Little Pumpkin

Two years ago, my dad spent the day with Princess Pigtails. That was their play day and my mom and I went shopping. My dad and Princess Pigtails went to the pumpkin patch, to the park to play, out to lunch...they had so much fun. So, a couple of weeks ago my dad suggested that he would like to take both kids (bless his heart) and do the pumpkin patch, etc. There may or may not have been the promise of shopping for my mom and I.
We picked last Friday as the day for the outing. Friday, my dad took both kids and headed out. Apparently my baby boy is terrified of large amounts of pumpkins. Dad said The Little Man was fine until he was out of the truck. Once out of the truck, my dad set him down on the ground and fit began. The Little Man screamed and cried. And screamed some more. Needless to say, I do not think that he enjoyed himself. What do you think?


Just a Little Patience

I would have never guessed that it has been over a month since my last blog post. It has been a crazy full month and why the blog has been so neglected.

We are currently battling the same gunk that it seems everyone has. It started a week and a half ago with The Little Man randomly waking up with a fever and has essentially been non-stop since then. Princess Pigtails is the last victim and has missed two days of school because of it. I sincerely think I am going to go stir-crazy if we don't kick this stuff soon.

The mudroom is finished. Every detail (I think) is complete. I am so pleased with the results and frustrated that we didn't do this project years ago. So much better use of the space. I'll post some pictures soon.

The biggest news around here is that we have decided to put our house on the market. It's not a decision that we took lightly or made easily. We've been talking about the possibility of this for quite some time. And now the timing feels right. Our hope is that we will be able to move closer to DH's work, which will in turn put us closer to family. Please say a prayer for us that it goes smoothly, quickly and favorably. I am nervous, scared and excited all at the same time. I know that God has a plan in all of this and I am trying to relax in Him. Patience is not necessarily a virtue that comes easy for me.



Happy Birthday, Princess Pigtails! In four very short years, you have made life more full. I love you so much my heart aches. You are simply amazing and have taught me so much! Thank you for allowing me to slow down and see life through your eyes. I am blessed to be your mama!
Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!


Weekend Recap

What a weekend! We filled every moment of the weekend to the brim. We accomplished much and are finally so very, very close to the finish of the mudroom. It looks really good and I am so excited! DH has done an awesome job! I'm so happy that he has the skills and abilities that allow us to do much of the work ourselves.

Other high lights: Saturday night found us out for dinner with the kiddos and let me just say, the whole experience was so great! The kids were absolutely amazing. I am encouraged that there is hope to enjoy dinner out with the family. Sunday we had the pleasure of enjoying a BBQ with some great friends from church. It was so much fun! Great conversation, good food and beautiful weather. What a night. We've got to do it again soon.

I have been on a mission to find a bike for Princess Pigtails' birthday--which is next week! How on earth is it already the middle of September? Anywhoo the bike search has been incredibly frustrating, but I was finally able to locate one on Sunday afternoon. There was much rejoicing! Who would've guessed it was be so difficult?!

So that's the scoop around here. What about you? What did you do over the holiday weekend?


Death by Chocolate

Have I got a recipe for you! Oh. My. Seriously. Unless you are not a fan of chocolate. Then, my deepest sympathies because you are totally missing out. I sincerely believe this may become my new ace-in-the-hole recipe. You know the super easy recipe you save for just the right occasion. Although, perhaps I will adopt it as my new signature recipe. Hmm...perhaps I will have to make another time or two before making that commitment. Be warned of it's super addictive-overly chocolately goodness. If you are a coffee drinker, you might want to have a cup or five close by. Heaven help us.

Double Chocolate Cookie Bars
24-30 chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos)
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Set aside 6-8 cookies. Grind/crush the rest in a food processor. In a small bowl, stir together cookie crumbs and melted butter until well blended. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
  • Over a double boiler (or in a MICROWAVE), melt 1 c. chocolate chips together with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir frequently until smooth. Spread over crumb crust evenly.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cup of chocolate chips over the top. Break remaining cookies into pieces by hand and sprinkle over the top.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes in preheated oven.
  • Chill completely before cutting to serve other wise it will make a big mess.


Well, I promised two weeks ago that I would be back to my regular bloggy schedule soon. So I guess I am back, as I am predictably unpredictable about my posting.
We had a great summer, filled with lots of fun memories. Hopefully I'll get a few pictures posted soon. A trip to the zoo, a fun 4th of July with great friends and family, vacation Bible school at church...the month of August has been full of trips back and forth the state of Iowa to visit family. And then this last weekend, I went to Des Moines for a girls weekend with some of my best gals from ye ol' college days. It was glorious. Those ladies are forever friends--you know the ones that you can just pick up right where you left off. (I am fighting the urge to launch into the chorus of Michael W. Smith's "Friends"...) I just wish the times for us to get together weren't so far apart. Lots of thanks and love for DH surviving the entire weekend with the kiddos. There was some drama and lots of laundry, but they all survived. And I am grateful!


Excuses, excuses

I really didn't intend to take most of the summer off from blogging. Just like I didn't plan to take part of spring off. But it just is how it goes. Trying to find a balance and establish a routine. I am heading to Iowa today but when I get back I'll try to get on a regular schedule of posting.
See you soon!


Things I Love Thursday--A Tasty Snack

Everyone love a tasty snack, right? Have you tried Wheat Thin's Toasted Chips? Oh. My. So yummy. I'm not sure why they are called chips, because it really is more of a cracker, but certainly not your average cracker (or chip for that matter). I bought the Garden Valley Veggie variety a couple of weeks back to go with an olive spread that I had made for a party. Just bought opened another bag the beginning of the week for an alternative snack for the kids. The bag is nearly gone already, because once they are opened, we can't stop eating them! There is also a multi-grain variety that I am sure is equally tasty. And would be great for one of the BBQs or picnics you are heading to this weekend! Enjoy!
So, there you have it. Something I love. Head on over and see Jill at The Diaper Diaries and see what others are loving! And have a fun and safe 4th!


