Saturday, January 31, 2015

Superbowl Treats

Tomorrow is the Superbowl. Usually, I am fairly excited for the day even if my beloved Packers aren't playing. Football, family, halftime shows, funny/sweet commercials, and lots of tasty food. What's not to like? 

This year? I'm not excited. And that's putting it mildly. The halftime show is Katy Perry. Pass. The commercials have already been showing on the internet so that is a big bust. And I really don't like either team playing. Boo. I kind of feel like this:
I really don't think I'll even watch most of it. But, I will be making some treats. Because, why not, right?

Here are a few of my favorites:

Cheesey Chip Dip

1 pound ground beef
1 box of Velveeta Cheese
1 small jar of Salsa (mild, medium, or spicy to your liking)

While ground beef is being browned on the stove, cut the cheese into chunks and put in a crockpot. Add the salsa to the crockpot and cook both on High, stirring frequently, until the cheese is melted. When the meat is done add it to the crockpot and turn the setting to Low or a Keep Warm setting if you have one.  
It is easy peasy and super yummy. Everyone loves this dip.

The next one is the ever popular Rolo pretzel. I'm sure most of you have seen this one already but for those of you that haven't it is a must try. 

Rolo Pretzels

1 bag of Rolos
1 bag of walnuts
1 bag of pretzels
(you will have leftover supplies of walnuts and pretzels so you can buy extra bags of Rolos to make even more if you want)

Preheat oven to 325. Place tinfoil (I actually used wax paper but you have to be really careful with that in the oven- but the treats to stick as much to the wax paper) on a cookie sheet. Line up as many pretzels as you can fit on the sheet. Next place one Rolo directly on top of each pretzel. Place the cookie sheet in the oven for 2 minutes, just long enough to make the Rolo soft. Take the sheet out of the oven and immediately begin placing a walnut on top of each Rolo. Squish the walnut down into the Rolo so that the chocolate spreads and covers almost the whole pretzel. Set the tray aside (I usually set them outside in the cold for a little while to speed the process) to let them firm up. 
You don't have to worry about storing them because they won't last long enough to be stored. These are always gone the very day I make them. So simple and so delicious.

If you are looking to have something a little healthier you might want a fruit plate. If you don't want it  to be too healthy you can add this fruit dip.

Fruit Dip
1 8 ounce pkg of strawberry cream cheese
1 7 ounce jar of marshmallow cream
1 cup of whipped cream

Mix all three ingredients until blended and chill in the fridge for an hour or so before serving. You may want to add a little more whipped cream to get the dip to the consistency you like. 
I think the fruit dip might be my personal favorite. I feel good about myself eating so much fruit and it cuts the grease of all the other garbage I'm stuffing myself with. Stuff like my bacon wrapped water chestnuts, or bacon wrapped mini weenies, or little meatballs. I didn't include those recipes because most people have so many of those recipes already but obviously those are staples.

The last recipe is a little creation of my own. I don't even really have a name for it but it is another of my favs.

1 pkg of mozzarella pearls
1 small pkg of fresh basil leaves
1 small pkg of grape tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar
(optional- prosciutto)

Start by cutting the grape tomatoes in half. Slice the basil leaves into small sections about an inch each. On each toothpick place on mozzarella pearl, a basil leave (I usually fold them in half) and then a tomato. If you are using crumbled prosciutto I place it at the end. I prefer sliced prosciutto but then you have to slice it approximately the same size as the basil leaf, fold it over and place it in between the basil and tomato. Sometimes I make a plate with half with prosciutto and half without.

Once you have all you toothpicks organized on a plate and everyone is ready to eat sprinkle a bit of Balsamic vinegar over the whole plate. Do not to this too early because if it sits around too long it will start to make the basil soggy. Also, you don't want to add too much and overwhelm the plate.

This has become a family favorite. Every time I make this for an event someone asks me for the "recipe" or where I get the mozzarella pearls (most grocery stores have them in the "fancy cheese" section of the deli or produce areas).

There you have it people. Some super duper easy recipes for your Superbowl party.

Whatever you are doing tomorrow I hope it is delicious!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WW- Sweet Reward

After all the trouble with the Science Fair project it all worked out in the end. Joey and his friend ended up taking home 3rd prize. Yahoo! Todd and I joked that it would be pretty freaking funny if I ran up on stage, knocking Joey and his friend out of the way, and claimed the ribbon for myself. HA! I'm just glad the project is done and Joey is pleased with his ribbon. Win/win!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday, Monday

It was one of those mornings. The kind of morning that wakes you up an hour earlier than normal because your brain knows you have too much to do. I just knew that this was yet another Monday that cancels my yogalates class. There was no way (yet again) that I was going to be able to sneak it into my morning.

