Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge week 13- a new banana muffin

A long time ago, I posted a recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins. My kiddos love them, we all do.

The other day, however, when Hannah spent the morning at Grandmas house, they made these "Best Banana Muffins" from a small town cookbook called the Prairiesta Cookbook. I have a copy of this as well, and it has a lot of stuff in it! I'd have to say, if I were going to make banana muffins, I might pick these new ones first! Hannah and I made a batch the next day, and they are yummy!

With mixer, beat 3 ripe bananas, 2 eggs, 1 stick of softened margarine or butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 cup of brown sugar. (yes, brown. yum). Mix thoroughly, then add in 2 cups of flour and 1 tsp baking soda. If you're a nut, you can add in nuts. I am not a nut fan in baked goods.

(Okay, let's be honest, most baked goods have pecans or walnuts, two nuts that I absolutely hate. I'll eat cashews, almonds, and peanuts by the handful, but keep the pecans and walnuts to yourself!).

Bake in muffin pan lined with cupcake liners (filled about 3/4 full). Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. These are so good. I prefer my muffins warm with butter on them. Like this one:

So yummy.

While my little chocoholic hannah gobbles down the ones with chocolate chips better, I think this one is my favorite. And right below this recipe in that cookbook? Herbed Monkey Bread. Soooooo going on my list of ones to try!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Can Only Imagine

Seven years ago this week, I was on bedrest, anxiously wondering when my baby was going to arrive.

I had blood pressure problems, and was so nervous about giving birth, the baby being okay, everything going fine.

I was driving in the car somewhere and this song came on the radio. I sang along and had goosebumps. Though this song is about Jesus, I thought some of the lyrics applied to my thoughts on this baby.

"I can only imagine, what it will be like, when I walk by your side..."
"I can only imagine what my eyes will see, when your face is before me..."
"What will my heart awe of you be still?"...
"Will I sing hallelujiah, will I be able to speak at all?"...

I had goosebumps and tears as I drove, imagining what it would be like to meet my baby after the long road. The crazy doctor. The high blood pressure. I could only imagine. And my imagination did not do justice for just how amazing it was when that little girl was in my arms...

Listen to it once, and imagine meeting your baby for the first time.

Listen to it again, and think of Jesus (the way the song was intended).

Either's moving. oxoxox

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge week 12- four ingredients to fabulous?

I saw a super simple dessert recipe over on the Joy's hope blog (it's on my sidebar).

It was for "Four ingredient blondies" simple. sounded good, and we needed something sweet in this house, since my kids have been nothing but piss and vinegar the last few days (to coin a phrase from various old folks!).

I'm not sure I would label this fabulous. Easy? Yes. Good? Yes? Do in a pinch? Fo Sho. Not a show stopper. Not something I'd whip up for company coming. But will we eat the whole pan? Oh...probably.

Here's the recipe. You have to love it for the simplicity and for the fact that you probably have all four ingredients.
Melt one stick of butter (I used margarine).
Mix with one yellow cake mix and two eggs.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread in a greased 9x13 pan and bake till done. I threw in some heath bits on mine too, which I liked.

Over on Joy's Hope, she speculated you could do this with any cake mix/stir-in type combo. I'm not sure. Maybe. But I can tell you that this version worked for me!

Time to get these monkeys in the tub so we can employ the electronic babysitter (TV) for awhile before bed.

The rest of the Iowa trip

The rest of the trip to iowa....a quick photo recap Kennady and I. Dear Kennady, I hope you don't get the Dean family neck/chin thing. It's a curse. Love Aunt Angie. Brooke and Kennady. This was Sunday morning at my brother and sis-in-laws house. We spent the day/night there. My aunt Debbie and my cousin-in-law Jenny came up to visit us for a bit and go to lunch with us. Jenny is pregnant, having a girl, and looks gorgeous!! Jenny, Hannah, Debbie and me. Brooke was holding Kennady on the couch. Again. or still? After lunch, Uncle Ryan took us to the fire department he works for. On weekends it's volunteer staffed so we had the whole place to ourselves. The kids thought it was pretty awesome getting to check out all the stuff in the ambulance and the firetrucks. Uncle Ryan is pretty neat. The rubber gloves were a big hit for some reason. Brooke wearing Uncle Ryans gear, with Aunt Megan looking on.

