Category Archives: 7 quick takes

7 Quick Takes: A PSA, a home remedy, DYI, a library must-have & the Big Fibber

                                                 My Public Service Announcement

Well, after Pio’s accident I was freaking out about our basement door. Every time I turned around someone was forgetting to close it inspiring nightmarish visions of a repeat performance. I made three trips to two different big name hardware stores and purchased two different door closing devices, but all that merited us were holes in the door.

My mother owns a rental building and the law in her state requires that all the entrance and exit doors from each apartment close automatically, so I knew there was a simple device to accomplish the mission of kid-proofing our doors. Thankfully, my husband put an end to my city by city wide search and found the solution on Amazon. This simple spring fits over your existing hinge (no holes required) and voila!

Now the basement door closes magically as soon as you let it go. It works so well we added one of these awesome springs to our mud room door (now the dog can’t push it open every five minutes) and to the back door. My kids may still act like they live in a barn, but now at least the barn doors get closed.

                                                            My Home Remedy

Okay, this isn’t actually MY remedy like I invented it, but everyone in Brelinskyville knows garlic is my go-to cure-all.  Whether it’s a fever, a sinus infection, an earache or a bad cough my best line of defense is the garlic poultice. HERE is a handy visual on making a garlic poultice. I most often place the poultices on the soles of our feet and then simply slip a pair of socks on top. For the bigger kids, Mr. B, and myself, I generally insist we drink the garlic water that is left over after soaking the paper towel with the crushed garlic inside. A note of warning the water is VERY spicy and you will stink a bit, but for the tougher ickies like infections I reason it is worth grinning and bearing it.

Because I didn’t learn my lesson the first time, I got poison ivy AGAIN (just as round one started to clear up). In my blind fury to rid my yard of weeds before our upcoming party, I grabbed a lovely vine of the itchy stuff and thought, “Ut oh!” Yes, I attempted to wash the invisible residue off, but apparently it was a fail. I awoke the next morning to a forehead dotted with tiny bumps. Not really sure garlic was a remedy for this, too, I gave it a shot and applied a poultice directly on my head. Here I sit 2 days later scratch-free on the parts I applied garlic to (I left my legs alone for comparison and for that I’m sorry).



Our family room is one giant space which houses an office, a playroom, and an entertainment area. The space needs to be both comfortable and functional. As NFP teachers, we also use the space to host classes so I’d rather that the playroom portion not overrun the whole room. Using furniture placement and a little creativity, I think I’ve achieved my goal.

the view of our family room at first sight

the playroom section

what’s really going on behind that couch
my hubby’s office space camouflaged behind a home-made partition


                                                           Another DYI: extra seating

This seemed like a no-brainer, but it took me a few years to give this hope chest a second job. I really don’t like have too much furniture, so the items that make the cut generally serve more than one purpose. Mr. B and I bought this hope chest (used) pre-kids and it has faithfully held our extra blankets and stuff for years. When I was rearranging the family room recently (rearranging/swapping furniture is a cheap way to renew your space every few years), I decided we needed an extra spot to plant little “seats.” I touched up the finish on the old chest, added a cushion and here ya go.


                                               One More DYI: Umbrella Stand

We have a badminton net that has been relocated at least half a dozen times. The tie-downs it came with have long ago disintegrated and who knows where the metal anchor pins ended up. Since I am all about being frugal and making things last a LOOOONNNGGGG time, I asked my handy hubby to make something more permanent but also easily movable. With a few 5 gallon buckets (we own more of those than any normal person needs), pieces of PVC pipe and a bag of cement, he created these great stands for our nets and our porch umbrella. They are heavy, but that keeps them firmly planted upright and they aren’t so heavy that the big people around here can’t move them when necessary.

the PVC pipe is cemented in the center so the umbrella can be slipped in and out


                                            A Book That I Must Have for My Library

A few months ago we attended the annual Ignited By Truth Conference in Raleigh, NC and we were privileged to hear Jennifer Fulwiler speak. Ms. Fulwiler, of Conversion Diary blog, has now penned a book about her conversion from atheism to Catholicism. My 12 year old daughter was so taken by Ms. Fulwiler that she has been asking to purchase her recently published story, Something Other Than God.  Don’t tell my daughter, but I am planning to put this purchase on top of the to-buy list come pay day.


