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Taco Pasta

>> Monday, January 30, 2012

This is a really easy recipe that has entered our regular rotation of dinner recipes.  My kids both like it, which is pretty rare.  The recipe came from here:  Taco Pasta  There are some great recipes on this site, so make sure you either check out the recipe index or go to home and scroll back through her recent recipes.

Taco Pasta
1 pound ground beef or turkey or morningstar crumbles
8-12 ounces medium pasta shells or other small dry pasta shapes
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, drained (if making this for kids you might want to use just plain diced tomatoes but I used the green chilies and my kids didn't say it was too spicy)
1 packet (4 tablespoons) taco seasoning
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream ( I used reduced fat)
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground meat over medium-high heat until no longer pink. A few minutes before the meat is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Once the meat is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit if it is still too thin.


Painted Entertainment Center

>> Friday, January 27, 2012

I'm embarrassed to show you these pictures of my mess, but I will anyway.  I think I've said before, but we moved into a 2 bedroom apartment in July until the house we are building is finished (hopefully April).  We've done pretty well, considering the huge decrease in square footage.  But finding space for all of our stuff is a big challenge, even though most of it is in storage or in our garage.  We left most of our furniture in the house we are trying to sell now.  We had this old entertainment center in our basement and it housed a tv I watched while on the treadmill.  We decided since it was small and pretty light, we would just use it until we moved into the new house.  It was super ugly, and the glass on the door had broken a few years ago.

First I took off all the doors, shelves, etc.  Then I painted with 2 layers of a Martha Stewart paint.  (I was trying to do it pretty fast and I don't intend to keep it very long; otherwise I would have used a primer first).  Let the paint dry completely between coats.  Next I brushed the entire thing with a metallic glaze (also a Martha Stewart product from Home Depot) and then wiped the glaze off with a damp cloth until  I liked the amount of glaze left.  Then I sanded all the edges and wiped them with a minwax stain to give more of a distressed, antique finish.  I filled in the holes with wood putty and added some knobs.  I also stapled some chicken wire inside of the door.  My husband cut a board for the back for me also.

Overall, I thought it was a major improvement and it looks pretty cute in person.  If you have interest in repainting a piece of furniture, there are some great resources available.  Searching pinterest for "repainting furniture" or "refinishing furniture" should get you started.



>> Thursday, January 26, 2012

Have I told you how much I LOVE craigslist?  If you've never visited the site, you're missing out!  It's a virtual garage sale where you can buy and sell junk stuff.  It's part of the reason we were able to become debt-free last year.

So, I got it in my head that we needed a new table for our kitchen.  It's kind of an eat-in kitchen and it's not a huge place, but our dining room has CARPET, so the daily place for us to eat our meals is at the kitchen table. We do have some bar stools at our counter now that I have made the top bigger and there is an overhang.  The boys love to eat breakfast there, but they also like to stand on the stools and that resulted in a trip to the ER a few weeks ago (mild concussion and he is fine, but it scared him and momma!).

Anyway, our table was oval.  I got that on purpose because I thought the boys would have less corners to run into and less trips to the ER or bruises on their foreheads.  Which is probably true.  Except there were a few problems.  (Please excuse the low-quality photo taken late at night and taken for craigslist so it shows the leaves and the extra chairs in the background)

See how the legs of the table aren't very wide apart.  So, unless you add a leaf or straddle the legs, you could only fit 4 people at the table.  There were two leaves, but when I added those, the table was really long and made it really difficult to get around.  I have taken the photo standing in the kitchen, and the living room is in the background, so it's essential to be able to walk around the table.  The other problem?  See the bottom of the legs?  Those are WHEELS.  Which makes it really easy to add the leaves in, but also makes it really easy for two boys to sit at the dinner table and try to crush the other person with the table.  There's also a nice beveled edge.  Which is a dried food magnet.  Oh, and the crack for the leaves?  Yeah, right where the boys sit.  Which means pulling apart the table after every meal to clean out the crack.  Otherwise it's YUCK CITY!  

