I don't know why, but I was determined to have B on two wheels before the day was over yesterday. We sat in bed in our PJs and watched YouTube videos of little kids learning to ride bikes all morning - one kid was only three years old and tackling a dirt bike course. After seeing that, I knew that my child could do the basics.
About three weeks ago, we took the training wheels and pedals off of his bike. I read online that if you can first get your child to balance and "glide" on the bike - adding in the pedals is easy. In the last three weeks since we took the pedals off of his bike, he has not gotten on it. Not once.
We made promises over the moon of things he'd receive if he learned to ride a bike on two wheels. He said he wanted "a new helmet that would cost one hundred and thirty five dollars" along with "lunch at Outback where you found a fly in your food last time". Oh, AND he wanted a motorcycle like his dad. Not a bike with a motor because that would be "hideous". You can't make this stuff up.
We all were up for the challenge. We had our hopes high, cameras charged and pedals in hand just in case he figured out how to glide. As we walked down to the tennis courts, I thought to myself "If he learns to ride this bike, this will be the beginning of his freedom and me worrying about where he is..."
On his first try, he glided down the hill with complete ease. Then he did it again, and again. After three times I said the hell with it and I put the pedals back on myself. And just like that, he got it. Something clicked and it was so natural for him. He didn't fall once, he just took off and never looked back - well, he did look back just to show us the huge smile on his face!
About 15 minutes after figuring it out, he yelled "Hey guys, watch this!". I was 100% sure he was going to show us how to apply the breaks to stop. Oh, no, who was I kidding?
A WHEELIE. My child is 4 years old, just learned to ride a bike, and he's already doing wheelies. I absolutely could not believe it. I was the PROUDEST MAMA EVER!
I know that for the health of my child (and my sanity), I need to get him outside playing, running, biking -- just MOVING -- every day. Sometimes we struggle on those days when it's rainy, or more recently, code red/orange with excessive heat and humidity. We decided to check out Adventure to Fitness
after they sent us some of their DVDs.
The program kept B engaged and moving for the entire 30 minutes as he ran through the jungle, climbed mountains, and was chased through a crocodile river. I even joined in on the fun and did it with him... and I was out of breath - ha! Who knew jogging/running in place could be so exhausting? Meanwhile, (you can see in the bottom right corner) dad enouraged us while playing Wreck-It Ralph on the iPad.
B actually added the Adventure to Fitness to his DVD collection and requests to "watch" it all the time now. I think it's a great program to have around -- happy to have him watch a show that gets him moving rather than just sitting and snacking! Why can't Oprah or Andy Cohen do that for me?
Adventure to Fitness is an award-winning children's fitness program that is designed to keep kids healthy, active, and learning in a fun and easy way. The program is currently used in over 75,000 classrooms and over 11,000 homes, making it the #1 educational fitness program of any kind in America. It is a winner of the Family Choice Award and is Parents’ Choice Approved.
You can find out more information at the Adventure to Fitness Store
or connect via Facebook
*Sponsored content provided by Adventure to Fitness. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
At about 4pm on Saturday, I decided that I wanted to change the flooring in my guest room. With absolutely no planning, preparation, or clue about what I was doing... I headed to Costco and picked up 6 boxes of Vineyard Cherry Harmonics Wood Flooring
($8 off per box coupon). I then headed over to Lowe's and got a tapping block and a piece of trim/molding for the transition from the room to my carpeted hallway. My total project cost: $185. Oh, and I was going to do this project all on my own since the bf was out on the Harley. I have to state a disclaimer: When I first bought my house, I gave my lovebunnie my credit card and asked him to get me set up with a complete tool kit. I'm pretty confident with a saw and power drill and if I can't figure something out, I can always turn to Google.
