Friday, December 31, 2010


This year, I:

Spent a little time in the hospital with Matthew.
Had three minor foot surgeries.
Grew closer to Cole.
Spent a week-long vacation with my inlaws.
Organized the first annual camping trip with my family.
Took a bazillion pictures.
Saw my husband receive a much-deserved promotion.
Made new friends.
Put myself out there.
Read a ton of books.
Watched a good friend a fabulous sister become parents.
Fell in love with Hawaii Five-O.
Supported health care legislation.
Sent Matthew to kindergarten.
Sent Jack to preschool.
Kissed my children.
Reconnected with friends.

Next year, I hope to:

Read more books.
Watch the economy improve.
Pursue financial freedom.
Kiss my children.
Take a bazillion pictures.
Be confident.
Be happy.
Be happy.
Be happy.

Thank you for following me another year.  I wish you health, peace, and prosperity in the coming year.  I hope your faith helps you achieve your goals, as it always helps me pursue mine.  God can do magnificent things, and above all, I hope I remember that.

God bless you...Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The longest season...

To say that I am not a fan of winter would be a gross understatement.  In October, when it cools off here, I start to feel anxious and panicky about winter.  It feels like such a long time until Spring, and the best description is that I feel claustrophobic. 

Getting his gear on is a pain, but his adorableness is worth it!

I can get through the holidays because there's so much fun thrown in.  And January is a month we simply have to 'get through.'  Then February is a short month and we pack some fun stuff in there as well.  By March, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Mostly, I just 'survive' winter.  Someday we'll move south.

My husband is hot.  (Literally and figuratively in this photo.)

But once in awhile, a day like today comes along.  It's sunny, and warm (30 degrees) and beautiful.  I open my kitchen window a crack and breathe in the outside air.  I go outside without the cold biting my lungs and freezing my nosehairs.  I actually enjoy the day.  It refreshes my spirits and I am grateful for it.

A path from the front door through the new tunnel.

A facebook friend just said he heard on the news that February and March are going to be among the coldest and snowiest on record.  I'll get through it, if God gives me breather days similar to the one we had today.

My husband's handiwork.

In other things to be grateful for, the photos are of a tunnel Cory built for the kids.  He so totally rocks.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Turning pages...

I’ve read a few books since the last update. Last week, I received four of my library requests at once.  I am pleased to say, I am on the final book (although I didn't read Freedom (see below)), and read the other three in a single week.  Oh, how I love books.  (Although I am thrilled to have learned that I can suspend my requests so there's not so much pressure in the future!)

Here are the latest and my comments on them:

The White Queen, Philippa Gregory

I love this historical period and the novels that so many talented authors present to us.  I really appreciate this author (The Other Boleyn Girl), but the style of Alison Weir is preferable to me (The Lady Elizabeth and Innocent Traitor).  If you love historical fiction and haven't read either of those, I highly recommend them.

Fall of Giants, Ken Follett

I liked it. It’s the first book in a trilogy. This first book takes place during WWI. It’s pretty history-intense, and the personal plots are a little thin, in my humble opinion. It didn’t compare to either Pillars of the Earth or World Without End in the way they captured my attention, but I did finish it and I will try the second book in the trilogy when its released.

Dirty Sexy Politics, Meghan McCain

This was a really fun non-fiction book. It’s the story of the daughter of John McCain’s experiences during the 2008 campaign. She’s a young American who is fairly disenfranchised with the Republican party. She thinks the party could use some energy and needs to try harder to keep up with the issues of the young people in this country. I like some of her ideas, and it was really fun to get a sneak peak into what happened behind the scenes and her take on the political process, and her view of Sarah Palin. I highly recommend this book.

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

My friend Molly insisted I read this book.  She's a avid reader like I am, and I've loved every book she's recommended.  I read the synopsis of this book many months ago, and decided against it.  But when Molly pressured me, I agreed to try again.  I read a lot of books…many of which I enjoy. But it’s been a long time since I read a book that I could not put down.  I was horrified at the subject matter, but there was no way I could stop reading it; and I can’t wait to read the next book, Catching Fire. There are evidently parallels to the world we live in today, but to me they are not obvious, so I'd love to discuss this in a book club someday.

Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

Ugh. Couldn’t do it. Partially because I was coming off the intensity of the previously mentioned book, but it was a total bore. I read the first 70 pages before I quit. I don’t get what the hype was over this book...I thought it was very laborious to read, and the reward wasn't worth it.

I'm currently reading Sold by by Patricia McCormick, for an online book club.  I'm a third of the way through and will give you my thoughts when I finish it.

I recently thought of a book I read a long time ago, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It’s such a good read. If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend this as well.

On reserve for me at the library are Catching Fire and Mockingjay (the second two books in The Hunger Games trilogy), Ape House by Sara Gruen (author of Water for Elephants, which I adored -- read it if you haven't!), Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman, The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (a recommendation from my friend Krista, another avid reader), and The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:8-12

Saturday, December 18, 2010

He learned how to play...

...Uno.  And now, that's all we do around here. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Family Guy

I was reminded on facebook today about a story I really need to write down and remember.

Matty was about two and a half; Jack was a baby.  It was a Sunday evening in the fall; we had been watching the Vikings game, but it had ended.  I was in the kitchen, baking, and Cory was playing on the dining room floor with Jack.  I suddenly noticed that Matty was standing next to the recliner, leaning into it with his elbow intently watching an episode of Family Guy that had come on after the game.

I freaked out.
"Cory!  Change the channel!  Look what Matty's watching!"

Matthew sauntered into the kitchen, looks at me and says, "Mommy!  Me and Poppa watch this show when you're not here!"

Uh huh.  Really?  Cory and I exchanged some glances (mine, furious; his; embarassed).

A couple hours later, I was on the computer downstairs.  Matty clearly wasn't done talking about it.  He stood next to my desk, put his hand on his hips and said:

"Mommy.  When you're here, you change the channel.  When Poppa's here, we watch that show.  OKAY?" 

I had to tell him, behind my hands to hide my laughter, that he wasn't the boss and that show is never appropriate for children.

He crossed his arms, gave me a "hmph" and stormed out.

It hasn't happened again.  Now that he's old enough to tattle.  :D

Sharing the Love: Peanut Butter Bark

This is Cory 's (and my) new favorite holiday treat.  It's so super easy and totally delicious.  Try it!

1 lb almond bark
1 c peanut butter
1 c peanuts
1 c rice krispies

Melt almond bark and peanut butter and mix together until smooth.  Pour in bowl over peanuts and rice krispies.  Mix well.  Pour onto wax paper until cool. Break into pieces.


Friday, December 10, 2010

And the Traditions Winner is... childhood friend and dear cousin, Liz!  Watch your mail, girl!

I wish I could send each and every one of you something special for sharing your holiday traditions and memories with me.  It was absolutely positively my favorite blog post ever.  I will go back and read those over and over.  Advent calendars, holiday food, the anticipation and excitement...delicious.  Thank you a thousand times over for sharing!

For those of you who commented on my blog for the first time, thank you.  It was a delight to hear from you...feel free to comment anytime!

I wish you a blessed holiday with nothing but happiness and love.  And tradition.  God bless.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


This drawing has been postponed until tomorrow.  Momma had a crazy busy day.  Thanks for understanding!

Don't forget to comment on this post to be entered for my Christmas gift giveaway tomorrow.  What's the prize, you ask?  I have absolutely no idea.  Something I love at the holidays.  To be revealed tomorrow (I hope you sleep tonight in anticipation!).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sharing the Love: Beef Stew

I had to blog about this one.  For me.  I make it once a month or so and every single time, I have to call my mother.  I can never remember how long to simmer the stew, or how many potatoes to use.  Meals without a recipe are really my favorite to prepare.  But since I love it so much and want to share it with you, I am going to attempt to write it down. 

Beef Stew:

2 T olive oil
1 lb stew meat
1 medium onion
2 - 3 beef boullion cubes
6 - 8 c water
3 - 4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 - 2, carrots sliced or cubed
Seasoning salt
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste

Cut beef into bite-sized pieces.  Season liberally with seasoned salt (I love the Tastefully Simple variety, but Lawrys will do just fine!). 

