Friday, May 27, 2011

Hot/Cold Therapy Pack

I made my mom a hot/cold therapy pack for Mother's Day.

Well, I made one therapy pack out of fabric scraps from Brielle's Easter dress, and couldn't part with it {{emotional attachment}}, so I made another one. 

It's uses include heat therapy 9heat in microwave) and cold therapy (cool in freezer).  Ease lower back discomfort, fibromyalgia pain, restless leg syndrome, arthritic cramping, and menstrual pains. Roll up for neck support. Reduce daily stress and strain; use as an eye pillow to block out light, help ease a headache, and relax.

I made my mom's pack with bamboo and palm tree fabric.  Since I was NOT anticipating making two of these in one week, I was kinda pressed for time.  So, I took my supplies and the kids to the beach and put the finishing touches on the pack.

I ended up with this little gem.  The case for it is kinda just like a pillowcase.  The pack itself is made of one type of fabric.

Lulu has been using the pack I made for myself.  She puts it in the freezer every day and places it over her eyes each night.  I have to admit, it is soooooo very comfortable.  Simple -- and amazingly comforting!  What a way to decompress.

So, I bought the fabric so I can make a hot/cold pack for her to have as her own.  I am so excited!  She is sure to love it!

There are all kinds of tutorials on how to make these on the web.  For some reason, I cannot find the tutorial that I used.  When I do, I'll share the link with you, mkay?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Water and Weeds

There isn't too much exciting stuff in the world of gardening.

Since we are no longer watering the grass in the front of the house, Bro and Daddy set up the sprinkler to water the soon-to-be mammoth (not an exaggeration) sunflowers along the side of the house.

Bro keeps checking the vegetable garden.  A few of the tomatoes are popping out.  He gets so excited to see them!

The rest of the garden is starting to pop up, finally.  The only problem is that I didn't mark the location of what we are growing and I can't tell the weeds from the vegetables.  I finally identified the carrots.  I see a lettuce popping up.  There should be Basil, Lavender, and Brussell Sprouts in there somewhere too.  Also, I think I see a few tomato plants from seeds that maybe were left behind last year????

Clearly, I have no idea what is going on here.

This post is part of the KinderGARDENS series.
Click the here to join or for more information.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More Reading

I haven't done a book review in awhile, so here goes.  To save time, I borrowed summaries from

The Amateur Marriage
by Anne Tyler

How I Heard About It:  Um... someone probably recommended it online and it had enough good reviews that I opted to add it to my list.

My review:  Eh, it was okay.  Not horrible.  Wasn't a total waste of time.  Didn't need to read about another couple's squabbles -- I have squabbles of my own to deal with.

From  They seemed like the perfect couple - young, good looking, made for each other. The moment Pauline, a stranger to the Polish Eastern Avenue neighborhood of Baltimore (though she lived only twenty minutes away), walked into his mother's grocery store, Michael was smitten. And in the heat of World War II fervor, they are propelled into a hasty wedding. But they never should have married.

Pauline, impulsive, impractical, tumbles hit-or-miss through life; Michael, plodding, cautious, judgmental, proceeds deliberately. While other young marrieds, equally ignorant at the start, seemed to grow more seasoned, Pauline and Michael remain amateurs. In time their foolish quarrels take their toll. Even when they find themselves, almost thirty years later, loving, instant parents to a little grandson named Pagan, whom they rescue from Haight-Ashbury, they still cannot bridge their deep-rooted differences. Flighty Pauline clings to the notion that the rifts can always be patched. To the unyielding Michael, they become unbearable.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
by William Kamkwamba

How I Heard About It:  My book club is reading it.

My Review: Great! Quick read. True story. Made me really appreciate the luxuries of food and electricity... and water spigot/hoses to automatically water my garden. I skimmed through the information on how to build the tower -- very technical stuff that I wasn't going to understand anyway.

From  William Kamkwamba, the youthful author of this book, was born in Malawi, an African nation best known for its harrowing poverty, its AIDS epidemic, and its long-term food crisis. In 2001, William was just 14 years old when the country was struck by the greatest famine within memory. With his family now too poor to pay his $80-a-year tuition, this eager learner was forced to leave school. Against those staggering odds, he continued to read, learn, and experiment. Inspired by a few old school textbooks, he devised a primitive working windmill, cobbled together from bicycle parts, blue-gum trees, and other makeshift scraps. With his homemade invention, he gave his family and himself electricity and a new start. Inspiring and refreshing as the wind.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
by Joann Fluke

How I Heard About It:  My coworker said that a lady in the bank recommended it.

