Wednesday, June 30, 2010

PSA - Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

Today I came across this article written by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer who teaches maritime safety. Please, go read this article now, especially if you and your family spend any time in the water.

Here are some highlights:

"Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.

"The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC). Drowning does not look like drowning – Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

"Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

So if a crew member falls overboard and every looks O.K. – don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. If they return a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why."

I don't know about you, but I always assumed a drowning person could call out for help. And where did that assumption come from? Hollywood, of course. Just like the author said.

If I lived to be 40 and never knew this, how many others don't know either? Please share this article with your family and friends.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

From the creators of Fireproof

Coming to theaters in 2011, a movie about building strong families through strong fathers.


Homemade Chocolate Sauce

I can't find my camera. Which means I don't have yummy pictures to share. My camera is always in the kitchen or by the computer. I can't find it in either place. Or anywhere else. I am very sad.

I think I'll go eat some ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce to cheer myself up. My Aunt Peg shared it with my mom years ago so I grew up eating it on ice cream. Hershey's syrup? Chocolate water compared to this sauce! You'll love it and you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen.

Here's what you need:

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 teas salt
1/2 bag chocolate chips
1 teas vanilla
1/4 cup water

In a sauce pan, combine the milk, butter and salt. Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips and vanilla, stirring until the chips are completely melted. Add the water and stir until smooth. Serve over ice cream.

Or you can just eat it with a spoon and skip the ice cream all together!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Menu Plan June 27-July 3

How quickly this summer is flying by! Last week was my lazy week - no kids, no big projects. Charles and I enjoyed a movie and dinner out and got to spend some quality time together.

This week is going to be a bit busier. The kids are still at my parents, so I'm going to try to work on cleaning and maybe even painting a room or two. On Thursday I'm going to a dear friend's house and learn how to make authentic Mexican food. Her family is from Mexico and she makes the most delicious tortillas, refried beans and carnitas around! I can't wait!

Here's the plan for this week:


Chicken and brown rice bake

Grilled pizza, grilled potato chips

Spaghetti, garlic bread

Mexican food night! Whoo hoo!

Out with friends

Chinese chicken, rice

If you're not a menu planner, try it out this week. It helps relieve the stress of "What's for dinner?" that hits around 5 pm! And it can help you stick to a grocery budget if you make a list of items you need from the store and follow it! Visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday for more inspiration. You'll find tons of menu plans and recipe links there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Product Review Coming Up!

If you live in a small town with limited shopping opportunities like I do, I've got the perfect online resource for you! CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can buy anything from cookware to cribs to specific needs likes dining room sets and dog bedding! Seriously, you can find any item you need in one of their stores.

The fabulous folks at CSN Stores have offered me the incredible opportunity to review one of their products. I've been wanting to try some new kitchen knives, so I've got my eye on a few sets in their cookware store. I can't wait to try them out and share with you what I think. And y'all know I have no problem telling you what I think!

So I have a question, friends. What brand of kitchen knives do you use? Is there one type of knife you just can't live without?

Check back soon to see which one I choose and my review of it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grilled Veggie Dinner

The kids are at my parents' house in another state for the next 10 days or so. I decided to try some new recipes that I knew they probably wouldn't like. They'll eat sushi but turn their noses up at eggplant. What's up with that?

We had grilled portobello mushrooms, grilled eggplant and grilled white asparagus. And even though I didn't take a picture of it, we had grilled pineapple for dessert.

For the portobellos, place 4-6 caps in a Ziploc bag and add Italian dressing. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Grill over medium heat for 4 minutes per side. Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup pizza sauce with 1/4 cup diced roasted red pepper. Spread on the grilled mushrooms. Top with slices of Havarti or mozzarella cheese.

Broil for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. As you can see, the cheese on my portobellos slid right off. But that's okay. Scoop it back on. It's great!

I can't tell you how delicious these were! The roasted red peppers were fantastic. I think I'll make this again before the kids come back, too.

For the eggplant and asparagus I made a simple marinade before grilling them. I used 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar, 3 teas minced garlic, 2 teas Italian seasoning, 1 teas parsley, 1 teas salt and 1/2 teas pepper. I let the veggies soak in the marinade for about 15 minutes. The eggplant soaked the liquid up very quickly. This was grilled until the eggplant was tender, about 5 minutes on each side. The asparagus took a little longer, about 8 minutes on each side.

This was a very satisfying, tasty dinner. We didn't miss eating meat at all with this one, so it's perfect for your vegetarian friends. I don't think we have any friends who are strict vegetarians, but if we did, this is what I'd serve them. It's really great!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Strawberry Angel Food Cake

This is one of my favorite summer treats when strawberries are in season. My mom has made it for years and years. In fact, it's the cake my dad always requests on his birthday. I requested it when we visited West Virginia last week and my dear mom lovingly obliged.

