Archives for May 2016

Summer Fun Friday

Oh, I love this post. I have Addie Jo Ryleigh here today to share what she does with the men of her life over the summer. Send me a birthday invite please Addie Jo. Thanks! I hope you guys enjoy this Summer fun filled Friday post. I think I may copy some of her ideas to entertain my own kids this vacation. Summer starts in five days for this house. Say a special prayer for me!

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For me summer is not marked by the change in weather or the official turn of the season on the calendar. Instead, summer starts when my kids are released from school and goes until it resumes in the fall. And prepared or not, that was yesterday at 1:10PM.

And now the fun begins…entertaining my kids :o)

We try to pack as many things as possible into their three-month hiatus from school. Since my husband’s job keeps him busy and out of town for the majority of the summer months, it is usually the three boys and myself partaking in the fun. Here are just a few things that have become an annual tradition for us.

For this first one, we cheated and checked it off the list a few days before vacation started. In Minnesota the weather can turn quickly, so before it became unbearably hot and humid, we jumped at the chance to go to the drive-in theater in 70-degree weather. Mostly, I just wanted to go before the mosquitoes are thick enough to carry us away 😉

Next on the list, visiting a splash pad. My oldest is turning 10 this year *she gasps in horror* so this one might need to be phased out. While he still had fun last year, it is geared toward the younger crowd. However, I think we found something to replace it with. We visited our first hotel/waterpark in March and given the endless hours they spent playing, it was a hit with all the boys. My youngest keeps asking when we can go back…or I guess it could be classified as “demanding” we return.

We also have a local Summer Collegiate Baseball team we like to see play at least once (more if possible). Go Rox!! With the boys joining hockey recently, they decided not to participate in summer baseball so this will have to be our baseball fix. There is something about visiting a baseball park that screams summer. Maybe we can squeeze in a St. Paul Saints or Minnesota Twins game this year.

There are several great zoos in Minnesota and we visit at least one, sometimes two. With the boys being older, they’ve been wanting to step outside of the state so I’ve looked into a couple zoos in either North or South Dakota. Looks like we are going to be adding some miles on the van.

Living in the land of 10,000 lakes and with my three little men hooked on fishing, swimming lessons is a must and something I find easier to do when not attempting to fit it between my work schedule and school. So we set aside some time in the summer to brush up their swimming skills.

One of the highlights the boys look forward to is the big birthday bash we do at the end of July. My oldest two have birthdays only six days apart so we have one big celebration. There is usually a giant water slide, fried fish, fried onions and potatoes, and pizza for us non-fish eaters 😉 Last year I added Nerf guns for all the kids who attended. They boys want to add water balloons this year *she cringes at the thought of popped water balloons decorating the lawn and the puppy thinking they are fun doggie treats*

With my husband out of town, we also plan a few trips to where he is working and visit him at the hotel for the night. Which, for the boys, is a mini-vacation filled with pizza and swimming…and a chance to see dad.

While the summer always seems to be popping at the seams with things to do before it is time for back-to-school supply shopping, it gives me the opportunity to make priceless memories with my three favorite little men <3 I’m always sad when summer turns into fall and school beckons…probably because school activities bring on a whole new craziness.

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Bio

Addie Jo Ryleigh writes historical regency romances that feature rakish heroes and strong feisty heroines. Addie Jo lives in the same cold winter and hot summer area of Minnesota where she was born and raised. And frankly, wouldn’t live anywhere else. Sharing in the raising of her three extremely rambunctious boys is her very understanding husband that so graciously enabled her to fulfill her dream of writing. Keeping Addie Jo company while she writes (besides her wonderfully loud children) is her yorkipoo, Bella, who is never far from Addie Jo’s side.

Addie Jo has always had a love and passion for romance books and became engrossed in historical romance (particularly Regency) soon after graduating from Lurlene McDaniel’s young adult books. Currently, Addie Jo reads any genre that has a great emotional story that keeps her reading into the early hours of the morning.

