Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tips on Traveling

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page"
-Saint Augustine

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart"

Moving as frequently as we have makes it necessary at times to travel back to see family and friends. The twist in our journey is we choose to take our five dogs along for the ride. Not always an easy journey and it can add time to an already long trip. Now that we have moved further away, this trip we took back home this weekend was a challenge driving with them. Although I say "home", at this stage in my life I'm not sure where exactly that definition of home falls. We've set up home many places but never seem to stay....nomads perhaps? Only time will tell. :-)

"If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all"
-Dan Rather

First things first when preparing for travel, a plan! Start by getting the suitcases ready and then I make a list of items I need to pack. Being the mom in the family, I always make sure everyone has what they need. Always a good idea to pack some extra clothes past the days planned to stay just in case.  This just happens to be Jerry's suitcase which is considerably smaller than ours. ;-)

Next I usually get my suitcase together with clothes, shoes, socks, etc. It's a good idea to pack shoes in the zippered portion of the top of suitcase, either inside or if large enough the pockets on the outside. I make sure to pack a large trash bag for the dirty clothes to bring home one or two bags per family member.

                   "Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience"
                                                                          -Francis Bacon

I still love packing the girl's bags and including notes and special surprises! Like this weekend putting a new book in her bag with a note about us reading it together. Always makes her eyes light up with joy to find different items hidden throughout her bags. Of course she is still at an age where traveling with her stuffed kitty and her blanket is a must! They take top priority in the van seat with her.

Hayley being 13 packs her own bags now, and is quite a lover of fashion so narrowing down her bags is a chore at times, lol. Still like to sneak in a little note or treat for her as well.

Being a consultant with Thirty One, I have a variety of useful bags for traveling. I interchange bags all the time depending on what suits my needs. I love the new jewelry case in the fall line, it has nice bags for keeping necklaces, etc. in place. Then it zips up ready to go!

I pack a separate bag for toiletries and hairbrushes, hair dryers, makeup and first aid kit. It makes for easier access and you don't have to worry about anything spilling in your suitcase.

"You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world"  -William Hazlitt

As mentioned, we are a family that travels with our 5 dogs, so a car top is crucial for fitting in all our needs. It's where most of the suitcases go. We lay the seat down in the back and we have a large durable cover (made for dogs) that we attach to the back area. Some of our dogs travel in crates and the others are secured by leashes/belts so they do not get harmed during our travels should we have an accident. We bring their food and water bowls, treats, dog beds, collars, rabies information along with our vet's phone number. On long rides we stop to let them stretch their legs and get some water as they can become dehydrated. Usually we hold off on food because our dogs tend to get car sick. Most of the time they are too excited to eat anyway. I also always carry plastic bags, paper towels, Clorox wipes and cleaner just in case.

Another thing I carry in the car is Windex in case we have any issues with the windshields.

I attached these organizers (also from Thirty One) on the back of mine and Jerry's seats. I also make sure to attach a trash bag to hang down on each one for the girl's as we travel. Behind the organizers as you can see in this picture is a blanket that unrolls and a thermal tote (both from Thirty One) I have found that the girls enjoy curling up with their blankets at times during the ride. Also we may stop for food or drinks along the way and may need the thermal tote to keep things cool. Since Thirty One products fold down, they are super easy for storing and saving space. :-)

I make sure the girls always have a water bottle, wet wipes for their hands, snacks, drawing items, head sets, movies, chargers for all their devices and more. Having this on the seat makes everything easy for them to reach. In this picture I was not finished completely packing yet.

One of the most important things for a long journey and to save money is to pack a snack bag for everyone in the car to share. This mini utility tote from Thirty One is the perfect size and it fits nicely on the console between the seats. Everything is easily accessible and has nice pockets on the outside too for gum, candies, waters, etc.

Did I mention water??.... Lol, so important for hydration! Also a good idea during long travels is to get out and walk around when you can. Not good on the body to start cooped up and inactive too long. Plus if you're drinking water like you should, you're going to need a few pit stops along the way! ;-)

The girls take turns holding the dogs during the ride, the dogs are quite used to our journeys and settle down really well. Kathleen enjoys her Ipad while traveling, but we also have a TV in the car so they can watch movies. She also reads and crafts during the ride.

"Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs"  -Susan Sontag

I love taking pictures and documenting the different stages and adventures in our lives. Pictures are stories and memories of good and bad times. I have always said if given the opportunity to save something MATERIAL during a fire....I would grab my albums and photos. I can't imagine losing those memories as ours can fade over time mentally. I love how my girls have sat in a big comfy chair and flipped through my scrapbooks reminiscing over great times.

One of my favorite online sites for ordering my prints and photo books to document our journeys is Shutterfly. Always fast, dependable service, great pictures and my photos are safely saved in their database at no extra charge. Their new app makes it easy to upload from my phone to order prints no matter where I may be. A true gift for a traveling family :-)!

This little turtle has a story.... Kathleen thinks he resembles Jerry so she bought it for me to keep on my dashboard when I drive. Lol, I have to admit he makes me smile each time I get in the car and see him! On this drive he happened to come in handy for holding the phone so we could use the GPS navigator. Which leads me to another must to have on a long ride. Either a regular GPS, or one on your phone. I absolutely love the Waze app and it is great to reroute during accidents, construction etc. I use it quite frequently, even around town as I am learning new areas. I was able to capture some of the pretty fall leaves along the way :-)

Kathleen amazes me with her Rainbow Loom, she can whip up a masterpiece anywhere we go!

Hayley enjoys listening to her music, texting and checking her Instagram! I wish I could read while driving but I get too nauseated. :-( So I listen to music, talk with Jerry and the girls and take pictures and enjoy the sites around me. O.k., I admit it....sometimes I may nap.... since Jerry gets car sick he insists on driving as it doesn't make him feel as bad as being in the passenger seat.

Another good tip for traveling is to remember to start with a full tank of gas, check tire pressure and fluids in the vehicle to be sure you are set for your journey. This past trip we were stuck in traffic from an accident for 2 1/2 hours and I was very thankful we had filled up prior to leaving! Made for a long trip!! We always keep toilet paper and a bucket in the car too, especially having little ones as you never know when it may come in handy on long stretches with no places to stop.... Haven't had to resort to that yet, but good to have the option there.

Of course long rides require a bit of sleeping along the way for the girls and the dogs. :-)

Sometimes the miles and the journey feel endless.... It allows time for thoughts and reflections... How all our moves to provide for our family have opened us up to so many new experiences. I tell the girls all the time how blessed they are to experience so many things in their lives and to travel to new places.

"If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success"  -John D. Rockefeller

"I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it"   -Rosalia de Castro

And at long last we come full circle on our journey.....back to our new home state of Ohio.

"The best education I have ever received was through travel"  -Lisa Ling

Hope you enjoyed a little insight to our travels and found some tips to help you on your journey in a long car ride. :-) Even if you are unable to travel far, just taking your kids out to explore local museums, parks and more will definitely enrich their lives!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Banana pudding bread and more

It is an incredibly foggy, eerie like day here today. Had to take a few photos of how thick the fog is.

Always a concern when the girls have an hour long bus ride in the mornings. Luckily the bus has a bright flashing light to help. Creepy looking around though.....

The highlight of this morning was how adorable Kathleen looked on her way to school today! She wore her golf outfit she picked out to go golfing in with her daddy. :-) She definitely brightened my day.

So in contrast to today's photos, I have started taking pictures of the pretty sunrises and the slightest changes in the trees and landscape as fall approaches. We have still been picking quite a few raspberries off our bushes and so thankful as we have seen how expensive they are in the grocery store.

The house you see is our neighbors, the only one we have near us.

Kathleen's long walk to the bus stop, Cooper always walks down with us :-)

Beautiful sunrise in the morning.

It takes a family to pick all these raspberries, lol! But so worth it! I'm freezing them so we can enjoy them through the winter.

I love how I was able to capture this mist over the hillside one morning...

Jerry has an interesting way of cutting grass. He had us cracking up laughing because he was singing on the top of his lungs with his ear phones in to his music and it was echoing all over! Gotta love him..he certainly keeps life interesting :-)

Have to share this funny picture....we were in a mall the other day and you can take a train ride through the whole mall. We convinced Hayley to ride with Kathleen and you know how "fun" that is for a teenager, lol. So Jerry had to embarrass Hayley a little more by running down behind the train and waving to them and calling out "bye, have fun!...." He followed them quite awhile...poor Hayley! LOL. Kathleen however thought it was great.

Another funny to share, the other day as I went to make lunches and I came upon this slice of pizza Kathleen put in the fridge. I was laughing so hard! If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram you've already seen it, but I have to document this memory. ;-)

She cracks me up.... some of the things she comes up with. Hayley was funny, she said "you think that will stop me from eating it?" lol. Needless to say the pizza remained Kathleen's!

Elvis is enjoying all his special spots still in the house. My next life I need to come back as one of my pets. :-)

Three of our dogs, Skippy, Bella and Owen got groomed but of course wouldn't let me get a good picture of them. They are wearing Halloween bows :-)

Grooming is a good thing, especially when sleeping in the bed with Kathleen!!! ;-)

Ok now to share this delicious banana pudding cake recipe I found. So absolutely incredible and one of Jerry's new favorites. Well ok we all like it too.... and I've been making it for our guests as well. :) In our new house I have a gas stove and I must say I love cooking with it over electric! Everything cooks so much nicer.

Banana Pudding Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
2 T. water
1 cup sour cream
2 medium bananas mashed
1/2 cup oil

Put all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl often. Beat 2 minutes on medium high speed. Do not over mix. Pour in a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then turn out and cool completely. Enjoy!!!

      "It is critical that we learn to recognize when we have enough. If we are not careful, we will begin to chase after the temporal more than the spiritual"      ---John U. Teh


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Family, yard pictures and a fall soup

We enjoyed another weekend of company when my sister-in-law and her family came to visit us.
The boys have grown quite a bit since the last time we saw them. I think Jerry was feeling a little short in this picture ;-)

The girls had a blast spending time with their cousins they don't get to see very often. We enjoyed spending time around the house as Jerry and I have been battling a bad cold virus.

It was a gorgeous fall day and it was nice to sit outside and enjoy the breeze.

The boys enjoyed picking a bunch of raspberries and we froze them and sent them home with bagfuls. We also had a lot of fresh pears we sent home with them as well.

We even have some juicy plums growing in our delicious right off the tree!

Still some lovely flowers blooming around the yard as we walk around.

Even spiders are still enjoying the weather.... as long as they are outside....I'm good! LOL!!

Flowers on my porch are still blooming nicely.

After all the beauty on Saturday, we had some clouds roll in with wind and rain on Sunday.....

Today was a bit chilly and called for a warm jacket at the bus stop for Miss Kathleen :-)

She left me this awesome note on the table when she left for school. I just love these moments as a mom....truly make my day! Kit Kat was the nickname her friends at her old school gave her.

As I walked back to the house after she got on the bus, I just took in the stillness and beauty of the day and the slight fall changes as the trees begin to lose leaves and change colors.....

Jerry finally got the flag pole put up he has always wanted, and it turned out really nice. Was a beautiful day to see the flag blowing in the wind this morning.

Was also the perfect fall day to make cheeseburger soup in the slow cooker. This is one of my girl's favorite meals.


Cooking spray
1 garlic clove minced
1 medium onion chopped
1 rib celery chopped
1 lb ground turkey (or beef)
2 Tbsp flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup evaporated milk
8 oz low fat cheddar cheese cubed
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 salt
pepper to taste
tortilla chips

Using cooking spray, cook onions, garlic and celery until tender.

Spray cooking spray into bottom of crock pot. Spoon in the vegetables.

Then cook the meat, drain and add to crock pot.

In small cup combine flour and 1/2 cup broth, stir until lump free. Pour flour mixture into skillet with 2 1/2 cups broth and simmer. Pour in slow cooker stir in evaporated milk, cheese, paprika, salt, pepper and cook 2 hours.

Add crushed or whole tortillas to soup to flavor and enjoy!!!

Of course I forgot to take an after picture.....and there were no leftovers..... time! :-)

Have a great evening!