My Favorite Things This Week 6/24-6/28

Summer is really in full swing in our household. We are going to the pool, kids are enjoying camps, bedtime is later and no alarm clocks.  A few things that I love about the summer is that I can wear less makeup, read more books and the new  summer TV shows.

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Thanks to being outside more often my skin gets a great summery glow. I do always wear SPF on my face. In my birch box this month I got a mineral powder. I have never used one. I normally just dabbed some press powder on my oily spots. Well, one swipe of this magical powder by Youngblood helps control the oiliness on your skin throughout the day. It seriously makes my fresh look so fresh. For everyday I just swipe some of this on, a little mascara and lip gloss and I’m good (Thanks mom for great skin genes!). You can also apply more on your face throughout the day to freshen your look. I have also used it when I am going out and have more make up on and it looks great I love it! To find out more about this great product click here.

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I am only on page 50 of this book and I am recommending it to the world. This is a must read for all teachers and parents. Especially for parents who have a special needs child. Kristine Barnett candidly and thoughtfully shares how her family has dealt with what God has put in their path. She is a pillar of strength and I cannot wait to read the rest! Click here to read more about this book.

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Under The Dome is a new 13 episode series produced by Steven Spielberg and Stephen King. It is based under Stephen King’s book of the same name. I have always enjoyed made for tv shows of his books. Who can ever forget It, (click here if you want to refresh your memory). I first like that it’s 13 episodes. Ever since Lost I have been weary of these types of shows, because I don’t want to invest that amount of time again in that kind of “high maintenance” (you miss an episode you missed so much or you watch an episode and you are more confused than before) type of show. The basic premise is that a small New England town all of a sudden gets shut out from the outside world in a dome force field. This invisible force field showed up out of nowhere, hurting those in its path and encasing those inside it’s parameters. The first episode was really good. It introduced the characters which are now going to have to decide how they are going to survive this situation. There was one subplot I could do without, but other than that this show holds promise for me. The daily beast has a good review. Click here to read, but beware it has spoilers. Click here to view the trailer.

I am going to try to make this a weekly post. Mention a new things that grab my fancy during the week. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Weekend of Organization

This week we decided to buy our older son a bigger desk and give his old desk to our younger son. For some reason this decision unleashed an organizational beast inside of me. I thought I was only going to go through the boys school and crafts supplies to see what we could reduce. Well, not only did I do that, but I also organized our pantry, kitchen drawers, playroom, our youngest’s closet, and my side of the master closet.  I was proud of myself, because these burst of organization usually result in the purchases of new bins and drawers, etc. I only bought some baskets (that were 50% off at Hobby Lobby) and some of the fabric cubes. I repurposed a lot of our old stuff, putting it in other places.

One long sought-after accomplishment was organizing all the recipes from magazines I had cut out over the years. I got rid of a lot of recipes. I went in with a realistic mindset, and only kept the ones that I thought our family would enjoy and were not too complicated to make.  By the time my organizing rampage was over, I accumulated 10 bags/boxes to consign, 2 bags to give away, and 4 trash bags. I normally do go through things routinely, but this was out of the ordinary. It was almost like an out-of-body experience!

I wish I had taken “before” pictures. I didn’t realize I was going to blog about this, so apologies. Here are the end results of this weekend’s labor:

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I bought all those baskets for under $50. It really helped with making more space and hiding all those loose small items. It’s not shown in the picture, but this freed up half a shelf on the bottom!

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This kitchen drawer was a hot mess. It’s not as organized I was wanted, but it is better.

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My new recipe binder! The only thing I have left to do is add dividers. I organized them, by drinks, appetizer, sides, pasta, seafood, chicken, pork, beef and desserts.

We have a nice big bonus room upstairs. Until now it has been solely a playroom. WIth the boys getting older and my younger one preferring to play in his room, I decided to make it a den. I consolidated the playroom to one half of the room. I hope this will encourage my younger one to play more upstairs. We got rid of ALOT of unused toys.

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Playroom side

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Den side (our next step is to get posters of our favorite bands).

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This is the guest bedroom closet. I re-used the Ikea book shelve (that we have had for 12 years and 5 moves). I was able to put the inflatable beds on the top shelve and moved the towels there. Also, give guests another place to put personal items. Moving the inflatable beds to the top shelf opened up a lot of space.

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This our younger son’s closet. I re-used the second Ikea bookshelf here. Before he had plastic drawers that were to the playroom. This looks better because it opens up some space, and I was able to put a lot of space-taking items on the floor. Extra space for books is also good, since we have so many of them.

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The boys’ new home offices. The first picture is my older son’s. We found this desk at Staples. It works perfect for his needs and for his room. The second picture is my younger son’s desk (that used to be his big brother’s). We put it in the kitchen, because it didn’t fit in his room. Both boys have been enjoying their respective new spaces this weekend.

I can sufficiently say that I will not be organizing for a while. It is just a great feeling though! Do you ever get bitten by the organizational bug? If yes, what area in your home do you usually re-organize the most? I find myself organizing the boy’s room and playroom the most.

Hope you all have a great week! Those on the East Coast stay warm during this cold snap we are going to have. xoxo

 

Remember Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark?

Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark and More Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark both are retold by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammel. They were some of my favorite books when I was a kid. I totally forgot about these great anthologies of scary folklore tales until my older son recently asked me to tell him scary story.  I told him the story called “The Hook.” You might remember that one;  two teenagers riding around in the night, they stopped to park (I made it PG and in the book I believe it’s PG too), and on the radio they heard a news announcement stating that a hook handed inmate had escaped from the local prison. The reporter said to be careful and stay vigilant. Once the teenagers heard the report, the girl got scared and wanted to go home, but her boyfriend insisted they stay and “talk”. While they were “listening to music” they heard a scratching sound outside. They got freaked out and decided to go home. When the boyfriend dropped off his girlfriend at her house he screamed when he went to open the car door for her, because there was a hook in the keyhole!  An oldie but a goody right?!

There are some great scary stories in both these books. Who can forget “High Beams,” “The Girl Who Stood on a Grave” or “The Babysitter?” These were the stories we told at sleepovers and camp outs.  I was happy to find that both books had new editions. They were re-released for their 30th Anniversary. I bought them for my 4th grader. I was around his age when I started reading them, and he has really enjoyed them. If a story is too scary, he stops reading it. I find it nice that he is enjoying something I liked so much when I was his age. The new books have the same stories, but the illustrations (they are by Brett Helquist, the illustrator of “The Series of Unfortunate Events”) are different.

I volunteer at my 4th grader school library once a week. I help re-shelve books. When I was there this week I notice that the first book (original edition) was in the re-shelve cart. It made me happy to know that this book is still being read. It made me even happier when a 3rd grader asked me if I knew of any scary story books. I just handed her the book and said, “Try this one.” As the book passed from my hand to hers. I thought, “I really hope this doesn’t give you nightmares kid.”

If you want to buy your own click here. Or go to this website which has some of the stories.  If you are a parent and want to introduce this to your kids please use your judgement  I wouldn’t be reading this to my 5 year old, but my 9 year old seems to be enjoying them. He also doesn’t scare too easily.

What are some of your favorite stories or urban legends?  Have a great weekend! xoxo

Pete the Cat the Grooviest Feline Around

For our 10 year wedding anniversary a couple years ago, my husband and I took a kid free trip to New Orleans.  We stayed in the French Quarter near Jackson Square. On our walk to and from our hotel we would pass by the Robin’s Gallery in the window they had these vibrant colorful paintings of a blue cat. They also had some really cool looking kids books about this so-called Pete the Cat.

Unfortunately, the day we set aside to pop in and look around and buy a kids book for our youngest son, they were closed. When we came home I frantically searched the internet to find out more about this feline named Pete.

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An artist named James Dean saved a black cat from the shelter. He named him Pete. He would sit on his lap while he painted. He sometimes drank James’ coffee when he wasn’t looking.  His first sketch of Pete was him drinking coffee. He decided to paint him blue, because he thought black was bad luck. If you click here you can explore all the Pete the Cat art. We have two Pete print’s in our home. My favorite are Pete with the masters series.

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We really got to know Pete through his children’s books. James Dean collaborated with writer Eric Litwin and the Pete the Cat books were born. My little guy just loves Pete the Cat. He has all 3 books mesmerized. What is great is that they are so interactive,colorful and fun. Pete also has such a great out look on life. Whatever happens to him he just, “Keeps walking along singing his song, because it is all good!” The books are geared toward more of the younger ages I would say 2-6. Click here to get a copy of your own. Now that school is coming back in session I highly recommend this one.

 

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Here are some fun sing along Pete songs that you can jam around the house with your kids or even by yourself I won’t judge. I hope you all enjoy  your Wednesday! xoxo

Gone Girl and Rainy Day Brownies

One thing that I like about the summer months is that I find I read a lot more. I just finished the book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I started this book on Sunday afternoon and finished it Tuesday early evening. This book was riveting. I couldn’t put it down. I even took it to the gym (something I never do) and read it while I was on the elliptical (a machine I rarely do, but I figure it was reading friendly). It was very well written and the story just takes these crazy twists and turns. Gillian Flynn is a great story-teller. I urge all of you to put this on your MUST reads. This is a great book for a book club.  Click here to get your own copy. I was lucky to get it from the library, but it is totally worth buying.

Do you find that you read more in the summer? What are some good books that you have read lately?

My younger son (older son is visiting grandparents) and I had plans to go to the pool today, but unfortunately it rained. I had to figure something to do that was out of our ordinary routine. I decided we would make brownies from scratch. My son was thrilled. He has recently taken an interest in helping me in the kitchen. I looked on the internet and settled on this recipe. I am not that big into baking, because I usually eat whatever I make in record time. My philosophy is the sooner it is out of my life the better. One thing I have learned when baking with a younger helper is to get everything out first.

This was a really easy recipe. The mixer does all the work.

My helper was a great batter smoother.

After waiting for the baking and cooling time the end result was delish!

The only thing missing was a scoop of ice-cream and a drizzle of caramel. My young helper was very satisfied. I don’t think he missed the pool.

What are some rainy day activities that you do?

Hope you all are having a great week! xoxo

A Scary Story and A Smoothie

I love scary movies. I am talking about a good old fashion ghost story not the new gore movies we now qualify as a scary movie.  I totally believe that things happen sometimes that we can’t explain. If invited evil can lurk in the corners and there are certain things that should just be left a lone. I still get mad at little Reagan for playing with the ouija board.

In the August 3, 2012 issue of Entertainment Weekly, I found myself  fascinated by the “Little Box of Horrors” article by Clark Collis. Truthfully, instead of fascinated I should say extremely terrified. I had to put it down a few times because it freaked me out so much.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a link to the article, but I will share the basic premise. A man becomes in possession of a wine box that has now become to be known as the dibbuk box (yiddish for a restless spirit that finds refuge in another being). He acquired the box  and the contents inside 2 locks of hair, small granite statue with the word shalom in Hebrew engraved on it and a cast iron candle sticks in an estate sale of a Jewish woman who was a concentration camp survivor. In the sellers note it said that this woman acquired the box from Spain after she had escaped the camp. When the woman immigrated to the US she brought it along and claimed it housed a “dibbuk.” The family of the woman was very happy to be getting rid of the box. The dibbuk box exchanges many hands. Every owner of  the box has the same laundry list of things happen to them. Illness falls upon them, they start seeing shadows in their house, they all have the same recurring dream of a horrible decrepit hag and some have tragedy occur in their lives. The current owner had enough of what this box was doing to him, so he decided to dig a little deeper in the history of the box. He found the family of the original owner. Apparently the original owner had tried to trap a spirit to help the Jews fight against the Nazis, but instead of catching a good Nazi kicking-ass spirit she caught an evil spirit. The family believes that many of the disasters of the second half of the 20th century were the work of this evil spirit, because the original owner could not contain it until she imprisoned it in the wine box.

Having had enough with what the box was doing to him, the current owner performed a “cleansing ceremony” on it. He also placed the box in a container made of acacia wood and gold leaf. These are the same materials that make up the Ark of the Covenant. From then on the current owner’s health got better.  The box is currently housed in an unknown location.  The current owner has written a book about his whole experience. It is called The Dibbuk Box by Jason Haxton. Click here to buy it. I’m thinking I will be reading this in October.

