Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm Preparing for Hurrincane Sandy

In case you haven't heard, there's a behemoth storm headed to the east coast. Unfortunately, my family and I are among the millions of east coast residents that live in its path.

Now you know meteorologists have been wrong before and generally, I'm not an alarmist as my husband reminded me of earlier today, but what if they're right this time. We are fortunate that we don't live in a flood zone, but the news keeps talking about the possibility of vast power outages for up to several days, even after the storm is over. And that is what makes me nervous.

So, I spent the afternoon getting some things organized just in case Sandy becomes the superstorm that is predicted.

First, I put a call out on the FBS Facebook page for ideas on the food that I should stock up on in case we lose power. I received  a lot of ideas and I headed out to the store for bread, canned tuna and chicken, apples, and breakfast bars. I already have plenty of snacks, peanut butter, and nuts.

Next, I filled up all of my pitchers with water from our reverse osmosis system for drinking.

I also filled up plastic containers with water and placed in both of my freezers to make ice. If we have a lengthy power outage, I'm at risk to lose a lot of food, so hopefully by filling my freezer with ice, I'll avoid the food thawing out and spoiling.

Fortunately I haven't emptied the rain barrel for the winter yet, so we'll use that water to flow the toilets if needed.

Even though my husband thinks I might be taking this all a bit overboard, he did pull together all of our flashlights and checked for batteries. He also took down the umbrellas and cleaned up the back patio.

If we find ourselves without electric after the storm ends, we do have our gas grill with a full extra canister to cook food.

My to-do list for Sunday before the storm begins includes laundry, baking, cleaning out the refrigerator, filling the cars up with gas, checking on our neighbors, and praying that Sandy turns back out to the Atlantic.

Are you in Hurricane Sandy's path? How are you preparing? Do you have any tips for emergency preparations? Let us know in the comments.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Surviving the Holidays

Holy Moly, Christmas is 2 months from today.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

These next two months can be a very stressful time of year for people. The pressure to not eat too much, not spend too much, buy the right gift, spend time with extended family, and hope that our jeans still fit on January 2 can send some people over the edge. Me included.

Shopping for Christmas gifts always causes me the most stress. I'm not one to think about it much through out the year and I don't really get started until Thanksgiving.

I hate the rushed feeling that is about to come over me in a few weeks. I want to avoid the over-whelming crowds, enjoy the festivities with my family and friends, and remember why my family and I celebrate the season. I don't want to blindly gain 10 pounds, spend more money than we have budgeted, and head into 2013 without realizing how truly blessed I am.

This year, I'm hoping that with more thoughtful planning I can reduce the hustle and bustle and truly enjoy this season.

I'll be sharing my strategies over the next 8 weeks. I hope you'll join me!

What causes you the most stress during the holidays? Let us know in the comments.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

I Achieved at Least One 2012 Goal

Back in January of this year, I made a bold list of personal goals. Today, I'm happy to report that this past weekend, I achieved one of those goals. In January, I committed to running two half marathons this year. This past weekend, I ran my second one in Hershey, PA. Mission accomplished!

Side note...we won't get into the status of the other goals, that is not important at this time...

Back in 2011, I made a goal to run a half marathon. Actually I think it was my only goal for 2011. Anyway, I ran the Hershey Half Marathon in October 2011 and I was immediately smitten with the distance. I had a blast, which I realize is a completely ridiculous statement to say about 13.1 miles. But I had such a good experience that in 2012, I made a goal to run TWO half marathons.

In May 2012, I ran my first one for the year, the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. We had an awesome weekend exploring the city and my kids were pretty much convinced that our family should move into a hotel. They were in awe that someone other than themselves made the beds, replaced the towels, and tidied up the room in the morning. The hotel also offered popcorn, lemonade, and cookies in the afternoons. My kids were in heaven.

Anyway, the race was expansive with 25,000 runners and it weaved us across bridges and through the Pittsburgh neighborhoods where the residents cheered us along. It was a hot, but gorgeous day and I beat my previous time by 2 minutes.

After that race, I continued with my training and signed up for the Hershey Half marathon to fulfill my goal.

At 6AM this past Sunday, October 21, I dragged my family out of bed and off to Hershey to run. The weather was brisk, but thankfully sunny. My legs felt good the entire race and at mile 10, I was on pace to beat my Pittsburgh time. At mile 11, I was overcome by a severe side cramp and I thought I was going to hurl Gatorade on the poor soul running next to me, but I suffered through the stitch (without hurling) and willed myself to the finish. The last mile was brutal, but I am happy to report that I beat my Pittsburgh time by 4 minutes with a time of 2:03. I was thrilled.

But I'm ready for a break. Except for three weeks in July when I took off to nurse my over-worked right hip, I have been running fairly consistently since January 2012.  The 5:45 AM training runs have been getting harder to make now that it is darker and colder in the morning. My bed calls out to me, "it's warmer under the covers." And now I can listen. Aside from the Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning, I'm going to take the rest of this year off from running. I'll do some other form of exercise, like Pilates or Yoga, but I'm hanging my running shoes up until January.

And I'm okay with that, because I achieved a goal that I wasn't so sure I could accomplish back in January. Mission accomplished!

Where else, but Hershey, PA, can you hang out with candy bars?

What 2012 goals have you accomplished? Let us know in the comments.

This post is linked to Motivation Monday at A Life in Balance.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Celebrating Your Season

Have you heard people talk about their 'season' of life? "It's the season I'm in right now" can be over-heard from a new mom, to a seasoned mom of teenagers, to an empty-nester. Everyone has a season.

It wasn't until I had kids that I heard people talk about their 'season of life'. Although, maybe I was just oblivious to such conversations prior to when mommy brain took over.

When I opened up this space 4 years ago, I was a mother to a 3 year old and an infant. I vaguely remember that person. I was nursing a babe, had two kids in diapers, and prayed I didn't smell of breast milk when my husband came home from work.

Out of nowhere, September 2012 arrived. Like a bang. Our oldest daughter entered first grade. Our life is now dictated by a school schedule; the bus stop,  math homework, reading assignments, teacher conferences, soccer practice, church clubs, swimming lessons, lunch menus, packed lunches, school fundraisers, tissue toss...don't ask, sign this paper, library books, blah, blah, blah.

I'm no longer a stay-at-home mom. I'm working part-time outside of the home, 3 days a week, while our 4 year old attends pre-K. I find myself longing for those once bewildering days of infancy and toddler-hood. If I could only squeeze those chubby little baby thighs just one more time. But that's not my season anymore.

This is.

The past two months since school started has been eye-opening to me. Life is very rushed during the week now and I feel like it's not going to slow down until June 2028 when our youngest graduates from high school.

 Somehow, some way, I need to navigate through these new waters without feeling overwhelmed and with my family's way of life intact.

I don't want to wish this season away. Instead, I need to take a deep breath and enjoy it. Celebrate math page at a time.

What season of life are you in now? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Pulled Pork BBQ in the Slow Cooker

I've found that most store-bought BBQ sauces include high fructose corn syrup. Since I try to limit our consumption of HFCS, I prefer to make my own BBQ sauce.  I found this recipe years ago on the back of a molasses jar, although, I've altered it slightly. This sauce tasty, super easy, and the ingredients are most likely in your kitchen. And since I only buy ketchup that doesn't include HFCS, this sauce in HFCS-free.

Pulled Pork BBQ in the Slow Cooker

Adapted from Grandma's Molasses


  • 2 -3 lbs pork shoulder, fat removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced


1. Place the pork shoulder in the crock pot.
2. Combine the molasses, honey, ketchup, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire, and garlic. Mix in the onions.
3. Pour mixture over the pork.
4. Cook on low for 7 - 8 hours.
5. Remove pork from slow cooker and shred with 2 forks, add back to the crock pot, and mix with the sauce.
6. Serve on your favorite roll and Enjoy!

Kitchen Shortcut - Mix together the sauce and onions together the night before for easy morning prep.

You might also enjoy Pulled Chicken BBQ.

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This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Every year, daddy and the girls carve a pumpkin or two. Instead of throwing the seeds into the compost, I roast them up for a fun snack.

It's super easy and the flavor variations are endless.

How to Roast Pumpkin (and other fall squash) Seeds

1. Remove seeds from pumpkin or squash.

2. Rinse the seeds and remove any remaining pulp. I'm not going to lie, it is the most tedious job to remove the pulp. Do the best you can and it's okay if some pulp is left.

3. Coat the seeds with olive oil or melted butter and your favorite seasonings. This is pure personal preference or whatever you have in your pantry. It can be as simple as salt and pepper to spicy as red pepper flakes and chili powder and/or everything in between. I recently used Lawry's seasoning salt and the seeds were quite good.

4. Spread the seeds out on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Stir the seeds half way through baking.

5. Remove from oven and cool completely. Enjoy!

Did you know that you can roast other fall squash seeds, such as butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and just about anything in the fall squash family?

Do you roast fall squash seeds? What are you favorite seasonings to use? Let us know in the comments.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Does Your Life Seem Really Crazy Too?

Ever since school started, life at our home has been at a frenetic pace. Homework, soccer, field trips, work projects, meetings, birthday parties, blah, blah, blah.

I start my day at 5:45am with a run, speed through the day with work, chauffering kids, and housework, and then collapse into bed at 10pm exhausted from my day. My pillow has never felt so good.

I was excited about the fall routine and quite frankly our schedule is going smoothly, but we have little time during the week where something isn't planned.

Today, I have a reprieve.  I received a call from the school nurse this morning that our oldest daughter wasn't feeling well.

She's now in her jammies and wrapped in her blanket on the couch watching some TV.

I'm nestled nearby catering to her needs and catching up on my email and writing this post.

I think we're both happy for the time-out.

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