It took about 2 minutes to rip out the old carpet. The only tool needed was a pair of needle nose pliers. The most arduous part of the process was removing the tacking strip for the old carpet. Holy nails. For this, I used a crow bar. And then, it started. I don't follow recipes when cooking, so why follow the directions on the box about how to lay flooring? I just started laying and tapping and cutting. I think that if I had followed the directions on the box, it would have been much more confusing that the logical approach I took. And let it be known that I never once used a tape measure. Not being conceited, just saying that this project can get done, easily, without over-thinking it.
I completed the entire room just as my dad and boyfriend arrived. Lucky for them - they got to finish off the closet (with my guidance, of course). My next plan is to move B over and tackle the floors in his old room to make it a new office for me :)
I have a lot of things to say in this post - so just one title doesn't seem to do it justice.
Last weekend, I was quite envious of one of my neighbors' smoked chicken BBQ. So my other neighbor, Justin, and I decided we'd try our own luck at smoking some proteins since we're both pretty enamored by food.
We made smoked chicken drumsticks, beef brisket, and a pork shoulder. I had the chicken drumsticks in a brine overnight. I gave all three meats a generous coating of the Pork Barrell BBQ Dry Rub
that I found at Costco.
I have never actually brined anything myself. Hell, I've never even cooked meat with a bone in it until Saturday's drumsticks. I googled every single recipe for the "best chicken brine" ever - and I couldn't quite figure out what would work for me. So what did I do? Made it up, of course.
What you'll need:
1 gallon cold water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
10 gallon ziploc bag
1. Whisk salt and sugar into water until it starts to dissolve.
2. Pour brine into ziploc bag. I also added a good helping of my dry rub into the bag.
3. Add chicken (I always rinse my chicken first before cooking - you don't need to wash the chicken with soap as seen on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season 2
).4. Leave in brine overnight - or at least a minimum of 2 hours.
After letting the chicken smoke for 2.5 hours, it was the most tender, juicy, flavorful deliciousness that I've ever made. The skin gets kinda rubbery in the smoker, so we dipped them in the deep fryer for 3 minutes afterwards. PERFECTION.
I seriously don't know why I don't brine every time I cook chicken - it made a world of difference.
Check out the final product:
And here's the BBQ Beef Brisket after 8 hours in the smoker:
Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the finished pork shoulder. It took about 12 hours - and by the time it was done - I had enjoyed a few drinks with the neighbors and forgot about taking pics.
If you have any great BBQ recipes, tips, or tricks - please share in the comments below!
my new favorite made-up recipe for summer drinks! (inspired by the drinks we had at 9 Dragons
2 parts Grey Goose La Poire,
1 part Peach Schnapps
1 part apple juice
2 parts ginger ale
& a spoonful of Trader Joes mango sorbet to top it off!
shaken over ice - served in martini glasses - because that's what was clean at the time :)
Yesterday, I asked you all for suggestions on kid-friendly finger foods to take to the neighborhood BBQ. My friend, Sheila, suggested an idea she saw on Pinterest for mini corn dog muffins - however, the link was removed from by Pinterest as spam. I decided that it would be pretty hard to screw up making these without a recipe, so I went ahead and gave it a shot. Disclaimer: These are not the healthiest - however, I would guess that they are healthier than regular corn dogs which are usually fried.
Here's what you'll need:
1 box of cornbread mix - I used Krusteaz Natural Honey Cornbread
(plus an egg, water, and vegetable oil - or whatever you mix requires)
1 package of hot dogs
non-stick cooking spray
mini-muffin baking tray
1. Heat oven to 400. Apply non-stick cooking spray to baking tin.
2. Make cornbread according to directions on the box. Fill each mold a little less than 2/3 with batter.
3. Cut hot dogs into little segments (I cut each dog into 5 pieces) and place in the center of each mold.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes - keeping an eye on them.
Let cool. Pop out of tins. Enjoy!
These were a hit with the kids and adults. The only comments I got were "I like butter on my corn bread" and "bring ketchup next time". Touché, mis amigos, touché. Next time, I might try brushing the tops with melted butter.
