December 17, 2015


I haven't been feeling inspired lately. I haven't even posted my boring meal plans. But yes, still planning. I'm kind of mad at the weather for ruining Christmas because it doesn't feel like Christmas to me when it's 70 muggy degrees outside. And raining.  I don't need snow to make it feel more like Christmas but I definitely need to not have the air conditioning on!

I feel like a big old Grinch because of this (on the inside, at least).  It's even hard to think about baking because I don't want to turn the oven on!

So instead of dragging strangers down into my pity party, I'll leave you with this:  

I hope you take the time to really enjoy your family this holiday season and beyond. Listen to them, laugh with them - enjoy them - and take lots of pictures. I'm going to take my own advice.

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

See you in 2016!

December 9, 2015

My Trump View

Do you know why Trump's numbers keep climbing in the polls? Because Trump is saying out-loud what most American's are thinking but are afraid to say for fear of being labeled a racist. It's as simple as that.

America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, right?  But our freedom and policies of accepting one & all have cost us dearly. Our schools are under performing, the poor are living on welfare and the number of homeless continues to grow. Our veterans are treated poorly and healthcare in this country is abysmal. Should we even discuss the cost of a college education?  But all of that, all of our problems we can't get a handle on, all of those things that never seem to change and continue to get worse, they don't count because we're too busy trying not to offend people and too busy arguing about gun control.

Gun sales are surging in this country for two reasons:

1.  Law-abiding citizens are concerned the right to bears arms is going to be taken away
2.  People are scared and they have no faith in our current government officials to do anything about it.

Trump is right, like it or not. There is something deeply disturbing that our Resident continues to allow ANYONE into this country with open arms. I don't care what color, race, or religion you hail from.  Unless we can properly investigate the you, sorry, you can't come here.  And if you've recently visited Syria, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, etc and "disappeared" for 2-3 weeks?  You should be kicked out.  No one with good intentions purposefully goes to those countries unless you work for the UN or the Red Cross.

More harm has been done to our own Police than to ISIS in the past four years. What does that tell you?

We're in serious trouble.

December 8, 2015

They're Alive

It's been awhile since I shared a picture of the pups. As you can see, they are living the life.

Spoiled rotten, for sure.

Gunner is weighing in around 115lbs (and on a diet) and Kimber is about 60lbs. Her growth has slowed considerably. I expect her to put on another 10lbs or so as she transitions into adulthood but she won't be anywhere near as thick as Gunner.  She's a slender girl!

We had been feeding them twice a day but Kimber stopped eating most mornings and wasn't eating much at night either.  Then we weren't sure who was eating all of the food out of both bowls ... so we put an end to that when we realized Gunner was being a pig (thus the diet.)  He's a big boy and I don't need to increase his chances for hip issues as he ages (he's 3.5 now.)  I'm hoping to get him down to about 105lbs.  They've been on the 1x per day feeding schedule for about two weeks now and Kimber is now eating her bowl of food as soon as we put it down. Success!

December 4, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Weeks 21 and 22

Yep. Forgot to post again but never fear, meal planning is still happening.

Here was the meal plan for this past week:

Meal 1:  Copycat Chick-Fil-A

Meal 2:  Beef Noodle Bowl

Meal 3:  Hamburgers

Meal 4:  Leftovers/sandwiches

- - - - - - - - -

And for next week:

Meal 1:  Rotisserie Chicken Pot Pie

Meal 2:  Ravioli

Meal 3:  Pork Chops

Meal 4:  Leftovers/sandwiches

December 3, 2015

Christmas Time is Near

It's December already. Crazy, right?  

Thanksgiving was nice and easy and I enjoyed the down time at home. I did nothing interesting, since I live with people who are uninterested in going places.

The house is decorated and looking festive thanks to me. If it would stop raining every few days that would be nice because I'm tired of wet dogs and/or wet dog feet all the time.  I'd actually like a nice solid freezing of the ground ... that's my Christmas wish this year.

I did away with my normal lighted garland on the fireplace this year. I needed a change. The only negative is now I'll have to dust the mantle ...

The most surprising thing is happening:  Kimber is NOT bothering the trees or ornaments at all!  She's definitely a keeper.


November 23, 2015

Christmas Gift Idea for Kids

Last year I was super lazy buying gifts for my nieces and nephews. Partially because they have enough toys but mostly because I was lazy and wasn't feeling it. As a result, everyone got gift cards to the movies.

You know what's funny about giving a gift card?  You often spend more on the gift card then you would buying a reasonable gift, thanks to discounts and coupon codes. Now, that's not to say I'm cheap but when you're buying gifts for a lot of people you have to be economical about it. We live in the suburbs of New Jersey not Hollywood.

I know people have a love/hate relationship with Amazon but it really is one stop shopping.  They are The Walmart of The Internet. All of these gifts were purchased for $20 or less (except #4.) 

1)  For the 4-8 year old girl in your life:

I bought two of these for my 5 and 6 year old nieces. Click here to find the Glambrella

2)  For the 4-8 year old boy in your life, consider these:

I think my 5 year old nephew will love this! Lights and sirens on his bike/scooter? What's not to love about that!  Click here to find the Hornit 

The Hungry Bear Shooting game can be found a various retailers and online - be sure to price check for the best deal. I purchased two of these from a store for $17 each not seeing the online reviews ... ugh ... well, let's hope we have a better experience and if not, it can always be returned.

3)  For the (kid) WWE fan in your life, consider these two things:

Personally, I don't get the WWE but my 10 year old nephew is obsessed with it. These two things should keep him busy!

4)  For the tween girl in your life, you can't go wrong with fashion. Monogrammed items are all the rage these days and I think my 11 year old niece will like these boot cuffs, thanks to an Etsy seller.

I have one nephew left to buy for and he's a huge hockey fan (plays and watches) so I'm looking into some Flyers fan gear for him.

See? Christmas owned in a about 2 hours of online shopping. Go me!

November 20, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 20

Can you even believe I've kept this up?!

With Thanksgiving in the mix this week, the meal plan may or may not happen. But hey, it means there are options in the house!

Meal 1:  Lasagna Rolls (Husband loved this last time)

Meal 2:  Creamy Parmesan Chicken (skillet sauce - Boo loved this last time)

Meal 3:  Breakfast for Dinner

Meal 4:  Leftovers/sandwiches

So you may have noticed ... I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Hallelujah!