Which lead me to looking on Craigslist for an alternative set.  You see, I do have 4 year old and 2 year old BOYS, so I wasn't looking to spend a lot of money because it's pretty much going to get trashed over the next 5-10 years.  I stumbled across a nice set with a BUTTERFLY leaf (yeah, no more "where do I store this stupid leaf?) and it extends to a square to make 2 people sit on each side.  Which also means the crack is where Steve and I sit and not the boys.  Also, the legs are in the corner of the table so we can fit 6 chairs at the table without any problems.  Here's to hoping the boys don't have any problems with the corners!

And the best part?  The table I had before was Pottery Barn (that I had purchased off craigslist about a year ago!) and I was able to sell it for more than the one I purchased.  Oh, and while I was at it, I got a nice rug.  Off Craigslist, of course :)


Cure for Wet Electronics

>> Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In the past month, I have gotten a lot of experience trying to salvage electronics that have gotten wet.  Not just splashed, but submerged into water of some type.

On Christmas Day, the boys found my iPod in my bag and decided to carry it around my Grandmother's house.  We were expecting like 35 people there that day, so it took it away from them and put it in my back pocket.  I didn't want it to get lost or stepped on, and thought it would be safer with me than the boys.  Which is usually true, but as I pulled down my pants to go to the bathroom, I heard a plop and turned around to see my iPod at the bottom of the toilet.

*Not an actual image of my iPod in the bottom of my Grandmother's toilet :)
I quickly grabbed it out of there, used a tissue to try it off and went to the kitchen to find a zip-loc baggie and some rice.  I didn't attempt to turn it on at all, but waited a couple days and worked!

The next instance of drying out electronics was at night.  I was responding to a couple emails for cake requests (my home-business) and the boys decided to take a bath.  Steve was teaching that night, so it was just me at home.  I guess I was more focused on what I was doing than I thought and the next thing I realized, the bathtub was full of water (just under the overflow protection thing) and also full of toys.  Ryan had added some pillows, a towel, some toys from the toy box and these two electronic toys:

The first is a night light, music thing that Tyler uses in bed at night and the other is a NEW flashlight that Ryan had gotten for Christmas about 2 weeks earlier.  UGH.  I immediately switched both toys to the off position, removed the batteries and stuck them in zip-loc bags of rice.  Ok, I guess it wasn't immediately because I emptied the tub of water, made the boys get their jammies on and sent them to bed.  And then I took care of the stuff in the tub.

Guess what?!  Both toys still work.  Here's my tips for if you ever have an electronic submerged in water:

  1. Immediately turn it off.  Do not try to see if it still works.  You will fry it.
  2. Use a towel to dry it off as much as you can.
  3. Remove any batteries that it contains.  Keep the battery "door" off to help dry it out.
  4. Put about 1/2 cup of rice into a zip-loc bag that the toy will fit into.  You will want to use a bag that can close with the toy/electronic device in it.  
  5. Shake the rice so it get's as close to the water inside as you can get it.  i.e. make sure it gets into any holes that are in the toy so it can suck out as much water as possible.
  6. Leave it alone for a few days.  I would say try 2 days and then remove the item and see if it feels dry. You can also smell the rice, and it it's wet, you might want to get new rice and let it sit for a couple more days.
  7. After it's all dry, remove the item, add the batteries and turn it on.  
Hope this works for you!


The Dave Ramsey we survived!

>> Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just about 1 year ago, we became debt free except for our mortgage.  It was such an exciting thing for us and totally a life-changer, so I thought I would share our journey with you.

It all started almost 10 years ago.  Steve and I met, fell in love, got married and within a couple months went out and bought a brand new car.  Steve had already purchased a house shortly before we met, so we already had a mortgage (a small one, because the house was tiny!)...what a better way to start out our marriage than by getting into debt?  Of course we got an awesome deal of around $18,000 for a CAR...but it was at 0% interest rate and the payments were affordable.  Then, I bought our wonderful Kirby sweeper. Now, I do love the thing and it works great, but it was like $1200 and we put it on financing...we had the cash, but it was at 0% interest for like 9 months, so we paid it off right before the first payment was due.  And then, we bought a washer and dryer...and you guessed it, 0% interest for a short period and we took advantage of the great offer and financed it again.

