Outer Banks: Day One

After a full day in the car yesterday, we were all feeling a little lazy this morning. Since this going to be a relaxing vacation, we decided to spend the day at the house.

The definition of chill

The kids were in and out of the pool all day, with brief interludes in the hot tub. You would think that since I work at Walmart, I would want to avoid the place on my vacation, but I made two trips in one day.

Tony loved their fishing selection

My husband had to be dragged from the fishing department. Given that this is the OBX, and fishing is a huge sport here, they had a lot more to offer than our local Walmart in Ohio. We also picked up more dinner options and a few things small things for the house. Trip two was later that night because we ran out of a local wine I had tried and loved.

Sunset from the hot tub

The adults were in and out of the hot tub all day, with alcohol since it was a house day.

Could we have done more? Yeah, but we have all week to be busy, so relaxing needs to be done too!

Busy Life, Happy Life

I’ve really been slacking off on blogging lately. I hate myself for it, just a little bit, but it’s happening for a good reason. A year ago, we were sitting at home, like we always did at the end of the day, doing nothing. Watching TV, kids maybe playing with their toys or tablets, but it was a whole lot of laziness. 

We decided to make a change, well I did. My son was already in boy scouts, my husband as assistant den leader, so my daughter became a daisy scout (that’s the first level of girl scouts) and I got roped into being a co-leader.

Next step was some kind of physical activity for the kids. Chiara has always loved dancing. Since she could walk, if music is on, she was swaying to it. So she was signed up for ballet. It’s been a year and one recital and she still loved it! 

Arthur is not one for sports. My sweet boy just doesn’t have the coordination or the patience for it. I know martial arts are really good for developing  those, so he has now been taking those classes for a year.

Arthur taking martial arts led to me following up on a “help needed” at the dojo, so now I also teach kickboxing twice a week. That’s been a slightly crazy addition to my schedule, but it is really helping me tone up. Double win as it usually pays for Arthur’s karate.

The reason I share all this is because I’m going to start incorporating some of my girl scout experiences into the blog and I didn’t want to startle anyone. There will be mention of crafts and yummy snacks, so it will still be fun! Prepare yourself!

This Crazy Life

Normally during the summer, I’m good about blogging. This year however has been crazy.

Aside from my normal 40 hours at Wal-Mart, I’ve also picked up a second job, teaching kickboxing at the dojo where my son takes karate. It’s usually two or three nights a week, but covering vacations has added a lot of extra days. We also took an early trip, immediately after school let out, to visit the in-laws in NY and pick up my husband’s new parts truck to bring home. We were only there four days, then came back for Chiara’s dance recital.


The recital, her first, was amazing. She loved dancing on stage!

Two weeks later was Tony and I’s 10th anniversary. Hard to believe it’s been 10 years already, but it’s been a great decade. We celebrated with our friends Jenna and Alan, who were celebrating five years married, by going to see Phantom of the Opera at Playhouse Square. A very grown-up night out, and it was fabulous.


Dressing up for a night out doesn’t happen very often, so it’s fun when it happens!

The next weekend was the Brunswick Summer Celebration and 4th of July. This means a day of fair food, rides for the kids, fireworks and a parade. It’s a big hit with the kids every year, and this year was no exception.20160702_170746

Chiara’s favorite ride is the ferris wheel, which she rode many times!

Weekend after that, our summer was scheduled weekend by weekend, was another book signing in Boonsboro, MD. My geocaching buddy, Mark, went with me on the five hour drive to meet Nora Roberts, again, and get more geocaches. He especially enjoyed visiting Antietam. The battlefield was amazing to see.


This is Sunken Road, where 2,200 soldiers died over a few hours on the bloodiest day of the Civil War.

Arthur had an early belt testing at karate because he was going to be out of town for the scheduled belt testing, he earned his blue belt. Then my parents came to town for a long weekend, mainly to take care of vehicle registration, then they went home, taking my kids with them.

You would think that things would slow down with the kids out of town, but the following weekend, I received word that my Aunt died of a brain aneurysm. Sudden, out of the blue, and beyond shocking. This meant a trip to KY for a funeral, home for a week, then off again on our scheduled vacation.

Disney was a fun filled week, which is going to be it’s own series of blogs, but now we’re home, and school starts tomorrow. *sigh* We’ve never had such a busy summer!

Pin the Lego Head


Ah, nothing like a good Pin the _______ on the ________ game. Arthur’s birthday theme this year was Legos. Good times!

I consider myself a creative person. Thanks to Pinterest and having kids, I have had a chance to embrace this fact about myself. I am not, sadly, an artistically gifted person. Meaning, I can’t draw a stick figure to save my life! For this game, I enlisted the help of Tony, my much more artistically inclined husband.

