Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Come find me at my new website!

Hi there!  It's been a long time.  Like a really, really long time.

There have been a lot of changes here at casa Sunshine and Lemonade.  Madalyn is about to graduate from 5th grade.  Katie about to graduate from middle school.  And we are in our last year of homeschooling her.  (I know - that should be a story unto itself)

And I have rather retired from blogging.

Or so I thought.

About a year ago, I began working as a travel agent - in a teeny, tiny agency (my dining room!) that specializes in Disney.  And then just a few months ago, I started my own website.  And I've been blogging there.  It's all Disney all the time.  But with lots of mommy comments and family pictures.

I'd love it if you'd come and visit me there:  at Keys to the Magic Travel  -- even if you aren't planning a trip - and especially if you are.  And if you are feeling the love, follow me over there - and you can also find my agency on facebook.

Looking forward to seeing you on the glorious interwebs!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The month my blog stopped

I left ya'll hanging in March.  And not just any March.  But March of 2010.  But it was a blog entry.  Which in and of it self seemed to render some speechless.  Now we just need to see if I can make it a habit again.  I must tell you that it greatly depends on blogger.  The more I have to fight with blogger to get my pictures where I want them, the less I want to blog.  Do ya'll fight with blogger?

So...April follows March.  And we started our April with a visit to the girls' pediatrician.  Because I could schedule their check-ups on Spring Break and not miss any school.  We have been seeing Dr Weiss since Katie was born and I just love him.  Love him so much that I drive 45 minutes across town.  In horrid traffic.  Because he is that fabulous.  (Do your kids sing the "fabulous" song from Phineas and Ferb?  I am thinking that it's just me that has to endure it.  That and "Squirrels in my pants.")

A visit to Dr Weiss was how we started Spring Break.  Michael took the week off and we had a staycation.  Naturally, Michael's staycation involved work.  We went to Lowe's and bought flowers for him to plant in the yard.  My job was to supervise.

We couldn't staycation and not play.  So, we went out for ice cream.  Do ya'll have Bruster's where you live?  I like Bruster's.  But I just can't eat that much ice cream.  And obviously the girls can't either since it drips all over the place.  I think I still have sticky spots on my shoes.

Our big day out on our staycation was to finally venture downtown to the Coke Museum.  You start by seeing a very extended Coke commercial.  Like a 10 minute commercial.  Then you move to different "hubs" in the museum.  They have memoriabilia.  There is a theatre where you can watch commericals from over the years.  There is Coke art.  And a bottling plant.  But really the highlight was the tasting center where you can taste coke products from all over the world.  Some are rather vile.  Some are strange.  Katie had a "Holy Grail" moment when we found Eldeberry Fanta (what?  Your kids don't go around quoting the Holy Grail?  And the infamous French accented insult of "your mother is a hamster and your father smells of eldeberry!"  Why is it just me?!).

The girls found the American Idol couch, too.  And wondered whose tuchus had also been planted there.

And no outing downtown would be complete without a visit to "The Varsity."  With a side of onion rings.

Our staycation week rounded out with Easter.  And somehow this year we managed to not do the world's largest Easter Egg hunt.  With our 700something eggs left over from last year.  You know we found eggs not that long ago.  I wonder how much longer we'll be discovering those nasty candy filled eggs in the yard.  I just want to find that last gold dollar. 

Katie heard from one of her friends that Erin Hunter, one of her favorite authors was coming to speak.  Erin Hunter writes the "Warriors" series for kids - it's about cats.  And.  Ummm.  That's all I know.  I think that there are 6 series of 6 books.  So, Katie brought her hardback copies and got autographs.  After the author did the book signing, she talked about the writing process.  And oh, my, was it funny.  It turns out that she uses a pen name.  And she chose Erin Hunter because it would put her on the shelf by Brian Jacques who writes the "Redwall" series - which is a fantasy about mice.  (Yep. That's all I know about that series, too.)  She was also drafted into writing this series by her publisher.  She actually hates cats (and apparently rather awful things happen to the warrior cats in the stories).  Her stories about the contrivances in the publishing world were rather fascinating!

