Friday, July 31, 2015

My Top Seven Favorite Summer Salads (that’s a salad a day!)

When the days are longer and the weather is hot, there is nothing more refreshing than a lovely salad for dinner.  Add a fresh baked crusty, chewy loaf of Italian, Tuscan or Ciabatta bread, spread with real butter, and you’ve got yourself one delicious meal.  Here are my seven favorite Summer Salads:

1.            shrimp, onion, celery, parsley, mayo, served in a homegrown, juicy, red tomato resting on a green lettuce leaf.

2.            grilled chicken with cranberries and almonds, mayo, served either on a bed of lettuce or a fresh bakery bun

3.            spinach with strawberries, slivered almonds, thinly sliced red onion and strawberry/poppy seed vinaigrette.  I’ve also tossed in mandarin oranges on occasion.

4.            ground beef, seasoned and browned, chopped onion, diced tomatoes, sliced black olives, topped with ranch dressing and Fresh Gourmet Santa Fe Style Tortilla Strips. 

5.            broccoli, chopped red onion, cooked, crumbled bacon, raisins tossed with mayo, sugar and vinegar.  I first tasted this salad when my children were preteens and Mrs. Folino brought it to a baseball picnic.  Delicious!

6.  red grapes, green grapes, cream cheese, sour cream, brown sugar, vanilla, cheddar cheese, walnut or almond pieces or granola. This recipe was introduced to me last Christmas when I purchased a cookbook put out by a Church and sold by a co-worker.  I made this for my Annual Ornament Exchange and then again for my Christmas luncheon.  Because the grapes were rather pricey here in December, this turned out to be one expensive salad, but it was oh, so worth it!

7.  potatoes, cooked and diced, chopped onion, hard-cooked eggs, diced, real mayo, salt, pepper, paprika.  Toss it all in a bowl and chill.  Though truth be told, I like my potato salad hot, too.

Do you have a favorite salad????

Peace and happiness!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Looking Forward To . . . (or What We Have Planned For This Weekend)

This upcoming weekend is going to be a busy one!!!  Saturday, we will be moving Joey (my eldest) into a cute, little house on a corner lot and surrounded by the prettiest yard.  He will either become a gardener or have to hire one.

We were on our Day Out With Thomas adventure when Joey found the house.  He was so excited and sent these pics: 
The house has a deck and there is a shed on the grounds.  It's very private this time of year, with all that green.  Joey, like my other two, possesses a green, green thumb.  He's already staked out an area for the garden.

Kayla has an eye appointment to pick up her new contacts.  She's been wearing the temps [only four hours a day] and she's doing very well.  I'm glad because I think she has the most amazing eyes. Besides, she is so into make-up these days, contacts will be better.

We will be going to the Dependable Drive In Theater Saturday evening.  Not sure yet what we will be seeing.

Sunday, it's my office-hosted day at Kennywood Park.  It's going to be in the 90s temp wise, think I need to go buy a pair of shorts.  That fit.

What will YOU be doing this weekend???

Peace and happiness!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Weekend Revisited

We got the hot weather we’ve been asking for this weekend! WHEW! And it was a hot one.  Until this past weekend, here in Pittsburgh, we’ve had more than our share of rain.  Our garden, the neighbors’ and a few friends’ are experiencing less veggies this year, root rot and mildew. 
First time on the Merry Go Round.  Yes, that's Dino Crunch on his shirt.
However, as I said, this weekend was HOT.  Friday night, the kids met me at the bus stop (I took the B and got off at Frick Park).  We pretty much had ice cream cones for dinner and took Elliot to the park.  He was dynamite and we had a really good time, leaving at dusk.

Saturday, Mom came over early and we headed on out to the Mills to do a little shopping at Sam’s Club, lunch at Sonic and more shopping at Giant Eagle.  At Sam’s Club, I bought enough meat for two week’s worth of meals. At Giant Eagle, I bought side dishes and such.  I’ve a little meal planning to do and that little task will be taken care of.

Why don't they ever go up the ladder?
That evening, Kayla and Elliot and I packed a cooler and loaded folding chairs, pillows, diapers, and wipes into the car and headed on out to the Dependable Drive-In.  We sat under the stars (it turned out to be a gorgeous evening, not too hot) and watched Minions and Inside Out on the big screen.  Elliot stayed awake for both features. 

