Monday, April 30, 2012

Easy Lemon Poppyseed Cake {Menu Plan Monday}


This cake is so moist and pillowy.   It makes a perfect brunch bread or a tea-time treat.  It even gets better the second day.

1 package lemon cake mix
1 box instant lemon pudding mix
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup water
4 eggs
1/4 cup poppy seeds (more than one small container)

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray one bundt pan or two loaf pans with Pam Baking (with flour) and set aside.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  
Beat four minutes on medium speed.
Pour evenly into prepared baking pan.
Bake 45 minutes.

MENU PLAN for April 30-May 6, 2012

MONDAY - Leftover grilled chicken breasts and Truck Stop Potatoes
TUESDAY - Garlic and Lime Broiled Tilapia with leftover potatoes and Hungarian Shortbread (Baking With Julia)
WEDNESDAY - drive through (after Track meet)
THURSDAY - Grilled Chicken and Shrimp Fajitas with cilantro rice and my homemade salsa
FRIDAY - Leftover Fajitas Nachos
SATURDAY - Pizza Night with salads
SUNDAY - KC's Birthday Macaroni and Cheese with White Cupcakes

I'm Lovin' It at TidyMom


Friday, April 27, 2012

Tag I'm It {and So Are You!}

tagged me!

1.  Post these rules.
2.  Post a photo of yourself and then write 11 things about your life

3.  Answer the questions for you set in the original post.

4.  Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.

5.  Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you have tagged them.

11 things about my life:
  1. Flag Day 2012 will mark 16 years of marriage to my best friend and soul mate RW.  (I love you!)
  2. We have three boys ages 10, 9 and almost 4.
  3. I never ever ever thought I would have boys much less love having boys this much!
  4. I am an ENFP - writer, teacher, communicator, dreamer, super sensitive, homebody.
  5. Turning 40 (in October) is the most fantastically freeing feeling I have had in my adult life.  I am leaning into it and letting my inner eccentric out to play!
  6. Middle school is my favorite age group to teach and I have taught everything 6th -12th (English and Spanish).  
  7. I have been a SAHM since 2002 and just began blogging in 2011 at as a creative outlet.  It has transformed my inner life.
  8. I won my college's poetry contest with my poem entitled Roy-G-Biv,  shocking myself and all those "real poets" also in the English program. ;)
  9. As a youngster I vowed never to drink coffee.  Then I went to Spain.  Cafe con leche changed my mind forever.
  10. My dad passed away when I was 2 1/2 years old. 
  11. Staying home is preferable to travel to me.  Nothing compares to the peace I find in my own home, routine and quiet life. 

Now to answer the questions created by the Happy Housewife...

1. What is your favorite room in your home to be in?
It is not even in my house! I love being outside on the deck especially in the late afternoon with a glass of wine and a beautiful magazine to read.  The birds, the breeze and the warm sunshine puts me in a blissful state of mind. (ok so does the wine...)

2. If you were sick in bed, what one book would you like to have with you?
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  I first read it nearly 20 years ago and I can still get more out of it each time I go back to it.

3. What is your favorite household job/chore and why?
Cooking.  There is nothing more fun for me than listening to my iPod, chopping veggies and watching my kids play soccer in the backyard while I prepare dinner. It is my daily therapy session. A close second is doing laundry and third has to be grocery shopping.

4. If you were to give birth to a baby boy tomorrow, what would you name him?...I'm getting a bit selfish with these questions...I really do need these answers...
Believe me I have thought about this - Jace Ryan for sure.

5. Hot weather or cold?
Can I say mild? Sixties all day long is my dream day.

6. What is your favorite blog post that YOU wrote?

7. Candy: chocolate or non-chocolate?
Chocolate, preferably dark.  I have always disliked fruity candies and anything that sticks to my teeth.  

8. What is your favorite thing you grow in your garden (non-edible)?
Gardenia bushes - they are beautiful and scent the air like crazy.  Also limelight hydrangeas - perfect for cutting and bringing inside.   

