Monthly Archives: September 2013

Time to Harvest Grapes!

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by | September 28, 2013 · 10:50 pm

Boredom Busters: 10 Things to do with Salt and a Cookie Sheet

 

 

 

 

The kids have started their Autumn trading of the sniffles and with the rain we’ve been getting, we’re inside…  a lot.  Here’s one of my desperate attempts to keep the girls happy and it is working for all ages (2-11).  You’ll probably want to avoid doing the on carpet.  The salt travels around.

20130928-162216.jpg Homemade Zen Garden

20130928-162238.jpgPractice letters, Numbers and Shapes

20130928-162325.jpg Moon themed art

20130928-162342.jpg Self portraits

20130928-162408.jpg  Take your toes to the beach.

20130928-162428.jpg Make Animal tracks… and what ever those circle things are.  lol

20130928-162443.jpg Play I spy

20130928-162503.jpg Make a snow scene

20130928-162519.jpg Make an excavation site

20130928-162553.jpg Create a scene and write a story about it.

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Filed under Children, Crafts and Gifts, Family, Motherhood

How To: Lay Tile Flooring

How To: Lay Tile Flooring

Step 1. Remove all previous flooring, base boards, fixtures (toilets/sinks) and adhesive from the floor in the room you wish to tile. Be sure the floor surface is clean and free from all debris. If the subflooring is particle board, hardwood, etc (non cement) you will need to lay cement backer board first.

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If you have cement flooring you don’t need backer board but you will need to check to see if the floor is level. If there are spots that need repair make sure to fix them first and give the area a few days to cure before beginning.

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Step 2. Once your floor is prepped decide what pattern you want for your tiles and create a layout.

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Step 3. Measure and cut all tiles needed to complete your layout. Do not begin setting any tiles until you have a full room layout. This ensures you won’t find yourself in a pickle (such as being one tile short) when attempting to lay your flooring.

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Step 4. Ensure all difficult cuts line up well and maintain proper spacing once installed. Adjust as necessary. Measure twice…cut once.

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Step 5. With your full room layout complete and all tiles cut you can begin laying your tile. Begin work from the furthest point away from the exit door so that you don’t have to walk on or disturb the tile once you have begun. Start by removing two rows from your layout at a time (Keep tiles in order as you remove your two rows so you can quickly and easily grab each tile as you go). With a notched trowel scoop up a large amount of tile adhesive and begin to spread it across the floor evenly using multiple strokes to drag and pull the adhesive. Only apply enough adhesive to lay 1-2 tiles at a time to prevent the adhesive from beginning to dry before laying (I did about one tile at a time because the tiles I used were large). Take your time and make sure your tiles fit back into the layout you created as you go.

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Step 6. Place tile spacers between your tiles as you lay them to ensure you maintain the same width/gap between each tile. This will be important for grouting and the over all look later.

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Step 7. Once you have worked your way out of the room and placed your last tile…step back and admire your handiwork. Now walk away and let your new tile cure for a few days before moving on to grouting and sealing.

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Another reason why you need a great self esteem to survive motherhood.

Retrospectively, I wish I had known how fantastic my boobs looked BEFORE having children. (yeah.  I just went there in the first sentence of a post.)  I don’t know about the comparison to other people’s boobs, but the before and after pics would have been staggering.  I’ll spare you that illustration.  (My husband says I’m prone to a lot of exaggeration in this respect, but this post is from my view point so you’re getting the self portrait here.)  Before they were normal and perky.  While nursing they were about the size of torpedo you’d find if the military had a Costco.  After nursing, was a sad view that reminded me of tennis balls in tube socks.  As time passes they get better, but never quite the same and after each baby I wonder if nature and evolution tries to bring them lower to the kids’ height for easy access or something.

I have come to accept this about my body and the fact that other women have lamented about the same thing brings me much comfort.  Still, there’s nothing like your own child to put things into perspective for you. 

One day just after having my third, my dear friend came over to help raise my baby blues.  She came down with her own baby belly and picked the baby and I up.  Then we were going to get my second child from preschool and my oldest from Kindergarten.  It was so nice to get out in the sunshine but I wanted to get back to the house because in my depression, I hadn’t even thought of putting a bra on.

Being the wonderful friend that she was, she insisted that bras were over-rated, that we go to the McDonald’s drive thru and then have a picnic in the backyard after picking up the kids.  My girls LOVE McD’s and I thought how excited they would be to have a treat like that.

