Saturday, July 31, 2010

imagining her baby's dreams

Have you seen this mom's maternity leave project?Check out the rest of the creative dreams here. Pin It

Friday, July 30, 2010

the most scream-worthy ice cream!

I worked at Williams-Sonoma when we lived in NY and had the distinct privilege of demonstrating the ice cream maker for a month or so! I know! What a job!
That's when I fell in love with it.
I couldn't wait to share the fun & yum with the family. You may just stop right there because, I'm telling you it's the TASTIEST vanilla I've ever had.
But if the soft white batter is begging you for toppings...
or let the kids dump crushed oreos or m&ms in!
you'll add your toppings in the last 5 minutes of churning.

Recipes from the Cuisinart ice cream maker book that comes along with the machine.
This is my machine. They sell them at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $49 (plus you can use your coupons).
sells the same machine
plus a Bonus Freezer Bowl (on sale for $59.95)
(which is totally worth it if you're going to be using this often b/c
for best results you'll want your bowl frozen overnight

Try it! You'll love it!
Our family is nuts over it!
I could kick myself for not buying this KA pasta attachment when I had my discount! Pin It

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Help. and the movie

The Help.
I mentioned I spent last week reading it.
It had been recommended to me too many times not to give it a try.
When I checked it out of the library and noticed it was still a 7 day best seller loan, I was sure I'd be renewing it. I never make enough time to finish a book that soon.
Possibly the most riveting fiction I've ever read.
About halfway through, I stayed up through the night reading it.
I woke up groggy & without an ounce of regret, I even took it with me to the bathroom!

Maybe it's because we canceled cable, but nothing was more interesting to do in my free time. I was more than willing to get behind on my blog reading & let my husband choose "man" movies-anything so I could open this book.
I think you would be too.

The jist (in case you haven't heard) is:
An expose on the complex relationship between 1960s Jackson, Mississippi housewives & their maids. Controversial. Courageous. Cheerful & heart-breaking.
I've heard it compared to To Kill A Mockingbird and called a Modern Classic.

For those of you that miss the characters, now that you're done reading the book, like I do.
Dreamworks is working on the film this summer in Greenwood, MS.
I can't wait to see it!

Here's the cast so far (according to, 'The Help' fans: What do you think??

I love Viola Davis as Aibileen for sure & Allison Janney as Skeeter's mom may make me like that lady a bit more. I think that photo of Bryce Dallas Howard says she can at least put on a Hilly face, but I was picturing Rachel McAdams (thinking a grown up version of Mean Girls). Notice all the red hair.
What about Miss Elizabeth Leefolt? Who do you think they should cast as her?

I miss the characters so much, I'm tempted to drive across the few states between me & Greenwood & see what I can see!
Maybe I could play the voice of Missus Stein. If you know anybody that knows anybody, tell them I'm interested. I won't require a paycheck, just a pass to peer around onset.

**Added on August 2, 2010: Check out the IMDb page for the rest of the cast. Looks like Ms Leefolt isn't a red-head...** Pin It

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

messy, colorful fun...on sale

when the sunshine comes to stay, we get outside for play
as often as we can

everything that can survive as an outdoor toy is out in the backyard.

we're having fun doing messy things like this and this because
the hose comes to the rescue for clean up.
there's lots of painting going on too.
it's a darn good thing i don't have a habit of chatting on the phone.
this happened in a matter of minutes. like 3 or 4.
and don't think i didn't take her immediately outside for a hose down.
she's back to the blessed crayola color wonder ONLY when indoors!

anyway, if you're getting your craft-on at home too or just stocking up for back to school,
you may want to head to toys r us before saturday.
i got all of this for $20
at the buy 1 get 2 free on crayola markers, crayons, and paper sale
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Monday, July 19, 2010

the lessons of super mario bros with a 4yr old

This was one of the less respectable moments of my motherhood and honestly, I certainly never expected to be broadcasting it.
You may remember from this post that Carter got a DSi for his 4th birthday from his beloved grandparents and we bought him Super Mario Bros.
We've had the same bedtime routine each night since he was a baby: read a book, sing a song, say a prayer. Sometimes more than one book. One night the book had been taken away for bad behavior. Other than that, it's a given.