In large stock pot, heat olive oil.  Add stew meat to pot.  Once browned, add the onions and allow it them to cook for another five minutes or so.  The longer you brown your meat, the darker your stew will be.  I suggest browing it until its almost burned.

Once onions and meat are browned to your satisfaction, add six - eight cups of water to your stockpot (about half full).  Bring to a boil and add beef boullion cubes and bay leaves.  Cover, reduce heat, and continue to simmer for an hour and 15 minutes.   Check the pot periodically to make sure its not reduced greatly.  Feel free to add more water if it is.

After it simmers, add carrots and potatoes and cook for another 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.  Mix the flour with half a cup of water (I shake it in a closed Tupperware), and add to the stew, to thicken.  Stir until its to your desired consistency. You can always add more flour/water mixture if its too thin.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remember to remove bay leaves before serving.

I recommend serving with homemade flat bread!


Thursday, December 2, 2010


I love traditions.  I love love love traditions.  I've been compiling a list of some of my favorites.  I'll be sending a Christmas gift, in a random drawing, to someone on December 8...all you have to do is share one of your favorite traditions -- holiday or otherwise.

My mother used to make Betty Crocker blueberry muffins.  Warm, with a dab of butter, they taste like my childhood. She also used to make caramel rolls on Saturday morning, and cool them on a flattened brown grocery bag.  We'd have them for breakfast on Saturday, and also on Sunday morning.  Oh, how I loved those caramel rolls.

My dad always brought my mom a poinsettia on Christmas and an lily on Easter.  It always made her cry.  I love that memory so much; I've been adding both plants to my holiday table.

My dad didn't like getting up early and rushing before church on Christmas morning.  So, while we went to my Grandma K.'s on Christmas Eve, Santa would come to our house.  My dad would take the "long way" home from town, and we'd be jumping out of our excited skin the whole way.  We'd walk in to loads of gifts Santa had left.  My dad would take his time starting a fire, and my mom would mix some punch (7-Up and green sherbet).  Then we'd do the whole hurrah that night.  In the night, so that we'd have something to wake up to, Santa would come back and fill up our stockings.  Ah, love.  That is a most cherished memory.

Now that I have kids of my own, we've been building our own. Because of shared custody of Cole, we've had to be creative.  We have him Christmas Eve, and Kelly has him Christmas Day.  So, the past couple years, we've had a wonderful family Christmas on December 23.  We go see a movie, have a special dinner (complete with eclairs) and Santa visits us that night, so that we have our own Christmas morning as a family.  I bake a strata and it's a delightful, wonderful holiday with tradition all our own.  We spend either Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with Cory's or vice versa, depending on the year.  But, always, Christmas morning, we go to Christmas Mass with my inlaws.  The liturgy of a Catholic service fills my heart with the real reason we celebrate this holiday and I find, every year, I am so thankful for all of it.  The love, family, and tradition.  I hope my kids remember theirs as fondly as I remember all of mine.

Enjoy the season, my friends!

Sharing the Love: Peanut Butter Temptations

Just in time for the holidays, my guiltiest pleasure.  These cookies are so good.  Peanut blossoms, shmeanut shlossoms.  These are WAY better. 

I got this recipe from my friend Jill a few years ago, and its really the best cookie.  It's soft and moist, not hard and crunchy.  Today, when I was making these, I realized that the Reese's recipe on the candy package is very similar to this one.  Please do yourself a favor this holiday season and make these babies.  You won't regret it. 

Peanut Butter Temptations:

1 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 bags of mini peanut butter cups

In mixing bowl, beat butter, sugars, eggs, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.

Cover and chill dough.

Roll into walnut-sized balls.  Roll balls in sugar, if desired.  Place in lightly-greased mini-muffin tin. 

Bake at 375 for 8 - 9 minutes.  Immediately after taking out of oven, gently press one peanut butter cup into each cookie.  Cool for 10 or 15 minutes minimum before removing from the muffin tin onto cooling rack to cool.