30 November 2013

Back-to-School Project

This year, I have been fortunate enough to work with an amazing group of people and be a part of a local Back-to-School Project through the Outreach Committee at my church in Methuen. The project was started a few years ago when two people from First Church, Congregational got together and joined forces with the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood, Inc. The project provides a complete back to school outfit, backpack and school supplies to 150 of Methuen’s students who are most in need of assistance.
The project is now in its third year and still going strong with the help of local businesses and people in the church and community, who are working together to make it a success. We were able to work with Old Navy and Payless Shoe to receive a significant discount on the clothing and shoes we needed to purchase for the project. Our partnerships with the Methuen School Faculty and Staff, the John Hancock Masonic Lodge, Lawrence General Hospital and Holy Family Hospital continue to flourish. Donations and support through these and other Methuen and Greater Lawrence businesses/organizations, as well as from generous private citizens and parishioners allows us to continue with this project each year.

Recipients Giving Back
This year we are offering the recipients an opportunity to experience the joy of giving. On Shopping Day, the volunteers will be helping the children with origami and craft projects to be mailed to Support our Troops.
Donate to the Back-to-School Clothes Project
You can help the children in our community who can’t afford the basic clothing and school supplies needed to start the school year off right. If you would like to make a donation, send your check, payable to the Back to School Clothes Project, to First Church, 26 Pleasant Street, Methuen MA 01844
If you are employed or a member of a professional organization that would like to get involved, please contact me at FirstChurchEvents@gmail.com for more information.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about this important outreach project in my community. Please share with others who may wish to get involved. I would love to hear about outreach projects going on in your community and how others are getting involved.

Boston Children's Museum - Target $1 night

After being rained out of our day time plans in Boston, we decided to take the kids to the Boston Children’s Museum and take advantage of $1 admission night courtesy of Target. Every Friday night from 5-9 Target sponsors $1 admission. As it was raining, we drove into Boston and parked at the lot across the street, which is $15 after 5. Not a bad price for anyone who knows how costly parking can be in the city. On a nice day, if I was looking for a cheaper parking option, I might drive around the area and find street parking or look into which T line to take.

If you’re thinking that it might not be worth dealing with the crowd due to the great price, I would think again. At least on the rainy days, the past two times we have gone, it really hasn’t been too crowded. Maybe because a lot of people take public transportation and don’t like to be walking in the rain.

The kids had a blast, which is important! We also saved a lot of money, which is necessary when you are working on a tight budget. Stay tuned for more posts on things to do with kids while saving money. I’d love to here your ideas of how you save money and still have fun with the family…leave me a comment below.

Just Your Average Day...

Every day seems to have something interesting going on when you have 3 & 5 year-old boys at home. One should be concerned about what they might flush down the toilet each time they are in the bathroom. They seem to think it is an indoor whirlpool that the toys want to swim down – according to my sons. The 3 year old has informed me that crumbs are supposed to be on the floor, so that his friends, the ants, have something to eat. Apparently making puddles on the floor in the bathroom, is so we can get fish and have plenty of places for them to swim.

Today, the 3 year-old decided that the vitamin water had a splinter.
Needless to say, their imaginations are in great shape and I don’t have to worry about having a boring day anytime soon. Now if only I could get them to do more of the cleaning of their own messes, it would allow me to keep up with the rest of the never-ending housework, like dishes and laundry.
I’d love to hear your stories of what “creative” things your kids get themselves into…leave me a comment below.

Learning to Focus...

Learning to Focus and Finding Balance are two things that you’ll probably here from me often. They are two of the things, that I am constantly striving to do. It always seems like my daily schedule with the kids, housework, and my own work – that I am constantly moving in several different directions and trying to do it all at once. Some days I feel like my head is constantly spinning and I am just waiting for it to stop.
What is FocusFocus is defined (for this particular use) as:
FOCUS (Dictionary.com)
v. pay particular attention to
For me focus means freeing myself from distractions, in order to complete the tasks I need to get done. Paying attention to each task until it is complete and not letting myself get side-tracked. Which I find to be very difficult these days with the kids and there love of chaos – or at least they seem to love chaos. I keep trying to get them organized, but every time I organize, they find a way to destroy another room. What I need to do is find a way to help them focus on things I need and want them to do, so that I can focus on my own tasks.
Right now I am in the beginning stages of figuring out how to do this. I do look forward to the older ones going back to school. I think having only one home, may help me to get more done, and also help him to learn to do more things by himself without his older brothers trying to tell him what to do. My task over the next couple of weeks, is to prioritize my tasks and schedule and focus my energy on accomplishing the most important things on that list.
How do you focus? Is this something you are also working on? I’d love to hear your stories, tips, ideas…share them with me in a comment below.

