Monday, August 30, 2010

The Camping Excursion

We finally took the plunge.

After talking about it for months, we finally borrowed our neighbors' tent and went for it: camping in the back yard, with our two young kiddos.

One was very excited about it, while the other was a bit reluctant.

After the tent was set up, the sleeping bags and blankets were laid out, the pillows were put in place and the toys and books were strewn properly...after teeth were brushed and potties were used one last time, we all got in, zipped the door shut, and started our adventure.

Which quickly turned into misery.

Everyone was visibly tired, so after 20 minutes of book-reading and laughing, we found our pillows, snuggled in, put the blanket on top, and said our Goodnight's. The light was turned out, and Danae quickly and easily hunkered down and attempted to fall asleep. Caedon, on the other hand...

He twisted here, rolled there, jumped on Daddy's back, laid back down, whined, stood up, ran over there, jumped over here, couldn't find his Bear, whined some more, snuggled into Mommy, pulled Danae's hair, found Bear and the sippy cup, snuggled into Daddy, stood back up...and finally declared, "Sleep in crib! House! Sleep in crib!" And the crying began (on all accounts).

I tell you, that boy is totally a creature of habit.

After 30 minutes of calming him down, he finally nodded off. Then at 2:00am, when nature called and my back was throbbing in pain...when we realized that our kids' faces were ice-cold and that I might not ever be able to walk again, Hubby and I made the decision to go back into the house, to our WARM padded bed. Caedon woke when he heard us talking, and upon learning that he could possibly go back to his crib, he immediately jumped up, grabbed his prized possessions (sippy cup and Bear), and headed for the door. We bribed Danae by telling her she could sleep in our bed, got back into our home, and order (and SLEEP!) were restored. The End.

Lesson learned: Two year olds don't make for that great of camping buddies. Wait 'til they're older.

And sorry for the lack of pictures, but didn't want to see this train wreck.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Coffee Mocha...and a WINNER!

We're pulling double-duty here today: posting a recipe and announcing a winner! :o)

(And I better hurry because I have to be at work in 50 minutes, haven't showered, and just started sipping my coffee as I sit down to type. Yikes!)

Speaking of coffee...;o)

Thanks to my lovely mama, I grew up in a house where a pot of the stuff was brewing every morning, every afternoon, every time an aunt or uncle stopped, more than likely that's why I have acquired a taste for it. That and it's probably in my blood.

So, not long after we moved into our house, our wonderful neighbor got to know me enough to know that I drink coffee. One day, she showed up at my door with this:

A coffee mocha drink of sorts...wonderful coffee taste, frosty, cool, and refreshing! Here's what you do to get one of your own:

- Make coffee and freeze it in an ice cube tray.
- Throw the tray of cubes, 1 1/2 cups of milk, and a squeeze of chocolate syrup into your blender. Blend.
- Add just a little bit of sugar, or as much as you like to whatever sweetness you want.
- Pout the mixture into a cup, top with a little bit of whipped topping, and start sipping.

THAT'S IT! SIMPLE! Now you have your own Coffee Mocha drink to enjoy on a hot summer day! Or you can find a neighbor as cool and wonderful as mine to make you one. Either way.

NOW, on to the cookbook winner!

Thanks to all who commented on that post and for checking out Gooseberry Patch online!

The lucky winner has been chosen (using a True Random Number Generator from, and...

the winner is...

Amanda over at Life on the Lane!

(That might be her blog, but I also know she's over in NC...we grew up together!) :o)

Congrats, Amanda! She will be receiving her very own copy of "101 Autumn Recipes", straight from Gooseberry Patch!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tasty Wednesday - and a COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY!

So, yes, I'm totally aware that today is Wednesday and the title I've usually gone with is "Tasty Tuesday". I'm a little behind this week in let's just mix it up a little and go with it! ;o)

This past week I've been enjoying my free time (you know, the 10 minutes at the dinner table when the kids are eating) by flipping through a brand-new cookbook. The wonderful folks at Gooseberry Patch sent me a copy of "101 Autumn Recipes", which is chock-full of yummy creations that make you think crisp leaves, fuzzy sweaters, and warm drinks. Yes, it's a far cry from the heat wave we are experiencing here in the Northeast. But looking through this cookbook just makes me even MORE excited for the Fall!

Just think: Harvest Home Roast Turkey...White Maple Fudge...Ham & Potato Chowder...Harvest Apple Cheesecake...these recipe titles are just a taste of the deliciousness in this cookbook! We tried out the Kielbasa Mac & Cheese and the Overnight Cherry Oatmeal. YUM! And not only is this cookbook spiral-bound and easy to flip through, but it also has full-color pictures of EVERY recipe...which is super helpful for us visual types!

