Friday, June 29, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

Don't forget about my TWO awesome giveaways!

1. I am very glad that Catherine and I have a pool membership!  One of the major drawbacks of apartment living is that there is no backyard where we can let Catherine run off some energy.  The pool, besides having an Olympic sized big pool and a huge kiddie pool, has a large grassy area with various toys, climbing structures, play kitchens, and sandboxes--which she carefully avoids. 

2. The pool has also been fantastic for me.  I've made it to about twenty morning lap swims in the month of June.  I love being able to get a quick workout in before Peter leaves for work. 

3. With the help of calorie counting (, swimming, and other exercising I am about half a pound away from losing ten pounds in six weeks!

4. Now that I finally got my sewing machine out (shorts/skirt) I've been browsing various online fabric shops.  There are so many beautiful fabrics out there!  I love these from Southern Fabric:


5. Of course, most of the fabrics that I really love are out of my price range--but that doesn't stop me from looking!  Do any of my readers have a go-to place for nice but super inexpensive fabric?  

6. I have a sad tendency to not be able to keep plants alive, but I've had this orchid for a year and a half and it bloomed again!  I am so happy.  It seems to be pretty happy on my kitchen window sill.

7. My baby girl turns two next week.  It might be cliche, but I can't believe have fast she is growing up!

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's Giveaway Time!

June makes the one year anniversary of my blog!  (Check out my very first post!)  In honor of this "momentous" occasion I am going to have a small giveaway.

As many of you may have noticed we are a fairly frugal family--both by choice and necessity.  (There aren't too many millionaire philosophers out there . . . )  Both my husband and I will agonize over small splurges and larger ones require much consideration and research.  This means that "just" five bucks of guilt free spending money can be quite fun!

So, here is your chance to 
Win Five Bucks to Amazon!

Here are some things that I would consider if I had five guilt free dollars:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Teaching Time for Toddlers Tuesdays -- Zoo

Tuesday Catherine and I had the opportunity to meet up with family and friends at the zoo!  Our little adventure provided many teaching moments, plus she had a blast.  (More pictures here!)

We've been reading Let's Go to the Zoo quite a bit recently.  She loves to open all of the flaps on each page--and I am very happy that they all seem to be holding up!
Catherine has also been playing with her Noah's Ark animals.  

Plus, we've been working on her animal flashcards.  I did try to do a matching game with the animals from the ark and the flashcards, but she wasn't interested, so I am saving that idea for another day.

Catherine is watching the giant turtles.
What have you and your little ones been up to so far this summer?  I'd love to hear about it!  Please add your links (no reason to just add one!) bellow.  

Wordless Wednesday--Zoo Trip!

Tuesday 26, 2012

Catherine being a "prairie dog"!


The elephants are getting a new house at the zoo, so the only
place to observe them is from the bridge--but it was a pretty good view!



"Mom, I've had enough."

Giant stone lions guard the entrance.
If you have little ones, be sure to check out this week's 

Monday, June 25, 2012

HipSwap's Giveaway Event! Win Karina's Spy Bag! #winthisbag

Welcome to Week #1 of
Win This Bag
sponsored by HipSwap

“Win This Bag” is a 6-week event that will feature 6 weekly giveaways. There will be one designer handbag given away every week! Each bag will be an authentic, recognizable designer brand such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Coach, or Fendi. Our 6th week will feature a highly coveted designer handbag and you will have the option to claim bonus entries for each of the 5 weekly "Win This Bag" giveaways you entered leading up to this grand finale! So, enter each weekly giveaway to increase your odds of winning!

Here’s what really separates this event from any other handbag giveaway you may have seen before… some of these handbags will come to you directly from a celebrity’s closet! That’s right –

Thanks to HipSwap, you have the opportunity to win the exact bag that may have been on the arm of a famous celebrity! 

About our Sponsor:
HipSwap is a mobile and web marketplace that connects buyers and sellers locally and nationally. It enables people to discover what's inside the most fabulous closets, homes, and shops in neighborhoods and cities across America. HipSwap currently offers delivery service in Los Angeles and New York with its iconic pink delivery van.

