Around Christmas, I bought several craft kids for the kids.  I think most of the kids were 50 cents or less.  Although we have lots of general craft supplies, sometimes it’s nice to open a small package and have an instant project.  This wreath kit came with enough supplies for 2 wreaths and all I needed to provide was the glue (and an old Giant Eagle ad).

Nick and Sally didn’t care that they were making Christmas wreaths in March.  They are happy as clams as long as they can play with the glue!

I tried to help Sally learn to dab the glue with a toothpick.  It didn’t work too well.  She wanted more glue than a toothpick would allow.


Nick agreed, he just wanted the whole bottle of glue to use on his project.  Both Nick and Sally had a great time and were busy for about 30 minutes.  After the wreaths were done, clean up was surprisingly easy.


I’ve already started a list of school supplies to buy at the sales this summer.  Extra glue is definitely on my list!

 Posted by at 8:34 PM

A few weeks back, I came across “foodie pen pals” while reading another blog.  I checked into it further and decided that I would participate for March.  Lindsay started this back in September and it’s grown to almost 300 participants.  In a nutshell, you are paired up with another bloggers or readers and you send a package to someone and get a package from someone else.  The packages are up to $15 worth of foodie goodies.  You make contact with your recipient to check for allergies and other special information and then you put together a box of goodies for them.

I received my box from Rebecca over at  She shared a box of her favorite go to snacks on the run.

Included in my box:


  • Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips
  • See Tangle Snacks – Korean Nori
  • Chococonut Granola Bar
  • Pumpkin-N-Spice Granola Bar
  • Blueberry Larabar
  • Blueberry Crisp Clif Bar
  • Miracle Reds Bar
  • Organic Gummy Bears
  • Honey Sticks

My kids and I have been enjoying the snacks.  So far, everything we’ve tried has been great.  The Gummys only lasted a couple of minutes after they were opened.  They are already gone in this photo.

I sent a box to Debby over at Deb’s Daily Life.  I’m excited to see what she thought of her box.

It’s been fun participating this month and I look forward to next month.


And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals.  It’s open to blog readers and bloggers, so it’s open to everyone.

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.  You can participate in just one month, every month or any other schedule you choose.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day business day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!   If you aren’t a blogger, you write a short guest post for your pen pal.  If you get paired with another reader, you just enjoy your goodies.  Either way, remember to thank the sender!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

If you’re interested in participating for April, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by April 4th as pairings will be emailed on April 5th!


We were a bit early for our pick up today.  I took the opportunity to chat with Eric, who works at the back of the truck.  I really enjoy meeting people who are passionate about local foods.  It was a bit chilly for the pick up, but at least it wasn’t raining.

Here’s what we were expecting to receive this week:

  • 1 Grassfed beef steak
  • 1 pt. concord grape jelly
  • 1 12oz piece Swiss cheese
  • 2 lbs. spelt flour
  • 3 lbs. red potatoes
  • 1 lb. spinach pasta
  • 1 bunch kale or mustard greens
  • 1 bag mixed salad greens
  • 1/4 lb. ramps

Here’s a group shot:


Grape jelly is probably my favorite flavor in the jelly/jam category.  I hope to hoard most of this for myself and use it on French toast and PP&J sandwiches.  I’m going to try and make homemade tortillas with the spelt flour.  My recipe works well with whole wheat flour, so I thought I’d try the spelt.


We’ll probably just make mashed potatoes this week.  Unless my new slicer comes in, then I might try out some microwavable potato chips.  I tossed the pasta into the freezer.  It will make for a nice quick meal when we need it this week.


I’ve never met a local, grass-fed cheese that I didn’t like.  I suspect this new Swiss will be great.  So far, Swiss is the only cheese that Sally won’t eat.  Maybe this variety will change her mind.  I think the kale will go into a casserole dish that I’m still dreaming up in my head.


The steak is frozen, so I put it in the freezer.  When we get another stretch of warm weather, we’ll grill it for dinner one night.  The winter greens aren’t my favorite, but I’m going to try to make a chopped salad out of them.  I’m not a big fan of the texture of the stems, but a chopped version in a roll up is sounding good to me.


The final item this week is ramps.  In a nutshell, ramps grow wild this time of year and are similar to a leek.  I’ll use them as an onion type of ingredient with fried potatoes or soup this week.


