A renaissance gal passionista and her amazing family.

Archive for July, 2011

Full Circle – Wreaths by Me

I wish I had more time for crafts – I really enjoy making things. I don’t claim to be any good at it, but it’s enjoyable none-the-less.

Much like when I played soccer in high school – never made Varsity but it never hindered how much I enjoyed every minute of it!

The book wreath was an idea I found online- unfortunately I don’t remember where. Then I became wreath happy and brainstormed other ideas. I came up with a coffee filter (soaked in coffee then dried) wreath and silver cupcake liners wreath.

Forgive my poor photography (and post) skills

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Paperback books to cut pages

Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks

Styrofoam Circle

Unsharpened Pencil (may need to use for hot gluing as to not burn fingers – ouch!)

Paint (you choose color for page edges)

Coffee Filters (stained with coffee just by soaking for an hour or s0) left out overnight to dry

Silver Cupcake Liners (I used about 4 packages for the smallest styrofoam circle)


Shrimp and Vegetable Saute

In our quest to eat better we have embraced Clean Eating (think Clean Eating Magazine and Jamie Oliver) which is eating food in it’s most natural state or as close as possible (and this is waaaaay different than Raw Food – we tried that and it’s very hard to do).

Last night we had a great recipe from Clean Eating Magazine, Shrimp & Vegetable Saute. It was pretty delish, but I had some leftovers for lunch today and it was even better.


(Maked 6 servings)
Olive oil cooking spray
1 cup quick-cook grits
4 oz low-fat garlic and herb spreadable cheese
3 large fresh egg whites
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp milk chili powder
1/3 tsp sea salt, divided
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tbsp chopped basil


Preheat oven to 325 and coat a baking dish with nonstick spray.  Cook the grits according to package directions.  When it’s done, take off of the heat and add in the cheese, stir until well combined.  Let cool a little.

Add the egg whites to a stainless bowl and use an electric hand mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold in one-third of the egg whites into the grits, then once that’s well incorporated add in the rest.  Pour and spread evenly into a baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.

To cook the shrimp, season with the chili powder, 1/4 tsp salt and black pepper.  Place a heavy skillet  over medium high heat and add 2 tsp oil.  Cook the shrimp on both sides in a single layer.  Set shrimp aside on a plate.

Add the zucchini and onions, season a little with salt and pepper and cook until soft and turning golden, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Stir in the can of tomatoes and cook until the sauce has thickened. Add the shrimp back to the pan and allow to reheat.  Sprinkle basil over the sauce and serve the sauce over the grits.

Nutritional info per original recipe (1 cup grits and 3/4 cup shrimp mix):
Calories:  284
Total Fat:  8 g
Sat. Fat:  2 g
Carbs:  26g
Fiber:  2 g
Sugars:  3 g
Protein:  22g
Sodium:  511 mg
Cholesterol:  124 mg

Parenting is a Nasty Business

I became a parent at 19. And again at 21. Now, at the ripe old age of 31, I feel that after 12 years of parenting, I have learned a thing or two.

I wish I knew how to be a better mom twelve years ago. I wish my kids didn’t have to grow up with me. Nonetheless, I did grow up. Now I am a good mom. I may not have planned my pregnancies, but, perhaps, it’s the surprises in life that teach you the biggest lessons you can possibly learn. I learned I won’t die from change. I learned that my five-year plans apparently weren’t the route the universe mapped out for me. I learned that as a mom, I didn’t automatically deserve my children’s love and respect, I have to earn it, every single day.

Photo courtesy of the uber talented Emilie Graul

I hope everyday I can take a moment to earn their love and respect, because that is what they deserve.

Parenting is hard. Some days I have to tell myself to, “Suck it up!” My job is to mold these amazingly sponge-like minds into well-rounded, intelligent, caring, honest, trustworthy individuals in our society, in the world. I am not their friend, as their parent I am their mentor — their teacher.

I need to act like it. Lead by example. Show instead of preach.

But don’t get me wrong – parenting is still funny a lot of the time. As seriously as I take my responsibility of helping grow these humans – humor has a way of sneaking in and is often much appreciated. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

Here is a humorous inventory that I have learned and may be helpful to any potential parents out there:


Qualities for Wannabe or Accidental Parents

1. Patience
ALL children will test it, push it, dance on it, just to make sure that you know the rules and are able to enforce them in order to ensure you are always making the right choice.

2. Fairness
We all know life isn’t fair, however, teaching your child(ren) how to treat others with fairness means there are more people in the world with integrity.

3. Unconditional Love
When you are able to completely love, like, and care for someone that throws-up on you, screams at you in public, calls you bad words, rolls their eyes at you, etc, etc, etc, you are experiencing what we all search for.

4. Attention Span
This must be a minimum of 18 years.

5. Positive Discipline
Code for no hitting, no spanking, no cruel and painful punishment, no cursing, no degrading, no name-calling, i.e. do unto others as you would have done to you (not what did happen to you).

