Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A 4th of July Grilling Recipe

This recipe was in our local newspaper a few weeks ago and I couldn't wait to try it. 

4 boneless pork loin chops, trimmed, about 1 pound

1/4 soy sauce
1 C beer - room temperature
2 T brown sugar
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger root

Combine marinade ingredients together well; place chops in a self-sealing plastic bag and pour marinade over, seal bag and refrigerate 4-24 hours.  Prepare grill.  Remove chops from marinade and place chops on the grill.  Grill for 10 minutes, turning once.

The pork chops were really moist and flavorful.  It is really important to get that fresh ginger in the marinade.  The flavor really pops.  I keep the ginger root in my freezer and whenever I need some fresh ginger I grate some off and put it back in the freezer. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Five Family Healthy Habits

Just the other day I received a mailing from FOCUS ON THE FAMILY.  In the brochure it talked about their new campaign that they are going to focus on for the next 6 months.  They have titled it "Everyday Family Campaign" with each month digging deeper into each of these 5 habits.  I feel so strongly about each of these 5 habits that I wanted to share them with you as well.  I encourage each of you to work on these with your family.  I promise you will be rewarded!

1. DINNER:  Eating dinner as a family - without the distraction of television - is a vital part of family life.  Dinner is a great time to show a deep interest in your children's lives by asking questions and taking the time to really listen to the answers.  (Our family like to use the books KID CHAT for ideas to spark creative discussion.)

2. TIME:  Spending meaningful time together as as family every week will strengthen bonds.  Playing together, laughing together, eathing together, and attending church together.  Each of these time investments will sow long-term rewards for parents.  (Our family loves playing board games as well as just snuggling together, especially in the mornings and right before bed.)

3. COMMUNICATION:  Talk to your kids every day.  Get on their level and experience the world from their perspective.  Asking good questions and listening to the answers will lead to trust between you and your children.   (I am always amazed at the conversations I have with my children when I give them my undivided attention.)

4. LAUGHTER:  There is something wonderful and special that happens when families play together and laugh together.  Parents and children grow closer and learn what's important to each other.  (I love hearing my kids laugh!)

5. PRAYER:  Your children will mimic your actions.  They want nothing more than to be like the heroes in their lives.  When you pray with your children, you're showing them that the most important relationship in your life is with God. ( We have seen God answer prayers and the kids like making lists of others to pray for.)

Taken from the Family Focus June 2010 Parenting brochure from FOCUS ON THE FAMILY.

We are all sooo busy these days.  Sometimes it is so hard to make that extra time for our kids when we are running from one practice, event, game, camp, etc to another.  But, even if these things can't happen everyday.  Make an effort to have at least one day or half a day every week devoted to just family time.  You won't regret it and you will feel even more ready to tackle the next project or activity.

If you would like to know more about Biblical truth for today's family, check out for numerous resources targeted just for your family's needs.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Excited About A Crock Pot

I guess it doesn't take much to get me excited about something these days.  When CSN Stores asked me to be a regular blogger for them, I was excited and then to find out I can review and giveaway products for them, I was even more thrilled!  At that same time, my favorite crockpot that I had had for 11+ years, finally gave out.  So, CSN Stores allowed me to pick out a new crock pot for my first review. 

My crock pot arrived today and I can't wait to use it!  So, as soon as I make something fancy and yummy in it, I will be sure to post and let you know how awesome it worked!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Just 6 Months Away!

Did you know that Christmas was 6 months away from yesteryday?  I know it is hard to think about Christmas in the middle of the summer when it is 90 degrees outside.  But, if you start thinking about Christmas a little bit, maybe it won't be so overwhelming come November/December.  As you are going through the aisles at Target, check all the clearance end caps for possible gifts for family members or even your children.  Stock up on teacher gifts, hostess gifts, and items for gift exchanges at your office.  Most every store has a clearance section and sometimes you can find really nice items for a great deal.  Then put them all in a tub with your Christmas items so when you pull those out, you will have the gifts close by! As you are sitting by the pool with your family, maybe some pool passes for your sister's kids would be a great gift idea for Christmas.  As you take your family to the water park, how about picking up some tickets for next summer for a gift idea.  As you are on vacation, look for unique items that you might want to pick up for a loved one.  Wouldn't it be great to have most of your shopping done before the summer is over?

