Monday, March 30, 2009

Yira Reads - Spring Reading Challenge- 2009

I love to read good, engaging novels but even since I started going to school part-time, having kids full time (always a pleasure ;-) ) and...well, having a life that is filled wonder and awe and frustration too..don't get me wrong, I don't live in la-la land, I could hardley make it through the first chapter, let alone a whole book.  

Since I asked for help redecorating a few weeks ago, I came up with this little reading corner.  I love it here, well, apparently we all do because there's almost always someone sitting here reading. 

My son is an avid reader and when he overheard me talking about the spring reading challenge he quickly ran up to his room and came down with this stack of books for me to read.  He placed them on the mantel in the family room because he wants to make sure "I don't forget."  I started reading John Grisham's book The Appeal.

He takes after his dad who picks up a book and can't seem to be able to function until he's done.  My teen daughter has recently started reading more as well.  The common denominator among the three is that they can stop and just read without interruptions.  I, on the other hand, have two younger kids tugging at my gym shorts regardless of whose around.  When I read to them I only day dream of reading something I would really enjoy for a change. 

So this challenge comes at a good time.  I am still taking online courses -- almost done with that, I still work part time at the gym (I could hardley call exercising a job), and the kids are still tugging at my shorts.  The difference now is that I decided to prioritize what I do with the time that I do have.  I can go to bed 1/2  hour earlier and continue to get up an hour before anyone else.  This time I will take part of that time to read something I enjoy.

Thanks Susan for the inspiration.  Here's my list - I can't say I'll finish all those during the spring time but I plan to make a dent on this stack.  Visit Susan at A Southern Daydreamer Reads to see what others are reading. 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An hour in the dark...almost

So here we are, the day after earth hour and how we chose to spend that time.  I have to say that it was fun to the point that our lights didn't come back on until around 11 pm, briefly, then we all went to sleep.

Our young peanut settled into a fort she built in the dining room.  She used sheets, a mini futon, and a mini flashlight to help guide her way.  She had a great time and eventually fell asleep.  The baby was already asleep.

The rest of us decided to play the Settlers of Catan.  What a fun game that was. Dad won, again, mostly because he took advantage of my weakness.  I was tired and really wanted to end the game.  But we did have fun playing by candle light.

I hope everyone had a great time last night in the dark!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour - let's do it!!

Turn out. Take action.
Be part of this historic event.
March 28, 2009, 8:30 pm local time

World Wildlife Fund is asking individuals, businesses, governments and organizations around the world to turn off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour – to make a global statement of concern about climate change and to demonstrate commitment to finding solutions. (source:  Earth Hour)

Help your kids get involved, go to the Earth Hour Kids site to learn and play.

Ove the last few weeks I've bee trying to figure out what we, as a family, plan to do in the one hour of darkness.  All this thinking has made me realize how much we realy on electricity, even as a form of entertainment (TV or not TV).  We are so dependant on having power that it was difficult to come up with other options and for goodness sake, it's just one hour.

Here are some ideas I've proposed to the family:

1.  Play board games-- too dark? We have candles.  We have this new game called Settlers of Catan which my son says it's really cool, kind of like monopoly but better he says...we'll soon find out.

2. Go for a walk.

3. Go star gazing - kids love looking at the sky.

4. Play sherades

5.  Talk...yes, converse with one another, have a diaglogue,  imagine that!!

Here is a list suggested by the Earth Hour Team:

1. Enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner with someone special using organic or sustainably grown food items.

2. Invite friends and family over for a “lights-out” party and serve green-themed snacks and drinks—green tea or apple martinis anyone?

3. Turn off the lights and power down the computer and cell phone. Use the quiet time to take a break from a “plugged-in” world by meditating or resting.

4. Take a bubble bath by candlelight.

5. Use the hour for practical tasks that you never seem to have time for. Test essential items in your emergency preparedness kit like flashlights, radios, and cell phones. Change out all your light bulbs to energy-efficient CFLs. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Think about how you would evacuate your house in an emergency in the dark.

6. Read a book set in an era without electricity. Marvel that the Romans conquered much of the world without a single cell phone and that Shakespeare wrote masterpieces without a laptop or the Internet.

7. Turn off the computer and write a letter by candlelight the old-fashioned way using pen and paper.

8. Invite friends over to play charades or Scrabble by candlelight.

9. View the night sky via telescope--the reduced “light pollution” may make some stars more visible.

10. Take photos of how you spent Earth Hour and upload them to the Earth Hour pages on Facebook, Myspace and YouTube. Keep it clean please!

