Thursday, January 29, 2009

What's to come

My kids are young enough that they're not really involved in too much outside of home and school.

But I think this afternoon I'll get a taste of what is to come in a few years. And I think I'll get to know the inside of my van while I'm at it!

Here's how it will go:

4:00: I get home from work, and Meredith, her friend Suzanna, and my niece Lauren will all ride the bus together and get home from school

4:30: I go to IMS to meet up with Kent to get Jesse and take him home (after he's been at the sitters all day)

4:50: Take Lauren to violin lessons (just a few miles from our house)

5:20: Pick up Lauren from violin lessons

5:45: Take Meredith, Jesse, Suzanna, and Lauren to Kalona to drop Lauren off at her house and drop Suzanna off at the middle school where her brother has a basketball game

Then it's time to go home and eat supper. Maybe I can convince everyone to keep their coats, hats, and mittens on from 4 until 6. (We know it won't be a problem for Jesse!) That way we only have to deal with boots and buckling the booster and car seat every time we go out. Hmmmm, it's something to think about!

It makes me realize that I really need to savor this time with my kids when life isn't hectic like this every day.


Yesterday Kent came home after a long and not-so-fun day. So I decided he needed a little comfort food. I remembered a recipe I had seen recently on Pioneer Woman for yummy chicken with bacon and cheese on top. What could be more comforting than that?!?

So I cooked up Pioneer Woman's Ranch Style Chicken and some cheddar mashed potatoes - and I believe it was a hit!

Note to readers: the above picture is not mine, but from the Pioneer Woman herself.

Note to self: next time I fry chicken in the cast iron skillet on the stove, make sure to put the splatter screen on...or I'll end up degreasing the stove, counter, and any recipe that is nearby...again!

Have you ever visited Pioneer Woman? (No, not just any old pioneer woman, but If not, you should go - she has awesome recipes and great photography and photoshop tips and lots more. I really love the recipes that she has though. Not only are they scrumptious, but she has step-by-step pictures accompanying the recipe. Now that's the kind of recipe that I love!

Anyway, a nice and comforting meal was had by all last night.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's with the coat and hat?

Jesse loves his winter coat.

And his hat.

Sometimes I seriously can't get him to take them off. at. all.

The record is him wearing his coat and hat for 2 hours after returning home one afternoon.

2 hours!

So thank you Jace, for sharing your hand-me-down coat and hat with Jesse.

He's in love with them!

Speaking of Jace, here's the cutie with his great outfit from this past Saturday: sweatshirt on top of tank top, on top of long sleeved shirt with shorts on top of pants. And to top everything off, a sideways Superman hat!

Since him and Kent were playing Mario Kart together, Kent felt the need to copy part of the outfit.**

Speaking of Mario Kart, I think maybe the game should be banned from our house. Because we love it waaaaay too much (and consequently play it waaaay too much!)

The makers of the Wii knew what they were doing when they locked different things in Mario Kart. Because it just makes you want to keep playing and keep winning so you can unlock yet another kart. Or another bike. Or another player.

**Update: Kent is not very happy with me for posting these pictures of him. So if you like the pictures and think they need to stay, then leave a comment and let us know!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Good Intentions

I've finally taken the time to follow through with my good intentions and I've tackled the messy catch-all cupboard. Here's a couple of things that I learned. First, there's no need to keep the dried up playdoh and crusty paint. Really, we will never use them, it's time to toss the stuff that has no use. Second, if I feel the need to keep every envelope without a matching card, I must containerize them - notice the basket on the bottom shelf? And third by making use of my new label maker, it's easy to find things and more importantly, easy for anyone who can read, to put them away. Hopefully I'll make more progress around the house and I'll share the results of my good intentions.

Friday, January 23, 2009

the little things...yet again!

By now you've undoubtedly grown tired of my "little things" posts.

But seriously, today seemed like it was made up of a million little things that either made me smile or had the potential to get me down.

This is my final "little thing" for today. Pinkie promise.

