ATTITUDE IS A LITTLE THING THAT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE. ~
Winston Churchill




Friday, February 25, 2011

Thought for the Month


I have learned that the ability to laugh at everyday family difficulties helps keep life in perspective. If we will learn to laugh and play more with our families, not only will we feel better but so will they. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” says Proverbs 17:22. -Gary K. Palmer

Here are a few of my favorite "smile" pictures of Winston. 





Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Family Picture - Winston Style

Winston has been practicing his letters lately - he can't wait to go to school - and is getting really good at some of his letters.  He also loves to draw and has quite an imagination.  Quite simply, he loves to learn.  I hope his enthusium continues when he starts school.

Yesterday he decided to draw a picture of his family on our driveway and write "To Dad and Mom" - look close and you can kind of make it out.  He loves to do H for Holly - such a smartie pants.  Pretty good for a 4 year old, don't you think?  I sure think it (and  he) is adorable and I love our new family picture.

Here's one he drew of just me and Brad.  I'm the big one and Brad is the smaller one.  I like that we're holding hands  : )

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hot Robin?

Winston came home from his baby sitters and promptly announced that he'd had Hot Robin for lunch.  Hot Robin?  I asked him what it was.  He said, "you know, with the curly noodles."  I thought about it for a minute and then the light bulb went on - Top Ramen!  What a cutie!  : )

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Garlic Bread - Mmmm!


I love garlic bread!  I love it with pizza, with spagetti, with chicken, with soup - well you get the idea.  I could eat it as a meal with just a side salad.  I've tried several recipes looking for the best.  There are lots of good ones out there, but I finally ended up tinkering around to come up with my own version.  Here's my recipe for delicious garlic bread.

GARLIC BREAD

1 loaf french bread, sliced in half length wise
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 Tbsp mayonaise
2 cloves of crushed or minced garlic
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dried parsley
4 Tbsp shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together until well blended.  Spread half the butter mixture on each half of the french bread.  Bake for 7 minutes and then turn on the broiler for 2 minutes or until bread begins to golden.  Slice and serve while warm.  
Variation - you can also top with 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese for a cheesy garlic bread.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Small Luxury

Doesn't this bed look cozy?  I've always had a thing for sleigh beds and this one looks divine.  I especially love the quilted headborad. 

I'm usually up between 6:00 and 6:30 either to get ready for work or because Winston gets me up - he's almost always awake by 6:45.  He'll come right in and say, "Wake up Mom, it's morning.  Time to get up.  Mom, wake up!"  He won't stop until I drag myself out of bed.  Some days his wake up routine feels like torture - I never do get to bed at a decent hour and mornings always come way too early for my liking.  I'm not really a "morning" person.

Today when Winston came in to wake me up, Brad - most benevolently I might add - got up and somehow talked Winston into letting me gets some more sleep - this never happens.  Usually he just persists in trying to get me up and out of bed.  I had work off today for President's Day so I was more than happy to take advantage of this unexpected event.  I rolled over to the middle of the bed and burrowed back under the covers and promptly went back to sleep.  I actually slept in until about 8:45!  I can't remember the last time I slept this late. 

What a luxury to be able to sleep until my own body clock says it's time to wake up.  Brad is the best husband/daddy!  Thank you for your thoughtfulness and for entertaining our little guy so I could get some much needed rest.

I love the bedding in this picture - just gorgeous.  Don't you just want to jump on this bed and snuggle under the covers?  Ahhhh!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Place to Visit

I came across this post and thought this place sounded so neat - a beach where rocks are made heart shaped by the ocean.  It's in Cambria, California.   I'd love to check out this place some day - there's lots to see and do. I think I'd like to stay here.  Maybe I can find some heart shaped stones of my own while strolling along the beach. . . some day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Learning Patience

 "There is an important concept here: patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!" ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I thought this was such a great message I had to post it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Wish


I met the love of my life almost 25 years ago (has it really been that long?)  We'll be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary this year.  It boggles my mind to think how many years we've been together.  I  feel like I should be thirty-something not forty-something but that's alright.  It's been a wonderful journey getting to this point in my life - full of lots of ups and downs.