What could he be thinking????
Sunday, Mom came over for breakfast and I made omelets, which Elliot surprised me and ate (I had added mushrooms and chopped onions).  Then Mom went home and K, E and I went to Kohl’s to buy three short outfits for E (he is growing TOO fast) and a few items for K.  Next up is contacts for K and fall shoes for E.

Back home, E took a nap, I did laundry, K tried to dye her hair two shades of purple.  Silly girl.  It was too hot to cook so we just threw some crab into a Caesar Salad.  Showers all around, True Detective on the tube, deep sigh.  This was a GOOD, GOOD weekend.

How was yours??

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Our Day Out With Thomas the Train.

The Travelers

Originally, it was to be just myself, Kayla and Elliot traveling to Strasburg, PA to spend a Day Out with Thomas the Train.  However, the day before my 1997 Toyota Corolla got a flat tire.  My sweet Momma went into panic mode and we attempted to rent a car (this is SO NOT a good idea to do on a Saturday, the cars have all been rented out).  Joey filled the tire and put fix-a-flat in it (been good ever since), but my Mom was not going to let us drive (it’s 4+ hours) in that car.  She came with us.  (Secretly, I had been waiting for her to agree to come with us, no pressure, but I get lost super easy, and besides, she drives better than me).

The Good Traveler

We were a bit worried about how Elliot would be sitting endless hours in the car. HE WAS EXCEPTIONAL!!! What a traveler.  Right off the bat it was like he knew we were going someplace special.  He was so happy and excited.  Not a tear or whine, NOT AT ALL.  I am so proud of this little guy. 

Where we stayed

In a CABOOSE!  I think that was mine and Kayla’s favorite.  Staying in a caboose converted to a “motel” room.  We stayed at The Red Caboose Motel and Restaurant.  Turned out to be an excellent choice as the Strasburg Railroad was about a 5 minute drive, we could actually see the station and the trains.  In fact, the trains rode past us all day and we sat at the tracks and waved at the passengers.  There is a big barn and a few animals that you could feed and pet (except for the pigs). They had a llama, roosters and chickens, goats, and horses.  And play areas for the kiddies.  The main building houses registration, a small store/gift shop with a game area.  There is a dining car (for real!) and it serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We ate breakfast there one morning and ordered dinner both nights to take back to our room.

Our Room!!!!

We had tickets for three train rides.  We rode Percy first and Thomas at 11:00 a.m. Elliot had a little meltdown when we sat him in front of Percy for a photo shoot (sadly, no photo).  Let me tell you, it was a VERY HOT day.  We never made the third train.  We bought new trains and track attachments and headed back for the coolness of our room.  THOUGH, first, we stopped at an Amish home to shop (gotta shop!).  I got a lovely apron and tissue holder and Mom got a gorgeous table runner.  Kayla was delighted with the scented soaps and got a few for herself.
Thomas the Train
Riding the Train
Eating snow cones to cool off
National Toy Train Museum

Later, in the afternoon, Kayla, Elliot and myself walked over to the National Toy Train Museum.  It’s was a stone’s throw from our room.  Elliot loved this place, running from display to display, pushing the little buttons to make the trains go. It was cool, not too big, or crowded and the train displays were fantastic.  We went around the rooms a few times.  They have a gift shop in front – I headed for the clearance table and we got Elliot his own travel bag – with the train motif, of course.

Homeward Bound

Tuesday morning, we loaded the car, got on the road, stopped at a Cracker Barrel for a fulfilling breakfast and headed on home.  It was a fabulous mini-trip and I am so grateful my Mom came along. And for Elliot, though he probably won’t remember much (except in pictures), it’s another memory made.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Weekend Revisited and TWO FIRSTS!

What a fabulous weekend we had! Nothing special, a little shopping, a little cleaning, lots of playtime.  And two firsts for Elliot!  The first, he learned to blow bubbles!  Here he is with a bubble he blew on his own.  There were tons more after that.  

He was SO pleased!

The second is his new found "obsession" for the game Candyland.  We watched Brendan and Jake Saturday and they helped teach Elliot how to play.  Since then, we've played it about five times so far.  What a great game for learning colors.  And he now knows them.  Although, he is a bit impatient waiting his turn, he did real well and even won once.

Now that I'm caught up with Project Life, I plan to keep it that way.  Here is last week's layout (I'm using the Project Life App for iphone).

Pots and pans have a new use as instruments.
Jade at Sandcastle.
Mission page for July (using the Get to Work Book) complete.
Play time at B&N.
Making Rice Krispies treats.
My favorite - Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha
Elliot's new truck, Chuck (from The Adventures of Chuck and Friends) - it talks, plays games and whirls across the floor.

That was our week, how was yours??

Friday, July 10, 2015

Five for Friday – a few favorites of the week

1. Using the Get To Work Book.
2. Being caught up with Project Life.

3. Working on Our Day Out With Thomas photo book.

4. Finding the beauty in every day.

5. Looking forward to making Bouchons Au Thon from this book.

And how was your week?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Looking Forward To . . . and a Project Life Update

We don't have much planned for this upcoming weekend . . . so far.  Sunday is Amanda's birthday.  I will take her out later in the week for dinner and shopping.

Last weekend, Mom and I cleaned the kitchen and two bathrooms and I did loads upon loads of laundry.  This weekend, I would like to work on more of the clutter and VA donations in what will soon be the family room (Joey moves out at the end of this month).  I have at least six bags from the cellar to put out for trash.  And I'll do loads and loads of laundry.

If it rains, maybe we'll go to the museum.  If the sun is shining, we'll go to the zoo.

I'm FINALLY caught up on my Project Life-keeping.  Which is silly cause I'm using the Project Life App and creating the layouts with the iPhone.  I should never be behind!  Not to bore anymore than I have, I am only regaling you with the first pages.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


I know most of these have aired on regular T.V., but I've watched the complete series of each on Netflix.  Here are my current top seven fave (in no particular order) to date.  

1. Shameless (UK version). I loved this series, all eleven seasons.  Crude, rude, hilarious.  It was a guilty pleasure.
Frank Gallagher (David Threlfall), excellent as the beer guzzling father single-handedly
raising seven children in Manchester, England.
2. The KillingFour Seasons. American version of the Danish TV series, Forbrydelsen (The Crime). In season One, the detectives investigate the murder of a local teenager. The remaining season and each season thereafter addresses the investigation, how the murder affects the victim’s family and the detectives’ own issues. 

3. Orange is the New Black. Now in its third season. When Piper Chapman’s past suddenly catches up to her, she is sentenced to a minimum-security women's prison. The supporting cast is brilliant. My fave is Kate Mulgrew (loved her as Mary Ryan in Ryan’s Hope (I KNOW! I am aging myself yet again). She is still as feisty as ever.

4. Doc Martin. I've watched all six seasons and just learned that the seventh will air soon. Hooray! This is a just-for-fun watch. It is a British comedy-drama about a socially challenged surgeon with a phobia to blood working in the lovely town of Cornwall. Doc Martin is played by Martin Clunes (phenomenal) and the supporting cast are just LOVELY!

5.  Rescue Me.  I know this originally aired on regular tv, however, I did not get hooked on it until it was on Netflix.  I actually got my Mom hooked, too.  Loved this series! Loved Dennis Leary as Tommy Gavin.  I loved the camaraderie when the guys were sitting around the meal table in the firehouse – it was like they weren’t even acting. Loved it!

6. The Returned (French version/Subtitles).  Even though this version is in French, none of which I can speak or decipher, I still enjoyed “reading” Season 1 and am looking forward to the next.  It’s about a handful of villagers who have died, who initially do not know they are dead, and that time has passed, but have returned to their homes.   

7. Arrested Development.  Loved every single episode of this 4 Season sitcom.  Gut wrenching laughter.  The Bluth family is one funny bunch.  Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi, Tony Hale, Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter – brilliant!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

July's Mission Page

To date, I am loving the Get To Work Book.  I am inspired by it!  The size is perfect! I carry it in my very colorful, paisley print laptop bag my Mom gave me one Christmas.  (The humor here is I don't have a laptop, the Work Book is it).  I've decided to use the Work Book daily, as a planner/memory keeper/goal keeper.  

The first thing I did was set to creating a Mission (or Vision) Page for July. Back in May, I wrote a post about how Bronwyn  (of The Artful Life blog) began each month creating a monthly vision board.  (You can see her lovely pages here.) I loved this idea and knew right away I wanted to do something like it. 
I used stickers from October Afternoon's 9 to 5 Collection.  My current favorite pen is a Uni Ball Signo (207 series) and Paper Mate Intro Highlighters. I like the way the page turned out, but more than that, I'm inspired to GET TO WORK!  It's going to be a very productive month!