Finding Balance...

When you look up the definition of Balance it seems like it would be such a simple thing to achieve.
BALANCE (Dictionary.com)
n. mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.
synonyms: poise, composure
If we lived an ideal world where we weren’t always rushing around trying to get things done, then I suppose it would be easy to find balance and keep it. Throw kids in the mix and you are now in a constant state of chaos. You not only have your own schedule and needs to meet, you now have at least one other person, someone who is now dependent on you to help them in their everyday lives. Some days it feels like a roller coaster ride or performing a balancing act on a tightrope.
My goal is to find ways to maintain balance between my own needs and those of my family, throughout our chaotic ever changing schedules. Finding ways during the chaos to find calm and patience to deal with it rationally.
How do you achieve balance in your life? I’d love to hear your stories…feel free to comment below.

Balsamic Crockpot Chicken

Yesterday, I decided to breakout the crockpot and save some time and dishes. I decided to make a very easy Balsamic Crockpot Chicken. I decided to wing it and create my own recipe.
  • 1.5 lbs Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 bottle of Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1 lg vidalia onion – diced
  • 6 cloves garlic – diced
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 bunch scallions – chopped
  • 16 oz package of sliced portobello mushrooms
  • 9 mini red, yellow & orange sweet peppers – sliced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 6-9 fresh basil leaves
  • shredded cheese (optional for garnish – I used 3 cheese Italian blend)
Peppers & Mushrooms
The first thing I did was to cut the boneless chicken breast into cubes, similar to what you would do for making a soup or stew. I like to cut my chicken so it really absorbs the flavoring. I then poured about 1/2 of the bottle of Balsamic Vinaigrette into the crockpot and added the chicken. I set the crockpot to high for 6 hours and let the chicken start to cook.

I like to saute my onions and garlic when I have time, so I added about 1 tbsp of canola oil to a saucepan (enough to coat the pan) and cooked up the diced onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, just enough to brown them up a bit. I then added the onions and garlic to the chicken in the crockpot. Add the remainder of the ingredients: chopped scallions, sliced mushrooms, peppers, oregano, tarragon, and fresh chopped basil.

Enjoy as a soup or drain & put over lettuce, pasta or rice!
It was very easy to make…I’d love to hear from you in a comment below. Do you have recipes you like to share? What types of dishes do you make in your crockpot?

Caprese Lasagna Rollups

I love caprese salad! Basically anything I’ve tried with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil has been delicious. When I came across this recipe for Caprese Lasagna Rollups, I couldn’t wait to try it. Now having made it, I am so happy I did. I found the recipe on Facebook through a friend sharing it, a great advantage to social media.
The original recipe is from Cooking Classy and can be viewed here:
  • 8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 14 oz freshly shredded, low-moisture part skim Mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/3 cup freshly, finely shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/4 oz)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 – 4 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/6 inch thick slices)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, recipe follows
Simple Marinara Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions listed on package to al dente. Drain pasta (DO NOT rinse with water) and align lasagna noodles in a single layer on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper.
  • For filling, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese and egg white until well blended. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Mix in 12 oz. of the Mozzarella cheese and season with black pepper to taste (I wouldn’t recommend seasoning with salt just because the cheeses already have plenty of salt).
  • Place 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture over each lasagna noodle and spread into an even layer, going from one end of the lasagna to the other. Align 4 thin tomato slices over cheese mixture then sprinkle fresh basil over top. Snugly roll lasagna noodles to opposite end. Spread about 1/4 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Align lasagna roll ups, seam side down in dish. Top each roll up with about 2 Tbsp of the pasta sauce (covering edges of pasta so they don’t dry out while baking). Sprinkle top with remaining 2 oz. shredded Mozzarella. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven, plate pasta and garnish with plenty of basil ribbons. Serve warm.
Simple Marinara Sauce
  • Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions to hot oil and saute about 3 minutes until soft, adding garlic during last minute of sauteing. Pour in crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and allow sauce to cook for about 25 – 30 minutes (which will allow some of the water in crushed tomatoes to evaporate) while you prepare pasta and lasagna filling (you can freeze or refrigerate left over sauce in a small airtight container for later use, adding fresh basil if desired).