November 19, 2015

Owning Christmas

I'm not sure what has come over me but I'd say I'm 80% done with Christmas shopping, most of which was done online. I have zero desire to shop in stores this holiday season so thank you Lord for the internet.

I've prepared The Husband for the onslaught of boxes being delivered to our doorstep which may or may not disguise a Vera Bradley gift for myself ... it's no fun shopping for everyone else if you can't get yourself something too! 

I fell head over heels for this new "classic" print from Vera Bradley:
Isn't it gorgeous?!

I have a couple of Vera Totes. The last of which that I really loved was the Canterberry print from two years ago. I'm very print-selective but this one is really pretty and not old-lady-ish!

I completed the purchase with a matching coin purse and lanyard which I have been using to hold my train ticket and work ID (and doubles as a mini wallet when I go out for lunch or to shop!)  Because I spent over $100, a travel jewelry bag ($48 retail) was added to my shopping bag for free.  I'm not sure I'll use it but hey, it was free and I can always list it on eBay. Shipping was also free.

I'm working on compiling a list of the "fun" gifts I purchased for my nieces and nephews this year - 9 of them in all, ranging from ages 5-11.  Maybe it will help you with your shopping this year.

November 13, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 18 & 19

Oops. I just realized I never posted the meal for this (now past) week last week. It's nothing earth shattering but I'll share it anyway.

Meal 1: Full Turkey Dinner, in honor of my Dad being in town

Meal 2: Meat Sauce/Pasta

Meal 3: Hamburgers

Meal 4: Leftovers/sandwiches

And for next week:

Meal 1: Baked BBQ Chicken

Meal 2: Macaroni & Beef

Meal 3: Salmon

Meal 4: Leftovers/sandwiches

November 12, 2015

It's Coming Fast

Can you believe it's the middle of November already and 2015 is almost over?  It's crazy. I'm not ready to start thinking about Christmas!

However, that being said, I already have most of Christmas covered for my boys. They are getting one big gift to be shared. A gift that (I'm reminded fairly often) has been on their list for 3 long years -- and they have no idea it was purchased, shipped to the house, and is sitting in a room (disguised, of course) only feet from where they sleep each night.

There will be a few little side gifts added as well. Maybe a book, a new hoodie or two and/or a pair of boots (stuff they need) but otherwise that's it. 

I still need to buy for my nieces and nephews (8 of them) but I should be able to knock that out fairly quickly. Last year I went simple with movie gift cards so I was hoping to actually buy a tangible gift this year.  It all depends upon the cooperation of my sister-in-laws ...

Thanks to a gift card purchase promotion at my grocery store last week, I was able to knock out gifts for my Mom and Mother-in-law too.

Guess it's time to re-print my Excel shopping list I use every year to keep me organized and to remember what I've bought and how much I've spent. I keep it tucked in my purse. It really is a lifesaver! 

(You can't tell I have an accounting degree and work as an auditor, can you?)

November 4, 2015

The ONLY Cheddar Broccoli Soup Recipe You'll Ever Need

I'm that confident. And I got if off of Facebook through one of those quick step-by-step videos that you see posted every now and again. Maybe it was from BuzzFeed? I really don't know but all I know is this:  it's the perfect Broccoli and Cheese Soup recipe!!

Cheddar Broccoli Soup Perfection

~1 tbsp butter
~1 c chopped onions
~1/2 c shredded carrots
~2 cloves minced garlic

Saute all that for a few minutes, until the onions and carrots soften. Then remove them from the pan.

~4 tbsp butter
~1/4 c flour

(stir well)

~2 c half and half added slowly, stir well  (I used Fat Free - you cannot tell at all thanks to the cheese)
~2 c chicken broth

Simmer all that for 10-15 minutes

~Add 8oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese
~Add back the onions/carrots
~Add 12oz bag of chopped broccoli (I used a Birds Eye Steam-fresh Broccoli Florets, slightly undercooked and chopped well in my Ninja Blender

Let that all simmer for another 5-10 minutes and you'll have Cheddar Broccoli soup perfection.

It's sooooooo good. Don't dare tell me how bad it is for me. I used fat free half and half!


November 3, 2015

Kohl's Issue Resolved

It took entirely too many phone calls and too much of my time to resolved the issue but I finally received credit for the merchandise I never received.

I still have never received any communication from Kohl's that the two orders were damaged and that I would not receive them.  I asked why I was never notified every time I called and never received an answer. I don't care how many orders they ship on a daily basis. When a person places an online order, they expect to receive that order - especially when they pay for it!

With the holidays approaching, buyer beware when shopping online with Kohl's.  This girl right here will not be shopping at Kohl's this holiday season.

October 30, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 17

Being the dinner boss, one week at a time.

Meal 1:  Broccoli Cheese Soup - will share the *delicious* recipe this week!

Meal 2: Chicken Stir Fry (skillet sauce)

Meal 3:  Steak sandwiches

Meal 4: Leftovers/sandwiches

EDITED:  The Husband threw me for a loop one day last week and cooked dinner (the only dinner he can cook lol) and guess what, it was Pork Chops so I took that dinner off our meal plan this week and replaced it with the soup!

October 29, 2015

Kohl's - I Still Loathe You

They are going for the world record of the worst company ever, aren't they?

I'm not sure where I left off but phone call #4 with Jackie on 10/27 assured me that the two credits would post within 24 hours. And no surprise, that did not happen.

This morning I made phone call #5 and spoke to Jasmine, who didn't want to deal with me (can't blame her - I wasn't very nice), and then to Miguel (who was insulted I wouldn't let him help me), and then finally to George, Miguel's Supervisor to once again reiterate the giant mess.  A fun fact I should point out:  the references numbers to the incidents that I was given a week ago? They basically mean nothing. 

George did his best to get me to calm down but I'm sorry, after five phone calls over two weeks and over 3 hours of my time repeating this story over and over to different people and not getting any results? I can't use an inside voice anymore and you should certainly understand why.

In the end, George saved the day. He did whatever he needed to do to post the credits to my account. I received email confirmation of the credits while we were still on the phone. Now, why was that so hard?!

I understand that "returned" packages may take some time to process but my two orders were not returns - they were "damaged - return to sender" packages - packages that NEVER made it to my doorstep. These credits should be posted automatically and without delay. Come on, Kohl's, get your shit together. Christmas is coming.

I can tell you this though, with absolute uncertainty: I will not shop at for the foreseeable future. Not a chance in hell.

