Monday, April 30, 2012

"Lite" Chocolate Cake

When I saw this recipe on pinterest I was intrigued.  "Healthy" version of chocolate cake?  Yes, please!

This is one of those 3 ingredient wonders (if you count water as an ingredient).

Simply combine 1 box of chocolate (or any flavor) cake mix with 1 cup of plain greek yogurt (original recipe says fat free, but I had "lowfat" on hand that was due to expire) and 1 cup of water.

Mixture looks like chocolate mousse.  

Spray cake pan(s) and bake according to directions on box.  

I decided cupcakes were a better option for us because they would store better (and dictate portion control).

The outcome?  Pretty much tastes like a chocolate angel food cake.  
And my ultimate taste testers, the kids, loved them! 
And so easy to make! 

(I left these cupcakes "bald" since I didn't have any icing on hand, or want to add more calories to them.)

Might have to try my hand at the other recipes listed here.    

Linking here.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Our Week with Boomer!

Clare's class mascot, "Boomer" the dog, finally visited our house this week.  Clare was one of the last 3 kids to have a turn hosting, so this was a long-awaited houseguest!

Here's the fun that was had while Boomer was with us...

Saturday morning breakfast of French toast, a favorite.    

Boomer was able to celebrate our cousin's First Communion on Sunday.  
What a special day to have Boomer!  

We said that Boomer became an "idog" when he "ichatted" with my out-of-town parents/Clare's grandparents.  

Boomer even helped Clare with her nightly math homework!  What a smart dog!

He also enjoyed snuggling with Clare while she watched her current favorite show, "Wild Kratts."  

We had a fun week with you, Boomer!  Good luck on your next adventure!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trophy Husband


I was very thankful when my husband walked in the door yesterday evening and took over watching (and loving) my recently-ill-child-who-also-did-not-nap-yesterday-and-shall-remain-nameless.  

He took her out of the kitchen while I finished making dinner, he gave her a bath, he took her on a walk, and when she was in bed he offered me a glass of wine.  

And that's not all...  Today he is watching her while he works from home this morning so I can go to my last MOPS meeting of the year in peace and not be anxious that "someone" is a hot crying mess for the MOPS babysitters.  

Hands down best husband/daddy around!  Thank you, Ryan!!!!!  Next round of golf is on me - ha ha.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Iced Coffee...why am I just now figuring this out??

My in-laws are coffee connoisseurs.  They introduced me to coffee syrups years ago, as they usually have several flavors at their house at any given time.  And silly me always thought they could only be used in hot coffee.  

A few weeks ago my friend taught me otherwise by making me a delicious iced coffee with said syrup.  It had me at hello.  And couldn't be any easier.

**Note the secret ingredient!!!**  

(available at most grocery stores, any flavor/brand syrup will do)

To make your own:
First pack your glass full of ice.
Then add a splash of coffee syrup.   
Add cooled coffee but leave room for a generous amount of milk (skim, 2%, whole, or cream.)  

Sip and enjoy.
No drive-thru necessary!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gift of Kindness

For my birthday last weekend, Ryan kindly gifted me with a print that I had emailed to him like.  

I often find myself telling my kiddos to simply "be kind" to each other, so when I saw this print I knew I wanted to frame it in our home as a gentle reminder for all of us.

I was very excited to see this in the mail!  (Pretty pattern tape, too!)

Love this!

After a quick trip to Michaels (can you say frame sale no less?!?!?!) and it's ready to hang! 

The etsy seller was also kind enough (no pun intended!) to include this free 5x7 print for me.  

Thank you Katie Daisy and Ryan!

Find this print (and other lovelies) here.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Cindy Lou Who

(And, yes, that sandbox is worth the mess to me ~ even when someone tries to eat the sand.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Homemade Disinfecting Wipes

I pinned this idea for homemade disinfecting/clorox wipes a few weeks ago and recently made some of my own.  

I made 14 wipes so I used smaller quantities of the suggested ingredients:
1/2 cup of water
1/8 cup rubbing alcohol
1 T. Dawn dish soap (*author says to only use Dawn)

Mix everything together in a container that has a lid.  (I washed out an old baby wipes container and used it.)  Then add the wipes, put the lid on, and flip the container over so the liquid can be absorbed into the rags.  I had 14 cotton rags (old white undershirts) that absorbed this amount of the liquid mixture perfectly, not too wet, but just  moist enough.

