Nov 23, 2013

Muffin Making

Alayna has become the resident muffin maker, Rachel used to be in charge, but that girl has moved onto bigger and better things....Like Rolo Cheesecake Squares, but that's another post....
She is very good at measuring the ingredients  and is veeeeeeery precise at how she pours the batter into the tins.

Here we made Berry Pancake muffins, which were pretty good, basically a berry flavored pancake in muffin form.  Bet you didn't see that coming, right?

Yes I let her grate some zucchini for our very favorite Carrot Zucchini muffins.  I have made these several times in the past few weeks, the girls absolutely love them

Nov 10, 2013

Early Morning Breakfast Date

I woke the girls early one morning this week and tried to get them up to no avail.  However, when I happened to mention that we were going to head over to the Local Blend for breakfast, suddenly everyone was up and ready within 15 minutes!  Crazy how that works, isn't it???

They enjoyed hot chocolate and muffins and it was a nice change up to our crazy mornings.

I think the sugar might have kicked in....sorry teachers...

Nov 3, 2013

Halloween 2013

It's still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that it is November already!  Where has fall gone??  Soon it will be time for buying Christmas presents and all the fun that comes with the holidays, which happens to be my FAVORITE time of the year!

We enjoyed a lot of fun things this month...

Alayna helped me make candy corn bark, which was super yummy!

In fact we made it a couple different times.

I tried a recipe for candy corn cookies which didn't exactly turn out the best...

Brad got "Dad of the Year" for his sports themed pumpkins!

We enjoyed a fun Halloween party with friends.  This is my all time favorite costume, I was meant to live in the 20's.  Seriously.  Maybe I was a flapper in a former life??


The kiddos all dressed up for trick or treating.  Rachel and her girlfriends actually went trick or treating for canned goods for our local food shelf.  They got a ton of food!

Hey, we even got a mini snowstorm!  This is why I love Minnesota, you never know what kind of weather you're going to get!

Oct 26, 2013

Fall is Here

No words here, just absolutely love this picture of my bigs with her pups...

Oct 11, 2013

Summer in Duluth

Duluth is my all time favorite place to visit.  I love that in only a couple hours you feel like your a world away...its also a very special place to me, as we used to vacation there as a child and Brad and I spent our honeymoon and our 10th anniversary there.  Duluth has SO much to see and do, so with my sisters wedding back in August, we decided to do a mini vacay out of it.

Brad and I always laugh at how opposite we are in our hobbies.  He loves to hunt anything and everything...seriously, if you peeked in my freezer right now you would find 4 different types of ducks waiting to be mounted (stuffed??), a wild turkey he got this last spring, geese and of course venison.  Honestly, it's ridiculous.  I need another freezer...

I love to craft, decorate and read.  While he loves to watch all sporting events, I'm not much into TV.  When I do have the tv on, it's usually on our Sirius music channels (love me some Big Band and 80's rock!) or Food Network.  

But the one thing that Brad and I are, is spontaneous.  Minus our Mexico and Disney trip, we rarely plan more than a week ahead if we get an idea to go somewhere.  Last fall we did a last minute trip up to Duluth to see the fall colors and it was the best.vacation.ever.  So the day after Tracy and Peter's wedding, we decided to drive up the scenic drive which is along the shores of Lake Superior.  I made no less than 40 phone calls to various hotels and resorts until we FINALLY found a room in Silver Bay.

Before we got to the hotel we decided to see Gooseberry Falls which is a beautiful waterfall/nature preserve.  I of course was a nervous wreck thinking someone was going to fall and break their head open, but thankfully everyone was fully intact by the end of the day:)

The girls were amazed at how beautiful it was...They waded in the water and Alayna tried to catch her some tadpoles.

Once we got to Silver Bay, we ate at a little bar and grill down the road from our hotel and stuffed ourselves silly.  Once we got the girls settled into bed, Brad and I mixed a cocktail and headed outside to enjoy our view of Lake Superior.  It was one of those vacations that you truly feel depressed leaving.  No worries, no time constraints and no where we "had" to be.  Truly glorious!

Sep 20, 2013

Summer Fishing

This was a craaaaaaaaaaazy busy summer, between both of us having our 20 year class reunions, my sisters wedding, bridal shower, Disney trip and everything else thrown in there, we didn't make too many trips to the lake.  And since summer didn't decide to make it's appearance until mid June, we had a chilly few weekends of pontooning and fishing.  That, however, did not stop the girls from wanting to fish.

Getting cozy in the boat!  Mind you it is the middle of June, and we ARE wearing jackets, sigh....

The big catches of the day!  Alayna would out fish any of those girls!  With as much energy as this kid has, you give her a fishing pole, and she's quiet, calm and focused.  Maybe I need to send one with her to school....

Makes for one sleepy ride home!

Sep 14, 2013

Rainy, Rainy Saturday...

I am going to thoroughly enjoying every second of this day for two reasons.  Number one, because it is FINALLY raining here in Minnesota!  I feel a pang of guilt, as I know our friends in Colorado are wishing the rain would stop.  Unfortunately here we are in a severe draught.  The last time we got any measurable rain was about 6 weeks ago and that was about a quarter of an inch.  All of the crops around here are brown and crispy, so sad....Number two reason is that I have enjoyed Miss Alayna all day to myself!  Brad and Rachel are at a Gopher football game and Emma is at a friends house.  

We started off the morning going to our favorite store, Crafts Direct!  After getting a strawberry/banana smoothie, we bought some fall decor and I let Alayna pick out a couple crafts to make.  She choose a couple blank canvas' that she is busily painting as I type.  For lunch we decided to make our own mini pizzas.  She got to make hers, homemade pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni and cheese.  I used pizza sauce, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella.

