Monday, September 6, 2010

Magical/Super Powers I Wish I Had

When I was little, I remember thinking Wonder Woman was just the coolest thing EVER!  Well, next to Barbie.  Hey, I was a kid!  

I still think she's pretty wicked - someday perhaps I'll get that costume for Halloween!  Zoe has a Wonder Woman shirt from Old Navy and it's quite cute!

So, anyhoooooo.....

Magical Powers!  I have had a recurring dream where I've been given the ability to fly and it is absolutely amazing!  I love that feeling!  That is a magical power I wish I had!

There are others, of course:

Invisibility.  How fun would it be to mess with people while you're invisible?  Hee hee.....

Right now I'd love the ability to wave a wand and have Zoe fall into a sweet slumber.  She fell asleep super quick both last night and Saturday night.  Tonight?  Huh uh.  

I'd also like to be able to be completely rested after a short amount of sleep.  I'm a mom, wife and teacher.  Any ONE of those things completely wears me out.  I'd love to be able to give my daughter, husband and the teachers/students I work with the amount of devotion they each deserve without feeling like a wrung out dishrag.  

I don't know what magical power it would be, but I'd love to be able to have two people or sides sit down and be able to see each other's view point without being STUCK that theirs is the ONLY right one.  Our country is very polarized right now and quite frankly I'm more scared about the closed mindedness than almost anything else.  Are we really that superior we only think ourselves as right?  

This post has become very scattered so I'll sign off now.

What magical power would you like to have?

Summer is officially over.


Really, though, Z and I had a blast this summer!  She's finally at the age she doesn't NEED a nap anymore (although I miss it) and we can have longer outings!  We visited the Hamilton County Parks a LOT, went to Run, Jump and Play, Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes, the SplashPad, Cincinnati and Indy Children's Museums, the Lebanon-Monroe Railway, the local pool and hung out with friends!

And though I couldn't be a stay-at-home mom (hats off to those of you who are!), I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Z and wouldn't trade that time for all the money in the world!

How was your summer?  :-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Decisions, differences.

I absolutely adore my husband.  He's practical, loyal, rational, funny, dedicated and adventurous.  We rarely get into arguments because of the rational part of him.  He's not one to raise his voice.  Even if we don't see eye to eye on something, a back and forth discussion is usually all it takes to come to a consensus.

Decision:  We needed seating for the loft area.  Zoe's Tinkerbell chair just wasn't cutting it.

Problem:  Limited budget, different tastes.  We went to Ikea and I liked one type of chair, he liked another. Stalemate, right?  Nope.

Solution:  Somehow, as he expressed his idea and I expressed mine, the back and forth sharing led to us walking out of Ikea with two chairs AND a table that we both liked!  Within budget, even!  He compromised from his original idea and so did I and we're both just delighted with the results.

This is just one of the million ways that reaffirm I definitely married the right guy.  I <3 you, Christopher.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

A new excuse to let bananas go brown!

Five words.  Crumb.  Topped.  Banana.  Muffin.  Cake.

O. M. G.

I'll be alternating my bananas use to include both the bread AND this cake!

Here's the source:  Oak Cottage Recipes:  Crumb Topped Banana Muffin Cake

Easy to make and delish?  I'm all about it.

The link takes you to the printable recipe.

This is my new favorite cake.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chicken Parmesan

Mmmmm.  Fixed this for dinner tonight.  I rock this dish, if I do say so myself.

Chris made this for me one of our very first dates almost (eek!) 11 years ago.  It cost him a small fortune since being a single guy, he had NONE of the ingredients.  Loved it and love him!

Chicken Parmesan

1 stick butter
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 c. bread crumbs (I use the Italian breadcrumbs)
2 T. parsley flakes
1 lb. chicken breasts (I use the thin sliced ones)
1/4 c. grated romano cheese (I use the parm/romano mix)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. pepper

Melt butter with garlic.  Mix dry ingredients.  Dip chicken in butter and roll in dry ingredients.  Place in shallow baking dish (my Pampered Chef stoneware Deep Dish Baker is great for this!).  Bake at 400* F for 1 hour (only takes about 30-40 minutes for the thin sliced breasts).

During the last 5 or so minutes, I cover the chicken with marinara and mozz cheese.  So yummo!  We serve with pasta.

Parky's Ark!

We are fortunate enough to live close enough to Cincinnati that we can enjoy the Hamilton County Parks with just a short trip south on 75.  A couple of weeks ago, my friend D and I took our little girls to Parky's Farm and they had so much fun!  Outdoor playground, play barn, pony rides and wagon rides - what's not to love?

Today, D and I took the kiddos to Parky's Ark, a wet playground part of Winton Woods.  We've got my step-son for the next two weeks and he had a blast too!  For a $5 parking pass, you can't beat these family friendly parks for outside fun!  And, no, I didn't get a free pass to say that!

Here's a few pictures from both of our adventures -

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

One of my favorite blogs - My Baking Addiction - has some amazing recipes!  She's got classics, new stuff, and everything I've tried is YUMMO!

I tried the PB&J bars and she's right - they do taste just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!  Definitely need to be served with a tall glass of milk!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 t. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 c. (9 oz.) chunky peanut butter
1 c. (9 oz.) creamy peanut butter
3 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1 1/2 c. (18 oz.) blackberry jam (I used raspberry and pretty much used an entire jar)
1/2 c. salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350* F.  Line a 9 X 13 X 2 inch pan with parchment paper and then grease and flour the pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla eggs and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.  In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the four mixture to the peanut butter mixture.  Mix just until combined.
Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula.  Spread the jam evenly over the dough.  Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam.  Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven.  Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool and cut into squares.  Serve up with a big glass of ice cold milk!

Thanks for all the yummies Jamie!  I may have to try these Guinness Cupcakes next!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip

My friend Jayme found this recipe and shared it with me.  It's a much requested recipe and dish for pitch-ins and gatherings.  Everyone who loves buffalo wings, loves this stuff!  The recipe suggests serving with chicken-flavored crackers and/or celery.  We usually use those giant Fritos.  At the end of parties, a spoon has been known to work as well.  It's easy to make, a great no-frill appetizer you can make and just put out.  Chris added some hot sauce called "Widow Maker" he recently got from our friends in Texas Chris and Kelly.  Just enough to give a little extra zing!


Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 10 oz. cans chunk chicken, drained
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 c. ranch dressing
3/4 c. pepper sauce such as Frank's Red Hot
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through.  Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing.  Cook, stirring until well blended and warm.  Mix in 1/2 of the cheddar cheese and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top, cover and cook on low setting until hot and bubbly.  Serve with celery sticks and crackers.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

An 'Oey Birthday Party!

The 'Oey's ('Oey with a J and 'Oe with a Z) have birthdays about a month-ish apart.  J's is in May and there is this uber-cool park right by his house where the party was this year.  Z had a blast!!

Glazed Oatmeal Raisin Drops

Many years ago, I received Mary Englebreit's Cookies Cookbook as a Christmas gift.  This cookbook is amazing!  It's pages have sugar, butter, and other assorted spice stains from such frequent use.  Chris' favorite cookies are these Glazed Oatmeal Raisin Drops.  I took some to a friend the other day, and he said they were crack cookies.  I totally take that as a compliment!  :-)

So, here you go:

Glazed Oatmeal Raisin Drops

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
3 c. old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c. raisins

1 c. confectioner's sugar blended with 2 T milk or cream (I usually double that)

Pre-heat oven to 375.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  On low speed, beat in the flour mixture.  Using a large wooden spoon, stir in the oats and raisins.  Spoon slightly rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake for about 14 minutes, or until golden brown.  (Watch these closely - my oven only gets to about 10 minutes before I pull them out)  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Brush some glaze on the top of each cookie and let sit until the glaze is dry.

Best Banana Bread EVAH!

I've mentioned before how I think my family plots together to not eat the fresh bananas I get at the store and to let them turn brown so I'll make banana bread.  I love it too so, you know, I secretly love that they do that.  The recipe I use is straight from Betty Crocker and is super yummy!  Light, easy to make, awesome!

Banana Bread

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. mashed ripe banana (2-3 med. bananas)
1/3 c. shortening, margarine or butter (I use un-salted butter)
2 T. milk
2 eggs
1/4 c. chopped nuts (optional - I don't use them)

In a large mixer bowl, combine 1 c. of the flour, the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add mashed banana, shortening, margarine or butter and milk.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed till blended, then on high speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in nuts.

Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for 55 - 60 minutes or till a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from the pan; cool thoroughly on a wire rack.  Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

For baking, I use my Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan and instead of wrapping, I use a Tupperware Modular Mates rectangle 4 - perfect fit!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Orange Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream Frosting

Oh, wow.  Yum.

My mom found this blog - Real Mom Kitchen - and she's got some awesome stuff!  So far, I've only tried the desserts but there are other yummy looking things there that I've got on my list to try.

So, today I tried the Orange Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream Frosting.  Again, yum.  I ended up using 6 cups of powdered sugar in the frosting just like the author, Laura.  There was so much of it!  I'm going to have to go and bake another batch of the cupcakes just to use all of it.  (Darn it)  Good thing it'll last a couple days!

Fresh Orange Cupcakes
  • 1 package of yellow cake mix
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of orange zest
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
1. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, sugar, and orange zest. Whisk to combine. Add orange juice, canola oil, vanilla extract and eggs. Blend with the mixer on low speed for one minute, then speed it up to medium and beat for 2 more minutes.
2. Fill cupcake papers about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake at 350F until golden in color and a toothpick test comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes.
3. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Orange Buttercream Frosting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, very soft
  • 6-8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of sugar, then the juice and the zest. Beat until smooth and creamy.
  2. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (I added 6 cups total). Use and store at room temperature. (Don’t refrigerate and it will last in a covered container for about three days.)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Spiced Carrot-Zucchini Bread

I love to bake.  I think it's the start to finish sense of accomplishment, the yummy noises people make when eating my stuff and the OMG smells that fill the house!  I usually am able to with-hold from eating (too much) of what I make and most of it gets shared with family and friends, both Chris' and mine.

I thought I might start sharing some of my favorite recipes here.  There are so many yummo things to bake!

Today so far, I've got a zucchini bread recipe in the oven that came with my new Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan.  I love cooking with stoneware!  So far, I've got a pizza stone and a deep-dish cooker and now the loaf pan.  Hope to add more to my collection - let me know if you need a Pampered Chef lady!  Mine ROCKS!

So, here's the recipe:

Spiced Carrot-Zucchini Bread

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c sugar
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground cloves
3/4 c finely chopped carrots
3/4 c finely chopped zucchini
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts
2/3 c vegetable oil
1/2 c milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350*F  Spray bottom only of stoneware loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cloves.
Add remaining ingredients, stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon batter into pan.  Bake 65-70 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven; cool in pan 5 minutes.  Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove loaf to cooling rack.  Cool completely.

I will tell you the batter is really dense!  Give me about 40 more minutes and I'll let you know how yummy it is!  My house is smelling fabulous so I have high hopes!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

People and their "things"

First off, get your head out of the gutter.  I'm talking about people's different quirky things that make them who they are.

Example -

One of my things is making the bed.  My darling hubby would be quite content with just a comforter on the bed.  Oh, no.  I love the whole coordinating thing!  Bedskirt (a must since I utilize that space for storage), bottom AND top sheets that coordinate with a beautiful comforter/bedspread which (yes, I am one of "those") is NOT used for sleeping.  That's what the nice pretty blanket is for!  Blankets can be washed much easier than a comforter.  Oh, and matching pillow cases on the pillows plus shams that go with the comforter which, like the comforter are NOT used!

The top sheet and blanket must be tucked in and comforter folded down neatly with the decorative pillows placed on top of the cedar chest.

Yes, I'm nutty.  But it's one of my "things!"

Another "thing" I have is the glasses in the cupboard.  Like glasses need to be lined up with like glasses.

And though my darling hubby tries, he and I just don't see eye to eye on the laundry so I just prefer to do it.  Towels must be folded a certain way, socks must be matched and drawers organized.

So, come on internet community.

What are your "things?"

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Not for me, but for my SS.

It must be really hard to be two different people.

With us, he's an energetic, video-game loving, typical 9-year old boy who adores his daddy and uncle and is constantly seeking their attention and approval. SS is only with us every other weekend so approximately 4 days/month our house is a much louder place but that's usually ok. He listens (most of the time - he is a 9 year old boy) and usually seems at peace with the arrangement at hand.

We hear from others who get to experience him when he's with his mom that he's a totally different kid. Apparently he broke the french doors in his new house shortly after they moved in. Not the kid I know.

I think he feels guilty because he misses his dad and knows there is more structure here, he's allowed to be a kid and not his mother's emotional supporter. My husband plays WITH him and doesn't just drag him from sporting event to sporting event and give him things to entertain him.

Up until about 2 (I think) years ago, it was just him and his mom. Along comes a new SF and with him a new step-brother. A younger step-brother. And in April his mom's having a baby.

My heart breaks for him. He just doesn't seem himself the closer we get to the birth of this baby.

But his mother won't ever give up, claiming she's with him all the time (ummm, no. Usually he's with my MIL or us on the weekends and even MIL's sometimes during the week.) and she would miss him soooooooo much.

I am of the opinion she'd miss the child support.

I have very little control over this aspect of my life and if you know me at all, you know how extremely difficult that is for me to handle. I have removed SS's mom from my head and haven't seen her in probably a year which is just fine with me. Out of sight, out of mind.

I do wish things were easier for SS. Right now I'm just sad for him.

Cute kid, eh?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday Six!

  • Yeah, I totally stole this from Mommy in Real Life! Thanks, T!

  • What’s the one thing that really annoys you?
  • Incorrect grammar and spelling. I won't even text and spell something wrong!
  • If it was the end of the world what be the last thing you would try to do?
  • Make sure I knew everyone in my circle of people knew that I loved them very much.
  • If you had the choice of designing a mobile phone what one feature would you add to it?
  • Something that would prevent me from dropping it all the time! I'm definitely a clutz!
  • Diamonds or pearls?
  • In the immortal words of Marilyn - "Diamonds are a girl's best friend."
  • Silver or gold?
  • I'm a silver girl. White gold and platinum are lovely too!
  • Are you at home or work?
  • Home - just got back from Target.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Days!

This past weekend and this week "Snowmageddon" has hit! Z and I got to stay home both Tuesday and Wednesday and had a 2 hour delay this morning.

Snow days were a HUGE deal when I was little. I grew up in North Central Indiana and it had to be like a foot of snow before LCSC would call school off. "Back in my day, we had to walk to school in 3 feet of snow without any boots!" I heard lots of stories like that today at school when people were recalling their childhood snow days! LOL

So, Z and I watched probably too much TV but it was nice to cuddle on the couch with a quilt and a nice princess movie. We also got to play outside in the snow. She and I started to make a snowman but my snow-sculpting skills are much lacking so it was more like a snow-Jabba the Hutt. She attempted to help with her little pink spade as Daddy and I shoveled, and shoveled, and shoveled.

I got a few pics Tuesday but not of our sad little snow-thing. It was just too pitiful!
More pics at my MobileMe Gallery

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My tall child

It occurred to me earlier this week that Zoe has been able to reach the light switches without grabbing her stool from her room! When did that happen? I already know she's going to be taller than me. According to the pediatrician and the growth charts she's in the 90th percentile for her age in height. Chris and I must both be carrying the recessive TALL gene because neither one of us are tall at all (sorry honey, you're not) but we both have tall relatives. My grandmother was a tall woman if I remember correctly.

If she continues growing at the same rate, she'll be 5' 6 1/2" as an adult. That puts her over 2 inches taller than me and almost as tall as her father. Put a pair of heels on her and she'll be downright statuesque! If she's anything like me, she'll definitely be wearing those heels, too!

Also, her new game to play is "I'm the mom, you're the honey." Of course she only wants the fun mommy stuff, she won't fold clothes or empty the trash or anything. But it's fun watching her play - she's definitely into the cooperative play thing now. I sometimes sneak in to watch her play before she sees me at pick-up time at her school.

She's always in some sort of outfit, too. Soon as we get home, she's either got a princess dress on or a million bead necklaces. Definitely dramatic! I see lots of musicals, show choir and recitals in our future.

I love being a mom! Oh, wait. I'm the honey.

Then why am I writing lesson plans while she gets to watch Tinkerbell? Hmph.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Calling all lurkers!

DelurkerDay2010 (1)
My friend Sarah in MI posted that's is DELURKER DAY! As a lurker myself, I thought I might encourage all other lurkers to come on out and say what's on your mind!

Also - leave your blog so I can come visit!