My review:  Seriously?  For gosh sakes?  This thing was tough to get through.  Honestly, I didn't even finish it.  Supposedly these "food" mysteries are an up-and-coming genre and lots of people like these books.  I wanted to like it.  Heck, I wanted to love it.  Alas, this was not for me.  It was just boring.   

From  No one cooks up a delectable, suspense-filled mystery quite like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke s dessert-baking, red-haired heroine whose gingersnaps are as tart as her comebacks, and whose penchant for solving crimes one delicious clue at a time has made her a bestselling favorite. And it all began on these pages, with a bakery, a murder, and some suddenly scandalous chocolate-chip crunchies. Featuring a bonus short story and brand new, mouthwatering recipes, this limited edition of the very first Hannah Swensen mystery is sure to have readers coming back for seconds.

Drum Roll Please... I saved the best for last...

Two Kisses for Maddy
by Matt Logelin

How I Heard About It:  I've been reading Matt's blog for 3 years!

My review:  After following his blog for three years (has it really been that long), I was really anticipating this book release.  Many people have experienced the loss of a spouse while remaining strong for the children.  Not many of us read about the ups and downs of that journey on a daily basis.  The book was fabulous... such a testament to his wife, Liz, and their daughter.  Lovely -- just perfectly lovely!

From  Matt and Liz Logelin were high school sweethearts. The pair settled together in Los Angeles and they had it all: the perfect marriage, a beautiful new home, and a baby girl on the way. But just twenty-seven hours after they welcomed Madeline into the world, Liz suffered a pulmonary embolism and instantly died, without ever holding the daughter whose arrival she had so eagerly awaited.

Faced with devastating grief and the responsibilities of a new and single father, Matt coped by returning to the small blog he had created to keep friends and family updated on Liz's pregnancy, which today has become a place for him to share with over a million curious readers the day to day of two lives bound by loss and love. But there is more to his story than just raising a daughter alone: Matt Logelin is an extraordinary human being. Having been sustained through tragedy by the kindness and generosity of strangers, he is now dedicated to helping others in difficult situations by reaching out and inspiring those facing loss or adversity.

A heartwarming and heartbreaking story punctuated by beautifully recollected-- and often humorous-- memories and anecdotes, TWO KISSES FOR MADDY unquestionably has something to offer any reader who has experienced grief, and has sought the courage to live again.

Have you read any "culinary mysteries"
(i.e. Chocolate Chip Murder Mystery)?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hello Gaithersburg Book Festival!

When I left the office on Friday I had a list of fun things to do this weekend:  visit the Clark's Eliok Farm, the library, the Air Show, the zoo, or the Strawberry Festival, to name a few! 

I also added:  read The Paris Wife, by Paula McClain to my summer reading list..  {{This will be important later.}}

Then, I woke up Saturday morning, checked facebook as usual, and saw this post on my profile page: "Aren't you going to the book festival today?"  {{Thank you my friend!!}}


The boys proceeded with their plan to go to the Air Show.  Lulu and I wanted to go to the book festival.  No one wanted to drag Brielle along -- sorry Baby Bee!  I couldn't ask my parents to watch her at the last minute -- and it did not make sense to send her to the air show -- so, we took her to the book festival, hoping for the best.

Why did I want to go to the book festival so bad?

I wanted to go because Matt Logelin was going to be at the book festival.  He was the keynote speaker at 4:00 p.m. and signing books at 5:00 p.m.  Matt's is a blogger.  He blogged his wife's entire pregnancy and delivery.  His, wife, Liz, died suddenly as she stood up to go to the NICU and see her baby for the very first time after her delivery.  His blog follows his struggle between his grief after Liz's death as well as his joy for his new baby -- Madeline.  I have been reading his blog since very shortly after Maddy's birth.  He recently published a book about his experience and it is a NY Times Best Seller.  I just have a soft spot in my heart for this dad. 

Moving on! 

Since I had Bri with me, I knew that I would not be able to stay for Matt's speech nor wait in the line to get a book signed.  Nonetheless, I still wanted to go and see what the book festival was all about.

Beltway traffic getting to the event was nothing less than horrendous.  And, my preteen was starting to have a meltdown and wishing she was at the Air Show instead of in the car on the way to the book fair; I remained calm and tried to crack jokes -- stopping at McDonalds helped a bit too!

As soon as we were inside the book fair things took a turn for the better.  First, we saw a famous cat. 

Then, we got some food and found some shade.

