Monday, March 30, 2009

Yummy yummy wedding food

Kari and I got to do the food for a friend's wedding last weekend. We were so happy to get the chance to try our hands at a catering gig and jumped at this opportunity. We had so much fun dipping strawberries and trying out new recipes. We tried to make things as easy as possible for ourselves by choosing foods that did not require tons of prep work and chopping. Here was our final menu:

- veggie tray
- quesadillas with 3 dips - guacamole, fresh salsa, and cilantro lime ranch
- sweet and sour meatballs
- lil' smokies
- cucumber sandwiches
- ham and jack cheese paninis on sourdough with honey mustard dipping sauce
- fruit kabobs with a cream cheese dip
chocolate dipped strawberries

We also served 3 different beverages:
- grape punch with floating frozen grapes
- vanilla lemonade
- and water

Check out that fridge! I was shocked at how quickly we filled this empty refrigerator. Those cucumber sandwiches were my personal favorite - so easy and delicious. I think it's the dill sprinkled on top that calls to me.

And this is how we looked by the end of the night. Not too bad, right? And do not fear - we did not do it all alone. We had some cheerful helpers through the night. Kari's daughter Kaleigh was there most of the night, as was my excellent mother-in-law, Karen. Sis. Isenberg and Sis. Champlain were also there. We had a great clean up crew at the end of the evening too. Thanks to my parents, Karen & Doug, Robb, and Sis. Champlain for getting us out the door so quickly. We were on our way in just an hour! It was a happy, hopping, hard working kitchen and a great experience for all of us.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The birthday celebrations continue...

Last night we went out for Jeremy's birthday date night dinner and a movie - his choice. We did the Tacone grill for dinner (mmm! sweet potato fries!) and then the new Nicolas Cage movie "Knowing".

Dinner was tasty, as we knew it would be, because we always order the same thing every time we go. Call us creatures of habit, but hey, we know what we like and we stick with it. If you go to the Tacone Grill you MUST try the sandwich called "The United STEAK of America". It's awesome. I love their dipping sauce bar too. It's full of all those trendy new dips like cilantro lime ranch and mango apricot something or other.

After a most delicious dinner (and milkshake for the birthday boy) we headed over to the movie theater. I found out on the way over that this particular movie had gotten 2 kinds of reviews from critics. GREAT or AWFUL. Our own newspaper gave it an F! That review alone made me nervous for what we were about to commit to for 2 hours.

Now, without giving away too much of the story we will say this: We liked the first 3/4 of the movie just fine. It was full of suspense, mystery, a bit of horror and some seriously good action. (The subway scene was so intense!) The last 15 - 20 minutes were a bit much, but that is what you must expect when watching a sci-fi movie, right?

Our final verdict is: RENTAL. But if you are a die-hard sci-fi/action movie lover then get your fanny to the theater and watch this movie! We are more of an action/comedy bunch around here.

All in all we give it 3 shiny black rocks out of 5.

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Run, run, as fast as you can..."

"You can't catch me,
I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

It was Fairy Tale week at Joy School. That meant that I got to rummage through our book collection to see what fairy tales I had on hand that we could read at story time. Our kids got several Gingerbread Man books for Christmas last year and I that story would be perfect. We could read it, act it out and even do some baking - my favorite! The kids don't mind rolling up their sleeves and frosting cookies either.

Here was the book we read:
and on the back it had a recipe for gingerbread cookies - what a novel idea!
We rolled out some dough,

cut out some gingerbread man shapes,

and then popped those guys into the oven. We waited until they were done to see if they'd jump out of the oven and run out the front door. Luckily they did not because we had all of these lovely decorations to put on top of them!

Those were some happy frosting cookie decorating kids!

And here's how they turned out.

Don't worry, they tasted a lot better than they looked! I make a killer cream cheese frosting.

It was fun to have the house smell a bit like Christmas again. The magic of fairy tales mixed with the aroma of Christmas was a good combination.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"They say it's your birthday!"

"Dah, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh!"

Well, another year, and another birthday has come again. THIRTY-FOUR years old today. Whew! I remember back when you were only 24 and I thought that was old back then! I was hoping to reminisce on some of those great memories that make YOU special to ME. It's like a non-tangible gift, right?
I know we just talked about this recently, but I do love remembering back to the first time you asked me out. Your pick up line was so genuine, "Are you related to Fred Duran?" you asked. I knew exactly what you were up to just by the look in your eye, but was totally impressed by the personal connection you were trying to make. And that's where our story began...

Since then I've heard ever so many stories about your past. Your family loves to share the good ones over and over and we never tire of hearing them. I bet you can guess their #1 pick - yep, you got it. The one year before Christmas when you were 7 or 8 years old, you decided to unwrap every present you found hidden in the house. Oh, your poor mama - all that time it takes to wrap presents! After you had finished unwrapping (and spoiling every surprise for Christmas) your common sense thunked you in the head and you realized that you were in deep doo doo. That common sense helped you pack up and run away - to the tree house in the back yard. It wasn't until the next morning, after you had been found and scolded for your unwrapping of the presents, that your mama discovered all the meat that had been in the freezer and all the pots and pans from the kitchen had gone missing. She searched high and low until she questioned YOU about the missing items. You'd learned your lesson by now and admitted to taking all that meat and the pots and pans up to the tree house - a kid had to eat if he was running away on his own, of course.

