Monday, March 31, 2008

AND TO THINK I DRINK THIS STUFF!

At the risk of sounding a little goofy...
One of the little pleasures of my day, each and every single day, is to have a Diet Coke...or two...or sometimes maybe three. I find myself grinning with the anticipation of the cold frosty burn that will cause me to shake my head and shiver my shoulders with that first sip. Oh, since I'm being all honest and vulnerable here, let's call it what it really is...my first big gulp!

I don't really spend a lot of money on small pleasures. I don't make a lot of impulse buys for myself, or for our home. I don't often get a pedicure, or even a manicure. I don't drink a lot of fancy coffee, unless it's really cold; but if you read this post, you know that is hardly ever! I do ~ however ~ spend money almost every single day on a fountain soda. They just taste better in my opinion; and nobody ~ I mean NOBODY ~ does it better than Sonic!

Two o'clock p.m. is the magic time for me. I've been known to give a giddy giggle and a little clap as the hour draws near, "In two and half hours, it's Sonic time!" You get the picture. Every day from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. is Happy Hour, and that means that all fountain drinks are half price! So every day, on my way to pick up the kids from school, I pull into Sonic and order a Route 44 Diet Coke with easy ice, regular cherry syrup, vanilla, and real cherries. It costs $1.03. I know, I know... That's $5.15 for the entire school week, but it's so worth it to me. I get so much more enjoyment from the fountain soda than if I swung through the drive-thru of a trendy coffee establishment where I would spend more than that for a mere two cups! Not that trendy coffee is bad...Diet Coke is just better!

Once the fountain soda is in hand, I proceed to sit in the school pick-up line (at least thirty minutes before the bell rings), roll the car windows down if the weather permits, and enjoy every single sip of that pure joy in a cup! This small pleasure gives me such great pleasure. It's one of the most relaxing times of the day. I enjoy the quiet...the anticipation of the kids being home for the afternoon...the reading of passages in my Bible...the working of a crossword puzzle or word search... the music on the radio... It is just a peaceful time for me, and I'm thankful for it.

If I do have another Diet Coke during the day, it's just from a can, or a bottle, at home ~ much like the ones that these fellows are using in this video. I would post it here for you, but they really prefer that you watch it over at their place, and I'm totally cool with that. I hope you'll check it out, though, because it's really funny...and amazing...and slightly scary for a Diet Coke drinker like me!


Ann Kroeker is hosting "Monday FunDay" ~ "a
carnival dedicated to swapping simple, amusing – maybe even silly – everyday ways you enjoy good, clean fun" ~ over at her blog. I had a "Monday FunDay" watching this video today! And even though I will never have one with Mentos, every day will be a FunDay when I have my Diet Coke!

You can find other fun ideas over at Ann's blog,

and y'all know...we can all use a little fun now and then ~ especially on Mondays!

LIKE TWO SHIPS PASSING IN THE NIGHT...

Such will be the week at the House of Brownstone!

Oh, mercy! We have a crazy busy week, with lots of fun activities planned for one and all. Dinners this week will have to be super easy to prepare, and the clean-up will have to be even easier.

MONDAY -
We will be having baked ham, scalloped pineapples, corn-on-the-cob, and green peas. We will also have a Scout meeting and the final run-through and costume adjustments for the living museum book report that Tornado has on Tuesday. (See below for Scalloped Pineapples recipe!)

TUESDAY - We will have leftover ham to use for sandwiches, along with chips and fruit. I will not lie ~ there is a strong possibility that this could be a drive-thru night as well. Tornado has an activity that requires us to be gone from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. We also have another Scout meeting that afternoon. It might be hard to even make sandwiches! It's a good thing I like ham because that could be lunch for me for the rest of the week!

WEDNESDAY - We will be dining for $10 at our church! The menu for the night is Chicken Parmesan, Garlic Bread, Salad, and Chocolate Cake. Yum!!!

THURSDAY - I have Titus 2 Talks for the women's ministry at our church. I'll grab something quick before the meeting, and Mr. Brownstone and the kids get to have free-for-all!

FRIDAY - There is a really special Dad/Child activity at church that includes concessions, so that means it's Girl's Night Out for the other moms and me!

SATURDAY - We don't have too much going on of which we know...yet! The plan is to have
Lemon Garlic Turkey Tenderloin, rice, and broccoli.

SUNDAY - I can't imagine that this Sunday will be different from any other Sunday...it is always a time for lunch and/or dinner with our friends, and I can't imagine it (or wouldn't want it) any other way!

The following recipe is courtesy of my mom's recipe box:

Scalloped Pineapples

2 cups sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup butter, melted
¾ cup milk
1 large can crushed pineapple, drained
8 slices bread, crusts removed and cubed

Mix together all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on high for 2 hours. Reduce heat to low, and cook one more hour. Eat hot as a side dish to ham, or poultry. Eat chilled with vanilla ice cream, or frozen yogurt.

