Sunday, May 30, 2010

These Shoes Were Made for Walking...All Over Epcot

My Crocs didn't let me down on our first day at Walt Disney World.

We walked from one side of the park to the other in the morning and then went back for more in the evening - with a little swimming in between. Throughout all of it, my trusty Crocs stayed on my feet (except during Soarin') and my feet are none worse for the wear tonight.

Instead of writing all about the adventures my family (3 sisters, 3 bros-in-law & 4 nephews) and I had today, I thought I'd let the photos do the talking.


And this one sums up being in a park with 4 crazy boys...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 2 in My Life with a Spray Tan

Just thought I'd give an update on the day after the spray tan.

I currently have a nice glow.

I continued to get a bit darker as the day went by.

I am not neon orange...thank goodness!

I know now I'm a Level 2 gal.

But I won't forget to slather on the sunscreen when we head to Disney later this week.

Now if packing for the trip was as easy as the spray tan.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Coke + A Crockpot = Delicious!

Blessed with Grace

I lost my Crockpot.

I'm not sure where it went.

Maybe it ran away to a house where it might actually get used regularly.

Maybe it's just hiding in a cabinet behind the 3 boxes of Ritz crackers and 8 cans of green beans!

Wherever it is, I wish it well.

I used this as an opportunity to upgrade! My excuse for not using my Crockpot more often was that I normally work 8 to 10 hours a day during the week. So with an hour commute each way, I can be away from home for 10-12 hours at a time. With a Crockpot with just low and high settings, I always worried that I would overcook food.

So, I went with a programmable Crockpot. My new best friend has four settings (4 & 6 hours on High and 8 & 10 hours on Low) and then automatically shifts to Warm for up to 6 hours!

So here's the finished product from my test run:

I had a beef round roast in the freezer from my dad, so I have NO idea how big it was. It was wrapped in white butcher's paper and I know where and how it was raised (mostly grass-fed but enjoyed a bucket of corn every day) so I don't really care that they don't include the pounds! I thawed it in the fridge overnight.

So I unboxed my new bestie and added one of those cool "slow cooker liners" because another reason I don't use the Crockpot more often is the clean up. Yuck!

Then, I cut up some red potatoes, threw in some baby carrots (had some large carrots but couldn't find the peeler at 5:30 a.m.) and added the roast.

Now it gets kind of weird. My sister and a coworker swears that a can of Coke and a package of onion soup mix is all you need to make a yummy roast. They are both good cooks so I went with it!

With the Coke poured and onion soup sprinkled, I  put the lid on, set the Crockpot on Low for 8 hours, and was out the door.

I came home 10+ hours later to a tender (flaked apart with a fork), flavorful, home-cooked meal with little mess to clean up!

I think my new best friend and I have a long future together!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Where There's Fire, There's S'mores!

Mom called this morning and said "Your dad wants to burn the brush pile so we are going to roast hot dogs." I replied, "What time?"

Because with my family, where there's fire - there's s'mores!

While we normally enjoy a bonfire once the sun goes down, with Daylight Savings Time that's not until after 9 p.m. this time of year and it was Sunday which means a school night for the little ones and a work night for the older ones, so we started earlier today.

BTW, I'm not complaining about the longer evenings because this means I can usually get a walk in after work even if I work late!

This was a special bonfire. It was our first at the log cabin my dad is building. My dad had always wanted a pond so a couple of years ago, he had one built. Then he wanted a log cabin, so he and a neighbor (who's a master builder) are building one. It always amazes me the breadth of skills my dad possesses! I guess that's a farmer for you!

He also roasts a mean hot dog...

and a great marshmellow!

There's an art to making a perfect s'more. The chocolate to marshmellow to graham cracker ratio has to be just right. Today we used the small snack size Hershey milk chocolate bars and had to ration them so we wouldn't run out. Soooo, our s'mores were a little light on the chocolate.

But they were still enjoyed, especially by some of my nephews.

While others just wanted the marshmellows.

Time at the cabin also means Gator time. No, we don't have alligators in central Indiana. I'm talking about a John Deere Gator - something else my dad had to get once he got his pond and started on his cabin. It's more fun getting from the farm to the cabin in the Gator than it is in the truck!

Tonight my nephews pretended they were the A-Team and the Gator was their van. (My brother-in-law enjoys introducing them to old TV series!)

I was told that I couldn't be B.A. (aka Mr. T). I guess the lack of gold chains and mohawk disqualified me - that and I was a GIRL. But they did let me be the girl in the show, you know the one that stayed in the van.

