Monday, May 31, 2010

Orginazational Genius, I'm NOT

I'm desperate to be more organized and I don't even know where to start.  We've got so  many things in this house that just don't have a proper place.  In every room!  We've got the junk collector in my bedroom, aka my giant desk.  In the kitchen, it's a large junk bowl.  The living room, it's the bottom shelf of the end table.  The dogs room/laundry room it's the large filing cabinet.  I could go on and on.  I need help and I need it FREE!  Who has tips for me?  I don't know where to start!

Bittersweet Visits

Yesterday we were blessed with a visit from our former Pastor and his family.  You may remember me mentioning that our Pastor Dave had been at our church for 18 years and was leaving to go to another church over 300 miles away.  He and his family came to attend the wedding of the couple whose wedding cake I made below.  The delegates at our church voted and so he was our guest speaker yesterday at church.  It's been almost a year since they left and we're still without a full time pastor.  Each week, we have a different speaker and I have to say that I've seen our church grow and bond together.  It's been amazing!  I think it's time, though.

I often sit in church and in my head I can hear Pastor Dave speaking and I can see his little manorisms.  His Elmer Fudd impersonation and talking about the Yankees.  What a spirit filled man!  His sermons always, always were a perfect fit for what I was going through in my own life.  His message at our Christmas Cantata one year was what brought me to Christ.  He's prayed for my family and I for his.   He baptized two of my boys.   And Sherry, his wife, shared her faith story with a group of women that was just uplifting and wonderful.  We laughed and cried and felt closer to her when she finished.  Sherry and I have made a special connection through letters that I'm grateful for.  I was so sad to see him and his family go and I still miss them dearly.  Sometimes I romanticize about them coming back!

Pastor Dave stood in church on Sunday and told us how proud he was of us for sticking together and keeping the church moving along.  He also told us how he greets his new church on Sunday mornings and wonders if he's said L****** or G****.  He said his head's not there yet.  I read that as his heart's still in L******.  Maybe that's just what I wanted to hear and not actually what he meant.

Pastor Dave shared Communion with us this Sunday.  It was even more special for me as this was the first time my husband has taken Communion!  My heart raced as we walked up together.  I could feel the tears running down my face and as we approached Pastor Dave and Sherry, I said to them "This is Cory's first time taking Communion" and I could see the tears form in Sherry's eyes, too.  I heard Pastor Dave say "God bless you, Cory" and I walked back to my seat.  I don't know if Cory knew why I was crying but I was secretly celebrating my husband's choice.  I was filled with joy!  Praise GOD!

I was so happy to see Pastor and his wife and daughter and very sad to see them go again.  What a blessing they've been!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sweet Endings

Oh what a week!  I started out this week set to do South Beach so I can kick start this weight loss.  I've had many-a-temptation, but I've resisted and it feels good....mentally.  Physically I've been exhausted!  It can only be because of the week I've had and not the diet.  The last time I did this no carbs thing, I felt great!  I was energetic and my skin cleared up and I was losing weight too.  This time?  Well....I'm not energetic, my skin looks the same and I'm not really sure if I've lost any weight because some little boy lost the pointer thingy, and yes, that's a technical term, and my scale has been wacky.  If I lean to the left, I'm much lighter, so I suppose I'll go with that number!

I had to take Zach to the orthodontist on Wednesday to have a thicker wire put on his braces and as we were getting ready to turn into the plaza where AC Moore and Michael's are, we saw a horrible accident complete with a medical helicopter.  I always get shaken up when I see car accidents.  They terrify me.

I also got started on 75 wedding cake shaped sugar cookies I had to make for today.  Thursday, Friday and today I spent decorating and wrapping the cookies and making a 4 tier wedding cake.  That much work makes for early mornings and late nights!  But I love doing it and I was very pleased with the results.  I'm completely worn out and am welcoming the little break before my next order.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day!

By the way, what do you think of my cake?  I think it turned out beautiful!  This was the sweet ending to my stressful week!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wilton Giveaway (sadly, not here)

Please visit Two of a kind, working on a full house and enter to win a set of Wilton UltraGold Bakeware valued at $180.00.

Being a cake decorator, just the name Wilton gets me going.  So many products I couldn't live without!  Who better to win these than an avid cake decorator!?

Go ahead, visit Wilton and see all the fabulous products I dream of!  If only my pocket book said yes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

PB Green Review and Giveaway

As promised, my first review & giveaway!


PB Green. Reusable snack bags and sandwich wraps.