I wanted a bigger game base than usual, meaning I couldn’t print this picture off. And my printer broke, which always happens around birthday time. Tony took my construction paper stash and, using a Lego mini figure as a model, made the pieces to form this game base. He then made me several blank Lego heads.

When the kids arrived at the party, they were given crayons and told to decorate their Lego head to suit themselves.

At game time, I attached tape to the back of the head, blindfolded the kid, spun them around and let them go. This game is always entertaining. Watching the kids laugh at and encourage each other is so much fun!

Happy gaming all!

Other pinning games:
•Pin the Flower on La Muerta
•Pin the Nose on Olaf
•Pin the Lightsaber on Yoda

Reviewing Policy

I am a reader by trade. I may work for a living, but reading is my passion. I read many types of books, primarily romance, but I love a good action adventure or even a young adult books.

If you have a story that you would like me to review, you can:
-leave a comment on my blog and I will contact you
-e-mail me at stephanie_desantis@live.com
-or find me on Facebook: Stephanie DeSantis

I’d love to read and review your book, contact me and I’ll get started! If the book is available in digital form, please include the link in your correspondence.

Hot Starbucks Butterbeer


Ready for a sweet shot of deliciousness? This is the drink for you!
Start by taking a trip to your local Starbucks and order the following:

Grande whole milk steamer
2 pumps caramel syrup
2 pumps toffee nut syrup
2 pumps cinnamon dolce syrup
Top the drink with salt, caramel and whipped cream.

If you prefer a tall drink, order 1 pump of the syrups. If you want a venti drink, order 3 pumps each.

This drink is very, very sweet. It startled me at first, but I liked it enough to go back for more since then. It is, sadly, a Christmas time drink, as the cinnamon dolce is only available during the holidays.

For other ways to enjoy Butterbeer:

Cold Starbucks Butterbeer
Homemade Hot Butterbeer
Homemade Universal Studios Butterbeer

Try the Grey Stuff……. It’s delicious!


This is a pin that I’ve only recently pinned and it looked scrumptious (maybe I should say delicious?)! Then on Girls Night, Emily, our hostess made some. The picture above is actually the stuff she made. It is super rich and super yummy! Don’t overindulge, savor.
My recipe, which was very similar to the one she used, came from this site.
To make this amazing desert, all you need is:
•1 regular package of vanilla pudding (not family sized)
•1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk (I used 2%)
•12 Oreos (not double stuffed)
•1 8oz tub of cool whip
•2 or 3 tbs of chocolate pudding mix
•sprinkles or edible pearls (optional)

Start by mixing your milk and vanilla pudding mix, then refrigerate while you complete the next step:


Use a food processor, or just smash them manually, but grind up your Oreos until you have a fine powder:


**Side note on how important it is to read directions:12 Oreos, not a package. My Grey Stuff, while still yummy, was definitely brown.**

Combine your Oreo dust and vanilla pudding, mixing well. Mix in your Cool Whip, I pulled out my hand mixer at this point because my Cool Whip was still a little solid. Slowly add your chocolate pudding mix, stirring as you go, so hopefully yours will be grey instead of brown!


**The picture does make it look grey, but trust me, brown!**

Refrigerate for at least an hour, then serve up on brownies, or just in a bowl like pudding, which is what my kids call it, decorating with sprinkles or pearls at your discretion:


All in all, delicious! And who knows, maybe next time it’ll be grey……

Happy dining!

Summer Fun

Family Photo Time

This has been quite the busy summer. Not bad considering that I’ve been working all summer, albeit on nights. Third shift makes it so much easier to do stuff with the kids or as a family. It was a sad reason to go to Jersey, but while there for a funeral, we took a little time out to get this great family photo taken. Anyone who has seen my blog about our Victorian Photo shoot knows that I love pictures like this!

Playing in the Ocean

Of course you can’t go to the beach without playing in the ocean. Of course we didn’t bother with suits, just hopped in, clothes and all!

Movie Night

We’ve enjoyed a couple of evenings / afternoons with our friends, watching movies or just hanging out. I also enjoy these visits because I can take pictures of Madison and Arthur together, stockpiling them for there future engagement……

IMG_2744 IMG_2711 Metroparks Day

One of the great things about living in the greater Cleveland area is the Metroparks. Hundreds of acres of wilderness, just waiting to be explored. The kids and I spent a day exploring different parks, even finding a hollowed out “castle”, right in the woods!

20150702_213908 Summer Celebration

We enjoyed the Brunswick Summer Celebration also. It is so expensive to go to fairs or festivals anymore, but thankfully, it only comes once a year. We splurged on the wristbands for the kids this year and we definitely got our money’s worth.