This week’s prize:

Are you a Dancing With the Stars fan? Are you a fan of Fendi Handbags? Are you mesmerized by champion dancer Karina Smirnoff?  This giveaway extravaganza begins with someone winning Karina's very own Fendi bag. Wouldn't that be an awesome thing to win?

There are additional pictures of the bag that could be yours at the end of this post. Good luck!

How to Enter:

1. Create a HipSwap account. You will be asked to enter your name, email and zip code. If you do not live in the United States, please enter your City and Country in the Zip Code field.

2. Once registered, you can earn additional entries by:

a. Pinning your favorite HipSwap bag on Pinterest
b. “Liking” HipSwap on Facebook
c. Following @HipSwap on Twitter
d. Tweet with the hashtag #winthisbag for daily bonus entries
e. Following the blogs who are bringing you this awesome giveaway

To be credited, all entries must be completed using the Rafflecopter form below. You can complete as many or as few entries as you’d like but remember, the more you do, the better your odds of winning! Plus, once you are following all of your hosts, entering each subsequent weekly Win This Bag Giveaway will be even faster & easier!

Good luck!

This giveaway is open to entrants worldwide 18 years of age or older, except where prohibited by law. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received. This promotion is no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook and is Facebook-compliant. To qualify to win, you must complete, at minimum, the mandatory entry on the Rafflecopter form. All entries will be forwarded to our sponsor for the purpose of randomly selecting a winner. Winners will be notified by email from a HipSwap representative. Winners will have 72 hours to respond or risk forfeiting their prize. Prize may re-awarded solely by the Sponsor's discretion. Prize fulfillment is the sole responsibility of the sponsor. This blog may not be held liable for Sponsors who do not fulfill prize shipments. The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. We reserve the right to publicly publish winners' names and/or likeness. By entering this giveaway, you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.

Shockingly Delicious Diet Pop (or Soda!) Cake

I've seen a variety of these diet pop cakes around the blog world lately.  I must admit that I regarded them fairly dubiously.  However, when I saw the Desperate Craftwives' Facebook photo I knew I had to give it a shot.  (It just looked too good not to try!)

I had some "extra" cake mix from a recent coupon deal and some diet pop in the cabinet.

I've used this "recipe" twice so far.  The first time I used a Betty Crocker Devil's Food mix and a Cherry Coke Zero.  The second time I used a Betty Crocker French Vanilla mix and another can of Cherry Coke Zero.  

Ready for the "recipe"?  Mix the two ingredients together, pour into greased pan, then bake for about five minutes less than the box recommends.  That's it!  

I was very pleasantly surprised how deliciously both of these cakes turned out!  The chocolate cake had subtle cherry undertones, while you couldn't really taste the cherry in the vanilla cake.  (Which surprised me, I would have predicted it to be the other way around!)  Using the diet pop (or soda!) in place of the eggs, oil, and water called for in the B.C. mixes saves one hundred calories per serving--that's 1200 calories per cake mix!  (Weight Watchers gives this "recipe" four and a half stars--out of 260 reviews.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blogger Sign Up

(The Following is From Side Tracked Mom
Join us for EIGHT Consecutive Weekly Giveaways Of High-End Designer Bags
ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY:We will be hosting eight consecutive weekly giveaways. Each week will feature either a brand new high-end designer handbag or one that comes directly from a celebrity's closet! The new prize for each week will be a surprise but I can tell you the first week will be feature a Fendi handbag from the closet of a Dancing With The Stars Celebrity! On the 8th week, we will have a grand finale of a prize with bonus entries for readers who have entered the previous giveaways in the 7 weeks leading up to this coveted bag giveaway. This will be a fantastic opportunity to drive traffic to your site for 8 full weeks! The HTML, photos and RC code will be provided to you in our Facebook Group. Please be sure to join the group so you do not miss this important information. Join our Facebook Group here: COST TO JOIN: This will be a free event for bloggers to join. I only ask that you post to your blog about the event and encourage other bloggers to join.

