Last month, I participated in “foodie pen pals” for the first time.  You can read all about my first month here.  I enjoyed it so much that I decided to participate again for April.

This month, I sent a box of goodies to Alison over at Crafty Bake Oven.

In return, I received this box of goodies from Jessica over at  Opened Earth.


The chocolate chip cookies were amazing.  I don’t usually care for “hard” cookies, but these we so flavorful and tasty.  I enjoyed dipping them in milk.  I even shared some with my husband.

Everyone enjoyed the peanut butter too.  The white chocolate flavor really spruced up PP&J sandwiches over the last week or so.  The kids and I have been enjoying snacking on the other items, too.  But the peanut butter and cookies are definitely our favorites!

I’ve enjoyed these couple of months participating in the Foodie Penpals.  I’m going to be taking May and June off since my schedule is way to crazy, but I’ll be back.

Meanwhile, if you want to participate….

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 May, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

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

 Posted by at 4:08 PM

Hi, everyone! This weekend’s adventure with Nick and Sally was to the Great Lakes Science Center, where they took me (their dad) to see all the neat stuff.

Great Lakes Science Center main entrance

I was excited to go. Though I have been to GLSC for various events, I have never really been in the galleries to see the permanent exhibits. Even better, part of the museum has been redone as the NASA Glenn Research Center’s visitor’s center, after budget cuts forced the closure of the original visitor’s center. I have fond memories of numerous school trips to NASA and was looking forward to seeing it again after a few decades away.

Imagine my excitement when, as soon as we walked in the door, I saw a real Apollo capsule on display. This one carried a crew to Skylab, the US’s first space station. Nick has been very much into rockets and space ships lately. I wasn’t sure he understood at first, but he got excited once he had a look inside and saw the seats and controls. Later, he told Lyn, “I saw a real space ship!”

Nick and Sally take a look at the Skylab 3 Apollo capsule

Nick and Sally tolerated a trip into the biomedical engineering section, to humor their Daddy who has worked in that field for some years. They enjoyed it more than they expected. Nick liked working controls to move a dummy’s arm (the exhibit was about using electronics to move paralyzed limbs), and Sally liked playing with a giant DNA model.

Next, we visited the play area on the third floor. Nick enjoyed fixing a play car they had. Sally preferred to drive it.


Uh oh, it looks like Sally needs to make some repairs, too…

On the way out, we passed through the electricity exhibit. Nick asked recently how traffic lights work, so he took a few minutes to investigate.

After too many detours to count, we finally made it out of the exhibit hall and into the main entryway. I breathed a sigh of relief — at this age, lunch and naps are very important things. Suddenly Nick exclaimed, “Daddy, I can see the stairs!” I looked around, seeing an escalator, but no stairs. Eventually I saw what both children had already seen. This escalator had a glass side to show the steps circulating back down to the bottom. The escalator held their attention for longer than many of the exhibits.

Finally, we made it back to our car. The outing was deemed a success by all. We will be returning. We have plenty of museum left to explore.


Once a month, I go out to dinner with my mom friends.  We call it Mom’s Night Out.  We have 7 of us that try to get together.  Between us we have 16 kids.  We’ve been getting together since Nick was just 4 months old.  Usually, we pick a restaurant and enjoy a hot meal without interruptions from kids.  We also usually splurge on a glass a wine and/or dessert.

When I saw a blurb about the 2012 Best of the East Party, it looked like fun.  For $20, we received entry to the party, a glass of wine (or two non-alcoholic drinks), an opportunity to taste different foods, etc.  Each attendee would also get a ballot to vote for their favorites.

We all decided it would be fun and different.  On Thursday, we met up for the party at Landerhaven.  We were greeted by a gourmet coffee bar.  Inside, there were tons of people enjoying conversation, music and eats.


We spotted Mitchell’s Ice Cream right away, but decided we should wait until we enjoyed some real food first.  There was also a fun baker from Brugger’s Bagels.