Join us during this event.  Post a comment and tell us what you plan to do or just do it and come back and share what you did.  I think it would be fun to see some of the ideas that come around. 

Let's do it, Let's turn it off!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

National Water Day

Did you know that March 22 is National Water Day?  I didn't even know there was a day dedicated to water.  Not that the fluid that flows through our bodies isn't important enough to have it's own day, a month, a year....oh heck a whole lifetime.  After all, Earth is about 72% water, the human body is on average 65% water, nothing grows without water, we wouldn't be here without water.  So one could say that water is pretty darn important, at least enough to be recognized once a year.

Water is pretty amazing.  I was reading the website dedicated to celebrating water and the one thing that impressed me most was the fact that water connects us no matter where we are. Besides air, which we can't see, water is the one thing we can see, feel, taste, and hear that connects people from city to city, country to country and continent to continent.  


"In 2009, the theme for World Water Day is "Shared Water - Shared Opportunities". Special focus will be placed on transboundary waters. Nurturing the opportunities for cooperation in transboundary water management can help build mutual respect, understanding and trust among countries and promote peace, security and sustainable economic growth. " (UN Water)

I said earlier that Earth is about 72% water, yet with so much water at our finger tips, there are still so many without clean water and that is just sad.  Those of us privileged enough to have access to water are so spoiled.   How often do we leave the faucet running, or dump perfectly clean water down the drain...crazy huh?   

"Each day, more than a billion people in developing countries must walk long distances to get the water they need for drinking, cooking and bathing. Often, this water is contaminated. WaterPartners helps people in developing countries obtain safe drinking water and basic sanitation (toilets). Working in partnership with those in need, WaterPartners has transformed more than 200 communities in eight countries - Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Guatemala, India, Kenya, and the Philippines - with access to a safe, reliable source of water and basic sanitation." (Water Partners International)


While we have access to all the water we choose to use in any way, many times we simply forget to drink water, knowing quite well how important it is to drink plenty of clear fluids.  I admit, I am guilty of not drinking nearly enough water on days when I don't workout or when I get busy doing something at home or when I don't feel like moving from my couch or desk.  I can come up with a million reasons, none good enough.  My most common reason, I get tired of the lack of flavor.  I sometimes want a twist of something except I don't always have something to twist into my water.  

I think most know that drinking water is important but there are always questions as to how much is enough.  I say, look at your pee -- if it's too yellow then you may need to drink more water, also if you exercise, if you sweat, if ...well, drink water everyday.  The Mayo Clinic reports that 

"Water is your body's principal chemical component, making up, on average, 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.  Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired."

To get a better glimpse of the functions of water in the body, check this out:


Recently I've been reading my water labels more often - I don't always buy water but when I do I read the label because--did you know, some waters have more sugar than a cookie.  What's that about?  Anyway, in my search for something a little different I came across HINT. It's an interesting name because I thought it was trying to give me a hint that I should drink more water.  In reality it's just water with a twist of something fruity, contains no sugar, no calories, no fat, so nothing, contains nothing.  I have never tried it but I will soon and then I will share how I really feel about this new beverage everyone is talking about.  Have you tried HINT?  Any thoughts?
Hint bottles 

In the mean time I will continue to do my part to preserve this precious resource as much as possible, do what I can to contribute to the improvement of water quality around the world and help in any way I can to bring water to those in need.  "Water is life. Turn it on."

Cross posted at BlogHer and Family in Shape

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Outdoor Wenesday - the mystery in a foggy morning

Outdoor Wednesday forces me to focus on the beauty and the grace of our natural world. Visit Susan for more of what we see outdoors.

This morning I was woken by my teens as they prepared to go to school at 6:00 am. They rush to eat, rush to get the bags ready, my daughter rushes to the bathroom mirror to check herself out one more time and then the phone rings...It's my son's music teacher letting him know that school has been delayed due to dense fog. They both are happy and upset that this news could not have come 30 minutes before. For a teen this means more sleep in the AM. Oh will be a late start for us all.

When I saw the post for Outdoor Wednesday I's foggy, what's there to see? Well that was me being negative. Here I captured the beautiful, serene, and mysterious life outdoors on a foggy morning in Lee Hall, Virginia. Enjoy the photos and enjoy your day!

The back yard.

The finch feeder.