October 28, 2015

Halloween Fun

This may or may not be my youngest child. It's hard to tell.  I tried to get him to do a Where's Waldo costume but he picked this instead.

My boys have never been overly into Halloween but as they are getting older, they are learning to not take themselves too seriously and to just have fun with it.

October 27, 2015

Kohl's - I Loathe You

My original order from 10/8 that NEVER REACHED MY HOUSE, that was returned to the sender by the postage facility was marked "received" by the warehouse on 10/16.


My replacement order from 10/14, shipment #2, that NEVER REACHED MY HOUSE, that was returned to the sender by the postage facility, was marked "received" by the warehouse on 10/20.


This is INSANE.

I think it's time to go to their Facebook page and rant.

Stay tuned.

October 23, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 16

It's not elaborate, fancy, or gourmet but it's food for a real family!

Meal 1: Copycat Chick-Fil-A (see week 2 for recipe)

Meal 2:  Ravioli

Meal 3:  Breakfast for Dinner

Meal 4:  Leftovers/sandwiches

October 21, 2015 = Blacklist

So, back on October 8th I placed an order on to take advantage of the Columbus Day sale they were advertising. I've been trying to find khaki pants that will fit my teenager and this has proven to be difficult because he's right in between the Boys 8-20 and Men's sizes and once you cross over into Men's sizing, the adjustable waist disappears, making finding the right fit even harder if you have a kid who won't wear a belt...

(Hello clothing manufacturers - is anyone listening?!?!)

My order was for 6 pairs of pants and 2 bottles of this room spray that I really like. Fast forward a week and I thought the shipping was taking a bit longer than normal so I clicked on the tracking link only to discover my package had been damaged during shipping, was sitting as some postal distribution facility, and it was automatically being sent back to the sender. Okay?  (Let me also point out that's it's now October 21st and I have NEVER received a communication from Kohl's that my package was damaged.)

After a series of emails and a phone call initiated by me, I was told that yes my package was damaged, yes it was being sent back to them, and yes the credit would automatically process once the package was received by the warehouse. BUT, if I still wanted the items I had to reorder them. So I did that over the phone on October 14th to ensure the same discounts were applied.

My new order was split into two shipments for some reason but whatever, hopefully this one will arrive at my house intact.  On Friday the 16th, 4 pairs of pants arrived at my house. One shipment received, one to go.

On Monday, I clicked on the tracking information for the remaining shipment and it says the package was sitting at the the same sorting facility damaged. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Meanwhile, I still don't have a credit posted to my account for the original order.


So I call, again, reiterate the entire story, AGAIN because you can't for the love of God get the same person on the phone. This newest person said my credit for the first order would be processed. An hour later I get an email the credit was processed. Finally, right? hahahaha NO.  This credit was processed under an order number I never made and for $11.29 - my order totaled $131.28.

So I call, AGAIN, reiterate the story AGAIN and now I'm given an incident number. Keep in mind, this is only dealing with the first order. I haven't even started to deal with the partial order I won't receive.

It's now October 21st. Still no credit. And it will be a cold day in hell before I order from again. BUYER BEWARE.

October 19, 2015

Ipod vs iOS9 Update

Does anyone else find it disturbing how Apple seems to be ignoring this wifi connectivity issue and iOS9?!

About two weeks ago, I wrote about my excursion to the Apple store in an effort to determine why my son's iPod (touch 5) will not connect to our home's wifi no matter what googled fix we tried.  They were no help and actually told me they weren't aware of any wifi connectivity issues. That's laughable, "Genius Bar", because a simple google search proves otherwise.

I tried everything, and I mean everything, to get this iPod to connect to our wifi and once I cleared the cache in Safari, it finally connected. Huh? Yeah, I don't get it either.  All was working fine for a week. ONE week! Then suddenly, it wouldn't connect and started the same crap all over again - the password is wrong, etc.  W T F APPLE!?!?!  And, what I didn't know was that my 13 year old's iPhone 5S was also not connecting to the wifi but he failed to mention this because he just stayed on the Spring network to avoid the issue (thank the good Lord for unlimited data plans).  So there it is - two Apple devices that would not connect to our wifi at home.

For the record, our wifi works FINE. Our router/firmware/connection are fine. Our TV and DirecTV connect fine. Our home computer, my work laptop, a Kindle, and our ANDROID phones have no issues whatsoever connecting to the wifi in our home. 

After wasting another two hours of my life trying to get these devices to connect, I was finally successful by simply unplugging the router for a few minutes. Really? Why do I have to keep doing this, Apple? Why? Why?? WHY???

October 16, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 15

Once again, due to scheduling and leftovers, I only made 2 of the 4 meals planned for last week. So if you see any repeats that's why! I'm working a full next week too so all bets are off on if I pull off this week's plan. And as a reminder, my meal plan week starts on Sundays.

Meal 1:  Homemade meat sauce & pasta (when I make this, I make a huge pot and freeze half of it for another meal)

Meal 2:  Grilled Steak

Meal 3: Grilled cheese/soup

Meal 4:  Leftovers/sandwiches

Forgive me for the lack of anything interesting lately. I'm in a rut and I'm not sure if it's wise to actually blog about what is really going on inside my head.

October 12, 2015

I Beat You, iPod Touch 5

I'm not sure what's going on with Apple these days, but more and more problems seem to be occurring with their devices. Can we assume this is because Steve Jobs is no longer around?!

Ever since the IOS9 update came out, the boys started having problems connecting to our home wifi. A few googles searches and a Facebook plea for help seemed to correct the issue via resetting the network. But fast forward a few weeks (and a few more updates), and Boo's ipod would not connect to the wifi in our house no matter what we did. We'd tell it to forget the network, reboot it, resign in and all would be fine for 5 minutes or maybe even an hour, but then it would tell us the password was wrong or that it couldn't connect even though it said it was connected per the wifi settings menu.

It made no sense.

So I took a trip to the local (40 minutes away) Apple store to have a "genius" look at it once I made an appointment to come back 2 hours later... I explained the problem we were having to the "genius" and he went right into the wifi settings and the ipod connected to the Apple store's wifi right away. W T F. Seriously?  Did the ipod just need to come home to mother ship? He ran some diagnostic tests on it (all was fine) and even went into the back to speak with more "geniuses" to see if there were any bulletins regarding ipods not connecting to wifi and he said there were none. I laughed. All you have to do is google "ipod/iphone won't connect to wifi" and thousands upon thousands of hits come up.

