Monthly Archives: January 2012

Donation to Berlyn and Horses with H.E.A.R.T.

Many of you have followed our family struggle with our son Berlyn and his Autism. We have our good days and our bad days. Some days, the tantrums are out of control and he screams and scratches at his ears and face when he has a sensory over-load and lately he has started rocking again when he gets anxious. On his good days, he speaks well and asks a ton of questions. He brain is over processing.

He is high-functioning with PDD (Pervasive Development Disorder). In October, he finally wrote his name and that was something that his doctor said may never happen. SO, we are thrilled that between all of our hard work at home and in the classroom where he gets much needed one-one-one, he is succeeding.

We have been struggling getting him any therapists since our state health insurance was cut because our income was $0.17 too much a month. Insurance was too high for us to buy through Larry’s work. We are back to square one with that.

Our name was given to Horses with H.E.A.R.T., a local non-profit company in Chino Valley to get some therapy for him. This is not just any therapy, this is a horse riding program for special needs. Our goal is to raise $600 to pay for Berlyn’s lessons. $600 pays for the entire years worth of lessons for him (24 group lessons)

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My sister Jen and I are are taking Berlyn to a bowl-a thon on Feb 11 along with a few of our friends to raise money for Berlyn and Horses with H.E.A.R.T.

Any size donation will help get him involved in this amazing program If you can, please donate $5 or $10. Checks can be made out to Horses with H.E.A.R.T and write Berlyn – BAT (for bowl-a-thon) in the memo line. (mail checks to Horses with H.E.A.R.T, PO Box 2427, Chino Valley, AZ 86323 or take them by Mazy’s in Chino Valley anytime before Feb 8th). If you do mail a check, please send us an email so that we can mark you down on our list of his goal.

Berlyn and
Horses with H.E.A.R.T

You can also donate online through PayPal and I will get your name on our list. (paypal email is All donations over $10 will receive a receipt for their 2012 taxes that will be mailed right after the  Bowl-a-thon.

Donations need to be in on or before Feb 8th for Berlyn to get credit.

Here is more information on Horses with H.E.A.R.T

We thank you so much for your support in this for our AMAZING son!


Recipe from Jen – French toast with berry syrup

My sister and her family are eating healthier and this is one of their favorite recipes. She and her family eat Ezekiel bread. My family grinds our own wheat for most of our bread. Both are healthy options. SWG bread referenced below can be found in most grocery store freezers (Health food store is way cheaper she tells me!!)


French toast with berry syrup

A yummy breakfast or anytime meal! My children love this but the berries will stain clothes (or faces), so make sure you don’t feed it to your not so neat kids the morning of their school pictures 🙂

  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Servings: 1


1 egg
1 slice SWG bread
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1/4 cup water
A few drops of Stevia, as per your taste


To make the berry syrup: Put berries and water in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook until berries soften slightly. Mash berries in pan, add a few drops of Stevia and continue cooking on low until sauce thickens slightly.

To make the french toast: Mix egg, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a shallow pan. Place slice of SWG bread in egg mixture and coat on both sides. Heat a nonstick pan on medium and place bread in pan, flipping after a few minutes.

Put your french toast on a plate and cover in berry syrup

Organizing tip #1 – Linen Closet

Our Organized Linen Closet

Trying to organize the 7 of us has, at times, been an EPIC FAIL! There are certain things however that I really keep organized, because it makes our life just a bit easier! And trust me when I say that this is easy to maintain as well. Even my kids, when helping with laundry, can find the correct baskets to put items away with this system.

My linen closet is one of the most important things that I do organize. I always have the fear that someone in the middle of the night will get sick and I will need to change the sheets, but can’t find any fitted sheets or any pillow cases. I can just imagine myself trying to comfort a crying child while DIGGING through the closet, just making myself even more flustered. I still cannot imagine the horror that I would go through and would probably wake up the entire household in the process.

