Sometimes you see something on Pinterest and you think, hey I have something close to that! There's a new outfit for me to try. If you're anything like me you're always looking for new ways to mix and match your older things to have them look like a new outfit.

This week I'm showing my inspiration outfit as well as what I'm actually wearing today.

Blue and Orange

Inspiration Outfit

And what I'm actually wearing is this:

The nearly fall no make up look

Jacket - Old Navy
Blouse - Target
Trousers - H&M
Shoes - Kensie as in the above, but in a sand color like my jacket.
Jewelry - Fire & Ice, sapphires in silver (earrings, necklace and bracelet)

What did you wear today?

P.S. You can check out a few of my other outfit inspirations on Pinterest

I loved this idea so much I thought I'd follow along for the Tuesdays I'm not blogging about travel stuff.  This week is fears, and I know we all have a bunch of them.  Be sure to stop by  Lauren @ Life.Love.Lauren and her co-host Tiffany @ The Austin Family Diary to see what everyone else has to say about themselves.

Spiders.  I hate them and I fear them.  There isn't much that makes my skin crawl more than to see one of those hairy eight legged beasts crawling towards me.  What makes it worse is that we live in the woods and we have a few that are large enough they need to be sent back to their maker with the flat side of a shovel. *shudder*

That I'll get sick again.  The journey back from my personal hell of undiagnosed celiac disease, a host of food allergies and food intolerance is not something I ever want to experience again.  Ever.

Losing my boys.  In any shape or form.  I don't think there is a parent out there that wouldn't agree that the loss of a child is the most heart wrenching thing they could ever go through.  I have a healthy fear of facing that again.

Failure.  I know this is a conditioned behavior left over from childhood, but it's still a fear.  I was taught from the time I could remember that even if something was good, unless it was perfect it wasn't good enough.  That spanned across all areas of my life and into adulthood.  It's also something I hope I never pass on to my kids.

Breaking my kids.  As a parent you do your best, you learn from your mistakes and you learn a lot from your kids too.  I can remember a lot of times thinking, great, I've probably just broken my kid from some of the ways I've or we've handled things as parents.  Some of which we look back on now and laugh like idiots at ourselves.  Especially if we were channeling our parents at the time. (My King, I know you are reading this and recalling the incident where after yelling at minion #1 he said 'you're right' and all you had was 'G-D Right, I'm Right!!!!' as you both stormed off)

Living a life filled with regrets about things not done. We all have have big dreams and plans when we're young and stupid.  Some we can filter out as silly dreams of youth, but some we chase for a long time.  I'm still chasing the dreams of travelling to far off lands and exotic places.

Being late, unprepared and generally unprofessional.  Strangely people get really upset with me when I point out if they are any of those things, so I must be the only one with this neurosis. 

Alienating my family.  I have very different views from most of my family.  I eat differently, speak differently, have a different religion, raise my kids with different rules and generally do everything different from them.  On the flip side of that, I have healthy, happy, well-adjusted and polite kids that I can take anywhere and I'm happy with who I am.  It's just that niggling fear that I'm not acceptable in their eyes.

And there you have it.  Those are my fears.

Things have been crazy around here the last few weeks, so blog posts have been sporadic at best.  One thing that hasn't though has been the fascination with Time 4 Learning.
The youngest has been at it sporadicly the oldest more frequently, without us really asking them to.  As school is starting up once again we'll be reviewing the syllabus' from the school and filling in with Time 4 Learning for extra review and bolstering the studies they have.

Through this week we'll be working through some of the material with them to see how much it's being retained and see how the quizzes go.

Next week I'll be asking the boys to write a little something about the process themselves.  We'll see what they have to say about it and if they're going to stick with it.  If any of you have questions for them, just et me know.  I'll have the minions do their best to answer them.
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The King and I decided that since my parents were stealing our children the last weekend before school starts again, we'd head off on a short adventure ourselves. What better place for a long weekend adventure than the city that never sleeps?
Waiting area of the Amtrak station, Harrisburg

The walk down to the train platform.  Same as it was in 1887.

We're lucky in that Amtrak offers train service between our little part of Pennsyltucky and the big apple, so we took the train. It's about 2 hours faster that way and considerably less worry some than trying to drive into the mad house that is NYC.

We left Friday morning and arrived just after lunch, checked in at our hotel, The Muse, one of the Klimpton properties, just off Times Square. The room was beautifully appointed and spacious for the city. The staff was pleasant and there was a wine reception each evening. What's to complain about there?

