Monday, April 27, 2009

Buy me some Peanuts

So this is all the fun I missed last weekend while I was in Minnesota...

Decorating floats....

Leaving the kids on the back of these trucks and rushing down to the parade route to get pictures and wave when they go by....

Emily doing ballet on the softball field....

Noah getting psyched for the first game of the season...

Emmy's big hits and even bigger smiles...

And Keith handled it all himself. I think he even fed them breakfast before heading out in the morning. Maybe I can go away more often...Hmmm.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Your Going To Make It After All...

Yes, I took a picture of Mary. I mean, come on, they actually have a statue of her, I had to.

And I had to go here, too. We were so close, and they have an American Girl store.

I skipped the rollercoasters, however. And aside from the American Girl souvenior for Emmy, I only bought two pairs of cute summer shoes (a post for another day). And a shirt. All from The Rack (Nordstrom "outlet" -choke). And we ate lunch at Johnny Rockets - my mom and I were being very good and split a cheeseburger. And Diana got a hamburger. And then they got gas.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Thanks for putting up with me.

If you are still here, I'll give you the recipe for the yumdiddlicious granola we ate with yogurt and berries every morning for breakfast. Homemade by Diana.



1/2 c. honey

1/2 c. chunky peanut butter

1 tspn. vanilla

1/4 tspn cinnamon

Heat these over low heat and then mix together with:

3 c. rolled oats

1/2 c. wheat germ

1/2 c. slivered almonds

1/2 c. chopped pecans

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

1/2 c. sunflower seeds (raw, unsalted)

(Diana also added pumpkin seeds and flax, but I dont' know how much so you can use your best judgment)

Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet, spread to a uniform thickness and let bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.

Take out of oven, stir on cookie sheet and let cool. When cooled add:

1 c. golden raisins

1 c. dried cranberries

and mix thoroughly. Store in air tight containers. It makes approx. 8 cups.


I'm making it this morning for Annie and I to enjoy before we embark on our Lancaster Weekend today.

Oh, I like everything about that last sentence. So, I guess I'll stop there. Well, here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Bit of Bling

On our first day in Minnesota, I had the opportunity to meet a lovely woman named Sherry who has her own jewelry business. Aside from being super friendly and sporting that Minnesota accent, she is VERY talented and her work is beautiful. And luckily, she has an online shop!

I am partial to supporting creative women; women who use their gifts to make beautiful things.

These pictures were all taken at her home. Her studio is right in her living room and she was having an Open House so all of her creations were on display. I wish I could have taken more pictures, but the battery died and the last shot I got was of the earrings I purchased....

Yeah, that didn't work. Unblurry, they are even prettier... So, go visit her website today. Or tomorrow. I don't want to be pushy. Click here to go - there: JitterJewels

On our LAST afternoon in Minnesota we went here..

Different kinda bling for me...

This is Penzey's Spice Market. An awesome shop in St. Paul (although they have others scattered around the country. I didn't really want to leave, but we did have a toy plane to board a little later, and I really depleted my wallet at this store, so I guess it was necessary to go. You can also visit them online: Penzeys
I purchased spices entitled Italian Sunset, Sunny Paris, Paprika: Hungarian Sweet. And quite a few others... They packaged them all up so beautifully, too. I'll have to take a picture later to post here. It just added to the whole experience. And I have to say that I LOVE ST. PAUL! It does not seem city-ish to me at all. Lots of cool restaurants and boutiq-ee type shops. And St. Paul's Cathedral is beautiful! It made for an excellent "girl's weekend" stop.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you about our other stop and then that will be it. Because I still haven't even gotten to the rest of my family's experiences while I was away - and guess what? I'm going away again tomorrow for ANOTHER girls weekend with my mom and sisters. Then I'm done for a while. And Keith didn't even say that. I did.
Lastly: Weight Loss. You may have noticed that I skipped last week. But probably not, so I'm just coming clean with you. I was up at 4:30 am last Friday to catch a plane, and wasn't capable of seeing any numbers on the scale. That doesn' t happen til much later in the morning. So, to get back on track here is where I now am from 2 Fridays ago....
+ 1 lb. Okay. I haven't really worked out much since Easter, so time to get back on track! After this weekend...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Keyword: FREE

Gloves - Check. Rope - check. Screwdriver and pliers - check. Tarps - check. Bottled water for the ride - check. Umm... what exactly are we doing again?