Trees in the mist.
My street disappears in the fog.
...and still the little flowers that give me hope that spring is just a few days away

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Monday, March 16, 2009

It's Monday...time to FLY

OK so it's Monday and I decided that my Monday's were going to be happy days.  Too many times we wake up saying "oh I can't believe it's Monday already"--well why not, it was Sunday just yesterday.

I will not let any negative people ruin my days because I am, after all, very thankful for every day that I get to be in this world, with my beautiful family.  I decided a few weeks ago to join the FlyLadies in an effort to get my house under control again. I, unfortuantely, have the habit of going all out when I start working on something and before you know it I'm overwhelmed with projects and clsoets that appeared to have thrown up into my floors.

FlyLady is trying to teach me to to take baby steps and that is so hard for me to sometimes but I'm trying.  I love having a list of things to do so I can check off what I've done as I go.  That's always a good feeling, knowing that you've accomplished something in a day of hard work, better yet, seeing it all on paper makes it easier to organize.

Following a morning and evening routine and keeping my sink clean has been a really huge help for me and now starting to work on the zones and mini missions doesn't seem so overwhelming.  I do need to work on letting go when the time is up.  My house feels fresh and clean, now I can tackle my closet and under the sink cabinets this week.  Where does all that crap come from anyway...geezz!

Here's to keeping a healthy, happy home on this blessed day!! Have a wonderful Monday everone.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Foodie Friday- Tuna Roll Up

I can't believe it's Saturday and I'm just now getting to this. I was so prepared this time I even took pictures while I was making my lunch and thought ...hmm this would be a great one to share. Anyway, sharing I will do. Don't forget, visit our hostess Gollum at Designs by Gollum for more tasty treats.

This is very delicious and very healthy tuna roll up -

Ingredients: 3 oz can of tuna in water, cheese (anything you like), carrots, 1 TBSP lite mayonaise, Romaine lettuce leaf, (also not shown here because I ran out - craisins and sun flower seeds)

Mix the tuna, seeds, craisins and mayo. Layer the lettuce, cheese, carrots, and tuna mixture.

Roll it up and Presto!


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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday: Child's Play

I am really beginning to look forward to Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan.  The Southern Daydreamer reminded me of the best of Spring with her array of pretty blooms. 
Like Susan, I have a hard time believing we went through three weather systems in a matter of days around here.  Incredible but true.  See the trucks are still back there - no snow this time, LOL.

This is my little peanut.  She was raking up the last of the gumballs from a nearby tree.  I hate those things but the trees are not mine to cut down so I must live with it just a little longer.  My entire yard was filled with these prickly balls.

Here we have baby bear with his trucks, back in the dirt.  His favorite past time in my empty garden is playing with the dirt which takes me way back in time.  I love it and his bath times are so awesome after he has a hard day of construction outside.

When the children play outside I feel energized to join them.  I just love to see them having fun, enjoying the weather, getting some sun and enjoying nature.  This was a fun day which by the way, it was 80 degrees - just a week after a winter storm when they were out playing in the snow.  One thing we can't do around here is put away clothes for the winter or summer.

Like many of our, the time has come to start planning my garden.  This time, since the house is for sale, I have plant some hardy, mostly grown plants to give this place some curb appeal.  Don't worry, my grass isn't dead, it's dormant :-)  When it's fully away it is the best grass in the neighborhood - soft like a carpet, never dies and doesn't grow very tall even after weeks without mowing so in that respect it's less work for me so I can focus on the garden areas.

Have an awesome Wednesday everyone and don't forget to visit Susan, join us in sharing our outdoors and visit some of the other awesome sites!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I need your help redecorating

Since I have a military move to prepare for this summer I have decided it's fine time I start fixing what's broken, patching and painting the tiny holes on the walls and most dreadful, decluttering closets---I'm working on that, one closet at a time.  

My issue really is with staging.  It seems staging is very important when trying to sell a house, I personally find it to be so darn fake, but it's not for me to say so I will comply.  (Don't get me wrong, I do believe clean, organized, freshly vacuumed but some of these sites even go as far as suggesting I rent furniture to get a certain look--NOT!

I have two rooms I need help with and  hope you, my blog friends, will give me some tips--please!!

Our house has a "formal" living room and dining room area which we never used as such because we don't do much of anything that can be considered "formal".  The two rooms are sort of connected by a wide doorway; one side leads to the entryway and the other leads into the kitchen.

In one room we have a Piano, a book shelf, a roll top desk with chair a green plant by the window and a small round table where the kids sit to do homework.

The other side of the room has a long futon, a small bookshelf lined with kids books, baskets with small toys, and board games, and the rest of the room is basically lined with a doll house, a toy bin, and other toys that just sit on the floor - this is our play room.

My dilemma is staging this area so that it's attractive to everyone.  After all, a house this big might attract a family as big as mine and the play room/homework room might be attractive to them too.  I don't want to buy anything to stage it so I have to work with what I have, unless it's something I can take with me like large baskets or some type of storage system.

Should I pack up the toys and leave out only a few maybe in a nice wicker basket?

Should I make the "formal" dining room look the part?  (I have table and hutch to accomplish this task)

Should I pack up most of the books to clear up space? Maybe it wont look cluttered...hmmmm

For the rest of the house I think I can manage with what we have or I'll be back pleading for help again.  I am using the FlyLady's advice in decluttering - the put away, throw away, give away rule.  I have been using her system on and off for a while and it does help when I follow the basic routines- I don't delve into it as much because it's overwhelming but the before bed and morning routines sure make my days a lot smoother. 

Anyway, before I loose my train of thought here, my goal is to get these two rooms staged enough to show my house.  I invite you to help me throughout his process.  Thank You in advance!!

This is the first room, the other one is where I'm sitting and that's where the toys are.  The toys you see here are there because they're going to be sold or given..something...Anyone want a Dora Kitchen with all the tools and a Dora house with all the little toys?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Foodie Friday

Foodie Friday hosted by Gollum is so much fun.  I said before, I love all the neat recipe ideas we get to share, so read mine and then go over to Designs by Gollum to see all the other awesome recipes and hey, maybe, just maybe, you'll add your own. 

Here goes my recipe for this week - sorry I don't have a photo this time:



1/2 pita pocket (whole wheat)
1/4 cup cooked, cut up chicken breast
1 cup veggies (zucchini, squash, portabella mushroom)
1 cup uncooked baby spinach
2 table spoons olive oil
1 slice pepperjack cheese

cook the veggies in olive oil, just before they are done, add the chicken and spinach, cover and let cook at low heat for a few minutes or until chicken is heated through.

Place the cheese in the pita pocket, add the veggie mix, enjoy!

I felt so full after this one I thought I cheated--it is absolutely delicious, filled with nutrients, protein, vitamins, fiber--it's just awesome!

**Note:  you can add or replace the cheese and the veggies for something you would rather have.  I had this yesterday and after it was all done I added a couple of slices of Avocado and used Asiago cheese - still delicious.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Peaceful Art by William Crute

Looking at different pieces of art sometimes helps me get away from my own chaotic world and enter one that is lined with fields of green and wild flowers.  Where the wind blows softly and the sun just barely kisses my cheek.  I always wanted to get right into the picture and enjoy what I feel when I see what I see.  Every once in a while I find myself in stores, in museums, or online just looking, because it's all I can afford to do right now.

Woman with cup

Recently I met an artist who also happens to be a Personal Trainer at the gym where I work. William Crute is his name.  He's a great guy with the most vivid imagination and wonderful sense of serenity; at least that's what I captured from his paintings.  I visit his site more often then he realizes because amongst all the beautiful art, there are a few that just take me to that place I mentioned earlier.  I hope someday to be able to own one of his pieces, but for now, I will have to be happy with the small images I see online.  Here are a few.  What do you think?  What helps you escape from your reality?

Cow in pasture

Mountain Home

courtesy of  William Crute

Bill:  thanks for letting me share your work with my readers :-)

To see more of his work visit the William Crute Art Gallery

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day

I made several comments recently about how I wish we had even a little snow and how much my kids would just love to be able to play in the snow.  Most of all how my older kids would love snow on a Monday because then they wouldn't have to go to school.  Not that they don't love school but it's sort of a treat  I guess.

So this morning I woke up to this.... keep in mind we really don't get snow at all, not even flurries: 

Remeber this cardinal from a few days ago looking out my back door..well he's back.

Mr. Chilli here is taking a break from all the fun.  Actually, we tried building a real snowman but the snow was too fluffy and the snowballs were not sticking.  So we decided to just let him rest on the back porch swing.  Notice his unibrow and missing nose, he's just unique that's all...and lazy.

The neighbor's dog Earnie paid us a visit as well.  He was loving the snow.

Another one of my outdoor, backyard friends.  He's so cute all fluffed up like a little ball.

....and the Tonka truck now filled with snow.

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