Here's what you need:

A round angel food cake (store bought is easiest)
8 oz Cool Whip (you can make your own whipped cream if you want)
8 oz strawberry yogurt
1/2 pint strawberries, diced

Slice the angel food cake in thirds horizontally. Mix the cool whip, yogurt and strawberries. Spread the strawberry mixture between layers and over the top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Store in the fridge.

Here's the half-eaten cake.

So light and refreshing on a warm summer evening!

And it won't require that you heat up your kitchen! How perfect is that for summer?

For more yummy summer recipes, visit Life as Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Disney tip - Early entrance to the Magic Kingdom

Have you ever seen empty tables at Casey's on Main Street? If you've ever wanted to see Main Street and the castle in a peaceful, serene setting, I have a great way to do it. Make reservations to eat breakfast at the Crystal Palace between 8:15 and 8:45 am! Simply tell the cast members at the entrance the time of your reservation. They may ask for your name to confirm, they may not.

The Crystal Palace is located to the left of Casey's off Main Street. The design is based on the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in London that was built to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. The outside of the restaurant clearly demonstrates the Victorian influence of the original.

The breakfast buffet was excellent, as you can see by the Princess' plate!

We got to meet all of the Pooh characters, too!

Anything that helps beat the crowds works for me! Check out more helpful tips at We are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesdays.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bread Pudding with Vanilla Butter Sauce

A neighbor made this wonderful dessert for us when we brought Mr. Lego home from the hospital. I fell in love with it and begged for the recipe. The sauce is the best part, in my opinion. You will want to slurp it up through a straw!

For the bread pudding, you will need:

2 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 TBSP melted butter
1 teas ground cinnamon
10 slices day old bread, torn into small pieces
(you can also use leftover hamburger or hotdog buns)
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

In a large bowl combine eggs, milk, sugar, butter and cinnamon.

Add the bread pieces and mix well. You want every bit of bread to be wet. Pour into a greased 8x8 dish. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The bread pudding will be puffed up until it cools, then it deflates. That's okay.

Now let's make the scrumptious vanilla butter sauce. You'll need:

2/3 cup sugar
2 TBSP flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 teas vanilla

In a saucepan combine the sugar, flour and water until smooth. Cut the butter into pieces, then add to the pan.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 3 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cooks. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Now comes the best part! Scoop up some bread pudding into a bowl, then smother with sauce. You can serve this warm or cold, but warm is better to me!

Click here for a printable recipe. Enjoy!

For more great recipes, visit Blessed with Grace's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Menu Plan Monday June 20-26

The summer has already gotten off to a busy start. We're almost at the end of June already. The kids are in West Virginia having a blast with grandparents and cousins, so this week's menu is going to be simple. I'm making a big batch of black beans and using them in several recipes this week, including dip! Yummy!

Here's the plan:

We ate on the road

Black bean burgers, fries

Grilled portobellos, asparagus

Santa Fe chicken salad, Mexican rice

Rice and bean burritos


Out to eat

For more great menu plan ideas, head over to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. You'll find plenty of inspiration to jumpstart your own menu planning.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I didn't blog much last week because I was in West Virginia with my family preparing for my oldest niece's wedding. The Princess was a junior bridesmaid and Mr. Lego was the ring bearer. He just adored wearing a tux. NOT!

Here's the beautiful bride and the Princess.

And Mr. Lego all dressed up. He just looked adorable. Don't tell him that, though, because he never wants to look adorable.

Here's my entire family, including the newest member - my niece's husband!

My parents wanted to keep the kids for a couple of weeks, so we left them there in West Virginia. It's been so long since hubby and I had the house to ourselves. We don't know what to do!

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Packing tip for travelers

I can't take credit for this tip. I heard it on "Say Yes to the Dress" on TLC. You know the show about women choosing their wedding garb at Kleinfeld's in NYC? The Princess and I watch it together. She loves seeing brides in their bridal gowns.

Anyway, the show gave some packing tips for couples traveling by plane and this one jumped out at me in one of those "Duh! Why didn't I think of that?" moments. Here's the tip - when packing two suitcases for you and your spouse, pack half of your clothes and half of his clothes in each suitcase. If one of your suitcases gets lost or has a slow time catching up with you, both of you will have some clothes. Wouldn't that be better than one of you having absolutely nothing to wear for a few days?

For more helpful tips, visit We are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Homemade pizza crust and sauce

We like pizza around here. Except for the Princess, who threw up after eating pizza last year and hasn't touched it since. Nice visual, huh? We have pizza night often because it's quick, easy and yummy.

