Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Special Skills

Grey doesn't like the skins on apples. I should really peel them first...but there is no way I can peel them with so little waste! He sticks a slice in his mouth, rolls is around until every last bit of flesh is gone, and out come the peel. That counts as a special skill, according to big brother:-)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Meghan's Yummies - Recipe

Brian's youngest sister Meghan is a good cook! She has a couple amazing go-to dessert recipes that are quick, easy and sooo delicious. First her brownies, then her fudge sauce.

Meghan's Brownies (likely the best I've ever had. They taste better than a mix for sure, and are almost as easy to make, promise)
1/4C butter
1 C semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4C sugar
2/3 C flour
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 eggs
1/2 C chopped nuts, optional
1/2 C chocolate chips, optional

Grease bottom only of square pan (8x8) with shortening. Heat butter and 1 C chocolate chips in saucepan over low heat stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat, stir remaining ingredients except nuts and choc. chips until smooth. Stir in nuts and choc. chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min. or until center is set.

The Best Hot Fudge Sauce Ever!
1C semi sweet chocolate chips
2T butter
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
2T water
1t vanilla

In saucepan, over medium heat, melt choc. chips and butter with sweetened condensed milk, water and vanilla. Cook and stir constantly until thickened (about 5 mins). Serve warm over ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Get Ready!

The big bathroom reveal post will be coming at you soon!!

Angry Birds, Homemade - Video

Well, early Saturday morning, while trying to sleep in a little, I was met with a request..."Can we go outside really quick? We need a stick" Sure. So I got up to see what was going on. It seems that they decided to make their own version of Angry Birds, using playmobil, duplo, an elastic band and a "slingshot shaped" stick. It took them awhile to get the hang of shooting the bird. Daddy was able to shoot the pig from waaaay across the room! So impressive!
 There were all sorts of configurations and "levels of difficult" concerning the trees, blocks, and pig:-)
 They are nothing if not creative! :-)
video

Saturday, November 26, 2011

How to Fry a Turkey

...safely. As Brian said, "leave it to Louisiana to come up with the most dangerous way to celebrate the holidays" haha. Follow us and our adventure...

We decided to embark on unknown territory when Brian was offered a turkey fryer to borrow. We've never done this before, never tasted the results before...and are really generally just completely ignorant to the whole turkey frying process. So we googled it. This is how we did it, taking in advice from many many sites, and combining all the helpful tips into one post:-)

BUY or HAVE
1. Turkey Fryer (with thermometer and injector)
2. 3+ Gallons of peanut oil (we needed 4 gallons)
3. A turkey, no bigger than 14lbs (ours was 13.5)
4. Propane tank
A few pointers...#1: Don't be an idiot. Do this outside. This goes without saying perhaps, but I guess you never know. #2: Peanut oil is not cheap. I got 3 gallons in a large bucket at walmart for $29.99. I texted my dear hubby and said "this is going to be the most expensive turkey in the WORLD". I'm a cheapskate, so the cost of the ordeal is perhaps a bit of a deterrent. In the end we were lacking enough oil to cover the bird, so had to buy 1 more gallon. cha-ching. I will now be deep frying everything in sight to get my money's worth out of that oil. Using peanut oil is preferred, as it has a very high smoking point, thereby requiring less monitoring than using another type of oil.
Prepare your bird!! Tip #3: Oil and water do not mix, as you well know. Have a completely thawed bird, about 18-24 hrs in advance, inject the bird all over (into the meat) with a marinade. Let it sit until you need it, you will want a completely thawed, DRY and room temperature bird, so plan accordingly.

I was looking online for what to inject the bird with, and had some trouble coming up with recipes that did not include the words Cajun or Creole or that didn't use red wine. Only because I wanted something simple that I could make with ingredients I already had at the house. I found this recipe through a link on eHow, and it was delicious. I made it twice, 'cause Brian thought it needed more.

1/2C chicken broth
2T butter
1T lemon juice
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t finely ground pepper
salt to taste
*Melt butter in small saucepan, add all other ingredients, except the salt. Mix well. Add salt until it has a slightly salty flavour. Load into meat injector.


This was delicious!

