Monday, January 31, 2011

Super Bowl

Are you a Super Bowl watcher?

Do you watch for the game or the commercials?

We're not big football fans around here (ssshhhh don't let my side of the family hear that). I love going to college football games, but I don't care much about pro football and I've never been big on watching sports on TV.

So Brooke says the other night "Superbowl is boring. Why do we watch it?"

My answer was "Well. Because it's an American tradition. And the commercials are funny."

But she's right, otherwise it is pretty much boring and just about the menu, right?! :) For those of us non-football kind of people.

Though if it's a good, close game, I do tend to enjoy it a bit and get more into it.

So, what do you do to make Super Bowl a little more fun for your kiddos?
What is on your Super Bowl menu? (I think we're having a nacho bar).

I'd like to make it funner for the girls, without a whole lot of prep from me. (I've got an insanely busy week and then I get to go away for a scrapbook weekend!!).

And, who are you rooting for? Or are you just a commercial watcher?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Modern Family-TV Show

Last week, a friend of mine was telling me how funny she thinks the show "Modern Family" is... so I dvr'd this week and we just watched it tonight.

While I think it is a sad state of affairs that the real modern family today often includes divorce, and does not always consist of a mother (female) and father (male), I did still find the show totally funny. It did ring true though... whether right or wrong (and that's not for me to judge), today's "modern family" snapshots are not the same as they were 50 years ago!

One family's bit on the show tonight made me laugh and think of Matt and I. We've had several moments of, um...heated discussion...when I'm adamant that "his way" is not the ONLY "right way." (This is my blog, so I can say it like this. IF it was his blog, he may word it!). That family bit also touched on "both parents can't be fun. There's one fun parent, and the other one has to be the responsible one." I wonder who plays the "fun" role in this house? I think it's usually me.... though Matt has his moments too! Perhaps the show is wrong... maybe there can only be one fun parent at a time, but we can take turns :)

There was another family where the (spanish-accented) wife was looking everywhere for her keys. The kid was in a mood, the dad was being sarcastic, "told you so"-ish, and unhelpful. The best part of the show is when the mom got her hands on the kid's new bb gun. Funny!

If you're looking for some laughs...and a break from all the reality shows (I'm a reality show junkie indeed), "Modern Family" might be a fun one for you to catch!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge 2011- #4

Today I present to you: Cheeseburger Chowder.
While the name may not be overly appealing, once I read the recipe, I decided it might be worth trying.
This recipe came from a cookbook published by the grocery store that I grew up with, Hy Vee. My mom bought me their "Seasons-Comfort Foods" cookbook a few years ago. It's got some good stuff in it!

Here's the recipe...or my variation thereof.
Brown 1 lb ground beef, drain and set aside.
In large stockpot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and saute 3/4 cup chopped onion and 3/4 cup shredded carrot with 1.5 tsp of Mrs. Dash until veggies are tender.
(Angie note: it also called for 3/4 cup diced celery which I did not have, nor am I a huge fan of cooked celery. and the Mrs. Dash was used since I did not have any dried basil or parsley...and I was out of Italian seasoning which would have been my first replacement for those two!).
Add cooked beef, 4 cups diced/peeled potatoes and 3 cups of beef broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.

While that is simmering, in a small saucepan melt 3 Tablesppons butter. Add 1/4 cup flour, cook and stir for a few minutes. Add 1.5 cups of milk, and once that is whisked smooth, add in 8 ounces of Velveeta, stirring until it is fully melted.
Add cheese sauce mix to the stockpot and heat through. Stir in 1/4 cup sour cream the last few minutes of cooking.

We served this with some breadsticks, which was great for mopping up every last bite.

I'm so glad I tried this one. It was so good.... hearty, good flavor, inexpensive, and easy.
Matt really liked it. I really liked it.
Brooke gave it two thumbs up.
Hannah had spaghetti-o's.
So.... I challenge you, my readers. To try one of the four recipes I've posted so far this year and report in.... OR share some other new recipe you have tried. You can post it in the comments section.
Have a great night!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

10 Random Things About Me

10. I did not have any allergy problems at all until I moved to Kansas. Now I go a day without taking a Claritin, and I am stealing my daughter's inhaler.

9. I like watching the "Lockdown" shows. Hopefully it's the only way I will ever see the inside of a place like that!

8. I've started going to Zumba on Mondays. I like it a lot but I'm sure I look like a total idiot. But it's a great workout and a lot of fun!