Last year I won this great book called A SCRAPBOOK OF CHRISTMAS FIRSTS.  The author's also have a blog that I believe they start in July and run through January.  The blog is based off of the book and gives you lots of tips to help you prepare for the Christmas season.  The book is just a wonderful addition to my library.  I love all the stories and tips it offers as well as the recipes. But my favorite is the stories of all kinds of other traditions that families have started to celebrate Christmas.  If you are a new family or starting over as a single mom or maybe empty nesters and looking for new traditions, this book has LOTS of ideas for you.  Also throughout the book are Bible verses and quotes related to the Christmas season.

One tip that I really liked from the book is purchasing a $10 roll of quarters and that way you are sure to always have quarters for your children to place in the Salvation Army kettles when you see them outside store entrances.  I don't always have cash on me and the kids love to put coins in the kettles.  So, this will allow us to be sure to keep those bell ringers happy!

This book is available on Amazon for $13.25.  It would also make a great Christmas gift for all those ideas I mentioned above.  It won't disappoint. 

Movie Review: VeggieTales Sweetpea Beauty: A Girl After God's Own Heart

Our family watched the newest movie put out by Big Idea Productions in their VeggieTales line titled, SWEETPEA BEAUTY.  SWEETPEA BEAUTY involves many of our favorite fairy tales including Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and the Princess and the Pea all wrapped up into one story. 

Once upon a time, there lived a royally sour blueberry, a fair rhubarb maiden, and a dastardly deceptive mirror!  Sweetpea Beauty knows that what's on the inside is what matters most, but insecure Queen Blueberry can't see past her own reflection! So, when a decree is handed down that only the most beautiful can rule the land, the Queen gets nervous and things turn ugly! Banished to the dark forest, Sweetpea's fate seems bleak until a charming prince, a band of merry minstrels, and seven snow peas come to the rescue! Will Sweetpea and her friends be able to warn the Queen in time to save her from the clutches of the tricky mirror - or will the crumbling kingdom and the Queen's own heart be lost forever?  Find out in this fairy "Veggie" tale about the real meaning of true beauty. 

I knew our 5-year-old daughter would love this movie, but wasn't sure about our older boys.  But, as VeggieTales fans, it didn't matter that this was more of a "girly" story.  We all enjoyed the movie and the boys said, after I asked how they liked it, "It was good, Mom.  It doesn't matter how you look on the outside but what is inside of you that counts."  Well, I guess they got the message!

This is definately another VeggieTales winner.  It is a quick 50 minutes and has the usual opening act with Bob and Larry and some fun songs sprinkled in.  The key verse from this movie is from
1 Samuel 16:7b
The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (NIV)
A message all of us need to hear.

Friday, June 25, 2010

KUNG ZHU Review and Huge Giveaway!

I'm sure by now most of you have heard of the very popular Zhu Zhu pets.  Little toy hamsters that run around on a track and squeak and squeal at you.  Well now there are Zhu Zhu pets for boys called KUNG ZHU!

These warrior hamsters are far from being the cute and cuddly Zhu Zhu Pets that everyone fell in love with. But make no mistake, these ultra cool, tough pets will be a sure competition to the original Zhu Zhu Pets! With eight original characters split into two battling groups called Special Forces and Ninja Warriors, Kung Zhu Pet owners will have the thrill of training each character to transform fighting, battling warriors. While these Kung Zhu hamsters may start off as "cute" and "mild-mannered" once they are sent into their main training grounds, smart chip technology will actually allow you to hear a distinct personality transformation of fighting ninja and warriors.

When I received this box, my kids thought it was Christmas in June!  They were super excited and were jumping all over the house!  They couldn't wait to get everything set up and play with them. 

It did take a little bit of time to put the battle arena and all the track pieces together.  But once it was done, the kids couldn't wait to "battle" each other.  The zhu zhu pets wear battle armour and battle each other until one of them falls over inside the battle arena.  There is a kind of a good guy/bad guy feel for each pet and each accessory fits on their particular side.  You can choose to be part of the military team or the martial arts team.  Our boys are 10 and almost 9 and enjoyed playing with the KUNG ZHU set.  Our 5 year old daughter even wanted to get in on the action.  She has her own Zhu Zhu Pets, but because of the special microchip technology, the regular Zhu Zhu Pets won't be able to react to the special accessories built into this set.  Our 8 year old is even asking for more KUNG ZHU stuff for his upcoming birthday.