I did make a few alterations, instead of using the shredded parmesan, I used a shredded 3 cheese Italian blend. I also added a lot more shredded cheese over the top of the caprese rollups. As I said I really love mozzarella cheese, and different types of cheese in general. I paired the Caprese Lasagna Rollups with my recipes for Garlic Shrimp & Grilled Asparagus, which can be found here as well, just click on the titles.

As a variation I also plan to try this recipe in stuffed shells. What do you think of this dish? What would you do differently? Are you a caprese fan too? I’d love to hear from you in a comment below.

Garlic Shrimp

This is a very simple sauteed Garlic Shrimp recipe that I put together the other night to go along with the Caprese Lasagna Rollups I was baking.
  • 1lb medium frozen shell-on easy peel shrimp
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic – diced
  • 1 bunch scallions – chopped
Thaw the shrimp in a bowl of cold water, takes about 30 minutes, and peel. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced garlic and heat until lightly browned. Add the thawed, peeled shrimp and cook until pink, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped scallions and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Garlic Shrimp, Grilled Asparagus & Caprese Lasagna Rollups

Your Garlic Shrimp is now done and ready to serve. I chose to serve this with my Grilled Asparagus and Caprese Lasagna Rollups the other night. It’s a great dish to pair with other dinner items, or you can serve over rice, pasta or salad and it makes for an easy stand alone dish as well.
How would you serve this dish? I would love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.

Grilled Asparagus

I love grilled vegetables, they are easy to prepare and taste great! I especially love Grilled Asparagus, I think it is one of the easiest to prepare and cook. If you are a fan of asparagus, but have never tried it grilled you are definitely in for a treat. This is a very simple and quick recipe to follow.
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 3 tbls olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic – diced
  • 1 tbls thyme
First rinse and then trim hard end off of the asparagus. In a small bowl combine the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, diced garlic and thyme. Take a basting brush and brush the asparagus with the oil mix. Heat up your outdoor or indoor grill to medium heat. If using an outdoor grill, I would recommend using a vegetable grilling basket or tray so that the asparagus doesn’t fall through the grates.
Asparagus on the Indoor Grill

This particular night, I paired the Grilled Asparagus with my Caprese Lasagna Rollups and Garlic Shrimp. You can also find these recipes here.
What kind of vegetables do you like to grill? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.

Free Fun Fridays...Highland Street Foundation

Do you have kids? Are you from Massachusetts or New England? Have you heard of Free Fun Fridays? Have you ever heard of the Highland Street Foundation?
Free Fun Fridays is an amazing program run by the Highland Street Foundation. The program runs every Friday throughout the summer – starting the last Friday of June through the last Friday of August. What the program offers is ~ Free Admission ~ to 6 different venues each Friday. You can view the list of venues on their website here: http://www.highlandstreet.org/freefunfridays.html.
There is a wide variety of venues that participate in this wonderful program…so each Friday there really is something for everyone. There are zoos, children’s museums, art museums, theater productions, ferry rides, and more. The program has certainly grown over the past 5 years. The first year we found out about it, they offered 1 or 2 venues each Friday, then last year it was 5, and this year it is up to 6.

This program has been great for my family, as we are working on a tight financial budget, and it still allows us to take the kids to fun things throughout the summer. One of our favorite Free Fun Fridays venues is the Boston Harbor Islands ferry ride to Georges or Spectacle Island. The kids have loved going to Georges Island to explore Fort Warren, which is a Civil War era fort.
There is still one more Friday left this summer – August 30th. Check out what’s on the schedule if you are going to be around on Friday. If you don’t get a chance to participate this year, definitely check back to find out what is offered next year.
Has your family taken advantage of Free Fun Fridays? I’d love to hear what venues you and your family love to go to. If you’re not from New England, I’d love to hear if there are programs like this near you. Leave me a comment below to share your thoughts and stories and feel free to share this information with your friends.

20 November 2013

A Little Humor

Today has been one of those days, the morning started off fairly rough with getting the kids moving. This image on Facebook proves a little humor can help to make the day a little brighter.