The live band was quite good and it was fun to watch the teeny boppers become groupies.  The JCC was one of the finalists for the fitness category, so there were plenty of familiar faces around the party.  I especially enjoyed getting a photo with Lyle.  For those of you who read regularly, Lyle is the person who taught the lifeguard class.  He’s in charge of the pool and we encourage each other in workouts regularly.


When we first arrived, we weren’t sure if we would get enough to eat to feel like we had dinner.  After just a few minutes, we were sure that we’d be able to eat as much or little as we wanted.  The party was well done and I’d definitely attend again in the future.


A few weeks back, I mentioned that I was reading books about swim workouts and drills.  My friend Lyle offered to help in this area.  He’s wanting to get in the pool more and I want to figure out some workouts/drills.  It was a perfect combination.

My partner in crime had another commitment yesterday, so Lyle and I made plans to meet at the pool.  He had sent me the workout earlier in the week.  I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into.

When I showed up, he had the workout printed and laminated.    It was great!

Warm Up

  • 4 lengths flutter kick with kickboard


  • 4 Lengths Front Crawl
    • 2 Lengths with paddles
    • 2 Lengths without paddles
  • 4 Lengths Front Crawl
    • 2 Lengths with buoys
    • 2 Lengths with buoys and paddles
  • 4 Lengths Breaststroke

Cool Down

  • 4 Lengths Flutter Kick
    • 2 Lengths Front
    • 2 Lengths Back

So, the workout was basically a 100 yard warm up, 300 yards of drills, and 100 yards of cool down for a total of 500 yard swim.  I really enjoyed having a workout set up like this.  Usually, swimming laps is boring and hard to keep track of.  Because we were switching things up so much, it was easy to know when we were done with each part.

I didn’t know what paddles were.  I really enjoyed using them.  You can really feel the difference in stroke power and resistance with them.  I can’t wait to order my own pair.  I had used a pull buoy before, but only a few times.  It forces you to engage your buttocks while you use just your arms to move through the water.

My worst hundred yards was the breaststroke.  I still am not proficient.  I need to keep practicing.

I definitely got a great workout.  It took just over 30 minutes and that included a bit of instruction and chatting along the way.  Today, I found myself tired, but not really sore.  It’s a good feeling.

Lyle’s going to create another workout for next week.  I can’t wait.

 Posted by at 5:13 PM

It’s week 14 of the Fresh Fork CSA winter subscription.  It’s hard to believe that the summer season starts on June 6th.  I also read this week that local strawberries are about 4 weeks out.  It seems crazy that we’ll have strawberries before the CSA starts.

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

  • 1 package chicken brats
  • 4 oz. feta cheese
  • 1/2 lb. mixed salad greens
  • 1/4 lb. ramps
  • 1 lb. fresh ramp pasta
  • 1 bag/bunch of kale or chard, depending on what the farmers harvest
  • 1 quart yogurt
  • 1 quarter peck Fuji apples
  • 2 lbs. butter, salted or unsalted

Here’s a group shot:


We’ll put the chicken brats in the freezer.  They will make a good meal one day this week.  I’ll use the Swiss chard to make a quick side dish.


We’ll use the feta cheese and mixed greens in salads.


Last time, we used the ramps in meatloaf that worked pretty well.  I’m thinking of putting them into ham loaf or a frittata.  I think the ramp pasta will go well with the leftover sauce from yesterday’s dinner.


I bought some apples yesterday to tie us over until today’s pickup.  We love putting them in our oatmeal.  We still have some butter frozen that I’ve been using up.  Since I’d like to rotate my stock, I’ll be freezing this butter.  We chose the unsalted butter.  I can’t remember the last time I used salted butter.


Getting yogurt in the bag just means I buy less extra ones. It’s always welcome. I wish it came in a gallon size. The big restaurant size is something like a 3 gallon container and it won’t fit in our fridge.  So, we got one in our package this week and I purchased 3 extra.


