Tuesday, June 30, 2009
When did kids bedroom furniture get so expensive?!
So, we're in the market for a new bed (and if I have my way, a new bedroom set) for Snuggle Bug. In specific, I want a twin bed with a trundle so that his little friends have a place to sleep when he starts doing sleepovers. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the idea of bunk beds yet, although I know he'd be thrilled.  He's only 4 1/2 years old.  I'd worry about him falling off in the midst of climbing up the ladder.

I've done research online and I must say I'm a bit shocked at the prices! Oronzo seems to think he's going to walk into a furniture store and walk out with a bed for $200. I told him that I seriously doubt he'll get anything of any quality for $200 (I don't want a metal frame for a bed)...and that's not even considering the additional cost of the mattress.

Here's a set I kind of like. Want to guess the price?

On sale for $400 + S/H (about $100 for that, I believe).  No mattress included.

This bed & trundle is about $450 + S/H, not including mattresses.

This white bed & trundle is $448 + S/H.

I like the white only because the rest of Snuggle Bug's furniture pieces (dresser, bookshelves) are white so it'd match.

If I had my way, I'd love to invest in an entire bedroom set for Snuggle Bug (and eventually for Boo too).  Sure, he's only 4 1/2 and really doesn't care, but it'd nice to get something of quality that would last him into at least his pre-teen years.  

This is what I'd love to get:

This set, priced at $1,450.00 (free S/H) includes:
  • Bed: headboard, footboard and siderails in either twin or full size
  • Dresser and Mirror: 6 drawer design and portrait style mirror
  • Chest: 5 drawer design
  • Nightstand: 2 drawer design
  • Trundle: pull out bed
Unfortunately, Oronzo says there's no way he's spending that kind of money on a 4 1/2 year old.  ((sigh))

I'm not sure what we'll end up getting.  Wish me luck in trying to search out the best prices!

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5:31 AM

Friday, June 26, 2009
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Lunch Box Meals Edition)

Happy Friday! It's time for my Favorite Ingredients Friday Lunch Box Meals Edition!
Sorry to get this post up so late in the morning. It's been rather busy in our household. I hope you'll join in on this one because I'm really hoping to get some fun lunch box meal ideas from you all!

The sandwhich recipe I'm about to share with you is one that I found on a fun blog, Parents.com. The kids actually really enjoy this. I made them test it out at home before I packed it for their lunch.

Almond Butter Sandwich

2 slices whole wheat bread
almond butter
slivered almonds
dried cranberries

Assemble and use a large cookie cutter to cut into a shape before putting it into the lunch box!

Now I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Lunch Box Meals 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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9:15 AM

Thursday, June 25, 2009
Product Review: Aroma Professional Rice Cooker & Food Steamer ARC-1000
A while back I got an email from Tricia with Aroma Housewares Company with information on their Aroma Professional Rice Cooker & Food Steamer (the ARC-1000 model). She offered to send me one to try and review on my blog!

I do love kitchen gadgets (Oronzo might say I have an addition to them) and I was quite excited to open this beautiful, digital rice cooker.

As I took it out of it's box and started reading the instruction manual, and then recipe booklet, I knew that this wasn't going to be a situation where I'd use it once and offer up a review.  I wanted to use it several times before I posted anything on my blog.

Let me just say, that our family really loves this rice cooker!  Truly, we do.

This isn't just a simple rice cooker.  The Aroma Rice Cooker has an easy-to-use digital control panel with multiple features: White Rice, Brown Rice, Quick Rice, Smart Steam and 15-Hour Delay Timer Sensor Logic™ technology self-adjusts for consistent, restaurant-quality results.  You just put in the rice and water, close the top, push a button and it does all the rest!  

This rice cooker will prepare up to 20 cups of rice and keep it warm for up to 12 hours.  When it's just the four of us, we usually only prepare 4 cups of cooked rice but we had friends over one night and I used it to prepare a much larger batch.  

The "Quick Rice" function cuts my cooking time down approximately 10-15 minutes when I'm in a hurry.  Or, I can plan ahead and use the delay timer to set the time that the rice will finish cooking, up to 15 hours in advance.

Here's the best part, I can use the "Smart Steam" feature and the steam tray that's included to steam meat or veggies, separately or simultaneously while the rice is also steaming,  to create delicious all-in-one meals!  No more dragging out my two pot All Clad steamer to boil water on the stovetop for steaming.  I love that I can have everything cooking at once!

Believe it or not, you can use this cooker to prepare oatmeal, soups, stews, desserts, and much more!  The Aroma digital rice cooker includes recipe booklet with a lot of great recipes (the marinara chicken fettucini and the pepper steak burritos are two of our favorites).  Plus you can go to the Aroma website and find even more scrumptious recipes to choose from!

Now, I have had one challenge with this rice cooker. The inner pot has a dark, non-stick coating for easy clean-up but the lines inside used to measure how much water to put in the pot are rather difficult to see.  I've had to get used to putting the inner pot under very good light to see those lines and my first attempt was a disaster (I put too much water in and ended up with gooey rice).  Thankfully my future attempts have been a success!

Beyond that slight challenge, I'm really impressed with this Aroma Professional Rice Cooker and Food Steamer!

If you'd like more information on the ARC-1000 professional rice cooker and food steamer, or other amazing kitchen products, stop by the Aroma Housewares Company site for more information.

Thanks, Tricia, for sending me one to review!

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6:10 AM

Monday, June 22, 2009
Recent Struggles with Boo
Nap and bedtime has become such a struggle with Boo since I've returned from my CA trip.  

When I try to lay her down for a nap or at bedtime, she instantly starts pitching a fit and screams until she's hoarse because she doesn't want to go to sleep.  Her tantrum is horrible, with her trying to lash out by hitting me and throwing things off of her bed.   

Nothing works to calm her down so I end up having to walk away and just let her throw her fit until she falls asleep from sheer exhaustion.

It really stresses me out and it doesn't help when Oronzo tells me she doesn't do this for him.  

I don't know if this is happening because she's angry that I left her for 7 days, or if my being gone brought up all her fears of abandonment from her first year of instability.  I'm not sure if she's just throwing these huge tantrums because she's 2 and stubborn by nature.

I just know that my heart aches to see her struggling with her emotions so much. 

Any suggestions on how to help her through this?

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6:44 AM

Saturday, June 20, 2009
Sweet chicks
I'm not sure if I mentioned this yet or not, but we have some new baby chicks!

Oronzo decided that getting some baby chicks would be a good thing (he had chickens when he was growing up as a kid).  

At first I wasn't thrilled with having chickens.  Sure, fresh eggs are probably much better than store bought, but I wasn't sure it'd be worth the hassle.

Oronzo was determined.  He said he'd build a chicken coop for them to live in and that he'd take care of them.

So, we now have 4 chicks.  The kids adore them.  Take a look!

So, does anyone else have chickens?

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6:03 AM

Friday, June 19, 2009
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Pasta with Grape Tomatoes)

Good Friday to you all! It's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange! I can't wait to see what you all come up with!

Check out my upcoming themed schedule below:

Upcoming 2009 "Themed" Schedule
June 26- Lunchbox Meals Edition
July 3- 4th of July Edition

This has become one of my favorite pasta dishes, especially since we planted cherry tomato plants in our backyard garden. I found this recipe on The Italian Chef. Enjoy!

Pasta with Grape Tomatoes


1/4 cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves sliced thin
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large basil leaves, chopped
salt to taste
1 pound spaghettini pasta
freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese for serving


1. Add olive oil and garlic to a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook until garlic is lightly browned, then add the
sliced tomatoes, red pepper flake, basil, and salt.
2. Saute the tomatoes until they are softened and have started to release their juices, about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of liberally salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente.
4. Strain pasta and transfer to the saute pan with the sauce and toss until completely coated.
5. Dish out into individual serving bowls and serve with grated Parmagiano-Reggiano.

Now, I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday 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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8:54 PM

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Heading home!
Hooray!  I'm packing up and heading home today!

I've been in CA for a full week now and I'm quite ready to be at home with Oronzo, Snuggle Bug, and Boo!

We've kept in touch via phone and iChat video conferences and that has helped but I can't wait to get home and get some hugs and kisses!


7:27 AM

Monday, June 15, 2009
Pretend Play
Oronzo and I chatted today and he told me something cute that the kids did today.

This afternoon they made a blanket tent.  Then Snuggle Bug backed up his favorite pillow and blankie into his Spiderman backpack, took Boo's hand, and called out to Oronzo, "Daddy, we're going to CA to see Mama.  Bye!"

Oronzo watched as the two of them went into their blanket tent (a.k.a. their plane) and headed for CA! 

How cute is that?!  I just love the pretend play that we're seeing with Snuggle Bug and Oronzo.  It's adorable.

Okay, time for me to hop on iChat so I can do a video chat with the family.   Later.

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7:00 PM

Sunday, June 14, 2009
Anyone live in the Lancaster, CA area?
I'm heading to Lancaster, CA for work.  I'll be here through Thursday afternoon.

Anyone live in this area?

Any recommendations on fun places to go when I'm not at work?


7:29 PM

Saturday, June 13, 2009
Family Reunions
This weekend I'm in San Francisco, CA attending a family reunion for my extended family on my dad's side. I arrived in CA on Thursday afternoon.

On my flight to CA, I mentioned to a fellow airline passenger that I was flying in for a family reunion and he commented, "Oh, good luck with that. I know those can be hard."

I assured him that I was very excited about this family reunion because my dad's family was a lot of fun! I haven't been disappointed.

So far, this family reunion has been filled with house remodeling tours, reminiscing, joke telling, lots of laughter, marveling at how our families have expanded, hugs, and cooking good food together!

There's something wonderful about connecting with extended family that you haven't seen in a long time! There's a comfortable camaraderie that falls into place instantaneously, as if you hadn't been apart at all.

My sister and I are sharing a hotel room (she lives in another state too). As we were getting ready to drift off to sleep last night I said, "Remember how we used to stay up all night talking?"
She replied, "I remember you scaring the crap out of me in recounting all of those horror stories you'd read!"

We probably spent a good our talking in the dark, laughing about old times. It was lovely!

In my opinion, family reunions are good for the soul and I'm thankful that I'm able to attend this one!

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5:26 AM

Friday, June 12, 2009
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Weight Watcher's Edition)

Happy Friday! It's time for my Favorite Ingredients Friday WeightWatchers Edition! Click here to see last year's Weight Watcher's recipe submissions.

The recipe I'm about to share with you is one that I found on a fun blog, Recipe Goldmine. The kids love this (so do I)!
Baked Gingerbread Pancake

This no-fuss pancake inflates like a balloon in the oven but sinks immediately on cooling, forming an inviting nest for toppings like yogurt or sliced pears.

1 spray butter-flavored cooking spray
1/2 cup fat-free skim milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup fat-free egg substitute
1 tablespoon dark molasses
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup low-fat lemon yogurt

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat an ovenproof nonstick skillet with cooking spray.

Stir together all ingredients, except yogurt, in a medium bowl; whisk until batter is lump-free. (Be careful not to overbeat.) Pour batter into skillet. Bake until pancake is firm but puffed up, about 12 minutes.

Immediately remove pancake from oven (it will deflate quickly) and cut into 4 wedges. Spoon one wedge onto each plate and top with 1/4 cup of yogurt.

Servings: 4 - points 4
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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6:00 AM

Thursday, June 11, 2009
A Superhero is born!
For over a month now, I've been meaning to make Snuggle Bug a superhero cape using the tutorial that I found over at Puking Pastilles. Since I'm leaving on a week-long trip today, I was determined to get his cape done before I left!

I cut and sewed until 11 PM last night, but finally it was complete (it has his name spelled out in yellow letters across the top, above the "S" but I used Photoshop to erase that part).  I tiptoed into his room and draped it at the foot of his bed so that he could discover it when he awoke in the morning.

I'm not sure when he first discovered it, but when I got up at 6 AM, I checked in on him and found him sleeping with it on!

Snuggle Bug woke up shortly thereafter and insisted on going outside to play "superhero" with his new cape.  He was so excited to have it!

I got quite a few pictures of him running in it.  I even shot some video.  

He asked to wear it to preschool this morning and I let him.  One of his little classmates said he wanted me to give HIM one. :)  I told him to ask his mommy to call me.

So, today, a superhero was born!  It feels mighty good to know that I made something with my own two hands that my son will treasure for a long time to come!

Thanks  Puking Pastilles for sharing your tutorial. My little superhero thanks you too!

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10:30 AM

Saturday, June 06, 2009
Simplicity 4203 shirt for Boo

I thought I'd post a picture of something I made for Boo recently!

Using the Simplicity 4203 pattern, I made Boo a top to match the skirt that I bought her a while back.  

Now, I could've gone out and purchased a t-shirt on sale for $5 at Target, but what's the fun in that? :)  

The top I made for Boo has been trimmed at the waist with some pretty blue flowers to tie in with the blue flowers in the skirt.

I'm going to have Boo wear her new outfit at church tomorrow.  I'll try to remember to take a picture of her in it.

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1:11 PM

Monday, June 01, 2009
Lunch box meals
Snuggle Bug and Boo are headed off to preschool summer camp this morning and, for the first time ever, the school is requesting that parents pack lunches for their kids (they're in summer camp from 9 AM- 1 PM three days per week).

Last week I went to several stores and tried to find decorative metal lunch boxes for the kids.  I couldn't find any (apparently they only come out during the back to school sales) so I ordered two online (Bob the Builder and Hello Kitty).  They arrived in the mail on Saturday and the kids LOVE them!

Last night, I went out and bought a bunch of things I thought the kids would like in their lunch boxes.  I bought things like fresh fruit, pretzels, Ritz bites snack crackers, yogurt, sugar free pudding, mild cheddar cheese, etc.

This morning Snuggle Bug and I cut up fruit and cheese (I used mini cookie cutters to cut the cheese into bit-sized fun shapes).  I made sandwiches (pb&j for Boo and ham & cheese for Snuggle Bug) and used a large metal cookie cutter to cut their sandwich in a fun shape  (a pumpkin ~ Snuggle Bug's choice) !  The cookie cutter was just big enough to use most of the sandwich without the crust.

So, in their lunch box this morning they have:

  • 1/2 sandwich 
  • container of milk
  • pretzels
  • strawberries
  • cheese
  • Welch's fruit snack pack
Do you pack your kid's lunch?  If so, what's in their lunch boxes?  What kind of lunch boxes do they have?

I think I'll plan on doing a Lunch Box Meals Favorite Ingredient Friday recipe exchange very soon because I could use some fun ideas!

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8:14 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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