This week, the mosquitoes were bad & the sun was very hot, so we did lots of indoor activities.
we went to the library twice. We brought home 2 batches of books each time.
I was flat worn out come bedtime. And I'd been reading through those piles of books for days.
I'd promised him he could play his DSi once his chores were done and here we are at almost 9pm, chores long been done.
"Carter, how about for a special treat tonight i'll lay with you on the bed & we can take turns playing Mario like we do (when one dies or finishes a board-whichever comes first, the other plays, and back & forth)"
He's, of course, already nodding enthusiastically, "YES!"
"One thing though: only one game. When it is over, no questions or whining, we'll sing a song & pray & then goodnight. No book. DSi or book"
(OH MY LORD! I can't believe I just wrote that! What a bad parenting moment!)

I figured this would be over quickly.
Take a look at the photo above if you aren't familiar with the new and improved version of the Super Mario Bros I played in the 90s. (It's a blast!)
Board 1. World 1. Carter's turn 1st.
He's improved. Oh, this could take longer than I thought. Wow! I didn't even know how to do that. Oh, look Mario is gigantic and smashing his way through the board. He's at the brick stairs that lead to the flag. My turn. This is going to be faster and more fun than I thought.

Then he said "Oh, I'm at the end. I need to go back. I missed stuff."

I'm silent & shocked. What?! You're at the end. That's the point. Get through a board. Get to the next. I watch as he proceeds to go back through the entire board, hitting every brick & question mark box, leaving no coin behind all the way back to the beginning of the board!

"I need to go back. I missed stuff" is echoing in my ears.
Who knew God would speak to me through this Super Mario Bros experience with my 4 year old?!
He did. Instantly, I got the message.
My goal is the next step. My goal is what's ahead. My goal is getting through where I am to get to where I'm going. I've been like that for as long as I can remember.

Maybe, just maybe, I could be "missing stuff"on this board in the effort to get to the next.

image source:
party ashamed that i know there is a whole site dedicated to the new super mario bros
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

simply steps

{this sort of breaks the rules of simply steps.
it's not something i may take for granted because it happens once, maybe twice a year.}

we had a great few weeks back in the northeast with our family & friends.

this is the part i miss the most.
the cousins together.
as though they know there's something different between them.
as though they know the family bond.

its the thing that keeps me praying that somehow, someway this can happen more often.
and thanking God for the familial love and support.
and pick-right-up-where-you-left-off-ed-ness.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cut cable! We're glad we did!

I haven't read it yet, but that same blogger I mentioned on Monday has a series on how to have a baby without breaking the budget, and I think immediately of how I calculated how many diapers we'd need a day at the different stages & figured out how to make that much extra room in our budget before Carter, my 1st baby arrived.
The thing to go was cable.

While I'm not having a baby, and we're not adding any extra expense into our lives, last month I got the bug to cut cable again. It started when a couple of my friends randomly mentioned they didn't have cable, using services like Hulu, Netflix, and Redbox instead.

When it had been months since we founds something in all 100+ channels that we really wanted to watch, we decided we could cut it down to the local channels. "that's significantly less service than what you have now, ma'am." the cable guy said when I called to cut services.

It was the DVR that held me captive to paying for all of those extra channels we never watch. If I wanted DVR, it made more cents (pun intended! i crack myself up!) to buy the package that comes with it included.

You know what?
  • I don't miss DVR (I may be eating my words during football season, when pausing because I have to leave the room to clean the marker off the wall or refill a sippy cup comes especially in handy)
  • I enjoy only having PBS morning cartoons available.
  • We utilize Redbox for movies as soon as they're released, just as we always did.
  • On our already regular library visits, we now grab a new cartoon on DVD {for free} for convenience that the DVR used to offer.
  • We've played more family games & gone on evening walks, instead of tuning into the DVR.
  • The $50+ a month that we have saved is really just a bonus.
  • If you'd like to force yourself not to rely on cartoons for childcare during the day,
  • if you'd like to force your family on after-dinner walks or board games,
  • if you'd like to conquer that stack of must-reads on your nightstand,
  • if you'd like to have less of dropping in front of the tv after the kids go to bed & more jumping into your own bed, if you know what I mean?
I suggest cutting cable.
Use some of the $ saved on Redbox $1 movie rentals.
Netfilx isn't for us, but I know a world of people that disagree.
And there's always the good old library. {mom, can you believe I'm suggesting this? Oh the memories!}
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Monday, July 12, 2010

They paid cash for their house!