The KUNG ZHU set is a huge hit with our family.  I guess the only downside would be the space that it takes to leave it set up.  We have ours set up in a corner of our basement so it doesn't interfere too much with our space.  The new KUNG ZHU is available in your local Target, Walmart, and Toy R Us stores.  In fact, just this week I saw a whole section at our Target dedicated to KUNG ZHU.  To learn more about these toys, go to

Now for the best part:  I have a set of KUNG ZHU to giveaway to one lucky reader!  This is a HUGE giveaway as it includes all items pictured and would cost over $100 if you purchased all these items!

So, to enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave me a comment with your email address.  If you "follow me" leave me an extra comment for an extra entry.  Entries are accepted until Sunday, July 11th at 11:59 PM.  I will draw the winner using and contact the winner via the email provided.  If there isn't a response within 48 hours, I will choose a different winner. This contest is open to US and Canada residents only.

I was provided with all the products to review as well as the giveaway products.  This review is my honest opinion.  I would never review something that our family couldn't enjoy or use.  I'm just a mom who wants to share great products with you!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Weekend at the Cabin

The kids and my folks and I traveled north about 9 hours to my cousin's cabin.  I desperately needed to get away and the kids were very excited to play with their cousins.  So, at 6:20AM last Thursday we hopped in the van and we arrived at our destination about 4:00.  The weekend included the kids playing with their cousins in the lake and my cousin and I sitting by the lake.  It was wonderful. Unfortunately my husband wasn't able to go this time, but he did get some much needed projects done and a little rest himself.  Here is a little slide show of our fabulous weekend on the lake! Enjoy!

Weekend on the Lake on PhotoPeach

Going Against the Current

Have you ever felt like you were walking upstream?  Have you ever walked in a river or tried to swim in a river going against the current?  It is tough and the river is constantly trying to push you backwards.  That is how I have been feeling this summer.  Summer should be a fun and relaxing time for our family, but so far it hasn't (except for 4 short days which I will mention in another post).  Every morning when I wake up, I feel like I am running in that river trying to go upstream and I don't seem to get anywhere.  My To Do list seems to grow and multiply overnight.  Each morning I try to decide what NEEDS to get done that day and then do my best to get those things done.  Do I succeed every day?  NO.  Am I ok with that?  Not always.  But, what I have decided is that EVERYTHING isn't ALWAYS going to get done.  My standards may have to be lowered.  It will be ok if the floors haven't been mopped.  It is ok to go to bed with a living room full of toys.  It is ok if I didn't get the mail read today.  I will go to bed and try again tomorrow.  I have also learned not to say YES to everything and everyone.  I have learned the things that I really enjoy and the things that I don't, I have to let go.  I have learned to delegate jobs to the kids.  These jobs may not be done the way I like them to be done, but at least they are done.  The kids are learning responsibility and I have one less chore to do.  I have also learned that I need time to relax.   After putting the kids to bed, I could do dishes or laundry, but instead that is my "meltdown" time with my husband.  We may watch TV, read, surf the internet, or just visit.  I need that time before I go to bed. 

I may still be running upstream everyday, but some days I actually make some headway, like today.  I put on the ipod and focused for 2 hrs on CLEANING MY HOUSE!  I had really let that go the last few weeks and sadly, it showed!  Kids rooms picked up, bathrooms cleaned, floors swept and mopped, etc etc.  Boy do I feel better.  It is amazing how lighter you feel and how much more motivated you feel once you have a clean house!  I feel like I can tackle a few more projects before we head out the door for ball games and play rehearsal tonight.

So, if you feeling like you are going against the current of life.  It's ok, so are lots of other moms.  It is all a balance.  Everybody these days is busy.  It doesn't matter if you are 18 or 80, single or married, parents or grandparents.  Everyone is busy.  But each of us has to figure out the busyness in our own way.  Yeah, some days I don't handle it very well, and yell, get short with the kids, or even cry, but most days I am just like everyone else, getting through it all, one task at a time.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My First and Last Time