Tip #4: Rig up your turkey "hook" onto a broom handle. As it says online, "this is when most people catch on fire". So yah, when lowering the turkey into the pot, have good control and stay back as far as you can. Even with a dry room temp turkey, it pops and sizzles like you would not believe.
Tip#5: Displacement. Put the turkey in the pot. Fill the pot with oil until the bird is just covered. Remove the bird. Heat the oil, and replace when it's ready. This will insure that you don't over flow the oil with the displacement the bird causes.

We heated the oil up to 375 (which took about a hour or a little less), and then put the bird in, and tried to get it back up to 350 to maintain that heat. You generally cook the turkey for 3min per pound, we added a couple minutes on to the end of the cooking time, as we lost about 100 degrees putting the turkey in, and it took longer than we thought it should to get it back up to temp. When lowering the bird in the oil TURN OFF THE GAS. Then lower it slowly, inch by inch, sometimes bobbing it back up a little, until its submerged. Then turn the gas back on when you are done.

When you are ready to take it out, TURN OFF THE GAS. Bring it up slowly and let it drip off.
Yum! We all have to agree, that this was far and away the most phenomenal turkey ever! It was so tender and juicy and perfect!...not greasy or oily as you might expect. We think we'll save that oil and do another one at Christmas!!

GIVEAWAY!!

Go ahead and check out my moms new site! She is trying to get a little business going, making this gorgeous art for your home (check out the link for other things, if you are not into the birthdays), anyway, she having a GIVEAWAY! All you have to do is follow her blog, facebook it, tweet it, or blog it, and leave a comment for each, and then you are entered to WIN! That is at least 4 chances to win!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas is coming...

Time to put away all the craft stuff and get ready for turkey!! This is the adorable centerpiece I made for the table this year...inspired/copied from my friend Sarah. I love how it turned out...soooo cute!!

"Give Thanks"
Also been working on some Christmas stuff!!
A sneak peak at our cards this year. I need to fill this basket..lots more work!
Some cool "wrappings" I've made so far...
what a minty cool tin!

Ahhh, wouldn't you love to know whats in this? For my sister in law:-)

DVD tin, inside shot...

DVD tin...the outside. For one of my brothers, Kaden. I bet he's curious now, right?

Oh, the bottom of the peppermint tin. Using paper, Creative Memories circle cutting system, and sticky strip, I covered over all the original info

Monday, November 21, 2011

Friday Family Zzzzz

Friday night family night, complete with our homemade pizza tradition, and Gnomeo & Juliet via Netflix...and Daddy conked out on the couch. Busy, busy week - he was exhausted!

Rental House Updates

We have renters! Before they moved in, we had a few chores to do...
We refinished the floors. They look like glass now!

Kids helping, by staying out of the way (and napping)

The driveway is very long (holds 5 to 6 cars single file!)...the backyard fence was not connected. You can kind of see in this pic where the chain link fence stopped at the concrete of the drive. So Brian decided to fence off some of the driveway, so you could park behind the fence if you want. Here are the new posts, setting up in concrete.

movie time on the portable dvd player. They were really bored, poor things. We had some interior work to do, like install smoke detectors and a bathroom towel rack, and paint the pantry closet.

We began priming! The house is 90% primed. The house has never been painted before, that grey colour is the colour of the asbestos siding naturally. HAH. It's an older house. It won't hurt you unless you take it off, no worries:-)

The fence is up...the gate is not yet finished. Renters have a small dog, so the fence had to be up by their arrival on Sunday. This coming week over the holidays Brian will make it swing so you can drive through it.

Painted!! One coat of Sherwin Williams Regatta. Brian picked this out on his own...when we do our house, I will have some input...I want a "smokier", navy kind of tone to it for our home, but this actually does look really great on this little house. It will be a bit darker too, once the 2nd coat goes on next week. Brian has an obsession/fascination with blue houses, haha. I tend toward the more neutral tones as my fave.
Lest you think its finished...no. Probably only about 15% of the house has the 1st coat of the final colour

Gotta do that little overhang part! It's getting there, right?
All the interior stuff is done, so it's just finishing the paint and fence outside...so we hopefully won't bother our new renters, who moved in on Sunday! All the neighbours were coming out and complimenting us on the nice colour. It really does pop with the white!

