Le Crueset cookware

Like most people I have a variety of pots, pans and skillets in my cupboards.  I have everything from glass to non-stick teflon going on in there.  After getting sick and figuring out what I can and can't have we started rethinking our cookware as well.  After doing some research, I felt educated...and appalled.  Here is what I found out!

We all know non-stick cookware is convenient and easy to clean, but it also has some health concerns.  PFOA, a component in teflon coating on those pans, is a know carcinogen and mutagenic.  At least 98% of the population of the US will find PFOA in its bloodstream, and even in the cord blood of newborns.  DuPont, the creator of the substance has been fined heavily in the past for covering up just how dangerous it is.  Oh, and if you have feathered friends in your home, non-stick pans can kill them.  No, I'm not kidding.
If you are still using non-stick pans here are a few tips to use them safely:

  • Don't overheat them, dry heat them or heat them over 400 degrees.
  • If they are in any way scratched or the coating is coming off, throw them away.
  • Don't heat an empty pan - it can take less than 2 minutes to over heat a non-stick pan.
  • Don't sear or broil meat in non-stick pans.  Typically you need to heat the pan past what is safe to cook the meat that way.

Aluminum Cookware is for many people a cost effective way to cook their food.  Unfortunately aluminum can leach into your food.  Cooking veggies in aluminum cookware produces hydroxide poison which can neutralize digestive acids and cause gastro intestinal troubles.  To give you an idea of how bad this stuff is, the sale of aluminum cookware is prohibited in Germany, France, Belgium, UK, Switzerland, Hungary and Brazil.
Anodized Aluminum seals in the aluminum, and gives it a non-porous non-reactive surface, until the teflon is put on it.  The acidity of your food will break down the surface on these, so be careful to make your sauces in another pot.

Stainless Steel, unless it is surgical grade can be made from pretty much anything, including scrap metal.  The only other thing you have to worry about with these is nickel, in the better pans.  But you have to be able to afford the high end ones to avoid the inferior metals and other leaching concerns.  When you get into that much money, there are better options.

Cast Iron is another great one.  They require some extra maintenance but can be a fairly inexpensive albeit heavy addition to the cupboard.  The drawbacks however, are that seasoned pans are 99.9% of the time seasoned with soy oils.  Be aware of that before you buy them and look for non-seasoned if you want cast iron and season them yourself.

Back in the 80's, glass pots and pans were all the rage.  You can still find them, Corning makes the Visions line here in the US.  No leaching into your food, but a bit on the sticky side.  Great for simply boiling water and making pasta though.  Special bonus with these, they are made by the same group that makes beakers so you feel a little like a mad scientist while doing up dinner!

Ceramic is a newer version of the non-stick pan.  There are a few on the market now in the US, and most aren't worth buying.  The ceramic is inferior and develops pits in the ceramic rather quickly.  Ecoluxe out of Italy is one that's worth buying, but you have to go to Italy or stumble on their pans in Marshalls like I did.  If you find some, buy them.  They're completely worth it.

Last but certainly not least, there are the enameled cast iron variety.  You get all the greatness of the cast iron along with the no leach of the glass.  If you're going to go this route, keep in mind these types of pans are handed down through generations.  They will last you a lifetime and probably your grandkids too, but you pay for that quality.  Le Creuset and Staub are two lines that are worth the money.  Martha is making her own these days, but the reviews were awful on the enamel pitting, cracking and coming off.

For any of you with allergies or intolerances, if you are buying anything second hand and it's porous material, assume it's contaminated and don't buy it.  Save yourself some agony later.

I'm slowly switching over to Le Creuset and glass.  What are you cooking on?

In the strange world we live in, we've never had the question, "Is Santa real?", come up.  Both of my minions have just taken it as certain fact that a rotund man in a red suit delivers one amazing present, to each person around the globe, in one night.  Seems legit, right?
The minions are 11 and 14 and thanks to NORAD and animated Christmas shows, they still have no doubts that:

  1. Santa is real
  2. He needs some of my cookies
  3. He's bringing games for the Wii
Seems Legit...
I was hoping by now they both would have figured out that Santa couldn't be real.  Then again, minion #2 is holding out for a pet chupacabra or bigfoot, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.  What it boils down to though is this.  We don't lie to the minions.  I've had to explain everything from incest (thanks NatGeo Mummy specials) to complex medical procedures and expectations of pain levels, but we don't lie.  So why do we pick things like this to be untruthful about?  

I've thought long and hard about this, and I think the answer is simple.  There is some magic that revolves around this time of year no matter what religion you follow.  Even if you follow one of the religions that doesn't celebrate the holiday or are atheist, chances are your spirit of giving or being with family is greater, and that's it's own type of magic.  Who wants to end that?  Yeah, I really don't either.

What we will be doing is telling them in a way that involves them being part of the Christmas magic.  I hope that in years to come, it also helps us come together more as a family as it has this year and makes it less about giving things to someone just because it's what's you've always done at this time of year.

