Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Snackwells Brownie Bites

I am a woman who loves chocolate.  And I love it even more when it is guilt free.  So, when I found out that Snackwells made Brownie Bites, I knew I had to try them.

I have tried Snackwells items in the past, and while they do not taste exactly the same as their fat laden counterparts, they are usually a good substitution.  So, I anticipated these would be the same.

First off, I liked the packaging.  I like small packs that are good for on the go, like 100 calorie packs.  Psychologically, we tend to eat until a bag or pack is empty, so by putting these in smaller packs, there is good portion control, and more likelihood that will power will be maintained.  Plus, I can toss a pack in my purse in case of a chocolate emergency.

Each pack contains about 6 little brownie pieces, which probably equal the same weight as a Little Debbie brownie, and in all honesty, that is kind of what they tasted like as well, a Little Debbie brownie (without the nuts on top).  I found the taste to be pretty good, not overly chocolately, but sweet enough to satisfy.  It was the texture I found a little, well, off.  The bites have a little bit of icing or cream in the middle, but when you eat them, that gets lost or overpowered by the slightly hard, waxy consistency of the brownie part.  Not an awful texture, but not what I was expecting.

Overall, these snacks were.... ok.  I would probably get them again if I were doing a pantry overhaul, and wanted a variety of healthy snack options.  But honestly, I would probably choose some of the other Snackwell products over these.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Word Filled Wednesday: Comfort

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Comfort.  More than anything, I need comfort.  My family has suffered a deep loss this week.  My wonderful uncle, my mother's brother, passed away on Monday.  My heart aches for my aunt, their children, my mother.  I just do not know what to do.

I wish I could take away their pain, I wish I could wipe their tears.  I wish I could change the reality.  I wish, beyond all measure, I could bring them all comfort.

I know beyond all shadow of a doubt, my uncle is in Heaven, with Jesus.  He was a caring, loving, generous, godly man, beloved by so many in his community, and really, by everyone who ever met him.  I am heartsick by the fact that he is gone, but I am thankful that he is in paradise, and will never be in pain again.

All I can do, is seek comfort in the Lord.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gaelic Storm

As I have mentioned in the past, we live near Riverfront Park in Kittanning, a park that is used for a variety of events.  Last night, I think, was our most fun night at the park so far.

Each summer, a series of free concerts occurs in the park, sponsored by Arts on the Allegheny.  Last night, the summer concert series kicked off by the highly anticipated Gaelic Storm concert.  We got there just in time for the opening act.  And shortly after that, the rain started.

It pretty much rained the entire night.  And the amazing thing was, barely anyone left due to the rain.  People had come prepared with umbrellas, and when the rain started, a sea of colorful umbrellas opened up.  This is a testament to how much Kittanning loves Gaelic Storm.

Not only is there music, but there are wonderful concessions by local vendors.  It truly was a festival like atmosphere, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, despite the rain.


Finally, the main event.  Gaelic Storm.  Now, this was the first time we saw them.  Hubby loves Irish music, and seemed a little familiar with them.  This band put on one HECK of a great show, despite the soggy conditions.  It was amazing.


After 2 hours in the rain, Hubby and I were freezing, so we left a little early, but not before buying a cd off of the band.  And even with the rain, we had a total blast.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

The title of this post is a saying I got from my mom and dad. And it sums this post up perfectly. I have been kind of out of the blogging groove lately, so I did not get a chance to post a blog yesterday. So here I am, a day late and a dollar short, officially saying

Happy Father's Day

to my dad, and all the dads out there.

Fear not, my present to him was not late, in fact he got it early! And I called him bright and early yesterday morning, to wish him a wonderful day. He had made smoked ribs, so am pretty sure the day WAS wonderful :) since his ribs are the best.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Armstrong County Geocache Trail

I have mentioned a couple of times that Hubby and I like to geocache.  Up until now, we have been very casual cachers, not really logging our finds, just doing it more for the heck of it.  Then, I heard that our county  Tourist Bureau was going to be sponsoring a Geocache Trail.  They would be hiding 26 caches all over the county.  You get a special book to record your finds in, and once you find 20, you can get take the booklet to the Tourist Bureau and get a geocoin.  Suddenly, the spirit of competition got to me, and we were off.
Allegheny River in Templeton

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Hubby and I found the 16 caches that had been made public up to that point.  Because they were spread throughout the county, we did certain areas on certain days.
Armstrong County Courthouse

 Then, last week, more were released, and we found enough to get our coin.
Calhoun Schoolhouse

I have to say, this was probably one of the most fun projects we have undertaken as a couple.  We went to each cache site together, though in a couple of instances Hubby retrieved the cache alone (I had to avoid poison ivy).
Rural Valley

The weather was simply stunning each day we went out, and I got some fantastic pictures,  not only of the cache sites, but things we saw along the way.

 On our first cache, we even picked up a travelling companion- a very friendly caterpillar.
St. Patrick's

Since we started working on the trail, my love for geocaching has really taken off, and I have done a lot of caches myself while Hubby is at work.  But in terms of every cache on the trail, we did it together.  I could have done the last ones alone, but I really wanted this to be something we earn together.