They say one man's junk is another man's treasure.... well, in Minnesota they take that seriously. On my first evening in the suburbs of the Twin Cities, my cousin introduced us to the fine art of Dumpster Diving; an event that occurs once a year (I think - maybe twice) and rotates from neighborhood to neighborhood on varying weekends. Neighborhoods take turns putting out to the curb all of the junk - er, um, treasures, that they no longer want, and then other people drive around...slowly.. checking out all of the great stuff hanging out curbside. If they see something they like, they pop open the trunk and slide it in. Whatever is still at the curb after the weekend is then collected by the trash department and properly disposed of - which isn't much after the parade of people who drive by all weekend looking for treasures!

Here is Diana's friend checking out a trombone, flute and trumpet that someone discarded....

And while she was checking out the upright piano that was also being wheeled down to the curb, along came a serious "diver" and snatched up the instruments....

Not to worry, there was plenty more treasures at other households...

Ooo... how about this retro looking faucet for the bathroom redo? Perfect!

After a few hours of hunting, the trunk was full and our tummies empty and ready to head back..

Of course, my mom and I didn't get anything - too hard to put in a carry-on, but I really wish they did this here! Talk about a great way to repurpose stuff! Great Earth Day idea!!

Here is a quick rundown of our Saturday - again - All FREE :

Macy's Flower Show, A total spur of the moment spontaneous Brunch with Gale Gand (of the restaurant Tru in Chicago and Food Network Fame - "Sweet Dreams"), and the Como Conservatory.

Yeah, cranberry champagne (sugar-rimmed glass) butlered appetizers, and samplings of all that Gale Gand made, not to mention the Macy's filled gift bag filled with goodies for us - it was perfect. Except for the sugar rim encircling my face as I tried to get ever last drop of the sugary goodness - oh well, you can dress me up but...

Anyway, tomorrow I'll share with you all about the artistic, creative and gifted woman jewelry maker I met while in Minnesota, and the AMAZING spice store I frequented in St.Paul.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Toy Planes

Hoooooo! Wait just a minute here. No one told me that we'd be flying in the Fisher Price Plane! For Real? You want me to get on that? All the way to Minnesota? I don't think my bottom will fit in the little seat holes.

Okay, so that is how my trip to Minnesota started.... thankfully, it was all uphill from there! We had a great time and once I get out from all the piles of laundry and dirty dishes my family greeted me with when I got back home, I'll share it all with you. One of the first things Emmy told me when I got home was, "Mom, you have to do laundry." Missed you too sweetie, missed you, too.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Taking Flight

Tomorrow morning I leave for a mini-vacation with my mom. We are headed to Minnesota for a long -weekend of fun & laughter, sprinkled with some shopping and sight-seeing with Cousin Diana. I am very excited and very anxious, and very guilt-ridden, but very - excited. Does that make sense?

I don't like the idea of being separated from my family for 4 whole days, but I've so wanted to do this trip for soooo long. And I know that having some "me time" will help me to be a better mommy and wife. And I get to spend some one on one time with MY mommy. When does THAT happen? So, I know this is a good thing and I wish my emotions would just stop rollercoastering (yes, I'm making it a verb. I'm allowed. I'm emotional.) And it is awesome that God will be with me AND my family at the same time. Comforting.

I must mention that I will be missing Opening Day for Little League, which is THE biggest event of the year for our little town. Keith has informed me that he is NOT willing to blog the event for me here. Feels it's not what he was created for. I'm not sure it is wise to disagree with that.

Back on Tuesday!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

So many books, so little time...

The kids and I went to the library on Monday. I will be taking a trip at the end of this week and wanted to make sure I have the proper distractions as the airplane is taking off and landing. More about my trip at a later time. We need to get back to the Library.

Are there enough days in ones life to read all the books one wants to read? I mean, really? Aside from the Frommer's Travel Guide to -- anywhere, and 25 Quick Home Makeovers, and every recipe book (that's a whole other life time for me)kind of books? I'm talking all the fiction, great literature and non fictiony story books that are out there. Sigh.

Right now I have about 32 "must read this year" books on my list - and then I go to the library and the list triples - mentally. And that's WITH the kids with me. I can't even imagine what it would look like if I was actually at the library alone. It was very hard to decide what to get - although some books that I have wanted to check out for over a year, have been out by other people for over a year - so that makes it a little easier.

