January 29, 2010

A Tour of My House...

....dollhouse that is! I got this house over 10 years ago in hopes to make it for a future little girl I'd have. Slowly I started putting the foundation together, reading 50 pages of directions, calling the company for extra pieces and help, and eventually after a few months, packing it away. Then when we moved to PA, I had the itch to have kids, and again started working on it. Each piece came unfinished, and had to be sanded and painted. I'd like to share my progress with you so far...

Look at that gorgeous roof. Each shingle was sanded, stained, cut, and glued. I can't even count the amount of hours this took me, but I am beyond proud of it, and it's my favorite part of the whole house.

The decking gave me many headaches and had me cursing like a truckdriver. Each spindle had to be just right and standing at a perfect angle for it to all come together as wonderfully as it did. The house has a wrap around porch on the first and second floor.

The exterior of the house is painted. Of course when I first painted the siding and trim, my dream was a yellow house with green accents. As I've gotten older and now live where everything is natural colors, I would probably change that, but not until the rest of the house is done.

Stay tuned for a tour of the inside of my home, where I am currently doing a popcorn ceiling in my living room, basemolding in my dining room, and I'm considering laying tile in the bathroom. A time consuming and costly hobby, but it's so great to have a beautiful finished product!

January 25, 2010

Random Things of Me

My favorite part of my US Magazine weekly subscription is the section where one celebrity tells a bunch of random, random stuff about their life. Here's some things I would put in that section if they ever call to feature me:)

1. I hate Pillsbury pop containers, freak me out.

2. I unbuckle my seatbelt on bridges, some even require a window roll down. Never can be too prepared.

3. I love to read. When I do get the chance I can do a book in two nights maximum.

4. I'm so grateful to have a strong Italian family that helps each other through big and small. I can’t imagine life without them.

5. I don't like to cook anymore. I'll bake if the mood strikes, but I could eat cereal every night for dinner and be satisfied.

6. I can't stand when my boys get wild and start running around the house screaming. But then I think how just a few months ago they didn't even interact, so I just let them have at it.

7. I would still be a judgemental loud-mouth mom if it wasn't for Alex.

8. I love perfume but it usually makes me sneeze. Bought many expensive ones over the years but still love Gap Heaven the most.

9. I wear slippers to work sometimes. shhh

10. I’ve had 14 cars in 17 years. I already know what I want next.

11. I could watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music all year long.

12. I don't like that my husband has not a cultural bone in his body. I like musicals, museums, and broadway shows. At least pretend.

13. I'm patiently waiting for my washing machine to die right now, really want a fancy new one. May have to try to break it at some point.

14. I hate people that comment about someone else's child, either under their breath or out loud. You just never know someone's situation.

15. I love of blogging. I think a whopping 10 people read it from time to time, but I really love it.

16. When I retire I want an RV and am heading West. Grand Canyon here I come.

17. I'd eat Mexican food every day if it was made for me and didn't make my fat ass fatter

18. I hate going to the movies. No matter what the flick I come out feeling like I just wasted 2 hours of my life.

19. Some days I wouldn’t be able to deal with life if I didn’t have gum. Preferable Dentyne Cool Lime.

20. PA has grown on me a bit, but if someone told me I could move to Westchester tonight without the money hassles, I'd throw all people and dog in car and get going now, leave all material items.

21. I can't imagine myself in any other profession. Teaching is where I am meant to be in life. I love seeing my students years later and they remember things I taught them. Priceless.

22. I love Guitar Hero and would play it every night if I wasn't so damn tired.

23. Chris is the smartest 6 year old I know, and I know it's not nice to brag, but have you met him?

24. I play Powerball twice a week in hopes of making my sister's life better.

25. If I cut my hair short, the next day I wish it were long. Let it grow, want it short. What the hell?

January 24, 2010

Walk a Mile in My Christmas Shoes

We are now exactly 30 days past Christmas. Is your tree down? Mine is. Decorations gone? Yup, me too. I'm sure you are already looking ahead to spring, as am I, yet I just thought I'd give an update on my Groundhog's Day life stuck in the Christmas season.