Several weeks ago I scheduled an appointment to donate blood.  The blood drive was coming to our small town and the last time there were here I found out I was able to donate.  (I received several blood transfusions about 6 1/2 years ago and I wasn't sure how long you had to wait to donate.)  My mom is a regular donor and I always thought I would be able to donate blood, just like her.  I was a regular plasma donor 15 years ago and just assumed it would be easy for me to donate blood.  Not the case.  The blood didn't want to come out of my left arm so they tried moving the needle in farther (lots of pain), then that still didn't work, so we tried my right arm.  It took a few jiggles and moves with the needle and then it finally started flowing....slow but sure.  After having a cookie and some soda, we headed home where I became nauseated and felt icky all evening.  Now both of my arms are painful and have huge bruises.  So even thought I really wanted to be able to give back I just don't think blood donation is for me.  I completely appreciate every single person who donates blood. I saw a lot of my friends there today donating blood, including my husband.  I am grateful for everyone who gives of their time and precious blood so that others can live.  If it weren't for someone else's blood, I wouldn't be here today.  If you have never donated blood, it is worth the shot to see if you are a good candidate.  Depending on where you donate, the process can be quite quick.  Many communities have local blood drives every few months and larger cities have regular blood donation centers.  Some good websites to check out are and

Thursday, June 10, 2010

National Geographic/Energizer Contest and Giveaway

Would you like to take a FREE TRIP to Greece?

The 3rd Annual Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest is happening now! Send in your best photos-in categories like Animals/Wildlife, Travel, and Weather-for a chance to win a National Geographic Expeditions trip for two to Greece and a feature in an upcoming issue of National Geographic magazine.  Check out all the great information at Last year's winner used a regular point-and-shoot camera.  So, this contest is open to anyone and everyone!  The entry deadline for all photos is June 30, 2010. 

There's no question about one thing: To get the best shot, you need the best equipment. That's where Energizer comes in. Energizer® Ultimate Lithium AA and AAA batteries are the world's longest lasting batteries in high-tech devices. They last up to eight times longer than Energizer® MAX® in digital cameras (results vary by camera)-which means you can take your mind off your batteries and focus on capturing that winning photo.

I personally only use Energizer batteries in my cameras and have NEVER been disappointed!  Next week, I will be packing my camera and charger and batteries on a little weekend getaway.  I am hoping to get that one photo that just might win me a trip to Greece!  So, start snapping those summer photos and you just might take that winning photo.  Here is a look at some of the previous winning photos:

National Geographic Ultimate Photo Contest

Now, for the fun part!  I have a giveaway for you too.  I have 2 AA packs and 1 AAA pack of ENERGIZER Lithium batteries to giveaway to one of you.  National Geographic Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest
All you have to do is promise to tell your friends about this great contest.  Share it on your blogs and facebook, tell your friends before they leave for vacation, and start taking your own photos.  Leave me a comment with your email address.  This contest is open until Sunday, June 20, 2010 at 11:59 PM.  I will choose a winner using on Monday, July 21, 2010. 

Thanks to Energizer for this giveaway.  I was compensated with batteries and an iTunes gift card for the post.  All posts are my honest opinion.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fun Fact For Ya!

The average woman in 17th Century America gave birth to 13 children!

OH MY!  Thank goodness I was born centuries later!  I could barely handle delivering, let alone, raising the 3 I have!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Movie Review: Sex and the City 2

Yesterday I met my BFF, Tammy and we went to the movie SEX AND THE CITY 2.  We went to the first movie on opening day and LOVED it.  Unfortunately, it took us a couple of weeks to get our schedules arranged to get to this one.  Since it had been out, I had seen numerous reviews, several trailers, read Facebook postings, and heard numerous comments about it.  So, I went into it knowing that it was over-the-top and was disappointing to some. 

The fun, the fashion, the friendship: “Sex and the City 2” brings it all back and more as Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) take another bite out of The Big Apple—and beyond—carrying on with their busy lives and loves in a sequel that truly sparkles.

What happens after you say “I do”? Life is everything the ladies ever wished it to be, but it wouldn’t be “Sex and the City” if life didn’t hold a few more surprises…this time in the form of a glamorous, sun-drenched adventure that whisks the women away from New York to one of the most luxurious, exotic and vivid places on earth, where the party never ends and there’s something mysterious around every corner. It’s an escape that comes exactly at the right moment for the four friends, who are finding themselves in—and fighting against—the traditional roles of marriage, motherhood and more.
After all, sometimes you just have to get away with the girls.