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The King took me to Alexandria, Virginia for a weekend away recently.  It was part of my birthday present and it was nice to get some down time.  We spent Sunday in Old Town enjoying the walk around town.  Most of the side walks are kept brick, especially close to the river.  There are even a few cobblestone streets left in places.  I find a certain type of peace in places with that much history.  To walk in places where long dresses swept the ground, armies marched through and people like George Washington and Robert E. Lee walked gives one pause.
One of the brick lined sidewalks.
A number of boutiques, resale and thrift stores as well as eateries and galleries such as The Torpedo Factory abound.  It sounds like something where you'd either buy food, or weapons, but it's been turned into an Art Centre.  Three floors of open galleries and studios to peruse or purchase the works you find.

Torpedo from 1945 on view.
Many of the boutiques had some gorgeous displays for Christmas.  The one below though, took my breath away.  The shop, called decorium was part of an interior design firm, and their shop simply made me happy. "Snow" covered the floors, "ice" covered branches were everywhere and you really felt like you were walking through a winter wonderland indoors.  I could have stayed there all day and poked through each nook and cranny in the shop and still not have seen everything.  It was simply fun.

Decorium's interior window display.
Hopefully before the holidays are done we can get over to Hershey and enjoy Christmas Candylane.  An evening of music, light shows and a rides in the frosty cold is a lot of fun.  I just have to convince minion #1 of that...


As another year comes to a close, I find myself in the same cycles of years past.  I take stock of the things I've done this year, see if I've met the goals I've set for myself both personally and professionally, and start writing the goals for the year ahead.

Some of the goals I've met, some I haven’t.  I really don’t sweat it one way or another.  They’re goals and things to strive for, not how I measure my success and happiness.  I know not everyone is like that, and that’s OK too.  Everyone is different and it’s that bit of different that makes each of us special and unique.

Each goal I set, no matter if it’s a short or long term goal follows a few rules.

The goal is Specific.  It will state what I want to accomplish, who is involved, why I’m doing it, where I’m doing it and list out any requirements or constraints.
The goal will also be Measurable.  I can give it how much percentages, or how manys to see what’s left to do yet.
The goal is Attainable.  If I can answer the question, “How will I accomplish my goal?”, with a realistic answer, it’s attainable.  Being the Doctor’s companion isn't an attainable goal, no matter how cool you think it would be.
The goal is Relevant. Is my goal worthwhile?  Am I the one that should be accomplishing this?  Is it the right time to do this?
The goal is Time bound.  Someday is not part of the goal making formula.  What needs to be done now, next week, next month to accomplish my goal in the X months I have designated to bring it to completion?

My personal goals for the coming year are pretty simple, barring of course the end of the world as predicted by the Mayans.

  • Go back to school in January and work towards my masters. (long term goal)
  • Make 5 new friends and have a girls' night out once a month.
  • Attend one craft show a month, and make my jewelry a small, profitable business that can support 50% of my tuition costs by the end of 2013.
  • Expand on my jewelry line to include some accessories for Thirty One bags.  Meet up with the rep and make sure she has samples by Jan. 15th.
  • Finish the family room and move on to the dining room before Spring.

That’s it so far, but that list is ever changing, so the goals will adjust, change, be added to and some of those will be removed as they are completed.
What are your goals for 2013, or are you hoping the Mayans will be right and you won’t need to make any more goals?

If you've never had long hair, this post might be a bit foreign to you.  But if you're one of the ladies that do have long hair, you know exactly what I mean when I say, "What should I do with my hair today?"
No, I won't vote for
your husband.

Some people change their hairstyle so infrequently I swear their hair is really a helmet.  Or if you see people in two or three styles it's like lego hair, you can just pop it off and put one of the others on.  The amount of hairspray keeps everything, including their smile held in place.  Think politicians wife.

We, the ladies of the long hair don't really have this option, especially if we have fine, straight hair (like me).  We're forced to come up with something to do with our hair each day.  Whether it's up or down, if we're working it has to be professional looking and not look like mommy just finished our hair.  If we're at home with the kids, we want to make sure they can't yank it out of our heads, or eat it when we're multitasking.

Everything's bigger in
Since I can't afford to run to the salon each morning to have someone else do something amazing with my hair, I had to take it into my own hands and find a few go to hairstyles.  My go-tos are easy to manage with my two hands, and can be accomplished without getting confused as I'm looking in the mirror.  I'm also short, so I adjust  my hair to compensate for that as well, without having Texas hair.

For any of you looking for a few new styles that aren't Texas sized, or scream of politicians' wife, check out my Hair Styles board on Pinterest.  I've put a few great tutorials there that don't require me to hold my iphone while doing my own hair.  I can promise you that would only be a disaster in the making.

What are a few of your favorite things to do with your hair?  I'm partial to messy buns myself.
I don't know about the rest of you, but the last week has been a total blur for me.  An office move, making a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 12 and all the things that go with those have kept me busy.

Due to me going vegan and my crazy dietary restrictions I decided to serve Indian food for thanksgiving.  For a family of carnivores that loves their meat, potatoes and gravy it went amazingly well.
The menu was fairly simple.  Crudités with homemade hummus was laid out as guests were arriving.  We chose a simple moscato wine to have, and served it chilled, but not ice cold.  For the starter we had a spicy lentil dahl with papadom and naan.  Then, a buffet style meal of jasmine rice, gobi mutter, chana masala, veggie korma, corn, a simple cole slaw and for the carnivores, chicken biryani and tandoori chicken.