Madalyn's birthday falls in the middle of April.  And for her birthday, I thought it would be fun if we surprised her with a room makeover.  Here is the before picture:

Michael took the day off of work - we told Madalyn that his work took a holiday that day - and as soon as she was out the door, we took the bunkbeds down and moved them to our basement.  And we brought up the double bed from the guest room.  We had ordered a new headboard - but it had not arrived - so we stole the one out of Katie's room until the new one arrived.  I wish we had time to paint - but we completed the transformation with a new quilt, valance, and lots of framed pictures on the walls (actually, there is even more now - there is another set of collage prints, plus the pictures of Madalyn swimming with the dolphins when we were in Mexico.)  And here is the after:

When Madalyn got home from school, I met her at the door and asked her what happened to her room.  She really thought I was mad at her.  So she went up to her room to see the damage - and was sooo surprised with what she found.  It was a great birthday gift!

The next day, Madalyn had a party at the rock climbing place.  She loved climbing.  And then was totally wiped out!

Katie had a new brace made for her scoliosis.  I am thinking that I should do a whole post on scoliosis.  And the horrors of the Boston Brace.  This picture is of her being casted.  We had another brace made last month.  It was our third in a year.  My poor checking account.

We still have cookies left.  After two months.  People are very hard to track down for deliveries.  Actually, I still have 2 boxes in my dining room right now for someone that we never delievered for.  I wonder if they are any good any more?

Speaking of scouts, Madalyn and her troop went horseback riding.  This horse farm is actually less than a mile down the road from my neighborhood.  I love living in the burbs where there is still the odd juxtaposition of Target shopping centers, neighborhoods, and farms.

And we wrapped up April with Tacky Day.  Isn't that how you wrap up your Aprils?

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation

It's been a sad two years of blogging. I kinda got thrown off course. And I am still not quite sure that I am back on the straight and narrow. But I want to be. Especially since I haven't scrapbooked in 4 years. I rather need to be back on that path. Of filling the internet with our stories. Anecdotes. And proof in pictures.

So. This is what we did last year.

I always start my scrapbook off with Katie's birthday. Even though it happens on the last day of the year, we usually celebrate on the first day of the year. And last year was no exception. We started the party on her birthday with lunch (or maybe it was dinner. It's been a whole year. I really can't be expected to remember. So. When I start scrapbooking again, is it okay to make up details??) at Red Robin. And surprised her with a cell phone.

And the following day, she had some friends join her for rock climbing.

She might have made a new friend, too.  (Do you think that workers at rock climbing places are required to go shirtless for tween parties?)

Of the few posts that I did last year, I did manage to cover the excitement of Madalyn's straight A's. And my bookclub trip to Asheville.

I also started a second blog last year. It was supposed to be a photo a day thing. Which was fun to work on my photoshop skills. But like this blog, it too fell off my radar. And was way too much pressure to remember to take a photo every day. It lasted about 90 something days.

In February, the girls started back with their tennis lessons.

I took my Latin class to see "Percy Jackson" - and the students who had not read the books loved it. The rest of us were rather disappointed.

We celebrated Valentine's day with cards, candy, and a movie.

Madalyn and Michael went to the Girl Scout Father/Daughter dance.


And we had the arrival and attemped delivery of those dreaded cookies. (Did you know that sales start up on Friday? Do you need any or want to donate any??)

March brought us more tennis.

Mine and Michael's 14th wedding anniversary. We celebrated by going to Ted's. Just the two of us. And I think we went to Barnes and Noble after. Maybe.

Oh. And there was St. Patrick's day. Madalyn's school had a contest to see whose class could wear the most green. She even wore a blanket. And a green pen stuck behind her ear!

And that was our first few months of 2010.  And if formatting on blogger doesn't kill me first, I'll hopefully tell you about the rest of our year.  Cross your fingers!