Remember smiles are contagious, and you just might brighten someone else's day.

Keep smiling,

14 November 2013

XBOX Gaming Night

A week ago the boys & I attended XBOX Gaming Night at the Microsoft Store in Salem, NH. The event was sponsored by the Methuen SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council). It was a fun event for all ages and was open to all students & families within the Methuen School System.

The kids had a great time playing games, meeting new kids & seeing some of their friends. The employees at the Microsoft Store were very helpful and made sure the kids were all getting a chance to play at the different stations that were setup. They even had green XBOX bags to hand out to the kids to take home. The kids look forward to attending future events.

Did you attend this event? Does your school or community have events like this? I would love to hear what other communities & schools are doing, leave me a comment.

Have a great day!

My Shy Guy?

My youngest son, Russell has always been my shyest. Always clingy, even around family & friends. But when it comes to the camera, he loves to make silly faces. Sometimes when I look at these photos, it's hard to believe how shy he can be.

Do you have a shy little one? Do they like to be silly for the camera too? Share your stories in a comment below.

Have a great day!

13 November 2013

Reflection & Inspiration

During this busy time in our year, when the holidays are fast approaching, it is so easy to get caught up in all the hustle & bustle. It is also a time of even greater stress in our lives as we try to get a multitude of things done.

We may worry about money or running out of time to get things done. We may worry about all the family we will be seeing or the lack of family at this time when others are with theirs.

Even when we are excited about the upcoming holidays and if things are all coming together perfectly, it can still be stressful on our emotional and physical selves.

Do take time to reflect on all the good things that are in your life, no matter how small. Take time to touch base with family, friends, neighbors or others you haven't seen in a while - just to say hello. Smile at a stranger - you may just make their day!

Focus on the positive things and more will follow!

Do you look forward to the holidays? What do you do to keep the stress to a minimum? I'd love to hear your tips for the holiday season.


12 November 2013

Wisdom from Robert Fulghum

One of my favorite authors is Robert Fulghum, who wrote "All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten." It is still one of my favorite books, which I love to go back and read through often. So many great quotes of wisdom that we could all truly learn from. Here I will share three of my favorites.

If you have never read the book, I highly suggest checking it out. He also has other fantastic books worth reading as well, you can find more information about him and his books here: http://www.robertfulghum.com

Have you read "All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" or any other Robert Fulghum books? What is your favorite quote? What authors do you find inspirational?

Have a great night,

11 November 2013

A Tribute to Our Veterans

Today we celebrate Veteran's Day in the US. A time to honor and remember all those who have served and are still serving in all areas of our countries military. I came across some touching media images, poems, and songs that I would like to share here.

"I Drive Your Truck" by Lee Brice

My heartfelt thanks goes out to all my family and friends who serve and have loved ones serving, as well as to all who serve. Thank you so much for all you have done and continue to do.

Do you have Veteran's Day poems, quotes, songs, or other things you want to share?

10 November 2013


Right now in church, I am working with the Outreach Committee to put together the Annual Thanksgiving Baskets for Neighbors In Need. They are the organization in charge of a number of food pantries in my local area, and have been around for 30 years.

Our goal this year is to put together 75 baskets, complete with turkey, pie, juice, and side dishes. With the help of our church family and friends, we are well on our way to accomplishing this goal.

Today at church, Linda Zimmerman, the Executive Director at Neighbors In Need spoke to the church during our service. She was there to thank the church for the help that has been given in the past, as well as to thank us for our help with the upcoming Thanksgiving Baskets. She reminded us that the hunger problem has been increasing and is a year round problem.

Hunger is getting worse everywhere, and even those who are working are having trouble making ends meet. A friend of mine sang a song, after Linda spoke that was very touching and fitting.

"Hungry" by Kathryn Scott

How do we help to turn this major problem around? How do we get ahead of this, before we can't help fulfill the need?

Do you participate in any food pantry donations for Thanksgiving or other times? What organizations are there in your area that are dealing with helping the hungry?


09 November 2013

Mom's Job Never Ends

When my oldest son was born I was working full time in an office. I was lucky enough to be able to work part of the time at home. My days still were very structured, I had a lot of office work with dead lines for clients that had to get done. I only had the one baby, so it was fairly easy to keep up with the house and work. Fast forward 11 years, I now have a 3, 5 & 11 year old and have been home with the kids since the 5 year old was born.

