Thursday, January 31, 2013


Like my banner? Suffice it to say, I'm in love. I will leave it up, much beyond Valentines day, I'm sure.

I wanted to use the heart. But I didn't want to say "love"...too...normal.
 I'm teaching the kids French, so...j'taime means I love you in French...but then I couldn't use that heart...

Lucky for me, j'adore means "I adore you" in French, but it carries a much stronger meaning in the translation. If you like someone its j'taime (but goes for regular love too). If you *love* them, it's more like j'adore:-) Even though there is a term for I like you (j'taime bien) - but yah. Some things are a little lost in translation. J'adore is the strongest way of expressing ones love. So remember that.

All that to say j'adore gives across the sentiment I desire and gives me a chance to replace an o with a heart. Heavenly.

J'taime. Truly.

And this is a printable I made. Because if your heart does not completely melt at the sight of William Darcy (Colin Firth) expressing his love to Elizabeth Bennett...well, it is very possible that you do not have a heart, at all. You and the Grinch.

I *think* this printable should be "printable" in a 12x12 size if you enlarge or click on the pic. If you want to be sure, just comment or ask me, and I will email you the file for printing.

I printed mine at Costco for 2.99 adhered it (with spray adhesive by 3M) to the cardboard/chip board 12x12 piece that came in the packaging from Costco, and sanded it a little bit, using a very fine crafting sand paper. This takes the photo matte/gloss sheen off of it, and reveals other browns and blues as you rub away the black. J'adore.
not a great pic due to flash glare, but it shows the blues & browns better, which is the result of the sanding. It looks amazing in living colour.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sillies - Video

Silly Moments. Ones you don't want to forget:-)

Snowy Weekend - Video

THURSDAY, after much fanfare and anticipation, it started to snow. The kids ran outside immediately! This was the first snow since the winter of  2010, I believe!! The kids were thrilled!
Proof that it was snowing

trying to catch some snow!

Thursday's "accumulation" - it lasted all of 30 minutes and was gone.
FRIDAY - Around 3:15 or so, it started snowing, for real this time. My facebook status update at about 3:30 "I'm going to say this, at risk of sounding dumb to all those who experience real snowstorms and snowfalls, but man, "it's really coming down out there". Given my location and the rarity with which those words can be spoken, I justify myself."

The kids were thrilled, and ran out to destroy the freshly falling snow with myriads of footprints. 

Kenna: Mom, you know, eating snow is very delightful! taste like snow cones, only with no dye

Kenna: Ok. wow. I totally need mitts. I don't even care if they don't match
Going to bed Friday night. It really snowed!
SATURDAY morning: More snow playing fun!

We had to have hot chocolate, and a dance party in the house to warm up:-)
SUNDAY morning: The snow is completely gone in places where there are no shadows. So basically, none of our neighbours have any more snow, but we do, since we have so many trees! haha!!

It sure was fun while it lasted!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tired Today...

...but I managed to finish a mini album while the kids napped. I still have one more to finish (of the winter photoshoot). Check out my Craft Blog to see the adorable pics. I love it!!
Kenna can read very well/everything now. So she reads the front and says "awwww, that's that song you wrote for Grey" haha!
I was super duper tired today...and so I cheated on my diet. I literally was struggling to keep my eyes open and not get very annoyed with the kids, so I had to crack. Unfortunately, the caffeine and sugar only did *so much* to help:-/ Too bed early I suppose!
My confession. I wear a Cat in the Hat tee shirt. Oh, and I drank a coke :-(

Trying to get a pic of my bloodshot eyes. Instead it was just kind of a spooky pic all around. And then I noticed you could see my reflection/camera in the reflection of my eye. Weird.

Grey's Geography - Video

Geography app is supposed to be for the big kids. {Such a MARVELOUS learning tool!}. Grey loves it, it's too cute. There are many facets to the app, the video shows a few things (of the less-educational side, since Grey can't really do the hard stuff), when we first got the app, I thought that it must have been made in Japan perhaps, since the alternate first choice for a language other than English is Japanese. That at the map is "backwards" compared to how we normal show the world, from our North American perspective.

However, extensive trips to the Japanese Cultural Center in Toronto as a child (I've been at least 3 times:-)...I remember that they taught us that this is how maps look in Japan. So that settles it, and I'm fairly certain. I actually like that its different than the "norm" here, so that the kids can grasp the roundness of the world.