Enjoy!!!

To see more recipes from the Brownstone kitchen and my mom's box, click here!

As always, thanks to
Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie
for hosting
each and every week!

Menu Plan Monday Participants

1. Tamy ~ 3 Sides of Crazy

2. annie


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Sunday, March 30, 2008

TRACK SPIKES, TENNIS RACKETS, AND CORN FLAKE MACAROONS!

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Mrs. Brownstone. (Well, she wasn't always Mrs. Brownstone, but that's neither here nor there.) She lived in a little place called Our Town. And by "little place"...well, let's just that actually means "little place".

Lots of people have asked her through the years if she ever wished she had grown up in the city; but Mrs. Brownstone always thinks about it for only a moment before shaking her head in a "no". She thinks Our Town was a great place in which to grow up and have experiences that might not have been as readily available in a big city. She got to do LOTS of things.

Through the course of her eighteen years before college, she was involved in at least three kinds of dance; learned to play six different instruments; participated in five sports for fun and a little competition; participated in five different Varsity sports for fun and serious competition; played in three different kinds of bands; learned lots of things in organizations like Girl Scouts, 4-H, and Future Homemakers of America; participated in lots of academic and literary competitions like poetry and prose reading and four different kinds of competitive writing; got to be an editor and a writer in journalism; participated in all facets of drama; was active in Student and Class Councils; and was a National Honor Society member, among other various activities and accolades.

Growing up in a small town afforded Mrs. Brownstone lots of opportunities, the most important of which was the opportunity to be well-rounded. She never had to choose only one thing in which to participate or excel, and there was never a great expense to participate, because Our Town needed every member! At the same time, there was never a lot of pressure to be the best! There were not a lot of other things to do in Our Town, so these things were considered more fun and play than work and responsibility.

Though Mrs. Brownstone excelled at some things (like running), she was certainly not the best at everything (like tennis). BUT...I'll tell you one thing ~ that girl could make a mean batch of Corn Flake Macaroons! One year Mrs. Brownstone entered this delight of the cookie family into a 4-H cooking competition. And GUESS WHAT!?!!
She won!!!


Amongst the medals and trophies...amongst the broken tennis rackets and nearly new swim goggles...she still has that beautiful little blue rosette ribbon. Maybe she should just bust that sucker out of the storage box and display it in her kitchen! In the hustle and bustle of city life, it might be a good reminder for Mr. Brownstone that she actually CAN cook!
(Or at least bake...)


Following is the prize-winning recipe, courtesy of her mom's recipe box:

Corn Flake Macaroons

2 egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup sugar
2 cups corn flakes
½ cup nuts
¾ cup coconut

Place egg whites and vanilla in
mixing bowl; beat until foamy. Gradually add sugar while beating. Beat until stiff and glossy. Fold in flakes, nuts, and coconut. Drop by level tablespoon onto well-greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. Immediately remove from baking sheet.

Happy Baking!


Thanks to Mercedes at Mercedes Rocks
for inspiring this post through her

The theme this week was "cookies"!
For other great cookie recipes, click the graphic!
For other great recipes from the kitchen of Mrs. Brownstone, click here!

Friday, March 28, 2008

TAXES AND LAUGHTER DON'T MIX!

Or do they???

I was doing a little blog hopping this morning and came across
Mad Kane's Humor Blog. She is challenging her readers to write a haiku, a limerick, or both in honor of April 15, otherwise known here in the United States as "Tax Day". Never one to back down from a little poetry challenge, below you will find my efforts!

A little limerick for you:

Mr. Brownstone our taxes doth file,
And never has he cracked a smile;
But this year invokes hollers ~
For the extra TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ~
Due to kids and our walk down the aisle!

And now the haiku:

Why are we waiting
Until the dead last minute

To file a REFUND?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE MOM?

Last week was a really great week! The kids were home for Spring Break, and we had so much fun!

I am always so thankful when we get to spend truly quality time together without having to worry about homework, extra-curricular activities, dinner, baths, and bedtime...only to repeat the process the following day.

When they are home and free to "just be", I am continually reminded of their creativity, their energy, their wisdom, and their wit! In honor of the little jokesters, I give you my fourth edition of Thursday Thirteen!


Thirteen Jokes My Kids Love To Tell That Make Me Laugh Every Time!
  1. Why does Peter Pan fly around everywhere?
    Because he can never, never land!