I left the store certain that when I got back home we'd still have the same problem and I was right.  So I googled and googled again.  This time regarding our router and if that might be causing the problem. I checked the parental controls. Nope. Didn't fix it. I changed the WPA security. Nope. Didn't fix it. I changed the wifi password, rest the network for 10,000th time, rejoined... Nope. Didn't fix it.  I even tried manually adding our wifi under "other networks." Nope. Didn't fix it. I was ready to let my dogs go to town on this stupid ipod and just buy him a phone when I sat down and started going through every single menu of the damn ipod....

Care to guess what finally fixed the problem?


In all that time, and all the people I talked to, this was NEVER suggested. I'm not sure why I didn't think to do that before but hey, it's fixed!  Who's the genius now?!

p.s. I have never in my life been so happy to be a Android phone owner and I will be for life!

October 9, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 14

I long for a day when I no longer have to worry about who ate what and when was the last time they ate...

Meal 1:  Grilled Steak (gotta use up that propane)

Meal 2:  Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

Meal 3:  Grilled Salmon

Meal 4:  Breakfast for Dinner

October 6, 2015

11 Years Old

There should be some sort of law that slows down the childhood of your youngest child.  When you have a baby, the number one thing you are told is to enjoy every moment because time goes by so fast and you think it's such a lie.  But it really is true. I realize my boys aren't fully grown but we have crossed an imaginary line at ages 13 & 11 and it makes me long for the toddler years.

Yes, I'm saying it loud and proud: I'll take a toddler over a teenager any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

My Boo turned 11 yesterday (I guess I should probably stop referring to him that way but I just can't lol.)  We celebrated his birthday this past weekend with family.  It was a fun time, especially since we hadn't seen our family in awhile.  Now that going to school on your birthday has been ruined by certain people who I won't rant about, his actual birthday was a bit of let down to him, I think.  But we did our best to make the day feel special.

On family party day, I may have enjoyed too much Sweet Tea Vodka (Deep Eddy's is THE BEST) and did not realize I didn't take any pictures until we were ready for dessert, at which time the table looked rather barren ... 

My SIL's friend is the only person who can take credit for the Inside Out Disgust character cake. She did an awesome job and the cake was delicious too!  Since we were also celebrating my SIL's 18th birthday and my Boo isn't a big fan of cake, I just bought fancy cupcakes for them and had a make your own sundae bar as he requested. Yeah, didn't take pictures of that either #partyfail

Next up: Thanksgiving...  I am the hostess with the mostess.

October 2, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 13

Yep. I cheated and backdated this post because I forgot ... I claim Birthday Party Brain!

Nothing fancy this week, people. I'm loosing steam and ambition.

Meal 1:  Birthday Party Dinner - Bake Ziti

Meal 2:  Hamburgers

Meal 3: Party leftovers

Meal 4:  Chicken Parmesan/Alfredo

September 29, 2015

Update Schmupdate

I survived the Pope invasion. If there hadn't been 24/7 news coverage of every move he made, I would have never known he was here.  All joking aside, I'm glad it went well and I'm glad the media will stopping about it soon.

I enjoyed my days off immensely. The puppy was spayed early last week so being home to monitor her activity was good planning on my part. She was pretty out of it for about 2 days but she's perking back up and being a brat again!

Bud had a consultation appointment with an Orthodontist late last week - braces are coming. In fact, they are being put on this Thursday.  He's only looking at 12-15 months with them on so that's a plus.

This weekend is birthday party weekend - Boo is turning 11. Due to schedules, the Pope, and other factors, we are doing a combined (family) party this year for him, my niece and my SIL.  With birthdays of 9/26, 10/4, and 10/5 it's kind of crazy to try a celebrate that individually. My niece is turning 6, Boo 11, and my SIL turns 18.

Decorating that table will be interesting - stay tuned!

September 25, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 12

Edited ... 

We've had more chaos in schedule so once again, meals from last week did not happen. I'm just keeping it real, yo.

Meal 1: Creamy Chicken & Rice Soup (found on Pinterest)

Meal 2:  Pork Chops/rice

Meal 3: Creamy Parmesan Chicken (repeated - never made)

Meal 4: Steak Sandwiches

Meal 5: leftovers/sandwiches

I think the "meal #" will work out much better so I at least know I have the ingredients on hand to make the 4 listed meals each week.

We're almost in soup season too... my favorite time of year!

September 23, 2015

The Pope is Coming...

Some may be excited about this historic event but I am not one of them. Maybe I would be more excited about it if the "officials" had been smarter about planning where this Mass would take place (Hello? Stadiums? You can control the ins and outs of people!?!). But no, a giant stage has been set up right in front of the Art Museum.

Can you say complete and utter logistical nightmare? Does anyone remember what happened to JFK?!? Officials are so focused on road closures and cars I have to wonder if anyone has given a thought to the hundreds of tall buildings in the area.

Major roads and a bridge will be closed. A giant area of the city is considered a no-drive zone so people are forced to walk MILES just get anywhere near the Pope.  I hope they have triage areas set up on every corner for all the elderly who will likely drop dead during their "pilgrimage." 

Why must we parade him through the streets of Philadelphia and completely shut down the city to do it? Security. I get it, but in the mean time, people and businesses are screwed in the process. The amount of conflicting and confusing information thrown at the tri-state area over the last two months is enough to make a sane person stay far away from this circus.

My employer alone is out tens of thousands of dollars in order to prepare for the Pope's visit. Why must we absorb that cost? I'm taking vacation time just to avoid this giant mess. 

Insanity. That's what it is.You will not find me anywhere near the city of Philadelphia this weekend and if you are smart, you'll stay far away too!

Just call me the Pope Grinch.

September 22, 2015

And Last But Not Least - Canada

We did take a very quick trip to Canada. We walked there, in fact! In hindsight, I wish we had devoted an entire day but we just ran out of the time. Sometimes you just can't do it all.

Thanks to a not-so-accurate-map, we thought we were closer to the entrance of the Rainbow Bridge than we actually were. We definitely got our exercise that day!  The view of The Falls while crossing the bridge is stunning ... it really is something you must see. We passed through customs with no issues - thank you passports!

(I'm in two places at once!)

Here's the funniest thing:  we walked all that way and guess where my kids wanted to have lunch? They about leaped for joy when they saw a Wendy's. Wendy's!  I guess that's what happens when you vacation in a semi-rural area and there is no fast food to be found. Whatever makes them happy, right?

After our "delicious" lunch, we had time to pick one thing to do and they chose to tour The Guinness Book of World Records Museum. Totally tacky, totally funny, and totally overpriced. We then spent a good deal of time in a gift shop gathering some souvenirs before we had to head back over the boarder. The walk to and from, lunch, the museum, and shopping, took us three hours to do on foot.

Did you know you have to pay $1.50 per person to leave Canada, walking back over the Rainbow Bridge?  Is there ANY question what the United States of America is doing wrong?!?!!??

While the Canadian side of The Falls was nice to visit, I am glad we chose not to stay on that side.  It was like the New Jersey boardwalks on steroids. People everywhere. Traffic. Loud. Lights. Constant movement. So not a vacation!

I'm hopeful that in the future we'll plan a vacation to a different area of Canada and we can VISIT Clifton Hills and The Falls again.

September 21, 2015

Lockport Cave & Fort Niagara

The Lockport Cave was disappointing. I'm not sure what I expected but the boys were not impressed. I guess once you've seen a cave (Crystal Caves in PA) you've seen them all. It probably didn't help that the boat ride was not operating when we visited. An hour max is all you need if you decided to visit.

The highlight? Was when they realized Sharknado 2 was filmed on location at the cave (LOL)

After the cave letdown, we enjoyed a nice lunch in town and headed to Fort Niagara.  Very pretty scenery and history, but again, kids ... they've come to hate places like this. It's sad really (maybe one day they'll appreciate it, right?)

You can sufficiently tour Fort Niagara in under two hours which was good because they couldn't wait to leave.  It's located on the grounds of Fort Niagara State Park and there's a pool open to the public for a very small fee. It was nice to cool off there after touring Fort Niagara - the highlight of their day.

September 18, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 11

Sunday: Turkey Breast Loin

Monday: Spaghetti & Meatballs

Tuesday: Chicken Stir Fry

Wednesday: leftovers/sandwiches

Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner

I know. I'm getting lazy with the breakfast for dinner thing. However, it seems like most weeks something comes up and alters my plan anyway.  I'm thinking about foregoing the day of the week designation and just called it "Meal 1; Meal 2, etc" because of how often I'm changing around the plan now that school & sports are thrown into the mix.

Regardless, it's nice to have a plan, right?!

September 17, 2015

Fishing on Lake Ontario

Very, very early one morning we woke up to go fishing. Boo has been begging to go fishing for quite some time but unlucky for him, we are not fishing people. We know nothing about fishing.

After some google searches of the area, I found a guy who charters fishing excursions on Lake Ontario. You do nothing but show up and fish. That's right up our alley and pretty much ensures we'll catch something!

We were at the boat launch site before 6am that morning - me, Boo and my father-in-law. Everyone else opted to stay home in bed.  They missed out on a beautiful sunrise and fish!

Our fishing excursion lasted about five hours (plenty of time for the kid) and we caught a total of 8 fish. Two got away as we were reeling them in, two were too small so they got a pardon, two were both 25lbs each and the other two were both about 8lbs each.  All in all, after they were cleaned and filleted, we brought home about 40lbs of King Salmon. And it's oh so very good!!

The excursion wasn't cheap of course but worth every penny to Boo for the experience and to me for the fresh we-caught-it salmon!

September 16, 2015

Niagara Falls

Visiting Niagara Falls was the main reason for taking this trip. After some online research of the area, I decided against staying on the Canadian side (more on that later). I wanted a relaxing vacation and Wilson, NY certainly provided that. 

I will say this:  The Niagara Falls State Park is gorgeous. It really is. The Cave of the Winds and The Maid of the Mist are absolute must-do's.  The Discovery Center is in desperate need of a makeover and the place is very, very small and most of the exhibits were not working when we visited.  The boys were disappointed. The Aquarium is small too but nice. We enjoyed it. It only took about an hour to tour. They do have a few shows throughout the day (with the sea lions and a magic show) but as luck would have it, we were there at an off time and there wasn't enough to keep our attention until the next show times.

The Cave of the Winds gives you some very stylish shoes. It's good thing too ... your feet (and the rest of you if you so choose) will get soaked! They are yours to keep.

You don't fully appreciate the force of the Falls until you are subjected to the wind at its base - Holy Wind, Batman!! We laughed and laughed and laughed. The wind and the mist made picture taking challenging!  It was a nice surprise when I realized that I had caught a rainbow:

The park is in the middle of a constructing a new lookout point on the Falls. It's slated to be completed by next summer.  It will up the game on the US side for sure!  Now, if only they'd put some of that money into the areas outside the state park....
I would definitely go back someday. It's worth seeing a second time!

September 15, 2015

Wilson-Tuscarora State Park

It's a beautiful park, about a mile from where we stayed.  There is plenty of open space, picnic tables, and trails as well as a nice covered Pavilion with bathrooms and showers!  There is a fee to enter the park but it's worth it.  The beach area is very nice and well-maintained. A lifeguard is there during posted hours Memorial Day through Labor Day.

There are lots of rocks in Lake Ontario so I highly recommend some type of water shoe for kids. My Boo was smart enough to realize this and kept his stylish Cave of the Winds sandals (which you will see tomorrow!)

So pretty. So peaceful. No crowds. Perfection!!

September 14, 2015

Olcott, NY

After we arrived at our fabulous rental house, the following day we decided to take it easy and get the lay of the land.  We drove about 8 miles west of Wilson, NY to the cute little town of Olcott, NY.  There we found a beautiful park - Krull Park - which does offer limited beach access to Lake Ontario.  The beach itself wasn't really that nice (doesn't seem to be maintained very well) but a lifeguard is there during posted hours.  We did not swim there but the boys did enjoy skipping some rocks into the lake. Olcott also offers some cute little shops and a Carousel Park. Both have limited operating hours so be sure to take note of that before you visit.  The Carousel Park is cute but it's definitely designed for the 8 & under crowd.  We knew that before visiting so no one was disappointed :)

We spent about 2 hours exploring the park, enjoying the scenery, and grabbing a snack.  It was a relaxing time!

We then left in search of some kayaks to rent. This proved to be difficult. You would think that for a "lake area" the place would be riddled with rental places - but this is not the case.  Some local directed us to a bait and tackle shop but we learned his (small) stash of kayak rentals had been rented out for the week.  In the end, this was something we should have arranged ahead of time or brought our own. Who knew?!

During our kayak search, we noticed a bunch of cars stopping on the side of the road. I thought maybe it was a yard sale but no, it was a popcorn stand! There were so many cars stopping at this place we decided to stop too. And we are so glad we did! Seriously - the best popcorn ever. Freshly popped right there on the side of the road.  We enjoyed the plain popcorn perfectly salted and the caramel corn was the best I've ever had (sorry Johnson's - this was so much better!)  So if you are ever in the area, do find Bye's Popcorn. You will not be disappointed!

September 11, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 10

Following through with this for 10 weeks - I've impressed myself!

Sunday:  Salmon! 

Monday:  Macaroni & Beef

Tuesday:  Creamy Parmesan Chicken

Wednesday:  Leftovers/sandwiches

Thursday:  Breakfast for dinner ... this was on the menu last week but due to sport schedules, we never got around to it and I have a pound of bacon in the fridge begging to be cooked!

September 9, 2015

Back to Reality

Our vacation last week was absolutely perfect in every way. The location, the weather, no crowds - just perfect!  If you ever want a get-away-from-it-all vacation, I highly recommend Wilson, NY. We rented a home I found on VRBO that was right on Lake Ontario. In fact, we were on the very last street on the edge of the USA!

Renting from VRBO can be a nerve-wracking experience, but for us, everything went smoothly. The house was perfect in every way, just as it was pictured, and it was well stocked with anything you could possibly need during your stay.  The homeowners were attentive and responsive each time I contacted them prior to our trip. I literally have nothing bad to say!

My goal for this vacation was to relax and mix in some must-sees in the area and I think we accomplished that. My teenager (Bud) would tell you he was bored at times but overall I hope he would tell you it was a nice place to visit for a week. Boo loved every minute of the vacation (he's my easy child!)  It is semi-rural, don't get me wrong, but we did manage to find a Dunkin Donuts tucked away in a gas station convenience store about 8 miles away. That made my father-in-law happy because he is addicted to their coffee and he goes there every morning!

I have much more to say about our trip but for now, I'll leave you with this:

And yes, my kid reeled in that fish. It's a 26lb King Salmon!

September 4, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 9

Sunday: Baked Chicken

Monday: Steak

Tuesday: Ravioli

Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner

Thursday:  leftovers/sandwiches

if only my family like casseroles ... sigh.

August 28, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 8

= Vacation!!

I do have a few easy meals planned to cook while we're away. I figure we'll cook 4 nights and eat out the other 3. Of course this is subject to change but I think it will be a good thing to have a rough dinner plan.

Meals planned:

Hamburgers/hot dogs
BBQ Chicken/side/local produce
Spaghetti/Meat sauce (prepping and freezing sauce before we leave)
Steak night/side/local produce

August 26, 2015

Barkbox Review ~ 4th (and final) box

Our subscription has come to an end.  Our last box arrived in the mail late last week.  I really have no complaints about the boxes at all. All of the toys and treats have been enjoyed by my pups. My only complaint is the cost.

I realize it's not feasible to send all of this stuff to you for $10 but for $24 a month, I can buy a lot more treats than what is provided.  It also doesn't help that I have 2 large dogs. The tiny packages of treats just aren't enough to justify the cost.

But it was definitely fun and I haven't ruled out renewing the subscription for a short time in the future.

Thanks for the fun, Barkbox!

August 21, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 7

Still on a roll, 7 weeks and counting.

Sunday:  Pork chops/rice

Monday:  Salmon/fish, depending what's on sale

Tuesday: Macaroni & Beef

Wednesday: Leftovers/sandwiches (changed around the schedule due to soccer practices!)

Thursday: Hamburgers/hotdogs

August 19, 2015

Railings Repainted

I finished up the 1st phase of this project over a week ago but kept forgetting to take a daytime picture. The pictures I took aren't the best (because I took them in the early morning) but whatever. A photographer I am not!

Over a year ago (yeah, that long), I repainted the spindles and the lower part of the railing. It too was that honey oak we all hate.  I couldn't decide what to do about the top part of the railing so it just stayed that way. I had no interest in sanding the railing and re-staining it - too messy. And I wasn't sure if using regular paint was the way to go. Then one day I came across milk paint and how it's the preferred paint to redo furniture - it was the perfect solution!

So here we are before:

And after:
And The Husband agrees!

It does appear that milk paint is hard to find in a store so I just ordered it.  I used "Dark Chocolate" (brown) because I felt black would be too dark (lol) ... and I was right. As you can see, the dark chocolate looks black in photos. I am very, very, very happy with how it turned out!

Here's what I did, step-by-step:

1.  Thoroughly cleaned the to-be-painted area with clorox wipes.
2.  Painter's tape is your friend - use it!
3.  Using a clean rag, carefully wiped paint deglosser on the to-be-painted area. Allow it to dry for about 15 minutes - it dries fast.
4.  Apply the milk paint with a foam brush. Depending on the coverage you get, you will need 2-3 coats. It dries very fast. But I did let the area dry overnight before I did Step 5.
5.  Apply the polyurethane top coat (flat) with a foam brush. Don't over brush, but work carefully to get a smooth even finish.
6.  Done!

Here's a link to the paint products I used:

This project isn't quite done. I still have 2 sections of railing on the 2nd floor to complete. I hope to get that completed during the month of September.

Milk paint for the win!!

August 14, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 6

Yep, still doing it! Because the Chef I've been wishing for hasn't arrived.

Sunday:  Shrimp Scampi

Monday:  Chicken/white wine sauce - repeat recipe from week 1

Tuesday: Manwich

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner

Thursday:  Leftovers/sandwiches

I suppose it would be helpful and more interesting if I took a photo of each of our dinners. No photo means it didn't happen, right? I find the notion of documenting everything through a lens exhausting.

I'm officially showing my age.

August 13, 2015


I've come to a fork in the road. I wish I could say I'm surprised but I cannot. The Husband's retirement has not been easy. I'm all for taking some time to recharge but that doesn't mean you get to skip out on other responsibilities, sleep until 2pm every day and then watch TV until 5pm while your other half goes to work each day.

I feel like a damn maid and it isn't fair. For added fun, we aren't seeing eye-to-eye on parenting issues right now either. When I try to talk about why I think "xxx" is wrong, I'm calling him a terrible parent - and that's not what I said at all. We're currently spinning in circles and getting no where.