Work work work!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bolger Family Pics - Sneak Peak

We had our family pictures taken again this year. Here's a sneak peak...Enjoy!

If you missed our video last year and want to see it, click here. I just had to watch it again and see the unbelievable difference that one year makes. We've been incredibly blessed.

All pictures fantastically taken and copyright of Chani Rogers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Unique Art

This post is a shameless plug...a commercial of sorts...for my MOM. Cause she deserves it! And also because I am in love with this idea, it's just perfect! My Mom has the talent/inspiration, the eye, and the software to make some really neat, unique, personalized art. This makes a spectacular gift for the hard-to-buy for.
Take a look! Pricing at the bottom of the post!

Birthday Art. Your choice of background colour and design. Highlight a few of the dates, your choice which ones, and in what order they appear. In this case, it is a family, and the parents birthdays are highlighted. Available in sizes 4x6 through 11x14

Another different colour choice. This one is for my lovely sister Lauryn. The highlighted date is their anniversary. This art looks so cool in every colour and design I have seen!

Another cool personalized item for the hard to buy for family member or friend: For the world traveller - countries, major cities, important sites visited. For Grandparents of a big brood - all the names of the grandchildren or great grandchildren. For couples - all the places you've lived (street names, cities, areas). The ideas here are pretty much endless! You will have a choice of a few fonts, and will submit all the words you want included. Each one will be very different and unique. Below is not "for" anyone. I just sent my mom random words for different places in New York State that I remembered off the top of my head so she could do a "places" mock up. Love it!
Available in sizes 4x6 through 11x14. Either portrait or landscape orientation (your choice). Background colours suggestion either solid black or brown, but again your choice if you prefer something different. If you do not specify, it will be black & white
HOW TO BUY/PRICING:

Email Rebecca Kennedy at thekennedyklan@gmail.com. and check out her site too. Each design comes with very personal attention. You will be sent a proof to be sure that the colours & fonts are what you desire, and that all the dates are correct. After approving the proof...

A print, mailed to you: does not include frame.
4x6: 20.00
5x7: 25.00
8x10: 30.00
11x14: 40.00
Larger/different sizes, photo panels and canvas are also available. Please ask for a specific size and pricing. Additional shipping charges may apply. For long distance or international orders a digital copy of the print can be emailed to you: File size will be rather large, so that the picture will print with supreme quality. You will need to have this printed at your local photo development place.

I love this stuff, its so pretty, and for the "memory preserving freak" like me, its the perfect gift (to give or GET, hint hint Mom:-). Also, if you know me you can ask me to see something else she makes that I LOVE, but we can't advertise it yet due to licensing issues. You'll be glad you asked, promise!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wish List - Video

My brother Jared called today to see what Brooks might be interested in for Christmas, since cousin Vienna has his name in the cousins gift exchange.

Well, we very rarely ever ask the kids what they want for any given occasion. We do low-key birthdays and Christmas time we like to emphasize giving, and Jesus' birth and not think about what we might be receiving for a present. Today after talking with Jay, I thought I would video his requests to share with Vienna. And it was so cute, I figured I should share it with everyone.

video
*Vienna - you are forbidden to grant his most desired wish of his own telephone with angry birds on it*
Angry Birds has been his obsession since June when I was in Canada, and they were being babysat while Brian worked. At the time, neither Brian or I could get angry birds on our phones, but that did not deter him from asking to play it, at least once a week. Since Sunday, with our new phones, we can now oblige him in the occasional game.

Blast from the Past

1999: Darla, Joey & Audra - friends in stolen shirts!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Working Girl

We worked on the rental house tonight. "We" actually includes me this time. We are doing the floors. There is something that perhaps not everyone realizes about me. This will be no surprise to my family, husband and closest friends. I have been avoiding manual labour since the day I was born. My siblings will attest to this, as they picked up the slack for my lacking all these years. Where are they now when I need them? It's not that I don't like to work, it's that I don't like to get dirty.

