Monday, June 30, 2008

Bread Pudding

#63 - check.

Grandma taught the littles how to make bread pudding.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

In training

John is lacing up his running shoes once again-

he's planning on running a half marathon in a couple of months.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Brace yourselves...

curb appeal~
Since the
I currently live in is too identifying to picture,
I got creative with this category...

My well worn loved Welcome mat:

My "front" door:

("Gianna! Put your shoes in your closet.")

[Accidently skipped (oops) junk drawer~

Which in my house is actually a junk basket.

On top of my microwave.]






(Not the comfiest chair in the house,

but by far the most used.)

favorite jewelry~

I was torn between this ring-

which I love for the meaning of it.

Once we were married ,

I stopped wearing my engagement ring

because you couldn't really see my wedding band.

(And I wanted the world to see it!)

And this ring:

My chocolate diamond ring

that I wear on my right hand.

My hubby got it for me for Christmas

becasue I didn't wear my engagement ring anymore.

Chocolate diamonds- need I say more ?!??

your best feature~

I love my husband's shoulders...



I'm torn between my eyes...

and my armband-

which since permanent, can count as a feature, right?

If you want to play along in this thing we call

"real life"


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I want to see

Anyone else?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Got my new camera...

I've got a lot to learn

(been playing with F-stops and shutter speeds)


Woo-Hoo, what fun!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Whew! What a week.

Monday, our family started summer vacation at 11:45am (dismissal time for the youngest still in school). Since then it has been a whirlwind of sleepovers (both at home and away) and last minute shopping trips to replace one outgrown bathing suit (that we just bought in April for our Florida trip!) and one burnt out air conditioner (the girls had tons of fun with the box!). Each girl made a list of their top ten must-dos off the master list and we spent a few hours (and almost $200) at Barnes & Nobles, stocking up for the weeks ahead. Mackenna got a haircut and Brielle dyed her hair "Hazelnut" brown. I bit the bullet and bought another new camera (my fourth one in three years) because I'm tired of looking at posts with no pictures and I really wanted to participate in this. I tried to rest in hopes of recovering in a timely fashion from the virus I contracted a few weeks back and unfortunately my MIL broke her hip last night and had to have emergency surgery. So we are heading in to our first summer weekend with visiting her and attending a fortieth birthday cookout for my cousin on our plate. Needless to say, I'm signing off. You can expect me next week with bells on (and hopefully some great pics to share!). I'll leave you with these:

The stats:

Nokomis Beach , FL

taken by Gianna

Which one do you like better- untouched or touched up with the "I'm feeling lucky" button in Picasa2. Our family is divided....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

150+ ideas for family summer fun*

* This list was originally compiled with the help of entries to my "Orange you glad it's (almost)summer" giveaway and published in June of 2008. I have edited it this year(2009)- adding a few new favorites- and linked directly to some of the more specific ideas. I hope this serves as a jumping off point for your summer fun and if you have a great idea that isn't listed here(or would like to leave a link to a great idea for summer fun)- I hope you share it in the comments section. Please remember to use common sense and LOTS of sunscreen when engaging in any and all activities this summer. Enjoy!

Here's a great presentation idea:

"Two years ago, I made a calendar that included one activity for us to do each day during the summer. The girls got to help choose what the activities would be. It was REALLY fun, but I found I needed to be flexible with rain days, etc."- Jen

Now for the list:

  1. Check for cheap or free movie showings at local theaters.
  2. Library story time for the younger kids.
  3. Join the summer reading program at your local library.
  4. Plant a small garden. (This will give the kids something to take care of and look forward to- something growing!)
  5. Or at least a few potted plants.
  6. Make a fun lunch. Everyone be in charge of a part of it (IE: dessert, drinks, etc.) and take it to the park and eat and play Frisbee.
  7. Spend a day the beach.
  8. Take some white T-shirts and decorate them outside.
  9. How about having a block party with BBQ, games, and ice cream?
  10. Take the UNplug it! challenge. (made so much easier with a handy list like this around)
  11. Slip-n-slide is always a favorite.
  12. Family bike rides.
  13. Make lemonade from lemons.
  14. Make juicy ices. (with paper cups and sticks)
  15. Go to a carnival in the evening
  16. Go to the library in the morning and then sit under a tree reading in the afternoon.
  17. Or on the porch.
  18. Or in a hammock. (you get the picture)
  19. Cook dinner on the grill. (easy clean up!)
  20. Go get an ice cream.
  21. Make your own ice cream (in a bag) or (with this).
  22. Visit a museum on a hot or rainy day.
  23. Learn something new together.
  24. Like using a sewing machine to make a doll or a doll's dress.
  25. Go bowling. (
  26. Paint on a canvas.
  27. Paint on the sidewalk or driveway with ice.
  28. Or water.
  29. Or chalk paint.
  30. Play with your food.
  31. Catch butterflies.
  32. Or fireflies.
  33. Pick berries.
  34. Make a pie or jam with said berries.
  35. Swing on swings.
  36. Have a water balloon fight.
  37. Host a teddy bear or favorite stuffed toy themed picnic.
  38. Plant cupcakes for your yard ?!!
  39. Go for a not so expensive round of miniature golf.
  40. Make snow cones. (parents- remember this?)
  41. Eat peaches.
  42. Spend some time in a hammock.
  43. Fill up the wagon with the hose.
  44. Put the baby pool at the bottom of the slide.
  45. Blow bubbles, lots and lots of bubbles.
  46. Sit under a shady tree.
  47. Watch a fireworks display.
  48. Light a sparkler.
  49. Have a bonfire.
  50. Attend an Independence Day parade.
  51. You must play in the yard with the water hose on. Make rainbows.
  52. Take an outdoor shower.
  53. Take a big, cold drink right out of the nozzle of your hose. (Personally, I'm not sure that's safe.)
  54. Swim!
  55. Build a campfire and toast s'mores.
  56. Build-a-Bear.
  57. Sleep late. (if it's feasible with a little one)
  58. Play in the sand.
  59. "Here's a fun craft. Buy inexpensive flip-flops and dress them up with fabric pieces. You start at one end and work your way to the middle, then do the other side. You take a piece of fabric about 7 inches long and 1 inch wide, fold it in half, wrap it around the strap, double tie it, and there you are! You try to get them as close together as you can. My daughter loves doing this. It's easy, fun, time-consuming, and really makes a cute pair of flip-flops in any color you'd like. Great birthday party idea, too." -Forgetfulone
  60. Feed the ducks at a pond.
  61. Have a tea party.
  62. Make these cute TO DO jars and make doing chores fun.
  63. Have a good ol' watermelon seed spitting contest.
  64. Teach your children how to bake something of Mom's or Grandma's.
  65. Make a fairy village.
  66. You "definitely have to hike to a lake and swim! I love hikes with destinations (especially when they include restaurants or bathrooms!). "- Wendy (no link provided)
  67. Go on a boat ride.
  68. Drink an iced coffee.
  69. Have a drawing contest on the sidewalk with chalk.
  70. Make home-made play dough
  71. Go to a farmer's market.
  72. Choose a new book at a local bookstore.
  73. Tint some shaving cream, spread it in a baking pan, and doodle or write words.
  74. Make strawberry freezer jam.
  75. "Plan a camping trip to a state park (not one of those Campy-McCamper places that has all the amenities including a salon and pool...) "- Jade, Will, and Illy
  76. Go on a nature hike/ photo exploration- letting your kids take pictures of cool things they find outdoors.
  77. Play a tourist in your hometown.
  78. Make homemade yogurt pops.
  79. Buy a disposable camera for your kids and let them record their favorite summertime fun.
  80. Keep a summer journal of places visited.
  81. Have a bubble gum blowing contest.
  82. Pitch a tent in the backyard and have a "camp out".
  83. Visit a local farm and pick your own veggies.
  84. Have a treasure hunt.
  85. Learn about a new place and have a meal based on that area.
  86. Have a water balloon fight.
  87. Go to the zoo.
  88. "Don't know if you have in your town or not but local theatres usually have programs or productions for kids at little or no cost. If they are at all interested, I've found that the stage is a wonderful place to learn many things including confidence, vocal training, working with others, creativity and lots more. It worked well for my son; he loves acting now and he has also reaped another reward; he is no longer petrified when called on to speak in front of the class. Oh how I remember the horrors!"- Mannequin
  89. Swim!
  90. "Learn to make jewelry together, I'm sure you know someone who could help you. ;) "- Erin
  91. Visit a local public flower garden.
  92. Eat strawberries dipped in sugar
  93. Learn to crochet.
  94. "Work on embroidery (or knit) while sitting in the grass at a park" - Mal