Friday, June 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

My Mother will be visiting for the next couple of days.  

The above means that I should be cleaning up the apartment instead of blogging.  This e-card floating around Facebook expresses my thoughts exactly:
I am so proud of how brave Catherine is becoming at the pool.  The first time we went to the pool she didn't even want to walk around the kiddie pool without holding my hand and if her face got just a drop of water on it she needed to get out and wipe it off with her towel.  Just two weeks later she's splashing around with the other kids while I sit on the side and she wipes her face with her hands if necessary.

I finally got around to downloading cell phone pictures to the computer.  Here's a cute Mommy and Me from last year's trip to the OBX.
Not too bad for a self-portrait with a cell phone!  I'm a wee bit wind-blown and posed a little oddly, but that sweet smile my girl has makes up for my oddities!  Plus, the lighthouse actually made it into the frame!

I made Catherine some healthy cookies--seriously, no flour, no oil, and no sugar.  Did she even try them? Nope. Her Daddy and I liked them though!  (Similar to these, but not exactly--the recipe I used only had oats, bananas, and applesauce--but I can't find that one now!  UPDATE: Here it is!)

On Sunday my husband and I celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary!

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!

Click here for more 7 Quick Takes!

Monday, June 11, 2012

One of My Favorite Meals -- Chili and Corn Casserole

Growing up I didn't realize that most people put beans in their chili.  We had Cincinnati Style Chili.  Skyline Chili was our gold standard for chili.  Gold Star was a pretty close second.  (Every visit home I make sure to stop by Skyline!)  It wasn't until I was dating my husband that I tried "traditional" meat and bean chili.  I have to admit, I really like it!  While my Cincinnati Style Chili will always have a special place in my heart this "new" chili makes it into my menu rotation fairly frequently.

I don't have an exact recipe and it does change a little bit each time I make it, but this is it essentially.  I love how simple it is!

I love the aroma of chili cooking in the crock pot!
  • 1 pound ground meat (I use either turkey or beef)
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cans light red kidney beans
  • 2 cans chili beans (Aldi has a super tasty variety!)
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • salt to taste  (especially if beans are no sodium)
  • a couple of shakes of garlic powder
  • a couple of shakes of cumin
  • chili powder
  • onion
Brown the meat.  I also (drain the grease if its beef and then) throw the onions in for a minute or two.  Add all the ingredients to a crock pot.  Cook on high for a couple of hours or on low for the day.

Corn Casserole is a relatively new food for my little family.  We were hooked the first time we had it!  I also love that this is a one dish casserole--I assemble everything in the baking dish.  It pairs extremely well with the above chili.

  • 1 stick of butter or margarine
  • 1 can of creamed corn
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn
  • 1 box of cornbread
  • 1 egg
  • 8 ounces of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Melt the butter or microwave in your baking dish.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.   Bake at 350 until its not jiggly in the center, about 45-60 minutes.

For my little family these two recipes make enough food for one dinner and a couple of lunches--I love leftovers!

Friday, June 8, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

We are back from two glorious weeks at the beach.  I miss it already.  The house was great--large, well equipped, and super close to the beach!  We had so much fun with family and friends.  If you're interested I did post a few pictures!

Catherine and I have been able to take the edge off of our sad-to-end-a-vacation blues by hanging out at the pool.  I've swam early morning laps four days this week and we've been to the toddler swim time just as often.  Next week the pool begins its regular hours and I foresee us spending even more time there!

I am super excited that another season of Master Chef is beginning.  However, I am bummed that I will be a week "behind" because Hulu is delaying the show by eight days for non-paying subscribers.  