  2. Knock, knock.
    Who's there?
    Liza.
    Liza who?
    Liza get you nothing but trouble!

  3. What did the witch order when she stayed in a hotel?
    Broom Service!

  4. Knock, knock.
    Who's there?
    Anita.
    Anita who?
    Anita Knapp

  5. What did the ghost say to the invisible man?
    Long time, no see!

  6. Knock, knock.
    Who's there?
    Boo.
    Boo who?
    Why are you crying? I'm just telling a knock knock joke!

  7. What do snakes do after they fight?
    Hiss and make up!

  8. Knock, knock.
    Who's there?
    Emma.
    Emma who?
    Emma cracking you up yet?

  9. What kind of witch lives on a beach?
    A sandwich!

  10. Why is six afraid of seven?
    Because seven eight nine.

  11. Knock, knock.
    Who's there?
    The interrupting cow.
    The interrupting cow wh...
    MOOO!!! (Done in an interrupting sort of way, of course!)

  12. Why couldn't the eleven-year-old see the pirate movie?
    Because it was rated "Arrrgh"!

  13. Knock, knock.
    Who's there?
    Banana.
    Banana who?
    Banana.
    Banana who?
    Banana.
    BANANA WHO?
    Orange.
    Orange who?
    Orange you glad I didn't say banana!
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Thursday Thirteen Participants
1. zenmomma
2. MissMeliss
3. pussreboots
4. Mercedes
5. Susan Helene Gottfried
6. Many Little Blessings
7. tipsandtricks
8. Joyce T.
9. Danna
10. Starrlight
11. Phyl
12. Nicole
13. Rims
14. Sarah in Disturbia
15. Jennifer
16. misty
17. Cindy Swanson
18. On Shades of Gray
19. e-Mom @ Chrysalis
20. Monica
21. Thebluestbutterfly
22. Pretty Life Online
23. Vera
24. Smiler
25. Malcolm
26. Celticlibrarian

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN THE SOUTH WHEN...

In honor of the GORGEOUS weather we've been having around here, I thought I might give all y'all folks who might think I'm rubbing it in by bragging about how it's been in the 70's (and even the 80's) this week, exactly what we still have to look forward to here in "the South"... 'cause it's all fun and games until somebody gets burned!

  1. You notice the radiator is overheating before you even start the car.
  2. You no longer associate bridges over rivers (or even the rivers) with water.
  3. The thermometer in the lid of your Bar-B-Que Grill shows 150 degrees before you light it.
  4. You hear the weather forecast for 105 degrees and don't even flinch 'cause that's nothing!
  5. You are skilled in using only two fingers to drive your car because your steering wheel is so hot.
  6. You can make instant sun tea...instantly.
  7. The best parking is determined by shade...not distance.
  8. Hotter water comes from the cold water tap than from the hot one.
  9. You need an oven mitt to open the car door.
  10. Sunscreen with less than 50 SPF is called "hand cream".
  11. You consider fabric the deluxe interior because leather sticks to your legs.
  12. You learn that a seat belt makes a pretty good branding iron...
  13. Your biggest bicycle wreck fear..."What if I get knocked out and lay on the pavement and cook to death?"
  14. You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
  15. At the first cool spell (anything below 70 degrees ~ Brrr!!!), you declare it's "good weather for chili".
  16. You know ALL SIX seasons:
    Spring ~ February 16 to April 15 (temp: 50 to 85 degrees)
    Summer ~ April 16 to July 15 (temp: 90 to 98 degrees)
    Super Summer ~ July 16 to September 10 (temp: 100 to 115 degrees)
    Still Summer ~ September 11 to October 1 (temp: 90 to 98 degrees)
    Fall ~ October 2 to December 1 (temp: 50 to 85 degrees)
    Winter ~ December 2 to February 15 (temp: anything below 45, but it always feels like -10 because of the wind!)
  17. And finally, you know that green grass DOES burn!
Thanks to Mercedes at Mercedes Rocks
for encouraging us to find a little each week!

THE HIGH PRICE OF FASHION

Every Spring it has to be done. Every Fall it needs to be done, too.

Closets. Those dreaded closets!

Unfortunately, they need to be cleaned out, reorganized, and sometimes replenished! Things need to be mended...things do not fit...things are simply out-of-style.

Now, cleaning out my closet is one thing....
But cleaning out the kids' closets??? That is something ENTIRELY different!

They do not like to do it!
It is not always easy...
It is always time-consuming...
And most of all...it is BOR-ING!

HOWEVER...

I have found an awesome and simple way that works-for-me to get our children to help in this often irksome and tiresome process...with no whining...no complaining...and no battle.

AND they try every single piece of clothing!!!
We can see what still fits...what did not weather well through storage...what needs to be hemmed...

You must be asking...
"How do you do this?
No whining? No complaining? No battle? AND they try on everything? EVERYTHING???"

My answer? "Yes!"
Every.
Single.
Thing.

We have the "Brownstone Fashion Show" with Fall and Spring Collections. It is so much fun because it's like playing dress-up or make-believe. We have judges. We have music. And the models get paid.

Paying my models...THAT is the key!
They get $.05 per item. To them, it's like getting "supermodel pay".