It's quick because I make a no-rise pizza crust. I let my Kitchenaid mixer do most of the work, so it's very easy. And it's yummy because I've started making my own sauce, thanks to a recipe shared by my sister-in-law Jennifer. I tweaked it just a bit, as is my way. It's so much better than any sauce from a jar!

Here's the crust recipe:

1 cup warm (not hot) water
1 TBSP yeast
1 tsp sugar

Mix these together in a bowl and let proof for about 10 minutes. The sugar feeds the yeast and helps it grow. It should look something like this.

When the mixture has proofed, add:

2 TBSP olive oil
2 1/2 cups flour (I use half white, half wheat)
1 tsp salt

Knead this for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth. Let rest for about 5 minutes. This makes it easier to form the crust in a pan or on a pizza stone.

If you're using a pan, spritz it with cooking spray or olive oil. Sprinkle a little corn meal over the pan. Roll out the dough to the edges of the pan or stone.

Top with sauce and your favorite pizza toppings. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, longer if you use a small pan for a thicker crust.

If you plan ahead and make the dough a few days before using it, the crust is so chewy and delicious! Just mix the dough and place in a covered bowl in the fridge. Roll it out when you're ready to fix your pizza!

For the sauce you'll need:

1 can (29 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (6oz) tomato paste
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp rosemary

Whisk all ingredients together in a sauce pan; simmer 2 or 3 hours. Stir occasionally. The longer you let this simmer, the thicker it will be.

This recipe makes enough sauce for 4 large pizzas. You can easily freeze it in Ziploc bags in the portions you need. To thaw, simply remove the bag from the freezer and place in a bowl of warm water. It should be ready to use in 10-15 minutes. Or if you're organized and thaw things the night before you need them, just put the bag in the fridge. It will be ready to go the next day.

In no time at all, you can have homemade pizza that leaves Papa John's in the dust!

Friday, June 11, 2010

80's Flashback

Do you what movie hits theaters today?

The A-Team!

I loved the A-Team! Face, played by Dirk Benedict, was the object of my affection. But honestly, I liked the entire cast. Hannibal was so cool, not letting anything get under his skin. And his sarcasm was fun! You never knew what Murdock was going to do. He was crazy but could pilot anything with wings. And Mr. T was the perfect BA Baracus, bad attitude with a soft heart underneath. His fear of flying just added another layer of campiness to the show.

Once my great aunt questioned my parents' judgment about letting us kids watch the "most violent show on TV." I remember my dad laughing and saying that no one died in this show. Vehicles could roll over multiple times and the occupants would get out and straighten their ties. Every person onscreen would be firing automatic weapons and no one took a bullet. It was all for show! The bad guys always lost, the good guys always won.

And my brothers and I loved it! We never missed an episode if we could help it. If you ever missed an episode, I've got good news! You can watch the show on Netflix! Yep, it's in our "Watch Instantly" queue!

I'm not sure how this movie is going to measure up, but I think I'll at least give it a chance. But this doesn't meant I'll love Dirk Benedict's Face any less!

Fun Follow Friday

It's Friday and time for another blog hop! I like meeting new bloggers. How about you?

Simply Stacie and My Wee View are hosting a fun blog hop to introduce bloggers to each other. Isn't that nice of them? If you want to participate, just enter the URL to your blog below. Simple, huh?

Have a lovely Friday!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cinnamon Biscuits

I've had this recipe for years and just recently found it again while looking through my recipe box. Do you do that - prepare a dish for awhile, then move on to something else?

It's so easy, but it dresses up refrigerated biscuits nicely into a sweet, cinnamony breakfast treat. You can use homemade biscuits in this recipe, too, if you're a biscuit maker.

Here's what you need:

1 tube refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (10 count)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teas cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
Strawberry preserves

First, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl.

Separate the biscuits and dip them in the melted butter.

Coat all sides with the sugar mixture.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2-inches apart from each other. Make an indentation in each with the handle of a wooden spoon. Don't press through and make a hole, just an indentation.

Fill each indentation with about one teaspoon of preserves. I use strawberry, but of course you can use whatever kind you like.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for several minutes before serving. The preserves get hot!

The sugar crystallizes on the outside and gives the biscuits a sweet crunchy shell. Yum!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tenderizing steak the fast and frugal way

There's nothing worse than a tough, leathery steak that's hard to cut and chew. Well, here's a simple, frugal, fast way to tenderize steak. Use rock salt. You know, the kind you use for ice cream making. I can buy a 4-pound bag for less than two dollars. That's a whole lot of tenderizing! And in 10 minutes, you can have a flavorful, juicy steak.