  95. Bask in the sun. (wearing the proper SPF, of course)
  96. Picnic with a blanket on the kitchen floor on a rainy day.
  97. "Start a summer tradition of neighborhood game night ...rotate houses with kids' games ...everyone bring a snack to share."- Julie (no link provided)
  98. Visit a water park.
  99. Or an aquarium.
  100. Make silly putty.
  101. Or slime.
  102. Star gaze.
  103. "Plan a week-long day camp with your girls. Plan traditional "camp" activities, like making potholders or other arts & crafts, going swimming, going on a nature hike, baking cookies, etc. You can come up with a cool name for your camp and even design a camp flag and song or camp pledge. This could be something you do every summer!"- pjmomof3boys
  104. Have a "Spa Day" at home - try those homemade oatmeal masks & that kind of thing. Pick a great chick flick to watch while the pedis are drying.
  105. Run through the sprinklers.
  106. Lay on a blanket, look up at the sky and try to figure out what the clouds look like (animals, etc.).
  107. Build a sandcastle.
  108. Cook dinner for your local Ronald McDonald House.
  109. Run (or walk) a race.
  110. Go to the Drive-In.
  111. Visit your local Children's Museum.
  112. Make clover chains.
  113. Wash your hair with shampoo in the summer rain.
  114. "Buy a cheap kiddie pool and sit in it while eating Popsicles. I so wish we could do this right now! My oldest broke her leg 3 weeks ago and we are counting the days down until we can! "- Cindi
  115. Play Marco Polo.
  116. Or water volleyball.
  117. "Start your own club with your kids! When I was younger we started a Dinosaur Club (could be whatever interests all of you). We did a fun activity related to the club every week. Decorated t-shirts.. made bookmarks... read books about the topic.. painted figurines... made up skits, etc. I still remember the club today - nearly 20 years later!"- Jen
  118. Plant a tree in your child's name.
  119. Make tie-dye t-shirts.
  120. Dance in the rain.
  121. Create (or maintain) a blog.
  122. "Take the 5 minute shower challenge (okay, so this may not fit in the "fun" category -lol- but it's a worthwhile cause)."- Ana
  123. Have a root beer float dessert night.
  124. Make homemade ice cream sandwiches. (If it's too hot to bake, use the chewy Chips Ahoy.) Scoop tablespoons of soft ice cream on, wrap them in wax paper, let them freeze for an hour and ENJOY!)
  125. Take swimming and/or diving lessons.
  126. Learn the Greek alphabet in less than ten minutes!
  127. Make stepping stones for your garden or yard- or to give as gifts.
  128. Make something pretty and refreshing to drink, with fun snacks in pretty bowls...enjoy.
  129. Pick out your favorite color of nail polish and sit out on the deck or patio painting toes, giggling and just being.
  130. Actively do nothing. Absolutely nothing.
  131. "My girls have the BEST time with empty boxes. I order from a diaper website and they arrive in these huge boxes and the girls go nuts! Last night they turned one into a car, and last time it was a spaceship. Ahh..the power of little imaginations! My husband and I joke that we don't need to buy toys anymore when we have boxes. :) "- Vanessa
  132. Print some pictures and decorate plain frames with odds and ends found in the house.
  133. Pack up a lunch and hit some local state parks. Hike along the trails or just relax in the cool shade of the trees.
  134. "We made cookies -actually we went to cookie store in town and got some unfrosted cookies and decorated them and took a walk and delivered them to the girls little friends in the neighborhood. They made little cards for them also. I made them run home as fast as they could so they would burn up some of the sugar!!"-Tausha
  135. Also from Tausha- "We love Popsicle stands. I know everyone does lemonade stands, but it gets warm and the kids don't want lemonade they would rather have Popsicles. So we set up a table with our cutest plastic tablecloth. the girls make a big sign Popsicle-25cents. we get out the umbrella-some chairs and the cooler with ice and of course the Popsicles. The kids from the neighborhood all come running and come back numerous times! The girls make some money and then I take them to the dollar store! They love it cause they made their own money and mom didn't give it to them. It's a great way to teach them about money and good customer service. I sit out there with my diet coke, and a book, just to make sure that everything goes OK. Even some cars stop, especially if we have workers in the neighborhood."
  136. Host a neighborhood bike wash.
  137. Rent a projector , hang a white sheet in your backyard and presto- a "drive-in" movie.
  138. Get creative with face paint.
  139. Buy some plain canvas sneakers and some colored Sharpies. Then go to town creating a custom look for your feet!
  140. Set up an Obsta-Cool Course in your backyard.
  141. Have a pillow fight.
  142. Learn to french braid.
  143. Bring a trash bag to a local park and clean up.
  144. Support a great cause with a lemonade stand.
  145. Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
  146. Turn your tub or backyard pool into the Arctic Ocean.
  147. Talk about global warming with your kids when the "icebergs" melt quickly in the heat.
  148. Adopt a Webkinz.
  149. Learn a new word. Use it.
  150. Write a letter.
  151. Or send a postcard.
  152. Play dress-up.
  153. Make (and eat!) Crash Hot Potatoes.
  154. Plan a tricked out staycation for the kids.

