That certainly went better than I thought it would. Huh.

I'm going to cred Blogger for this one 'cause I certainly didn't work any magic tricks!

This is the background I was trying to add in order to match the new banner and blog badge that I made. (Aren't they pretty? My first ever!)

Don't give me full credit, though. They are all made up of papers and elements from Carrie Stephens Designs digital scrapbooking kits, Counting Sheep and Spontaneous Delight. You can find them (and many, many more!) at

Thank goodness for The Cutest Blog on the Block and their free backgrounds! I love their stuff, and they obviously know what they are doing - unlike, ahem, me.

Alright then people, moving on.
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Um - if you have come across this blog for the first time, or you're wandering back after a while, I know it looks weird because of how blank it is.

See - I tried to make my own background and basically trashed the whole thing. Soooooo...I had to reset all the way back to what you see today.

I'll be working on getting all of my widgets and badges back, (but I am so bummed, 'cause it looked so pretty before I made whatever mistake it was that I made!)

If I promised you that I had your button in the sidebar and you don't see it, please, please let me know and I'll jump all over it.

Thanks for your patience while I clean up my mess!
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A prayer day

I've got lots of things to pray about and people to pray for; and praises to make and gratitudes, too.

You probably do, as well. Today I'd like to share some of mine, and I'd love to share some of yours. If you'd like me to include you in my prayers, please leave a comment, and I'll add you to my list!

Lord, I come to you with praise in my heart. Your love lifts me, and holds me too. I feel you all around me; even now, when my mind is running like Grand Central - everywhere.

As our family waits for news about our next assigned station, I know that Your will is at work, and wherever we end up, You will have some purpose for us there.
I am so grateful for DH's work in the Coast Guard, he loves his job, and it feels good to know that he is helping to protect our planet. The military life allows us to keep our heads above water, and allows me to stay at home with our children, so that I can raise them to know You, and that is a wonderful thing. Thank You for teaching me that stability does not come from a place, but from the environment we surround ourselves with. My children don't question our love, and it is a direct response to my knowledge of Your unquestioning love for me. I have been so heart-full, and as I read today, "My plate may be full, but my cup runneth over."

I ask for Your love and peace to be present in the lives of my brother and his family in this incredibly difficult time.

There are so many who are in need, in so many ways, not the least of which is emotional, and I pray that they are able to open themselves to Your grace in their lives. I think of 2 Corinthians 12:9; "...My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

I pray for the women of Lydia Circle, for The Twelve of Sierra Christian Ashram, for my extended family, and friends. I pray for the girls of India, and for the women of iSanctuary who are trying to help them. I pray for my church, and for yours. I pray for those who have none. I pray for the hungry, and the destitute, for the tired mothers, and the absentee fathers. I pray for the present and the future. I pray for the health of our planet, and I pray for the health of our economy. I pray for my children, and I pray for my husband.

From Psalms 37:24, I repeat "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand." I believe this with my whole heart.

Lord, thank You for this time and place, for this medium and for this heartswell I have today. I am so abundantly blessed. Praise to You, King of Kings, Almighty Father, Blessed Redeemer!


(Psst...I didn't mention names because some people get weird about that, but I was thinking about them!)

Thanks for reading all the way through. I sure do appreciate it. I would love to pray for you, if you would like, just throw me a comment, and I will get right on it!
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Sweets for your sweet

Hey! I've got some freebies and deals and one indulgence for ya'll. (Isn't that what it's all really about anyway, lol?)

First, for those with a sweet-tooth, and those who really know the way to a woman's heart, I've got some Valentine Treats recipes for you:

Courtesy of Dine Without Whine,

St. Valentine Sweets (a pdf file, so go ahead and print it out!)

And to set the mood:

Courtesy of American Greetings,

Four Track CD Sampler, "Sending You Love" by Jim Brickman

Courtesy of Quick & Simple Magazine

Motown Love Songs CD Sweepstakes

For the singles out there:

On The Journey From Boo-Hoo to Woo-Hoo!
a free teleseminar by Lisa Steadman aka "The Relationship Journalist"!

For the clueless gift-givers:

Red Door Spa Packages okay, this is more of an indulgence than anything else, but hey! we all want a little luxurious pampering once in a while... try the Red Door Debut which includes the Elizabeth Arden Essential Facial, Customized Eye Contour, Swedish Massage, Warm Cream Manicure & Makeup Refresher. Less expensive than jewelry and much, much better than flowers!

For the budget minded:

Courtesy of Menu's 4 Moms and Living on a Dime

$7 Gourmet Valentine's Dinner for Two

For the kidlings:

Printable V-Day cards from Signing Time

Sweet crafts from Kaboose

Fisher Price's I Love My Family baby board book available at Harper Collins.

For the Digi-Scrappers:

DigiScrap Depot features hundreds of Valentine themed freebies for your own (personal, not commercial) projects.