So, instead of me posting a recipe for you to enjoy, Gooseberry Patch is going to give "101 Autumn Recipes" to one of you!

Want to win it? Here's what you need to do:
1) Leave a comment on this post...anything will do!

That's it! Easy!

To earn extra entries, you can:

1) Click here to go to the Gooseberry Patch website, click on their Facebook link, and become a Gooseberry Patch fan.
2) Follow Gooseberry Patch on Twitter (@gooseberrypatch).
3) Link to this post on Facebook.

If you do any or all of the extra entries (or if you already do them), be sure to tell me so I can count your entries!

The deadline to enter is 11:59pm on Monday, August 16th. The winner will be announced next Tuesday!

Happy cooking! ;o)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Day Away

These days, it's rare for us to take a day and get away...leave behind the ginormous "to-do" list of chores and work...forget about things for a little while and just enjoy being a family. (I'm sure many of you can relate!) Busyness just tends to get a hold of us, not to mention the fact that we are penny-pinching frugal freaks who want to have fun, but on the cheap.

We have been wanting to take the kids to a nice zoo, (Philadelphia, for example) for a while now, mainly to show them that we still love them immensely and know how to be fun parents despite being busy. ;o) But to be honest with you, Philadelphia Zoo is just plain EXPENSIVE in my mind, especially with two young kids who will last 3 hours max. (Sorry, Philly...I just can't justify spending almost $80 for just a couple hours of animal-gawking. Nope. Can't do it.)

Alas, Hubby came to the rescue with an awesome suggestion: leave for the day (or most of it) and go to Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Just a little over an hour drive from our house, $4 per person to get in (and my crazy 2 year old was still free!), free parking, a $5 safari could it get any better?

So, we packed up the kids and headed out on our little adventure. We listened to a sermon and praise and worship music on the way out (between Caedon's continuous crying...more on the not-so-joyous car rides we have with our son at a later time), stopped for a quick brunch (my children ordered hotdogs at 10:30am...yeah, we thought it was gross, too...but they SO wanted them and ate almost all of their food, so we went with it), and arrived to find it was Wild Days Weekend. Children could get balloons, free pony rides, a $5 coupon for the gift shop or concession stand, see animal parades, and more! ALL INCLUDED.

(Doesn't that teenager look so excited to walk that pony around with my son on it? I think he just loves his job, don't you? I should send him a copy.)

We walked around the entire place for about 2 hours while safely navigating our two "we love to nap" children through their routine nap time. Deciding whether or not to push nap time back is a dangerous line to cross, let me just tell you. But they had PLENTY of animals to see and keep their minds occupied.

(That paper floating in the water would be our map that my son so lovingly shoved through the fence, got a warning to not throw it, thought about the warning, and threw it anyway. He's wearing his two-year-old colors ever so proudly these days.)

Anyway, then on to a 45-minute Safari ride, which we all loved! Animals that come right up to the bus and want to eat out of your hand and hit the bus with the pointy things on their heads? C'mon now...who doesn't love that?!

What did that last one get in there??? Sorry...I'll try to keep this G-rated. Moving on...

In the end, we thought it would be great to go back to Lake Tobias once each summer, jumping on board with the "staycation" trend that seems to be big this summer. Really, spending less than $30 for a day of walking around a mini-zoo and going on a Safari ride is a great deal and is much more affordable and kid-friendly than most getaways out there.

And, yes...while we did push nap time back and have somewhat cranky kids at the end of the afternoon, they did, in fact, fall asleep on the way home and are now taking a late nap. Hey, it's better than nothing!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Cucumber Punch

'Tis the season for lemonade!

The classic, refreshing summertime drink, in a tall clear glass...can't you just hear the ice clinking now?


Well, let's twist it up a bit!

Introducing Cucumber Punch: just as refreshing (I think, anyway!) as lemonade, easy to make, and an interesting taste! I came across this recipe in a recent Healthy Cooking magazine (by Taste of Home), used it at a get-together, and loved it! Enjoy!

Cucumber Punch
  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can (12 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 2 liters diet ginger ale, chilled
  • 4-1/2 cups diet citrus soda (ex: Diet Sprite), chilled
With a zester or fork, score cucumbers lengthwise; cut width-wise into thin slices. In a large pitcher, combine water and lemonade concentrate; add cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Just before serving, transfer cucumber mixture to a punch bowl; stir in ginger ale and grapefruit soda. Yield: 25 servings (4-3/4 quarts).