I bought a couple of extras this week as well.  At $5 a piece, I picked up 3 yogurts and one Krispie Treat Granola.  I can’t seem to keep the yogurt in stock at our house.  One of the Heinen’s stores near me carries it, but I like to buy it from Fresh Fork whenever possible.  These 3 containers probably won’t last until the next pick up.


I’m starting to get excited for the summer CSA.  Only 2 more months away.


On Monday, I did my regular spin class with Beth.  It was great like always.  I have several friends who take the class on a regular basis and that makes it even more fun.

On Tuesday, my friend Lyle (who also teaches the lifeguarding class), was teaching the spin class.  I’ve never seen him on the schedule to teach a class before, so I felt like I had to take the class.  So, even though it meant spinning two days in a row, I decided to give it a whirl.  He did not disappoint.  It was a GREAT class.  I’d put him in the top three instructors  (after Beth) that I’ve had for spinning at the J.  The music was great.  He also has a great voice and it was easy to listen to the workout.

Today was supposed to be my weekly swim lesson.  The pool heater is broken and the J is waiting for a part to fix it.  The pool was a few degrees cooler than normal.  All of the regular swim lessons and most of the classes were canceled for yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Private lessons were at the discretion of the instructor and student.  After conversing with Tabitha, we decided to postpone my lesson until next week.

Instead, I decided to swim a few laps.  It was nice to swim since the pool was not very crowded.  In the end, the water was cooler, but not cold.  Swimming laps uses lots of energy, so I never got cold.  I only wished I had brought a written workout to follow.  I’ve been reading up on swimming drills, but it’s hard to do an actual pool workout without a written plan.  Hopefully, after my lifeguarding class ends on Sunday, I can write out a couple of workouts and keep them in my gym bag.

Next up is my trainer workout with Jen in the morning.  It’s been an active week!

 Posted by at 8:51 PM

In December, I did a post on our home-canned inventory that included my best guess as to what our original inventory was since I didn’t track specifics as I canned last season.  Since it’s been over 3 months, I thought it was time for an update.

amount canned Dec 14 Mar 27 unit item
22 18 7 quarts pear sauce
6 0 0 quarts chopped pears
18 13 11 quarts applesauce
2 0 0 quarts chopped apples
8 7 2 pints peach jam
5 5 3 1/2 pints peach honey
28 25 8 quarts peaches
6 3 1 1/2 pints strawberry jam
9 7 6 1/2 pints strawberry vanilla
4 4 4 1/2 pints strawberry lemon butter
6 5 3 pints apple-plum sauce
9 8.5 6 gallons tomato sauce (packaged in quarts and pints)
3 2 1 pints blueberry jam


For the most part, I think we are doing a good job of using up items.  I know for sure that the canned quarts of fruit and sauces will be gone soon.  I knew when I canned them that we would never have enough.  I’m glad that everyone in the house likes it.

For the jams, I did have to trash 2 pints of peach.  A couple of the jars weren’t sealed properly during one of my cupboard checks.  I’m not sure why we haven’t tried the strawberry lemon butter.  I think that will be the next jar that gets opened.  Our jam usage is directly correlated to our stock of yogurt.  As long as we are stocked on yogurt, we use quite a bit of jam.  Occasionally, we don’t have yogurt for several days and then use less jam.  I’m guessing that we’ll use most of it up before the next season starts, especially since peanut butter and jelly season is upon us.  It’s an easy item to pack for picnics.  Nick and Sally really enjoy eating lunch outside when the weather is nice.

It seems like I have extra of the tomato sauce, but it was also the last item canned.  Tomatoes for canning won’t be available until August, so there is plenty of time to use them.  I have extra tofu in the fridge right now, so I’ll be using some in lasagna this week.

It’s been fun to watch the empty jars stack up as we enjoy our bounty from last season.  I can’t wait to start over again for this season.


Yesterday, we had a great time at Fiona’s birthday party.  Conveniently, it was at the JCC.  I was able to go after my lifeguarding class without any travel time.  Fiona’s mom always goes all out for her parties.  This one was no exception.


The tables were set in pink with princess hats for the girls and crowns for the boys.  They also had little swords and wands.  It was very cute.  The cake looked amazing!  I didn’t have a piece, but it was disappearing from all of the plates.


The kids enjoyed pizza and fruit before cake.  And, there were plenty of goodies to enjoy and take home.  A good part of the party was spent in the gym with inflatables.  There was a princess bounce house to go with the theme.


The kids loved this slide.