After a while, pretending to drive wasn't enough so Grandma took them on a ride.
I can't wait for many more evenings at the cabin this summer. It's a time for family. It's a time to be outside. It's a time for fun. His smile says it all...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Hopping Great Time

I attended the Dillsboro Homecoming in Dearborn County, Indiana (about an hour's drive west of Cincinnati according to the town's website) to help make a presentation for work.

Indiana farmers hosted a sweepstakes offering Hoosier shoppers a year's worth of free groceries and one of the grand prize winners lives near Dillsboro! The organizers of the Homecoming were gracious enough to allow us to present the winner with her prize on the stage during the opening ceremonies. We went after the national anthem and before the frog jumping heard right - frog jumping contest!

I've been to many small town festivals in my life. All of them have great food, many of them have a carnival, but this was my first frog jumping contest!

One of the farmers there told me that he hadn't had to catch a frog since his children were young but some neighbor girls wanted to enter the contest so he caught a couple but had "forgotten how hard they were to catch."

Before the frog jumping contest got underway, there was a Best Dressed Frog Competition! Here are some of my favorites:

This one was wearing a rabbit outfit and was named Houdini!

This one had a wrestling theme...

This one played to the hometown crowd with a re-creation of the Homecoming...

They even had a "parade of frogs" so the crowd could get a closer look - and there was a crowd.
I think the Homecoming Frog took first place.
Then it was on to the Frog Jumping Contest. I'm not sure of the rules, but I believe they allowed the frog 3 hops and measured those. Rumor has it that the record frog jump is 19 feet.

Storm clouds were rolling in so we grabbed an ice cream cone (Twist, of course) and left before the winner was announced. However, I did manage to grab a couple of shots!

Just another example of why I love living in middle America!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Books & a Movie: A Near Perfect Evening

One of my BFFs (Going Jane) came to visit me this week, which is a rare but awesome occurrence. After cooking for her the night before (check out my last blog post), we went out to dinner with Brat (aka Frugalista Farm Life) at Rock Bottom and made a meal from their $5 appetizers - I highly recommend their pretzels and spicy cheesy spinach dip!

Then we hit the used bookstore! If you LOVE to read - like my friends and I do - then you MUST seek out the used bookstore(s) in your area.

I'm lucky to be close to not one, but two, Half Price Books locations (HPB) and I visit them frequently. It's much more fun to go with friends who share my love of reading and such was the case this week.

As you can see, I hit the jackpot! First, I found a copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Going Jane was quite jealous because she just bought her copy at full-price! I love, love, love The Pioneer Woman's blog and had been wanting to get her book for a while now.

I'm headed on vacation in a couple of weeks so I needed some good "by the pool" reads. My co-worker, LH, loaned me a copy of The Help and I'm excited to read it after two fellow bloggers (3 kids and lots of pigs and Alarm Clock Wars) said they had read and enjoyed it.

I also picked up The Prince of Nantucket because I lived just off Cape Cod for a year working for cranberry growers (I'll talk more about that another time) and usually enjoy novels set in that area, as well as The Letters because I enjoy Luanne Rice novels.  

As you can see I also grabbed a copy of Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts. I'm a HUGE Nora Roberts fan and actually already have bought, read and loaned out the first three books in her Bride Quartet (and I desperately want to pre-order the final installment). This copy is for my BFF Bathtub Mama who is looking for her own set after reading my copies! I have found her the first two at HPB. If you like Nora Roberts' earlier romance novels - then you'll love this series. They are an entertaining, easy, enjoyable read.

I also picked up some of romance novels from authors I enjoy reading - including Sandra Brown, Sara Orwig and Maureen Child. These are what I like to read when I just want to turn off my brain and relax. No deep storylines here, but I enjoy them!

The best part of the trip to HPB...notification of their upcoming Memorial Day sale! Nothing better than 20 percent off books already at half-price or less!

As if the shopping trip wasn't enough, we also stopped by the Red Box (don't you love them?) and rented a couple of movies even though it was a work night! We settled on watching Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges.

Usually I'm leery about movies that critics like and that win awards - I'm not always impressed, but both Going Jane and I are country music fans (she more than I) so it was a good choice. It didn't hurt that Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell (oh, he's so bad that he's so good) were in it too.

The movie was good, the company even better, so it was a great end to a great evening.

The Girl Creative

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Favorite Chicken Dish!

I admit, I don't cook that often and I almost NEVER cook a full meal.

It's not that I CAN'T cook. I just live alone and it seems like a lot of work (and a lot of clean up) for just one person. Also, I come from a family of 6 so when I do cook I seem to have to eat it for lunch and supper for days!

A few years ago, one of my best friends - Jennifer - shared a recipe for a quick and easy chicken dish with me that has become a favorite of not only mine, but also my family.

Combine it with my favorite side dish - roasted red potatoes - and some green beans from a can (I am not a vegetable snob. I use canned and frozen veggies a lot b/c when I buy fresh I sometimes don't get them used before they go bad. Though I do rejoice when I get fresh veggies from the garden - not my own but I know people.) and ta-da... you have the meal I made tonight for my good friend Jane who's staying with me tonight.

I'm VERY proud that I made dinner for her because I have the reputation that when you come to stay at my house, you will eat out for breakfast, lunch AND supper!

First, the chicken! It's really called Club Chicken because you are supposed to use Club Crackers, but I use whatever I have on hand and today it was Ritz Crackers.


1 c. crushed crackers (half sleeve of Ritz crackers)
1 package Italian dressing mix
Chicken Breasts (I prefer chicken tenderloins)
3 T. melted margarine (I use BUTTER)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix crackers and dressing mix in a plastic bag.

Shake chicken in cracker mix and put in dish (I spray mine with some cooking spray).

Pour melted butter on chicken.
Bake for 45 minutes.

Next for the Roasted Red Potatoes! This is an adaptation of a recipe from my sister Beth. The original calls for dried rosemary, but I use Italian or Ranch dressing mix - or whatever I have on hand.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can make enough for one or 100 (OK, that may be an exaggeration) - just cut up as many potatoes as you like.

Dump them in a bowl. Add the seasoning and drizzle oil over the potatoes. Cover the bowl - I use a plate - and shake!! (I normally start singing "Shake, shake, shake, shake your booty" - that may explain why I'm still single.)

Spread them on a cookie sheet. Pop them in the oven at 375 degrees. I usually turn them after about 20 minutes and then put them back in until they are at the desired crispiness (usually another 20 minutes).

And that's my quick-and-easy meal that almost never fails! My friend Jane gave it's a thumbs up tonight (the warm brownies afterwards were a hit too).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm SO Undeserving of This Award: The Versatile Blogger

After being without my wireless card for 4 days (I abandoned it in the back of a mini-van after a long car trip back from Fort Wayne on Friday after watching a deserving woman win a year's worth of free groceries from Indiana farmers!), I was quite surprised to find out that I got my first blogging award!
My gal pal over at Going Jane presented me with the Versatile Blogger award. "Less than 3" you, Janey-Jane.

So here are the "rules" of the award:
  1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award on to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
  4. Contact the bloggers you've picked at let them know about the award.

Thanks my friend, Going Jane. I laughed OUT LOUD when I read the line in your Bathtub Mama post.