Do you go through tons of baggies? If you have a family of 4 and use 3 baggies per day, that's a total of 3000 baggies in one year! Times how many families around the U.S.! That's a ton of trash just for lunch alone. And I'll take it a step further and show you how much money you can save each year by purchasing a set of these re-usable bags and sandwich wraps. Estimate that a box of baggies cost $1.99 on sale and there are 35 bags per box. That's $170.00 per year! I know it doesn't seem like a lot of money but if you do this with several items in your household, you've saved a lot of money and have done your part in keeping our Earth clean.
Meet Paige, the very skilled owner of PB Green.

Paige Baran is a former elementary school teacher who is now a SAHM. Paige noticed the number of plastic baggies that were thrown away each day in the elementary cafeteria and decided to do something about it. She began by making the re-usable bags for her husband to take his lunch in to work. His colleagues loved them and had to have their own. When more and more people became interested in them, PB Green was born. She lovingly gives credit to her mother who gave her her sewing machine for her birthday.

Here's what I got:

Max picked out the lunch set in Army Green that came with a small checkered green bag, a medium guitar camo bag and a green sandwich wrap. I was immediately impressed because the packaging was so professional, clean and modern looking. It came wrapped nicely in a piece of tissue paper with a logo label. It took me all of 2 seconds to tear into it, I love getting new things! The lunch set was tied together with a nice soft string and had a label tied on. On the back of the label were instructions for using the sandwich wrap. Paige also included a business card that's now on my fridge.

I originally anticipated not being able to use it until tomorrow for Max's lunch but as soon as he saw the set, he got out the bread and PB&J and made himself a sandwich.

This is my boy who inspired me to find new ways to be green. He loves the idea of being able to re-use. The sandwich wraps are 15 inches in diameter so there's plenty of room to wrap even your biggest sandwiches. It's made of high quality designer cotton fabric and lined with waterproof food safe ripstop nylon. It wraps up like a burrito and holds shut with a strip of Velcro. I especially love the logo tab on this one. Even with the messiest sandwiches (and Max chose one of the messiest), the wrap wipes clean with a damp cloth and is top rack dishwasher and washing machine safe. My only criticism of this piece is that the oil in the peanut butter stained the nylon. This isn't a quality issue though, it's still usable and perfectly fine.

Don't those look like happy eyes!? He loves his new set and can't wait to show his friends.

See how dirty he got it? And the crust thing? Every kid does that, right?

Here's Max's sandwich wrap after a washing.
Next are the re-usable snack bags. These are so sturdy and well made. The bags are also made of high quality cotton but are lined with a water resistant fabric that does not contain DEHP, phalates or BPA plasticizers. The length of the bags are lined with Velcro to keep snacks inside. The smaller bag measures 6 3/4 x 4 and medium bag measures 6 3/4 x 5 1/2. These bags are plenty big to hold whatever snack you might like. Because they're waterproof, you can carry anything you would normally have in a plastic baggie.They turn inside out and sit right on the top rack of your dishwasher along with your other dishes. They dry within a couple of hours and are ready to use again and again.

Just one more little step in becoming more green. Max and I love his lunch set and I'm sure he'll get many years of use out of it!
Now the fun part...
You can buy your own set at PB Green for $20-22 or you can follow the instructions below to win a set!
Mandatory First Entry: Visit PB Green and tell me which pattern you like the best.
Extra Entries:
1 Entry: Become a follower of Surrounded By Boys! (leave a comment if you're already a follower as well!)
1 Entry: Become a Fan of PB Green on Facebook
1 Entry: Become a follower of my cake blog Little Miss Muffins Cakes!
1 Entry: Blog about my giveaway and comment leaving the link below.
Be sure to comment for each entry and good luck! If your email address isn't listed on your profile, please leave it along with your comments below.  If you aren't a registered user, please make sure to leave your first name and your email address or your entry will be deleted (because I won't know how to contact you!)

Contest ends on Monday June 7, 2010 at 9:00pm EST. Winner will be chosen via and will be notified via email. Contest is open to US residents only. Winner must contact PB Green within 3 days of contest end to arrange shipment and order the pattern you like.
I received the re-usable lunch set from PB Green free of charge in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Family Reunion

This weekend my family gathered together for our annual BBQ. We don't all make it each year but we try. We have such a good time, I wish we could do it more often. We joke and laugh. We eat and drink. We chase kids and take walks to the river. We enjoy the sassiness of our beloved eldest member and cherish each moment with her. We talk about chocolate and the restaurant we'd love to open together. We make precious priceless memories that I'm thankful for. God has blessed me with a wonderful family.