All of the recipes for the meal can be found on my Thanksgiving Pinterest board, except the cole slaw.  I've included a recipe for it below.

If you live in Central Pennsyltucky and have no idea where to get some of the Indian ingredients or spices, Hampden Grocer carries all of it.  As an added bonus, the owner is friendly and helpful!

Yes, we did still have pie.  Minion #2 helped make an apple pie, and there was pumpkin and my famous pecan pie as well.

Dawn's Simple Cole Slaw
Serves 12

1/2 head of green cabbage, sliced thin
1/2 head of red cabbage, sliced thin
large handful of baby carrots, diced, matchstick, or tossed in a food processor
1 medium cucumber
rice vinegar
olive oil

Slice your cabbages and carrots and toss them together, mixing them thoroughly.  Add vinegar and oil to taste.  You want to taste the mixture, but not leave a lake of it at the bottom of your bowl.  Add just enough to coat the veggies.  Add a good bit of black pepper. You want to give it just a bit of a bite.  Slice the cucumber in thin rounds and top the slaw with it.

P.S. I did make all the food up a day ahead of time with my wonderful Sister In Law.  She and I cooked for 6 hours straight to get everything ready so I wouldn't have to be on my feet from the crack of Dawn (no pun intended) on Thanksgiving.  I doubt there are words to say how nice it was to have the help, but it was truly wonderful and a lot of fun!
I ran across a really good article a few weeks ago and wanted to share it.  It's about how unsafe the meat we eat in the US really is.  The article title is Why is it Legal to Sell Unsafe Meat.  I urge you to read the article as well as the first comment from a veterinarian to give you idea of what is really going on with your food.

One more article I'm going to point you to will explain what some of the food borne illnesses are, how to combat them, who they are most likely to affect, and why.

I'm not going to post slaughterhouse photos with this article, because for most people they are disturbing.  Instead you get Leo Hamderson in the Meatrix.  Cheesy cartoon, but an accurate portrayal of the factory farm system.

For those of you that read this blog on a fairly regular basis, you know I'm a vegan.  It's not because I want to save the animals.  I love me some leather, especially on shoes, and jackets, sometimes skirts... Anyway, the point isn't omg don't eat meat, it harms the animals.  It's about educating yourself about what you're eating, and keep yourself or your children from getting very ill.  By all means, eat meat if you want, just make sure what you're getting is safe to eat.

If you've read the articles and checked out Leo Hamderson and are thinking, I don't know why you're making a big deal about this, I cook all my meat and it's safe, or I really don't care about how my meat exists before I eat it. I have one question for you.  After using the toilet, would you wipe your ass with the meat you're eating for dinner, hose it off, cook it, eat it and think it's perfectly safe and completely ok to eat?

I'm cheating a little on my tutorial this week.  This article was written for my day job, but it's relevant here as well as most of us bloggers have Facebook pages.  If you've been looking for a few new ways to invigorate Facebook, read on!
Most, if not all businesses have Facebook pages, twitter accounts, Instagram, and Pinterest sites these days.  More often than not they are started and then left to go cold and unused.  If you've been putting off keeping your Facebook site up to date and relevant, here are a few tips to help you out.
Get all your fans to see all your posts.
You have lots of fans who like your page but you have little to no response to your postings. It could be that a lot of your fans aren't seeing your posts anymore. The way to combat that is to remind your fans that they should hover over the like button and be sure they add it to their interests list.

Pinning, it’s not just for Pinterest junkies.
You can pin your posts to the top of your page so that your fans, or potential fans will see them first on your landing page. This is a great feature if you have products you’re trying to sell, or a cause you’re promoting over a timed schedule.

Speaking of causes…
If you have one you’re passionate about, or are supporting, use your cover photo to showcase it.  Be sure to follow it up with a few posts and photos from events that support the cause.

Crowd source your content.
Feature your customers on your coverpage or your posts! Ask for photos of people with your products. If you’re a realtor ask people to send you photos once they've moved in and decorated with a short story of the buying process went.
Return the love
Your fans have taken their time to come like your page, be sure you take the time to say thank you. Respond to the posts people leave for you, and ask others to get involved in the discussion too so that they feel they've been heard.
Have a little fun with it.
Not every post has to be serious. Use humor where you can to entertain as well as inform in your posts.

Go personal.
Showing that there are people behind the business can be a powerful thing, good and bad. As long as you’re not oversharing, it’s good to be personable. Run into a client at lunch? Why not share a photo of your group? The trick is to be relateable.
Have a contest
Everyone likes to be a winner, and they’re fun. Contests are a great way to your page, increase your likes and get new business.
Cross promotion
If you don’t have a link from your website or blog to your Facebook site and vice versa, do that now. You should also be listing it on your email signature and your business cards as well.
Post regularly
This seems like such a no brainer, but it’s not that easy. One post a day is what’s suggested to stay relevant and visible. Post more often if you can, and with a mixed variety of the above.
Good luck and hey – stop by Facebook and like the page!

