lots of cars and balls.

* A half eaten packet of freeze-dried fruit chips (pear flavor).  They're a bit shriveled now.

* Two Valentine's Day cards made by Snuggle Bug that never got delivered.  Luckily they're in pretty good shape so I'll just save them for next year!

* A nalgene water bottle. 

* An iPod wrist band, in case I ever decide to take up joggy (not)!

* Pens

* Straws

* A couple of missing hair bows.

* Loose coins.

Whew!  That's quite a list and I didn't even venture into the trunk yet.  I have after pictures but Blogger is not cooperating in letting me upload so I'll have to keep trying.  

So, how bad is the inside of your car?


6:00 AM

Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Pay It Forward Winner to be chosen on Saturday!

I just wanted to remind you all that I'm choosing the winner of my May Pay It Forward Book Exchange this Saturday. You still have time to go sign up to win!

Also, there are 17 more books up for grabs thanks to the additional Pay It Forward giveaways that other blogs are hosting. Check it out!

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11:34 AM

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The time is drawing near to let go of Baby Bug.

The clock is ticking and our time with Baby Bug is running out. As a result, simply put, I'm struggling.

Another milestone has been reached in her case. Beginning this week, her parents now have visitation with her Monday-Friday, 9 AM-4:30 PM. It's almost to the point where they have more time with her than we do. I know this is as it's meant to be.

By the end of this month, we will have had Baby Bug living with us for 6 months. The past 6 months with this precious child have been hectic, chaotic at times, and somewhat muddled (lack of sleep and all) but it's also been joyful, rewarding, gratifying, and a blessing.

At 6 months old Baby Bug has more hair (I put it up in a little pony tail at the top of her head this morning for the first time). She's more vocal, wants more interaction, is getting 2 teeth, is trying to sit up on her own, is rolling over a lot, and is quite engaging. She's back to sleeping through the nights, although she likes to wake up at 5:30 AM still to play and then go back to bed around 7 AM. She is a beautiful child who is good natured and quick to smile. She charms everyone she meets. She has melted my heart.

Last night after tucking her (and the other two kids) into bed, I had a bit of a pity party. I laid in bed with Oronzo and cried at the thought of her leaving for good. I explained to him that, although he seems to have come to terms with this inevitable conclusion and has found peace with it, I am still struggling.

I truly admire Baby Bug's parents and I'm proud of the painstaking progress they've made with their case plans. They're still both 100% compliant and anxious to have their daughter back home. Intellectually, I support this and I know it's right for her to be reunited with her parents but my heart still aches at the gradual letting go.

I told Oronzo last night that I'll need his support now more than ever (as the visits increase) and when she is reunited with her parents for good. I need him to allow me to grieve, without reminding me, "We knew this was the way it was going to be early on."

I told him that I need to be the one that packs up her things and carefully places them in her bags to go home. I need to have quiet time alone with her to hold her, say my goodbyes, and pray for her.

I need to see Snuggle Bug holding her one last time and I want to take their picture together. Based on how attached he's gotten to her, I know he'll miss her too. After Baby Bug is gone, I'll probably want to pull Snuggle Bug into my lap and rock him as I used to when he was a baby, just to remind myself that I have a child that is most certainly staying.

I warned Oronzo that I'm going to be emotional for quite a while after she's gone and that I'll want a bit of time before we're put back on the open call list for another placement. We'll still have Boo (I assume) and I'll be content with just her and Snuggle Bug for a while as I grieve for Baby Bug.

I also told Oronzo that I want to approach Baby Bug's parents and ask if they'd allow us to be a small part of their lives, even after Baby Bug returns home. We've had a good relationship with them from day one, so I hope they won't feel threatened by this request. They don't have much family or a lot of friends here in this city and I'm hoping they'd be interested in counting on us for friendship and support even after they're totally finished with CPS and the system. I'd love to be able to visit occasionally and see Baby Bug grow and develop, maybe attend her first birthday party or take her to play in the park with us.