7 Things About Myself
  1. My grandma passed away on Friday. She was 94 years, 352 days old and I miss her already. She and my grandpa showed me and my sisters unconditional love every day of our lives. We were the smartest, most beautiful, most talented babies, girls, young women and women in their eyes. I know she's in heaven with my grandpa right now in the middle of a wicked Euchre game with their friends!
  2. I just ate a half bag of cotton candy and it was delicious!
  3. I'm addicted to peppermint mochas from Starbucks. With my rewards card, I get free syrup and use it as an excuse to get one daily b/c look at all the money I'm saving!
  4. I work with farmers every day and feel truly blessed that I can combine my two loves - communications & agriculture - in my career.
  5. I have the world's cutest, smartest, funniest nephews. I never knew I could love 4 boys so much.
  6. I have been having trouble sleeping lately and am depending a little too much on Tylenol PM (but they are magic little pills).
  7. I recently got DIRECTV and am a little in love with my DVR. 
 15 bloggers who I have recently discovered and who I think are fantastic:
  1. Going Jane: I have always said that her life is perfect for sharing. 1) She inherited her dad's way of spinning a tale; 2) With a husband, 3 kids, sheep, horses, and a job, there is always a great story to tell; and 3) She has a wicked sense of humor. Go to her blog today and be prepared to laugh out loud and learn something new!
  2. Goodeness Gracious: She is one of the first people I know personally to start blogging. She has a great conversational writing style and her photography is wonderful!
  3. Frugalista Farm Life: I'm biased because this chick is my little sister (Brat, as I affectionately call her) but she does a great job in sharing bits and pieces of her life, as well as recipes, shopping tips and crafty ideas!
  4. Trippin' - Life with Triplets: The mother of four (a daughter and triplet boys) - need I say more?
  5. Bathtub Mama: This gal is my reading buddy, my I just need to talk to someone who understands friend. She's just getting started but I know her blog could be something special!
  6. In Good Cents: When I started getting serious about couponing and finding the best deals at my favorite stores, I stumbled across this blog. She breaks down the deals by store and has links to printable coupons!
  7. Off the Cuff and INDYpendent: To be 20-something again! This blog lets me pretend that I am that young again. She is a wonderful writer and her enthusiasm for life is second to none.
  8. Beyer Beware: The header on this blog says it all without saying a word.
  9. The Pioneer Woman: This woman needs NO award from me but she is truly the first blog I started reading on a regular basis - definitely the first blog of someone I did NOT know personally. Her way of writing is engaging, entertaining and keeps you coming back for more. And someday I'm going to win a darn mixer from her!
  10. All tenderloins, all the time: OK, I just stumbled upon this one recently while I was on the site and the name says it all. While I'm a grilled tenderloin fan myself, this blog is a wealth of information!
  11. One Man's Indy: I give props to a man willing to step up and do some blogging. Better yet he's giving insights about Indianapolis - a city that I love but don't take advantage of enough!
  12. Winners Drink Milk!: I grew up drinking a glass of milk at breakfast and another one at supper (that's what we call our evening meal) and to this day there's nothing better than a cold glass of milk and a plate of warm cookies! This blog has great information as well as recipes featuring...wait for it...dairy products. Cheese is one of my favorite foods, right up there with chocolate and bacon!
  13. Two Maids a Milking: Staying with the dairy theme, these gals are a hoot. They are also doing some great things on their dairy farm - like opening it up to the public so children and adults can have a better understanding what a farm looks like today.
  14. We all have those days when really nothing is going right and we need a pick-me-up. Next time you have one of those, visit this site. It's guaranteed to make you shake your head, laugh out loud or say "I've seen a note like that one!"
  15. FenceRow to FenceRow: I've always thought this lady has the BEST JOB EVER, but when I read her post "16 and Pregnant" I had a tear in my eye and a new respect for her.
Boy, that was harder than I thought it would be. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about me and enjoy the blogs above as much as I have. Now that my sugar buzz from the cotton candy has worn off, I think I'll be able to sleep without the Tylenol PM tonight!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Where does the time go?

I used to be so, so good about remembering birthdays, anniversaries, milestones in my loved ones lives, but not anymore. I'm either late in acknowledging the big event or forget it altogehter! I'm not sure when it happened.

Maybe it was when I hit the big 3-0.

Maybe it was when I changed jobs and my workload got bigger.

Maybe it was when I moved from using a written calendar to one on my computer/smartphone.

Wait a minute, those all happened around the same time. Mystery solved!

I did remember to get my Mother's Day cards in the mail so they'd arrive on time. Well, at least those that were going in town. I'll catch the rest of the special moms in my life next year!

This year I went the funny route with my mom's day cards for my mom and sisters. I found a great new line of Hallmark cards and they made me laugh out loud in the store so I had to get them!

First, is the one for my older sister, M. She has 3 very active boys and works 40+ hours a week. If I were her, I'd probably be in the corner, drooling on myself but she takes it all in stride! I think this card sums up my feelings perfectly.

Then for my mom, I went the route of pointing out that I'm the "good daughter" but that goes without saying!

THEN there's the one for my co-worker, LB. Well, it actually could have been for my co-workers, SL, LH and MB too - but I went with LB because I thought she needed a laugh after a couple of long weeks in and out of the office. But I made her share it with the others in the office!

Curiously, there was a bottle of wine on her desk when I put the card there on Friday. Hmm...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Just call me Miss Fix-It!

Being a farmer's daughter, I learned at an early age that my dad is handy. I guess being farmer lends itself to being able to fix about anything. He needs to be a welder, a mechanic and a candlestick maker.

Dad, aka Papaw, and G-man

OK, I got carried away on that last one, but you get my drift. He's resourceful and since he got a cell phone a couple of years ago, he is much more accessible in an emergency!

So, he's the one I turn to when the problem is as simple as gluing the head back on a favorite figurine (he's a master with the epoxy) or as devastating as dealing with my air conditioner when it went out on the hottest day of the summer (sorry for the tears, Dad).

I like to think that I've become more self-sufficient over the years because I've watched how he works to solve problems. Now I can't weld, but I can fill my own water softener, change the air filter in my car, and even hang pictures on my wall.

Like these...

Well, that last one is a lie. I bribed one of my brothers-in-law to hang the pictures.