I hate you, closet!
Oh, wait, check Pinterest.
There's inspiration!

I promise, no more bad poetry this week.  Or ever.  Especially haiku.  It's just not my forte.  What is my forte is making new outfits out of clothes I already have so I don't have to keep buying new ones.  It can be a challenge, because after a while your clothes all start looking the same.  You get into a rut and those pants go with that shirt and that's the end of your thought process.  Yeah, I've been there.

Enter Pinterest.  If you've never used the site for outfit inspiration, you're missing out.  Will you find the contents of your closet there?  Probably not, but I bet you'll find some things that are close.  I was browsing Pinterest this morning for some inspiration and came across this little gem.

Hello nameless size -0 model.
It's a cute outfit.  One I can get away with for days in the office.  So, tan pants - check, brown boots - check, off white sweater - yep have that too.  Awesome, an outfit for the day!

My version is a pair of Old Navy pants, a Calvin Klein sweater and some Aldo boots.  The accessories added some girlyness to it.  The scarf I found at Rue 21 and the belt is from Target.

I have both a guys and ladies outfit board at Pinterest if you're interested in checking out more outfits.  

I started this post quite some time ago, and never got back around to it.  Shame on me.  In my defense, it was around the time Minion #1 was having heart surgery.  I'll be claiming temporary mommy insanity on that count.  The next time was last week, and I got sick, had a million things going on...stupid life, doesn't it know I have a blog to write?  So finally I'm getting back to closet editing with style and fashion in mind.

Yesterday, I wrote a bit about style and fashion.  If you read that, I mentioned that style is who you are, and you can see a little about me in my clothes.  They're all fairly classic styles.  Things you can wear for years.  They all have the same basic shapes, that show off my assets (small waist) and camouflage the not to great parts (I have a big butt and I can not lie...).  Not a lot of prints, and most have a vintage flair to them.  

I decided to start with dresses this fall since they are all one piece and not quite as mix and match as some of the other things in my closet. In my closet I had three LBD's.  Which, in all honesty was two too many.
Technically, my LBD could double as the cocktail dress, but thanks to my niece and nephew's recent weddings, I have two.  I couldn't show up in the same outfit to two functions.  I mean, who does that?

T-Shirt dresses are a staple for me.  They can be worn with tights, leggings, even jeans to create a bunch of different looks.  If you put a shirt under it or over it, you have more looks.  Add a sweater and you have another outfit, it's really genius. For now, here are mine.

Graphic print dresses.  Everyone has their own take on them, again, I tend toward neutrals because you already have things going on with the print.  Bright colors with bold prints are just not me.  I had a few print dresses,  two of which I've had since right after minion #2.   I kept two.  Yes, I know, that is animal print, I think of it as cougar, RAWR!  ;)

Vintage and classic dresses.  I have a soft spot for these, faux or the real deal, I always have a few in my closet.  Right now I have a vintage seersucker dress.  My holiday frock by the legendary Mr. T has been edited as has my long Benetton.

That's it.  My dresses are edited down.  I have what I really want in my closet and I'll be selling my vintage things in the etsy shop.

On to colors.  As you are trying things on with your closet edit, you may notice a few pieces wash you out, make you look too pale, or even seem to make your skin take on a yellow or green cast to it.  Not all colors were made for all people.  Here are a few tips for finding the right colors for you:

Winter: (cool) Your natural hair color is usually dark and you have brown, hazel, dark blue, grey or green eyes. Your skin has a cool blue undertone. Winter people can wear true black or white clothing. Clear, true vivid colors from light to dark will make you look good. Any colors with blue undertones are recommended. Dull or dusty colors should be avoided.

Spring: (warm) Your natural hair color is flaxen or strawberry blond to medium or reddish brown. Eyes will be blue, aqua or golden brown. Your skin has a warm yellow undertone and hues with yellow undertones look best on you. Medium to light colors are better than dark shades. 

Summer: (cool) You have rosy delicate coloring with a blue undertone. You may get a sunburn easily. Your hair is ash blond, which often darkens with age. Blue eyes are most common but some have green, grey, hazel or brown eyes. You should wear dusty or muted shades with blue or rose undertones. Cool soft colors are the best.

Autumn: (warm) You have reddish highlights in hair ranging from blond to dark chestnut brown. Your eyes are usually brown but some are green, hazel or blue-green. Your skin may have freckles and it has a golden undertone. You should wear strong but dusty colors with orange or yellow undertones.

One easy way to tell if you are a cool or a warm is to flip your wrist over and look at your veins.  If they appear blue you are a cool toned person.  If they appear to have a slight green tinge to them, you're a Vulcan warm.
Each time I've shopped with someone, no matter if it was helping them find a piece for an event, or filling in parts of their wardrobe, I've run into the same issue.  Few people know what the difference is between style and fashion.

Simply put, style is an innate part of who you are and doesn't really change.  Fashion, on the other hand is directed by other people and changes with the seasons.  If you're still not sure how to tell the difference, look at any movie star from the 20's on.  If what they are wearing looks great and would still be relevant today with some minor updates, that's style.  If you're giggling at what they're wearing, that's fashion.  Not that fashion is a laughable thing, but trends come and go darling.  Style is forever.