We went to pick up No. 1 first.  I gave her a love and showed her who had come to visit.  She was very excited and then had this glazed over look as I told her where we would be eating.  McDonald’s AND a picnic!  Nothing.  She seemed catatonic.  I waved my hand in front of her face.

She responded but didn’t break her gaze from my mid section.  “Huh?”

“You okay?”  I asked.  “did you hear where we are going?”

She stared and lifted her finger towards my chest. “Aren’t those……”

I looked down. “What?”

“…Supposed to be..”  Her finger lifted significantly toward my shoulders. “…Up there?”

There was chortling from the driver’s seat followed by outbursts of loud laughter, followed by apologies and more chortling.

It took me a minute to figure out how to respond, but I came up with the best one I could manage with out crying and using my hands to lift the poor things up. “Well, yes, but that’s what happens when you don’t mind your mom all the time.  Learn from my mistakes, young one.  Learn from them.  Now let’s get in the car and buckle up.”

It was a bit disconcerting to see her look of fear and understanding and then the speed that she crawled into my friend’s vehicle and buckled up.  I swear I caught her glimpse down at her shirt and sigh in relief.

I started wearing Bras more and on a side note, we did have a lovely picnic.  The humor that I got the chicken breast, was not lost on myself or my friend.

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How to: Level a Cement Floor

How to: Level a Cement Floor

Step 1: Determine if you have a cement floor that needs to be leveled – perhaps to lay new time flooring for example. Using a handy dandy leveler check the overall integrity of your floor and identify spots that may need help.

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Step 2. Gather the needed supplies – Rubber gloves, floor leveling cement, a disposable cup or bucket to mix the cement in, and a trowel to spread the cement.

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Step 3. Mix cement via manufacturers instructions, and allow to set up. Then pour cement over area needing to be leveled.

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Step 4. Using the flat side of your trowel spread the cement over the affected area in fluid strokes. Continue to work the cement into the un-level or cracked areas until you have a nice flat surface.

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Step 5: Ensure the newly cemented area is nice and level with the rest of the floor. Make adjustments as needed and then allow to set up overnight or per the manufacturers instructions.

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Congratulations you just leveled your floor! You are ready to begin tile work!

Side note…if the area needing to be leveled is high instead of sunken, you may need to sand/chip down the area or raise the floor level of the whole room. If you are unsure about the thickness of the cement flooring and the ability to rough sand down an area don’t proceed! Always contact a professional if you aren’t sure about the integrity of the space you are working on.

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How to: Remove an Old Toilet

How To: Remove an Old Toilet

Here are very basic step by step instructions for removing an old toilet…for when you find yourself in need of upgrading your porcelain throne, remodeling your bathroom, or fixing a leak. (Please excuse the black floors – these were taken in the beginning of the renovation process)

Step 1: Identify the offending toilet in need of removal.

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Step 2: Find the water shut off valve behind the toilet. Turn the water off.

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Step 3: Remove the lid from the tank on the back of your toilet and flush the toilet to allow the water to drain.

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Step 4: With your dollar store rubber gloves on and a large dollar store sponge- soak up the remaining water in the bottom of the tank and empty it into a bucket.

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Step 5: There will be water still in the bowl from flushing the tank. Use your handy-dandy plunger to plunge the bulk of the water out of the toilet before going in with the sponge to soak up the rest.

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Step 6: Squeeze out all the excess water into your bucket, and admire your empty ready to be removed toilet.

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Step 7: Disconnect your water line from the bottom of the tank (place your bucket under the valve if you weren’t able to get all of the water up with your sponge).

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Step 8: Remove the bolts from the base of the toilet and use a utility knife or multi-tool to cut the seal around the base of the toilet (many times it is simply a thin layer of silicone).

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Step 9: Call in the muscle! (If you are taking the toilet out on your own and don’t think you can lift it whole, you can separate the tank from the base and remove each portion one at a time.) Rock the toilet back and forth in order to break the wax seal between the toilet and the drain. Then pick that bad boy up and haul it away!

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Step 10. After you have removed the toilet, scrape around the drain to remove the old wax seal and prep the area for the new toilet. Finally place a rag into the drain opening (preferably an old rag or section of towel) to prevent sewer fumes from coming up the pipe and to prevent tools from falling into the hole. Make sure the rag is big enough to fit snug and not to simply fall down into the pipe.

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Congratulations you have just removed your very own toilet and by doing it yourself you just saved a bunch of hard earned cash!

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How to: Remove Laminate Flooring

How To: Remove Laminate Flooring

1. Identify the room you wish to change the flooring in.

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Step 2. Remove baseboards, decorative molding, etc from around the perimeter of the room (occasionally this may not be over the top of the laminate but you will want to pull it up anyway so you can place your new floor properly.)