Of course, I understand that this could all just be my little fantasy. Her parents may say, "We'd rather not, we just want to put this all behind us." Or maybe they'll tell us "Yes, that'd be fine," but then never return our calls. I have to accept that once Baby Bug returns home to her parents for good, I may never see her again. I pray that this is not the case because she'll be taking a piece of my heart with her and I want to know that she's happy and safe.

Please pray for me as I accept that it's time to truly begin to let go, that my role in Baby Bug's life as her advocate and protector is nearing it's completion.

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11:36 AM

Pay It Forward guidelines revisited

Before I begin, I'd like to thank all of you who participate in my Pay It Forward Book Exchange giveaways, whether you're entering to win books, or even hosting your own giveaways to share books with others. I've been tickled pink with the interest this exchange has generated! Keep it up, will you?! And be sure to check out all the books up for grabs on my May PIF Book Exchange!

Now then, I've noticed that there is quite a variation in the way that people are hosting their own Pay It Forward Book Exchange giveaways. Some of the variations I love, like Cloudscome's version where she's giving away a CD/DVD this month. Other variations seem to be causing a bit of confusion so I'd like to revisit the guidelines that I initially established and recently modified in the hopes that we can all be on the same page and have consistency for our readers. Please pay close attention to item #4.

If you have any questions or comments regarding these guidelines, please let me know. I'd be happy to chat with you about them.

Here are the guidelines for my Pay It Forward Book Exchange.

Most all of us love to read and get “new-to-us” books, right? And if you’re anything like me, you love winning things (what a rush), not to mention getting fun stuff in the mail! So here’s what this book exchange is all about:

1) On the first Monday of each month I'll pick a couple of books to give away to two lucky readers (you don’t have to have a blog to enter). It may be a book that I’ve purchased new or used, or it may be a book that someone has shared with me that I really like. It’ll probably be a paperback, just to make things easier, but no guarantees.

2) Details on how you can enter to win will be listed in each monthly post.

3) If you’re the lucky winner of the book giveaway and you have your own blog I ask that you, in turn, host a drawing to give that book away for free to one of your readers, after you’ve had a chance to read it (let’s say, within a month after you’ve received the book). If you mail the book out using the media/book rate that the post office offers it’s pretty inexpensive. If you're a non-blogger who has won the book, please consider donating the book to your local library or shelter after you're done with it.

4) If you’re really motivated and want to host your own Pay It Forward giveaway at any time during the month, grab the PIF button above to use on your own blog post and link back to my original Pay It Forward Post. Be sure to let me know about your giveaway so I can add your link on my original PIF post directing my readers your way! I'd appreciate it if you would not use Mr. Linky on your blog and require that your readers post about your Pay It Forward book exchange on their blogs to be eligible to win your book. If you'd just ask your readers to leave you a comment on your post to be entered to win, and then direct them to my blog to review the master list of other Pay It Forward giveaways, that would be much appreciated and I think less confusing for all participating!

So there you have it, my Pay It Forward Book Exchange, designed to encourage people to read, to share good books, to possibly get you out of your reading comfort zone, and to get fun stuff in the mail instead of just bills!


7:00 AM

Sunday, May 18, 2008
We were robbed while on vacation!
A while back I wrote about how I needed to declutter our house.  I never imagined that I'd be forced to de-clutter to an extent by getting robbed!

Yes, while we were on vacation, our house was broken into (the robber(s) somehow forced open our sliding glass door in the back of the house) and many rooms were ransacked. Drawers and boxes were thrown on the floor and overturned, with papers and clothes scattered everywhere.  

Oronzo's sister was actually the one to discover the break-in when she stopped by the day before yesterday to pick up something that she wanted to borrow.  She contacted us in Mexico to let us know.

I spent the rest of our vacation stressing about the robbery, wondering what had been taken and feeling angry that someone felt they had the right to break into our house to steal from us!  Coming home to the mess late last night was awful!  We tried to shield Snuggle Bug from the mess as much as possible.  Thankfully his room wasn't too bad.  The girls' room was a mess but they're too young to notice and we tackled their room first to set it right.

