$45 Giveaway!


As you all know, we’ve had a giveaway from CSN stores on here before. Well, here’s another one! CSN stores have everything you could want, including drop leaf tables. Aren’t these things the cutest? I want one.

We got our extra set of kitchen chairs from CSN stores and they are great. What would you be shopping for? I am still browsing those dining and dreaming of the day when we can get a great one.

Want 45 dollars to buy something fun at CSN stores? Here’s your chance! Leave me a comment telling me what you would buy with the 45 dollars if you win.

Giveaway runs until 10pm EST on Halloween! Comment as many times as you would like.

Happy Commenting!

No Chocolate Chocolate Smoothie


The first time I gave these smoothies to my kids, Butterfly said, “Oh wow! Chocolate!” Sadly, there is no chocolate in this drink, but the kids just guzzle it down. It’s oh so healthy and super easy to make.

First, you start with some yogurt. I use the yogurt I make in my crock pot using whole milk and this recipe. Totally works.

Next, add some honey. I honestly eyeball the honey in my smoothie. I’m guessing it’s about a 1/4 of a cup that I add. I add the honey because frankly, that yogurt I make is not sweetened and is pretty strong! I’m sure you can use less honey if you want or omit it completely if you’re using sweetened yogurt. I just choose not to.

Then toss in some fruit. I’ve got small bags of 8-10 strawberries frozen in my freezer that work out perfectly. I also really like bananas, frozen kiwi (just skin the kiwi and pop them in individual bags in the freezer), frozen blueberries, etc. You can use any fruit you’d like. We just happen to love strawberries and blueberries here so that’s what we use the most. You can use fresh fruit if you’d like. I like using the frozen stuff because it makes the smoothie cold and have a good smoothie texture.

Now this is the secret ingredient. Spinach. You read it right, a whole huge handful of spinach. I buy it in big bunches from the Asian market here. Wash it, and break any stems off and put it into the blender. You don’t have to dry it because the extra water helps it blend together.

Next, drop in a few ice cubes. If you can.

This last step is important. Add a splash of juice. You can use any kind of juice, but I like the nectars that are a little more thick. I also LOVE to put carrot juice in here. Right now I happen to have guava nectar.

Now blend! If you find that the spinach isn’t blending down, stop the blender and push it down. You can also add another splash or 2 of juice or even milk to get things moving.

Smoothie Before it's Blended

No Chocolate Chocolate Smoothie

1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1/4 cup honey (or less)
8-10 strawberries, frozen or fresh
any other fruit you want- bananas, blueberries, kiwi (which is excellent frozen), pineapple, pears, berries, peaches
one BIG handful of fresh spinach, stems broken off and washed
one handful of ice, or 6-8 ice cubes
a splash of juice- 100% carrot preferably

Blend it up and enjoy! Makes enough for 3 full tall sippy cups of it as well as a 16 oz glass for me.

Yes, it’s brown when it’s blended. Yes, Butterfly thinks there is chocolate in it and I haven’t told her there isn’t. Yes, it’s GOOD. This is what Butterfly requested on the morning of her birthday for breakfast. I don’t have an after picture for you (I think I was tired that morning) but it’s really great. I feel good that the kids are getting their veggies in, and also their fruits and yogurt!

Today’s giveaway is a big one. First, look at this cute picture of me and my boys.


Aren’t we adorable. We were hiking with Lolli and her family in Harper’s Ferry that day. I had one of Lolli’s wraps on the front and a Ergo carrier on the back. It was my very first use of it and it was amazing. Boy do I love this carrier. It’s easy to put on. It’s easy to put the kid in. And it’s so very comfortable! I like that I can carry both boys around and still have my hands free with this set up.

Now, after having it for over 2 months, the boys scream “RIDE!!” whenever they see it. I either leave it in the car tucked under the seat (and out of sight) or I’m constantly getting it shoved in my face with little boys who want to ride in it. Juice has even carried Butterfly around in it, in all her 60 lbs of limbs. And really, the carrier can withstand up to 90 lbs so she’s perfectly safe. She even said it was really comfortable.

Do you want one? I have one to give away. It looks just like the one I’m carrying Pirate with on my back in the picture.

To enter, you must do 2 things. First, leave a comment. I love comments. Next, you have to join my blog via my cool new thing: Google Friend Connect. If you were a previous follower of my blog before, you get an extra entry! And for one more extra entry, you can tweet about it, including @safirecat so I can keep track of them.

As always, this giveaway will end a week from today.

Happy Commenting and let me know how you like that smoothie!


An Explanation


I’ve had several questions about my blog and where I got the idea for the name, etc.  I thought I’d give all my new friends the reader’s digest version of my blog’s history.  In bullet form, because I like them.