Techy Tuesday

It's hard to believe that it is Tuesday again and time for me to get right to the Techy Tuesday highlight. This week's item is something I fought especially hard not to have. For some reason, I thought that it would be a complete nightmare. I don't know why. Seriously, I have no idea why I was so against it. I am totally rational like that.

This spring we, and by we--you know that I mean DH, painted our two side doors, which truly are our main doors) and changed out the hardware on both. You see, last fall we put in new screen/storm doors and the hardware on those was a brushed nickel. The existing hardware on the exterior door was brass. Certainly not my choice. It also helped that part of the dead bolt was starting to stick. I just couldn't stand it. And the doors needed to be painted. So, we painted the doors and put on new hardware. I gave into the whole electronic key pad and I am soooo happy. Again, why did I fight it so long? There are several different brands/types of keypads out there. The one that we selected is a Kwikset Smart Key. I love the way it looks and the super cool part is that you can easily rekey it yourself with their little tool. In fact DH rekeyed it upon installation so that the keys already on our key rings worked. (The old hardware was Kwikset as well.) Nice. Didn't even have to swap out keys.
Other features that I love:
  • It's beautiful. Beautiful.
  • I can lock it as I am leaving by just pushing the button. I don't have to fumble with keys while making sure the kids don't fall down the steps and juggling the diaper bag, my purse and whatever else I have in my hands. Quick. Easy. Push the button and I am on my way. So wishing that I would have had that while hauling that baby carrier/infant seat around. That would've made my life so much easier.
  • You can program it for a temporary code or rekey it instantly yourself so if there is contractor that is coming by or your neighbor is bringing in your mail while you are gone, you can give them access and then change the code or rekey it when they no longer need access.
  • The key pad is back lit with one touch so you can easily see it at night if you fail to leave the porch light on or if it is, ahem, burnt out. Not that I would know anything about that.
  • The interior has a little light that flashes red or green so you know immediately without even walking over to the door if it is locked or not.
  • Did I mention it's beautiful?
So, thank you, DH, for once again making my life easier. My apologies for not wanting a key pad earlier. I loovve it!


Sweet Summertime

Here's how I know summer is here:
1. Staying in jammies until mid morning or later.
2. The kids have had hot dogs off the grill for at least one meal nearly every day for the last week.
3. The purple kiddie pool has made it's way to the yard.
4. A pitcher of Kool-Aid in the fridge.
5. The peonies are in bloom. That is truly the signature of summer if you ask me.

How about you? How do you know it's summer? Are you enjoying it?
Publish Post


Things I Love Thursday--The Pampered Chef

A while back I did a post about my love for the smooth edge can opener by The Pampered Chef. Which got me thinking about how many of the kitchen utensils that I love and use frequently are actually items from The Pampered Chef. Let me say that I am not a demonstrator. I am not affiliated in any way with The Pampered Chef. I am simply a happy customer that is consistently pleased with the quality and utility of their products. That being said here are my "top 10" favorite items and most frequently used.

In no particular order:
smooth edge can opener
bamboo spoons
large batter bowl
small batter bowl
large serving spatula (the perfect spatula for cookies or lasagna)
mini serving spatula (the go-to for serving bars)
Measure-all measuring cup
Mix 'n scraper
small Mix 'n scraper
rotary grater

What it takes to make my list of favorites:
-These are hands down the items that I reach for with every recipe or meal that I make.
-Easy to clean--I run all these items through the dishwasher.
-With the exception of the rotary grater and can opener, I own multiples of all the rest. Seriously. I use them that often.
-Durability. I have owned similar utensils purchased through other venues. And replaced them with items from The Pampered Chef.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget or utensil (from The Pampered Chef or not)?

Go check out what other people are loving! Visit Jill over at The Diaper Diaries. You'll be glad you did!


What's Cooking? Wednesday

As you know, I am a little bit of a cook book/new recipe junkie. I love trying new recipes! Frequently when visiting some where, I'll fill a few quite minutes by flipping through the cookbooks that reside there. Of course, at my mom's or grandma's I'm usually digging through their recipe files--the tried and true that I have missed when digging on previous visits. The thing about the recipes I am most often drawn to, is the ingredient list. The ingredients need to be items that I frequently keep on hand, know I have on hand or that I can easily pick up at the local market here in the sticks.
When the kids and I were in Ohio to visit our sweets friends, I took time one afternoon to flip through a few of Jill's cookbooks. I found a few recipes that I am so anxious to try. The first one made it's debut on Monday night. It was quite tasty. I did a little improvising based on what I know our family likes and the ingredients on hand...

Alabama Style Pork Tenderloin
3 cups OJ
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons dried rosemary (I subbed a little thyme)
3 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate
1 1/2-2 pound pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon flour (all purpose)
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced (I omitted this)

Combine OJ, soy sauce, garlic, rosemary and lemonade. Divide in half. Place half in a zippered bag, leave half in the bowl and set in fridge. Slice tenderloin into 1 inch pieces and place in bag with marinade (I used a 9x13 pan and just turned the meat every once in a while). Fridge for several hours or overnight.
Heat oil in a skillet. Place marinated meat in the skillet. Brown on both sides. Remove from skillet and drain. Place flour, onion, peeper and tenderloin in a plastic bag. Shake. Pour in to a 9x13 pan. Pour over remaining reserved marinade from fridge. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
**I actually just browned on the stove and then baked it in the 9x13 on a 350 degree grill.