9. What holiday do you look forward to the most?
Whichever one is next on the calendar.  I am a seasonal person and I love change.  Ok, that's not totally true.  Christmas. It's all about Christmas.

10. What are you asking for for Mother's Day (if anything)?
An iPad.  Stay tuned...

11. What is your favorite time of day?
Early, early morning.  That is when I have the most energy and the day seems full of  possibility.  If it's dark I light candles and when the sun begins to rise I open the window by my computer so I can hear the birds begin to sing.

My 11 New Questions:
  1. How did you get started blogging?
  2. Describe your favorite childhood memory.
  3. If you were known for one killer recipe you make what would it be?
  4. If you have a few hours to yourself, how would you love to spend them?
  5. Describe an aha moment that defined your life in some way.
  6. If you have money to spend on yourself do you buy shoes, clothes, books or something else?  Why?
  7. What was the worst job you have ever had?
  8. What is the last TV show you watched for yourself?
  9. Name a guilty pleasure (or two).
  10. Recommend one book that you think other people must read.
  11. Name five things you are grateful for right now.

I am tagging some of my favorite bloggers...

Jennifer :: Studio JRU
Liz Lamoreux :: be present, be here
Elisa :: Elisa Loves
Mary Jo :: Seeds of Peace
YOU! :: @yourblog Please consider yourself tagged if you feel like joining in.  Just leave me a comment when you post your response and I will add you to this list :)  


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway {PHFR}


Two weeks ago our family drove the Blue Ridge Parkway from Charlottesville, VA to Asheville, NC.  While in Charlottesville we visited Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson and in finished our trip with a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  Both places were fantastic for parents and children and we recommend them for family vacations.  Our whole family agreed, however, that the best part of the whole vacation was the scenery and hiking in the mountains. 


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Unfurling Into Yoga {52 Photos::Beginning}

What are you beginning right now?

What a great time to ask me this question.  Here at the high point of Spring, when school days are falling faster through the hourglass of time and the days are growing ever longer, here is where I begin to feel the urge to renew.  Suddenly I want a new routine, newly washed windows, new veggies in the pantry and new clothes in my wardrobe.  Because I tend toward excess in nearly every aspect of my life, I have to be careful not to begin too many things at once only to flop hard on my face when I am suddenly overwhelmed with all the new requirements I have imposed on myself.  

So, I have been considering this prompt and wondering where I most need to begin.  What one baby step can I afford to take right now that would benefit my life and scratch the itch of wanting everything renewed?

The answer bubbles up quite easily.  Yoga.  I began practicing yoga years and years ago.  It was a natural choice for me.  I am drawn to anything gentle, contemplative and beautiful.  I practiced so much before I had children that I can still recall that amazing feeling of touching my forehead to my shins in forward bend.  I also recall lying on my back in pre-natal yoga, suddenly paralyzed with sciatic pain as tears slid from the corners of my eyes to puddle in my hair.  Two years ago I began attending yoga regularly at my gym and rediscovered how much I love the quiet power of strengthening my body.  Unfortunately, I loved it so much I seriously injured my elbow and had to stop to heal.  It has been almost five months since I last practiced and I am ready to begin, again.

My brand new emerald green extra cushy mat is already in the car.  The class begins at 12:30 today. How fitting that the class is called "Beginner Yoga."  As out of shape as I am it feels like a safe re-entry point.  And I must admit, I can't wait.  So, like those little green ferns above, gently unfurling into their new life, I will go gently back into yoga and unfurl into my own quiet strength.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24th Daybook

After a soggy weekend the entire week ahead is destined to be absolutely beautiful.  Cool temps and abundant sunshine.  I treasure these last days of windows-open weather before the air conditioner stays on day and night and the blinds must be left down in the heat of the afternoon.  Not this last week of April.  This looks like Spring and feels like Spring and I will rejoice in it!