If you're like most people, you probably have a closet that's half full of trends from the last 5-10 years and the other half is stuff you don't like, doesn't fit and you don't wear.  Sometimes it makes for some seriously hideous awesome outfits.  Some though, manage to take what's in their closet and look amazing even if they've already forgotten about what they're wearing that day.  How do they do that?  Their closet is full of things that suit their style, mixed with a few trendy items.  That's how.  If you've ever wanted to reinvent your style but just weren't sure how here are a few easy steps to do so.

We've all had a "what was I thinking" moment, or ten.

The first step is to develop your own style.  If you're unsure about what your style is, you can take a look at magazines to see what the glitterati is wearing currently or even look back over the decades to see what the fashions were through the years.  You may find that some things from other eras are more to your liking.

Look through your closet once you have an idea about what your style is and see what's age appropriate.  If you're in your mid to late 30's and dressing like a teenager, you may have an issue.  Looking youthful isn't about your clothes.  Make sure too that you're dressing for your occupation.  Mom jeans and stained tees do not good office wear make.  Dress for your lifestyle.  If you walk all day, every day, 4" stilettos may not be for you.

Figure out what colors look good on you and what styles fit your body shape best.  Don't wear things that accentuate your worst attributes.  For instance, I don't wear baggy clothes.  I'm petite and they tend to make me look like I'm playing dress up.

If you're not sure what things you should buy and will hold up to multiple washings, or can't tell designer clothing from a blue light special, then what you really need to know are a few simple things.  How are things cut, how are they stitched and what fabrics are they made from?

  • The cut should flatter your best assets and hide the worst ones.  Cheaper clothing sometimes will have  variations in size and even the material cuts may be different.  So if you're picking up trends on the cheap, watch for that.
  • The stitching in the fabric should always be at least 1/8" from the edge and the edge should be finished.  If it's not, assume you'll be fixing a seam along the way, or just don't buy it at all.
  • Cotton polyester blends are great for everyday, they barely wrinkle.  Silk is nice for dressing up, wools for winter warmth and linens for summer to keep you cool.
With what you've learned so far, edit your wardrobe.  Take stock of what you have left after the wardrobe edit.  Check out the wardrobe essentials at the bottom of that post and see if you have or need any of those.  Make a list of the things you need to create your personal style and get ready to shop for it.

Every day, each one of us makes a lot of decisions.  Get out of bed?  Coffee or not?  Buy the shoes?  The list of questions and your decisions can go on to infinity if we let it.  We also make a lot of important decisions that have far reaching implications.  Those aren't done every day, and some are easy because we all have a set of values that define us and we make calm, largely unemotional decisions based on those.  Then, there are the other ones.  The decisions we make that are purely emotional.  The place where logic seems to have no influence and we can't seem to learn from past mistakes or even others and their downfalls.

I've seen a few of these bigger decisions go on around me in the last few months.  The decisions I saw were fueled by things like greed, narcissism, indifference, fear and stupidity.  Very few decisions were based in love, or kindness, or even whats right and wrong by the standards of society.  Some of the decisions I saw drastically lowered the respect I had for some or vanquished it completely, changed the way I live and work and sometimes saddened me greatly.

We've all have to make the decision between what is right, and what is easy.  Sometimes we have to look at a person we love and know it's time to walk away, for our own sake.  We have to know when we are entrusted to care for someone else, what the right thing is and do it, no matter what the cost to yourself.  We need to own our mistakes, and stop waiting for or expecting someone else to fix them.  We all have to know too that the decisions we make have led us to where we are.  If we are unhappy, only we can change it.

Today is election day in the US, and most of us are making a decision about who to vote for.  This isn't a political post, but an introspective one.  How do you deal with other peoples' decisions that affect you adversely, or worse, you know are morally wrong?  Maybe you've had the eye opening moment where you realized that you and you alone were responsible for your happiness and well-being.  What got you there and what did you do to better yourself?

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When you have kids, the saying is each day is something new.  I've found that to ring true from newborn to teenager.  Right now, our something new is getting used to CyberSchool.

The second minion is adapting a little faster.  His time management isn't great yet, but that's a learned skill and something we'll be working on through this week.  He only has to 'show up' for a few classes each day, and the rest of the time is his, to go at his pace, and accomplish things in whatever order he chooses.  Sometimes he chooses to daydream for an hour or so through history, so school can drag on a long time if he's not careful.

Minion #1 is a whole other scenario.  From what we can tell, he's not had to really work at school.  He's had an aide to do a lot of, as it seems, everything for him.  Right now we're working on thinking for ourselves instead of waiting, sometimes hours, for someone else to prompt him with ideas and thoughts.  I think if he can figure out how to play Skyward Sword and think his way through other video games, he can think his way through school work too.  Probably without someone to do it for him.  I know - shocking, isn't it?

This morning I got out my kitchen timer and dusted it off.  I haven't used it much since the days of potty training, but I figured we'd give it a try.  Granted, it will probably have the side effect of making them both need to run to the potty each time it dings, but they'll have to suffer until they learn to manage their time a bit better.

Normally by this time of the morning, I'm not sitting around with wet hair still, proctoring lessons.  I'm usually happily settled in my office chair, sipping some coffee and getting my day underway.  The last few weeks, I've been dealing with school(s), still working when and where I can and trying to keep up with a renovation, house work, the laundry monster and the usual other things that go on in every day lives.  Adding CyberSchool into an already busy schedule has been hard, I won't lie.  I can also say that's it's really been worth it to see the minions get back to enjoying school and enjoying learning.

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I'm always looking for new recipes that my kids will eat and won't make me sick.  That means it has to be gluten free, soy free, dairy free and free of most nightshades.  This week we tried a Mexican lasagna.  Super simple to make, this only took a few minutes to put together and a few more to bake.

Very, very yummy!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Things you'll need:

  • A baking dish
  • Tortillas (gf corn, about 10 of them)
  • Enchilada sauce (we used frontera green chile, 1 pouch)
  • Refried beans (fat free to keep them vegan, 1 can)
  • Black beans (low sodium, 1 can)
  • Mexican corn (because it has cute red and green pepper pieces in it, 1 can)
  • Onion (small, diced)
  • Garlic (2 cloves, diced)
  • Cheese (Daiya)
  • Olive oil

Optional goodies
We cubed half an avocado and added it to ours once it was plated

  1. In a pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and add in your garlic and onion.  Cook until they are translucent. Add in your black beans and corn to heat through.  
  2. While you're doing that, open the refried beans and heat them in microwave.  They just need to be warm enough to easily spread.
  3. Add some enchilada cause to the bottom of your baking dish.  If you don't your tortillas will burn and stick to the dish.  
  4. Put a layer of tortillas in the bottom of your dish, cutting them when needed to cover the entire bottom.
  5. Spread a thin layer of refried beans on the tortillas and add a layer of the onion/bean/corn mixture, about half of it.
  6. Top with another layer of tortillas and enchilada sauce, refried beans and the mixture from your pan.
  7. Add the top layer of tortillas and enchilada sauce then top with cheese.
  8. Put the dish in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  All you really need is for the flavors to mingle, everything to heat through and the cheese to melt.

I've been promising to write this post for a long time, but between bouts of being sick and this silly thing called my real job, it's slipped through the cracks.  This week though, I'm going to get around to at least part of it.

I'm ruthless in my closet editing.  I do it twice a year, in the spring and again during pumpkin spice latte season.  The first few times the King saw me do wardrobe edit he was both fascinated and horrified because it is a bit of a process, but a rewarding one.

You will need a few things to do your closet edit.  Get a bin or bag to designate for things you're going to donate, a bag for anything you're going to toss, and a bin for anything needing tailoring or cleaning.

The first thing you need to do is laundry.  Make sure it's all done and put away before you start this process.  Then, pick a section of your closet to start with and pull all of those clothes out of your closet.  Yes, take them all out of your closet.  Once you have them in a pile on your bed, try each piece on.  Have a bit of a fashion show if you want.  Let your significant other (or bff) weigh in on your items.

It gets to go back in the closet if and only if you can answer yes to all of these questions:

  • Do you love it?
  • Have you worn it in the last 6 months to a year?
  • Does it fit?
  • Does the color suit you?
  • Is it comfortable?
  • Is it in perfect condition? (if it needs tailored or cleaned, do that BEFORE sticking it back in the closet)
  • Is it still in style?
  • It is the only one (or two) like it you have?

Once you get though all of the clothing in your closet, don't forget your dresser drawers.  Do the same thing with those, take everything out and don't put it back unless it meets all the criteria.

Don't forget to edit your shoes.  I know this can hard, especially when things are getting pretty worn and you don't have something to replace it with yet.  However, there is no point in wearing shoes that don't fit, are uncomfortable, or looking like you've gone through a war with them.

Once you are satisfied with your edit, be sure you donate, toss or repair/clean the clothes that you've set aside.

I've also put together a list for some basics in your wardrobe.  I know everyone is different with their needs for a wardrobe.  What I need in Pennsyltucky is different than what someone in Florida will need, but that's ok.  These are guideline and suggestions, not rules you must follow or the fashion police will show up.

dark wash jeans
black trouser
dark neutral trouser
tweed trouser
velvet/chiffon/satin pants (something dressy)

cropped pants
linen pants

bold blouse
silk blouse
striped oxford shirt
crisp white shirt
black shirt
sparkly top
black tee (short and long sleeve)
white tee(short and long sleeve)
ruffled shirt
tanks and or camis in neutrals

black suit with skirt - pants too if you're lucky
wool skirt
cocktail skirt
summery skirt

Fitted jacket
pattern jacket
velvet jacket
leather jacket
denim jacket
black jacket (from your suit)

shirt dress
print dress
party dress

trench coat
wool coat

black flats
black heels
neutral flats
neutral heel
dress sandals
boots for casual and dress
winter boots if you need them for snow

Do not forget good bras and undies.  If you can tell you have a bra or underwear on, they're not fitting you properly.  If you've never had a bra fitting, have one done.  Many of the better department stores have specialists on staff to do that.  Don't feel like the 18 yr old at Vickies is your only hope.
They can also recommend foundation garments like spanx if you need them.  Sometimes the industrial strength hose or spanx make all the difference between looking fabulous and looking frumpy so don't rule them out.  Even at a size 2, I own some.

Next week I'll be posting photos of my paired down closet, and how to figure out what what colors are best for your coloring.  I'll also be creating a shopping list of needs of my own as an inspiration for you.  In the mean time, if you'd like a sneak peek of things I want you can check out my pinterest board.
I don't know about all of you, but as Pumpkin Spice Latte season comes into full swing I really enjoy the crisp mornings.  The bit of nip in the air and the way it makes the leaves smell is nearly intoxicating.  This morning I decided on either a skirt or a dress, mostly because I wanted to wear my boots.  We all have a few go to pieces in our closets.  The black boots are one of mine.

I've also been playing around with color a little more of late.  I'm enjoying putting things together I normally wouldn't and stretching the things I already own a little more.  What you aren't going to find me doing is putting patterns together.  Trendy or not, it just looks like a toddler dressed you.  Another trending thing you won't see me in, over sized anything.  I'm small, so it looks like I'm playing dress up.  You also won't see me in pants and jackets in matching prints.  Kind of like the idea on the over sized clothing, I have no desire to look like drapery or a sofa.  

One thing I will embrace is fur.  I feel a little bad wearing the real thing, so I'll stick with genuine chupacabra  (what I call any type of fake fur).  What I will also skip is animal prints in large doses.  A belt here, a scarf there, maybe even a bit on some shoes, fine.  A full blouse, dress and OMG a zebra coat, no.  Just no.

One of the funniest things I've found in the fall trends are peplums, and adding padding to the hips of the models.  Why don't you just use regular ladies for your models?  We all have plenty padded hips, thanks.  We don't need more padding to make your clothes look the way they should.

Chilly Fall Mornings

The above is what I'm wearing today.

What are all of you doing to stretch your closet and are you just as amused at clothing trends as I am?


Friends of ours had their 2nd baby early this morning, so Happy Birthday Ainsley!  I know where there are some cute jeggings and adorable shoes to go with the blinged out onesies that will make you look much more fabulous than the other babies in the nursery.  What?  This is a clothing post after all...

Unlike Ainsley, I won't be as blinged out.  I may wear a hat, but it won't be pink.  What I will be wearing is shown below.

A Day of Errands

My days have become a little less routine now that the boys have started cyber school, and my time at the office is shorter until the schedules are ironed out this week.  While I'm juggling that, I've also been prepping for a craft show this weekend, hence the errand running today.  I'm still in need of a sign for my booth and some round table cloths for my little tables.  I'm also making a few extra pieces of jewelry so I have plenty to show off.  

For any of you living in the area, this weekend the Make a Wish Foundation along with Concerns of Police Survivors are sponsoring Fall Fest at the Latimore Valley Fair Grounds.  Come out and show your support for both causes, and stop by my spot and buy something!  Below are a few of my pieces that will be for sale.

Knotty Love Earrings

Moonlight Sonata Bracelet

Nuts For You Necklace

Unnamed as yet Earrings


I'm very eclectic in my music tastes.  I like a bit of everything, some classical, a lot of old jazz, Patsy Cline, folk music, Matt Nathanson and even some harder stuff from bands like 3 Days Grace, Stone Sour and Godsmack.  There isn't a genre that I really hate so picking out just two songs is challenging for me.
Very challenging.  

What I have noticed is that I tend to really get attached to pieces that are evocative.  Things that have underlying meaning (to me), or a lot of soul to them.  Songs like Stone Sour's Hesitate, Papa Roach's Scars, or Linkin Park's Iridescent are always on my playlists.  One of my favorites and always will be though is Fuel, before they decided on getting a new front man.  Bad idea Fuel, bad, bad idea.

As I was flipping through the rest of my music I came across songs like Tonic's If You Could Only See, Vertical Horizon's Forever, Adele's cover of Lovesong, (The Cure's version is just as good), and Theory of A Deadman's Not Meant To Be.  I should also mention Chrostopher Cross' Sailing here, that song was played when I got married.  My current favorite 'love song' though is Matt Nathanson's Run.

Because it's my blog and I can do what I want, I'm adding one more.  My grandfather was a huge Patsy Cline fan, probably where I got my love for it, but she really does have a lovely voice.  Think Adele only an earlier version.

About this time during Pumpkin Spice Latte Season we are usually starting the hunt for costumes for the minions to trick or treat in.  The older one always choses some cool super hero while the younger one...well, he liked undead or mostly dead things.  This year, however the minions have decided they are a bit too old and are forgoing the experience to hand out goodies to the neighbors minions.  Some of those other minions should probably be given junior valium, but that is a tale for another time.  Today we're talking super heroes.

The king enjoys be likened to Tony Stark, AKA, Iron Man.  I can draw the similarities in a round about way.  He does have titanium in his body, he's nearly been electrocuted a time or two, set a few things on fire and then there was the incident with the dimmer switch... Anyway, when we think about the standard hero, comic book or movie variety they are nearly all created by men.  Granted some of them are pretty awesome.  I'm a fan of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, so thank you Joss.  Minion #1 loves him some Spider Man and Minion #2 is more than happy to watch the green guy Hulk out and smash things.