The rest of Friday we spent exploring the area and we slipped into Saks on 5th avenue so I could drool over the shoes. Needless to say I didn't feel the need to drop a paycheck into a pair of shoes, regardless of the red on the soles. We hit a few of the other big name flagship stores and ducked into the Lego store as well. They had a huge dragon made from a gazillion Legos that the king was mesmerized by. By Friday evening we both were starving and excited for dinner. We decided on a place called Nizza. They have a GF menu and are soy free. Their food was out of this world and I'll be posting my attempts with socca later this week. For those of you not aware of what socca is, is a type of flatbread made from garbanzo bean flour. It's yummy, filling and goes well with wine.

Dragon made of Legos!

Saturday dawned and we were off by late morning to head over to Hells Kitchen for the flea market. We had brunch at a quaint club spot and ooh'd over the waiters heeled platform boots. Yep, those babies had bigger heels than I wear. I was impressed. Right outside the club, the flea market began and while it wasn't as big as I hoped it made up for in kitsch and things you just don't see at home. I'd never really thought to shop for Versace at a flea market, yet they had it there.

The rest of the day we wandered about the city, window shopping and actual shopping at a few of the shops we don't have at home. One of the biggest trends I saw that I wasn't seeing at home is the amount of hardware on shoes and clothing. Everything has spikes on it. It didn't matter if it was a jacket, shirt, jeans or shoes, all of it had these silly spikes on it. All I can imagine is the number of ER visits this will cause with fashion induced injuries.

Cute mouse shoes, but imagine the damage they will do to your ankles.

Saturday night was a visit to a supper club called Swing 46. While they didn't have a specialized GF menu the staff made sure I had a safe, fabulous meal and incredible service. The band was great and the dancing was more than fun.
The King and I headed out for Dinner and Dancing
Crescent City Maulers at Swing 46.

I'm sitting in Penn Station as I write this, not quite ready to go home. It's been a fun adventure, a growth experience for those of us who hates cities, people, small spaces, smells... You get the idea here. Point being is that we both has fun and will do this again in some shape or form.

Anyone else sneak in a last minute getaway before getting back into the mom routine of school and lunches and driving and...?
In a neighboring kingdom, there is a queen who was in need of some minor surgery today.  We've heard from her king, and the quacks have given back her crown and she is regal once more.  However, this queen of the Keebler Elveses' wasn't sure the neighboring queen's scullery staff was up to snuff.  So I did what any neighboring Queen would do and launched an invasion and took over while the other royals were gone.  I mean, gathered my elves and we baked.  It's what we do.  We are some B.A.M.F. little elves in the kitchen.

On today's menu was a vegan shepherd's pie, (because the other queen is a vegetarian) and some muffins.  Banana chocolate chip muffins to be exact.  Yeah, they're as good as they sound.  I threw some extra magic and love in them today, apparently it's what make them taste so good..  At least that's the king's theory.  He's made them from the same recipe I do and they don't taste the same.  Seriously, it's a Scooby Doo kind of mystery.  Pretty sure Ernie Keebler is behind it all.  He just doesn't want anyone else to gain access to the Hollow tree bakery(which could be in one of the trees in our yard), so through some sort of black magic no one else can bake the same thing and have it taste the same in our house.

Anywho... on to the food.  I use a modified version of the Shepherds Pie from the lovely Karina, over at the Gluten Free Goddess.  I cut out the jalapenos, jam, sage, chili flakes, and cut down by half on the broth.  You can use any white beans you have on hand.  Today we used white kidney beans.  I also used red potatoes and I keep the skin on when I mash them.  I think it looks prettier that way.  Men think it looks like bacon, and hey, who am I to tell them different if they're going to eat veggies?

It's BACON!  No, but still yummy.

The yummy insides
The muffins are also a variation on Karina's goodies.  If you have anyone with a wheat or gluten issue in your life and haven't heard of the Gluten Free Goddess... seriously.  Go there now, you may send your thanks in the form of shoes, size 8 US or 38's if you're European.  The banana muffin recipe is modified thusly: I use applesauce in place of the oil, 2Tbsp flax and water for the eggs, no vinegar, I use Bob's Red Mill GF baking flour in place of the other flours and no salt.  If you have a stand mixer, whip it up on high for a bit at the end, the muffins will get a fluffy texture to them.  Enjoy life makes a chocolate chip free of allergens, for any of you with soy issues like me.  And if you don't have a whiny minion who hates nuts, walnuts go great in these.
My muffins bring all the boys to the yard...
Gluten free baking has a slightly different texture to it than what you're used to.  So don't be alarmed when your baked goods are denser, and not as big as you'd think they should be.

Me - I thought you'd be bigger.   Muffin - That's what she said.
Happy Friday!

This post comes with a disclaimer:
*Time4Learning has invited me to try their online curriculum for 30 days in exchange for an honest review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so come back and read about my experiences. Visit them for information about lesson planshomeschool portfolios or writing your own curriculum review.*

I don't know how the school system is where you are, but here in Pennsyltucky it's the same thing each year.  The kids go back to school before Labor Day, have a review of last year that lasts until about Christmas, then everything they learn from there on out is to do the best they can for PSSA testing.  That's the standardized test that determines how much funding the schools get.  The school even has little reviews and websites set up so the kids can 'study' for this test that has zero impact on their grades.  It makes me a little crazy how the schools think this is acceptable.

I understand that the school wants the kids to do as well as they can so they stay adequately funded.  But, as a parent, I start to wonder if the school is serving the needs of the students, or itself more.  I also look at the other nations on this planet and see how far behind we are with education.  It's truly sad that in some subjects we are lower than even developing nations.

I started doing some research on different curriculum and what can be used for after school to bolster what is being taught as well as in the summers so they don't forget things they've learned.  I also wanted something to give them the option of moving ahead in some subjects but not others.  I had a fairly tall list and what I found was that time4learning filled them all.

We'll be trying it out for a month and I'll be posting a quick review each week, then a final review from my boys to see what they think of it as well.  With one child being autistic it should be interesting to see how it goes and if they can stay focused on it, or like it enough to want to do it.

If you're using something else with your kids, let me know!  Right now we're just starting to explore our options.
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This evening, the King and I went to another fun little class.  It was glass fusing this time.  Not quite as much fun as having a few thousand degrees of fire to play with, but still fun.  

We learned how to cut glass with a pistol grip glass cutter (very carefully and slowly).  And then how to break it off correctly without cutting ourselves.  Very helpful for the King.  I wasn't going to leave class to drive his butt to the ER for stitches.  

Carefully cutting out the shapes for the pendants.

Then we learned about using different types of glass to fuse.  Using the different varieties we had available to us, confetti, sticks, opaque and dichroic we proceeded to make ourselves each two pendants.  The King chose to make some rather manly things.  One should turn out looking like glassy rock and the other a neato abstract piece.  I went a wee bit more girly.

Like you didn't know I wouldn't do a dragonfly?

These took a bit of patience and a set of tile nippers to do.  Most of the glass pieces are smaller than a pinkie nail and the thickness of a toothpick.   Once we had everything in place and were ready to say done, you spray them with liquid hairspray (adhesive) and put a clear glass piece over it.

They will spend about 24 hours in a kiln and bake around 1400 degrees.  We can pick them up on Wednesday, so I'll be sure to post all the finished products next week.

What did you make this week?

This has been a crazy hectic week so far. I think it only gets worse from here so the post is short and mostly sweet. Outfits are polyvore this week.

It's also very hot and humid this week so I'm going with a lot of light airy cottons.  Typically I take sweaters or cardigans with me to work to combat the air-conditioning the guys adore so much.  I prefer things temperate, they like it arctic.  We compromise and I wear sweaters.

This week's work outfits
Cool and Comfy

I spent my day Sunday luxuriating the day away in bed, napping and watching tv.  In between the napping, I was also reminding myself that eggplant is bad for me, with a capital B.  The nightshade family generally is, and I generally avoid it like a zombie plague.  But as with any food intolerance you feel the need to check it from time to time.  Turns out, still horridly intolerant to it.

Anyway, the nice part of the day was Netflix, providing me with episode after episode of things to mostly nap to.  Yesterday I chose a program from Animal Planet called The Haunted.  Thoroughly amused at how many of the stories took place in Pennsyltucky, or nearby I thought I'd relate a story of my own today.

This story doesn't start out with a long time ago, or in a galaxy far, far away.  It starts about 6 years ago in Mechanicsburg.  Just down the street from the old stone house on Trindle Road.  We rented a building there that at one time was a two story wooden farm house.  Cute place, wide front porch and had hosted a number of businesses over the years both retail and office.  None of which stayed overly long, but I didn't think much of it at the time.

Cute old house isn't it?

So, after we had gotten the keys and the OK from the owner I started repainting a few of the rooms colors we preferred and hired my dad to do some minor reno work to the stairs.  As I was painting I would hear someone coming and going downstairs, foot steps, doors, the usual noises of people.  At the time I figured it was the building owner or my dad coming in to check dimensions on something before buying supplies that day, but when I had asked them, neither had been there.  I didn't think much of it, the place was old, creaky and it was probably my imagination.

We got all of our things moved in, set up and started working.  There were 4 of us in and out through the day and one day while all of us were there we heard the footsteps, doors opening and closing and some people talking.  Again, we all sort of shrugged and went back to work.  Curious, though we spoke with the building owner and they hadn't been there.

This continued for a few months.  It was nothing to hear what you thought was someone coming into the building, walking around, and hearing a conversation.  Then on checking, there was no one there.  What wasn't in the range of 'normal' was the basement door.  We started hearing it open and slam shut.  Now that would also be no big deal, but it had some sort of latch and was locked.  The we started finding it open from time to time.  We'd close it, latch it and lock it back up just to come in the next morning and go through the process all over again.

While all of this is decidedly strange, nothing ever really "happened".  None of our things were moved.  Nothing was ever damaged.  Our equipment didn't malfunction, nothing.  We just heard noises and had a door that didn't like to be closed.  What we also had were a few employees that weren't so comfortable with the situation and we too moved on fairly quickly.

All in all it makes for a good story as long as we don't tell it in front of the one employee that got so creeped out by it.  To this day he still wants nothing to do with recalling all the stuff that went down or talking about it.

P.S. If you run into the King today and he tells you I threw the hot iron at him, he LIES!  

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This coming back from vacation thing has made my week all askew.  Add a little family drama, a birthday party, some stupid medical company drama (the pacer machine showed up today - it only took since April) and a little bit of me getting sick off something some time last week and you get a tired, cranky me.

So instead of talking about food today, which I just want to give up on and never look at again, I'm hooking up with My Little Life and doing 5 question Friday.  

1What is a must in a hotel room?
A duvet that's been freshly washed, white sheets and a nice tub.  I also require a small fridge and microwave since I can't eat the breakfast that most hotels serve due to allergies.

2. Which Olympic event would you be best at? 

Wine drinking.  Oh, that's not an event?  What about putting together an amazing wardrobe from thrift store finds?  Also not an event?  Well crap.

Once upon a time I played softball, so I'd want to give that a whirl.

I would also like to take this time to ask the Olympic Committee to consider adding wine drinking as an event for 2016.  I would drink some wine like a Boss for that.

3. What's your stance on the Chick-fil-A subject?

Why is this a subject?  Seriously.   That sandwich and fries are gonna go straight to your ass anyway.  There are much bigger issues in this world, pick one and shut up about Chick-fil-A already before I have to quit Facebook.

Just kidding Facebook - I can't quit you.

4. One thing you said you'd never do as a parent, but totally have.

Be as strict with my kids as my parents were.  I couldn't ever do ANYTHING.  Thanks Mom & Dad!  It was the best thing you probably did. 

It's probably the best thing we've done as well.  We have well mannered and well behaved minions who we can take anywhere because of it.

5. What's the weirdest thing you've ever found at a yard sale?

Yard sales in Pennsyltucky are a strange thing.  I've seen everything from stuffed wildlife and not wildlife (jackalope) to adult diapers and potty chairs.  I think the oddest thing I saw though was a jar of teeth and some other unidentifiable debris of dubious origin.  I still hope it wasn't human.

Happy Friday everyone!

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Normally I do tutorials of some variety or another on Thursday.  It's been one of those weeks, so I'm doing something different today, and that's Ok.

So...it's Ok...

that I'm not very happy with my uncle right now.  IMO he's a total self serving turd, for what he's doing to my grandmother because he's more interested in her money than her well-being.

that I'm going to take this weekend and do something that's really just for me.

that all I really want today is to go back to bed and not wake up until the weekend.

that I love Pinterest like a fat kid loves cake.  Mmmmm....cake.

that I routinely fall asleep to documentaries on Netflix.

that I giggle every time I drive past the McCracken dental office down the street, and say "Release the McCracken!!"  (in my head, mostly).

that I'm VERY angry at mednet, the company contracted to do the pacemaker checks on Minion #1's pacemaker.  They have yet to send us a machine to do the remote checking even through they have been promising since April to do so.

that's I'm getting impatient for series 2 of Downton Abbey on Netflix - even if the king does refer to it as Downtown Abbey, as though it's a reality show about a hooker.

that I really do think that most days are a waste of a good outfit and the 5 minute makeup job I did that morning.

that I have a warped sense of humor.  For example:

I hope you sing it all day!

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Minion #2 wanted a T-Rex cake for his birthday.  Yeah, riiiiight.  How does one make a T-Rex cake?  I still have no idea and I wracked my brain for a few days trying to figure something out that wouldn't look just hideous by the time I gave up.  
It took a small amount of convincing, but the idea of a volcano cake was pressed upon minion #2.  I had to explain that he could put dinosaurs on it.  There would be smoke and it would light up.  Then he informed me that it had to be chocolate cake with peanut butter icing too.  I swear the kid should work for kitchen impossible.
So, I decided that we could make Mt. Wanna-Hock-A-Loogie from a bundt cake and a freezable ball canning jar.  You'll also need an ionizer, preferably one with LEDs.  I have one from a Halloween decoration, came in a cauldron.  If you can get one of those (find the Christmas stuff in stores, it will be right next to it) you'll be golden.

First thing you want to do is prepare the fondant.  This is much easier than you'd think.  Take one bag of marshmallows, 1 tsp of vanilla and 4 Tbsp of water and nuke them in a glass bowl for about a minute or until the marshmallow starts to get melty.  Dump that whole glop in the Kitchen Aid (don't have one - seriously, get one.  You'll want to run away to Vegas with it) and using the dough hook attachment start mixing it slowly.  Add 2 lbs of confectioners sugar to it.  SLOWLY.  If you don't you will be covered in it.  Just trust me on this one.  Every now and again you'll need to scrape down the sides with a spatula so all the sugar is mixed in.  It does take a bit so don't get impatient.

When that's all mixed in, smear some butter on your hands.  You'll be covered in the stickiest substance known to man otherwise.  Divide your fondant into two halves, wrap it up in cling film and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.

We used a Pamela's chocolate cake, omitting the eggs and using the flax meal alternative.  Bake it according to directions plus the extra time it takes for a bundt cake and you're certain you're burning the darn thing.  Cool it on a rack.

Once it's cool put it on a 12" cake plate or cardboard circle.  Insert the canning jar in the middle. Set aside.

Chocolate bundt cake and Ball jar
Get the fondant out of the fridge about 3 hours before you plan on working with it so it comes back up to room temp.  Also, get some butter (or spread, or whatever you use, about 1/4 stick) and let it warm a tad.  You're going to want to coat your hands in it from time to time so it doesn't have to be squishy.  To make your life easier, get a fondant roller and a sheet of plastic to roll it out on.  Have powdered sugar to dust it with.

Insert your ionizer into the ball jar and secure the cord.

The first half of the fondant you're going to tint football brown.  Get the gel colors, don't use the liquid. Work it into the fondant.  It takes some doing so be patient and get it even.  Then, dust it in cocoa powder to get it really brown if you're not satisfied.  Roll it out into a circle big enough to cover Mt. WannaHockALoogie and using the ball jar lid, cut a circle in the middle.  Fold it in half and half again then place it over the cake, unfolding it (kind of like how you put a pie crust on) and smooth it down.  Keep in mind you're making a mountain, so bumps and folds are no big deal.

Starting to take shape
The second half of the fondant cut into thirds.  Tint one red, one orange and one yellow.  I used Red, no taste and Lemon Yellow gels.  Mixing the two for a shade of orange.  Roll them out one color at a time and cut them using a pastry cutter into something resembling lava flows.  You adhere fondant to fondant with water.  So just keep a small dish with water in it handy and dip your fingers as needed.  I started with red and made sure to cover the edge of my jar.

Rawr!  Lava!
Do the same with the orange and yellow.  Again, this doesn't have to be perfect, it's supposed to be lava, so you're going to have glops and such.
Pretty Colors
Add in a few dinosaurs, and some trees.  Make your volcano look a bit more 'natural'.

It's my volcanic island!

The longer you let the ionizer on, the more your lava will start to melt, and look real.  You can see a bit of the shine from the mist there.  After about an hour it looked really cool.  Minion #2 loved the effect.  He was pretty sure he is the only kid ever to have a smoking volcano cake!