Here's the list of things that I've noticed thus far that were stolen:

* Princess cut ruby in gold band setting (This was a family heirloom.  It was a gift from my aunt that was given to my mother on her high school graduation day.  My aunt, whom I was named after, died when I was very young.  My mom treasured this ring and as a little girl she told me it would one day be mine.  She gave it to me last year.  I was honored to have it and I treasured it greatly.  Now it's gone, stolen and probably pawned by now.  This is the one item that hurts me the most to have stolen because of the sentimental value.).

* Pear shaped ruby necklace and matching ruby earrings (gifts from Oronzo for one of my birthdays).  These can be easily replaced.

* Custom made Mother's Day necklace with Snuggle Bug's birthstone set in it.  This breaks my heart that it's gone but Oronzo thinks he can go back to the jeweler and have it re-created.

* My celtic cross from Ireland.  I guess I'll have to go back to Ireland and find another one.

* About $200 worth of costume jewelry.

* My Palm Tungsten T2 PDA.

* An old Nikon CoolPix 5400 digital camera.

* About $100 in change that I was collecting in a big jar in my bedroom.

* My mountain bike (and Oronzo's as well, along with the child carrier that he had attached to his bike).

* A laptop NIC.

* Oronzo's iPod Shuffle.

* Oronzo's big jar of change from his office.

It freaks me out to think that someone (or several people) were in our house, tearing through our drawers, the children's rooms, and creating a huge mess in the process.  I feel violated!  We live in a nice, quiet neighborhood but that doesn't matter.

Looking back, I realize we might have done things to prevent this from happening.  We could've asked our neighbors or Oronzo's sister to check in on our house frequently.  We could've left at least one of our cars in the driveway to make it appear as though someone was home.  We could've had better locks on our sliding glass door.  We could've had our important jewelry locked up in a safety deposit box instead of assuming they'd be safe in our home.

In speaking with the police, we were told that they believe they're on to a man who they think is committing several burglaries in our area ON BICYCLE.  This man goes in and only steals what he can carry on a bike.  None of our big electronics were taken.  Thankfully we had our laptops and good cameras and the camcorder with us on vacation.  I can't help but think that whoever robbed us was not on bicycle.  I think they walked into our back yard, broke in our house, stole the small stuff, and rode out on our bikes.  Nice, eh?!

Oronzo, ever the optimist, said that we need to be thankful that they didn't clean out our entire house (they had 8 days to do so) or that we weren't in town when it happened and stumbled upon them in the midst of robbing us and endangered us or the children as a result.   And everything that was stolen is replaceable (except for the ring from my deceased aunt) and they are only possessions and therefor not all that important after all.   I wish I could focus on the positives but I'm just feeling depressed about our house being trampled through by strangers!  Yuck!

Now I wonder, do I tell my mom about the ring being stolen or do I wait until she asks after it?  What would you do?

Has your house ever been broken in to?  How long did it take you to feel safe in it again?

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5:00 AM

Friday, May 16, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (WeightWatchers Edition)

Happy Friday! It's time for my Favorite Ingredients Friday WeightWatchers Edition! Thanks to Tami at 3 Sides of Crazy for suggesting this theme. I love it!

The recipe I'm about to share with you is one that I found on a fun blog, Weight Watchers Recipes. Anna has so many great recipes posted on there but this is one of my favorites!

Weight Watchers Ratatouille

2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
1 cup chopped onions
1 large eggplant
3 medium zucchini
2 large green peppers
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
fresh ground pepper

1. Heat oil in Dutch oven or large saucepan, cook garlic and onions until tender.
2. Cut vegetables into 1-inch pieces.
3. Add the eggplant, zucchini, pepper,oregano, parsley and stir well.
4. Saute for about 5 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes, cover and cook over low heat for about 45 minutes.
6. Serve hot or cover mixture and refrigerate to serve chilled.

WW POINTS per serving: 2
Nutritional information per serving: 113 calories, 0.9g fat, 9.5g fiber

Now I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients WeightWatchers Edition recipe!

Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

For guidelines and my past Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes, click here.

Thanks so much for your participation. I do appreciate it!

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5:00 AM

Thursday, May 15, 2008
FIF WeightWatchers Edition tomorrow!

Even though I'm on vacation, I'm still hosting my Favorite Ingredients Friday WeightWatchers Edition tomorrow, thanks to the modern feature of Blogger that allows you to schedule posts in advance. I hope you can join in. I'll be with you in spirit as I'm sitting on the beach sipping a margarita!

I want to Thanks to Tami at 3 Sides of Crazy for suggesting this theme. If any of you have new ideas to share, please leave a comment.


5:00 AM

Wednesday, May 14, 2008
WFMW: It's 5 o'clock somewhere
Happy Wednesday to you! It's time once again to post another WFMW tip!

Before I post my tip I'd like to let you know of the launching of my new business where I'm selling a few of my items in an effort to raise money for the web design of my online store. I'd appreciate it if you'd stop by and take a look. And there is a giveaway being offered!

Now then, this week I'm coming to you live from Mexico, where the internet access is spotty but the margarita's are refreshing and it's always 5 o'clock somewhere (according to Jimmy Buffet)!  My husband I are here with our 3-year old son and 15-month old foster daughter.  We're having a blast hanging out on the beach, eating fresh seafood, and enjoying those margaritas!

I thought I'd share with you some of our vacation pictures.

View of the ocean from our condo.  We've seen dolphins three of the four mornings we've been here.

Here's another view of the ocean from a look-out point not far from where we're staying.

Boo and Snuggle Bug playing on the beach.

Snuggle Bug enjoying his early breakfast and watching for dolphins.

This is a picture taken by Snuggle Bug (he's 3 years old and likes to play with Mommy's camera).

Vacationing in Mexico (or anywhere for that matter) to recharge our spirits works for me. To find out what works for others, be sure to check out the other links at Shannon's, the creator of Works-For-Me Wednesday!

My past WFMW entries are found here.

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7:00 AM

Friday, May 09, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Apple Fritter)

Good Friday to you all! It's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange!  Before we get started I'd like to invite you to stop by later this morning and check out some of the goodies I'll be selling as part of my launching (sort of) of my Sparkle and Charm Boutique!

Upcoming Themed Schedule
May 16- Weight Watchers Edition (thanks Tammy!)
May 30- Memorial Day Edition II

Now then, most of you know by now that I have a sweet tooth.  I recently found a great apple fritter recipe on Recipe Goldmine that I wanted to share with you.  They're quite delicious!

Apple Fritters

Source: Apple Barn and Cider Mill - Sevierville, Tennessee

1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons margarine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 orange, rind and juice
1 cup apples, chopped, but not too fine
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat egg. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, egg, and melted margarine. Add the orange juice, rind, chopped apples (skins can be left on) and vanilla extract. Sift together the flour, salt and baking flour. Stir into milk mixture with a spoon until blended. Do not overmix.

Heat oil in a skillet to 350°F. Drop off end of tablespoon into hot oil. Fry to a golden brown. Turn so they brown evenly. Allow to cool.

Now, I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe! I won't be able to visit your recipes right away but fear not, I will stop by to visit your recipe as soon as I can!

Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

For guidelines and my past Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes, click here.

Thanks so much for your participation. I do appreciate it!

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5:00 AM

Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Doesn't Work For Me

Happy Wednesday to you! It's time once again to post another WFMW tip!  Shannon has asked us to post things that do NOT work for us!

De-Cluttering My House

My house is cluttered.  I have toys stacked in piles in various rooms, bookshelves overflowing with too many books (although I'm not sure you can ever have too many books), I have craft supplies coming out of my ears and in a jumbled mess in about 3 rooms of the house, my closets are crammed full of clothes that either need to be thrown away or given away because I no longer wear them.  The list goes on and on!