                                                             The BIG Fibber

If you need evidence to secure a conviction than my 5 year old hasn’t got a prayer. This little ball of energy and wit keeps us ever wondering and sometimes worrying. So, when I heard another ruckus just the other night I was expecting anything from blood to broken bones. I reached the dining room just after Daddy managed to rescue the said child who’d been hanging by an arm and a foot from the second floor railing.  No less than 100 times we have implored, forbidden and begged him not to slide down the banister. On this evening, our threats came to fruition as his sliding feat turned dangerous when he slipped too far over the side. The ridiculous thing is that he insisted we (all nine of us) were wrong because he was NOT sliding down the banister. He had no other alibi than to
 promise he had definitely not flung his leg over the rail. I submit the following picture of my crooking painting and Happy BT R Y sign into evidence (not to mention the testimony of his father and siblings who found him hanging on for dear life).

Same child, different day…my daughter runs in screaming (or was she just talking ’cause it’s hard to tell the difference) that her little bro has just taken a mud bath. Fast on her heels he arrives crying innocent. Um, yeah, we’ll turn to the evidence again and let you decide.

For More Quick Takes by great blogger, check out
7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about winners, 100th birthdays, blue blocking glasses, and my desperate need for Youtube recommendations


7 Quick Takes for Combating Cabin Fever

ideas to pass the time when you are stuck inside with the kids
Got cabin fever? What can you do to break up the day when you are stuck in the house? Here are seven quick ideas to chase away the winter blues.

#1. Bake up some fun. Pull out your cook book and make a cake, brownies or your favorite cookies from scratch. Perhaps, a loaf of fresh bread would make a nice compliment to tonight’s dinner. Or throw together a few extra meals to store in the freezer in anticipation of some late nights when you won’t have time to cook.
Brownie recipe
(after I discovered this recipe I never bought another boxed mix again)


1C (2 sticks) butter 
1C all-purpose flour
2C sugar
4 eggs
¾ C unsweetened baker’s cocoa
2 tsp vanilla extract 
½ tsp baking powder 
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease/flour a baking pan and set aside. (The other reason I love this recipe is that all of the mixing takes place in just one saucepan, so the clean-up is minimal.)
In a heavy saucepan, quickly melt the butter, then remove pan from heat. Add in sugar and vanilla, stir. Add eggs one at a time, being sure to mix each in completely (be careful the mixture isn’t too hot because you don’t want the eggs to cook). Mix in the cocoa (I use my hand whisk for this) and then the flour, baking powder and salt. 
Pour into the greased baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. I like my brownies super gooey, so I take them out while the center is set but still soft. I tried these in a mini muffin pan and got perfect brownie bites (cooked for just 15 minutes).

Try this tip:
If you’re going to make your favorite cookie dough, why not just double the recipe and store half for another day. Just wrap half of the raw dough on a sheet of wax paper (forming a log in the center) and fold as you would a burrito. Then, wrap this log in a sheet of aluminum foil, mark the outside with the name of the cookie and place in freezer (you might need to place the log on a cookie sheet when you initially put it in the freezer but after about 30 minutes it should be hard enough to store without the extra support). When the day comes that you are ready to bake this portion, simply pull it out of the deep freeze, thaw for an hour, open, cut into pieces and bake.
#2. Pull out those extra cozy blankets and build a fort 


fun things to do when you have cabin fever
apparently one Brelinsky isn’t having loads of fun
#3 Raid the bookshelf or movie stockpile for some oldies but goodies that haven’t garnered any attention in a while. Then, sit down and read together or pop-up a big bowl of popcorn and have a family movie night.
#4 Collect paper, pencils, crayons and scissors. Design a few Valentine’s Day cards or birthday cards. See who can create the most elaborate snowflake cut-out or write a love note to a far away friend.

#5 Go play outside. Bundle up in your warmest mittens, hat and coat and spend a little time romping in the snow. Use a stick to sign your name in the slush or draw some silly faces. 

#6. Sip some hot cocoa or a snow shake.

Hot cocoa recipe:
fun in the snow with snow shakes Fill a jar with these two ingredients- 3 parts sugar to 1 part baker’s cocoa
Optional: add a bit of cinnamon to taste
Shake all dry ingredients up well
Fill a mug halfway with hot water (or hot milk) and spoon in the mix by the tablespoon, stir until dissolved. If you opted for the hot water, you will want to add milk to finish filling up your mug (otherwise your hot cocoa will be too thin)
Snow shake recipe:
Fill up a cup to the top with snow, then add milk (until it reaches about 1/3 of the way up) and sugar (by the teaspoon, to suit your taste), stir together. You can also add either a pinch of baker’s cocoa or a squirt of chocolate syrup.

#7. Play a game.Try a board game or card game (think War or Go Fish). Set up nine plastic cups in a hallway and bowl them over with a soft ball. Need to get your parts moving? Try a little Simon Says or Hokie Pokie.