Friday, January 29, 2016

Five on Friday: Pandora

I love Pandora radio! If you don't know what it is - it's a music streaming app that allows you to pick from different categories of what you want to listen to, and then you can give things a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down"...which will help to make stations specific to your likes. I listen to Pandora in many settings. On my iphone with headphones if I'm going for a walk. I listen to it from my computer when I'm working or crafting. I listen to it from through my iphone on speakers in my kitchen when I'm cooking or cleaning. And sometimes I even stream it through bluetooth through the speakers in my car when I'm driving (even though I have satellite radio which is similar). I'm not sure if everyone gets it everywhere and even around other countries? I'd love to know - so let me know if you know about or get Pandora friends. And if you do what are some of your favorite stations? But today I thought I'd share some of my favorites.


I often listen to Nature Radio on Pandora. This is music like you'd hear at a spa. Pretty classical or new age kind of music - but mixed with sounds from nature (like birds singing, or a fountain of water flowing...). I also put under this category stations like classical (like classical guitar station, or just straight classical music). I also love the Joshua Bell station (he's a wonderful violinist  - he played the music in the movie Ladies in Lavender). I like to listen to stations like these as a backdrop to reading, crafting, blogging etc. It's nice to have soothing music playing, that doesn't have many words, when I'm trying to focus or concentrate on something. Do you see the thumbs at the bottom of the photo?  That's where you'd click on either thumbs up or thumbs down and Pandora will keep track and it helps to make the station more specific to your likes and not play your dislikes again.


I love the 80's pop radio station! I'm a child of the 80's so I grew up as a child and teenager listening to these songs. They bring back so many memories. But also they're a lot of fun and many of them very upbeat, so I often use this station to workout on my treadmill. And also many times when I'm cleaning - basically when I want something to put a "pep in my step" in some way. Lol 


I love Celtic music. It's definitely in my blood, as I have a Celtic heritage (relatives that came from Ireland and Wales). I love listening to Celtic Thunder station, Celtic Women station and Enya. I was fortunate to see both the Celtic Women and Celtic Thunder live - and their shows were amazing!!  I also love Keith Harkin station (used to be in Celtic Thunder but now has solo career). These stations are also,at times, my backdrop when I work or craft. And I especially love listening to this music when I go for walks, or am out in nature, gardening etc. 


I also love the Praise and Worship station. I listen to this often and at many different times. When I'm journaling and doing my devotional, but also as a backdrop when I'm working, or sometimes in the car etc. It's music that always gives me a lift and touches my soul. I especially love John Michael Talbot and listen to his station often as well. I grew up listening to him as my Mom loved him and had his albums. Other artists I love here include Michael W. Smith station and Amy Grant worship station.


I also love stations like Harry Connick Jr. station, Michael Buble station and the Josh Groban station. More current kind of "crooner" singers. However, I also often listen to the older crooners like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. There is something I love about that music when I'm in the kitchen and cooking.  When I'm maybe sipping a glass of wine and cooking at the stove - this kind of music just needs to be my backdrop. Maybe I've watched too many movies. Lol!! ;) 

*** I also need share a bonus station:

I wanted to share the comedian stations with you as well. I don't listen to them often - but you can pick comedians you like and stream snippets of their stand up. I like Jim Gaffigan as I find him funny, and he's more of a clean comedian. My hubby and I will often stream this through bluetooth in the car and it helps a long hockey trip go by faster. However, you need to use your likes and dislikes on this as many comedians swear or do inappropriate you need to make it specific to what you want. Often times we may listen when we know our kiddos are plugged into their own headphones in the backseat and not listening to us anyway. ;)

Happy weekend to All! I'm linking with Amy from Love Made My Home for Five on Friday.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Black Forest Brownies

I love sharing a recipe on Thursdays. And today I thought I'd share these brownies as it'd be a great recipe to keep for Valentine's Day, which is fast approaching!

I had an already opened package of cherry chips I wanted to use up. I often keep my leftover chocolate chips and such in the fridge, once they're opened, to keep them longer.  On the back of the package I found this recipe for these well as a boiled frosting recipe to go with them - perfect!

Action shot!

I blended all the ingredients right in my mixer.

I halved the recipe, as I didn't want to make a big pan - so I just did mine in an 8x8. Dangerous to have a big pan of treats around! Lol  Once everything was mixed well - I added the cherry chips. I left out the walnuts, as my kiddos don't care for nuts in their dessert.

I poured the thick chocolatey batter in the prepared pan.

Then I baked it at 350* until it was pulling from the edges and done in the middle. I then left them alone (I promise) and let them cool.

I then made the boiled frosting on the stove. It could not have been easier, but forgot to get pics of doing it. I then poured the hot frosting on the cooled brownies and spread it all over.  Doesn't that just look rich and delish??

I then had to taste test one, as I was bringing some to my in-law's for their after dinner dessert. One wants to make sure these things are good enough to share, right?  The rough life of a baker. ;) 

Here's the recipe right off of the package - including the frosting right below it.  Let me know if you have trouble reading it. The package wouldn't cooperate. In the frosting it says to add 1&1/2 cups sugar - I think that's the only part too wrinkled to read.

Now if you feel the same way about your family - go make these brownies for them today...or as a nice treat for Valentine's Day!  After all, food is love in my book!! 

I'm sharing this for Home Sweet Home with Sherry of The Charm of Home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday Wonder


**images from my instagram - if you want to follow me, you can find me at carriebgroup

Monday, January 25, 2016

Happy Homemaker Monday

Hello Everyone! Hope you had a wonderful weekend and are ready to tackle another Monday.  

It was another weekend that involved some hockey for both of my kiddos. We also accomplished some good housework around here and I took down even more of the last holiday kinds of decorations. So that felt productive.

Unfortunately, my FIL had a hard time with my MIL during one part of the weekend, and it's really becoming clear she's starting to enter the next stage of things. A few more behavior issues and even some depression issues. Working with her MD on some meds and also had a good sit down with my FIL and talked about some better options for my MIL, which will probably include some private care in their that is the environment she is most comfortable and does the best. It's so hard to watch her decline and it's so sad and my heart aches for my FIL and my Hubby (one of her sons). Such an awful disease!! All prayers are welcome that we can find a more comfortable plan for her next stage.  Thanks so much - now on to the week ahead.


It's been much warmer here lately (20's and 30's), but of course now that means snow. It's snowing a very pretty snow right now and we're expected to get anywhere from 2 to 5 inches by tomorrow. Just another day in my northwoods. ;) 


Some green tea and some toast.


A very pretty soft, but steady snow falling. The sky is gray and everything looks gray and white right now except the evergreen trees. 


Listening to some Celtic music on Pandora while I work on this. I have my diffuser going with some relaxing lavender going again today. Hoping it will be calming for my MIL when she comes soon.


Just a few dishes and some laundry.


I'll have my MIL to care for soon and will make us both some lunch in a while. I think I'll pull out some of her old photo albums today. We haven't looked through them in quite a while and she has usually enjoyed looking through them and talking about the past.  Then maybe we'll head out in the snow later and play with a Ruby a bit. It's going to stay warmer and my MIL might find that really fun for a change. Maybe go out and run an errand before bringing her home, as she often gets more restless now.


I have some magazines and newspapers catch up! 


No Good Wife this week. I have Downton Abbey and some cooking shows taped. I want to look into a few new fun looking series that Sandra (Diary of a Stay at Home Mom blog) showed on her blog last week. So many good looking ones out there right now.


MONDAY: leftover sweet & sour meatballs over rice from the weekend

TUESDAY: going to use up the leftover peppers & onion from the s&s meatballs to make eggs with sausage and veggies on english muffins.

WEDNESDAY: hockey/religious ed night so again something fast & simple - salad night or sandwiches

THURSDAY:teriyaki pork loin roast with roasted veggies

FRIDAY:not sure yet - maybe a pasta kind of dinner with salad


Valentine's cards, scrapbook organization


nothing really new this week - however maybe make  a new dessert (a cobbler)


I often times get away with not washing my hair everyday. I will shower daily, but just put my hair up (so only washing my hair every other day). I believe this is better for my hair and it's natural oils. Not to mention how dry things get around here as it is this time of year. I will then use a dry shampoo - or spray and they tend to work well to revitalize my hair on day 2. What also works well at times is using some lavender baby powder (corn starch kind) which I always keep on hand.


Ruby continues to be my sweet side kick on this journey of caring for my MIL. She brings such joy and calm to her (& me!) 


I'm linking with Sandra from Diary of a SAHM for Happy Homemaker Monday.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Scraptastic Saturday: A Sweet Valentine

Happy Weekend to All! 

 It's been a while since I've posted on a Saturday. But since I've been feeling better I've been getting back to work in my craft space. Cupid struck and I recently made this sweet little Valentine card and wanted to share.

I've been working on my office/craft space and going through the clutter and getting things more organized. I found some treasures I forgot I had- including some sweet yellow velvet ribbon and some pretty delicate pearl stickers. So that equaled a valentine in my mind...seeing as the timing is about right too. ;) 

I have some pretty blank cards and I love embellishing them. This one has such a pretty backdrop with romantic roses that have musical paper and french words all over them. I then added some yellow card stock I cut out with decorative shears. Then I glued on some yellow velvet ribbon (to bring out some of the yellow roses) and also added some dainty pearls along the edge. Then i found some white fabric letter stickers and added my message.

And of course one needs an embellished envelope to go with the card. Can't send your sweetheart just any 'ol envelope. This one has a "love birds" sticker (in case he needs reminding). And more yellow cut card stock and some wee delicate pearls up in the corner. Perfectly sweet!

A pretty and romantic little set, don't ya think?

I had fun making a valentine last year too. But that one I put in an old frame I had laying around and used it as a decoration. You can see that post here.

And of course a little "candlelight" makes any occasion a little more romantic.  It's fun to make that certain someone feel extra special.

And after all, who doesn't want to hear these words on Valentine's Day?

I'm linking with Andrea from Scrapality for Scraptastic Saturday.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Five on Friday: This & That

I was out and about for most of today, but thought I'd still link up for Five on Friday - so I'm just going to share a bit of this and that. 


My diffuser even has a nightlight - nice for night time, especially if I put it in my daughter's room for a while.

I know that essential oils have been big in the past few years, and I'm a little late to the party, but I've been loving them lately! A couple of friends of mine (& they are fellow hockey mom's) have been very into them lately and sharing lots of fun info and products with me. I finally bought some of my own and have been having fun learning about them! One thing I'm doing regularly is running my diffuser.  It's been nice for adding extra moisture to the dry air, but also for picking out what oils I want to use for different properties. I've lately been into lavender for relaxation. Today I have a lavender and lemon oil mix going. So soothing. I've also been adding some essential oils to my water or tea. Peppermint oil has been great for headaches! Just dab some on the temples. I'm looking into making my own soaps, lotion, lip balm, -even deodorant! Love the idea of being so much more natural.


I've been slowly going through my office/craft room again and getting things organized. I have several projects I want to work on - but difficult without adequate room due to clutter! Plus, it's so fun to find the treasures I run into because of forgetting what I have sometimes! Lol!!


Ruby continues to be such a bright spot in my day. Tug-of-war is her favorite game by the way. ;)  But not only is she fun for me, but my MIL just adores her and Ruby is some of the best therapy she can get! 


Annie had fun brushing and braiding my hair the other night. Is there anything more blissful than someone brushing and playing with your hair? ::sigh:: Pure heaven!  I've been looking at different styles on pinterest and thinking about giving my hair a bit of a chop this Spring!! I haven't had my hair shorter in quite a while - so I'm not positive yet. Here's a few styles I've pinned:

15 New Layered Long Bob Hairstyles | Bob Hairstyles 2015 - Short Hairstyles for Women:

fine hair styles | Hairstyles For Fine Hair Top Mid - Free Download Medium Bob Hairstyles ...:

15 Choppy Bob Cuts | Bob Hairstyles 2015 - Short Hairstyles for Women:

I don't know - it will be a BIG change if I go for it. We'll see!


I've been thinking on some new Valentine's Day treats and crafts for fun. Here's a few things from my blog last year. You can find the post for the valentine's bars here.  And the post for the valentine bunting here.

Have a wonderful weekend! I'm linking with Amy of Love Made My Home for Five on Friday.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Pork Chops

This was a dish I made a few weeks ago that was a big hit! My in-law's loved them too, as I made them on a night I was bringing them dinner too. It was a recipe out of Fix It and Forget It magazine that had their "best recipes of 2015" in it. This dish was very tasty and the pork chops were nice and tender. I even used boneless and they were so good! This would be good with a homemade sauce or your favorite store bought bottle of sweet and sour sauce. The one thing I also added was I garnished the dish with cashews. When I make stir-fry, or other Asian inspired dishes, I often sprinkle on some cashews as we like the flavor and the crunch they add. As you can see I wrote what I thought of this one right in the book! Lol:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Paper Weave Summer Scrapbook Layout

Hi Friends!

Well, if any of you folks that don't live in the northern regions of the world wonder how we do it - here's a few tips.  We take extra vitamin D. We look at gardening books and gaze at cookbooks with summer recipes to dream on in the future. We make summer inspired meals and grill indoors for a fun night. We take trips somewhere WARM! We watch the garden shows with products on QVC. And we craft and scrapbook summer ideas and layouts.  

Okay, maybe not everyone handles it this way....but I think a lot of us northerners at least do some of these things. Summer always seems so far away even as we get close to February. Our winters can start to feel endlessly long, so we do what we must to survive! Lol  Don't get me wrong. I love my northwoods and wouldn't live anywhere else (at least not full time). ;) I was looking through some older scrapbooks and layouts when I was working on some organization in my office the other day. I thought this one was a fun one and wanted to share. 

It's from a reunion obviously many years ago now. I love the fun summer colors and the photos of fun reunion activities like croquet.

But I thought what was really fun to share - was this weave pattern I did with the paper strips I had cut out. I cut them out with a 12x12 cutter that I have that will cut straight - or a wave pattern like this. Then I did an overlapping weave pattern at the bottom in the corner (alternating weaving the paper over and under). It adds a little more visual interest than just having the papers be straight.

Then on the 2nd page of the layout I added straight strips of paper on the right side, in the same colors as the left side page. I found this cute lawn chair sticker with bright colors that matched too - and fit perfect with my family reunion theme. Such fun! That's my favorite part of scrapbooking. Finding fun stickers and choosing the color and design I want to use to fit that layout. 

No matter what part of the world you're in - sending you warm thoughts!