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Step 3. Use a box cutter or multi-use tool to cut the silicone seal around the base of any fixture you are not removing before or at the same time as the flooring (these fixtures should however be removed prior to laying the new flooring. (It is never wise to lay new flooring around an existing fixture such as a toilet or sink. In the event of an accident or leak down the road having access to the base of these fixtures is very important.)

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Step 4. Using your same multi-use tool (I’m using my SHUR LINE 10 in 1 tool available at the local hardware store http://www.lowes.com/pd_178391-1077-07217_0__?productId=3018291 ) or utility knife start in the corner of the room furthest from the door. Cut a line straight out from the corner, use the edge of your multi-tool to get underneath the laminate flooring and lift along the cut area. Then grab with your gloved hand (It will be very sticky under the laminate) and pull.

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Step 5. Remove all laminate from the floor working toward the door so you don’t have to step on the adhesive under the laminate (which will stick to the bottom of your shoes and then come off somewhere else in your house you don’t want to find it). The laminate may come up in one piece if you are lucky…or if (like this room) the previous owners used black tar to adhere  the laminate to the subflooring you may be in for a bit more work. The laminate in this room was very difficult to peal up and I had to take it out in strips. Eventually I worked out a system where I would muscle up a piece large enough to hold on to and then I would squat and lean back so my backside could do the heavily lifting for me (What can I say it was one of those times I felt thankful for all that junk in my trunk lol). It was a lot more work than I expected but in the end I had a room free of laminate and ready for cleaning to start the tiling process!

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Step 6. Admire your laminate free floor before heading to the store to pick up adhesive remover.

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Side note…here is the other bathroom I have removed the laminate flooring in. In this room the previous owners used self sticking individual laminate squares. The adhesive on these is much less durable than the black tar adhesive used for large sheets of laminate…as a result these squares came up very easy. Simply place the tip of your multi-tool under the edge of each square and pop them up! A few stuck better than others, but on whole the process in this bathroom was very easy.

Congratulations you just removed your old laminate flooring!

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Girls vs Dinner Eggplant Parmesan & Fruit Salad

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The last week of August and first week of September were busy times for the two of us here at Girls vs Blog. In addition to our regular daily activities and stresses we were also preparing for Katie’s baptism. Of course such a momentous occasion could only mean one thing…Road Trip! Well..for one 🙂

After having finished Katie’s dress (mostly… I may have done a few things the night before the baptism) I packed up my little car and began the trip out to Utah. The great thing about these occasions and trips is time with friends and family and of course both Girls vs Bloggers in one room…working on projects and cooking food and having fun together!  This trip was no different, and while many times we find ourselves so excited about getting to visit we forget to take pictures of our adventures…this time we managed to capture dinner.

With two spunky girls in the kitchen (and a handful of little ones running around helping) how could dinner be anything but fantastic…not to brag or anything. So here it is…Eggplant Parmesan and a delicious fruit salad topped with a lime, honey, mint dressing. Enjoy!

We began by making a trip through the pantry to see what we had on hand and then made a trip to the store to see what was fresh. As luck would have it Eggplants were piled high, looking delicious and ON SALE! We picked up two to feed 9 people and had left overs to take next door to the neighbor. Next we strolled through the fruit section and found fresh berries were on sale…so into the basket they went as well. With a game plan in place we assessed what we had seen in the pantry at home and then picked up a few remaining ingredients like panko bread crumbs and one or two extra tomatoes (as we weren’t sure there were enough from the garden).

Step 1: Gather all ingredients so you don’t have to run around the kitchen looking for stuff halfway through

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Step 2: Slice eggplant into 1/4-1/8in thick sections and place on a wire rack. Salt the slices liberally then set aside with paper towels or kitchen towels under the racks. This allows the additional moisture to come out of the eggplant which keeps the outer crust crispier later and makes for more even cooking.

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Step 2: Prep for tomato sauce. Gather your fresh picked or purchased tomatoes and place them on a baking sheet. Coat tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a 350 degree oven for 10-20 minutes or until the skins begin to roll and peel away from the flesh. If skins can be easily removed they are done…if they are still difficult to remove and are taking flesh with them when you peel back place the tomatoes back in the oven for a few more minutes.

