About Me

My photo
I have two kids - a girl and a boy - and live in north-central Minnesota, land of snow and ice. Well, for 9 months of the year, that is. I work full-time for a local government, and on my "free time" I enjoy cooking, baking, hanging out with my kiddos, and RELAXING.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

This morning, as my almost-three-year-old whined and cried and wiggled around her bed screaming, "I'M SO SWEEEEEPPPPYYYYYYYY!!!!" (dear Lord, may she never be a teenager...) and my 18-month old threw himself on the floor in a tantrum because he couldn't play with the other one's Teddy (dear LORD, may no one ever TOUCH THE TEDDY!) I knew it was going to be a long day.

Some days I praise Jesus for work. And that moment when the daycare door closes behind me in the morning? It's like I can hear the HALLELUJAH CHORUS in my head. I love the 15 minute drive to work, listening to the radio, drinking my coffee. It's a good thing.

But, soon enough, the work day is over and I pick up my children. There is that amazing 30 seconds where they are so happy to see you, and run to you, faces smiling, arms wide open, as they just about take you out like a linebacker.

Best 30 seconds of the day. Because the other 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 30 seconds are filled with whining, crying, and calls for "Chee-yos". And plus some more crying and whining. What's a mom to do?

ANSWER: chocolate.

As soon as bedtime hits, I am in the cupboards, fridge, freezer, you name it in search of the elixir of life. (Okay, sometimes coffee is the elixir of life. But mostly it's chocolate.)


Sometimes I like to pretend that all those antioxidants in chocolate mean that the calories don't matter.

Heh heh.

But really, who I am kidding? Not the scale, that's for certain. So, therefore, I have a new mantra:

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the cravings.

I feel like this will be a prayer God will answer, yes?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Recipe Review: Fudge Pops, Homemade Snickers Bars, and Chicken with Garlic

The other weekend I tried out several new recipes.

It's good to just start knocking them off the mile-long list. I was supposed to try about 15 new ones this month, but, well, that didn't happen.

I did try a few, though.

The other weekend we tried these S'mores Fudge Pops. Mine were not nearly as pretty as the picture, but they turned out okay. These were fairly tasty, and I feel a bit better about giving these to the kids than some other store-bought freezer pop.

Next I made these SUPER DELICIOUS Homemade Snickers Bars. These are VERY GOOD. Definitely a five-star recipe. And they freeze really well. I will be making these again. Bonus: even Darren liked them!

Sunday I received some Pampered Chef items I had ordered to tried out the new recipe that went with my Deep Covered Baker: Smothered Chicken with Garlic. Darren loved this chicken. I thought it tasted pretty good. I will likely make it again, although I don't think it will be one of those "oh-my-goodness-I-have-to-have-it-now" meals. It was very moist and juicy, which is always a plus with chicken.

Well, those are my new ones! Looking forward to trying some additional new recipes within the next few weeks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


We get up early during the week.

It takes me 45 minutes to get to work with a daycare drop-off in there, so we typically leave home around 7 a.m. The kids get up about 6:30 or so to get dressed, get distracted, brush teeth, make a mess, and generally do their level best to make us late.

Breakfast at daycare isn't served until 8:30, so I take pity on the poor things and usually give them Cheerios to eat in the car.

Side note: This is why my car looks like a box of Cheerios exploded in the backseat. A starving family could live off the Cheerios in there for a week.

Sometimes the kids see me getting their Cheerios ready in the morning. Natalie usually tells me she wants the purple container. Easton just whines until I give him Cheerios.

A couple weeks ago Easton started saying, "Bow-bow" for his Cheerios. I immediately thought I had the most brilliant child ever; he knows that his Cheerios are in a bowl! He must have learned that at daycare, I assumed.

Last week it dawns on me as Natalie stands there screaming, "I want purple! Purple, PURPLE, PURPLE!" Easton isn't saying "bowl;" he is saying "purple."

And now, when he requests his Cheerios in the morning, he asks for "purple."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

how Costco always gets me

I love Costco.

I love Costco almost as much as I love Target, which is saying something. A big something.

Costco is good at what they do. They can sell you anything. Anything! They make it easy and simple: PRICE. PER. UNIT.

And if you do the math, you can easily see that Costco pretty much beats everyone out. At everything.

Two pounds of cheese for $5.98? Yes, please. I'll take it. And actually, I'll take two. Or three.

Last time I went to Costco I bought six 32-oz containers of coffee creamer. That's 1 1/2 gallons. But it was such a good deal!

Here's what else Costco is good at: SAMPLES. Those samples work. At least they work on me. Granted, I am a person who is easily swayed. On my most recent trip I tried a spinach artichoke dip with some crackers. It was good. And, sure enough, after I tried it I wanted that $8 container of dip and the $6 bag of crackers. And now Darren and I like it so much it will probably become a semi-regular purchase.

And that's how Costco always gets me.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Recipe Reviews: Donuts, Chicken, and more!

Here's the awesome thing about rainy weekends: they are a perfect excuse to stay inside and do nothing.

Now, I like summer as well as the next person, but all this push to BE OUTSIDE, and ENJOY THE WEATHER, and SOAK UP THE SUN, man, that's just not me. I'm an inside kind of person. The kind who likes to sit their lazy butt on the couch and watch TV and read all day.

Children have ruined this for me.

But still, summer is so OVERWHELMING with activities. So when it rains, I'm secretly happy. Or maybe not so secretly anymore. But I don't mind a rainy weekend now and again. My regular life is busy enough; I don't feel the need to add extra activities on the weekends. Let's just all CHILL, MAN.