Do I feel guilty for bribing my kids?
Not for one single second!
The ease of cleaning out the closets...the visual of what needs to be mended, donated, or purchased...and simply the sheer fun it brings alone...

Just the fun is worth it...
Every.
Single.
Penny!


Visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer to see more

tips this week!

And visit Ann Kroeker, the hostess of "Monday FunDay" ~ "a carnival dedicated to swapping simple, amusing – maybe even silly – everyday ways you enjoy good, clean fun" ~ over at her blog. We had such a "Monday FunDay" having a "Brownstone Fashion Show" this week that I didn't even have a chance to blog on Monday! Maybe this FunDay will work-for-you, too!

You can find other fun ideas over at Ann's blog,

and y'all know...we can all use a little fun now and then ~ especially on Mondays!

Click here to see my other Works-For-Me-Wednesday tips:
  • what meaningful gesture of love we use with our children
  • what we've learned about dining in and dining out
  • "Backwards Edition" tips for shopping at CVS
  • "Backwards Edition" tips for removing white spots/rings from furniture
  • how we master math in the Brownstone household
  • "Backwards Edition" tips for correct "tipping" etiquette in almost any situation
  • how I get my kids (and Mr. Brownstone!) to try new vegetables and love them
  • how we make traveling with kids easier
Click here to find out what works for us regarding chores and allowance!

Click here to see what easy recipes are working for us!

Click here to see my other Monday FunDay ideas!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

TEN THINGS TUESDAY

XBOX Wife Ten Things Tuesday
  1. It is shaping up to be a gorgeous day ~ not too hot for a jacket and not too cold for shorts! No matter your temperature preference, you can be happy on a day like today!
  2. We had a wonderful Easter! No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to wrap my head around the sacrifice Christ made for me...and for you!!! I'm so thankful for my redemption.
  3. We have wonderful friends and family with whom we were able to celebrate this special day!
  4. Spring Break was awesome! It was so much fun to have the kids home for a whole week. I will sorely miss them today, and that's a good thing!
  5. One of my children has an activity on Tuesdays that is a step toward fulfilling a lifelong dream. If a desire begins at age two for a child and never wanes, I feel confident in calling it "a lifelong dream". :)
  6. I am so thankful that Mr. Brownstone works so hard to provide for our family. I know he's so tired at the end of each day, but he stays involved with the kids and with me. Tuesdays are the longest day of the week for him because they start the earliest. Say a little prayer with me that he finds the energy he needs to have a great day! He deserves a great day!
  7. "Ten Things Tuesday" has an awesome new button!!! Grab one for your blog!!!
  8. This means that there are some wonderful, helpful people in the blogosphere! Rachel Anne at Home Sanctuary and Michelle at Scribbit: Motherhood In Alaska...y'all rock!! Thank you so much for your help this week! I appreciate not only that y'all both took time out of your day to give me personal and detailed responses, but y'all contribute amazing quality to the blogosphere!
  9. And I'd be remiss not to mention Chilihead at Blogging Basics 101. Her in depth blog about blogging has incredible step-by-step instructions for just about every question.
  10. There are some creative and generous people in the blogosphere, too. Dennis Hill and Friends have a great website with amazing photographs, and they...are all...FREE!!!
Ten Things Tuesday Participants
1. Jennifer
2. Dyane
3. mzzterry
4. Jill
5. Jennifer
6. Shana
7. Tyler
8. Mercedes\' World
9. Jason
10. Danna
11. Dallas
12. Kathryn

Learn more about Ten Things Tuesday here.
Get The Code

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

THIS LIST IS BANANAS...B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

This list is bananas...B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
THIS LIST IS BANANAS...
B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

We can all go a little crazy sometimes, and by no means are any of us perfect.
But what are the imperfections in life that drive you a little bananas???

At the risk of needing to add myself to the following list for even creating the following list...