The bag this week is great, but I’m looking forward to more photogenic produce.  I miss the weeks were we had so many colors of the rainbow.


Sally still needs a nap everyday.  Most days, we make sure to be home in the afternoon and she usually sleeps for 2-3 hours without any fuss.  If she’s not home, all bets for a nap are off.

Nick still needs a nap 2-3 times a week, but hardly ever takes one.  Usually, Stephen can get him to nap on the weekends.  During the week, he is already planning his “nap time” project as we head upstairs after lunch.  He’s also the little negotiator…. wanting a timer set for just 1 minute or sometimes 4 minutes.  He doesn’t quite understand time yet.  Most of the time, I spend nap time trying to keep him quiet so Sally can sleep.

Today, I enjoyed quiet time.  Last week, my friend asked me if I wanted to do babysitter swapping.  I answered with a resounding YES!  Today, we tried it for the first time.  I gave up Sally’s nap, but it was totally worth it.

I dropped the kids off a little after 1PM and picked them up a little after 4PM.  3 hours of quiet and I didn’t waste any of it sleeping.  I was able to run a couple of quick errands, clean up and do a bit of paperwork.  The best part was having some quiet time to myself.

Friday afternoon, I’m taking my friend’s little ones.  I’m glad our kids like to play together and I hope our schedules can mesh to continue this for a while.

I’m already thinking about my quiet time for next week.  Maybe a bicycle ride will be in order.  I’d love to get some miles in this year.


I’m in the process of becoming a staff member so I can lifeguard at the JCC.  A couple of weeks ago, I filled out all of my paperwork.  It’s been so long since I started a job, I forgot how much information everyone wants.  I updated my resume and provided all of the completed forms.

Today, I met with another staff person to get fingerprinted.  It was a cool process as I didn’t even need to get my fingers dirty with ink.  Technology has come a long way since I was fingerprinted for volunteering some years ago.  Today, my drivers license was scanned and then I pressed down on a little pad that read my fingerprints.  The computer told us if they were done properly or not.  It took us about 8 tries, but in the end we were successful in submitting them.

Next, I was off to get my drug test done.  I wasn’t sure how that was going to go with two kids in tow.  We arrived at the clinic office and we were the only ones there.  One of the staff people chatted with Nick and Sally while the other one took care of me.  It worked out well since I couldn’t take anyone in the room with me.

Hopefully, I’ll get my orientation for lifeguarding within the next week or so.  I’ll be put on the sub list and maybe pick up a regular shift as well.  I’m hoping that I’ll enjoy it.

 Posted by at 10:17 PM

Yesterday, it was a cold and dreary day, but we headed to the Cleveland Zoo for EarthFest anyway.  We had just been to the zoo about a week before, but I was excited to see the Earth Day exhibits.  We arrived just before 10AM and I was extra glad we were early.  It started to get crowded fast.  When we went into the first building of exhibitors, we said hi to Trevor and Robert from Fresh Fork.  They had a prime stop!.  We continued through the building and took a minute to look at the bee exhibit.  I really want to start bee keeping, but I really don’t know anything about it.  I have a friend with some land who says I can keep bees, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten on the subject.  Sally liked the bees the best of everything she saw yesterday.


The kids also liked the street displays that talked about storm drainage.  We were also entertained by some music.


There were several farms and CSAs represented and many had tables inside this hoop house.  I loved the logo for this year’s Earth Day.  But, I resisted the urge to buy a $15 t-shirt.


Bicycles can be pretty handy vehicles.  I’d do more errands by bicycle, but I haven’t figured out how to pull both kids yet.  Maybe things will change over the next couple of years.  I once met a couple who moved their whole apartment using a bicycle and trailer set up.


For some reason, I am also fascinated by chicken tractors.  I don’t think we are allowed to have chickens in our city, but it’s probably a good thing.