7. While I temporarily enjoyed a lull in my baking biz after the holiday craziness, I'm ready for things to pick back up again so I can enjoy more baking!

6. I hate mushrooms and black olives. Both of my girls love black olives. They are weird.

5. I'd like to write a book. I have no idea what kind, and can't ever think of a way to get started, but I'd sure like to.

4. I'm a smutty romance novel junkie. Right now I'm reading a lot of Roxann St Claire. I really like smutty romance mixed with mystery. Julie Miller is also a good author for that.

3. I love New Kids on the Block, Bon Jovi, and the Black Eyed Peas. Quite a mix, don't you think?

2. My fingers swell up like vienna sausages when I go for walks. They kind of do that at night too... and the morning after I've had chinese food or Papa Murphys, you can forget about the wedding ring!

1. I love random acts of kindness. Performing them, that is. Don't recall many times I've been on the recieving end, but I love doing them to other people.

Have a great day, blog readers!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Camera Shy Cinderella

Hannah and I had a few days this week where we stayed home all day. (If I seem a little crazy to you, it would be stir-crazy!).

She decided she wanted a dress. We got out the Cinderella dress.

Did you know Cinderella was not running because she was late for midnight? Actually she was running because she was trying to get away from the MamaRazzi's camera.

I got one good shot in before she took off on me. Notice the gloves. She had to have gloves, and these are all I could find.

"Oh no! Not a camera!"

Runs so fast she is a blur...

Making her escape out of the dining room. You can literally run circles around the main floor of our house...and that's what we did :)

"Can I escape up the stairs? No, not in this dress! My feet keep getting caught!"

"Mamarazzi.... I told you, no pictures!"

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Dear God,

I just wanted to send you a reminder that I like SNOW.

Notice the period behind the word SNOW.

Not SNOW with subzero temperatures where we have two snow days but it's too cold to go outside and play.

And not ICE...that makes me stay home yet another day with my two year old and get a little more stir crazy.

I'm pretty sure i don't need any help in the crazy department. I've got enough stuff on my mind driving me there anyways, without spending so much time amongst my walls.

So, would you please send us a nice big pile of SNOW. On a Friday afternoon would be ideal.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge 2011 -#3

This week's recipe was one my mother-in-law suggested. It came from a cookbook she picked up in Russell, Kansas, called the Prairiesta Cookbook.

The recipe is Cheesey Baked Chimichangas.

In a large skillet, cook 1.5 lbs ground beef and 1/2 cup chopped onion. Drain. Stir in 1/4 tsp garlic salt, 1/2 tsp seasoning salt, 1 tsp chili powder, and 1 tsp cumin. Also add 1/4 cup salsa and 1/8 cup water.

I added all these things...decided it looked too dry, so I added in more garlic, more chili powder, and about 4 ounces of tomato sauce.

Warm six large flour tortillas in the microwave. Brush one side of each tortilla with canola oil. Spoon 1/4 cup of beef mixture (or a little more) on oiled side of tortilla. Top with shredded cheese (monterey jack or cheddar). Fold sides in and roll up from ends. Place in greased 9x13 pan.

Continue till all your meat mixture is used up, about six chimis.

Brush tops of all of them with oil.

Bake uncoverd at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with extra cheese and bake 2 minutes longer.

Serve topped with sour cream and salsa.

Here's a pic of my chimi with the side salad and chips I had along with it:

Brooke said it was good but I'm not sure she gave it two thumbs up.

Matt said it needed more seasonings, that it was a little bland for his liking.

I thought I'd rather replace the seasonings with a good ol package of taco seasoning and call it good.

Hannah thought it should be spaghetti-o's and meatballs.

I liked how they got crispy, were easy to make, and easy to serve. You could wrap them individually and freeze them to throw in your hubby's lunch quite easily.

I say, give them a try, but doctor them up a little bit more than the recipe says!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Photography assignments

There are not enough hours in the day....

Not enough hours, at least, that are not already spoken for by children, husband, sleep, and meal preparation.

The remaining hours must be split between travel agent work, baker-chic work, cleaning up the house, doing laundry, grocery list making, blogging, facebooking, PTO, emailing, and the daily allotment of DVR'd shows. Because I'll flat out tell you, when the kiddos go to bed, I'm done with "must-dos" for the day. There will be no cleaning the bathroom at 9p.m. for this mother. Nope.

However, not matter how hard I try, I always struggle to get hobbies worked into my day, such as scrapbooking and photography.

I like to take pictures. I like to scrapbook. I'm going on a scrapbook retreat in a few weeks (woohooo!), and I seriously need to get my shit stuff organized.

So I take pics of life going on, but purposeful pictures are few and far between.

I'm trying to keep up with a photography assignment through MCP actions where they give us a topic per week, for all 52 weeks of the year. I missed the first one (around the house) though if i would have submitted, it might have been that hipstamatic picture of Hannah's backpack.

Last week was "a picture to illustrate a song" I did this picture and titled it "Angel" by Aerosmith:

This week the assignment is shades of grey, so I worked on a few pictures of Brooke:

And then over on Pioneer Woman, her most recent photo assignment was food. I'm not the most stellar food photographer, but these are the ones I submitted over there.

Orange Leaf, on my iphone!

Not the greatest photograph, but a DAMN AWESOME cake!

I love this picture. Don't you just want to take a bite? It was one of three large goodie trays I did for a local business for their holiday open house:

Little Monsters that I baked the other day with Hannah and her friend Maddi.

I don't expect to ever get selected to make their "favorites" selections, but I do love the challenge of a photography assignment.
Here's hoping we all can squeeze out an extra hour this week to do something we consider an indulgence of our time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Well that just sucks.

I'm very sad.

I just got a phone call I did not like.

If you remember at the beginning of the year, we had trouble with the new bus driver.

Thankfully, we got last year's bus driver, Greg, back. It was so wonderful to have him back. He's like a part of our family.

I got a call from Greg a few minutes ago. He wanted to tell me that he bid a new route so he could get more hours. And he got it. Which is great for him, because a bigger paycheck is always nice. but it is sad for us...because he won't have our route anymore.

His new route is longer, or something like that. Whoever gets him, I hope you know how lucky you are and are thankful. And you better take good care of the best bus driver ever.

boo. hoo.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Laundry Hostage

I hate doing laundry.

Washing. Drying. Fine. Putting away? Not so fun.

I feel like a hostage to laundry sometimes. Forced to do something against my will. Dreading the moment. Praying for release from the pile. Wishing someone would take it away from me.

Really, not that dramatic. But I don't like it.

But this is what I saw in my dryer today, and after my initial heart attack, I had to laugh.

Maybe I should wash stuffed animals with a magnet in their collar more often. Makes laundry so much more interesting.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge- #2

This morning we woke up to a gorgeous blanket of snow. It was a wonderful day! (Unfortunately, it was not a snow day for Brooke, but Hannah and I had a good day!). The weather put me in the mood for SOUP!

A few years ago, I went on a girls' weekend to Kansas City with two of my best girls, Debbi and Sarah. We had a great time shopping, then got all dolled up for a nice dinner and some fun at the casino. We ate at a yummy restaurant at the Argosy Casino, and I got Kansas City Steak Soup for my starter. I've wanted to try to make it ever since but have never stumbled across a recipe that seemed like it would be close.

Today, I thought I'd try again. I found a base recipe on (one of my go-to sites) and tweaked it from there. Here's the lo-down on my version of Kansas City Steak Soup:

Many of the ingredients.... though after I took this picture and continued on, I changed a few things...again. lol.

I think you could use many different cuts of beef in this...steak, roast, stew meat...maybe even hamburger. I had a 1-lb. package of kabob meat in the freezer from my local meat market, Satchel Creek Steaks. I decided it would work. I drizzled a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and got it hot, then tossed in the meat and about a 1/2 cup of diced onion. (I used a red onion because that's what I had on hand!).

While the meat was browning away, in a stock pot I melted 1.5 sticks of margarine. Then I whisked in 2/3 cup of flour. Once it's mixed and smooth, let it cook a bit. I learned that at my "Art of Entertaining" class on our last Disney cruise. When making a roux, you have to let the butter/flour mixture cook a bit, don't just dive right into the liquids!

Now it's time to add about 2 cups of water. Whisk till smooth. lumps are not our friend.

Meat check: almost there! I gave this another stir and let it go about 2 more minutes from this point:

Once the roux mixture had thickened up to a good gravy consistency, I added in 2 more cups of water, 6 beef bouillon cubes (I think I would have done maybe 2 more if I had any more!), a can of beef consomme, a can of diced tomatoes, and 1/2 a sack of frozen peas/carrots. I decided (after the ingredient pic was taken) to use those instead of fresh carrots, and it worked out great! You could use any frozen veggie mixture you want, but this is what I had on hand.