I love entering giveaways in blogland--I do it fairly regularly.  I have decided that a great use of my Twitter account is to tweet about these giveaways.  Most giveaways award this with extra entries anyways, so it works out quite well.  If you also like entering giveaways you definitely should follow me--if not, I wouldn't bother. (@The_Phil_Wife)  

Oh my gosh, speaking of giveaways, have you seen all the Shabby Apple giveaways?!?! I'd really really LOVE to win one of those because their dresses are absolutely adorable!

Last night I spent some time looking for a specific recipe.  When I was very little there was an incredibly kind older woman at our Church who made a very unique cookie.  It was a soft "blonde" cookie with white chocolate chips, coconut, and corn flakes in it.  I've never been fond of coconut but these cookies were amazing.  Sadly, none of the recipes that I found last night seemed right.  (So, dear readers, if you know this recipe, or see one that looks like it might be right, I'd love to know about it!)

I finally got started on my chevron afghan!  It is dark purple and grey.  I am using this pattern, which I found on Ravelry.

Check out more 7 Quick Takes!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Easy PA Trip Planning with Roadtrip-a-Matic

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PA Tourism for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

visitPA-Roadtrip_box_720px.jpgSo much time and effort goes into planning a road trip!  There are so many questions to answer: where to go, where to stay, what to see, where to eat, etc.  What if all of the hard stuff (a.k.a. the planning) was already done for you?  Would that make your hectic life a little bit easier?
If you would like to take a trip in Pennsylvania then you have to check out pa-roadtrips!  They have already done all of the work and put together quite a few awesome roadtrips on their super easy to navigate website!  There are trips for shoppers, for foodies, for kids, even for those interested in ghosts (which isn't quite my style).  All you have to do is pick one (which won't be easy!) and download the PDF.  Of course, you will have to pack a bag for the overnight trips (and you might have to make a few calls for reservations), but that's not too hard!
I personally would love to check out the Shutterbugs Smile and Say Pennsylvania tour with the Hubby this summer.  This one is a two day and two night trip--it includes amazing sights such as the highest point in Berks County, Blue Marsh Lake, along with Big Pocono State Park and more!  I can really see the two of us thoroughly enjoying ourselves on this trip.
Check out the roadtrips and then let me know which one (or which ones!) sound the most appealing to you!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wordless Wednesday--OBX

The best picture of birds that I took.
Honestly, I love the way the clouds look over the dunes.

This is *almost* a cute Mommy and Me picture.

So many shells!

A surfboard, sand, water, and blue skies make for a great day.

My little Cutie snacking on raisins.

I have some ideas for Seashell mementos . . . 

Look at those curls!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Seashell Momentos (Part I)

We just returned from a lovely beach vacation.  Catherine carefully gathered a small collection of shells and pebbles.  So now the question is, what do we do with them?

Peter and I were thinking that a small display glass would be nice.  Maybe even something simple and cheap from the dollar store.  We have something similar with things we collected on our honeymoon.

I have carefully saved the first shell that Catherine picked up on her first ever beach trip.  I've been (half-heartily) looking for a white shadow box where I will put of picture of her on said beach trip and also display the shell.  I do like this shadow box, but I was thinking a little bit smaller would be nice--maybe an 8x8.  Speaking of shells in shadow boxes, It's the Little Things has a great way to showcase lots of shells in a shadow box, you have to check it out! Maybe I should put Catherine's new collection in a shadow box and hang it next to her first shell in a shadow box . . . (Because I looked through a bunch of shadow box ideas here's another really neat one from The Long Thread!)

Shell pieces I saw in the OBX.
There were so many broken pieces of shell that I would love to make into jewelry.  I didn't gather any of these pieces this trip--but I think that I might next time we visit the OBX.  The tricky part will be drilling holes without cracking the shells.  (Anyone out there ever make seashell jewelry?  How did it go?)  I think all of the shell pieces to the right could make interesting pendant necklaces!

It is so much fun to scour the beach for beautiful and interesting shells, rocks, sea glass, drift wood, etc--but once you have them what do you do?  It seems a shame and a waste to have them stashed away in the dark recesses of some closet.

Part II will be along shortly . . .

Here are some of the awesome places where I link up!