So to each of my family members: I couldn't have hand picked a better family! I love you all very much and feel incredibly blessed to have each and every one of you bunch of smart alecks! Until next year........

Friday, May 21, 2010

Poop! Poop!

Don't worry...I don't have any pictures to share with you this time. You're welcome.

Luke is now 22 months old and he's recently decided he doesn't like to wear his diaper. He does this thing where he pushes the back of it down so the crack of his butt hangs out. All the time. It's really kinda cute.

Now I know this is my clue to start potty training, I'm just really not looking forward to it. They have such little bladders and have to stop and pee every 10 minutes. Makes for looong outings with many-a-interruption. Anyway, that's not really where I was going with this.

Yesterday Luke woke up from his nap and had wet through his diaper and his pants were wet. I took them off and let him go bare butt for a while to air out his little bits. He had pooped earlier in the day so I wasn't worried about letting him go diaperless for a little while. BIG mistake!

I was in the middle of cleaning the boys' bathroom when Luke came running in and very excitedly yelled "Poop! Poop!" Naturally, with 2 dogs running around the house, I expected it to be from one of them. He ran out of the bathroom and into his bedroom all the while yelling "Poop! Poop!" When I came into his bedroom, he pointed to the floor and there it was. It wasn't from the was his.

Never assume they'll only poop once a day. I'm just thankful he didn't play with it. You're welcome for that mental picture.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stay tuned for my 1st giveaway!

I'm very excited to announce my first review and giveaway! This is something I've wanted to do for a while and it's finally becoming a reality. I'm joining the mommy-bloggers-giveaway club!

Head on over to PBGreen for a sneak peak at what's on it's way!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I love little boy hands!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Precious Moments

I just love these moments with my babies!

I'm feeling awfully lonely over her at my blog. Where are all my commenter's? I miss you!


Eh, who needs sleep?

It's beyond me what his thought processes are. I wish he came with a husband manual. My husband likes to stay up late......every night. Sometimes I don't even wanna know just how late. So he gets to deal with the midnight wakings of the resident toddler. Lately his decisions regarding said toddler have been quite puzzling.

Luke developed a double ear infection late last week and was taking Motrin for pain. Sometime in the middle of the night, hubby came in to the bedroom, woke me up and asked me what time Luke could have his next dose of meds. I told him he really should wait until 1am. The next thing I know, I'm hearing my toddler come in and out of my 3 a row. Naturally, I get up to see why he's not in bed. Hubby answers "because I'm letting him stay up 'til his next dose of Motrin" YOUR WHAT?!?!?!? Are you INSANE??? So at this point, it's midnight. Yep, he was gonna let Luke stay up for another hour, running around the house and playing.

Last night I heard Luke's little feet running up and down the hallway and had to get up again. As I walked into the living room, he's climbing onto the couch and his father is giving him tortilla chips! When I asked hubby why he wasn't in bed, he said that Luke wasn't tired and he was giving him 5 minutes. NO! NO! NO! I did not spend the last 22 months trying to keep him on a good sleep schedule for you to undo it because you don't think he looks tired!

I scooped him up, put him in bed and turned on his turtle night light. As I walked by hubby on my way back to bed I was seriously wondering how often this kind of thing happens. Luke is up every night at least once. Is DH the reason why? Is this the reason why Luke is such a daddy's boy?

Well, with any luck I can get this sleep thing turned around. Men.....sigh.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent!

I'm very into saving lots of money lately, especially since I started couponing heavily. One of those ways I wanted to save was to make homemade laundry detergent. Until now, I didn't because I had 2 of those mega sized jugs from Sam's Club I had to use up first. I'm nearly at the end of my 2nd one so today I decided to make my homemade concoction. I was able to get these 3 ingredients at my local grocery store in the laundry section. Here's the recipe:

2 cups grated bar soap such as Ivory, Zote or Fels-Naptha (I used 1 bar of Fels. Grated, it was exactly 2 cups)
2 cups A & H Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
1 quart boiling water
2 gallons water

After grating the Fels-Naptha with a cheese grater, I added it to the 1 quart of boiling water. I have to say, it took much longer for the soap to melt than I had expected. I got out my wisk to help it along.

Once it was completely melted, it was quite foamy. It's now poured into a large bucket, or in my case, a canning pot. I might add that my house smelled lovely from the melting soap!

