Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wonderful Weather

This whole month has been pretty amazing - as far as Wisconsin weather goes.  I mean, I remember in years past the month of May being colder than it has been this month.   I keep holding my breath and wondering when it is going to catch up with us - will we have a super cool summer, or perhaps Al Gore is right after all (heavens, I'll jump off a cliff if he is), and global warming will make us have a "tropical" summer.   Either way, for now, I will thank God that He has given us such lovely weather and warm winds.  I can see the green coming out in the grass.  Birds are singing.  Daffodils are almost blooming.  My boys are shooting pretend animals in the yard.  Yes, spring is here!
Noah brought this old shoe string in to me that he found in the yard - it was dangling in his fingers and he held it in front of me because I was distracted.  I screamed - I have a fear of anything that remotely resembles a snake - and it scared him.  I had to convince him it would not hurt him so he would pick it back up and take it outside.  
He recovered from the scare pretty quickly.  I keep hoping the devilish look is all just part of being 2!

This is how my baby looked last summer.  They just grow up as quickly as the seasons change!

Monday, March 29, 2010


I get so bored with my regular potato dishes.  I love potatoes but it seems like I run out of creative ways to fix them.  I saw this idea about baking a potato, smashing it, add some toppings and then completely finish baking it - but I have no idea where I saw the recipe.  So, I made up my own version of it from memory and my own ideas.  It turned out really well and if only I would have had my bag of picnic bacon by Hormel, it would have been fantastic!

Here's my smashed potato recipe:

First, I baked some small to medium sized potatoes in the microwave until they were almost done.

Then, I used my handy-dandy Pampered Chef tool - no idea what it's called, but I love it.  You could use any potato masher or large fork to do the same job.  I gave the potatoes a quick smash to open them up, but not completely break them apart.

Then top them with your favorite things - I melted some I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (which is a total lie - you can tell it's not butter), and drizzled it on top, then added some seasonings like salt, chives, pepper, then of course I added cheese.  Like I said, bacon would have just put these over the top, but I was fresh out.  

Then I put them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or so.  It made the skins crispy and they were so delish!  I can't wait for our garden to yield some new potatoes this year.  I think these would be great little appetizers if you made a tiny version.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I have a confession to make.  There are some days my boys almost literally drive me over the edge of the thin sanity cliff I'm on!  I mean, they are 3 and 2 years old and for the most part, they are good kids.  However, I have found that ages 3 and 2 have stages that I think are meant to toughen up a parent and give them an early view of what the teen years can be like!  They can be stubborn, bull-headed, and down right difficult - especially at 2 a.m. when he (who shall remain nameless) cannot find his froggy and does not want to go back to sleep until we find the froggy.   Some days I feel I am too old to deal with all of this and then. . . . . . . . 

they fall asleep. . . . . . and I look at their innocent faces and thank my God that He blessed me with these two little wonderful human beings.
Ever feel like this, or am I really on the edge of insanity????

I won't even go into how I feel when my teens are being difficult - we'll save that for another day =).

Monday, March 22, 2010


I found this recipe here on Recipezaar quite awhile ago.  I was not sure I would like it, but I've found with a few adaptions, it is one of our favorites.   First, let me say that I make my own taco seasonings.  I have all the ingredients readily available in my cabinet, and I do not add any preservatives or salt, so it is healthier and tastier.   I also make my own ranch dressing, which I also found of Recipezaar.  You can find that here.
I turned them into more of a nacho recipe rather than tacos just because I don't like biting into tacos-they crumble and break and end up as nachos anyway, so why not save the trouble and start off with chips.

I would like to show off some of my pottery.  This is a triple server made by a great friend of mine, Marie.   I originally put this on my pottery wish list many years ago because I thought it was cute - I just love the handle.  I had no idea how often I would really use this. It is great for "Mexican nights" and is great for serving different kinds of salad dressings, or even for your salad toppings. 

This is a bowl of my homemade salsa - or I should say the Pioneer Woman's salsa - sorry.  I make it so often I sort of think of it as my own.  You can find that simple easy recipe here.  


Saturday, March 20, 2010


Easter's on its way!  Do you remember that song?  Dan sang a line of it to Levi and now he asks me to sing it all the time.  The only part he can remember is "hip hop Easter is on its way".  Too cute.

I've been working on the boys' baskets.  We do the whole Easter Bunny hiding the basket thing along with coloring eggs, leaving carrots out, etc.  I'm a big fan of tradition and this is what I did as a child.  I remember one year when I felt that my mom was lying to me about the bunny bringing our baskets, that I left a note for the Easter Bunny asking him to please sign his autograph on my note.  I figured I could compare my mother's handwriting to the autograph and really know she was "lying".   Well, mom was one step (or hop) ahead of me and apparently used her left hand to write "Easter Bunny" on the paper.  It sure did look like a rabbit used his paw to write it and so for one more Easter, I believed that a rabbit really hid my basket! 