The holiday still has a very strong presence here. The santa toys are all still out, and everything is still being turned into something Christmasy(ever see tinker toys be used as a sleigh? didn't think so). But Friday, while fighting the good 6:30am-time to go to school fight, little man put on his Santa hat and backpack. No Alex, put on your winter hat. Needless to say, with 2 minutes to spare I caved in, and he wore the hat. We went into town and grabbed breakfast and headed over to school. He got many comments thrown his way, and stares. Seriously grownups, who cares what hat he's wearing? My boy is clean, healthy, and has his head covered on a cold winter morning. Am I judging you for your dirty pants and beat up car? Nope, I could care less.

So when you see someone a bit out of the ordinary(and really, who's to say what ordinary means?) just think it to yourself. I don't need your comments. Part of being a parent is to pick and choose your battles, and I can't even put something like this into the battle category. I'm sure if you dig deep enough into yourself you'll realize you are a bit quirky too. I'm the biggest loudmouth going if provoked, but even I've learned to keep comments to myself.

January 23, 2010

Nobody Gets In to See the Wizard. Not Nobody! Not No How!

My all-time favorite movie is the Wizard of Oz for many reasons. Thinking about a song line yesterday(If the Wizard is a Wizard who will serve, then I'm sure to get a brain, a heart, a home, the nerve) got me thinking...as a mommy, what is one thing I'd like to ask the Wizard for? Not so much a super power, because that's a common question, just something in general I suppose.

Know what I would choose strangely? An extra arm. I won't be greedy and ask for a set, just one will do. Can you imagine mommies, having an extra arm? Holding two babies at once AND stirring the pasta? Carrying ALL the bags of groceries in one shot? Holding hands with 2 kids while crossing the street AND your purse? Three kids, well bring it, I'm good to go with my third arm!

I've noticed I've said this both under my breath and out loud countless times in my 7 years as a mom. Someone will kindly ask if I need help in a store, and after I tell them, 'sure, if you have a margarita in your back pocket' I always end my request with asking for a third arm.

Probably completely silly for my non-multitasking, non-parenting friends, but someday most of you will think ridonkulously like this too.

So mommy friends, what would you ask for to help ease your child-filled life?

January 22, 2010

Nothin' Better Than a Good Love Song...

Thumbed through a pile of old cds today and came across one I made when my older son started really taking an interest in music. It's a pretty eclectic mix as usual, but one song in particular I've always loved, and when Chris and I heard it today we started singing. It was my best friend's wedding song, and if ever had a wedding song(that's right, never had a wedding song!) I would have chosen it too. Love the tune, love the lyrics. I hope it's in your rotation, and if not get to downloading....

Crazy Love - Van Morrison

I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles
And the heavens open every time she smiles
And when I come to her that's where I belong
Yet I'm running to her like a river's song

She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love
She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love

She's got a fine sense of humor when I'm feeling low down
And when I come to her when the sun goes down
Take away my trouble, take away my grief
Take away my heartache, in the night like a thief

Yes I need her in the daytime
Yes I need her in the night
Yes I want to throw my arms around her
Kiss her hug her kiss her hug her tight

And when I'm returning from so far away
She gives me some sweet lovin' brighten up my day
Yes it makes me righteous, yes it makes me feel whole
Yes it makes me mellow down in to my soul

January 21, 2010

Post-It Thursday

Oh boy did I stumble upon something super fun yesterday! Not even sure where I found it, but it's a little widget where you create your own little sticky notes. I made a few I thought I'd share, they are a great little addition to any blog or website:)

January 19, 2010

Me, Myself, and I

I’ve never really joined a blog network before, couldn’t really find one I enjoyed. But recently a friend linked me to The Crazy Hip Bloggers and I’m really digging it! They enjoy having members get involved with posting on certain topics, and have great advice and giveaways. So hop on over after reading here:)

This week they are linking up with the cool and trendy website Loose Lips New York, and asking bloggers to talk about a subject that some of us may find difficult….ourselves! The topic is… what is the feature you like best about yourself? Hmmm…well, I have great hair. Big hair, but it’s great. Nah, no one cares about that. Well, I have a big, funny, contagious laugh. Eh, that’s a bit common. Oooh, I’ve got it. Something I have that I wish more women in the world had. What I love most about myself….my strong sense of independence.