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Remove tomatoes from oven and set aside to cool slightly before peeling. While tomatoes are cooling grate a zucchini (we are about to hide some super nutritious veggies in this delicious sauce. The kids won’t even know they are there!) As luck would have it our girls actually like the veggies so I don’t really have to hide them…but I still like to grate the zucchini because it disperses the flavor well and thickens the sauce! Then peel the tomatoes and set aside.

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Step 3: Remove casing from your italian sausage of choice (we used spicy italian chicken sausage) and place it in a hot pot. Immediately begin to break up the sausage with a wooden utensil. Once the sausage has begun to render its fat add one whole diced onion and saute until the onion is translucent and the meat has finished cooking. Then add 2-3 cloves crushed garlic, grated zucchini, and any other veggies you are slipping in (I also grated the thick ends of the eggplant and added them in). Sauté until veggies are soft and garlic is fragrant.

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Step 4: Dice, crush or otherwise destroy your lovely roasted tomatoes and add them to the pot along with a few hardy palms full of your favorite italian seasoning combination (we make up our own each time adding spices such as basil, parsley, oregano, pepper, cumin,  paprika, thyme, crushed red pepper, etc). Then reduce heat and let sauce simmer while you complete the rest of dinner (add a palm full of sugar to the sauce at the end…right before serving to brighten the tomatoes and round out the sauce. Don’t add it earlier or the sugars can scorch!)

Step 5: Prepare fruit salad! We added grapes, raspberries, blue berries, strawberries and banana’s. Rinse all fruit and slice the grapes in half and the strawberries into quarters. Add all fruit to a bowl and toss with dressing. Dressing = 2-3 fresh limes squeezed, equal parts honey and a splash of oil whisk together. Then add freshly chopped mint leaves and whisk again before poring over salad. Toss all fruit and dressing to combine and then set aside to allow the flavors to marry while you finish dinner.

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Step 6: Your Eggplant should have a nice layer of moisture sitting on the top at this point showing you that it is ready to get started. Pat all dry (pushing down a little as you do to squeeze out remaining liquid). Then follow the three-step process for coating – dredge, wash, coat. Dredge in seasoned flour (seasoned with S&P)

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Dip in egg wash.

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Coat in bread crumb mixture. Bread crumb mixture is 2/3 panko to 1/3 traditional bread crumbs. Add the same spices you added to the sauce to the crumbs so your eggplants are well seasoned and tasty; as well as a handful of parmesan cheese. Finally add enough olive oil to make the mixture the consistency of beach sand. The reason we add the olive oil here is so we get a nice crispy crust without frying! You may need to pack on the crust with your fingers. Once you have a nice even coating place onto a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-35 minutes or until the outside is crispy golden brown and the inside is cooked through. Turn once halfway through cooking to allow both sides to brown evenly. While these are cooking – make your pasta and any h’orderves/breads you wish to serve.

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While making dinner we gave the little girls projects so they could help with dinner too! They cleaned and set the table. Picked out which dish they wanted to use (they wanted to pull out the fancy glasses and parfait cups for this occasion), and then we had them create name cards for each person at the table. The eldest two girls wrote the names on the cards and all 4 girls helped to color and decorate them.

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Once the eggplant is done, the pasta is ready and the table is set it’s time to plate. We served the fruit salad in parfait glasses as a kind of desert salad. On a main plate add pasta, tomatoe sauce and top with a few slices of eggplant. Then top everything with freshly grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!

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Bon Appetit!

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Filed under Budget, Children, DIY, Education, Family, Food and Drink, Recipes

Girls vs Awards!

A VERY big thank you to Bea of Bulging Buttons for nominating us here at Girls vs Blog for awards!!!! We are so thrilled and honored!

1. WordPress Family Award

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Rules: Display the award on your blog, link back to the person who nominated you, nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family.

2. Semper Fidelis Award (for those who are ‘always faithful/always loyal)

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3. Reader Appreciation Award for those who like and comment on a regular basis.

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4. Liebster Award– for awesome blogs with smaller readerships

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Rules: Display the award logo, thank the blogger who nominated you  and link back to his or her blog. Answer the 11 questions that your nominator asks you, post 11 random facts about yourself, nominate 11 bloggers of your own, with under 200 followers, whom you think are as awesome as you,  and create 11 questions for your nominees.

This little part was added by the wonderful blogger who nominated us and we think it fits…so we’re keeping it! Disclaimer: I don’t always know how many people follow your blogs. I don’t always know who has visited mine. These are blogs that are meaningful to me for various reasons all covered in one way or another by the above awards, so let’s not get too hung up on the particulars, and have some fun checking out some great blogs and bloggers.

Our Nominees!