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Sing...sing a song

"Dirty babe.  You see the shackles.  Baby I'm your slave.  I'll let you whip me if I misbehave..." ~ Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake

"The whole damn world is just as obsessed.  With who's the best dressed and who's having sex, who's got the money, who gets the honeys..." ~ High School Never Ends by Bowling for Soup

They just take on new meaning.  When the songs are sung by your 8 year old.  At the top of her lungs.  In the back seat of the mini-van.  All while having a raging case of the hiccups.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010


I hear that Tuesday is the day that I am supposed to be random.  But since I am usually a day late and a dollar short.  Thursday makes perfect sense to give you the bits and pieces.  Flotsam and jetsam.  List of sundries. 

I had almost thought that I was back in the swing of blogging.  And now it's been almost two weeks since I posted.  I have 9 posts in draft on my dashboard.  But I don't suppose that counts.  However.  My photoblog is current.  Shocking, no?

A post that is currently residing in my head.  And not in the draft section.  Is one on Judy Blume.  But every time I think about it.  I get irate.  And flummoxed.  For what you ask?  Barnes and Noble has a new rating system on their website.  And a group rated "Are you there God, It's me Margaret" as a book that is IFFY for anyone under 14.  IFFY?  Are you kidding me?  I could go on and on.  But what comes out is incoherent babble.  And incoherent babble rarely makes a good blog post.  Unless it's titled Foderol.  So.  Instead.  I decided to get my 8 year old a copy of the illustrious book.  All in the spirit of solidarity.

Speaking of books.  I just finished Edith Wharton's "Ethan Frome."  It was my bookclub reading for the month.  And I had thought I read it in high school.  But after finishing it.  I am not so sure.  I don't recall any of it.  Of course it is always possible that I was supposed to read it.  But didn't.  Anyway...I really liked it.  The writing is amazing.  And picturesque.  But the subject matter.  There is not another way to describe it other than bleak.  Or tragic.  Ethan - the title character - is just trapped in a horrible life.  Where he is just trying to figure out how to survive.  Rather than to live. 

Katie is studying weathering in science.  Specifically  Devil's Tower in Wyoming.  And how it's the neck of the volcano.  But the outside of the volcano eroded away.  Naturally, we watched "Close Encounters" to go along with the lesson.  About weathering.  *Ahem*. 

We end up going to Panera bread every Thursday for lunch. It's an expensive addiction. But yummy.

Madalyn keeps talking about this delicious drink she is getting at school. She wants to know when we can get some ya-hoo milk. And she refuses to believe me when I told her it's called yoo-hoo. Not ya-hoo.

I am just loving LOST this season.  I don't think that there has ever been a show that is that enveloping.  And I love that Katie is watching it with us.  Look at the cool shirt I found for her:

On the other hand.  I don't think that American Idol could be any worse than it is this season. 

So...what about you?  Opinions on Judy Blume?  Did you pretend to read required books in school? 

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Friday, February 19, 2010

In the kitchen with Kat: Chicken Tacos

Recipes used to be a regular feature here at casa Sunshine and Lemonade. In fact, it was almost a year ago when I last posted a recipe. A yummy chicken and rice casserole. The perfect thing to offer to your family. Or someone in need of a meal. Much better than some of the more interesting offerings that we received while on braincation. Like pot roast pasta. Or carrot jello. Or boiled cabbage. Or lasagna with peas and corn. Not that I am complaining. Dinner made by someone else is always a good thing. Unless it's pot roast pasta. I am now the proud owner of a rather large hole.

One of the kitchen tools that I have never been a huge fan of is the crockpot. I have used mine occasionally. Never with much success. It seems like everything that I have tried ends up tasting the same. Or swimming in its own grease. Appetizing not. However. I do have a few crockpot recipes that I like. And I thought I'd share them with you.  Starting with the very easiest one. Easy. And most importantly - yummy.

This recipe is so easy that it only calls for three ingredients. Three. 3. T.H.R.E.E. That's it. Bonelesss chicken breasts. Salsa. And taco seasoning.

Just dump them all in your crockpot.

Maybe swirl it a bit with a spoon. And ignore it the rest of the day.

When it's cooked, that chicken will just fall apart. It might need a smidge of help from you and a fork. But it's rather effortless.