Next you add your washing soda and borax and mix until there are no lumps. It makes a pretty yellow paste.

Once your powders are well mixed into the soap mixture, you can add your 2 gallons of water. I added 2 quarts at a time and mixed very well in between. Within an hour, it was gelling, which is what it's supposed to do.

The goal is for it to be goopy, lumpy and runny. I used a funnel and poured it into orange juice bottles that I had saved for this very purpose. For large loads you can use 1/2-3/4 cup of the detergent. It should be shaken or stirred before using.

And Luke gave me the perfect opportunity to test it out today when he got a hold of a decorating bag full of buttercream. Greasy, green buttercream. I didn't pre-treat the jeans at all, on purpose. I always wash in cold water and I used 1/2 cup for my large load. At first, it was like little gelatenous lumps mixing around in the wash water but it did mix in once it had a chance to agitate. I was pleasantly surprised to see the jeans come out of the wash sans said buttercream! Just take a look---->

Not only is this a cheaper method for cleaning clothes, it's much better for the environment. Commercially made laundry detergents contain a "laundry list" (pun intended) of chemicals that are harmful to humans and animals. I was gonna go into this long post on the dangers of commercially made laundry soap but instead I'll add a link for you to read that's very informative. Click HERE to read.
If you enjoy the scent laundry soap leaves on your clothes, you can add essential oil to your detergent. I, however, am still using commercially made fabric softener. Once I'm done with my dozens of bottles of that, I want to try making that as well.
I encourage you to try making your own. It's not hard or time consuming at all. Who doesn't wanna save money? And being eco-friendly is an added bonus!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Our 10th Annual Mother's Day Bronx Zoo Trip

Since Zachary was a year and a half we've gone to the Bronx Zoo on Mother's Day. My family and I and Cory's parents. I can remember one of our first trips, thinking how clean and beautifully kept the zoo is. So many animals and rarely did you smell them. We like to buy memberships because they're good for 1 year from the month of purchase so we get in 2 times on one membership. The membership also includes free admission to other zoo's in and around NYC. The only other one we've visited was the NY Aquarium at Coney Island.

We all have our favorites at the zoo but the monkeys are quite popular with all of us. We enjoy looking for the babies.

It's also been fun to take the same pictures and compare them from year to year. This is in the reptile house, not one of my favorites as I have a HUGE fear of snakes. We still remember Samantha, one of the largest anaconda's in captivity. We visited her each year until there was a sign posted on her exhibit saying she had passed. We talk about her every time we're there.

We also found out after the first year, after having $7.00 hot dogs for lunch, that we're better off bringing a picnic lunch. So every year I make piles of sandwiches and pack all the trimmings for them, and macaroni salad and potato salad. My Mother-In-Law brings snacks and drinks and we pull this massive wagon around toting our cooler.
This year was one of our colder visits and we were all glad to have had extra sweatshirts and a blanket for Luke. We always enjoy the days when the weather isn't wonderful because the zoo isn't as crowded. It's really special to create family traditions with my boys and I'm looking forward to next year!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sometimes Crack Kills......with cuteness!

This is Luke's newest thing.....the sink! He has this cute little red chair that he got for Christmas and if I had foreseen what said chair would be used for, it would have never entered my door! So his cute little red chair takes its rightful place on the counter top just about every day. There are some days, however, that I forget. On those days I hear the kitchen chairs being pushed across the floor. Today was one of those days when I forgot. I came out of the laundry room after putting a load in the washer to this.....

The little red chair took it's place back on the counter......again. And his diaper is so full of water from pouring it on himself that it's barely covering his little hiney!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hand Me Downs

As you know, I've got 3 sons. What you may not know is that they're all 5 years apart and were born in June, July and August. Zachary is August 15th, Max is June 15th and I tried to have my OB induce Luke on July 15th but he wouldn'! So Luke is July 26th. I never really thought about being Eco-friendly when I put Zachary's outgrown clothes and sneakers in the shed for Max, knowing that each season's fashions would sit in the shed for 4+ years. It was really all about money at the time. It's always been tight and clothes are expensive! Zachary was always so gentle on clothes and he grew so fast that he rarely wore anything out. I don't really get to put Max's old clothes away for Luke because he's very rough on clothes, ya know, the busted out knees, frayed shirt cuffs, stains in every possible spot. Luckily I've got a friend from church who has given me 95% of Luke's wardrobe.

I'm glad now, for different reasons, that we were able to do the hand-me-down thing. What a perfect way to be more eco-friendly! Do you do hand-me-downs?