There is a part of the app that shows the flag, a person from that country, and the way they say Hello in their native language (shown in video). Every English speaking country says Hello properly. Except the United States. They picture a native Indian, and it says "Hellllllloooo" weirdly. Kenna looked at me suspiciously and said "That is NOT what we are like!" haha!! Perhaps they are sticking it to the man or something. Hellllloooooo. Now we like to say it weird too:-) Watch to see what I mean.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ghee & Peanut Butter - Recipes

My motivation for eating healthy/more healthy is this: I *hate* to exercise. So I feel like maximizing what I put in my mouth, nutritionally, means I have to work out less;-) I have been reading a lot in the "paleo" diet world (eating whole, real, food. Nothing processed) about ghee, or also called clarified butter. I didn't know anything about it, so I decided to do some research, and wow. Google it. It's crazy! 
This organic butter costs 4.29 at Trader Joe's.
Here is an excerpt from this article: which gives a pretty good overall picture of the advantages of ghee over butter.

"Calories, Fat and Cholesterol

Ghee is a more concentrated source of fat than butter since the moisture and other milk solids are removed. One tablespoon of ghee has 13 g of fat and 117 calories versus butter, which has 11 g fat and 100 calories per tablespoon. Dr. Jay Glacer, in his book ''Body Renewal,'' suggests that ghee is rich in natural antioxidants, composed mainly of short chain fatty acids, and its cholesterol fraction resists oxidation. This is important since cholesterol becomes harmful when it is broken down or oxidized by free radicals that lead to clogged arteries and heart problems. The short chain fatty acids present in ghee are metabolized and used for energy immediately by the liver and resist being stored in the body as fat."

To start: Use a organic unsalted butter. Trader Joe's claims in their organic butter that they do not add water - this is not something conventional butters will be able to claim. The amount of water, and chemicals used the the regular/normal butter making process is beyond mind boggling (why ruin something so natural?). So buy organic, where you are getting the cream and fats only. Or make it yourself...I have yet to try this, but really want too!
Begin to melt on low heat

Once melted (stirring often to help break up chunks), it will begin to bubble/simmer, and create a froth. It is separating everything out of the butter. You will be left with only the butterfat. Ghee is perfect for people that are lactose intolerant, as all the milk "parts" will be removed in the process

Keep skimming the butter and removing all the foam

I am holding a 1/2 C measuring cup, so pictured is about how much foam I could remove with a slotted spoon (about 1/4C perhaps?). This process so far took about 15-20 mins of melting, simmering & separating the butter

I did not have cheesecloth, so I used a coffee filter to strain the remaining butter

Can you see all the white parts in there? Straining those out

You can see them caught on the filter

We are left with pure ghee (which is only the butterfat). This is the yield from processing 1 lb of organic butter

Cooling down. Tip: Did you know the lids of parmesan cheese containers or coffee creamers fit on mason jars?

Apparently, it will stay very soft/liquid on the counter, and lasts for 6 months. It lasts longer and will take a hard form in the fridge. I put mine in the fridge, I am unsure which way I will like it best. Ghee has a very high (450+) smoke point, so it will not burn in cooking/sauteing the way butter does. I also thought perhaps I should measure it into an icecube tray in 1T measurements, and once hard put in a container, and keep in firidge. Easy to grab a predetermined amount then, for cooking. Maybe next time!
Result - ever so slightly time consuming (30mins total) but not at all difficult. Excited to cook with it! I'm even gonna try a little bit on toast, just to see! :-)

EXPERIMENT #2. - Homemade Peanut Butter.

This made possible by my new food processor! LOVE it!!

3.29 at Trader Joe's. Ingredients, Peanuts and salt

After about 20 seconds

at 6:58

at 6:59

at 7:00

at 7:01

at 7:02, done.
 As it whirs around, the natural oils in the peanuts are released giving it its creamy smoothness. You don't add anything at all!! And wow, it sure is smooth! Literally took minutes, as you can see, and done! The kids all had to have a lick, and they were sooo impressed that it tasted like peanuts, haha!!
Keep it in the fridge for a firmer texture. You may have to give it a shake, if you don't use it a lot, the oils will separate, as with all natural peanut butters. I have a feeling ours won't last long enough for that to be a problem:-) I don't really even eat peanut butter, but the kids love it. Natural is sooo much healthier than the hydrogenated store bought conventional ones, and homemade has a cheaper price tag than other natural peanut butters. Sold!

The yield of my evening adventures:-)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Basketball - Video

Here's a few clips, in case you ever wondered what basketball played by 5 year olds looks like. Pretty cute & hilarious!