Back at the house...we decided to let the kids burn off some steam in the backyard later in the day. They have nice BIG trees in their backyard. There was one that I thought looked good for climbing, not that I am going to climb it. Instead, here is a conversation between Matt and I.

Me: You should climb that tree?

Matt: Why should I do that?

Me: To show me you know how to be fun and spontaneous. Embrace your inner little boy.

Matt: (looking at Ryan) this one of those Triple Dog Dare moments?

Me: Just climb the damn tree you butthead. Show me you can do it. Be fun!

Matt: I'm going to hurt myself....

But look, he finally did it. Guess he has some fun and spontaneity in him after all :)

Another conversation:

Me to Ryan and Matt: Hey, stand next to each other and I'll take a picture of you guys. I think that is a tradition when we get together right?

Matt: Another one? Don't you have enough pictures of us together anyways?

Me: Just shut up and do it okay?

Them- Okay.

Me: Matt, you should cross your arms like Ryan, then you can be twinkies.

Ryan and Matt look at each other (below) and either mutter or telepathically communicate what they should do instead.

Uh huh. Stubborn boys.

They think they are so funny.

The rest of the day was just relaxing, playing, pizza eating, movie watching. We got up Monday morning and my dad and stepmom came up to visit us at Ryan's house for awhile in the morning and go to lunch. Then it was off to Great Wolf Lodge. We enjoyed some swim time, arcade time, sleep, Chik Fil A, and a stop at the Disney store before getting home on Tuesday.

It was a great little getaway! Thanks to all my family who hosted us, hung with us, and met up with us in Des Moines to see us! oxoxox

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Break Road Trip to Iowa, post #1

We are on Spring Break this week, and kicked it off with a trip to Iowa to visit some of my family. I had a new niece that was born at the end of January I still needed to meet, so we were excited to get up there and hang with everyone for awhile! We drove up on Saturday morning. It's a little over a five hour drive, and we always break for lunch in Kansas City.

Neither of my children slept more than about 30 minutes the entire drive up there, if even that. That's just wrong, I tell ya. Even the DVD player did not provide quite the distraction I usually get out of them. Apparently they had ants in their pants and their chatterboxes turned up to max capacity.

Anyways, we spent Saturday night at my mom and step dads house. My brother and his family (including the aforementioned new niece), came down for dinner. The girls were so excited to meet the new baby, especially Brooke.

Hannah was more interested in playing with her cousin Brayton. This picture is a hot item, because it's a rare moment where he is parked in one spot :) This kiddo is a tornado.

So while the little ones were tearing it up, literally, Brooke was soaking up the baby time! She loved Kennady!

And I did too! here she is, being held by her favorite aunt Angie, and smiling away. It was wonderful. I could have snuggled that baby up all day!

We went out in the backyard to mess around while papa Brad was grilling burgers. The kids were fascinated by this old windmill decoration they had. It's one that was in my parent's yard I guess when we were younger. Ryan identified it by the bb gun dents in it. haha.

Sometime during outside play, Hannah hurt her finger or something. She was crying for me and me only, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to pass the baby off to Matt. He usually just prefers holding his own babies... he likes them to get bigger before he olds babies that belong to other people. Fortunately, he did just fine with his niece, and I got some pictures before he gave her back. :) Good timing, Hannah!

Hannah quickly recovered from her booboo because uncle Ryan, Brayton, and Brooke were being silly with her. Jumping out from behind a tree in some peek-a-boo sorta fashion. She was cracking up.

After dinner I finally got all four of the kids in a picture together.

Ryan, Megan and the kids left around 7 and we hung out for awhile. Hannah was "tiword" so she and matt went to crash in the spare bedroom, and Brooke and I camped out in the living room and watched Shrek II for awhile. I spend a lot of our trips to Iowa playing musical beds because I just can't get comfortable anywhere.

This trip was pretty laid back and fun, and not as multi-post worthy as, say, our Disney vacation posts from last May.... but I'm still tired and am going to have to cut this short. I'll post about our Sunday part of the trip soon!

Have a great day!

Worthwhile Challenge week 11-taters

hey there! So I DID do a new recipe last week, but with getting ready to go out of town for a few days, I didn't get a chance to post it! Here you go! Matt and I LOVED these, you know the drill with Hannah. Brooke liked them okay but she is kind of random on potatoes in general.