Of course with all the schools and parks right here in town, we also spent some quality time playing on different playgrounds. This is good on two levels; the kids can run off their energy and mommy can sit and read her book!

Magic Time

The kids spent some time with daddy, trying to learn how to do magic tricks. Tony got the Chris Angel Magic Kit for Christmas a few years ago, and it just never gets old. Chiara kept saying he was “lying to her” when the trick was explained.

Bubble Time

We’ve had these glow-in-the-dark bubbles for over a year now and we finally got them out. Chiara had been begging to play with them and sadly they only glow for one night. The jar of bubble solution glowed a really pretty purple, but sadly the bubbles were barely visible in the dark. I will say that they looked really cool with the camera flash though!

Girl's Night In

I also had the chance to enjoy a girl’s night in with some friends of mine. Wine, sweets and chick flicks. What more do you need in life? Nothing like staying up late with alcohol and watching stuff like Magic Mike!

Zoo Trip

We haven’t gone to the zoo much this year. It’s a big change from two years ago when we were at the zoo every week. Tony has taken the kids once and I’ve taken them once, but it’s fun every time. If only the Cleveland weather would be at least a little consistent!

Birthday Party Fun

We attended a first birthday party for a co-worker’s daughter. Surrounded by people who’s first language is Albanian, it was quite an experience, especially the food! The kids of course had a blast, enjoying water guns and just running amok. We also had a chance to visit a new part of the metroparks. Tony really loved that one, longing desperately for his mud-mower!

Splash Pad

Most recently this summer, we enjoyed a day at a local Splash Pad. Another great thing about Cleveland, there is always something to do, you just have to know where to look. We joined Jenna and her kids for a long afternoon of water fun. There was also a nearby playground, so the kids had a blast!

For not making any specific plans this summer, we’ve managed to stay quite busy. I know the kids have been enjoying it! And to think, we’re only half-way through…….

Clothes Pin Caterpillars

My dear friend Jenna recently made some clothespin caterpillars with her kids. Check out her crafty-ness!

Salamon's Salamanders ©

The kids and I went to the dollar store last weekend because I was in the mood to craft. We picked up some puff balls, paper plate animals (which we will make soon) and some sun catchers to paint. This weekend was my step mom’s birthday so the kids and I made her caterpillars to put on her plants.

You will need:

A glue gun
Pipe cleaners
Puff balls
Clothes Pins

Our supplies Our supplies

I had the kids each make two and pick their puffs. Five fits well. I lined them up in front of the clothes pin and then I put a single layer of glue down.

photo 2

Puff balls in place. Waiting for the kids to pick out the eyes and antennas Puff balls in place. Waiting for the kids to pick out the eyes and antennas

Then the kids picked out their eyes and antennas.

all lined up! all lined up!

Finished product! This is fairly simple. The kids were a bit disappointed that…

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Chocolate Caramel Pie


I have a feeling that this would turn out better in a different kind of pie plate, but oh my goodness, it is so delicious! I got the recipe from here and they had simple directions, my favorite kind!
What you need is:
•bag of Oreos (36 cookies)
•1 cup butter
•2/3 cup brown sugar
•1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
•12 oz bag of dark chocolate morsels (I used Hershey’s)

The crust is made by mashing up the Oreos and mixing the smashed cookies with 8 tbsp of butter.
We smashed them with a wooden spoon before putting them in the Magic Bullet


Chiara loved smashing the cookies!
Once your mashed up cookies are well combined with the butter, press the mixture into your pie plate, original blogger used a 2″ torte dish and hers was much prettier than mine! My crust was also a little mushy because a certain little girl kept stealing my Oreos! Once your crust is pressed, put it in your freezer for 10 minutes so it can set.


Ready for the filling!
For your caramel filling you combine the brown sugar and 8 tbsp of butter over medium heat, whisking until it’s well combined and boiling. Continue whisking your boiling mixture for about a minute then remove from heat. Whisk in 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream and ensure the mixture is smooth.
Let your caramel cool about 15 minutes before pouring into your crust. Put it back in the freezer for 30-45 minutes to let it set, but not freeze completely.


Caramel ready to set.
Last step is to make your chocolate topping. Bring your remaining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to a simmer then pour over your chocolate morsels. Let them sit for a few minutes and then go to town whisking until it is a smooth mixture. Pour over top of your caramel and return to freezer to set yet again.
As I made my pie the night before, I placed mine in the refrigerator overnight and it was perfect the next day.
When your ready to eat, sprinkle some sea salt over the pie for a nice little kick.


As I said, my crust was a little mushy, so the pie didn’t slice that well, but as previously stated, super delicious!
Happy dining all!