Weekend! - Video

A busy weekend for all! A few highlights...
Thank you for Christmas Stocking Stuffers!...using up my Starbucks gift cards. A perfect thing for a chilly early morning basketball practice!

Saturday was cold in the morning! We could see our breathe (really one of the few times this year), and we also had frost! Also pretty much a first for this year too! Wow!! The kids just had to go out and touch it, and see how cold it was.
Shopping at Kroger. The kids adore these little carts. Grey got his own cart for the very first time, and he was very responsible with it.
Unloading the contents of his cart:-)

The Flipping Car - Video

On our way home from church yesterday (at Kempsville & Centerville) we came upon an accident that had just happened. Given it's location I don't even know how on earth - somebody must have been going way too fast. Anyway, a vehicle was completely flipped over. I snapped a pic on my phone for Grey, who is soooo in love with cars & trucks, that this was a pretty big deal to him. He had to show Daddy, since Daddy has been assigned a nights and weekends job right now (so bummy!)

He keeps calling it the flipping car. LOL! When looking at the picture, he calls it a "tiny flipping car" since the pic is tiny compared to the real-life view. So funny! I had my camera in my purse too, so I got some of his reactions.
All day today, he's been talking about the flipping car. Cracks me up:-)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Smarter Than I Look

To my dear children:

I know you think that I am very very dumb. But let me spell out a few things for you.

1. No one ever knocks on the door that loudly

2. Anytime there is a legitimate knock at the door, you run excitedly to the door, and don't sit there calmly saying "Mom, I think someone's knocking"

3. I am not deaf, although not looking at you, I can hear you knocking on the table

4. I am not deaf. The whispers and giggles are audible

5. I am not as naive as you obviously think I am

6. Clicking your tongue against the roof of your mouth does *not* sound like door-knocking. The change-up has not fooled me

7. Yes, I am ignoring you. I heard you the first 10 times you said it, and I will still not go and check to make sure someone is there

8. I am seriously considering never a) teaching you how to use a telephone and b) ever letting you know what a prank call is

Signed, with {irritated} love,

Your {highly} intelligent Mother

Friday, January 18, 2013

About Grandpa - Video

Kids...well, there is really just no way to explain it. *rolls eyes*. I promise you I do not feed them misinformation. They just think up all these crazy things! Here is a little synopsis of their opinion of Grandpa's heart attack, Daddy's scratched eye...and then we digress into more talk about bird watching;-)


On Tuesday Brian's dad was experiencing chest tightness, and went to the hospital in NJ (He has been there for work - Hurricane Sandy repair/rebuilt). Tests revealed a minor heart attack, and further testing revealed 2 blocked arteries.

Brian and Lauren quickly drove up to the Jersey Shore to be with him, which is less than 6 hrs from us, so not too far, thankfully! He had surgery on Wednesday evening, and they opened up one artery with a stent and balloon, but could not do the second one at the same time due to the location and complication of it. They will do the surgery in NY in about 2 weeks. He is doing great, he feels fine, tests are showing his heart function is very good etc, so we are very grateful this was just a small warning that landed him in the hospital to discover the bigger issue, and are sooo glad that he's on the mend! He was discharged on Thursday.

Right after arriving at the hospital in NJ, Brian got something in his eye. Couldn't get it out, continued irritation etc, and he scratched his cornea. So he basically spent his entire Thursday going to dr's and getting prescriptions for his eye. Oh brother! Poor guy though, it's so painful, even with the pain drops and anti infection drops they've given him...and the lubricating drops he's dropping in there every second. Multiple people there have told me Dad looks great, and Brian looks awful. LOL!

They are heading back home today and Mom & Dad Bolger will be heading back to NY to follow up with the cardiologists there and get the second procedure done. I told the kids we need to dig up an old pirate eye patch for Daddy;-)

Dress Up

Here we have - a cowboy, a worker man, a warrior with a phone, and 2 princesses :-)
The Honey's

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Nemesis

...semi-conquered. I have been using the following system for close to 2 years now. I started writing this post in March of last year, as my drafts dates tell me anyway. Haha. So much for getting things done!! But now that I have done laundry like this for awhile, I can say for SURE that it works for me.

If you know me well, or even semi well, you will likely know that I HATE laundry. Ick.
My laundry room is in the garage (also known as The Death Trap), which is so full of tools, paint cans, air compressor hoses, and lumber (yay for hubbies in construction:-/)...that actually, its not a laundry room. Its a washer and a dryer in the garage. I don't have space for awesome laundry room-ish things and organizing systems...not to mention that, even if I had the's too dirty...Sawdust, and all that construction stuff. I take the clothes down, place them in the washer, then dryer, then bring them immediately back into the house. Which means laundry is always in my house, on my couch, etc. Obnoxious.