The new Sam Raimi movie The Possession (being released on August 31, 2012). Is loosely based on the story of the dibbuk box. No need to yell at me I didn’t spoil anything. They made up a fictional story, the dibbuk box is the thing that is messed with that brings in an evil force to the lives of a family.

Sam Raimi was asked if anything weird happen on set (even though the real dibbuk box was offered for the shoot no one wanted to be the caretaker). Apparently, five days after wrap, the prop storage house burned down to the ground and the fire department could not find the cause. Are you freaked out yet?

What are some of your favorite scary stories or movies?

I made this chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie from the inspiration of my good friend’s daily breakfast. I call it the Auntie Kris.

1) Put about 6-8 of ice-cubes in blender 2) Put the banana in cut up in about 3-4 pieces 3) add scoop of chocolate protein powder 4) add a tablespoon of peanut butter 5) add a tablespoon of chia seeds 6) Finally, add a splash of water and blend

This is a great smoothie after or before a long rigorous workout. It is protein packed! If you drink it before make sure to drink a bit ahead of your workout. I drank it today 30 min before my back to back TRX and cross fit work out.

I hope you all have a great weekend xoxo!

A Movie, A Book and A Smoothie….

During the summertime, our TV viewing is cut down dramatically due to the summer hiatus of most of our weekly network shows. We take this time to catch up on our movie viewing. Last night we watched Friends with Kids. 

It is produced, written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt. She is best remembered for the movie Kissing Jessica Stein, and she is also John Hamm’s (swoon) girlfriend. The cast is one of the best ensemble seen all year. Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott are the leads. It has four Bridemaid’s alums, Kristen Wigg, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd (the sexy Irish Cop) and John Hamm (swoon).  Edward Burns and Megan Fox round out the rest of the cast.

The writing is funny and witty. It also takes a frank look at how life does change when you have children. As a parent of young kids I could totally relate to a lot of the dialogue. I really enjoyed how all the characters played off one another. This is the first time I have seen Adam Scott in a lead role and I think he was great! He and Jessica Westfeldt had very good chemistry. Maya Rudolph is a comic genius! Can that women do anything wrong? John Hamm (swoon) has one pretty great scene. Can that man do anything wrong?

The set decor was AMAZING! I loved, loved, loved looking at the interior design of all the characters home. I fell in love with this wall abacus. I believe it is from CB2, but they are currently not selling it. Wouldn’t it look great in a play room or home office?

Here is an Entertainment Weekly behind the scenes article about movie from March. If you see this movie in the Red Box this weekend get it. You will be in for a treat!

What are some good movies on DVD you have seen lately?

The book I finished this week was Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein. I picked this book up at the library a couple weeks ago. I was looking for the latest Jennifer Weiner book, when I stumbled upon a pink covered book. Honestly, the cover made me pick it up. It is so pretty!

 I didn’t know who Wendy Wasserstein was until I read the jacket cover. She is a Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning playwright. This was her first and unfortunately last novel. She died from lymphoma shortly before the book’s release. Elements of Style is a social comedy about the lives of the NYC social elite in a post 9/11 world. I thought the characters in the book were great. I definitely grew to love some of then and dislike one in particular. The characters experience some highs and with that of course comes the inevitable lows.  The descriptions of their houses and parties are really well done. Click here for the goodreads summary.  This book is perfect for the pool or beach!

What are some good books you all have read this summer?

I made a new smoothie this morning chocolate banana with chia seeds. From now on I am going to drink it after a hard work out. The additional protien in the chia seeds would be great for muscle recovery. This is the first time I have eaten chia seeds. It gave the smoothie a nice crunch. Here are some of the benefits of consuming chia seeds. I am not jumping on any bandwagon. I am going to consume the package I bought and then make my own conclusion. I will let you know if I see or feel any difference in my body.

This is how I made my smoothie: 1) Added 10-12 cubes of ice in blender, 2) Scoop of chocolate protein in blender, 3) Added banana pieces in blender, 4) Added tablespoon of chia seeds, 5) Added 1/2 cup of water BLEND and ENJOY!

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!! xoxo