After trying to keep up with the housework and trying to stay motivated by following the advice of Flylady (can I just say my email box became too cluttered with those reminders), I finally broke down and hired a cleaning team to come in twice a month to do the deep cleaning.  The ladies do a nice job of that but I find myself cleaning for the cleaning people and my house is still cluttered!

I've thought of having a big purge and selling off stuff at a garage sale and then donating the rest, but who has time for that?!  So, my house still remains cluttered.

Any advice for me?  

De-cluttering my house does NOT work for me. To find out what doesn't work for others, be sure to check out the other links at Shannon's, the creator of Works-For-Me Wednesday!

My past WFMW entries are found here.


5:04 AM

Monday, May 05, 2008
Launching my new home-based business.
Rember this?

Last August I posted a "Name that business" contest to help generate ideas for the home-based business that I want to start. I even gave away a prize, despite the fact that I never did select a business name.

Well, I've chosen a business name and I've secured a URL and found a web hosting site. Now all I need is a blog design done. I'm hoping to use Susie at Bluebird Blog Designs but I haven't heard back from her yet and I'm not sure how long I can wait. Can anyone recommend other web designers out there? I need to find someone affordable. I can't afford the $300+ prices that some charge.

So, what is my business name, you ask? Well, I'm about to tell all. I wish I had a cute button to show you for my new name, but I can't seem to get creative enough to design one myself. I know for my business site I'd like to use the colors pink, green apple, and white so I suppose I'd like a button with my name in those colors. Anyone care to create me a button?

Okay, my business name will be

Sparkle and Charm Boutique

What do you think?

Initially I thought I would just try selling beaded jewelry, then I decided to add beaded bookmarks, and now I've decided to include hair accessories (children's hair bows and clippies).

I've been inspired by my blogging friend, Barb over at A Chelsea Morning, who posted some of her adorable burp clothes for sale even before she launched her online store A Chelsea Morning's Little Shoppe.

I'd like to get my feet wet, and hopefully raise some money to put towards the cost of my website design, by posting some of my products for sale on this blog.

Please join me this Friday, 9 May, for a Sparkle and Charm Boutique sale! I'll even be including a giveaway of some of my products!


7:20 AM

Saturday, May 03, 2008
Blogger now schedules future-dated posts

In case those of you who use Blogger missed the announcement on the Dashboard, you are now able to schedule future-dated posts! How fabulous is that?!

Our family is going on a mini-vacation, leaving 9 May and returning 17 May, and I worried about my poor little blog being left all by its lonesome while I was gone (internet access is doubtful where we're going). I thought about arranging guest bloggers to come in and publish posts for me but now I don't need to!

Now I can write up a couple of posts in advance (like a BloggedIn Highlight, Works-For-Me Wednesday, and Favorite Ingredients Friday), hit "publish post" and let Blogger take care of making sure they get published at the correct date/time. Blogger will do the work for me while I'm on vacation hanging out on the beach or frolicking in the ocean with the kids!

And you know what, this works! I tested the future-dated posting with this very post that you're reading now. I wrote it the night before and scheduled it for 6:00 AM (well before I'm up and about) and got a wonderful message on my dashboard that read, "Your post will be automatically published on 5/3/08 at 6:00 AM."

I am so loving Blogger right now!


6:00 AM

Friday, May 02, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Greatest Hits Edition)

Happy Friday! It's time for my Favorite Ingredients Friday Greatest Hits Edition! I'd like you to share one of your favorite FIF recipes that you've posted in the past. If you're brand new to FIF, just post one of your favorite family recipes.

To give credit where credit is due, I must admit that I got the "greatest hits" idea from Shannon when she ran her Works-For-Me Wednesday Greatest Hits Edition. Thanks, Shannon!

So, my past FIF recipe post has to be this one:

Oronzo's Italian Marinara Sauce

2 bulbs garlic
1 large yellow onion
10+ sweet Italian sausages
4 (28 oz.) cans of whole tomatoes
4 (6 oz) cans of tomato paste
oregano (to taste)
basil (to taste)
parsley (to taste)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
crushed red pepper (to taste)
3 whole bay leaves
1 bottle Merlot red wine
olive oil

Chop up onion (into large chunks) & garlic, throw in a large stock pot with olive oil & sauté until onion is soft and translucent.