I like using these to wipe down my bathroom sinks and toilets in-between regular cleaning.  (And they are great for wiping off, around, behind, below and underneath the toilet that is used by a little boy!)  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Happy" Tax Day!

Here's a reason to be happy about today...freebies!


Most of these deals are running across the great USA, but you can google 2012 tax day freebies + your city to see if there are other deals where you live:

  1. Arbys is serving free curly fries all day (need coupon).  
  2. Marble Slab Creamery and Maggie Moos are giving out free scoops of ice cream from 4 - 7 PM.
  3. You can get a free Shanghai Angus Steak at Panda Express today (need coupon).
  4. Two free Cinnabon Bites are available at Cinnabon today from 6 - 8 PM.
  5. PF Changs is offering 15% off of your bill (excludes alcohol and happy hour).
  6. Drinks are half-price all day at Sonic Drive-Thrus.
  7. Hydromassage is offering free massages.  (Need coupon, then call and make your reservation.) 

Monday, April 16, 2012


I celebrated my 31st birthday this weekend.  And my younger sister confirmed what I had been thinking all day:

Other siblings weren't too sure about my date of birth:

The original plan was to take the family to the baseball game for my birthday, but we opted not to go with the 100% chance of rain all day.  (And rain it did...pretty much all weekend.)


I did get to go shopping instead...without children!

Dinner at Chick-Fil-A was a big hit.  

(My kids licked their plates clean...unlike some other fast food chains we visit every once in a great while.)

Although older, I am not the wiser as we let the older two kids outside (after the 24+ hours of rain) and they came in caked in mud.  

Thankfully they had their trusty rain boots on and all came clean.  

Hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chicken Penne

This is one of our favorite dinner recipes.  (I snagged it from my sister-in-law who had borrowed it from someone else.)  Now that we are enjoying grilling temperatures, this will be enjoyed a lot over the spring and summer months.

Chicken Penne

Marinade chicken breasts (1/2 per person) for at least 3 hours in this mixture (then save the marinade):
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons grey poupon
4 tablespoons sugar

Grill chicken and cube.
Toss grilled chicken with 1 pound of cooked penne pasta.
Boil marinade to thicken for 1 minute, then mix in with penne.  
Add 2 tablespoons poppy seeds (optional) and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese to pasta and serve.    

Linking here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Seedling Success

We planted some seeds indoors a few weeks ago and tried something different this year...

We started our seeds in cardboard egg cartons and it worked great.

First I cut the top apart from the bottom.  

Then stuck a piece of saran wrap in-between the top and bottom pieces.  

We filled each egg compartment with soil and planted our seeds.  
(Is Ellen telling me she doesn't believe I have a green thumb and we should call the whole thing quits?)

There were no issues with water spilling out or getting the windowsill wet when we (I) watered.  


We are ready to plant our seedlings in containers for our deck (out of the reach of the neighborhood rabbits!) after the chance for frost this week passes.  When we do plant them, I plan on cutting each egg compartment off the main carton and putting the entire thing in the soil.  The roots are already poking through!      

Hopefully we will have full and colorful flowers on our deck this summer!


Linking here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Labor of Love

Happy Wednesday!

Several weeks ago I shared the story of how our sweet Ellen entered the world over at The Grant Life's weekly Wednesday Labor and Delivery series.  Kelley has created a whole "Mommy Panel" and someone shares a story every week.  You can read my story below if you haven't already and then head over to The Grant Life for today's featured mommy!

I was due on Friday, September 3, 2010 with our third baby.  I had my usual normal/uneventful pregnancy, and we had found out she was going to be a girl at my 20 week ultrasound.

I had my 40 week appointment on September 2.  My OB was going to be out of town for business over Labor Day weekend and I was a little anxious hoping that he would be there for the delivery.  He assured me that nothing was really happening and I would most likely see him on my Tuesday, September 7 appointment.

We went about our normal weekend activities.  On Sunday, September 5 I woke up and noticed I was contracting here and there and didn't really think anything of it.  My husband did ask me that morning (like he had for the previous 2 weeks) if I thought "today was the day."  I told him I had some contractions, but not to get too excited.