Let me know if you try it and what changes you make!
It doesn't take much more than a few days of great weather before all the neighbors come out to play. On Sunday, we had our first neigborhood bbq complete with good food, great company, and happy kids. Two tire swings have recently been constructed in the common area in my neighborhood and the kids went wild over them.
My new favorite drink this summer has been Redd's Apple Ale
. I am a total sucker for marketing, so I finally tried it. OMG. Perfect beverage for beautiful weather! ... can't wait until it's available in bulk @ Costco :)
On the Saturday before Easter, we had plenty of family in town. Lots of young, growing boys to feed. To put it bluntly, the best way to feed these people is outside. My mom is famous for making pizzas on the grill - so we thought we'd try a new version. We adapted our recipe from Bobby Flay's Grilled Pizza with Hot Sausage, Grilled Peppers and Onions and Oregano Ricotta.
We passed on the spicy sausage and went with sweet italian sausage instead. We also skipped the fontina cheese and replaced sheep's milk ricotta with whole milk ricotta. And we completely nixed the vinaigrette dressing.
2 pounds fresh sweet Italian sausage
2 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
5 large red pepper, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 ready-to-make pizza shells of your choice
1 tub whole milk ricotta
fresh herbs (oregano, basil)
Pre-heat grill. Grill sausage about 7-10 minutes per side. Toss onions and peppers in about 2 tbsp olive oil to coat. Cook peppers and onions on grill - we used a vegetable grilling pan made specifically for outdoor use. Remove sausage once cooked and slice. Roughly slice the onions/peppers after they have softened.
Heat grill to med-high. Brush dough with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with garlic salt.
This is important: place the side where you're going to put your topings DOWN first and grill so that it's crispy when you apply the goodies. Grill 3-4 minutes. Remove from grill and place on cookie sheet/cutting board to assemble pizza.
Divide the sausage, onions and peppers evenly over the two shells. Dollop ricotta (mix with herbs, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic salt to taste). Place the pizza on the grill, close the cover and grill until the cheese has melted, about 3 to 4 minutes.
If you have a favorite grilled pizza recipe - please share! I'd love to try it!
Guest Post by: Thanh Buswell
Happy Spring! Last Saturday, we kissed winter and the “Snowquester” goodbye with our first March weekend in the 60s. With the great weather came more outdoor projects in the neighborhood.
While sipping my morning coffee at half past seven, my ears perked at the familiar sound of a pressure washer from Neighbor-Across-the-Street. If you read my February guest post
, you know I am married to the owner of Cascade Services
, therefore I may have specially-tuned ears for this kind of noise. After a full day of errands and enjoying our Saturday with friends, we found Neighbor-Across-the-Street was still pressure washing his house 8 hours later
. What a day - but he was on the right track!
House Pressure Wash in Manassas VA by Cascade Services.
House Pressure Wash in Manassas VA by Cascade Services.
Pressure washing the exterior portion of your home is a great project to jump start your Spring Cleaning.
You would be surprised at the amount of mold, dirt, and mildew build up on your home. Even homeowners that tell us their house siding is in pretty clean shape are taken aback when we point out the little black mold spots everywhere. In addition, dirty siding is one of the top HOA violations and one of the simplest things you can do to instantly brighten your home.
Luckily for you, we are holding a Spring Giveaway hosted by the Real Housewives of Northern Virginia! This is the very first time Cascade Services has ever done a giveaway and we are pretty excited it’s for RHNOVA readers! The Cascade Spring Giveaway is for One Single Family House or Townhouse Pressure Wash Service (up to four sides at a value of up to $260).
Be sure to enter -- not only do you get a professionally pressure washed house exterior; you’ll also get back hours of your weekend! (Just ask my neighbor.)