Before the retirement, we spent a great deal of time apart due to his schedule and our marriage has worked that way for over 10 years.  I know he misses his job to some extent and that may be the root of some of this, but you know what? Be an adult. Start looking into what's next. It just might improve your mood.

So I've been feeling glum, frustrated, and angry.  I'm a joy to be around. Our upcoming vacation should be fun. I'm considering just taking the boys and going alone.

August 7, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 5

I seriously can't tell you how much easier meal planning has made my life and my shopping. No more fretting over what to make for dinner each night. I have a plan and for the most part, have stuck with it.

Last night I was supposed to make BLT's but we had so many leftovers in the fridge, I didn't make them so they will be our dinner on Friday or Saturday night.

Last week my son requested a "special" dinner on Sunday to I bumped last week's Country Fried Steak dinner to this week.

Sunday:  Country Fried Steak

Monday:  Stuffed Shells

Tuesday: Baked Flounder

Wednesday:  Hamburgers/hotdogs

Thursday:  Leftovers/sandwiches

p.s. My son's special dinner? His favorite meal ever - Hamburger Helper Tomato Basil Penne. It's the only variety he likes. He looooooves this stuff to the point it's almost embarrassing!

August 6, 2015

Minor Whining Below

I'm lacking content this week, since I'm sure no one wants to hear me whine about how I want summer break to end. Yes, I'm aware that's a crazy notion and I'm in the minority but when you still have to work all summer long and everyone else in your house is on summer break, it sucks.  I hate the lack of routine and the lazy. I'm much happier when school is in session.

However, I do have our vacation to look forward to and it's time to start thinking about some solid plans and a pack list for that. So that's a good distraction, right?

Soccer practice kicks into full gear next week. Son #2 may just die. He's been a slug all summer long. The team has been moved up from Flight 3 to Flight 2 ... so here we go again...

Son #1 has decided to NOT play football this year. I have mixed feelings about this but I understand why he doesn't want to play and we didn't force him.  But it's weird. For the past five years, football has dominated our lives (and my washing machine) from August - November. My Husband is still coaching though so I didn't get off scot-free!

He will play lacrosse though but the Fall lacrosse season is almost silly. The Coach is trying to put together some extra training and 3v3 play together to help keep their skills up in preparation for the spring 2016 season.  I'm hoping that's enough to keep him engaged (and off his phone) this fall.

School starts 9/8. I can't wait! 

July 31, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 4

Yep. I'm on my game this week. Here's what is on the menu for next week:

Sunday:  Lasagna Rolls

Monday: Country Fried Steak (already prepped, in the freezer from an Omaha Steaks order my MIL insists on sending us....)

Tuesday:  Crockpot French Dip - recipe link below:

Wednesday:  BLT's

Thursday:  Leftovers/sandwiches

July 30, 2015

The Staredown

I won't lie. I'm insanely jealous of all the people who posts pictures of their cat(s) and dog(s) being friends, even cuddling. What the what? Why won't my pets do this?  I've tried so hard to get them to like each other but my wonderful shepherds just want to chase them. Don't get me wrong, the pups aren't mean but they are super curious and the cats are super pissed about it. 

I've basically given up trying so this is what happens instead:

Is is possible to love cats and dogs equally? I really don't know which I'd pick if I had to choose one or the other.

July 29, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 3

I'm late to posting this ... but the meal planning and following is still going strong.

Sunday:  Baked Pork Chops and rice

Monday: Salmon

Tuesday:  Macaroni & Beef

Wednesday:  Breakfast for Dinner

Thursday:  Leftovers/sandwiches


To follow up on the chicken fingers I made during week 2 - they were a big hit.  My picky son asked me to heat up the leftovers 2 hours after we finished eating.  I used this copycat Chick-Fil-A recipe for the breading:

~ 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour ... next time though, 2 cups was plenty. I breaded 2 packages of chicken fingers (approximately 20) and had plenty leftover
~ 1/4 cup powdered sugar
~ 4 tsp salt
~ 3 tsp pepper
~ 1 tsp paprika

Milk wash:  mix 1 egg and 1 cup of milk

Dip chicken in the milk wash and immediately into the flour mixture. Cover well. Then bake or fry the chicken to your liking.

I used my counter top fryer filled with canola oil to cook the chicken. It only took about 4 minutes for each batch of chicken to cook and it was heavenly to eat!  We will be making this again and frequently.

July 28, 2015

Front Door Repainted

I'm not sure what it is about the summer that makes me productive. I have a hard time just sitting around and doing nothing. It's easier to do that during the winter but not so much during the summer.  You'd think with a pool in my backyard I'd be lounging by it every chance I get. But I don't.

I painted the front door about 6 years ago. I cannot believe it's been that long! Our door gets the hot afternoon sun so the paint was a bit faded and had dog slobber spots on it that wouldn't wash off (can anyone explain this?!)

I was also tired of the red door. Everyone has a red door. And since my husband vetoed my plan to replace our (red) shutters, I decided it was time for a change.  Our siding is a very light gray and with red shutters which means there are only so many color options to paint your front door. Good thing I like black!

Much better, right? I can tell you this much: it will be a long time before I paint anything black again. It took roughly 6 coats of paint to get an even look! I used Behr Exterior Satin all-in-one paint in black out.  What I thought was only going to take an hour to complete took an entire afternoon!

If only I could get rid of the brass ...

Next up:  finish the stairway railing repainting project I started much too long ago.  Milk Paint is my new best friend!  Stay tuned!

July 21, 2015

BarkBox Review ~ Box #3

It's been an interesting month in dog ownership, let me tell you. First there was Kimber and her seroma. Then she ate some "shag" from a rug which induced massive amounts of throw up and problems with the other end. And then Gunner. He finally had his Vet appointment on Saturday and was diagnosed with infected anal glands.

I am officially tired of gross dog problems. Both have follow-up appointments in two weeks. At the same time. THAT SHOULD BE FUN.

This ray of sunshine arrived in the mail late last week and for the first time, I got the shipping notification BEFORE the box arrived! Hooray!

The dogs were super happy with the box this month and Kimber quickly took claim of the elephant. In fact, she growled at Gunner when he tried to take it so he just stood there and barked at her. It was really funny. Siblings!

Because of all the bathroom troubles, we haven't been giving out many treats lately but I'm sure these treats will be loved too. They've liked everything that has been sent so far.

One more box left on our mini subscription!