Techy Tuesday

DH is a bit of a tech geek. Not in a tape his glasses and wear a pocket protector kind of way, but in a super helpful, trying to make our life better sort of way. He has suggested many solutions over the years that I have not always gotten immediately on board with. Ahem. But he is persistent. In honor of his persistence, I intend over the next couple of weeks to high light a few of his suggestions and additions. In every instance, after installation, I have wondered how I lived with out it to this point. Why do I doubt him some times?
This week, I give you...The motion sensor light switch.
Do you have one of these? If not, you need one. It is so nice. DH installed one in the new pantry closet--which is perfect. Since nearly every time I open that door I either have my hands full going in or coming out and sometimes both. The switch is on a timer that you can adjust. Where ours is installed the motion of the door triggers it on so no frantic waving of your arms like many of the motion sensor switches in the public restrooms.
We had one in our old house in the laundry room--again a situation where most times my arms were full when I walked through the door way. Love it. You can buy one at most home improvement stores. Ours have all come from Home Depot.
What room in your house does the light tend to be left on or that you often are fumbling with the switch when you have your arms full?


Spring 2009

Sharing some random moments from around here this spring...
The Little Man was not so impressed with his first time swimming...
Ready to hit the Zoo...
Princess Pigtails up close and personal with the penguins...
Three generations:Some of the best pizza we've had in recent memory, Zio's Pizzeria in Omaha...The Little Man enjoying his slice at Zio's...Yum!Princess Pigtails with my grandparents at my niece and nephew's birthday party:
The Little Man and my cousin's son, Cason...On a jet plane, heading to Ohio...
Finally made it to Young's Dairy in Yellow Springs, OH...The Little Man, Our friend, K, and Princess Pigtails...Feeding the goats at Young's:Princess Pigtails and K...This picture just makes my heart happy...My friend Kari and her family stopped by this weekend...seriously, had it really been 8 years?Happy Father's Day, DH! You are a fantastic father to our kids...on a side note, I have no idea what Princess Pigtails is doing with her hand here, but this is the best of the pictures I got. She has her grandmother's innate ability to close her eyes every time the camera snaps. :)So there you have it, in pictures a bit of what we've been up to lately. Hope you had a great spring and that your summer is off to a good start!


Here I Am

Hard to believe that it has been well over a month since I last posted. I'm not really sure where this spring went, but it is gone. We've been busy the last month. Some highlights have been:
  • Mother's Day in the homeland with my parents (DH went to South Dakota hunting...that's a story for another day)
  • a trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha with family over Memorial Day
  • birthday parties for family on both sides and for a family friend or Princess Pigtail's "best friend" (as she informed me yesterday)
  • a big trip (airplane and all) to Ohio last week for me and the kiddos to see some long time friends
  • early childhood community education classes this week for Princess Pigtails

Our favorite babysitter, Heather, is home from college (yeah!!) so we've had a sitter more the last month than in the last year. I've made a couple of kid-free trips to the grocery store (it's the little things, isn't it?) and DH and I even had a date night this week. Summer is off to a great start.
I have tons of pictures to sort through and when I get through those, I'll post a photo journal of spring and summer thus far. Until then, I'll leave you with a new recipe from Gooseberry Patch...it's perfect for these warm summer nights! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Fudge Pie
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
9 oz. graham cracker pie crust
1/2 cup cashews, chopped and divided
1/2 cup jar fudge topping, warmed
Garnish with whipped topping, additional warmed fudge topping and chopped cashews.

Combine PB and honey; stir in ice cream. Spoon half of ice-cream mixture into pie crust; sprinkle with half of cashews. Drizzle half of fudge topping over cashews; spoon remaining ice cream over top. Sprinkle with remaining cashews and drizzle with remaining fudge topping.
Freeze about 8 hours or until firm. Garnish with whipped topping, additional warmed fudge topping and chopped cashews. Serves 6-8.

Two things: pay attention to the amount of ice cream you are using. I completely spaced out and used a half gallon instead of 1 quart. Lucky for me, I had bought a second crust, so I ended up with two pies out of the deal. But really didn't intend to make two. Secondly, this says it serves 6-8, but it is really rich so I cut the pieces pretty small. More realistically, it probably serves 10-12.


I Rocked It

Every once in a while I make a meal that was just, quite simply, great. Don't you love how humble I am? Ha! I feel it necessary to broadcast it, because it seems lately that I've been in a rut. I've been having difficulty coming up with ideas or the motivation to plan!
So, the menu last night? Coconut and Almond crusted salmon, candied sweet potatoes and Prairie Brown Bread. Yum. Have you had Prairie Brown Bread? You really must make it...Seriously.
Here's the recipe...go now, make it for supper, you won't be disappointed. Promise.

Prairie Brown Bread
4 C. Whole Wheat flour
1 1/3 C. all-purpose flour
1 qt. buttermilk
2 C. brown sugar
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Thorough mix all ingredients, pour batter into greased bread pans. This will make 2 large loaves or 4 small ones. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (if making small loaves, check after 40 minutes) Remove from pans to cool.

So, yummy. Great with salmon or chicken. Perfect with a salad! Makes two loaves, so make one for supper and pop the other in the freezer for a quick meal later!


My Dream Job

All my life I've wanted to be a stay-at-home mama. I guess you could say it's my dream job. It's just what I've always wanted to do once I had children. I am certain that it is my calling for this time in my life. I've not been more certain of anything. Although, there are days that are so difficult and frustrating that I question whether I understood correctly!

I've been home full time for almost four years now. I've learned a lot about myself during the last four years. I am proud to be home with my children. I am blessed to have the opportunity and I realize that it is not a possibility nor a desire for every mother. I understand that. For our family it is the right choice at this time and I ask that you respect that.

The same four short years have also given me an education on how society perceives a stay at home parent. It has been very interesting. Many people are supportive and encouraging. I appreciate that. Some are not so supportive or encouraging. Please don't imply that I am some how less empowered or single-handedly setting back women's lib because I am not currently working "outside the home". Or that I am at home with my children because I am for some reason unemployable. Please don't assume that I am able to take on endless volunteer roles. Those assumptions are hurtful. If you don't understand my role right now or know that it wouldn't be the right choice for you, I still ask that you respect it. I am proud to home with my children. I am college educated. I had a professional career prior to children. My life experiences have prepared me to be a mom, an advocate for my children, my family.

