Things I Love Thursday--New Recipes

So, I'm slow getting going with this today. This week was our women's ministry salad luncheon at our church. It is an annual fundraiser that benefits a number of ministry and missions that our ministry organization supports. One of my favorite parts of donating food for something like our salad luncheon is that I can make some old standbys that are easy and I always try at least one new recipe. (We also serve hotdish (translation--casseroles for those of you that live some place other than Minnesota), bars/cookies and sweetbreads.) I especially love when a new recipe goes over well!

Anyway, the new one that I made this year was for Salted Peanut Chews. Think salted nut rolls. Must've been a hit because the moment I stepped into our fellowship hall, I was nearly tackled by one of our ladies asking for the recipe and where I had gotten it. I told her, of course, it came out of a church cookbook--where all the best recipes come from!

I thought I would share with you as well. It's very easy--I promise!

Salted Peanut Chews
1 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. soda
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg yolks
3 c. mini marshmallows

2/3 c. corn syrup
1/4 butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. peanut butter chips
2 c. Rice Krispies
2 c. salted peanuts

Heat oven to 350. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup. In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients except marshmallows until crumb mixture forms. Press in bottom of ungreased 9 x 13 cake pan.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately sprinkle with marshmallows. Return to over for 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows just begin to puff. Cool.
In a large saucepan, heat corn syrup, butter, vanilla and PB chips just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cereal and nuts. Immediately spoon warm topping over marshmallows and spread to cover. Chill; cut into bars.

**I heated the PB chips and corn syrup mixture in the microwave.

For more great things that people love, head on over to The Diaper Diaries.


Works For Me Wednesday--Cheap, Improvised Dust Ruffle

One of my DH's hobbies is wood working. It's a lot like my scrapbooking, he doesn't get much time to work on it. But when he finds time, he turns out beautiful items, like our bed frame and night stands, the crib and changing table, Princess Pigtail's bed...
I love the bed he built us, it has side rails that stretch between the head board and foot board. There are support boards that run under the box springs and rest on the side rail. When you put a dust ruffle on the box springs it gets all hung up on the support boards. I don't like how it looks with out the dust ruffle. So, I came up with a solution--use a fitted sheet. Perfect. It's really a great compromise. It hides and protects the box spring, looks nice and I was able to just use one of the sheets I had in the drawer. Which really? Can you beat free? That definitely works for me. For more ideas that work, head back over to Rocks In My Dryer!


Rose's Lasagna

Here's the recipe for the lasagna I made the other night. It is a recipe that I found in a church cookbook. It is attributed to a woman that I know was an absolutely phenomenal cook, which is why I decided to try it. It takes a little time, but OH. MY. WORD. Totally worth it.

Rose's Lasagna

1 pound box lasagna noodles
Sliced or grated mozzarella cheese

Meat Sauce:
2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped
29 oz can of tomatoes
12 oz can of tomato paste
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper

Cheese Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups milk

Cook and drain noodles. Cut mozzarella into strips.
Meat sauce: Brown beef & onion. Place in sauce pan with remaining sauce ingredients. Cook for 45 minutes.
Cheese sauce: Put in microwaveable bowl, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt & onion. Gradually add milk. Cook until slightly thickened, remove. Add cheese & cook until thick. (This is better to make ahead and refrigerate.)
Grease 9x13 baking dish. Alternate noodles, meat sauce & cheese sauce twice. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

**I did not make one 9x13. I made two smaller pans (I think that they are 4x8s). One to eat that night and one to put in the freezer for later. Consequently, I did not need as many noodles. I could have just cooked 3/4 of the box and been totally fine.

I served with garlic bread and green beans out of our garden.


Five Things

My dear friend Jill did this meme earlier in the week and I thought I would play along! Sit, back and relax, it's going to be a healthy dose of random!

10 years ago--I had just graduated from college, started dating DH, was finishing up my internship and looking for a full time job.

5 years ago--DH and I had already moved out to the farm and were commuting together to The Cities.

5 things on my list for today
1. Finish the laundry that I started yesterday--including folding and putting away.
2. Run to the church and pick up some info that some folks dropped off for me.
3. Get the groceries that I forgot earlier in the week.
4. Start the meal planning process for the next few weeks.
5. Mail Princess Pigtail's birthday party invitations.

5 things most people don't know about me
1. I am terrified of chickens. Yes, the farm animals.
2. Sadly, I have seen both Lee Greenwood and Ronnie Milsap in concert.
3. I once met Fred Grandy. You know, Gopher from The Love Boat.
4. I still keep in touch with my 4th grade teacher, Miss Duffy.
5. I participate in a fantasy football league. My team is the Rockford Peaches. :)

5 bad habits
1. Not being in the Word daily.
2. Not keeping in touch with friends as much as I would like.
3. Spending too much time on the computer.
4. Folding the laundry but not putting it away.
5. Watching too much TV. TiVo makes it so easy.