I have used laundry baskets before with little success. Baskets have a few problems

a) they are just the right height for crawlers and young walkers to pull clothes out
b) they tip over too easily
c) they are too sturdy...flip it over, and its a stool. Sit in it and "ride" and it's a car...
d) *never ending* inspiration for how kids can re-purpose said basket during play

So basically, although I had baskets a-plenty, I still had piles of clothes on the floor, and empty baskets being used for everything BUT holding clothes. What kind of a crazy Mom do you sound like when you forbid children to play with laundry baskets?

To all you naysayers, I say this: Thinking "inside the box" has had me miserable and behind for 8+ years (since marriage...I didn't do my own laundry before that. Spoiled, yes, thanks Mom). Enter a little creativity, and I am happy and up to date, I dare you to say that I'm not doing it right, or that it's not good for the clothes. I dare you:-) I also dare you to find anything wrong with my clothes...although most of them are pretty old, so don't look THAT close:-)

Here's the deal - I bought a few of these:

They collapse and are just generally not very fun to play with somehow. Score one for Mommy. I bought 4 smaller square ones, and 1 larger round one. The big one is Brian's. The small ones are ours: Me, Boys, Kenna, "extras" (towels, sheets, rags, blankets etc).

This is how my system works.
1. Place empty laundry basket in bedroom. Place all dirty clothes in basket.
It takes more than a week to fill this basket, it holds Brooks & Grey's clothes. Kenna's takes about 2 weeks to fill, full...but I she doesn't have quite enough clothes to last her last long. Generally, each basket is done weekly.
2. This basket when full = 1 large load. When the basket is full of clothes, take entire basket of clothes, and put ALL clothes in washing machine.

3. Wash them.

4. Dry them.

5. Place all clothes immediately back into the basket they came out of.
Out of dryer, and back into hamper. Just stuff 'em all in there

6. Take basket to appropriate bedroom. Tell kids to put away their clothes.
Boys! Come put your clothes away!

7. Place empty basket in its place and repeat process every week.


I'll start with the explanations. I'm one of the busiest people I know. Haha. Ok, maybe not. Some of you are crazy busy. But if you can translate number of children under 6 years old to equal some sort of algebraic equation to indicate level of business and craziness...I'm up there on the charts. 6 children 6 years old and under. You really have to see it to believe. You might actually be surprised at how calm it {usually} is! Anyway, to simplify life, where I can, I keep our clothing simple. I don't buy or even accept/keep handmedowns with difficult care instructions. If it's handwash only, I do not own it. If it's dry clean only, I do not own it. Actually, the only article of clothing we own that is dry clean only is Brian's suit and my wedding dress. They get about the same amount of use, haha! Yup, he only has one suit, since he has so few occasions to wear it, it is senseless to spend money on more. I own precious few items that would need to be "gentle cycle" only. These things are worn so infrequently, that this is really not an issue. Bras and such go into a bra bag, which I keep in my hamper, so they get washed with everything else and do not get ruined. We are not fancy people, we don't dress up for fancy dinners or parties - for lack of time, money and desire, really. We have a simple, laid back, anything-goes style that suits us.

I do not sort clothing*. I wash everything with everything else. Darks with lights, jeans with undies, whites with reds, you name it, I've washed it along side something I shouldn't have. Guess what? I have never once had a colour bleed or fade, or actually really noticed any ill affects at all. But again, like I said before, our clothing is quite hardy and definitely not special. I spot spray immediately things that I notice get stained (while eating for example) and then wait for it to be washed when the basket is full. As I load the washer I double check all pockets and give a brief once over for stains that need spraying.

*I am not an idiot. Are you doubting me? haha. No really, if we get a brand new red shirt, I wash it with a load of dark brown towels or rags first, just to be safe that the colour won't run. Sometimes, after continual use, perhaps Brian's white undershirts can use a wash with bleach, so I will do that. It's infrequent - perhaps every 6 months, so it's not a big deal to collect them all and do that one special load. I hate bleach and do not make a habit of using it unless necessary.

Now for the Cons - Not many that I think of, actually. I guess it could be construed as a con that I do not sort clothing. But I never sorted clothing even when I didn't have this laundry system, so for me, not change there at all. Another con - perhaps (more about it in the pros) is that we may be slightly more wrinkly, especially for the kids. Do I look like I care? In case you can't sense the sarcasm there, I do not. When it's important, we'll iron it quick before we put it on - things are important about 2 times a year, as it averages out. Not a big deal.