Addie Jo has a bachelor degree in accounting and is a financial coordinator when not driving her children around central Minnesota, cuddled up with a good book, or writing her next story.

TheRunnersEnticemenet (lrg)-2

Erin Bevan

How Adults Really Feel.

Crystal Firsdon is visiting today. She’s writing about all the fun things we love as kids, but are maybe, not so fun as adults! Have a great Friday, y’all, and go find a parade this weekend!

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My kid brain versus my adult brain

I was going to write about fun things I loved as a kid, but my adult mind wouldn’t let me! My brain kept veering to the practical side of these things that were once fun, but are now “fun.” I honestly couldn’t stop getting sarcastic with myself. So here’s my list of fun things I loved as a kid and how I tend to view these same things as an adult. (And I’m telling myself that other adults think this way too.)

The (now dreaded) grocery store:

Kid: Grocery stores are this wonderful place that sells so much candy and ice cream! Let’s go get some, every day.

Adult: Grocery stores suck. First I have to find a spot not already occupied by a cart someone was too lazy to put in the cart corral. You’re forced to shop among those that don’t understand the concept of NOT sitting your cart diagonally across the aisle while you step away, effectively blocking someone from passing you without having to speak up. And going on a weekend? Forget it. Way too crowded. Might run into someone I know.

 We should get a pool! I always wanted a pool as a kid!

Kid: Backyard pools are awesome summertime fun! Let’s go swimming!

Adult: You want to go swimming? Really, that’s great. Let me put on a swim suit—love that (not!)—and get in water that’s 10 degrees too cold for my liking to struggle to get the cover off while struggling to keep my hair dry so the chlorine doesn’t fry it. Oh, and don’t forget to jump in as soon as I get the cover out of the way but haven’t had time to climb out yet so I get splashed on the little dry skin I had managed not to submerge in the water.

 She with the most stickers, wins.

Kid: Stickers are awesome. There are so many pretty ones. Look how my stickers make everything look so much better!

Adult: Who in the @#!$ put stickers on the [insert inappropriate place to put a sticker, like on the dishwasher, or wall]? Where’s the Goof Off? We don’t have any? Great, now I have to go to the grocery store to get some.

I’m too old for stickers. I need much cooler pictures to represent myself.

Kid: Printers are so cool! I can find all these really neat pictures and print them all out to cover my bedroom walls. So colorful…

Adult: Why is the printer printing? I didn’t print anything.

(Ten minutes later) Is that… oh my god the printer is STILL PRINTING?! The ink is going to run out. I just spent $55 on ink a few weeks ago. “Whoever’s printing better stop!”

Free candy

Kid: Parades are the best… free candy! (And no dressing up in a costume.)

Adult: Parades are the best… free candy! (And no spending money on a costume.)

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Crystal is a former high school teacher turned stay-at-home mom turned part-time substitute teacher and school volunteer. She’s currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn to earn her Master of Arts in Education.

She loves the romance genre, and can’t decide whether it’s better to read it or write it. With a long background in physical fitness, she includes exercise in all her heroines’ lives. Lately, regular exercise is quite difficult, but hey, she’s trying.

She lives in Michigan with her husband and children where the weather makes it impossible for her naturally curly hair to behave most days. You’ll almost always catch her sporting a messy bun and several bobby pins.

Almost Ordinary

Erin Bevan

Dessert, anyone?

Boy this is a Fun Friday! It is for me anyway because I have guest author Annie Stiles on the site today, and she is speaking my language. Dessert!

I think me and this author are going to become the best of pen pals!

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Ah, at long last it is finally spring! The change of seasons always makes me think of…dessert.

I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like. This is not a statement to be made lightly, as you fellow sweet-toothed folks can attest. I firmly subscribe to the notion that there is a second stomach in my mid-section completely and solely dedicated to desserts. Other people chuckle at the axiom “there’s always room for dessert” and yet I find it to be no laughing matter. For me, it is more of a mission statement. If you are the kind of gal or guy that plans a meal in reverse, or hones in like a heat-seeking missile on the dessert menu before most people have gotten a napkin placed in their lap, well then, you are my people. And, you are just plain smart.

People often share a favorite recipe, but in this spring season of rebirth, renewal, and freshness, I’m going to share a recipe that I’ve been meaning to try. I’m making it this weekend and maybe you might like to try it in your kitchen. I’ve had it scribbled down on a piece of notebook paper for quite some time, and I confess that I put it together from a combination of recipes I read online, which is something I love to do. I have no idea if it will turn out well enough to earn a place in the regular dessert rotation at our house (oh, yes, there is a rotation), but that is half the fun. Spring is all about possibilities. It is quite possible that I will get around to repainting the kitchen. See? Ripe with possibilities. Ahem.

I love comfort foods. I love fancy foods. This recipe definitely falls into the former category. It really is easy as pie. Or crisp.

Strawberry-Apple Crisp

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Ingredients

Filling:

*                6 good-sized, firm apples peeled and sliced (I’m going to use Pink Lady or Jazz apples this weekend. Gala, Braeburn, etc., would be great, too. Granny Smith would cut the sweetness, if you prefer. Nothing too autumnal, so skip the Macs, Cortlands, Empires.)

*                2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (Yes, fresh. It will be zingier.)

*                1 ½ pints fresh strawberries, cut into quarters, tops removed

*                1-2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (I’ve been using white, whole-wheat flour for any hearty baking.)

*                2 Tbsp. white sugar

*                1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Topping:

*                1 cup chopped nuts (I’m going with pecans this time, but I will try walnuts next time. Research, you know, is very important in desserts. Lots of research.)

*                1 cup flour (All-purpose is fine; but give the white, whole-wheat variety a try.)

*                ½ cup dark brown sugar

*                2 Tbsp. white sugar

*                1/3 cup oatmeal

*                1 ½ tsp cinnamon

*                ½ cup cold butter, cubed or chunked into workable pieces

Preparation:

Filling:

Coat the apple slices and chunks of strawberries with the lemon juice. Set aside. Mix the vanilla, sugar, and flour together and then gently mix in your fruit so as not to turn the berries to mush. Set aside.

Topping:

Combine the flour, sugars, oatmeal, and cinnamon. Add the chopped nuts and stir. Work the butter into the mixture to get a crumbly, well-mixed topping with the butter the size of small peas. Pastry cutter, food processor – whatever works for you.

Butter the bottom and sides of a deep-dish pie pan. Pour in your fruit filling. Next, press and pack the topping on top of the fruit mixture. It will brown and melt and ooze down into the fruit, but also create a nice little crispy bonnet for all that fruity goodness.

Bake at 350 for about 40 to 45 minutes. Watch the top for over-browning.

I see this in big, generous bowls, eaten on a porch or deck with people you love, who will also tell you if it gets a grade of B instead of an A. Serve warm with ice cream. (And whipped cream.)

I’m planning to make this again later in the season with blueberries and raspberries in place of the strawberries. I’m going to try it without the oatmeal and just a bit more flour, for more of a caramel flavor. Then, I’m going to switch it up with peaches in place of the apples. I’ll do light brown sugar instead of the dark with the peaches. Peaches and blueberries, peaches and raspberries and, ooh, how about blackberries? I can see that I’m never going to get around to painting the kitchen. But, you know… research. Lots of research.

Happy Spring.

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A MATCH MADE IN HERITAGE VIEW_1800x2700

Annie Stiles was practically born with a book in her hand, but the writing came later. A daydreamer by nature, Annie always secretly wanted to be a romance novelist. It wasn’t until her youngest child started kindergarten that she buckled down and turned that dream into reality. She is fascinated by characters on the page and in real life, and talks with her hands so much that people have been known to duck.

When not on her laptop, she likes to putter in her garden. Annie lives in the beautiful Capital-Saratoga region of New York State with her college sweetheart husband and their two children. They are all owned by two cats.

Annie writes satisfying, character-driven contemporary romance. Rose-colored glasses are standard issue.

Erin Bevan