Dry dirt drives me to absolute distraction. I cannot abide my hands, feet (or any part of me) touching anything like sawdust, or even sand. I am a real bummer at the beach. The sand has to be wet. Dirt has to be wet (mud). Argh. Gives me the heebie jeebies just to think about it. Writing this now and looking at this pic is making my skin crawl. Apparently there is nothing I won't do for a little money, haha. The smell of a saw blade cutting through wood literally closes up my throat and I cannot breathe. My father was/is a carpenter, and then I married one. What on earth was I thinking? I have perfected the "tee-shirt up over my nose" move, so I can't smell that burning hot wood smell or breathe in the dust. Can you tell I have issues? Lol. Lest you for some strange reason think I am without flaw:-)


Proof that I was working, productively. And flip flops because its 75 degrees here this week (oh yah!)
The floors have now been sanded, wiped down with mineral spirits, and have a coat of polyurethane drying on them. I was sweeping (oh the dry dust!), vacuuming, applying the painters tape to protect the moldings, and wiping down the floors with the mineral spirits, by hand.

At one point, while wiping down the living room, with Brian behind me putting poly in the dining room (with all the kids in the backyard playing:-) my nose was running like a tap, and I said "wow, this stuff sure does make your nose run". Brian replies, "yah, that pretty much means you're dying". Lovely. There were lots of fumes going on around there thats for sure!

Starting to wipe down one of the bedrooms with mineral spirits
So we're on our way! Another coat or two of poly and we're in business!

Verizon vs nTelos

We made the switch from Verizon to nTelos this past weekend, which will mean a monthly savings of $60 for us on our cell phone bill. For any local/US people interested in saving some money, here is how it breaks down

Brian has nTelos for his work phone, so we know the coverage is good in our area

VERIZON, we paid around $165/$170 per month (incl. taxes, and usually there was an overage charge of a small amount in there too...going over the txt limit or something)
This was for 2 lines (1400 shared min/mth, unlimited Verizon to Verizon), 79.99 + 9.99 (we were forced to go with this, as the next plan down is only 700 min, and not sufficient for us.)
1 unlimited data package, 29.99 (this was required if you own a smartphone)
1 web package (75MB/mth), 9.99 (required with a web-ready phone)
2 texting plans (unlimited Vrz to Vrz + 500 out of network txts) 20.00

nTELOS, we pay $110 per month (incl. taxes)
Bonus - nTelos pays our cancellation charges from Verizon (which total $255), for breaking our contract with them. We have been with Verizon for 8 years.
For $99.98/mth we get...
2 smartphones, unlimited talk to any network
2 data packages with unlimited usage (no overage charges)
2 unlimited texting plans to any network

This is a savings of about $55-$60 per month, and for much MORE service.

The only "downside" is we had to get new phones, our ones from Verizon were Verizon specific devices so they couldn't be used on another network (Brian had a MotoBlur he was given, since his Droid was stolen/lost awhile back, and I had an LG EnV). So with our 2 year plan with nTelos, I got my new Samsung Gem (android phone) for free, and Brian got the Droid X for $149.99.

We ordered the Otterbox (protection case) for Brian phone from ebay for 14.99, and got a silicone case for mine too, for 4.95, and 2 screen protectors for Brian for 2.99 (all with free shipping). I was able to cut down a leftover screen protector from Brian's old Droid and it fits mine perfectly. So these additional phone accessory expenses total 22.93.

So with a savings of approx $60 per month, but then spending 172.92 on a phone & accessories, in about 2 almost 3 months, will have "made back" the expenses of the phones, and truly be saving that $60 per month on our cell phone bill!

Definitely worth the switch! Of course we kept our numbers, so you still know how to reach us! I have never had a smartphone before, so I am learning lots...and playing angry birds:-)

Catch Up

Seems like awhile since I've posted! Well, anything about the kids anyway. We've been really busy the past few weeks! This post will be pretty eclectic, most likely.
The kids have discovered the toy magazines that come out for Christmas. Sonny is taking his turn drooling over potential gifts:-)

Ardyn is getting bigger (and more vocal about life) by the day!

If you give Grey 6 candy corns for snack, he won't eat them one at a time.

Yesterday was the awards day in soccer, although not the last day, since we have a rain out game to cover next week. So more about soccer later!
We found renters for our house, so we have 1 week to finish our "chores" there...mainly the floors. We've also decided to protect/prime/paint the exterior of the home too, as the siding has never been painted before (kinda weird). It's in great shape, but could really use that protection. Brian has always been partial to the smoky-navy-blue kind of colour, with white trim. He wants to do our home like this eventually, and so will test out his colour palette on the rental. Exterior painting depends largely on the weather, but since its all outside, we don't mind finishing that up after they've moved in, if necessary.

American Thanksgiving and Christmas are quickly approaching! Yet another year has gone by without Brian taking vacation time...and since he's not allowed to take vacation around Christmas time with the position he's in (fiscal and physical year end), he's taking the week after Thanksgiving off to do work...on OUR house only! I need my bathroom painted, and accessories hung, and he has plans for our eaves and stuff. Dunno. It will be nice to have some Daddy time here, with the added bonus of finishing up our projects, instead of always finishing up other peoples:-) We are busy planning menu's, gifts, crafts, etc.

In other (silly) news. We got new cell phones! We actually made the switch from Verizon to nTelos. We have been debating this for awhile, and finally took the time to do it. I'll make a separate post about that for any local/US people interested in saving a bit of money!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Little Rebels

An interesting thought or two. Perhaps rambling. Definitely out of no where. Probably a bit boring. Bear with me...

"If you have too many requirements of your children, they will rebel against you" this was said to Brian recently (not in my presence), by an older, wise, Christian gentleman.

Is this true? If you set up too many standards for your children, will they push back and refuse to comply?

Perhaps. But what are you trying to make them comply with? Are they man made standards of preference? Or are they Bible-based directions from the Lord? I suppose one could write a book about this. Actually, there have been thousands of books already written I'm sure. So I'll keep it a short encouragement.

Hopefully, we are striving to instill in our children a strong moral basis. Not endless rules of "no you cannot". But solid moral character, built on Biblical principles. There is always a higher road. Even in grey areas, there is a good, better, best scenario that usually presents itself.

There have been times in my life when I've chosen the "good" path, but not the "best" path. I was not in sin by choosing to do good, but I was aware that I was not doing ALL that I could, by choosing down from the best. The reason I knew the difference between my choices was because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and also having a strong moral background. So next time, I make the better choice. And I see deeper, richer rewards.

I think that by striving for the hearts of our children, it will lessen the backlash as they age. I think that by parenting each child in their own way, you will lessen the backlash. I think that building your life up around His Kingdom, and not our own is the kicker. Seeing the world as our temporary home, and striving to live for the eternal one. This looses all the silly man made rules that we are compelled to follow from time to time. But it also institutes "rules" of a higher nature. Ones set by Jesus, and not by man. This takes a great deal of wisdom. Which is why parenting is so hard. God grant wisdom to those that seek it.

I do not believe the hype - that rebellion is the way of life of for teens. I have seen firsthand how this does not have to be the truth. I believe it should be the exception for children, rather than the rule. It should be. The reason it isn't likely has much more to do with the parents than the kids.

So back to the statement:
"If you have too many requirements of your children, they will rebel against you"

To which Brian replied, "That's fine. They can rebel if they choose, I cannot control that. But they will be rebelling against God, not me".

I liked that answer, because there is so much freedom in it. I will not require anything more of my children than what their heavenly Father requires of all men. But that is actually kind of a tall order. By making wise choices all the way along, I hope that they are so in love with the Lord, that they walk humbly before Him, always, in wisdom.

Micah 6:8 "...and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

Monday, November 7, 2011

Short Story

To my loving brother, Colonel Valentine Walton

It is our duty to sympathise in all mercies; and to praise the Lord together in chastisements or trails, so that we may sorrow together. Truly, England and the Church of God hath had a great favour from the Lord, in this great victory given unto us, such as the like never was since this war began. It had all the evidences of an absolute obtained by the Lord's blessing upon the Godly Party principally. We never charged, but routed the enemy. The Left Wing, which I commanded, being our own house, saving a few Scots in the rear, beat all the Prince's horses. God made them as stubble to our swords. We charged their regiments of foot soldiers with our horse, and routed all we charged. The particulars I cannot relate now; but I believe, of twenty thousand the Prince hath not four thousand left. Give glory, all the glory, to God.