Parmesan Potatoes (or in our case, cheddar!).

Peel and cube 12 small-to-medium potatoes...your choice of what kind. I used russets, have also had these with baby reds and those were good too.

Put the taters in a big ziploc bag. In a bowl mix 1/4 cup shredded parmesan (not that pizza-sprinkle-cheese stuff, actual shreds) 2 t. salt, 1 t garlic powder, 1 t. paprika, 1/2 tsp pepper. Mix together, dump in the tater bag, close and shake.

Shake and bake taters? Maybe!

Drizzle a baking sheet with 1/3 c vegetable oil. Spread taters on there. Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes. I like them to get a little crispy, so mine might take a little longer.

We didn't have any parmesan, so I omitted the cheese part initially, and then the last 15 minutes of baking, I sprinkled finely shredded cheddar over it all. It was good too!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

a story about poverty

I just read the most amazing, sad, intriguing story.

about poverty and aids. both topics I hope to never experience within my little world of family and friends. (though I do have a friend who lost a brother to the disease).

anyways. I encourage you to go read this. a documentary photographer followed the life of a girl (19 when she met her I think) for 18 years thru extreme poverty and aids...children...addictions....death. It is tragic, but such an eye opening look at those subjects.

right here in America. desperately sad.

It certainly brought to my mind a lot of thoughts...
--why did this woman keep having children? should a doctor have offered to tie her tubes after her third or fourth baby was born (and others had already been taken from her?)
--why hadn't anyone stepped in to intervene with the last child? looking at the conditions in which they were living...?!
--they say you can only help someone who wants to help themselves. did she not want to help herself... or did she keep slipping through the cracks of our (broken) "systems".
--can you imagine viewing this life through the eyes of the photographer...let alone living it yourself!?

go to and click on Julie's Story. To the left there are "chapters" to click thru....and each chapter has kind of a scroll thru documentary of pictures and details of the story.

and when you are done. Say a prayer of thanks for the life you have. and say a prayer for God's mercies on those who suffer. and say a prayer for the kids in this world who are abused or forgotten...who run to the streets and ultimately end up living a life such as this one.

Monday, March 14, 2011

beautiful song

A friend of mine posted a link to this song on facebook and I thought it was fabulous. Good thing to reflect on, when life is not all sunshine and light.

Click to hear


Be blessed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge Week 10-product review recipe

Last week when I was starting to think of what kind of recipe I wanted to try, I got a call from my mother in law. She had discovered a new product...Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cooking Creme. It's located in where the rest of the cream cheese is, and I found a coupon for it last weekend. She said they have recipes on the back. Sounded like a simple plan to me, and right now, simple is good.

I've got to be in just the right mood for cream cheese. I looked at the four flavor choices at the store, and decided the Santa Fe Blend sounded best. The recipe on the back was for cheesey chicken enchiladas.

I didn't really feel like making enchiladas though. So, after standing there reading the recipe, I decided to do this: Follow the directions but instead of wrapping it in a tortilla and baking it, I would cook up some penne pasta and stir it in.

And joila.... Chicken Enchilada Pasta:

I made this on Tuesday night for the family and then skipped out to go to Zumba. When i got home from my fab workout, I didn't feel like eating it. Matt had reported two thumbs up, Brooke had reported lots of thumbs up. Hannah had macaroni and cheese.

I ate the leftovers on Wednesday for lunch and thought it was pretty good! So if you're hankering for an easy meal, grab a tub of Cooking Creme and try one of the recipes on back!

Have a great day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy Women, an article

I've been slowly dragging all the stuff out of the spare bedroom/hannah's new room so I could move all her stuff in. That includes emptying the closet that has all sorts of stuff tucked away in it. I've found a few little treasures that I'll share with you over time, such as old college writings, the email that Matt sent to my parents asking for permission to marry me, etc. Lots of fun stuff!

One of the things I found was a folder full of magazine articles, newsletters and other snippets of information. I'm not sure why I started it, I'm guessing it has to do with the job I had when I first moved here. (I'll tell you about THAT another time!). In this folder was an article from Red Book magazine from August of 1999. I wanted to share some of the things from that article...

"All happy people are optimists. Optimism is a learned skill. Pessimists tend to complain; optimists focus on solving their problems."

Which are you?