Then we decided we needed a bigger house.  Ok, so it was more me that Steve.  Because he had purchased the house on his own, it wasn't in a location I would have chosen, it wasn't the style of house I would have chosen, and we could afford more of a house, so why not?!  It took us almost 2 years to sell the stupid thing, but we finally got out and just about broke even.  I think we maybe made $500, which we put to paying the bill for storing our stuff while we looked for our bigger and better house.  We finally decided to pay a little more than we initially wanted to get a bigger, better house than we originally thought.  So, we stretched ourselves a little, but not too much because we were both working.  Our payment was about 25% of our take-home pay, so definitely still in the conservative category.

We had some cash savings, but instead of using that for a down payment we got creative with our financing and financed the entire house and used our savings for a fence for the yard, new appliances (and not the cheap ones, either), some new furniture to fill up the new house, you get the picture.  About a year after we moved in, we decided we also needed a newer vehicle.  Mine was literally falling apart and was still my car that I had from high school.  But, we decided we needed an SUV and we also needed a car payment to make it happen.

Everything we did from the time we were married (even before) to about 2007 was just living the normal American lifestyle.  It wasn't until we were pregnant with our first child that we really thought about what we were doing with our money.

My mom was (and still is!) a stay-at-home mom.  I am the oldest, and my youngest sister is still in high school.  I'm grateful that my mom was able to stay at home and care for us, but I always thought I would be bored and didn't ever want to stay at home full-time.  I thought that I would like to work at least part-time so I could keep my sanity.  But then I got pregnant and everything started to change.  I couldn't imagine leaving my precious baby with someone else all day or even part of the day.  But there was a problem.  We had too many expenses each month for the amount of money my husband brought home.  Almost enough, but not quite.  The difference?  The stupid $315 car payment for our lovely SUV.  I wasn't going to let that come between me staying home or working, so we promptly started chucking $1000 payments towards the thing.  I was able to stay home with my son for the entire 12 week leave that I was allowed to take (but it wasn't all paid!) but then I had to go back to work for 6 months until we could get the vehicle paid off and I didn't have to work anymore.  We paid the car off on a Friday and I turned in my 2 weeks notice that Monday.  I loved my job, but with having kids, suddenly priorities shifted.

As I said, my husband could now cover all of the expenses with his income.  Except that our house payment was about 50% of our income now.  My income was just slightly under 50% of our household income, so while we could do it, there was no breathing room at all.  Finally, in 2009 after reading about this Dave Ramsey guy on a lot of the blogs I followed, I decided my new year's goal was to find out more about him and do the Financial Peace University course.  Because we had baby #2 on the way and I was scared.

So, early in 2009, we had a chance to do the FPU course for the first time at our church and it was a life-changer.  While we lived within our means before and had only once carried a credit card balance (our first Christmas together), we realized that we didn't have a plan.  And without a plan, it seemed like our bank account was always teetering towards $0 and that we would never get ahead.

So, during the course, we got our act together, wrote everything down in a budget, and made a plan for the future.  Our debt snowball was pretty easy...only one item that we put on it.  The 20% portion of our mortgage (which wasn't exactly 20%, but it was what the loan officer told us to do).  Technically it was over 50% of our annual income, so it should have been put in Baby Step #6 (mortgage) instead of #2 (debt snowball), but we didn't have any breathing room and needed to knock it out in order to make it.

So we ATTACKED it with a vengeance as Dave Ramsey likes to say.  From around April 2009 - January 2011, we had baby #2 and we paid off our 2nd mortgage!  WE'RE DEBT FREE!  It was amazing how much extra money we found in our budget when we wrote everything down, stopped making those small impulse purchases that added up to hundreds of dollars, and cut our lifestyle for that time in order to get ahead.  I mean, we didn't make any extra money during that 20 month stretch (Steve didn't get any raises) but yet we were able to find extra thousands of dollars to chuck directly towards the principal on the mortgage.  It.was.awesome.  It was also a lot of hard work, sacrifice and tears, but totally all worth it.

So, from now on, whenever our house buys a new car, takes a vacation, or buys Christmas presents, you can be sure that we paid cash for it :)  Because we will never again be "slave to the lender."  We  do have our main mortgage still, but we chuck extra money at that every month and have a goal of paying it off in 8-10 years max. Because being debt-free is worth it.


What's a Mom to do?