And voila! Chicken tacos.

What is interesting about this is that chicken you started with. Well. It's like it multiplies. After you eat your tacos. You will still have LOTS of chicken left. You can freeze some. You can make chicken nachos. You can make enchiladas. Taco salad. Tortilla soup. Or just keep noshing on it as you do the dishes. And wonder about the mystery of your disappearing leftovers.

Here is my simple recipe:
6 boneless chicken breast (frozen or thawed)
16oz jar of salsa spiced to your taste
1 envelope of taco seasoning

Put all the ingredients in the crockpot and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Enjoy!

So...what about you? Do you like your crockpot? Have a favorite crockpot recipe? Do you use those crockpot liners?

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vegas, Baby part VI

It is the story that seems to never end. But today. It will. Finally. Really.

And apparently I left ya'll with a cliffhanger. It's always been my goal to write a serialized set of posts. With endings that beg for more information. But. I have realized. My writing skillz are not that good. But I did it with my last Vegas post. Without even realizing. So. To answer your questions. Yes. Michael got his shirts back. Ya'll can all let out the collective breath you were holding.

After I left Elena, I went to get ready for the conference. And then back to the casino. Down one hall. And another. Around a corner. Ask someone. Turn around. Go to another hall. A different corner. And then I found them! I saw Lula. And people I have only seen online. Like Heather. And Tiffany. And Angie. And Jen. And DiPaola Momma. And Tonya. And Swirl Girl. And somehow. I did manage to have a brain and get a picture with Swirl Girl!

I am not sure what happened to my brain. Cause my camera was right there!

The conference had a short opening. And then we broke for dinner. And then re-grouped for the evening cocktail party. Where there was dancing. And an open bar. Shannon, Lula, Elena, and I hung out together.

Celebrated Shannon's birthday.

And we took lots of photos on Lula's camera while she was off dancing. Socializing. And drinking. The best photo of Michael and I was taken on that camera!

We finally crashed late. And then had to get up early again. While we were conferencing. I left Michael with an assignment. To go to the half price ticket booth and find us something to do in the evening. I was hoping to see a Cirque show. He was armed with a priortized list. And a budget.

So...what did we end up with? No tickets to Cirque. Or to that guy with the puppets who won America's got Talent. Damn budget. But we did get tickets to Anthony Cools' naughty hypnotist show at the Paris. (Did any of you see him when he was on the Millionaire Matchmaker show?) The show didn't start until later in the evening, so after the conference was over Shannon and I arranged to meet for dinner and then do a little gambling. Slot machining?

As part of our room package through SITS, each room got $25 in slot vouchers. Can you believe that Shannon had never gambled? Well we set out to eradicate that. Pronto. Unfortunately. Shannon listened to me. She got her voucher. Dumped it into a machine. And then decided that that particular machine didn't like her. And went to switch. Except that her money did not follow her. It stayed on that machine. Which some floozy took over. And won money with Shannon's money. And left. All before we realized what happened. Oh. Wait. Was that supposed to stay in Vegas?

Shannon and I finally decided to make our way to the Paris to meet Michael for the show. Did I mention that Shannon was joining us. What would you call that? A double date? Triple? A menage? No. Wait. Ummm. Staying in Vegas?

When we got to the Paris, Shannon and I decided to lose a few more quarters in the slots before we found Michael in the line.

For the show, we had front row seats. And I must admit that I was quite surprised that Michael did not volunteer to be part of the show. Evidently he decided that if he paid for it, he'd watch it. And after seeing the show. I am quite glad he remained in his seat. Anthony Cools puts on a hilarious show. It is naughty. Raunchy. And not for the faint at heart. Or those without water proof mascara.

After the show, we set out for a different show - that of the Eiffel tower. We rode up the elevator to the observation deck. And what a sight. At night. With the lights. Vegas is just beautiful.

And finally. Our trip was over. With just a few hours of sleep, we had to check out for our 7am flight. And head back to the real world.

So...what about you? Have you ever seen a hypnotist show? Heard of Anthony Cools? Or forgotten to take a picture that you really meant to take??

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