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.

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!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

a parenting fail

Here is how I've failed as a parent:

My children cannot pick up their toys.

Okay, they can. But they rarely do. And here's why:

1. I cannot stand mess. I constantly follow them around, picking up after them, because I can't even stand to look at the toys all over the house.

2. I'm a control freak. The toys have to be put back in the correct place or I about lose it. Just ask Darren what we were doing the other night 5 minutes after it was supposed to be Natalie's bedtime...he'll back me up on this one, I promise you.

3. It is SO PAINFUL to watch them pick up their toys. They are SO SLOW. I mean, c'mon kids, let's PICK. UP. THE. PACE. I don't have all day to stand here and watch you SLOOOWWWLLYY put that Mickey Mouse figurine in the basket. And by all means, please, let's have twenty billion distractions along the way, as well. "No, you can't play with that now. Pick up your toys. No, we aren't going to color right now. Pick up your toys. Stop messing around. Don't play with that. Easton! Don't dump that out again! NATALIE. Pick up your toys! Easton, put it back. Natalie, for the love of all that's holy, pick up your toys right now or Mommy is going to lose it." And then I start picking them up just to keep myself from blowing a gasket on the kids and/or banging my head against the wall.

So here is what I've decided: no more toys. My children aren't allowed to have toys because I just can't handle it any more.

I mean, probably I should just learn to have more patience and teach them to clean up after themselves, but let's face it, it's just easier on everyone involved if I just start exiling the toys. They can just watch TV all the time, anyway, right?

Monday, June 2, 2014

my new toy

I got my Fitbit Flex over the weekend. I ordered it for myself for Mother's Day.

Thanks, honey! 

It was back ordered, because it's so awesome, so I finally just got it a few days ago.


Darren thinks the government is secretly tracking me through it. I think if I'm ever abducted then maybe they can use it to find me.

The Fitbit tracks activity levels, and when synced with myfitnesspal it's a pretty powerful weight loss tool.

I've been using myfitnesspal off and on since I had Easton, and let's just say the Fitbit bumps it up a notch.

The things they can do with computers these days. Wait, computers? More like phones.

Now, if you're wealthier than I am and have an iPhone 4S or better, your Fitbit can sync right to your phone through passive bluetooth technology. Which will then sync to your myfitnesspal app. Or, if you're poor like me, your Fitbit will sync to the "dangle" (yes, that's it's name), which you leave plugged into your computer, every time you are within 20 feet.

The Fitbit battery supposedly lasts 5 days or so. Mine was 60% charged when I put it on 36 hours ago and it's still going strong. Fitbit is water resistant, so you can wear it in the shower. You can also buy additional bands to coordinate with your outfits. 

That is next on my priority list.

AND, by far the most interesting thing Fitbit can do is track your sleep patterns. Sounds crazy, no?

This is me, last night.

Look at that, logging my solid 8 hours!! Mostly. Please notice that I was restless for a total of 22 minutes, over FOURTEEN different episodes. I literally looked at the clock every 30 minutes from 9pm to midnight, I swear. I also woke up once in the middle of the night because Easton's monitor went crazy.

But isn't that COOL?! So interesting to see.

Pretty fun, huh?