I started out by picking up a few of the $3 laundry baskets from the dollar store. They fit directly on my shelves in my linen closet. I also picked up 2 gallon zippy storage bags at the store. A twin set of sheets fit perfectly in these – I know BRILLIANT! I fold down all matching sheet sets – the fitted, the flat and the matching pillowcase along with a dryer sheet and fit it into the zippy bag. I then throw these into one of the laundry baskets in the closet. This basket is now the matching sheet basket!!! What an easy grab if I need to change sheets in the middle of the night (or any time for that matter!).

The kids pull their sheets off of their bed on their laundry day (another post on this next week) and grab a new sheet bag from the closet. The empty bag goes back in the basket so once I wash and dry their old set, it gets folded right back into the bag and bask into the basket in the closet. The rotation begins! And everything stays neat and tidy in my closet for the next person, the very next day to grab their new set of sheets.

I found some twin comforter sets at Target for $10 (marked down from $69.99) so I bought 4 and have left those in the bags. (For those who didn’t already know, my husband and I are on a waiting list for both foster kids and foster adoption along with emergency intake of kiddlings for singles and siblings 12 years and under, boy or girl) I wanted to have something new for new family members. The bags that those comforters come in are useful for my organizing. And will come out of the bags once we get kids. Those sets will go back into the bags if the kids don’t stay with us permanent.

I also have a laundry basket in the closet for just table clothes, baby blankets, afghans for the living room snuggle time, extra pillow cases, etc.

We change our table clothes at least once a day in the dining room sometimes twice or more. My kids are messy eaters! But, the table clothes do cover up my old table that needs refinishing. I don’t bag up table clothes like I do sheets, but I do fold them and keep them in their own basket. A HA! The Table Cloth basket! We even have smaller baskets in my pantry for our cloth napkins (don’t use paper in this house).

After the organization got going, I got rid of any sheets that I did have all 3 pieces except for the extra pillow cases. Goodwill was more than happy to take them, although, I wish now that I kept many of them to make skirts and dolls for my girls.

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks – 2012

Our visit to Montezuma Castle National Monument

We try and take the kiddlings to visit different places around Arizona. There are so many things that you can see and do. There are several times a year that National Parks are free to visit. We decided to take the kids to Montezuma’s Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments. We had such a BLAST going. Our 4 youngest and my 2 nephews along with Larry and myself climbed into the Suburban and made an afternoon over the hill in the Verde.

Check out which National parks and monuments that you can get into free on the dates that I listed below:

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks

Mark your calendar for these fee-free dates in 2012:

  • January 14-16
    Martin Luther King Jr. weekend
  • April 21-29
    National Park Week
  • June 9
    Get Outdoors Day
  • September 29
    National Public Lands Day
  • November 10-12
    Veterans Day weekend

Creative Team Call January 2012

Creative Team Call
Looking for 4 FUN, CREATIVE Team Member

Create 2-3 layouts/projects per kit (1 new kits per month plus 1 older kit)

Promote on your blog,
Twitter, and/or Facebook

Post on the message board of – at least 15 times a month and have a siggy for my creative team

Post Layouts on

  • my facebook page for digital art
  • a site of your choice (you need to email where to me)

Email A BIO, 3 sample layouts, Blog Address, a photo, list of other designers who you design for.

Email (subject: CTCALL)

Due BY January 25, 2012


Term Runs Feb. 1, 2012 Through July 31, 2012

Opinions make me laugh

What a weird day today! The weather was strange… the moon was full… and people seemed to be out to get everyone today. I made the mistake of posting on my facebook account a very touchy subject in our small town. The 4-day VS 5-day school district work week. I enjoy the fact that

  1. Berlyn can’t physically / mentally do anymore classes during the week so he is only at school 4 days a week.
  2. I enjoy my husband working 4 10-hour days instead of 5 8-hour days.
  3. Every weekend with both my husband and my children are 3-day weekends!
  4. As a parent, I want my children to be at school for less time. I want them home more and not feel that I am using the school district as a babysitter. (When my kids are gone for long periods of time with school activities, I feel like a failure as a parent because someone else is raising my kids.)
  5. To change the back to the 5-day a week schedule, it mean that they school district will have to come up with $300,000 (approx) more and that means more job cuts!!! Can we really run a district with LESS TEACHERS / EMPLOYEES?

