Browse Category: Home & Family

Saving money, parenting, decor, everyday living, self care, shopping and pets

Spring flowers to brighten your day

It’s a rainy day here in Pennsylvania & I thought you could use some spring flowers from our garden to brighten your day.

Spring is nature’s way of saying “Let’s Party!” – Robin Williams


The purple irises spread like crazy! These are around our flagpole in the front. 

The tulips are blooming – so beautiful!


Our first signs of spring – the crocus



Well, hello there!


Forsythia reminds me of the days just before my twins were born

Meet Our New Addition

Introducing Jake!

This week, we adopted a dog from Big Dog Rescue Project. We already have 2 small dogs – a Maltipoo and a Silky Terrier – but we thought it would be good to add another pup to the pack, especially one from a rescue that needed a home. We didn’t have much luck with the first few we tried. One was still to skittish, another was too far from us & they wouldn’t adopt out of their area. Another was from a breed specific rescue that required a 45 minute phone interview and quiz plus a half hour home visit and reference checks. After the quiz, we decided to remove our name from the list. We just wanted to help another dog who had a rough start in life. I totally understand making sure adopters aren’t hoarders, abusers or someone meaning to do harm, but it was more than we thought was reasonable for a group wanting to get homes for dogs. We’ve adopted from local shelters and even got our Chloe from a wonderful woman in Arkansas who ran a rescue with help from others in her area.

With all of that in mind, we found Astro on Petfinder. Almost didn’t get him after seeing the name Big Dog since we wanted a smaller pup, but I’m so glad we went ahead with it. The people at Big Dog Rescue Project were responsive, helpful & pleasant. We highly recommend them if you are in one of their areas in NJ, Texas, or Washington. If you’re not, be sure to check out rescue groups in your area. I think it is so much better to rescue an animal from a shelter than to buy from a pet store.

Once again, help us welcome Jake & share on social media to help get the word out for all of the wonderful rescue groups out there who spend so much of their time & resources for these pups!


** edited to change our new pup’s name – within 2 days, my family agreed that the name Ollie wasn’t working for them & after much deliberation, we agreed on Jake.


Recovery is Possible

Today, I enjoyed the annual Christmas party with my co-workers – lots of good food, laughs, catching up with the other end of the building ūüôā

This was topped off by a visit from some former clients sharing updates since leaving the program & their recovery. It’s important to remember why we do what we do each day. I’ve often wondered about clients I have worked with in the past, even from the early 90s, so this really touched me. Even though I no longer work directly with clients, I like knowing that I have helped behind the scenes.
To my co-workers past & present and those dealing with addiction (either yours or your loved ones), keep the faith, hope & strength. Recovery is possible.


Stress Relief for Caregivers

bird in tree


Social workers, health care workers, parents, teachers, adult children caring for elderly parents…some of the many types of caregivers. You may even fill multiple roles, like me, a mom who works in social services. One thing remains the same, we all experience an overload of stress from time to time.

You know that feeling – maybe you get headaches, become irritable, cry easily, feel tense or aches in your neck & back. It’s a response that is felt emotionally & physically. ¬†It drains you & leaves you vulnerable. How do you keep giving to others when you have nothing left?

Like the flight attendants tell you – you need to put on your oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. ¬† Sometimes it might feel “selfish” to take care of your needs, say no to a request or invite, keep the appointment for yourself, but truly, it’s not. ¬†Regular self-care helps you fill up your tank.

Lately, I’ve been feeling stressed & wanted to consciously experiment with a variety of suggestions for stress relief. I wanted to get in touch with what works best for me and figure out what really isn’t serving me.


  • Create something – This is, by far, my favorite stress reliever. Sometimes I go to my craft room to make cards or scrapbook some happy memories. Last weekend, I painted a pumpkin with my daughter. When I let creativity take over & focus on the project at hand, I stop thinking about the things that are stressing me. If you don’t think you’re crafty, try drawing, coloring or putting together a puzzle.


  • Breathe – Another way to calm your mind and body is to just be still & focus on your breathing. ¬†Concentrate on the air going in & out. You can imagine positive energy coming in and send out the negative.


  • Talk – Often, you need to get it out of your head to process & get feedback or a different perspective. Talk with your partner, a trusted friend, moms in a mother’s group. I’ve even talked to my dog (come on, I know you have, too). ¬†It doesn’t always have to be a serious heart-to-heart either. Laughter is powerful medicine! ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† In the professional setting, supervision is key. I have had the pleasure of working with some excellent supervisors who have helped me work through issues as a counselor so I could leave work at work. I’ve also had some supervisors who have been less than supportive & I’ve seen other counselors struggling with a lack of supervision. This surely contributes to feelings of burnout.

Dogs are great for stress management

  • Pets – If you have a dog or a cat, you know the power of petting your furry friend.¬†Spending some time petting & ¬†playing with¬†my pups goes a long way in helping me destress after a long day.


  • Write – It doesn’t have to be a fancy journal, just get your thoughts out onto paper & feel free to leave them there. You can challenge your negative thoughts, write a letter you’ll never send to someone or just let those thoughts free flow out of you.


  • Food & Water – I am guilty of stress-eating. I have learned I seek out carbs & sugar (no surprises there!) to help me deal with negative emotions. It’s not effective. This is one of the main reasons I started experimenting with different methods of handling stress. I was doing pretty well on a low carb diet, and then tested my limits. I felt pretty crappy with the high carbs again, so I’m back on the wagon. ¬† And I know you’ve heard all about drinking plenty of water – it’s all true!!


  • Get active – Ok, I have to admit that I’m still working on this one. I know that there are so many benefits to regular physcial activity, just haven’t made this a habit yet. I can go as far as saying that I like to stretch each day – it does help me feel more relaxed & releases the tension I am carrying, quite literally, in my neck & back. Some other forms of activity for me includes walking the dogs, cleaning and dancing. I can frequently be found dancing & singing in the car.


  • Adequate rest – you need to rest to recharge. Once in awhile, try going to bed earlier than usual. Lately, I’ve been recording some shows I like that are on later in the evening so I can watch them at an earlier time later in the week. ¬†Turn off those electronics at least an hour before bed. Do you like to read before bed? Some nights, I fall asleep before I finish the page.

What else would you add to the list of stress management techniques? What do you find to be most effective? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.




Our Little Pond Makeover

Sharing some pictures of our pond since my husband added a little waterfall to it. Over the last few years, I have started to appreciate garden gnomes and added more to our yard. This musical little fella was a gift but here is a similar one with a Celtic mushroom.


My husband added the fishing gnome on the little dock to cover the filter pump. The fake fish was a little heavy for the fisherman, so we set it on the dock.

The floating alligator head has become one of my favorites. It is supposed to scare away critters and it provides another hiding spot for our fish. You might be able to see a few of the goldfish in the pictures; they have certainly grown. I guess the gator head worked this year!

Fishing dock

Next, I’d like to add some more ground cover on the side furthest from the deck. There’s also an area that leads to the pond with a bench & stepping stones – I think that’s the spot to start a fairy garden.

Pond gnome


My First Week as a Low-Carb Beginner

vegetables_peppers_onionI’ve been struggling with weight loss for a long time. Weight Watchers or counting calories have been my best options in the past because I was not willing to cut out food groups and didn’t want to feel like I couldn’t have my favorite foods. I tried Atkins several years ago, but lost the same 2 lbs in 2 weeks that I would have with WW anyway and I hated the restrictions. ¬†Several friends have lost a significant amount of weight by following a low carb diet. I always thought that there was no way I could survive that for even a few days. I loved my pasta too much to say goodbye.

My husband & I started talking about it after I got a recipe from my low carb friend. He’s been trying to tell me for years about the problems with white flour & white sugar and the effects they have on the body. I just didn’t want to hear it then. So, I started researching the subject a little more. I started reading about low carb for beginners & the positive effects on the body. I finally agreed to put in my best effort

I agreed to give the Low Carb way of eating a chance. My husband & I made a list of the foods to eat. I started a Pinterest board (Low Carb board ) . We read labels, shopped for Low Carb friendly foods and made our meal plan for the week. Our kids are active & still need the carbs, so we still made pasta, potatoes or rice with our meals when it called for it as a side. A little shift in perspective was all that was needed – I started looking for all of the great things I could have without guilt & without counting.

Veggies were on the rise! I’ve never had so many veggies in one day before – always opted for sweet fruits. I was throwing veggies into my eggs in the morning, more veggies at lunch with sauce, cheese & chicken, and more veggies at dinner with meat! And guess what…. I wasn’t as hungry throughout the day. I stopped having sugar cravings and had more energy in the afternoon. A few walnuts in the evening were satisfying. Some turkey pepperoni & cheese was a great snack.

The weight started coming off. Yes, much of it is water weight at first and I’ve been drinking plenty of water. Nevertheless, the scale showed a lower number! Something was going right! There have been temptations and there are times I wish I could have one of my “old favorites”, but honestly, it hasn’t been that bad. ¬†I’ve committed to the first two weeks and I’ll evaluate if it’s worth continuing then. As of now, though, I can see how this can fit in my life.

I’d love to share recipes & ideas with you! Comment below & let’s connect on Pinterest & Facebook.