I checked the schedule and saw that Paula McClain was doing a book signing right then!  The lines to get to the authors were surprisingly empty.  I was able to enjoy a pleasant conversation with Ms. McClain and she signed a book for Ms. Beth, one of Brielle's care providers.  Ms. Beth and I talk books every time we see each other.  I am giving this to her as a belated Teacher Appreciation gift.  I am so excited!

We walked over to the Young Adult tent and found an author reading some of her book and taking questions from the audience. 

Lulu peeking over at Brielle who was less-than-excited to listen to this author.
Lulu was interested in the book.  Yippee.  She is not a lover-of-books, unlike me, so I am thrilled when she takes an interest in reading.  We learned that the author, Dominique Paul, is signing books right after her reading so we went to the sales tent to buy her book, The Possibility of Fireflies

What did I see when we got to the sales tent? Piles and piles of Matt Logelin's book Two Kisses for Maddy.  Sigh - it was only 1:30 p.m. and there was NO WAY my kiddos would last to see him speak at 4:00.  Sigh.

We bought The Possibility of Firelfies and scooted over to Dominique Paul's book signing.  While we waited behind the only other person in line, we overheard that Ms. Paul's book is soon going to be a Hollywood movie.  In fact, the author, Dominique Paul, is directing it.  Ms. Paul recently had dinner with the Travolta family and is still making cast selections for her movie; she dropped some names of some big time popular actresses!  We were star struck!

We were so star struck, in fact, that this is the only picture that I have with Lulu and the author/director.

Having experienced as much as we were going to, from the book festival, we headed out.  Along the way I spotted a booth for the Liz Logelin Foundation.  This foundation was created by Matt Logelin (ahem... keynote speaker -- a #1 NY Times best seller) and the money raised goes to help other recently-widowed parents. 

As I neared the tent, I started to sweat.  I literally gasped as I saw... Matt... standing right there!  Oh my gosh -- why is this semi-celebrity (he's been on Oprah ladies) just right here?  Where are the gobs of people?  Isn't he supposed to be tucked away in his tour bus right now (he is totally NOT a  tour bus kinda guy). 

After I stopped shaking sorta composed myself, I emptied out my wallet made a small donation to the foundation.  Matt shook my hand.  I said something totally stupid brilliant and inspiring.  He asked if I wanted to enter the raffle to win a book signed by him and Maddy.  I declined -- I don't know why.  And, then I took a picture -- crazy groupie --  and snuck off into the sunset!

We passed by the tent a few more times.  Sometimes Matt was signing autographs and sometimes he was chatting with the one or two people at the tent.

I wish I had said hello to the lady standing next to him.  I am sure it is his girlfriend Brooke.  On his blog she has stick-straight brown hair.  Today, she has wavy blonde hair.  I didn't recognize her -- or maybe it isn't her at all.

Had I read Matt's blog before I left the house I would have known that his daughter, Maddy, was at the festival too.  Alas, a missed opportunity to see the sweetie I have been following in pics for so long!

Anyway, I do not mean to stalk the poor guy.  I was just shocked to see him.  He presented himself in the cool, calm, and collected manner that he always does on his blog -- no surprises there.  Maddy is very blessed to have such a great dad! 

What to expect at the Gaithersburg Book Fair:  This book fair is full of lots of things for kids and adults to experience.  It is not super crowded.  You will get the opportunity to meet and share the work of loads of local authors (some more famous than others).  Next year, I will probably be selfish and leave the kids behind.  I will research which authors will be speaking at what times and then spend all day going from tent to tent and experiencing the love of reading from those who bring it to life -- the authors themselves!

Have you ever been to a book festival? 
Add it to your bucket list.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Let's Dish: My Review

Oh gee, I have a crazy winter work schedule... it is grueling, in fact.  Some time in the early winter I saw this Groupon advertisement for $79 for $136 worth of do-it-yourself meals at Let's Dish.

There are several companies similar to this.  The premise is that Let's Dish offers all of the ingredients for lots of meals (roughly 12 different meals to choose from -- the menu changes monthly).  I go in and put together all of my meals and walk away with ready-to-eat meals for my family and I didn't have to go to the grocery store or mess up my kitchen to prepare them. 

I bought the Groupon. My plan was to make the meals and use them during my hectic work schedule to fill in when we we stressed for meals. Alas, I never got the time to go to Let's Dish until this week.

The cost for the meals (per meal) is definitely a little bit more than I would spend in the grocery store, but often the Let's Dish recipes use ingredients that I wouldn't use because it isn't cost effective for me to use them. For example, one of the recipes I chose called for 1/4 cup Hoison Sauce. Um... I can tell you that I will probably never use Hoison Suace again... and if it were in my kitchen, the rest of the jar would go bad. However, this was an opportunity to prepare tasty meals that we don't usually try, without commiting to all of the seasonings and sauces.

Can I tell you -- I had such a great time at Let's Dish!  Yes, I had to prepare my own meals, but everything was already set out for me:  directions. ingredients, supplies... and more!  This could not have been easier!

I went with a friend.  We chatted the whole time we were there.

They have a snack and coffee bar. You can stop, chat, grab a bite (then wash your hands again) and get back to prepping some meals. 

Lulu went with me.  I thought it would be fun if she helped me.  She did her homework chilled out and ate all of the snacks instead. 

The staff was so friendly.  You felt like they were your girlfriends... seriously.  I felt so... at ease!

In the end I went home with four main courses for a family of six (we are only a family of five).  Also, i got three side dishes, four family-size servings of scones, and one family-size dessert... all for $79!  I had so much fun, this was so easy, the meals are so new... it was worth it for full price... in my opinion!

Lat night I made two of the six mini-Hot Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes and they were a hit.  I threw the Luau Pork in the crockpot last night (now it's in the fridge) and we will eat it for dinner tonight, along with the coconut rice.  We already sampled it this morning and it gets rave reviews -- Yum!  I am eager to cut and bake the scones for the family for a breakfast treat!  I think we are making the Raspberry Mango chicken this weekend. 

I could make this a monthly event.  I want Let's Dish gift certificates for Christmas. 

Have you been to one of these ready-to-go meal places? 
What did you think?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Easter Grass

You may remember that I grew some Easter grass in February. 
The goal of the Easter grass was to have real grass in the kids' Easter baskets, instead of the plastic stuff.

While the Easter grass is adorable, it is not necessarily suited for the type of Easter baskets that the bunny fills at our house.  Logistically, it wasn't going to work. 

However, I still wanted an excuse to grow the grass, so I did.  I decided to make cute baskets for my aunts for Easter.  I bought cute baskets and tins and grew the grass in them.  Then, I added some faux flowers to them and brought them to Easter dinner at my Grammy's house.

They searved as centerpieces on my Grammy's porch table.  How festive!  I was able to enjoy them in my home right up to Easter and my aunts just adored them.

Growing Easter grass (a.k.a. wheat grass) is a fun project for the little ones.  The results are almost immediate.  There are lots of uses for wheat grass as gifts.  Next, I might make them for my kids' teachers with a little sign that says something like, "Thanks for helping me grow and bloom" or something like that.
You can also eat this stuff and it is supposedly very healthy.
Have you eaten wheat grass before?

Friday, May 13, 2011


The dentist came to visit Bro's school.  She brought lots of junk treasures for the kids to keep.

Bro asked me for a flashlight, pulled on his blue doctor glove, and checked everyone's teeth.  Luckily, baby Bee is a very good patient.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Planting Sunflowers on Mother's Day

We continue to garden.

Every day when we come home from school, Bro jumps out of the car and asks, "Mom, can I go see my beautiful garden?"

Of course we take a moment to check it out.

Um... it still looks like this.

How do we water all of our stuff?  Right now we have hoses stretching across our yard that are hooked up to an automatic timer on the spicket.  However, we need to think of a better way to water this stuff.  I'll get to that in a moment.

For Mother's Day, Dear Husband and Bro prepped some land next to the house for my sunflowers.

I checked the stash of seeds I bought and found Mammoth sunflowers and Giant sunflowers.  I didn't read the package carefully.  Let's just say... Mammoth sunflowers could reach almost to the window.  Gulp!

Is this tiny little seed really going to be a mammoth sunflower?

Even Bri joined in on the fun.

Bro planted the seeds and gently covered them with soil.  Good boy!

Many gardeners have pointed out that it can sometimes be a challenge to get the teens to participate in the process.  As you can see, my teen is no different.  She cheered us on from the sidelines though.

It was a fabulous Mother's Day.  I never thought I would enjoy a day like this so much.

Now for the watering issue.

This is our current set up.  One main hose comes from the spicket in the back.  There is a splitter and it connects to two hoses.  One hose waters the grass we are growing in the front and one hose leads to the veggie garden. 

These hoses are run by an automated timer that turns them on and off.

However, now I need to also water the sunflowers on the side of the house as well as my new hydrangea bush along the back fence (a gift from my mom).

My question is this. 
How do you manage watering your plants and flowers? 