I ended up deleting 6 people off of my friends list from facebook. I was called selfish. I was called one-sided. I asked for no debate on my facebook page… and got a debate so I deleted posts.

I love my small town… I love living here and I love making our town a better place. That is what I will continue to do as well as I can!

When God gives you lemons… and oranges… you make marmalade (or marmalade sauce)

We had a coupon of dozen oranges that were getting old left over from several cases I bough last month. I decided to be smart… and make marmalade.  I don’t even like marmalade, but, I figured… I would give it a go.


I made 2 batches. The first batch… YUMMY!!! Set GREAT!  The kids are using it in sandwiches and on biscuits.


However, the second batch… Well, C’est la vie is really all I can say… It’s Orange slush. Or… Orange Ice Cream Topping!! EPIC FAIL!


How can I fix this? It is the marinade on my roasting chicken now! Roasted Orange Chicken – Doesn’t that sound tasty?


Oh… and that chicken was so GOOD!!!

Beans in BULK! BBQ Recipe from Scratch

Canned beans can get expensive… since with 7+ at our house at any given time, we need 2 or more cans of beans as a side dish.

I have been buying my pinto beans in bulk for several years. They come dried and in 25 and 50 pound bags from Costco or Sam’s Club for less than $10. I store mine in recycled wheat buckets. (Another story… but I do grind my own wheat for flour)

After I make my beans, I freeze them in either mason jars or in zipper bags. (I will talk canning beans on another day!)

(THIS IS A LOT OF BEANS!!)  I add about 16 cups of dried beans to my stockpot and add water to just below the top of the pot to soak over night. The next morning, dump out the old water and refill the water to above the beans and cook on medium until tender.

8 5-cup bags of cooked plain pinto beans

This is where it gets FUN! You get to decide what kind of beans that you want.

Normally, I bag up half of them plain with no seasonings to use with tacos, in soups, etc.

Then the other half I add sauteed onions & garlic and italian herbs and BBQ Sauce, a can of tomato paste, a touch of brown sugar, salt and pepper. And stir is all in. (These remind me of “ranch” beans with onions.

For the BBQ Sauce, I get so many FREE off of the coupon list, buying them when they are 10 for $10 and having $1 coupons… But, you can easily make your own sauce as well.

My 16 cups of dried beans made 8 5-cup bags of pintos ready to use in tacos, etc. and 4 4-cup bags of beans with onions, garlic, tomato paste, BBQ sauce and salt and pepper.

Home-made BBQ Sauce(from foodnetwork):


Cooked Pinto Beans with BBQ Sauce mixture ready for the freezer.
  • 1 (7-ounce) jar or can  tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons spicy Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons BBQ seasoning mix
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups water


Whisk all the ingredients together in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half or to desired thickness, about 1 hour.

Cool completely before transferring to an airtight container and storing in the refrigerator.

Cook’s Note: Use the BBQ sauce within 1 week or freeze for up to 6 months.


New Digital Scrapbook Store

I am selling at a new online store for all of my digital art. Check out the site at

They are currently having a grand opening and EVERYTHING in my shop is on sale for 50% off. I am adding new items each week so stop by and visit the site for games and freebies!

My store is located at:


Sometimes you need to embarrass your teen… other days, she loves it!

For the last few months, I had joked with my sister that I needed a sock monkey hat for winter so that I could walk my 13 year old to her violin class.  Shelby insisted that was NOT an option because I would embarrass her. My sister got me a sock monkey hat for Christmas… I laughed so hard opening that gift… Shelby look mortified!

Several days after Christmas, the kids got to go chopping and spend Christmas gift cards that they got from family. Shelby, with a gleam in her eye, bought herself an owl snow hat. Her dimples showing, she beamed that now, she would walk her dad and I to our church service wearing her hat!

Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

I have found that making life fun for the kids makes life fun for the rest of us! Shelby is an AMAZING teen and although at times does some of the most interesting and highly questionable things, she is growing through life with an amazing sence of humor!

If you ever get a chance… but a sock monkey hat!