Oh boy, it's stories like these that give me a small glimpse into the future that we will experience with our own children. And Jackson already has us running in circles!

I do love all those stories. They make you who you are today - my most excellent husband and father to our children. You love to camp, hike and spend time in the outdoors. (Note his bday present in the last picture.) You love spending time with the kids going for bike rides and jumping on the trampoline. You make me laugh - even after all these years. You still ask me out and take us on dates every weekend. I love all these and so many other things about you. What's the line? "He [YOU] truly is [ARE] the best man I've ever known." You should know that by heart because I say it enough.

So, enjoy your special day. I love you my honey buns.

(A NOTE TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY: please feel free to share your favorite Jeremy story in the comments - he loves hearing stories about himself!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let's go fly a kite

The weather has been pleasantly mild these last couple of weeks. A nice breeze even decided to pick up for a couple of days. Grandpa Doug promised some kites to the kids and he delivered! They went out one evening just before the sun went down and got busy flyin' those kites! Grandpa was a good sport about untangling all those strings when they crossed.

The sunset was such a pretty backdrop to this activity.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


A couple of weeks ago Jeremy's school did a fund raiser called "Pennies for Patients". The students could pay a dollar for a strip of duct tape used to tape their principal to the wall! The whole purpose of the duct tape was to see if they could use enough tape to get him to actually hang on the wall.
Jeremy stood on 2 chairs for about 30 minutes while all the students came up and strategically placed their tape. The organizers even started to give away the tape after everyone had spent all their money. Finally it was time for the big moment. They removed the chair and Jeremy hung there for about 3 seconds before the tape gave away and he fell to the ground.

One of Jeremy's favorite quotes of the day came from a student trying to get kids to buy the tape. He was shouting, "STICK IT TO THE MAN!" Until Jeremy shot him a warning glance and the kid quickly changed his tune, "STICK HIM TO THE WALL!"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jackson and the TP

Sorry, no picture for this one. This story goes down about the same as the last one with the cereal... I was next door talking to Kari for literally LESS THAN 5 MINUTES. Lizzie comes running in and whispers in my ear, "Jackson made water all over the floor in the bathroom." I nod at her and send her out the door so I can finish my conversation with Kari. I head back home and walk into the downstairs bathroom to find:

1. the sink STUFFED and completely clogged with toilet paper
2. the water running
3. water flowing onto the floor
4. about an inch of water waiting to be mopped up

Reminisce for a moment back to this story. (Click here to read other past adventures with Jackson and too much water on the bathroom floor.) Jeremy has already replaced the floor in this bathroom due to Jackson's shenanigans. The laminate apparently does not do well with water. In fact, it buckles and warps like you would not believe.

So, already knowing the damage that could be done to the still existing laminate out in the hallway, I began mopping up that water as quickly as possible. Once all the water was off the ground then came the laminate test. (Step on the floor boards and see if any water comes up through the seams.) One, two, cross my fingers, three... "Squish." Aw, man. Not the sound I wanted to hear. So, I stood there and "squished" as much water up and out from under the floorboards as I could hoping to high heavens that the water would not damage the floor too badly. (Jeremy does not need one more project right now, people.)

I did my best and hoped for the best, but Jackson still got me in the end. The water had gotten all the way to the door that leads out to the garage. Jeremy walked in the door from work and within 5 minutes noticed that edge was bowed and warped nicely from the water damage.

I know it's silly, but I honestly thought that the older he got, the less we'd see of these pranks. He'll be 3 next month so I guess that means we're out of the terrible twos and on to the terrible threes.

Jackson and the box of cereal

Lucky Charms to be exact. He is on a roll this week I tell you! Here's how it went down... I was next door working on baby shower favors and Lizzie comes to whisper in my ear, "Jackson just dumped out a whole box of cereal on the ground." I figured it was all in a pile in the kitchen and I could leave it alone for 5 minutes. Lo and behold, this is what I walked into 5 minutes later. Cereal spread EVERYWHERE. And not in the kitchen, mind you, but in the front room that had just been swept up nice and clean earlier that morning. But what you don't see is 5 kids running back and forth playing "chase" crunching every single piece of cereal into the ground and oooooh those marshmallows stuck like glue! The kids were promptly swept outside and those crumbs were swept into the garbage can, and vacuumed up from behind the piano, and vacuumed off the stairs, and swept up again, and the rug taken outside to pound out the crumbs.... it takes a long time to clean up all that fun! That reminds me of another story...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jackson and the Red Pen

(That sounds like a book title doesn't it? Maybe I should run with that idea and publish all these "Jackson stories" and get some compensation for all these experiences.)

Here's a forward to this story: About a month ago someone wrote on the wall with a red Sharpie. No amount of elbow grease, Magic Scrubber or Goof Off would take that off! One day, several days later, Jackson saw that someone had written on the wall. He was perturbed by this "messy" as he called it and came back to it with a Lysol wipe to try to "clean up". He gave up after a few minutes and forgot about it.


He found a red marker in the marker basket. Duh. And of course that triggered his excellent memory and he remembered what he had seen on the wall already. Of course he had to add more to it. Here's his latest masterpiece.

Here's what his face looked like after I found the mess.

Oh, but he was more than happy to help me wipe it up. Off he went again to get his own Lysol wipe and cheerfully cleaned up his own mess. I was just glad it was a Crayola marker and not a Sharpie this time around.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"egg"celent cupcakes

I must be in a baking mood this week...

I got this idea from Country Home magazine. I copied only the picture...

...not the recipe. Here's a link to the actual recipe if you'd like to try something from scratch. Me? I'm a cake mix kind of girl. Here's what I did...

1. Mixed up a Betty Crocker Lemon Cake Mix according to package directions

2. Baked in cupcake pan according to package directions

3. Frosted cupcakes with a tub of store bought Betty Crocker Lemon Frosting

4. Embellished cupcakes with crunchy chow mein noodles and speckled jelly beans

They were cute at the baby shower I took them to. Cute enough for a centerpiece, I thought. The kids wolfed down all the leftovers and especially enjoyed the crunchy noodles.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Brown bird, brown bird through my window...

What the heck!? How do these birds happen to fly into our house every year - always in the spring? And these guys are not smart creatures either. He tried to get out about 5 times by ramming into our closed windows! You think they'd learn. I guess that's where the term "bird brain" came from.

So this guy finally banged his head too many times and injured himself somehow. He was not moving - breathing yes - so still alive. I had to scoop him up (All by myself! Why do these things always happen when Jeremy is at work?) and gently take him back outside. He was miraculously gone a few minutes later. The kids like to think that the "birdie ambulance" came along and took him to the hospital to get repaired. I just hope he regained his senses and flew away before a cat got to him.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The first place I saw the idea for this cake was at my friend Heather's blog. Then I saw it on Jacinda's. She linked to this lady's blog where you can find her directions for making a DIET RAINBOW CAKE. Now, I did not have diet ingredients to make our cake with so I just used the regular ingredients that go into a box cake mix. Ours was NOT a diet cake. I also decided that cupcakes would be equally fun and maybe easier? So here are the directions according to ME!:

1. Mix up your white or yellow cake mix according to package directions (I used yellow because that's all I had. That worked out good because I was also all out of yellow food coloring! The yellow cake mix acted as my "yellow" in the rainbow.)

2. Scoop about 1 cup of your prepared cake mix into 5 or 6 small bowls depending on how many colors you want your rainbow cake to be. Then stir in your food coloring. I used large amounts of the Betty Crocker Classic Gel Food Colors.I only mixed 5 colors. (Like I said earlier, I was all out of yellow food coloring so I had to omit the "orange" layer of cake also. Nobody in my house even noticed!)

3. Place cupcake papers in your cupcake pans and get ready to be messy! Begin with your red cake mix. Scoop one spoonful into each cupcake paper.
Then one spoonful of yellow on top of the red.
then green,

then blue,
then purple!
4. Bake according to package directions.

5. Frost with a dollop of Cool Whip (the cloud)
6. Enjoy!

It looks so much prettier without the cupcake paper. And I also had some sliced strawberries to serve on the side to make it a Strawberry Shortcake Rainbow Cupcake. It was awesome.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Leprechaun Lunch

The kids got an extra special treat at Joy School this week. The leprechauns came and did some tricks while the kids were busy playing upstairs! They turned all our snacks green! Well, not all of our snacks - they left a rainbow of goldfish as well.

The leprechauns also left some green ribbon for the kids to play dress up. The girls got fancy leprechaun bows and the boys got bow ties. Can you tell the were loving it? Boy, they can be such hams!
And let's say a special hello to Benny who got to join us on this fun day. Hellooo Benny! We were so glad to have you for a visit. Come again soon - we loved having you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We're going green!

Due to scheduling conflicts we did our St. Patrick's Day celebration last night instead of today.

Here were our party guests: (Don't they all look fab in their party hats!?)

The festive decor:

- A "Rainbow" Chandelier

- A pot of gold for the centerpiece (UNDER our rainbow chandelier)
- rainbow fruit kabob bouquet
- gold coins sprinkled on the tablecloth
- green table runner
- green cups
- shamrock paper Dixie plates
- party hats

The delicious menu:

Green Waffles! (With our NEW 4 square waffle maker! All the ones we got for our wedding died this year - they lasted 11 years.)

Our traditional "Green Eggs & Ham"

Jeremy's favorite - GREEN milk!

Rainbow fruit kabobs - note the authentic Irish leaded glass vase Jeremy's grandparents brought home for us from their trip to Ireland

And for dessert - a RAINBOW cupcake with Cool Whip (cloud) frosting (recipe and directions coming soon! Stay tuned.)

The entertainment:

The kids all commented at the end of the evening:
"This was the best St. Patrick's Day ever!"
"Yeah, it was waaaay better than last year!"