The Pros - No more missing socks. They are all in the same load and get matched back up. On the off chance that one is alone in the basket, it's pair is likely under the bed, I just throw the lonely pair back in the hamper to get re-washed next week...knowing its pair will be found by then and it'll matched at that time. A HUGE deal to me to not have to sort through all the missing socks anymore, because we don't have any!
Lonely socks, left after all laundry was put away. Leave them in the hamper, they'll be matched next time, for sure.

Another pro - no laundry flying around my house. Whether it is dirty or clean, its in a hamper or a dresser. Simple. And this one is HUGE to me.

Another pro - not as much folding for me. Here is where the wrinkly comments from above plays in. Kids - they are so messy anyway. And they like to change clothes 27 times per day. So they rip out everything from their dresser and stuff it all back in. And then I get upset because "look at what you did, that was all Mommy's hard work!", "why are you changing?", "what is the matter with you it's 1000 degrees outside and you're in a wool sweater","what is the matter with you, it's 30 degrees out there and you're in shorts, demanding a hot chocolate because you're cold". You get the idea. I find it better to generally not ask. I don't know where they came from, but they're crazy. When we are home, they can wear whatever they want. It's been a standing rule, and one I think will not be lifted anytime soon (and thus far has never been challenged)...when we leave the house, *I* dictate what is worn. No questions asked.

 Enter my brilliant idea. Why fold them in the first place, since they will be unfolded and "ruined" in 1 day anyway. Enter second brilliant idea - they are old enough to put away their own clothes. So I've taught them how to fold socks and fold things as they put it away - and they do it themselves. As they get older I may have to re-force better, but they do pretty well. They fold (at least in half) their items and place/stuff them in the drawers, and it suits me just fine. I don't have to do it, and I don't really care that they stuff them, and I don't really care if they change their outfits every hour on the hour, because they are picking up their things and learning to be neat. Neat enough for their age anyway. Kenna is more careful and likes to hang most of her clothes (knock yourself out, girl), Brooks is a stuffer and so is Grey, naturally, since he's still young. This is not something I choose to make a big deal or stress about. It's clothing, not the end of the world. I will live, they will live, and so will everyone else.

All that to say, the only clothes I fold are Brian's, and mine. Brian's hamper holds 2 loads, since it's larger. But only folding his 2 loads, plus mine 1...pretty manageable. It's almost like I don't have children. Oh wait nevermind. I can hear them. They still exist. Somehow it's easy to bring up his hamper, dump it on the couch, fold everything quick and done! When you fold it right away like that, fewer wrinkles. Less to iron later. Etc. I've eliminated the temptation to put all folded clothes back in the basket, and then just rifle through and use the basket as a dresser as needed. The folded clothes don't really fit back in the soft hamper, so I have to pick them up and put them away. 1 load = one trip to bedroom. Pants on the bottom, then shirts, socks and undies on top. It's quick and it's over.

Last Pro - it WORKS for me. This system really really does work for me. I implemented it about 1.5+ years ago, and on weeks when it's been crazy here, and I let it "slide", I end up with piles all over the house, feeling like I can't get control of the laundry that is breeding on my floor. It adds a silent, behind-the-scenes stress to my life. Who needs that. When I follow the system I set out, I feel ready, I feel in control of it, I feel it's easy to master. One simple load per day. Or two if I want, or even all of them on the same day. It doesn't matter to me. There is something very stress free about doing 1 load of laundry and not seeing any other laundry flying around that needs to be done. It's not like, Oh I just did all this, and still so much to do. It's like wow. Done. Accomplished.
This is one load of Brian's clothes, ready to get put away. Yes, I washed all of these things in the same load together. :-D

I know the neat freaks and the OCD are probably going crazy right now. ...I don't care:-) The point is not at all that I think you should adopt my lazy methods, the point is that you should challenge yourself to think outside the box and make your life (and chores and chore schedules etc) work for you! If there is something you hate to do, find a way to make it more tolerable...a way that does not involve consuming chocolate while you do it, that is:-)

**I will accept absolutely NO responsibility if you dye all your whites to pink by accident. I am quite diligent in my lazy methodology, so I have avoided such mishaps. I don't think you should do what I do, just explaining my ways. If you decide to make similar changes, tread cautiously until you know how it will work for you. I will not buy you a new wardrobe if you ruin yours.