I finally settled on these two:

Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

I also wanted to get:
The Shack
The Same Kind of Different as Me
Eat, Love, Pray
1000 Days in Tuscany
Three Cups of Tea
A Thousand Splendid Suns

But they were checked out by others. These are all very different then my "summer reads". I am current on all of the Sue Grafton "Kinsey Malone" Alphabet Mysteries, and Janet Evanavich's "Stephanie Plum" Number Mysteries, Laura Childs Tea Shop Mysteries, Diane Mott Davidson's Catering Mysteries and Joanne Fluke's Cookie Mysteries - all quick, easy light-hearted reads (although Sue Grafton's have been getting darker and a little harder for me to read), all mysteries, and many with recipes to boot! Love them. Perfect for the beach. But there is so much more out there to read throughout the rest of the year!

Can you only read certain kinds of books at certain times of year? Do you have a favorite? And please don't tell me Twilight. I have no desire to even start that series - for real. I know, I'm the only one. I like to be alone on some things. That's one of them. Now you know.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Famous Stuffed Artichoke

I have been questioned about the Easter tradition in my family of eating stuffed artichokes as a first course. I have to tell you that you haven't really tasted an artichoke until you've had them this way, and having them at our Easter dinner means that Spring has really arrived.
And there is a certain finesse in which they are eaten, as Noah will demonstrate to you now...

And the reason we shred all the creamy flesh off the underside of each leaf is to get a taste of the treasure which is uncovered when the tenderest of leaves in the center have been finished:

The stuffing... it's heavenly. Which makes Easter a perfect time to eat it.

Perhaps I can post the recipe for you, but I'll have to check with the creator of the recipe first - My Dad.

I did promise the recipe for this though:

My Baked Triple Veggie Cheese Dip. So, here it is:

1 can asparagus spears (1 lb. 3 oz) drained and chopped

1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 can (8.5 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 container (8 oz.) Philadelphia Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread

1/2 c. Mayonnaise

1 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients except 1/4c. of the cheese. Spoon into 2 qt. baking dish and sprinkle with reserved cheese. Bake 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Easy Peasy. Yum!

And this is another sign that Spring is here. I LOVE tulips. And this is the first picture I've taken with my new camera that I'm actually happy with. (this being because my photography skills are minimal, and my ability to read directions -nonexistant)

Monday, April 13, 2009


Is your Easter steeped in traditions? Noah and Emmy are all about making sure we do the same things ever year... and we are happy to oblige.

Saturday Morning: The annual egg hunt and breakfast at Nana and Grandad's... which can't begin without going over the rules first...

I had a hard time capturing any pictures of the hunt because N & E were running around so fast in an effort to find the most eggs. In the end, it was a tie - but Noah found the egg with a dollar in it...

Saturday Night: Mimi & Poppy join us for dinner. This year they also dyed eggs with us - a very serious process...

The kit only comes with ONE wire dipper & do you think I could find all the ones I've saved from years past? I've put them in a very safe place, apparently. We improvised with some wire that Keith had out in the garage. The long handles worked even better than the one that came with the kit. Guess we showed them! ( whoever "them" are - is, hmm..not sure the grammer on that, forgive me)

I've always had a romantic notion that next year I'm going to go with all natural dyes - beet juice, flowers, clay, etc. - but in reality, I wind up at CVS about an hour before it's time to dye eggs praying they still have a PAAS kit left.

Sunday Morning: The Easter Bunny showed up again this year! She/He leaves Noah and Emmy clues that they can only open after finding a certain number of eggs around the house (another romantic notion - egg hunt OUTSIDE. But really? I don't know that it will ever be warm enough for me at Easter for the Bunny to subject us to that).

And what are the clues for, anyway? Leading us to the location of the hidden Easter Baskets, of course!

Success! That sneaky Rabbit! The location was even hidden in Clue #3!

Noah's Closet!

Sunday Evening:

Appetizer: Three veggie dip ( the 3 veggies being asparagus, artichoke and spinach - I'll post the recipe later) and Annie's hoppin' Sangria. Then dinner begins with Dad's Famous Stuffed Artichokes and then : Ham, pineapple souffle, mac & cheese, green bean casserole, broccoli salad...

We eat....
and eat...
And eat.
And for dessert: Molten Lava Cakes with homemade strawberry frozen yogurt (made lowfat to compensate...)

A very decadent ending to a glorious weekend!
Sunday morning breakfast is whole other tradition, and one that Noah particularly likes. I didn't take any pics but it involves "resurrection biscuits" and a church service from the book "Christ in Easter: A Family Celebration of Holy Week". No, we don't get to church on Easter, but that is a post for some other time, some day, when I know why...