After attempting to fall back to sleep and failing I dragged myself out of bed and began to start the day. I knew this morning would be a massive rush because there were just too many "to do's" converging at the same time. I had to pack the boys' lunches, pack a snack for Grace, help Joey get everything together for his Science Fair presentation today, help Ben get everything together for his week as Star Student, get Grace and Ben going on breakfast, and I had to oversee the packing of all the backpacks with hats, gloves, mittens, boots, and snowpants. Oh yes, and today is crazy hair day at school. Yippee! So, I had to leave enough time to make the kids look "CRAZY". And the dog vomited too. So that was an added bonus.
(Joey did not want to participate in the crazy hair day since he had to present his Science Fair project. Understandable. I just hope he hasn't grown out of crazy silliness already.)

Somehow, we managed to make it out the door on time. I helped Ben and Joey carry all their gear into school, loaded Ben down with all his Star Student goodies, and ushered Joey down to the auditorium to help him set up his Science Fair project. Even though I'd brought my camera with me (of course) there was no time for pictures. Joey quickly flew upstairs before I could snap a few of him and his project. The kid loathes being late (though I don't think it has ever happened).

The rest of the morning followed suit. Books were returned to the library, a trip to the bank, grocery shopping (I don't know why I always do the weekly grocery shopping on Monday-ugh), sheets washed, breakfast dishes were cleaned up, house was picked up, and before I knew it it was time to pick Grace up from school again.

Nerves are added to the excitement and frenzy of today. Tonight Joey and Tommy will try out for the school musical The Wizard of Oz. For the past 3 or 4 years our school has been fortunate to have a couple (literally a husband and wife couple) of theater gurus direct musicals at our school. They get a bunch of their theater friends to help out with stage direction, choreography, music, costumes, and props and the final product is quite amazing. Last year's production of Annie blew me away. I have been in MANY theater company productions and this school production was definitely up to par. Our school has many brave and talented students, teachers, and parents. Kids in grades 4-8, teachers, and parents of students, are all encouraged to try out. Last year Joey didn't want to try out for Annie (not that many boy parts) but this year both Tommy and Joey were excited to give it a shot. The boys asked me if I'd try out with them and seeing as how I have been feeling the stage calling me back recently I thought it would be a perfect opportunity. So, tonight the three of us will be at school for auditions.

I know the busy madness and nerves will continue this afternoon and evening. The kids come home from school, homework is taken care of, snacks are handed out, Joey and Tommy go over their auditions and fill out their audition sheets, more picking up the house (drying snow clothes, putting away shoes and backpacks and blah, blah, blah). Then I have to stuff food down the kids' throats so we can quickly usher Joey off to basketball practice from 6-7:30 and then Tommy and I can run out to school for auditions at 7. Joey will meet us at auditions after his basketball practice. We'll get home sometime around 8 or 9 and the kids will be ushered off to bed as quickly as possible. At which point I will mostly likely collapse into a worthless heap, grab a cocktail, and watch mindless and embarrassing Monday night tv.

Ah Monday. I'm so glad you only come once a week.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wise Decision

At the beginning of the school year Todd and I made the difficult decision to enroll Grace in a new school. Our kids' school stopped offering the half day option for kindergarten and I just didn't want to put Grace in school full time yet, for multiple reasons. I, along with a number of other parents, implored the principal to change her mind and allow the half day option but she held firm. So, Grace began at a lovely school just down the road from where we live.

Grace was sad that she wasn't going to school with her brothers anymore, and she really loved her friends and teacher at her old school, but she was a tremendous sport about having to change schools. My shy little girl went into the new school and tried her best.

In reward for her good attitude and effort I attempted to use our time together outside of school for fun. When I picked Grace up at lunch time we would often go to the farmer's market and have lunch together.
I learned to french braid Grace's hair and painted her nails. We had a lot of special "girl" time.
We did a lot of baking together. Banana bread is one of Gracie's favorites and we made it often. She got really good at smashing those bananas.
Of course, we made a lot of cookies too. And she was a huge help rolling the ginger snap cookies in sugar so I could just keep making the balls. It went so quickly with my little helper.
There was a half an hour between dropping the boys off at school in the morning and dropping Grace off so, many times, we would go down to the lake and read books together. Basically, I was trying to use every spare minute I had with her knowing this would be the last year of having her all to myself for those few hours.
I even got to go along on the class field trips to the zoo and have more special time with my girl.
And Grace did make a few new friends that helped her feel more comfortable at her new school.
But Grace never stopped asking the same question. Multiple times a week Grace would ask when she could go back to her old school. She really missed her brothers. She missed her friends. She missed her teacher. She missed not being able to talk about and learn about God. She just never felt at home at her new school. She never looked forward to going to school.