Bulging Buttons – Yes I’m nominating you back! I love your Happiness Project 47 for 47!

Savory Sweet Life

Average but Inspired

Circus Berry

Sew Charleston

The Rambling Epicure

A Bahamian in Austria

Live to Write – Write to Live

Kikichiikii

Hers & Hims

The 11 questions answered…x 2!

Carrievsblog says

  1. Where were you born? Kansas
  2. Of what are you proud? I’ve still got a few of my marbles left.  I haven’t lost them all.
  3. Of what are you afraid? Moths.  They are evil creatures of the night.
  4. Other than writing, what are your creative outlets?  Art, music and rearranging furniture.
  5. How do you take care of yourself?  You have to have a few minutes every day to just think and chill out.
  6. How do you know when you’re done writing a piece?  I complete my thought (s) and feel like I’ve made a point clearly.
  7. What stupid things have you done that you don’t regret?  once Lexi and I went skinny dipping up in the mountains as teenagers.  Stupid, cold, and I’m still convinced there might have been a Kraken in there somewhere.  Still totally fun and I can say that I actually went skinny dipping.  Besides, that was as wild as we got and we were still back by curfew.
  8. If you had to move somewhere new, where would you go? Tuscany.
  9. What is your favorite time of the day or night? Why?  Right after bed time when you collapse on the couch with a stash of munchies and watch big girl TV.
  10. What is something you miss from your childhood?  Lack of bills, stretch marks and being blissfully oblivious to life’s dramas.
  11. What was your favorite book in fourth grade?  The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis  (#4 Chronicles of Narnia)

Lexivsblog says

  1. Where were you born? Ohio
  2. Of what are you proud? Of getting this award!
  3. Of what are you afraid? Many things…mostly that which I don’t know, but occasionally I am burdened by knowledge (nursing) and find the greatest fear in knowing not what will…but what MIGHT happen. 
  4. Other than writing, what are your creative outlets? Travel (making the itineraries and then following them), cooking, butchery, sewing, singing loudly in the car on the way to work, knitting, painting, and anything else I find myself inspired to try day to day. 
  5. How do you take care of yourself? This one is a bit more difficult to answer as it could be in reference to so many things… I try to eat fairly healthy, exercise regularly (not gym crazy just run and around and have fun), laugh often, and try to remind myself not to be so serious about everything. 
  6. How do you know when you’re done writing a piece? Some pieces are never finished…those that are I count as finished when I can think of nothing further to say…and it has an ending I find suitable (which is to say…I don’t find it particularly lacking). 
  7. What stupid things have you done that you don’t regret? Hmmm…I moved to Egypt on a bit of whim. Lived there 18 months and worked for the DOD. Looking back…moving to Egypt as a 20 year old girl may not have been the smartest thing I have ever done…but it was a heck of an experience for sure!
  8. If you had to move somewhere new, where would you go? New as in somewhere I have never been…or just somewhere different from where I am now? I would move to Italy or England in a heartbeat (been to both). I think I would move to Spain or Japan with little to no quarrel as well (haven’t been to either, but would like to go.) Stateside…I think I would move to most states at least temporarily…I rather like California though…I like the sun and the beaches. 
  9. What is your favorite time of the day or night? Why? Perhaps just before getting up in the morning. Those last few minutes of warm snuggles get me every time. 
  10. What is something you miss from your childhood? Being able to eat whatever I want and not have to worry about it! Seriously I know that is simple but I LOVE to eat…so not having to think about calories, or workouts, or how my pants will fit later would be AWESOME!
  11. What was your favorite book in fourth grade? Can’t remember. Sadly I didn’t enjoy reading as much then as I do now. 

Our 11 Questions for our lovely award winners!

1. If you were a craft what would you be?

2. What’s an irrational fear that you have?

3. What is one of your favorite meals?

4. What is the song that repeatedly gets stuck in your head?

5. Who would you have been in a previous life if you had to pick someone? Why them?

6. What decade do you think you should have been born in, if not the one you were? Why?

7. What person from classic Hollywood do you think you are most like? (exp Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, etc)

8. What is a serious issues involving women you would like to see better addressed on blogs?

9. Are there any issues on women or human rights you are sick of seeing on blogs?

10. Where is your favorite vacation spot? Where do you want to vacation but haven’t yet?

11. What is one admitted guilty pleasure or bad habit you refuse to break?

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What do you cal…

What do you call a nosy pepper? —Jalapeno business!

 You’re welcome. 🙂

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by | September 16, 2013 · 7:32 pm