Throw in sweet Italian sausages & cook until juice escapes sausages when pierced with a knife. Remove the sausages & place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until you're ready to add them later to the simmering sauce.

Add 1 can of whole tomato & 1 can of tomato paste + 1 tomato past can full of water into a blender & blend on pulse for just a few seconds. Pour mixture into stock pot with the onion & garlic. Blend the 2nd can of whole tomatoes & tomato paste (don't forget the tomato paste can full of water), pour into the stock pot, & continue until all cans have been blended & added.

Add about 1/2 to 3/4 bottle of Merlot wine to the pot of sauce. Drink the rest! :)

Add a handful of each (or more or less, according to your tastes) of oregano, basil, & parsley to the pot of sauce. Then add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste.

Put the Italian sausages (or pre-cooked meatballs) back into the sauce to simmer.

Put 3 whole bay leaves on the top of the sauce & leave in for flavoring while the sauce is simmering. Be sure to remove all bay leaves before serving.

Let sauce simmer for several hours before serving! Serve over pasta of your choice! Freeze leftovers for later meals.

Note: I realize this is a lot of ingredients and it takes a bit of time to make this sauce but it is SO worth it (it's the recipe from Oronzo's Italian grandmother so you know it has to be good)! You'll get a big stock pot worth of sauce that you can freeze into individual serving sizes to use later for pasta, pizza sauce, etc. This amount of leftover usually lasts our family a good month or so!

Now I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Greatest Hits Edition recipe!

Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

For guidelines and my past Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes, click here.

Thanks so much for your participation. I do appreciate it!

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5:24 AM

Thursday, May 01, 2008
May Pay It Forward Giveaway- 21 books a CD & a DVD up for grabs!

It's time for another one of my free Pay It Forward book giveaways!

For those who may have missed out, please read about the guidelines right here.

If you'd like to win this books, here is what you must do:

1. On your blog, write a post about this giveaway, using my "Pay It Forward" button, and then link back to my post. I am sure your readers would appreciate learning about the chance to win a book. You must complete this step to be put in the drawing, unless of course you don't have a blog!

2. Sign the Mr. Linky (the Mr. Linky is that list of names at the end of this post - just type your name in the box) with your name and the specific URL of your PIF post. Note: If you are not a blogger, you may still enter to win. Just sign your name on the Mr. Linky without a URL and then email me your contact information. Please note on your email that it is for the PIF book giveaway.

I'll announce the winner on Saturday morning, 27 June, so be sure to check back.

Best of luck!

If you have any books you'd like to Pay It Forward yourself this month, please leave me a comment and I'll link you in this post!

Additional Pay It Forward Giveaways:

Concluded Giveaways:

Cloudscome at a wrung sponge did a slight twist on my PIF Book Exchange (I loved it!). This month she's gave away a book, rather a kid's music CD and DVD called That Baby, on 15 May. Thanks, Cloudscome!

Jubilee at Notes of Jubilee gave away the book Finding Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson on 20 May. Thanks, Jubilee!

Cynthia at Springmont Cottage gave away the book Mr. Maybe by Jane Green on 20 May. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Cynthia!

Kathleen Marie at The Open Window gave away the book The Twilight of Courage by Brock and Bodie Thoene on 24 May. Thanks, Kathleen Marie!

Lori at Lori's Reading Corner gave away five books this month (how very generous)! She's giving away Back on Blossom Street (The Knitting Books #3) by Debbie Macomber, Belong to Me: A Novel by Marisa De los Santos, What Looks Like Crazy by Charlotte Hughes, Dying Breath by Wendy Corsi Staub, and The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner on 30 May. Thanks, Lori!

Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy gave away three books. She gave away The Perfect Summer by Luann Rice, Star Light Star Bright by Katherine Stone, and Cut and Run by Carla Neggers on 31 May. Thanks, Tamy!