And just in case you aren’t the lucky winner, please check out our website to find out more about our services and a few coupons and “Like” us on www.facebook.com/cascademe
to keep up-to-date with special deals throughout the year.
| || | Cascade Services, LLC is a professional pressure washing, sealing / staining, and carpet cleaning company based out of Gainesville, VA. Established in 2008 by Randy Buswell, a NOVA native with 15 years of experience learning from his own father’s business, Cascade has become a trusted and reliable contractor serving customers all over Northern Virginia. For more information, call (703) 915-2402 or visit us at www.cascademe.com and "Like" us on Facebook!
*sponsored content provided by Cascade Services, LLC
Power Wash and Stain by Cascade Services, LLC.
guest post by Thanh Buswell
Life just seems more grand in the Springtime and it gives all of us a little jolt of Martha Stewart-like prowess. (And we are less than a month away!) You want to get up earlier, you’re motivated to clean out your closet and even deep clean the baseboards. You’re ready to cook delicious, healthy meals, put fresh flowers on the patio table and invite friends over to enjoy a glass of wine, while dining al fresco in your lovely outdoor space.
While mulling over the perfect recipe, drinks, table décor and music to use, go take a quick look at your deck or patio – could it use some TLC? Now is the perfect time to think about getting your deck ready for Spring & Summer entertaining. The best way to prep your deck for the upcoming season:
1. Power wash the surface area to clean it of any mildew stains, dirt, debris or contaminates. I recommend hiring a pro to avoid this
2. Allow enough time for the deck to fully dry.
3. Choose a seal/stain product that is best for YOUR deck to protect the wood and give it a professional finish. (If you’re unsure of what the best product is, keep reading.)“So, what is the best sealing or staining product for my deck?”
This is one of the most common questions customers ask Randy, my husband and owner of Cascade Services
, when calling for help with maintaining their home. And it’s a great question – there are so many options available to use including toners, semi-transparent, semi-solids, or solids. How do you know which one is right for you?
Here is a quick cheat sheet listing the various types of sealing/staining options available. In general, the more opaque the product, the longer the life span of the product lasting due to blocking more UV rays. Sealant:
Clear, protects wood and preserves its natural color; sealants will last about 1 year (recommended)Toner:
Slightly pigmented, limited colors available, mainly natural colors; toners will last 2 – 3 years (recommended)Semi-Transparent:
Lightly pigmented, allows the wood grain to show through; lasts 2 – 3 years Semi-Solid:
More pigmented and almost completely hides natural wood grain and color; lasts 3 – 4 years.Solid:
Fully opaque and will cover older stains, many colors available; can last up to 4 or 5 years (recommended)
Unfortunately, there is not one type of product that takes the cake. The best product for your deck will depend on a number of factors specific to your deck.
- How old is your deck? What is the condition it is in?
- How much sunlight does your deck receive? How much shade does your deck receive?
- Does the deck have color on it from a previous stain or paint application?
- How natural of a look are you trying to achieve on your wood?
- How long do you want the product to last (i.e. what is more important to you - external appearance or lasting performance)?
When working with a deck cleaning professional, you should be asked a series of questions similar to what I mentioned above, and then some. He/she should take their time going through the options with you, answering your questions and provide an in-person walk-through and free estimate
Now are you thinking about getting your deck ready for Spring and need some professional advice? Get in touch with us. We’re happy to answer any of your questions and love helping other NOVA residents beautify their home! (P.S. Real Housewives of NOVA will be hosting a Cascade Services Spring Giveaway in March – be sure to keep up to date and "Like" us on Facebook so you don’t miss out!)
Cascade Services, LLC is a professional pressure washing, sealing / staining, and carpet cleaning company based out of Gainesville, VA. Established in 2008 by Randy Buswell, a NOVA native with 15 years of experience learning from his own father’s business, Cascade has become a trusted and reliable contractor serving customers all over Northern Virginia. For more information, call (703) 915-2402 or visit us at www.cascademe.com and "Like" us on Facebook! *sponsored post