Saturday, July 30, 2011

Are you there?

So, the hubs and I have been discussing who, if anyone, is out there reading my blog.

are you there? just curious!

If you do pop by here on a regular or irregular basis, leave a comment on this post saying hello!

then I know if I'm writing all for my own (and hubby and inlaw's) entertainment, or if anyone else is still hanging around!

don't know how to leave a comment? click on the little word 'comment' below this post and go from there.

flood me with hellos. please? i need to feel some love!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Giving Opportunities

I just came across an article about a family...they were driving back to Texas from Colorado on July 3rd and were hit head-on by a vehicle that had crossed the center line. The parents were killed instantly. The three kids became orphans instantly. The youngest sustained several broken bones, and the two brothers (all under the age of 10) are paralyzed and face weeks and weeks of rehab. The doctors doubt either will ever walk again. How tragic... to lose your parents and your 'normal' life as you know it. Please pray for these kids. There is a website set up to take donations for their ongoing medical issues, educations, etc. It is

On a completely different side of things, I have an old friend. One I grew up with and graduated with, Jeff. He and his wife are going on a mission trip to Sierra Leone, Africa through an organization called "The Raining Season." Here is what they wrote to me in a facebook message:

'Sierra Leone is considered one of the poorest nations in the world. Years of civil war have left the country with 60-80% unemployment and horrendous living conditions. Sierra Leone is the size of North Carolina with a population of 6 million people. Freetown, the capital, has a population of 2 million, even though it only has the infrastructure to support 200,000. Due to poverty and civil war, Sierra Leone has a staggering 350,000 orphans.

Sierra Leone has two seasons, one is rainy and one is dry. The rainy season is a constant struggle for the people of Sierra Leone. Roads are impassable, labor jobs are difficult to find, and disease is rampant due to stagnant waters...' '....we have friends who started The Raining Season...and opened The Covering, an orphanage that is a refuge for 87 orphans. It's the goal of the Raining Season to Help Hope Rain Down on the children and families..."

As you can imagine, a trip like this is expensive. If you can support them as they go to the U.N.-dubbed 'hell on earth' where they will give of their time and love to the people of this devastating place, please consider doing so. You can mail a check to Jeff Rodgers, 8655 NE 110th Street, Kansas City, MO 64157. You can support them with prayer. And you can learn more about the whole thing at

We're all pretty lucky here, for the most part. Sure, it's hotter than hell, we'd all like extra money, our kids give us grey hairs. But after reading stories like this.... kinda hard to even care about the 'little things' that are plaguing us, don't you think? Please consider sharing a bit of yourself in one way or another with either or both of these missions.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge week #27 - It's HOT out there

It's hot hot hot here.

Is it hot hot hot there? hot hot hot sucks for a baker. Baking for customers has been quiet the last week or two, which is actually okay when you look at the temps. But that doesn't mean my Texas-sized sweet tooth has gone anywhere.

Here's our forecast. Notice that the time on this picture is 8:05p.m. and it is still 102 degrees. Suck suck suck.

So what do you do when it's this friggin hot? Well, you stay inside and watch movies.

You go to the pool. Here is me travelling incognito...wearing a hat is not my usual thing. For the record, hats are hot. not as in sexy. as in, make your forehead sweat.

And if it's 100+ degrees, you have a sweet tooth the size of Texas, you find no-bake recipes. I've made a few batches of no-bake cookies the last few weeks. Decided it was time to try something else.

Enter this week's Worthwhile Challenge Recipe: No Bake Peanut Butter bars. I googled that, and after reading a few recipes, made my own concoction.

Here you go:
Grease a 9x13 pan.

In a mixing bowl, blend 1 and 1/4 cups chunky peanut butter with 3/4 cup butter or margarine.
Mix in 1 cup of powdered sugar. Set aside.

The main recipe I was looking at called for graham cracker crumbs. They were not sounding good to me, so I decided to grind up some oatmeal instead.

Quick-oats straight outta the box just looked too big for what the bottom layer was supposed to be. Put three cups of oats in a blender

and pulse till it looks like this:

dump the ground oats into the butter/peanut butter mixture with another cup of powdered sugar and one cup of chocolate chips (I used minis).

Here's what it looked like mixed up.

Press into pan.

In a clean bowl, microwave 3/4 cup peanut butter and 1.5 cups chocolate chips for 30 seconds. Stir and nuke another 30 seconds. Should be well melted by then. Spread on top of crust layer:

then put in the fridge to chill for about 45 minutes, until the chocolate layer is set up.

Go chill for a good book, read my blog, play with a 9-week old puppy who needs a bath, has popsicle on his fur from cleaning up after a three year old, and who does not want to sit still for a picture.

After the furball settles down, or you finish reading my blog, or whatever it is you do while your bars are chilling....go cut yourself one, put it on a plate, and get a glass of milk.

these bars were a little messy to eat....fork is optional...but they were good. they were no bake, they had peanut butter and chocolate, and they hit the spot. Would I rather make cookies or cake or brownies? Probably...but these certainly do the trick when you are sitting in the national 'heat advisory' zone!

Stay cool, friends!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vaca recap #6- the final vaca post!

Whew! There's been a bit of a lapse since I started this vaca recap! Sorry about that! I'm behind on blogging! Here's the final Disney Cruise 2011 post for you!!!

If you missed any of the other posts, here they are
Vaca Post 1
Vaca Post 2
Vaca Post 3
Vaca Post 3.5
Vaca Post 4
Vaca Post 5

After we got back on the ship, we showered and got changed to go to the matinee of the final show "Believe". During that time we also did some packing. The crazy thing about the last night of the cruise is that while you are wanting to go do lots of fun things, you also have to get all your stuff packed up! You have to put your suitcases out in the hallway by 11p.m. for the porters to take, and keep a carryon bag behind so you can have your pjs, etc to put in there. So you are trying to get everything thrown in the bags, while setting aside the clothes for the next day and making sure it doesn't get thrown in the bags, etc. It is craziness!

It is especially crazy when they are going to take your suitcases and check them at the airlines for you. That means, with the liquid restrictions, that you have to put any of your big toiletries in the suitcase and do without the next day or just leave it behind. Fortunately, we were going to a Disney resort, so we just threw everything where it would fit, and planned to do some laundry and repacking at the hotel that night!

Anyways, so we went to the matinee of 'Believe'. This was a very sweet show. A girl wanted her scientist dad to just be silly with her and believe in magic for just a few minutes. Of course he couldn't, and she was upset. He got some help from some magical visitors... imagine if you will the three ghosts of "A Christmas Carol" being replaced with three magical figures brought to make him "Believe." At the end, the last visitor showed him a vision of his daughter all grown up and dancing with her Prince Charming. That was a good kick in the pants for the dad to go back home and enjoy the sweet young imagination of his little girl. It was really good!

The guy who played Hades the first night was the Genie in this show, and again he did a great job!

He called upon Mary Poppins to stop in and visit.

A fairy godmother of course was involved.

And at the end, a very magical Birthday party for the little girl ensued.

Then it was off for our last night at dinner. I wasn't really psyched about the menu, nor the long table service...but I wouldn't miss a chance to say goodbye to our waiters. Romy from India and Emmanuel from Mexico had taken such great care of us all week. They were so great with the girls, and you could tell they really had a desire to make us happy. Wonderful guys. By the end of the week, you kinda feel a little attached to them, so it is sad to say goodbye. I hope God blesses them 1000 times over in their life.

Our room hostess, Wana, also took excellent care of us and was so sweet. They work so hard!!

We dropped the girls at the kids club for awhile so we could finish the packing. When we picked them up, Hannah was busy playing with her friend Anna and did not want to leave! It was so cute! We said goodbye to a few other people we had met, then went back to the room.

A Disney cruise would not be complete without getting some Mickey Bars delivered from room service. We ordered those, and some cookies to pack in our carry-on to snack on the next day. Their cookies are sooooo good.

Debarkation comes early. They need you OUT of your stateroom by 8a.m. and off the ship by 9a.m. We ran up for some breakfast around 7a.m., then came back to the room to grab our stuff and go find a place to relax in the lobby. Once the ship cleared customs, the line to get off was so long! So we just people watched and saw some friends, etc. Once we finally got off, we saw this sign. This sign always makes me sad:

We took the Disney bus to our resort for the night, Saratoga Springs. Thank the LORD that they had a room ready for us when we got there, because we had some VERY tired girls on our hands. We had planned on going to downtown Disney to spend some time, but we really needed to get Hannah a nap before my grandma came to visit and do dinner with us. Brooke went to DTD with gma and gpa, and the three of us snoozed at the hotel after lunch for awhile.

My grandma and her 'friend' john came. Hannah was in a squirrelly mood and wouldn't take a picture;

We hung out in the villa for awhile, then went down to the pool. Great Grandma and john watched the girls swim for awhile and we chatted some more. Then we had a yummy quick service dinner there at the resort. After they left, we finally got a chance to go to downtown Disney for awhile.

Waiting for the bus:

The Lego store. We let each girl fill a cannister of legos from this giant wall of bins of every lego under the sun. And then, Hannah dropped hers and legos went everywhere. I'm sure it wasn't the first time that has happened! So we picked them up, got them TAPED SHUT at the checkout, and left.

Our pool area. After we were done at DTD, we took the girls back to the pool for awhile. It was dark, and we had it nearly all to ourselves, which was so fun!

The next day, we just flew back to KC, got a rental van and drove home. It was a nonstop flight, and I can't tell you how great THAT was. I wish Wichita offered nonstop service to Orlando.

And THAT, my friends, ends the 2011 vaca recap. I would think you all want to go on a Disney cruise now too! Hey guess what, I can book that for you ;)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hot Hot Hot

It's hotter than shit out there.

That's what my dad would probably say.

I say it's hotter than hell out there.

Whatever it is, I do not like summer. Pools are fun. Vacations are fun.

Hot, humid weather. not fun. So hot you don't even want to play out in the sprinkler? Not fun. So hot you feel that if you are going to bake or run your clothes dryer, you better do it at 7a.m.? Not fun.

I like to bake at nap time. Hasn't been happening around here lately!

Speaking of hot hot hot... I'm going to see New Kids on the Block (and Backstreet boys) in concert tomorrow night. I'm going with my oldest friend-- my cousin Danica! We went to see them a few years ago together, and we're going tomorrow night. I've got to get my iron-on rhinestone NKOTB letters ironed onto my black tank top that I'm going to be wearing. Because I'm cool like that.

You gotta do what you can to stay cool when it's this hot. right? :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Worthwhile Challenge Week 25 and 26!

I didn't get ANYTHING accomplished last week except our trip to Iowa and getting the new member of the family settled in! I might have made a new recipe but I cannot honestly remember it! So today I am giving you a double!

First up, Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches. I've been having a hankering for them for awhile now. I decided to ask my philly friend, Chuck, how to make them.

Say hi to chuck!

My tools for this project were my big electric griddle thingy (that is usually only used for pancakes), and this big metal pampered chef spatula. That way I could continue chopping the meat while cooking, etc.

First step was going to the local grocery store that has a meat counter. So I went to Dillons. I picked out a package of Ribeye steaks (the cut Chuck suggested). Then I went to find the nice meat man and asked him to slice them up super thin for cheesesteaks. I had chosen a package of two large-ish steaks. He sliced it up, rewrapped it, and i was off to the checkout.

I took a vidalia onion and sliced it super-thin. I took a moment to wish that I had not sold my pchef Mandolin slicer so many years ago. It would be very handy for this. Turned the griddle on and got it good and hot. Butter toasted some hoagie buns. Then I put about 1/2 a stick of butter on the griddle and got it melted, and I threw on the meat. I ended up only using one of the steaks and froze the rest. One steak made three decent sized sandwiches. As the meat cooked, I salt and peppered it, and threw the onions on. Stirred and chopped while it was cooking to your desired doneness. I am a fan of no-pink. Many people do peppers in their cheesesteaks..but not us! Matt thought some grilled mushrooms would have been a nice addition.

This is the meat about half done:

Warming the bun back up a bit before I topped it off.

Now when the meat is to your likeness, put several slices of provolone cheese on top. Apparently true Philly folk use Cheesewhiz and slather it on the buns, but Chuck said provolone, so that's what I did. Let it melt. (I helped it along by putting a large skillet lid over it to trap in the heat/steam.

Scoop a spatula full onto your spatula, set it on your bottom bun, put the top bun on and hold the meat in place while you slide that spatula out. (That was my Diners, DriveIns and Drives move there).

The finished product; fabulousness.

A great dish to go with this is a pasta salad. Years ago...probably 8 years...I made little cookbook of recipes that I had a bunch of friends contribute. I made copies for everyone. My friend Nicola recently moved and emailed me to see if I had a recipe from the book, because she had misplaced it in the move. I thought, "if this recipe is so good that Nic has been using it for 8 years and would ask me for it, I think I will try it!". It never really sounded good to me before.

Very simple. Cook and drain 16oz of penne pasta, pour 1/2 cup vegetable oil over it in a large bowl. In a blender, put in 1 cup white vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 Tbs parsley flakes, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp yellow mustard (not dried), 1 small onion and one peeled medium cucumber. Blend all in a blender until smooth and pour over pasta. Marinate over night and stir occassionally. Add black olives, chopped tomatoes....veggies of your choice really. I did carrots and tomatoes and it was good. Broccoli would be good too! The nice thing about this dish is that it is not Mayonnaise based so it would be nice for a potluck!

Enjoy my friends!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New Addition

Do you remember this post about our family wanting to get a dog? If you haven't read it, you should go read it to see the background of this post.

After YEARS AND YEARS of wanting to get a dog, we girls finally had Matt starting to think about giving in.

A few weeks ago, we went to Petland for one of our "let's go play with a puppy" outings. Usually on these outings, Matt would just stand outside the puppy play area. This time, he went into the cubby with us. First they brought out a husky. Gorgeous dogs but known to be hardcore chewers.

Then they brought out a ShiChon. It is a cross between a Bichon Frise (as seen here in a picture I found online):

and a Shih Tzu (also found online):

This is the dog they brought out for us to see:

he was about 9 weeks old, VERY playful, super cute. When we reached out to pet him, Matt and I both said "oh, wow." SOFTEST DOG you'll EVER touch. Feels like the softest stuffed animal you have. Score.

The girl at the petstore told us things like this:

Hypoallergenic - SCORE

Does not shed - DOUBLE POINTS

Not Yappy- BONUS

$750 - Uh, no.

Plus we would never get a dog from a petstore. too many horror stories about Puppy Mills, Kennel Cough, etc.

We went home and I started researching ShiChons. Found they are also called Zuchons, and Teddy Bears (appropriate). Googled pictures. Ooohed and Aaaahed. Started looking for breeders with available puppies. Not any in Kansas. Found a puppy in Oklahoma that I just LOVED. Spoke with the breeder, checked her references. Thought we could drive down after we got back from Iowa and get him. Then Matt said "I am not driving 5.5 hours home from Iowa one day, and then turning around driving 9 hours round trip the next day to get a dog." Um....okay. I see that point.

I thought, "well, we ARE going to Iowa over the 4th. I wonder if there are any breeders up there?". BINGO. YES...there was a breeder up there! Not even too far out of our way! AND she had a black and white male puppy that would be ready to go!! Her daughter was actually scheduled to come to Kansas on the we were going to have her bring him down so that we wouldn't have to deal with the girls and the puppy for a 5 hour drive. However, the night before we left for Iowa, we found out that her plans had changed. So at the last minute we found out that we would be picking our puppy up on our way back home on the 5th.

The girls didn't know a thing. We had wanted to go to the petstore and get some dog toys, collar, etc. So we said "Uncle Ryan's dog Turbo is having a birthday when we are up there! let's get him so gifts!"...and then we "forgot them" at home.

I told the girls that we had to go see one of my friends from college for a few minutes on the way home. We had Brooke get out of the car and close her eyes. She was a bit skeptical.

A video of the big reveal: SURPRISE

Our family is complete!!!

The girls are loving him. So much so, that we find ourselves saying "Put him down" "Give him a break" "leave him alone" about every three minutes.

The drive home was kind of longer than usual...with overly-tired, quite excited children...and a little puppy who just didn't know what to think! He rode home in a basket by my feet. Everytime we'd stop, Matt would get him out to go potty while I took the girls in for their break. Then they would each get to hold him for a few minutes before we continued on our way.

I think there is a good chance that "the summer I was seven" will go down as the best year in Brooke's life for a long long long time. Oh, and his name is Max. Brooke has planned to name her dog Max, whenever she finally got one, since she was three. Kinda like I had planned to name my daughter Brooke since I was in Junior High.

We got him on Tuesday. Today is Sunday. In that time he's gotten fluffier, more playful, and the rest of his super-sharp puppy teeth have come in! He's also gotten a check up at the vet, lots of toys, and lots and lots of love. We put him in a kennel at night, and the first night he whined and cried and sounded like a cat in heat for about 20 minutes.... now he only fusses for about a minute at the most. The girls wear him out. When they finally go to bed, he crashes and you could probably set a bomb off next to his head and he will just give you a look between a pair of barely opened eyelids.

He is a fun little ball of fluff. I think he's even gotten Matt wrapped around his paw a bit already too :)

Thank you Matt, for finally "caving" as everyone has said.

And welcome to the family, Max!