I had ready made pizza crust on hand so we used those.  They were scrumptious, and oh so easy!  Next on the agenda is a nap...I mean movie...

Happy Saturday!

Sep 10, 2013

The Wedding

My little (step) sister got married in August, and we had such a blast celebrating with her and Peter!  And you know how weddings always have something that goes wrong on the special day?  Ya, they had like 10, but no bigs, we all survived and danced the night away!

Awww....hubs and I were both in the wedding, nothing like making you feel REALLY old being in a wedding party where you're almost 10 years older than the next....

The girls each wanted a pic with auntie

That's the "I'm too cool to give you a full smile smile".

Beautiful ladies!

This is Miss A aaaaalmost out....

...And the final destination....

We had such a great time celebrating with Tracy and Peter!  We even made a mini vacation out of the rest of the weekend, you can't spend one day in Duluth, it's like, illegal.  I have another post about our up north adventure.

Sep 6, 2013

Tuscan Chicken Pasta

I know I've posted before about Mel's Kitchen Cafe, but honestly, if you haven't checked out her blog, you need to.  Right now.  Her dishes are amazing, flavorful, easy and even my kids love most of the recipes I've made.  One of my favorite dishes is her Tuscan Chicken Pasta.  

The flavor is amazing, and it truly reminds me of an Olive Garden dish!  The first time I made it, I followed her recipe, the second time around I left out the sundried tomatoes, and added sauteed red pepper.

Tuscan Chicken Pasta

4 Tbl. butter
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. dried basil
8 ounces cream cheese- cut into chunks
1/2 red bell pepper- chopped
Cooked chicken cut into small chunks or shredded.  I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store
8 ounce jar sun dried tomatoes
2 cups of milk
2 cups Parmesan cheese- grated
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
Diced fresh tomatoes and basil for garnish on top

Melt butter over medium heat, add red peppers and cook for a few minutes; add garlic and basil, cook for 15 seconds or so, you don't want the garlic to brown as it will taste bitter.  Add cream cheese and whisk until cheese is creamy, it takes a few minutes.  Stir in sundried tomatoes and chicken; add milk, 1/4 cup at a time.  Stir in Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.  Stir and simmer for 5-10 minutes until everything is melted and thickened.


Aug 13, 2013


This year we decided was the year for us to tackle Disney World!  And tackle we did, and Disney promptly kicked our butt!  We left with sunburns, heat exhaustion and no money, but ohhhhhh the memories...  
With Alayna being 7 we figured this would be the perfect age to get the whole Disney experience, and we did experience a lot!  Such great memories for ALL of us....

Mickey Mouse pancakes to kick off our vacation...

Girls waiting to hop on the bus to go to Animal Kingdom.

Photo op at Animal Kingdom.  Best part of this day was the  "Life of a Bug" and seeing the musical "Finding Nemo".

Here you go, Grandpa Bob!

We were at Epcot only for the evening, but were able to see Minnie Mouse (Alayna's favorite!).

I think the highlight of the whole trip was scoring a table at Cinderella's Palace for breakfast.  I had tried to get tickets to no avail (I didn't know you had to get them 6 months in advance), but as we were walking through the castle, they announced that they had a table available!  WOOT WOOT!  It was such an incredible experience.  We got to visit with Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine and Ariel.

It just so happened to be Mr. Z's birthday too, and I promised I would not tell anyone...uh huh...sorry bud.

Thursday we drove to Clearwater beach, it was a beautiful day, hot and sunny!
It was such a great vacation, and I am happy that it's one more thing to check off our summer bucket list!!!!

Jul 16, 2013

Busy Place Around These Here Parts

One of my favorite blogs right now is the Elliot Homestead.  She has a way of writing that puts you right there, and her dry sense of humor cracks me up.  Especially this post, the chicken feet photo had me laughing out loud.  I love how she explains so eloquently why they do what they do, as far as how they eat, the food they grow, etc.  

Eating healthy, whole foods is not easy.  It takes time, planning and patience to truly eat well.  I am fortunate enough to only work 3 days a week right now.  On my Tuesdays off I pretty much spend in the kitchen.  And I love it.  I am exhausted by the end of the day, but I love seeing the fruits of my labor...

Today I was able to make a full crockpot of yogurt, granola to go with the yogurt, 5 loaves of banana bread, smoothie popsicles and a batch of granola bars.  Plus I made Chicken Parmesan for supper, cleaned house, did 8 loads of laundry and got lunches ready for tomorrow.  But who's keeping track?

I love knowing that even when I am not home during the day, my girls have healthy food readily available for them.  Do we still eat some crap??  Yup, in fact last night I may or may not have pigged out on Cool Ranch Doritos....Just keepin it real people...

Jul 14, 2013

Happy (Belated) 4th of July!

Hope everyone had a fantastic 4th!  We stayed in town for the 4th as our church has it's annual parish festival that starts on the 3rd.  They have tons of food, music and beer.  Yes I said beer and church in the same sentence.  Crazy Catholics....  
July 4th has always been one of my favorite holidays, I have a huge bin with all my decorations that I pull out every year.  It's also a special holiday because thats the day Brad proposed to me 16 years ago...:)  He proposed at the Dad made a vinyl sign that Brad had attached to the side of the fire truck and pulled me out in the middle of everyone and got down on one knee!  On July 11th we celebrated 15 years of wedded bliss...

This year since I'm working outside the home, I had Rachel put the decorations out.  I must say, she did a mighty fine job!

I have always loved the Americana look and actually keep some of these things out year round.

I also made the girls a frozen fruit Independence Day smoothie!

We headed to the lake on Friday and spent the weekend at the camper.  Lots of fun, sun and great family and friends.   Couldn't have asked for a better 4th!