When Christmas rolled around and we went to the boys' Christmas concert it was hard for Grace not to be a part of it. She had loved it so much the year before and I could tell she was missing it. Her friends all rushed up to her and hugged her but then she had to watch them go up in front of church and sing without her. Her new school had a holiday concert too, but it just wasn't the same. I was shocked to see that Grace didn't even really look happy up on stage. It hit me kind of hard. My little lady, brave as she was being, was just not as happy at her new school.

So, shortly before Christmas, when the principal at her old school resigned I decided to ask the interim principal (along with the kindergarten teacher) if they would be okay with Grace attending half days starting second semester. Both the teacher and the principal were happy to offer half days again and would welcome Grace back with open arms. I was so excited I could barely contain myself. I knew Grace would be thrilled. Grace would be back at school with her brothers, her friends, and the same teacher she had for 3K and 4K. It was exciting, people! The only hitch was trying to keep it a secret from her. I couldn't tell her the news before Christmas because that would be too long to wait. I decided to wait until last Tuesday to tell her the good news. 

To say she was happy would be an understatement.
The boys were equally happy for her. There was so much screaming and yelling and laughing and jumping around, I thought my ears were gonna burst.

Today was Grace's first day back at her old school. The school had started a new uniform policy this year and Grace was SO EXCITED to try on her new school clothes. 
Grace's teacher had told the kids that Grace was coming back and they were all waiting on pins and needles for the day to come. It was an exciting moment when Grace walked into school this morning. Watching all of her friends cram in around her as she put her things away, giving her hugs, helping her sort, and showing her where her bin was, was just so precious. Grace finally looked like she was at home again.
When Grace got home from school she was all smiles. She can't wait for school again tomorrow. She hasn't said that in a LONG time. She was so anxious that she decided to try on a bunch more of her school clothes. She put on a bit of a fashion show.  
I must say, I am loving the uniform policy. The clothes are cute and comfortable and super durable. A handful of shirts, a couple pair of slacks, a skirt (I think I'm getting her the plaid jumper too cuz it is SO cute), a cardigan, and a sweater, and the possibilities are endless. Just one more plus in this whole scenario. It is a win/win all the way around.

I am so happy for my girl. She is back where she belongs.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Wisconsin is cold in winter. Very cold. Just in case you didn't know.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bee Buds

I never used to be a good speller. I was pretty awful, actually. I remember writing notes to my bff and she would correct all of my spelling mistakes and the notes would be covered in red ink when she wrote back to me. Spelling just never really made all that much sense. So many rules and each rule is broken often (so, why even have a rule?). 

As I've gotten older I have become a much better speller. I decided that memorization was the only way to go and I made a concerted effort to memorize words that always tripped me up before. Surprisingly, even with my hubby's big brain, I am the go to in the family if you have any questions about the spelling of a word. Even Todd will ask me how to spell a word, which is really funny when you think about it. Mister genius needs to ask his dyslexic wife how to spell a word. Ha! 

Anyway, it took a lot of work for me to be comfortable with spelling. 

My boys? Not so much. They are naturals. They always have been. They've always had weekly spelling tests at school and it was very rare if they did not get 100%. I would help them study by calling out the word and they could spell it, just like that. I always had to write the word down to spell it, but their young sharp minds can just spell the words out. 

Which brings us to this past week and the Spelling Bee at the boys' school. Both Joey and Tommy were representing their classes in the competition.

It was Tommy's first time in the Spelling Bee and he was so nervous. He really didn't want to get out in the first round. Joey tried to make him feel better and remind him that he already beat out the rest of his classmates to get on stage so he already did a great job. 

The boys both did well, lasting round after round. Tommy was so relieved not to be out in one round. Both boys got caught up on words they hadn't heard before, which is usually how it goes. I can't imagine having to stand up on stage and spell a word out. Sounds a bit nightmarish to me. I'd probably get the most basic word wrong simply because of nerves.  

I was proud of the boys and they were proud of themselves.
The best part, for me, was watching my boys together. They are such good friends. When they got up on stage they immediately sat next to each other, not their other friends. They were cracking each other up and trying to calm each other's nerves. Then the participants all had to draw cards to see what order they would sit in and, wouldn't you know it, Joey and Tommy got to sit next to each other again. Watching them high five each other and give pats on the backs time and again was just so heartwarming. Even a few teachers and parents mentioned it to me. Despite the occasional fights and spats at home my kids really like each other. They're buds. What more can a mother ask for?
Trying their best.
The Spelling Bee was only open to 3rd graders and up so Ben was not eligible this year but he was cheering his brothers on in the audience. However, Ben may be the best speller in the family. It makes me wonder if maybe next year, or the year after, all three boys will have a chance to sit on that stage together. The Three Spelling Musketeers.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Lazin' Into The New Year

So far, I am really enjoying 2015. It has been my most relaxing year to date. Granted, we are only four days in, but I am really feeling 2015. Maybe it will be my year of calm. 

I can dream.

It helps that New Year's was on a Thursday. That way the kids don't go back to school just for Friday so school resumes on Monday the 5th. That is a whole lot of nice downtime. 

And after our little shindig we had at our house on New Year's Eve I definitely needed a little recovery time. Oh, it was nothing wild. Just our typical appetizers, board games, cards, juice in wine glasses for the kids, cocktails for the adults. Except our little party seems to get bigger and bigger every year. And more fun. 
When the evening began I didn't think I'd make it until midnight. At 8:00 I was already tired and so was everyone else. Perhaps we'd stuffed ourselves with too much food. I did go a little overboard again. But, then we started a game of Catchphrase and everyone got their second wind. We all made it to midnight and beyond. I was stuffed with cocktails and far too many decadent appetizers and it was way past my bedtime. The next day was definitely a recovery day.

The kids were pretty exhausted the next day too. Apparently, not too exhausted to go outside and play football. I don't know how they did it. I stayed inside and read for a good portion of the day. And in the afternoon everyone lay down for a little while to try and make up for our sleep deficit. It was a good way to begin a new year.
The next day was much of the same. Although I did go for a nice (but cold) run so I actually did accomplish something. But other than that run, not so much.

Usually I would be running around like a crazy person, dismantling the Christmas trees and decorations and getting everything stored away for another year. Then I would begin the cleaning process and putting the house back in order, all the while scolding and rescolding the kids about putting their toys away. But, so far, I haven't done any of that. Zip. Zero. Zilch. I have done nothing but read, relax, let the kids play and run around the house like little banshees, and fix meals. I'm telling you, it has been pretty freeing. The house looks a bit messy and I just let it. Weird. But nice.

I don't know what has gotten into me. 

Today the kids finally got some snow that they've been hoping and praying for. There still wasn't enough to go sledding or make a snowman but there was enough to go outside and roll around in it for a while. 
I was surprised at how long the kids stayed outside. It was cold. And windy. By the time they came in Ben's cheeks had scary read circles on them with white in the middle. It looked really painful but he didn't complain and soon he was back to normal. 

When everyone was back inside warming up Grace decided it was time to use her most favorite Christmas gift. The only thing Grace had asked Santa for this Christmas was an Easy Bake Oven. I never did understand the appeal of those things but Grace really, really wanted one. And she got one. Today she finally got to put it to use and made chocolate chip cookies with her new oven.
She was so stinking excited she could barely stand still. Her brothers were curious too and came over to watch. I think they just wanted to be sure they got to taste the cookies.
Waiting for the oven to heat up and then bake the cookies was difficult. It takes a while. Patience is needed. But Gracie was too excited to care. She basically danced the whole time.
Grace was so proud of her cookies. They actually tasted pretty good. Better than I had expected.
Todd put in an order for 10,000 more for next deer season so she'd better get started now. I'm sure she won't mind.

Tonight is my last night of sloth. Tomorrow school begins again. And with it basketball, boy scout meetings, choir practices, dance classes, and all that other good stuff. Plus, I will have to take down the Christmas decorations eventually. But I'm not stressing. I'm chillin'. It's all good. It'll get done sometime. For now, I'm just enjoying the moment.

(seriously, WHAT has gotten into me?)

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

It may be a brand new year but each day is a fresh start too. A chance to do better, forgive, start again, lend a hand, be brave, be kind, be compassionate, laugh, seek joy, dance, work hard, play hard, love harder.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year filled with 365 fresh starts.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson