In between overdoing it

Archive for August, 2015

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Making Decision in your Heart

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Decisions, Decisions.”

Five years ago today at 10:26 am my almost 9 pound baby boy came into the world. It seems interesting to me that todays prompt was about decisions. The decisions to have a second child didn’t feel like a decision at all. It felt like a need in me. My son was already formed in my mind’s eye before I was even pregnant.

For me, I felt the decision long before I actually made the decision. At the time, it was only a feeling, a part of me that dreamed of this other baby in my life. Did I know he would look like me? No. Did I know he would be a ball of energy that people are drawn to like the sun? Nope. Did I know that he would capture my heart in a completely new and different way. Not at all. All I knew was that I made a decision within me that he would be.baby-1488175

In order to have a second child however, a cascade of other decisions had to come first. Would I be able to sell my small home and get one that would accommodate my growing family? Would I remain in good health and have a successful pregnancy? Would I be able to take the time off of work? Would my family and my daughter be ok with the new addition? How would our life change?

But the main decision was one I had already made in my heart. In my heart, I knew everything would work out… it would all fall into place. Things would come together to make my boy, my Jack, a reality, a gift from God.

In truth, I know the decision was not solely mine. It was with the blessing of another. (If your not religious insert whatever entity you believe in here) As much as I would will it. I know ultimately, it was Gods decision. I was given a gift, decided by a higher power, confirmed in my heart.

I have been blessed to have my little buddy, to watch him grow over the past five years. My son has given my a new perspective on things. To not take things so serious and emotional. To have more fun. His boundless energy has helped me to achieve more and make the decision to find more joy in everyday. Just like he does.

We make decisions large and small everyday. But sometimes it is good to realize some decisions we make in our hearts before we know it and some are really made for us. Having my son was one of the best “decisions” I have ever been lucky enough to make.

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Nana’s Eggplant Parmagiana

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Yesterday I did something I have never done before. A live Periscope with my mom. We did it in a silly cooking show format but I asked her some questions that reminded her of my grandmother, my dad and growing up an Italian in New York.

The cool thing was I got to involve my sister, who was several States away in New York. She got to see my mom and my kids, in real time, in the moment. It was kind of like a Skype, but with an audience. My mom had a blast and my sister seemed to really enjoy the live connection.

I just marvel at the way technology can bring people together. This is something I experience daily on this blog. Like Dream Big, Dream Often who hosts a Meet and Greet each weekend so other bloggers can connect thru him, and Howto$tuffyourPig, who always gives such positive feedback and helpful posts. People from all over giving encouragement and support to complete strangers. It gives you hope for our world.

Anyway, here is the Eggplant Parmagiana recipe me and mom made yesterday.wpid-20150829_154317-1-1.jpg

About 3 small to medium eggplants (According to mom you will want to find ones that feel light. The heavier ones have more seeds)

3-4 eggs depending on the amount the eggplant yields

2 cups breadcrumbs

1 cup of flour

olive oil for pan frying

1 jar or 24 oz of sauce, store bought or homemade

sliced mozzarella cheese (can use shredding but I prefer slices) about 8 oz

About 1/2 cup shredding parmesan cheese

You can also add in provolone if you prefer (I didn’t have it on hand so I left it out)

Spray a 9x 13 pan with cooking spray, Slice eggplant in to about 1/2 inch think slices.

Part 1: The Salting

Place slices on a cookie sheet. Salt the slices liberally then let them sit there for about an hour. This is a step that I saw from Alex Guarnaschelli’s tutorial on Food Network. It draws out some of the water and with it some of the bitterness of the eggplant. You don’t have to do this step, my mom never did. However, I feel it makes a world of difference in the texture of the eggplant after frying. It helps to keep it crispy and not soggy.

Part 2: The Dredge

This is a pretty typical breading dredge that can be used for many different things. Place flour, eggs and breadcrumbs each in separate containers shallow enough to move the eggplant in.  My mom advises to add about a tbsp. of water to the eggs and beat them. She said it helps to extend the eggs and make them a little more viscous. If you have not purchased pre-seasoned breadcrumbs be sure to season them with salt and pepper or Italian seasoning. Also lightly season the flour as well. Then take a slice of eggplant dip it into the flour, then the egg, then place it in the breadcrumbs and lightly tap off the excess. Place them on a separate sheet pan to await frying.

Part 3: The Fry

In a non stick pan set at medium high heat, place about 1/2 cup olive oil. Once the surface is shimmering place eggplant in to fry for about 4-5 minutes, then flip. You will have to add about another 1/4 to 1/2 a cup or oil with each new batch of eggplant. Once fried move fried pieces onto a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to drain some of the oil while they cool.

Part 4: The Assemble

In your 9×13 pan place about 1/2 of sauce on bottom. Then layer eggplant, cheese’s and more sauce. Continue until all eggplant is gone or no more can fit in the pan. Try to end with cheese.  Pop it in the oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Part 5: Enjoy!

Every Dollar Review – Summary Review

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This week I am giving my finally assessment of Every Dollar.com. For the most part it’s not bad. It is very bare bones and simple, easy to use budgeting system. It is also very intuitive. Since Dave Ramsey’s system is all about baby steps I think I will use them here.

Step 1 :You enter your expenses.

Step 2: Your enter your transactions

Step 3: Money spend in the transactions are taken away from the amount you had budgeted for that category.

Step 4: See how much you have left. If the number is zero. Stop spending.

Very simple and to the point. No extraneous information., No convoluted process to enter the information in. That is one of the things I like about the program. However, I have to say that having more then just a pie chart to analyze the data might have been nice.

One of the things I didn’t care was the excessive advertising. I get it, you want people to buy the paid program. There really was not enough of a glimpse into what you would get other than downloading bank statements. The Local Advisor section felt out of place to me and just seemed like more marketing. I don’t mine having a reminder that Every Dollar Plus is out there. I might even like to hear what it has to offer but I really did not seem to learn a lot about it from the pop up ads. They only got me annoyed.

The Baby Steps section was good. Since I am a fan of the Dave Ramsey plan I would have loved to see this section expanded. Maybe some tips from people who have used to plan to achieve financial freedom, or an expanded breakdown for each Baby Step. I used Dave Ramsey’s Gazelle paid budget program before. It features boards and discussion groups that I found made the program fun and motivation. If a scaled down version of that could be offered on Every Dollar, I think it would really enhance the program.

Unfortunately, that is about all I have to say about this program. It is streamline and easy to use but it was a little to sparse for me. I would have liked a bit more in regards to financial resources available to me. Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step plan is great and I had high hopes for this one. In my opinion it kind of missed the mark. By offered too little is its basic program I don’t think there would be much value in getting the Plus version, who’s only additional feature seemed to be downloading statements.

In the final month of my review of free online budgeting programs. I will take a look at the much acclaimed, Mint. Then I will close out the series with what I liked best and least with a compare and contrast review of all the programs.

That’s the way to give a comeback

This girl is not only beautiful on the outside, she is full of grace on the inside. I know I would have never been so poised and together had this comment come to me about my family. Saw this story on MSN.com and just had to share it. So happy to find young adults like this that my daughter can look up to as a role model.

Picture from BangShowBiz

Picture from BangShowBiz

Zendaya Coleman has defended her parents against Twitter trolls who called them ugly.

The 18-year-old Disney starlet was left shocked after people made disparaging remarks about the appearance of her mother Claire Stoermer and father Kazembe Ajamu and in response she wrote a heartfelt message about how proud she is of her family.

One Twitter user originally shared a picture of the star with her parents and wrote: “they made a gorgeous a– child lol (sic)” and another replied saying: “her parents really ugly I really would cry (sic).”

But Zendaya hit back and tweeted: “First I’m gonna pray for you. While you’re so concerned about what my parents look like, please know that these are two of the most selfless people in the world. “They have chosen to spend their entire life, not worried about trivial things such as looks and insulting people’s parents on Twitter, but instead became educators who have dedicated their lives to teaching, cultivating and filling young shallow mind (one of the most important yet underpaid jobs we have).

“So please, log out, go to school, hug a teacher and read a textbook … and while you’re at it, go look in the mirror and know that you too are beautiful, because such hateful things only stem from internal struggles. Bless you.”

7 Reasons Why Hobbies Are Important to Living a Balanced Life

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Since I have been posting so much cake stuff lately I figured I should find a way to link it to the theme of this blog somehow. Then it occurred to me, we have work. We have family. We have bills and obligations that are part of daily life. What is equally important but often neglected is downtime. This is something, until recently, I never admitted that I needed. Everyone needs a hobby as a way to express themselves, blow of steam and escape.