If you've followed this blog for a while, you know that my husband & I follow Dave Ramsey's plan for finances.
We buy into his "Debt is Normal. Be weird." mentality.

I don't love saying "no" to this or that "gotta have it" thing I see for our home or my wardrobe.
It doesn't come easily for me to decide not to go on a real vacation that doesn't include visiting & staying with family or going along on a business trip with my husband.
I'm not sure I'll ever rid myself entirely of the "we have the money, shouldn't we drive a car that isn't 10 years old, or upgrade to a house with more square footage" mentality.

I've come a long way.
A couple things save me from my "want this. get this" ways and they are:
1. I'm quite used to living differently than people around me, because I've been {trying} to live by God's standards for years, in a world that lives by what feels good, fits well at the moment.
2. My mom is one of the most resourceful women I know. She had to be. She passed it on to me.
3. My husband handles the budget & transfers what I can spend into a separate account attached to my debit card each month.
I have to feed the family, gas the family car, be sure we're never out of toilet paper or can buy a light bulb if one burns out, and if I can do all of that AND bring home what I just can't leave at TJ Maxx, it's a great month!

We just returned from almost a month visiting with our family & friends in the Northeast.
There, we stay with family, borrow an extra car, HAVE FREE, ON-THE-SPOT BABYSITTING, and usually put off purchases for months before going, so that we can take full advantage of the outlet mall!
Seriously, Dan arrived with no shoes, but the dress ones he had to wear for the business part of the trip in Boston.

Still, we get into this "we're only here once, maybe twice a year, we should make the most of it" mentality & spend more here & there than we probably need. It's vacation!

Nothing bad about that mentality, as long as you can afford it AND it stays on vacation along with the free babysitting!

I needed some real inspiration when I returned a couple of weeks ago.
My spending was still in vacation mode. My mind-set hadn't come back to reality yet.

That's when I found this gal online. They paid 100% cash for this home:
I read each post on the journey toward this goal. You'll find the series here.
This is what I learned:
  • They got out of law school without any debt
  • They've been through a devastating bout with unemployment
  • They drove 1 car, until a new job with a long commute drove them to get an old minivan
  • She's a SAHM, who capitalized on her frugality through her blog
  • They have 2 kids
  • They've been married 7 years
  • Moved back to where they grew up & started his own practice
  • They downsized in a rental house & resisted temptation to live as other lawyers were living.
  • They drove into their new neighborhood in the old blue minivan, possibly offending the shiny-car-ed neighbors!
  • They give 10% tithe to God
  • They keep a spreadsheet
  • They did it all 2 years ahead of schedule!
Lots of these steps are almost too-familiar, 2 kids, married 7 years, driving 1 car before buying an old faithful, giving 10% tithe, all the way down to the nerdy spreadsheet that tracks their progress.
This could have been us!

Needless to say, I've got my inspiration back!
My faith is increased.
Our goals may look unrealistic, but are certainly achievable.
I won't be able to do it unless I set my mind on not living like everyone else, so I can live like no one else in the future
. (another Dave Ramsey thing, not verbatim)

How does this affect you, detailgalblog readers?
Besides what I hope, which is that you're inspired like I am,
you may not see a whole lot of "gotta have it" items on the blog for a while.
Unless I can buy it, and still have enough coffee & creamer at home all month!

You will likely see more ways to save.
Like this post & this post for affording summer vacation!
Money Saving Mom also has series on having a baby without breaking the budget, becoming a work-at-home mom, & 31 days to a better grocery budget. Check out her series' here. Pin It

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oh, please do join me!

She got the fairy tale ending.
In quite an unlikely way.

