Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Snow!

We had a busy Thanksgiving weekend with special guest and a wedding! I'll show you those pictures later in the week... But, the biggest news in this house?  The first snow of the season!

You cannot imagine the delight of our children on Tuesday afternoon when it came down thick and heavy... and stayed! Stayed right into a two hour delay this morning, of which I'm always a fan.

In true almost-three-year-old fashion, he was happy out in the weather for about 20 seconds. Wanted to come back in. Didn't want to take his boots off, but wanted to be inside with me.

We snuggled up on the couch with a pumpkin spice coffee, and watched the snow fall... through the window.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Instant Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes

Instant Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes

5 3/4 cup water
1 stick of margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion salt
2 1/4 cups milk
7 cups instant mashed potatoes
1 pint sour cream
8 oz cream cheese
Cheddar/Colby cheese

In a large cooking pot, combine: water, margarine, salt, and onion salt.  Bring to a boil.  Add milk and potatoes. Mix well and add sour cream and cream cheese. Pour into a 9"x13" casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  May sprinkle with cheese and let melt before serving.

*This is my Aunt Lisa's contribution to our big family Christmas-I think she'd like to bring something else...but these are a fan favorite!
*I usually make my own from-scratch potatoes and add in the other ingredients, but this year for thanksgiving? Fake all the way.  And guess what? no one cared!
*I always use butter.  I may be ok with fake potatoes... not fake butter.
*I like mine with cheese on top.  Ryan likes his with gravy. The house divided!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Field Trip

After the 4-H fair this summer, Elizabeth has been nagging at Ryan to get her "my own" Brown Swiss cow.

I don't think she liked her little brother getting "Breed Champion" at our county fair.

Yesterday afternoon, we drove near Fort Wayne to Blessings Farms.  They have a herd of (award winning) registered Brown Swiss Cattle.  "Mama Wiss Cows" according to Jackson.

The Blessing family owns the trucking company that hauls our milk to the processing plant. We had a great time chatting with Milan- the man who started their family farm.  Reminded me of my own Grandpa.  And Checking out the cattle.  You would have thought our kids had never seen a cow in their whole life.

Cows by nature are curious animals, but these girls were friendly!

Checking out the calves.  They bed with wood chips, and they had gotten cedar chips in the last truck- that barn smelled GOOD!

They really are pretty cute.

They show their herd around the country several times a year, so the majority of the herd is broke to lead.
William loved petting on them.

This Mama even gave him a friendly nudge with her head when he decided to pet someone else!

Jackson's fingers taste great!

Check out those eye lashes!

This was my favorite part. A cattle guard on the feed lot.  I think we should try it on our farm. Maybe I wouldn't have to chase cows as often....

Ryan turned *39* yesterday as well... Happy Birthday honey!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cream Pie

Aunt Marilyn's Famous Cream Pie

2 cups fruit
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup milk


Mix first three ingredients pour into your favorite crust. Mix last four ingredients and pour over fruit mixture in pie crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

*My favorite pie crust can be found here.
*I really have an Aunt Marilyn, and this is her recipe!
*Aunt Marilyn's specialty is black raspberry cream.  Mine is peach.  I use my own canned peaches.
*I also use 1/2 & 1/2 instead of milk.
*Sometimes, I don't put in any fruit for a "cream pie". It's delicious. (you'll need to use a smaller pie pan to fill it up)
*I usually have to bake it longer. Sometimes 15 minutes longer. Until it's no longer "jiggly".
*I like to eat it after it's been in the refrigerator a couple days and it's kinda "rubbery".

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Double Digits

Today, William turned ten.

Elizabeth made him a star wars cake that he loved. I'm so happy that she likes to make and decorate cakes. Think I'll be able to talk her into making Jackson's in a few weeks?

We took him, and nine of his friends to play laser tag tonight. A perfect game for loud little boys. William graciously invited Elizabeth, and her friend Emily. Which worked out well for Ryan and I since Emily's parents are also the parents of Gavin, one of William's friends, and they went with us! The Dads played tag with the kids while Teresa and I set up for pizza/cake/presents.

Four of his buddies are sleeping over.  Five little guys watching cartoons way to loud in the basement.  I wonder what time they'll quiet down...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

His Biggest Fan

Dad, dad, dad!


Dad c'mear c'mear c'mear, DAD! c'MEAR!

I show you somfing.

I match our boots up!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Money motivates the people around here...

..and color photos jog their memory.

Last week I had a facebook conversation with C-rad, my Brooke's boyfriend.

His laptop had been stolen out of his car while he was working.  He later updated his status and said after posting fliers and offering a reward, someone had found his computer in their bushes. After congratulating him, I asked if he could come to my house and find my ipod. (It's been missing several weeks now, and no one seems to know what happened to it...)

C-rad suggested I post fliers with color photos and offer a reward.
I took his suggestion, and made this flyer:

I then posted it in the busiest spot in our house:

The hall bathroom.

Wouldn't you know it, within the hour, the missing ipod had been found!

Amazing what fliers with color photos and a reward can do!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Fall Front Porch

Have I mentioned that I've been inspired by several decorating blogs? and Pinterest? hmm.  I think so.

I thought I would share my fall front porch with ya'll.

What do you think of that little green table?

I know the wreath is seriously lacking, but I've got plenty of inspiration pinned on my fall decorating board at Pinterest...

Monday, November 14, 2011


Saturday evening, Ryan and I attended our local hospital's annual fundraising Gala. The evening included a delicious dinner, live auction, silent auction, fabulous entertainment from local celebrities, dancing, cash raffle and a diamond/champagne raffle. *phew* a jammed packed night of fun-especially with our friends, Jim and Beth.
But the title of this post is "WINNER!"- so, let's get to that shall we?

Early in the evening, guest can purchase glasses of champagne for a chance to win a diamond necklace. And since I love champagne, Ryan got me glass. It was delicious.

After dinner, the Gala committee members pass out gift bags (one for every glass purchased) with jewelry cleaner in them. As they were passing out the bags, the Master of Ceremonies was explaining how this evening there would be three winners- one would get the diamond necklace, and two others would win gift certificates to a local jeweler.

On the count of three, everyone reaches into their bag(s) and looks at the bottom of their cleaner to see if they won. Not really paying attention to the directions, and not really knowing what to look for, when I pulled mine out and saw "WINNER!", I was not sure what I won.  Showing it to my friend, Beth; I asked: "What did I win?" Imagine my surprise and excitement when she said: "YOU WON THE NECKLACE!"

Me, my winning jewelry cleaner, and new diamond necklace!

Please ignore the bags under my eyes. I had a cold, and Friday night I was up half the night on a overnight retreat with the youth from church. ugh. I'm old. especially after the youth decided "30" was old. oh my.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ranch Snacks

Ranch (Pretzel) Snacks


18 ounces small pretzels
3/4 cup oil
1 pkg ranch salad dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper


Whisk oil, ranch mix, dill, garlic powder and lemon pepper together. Pour over pretzels. Bake at 200 degrees for one hour stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

*Use "dry" item of your choice. I like just pretzels or oyster crackers.
*I hardly ever have lemon pepper on hand,  so I usually just leave it out.
*I like to "bake" in my microwave. Stirring every 2 minutes until I think it's done- 6-8 minutes total.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Have you ever had one of those long work weeks- where you know you'll be getting home late and in no mood to make dinner?

All the time.

So, you plan ahead.  Make the dinner the day before. Stick it in the fridge.

Actually remember to put it in the crock-pot while making your morning coffee.

Come home eagerly anticipating.... and this is what you find:


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Fun Is This??!

I couldn't be more excited if it was Thanksgiving...and I have some extra special guest for Thanksgiving!

Side Table Up-cycle

I have been on a HUGE "get this house decorated-craft project-get organized" kick.

I've gotten so much inspiration from some of the new blogs I found - I love, love Emily Clark. and Home Stories from A2Z. AND Pinterest of course has so, so many great things!

Over thirteen (yes, thirteen) years ago, my friend Deb and I went to visit my parents at their new home in Arkansas.

I picked up this table at an auction for a dollar. As a matter of fact, I think I probably still owe my dad that dollar...


I brought the table home, spent many hours stripping the layers of paint and black sticky stuff off, and then stuck it in the back of the garage. When we moved two summers ago, the table got moved to an out building - only to be found this summer, and moved back to the garage.

Thirteen years later- the drawer is MIA.

A few weeks ago, I brought it out of the garage, sprayed it off with the hose, wiped the cobwebs off and

cut off the bottom two inches of each leg. Nature was doing it's job.

I used a little gorilla glue to put a board back in place and sanded up the table a bit.

Choosing a color to paint was a bit more challenging for me. I wanted to put the table on our front porch next to the front door.  I wanted to paint it a color that would compliment the decor of each season. So, I did what I do when I have a color coordinating problem.  I call my cousin-in-law, Josie.  She knows stuff. Color coordination stuff.  Her recommendation? Green. So smart. But what shade? Cerulean. oh my.  I don't even know how to pronounce that.  But, I do have a favorite shade of green. Apple 5. The shade I painted my bathroom two years ago. After staring at it multiple times for minutes on end, I decided that it would work for any season of decorating.

I dug the old paint can out from under the garage steps... plenty for my project! Gave her two quick coats, and viola!

In the full sun of the front porch, and in this photo, it is much lighter/brighter than the color of my bathroom.  I still think it looks great, and I couldn't be happier with the finished product!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy, Happy Monday!!

Monday morning while I was planning out my work week, the UPS truck pulled into the driveway. Much like when I was younger and lived at home, there was a little flutter in my stomach. Does getting a package make any of you as happy as it makes me? Maybe it's the UPS man. I've never seen an unattractive one... who knows.

Being the grown-up and being one of the two people who have access to a credit card in this house, I can assume that the packages that the UPS man brings are for me.  Or Ryan. As soon as my "flutter" flipped, I thought: "Oh, that's just the rest of the supplies Ryan is expecting for the farm".  Like the last four thousand times the UPS has been here... I did not even get up to meet the delivery man.

My curiosity soon got the best of me, and to the garage I headed. And guess what?


Last week I shopped the Kate Spade One Day Sale. a little treat for myself.  Oh my.  I LOVE HER! 

Later in the day I had to run into my office and grab a few things for my dreaded annual Board Meeting. Ugh.  To find this little package on my desk:

A little white box, tied up with a pink bow.  Filled with cocoa mix and cookies!

Thank you, Thank You, to my sweet friend, Sarah xo!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Farming "Date"

Sunday afternoon Ryan asked me to take a ride in his big green combine. Being the most romantic proposal I've gotten in a while- I said yes.

Just long enough to fill the truck, but quality time all the same!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Homemade Donuts

Fluffy Raised Doughnuts


2 cups lukewarm water
1 Tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
2 teaspoons salt
Approximately 6 cups flour


Dissolve yeast in water. Add oil, sugar, eggs and salt. Beat in 2 cups flour. Let rise 30 minutes. Work in enough of remaining flour to make a workable dough. Knead until smooth. Let rise until double in size. Pat dough - do not roll - about 1/2" thick on floured board. Cut into doughnuts. Let rise. Fry in 375 degree fat, deep enough so doughnuts float. This recipe can be also be used for sticky buns.

*Full discloser: my neighbor ladies did all the cutting and frying!
*This is the recipe I mentioned in this post.
*I forgot the salt and they were fine.
*We did not let them rise the third time... cut them out and tossed them right in the hot oil.
* I used vegetable oil to fry them.
* I do not have a thermometer that goes that high - we just guessed it was hot enough!
* I did use the leftover to make cinnamon rolls.  Not my favorite.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hidden Talents

Our kids get in bed with us on a pretty regular basis. When I actually notice them crawling in, I'll roll over so they have enough room. (get out of the kick zone is more like it.)

On Thursday morning when Isabelle crawled in, she said: "I puked in my sleep".  I was wide awake.

We carried on with our morning because every good mother knows, a single episode is a fluke. She got dressed for school, and I took my shower.  While I was getting dressed in my closet, I heard her going to the bathroom. It didn't sound good. When I heard the vomiting start, I thought "Oh. No". puke everywhere

Imagine my surprise when I walk into the bathroom and find Isabelle still doing her dirty duty, and instead of vomiting on the wall across from the toilet, she has spread her legs, puking directly in the stool.  Not a drop on the outside of the stool.  That girl has got some skills!

She stayed home from school, but was feeling fine later in the afternoon.

I should not have been the least bit surprised when I did not feel well this morning. Or when Jackson and William started throwing up.  I feel much better, but both boys stomachs are still upset.

Hopefully Ryan and Elizabeth skip this go 'round.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Just making it into "Breast Cancer Awareness Month"- my friend Beth and I hosted a "Pink Party".

Pink decorations, pink snacks, pink cocktails.

Friends in pink:

A wonderful evening honoring our friend, Sarah.

Who has survived breast cancer. twice.


I Caught The Kitchen On Fire.

And set off the smoke detectors two nights in a row.

I've been wanting to try my hand at homemade donuts for- oh, the last three years or so. I decided Sunday afternoon after the neighborhood "trick or treat" would be a fantastic time to figure it out. That way everyone could witness my baking shortcomings.  Nothing like trying a new recipe on your friends right?

The recipe was easy, and (I think) they turned out great.  I had some dough left over, and at the recipes suggestion, made cinnamon rolls.  Not so good. After having these cinnamon rolls, it's hard to find anything that compares.

Wanting to get good use out of my pan full of vegetable oil, I decided to make homemade french fries to go with the pork tenderloin we were having for dinner Monday night.

Oil splashed down side of pan will burst into flames on a flat top stove.

The smoke detectors will go off.

All ten of them. For a good fifteen minutes.

Two good things came from it.
A. A lesson on kitchen fire safety.
B. Delicious fries.

William has decided that I am a good enough cook to open a restaurant. He's identified a vacant property, and decided I will do all the cooking with help from Elizabeth and Isabelle.  He's going to be the commercial guy.  And the guy that runs the "red fuzzy rope thing" outside the door. After much debate, he's decided "Mama's Kitchen" will be the name.

Tuesday night, I was frying up some bacon ends when the the smoke detectors went off. All four of the kids came into the kitchen one by one and casually asked if I had caught the kitchen on fire. again.

Nothing exciting happened in the kitchen tonight. Unless you think someone turning off the oven. Instead of dinner being ready at 6:30, we ate at 8:45.  Good times.