Thirteen Things That Drive Me Bananas!
  1. gum smacking, food smacking, dry mouth smacking ~ The only smacking I want to hear is from the sweet kisses of Tornado and Twister.
  2. food attached to any part of an adult face ~ Really? You can't feel that? Use a napkin!
  3. nail biting ~ Come on...it's just a nasty habit.
  4. nose picking ~ Note to nose pickers: You are not invisible inside of your car; we can still see you and the lower half of your finger!
  5. mumbling ~ If a former speech therapist can't even understand you, then you're in pretty big trouble.
  6. negativity and/or discontentment ~ Find your joy...even when it's hard to find! (I do realize that I'm driving myself a little bit bananas by creating this list!)
  7. money talk ~ Whether you have it or you don't, it's not my ~ or anyone else's ~ business!
  8. one-upping ~ We all know the type..."my story is better than your story." Everyone deserves to have the best story when their's really is the best. Give them a chance to shine, too!
  9. inconsistency ~ Say what you mean...and mean what you say! Please do not talk out both sides of your mouth.
  10. rude drivers ~ Just an observance: You are probably going to arrive at your destination around the same time, whether you cut someone off or not. Also, giving someone "the bird" only seems to make you madder, and it probably gives the other driver a chuckle. (Can you say "junior high"?) And finally...your car is not a barber shop, a beauty shop, a therapist chair, a restaurant, a work desk, or a bed!
  11. channel surfing ~ This means YOU, Mr. Brownstone! Here's a novel idea: Pick something, and watch it!
  12. "headlights" ~ These are not always a "bright" idea! Even if you think you don't need a bra...invest in a good bra! And if you know you need a bra? Invest in a really good bra!
  13. hiney cracks ~ Please, pull up your pants...nobody wants to see that! "Crack" is not an accessory!
One final disclaimer: I must admit that at times I am guilty of more than one or two of these! This list is definitely written with an attitude of finding the humor in these ~ or any ~ craze-inducing situations! And like the saying goes, "Nobody's Perfect!"

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Wednesday, March 19, 2008

UP TO THE MOON AND BACK...

Upon viewing this, I'm sure you want to ask...

"What
on earth
is that?"

I can't blame you for wondering...
Because I'd be wondering, too...
It's an odd sort of picture to be posting on a blog.
Especially on an entry about showing kids how much they are loved!

Earlier today, I was cleaning out and organizing the drawers in Tornado's bedroom, when I came across this stack. At first, I was a bit surprised and wondering what on earth these were doing in the drawer!?!! That feeling was quickly followed by a healthy round of tears and a nice thick lump in my throat, as I had the big "A-Ha!!!" moment. Have you guessed what they are yet?

These are most ~ if not all ~ of the napkins that I have written love notes on for Tornado's lunch box this year!
And I found them tucked safely away in a drawer...
Some pristinely clean...
Others rumpled and dirty...
Some shriveled up from water blots...

All with a love message from me.
Or Mr. Brownstone...Or Twister...Or a grandparent!

The notes are not difficult to write. We always keep them short and simple ~ just a brief "Have A GREAT Day!" like the one shown, or "You bring a smile to my face!" Sometimes they include an apology..."I'm sorry we had a rough morning...", or "I was a little grumpy, and I'm sorry." Sometimes they have a little sketch of something...a smiley face, an ice cream cone, a big sunshine, or roller skates. Sometimes they are a reminder..."Two more days until vacation...", or "It's Friday! Yippee!!!" Sometimes they are an encourager..."Good luck in your play tonight! I can't wait to see you!" or "You are a reading and writing machine! Good luck on your test!" Sometimes they are a thank you note..."Thanks for being such a great helper on Saturday!" Sometimes they are wistful..."I had so much fun with you this week!" or "You are growing up so fast!" Sometimes they are a witty play on the napkin...a blue napkin reads, "We are so 'blue' without you! Can't wait until 3:00!" A jack-o-lantern napkin reads..."You make me smile like this guy!" And always, always...they are an "I love you!"

Clearly, this gesture of love is working for Tornado. Apparently, it's also working for Twister. After this find, of course I had to rummage through those drawers, too! Just guess what I found... In fact, upon further digging for both kids, I found stacks and stacks of little napkins dating all the way back to preschool!!! The really funny thing is this...I am the one that cleans out the lunch boxes each day. Not once have a found a napkin inside. I just assumed that they had been tossed away at school. The notes obviously were so meaningful to them that they stashed them away at school so they could save them once home. And that is meaningful to me!

Visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer to see more

tips this week!

Click here to see my other Works-For-Me-Wednesday tips:
  • what we've learned about dining in and dining out
  • "Backwards Edition" tips for shopping at CVS
  • "Backwards Edition" tips for removing white spots/rings from furniture
  • how we master math in the Brownstone household
  • "Backwards Edition" tips for correct "tipping" etiquette in almost any situation
  • how I get my kids (and Mr. Brownstone!) to try new vegetables and love them
  • how we make traveling with kids easier
Click here to find out what works for us regarding chores and allowance!

Click here to see what easy recipes are working for us!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TEN THINGS TUESDAY!