  • August 2004 I started a blog to keep in touch with our families in Utah.  Before that blog, I wrote an online diary for a company (kind of like being paid to blog now but I wasn’t paid) chronicling our struggles to get pregnant.  But I wanted something that everyone could read so I started it.  I chose the name, Living in Maryland because we were, well, living in Maryland.
  • About 2 years into that, I had several people searching for the blog with our full names and it bothered me.  I went about thinking of online nicknames we could possibly use.  I then spent about a week going through my archives and changing each of our names to our nom de plumes we have now.
  • Somewhere in between that, we began trying to have another baby.  I wanted to have a place to write about our struggles but didn’t want to go back to the online company when blogs were so easy.  I started at least 5 of them, never liking any of them really.
  • Then I had a very vivid dream.  I dreamed that Juice and I were at a party.  There was an enormous round balcony over a very loud and very large waterfall.  Juice and I were trying to catch a baby everyone was tossing around, and when I finally caught him, I jumped off the balcony into the waterfall.  To my surprise, instead of going down, I went up.  I took that as a sign that I should keep my spirits up while trying to have a baby and that one day I would have another.
  • I had 2.  Tehe.
  • I started a private blog with this name to talk about our infertility struggles.  It was the only one I stuck with.
  • 2 years later, I went to Bloggy Boot camp and decided that I was ready for a change with my blog.  Lolli and I sat at dinner trying to think of a name I could use.  She mentioned that she really like the name for my private blog, and was I willing to maybe streamline that.
  • The lights came on.  Yes!  It was perfect.  After that night, I spent several nights trying out themes in my head.  I landed on barrels and thought it would be clever.  Like people going over Niagara Falls in barrels and only sort of surviving.
  • Then I landed on the name Cooper (which is also a nom de plume) because Coopers were people who made barrels.
  • I thought it was cute.
  • A rough draft drawing, several emails back and forth with a friend, and she whips this out for me.  Very talented, very reasonable!  She’s doing a giveaway later on this week.

So there you have it. Just like links on a chain, little things come together to make awesome things.

Like this necklace.

Blue Hand Beaded Necklace

Isn’t this beautiful?!  My friend Lala of Silverleaf Creations made it by hand.  It’s an ice blue hand beaded adjustable choaker with a crystal pendant.  It also comes with matching earrings.  These pictures don’t do it justice.  It’s just stunning and one of a kind.  If you’re looking for something to get noticed, this would be it!

One lucky person gets to try it out too.  I am jealous because really, this is beautiful.  All you need to do is leave me a comment!

Day 3 Giveaway Beaded Necklaces

We have a bonus prize today also of 2 hand made earrings by Lala.  One pair is a set of sparkly heart crystals.  I have a set of these from her and I always get comments whenever I wear them.  The other set is a pair of carved ivory and blue stone earrings.  Everything is made from high quality Sterling silver and is hypoallergenic.

To enter the earring giveaway you MUST tweet about this contest and leave me a separate comment about it here.  These would make beautiful presents for your sweethearts or get you noticed in a crowd.

Thanks for all your comments this week so far!  Keep them coming!


PS- Here’s another legal disclaimer that said I’m not affiliated with Silverleaf Creations in any way other than we hula for fitness together.  I thought you guys would really like these pieces so I got them for you.

Question of the Week: Dinner


This week’s question of the week is about dinner.

What are your Go-To meals? Please include recipes/links if possible.

My go to meal is Macaroni and Cheese. The Kraft kind. Or Annie’s (the one with the bunny) if I get it on sale. We probably eat that 3 times a week for lunches. The kids love it. Pirate is not a fan of cold cereal in the morning and sometimes he eats that for breakfast. Or if they won’t eat the dinner I cook, they have mac and cheese. Very healthy, I know.

If I’m strapped for time, we often have pancakes or eggs for dinner. Sometimes we have spaghetti and meatballs. The one meal that I know I can count on everyone eating is pasta with goat cheese. It come from my favorite cookbook, “The One Armed Cook“. I seriously use this book at least 2 times a week for super fast, easy, and tasty meals.

  1. Pasta with Goat Cheese Sauce (or pink pasta as Butterfly calls it)

1 jar (2 cups) of spaghetti sauce
4 oz goat cheese

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. In a medium pan, heat up the spaghetti sauce. Cut the goat cheese into chunks and add it too the sauce, stirring the whole time until cheese is melted. Serve over noodles.

See? Super easy. We have it with bow tie pasta noodles because that’s what Butterfly wanted one day. Now we can’t have this meal with out it. The boys LOVE it and inhale as much as their little tummies will hold. It is really tasty. I like to sprinkle some parsley over the top of mine and add a little garlic. With bread and a salad on the side, it makes an amazing meal in about 10 minutes.

One of the sub-questions of this week’s question is:

Do you have picky eaters? How do you handle it?

Yes, I have ONE picky eater. Professor loves anything with sauce, but will only eat the sauce. He will eat noodles on occasion. He likes hot dogs, butter, chips, and crackers. Oh, and ANYTHING sweet. Cakes, cookies, ice cream, yogurts, whipped cream, etc. Anything else is flat out refused.

I try very hard not to stress over his eating. He’ll eat when he eats. It’s not like I can cram food into his mouth and make him eat it! Then he won’t eat anything (yes, I have actually tried) and cries for a long time after that. So I offer him what the rest of us are eating, and take it away when he tries to throw it on the floor.

This could be the reason why he is several pounds lighter than his brother, and also several inches shorter. I do worry about him and not eating enough through out the day. But seriously, I can’t force him to eat things so I really just don’t make a big deal out of it.

This summer, my goal is to make smoothies a lot at home (he will drink those) and add things like spinach and avocado to them to get him more veggies. To get them ALL more veggies.

When I have time (and Juice to help me out) I love to make a big meal. Today for Easter we are having ham cooked in the crock pot, home made rolls, steamed green beans, roasted asparagus, salad with home made ranch dressing, parsley potatoes, and fresh strawberries for desert. Yummy!