We went to Sunday Mass at 10:15 AM and I noticed that I was still having irregular contractions.  After Mass I told Ryan the contractions hadn't really stopped and suggested we take the kids on a walk after lunch to see if they continued.  (When I had Jude, we got to the hospital and they made us walk and it was another 15 hours before he arrived.)  It was around 12:30 or so that we went walking.  I was timing my contractions on Ryan's iphone.  Once I timed them I realized they were actually about 3 - 5 minutes apart.

We walked home and I called my OB's exchange.  His partner was already at the hospital and would be waiting for us.  We live about 35 miles from the hospital I deliver at, so we said we would be there in about an hour.  I folded a load of laundry, finished getting my bag ready, started getting overnight bags together for the kids to go to my in-laws, and called my mom to let her know what was going on.  It was now around 2:30 PM and my contractions were picking up speed.  Ryan put everything in the car and I ran waddled upstairs to get one last thing.  By the time I got to my room I was doubled over in pain from the contractions.  Then again at the top of the stairs.  I thought Ryan was going to have to come and carry me out of the house.

Somehow I made it downstairs and into the car.  All I remember about the car ride to my in-laws and then to the hospital is the pain.  We practically threw the kids at Ryan's parents and were going about 85 - 90 mph to the hospital.  I was yelling and moaning and shaking (and burping) the whole ride.  The entire trip usually would have taken 45+ minutes.  We made it in 30 minutes.

Ryan drove up to the ER, hopped out of the car, and grabbed a wheelchair for me.  (He later told me he ran the chair - with me in it - over his little toe and it hurt...but he didn't dare say anything in the moment!)  The first nurse that saw us took one look at me, calmly handed her clipboard to the person standing closest to her, and said, "I'll take you up to labor and delivery."  She took me upstairs and the whole time I just kept thinking how relieved I was that we were at the hospital.  She took me to a room and the L&D nurses wanted me to get into a hospital gown.  I told them I really needed to use the bathroom.  I tried to go, but started contracting and ended up on the bathroom floor in pain.  I came out of the bathroom and they helped me into a gown and checked me.

I was at 9 cm.

I cried.

My water had not broken, but was bulging.  I didn't realize it at the time, but the nurse asked the doctor if she should go ahead and break my water.  He said not to.

I asked if I could get an epidural.  I was told that I might not be able to.  I cried again.  The anesthesiologist came in and said she would go ahead and do a spinal block since I had epidurals with my previous deliveries.  There were about 9 people holding me down while she worked because I was shaking so badly.  The anesthesiologist didn't get the epidural in the first time and the doctor calmly suggested to "try one more time."  She got it and the relief was within seconds.  I was so thankful to be able to catch my breath.  Everything had happened so quickly.  It was 3:30 PM when we checked into the hospital and I had the epidural at 3:45.

Within 20 minutes I had my water break and then another 20 minutes later it was time to push.  A few pushes later, Ellen Anastasia entered the world at 4:48 PM on Sunday, September 5 weighing a whooping 9 lb., 11 oz.!  (I am still forever grateful that I was able to get that epidural.)

Feeling much better with some pain meds and ice chips.

She's here!  75 minutes after hospital check-in.

And she's HUGE!  My biggest by far!

Ellen with mommy.  A full head of hair like her older siblings.  

We are still so grateful that my water didn't break in the car and that Ellen wasn't born in the car!  
And I'm still holding onto my bragging rights for delivering a 9lb., 11 oz. baby!



Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter!

We had a very Happy Easter yesterday!

Clare is always impressed how the Easter Bunny nibbles on the carrots we leave him/her/it.  
(Sidenote: How are you supposed to explain a large rabbit to children??)  

All Ellen wanted was to mush and chew on wrapped candy.  By the end of the day she had succeeded in successfully breaking open the wrapper.  


Someone was very pleased that Finn McMissle and Holly Shiftwell joined our family this weekend!

Easter Breakfast:
Sausage links

After Mass and naps we were off to Grandma and Grandpa's for dinner and an egg hunt!  

Then everyone's sugar high wore off and we all slept happily every after!