Growing up I spent most of my time hanging out with my dad. I love my mom to death, but my dad worked nights so it just happened that way. I sometimes was the son he never had, and had the chores to prove it. Painting, staining, sanding, car washing, lawn mowing, all common things I had to do. But with each chore, and each new task, I learned more than just how to do the job at hand. I learned how to do things for myself. How to stand on my own. How to be my own person, and be independent.

As I got older and went through boyfriends like napkins, I realized something wonderful. I don’t need a man to do anything for me. Sure, it’s nice to have one, and that’s a great thing in life to appreciate, but I certainly don’t need one. I’m a girl that can do for herself. I’m independent.

I have some girlfriends that are now married, and they don’t even know how to balance the checkbook or change a lightbulb! I can’t imagine living my life like that, always having someone else do for me what I can do for myself.

Even though I have 2 boys, I still think independence will be the most important thing I teach them in life. It will make them stronger and able to think for themselves. I can never thank my dad enough for giving this girl her independence:)

January 17, 2010

A Snowbunny I am Not.

It starts snowing here in the Poconos around Halloween. This year we've been lucky and haven't been hit too bad. But right around this time each year, I get the same feeling... Ugh, it's snowing AGAIN? You wake up each morning, try to put your best foot forward and make it a great day. Then you peek out the window, and it's all over. Good grief. I have to go shovel for the dog(her legs are too short!). Gotta bundle the kids again. Do we have a delay? These silly things flood my mind before I even get to the coffeepot. All because of stupid snow.

Then there's the realization at this time each year, that we still have about 10-11 weeks left of winter. That time is greater than or equal to the amount of time it will be until I go home for a weekend to visit family and friends. All because of the stupid snow.

I don't like to say I have the Winter Blues, but I guess I do. I want spring. I want it bad. I want to have my new Japanese Maple tree planted and enjoy sipping coffee on my rocker and looking at it. I want to take the kids to the park. I want to walk up and down Main Street in a little town I love here. I want to go to HersheyPark. I want to go home. I want the winter gone.

So here's my plea Winter. You are very pretty from inside, I'm sure you make some people happy with the skiing and fishing and stuff. But this girl needs some warm sun and a light breeze. I know you plan on sticking around a bit longer, but don't overdo it, and don't outstay your welcome:)

January 16, 2010

It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day...

Yupper, not a very useful photo to you at all I'm sure. But to me, it symbolizes so much. It's actually a picture I took at around 5am one morning in the fall. I thought of writing this post then, but got completely sidetracked. It's my favorite time of day here, and that's the best view in the house.

Silence is something that doesn't really exist when you have a house with two small boys. They hardly sleep, they are always running, and fight plenty. So some days I will purposely get up early, make coffee, and just sit on the couch. I stare out the window, and over the mountain the sun is coming up. I'd love to be on my porch enjoying the scenery, but it's too cold! So I sit wrapped in a blanket, coffee in hand, and soak in the beauty. The silence.

Days get too hectic sometimes, and it's hard to take a step back and breathe. But having that sweet little hour to myself, to regroup and ready myself to be a great mom for the day, makes all the difference. Namaste.

January 15, 2010

January and Snowing? I Don't Care!

It's time to look ahead to spring! It's only 10 or 11 weeks away and will be here before you know it. And what's the most important part of the season change? Well your wardrobe of course! I've been browsing a bit today, deciding on a few new pieces to buy and ask for on my bday. Here's one outfit I'm definitely looking to put together. Maybe not all together at once, but I still like all the pieces on their own!