Now I wonder what my next caching goal should be?  One from every county in PA?  One beginning with each letter of the alphabet?  By the time the summer ends, I would love to have found 100 caches.  We are at about 58 right now, so I think we can make that goal.

I am really thankful to the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau for sponsoring this.  I loved revisiting some of my favorite places in the county, and finding a few new favorites as well.
Keystone Lake

To see all the gorgeous shots I got while geocaching, check out my album here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Out of Town: Class of 2011

Wow, it's graduation time again.  All around us, high schools and colleges are going through graduation ceremonies.  Yesterday, I attended the most important of them all.


After lots of sleepless nights, clinical rotations, tests and papers, my brother Dennis has graduated from Ohio State with a Masters degree, as a nurse practitioner.  I can't even explain how proud I am.

Yesterday, my entire family went to Columbus to attend my brother's convocation with the College of Nursing from OSU.  The large graduation ceremony was held today, but it was just not practical for us all to attend that ceremony, which would last several hours, so we all attended the convocation instead.

As the graduates started filing in, to the swell of Pomp and Circumstance, I could not help but tear up a little.  Seeing the pride, joy, relief, and emotion written on their faces was simply incredible.  Watching the faculty and staff file in, and express their honor for being a part of the students lives was heartwarming.

Unfortunately, the lighting in the facility was pretty terrible, so my pictures are limited, and we got separated in the thronging crowd after, so I had to borrow a couple of my sister's pictures of my brother in his cap and gown.



After the ceremony, we got to spend some quality time with my brother and Paul. We all visited, and even went for a walk to get a nice refreshing treat for Rita's.

Then that evening there was a joint party being held for my brother and his friend from the program, Kate. We had met Kate when she came to our home for Thanksgiving, so it was great to see her again.

The party was held at an Indian Restaurant, so the food was delicious. I could not help but take pictures of it, because it was so gorgeous.


Sadly, we had to leave before the party was over, because we had a 4 hour drive back to Kittanning. We had driven 8 hours round trip yesterday, so by the time we had gotten home we were pretty beat. But you know what.... it was totally worth it.

I love you Denny, I am so proud of you!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Explorations: Allegheny Overlook, Cadogan


One of the best parts of living in Armstrong County is having so many spectacular views of the river.  Last week I spent some time checking out one of these views at the Allegheny Overlook Park in Cadogan.  I had passed this park many times, and never stopped.  But when I found out there was a geocache hidden in the park, I knew I needed to pay it a little visit.

I was not sure where to park, as there does not appear to be a designated parking lot, or if there is I did not see it, so I parked across the street and walked over.  The first thing I noticed was a large rock with the name of the park carved in it.

 It was a nice alternative to a metal or wooden sign.  The park has a couple of benches, and a little gazebo.  When I first got there, a man was eating lunch in the gazebo, and I did not want to disturb him, so I walked to the actual overlook.  While it is a little overgrown, the view is still fantastic.  And I loved all the mock orange that was growing along the bank.


After the man left, I went to check out the gazebo a little more.

It was small, with a bench inside. It still provided a nice view, just a bit further from the bank. I can see why someone would want to eat lunch here; it was lovely.

Finally, after finding the geocache, I decided it was time to head out. This is a very nice little park, and I think I will be visiting it again, especially when the leaves begin to turn in the fall. I imagine the view will be spectacular.

Monday, June 6, 2011

It Made My Day: Chico

Walmart_Name_Tag_Stock_by_FightforastupidcauseYesterday morning, we decided to take a little shopping trip first thing in the morning.  Hubby was going to Sam's Club to get tires on his car, and he dropped me off at the Walmart nearby to do some grocery shopping.  I figured by the time I was done shopping, his car would be done.  That did not go as planned.  Hubby was the 3rd in line for tires, so his estimated wait was 90 minutes.  We found this out when I was half done shopping.  So, I took my time as much as possible, but finally, I tired of shopping, and headed to the checkout.

After I checked out, I went to one of the indoor benches, and sat to read on my phone for a bit.  I was a little annoyed that we had to wait so long, but I knew it was no ones fault.  While I was sitting there reading, I was approached by a Walmart employee who asked to share the bench with me.  His nametag read "Chico".

As we sat there, he started making small talk.  And I noticed that he knew everyone, I mean EVERYONE who walked by, and they all smiled when they saw him.  I said to him, "you are the most popular man in Walmart!".  He explained that he had been a UPS driver for over 30 years, and got used to getting to know people.  Now he is retired, and works at Walmart to stay busy, but he still likes to get to know everyone.

Over the course of his 15 minute break, Chico and I discussed good food, our families, and love.  He mentioned that his adult daughters were still single, and that good men were hard to find.  So, I started talking about Hubby, and how I was so lucky to have found him.  I told him about all of Hubby's wonderful qualities. And Chico said "It sounds like your husband is a true child of God", to which I replied, "He certainly is; I am so blessed".  Chico responded, "So is he, he is blessed to have you."