Does it get any better than coffee, (or tea) dessert and conversation with a good friend? (Even if the coffee shop you try to go to is closed and you are forced to go somewhere else where you don't even get coffee?)

Especially when the conversation gets beyond the daily grind of everything that's going on in our lives.

To me, it's a little thing that feels like a big thing.

Stacy, if you are reading this, then let's schedule the next time we can get away. Even if it's a month from now, if it's on our calendars then it will really happen!

the little things...take II

Apparently one of the little things in life that makes Jesse smile is watching the bread machine make pizza dough.

Or "beebaa dough" as Jesse says.

Now if I could just get him to stop trying to push the buttons on the front of the machine...

Update: I just realized that Jesse is wearing the exact same outfit in the previous post - never mind that the pictures were taken at least a week apart. He does have and wear other clothes. You'll just have to take my word for it!

the little things...

Again, it's the little things in life.

Like watching your kids imitate you.

(Do I really walk around with 2 purses like that?)

Update: So I've revised my thought so that it's the little things in life that make you smile...and also not letting little things get you down. Like for example not getting mad when you dump the entire contents of your coffee filter on your clean kitchen counter and not-so-clean floor.

Oh the trouble I will go to just for a cup of coffee...(as Kent reads this he will just laugh since so often it's him making me coffee...)

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about hope today.

And Spring.

I think I forgot that winter won't last forever.

Seriously...I don't think it will last forever, right?!?

It was nice to walk outside and hear the drip, drip, drip of snow melting. To me that's a hopeful sound.
It's not that I think that there will be no more snow. Or cold days. Or icy roads.

It's just nice to be reminded that spring will come. And my flowers will grow and bloom. And I'll be able to walk barefoot in the grass.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Birthday fun and recipes

Last Saturday night we had a great joint birthday party. My niece Grace turned 11 on January 17,and Jesse turned 2 on January 19.

At the party, we ate a lot, talked a lot, played a lot of short, we had a great time! Kent recently fixed up our unfinished basement so the kids could play there while the adults were on the main level of the house. It made for a much more enjoyable time for both adults and kids!

This was Jesse talking to Grandma Bev on the phone - he loved it even if she was sitting just a few feet away from him!

And of course there had to be at least one present that was either Notre Dame or Yankee paraphernalia!

When everyone gathered around to sing happy birthday to Jesse, he got this really funny, embarrassed look on his face. I've never seen the look before - it was hilarious!

Thanks to everyone who came and made the evening special. And especially thanks to Jim and Bev for driving 6 hours and spending time with us this weekend.

And here by popular demand, the recipes for the cinnamon sugar sticks and red velvet whoopie pies, courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens. (I'm clueless as to why the links aren't working in the previous post - they work just fine here...)

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies (which are really just chocolate whoopie pies with food coloring - is that what red velvet cake really is??)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1-oz. bottle red food coloring (2 Tbsp.)
  • 1 recipe Whoopie Pie Filling, recipe below


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment; set aside. In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high 30 seconds. Beat in brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating after each addition just until combined. Stir in food coloring.

3. Spoon batter in 1- or 2-inch diameter rounds, about 1/2-inch high on prepared baking sheets, allowing 1 inch between each round.

4. Bake 7 to 9 minutes for 1-inch cookies or 9 to 11 minutes for 2-inch cookies, or until tops are set. Cool completely on baking sheets on rack. Remove cooled cookies from baking sheets.

5. To fill, dollop Whoopie Pie Filling on flat sides of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies, flat sides down. Makes 60 one-inch or 42 two-inch cookies.

6. Whoopie Pie Filling: In medium mixing bowl beat 1/4 cup softened butter and half an 8-ounce package softened cream cheese until smooth. Fold in one 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme.

7. To store: Refrigerate in airtight container up to 4 days. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Cinnamon Sugar Sticks
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups slivered almonds, toasted and ground (about 7 oz.)
  • 3 oz. white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. shortening
  • 1/3 cup red cinnamon candies, crushed
  • 1/3 cup coarse decorating sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In mixing bowl beat butter on high 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until combined. Beat in baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

3. In medium bowl combine flour and almonds. Beat as much flour mixture as you can into butter mixture. Stir in remaining flour mixture.

4. On lightly floured surface roll or pat dough to 14x7-inch rectangle, about 1/2-inch thick. Cut in half, making two, 14x3 1/2-inch rectangles. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch wide sticks. Use a metal spatula to transfer to baking sheets, placing 1 inch apart. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until firm and edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.

5. In small heavy saucepan melt chocolate and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly. In wide shallow bowl combine crushed candies and sugar. Dip sticks in chocolate then in candy mixture. Place on waxed paper to set. Makes 56 sticks.

6. To store: Place cookies, separated between waxed paper, in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do you have a sweet tooth?

T-minus 4 days until Jesse turns 2.

Can you believe it?

T-minus 2 days until my niece Grace turns 11.

We are going to have a rip-roaring birthday party for Grace and Jesse on Saturday night.

(Don't I sound about 80 years old? I do remember that when my family would visit my grandparents in Florida in the winter, we would come home talking like we were 80. Maybe I'm channeling what my parents are hearing in Florida...but enough of that tangent!)

By now you are wondering what exactly my title has to do with the post.

Some of you know that I hate giving each post a title - maybe I'm rebelling.

Really though, do you have a sweet tooth?

Because if you do, and you are coming to the birthday party on Saturday night, you will get to try my two latest attempts at cookies.

I don't like to make cookies. It has something to do with my impatience, my distractibility, my inability to get them just right. The cookies that I make are usually either over- or under-done. Never just right. But I found two recipes in my January issue of Better Homes & Gardens and I just had to try them. The first is Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. I totally love whoopie pies and figured I should try the red velvet kind. Turns out they are not as good as ones from Golden Delight Bakery outside Kalona, but they aren't bad at all. They are actually pretty good. (Doesn't my description just make your mouth water?)

The second recipe is for a biscotti-like cookie called Cinnamon-Sugar Sticks. As usual, I didn't have exactly what the recipe called for, so I had to make-do with the ingredients in my pantry, but they turned out really good. And you dip the top of the cookie in melted white chocolate and put crushed red hots and sugar on the top. Seriously, how can you go wrong with that combination?

Anyway, Meredith and I had fun spending yesterday afternoon in the kitchen making these.

(You'll notice that she had finally changed out of her pajamas, and I had finally combed her hair. She got tired of her pajamas before lunch, and I wouldn't let her help me in the kitchen until her hair was put back and out of her face.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snow Day III

As you may know from previous posts, a snow day in our house is a special day.

Which means that you can stay in your pajamas as long as you want and you don't have to comb your hair - no matter how much it bugs your mom!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

the little things...

Yeah, it's the little things in life.

Like warm oatmeal,

on a cold Sunday night.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's back...

Oh winter...

did I really think...

that I missed you?

Oh yeah, and not only is winter back, but I'm back too. (Hopefully.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Good Intentions

Sometimes I think my days and weeks just fill up with good intentions. For instance, the stack of thank you cards I keep moving around thinking that if I keep seeing them I'll finally write and mail them. Or the to do list that just gets longer and longer because I don't quite get to the point where I can cross anything off. I opened this cupboard this afternoon and was nearly knocked off my feet with the pure chaos! I've decided this is where it all starts. My January 8th (I couldn't even commit to New Years) resolution is to organize this chaotic mess. Check back and I'll post the after pic and maybe a few tips I learned along the way.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

To Florida They Go

Well it's official.

My parents are leaving for Florida in just a few days.

I knew this would be coming.

But I'm still not ready for them to be gone.

For. So. Long.

Just this morning my mom got the go-ahead from her doctor.

Mom and Dad, we'll miss you terribly.

But I don't blame you for wanting to get to see this.