I had to put my handiness to the test last night. One of the jewel strands on my favorite pair of black Vera Wang flats (from Kohl's) broke during my oldest nephew's First Communion mass a couple of weekends ago.

As my Goode friend over at Goodeness Gracious would say, I heart these flats.

When I saw that it broke, my first instinct was to give the shoe to my dad and demand he fix it. But I took a closer look and decided I could put it back together again. My diagnosis was that one of the jeweled pieces simply slipped out of its bracket.

First, I pulled out my trusty pliers. BTW, I got these pliers in a 12-pack at Menard's during the day after Thanksgiving sales!

I pinched, pulled and bullied the bracket but couldn't get it to stay.

Next, I grabbed the super glue from my trusty toolbox.

I learned a valuable lesson at this point. Super glue hardens, even if it's unopened, when it sits in a toolbox for more than 2 years! This just made me more determined to fix this shoe. I just had to think outside the box. I had to be crafty.

I pulled out my Diamond Glaze - an adhesive that I used a couple of years ago (no, it wasn't hardened) to make these cute photo keychains. A couple of drops of adhesive and about 30 seconds of holding it together with my trusty pliers and ta-da the shoe was good as new.

I know my dad is SO proud of me!

Or at least glad that he didn't have to fix it!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I'm messy, not a hoarder!

There's a long-standing joke in my family and it's on me.

First let me explain. I'm blessed with a great family. Two parents who have supported me in everything I've done in my life, including four moves in 10 years. Three sisters (I'm in the middle, hence the blog name) whom I'm lucky to consider friends as well as family. Three brothers-in-law who've been suckered into helping me with everything from hanging pictures to fixing my computer. And last, but not least, four of the cutest nephews in the world (and another nephew or niece on the way).

But with that close of a family comes a lot of joking, ribbing and inside jokes. It's long been known that I'm NOT the neatest person in the world! And that I'm a bargain shopper!

Exhibit A: My Kitchen Counter

In my defense, everything is organized in piles or in baskets! And that the Snack Sacks of Oreos were a $1 at the grocery store this week, so I had to stock up! However, I have to admit that there are items on that counter that have been there for quite awhile.

My grandma recently moved into a nursing home after spending 60-plus years in the farmhouse she moved into as a bride. Each grandchild had the chance to take home something from the house. I chose the Old Maid game that my sisters and I played with my grandma many a summer afternoon while my dad and grandpa were in the field or out in the barn. I really should put the box in my game closet but it makes me smile when I see the groovy disco dancer on the cover!

The Disney World tickets for the family adventure my sisters and I are embarking on later this month. After months of research and discussion, buying the tickets through was almost anti-climatic. Very simple form online and mailed within days. I have to admit that I'm afraid to put them away because I have a tendency to "put things away" and not remember where I put them!


Pages and pages torn out of magazines that are supposed to help me get organized, get in shape, make better meals and read better books. I have the best of intentions! I tear them out so I don't have the magazines laying around and I even started a binder several years ago to organize them in sections.

Well, I admit sometimes my mess gets the best of me. Last Sunday as I was putting away a couple of weeks (OK, more like a month) worth of clean laundry away, I also had the TLC show Hoarders on for background noise.

As I moved from pile to pile of clean (I stress CLEAN) clothing, hanging them up or folding them away, I watched two women struggle to even walk inside their homes. Boy if that wasn't a motivator! Just for the record, I have NO cats so no worries about finding a "missing" one under any of the piles AND my refrigerator is clean - no rotting food, I promise.

Now, I will admit that I still have a few piles of clothes here and there AND my spare bedroom is still more of a closet that it should be BUT I have made strides this weekend to get myself organized.

If I choose to cook (which I normally don't), I can now use my kitchen counter to prep.

As I put away my clothing, I also sorted out some items that I no longer wear and will offer them to some friends and coworkers whom I swap clothing with from time to time.

AND I found a box of school supplies that I scored for free during the back-to-school sales last summer. This was great timing because a coworker is heading to Africa in a couple of weeks to visit her sister who's student teaching in a village with very few (OK, I don't think any) amenities. HB (my coworker) was telling us that she's taking a bag just of school supplies and food items for the schoolchildren.

So, I pulled out...
I love when I can use my savvy shopping skills and tendency to hold onto items for good, not evil! I'm glad that in a few short weeks some African children can be practicing their ABCs and 123s with these pens and pencils!

Now, maybe I should put together this organizer that I bought months ago at Ikea (I love Ikea).
On second thought, I'll just wait for one of my brothers-in-law to come over!


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