New Photo Friday!!!


OK. This one needs an explanation.  We went to the Ripley’s Believe it or not?  Museum on Tuesday.  This astounded us.  It is the Last Supper.  MADE OUT OF TOAST.  TOAST!!!  Hello?  Who thinks of these things???  It really was amazing.

Img_4757 Yesterday, we went to Legoland with Nana and Pop.  It was a blast!!

Img_4763 flowers for the princess




The last days of vacation…..


Ready for Fall….and a return to routine…


I am a creature of habit.  I really love routine and while this summer has been a great amount of fun, not so routine.  School is starting next week and I AM SOOOOO READY.  I cannot wait.  I have been busy starting to schedule my days.  A little bit, not too rigid.  But it helps me just like my menu plans help me to know what is coming when.  I am also going to come up with a few attainable goals for this fall.  One of them being lose 8 lbs.  I am also planning on another money fast.  Sooo, what are your plans for fall?  Here are some photos to enjoy of my kooky kids.

Img_4728 pals on a train


Cowboy Beans

I have fallen in love with a blog- for awhile now, thanks to CeeJay.. it is Ree at The Pioneer Woman.  This woman is really amazing- and she lives a life I would love to touch if only for a day or 3.  She has a cooking blog linked to her regular blog- GO RUN QUICK NOW and look at it and then come back.  I’ll wait.  Ok, amazing right??  So I made the Beans and Cornbread.  I have a few photos of the cooking portion- but as for a photo of the plated/eating…well, it happened so fast, there are none.  Thank you, Ree!!  This was a HUGE hit with my family!!

Here is the recipe:

Pioneer Woman Beans & Cornbread


4 cups pinto beans

4 slices thick bacon (can also use salt pork, OR ham hock, OR diced ham)

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Rinse beans with cool water, then pour into a pot and cover with water by 2 to 3 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for approximately two hours, or until beans are tender. If water level decreases too much during cooking, add water as necessary. Beans should have a thick broth. Toward end of cooking time, add salt and pepper and check for seasoning. Adjust seasoning before serving, but don’t oversalt. Can add chili powder, garlic, Tabasco if you’d like; but the beans are great with just salt and pepper. Serve in a bowl with cornbread. Can serve with small bowls of grated cheese, chopped onions, chopped fresh jalapenos, sour cream, and/or cilantro.


1 cup yellow corn meal

½ cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup milk

1 egg

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons shortening

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons shortening in an iron skillet, muffin pan, or other baking pan. Combine corn meal, flour, and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, milk, and egg and stir just to combine. Add baking powder and baking soda, stir, then add ¼ cup melted shortening, stirring constantly. Mix well, then pour into hot pan, evening out the surface with a spatula. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Cut into squares. Eat. Moan. Groan. Smile.


Pioneer Woman

and after you go see the AMAZING photos at Ree’s site, here are my goofy ones!

Img_4734 and so it begins…

Img_4736 beans

Img_4737 bacon

Img_4739 ready to cook

Img_4742 my "helpers" doing some crafts while Momma cooks.

Img_4744 boiling!!

Img_4746 All done- I added only salt and pepper. 

We ate it with the cornbread- YUMMY!!!  Jack and Katie ate 3 helpings.  Michael had 2 big ones.  Sammy ate one bean.  Oh well, can’t please them all.  Thanks again, Ree!!  I loved it.

Menu Plan Monday

T-1 week and counting till school starts.  I am really excited about this last week of summer.  We have beach plans, pool plans and even Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum plans.  There may even be a trip to Disneyland in the works.  So without further ado….our menu….



B: Smoothies, oatmeal muffins

L:  PB&J, pretzles, pluots

D:  Grilled turkey sausage, cowboy beans and cornbread


B:  Baked Oatmeal, milk

L: Mac n Cheese, fruit

D: leftovers


B: Pancakes, OJ

L: Turkey and Cheese, chips, melon

D: Chicken Spaghetti, salad


B: Yogurt, granola and berries

L: Taquitos, watermelon

D: Sandwiches and salad


B: Bagels with cream cheese

L:  Tuna sandwiches, pretzles


My newest obsession


On BBC America, there is this amazingly addictive show called How Clean is your House?  OH MY GOSH.  Can I just say how much I love this show?  These women are a KICK.  And the homes they clean….well….let’s just say YUCK.  And that doesn’t even cover it.  Kim, the blonde woman, will smell ANYTHING.  It CRACKS me up.  And Aggie is the bacteria specialist.  But they help these families learn HOW to clean.  It is amazing the transformation.  This also makes me feel better about my own house.  Go watch!! : )

So I just saw this…..

I have to say that Arthur is one of my favorite shows of all times…I will watch it even if the kids are not around.  So I was really excited to read this from Adoptive Families !!  I am setting my DVR!


Talk about adoption or watch wrestling? It’s a no-brainer for “Binky Barnes,” the lovably dim-witted character on Arthur, the long-running PBS cartoon, who finds out that his parents will be adopting a baby from China. He chooses wrestling, and his detached reaction caused concern for his parents—and this reviewer.

Much to my surprise, and delight, the concern was short-lived. The executive producer of Arthur, and his team, did everything right this time. The two episodes on adoption, airing this fall, “Big Brother Binky, Parts I and II,” get the facts right and, equally important, the words and emotions.

Once Mom and Dad explain adoption, Binky is as excited as they are. He joins them on the year-long adoption roller-coaster, and has his own moments of insecurity and jealousy. The boy’s beloved game room becomes his new sister’s bedroom; his mom sews a bai jia bei, a “quilt of 100 wishes,” which is a tradition in Northern China (and something he never had). And right before the big day, he needs the dreaded travel immunizations. “This baby better be worth it,” he mutters, expressing a common sentiment among older siblings-in-waiting.

“The conversations with Adoptive Families had us looking at adoption more carefully. We came up with a story line that felt true to the subject.”

The episodes are a must-watch. Executive producer Pierre Valette put two years of thought and research into these shows, talking to those in the PBS family who’ve adopted or who were adopted. To his credit, Valette also consulted adoption experts, to assure that the story line was both authentic and inoffensive, something that didn’t happen a few years ago. In that misstep, an Arthur episode titled “Dear Adil,” Arthur finds a box of his father’s childhood letters from a foreign penpal. As he reads them, D.W., his four-year-old sister, walks into the room. “Are those from your real parents?” she blurts.

At the time, PBS dismissed concerns from adoptive parents, saying they saw no problem with such a remark. After several discussions with the editors of Adoptive Families, however, Valette understood, and promised to make it right by treating adoption more thoughtfully in the future.

“The conversations with Adoptive Families definitely had us looking at adoption more carefully,” he said recently, in his office at WGBH in Boston. “We did a lot of research and came up with a story line that felt true to the subject and true to the characters, as well. Binky is kind of tough on the outside but very sensitive.”

After putting up with days, and nights, of baby Mei Lin’s crying, Binky cracks in Part II. The boy announces to his parents that his sister is not happy and wants to return to her real home. Scriptwriters to the rescue: “This is her real home,” say her parents. “When we adopted her, we became her family forever.” With Binky set straight, the family goes out for Chinese food, joined by Arthur and his family. Kate, Arthur’s little sister, engages in baby talk with Mei Lin, which, when translated, is a light-hearted venting session about their older brothers.

So we became Arthur fans forever. Thanks to Valette and his team for keeping it real.

“Big Brother Binky” will air on PBS stations nationwide in September.
Check your local listings.

SUSAN AVERY is an adoptive mother and the Kids Editor at New York magazine.

© 2007 WGBH / Cookie Jar Entertainment