Here are 7 reasons why hobbies are important to living a balanced life.

  1. They give you a creative outlet – In many cases we are not in a field where our creativity is utilized. It is important to have an outlet to express yourself creatively. Whether it’s cooking, writing, craft’s, your hobby gives you an opportunity to explore new parts of yourself.herb-and-pottery-1311169
  2. Hobbies give you “me” time – Sometimes it is just the need to get out of the house, away from the kids. The opportunity to lose yourself in something that you truly enjoy. A hobby gives you necessary “me” time to remove yourself from daily activities and take a needed break on your own.
  3. They give your mind a resting place to deal with emotions. –  When you  go for a long run, building a bench or are painting a picture, your mind is allowed to wander and contemplate something more then paying the light bill and what to make for dinner. Hobbie give you the opportunity to contempt your environment and the effect you have on it. For me I use scrapbooking to deal with the passage of time. I scrapbook to hold a moment of time and keep it forever on paper.
  4. They help you to define your likes and dislikes – Often times your hobbies will change with the seasons of your life. Things you found enjoyment in before might not appeal to you at another time in your life. Our hobbies can also reflect who we are. We can drift from one to another trying new ones until we hit on the ones we truly enjoy.
  5. They can create a community and a fellowship – Hobbies like team sport give you a group to be apart of working to achieve a team goal. Other hobbies also have groups or communities that get together to explore, teach and discuss there hobby with like-minded individuals.
  6. Hobbies can grow into something greater – Sometimes things that start off as a hobby, like blogging for instance, can turn into a business or book deal. Your hobbies can open doors that you might not have thought to explore otherwise. They can introduce you to great teachers and friends. Most businesses ideas start off as someone just tinkering around with a hobby. Many long lasting friendships begin with common interests.paint-brushes-1538532
  7.  They can help you find fulfillment – You are drawn to a hobby because it expresses a part of who you are. It gives you a piece of yourself that might otherwise be missing. For some, it might be the need to create. For others it might be a social outlet, for still others it could be community. Whatever the hobby may be,  we have a need, a longing in our souls. We seek out a hobby to fulfill that longing.

Cooking along with Happy Family Blog: I used up the last of my cereal!!!!

OK I know it’s a weird title but this whole post is very impromptu. Just made the “Cooking with Toddlers Cereal Bars” from the HappyFamilyBlog that I had posted earlier and they were a big hit. Unfortunately, my kids did not want to cook with me. However, this recipe was totally up my alley. I love recipes that use up last bits of pantry items, or  repurpose less well liked foods.

wpid-20150826_180908-1.jpgI have a tendency to make purchases at Target whenever I see a red sticker. This happens whether I need the items or not. A while back I made some of these purchases in the cereal aisle. Since I try to buy low sugar cereals these red sticker purchases did not go over to well with the family and have since been sitting in the pantry.

This recipe was the perfect way to transform these lack luster morning foods into a dessert-like non-wpid-20150826_181244-1.jpgbaked good. Plus I used up some of the items that have been crowding my pantry. I had some cookie spread that I found in the back of the pantry and this worked amazing in this recipe. To bump up the “healthy” factor I also added chia seeds and flax (Just don’t tell the kids.)

Strangely, this was not what I expected to blog about today, but I had so much fun doing it I want to do another cook along in the future. Let me know if you think a blog cook along is something that might interest you. Maybe we can make it a community thing.

Cooking with a Toddler: Cereal Bars

Really like the simplicity of this recipe will have to give it a try with all the leftover cereal I bought on sale.

Happy Family Blog

Bailey and I love bars. Everytime we got to a gas station she asked for a bar, monkey see monkey do. I researched at lot of different bar recipes. We learned an important lesson that you cannot skimp on the peanut butter or honey. We were short on honey on our first attempt so they turned more into granola and not a granola bar.

This recipe on Cookies and cups blogis my favorite not only because it is so simple, but it is so tasty. This was another recipe that Kurt and I almost ate all of while Bailey was sleeping.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter – we used smooth, but I would like to try with crunchy as well.
  • ½ cup honey or agave
  • 3 cups cereal – we did a combo of oats, multi-grain Cheerios and chocolate Cheerios.

Add ins – the options are endless.

  • Nuts –…

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