As a true SEX AND THE CITY fan, I did enjoy the movie.  Yes, it was over-the-top at times.  Yes, it was cheesy in places.  But, I could relate to the marriage issues that Carrie was having.  I could relate to Charlotte's frustrations with motherhood (not the nanny part, but the being a mom part).  I really liked the beginning and the ending.  The middle was "fluff" and fun to watch.  The fashion, the shoes, the jewelry, the hair...I took it all in.  I didn't feel like I was looking at the clock wondering when it was going to be over, but at times I did get a little bored with the Middle East trip part of the story.  I also think Liza could have been left out of the movie.  That whole scene was a bit much. 

Overall, if you are true fan, I think you will enjoy the movie.  I will probably rent it and watch it again when it comes out on DVD, but not likely to buy it.  My husband tolerated the first movie, but doubt I could get him to watch much of this one.  So, once it is out on DVD, it would be a good girls-night-in flick. Make sure you are watching it in HD for the amazing colors and scenery!  Also, this is not for young eyes.  There is nudity and sex scenes.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My New Favorite Brownies

After having a bonfire over the weekend with some friends, I had some left-over smore ingredients.  When I saw this recipe on Picky Palate, I just HAD to try them.  Picky Palate is one of my favorite food blogs so rather than reposting the recipe or retaking the photos, I am just going to send you over there to find the recipe.  Click HERE to see all the yummy details.  This recipe is so super easy that I think the kids and I had it in the oven in less than 10 minutes. The brownies are TO-DIE-FOR! This could be the end of my summer slim-down!  They are a little messy if you try to eat them before they are totally cooled down.  I also recommend a tall glass of cold milk to go along with them. Thanks to Picky Palate for sharing this awesome recipe with our family!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Some Summer Romance

I recently won a prize package from Simply Stacie that was full of books.  All of them are romance novels and will be great for those summer beach/deck reads.  Thanks to Hachette Book Group for offering this giveaway and sending me these great books!

Knight of Passion by Margaret Mallory
Still the One by Robin Wells
Montana Destiny by R.C. Ryan
Ravished by a Highlander by Paula Quinn
Desire Me by Robyn DeHart
To Surrender to a Rogue by Cara Elliott

All of these books were published in 2010 and are available in your local bookstore or online.  Thanks again to Simply Stacie for this awesome prize package.  Simply Stacie is a blog that offers numerous giveaways and reviews on books and other items.

The links above will take you to Amazon where I may receive a small commission if you purchase the book. Thanks for supporting 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


After struggling for a few months with pain and stiffness in my hand I went to the Dr.  I had blood work and x-rays and nothing seemed to be wrong, yet the pain and stiffness continued especially in my middle and ring fingers on my right hand.  Since I am right-handed, the pain I had was nearly constant and I would frequently wake up in the middle of the night with pain in stiffness in my hand.

Finally, yesterday I went to a hand specialist and everything I had been experiencing was validated.  I was starting to feel like my symptoms were in my head, but finally, I have some answers and a diagnosis.

The Dr noted some slight Osteoarthritis  in my right hand on both the middle and ring fingers.  Huh....the same ones with the pain.  Then after discussing all my symptoms and problems and feeling around and noting my pain, my second diagnosis was Trigger Finger.  Clicking on the words will take you to informational pages on WebMD to learn more.  As much as I didn't want to hear this type of diagnosis, I am happy to know that this is manageable.  The main treatment for these conditions is rest, heat therapy, and regular doses of pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium to reduce the inflamation.  If these methods do not work, the next step would be a steroid injection (which I want to avoid, if possible).  Now, resting my right hand and fingers will be difficult.  In fact, typing on the computer can cause pain in my fingers.  So, even though I won't be able to rest my hand entirely, I am taking care not to put added pressure on my hands and resting them when I can.

If you are having symptoms of swelling, stiffness, or pain in any of your joints (knee, hip, feet, hands, back) take note of your pain and symptoms and when they are occuring.  If the symptoms don't go away after a couple months, you may want to see your physician.  Even though it took me a little bit to get to my diagnosis, I know what I am dealing with and how to manage it.  I may not see or feel relief for awhile, but as long as I continue to follow the dr's orders, I should see results eventually.  Hopefully, the osteoarthritis doesn't progress any further, though I know it is possible.  As my doctor kept telling me...."I'm still young!"  That was certainly nice to hear!

Only you (or a family member if you are unable to) can be your best advocate when it comes to your health.  If you don't get the answers you need, keep asking, get a second opinion, a third opinion, until you are satisfied.  You only have this life to live on this earth.  Make the best of it!