Here's what you do:

Liberally cover your steak with the rock salt, both sides. Press it lightly so it sticks.

Let the steaks sit for 10 minutes. Then start scraping the salt off the meat. Use a knife if you want to. The salt will be almost clear instead of white. That's what you want.

The salt breaks down the protein fibers, allowing more "juice" to flow throughout the meat. Now grill as usual, but don't overcook.

You'll be amazed at how tender and juicy the steak will be! I know I was. I was afraid it would be too salty, but it was like a brine. The flavor was distributed throughout the steak and it needed no other seasoning.

If you're hesitant about the salty factor, try rinsing the steaks after tenderizing. Pat dry before grilling.

So what about you? How do you tenderize your steaks for the grill?

For more tips, visit We are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Menu Plan June 6-12

Another busy week is on the horizon, mainly because we're getting ready to head to a family wedding next week. So it's shopping, packing, cleaning (who wants to come home to a messy house?), and getting ready for a long road trip all week. I will manage to squeeze in a girls' night out with my best friend Suzanne, though. If not this week, we'll never get around to it!

So here's the plan for the week:

We were thinking Arby's - ha ha!

Pork carnitas, Southwestern lentil salad

Pizza - Girls' Night Out!

Rice and bean burritos, tortilla chips and homemade salsa

Steak sandwiches, twice baked potatoes, broiled tomatoes

Crockpot lasagna, garlic bread

Must-go Night - everything in the fridge must go!

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Last week was hubby's birthday, so I baked him his favorite cake - chocolate with chocolate icing. Now, most people like chocolate cake with chocolate icing because it's incredibly sweet, but my husband doesn't like really sweet. Just a little sweet is his preference. Or not sweet at all, since he drinks his unsweetened tea with no added sugar.

This cake is the perfect balance of chocolate and not-too-sweet. The cake itself is made with bittersweet chocolate and is light, not dense. The icing has much of the sugar, but it's not overpowering or thick. It serves a lot of people, too, so it's just right for a not-too-heavy dessert after a dinner party or gathering.

Here's what you need for the cake:

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (see tip below)
3 (1oz each) bittersweet chocolate squares, melted

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Beat in the melted chocolate.

Doesn't that chocolate look yummy! Here's what your mixture will look like after the chocolate is added. I could slurp it up with a straw!

Pour the batter into a greased 15x10 pan and smooth out.

Bake at 350 degrees for 22-27 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. My cake overflowed just a bit, as you can see. What to do with the excess chocolate cake? Hmmmm, let me would be a sin to waste chocolate cake. Maybe you can trim off the extra and taste it to be sure it's worthy of being served to the birthday boy? Well, that's exactly what I did! And it was worthy!

Tip: I rarely keep buttermilk on hand, so I make my own. Place 1 TBSP lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup, then add enough milk to equal one cup. Allow to stand for 10 minutes. And now you have the buttermilk you need for this recipe!

While the cake is cooling, prepare the icing. You'll need:

1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 chopped pecans, optional

In a saucepan, bring cocoa and milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Make sure you use a saucepan that's large enough to add 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar to later!

Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Keep stirring until the butter is completely melted.

Whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth.

Stir in the nuts. Pour icing over cake and spread quickly to the edges.


For a printable recipe, click here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Internet is still here! Yay!

Last Friday our high speed internet went out during a big ol' thunderstorm. Charles called the cable company and got the recorded message that there were outages in our area. So we figured an hour or so and we'd be back. See, he works from home and he really needs a high speed connection to do his job. I need it too, but only because I'm an internet junkie.

But an hour or so later and we still were without internet. And phone service because we use Vonage. Our cable tv was working just fine so he called again and this time talked to a real person. Real person told him it looked like we had a problem with the splitter coming into the house. Or something like that. The earliest a technician could come look at it was Wednesday. Wednesday?!?

Hubby managed to hook up his Verizon 3G broadband something or other (really technical, I know!) and let me check my emails and stuff. But it was slow. And I didn't like it. I wanted MY internet back! I felt like I was cut off from civilization!

So yesterday the technician came. Nice guy. He quickly determined it was the modem, not the splitter. So we went all that time without high speed internet and all we needed was a new modem. That we could have gotten Friday. Oh, well.

Yesterday was also hubby's birthday. I made him chocolate cake, his favorite. I'll post the recipe later. And we took some pictures of our lovely hydrangea. Want to see?

I love the purple, pink, and violet blooms. The pink comes from putting lime around the base of the bush.

A close-up of a pink bloom:

A purple one:

A little of both: