What is One Appliance You Could Not do Without?

A little back story before we get started. . .

After selling Pampered Chef for many years I have a lot of kitchen gadgets but the ones that are getting the most use lately are not PC products. A little back story for ya. When I was growing up I had a real hard time choking down breakfast. I came from a family that truly believed breakfast was the most important meal of the day. My mom, besides being an awesome stay at home mom, sold vitamins on the side. This particular company had a protein shake mix that I loved and I started using that for breakfast. That all started when I was in the seventh grade, before that I did all I could to eat breakfast without puking. I have been using the protein shake/meal replacements ever since for breakfast.

Let’s talk kitchen gadgets. . .

The first item that is most loved and used at my house is the Nutri Bullet. (no, I am not being paid for any part of this post). Both my oldest son and myself use this little gem daily. I like a good fruit/protein smoothie and he likes a coffee/protein smoothie. I am on my second one of these because I sent the first one to college with Sprat. Recipes will be at the end of the post. Using some frozen fruit in my smoothie I really needed something that would pulverize the fruit to make a very smooth smoothie. Sprat makes his coffee smoothie with ice and instant coffee and protein powder. He needed something that would pulverize the ice. Having used many different traditional blenders or even those blender ball cups over the years I feel I am a pretty good judge of the Nuri Bullet and it wins hands down.

Who loves the soft pellet ice? ? ?

Is there anyone that does not love that soft pellet ice? I go to certain fast food places just for a drink because of that ice. You know what I am talking about. Since I have been working from home since the pandemic I have had my husband or the boys go and get me that “good” ice for my cup at home. Evidently they got tired of trecking out to find my “good” ice and they got me my very own, you guessed it, counter top soft pellet ice maker. We have had this little gem for about a year now and it is well used and loved. Sprat uses this ice for his coffee smoothie and let me tell you it is the best dog gone smoothie out there with no added sugar. Recipe to follow I promise.

How do you boil your eggs?

We got an Instant Pot almost three years ago. My boss raved over hers and how easy it was to use I decided I would try one out. Awesome appliance, you can do boiled eggs for deviled eggs in 6 minutes. Yes, I said 6 minutes. These eggs peel so easy, normally my eggs look like my dog peeled them. You can do corn on the cob in 2 minutes. You can do potato salad in your Instant Pot in 6 minutes by doing your potatoes and eggs at the same time. This is the recipe that sent me to WOW ! Almost anything you can do in a crock pot you can do in the Instant pot quicker.

Smoothie Recipes. . .

My fruit smoothie: pineapple (frozen or fresh), cherries frozen, 6 oz coconut water, thumb size piece of ginger, and 1/2 of a beet, and 1 scoop of protein powder. We use Vega protein powder (myvega.com), it is protein from plants. I blend all of this in my Nutri Bullet cup till smooth. Sprats Coffee smoothie, this is a recipe I adapted to my own from Pinterest. Dissolve 3 tsp instant coffee granules in 3/4 cup water, fill Nutri Bullet cup 1/2 way with the “good” ice, pour coffee mixture over the ice, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 2 tbs Hershey chocolate syrup, 1/2 cup milk (latte smoothie), 1-2 scoops of protein powder and blend. To make the coffee smoothie a little more decadent you could use heavy cream or half and half instead of milk.

Drink Recipes. . .

Since I have been cutting back on calories and not using caffeine I have become quite creative in my drink choices. The most recent combination I have been using is 2 oz grape juice and 6 oz diet ginger ale and a splash of lime juice. I have cut my Dr Pepper out almost completely. I still like the bubbles so I use the diet ginger ale. You can substitute cranberry juice for the grape juice if you like, I use both it just depends on what I have in the fridge. Of course this is poured over the “good” ice. When our cucumbers come in I add them to my water along with lemon and or lime slices and mint leaves from my herb bed. Nothing beats ice cold water with cucumber, lime/lemon, and mint.

Conclusion. . .

Please post in the comments your favorite kitchen appliance. Post any drink or smoothie recipes too. Always willing to try something new.

Love and the Empty Nest. . .

Since Big T has graduated high school several people have asked, how does it feel to be an empty nester? I was not quite sure how to respond to that since both boys will be back home. True, the hubbs and I will have a few months to ourselves but the boys will be back home. The one benefit of them going to school is our grocery bill will go down. The hubbs and I could live out of the garden with the occasional rice, couscous, or meat here and there.

What will we do . . .

When my sister asked what we were going to do now that we were empty nesters my husband said he was going to run around the house naked. LOL!! I guess things are going to get interesting at my house. The hubbs and I both still work, he is moving closer to retirement, so we will continue normal weekdays but lookout weekends. I would like to do some traveling, nothing out of the country but there are some places I would like to visit in the US. We both have talked about driving cross country, I could see us doing that. We are going to Massachusetts and I am looking forward to that.

Happy Graduation to Big T. . .

Big T and the Hubbs
Brothers

Stay tuned for what happens next in the empty nest. . .

Summer Excitement. . .

The boys are officially employed for the Summer. Yayyy!! I feel very accomplished. Add this to the lists of things Mom’s celebrate for their kids. Their first official day of work is this week and the hubbs and I will celebrate with the first quiet night/day at home by ourselves since the pandemic shut down and they both came home to stay!

It is the little things . . .

My post the other day was about all the things we Mom’s celebrate for our kids, this is another one of those. It is exciting to watch the boys out in the work force earning some money for themselves. I remember earning my first income, I remember the satisfaction of buying my own clothes and going out to eat with my friends and being able to pay for my own food. That is a little sappy but still very true. My hope for the boys is that they find that feeling of satisfaction of job well done, and let’s face it the money does not hurt.

Earning their own money. . .

It is important for the boys to have a paycheck so they can open their own IRA and start saving for their retirement. Yes, I said retirement. If you have read anything I post you know that I am a Dave Ramsey fan/follower. I do not want my kids to be in debt and I have preached Dave to them so much that neither of them have credit cards and I do not think they ever will. Thank you Dave Ramsey! Big T is majoring in business so he is all about earning and saving money and he knows about debt. Both boys save up their money for items they want to buy, bless poor Sprat he saved for almost a year to buy his own gaming computer. Sprat is trying to rebuild his savings so he will have money to spend at school this Fall.

Just another moment to Celebrate the Grad. . .

Dad and Big T
Brothers, teammates, and friends. . .

Big T’s graduation ceremony was great, I do believe it was the best I have attended. One of the teachers had created a story that included all the graduates names as characters. She told a Zombie story, which seemed fitting with the year the kiddos endured their Senior year. They surprised the kids with the gentleman that was the Principal their freshman year and who played an integral part in this STEM school getting off the ground and being so successful. These kids loved this guy and had so much respect for him and you knew it when he came on the stage. The other thing that was so cool about this graduation ceremony was they gave each graduate a framed $1 and they said they wanted to be the one to give them their first earned dollar. I am so glad that Big T did not attend a traditional high school, he would not be as prepared for college as he is if it were not for this school and these teachers.

High School Graduation, I am Not Ready!

According to my son graduation is no big deal. He is not impressed about graduation and does not see what all the fuss and muss is about. I explained to him that mothers celebrate all accomplishments. I reminded him that I celebrated the first time he went pee pee in the potty and then again when he went poo poo in the potty oh and then again when he could wipe his own backside. That grossed him out just a bit but, we did celebrate.

What else do we Mom’s celebrate???

Mom’s celebrate everything: first teeth, first time rolling over, first steps, first time sitting up right, first words, first solid food, first girlfriend or boyfriend, first date, first time they drive, all first days of school. We celebrated Kindergarten graduation, Fifth grade graduation, and Eighth grade graduation. I did think those were a little bit over the top but High School graduation is a big deal it is that first big step to independence and true adulthood. It is the spring board for that journey we call life. No, I am not going to recite Prince lyrics but really high school graduation to me is the beginning of it all.

Big T does not want to go to his graduation, he refused to go to the Community College graduation ceremony and he says he is going to his High School ceremony for me. I guess I am making him go, but deep in my heart, I believe he will regret it if he does not go. This has been an ordeal and we may all be miserable during it but we are going.

I took about 25 pictures and only 3 came out decent. This is one of them.

Good luck to all the parents out there, what ever battle they are facing. We all have our issues with our kids. I love mine but they know how to press my nerves so well. Love and prayers to you all.

No Longer Mother to High Schoolers. . .

Feeling a little old this week, not because of a birthday or anything, just because my youngest is graduating high school. I am now the mother of two college students and that makes me feel old. When the boys were both in school and i was no longer the mother of preschoolers (MOPS) I was sad. Today I am thrilled!! Big T will be joining his brother in Massachusetts this Fall.

Very Excited for Big T

Big T received an academic scholarship and will be going to Massachusetts to complete his Bachelor of Science in business management and minor in music and playing lacrosse with his brother. I am so excited for Big T, I must toot his horn just a bit. He will be receiving his high school diploma in a few weeks as well as an Associates degree in business management from the community college. He was also inducted into Phi Theta Kappa honor society at the community college. This boy has it going on!!

Travel Mama. . .

I can not begin to explain how very happy I am that I will get to see my boys playing lacrosse together again. The hubby and I have plans to go see them play in person this next year if we can get around this whole COVID mess. We had a major weekend planned right when this all hit in April of last year. The plan was to go to Massachusetts to see Sprat play at his home field and then drive to Maine to watch him play. I was so excited, I have never been to Maine before and I was looking forward to watching my son play college lacrosse. Knew I would enjoy the scenery on the drive from Boston to Maine and I could not wait to try the food, the food, can I say that again the food! Have yet to try a lobster roll and I want one! My fingers are crossed that we will be able to make the trip next year for a couple of games.

Lots of work ahead of Big T. . .

Big T has his work cut out for him. He wants to major in business and minor in music. I have shared how he taught himself how to play the Ukulele during the shut down. He has also taught himself how to play the bass and the piano. I know I am the mama but he really is quite good to be self taught. He does love his heavy metal but he has learned at least one hymn on the piano that is beautiful.

Graduation Ahead. . .

The hubby and I were just talking about all the things we have to get for Big T for his dorm room this year. I posted after Sprat’s second year all the stuff we bought and did not need so I feel like I have a good grasp on what we have to pick up but it is still a lot. The school has provided him with a lap top the last four years so that is something he will have to purchase. I learned from Sprat that we will not be purchasing a printer since the college gives the kids access to printers all over campus. We will have to purchase another fridge for Big T’s dorm. He will also need a new book bag, sheets, pillows, laundry bag, shower caddy, towels, and anything else I can think of.

Quarantine and Garden Beds

Quarantine update first. . .

The oldest has been in quarantine two times since he went back to school in MA. The first time he had contact with someone that tested positive and this second time he had tested positive to COVID 19. It was killing this mama being more than fourteen hours away from my baby and him sick with this nasty virus. The only saving grace was his symptoms were very, very mild. I am even skeptical if he actually had the virus. He never ran a fever and his only symptom was a stuffy nose and a little head congestion and he did mention he could not taste his chocolate milk they gave him. A lack of taste is the only symptom that differs from North Carolina allergy symptoms and that lack of taste lasted only a day or two.

Garden Beds and dirt. . .

The hubby decided to build raised beds for our garden this year. He loved what he did with my cutting bed last year and how it turned out. The garden beds look similar but are a little deeper. Quarantine has really made my poor hubby nuts, he has not been able to actually go out and work, they have been working remote since March last year. To pass the time he has been building these beds and researching how to garden in raised beds. I should be happy, he could be surfing porn sites, instead he is surfing garden and planting sites. Oh, and he is not just surfing garden sites, he is an avid fisherman so he has been honing those skills too via the internet.

This is one of the long beds and there are 4 square beds and another long narrow bed.
These are asparagus roots that are going in one of the square beds
This is what the beds looked like before dirt.

What is he planting. . .

Asparagus are a tricky veggie to plant. You plant those ugly roots and you have to let them grow for two years before you can harvest them. That two years may be difficult, I really like asparagus but I promised I would not cut any until the right time. We have onions, sweet peas, cabbage, and broccoli already in the ground. I have planted some dill, spinach, and some chives by seed on our back porch. The hubby is trying his hand at starting celery by using old celery and he has started some tomatillo’s by seed in the window sill.

The Cut Flower Bed. . .

The cut bed wintered over very well. We planted some bulbs that are already breaking ground. I cannot wait to see and smell my beautiful and fragrant flowers. Just need to keep the bunnies out of it. I have spread dryer lint and hair from my hair brush around the bed to deter those voracious little guys. Keeping my fingers crossed because the bulbs are breaking ground and prove very promising.

These are some of my little sprouts from the cutting bed.

Stay Tuned. . .

Stay tuned for more garden updates and Mom advice. . .

No Cell Phones for the Kiddos

I took a lot of crap on this one. . .

A little back story; most if not all of Sprat’s friends got phones by the time they were in middle school, some even had them in elementary school. The hubby and I were of the mindset that phones are a need for adults not a toy for children. During this time I was a stay at home mom and the boys were either at school or with me. No reason for either of my boys to have a phone. There are some cases where I understand a child would need a phone to reach a parent if both parents worked and there could be transportation issues. Let us not forget how many kids went through the school system before there were phones and survived just fine. Even parents can fall in to the trap of peer pressure.

One of the main reasons my boys did not get a phone until it was a need. . .

Cell phones give people access to the internet and all sorts of communication. For adults cell phones are a necessary evil to be productive in their jobs. Children do not need that kind of unlimited access to the internet or their friends. Giving a child a cell phone is like inviting their bully from school into your home, the pedophile that was just released from prison or has not been caught yet into your home. Yes, I am being very serious there is so much out there that children should not have access and you cannot be there all the time to watch over that interaction. Kids are bullied every day in school, both of my boys were and you would not believe by who. If they had phones during that time those bullies would have had access to my boys at home where they should feel safe and secure.

Yes, adults/parents can fall victim to peer pressure. . .

Determined I would not fall victim to peer pressure with my boys. Sprat in fifth grade and Big T in third grade, Big T jumps in the car and reports Sally has an iPhone. I have changed the names to protect the overindulgent parents. LOL!! I simply replied Ok, and how was everyone’s day? I tried to gloss over that because I knew that would set Sprat off because all he could talk about was how he needed a phone. I always laughed and told them both a phone was not a need for a child. I have to ask why a third grader needs a phone and an iPhone to boot? It has to be peer pressure, no normal parent would say; hey, let’s spend $800 on a new phone for our special little third grader.

You would think my children were the most deprived. . .

To hear my oldest tell about his phoneless sophomore year of high school you would think we shoved bamboo shoots under his finger nails every night after dinner (liver and onions). By Sprat’s freshman year in high school all of his friends really did have phones, but many of them bought them with their own money. I have no problem with a kid that has a job buying a phone and paying for his service and phone himself . In fact, I thank that is awesome and kudos to the parents that have kids that are that industrious. Mine were not that industrious, Sprat thought his dad and I printed money in the basement.

The straw that broke the camels back . . .

When Big T was finishing up sixth grade my very sweet hubby was re-organized out of a job. Yep, two weeks shy of twenty-five years with the same company my sweet hubby was laid off. He looked for work and after six months with no luck I decided to look for something part time to help with insurance once his severance ran out. I found a great job that I could work part-time with insurance benefits. This was very exciting, but this meant that days I worked Big T would be riding the bus. The boys did not mind riding the bus, they had ridden it a couple of times before. The problem was that being part-time I could get called in at the drop of a hat. This meant that Big T’s transportation could change with very little notice.

Need to back track here just a bit, at this point Sprat has his license and yes a phone too (not an iPhone). Sprat got a flip phone not a smart phone for his first phone when he started driving. I do believe kids that are driving do need a phone for just in case. Now Big T a seventh grader is going to get a phone (not an iPhone). When Big T got a phone I broke down and Sprat did finally get a smart phone. Let all the horrible mama talk begin. . .

In Conclusion. . .

I have laid it all out here, you must in the end make the decision that best fits you and your child. Just remember once you open Pandora’s Box you cannot close it.

A Little More Advice for Mom’s

These are few things I wish I had done sooner. . .

I found this on Pinterest many years ago. You can find neat things to do with and for your kids on Pinterest. You write your child letters and enclose money in each letter, not a lot of money a five, a twenty, whatever you have extra. According to Pinterest you are supposed to write one letter each year and give them to your child at their high school graduation.

Did not find this one until the boys were older, so I wrote to the boys more frequently throughout the years. Sprat got his letters when we left him at school his freshman year in college. I did give him direction on opening them, he was told he could only open one a month. When he realized there was money in them I was afraid he would tear through them and not really read what I had written. My goal here was to give my child something that I had written in my own hand that told him how much he was loved when he was growing up and how I felt when we argued and that no matter what his Dad and I were very proud of him. Let’s face it, teens do test their parents to the very end.

The picture is a little dark but those are Sprat’s letters in his hand as we get ready to leave him in Boston.

School teachers and your kids. . .

I saw this one on Pinterest too. I did not do this one personally but I thought it was neat and had I found it when the boys were younger I would have done it. Take one of your child’s favorite books and each year have their favorite teachers write a note to them in the book. Pinterest suggested books like Dr Seuss or the Berenstain Bears. When your kids graduate high school they have a book full of positive notes from their favorite teachers throughout their school years.

A little garden stone. . .

Throughout your child’s school career they will make hand print turkeys, footprint I love you notes, and cut out hearts with their pictures for mom. Hobby Lobby and other shops of that nature sell make your own stepping or garden stones. We purchased two when we moved to our new house in 2006 and the boys created their very own stones to put in our flower bed. These stones still adorn our front flower bed today. They have their hand prints and some shards of glass and the date they were joyfully created. I wish I had done a few more at different times I could have my own garden path made with their little hands and feet.

Big T’s stone, you just barely see his little hand print.

Pinterest is a neat little library of ideas. . .

Pinterest holds a wealth of information from everything to job searches to recipe ideas. I found many little things to do with my kids to enhance their education and expand their horizons. Check out my Pinterest boards for yourself. https://www.pinterest.com/pamperedpage