Parenting is difficult. Challenging. Extremely rewarding. Heartbreaking. Exhausting. Most parents need more encouragement than they let on. So bring on the stories from the trenches. Bring on the coffee and play dates. Lament about how different it was "back in the day". I love to hear those stories-those experiences enrich me and encourage me. Sharing those moments help me to feel connected and a little less like an island. And these days I desperately need to feel connected to adults, to community. Believe me.

25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:25


Glorious News!

"After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." 8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." Matthew 28:1-10 (emphasis mine)

Christ is Risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!


No Ordinary Friday

"Six hours. One Friday.
If it really happened... if God did commandeer his own crucifixion...if he did turn his back on his own son...if he did storm Satan's gate, then those six hours that Friday were packed with tragic triumph. If that was God on that cross, then the hill called Skull is a granite studded with stakes to which you can anchor.
Those six hours were no normal six hours. They were the most critical hours in history. For during those six hours on that Friday, God embedded in the earth three anchors points sturdy enough to withstand any hurricane.
Anchor point #1-My life is not futile.
Anchor point #2-My failures are not fatal.
Anchor point #3-My death is not final."
--Max Lucado, Six Hours One Friday, page 24 and 25

My life has been full of distraction. Full of blinding frustration and laced with continual failures. Those failures never seem more large than during a Lenten journey. Especially on Good Friday. Yet the hope, the message of salvation and forgiveness never more real. Easter is coming! A resounding reminder that my failures, my continual sin, my humanity are being put to death every day. Praise God for his mercy!

May this Friday be a Good one for you! Be encouraged--grab hold to the anchors of the cross! Easter is coming!!


Back to the Grind

We had a great weekend. It is always so fun to catch up with friends, make new friends, relax a little, and wonder how we ever had the stamina to make it through college!! I staged my own mini-reunion a few girlfriends on Friday night and that was absolutely awesome to see those ladies. I wish that I would have had more time with them! We will definitely have to do it again very soon. Huge thanks to my parents for taking care of the kids so we could enjoy the weekend.
There was essentially a blizzard yesterday morning that tore through the mid-section of Iowa. We had the pleasure of driving in it. Actually, I'm glad we left when we did, because although the driving was very tough, we were able to get north to my parents'. The interstate was closed shortly after we came through. Gotta love a blizzard in April. It was 55 degrees on Saturday. Blizzard on Sunday. Awesome!
Getting back to the routine was a little rough this morning. Princess Pigtails has been on spring break from preschool for two weeks. Although I've missed having those few hours twice a week, it was fantastic to not scurry around in the mornings. I'm not too proud to admit that there were a couple of mornings we were still in our jammies at 10a (or later). It was a nice break. Needless to say, getting everyone dressed and around to be out the door at 8:45 was tiring. And difficult. But we made it!
Hope your weekend was fab as well.


And We Are Off!

Just taking a quick break from cleaning the kitchen and packing the suitcases! We are heading out tomorrow for a fun weekend at DH's Alma Mater. My awesome parents agreed to take our kiddos for the weekend, so we are heading to hang out with some great friends to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his fraternity's local chapter! Looking forward to catching up with old friends, meeting new ones and bonus--it's our first weekend together sans kids since the arrival of The Little Man! Woo-hoo! Have a fantastic weekend. Rest, relax and enjoy!

Got Milk?

I've been busy thinking up things I can make that will use nearly a gallon of milk that is about to expire...There is nothing more annoying to me than to throw out food. Leftovers are one thing--I really try very hard to get through those or cook smaller amounts to limit the amount of leftovers--but unopened food? What a waste.
Normally, I would just do some baking and make short work of it, but we've been dealing with a house of sickies (again). We are also getting organized to be gone for the weekend. No time for baking so, this week I've made:
  • Pancakes--the ultimate go-to meal here, breakfast for dinner. Made a double batch, added some blueberries. Froze the remaining pancakes for quick breakfasts down the road...
  • Baked Custard--a childhood favorite of mine. Yum.
  • Milkshakes--a treat with burgers and fries!
I've got probably about 2 cups left. I'm thinking homemade pudding...we'll see if I get to it. Not being wasteful--that's something that I love. For more ideas, pop over and see Jill at The Diaper Diaries.


The Mudroom Part 2

Because the mudroom is a converted porch, it has always been kind of an awkward space. It is long and narrow. It had closets and cupboards on the entire north wall which was great for storage but contributed to an incredible amount of wasted floorspace. Or perhaps the issue was more that I was uncertain how to best utilize the space that was available.

We have taken the space and divided it into three spaces. A room that will eventually be at least a half bath but for the time being will be an office cubby. There will be a small walk-in pantry. And then the larger room for a more formal entry to our home. Because, although it is a side door, it is the only door anyone uses and the house needed a more welcoming and defined entry area.

The new wall dividing the office cubby and the pantry:

We chose laminate wood flooring for this space because of the durability and the abuse it will take. Fingers crossed that it was the right choice.

The entry area:
We would like to do some sort of bench with coat hooks or cubbies along this wall. Still discussing the best configuration and design.

Bead board on the ceiling and crown molding to echo some of the details found else where in our home. Here's a little closer look:

Remaining to-do list:
  • install the doors
  • purchase hardware for the doors
  • measure for trim and window casings
  • purchase supplies for trim and casings
  • paint and install trim and casings
  • paint front door
  • figure out configuration of bench/coat cubbies/cabinetry for north wall


My Little Birthday Boy

The Little Man,
One year, already? This year has been full of so many sweet moments. I love your smile, your belly laughs and that you are my snuggler. I love to watch you play with your sister and how quickly you are learning ways to pester her. Your little voice melts my heart. Your mushy kisses bring tears to my eyes. You are a precious blessing that has made me a better person. And I pray, a better mom.
I love you, Buddy.

The Mudroom Part 1-The Demo

I've been promising for awhile now that I would post some pictures of our mudroom/back entry remodel. I must preface this post by saying that this remodel has been long overdue. We've wanted to do something with it for a long time. Just never could figure out what so we waited. And waited. And waited. I can't believe that I don't have a full on "before" picture of it's former glory but here are a few. I am sure that you will quickly get the idea. Prepare yourself for a hideous display of faux wood paneling. Here we go:

Northwest corner:
Looking back toward the side/front door after the formerly "white" carpet was ripped out:

Northwest corner after demo-ing the closet, cabinets and paneling:I am certain that this was a former open back porch that was at some point in the mid 60's enclosed and converted into a more functional back entry. Needless to say when it was enclosed they did a lousy job of insulating and this room has always been freezing in the winter. I am glad we were able to take it all the down, insulate well and replace the drafty windows.

Fun thing about demo-ing all the way down is that occasionally you discover that doorways have been moved somewhere along the line.

The Little Man is waking up from his nap...I'll be back with more soon!


More Rambling...

I'm sorry.

I have no excuses. I really did not intend to leave that last post sitting out there so long. I apologize in advance for the bloggy whiplash you are about to endure.

Are there topics or things you'd like to see me blog about? Questions for me? A give-away? More recipes? More endless rambling? I'd like to know.

It's been an absolutely crazy couple of weeks with two consecutive weekends of birthday celebrations because The Little Man? He turned one last Friday. I can not believe how fast the year went! When I have a minute I will pull the pictures off the camera and post a few here. Promise.

Monday marked the beginning of a two week hiatus from preschool. This week was parent teacher conferences and next week is spring break. It may actually be a miracle if I survive this break. I have not been the mom I want to be lately. This week has only highlighted it. I've been short tempered. I've been unmotivated. I've been undisciplined. I've been struggling with some feelings of resentment and frustration.

I know that I have yet to post pictures on our mudroom. I will get to that as well. Some time soon. I hope.

I hope that the last couple of weeks have gone well for you. And that spring has sprung in your corner of the world. Ours not so much. Cold. Windy. Snow flurries. Ugh.


Open Letter to Local Business

Dear Local Business Owner,
I adore that you have hours posted that you don't keep. It thrills me to no end that I have made multiple trips uptown to give you business or complete our business transaction, only to find the lights off and the door locked. I truly appreciate that you agreed to complete some work for me, I paid you the small sum with the understanding that the work would be done by a certain date and it was not. It made my week that you asked me to come back when you failed to meet the timeline you set. I love that there is no way to leave a message for you as you apparently do not have voicemail or a machine. It is inspiring to me that apparently your customer base is so broad that you do not need my referrals or repeat business. I am grateful for reminder that my business or satisfaction as a customer is not important.
I am indebted to you.
The Mama


I Let Them Help

Ever wonder what the end result of having a three year old and a five year old grease bread pans would be? Wonder no longer:

LOVE it! Princess Pigtails and her friend JK helped me make banana bread yesterday. Oh, my word. Who knew so much fun could be had "mushing" the bananas and greasing the pans?!

We've already established that I have some control issues so aren't you proud of me for not being a control freak about this? It was tough, but those girlys had so much fun it was totally worth it!


Confessions of a Magazine Junkie

I have confessed here before that I am a bit of a magazine junkie. I am a sucker for the slick paper and beautiful pictures. It takes a great deal of will power to make it through the check out lane without purchasing one or five. Serious will power. It's not so much the celebrity gossip that gets me or the fashion mags that draw me close. It's the perfectly accessorized mantle. The deliciously glazed chicken and couscous. The vibrant photo spread of a Victorian rose garden. As I flip through the pages, I sit and soak up the inspiration and dream. Dream of how beautifully my mantle would be decorated if only I had a mantle. I savor the thought that some how, some time I will learn to be a more adventurous cook. And I can fixate on the rose garden of my dreams--you know one that will maintain itself! It is my escape. I love printed media for that reason. There is some thing dreamy about running your fingers over the slick paper. The intoxicating photo journalism and the creative journey that can be sparked by a single photo. It is transforming to me.
I have subscribed to many, many magazines over the years and Lord knows, drug many, many more home with me as stowaways in my grocery sacks. But there has been one magazine that I have always received or picked up nearly my entire adult life. Country Home. My favorite. The one magazine that I couldn't wait to flip through, time and time again. A standard go-to gift subscription. Last summer I finally parted with 10 years of back issues in my efforts to purge the clutter around here. I wish now that I hadn't.
I learned shortly after the February issue arrived that Meredith Corp would no longer be publishing my beloved magazine. The March issue would be the last. Did I mention that my subscription was paid through 2012. I think it would've been better not to know ahead that the March issue would be the last. Really. By the time that it actually arrived I had built up in my brain all that last issue would be that I was disappointed. And bitter. But mostly disappointed.
I know that there are thousands of decorating blogs and e-zines out there. I know that I could get transported to another place by a means other than printed media. And I do frequent many of those blogs. And while I am inspired by many--I often find myself feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. I want to create an inviting and warm place for my family and friends. I want my house to be beautiful and comfortable. Somehow the perfection or results are less intimidating to me when I am gazing at a photo spread that I know was done by professionals for a publication. I can reason with myself that real houses don't look like that. Then in a matter of clicks, I can see that many real houses DO in fact look like that. Sigh. The reality of my lack of talent in this area stings.
I have been notified that the duration of my subscription will be converted to Family Circle. I am sure that is a fine magazine. But Meredith Corp, if you are listening: Family Circle is not the same. It's not the same AT ALL. And I am annoyed. And I am wondering what is going to fill this void. But mostly I am annoyed.

**I promised Jill that I would post some pictures of our mudroom project and progress. So that is my goal for the week. Keep me accountable!!**


Questions for You

Things I am wondering about:
1. Why is it necessary to explain on the package of Cottonelle that 12 double rolls of toliet paper is equal to 24 single rolls?
2. Why is it that no matter how exhaustive my grocery list is I still get home and the very next meal I try to prepare--we are out of key ingredients? Why? Does this happen to anyone else?
3. Do you decorate above your kitchen cabinets? What do you have up there?

Just an update on the kiddos--The Little Man now has whatever virus Princess Pigtails had the beginning of last week. I thought Princess Pigtails was on the mend but she woke up this afternoon from her nap complaining that her ear hurts. Ugh.

Hope you had a great weekend!


It's Noon and I'm Ready for Bed

It is one of those days. You know, where you would happily crawl back in bed, pull the covers over your head and sleep until tomorrow?
Princess Pigtails was awake this morning at 4:30 with a fever of 103.3 and coughing, coughing, coughing. All attempts at settling her and getting her back to sleep were futile. Apparently no number of trips to the bathroom, sips of water nor any amount of Motrin was going to convince her that 4:30 am. was an inappropriate time to be awake. Awesome. I was able to buy a few more short minutes of sleep by winding her music box (which is actually an ark...but I digress...). But 5:15 am. found me snuggling a clammy, feverish girl and her glass of orange juice and reasoning with her about why she wasn't going to school. We were both disappointed, for different reasons, but equally so. I have come to really enjoy the few hours I have on Monday and Wednesday morning while she is at school. It is a chance for me to work on a few things around here, catch up with girlfriends, get the rest of my day organized. And today was warm weather day/beach day at school. A day to wear summer clothes and sunglasses and pretend you are at the beach all in the toasty confines of our preschool building, obviously, because, well, we live in Minnesota and it is February.
By 6:00, The Little Man had determined if no one else in the house was sleeping, he was not going to either. Fantastic.
I really thought the morning was going to be fine. Really. Princess Pigtails was content to just relax in the chair, The Little Man played well and then went down for his morning nap. Really, it was going to be fine. Princess Pigtails was coloring at the dining room table. And it was then that morning began to melt down. I am not entirely sure how it began but there was sassing, yelling and lots and lots of crying which landed her in her bed. The screaming all the way up the stairs led to the waking of The Little Man and it was then that fully realized the day was shot. Princess Pigtails did fuss herself to sleep and took a two hour nap, but I'm guessing that may be it for the day. Did I mention her fever and that she has been up since 4:30? I know that God redeems even the worst of days, but right now things are not looking good for the home team. Thankfully tomorrow is a new day, filled with new mercies. Praise God for a new start, another chance to get it right! And thank God for his grace which is sufficient!

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22&23


Weekly Recap

Another crazy week is in the books. Here's a few of the highlights from the week that are still rattling around in my brain:

Had a great time at my friend Lisa's Tastefully Simple party. Probably spent too much money but I really love their products and I enjoy supporting my girlfriends! Thanks, Lisa!

Have you read this post over at SCL? Jon really speaks to something that I've struggled with all my adult life...

The book my Bible study group is doing right now is really interesting...we had a great discussion on Tuesday. I so enjoy those ladies!

Saw this darling little trench for Princess Pigtails in a store window yesterday:
Isn't just the cutest? Princess Pigtails informed me that it was her color and her size. It was a perfect fit. So cute. The price? Not so cute. $168. Seriously, J.Crew. Are you kidding me? $168? For a size 4T jacket? Umm, I'll get right on that.

Finally, had dinner last night with some friends that we have gotten reacquainted with through Facebook. It was so much fun. The kids ran crazy and it was fantastic! So happy they are in The Cities now and love that we were able to catch up! Looking forward to doing it again soon!

Hope you had an awesome week!


Princess Pigtailsese

I like to think that I fall into a wide category of moms. The moms with good intentions of documenting the lives of their children who somehow get side tracked by life and it really doesn't happen. At least not to the extent that you had hoped or dreamed it would.
I do a little bit of scrap booking and when I go to scrapping retreats I always feel wholly inadequate. There is always one mom there (at least one) that is on scrapbook number 15 of her two year old's life and I sigh because I am not that mom. I want to have beautifully complete scrapbooks complete with journalling and momentos from all their activities. And yet my kids have partially complete scrapbooks and this lowly blog by which their lives are somewhat documented.
I realized the other day that time is fading events and moments that I thought I'd never forget. When you are in the trenches, the wisdom of "writing it all down" is sometimes lost or on the list of "to dos" that never get done. Or in my case, the to do list is probably buried somewhere. My Princess Pigtails is growing up. One no longer needs a glossary of Princess Pigtailsese to converse with her. But there was a day not that long ago that she had her own words for things. When she toddled around and was just learning to speak. So if you will please indulge me, I want to document some of her "words", her Princess Pigtailsese so that when I forget, when I wonder what happened to my baby, I will be reminded. Sweetly reminded.

Potholders/hot pads/oven mitts="pot pots"
Happy Birthday="happy do-do"
Lisa (a dear friend of mine that has allowed us to use her day care as drop in care at times)=SeeSaw
Gravy= graaby

I love that the last two are still in her vocabulary. I hear myself correcting her. Wanting her to pronounce the words correctly. Reflecting upon those times I know that she will figure it out. She will not be a thirty year old serving her baby "yogrut". And if she is, so be it. I mean there are adults that pronounce wrestling as "rastlin"!


The Kitchen

So, here are some "after" pictures of the kitchen. Go here if you missed the "before"... go ahead, I'll wait. Back? Okay, here we go:

My new ceiling:
I know. Pretty much looks like a ceiling. Thanks for humoring me.
(If you look closely at the door frame to the left, you'll notice we have some painting left to do...shhh.) The door on the right is the walkway out to the mudroom...

I'll apologize in advance for the glare in some of these pictures. A professional photographer I am not.
Some shots of the new floor:

I'm happy with the job the contractor did...
The cabinetry (which is not new, but I still love it) on the opposite wall:
My pot rack:
So, there you have it...thanks for asking, encouraging me and generally putting up with my whining over the last six months while this was in various stages of done.

Happy Friday!


Things I Love Thursday--Smooth Edge Can Opener

Jill over at The Diaper Diaries is hosting another "Things I Love Thursday". This week I want to talk about my healthy appreciation for quality cooking utensils. Please know that this is not a product review--as in no one is paying me to gush. That being said, I could go on and on about my love of many things Pampered Chef and maybe some time I will. Wouldn't THAT be gripping? A run down of my personal Top 10 Pampered Chef utensils...Now there IS something to look forward to. Yikes. Anyway, where was I? Have you tried the Pampered Chef Smooth Edge Can Opener? The whole reason I bought mine was that unlike standard hand-held can openers it WILL open those pull top cans. Am I the only one that hates those? Here is the answer:
It will open those stupid pull top cans, it leaves a "smooth edge" (go figure) on both the can and the lid and I love mine. In my opinion, it is totally worth every last penny of the $17.50 it cost.

To share something that you love or for more things that you can't or shouldn't live without, head on over and see Jill.


Wednesday Randomness

Happy Wednesday! In an effort to recollect my brain here's an update of sorts. I apologize now for the randomness of it all!

Thank you so much for the encouragement regarding Princess Pigtails and her stalling techniques at the dinner table. I appreciate your thoughts and advice. I've really been limiting her snacks/drinks and she seems to be eating in a more efficient manner...hoping that it continues! Fingers crossed!

The Little Man will be 11 months on Saturday. Which hardly seems possible... Have I told you he is walking? Walking!! Has been at it for two weeks now and each day he is gaining more speed and confidence. He so badly wants to chase after his sister! Watch out Princess Pigtails!

I think that the kitchen is finally put back together. And the floor? Love it. If anyone is interested, I'll post some pictures.

We are making slow progress in the mudroom. Hoping that we can install the bead board ceiling this weekend. Then flooring, trim and doors...maybe we can be done by spring??

I've really been having some serious writer's block. Did you know that the number one google search that lands folks on my blog? My post about reheating ground beef. Interesting? I told you I have writer's block.

That's all I've got. What's on your "by spring" project list?


Things I Love Thursday--Homemade Jewelry Cleaner

Wow. Okay, so I've been completely off track the last few months with posts, but I discovered something yesterday that I just had to share.
Maybe some of you own one of those sonic jewelry cleaners. If you do--lucky you. For those of us that don't--I found a "recipe" for homemade jewelry cleaner! Very easy and from the little I used it yesterday, very effective!

Here you go:
1 cup of water
Foil to cover the bottom of a bowl
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. dishwasher detergent
Heat the water in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. While that is heating, line the bottom of a bowl with foil. Pour the heated water over the foil, add the salt, soda and detergent. Add jewelry and let it soak for 5-10 minutes. Maybe longer if heavy soiled. Use a new "batch" for additional jewelry.

The directions caution the use of the cleaner on certain stones/metals. Like don't use it to clean your pearl ring or Grandma's cameo...

I found this "recipe" on Recipezaar. Which is a pretty amazing site, if you haven't stopped been over there...I had to chuckle, however, because the recipe was complete with nutritional information. Apparently, if you were to digest this concoction, you would consume like 1000% of the recommended sodium intake. I'm thinking that dishwasher detergent might be more of concern...

Got something that you love? Head on over to The Diaper Diaries and see my friend Jill. Link up and spread the word. Check out the other links and while you are there wish her safe travels. She's heading to Nashville this weekend for Blissdom.


Please Advise

For a good part of the last year, our darling Princess Pigtails has been driving me/us crazy at the dinner table. We have been working with her on the typical table manner things--not playing with her food, not taking her food off her plate and placing it on the table, not tipping her chair, etc. These are typical antics of a three year old, right? Or do I have unrealistic expectations. I know that a three year old isn't going to be an expert with utensils yet. That's fine with me--well, I wish she was, but I know that will come and I can deal with that.
Here's the issue: That girl will not stay on task at the table for anything. During most meals, she plays and fusses and talks and picks at her food. She does eat eventually. But not until we've encouraged her, nagged her and sometimes, I admit, bribed her.

What I've tried so far:
  • I've re-evaluated the serving sizes I've given her but that doesn't seem to make a bit of difference.
  • What the menu is doesn't seem to make a bit of difference either.
  • We used to have a rule and will in the future that everyone needs to be done before people can be excused from the table. But currently that is unrealistic considering it takes her for most meals over an hour to eat. Sometimes an hour and a half.
  • It doesn't seem to bother her that I clean up the table and move to another room.
  • I've tried not letting her have snacks at all and that has had limited results.
So, please tell me. Is this normal? What else should I try? I'm nearly ready to pull my hair out. HELP!!


How to Induce a Sugar Coma

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe that I think you really must try--which is amazing, because there for a while it was feeling a bit like all I was doing was posting recipes. Which I was. Only posting recipes. DH was asked to bring "bars" to our church's annual meeting on Sunday--which truly proves that we are "Lutrans" as they say around here, because a church meeting isn't actually a full fledged meeting with out bars. Or coffee.
Anywhoo, I often times keep the good old "boxes" of brownie mix on hand for such occasions--but when I went the pantry, there were no boxes of brownie mix only 7 boxes of yellow cake mix. And one white. And I really wanted to make brownies. So, I pulled out a cook book and started flipping through...page 146. Bingo. A recipe that I wanted to try. And I did. And those brownies? A little piece of heaven. Which I suppose is appropriate considering they were headed for a church meeting.

Because I think that you really should try these, I am passing this recipe on. I will warn you, it's a bit more work than just opening a box. Okay, a lot more work than just opening a box. But so worth it. And you might want to be certain that you have some place to take these or are having folks over. Because it makes a lot and I can't be held responsible for my readers consuming the entire pan. In one setting.

Buttermilk Brownies
Sift together:
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
2 c. flour

Bring to boil:
1 stick butter
1 c. cold water
1/2 c. oil
Once it has come to a boil, pour over dry ingredients and beat until creamy.

