About Me

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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.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Why I Love...

...Amazon Prime.

1. I'm impatient. Two-day shipping? Yes, please.
2. I'm cheap. FREE two-day shipping? Where do I sign up?
3. I love movies. Instant access to hundreds of movies, available to stream at no cost to me? Wow, this is a great deal.
4. I love books. One free book to borrow from the amazon electronic library a month = me saving the cost of gas and waste of time it takes to drive to the public library.

Because, yeah, I think about things like that.

Amazon Prime is $79 per year, with your first month free. So far, since signing up, I have placed four orders on Amazon (yes, in like two weeks). I have saved myself almost $30 in shipping. BUT WAIT, you say, I never pay shipping anyway, because I always order the $25 limit which qualifies me for free shipping.

Well, my friend, that was me, too. That was me. But how many items did I spend money on just to reach that magical $25 limit? Too many, dear, too many.

Amazon Prime. Give it a try. It's free for 30 days.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

did you know?

You can view sheet music on an iPad?

A couple weeks ago in church I noticed something. Something so crazy I almost didn't believe it at first.


Unheard of. At least by me.

What happened to turning the pages yourself? And trying to make the book stay open to the appropriate page? And the memorization required and the beginning and end of every page, as you needed all your concentration to turn the page without missing notes? And the not-always-imperceptible slowing of the music as you reached that precarious moment, where your left hand suspended in mid air, while your right carried on the tune?

Am I the only one who suffered terribly with this? Now, with the merest touch of the screen, your iPad will turn the page for you.

Musicians have it so easy these days.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

I couldn't even tell you for sure where this recipe came from. I don't remember.

What I do know is that these muffins are very, very delicious.

You definitely need to have fresh blueberries. These were fresh once, last summer. I love to buy blueberries in the summer when they taste better. And are cheaper. I have two full containers of frozen blueberries in my freezer, just waiting to be used in muffins, pancakes, or a pie.

You will also need flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, oil, milk, an egg, butter, and cinnamon.

Start by combining the following:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

In a one-cup measuring cup, place 1/3 cup oil. (This will make sense in a moment.)

Crack an egg in the oil. Fill the remainder of the cup with milk.

Mix the egg/milk/oil mixture into the flour mixture, mixing just until blended. Gently fold in the blueberries. Unless you like purple muffins. Then just beat the stink out of them.

Grease or line a muffin tin with paper cups.

Can I just take a moment to give a shout-out to the person who invented paper muffin cups? GENIUS.

Fill them about 2/3 full. This recipe will make 12 muffins.

And now, the moment you've been waiting for...drumroll...the CRUMB TOPPING.

It's what makes the muffin, people.

In a small bowl, mix:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Note: I have found that halving this amount provides more than enough topping. But if you're wild and crazy and you love your crumb topping, go ahead and make the whole thing.

If you're like me, you love cinnamon so much you never measure it, and instead just generously sprinkle it into whatever recipe you're making. You also make your daughter a play on apple crisp by mixing cinnamon into her baby apples and oatmeal.

She's not a huge fan. Yet. So you finish it off yourself.

That may or may not have happened in this household.

Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into everything else, until it's nice and crumbly.

Or, if you're too lazy to open the drawer and dig out the pastry blender, a fork works just as well.

 Sprinkle the cinnamon deliciousness onto the muffins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool a while, then remove from pan.

Definition of "a while:" as long as you can stand smelling the blueberry-cinnamon wonder without tasting it. OR, five minutes.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Natalie: Eight Months

Vital Stats
Natalie is 18.8 pounds and 28 inches long. She wears 9- or 12-month clothing. And she has a ton of it!

Milestones This Month
Natalie still crawls like crazy. She crawls especially fast when she’s excited about something or wants to get into something she’s not allowed. She will walk around furniture and behind her push toys. She has stood by herself more, but still has some trouble with balance.

She sleeps less than she did a month ago. Typically Natalie sleeps 11-11.5 hours a night, with about 2.5 hours of naps during the day, down about 1-1.5 hours since this time one month ago. The sunlight wakes her up around 7am each morning. She still loves Teddy, and still does really well going to sleep without crying.

Natalie still eats solids at three meals a day, plus a bottle before bed. She has grown a little bit on peas and green beans, and will eat them with hardly any faces at all. She LOVES her finger foods; puffs are still a favorite, but she also likes Cheerios, cheese chunks, and mixed veggies. Natalie tried Daddy’s pot roast with carrots and potatoes last week. Pot roast is hard to eat, but potatoes and carrots are yummy. Natalie tried a piece of French fry for the first time over the weekend. It was…different. And salty.

She drinks about 4oz of water out of her sippy cup every day. Natalie has tried drinking out of a regular cup like a big girl, but it’s a little difficult still. She has tried prune juice and apple juice. Neither was a huge hit, but maybe Mommy diluted them too much. Natalie enjoys water just fine.

Natalie understands the word “no,” and will get mad when she doesn’t get her own way. She’s fairly dramatic about it, in Mommy’s opinion. Her least favorite thing is putting on pajamas after bath time, and she makes no secret about it. She acts like Mommy and Daddy are killing her every night.

Recently she has started to think Mommy and Daddy are there to entertain her and occupy her 24/7. She is very good at whining to get their attention.

Play Time
In the last week Natalie has enjoyed reading books more, and has tried to eat them less. “Touch-and-feel” books are a lot of fun.

Natalie has a ball popper which she is warming up to. It was a little frightening at first, but the balls are fun to chase around. She loves anything that plays music, and likes to “dance” (bobs up and down, like mini-squats). There is a little piano she likes to play. It also has a spot to turn the music pages, which is one of her favorite things to do. She has rediscovered her jumparoo, and will jump for a while if someone is sitting there with her.

Mommy and Daddy packed up the swing last week, as it was no longer a favorite; it’s way more fun to MOVE!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sandra Boynton

Some of my favorite books to read to Natalie are Sandra Boynton books. We only have two, but my mom also has a couple, so we've read several.

My favorite, though, is Moo, Baa, La La La! I'm pretty sure I could recite the whole thing right now, we've read it so much. It's a cute book.

We also have The Going to Bed Book which we read a lot before Natalie goes to bed (imagine that). I also have this one memorized. The stories are short enough to keep Natalie's attention, and the pictures are simple and colorful enough for her to enjoy looking at. Sandra Boynton is quickly becoming one of my favorite children's authors.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Lesson on Tuna

Who's ready to learn?

One of my magazines had an article on tuna. My magazines sound fascinating, don't they?

When I was a kid, I used to think that "Chicken of the Sea" meant there was actually chicken in the can.

Well, I figured that out eventually, but there was still a lot I didn't know about tuna.

I always thought that when a can said "albacore" it was some different fish. Nope. Albacore is a type of tuna. And there are sevaral types of tuna. Albacore is referred to as "white" tuna. "Light" tuna can refer to skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye, or any combination. (Who knew there were so many kinds?!)

Also, I thought that tuna were little fish. Not necessarily the case.

Albacore tuna.

Skipjack tuna.

Yellowfin tuna.

So I'm pretty sure I learned five different things about tuna yesterday. My magazines are highly educational.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Book and Movie Review

Last week when Darren and Natalie were up north I was able to get some reading done. My sister had lent me The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. It's a story about Bruno, a young boy living in Germany during WWII.

The book is a quick read - less than three hours - and pretty good. It reads like a children's book, but it's definitely not for children.

There is also a movie, which I watched last weekend. It followed the book pretty well. I won't give anything away, but if you have six hours or so, I recommend both the book and the movie.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Recipe: Peach Mango Salsa

Baja Sol makes a delicious peach-mango salsa. I eat it every time I go there.

Every time.

There has to be a recipe online somewhere, right? There is. Indeed, there is. I found this recipe at Taste of Home. It's a pretty good replica. The fresh ingredients are AMAZING.

Start with a big bowl. Put in 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes.

Add 1/2 cup chopped red onion.

Add 1/2 chopped yellow pepper.

Add 1/2 cup chopped mango.

Add 2 tablespoons chopped and seeded jalapeno pepper (about 1 pepper).

Add 3/4 cup chopped peeled fresh peaches.

(Apparently fresh peaches aren't in season yet - who knew? I used frozen; it turned out fine.)

Add 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro.

Taste and see if it's sweet enough for you. I found this recipe to not be as sweet as Baja Sol's, so next time I will add a little bit of sugar.

Enjoy with tortilla chips. I think it would be tasty with chicken in a salad. Kind of like a play on taco salad.

One thing to note: It takes forever and a day to chop up all those fresh ingredients. It took me over half an hour to make this salsa. But it was so worth it. YUM! A keeper for sure.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Target this week

A couple free items and some other good deals:

Large Eggs, sale $1.19
-$0.55/2 coupon
Final price: $0.92 each

International Delight creamer, $1.84
-$1/2 coupon
Final price: $1.34 each

Philadelphia cream cheese, sale $1.29
No coupon needed

Head & Shoulders shampoo, $7.14
-Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon
Final price: $3.57 each

Herbal Essences travel size shampoo, $0.97
-$1/1 coupon
Final price: Better than free

Chutes & Ladders, sale price $5.00
-$3/1 manufacturer's coupon
-$2/1 Target coupon
Final price: FREE

Candyland, sale price $5.00
-$3/1 manufacturer's coupon
-$2/1 Target coupon
Final price: FREE

Starburst jelly beans, sale price $2.00, buy two
-$1/2 manufacturer's coupon
-$1/2 Target coupon
Final price: $1.00 each

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Recipe: Italian Chicken and Potato Bake

I love this recipe. Easy. Only a couple ingredients. That's my idea of a weeknight dinner.

Start with chicken. However much you want. Throw it in a pan.

Add potatoes. However much you want.

See? Isn't this recipe easy?

Cut the potatoes into wedges and put them in the pan with the chicken.

Add Italian dressing. Again, however much you want. The recipe said 1/2 cup, I believe. I put in way more than that, because it didn't seem like very much.

Toss it around.

Also, for extra flavor you could marinate your chicken in the Italian dressing. I think I will do this next time.

Top with grated parmesan cheese. The recipe called for 1/4 cup...I probably put on three times that much. I love me some cheese.

Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Doesn't it just look delicious? Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, covered. Remove cover and bake an additional 15-30 minutes, until chicken is done.

I would like to point out that while it looks burnt, it was just the dressing burning to the pan. The chicken and potatoes were fine. Probably this happened because I forgot to cover it. The second time I made it I remembered and it didn't burn. Not a big deal, but a mess to clean up.