Also, dump the contents of the meat skillet right in here too. If it's too greasy, drain most of it off, but what I was using was a pretty lean cut.

Season with salt and pepper, put the lid on...

Turn the pot on low so it can simmer for a few hours, stirring occasionally.

Go outside and play in the snow:

My little pink marshmallow making snow angels, waiting for Brooke and Daddy to get home.

Brooke getting ready to eat some snow. It was not yellow.

After about an hour of playtime, we came back inside to thaw and dry out. The soup was almost ready, but after a taste test I did add about 2 tsp of garlic powder and about 4 dashes of Worshestire sauce.

I popped a can of Grands Biscuits in the oven (I don't think there is much that beats a Grands Biscuit in the biscuit category of life). Checked to see if my variation of Strawberry pretzel salad had set up (it had)... and got it all ready.

Here's our meal!!

The soup was hearty, rich, and fabulous. Brooke gave it two thumbs up, Matt did too but he didn't want a picture. This is definately a keeper, and a good one to take to a friend/neighbor needing a meal. A lot of the stuff is probably in your pantry!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thru the new Iphone App...

I got a new app on my iphone. I like love it.

It's called Hipstamatic and it's a photography thing... you take pictures on it like its a vintage camera... and selecting the different types of film gives you different looks, finishes, feels.... it's vintagey. it's funky. it's cool.

Thought I'd give you some peeks at my world, not through the looking glass....but through the Iphone App :)
Hannah's little Minnie backpack can always be found hanging on the closet door back by the garage entrance. Usually it has a change of pants and a pull up in it for Mom's Day Out, but everynow and then you'll find something else has been stuck into it, like... an alarm clock. Or a Barbie boot.

Yes, readers, I am showing you a picture of one of the toilets in my house. But it's what is ON the toilet that you're supposed to see. I recently changed our half bath (which is a neighbor to Hannah's backpack) to a beach theme. We've got a nice caribbean blue-green color in there (with a white wall too), and some fun beachy knicknacks. Including this lovely jar of sand and sea shells.
As a complete side note.... this jar has been around for awhile. Back in college (1997 to be exact) I bought it, and painted my then-boyfriend's (Josh) name on it with the date, in Iowa State colors. Then I filled it with Hershey Kisses. We broke up, it was one of the things i got back for some reason... and so I used nail polish remover to take off the butthead's name and it has served several purposes since then. So far, this one is my favorite.
I have a collection of cool glass bottles in a bunch of colors above my cupboards in my kitchen. I wish I had more (this is just a few of them). They're gorgeous colors and when the rope lighting up there is turned on in the evening, they illuminate quite nicely.
I love this bed. Some nights when we are sooo tired, and there are fresh sheets and we get snuggled into bed, I sigh in contentment and say "I love my bed." I do.
On my dresser sits this beautiful framed picture of Brooke. It was taken at my mom's wedding when Brooke was six months old. She was the flower girl a.k.a. wedding princess. The church was not air conditioned so it was HOT.... so she was sitting there in a diaper, frilly socks, and a headband trying to relax before we had to put on the dress for the ceremony to start. I adore this picture!
Pretty cool app, don't you think? I'm debating taking some pics of some of my pics from our vacation and getting prints like this for some fun pages in the scrapbook.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Family Found

When I posted my year-in-review post on New Year's Eve, I said that we had a family get together with my mom's side of the family in June...but I couldn't find the pictures! I found them, so thought i'd post a few!

My cousin, Danica. She is two years younger than me and we've always been close. We grew up spending a lot of time together, some of my happiest memories are ones spent at their farm. We don't see each other as often as we should now, nor do we talk as much, but we've got one of those relationships where we will always know we'll be a BFF to each other no matter how long it's been. She's the one that came down to go to the New Kids on the Block concert with me in July 2009....and I'll be heading up to go to one with her in July 2011!! :)

Here are Danica and I's children... my two girls, and her daughter Kaisa, and son Thorstan.

Thorstan is just a few months older than Hannah, and Brooke is almost 2 years older than Kaisa.

The other two "Iowa" grandkids (this side of the family has the "floridians" and then the "Iowans" even though we "Iowans" are now in Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas). This is my nephew Brayton (in the blue) and Danica's nephew Joshua. (Joshua belongs to my cousin Derek and his wife Kelly). Both of these little guys turned one this past summer.... and Brayton will be a big brother in a few weeks and Joshua will be a big brother in June I think. Since this get together, our family had another new arrival-- Blake... born to my cousin Nick and his wife Katie. We've got babies everywhere! (Except here! lol).

