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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

"29 days 'til spring. But who's counting?"

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy Birthday, Abbycadabra!

It is so hard to believe that 5 years ago, I became a Mimi!  Yes, indeed, it is our dear Miss Abigail's 5th birthday!!  In the blink of an eye...

My sweet Abby - you and your "magic hugs" that are meant to last until we see each other again - bring to mind this poem which is a favorite of mine and is a "gift" to you today.  Happy birthday, Abby!  Mimi loves you :)


I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.
       --Shel Silverstein

Friday, February 14, 2014

Never Too Late for Love

Ah, another Valentine's Day has arrived.  And have you properly gifted your sweetheart(s) today?  I had been working hard (and secretly, I thought) all week on a Valentine gift for hubby - a special playlist of songs for him from me on Spotify.....all selected carefully, listened to, dragged up to the "My Funny Valentine" playlist spot - you get the idea.  I spent some time on this so as I was preparing to finally sharing it with dearest hubby -- as I was getting ready to type, "Happy Valentine's Day" -- you can imagine my curiosity (and subsequent frustration) when I noticed a red flag up in the corner of my Spotify screen (this is where you are figuring out that I don't know much about Spotify).  I clicked on the flag and read that said hubby had started "following" the "My Funny Valentine" playlist 20 minutes earlier.  Geesh! So much for Valentine surprises!!

All is not lost - for me or for you, if you still are looking for last minute ways to share a Valentine message.  Pinterest had some ideas for the procrastinators among us (or for those of us who would rather not blow the family budget on an 8 pound box of chocolates....well, we would, know what I mean).  Here are a few that I found.

Have a couple of bananas and a Sharpie?

Of course, if your Valentine has a weakness for donuts instead of bananas, this is a great idea - and the link takes you to a free printable from Remarkable Home - easy peasy.

And finally, grab a couple of tootsie pops and some construction paper...

Hugs & Kisses, all!

P.S.  I really wasn't kidding about an 8 pound box of chocolates.  DeBrand's Chocolatier's was giving away this!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

"Yes, Virginia, there is a summer."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Goodness Bakes!

After another couple of subzero mornings, it was time for our favorite morning (and evening....and lunchtime) dish (yes, once it's made, we enjoy it for any meal - it is THAT delish and THAT versatile...well, at least for us.  We're not picky).

I give you - JoAnn's Baked Oatmeal (now JoAnn will tell you that this is Mary Sue's Baked Oatmeal, but I got the recipe from JoAnn, so there you go).  This 9" X 13" pan of awesomeness will warm you up and fill you up anytime this winter (and next fall - yes, we do start early with this one - as soon as the apples are ready, hubby and soccer girl will start asking for it).

One of the great things about this dish is that, for the most part, it is quite healthy.  Yes, it does call for some brown sugar -- but, I think next time we make it, I'm going to try reducing the amount.  I'm pretty sure it would be just fine with half the amount or maybe even one quarter the amount (I'll let you know when I do -- or if you beat me to it, post a comment and fill us in on your results).

The other change (healthier, I think) we tried last night was with the milk and the oil.  We used unsweetened almond milk instead of regular milk (I hardly ever use regular milk anymore, but we have it on hand for hubby's cereal) :)  And the oil?  In the past, we have always gone with 1/2 canola and 1/2 olive.  This time we did 1/2 coconut oil (melted it in the microwave) and 1/2 olive oil.  I thought the whole dish would have a coconut "taste" to it (which we really didn't think we would mind) as it had a wonderful tropical aroma when everything was mixed.  However, the finished dish didn't have any trace of a coconut taste to me at all.  We are using the coconut oil here and there, and this seemed like a good place to substitute it - it worked!

Other tips for "Baked Oatmeal":
* Night before prep dry ingredients, wet ingredients (refrigerate), and chopped fruit/nuts except apple (wait til morning to chop apple to prevent turning brown).
* An easy way to do the applesauce is if you have snack packs - they are 1/2 c. each
* Might be interesting/healthy to try this with egg whites/egg substitutes, too.
* I've been told this can be made with Splenda instead of the brown sugar.  Again, we will probably just try reducing the brown sugar first.  Then we may try adding Truvia (Splenda is still a no-no for me with migraines). :/

Finally, here's "JoAnn's Baked Oatmeal"!  Enjoy  :)

3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
3 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats  (real oats, not quick-cooking)

2 c. milk
1/2 c. oil (can use all olive oil, all canola, or 1/2 & 1/2)
2 eggs beaten
1/2 c. applesauce
1 t. vanilla

1 fresh apple chopped
1/4 c. dried fruit (cranberries, etc.)
1/2 c. ch. nuts (pecans, walnuts, etc.)

Preheat oven to 375 (350 for glass pan). Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir well. Add fruit and nuts. Pour into greased 9 X 13 inch pan. Bake 25 minutes.   Cool a little before eating.  Cover and refrigerate the rest.  Reheat portions in microwave.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Wearing Red?

Got your red on?  In case you didn't know, today is National Wear Red Day in the "Go Red for Women" healthy heart campaign by the American Heart Association.  Yes, I'm wearing red, and I'm also sharing some favorite "reds" that I've found today -- enjoy!

A beautiful infinity scarf that is full of not just red, but of wonderful other colors in its details from EasyStreets on Etsy.

This fun but warm-looking "newsboy" cap from ActingCrazy on Artfire - a brilliant warm red.

Sooo adorable -- love, love this red, "red riding hood" sweater from WildernessSerenity on Etsy.

And this is perfect for holding a much needed shawl in place this winter! Beautiful! From 2GoodClaymates on Artfire.

Finally, I'm glad to finally get something new and RED listed in the Etsy shop.  It's perfect for you if you're crazy for polka dots!

I hope you're joining me in wearing red and encourage others to get on board.  February is "Go Red for Women" month so you've got plenty of opportunities to "celebrate red" as you promote healthy hearts for women!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Opening Doors 
(if you would like to take this quiz, the answers are at the end of this post)

I saw this on my Facebook Feed this morning - you know, one of those innocuous little quizzes that seem to be floating by with increasing frequency....what college should you have gone to, what career should you be doing, what Broadway musical should you be in, if you could be a color of the rainbow what would you be, if you were an animal from the 17th century... If you are on Facebook, I think you know what I'm talking about.

Most of the time I will pass these by.  Sometimes I succumb.  This one intrigued me.  I love colors, and I've always been interested in the different designs of doors.  The  source of this "quiz" also piqued my curiosity:  Now, when I tried the link, it was not working - perhaps, you'll have better luck.  I did find their Facebook page:,  and  I found that to be a fun, inspiring, "creative" place to explore.

What was my choice?  Well, don't continue reading if you haven't made your selection yet as I wouldn't want to "spill the beans" if we happen to be the same...{{allow time for you to make your choice}}....{{go on...}}.... Ok, this was pretty easy for me as there was only one door that really "shouted" out to me, and that was door six.  The color is my favorite, and that color combined with the door's classic and traditional styling made it the perfect choice for me.  When I read the description for this door, it was pretty scary spot-on.  Whoa!!  Very interesting.

Which door did you choose?  Or perhaps, more than one?  Does the description fit you for where you are right now?  Don't forget to "wander" over to  (hopefully will be working soon?)  and for more creative inspiration...or just plain procrastination ;)

Pick the door that looks the most appealing to you. This might reveal a few things about your personality. Let us know what door you picked and if the answer was accurate for you. Feel free to SHARE!

1 - You are a fun individual that likes to keep things light and airy. You are all about nurturing others and appreciating the simple luxuries in life; such as your fine dishware, favorite candle or eating artisan bread from the local bakery. You most likely have a love for traveling and other cultures. You truly want the best for everyone and love creating a welcoming atmosphere. It is important to remember that if you ever feel that you need help or support, it is OK to just ask someone.

2- You are clean and simple and don’t like any frills. You might strive to have a clean and perfect existence; but is it totally worth it? Don’t you feel that there is something missing? You are all about your personal achievements and you take pride in your work or career. Although you might be on track with your career path or have a few diplomas/ certificates on your wall, you need to spend more time on developing yourself as a person. Remember... the real you. Life is all about creating balance, surrounding yourself with color and creating memorable adventures. If you are finding that you have been taking the safe road lately, try veering off the beaten path. You might surprise yourself!

3 – It is obvious you are a quirky individual and very interesting to the people that you let into your life. You are good at many things... a “Jack or Jill of all trades”. You are an artistic individual that expresses yourself in many ways. You can make something out of anything and are not a stranger to your local thrift shop. You can basically make vintage “new” again. It is easy to get stuck inside the house or inside your urban bubble; but remember that you have to get out and connect with nature. It is time to come down out of the clouds and get grounded!

4 – You are an old soul that can be slightly dramatic. You are a very artistic person that loves to express yourself through writing, music, art or some kind of expression. You are a dichotomy; for you can be very open and friendly, yet closed and deeply private. You often have your guard up, keeping your thoughts and troubles to yourself. Although you might think that nobody will truly understand you, if you allow yourself to open up and share your feelings, you will feel so much better. Deep down you are not aright with any imperfections and you feel the need to come across as “the rock” in any group situation. Know that people are willing to share their feelings with you and want you to share your feelings with them.

5 – It is very important for you to fit in and feel as though you are a major contributor in every situation. You always have things going on, for being productive is what makes you feel at ease. Your busy-ness can sometimes cause the need for you to become more aware of what is really going on around you. What does your body want you to be doing? It is alright to relax on a Monday and simply just BE. Feel free to take some time to figure out what you really love to do. Possibly try some new hobbies or activities that are out of your normal routine. Explore being you, even if that means relaxing. Life is not just about how many muffins you can make in a single batch or how many fit-it jobs you can do in one day.

6 – You are a confident person with an eye for detail. You can come across as someone who is all together and exciting; yet you are just YOU on the inside. You care about your appearance and how the world sees you, yet the inside your home or car is probably a total mess! Your personality can be self destructive, for you could turn against yourself when the going gets tough. The life of a person who is a living a total contradiction... has got to be a difficult one. Remember to breathe and just relax. Life is not just about pleasing others. Truth is, the world isn’t always watching... Take time to reflect on who you truly want to be? What is it that you truly want to do?

7 – You are a simple minimalist that always has important things to do. You care for others and find your time anything but your own. You surround yourself with meaningful things, for you are very sentimental. Family and friends are very important to you and you would do anything for them. Not putting yourself first has made your life a safe and complacent one. What is it that can enrich your life today? What will make your life more colorful and enjoyable? Even though life gives you labels such as a mother, father, wife, husband, teacher, manager, etc; remember that your life is still YOUR life. Take a moment to decide what you want your future to look like. It is perfectly acceptable to want wonderful things to happen to you. Carpe Diem.

8 – Your fun and playful personality keeps you young and youthful. Although you are easy going, you tend to have lower self-confidence and anxiety about specific things in your life. You are usually unorganized; yet don’t even know where to start to help yourself to fix the messy problem. You are a proud individual but you need to learn to love yourself more. You need to take the time to find yourself through self expression. How are you currently expressing yourself to the world? Remember that there are people around you that can help you, but you need to let them know you are willing to receive help. Life is easier when you let people in.

9 – You are a quirky person that is always making things work. You are an amazing problem solver that prides yourself on your thrifty living. You like to live an uncomplicated life and usually get by with the basics. Why would you need anything else? You are very easy to please and love doing things for others. Whether it be fixing your neighbors toilet, building a bird house for your mother out of reclaimed wood or helping your friend find a great living room set at the thrift shop; you are always there to lend a hand. Remember that life is special. It is OK to treat yourself to amazing things. You are special too!

10 – You are one who truly appreciates stability and wholeness. You are a reliable person that takes pride in their love of quality and detail. Some might say “cookie cutter”, but you say dependable! You always know what you are getting because you have checked the consumer reports. You love safety and security in all parts of your life. You prefer not to have anything frivolous or extra, if you can’t see the use for it. Chances are you have some sort of creative side that you have curbed in some way. You might love scrap-booking, music or art; yet would never try to make it your career. You feel your problems are your own and nobody needs to be burdened with them. Just keep in mind that exposing your true self to the world (or your neighbors) is not a crime. We are all human.

Monday, February 3, 2014

One for the Birds

I have seen a lot of winters {insert age jokes here} and in many places (Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Indiana - yep, moved a lot).  And while I'm not saying this is the worst winter I've seen, I'm definitely ranking it towards the top -- I think it's an age thing.  Yeah, I'll say it.  It's an age thing.  Cold, ice, snow, wind....repeat....cold, ice, snow, wind.  Not doing it for me anymore.

So, yes, for me, this winter is for the birds.  But, it really is for the birds.  This picture, taken from two storms ago (and I've lost count on our total number of snowfalls this year), is at the end of our driveway where the wintry trees and shrubs are home to several families of cardinals.  They will even stay put if we drive toward the garage slowly.

We have had our bird feeders out since the summer, but the winter activity has been fun to watch.  This feeder is just outside our family room window, allowing us a close-up view, and to the right is a miniature evergreen where the birds often "hang out" between eating. 

The two biggest challenges are keeping the feeders filled in the middle of or in between storms - here's hubby trying his best - and an ongoing battle with a family of black squirrels from our neighbors' tree.  The squirrels seem to think we are feeding them, and at any given time, we may look out and see one of them clinging to the feeder and chomping away, spilling seed to the ground.  Hubby will bang on the window - doing his best Clark Griswold or The Old Man Parker ("The Christmas Story") imitation - to chase them defiant squirrel found itself the target of a tennis ball this weekend when it didn't respond to the banging window. :)

Of course, the birds still enjoy the feed either way - from the feeder or on the ground.  But with this winter weather and greedy squirrels, birdseed is becoming a weekly staple on the grocery list.

If anyone has any suggestions for dealing with the squirrels, please let me know! We've tried WD40 on the pole and no, please, no guns. ;)  Meanwhile, we'll keep feeding everyone, I suppose and wait for spring!