>> Monday, January 23, 2012

So, I've been to a couple of "girls nights out" in the last couple months.  At a couple of these outings, we have played the game, "What's a Dame to Do".  It's a fun game, kinda like "Apples to Apples" except you are given situations pertaining to women and then everyone picks a card from their hand and the person that has the situation gets to pick the card they like the best.

Anyway, I've had a few of these "What's a Mom to Do" situations in the last couple months and thought I would ask our blog readers..."What's a Mom to Do?!"  This is a blog post I would LOVE to get some responses to, because I really want to know what you would do!


Situation #1:  At a family gathering, an electronic device is stepped on and the screen is cracked.  No one saw what happened, but the logical explanation is that one of your children had something to do with it (probably unknowingly, though).  What's a Mom to do?!

Situation #2:  A friend tells you that they have been avoiding hanging out with you lately because they think your boys are too rough for their little girl.  You didn't even realize there was a problem...What's a Mom to do?!

Situation #3:  Your 4 year old starts acting out and regressing in behavior in an effort to gain attention since you are spending time with the 2 year old potty training and with a baby who needs more attention.  What's a Mom to do?!

Situation #4:  A "friend" that lives near you and you run into around town all the time suddenly "un-friends" you (and a couple others you know) on are not really sure why.  Talk about awkward the next time you run into each other.  What's a Mom to do!?

HELP!!  If you've ever faced any of these situations, I want to know what you did (or what you wished you had done)!


Valentine's Day Printable

>> Sunday, January 22, 2012

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching!  I found a couple cool subway style printables on Pinterest and thought I would share it with you.  Click on the "source" text below the image for a link to the blog where you can download the original, larger file.





P90X Advice?

>> Saturday, January 21, 2012

So, I heard a lot about P90X last year.  For those of you who haven't heard of it before, it's an intense 90 day workout program where you "confuse" your muscles by doing different exercises every day.  You can find out more details on the website here.

Anyway, a friend of mine had the DVD's and has let me borrow them.  I'm watching one of them right now (yoga) just to see what I might be getting myself into.  Have any of you tried this program before?  Even if you didn't complete it, what did you think?  I'm thinking it can't hurt because it is exercise, but I don't want it to interfere with my training for the 10K run and Little Miami Triathlon in May and June.  Not that it wouldn't be good to do, but I'm not sure that it's the right training for running, canoeing and biking.

There are a couple different ways you can do the DVD's (12 total) to get different results.  I'm considering doing the "Lean" training program.  This program is for people who want weight loss, but it's also for people who want to incorporate cardio into the program.  Check out the schedule I found on  (click on the image to display the full 13-week program)

Intense!  Thoughts?  Advice?  Tips?  HELP!!!


White Chicken Enchiladas

>> Friday, January 20, 2012

So, this was another recipe I found on Pinterest a while ago (if you are still holding out and haven't checked the site out yet, you really should!  I can send you an invite if you need one!!).  I thought it looked yummy, so I pinned it to make it at a later date.  That later date was this past Tuesday evening.  YUM!

So the recipe was really easy, take 10 tortillas, fill them with a chicken and cheese mixture, roll them up and put them in the baking dish, spoon a sauce over top, spread cheese and then bake.  Except, I didn't have 10 tortillas....I only had 3.  Definitely not enough to feed our family of 4 (Molly doesn't eat this type of stuff yet).  I had about an hour to get dinner done and didn't want to take all three kids out to the grocery store.  So, I had remembered seeing another pin about how to make tortillas, so I looked for that and found it.  It was surprisingly easy and tasted really good!  I'm not sure if you could make a couple batches ahead of time and then put them in the fridge or if you would need to make them fresh for when you wanted to use them.  I'll have to experiment with that and let you know what I find out.  

Also, instead of using shredded chicken, I used some "Fresh Ham Steaks" that were in our freezer from our hog purchase last year.  These are basically pork chops, but ours are bigger than a regular pork chop.  I pan cooked them with a little salt and pepper and then cut it up and measured out 2 cups to use.   Anyway, here are the recipes...enjoy!