Life's about finding joy in the journey and I'm very blessed to have so much goodness in my life.  I'm so grateful for Brad, for his love and support and for the life we share together.   Thank you Brad for a wonderful 24 years together - here's to the next 24.  Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Monkeys at Monkey Island

I had the day off from work and wanted to do something fun with Winston.  We decided to take him and his best buddy Jackson to Monkey Island - one of those indoor places with the big inflatable slides and bouncers.  Boy did they have a blast.  They ran from one thing to the next hardly stopping for a break - I wish I had that kind of energy.  Here's a few highlight pics from our outing.







Saturday, February 12, 2011

Superbowl Pics

We had a great time watching the big game, hanging out together and eating lots of yummy, fattening food.  I made way too much food and ate too much of it - Mmmm.  I love having an excuse to bake.  : )  Brad was especially happy since he's been a Greenbay Packer's fan since he was a boy.  By the way, what's a Cheese Head anyway?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Two Years

I find it hard to believe it's been two years since I lost my father.  It still feels like his passing happened only a few months ago, yet at the same time it seems like forever since I last saw him.  I miss my father - I'm sure I always will.  I do take comfort in knowing there will come a day when we'll be reunited.  How wonderful to have this hope.  Until then, I have many wonderful memories to think back on and I'll always be grateful for being blessed with such a wonderful father.  I love you Dad
I put together a list on our family blog of all the posts various family members have written about my dad.  It's comforting (even though it's a little hard at the same time) to look back at our thoughts and feelings during the past two years.  Here's a link to this post for anyone who would like to reminisce about Dad.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Little Super Hero

It snowed a couple of inches here last night and Winston wanted to help Brad shovel the snow - I love what he decided to wear while braving the cold weather.   Warning to all evil snow out there, Super Hero Winston is on the job!
I can just imagine the thoughts floating around his creative, imaginative mind - flying around with his shovel to banish all the snow and fight the bad guys with his super strength.  My little Super Hero!  He sure brightens my days and brings a smile to my face.  I simply love him to pieces!   : )

video

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Goodies for the Big Game

I know I just posted a bunch of recipes, but it's the Superbowl this weekend and I wanted to post some of the goodies we'll be enjoying while watching the big game.  

This first one is from Allrecipes.  It's a no-bake recipe for Peanut Butter Bars.  They're soooo good and are super easy too.

PEANUT BUTTER BARS
Ingredients:
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons peanut butter

Directions:  In a medium bowl, mix together the butter or margarine, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners' sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 inch pan. (I melt the peanut butter with the butter.  It's easier to mix this way.)
In a metal bowl over simmering water, or in the microwave, melt the chocolate chips with the peanut butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spread over the prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.  (I melt the chocolate & peanut butter in the microwave on high for 1 minute, stir well and then for 30 more seconds.  Stir until completely melted.  Works like a charm.)

This recipe is one that I make every year for the Superbowl.  It's so yummy (and fattening!)  I only make it a few times a year because I can't help but load up my plate with this stuff.  Super Yumm!
SEVEN LAYER DIP
Ingredients:
2 cans Frito Bean Dip
2 cups sour cream
1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 packet of Taco Seasoning (I like Old Elpaso)
5-6 Avocados
2 packages of Great Guacamole Seasoning mix
5 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 - 3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 small can sliced olives
1 lb Medium Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Diced green onions (optional)

DIRECTIONS:  Mix Sour cream, mayonnaise and taco seasoning together, set aside.  Mash avocados, mix in lemon juice, Great Guacamole Seasoning mixes, salt and pepper.  On a serving platter, layer bean dip, guacamole, sour cream mixture, cheese, tomatoes, olives and green onions.  (This tastes best if the sour cream mixture and guacamole are made the day before so the flavors can fully blend.  Mine's already mixed and chilling in the fridge.  Super delicious!)

This next recipe I found HERE and thought, wow this recipe sounds so good.  I'm excited to try it out.  
CINNAMON ROLL CARAMEL POPCORN
                                                       Ingredients
12 cups popped popcorn (I used 2 bags of light microwave popcorn)
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup soft butter
1tsp vanilla
                                                                          1/2 tsp baking soda
                                                                          3 squares almond bark
                                                                          (about 4 oz)
Directions:  Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a large glass bowl. Mix well. Add butter and corn syrup. Microwave on high for 30 seconds; stir to combine. Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir. Microwave for 2 more minutes. Stir in vanilla and baking soda. Mixture will foam. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pecans and stir till everything is well coated.

Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Pour popcorn onto foil. Place in oven and bake at 250° for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Melt almond bark according to package instructions. Drizzle over popcorn mixture. When almond bark is set and popcorn is cool, break into chunks. Enjoy!  (Doesn't this sound delicious?  I'll let you know how it turns out.)