5 places that I have lived (in no particular order)
1. Edina, MN
2. Tabor, IA
3. Fairbank, IA
4. Indianola, IA
5. Eagan, MN

Have an awesome weekend. If I get back to it, I'll post the new recipe for lasagna that we tried last night. Yum.


Things I Love Thursday--Yummy Snacks

I'm a little late to this whole "organic" craze. We live in a relatively rural area and our grocery stores have very small natural/organic sections. My choices of products are some what limited. But I have been venturing into that section a little more frequently and something that I routinely pick up are Cheetos Natural White Cheddar. Cheetos Natural are part of a line from Frito-Lay that contain no preservatives, no added colors or artificial flavors. And they are certified organic. Of course, they are now a favorite around here. Big surprise. But most importantly--they are very, very YUMMY.

Before you run off to the store to peruse the snacks in your organic section, head on over to The Diaper Diaries and check out what other things you can't or shouldn't live without!


Works For Me Wednesday--Bananas

It's another Works for Me Wednesday and while Shannon is on the final day of her bloggy break, I am still going to post a tip. Next Wednesday, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for an all new Works for Me!

I've mentioned before that I really despise throwing away food. I am always looking for ways to make it stretch--without sacrificing quality or taste. One of the ways that I do that is by freezing bananas. I know it sounds odd--but really, it works. If your household is anything like mine, bananas are bought, a couple eaten within the first day or so of buying them and then the rest sit there. By the end of the week I am faced with tossing them or making banana bread, cake, muffins, etc. I don't always have the time to make it right away, but I peel the bananas and put them in a freezer safe container. Label and date it and then when I am ready, pull it out and defrost real quick to toss in your batter. It works like a charm and is an old trick that I learned from my mom. I will say that it does look a little odd and DH was mildly grossed out the first time he saw me do it. But you seriously can not tell in the end product! I swear. Here's my stand by recipe--you can make it now and freeze the loaf for later too! And that works for me. Enjoy!

Banana Bread
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup bananas (approximately 2-3 bananas, mushed)
Cream together shortening and sugar; add eggs and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture. Add banana. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.


The Tale of a Fateful Drip

When I last blogged, I was off to work on laundry and figure out dinner. Well, I did both--pulled the last bit of laundry off the line just as it was starting to rain and we had meatloaf for supper. While I was getting dinner ready, I noticed that a crack in the plaster of the kitchen ceiling seemed like it was bigger than I had remembered. Granted I don't spend a lot of time staring at the ceiling, but it did seem like it was different from before. Our home was built in 1919, so small cracks and some shifting are not unusual. So I made a mental note to tell DH. I got busy with dinner prep and forgot.

When Princess Pigtails was finishing up her dinner, she got off her chair and went to the kitchen. DH was cleaning up and sent her back to her chair to wait for her third serving of blueberries. He had washed the blueberries and carried the second serving in his hand to her bowl in the dining room. So when Princess Pigtails came out of the kitchen saying that her foot was wet, I really didn't think much about it. I figured that there were some water drips on the floor from the transport of the blueberries.

When she was done eating, I went in the kitchen. Then I saw the amount of water on the floor. It was a relatively small amount, I guess. Like a glass of water had been splashed. I commented to DH that the ceiling was leaking. DH ran upstairs. Checked the bathroom directly above. Nothing on the floor. Came back down. I asked if he had checked the sink or bathtub. Back upstairs. Opened the access panel. Hmm. Slow drip from a connection in the copper of the bathtub faucet. Hmm. Flipped the shut off on the water line. Okay, drip stopped.

Back downstairs, we put a towel on the floor to sop up the water. It was of course, bath time while all this was going on. Alternate bath plan enacted and accomplished. Princess Pigtails and The Little Man in bed. I said to DH as we are shutting off the lights in the kitchen to head to bed ourselves "What do you think about this ceiling? Is it going to crash down in the middle of the night?" DH assured me, that he thought it would be fine. It would need to dry out and then we'd have to repair it, but it'd be fine.

I suppose you can see where this is going...11:30, we are awaken to a huge crashing sound. We ran down the stairs and this is what we found in our kitchen:

Good times, good times. Anybody know a good plumber?


I'll Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

It's Monday and I'm just taking a break from the laundry to check in. My parents were here this weekend and we had a wonderful time with them. It's all Princess Pigtails can talk about--how much fun we had with Grandma and Grandpa. On a completely unrelated note--Does anyone else think the Burger King commercials are disturbing? They seriously creep me out.

I need a little help with a couple of things:
  • I'm in a meal planning rut. Anyone got a couple of old stand-bys they would be willing share? If so, please post in the comments!
  • Anyone have any parenting wisdom for handling the meltdowns of an almost three year old?
Better get back to it. I've got laundry to get off the line and a dinner plan to figure out...


Things I Love Thursday--Awesome Sleep

I must confess. I am a little of a sound spa addict. I guess it must've started back in college when we had fans and/or AC running non stop in the sleeping dorm of my sorority. The constant noise and energy consumption was necessary to maintain the appropriate air temp for a number reasons it also created the perfect sleeping environment. It was cold so three or four blankets were critical and it was quiet in a white noise sort of way. Whatever. I'm sure that doesn't make any sense but it is true. And to this day, I must have some sort of white noise by which to sleep.

Enter the sound spa. I am on my second one now. Both have been Homedics. The first one I had was small and designed to be a travel alarm. It worked really well but there were two features that I did not like. First, the sound was on a timer of an hour and I would find myself waking up when the sound shut off. I suppose it was because of whatever level of sleep I was in at the time. Secondly, the clock/alarm was hard to set. Not an issue if you don't care what time it is or what time you need to get up. If that's your life--awesome. Unfortunately, not mine. Nor was it even before kids. But I digress.

So, DH gave me a new one for Christmas. The best part of it and the KEY feature to me is that you can choose to have the sound run all night long. Perfect for me. It has six different "sounds" and an am/fm radio. It also, of course, has an alarm. Which I rarely use. It has the projection feature as well--so you can have the time up on the ceiling or the wall. This brings me to the one thing that I dislike about it. The light for the clock is ridiculously bright on dim. You could read by the glow of "bright". Seriously, I considered tanning goggles a serious option the first couple of nights. I also would ask you to use caution if you live near an airport. Pilots might be distracted. But I sleep awesome with it running. It goes with me on weekend trips and vacations. I would forgo a pair of shoes to make room for it in my luggage. We are talking serious addiction. I may need an intervention. Possibly.

For more things you really shouldn't live without, head on over and see Jill at Diaper Diaries.


A Date to Remember

I would've never guessed ten years ago when I accepted a date to see "Ever After" that it would be my last first date. DH, I can't believe that it has already been ten years! What a great decade of dates!

I love you. I'm so thankful that God has blessed me with you as my partner in this crazy life. I'm looking forward to our next ten years. And the ten after that.


Bras, Orange Push-Ups and Laundry

It's odd to me how something simple can evoke memories and emotions so quickly. This afternoon when Princess Pigtails woke from her nap, she asked if she could have a Push-Up for her snack. After I retrieved a ice cream treat for her, she snatched it away, pulled the paper off the top and then brought it to me to "get it started".

As I took the Push-Up in my hand to "start" it, I began to tell her how much I liked Push-Ups when I was little. And then the tears began to well up in my eyes and even now as I type, they are streaming down my face. The first time I remember having a Push-Up was at my Auntie Anita's house.

My dad is the youngest of eight and Auntie Anita was the closest to him in age. My dad is also one of the few on his side of the family that actually "got out" or moved outside of an hour radius of where they grew up. When I was elementary age, we lived nearly five hours away and really didn't see my dad's family much. I remember on a couple of occasions going to visit during the winter, but primarily when we went to visit, it was in the summer.

Aunt Anita and Uncle Dwight lived out in the country at the base of some pretty beautiful hills in western Iowa. Now, looking back and even returning to visit as a high school aged kid, I realize that they didn't have much, but as a child I was oblivious to that. Auntie was one of the most kind and generous people I have ever known and despite her economic situation, she was extremely wealthy. She had a family that loved her dearly and many, many friends.

Things were very different at Aunt Anita's than they were at home. They lived in the country and she would hang her wash on the line out behind their house. And although, my grandparents on my mom's side had a line when they lived in the country, I really don't remember hanging as much wash with my grandma as I did with Auntie. Maybe it was the fact that she had two teenage boys and there was just that much more laundry. They had dairy cows when I was really little. She eventually started buying a small jug of "store" milk for me when we would visit, because I just couldn't stomach the fresh milk.

Her birthday was in July. She loved to cook and take care of her family. She loved to talk on the phone. She was ambidextrous and loved to have her hair brushed. As an adoring niece, I was always happy to oblige. It meant some fun one-on-one times for the two of us. She cared so deeply about people and she had an incredible knack for making you feel as though you were the most important to her.

I remember once, sitting with her and two of my dad's other sisters in my Aunt Gardena's kitchen. They were telling me about my grandmother and most likely telling me stories of the many ways they tortured my dad as a child. I clearly remember them launching into a story about Grandma and pausing to instruct me that I must always wear a good bra--because by the end of my grandma's life "they were down to her waist". I was probably 11 or 12 at the time and was absolutely horrified and fifteen shades of beet red! Now as an adult, I'm thinking, no kidding-- EIGHT kids.