Forgetfulone gave away the book Life Strategies by Dr. Phil on 31 May. Thanks, Forgetfulone!

Miss Paula at Gathering of Friends gave away seven books:

* Sullivan’s Island by Dorothea Benton Frank
* Plantation: A Lowcountry Tale by Dorothea Benton
* Shem Creek: A Lowcountry Tale (Lowcountry Tales) by Dorothea Benton
* Isle of Palms by Dorothea Benton Frank
* Pawleys Island: A Lowcountry tale (Lowcountry Tales) by Dorothea Benton Frank
* Full of Grace by Dorothea Benton Frank
* The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel by Dorothea Benton

Thanks, Miss Paula!

Dawn at Our Adoption Journey to Nowhere gave away the book I Choose This Day by Sharon Fieker on 31 May. Stop Thanks, Dawn!

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7:00 AM

Name: Overwhelmed

My complete profile

It wasn't supposed to work this way...Parts 1 through 10

(the story of the private, domestic adoption of our son)

(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)
(Part 4)
(Part 5)
(Part 6)
(Part 7)
(Part 8)
(Part 9)
(Part 10- Adoption Finalization)

Fostering isn't for the faint of heart!

(our journey to adopt again through foster-to-adopt, the good, the bad, & everything in between)

Adoption #2- considering the State
More Adoption #2 thoughts
Adoption #2- Back to considering the State
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 1)
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 2)
Family Foster Home Licensing Prep Checklist
Adoption #2- Long overdue update
PS-MAPP class homework assignment
Our preliminary home inspection went well!
Adoption #2: Licensing update
Adoption #2- Foster Facts
Adoption #2: I love it when things go my way!
Adoption #2- The home inspection
Adoption #2- We failed our home inspection!
Adoption #2- We passed the follow-up home inspection!
Adoption #2- Still waiting
Adoption #2- We're getting closer
Adoption #2- An update & a lead
Adoption #2- The lead that didn't pan out.
Adoption #2- We're licensed!
Adoption #2- We have a tiny baby here!
Adoption #2- Update on this precious little girl.
Adoption #2- Quick update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is staying longer!
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is growing!
Adoption #2- Overdue update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- The latest on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Shopping spree for Baby Bug
Being a Foster Parent Does Not Make Me A Saint
Adoption #2- Another Placement Call!
Adoption #2- Placement Meeting- UPDATED!
Adoption #2- We have Boo at our home!
Adoption #2- Meeting Boo
Adoption #2- I'm angry on Boo's behalf!
Adoption #2- A Birthday Party for Boo
Adjusting to three 3 and under!
Stressful moments in fostering.
Adoption #2- Update on our foster daughters
CPS Workers Jerking Our Chain!
It's getting much worse!
Fostering: Update on Baby Bug
Fostering: Update on Boo
The effects of fostering on Snuggle Bug
The time is drawing near to let go of Baby Bug.
Good conversation with Baby Bug's dad.
Boo has a Permanency hearing coming soon!
My heart is breaking!
Bittersweet news about Baby Bug.
Next Friday is going to be tough.
Packing up Baby Bug's belongings
It's done- Baby Bug is gone.
Working on finding peace, one day at a time.
Referral to the Early Intervention Program
Baby Bug update
Home Inspection for re-licensing
Parole granted for Boo's bio mom
Baby Bug is turning 1 year old soon.
Day 2 of Boo's permanency hearing
A prayer answered today!
Attending Baby Bug's 1st birthday party
Foster news
Good news for Boo's case
Boo's bio family visits
Termination Trial date set!
A new caseworker for Boo
I've been asked to testify in court.
Court hearing for "John Doe"
Contested termination trial begins tomorrow afternoon
Boo's adoption has been finalized!

Beautiful adoption video
Date Night Bliss
Family Rules and Values
In the swing of school
It's time for the kiddos to head back to school a...
Flying home for a nice, long visit!
Baby fix!
Easing back into blogging
A shocking phone call
1 year anniversary for Boo

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