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

It's "Ten Things Tuesday", and that means it is time to put your on your happy face, and share your ten things for which you're thankful for today!!
And if your happy face is hiding? Make your list anyway, and just see if it doesn't make an appearance!
  1. I got to sleep in this morning!!!
  2. It was easy because it is a beautiful rainy day ~ one of my favorite kinds of day!
  3. Mr. Brownstone is a real sweetheart because he was extra quiet when he got ready for work today.
  4. We've all been a bit tired because we traveled over the weekend ~ we had a wonderful weekend!
  5. Thing 14 arrived in this world, beautiful and healthy!!!
  6. We got to spend a lot of time with my family this weekend, and it was so much fun!
  7. Tornado and Twister are home because it is Spring Break!
  8. We have something fun to look forward to in a couple of hours.
  9. I logged in to XBOX Wife and was able to admire my new look for Spring! (Don't you just love it???)
  10. I have awesome friends!
Here's how this little carnival of blessings, thanksgiving, and happiness works:

"Ten Things Tuesday" Guidelines
  • Each Tuesday, I will post a list of ten things that I am thankful for that day.
  • Write a post listing your ten things that you are thankful for that have happened that day - no matter what time! If you find this list on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday...by all means, post and link anyway!
  • Have fun with it, and be thankful!
  • Please come back to my "Ten Things" post for the day, and post a link to your actual post ~ not the front page of your blog ~ in the "Mr. Linky" section. That way, people can find the exact post for which they are looking!
  • And please, please, please...provide a link back to my page on your actual post, so other people can join in the fun and thanksgiving; and so they will know that XBOX Wife is the hostess of this carnival. An additional link in your sidebar would be awesome, too! That we people can find this even if Tuesday has come and gone! If you aren't sure how to create a link, email me, and I'll be glad to help. By you providing a link to me, and by me providing a place for you to link, it will be a great way to help this thing grow! This will be the hub of all the activity, but it will be beneficial to everyone that participates. (Soon, I'll have a really cool button you can add to your blog, too!)
  • Please do not host your own "Ten Things" ~ it's something I'm passionate about, and I'd like for people to link back here!
  • Be sure and click on other people's lists and leave them comments, too! By encouraging one another, and by celebrating what we each have to be thankful for...well, that will just bless all of us! Don't forget to leave a comment here, too!
  • Come back next week for more of "Ten Things Tuesday"!!!
Ten Things Tuesday Participants
1. Jennifer
2. Jill
3. Jennifer
4. Jayne
5. Danna Ramsey
6. Shana

Learn more about Ten Things Tuesday here.
Get The Code

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Monday, March 17, 2008

RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT

Do you remember playing "Red Light, Green Light" in the schoolyard during recess? How about "Mother, May I?", "What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf?", or "Simon Says"?

When I was young, we didn't have a lot of expensive playground equipment like many schools today. Recess was a time for "Tag", "Red Rover", "Hopscotch", races, and jump roping, not to mention all of the clapping games! We got creative, and some of my best early memories are those of the playground. When Tornado started to school, all of those memories came flooding back to me. Though I could not remember a lot of the rules or lyrics to the games, it just so happened to be the time of Google! Lucky me!!! I won't say it was a complete and total breeze to find what we were looking for back then, but it wasn't really that hard either. After a few clicks, we had several sites giving us all the information we could want for many of those old games!

Today was the first day of Spring Break for Tornado and Twister, and it was a gorgeous day! With the threat of rain and cooler temperatures tomorrow, we played outside for hours! We had so much fun playing these games from my childhood. Of course, I was always "It" ~ whether "It" was "Simon", "Mr. Wolf", or the "Traffic Cop".
We were even inspired to make up new games with math facts and spelling words, too! The kids laughed and giggled and screamed and jumped and practiced schoolwork without even realizing it...we had the best time!

What games do you remember from childhood? I'd love to hear from you in the comment section!

Ann Kroeker is hosting "Monday FunDay" ~ "a carnival dedicated to swapping simple, amusing – maybe even silly – everyday ways you enjoy good, clean fun" ~ over at her blog. We really had a "Monday FunDay" playing these silly games today! Try them sometime, and see for yourself!

You can find other fun ideas over at Ann's blog,

and y'all know...we can all use a little fun now and then ~ especially on Mondays!


WHATCHA GOT COOKIN'???

The Brownstone Family has not done a good job of dining IN the past few months. Dining out? We've perfected it to a fine art. And quite frankly...we are all tired of it! While we do realize that dining out is definitely a part of our week, we are making a concentrated effort to eat at home.

Before my forced blogging hiatus, I was a regular contributor to Menu Plan Monday. Though a large part of my fall away from the kitchen was unavoidable, I must admit that another part of it was that I stopped planning ahead for the week. It was easier to just pick up something, or run to the nearest restaurant. But...too much of a good thing is not always a good thing!

With encouragement from Rachel Anne at Home Sanctuary, I am jumping back into Menu Plan Monday with both feet. Rachel Anne's challenge for today is to plan out a five day menu. She reminds us that 1) cooking does not have to be elaborate to count; and that 2) some days are just destined to be days for takeout, or a restaurant...and that's OK! (This week, I am thankful for point #2 because even though we are officially back on the "eat-at-home" band wagon, we do have some dining out planned for special circumstances!)

Here's what's cooking in the Brownstone kitchen!