Sir, God hath taken away your eldest son by a cannon-shot. It brake his leg. We were necessitated to have it cut off, whereof he died. Sir, you know my own trials this way (Cromwell's own son had been killed shortly before): but the Lord supported me with this, that the Lord took him into the happiness we all live for and pant for. There is your precious child full of glory, never to know sin or sorrow anymore. He was a gallant young man, exceedingly gracious. God give you His comfort.

Before his death he was so full of comfort that to Frank Russell and myself he could not express it - "it was so great above the pain". This he said to us. Indeed it was admirable. A little after, he said, one thing lay upon his spirit. I asked him what that was. He told me it was that God had not suffered him to be anymore the executioner of his enemies. At his fall, his horse being killed with the bullet and as I am informed three horses more, I am told he bid them open to the right and left, that he might see the rogues run. Truly he was exceedingly beloved in the army, of all that knew him. All but a few knew him, for he was a precious young man, fit for God.

You have cause to bless the Lord. He is a glorious saint in Heaven; wherein you ought to exceedingly rejoice. Let this drink up your sorrow; seeing these are not feigned words to comfort you, but the thing is so real and undoubted a truth. You may do all things by the strength of Christ. Seek that, and you shall easily be able to bear your trial. Let this public mercy to the Church of God make you to forget your private sorrow.

The Lord be your strength: So prays your truly faithful and loving brother,

Oliver Cromwell

Old Men

Brian and his best bud, Josh Dufek. These two can talk like you would not believe. They put women to shame. The length of their conversations are why we require an unlimited cell phone plan. Joking aside, they have a remarkable friendship, which (they will shudder at the comparison), might be "bosomly" similar to that of Anne of Green Gables and Diana Barry. In a totally manly way, of course. Josh can bring perspective and lift a mood like none other. So...this was Josh's facebook status the other day. Hilarious. And yes, this will be them!

*****
Overheard the following conversation between two very old men in the restroom. (To best play this out in your mind, know that these were true blue New Yorkers, evidently born and bred). I couldn't help but imagine that this was a conversation I might have with Brian in 50 years. It actually reminds me of conversations I have with him now.

*I was told by my doctor that when I get out of bed in the morning, or get out of a chair, not to do it too quickly*

It's a good idea.

*If I do, I lose my balance*

It happens to us sometimes.

*I almost fall, things might spin and I lose my balance*

It happens. These things happen sometimes.

*It's called hydrostatic hypertension*

I didn't need to know that.

*It's a big word*

I don't need to know that.

*It's a conversation starter*

Friday, November 4, 2011

Heart Songs

I saw this live on tv in 1999, on a Celine Christmas special I believe. It remains my favourite version of the song to date, bar none.
The vocal pairing of Andrea Bocelli & Celine Dion is beyond beautiful, and naturally, their execution is flawless. The Prayer.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

So big - Video

With the cutting of the hairs comes growth, it seems. He seems about a year older than he did last week. He just looks so mature! What a cutie!! We do miss our baby boy a little, but we're loving the new big boy too! Watch the 30 second video to hear him say some of our names! He's now calls Sonny "Nonny" and Kenna "Kiki"

video

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Freedom

This morning we headed over to the rental house to do a few things. Afterwards everyone was in such a good mood, I thought we would swing by the store and grab a few items. Shopping with 5 kids!! Haha, more than one person commented "you've got your hands full" - but it didn't feel like it, they were all perfect!! Aside from some hunger pangs waiting in line (it was 10:30...snack time overdue!) Thanks to the great carts they have now, its pretty easy to handle a big brood. We had a fun day together!

It's a haircut!!

That face about sums up his excitement

Or maybe this face says it better:-)
Just see how "easy" it is to get a decent cut! Way to go Daddy, you did a great job!
video
THE BIG REVEAL! Thank you Chani for the picture. He...looks like a boy. No more baby!

She needed a trim too

Still too much hair!