Sometimes, we just need a moment like this, a moment where God is clearly reaching out to us, and showing us His love through the voice of a total stranger.  It made me stop and take stock of all my blessings, and helped me be even more determined than ever to be the best wife I can be.

Thank you, Chico, for spending those moments with me.  It truly made my day.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Movies in the Park

We are so fortunately to live within a short distance of Riverfront Park in Kittanning.  I love this park, it was the original location for our wedding before we got rained out.  I have gone to the park several times, but I know we should take more advantage of the park itself, as well as the many wonderful events held there.  Last night, we did just that.

We had toyed with the idea of going to one of the movies in the park last summer and never got around to it.  Last night, we were coming home from dinner, and I saw the screen set up as we crossed the bridge.  There were still plenty of seats left, even though the movie would be starting in 20 minutes.  We made a decision to run home, grab the doggies, and head on down.  We decided to drive, because that walk is a little too far for dogs with short stubby dachshund legs.


We got there just as the movie was starting.  It was the perfect night for an outdoor movie.  Not to warm, not too cool, and not even the tiniest chance of rain.

The movie was Despicable Me.  I knew nothing about the movie, but I have to say, Hubby and I both loved it.  We laughed a lot, and there were sweet sappy moments as well.  It was a wonderful family friendly movie.

I was terribly impressed with how well my dogs behaved.  They never fussed, and were more than happy to hand out free kisses to anyone who wanted them.  We even shared a box of popcorn with them.


It was such a lovely night, and there was a great turnout. It was beautiful to watch dusk envelop our small town, and to see the community enjoying the beautiful night together. It is moments like these for which I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thankful for... a cooking disaster

Photo credit
I pride myself on being a pretty awesome cook.  I was raised by two parents who are both fantastic cooks, and at a young age I started watching and learning.  I still call my parents for cooking advice, and we often swap recipes.  I am one of those cooks who opens the cupboards, throws things together with no recipe, and creates a home cooked masterpiece.  Of course, I have setbacks or small mistakes here and there, but rarely do I have a full scale cooking disaster.  So when I had one Monday, I had to do some pretty fast thinking.

We were staying in for the holiday weekend; most of our friends were out of town, so Hubby and I decided to do a cookout for just the two of us.  I had picked up some hot dogs, salad makings, and ground beef for hamburgers.  I noticed that ground turkey was on sale, and since I am trying to eat healthier, got some with the intention of making turkey burgers.

I should point out that I have never before cooked with fresh ground turkey, and was unaware how soft it could be, as well as the fact that turkey burgers needed and additive like breadcrumbs to make them keep their form.  I thought I could just shape patties like you do with beef and I would be good to go.  As I was shaping them, I noticed the soft, pliable texture, but figured it would be fine.  Five minutes into grilling, Hubby alerted me that the turkey burgers were falling apart and into the grill.

Unwilling to waste all that food, I grabbed a skillet and we carefully scraped as much of the ground turkey off of the grill racks as possible, and into the skillet.  I then went inside to brown the 3 pounds of ground turkey, since it was partially cooked.  As I was cooking it, I said to Hubby "what are we going to do with 3 pounds of browned ground turkey?  I hope you like turkey burritos".  At which point, Hubby got very excited.  He was ready to forget the whole cookout, and have me make turkey burritos immediately.  I convinced him to wait until Tuesday.

On Tuesday, I went to the store to get burrito ingredients.  I decided to pick up some extra canned tomatoes and some beans with the intention of also making turkey chili.  I personally do not like red chili much, so I really did not know how to make it.  I decided I would wing it.  That afternoon, I cooked up the chili, and put it in the fridge.  I hear chili is better the second day, so I made the burritos for Tuesday's dinner, with the chili being Wednesday's dinner.  Both recipes made enough for multiple meals, so my cooking for the week was done.

Much to my surprise, both recipes, which I winged my way through with no real recipe to follow, were delicious!  Since the burritos consisted of wheat tortillas, tomatoes, ground turkey, brown rice, fat free refried beans, and lowfat cheese, they were incredibly healthy as well.  Score!  And the turkey chili was also healthy, being full of fiber and protein.

I am really proud that I took one of the biggest cooking mistakes I have ever made and turned it into two delicious recipes that I am sure will become staple meals for us.  Best mistake I ever made!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Word Filled Wednesday: As the deer

IMG_8994Psalm 42:1
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.

Have you ever wanted something so bad, you felt it to the very depths of your soul?  As a child, was there a toy you wanted bad enough you would give anything to have it, sacrificing everything else, working as hard as possible to earn it?

What would you give to have your deepest wish desired?  Would you give that much for God?

This psalm talks about longing for God as much as the deer longs to drink from flowing streams.  Do you feel that same longing for Him?  I must confess, I do not always put God at the forefront of my wishes and desires.  It is simply my sinful, human nature.  I get wrapped up in the possessions and situations of this earthly kingdom, and forget about the perfection of the heavenly kingdom.  Often it takes me going through a long, rough patch of life to thirst for God as much as an animal thirsts for water.

It is my wish today that I be filled with a deep thirst for God, that I long to see Him at work in my life, and that  He become my greatest desire.