6. Humor
Like the baby shirts say “Spit Happens!” Laugh when you can because humor can only make it easier.

I want to better for me and that in turn is better for my children. Parenting is hard – really effing hard – many a mistake will be made, often I want to forgo doing what is right just so they don’t hate me – but I remind myself that I have a responsibility to my children to be the best teacher they will ever have.

“We are apt to forget that children watch examples better than they listen to preaching.” – Roy L. Smith

Published on St. Charles Patch


Some facts about our 4th of July:

  • The word ‘patriotism’ comes from the Latin patria, which means ‘homeland’ or ‘fatherland.’
  • Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the signing (actually refinement).
  • The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence did not sign at the same time, nor did they sign on July 4, 1776. The official event occurred on August 2, 1776, when 50 men signed it.
  • The origin of Uncle Sam probably began in 1812, when Samuel Wilson was a meat packer who provided meat to the US Army. The meat shipments were stamped with the initials, U.S. Someone joked that the initials stood for “Uncle Sam”. This joke eventually led to the idea of Uncle Sam symbolizing the United States government.
  • In 1941, Congress declared 4th of July a federal legal holiday. It is one of the few federal holidays that have not been moved to the nearest Friday or Monday.
  • Edward Rutledge (age 26) was the youngest signer and Benjamin Franklin (age 70) was the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence.

E Pluribus Unum to all and to all a goodnight!

Living Scrambled In A Sunny Side World

“Uh, this isn’t what I ordered…”

Keeping up with the neighbors is getting more and more challenging, stressful and irritating. Why are we still trying to attain the impossible?

In our world (at least the good ol’ USA) we are fixated on perfection: perfect health, perfect image, perfect job, perfect house, perfect life, perfect kids – yadda yadda yadda. At what point do we realize that perfection is just a myth? When are we all, including the powers that be, going to wake up and say, “Duh!”

Perfection is a sales tactic, a marketing scheme, a ploy to pick our pockets.

I fall for it, saying to myself, “If only I could be/have (enter one or all of the following: skinnier, prettier, better hair, new car, new house, more money) I would be perfectly happy and probably never want for anything again.” Of course, as an intelligent, free-thinking person, I know this is complete bunk. But we all think it. In our fight against anything challenging, we are always looking for a way to be perfect and challenge-free – looking for that “Easy” button. We envy those who have more stuff than us, better looks, etc, etc. Does anyone ever envy someone who is patient, kind, and well-mannered?

I acknowledge that I am part of this vicious cycle. Perfection seems like this grand prize for living the right way, the reward of critical acclaim for beating the odds of being human. Of course I want to be perfect. Being flawed means I am less of a person, less attractive, less interesting, and that ultimately I will end up alone, without the reward of someone who will love me just as I am. Doesn’t it?

No. Perfection is a myth. Deep down we know that. But even deeper down, we still wish we could attain it. The struggle isn’t just acknowledging that it’s a myth, it’s accepting it. No one is perfect, despite their facade.

For those of us who feel scrambled in a sunny side world, remember, we all end up in the same place, the big tummy in the ground. And sunny side isn’t so hot either, one false move and the fragile skin spills out the true colors.

8 Reasons Why Perfection is a Myth

1. Because you have a brain and can think for yourself.

2. You enjoy conversations with people that don’t involve reality tv, who wore it better, and did they or didn’t they plastic surgery

3. Being unique is what makes the world interesting

4. Life is a long road of growing, learning, and goals to work towards

5. Evolving is a trait to be proud of and is necessary

6. Without the bad, you can’t truly appreciate the good

7. A perfect world doesn’t breed change, genius and beauty

8. Being true to yourself is awesome

Now go on and live a genuinely imperfect and happy life!

Published on http://stcharles.patch.com/blog_posts/living-scrambled-in-a-sunny-side-world

Times… they are a-changin’

This blog started off as a place to vent – but I only had one entry.

Then I was going to reinvent it and breathe new life into it by blogging about things I loved and admired. That lasted for a few entries.

Now… I’m hoping to use this platform to shake things up. Me, my family, the world. Well, that’s a bit…

Bold and excessive.

Yes, I agree. In the past few months many things have happened. From parenting to health to education to philosophy; we have shaken things up a bit and have been more open about more than the next great movie or how we can make more money.

We have turned the tv off and began to read, research and revise more.

It’s been brilliant.

We’ve also outted ourselves as atheists, humanists, naturalist, freethinkers…

That… was… scary.

So here is to a new chapter in our lives – our ever growing, changing and (most importantly) evolving lives. This will be a place of thought on many things including (but not limited to) education, homeschooling, atheism, humanism, critical thinking, crafting, fashion, theatre, reading, inspiration, food (yum), healthy lifestyles, culture, literature, gardening, cleaning, money, experiments, challenge, love, life, laughter, ethics, morals, integrity, politics, religion, creativity, experiments, travel, wisdom and I’m sure many, many more.



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