Did you get THE WORK BOOK???  How are YOU using it?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Recipe Revival - Biscuit Doughnuts

Back around 1966, the Flintstones aired on Friday evenings.  The cartoon was then sponsored by Welch’s.  This was a highlight of our week.  Dressed in p.j.s, my sister, brother and I would gather around the television and follow along with the antics of Fred and Barney.  My Mom would set to making us a bedtime snack and the one I remember most were the biscuit doughnuts.  Yep, doughnuts made from refrigerator biscuits.  She would use a biscuit cutter to cut out the center and then drop the dough in a pan of hot oil.  When golden, she would roll them in granulated sugar and we would eat them up as fast as she could make them. 
My doughnut helper, Jake
I watch two of my grandsons every other Saturday and I always try to come up with an easy project we can do together.  Once recent Saturday, I enlisted their help in making biscuit doughnuts.  We used tiny alphabet and heart cutters to cut out the centers. Kayla didn’t want them rolled in sugar so she made frosting. They were melt in your mouth good. 


1 can biscuit dough (8 count)
Heavy frying pan
Biscuit cutter or small cookie cutters
Granulated Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Cinnamon mixed with sugar, Frosting – YOUR choice.

Pour oil (I used one cup) in heavy pan and heat until hot.  Cut a hole (or design) in each biscuit.  Carefully drop biscuits in hot oil and fry until golden (both sides). 

Place on layers of paper towels, cool slightly and then coat each doughnut with granulated sugar or powdered sugar or cinnamon mixed with sugar, or frosting.  Enjoy!


Friday, July 3, 2015

WHEN IT RAINS: A List of Things to do When it’s too Wet to go Outside.

Here in Pittsburgh, we’ve had lots of rain, especially on the weekends.  Here is a list of what we’ve done on those rainy days.

1.  Get cozy on the couch, grab some soft blankets, cuddle and read a book.  I am currently reading A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, author of the blog Orangette.

2.  Or have a movie marathon.  We just had one on a recent, very rainy Sunday.  We watched The Judge, with Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall (loved it!); Non-Stop with Liam Neeson, and Home (for Elliot).

3.  Work on a project – crochet, knit, cross-stitch, scrapbook.  I am currently crocheting a sweater and snowflakes.

4.  Work on a jigsaw puzzle.  We keep a spare cardboard table just for jigsaw puzzles. 

5.   Take a nap.  Nuff’ said.

6.  Bake something yummy.  Like, cupcakes, banana bread, cookies.  Get the whole family involved.  Elliot is good at breaking eggs into the bowl (you gotta pick out a few shells).  Smell the goodness, laugh, talk.  It’s a wonderful moment.

7.  Play a board game. Currently, the game of Clue is number one in this household.

8.  Have a DIY spa day.  Kayla and I love these impromptu moments when we decide to have a spa day.  They are rarely planned.  We do our nails (fingers and toes). Soak, moisturize, polish.  We do facials.  We deep condition our hair.  We talk, laugh, sing, dance.

9.  Make soup.  Like Tomato, and serve with toasted cheese sandwiches.

10.  Spend countless hours on the floor playing Thomasthe Train with Elliot, or building sculptures and garages for his cars with Legos.

11.  This one is contradictory to the list, BUT it’s been a family favorite for a long as I can remember.  Go for a run in the rain.  Just a week or so ago when Amanda’s boys were over and it began raining, I challenged them to a race in the rain.  We got drenched, laughed, jumped in puddles, they climbed the hillside, a memory made, it was great!

What are your favorite things to do when it rains?

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Watching:   True Detective, Season 2.  The second episode was a mind blower.  Looking forward to the next.  Orange is the New Black, Season 3.  Not sure if I like it as much as the first two seasons.  I’m on the sixth episode, so time will tell.  Sex in the City, Season 4. Kayla and I are watching this together.  It’s our secret indulgence.  I think I watch this just for the fashions.  I’d love to have Charlotte’s wardrobe.

Eating:  Peanut butter toast.  For breakfast, for bedtime snack.  With hot tea.  And banana drizzled with honey.  We just brought back a jar of honey from Lancaster County on our recent road trip.  Have had it on vanilla ice cream. In hot tea. On bananas.  Sooo good.

Drinking:   Hot tea, diet pepsi (or coke), white chocolate mochas (Starbucks).

Playing:   Covet on my iphone.  Kayla and I compare fashions and discuss wins every evening. 

Looking Forward to:   This upcoming three day weekend.  Maybe the drive-in. Definitely, lots of cooking (and eating) for the 4th, board games, dessert at Jayme’s, fireworks at Monroeville Mall.

Reading: A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg.

Enjoying: planning how to use, and decorating my own personal Get To Work Book.