This last recipe is another one I'm trying out for the first time.  When I read through this one, it made my mouth water.  I'm really looking forward to these flavorful sandwiches.  Mmmm!

SLOW COOKER BUFFALO CHICKEN
Ingredients
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 (17.5 fluid ounce) bottle buffalo wing sauce, divided
1/2 (1 ounce) package dry ranch salad dressing mix
2 tablespoons butter
6 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise

Directions:  Place the chicken breasts into a slow cooker, and pour in 3/4 of the wing sauce and the ranch dressing mix. Cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours.
Once the chicken has cooked, add the butter, and shred the meat finely with two forks. Pile the meat onto the hoagie rolls, and splash with the remaining buffalo wing sauce to serve.

Enjoy the game!  : ) 

UPDATE:  The popcorn turned out sooo yummy!  I had chopped almonds on hand so I used those instead of the pecans (I'm sure it's great with pecans too) and used 1 cup vanilla chips melted with 1 tsp of shortening in place of the almond bark.  I couldn't stop munching on this. 
The chicken was AWESOME too!  I used Winger's sauce and served it with colby/jack cheese and shredded lettuce on hogie rolls.  Sooo good.  This one's a keeper!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Baking - My Refuge

There is something about being in the kitchen making good food that's therapeutic for me.  Whether I'm preparing on old family favorite or trying out something new, I really enjoy baking - it somehow recharges my inner batteries.  This past weekend, I kind of went on a baking spree making chicken enchiladas, three-cheese quesadillas, mock Cafe Rio ranch dressing and salsa.  They all turned out so yummy!  For dessert, I made some ginger cookies which tasted awesome - I just love a good spice cookie. Here are some of the recipes.
THREE-CHEESE QUESIDALLAS
I found this recipe at Taste of Home and thought they sounded so good.  I doubled the recipe, used the pre-shredded Mexican blend cheese and just sprayed the pan with Pam cooking spray instead of using the butter.  They tasted very similar to the quesidallas you can get at Chili's - delicious!  I bet you could add your favorite meat to make these for dinner.

Ingredients:
4 flour tortillas (8 inches)
1 tablespoon butter
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped ripe olives
1/4 cup salsa
Sour cream, optional

Directions:  Spread butter over one side of each tortilla. Spread cream cheese over unbuttered side on half the tortillas. Sprinkle with cheeses, onion, cilantro and olives. Top with remaining tortillas, buttered side up.  Cook on a griddle over medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until cheese is melted. Cut into wedges. Serve with salsa and sour cream if desired.
Yield: 2 servings.

 
TOMATILLO RANCH DRESSING
A friend gave this recipe to me - I'm not sure where she got it.  This really is pretty close to the dressing served at Cafe Rio.

Ingredients:
2 tomatillos (husks removed)
1 medium to large jalapeno (seeds removed)
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pkg Hiddn Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise (don't use diet or reduced fat)
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp salt

Directions:  Place all ingredients in a blender in order listed and blend until smooth.  May add extra mayo if dressing is too thin.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight for flavors to blend.

SALSA
I'm not sure where I found this recipe. It's similar to Chili's salsa.

 Ingredients:
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp cumin (add more if you like it spicy)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion
small handful of cilantro
2 green onions, tops only

Directions:  Place all ingredients and pulse blend to desired texture.  Chill several hours or overnight for flavors to blend well.

BIG SOFT GINGER COOKIES
I'm not sure where I found this recipe either.  I've modified it just a little - here's my version.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tbs water
2 Tbs sugar

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well mixed.  Mix in molasses and water.  Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture.  Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and roll in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Place the cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets and slightly flatten.  Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.  Makes about 32 cookies.

Whew! That's a lot of typing for one post but I just had to share these wonderful recipes.  Next thing to do - decide what to make for Superbowl Sunday.  : )  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog's Day!

Well, this year he didn't see his shadow so we should be getting an early spring.  Time will tell, but I sure hope the little bugger is right!  It was -1 degrees at my house this morning and that's just way too cold for my old bones.  Let's all THINK SPRING!

On a side note, I do love the movie Groundhog's Day.  It always makes me laugh and has a good message behind all the jokes.  Here's a funny quote:  "This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather."  Ha ha, Bill Murry does a great job in this show.  If you have a favorite quote, please share.