I spent some time going through other buildings of exhibits.  Nick and Sally spent time with Stephen and saw the elephants.  After a cold picnic, we bought some local whole wheat flour and headed to the Rain Forest.  By 2PM, everyone was exhausted and naps were in order so we headed home.

Everyone had a good time and we’d definitely attend EarthFest again.


Yesterday, Nick and Sally participated in the monthly Caring Cubs event that was held at Whole Foods.  Our family had never heard of the Caring Cubs organization, but I read somewhere that there was an event at Whole Foods that was going to focus on healthy eating and be age appropriate for younger kids.

I registered the kids and was happy that Stephen could attend with us.  Kelly gave us a brief introduction about Caring Cubs.  In a nutshell, it’s a volunteer run organization to help younger kids learn about volunteering and service.  There’s an event once a month.

Yesterday’s event had about 20 kids in attendance.  As the “service” part of the event, we were asked to bring canned food items for a local center.

After Kelly’s introduction, Lisa from Whole Foods welcomed us.  We then divided up and headed on a store tour that included stops at 5 different stations.

The first station we visited had two parts.  The first part was a match the item to the correct food group.  After that, Kara shared about eating the colors of the rainbow and the kids enjoyed a snack of carrots, berries, grapes, peppers and more.

Next up, we headed to produce.  We heard about asparagus and its colors.  We also learned about tropical fruits.  Everyone enjoyed a tangerine.


The third stop was celery painting.  Sally and Nick were very familiar with this technique since we had just used it on napkins with fabric paint a couple of weeks ago.


Everyone had a great time painting!


Sally LOVEs cheese.  She was super excited to make cheese and pretzel people.  Both Nick and Sally loved eating them when they were finished.  I can’t wait to make these for lunch one day this summer when we are visiting with my niece and nephew.


Here’s a close up of a finished cheese guy.  Our last stop was an activity for drawing what was on a healthy plate.  Our kids were good at saying what was healthy, but not quite of drawing age.

cheese guyIMG_0356

After visiting each station, there were refreshments back at our starting place.  We had a good time and would definitely check out some of the other events for Caring Cubs.


Yesterday, the kids and I headed to the J for our typical Friday morning.  Instead of heading home for lunch around noon, we headed to The Green Dream.  I was looking forward to checking out the expo that started at 1PM.  But, I had read that 6 of Cleveland’s food trucks were going to be open for business starting at noon.

The kids and I checked out our options and dined in the mobile food court area.


We ended up with a BBQ sandwich, water, mac n cheese and a cupcake to share.  I loved the recycled tables and centerpieces.


Once we ate, we headed inside to check out the exhibitors.  As we entered, we saw this tower of recycle materials.  As consumers, we sure create a ton of waste.  My favorite new item was the Essentially Organic Vending Machine.  Apparently, they have machines in over 70 places in the Cleveland area.  The machine included many healthy snack options like squeezable apple sauce, milk, nuts, etc.  My kids would eat anything this machine offered.


We made a stop to say hi to our Fresh Fork CSA.  I think the display looked particularly good.  Fresh Fork was featured on Good Company yesterday, so they were having a really busy day.


Since it was nap time, I took a stroller for Sally.  She hasn’t ridden in one in a long time.  I don’t think she fits very well.  But, despite staying awake, she didn’t want to get up and walk around.  Nick had fun spinning wheels for prizes.


The green smoothies from Cleveland Clinic were also a hit.  I’m hoping to procure a Vita Mix soon so we can make them at home.  Our regular blender just doesn’t do the trick.  After we were done checking out the outside exhibits, we visited the East Coast truck for ice cream.  Sally made a huge mess and I was glad I had a clean shirt for her in the car.


We went back inside to say bye to Fresh Fork and ran into the shark and sea horse from the Greater Cleveland aquarium.  They turned out to be Nick and Sally’s most favorite part of the day.


I had never been to the expo before, but found it to be well run.  We’d probably go again next year – especially if the food trucks come back!

 Posted by at 5:36 PM