July 17, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 2

Are you getting a load of this? I know. It's crazy. My Week 2 Meal Plan is planned and so is Week 3. I am committed, people.

Here it is:

Sunday: Homemade Chicken Fingers/Mashed Potatoes/Green beans from my garden (recipe to follow for the chicken fingers if everyone likes it!)

Monday: Steak, grilled

Tuesday: Ravioli

Wednesday: Hamburgers/Hot Dog for the picky one

Thursday: Leftover/sandwiches

Are you catching the Thursday trend? I tend to give up as the end of the week nears. Whatever gets a working mom to the weekend, right? 

And as you can see, we are simple people. No elaborate, hard to find ingredients in my "recipe" box. I just don't have time for that and if I decide to try a recipe like that? The Husband rarely likes it so it just isn't worth my time.  Going out to eat is when I scratch that itch and order something I know I would never make at home.  

I don't like eating the same thing all the time though so I think this meal planning thing will help with that and maybe, just maybe, help me find some joy in cooking again.

p.s. My kids have been put on notice too. If they don't want to eat what is being served, they are free to have cereal or PB&J.  This short order cook is out of business!

July 15, 2015

Dinner Boss

I hate dinner. I hate always being the one to have to think about dinner and what we're going to eat. Honestly? I'm perfectly fine with a scrambled egg or a bowl of cereal. Everything else is too time consuming. I realize this isn't realistic and even I would tire of eating eggs all the time (plus, I keep hearing there's an egg shortage. Um, what?)

So I decided to take charge. For the first time in a very long, I made a meal plan for this week.  Shut up!

Sunday:  I made this. REALLY good. I will make it again and it's probably making the meal list for our lake trip. I did alter the recipe though ... I used chicken broth and omitted the mushrooms.

Monday:  I made this. Also really good. I just used a jarred Michael's of Brooklyn sauce we really like instead of adding all the spices & crushed tomatoes.

Tuesday:  BLT's

Wednesday/tonight:  Shrimp Scampi.  No real recipe. I just whip it up.

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday: I don't care.

Next week I will involve the grill since it is summer time.

Now that I have this list started, I saved it as a memo on my phone. I figure once I have 3 weeks of meals planned out, I'll have a decent "pot" of meal ideas to refer back to.  If I actually follow through with this, I will be the Dinner Boss in my house!

Go me!

July 13, 2015

Playtime with the Pups

Friday night we decided to check out a local dog park. It was an effort to get the dogs out of the house and the boys off wifi for a couple of hours. Gunner can sometimes be iffy around dogs (he's protective) so we did keep him leashed when other dogs were nearby.

They loved it and so did we!  It was great to "hike" through the gated and shaded woods!

The boys (well, one of them ... teenagers have better things to do with their time) have requested to back frequently. We will. It was a great place to let the dogs loose

p.s.  Please don't tell my teen I took his photo! 

July 10, 2015

Summer Update

As it turns out, I was the most favorite Aunt/Mom/Daughter/Sister-in-law on the 4th of July thanks to the cotton candy machine!  It shouldn't be a surprise that it was a huge hit will all the kids, even the extra kids my SIL brought with her. Two more cartons of floss sugar arrived in the mail the other day. Hey, I needed my shopping cart to go over $35 to get free shipping on Amazon!  We are all set on floss sugar for a very long time.

The dogs... each are having some health issues at the moment. The puppy has a seroma on her backside, high on her hip. We aren't sure how she got it and the lump is still quite large even though the Vet drained it almost a week ago. She is not phased by it one bit and it does not cause her any pain.  The other one ... he's been having bathroom issues which all started not long after we brought the puppy home.  He does this whole routine when he has to go #2 and Kimber chases him when he does it so his bathroom time has been interrupted. When we realized this was happening, we of course gave him "alone time" to do his business but the damage is done, so to speak. His glands keep backing up and his rear end smells terrible all the time.  I just *love* cleaning my dog's ass every day, sometimes twice a day.

Remember how I said we weren't going on a vacation this summer? Plans have changed!  We will be heading North and staying at a lake house right on the water later this summer.  We've decided to take my FIL and young SIL along on the journey too. My FIL hasn't had the best of times lately and he hasn't been on any sort of vacation in a very long time (I scored major points with my husband by suggesting this too).  So we're excited! I like my FIL a lot so I don't foresee any problems sharing a house for a week.  The boys will spend quality time with their grandfather and the added bonus of associating him with the memories from this trip - a win-win for everyone.

And the other big news (that I may or may not have hinted at) is my husband is now officially a retired police officer.   After 27 years in the pension, it was time to go for personal health and sanity reasons. There are many issues prevalent in his police department that also lead to this decision and when you factor in the state of this country and the way police officers are treated - it was time to say "Enough". July 1st was his official retirement date.

Now, he isn't retiring for good!  Oh hell no ... lol  He is taking the summer to adjust his sleep habits and figure out what is next. Any suggestions?!?

July 1, 2015

A New Toy

A couple of weeks ago when summer break was on the horizon, I decided to be "fun mom" and ordered a bunch of floss sugar to use in our cotton candy machine.  The machine we had was one my son got for Christmas two years ago. I remembered that it didn't work the best but I figured it was because we weren't using authentic cotton candy sugar.

I was wrong.

When the floss sugar arrived, my son was over the moon excited to make cotton candy and had plans to share it with the neighborhood. Can you imagine his disappointment when the damn thing spun for 30 minutes and only produced a tablespoon of cotton candy?!? 

We checked a few stores and no one seems to sell them (usually around $40) and I'm pretty sure I know why - because they don't work! 

Enter Amazon.  It seems as though you have two choices when it comes to cotton candy machines:  $40 shit versions that don't work OR $200+ machines.  After debating it for over a week, I splurged. My rationale? We aren't going on a summer vacation this year ;)

This thing kicks ass! It is worth every single penny.

Yeah, it's big but the bowl detaches so storing it won't be an issue. However, I'm not sure we'll be storing it much. If my 10 year old has his way, it will become a permanent fixture in our kitchen like the refrigerator!

It didn't make as much of a mess as I thought it would so that's a plus. But I would recommend doing it outside or in the garage.  I did not purchase the dome - that was an extra $80. And honestly, after using it twice, the dome would hinder collecting the cotton candy and it's an extra thing you'd have to clean. I also recommend having a second person to help because once your pour the sugar in, cotton candy immediately begins to fly!

It's safe to say I'm going to be the most favorite Aunt ever this 4th of July!