The article also includes 19 strategies to make yourself happier. Tell me what you think:
1. Smile
2. Pretend to be happy (and you will start to feel happy)
3. Stand up straight (happy people even take bigger steps when they walk).
4. Think like an optimist (see quote above)
5. Never say "try"--optimists assume they will succeed.
6. Detox your mind...replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
7. Do things that engage your skills--tasks that challenge without overwhelming.
8. Fill your life with little things you love to do.
9. Avoid emotional vampires (people who criticize you/don't support you and complainers).
10. Rest. Amen.
11. Cultivate your spiritual side. (Go Jesus!!!)
12. Exercise (go zumba!!) - says aerobic exercise 20-30 minute long 4 or 5 times a week. surely we can do that, right team?
13. Learn from your elders
14. Reduce your stresrs....reduce the hassles in your life
15. Take charge of your time. Happy people feel in control of their lives.
16. Nurture close relationships. (I think I'm good at this!) "Those who enjoy close relationships tend to cope better with various life stresses..."
17 Take the long view
18. Volunteer
19. Laugh will reduce your blodd pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension. May I suggest the movie "The Hangover" or "National Lampoons Christmas Vacation" if you really get in a funk :)

Don't Worry, Be Happy my friends! Have a great day!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Simple Sunday post

Ten thoughts and happenings from my corner of the world:
1. I have a sore throat

2. I painted lots of polka dots/spots/circles on my little ones bedroom walls this weekend. Pics of the new room to come soon.

3. Next year, tell me I should not order girl scout cookies

4. Do you think it's appropriate for a (1o yr old) kid to sit in church and play their DS with earbuds in, when they could go to an awesome kids service instead if they really couldn't stand to listen/participate in the regular service? Personally, I think it's rude.

5. My baby brother turned 27 today. Apparently as a gift, his kids gave him a run for his money. Welcome to parenthood little brother...enjoy the ride. And happy birthday.

6. Ran into an old friend today at Red Robin that I haven't seen or heard from for 10 years. Love moments like that. Running into someone I do NOT like, however, is never nearly as enjoyable :)

7. There is a consignment sale this coming weekend that I had planned on putting some clothes into that Hannah has outgrown. They have to be cleaned, hangared, and tagged by Wednesday afternoon. I have not even started. Can you say "screwed"?

8. We are going on our third Disney cruise in May. It's on the new ship, the Dream, that just had it's inaugural sailing in January. (we've been on the other two ships already). I've been working out some of the details of our trip, and let me tell you, all I've got on my brain right now is vacation.

9. We went to dinner at some friends' house tonight. Their 20-something daughter asked me if I had lost weight. I almost kissed her. :)

10. Last week, I was very busy being a mommy, a travel agent, a cake chic, a housekeeper, a decorator, and more. This week looks to include more of the same.

Make it a good one!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Flashback Thursday

I've had a random (albeit, busy) sorta week... and I haven't done a flashback type post for awhile...

So here is a picture of Brooke in March of 2007! Such a little ham... or was she just tired of pictures? She was just a few weeks shy of turning three.

For comparison, here is a picture of Hannah at the same age, taken a few weeks ago:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge- Week #9..Cheat

I didn't have time this weekend to get my brain around doing a new recipe, so I'm cheating a little bit. But in doing so...I'm posting two things here that might be new to you, but are kind of cheating to me.

Old recipe with new twist! About two years ago (Have I been blogging that long), I posted the recipe for our favorite cookies. I could probably make these with my eyes closed.

Needed something to entertain the girls for a bit this weekend, so we whipped up a batch of these. What did we do to make this a new recipe? In addition to the chocolate chips, I chopped up a king size snickers candy bar and put that in there too! I'd have to say, that was quite a yummy addition!! Give it a try.

I also just made a quick batch of Spanish rice that was a new way of doing it and super easy. This was for two servings and would probably need tweaked for larger amounts... but following the stovetop directions for "bring rice and water to a boil, put the lid on, and simmer for 10-15 minutes"...I replaced 1/2 the water with Pace Picante sauce and otherwise followed the directions on the pkg of Uncle Bens.... when it was all done, it was a yummy, easy batch of Spanish rice. I put a little shredded cheddar on mine....and if you really wanted to, you could probably stir in some browned ground beef to make it more of a main dish.

So....I kind of cheated this week....but I gave you a bonus!

Have a great week! Do something nice for someone!