Right now I am manually (the old fashioned way -- standing there and holding the hose) watering the sunflowers and hydrangea bush.  However, this is not a long term solution for us... I don't think. Wait... hahaha.... my teen will be home for the summer soon.  Maybe I should put "water the plants" on her to-do list.  Perhaps my problem is solved.  Just kidding!

This post is part of the KinderGARDENS series.
Click the here to join or for more information.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


My folks (a.k.a. Fairy Grandmother and Luvs2Boat) gave Bri a sandbox for her birthday.  Prior to this, Bro had been using an unused flower bed as his sandbox.  Pathetic -- I know.

So, Bri got a sandbox for her birthday and we told Bro, "This is Bri's sandbox and she will share with you."

The sandbox sat in the yard, unused, for a few days.  We were still deciding where to put it before we dumped all of the sand into it.

Finally, Bro came up to me one day and said,

Bro:  Mom -- I am going to share with my baby Bri all day today.

Mom:  Okay - you are such a sweet brother.

Bro:  Yes. Mommy -- do you want to set up Bri's sandbox now?

So, we did.

You'll have to excuse me while I continue to be amazed by the relationship between borthers and sisters (I am an only child). 

Baby Bee is such a copycat and Bro is happy to lead the way.

Bro throws the dirt so...

... Bri throws the dirt...

... which means that someone is gonne get dirt in their eyes.

Lulu chilled on the hammock {{a Father's Day gift for Dear Husband that he never gets to use}}...

... and posed for some pictures. 

Bri and Bro wrestled in the sandbox, one of their favorite pastimes. He is so rough with her (but not TOO rough) and she is almost equally as rough with him, but they have so much fun.

Their wrestling makes me nervous.  I don't want anyone to get hurt. 
How old will they be when they finally stop? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bee's birthday cake.

We also celebrated Bri's birthday with my husband's family.  This post doesn't have many pictures because his family does not want to be ALL over the internet?  Who knew?   Really?  You mean some people don't like to flash their kids all over the internet?  What?  {{They know I am teasing.  Hi y'all - love you.}}

I do want to show you Bri's official bee cake.

She was a grumpy-pants after her nap so we did not get pictures of her eating her cake.  This is most unusual behavior for her, but we try to be flexible in this house.

{{What?  I'm flexible.  Stop rolling your eyes.}}

Nonetheless, here is her bee cake... in all of its glory!


Now y'all know what I always say -- If you can paint-by-number then you too can make cakes like this.  The cake pan was the Wilton Ladybug pan.  The original directions called for wings made of cardboard and covered with icing.  The lady at our local cake supply store suggested I use rice paper instead and I did.  I just love it! 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Baby "Bee" Birthday Recap

This is the first in a 3-part birthday series. 

Part 1.  Bri celebrates her birthday with my parents.
Part 2.  Bri's bee cake.
Part 3.  Bri and Bro play in a sandbox.

Bee (a.k.a. Bri) turned 1-year old last month.

I couldn't decide what to do for a birthday theme for her.  We often call her our baby Bee... so at the very last minute I decided on a bee theme.  As if making 3 cakes (one for school, one for my folks, one for Dear Husband's folks) wasn't enough, I also added making-a-bee-dress to my list of things to do.  What?  I'm so crazy!

Seriously.  Look up crazy in the dictionary and you'll find something like this:


1. mentally deranged; demented; insane.
2. senseless; impractical; totally unsound: a crazy scheme.
3. Informal . intensely enthusiastic; passionately excited
As in... Napmom was crazy to make a bee dress just three days before her daughter's birthday.

The dress is reversible.  The reverse side is the black-and-white check pattern with a yellow bee border.

Lookie - lookie!  Occasionally I get to be in a picture too!

As promised, her first bee cake was a honeycomb cake.  It came from the Williams Sonoma store
No, I don't ever spend money like this. 
Yes, my family did give me a hard time for buying this cake pan. 
No, I don't care. 
Yes, I hope use it again someday. 
Yes, this cake was cute and easy {{which totally made it worth it, right?}} 

Baker's Tip:  I used a regular lemon cake mix from a box -- easy and yummy.  I made two of these cakes (one for school and one for home).   I used Pam Baking Spray on my first cake and the nooks and crannies were not crisp.   It is best to use real butter and flour to flour your cake in this cake pan so the details really show up, as in my picture below.

Dig in baby Bee!

Baby Bee and Daddy.  Oh... I almost forgot... Happy Birthday Dear Daddy!

My folks and baby Bee!

My favorite pic of the day.  A classic baby Bee smile.

I had to have this balloon too! 

We save the mylar balloons and use them again the next year.
Does anyone else do that?