·         2  3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the tortillas
·         1/3 cup vegetable shortening
·         3/4 teaspoon salt
·         3/4 cup very warm tap water
1.           Combine the flour and shortening in a large mixing bowl.  Using a pastry blender or a fork, work the shortening into the flour  until it's mixed well and you can't see the shortening anymore.  
2.          Dissolve the salt in the warm water. Pour about 2/3 cup over the dry ingredients and immediately work it in with a fork.  Scoop the dough onto your work surface and knead until smooth.  It should be a medium-stiff consistency – not firm, but not quite as soft as most bread dough either.
3.          Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball.  Set them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at 20-30 minutes – this makes the dough easier to roll.
4.          Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
5.          Flatten a ball of dough, flour it, then roll forward and back across it; rotate a sixth of a turn and roll forward and back again; continue rotating and rolling until you reach a 7-inch circle, lightly flouring the tortilla and work surface from time to time.
6.          Lay the tortilla on the hot griddle (you should hear a faint sizzle and see an almost immediate bubbling across the surface).  After 30 to 45 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over.  Bake 30 to 45 seconds more, until the other side is browned; don’t overbake the tortilla or it will become crisp.  Remove and wrap in a cloth napkin placed in a tortilla warmer.  Roll and griddle-bake the remaining tortillas in the same manner – stack them one on top of the other in the warmer.

·         10 soft taco shells
·         2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I used fresh ham steaks, or pork chops)
·         2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
·         3 Tbsp. butter
·         3 Tbsp. flour
·         2 cups chicken broth
·         1 cup sour cream (I used plain yogurt)
·         1 (4 oz) can diced green chillies
1.         Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan.
2.        In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute.  Add broth and whisk until smooth.  Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
3.        Stir in sour cream and chilies.  Do not bring to boil, you don't want curdled sour cream.
4.        Mix chicken (or pork) and 1 cup cheese and about ½ cup of the sauce.  Roll up in tortillas and place in pan. 
5.        Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
6.        Bake 22 min and then under high broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.


Moving forward

>> Thursday, January 19, 2012

"It doesn't have to be all or nothing. All or nothing often cripples us."  -Jon Acuff during an interview with Dave Ramsey


Training Continued...

Ok, so yesterday I posted on how I plan to accomplish my Bible reading goal for this year.  Now, I want to talk about training for my 10K race and a triathlon.  You might be asking why I'm lumping the Bible and my race training together, but for me it's similar.  They are both goals to make myself a healthier person. They both require a lot of time and they both require a PLAN.  For me, that's the biggest part of accomplishing something I set out to do.

My first goal is to participate in the Flying Pig 10K race on Saturday, May 5.  I have never completed a 10K race before, so I'm looking forward to this challenge.  Because the 10K race is similar in distance to the run distance for the triathlon (8.8K), I'm using it as a test to see how I will do for the triathlon.  It's a full month before, so I'm hoping to get a good idea of how fast I can do the triathlon, but also give myself a pace goal that's a little faster!

As I have mentioned before, I have completed the Little Miami Triathlon before in the Spring of 2010.  My partner was my sister and I pretty much twisted her arm into joining me.  She didn't really want to do it, but I begged her enough that she finally caved.  But then she ended up doing more triathlons that year and blowing me out of the water!

The Little Miami Triathlon is a little different than most tri's.  It's similar in distance to a sprint tri, but instead of swimming, the first leg is canoeing (or you can kayak) on the Little Miami river.  It's composed of a 6 mile canoe, 5.5 mile run and 18 mile bike, in that order.  Each individual leg of the race is challenging in itself, but when you add them all together, it's really a great challenge!  Of course, there are longer triathlons out there and even ironman events, but those are way above my level!

I'm still hammering out all the details of my training plan to account for both the 10K race and the triathlon, but the running portion of my training will look something like this:

12rest2rest2rest39 mi total
22rest2rest2rest39 mi total
32rest2rest3rest310 mi total
42rest3rest3rest412 mi total
52rest3rest3rest412 mi total
63rest3rest4rest414 mi total
73rest3rest4rest414 mi total
83rest4rest4rest516 mi total
93rest4rest4rest516 mi total
104rest4rest5rest619 mi total
114rest4rest5rest619 mi total
124rest5rest6rest722 mi total
134rest5rest6rest722 mi total
145rest6rest7rest8.526.5 mi total
156rest4restrestracerest10 mi total

The start date for this training program would be February 20, but I have already started running (on the treadmill in my basement).  My goal at the beginning of the year was just to run a mile without stopping.  Now I can do 2 miles, but I'm working on achieving a faster pace and will then work up to 3 miles.  The program I am using to track my progress (and also keep track of my training plan) is  They have an app for the iPhone/iPod Touch, so I'm able to enter my data and see a big picture.  So far this month, I have run a total of 16.62 miles in 3hours, 10 min and 17 seconds, or an average pace of 11:44minutes/mile. :)  Not awesome, but I'm improving!  My goal for the 10K race is 10 minutes per mile and 9:30/mile for the triathlon.

In addition to the running part of the triathlon, there are obviously 2 other events to train for...canoeing and biking!  For the canoeing, my plan is to do some weight training at the local Y in order to build up my shoulder muscles a little more.  I also plan on doing a "trial run" of the canoe a few weeks before the event (maybe as a recovery event the week after the 10K).

As for the biking portion, I plan on taking a spinning class at the Y before the weather is nice enough to get outside to bike.  My training last time consisted of me hooking up the bike trailer and pulling 2 kids around in it behind me.  I'm not exactly sure how that is going to work this year since I now have 3 kids (and they won't all fit in the bike trailer!), but it was great training because the extra weight during my training rides helped me to have a better completion time.  Plus, my boys love going for bike rides!

As you can tell, the Bible reading, 10K and Triathlon all take up a lot of time and require a commitment, but I'm hoping that by putting it all out on this blog, it will help keep me motivated, on track and accountable!  My main goal is just to finish what I have started!



>> Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So, as I mentioned in my post about setting goals for the new year, two of my biggest goals for the year are to 1) read the entire Bible in 90 days and 2) train for a 10k and a triathlon.  These are pretty big goals for me, especially considering that I have 3 little ones 4 and under running around the house!  So, I wanted to share how I plan to accomplish these two goals.

First, for the Bible in 90 days, I have a plan.  This is not the first time I have done this, either.   I completed it in July-September 2010 through the website.  I was at the point in my life where I needed to have a challenge and do something I had never done before.  I had tried to read the Bible in a year before, but I always lost steam and stopped before I actually completed the goal (or usually before I hit the half-way mark).  For me, a year is just too long.  The 90 days is challenging, but I feel like you really get to retain the information and see the "entire picture" by reading it in a shorter time-frame.

So, what's the key to actually completing this goal?  For each person, it's different, but for me there are a couple key elements.  First is the reading plan.  It's important to have a plan on how you are going to accomplish something, and the biggest thing for me is having something where I can see if I am on track, if I am behind, and how much I've accomplished!  It's gratifying to see all of the check marks build up and to see your book mark move through the Bible!

This time around, I am using the Bible app for my iPod touch.  It actually has the B90 reading plan in it already and as you read through, it checks off each chapter for you.  But the last time I read, I just used a small Bible that I had kept on my desk when I worked.  It's just a small, pocket-sized Bible and I didn't use it anymore, so I went ahead and marked up the days in it so I knew when to stop each day.  I think it was really helpful for me to mark it up because then I didn't spend the time reading and looking for the end of the reading for the day.  Does that make sense?  I felt like I could focus more on the words rather than on making sure I read just what we were supposed to for the day.

The second part of reading is to have time set aside to do it.  With having kids, I have to be somewhat flexible, but my main reading time is at night after the kids are in bed.  I would love to be able to read with them in the room so they could see me reading it or I could even read it to them, but at this age there's no way I could focus.  I have read while feeding Molly or while the kids are watching a video, but my normal time is before I go to bed in the evening.  It takes me right about an hour to do each day's reading, so I can kind of budget my time accordingly.  Another thing that I plan on while doing the B90 plan, is to not watch any tv.  I'm not huge on any tv series or anything anyway, but I love to watch the DIY network and HGTV and all of the cupcake/cake shows on TV.  But while I'm doing this program, I don't usually get to watch anything.  My time is valuable, and when I have more important things to do, it really seems more like a wast of time anyway.  Who really cares who survives the island, who the Bachelor chooses, or what the Office or Glee has on anyway?   Can you tell which shows are NOT my favorite! :)


Anyway, as of right now, I am one day behind in my reading.  I was planning on doing it last night, but Molly decided she was going to cry and needed to be held until like 1am.  Every time I kept trying to put her down, she just started crying again.  So by that point, I knew I wouldn't remember what I read anyway, so I will spend the next couple days catching up again so I can finish on time (March 31 for me!).

More to come on training for the 10k and triathlon...


Chocolate Fudge Cake with Peanut Butter Mousse Filling

>> Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sorry in advance for the resolution-buster recipe I'm about to post!   My youngest turned 4 this week (hard to believe) and he'd seen a cake in a cookbook weeks ago he begged me to make.  The original recipe was filled with a vanilla cream and it did not turn out at all, so the glaze part is from that recipe (Source= Taste of Home Church Supper Recipes), but I had to find another recipe for the filling and I ended up improvising with it a little.  The end result was really good.

Devil's Food Cake Mix- make according to directions in a 9x13 pan.  Cool completely.  Remove from pan (make sure you coat it well before pouring the batter in) and slice in half horizontally.  Fill with the peanut butter cream cheese filling, after it (the filling) has chilled at least half an hour.  Top with the glaze.

1 cup whipping cream, chilled
10 oz cream cheese at room temp (I used 8 oz of red fat and 2 oz regular)
1 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Beat whipping cream on high until stiff peaks form.  (So much easier to do this with a stand mixer).  Put in bowl and set aside.  Mix cream cheese and peanut butter until creamy and consistent.  Add powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add whipped cream back in and mix on medium high until light and fluffy.  Chill for at least 30 minutes

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cold water
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa and cornstarch.  Slowly mix water in.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.  Cool to room temp before pouring over cake.


Project Life 2012

>> Friday, January 6, 2012

Wow, are we really almost a week into 2012?  I can't believe it.  I feel like time goes faster every year.

I've spent the past month getting ready for Christmas, doing all the fun Christmas activities like making gingerbread houses and watching The Polar Express.  I've volunteered in my kids' classrooms and helped with Christmas parties.  My family spent Christmas Eve in downtown Cincinnati taking a carriage ride, seeing Santa, shopping, and having a great dinner overlooking Fountain Square.  And the day after Christmas we headed to sunny Miami for a week where we had great weather.  Unfortunately, we had to get back to real life and I didn't get to stay long enough to watch my Mountaineers demolish Clemson in The Orange Bowl, but seeing it on tv was pretty great too.  I also worked at the SPCA for a couple of days in early December, doing exams, vaccines and microchips.  It was fun to work again and a great easy way to get my feet wet after a 4 year absence!

I hope everyone had a great holiday season.  I always find it a little hard to transition back to the routine after the holidays, especially knowing how long winters seem in Ohio.   I am still writing thank you notes for Christmas gifts and trying to wrap that up also.

I have written several posts about scrapbooking before and I'm sure you're all aware of my love for digital scrapbooking and photoshop.  This year when I finished my yearly book it wasn't nearly as fun for me as it has been the past 6 years so I decided to try something different to document 2012.  I will still do my yearly digital scrapbook because I love the result too much to abandon it, and I also love that I can print multiple copies as gifts.  At this point, my family expects it  so I'm stuck!  But I thought I would add another scrapbook for just our immediate family this year, one that is a little more personal and maybe captures some of the more mundane aspects of everyday life.  I am choosing a format that will allow lots of flexibility and will also let me incorporate some of the digital scrapbooking into it.

So I decided to do "Project Life".  This system is the brainchild of Becky Higgins, and it is designed to make scrapbooking very easy.  The basic kit looks great, but you can customize it as much as you want and make it as elaborate as you want.  It seems to be a great way to start scrapbooking for those who have never done it before and are intimidated by the idea of creating everything from scratch.

Here's the link for the Becky Higgins website that describes Project Life.  You order a core kit that is made up of journaling and decorative cardstock pieces, a binder (I think you could use any 12x12 scrapbook with rings), and page inserts which come in multiple configurations. 

Here's what I ordered so far.  I can't wait to get it!!

Clementine Core Kit

I'm waiting to order my page dividers because they are out of the kinds I want (I have a few that will work to start with).  I am also waiting for the black binder, which should be available in a couple of weeks.  I prefer the black exterior to the more colorful ones.

If you're looking for a way to organize your photos and memories in 2012 this is a great system.  Take a look at Becky's blog and you'll see many different ways people have used the basic system to create a personalized scrapbook.