And last but not least, here's a summer long project idea that segues into back-to-school mode beautifully...
"All during the summer, we sew together and make crafts and then 2 weeks before school starts, we paint his bedroom, hang new curtains that we have made or picked out on a shopping spree, and decorate with the things we've made. He likes to do themes, so we have theme summers. It gives us him a fresh new look in the room before the new school year, a chance to set up his work desk and organize his clothes. He looks forward to this tradition and is more apt to keep his room clean because he had such a major part in it! Works for both of us! "- Mannequin

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

In case you didn't know- I love my husband and think he is a terrific dad (and stepdad!) every day of the year. In honor of Father's Day though I will give him specific props for things I've overheard this past week:

  1. "Come here Mackie and I'll paint your nails."
  2. "How did you do on finals today Gianna? Did you get a chance to ask your Algebra teacher about that problem you were stuck on?"
  3. "Let me see your nails Brielle- Oh! They look good."
  4. "Shaye, come read this book to me."
  5. "Who wants to go see Kung Fu Panda on Saturday so mommy can rest?"

John- you rock! I love you and I couldn't imagine our life without you. You are an amazing dad (and stepdad)-

enjoy your day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Support One Another, Please.

Those of you who visit me regularly know by now, that I am a huge supporter of ,well, everyone. I don't think there is a more important role that blogging can play in our lives than that of a support system. Sure, it's a great creative outlet and fun- but really, it has the power to change lives. I applaud the women who make beautiful things and I support them by shopping their sites before the "big" stores. I applaud the women who are funny and witty and put themselves out there to entertain us each and every day. I applaud the women who are stressed and vulnerable and trust in their blogging support system enough (or just have nowhere else to turn) to share their heartache and strife. Blogging is an opportunity for women to shed their inhibitions, be themselves and be there for each other. The women who grace my sidebars are all amazing women and make my days funnier, lighter, warmer, easier- better- with their creative ideas, kind words, funny stories and honest opinions.

From time to time I will add to that list or feature a blogger I think everyone would be the better for visiting- for whatever the reason. I hope you take a moment to visit them, comment- support one another (please).

In that spirit, I would like to introduce everyone to Sara- a creative mom, who found time in her busy schedule to teach me how to add new elements such as email subscriptions to my layout and finally get me that cute little Flavicon that I've coveted for oh-so-long and had no idea how to do on my own. Thanks Sara- you rock. *She animates siggies and buttons too- how cool is that?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Brielle!

She loves
the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series,
the color yellow,
dolphins, dogs,
and collecting things.

She is sweet and generous and kind.

One thing she is not?

My little "Brielle-ee bug" is not so little anymore.

She turns 11 today!

Happy, Happy Birthday
Brielle Elizabeth
I can only hope your birthday is as sweet as you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sweet & Salty

Friday, June 6, 2008

The story of my life- not literally.

Well, maybe a little.

It all starts with the results

of this quiz I took...

You Are Very Normal

You scored 75% normal on this quiz

You are normal in practically every way. Yes, you're average.
But average definitely doesn't boring. You just fit in well with the mainstream.

Why You Are Normal:

You prefer fiction to non fiction

You think fishnet stockings are trashy

You prefer a good meal to a good nap

If you had to, you rather live without music and still have laughter

You rather be screwed over than screw someone else over

First of all, let me clarify a few of my answers.
  1. I think fishnets are trashy- but never said that's a bad thing.
  2. I prefer a good meal and then a good nap- but that wasn't an option.
  3. Typos on these internet quizzes drive me nuts.
  4. I used think "normal" was boring- just as boring as "cute".

Which leads me to my story...

When I was twenty-five, I was a divorced, single mother of two. A Brownie troop leader by day, a waitress/bartender by night- a girl who was trying to reclaim her lost youth every other weekend, while her ex had the littles. And to hear everyone I met tell it, I was "cute". I dislike that word. Well, when it was being used to describe my feeling-older-by-the-minute 25 year old self, I did. So what did I (a 75% "normal" person) do? Apparently, what the other 25% of people would... I dyed my hair bleach blond and got a very sexy armband tattoo. It worked. For months, I was "hot". I have never gotten as much attention from strangers as I did in those few months that followed. Seriously, having lived both sides- blondes do have more fun. Guys tripped over themselves to hold doors for me at stores, buy me a drink, dance with me (well ask to at least). So why aren't I some used up party queen blogging about her lost panties? I got being a rebel out of my system by finding John. He was the guy I didn't know I was looking for. He did things like use my name when speaking to me, remember the things I had talked about the last time we were in the same company, ask me questions and listen to my answers. Normal things- I just didn't know it yet. It took a long time for me to trust in him, to trust in "normal" (and a lot of bottles of brown dye to finally get my hair back to normal as well)- but in the end, it was well worth it. I have the most extraordinary ordinary life! Thank you John, for being "normal", for believing that I was "normal" too, and for having the patience to give me the time I needed to believe it.

"God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you." -Rascal Flatts

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Before the storm...

Siesta Key Beach
May 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

This is the post I bore even me with:

I've been tagged by Tina
and Internet Secrets Investigator(try to say that fast).
So here's

7 randoM things about me:
  1. 7 is my favorite number.
  2. I love modern cottage decor.
  3. I don't really have the time or space to be creative right now, so I have been filling that void by buying beautiful, handmade things that catch my eye. And reading lots of creative blogs.
  4. I hate horror and gore movies- give me intriguing suspense movie any time. I also like drama and comedy, of course.
  5. I am Italian, love food, love to watch foodie shows, HATE cooking. Go figure.
  6. I married a man who LOVES to cook. Lucky smart me.
  7. I think I overuse the Italic option.

Birthday Bonanza

Since John Jr. and John Sr.'s birthdays fall only two days apart-
the 17th and 19th of May-
we celebrated them together in Florida, on the 18th.
Happy Birthday (Daddy)(Grandpa) John.
We Love You!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Making a splash

@ Grandpa & Nana's.