As a pre-teen, I used to get frustrated with her for sending me these little girly type birthday cards with cats or some cartoon character on them. I was way too "grown up" for such childish cards. Now, I only wish I had hung on to a few of those. Always a short little note--usually something like "Love You Lots" or "Hugs and Kisses", but always a little note. And I always knew that she loved me.

I don't remember now when she was initially diagnosed with cancer. I just remember that it really didn't seem like a big deal. She underwent surgery and treatment and she was fine. And then it came back. And when it returned, it was not fine. I don't know as much about it and the struggles she went through during treatment because I was busy. Busy finishing school and starting my working career. And meeting my future husband and getting married. And I moved to the Cities. And kept living life. She had always been there and I had no reason to think she wouldn't be. She was young and she had beaten it before--she would come back around. But she didn't.

In the spring of 2002, I made a trek out there with my mom. My dad was at a continuing education event and my parents were concerned that Aunt Anita might not hang on much longer. I hadn't seen her since my wedding two years prior. She was tired and worn. I'm sure that she knew why I was there and yet it was as if I was just stopping in to say hi. She was at my Aunt Gardena's and they were laughing and giving each other a hard time as always. She made me promise that I would call her when I got home. And I did.

She passed away later that summer. I still miss her.

I have a million sweet memories like those that I've already shared and many more like that she always had treats from Schwan's in her freezer. She was the one that taught me how to start a Push-Up by holding it in my hand for just a minute to soften the ice cream a bit and then push the stick.


Just Another Manic Monday

Here we are at Monday again, already. I'm still trying to get my brain shifted out of VBS mode and back into regular life--you know where I have to plan meals, do laundry and generally not rely on my volunteer responsibilities taking over my life as an excuse. So, back to life as normal--and there is a lot of life to get back to judging from the laundry spilling out of the hampers! I've got a couple of thing rattling around in my brain that I want to sort out and then perhaps I will mentally be ready for the week! So, here you have it. My thoughts of the morning:

Last night, we were able to finally attend the marriage-care ministry that our Lead Pastor and his wife have started. How fun. We potlucked and there was child care provided (free babysitting, anyone? Sign me up!), a short video and then some "couple"' time to go off and discuss. The video series that we are using is absolutely awesome! Based on what we saw last night, I would highly recommend it! Hilarious. Looking forward to our next session.

Tomorrow night is National Night Out. Does your block or community have festivities? Our little town has a beach party each year. We will probably head up there for a while--and besides if I play my cards right, I might just get out of cooking yet another night!

Princess Pigtails will be three in mid-September. The cut off for school here is September 1. She technically will not be eligible to go to kindergarten for three more years. But there are some openings in the preschool at our church and we are back to considering enrolling her. That would mean she would have three years of preschool--which I don't necessarily think she is going to need. I've considered exploring some other pre-k programs, but in our area there really are very few options without having to drive a considerable distance. As much as I am not ready for this all to begin, I know she would benefit greatly from it and many of her little friends from church (with earlier birthdays) are enrolled for the fall as well. So, what to do, what to do. I have decided to enroll her in dance classes for the fall. Maybe that is enough. Need to pray about it some more.

Big week of birthdays in our family: Erin, my sister-in-law, Kylie, my cousin-in-law (is that a term?), Michael, another CIL and my grandmother are all celebrating this week. Also, our friend K's is coming up soon! Happy Birthday to all of you!! I need to get some shopping done! Arg. Perhaps I can get by without another trip to Wal-Mart.

Alright, deep cleansing breath. And I'm off to do laundry and get Princess Pigtails started on her breakfast. How about you? What on your list for the week?


Do I Get a Medal?

Is there a record for how many times you can go through the check out in a single trip to Wal-Mart? It's possible that I may be the record holder.

Yesterday morning, I ran over there because there were a few last minute things that I needed to grab for our last night of VBS and ink for our printer. I was so proud of myself that I stuck to my list and only my list. I was checking out and a friend called asking if I was still in said retailer. After I confirmed that I indeed was, she asked if I could pick up some strawberries for her. So, I finished paying, and went back through to pick up the berries. Princess Pigtails convinced me that we also needed to take some strawberries home with us as well. Into the cart went five boxes of strawberries. Back to the check out.

Apparently, I'm not entirely with it this week. Because I paid for four boxes. Turned around to put them in the cart and there was the other box. So, for the third time in less than ten minutes, I paid at Wal-Mart.

Gracious. So, glad that the week is coming to a close. VBS is done and we will be returning to our regularly scheduled life. Hopefully your week has gone well and involved less time spent in the check out lane at Wal-mart than mine!