However, here's the thing. The thing is this: I can only do nothing for so long. Then I start to go crazy. Literally on Sunday I started wandering around my house trying to think of something to do.

I mean, something that I WANTED to do. Because Lord knows, there were a million other things I SHOULD DO.

I did A LOT of baking and cooking over the last few days. Thursday I stayed home with a diseased child, and made a giant batch of The Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. These babies are delish...I think I ate about 30 over the weekend.

I am not joking.

Also on Thursday I SLAVED over homemade BBQ meatballs with Homemade BBQ Sauce from the Pioneer Woman. Confession: I only made this because I was out of the store bought stuff. I want to try it again, this time NOT substituting Tabasco for Worcestershire. I also made Herb Bubble Bread, which is out of this world, and my MIL's garlic mashed potatoes. And corn on the cob, which doesn't require to much effort other than boiling water and remembering to take butter out of the fridge.

But that wasn't it, man. Thursday was just a teaser for things to come over the weekend. I have a list a mile long of new recipes I want to try, and I am making a conscious effort this year to expand my go-to meals. Sometimes new recipes turn out to be total duds (like most of the freezer-to-crockpot meals I tried this year), sometimes they turn out so-so but aren't worth making again for one reason or another, and every once in a while I find a real winner.

Saturday morning I got up at the crack of dawn to make homemade donuts for my family. Because that's how awesome I am.

Just kidding. I actually slept in until 7:30 or so, and these took just minutes to whip together, so I can't take credit for too much. I have tried one other donut recipe in the past before, and I'd have to say I did like that one better, but these Cinnamon Baked Donuts weren't too bad, just very sweet. Darren ate half of one and said he felt his heart clogging up. Easton and I ate two each, and Natalie just licked all the cinnamon sugar off. Clearly we all have different tastes.

One thing with the donuts: do not DREDGE them in butter and then DREDGE them in the cinnamon sugar mixture. It is TOO MUCH. The butter flavor is overwhelming, and they are plenty sweet without all the extra sugar. I want to try them again, but take it a little easier on the toppings.

After I made the donuts I set about making homemade cinnamon rolls. Because, why not? I used the Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite recipe sites. Okay, here's the thing with homemade cinnamon rolls:

(1) Pillsbury are just SKETCHY. I mean, have you ever looked at them and seriously considered how that whole process works? You beat them out of a CAN, for crying out loud! (I actually do really like these, but if I think about them too long they start to sound really weird. Like, why would I eat that?! Kind of like hot dogs.)

(2) No one in their right mind is getting up FIVE HOURS before breakfast time to make these. That's be like two in the morning! Fortunately, God invented the freezer. Here's what you can do with homemade cinnamon rolls: FREEZE THEM. You can freeze them after baking, or, my personal preference, you can freeze them right before the second rise. Then, easy peasy, take them out to thaw and rise 8-10 hours before you need them (a.k.a., the night before) and pop them in the oven in the morning. Thirty minutes to fresh homemade cinnamon rolls! Now does that knock the little dough boy out of the park or what?!

(3) I haven't actually baked them yet. This could all be wishful thinking. I will most definitely keep you posted.

Finally, the last new recipe I tried was Grilled Lime Coconut Chicken with Coconut Rice. I'm not crazy about white rice, and it wasn't anything fancy, although it complimented the chicken pretty well. But the chicken. OH, THE CHICKEN. This chicken was GOOD. The marinade was delicious! So much flavor! So much goodness! This one is DEFINITELY a keeper.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


One thing that always bugs me is that Target doesn't open until 8 AM.

This is the weirdest thing of all.

Am I the only one who tries to go to Target before 8 in the morning? I assure you, I am most definitely NOT.

Here's what's awesome about Menards: it opens at 6:30 AM.

Just think of all those construction workers, DIY-ers, and farmers who can get into Menards bright and shiny to pick up what they need for the day.

I am jealous of them.

Sometimes I need to go to Menards at the bright and shiny part of the day, i.e., before 8 AM. Yesterday was one of those days.

Let me tell you, when you are on your way into work at your office job, and you stop at Menards at 7:30 in the morning with all the construction workers, DIY-ers, and farmers, you feel a little out of place in your dress pants and your straightened hair. And your heels.

Oh, your heels.

It's like someone should come over the loudspeaker and all the construction workers can play "which of these things is not like the others." You definitely get some looks going to Menards in heels, carrying a gallon of paint and bee spray.

Clack-clack, clack-clack, all the way to the back of the store for the paint, and then all the way back up again. And every.single.person asking you if you need help finding something. Because you clearly look like you don't belong.

SO. Not that Target sells paint, but if Target DID sell paint, and they WERE open before 8 AM, I would most definitely go there instead. No one looks at you for wearing heels in Target.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Recipe review: Healthy Applesauce Oat Muffins

I made these muffins on Sunday.

Three things:

(1) Don't forget the vanilla extract like I did. They came out a little bland, but still very moist and delicious. I think a little kick of vanilla would make them 100000% perfect.

(2) I substituted white flour for whole wheat because I was too lazy to dig out my whole wheat.

Side note: Does anyone else put their whole wheat flour in the freezer? I came across that tidbit somewhere along the line; it supposedly makes it last longer. Am I the only one who does this? (Read: Am I the only one who is crazy?) Please, someone, reassure me on this.

(3) If you're a little short on applesauce, you can throw in some olive oil.

Huh. I guess in hindsight I didn't really follow the recipe much at all. Just imagine how delicious they will be when you make them and actually follow instructions! Enjoy!