Sally took a ride on a tricycle.  Nick played some ball with dad.


At one point, Stephen and I were standing by the slide and Nick came over.  He had lost his glasses and was very worried and sad.  With the help of a few parents and staff members, we eventually found them.  Nick told us that he lost them in the little bounce house, but we had a hard time finding them.  Turns out, the metal had caught on some of the mesh and they were hanging inside.  We were searching under the house, mats, cracks etc.  I was glad to find them since they aren’t cheap.


Here’s a view from the track above looking down on the party.


After play time and cake, it was piñata time.  There was a pink one for girls and a blue one for the boys.  I loved the string piñata.  Each child takes a string and you don’t know which one will open the trap door for the piñata to open.  It’s so much better than getting out the bats.


The kids had a great time.  The JCC staff was great!  Thanks for sharing your birthday with us, Fiona.

IMG_9637j staff

My sister is thinking about a Lego party for my nephew’s birthday.  I got lots of ideas and inspiration at this party yesterday and spent some time on line learning about making piñatas.  I have so many ideas and so little extra time!

 Posted by at 8:32 PM

Today was the 3rd installment of my lifeguarding class.  We tackled the CPR and First Aid portion of the requirements.  We didn’t swim at all today.  I was a happy camper since I had a birthday party to attend at 2PM and I wanted to be there for as much of the party as possible.  Not swimming meant that I didn’t need to shower and get ready from scratch before the party.

When I volunteered for the Metro Parks Serving Summit County a few years back, I used to teach the basic Red Cross class.  I was amazed at how much I remembered today.  We did the standard Red Cross format of video and mannequin skill practice.

We have a pretty small class and that allowed for enough mannequins to go around, so the class moved at a pretty good pace.  A few items have changed since I was last certified, but for the most part, it’s about the same.

We also talked about the AED, its use, and checked out the trainer AED.  We ended that portion of the class with information about spill kits.

We completed all of the necessary videos and skills.  All we have left is to take the test.  All of our testing will be next week at our last class.

We have a written test for lifeguarding and another for First Aid/CPR.  Then, we’ll head to the pool for skills.  We’ll have victims to rescue and will be given different scenarios.  We will have to describe what we would do to our instructor.  We’ll each have about 3 of them to complete.

At the end of next Sunday’s class, I should be a certified lifeguard.

 Posted by at 8:34 PM

Yesterday, I happen to see the KidShow at Great Lakes Mall mentioned somewhere on the web.  I looked up a bit of information and decided it would be fun.  Today, Stephen, the kids and I headed to the mall and arrived at 10AM.  I always like to go early since the crowds aren’t as bad and our kids are at their prime.  The KidShow is basically a collection of many kid oriented vendors with tables of activities and information.  There was also a main stage with entertainment.


We went in through the main entrance and made it as far as the cars that you put money in before they wanted to stop.  We talked them into just a quick try since the cars would always be there.  We never put money in the cars.  They still have fun!  Our first official stop was the Step 2 booth.  They had a play area set up and since we arrived early, there wasn’t a crowd yet.


One of my favorite stops was for Widening World preschool.  We have other preschool plans for the kids, but this was an awesome booth.  It was inviting.  They had trucks and vehicles on the floor, recipes and literature on the tables, photos on the display boards, a tribute to Eric Carle with books and stuffed animals and a few awesome activity bins.  Nick and Sally were enjoying this one for play dough.  I picked up a recipe for homemade sidewalk chalk.  I can’t wait to make it with the kids this summer.


Many of the booths had crafts and coloring.  Here Sally is making a book mark.  As we wondered, we ran into various characters.  Nick and Sally are pictures with a rhino here.


Another favorite booth was for the local boy scouts.  They brought a display that included pinewood derby cars.  Since Stephen and I were both involved with scouts, it was fun to see Nick interested.  They picked out cars to race and eagerly watched for the finish.


The Cleveland Children’s Museum brought these blocks for the kids.  Nick and Sally had fun playing with them.  The people at the booth challenged them to go through the tunnels.  Sally went through just fine.  Then Nick decided to add a block and then try.


Surprise!  He knocked them all down.


We finished with a couple of temporary tattoos before leaving their booth.  We took a break for lunch at Subway in the food court.


After lunch, we finished with Nick’s two favorite activities.  The Great Lakes Science Center brought along a line following robot.  Nick loved it.  He would have played with it all day.



Our last stop was the Lake Captains booth where Nick and Sally had the opportunity to swing a plastic bat.


To our surprise, Nick hit the first 3 balls in a row!


We ended up staying at the KidShow for 3 hours.  We had fun and were exhausted when we left.  The show is in its 14th year and runs through Sunday, March 25th.

 Posted by at 8:50 PM

Yesterday, my partner in crime and I met up with our trainer for another fun-filled workout.  The past few weeks of working out have been some of my best.  I have been looking forward to Thursday more and more.

I’ve been thinking about what makes the workouts so great.  I love doing the group training.  It’s so much more motivational and social.  Jen is such a great trainer and has been doing a great job of pushing both of us even though we are on different levels physically.  Mostly, I think it’s about variety.  Every workout is different.  Each workout comes with exercises that are familiar, new and a combination.  It’s been wonderful!  Yesterday was no exception.

I took a walk early in the morning while Stephen was still at home.  I was tired of taking a walk at 10PM to get my step requirement so I wanted to front load my steps for the day.  When I arrived at the J, it was pretty early.  I wanted to read a book, so I did a leisurely pace on a recumbent bike while I read.  I ended up biking for about 20 minutes.

For the training session, we completed the following:

2 sets:

  • KB Swing w/ Lateral Walk 15lbx 20ft. x 4 – We’ve done plenty of kettle bell swings before (150 just last week), but we never paired it with a lateral walk.  It was a great exercise even if I had to pause every now and then to figure out what to do next.  I’d get in a rhythm of steps and swings and then I would get off a beat and have to regroup.
  • Slashers 10lbx 1 min x 2 – This was a brand new exercise.  We basically held the kettle bell upside down and did a halo around our head paired with an alternating squat to one side and then the other.  It’s a good exercise for core strength and shoulders.
  • Single Arm TricepPull 20lbx 20ea
  • Squat/Curl/Press 8lbx 20
  • T-Plank 30secea
  • Single Arm Cable Chest Press 30lbx 20ea

1 set:

  • Band Figure-8 Walk – moderate strength x 15ft.x2 – This one was a new exercise for me.  We put a resistance strap around our ankles and did a figure 8 dance in them.  It’s the type of exercise that you feel while you are doing it.
  • Bodybar Overhead Walking Lunge 6lbx 60ft(down and back)
  • Dumbbell I/Y/T/A Raises 5lbx 10ea – This was also a new exercise.  It involved laying on my front on an incline bench, holding dumbbells and then doing 4 different sets of shoulder exercises.  Of all of the exercises yesterday, I think I feel this one the most.
  • Cable Sidebends40lbx 20ea

Later in the day, I played around in the pool with Sally.  I think the water was a big help is loosening me up from all of the workout exercises.

I can’t wait to see what Jen has in store for us next week!

 Posted by at 3:01 PM

On Sunday evening, I attended a meet, tweet and greet event for bloggers at the Insight Learning and Wellness Center.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew there would be familiar faces.  We had about a dozen bloggers at the event and I had met at least 1/2 of them before.  It’s been nice to get to know some of the blogging community in person.  It’s such a great group of people.

First up, there was a selection of food and beverages.  Jody brought a selection of items from Dove Chocolate Discoveries.  The chocolate products were all great and well received.  Next up was granola samples from Twenty-4 Zen.

There was also food from Melt Bar and Grilled which was very odd.  It wasn’t healthy and didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the evening.  It was also cold.  I’m not the type to eat cold grilled cheese and fries.  I had one bite of something and decided there were better options for snacking.  I enjoyed cheese and veggies and granola along with a bottle of water.


All different wellness type professionals were present for the evening.  We heard about things like yoga, Reiki, and aromatherapy.  I even had my aura read.  I’m still not sure what to think about it.  I can see the benefit to some things like yoga and meditation, but some of the concepts are a bit much for me to comprehend.


At the end of the evening, we were given a swag bag with a few business cards, coupons and products.


We received a full size bag granola, a sample of Indu lotion, and a box of MagNoodles.  There was some kind of pasta salad made with the MagNoodles in the food area, but I never got a chance to try them out.  We eat tons of pasta at our house, so I am excited to try it out.

I learned quite a bit during the evening.  I gained exposure to new things like Reiki and Aura reading.  Most importantly, I had the opportunity to socialize with other bloggers whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the last year.


Disclosure:  I attended this event for free.  I was given a swag bag as a gift.  All opinions are my own.



 Posted by at 8:48 PM