Levi's and Noah's baskets are so easy to fill - too easy, I might add.  I have to stop myself from buying all those little things for fillers - bubbles, crayons, paints, matchbox cars, and of course candy, etc.  So much fun for so little money.  Tyler's and Tanner's baskets are a different story.  What on earth can you buy teenage boys from the $1 aisle????  I picked up some large candy bars, Jr. Mints, and I will probably get them a gas card or car wash dollars from the local convenience store.   I have to say that Ty and Tanner are such good sports about the whole pretending the rabbit is coming and all.  They hunt for their baskets just like the little guys and play along with it all.  I truly am blessed with such great boys. 

Here is a bucket I found at the Target $ aisle.  I personalized it with my Cricut for a certain girl who's coming to visit us this week.  I filled it with some cute things and a little bit of candy.  I hope she likes it.

Sooooo Smooth

I love smoothies!  Fruity, creamy, slushy, low-cal, and not so low-cal - they are all good.  Here is my latest concoction.  A blueberry/Greek yogurt smoothie.  For those of you who have not tried Greek yogurt - it is awesome.  At least 16 grams of protein per 6 ounces.  I lack protein in my diet, so this is great for me!  It is a bit pricey in comparison to other brands, but Yoplait makes one that sells at my grocery store and I found a coupon on Coupon Mom for it.  Plus, no one else really eats yogurt in my home (although Noah does like to share this smoothie with me), so I can justify the cost a bit more.  Also, one of these drinks is very filling, and I usually drink it in place of a lunch.

I use a 6 oz. container of the fat free plain Greek Yogurt, about a cup of frozen blueberries (Aldi's has them at a great price), and about 1/2 cup of low fat milk.  Mix it in a blender with some sweetener (or a bit of sugar if your children are going to drink it), and there you have a 4 point drink that is very satisfying, filling and healthy!  You have a serving of fruit, milk, and lean protein!  Now go and mix it up!


Fossils - "the bones of the dinosaurs that they left when they fell in the mud".  That's Levi's definition.  Not bad for a 3 year old!   I found this idea on a blog and please forgive me, but I have no idea which blog right now.

First, you need to have your kids wash their plastic dinosaur toys. This is important in my home because some of my dinosaurs have been around for about 15 years!    I have to also add that a certain 18 year old helped with this project!  Some things you just never outgrow!

In a food processor, mix 1 stick of softened butter, 1 1/4 cup flour and 3 T.  sugar until it becomes "crumbly".  Then form it into a dough log.  I had to put mine in the refrigerator because it was a bit soft.   Then I cut slices - about 1/4 inch, and the boys (all three of them) pushed various dino parts into the dough.  It was a lot of fun.  I baked them at 325 for 15 minutes or so.   The blog site also suggested dipping the bottoms of the cookies into melted chocolate - a mud look!   

Easy fun for my dino lovers!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Weird title, I know.  I heard a bartender ask someone this on a movie once when I was a child and it struck me funny.  In fact it rings rather true when you learn about the effects of alcohol on your body, etc., and it is probably true in my case being that I drink diet pop.  It is bad for you, I know.  I try to limit myself to drinking it only on special occasions, or when we eat out.  However, lately, I find I want one at least once a day as a pick-me-up, a treat, or something sweet with no calories.  It is a struggle!

My good friend, Shari, who looks fantastic since she has met her goal and works out on a regular basis, gave me this "recipe".  Could not be easier!

Take one can of Diet Dr. Pepper (okay, this is Diet Dr. Thunder, but it works just as well), one box of devil's food cake mix and 2 egg whites.  That's it!  Nothing more!   Mix it up and make 24 cupcakes out of it.  Use a dollop of FF whip cream on top and you've got yourself a piece of chocolate heaven for only 1 point.   
I was using up my Christmas cupcake papers =)

How does it taste, you ask??  Well, let's just say that all the guys in my house liked it until I told them it was a WW recipe.  Dan won't touch them now and Ty has avoided them. Tanner, though eats 2-3 each night when he comes home from school.   True, I would rather have something gooey, chewy, fudgey and loaded with sweet buttercream icing, but that's the kind of thing that got me into this size of jeans I now wear, so let's just move on, shall we??

Shari also suggested using a diet strawberry/raspberry pop with a white cake mix - that sounds interesting too.

Thanks, Shari for your support and your great ideas.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I've been decorating for spring and for Easter and it really makes for a cheery home.  I found this cute letter/memo wire holder at a local thrift store for about $1. 

Then, I added some moss (which I hot glued onto some cardboard so it would not be too messy), stuck some ornamental grass and daffodil silk flowers in, added a cute bow, and ta-da. . .  a cheery spring time arrangement.



Well, I can't say for 100% sure that he's ready, but I'm really tired of buying diapers!  So, I'm going to bite the bullet and try my best to get Noah trained!

I found some good rewards today at the grocery store.  The Nerds were on sale for .75 cents because they were left over from Valentines.  I threw away the Valentine card part and kept the little boxes of Nerds.  Then I found some colorful Easter candy corn.  