MONDAY - We will have a delicious meal of roast turkey breast tenderloin, rice, and steamed broccoli! This tenderloin is so easy to make. You literally take it from the package, put it in a dish, and bake it for an hour and a half. There is no hassle and no mess!

TUESDAY - For the month of "March Madness", we are in a "Tuesday Night Supper Club" with some friends. Weather permitting, we will be dining outside on $6 pizza, while the kids enjoy a free meal per paying adult. Now $12 might sound like a high price for pizza for two adults, but when you factor in that it feeds both of us for dinner, as well as lunch the next day, and it includes as many toppings as we want, as well as the free kids' meals...well, I call that a pretty great deal!

WEDNESDAY - We are having Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup. It will be something easy that I can throw into the crock pot the night before and then start simmering on Wednesday morning.

THURSDAY -
We have a special family celebration, so we will be dining out that night!

FRIDAY -
We are having Taco Soup! Two words ~ Yum. Yum. (See the recipe for Taco Soup below!)

SATURDAY -
Tornado and Twister have been BEG-GING for homemade spaghetti sauce! We will have that with spaghetti noodles, of course, along with tossed salad, and Texas Toast.

SUNDAY -
Easter Sunday is always a time spent with family, and there is always a ham or a brisket, potato casserole, hot rolls, green beans, and some form of yummy dessert. We haven't received our assignment yet, but the meal will be awesome, and the time with family ~ even better!


From my mom's recipe box:

Taco Soup

2 pounds ground chuck or turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 can Hormel chili
2 cans pinto beans, undrained
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes (your flavor choice!)
1 pound Kraft Velveeta Mexican cheese, cubed
1 16-ounce carton sour cream
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Brown the first two ingredients. Drain, and then place in a large pot. Add the remaining ingredients, and heat until cheese melts. Serve over Fritos Original Corn Chips.

Enjoy!!!

To see more recipes from the Brownstone kitchen, click here!

As always, thanks to
Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie
for hosting
each and every week!

And thanks as well to
Rachel Anne at Home Sanctuary
for hosting
on Monday through Friday each week
and helping me (and a whole lot of other people) to make
"a little bit of progress every day"
in creating a wonderful home!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

OPEN WIDE!

I recently read somewhere that an estimated 30 - 40 million people in America suffer from "Dental Phobia". They are so afraid of going to the dentist, they do not seek any form of dental care at all. EVER! There is a LOT of stinky breath out there if 30 - 40 million people are not even getting their teeth cleaned during the year!

I am one of those people that does not suffer from "Dental Phobia". In fact, I'm not even a little bit scared! And that is inspiration enough for my Second Edition of Thursday Thirteen!

Thirteen Things I Love About Going To The Dentist!

  1. It's not like the doctor's office. You can usually read the magazines without worrying about catching the flu!
  2. The receptionists are always super sweet because they secretly feel sorry for you.
  3. You get to sit in a really cool chair with lots of buttons and levers with which to experiment when the dentist steps out of the room!
  4. They lay all of the instruments out on a tray in front of you, and you have lots of time to imagine that for which they are used.
  5. They can make pretty pink polka dots on your pearly whites with those little plaque-finder tablets.
  6. The funny feeling you get in your stomach feels like riding a roller coaster ~ only you don't have to wait in a long line.
  7. They have lots of things like movies goggles and cool music to divert your attention from when the dentist says things like "This won't hurt a bit...", "Now you might feel a little pressure...", "Open wide, please...wider, wider..."!
  8. Nobody thinks you're a sissy if you get teary-eyed.
  9. It's perfectly legal to request "happy gas"!
  10. You get to drink from a tiny cup, and then spit in public without being ostracized.
  11. You can slobber and sound like your drunk, but it's still safe to drive home.
  12. It's fun to run your tongue over freshly cleaned teeth and say, "Mmm!"
  13. He's my dad!!! And that's the reason I love most of all!

Now...I need someone to give me a new reason for #13 because the only dentist I have ever been to in my whole life is about to retire! Yikes!!! I could quickly become #40,000,001 if there isn't another great reason!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

TO DINE...OR NOT TO DINE?

I grew up in a very small town...a town so small that you could count all of the restaurants on one hand. To be honest, counting them would not even require all of the fingers on that one hand! Needless to say, we ate at home ~ a lot!

Today, I live in a much larger town. It's not even a town really...it's more like a metropolis. Maybe it's city life, or maybe it's just this day and age, but people do not seem to eat at home as often anymore.

And I don't think it's just the Brownstones.


Everywhere you look, at almost anytime of day, cars are packed into the parking lots of fast food joints, fine dining restaurants, and all types of eating establishments in between the two.
Maybe it's the bright ~ sometimes flashing ~ neon lights of the whimsical signs that draw us in, promising a fun atmosphere.
Maybe it's the commercials on television with their catchy theme songs and tables of people talking and laughing over plates of colorful, steaming food that promise lots of great bonding over a delicious meal.
Maybe what lures us in is the thought of not having to prepare the meal, or clean up after it for that matter, promising lots of free time and a clean kitchen.
Maybe ~ just maybe ~ we are trying to keep up with Joneses.