1/2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp. soda

Beat thoroughly. Bake in large, greased cookie sheet for 18 minutes at 400 degrees. (This is actually a huge amount of batter. I used a sheet pan and it was perfect.)

1 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla
4 1/4 c. powdered sugar (use own judgement)
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/3 c. buttermilk
Bring butter, cocoa and buttermilk to boil. Add sugar and vanilla; mix well. Stir in chopped nuts, if desired. Pinch of salt can be added to each.

From "Favorites at Flora Lynne's: A Collection of Recipes", pg. 146.



Drop in the Bucket

Since the first of the year, Princess Pigtail's preschool class has been talking about the concept of love buckets. The idea is that each of us carries an "emotional" bucket. When some one is kind to us or shows us compassion, they help fill our bucket. When someone is rude or uses unkind words, they empty our bucket. The preschool class has made buckets too illustrate the point and use this language when discussing their interactions with one another. This terminology has also made it's way to our home.
I love this concept because it is such an easy way for preschoolers to learn that their actions affect others. That what they say and do is a part of those around them. If only us adults could keep this top of mind how much more we could accomplish! Shortly after "buckets" were introduced at school, the kiddos and I were pulling into the garage here at home. I had stopped at the end of the drive way and got the mail, so in addition to helping Princess Pigtails with her backpack and wrestling both her and The Little Man out of their respective car seats, I had my purse and the mail to contend with as well. Anywhoo, as I shut the truck off, Princess Pigtails said "Mama, you could just put the mail in my backpack. Then you wouldn't have so many things to carry." I told her that I thought that was a great idea and thanked her for being so thoughtful. She smiled and said "You're welcome. I just filled your bucket." I laughed and agreed that yes she had filled my bucket. It was such a sweet exchange. My heart just melted right there.
So this past Monday, Princess Pigtail's class learned the Bible story of Joseph.
Me: "So, tell me about Joseph. What did you learn?"
PP: "Well, he had a fancy coat."
Me: "He sure did. What else did you learn?"
PP: "Umm...his brothers pushed him in a hole."
Me: "You're right. His brothers were not very kind to him."
PP: "Yeah. They emptied his bucket."

(They sure did alright. Plotting to kill him. Selling him into slavery. Telling his father that he is dead. That would empty any one's bucket.)

As a mom, I'm always feeling like mine is half full at best. And those around me? Can't say that I'm always that great at filling their buckets either. Snapping words. Barking orders. Gentle nagging. Empty. Empty. Empty. Just keeping it real...the buckets around here could stand to be filled more frequently.

How's your bucket today? What have you done to fill someone else's bucket today?



Can someone explain to me why a roll of foil is so expensive? Is it foil speculations? I literally stood dumb-founded in front of the shelf of foil yesterday at Wal-Mart. Perhaps it's just me but $7.37 for 200 sq. feet of tin foil seems a little ridiculous, right?

Just an observation. Carry on.


The Picture of Health and Wellness, We are.

I just want to crawl in my bed and pull the covers up over my head. Because if the last six days are what 2009 are going to be like for us, I'm not sure I am ready.

I will back up and say that we had great times with our families over Christmas. We nearly missed time with my grandparents due to an ice storm. There was about a three hour span on the Saturday after Christmas that I didn't think the two hour drive from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house was going to happen due to the ice. To say I was heart broken was an understatement. In light of the health things that have gone on with my Grandma over the last couple of months, I just felt it so important to get down there. I also knew that my grandparents were looking forward to having ALL their grand kids and great-grand kids (there were five new greats in 08!) together and I didn't want to disappoint. I knew they would understand given the weather, but still...We made it and had some sweet moments with my grandparents as a result. I am so glad that God allowed us to get there. Grandma is on the mend, by the way! Thank you for the prayers on her behalf.
We got home and had barely enough time to unpack, pick up a few groceries, stash the Christmas gifts/plunder/groceries and get organized to have a few friends over on New Year's eve. It was craziness getting that all accomplished, but I am so glad we did. What fun we had.

Enter 2009.

Friday morning, the kiddos both woke up with a sniffle. DH reported from work he thought he was coming down with a cold too. I was in denial.
Saturday, we definitively all have colds. And great! woke to the furnace clanking! Not as bad as this time, but not healthy sound for a furnace. In January. In Minnesota. Fantastic! (I have to say I am a little disturbed after looking up that link, to find that the last episode occurred on January 3rd 2008. A year exactly? Bizarre. Do you think I should just go ahead and book the HVAC repair guy for next year? )
Sunday, woke up and definitely still all have colds. And just for variety's sake, I have the stomach flu to go along with mine. Lovely. My darling, darling husband took such good care of me and the kids while I was sick. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Honey. You are amazing.
Sunday night, Princess Pigtails, despite all of the remedies I could come up with, was up practically the entire night coughing. She had 102.7 temp yesterday morning and began complaining in the middle of the night that her ear hurt. I'm sure you can see where this is going.
I called the clinic first thing because as it turned out I already had an appointment scheduled yesterday morning for The Little Man's well child check. So, took them both in. Princess Pigtails has a double ear infection. The doctor's words were "her ears look like hamburger". Great. Her first ear infection and it is a double? That's harsh.
The Little Man? Oh, yeah. He also has an ear infection. He was supposed to be my WELL child. So, antibiotics all around and little Robitussin AC for good measure and we are back on the road to health and wellness.
I forgot to mention that DH had called while we were in route to the clinic to let me know that his "consultation" appointment at the endodonist was resulting in an immediate root canal. Outstanding.
So, I pray we are on the mend now. The kiddos have been on their meds for 24 hours now. My cough is easing up. I'm keeping Princess Pigtails home from dance tonight and going to miss my Bible study. But hopefully tomorrow will be the start of some healthier days for us all.

Here's to hoping that your 2009 is off to a much better start than mine! That 2009 will be a year of HEALTH all the way around and that it will find you feeling blessed beyond measure!