Each time Noah uses the potty successfully, he gets to pick a treat.  Levi feels he must have a treat also, although I'm not sure why.  So, if Noah picks the Nerds, I split the box between him and Levi, and if he chooses the candy corn, I give them 2 pieces each.  That way, everyone is happy and it is one less diaper I have to change. 

I have to say that there are few things cuter than a chubby little guy in his new "big boy" pants!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I have used this recipe for years and I honestly don't have the recipe book anymore and I have no idea what the actual recipe is called.  I may not even be following it correctly, but the final result is good, so that's all the counts in my mind.

Round steak, when on sale, is relatively cheap.  I buy the leanest looking cuts I can find and trim the rest of the fat off.  I pound the meat with a bit of flour on top then, I sear the meat on both sides.  I transfer it to my stoneware pot, add some sauteed peppers and onions on top, some salt and pepper.  I use a bottle of chili sauce mixed with about 1/4 of the bottle of water.  Mix that up and dump on top.  I also throw in a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce.  Then I cook it on a low heat for 3 or more hours, depending on the thickness.  I comes out tender and very flavorful.

Any suggestions on how you cook round steak????

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I thought you'd never ask!  If you were amazed by the pan, and I'm sure you were :-) . . . . . this is going to make your mouth water and have your mind figuring just how many miles you have to run to justify eating this!  Trust me!   Cookie Dough Brownies (aka Two-Tone Fudge Brownies) from Taste of Home is one dessert that will have all the ladies (and some of the men) asking for the recipe!

Who doesn't love cookie dough?  Honestly, I know the whole raw egg thing is gross, but once it's mixed in, I forget it's in there!  I heard on the Rachael Ray show that the salmonella poisoning is because of the ecol i on the OUTSIDE of the shell and NOT on the inside, so if you soak your eggs in warm water with a cap full of bleach, it will kill the bacteria on the shell.  That being said, this version of cookie dough is totally safe as there are no raw eggs in it.  I sort of consider myself a cookie dough expert, and I have to say I cannot tell the difference.

Here is the recipe:
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
cream together:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Add the melted chocolate chips to this, then mix in:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Bake at 350 in a 9x13 pan for 16-22 minutes.  Cool.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar

3 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips.

Now, I ALWAYS double the cookie dough layer - seriously, it makes it so much easier to spread it on top of the brownie base and makes a nice thick layer of the "good" stuff.  Plus, if you feel the  need to eat some, there is still plenty left for your dessert - not that I've ever done that or anything.  Just a thought!
I would have shown how they look after they've been cut, but these were for our potluck. . . .  and now they're all gone!


If you've never seen these pans, prepare to be awed and amazed!  I bought this pan a few years back when my nephew was selling these for a school fund raiser of some kind.  I hate most fund raisers, but this one was a good one!  The pan with the lid cost about $36 - not too bad really, considering that it is a pretty good quality and I use it a lot - it sure beats the $16 cookie dough that makes about 3 dozen cookies!  ugh!

We have a lot of potlucks at our congregation, plus add in any family functions throughout the year and this pan gets used a lot.  It has my  name on both the lid and the pan. It is my official "leave the house" pan, as I hate taking my pottery or my stoneware out of the house as it can be broken more easily. You can choose from a number of colors and designs.  Check it out here. The company is called "That's My Pan".  They also have serving utensils you can order with your name on too!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Diet Pitfalls

Things I must avoid while dieting:


Peanut butter on a spoon

play dough
of any color!

The first two are my down falls - the last one, well, I just thought it was funny.  Just ask Noah now what he's NOT supposed to eat and he'll tell you - PLAY DOUGH!

Please help inspire me - what are you cooking this week??????


Tuesday, March 2, 2010


This was a fun, crazy week.  Here are a few highlights:
The grandparents brought games, toys, and clothing.  This was also our Christmas with them!
There were lots of dinosaur things.

Daddy, Pa pa, Levi and Noah built a snowman.

Levi and Noah threw snowballs at Grandma.  It's a good thing she was a good sport about it.

We made a cake for Grandma's birthday.  In case you are wondering, Levi decorated this!  He put the plastic flies on it to "scare grandma".

The boys had fun with Pa pa and Me Maw (or Graham Cracker as they call her).

Tyler worked a lot and of course, he had classes each day.  Tanner is shopping for a Mustang, and Pa pa went shopping with him and Dan.   It was a memorable experience, to say the least, as the hood flew up and smashed the windshield while they were test driving it, then, the top part of the hood just flew completely off and they had to leave it along the side of the road as it did not fit in the trunk.  The search continues. . . .

Oh, good times with the grandparents.  Memories. 



I am so behind this week.  My parents have been visiting and we've been enjoying their visit so much, that I don't have time to blog.  Actually, I have been doing a lot of cooking and dishes clean up, but little else.  It is nice not to do housework for a few days.  I'll have to hit it hard again tomorrow.  I hate it on the day that my parents leave - it is so sad and quiet in the house.  Tomorrow will be better - but for now, I just have to get through the day. 

Here is a cute little wooden sign my parents made for me.  I have it hanging in my kitchen.