The top is a strapless top with a crocheted upper part which I love. I also love the color!

Shoes of course are Michael Kors. Wanted similar ones last year but didn't get them, so this year they are a must. The jeans are those weekender/boyfriend jeans, you know, not really capris, rolled up messy look. Cute.

January 14, 2010

All You Need is a Dollar and a Dream

...of course this is the motto for the NY lottery in case you didn't know. Today when winning a whopping $5 on a scratch-off, I thought back to a post from last year about winning Powerball . I'm still here, so I haven't won yet, but I started to think yet again what would I do with some extra cash?

Well right now, the thing I'd love to do most is open my cupcake shop. And when I looked back at the Powerball post, it's on that list too! Here's my dream shop:

50s theme design, lots of white, black, and hot pink. Retro stools at the counter, great music on a full-sized jukebox, and awesome coffee brewing at all times. But here's the extra spin I'd put on it. You know how there's Coyote Ugly with the gals that dance? Well, I want something like that. I want to have my cupcake girls dishing out the cupcakes, and dancing on the hour. Heck they do it down at Ellen's Stardust Diner in NYC, so why not here in the middle of nowhere? Not only is it fun and different, but I'm sure it would be good for business!

I guess that would make me the Cupcake Mama to the Cupcakettes that work for me. I'd serve only about 10 flavors of cupcakes a day, and rotate a weekly special. No ridiculously decorated fancies, just cupcakes with frosting and perhaps a topping or two. No pie, no ice cream, no cookies. JUST CUPCAKES. And better yet? You can get an extra side of frosting if you'd like.

Yea........this girl's got some silly dreams, but I'm holding out for this one.......

January 13, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful (COFFEE) Time of the Year!

Hey, here's a wild fact you may not know about me. Brace yourselves, it's a doozy. I love coffee. No really, I LOVE coffee. I roll out of bed in the morning, slip into slippers, and head straight to the kitchen before anything else. I cannot wait to get the coffee brewing. Then by about 10am, I have a desire for more, then again after lunch, then usually by about 3 I'm tweaky again. I do have to cut myself off by 4 though, otherwise I'm bouncing my leg and up until 2am, which really isn't the most enjoyable side effect to my habit.

We mostly drink Starbucks in our house, and this week our favorite flavor of the season is back on store shelves. Casi Cielo(means almost heaven), a Guatemalan blend of rich flavors that compliments any dish or dessert. A truly beautiful tasting cup of coffee. I wait all year for it to come back to the stores, then we drink it non-stop until they harshly take it away from us for another long year.

If you love coffee, and don't mind Starbucks, grab yourself a bag of Casi Cielo while you have the chance. You won't be disappointed:) 

January 12, 2010

My Favorite App Ever - SHAZAM!!

If you're not an app person, I apologize for boring you. But if you are and haven't found the wonder of Shazam you are truly missing out! It's a simple little app that allows you to hold the phone up to any music and it will tell you the artist, song, and album. I've been using it for almost 2 years now and it's still one of my favorite things about my iPhone. Just this morning alone I Shazamed two songs!

So here's a few of my recent Shazams. Sometimes they are newer songs, sometimes just oldies that I love. The radio in the car does pick up the info, so I mostly use it to remember to download the songs or pull out the cds. In no particular order:

1. Chances by Five for Fighting
This one I just did about 10 minutes ago. Never heard the song, always liked the group a bit but never gave them a fair shot. Love the lyrics.

2. I Want You by Weezer
I'm not a Weezer fan, never was. But this song sounded different than their usual songs so it intrigues me. I like.

3. Everybody's Talkin' by Harry Nilsson
Oldie but goodie, this was more of a reminder to try to find my Forrest Gump Soundtrack lol.

4.Train in Vain by The Clash
How can you not like this one?

5. Let Me Clear My Throat by DJ Kool
Ahh, the fun days of high school/college come back listening to this one

6. Beast of Burden by The Rolling Stones
They are the last band I would choose to listen to voluntarily but I do enjoy this one

7. I Don't Need You by Kenny Rogers
Grew up listening to him, always enjoyed his love songs

8. Sexy Bitch by Akon
Yea, I never heard this one, but it made me dance when I was stressed the other day, so Shazam

9. If It Kills Me by Jason Mraz
Such a talented guy, I like most of his songs both lyrically and musically, he's got a nice funk to him.

10. Let Me Go by Cake
I love Cake! We've had their albums for a long time but never really, truly listed until now. I love Cake!

What have you Shazamed lately?

January 8, 2010

The Cool Mom.

Why is it that moms are only truly appreciated and recognized during the weeks surrounding Mother's Day? Is that the one time of year only that they do laundry, cook for everyone, clean up, taxi, listen, do homework, support, love, hug, encourage? Well obviously not. So today I want to recognize my own mom, she's a heck of a lady. The cool mom.

Mom: Smart, hardworking, funny, pretty, adventurous, empathetic, comforting, supportive, strong. Cool.

Growing up my mom was known as the 'cool mom'. She didn't yell, didn't stick completely to curfews, and was always there for not only us, but any of my friends that needed an extra mom too. Friends in college couldn't wait for my mom to come visit. She'd bring ice cream cone cupcakes then take us to the bar for wings and beer. Yup, told you, the cool mom.

As I got older and moved away from home, I realized even more how much I needed my mom. Then when I had kids of my own it was a whole new story. Any time something would go wrong here, I'd want to just run home and sit with my mom. A few times I can remember going home just for a day of shopping, then crying as I was leaving because I didn't want to leave my mom. She's my rock. The cool mom.

Now as the new year begins, I've learned something new about my mom. I have a new word to describe her. I probably could have used it along the way, but now I know for sure. My mom is inspirational. She has had a rough 2 months or so, and has come out far ahead of the game. I've watched her display every emotion in the book these past few weeks, but they were always followed by happiness and strength. With a strong support system and her determination, she has overcome the obstacle. She has inspired me to be a better person, take better care of myself and my family, and to appreciate life more. The cool mom is a true inspiration. 

If you are grateful for your mom, give her a call or a quick hug. Don't wait until Mother's Day or until it's too late. Appreciate her today, she'll be grateful too.

January 4, 2010

A Simple Paragraph to Help Me Through the Week

A dear, dear friend of mine lent me a book the other day. I was going to buy it for my Kindle(stay tuned for a review later in the week!) but I still love the feel of a book in hand.

Anyway, it's A Simple Christmas by Mike Huckabee. Some may not know that before being a politician, Mr. H was a pastor! I generally don't read any books with a religious undertone anymore. That's a story for another day. But I did enjoy this book, it was a quick read with heartwarming stories. One passage stood out more than anything else in the book, and I just have to share. In this chapter(each 'chapter' is really a short story) Mr. H. shares a Christmas in which the best gift of all was life and the love between him and his wife after she was sick. They had lived through a 'crisis' and were stronger. It fit my life right this minute perfectly:

"That Christmas we learned that God's greatest gift to us is not to remove us from crisis, but to walk through crisis with us. He does not do us a favor by taking us out of all the trials and tribulations of life, but strenthens us by giving us the grace to get through them and emerge on the other side having realized that what we thought we couldn't endure we in fact just did. How often do we ask for the gift of escape from a problem and instead it seems to escalate? "

It goes on to discuss the simplicity of Christmas, but what I took away from it was something so different. Something not God-centered and religious, because I don't know how to do that anymore. What I pulled from that one paragraph is simple: We will emerge on the other side of this happening in life, even though today I don't feel that possible yet. My family is a strong, Italian, true New York family that gets each other through everything. There is no escaping this time, but we will endure. Thanks Mr. H., I needed that pep talk today:)

January 3, 2010

Rock On!

Requirements for Reading this post:

- you should own a gaming system of some sort
- must love music

If you’ve answered yes to the above requirements, then by all means, read away! It is no great secret to anyone here that I loves me some Guitar Hero. Always loved me some music, but now with Guitar Hero it’s on a whole new level.

Then the other day I finally tried Rock Band at a friend’s house. I had no negative feelings towards it, just didn’t know much of it. I’m here to say that I did enjoy it very much!

I’m not here to recommend one or the other, but if you’re up for more of a challenge I would go with the GH only because of the difficulty of the drums as well as the ease of the guitar on RB, having two sets of colored keys. Personal preference. My preference goes along with song choices too, make sure you read set lists before picking one.

Sadly the ‘instruments’ are not interchangeable, or I’d already have all available titles. I have all available GH titles and enjoy them all tons. The kids are a bit young here, but do enjoy trying to rock out with us. My little one gets on vocals and the older one on guitar. A great way to enjoy time as a family, work together to not get booed of the stage, and have some good laughs.

So if there are no ‘instruments’ littering your living room yet, what are you waiting for?

January 2, 2010

I Hope!

I don’t believe in making New Year’s Resolutions anymore. I think I did when I was younger, but then realized I never, ever, ever kept to them. What percentage of people really do anyway? The closest I can come to a resolution right now is to be sure to take my vitamins and calcium every day, and even that’s a tall order for me that I forget every 3 days or so.

But, with a new year comes new hopes and expectations. I hope for many things this year, and unfortunately am hoping for a lot right out of the starting gate.

A hope of good health of my family is up there as number one priority. This upcoming week will not only prove our worth as a cohesive family unit, but hopefully strengthen us and make us appreciate each other and life more.

I hope for my career to finally take shape again after many years of uncertainty. I want this current endeavor to work out and remind me of why I loved teaching in the first place.

I hope for my kids to continue to learn and grow into funny responsible little people of the world and enjoy being little boys in this nature-filled place we live.

I hope for my sisters to have a wonderful year, way better than the last, as I love them more than anything in the world(other than the boys of course!).

I hope for myself to be happy, to enjoy things I never thought possible, and to try new things. I’m not very good at that as everyone knows, but hey, with a new year ahead all things are possible, right?

January 1, 2010

Not So Perfect Brownies:(

I’ve wanted one of those fancy new brownie pans since the first time I saw the commercial. You know the one, put in the insert, pop out awesome pre-cut brownies, no muss no fuss. My mom got one for me for Christmas, and my sisters each got one too. This morning at 6am I woke up and the first thing I said as I stretched was ‘I’m making brownies now!’

I don’t have the as seen on television one, I have this one  Same difference, right? $19.99 and if you have a 20% off bed bath coupon it’s a mere $16!

Washed the pan, mixed the brownie batter. I didn’t take a picture of the first part, but the bottom is just a regular brownie pan that has a big hole in the middle. Then you lay the insert with handles in there and spray with Pam. I’d prefer to use butter, but since it said ‘non stick cooking spray’ I followed the directions. 

After I poured the batter in I couldn’t imagine how it wouldn’t leak down and around the insert, but I kept my faith and continued on. I put the perfect slice insert in, which creates 12 brownies and has little handles to pull up when done.

Cooked the brownies regular amount of time, actually about 2 minutes less than box. They must cool completely before popping them out. They looked fine when done, but when I tried to pull out the insert it was completely stuck. I did spray it, but I’m guessing not nearly enough. Took a lot of fighting with a knife to get them unstuck and to pull out the insert. Once that was done it was quite easy to get the whole batch lifted from the pan.

Unfortunately, even though I cooked them less than they were supposed to be, the edges came out rock hard and the taste was even weird. We all know I’m a mad baker, so it’s not my fault on the taste end. They wound up getting picked over and eventually thrown out.

I will try the pan one more time, and spray the hell out of it, maybe even use butter next time. I will cook them for a bit less time, and stay optimistic. But for now I have mixed reviews and am quite happy using my regular baking pan.