Being a stay at home mom, definitely makes for some interesting days.

I love being able to be home for my kids, I am definitely grateful for that. I do find it much harder to constantly keep up with household things, like laundry and dishes. I always thought it would be easier to do that, but with kids home during the day there are more dishes & more laundry from cleaning up spills or toddler accidents.

No matter whether you are a stay at home mom or work outside the home, a mother's job never ends.

I'd love to hear your stories. Are you a stay at home mom? Are you a working outside the home mom? What have your experiences been?

Have a good night!

A Little Gratitude

November typically is the month that people on social media start posting what they are grateful for. Some people try to post something new everyday of the month. It seems like a logical month to do this as we Americans prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

I may not post everyday, but I try to think of something everyday that I am grateful for. I am trying to take time each day, not just this month, to reflect on the positive things in my life. I think the more often we do this, the more likely we are to continue to move in a more positive direction in our lives.

Today, I will start with the fact that I am grateful for my family and friends, old and new. For life experiences, both good and bad. Our experiences help to shape our lives.

What are you grateful for?

Enjoy your night,

07 November 2013

Moved by Music

“Music is the universal language of mankind.” 
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Music has always been a huge part of my life, even from an early age. My parents both played instruments, my mother also sang in the church choir. My grandfather played multiple instruments, and played in bands during the 1940's - a huge time for music in the America (as well as before and after that time). I grew up listening to a variety of music, both live and on the radio. My sisters and I all took up instruments as well, during our school years.

I also took up singing, joining the different choirs in church, school, and community. As an actor, singing was an important part of getting involved with performing in musical theatre. I have also performed as a soloist for weddings, funerals, sporting and community events. It has certainly been a privilege to be a part of the different events, whether it be celebrating a happy event or helping to express loved ones sentiments when saying goodbye.

There are a number of songs, that have really moved me, and to name them all would probably require me to write a novel. I am going to highlight a few of the songs here. I hope that you enjoy reading about why they move me and hearing the pieces of music.

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

1. "There You'll Be" - theme song from Pearl Harbor
I sang this song at my dad's funeral in 2006. My dad and I watched Pearl Harbor together a number of times. It was one of his favorite movies from the more recent years. When ever I think of the song, it reminds me of him and how he is still here with me in my heart. "I was blessed to get to have you in my life." I came across an amazing live version from Faith Hill who sang the theme song in the movie, it gives me chills every time I hear it.

"There You'll Be" - Faith Hill

2. "Seasons of Love" - song from the musical Rent
When I first heard the music and then saw the musical when it came to Boston on tour, I was moved by this song. It is a song that I could really relate to - questioning what it was that was important in life. What will really be what we are remembered for? "How do you measure a year?" This song was played at my friend, Susan's funeral. A funeral for someone who left us too soon. Every time I hear this song, I think of her. I think of other friends and family, who have also left too soon. It is a bittersweet feeling, that is mixed with emotions, but most of all it reminds me to remember the good times and the great memories I have of them and my time with them.

"Seasons of Love" - Rent Movie Soundtrack

3. "He's Everything" - by Dolly Parton song from the movie A Joyful Noise
When I watched this movie with Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, I was very moved by this song. It was a very powerful scene at the end of the movie, which brought goosebumps and the song really made the scene. The music and the lyrics were perfect! For someone who has grown up singing in church choirs and as a soloist at church, I definitely wanted to add this song to my repertoire. I ended up singing it this past summer, at my goddaughter's baptism. It fit perfectly for the service! The song and the scene from this movie still give me goosebumps and really move me. I hope you enjoy!

"He's Everything" - A Joyful Noise

4. "Ode to Joy" - flash mob symphony orchestra 
I have always enjoyed the musical masterpiece of "Ode to Joy" but it is the video in particular which captured a flash mob symphony orchestra performing it, that truly was inspiring. I have heard some claim that it was used for a commercial, for what I am not sure, as what ever was being advertised was very subtle. The coming together of the instruments after one little girl, puts a coin in the solo musicians hat, and then leads to the crowd joining in singing was truly a remarkable display of talent. No matter how many times I have come across it, from others posting it, it still moves me.

"Best Coin Ever Spent"

“Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.” 
― Sarah DessenJust Listen

I would love to hear how music has impacted your life. What songs or artists have moved you? Share your stories in a comment below.

Have a great day!

You can check out other posts from the "Weekly Writing Challenge: Moved by Music" here: 

06 November 2013

First Pitch at Lowell Spinners

First Pitch at Lowell Spinners | Artsymom's Balancing Act:

This summer we attended a Lowell Spinners baseball game with members of our church. My 5 year old son, Ryan, got the privilege of throwing out one of the first pitches of the game.
This photo was taken by the photographers at the game! I love how it shows him having thrown the ball, the ball in mid-air and you can see his name on the big screen to the left of him. A very cool photo shot!
The kids all had a blast at the game. Characters from Star Wars were in attendance and took pics with the kids. My 11 year old son, Nathan, was done on the field with Ryan & I at the beginning of the game to get autographs from the Lowell Spinners players. They are all great with the kids and very accommodating. They also had the Mystery Machine driving around, throwing out shirts to the crowd.
What a fun day, with great activities – and a memorable first pitch opportunity for Ryan!
Have you been to a Spinners game or other sporting event with the kids? What types of sporting events have you enjoyed? Did they have fun activities for the kids throughout the event?

I look forward to hearing your stories,

'via Blog this'

05 November 2013

Favorite Autumn Flavor

What is your favorite autumn flavor?

Mine is apple & cinnamon - apple cider, apple crumble, apple pie. I haven't found an apple & cinnamon dish I didn't like. I love cider hot or cold! Add some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to your apple crumble or pie and you can't go wrong.

My sister has a really easy Baked Apple Crumble recipe, that I absolutely love, that I will share here.

Baked Apple Crumble

· 6 cups sliced apples
(about 6 medium apples)
· 2 tbls apple juice or apple cider
· 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
· 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
· 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
· 3 tbls vegetable oil

Heat oven to 375. Oil 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Arrange apples evenly in dish. Drizzle with juice.

Combine sugar, flour & cinnamon in a bowl. Mix in vegetable oil until crumbly. Spoon over apples.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until apples are tender. Cool slightly. Serve warm w/whipped cream or ice cream on top, if desired.

What are your favorite autumn dishes? Share your recipe in a comment below.


04 November 2013

Puddle or Leaf Pile?

Which is better to jump in: a leaf pile or a puddle?

For me it would depend on the weather. During a warm rain it is definitely a lot of fun to run around with the kids and splash in the puddles. Living in New England, I love the variety of the seasons! What better way to celebrate a beautiful Autumn day then jumping in a great big pile of leaves.

Definitely hard to choose! Which do you prefer?

Have a great night!

03 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - November 2013

It's now the 3rd day into November's NaBloPoMo challenge, are you participating?

I have attempted in the past to do this and found myself getting distracted and not able to complete the monthly task of blogging daily. I am determined to complete the challenge this time.
For those who might not know, NaBloPoMo stands for National Blog Posting Month. It is a challenge to post a blog everyday in the given month. You can find more information at NaBloPoMo on BlogHer.

I'd love to hear your stories if you are participating or have in the past.

Have a great night!
~ Cheri

02 November 2013

Apple Picking!

One of my favorite fall family activities is apple picking! This year we went twice, once early on in the season at the beginning of September and then again today. Today was even better because it was FREE!

Smolak Farms in North Andover, MA had such a great crop this year that they opened up their apple orchard for FREE picking today (11/2) and tomorrow (11/3) from 9-4.

What a great way to give back to their customers and community!

If you live in the area and are available tomorrow, bring your own bag and go get yourselves some apples. Just in time to start prepping and freezing pies and apple dishes for the upcoming holidays.
Have you been to Smolak Farms? Where do you like to go apple picking? What types of fall activities do you and your family enjoy?

Have a great night!

01 November 2013

How Would You Spend One Million Dollars...In One Day??

If you found one million dollars in the morning and had to spend it by nightfall, what would you do with the money?

Well first of all, I would pay off all my bills, which is probably not surprising. Then I would buy a house, since we rent right now. I would buy 2 new cars and donate the ones we have. Then book & pay in full for a family vacation to Europe, this way we could visit my sister & brother-in-law. I would also purchase travelers checks or prepaid card for spending money on our vacation.

With the remainder of the money, I would help family catch up on bills, donate money to my church, and also donate money to causes I support.

How would you spend it??