Well, I'm telling you...the Brownstones have been on a roll the past few months! We have eaten at so many different restaurants I can't even begin to count them all. It would require all of my fingers. And all of my toes. Oh, let's just be honest here ~ it would still require additional body parts! Remember what I said earlier about growing up in a small town?

That might sound glorious to some of you. It used to sound glorious to me! But let me tell you what I have learned from it because it just doesn't work...
  • Sometimes we are overstimulated! Bright lights do not necessarily equal fun. It's harder to remember the glory of the simple things when we have to be entertained all the time.
  • A catchy theme song does not always equal good food. It's easy to forget that the food in the commercial is the "star of the show", so it always looks perfect. The food we are ultimately served...well, that's real life food. And laughing customers do not mean there will be great conversation. Often it's really too loud to even talk ~ especially the kind of talking that we should be doing with our children over dinner. It's time to hear about their day!
  • Sometimes taking the easy way out really isn't that easy! When you factor in the time that it takes to drive to and from the restaurant, to order your food, to eat, and to pay the bill, are you really saving that much time? My children finally came to the point of literally groaning if they knew we were going to a restaurant for dinner. They expressed to me that they just wanted to be HOME! That, my friends, was a well-deserved knock upside my head! Sometimes, we just need to slow down.
  • And finally...in trying to keep up with the Joneses, will we ever actually be able to keep up with the Joneses? Probably not. Even if you eat only fast food, dining out gets expensive!
I also learned this...
There is definitely a time and place for dining in various types of restaurants. It is fun to meet friends over a carefree dinner. Some of my best memories from growing up are of eating at the local Dairy Queen every Sunday night after church. It was fun being a room filled with the laughter of so many people that we would not have all fit into one house. Though we opt for Sunday lunch instead of Sunday dinner, this is a tradition that we have carried on with our friends today! I have no doubt that some of my own children's best memories will be those of Sunday lunches with dear friends.

And dining out ~ when it's done occasionally ~ can be a really fun way to celebrate! We each get to choose our favorite restaurant, whether it be fast food or fine dining, to go and celebrate at some point during our birthday week. Those are special memories! I will never forget how one year Tornado picked McDonald's, and the very next year, the choice was Benihana!

But...there is nothing better than throwing together a simple meal at home and having your kids smell it and say,
"Mommy is cooking! We get to eat at HOME tonight!"
"We are having real food!"
"That smells soooo good!"
"This is the best thing I've ever eaten!"
"Mommy, you are the
best. chef. ever!"

That best thing they've ever eaten? You can find it below the post. It's one of the easiest things I know how to make. It's also very inexpensive and very easy to clean up the kitchen. Now that works-for-me!

Back to the beginning of the story...Thing 2, Thing 3, Thing 4, and myself are all still very close. We are also still close to our parents. And we all still frequently enjoy meals at home together. We talk often, and laugh much...and we know what is going on in one another's lives. I think a big part of that is what our parents instilled in us when we were young through family participation in preparation and cleanup, as well as many fun conversations around the dinner table. And those memories are even better than the ones from Dairy Queen!

A final thought ~ the less we eat at home, the more we are teaching our children to do the same. Kitchens are meant to be used!!! It's OK if they aren't completely spotless all the time! It is great fun for kids to help in the kitchen, and it creates a memory that will last a lifetime...which is WAY longer than the memory of that meal that saved you so much time!

Hobo Dinners, or "The Easiest Meal I Know How To Make"

2 pounds ground chuck or turkey
1 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
4 potatoes, sliced
1 bag carrots, halved and then sliced lengthwise into quarters
salt and pepper to taste

Line a jelly roll pan with heavy duty foil. Form meat into patties, and place on pan. (If you really want to make it easy, buy pre-made patties, though this does up the cost a bit.) Season with salt and pepper to your taste preference. Add potatoes, and season again. Then add carrots, onion, and pepper. Cover tightly with foil, and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Enjoy super easy preparation, a tasty one dish meal with your family, super easy cleanup, and loads of compliments from your kids!

Happy cooking!

Visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer to see more

tips this week!

Click here to see my other Works-For-Me-Wednesday tips:
  • "Backwards Edition" tips for shopping at CVS
  • "Backwards Edition" tips for removing white spots/rings from furniture
  • how we master math in the Brownstone household
  • "Backwards Edition" tips for correct "tipping" etiquette in almost any situation
  • how I get my kids (and Mr. Brownstone!) to try new vegetables and love them
  • how we make traveling with kids easier
Click here to find out what works for us regarding chores and allowance!

Click here to see what other easy recipes are working for us!