Of all the wonderful visitors who come to my blog and leave me such encouraging comments.  I don't make any money from my blog so the number of comments I get are purely for fun for me and to help me make bloggy friends.  But I will admit that they give me such a boost of joy.  To find out that anyone else out there enjoys my creative adventures in this space is so surprising and fulfilling.  Just last night two people left me these blessings:

Hi Misty,

I absolutely love reading your blog! It's become a part of my nighttime reading routine over the past few months:)

And your VLOG was really cute:) I have not tried Rimmel before, but that mascara looked awesome!

Joan :)

Hey Misty, I've been quietly following your blog thru a reader. I was tickled to see that you'd done a vlog because that way I get to see and hear you, too! I think you did really well, especially for a first time!

Thanks for the makeup tips. I'm a contact lens wearer so I'll have to see if the eyeliner and mascara are waterproof. I will definitely check out Rimmel's lipstick and gloss.

Good to see you! :)
Debbie Grace

Joan and Debbie are referring to the first video I posted of myself on this blog in which I referenced my latest make-up favorites from Target.  I cannot tell you how silly I felt making and then posting that little spot so each and every bit of encouragement has been appreciated.  And thanks to all of you "lurkers"  who read and do not comment.  I still appreciate you taking the time to read regularly!

My favorite yoga pants, black tank top and sky blue zip up jacket.  

Doc McStuffins on the TV for KC.  This new Disney cartoon has totally captivated my little guy and our whole family can be overheard singing along with the catchy tunes.  I highly recommend it for the pre-school set.
On my iPhone I am listening to Joyce Meyer's TV broadcast entitled "Facing Fear and Finding Freedom" .  If you haven't listened to her teachings lately I strongly suggest you do.  They are full of humor and relational insights not to mention good Biblical references.  I love how she challenges us to take control of our thoughts rather than living as victims of them.  (She has a great free app too so check that out!)

thankful for…

Last week we temporarily became a family of four boys as we were entrusted with the full-time care of our friend's four year old son while both parents were out of town for work.  He is an only child and simply soaks up the love and attention of my boys who equally adore him. 
Taking good care of another family's most important treasure gave us all such a good feeling. I am grateful to be available to help my friends when they are in need.

praying for...
Last week was also very very heavy due to the tragic  car accident involving a teacher from our school and her entire family.   Her teenaged son perished in the crash which  was made even more devastating  because this same family also lost their two year old son to drowning last May.  So many people in our community are asking "Where is God in this tragedy?" or "Why would God let this happen to one family?"  I choose to see it this way - they are blessed that anyone survived that accident, that they did not crash into another vehicle on the highway, that they are a family with a profound faith in God and that they are deeply loved by our community.  God is always here and now their older son is in heaven with their baby boy.  I beg your prayers for them all and I pray that we all choose to lean into God in this terrible time and not to block him out from helping us to heal.  Now go hug your kids a little longer.




Garbage!  I have that particular Springtime purging inclination and yesterday I threw out (recycled) an entire garbage can  of papers from my desk, shelves and files.  Oh that feels good!


MENU PLAN for April 23-29
Monday-  Capellini pasta with pink sauce and Greek meatballs plus Chocolate Chip cookies
Tuesday-  Leftover pasta and salads
Wednesday- Nutella sandwiches and strawberries
Thursday-  Salamida Chicken kebabs with bell peppers and onions and garlic rice
Friday- Leftover kebabs and rice
Saturday- inRL party at my house - I have yet to plan this menu! My husband will be taking the kids out somewhere...
Sunday- Bobby Flay's Crunchburgers on the grill


Saw this in a magazine and it started me dreaming...  :)

A massage today!  I can hardly wait.

a photo to share...


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lazy Sunday Morning Thoughts

Ranunculus from Trader Joe's.  They are the perfect antidote to a gray day outside.

Good Sunday morning.  Are you enjoying your weekend?  I hope so.  It is pouring rain here today - all day - so I foresee lots of coffee and coziness in the future.  Maybe even some time to read a book or work in my Smashbooks.  Definitely need to plan the week's meals as well as put away the four laundry baskets of clean and folded clothes that are lined up in the upstairs hallway.  
We are having a lazy morning before going to church at noon.  The boys and my husband are playing endless games of NHL and soccer on X-box while I am enjoying time to catch up on my e-courses :  Poem It Out and Swan Dive.  I have gotten so far behind since April has swept me up like a wave and just now dropped me off on the shore.  This week is designated "Catch Up Week" for certain.
What does your Sunday look like?  How about your week ahead?  I would enjoy hearing about it.