Widowed. Loyal. Unwelcome. Desperate. Diligent. Redeemed. Rewarded.

I'll be sharing her story & my testimony
of how God will use unlikely people, in unlikely ways to do the unlikely in our lives.
If you liked this post: "what I thought I wanted, what I got instead leaves me broken and grateful", I think you'll love what I've discovered in Ruth's story & my own experience.

I'd love for you to join me this Sunday morning
at Trinity Church if you're in the area.
10 am, Room 208. Childcare is provided.
or Wednesday, July 14th in the Tea Room 209, 10 am. No childcare available.

Come join the Trinity Church gals and me! Hope to see you there!
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Friday Finds....the BEST chocolate cake

THE best chocolate cake

So here's the deal, I'm not a dessert person.
And if I'm going to have sweets, which is extremely rare, it's going to be fruity.
(lest you think I'm a health nut, let me assure you, I make up for it by eating more than I should in the savory dept.)

But when my friend Angela told me she'd made the best chocolate cake, I knew those words meant something. She, like most gals, is a dessert person. And her mom happens to be a fantastic baker-a talent she's passed on to her daughter, I must say. I can see why she is so convinced.

Believe me, believe her, believe all the people that write in to comment on this Barefoot Contessa cake, called Beatty's chocolate cake,

The secret ingredient is 1 cup of freshly brewed, hot coffee.
It's moist, it's rich, it's fudgy, it's cake-y, it's everything you want from a chocolate cake.
Plus, it's easy to make.

Here's the recipe.
Here's a video of Ina making it.
Here's the frosting recipe that I used.
Okay, go make it.

It's worth the extra time at the gym. It will make your family happy. It will impress your dinner guests. It's will cheer up your friend.
It will become the cake that you make that everyone wants you to bring to this or that function. Promise.

Couple of notes:
The picture: I took a fantastic picture of a great slice of cake with the center frosting showing & looking so delicious. Somehow I erased it from my SD card as I was importing it. This photo is of the last piece, which isn't nearly as picturesque as the other. Just saying.)
Carter added the sprinkles, which I wouldn't have added. He wanted to help & I was too afraid to have him dump more of this or that into the mix, since I was testing to see if this really was all it's cracked up to be. Sprinkles were safe
Lastly, Wegmans happens to make a VERY close second to this cake, I just felt too guilty not saying anything about their Ultimate Chocolate Cake. Wish they'd publish the recipe. I guess that wouldn't be good for business though, would it?
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Monday, July 5, 2010

the best blueberry pancakes!

you simply must make these blueberry pancakes. just look at them!
i know i posted them last year, but they're worth mentioning again!

we made them for breakfast over the holiday weekend & they kept us full all day.
it's a martha stewart recipe, but bakerellas photos make your mouth drool.
ok, the faster you click here, the faster you'll get to taste em for yourself!

photos: bakerella
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Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday book

Friday Finds...
free book at

good news: no credit card or sneaky club to join
important news: today's the last day
get yours here

Not free, but recommended audiobooks are:
The Notebook & The Wedding & Dear John all by Nicholas Sparks

For the preschool crowd:
The Stinky Cheeseman & Other Fairly Stupid Tales
by John Scieszka,
Dr Suess' Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs & Ham,
Skippyjon Jones
(any) by Judy Schachner,
Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy
(or any) by Jane O'Connor,
Where the Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak

Do you listen to Audiobooks on road trips or around the house?
Have any to recommend?
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Movie morning!

Escape the summer sun for indoor fun starting this week:If you're lucky enough to live near a Regal Cinema, you'll want to check out the FREE FAMILY FILM FESTIVAL. Tues & Weds @10am, did I say FREE? The list is pretty great & offers something for all ages.

Cinemark is doing something similar: Summer Movie Clubhouse.
Purchase 10 shows for $5, or $1 per show.

We tried this last year, but I ended up crawling (literally) up & down the staircase after Lilah, while my 3 year old sat scared straight in his chair watching Tale of Despereaux.
This year she's a runner and couldn't care less about a screen, but I think we'll try it again. Here's to burning off the handful here, handful there of the kids' popcorn! Pin It
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