Did you ever wonder though, what we would get if women were to create super heroes?  Obviously I have, and put some thought into it too.  Think about all the things that we women could get accomplished if we had the help of super heroes to fight off the big bad laundry monsters, stacks of dishes ready to eat us alive and the dust bunnies from Planet X.

First hero I'd want to create is Dinner Dude.  He shows up right before dinner time and makes gourmet meals.  Granted he looks and sounds like a surfer/stoner but his brownies are to die for.  Oh, he even cleans up after himself before he leaves to save someone else from the evil perils of take out.

That's right,
slay those dishes!

I'd also want to see Laundry Guy!  He's down to his last pair of underwear and wearing them, and only them, while he saves you from your piles of dirty laundry that has been multiplying in the dark.

You can fight my laundry monster!

And then there is The Punisher.  Yes, I know there already is a Punisher, but he's just not what a girl needs.  No, we need someone that sniffs out lies and other forms of BS and calls shenanigans on the offending person, publicly.  Then because that's never enough, they say something like "No more BS from you!" and kick the offender down a well, Spartan Style.

I call shenanigans!
What about you?  Any super heroes you'd like to see show up to help you out?

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Pumpkin Spice Latte Season Fall has finally begun.  The days are getting shorter, the air crisper and there are pumpkins everywhere.  All of this suits me just fine.  I love layers, evenings by the fire and pumpkin anything.  Also means I don't have to slather myself in as much sunblock, for which my freckles are happy about.

This week's outfit is all about taking your current clothing and making it work for fall by adding a layer, some accessories, or making a different shoe choice.  So, as I was browsing through Pinterest the other day I came upon this beauty and realized I have most of these pieces.

Oh, Pinterest, I <3 you!

Here's the outfit I put together from my wardrobe, adding a few things to give it more of a fall look.

How cool is the mantle artwork?
I took some Old Navy perfect khaki's and tucked them into my heeled Aldo boots in cordovan leather.
A coral ruffle edged wrap blouse from Van Heusen and Banana Republic scarf are layered in under the denim jacket.  A pair of diamond hoops are the only jewelry I'm wearing today.  Sometimes simple is better.

Today is all about books, four of them to be exact.  I'm a book addict.  I read voraciously, two, three, sometimes four books at a time.  It's a sickness and I admit to it.

Books are amazing things.  They can teach you about things you never knew existed, or take you to far off lands to meet exciting people.  Sometimes boring people too, but we just set those books aside and pick up something else.  I've had a number of stories really resonate with me.  Sometimes the characters found a place in my heart and at the end I was sad to see them go.  Sometimes the places were lands I wanted to explore.  Sometimes, the story line was fantastical and even knowing the impossibility of it, you want to be a part of it.

Most of my favorites are parts of a series.  I guess I just don't like things to end too quickly.  That said, the Dragonlance series is on my list.  It's also the only fantasy series that will grace this list.  There are rangers, and dwarves and barbarians, a kender who accidentally ends up with 'stolen' items in his possession all the time and a mage or two.  The characters are fabulously written, the story is engaging and even 20 years later I can distinctly recall a scene where one character, wielding a frying pan, put the beatdown on a few of the bad guys of the book.  Makes me chuckle to this day.

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Last of the Mohicans.  I've read the book.  The language is old and tired and the story isn't quite as engaging unless you're a twelve year old boy from 1870.  Then, it would probably be much cooler. Sara Donati decided she would write something to continue on from the movie.  What she wrote spanned six books starting with Into the Wilderness.  I'll admit to reading the series from start to finish, twice.

Diana Gabaldon is a big name in (as her website states)" Literature, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical NON-fiction (really.  Well, they are very accurate), Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Military History (no, honest), Gay and Lesbian Fiction, and…Horror."   She isn't kidding.  That does sum up her books rather nicely.  Seven books, two companion books, another four books about one of the characters in the main series, a few novellas and an eighth book in the series currently being written says something.  Mostly, that she's busy, but also that it's very good.  I'm not even going to say more about this story then this:  if you haven't read it, pick it up.  I'm betting you won't put it down.

Lastly, and because of the number of times I read this over a two maybe a three year period, every night, sometimes more than once a night, is How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight.  I don't know how many times I said the words "Does a dinosaur stomp his feet on the floor and shout, 'I WANNA HEAR ONE BOOK MORE!'  Does a dinosaur ROAR?!  ... No, Dinosaurs don't, they don't even try.  They give a big kiss, they turn out the light.  They tuck in their tails and whisper 'good night'."  It was a well treasured routine by my minion and I, and now that I'm thinking about it, I miss it a little more now that he's 11.

That's my list.  I hope it gives you an idea for something new to read!

P.S. for those of you wondering, yes I've read A Song of Ice and Fire, and still am.  Sadly, most people are choosing to watch it rather than read it and they are missing a great deal.  All I can say is do yourself a favor, never watch a movie of a book before you've read it.  You do yourself a disservice by letting someone else tell you how things and people should look and be interpreted.  You have a brain...use it!