For the Funny Valentine:

I love Jib-Jab. (Do you remember the Elf Yourself videos? Hoo, hoo, ha! Ahhhh.) They've got some great V-Day themed video e-cards ready for you & your sweetie or your Valentine-Hater to be a part of. (Definitely do this one.)

For Yo Momma:

Maid Service by the Merry Maids. Okay, I'm making joke here, but it's a pretty loving gift.

Love on a Dime necklace
by Barbara Giles Jewelry. Check her out on Etsy.

For the Locals: (That's B'more, Baby!)

The National Aquarium is just $8 on Friday afternoon. (Cheap, and you can beat the crowd!) You should definitely snuggle up near the sharks, oooh, sexy!

Mimi Di Pietro Family Skating Center
in Patterson Park. Nothing says romance like $4 for admission and $2 for skate rental! No, really. It's even better if neither of you actually knows how to ice skate. Think laughter, near-falls, and steaming hot cocoa when you're all done.

Valentine's Dinner Around The World at the Bliss Coffee & Wine Bar featuring A Night in France, An Evening in Italy, Spanish Nights, and The Dream - American Inspired.

For artsy, historically-inclined and Christian types, (or all three!) The Walter's Art Museum presents Illuminating the Bible featuring world-renowned scholar, Dr. Christopher deHamel.

Be a Chef For The Day at Sotto Sopra. (Probably not on V-Day, but still a pretty darn cool gift!)

Drew Grass Jazz Center for the Arts Recital Hall, Towson University on Friday at 8:15p Free jazz concert by a local boy made good along with students from the jazz program.

Toby's Dinner Theater in Baltimore is showing Sophisticated Ladies. You may still be able to grab a pair of tickets. It's an incredible show, and the foods pretty good, too!

Now if I haven't given you enough, I, actually I don't! That's plenty, people. Now get out there and do something romantic. It's only once a year!

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Have you heard of this site? I love the tagline, Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. It pretty much completely describes what the site is all about. Basically an article submission site, where the most popular items (voted as such by members) are the first listed. The writers are also the editors! It's publishing turned on it's head.
It's also pretty dang cool. They host Writing Contests, Debates, Citizen Journalism Awards, Write for a Cause, and The Global Issues/Citizen Voices Essay Contests.

With articles in such topics ranging from Arts & Humanities to Personal Finance to Travel to Parenting to Politics and beyond, you''ll no doubt find something of interest to read. And if you're looking for someone to write an article for you, Helium's Marketplace is the place to go. Another huge perk? Helium actually pays you for your submitted content! Helium’s best writers earn cash through upfront payments for contributed work, daily revenue share, and the aforementioned writing contests! Pretty slick, right. Okay, you're excited, you wanna get over ther, but WAIT!

You know I'm crazy addicted to the internet, and that I'm all about stuff that interests me. Welllll... Helium has another super-cool tool that I am especially thrilled to tell you about, the new Betaville Zones.

According to Helium: "Zones are Helium's mini-websites that users create around focused subjects. Zones are literally put together with building blocks of content, from Helium Debates and articles to YouTube videos, weather updates, Google maps and much more. If you think a picture is worth more than 1000 words on a subject, add it to your Zone! Want to try a new Web presence for your business? Grab a Zone and get creative!"

Um - so you know I had to make one, right? It's called Mompreneur and it's focus is moms who work for themselves. Featuring WAHM's Mom-owned retail sites, blogs, product creators, articles for working moms, videos, links to social networking sites, you name it. I would love it if some of you would check it out! >In fact it's being featured today!

So come check it out, tell me what you think, give me some ideas, please!

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More on eating

I love to eat. That bears repeating. I love to eat.

I especially love the taste and texture of foods, which is why I'll never again eat escargot or liver anything! I have learned to love cooking, and rarely do I pass up a chocolate confection.

But when it comes to my children, I'm a former food-nazi. My family and close friends would likely assert that I still am, but I've totally mellowed. My four year old is occasionally allowed a lolli, and that child really loves her some cookies (like mother, like daughter, right?) Big fat however - treats are actually treats around here. I don't keep any of it in the house, and in fact I rarely even buy snacks more exciting than goldfish or tortilla chips. Don't get me started on the evils of juice. My kids drink milk & water and that's pretty much it.

The reason that I'm even bringing it up is today's ConsumerQueen post. In partner with Gerber, she's hosting a giveaway for people who join the Start Healthy, Stay Healthy campaign. It's great, if you have a baby or are expecting one, I suggest you head over there.

However - What upset me so much is this statistic from the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) conducted by Gerber: Soda is being served to infants as young as 8 months. What!?!

Now I know that we Gen X-ers had less supervision than any generation before us, but please tell me that you were taught better than that! (Okay - on review, obviously some people weren't, I know of someone who feeds her 6-week-old chocolate pudding.)

I just can't stand it! Look, I live on coffee, and when I have a nasty headache, there's nothing like a fountain soda to cure my blues. However, I am an adult. My children's rapidly developing brains and bodies have no real defense against this crap.

It's not like it's such a big deal. No soda and candy for preschoolers is a happy home. (Someone slipped my then three-year old some Sprite at a party, and believe me, they were sorry for it when she went on a rampage 20 minutes later.) When your babies can't choose their own foods; when you are making all the dietary decisions - how bloody hard can it be to get the damn fruit cup instead of the fries at the drive-thru?

I'm just saying.
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Lawsy, lawsy!

Many times while sitting in front of the keyboard I think about all the things I could be writing about. I often have too much, or too personal (not for me ya'll, but the loved ones don't always like me hanging the dirty laundry - you know?) or even too weird. So today I will do a Seven Things post. It's been a long, long, long time (shall I repeat how much I suck?) and I just love stuff (as you very likely already know!)

Seven Things I Really Love (Right Now...)

  1. Hylands Sniffles & Sneezes 4 Kids - It works, it's safe and when combined with children's ibuprofen, makes my kiddo feel better. Natch. (Even The National Parenting Center likes them.)
  2. Joe Corbi's Pizza - Our Meggie brought some over to make with LivvieBug, and even though the dough and sauce were creepily colored, they actually tasted pretty awesome. When we made the grown-up version, well, yum. (We eat a LOT of pizza here as it's DH's fave, I even have a pizza stone and two cutters!)
  3. American Idol is back! - I don't care, I don't care, I just love this show. I was actually thrilled while I was sick because my new hoarse voice actually sounded pretty good. You have dreams, too!
  4. Olivia - has her own show on Nick Jr., and LivvieBug is, of course, totally thrilled. Her BFF, not so much. (Apparently it just isn't fair for Olivia to have a show with the same name if she doesn't. Poor kiddo. ) At any rate it's pretty darn cute, and has now surpassed Toot & Puddle as her absolute fave.
  5. Tax Slayer - Okay, I know it's not popular, but lemme tell ya friends, tax season is celebratory round here. Yay, Earned Income Credit! At Tax Slayer, I pounded out my taxes the very next morning after we recieved DH's W-2 and was finished in about 20 minutes. Also, as a military family, we filed totally for Free! Yes, suh! I highly recommend this service, even if you aren't military. $9.95 is cheap-cheap and just as easy as anything the guys in green are going to do!
  6. Facebook - I Love/Hate it, but I can't stay away... poor me.
  7. Sweet Savings - and not just 'cause I won the Date Night, either. She's a total sweetie herself and I really dig her blog, too. (So will you, now run on over there!)
Okay, that's it for today. I still have to update two of my other websites, send an email to my church group and put my cranky kiddos down for naps!
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Super Bowl, The Food Edition

I'm only kinda sorta watching. The Bachelor Boys next door are having a get-together, and we used our standing invitation - however, my 19 month old is incapable of recognizing the sanctity of Super Bowl. (In other words, DH and LivvieBug are next door, and little man & I are at home.)

Meanwhile, the Buffalo "wings" I made disappeared about 5 minutes after presentation, and I was actually applauded. So - thought I'd share. The recipe is based on Alton Brown's but I would oh-so modestly say that I improved upon it. (I wish I'd thought to take pictures, maybe next time.)

Buffalo Drumsticks

6 pounds chicken drumsticks (about 26)
3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
1 cup hot wing sauce (Frank's or Louisiana)
1 cup margarine (melted)
1 cup unsalted butter (1 stick, melted)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Hot Sauce

In two batches, steam chicken over boiling water in 6 qt. steamer for 15 minutes each. Cover large roasting pans or dark cookie sheets (I needed two) with paper towels (I used three layers) and place steamed chicken on paper towels. Cover with more paper towels and place in refrigerator for 1 1/2 hours.

(The party started at 6pm, I started at 2pm.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine cayenne pepper, paprika, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in large bowl. Peel the chicken off the paper towels, being careful not to leave any paper behind! Toss drumsticks in pepper mixture. (You want them to be covered but not thickly coated.) Discard paper towels and remaining pepper mixture. Spray Pam on roasting pans or cookie sheets. Place drumsticks on/in pans in opposing directions, bake for 20 minutes, then turn over and bake for another twenty minutes.

Meanwhile- combine melted margarine, butter, wing sauce, minced garlic and remaining kosher salt in large bowl.

Gently (very gently) toss hot drumsticks in sauce mixture. Arrange on platter with celery, blue cheese dressing, ranch dressing, hot sauce; etc.

I utilized the remaining sauce as a dip, and skipped both the celery and blue cheese (not super popular next door.)

Promise! These are killer good, and you will be a queen if you serve these suckers, lol!
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I wish I'd said it...

(Not really me!)

I just want to thank the ladies over at Mama Manifesto for today's post. I read it, laughed, agreed and had to share...

Where Does The Time Go?

If you have kids - or even just know someone who does, I implore you to check it out.
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