Grace and peace to you today and all days.


Friday, April 20, 2012

VLOG :: Springtime Makeup at Target

1.  I made my first video blog.  My favorite bloggers share videos from time to time and have inspired me to try it myself.  Here is an example of a recent video I love from Liz Lamoreux ~ Poetry and Smash Books.
2.  I made my first VLOG and I am sharing it IN PUBLIC - aaack!  
3.  As I may have mentioned, this is my FIRST VLOG so please be gentle when noticing the obvious flaws. (such as not looking in the right camera, background noise, talking too fast...)  
4.  I am really not only concerned with make-up but I just had to share the cheap products I am currently loving for Spring from Target.  It truly is my favorite place to shop.
5.  And I must mention that every. single. product. I use on my skin I buy at Target.  It's true. No - they are not paying me to say this although it would be great if they did!  I have really allergic skin so finding inexpensive products that I can actually use has been a long trial and error process.
6.  Ok, I think I am ready for you to watch it now.  Go ahead.  Click the little play arrow.  

7.  I have so many more things for Spring from Target I think I may have to share more next week.  Stay tuned!

P.S.  I used the MOSO free app to make this clip.  It is loaded with fun effects and options like the glowy filter I chose.  :)  If you have any videos you have made - please share links in the comments so I can click over and watch.  

7 Quick Takes @Conversion Diary


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Golden Hour {52 Photos Project}

The Golden Hour :: Week 52 Photo Prompt

52 Photos Project


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Flowers of Monticello

A bouquet of flowers offered for a grieving family in desperate need of prayers. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lemon Loaf {Baking with Julia}

Another recipe down in the Baking with Julia cookbook challenge every other Tuesday.  This little lemon quick bread was supremely easy and would be a good treat alongside a hot cup of tea with a  friend.  My boys did not care for it that much - I think the lemony icing I added on top was a bit too lemony for their taste - but that was my favorite part.  

This is the line-up of ingredients.  Simple.

Ready for the oven.

The crumb and density reminded me of a poundcake - not too moist - a sturdy cake.

The edges were a bit overly browned but I enjoy the crunch of a crust on a quick bread.


Lemon Loaf - a refined taste and texture - and so easy a child could make it.  Stop over at the hostess' blogs to read and print the entire recipe: 

Next up - Hungarian Shortbread on May 8th.  See you then!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Friends Like Family {Creative Everyday}

Saturday evening we had a Pioneer Woman Cooks party.  My good friend suggested we actually cook something from the PW cookbooks we both have and bring our families together to enjoy the meal.  I chose a meatloaf recipe as the main dish and my friend brought P-Dub's Twice Baked Potatoes as the side.  The meatloaf is my new go-to recipe (although I did change it up a bit by adding minced shallots and garlic and pre-cooking the bacon so it would get crispy on top).  

The whole meal was delicious and memorable but my favorite part of the evening came when we spontaneously brought out some art supplies and my naturally artistic friend gave an impromptu drawing lesson to RW.  It was one of those heart-warming moments when you realize that your friend loves your children like family.  This counts for a lot when we both live hundreds of mile from our nearest family members.  

Friends that become family takes time: many evenings spent around the dinner table,  meeting up at the same Mass, going for brunches afterward, park meet-ups watching our boys play together while we sip coffee from thermal cups.  Now she has even suggested that we go camping together - as in outdoors in tents!  (This will be no Glamping trip girls...)  And because we are friends like family, I will venture out into the woods for a night of star-lit conversation and s'mores.  How can I be afraid of the dark with an ex-marine as a best friend?  You can be sure the photos will wind up here on the blog. My only request is that we go before tick season begins. Oh, and that we have cell-phone coverage and also wine.  Can you drink wine on a camping trip?  I'll find out and I'll let you know...  

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