A family get together with these guys is not complete without some games and without breaking out the poker table. Kelly (in red) is always the only girl to jump in on the poker action.

The little girlie cousins... Hannah, Brooke and Kaisa.

Love my family get togethers!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge 2011- #1

I put "#1" in the title because if all things go as planned, we should end up with "#52" by the end of December.

We'll see how it goes.

Tonight I tried the first new recipe of the year.

It is from this book:

If you are not familiar with Gooseberry Patch cookbooks, you should head over to their website. I have not looked through all of their product line, but I have several of their cookbooks and I just love them. They're fun and homey, with little tidbits to read along with fabulous recipes.

So tonight I made "Waikiki Meatballs." It was supposed to be an appetizer, but I paired them with some homemade fried rice and some pineapple and made it a meal.

The recipe itself was simple and I had everything on hand except the pineapple tidbits, which I picked up at the store today. I'll share with you the variation that I went with. That is what I'll be doing on this whole journey, because I usually tailor recipes to fit our specific tastes. For example, this recipe calls for chopped green peppers in the sauce. None of us like peppers, so there were none in my batch!

Since I changed the recipe does that make them Maui Meatballs instead of Waikiki? Or how about Oahu Balls? You decide.

Mix together 1.5 lbs lean ground beef, 2/3 c. cracker crumbs, 1/3 c minced onion (I didn't feel like mincing an onion so I just used the dry flake stuff and not that much), 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ginger and 1/4 c milk. Mix together and form into one to two-inch balls and brown in skillet. Set aside. In a saucepan (that will hold all your balls too), combine 1/2 c brown sugar with 2 Tbs of cornstarch. Whisk in the juice from a 20 oz can of pineapple chunks, 1/3 c vinegar, and 1 T soy sauce. Bring to a simmer. Mixture will thicken as it simmers. Toss in the meatballs and the pineapple (and the 1/4c chopped green peppers if you like) and simmer until all is heated through and the meatballs are happily coated.

Here is my plate:

Brooke gave this two thumbs up. (The picture is a little wonky because I discovered later my camera was on the night setting. weird). She had her meatballs gone before I even sat down with my plate. Such a good eater.

Hannah had spaghetti-os. She's a horrible eater right now. She eats waffles with chocolate chips for breakfast. Spaghettio's with meatballs and nuggets for lunch and dinner. That's about the extent of her repetoire..though on a good day I can get her to eat some apples with peanut butter or even more rarely brocolli with ranch. I'll keep trying though!

Matt says it's a keeper. I liked them too.

I think the sauce would actually be fairly versatile... you could put in browned chunks of steak for a sweet-sour-beef type dish... I even think some grilled chicken might be good.

What new recipe are you going to concoct this week? If it's yummy, do share it with me!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge - 2011

I bet you think this post is going to be about New Year's Resolutions.

I prefer to not call this project by such a name.

NYResolutions never seem to make it.

Granted, since I am going on a cruise in 5 months, you can bet I'm stepping up my exercise regimen and stepping down my calorie intake. I have a new bathing suit to buy. (blech).

And granted, I'm hoping to get myself to kick the nail-nibbling habit AGAIN. I did it before, then when Brooke started kindergarten it kind of sent me into a tail spin. I've gotta get back on track there, because I'd like pretty nails on the end of my fat fingers.

But the Worthwhile Challenge 2011 is a challenge I'm putting upon myself that I am going to share with you here on this blog, and with my family at the kitchen table.

I'm challenging myself to try at least ONE new recipe PER WEEK. Now, Julie on "Julie and Julia" made about 370 new recipes in one year. My goals are not that lofty, nor am I that crazy. But I've got a slew of cookbooks, and a bunch of cooking sites/blogs that I like, so I figure it's time to set forth a plan to actually try some of the stuff.

Each week I will post a report on the recipe I tried for that week. It may or may not include pictures. But I'll tell you how I made it, how it turned out, and if we think we'll eat it again :)

So if a week goes by without a "new recipe report".... give me a nudge and remind me!

And perhaps on the weeks where the new recipe is high in calories, I'll also report my excerise accomplishments too ;)

Who wants to join me in this challenge? If you do, leave me a note....and each week you are welcome to send me your recipe to include on my report as well. (Or link to the recipe if it's online). If you've got a blog and want to link back to this post and do the Worthwhile Challenge and report it on your blog too- go for it :)

Have a great day!